Friday, 15 August 2014

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics

Women. We love nothing more than a good old gossip don’t we?

No, that is not a crass generalisation; it’s a fact.

It is. A study has gone and proved it.

Well, I say study. It was more of an amateurish internet survey by a wine retailer, for soulless marketing purposes, that was riddled with data input errors; but, whatever, statistics don’t lie.

(Spoiler alert: They do)

The results revealed that us ladies are officially addicted to tittle-tattle, and are unable to keep a secret in our silly female brains for more than a measly 47 hours and 15 minutes, at the absolute maximum.

I was quite disappointed when I read that I have to say. What a terrible bunch of harpies we must be.

But then I remembered that I took part in the survey at which point I was thoroughly relieved to be able to dismiss the conclusions out of hand. Phew!

The survey was hosted by a website which I’m registered to that offers cash and prizes for questions. Just like in politics, right guys? Satire, zing!

This website is the banal source of all those pointless Metro newspaper mini articles which say stuff like “The celebrity people would most like to have afternoon tea with is Sharon Osborne, and the celebrity most people would least like to have afternoon tea with is Katie Price”

Yep, if you’ve ever wondered where this arbitrary information originates from, it’s this survey website.

And by the way, the celebrity people would most like to have afternoon tea with is not Sharon Osborne per se; ditto the inverse scenario for Katie Price.

Nobody actually gets to volunteer their choice you see.

You get a list of about ten people that you can choose from for each question.

Sharon Osborne is not in the ‘wouldn’t like to’ list and Katie Price is not in the ‘would like to’ list. They have already helpfully categorised the celebrities according to how popular they are perceived to be in the first place.

All very leading...

It doesn’t really matter for the most part. Skewing the results of an inconsequential celebrity afternoon tea survey is fairly low level stuff. But when they start spewing out casual misogyny left and right, you tend to sit up and take notice.

It’s not only leading and limited questions that are the problem on this website. It’s that, even when they’re not incessantly trying to get you to say exactly what they want, they’re just generally sloppy.

For example sometimes they just forget to give you a ‘not applicable’ option.

For instance, say they’re doing a survey about punching the Queen. And the first question is "Have you ever punched the Queen?"

They will give you a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ option for the first question.

You select ‘no’ (hopefully – that’s treason guys!) and then move on to question two which is…

“How hard did you punch the queen? – Very hard, Hard, Normal, Normal but with a hammer, Gently…”

No ‘not applicable’ option. But you can’t continue without picking an answer, so you have to check anything just to move on. And you tend to, because there’s cash to be had.

It’s sloppy and the results that their sponsors are paying to gather are really not worth the paper they’re written on.

Which brings me back to the survey about bloody awful sneaky lying women.

The question was, “How long is it before you tell a secret?”

The options were, “One minute, ten minutes, thirty minutes, one hour, three hours, six hours, twelve hours, twenty four hours, one week, one month”


So, once the (inevitable) results were in Michael Cox, UK Director of Wines of Chile, who commissioned the research, sent out a press release saying: "It's official – women can't keep secrets”

And that quote got used in the news. The real news! Where factual things get relayed and people take them to be…fact. Thanks Michael, you’re my hero.

He then went on to say that “juicy gossip can really flow after a couple of glasses of wine” (Don’t know about you but I’m picturing him holding up his product with a dead eyed smile as he said that) Fancy propping up misogyny to sell wine Michael, that’s not very nice.

But it’s not all Michael’s fault. Leave him alone, he’s had enough.

Gender stereotypes – however untrue – are vigorously maintained throughout the media all the time. So often in fact that we don’t even notice anymore; they are just part of the everyday landscape. Oh yes readers, I have seen the Matrix (not the film, the idea from the film) (I have also seen the film)

Rom coms, sitcoms, adverts. Mostly those bloody adverts, full of boring killjoy women rolling their eyes at silly men, whilst the men are all trying to avoid their wives and girlfriends so they can eat some Pringles (?) and actually have fun. Something women kill dead, right lads? Yeah, it’s cool, I’m not like other women. I speak your language.

Oh yes and then there’s that, the thing I just did there. The worst result of all this nonsense. Women who have bought into the lies about their own gender so much that they go around trying to ingratiate themselves with men by saying stuff like “I don’t get on with other women, they’re all so bitchy and girly” The fuck? Don’t do that. That’s the kind of thing Michael Cox would do. Sorry Michael, I’ll leave you alone now I promise.

This bullshit battle of the sexes, which I don’t actually recognise from real life at all, is accepted as being a true and tangible thing. Usually to shift gender specific products. Or fun Pringles for fun man time….yeah, I still don’t see it.

Sometimes, just sometimes, people recognise half of the problem (their own half usually)

Men will write into the Metro saying “why do adverts make us all look oafish and stupid and women look smart and sensible” Then they’ll get a rant on about bloody women. Like all women wrote the advert.

Then women will write in and say “why do adverts make us all look like such awful nags?” Then they’ll get a rant on about bloody men. Like all men wrote the advert.

Nobody joins forces and says “wait a minute, we’re both being painted to look bad in our own way…hmm, it must be because this is how advertisers use their very limited screen time to sell us stuff. By being really basic and simplistic and therefore using stereotypes that weirdly appeal to us after years of being whacked over the head with them so hard that we’ve ended up with some form of Stockholm Syndrome where we actually cling on to them a bit and carry them on ourselves. Oh yeah, this isn’t something we should be taking into our lives and applying there. Sod you Mr Pringles, I can eat your crisps with my wife and still have fun”

What I’m saying, in a really cack handed way is, people are people, with very individual experiences, characteristics and ideas. Gender sometimes informs certain things about people, like whether they wear a bra or not for example, although…no, that’s another topic.

So ignore adverts (that’s just good advice in general), don’t believe rom coms (not just for the gender stuff, they also give people a truly warped vision of how relationships work) and the next time you read a headline that claims some study or other has proven a stereotypical behaviour exists, remember Michael Cox and his bloody awful wine survey. Ok, leave Michael alone now.


Dan F said...

What a swine that Michael Cox is.

You're spot on about the Metro gender debate. Every time it comes up people rise to it.

Christina Martin said...

Bloody Michael bloody Cox

Yeah, it's woeful to watch.

Anonymous said...

That is an excellent article that should be published everywhere. I can think of several people whose throats I literally want to ram it down!

Christina Martin said...

I'm glad you think so. Thanks!

Ruby Boo said...

You'd think he'd make cider