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feminist ear

one of the things that i consider to be a large part of being a feminist, for me, is to be able to see through, or understand, when sexism crops up in literature or television, or really in any public forum, any medium. a fine example of this is that this morning i was listening to the radio, and there was a CVS ad on; the ad went something like this: "blah blah blah ... CVS pharmacists are obsessed with perfection! blah blah blah ... if you're a mom, you know what we mean." I wish I could remember the complete ad text, because I think in context it made more sense, but that's all I can remember... and I think it's obvious enough. I was immediately sickened that they would completely and totally ascribe childcare to the mother and marginalize the father in such a simple and deceptively innocent statement. I know that some people think it's stupid to get worked up about something so small, but as far as I am concerned, every time that ad airs it sets another brick onto the wall stopping progress in gender politics. Somewhere, someone is hearing that and having their feelings on gender roles reinforced or formed, conciously or subconciously. I suppose some people might not even hear the sexism in that statement; I guess that's exactly why I consider myself a feminist.

Off to write an angry email.

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( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
cmdrhobbes
Jun. 25th, 2002 07:08 am (UTC)
Realize that the target audience generally enforces the gender stereotypes themselves quite well without external interference.

Let's use my family as an example: I have a three-year-old boy who dresses up in dinosaur clothes and plays hockey. I have a four-month-old girl who dresses up in, well, dresses, has her ears pierced, wears a bracelet and a necklace.

I continually harp on my wife about how she's dooming the girl to the gender stereotypes that pervade the world, and her response is 'so?'
snidegrrl
Jun. 25th, 2002 07:20 am (UTC)
I do confess to being a little surprised to see her ears pierced when I saw you guys this weekend! But as feminist as I am, usually I'm pretty tolerant of what people do in their personal spheres. I mean, a pretty dress is one thing. I confess though, that if I was a parent and my son wanted to wear a skirt or something, I'd be like, "sure honey, go right ahead!" I also would probably avoid the pinks and blues, or purposely switch them up to point out to people how absurd the whole thing is. Of course, not everyone appreciates the idea of child as minor social experiment. :-/ And you know what? If I ever DO have a daughter, you can bet she'll be a card carrying young republican with long blonde hair and want to play with Barbie and use tons of makeup. That's the way things go.

That said, I totally realize that the majority of the western world out there would probably do a fine job of keeping the status quo much like the ad I heard this morning. But that's why I try to make alot of noise about it and get people thinking; unfortunately, *my* audience is usually people who already have the message. I consider most of my friends enlightened.
snidegrrl
Jun. 25th, 2002 07:22 am (UTC)
That sounded really bad. I hope no one out there who's my friend who is reading this is sitting there thinking, "oh shit, fine, i wonder if i am one of the friends kim DOESN'T think is enlightened???"
martinhesselius
Jun. 25th, 2002 08:34 am (UTC)
Heh. I work hard to avoid Enlightenment. ;)
snidegrrl
Jun. 26th, 2002 01:17 am (UTC)
Pshaw! Not hard enough, apparently!
tommx
Jun. 25th, 2002 07:27 am (UTC)
interesting...the other day i had a conversation with some people about how healthcare marginalizes the father's role in child development. this was in reaction to an NPR story that i'd heard regarding benefits for men that would allow them to take paternity leave. while the benefits do exist at some companies, men are tacitly discouraged from using them as it sends the message to the upper management that this person is not devoted enough to the company and is consequently passed up for promotion. (the idea being that's what the womenfolk are for) sad commentary in my opinion.
snidegrrl
Jun. 25th, 2002 08:22 am (UTC)
i somewhat have the attitude that, hey, that's what we get for living in a profit-driven capitalist society, and not a community-driven one. however, i'm a ridiculous idealist, and i also recognize the benefits of capitalism... (before anyone jumps down my throat for that little socialist commentary)
tommx
Jun. 25th, 2002 08:28 am (UTC)
if anyone were going to jump down your throat for socialist commentary, it's not going to be me, i assure you. in another era, i'd be on the blacklist, guilty by association for the most part.



(Deleted comment)
snidegrrl
Jun. 25th, 2002 08:28 am (UTC)
This is exactly why I feel it has to be combatted on ALL levels - because the more people have a more non-gender-specific attitude about childrearing, or just about anything, the less likely it is that someone who can actually have an effect on your life can suggest, cajole, or force you to do something that reinforces those pigeonholes.

In regards to your particular situation, it sounds like at least the lactation consultant was trying to encourage you to bond with your baby... I'm willing to bet that that's a more enlightened view than many people have. And of course, we can all be thankful that we've come a long way, baby, as it were. S/he probably meant well.

Heck, I didn't even know there was such a thing as a lactation consultant. It's good to hear that there are incredibly concientious parents like you and Girlmonster out there raising children. :)
(Deleted comment)
welcomerain
Jun. 25th, 2002 08:39 am (UTC)
Not that this is really relevant, but I got my ears pierced at age 4 because I had short hair and everyone kept asking if I was a boy, and I was old enough to find it irritating. Having said that, if I'd seen that CVS ad, I'd be irritated too. I hate any commercial that's about 'Mom knows best' or shows the mom in bed sick while the dad and the kids are haplessly destroying the house in a feeble attempt to make food or clean up.
cheetahmaster
Jun. 25th, 2002 09:35 am (UTC)
My favorite is when the husband is doing the taxes, and the wife is bringing him a cup of coffee.
(Anonymous)
Jun. 25th, 2002 11:17 am (UTC)
Oddly Enough
That actually happened to me this year. But it was probably a beer and not coffee. I just assumed the job of doing taxes probably because I'd watched my father do it so many years.

As for kids and their clothes... On the one hand, if your son wants to wear a dress, fine. But kids are also really cruel to each other, and I wonder which is more traumatic for a young child? Being told they can't wear a dress to school? Or being allowed to and watching them get ridiculed or worse?

Shawn
snidegrrl
Jun. 26th, 2002 01:23 am (UTC)
Re: Oddly Enough
See, I would hope that I would bring my son up to understand that he's right and everyone else is wrong.

Wait, maybe that's not such a good idea. :) But seriously, if my hypothetical child wanted to do something that was socially unacceptable, but acceptable to me, I would naturally warn them that other people would not understand, and possibly even be mean about it, but that they shouldn't let that stop them without some thought as to whether what they were doing was actually wrong in any way or going to hurt (or not hurt) someone.

And I would be happy to have my husband do our taxes if I had one. Because I fucking hate taxes. I'd bring him coffee. But I would want to be the one to fix the cars... sometimes things just naturally fall into gender roles for someone, and sometimes they don't.
snidegrrl
Jun. 26th, 2002 01:19 am (UTC)
I've seen those too. And they piss me off in exactly the same way.
examorata
Jun. 25th, 2002 10:26 am (UTC)
You know what commercial really bugs me? The one where the guy is wandering around a grocery store, and then you see that he has, as a "shopping list," a set of digital pictures his wife took of the food in their house and printed up for him. Interestingly, the first time I saw this ad, the tagline was "For shopping lists even your husband can understand." (The ad, by the way, is for color printers. I think.) Which made me quite irritated. Then I saw it again, and they changed the tagline to something like, "Make shopping lists foolproof!" Which didn't deliberately single out males textually, just visually. I mean, geez. You can't possibly let a man shop! They will get the wrong thing! By golly, they're dumb!

Pfft.
snidegrrl
Jun. 26th, 2002 01:25 am (UTC)
Yes!!!!!!!!!! I saw that one! I am glad to hear they changed it. Of course, it's still stupid. I heard the old vesion of the commercial and my jaw just dropped. This is the kind of thing that I want to have at the ready when someone tells me that the need for feminism, or the need to be concientious about gender politics, is dead. Rar!
bronzemountain
Jun. 25th, 2002 10:56 am (UTC)
No non-centralized organization that is bound together solely by its most basic function can given an effective moral mandate. For instance, it is all but impossible to make 'the media' moral. It is not a person, or even a cohesive group of people. It is a wildly disparate group of people who happen to use similar tools. So, we can regulate them, but we cannot enforce responsibility on them. Responsibility has to come from people.

So, when people stop buying things advertised for moms, people will stop advertising things to moms. On the lactation thing, well, feeding babies is a gender role for relatively obvious and understandable reasons. I'm not going get upset on that one. It's a boob-o-centric work function and boobs work better than bottles. Until they invent some sort of realistic milk-bra for men, well, you're stuck with it.
(Deleted comment)
snidegrrl
Jun. 26th, 2002 03:45 am (UTC)
That's why I rant noisily; in the hopes that I will convince more people to not buy things marketed to "moms", hopefully encouraging the probably slow but hopefully inevitable move away from that sort of thing.

I am definately not proposing we regulate something. I'm saying, I'm so appalled by this. I hope other people know to be so too.
lacifer666
Jun. 25th, 2002 12:44 pm (UTC)
Along a related vein (about guys not being encouraged to take paternity, etc)...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A38887-2002Jun24.html

greater % of females than males graduating from college these days.
rob_donoghue
Jun. 25th, 2002 04:00 pm (UTC)
Y'know, that may be the funniest article I've read in a very long while. THe complete lack of any sense of irony left me wondering if soemone released a late April 1 story or some such.
snidegrrl
Jun. 26th, 2002 03:59 am (UTC)
Unbelievable!!!

Still, some researchers and college administrators believe that the shifting male-female balance on campus portends a seismic shift in the nation's social norms, with college-educated women having growing problems finding mates of equal educational footing.

If they are JUST NOW noting a seismic shift in social norms, maybe they should WAKE UP. Maybe college-educated women aren't interested so much in finding "mates". Maybe they might have noticed that people are less interested in finding "marriageable" people since the divorce rate is over fifty percent. Maybe this entire article is coming across to me the wrong way, but christ!!

Not to mention... do men somehow need a college degree to be "marriageable"?? Maybe they do, that way they won't need you to take digital pictures so they won't get confused at the grocery store.

*FUME*
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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