In addition to all sorts of bad things happening to their government libraries, some Canadian librarians have also fallen victim to the most popular and risible genre of journalism about librarians, the Stereotype Busting genre.
As usual, the article lives up to the stereotype of journalists thinking everyone who works in a library is a librarian, since I think two of the four “librarians” profiled aren’t actually librarians. On the other hand, if journalists actually knew what they were talking about, then we’d lose half the fun of reading them.
I found this one kind of weird. It begins by bringing up the two stereotypes the author believes are stereotypes, the old shusher and the sexpot. That alone is odd, because the sexy librarian isn’t a stereotype so much as a fantasy. Maybe a stereotypical fantasy, but still a fantasy.
The other weird part of the opening is the last sentence, saying that regardless of whether she’s a shusher or a sexpot, the librarian is “always, always a woman.” Thus, one might expect a lot of me to counter the stereotype.
Apparently, profiling one man and three women belies the absolutely true stereotype that the vast majority of librarians are women.
There’s also three white people, which should help dispel the absolutely true stereotype that most librarians (definitely in the U.S., and I’m assuming in Canada) are white people.
There’s one woman of Asian descent, so I guess there’s a little diversity. Little diversity, another librarian stereotype. The article isn’t doing so well so far.
The article I mostly found amusing, and everyone seemed game to play along. The accompanying photo spread I found slightly disturbing.
Out of thirteen photos, the man gets three more or less full body shots, which show he was either artfully posed by the photographer or that he naturally lists to the left. Two of the shots are almost identical, except that in one we get a better look at his argyle socks. Another stereotype busted.
But check out the other photos of the three women. All of them get full body shots, so that’s three photos. One also gets a closeup on her face and, oddly enough, her hands. Another gets a closeup of her neck.
I suppose those photos were designed to show off their jewelry, but the focusing on the isolated body parts for the women but not the man is odd. No, wait, it’s not odd. It’s stereotypical of men.
That still leave us with four photos to go, almost a third of the spread. Those photos are devoted to shoes, well, footwear, shoes and boots. The footwear isn’t on any feet. It’s just sitting on display on a table or something.
In keeping with the current journalistic trend to get rid of photographers and have reporters take their own pictures, the journalist is also the photographer.
I’m not quite sure what point he’s trying to get across, perhaps that some librarians wear unusual looking shoes. But what comes across to me is that he’s a shoe fetishist. I ran across one of those once, a man who collected women’s shoes and fondled them a lot, and he was creepy as all get out.
So between the closeups of women’s body parts but not men’s, and the glamor shots of shoes, I don’t think the librarians are getting very far away from some other stereotypes, especially the belief that women are there to be fashionable and look good for the man’s admiring gaze, wherever that gaze happens to dwell.
And since that kind of thing doesn’t happen to professionals in a male dominated profession, we’re right back where we started.