Sunday, January 24, 2010

Boo Hiss: Scott Brown

The election of Republican Scott Brown to the Massachusetts senator position has brought up a lot of political controversy, including reviving a discussion of the double standards for men and women in politics.
Scott Brown posed nude for Cosmo in 1982, and went on to have a successful career like any other politician. However, had a woman posed for a men's magazine nude (or even scantily clad), and gone on to try to have a career similar to Brown's (in politics, under public scrutiny, in the public eye), she would have had a much harder time getting elected to anything, because the opposition would have plastered her naked image across the news and said something to the effect of, "Candidate X is a slut. Don't vote for a slut."

Read the NY Daily News article about this here.

Women (AND MEN) have got to confront the sexual double standards that are harming society. Just because a woman poses nude does not mean that she is a slut, although society is likely to label her as thus. She is much more likely to be treated as a sexual object than a man who does the same thing. I don't think there's anything wrong with Scott Brown posing nude in 1982. What is wrong, is that his treatment as a man is unequal to women who do the same thing. Women are taught to be threatened by the sexual value of other women, and then will tear other women down when they act "promiscuously" (which can be a a wide range of behaviors.) As women, we need to stop holding the sexual double standards to ourselves. Why are men allowed to have all the fun?

The book Slut: Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation by Leora Tanenbaum lists positive and negative expressions for sexually active men and women.
There are 12 positive expressions listed for men, and 2 for women ("hot" and "sexy.")
There are 3 negative expressions listed for men, and 28 listed for women (which, for the most part, do not include most of the current slang adjectives for women that I've heard). Why is female sexuality so threatening? Is it actually a threat, or only because it can be used as control over women?

What do you think?

(I recommend Slut to anyone who has ever used or been called the word "slut." It's an interesting commentary on American culture, especially on how girls treat one another.)




Girl Power Music Part II

Want more?


32 Flavors- Ani Difranco
I am Not My Hair- India Arie
Fighter-Christina Aguilera
Girls Just Want to Have Fun- Cyndi Lauper
Ready to Run- Dixie Chicks
Knock 'Em Out- Lily Allen
Missfit- Amy Studt
She's Got a Girlfriend Now- Reel Big Fish
Respect- Aretha Franklin

Modern Girl- Sleater-Kinney
Edge of Seventeen- Stevie Nicks
I'm the Only One- Melissa Etheridge
A Woman's Worth-Alicia Keys
Your Friend- Save Ferris
Big Yellow Taxi-Joni Mitchell
Ordinary Day- Dolores O'Riordan (of the Cranberries)

She Used to Wanna be a Ballerina- Buffy Sainte-Marie
We Got the Beat- the Go Go's
I Will Survive- Gloria Gaynor

Supermodel
- Jill Sobule
Glamorous Life-Sheila E.
Just a Little Girl- Amy Studt
Unwritten-Natasha Bedingfield
Wrath of my Madness- Queen Latifah
Not a Pretty Girl - Ani Difranco


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Media Awareness: Dove

Dove has done a commendable thing in the past couple years: they have turned their advertising into something ... real looking. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty features women of different ethnicities, older women, and "average" sized women in advertisements that celebrate the beauty of how they look now, not how Dove says they should look. As part, they have released several short films(/advertisements) about the importance of self-esteem and the harmful effects of the beauty industry.
Notably, Dove released these short films, "Evolution" and "Onslaught."


Kind of interesting, right? Dove makes a good point. What is "real" beauty anyway? You certainly can't trust what you see in the media.

But if you go a little further with that last statement (You certainly can't trust what you see in the media), can you trust Dove?

Although I do like the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty for the unconventional and slightly more truthful advertising they have put out recently, I (and others who own televisions and have access to the internet and all the joys of American advertising) have to realize, that it is an ad campaign.

Andi Zeisler writes, "...[W]omen who supported the idea of including meatier women in beauty ads chafed at the fact that Dove's chipper ladies were marketing firming creams and lotions. Others noted that it was difficult to get behind the ads knowing that Dove's parent company (the global brand Unilever) also owned Axe body spray, a product known for its relentlessly sexist ads."

One intrepid youtuber remade "Onslaught," but instead of the milisecond clips used in Dove's version, used clips from Axe body spray commercials.

The content of the clips is similar to the original, except, this time, is critical of Unilever. How can a company espouse feminist values in one ad campaign and contradict them by degrading women in another? It is an insult to the customers who agree with the Campaign for Real Beauty for Unilever to expect them not to know about Dove's connection to (sexist) Axe. Unilever expects consumers to passively take in the information they put out, whatever message it may send.
(Greenpeace made a video based on "Onslaught" about Dove's deforestation practices in order to get palm oil. This video and Greenpeace's campaign were successful in getting Unilever to listen and change up some of their environmentally harmful practices.)

Lesson: Question the media. Question what you are seeing. Pop culture and the media do not have to have the final word. Zeisler says, "It's imperative that feminists continue to analyze [pop culture], create it, critique it--and ultimately, make it better."


Want to learn more? Feminism and Pop Culture by Andi Zeisler offers a great overview of the last century of advertising from a feminist perspective. It's interesting and easy to read, and you'll learn a lot about what you're seeing when you turn on the TV.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Girl Power Music

Sick and tired of listening to the same old love songs? Here are some songs about celebrating who you are!

I Don't Need You To (Tell me I'm Pretty) - Samantha Mumba
Unpretty- TLC
I am Woman- Helen Reddy
We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off- Clea
Shadows of the Night- Pat Benatar
I Kissed a Girl- Jill Sobule
One Girl Revolution- Superchick
Tyrone- Erykah Badu
Stupid Girls- P!nk
Bad Reputation- Joan Jett
L.A. Song- Beth Hart
Ladies First- Queen Latifah & Monie Love
Wide Open Spaces- Dixie Chicks
Endangered Species- Dianne Reeves
Just a Girl- No Doubt

Power of Two- Indigo Girls
Single- Natasha Bedingfield
Dumb Blonde- Dolly Parton
It's Not Right But it's Okay- Whitney Houston
I Don't Need a Man- Pussycat Dolls
I Do Not Hook Up- Kelly Clarkson
Fifteen- Taylor Swift
You Don't Own Me- Lesley Gore
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?- the Shirelles
I'm Every Woman-Chaka Khan
This One's for the Girls- Martina McBride
Sisters Are Doin' it for Themselves- Aretha Franklin & the Eurythmics
Free to Decide- The Cranberries
The Pill-Loretta Lynn
Stronger- Britney Spears
Free Your Mind- En Vogue
Let's Talk about Sex- Salt-N-Pepa
La La Land- Demi Lovato

Who You Callin' a Bitch? : Deconstructing Sexist Language



“What up, ho?”

I hear this question fairly often. Fifteen years ago, this might have been said by a gangsta rapper, but now, I mostly hear this kind of language from girls.
“Bitch,” “ho,” “whore,” and “slut” (etc.) have all made their way into teenage vernacular. Friends call each other names; it’s all a part of joking.

Let me say: I am
not against a well-placed insult for the type of comedic gold that is either ironic or that kind of funny that catches you off-guard and is hilarious. (Earlier this year, I was leaving my apartment and as I was opening the door to leave, my roommate asked me where I was going. “Oh, out,” I said. “I have to go.” She then immediately said, “Oh. You gotta go. You GOTTA go. You always gotta go. You’re a gotta-go-ho,” which cracked us both up.)

But my problem with “reclaiming” formerly offensive language is that it doesn’t clearly define what’s okay and what’s not. A girl can get called a “ho” by her friend, but if a strange guy on the street says that to her she would be offended. The issue with reclaiming language is that you can’t truly reclaim it.

“You all have
got to stop calling each other sluts and whores! It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.”
-Tina Fey, “Mean Girls”

If a pirate stole your treasure chest and you stole it back, you reclaimed it. It’s yours. The other person has no part of it, it’s an object that belongs to you and then is controlled by you. You can’t do that with words. And even though you may revel in the irony of a woman saying the word “bitch” (side note: the world “bitch” has a certain ring to it. “Bastard” does not have quite the same pop-effect. “Bastard” is generally reserved for those super dramatic moments in cheesy TV or movies when a couple fights and the music builds up to the final blow—whether it is words or a slap—and the woman says dramatically, “You,
BAStard!”), but the continued use of the word is an unspoken acceptance that the word has power.

It’s tempting and easy when watching a TV show or movie where some female character is wreaking havoc to pass the judgment that, “She is such a
BITCH!

That description generally covers everything from talking behind a friend’s back to going after another girl’s man to murder plotlines.

If the character were male, what word would you use? “Psychopath?” Whatever the situation is for the man, I would bet that 9 times out of 10, the negative word used to describe him would be not be gendered. (Or, in some cases, a female-associated word would be used to add extra insult.)

My challenge to you: Own the words you use. You can’t control what others say, but you can control what you say. Think about when you use gendered insults. Is there a better word? Probably. Try to use that one. You’ll probably describe things more accurately when you get creative and throw bitch/whore/ho/slut out of your repertoire of insults (and maybe even improve your vocabulary).

Also, listen to Queen Latifah.


Feminism is Fashionable


Whether or not you care about what’s in style or what labels you’re wearing, clothes are important. They protect us, keep us warm and dry, and make us feel good. Additionally, clothing can be your way of telling people who you are. Wearing a t-shirt with a funny saying or political slogan right away can tell people a little bit about yourself before you actually say anything. Some clothes are symbols: while blue jeans started as work pants, they have evolved into the symbol of a laid back persona (although, the advent of designer jeans opens up a whole new arena in jeans-speak). Sweaters are associated with comfort and warmth, t-shirts with warm weather and activity, and leather jackets with rebelliousness.

Alison Lurie, author of The Language of Clothes argues that clothing is a silent form of communication similar to spoken language. Different countries and regions have accents, dialects and languages of their own just as clothing differs from area to area. What you choose to wear is then like what you choose to say. “Yet just as with spoken language, such choices usually give us some information, even if it is only equivalent to the statement, ‘I don’t give a damn what I look like today’” (Lurie, 5).

Fashion and feminism have strong connections. “Fashion is of course an almost wholly feminized industry. Apart from a few men at the top… it is and has been a female sphere of production and consumption. For this reason alone fashion is a feminist issue” (McRobbie, 85). The fashion industry is heavily driven by females. We have control! Some of the earliest commercial cosmetic companies, for example, the cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden, were founded and steered into wild success by women (Scott, 136). Cosmetic companies and fashion boutiques hired female sales people while magazines for women were staffed by mostly women. Carmel Snow, the assistant fashion director at Vogue at the beginning of the twentieth century, was similar to Anna Wintour (the current editor-in-chief of American Vogue) in that she was described as “the final authority in all matters of fashion” (Scott, 134).

However, Snow used her influence in ways that Anna Wintour has not: in politics. “Power over the fashionable world was also used to forward the cause of suffrage, causing the fledgling movement to become as au courant as Parisian gowns among the readers of Vogue” (Scott, 134).

Fashion and politics have often gone together. Think of political buttons or t-shirts supporting breast cancer research. Political messages get popularized through fashion. Remember in the 2008 election when lots of people had Obama t-shirts? Clothing can act as powerful means for change because it is such an important part of our lives. It is clear that activism is more successful if it can get into the mainstream of society. Well… that makes sense.

When you get dressed, what are you saying about yourself? Are you wearing clothes to merely clothe yourself, or are you taking advantage of the power of clothing? This isn’t to say that every single t-shirt you own needs to have a positive, political, feminist message, but that if you do own clothing that carries such a message, that you wear it knowing you are part of an activist approach to get people to pay attention.


________________________________
Lurie, Alison. The Language of Clothes. New York, NY: Random House Inc. 1983

McRobbie, Angela. “Bridging the Gap: Feminism, Fashion and Consumption.” Feminist Review 55 (1997) 73-89

Scott, Linda M. Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan. 2005

Your World Without Feminism: Voting


Not sure about how much feminism relates to your life? Let’s take a look at some of the things that wouldn’t exist without feminism.

Without feminism, there would be no…

Right to Vote: Until 1920, it was legal for women to be denied the right to vote because they were women. In the late 1800’s, only four states (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho) allowed women full voting privileges. Several other states allowed women to vote only on specific items; for instance, some states allowed women the vote for school-related issues (this was thought to be okay because women were mothers, and the education of their children was a primary concern of theirs) and some states allowed tax-paying women to vote on tax issues. Many people against women’s right to vote argued that women were not as smart as men and that it would be pointless to let them vote on things they knew nothing about.
But why would women feel the need to educate themselves on issues that they couldn’t vote on?
Of course, some women were very interested in politics and took it upon themselves to educate themselves, but the argument against women’s suffrage relied heavily upon the fact that the institutions in place ensured that women were less educated than men. Susan B. Anthony, ones of the most famous early feminists and suffragettes, was arrested in 1872 (almost fifty years before women were given the right to vote!) for illegally voting in the presidential election. According to her, she had the right to vote because the 14th amendment did not specify gender in its requirements for citizenship. Despite losing in trial, Susan B. Anthony was able to present her case for women’s suffrage to a captive audience. In 1920, the 19th amendment gave all women full voting rights.

You might not be old enough to vote yet, but you can someday! Since my 18th birthday, I’ve voted in 2 elections. Without feminism, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. Reading about women’s suffrage when I was younger was actually what got me into learning more about feminism.

Want to learn more? http://www.winningthevote.org/index.html has lots of information about the movement, biographies of suffragists, and information about related websites, books, and movies about women’s suffrage.
Want to see more? Iron Jawed Angels is a 2004 movie produced by HBO loosely based on the lives and struggles of suffragettes in the crucial years preceding the passage of the 19th amendment.

Your World Without Feminism: Title IX




Not sure about how much feminism relates to your life? Let’s take a look at some of the things that wouldn’t exist without feminism.


Without feminism, there would be no…

Title IX: Passed in 1972, Title IX (Title Nine) ensures gender equality for federally funded educational programs. When most people think of Title IX, they think of sports. Before 1972, it was common and legal for schools to give more money to boys’ sports, and it was common for girls’ sports to not exist. Since the passage of Title IX, more girls have played sports, more girls have gotten sports scholarships (sports scholarships for women were not available prior to Title IX), and more girls have gotten to play more types of sports. However, the fight for equal funding and facilities is an on-going battle for too many current female sports teams.

When I was in 7th and 8th grade, (which was 2003-2004,) I played on the girls’ softball team. The boys’ baseball field was just outside the locker rooms, they always had new uniforms, and their field was always pristine. The softball team had to walk half a mile down the road to our fields, where the dugouts usually smelled like pee and the fields were never in as good condition as the boys’ fields. Our uniforms were old and stained. I went to a school in one of the most affluent areas in the state, so there was no feasible actual lack of funding excuse to explain the different treatment of the two teams. To add insult to injury, our team had a better record than the boys’ baseball team. Is that fair?


Other than athletics, Title IX protects the right to equal education (especially for female students in math and science), equality in career education (for example, home-ec and wood shop classes cannot deny students the opportunity to take them based on gender), fights gender stereotyping in curriculum, stands up to sexual harassment, challenges gender-bias in standardized testing, and protects the right for pregnant and parenting students to receive an education.

Any of this hit home for you? Go to http://www.titleix.info to learn more about what Title IX is doing and can do for you, and what you can do to make sure that equality is a priority in your school.

Role Model: Imani Brown

The United States Navy is only about 16% female. To find out a little bit about what being part of that percentage is like, I talked to my good friend, Imani.



Liz: To begin, how long have you been in the Navy?
Imani
: A year in mid-December
Liz
: What influenced you to join the Navy?
Imani
: Well, I didn't really feel like I was at the point that I wanted to be in my life. I didn't want to go to the college I was at and I wanted to get out of Maine. Being that a lot of my family have been through the military I decided that it would probably be a good spring board for me. So that's why I joined The Navy.
Liz
: There are gender divisions within the Navy, do you see that affecting male-female relationships?
Imani
: Not really. It's more like high school than most people realize. Just think of a ship as being a big high school. It's just like that.
Liz
: Ha-ha. How do you view your place in the Navy in relation to you being female? Do you think that affects how you are treated at all?
Imani
: I think that any place you work being female will always play a huge role. So yes, it does affect how we're treated but I think if you bring your A-game people will look past that. There are A LOT of young women in the Navy who don't carry themselves in an appropriate manner which makes it much more difficult for the women who are doing otherwise. But, I think that if you're doing your job everything will fall into place. If it doesn't then I think it's your job to speak up because maybe that will show the other party that you mean business, if that makes any sense to you, ha-ha.
Liz
: Ha-ha, yes, definitely. So you speak up for yourself/others?
Imani
: Of course. That's your job as a woman that wants a successful career. Being complacent is something that should not even cross a woman's mind when it comes to their beliefs, career, life etc. You will only get stepped on otherwise, I think. And that's the last thing we need.
Liz
: Do you have any advice for a girl who might be interested in joining the Navy/Army/Air Force?
Imani: Well, don't join the Air Force because we have way better aircraft[s] ha-ha! But seriously, make sure you come with your game face on. Don't fall into the high school bullsh** because perception is everything (unfortunately) and once you have a reputation it WILL follow you. So make sure it's a good one. If you do your job then there will be smooth sailing (Ew, sorry for that pun).
Liz
: Hahaha, thanks, Imani!
Imani
: Oh man I wish there was more ha-ha. I love interviews

What the Heck is Feminism Anyway?

“I think feminism is empowering women to be independent, confident, smart individuals. It is valuing the beauty and equality of women through the perspective of an individual who truly respects women. Feminism is not a crazy women cult idea, it is an everyday action to stand up and endorse the characteristics of individuals, and discredit the female gender acting as a classification of the stereotypical nature.”
-Natalie Stevens, 17

What do you think of when you think of a feminist? Do you think of a woman who hates men, doesn’t shave her legs or armpits, burns her bra and is generally unpleasant? Or do you think of a girl kind of like you?

“I think feminism is, as a woman, standing up for yourself, what you believe in, and the ability to respect and appreciate yourself.”
-Emily Riley, 16

Sure, some feminists do fit the stereotypes that are out there, but the truth is, and you might not even realize it, but you are probably a feminist.

“You believe in equality? That women shouldn’t be beaten up or raped? That we should be treated as autonomous human beings capable of making decisions for ourselves? Yes? Good. You’re a feminist. Deal” (Valenti, 24)

Feminism is, quite simply, the belief that women are equal to men. You don’t have to go out and throw out your bras, stand on picket lines, stop shaving your legs, toss out your make-up, hate men, or stop enjoying “girly” things to be a feminist. (But you can if you want to.) Feminism takes that belief of equality, and works toward obtaining it.

“I think feminism is I guess being a girl or acting girly. Girl power!”
-Sarah Conly, 13

If you enjoy playing sports, reading, getting an education, learning to drive, having free time to yourself, singing, acting, thinking about what you want to be when you grow up, writing, wearing pants, being a citizen, having boys as friends, or traveling, you are experiencing the benefits of feminism. All of those things, (as well as many more things,) were at one point in time rare or restricted activities for women (if they were an option at all).

Feminist thought analyzes the ways in which women have been oppressed throughout history to try to create equality between men and women in the future. That’s not scary… that’s good! Part of the reason why feminism is cast in such a negative light, is because it is seen as a threat.

A threat to whom?

If you pay attention in history class, you might notice that history is a very male-dominated story. Kings are men, soldiers are men, philosophers are men, innovators are men, explorers are men, villains are men, good guys are men… and women are wives. For making up roughly half the world’s population since the beginning of the human race, women don’t pop up a lot in history books. There are two general reasons why:

1.) Women weren’t allowed to do a lot of things. Depending on where they lived, what time period it was, and what economic class women belonged to, women were systematically shut out of many opportunities that they would most likely be free to enjoy today. Even once laws started changing and women could do more things, it was very hard for them to “break into” certain male-dominated activities. (If you would like to read about some women who broke through those traditional gender barriers, Ahead of Their Time is a book with many two-to-three page profiles women who became explorers, scientists, pilots and activists way before it was accepted.) Since women weren’t allowed to do the same things as men, obviously there are fewer stories about them in your history book.

2.) The histories (or, "herstories”) of women have not been given a lot of time in academics. Although I dread stating the cliché I’m about to type, white men wrote a lot of history books. They wrote a lot of other books too. And then a lot of white men became professors and taught these books to a lot of students, who, until relatively recently, were mostly more white men. But white men are not the problem. The problem that has kept history so narrow and one-sided is that it remains largely uncontested. If lots of people demanded that history be taught from a more equal standpoint, then we might have a better history book.

Do you think your American History class might have been a little different if you had learned about history from the Native American’s point of view? Of course! Just because it isn’t taught doesn’t mean that it’s not there. Women have history too, so it is important too seek it out until it is taught. The discipline of Women’s Studies emerged in the 1970’s, and since then, academic discourse surrounding feminism and women’s history has increased. “Women’s Studies embodies the goal of feminist education, the analysis of society from women’s perspectives with a view to changing it” (Warwick, 182). However, outside of a university setting, academic attention to Women’s Studies is rare.

The threat of feminism lies in the threat of upsetting conventional, traditional perspectives on what the world is. However, the fact that women (along with many other people left out of “The White Man’s History Book”) have a place in history shouldn’t be viewed as a threat. Rather, it should be celebrated! If you were reading a book and pages had been ripped out so that every other page was missing, wouldn’t you wonder what those pages said? The book wouldn't make sense without them! Without the stories of women, blacks, Asians, Native Americans, Latinos, homosexuals, bisexuals, transgendered people, Jews, Muslims, or Buddhists, that’s what history books are like: they don’t have the whole story. We're taught to believe that these history books that only have the histories of certain people are the whole story and not to question the missing pieces when we should.

"I'm honestly not completely sure and haven't thought about a definition too much, but I'd say feminism is the passionate belief that females should be considered equal both socially and politically in society.
-Izzer Berrang, 16

Without the whole story, it’s not surprising that a lot of people are confused about feminism. Even feminists are confused. Feminism has so many components and factions that sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint what’s what. First Wave, Second Wave, Third Wave… Liberal, Radical, Marxist, Anarchist… Post-modern, Post-colonial… Freudian, Lacanian… What? These are only some of the better known “types” of feminism. Although these different schools of feminism may disagree with each other about some things, they’re all feminism. You don’t have to choose one of those stuffy labels to be a feminist either. There are lots different kinds of women and girls who are feminists, with lots of different kinds of opinions, ideals, goals, backgrounds, and interests. Although this makes it harder to try and define feminism, it allows feminism to be more fluid and fit in where it is needed.

However, it is important to note that feminists have not always belonged to such a broad movement. During the women’s suffrage movement, uneducated women and black women were often turned away by the feminists running campaigns. This initial discrimination has stigmatized feminism as a thing of white, middle-class women long after its perpetration.

Feminism is now much more inclusive, but it is still important to dispel the myths that feminism is only looking out for the interests of white, middle class women. That doesn’t sound very equal, and that doesn’t sound like feminism. Across the world, feminism takes on many shapes. In America, feminists might be involved in trying to prosecute a company for not paying men and women equally, while in developing nations feminists might be more concerned with finding clean drinking water for their villages. As Audre Lourde said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives” (Antrobus, 632). Different women have different needs, so it is important to acknowledge and include those women and their needs.

Well, I live in a pretty equal world now, why should feminism be important to me?

“Many who do accept and support feminist views over-estimate the advances that have been made. They feel that equality has been achieved and therefore the women’s movement is redundant” (Morgan, 131).

Feminism is more relevant than you might think. While your world might seem pretty equal, there is still a lot that must be challenged and changed before men and women are fully equal. In the United States alone (covering global feminist issues is much too broad for this little article), women’s movements and feminism work at creating a more equal world for women and men. Some things that feminism focuses on are:

-Women’s access to health care: This includes things like access to contraceptives, breastfeeding information, the improvement of healthcare for minorities, sex education, disability services, the improvement of environmentally hazardous work and living places, and access to alternative medicine (Kirk, 211-223).

-Gay civil rights: From the inclusion of transgender and intergender people into anti-discrimination legislation and accepted in the public sphere, gay marriage and civil unions, to combating homophobia, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and straight allies in the United States are fighting for a more equal society.

-Challenging harmful media representations of women: Women in the media are more often that not, skinny, white, and attractive. Minorities are severely underrepresented, and while depicted often conform to “white” beauty standards. Women are much more likely than men to be commodified in advertising and much more likely to have their bodies photographed in sexually demeaning and passive ways. Why should women be depicted as something they are not? Feminist critiques of the media seek to point these inequalities out and pressure the media to depict women more realistically. (Kirk, 208).

-Gender equality in education: Title IX makes gender discrimination in schools illegal, but that doesn’t stop it from happening outright. Feminists must challenge discrimination and use Title IX to ensure equality. Additionally, feminists fight for the inclusion of women’s perspectives in literature and history classes, and delve deeper into women’s issues in Women’s Studies classes.

Feminism empowers women and girls to be strong in who they are, question gender discrimination, seek the whole history of humans, and work for a more equal future.

Activism does not have to mean burning your bras to protest your caged breasts. “Activism always involves creating change, but creating change can mean simply intervening when and where one happens to be. Helping at-risk youth, changing the norms of gendered behaviors … creating new power networks within an academic institution—all these activist moves in our examples grew out of women literally seeing and hearing and feeling the needs around them” (Martin, 90).

So think about it. Are you a feminist? Are you interested in activism, either on a large-political scale or a smaller, person-to-person scale? Do you support the inclusion of minority perspectives in academic discourse? Are you interested in examining women’s perspectives throughout history? Do you believe that gender inequality is wrong and should be fixed? Do you believe in civil rights for all people? Do you believe that the American media promotes an unhealthy, unrealistic, and outdated image of feminine beauty and that it should change to reflect the women who are consuming that image? Do you believe in challenging the status quo?

Yes?

Then You might be a feminist.


_____________
Antrobus, Peggy. "The Global Women's Movement." In Kirk, Gywn, Margo Okazawa-Rey. Women's Lives: Multicultural Perspectives. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2010, 5th ed. 629-636

Valenti, Jessica. "You're a Feminist. Deal." In Berger, Melody. We Don't Need Another Wave: Dispatches from the Next Generation of Feminists. Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2006. 23-27

Warwick, Alex & Rosemary Auchmuty. "Women's Studies as Feminist Activism." In Gabriele Griffin. Feminist Activism in the 1990s. Bristol, PA: Taylor & Francis Inc. 1995. 182-191

First Post

I lived most of my life until recently under the false impression that being female equated with being feminist. Begrudgingly, I realized that not all women called themselves feminists, some women didn’t like the word “feminist,” and that feminism is often thrown around as an insult. It is now my understanding that not enough girls are taught about feminism and how it relates to them. Instead, lots of girls assume that feminists all hate men, don’t shave, hate fashion, burn bras, and want to take over the world. So then are wary about associating themselves with “the f-word.”

It is the goal of this blog to familiarize girls with “the f-word” (feminism) and show them that it is not only relevant to their lives, but important and fun. Being able to look at history, current events, and social norms with a feminist perspective has enabled me to have a much more broad understanding of my life and how I am shaped by all sorts of outside factors.

Too many girls (and boys) are hesitant to use the word feminism in relation to themselves when they actually hold feminist beliefs because they don’t fully understand the meaning of the word. I think that if more people understood the history and scope of feminism they would realize that they were actually feminists. So this blog is going to have a little bit of everything. A little history (I swear it’s not like a text book), a little bit about feminism now, and a little bit from you—because feminism doesn’t just exist in theory, it’s shaped by the people who participate in it.

So, what do you think?

-Liz Pride