While I was binge-watching a show on Channel 4’s catch-up service, 4oD, an ad break arrived and I was suddenly stunned into speechlessness. This does not happen very often. After a few seconds of staring slack-jawed in disbelief at the screen, my mute state gave way to stuttering outrage. The cause? An advert for a well-known brand of laundry cleaning tabs – Ariel – telling me to keep them out of the way of children in case they ingest them. This advert, the screen kindly informed me, was ‘tailored for me’.
My browser history contains no related searches, so I can only conclude that 4oD is using my account details (specifically date of birth and gender) to select appropriate interludes to my viewing. Yes, I am female. I am 32 years old but I have no children (a conscious choice) and a distinct apathy for laundry, as my overflowing washing basket will testify.
Time to let go of gender stereotypes
According to information from the Office of National Statistics, a whopping 37% of women my age are yet to have any children, so was it really such a safe bet for 4oD to show me that ad? I think not.
This got me thinking about other gender stereotypes. Surely it’s a rare thing nowadays? Even in the British Armed Forces, the last bastion of male-dominated employment, it was recently announced that women may soon be allowed to serve their country on the front line. I spoke to Nicola, 30, an ex-Territorial Army Medic who told me that she thought that this move by the Ministry of Defence was well overdue and in her experience, female soldiers were ‘Far from being delicate little poppets who needed help carrying their rifles’.
It seems that most of the rest of society has some catching up to do though. Here are a few other gender-based stereotypes that should be consigned to history:
1. In relationships, men are the commitment-phobes while women all want to settle down
WRONG. In relationship settings, your aspirations of couple-dom are largely down to past experiences, and how much you actually like your partner. Not whether you have to sit down to pee. This idea automatically makes women more likely to seek reassurance from a male partner, seeming more clingy/ needy in the process. Great job, stereotypes. You just created a vicious cycle.
These stereotypes are not confined to heterosexual relationships, either. In same-sex relationships these assumptions of gender roles and behaviours make even less sense and can be even more harmful, especially when coupled with the even more ridiculous stereotypes attached to the LGBT community by people too small-minded to string a coherent thought together.
2. Women love shopping
Nope. Some women like shopping, some women don’t. Same as some people like Marmite and some don’t. It’s as simple as that.
3. Women are tidier and more organised than men
I refer again to my overflowing washing basket…
We shouldn’t have to conform to stereotypes
The point that I’m making is this: yes, there may be documented differences between men and women, but those differences should never be a barrier to living how you personally want to live, doing the job that you want to do, or enjoying the hobbies that you want to partake in. This applies to people of all genders.
What do you think? Do you fit gender stereotypes? Or maybe you don’t and have been subjected to negative opinions because of it? Discuss in the comments below!