The idea that we’re being “derided” comes from a reading of the British Social Attitudes Survey, in which it seems this demographic were the most expected to be “lazy”, “drunken” and “promiscuous”. Cosslett usefully demonstrates that many people are vulnerable to stereotyping, by suggesting jokily that the survey was taken mainly by “the nation’s Hyacinth Buckets outside Marks and Spencers”, before suggesting that this public image of young men is equally untrue, and carrying on to defend the moral character and social qualities of the young, white British men she knows.
In that moment of stereotyping I think she undermines the point being made. Not because it shows hypocrisy – she’s apparently showing that older female people can be stereotyped too – but because they’re two such different stereotypes. On one side, young men. On the other side, older women. The latter are stereotyped as ineffectual, prissy, snobbish, frivolous and small-minded. The former are stereotyped as…carefree, keen on drinking, and getting lots of sex. Somehow these two stereotypes don’t quite equal each other.
The image of young men which Cosslett takes from the survey probably doesn’t ring true for her, when she looks around at her family and social group. It’s very irritating to be categorised as lazy, or drunken, or obsessed with sex. Many young men no doubt feel this attitude towards them is unjustified, and would like to be regarded as sober, industrious and chaste. But that’s not the same as being socially derided, as I see it.
Society is not prejudiced against young, white British men. Individual people might have negative views of them, which is a shame, and those views might build up a picture which young men would reject. But that doesn’t amount to a social disadvantage. The stereotyping of older women, which Cosslett brings up, prevents women being taken seriously in the workplace, reducing their earning power and their odds of getting a job.
The same stereotyping of women as narrow-minded and prone to being swayed by frivolous ideas leads to them being regarded as less believable in court, less effective scientists, less competent managers and less creative artists. The assumption that women’s interests and concerns are inherently less significant impacts the funding available for everything from women’s sports to refuges for those escaping domestic abuse. The fact that middle-aged women are an easy target for disdain says a lot about social attitudes which value women for their sexual attractiveness and their pleasingness to men.
By feimineach / in #quickhits / January 19, 2016
© and read the rest: quiteirregular (posted using inoreader/ ifttt).