Gender Assumptions

Yesterday I was on a train on the Victoria Line, on my way to an early-morning writing session at Starbucks. It was the second day in a row I’d crawled out of bed at 5:45am to get some writing in, and I do tend to be rather grumpy that early in the morning.

There was an advertising poster on my tube carriage that I found rather irritating. It was an advert for an online store. The gist of the advert was that this particular place was a one-stop shop for your Christmas shopping. “Gifts for her”, the advert said. Underneath this was a picture of a make-up set. “Gifts for him,” it went on. This featured a picture of a PS3 game.

Now, I do try to keep politics out of this blog, but it does annoy me when people make assumptions based on gender stereotypes. And this time of year, coming up to the dreaded Festive Season, we are bombarded by ads making the presumption that men sit around watching football, drinking beer and playing computer games, while women are preoccupied with shoes and handbags and clothes.

Me, I’d rather have the computer game than the make-up set. But anyone who doesn’t know me well enough to be aware of this isn’t likely to be buying me presents.

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3 comments so far

  1. Zola The Gorgon on

    I agree. It’s stereotyping the men just as much as the women.

    I get really annoyed with the Christmas advert bombardment for little girls’ toys, which seems even more stereotypical (and relentlessly pink). I know there have been studies that show kids have natural gender-based preferences for certain toys, but still.

    As for the washing powder ads – in advert world for years pristine, quiet, good little girls helped mummy hang up the clean laundry while the boys and the blokes run around having fun and getting messy. Now the little girls are allowed to make a mess – provided they’re making cupcakes. Grrr.

  2. Kathy on

    Never mind the gender stereotypes. The problem is the pressure the ads put on many to buy. Christmas should not and is not about buying lots of prezzies for everyone you know. People should not go into debt for Christmas. I am trying to make sure our daughter knows that if there weren’t presents under the tree, we would still have a great Christmas. I hate the “keeping up with the Jone’s” mentality of consumerism that is so prevalent here in N. America. Don’t live across the pond so I don’t know what the personal debt is for Britains. Anyway, that is my soap box. Our family room is never full to the brim with presents under the tree because that is not how we roll.

  3. Denni on

    Nothing has changed in the 45 years since I’ve been around and it’s really depressing. In fact I think we’re taking backwards steps. It’s now acknowledged that ‘girls can do science’, but in an article I saw somewhere, primary school kids were still amazed that a visiting science PhD was a ‘girl’.

    I don’t believe there are many deep-running natural preferences. Babies are shaped to be gender-biased from birth (early life is a pink/blue blur, language and handling may be different between girls and boys). And whatever broad tendencies there may be do absolutely not apply to the individual at some point along the curve!

    Anyone who presents me with a make-up kit is likely to be hit over the head with it. Twice if it’s for Christmas 😉


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