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Monday, 25 November 2013

Thoughts on Blogging and Stereotyping

I recently came across this article in the University Times. http://universitytimes.ie/?p=22278 The writer talks about a successful Irish showbiz and beauty blog - So Sue Me (www.sosueme.ie). Now I am not a reader of this blog myself, however, I really did not like the article. 

The author says sarcastically that blog's main topics - fashion, beauty and showbiz - are all there is to life. What is wrong with them? I like all three. My own blog mainly focuses on the irrelevant too. Does that mean I think there is nothing more to life than them? Why can't I focus on one thing without it implying that's all I care about?

I also like maths, ancient languages and history, computing and technology but I don't blog about them here. Just because I don't mention them doesn't mean they aren't important to me. 

I realise myself and Sue are likely to be different, I work with maths and statistics and she probably doesn't. But our websites are going after the same readers. Girls who like some of the more pretty but unnecessary things in life. 

The sentence in the article that really gets me is this one. Apparently the blog represents:

'selective look at womanhood, a restrictive idea of what a woman should be.'

Surely all 'looks at womanhood' are selective? Why are only some bad? Ones that don't fit into a predetermined agenda? Where does a blog on beauty and showbiz try to restrict women? Can you not like these things and be successful in other areas too? As a successful actuary, I haven't been restricted by it. 

I have felt I am a victim of this attitude throughout my life. I have been told I am doing myself 'a disservice' by watching trashy tv or reading the Daily Mail, given that I am intelligent. Apparently it's ok for girls who are not good at maths but not for me. I spend my days in work being intelligent, why can't I come home and space out like everyone else? Some people seem to think I should be reading academic journals at night. 

People I meet sometimes say I don't look like an actuary. They are surprised to hear I work in something like that and not in something more silly or easy. Apparently because I wear make up and dresses, I am automatically not up for something like hard maths, or succeeding in the business world. 

I had a great childhood, my mathematician father gave me jigsaws and puzzles rather than dolls. I was allowed dress how I wanted, including cutting my hair short aged 9. I read a lot and was encouraged to study chemistry, physics, become an engineer etc. I have a first class degree in Financial Maths. And guess what, my favourite website is still the Daily Mail... 

The article's author mentions being disappointed SoSueMe conforms to a 'predetermined concept of female.' What is so wrong with this? My blog also does this, however, in other areas of my life, I feel I very much don't fit into the mould. Should I only blog about these aspects of my life?

What is actually wrong with liking make up anyway? Why am I made feel bad about it by other intelligent girls? 

Whether it may be assuming women are all vacuous or thinking one who is academically intelligent shouldn't be interested in something pretty also, stereotyping of women is bad full stop, 

3 comments:

  1. Great post! There is absolutely nothing wrong with embracing femininity, or any of the interests that entertain you. I hate this pigeon-holing of women by their choices. Just because I chose to write about beauty and lifestyle does not mean I'm vacuous (MSc Medicinal Chemistry actually). And just because a woman chooses to raise her children at home for a few years, neither means she is unintelligent nor worthless to society. Eh, maybe I enjoy makeup artistry (that's exactly what it is, an art form)? And maybe that stay at home mother is selflessly giving her children the best start in life?

    Ah society, how I hate you sometimes.
    Kat | DollyRouge

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! Great to hear of other ladies who are rocking it academically/professionally and still enjoying their hobbies, whatever they may be. If we just stop thinking about what we're supposed to be and let people have an equal opportunity to do whatever it is they want.

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  2. Those who matter do understand what you mean, Rachel. Those who don't get it will apply their ingenuity at not getting it.

    I've always been called as the "pretty one - hence not much happening upstairs" as a child, which couldn't be further from the truth. I did too much thinking in my mind, silently. Maybe one or two people were kind to me, but we tend to remember the mean ones, don't we...? Or at least I used to try to understand them.

    My father was a mathematician as well, fantastic father though he died when I was 19. I would have loved to be able to discuss maths/philosophy with him these days.

    I think there are damaged people and those tend to tear others down whichever way they can. If someone makes you feel bad for no good reason, remember what drives them. But the best thing to do is to mirror them back to them, it's the only way they'd understand/grow.

    I always admired my maths lecturers who had well developed interests other than maths, as long as they didn't use it to be snobbish... Who am fooling, even if they were snobs too.

    Some people need to be in touch with nature and beauty, etc.. I spent most of my childhood alone, quietly observing the surroundings or enjoying crafts/collecting/running. I was that weird kid and people reminded me of that daily. Do I care? Yes. Would that change how I live my life and what I like? No.

    I'm not a supporter of blaming anyone, life is more complex than that... It's important to persevere, don't give up if you would rather go on! :-)

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