Before I went home on Christmas I passed this bar in downtown Reykjavík and shook my head at the casual sexism in the sign (all men like sports! women are sooooo into shopping!).
Last weekend I went on the discussion forum for the people participating in the long distance study of my current university course and one other student had already posted under what I recognized as a male Icelandic name. "Hello", it said. "I'm a nurse". Automatically I rechecked the name and then I felt bad.
Today we celebrated the 100 year's anniversary of women's right to vote in Iceland. Iceland was one of the first European countries to enfranchise women, most did so only after the first or second world war. One kanton in Switzerland even had to be forced to do so by the constitutional court in 1991
! Of course being a foreigner I'm not allowed to vote here no matter which gender I have.
An article on Iceland's accomplishments in women's rights can be found here
Tauriel could have been a cool character, like Bard or Bilbo. The person who sees the bigger picture, past the greed and pettiness. But instead she ran after a man she had one conversation with, because this is the only motivation a woman can have (to be fair, Legolas ran after her, if it weren't for people chasing each other for stupid reasons no one would have made it to the Lonely Mountain).
Peter Jackson seems to sometimes be confused about which movie he is making. Whenever Legolas appears I feel I'm watching a Super Mario Brothers play-through. Someone has to take the most ridiculous scenes and set it to video game music.
Then there are suddenly Dune worms in Middle Earth? And gone again, because Peter Jackson remembered he was doing the Hobbit.
What the heck was up with super powerful floater-zombie Galadriel?
Bilbo Baggins has a thousand times bigger balls than Frodo.
Thorin's voice changing to Smaug's was a neat effect and the scene where Bard kills the dragon was awesome.
Certain things have been bugging me lately. The first was Lego of all things. Apparently one of my childhood staples is actually a boy's toy. This is news to my sister and me, who grew up with a box full of Lego. Some of the reasons why Lego is a boys toy given were rather strange to me: Since when are basic colours boys colours? Since when are basically all colours but pink and violet boys colours? Turns out for the past 20 or so years Lego has been marketing exclusively to boys.
It is an interesting example of a positive feedback loop. You have a pretty gender neutral product like Lego. You find it is easier to market to boys as it appeals somewhat more to them. Gender specific marketing means only showing this particular gender playing with these toys in advertisement and changing the product design to be more gender specific, which means less varieties of themes (rather than build ANYTHING build things that shoot). Good marketing targets self image. A successful person drives this car, a sexy person uses this deodorant etc. If you wan to be successful, sexy etc buy this. Now apply this on gender: a cool boy plays with this. A girl probably does not want to be a cool boy, because she is a girl. So the product does not interest her, she does not buy it. Suddenly the product moved from pretty much gender neutral to " a boys toy".
This seems to be an ongoing trend in children toys. When marketing a product one always had to find a way to get the costumer to identify with it. In adults there is at least an awareness that gender coding products might be silly. Instead of marketing to a mother, one targets parents, instead of emphasising business MAN one focuses on success, etc. I can see how this might be more difficult with children, but they are more complex than being a male or female little person who poops their pants.
I'm female. I would cross on female even when given all the option one can find on the facebook gender button today. I did go through a princess phase, I remember a horribly ugly pink woolen sweater and a pink dress, but I also had a pirate phase (which coincided with my computer game phase, thanks to Monkey Island) and I was obsessed with sword fighting for a while.
One Karneval I went as D'Artagnan. I remember dressing up as Sherlock Holmes and Robin Hood. I also cut short my hair and wanted to be a boy. Not because wanted to be male, but because these characters had the kind of adventures I wanted to have.
Two weeks ago was Karneval. In the part of the world where I'm from it means dressing up, going out on the street, celebrating and trying to catch as much candy as you can during the parade. The whole concept of the holiday is to have fun and to have a day free of any social constrains.
My nephew (who is four) decided he wanted to be a princess this year. Here is how much of an issue my sister thought this was:
I'm not against pink toys. My nephew would love pink toys. I'm against colour coding gender. Kids should have the possibility to discover the world and themselves without feeling not normal.