How to Act: A Girl’s Guide

Well, here are we again. A sequel to my How to Dress: A Girl’s Guide. I’d say it’s due to popular demand, but really I just have a lot of built-up feelings on the matter. This ‘guide’ is about how girls should act and behave. After all, there’s no point looking the part if you can’t play it, right? So, grab your notebook and a pen, and get ready for some valuable little tips and lessons.

 

General Behaviour:

Bat your eyes at any opportunity. It keeps your eyes clear of dirt and makes you look endearing. Not too much though, you don’t want to look like you’re having a spasm or twitch.

Smile. At all times. If your face doesn’t hurt you’re not smiling hard enough. Imagine you’ve got string attached to the corners of your mouth which is being pulled. In serious or sadder situations, ‘smize’ (smile with your eyes), because you should always appear bright and lively.

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Don’t show extreme emotions. You must remain calm and collected at all times. If you get angry, you’ll be considered a ‘bitch’; if you’re crying, you’ll only make those around you uncomfortable. If you’re too happy or excited, you’ll be considered loud and “in your face”. In case of emergencies when you accidentally let your emotions get the better of you (rookie mistake), blame it on hormones. Or your period.

Act ditzy. Men think it’s cute, and you seem more fun. Not too ditzy though, or you’ll be called an ‘airhead’. If you happen to be blonde, brace yourself for some really great jokes coming your way. In the rare case that you are in fact smart, don’t let people know. It’s emasculating and belittling. Why would you want to lower others’ self esteem? Don’t correct others if they’re wrong, either – it’s embarrassing for them. Besides, nobody likes a ‘know-it-all’.

 

Speaking:

Don’t raise your voice. This is sort of a mute point because you’ll only speak when spoken to, so you’ll be given adequate time to respond. If you’re not given an opportunity to respond, then your input clearly isn’t wanted.

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Don’t question anything. It only undermines people, you wouldn’t want to do that now, would you? The only questions you should ask are: “What?”, “Can you help me?”, “What do you want for dinner?”and “How was work, honey?”

Always support your partner’s ideas. Tell him that remortgaging the house to invest in capital bonds is a great idea. Why would you want to make him sad? Besides, I hear “Brexit” is doing wonders for the economy, so it could be a great time to invest.

Laugh at your own expense. If you make a mistake (which you likely will, you are a woman after all), the best way to recover is to make a little joke blaming it on your gender. Some favourites which never fail are: “Well, that’s what happens when you let me out of the kitchen!”, “I should’ve stuck to making sandwiches!” or “Too busy thinking about shoes!” If you make a mistake at work, don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re getting paid 18% less than your male colleagues, so less is expected of you anyway.

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Physical Behaviour:

Cross your legs. Always sit with your legs crossed. Don’t ask why, you just do. You get used to the knee pain.

Don’t open doors. Stand outside and wait until someone else comes along and opens it for you. Don’t you know that doors are heavy? You could snap your little elbows.

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Look at this smart gal patiently waiting to get into work

Don’t carry heavy items, wait for someone to help you. It’s not safe, and men feel more masculine when they have to help. Plus, you could end up breaking a nail, yikes.

Don’t drive. You’ll be a horrible driver. You can’t parallel park and you’ll only spend the whole time looking at yourself in that wee mirror. Plus, airbags will take all your lovely makeup clean off your face. Now, wouldn’t that be a shame?

-Sidenote: There’s an impressive amount of stock images there are of women doing this. These are just my faves. And the few without ‘Shutterstock’ plastered all over them.

Ignore unwanted physical contact. Don’t confront others, they might harm you. It’s better to keep your head down, say nothing and walk away. You could report it, but would you want to get someone in trouble over a bit of miscommunication?

 

Work:

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Bangin’ tune, dontcha think?

Earn less than your partner – do not become more professionally successful. This means not applying for promotions or jobs which require qualifications. Not that you should have any qualifications. Better yet, don’t get a job. The home won’t make itself after all.

Don’t ask for a pay rise. You would get paid more if you deserved it. The fact you’re even allowed to work is privilege, don’t be ungrateful.

Don’t go for promotions either. You’ll never be picked as your male colleagues are much more qualified and better suited. You’d only be wasting your employer’s and colleagues’ time. Just get a job where there are no career building opportunities, problem solved.

 

Home (where you belong):

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Keep the house clean and tidy. Well nobody likes mess, silly.

Be maternal. You should be able to stop a crying child within 3 seconds. You must of course want children, a career is no goal for any sane lady. Your body was made to procreate and give life. It would be sinful to waste this.

Make a continental breakfast every morning. Ensure you have croissants, fruit salad, pancakes and orange juice ready on the table. Your family will only ever ignore these and have a piece of toast on their way out, but isn’t it nice to have choice? It’s not like you have anything else to be at anyway.

 

Eating Out:

Choose your food carefully. If you order something fatty or calorific, people will pull faces and make comments like “I like a girl that can eat” which makes it seem like you shouldn’t be ordering it. But, if you order something healthy like a salad, people will pull faces and pass comments about how it’s “rabbit food”. You can’t win, really. It’s safer to stay at home. I’m sure you make a lovely roast, anyway.

Which reminds me, don’t order “the chips”. You may want chips, but if you order them, people will say things like “Oh, you’re having chips?” “Cheat day today then?” “How many syns is that?”, order something else, like the salad. And have a few of your companions chips. I’m sure they won’t mind.

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Oh. Maybe they will..

 

There you go, folks. Now you know how to act like a proper lady! These are basically some of the things that women spend their whole lives being told. Think I’m being dramatic? Well I don’t. Then again, I’ve grown up seeing these ‘rules’ everywhere, so I don’t really notice them anymore.

 

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The “F” Word

Bet that got your attention, eh?

Feminism.

What other word would I be talking about? Shame on you.

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Recently, I bought a book about feminism, and reading it made me realise how, for someone who considers themselves to be a ‘feminist’, there’s so much I actually don’t know about the history and topic itself. I then proceeded to buy 4 books on the subject because I wanted to learn a bit more (and I couldn’t choose between them). While reading it, I realised that there is no one type of ‘feminism’ – everyone has their own individual experience and views. It’s not “you’re either this type of feminist, or you’re not a feminist” – it’s the same way that no two people of the same religion have exactly the same religious views/opinions. It’s a very personal thing, and everyone has their own ways of being a feminist.

Yes, there’s the old “Oh so you’re a feminist but you want your dates to pay for your stuff? Doesn’t seem very equal to me.” Well, who doesn’t want free stuff? Pretty sure you’d rather not have to pay for your food either like.

And yes, I like having doors held open for me. I don’t care who holds the door, I just don’t want it hitting my face.

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But anyway, this is basically some of what feminism[s] mean to me.

It means not having to change my name when if I get married. Getting married (if anyone should be so lucky) doesn’t change me or who I am, it doesn’t make me any less “me” and any more my husband. To me, my name represents who I am and what me and my family have been through. If he doesn’t have to change his name, why should I? I’m still me, just with a ring on my finger. I know many people choose to take their partner’s names, and that’s perfectly fine, at the end of the day it’s a choice, and that’s enough for me.

It means identifying as ‘Ms’. On forms and accounts, I tick the ‘Ms’ box, because it’s nobody’s business whether I’m married or not – what difference does it make? What has my ~questionable~ relationship history or status got to do with anything? To me, if a man doesn’t have to state his marital status, then I sure as hell don’t.

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It means not having to choose between having a career or children. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. I don’t want to have to make a decision on which of the two is more important to me, I have a right to have both. Paternal leave to me means that both parents should have equal opportunities to be with their family, and be at work. I want my cake (preferably carrot), and I want to eat it to, please agus thank you.

It means being able to support myself and live independently, not needing a man to “look after me” *que Ne-Yo ‘Miss Independent’*. It means not having to rely on someone else to be able to apply for a mortgage or a bank loan, or have enough money to eat and live comfortably. I don’t want whether or not I live with someone, to decide whether or not I live.

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It means having an education and a career. I am so lucky to have grown up in a time and place where I had equal access to education as males. I know that so many others aren’t as lucky as I am, with millions of girls never setting foot in a school in their lives. I’m so lucky to have been presented with the opportunities I have been, which have enabled me to receive an education and go to university and work. I want the choice and option to choose my future.

It means having opinions and being able to express them. Whether or not views and opinions matter should be based on the merit of what is said, not who says it. Being listened to is a whole other story.

It means supporting other women. It means raising others up, even if it’s something as small as commenting ‘YASSSSS QUEEN’ on an Instagram photo, or telling that stranger in the nightclub toilets that her highlight is “poppin'”. It’s so important to support each other, instead of making everything a competition and tear each other down. Don’t insult your ex’s new girlfriend, feel sorry for the poor girl.

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It means believing in equal domestic responsibilities. Your gender shouldn’t define what you do around the house. All to often, females are subjected to the homemaker role- taking on the majority of cooking, cleaning and childcare responsibilities. I’m not saying that females shouldn’t do any of these, I’m saying that these roles should be shared. Take it in turns, do half each – I don’t think it should be ‘who does what’, but ‘who does what this time‘. Basically, make your own sandwich. And do the dishes after. Merci.

This is just a very brief summary of some of the views I have on the subject, and you may disagree with them, and that’s fine. These are MY opinions which I hold based off MY experiences. I’m not trying to make you share these views, just respect them and understand why I hold them.

Gender Roles Are Changing – So Why Aren’t Ads?

I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time now, but I’ve barely had a chance to get out of the kitchen to do so.

I know what you’re probably thinking, “here we go again, another feminist rant”. Well, before you roll your eyes (they’ll get stuck up there, you know), hear me out.

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Who is the typical lead role in ads for cleaning products? Kitchen appliances? Childcare products? Yep, that’s right, a woman.

Why is that?

Studies have found that cleaning, housework and childcare duties are typically performed by females. So of course, companies are going to target that demographic; I mean, it would be silly to not target your primary users, right?

If we’re going to picture ourselves using products, the ads need to be relatable, and what other way is there than to be similar to the person using the advertised product?

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But, it’s a cycle.

Products are aimed at women because women are the primary users of said products. But women are the primary users because they’re always the demographic shown using the products.

These products are aimed at women, so women buy them. So they continued to be aimed at women, who continue to buy them. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Women will see these ads and think “oh, that’s aimed at me, I should be using that”.

Men will see these ads and think “oh its aimed at women, it’s not relevant to me” and thus not pay attention. And vice versa for male-targeted advertising.

If it’s not aimed at you and it’s not for you, why would you go buy it? I don’t see ads for chainsaws and think “hmmm, must get me one of those.”

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Ads don’t just sell products, they sell lifestyles and societal norms too. They create desire. To achieve the ‘desired’ lifestyle shown in the ad you should act how the actors are acting, use what they’re using, behave how they’re behaving. You should picture yourself as them.

It just so happens that the ‘desired’ lifestyle tends to consist of sexist and old-fashioned gender roles. Gender roles which reflect a sexist and old fashioned society.

But, things have changed are changing. More men are helping out around the house and with child care. Women are leaving the kitchen to go out to work and have careers. Men *gasps* make their own sandwiches.

Yes, our society does ~sadly~ tend to follow traditional gender roles – but maybe that’s because that’s all  we see? In a way, these ads reinforce the sexist and old-fashioned gender roles.

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Surely if cleaning and childcare products were targeted at males, then more males would use them? If you show women using home decor products and gardening tools, maybe we’d use them more because we would be able to see ourselves using these products? (I mean I personally wouldn’t but that’s not the point)

My point is, ads should be changing to reflect the changing society that we live in. Not reflecting the society we did live in. Do they not use PESTLE? Please tell me I didn’t sit through 5 years of hearing about PESTLE analysis to find out companies don’t actually use it.

– Brief recap: PESTLE is a ‘fun’ way to remember the components of external market influences; Political, Economic, SOCIAL, Technological, Legal and Environmental. My GCSE Business Studies teacher would be so proud. Basically companies are meant to analyse what’s going on in the world around them and be aware of changes, like yano, women being allowed to work and not being forced to be housewives? Wee things like that.

Companies and advertisers need to respond to these societal changes. I mean, why limit yourself to 50% of the population? Targeting both sexes gives you access to a whole other demographic. Double the potential customers, double the potential sales, double the potential dolla.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we have come on a bit from the old days of women in aprons baking pies and cleaning while their husbands are busy at work or ignoring their children.

There have of course been ads with women doing DIY, men changing nappies (yes, you can do it too) and cleaning, and- dare I say it, women working. But the sad thing is, these ads aren’t the norm, they’re the rarity.

I think we need to see less distinct gender roles in advertising (and in general, for that matter). After all, how can you expect society to progress if you don’t show what it could and should be like? Equality. Make that the ‘desired’ lifestyle.

 

If you show multiple genders using the products, then multiple genders will buy and use them. Then you can target multiple genders who will continue to buy and use them.

Like I said, it’s a cycle. But I think advertisers need to start pedalling.