Three things in the last two days have alerted my (fairly nascent) feminist spidey-senses. I don't know if anyone else has felt uncomfortable about this but if they haven't then I'm going to explain why this bothers me and then I am going to write to the companies involved and I hope that you will join me in expressing your views to them too.
On national TV, the Marks and Spencer's advert with Caroline Quentin. Here's a quote:
"Because...because they're pink, and I'm a girl, and that's what we do"
You might say that this is so ambiguous as to mean anything, or that it expresses feelings about pink that many females can relate to which will help sell the little pink pig-face sweets that she is talking about.
You might say, "Is this woman crazy, is she going to object to any association between pink and what women like?" and to that I say that yes, maybe I am crazy but yes I object.
I object to the sweeping generalisations that people of a certain gender all have uniform interests, and being told what my views are on any subject just because of my sex. Even something as seemingly trivial as what colour I should share an unnatural attraction towards. The "and that's what we do" part of the sentence disturbs me as well, clumsy phrasing perhaps but it indicates that women should and do already behave in a certain way. It implies that to do otherwise is unnatural and I can't help but displant it into similar sentences in my head; "because it's the washing up, and that's what we do" sigh.
Many women like pink. that's true and it's okay. But we don't need it re-enforced that this is not a choice but a natural part of our fluffy little brains, they can't handle serious colours like orange or blue. And of course it is natural for our nutty little systems to go all haywire when we see something pretty and pink so that we just have to do "what we do".
It seems especially galling coming from CQ, who, although I admit I haven't watched them since I was a child, always seemed rather a sensible and down-to-earth, realistic woman in Men Behaving Badly when I was growing up. She would fart and drink beer and refuse to clean up after the boys either physically or metaphorically, leaving them to stand on their own man-child feet. Am I remembering it wrong?
Herbal Essences shampoo currently employs a light-hearted little ploy to get you to buy its shampoo and conditioner together as a set; it has a question on each one that is only answered on the other bottle. Harmless but ineffective you may think, since you'd have to be pretty weak-willed to purchase a nearly £4 bottle just to answer a silly question and you could just read the bottles in the shop anyway. It is the content of one of the questions that irked me however, on their 'Hello Hydration' products.
Q: What do women like light and frequent when men like it more strenuous?
A: A Kiss
Of course, kissing! You know what I really love though? Cleaning products telling me how I like to be kissed. That gets me hot.
Of course, we meek girls who do not enjoy sexual or intimate activities prefer them to be tame and non-threatening; we must be persuaded into any kind of sex-act by virtual ravishment from the man. We all have rape fantasies don't we? Don't we? Oh that's right we don't. Well, some of us might, but as to whether this is a product of how our sexuality is labelled and fed to us rather than chosen, the jury is still out.
Of course we need kisses frequently because we are emotionally needy and have to have reassurance, well that is unless we have a backbone and some self-respect; which we mostly basically do if shampoo bottles and other ephemera haven't been messing with our heads for most of our lives.
Here's a note for the boys in case my SO ever dies in a car crash and you haven't been scared off yet by my ranting; I wanna kiss hard. Strenuous? Sounds stupendous. I wanna burn some calories with that shit and drop a dress size by the end of it else it's not worth taking the time to get my head out of a book for.
And a note for Herbal Essences; fire your simply ingenious packaging designer ASAP or you can GTFO of my bathroom.
Okay, lastly we have this –
I was shopping for a new tent for the festival season. I went to Britain's best known vendor and found this.
Looks fairly good, I was considering my purchase and so I read the description, let me quote this for you:
Oh Millets, Millets...I know it says a two MAN tent but really? Way to alienate half of your customer base. Or at least the proportion of that half who is truculent enough to object to your stereotyping of their gender as packing unnecessary 'frivolous' things which will take up important man-space where you could keep something useful like your club or your spare loincloths.
"Whether you've bundled up the campervan ready for the
festival or are taking your partner on a spontaneous woodland camp-out, you'll
be well equipped with the 2-man Tay Tent from Eurohike.
The roomy tunnel
style means you've space to roam freely whilst plenty of storage space means you
needn't downsize too much (don't tell her that though)."
The thing that most galls me here is the implied ridiculousness of a woman buying the tent, or taking her beau on a spontaneous getaway. Yeah, that and the jovial 'boys club' nature of this throwaway asinine comment. Oh and the fact that it's completely unnecessary to bring in casual sexism when you're attempting to sell a tent.
I think that's what annoyed me with all of these things, small as they may be, it's just so plainly not needed to include these little digs at female intelligence, autonomy and competency. Why do it? Why is it considered funny or cute? Maybe I'm being picky, but I feel like I'm waking up from a deep sleep and finally starting to question and challenge the infinitesimal things that I have let wash over me all my life. The things that I have had to internalise or justify to myself as all in good sport, or not aimed at me personally so that I let it slide. It's like a lotus growing up through the mud to enlightenment, and the lotus is pissed off. Maybe the real question isn't why am I picking on such small offences, but why did I let these grains of sand pile up like the Sahara desert all this time without shaking my shoulders and spitting back in the face of the wind that's driving them?
Well from now on I'm going to. I hope you will as well.
With disgruntled energy and a shift from complacency,