Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The "everyman" isn't just male any more. Please adapt accordingly.

You have an audience - a huge audience - and you look at it but you're not really seeing it, because all you're seeing is men.

51% of the world's population is female; we're the majority, but still treated as a minority. There's a thousand ways that this is offensive and alienating, and you see it every day - look, there's a bit of offensiveness over there on the wall - but the most conspicuous one - to me - is in arts and entertainment.

We're in your audience, laughing at your jokes. We're watching you, we're reading you. We’re looking at your work. We're right here. So how come all you see is an ocean of Y chromosomes?

Obviously the foundation of entertainment has nothing to do with gender. Entertainers should speak to us all the same; I don't refute that for one second. What I'm talking about is when suddenly the entertainer lets slip that they think they're talking to men only.

It's a jarring moment, and makes me feel suddenly alienated; an unwanted and overlooked member of their fanbase.

It's there every time you switch on the TV or open a newspaper. And I don't mean just from people you'd expect to overlook a female fanbase, but from some of the most liberal people in entertainment.

Take Dylan Moran, one of the funniest, cleverest and most liberal stand-up comedians in the world. He's talking to the audience and at one point refers to "going home to your wife or girlfriend or whoever's there".

Stand-up comedians do this all the time. Sometimes they even shout "are there any women in tonight?" to a riotous caterwaul of women who are apparently fine with having to answer a question that should've become superfluous in 1985.

And sometimes people just don't seem to want a female fanbase. Take Stephen Merchant, who while on XFM laughed about how much the show had gone downhill, lamenting jokingly that it was now enjoyed only by "women and children". Great. Sorry, Stephen, to drag your show into the dirt.

And why does everyone seem to be okay with "Women's Interests" sections in news publications/websites? The art section, the science section, entertainment, sports, travel, hobbies, culture... then the women's interests section... what?! If men get all of that, what the hell does that leave us? Knitting patterns? Oh no, wait, that goes under "hobbies".

Even Banksy won't speak to us. His art runs wet with liberalism, right?
People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.
I like this quote a lot. But... it's just... well, I don't have a girlfriend.

He's talking to heterosexual males who have girlfriends. The everyman, right? No, no. The everyman isn't exclusively male any more. It just isn't.

Marketeers often need to imagine their audience in order to market their product. Apparently they can't just market their product at everyone (because generalisations are to capitalists what marshmallows are to people who really like marshmallows), so they invent an imaginary target audience.

But entertainers and artists aren't marketeers. They want to make us think or laugh or gag or whatever else. When they alienate vast swathes of the audience, it's all on them.

We're all entitled to enjoy whatever we want, with the exception of pinging spiders at co-workers, but it's difficult when you realise that this just isn't meant for you.

Entertainers and artists need to get to know their audiences and realise who's in there. Or they should just make it irrelevant. Stop assuming. And for the men who do assume that there aren't many women enjoying your show or gig or gallery or book or article or rambly little blog, then... what do you think we're doing? Where do you think we are? Seriously, though - what do you think women do?

Here's a really safe assumption: men like stuff. Women like stuff too.

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