Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Your Rant For The Day

I somehow doubt that I'm going to get all the stuff I intended to get done today finished, but I did at least manage to get to the store to buy a card for my Dad's upcoming birthday, and Mother's Day cards for the various motherly types in my life.

And, man... You know, I love all these people and don't in the slightest begrudge them a lousy greeting card (or even a present if I'm feeling inspired, although this year I simply haven't had the time). But I nevertheless always find perusing the greeting card aisle or shopping for Mother's/Father's Day a distasteful process, just because the whole thing is basically one big exercise in gender stereotyping.

No, really, think about it. What kinds of themes do you see on cards aimed at men and boys? Sports, cars, hunting and fishing, tools... Father's Day cards that don't use one of those themes inevitably portray Dad as the protector, teacher, and gentle disciplinarian, or poke fun at his lack of domestic skills, or offer to let him have the TV remote for the day. Girls and women, of course, get flowers and cuddly animals, or jokes about shopping, dating, or losing one's looks, and Mother's Day cards inevitably portray Mom as a self-sacrificing nurturer and domestic goddess. What I want to know is, where are the cards for women who play golf or men who like gardening? My Mom's a NASCAR fan, but I'm sure as hell never going to find a card with the word "Mom" and a picture of a race car on it. Where are the cards praising Dad for kissing boo-boos and being a good cook, or Mom for putting her foot down in ways that come to be appreciated later in life and teaching her kids home repair skills? Why are these people -- and they do exist -- invisible on Mother's Day and Father's Day? Why do all little kids, from the time they're old enough to watch ads on TV, "know" perfectly well that a kitchen appliance is a good gift for Mom and a power tool is a great gift for Dad, whether that's true of their own particular Mom and Dad or not?

Aargh. And people wonder why I usually just opt for cards with stupid puns.


  1. Because it's much easier to market to a large group, even if the only thing that connects them is a handful of agreed-upon (and false) cliches, than to several smaller niche groups that are not connected at all. It's easier to think in terms of demographics. Those cliches -- and the simple, organized way of looking at the world that comes with them -- are still widespread, even if they are false.

  2. Yeah, I know. It was a rhetorical question or something, really. But I find the cliched stereotypes, and the easy, unconscious acceptance of those cliched stereotypes, annoying in the extreme, if not downright offensive.

    I suppose the real question I want to ask isn't "Why are things this way?" but "Why don't more people notice that things are this way and find it as unpleasant as I do?"

  3. Personally, I like puns.

  4. Technically, you're getting a joke, rather than a pun. ;)

  5. You make my rants seem minor and whiny.

    What I want to know is, where are the cards for ... men who like gardening?
    Sniffle. Thanks for thinking of me.

  6. The cards for men who like gardening are all in the UK. Our cards have just as stereotyped a view of men and women as yours do, but it seems that here gardening is seen as a male activity as well as a female one.