Archives par mot-clef : Societal

Women of tomorrow


Women are definitely the only social ensemble in the world to represent a majority of people but to act like a minority. From their ways of seeing the future to the efficient communication means to reach them, every reasoning is a macrosocietal, everything is community…

To bring this “Women of tomorrow” survey to a successful conclusion, Nielsen has asked questions to more than 6500 women, living in 20 countries, 10 emerging countries and 10 developed countries, using the internet, telephone or door-to-door to approach them. All of this to try to get a better understanding of the way women see themselves in the future, of how a message reach them, and to try to reveal some sociodemographic differences.

The place of women in monotheistic religions


On the 15th of August 2011, France 5 based its show « It’s in the air » on the theme « Religions: Where are the women? » (Watch the video here), an analysis on the role of women in the three great monotheistic religions.


A very limited place in most religion

Overall, the picture is clear: it is the men who monopolise the most important places in the religious hierarchy, whether in terms of revered characters (God is never a woman …) or religious authorities. Women generally do not have the right to spread the word of God because priesthood is exclusively male (with the notable exception of Protestantism, which much more liberal in this sense). Women cannot even marry priests: it was allowed until the 12th century, but the Vatican imposed celibacy to avoid the risk that the sons of priests inherit church property. Today, according to some theology experts interviewed, it is material considerations that prevent authorization for priests to get married; the Church would have to provide for their families, which would be an unbearable financial burden during the current financial climate.

Of course there have always been notable female figures in religious history: there are female versions of Buddha, extremely important female roles in the Old Testament (Esther, Sarah, Judith …). But the faithful do not address their prayers to them, because, apart from Mary Magdalene, they are not considered capable of harnessing a bridge between God and man.

– Some Jewish texts could be described as misogynistic, yet many exalt the image of the mother – to the point that religion is spread through her; a child is born Jewish only if his mother is. Women also play an important role in the sacred texts: it is women who first received the Torah and women who were allowed to return to Israel before men (punished for their lack of courage against giants).

– For Muslims, texts advocate gender equality in status but not in behaviour: the husband has a certain influence over his wife.

– Finally, among Catholics, women need to be the adjuvant of men as modelled by the sister of St. Benedict who encouraged him to pursue his spiritual quest; he would have abandoned it without her support and encouragement. As summarized by priests questioned on the program, in the Catholic religion, women support and advise, but stick mainly to this secondary role: « a woman is more inclined to listen and the man to step in and act.’

However it is women who represent the majority of believers

As emphasized by Jacqueline Kelen, author of « Letter of love to the Pope » interviewed during this program, this disregard of women is all the more incomprehensible as in the texts women play a role as important as that of men. She takes the example of the Catholic religion at the time of preaching, Jesus walked along the paths with both men and women, and his resurrection was first announced by Mary Magdalene; the apostles, all male, did not believe it until she announced the good news.

The majority of the faithful are women. The Catholic religion has twice as many religious women than men and parishioners are often female. It is these parishioners who are most devoted to their church and do not hesitate to give themselves and their time to assist the priest – but always behind the scenes. It is often they who prepare church before Mass or take care of the catechism, but they are confined to the menial tasks. However, as the imam pointed out humorously during his interview on the show, « My religion is a religion in the South; it is a bit of a macho society really. But women are everywhere: They’re at home, they’re faithful, they’re protective … without women, we’re screwed! There would be no religion!

A paradox due to the weight of traditions and original texts

What is the cause of this non-recognition of women as spiritual authorities, despite their historic role in religions? According to Frédéric Lenoir, it is related to the weight of tradition and the past, which explains how changes in society are much faster than those of religion. « Jesus could not be a woman at the time, the patriarchal society was so that his word would not have been heard … « The time of writing the sacred books has inevitably influenced their sociological content, yet they are the basis of the current teaching of religion, which explains how the old views of (male superiority) still dominate in the religious organizations.”There has always been a sense of jealously of men vis-à-vis women: indeed, men think they have an infinite capacity for enjoyment which brings them closer to the hand of god, when they themselves have a finite capacity for enjoyment. ‘

A relative feminization of religion

Today, however, there is a resurgence of feminine values in religion, and more specifically maternal values. The craze over Marie-Madeleine is ever growing because she is the symbol of the mother who protects, reassures and intercedes with the Father. Lourdes, a place of pilgrimage since Bernadette Soubirous witnessed an apparition of the ‘Immaculate Conception’ in 1858, hosts more than 5 million visitors annually. Mary Magdalene became so popular that Robert Hossein dedicated a show to her in August 2011 entitled « A woman named Mary », it was played only once, in Lourdes, to more than 25,000 people.

This resurgence of maternal values also applies to God: in these times when religions are declining, in funding as well as the proportion of believers, priests insist on God’s ability to guide men to the right choice, forgive and show the example of the spiritual ideal to achieve. Far from the omniscient authority holder, who punishes, God becomes a reassuring figure, in short, a gentle father, more understanding towards his followers. A bit like a mother, one may say…

Marine Baudin-Sarlet

Men and women don’t remember the same things from adverts


According to an American study carried out in 2011 by Com Score, entitled « Men more difficult to persuade with advertising than women », advertising content affects men and women differently. Although both sexes have the same ability to memorise advertisements, they don¹t focus on the same elements…
which proves, yet again, that advertising agencies need to adapt their strategy depending on which gender they’re targeting.

The Com Score study firstly shows that women are more interested in adverts than men are: while 56% of men claim to « rarely or never » watch adverts, only 43% of women are in this situation. During an ad break in the middle of a TV programme, for example, men tend to get up and do other things while waiting for their programme to resume, whilst women stay in front of the TV and watch the adverts. Women also spend more time on the Internet than men do (3% on average), notably on e-commerce sites where they are exposed to advertising.

School biology books cause controversy by presenting gender as an acquired character and not an innate one


The new biology curriculum to be introduced in French sixth form classes in September 2011 has triggered a wave of protests amongst Catholic organisations. The new textbooks outline the role of the environment and upbringing in the construction of male/female differences… which implicitly justifies homosexuality, according to some Catholics.

In the new science textbooks, it’s the passage about how one’s gender is constructed that has given rise to controversy. Although the authors describe the physical and hormonal differences between the sexes, they also focus on the importance of social construction in determining one’s gender.
A point of view that¹s at odds with the Church, for whom gender is an innate anthropological given, which the child receives before its birth and which the influence of one’s environment bears no relation.

Women are shoppers, men are buyers


Here’s an image that has been talked about a lot over the last year. In it we see the routes taken by a man and a woman who both have the same goal: going to buy a new pair of trousers in a Gap shop.

Sometimes classified in the humour category and often marred with unseemly comments, it deserves credit according to a lot of specialists (including Marti Barletta, author of Marketing to Women) for imitating a number of fundamental male-female differences, making it useful for studying marketing to women.

The act of purchasing and the decision-making process that accompanies it always take on complex forms and vary a lot from one person to the next.

However, a trend emerges when the purchase concerns either a woman or a man.

When a man is looking to buy some new trousers, he’ll opt for a product that will be a « good solution  » for him. Meanwhile, a woman will look for the « perfect answer ».

Women and their appearance: not as tense a relationship as you might think


According to an Ipsos study carried out in March 2011 for Psychologies Magazine, 64% of women deem themselves to be « beautiful or quite beautiful », and their hang-ups tend to disappear with age, as if they learn to accept themselves as they are. French women and their bodies: a true love story?

Contrary to what you might think, it’s neither slimming nor youth that are essential for feeling beautiful, but happiness. Admittedly, differences can be observed depending on the age groups: 8% of over 60s cite youth (against 1% of 15-19 year-olds) but only 4% cite « knowing how to bring out the best of one’s body«  (against 15% of 15-19 year-olds).

While 64% of women find themselves « beautiful or quite beautiful« , 50% nevertheless have a complex about a part of their body. But once again, age is a determining factor in the way in which they perceive themselves: while 71% of 20-24 year-olds say they have complexes, only 48% of 35-44 year-olds and 38% of 60+ women say they do! Through ageing, women learn to put their flaws into perspective and feel comfortable about their bodies.

Nevertheless, 54% of women would like to change something about their appearance. The majority of the time, it’s more a question of slimming than beauty: the stomach comes first across all generations, with a peak after pregnancies, which tend to stretch this part of the body. Young women have more complexes with their bodies, whereas the over 45s would like to change their face more than anything else, in response to the changes caused by time.

But overall, this Ipsos study reveals that for the most part, women live in perfect harmony with their appearance: only 10% claim to find themselves « not beautiful at all« , against 25% 30 years ago!

Men, women and their values


When asked what « having a successful life » means, the responses obtained amongst French men and women were noticeably similar: « having a happy family life » (77%) and « remaining free » (19%) (Value survey by INSEE). Yet some differences remain between men and women: here is an overview of the values which are essential for some… and not so for others.

Family: Family is the most consensual value: making a home is an essential condition for happiness for both sexes. Men and women agree on the fact that the mother should have the possibility of combining career and family life as much as men, but that having two parents in full-time employment can be detrimental to the young child, especially if the parents have stressful and/or time-consuming jobs. However, amongst 20-30 year-olds, two differences can be seen: more women judge the sharing of household tasks to be « essential for a marriage’s success », and are more open to homosexuality and gay parenting.

Religion: Women believe in and practise religion more than men: according to a poll published in La Croix in 2004, 77% of women declared that they have a religion, as opposed to 69% of men, and more women find comfort and strength in prayer. Sociological theories, still at an early stage, explain women’s greater religiousness by their experience of pregnancy and childbirth, which represents a direct link with the mystery of life.

Politics: Men are more politically aware than women: according to a poll for Le Figaro, 49% of men claim to be interested in politics, against only 37% of women, a difference that’s observed in all age groups. But overall, there’s a growing lack of interest in politics, with abstention rates higher than ever (except during presidential elections).

Work: The huge flow of women into the job market has led to a convergence of opinions concerning work. But, while both sexes judge having a job to be essential for happiness and self-accomplishment, women are more likely to cite « the opportunity to meet people » as a preferred criteria in a job, whereas men are more focused on the status of the position and the salary. Moreover, 83% of women give priority to their personal life, whereas 41% of men judge their career to be as important as their personal life.

A mother and a daughter, but only one marketing campaign


The mother-daughter relationship is closer than ever… and marketers are making the most of it: since the beginning of the 21st century, adverts that target both mothers and daughters have been on the increase.

Source: RevueNews.

According to psychiatrists, the proliferation of divorced households where the mother brings her children up on her own is a major cause of this phenomenon. But at stake are the young girls who could end up struggling to establish their own identity because they’re always living in the shadow of their Wonder Woman mothers. According to Isabelle Decoopman, marketing lecturer at the EDHEC Business School, « It’s often the mothers who are searching for such closeness, they don’t intend to pass on the torch by giving up their femininity. They are therefore the ones who suggest clothes-swapping with their daughters. »Of course, not all single-parent households will find themselves in this situation but this youthism syndrome is becoming widespread.

‘Gender Trouble’ by Judith Butler and the question of ‘performing gender’ decoded by Raphaël Lellouche


Here is the decoded theory by the semiotician Raphaël Lellouche of the performativity of gender developed by Judith Butler. The idea developed by Judith Butler is that we are not men or women but that we perform our gender, we play man or woman. Butler’s theory of gender as a performative construction is taken from Austin and Searle.

To start, there is Austins theory. Performativity is a theory of language: when you say it, you do it. Austin has established a distinction; it is why he is well known. We always analyse sentences, propositions of language, and language images as a state of things in reality. A sentence is reality. The famous example is « The cat is on the mat ». There is a cat on a mat drawn on an image or I’m in front of them now, and I say, by showing them « it is on the mat ». If the cat is not there and neither the doormat, I am asked « Where is the cat? And I say » The cat is on the mat « .

Questionnaire for 8-13 year-old girls: establishing personality and learning femininity


For the launch of its new format, the magazine Julie, which is dedicated to 8-13 year-old girls, wanted to get to know its readers better by launching l’Observatoire des petites filles (Questionnaire for young girls). More than 400 girls completed the questionnaire which appeared in the January 2011 issue.

The main findings from this survey? Preadolescence, which didn’t exist ten or so years ago, has become a life stage in its own right, with its specific codes and concerns. Young girls aged between 8 and 13 no longer consider themselves to be children: they are in transition with adolescence, whose codes they imitate (groups of friends, boyfriends, make-up, social networks on the Internet, etc.). But they remain little girls, as shown by their attachment to school (78%), to their mum (93%) and to young American actresses Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez.