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.
In June 2011, the French children¹s label Petit Bateau unveiled its new range of bodies. And in doing so, it sparked a scandal: the clothes were printed with a list of adjectives characterising the two sexes, with girls being “cute and funny” and boys being “strong and determined”… The use of such sexist clichés angered many Internet users, who invaded the brand’s Facebook page.
In Petit Bateau’s universe, little girls should be “pretty, headstrong, funny, sweet, eager, flirty, loving, cute, elegant, beautiful” whilst little boys should be “courageous, strong, proud, robust, valiant, cunning, smart, determined, mischievous, cool”. It’s a rather chauvinist description of the two sexes, according to Elise Fimbel, the first Internet user who took to the brand’s Facebook wall to convey her outrage: “I’ve just seen the photo of your sexist bodies which spell out the worst of stereotypes. It’s pathetic. If retro is the fashion, it doesn’t make sense to me to take a big step backwards.“
Abercrombie and Fitch has once again created buzz around its products—this time, though, it has caused a stir with its audience. In April, the clothing chain began selling padded bikinis at their children’s stores which are aimed for 8 to 14-year-olds. This has sparked controversy among parents and the media who are concerned with the over-sexualization of youth today. The brand has attempted to relabel the bathing suits as bras for 12-14 year olds, but the negative buzz has already made the rounds and has spread all around the internet. We are thus left wondering: great publicity stunt or terrible marketing idea?