Well this was a bit grim.
An infographic landed in my inbox this morning, from a party I won't name – not to protect them, but because I don't fancy either giving them publicity or instigating some sort of online witch-hunt.
Its aim? To flog some Oirish jewellery ahead of Valentine's Day, using a few semi-interesting facts about traditional romantic customs followed by some modern stats about online dating and the like.
Towards the end, though, an odd insertion caught my eye:
Sorry now, but... what the actual? (And no, I'm not talking about the bizarre inclusion of a chicken drumstick with the fry-up.)
"Agreeing" to watch a "chick flick"?
Picking up your partner – who is definitely female, it would appear – from her "girl's" [sic] night out?
"Letting" the partner watch soaps "occasionally".... to "brighten their mood"?
Obviously we get sent in all sorts here, and for the most part we ignore the rubbish – but while this may seem like a hilariously out-of-touch romantic guide from the 1940s, something to just be laughed at, there is something really and truly unsettling about it.
'Baffled to disgusted'
The disturbing fact is that people out there still think it's okay to write stuff like this; whether in jest or because it constitutes some firmly held belief, they really think that gender is a binary split, and that such roles should continue to be propagated.
And worst of all, people out there still think it's so okay and so in line with how society thinks, that they even use it to promote their business. Or at least try.
Thankfully, most reactions from actual people seemed to vary from baffled to disgusted.
— Anna Nolan (@AnnaNolanJ1) January 25, 2016
— Sarah-Jane Fortune (@s_j_fortune) January 25, 2016
@AidanCoughlan g r i m
— aoife (@aoiph) January 25, 2016
— Mary-Jane (@theglamityjane) January 25, 2016
@AidanCoughlan Da fuck...?
— Róisín (@roisinod) January 25, 2016
Normally we wouldn't harp on about this type of thing – like I say, we'd just ignore it, and bin the message.
But this morning, I replied (politely, I should say) to the sender saying that this was sexist and archaic, and that we wouldn't be running the infographic on Lovin Dublin – it's not us, it's not what we believe, it's not reflective of our readers, and it's absolutely the opposite direction of where we want to go as a publisher.
'This shit is dangerous'
I know people will reply to this article telling me that I'm taking it 'wayyyyy' too seriously, or perhaps that "it's only a bit of craic" so I should "lighten up".
But they're wrong; this shit is dangerous.
Not only because it limits women to being incidental bit-players (or annoyances) in a man's world – but also because it reinforces the idea that a 'real' man steers clear of all things emotional.
And we all know where that stigma can lead.
We've all grown up in a prejudiced world, we've absorbed prejudices, we've normalised prejudices, we've even propagated prejudices without realising it. That's why it's absolutely key to catch them before they slip in under the radar, and challenge the shit out of them.
It may sound lofty and a bit pretentious – but we wouldn't really be doing our jobs if we didn't do exactly that.