I was on my high school’s alumni page and I saw this link posted. Despite some really narrow-minded remarks that were used to criticize the poster such as “why do we need to bring gender into everything?” and “what’s next, will we encourage our boys into nursing?” I think this video does a great job of sending a message to young girls that they can be whatever they want to be. What’s really amazing to me is that the girls take all of the very pink, gendered toys and make them a part of a massive contraption in order to open the garage door and see the outside world. To me this represented them not simply rejecting that they were girls, but instead using the resources already given to them by society to pave their own path. However, though videos like this can be so inspiring, I think about the comments left on this post in my school’s alumni page and I wonder what it will take to really show this male-dominated society why diversity (including but not just limited to gender) in engineering and other male-dominated fields is so important.
I’ve been seeing this video of an “adorable 911 call” on Facebook and other social media sites a lot lately. In the video, a five year old girl named Savannah calls 911 when her dad has a heart attack. Savannah is helpful in her conversation with the operator, but what makes the video so “adorable” is the way Savannah steers the conversation to her clothes. At 1:54, after the dispatcher tells Savannah that people are on their way to the house to help, Savannah says “Ok. We’re in our jammies… and I’m in a tank top. So… I’ll have to get dressed.” Again at 1:59, Savannah says “”I dont…what I am gonna wear, but… he really needs oxygen.”
The video is garnering attention because Savannah is cute and funny. It is humorous that a little girl is preoccupied with what she will wear to the hospital after her father has just had a heart attack. However, I find the video a little sad because it shows how a five year old girl is already so preoccupied with her appearance. Bergen said in Ways of Seeing that “women appear,” and this video proves that girls internalize society’s expectations of women as decoration at an extremely young age. Savannah must have learned this mentality from female caretakers in her life, as well as media influences. I think this video is an example of gender as a process, and shows how young girls interpret what it means to be female.
Buzzfeed recently posted an article about “The Representation Project” that is fighting to change the way women are represented in media. Included was a powerful three minute video that demonstrated how media failed women in 2013. A lot of the example were reminiscent of the ones we saw in “Dreamworlds” and “Killing Us Softly”, but the sexist excerpts from politicians, news anchors, and radio really left a lasting impression. Seeing women put down and objectified in advertisements and commercials is (unfortunately) not surprising anymore, but the comments from well respected and influential people is. Being at a university that advocates so much from women and equality has put me in a bubble, and now I am shocked by the ignorant and ridiculous comments from the rest of the world. Take a couple minutes and watch the video as well.
The above article by Suzanne Venker, published just a few days ago, puts marriage neatly in a box, where men are the breadwinners, and women live a balanced life taking care of the home and children. (This article is also heteronormative.) It is obviously not wrong if a man and woman marry and choose this model for their lives, but it is wrong for Venker to say that this is the only good model. Many others exist; men can take care of the house or children while women work, or they can divide the work evenly. The “research” in this article consisted of sweeping generalizations. The one that bothered me most was: “That women prefer part-time work is simply irrefutable…And it’s even true among Ivy League graduates!” The articles she cites for these generalizations only use specific examples. Yet she uses them to perpetuate harmful stereotypes of what homes and families should look like.
In the video linked above, Jennifer Lawrence speaks out against society’s impossible beauty standards in answer to a question from a young girl about how to deal with the pressures from peers and the media to achieve perfection. I found her answer not only refreshing but inspiring. If society shared her views, more women would love their bodies. Women face the nearly impossibly task of feeling confident in about their own bodies while ignoring the harmful (and wrong) messages society sends about what is healthy or beautiful. A new attitude toward appearance – when “fat” and “skinny” are no longer relevant terms, when every woman’s body shape is accepted for its inherent beauty, and when women are no longer compared to and pitted against one another – is the ideal that society as a whole must strive for. Because as Lawrence says of how it is now, “that shouldn’t be the real world.” Amen, Jennifer!
In her comeback single, Lily Allen satirizes the standards with which the music industry and society pressure women. The video opens with Allen on a surgery table defending her body to her male manager and doctors who say she let herself go (“Um, I had two babies”). The song goes on to discuss about the pressures on women to be thin while having a booty, being able to cook and be beautiful.
A highlight of the video is Allen’s balloon banner, a la “Robin Thicke has a big dick” in the casually sexist rape culture-promoting anthem that is “Blurred Lines, which here reads “Lily Allen has a baggy pussy.” Lily Allen certainly does not care what men think of her or her body.
But perhaps this is exclusive “white girl feminism,” because while Lily Allen is asserting the difficulties of being a woman in a male-dominated world, she still surrounds herself with women of color who are subjected to the same objectification that that men do. The women of color twerk and dance sexually, get champagne poured on them and get money thrown on them. I get that Allen is intentionally put in the “male” role, but it leaves me questioning the video in terms of race. Because even if it is satire, it is still an outlet for the continued ogling by men at these sexualized and objectified colored bodies. Is this “ironic” piece just racist? Because Allen is essentially accessorizing black bodies like Miley Cyrus does while tearing down what popstars like Cyrus deal with in the industry.
In terms of raising issues of gender inequality, this song succeeds, but many have seen it as racially insensitive. In the end I think that it is all satire, given Allen’s penchant for severely biting sarcasm. Unfortunately the music industry does use women of color as booty-shaking objects, and while I think this knowingly pokes fun at that, it still leaves me a bit uncomfortable. I would love for someone to respond.
This week, our readings have taken a turn for the overtly sexual, especially with Bussel’s “Beyond Yes or No”. The reading felt like sex therapy for disconnected partners, and there is nothing wrong with that! In fact, I saw a great connection between this article and the new Showtime series “Masters of Sex”. The show follows OB-GYN Dr. Masters and his sexy assistant as they try and uncover the secrets behind sexual pleasure in the 1950’s. It is as if you are watching the research being conducted of Bussel’s proposals. Attached is the New Yorker’s review, which is largely complementary. If you get any time during the war that is Midterm Season, give the Pilot a try!