Friday, November 5, 2010

Gender equality: what decade is Chile really in? (disturbing image below)

Something we often talk about in Chile, locals and foreigners alike, is where we are socially. Where are gay rights, and abortion rights and racial equality? We sometimes use where the United States is as a point of comparison, for example for gay rights, you might say we're in the 60s, or maybe the 70s. For abortion rights, we're certainly pre Roe vs. Wade, as abortion is illegal and a prosecutable offense here.

But what about gender equality? Well, it's related to gay rights and abortion rights, but in a class all its own. Recent newspaper articles say that the salary gap is the same between women and men as it was ten years ago. Is that still happening in the US? Where does that put us?

I was feeling kind of positive about the move to liberate women with this cutesy ad in the Baquedano metro exhorting women to drop their pumps in the uneven streets, and wear sneakers to work. It's sponsored by ACHS, the worker safety commission (the same people who graciously gave me many months of physical therapy when I was hit by a truck on my bike on my way home from work). It reminded me of the transit strike in the 80s in NY, which is when women first started appearing in public in tennis shoes and skirts. Admittedly, it looks ridiculous, but take it from someone who walked about a mile in heels the other night, it's not a bad idea.


It says: Walking's good for you. Walk safely. Every year high heels cause more than 3,600 ankle sprains, 7,000 commuting accidents and 32,600 days off of work. Wear sneakers to and from work. High heel time is over.

And it made me feel nostalgic, and think, wow, in Chile we have to tell women it's okay to be comfortable. But at least we're on the right track (though I don't see anyone actually doing it). Aww. It gave me the warm fuzzy comfortable foot and back feeling. Sweet. 1980s sweet.

But that was short-lived, because the very next day I was up in El Golf doing a photo shoot (more on this later), when we passed this sign.


1980s? or 1880s? Horrible, woman hating, self-image hating, violent, anti-female, hate producing, sick.

It's an ad for non-surgical fat reduction (on a woman who is already of normal weight). I know I like all my non-surgical procedures to be carried out with a saw. In fact, I just got a haircut. Perhaps I should have suggested that be done with a saw as well. Imagine the ads!

Chile, what decade are you really in?

There are many more examples, but these two visual interruptions of my regular day evoked strong reactions. And you?


Leigh said...

There is so much wrong with that image that I don't even know where to start. Honestly, I would buy a giant Sharpie and write a piece of my mind on it.

Anonymous said...

The first image I saw and I liked it too because I was told that to suceed in my job in Chile I would have to wear heels and I did! I wore heels until my toes went numb and I did permanent damage!

The second one, you are right conjures image of self-mutilation which can be part of mental illnesses that millions of people suffer from. Scary that they are selling that.

kyle said...

That second image just made me say, "HOLY SHIT" out loud.

The first image is on a huge billboard at my metro station in Estacion Central. Seba is always puzzled because quite often there are women stopped in front of the ad, reading it.

Heather said...

The first ad is great and I agree with you, I'll believe it when I see people actually doing it. I wear my Skechers a lot and people seem to be amused by this.

Maeskizzle said...

oooh! wow! yeah, the saw doesn't do much for me!!! hahaha. That image pretty much makes me want to run the other direction! I wonder if that really works? Do some women walk by it and think, "yeah, this is going to be where I get my non-surgical lipo done!" ....Really? I wouldn't trust the doctor (or whatever the person is) doing these procedures. That ad screams anything but "integral medicine". Yikes!

As far as the tennis shoe campaign goes, it seems it won't work super well, but at least they are introducing this into the "conversation" of the public realm. In that sense, it's totally a great initiative.

However, I think rather than having a pair of tennis shoes to walk to work, couldn't we just make all shoes ergonomical? Seriously! And stylish at the same time. Those are the two factors that inform most of my footwear decisions. Honestly, pitting one against the other doesn't seem to be the way to go about it. Basically they're saying: "[Chilean woman]: You can either be stylish and uncomfortable and provoke health problems, or totally unstylish, comfy, and happy." I do not see it as an either/or thing.

Granted, I gave up shoes with a heel (or platform) over 1/2 inch about 6-8 years ago. Such a good decision. I didn't even wear heels to get hitched and I'm 5'4 and my hubby's 6'1. I finally realized it wasn't worth it to where heels because after putting them on all I could think about was when I was going to be able to take them off! But there are plenty of stylish flats now!! I was so happy when ballet flats became the rage a few years ago. You can still buy them ALL OVER! The States anyway. love that.

Annje said...

I just saw the sneakers ad, but the lipo-saw one is absolutely horrid=just all kinds of wrong. I remember a decade ago there was an ad for a radio station with a woman's rear end, sectioned off into cuts of meat (representing variety, I think) I was pretty horrified by that too.

Gender equality is a huge issue for me--I am already foreseeing lots of frustration--yay!

Eileen said...

Leigh I wish you were here to share my outrage!

Sara, Heather and Maeskizzle, yes on the comfortable shoes, though I do believe that some Chilean women say they are comfortable in heels, I would never be. Like you guys, I walk too far and take my ankle health too seriously.

Annje, I immediately thought of you and your daughter, and everyone else I know who has a young, impressionable daughter when I saw that sign.

To my anonymous Chilean poster (te delataste con la palabra "stupids" ya que los adjetivos en ingl├ęs no se pluralizan, and that's not a mistake a native English speaker would ever make), if you'd like to join the discussion, please do. If you'd like us to read your thoughts, please point us to your blog. If you'd like to flame, then just go home.

Emily said...

I do what the first poster is suggesting, but I definitely have gotten a stares. I love heels and would never give them up, but I also have bad enough ankles that I'm not going to attempt to hike the streets or balance in the micro with them on!

The second poster, regardless of what it says about/to women, is just poor marketing. It does not in any way encourage me to try your service.

Margaret said...

Yeah, I've been very aware of the whole retro-necesario campaign, and it really points out major--MAJOR differences in culture. This campaign happened 20 years ago in the US, probably about the same time in Europe. I used to have all my good shoes under my desk at work and wore boots or shoes on the street--something that no one in Chile ever seems to consider.
I hope the campaign is effective. I mean, sure, we all want to look "good" but at what price? Tired, achy, blistered & miserable feet do NOT make for good-looks!