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Friday, October 31, 2014

Gender Stereotypes That Don't Get Protested

The crowd and furore accompanying some cases of "gender stereotyping" (which among other things conflates descriptive and prescriptive statements and takes everything too seriously) is, strangely, absent in some cases.

For example, take this Singapore Police Force ad I saw at the bus stop opposite Park Mall on Wednesday:

"I don't chase after profits and bottom lines.


When your bottom line is to bring protection and relief to those in need, you know it's more than just a job. In the Singapore Police Force, you will be a figure of leadership and empathy for those facing adversity. Every day is filled with opportunities to do work that makes a difference.

Join us for a challenging and rewarding career at"

A "critical" look at this poster might problematise it so, using gender as a lens:

- The presumed abuser is male (Men make up more than 40% of domestic violence victims in the UK, and in Singapore making some assumptions from a New Paper poll with no context the figure seems to be 41%)
- The presumed victim is female
- The police officer tending to the victim is female, which perpetuates stereotypes of women being more caring and sympathetic to (female) victims of domestic violence

Of course, those who jump at trivial infractions such as Scoot's ad campaigns and Focus on the Family Singapore's Sex Education are not going to say anything, since Gender Stereotypes are only bad when they 'hurt' women (I actually did a search for anyone talking about this and came up blank, much less finding anything from the usual suspects).

That said, perhaps this does indeed have something to offer feminists, since according to this poster, women join the Police Force to protect the Defenceless and the Needy

One could compare this to the general stance of the "More Than Just A Job" advertising campaign in general. For example:


A career that transcends the daily grind. That's not about endless hours in a cubicle, but about the security of Singapore. Where real lives are at stake, and threats are real and constant. No other job is quite as exciting and rewarding."

This general ad (evidently not positioned particularly at women) emphasises not care for others or protecting the needy, but excitement, National Security, saving lives and fending off unspecified threats.

If one were so inclined, one could also critique women being showcased in 'softer' and/or subordinate roles in other ads in the campaign.

So perhaps they might say something about it after all.

But I wouldn't count on it.
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