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Posts Tagged ‘sexism’

I was always kind of bored by the Flintstones when I was a kid, but the episodes where Pebbles came on were my favorite. As were the episodes with Tabitha, Samantha’s daughter on Bewitched. Probably because I was a kid and a girl and I liked seeing a kid and a girl on TV. Remember Pebbles? Fred and Wilma’s kid?

Well, guess what: She’s gone missing from her eponymous cereal. No kidding. It’s all Fred and Barney. Do you know how hard it is for a girl to get a cereal named after her? And then no picture? WTF?

I know what you’re thinking. Cocoa Pebbles is bad for you anyway. Who cares? But this is fucked up. Kids study these boxes.

The only female represented on all four sides of this box is one small picture of Wilma. She’s not in the games or activities section either. She’s not doing anything remotely fun or cool. Unlike Fred and Barney, she’s not driving  a car. I suppose women in the Stone Age couldn’t drive.

What’s Wilma doing in her little pictture? She’s pouring milk above a caption that reads: “Are your kids getting enough Vitamin D?”   See her there above the advertisement for no less than four products starring with Fred? I guess the moms are supposed to relate, but what about the kids? The female kids.

Why is Pebbles missing? Where has she gone?

Cereal boxes are yet another way the media tells kids: males are important, females are invisible.

And let’s not forget that the Flintstones is derived from The Honeymooners. All these shows, all these narratives about women and men and the roles they are supposed to play are in life are showing up to teach our kids in 2012.

Read more about gendering cereal.

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I am reposting with art for those who argue “Tintin in the Congo” is not racist. Also, one more time: the point is that the lack of female roles in the Tintin movie’s cast is consistent with most of the movies made for kids today. Girls have gone missing in kids’ movies and that means that both genders learn that boys are more important than girls. Parents, this is not okay. If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.

Commenters are defending the Tintin movie, writing that creator Herge’s sexism was simply a product of his times.

Margot, you are aware that Hergé wrote most of his comic books (including the three on which the film is based) before WWII, at a time when women in his home country of Belgium as in many others didn’t even have the right to vote? Of course his work reflects the prejudices of that era, not only towards women but towards just about everyone who wasn’t a white Christian male (the most egregious example being Tintin in the Congo)!

Would Steven Spielberg adapt Herge’s racist views (“of his times”) expressed in Tintin in the Congoto make a movie in 2012 and market that movie to kids?

Of course not. No one would see it. People would be horrified. Herge’s racist views are universally recognized as the aberration that they are. Why is Herge’s “dated” sexism celebrated in a loyal adaptation from one of our most acclaimed directors?

There are two answers, both are true. The first one is that in 2012 sexism is, in many ways, just as accepted and “normal” as it was in 1932. Women are humiliated and degraded all the time, but while racism is seen as a political issue, sexism is still seen as a “cultural” one.

The second, less controversial explanation is that in Herge’s comics, he directly degrades and humiliates Africans whereas his sexism mostly manifests as an omission. His racism is worse. Herge believes women have no place in his imaginary world. Is that offensive? Is it even sexist?

It’s an annihilation.

What is remarkable about this annihilation, and what I was writing about, is that it’s consistent with the casts of most animated movies made today. A story originally created by an artist who spoke openly of how he didn’t think females should be included in his imaginary world is almost indistinguishable from the majority of films made for kids right now. Steven Spielberg probably didn’t even notice.

What does that say about how important we think girls are?

See Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing from Kids Films in 2011.

See statistics on the lack of females in animated films from the Geena Davis Insititute on Gender and Media.

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Real women are becoming an endangered species.

Click here to see the digital transformation of Faith Hill

Identify Photoshopping when you see itMargot Magowan 

Identify Photoshopping when you see it

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Yesterday, The New York Times reported on an exciting, potential political candidate with a stellar resume. Which of these two photos do you think appeared on the paper’s front page?

Diana Taylor and Michael Bloomberghttp://www.nytimes.com 

Diana Taylor’s career began as an investment banker with Smith Barney; she then became superintendent of banking under Gov Pataki, emerging as a prescient watchdog who predicted the mortgage crisis; she was chair of Action, a leading microfinance lender which has distributed more than 23 million worldwide, and since last July, has been a member of the board of directors of Citigroup.

But New York Times readers don’t learn any of this information about Taylor’s credentials on the front page of the paper. Reading through this muddled article, whenever I found an actual fact on Taylor’s career, I felt the kind of joy of discovery I see my on my kids faces during a scavenger hunt.

It’s not only the cover photo of Taylor in evening wear with her boyfriend, the Mayor of New York, along with the late placement of her substantial qualifications, but the language of the article that continually sexualizes and trivializes Taylor’s ambition and her candidacy.

The headline reads: “She has the Mayor by her Side, But Politics is Wooing Her, Too.” When has politics ever “wooed” a male candidate? When considering a senatorial bid a few years ago, this dreamy lady “muses” what kind of “relationship” she’d have with then senator Chuck Schumer. Bill Paxon, former congressman, recalls a “previously undisclosed meeting…at the Ritz Carlton hotel,” but details of Taylor’s “flirtation” with the senate run have “remained hidden.” Is this a story about a tryst or a political career?

When The Times finally gets to reporting on Taylor’s professional history, page A-3, she “mixes” with global leaders, sounding as if she were flitting about various soirees. Describing her position as chair of Action, there is no quote from Taylor from that time, but instead rockstar, Bono, saying: “Diana, you know how I feel about you. But don’t tell the mayor.”

Isn’t the New York Times supposed to be a bastion of the liberal media elite and sensitive to sexism? I guess when it comes to reporting on women, the only party that matters is the kind you dress up for and running for office is just like dating.

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Too often, sexism is invisible to us, whether it’s too geographically distant or we’ve just become immune to witnessing women treated like objects instead of like humans. In 2010, naming the enemy is half the battle.

Rumplestiltskin Campaign

In her new book Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert used a Rumpelstiltskin simile applicable here. The story of Rumpelstiltskin is about a girl forced into slavery; she must spin straw into gold. She will only be freed when she can name one of her captors. When she discovers his name and calls it out, he loses all his power and must set her free. Gilbert wrote, “Some fears can be vanquished, Rumpelstiltskin-like, only by uncovering their hidden, secret names.”

I’ve launched The Rumpelstiltskin Campaign: sEXISTs EXIST. Post news about sexism, when and where you see it, on ReelGirl. Photos welcome. The campaign won’t end sexism, but it’s a crucial step towards setting us free.

Email me your info if you want stickers or T-shirts. T-shirts come in all sizes and baby dolls $25 each. A percentage of proceeds goes to The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, an organization I cofounded to train young women to be leaders and change agents.

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For those of you who think I am pro-censorship, I’m posting something I wrote years ago about Eminem. I wrote this when I was talk radio producer for KGO and the male radio hosts were upset about Eminem’s lyrics.

I am more into parent education than I was when I wrote this. Though then and now, I didn’t think Eminem was good for little kids. What annoyed me so much back then is the same thing as today– protestors who normally don’t care much about sexism or women focusing on the wrong issue, the way Eminem described inequality instead of actual inequality. I remain passionately committed to helping women get into a position where they can tell their own stories.

This op-ed is from sfgate.com. I hope its not illegal to post the whole thing but I can’t believe they’d really care. Here it is.

‘I prefer my misogyny straight up’
MARGOT MAGOWAN
Wednesday, July 12, 2000

I LIKE hip-hop music. I know I’m not supposed to because so many of the songs have horrifyingly violent, sexist or homophobic lyrics.

Hip-hop is also the most innovative thing to happen to music in a long time.

When you compare hip-hop to its biggest rival for domination of the music charts – the corporate-created Backstreet Boys and N’Sync, and pop-princess clones Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera – rappers/producers like Dr. Dre and Method Man are infinitely more talented. Hip-hop is captivating precisely because it tells a story, overlaying lyrics on top of familiar backbeats, creating songs that are at once new and familiar.

The story hip-hop tells may be disturbing or degrading, but that’s no reason to shun it. As art has always done, hip-hop describes our times, exposing a sometimes ugly world – of drugs, sexism, poverty and violence – that middle-class America may prefer to hide away.

In the ’60s, Bob Dylan enraged those who upheld the status quo. Today, we have a whole new slew of musical poets.

Just like they did with Dylan, the older generation asks, “How can you listen to this awful music? There’s no melody! And those lyrics!”

Baby boomers protest that THEIR songs were about peace and love, while hip-hop celebrates killing and humiliates women.

But surely rock ‘n’ roll stars have never been known for their kindness to women. The Rolling Stones cranked out hits like “Under My Thumb,” “Brown Sugar” and “Little T & A,” sneered through lyrics like “You make a dead man come” and glorified violence in songs like “Midnight Rambler.”

Sexual violence in lyrics wasn’t limited to bad boy bands either. Old peaceniks Jerry Garcia and Neil Young sang songs like “Down by the River” about murdering a lover. Ever since Elvis shook his pelvis, music has shocked, and the older generation just didn’t get it.

Critics charge that hip-hop crosses a line, most recently fingering rap sensation Eminem, who sings about raping his mother and slicing up his wife in front of their daughter.

But Freudians would tell you Eminem’s mother rage and sexual fantasies are pure id, the uncensored subconscious struggling for self expression. The views of Sigmund Freud, of course, are infamous for his distorted views on women, though that doesn’t stop us from studying him in our best educational institutions. Nor should it.

Hip-hop may be more shocking and graphic than your run-of-the-mill shapers of Western thought, but I prefer my misogyny straight up. Movies like “Pretty Woman,” in which Julia Roberts plays a prostitute with a heart of gold, may be prettier packaging, but if you think women are “hos,” just tell me so.

Tales of sex and violence aren’t limited to male artists. “Goodbye Earl” by the Dixie Chicks and Macy Gray’s “I Committed Murder,” two recent hits by women artists, both detail violent killings with unrestrained glee. Angry young women muttering obscenities include Alanis Morissette, Courtney Love and Ani DiFranco.

Nor is disdain for men by women artists a new fad. Sylvia Plath, the late poet and darling of ’60s English lit majors, famously compared male genitalia to turkey necks and gizzards. Never one to shy away from sex or violence, she once said she “eats men like air.”

The difference, of course, is when women say these things, it really is just art. Because men are the guys with power, their expressions of domination, violence and sexual exploitation contribute to a culture where women really are forced into limited categories of queens or hos, where masculinity is defined by how many babes you score, and where women often are left powerless and exploited.

But sanitizing music is just shooting the messenger; it can’t transform a sexist culture. Warning stickers on CD covers are no protection from the deeply entrenched social realities that hip-hop pushes right in your face.

Women won’t feel threatened by lyrics when they overcome real inequities and get real power. Women will then be too busy making art and making deals to waste time wondering if they should side with the radical right, clamoring to keep obscenities out of Wal-Mart.

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