- Describe women using the same sorts of adjectives that you would for a man. E.g. knowledgeable vs. opinionated; sensitive vs. emotional.
- Use courtesy titles that promote gender equity: Use Ms instead of Miss or Mrs (which label women according to their relationship with a man/their marital status). Never use a husband’s name as a courtesy title e.g. Mrs Nick Smith.
- Apply the above to audio-visual content in the same way as it is to print content.
- Focus on a woman’s age unless you would do the same for a man.
- Describe or portray a woman’s physical attributes, but a man’s accomplishments.
- Diminish a woman to her relationship with a man. Refer to her as a person in her own right instead of the wife, girlfriend or daughter of a man.
- Depict women as timid and men as brave or use similar stereotyping terms e.g. hysterical, emotional, weak, timid, weeping vs. strong, brave, accomplished, sensitive, successful.
- Refer to a woman’s family unless she wants you to. Women with children are often referred to as ‘working mums’ and questioned about their ability to hold a job position and have a family. Men are neither referred to as ‘working dads’ nor questioned about their ability to hold a job and be a parent. Use ‘parent’ instead of mother.
- Focus on what a woman is wearing or her makeup unless you would do the same for a man.
FIND OUT WHETHER YOU ARE TREATING WOMEN AND MEN THE SAME
The rules of reversibility and parallelism are very effective ways to determine whether or not you are gender stereotyping.
Reversibility: Would you depict a man in the same way, or could you depict a man in the same way, without seeming ridiculous? If the answer is no, then you are stereotyping. E.g.
- Women are ‘brunettes’ but men have ‘brown hair’
- Hillary Clinton was described as having a ‘shrill voice’. The tone of Donald Trump’s voice was not referred to
- ‘The 37-year-old Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in May’
- Parallelism: Have you treated women and men the same in the titles, descriptions, attributes etc. you have assigned to them? E.g.
- ‘The reading list included Jane Austen, Joyce, Proust, and Virginia Woolf’ vs. ‘The reading list included Austen, Joyce, Proust, and Woolf’
- ‘The usher seated Mr Trump and his lovely wife Melania’ vs. ‘The usher seated Mr and Ms Trump’
- ‘Her parents, Judge Nicholas Smith and Mrs Smith, were both at the wedding’ vs. ‘Her parents, Nicholas and Karen Smith, were both at the wedding’
NEVER USE OVERTLY SEXIST LANGUAGE OR IMAGES
This includes any jokes, language or images that degrade women, are offensive or reduce women to sexual objects or extreme stereotypes. This includes explicit terms and phrases such as ‘pussy’, ‘bitch’, ‘banging body’, ‘nice piece of ass’, ‘little wifey’, ‘she belongs back in the kitchen’ (the examples are endless). There are no gender-neutral alternatives to these. The same rules also apply to images that purposefully highlight aspects or features of a woman’s body. E.g. cleavage, cellulite, wrinkles.
RECTIFY THE PROBLEM IN THE QUOTES AND SOURCES YOU USE
Often the problem lies in the sources we use. If a source or reference is gender biased, sexist or gender stereotyping then you should do one of the following:
- Paraphrase the quote using gender sensitive language.
- Draw attention to the issue: ‘Thomas Jefferson stated, ‘All men are created equal.’ Of course, had he written during current times, he surely would have said all people are created equal?’ (Taken directly from UNESCO resource).
- Delete gender biased, stereotyping or sexist content. Cut the quote or source entirely.