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Archive for the ‘Most stereotyping *SSS*’ Category

blue milk blogger saw her three year son watching the Australian animated show for toddlers “Bananas in Pyjamas.” She blogs:

I was so bewildered by it that I ended up watching the whole episode again on iview to be sure about what I was seeing.”

In the series, there are two banana adult figures and three bears, 2 girls and 1 boy, all friends. In the episode blue milk saw, the boy bear buys a Super Bear costume and then causes all sorts of trouble, getting caught up in his imagination and believing he really is a superhero. The bananas try to help out a little, but don’t get too involved, knowing they get to return home soon. So the clean up is left to the girl bears.

blue milk goes on:

Tellingly, the little girl bears deal with these problems in a way that doesn’t involve Super Bear having to know about it because he would only cause more mess if he tried to help and because they do not want to hurt his dignity or spoil his fun. Worse still, his fun interrupts their own fun and plans and when they express some irritation about it all the Bananas encourage them to be careful not to ruin the boy bear’s illusion of himself as a superhero. It wouldn’t have particularly disturbed me as a story if it was about a parent or uncle cleaning up after the little boy teddy bear…But the sight of two little girls doing the cleaning up and taking care of, instead of  having fun and adventures themselves? And the idea that the little boy got to experience the thrill of danger while the little girls got to worry about him? It all struck me as so, so wrong.”

First of all, I am amazed, once again, though I know I shouldn’t be, how universal sexism in kidworld is. It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid in Australia or a kid in the USA, if it’s PBS or Disney, if it’s a movie or TV: except for the Minority Feisty, boys will be boys and girls will clean up.

The TV show blue milk describes really irks me because my whole blog, Reel Girl, is about protecting the imagination of children (and hopefully, eventually, the adults they grown into.) I guess you could look at this episode as enlightening: Look, this is just what happens in real life. Males are encouraged and supported by the world to imagine and act; females are not. But somehow, I suspect three year old children don’t get irony.

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My three year old dressed up as Batgirl for Halloween last night. She loves Batgirl. Everytime she puts on the costume, which is often, she acts out complicated stories, usually involving several stuffed animals, about how she is saving the world. Before last night, my daughter had no idea that Batgirl is far less famous or celebrated than Batman.

Here is what happened on Halloween:

Adult after adult, kind adults who wanted to be nice, who gave my daughter candy, called her Batman. At first, my daughter said nothing back to them but asked me: “Why do people keep calling me Batman?” I told her: “That is so silly. What are they thinking? You’re not Batman, you’re Batgirl.” As the man-moniker continued, my daughter quietly corrected them: “I’m Batgirl.” By the end of the night, she was shouting; “I’M BATGIRL!”

Sometimes, we’d run into a Batman, at one point an adult distributing candy. After his wife or girlfriend saw my daughter, called her Batman, and was corrected, she said to her partner: “Look! It’s your sidekick!” My daughter turned to me, confused. “Tell him he’s your sidekick,” I said.

The people who called my daughter Batman were men and women, adults and children, parents and teenagers. She was wearing a dress, by the way.

I know Batgirl doesn’t have five major motion pictures about her, all featuring famous movie stars. There aren’t Batgirl toys or Batgirl clothing or Batgirl comic books everywhere you look. (Today, I will do a Google search and try to find some). One person did say to my daughter: “Are you…Batwoman?” Then she laughed. I wondered why that term sounded so strange. Is there a Batwoman? Is “Batwoman” sexualized somehow? Or would “woman” imply too powerful a superhero, is that why we use “girl?” Or is it the opposite: “girl” and “man” are cool, but “woman” represents a loss of power that even little kids pick up on? Would you ever refer to a kid in the comparable costume as “Batboy?” That sounds diminutive to me.  And what does that say about the sexism of our cultural mythology, that “Batgirl” is empowering but “Batboy” is insulting?

It all kind of makes me understand the monotony of Halloween: If you’re a girl and dress as princess, everything is simple and everyone knows just what to say: “I love the dress. You’re so beautiful!”

(My oldest daughter wanted to dress as a Native American because she’s doing a school paper on the Miwok tribe. Instead of being a “Dream Catcher Cutie” as the package advertised, she asked if I would buy a bow to go with her costume; my middle daughter is a fairy.)

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And you know what is so amazingly fucked up about this? All of the “Sesame Street” sexy costumes for women ((Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch) are male characters, because all of the best known characters on Sesame Street — a PBS show created to educate children— are male. I guess I should be grateful no one’s heard of Abby Cadabby. Or Elmo’s fish, Dorothy.

From Geeklogie.com:

So It’s Come To This: Sexy Sesame Street Costumes

sexy-bert-and-ernie-costume.jpg

Because some people believe every costume should be available in a sexy version, Yandy is selling these sexy Sesame Street costumes for ladies. They come in Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch versions, and all are pretty sad looking. Regardless of how you feel about them, if you’re at a Halloween bar party and a girl shows up wearing one because it’s her favorite character you need to tell a bouncer because there is NO WAY she’s legal.

Read and see the rest here.

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Yesterday was picture day at my children’s school and, according to my kids, the girls were told to tilt their heads while boys were told to sit up straight.

Why is posing for school pictures an issue we ought to care about?

First of all, why is a kid taught to position her head according to what gender she is? How stupid is that?

Secondly, the classic female head tilt is one of the most annoying qualities of the ubiquitous, submissive princess. In coloring books, toy figures, and on diapers, female figures are most often positioned smiling, eyes lowered, and head tilted.

Imagine you are standing next to someone you love and admire, and that person is giving an important talk. How might you pose? Smiling with a head tilt? That would show you are attentive, supportive, and proud of him. Classic First Lady.

Now if you were the speaker delivering the talk, how might you pose? We’ve made those power positions into figures of speech: “Chin up!” or “Hold your head high” and even “Looking down your nose at someone.” That would be the opposite of a head tilt.

Say you’re Ann Romney and you’ve got to make a speech at the Republican convention. How might you pose to show how grateful, sweet, and non-threatening you still are?

Can you imagine Mitt doing this?

On Reel Girl, I’ve posted about gendered posing from the art of Edouard Manet to Wonder Woman. Ever wonder where our kids get trained to stand like a girl or a boy, besides by museums, toys, and politicians? Apparently, authority figures in America’s schools.

Update: I communicated with my kids’ school and was told by the principal that boys and adults were included in the head tilt, that he was asked to tilt his head ‘ever so slightly,’ but appreciates my concern, and will talk to them about it.

I’m psyched he got back to me right away and is talking to them about it. From what I heard from my kids, it wasn’t a slight head tilt, more like the princess kind, and they were telling me about the individual, not group, photos. Here is the web site from the photoform. What do you think of these images? (After you click, wait a second for them to come up)

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Slate reports on moms who are shelling out thousands of dollars to gender select girl babies in order to “balance families.”  Here’s a typical reason why moms want girls: “I’m not into sports. I’m not into violent games. I’m not into a lot of things boys represent and boys do…”

So what happens when your girl baby becomes a soccer star? Should she get a sex change operation?

WTF? This is Target’s gender segregated Jim Crow toy aisles run amuck.

Rebecca Traister tweets:

Do these moms know that not all of their daughters will like pink princesses and that some of their sons will?

Slate reports:

Gender selection now rakes in revenues of at least $100 million every year. The average cost of a gender selection procedure at high-profile clinics is about $18,000, and an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 procedures are performed every year. Fertility doctors foresee an explosion in sex-selection procedures on the horizon, as couples become accustomed to the idea that they can pay to beget children of the gender they prefer. Why not see who your kid grows up to be instead of deciding her personality for her? Can you try that, parents?

If this gender selection really happens, if parents promoting gender stereotypes are backed up and supported by the medical establishment, America is going to have a generation of confused, unhappy children.

Why not see who your child grows up to be instead of trying your hardest to decide all that for her? Can you try that, parents?

This blog, Reel Girl, is dedicated to imagining gender equality in the fantasy world. There isn’t a mom out there who hasn’t fantasized about who her baby is going be when she grows up. But what if moms tried harder, while doing all that fantasizing, to be a little more creative in what they imagine? I know it can be challenging when we’re surrounded by art, books, films, TV, science, and stores that relentlessly promote gender stereotypes. But what if moms, for example, instead of worrying that their kids might turn out gay, worked to create a world that treats gay people more fairly? Your kid is going to be who she is going to be, right? The best we can do is support them and help to provide real choices for them as their destiny unravels. If moms could truly imagine gender equality in the fantasy world, let it exist in our own heads, I have no doubt, we would change the world. And maybe that’s why it’s so scary to even try.

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Miss Representation posted this collage of GQ’s men and woman of the year.

You know what these absurdly sexist covers remind me of?

“Picnic in the Grass” by Edouard Manet.

I just saw this painting at the Musee D’Orsay in July when I was visiting Paris with my eight year old daughter. She asked me why the men were dressed and the woman was naked.

Here’s Miss Representation’s answer:

On the multiple covers of their latest issue, all of GQ’s “men of the year” are dressed exactly the same, while their singular “woman of the year” – singer Lana Del Rey – is not dressed at all. The implication is that the men here are valuable for something beyond what they look like (since they are all presented almost identically), but that the woman is valuable only for what she looks like (since she is visually presented so differently from the others).

Manet’s painting was completed in 1863. We’ve been looking at this same old image of dressed men and naked women for years before and years since. We’ve been looking at it for so long, it seems normal to everyone except for crazy feminists or little kids.

It’s only “normal” because throughout history, there haven’t been enough recognized women artists. In 2012, there aren’t enough women on magazine covers who are celebrated for their achievements and not “beauty.” Lana Del Rey, by the way, is a singer. Do you think that if she’d refused to pose naked, GQ would let her on the cover? Or would GQ’s response be more like Vanity Fair’s when Rachel McAdams wouldn’t shed her clothes for that magazine’s cover? There’s Scarlett Johanssen and Keira Knightley, but McAdams went missing.

That naked woman in Manet’s painting? Her name is Victorine Louise Meurent. Besides being Manet’s favorite model, she was also an artist. She had a self-portrait at the 1876 Salon when Manet’s submission was rejected. Ever heard of her? She died an alcoholic, in poverty.

And Manet? We’re still imitating him on the cover of GQ. It’s time for a change, a little more originality, please. Isn’t that what art is supposed to celebrate, after all?

The year is 2012. Women shouldn’t have to get naked in order to get acclaim. Please Tweet GQ Magazine that you’re NotBuyingIt. Do it for your daughters.

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And other times, it’s a penis.

I meant to post about this August cover of Newsweek cover a while ago. A new post on Miss Representation on women women suing Newsweek (not for this) reminded me.

How does it feel to be a female journalist at a place where, on August 8, you saw this image everywhere you turned? I mean, seriously, a newsweekly? The newsweekly, I guess, they are trying to tell us by the name of this rag. Obviously a name change is in order. Any suggestions?

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Movie titled for its male protagonist? Check. Male/ female ratio 4:1 (mirrored by monsters/ dead people)? Check. Lone female sexualized? Check.

Girls make up half of the population of children, so why does Hollywood present them as a sexualized minority in movies for kids?

 Update to commenters: Nothing in the plot of this movie changes the sexualization of the female character. Or justifies that sexism for some greater good. Please don’t fall for Hollywood’s m.o. that there’s “a good reason” to marginalize females in animated movies. There isn’t. Sexism is not required for plot or humor, because “there are no female pirates in history” or original versions of adapted stories are sexist. In “Ratatouille” there’s only one female chef to four males, because that’s just how it is in the real world. Huh? It’s okay to make a movie about a rat who can cook but too many female chefs would be unbelievable?

Don’t read comments if you don’t want spoilers.

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I emailed this to the editor of the New York Times piece “What’s So Bad About a Boy Who Wants to Wear a Dress” today, though so far the New York Times email isn’t working for me and the one I made up, last name @nytimes.com isn’t working for me either. I emailed something similar to the “corrections” department yesterday, which you send in the same way you post a comment.

Dear Ms. Titunik,

In the New York Times post “What’s So Bad About A Boy Who Wants To Wear A Dress,” journalist Ruth Padawer writes:

“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.”

Kids and adults do much more than “raise an eyebrow” when young girls stray from gender norms. Stories that received a great deal of media attention about pressuring  girls include Katie, the girl who was bullied for bringing her beloved Star Wars lunch box to school, “a boy thing;” and more recently, Our Lady of Sorrows baseball team forfeited a championship rather than play a girl. You can find the links to those stories on my blog Reel Girl which I created, as the mom of three young daughters, in response to that “raised eyebrow.”

As in those two stories above, the pressure for girls to conform often comes through bullying, but it can also be more subtle as well. That subtlety makes the sexism more insidious and harder to call out and change. For the New York Times to print “no one would raise an eyebrow at a girl who likes throwing a football or wearing a Spider-Man T-shirt,” in a story about gender no less, is untrue and irresponsible.

Margot Magowan
Reel Girl

The reason this is so important to me is because the gendering of childhood is everywhere.

Just today A Mighty Girl posted about boy and girl magnets/ words:

All we can say to this one is WOW — in case girls and boys had any confusion as to what their appropriate interests should be, these gender-divided magnet sets will help clarify matters. According to this toy manufacturer, “boy words” include bike, swinging, forest, caterpillar and swimming while “girl worlds” include lipstick, jewels, clothes, glitter and dancing. How very limiting for both girls and boys!

Children are segregated; without recognizing the Jim Crow in kidworld, it’s impossible to have a real discussion about gender.

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I’ve had an amazing three weeks writing my Middle Grade book. The break from blogging has been productive but painful. I love to blog! What did I miss?

Lots! I could blog for hours, but because I’m still in Fairyland mode (and need to stay there) I’m going to cut it down to a low point and a high point:

Have you seen DC Comic’s new Catwoman cover? (Via GeekMom)

How can Catwoman fight anyone with her ass in the air like that?

This Catwoman cover is reminiscent of artist Kevin Bolk’s spoof on “The Avengers” if the males posed like the female. Notice the plural and singular nouns there. I posted Bolk’s art on my blog a few weeks ago. Here’s the picture again:

The good news is my post of Bolk’s art got about 400 shares. Maybe the sexism is becoming more obvious to people? Though how could it not?

What fascinates me about the ass-female-superhero-obsession is that that unlike breasts, every human has an ass. Therefore the argument– ridiculous anyway– that men’s and women’s bodies are different and that’s the only reason why women get so sexualized– doesn’t hold here.

It’s pathetically ironic too that these heroes are supposed to be fighting for justice. I guess, as with so many advocates for freedom– including Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and JFK– gender equality isn’t high on the list.

On a positive note, I LOVE seeing the pictures of Merida all over San Francisco! I have bought several “Brave” books already, and to those of you who think kids aren’t influenced by media imagery, I found my eight year old making a series of drawings. Here’s one of my favorites:

Remember, art creates reality and reality creates art in an endless loop. Phases aren’t outgrown, they mutate. So, please take your kids to this movie starring a powerful female. Take your sons and daughters! See it twice. I hope this film makes money. I’ll be out of the country when it comes out but it’s first on my to do list when I get back.

One more blog coming on Erica Jong’s book Sugar in My Bowl.

Hope you are having a great summer and please keep using my FB page to post and comment.


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