Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Girl Effect

Go to The Girl Effect website, and just look around. You will probably end up downloading half the site's contents, as I am doing right now.

How Does Geena Davis Rock? Let me tell you...

Other than being an award winning actress, a model, and almost an Olympian, Geena Davis is a feminist and gender-discrimination activist.

She founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media after noticing that... hey, there aren't that many female characters or significant female characters in media for children. The GDIGM is a rockin' idea, and other than research, they have the "See Jane" program, which
SEE JANE is a program of the Institute that utilizes research, education and advocacy to engage the entertainment industry and recognize the need for gender balance and varied portrayals of females and male characters into movies, TV, and other media aimed at children 11 and under. We work cooperatively and collaboratively with entertainment creators to encourage them to be leaders in creating positive change.
So... yeah. That's why Geena Davis rocks. Because it is one thing to watch movies and think to yourself, "Wow, women and girls are not represented in the media," and another thing to raise awareness, get the facts, and do something about it.

Check this video of Geena Davis and Soledad O'Brien speaking at the Social Good Summit.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Barbie Commercials and Gender through the Decades

Barbie isn't a brand particularly known for it's commitment to feminism, but it's interesting to look at how Barbie (a physical objectification of women) has changed through the decades and how that reflects attitudes about gender.

This demure commercial features Barbie in a wedding dress, a beach dress, a conservative nightgown, some city-wear, an evening gown (with cigarette holder! that's how you know it's the 50's!), some party dresses, and a swim suit. The song ends with a close-up on Bride-Barbie and the lyrics are, "Some day I'm gonna be/ exactly like you!/ Til then I know just what I'll do/ Barbie, beautiful Barbie/ I'll make believe that I am you!" So clearly, the fantasy constructed for little girls in the 50s is that you can have a lot of pretty dresses, but the best thing is to someday be a bride. And ergo... wife.

In the 60s, it's exciting that Barbie's a little more mobile than before! She can pose! And... pose some more! Did we mention that she can sit?

Superstar Barbie is all about the fashion. They don't even try to get her to be "active" and sit.

Astronaut Barbie! Finally! A profession! But don't worry, she's still stylin' and her space-wear doubles as futuristic club wear. Phew! And finally, in the 80s, we get Barbie's new slogan, "We Girls Can Do Anything!" ... as long as you're wearing the right outfit, of course.

Ah, Super Talk Barbie. She has SUCH good ideas. Malls, sleepovers.... tell me where she's applying to college! Oh, she's not? She's just going to go to the mall every day in hopes of running into Ken? Well, that's a good idea too.


Love her or hate her, Barbie is a pretty interesting cultural icon. Impossible beauty standards, changing careers, fashion flip-flopping... Each decade's dolls are a good litmus test for how gender stereotypes posited women. The range of careers Barbie had in each decade is another telling sign of the social progress of women. I remember I had a veterinarian Barbie in the 90s (oh, yeah, I was big into Barbie) and I think my sister had a pediatrician Barbie (note that Barbie was a pediatrician. A doctor, but a much more feminine version of one).

And I've got to say, I still love Life Size, a TV movie about an Eve Doll (kinda like Barbie, but without the trademarks) who comes to life and learns how to be a full person, and not just a doll. It has a surprisingly feminist message. And Tyra Banks is perfect for the role of Eve. (And it's when Lindsay Lohan was still young and cute!) If you haven't seen it, search it out immediately! I'm pretty sure the whole thing is on youtube.

Another Instance of Scape-goating Feminism...

This article from the UK Daily Mail by Rose Prince claims, basically, that the reason that there is a growing obesity problem is that feminism took women out of the kitchen and replaced their loving and healthy prepared meals with unhealthy fast food.

When the feminist voices of the Sixties made home cooking into a symbol of drudgery, they no doubt had the best intentions. Equality in the workplace was a noble cause and a degree of sexual revolution was necessary.Domestic cooking was chucked aside as an irrelevance, an icon of unfairness to women — which allowed a very eager food industry to leap forward with the convenience-food solution.Yes, it’s feminism we have to thank for the spread of fast-food chains and an epidemic of childhood obesity.

Okay, so this article is obviously ... crazy. There's a great response at the Guardian UK that deconstructs Prince's article pretty well, which I am thankful for, as reading Prince's article nearly caused me a heart attack. Prince is among a traditionalist camp of women who believe that women are naturally more nurturing, thus must be the primary providers of domestic care for their families. Quite frankly, I don't know a lot about the psychology of nurturing in men vs. women, but I do know that it is incredibly sexist to assume that men can't be nurturing, caring, good cooks, and involved in domestic work. Many times, the finger is pointed at feminists for "destroying" this or that, when really what we should be looking at is how sexism is harming our ability to progress as humans.

So what's Rose Prince's problem? Well, first of all, she doesn't have any evidence to back up her claims. Food is a lot unhealthier than it was 30 or 40 or 50 years ago. The world is also just a lot more expensive. Most families cannot afford to have one spouse stay home and do domestic work full-time. And even when both spouses work full time, women often end up doing more domestic work.

This graph shows how even among men and women in "elevated" professional positions, there is hardly equality among domestic work.

And although this graph shows that women are spending more time doing paid work as opposed to domestic work, and that the amount of unpaid domestic work (housework, chores) that men are doing has increased, domestic work is still disproportionally completed by women.

One of Prince's points in the article is particularly telling about how she perceives feminism and the roles of women:

It’s important to remember that women can embrace cookery without betraying their cause. Being a feminist does not mean dropping femininity.
Both of these sentences are absolutely true. Feminists are absolutely mothers, they are absolutely women who can cook well, and they are absolutely women who ascribe to traditional gender roles. These women are JUST AS MUCH feminists as the feminists who can barely boil water, who don't plan on having children, and reject traditional gender roles. Prince is confused, which is not that hard to understand considering the depictions of feminism and feminists that are out there. Prince should have researched her article better. While obesity and lack of healthy food options is a problem, it is not the fault of feminism. It is the fault of fast food, large portions, less exercise, a culture of excess, cost of organic food, availability of healthy food in low-income areas... Instead of trying to blame women for abandoning their roles as personal chefs in favor of earning money, we should be trying to make healthy food more affordable and helping educate people on how to make healthy food choices. It seems like a no-brainer.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kick -Ass

So, I'm a little late on this one, but I just watched Kick-Ass. And I have to say, it was kick-ass.

I'm a big fan of superhero movies, and it's kind of unfortunate that there aren't a ton of female superheroes or movies about them. At best, there are sometimes minor female superheroes who are there to enhance plot and stuff, or are actually badazz gurrls, but take 2nd star to the male superheroes. Kick-Ass does not really break any of these tropes. It doesn't pass the Bechdel test. However, what it does have is Hit Girl.

I remember when this movie came out there was a sort of to-do about Chole Moretz's age (12), the language (I'm going to estimate that she swears more than any other character), and the violence (she initiates a lot of it). I wasn't all that sure if I was going to like the movie, but when in Ecuador, and bootleg DVDs are only $1.50, I figured I'd watch it.

Hit Girl's character I liked a lot. In an entertainment world filled with crime shows featuring women as helpless victims (or dead) [*side note: there are lots of crime shows that feature some kickass female characters, The Closer, Bones, and Law & Order SVU come to mind, but the fact is that the kinds of stories that these shows feature usually involve the use of women and girls who have been exploited, raped, murdered.... etc.], I always find it refreshing when there are truly strong female characters tackling the problems instead of reporting them. Hit Girl is one such character. At 12, she has the cool professionalism of a vigilante/superhero that Kick-Ass, a bumbling high school student with a good heart, lacks. His incompetence and inexperience is highlighted as Hit Girl takes on multiple bad guys, and literally destroys them. No, really, there's a lot of violence in this movie.

I don't think the solution to the problem of women in the media being constantly portrayed as victims and potential victims is to empower all middle schoolers into being killing machines. But I do appreciate this little nub of diversity in the ass-kicking business that is superheroism. And while Kick-Ass is definitely not a movie for girls Chloe's age, I like that there is this empowerment of young girls in the media. I mean, there are not many people more stereotypically vulnerable than young girls. I watched a lot of TV as a child (part of the reason I'm such a pop culture buff now) and remember that there were not a lot of options for female superheroes, especially young ones, while there were an abundance of shows aimed at "general audiences" (boy-helmed shows that TV networks knew girls would watch as well) with only or majority boy/male superheroes. In any case, I'm hoping that having this depiction of a strong, intelligent, young girl will usher in new era of portrayals of girls. If studios can recognize the popularity of Hit Girl, there's going to be a trickle down of more characters like her for wider audiences. (Know how Twilight started this vampire craze? Yeah, it all trickled down and you can't flip a channel without seeing something about sentimental vampires. Hollywood is not a place of originality. When something original comes along, it gets copied until no one likes it anymore.)

In response to criticism towards Hit-Girl's character, Chloe Moretz stated in an interview, "If I ever uttered one word that I said in Kick-Ass, I would be grounded for years! I'd be stuck in my room until I was 20! I would never in a million years say that. I'm an average, everyday girl." Moretz has said that while filming, she could not bring herself to say the film's title out loud in interviews, instead calling it "the film" in public and "Kick-Butt" at home.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Language and sexism

In Spanish, all nouns are gendered. Sometimes this is kind of random. For example, table is feminine. Hairdryer is masculine. Water is masculine, but plural water is feminine. You could spend a lot of time trying to analyze the gender of words without probably getting anywhere. However, there are some instances when the sexism of language is clear. After Dana and I gave our class a powerpoint presentation on Sexism last week (there are a bunch of topics we could choose from, I of course, volunteered for that one), Evelyn showed us these words:

(an ending in -o means it is a masculine word, an ending in -a means it is a feminine word)

Zorro = hero
Zorra= prostitute

Perro = dog, man's best friend
Perra = prostitute

Aventurero = adventurous, daring, bold
Aventurera = prostitute

Ambicioso = visionary, with clear goals
Ambiciosa = prostitute

Cualquier = what's-his-name, so-and-so
Cualquiera = prostitute

Regalado = gift giver
Regalada = prostitute

Callejero = urban
Callejera = prostitute

Hombrezuelo: little guy, pitiful (hombre is the word for "man")
Mujerzuela: prostitute (mujer is the word for "woman")

Hombre público: civil servant
Mujer pública: Prostitute

Hombre de la vida: a man with experience
Mujer de la vida: prostitute

Rápido: intelligent
Rápida: Prostitute

Dios: God, creator of the world
Diosa: Goddess, mythological being now obsolete

Héroe: idol, hero
Heroina: drug

Atrevido: brave, valiant
Atrevida: insolent, badly educated

Soltero: In-demand, intelligent, able
Soltera: old-maid

Suegro: Political figure
Suegra: witch

Machista: macho man
Feminista: lesbian

Don Juan: lady-conqueror
Don Juana: Domestic worker

So... it's pretty clear that there's some lexical sexism* going on here. It is also taught that we are supposed to use the male identifiers when talking about a group, even if the group includes one guy. For instance, if I were talking about something that all of the girls in my group did, I would say, "nosotras" (we), but if Zach were included, I'd have to say, "nosotros." I read Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldúa freshman year (I highly recommend it!! One of my favorite books!!) , which is her account of being Chicana and navigating multiple identities, and I remember reading about her shock at learning there was even such a term as nosotras. Really? At that point I'd only been taking Spanish for 5 years, and I knew about it, even though I didn't use it very often. (I try and use it as often as I can now, and have noticed that not many people use it at all...) This interesting article (in English!) goes more in-depth about this issue, and offers some suggestions on how to make Spanish more gender-neutral.

(In this comic the teacher tells the children, "All of you [masculine] go to recess!" and the girls are thinking, "And us [feminine]?"

I'm interested in learning more about this, and being in Ecuador will definitely make this a little easier. But... it's important to remember that English has some lexically sexist terms as well. "Mankind" to refer to all people (men and women), "women," etc. Not to mention the imbalance of negative words to describe sexuality for women and men (more negative words for female sexuality, barely any for male sexuality). This article goes more in-depth about English lexical sexism. I would definitely be interested in knowing about how other languages navigate gender and gendered words, but alas... I'm only bilingual. (Well, at this point, 1.5-lingual. Getting to bilingual.) Another time, another set of google searches perhaps.

Anyway... that's my bit for tonight. Think about that!

(This sign translates to: "I'm a whore. I'm black. I'm gay. I'm Arab. I'm South American [derogatory term]. I'm a woman. The different one is you. Imbecile.")

*Lexical means vocabulary usage


So, I missed this series this summer, as I was off taking care of children in the woods, but when I got back, my friend Carol and I got together for lunch and among the things we talked about, she recommended this series to me.

"Elizabeth, it's SO good. And totally feminist!" (Carol had also told me that she took a summer women's studies course and now called herself a feminist. Holla!)

I was intrigued of course. Now I'm about half way through the series (there are only 10 episodes) and I love it so far. The Bitch Magazine online blogs often cover issues of fat acceptance which I've been reading off and on as I check the blogs, and the non-existence or lame-existence of representations of fat people in pop culture is really a problem. Enter "Huge."

After I read an interview with show writer Savannah Dooley on Jezebel, I was convinced. I had to at least check out an episode or two.

I'm always a little skeptical of ABC Family shows (see craziness of "Secret Life of the American Teenager"), but my love affair with "Greek" has taught me that ABC family is capable of being edgy and interesting. And fortunately, "Huge" is really good. The characters are all pretty developed and all get to have their time on screen, which I loooove. I love ensemble casts. Each character has their own issues with their body and self esteem, and the show deals with all of that in a really healthy way. I mean, it's not a show about losing weight, it's a show about a bunch of teenagers dealing with their lives, self-esteem, body issues, popularity, friendships, and relationships... set at fat camp.

Fatness is not something to be ashamed of. Neither are the fat characters the shy best friend, or the sassy best friend (as fat characters on TV often are). They're the main characters. The skinny characters are the ones in the background, and as the show goes on, it's revealed that some of the staff at Camp Victory were once campers, and overweight, themselves. So it's definitely interesting to have this show where fat characters are the majority, and as Dooley says in her interview, not on a reality show trying to lose weight.

Side note: I also appreciate that the camp-life aspect is pretty realistic. As a camp counselor, I cannot watch movies/shows about summer camps without criticizing them for realism (and thinking about ACA standards... Camp Rock would NOT pass), and "Huge" is great for all of that. Although it's a weight-loss camp for high schoolers, there are certain similarities that I recognize between my experiences at Camp and in the show and I'm really glad that the writer not only was a camp-person, but also probably did a lot of research to make this show really high quality.

It's definitely a dramedy, but each episode does feature these really great and compelling triumphant moments, which are sometimes very personal victories for individual campers. I'm really excited to see how the rest of the season pans out, and I am hoping that it comes back for a second season (!!) because this is just one of those shows that is high quality all around.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What do you think?

So I've been a pretty avid Bo Burnham fan for awhile (since he first started posting odd raps recorded in his bedroom in high school) and was excited that he's finally come out with some new stuff.

I like Bo and I think he does a good job integrating shock comedy into really cleverly delivered lines. And definitely his hawkwardness (hot-awkwardness) is a plus. So... what do you think of this song?

In addition to a bunch of what have become pretty standard racy/shocking lines for him ("i gotta dick full of helium, i'll fuck you up."), he has a few lines in here about fucking girls, which is not new either for his lyrics. For those of you who don't stalk Bo like I do... he has a girlfriend and has been dating her since high school (she's pretty, I've looked at his profile pictures on facebook...). So why the lines about having sex with other women? This I'm going to defend: his lyrics are pretty clearly satiric. All of his songs are over-the-top ridiculous; either obscene puns, stories about his awkwardness, and just a lot of really funny crap about pop culture. The fact that Bo's this awkward white guy rapping in his bedroom is part of the joke. And ... I do think he's a feminist.

The last verse of "Words, Words, Words" is:
bitches and hoes, bo's hoes, oh, bitches and hoes, bitches, hoes.
bitches and hoes don't exist because the hoes know bo's a feminist,
bitches and hoes don't exist because the hoes know bo's a feminist
so take off your bras and burn em or you can let me burn em
take off your bras and burn em, or you can let bo burnham burn em.

While I don't like the words bitches and hos, I do appreciate their comedic value. And I appreciate that Bo puts it out there that he's a feminist, when there are so many people who are, and shy away from the word. So... do you guys like the irony? Or are you offended? I for one... like it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Time for Some Movies: Part I

Having a hard time finding movies that pass the Bechdel test? (And not just barely pass?) Here are some of my favorites:

Clueless (1995)- So I hope you're not thinking, "Ugh, what a whole lot of stereotypes!" Clueless was, in fact, the first time that Hollywood realized that teenage girls were a market of their own. Previously, it was thought (and still generally is thought) that girls will go see boy-helmed movies, but boys will not go see girl-helmed movies. Maybe so, but girls will go see girl-movies, and a LOT of them will go. Clueless (a 90's update of Jane Austen's Emma) was the beginning of The Chick Flick (love it or hate it... it began an empire). Here are girls, smart girls, NOT settling, being friends with each other, and satirizing 90s teen life. I love this movie, and hopefully y'all do too, because it's the greatest.

A League of Their Own (1992) - During WWII, all the men folk went off to war, and ladies were recruited to fill up the work force. Ladies were also recruited to play BASEBALL. This one is a classic ("There's no crying in baseball!") and is based on real lady baseball players. Oh, it's got a kickass cast too.

North Country (2005)- Based on the first successful class-action lawsuit against sexual harassment, this movie follows the Josey Aimes' experiences working as a miner (a job that had only been recently opened up to women) and filing for sexual harassment. This one always tends to make me cry... but it's really good.

Mean Girls (2004)- Written by the prolific Tina Fey, this movie hilariously satirizes the problems with girl-culture.

Bend it Like Beckham (2002)- All Jess wants to do is play soccer, but all her mother wants is to turn her into a proper Indian bride. This movie hilariously portrays uprooted cultures, strong female friendships, and kicking butt on the soccer field. Oh, also, it's British. Hooray accents!

Shut Up and Sing (2006)- Okay, so this is a documentary, but it's about the Dixie Chicks (who kick ass) and their struggle with the American media after lead singer Natalie Maines made comments critical of the Bush administration. This movie shows them standing up to the critics who told them to just "shut up and sing" and coming out stronger, more vocal, and with a shit-ton of Grammys.

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)- Based on the book of the same name, FGT is the story of female empowerment, and one woman's look back on her lesbian romance. The movie is full of strong female characters, but did get flack from fans of the book for taking out the specificity of the lesbian relationship. However, it's still a good movie.

Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)- Warning: this movie may cause you to have an obsession with Loretta Lynn. (Did you know that LL was the first person to write a song about birth control?) Out of unlikely circumstances, Loretta Lynn rose to be the biggest name in country music at a time that it was almost completely male-dominated (this is basically still true.) She wrote songs about her experiences being a strong, independent woman, and was successful because of it. Oh, also, she was BFFs with Patsy Cline. And props to Sissy Spacek--who sings everything in the movie perfectly.

First Wives Club (1996)- A movie about three best friends who reunite out of tragedy and discover how to improve their lives and self-esteem. This movie satirizes the trend among rich men to "upgrade" wives after they've reached success.

The Joy Luck Club (1993) Based on the book of the same name (which is amazing, by the way), the Joy Luck Club is about 4 mother-daughter relationships, the complexities of being a second-generation immigrant, and learning about family members to be a better person.

More to come soon!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Turkey Fights Domestic Abuse

Here's an interesting article about one city in Turkey's initiative to empower women.

Basically, this city has come up with a program in which men's salaries are halved and given directly to their wives if they engage in domestic violence. This gives women more economic power, as well as possible means to escape an abusive marriage. If a man abuses again, he could get fired.

The city has also started a program that gives bonuses to employees who send their daughters to college.

Many studies have shown that empowering women in developing nations has improved quality of life for men and women, reduced terrorism, and reduced crime. Half the Sky gives some really good accounts to what the power of education and autonomy really mean for women worldwide. And domestic abuse is a problem for all cultures, countries, and economic classes. (Find out more at Stop Violence Against Women) I'm interested to see how this program in Turkey is going to work out. This is certainly something that I think will help, but violence against women is a deeper social problem that needs to be addressed at a more fundamental level. When women's lives are devalued through domestic abuse, it points to societal issues concerning the treatment of women.

Ecuador has launched a campaign against el machismo, a huge problem here. For this, they have released several very well-made videos, as well as put up some disturbing statistics on billboards. For example, "21% of boys and girls in Ecuador have been sexually abused." Or, "8 out of 10 women have suffered physical, psychological, or sexual abuse." I mean, these are some serious statistics. While I only know a little about the Reacciona Ecuador campaign, it seems like it's doing a really good job at calling out the deeply embedded societal problems that are harming women and families. I don't know how effective it has been, but I am glad that it is being addressed.

And, not to put the spotlight on other countries, domestic violence is a huge problem in the United States as well. Here are some facts:

-There are more animal shelters than shelters for battered women.

-A woman is beaten by her husband/partner every 15 seconds.

-Domestic abuse is the leading cause of injuries among women between the ages of 15 and 44.

-One in four women will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime. (How many women do you know?)

-85% of domestic abuse victims are women

-A women is more likely to get a faster response from the police if her attacker is a stranger (as opposed to someone she knows)

-One in ten calls made to the police about domestic violence is made by a child

For more facts, see this link.

Since domestic abuse is such a global problem, here are some helpful links:

V-Day: a Global movement to end violence against women and girls.

Equality Now: an organization committed to ending violence against women and girls worldwide.

Domestic a website of resources about domestic abuse

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

TV Ladies

Check this clip at the Today Show to preview women kicking ass on TV.

I'm not going to be able to watch the US fall TV line up, but I'm curious to see how these shows play out, and Imma be hulu-ing this stuff when I get back to the states.

What do you think of these shows? Do you wish that there were strong, powerful female characters outside of action shows? (Do you wish that some of them were not blonde?) What are the characteristics you value the most in TV characters?

Anti-Progress, Anti-American

Sigh. It is difficult to watch such ignorance, but I think it's important to make a few points clear. I'm going to be going in order of the video (New Left Media videos are GREAT, and I suggest subscribing on youtube. )

(PS: I'm a little horrified that I have a shirt very similar to the one that the woman at 00:30 is wearing, but I'm also glad that I wear it ironically... )

"Taking Back America": Okay, so this in conservo-speak basically means = traditional values, Christianity, and social conservativism. None of the people in this video were really able to pinpoint a specific way that America has been tragically abducted, but this is because these people have such deep seated politically-incorrect beliefs, that they are not even sure how to express them. Racism and bigotry are so deeply embedded in their ideology, that they can't even recognize that what they are saying is colored with discrimination, anti-progress, and ignorance. I don't want to say that they are stupid people, because I believe that they are not inherently stupider than most people. (By and large.) However, I think this goes to show how ignorance and bigotry can infiltrate a person and make them open to all these ridiculous, unfounded, and backwards ideas while they are completely closed off to what the rest of us know is the truth.

"We're #1!": It only takes a few simple google searches to see how America pales in comparison to much of the rest of the world. This is not a trend that is new with the Obama administration, but quality of life in America has been declining since the mid-20th century. Countries with social democratic governments/governmental programs (France, Sweden, Norway...) have higher qualities of life than the United States. Yes, it is social democracy, cousin of socialism that is propelling these countries into being the best. People in America are ignorant of what socialism is, and we're paying for that ignorance. (Um... check it, we have public schools and socialized roads... I believe socialism has been in the US for awhile.) In the video, America is spoken of as the "last bastion of hope." What? I'm pretty sure there are several more countries that are incredibly similar to the US... and also better.

Racism: The rally-goers speak of Obama dividing the nation. I just... I can't. I have really no response to that that does turn into me angry-babbling. Obama is no Superman, but he's really not a bad President. There are lots of critiques to be said, but as for him "dividing the nation," it is only felt by the people who are looking to create divisions. One of the women in the video says that it's not disrespectful to hold the rally on the anniversary of MLK Jr's "I have a Dream" speech because the blacks don't own MLK, as the caucasians don't own George Washington. That sounds like some pretty divisive language to me. It seems that ethnicity and heritage are only dividing factors when they are visible (nowadays). Which unfortunately for Obama, means that the people in this country who believe him to be racist against white people are overlooking the fact that he is half-white. They are associating skin color with terror--and choosing to remain ignorant. George W. Bush is (if I am correct) English, French, and German, but you didn't see Americans of those heritages trying to claim that he was an English President or conversely, there were not people claiming that he was preferential to Americans of French-heritage. (In fact, the usual complaint was that he didn't care about non-whites.) Furthermore, the claims about Islam (toward the end of the video) are just plain racist and ignorant. There's no way around it. There are more Muslims in the world than there are Americans, and the majority of Muslims don't go around blowing things up. Muslims are not terrorists. Some terrorists are Muslims. And some terrorists are American. And if it weren't clear to you, accusing Obama of not being an American citizen is racist. And this is sadly something that a lot of people believe because they are too blinded by their bigotry to get past the fact that yes, there are people in the US who are not white, and yes, they are as legitimately citizens as they are.

Oh, and by the way, Glen Beck DID call Barack Obama a racist.

Questioning Obama's Intentions: Why the HELL would someone run for President and not like America? Really, that baffles me.

These people hate Muslims: They are racists.

Hatred for immigrants: Alright, this is a complicated issue, but really? Dude who says he knows what the Native Americans felt-- no you don't, you fucking racist. Immigration should be a better, more inclusive process. And for the people who "hate" undocumented workers, stop buying cheap produce! I think we should have working wages for everyone, not practical slave labor at the hands of incredibly vulnerable people! (Undocumented workers.) If you are continuing to buy grapes and vegetables and whatever produce at a really low price (as one example of one of the ways undocumented workers make our spending lives cheaper and easier) you're contributing to bringing them here. That's it. The history of immigration in the US is a long, and not happy story, and it was not so easy for the majority of immigrants. "Anchor babies" are a myth, these people are uninformed, and racist.

All in all, these people, who do have some scarily legitimate political power because of their sheer numbers, are regurgitating half-formed half-truths (and lots of full-lies) that they get from not really legitimate news sources.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Not again...

My friend Beth has alerted me to this gem on Sociological Images (a great website) about a new show called, The Nerd Girls. It appears that The Nerd Girls is about a bunch of hot engineers who make things and fix things and wear stilettos. Excuse me if I don't find this show empowering.

The show website states that the Nerd Girls' mission is "We want to encourage other girls to change their world through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, while embracing their feminine power."

... What? I would have no problem with that sentence if it ended at "Engineering and Math." I think we should be focusing on getting girls into science and math, not telling them, "Oh, but if you want to do any of these things you should be hot as well, lest you come off as a freak."

this is Eunice from She's the Man (2006), a typical pop-culture nerd

I think we should be encouraging girls to be smart. (I think we should be encouraging everyone to be smart.) But bringing in all this talk about "hotness" and "femininity" is going to confuse people. Is being smart not inherently feminine? Is it a bad thing to be smart and not feminine?

Feminizing "nerds" ("nerd girls") and "brains" ("she-brains") only creates MORE stereotypes, which the website says that it's trying to get rid of... Before this show I was pretty certain that "nerd" was a gender neutral term. We should be encouraging girls to get into math and science and be themselves, not stereotypes, whether it's "nerd" or "hottie."

Anyway, I'm a little bit happy that it's at least not another reality show about girls flashing people and being drunk, but really... it's just a poorly thought-out show.

And I will leave you with something better: