Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Post-debate, Candy Crowley told CNN that she altered her position on the floor as moderator. She was supposed to sit, but she decided to stand. “I have a bad back,” she said. But there was another reason. Crowley watched Jim Lehrer and saw how he was seated lower down than the candidates. “He looked like he was in an orchestra pit,” she said. In that position, “You’re not on the same level.” She thought that made it harder for Lehrer to keep control of the debate.

There was so much internet chatter before the debate about how all the teeth were taken out of the moderator. Crowley didn’t let happen, in no small part because she took control of her pose.

Anyone who reads Reel Girl knows I spend a lot of time analyzing the poses of males and females, real and imagined, actors and politicians, kids and grown-ups.

Poses matter and women know this from a lifetime of being led into idiotic, submissive poses and watching the stupid, idiotic poses other women get led into. Crowley was alert, prepared, and took action when she had the power to alter her position. She kept control of the debate.

Nice job, Crowley, and thank you to three teen girls from New Jersey for advocating to get the first female moderator in 20 years to moderate a presidential debate.

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In 2013, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host the Golden Globes. Here’s the NY Daily News sub headline:

“The comedic duo will be taking over for Ricky Gervais, who manned the hosting duties for three years.”

Not sure if that humor is intended, but this hosting gig is a huge victory for women. Fey and Poehler will become the first female duo ever to host this high profile awards show.

Tina Fey is a pioneer. She was the first female head writer ever of “Saturday Night Live,” a notoriously male dominated show that launched the career of many high profile male comedians from John Belushi to Adam Sandler. Fey’s brilliant book, Bossypants, was a best-seller. One of my favorite sections was her beautiful prayer for her daughter. Like Fey, Amy Poehler is a groundbreaker as well; she’s funny, smart, beautiful, a mom, and the star of her own show. Even cooler, both women are…FRIENDS.

Winning this hosting job helps to repudiate ridiculous but persistent myths about women, mainly: (1) Women aren’t funny (2) “Pretty” women aren’t funny (3) Women aren’t friends (4) Women can’t work together (5) Moms aren’t high-profile, breadwinners, funny, smart, or sexy.


Tina Fey’s prayer for her daughter:

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be beautiful but not damaged, for it’s the damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with beer.

Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from acting but not all the way to finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes and not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the drums to the fiery rhythm of her own heart with the sinewy strength of her own arms, so she need not lie with drummers.

Grant her a rough patch from twelve to seventeen.Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, for childhood is short – a tiger flower blooming magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, that she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, for I will not have that shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. My mother did this for me once, she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a mental note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with your God eyes.



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“Look at the girl, she’s sticking her butt out!” said my daughter. She showed me this photo in a costumes catalog we just received in the mail.

(Sorry about the flash glare.) Technically, its her hip, but the point is the same: emphasis, pelvis.

Imagine the males standing like that. What do these poses communicate?

I’ve blogged quite a bit about sexism in superheroes and ass emphasis. This post on the Avengers has gotten about 700 shares. Check out the great art if you haven’t seen it yet. Why do poses for superheroes matter? Because heroes are heroes!

What are our kids being taught to idolize in females? Weird twitches?

And of course, sexist posing isn’t limited to the fantasy world. Look at this photo in this month’s Vanity Fair, a profile of MSNBC hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough (via Miss Representation/ Salon.)

Did you read that part about hosts on a news channel? Imagine these poses reversed. She’s up front. He’s in back, showing leg. What would your kids think about men and women if they saw this photo?

Salon writes:

the image tells the familiar story of a man who commands the attention of others and a woman who seeks only the attention of that man.

You’d think Catwoman would want to seek something more.

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The New York Times piece on gender-fluid kids reinforces so many stereotypes, I’ve got to go through them.

Let’s start with sentence #1:

The night before Susan and Rob allowed their son to go to preschool in a dress, they sent an e-mail to parents of his classmates. Alex, they wrote, “has been gender-fluid for as long as we can remember, and at the moment he is equally passionate about and identified with soccer players and princesses, superheroes and ballerinas (not to mention lava and unicorns, dinosaurs and glitter rainbows).”

Here, the writer, Ruth Padawer, sets up a series of stereotyped binary/ boy-girl opposites: soccer players and princesses, superheroes and ballerinas, lava and unicorns, dinosaurs and glitter rainbows. I waited for her to explore any reasons why our culture promotes this symbology. Unfortunately, I waited for the whole article.

Why are princesses considered to be the epitome of femininity? Could it, perhaps, have little do with with genes and everything to do with the fact that perpetuating the image of a passive, “pretty” female  is popular in a patriarchal culture? Just maybe?

A few more sentences down:

Some days at home he wears dresses, paints his fingernails and plays with dolls; other days, he roughhouses, rams his toys together or pretends to be Spider-Man.

Most kids on Planet Earth would paint their fingernails if they weren’t told and shown by grown-ups that it’s a “girl thing.” Nail polish has nothing to do with penises or vulvas or genes, or even anything as deep and profound as “”gender fluidity.” To kids, nail polish is art play, brushes and paint. That’s it. Oh, right, art is for girls. Unless you’re a famous artist whose paintings sell for the most possible amount of money. Then art is for boys.

On an email that Alex’s parents sent to his school:

Of course, had Alex been a girl who sometimes dressed or played in boyish ways, no e-mail to parents would have been necessary; no one would raise an eyebrow at a girl who likes throwing a football or wearing a Spider-Man T-shirt.

What? Does this writer have young daughters? Has Padawer heard about the boy’s baseball team from Our Lady of Sorrows that recently forfeited rather than play a girl? Or what about Katie, the girl who was bullied just because she brought her Star Wars lunch box, a “boy thing,” to school?  Does Padawer know Katie’s experience isn’t unusual? How rare it is to find a girl today who isn’t concerned that a Spider-Man shirt (or any superhero shirt or outfit) is boyish and that she’ll be teased if she wears it? My whole blog, Reel Girl, is about that “raised eyebrow.” Has Padawer seen summer’s blockbuster movie “The Avengers” with just one female to five male superheroes? The typical female/ male ratio? Or how “The Avengers” movie poster features the female’s ass? Think that might have something to do with why females care more than males about how their asses are going to look?  You can see the poster here along with the pantless Wonder Woman. Does Padawer get or care that our kids are surrounded by these kinds of images in movies and toys and diapers and posters every day? How can Padawer practically leave sexism out of a New York Times piece 8 pages long on gender?

First sentence of paragraph 3: (Yes, we’re only there.)

There have always been people who defy gender norms.

No way! You’re kidding me. Like women who wanted to vote? Women who didn’t faint in the street?

Moving on to page 2:

Gender-nonconforming behavior of girls, however, is rarely studied, in part because departures from traditional femininity are so pervasive and accepted.

Um, wrong again. Been to a clothing store for little kids recently? Ever tried to buy a onesie for a girl with a female pilot on it? Or a female doing anything adventurous? Check out Pigtail Pals, one of the few companies that dares to stray from “pervasive and accepted” femininity. One of the few. And we’re talking toddlers here.

The studies that do exist indicate that tomboys are somewhat more likely than gender-typical girls to become bisexual, lesbian or male-identified, but most become heterosexual women.

Is the writer really writing a piece on gender fluid kids and using the word “tomboy” without irony?

Next page:

Still, it was hard not to wonder what Alex meant when he said he felt like a “boy” or a “girl.” When he acted in stereotypically “girl” ways, was it because he liked “girl” things, so figured he must be a girl? Or did he feel in those moments “like a girl” (whatever that feels like) and then consolidate that identity by choosing toys, clothes and movements culturally ascribed to girls?

Hard not to wonder. Exactly! Finally, the writer wonders. But, not for long. Here’s the next sentence:

Whatever the reasoning, was his obsession with particular clothes really any different than that of legions of young girls who insist on dresses even when they’re impractical?

Once again, I’ve got to ask: Does Padawer have a young daughter? Legions of young girls “insist on dresses” because like all kids, they want attention. Sadly, girls get a tremendous amount of attention from grown-ups for how they look. Today, my three year old daughter wanted to wear a princess dress to preschool, because she knew that if she did, the parents and teachers would say, “Wow, you’re so pretty! I love your dress.” And if it’s not a girl’s dress everyone focuses on, it could be her hair, or perhaps her shoes which are probably glittery or shiny or have giant flowers on them because that’s what they sell at Target and Stride Rite. Unfortunately, focusing on appearance is how most adults today make small talk with three year old girls.

The next two graphs are the best in the article so I will paste them in full, though notice the use of “tomboy” again with no irony.

Whatever biology’s influence, expressions of masculinity and femininity are culturally and historically specific. In the 19th century, both boys and girls often wore dresses and long hair until they were 7. Colors weren’t gendered consistently. At times pink was considered a strong, and therefore masculine, color, while blue was considered delicate. Children’s clothes for both sexes included lace, ruffles, flowers and kittens. That started to change in the early 20th century, writes Jo Paoletti, a professor of American studies at the University of Maryland and author of “Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys From the Girls in America.” By then, some psychologists were arguing that boys who identified too closely with their mothers would become homosexuals. At the same time, suffragists were pushing for women’s advancement. In response to these threatening social shifts, clothes changed to differentiate boys from their mothers and from girls in general. By the 1940s, dainty trimming had been purged from boys’ clothing. So had much of the color spectrum.

Women, meanwhile, took to wearing pants, working outside the home and playing a wider array of sports. Domains once exclusively masculine became more neutral territory, especially for prepubescent girls, and the idea of a girl behaving “like a boy” lost its stigma. A 1998 study in the academic journal Sex Roles suggests just how ordinary it has become for girls to exist in the middle space: it found that 46 percent of senior citizens, 69 percent of baby boomers and 77 percent of Gen-X women reported having been tomboys.

The piece is riddled with more gender assumptions that aren’t questioned.

When Jose was a toddler, his father, Anthony, accepted his son’s gender fluidity, even agreeing to play “beauty shop.”

But why is beauty shop feminine? We all know beauty toys and products are marketed to girls, but why? Here’s that Avengers ass poster again. In a male dominated world, women are valued primarily for their appearance. They are taught to focus on how they look and that if they do so they can get power and prestige. Appearance is the area where girls are trained to channel their ambition and competition. Oh, sorry, girls aren’t competitive or ambitious. That’s a boy thing.

On gender fluid child, P.J., the author writes:

Most of the time, he chooses pants that are pink or purple.

Wait a minute, didn’t she write a few pages back about Jo Poletti’s book Pink and Blue? Remember, pink used to be a “boy” color; it’s only recently that it’s perceived as a “girl” color?

Here might be the most fucked up quote:

When a boy wants to act like a girl, it subconsciously shakes our foundation, because why would someone want to be the lesser gender?

When Miss Representation posted that on its Facebook page  above the link to the the article, angry commenters immediately began to respond:

i am NOT the lesser gender!
why can’t people see how insulting that is? i mean, who would *openly* call a race or ability or sexual orientation “lesser” and not largely be considered a bigot?

It was that comment that inspired me to write this post, because the whole piece is insulting to girls and women. I hope it’s insulting to boys and men as well.

Read my email to the New York Times editor here.

Read my response to comments on this post here.

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You will not believe what the New York Times is reporting today!

“Girls’ toys are often about beauty and the home, while toys for boys are mostly about being active, building things and having adventures,” said Laura Nelson, a neuroscientist who led the campaign against Hamleys last year and runs Breakthrough, a project combating stereotyping in schools. “Gender-specific color-coding influences the activities children choose, the skills they build and ultimately the roles they take in society.”

The post goes into stats about pay equity and gender segregation in the professions. Right here is basically the whole reason why I started Reel Girl: the sexism in kidworld is so blatant, so offensive, so pernicious and yet, happily accepted and celebrated by smart, educated, progressive parents who carefully teach their kids how to separate garbage.

I would go on, but I’m really trying (REALLY TRYING) not to blog for one more month, and I have a couple more links I need to tell you about.

Another tale of misled parenting: a bullied teen is receiving free plastic surgery from a non-profit.

Think there’s a non-profit out there to help teen girls with low self-esteem by providing free breast enhancements?

The problem is the bully, not the kid! The bully, not the kid.

One more for you on the Jonah Lehrer plagarism scandal. In my opinion, The New Yorker is being silly-indignant by getting on Lehrer for “self-plagarism” (is that even a real term?)

All blogs are repetitive; they are more like speaking than print writing.

That said, making up and cutting and splicing Bob Dylan quotes in a digital age, when they can be fact-checked by anyone in 2 seconds, is kind of amazing.

Salon.com has a great piece on how the Lehrer phenomenon was allowed to happen, how it has in the past and will again, largely because of the role the media plays in creating and perpetuating the “boy-genius” myth.

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Julia Bluhm is 14 years old. Sick of seeing photo and after photo of teens photoshopped in Seventeen Magazine, she started an on line petition asking the magazine to feature just one authentic picture a month.

Yesterday, Bluhm took her petition and its going on 50,000 signatures to Seventeen’s office in New York City. Though Seventeen met with Julia, they refused to grant her request. Here is what the magazine had to say about Julia’s petition:

We’re proud of Julia for being so passionate about an issue — it’s exactly the kind of attitude we encourage in our readers — so we invited her to our office to meet with editor in chief Ann Shoket this morning. They had a great discussion, and we believe that Julia left understanding that Seventeen celebrates girls for being their authentic selves, and that’s how we present them. We feature real girls in our pages and there is no other magazine that highlights such a diversity of size, shape, skin tone and ethnicity.

In other words:

We met with the kid, OK? Please get off our backs and let us get out of this PR mess as gracefully as possible.

Listen, it may not seem like a big request, but if Seventeen published one un-photoshoped picture of a teen per month, it would be pretty obvious that all of the other photos in our magazine are photoshopped.

If SeventeenMagazine made girls that aware that they are aspiring to look like the non-humans who the magazine celebrates, our readers might be less inclined to purchase all of the fine make-up, hair products, and clothing advertised in the pages of our magazine.

Unfortunately for Julia and all teen girls, those advertising dollars keep our photoshopped magazine on the racks and pay our salaries.

No other major magazines are refusing to feature one regularly un-photoshopped picture, why should we? Just because our audience is teens? That’s not fair!

If Seventeen took the risk of showing actual girls in our magazine for girls, we risk coming off not as glamorous as our competitor fashion magazines. We are in the business of selling glamor for goodness sake. Again, the more unattainable that glamor is, the more likely girls are to feel insecure, the more likely they are to believe that they need to spend money on the products we’re selling. Get it now?

Sorry, Julia, but we need girls to stay quiet, obedient, and obsessed with their appearance. It’s good for business.

Please do not buy Seventeen’s September issue. Please share and Tweet this info, use hashtag #notbuyingSept17.

Also, please keep signing Julia’s petition. Even better, ask your daughters and sons if they want to sign too.

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Hours ago, I posted about the pathetic stats for women in power positions.

I wrote about this because I received yet another comment on my blog about how females have achieved parity and males are the ones in trouble. The stats behind this argument is that girls are half or soon to be half of students in law, medical school, art school, engineering, business etc.

One more time: women’s education is not translating to equal pay and equal professional status.

OK, here’s the new Time Magazine cover:

So why is this cover claiming women are “The Richer Sex” coming out right when America seems to be finally catching on that women’s rights are under attack?


People will see this cover, without even reading the story, as I haven’t yet, and conclude everything is fabulous for women. It’s not. Stats at the top have not changed for women. People in power across the board– business, politics, media, doctors, law, art– are men.

The spin on this article is pretty brilliant. From the cover, you can tell it’s not going to be that “women are achieving so much, so fast that males are the ones who need support.” No, it’s going to be that “women are achieving so much so fast, getting so very rich, becoming richer than men, and that’s good for men!” That way, feminists are supposed to be grateful for Time’s piece and somehow not notice that a national news magazine’s cover is actually referring to women as the richer sex. WTF?

I will read this article and see why the cover reads: “Women are overtaking men as America’s breadwinners” because right now I say BULLSHIT! There you have it in writing.

I’ll report back.

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That’s the caption for an Elizabeth Arden ad I saw in O Magazine. Here it is:

I know there’s hardly any point in getting pissed off about sexist ads from cosmetic companies, but the mom being “beautiful” gives her daughter something to look forward to?

Are you kidding me?

What really drives me crazy about this fucked up commercial is that we get all pissed off and holier than thou about moms who put their daughters in beauty pageants or shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras.” This ad from Elizabeth Arden in a mainstream magazine sends the exact same message: mothers and daughters are connected by a mutual obsession with beauty, and beauty will lead them both to success and adventure.

The difference between “Toddlers and Tiaras” and this Elizabeth Arden ad? Class. Moms with money may buy expensive cream. Moms with less money may put their kids in beauty pageants. Getting upset by one and not the other is like saying you’re not an alcoholic as long as you drink aged scotch or expensive wine. We owe our children more than this.

Elizabeth Arden, my daughters have more to look forward to than being “beautiful.” Please leave my kids out of your stupid commercial.

If you agree and are offended by this ad, please tell Elizabeth Arden on its Facebook page.

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Until early this year, there was just one lone female M & M. The green one.

Then just before the Superbowl Time Magazine reported on the debut of another, bringing the female-male ratio to 1: 3:

“M&Ms already has characters based on the other colors in its candy rainbow (red, yellow, blue, orange and green), but until now the candy has gone largely male-centric. Green has been the lone female. Brown will join her, with high heels in full view.”

I suppose we grateful she’s not Mrs. Brown and that she’s wearing glasses. I hope with those pumps that it’s before Labor day.

Unfortunately, M & Ms are just another product where female characters are not only sexualized but presented as a minority.

Here’s a Goldfish package from Pepperidge Farm showing three males and one female.

Here’s a new set of LEGO minifigs. Harley Quinn, on the far left and not shown in her underwear is also female, making the ratio four males to two females. In the whole set, I count three times as many males as females.

In her film, Miss Representation, Jennifer Siebel Newsom argues that there’s a connection between sexualized images of women in the media and lack of women in power positions.

I agree with this, but it goes beyond sexualized images. It’s images at all. The imaginary world has done something really scary. Females are 51% of the population, but in cartoon images marketed to kids, except for the pink ghetto, females are presented as a minority. This illusion is dangerous, because it normalizes the lack of females. We expect it and accept it.

We’ve become so used to seeing females presented as a minority that we hardly notice it anymore. We don’t question it. Even worse, our kids don’t.

Look at this poster for “Arthur Christmas:”

It’s typical of movies made for kids for males to star and also to represent the majority of characters.

The lack of female characters exists in most products marketed to kids whether its toy characters, cereal boxes, or animated films.

Here are some stats from the Geena Davis Institute on the lack of girls in animated films. Here is Reel Girl’s Gallery on Girl Gone Missing From Kids Movies in 2011.

Do you think the lack of female imaginary characters could have anything to do with what Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg calls the aspiration or ambition gap between boys and girls?

The other place in America besides the imaginary world where females truly are a minority? Leadership positions. In almost all professions in the top positions, women don’t make it past 16%. Here are stats on that.

Could the lack of females in these two worlds be connected?

Why do you think in imaginary worlds created for kids– worlds populated by singing lions who befriend warthogs, rats who cook, and toys who come to life, worlds where anything should be possible– females are restricted to a minority? Why does the lack of females in the imaginary world, of all places, reflect the same lack of females as in power positions? How do you think this gender gap affecting kids imaginations and aspirations? Why are we allowing this gender gap to happen?

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CNN.com reports today on Jennifer Siebel Newsom and her film Miss Representation:

Here’s the fantasy: A half-naked women lies across a couch, lips pouty and cleavage prominent as her sultry gaze implores you to buy this bottle of perfume.

The reality: Women make up 51% of the United States yet only 17% of seats in the House of Representatives. They’re 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 7% of directors in the top 250 grossing films.

What’s the connection? We live in a sexualized society where the gap between fantasy and reality is vast and harmful, director and activist Jennifer Siebel-Newsom says.

“Women are aspiring to do great things in leadership, yet the glass ceiling is still there because of the way media depict women,” Siebel-Newsom said. “It influences our culture and dictates our gender norms and values.”

Read the rest here.

Think about all of the sexualized images of females in animated movies for kids like Cutlass Liz from the upcoming “Pirates! Band of Misfits.”

Male characters in kids movies almost always outnumber female characters. These films are also often titled for the male protagonist. Watching an animated movie is kind of like First Lady training for girls: learn how to play the supporting role and cheer on the real star!  Often, females have gone missing from kids media all together as with many of the posters advertising animated movies from 2011.

How do you think these images and narratives are influencing a generation of future leaders?

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