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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Invisible Men


In response to dressless figures, *dresses are made and added to signs. Please join the activity if you are interested. We can also remove dresses from figures with dress (though it would be technically more difficult).

The idea started with No Men In Women's Washrooms

Figure on signs is often male rather than female. Some may say it's neuter, for signs other than toilet signs don't carry the function of differentiation. Some may say a figure without dress is simpler than a figure with dress, making a cleaner and more accessible sign. Then why do some such as escalator ones always include "female" figures, especially when it's about taking care of children? I remember one example told by a feminist: we call male doctors "doctors", but we call female doctors "female doctors", as if it's normal for doctors to be men - as if it's normal for women to be invisible. This kind of gender stereotyping shows it's not that we can't realize the invisibility of women (in the society) but more importantly, the invisibility of the (over)dominance of men.

*It is understood that dress may also be a type of gender stereotyping. But if, idealistically, it's not only women who can wear dress, why can't any random figure wear one? The above briefly stated the reason for adding dresses to signs, yet the topic is open for different views. The activity is definitely not intended to reinforce the dress stereotype. I hope it won't turn out to be.
It's important to keep in mind that there are more genders than two. What's mentioned is only about the general scene. Another concern would be figures with added dress may not look feminine due to the original form. For the same reason above, this would not be a problem. Though adding "female figures" to signs was the initial notion, the activity could simply be "adding dresses". Why can't male - or other "non-feminine" as you call - figures wear dress? Furthermore, there is no reason for women to look "feminine" in the first place.


  1. Anonymous3:54 PM

    It's now obsolete, but in the UK before 1999, a female Police Constable (PC) used to be called a WPC, or Woman Police Constable.

    "Female police constables first joined the force in September, 1949. They used the prefix 'Woman' in front of their rank — as in Woman Police Constable (WPC) and Woman Police Sergeant (WPS) — to distinguish themselves from male officers, who had wider authority. Their original duties were restricted to patrolling and the care and observation of female and juvenile male detainees. They were usually seconded to the CID but the first Woman Detective Constable was not appointed until 1970. They were given six-day, 48-hour work weeks but were not allowed to work night shifts, except for special on-call duty, until June 1973."