“I was less interested in what this particular catalog was saying than in what types of shoes we see associated with each category–the very clear gendering of nursing, for instance, something that hospitals in Vegas, at least, are trying to combat. Some are now referring to nurses as “medics” to try to make the job sound more masculine. The image provides a great visual of our assumptions about who does what kinds of work in that sense.”
This serves as another reminder of how subtle gender tracking can be, and how these assumptions about gender roles are imbedded in all parts of our society. As more professions are being explored by each sex, stereotypes of who should be doing what type of work need to be broken. Let’s just hope the fashion industry can try to keep up.
By marketing these shoes as men’s and women’s work, the invisible fence is revealed. Along with putting an end to this gendering of professions, we need to stop the negativity placed on what is considered “feminine.” We even see in the excerpt above that title of nurse is being changed in order to make it more masculine, and this more appealing to men. This implies that the term nurse, which is associated with the feminine and women, is not appealing solely because it is considered feminine. But it is this thinking itself that is the root of the problem. Once we start embracing the traits that are associated with femininity, and realizing that they have nothing to do with women but are just human traits (ones that males are taught not to express), then we can see that the concept of masculinity and femininity have no real meaning aside from the social definitions constructed by us (check out any of the Media Education Foundation’s movies on gender to learn more). As human beings, we like to categorize everything but as the world changes, our categorizations make less and less sense. Women and men are equal human beings, with individual traits that make them who they are, regardless of their sex. So let’s keep the gender stereotyping out of our soles…any maybe one day out of our society.