In the mapping task which required us to produce a map of the participants/stakeholders (human and non-human) involved in our selected issue, we generated a number of different maps reflecting different perspectives as we had come to the conclusion that the issue of gender equality is more complex than simply one set of ideas. The map I selected to refine (above) represents the current status quo with male dominance at the top and how that filters through different areas of society which all inevitably affects women as a whole. I have isolated what I consider to be the stakeholders with the strongest voices as it stands today so while it is not a complete map of every stakeholder that may be involved in the issue, it captures the key actors who carry the greatest influence in shaping society and also, have some of the greatest potential to affect change.
This image highlights one of the biggest issues of female stereotypes and the way they are presented within the media, specifically in relation to body image. The media is often guilty of valuing women based on their physical appearance above all else and this places pressure on women, particularly young girls, to aspire to unrealistic standards which can be incredibly detrimental to mental health. This is also indicative of a broader issue of women being judged on their appearance while men are judged on their intelligence.
In this short comic, the hypocritical nature of men in regards to equality is highlighted and called out, particularly those of a certain demographic. The comic uses Transformers as an example but could be referring to any number of pop culture icons that have made an effort to promote gender equality in what was preciously a heavily male skewed product and the inevitable outrage from the male fanbase. The interesting point raised in this comic is that those same male fans who claim to be outraged by the fact that gender is being unnecessarily assigned to non-gendered characters, are unable to fathom the idea that this only becomes an issue when characters are made female because ‘non-gendered’ characters are inherently assumed to be male by default.
This image is not so much a commentary on gender equality as it is a response to the increasing disillusion with the term feminism and many people, women and men, wishing to distance themselves from the label. The second panel is particularly interesting as it addresses one of the most debated aspects of feminism which is the conflicting views on objectification vs. empowerment. The statement in the bottom right captures the idea that there is no right and wrong, that feminism is an ongoing discourse that encompasses anyone fighting for women’s right to equality across the board. It matters less that all feminists agree on the methods and more that they are all fighting for the same outcome.
Changing the terminology used to describe female actions compared to identical male actions is one of the key areas which still has a long way to go to reach equality. This image offers an example of how negative, often condescending language is used to describe the actions of a woman or women whereas the exact same actions are phrased entirely differently and in a much more positive light when they involve a man or men. Language is reflective of attitudes so once again, it is clear that there is still work to be done to shift attitudes and in turn foster constructive and equal language.
There remains a large section of the male community who believe that we, as a society, have reached gender equality and believe that there is no longer anything for women to ‘complain’ about. This image visualises the fact that while it is true that it is now possible for women to achieve many things that they were previously unable to, they still face far more obstacles than their male counterparts. Those same males who believe we have reached equality tend to simplify the issue and insist that because women are now allowed equal rights in many areas, equality has been reached, completely ignoring the larger issue which is the attitudes and stereotypes that are culturally ingrained in our society which create endless obstacles to women actually progressing to positions of power. This image is effectively a visualisation of the privilege enjoyed by men but also not recognised by men.
The graph in this image, other than highlighting the fact that women consistently earn far less than men of equivalent qualification, indicates that having children remains a major hurdle for women in the workplace. The consistent dip in the ages between 30 and 40 is a clear indication that, on the whole, women will suffer financially relative to men due to having children. The other issue that this creates, not clearly indicated by this chart, is the fact that even when they return to work, a woman will inevitably face an uphill battle to make up the missing time against her male colleagues. It is the less tangible issues such as these that need to be more deeply considered by governments as well as businesses in order to create well-rounded solutions to encourage true equality in the workplace.
The Gender pay gap is often discussed in terms of percentages or cents to the dollar however this graphic positions the pay gap in a more evocative way by instead speaking in terms of days. The 59 days figure is far more powerful than any percentage or dollar value and paints the gender pay issue in a context that it is not often considered.
Using the example of economic inequality, these simple bar graphs offer a visual representation of the unfathomable imbalance between the genders that still exists despite those who may claim otherwise. The use of hard statistics is an effective way of positioning the issue as it is far more difficult to debate, particularly when the stark difference is presented with such simplicity.
This simple, hand-drawn image addresses one of the biggest perception problems surrounding gender equality and the general concept of sexism in the modern context that is people believing it to be a case of two opposing sides where in actual fact, the solution starts with unity between men and women in working together to achieve a common goal. This image alludes to the idea of sexism hurting men and women, referring to the toxic masculinity purveyed by the media and cultural stereotypes that surround boys and young men. Many of these stereotypes are borne out of negative stereotypes against women and the idea that a boy shouldn’t want to be “like a girl.” It is this point which perhaps needs to be discussed more often, that the eradication of sexism against women would have hugely positive ramifications for men who are held to many sexist cultural stereotypes and standards themselves.
Even when men accept the fact that the gender pay gap exists, many still seek to justify why there are perfectly sound reasons why it does. This comic exposes just how ridiculous many of these justifications can be and again highlights how the majority of men are blind to their own privilege. The idea that looking after children, taking care of household tasks and chores are of far less value than other, paid forms of work is one of the most harmful stereotypes that remains just as prevalent as ever in the modern context and is a key example of how we as a society, particularly men, need to reassess our attitudes and ideas in regards to where we place value.
As a whole, this collection of images reinforces many of the ideas I had come across in my text based sources and individually they each represent one or more of the stakeholders identified in my mapping exercise.