Saturday, February 16, 2013

Contrex Conundrum

This advert is obviously very clever, and has, of course, gone viral, for good reason. It IS entertaining.

But there are so many stereotypes in it, that I am beginning to wonder why I don't just have a 'cut and paste' list of them to add in here. So here goes:

Women like pink
Women need to be thin
Women are all young
Even thin women want to be thinner
Sex is your reward for being thin
Even for men, a six pack and a good body are needed to be attractive
If you are 'good' you will be rewarded
Women all group together in 'girl packs' to be thin and attractive 
Sex with an attractive male is the reward for being thin, and following instructions
Even thin, young, attractive women need to be good in order to get their man
A man is the ultimate reward that we are all hoping for

I could go on. 

People accuse feminists of lacking a sense of humor, then put out offensive material that uses humor to deflect attention. That actually detracts from the general experience of humor in my life. The LACK I have is due to patriarchal views, not feminist ones.

I am just hoping that someone with the relevant media equipment can make a parody of this advert - one that still uses humor, but doesn't try to tell women that they should all be good little girls.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Child Free Flying?

Excuse me if this post makes no sense as I am filled with incandescent rage right now.

Apparently 70% of people polled by the Telegraph would like to see child free flights, and one airline in Malaysia now has a quiet zone where children under 12 cannot sit.

Forget all the anecdata about how groups of hen parties/teenagers/business men etc etc are often louder than children, there is a very basic human right at stake here.

Children are people. Discriminating against them is discrimination.

The seat my daughter sits in costs as much as the one that I sit in, why is she treated as some kind of lesser person? Why, if I am travelling, is that lower status extended to me?

Can people really not see any parallels when they nod along to consigning the children and (almost inevitably) women to the back of the bus ? Seriously? 100 years after Rosa Parks was born, we are now in favor of segregation? Well, so long as it's only the lesser people - what does it matter?

'Women and children first' was sexist because it treated certain parts of  humanity as different. It made them 'other'. Now we are saying that children (and there is plenty of fact to back this up) and women should not only be treated as 'other' but actually 'lesser'. 

Of course, plenty of two parent families will be affected by this, even some one male parent families, along with the one female parent families. But in every case, children - who are people, not some kind of subspecies - are affected. Having a child may be a lifestyle choice, but it is also a necessity for the human race. Being a child, travelling with a child, parenting a child, are not some kind of dirty act which we should be ashamed of and accept being relegated to the cheap seats. Treating children as a kind of disgrace doesn't only segregate them, but also has an implied criticism of the women who gave birth to them. We should be celebrating them, not shoving them to the back out of the way.

What can we look forward to next? Less toilet facilities? Lower pay? Greater physical abuse?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

That Audi Advert

There are so many things in this advert that are perpetuating sexism and making it appear OK for these things to exist. Because it is on TV, and shot in hi-def, it makes it appear glamorous/sexy etc and therefore desirable. If it didn't, they wouldn't be using it in the advert.

Just from one viewing, I saw
- mom's perspective being ignored, what do women know?
- fast/loud cars give you power & confidence, even to the extent of taking what isn't yours (principle's parking space, another man's girl)
- women/girls like fairies, pink, dancing, shoes & being grabbed roughly to be 'given one'
- that if you stick it to her good, she'll become not only compliant but also willing
- gaining possession of forbidden fruits (car, parking, women) is fun, exciting, empowering
- girls, like cars, are owned by men and are there for the taking


Comments about the media where people say 'it's only TV' drive me crazy - I can't believe how naive people are and that they seem blind to understanding how much goes into pre-production. These messages are not sent by accident. It is DELIBERATE, KNOWING AND PLANNED. A group of people WANT us to see these things and have these beliefs.

Never underestimate what the media is attempting to do.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Too Much Stupid

Back from visiting the family for Christmas and New Year, I fear that I am becoming increasingly grumpy.

We travelled quite a bit over the past two weeks, and I really did feel close to a bout of 'air rage' a couple of times. I knew that the airports, planes, roads, trains etc would be busy and crowded. I knew that I would have jet lag, and a very active and excited daughter. I even knew that I would get travel sick. All of those I was prepared for, but I just didn't factor in how much stupid I would be subjected to as we travelled.

Many of my moans are epically insignificant, and I know better than to share them with others (oh, go on then, people who let their kids play with the suitcases as they go round the carousel at the airport? Stupid). But there are some people who go beyond being inept or unaware, and actually start to become dangerous.

For example - the TWO groups who stepped off a train, then stopped (right in front of the doors) to work out where to go. When the trains are busy, with a line of people pushing to get out, and another group waiting to get in, do not block the doorways. OK - so that example is inconvenient rather than outright dangerous, but it still baffles me why some people are lacking the basic rules of navigating in busy cities.

Another one - the number of people who had to be paged, repeatedly, to get on their plane. Now, if they are on a connecting flight, they may just be unlucky, but I saw more than one (or two) people rushing to get to a departure gate with bags of duty free in their hands. Shopping is not essential, people, get to your flight on time.

And while we're at it, stick to the limits for hand luggage. 

But my real gripe was one that I considered actually calling an air steward for (only I'm too much of a coward and didn't want to get held up once we landed). Across the aisle from me sat a family of 3, including a teenage boy. As the plane was preparing to land, he and his dad kept pretend fighting. Annoying, but not dangerous. As we were on the final descent, I could see that he had some kind of electronic in his hands, and he was tapping/pushing buttons as if he were texting or playing a game. The moment we landed, he undid the seat belt, then picked up a Blackberry and began texting on that as well. He was doing this, even as the pilot was saying that we should still have seat belts on and not be using electronics.

To be honest, I'm fairly certain that he wasn't about to send the plane hurtling from the sky by playing games on the ipod. My problem is, that I just don't get why he, and the other people that annoyed me, don't see that they are in a public space and they should be considerate of others.

Travelling in public means that you have to put up with the sight/sound/smell of other people. There isn't a whole lot that can be done about it. But there are kind of unwritten rules - don't yell down your phone in an enclosed space, don't stop in the middle of a walkway, follow instructions, don't push etc etc. Basically, try to stay within your own space and don't impose on others too much. 

OK, so rude and stupid aren't the same thing, but there is a correlation between them. Next time I travel, I shall prepare myself better, and try some kind of meditation to get me over the hard times. But then, won't that annoy someone sitting near me?


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Nice Men

I have just finished reading an article about rape.

Nice Guys

This article is very clear about the reasons behind rape, and how best to prevent it.

It seems that there is a LOT of research about the motivation and cause of rape, and absolutely none of it finds that women wearing short skirts or drinking alcohol are a factor.

Even in date rape or acquaintance rape, the rapist knows what he is doing, plans it, and carries out that plan. So all of the advice about staying with a friend, don't drink too much etc is pretty useless. Very few of us are constantly on the look-out to make sure that we're not being groomed for rape. Just as con-men rely on their victims trusting them and believing them, rapists rely on women being relaxed, trusting them, knowing them (or at least knowing the friend they are with) so that they can carry out their plan.

The article also makes it clear that supporting the myth that sometimes 'nice men' just get confused and accidentally rape a woman because they weren't sure, but thought that maybe she wanted it, increases the likelihood of rape. Clearly stating that any and all rape apologist arguments are false, and turning the discussion to the rapist and why he is in the wrong, can lower the amount of rapes that occur.

So, I would just like to re-word the argument that many people still believe. Nice men do NOT sometimes commit rape by mistake. Rapists pretend to be nice men, so that they can claim it was a mistake.

Be very clear about this. A rapist is neither nice nor mistaken. THAT thought should be foremost in society. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gotta Fight for the Right ...

I am, apparently 'professionally offended', or so I've been told.

Not just once, but a few times.

Which is odd, because I have a number of jobs, and none of them have 'being offended' in either the job title or description. All of my jobs are such a stereotype of a middle class woman, suffering from middle age spread, that it is almost impossible to believe that I could be offended. Sure, I might get a bit het up about whether my cupcakes have risen or not, or the use of a greengrocers' apostrophe, but generally I am pretty busy just living my own life and don't have the time or energy to get upset about other people's business.

By the time I've taken care of the child, the house, the garden, the car, the teaching, the cupcakes and the studying, I only have a smidgen of energy left over for The Cause. Often, truth be told, I'd rather have a cup of tea, put my slippered feet up, and watch some trash TV. I may have the inclination to go out and socialize, but even that is only a maybe as I find my daily life is sufficiently hectic (and fulfilling) to make me enjoy a night in just as much as a night out.

So it's fairly rarely that I read/watch/hear something and actually bother to voice my opinions, even online. There's also a healthy dash of the British modesty in there - who wants to hear my opinions, what are they worth? - which means that I'm less than forthcoming about my responses to certain situations. In real life, I am even less vocal about the injustices I see. In real life, I often flounder when attempting to put forward my argument. I don't recall facts and figures easily, so need time to check on research etc. Basically, I keep shtum. 

All of this means, that I'm really not some female warrior crusader. Tired from all the hullabaloo, I don't make much of a fuss. But I will raise my voice every so often. There are some issues where I will dig in my heels and kick up a fuss (even if I look ungainly as I do so). I'm not professionally offended, I'm just pointing out the bleeding obvious to those who don't want to be told what is right in front of their noses.

I'm not sure if that counts as fighting for my rights, but I like to think that I quietly, with surety, set up a good defense boundary. I may not be leading the charge, but neither am I letting in any of the people who would like to see me beaten. And behind these defensive walls, I AM raising the child, taking care of those around me, teaching (and being taught about) respect and equality. I may not be yelling a battle cry, but I am taking care of business. My business. If that offends you, so be it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why it's NOT OK to joke

about certain things.

Something has got me riled up.

A light hearted comment made on British TV (and no, I won't credit the person who said it) which referenced domestic violence has attracted some debate.

Predictably, the usual comments have been rolled out. He didn't really mean it. You've taken it out of context. You're being over emotional. Can't you take a joke?

Well, no.


I teach. I teach children about a lot of things. And one of the things that I teach is that certain things are never, and will never, be up for flippant comment. Domestic violence is one of those things. The children that I teach get it. So why, oh why, don't adults?

Believe it or not, I don't go around looking for things to offend me. I'm not 'professionally offended' and quite a few people who actually know me think that I am quite funny, even entertaining at times. I have a reputation for being pretty laid back and easy going.

So when I do get upset, I think it's because something is genuinely upsetting. TV shows are scripted, discussed, planned etc. So somewhere, a group of people thought that it would be OK to use the phrase 'punch you in the face then give you a little kiss'. This phrase is often used to describe the physical and emotional ways in which men (generally) assault their partners. First the pain, then the turmoil, as they say 'it's OK, I only do it cos I love you' before they plant the kiss.

So, please don't make jokes like that. It isn't actually funny. I can think of lots of jokes, but domestic violence isn't one.