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I don’t know what “wave” of feminism I represent. I have been a feminist since the 50s and it has always felt like a slog up a high hill, admittedly starting from somewhere already up the slope. I have never reached any water let alone glamorous waves!

But what has been happening since the concept of “waves” was first promulgated has left me confused. The reality sounds more like an eddy, sometimes a vortex . If it has been waves then lot of useful sand has been sucked out to sea at times. No, I’ve got it. A mixmaster going at full speed spitting out various mixtures to our tastes might now days rightfully  represent our gender.

I am often, probably legitimately, criticised by my (feminist) son for some of my opinions, inter alia my idea that choice within feminism is sometimes inappropriate for any woman at anytime. He says that when I deride the idea of “choice” being an essential part of all feminism I am actually saying that my choices are better than the choices of others. I take this point but still think that “choice” can be a slippery slope in some areas (take as an example foot bending stilettos) unless one has a full understanding of all the issues that may have influenced such a choice and why, rather than merely “they look smart.” But indeed I am probably at fault here, as he contends, in thinking the irrefutable science is the only issue.

However I cannot let go, even if I am at risk of implying “I know better”, when it is an issue that can cloud children’s outlooks so that, as adults, they may never have an opportunity to see  past childhood indoctrinations.

Today I received in the mail an advertisement from one of my favourite shops, “Spotlight”. It was an advertisement for party needs including children’s dress up clothes. I scanned with a small sigh of regret the face paint with glitter being advertised with only a picture of a girl. The three hats which were advertised were a pale pink pointy hat worn by a girl, a dark pink fairy crown also worn by a girl and a yellow builder’s hard hat worn by a boy. But these indeed could arguably be matters of choice.

Then I moved onto Superheros. They were divided into boy and girl Superheros. Spotlight, undoubtedly, is trying to do something here for feminism. A shelf of superhero costumes displaying wares in a way that indicated suitability for either gender at play would be great. But no, boys had all the advertised rights to the conventional costumes; to the proven heroes. The girl Superheros all come accessoried with a tutu. I would love to see the Superaerodynamics involved in the coping with a tutu whilst diving swiftly through the skies. How could Spider hero climb a wall without either squashing her tutu or being pushed off the wall by it in the midst of a delicate rescue mission? And I don’t know how Robin would cope at the sight of the tutu.

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Just as one cannot be a builder without wearing a hard hat, neither can one be a super hero, such as a paramedic, a firefighter, a deep sea rescue diver, an astronaught etc. wearing a tutu.

Whilst so ever young girls and boys, ever so innocently,  are being bombarded with these specificities of inequality by gender how can we not question the effect that this has on the capacities of all of us to make informed choices as adults?

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About Anne Powles

I am retired from paid employment. During my working life I have been variously and sometimes contemporaneously, wife, mother of four, lawyer, teacher and psychologist. I have also been a serial education junkie. As are we all, I have been an observer of the world around me. Here I have recorded some of my memories, observations and theorisings.
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2 Responses to Spotlight Advertisement

  1. Brian says:

    Are the supehero boxes really a sign of inequality? Or just a sign of difference percieved by the people who wanted to sell the products? I’m fairly certain some people like tutus better than superhero costumes, and others that think getting a superhero costume AND a tutu is totally amazeballs. I don’t blame them……

    I have no opinion on tutus, but I tend towards caution before criticising the behaviour of other people if it brings them happiness, unless I’m 100% certain that it’s wrong or harmful in some way to others.

    Which is the main reason I commented. I agree i said that about ‘choice’ in paragraph 3, but i want to to qualify my opinion a bit.

    Firstly, I have never meant to suggest that choice leads to positive or desirable outcomes. People ‘choose’ to take crystal meth, they ‘choose’ to leave their children in hot cars while they gamble in casinos. Some people ‘choose’, believe it or not, to wear stilletos and push-up bras for their own gratification (OMG). To say that choice is good is not the same as suggesting that all choices are good.

    Secondly, I have never denied that choices are influenced by enormous factors outside of people’s control. There is no ‘free choice’. But those that assert that other people’s choices are not ‘free’, logically must first admit that their own choices are not free either. To do otherwise is the same as bringing a gun to a knife fight. You cannot disarm your opponent with the very thing you use to defeat them. But if we go the whole hog and deconstruct everybody’s view, then where do we stop? What will we have left?

    Subjective choice as a model for equality and freedom is imperfect, but it is the only thing we genuinely have. Take that away, and I’m happy to bow out of the argument, I’d rather be in room 101 with the rats…… 😉

    • Anne Powles says:

      I certainly agree with freedom of choice. I have never, ever advocated the banning of either stilettos or the harmless tutu! But I think open minded, robust discussion is always an advantage as it partly allows us to have more idea about why we chose and enables us to clarify and enunciate our views or to change them. And whilst I think it is necessary, in such robust discussions, to be respectful in some areas such as in discussions of religion, surely clothing, provided people are warm and dry, should not be immune to negative comment when we are subject to so much very expensive, positive and competitive advertising.

      The question of freedom of choice for children is a different, interesting, and quite vexed area. Our censorship of what they watch on various screens is one example. I probably err on the side of thinking that sometimes they need more freedom of choice. But again, once people have choice, even as children, they should have education in the development of how to apply their intellectual capacity to defend such choices and support with emotional maturity to take on board that others might have different views. They are particularly prone to follow peers and thus are in a more vulnerable situation regarding clever marketing. Robust discussion helps them to develop these capacities.

      PS. In the photo the girls did not appear to have the whole costume plus a tutu. If it is so this would indeed raise different arguments that it perhaps it is the boys who are here subject to discrimination. But in the photo the tutu seems to be a substitute for the male legging/ trouser!

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