Stock photos are supposed to be just that: stock. Just a simple image representing a simple human event. And because of the general expectation that stock photos are snapshot representations of everyday life, when you actually take the time to examine the gender assumptions present in these images, shit gets real weird real fast.
Let's be fair to stock image photographers on this one: Most of the 20th century was filled with images of beautiful housewives in heels tackling wet pubes stuck on toilets and wet pubes stuck on baseboards. (TV shows usually didn't show the pubes, but why else would anyone ever clean anything, if not for wet pubes?)
The point is, because of TV and advertising, we don't expect women to be less than glamorous when tackling grimy household chores, no matter how nasty they are. Men, on the other hand, are smart enough to understand that household pubes require T-shirts and tennis shoes, not tuxedos and shiny shoes. Men! They'll never stop being geniuses!
If stock images are to be believed, women can't tell the difference between dressing for prom and dressing for vacuuming. That would be pretty patronizing if it weren't for the fact that in 2014 women on average put in a full hour more than men cleaning and maintaining the home per day. Women, in other words, are pretty much experts on household maintenance, and experts are smart enough to not tackle a dirty job in a cocktail dress and heels.
Despite still taking the brunt of the housework, it is 2015, and more and more women are forging a path through the workforce. Whether it be mothers who work, women holding traditionally male positions, or women obtaining degrees, statistics across the board have gone up over the past 50 years. Yet we as a society still refuse to credit this progress, choosing instead to view these hard-working women as the stars of boner fantasias.
Male firefighters (which can be easily found using the search term "firefighters"; specifying gender is not important) are epic badasses who spend their days running into raging infernos with as much stoic calm as a cool guy walking away from ... an explosion ... that started a fi- holy shit.
Of course, there are pictures of the stereotypical male firefighters beefcaked out. But in the first 10 pages (there are well over 100) of stock photos, only five can be found. That's one sexy fireman photo for every two pages. There are actually more photos of children pretending to be firemen in the first 10 pages than there are images of hot firemen -- correction, sexy firemen, because obviously they're all pretty hot. Because fire.
On the other hand, firewomen (you can use the word "female" in the search if you want easier results) look like they spend 90 percent of their day spinning around the firehouse pole.
There are only 12 pages of female firefighters, and the majority of the images aren't even women. Also in the mix are kids, men, and a bunch of cartoons that would only be sexy to castaways trapped on desert islands with nothing but coconut mannequins to satisfy them.
The same themes occur across the board -- including the gender-specific search term requirements) whether it be male vs. female police officers ...
... soldiers ...
... or mechanics.
Based on the stock photos we've seen so far, men are clearly hard-working providers spending all their time lugging bacon to and from the office, whereas women languidly drape their bodies over whatever particular tool is most associated with their given trade.
Of course, because society believes professional women don't actually work, we seem to believe women don't actually sleep either. They just elegantly pose themselves on various pieces of furniture. Their countenances are quiet and tender, like they just ate a cursed fruit salad. Miraculously coiffed hair frames their heads like halos.
Another necessary biological function is toilet time. In Stockphotosylvania, men have violent relationships with their commodes. Guys are constantly unloosing painful bowel ballast all over the place. Are those happy, house-cleaning dudes from earlier living a lie? Yes.
When they aren't, they're still hard at work, because remember, men never stop working.
Weirdly enough, the toilet-going experience seems downright pleasurable for at least one fellow; let's not even bother to hazard a guess as to why.
"I actually paid to be the model for this one."
Women on toilets, on the other hand, are just bizarre. Every damn picture shows women with their knees together, but with legs apart, which doesn't exactly seem conducive to pooping, but sure does make their fancy lace panties look pretty.
Even when women are sick on toilets -- which is hands-down the unsexiest way to be sick -- they still follow this trope. It's like stock photographers never even heard of Candy Crush.
Dysentery: the sexiest of the bowel illnesses.
Let's shift focus from what comes out to what goes in. In a spectacular attempt to prove society looks down on both genders equally, let's take a look at how people are depicted while eating.
Men. Are. Pigs. That's the only thing that can be taken away from this. In every shot they open their mouths wide and just cram that food all up in there. Stock-photo men are ravenous idiot boar-slugs who shit on encyclopedias and don't know their mouths from their nostrils (and probably call their nostrils "oxygen assholes").
Women? They just don't eat. They pantomime eating. They just put the food close enough to their mouths to give the illusion of eating without actually doing so.
But look closely and you'll notice that women repeatedly close their eyes while pretending to eat, because apparently just smelling food is one big namaste orgasm. Combine this with body spray and shampoo commercials and men must think women are just walking around sniffing things and getting off on their chakras all day long.
After eating like brontosauruses, guys need to get out there and work off those carbs, right? That's why we see them kicking ass and taking names:
And dunking in an epic manner that puts now-dead Air Bud and his stupid now-dead dog kids in their stupid now-dead dog places:
But since women don't actually eat, they don't have anything to burn off, or any energy to do it with, for that matter. So when it comes to exercise, they are too tuckered to wear shirts:
And sitting around on basketballs, because sometimes vestigial evolutionary instinct takes over and you want to hatch the entire roster of the 1993 Chicago Bulls.
Fact: Sports make people sweaty and gross. Second fact: Hair traps in sweat odors. It has been scientifically proven the No. 1 way to make a person less sweaty and gross is to make them take a shower. Shaving is also recommended by four out of five dentists as the best way to remove sweat-scented follicles. Try it; we'll wait.
What did you do in the shower? Wait, don't answer that. But we're betting it was something along the lines of half-assedly moving shampoo around your head, crying a little when that shampoo got in your eye, crying a little more after you cut yourself shaving, and then just saying fuck it and throwing your clothes on without even bothering to towel off, because grooming is hard.
Most stock photos of dudes shaving are just guys looking in a mirror. Because that's, you know, how you shave:
Women, however, have to go ahead and make shaving stupidly complicated:
Sure, their legs certainly look very pretty suspended up in the air like that, but it's a damn safe bet they're missing spots. Those legs be patchy, yo. Plus, you know, nobody shaves like that. For one thing, that's can-can girl height on the leg, and most women don't have the quad strength to suspend legs in the air long enough to get the whole leg. Speaking of the whole leg, the ladies in this picture aren't going to get their thighs shaved without standing up and squatting in the tub. Good luck capturing that image without it turning into straight-up porn, stock photographers.
WHY IS SHE ON A BED.
Carolyn had to sift through pictures of men on toilets, so the least you can do is follow her on Twitter.
Also be sure to check out 14 Bizarre Scenarios That Are Way Too Common in Stock Photos and 5 True Stories Behind Iconic Pictures of Badass Women.
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