Monsieur Jean: Master Coiffeur and Undercover Spy
June 24, 2003 7:11 AM   Subscribe

Girls dress up, boys don't. Boys need to help girls cross the street. Girls work, boys play. Subtle gender messages (and really silly hairstyles) as observed by Monsieur Jean after collecting images from different countries of children on street signs for his salon.
posted by iconomy (18 comments total)
I like the child being attacked by lemur sign from Madagascar.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:32 AM on June 24, 2003

I'm hoping that Monsieur Jean doesn't really take himself and street signs quite so seriously and this is all in good fun. It sure made me laugh. It's also a fascinating study of cultural icons (for lack of a better word). Nice link, ike.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:46 AM on June 24, 2003

Fascinating. He also has Rocks coming down in depth, and Men at Work. Looking at all these signs juxtaposed, there has to be some kind of comparative meme genealogy possible here ...
posted by carter at 8:04 AM on June 24, 2003

posted by PigAlien at 8:23 AM on June 24, 2003

We must open our eyes for reality: modern signs are meant to impregnate us with the thought that we are un-people, nobodies, numbers, and must behave accordingly like docile herd-animals.

This based on the idea that the only way you can tell a girl stick figure is by the skirt and ponytail. Interesting.
posted by ilsa at 8:27 AM on June 24, 2003

Yes, great post (including the hairstyles - awesome!)
posted by plep at 8:52 AM on June 24, 2003

Excellent post!
posted by ptermit at 8:57 AM on June 24, 2003

I like this post a lot. It's interesting, if for nothing more than it's peculiarity.
posted by Witty at 9:23 AM on June 24, 2003

Yes, Monsieur Jean has uncovered our sekrit plot to subjugate wimmen via street signs. Damn him and his French hairdressing ways!
posted by MrBaliHai at 9:40 AM on June 24, 2003

Gee. I wonder if he ever considered that these road signs might just simply be road signs.

Naw, that's too easy. Must be a conspiracy.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 9:56 AM on June 24, 2003

Take the first panel where an oversized baby boy is kicking at a girl. She waits defenceless, her legs trembling.

I laughed out loud at that one.

I consider the signs more as "created during a different time", rather than " Subtle gender messages". It's not a conspiracy, it's "old school" and maybe time for a redesign. I wonder how many women are responsible for making and posting those signs? Probably plenty. Again, times change.
posted by tomplus2 at 11:09 AM on June 24, 2003

Oh come now, you're not going to assert that popular culture doesn't enforce sexual, racial, and ethnic stereotypes? And that sings are part of that culture.

These things happen - it doesn't require men (or others) sitting in a backroom smoking cigars and plotting make it so. We all, as part of the culture participate in these ideas.

It's like the American cultural norm. With few exceptions (e.g. male nurse) We assume a person to be a white, Christian, male, heterosexual unless otherwise specified. (Lady lawyer, Jewish doctor, Black man, woman doctor). We never say man lawyer, man doctor, christian lawyer, etc.

This doesn't make us evil, it only illustrates a cultural expectation. And these expectations CAN have a detrimental effect on many of the cultures citizens, regardless of race, sex, religion, etc.
posted by Red58 at 11:28 AM on June 24, 2003

[this is good]
posted by zpousman at 11:52 AM on June 24, 2003

I've been taking photographs of "Don't let your dog mess on the sidewalk" signs for a while now, and the one thing I've found common is the pictoral sign for the, ahem, mess, which usually takes the form of a little pile with three wavy lines coming off it to signify freshness. If anyone has any different ones I'd love to see them.

And no, I don't remember why I started doing this either.
posted by ciderwoman at 12:48 PM on June 24, 2003

Mealwhine, in Jamaica, the girl leads the boy. [WARNING: self-link.]
posted by britain at 1:18 PM on June 24, 2003

iconomy, this is a wonderful, quirky site. It's quite fun to read and to surf - I've spent far too long here this afternoon! And I too bewail the advent of the de-articulated bubbleheads!

I think it's great that this hairdresser's interest in the icon's hair styles led to this collection. Business sites - particularly small businesses - should loosen up and add creative content like this to their business sites.

Nowhere near as charming, but for the fun of signage, here's a repository of international signs that started out as do not enter road signs and expanded to encompass general "do not" signs sent in by readers.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:18 PM on June 24, 2003

[this is good]
posted by dg at 7:04 PM on June 24, 2003


Note that the kids, if clothing is depicted, tend to wear the general fashion of their area. As icons, they get across the idea of "kids" quickly to the locals (nationals, whatever). Obviously on a road sign, you want to get across that they're kids right away - getting the warning out to drivers as soon as possible so they can be alert for them, right?

Well, that's what makes this such an interesting question for me - if a sign is supposed to quickly get across the idea "a girl and a boy," playing off of the driver's expectations of the local iconography, is there a potential safety value in making them instantly recognizable to be weighed against the cultural negative of reinforcing (2-dimensional) stereotypes? If so, how do we compare these two ineffables?
posted by soyjoy at 9:34 PM on June 24, 2003

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