Icons: a symbol of traditional gender roles?

By | June 10, 2012
We were making lunch today, when I asked my husband a question which he is probably annoyed at by now, as I still cannot figure out what the icons on the oven mean: which setting is the right one again? The nuclear symbol with the line under it?

No, just the nuclear symbol, he replies.

We don't have a radioactive oven – but the 'nuclear symbol' supposedly means the air gets circulated during baking. Why a nuclear symbol? Is the implied assumption that women belong in the household and shouldn't know about nuclear activity signage? Or that scientists don't cook? Either way, it is a very discriminatory symbol. It isn't the only one either: restroom symbols are equally sexist. If we really want to say that men and women are equal, isn't it high time to untangle the biased icons?

4 thoughts on “Icons: a symbol of traditional gender roles?

  1. David Pusta

    I find it mind-boggling how people manage to make such ridiculous mental leaps, practically circumventing all forms of logic and common sense, and still manage to rationalize it to themselves. We all do it, to some extent, as otherwise we'd likely not make it through the day, but this is just flat out nonsense. The same form of logic, or indeed the lack thereof, that is (not) used when associating the hazard symbol on an oven – and that's what's this is about, if I'm not mistaken – with any form of discrimination or misogyny is also, in my mind, the culprit in the case of gems such as 'A Man Is a Rape-Supporter If….' manifesto. Such extremes of thought are, without exception, a very poor approach to anything, regardless of the people who employ it or their reasons for doing so. As for restroom icons, it's debatable whether their functionality outweighs the odds of offending people with bizarrely-wired brains, but I'll have that argument when I get there.

  2. Víktor Bautista i Roca

    I don't understand how from an ill designed symbol you get some discrimination theory. In fact, if the fan symbol on your oven is one of the habituals, it looks just like a fan, not really like a radiation symbol. Well, in fact, it's the radiation symbol the ill designed, I think.
    Anyway, this is the radiation symbol: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Radioactivity_symbol.png and thes different oven fan symbols: http://www.google.cat/search?q=oven+fan+symbol&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=ca&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&biw=1153&bih=717&sei=gxjVT6vEGump0QXv6_iOBA#um=1&hl=ca&safe=off&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=oven+fan+symbol&oq=oven+fan+symbol&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_l=img.12……0.0.OsM93iJHgk8&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=2ebe7fbf8f5e5342&biw=1153&bih=717

  3. Christopher Andersen

    Well… that sounds confusing.  It's probably supposed to be a picture of a fan, symbolizing moving air, i.e. convection.  If it looks like a nuclear symbol, that would make me think "radiation", which is broiling or radiated heat in oven terms.


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