I am one of those people who enjoy scouring the shops for hours sometimes even aimlessly. However yesterday that was tested. I had an aim and I was restricted for time. I decided to go look for a birthday card for my male friend; something that I thought, assumed, misjudged would suffice within my 60 minutes lunch break. But inequality had it that such was not to be the case.
It turned out that almost 99 percent of the birthday cards in the shop were dedicated to the female form. Usually I would celebrate this and regard it as a small step towards gender equality. But I couldn’t help but think of our society’s normative expectations and its understanding of women.
Amongst the array of pastel coloured teddy bears, cards and mugs dedicated to the female form (why would anyone like such junk I don’t know but that is commercialism for you), was just an onslaught of fuchsias. The only ruminants of a male birthday cards were those that had seedy sexualised sub contents or those that played to the tunes of football hooliganism. I was aghast at the suggestive tones of the card shop. Is this what we think all men are into, that they would enjoy this kind of graphic garbage on their birthday…Oh deary deary me, what is the world coming to, eh..?! I, for one, was not going to perpetuate these stereotypes.
I was ready to give the sale assistants a piece of my mind, whom by the way, were all women, which perhaps explains the unequal distribution of gendered cards. When I approached the first sale assistant, she was on an unsupported ladder, looking down haphazardly whilst arranging a fury of soft animals. Everything about her screamed occupational hazard to me, so I left her in search of the next sale assistant. As I got closer to the second sale assistant, my nostrils were hit by a foul smell of dog poo, vomit and B.O. Before I could turn around and run away from this foul smelling woman she uttered “can I help you?”… Blimey no, but I think you need more help!
I ran towards the third sale assistant who by the time I got to her was helping an orderly queue of women make their purchases. I am all for good customer service so I left her to it and I just continued with my search for inoffensive, not so girly, birthday card. But such was not to be … so I ended up leaving the store … because finding a decent card for a man is apparently impossible.
When I got back home that night, understandably miffed by the events of my lunch hour I communicated that anger to my brother. I was riled by the inequality I witnessed, I endured on behalf of my friend and all the other men who would just like to have a decent birthday card. I informed my brother that we needed to mobilise the masses, strategise and tackle this frankly ludicrous practice which I am only assuming is a mainstream practice amongst all card shops.
But I was taken aback by the somewhat lacklustre reaction I got from him. He just hmm’d and ahhh’d at my monologue. At first I thought, you know what mate I don’t appreciate this defeatist attitude so I banged on the equality drum harder; that this equality for the female form might be bit premature in 2015.
My peroration fell on deaf ears!
Then it occurred to me that maybe men aren’t as bothered about birthday cards and the likes and maybe it’s us women who perpetuate these sentimental ideals. Maybe they are just at their happiest left alone with their FIFA (insert any given year), playing along with their equally unbothered virtual brethrens.
Armed with this epiphany, I headed to the games shop and bought my friend just that- FIFA’15…
Alas normative masculinity depends upon outsiders to define it!