5. Look for gender bias in movies and TV

Reflect on the last film that you watched. How many female characters (with names) were in it? Did they talk to each other? About something other than a man? These questions form what is called the Bechdel Test. Watch this two-minute clip about the Bechdel Test, then tell a friend or colleague about whether the film you watched passes the test!

How does it help?

The Bechdel Test draws attention to gender bias and sexism in film, including the invisibility of women in film and the harmful ways in which women are often depicted. Many films portray women in stereotyped, sexualised and objectified ways – reinforcing rigid gender roles and stereotypes and inequality between women and men. Gender inequality is recognised internationally as a root cause of violence against women.

Keep going!

There are lots of ways you can continue to challenge gender bias in films:

Please note that these clips/articles contain information regarding the topics of sexism, gender inequality and violence against women. If you find the information distressing, please click through for information and support on self care. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, please visit the our help section for further information and support.

6. Reflect on the impact of gender stereotypes on children and young people

Gender stereotypes (generalisations of the traits women and men are assumed to possess) reinforce the idea that women and girls, men and boys, should act in certain ways, look certain ways and are better suited to certain roles in society. Gender stereotypes effect everyone, but they are particularly harmful for girls and women because we live in a society where characteristics associated with men and masculinity are seen as more valuable than those considered feminine, or associated with women. As such, gender stereotypes support the foundations of gender inequality, by creating a different status for girls and boys. Children are shaped by gender stereotypes from a very young age.

Check out two of the following items and reflect on the impacts of gender stereotypes on children, and what we can do to challenge this:

  • Did you know that pink was once considered a very masculine colour? Read this short article to find out more.
  • Watch this clip to hear from Elizabeth Sweet, who discusses her research on the impact of gender stereotypical toys on boys and girls. Take some time to reflect on why this might be and the possible consequences of this blue vs pink world of toys.

Check out this short clip featuring primary school children engaged in a creative drawing activity, and reflect on how gender stereotypes can limit children’s aspirations and the way they see the world and their place in it.

How does it help?

Gender stereotypes play a key role in producing gender inequality and research has found that factors associated with gender inequality are the most consistent predictors of violence against women (Our Watch,2015:23)

Research demonstrates that “levels of violence against women are significantly and consistently higher in societies, communities and relationships where there are more rigid distinctions between the roles of men and women” and that “men who hold traditional, hierarchical views about gender roles and relationships are more likely to perpetrate violence against women. (Our Watch, 2015: 25)

With this evidence in mind, fostering positive personal identities and challenging gender stereotypes and roles has been identified as an essential action for preventing violence against women.(Our Watch, 2015)

Gender stereotyping also has an impact on the hopes and aspirations of children and on how they see themselves. Gender stereotypes can prevent children from exploring and developing their interests and talents and from reaching their potential.

Keep going!

Please note that these clips/articles contain information regarding the topics of sexism, gender inequality and violence against women. If you find the information distressing, please click through for information and support on self care. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, please visit the our help section for further information and support.

7. Pay attention to women’s voices

Commit to paying attention when women speak during meetings and conversations. Make a commitment to actively encourage women to offer their thoughts, ideas or opinions at meetings you attend during the 16 days campaign. You might also keep a ‘Talked over Tally’ during the 16 Days of Activism, noting the number of times you witness women being interrupted or talked over by men during meetings, conversations or discussions. At the end of the challenge, share your tally and your observations with friends, family or colleagues.

How does it help?

Silencing, ignoring or minimising women’s voices is an aspect of sexism and gender inequality. Rigid gender roles and stereotypes equate masculinity with leadership, dominance and authority. Men are socialised to be decision-makers and voices of authority, while women are socialised to be submissive listeners and collaborators. Experts in male prevention of violence against women propose that ‘listening to women, systematically instituted, is an alternative to using power and control tactics to silence them. Listening is thus a path toward justice’.

Keep going!

Keep supporting and paying attention to women’s voices:

  • Take the approach employed by women staffers of the Obama administration, to ‘amplify’ women’s voices whenever possible‘
  • Consider your bookshelf or university reading list. Are women well represented? If not, advocate for greater inclusion of women authors in course materials and make a conscious effort to include more women’s voices in your own reading
  • Give credit where it is due; acknowledge women’s contributions and ideas
  • Suggest a ‘no interruptions policy’ while women and men are speaking in meetings at your workplace or during classes
  • Call out when women are interrupted in front of you; don’t stay silent
  • During conversations, be aware of the types of interruptions made by men (and women). For example, Joanna Richards’ recent study of interruptions in the Australian senate found that, while women in this context actually interrupted more times than men, their interruptions were usually in defence, or positively in support of another female speaker or a less powerful speaker, whereas almost 75 per cent of the male interruptions were negatively trying to take power or take the floor from another speaker.
  • Get ideas for how you can support women’s participation in decision-making and leadership at work

Please note that these clips/articles contain information regarding the topics of sexism, gender inequality and violence against women. If you find the information distressing, please click through for information and support on self care. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, please visit the our help section for further information and support.

8. Reflect on who does certain chores in your household and why

 

Think about how household duties are allocated in your household, or among your immediate or extended family. For example, who does the cooking, repairs, cleaning, childcare, grocery shopping, laundry, taking children for extracurricular activities, or taking family members to appointments? Reflect on who does these duties, tasks and chores, and why. How was this decided? How are the different tasks valued, rewarded and acknowledged in your house or by your family.
Take a look at ‘You should’ve asked’ a comic by French artist Emma, that depicts the considerable and unfair pressure placed on women when they are required to shoulder the ‘mental load’ of household management.
Read this article by Rob Sturrock who discusses how men and fathers can actively support equality in their home

How does it help?

Rigid gender roles and stereotypes classify domestic and caring responsibilities as ‘women’s work’; this work is unpaid and undervalued. In Australia, women still do the majority of unpaid work, which impacts on their capacity for participating in the workforce, economic security, free time and health and wellbeing. A 2014 OECD report revealed that Australian women spend 311 minutes a day on unpaid work (compared to 172 minutes for men), 168 minutes on routine housework (compared to 93 for men), and 64 minutes on care for household members (compared to 27 minutes for men).

Keep going!

You can continue to support gender equity in the division of labour in your house or family:

  • Have a conversation with your household about who does what unpaid work, why, and how it can be equitably shared
  • Take steps to ensure that the women in your life aren’t disproportionally carrying the ‘mental load’ of managing household affairs
  • Put in practices in your household to ensure that all unpaid work is acknowledged, particularly caring and domestic work traditionally undertaken by women which is often unacknowledged and undervalued
  • Take steps to make sure the domestic and organising work for your family events, birthdays, Christmas and New Years Eve celebrations is shared equitably among your family/friends

Please note that these clips/articles contain information regarding the topics of sexism, gender inequality and violence against women. If you find the information distressing, please click through for information and support on self care. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, please visit the our help section for further information and support.