Author Archives: strangastrange

B Party!

When most people picture the words “Barbie ” and “Party” together, they usually are thinking of something like this:

BARBIE_1064_roomKidaqua

However, a new party has begun. A political party.

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That’s right! Thanks to The White House Project, young girls are being taught that women aren’t just pretty faces. We’re Presidential material and we can stand on our own. Literally. While Barbie is still in permanent tiptoes and ready for heels, the shoes that come with this doll are made for walking! Well… standing. Not only that, they’re having Barbie run under “The B Party,” putting her in a third party race! Thinking outside the box… I like it!

The project focuses on the potential of women aged 21-35, but they know from whence that potential comes. Teaching the females of our generation that a presidency is in their grasp is mind blowing and world changing. The younger they learn, the better they become. Mattel, for the first time I can say… “I salute you.”

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The Wrap-Up

My original plan for this blog was to highlight children’s media and how society treats youth. I strayed from that plan a few times, but with good reason. There is so much to learn out there about how the media affects our lives and it was so interesting! As a society, we consume so much media that I was able to implement things I learned in this class every day.

The feedback from my friends has been pretty mixed. My last post is just an example of the kind of things that I’m starting to notice. Sometimes someone will say something to me that seems incredibly racist/sexist and I’ll think to myself, “Are these people just becoming horrible or has this been going on all my life and I’m just waking up to it?”

This class has been really enlightening and it’s astounding how much I have learned. I hope that it becomes part of the Baccalaureate core because everyone should take this class. Seriously.

I think I’ll continue this blog after the class is over to highlight things that I notice in the media.

This picture that I found on the internet is pretty much how my conversations with my friends go after this class.

M2vwE

Month of no shaving… every month.

I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw someone’s post that caught me off guard. A young man posted, “It’s sad when a woman in my checkout line has more of a mustache than I do.”

A couple of other people joined me in informing him that his thinking was terribly misogynistic, to which he replied, “What? I’m not the bad guy here. I’m the one that has to look at her.”

Because, yes, he believes that’s the fault lies entirely with the woman in his checkout line and not with his view of perfection that he is forcing on her.

His sister commented soon after and deplored his attitude. He replied that “If you were to grow a mustache, I wouldn’t be seen in public with you.”

Because it’s so terrible when mammals like humans grow hair. (sarcasm)

I was disgusted and posted this link to an article that really opened my eyes to how others live. 2012_9$largeimg226_Sep_2012_153458447

A Sikh woman was photographed in her school’s library with a full beard and the picture was posted on the internet. When she found out about the post, she simply replied that it was a good opportunity for others to see how she believed. Everyone responded so well that it seemed like something out of an after-school special.

When Kaur learned of the posting through a friend, she addressed the poster with grace. “I’m not embarrassed or even humiliated by the attention (negative and positive) that this picture is getting because it’s who I am,” she responded.

“I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being and (we) must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will,” said Kaur. Sikhs are forbidden from cutting their hair as one of five tenets of their faith.

The original poster of the photo later apologized on Reddit, and said that he had met with Kaur, who had grown up in his hometown. “Put simply it was stupid. Making fun of people is funny to some but incredibly degrading to the people you’re making fun of. It was an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post,” he said.

“Balpreet, I’m sorry for being a closed minded individual. You are a much better person than I am. Sikhs, I’m sorry for insulting your culture and way of life,” he said.

When the Facebook acquaintance saw my link to this story, he became defensive and said, “So, what? Women are getting all hairy now? Is that the new thing? You’re attacking me because I don’t want girls to have facial hair?”

In my opinion, this was a learned response perpetuated by encouragement from his peers who would ordinarily accept such a post and guffaw right along with him. Our outrage threw him off his game and caused a glitch in his “Dreamworld”.

As interesting a case study as he would make, unfriend.

“Are we nothin’?” “NO!”

Newsies

As I get back to my original theme of children’s media, I would like to talk about their rights. In class, when we talk about racist and sexist media aimed at children, we usually end up saying things like, “How can they show these things to kids?” and “That’s why they have parents to monitor them.”

This is under the assumption that children do not have rights beyond the Universal Human Rights that should be afforded to everyone. The right to life, liberty, security and the like.

I had assumed that kids really didn’t have many right beyond that but I was wrong. In a couple of cases, minors have even been authorized to represent themselves in court when separating from their parents.

In 1899, the only time people wanted to hear from children was when they were selling papers on the street. But even those kids knew when they were being jilted and held a newsies strike that halted news production all over New England. They got their raise in pay because they worked together to defeat the paper conglomerates William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer.

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Some minors have proven in this way that they are competent enough to deserve the rights of adults. Not the right to drink or smoke, but to hold their own council and decide their own fate. For what it’s worth, I think that a couple of minors in some large scale production meetings would bring a fresh outlook on how media treats women, minorities… and children.

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Bechdel Movie Test

We talk a lot in class about how minorities are portrayed in films but there’s still a long way to go when it comes to women in movies. Think back to the last film you saw and conjure an image of 2 men talking about anything. Not hard, right? How about 2 women talking? That’s a little harder.

There’s a test available to try framing different films called the Bechdel Test. Named for the creator Alison Bechdel after a comic strip she wrote, the rule states that a movie must fall under 3 categories.

1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man
The Bechdel Test
Challenge accepted! How hard could it be? There’s a list online of a lot of movies describing how they fall under the Bechdel Rule. If you don’t see your favorite movie on there, submit a rating!
My first question was, “Why don’t filmmakers see this and actually try to make films that will pass the test?”
Filmmaker Jennifer Keller wrote an article answering that question. She was told by executives that her scripts would not be accepted and she challenged them with surprising results.

My scripts had multiple women with names. Talking to each other. About something other than men. That, they explained nervously, was not okay. I asked why. Well, it would be more accurate to say I politely demanded a thorough, logical explanation that made sense for a change (I’d found the “audience won’t watch women!” argument pretty questionable, with its ever-shifting reasons and parameters).

At first I got several tentative murmurings about how it distracted from the flow or point of the story. I went through this with more than one professor, more than one industry professional. Finally, I got one blessedly telling explanation from an industry pro: “The audience doesn’t want to listen to a bunch of women talking about whatever it is women talk about.”

Yes, people still think like this. And I checked. Even children’s films fall under scrutiny and fail.

How do your favorite films measure up?

Sexism at sea!

Ahoy there!

During the election, there was a lot of talk about “sending us back to the 1950’s.” They spoke in terms of women’s rights, but little did they know that the law we were fighting went back to the 1850’s!

I speak of the unofficial regulation of Women and Children First. When a captain orders a ship to be evacuated, an ancient practice of chivalry mandates that women and children be allowed to board the lifeboats before the men. It was popularized during the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic where a majority of the lives saved during the tragedy were women and children and any men who survived were branded as cowards because, as we have discussed in class, society has deemed that it’s not okay to be a girl.

While this is not even official maritime law and was more of an exception than a rule, that didn’t make the idea any less popular. Dr. Lucy Delap of Cambridge University debunked the famous myth and discovered that the whole idea was made up as a way to keep women from voting.

In the early 20th century, feminist and suffragist women were well aware that the myth of male chivalry during shipwrecks was used to exclude them from positions of power in politics and society. They responded to the Titanic disaster with the memorable slogan, ‘Votes for Women, Boats for Men’, stressing that women voters would put human lives above corporate profit in regulating the ocean liner companies.  They emphasized the irony of putting women first in shipwrecks, only to exploit or exclude them systematically in other realms.  And some suggested that the vulnerable – the weak, the elderly, the very young – should precede the strong, whatever their sex.

The romantic idea that we’ve all accepted as truth was used to keep women under, while purporting to keep them afloat.

Ain’t Irony grand?

It’s your special day!

Ah, weddings. The joining together of a couple. Sappy goodness. I have been a DJ for a few weddings and something that I like to do is talk with the bride and groom about what music they want. Sometimes, that’s not what they want to do.

I met with a happy couple a few weeks ago. “Millie” showed me a long list of songs that she “always knew she wanted to play at her wedding.” On the other hand, “Jim” sat and barely contributed at all except to say, “Sure. That’s fine. Whatever.”

I asked Jim if he had any input. and he said that he really didn’t have anything to add because It’s her special day.

Pardon me, but when did marriage turn into a circus where the main act is a woman getting married… and the man has nothing to do with it.

This isn’t just an isolated incident. Television tells young girls that they must be the ones to plan these extravagant events. Shows like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Bridezillas, and Say Yes to the Dress focus on brides planning their dream weddings and, for the most part, grooms are only shown at the end of the episode at the altar.

If this is truly the most important day in their lives, I believe it should be a joint effort.

Last year, a show called Don’t Tell the Bride aired on British television. It gave grooms a chance to plan their wedding. Everything from the cakes to the wedding dress was their decision. The show even features homosexual and lesbian couples planning their weddings.

This is good TV. Because it’s not just her day. It’s just one of many days that belongs to the both of them. I hope this show sticks around because this is an idea that needs to be heard.