So, I’ve been wanting to make this cartoon for a while, to talk more about red flags.
And I finally got around to it.
And I’ve changed why I’m doing it.
Yeah, I mean, it’s funny, and it draws attention to the concept of red flags, so it’s doing that much, but instead of launching into a writing about red flags, I’m going to talk about gendering every damn thing, how pervasive it is and how fucking harmful.
You see, I’m somewhat talented in a few things. Drawing is even one of those things. BUT being the founder of a dating business, and wearing all the hats and trying to also create images and content every single day can take up a lot of time, so I don’t have as much time to draw or create things from scratch as I might like.
So, I thought, “I’ll find an image from one of the sources I use and change it.”
And I did.
This image was originally a man giving a woman six red roses.
I downloaded it, added another six stems and made the roses red flags. I also changed the colors to match DK’s branding, added my little quip, and it only took me about 20 minutes for all of the sizes we create for every piece of content.
And as I was looking at it, I realized that my image, however silly and funny I think it is, perpetuates gender stereotypes.
And is therefore harmful.
Now, let me be clear, I think it has the potential to do more good than harm.
Similar to how we enjoy desserts, even though we know they are not good for us, or the way we use chemo to battle cancer, even though it’s poisoning our bodies.
Because we feel good about the balance.
And I feel (mostly) good about the balance.
BUT, only because right now, I’m going to talk about that.
You see, DK is inclusive, and I put a lot of time and thought in making that clear, through my writings and content and images. Sometimes it takes me 10x as long to find an inclusive or harmless image than it would to choose another.
I do it, because that is a core value for me, and therefore for my business.
And yet, sometimes, the stereotypes are so pervasive, I don’t realize until later (like today).
What stereotype, you might ask?
In this original, the stereotype is of a man giving a woman red roses. Which, in all my searching, I didn’t find a single images of a woman giving a man roses, or women to a woman or a man to a man.
(Searching of the stock 10+ paid and credit-based photo sites I use images from.)
But once I altered it, the stereotype is even greater—and more harmful.
That MEN offer red flags.
That WOMEN ignore them and love them men anyway.
Not only is is super-heteronormative, it’s also gender-biased. Because red flags are not gendered. At all.
EVERYONE has the opportunity to exhibit red flags in relationships, and everyone of every gender has overlooked red flags waving in their faces more than once.
(You know it’s true.)
And suggesting that this is an issue related to the Great War of the Sexes, that has been raging on and on for thousands of years is just ridiculous.
But that’s what people do.
Not long ago, I wrote about the question, “How are you still single?”
Quite a few people in the comments used my writing as a platform to bitch about how women (like me) are never satisfied with men, and are always bitching about what they say and do, and making them not want to even try.
Which confused me.
Because I didn’t gender that writing.
I specifically did not gender that writing, because the person who originally inspired it was a gay man. Talking about other men.
And I believe that it is not a single-gender issue, but one we can all (well, most of us) relate to, and learn from.
And yet, these people who were bitching and whining KEPT making it about women versus men.
Even when I told them that there was no gendering.
Even when I told them that anyone of any gender can hear it, dislike it, say it, whatever.
Because they HAD to gender it to fit it within their own world.
Why gender things unnecessarily?
Well, the answer for most is because they see stuff (like my needlessly gendered image) all the time, and they accept it as TRUE, as opposed to as one perspective of the truth, and then they get comfortable with it.
And that’s where we get tropes like:
•Dominants are abusive, submissive cannot be.
•Women gossip, men don’t.
•Men are lazy and/or messy, women are neat.
•Women don’t play video games, only men do that (or do that well).
•Women are submissive, it’s the natural order of things for men to dominate.
And you know what else is harmful about the war of the sexes?
Because it ever-so-casually erases everyone who is not female or male.
And that’s pretty shitty.