Woman with the Pencil, Not the Pencil Skirt

By: Caroline Turner

Why do we notice women in the news for what they are wearing, and men in the news for what they are doing? Why are we more inclined to point out what a women has on than we are a man?

Source: Wiki-images

On Snapchat, pretty much daily, you will see story lines about what various female celebrities are wearing. Do women just dominate the fashion world? No. But why then is what they are wearing what makes them newsworthy? Men are rarely seen in Snapchat stories and media for what they are wearing. Rather, they are mostly mentioned for who they are with or what they are doing. So why is it that we are so focused on capturing, celebrating, and criticizing women for what they wear?

I did a Google search of “media’s focus on female fashion,” and many articles came up that illustrate why focusing on what a woman wears above all else, creates problems in the way they are perceived. The whole first page was full of articles about media coverage on female politicians and scientists. Attention for these women should focus on what they are doing in leadership and research, not on their fashion choices.  But that’s often where the attention goes and what makes the headline or story. The media never treats men this way. Part of the reason there are fewer women than men in these fields is because of this constant focus on what women are wearing, rather than what they are doing. This sends the wrong message to young girls and may discourage them from considering those careers. Focusing on a woman’s appearance devalues her professionally, and can , often to no avail.

When I changed “female” to “male,” in my Google search, what I found confirmed that this was largely a female issue. However, my searches did find that the media pays disproportionate attention to men with regard to sports and their athletic physique, which creates body image issues among young boys.  So maybe men are not being portrayed fairly in the media either; however, the specific focus that the media places on how women look and what they are wearing can be damaging to them professionally and can affect to how they see themselves and assess their own .

So why does the media focus so much on what women are wearing? How did this come to be?

The male gaze, coined by feminist film critic Laura Mulvey in 1975 describes the way in which the visual arts and literature depict the world and women from a masculine point of view, presenting women as objects of male pleasure. An object does not do anything, it is to be looked at. An object is something that we do things to or do things with, but it does not act on its own. Perhaps media outlets have become like Mulvey’s man behind camera. The male gaze through the lens of the media can objectify women and distort how we value them, and this can have dangerous effects.

As media evolves and grows, pictures become stories and videos become GIFs. These narratives that we create in order to understand ourselves and others are becoming more and more embedded into our everyday lives. As media becomes more connected to us through social media, it is important to  become vigilant in recognizing the male gaze in the media so we can rise above its influence and decide for ourselves what is truly newsworthy.

Angela Rye: Modern Day Angela Davis

By Caroline Turner

The keynote speaker for this year’s 12th Annual Women of Color Leadership Conference is Angela Rye, a political powerhouse who is being called “TV’s Wokest Bae.” Named after the legend Angela Davis, she has been living up to the movement of being the change. Angela’s continuous work has been connecting the public with politics, and growing the ever evolving sphere of politics and leadership towards one of equity.

Angela is deeply rooted in political leadership and has a very impressive history with political activism and education. A graduate of University of Washington and Seattle University School of Law, she is now the co-founder, Principal, and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, “an organization that seeks to encourage young professionals in three core areas: economic empowerment, civic engagement, and political involvement.” She has been featured in many publications and outlets as an influential politico, lawyer, and advocate. Angela serves on a number of boards including the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, and the Seattle University School of Law Alumni, and is a member of many groups including the National Bar Association, and has won 21 distinctive awards from 2010-2015. Catch her on CNN as a regular commentator, and read more about her history on her website.

Angela continues to speak at events and on media outlets, reaching local and national audiences. Her conversations are crucial to help new upcoming leaders, and help educate and advocate awareness of the issues that we face in our government and institutions today.

My Experience at the KC Women’s March

womensmarchby Zaquoya Rogers

Going to my first protest, which was the Women’s March in Kansas City, Mo. was a totally new experience for me and I loved it. First stepping into the crowd, I was in awe at how many people came out to fight against sexism. It was not a crowd that you would see at a concert: people keeping to themselves, coming out just to listen to the music, socialization, but no sense of unity. At the march, even though it was so many people, I felt the togetherness that oozed out of the crowd. We stood there to be seen as one unit, fighting for our rights as women and against sexism and the glass ceiling. What also interested me was the different ways that women and men voiced their ideas. From pink pussy hats, to shirts that screamed female empowerment, to witty signs that were bound to make you laugh and give you the energy to help you continue to protest with power. Creativity appeared at every corner. Strength, motivation, resistance, demand for respect and peaceful unrest fueled what was the biggest Women’s March in history.

Transwomen in Prison

Image courtesy of Flikr.

By Zaquoya Rogers

The Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” highlights many different female experiences that tend to occur in prisons across the globe. They portrayed the problems of women in prison within every race, sexual orientation and background. One that caused an increase in conversation was about trans women and how they were being treated within prison. Since, obviously, male and females are separated into different prisons, where do transwomen fit? People started asking what it means to be a women. Also, why are transwomen’s gender is being trivialized? Lindsay King-Miller states “A woman, no matter her background, should never be asked to prove she is a woman.”

Laverne Cox, a transwomen actor and speaker, played Sophia Burset in the popular series and accurately depicted the struggle and mistreatment of transwomen in prison. In prison, transwomen go through difficulty in consistently receiving necessary hormone medication. In Season One, Sophia’s medication had been reduced because it wasn’t deemed as necessary which caused her male characteristics like facial hair to return. This happens in prisons today and scars transwomen’s sense of self.  A transwomen inmate named Mary was placed in the male prison Boggo Road Gaol located in Australia. She was denied any access to hormones medication. She states, “It was like my identity was taken away from me. I look like a woman and I think if a transgender person is genuine and they are living as the opposite sex, then they should be housed in a female prison, even if you’re in a wing on your own.” Denial of one’s gender is abuse and is not fair.   

In Season Three, Sophia clashes with some of her fellow inmates and is brutally attacked by the same group. Instead of punishing the perpetrators, Sophia is the one sent to the SHU (Security Housing Units/Solitary Confinement) supposedly for her protection. In reality, this type of solution downgrades transwomen and serves as an injustice. Not only do transwomen experience abuse, discrimination and bullying when serving time but they cannot count on higher authority in prison to ensure their safety. They are turned against and devalued as human beings simply because of who they identify as. This is a problem that won’t change unless more conversations take place about these injustices. I think that a great majority of people still see being transgender as something unnatural. This is why transwomen are subjected to so much abuse. The more we speak on it and accept people for who they are and not who we want to see them as, the better it will get for transwomen.

 

Black Dolls Matter

ByImage courtesy of Flickr. Korrien Hopkins

Dolls play a pivotal role in the development of girls. I remember going to Toys R Us with my family to use the gift cards our uncle had given us for Christmas. I remember going through the aisle looking for that Easy Bake Oven I had been anxious to get. After I got it, I went to the doll section. I glanced through the dolls looking for one that resembled me. No Luck. So grabbed a doll from the long selection of white dolls. My grandma came over with my brothers and asked me if there were any black dolls. “No,” I responded. She quickly found an employee and kindly asked them if they had any ethnic dolls. The employee helped us look through the dolls and checked in back. Unfortunately, they had no luck in finding a black doll. I spent the rest of the money on something else. I was a bit disappointed but quickly got over it. I learned my importance and worth from my mother. What my mother didn’t tell me I found on my own. Thanks to community, to black media, and my spiritual interpretation; I have been greatly influenced by the black excellence I see. That I am pretty and important but, why is this something I had to find on my own?

Positive self-images should be poured into children. I can clearly see why it is important for stores to sell black dolls. Playtime Projects is an organization that collects toys for homeless children. “Author Debbie Behan Garrett explains, “When a young child is playing with a doll, she is mimicking being a mother, and in her young, impressionable years, I want that child to understand that there’s nothing wrong with being black. If black children are force-fed that white is better, or if that’s all that they are exposed to, then they might start to think, ‘What is wrong with me?’ By providing children with African-American dolls that reflect their beauty, we can help to instill in them a positive self-image.”

In my psychology class we have talked about the “Doll Study.” This was a study that’s was done in 1939 by psychologists Kenneth & Mamie Clark, it examined black children’s preferences for white and black dolls and found that the children tended to find the white doll to be “nicer” and more enjoyable to play with. Perhaps fewer people, though, are aware that this study was repeated in 2005 by the then 17-year-old Kiri Davis. She found similar results to the original study. While Dr. Thelma Dye of the Northside Center for Child Development cautions that these results should not lead to the assumption that all black children suffer from low self-esteem, she encourages continued exploration of the meaning of these studies.

Self-representation matters! Children should be able to think highly of themselves and see that they are thought highly of in society. Whether they are of African decent, European decent, Hispanic, or Asian, a child should be able see their culture present in the world. The United states is a country full of many different cultures and I believe those cultures should be represented and embraced in all communities. It should be easy to locate a variety of dolls that represent a wider spectrum of ethnicities wherever you may go.  Children should be able to see dolls of all shades because that is the refection of the world.

Being Called White-Washed

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTPbrWsLUcg[/youtube]

This video featuring Anna Akana, is a very good explanation of the difference between calling persons of color or POC white-washed and a Hollywood film. The most important statement to take from this video is calling POC white-washed is them not abiding by your stereotypes of there race.

Beyoncé Slays the Country Music Awards

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60aCpaG2S6E[/youtube]

By: Korrien Hopkins

A moment a silence for Beyoncé’s performance at the 2016 Country Music Awards…

Beyoncé and the Dixie Chick’s collaboration was the highlight of the 50th CMA show. They performed a song from Beyoncé new visual album Lemonade and the song is called “Daddy Lesson.”  She expresses how it was growing up with daddy lessons in the perspective of a young girl. The girl seems to have grown up tough after her father was hard on her. He didn’t want anyone to take advantage of her.

As you may know Beyoncé showing up to any award show now days is rare. So, for her to go and blow us all away at the CMA was amazing. Some may be aware that Beyoncé is a Texas native. Her pulling off a country song at the CMA wasn’t all that surprising.  I mean she’s Beyoncé what can’t she do? Some would disagree, there was even controversy over whether she is qualified to perform a country song. But we will let the haters hate, and continue to be great. I mean, no one would down play a great an Eminem performance and say he’s not qualified. Society limits women’s “qualifications” anyways. So, my advice to every woman is to go do what you want and slay while doing it.

 

Danielle’s Feminist Movie Playlist

By Danielle Lyons

Along with my books, I do love movies with a strong female lead. Who doesn’t like to see a woman come out on top? These are the ten movies I think of, when I think of empowering feminist films.5536183455_863d3b2fed_b

  1. Foxfire Set in the 1990’s, a group of teenage girls take on a teacher that is targeting young females in his science class. They didn’t know just what they would set in motion or how it would bond them forever.
  1. Frida This movie chronicles the life of feminist icon and artist, Frida Kahlo. From her accident on the trolley to the meeting of Diego Rivera, she remained her own person.
  1. Mona Lisa Smile Katherine Watson is an art professor in a traditional all girls university in the 1950’s. Determined to teach these girls about art and its diversity, she finds it more difficult than she anticipated.  Katherine finds herself challenging the traditional roles these women have been raised to follow.
  1. Bend it Like Beckham Jess Bhamra, is a teenager in London who has a passion for soccer. Her parents find it a frivolous use of time and actively discourage her. Determined to find her own way, Jess plays for a local team. And along the way learns a lot about herself.
  1. Matilda Matilda was born into a family who does not understand her. More often than not she is ignored and put-upon. She is a very bright girl despite her start in life, and discovers a passion for reading, a skill in which she has taught herself. Matilda is a very special girl, in more ways than one. All of this comes to a head when she starts her biggest adventure: School. This film is an absolute classic.
  1. A League of their Own This movie follows a group of women playing baseball in America’s first all-women’s league. Together these incredible athletes overcome sexism, tragedy, loss and the demands the world of baseball has to offer. These women absolutely prove that our place isn’t just in the kitchen. It’s wherever we want to go.
  1. Kill Bill Volume’s 1 & 2 This two part tale is about trained assassin, Beatrix “Black Mamba” Kiddo. After an attempted assassination from former comrades, she wakes up from a coma with one goal in mind. Revenge. She embarks on a journey to take back all that was taken from her.
  1. Clueless At first look, Cher can be seen as an airhead. As the story unfolds, Cher unknowingly gets a ‘Make Over,’ of her own. After some thought, Cher attempts to lead a more purposeful life. Although, you may have to dig, there are some definite girl power themes in this film.
  1. Persepolis This film is about an Iranian woman named, Marjane Strapi. Marjane learns a great deal about life, government, rebellion, music, love and growing up. This tale is delicately weaved, and leaves you wanting more.
  1. Boys on the Side Three women head out on a cross country road trip.  These women bond completely as their trip results in a traumatic event. This movie is filled with sisterhood and trying to overcome the impossible situations we find ourselves in. By far, one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen.

“A natural beauty, the girl next door type…”: Sexism and Typecasting

By Logan Snook

In the world of theater and cinema, casting plays a large part of whether the show or film will make it or break it. Not only are you looking for talent, but someone who embodies the traits needed to accurately portray the role at hand. This includes appearance. The appropriateness of one’s looks to a role could determine whether or not they’re cast, regardless of whether they are the most qualified for the role. This is where typecasting comes into play.

Typecasting occurs when someone is cast in a role based on their looks, gender, race, or other aspects of their appearance. This process is not aided when many aspects of leading female roles revolve around appearance and physical character attributes. Film producer Ross Putman has been in the media lately for his Twitter feed, @femscriptintros, which highlights intros for leading women in film scripts. Such beautifully crafted intros include:

 

typecasting

Quite a well-developed series of characters, no? Sexism and typecasting are not only affecting film, but theater, musical theater, opera, and even large musical ensembles such as orchestras and wind ensembles. Many of these ensembles are incorporating the use of blind auditions to prevent gender and race from impeding any hiring decisions, but what happens when you are casting characters in a show? How much should an actress’/actors’ (it goes both ways!) appearance determine what role they are cast in? We are not aided in this problem when many roles available for women are lacking in substance and centered on one appearance – the ingénue, the diva, the power-hungry female, the beauty queen, the ditz – but when does ones talent and inner portrayal of a role become secondary to their likeness of bleak character description? What kind of aspirations are we encouraging when young women see the roles available to them are: “JANE, a 19 year old Bunny girl – honey-blonde farmland beauty queen?”

Zendaya Barbie Doll

By Matiara Huff

Barbie's official twitter page tweeted this sketch with the caption, "So excited to honor @Zendaya with a one-of-a-kind doll as she encourages girls to Raise Their Voices and to #BeSuper!," Sept. 18, 2015.

Barbie’s official twitter page tweeted this sketch with the caption, “So excited to honor @Zendaya with a one-of-a-kind doll as she encourages girls to Raise Their Voices and to #BeSuper!,” Sept. 18, 2015.

It’s true! Barbie is coming out with a Zendaya doll that will be modeled after Zendaya’s 2015 Oscars outfit. This was consider Zendaya’s most controversial outfit because of her faux locs. If you don’t know, many online news outlets called Zendaya’s hair “ghetto,” and said it probably smelled like weed or patchouli oil. Zendaya’s response was very empowering for people of color, and rose interesting questions about cultural appropriation. She turn a bad experience with the press into a learning experience for everyone.

It is no secret that representation in the media affects people of all ages, and the lack there of for Black people has a huge effect on the confidence of the growing generations. Due to this, the Barbie team said “Thank you for raising your voice!” and announced the upcoming doll. This doll is a big win!