So what’s with the use of “Jane” as a universal signifier for femaleness?
First instance, the “Be Janes” who appeared at BlogHer last year. They were representatives of an online home improvement community on Windows LiveSpaces. Their marketing pitch was a bad match for the conference, and most of the attendees disliked them – but what struck me was the name Jane. The two women are not named Jane in real life. They are named Heidi and Eden. Why do they go around pretending their names are Jane?
Second instance, found through their ad in Gmail: Being Jane. From their About Us page:
Being Jane is an explosive online community dedicated to shattering the preconceived notions of women in society and the evolving roles that women are forced to play. Founded by Kelly Smith in 2004, Being Jane provides access to advice, mentoring, support and a compendium of women-related information that leverages the experiences of women who have achieved non-traditionally female goals by actualizing their authentic beliefs and desires. Being Jane is committed to redefining the idea of feminism to symbolize women coming together to raise the bar, embrace the vitality of being a woman and champion the connection to future generations.
The website menu options include Are You a Jane? and Talk With Other Janes. How do you shatter preconceptions by evoking the epitome of 50’s girlhood? And why does a redefined feminism mean we all have the same name?
Third instance, the See Jane program founded by Geena Davis. It’s a project to improve gender portrayals in children’s media. For this, the Jane name makes more sense due to its origin in children’s books.
However, isn’t the Jane reference a little… kitschy? And, y’know, white?