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It’s been a while since we treated our audience to a post featuring a collection of pointlessly gendered products. Time to correct our lapse in diligence! Here are some favorite examples we’ve added to our Pinterest board lately.
THE FOOD CATEGORY.
Pointlessly gendered endives:
Pointlessly gendered bread:
Pointlessly gendered eggs:
Thanks @appledaughter, Lars F., @mamatastic, @day_jess, @jongudmundand, and @blessedharlot!
Pointlessly gendered tooth fairies:
Pointlessly gendered child harnesses:
Thanks Sarah M., @day_jess, and @qaoileann!
Pointlessly gendered socks:
Bonus! Pointlessly gendered pet shampoo:
That’s all for now! Check out the entire collection on Pinterest.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Our recent post collecting examples of creative resistance to sexually objectifying advertising was a big hit, which makes me think y’all are going to love this one. The National Eating Disorder Information Center paid to put up a creative ad/trash can. It reads “Shed your weight problem here” and encourages passers-by to dispose of their fashion magazines.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
In 2010 a scandal that erupted when designer Mark Fast decided to use four plus-size models (US sizes 8-10) in his catwalk show at London Fashion Week. Protesting his decision, his stylist and creative director quit, leaving him just three days to find replacements.
The incident is a great example of how even relatively powerful figures (e.g., designers with catwalk shows) often have to pay a price for deviating from cultural rules. Designers are often criticized for only hiring waif-like models, but this shows that they don’t get to do whatever they like without consequences.
While it’s easy to condemn Fast’s stylist and creative director for walking out on him, the truth is that even being associated with deviance can bring consequences. Sociologist Erving Goffman introduced the idea of the “courtesy stigma” to refer to the stigma that attaches to those who are merely associated with a stigmatized person. A recent Grey’s Anatomy episode dealt with exactly this idea in a story about the reaction to an attractive blonde married to an obese man. Her willingness to stay with such a person was a source of curiosity and disbelief. Similarly, siblings of the mentally ill or mothers of children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder might suffer courtesy stigma when people wonder if the mental illness is genetic or the parenting is bad, respectively.
So, while it’s tempting to say that Fast’s employees hold reprehensible ideological beliefs (a hatred or intolerance for “plus-size” women), it’s also possible that they thought being associated with the show could hurt their chances of success in a very competitive career. In an industry that stigmatizes fat so powerfully, I can imagine it might be terrifying indeed to be seen as endorsing it.
Cite: Goffman, E. (1963) Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Originally posted in 2010.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
While the first flight attendants were male and many early airlines had a ban on hiring women, flight attending would eventually become a quintessentially female occupation. Airline marketers exploited the presence of these female flight attendants. Based on my reading — especially Phil Tiemeyer‘s Plane Queer and Kathleen Barry’s history of flight attendants’ labor activism – there seem to have been three stages.
First, there was the domestication of the cabin. As air travel became more comfortable (e.g., pressurized cabins and quieter rides), airlines were looking to increase their customer base. Female “stewardesses” in the ’40s and ’50s were an opportunity to argue that an airplane was just like a comfortable living room, equally safe for women, children, and men alike. Marketing at the time presented the flight attendant as if she were a mother or wife:
Twenty years later, air travel was no longer scary, so airlines switched their tactics. They sexualized their flight attendants in order to appeal to businessmen, who still made up a majority of their customers. Here’s a ten-second Southwest commercial touting the fact that their stewardesses wear “hot pants”:
The intersection of the labor movement and women’s liberation in the ’60s and ’70s inspired women to fight for workplace rights. Flight attendants were among the first female workers to organize on behalf of their occupation and among the most successful to do so. Their work won both practical and symbolic victories, like the discursive move from “stewardess” to “flight attendant” that transformed women in the occupation from sex objects to workers. A quick Google Image search shows that the association — stewardess/sex object vs. flight attendant/worker — still applies. Notice that the search for “stewardess” includes more sexualized images, while the one for “flight attendant” shows more images of people actually working.
“Flight attendant”:My impression is that today’s marketing tends to feature flight attendants in all three roles — domestic, sex object, worker — echoing each stage of the transformation of the occupation in the public imagination.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Terrifying proportions (Westfield Mall):
And Good Housekeeping too:
Take care with the placement of that right hip (Victoria’s Secret):
Let us count the ways (Speigel, Victoria’s Secret, and Laffy Taffy via Photoshop Disaster):
See our full Pinterest page here.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. This granted women the right to have a credit card in her own name. This translated into an unprecedented degree of independence for women. Feminists and their allies fought for this new world and it’s a good thing because we love to buy things with our credit cards sooooooo muuuuuuuuch!
And, thankfully, credit card companies like Banif know just how to make us comfortable, by combining feminism and infantilization and kissing our asses because We. Are. So. Special. “Every day is women’s day!” Wheeeee!
The husband in this ad, though, likely thinks he would have been better off if his wife wasn’t allowed to make financial decisions without his approval. Stupid women and their stupid financial decisions. Ruining everything.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
We’re celebrating the end of the year with our most popular posts from 2013, plus a few of our favorites tossed in. Enjoy!
@bfwriter tweeted us a link to a college design student’s photograph that has gone viral. Rosea Lake posted the image to her tumblr and it struck a chord.
What I like about the image is the way it very clearly illustrates two things. First, it reveals that doing femininity doesn’t mean obeying a single, simple rule. Instead, it’s about occupying and traveling within a certain space. In this case, usually between “proper” and “flirty.” Women have to constantly figure out where in that space they’re supposed to be. Too flirty at work mean’s you won’t be taken seriously; too proper at the bar and you’re invisible. Under the right circumstances (e.g., Halloween, a funeral), you can do “cheeky” or “old fashioned.”
The second thing I like about this image is the way it shows that there is a significant price to pay for getting it wrong. It’s not just a faux pas. Once you’re “‘asking for it,” you could be a target. And, once you’re reached “prudish,” you’ve become socially irrelevant. Both violence and social marginalization are serious consequences.
And, of course, all women are going to get it wrong sometimes because the boundaries are moving targets and in the eye of the beholder. What’s cheeky in one setting or to one person is flirty in or to another. So women constantly risk getting it wrong, or getting it wrong to someone. So the consequences are always floating out there, worrying us, and sending us to the mall.
Indeed, this is why women have so many clothes! We need an all-purpose black skirt that does old fashioned, another one to do proper, and a third to do flirty… at the very least… and all in casual, business, and formal. And we need heels to go with each (stilettos = provocative, high heels = flirty, low heels = proper, etc, plus we need flats for the picnics and beach weddings etc). And we need pants that are hemmed to the right length for each of these pairs of shoes. You can’t wear black shoes with navy pants, so you’ll need to double up on all these things if you want any variety in your wardrobe. I could go on, but you get the picture.
Women’s closets are often mocked as a form of self-indulgence, shop-a-holicism, or narcissism. But this isn’t fair. Instead, if a woman is class-privileged enough, they reflect an (often unarticulated) understanding of just how complicated the rules are. If they’re not class-privileged enough, they can’t follow the rules and are punished for being, for example, “trashy” or “unprofessional.” It’s a difficult job that we impose on women and we’re all too often damned-if-we-do and damned-if-we-don’t.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.