Today I’m handing this post over to Dylan Sheldon author of Confessions of A Teenage Drama Queen & more recently More Than One Way to Be A Girl to talk about Gender Stereotypes!
Gender Stereotypes By Dylan Sheldon
I’ve been a ‘girl’ and a feminist for a long time now. The first affects the way the world sees me; the second affects the way I see the world. I’m very aware of gender stereotyping and of the often subtle (and often about as subtle as a bomb) limitations put on women. But even a visiting alien who’d never been here before would be quick to see how differently men and women are seen and treated in (as an example) our society. All she’d have to do is turn on the TV or open a magazine, and she’d soon know that – as the British Prime Minister recently reminded everyone – there are ‘boy’ jobs and ‘girl’ jobs. She doesn’t even have to open the magazine, she can just look at the covers. Women and girls are all about how you look, what you eat or don’t eat, what you buy, what your favourite lip gloss is, how you deal with bad hair days and whether or not you’ll ever find true love. And men and boys? They’re riding fast cars or motorcycles, they’re swinging over raging rivers on a string, they’re shooting guns or bombing people, they’re running the world, or they’re attached to their laptops, either playing games or watching internet porn. Women are still largely the homemakers and/or the accessories, and girls are the homemakers and/or the accessories in training.
My novels are very much about thinking for yourself and being yourself. MORE THAN ONE WAY, however, is specifically concerned with gender stereotypes – and with the way they influence our thinking and our behavior without our being aware of it. Sometimes you know exactly where an idea came from (usually from someone else), but other times it’s not so obvious. I reckon that the idea for this novel came from everywhere. From those films, TV shows, and magazines our alien is puzzling over. From a world where no matter how brilliant or powerful a woman is, she will still be judged on how she looks. Is she too fat? Is she too thin? Is she too masculine looking? Is she feminine enough? Can she make chocolate chip cookies? Is she a mother? Why not? If she is a mother, what sort of mother is she? (Is she the sort of mother who stuns the world by looking gorgeous in a dress that shows off her fantastic figure only weeks after giving birth, or is she the sort of mother who causes outrage by trying to breastfeed her infant in public?) From a world where it would be impossible for the President of the United States to look like Melania Trump and be married to a man who looks like Donald.
But the idea also came from a story someone told me over a decade ago. A friend, who in real life was more post-punk than practicing princess, went to a Halloween party as one of the Spice Girls. Long-haired wig. Skimpy dress. All the makeup and the shoes you can’t run in. And EVERYBODY told her how amazingly great she looked. Which wasn’t something she heard very often. From being a girl who didn’t usually get a lot of male attention, she was suddenly surrounded by admiring blokes. Cinderella at the ball. Just by putting on a wig and a dress and looking ‘feminine’ – looking ‘girly’. That story always stuck with me, and over time, unable to forget it, it led me to an idea that eventually became MORE THAN ONE WAY TO BE A GIRL.