Tag Archives: gender roles

A random and unidentified visit

I had a random (and anonymous) comment left on my blog quite recently, and thought I’d share it all with you.  It’s on my “Roses only… more like sexist only” blog post.

The commenter said:

Bec, it’s just an ad… get over it.
They’re not playing into anything, they’re doing a good job at selling their product.
I’m sure if you were trying to sell lots of your over-priced flowers you’d be trying to do whatever it takes to get people to buy them too.

Continue reading A random and unidentified visit

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Greenwing – a TV series to watch

I don’t know how many people who read this blog have watched Greenwing, but I’m currently rewatching it with my house guest and it is such an awesome – and very wrong – TV series.  I don’t want to spoil anyone who hasn’t watched it, so this post will be quite brief.  One thing I wanted to point out about the series is it’s interesting critiques on gender roles.  The show is set in a hospital, and the characters are either doctors or administrative staff in the hospital.  Thankfully not all the doctors are men, and although for the most part the staff in HR are women – that’s not too far away from reality.  The gender of the character is important in relation to the stereotype they are assigned to play, but whether the character is admin or professional is irrelevant.

You have the competitive, objectifier of women who believes that you have to, “play them mean to keep them keen”, and who really doesn’t understand people or emotions at all.  You have the mouse who is frightened of everything and is cowed by his more aggressive male colleagues, who he just wants to be like.  You have the man who wants to be powerful and sometimes thinks he is, but is generally disliked by everyone because he’s either sleazy, incompetent, offensive or exceedingly eccentric (and sometimes all at once).  You have the character who is affable, well liked, sometimes rude, generally caring and who isn’t particularly open about how they feel.  You have the boyish character who likes to challenge authority, loves a joke, loves supporting those who needs it and is sexually voracious (which is completely fine in the series).  You have the IT guy who is cute, charming and wanted by everyone.

You have the slightly eccentric, but well meaning woman who doesn’t know what she wants exactly, but has an idea and is willing to experiment a little to find out more.  You have the female equivalent mouse character.  You have the woman who is lovely but stressed with her personal life and keeping track of her children.  You have the sexually voracious and generally nice character who likes to be silly (in fact all of HR are silly) and whose sexual nature isn’t an issue.  You have the fat woman who at one stage is picked on by the objectifier and who tells him to “fuck off” (oh and he’s a little scared of her too), she’s also happy with her body and her attractiveness.  There is the scheming, eccentric and rude woman who is one of the best characters on the show.  The perfect woman who everyone aspires to be – beautiful, competent, intelligent, cheerful and always perfect.  There is the rude, sleazy, incompetent, offensive and really wrong character who makes me cringe every time I see her on screen – though she does it SO well.

Extra internet points if you can name all the characters I’ve described in order.

I love this series.  It has many moments of wrong, but is beautifully written, fantastically directed, has an awesome cast and makes me laugh every time I watch it.

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It’s not very funny

There was this joke I read on a website (which isn’t known for being friendly to women), and it wasn’t at all funny.  Here it is (emphasis all mine):

A woman, wearing a sleeveless sun dress, walked into a Bar in Dublin.
She raised her right arm, revealing a huge, hairy armpit as she pointed to all the people sitting at the bar and asked, ‘What man here will buy a lady a drink?’

Down at the end of the bar, an old drunk slammed his hand down on the counter and bellowed ‘Give the ballerina a drink!’

The bartender poured the drink and the woman drunk it. She turned again pointed around at all of them, revealing the same hairy armpit, and asked, ‘What man here will buy a lady a drink?’

Once again, the same little drunk shouted ‘Give the ballerina another drink!’

The bartender approached the drunk and said ‘Tell me, Paddy, it’s your business if you want to buy the lady a drink, but why do you keep calling her a ballerina?’

The drunk replied, ‘Any woman who can lift her leg that high has got to be a ballerina!’

This joke relies to two things to make it funny – the confusion suffered by a drunk man about what he was looking at – armpits and pubic mounds totally the same, and the fact that women with hairy armpits (or “huge, hairy armpit[s]”) are gross and revolting and no one but a drunk man would buy such a woman a drink.

The joke isn’t funny as far as I am concerned.  Hairy armpits are fine, there is nothing wrong with them, and how they’d be huge… can you have huge armpits?… I’m not sure.  This joke is one in a million others which reinforces crap beauty and gender myths about what it is to be a beautiful woman.  This joke is one in a million of others which reinforces gender conformity and beauty conformity.

I call bullshit.

Be beautiful.  Love your body for it is beautiful.  It gets you from here to there (most of the time), helps you feel good (much of the time) and is gorgeous.  Be beautiful in your own way.  Don’t ascribe to society’s fucked up view of what makes a woman beautiful.  You are gorgeous.

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Losing “female” skills

I was quite staggered today to read an incredibly sexist piece by Helen Pow in a News Ltd paper titled, “Generation Y women losing ‘female’ skills such as cooking, ironing and sewing“.  Apparently if you are female and don’t know how to make lamingtons, darn socks, sew hems or iron your clothes, then you’re not a proper woman. *faints*

Research by McCrindle Research, a demographic and generational (and perhaps other things) research company has found that:

Only 51 per cent of women aged under 30 can cook a roast compared with 82 per cent of baby boomers.

Baking lamingtons is a dying art with 20 per cent of Gen Y capable of whipping up the Aussie classic, down from 45 per cent for previous generations.

Traditional skills outside the kitchen are falling by the wayside with Gen Y women woefully behind their older counterparts, the study by McCrindle Research found. Only 23 per cent can grow a plant from a cutting when 78 per cent of older women say this is a breeze.

Driving manual cars is also on the decline with just 40 per cent of women under 30 possessing this skill compared to 71 per cent of older women.

Hold the phone, call the government, something is clearly wrong with the young of Australia, because these essential feminine skills are in decline, the world is going to end… quick, get Wonder Woman in quickly to fix the problem.

Seriously is this a problem or a slow news day article?  I’m not surprised that News Ltd ran with it, hardly the bastion of progressive feminism, and then I did a little digging on Helen Pow, to see what else she’s written.  Turns out that she reports quite a bit on women, so I thought I’d have a quick look at a few of her pieces from January 2010, given they were the easiest to find on Google News.

From 10 January, “Fewer women in management jobs“, providing fact but not much else, about the overall decline of women in management roles, but brought with it this good news bit:

The EOWA report has, however, revealed that the gender pay gap dropped over the year — from 18 percent to about 16.9 percent — and that the proportion of female chief executives had increased slightly, from 10.6 percent to 10.8 percent.

From 30 January, “Firms face scrutiny for gender gap“, another good news story regarding the compulsory reporting for businesses with over 100 staff being identified more actively (by the Tax Office) and then being required to provide hard statistics regarding gender equity.  The article doesn’t actually provide much information about what the companies will be required to report, what has been reported already by companies that are meeting their obligations and what is hoped from the whole experience overall.

THE Australian Taxation Office will hand over previously confidential information to catch out nearly 1500 firms that are shirking their obligation to report on gender equality in the workplace.

Minister for Women Kate Ellis is also overhauling firms’ reporting requirements.

Companies with more than 100 employees are required to report to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) each year on what they are doing to boost the number of women in senior positions and close the gender pay gap in their workplace.

But Ms Ellis said businesses could no longer pay lip service to the rules by providing meaningless dialogue. Hard statistics would be required, she said.

“Businesses can no longer hide behind ineffective programs or policies. Under the new system, businesses will have to report on clear and meaningful outcomes for women in the workplace.”

And again on 30 January, “Women’s folly as a bloke boss“, an article about how female managers shouldn’t act like male managers because that’s bad (for insufficiently defined reasons):

WOMEN who want to get ahead at work should resist acting like a man, researchers are claiming. Instead of behaving aggressively in the workplace, women should display feminine traits such as listening to others and self-monitor more threatening or bossy behaviour.

The study by the British Psychological Society also found female managers who aren’t feminine are less likeable and have a smaller chance of getting promoted – a finding supported by Jasmine Sliger, an organisational psychologist who has advised Macquarie Group, ANZ and AMP.

She said women with an interactional style of leadership would get ahead quicker than women who act in a stereotypical male way.

That advice above is in constant flux in the workplace, act like a man to get ahead and be respected (which usually means act confident, loud, talk yourself up, aggressively pursue opportunities, etc) and then act like a woman to be respected (listen, don’t be loud, play nice, etc).  Clearly no one is talking to anyone else about this, and it’d be nice if it all were a meritocracy (which it isn’t) and that merit based promotion always existed.  My advice, act the way that works best for you in that workplace.

[UPDATE: I woke up this morning remembering my management studies, and thinking how nice it would be if an article covered the best management styles and didn’t gender them.  That way we’d get good female and male managers with the most appreciated management styles.]

Ok, back to the original topic of this post – gender roles.  How about we start at the point that traditional gender roles, for the most part, are a lot shit.  How about instead of saying, “But the wimminz, they isn’t baking/sewing/gardening enoughs”, we talk about all the things that women are now doing, all the traditionally male fields that women are now working in and succeeding.  How about we talk about all the things that men are now doing, all the traditionally female fields that men are now working in and succeeding.  How about we talk about the change in society being a positive thing for everyone, as Gen Y, Gen Z, and even my Gen X, have so much more choice than the Baby Boomers did, and all the awesome things that everyone can now do.  Or, we could talk about how Gen Y being time poor and relatively affluent has resulted in the creation of niche businesses that didn’t exist before because women had time to do all that stuff.  There are so many more positive stories than “But “female” skills are diminishing” and it’d be a lot more interesting to read that.

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Science Fiction women who kick arse

NOTE: This post will be discussing female science fiction characters and their roles.  Therefore they may be spoilers for those who haven’t seen these shows/films.  It will also be discussing violence which may be triggering.

I was thinking today about Kara Thrace, better known as Starbuck, from the remake of Battlestar Galactia (of which I’ve only watched the first season), and the episode Flesh and Bone from season one in which she oversees/participates in the torture of a Cylon spy.  And I was thinking that typically women tend to fill the same gender roles in science fiction as they’re expected to in current day society, and those that don’t tend to be on the receiving end of a lot of hate.

I don’t condone violence, but I know that I’m fully capable of it if I thought that it was required.  I don’t think that torture is actually a way to get information from anyone, but I can understand the desperation that existed in that episode for another woman (the President) to order the Cylon to be tortured.  I do not condone torture in any way, I want to make that REALLY clear.

Continue reading Science Fiction women who kick arse

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