Imagine a secretary. I’m willing to bet my almost-complete Nando’s card that you are now picturing a doe-eyed, perfectly manicured, breast-tastic simpleton of a woman, complete with a plastic smile and the lowest IQ of the building, or indeed the city, that your sub-consciously sexist brain has placed her in.
Now imagine a lawyer. A businessman. A doctor. A bank manager. A world class chef. Or just a plain old millionaire. Your imagination has most likely suddenly flipped to instead conjure up a highly intellectual, middle aged man, complete with an oblivious wife and hot young gold digging girlfriend (see above for details).
Porn (and Other Issues)
Sexist stereotyping can often be unintentional, but that doesn’t make it fair. And the media’s presentation of women in the workplace often doesn’t help; in fact, it instils within us the stigmas we then automatically attach to various conventionally ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ jobs – the ‘masculine’ being superior jobs, of course.
Take porn, for example. After conducting a very informal interview with a willing male subject (who shall remain anonymous in case his mother somehow reads this), he stated that the four main categories of women in porno’s are teacher, schoolgirl, MILF, and nurse. The connotations of these ladies’ occupations are pretty self evident: they all report to, and, of course, inevitably shag the relevant dominating male, in a flimsily reconstructed scene of an actual workplace. Obviously, everyone knows porn does not equal reality (or at least you’ve gotta hope they do, or they’re in for a nasty shock), but it’s no wonder that women are subconsciously placed under these career categories.
Obviously, other forms of media also reinforce this negative stereotyping. This summer’s bestseller, ‘50 Shades of Grey’, features a ditzy, tentative, awestruck virgin being swept away by a perverted millionaire. Within the first few chapters you also meet Mr Grey’s female, an also predictably pretty, secretary. Who can blame us for sexist stereotyping when it is constantly flaunted at us through literature, films, and the occasional porno?
A Hint of Optimism
Yet maybe we should all just have a little faith. Maybe the next wave of so-called ‘cliterature’ will focus on a successful, empowered, sexually liberated female instead. And maybe this female’s feisty persona won’t disintegrate at the first sign of affection from a heroic male protagonist. Then maybe we will all start to accept that women can, and do, have allegedly ‘masculine’ jobs, and that they’re damn good at them, too.