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Friday, 18 March 2016

A dull genus

Those derided Victorians, who looked upon every man as a potential husband, certainly extracted every ounce of interest from a dull genus.
Ethel Lina White - Some Must Watch (1933 - later filmed as The Spiral Staircase)

An interesting article from Quillette about a study which suggests society's view of males has soured.

“Depressing Study Finds Gender Stereotypes Haven’t Changed Since the 1980s,”proclaimed the New York magazine website the other day. The women’s site Bustle echoed the gloomy view: “Gender Stereotypes Just As Prevalent in 2016 As In The 1980s, New Study Finds, So Maybe Things Aren’t As Great As We’d Like To Believe.”

Yet a closer look at the study in question shows a far more complicated picture. While some beliefs about male and female traits and roles have indeed changed little since a similar survey in 1983, there has been a marked shift toward egalitarian attitudes on some important issues. There also seems to have been a marked shift toward more negative perceptions of men — which is arguably depressing, but probably not in the way the study’s authors and most of the commentators would like you to think...

Could stereotyping sometimes cause powerful women to be seen as kinder and more altruistic than powerful men? Recent research, such as the work of political scientists Deborah Jordan Brooks, Jennifer Lawless and Danny Hayes, suggests that today gender is more an asset than an obstacle for female politicians.

Yes, it’s likely that women who are perceived as too hard and cold are sometimes penalized because of societal expectations of female “niceness.” But surely, there are also times when the tendency to stereotype men as less understanding, warm, and capable of providing emotional support can result in unfairness to men. And some of that stereotyping is likely due not to patriarchy or lack of feminist progress, but do the direction feminism has taken in the last thirty years.

To my mind this has been going on for a very long time - certainly well before the eighties and particularly in popular entertainment. Remember The Likely Lads, a comedy about two idiot young men first broadcast in 1964? Or how about Laurel and Hardy?

4 comments:

Demetrius said...

My senior Aunt, born 1900, had a low opinion of men, her analysis of their capabilities being "Bloody Men". Her mother, born 1876 in Hanley, also had doubts, her favoured blood sport was shredding young clergymen on the subjects of theology and Biblical studies. One of her great grandma's was connected to Maria Edgeworth, whose "Castle Rackrent" was based on men known to her. I could keep going, but The Lady has found something for me to do.

Roger said...

Interesting word 'quillette', hard to pin down exactly the feeling that it engenders.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - I've known one or two dragons too, from a distance fortunately. The Maria Edgeworth connection is interesting, you can buy all her books on Kindle.

A K Haart said...

Roger - the image I have is a very small quill dyed pink.