Category Archives: Gender Stereotyping

The curse of Mills and Boon

As reported by the Daily Telegraph earlier today Mills and Boon apparantly cause marriage break-ups, adulterous affairs and unwanted pregnancies.

The reason: women are unable to distinguish between real life and romantic novels.

The research, published by the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, claims the romantic novels, famously published by Mills and Boon, promote values which run counter to the aims of family planning clinics.

Susan Quilliam, a relationship psychologist and author of the article, told the Telegraph:

“What we see in our consulting rooms is more likely to be informed by Mills & Boon than by the Family Planning Association.”

So can it really be true?  Are modern day women so easily confused? Or is this research more akin to something which might be published by Mills and Boon themselves?

Comments are welcome!




The Sky Sports Sexism Saga

This week the media has been engulfed in the drama surrounding the sexist comments made about lines woman Sian Massey and the subsequent sacking and resignation of pundits Andy Gray and  Richard Keys respectively.

The topic even made it onto Question Time on Thursday night, where business woman and former contestant on The Apprentice Katie Hopkins caused her own controversy by suggesting women could not take equal treatment.  She  said:

“I think Sky Sports has completely lost its sense of humour. I think as a nation potentially we have lost our collective sense of humour.

“I think people like Karren Brady, who have appointed herself patron saint of all things equal, does not speak on behalf of all of the sisterhood.

“I think women actually don’t want equal treatment, they couldn’t handle it if they got it, quite a number of them. It’s a tough world out there.

“I think the art of banter is something we should be proud of as a nation. I worked for a while in the military and our forces, the best in the world, in my opinion, they survive in banter. I think we need to keep that, we need to look after it.”

But does the sacking of a sports commentator, who incidentally is paid 1.7 million for the pleasure, really constitute Sky Sports losing its sense of humour?

For a start it is  questionable whether the comments made by Gray and Keys should even constitute “banter”, which surely is more than just being rude, and not to mention clichéd.

The term “banter”  covers a multitude of sins.  It seems you can call anyone anything, cover it with a veneer of humour and call it banter, no matter how nasty or unpleasant the underlying sentiment.

The fact is that male dominated work industries can be sexist and bullying towards female members of staff.  And even when its labelled a joke, its hard to deal with being constantly undermined on a daily basis.

In these sorts of industries it is important to question whether perhaps bullying may simply have been re-labelled as banter.

If this is the case, it is simply not acceptable.

Today, the most read story on the Daily Mail website is

Sky Sports sexists made my life hell, says woman worker who lost her home after being reduced to a nervous wreck

In it, Vanessa Bridger, former employee of Sky Sports told the Mail:

“Sexism and bullying is a culture which can be found throughout Sky Sports,

“When you work there, it’s so accepted that you think it’s normal. But it’s damaged so many people, and it has to stop. Maybe now it will.”

If women are ever going to achieve equality in the work place, cultures where sexism is perceived as normal will have to be tackled.




Tips for a Happy Marriage

Christmas is a time for family, but we all know that even in the happiest of families there can be tensions over the festive period.  In 1913 Blanche Ebbutt published some handy hints for husbands and wives to try and ensure matrimonial bliss.

Here are some of the don’t for wives:

  • Don’t forget to wish your husband good-morning when he sets off to the office. He will feel the lack of your good-bye kiss all day.
  • Don’t let your husband wear a violet tie with grass-green socks.  If he is unhappily devoid of colour sense, he must be forcibly restrained.
  • Don’t despise the domestic potato. There are a hundred appetising ways of cooking it, but unless you take it firmly in hand, it will arrive at table with the consistency of half-melted ice-mushy without, stony within. The boiled potato is the rock on which many a happy home barque has foundered.
  • Don’t bother your husband with a stream of senseless chatter if you can see he is fatigued. Help him to the titbits at dinner; modulate your voice; don’t remark on his silence. If you have any cheery little annecdote to relate, tell it with quiet humour, and by-and-by he will respond. But if you tackle him in the wrong way, the two of you will spend a miserable evening.
  • Don’t talk to your husband about anything of a worrying nature until he has finished his evening meal.
  • Don’t be satisfied to let your husband work overtime to earn money for frocks for you. Manage with fewer frocks.
  • Don’t think it beneath you to put your husband’s slippers ready for him. On a cold evening, especially, it makes all the difference to his comfort if the soles are warmed through.
  • Don’t let him have to search the house for you. Listen for his latch-key and meet him on the threshold.
  • Don’t check your husband’s high spirits. Let him sing at the top of his voice in the bathroom, or whistle out of tune on the stairs, and be thankful for a cheerful man about the house.
  • Don’t nag your husband. If he won’t carry out your wishes for love of you, he certainly won’t because you nag him.

And for the men…

  • Don’t fidget. some husbands are never still for a moment. they walk in and out of rooms like the wandering Jew; they play with the salt at dinner; they draw lines on the tablecloth with a fork; they tap the table with their fingers and the floor with their feet; they creak their slippers and drop the coal tongs on to the tiled hearth. In fact, they keep their wives in a state of tension, and the poor creatures would need nerves of iron to enable them to stand the strain.
  • Don’t sharpen pencils all over the house as you walk about. Try a hearth or a waste-paper basket, or a newspaper. It does not improve either carpets or the servants’ temper to find scraps of pencil-sharpenings all over the floors.
  • Don’t hang about the house all day if your occupation does not take you abroad. Spend regular hours in your study or ‘den’ or go out and play golf; but don’t inflict your company on your wife during every minute of every day. She is fond of you, but she wants to be free sometimes. And she has business to do, even if you haven’t.
  • Don’t keep her is cotton-wool. She isn’t wax – she is a woman.
  • Don’t ‘nag’ your wife. If she has burnt a cake or forgotten to sew on a button, she doesn’t want to be told of it over and over again.
  • Don’t take the attitude that wives, like children, should be seen and not heard. No doubt you are a very clever fellow, and it is an education for her to listen to you, but she may also have some views worth mentioning.
  • Don’t grumble day after day at your wife’s untidiness if you happen to be a methodical man. It will be much easier, and will save friction, if you quietly put away the things she leaves lying about, her untidiness may be a constitutional defect, and, if so, no amount of grumbling will cure it.
  • Don’t say anything to your children that may tend in any way to lower their estimation of their mother don’t insist on having gorgonzola or other strong-smelling cheese on the table or sideboard twice a day when you know the odour makes your wife feel ill. After all, it is a small thing to forgo in comparison with your wife’s comfort.
  • Don’t forget to use a reasonable amount of caution should your hobby be one that may be dangerous. Your wife doesn’t want you to be ‘funky’ but she has the right to expect you not to take undue risk in your motor-car, bicycle or flying-machine.

Remember and marital bliss will be yours!

Why are Women’s Magazines All the Same?

Women’s magazines are generally obsessed with the things they think most women are interested in; fashion, diets, men and sex.

Of course many women are interested in these things, but are they really the only things they want to read about?  Especially when most of the content isn’t even that original.

It seems every month readers of magazine such as Glamour [the biggest selling magazine in the UK] and Cosmopolitan are given the same menu of sex tips and beauty shortcuts.

It seems there is no market for women’s magazines which are not full of shiny, beautiful [and airbrushed] people who we can aspire to be like.

The French market is very similar, but in 2009 Grégory Lassus-Debat launched Causette [or “chat”],  a magazine where the women are not airbrushed, have cellulite and are interested in things such as politics.

Lassus-Debut was denied a loan because the bank thought such a magazine had no market and no future.

However, sales last month had reached 25,000 for this year, about the same as She or Easy Living in the UK.  Not a huge market, but a sustainable one.

Lassus-Debat told The Times

“I didn’t do any market studies, but I instinctively felt that there would be a demand for a magazine without Kate Moss and diets in it,”

According to Lassus-Debat the magaizine is not feminist per se , but

“A magazine that is interested in women’s lives, in their struggles and in the defence of their rights,”

The last issue included stories about the women’s lobby in the European Union, non-violent resistance on the West Bank and the decline of the  le Mouvement de Libération des Femmes [The women’s liberation movement].

Not your typical women’s magazine fodder.

I argued last week that women’s magazines in the UK reinforce stereotypes rather than challenge them.  Chausette does the opposite.

And if there is a market in France, why not in the UK as well?

Adverts and Gender Stereotyping

Last week the winning team on the Apprentice produced possibly one of the most sexist adverts I have ever seen.

But while their effort was spectacularly awful in its portrayal of gender roles, they are not alone in producing fairly gendered adverts.

Sometimes it’s really obvious, but sometimes it can be a lot more subtle.

Think of the Persil advert which shows boys getting gloriously dirty in the mud while a little girl gets messy with chocolate in the kitchen.

Is portraying women and women, and even boys and girls, in such gendered ways really the only way of selling products?

And why do women seem to like yoghurt so much?

One advert which particularly annoys me is the one for Oven Pride, which appears with the slogan “So easy a man can do it.”  Not only is it demeaning to men but it reinforces women’s ‘natural talent’ for cleaning and home making.

Very helpful.

On the plus side though, at least we don’t have adverts like these any more.