Browsing through the weekend papers online, I came across a story in the FT which featured this tagline:
“Forget the lingerie, what every woman wants is a classic accessory and this year’s essential item is the Fendi B bag.”
Now, last time I checked, I am a woman, and I have have no idea what a Fendi B bag is, still less do I want one. It made me think, though, about the use of the phrase ‘every woman wants’. I am generally opposed to lumping together 51% of the world’s population as if we automatically had some secret bond and secret password. But I was curious as to what else ‘every woman’ was supposed to be after. I little Google New search turned up these gems:
I particularly like that last one.
It depresses me to think that, while generalisations will always be around, the generalisation for women always seems to tend towards material acquisitions and insecurity. Is this the reality? Let’s have a look at a Google News search for ‘every man wants’. Well firstly, in contrast to 13 results for women, we get only 4 for men:
Every man wants to be … a complete Don Juan
So that’s fairly clear – sex, sex, sex and sex. Certainly just as stereotypical, but (in this extremely unscientific sample) fewer results. But maybe the sample is really skewed because of the pool that Google News draws from. Let’s have a look at just The Guardian for now:
So what have we learned? Maybe not that much. Maybe that women are stereotyped as fashion-obsessed shopaholics, whilst men are stereotyped as sex obsessed – which is perhaps confirmed by looking at the magazines aimed at Men’s and Women’s issues. Or maybe that those who write (or are quoted as saying) such lazy phrases as ‘every man/woman wants’ aren’t to be relied on for their lightning insights. Whatever. It troubles me.