Facebook banned me from posting for 24 hours because I posted “abusive” photos — my first two profile pictures from nearly a year and a half ago. So, of course, I’m sharing them here:
As requested, I’ve pulled out one of my women’s studies books to bring you a definition of gender.
First, we have to acknowledge that the term “sex” refers to biology, and your sexual organs. You are born a girl, a boy, or intersex. Therefore, the term “gender” refers to culture and society– often phrased “social construction of gender.” What does it mean to be a man, or to be a woman? What adjectives have you been called recently?
- weak, pretty, timid, demure (dowdy/frumpy, matronly, brazen, coy, slut, whore)
- strong, handsome, burly, macho, stocky, strong (effeminate, queer, weak, timid)
Which line do your adjectives fit into? The top line usually describes women, while the second line usually describes men (and the parenthesis are generally insult-words). See any overlap? Comparing men to women is often an insult “you throw like a girl,” while for a woman to be compared to a man is usually a complement “strong like your brother.”
Quick homework, go to Toys-R-Us (or some equivalent) online, and search for toys for kids under 5… there is an option to sort for “girl toys” and “boy toys.” Here’s my test– “girl toys” got this doll in the top 10 results, “boy toys” got this in the top 10 results. Pink baby doll, sports car, socially constructed gender.
You see your friend’s young kid for the first time, what do you say? “Jane, your dress is so pretty!” or “Mark, you’re so tall!”– would you ever tell a boy that he was “pretty”?
Right there, you answered no. There is no escape from social constructions of gender. We are all victims of the society we are born into. But, we must all work to end these stereotypes of gender– the manly man and the girly girl. Girls can do anything boys can do. Boys can do anything girls can do. We should never limit our children to dolls and pretend kitchens, or trucks and cars. We should never tell a little boy “you can’t paint your toenails, that’s only for girls” or tell a little girl “you can’t play with trucks, that’s only for boys.” Just like we should never tell girls that they couldn’t be things like doctors, astronauts, truck drivers, breadwinners, or the president; and how we should never tell boys that they can’t cry, become a dancer, or be stay at home parent. Think before you speak and before you buy.
The link will take you to HuffPost’s video of a Fox news interview with a well-respected journalist Liz Trotta. She tells her viewers that Feminists are the reason there is so much rape in the military, and that they are also the reason that there are so many useless jobs such as advocates for sexual victims, and counselors. She believes that women can should only expect to encounter more violent sexual attacks as they move closer and closer to attaining equality with men in the military. Except she doesn’t use the word equality, of course. She also claims that women “are now being raped too much”– too much? This leads me to believe that your statement also says that “being raped a little is okay.” Did you really mean that? Do you honestly mean that women who choose to serve their country and aim to be the best soldiers they can expect to “be raped a little”? Whats the difference between a little and too much? Clearly your privileged bubble needs to be burst, and soon, before you contaminate any more minds and bring women back in time from all of their accomplishments.
I just got back from watching “Miss Representation” which was absolutely incredible. Sometimes it takes being slapped in the face before we realize what we’re absorbing into our minds, both consciously and subconsciously. I’ve attached the Trailer.
“Miss Representation brings together some of America’s most influential women in politics, news and entertainment, including Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem to give audiences an inside look at the media’s message and depiction of women. The film explores women’s under-representation in positions of power by challenging their limited and often disparaging portrayals in the media. Miss Representation takes the stand that the media is portraying women’s primary values as their youth, beauty and sexuality – rather than their capacity as leaders.”
When was the last time you watched a movie where the star was a woman?
And she wasn’t hunting down a man to marry?
Or Laura Croft, taking charge of the world as a badass go-get-um woman wearing not enough clothes?
You’re not sure, are you?
Watch the commercials during the next TV show you have on. What are women wearing? How are they acting? What are men wearing? Why are the vast majority of women on our televisions sexualized? Even if you’re monitoring what your kids watch on TV, how can you escape commercials? And what subconscious messages are your kids receiving through the shows they watch– are men smarter? funnier? more attractive? make more money?
Can you think of a show on TV where the woman is smarter, funnier, more attractive, or makes more money? AND, they aren’t stereotyping her or making fun of her in some other way?
Open a magazine, and how many ads are there featuring stick-skinny women who are un-godly beautiful? These ads don’t come with a disclaimer “after five hours of makeup and hair, we did some professional photo-shopping!” We’re telling girls and women that they should be this pretty and this anorexicly skinny. We’re also telling men that this is what they should look for in women. Don’t forget, the anorexic girl has great boobs, thanks to photo-shop, of course.
And lets think back to the 2008 election. Compare Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton– the obsession with her clothes, size, and appearance far outweighed what she said. Sarah Palin is a raving lunatic. But many people were so obsessed with her appearance as well that they couldn’t get to the part where she opened her mouth and said dumb things. Our culture is obsessed with a woman’s image and appearance to the point where she can only be taken as an object and not even considered as an equal person with men.
How could we ever elect a female president when we can’t look beyond her makeup and clothes? How can we elect women into positions of power on any level? We must learn to look beyond appearances and appreciate women for their intelligence and inner beauty or we will never be taken seriously by anyone in our lives. If we can’t look beyond what the media has helped put into our heads, politics will remain a realm dominated by old white men, and the hard work of the previous feminist generations will regress. Personally, I’d like to have Title IX stick around, equal pay for equal work, no regression on maternity leave policies, and the right to make decisions about my uterus that aren’t controlled by the government.
Watch the trailer, watch the film, reassess your life priorities and what makes you attractive, and tell your family and friends. The women of America cannot regress, we must move forward, and we cannot let others dictate what is important to us. Toddlers and Tiaras, Jersey Shore, go to hell.