The fact that bravery & strength are seen as ‘masculine’ traits, & being neurotic is seen as being a ‘feminine’ one. Indeed, I was watching a TV show about battle tanks recently, & the male presenter said that the Russians had women driving tanks. He went on to say something to the effect of how these women must’ve been strong, because driving the tanks is a ‘muscular commitment’. As much as I like the presenter, that comment still put my nose out of joint a bit- why is the idea of being strong & muscular when you’re female such an weird concept? The fact that it’s assumed that only straight men like things like cars, motorbikes & the like, & shows & magazines about them have straight male presenters & writers who address their audiences accordingly. The fact that the stereotype of the woman only being interested in a man because of the size of his wallet still exists, not to mention the notion of the man earning all the money & his female partner spending it all.
My husband and I were at a video game themed bar. Husband wanted to know about a drink on the menu with bourbon and lots of other “manly” ingredients. The waiter sang the drink’s praises and said it was the best drink on the menu. He sold it so well, I told him I’d order that too. His entire demeanor changed instantly. “Now this is a *strong* drink…” “Not everyone has a taste for it…” Blah blah blah. I was pissed, because I could tell exactly what he was doing. I just smiled and told him I knew I would like it. To be honest, I just hadn’t seen the drink on the menu before my husband asked about it and the ingredients were right up my alley. I tried to explain to my husband the overt sexism but at first he told me perhaps I was just reading into it. That’s the most frustrating part of these sorts of “minor” things. People don’t notice and can’t understand how being treated that way would feel vaguely threatening or at least alienating if they were in your shoes. He did eventually come around the more he thought about it though. In the past, at the same bar, I’ve asked if they have light beer, as in, I wanted to know if my choice would be Bud Light or some other brand, but had the waiter interpret that as girly-tasting beer like fruit beer. The funniest part is, my husband hated the drink and I loved it so much, I finished his for him too. It was a total “old man in his study smoking a pipe” drink, like sipping a mouthful of cigars. My husband likes drinks lighter and sweeter, the kind people like that waiter expect girls to order. I’m not even sure why he ordered that one in the first place.
Just seen the ad for the latest Dyson vacuum cleaner on TV. It consisted of women doing the vacuuming with the aforementioned vacuum cleaner, with their kiddies around them. Because of course only women do housework & look after the kiddies, right?
The fact that if you’re a woman in a male-dominated occupation or a woman who does something like boxing or footy, then you get assumptions made about you. Whether you’re a lesbian or not & whether you’re ‘one of the lads’ are 2 such examples. Another annoyance is having your appearance commented on as opposed to how good you are at whatever it is you’re doing- moronic stuff to the effect of “that Janet is well tasty- she has lovely tits, a fit body & lovely legs”, while not saying a word about how good she is at boxing, footy or whatever, while men don’t get that. Men do get the former, however- I remember an acquaintance saying that a male friend of his who was a dancer got the piss taken out of him in the pub once by some idiot man over his occupation, & a male MasterChef Australia contestant got stick off his father for wanting to be a chef on the grounds that in their culture (he was oriental), cooking was the job of the females (says who?!). This is equally unacceptable. Another related thing that annoys me is when people assume that only straight men are interested in things like cars & motorbikes, & refer to them as ‘boys’ toys’.
I was in our local shop today, & I saw a wedding anniversary card with a picture on the front of a man & a woman doing the washing up- very sort of olde-worlde-type artwork- that said “on your anniversary, remember that the secret to a long & happy marriage is teamwork & compromise…”. What’s wrong with that, I hear you cry? When you open the card, it says something to the effect of “…and doing things her way!”. Yet another fail from the greetings card industry, & yet another tired ‘wife joke’. I’m fed up to the back teeth with those. Why the industry persists in producing either sexist cards like that, which make women & wives the butt of the joke, or else cards that are hugely gendered- footy (or other stereotypically ‘male’ activities like cars & drinking beer) cards for men & boys & pink, flowery cards for women & girls I really don’t know.
The fact that being terrified of mice to the point where you scream shrilly, have hysterics & jump on a chair when you see one (either alive or dead) seems to be a common female stereotype, & the fact that some women & girls play up to it adds insult to injury. I’m sure that there are men who are terrified of mice, & women who aren’t (I’m not overly bothered by mice, & I’ve never screamed when I’ve seen one). Indeed, I mentioned a man in a previous post who screamed when he saw a rat, & someone who’d been with him at the time- depressingly, it was a woman- said that he ‘screamed like a girl’ when he saw the aforementioned rat. I rest my case.
I was watching Nadiya (Hussain, who won Bake Off a few years ago)’s Great British Food Adventure just now, & alas came across a bit of casual sexism. Nadiya was making a curry, & was doing a super-speedy version. She commented to the effect of how when she cooks this dish at home, she usually does enough for more than one meal. Fair enough, you might think. It was what she said next was where the sexism started. She said something to the effect of how she usually makes the paste & leaves it for when she can trust her husband to cook, on the grounds that not eve he can mess that up. WTF?! Just because he has a penis, it doesn’t mean he can’t cook, & will screw up any dish he DOES try & cook! And cooking isn’t strictly the preserve of women either! Blimey O’Reilly! And this was broadcast on the BBC in 2017, if you please.
Have come across some nice examples of casual sexism recently: -I was in our local shop today in the toy section, & saw 2 boxes that said something along the lines of ‘Girls Building Blocks’ on them. One of them was, yep, you’ve guessed it, bright pink, & the other one featured 2 Lego-esque figures sitting at a table. -I was in the post office recently, & saw a gift tag for a baby boy, which had a pair of blue shoes/bootees on. I think the writing was also in blue. -I was in another shop today, & I saw a card that said ‘x (I forget how many) reasons why a pair of shoes is better than a man’. It gave such ‘reasons’ as “you can have as many as you like without people gossiping” & “if you don’t like them (or words to that effect) you can get your money back”. This is sexist on several grounds. 1- it’s pandering to lazy gender stereotypes about how all women supposedly like to buy shoes, & 2- it’s sexist to men too- just as sexist as the ‘why beer is better than a woman’ card, in fact. -I’ve also seen a cookery book in the same shop mentioned above entitled ‘Cakes for Men & Boys’. WTF?!
I found this nice bit of casual sexism on a car maintenance forum: “I drive a 1984 oldsmoblie as my everyday driver. Being a female, I’m pretty clueless about cars.” WTF?! Being female doesn’t make you automatically (no pun intended) clueless about cars! I’m sure there are a lot of female mechanics/car enthusiasts who would disagree strongly with that assertion! A depressing example of ingrained sexism & gender stereotyping. A
So I’ve always been a fan of Lego until they bought out their pink and ludicrously rubbish Friends range, aimed at girls because of course, they have no imagination and only like pastel colours. One would have thought that they might have learnt from that experience. At the moment, when you shop at Sainsburys, you are given lego cards which you can collect and put in an album (which naturally you have to buy). My kids went wild for them, as usually the most they get from me at the shops in the form of a treat is a punnet of fruit. They annoyed me a bit, as there was the usual bargaining and trading over them and then the badgering of when we could get some more began. I am naturally inclined to recoil from anything that promotes empty consumerism, so I wasn’t totally embracing them, but I started to notice that all the female characters seemed to be a little bland – of course there was going to be the Fairytale Princess and the Mermaid – but there were just no solid roles unlike the male characters who were doing exciting roles or jobs (Butcher, Prospector, Ringmaster, Mountain Climber) rather than just being (Cave woman, Spooky Girl, Flamenco Dancer, Wacky Witch, Trendsetter (?), Disco Viva). Ok so they had a Waiter and a Diner Waitress and they had a nurse (obviously female) and what they called a ‘lady robot’ which was naturally (?) pink and could dance. I’m not sure there is a ‘man robot’ or even a ‘robot’ – not holding my breath either way. And they had a Jewel Thief who was female – yay! Small victory! And a Skater Girl – why could it not just be a Skater? who happened to be female? Maybe there is a Skater Boy coming….. along with the ‘Man Robot’… But then I thought, I’m just being overly cynical and need to allow my kids to enjoy these things without me pointing out to them that they are being conditioned and stereotyped into certain roles by the patriarchal society that we live in. And then we got the BRIDE – and I just wanted to cry. Why are we so desperate to start encouraging our girls to aspire to be brides, rather than doing amazing wonderful things and having incredible relationships. Yes it is a wonderful thing to be married, but it is not a decision that needs much attention at the the age of 8 and where was the equivalent groom character ? Maybe there is one, but I suspect not. And the description – ‘She’s all dressed up for her big day! All she needs now is someone to marry. A minor detail….’ It reminded me of a Harvest Festival Service that my kids were involved in last year, where the basic premise of the story was that God took pity on the widow Ruth, because she had no husband and when she grovelled enough, God gave her an 80 year old husband – ok he was rich, but is that really the message I want my kids to hear? If you don’t have a husband you need pity? So back to the point, I just can’t quite believe that they have got it so wrong – again. Girls need aspirations – and they don’t all like pink.