The gender reversal challenge

Take a look at the tagline on the front cover of the recently-published Hollyoaks – Girl Talk book: “Boys, bodies, relationships, fame and the important issue of what to wear.”

Are those topics genuinely the most important things these actresses have opinions on? Are they really the main issues that people would be interested in reading?

Cultural stereotypes are so deeply ingrained in both sexes – women as nurturers and homemakers who should  be aesthetically pleasing at all times, men as breadwinners with Neanderthalic tendencies – that most people aren’t even aware of it. It’s about time this social conditioning was challenged but where do you start?

The mainstream media are probably the most frequent purveyors of this self-perpetuating narrow-mindedness. Pay close attention to the line of questioning in any interview, particularly with female celebrities, and you’ll find examples of glaring sexism.

To demonstrate the point, The Pop Cop decided to meet a couple of bonnie young Scottish musicians, RACHEL SERMANNI and DONALD MACDONALD, to see how they fared with a few questions that are rarely asked of their gender…

Rachel Sermanni, 18, hails from Carrbridge, near Aviemore, and is about to enter her second gap year. Her mum works for the NHS and her dad is in the police force. She is currently staying with relatives in Glasgow as she chases pop stardom.

What’s your favourite type of car?
Mini. I can’t drive but I’m taking lessons in September.

What cool gadgets do you own?
I have a mobile phone, a laptop – a nice Mac thing – and an iPod.
What kind of iPod?
A thin one!

Which football team do you support?
How many Celtic matches did you go to last season?
[laughs] None. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a football match.

What sports do you take part in regularly?
I like to run. Football is probably my favourite to play, though. When we were with Admiral Fallow on tour, we had a game and our team won. It was something like 11-8. I was an attacker, at the front. I scored about three goals.

Would you fight for your country if there was conscription?
It depends on the cause. Probably not. I’d maybe be a nurse.

Have you been in a physical fight?
Only with my younger brother. I think the first time was when I was 12 and he was eight. It was more slapping than anything else. I don’t think I’ve ever punched him in the face. I’ve probably punched him elsewhere, though.

Have you ever been in trouble with the law?
I was out with a group of friends from the village and one of the boys had brought back a water pipe from Turkey. We were all completely oblivious to the fact that you’re meant to smoke drugs through it. One of our friends was 18 and we wanted to see how it worked so he put some tobacco in it and we sat in the park and watched him smoke that. And then the police came down. It was so bad. They shone a light on him and told him to come over. But everything was legal.

What’s the drunkest you’ve been?
I was once sick in Sleazy’s because of White Russians. They are bad. I remember being escorted out by the guy with his hand on my back. But I’ve never been so drunk that I can’t remember anything or fallen over. I don’t drink a lot. If I’m going out I’ll stick to something like vodka and lemonade.
What kind of drunk are you?
I take on the observer role. I step back and barely talk. I watch interactions and get really engrossed. I’m a big people-watcher.

How would you feel if you started getting grey hair?
I’d think it was kind of cool because it shows a wisdom. I’ve got one white hair, which I like to call silver. I, my mum and my sister have it in the same place. I pull it out but it grows back. My mum is 50 this year and she doesn’t have any greys except that one.

Do you have any tattoos?
No, but I want one. I’ve known that I want one for a while. I’d like to do a lot of the design myself. I’m thinking of getting a fox. My dad once told me a really cool phrase, ‘As soft as a doe but as sharp as a fox’. I’ve thought of getting something like that, a little deer – you’re gentle but you have good instincts.

Would you feel uncomfortable if your partner earned more money than you?
I’d be alright with it. It would be nice but you wouldn’t want to rely on them too much. I’d like to feel as independent as possible.

Rachel Sermanni – Eggshells

August 27, Ivory Blacks, Glasgow
September 18, Loopallu, Ullapool (tickets)

Donald Macdonald, 21, grew up in Contin, about eight miles from Dingwall. His dad, Calum, is one of the founder members of Runrig and his mum is a teacher. He went to college in Skye and is now working in Glasgow.

When do you plan to settle down and have a family?
63! Ohhh, I really, really couldn’t answer that. Ehhh. Oh, lordy. I’d say th-, th-… not before 35, 36.

How many children would you like?
That depends on the wonders of contraceptive! I would like three kids… eventually. I’d like three boys, teach them shinty.

Are you ever worried about your weight?
No, it has never been a problem. I’m quite active and go to the gym.

Do you watch what you eat?
Not at all.

Have you ever been hurt in a relationship?
Emm… in what way?
Not physically then! I’ve been cheated on and stuff, it’s not nice. I’ve never done that to someone myself.
Did the experience make you more cautious of women?
THAT woman, yes! I suppose a wee bit. I don’t really think about it.

Chocolates or flowers?
Chocolates. I don’t think I’ve ever received flowers. Or chocolates for that matter, except Dairy Milk.

How much attention do you pay to your own appearance?
I spend about six minutes in the morning putting gel in my hair and that’s pretty much it. I don’t pay too much attention to it but I make sure I’m presentable. Some days more than others. If I’m going out I’ll maybe spend seven minutes.

Do you think people judge you on how you look?
They would if I went into the local back home. If I go out here I wear skinny jeans. If I go out to the Strath hotel – that’s the shinty pub back home – I have to dress down so you put on a hi-viz jacket and boilet suit and off you go. Absolutely no skinny jeans at the Strath hotel. Once, I was labouring on a building site across the road for a summer job. It was a Friday and we brought clothes to go straight out after work. I brought these pointy shoes with a wee heel in them, they were pretty cool. Unbeknownst to me, they sanded one of the heels down for a laugh. I ended up hobbling about all night.

Donald Macdonald – Wreck Of A Ship

August 19, Bar 10, Glasgow
August 21, Isle of Wedge, Skye (tickets)
September 2, Twa Tams, Perth

One Response to “The gender reversal challenge”

  1. Dan Says:

    July 3rd, 2015 at 23:13

    Is there a point made here? Whoever wrote this started off hinting at sexism in the media, then there are two interviews with a woman and a man that seem to have nothing to do with each other. And then it stops.

    Where is the point? I mean, okay, cool people, yay. But why the initial paragraph about stereotypes? In what way is Rachel Sermanni stereotypical? I don’t get it.

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