Category Archives: gender

Do yourself a favor….

Take nine minutes out of your day and watch this video. Then think about it. And react


Guest Blogger: Emily Andersen

The social expectancies and contradicting pressures for women in modern society are constantly under scrutiny. Sexually charged advertisements and unobtainable standards set by the fashion industry create a wave of passionate reaction within the feminist community (and usually within any woman who is tired of the burdens the culture places on us every day).

Just looking through this blog, there is a whole section broadly labeled “gender” with commentary on a huge range of issues that people have been influenced by. As I scrolled through all seven pages of blogs written in the “gender” section, I did not come across one article that discussed the effects that cultural influences had on men (don’t worry I scanned the “boys” section as well). I did see the picture about how Disney projects an image of men through their movies, but I’ve never heard a guy claim Prince Eric or Aladdin to be his role model, have you? So what?

Well, the first thing that popped into my head was, I guess guys don’t have a problem with how society portrays them. And honestly I don’t find that hard to believe, considering that society basically tells them that they can do no wrong. Men can be as sexually promiscuous as they want without detrimental effect on their reputations, men are not constantly asked when they are going to get married once they’ve surpassed the age of thirty, and generally even annoying and obnoxious men have friends (see Barney from “How I Met Your Mother”).

Men are expected to be into sports, be into sex, have great self-confidence, and no vulnerability. They are also stereotyped as being very sexually active and sexually driven. How come men in our society don’t feel as provoked to speak out against these cultural pressures as women do? Are they afraid of appearing emotional by creating controversy? Do they actually like being stuck in a social box? Men used to grow up focused on the end goal, having a job and a family of their own. Being respected used to be a priority, but now it’s all about being accepted. Then I got to thinking, was Ward Cleaver the male stereotype? Is this generation just attempting to throw off the shackles of the “Provider, Protector” image?

I don’t think I can really answer that (for one reason because I’m a girl), it seems like a viable answer. But really? Would men rather be perceived as sex-crazed, macho organisms that run off ego and beer or would they rather be respected, admired, and appreciated? Hopefully this post can generate some much needed conversation, because (obviously) I have a lot of questions and not so many answers.

I’m a Barbie girl, in the Barbie world….

I was not a Barbie girl (big surprise?) I had one left over from my sister, who I don’t think was a Barbie girl, either. But I had my very own Skipper, the little sister of Barbie. She had a flat chest; this, I remember.

I suppose because Barbie was so curvy, Skipper was so much more relateable to me as a gawky kid.

I have written several posts on toys. You can read them here, here, here and here.

Contemporary toys fascinate me, especially the ones that have a history. Have you noticed that toys have changed rather drastically? We seemed tougher as kids of the 1970s. This was my Slinky:

And this is the new Slinky:

Notice a difference? The new Slinky is made of plastic. Plastic! Ours was the original, made of metal—cut your fingers when you popped open the last ring. We also had this wonderful outdoor horror, the metal slide:

Do you know what this did to the back of your legs on a sunny day? I think I still carry the skin scars from my childhood. And now, children have this pleasure:

Not only is today’s playground apparatus non-heat inducing but now it comes in bright colors! I am most surprised by the differences in relation to gender. The Easy Bake Oven, for example, looked like this when I was a kid:

And is now produced as this:

In a generation of young foodies due to Top Chef, and an entire cable network geared toward food, I wonder why Hasbro has gendered this product so strongly, limiting cross-gender possibilities. They aren’t the only ones. Here is my Big Wheel from when I was a kid:

And now, we can purchase this for the stylin’ contemporary girl:

I can tell you this: I was a total tomboy when I was a kid. This Big Wheel would have never seen my butt in its seat. Sadly, I destroyed my original Big Wheel jumping ramps in the woods with Chris K, my childhood partner-in-crime. Even the game Cootie (remember?!) has taken a huge turn. This was my cootie, once built:

And this is the new and improved Cootie:


But no toy has made me turn my head as quickly as Barbie. Get this: here was my Barbie camper:

And here is today’s:

And my Barbie case:

And today:

This side-by-side comparison offers a fantastic comparison of the Barbie penthouse. If you notice, the contemporary penthouse has a hot tub. A hot tub? Really?

But I think this rattles me more than anything:

I’ll say it again: um…wtf?


classify this under the “you gotta be kidding me” category:

A boss in Norway has ordered all female staff to wear red bracelets during their periods – to explain why they are using the toilet more often. […] businesses were becoming obsessed with lost productivity due to employees spending too much time answering the call of nature.

Here is what I say to this:

Boss orders female staff to wear red bracelets when they are on their periods

Guest Blogger: Sarah Canavan

Dear Virgins,

How are you? Are you feeling sad? Lonely? Unfulfilled? Apparently, that’s what the world assumes you must be feeling. Because obviously any college student who has not yet lost their v-card must either be (a) waiting for marriage, (b) a nun, or (c) a failure at adulthood.

A friend at Boston University recently sent me a picture of this poster:

I admit, when I first got the picture, I thought it was pretty funny. Turns out, it’s a poster for a movie (although I don’t know which one—I’m a bad blogger, I know). But before I discovered that it was an advertisement for a movie, I started thinking about what the poster was really saying, particularly as it is posted on a college campus. It’s saying that being a virgin is bad. And, not only is it bad, but that if you are still a virgin by the time you get to college, there must be something wrong with you. And you must need help by calling toll free to 888-743-4335.

I’m not arguing for or against virginity. I have nothing whatsoever against people who choose to wait for marriage or choose to not. I think it’s a personal choice when and with whom you choose to have sex. However, my question is when did it become a bad thing to be a virgin? When did it go from a private personal choice to a public joke? Not too long ago it was a bad thing if you weren’t a virgin, and there are still plenty of examples in the media (and real life) in which girls are ridiculed, ostracized, and called sluts and whores because they choose to have sex.

But don’t overlook the fact that many of these constructions are specific to girls. I’m not exactly sure what guys’ take on virginity is, but I’d be willing to bet that being a virgin as a college guy is not nearly as accepted as being a virgin as a college girl—and it’s not all that accepted for girls to begin with… This raises all kinds of questions about why it’s worse for guys to be virgins, which I assume has something to do with masculinity. When we talk about virginity itself, we generally tend to talk about who we lost our virginity to, rather than just that we lost it. Taking a girl’s virginity is a big deal. And obviously we can’t bypass the language here. A man takes virginity. He takes it from her. It’s language of power and dominance. When girls talk about taking a guy’s virginity, we tend to say things that are more along the lines of, “it was his first time,” or we just don’t talk about it at all (because we would never want to emasculate you, guys).

This poster seems pretty gender-neutral to me, though, so it could be intended to be talking to either gender. Which means, as I said before, that college society labels virginity bad no matter who you are. But again, there are all kinds of contradictions. On this campus (and I’m guessing most other campuses), if you’re a virgin you’re a prude, but if you sleep around, you’re a slut. So which is it? Is it bad to keep your pants on, or take them off?

A Room of One’s Own*

Every time I teach any gender-related course in which feminism comes up in discussion, it is inevitable that a few students—both male and female—will vocalize an unwarranted need to continue any feminist activism. Because, these students argue, girls can do anything boys can do.

In theory, this is true. In practice . . . meh. Not so much.

If you are still arguing the point that men and women have achieved equal status (and many of you still are), you might want to consider this:

From Amy King at VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, “Best of 2009” tracks women’s efforts in publishing by breaking down the book awards and ‘best of’ lists of 2009 (originally posted at SheWrites).

Amazon: Top 100 Editor’s Picks 2009
77 Men
23 Women

Christian Science Monitor: Nonfiction
18 Men
4 Women

LA Times
16 Men
9 Women
19 Men
6 Women

Library Journal: 31 Titles
19 Men
10 Women

The National Book Awards
Fiction: 1 Man / 0 Women
Nonfiction: 1 Man / 0 Women
Poetry: 1 Man / 0 Women
Young People’s Literature: 1 Man / 0 Women

New York Times
43 Men
12 Women
Fiction and Poetry
25 Men
20 Women

Publishers Weekly
71 Men
29 Women
Top 10
10 Men
0 Women

Washington Post
69 Men
17 Women
57 Men
27 Women

The Nobel Prize for Literature: 1901 – 2009
91 Men
11 Women

The Pulitzer Prize
Biography or Autobiography, 1919 – 2009
63 Men
5 Women
Fiction 1948-2009
40 Men
16 Women
Nonfiction, 1962 – 2009
36 Men
11 Women
Poetry, 1950-2009
44 Men
16 Women

U.S. Poet Laureate, 1937-2009
36 Men
10 Women

* “In order for a woman to write fiction she must have two things, certainly: a room of her own (with key and lock) and enough money to support herself.” — Virgina Woolf

Women’s Collective Presents!

Monday, November 8p in the Geneva Room:

Guest Blogger: Marcela Melara

Busy Moms need Energy

What’s your 2:30 feeling like? If you’ve seen any 5-Hour Energy commercial, you know they all start the same… In this case, they are asking a busy mom. Her 2:30 feeling lasts all day sometimes because she is so tired. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, if you’re a working mom, which is certainly not uncommon, you need to something that will help you stay awake throughout the day (we, as college students, know this feeling just too well). Anyway, I don’t want to give away too much…

If you’re not really paying attention, this commercial seems like any other 5-Hour Energy commercial. But if you are, there are so many implications made in this commercial…

The very first thing we see, is the busy mom walking in with two full grocery bags. And the two boys in the background? Out of control. From the first couple seconds of this commercial we know she is a working mom that must deal with running the household and her job. Notice how she mentions she has two jobs: some kind of job (most likely an office job by how she’s dressed) and motherhood. It is implied that her second job is being a mom. What is this commercial saying about working mothers in the States?

This working mom is aware that she has to deal with so much stress on a daily basis, so she decides to take 5-Hour Energy shots that keep her alert and energized all day. Her husband had suggested this energy drink to her (coffee must have not been enough anymore…). Although she refused to follow his suggestion for some time, she has to admit that “for once he was right”.

Gee, I wonder why she declined her husband’s suggestion for such a long time. It’s not like he’s just sitting on the couch…
“I told you so…” Is that really all you have to say?! How about: “Oh honey, let me cook for you tonight” or “I went to get the groceries for you today”? What is this saying about women in marriage? What is this commercial saying about husbands?

Let’s just solve all our problems with energy drinks, how about that…

Well, I’M impressed.

This is pretty cool. This fall, Giorgia Boscolo becomes the first official female gondolier in Venice.

Boscolo learned how to navigate the Venetian canals from her father who has been a gondolier for 40 years. Kinda cool, being the first female, and all.

I mentioned that she’s the first female gondolier, right? Since 1094. Really.