Aisles of Inequality


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!

The Daily Post

Feminism: according to the men in my family

My father is a Feminist Capitalist; my mother a Feminist Socialist. Brought together by the swinging sixties and the hippie flower power my father and mother were poles apart. They had one thing in common though; rallying Women’s Liberation Movement. But that is as far as their similitude stretches.

Needless to say each one of their offspring was pre destined to being a Feminist stroke something or another regardless of their gender. Maybe that is because the men in my family were outnumbered. To every one XY chromosome holder, there were three XX chromosome holders lurking around. Cynicism aside though, the struggles faced by the female form is still palpable. The men in my family like to alleviate some of those struggles in their own little idiosyncratic way.

Take my father for example; he is constantly challenging societal norms and ideologies that a women is nothing but a rotten tomato if she is to hit twenty five years of age and isn’t under the guardianship of a husband. Aside from the fact that this is a poor metaphor because tomatoes don’t last that long (or do they); in the spirit of feminism and the capitalist ethic, my father is of the opinion that everyone should do their bit in a capitalist society. Women shouldn’t be regarded as a second class citizen, they should be free to conduct trade (amongst other things) as and when they see fit.

Ripe or rotten tomato we may be, telling my father one would like to get married is equivalent to committing the cardinal sin. There is a long list of achievements a female has to tick off before she can even think of introducing a gentleman caller to my father. Let’s face it those divorce statistics are not very appetising.

There are a lot of upheavals to overcome. A glass ceiling to break, a FTSE 100 to conquer, gender based violence to abolish, equality to attain, oppression to overcome alongside a whole host of other barriers. According to one statistic “if the skills and qualifications of women who are currently out of work in the UK were fully utilised, the UK could deliver economic benefits of £15 to £21 billion pounds per year – more than double the value of all our annual exports to China”. Now that is a statistic for my father to revel in.

Of course, there is a downside to having fellow males appropriating the female struggle. Don’t expect any help from the men in my family simply because you are of the female form. Whenever I attempt to use that card it backfires on me. Such are the times when I instruct my brother to take the rubbish out, why? Because in certain parts of the world women aren’t allowed to step a foot outside so this is my way of standing in feminist solidarity with my fellow comrades. Needless to say he refuses to do so why? Because I need to step up to the equality game and be appreciative of privileges bestowed upon me as a young woman living in a first world culture and take out the rubbish myself, even if it is 2:00am.

Nor should I expect to be chauffeured to and fro when I can’t be bothered to utilise my bus pass and hop on public transport. Instead I am told by the male figures in my family (and females alike) that I should use that as a motivation to get my license and get my own car. Why… because some of us have to live with the burden of being chauffeured around and never getting the chance to exercise our inalienable right to frolic with the wheels of a vehicle.

Oh the dysphoria!

Ermm on a more trivial note I wonder if car insurance is cheaper for women on the basis that we are better drivers; even if I can’t attest to that myself, just yet!

Here is my Facebook, so add me maybe, baby!

No thank you, I don’t wish to add random people on my Facebook. Actually, hold that thought; yes I might add you just to see what you really are like beneath all that sleaze, ahem I mean charm. Too many selfies warrants some sort of an arrest, because 436 selfies later surely there is someone in your delusional universe that could be coerced into making a guest appearance into one of those 436 Lone Ranger-esque pictures. Where is Tonto?

Precise number, I know. What can I say I painstakingly analyse each one of those pictures for no other reason than for the greater good of humanity. You can thank me later, presumably when they catch the sociopath in question. And yes, once such social analysis is over, I delete the sociopath(s) and block them too. Depending on my disposition at the time they might even be reported; don’t ask me what I’m reporting them for though. The mind is a fickle!!

For all the ills people proclaim that Facebook bestowed on humanity, one thing is for sure that the dating charade is never quite going to be the same, thanks to Zuckerberg and Co. Like the saying goes it is how you utilise things that can either make it a bad or good thing. I am of the camp that Facebook is a positive addition to our otherwise mundane lives. Of course there is always going to be few culprits out there that abuse this social medium and ruin it for the rest of us nosey folks.

Prior to Facebook, you were unable to pre-empt any potential dating disasters. You weren’t able to suss out sleaze bags lurking in the periphery waiting for that opportune moment to strike and before you know it you are coerced into thinking that you are dating an Adonis of sorts, and you go through the traditional method of wasting time and energy dating this person only to find out 18months down the line that he is anything but. Thankfully Facebook has put an end to such callous bureaucracy.  With few clicks you can ascertain everything about your potential date.

Going out on a first date with someone isn’t a pre-requisite these days. Hearing people utter words like “oh how about I take you out for dinner at 8pm to my favourite restaurant and we can get to know each other” is far and few in between and sure as hell you won’t be hearing a potential date say to you “oh where do you live so I can come and pick you up”.  I blame part Facebook part Google Earth for the latter. Curiosity is dead, buried in chambers embellished with conveyor belts of selfies and second by second status updates.

Side note: a friend of mine once stumbled on her boyfriend’s ex girlfriend’s Facebook page (bit of a mouthful). Somehow after scouring few of the femme fatale’s illustrious pictures she felt so threatened by this entity that no longer existed but in her mind.  Needless to say the boyfriend wasn’t aware of how Facebook turned his girlfriend into a nocturnal detective. In fact he even instructed her from the onset of their relationship that they are not to add each other on Facebook as this will ruin their relationship.

An eyebrow raiser of a statement I know… but amidst all the narcissism that reeks out of that last sentence, perhaps there might have been a point to his instructions that my friend so carelessly ignored. In the months that followed my friend’s discovery, she lived in an irrational fear of not being good enough for her boyfriend based on his ex-girlfriend’s pictures (nothing kinky by way of clarification just aesthetics we are dealing with here folks).

Armoured with her newly discovered inferiority complex, my friend ended the relationship to her boyfriend’s dismay. The guilt of dating whom she thought was above her station was too much to take in. This set precedent for many more break ups and make ups that followed over the course of the years. Even when they were back together, she was of the realisation that her boyfriend was an unscrupulous seducer; who was destined to run away with anything with a pulse that wasn’t her because to quote her “he was easy on the eye”. I couldn’t help but think in that moment that perhaps my friend could do with having a cataract operation thirty years too soon! But let’s not get into that now. That is a side note for anther blog post(s).

Facebook allows us to eliminate the weak from the absolute. The dating game is a cut-throat business. There are no leeway’s to be given. Survival of the fittest and what have you (who makes these rules anyways…). Some people love to air out their dirty (always unpressed, sometimes wet, occasionally clean) laundry on social networking sites for all and Sundry to see. Men in particular have a thing for still keeping incriminating evidence from their past. There is no sane reason as to why you would have less than decent snap shots of  you and your ex still plastered on your Facebook wall when that relationship has dissolved; often captioned with soppy  commentary. Is it an emblem of your acquisitions, hmm?

Word of advice for men; you might want to keep your Facebook on private so poor unsuspecting feeble women such as the antagonist of my side note don’t have to contend with the likes of your ex-girlfriends. Women are complex creatures, even if I say so myself. Actually on a second thought DON’T, I quite enjoy scouring your pages, all in the name of research of course.