October 1938: 82-year-old Mihailo Tolotos died. He had lived his entire life in Greece's Mt. Athos monastery, which women were (are) not allowed to enter, and he was therefore believed to have been the only man in the world never to have seen a woman — or rather, the only man never to have been in the presence of a woman (except his mother, who died giving birth to him), because as the folks over at The Straight Dope point out, anyone who is born blind will have never seen a woman.
The Edinburg Daily Courier - Oct 29, 1938
In 1949, the Nixon Furniture Company featured the story of Mihailo Tolotos in one of their ads. They were worried that just as Tolotos had never seen a woman, perhaps the readers of the Raleigh Register hadn't seen all of Nixon's new furniture.
EU bureaucrats, in their great wisdom, decided that the way to encourage teenage girls to pursue a career in science was not by appealing to their intelligence and curiosity, but rather by flashing images of high heels, lipstick, and makeup at them, along with the tagline: "Science, It's a Girl Thing." The inevitable outrage followed. (telegraph.co.uk)
It was my impression (though I don't have any data at hand to back it up, so I could be totally mistaken) that in some sciences, such as biology and medicine, women are fairly equally represented (perhaps even at risk of becoming over-represented). So in those cases science already is a "girl thing." It's the physical sciences, such as electrical engineering, that still have trouble attracting women.
This article analyses portrayals of Scottish female herring workers on the covers of romance novels and investigates how far these representations conform to, or subvert, the genre of romantic fiction. Covers are analysed to establish whether they accurately portray Scottish female herring workers at their labour. If romanticisation of the women's working role is evident, the ways in which this manifests itself and the possible reasons for this romanticisation are examined. Composition of images and the mise-en-scene of covers are analysed, as well as aspects concerning the narratives of the novels, and elements of herring processing work that are noticeably absent in the depictions are also considered. These elements excluded from the covers are examined through theory relating to the abject in an attempt to ascertain whether the covers potentially provide models of female empowerment for the reader.
And here are some of the romance novel covers in question.
I'll spare you the trouble of reading the article by summarizing its findings. Gutting herrings is smelly, dirty work. This is not accurately portrayed on romance covers. (Thanks to Dave Monroe!)
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
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