Since some of our recent class presentations, I had been thinking about the line between women feeling confident and unrestricted about their bodies, but also only having a small range of body types that we typically see on social media with this type of #empowerment. Is it really empowered if only young women with small waists and large breasts/butts get to flaunt it? And, does being celebrated for their bodies yet again direct attention to “appearance matters” as a more important sign of value than their actual capabilities and character?
The New York Post recently ran an editorial on the Kim Kardashian naked selfies that stated, “Whenever a woman suggests, explicitly or implicitly, that her worth or value or power comes from her appearance, she loses. Women everywhere lose. And feminism, the kind that taught that a woman’s life is not about her body, loses, too.”
On the other hand, if we had more men, women, and people who are intersexed of all ages, shapes, sizes, and gender identities posting, and those people were celebrated instead of shamed, then perhaps the whole idea of “appearance matters” would lose it power for women. Because if everyone’s appearance was considered one of many interesting and unique parts of who they are, then we could celebrate the whole person.
Check out this Tumblr #redefiningrealness that is trying to do exactly this! I’d love to see that get as much attention as Kim Kardashian.
What do you think?
Many people don’t realize that men are also victims of sexual assault and rape. This CNN article profiles two men’s stories. One in six men report sexually abusive relationships, according to research presented in the article.
Part of a RAINN campaign to raise knowledge about the experiences of and resources for both men and women rape survivors.
This is an interesting article about how a number of men and women celebrities who have been body shamed for both being “too skinny” or “too fat.” Prison Break star Wentworth Miller is particularly interesting because he breaks norms of masculinity described in chapter 7. He discusses his depression, an issue commonly faced by many men, but one that often is not talked about publicly.
Miller responds to a meme that went viral mocking his weight gain.
Of course, my favorite response is Amy Schumer’s! But, you’ll have to check out the article to get her take on it.
Jazz Jennings posing with her book that was written to support transgender teens.
Fourteen-year-old Jazz Jennings became a You Tube star as she advocated for transgender rights. Recently, Clean and Clear featured her in an online advertising campaign called “See the Real Me.” [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyNZXQ136oI[/youtube].
Now she is becoming the first to star in a reality TV show that focuses on the life of a transgender teen. According to CNN, the show called “All That Jazz” will debut on TLC in the summer of 2015 and focus on Jazz and her family “dealing with typical teen drama through the lens of a transgender youth.”
I’m glad to see more shows with diverse casts that feature people in in more complex ways who are transgendered. But, given that TLC is the same network that featured such “reality” shows as Here comes Honey Boo Boo and Toddlers and Tiaras, I am not holding my breath waiting for a thoughtful portrayal of the life of a young person who also happens to be transgendered.
If this show falls prey to the same oversimplified, one-dimensional representations of gender that some of the other TLC shows include, this leaves us with question: Is it better to have no or few representations of a person who is transgendered, or one that may have some truths to it, while overemphasizing “drama” and perhaps reinforcing some stereotypes too?
We’ve all seen the images… celebrities who look completely different than the pictures we see in magazines. Here’s a few of the latest ones:
But, as well known feminist and columnist Jessica Valenti published in The Guardian, these “leaks” represent a violation of privacy, and celebrities who don’t wish to take up the fight against the narrow representation of body types in media shouldn’t be forced to do so. For example, Lena Dunham angrily responded to Jezebel’s offer to pay anyone who could obtain the original photos and publish them without her permission. CNN’s Peggy Dexler points out that publishing Cindy Crawford’s picture without her approval to make a political point is just another form of objectification.
The publishing of pictures without approval is a violation of privacy. Is Jezebel’s offer to pay anyone who could obtain Dunham’s pictures so far different than the hackers who broke into celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton’s personal social media accounts, stole pictures, and sold them to be published?
On the other hand, celebrities like Cindy Crawford’s pictures of her real 48-year-old’s body, with sun damage, cellulite, and a small belly, have the power to help women realize that the body type consistently shown to us in media is not real. These doctored images have real world effects on women ranging from eating disorders to purchases of products to “fix” these issues with money that could be better spent in other ways.
What do you think? Should these pictures have been published? Would you share them on your social media accounts?
Recently, the prestigious Loyola Law School issued a memo to students including a statement about how female students should dress when clerking.
As is often the case with professional dress codes, women’s clothing choices were addressed, with no suggestions about what is appropriate for men.
This gets at the double bind faced by women in something as simple as choosing what to wear to work. On the one hand, women are encouraged to look beautiful in their work appearance, as traditionally defined in our culture. On the other hand, often women are judged for looking too “sexy.”
Ultimately women’s job performance should not be evaluated on their appearance. It is an example of how “appearance counts” as a theme of femininity affects women in their professional lives in a significant way.
As Drexler argues here in a CNN editorial about the memo what should matter most is, “how women perform their jobs, and not which shoes they happened to choose that morning.”
Here is a fascinating discussion of women who have submitted Mount Everest over the years and the challenges they faced based upon social expectations for them as women in Eastern and Western cultures. After one professional climber told National Geographic that she, like many working mothers, felt guilty at leaving her children behind, reader response was ferocious. Readers responded to the article stating she had “pre-shot her children” and accusing her of having “cheap, self-serving arrogance.” A Nepalese woman who holds the record for summiting Everest 6 times is working as a maid because in her culture, educating women is not seen as a priority and she can not read or write.
Some of the issues faced by Western women climbers is grounded in our historical view of women and sport. From the article:
In the 19th century, when mountaineering was developing as a sport, the playing field was highly restricted. Victorian society largely believed that women could not endure robust physical activity. One prevalent theory blamed the uterus and the ovaries. These organs were thought to dictate everything about a woman, from puberty to menopause, including her athletic capabilities….
Naturally, mountaineering was out of the question. As physician Karl Gerson warned in 1898 in the German Journal of Physical Education, “Violent movements of the body can cause a shift in the position and a loosening of the uterus as well as a prolapse and bleeding, with resulting sterility, thus defeating a woman’s true purpose in life, i.e., the bringing forth of strong children.” A woman needed to stay home and go easy on the uterus. Future generations depended on it.
But beware…. this bear might just steal your woman!
Are you a man who wants to “measure up” when getting your romantic partner a Valentine’s gift? If so, check out this ad for the “perfect” gift that every grown woman wants – a gigantic teddy bear.
A recent Forbes op-ed described how this Valentine’s Day ad that “creates girls out of women .” In addition, the ad certainly plays on the gendered theme of men being valued for being sexual, as described in Gendered Lives. The ad proclaims ““It’s a great gift for her, and it’s sure to pay off for you,” as a man winks and hugs his girlfriend who is ecstatically happy over her giant bear gift!
Check out the ad for yourselves! The comments below the video are hilarious too.
Recently, I chuckled as I read an article about a dating service in China advertising to women by telling them they would disappoint their Grandmothers (who could die soon!) if they didn’t stop being so picky and just settle down to get married already! Thank goodness I live in the US, I thought with smug satisfaction, where we believe there is more to a woman’s life than being a spouse.
I shouldn’t have been so smug… The Wall Street Journal has just published an op-ed from Princeton alumna Susan A. Patton telling college women to “smarten up and start husband hunting.” Oh, but how can I be a smart husband hunter, you may ask? Never fear (heterosexual) ladies! In case Patton’s advice is confusing to you, I’ve expanded on key points from her article here, so you will know exactly how to score the “cornerstone of your future happiness:”
- “Casual sex is irresistible to men, but the smart move is not to give it away. If you offer intimacy without commitment, the incentive to commit is eliminated. The grandmotherly message of yesterday is still true today: Men won’t buy the cow if the milk is free.” Got it? So, the message here is sell sex, so your future husband will buy a cow. Or, something like that. Since you’re in college and all, I’m sure you will figure this one out.
- “And if you start to earn more than he does? Forget about it. Very few men have egos that can endure what they will see as a form of emasculation.” When you negotiate your first salary, don’t go for the obvious tactic of trying to earn the highest amount possible. Negotiate that salary down ladies — your future husband’s masculinity depends on you! (Don’t worry about not having a husband and being underpaid, just remember the milk thing from above and you will have yourself a winner husband, for sure!)
- “…avoid falling for the P.C. feminist line that has misled so many young women for years. There is nothing incongruous about educated, ambitious women wanting to be wives and mothers.” That’s right, don’t fall for those ugly feminists who hate men and motherhood! They are just trying to trick you by feeding you lines about how women should be supported in a variety of choices about how to live their lives. Why would you want options (including, but not limited to: motherhood with or without a partner, not having children,having a high-powered career, having a low-powered career, staying at home with children, loving being single, being committed to a partner, or any combination of these)?
Thank goodness we have this good advice from Patton, who is busy warning college women about avoiding the bleak future of leaving college without an engagement ring. Between Patton’s words of wisdom and the advice from Chinese dating websites, you can be assured of not disappointing any dying relatives in your lack of a husband, or being bothered with focusing on your pesky intellectual development over the true goal of higher education for women, earning your MRS!
Jewel Moore, a junior right here in Farmville, VA has made international news with her petition on change.org for Disney to include a plus-sized princess. In just under 3 weeks, Jewel’s petition has amassed over 25,000 signatures and national and international news coverage.
In part, Jewel’s petition reads:
I made this petition because I’m a plus-size young woman, and I know many plus-size girls and women who struggle with confidence and need a positive plus-size character in the media.
Studies show that a child’s confidence correlates greatly with how much representation they have in the media. It’s extremely difficult to find a positive representation of plus-size females in the media. If Disney could make a plus-size female protagonist who was as bright, amazing, and memorable as their others, it would do a world of good for those plus-size girls out there who are bombarded with images that make them feel ugly for not fitting the skinny standard.
The Huffington Post reports that Jewel is correct in her assessment of how girls engage in unhealthy eating behaviors.
The reaction to this petition also demonstrates social learning theory – how positive and negative reinforcement from others influences gendered norms (in this case, the importance of and type of ideal appearance for women). For negative reaction, check out hostile comments made about Jewel in response to her petition and even broadcast on national news. However, Jewel has also received a great deal of support in her quest for more realistic and a variety of body types to be represented in children’s media – my favorite is this great video created by an artist of his work to create a princess in Jewel’s image!