In Case You Missed It – Great Blogs You May Not Have Seen Over the Winter Break

 

Image from Google Images, via Creative Commons

Image from Google Images, via Creative Commons

Check out these great feminist blogs from over the holiday break!

1. “Jane Campion to Lead Cannes 2014 Jury”
Jane Campion, Director and one of the largest critics of Hollywood’s discrimination against women, has been selected to oversee the Cannes Film Festival.

2. “The Refutation of ‘Good Hair’ and the ‘Consumption’ of Kanekalon Hair.”
Photographer Nakeya B. makes a statement about  hair, portraying the importance (good and bad) that hair has for women of color in the media and everyday life.

3. “10 Ways to Keep Up the Feminist Fight in 2014”
This article highlights some steps to take in 2014 to promote gender equity.

4.“What’s like as the First Transgender MMA Fighter? Meet Fallon Fox.”
Check out this biographical piece about the first transgender MMA fighter who identifies as female.

5. “New Campus Rape Bill Written with Help from Sexual Assault Survivors”
This article is informative about how California is revising the Education Code with regard to sexual violence by listening to the thoughts and opinions of assault survivors.

6. “The Price of Being Female and on the Internet”
This guest blog highlights how legal action should be improved to deal with cyber stalking, and other online crimes that women face on a day to day basis.

7. “Thoughts on Women and the Wolf of Wall Street
This article examines the view of the world that the film portrays, specifically with regard to the role of women in the film.

8. “Bitch Tapes: Favorite Feminist Music Finds of the Year”
Bitch Magazine compiled a list of their writers’ favorite feminist artists and songs from 2013. Take a peek at it and maybe you’ll find some new favorite artists!

9. “Blockbuster Films Featuring Actual Female Characters Made Serious Money in 2013”
Check out this short article (and infogaphic) proving that 2013 films that featured meaningful, life-like female characters made more at the box office than those that simply objectified women and focused on people who identified as male.

10. “Recovering from an Abusive Relationship”
Read one woman’s story about her recovery after leaving her abuser, and how she came to realizations that changed her life.

“Stop Telling Women to Smile” Exemplifies Artistic Activism

Image from Google Images.

Image from Google Images.

When I read about “Stop Telling Women to Smile” by Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, I was struck; it is a fantastic visual display aiming to raise awareness about street harassment and violence against women. The Huffington Post online Article that featured the project on Friday mentioned that Fazlalizadeh wants to bring “Stop Telling Women to Smile” to Kansas City (as well as other cities across the nation), and is looking to do so through a Kickstarter campaign; I really hope that becomes a reality!

Check out the Huffington Post article here: “Public Art Project Addresses Gender-Based Street Harassment In A Big Way”: http://huff.to/17kI8mF

To visit the “Stop Telling Women to Smile” website, click here: http://bit.ly/17Ld1BL

The Gender Gap in Philosophy: “Women are Incapable of Having Seminal Ideas”

j4p4n_Thinking_Woman_-_7In 2011, The American Philosophical Organization released a statistic stating that “women make up 21% of full-time faculty in philosophy” (949, Paxton, et al.). “Why is this staggering?” you may ask; “I’m sure there are similar ratios in the fields of engineering, math, science, etc.”

To answer that, yes, there are similar ratios in those disciplines; however, philosophy is the only humanities division with that level of underrepresentation of women.  Why? Because philosophy is a discipline that requires tackling issues logically, thinking critically, arguing, and being rational – activities and qualities that are apparently too difficult or unseemly for women.

Dr. Sally Haslanger, a member of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT, shared her struggle as a female graduate student of philosophy in her 2008 article “Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone).” She states she was the “butt of jokes,” and that a professor once told her “he had ‘never seen a first rate woman philosophy and never expected to because women were incapable of having seminal ideas’” (1).

Ugh.

Why does this get me in a huff? Why have I dedicated a whole blog to this? First of all, as some of you may know, I am a graduate student of philosophy here at UMKC, so the topic is close to my heart. And, while I have never been met with resistance simply because I possess a certain set of genitalia at UMKC or during my undergraduate career at Rockhurst (I’ve had quite the opposite experience at both places-fantastic faculties on both accounts), I did have a run-in with some gender discrimination when I was visiting a few schools to decide where I wanted to apply for my graduate studies.

I went to meet with a faculty member at a particular university about the philosophy program there. The gentleman was standoff-ish, but initially, I shrugged it off. He asked me why I wanted to be in the program; I answered. He asked me if I, as a woman, thought I could handle the curriculum; I answered. He asked me what I “wanted to be when I grew up” because I was not going to find a career in philosophy; I thanked him for his time and left.

This type of stereotyping is not only unacceptable in philosophy, but in every field of academia (and all aspects of professional life, as well). There is no reason, as a student, that you should be deterred from your dreams because of your gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. As college students, whether your field of study is law, engineering, philosophy, math, criminal justice, English, or psychology, do not settle for discrimination; speak up, share your experiences, and aim to make a difference.

Haslanger, Sally. “Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone).” Hypatia, Vol. 23, Issue 2, pp. 210–223, May 2008.

Paxton, M., Figdor, C. and Tiberius, V. (2012), Quantifying the Gender Gap: An Empirical Study of the Underrepresentation of Women in Philosophy. Hypatia, 27: 949–957. doi: 10.1111/j.1527-2001.2012.01306.x

Demanding Equal Rights for All Bodies: Going Topless

By Morgan Paul

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPZpQhqONXU&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

As many of you may know, Sunday was topless day! As nice as that sounds on hot days like today, it has much more meaning than just avoiding tan lines and sweat stains; it was a nationwide demonstration to fight another part of our gender equity battle. Few states allow women to go topless in public, and even the ones that do will arrest women for things such as disorderly conduct. Unfortunately, this is not a high priority issue to many women because they don’t want to go topless. That is completely their choice, but this does add to the over-sexualization of women’s bodies. Women are shamed every day for showing “too much breast” or “not enough leg.” Why must we be subject to such discrimination? Men walk around topless no matter their size, amount of hair, tan lines, etc. and are never told to cover up. It’s time for us to take charge of the streets and demand equal rights for equal bodies. You can learn more and sign the petition at http://gotopless.org/

The White House…a “boy’s club”?

Image from Flickr.com

By Kristina Gardner

 It came out this past weekend that women in the Obama White House felt excluded and ignored during his first couple years of presidency. Christina Romer said she felt like she was treated “like a piece of meat”. The women that work in the white house feel as if they are outsiders in a “boys club”. One woman doesn’t believe that Obama is doing it on purpose, but other high ranking women say that they feel like Obama has just as much responsibility as the next guy for excluding women. It seems questionable that Obama, a man with a very strong and independent wife that he has to go home to every night and answer to would do something like this. Obama aides claim that this is completely false, and that these women are making unfounded claims, and were feeling “sidelined” for no reason.  So this begs the question:  Is the Obama white House being sexist? Are they being elitist? Is Obama’s white house the first to do this?

Personally, I think that it seems like a stretch that this is happening on purpose, to these women. But if they are feeling alienated, then something needs to be done about it. If it were any office and women made such a claim; there would be investigations, and things would have to be done about it. It seems like the things that plague the White House are things that plague us every day America women. Not getting called on for opinions, not really having a say in meetings, not getting promotions, and the like. It seems sad that these things still go on; but this coming out of the White House is just a sad reminder that this is still a daily challenge that women are trying to overcome. Although, now that Ms. Romer has said something about it, I’m sure things will begin to be fixed… The American women will be sure of it.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Employer

Image from Google Images

By Patsy Campos

In the workplace, racism and sexism are discriminatory offenses that can result in time-consuming lawsuits that draw an employer much unwanted media attention.  Women often fall victim to discriminatory behavior that may include being passed up for promotions or not receiving equal pay for the same work that men do. One such case involves the largest sex discrimination case in America between Walmart and several female employees. But another form of discrimination that often gets unnoticed in the workplace is “lookism.”

“Lookism” is discrimination or prejudice of others based on physical appearance.  A recent article in USA Today reports on the effects of lookism in the workplace and describes cases where women have felt discriminated against because of their appearance. One case involved a woman who was denied a Jazzercise franchise because she did not appear “fit.”  In another case, a woman was fired from her job as a casino bartender because she did comply with company policy that required her to wear make-up.  The women in these cases felt discriminated and took action against the companies they worked for. Although the issues were resolved, neither of the employers fully admitted to any discrimination. It is often difficult to prove that employers are discriminating based on looks and technically this form of discrimination does not fall under protected class; therefore, private employers are well within their rights to create vague policy based on appearance. But that doesn’t make it right, and often, employee appearance standards have some underlying racism or illegal discrimination to them.

What lookism does in the workplace is create an environment of the have’s and have not’s. According to the article, a recent analysis found that workers with below-average looks tend to earn significantly less (about 9% less) than above-average-looking employees.  Another study found that an increase in a woman’s body mass results in a decrease in her family income and her job prestige. These studies show that employees with the “right looks” get the bigger paychecks, the better jobs, and more respect. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then at some companies, the beholder also controls how far a woman can go and how much she can earn.

Women already have much going against them in the workplace. Sexism and racism still make it difficult for them to crack that glass ceiling. Lookism just adds another barrier as women try to achieve full equity on the job.

Movimiento Machista Colombiano (Male Chauvinist Colombian Movement)

By Maritza Gordillo

Image c/o Flickr.com

A recent news report on the Spanish channel Univision focused on a group of Colombian men forming a movement called, Movimiento Machista Colombiano (Male Chauvinist Colombian Movement). The group’s founder, Beto Barreto, wanted to start this political movement to defend the rights of the machistas. Barreto says he has seen many incidents in which men have been arrested for raping their wives, and he believes this punishment is ridiculous because there is no such thing as rape within a marriage; it is a woman’s obligation to attend to all of her husband’s needs. To be considered as a member in the movement, the Machos must have more than one woman at a time and cannot have a woman trying to sue him for rape or other abuses since that supposedly shows his incompetency at dominating his wife or partner. Barreto compares the absolute dominance he has over a horse to how men should dominate their women. One of his former followers, Otoniel Castañeda, gave an even more illogical comparison of women and dogs. Castañeda thinks that women should take care of the children and dogs are used to guard the home. Because of Barreto’s troubling belief in extreme masculinity, it comes to no surprise that during his political crusade there were two laws that he wanted to implement:

1. Men should not be held responsible for paying child support to their ex-wives, or give their ex-wives any amount of income to sustain them.

2. Adultery should not be punishable for men, but should be punishable for women.

These are just a couple of the gender-offensive laws Barreto proposed if he were to be elected for a position in which he fortunately did not win, but received an astonishing 8,000 votes. It is hard to believe that excessively sexist beliefs like this still exist and that many Colombian women continue to abide by Machos’ rules out of fear. Even though there are laws that protect these women, the fear of physical and psychological abuse keeps these women silent. According to Sonia Bernal, a lawyer and advocate of women’s rights in Colombia, this type of machismo originates from mothers who raise their children to have this mentality. Bernal says that mothers teach their sons that women should be hit in order for them to obey and that young girls are not autonomous beings, but are dependents of men. Barreto would agree with this child-rearing practice when he asserts that women should be hit in order to learn not to commit the same mistake again. Watching this news report was shocking because ignorant ideologies like these are what aid the continued violence towards women.

The Man Box

By Devon White

In a recent TED video, Tony Porter discusses what it means — for men, women, sons, and daughters —when the social pressure of masculinity confines men.

“Growing up as a boy, we were taught that men had to be tough, had to be strong, had to be courageous, dominating — no pain, no emotions, with the exception of anger — and definitely no fear — that men are in charge, which means women are not; that men lead, and you should just follow and do what we say; that men are superior, women are inferior; that men are strong, women are weak; that women are of less value —property of men — and objects, particularly sexual objects” (“Tony Porter: A call to men“).

Porter gives these common socializations the moniker “The Man Box,” which contains all of the stereotypical, hyper-masculinized ways in which men are expected to behave and how those same expectations say volumes about how little our society values women and femininity. In this revealing speech, Porter shares a personal discussion that he had with a young athlete about how it would hypothetically feel if his football coach compared his playing skill to that of a girl in front of his teammates. The athlete responded that, “It would destroy me.” Porter draws a clear conclusion that if being compared to a girl would destroy this young man, what does it say about how our society views women’s worth?

In order for men to be active feminists, we must look inside ourselves to understand how our male privilege impacts how we value the women in our lives. Men need to peer inside of Porter’s “Man Box” and deconstruct the trappings of masculinity and the role it plays in women’s equity.

You can watch the entire TED video here. (Trigger warning: at about the 9-minute mark, there is a story about a sexual assault.)

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“TEDWomen-Tony Porter: A call to men.” Tony Porter: A call to men | Video on TED.com. Web. 23 Apr 2011.

Sexist Solutions

By Maritza Gordillo

Image c/o Flickr.com

Officials in Frederick County, Maryland were voting on a possible elimination in local funds for the well-known Head Start program for children who come from low-income families. This proposal raised worries and frustration for parents, but parents were not only worried because of the cut in funds, but also furious with the sexist solutions and remarks made by some elected officials. Paul Smith and Kirby Delauter, both commissioners in Frederick County, suggested that women should stay home and take care of children instead of sending them to school, thus saving money. Smith says, “My wife stayed home at significant sacrifice during those early years because she knew she had to be with those kids at that critical age.” Delauter agreed with Smith, stating, “My wife, college educated, could go out and get a very good job, she gave that up for 18 years so she could stay home with our kids.”

Many argue that the commissioners’ comments and suggestions were very sexist and ignorant because a woman has just as much right to get an education and have a career as men do. Maybe these individuals were privileged to sustain their families on a single income and have their wives stay at home if that was their choice, but for Smith to assert that, “the mother’s role is primarily in the home…,” does not mean he can generalize and assume that every mother is mandated to be a house wife. Smith and Delauter fail to consider women who live on a single income and do not have the luxury of staying at home with their kids. Why do many people assume that mothers should forego their careers to stay at home and be the primary caregiver of the family?

Women Are Great and Wise Artists, Too

By Arzie Umali

Image from Flickr.com

Happy New Year!  We are almost one full week into 2011 and many people by now have firmly secured their resolutions and goals for the New Year. In fact, some may have already thrown in the towel and realized they had set their sights too high. Whatever we do at this time of year, whether it is strategically listing a set of goals complete with deadlines and measureable outcomes, or just continuing with our current Modus Operandi, many of us do take this time at the start of a brand new year to do some reflection and evaluation; and, most often, we do this with our best intentions at heart.

So, I’m wondering what the intensions were of a recent Wall Street Journal article that listed the “Cultural Resolutions” of some of whom they claimed to be the top writers, artists, and musicians of today.  The article included a sampling of artists from around the world sharing their hopes and goals for the New Year. What first appears to be a rather arbitrary selection of individuals (from Oprah to former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash) to me, also appears to be an extremely sexist list of who the WSJ considers to be the wisest of the cultural icons of today. In the print version of the article, a full-page layout for the article on the cover of the “Friday Journal” section lists quotes from 10 creative individuals – only one, fashion designer, Nanette Lepore, is female. The article covers two more full pages with resolutions and goals of various artists. 37 people are included in total, of which only 9 are women. The on-line version of the article is slightly different and includes a large image of architect, Richard Meier, whose goal is to design more global works. If Meier’s image at the top of this article is any indication of how the WSJ regards the greatness of artists, then they have shown their readers that great art and wisdom comes from men. The rest of the article on-line lists 55 other artists in various disciplines, of which only 11 are women.

The problem with this article, aside from its haphazard mix of artists, is that the message it sends to readers is that men still outnumber women in the arts; therefore, men are more important and are still better at it. Articles like this that quote the wisdom of individuals selected by reputable media sources, assign values that then inform its audiences’ interpretation and perspective on the arts as well. If the WSJ says that these are the top artists, then they must be. And because men dominate this list, then they just must be better. This is not true. And I am disappointed in the WSJ for not being more responsible and doing their due diligence to provide a more gender balanced article.

Women have had a long history of being devalued and excluded from the arts. Shakespeare’s female roles were once performed by men, many art academies in Europe did not allow women, and many symphonies and orchestras have been hostile to female musicians.  Women historically, have had to struggle to be seen, heard, and recognized as legitimate artists. The good news is that, in recent decades, the number of women working in the arts has increased and in many fields women have reached equity in numbers, if not surpassed their male counterparts. Reports from the National Endowment for the Arts confirm this. However, how we as a society value the art produced by these women is still based on the masculine definitions of art established in the past. This becomes a challenge for women emerging onto the arts scene who have their own style and aesthetics, that are different from men, but just as valuable. The problem here is that, most of the time, we act on the impulse that anything different from what we have been conditioned to understand as the best, then is not the best, and we, thus, reject it.

It is time that society release the definition of great art, great music, and great performances from its sexist, homogeneity and recognize the value and richness that adding some gender diversity to these definitions can bring. The media, including the WSJ, then has a responsibility to stop perpetuate the myth of male domination in the arts and to help raise the awareness of its audience to the gender diversity that actually exists in the arts. Brilliant, creative, and innovative women are out there in the art world in numbers and greatness equal to men, but if the media doesn’t let you know who they are, then who will?

The Her Art Project at the UMKC Women’s Center is addressing this problem head on, by collaborating across campus and throughout the Kansas City area with other arts organizations to create programs and services that raise awareness to the contributions of women in the arts and to address the challenges that women working in the arts still face. This spring several events including workshops, lectures and exhibits are planned to support women in the arts in Kansas City.  Visit the Her Art Project website for more information.