Why men look cool smoking and women don't?
I kinda knew what to expect when I clicked the link '10 Celebrities you didn't know smoked', I mean, I knew it wasn't going to increase my IQ but being an ex-smoker I was genuinely intriugued by who these celebrity smokers were.
Instead, what I noticed was something far more fascinating.
Have a look at how the cis women (of which there were seven compared to the three cis men) were portrayed:
All the women have the cigarette between their fingers near their mouths and all are lit. The shots are not attractive in the slightest, which of course is fine, we don't want to encourage smoking.
But let's have a look at how the three men were portrayed:
None of them have a lit cigarette, all three have it casually hanging from their mouth and not a hand in sight. They all look pretty cool (okay, not so much Simon Cowell, but you get the gist). There's a detachment from the cigarette so they're not really smoking and it doesn't look so bad.
But perhaps it's just that men simply look cool smoking and women don't.
Well, I'm #notbuyingit.
It's a simple and ever so subtle suggestion (even unconcious) that women shouldn't smoke because it's unattractive and so unattractive photos of them are chosen. This is further supported by the tags attached to this story:
Notice the 'mothers' tag, none of these women are pregnant or with their children at the time they are smoking. The negative connotations of a mother smoking are numerous so it adds to the negative position of women smoking. Even though Brad Pitt and Simon Cowell are both fathers that tag is not included.
If this was not the position of the story then perhaps these images of the men (which were easy to find by a simple google search) could have been selected:
They don't look so cool anymore.
Or it could have been balanced by using these images of some of the women (I only chose three for suggestions sake):
The ladies are looking a bit cooler, right?
I'm not advocating smoking or looking cool or not looking cool whilst doing it, and this isn't even a statement about attractiveness, what I'm proposing is that we become aware of the ways which women and men are being portrayed in opposing ways. Mostly it's an unconscious bias but until we begin to recognise it and practise looking for it, even in the crappy articles online, then we will continue to perpetuate the divide between genders.