Everyday Sexism

Friday, November 30th, 2012 @ 3:59PM

I recently attended a Labour Women’s Network Conference in London where I was fortunate to enough to listen to a panel debate which included speakers from the Everyday Sexism project and the No More Page 3 campaign.

That experience heightened my senses to the little slices of sexism and inherent misogyny that we often let roll over us because of our resolute focus on the big picture issues like 50/50 representation and equal pay. Yet spend just 2 mins browsing through the first person accounts of women across the UK on the EverydaySexism website and you’ll see how far we are from being that modern progressive, equal nation that we want to be.

When my friend Kirsty Connell spotted this blatant example of everyday sexism on Amazon’s website she tweeted: “Thanks @AmazonUK for letting me know business, politics and sci-fi aren’t for my pretty little head #everydaysexism” – her tweet was retweeted an incredible 1000 times in less than 24 hours.

Animal Calendars? Steamy novels? Craft books? Seriously –  is that what Amazon really thinks every woman wants this Christmas…?!

I’ve discussed this with a few people and a couple were brave enough to suggest that surely Amazon just base their marketing on what sells best – something they can tell from their click throughs and balance sheets.Even if that were true – and I seriously doubt that the one item women are most likely to purchase on Amazon’s website is an animal calendar – it’s arguably all a bit chicken and egg. Do men buy sporting biographies because that’s what they truly want to read or because society tells them that’s what they should be reading?

Either way, it simply fails to address the fact that listing gifts in this way perpetuates the myth that there are some types of books which are exclusively for women and some for men. Just as men are builders and women nurses.

A couple of women, I think from York, recently challenged WH Smith to change the way they market titles in stores – the Economist, New Statesman and National Geographic all listed under “Men’s Lifestyle” magazines. They appealed to the female Chief Executive of WH Smith and won.

I’ve now written to the Chief Executive of Amazon UK asking them to detail just exactly why they continue to perpetuate these gender stereotypes and will share the response in the Mailroom when it comes in.

We can change this – if we organise, mobilise and agitate, just like Kirsty Connell has done.


* * * UPDATE * * * – 30th November 4pm ish

It looks as though Amazon have thought better of their advertising strategy… I’ve not received a response to the letter i sent earlier this week yet – but this is a promising development


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