7 de fev de 2014

Gender inequality: traffic signs that speak

Before writing about traffic signs and gender inequality, I think that I need to write a minimal explanation of gender and sex. But I don´t want to look like a teacher.

Gender is the result of socio-cultural rules that are (re)created and defined from the perception of what is feminine and masculine. In other words, what fits for women and men differently.
Gender is different from sex.
Sexr is defined by chromosomes XX (female) and XY (male).

Gender inequality is the social relations between men and women, can be seen for example in the wage gap between men and women, the unequal division of household chores,  in sports, etc..

Traffic signs, the issue at hand:
Since 2010, I have collected pictures of traffic signs in Germany, Italy and Switzerland.
Because I think that a simple detour or pedestrian crosswalk sign means much more than being aware of the traffic, but also reflects the context of the society in which we live.

While I was taking these pictures, I was reflecting about the images and how they are permeated with male chauvinism, and reinforce the stereotype of women as exclusively as mother, housewife, or/and caretaker of children.

This reflection is based on a course about gender, nutrition and the right to food that I took at Hohenheim University in 2010. I did not go in depth about this issue specifically at that time, I just sometimes shared with few friends, and now I decided to share here.
In some images, the figure of a man with a boy appears, are apparently in the street, playing ball, of course because traditionally only boys play ball. Girls are not supposed to!
Girls play with dolls, mini pans and inside of the house. However these statements are only social-culture gender roles.

I could think that this traffic sign represents the moment when the man is taking care of the child. But then, I could also conclude that he just takes care of the kid when they are playing!
Moreover, why they don´t include a traffic sign with a girl playing football too? 
Girls also play football!
See Marta, my Brazilian favorite soccer player.
The traffic sign that I see to the right depicts a woman with a child. The traffic sign indicates who the preference to go first. Usually this traffic sign is near a school. For me, this image indicates who is responsible for taking the child to school, to health care, and so on.

Last year when I was in Geneva, I saw the traffic sign below, and I really liked it, because, it shows that the father also has responsibility for the child, and that permeates the comings and goings to the school, and other care giver.
That's the way I see these pictures.
With the exception of the last one (the man with a child), the others were made ​​in different cities in Germany (Heidelberg, Roschbach, Frankfurt and Essligen).

I’ve asked different people what they think about these traffic signs, but they usually find them normal and they don´t  see the same way I see them.

In my point of view, the traffic signs reinforce gender inequalities.
I would like to know your opinion about this post?
If you can and want to comment anything about it, it would be really cool.

First published in Portuguese in 09/09/2012. And now in English with small changes.

0 Comente aqui: