recall watching part of MissRepresentation in WST101. The documentary opens
with a teen girl speaking on weight issues (amongst other sensitive topics
relative to young girls and women). An enormous issue which is at the root of
many others effecting young girls is the sexualization of children. I have seen
adults of all ages speaking about children, not just referring to girls, but
also to boys. “What a looker!”, “He’s going to be a lady-killer one day!”,
“She’s so pretty!”, “I bet all the boys love her!”. This starts almost
immediately after birth in our culture. This culture focuses so closely on
looks as a determinate and that translates to teenagers as something they have
to live up to. Boy’s seem not to focus on body image unless they’re overweight,
which can carry into adulthood, but puberty is often the culprit of weight gain
and goes away with age much like “baby fat”.
On the other side of the coin, girls
struggle with body image from very early on. Whether they’re focusing on being
pretty or being skinny, girls are told they MUST fit the mold and that this
mold doesn’t include intelligence. I remember a few years ago there was a trend
amongst teens and young women to have a thigh gap. These girls would starve
themselves to wear skinny jeans but would risk their health and well-being as a
result just for a blatantly unhealthy trend. The image I’ve attached is from a
French ad. Because many ads have included photographs like this, France made a reform
law (passed December 18, 2015) that could cost agencies that employ models who
are dangerously thin (and sends them to jobs for photo shoots) upwards of
$85,000 USD (75,000 euros) or even a short prison sentence—the latter being an
extreme that may be necessary for repeated offenders. Whether this image is Photoshopped
it still represents a reality for women in the modelling, film, television, and
music industries (to name a few). There are a multitude of photographs
available online that are absolutely not
Photoshopped, but it’s certainly a topic to discuss.
When speaking about media and
unrealistic body goals, it’s impossible not to think of Photoshop and its
application in industries around the world that require models for photographs.
This picture (which I believe was included in MissRepresentation!) shows the
drastic difference Photoshop can make. To the left is an average woman, to the
right is her Photoshopped-would-be-doppelganger. Her neck has been elongated,
her hair extended, her cheek bones given height, her natural nose shape has
been changed, even her skin has been given an otherworldly glow free of
“imperfections”. Girls are expected to be the Photoshop, things like collagen
aren’t just frowned upon but actively shamed by magazines and modelling
agencies, and Hollywood—yet something as minute as collagen is literally a part
of being human and is required for our skin to function normally, but it’s
shamed! Women aren’t even allowed the same imperfections as men. For a man, a
beer belly is an endearing quality, think Kevin James on King of Queens, and
for women it’s a double standard that would lead to a woman being a
side-kick-best-friend-who-makes-everyone-laugh a la Melissa McCarthy circa 2012.
The double-standard is crushing the self-esteem and masking any beauty that a
young girl might feel with impossible standards that lead to dangerous cosmetic
surgeries for those who can afford it and a life of “ugly” for those who can’t.
However, on a positive note, in the last year or so I have noticed the trend of
women taking charge of their beauty. They’re using makeup for themselves and
making the statement out loud that it’s not because they feel “ugly” but
because they want to wear it. While this is a start, we have to target younger
children. They’re literally our future, and if we have generations of girls
without proper educations that are being rewarded for interest in STEM fields
we will literally be behind as a species. Betty Harris, Stephanie Kwolek,
Virginia Apgar, Yvonne Clark, Grace Hopper, Sarah Mather, Hedy Lamarr, Alice
Augusta Ball, Elizabeth Coleman, Sinah Estelle Kelley—these are the names of a
handful of women who if they had not pursued science, mathematics, engineering
or technology, we wouldn’t be nearly half as advanced as we are today.
After experiencing the one-man play by Ben Atherton-Zeman, I walked away
discovering many new facts about men’s violence against women but also
realizing a couple new notions that were much more problematic than I had
originally understood. One of these facts was every twelve seconds women are
abused. This fact really resonated with me because of the effective way he
demonstrated it in the first few minutes of the play. Ringing a bell, the
audience silenced. Wondering why he was doing so, this immediately grabbed my
attention. With pauses in between, he continued to ring the bell about ten more
times. My initial thought was damn I hope he doesn’t do this the whole length
of the play. However once he explained his reasoning that he was doing so every
twelve seconds to show how women are abused that often I felt chills on my
arms. To be able to hear that noise just for a couple minutes repeated was
slightly annoying but what we should really be frustrated about was the rate in
which this occurs. By presenting this statistic in a more tangible way it
caused a greater impact and symbolically revealed that just like this ringing
can’t be ignored we shouldn’t turn a blind eye (that we so often do) to
violence in any form towards
By using humor and celebrity
male voice impressions it not only successfully educated the viewers but
brought about new notions that would otherwise not be considered if comedy was
not a part of the skit. Firstly, the choice of popular television characters
was commendable because most people could relate to or at least understand the
perspective from which these characters were coming from. They also depicted
the stereotypes that very often men are portrayed on the big screen. Rocky
Balboa, a movie icon is known for his big heart and lovable personality,
although not very intelligent. Because of this we can excuse him on his
behavior towards Adrienne in the film, which too commonly we do with men
because we have the expectation that they didn’t know any better so it makes
their actions justifiable. In a scene from the film, the number of times
Adrienne said no to Rocky’s insistence was counted compared to the number of
times Rocky insisted. In the end, Rocky got his way with a very uncomfortable
Adrienne. During this scene I found myself justifying Rocky because he wasn’t
exactly the smartest man so he probably just didn’t really understand Adrienne.
He also was insisting so much to try and make Adrienne more comfortable because
her character is a traditionally submissive, indecisive, shy woman so if
anything he is a great guy for continuing to persist. Wrong and wrong! This was
a new notion to me. Very obviously on the screen, Adrienne looks uncomfortable
but because of her stereotype we are lead to believe that it is just because
she is quiet and not really sociable. The number of times counted that she said
no to him were well in the double digits. Just because of her softly saying it,
laughing while saying it or going back and forth with her body language does
not give you the right to assume that she wants to come into a stranger’s
house. She said no and it should only take one time for a man to listen to a
woman and respect her decision. Too many times, I myself have justified men
being persistent as a positive trait, especially when it doesn’t seem like you
are in a dangerous predicament. By not hearing what a woman tells you the first
time around, regardless of her personality shows a lack of respect and can
escalate to dangerous situations when men take advantage and believe that no
means to try harder.
Another popular character in film, the humorous and again lovable and unwise
Austin Powers is characterized for being a sex-crazed man who objectifies
women. We think it’s funny and forgive him because poor Austin doesn’t realize
his actions and often times just cannot control his urges. Using this example
the “point of no return” concept was introduced and how men cannot control
themselves. Once a woman turns men on by choosing to wear something revealing
or sexy, suddenly men become animals without reason and go after their
“uncontrollable” impulses. Wrong. This not only gives us a notion that
diminishes the man’s capacity to reason once his testosterone takes over but
also puts the responsibility solely on the female for being the reason that
provoked the male to take violent action towards her, making the victim wrong
and at fault. Because society often puts less responsibility on the men who
commit violent acts against women, it is no surprise why this is such a
problem. If there was more accountability on the perpetrators and less on the
victims, there is no doubt that the statistic of women being abused every
twelve seconds would be dramatically lower.
If you ever thought that you couldn't be fashionable because of your weight, shape, or height, then you've been looking at fashion the wrong way.
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“Absent Mother God of the West: A Kali Lover's Journey into Christianity and Judaism”
A presentation by Professor Neela Saxena
Saxena’s book, Absent Mother God of the West: A Kali Lover's Journey into Christianity and Judaism, discusses the missing Divine Feminine in Christianity and Judaism and chronicles the personal quest of an Indian woman who grew up with Kali. Written from a Hindu/Buddhist Tantric perspective, and as a travelogue, the book describes its author's encounters with the Black Madonna in Europe and Shekhinah in Jewish mysticism. It is also a scholarly account of how the Mother God was erased from the western consciousness leading to a spiritually patriarchal monotheism.
Sponsored by the Women’s Studies Project.
For more information, please contact email@example.com
Last semester, a student in the masculinity course I teach showed a video clip she had found online of a toddler getting what appeared to be his firstvaccinations. Off camera, we hear his father’s voice. “I’ll hold your hand, O.K.?” Then, as his son becomes increasingly agitated: “Don’t cry!… Aw, big boy! High five, high five! Say you’re a man: ‘I’m a man!’ ” The video ends with the whimpering toddler screwing up his face in anger and pounding his chest. “I’m a man!” he barks through tears and gritted teeth.
The home video was right on point, illustrating the takeaway for the course: how boys are taught, sometimes with the best of intentions, to mutate their emotional suffering into anger. More immediately, it captured, in profound concision, the earliest stirrings of a male identity at war with itself.
"As Bernie gained momentum, his candidacy opened space for intolerable misogyny, including especially dispiriting vitriol from self-identified progressive men and women. It filled me with rage and sadness. The onslaught of venom directed toward a woman who played the any-means-necessary game of politics was a real trigger — where have all these player-haters been for the centuries this game has dominated our nation? Men have made Hillary’s choices, and far worse, on repeat, for all of our history, to little fanfare.
Are the sins of our institutions so terrible? Yes. Are those sins more terrible when committed by a woman? Seems so."