Friday, January 29, 2016

Tunnel of oppression

This past week I was afforded an opportunity to attended an event on Texas Christan University campus named Tunnel of Oppresion. Tunnel of Oppresion basically is an interactive exprencise. Students walk through different designs that display oppression of marginalized groups, such as domestic violence victims, rape victims, racism and more. 
One thing that really captivated my attention was a picture(posted above) that was initially posted on a social media network site named YikYak. The YikYak was posted by a student who attends TCU. Never, could I fathom a person being able to say such hurtful things. Being a minorty on a PWI(predominantly white institution), I never experienced any racial commentary/remarks etc. But, one thing I can say is, it has been an adjustment coming from a more diverse high school sitting into TCU, and being able to make friends.
This post hit home for me. It made me wonder why? Why as a minorty are we still being racially oppressed? And by some, aren't opened with welcoming hands. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Growing Up and Knowing Your Body!

PS, this image is from Sophomore Mag

As we spoke more and more about coming of age stories and the way that a sort of womanhood forms, I started to notice a common trend. In Tina Fey’s stories, she touches on the confusion of growing up as a woman, and the sort of vague way that we approach menstruation and female puberty. Without even talking to Fey, her mother just left brochures in her room, almost as if what was happening was not meant to be discussed but was rather meant to be kept to oneself. Again in Fey’s story, she discusses how most women first discovered/acknowledged their womanhood, through a man that cat called them or said something to them. This sets up the framework that growing up is kind of scary and shameful. It has come to represent not just becoming a woman but also getting treated like a woman. Kaling’s story about getting boobs also touches on this point that you’re losing a sort of childlike innocence and entering into this scary, generally unfair, shamed womanhood.

I’m stretching a bit here, but these ways in which woman are shamed and told to talk about periods and masturbation and sex behind closed doors (especially in the south), has made me really passionate about better sex ed for women. Not just better sex ed but a sort of all encompassing course or program that teaches women about their bodies, puberty, healthy sex, and a more celebrated approach to growing up and to your body. When I look back on my sex ed classes in middle school, I remember we were escorted into a windowless room for a powerpoint presentation talking about menstruation and teachers gave the option for students to go home afterwards, as if we couldn’t talk about it in the hallowed coed halls. When it got to talking about sex, we learned a lot about male masturbation and all the negative consequences to having sex, but we were missing a huge chunk- what was sex, how was it supposed to work, female masturbation, and so on. We spent so much time learning about the end result without even knowing the means, and that has become significantly more pressing and clear to me, as I still have friends asking me questions about their bodies. I’ve attached a little video, which I hope you will all enjoy about female masturbation and how society should start talking about it!
Here's the link, I tried to put it on this page but having a little trouble so click the link and watch it!

In class earlier this week we were lucky enough to have a presentation from Lindsay Klatckins.  For a portion of the presentation we discussed the reasons as to why women leave there relationships to go to shelters such as Safe Haven, which is where Lindsay works.  I know we did not talk about domestic violence that much, but for the little time that we did, my brain recalled this video that I had seen a few years ago.  In this video, a woman is pictured everyday for a year and it shows the different wounds this woman had attained through being in an abusive relationship.  I was one of the people who always questioned that "if this was going on so much, why did they not just leave their partner?"  In class Dr. Lowry clarified for me that these relationships go through a cycle in which there is a honeymoon stage, an abusive stage, an apologetic stage, and then it just keeps happening over and over again which traps the woman in that relationship.  I was interested in this link because after watching the video, the woman's facial expressions perfectly resemble this cycle that we discussed in class.  Let me explain myself.  She goes through a series of pictures for 5-7 seconds where she is smiling and showing no signs of being abused, and then BAM! Suddenly a scab or bruise would appear on her face.  Then, as the video goes on she keeps repeating this cycle of being happy (in the honeymoon stage) and then back into the wounded abusive stage. 
I never realized the amount of factors that played into a woman leaving an abusive relationship.  What if he comes after me?  What if the kids hate me for it?  What if he catches me packing up and hits me again?  I can not even begin to imagine the amount of stress and pain that someone in this situation must go through and that is why I am so interested in visiting the Safe Haven shelter in order to try and bring some happiness and relief from a bad situation to these woman and there children.

Feminist or Sexist

Women's Football. Talking with one of my coworkers this week we started to talk about how we wish we could play football. The conversation then led to the ridiculous lingerie football league. I decided to look up some things about it and to my surprise there is a women's league in the US where women can play tackle football. The league is called the Legends National League. However the women that play in this league don't wear what you would think. The women playing in this league are wearing pads and helmets of course but that's about all. They wear very revealing outfits obviously meant for men's enjoyment and not the most practical outfit. Since women are now playing a predominately male sport, men deem it 'ok' for women to play if they can sexually objectify these women. The link below is an article I found that explains a bit more about the league.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

All-Female Senate

                While not a STEM field, politics is another area in which women are greatly underrepresented. There are only 84 women in the House of Representatives and only 20 Senators are women. Lawrence Summers claimed that men are more willing to put in the hard work required to be very successful in STEM fields, but after the blizzard in Washington the women in the Senate proved that they, too, were willing to work hard. On Tuesday, the only people who showed up to work in the Senate were women. I think that is telling enough that maybe the underrepresentation of women is society’s fault and not actually the women’s.
                This incident reminds me of something I read a few years ago about Ruth Bader, a justice on the Supreme Court. When asked when she believed there would be enough women on the court, she replied that she thought there would be enough when there were nine. Now, in case you didn’t know, that would mean that the entire Supreme Court would be composed of women. That sounded unreasonable to me and many others, but, as she said, “For most of the country’s history, there were nine and they were all men. Nobody thought that was strange.” She has a fair point.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Little Taste of Positivity

It is no secret that gender equality is an ever present issue in our society today. In a lot of professions women receive lower wages than men even though they preform the same amount of work. Women struggle more than men in obtaining highly successful corporate jobs. In a lot of situations women are underestimated solely on the fact they lack a Y chromosome. However, despite all of the struggles that women continue to face there have been many advancements made towards conquering gender stereotypes. 

Throughout my four years of high school I was involved in an organization by the name of POWER SET, which stands for Powerful Opportunities for Women Eager and ready for Science, Engineering, and Technology. To be inducted into POWER SET you had to first, of course, be a girl, and second you had to have high test scores in math and science. POWER SET is funded by Texas A&M University and has been creating numerous opportunities for young girls ranging from the age nine to eighteen years old to be introduced to STEM related fields. Each POWER SET chapter takes several field trips to companies and job sites that are affiliated with jobs in engineering, oil services, and other STEM related careers. Also, this organization allows young girls meet and talk with successful woman within those previously mentioned careers. 

POWER SET alone has, and continues to, educate young girls about their potential and provide them with encouragement to pursue a career in a male dominated STEM professional, and along with the other efforts that are being made to defeat gender inequality I firmly believe that this problem can one day become a thing of the past.

Here I have attached a link to my high school's POWER SET website, so feel free to check it out!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

One Small Step for the NFL, One Giant Leap for Womankind.

      I have to admit, I never thought I'd be writing about the National Football League and positive publicity, especially involving a woman, but here I go. The NFL certainly hasn't been a "SafeHaven" up to this point in its "storied" history. Currently there are 14 players playing every Sunday in the NFL with past Domestic Violence history. Within the last 2 years alone, two of the leagues most praised athletes were in the news for domestic violence. Minnesota Vikings running back, Adrian Peterson who was charged for whipping his child, and Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice who was charged with aggravated assault against his fiancĂ©, both continue to play in the league today. Yet, through all the negative publicity the NFL continues to be the most watched professional sport in America. I understand the idea of forgiveness and redemption, but what kind of message is being sent by the NFL with its lack luster stance against Domestic Violence?

With that out of the way, the NFL took a small step in the right direction today. The Buffalo Bills announced this morning that Kathryn Smith will be the new special teams quality control coach, making her the first full-time female coach in the National Football League. I say small step in the right direction for two reasons. First, and the most obvious, there are tremendous strides to be made in order for the true equality among genders idea we talked about during class this week to ring true, but its a start. And Secondly, my first reaction when I saw this announcement was that it seemed a bit forced. Before todays announcement, I had never heard of a "special teams quality control coach" and I think its fair to say it's not a very crucial position. If this is the best the NFL has got, its time to continue stepping up their game.

In a sport so known for its dominating masculine athletes, its about time that a female was the headline of NFL news, and not as a victim of domestic violence. Although I may question the title that Kathryn Smith will be taking over, I in no way want to take away from the accomplishment of Smith. She has paved the path for other females with the ability to coach and lead football players to be able to do the same. I cant help but think and dream of the day where the NFL is announcing there first Female head coach, that's the day when we will be able say there is true equality in the NFL. To twist the words of Neil Armstrong, today was one small step for the NFL, but one giant leap for Womankind!

Disappointments in the Media

Along with the cold comes award season and, apparently, disappointment. After recent Oscar nominations were announced people are less than happy. For the second year in a row not one African American male or female has been nominated for an award. Lupita Nyong’o, known for her incredible role in “12 Years a Slave”, was the last African American woman to win an Oscar. In 2014, she won Best Supporting Actress. The article is based on Nyong’o’s response to this whole fiasco. She uses a word that, in my opinion, is more than appropriate: “disappointment.” Her award, back in 2014, was a huge deal for African American’s and women everywhere. She was recognized for a role that was so real, raw, and heart retching that most people (men or women) couldn’t even dream of playing. Disappointment was felt across the board; actors, actresses, fans, and viewers felt it. The book talks a lot about how entertainment is still male focused. Most things do not pass the Bechdel test. It says that these movies and TV shows “communicate strong messages about what is culturally valuable and what (and who) is interesting” (35). Is this the message that African American’s are feelings as well? Is The Academy saying that even though Will Smith, one of the most talented actors in Hollywood, was in one of the top selling movies in 2015 that he is not culturally valuable or even interesting? Better yet, are they saying that about Lupita Nyong’o or any other African Americans who have won Oscars in the past?

Article Link:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Define Your Own Gender

Define Your Own Gender
The Genderbread depiction that we viewed in class described gender and sexuality in a new way that I had never thought of before. The two continuums of “male-ness” and “female-ness” that apply to each aspect of gender and sexuality allow for more freedom in choice. Narrow mindedness towards gender and sex as a binary system has led to conflicts and disagreements. It is often the case that those who are unable to relate to what they cannot understand marginalize people who are different. Just the other day I heard someone belittle a person’s confusion with gender identity by saying “they’re just trying to be different because they want the attention.” It’s hard to understand something that you yourself are not going through, but when someone is uncomfortable with their socially “assigned” gender or sexuality, they should not be persecuted for wanting to feel right with their identity.
While we still have a long ways to go in being more accepting and understanding of the right to choose and define your own gender identity, there has been a lot of progress made. I found an article from CBC News acknowledging a school in Alberta that is writing up new guidelines to “erase old divides that force students into male and female roles.” After reading the article and looking at the new guidelines I think it is extremely commendable and brave that the school is taking such measures to make all of its students feel safe to be themselves.
One of the most controversial points of the guidelines document is that students are now allowed to pick the locker room they change in during gym class. I found it extremely interesting that they included this point because while I have seen efforts being made by schools to be more inclusive of individuals who do not identify as male or female, I have not heard of a school going this far. I found out the other day that my own high school might be implementing a gender neutral bathroom, but no word on a locker room just yet. Ultimately I think establishing gender neutral locker rooms is only reinforcing the idea that we're all humans, and as humans we share the same rights. Regardless of the fact that we are all just humans and should be equal on all counts, it is still impossible for me to imagine schools allowing girls and boys to change, shower, etc. in the same locker room. As a society we were socialized to see that kind of behavior as taboo, but now we are supposed to embrace it as the new norm. Like any radical social change, the acceptance of defining your own gender will be a long process, but it will be well worth it.

Here is the link to the article. Check it out!

Gendered Media

Relating to the reading on the social construction of gender, I began thinking about the many portrayals of gender in the current media. I found an article that discusses the stereotypical depictions of men and women in today's media. I found the article to be very interesting in that it brought to light many aspects of the media that we consider "normal" and don't usually actively notice. For example, one of the portrayals that the article mentioned was the over-emphasis of men instead of women in the media and the usual roles that each gender plays. Men are rarely presented doing housework and instead away at work, while women are more times than not presented caring for the children, if there are any, and tending to the house. This depiction presents men as seemingly uncaring and not involved in the household life. On a related note, the media also tends to portray men as high status employees and women as lower status. I find both of these arguments interesting because I believe that they are accurate in that these depictions provide us with stereotypes about how men and women are expected to behave in our society through the media. As young boys grow up seeing men being portrayed in these ways, they may feel inadequate if they do not achieve high level successes. In contrast, as young girls grow up seeing women less often in the business world and more at home, they could end up feeling intimidated from attempting to enter the business world as a result because they were shown that women generally stay home. I also find it interesting that these stereotypes about men and women in the media tend to downgrade the caring side of men and the almost "career capability" of women. I now pose this question: why then, with the increased prevalence of women in higher status positions than before and the recent general stabilizing of "fatherly" and "motherly" roles in the house, are these portrayals of men and women in the media presented in this article still present?

Here is the link to the article:

Women and the Bechdel Test

What I found most interesting about our class discussion in week 1 was the information about the Bechdel Test. Prior to taking this class I had no idea that a test like this even existed. I learned that the bechdel test is something that most films do not even pass. It requires that at least two women in the film talk to each other, and about something other than a man. Learning about this definitely made me more interested to see if some of my all-time favorite movies would pass the test. Unfortunately, and not to my surprise, majority of my favorites failed. At the top of my list, was the movie The Other Woman. Starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson, and Leslie Mann, this movie tells the story of a married woman whose husband cheats on her with several other women. These women form a bond and create a master plan to bring him down and make him pay for being a sleaze ball.  As I watched, I noticed that none of the conversations that took place between the woman were about anything other than the man, or what they were plotting to do to the man. I find it interesting that most people around the world would even notice or realize the way that women are presented in films and television today. What I am curious to know, is how the bechdel test makes a difference when they do pass, or fail the test.

Wonder Woman Movie

Recently DC Comics released a video trailer for their upcoming movie Wonder Woman. After viewing the trailer, I was reminded of the pictures of male superheroes in female costumes. I was surprised to learn that this is the first movie adaptation of the story of iconic Wonder Woman ever attempted. This surprised me because of how many movies there are about superheroes. For instance, the first movie adaptation of the superhero Superman was in 1941 and the first adaptation of the superhero Batman was in 1966. There have been countless other films about male superheroes, but as for female superheroes there are very few. Wonder Woman was introduced in Marvel Comics in 1941 and has become one of the most iconic female heroines of all time. Still, she has no movies written about her story. Finally, in 2017, a Wonder Woman movie will be released. I applaud DC comics for finally telling her story. But I also pose this question: what took so long?

P.S. I wonder if the Wonder Woman movie will pass the Bechdel test.

Here's the link to the Wonder Woman trailer: