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Before the game a man in a suit sits behind a long news type desk thing and tells us who the experts are that he is going to talk to.  The three experts are revealed to be three men in suits.  The four men talk about the male coaches and all the men on the different teams.  One asks the other: “how are they going to get up for this?”  There is a pause before one of them says: “desperation”.

The game is played by men.  Officiated by four men. Commentated on by three men.  It begins with a haka.  A male one.

In the world of the west sexism is usually hard to see.  Like racism.  It’s often a structural thing built on history, and what is policed is the obvious stuff and that rarely gets at the issue although sometimes power accidentally reveals its hand.  Like Bill “I don’t know what feminism means” “look up in the fucking dictionary then” English.  Or when the chairman of an advertising company says there’s no issue with gender: “the debate is over”.

The debate seems to me to be on.

What I noticed watching the ads between the bits of rugby was a lot of cars.  Something you should pay attention to in car ads is who gets to drive.  Men.  Usually they are by themselves, but sometimes they have a beautiful woman in the passenger seat or a beautiful woman in the passenger seat and a beautiful family in the back.  Often the men driving the car are trying to prove something about the car/themselves.  They are often driving in extreme conditions and being masterful.  In all the car ads I sat through during the course of the rugby (and there were a lot, clearly car companies think an All Black game is a good time to sell a car… to a man) there was only one where a woman was shown driving a car.  She was elderly and not in the car for sale – her purpose in the car ad was to be saved by a man in a huge ute.

That’s how you perpetuate structural sexism.  Also*

car

The other ad genre that featured was for hardware stores.  ITM, Placemakers, Mitre 10 and Bunnings.  Only Bunnings had a woman in their ad.  They use their actual staff so you get a diverse crew in their ads which is nice.  The others though: yep, too many dicks on the dance floor.  DIY it’s in our DNA.  Not in mine.  I’d rather pay someone to do a good job.  Yep, that exact guy who some hardware company made fun of in one of their ads.  I wonder why there are so few women in the building trade?

Women were in some ads.  Kiwibank. 2 degrees.

Imagine if this was illegal.  Imagine if we had the “it’s illegal to perpetuate structural sexism” Act.  It would change a lot of bullshit in consumerism.  All of a sudden children’s clothing shops would take down their “girls” and “boys” signs and just sell clothes.  All the colours would be mixed together and boys could browse alongside girls and they could both look at T-shirts with cute foxes or dinosaurs on them without feeling like they were breaking gender role.

Someone somewhere who is not even reading this is breaking into a flop sweat.  In his white, middle class, heterosexual nightmare he is mouthing the words “it’s political correctness gone mad”.  It’s political correctness gone mad: a girl wearing a T-shirt with a truck on it, a boy not wanting to cut his hair, an ad with a woman driving a car, a woman building the house next door, fashion classes at school full of boys.

One of the most overt messages of consumerism: you are an individual.  Well, yes but also no.  An individual but not an island right.  Anyway, that message might seem empowering until you realise not only (a) that they don’t mean an individual they mean a potential consumer, and (b) they are so ideologically lazy they are perpetuating stereotypes of what individuals can be based on their genitalia (among other things).

A change is not going to come unless we make it (sorry Mr Cooke).  Can we call Billshit on the reign of John and Bill and Andrew and Jacinda?  More of the damned same?  What do we want?  A well organised little country paddling calming into the end times or a change of direction?

Ok Cassandra, sit down, you’re blocking the game on the TV.

***

*the planet is being destroyed by humanity and selling these things is like selling cigarettes in a cancer ward but that’s a whole other issue but I just like to mention it constantly because people are always distracted by all the bright flashing lights of consumerism.

 

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