Today, as with most days in the week, I went to the bank. While waiting for the teller to finish with the man ahead of me (who appeared to be depositing his life savings in five cent pieces), I mindlessly flicked through the brochures on display. Internet banking, business lending, business banking, advice on self-managed super funds, student loans, credit cards, home loans – all the services you’d expect from a bank. Nothing unusual…except…hang on a minute. What’s with all the dudes?
Yep, every brochure they produce features a man.
Actually, I’m lying. There is a brochure aimed at women. It was the one where she needed help paying her bills, probably because (and I am using my context clues here) it’s the middle of the day and she’s at home in her gym gear instead of in the CBD wearing her best pinstripe skirt and jacket.
While the brochures with a focus on growth, education and business all capture positive imagery of men actively seeking to get ahead in life (even the student is wearing a business shirt for christ’s sake), the one pamphlet relating to assistance in the event of financial hardship features a woman, and very clearly sends a message that the average female struggles to grasp money matters and can’t control her spending.
In fairness, they do make some attempt at bringing women in to the business banking arena with their brochure on Cashflow Finance, but it seems a pretty poor attempt at inclusion, given she has a person I assume is meant to be her husband standing next to her.
At one point, I did think the BOQ was attempting to join the 21st century by showing a lesbian couple applying for a home loan. But on closer inspection, they turned out to be just a couple of employees, doing what female employees of banks do best i.e. nothing.
Now, I’m by no means a staunch Women’s Liberationist. If women in developed countries haven’t worked out they have more choices in life these days, then I honestly struggle to empathise. But the BOQ is sending a subliminal message to us all about how little they value women in an oddly blatant way. They are to subtle what Hitler was to race relations.
Individually, none of these brochures are objectionable. It’s only when they are seen en masse that they become problematic, and my bank’s motives questionable. Well, the motives of my bank are always questionable, but did they really need to go and give me another reason to dislike them?
The Bank of Queensland is a financial Boy’s Own manual, and their marketing towards women is at best a token effort. For someone like me, a businesswoman who is rarely home and never goes to the gym (not because I don’t have time but because gyms are horrible sweat boxes full of walking egos), there is only one way to read it – in their eyes, I’m a rarity and therefore not worth marketing to. It’s funny really, because I’m often one of several women in the queue at the bank, and they don’t ever appear to be lining up for any reason other than to deposit money. They carry company sized banking books with lots of pages, indicating they do this quite regularly, and some of them even wear proper business suits. Like men, you know?
Then again, maybe I’m making way too much of it. Maybe the BOQ didn’t mean for it to be taken that way at all, and fully understand how important women are. Benefit of the doubt, etcetera. So I grabbed one of their Customer Service brochures with the intention of contacting them regarding my concerns, thinking perhaps all they needed was to have it pointed out to them.
Then again, maybe not. They’d probably only put my concerns down to a particularly nasty bout of PreMenstrual Tension anyway..