Thursday, April 28, 2016

A serious case of Credit Card Head


So, is it just me, or is this image horribly sexist?

This sort of thing bothers me because while it's intended to be cute or funny, it reminds me of latent sexism that, in other situations, I've been surprisingly able to avoid in Taiwan.

For example, for years I've been sitting on a half-done 'dealing with sexism at work for foreign women in Taiwan' post that I haven't published because honestly, since I left my former job where sexism was something of a problem, I haven't really had to deal with it so I'm not sure what to say about it - and my own attack strategy of saying 'that's sexist, cut it the hell out' might be a tad too direct for readers who maybe are looking for advice on a more nuanced approach.

And maybe I just broadcast how picky I am about not hanging out with guys who say sexist bullshit, but I really don't meet a lot of guys who say sexist bullshit (could be me though, if you know me you might imagine that I might pre-emptively scare the douchebaggier men off - not a bad superpower to have).

And when I look at the staff breakdown of finance and banking offices and see far more women both in cubicles and in management- or executive-level positions than in the US, because women in Taiwan have traditionally been trusted with money and budgets in a way that American women (traditionally) have not.

Aaaaand when I point out things that are obviously sexist to me - like men who are insecure about the idea of their wives or girlfriends earning more than they do (even if they don't have a problem with high-earning women generally or other women earning more than they do) - while a few have admitted to having this insecurity, pretty much all have been able to understand that yes, that is indeed sexist rather than offering up a bunch of evolutionary biology nonsense excuses that are also sexist.

So, mostly wins, no?

But this? This is a loss.

It's the Taiwanese equivalent of all housecleaning product commercials featuring obviously feminine-gender-role-oriented mothers doing chores, except worse, because at least there's a lot to praise about being a parent who can successfully maintain a clean adult home. There is nothing praiseworthy in the idea of being cute enough that you can go shopping and your boyfriend, who is basically a walking piece of plastic to you, will pay for it all so you don't need to worry your pretty little head about it.

Also he'll dress super preppy and carry your bags for you when you buy so much with his money that you can't carry it all. Nothin' against preppy-dressin' guys (hi Brendan) but come on.

Basically I see this as a microaggression - a seemingly small, innocuous thing from a bank I don't even use, but that reminds me of larger issues that most of the time I can safely forget about. Just like the odd local exclaiming how good you are with chopsticks and asking when you are moving back to your home country reminding me that as much as I feel like I live a normal life here, there are people who look at me and don't see another typical Taipei resident, this reminds me that as much as I can pretend people don't see me as different, lesser or in a subordinate role to men in my daily life, that a lot of people do. So many so that either the Hua Nan bank thought this piece of garbage would appeal to them or, more likely, whoever created the ad didn't even realize how laden with assumptions about gender dynamics in a relationship it was, and thought it was just normal, all guys finance their girlfriends' shopping sprees and all gals either let them or expect them to do so.

Which then makes me think, 'how many random guys do I walk past, briefly talk to, have everyday exchanges with who actually think that men are providers and women are spenders, and what does that lead them to assume about me?'

Which is not a productive line of thought, but that's what microaggressions do. Just like wondering 'how many people do I meet every day who treat me normally but actually see me as an Outsider?' because someone expressed surprise that I have more than a rudimentary grasp of Chinese.

And it makes me wonder how many women play to the stereotype - and how I can't even criticize them if this is the life they've chosen to lead (haha j/k I can criticize whomever I want and such women are not a credit to my gender and the judgier, less-nice side of me absolutely judges them even as I try to be better than that). How many women do want to be 'rich housewives', how many do want a boyfriend who mostly exists to look good, carry bags and finance shopping trips, and if you actually like him that's a bonus (then when he treats you horribly you cry to your girlfriends in your Prada dress about how awful men are)? And how many of those women exist, and date and interact with men, who then have a real-life basis for their stereotyping of women as perpetual dependents who exist to spend their money?

(Note: this is not the same thing as being a homemaker as a plan you've come to because it is the best choice for you and your family, I'm talking about expecting men to finance your shopping whims just because you're an attractive woman).

Anyway. I've wasted enough time on this thing. I just wanted to complain about it. It's bad, and its creator should feel bad.

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