Beverley Irving – Gender Stereotypes: The Conditioning of Society

What If Pets Were Sexist?
What can I do about it? Society is sexist, and innocently sexist at times. How can I help children feel that it is OK for them to be a girl who likes dinosaurs or to be a boy who likes to dress hair? How can I do that if their family is trying to push them towards dolls or football. What can I do to lessen the terror felt by a father when his son wants to dress as a Disney princess in class for half an hour? What can I do to make a mum think twice about acknowledging her daughter is assertive and how she knows it can be overbearing for other children? What can I do when I don’t have children of my own? What can I do when this discredits the childhood experience I had just because I don’t have a child on my own? What would I do if my dog, Elvis, came home with a toy doll instead of his blue Sully ball? What would I do if my mum called him a ‘tart’ again for wearing his fancy baby blue striped harness complete with a huge bow?…

My provocation is about asking for help. I want to address gender stereotypes in a way that connects with adults. I would like to show how they effect children’s moral, self image, job prospects, family life, inequality, and so on. The research keeps growing as it is so intertwined in all aspects of society; how do I find just one area to focus on? And how do I as an illustrator, visually engage with my target audience? Especially when I constantly feel I need to be able to academically justify myself at the risk of missing my audience.