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.
Nice bit of casual sexism in a TV programme sponsorship message from Rachel’s (a British purveyor of organic dairy products): “Rachel’s, loved by Eva, who promised to clean the kitchen before the in-laws came”, with a lady sitting eating yoghurt with cleaning utensils sitting abandoned beside her. Because of course cleaning is the woman’s job, isn’t it? No stereotyping there then! Another sponsorship message from the same company features a man who’d promised to put up new shelves in the kitchen neglecting to do so in favour of eating yoghurt. Because of course only men can do DIY, right?
I logged into my computer just now to find an ad for Microsoft Groove on my login screen, & saw to my annoyance that there was a nice bit of casual sexism in it: “Free your inner child with Microsoft Groove. Entertain your crew with music for ‘kids’ of all ages. Rock music for Dads, check. Disney hits for everyone, done. You’re road-trip ready for great music adventures with Microsoft Groove. Browse family listening playlists.” Because OF COURSE only men like rock music, right?! Enough with the gender stereotyping already- I’m female, & I like rock music, as do several other women I know! Microsoft, I expected better from you.
I was in the post office today, & I saw a greetings card that said something to the effect of ‘5 reasons why wine is better than a man/why women prefer wine to men’ (you get the idea). One ‘reason’ was “wine matures with age”, & another one was “you don’t have to reassure a glass of wine that it’s the best wine you’ve ever had” & another one was “if you don’t want a glass of wine, it won’t think you’re a lesbian”. I forget what the other 2 were. I thought this was just as sexist & unnecessary as the “why beer is better than a woman” (or whatever) card that’s aimed at men. It’s stereotypical, & depicts all men as immature idiots.
I was at our local garden centre yesterday, & they had a load of stuff for Christmas in. One of these consisted of stuff from a company that seemed to be aimed at men (I forget the exact name, but it had the word ‘chap’ in it), & there was some pretty blatant sexism & gender stereotyping involved. One was a plaque which seemed to imply that men can’t cook, as it said things along the lines of ‘a medal is required for doing the cooking’, & a caption to the effect of how the man doing the cooking can’t do more than boil an egg. I considered this to be not only lazy gender stereotyping but sexist as well. There are lots of men who can cook, & there may well be men who do the bulk of the cooking at home, & who cook better than their wives & girlfriends, for that matter! The phrase ‘eat your heart out, Penny Lancaster’ (she stated fairly recently that cooking makes men less masculine) passed my lips when I saw that plaque. Another plaque that this company produced that I considered to be sexist was one that said ‘football watching in progress’ or something to that effect on it. I can’t remember everything that was written on it, but one thing that sticks out in my memory is ‘no girly movies’. Oh, the poor put-upon husband/boyfriend, being in danger of having his footy viewing interrupted by his wife/girlfriend wanting to watch a film! Because OF COURSE women don’t watch football, do they, & OF COURSE they only like ‘girly’ films! Newsflash, sexist company- some men can & do cook, some men don’t like football & some women DO like football! Needless to say I didn’t buy any of this sexist company’s products, & I suggest that any readers here don’t either.
I came across a nice bit of casual sexism today, in the form of gendered gifts in the Boots Christmas catalogue. There’s a ‘For Her’ & a ‘For Him’ section in it, & predictably, there’s a lot of pink in the ‘for her’ section, while there are darker colours in the ‘for him’ section. The ‘for her’ section also features things like scented candles (because obviously only women use scented candles), hand cream (because obviously only women use hand cream), hair-styling equipment like hair straighteners & hair dryers (because obviously men don’t use such things), a unicorn cup (because obviously only women like unicorns), a teapot with pink roses on it (because obviously only women drink tea- that’d be news to my father, who drinks tea, while my mother doesn’t- & only women like pink), makeup (because of course only women wear makeup) & other things with pastel/flowery themes (because only women like that sort of thing, evidently). The ‘for him’ section features such things as Glenlivet whisky & a World Lager Selection (because OBVIOUSLY only men drink whisky & lager!), a burgers book (because obviously only men eat burgers), a black leather wallet (because of course only men use black leather wallets), a Captain America Civil War DVD (because of course women don’t like American superhero films featuring comic book characters), an Odeon gift card (because of course only men like going to the cinema), a remote-controlled Land Rover (because of course only men like Land Rovers- that’d be news to my mother & another woman I know who’s very keen on Land Rovers- & remote-controlled cars) & various other things perceived as being ‘manly’. I don’t know what Boots are thinking- this is 2016, for God’s sake, not 1956, so enough with the bloody gender stereotyping already!
My cousin was talking today about his experiences as a former owner of a model railway shop. He said that there are quite a few female model railway enthusiasts, & it was mainly little girls who’d stop outside the shop window & watch the toy trains going round the track. Alas, these poor little girls would more often than not be dragged away by their mothers (!), who would proceed to tell them that ‘that was for boys’, or words to that effect. My cousin expressed his annoyance at this, to his credit, & I agreed with him! I don’t know what I find more dispiriting, the fact that this casual sexism was perpetrated by women- & women who were supposed to be setting an example to the next generation, for that matter, the fact that these mothers are indoctrinating their daughters young, shaming them about the fact that they like so-called ‘boys toys’ & not encouraging their interests or the fact that gender stereotypes were being reinforced. I hope to goodness that these little girls stuck to their guns & carried on liking trains & model railways, & didn’t let the adults around them discourage them. Because heaven forbid little girls should like model railways & toy trains, right?
Just watching an episode of Yes, Chef (a cooking show where 4 home cooks compete to work with a pro chef), & in this particular episode, a male contestant did a rather large Scotch egg as part of his dish. The male pro chef, Bryn Williams, made some comment about how the dish is going to be a “man’s dish”. Because of course it’s only men who are capable of eating big plates of food, isn’t it, while we ladies eat delicate plates of salad?! I’m sure that there are women who have large appetites, & men who have tiny ones. This gender stereotyping is getting out of hand- it’s really stupid.