In 1950, Monopoly made the first alteration to its pieces since its invention in 1935, exchanging the rocking horse for the dog. This month there was a public vote to change another. The little iron was no longer wanted, and a cat was chosen to replace it. But what does this say about modern day society?

Is there something to read in the switching of the iron, a symbol of domesticity and the housewife, to the cat, more commonly associated with female independence or spinsterhood?

Feminism tends to be reduced to the stereotype of butch, man-hating lesbians. However even though society is now more gender-equal, there are still boundaries which society continues to endorse. Advertisements are prime examples of this: The most apparent is the ‘sex appeal’ advert, particularly chosen for magazines and perfumes. The aim of these ads is to appeal to both to men and women; the men want her and women want to be her.

The models ultimately choose to be looked upon as sex symbols. Although the male gaze has been dominant until now, in a modern society some women are just as guilty. Adverts such as the new Diet Coke one encourage the objectification of a very hot man, rather than a woman.

The recent re-publication of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar has sparked controversy: The cover, a woman reapplying her makeup, has been criticised for distorting the novel’s aims, instead portraying the book ‘as a glorified chick flick’. For such a serious novel about depression and gender stereotypes, the cover has been criticised by Jezebel, a feminist blogger, “to feature a low-rent retro wannabe pinup applying makeup.”

Whilst ‘a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover’, the publisher’s aims and audience are rather questionable. Judging from the illustration, it’s doubtful whether more understanding and educated perceptions of women are encouraged rather than another 50 Shades of Grey.

Advertisements in general still seem to promote gender stereotyped products. The latest Barclays advert transports us back to the day of the male breadwinner providing everything for his spoilt daughter, from bikes, to horses, cars, and everything pink. From the moment the girl is born, society establishes gender division by providing her with a shelf of pink clothes, whilst the boy’s are blue.

Other adverts, such as Fairy, show the woman in the home endorsing the product for the past fifty years or so. This is similar to many baby adverts, as women are then seen to be stuck in the role of the housewife. These days many fathers do their fair share of child-raising, and washing up is no longer just the female’s responsibility, however adverts fail to demonstrate this.

In a world where people are constantly pushing towards gender equality, are adverts then undermining this goal? Perhaps there is still something worrying about the prevalence of gender stereotypes in the media. Whilst sometimes feminism can be seen as too extreme, the issues it aims to tackle are still relevant.

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