(To clarify: I’m an 18-year-old female university student, but I’m currently at home for Christmas.)
The Everyday Sexism Project is a (brilliant) website which enables people to post their own experiences of “minor” sexism in everyday life, particularly the “little things” that often go unnoticed; the idea is that these little things soon add up and, contrary to what the media would have you believe, sexism and gender stereotyping is still an issue worth talking about. I’ve been following the website for several months now and I’ve even posted a few entries myself; however, there are many occasions where I forget, or I still think it’s too minor, or I feel guilty because I like the person/place/TV show/etc involved, or I just don’t bother to say anything. I imagine this is replicated by everybody else, too.
So, inspired by this, I decided to conduct something of an experiment. For exactly one week, from 1.35pm on Saturday 8th December until 1.35pm on Saturday 15th December, every time I came across an example of sexism and/or gender stereotyping, however small it is, I made a note of it, and this post contains the full list.
I set out to demonstrate that people would be influenced by or faced with this issue at least once on most days. I did not expect to be noting an average of over 7 examples per day, ranging from characters in TV adverts to full-blown misogynistic comments. The list is very long, but it’s been a real eye-opener for me and I hope it is for you too.
- The experiment will begin at 1.35pm on Saturday 8thDecember and end at 1.35pm on Saturday 15th December.
- I will make a note of ANYTHING that is sexist or perpetuates rigid gender roles or stereotypes, no matter how small or minor it is. If I’m even seriously considering whether or not it should be included, then it should be included.
- Yes, discrimination against men counts too. In fact, it’s often closely linked with discrimination against women. Include ALL the genders!
- I follow several feminist blogs and Twitter accounts, but I will not count any examples which I find out about exclusively through these, unless I am likely to have discovered it myself anyway. This is in order to maintain a fair test; I’m looking for “everyday life” examples, so these “extra” examples would probably lead to bias.
- If I am told about an example by someone I know, I will include it (anonymously of course). I will not, however, explicitly ask anyone for such examples, again to avoid bias.
- I will not tell anyone who I’m likely to have a conversation with during the week that this experiment is taking place; this is so nobody points out examples where they wouldn’t normally, or becomes extra careful to avoid gender discrimination where they wouldn’t normally.
- Where specific people are involved, they will remain anonymous.
Saturday (From 1.35pm)
- 1.35pm – Test begins
- 1.44pm – Started playing DS game Animal Crossing: Wild World. After I was asked to name my character, I was asked if I liked the name, and had to choose between “Yup, it’s burly!”, “Yeah, it’s cute!” or “No” as responses. Turns out that if you choose “burly”, the next part of the conversation assumes you are male unless you then state otherwise; if you choose “cute”, the game assumes you are female. I’ve restarted this game many times over the years, but I’d never considered this before.
- 3.00pm – Saw a TV advert for a Windows phone; the protagonist is female and has a pink phone. Her “interest” is cooking (of course it is, she’s a woman) and her phone also contains apps for children, because her primary role is mother and her interests are only those of her children.
- 3.47pm – A bit of background information needed for this one. A new nightclub just opened in our town; the town’s former nightclub was shut down some time ago due to constantly letting in underage teenagers. Naturally, there are concerns that a similar problem will occur with the new one, and I’ve just seen a Facebook post complaining that this has indeed happened. Fair enough. Underneath, though, is the comment “I don’t mind the minor boys, that’s fine, but not the minor girls!” with several likes. Um, what? Why? Not entirely sure which gender is being discriminated against here, but it’s definitely gender discrimination at any rate.
- 5.09pm – Just noticed a book in the kitchen is entitled “Busy Woman’s Slow Cooker Recipes”. Why women only? Again, we’ve had this book for years and I’d never considered this until now.
- 8.05pm – Watching the X Factor final; as usual, the presenter enters the show with a load of (female in this case, as in most cases) backing dancers, who then leave. I’m fairly certain he just said “Begone you harlots!” Oh dear.
- 8.17pm – I finally got to see this Asda advert I’ve been hearing about; I only got back from uni last week, so I genuinely hadn’t seen it until this point. Unfortunately, I’ve been hearing about it for all the wrong reasons. “Behind every great Christmas, there’s Mum”, because all the preparation is a woman’s job. Also excludes dads, also completely infantilises men by portraying them as unable to do anything for themselves. Congratulations, you’re sexist against everyone.
- 9.21pm – Following a microphone malfunction on X Factor, I see a joke on Twitter about their sound technician; the writer assumes the sound tech is male. Because there is no way a *gasp* woman could do such a job.
- 11.38pm – A tweet which has been retweeted onto my timeline claims “every girl agrees with this”. The accompanying picture was a jealous rant: “If you know who my man is then… don’t text him, don’t call him, don’t mention him…” After listing a million other ways of contacting him, the text ends “You think I’m fucking crazy bitch, I’ll show you crazy”. Firstly, note the use of “girl” (rather than woman) and “man” (rather than boy), infantilising women (this happens a lot – one of those things you’ll notice all the time once it’s been pointed out). Secondly, “bitch”. Thirdly, you’ve just portrayed “every girl” as “crazy” and overly possessive. For the record, as a female myself, Idon’t agree with this.
- 11.18am – Photo on Facebook: “No girl thinks she’s beautiful until a guy comes along and makes her feel like she is”. Apparently, a girl’s worth is based on beauty. And apparently, all girls feel worthless until a guy falls in love with her, because we’re all named Rapunzel and locked in a tower waiting for a handsome prince to rescue us and marry us. Also, homophobic much? (Note to self: Do the same test with homophobia at some point.)
- 2.07pm – I’m on Twitter, and I saw that Rita Ora was the top trend. I clicked to find out why; something to do with having 2 million followers. However, two of the tweets were “Rita Ora is such a sketty ugly gypsy” (also racist?) and “If you consider Kim Kardashian, Tulisa, Rita Ora or Paris Hilton as role models you have ambitions to be a hoe.”
- 4.14pm – Married woman (for clarity, I should say that she took her husband’s surname) described how a Christmas card she received got the surname completely wrong. The fact that it was addressed to “Mr & Mrs HisFirstInitial Surname” wasn’t given a second thought; in fact, I probably only picked up on it myself because I’m doing this experiment. Women have names!
- 4.34pm – The hashtag “#GirlProblems” showed up my Twitter feed, and I clicked it and read the top few tweets. All based around stereotype of never having enough clothes/shoes/etc or taking ages to get ready (perhaps this is because women are judged solely on looks and have to meet high standards of perceived “beauty”, but I digress) except one tweet, which is based on not understanding football. All this happened while I WAS watching football, so…
- 4.52pm – World of Tanks advert on TV, with the slogan “Real men play with tanks”. No, real men need only to identify themselves as male. That’s it. That’s all you have to do to be a man. Whether or not you happen to be interested in tanks is irrelevant. Also, why would an advert alienate 50% of its potential consumers? A further example of discrimination against men and women at the same time. Which, when you think about it, is just plain silly.
- 6.53pm – Advert for shopping website Very.co.uk. The one man in the advert is unable to buy good presents for his family (stereotyping much?), so it’s up to an all-female team, in a pink-covered room, to do it all for him (again, stereotyping much?).
- 8.42pm – Morrisons advert. Again, as I’ve been at university, this is the first time I’d seen it; obviously I’m not going to use every time I see an advert this week as a separate example!! I won’t go into detail here because to be honest, it’s much the same as the Asda one, but to be honest I found this one much more uncomfortable to watch. At least the Asda woman seemed to be coping well with it all. The Morrisons woman’s narration was monotone and sad, as if she wasn’t enjoying Christmas at all, and I’m pretty sure not a single person in the advert spoke to her. Then there was the final line, “But I wouldn’t have it any other way”. Because she’s a mother, and her role is to submissively serve the entire family without taking any of the benefits for herself? Urgh.
- 8.48pm – Twitter advert for a teen romantic novel: “Girls who love books, get this *link*” Girls only?
- 1.10pm – I suppose this isn’t a new example, but I just caught the end of another Windows Phone ad, this time with a male protagonist and a blue phone. The apps featured are a newspaper, Shakespeare and Xbox Live. So to recap: Current affairs, literature and video games for men, cooking and childcare for women.
- 1.34pm – Snickers advert, in which a male footballer “turns into a right diva when he’s hungry”. This “diva” is a woman. Only women make unreasonable demands, apparently.
- 2.31pm – Only just considered the implications of the TV channel “Movies4Men”. Some men might not like the films featured. Some women might like the films featured. Interests are not gendered.
- 8.25pm – Teenage/adolescent girl wearing a T-shirt showing a female Smurf and the words “Relationship Status: SINGLE”. To tell you the truth, I’m not entirely sure if this counts, but would boys’ clothing advertise the wearer as available?
- 8.51pm – Said by a man on Coronation Street: “Blokes like that think they own the road.” Just men?
- 8.52pm – Tweet by a woman: “Girls can be so vindictive!” Just girls? Congratulations, Coronation Street character and Twitter person, you’re stereotyping your own genders. Also, the two comments could be seen as contradicting each other. *sarcastic slow clap*
- 2.16pm – Watching a deleted scene on YouTube. Dialogue included “typical bloke, straight to fixing his motor”, “you are a bloke… you laugh at all the men and show off to all the girls” (note juxtaposition of “men” and “girls”) and when that claim was denied, “you are a bloke and you don’t even know it”.
- 4.20pm – Male radio presenter talking to members of the Navy: “Right, let’s talk man stuff, what’s the best thing about being in the Navy?” One of the group is a woman (and she’s doing most of the talking). Why exclude her?
- 5.48pm – On the news: “A petrolbomb was thrown at a vehicle with a female officer inside”. Obviously horrible, but why is gender relevant? Have you ever heard the news refer to a “male officer” with regard to such news stories? There’s this implied sense of “*gasp* IT’S A WOMAN” and the implication that women should be “protected” more than men (which I’m imagining would involve not letting them have such a career? Urgh.)
- 7.04pm – I just slipped up myself! “So the cursor is his… *pause* OR HERS! DAMMIT!”
- 8.07pm – Joke in a YouTube video: “Connecting to the Internet is as easy as my ex-wife”. Also shows someone typing a letter assuming “Dear Sirs”.
- 8.10pm – From a different YouTube video: “Planting flowers? Isn’t that girly?” “No, saving the environment is super-manly!” How is gender relevant to either of these things exactly?
- 11.10am – Just passed a shop selling general gifts and gadgets. It’s called “Menkind”. Casually excluding half your target audience there… And for the record, the one thing we bought in there was a gift for a woman.
- 11.15am – BHS has a gift range called “LAD Essentials”, which is mainly comprised of drinking games. What about men who don’t drink, and women who do?
- 11.58am – Another one that often goes unnoticed. Carrier bag for the popular baby-things shop called “Mothercare”. Sorry, no fathers here, childcare is for women, apparently.
- 1.15pm – I’ve just actually been into Menkind. It’s a shame really, because they’ve got some really good products in there, but also a fair bit of sexism. Not even just gender stereotyping either, actual full-blown sexism. Products included a “PornNotebook”, featuring the tagline “Teen Girls Want You” (pretty sure that’s paedophilia); a bowl intended to look like a dog bowl, marked “MAN”; a “Man Mug – No Girls Allowed” (note man/girl juxtaposition) featuring a ruler and a spirit level; and a mug with the slogan “Men are like toilets… full of shit.”
- 1.35pm – Girls’ T-shirt in Primark: “Don’t Trust Boys”. Start the stereotyping young.
- 2.05pm – Could someone please explain to me why it’s necessary to have a woman wearing a fur gilet and nothing else to advertise the “Gadgets of the Year” list on the front of a magazine?
- 4.10pm – Board game called “His and Hers – The Game That Celebrates Our Differences”. On the box, the blue “his” side contains a football, a drill and a glass of beer, whilst the “hers” side contains mainly shoes and make-up.
- 4.20pm – Kids’ wall stickers in Primark. A choice of dinosaurs or outer space in the “blue” packets, all princess-based in the “pink” packets.
- 6.59pm – Discussion between two people surprised at a new relationship: “Apparently he’s been stalking her for years, he’s wanted her for years” Okay, so actual stalkingis a normal legitimate way to “get the girl” now. Really?!
- 8.13pm – Me again, assuming the creator of a funny Internet picture (featuring no real people) is a “guy”.
- 9.31am – Facebook conversation (I really don’t like noting all these examples from really nice people behind their backs, but I did say I’d note down everything!) in which some confusion regarding the timing of Christmas sales is said to be “probably a guy question”. Why?
- 9.34am – Facebook picture of a Christmas tree sticking out of a car boot, with the status “How some women solve their Christmas tree problems”. There was no person visible in the photograph, so I have no idea why it’s women only.
- 3.43pm – Facebook status about a new song: “If the little slut wasn’t singing, this would be a belter”
- 4.08pm – Not sure whether this comes under sexism or homophobia (probably both) but I’ll put it here anyway. Somebody commented that a male Deal Or No Deal contestant “has got to be gay… he likes Lady GaGa”. How exactly does music taste affect sexuality in any way? And doesn’t this imply that a heterosexual male can’t like Lady GaGa? Why not?
- 4.43pm – Wickes advert, featuring a male worker (fitting a new kitchen) and a female customer (using the new kitchen). So. Much. Stereotyping.
- 4.55pm – More TV advert stereotyping: one of the Anadin adverts focuses on the “man flu” stereotype.
- 8.25pm – Line from How I Met Your Mother: “Even if I meet the girl of my dreams right now, I’m still one night and nine months away from having a family of my own… and that’s assuming she’s a huge slut”.
- 8.45pm – The tagline of a Lambrini advert: “Lambrini girls just wanna be original”. For a start, there’s a man in the advert. Well done for excluding one of your own characters. Secondly, for those of you who aren’t aware, Lambrini is an alcoholic drink, therefore the advert must be aimed at people who are 18 or over, so why “girls”?
- 12.29pm – Twitter joke: “China – Meet all your birth control standards with ease by giving every teenage boy a copy of Call of Duty”. Because of course a girl can’t play video games or date a boy who does…
- 12.32pm – This one was picked up by a blog about media – a newspaper website referring to a woman as a “blonde” in the headline. She is blonde, but would man be referred to exclusively by his hair colour?
- 2.35pm – In Wilkinson. Products included a “Just Girls” brand, including a toy car and a toy kitchen (what else?) all in pink, a “Bloke” range including a shower radio and headphones (because only men listen to music? Really?) and a balloon modelling kit with a 1950s-style picture of a woman saying “Is there no end to his talents?” Because of course a woman couldn’t do balloon modelling…
- 2.55pm – Talking about a book of funny wrong exam answers: “His one is the best”. Apparently only boys take exams; or, alternatively, only boys do badly in exams. Both wrong…
- 3.45pm – This one was me! Assuming a cat in our garden is “he”. Oops!
- 8.16pm – Me AGAIN! Someone texts into a music channel, leaving no name or any indication of gender, and I automatically assumed “he” in conversation.
- 8.32pm – Argos advert on TV: “Keep calm, men, and shop at Argos!” Perpetuating the stereotype that men can’t buy gifts, and therefore perpetuating the stereotype that buying gifts is a woman’s role. Oh dear.
- 8.58pm – Calpol advert, in which girls try on high heels while a boy watches football. Getting the stereotypes ingrained young.
- 10.48pm – Why does a music video need to spend several seconds zoomed in on a random woman’s bottom?
Saturday (Until 1.35pm)
- 8.30am – Continuity announcer on Comedy Central: “Two and a Half Men up next, so if you like borderline misogyny… and boys being boys, keep watching”. Firstly, the idea of borderline misogyny is not something to be joked about. Secondly, again, all you have to do to be male is identify as male; your personality and behaviour has nothing to do with it.
- 9.14am – More Christmas shopping. 3 women and 1 man in this car. Man: “I’m stuck with you three witches”.
- 9.19am – I’ve actually just overheard “Shut up, man talking, zip it.” Yes, really.
- 10.45am – Products in Debenhams include a “man flu” stressball, a self-stirring mug that “every man wants” (50% of the world’s population all want the same gift?), and make-up with the tagline “Are you feminine, dangerous, or fun?”, clearly implying that you can’t be more than one of those…
- 11.30am – At a calendar stall. The vast majority of “family” planners/calendars are labelled “Mum’s Family Planner 2013” or words to that effect. Only one for Dad. Apparently scheduling is also a woman’s role, then.
- 12.30pm – Woman in Primark dropped something or other and bent down to replace it. A male passer-by commented “That’s where all women should be, on their knees”.
- 1.30pm – Comment in a conversation (between two men) whilst sorting out who’s going home in which car: “Unless you want to go with the girls, bitch?” Apparently even associating with women is degrading, for some reason.
- 1.35pm – End of test