Have you experienced sexism lately? Have you experienced it ever? Lord for a day when no one even knows the meaning of the word. I think if you live in Australia that day will be a long time coming though especially given the home-grown television shows like A Current Affair.*
Earlier this week, they aired a segment called Lady tradies about women who have trained and now work as electricians, plumbers and mechanics. It's one thing to let girls AND boys know they 'can do anything' with their lives, it's another to make it seem girls will have a manicure station in a car repair workshop or sit around gas-bagging to old ladies over cups of tea instead of working bringing a gentler, kinder, cleaner facet to an industry currently dominated by smelly, unscrupulous neanderthals.
Questions in the show such as:
- "Do you think a woman can do the job just as well as a man?"
- "How do you keep such good fingernails?"
and comments that included:
- "When it comes down to the names of the parts, she knows just as much."
- "giving the blokes a run for their money"
- "she doesn't mind getting her hands dirty.."
- "[name] is a mechanic, though you'd never guess by her fingernails."
It's infuriating.** Not only for the classification of these women as "out of their traditional roles" but also the backhanded stereotyping of male tradesmen.
Not all tradesmen are smelly, grubby, bum-cracked oafs. In fact, in this day and age you wouldn't be hired to plumb a sink or wire a plug if you can't communicate and don't take a professional approach to your appearance and your work - regardless of it's nature, or your gender.
I am deeply disappointed that after all these years, and all the shit woman have gone through in the workforce to get to a place where stories like this screen at dinner time to families across this country. It's like 1980 all over again - except you don't even know it - living in a world where a woman doing an ordinary, every day job like being an electrician or a mechanic warrants it's own segment on television where it's shown as odd or unusal, and worse still, carries a message of "shirking tradition and getting their hands dirty".
Didn't we shirk that tradition 30 years ago? Have we just treading water all this time, people?
*Not really sure if they were trying show women in this light, or if they're just not very bright people trying to show women can do anything they're trained and able to do - just like everyone else. And yes, I know it's a trashy show, but a lot of households watch this trash during the week. The ideas that come through the screen infuse themselves into the culture where they encourage old-fashioned ideas such as woman working as anything other than a nurse, a teacher or a mum, is different and a bit odd and definately unusual.
**I betcha if I did some research, the women who worked in typically male dominated industries while men were away fighting during World War Two were asked very similar questions and fielded the exact same comments and assumptions - but that was 70 years ago! and we've come a long way since then.