‘Eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU’

cosmoThat, says the Daily Dot,  is the title of a proposal  the EU will soon vote on.  And it, “could lead to a blanket ban on porn in member states, and it seems the measure may well be approved.”

“To increase female participation on the labour market and in economic and political decision-making, the following issues need to be addressed”, says the proposal, going on »»»

  • Gender stereotypes in primary and secondary schools influence the perception of young children and youngsters of how men and women should behave. Special educational programmes and study materials should therefore be introduced in which men and women are no longer used in examples in their ‘traditional roles’, with the male as the breadwinner of the family and the female as the one who takes care of the children;
  • With reference to media and advertisement, it must also be noted that unsupervised television viewing among children and youngsters starting at a very early age is on the rise. Negative gender stereotypes can therefore have a significant influence on young women’s confidence and self-esteem, particularly on teenagers, resulting in a restriction of their aspirations, choices and possibilities for future career possibilities. Given the media’s significant influence on people’s perception on gender equality, special orientation courses are needed to raise awareness in Advertising Standard Committees and self-regulatory bodies about the negative influences of gender discrimination and stereotypes in the media;
  • The disproportionate representation of women in part-time jobs and the gender pay gap clearly show that gender stereotypes result in gender discrimination on the labour market. Awareness-raising campaigns are therefore needed to inform employers, employees and stakeholders about the link between gender stereotypes and the gender pay gap and the link between part-time jobs and the risk of lower pension funds when people reach the retirement pension age;
  • Likewise, there is a strong link between gender stereotyping the under-represented of women in political and economic decision-making, both in the public and in the private sphere, including in the national parliaments and governments of Member States and EU-institutions. This not only indicates the ‘glass ceiling’ that women encounter, but also the fact that stereotyping limits the career aspirations of women.
  • The equal pay gap of 16.4% does not only disadvantage women on the labour market, it also has a severe negative effect on their pension rights. Both women and men are exposed to gender stereotyping throughout their whole lives; from expectations of how boys and girls should behave in primary and secondary schools, to the specific expectations in later life with reference to career choices, to their representation on the labour market. The over-representation of women in flexible and part-time jobs suggests that the traditional idea that the responsibility of taking care of the children lies with the mother is still in force today, limiting her chances on the labour market. With the new EU plans to ease the procedures and restrictions regarding dismissal and termination of employment contracts, women will now only be more disadvantaged and subjected to more insecurity.
  • Shifting the focus from state pensions to second pillar pensions by not changing the state pension but increasing the private pillar pensions will not only increase the risk of women of ending up in poverty, it will also lead to a larger income gap between elderly men and women.

In addition to this,  “the negative influences of gender stereotyping reach the top when womenreach their retirement pension age,” it says, adding »»»

Insecurity caused by flexible working hours in combination with the gender pay gap increase the chance of women to end up in persistent and extreme poverty once they have reached the retirement pension age. Inequality between men and women as a result of gender stereotypes is therefore cumulative; the more women are exposed to stereotypes, the bigger their chances are to end up in poverty later on.

This effect is increased with the new EU plans to save on state pensions and to introduce more rules on second pillar pension funds.

Says the XXX Factor »»»

Next week, members of the European Parliament will weigh a proposal aimed at “eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU.” The effort to fight “discrimination against women in advertising” would urge member states to crack down on TV shows, video games, music videos, and advertisements that “show provocatively dressed women, in sexual poses,” promote “violence against women and girls,” or “portray women as sex objects in order to promote sales.” But when it comes to pornography, the proposal favors a more comprehensive approach: A ban on porn “in all forms.”

The belief that pornography, as a genre, discriminates specifically against women is one still favored by leading anti-pornography activists like Gail Dines, Shelley Lubben, and Catharine MacKinnon. In an interview for the MAKERS series, MacKinnon reiterated her view that “exposure to [porn] makes life more dangerous to women” and “promotes a range of atrocities and violence” against them. When we find gender disparities in other sectors—from literary journalism to tech—we urge industry leaders to assess the problem and encourage women to lean in. But when it comes to porn, the impulse is to just shut the whole thing down.

That’s unfortunate, because it reinforces the expectation that women can only ever be innocent bystanders to sexual material, never producers or consumers in their own right (banning all porn would mean negating the contributions of proudly feminist pornographers like Tristan Taormino, Nina Hartley, and Cindy Gallop). It glides over the experiences of female porn viewers (who have leveraged the Internet to find and distribute porn that appeals to them, even when it’s not marketed that way). It totally ignores the men who are “sexualized” in porn (if pornography discriminates against women, can we all keep watching gay porn?). And it curtails discussion about the challenges faced by some men in the industry (like Derrick Burts, who contracted HIV in 2010, and Erik Rhodes, who died from a heart attack at 30 after heavy steroid use).

Enforcing a government ban on pornography won’t actually rid the world of smut (and the proposal, which has been raised before, is unlikely to lead to a legitimately enforceable ban). But the effort does make it a lot harder to talk about porn honestly, and to advocate for better representation of women in the industry. In a misguided effort to advocate for women, these activists are negating the sexuality of women, gay men, and all the straight guys who’d like to see more diversity in the porn they’re watching, too.

Jon Newton — myblogdammit

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