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One man, 12 sisters and a sink full of gender stereotyping

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Jackie Gregory
WVoN co-editor

‘Thank goodness I have got my own bathroom!’ Man, 24, tells of life with his 12 sisters (but admits they do run around after him)’

This was the headline of a story on MailOnline on January 24, 2012.

You could be forgiven for thinking it was dated January 24, 1912, well before the emancipation of women.

This story is written as a ‘light-hearted romp’ in which we all are directed to empathise with the male.

He’s got his own bathroom while all the girls and their dad share one.

Without one iota of irony, some choice quotes are: “I don’t mind being the only boy. I even got some of the girls playing football.”

“They can be very sweet – bringing me a beer if I’m down. I’m probably a bit spoiled.”

“I get pampered – my sisters do my ironing and make me tea. Sometimes I have to take sanctuary in the garage with dad, but I miss the screams and giggles when I’m away.”

Mother Tracey adds: “Charles gets away with the housework a bit. He manages to get the girls tidying up his room. They really look up to him.”

The article is accompanied by a series of pictures of Charles being surrounded by his sisters, but not one of them is quoted in the article; the Mail has put them on mute.

Once you have got over the stream of drivel, take a look at the 316 comments which come after.

There are more comments about having 12 sisters with pre-menstrual tension than about the blatant gender stereotyping. In fact only a couple of comments touch on this at all.

A few more think he should share the bathroom with his dad (but not the rest of the household).

More readers wonder why one girl is pictured in a ball gown and comment on how good looking they are.

Many people pick up on the fact that they are not ‘scroungers’ taking benefits and both parents work, but completely ignore the fact that this is gender role-playing multiplied by twelve.

It is easy to dismiss the Mail as being, well the Mail, we all know what we are getting.

But the Mail’s outpourings reach more than six million readers in Britain alone, is aggressively pursuing the US market and now moving into the Indian market too, so it does matter what they say.

Words have power, as the UK Leveson Inquiry (see WVoN coverage) into the press is amply illustrating, and this type of feature just underlines how entrenched sexist attitudes still are.

  1. vicki wharton says:

    Yep, perception after all is 9 tenths of reality. People read newspapers expecting factual comment, not male propoganda which unfortunately what all this stereotyping actually is. This is your place in life little girl – to run around after your brother and tidy up after him whilst he gets his own bathroom, no housework duties and a beer when he’s down. Imagine people sanctioning that attitude based on race.

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