Digital Literacies

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Gender, gadgets and Identity

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Wife as servant

Silly wife

This image was sent to my husband in one of those emails that has about 25 jpg attachments. All were ads from the 1960s and 1970s collated presumably because they all seem funny now. Each ad seems now being used to laugh at ‘the way we were’. Old ads depicting a different era, helping us to feel sophisticated and clever and think ‘ How naive we were’. And “so glad we are not like that now’. It’s all a bit smug really.

One way of reading this particular ad is the feminist way: the man is the wage earner and he has kindly bought his grateful wife a Kenwood Chef. She worships him; she is so happy. We the latter day feminists feel she is foolish; a dupe who is unknowingly her husband’s slave. We, in the present tense, are apparently superior.

Nowadays though, media representations of women and technology are more of this variety:

Here the technology is sexy and liberating. The dancing figure is clearly female, loving her life and feeling in control. She has leisure time and she has the cash to buy her own sleek, hold-in-the-hand mobile technology. She is able to dance. She is iPod woman. She is certainly not thinking about cooking (or eating). She only knows dance and fun.

I agree the ‘iPod girl’ seems to be a liberated woman. Not to put too fine a point on it though – she is sexy and a fat woman galumphing about woud not sell the product. All is not as liberated as we pretend. The detail of the graphics are like the gadget itself – cool, cool, super-cool and minimalist – pared down as a dramatic but sparse line drawing (in fact animation) against a dramatic coloured background. The background by the way, is the same as the colours available for the ipods … coming in pink, azure, lime green and whatnot. It is woman aligned with product – or even – woman as product . The marketing campaign did a great job. , (I really like the spoofs by the way). And these are not really about liberation but getting your cash one way or the other.

The Kenwood Chef is now seeing a revival and the whole cooking thing has been re-configured. We have all these TV programmes celebrating the frilly apron style of cooking again. It seems that the zeitgeist stuff of make do and mend; of home baking; of home grown; of ditsy cooky cutesy fashion, is also making a breakthrough and we need no longer feel ashamed of our cooking impulses.

Thank goodness because I wanted one and got one this last week. Yes dear readers. My husband bought it for me and I have been making bread, cakes, soups and even mashing potatoes in it. Because I love technology no matter what. And so we turn back again – is this a fresh look at feminism. I suspect not; I think it is a clever marketing move on the back of the recession, which pretends that if you make it yourself, you are doing it cheaper. But the love affair with technology lives on.

Just do this stuff with your eyes open. It is all consumerism. Whatever.

Written by DrJoolz

November 7th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Posted in everyday life,Identity

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