Tag Archives: children

B Party!

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

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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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“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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GoldiBlox: Raising Female Engineers

Engineering is without a doubt a male dominated workplace. One woman saw the statistics and no longer wanted to be in only 11% of women engineers. As a way to expand the field, she believed that engineers needed to start young. No, not high school young… preschool young.

She came up with the idea for GoldieBlox, an engineering toy for young girls. She says that girls like reading and girls like pink. Boys like building and thinking out of the box. According to what we learned, these are tactics that have been used by toy manufacturers to push dolls vs. toy guns on kids.

However, it can be used for good. Because of social framing, boys are more attracted to dark colored toys at the store and young girls gravitate toward the pastel section. Why not use those frames for good? The developer even stated that toys like Lincoln Logs and Legos have simply put pastel colors on their toys to make them appeal to girls. However, engineer Debbie Lewis is not only changing the color, she’s making engineering appealing to young girls.

And now gender profiling doesn’t look too bad.

***Update***

You can purchase GoldiBlox online for $29.99. 

http://www.goldieblox.com/products/goldieblox-and-the-spinning-machine

From despair to hope

After we watched the film Dreamworlds in class, I was depressed. I’m a happy person. I don’t get depressed. But I was in a 3 hour funk.

The images that I saw felt like they had been literally branded onto my eyes. How do people think that this is the right way to behave? The very first thing that popped into my head was… “It’s hopeless. We can never change everyone.”  I have decided to take a step back for a while and focus on something else.

Then I found this Halloween gem. Last week, ABC News set up cameras in a department store and placed actors who posed questions to their fellow shoppers. Can my son dress up like Belle? Can my daughter dress up like SpiderMan?

The reactions were astounding. Every person they questioned sided with the mom. Even small children scoffed at the costume choices.

All except one couple.

Their conversation with the mother was heartfelt and open. And it gave me the lift out of the funk that I needed. Even during this scary time of year, there’s a little hope. Someday, kids won’t be boxed into gender roles. Maybe that day can be today.

 

What are YOU going to be for Halloween?

Naturally Angry: Boys Vs. Girls

Charles Darwin: naturalist, teacher, daddy?

Yes, Charles Darwin had ten children, though three died very young. While most parents these days take pictures of their children for posterity, Darwin went one step further… he filled a diary with detailed notes about what his son William did. Referring to William as “the child”, Darwin made some very interesting observations about what children know and what they are taught.

Anger is an emotion that affects us all, and we have discussed in class that it is more acceptable for men to express anger than it is for a woman. This may be something learned or, as Darwin suggests, it’s natural for males, even in childhood.

Darwin had the following thoughts on the subject in 1877…

“Anger. – It was difficult to decide at how early an age anger was felt; on [William’s] eighth day he frowned and wrinkled the skin round his eyes before a crying fit, but this may have been due to pain or distress, and not to anger. When about ten weeks old, he was given some rather cold milk and he kept a slight frown on his forehead all the time that he was sucking, so that he looked like a grown-up person made cross from being compelled to do something which he did not like. When nearly four months old, and perhaps much earlier, there could be no doubt, from the manner in which the blood gushed into his whole face and scalp, that he easily got into a violent passion. A small cause sufficed; thus, when a little over seven months old, he screamed with rage because a lemon slipped away and he could not seize it with his hands. When eleven months old, if a wrong plaything was given to him, he would push it away and beat it; I presume that the beating was an instinctive sign of anger, like the snapping of the jaws by a young crocodile just out of the egg, and not that he imagined he could hurt the plaything. When two years and three months old, he became a great adept at throwing books or sticks, &c., at anyone who offended him; and so it was with some of my other sons. On the other hand, I could never see a trace of such aptitude in my infant daughters; and this makes me think that a tendency to throw objects is inherited by boys.” – Charles Darwin A Biological Sketch of an Infant,1877

So according to Darwin, anger is just another part of male life, not learned and not taught. But I think that if it is seen and perpetuated, it can get out of hand, as we observed in The Bro Code. Alternatives to angry outbursts ca be taught at an early age and that’s when change can occur for the better.

Like a little girl

“Verklempt” is a Yiddish word meaning “full of emotion”. It’s fine to express happiness in today’s society but not sadness. Why?

I read Mike’s blog post about a great story and he said, “The Jason McElwain story almost brings me to tears every time I watch it.” Almost. I watched the same story and I almost cried as well. Heck, I watched the clip 3 times and got goosebumps and watery eyes every single time. But the tears didn’t fall because I held them in check for two reasons. I was about to go to class when I saw the clip and people tend to associate red, puffy eyes with something bad that happened.

Crying has been taboo in our society for a long time because it is associated with weakness for both men and women. If men cry, then they are “acting like girls.” If women cry then they clearly can’t handle life. In 1994, Sesame Street realized this trend and released a short film saying that it is alright for anyone to cry.

The video says that it’s alright to cry if you’re overwhelmed. Work and school present many overwhelming facets of life. Comedienne Tina Fey had this to say about crying in public or in the workplace in her book Bossypants, “Some people say, “Never let them see you cry.” I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.”

So crying clearly has an affect on more than the crier. For example, when I see men cry, whether in films or in real life, I feel more emotional than I would if a woman were crying in the same scene. Is it because I have been conditioned that when women cry, it’s normal but if men cry then something has gone really wrong?

A Jezebel video shows how men are portrayed crying in films and it’s usually supposed to achieve a comedic outcome or it’s the result of rage.

I have never seen my father cry. Ever since I was a child, I have seen more women cry than I can count. Is this because women are more sensitive or is it because men have been trained very carefully to never shed a tear?

In this extreme case, an award is offered to the first man to drop a tear onto the table. After over 30 minutes, not one of them can do it. A woman comes on afterwards and produces many tears in less than 30 seconds.

If we’re conditioning males to become emotionless tough machines, it isn’t a wonder that we see so much violence among males in our society today.

Carefully Taught

ImageWhen I was a child, I was taught to tie my shoes. I was taught to leave a party cleaner than when I arrived. I was taught to say Yes, Sir and Yes Ma’am. The kid at the wedding yesterday was taught that it is okay to point at me and say, “She’s black. That means she’s cool.”

Most people would take that as a compliment, but as I am half Black and half White, I don’t like to choose sides, nor do I like being told that one races is “better” than the other. I shouldn’t have felt bullied, but I did.

 

In my last post, I mentioned that children are sponges. Every snide comment and stereotypical aside that was made by a parent gets added to an internal list that could be repeated at any time. But they learned it from their parents who learned it from their parents who learned it from…. I’m going to exhaust myself.

A character in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, South Pacific had a problem with inter-racial marriage. He blames his upbringing on how he was taught. This is no different than my statement that children naturally soak up these ideas. Even if someone doesn’t think that they are teaching, it’s happening. You don’t realize that you’ve been teaching anything until you take ’em out into public and check their report card.

“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!”

-Lt.Cable, South Pacific