No More Bossy Girls

By Nina Cherry

It seems that I have been taking initiative since the day I was born. I am a natural born leader, a perfectionist, and I like things done correctly and in a timely matter. Growing up, my assertiveness caused me to frequently be labeled as “bossy,” while the boys were always labeled leaders.

But why are girls labeled as bossy? When we use the word bossy to describe girls, we are reinforcing the idea that their strength is inferior.  The negative connotation of the word often discourages girls to pursue leadership and encourages them to be more reserved.

I always thought that I come off as strong, but I only recently realized that I am just assertive and determined, and I am finally unperturbed by that. There have been many times in my life where I have debated whether or not to bite my tongue, to be passive or assertive, or to seem more “ladylike.” But I was not raised to be ladylike; I was raised to be a strong woman. I was raised to be confident. I was raised to be loud. And, as Beyonce says, “I’m not bossy – I’m the boss.”

So let’s not have any more bossy girls. We need to empower our confident, strong, assertive, brave, loud girls and encourage them to be leaders.

Ban Bossy is a movement dedicated to ending the stigmas associated with strong-willed young women. Created by Girl Scouts of America and Lean In, it challenges us to find words other than “bossy.” If you agree with Nina’s thoughts, pledge to ban using the word “bossy” when describing young girls at http://banbossy.com/.

Remembering the Queen of Baseball

By Ann Varner

Sadly, we are nearing the end of my favorite sports season: baseball season! Baseball is the one sport I am passionate about, and I am happiest sitting in the heat with a cold brew in my hand cheering on my home team, the St. Louis Cardinals. When one thinks of baseball, they think of a man’s sport, which is true. Softball is the co-ed version of baseball. There is one woman, however, who fought her way into playing on a professional baseball team, the Boston All-Stars. That woman is Lizzie Murphy.

Lizzie Murphy was born in 1894 in Rhode Island and was a natural athlete, according to the New England Historical Society. At the age of 12 Lizzie left school to work in a mill, but never lost her passion for sports (and baseball in particular). Her father played baseball, and she quickly learned how to play the position of first baseman and began playing with the local boys.

It is said that Lizzie quit baseball many times because of ridicule for her being a female, but her passion and love for the sport always brought her back. Eventually, she made her way into the Semi-Pros, or Minor League Baseball. In 1918, Lizzie was signed into professional baseball with the Boston All-Stars as the first woman to play professional baseball with all men. She was not always received well by audiences, but Lizzie was proud, and she persevered. In 1928, she played in the National League All-Stars, which made her the first person to play in both American League and National League All-Star teams – female or male.

In a world of male-dominated sports teams where men and women rarely compete, Lizzie Murphy’s story is an inspiration and a reason for women to continue to prove we are equal to men. Lizzie broke the societal standards for what a woman should and shouldn’t do, and proved to America that should could play ball with the men and just as well, too. She broke multiple records and showed young women to never lose their passion and determination, even when there are constant roadblocks.

Do you find Lizzie’s story inspiring? You can purchase a children’s book about her life, Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story, by Emily Arnold McCully, to give to the young Lizzie in your life.

Out with the Old; In with the New

By Chris Howard-Williams

My summer with the Women’s Center is drawing to a close.  During my time here, I’ve tried to educate myself about feminism and what I can do as a man to promote the cause of feminism.  For my last blog post in this effort, I want to focus on a slightly different question.  Instead of the “how”, I want to touch on the “why” – Why should I, as a man, support feminism?

I’m not going to lie … there are many articles out there already that explain the importance of feminism for men that will put it more eloquently than I ever could.  A quick Google search of “How men benefit from feminism” pulled up many different articles to read.  Reading through just three of the first articles that popped up from the Independent , the Crimson White, and the Medium, I realized there’s nothing I can really add to the discussion that would be new, save for one thing – my own voice.

So, in my own words, why do I support feminism?  Here’s my short list based on my own personal experiences with the inequality and toxic masculinity that still exist:

  1. Because I want to be able to cry and show emotion without it being seen as showing my “feminine side”;
  2. Because I want to be able to enjoy cooking and baking at home without being teased about making someone a “good wife”;
  3. Because I want to be able to say that I don’t enjoy sports without wondering if I’ll be viewed as “less than a man” because of it;
  4. Because I want to be able to stop the “male posturing” for strength and dominance without being called a derogatory term for the female anatomy;
  5. Because I don’t want to be regarded more highly than someone else simply because of my gender (or the color of my skin, while we’re on the subject);
  6. Because I want the women in my life to be considered for who they are and what they can accomplish rather than to be viewed through antiquated stereotypes;
  7. But most importantly, because it’s the right thing to do!

There’s probably more that I could list, but those are the big ones, folks.  Equity and equality matter, and they’re needed.  Men, if you don’t understand why, it’s time to educate yourselves.  It can start with a simple Google search, but it takes a real inner-self search as well.  It’s time to usher out the old, the outdated, the ignorance and the broken gender roles.  It’s time for the new to become the norm.

Friends and Feminism

By Maleigha Michael

*spoilers ahead*

Friends was one of the many trendy sitcoms that came from the ’90s that is seen as a classic by many. And even though its last episode aired in 2004, it still seems to grow in popularity. Because of its familiar presence in the TV world today, its values and themes are important to pay attention to since they have such a strong impact on their audience. The main point I want to get across is that while Friends integrated some feminist perspectives, they were often countered to promote patriarchal ideals. And just because the sitcom had a few progressive tones, that doesn’t make it a feminist show; moreover, it definitely doesn’t mean we should accept them today, or should’ve accepted them back then. There are examples in every episode that I could discuss and pick apart, but since I don’t have 18 pages (front and back) I’ll only be addressing a few.

For those that say Friends is a feminist show, I want to point out that sure, it could be seen that way. But only if you’re idea of feminism is very outdated. The show introduced characters from the LGBTQIA community (or just LGBT, as it was recognized at the time), which should always be applauded, but the way those characters were received by the other characters is why the show is seen by others as outdated. For example, Chandler’s transgender father was constantly made fun of and Ross’s lesbian ex-wife was far too often oversexualized.

And of course I have to talk about the finale. In the beginning, Rachel started off as this idol for independent women: leaving a man at the altar, breaking away from her father’s money, and pursuing her dream career in fashion (and yes, I realize how unrealistic this part was since she had no prior experience in the industry, or proper schooling). One of the main plot lines to the show was the whole will-they-won’t-they back and forth love affair between Rachel and Ross, so it only makes sense that that’s how the franchise ended.  But when the opportunity arises for Rachel to work for Louis Vuitton in Paris, episode after episode is focused on Ross trying to stop Rachel from leaving just so he could be with her. This all leads up to the end scenes of Ross convincing Rachel to stay. Ross wasn’t alone in this either. Phoebe and Joey actually encouraged him to go after Rachel, instead of encouraging him to support the woman he loves when she’s offered the chance of a lifetime. This ending was extremely disappointing for feminists for obvious reasons, but also because of the lasting impact it has on its viewers. After all of Rachel’s hard work and progress she’s made to get where she is, she turns down a major job opportunity to be with a man who wasn’t very supportive of her career choices in the first place.

For a character that had such a strong story line, the salute off the show that she was given is one of the many examples of how any feminist themes in Friends are overshadowed by regressive concepts that left a bitter taste in the mouths of feminists back then and especially today. The series may be one of the most popular sitcoms ever, but we shouldn’t accept any oppression of female dominance and simply pass it off as “that’s just how it was back then!” Finding feminism in any show is great, but Friends should NOT pass as a feminist show.

Sexism in Colors – Why is Pink for Girls and Blue for Boys?

By Maleigha Michael

When I was younger, I learned the colors of the rainbow through the mnemonic, ROY-G-BIV (red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet). It was a color rule that has stayed with me since and helped me understand the relationship of colors. As I was growing up, I also learned another color “rule”: Pink is for girls and blue is for boys.  This is something we all heard growing up. Why though? Who got to decide this? What impact does this have on society? And how come so many of us abide by this rule so strictly?

I did a lot of reading on the history of these two colors, and it turns out there’s a lot of history behind them. It all started in the 19th century when pastel colors started becoming popularized for babies. The two colors were first chosen because of how they complimented hair and eye colors. Blue was meant to go with blue eyes and/or blonde hair, and pink for brown eyes and/or brown hair. Then, blue was actually the color that was assigned to girls, because it was seen as a dainty color, and pink was seen as a stronger color, so it was assigned to boys.

Okay, that actually sort of makes sense. But how then did pink become a color for girls and blue for boys? In my further reading, I found that girls were reassigned with pink because it was close to red, a romantic color, and women were seen as more emotional. But by the 1960’s during the women’s liberation movement, women challenged this social norm and threw gendered colors out the window. However, this did not last long once prenatal testing came out, which led to parents pre-planning for their babies and retailers realizing that they could capitalize on selling specific content tailored for each gender. So we’re back to square one.

Lately, the advent of “Gender Reveal Parties” has reinforced the “pink is for girls, blue is for boys” rule. Although parents have been getting more and more creative with their reveals, pink and blue have remained the two dominant colors that people use to show the sex of their babies.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Who cares? So what if pink is for girls and blue is for boys? What’s the big deal?” Well the answer I have for you also happens to wrap up what the point of this whole thing is about: Feminism.

Assigning colors to babies enforces a role that they are supposed to grow and fit into. There are only two colors, also enforcing that there are only two genders you’re allowed to claim. If you’re a girl, you have to like pink, and that also means you’re girly. If you’re a boy, you have to have blue, and you CANNOT like pink, or else you aren’t manly enough. If you’re a girl and you like blue, you’re a tomboy, and you aren’t seen as a strong female, but instead as a girl who doesn’t know how to be a proper girl.

Obviously, this is all completely invalid and shouldn’t have ever been applied to our society back then, and shouldn’t be applied now. I know that not everyone sticks to this rule. There are plenty of parents, more recently than ever before, that refuse to stand by this ridiculous code, and some who even take a few progressive steps further as to let their kids dress themselves however they want, such as a allowing their sons to wear dresses.

In summary, gendered colors are totally outdated, and we should stop pushing colors on children if we want a world with less stereotypes, less sexism, and overall less prejudice. As I learned when I was young, there are seven colors in the rainbow, so let’s not neglect the OYGIV of ROY-G-BIV!

“Avengers: Infinity War” and Feminism

By Megan Schwindler

Spoilers ahead! Proceed with caution.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe that I grew up with was completely male-dominated. If you look back you’ll see Hulk,  Logan, Deadpool, Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the list goes on. There were women in these films yes, but how many could pass the Bechdel test? For those of you who don’t know, the Bechdel test uncovers sexism in fiction by asking two questions:

  1. Do two (named) female characters talk to each other?
  2. Do they talk about something other than a male character?

So how does Marvel hold up? According to an article from 2017, only 56% pass the test. But things are changing in the Marvel Universe. Black Panther introduced us to the badass women of Wakanda, and the new Avengers: Infinity War takes it one step further by bringing all of the female superheroes together. For the first time ever we get Nebula, Gamora, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, Shuri, Okoye, and Mantis all on the same screen. Can you say chills? What’s better is that they all defy the typical role female superheroes lead (the token heroine or the damsel in distress/love interest). All of the female superheroes contribute to the plot in meaningful ways and are way more than side-pieces with witty-comebacks and perfect makeup.

One of my favorite scenes is when Scarlet Witch is knocked down and the villain (also female) tells her she is about to die alone. But then we hear off screen, “She’s not alone” and Black Widow and Okoye come in and fight the alien-like enemy. While the statement was short, it said a lot. Finally, the Marvel Universe is celebrating strong women and giving them a platform to inspire young girls everywhere. Kayleigh Dray puts it best:

“These three little words are a staunch reminder that Marvel’s female superheroes are no longer alone, they are a team of impossible strength and force. And they act as something of a promise, too: Marvel has sworn that these amazing badasses – all every bit as complex, engaging, and necessary to the cinematic universe as their male counterparts – will never again be reduced to the role of ‘token’ woman.”

And to top it all off, in the final scenes, Nick Fury attempts to contact Captain Marvel, arguably the most empowering female character. According to Marvel her powers include, “flight, enhanced strength, durability and the ability to shoot concussive energy bursts from her hands.” She sounds pretty cool right? And since half of our favorite Marvel superheroes are dead (or just momentarily gone) we definitely need a superhero to step in and not only defeat Thanos, but to defy all the gender stereotypes.

While Avengers: Infinity War is far from the perfect feminist film, it’s certainly a step in the right direction and hopefully will inspire viewers young and old to realize that women are just as smart, strong, and powerful as men.

 

Feminist Movie Coming Soon

By Zaquoya Rogers

This weekend I saw previews for a feminist movie on the rise and had to talk about it. On May 11, which is just 2 days before Mother’s Day, a movie named “Breaking In” is scheduled to debut. The story centers around a single mother who takes her children to a high-tech estate for a get-away vacation, but while they’re there four men break in and take her children hostage.

Guess who is the lead character? Gabrielle Union! She is one of Hollywood’s most vocal feminist that speaks up for women’s rights, specifically women of color. She is inspirational and admired greatly. What makes this movie feminist is that Gabrielle’s character is not a “damsel in distress.” Gabrielle challenges and fights the intruders and takes it upon herself to save her and her children. The most iconic moment in the trailer was when one of the men said, “You’re a woman. Alone. at the mercy of strangers.” to try to deem Gabrielle’s character as powerless and weak. But the gag is… They were no match for her. She says later in the trailer, “I’m just a mom. You don’t know what I’m capable of.” Can you say… total feminist bad ass.

No Lax on Pink Tax

By Caroline Turner

 

I took a trip to Target last night and I unknowingly got wrapped up in some sort of pink trap.

As soon as I walked in I checked out the “deals” section in the front. Now looking back, I can’t help wondering why there was there so much pink?! The entire sale section had a few themes: back to school for teachers, back to school for girls, summer party, and kids’ toys. Just glancing at the toys section, I could tell it was for boys, with images of cars in dark blue and red color schemes. The section I got caught in was definitely geared for girls. I bought two packs of stationary cards as well as a few things for a friend’s upcoming birthday. The intended event of the cards was left semi- general, but they were in hot pink, and other pink hues signifying a girl feel. Actually, this girl feel was applied throughout sale section where there was an abnormal amount of pink, glittery, bubble lettered office accessories, school calendars, etc. I was surrounded by groups of young girls and women, and could hear them giggling to each other while I walked around the short isles. The only time I saw a boy, was when I was in front of a small section of tech gear, where I bought a portable device that was non-gender specific.

A couple weeks ago my cousin brought me a surprise gift of a planner and stickers, and told me they were from the same “deals” spot in Target. These stickers were also clearly gendered- with a mix of encouraging sayings like “You go girl,” etc. Did I get suckered into buying these bright, pink, sparkly items because they were so clearly gendered and drew me towards them?

The pink tax is the extra percentage of money that women are paying for “woman” branded products in all areas such as hygiene, clothing, and toys. New studies are being done as this issue is becoming more noticed among consumers. U.S. News stated that, “Women, who statistically already make less money than men on average, may pay a premium for items marketed to them simply because they aren’t aware of this so-called “Pink” tax. The tax is applied to items that both men and women use such as razors, shampoo, soap, jeans, t-shirts, and more, except the up-charge is only applied to products that are sold towards women. You can easily point to these price differences in products usually coated pink or shaped differently – what people in the industry have termed “shrink” and “pink” to sell to women. But these minor choices in cut or color for these “feminine” products do not amount to the hike up in cost, possibly up to 50% more than the “male” product.

Photo: New York City Department of Consumer Affairs

 

I like a splash of pink, or any color frankly, to spruce up my office décor or bathroom supplies: But when color becomes a technique of manipulative strategy to box women into spending unnecessary extra money it crosses the line. And why was Target not advertising its slightly gimmicky door deals to men? Big business is banking on the profits of us not being aware of these traps being set up to vacuum away our hard earned dollars.

Although most of the deals I got that day were really good deals (from $1-$5 max) and am happy with the items I got, I can’t help but wonder if I would have even been drawn to them in the first place if I were not so conditioned to buy the pink and pretty items marketed for women only.  In the end, I think I inadvertently got goosed by the business of the pink tax.

 

From Dolls to Degrees: How gender norms can be hard to see

by Thea Voutiritsas

A close friend of mine is expecting, and she told me she would be raising her daughter as a feminist. On one hand, I thought, “Well, of course!” And on the other, I thought about what it would be like if I had been raised with that in mind. Don’t get me wrong, my mom has always told me I could do whatever I wanted. She always told me to be strong, to be independent. She always told me I shouldn’t have to rely on anyone, but myself. I should never feel stuck. Those words are beautiful and they are true.

So, why didn’t they stick? Why did I scale back my aspirations, my career options, my degree? Because my mom raised me to be a strong woman, but she believed that raising me to be a woman meant I had to first act like a “girl.” I had hundreds of dolls, hundreds of shoes, toy kitchens, toy beauty shops, and so on. But I never had Legos, I never had a Gameboy, I never had a toolkit or a doctor’s kit. I never believed I could build, create, heal, or save anything. I never got the chance to pretend. I got older, and I believed that girls weren’t good at math and that boys should pay for dates. I believed makeup was a girl thing and videogames were for boys. My high school boyfriend had an Xbox, and a game that he let me borrow. I loved it so much, I asked for one of my own. My mom said no. She said those were for boys, and I was a girl. I didn’t need it and I wouldn’t use it. And my boyfriend must be bored without his game.

From my first year at the Women’s Center

So I never played it. I never got good. I never even got to try. I think about all the things I could have been interested in, every stone left unturned. I let it go, and I accepted the idea that there were things I couldn’t have because they belonged only to men. I thought I couldn’t ask for them, either. The careers, the interests, the freedom – they weren’t meant for me. I tailored my interests to what would be marriage material, because that was my end goal: to be married. I thought that was where my life would both end and begin. My meaning would be defined by my position as a bachelorette, and then by my position as a mother. I started college, and this is where my ideal world began to slip away from me.

I wanted to be a teacher because the salary wouldn’t be threatening, but I found I didn’t like teaching. I thought, well, I’m already an English major, so I’ll just stick with that. That’s still an approachable major. I didn’t talk in class. I didn’t talk back. I got good grades and I smiled. Then I worried that I might be missing something, maybe I should explore something else. Then I thought it could wait. Then I believed it was too late. Then I realized the job market didn’t look so good, because I didn’t like the jobs. And all this time, I never believed I was limited. I argued that men and women were treated equally. I thought feminism was too strong of a word.

In fact, feminism was one of the best things that ever happened to me, because I found freedom and choice. I had the option to be funny, to speak loudly or to whisper. I had the option to frown instead of smile, and to wear the clothes that made me feel powerful, or comfortable, or both. But it also made me afraid that I became a feminist too late. Maybe if I would have known sooner, I would have chosen my passion instead of choosing a norm. But then I remember, being a feminist is about having choices. I will always have choices. My gender, my age, my education and my ability do not have to define my possibilities. I get to choose those, and I get to choose not to let those norms limit me.

It’s Not in My Head: The Hysterical Woman Stereotype

Image courtesy of Google Images.

Image courtesy of Google Images

 

By Zaquoya Rogers

Many people are convinced that women are not trusted to know when their body needs medical attention. Can you imagine that?  A woman named Kathy was experiencing abnormally heavy periods and consulted her doctor multiple times, only to be told her symptoms were “all in her head.” After demanding more advanced medical attention, she found out she had uterine fibroids. It is appalling that in 2016, women are not being taken seriously especially in health situations. This is what you call the hysterical woman stereotype.

It is the thought by some health practitioners that when women reporting symptoms of illness are suffering from an overactive imagination.  It paints women as less rational, less disciplined and less emotionally stable than men. These stereotypes can be very dangerous. If Kathy did not demand more medical attention, that would’ve caused serious complications. In order to put an end to the hysterical woman stereotype we must listen to our women and take them seriously.