She Said/He Said: The Modern Male Feminist

She Said:
by Patsy Campos

I have to admit that when I think of the term “feminist” I do not automatically think of men. However, I would love to see more men advocating for gender equality. Whenever a man says he is a feminist, he is rising from the crowd of timid men by supporting equality among males and females. Some men still cling to traditional gender roles, but I know that most men would support gender equality for everyone. At the Women’s Center, we have many male supporters who participate in our programs and it is truly amazing how much these men really want to help eradicate gender oppression. I admire men who advocate for gender equality, despite their male privilege. Many men I know realize that sexual assault is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The gender pay gap and the motherhood penalty are also important obstacles that men and women should work together to resolve. Instead of being judged by their gender, all people should be judged by their character or skills. That is why I like working at the Women’s Center because I learn about feminist ideas from diverse perspectives.  

He Said:
by Devon White

Let’s cut to the chase:
I’m black.
I’m a male.
I am a feminist.
I’m a male feminist!
Wait a minute—what the heck is a “male feminist”?

There has been a lot of debate about what it means to be a male feminist. Feminism is an organized movement that works to eliminate women’s oppression in social, economical and political positions. So, a male feminist is a self-identified man who supports these ideas and believes in equal rights for both sexes. A lot of people think that men have no role in feminism, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. According to Jane Pilcher and Imelda Whelehan, “This assumption that men, as part of the problem, should be part of the solution was a theme in early radical feminism, even though radical feminism is usually associated in the popular consciousness with separatism and man-hating1.” I feel that men must educate themselves on how their male privilege manifests itself in all ways of life, and the expectations they hold of the women in their life due to that privilege. We need to support and encourage men to respect feminist principles without making them feel emasculated for their advocacy of women’s rights.

Growing up in a predominantly female family, it felt natural for me to embrace womanism and feminism. I too experienced many of the struggles my grandmother, aunts, and cousins faced. Over time I came to understand that stopping the oppression of women is beneficial to everyone. We can’t progress as a society when we continue to marginalize on the basis of gender, race, or sexuality.  It takes effort to marginalize and oppress people; what if we used that effort instead to empower people, encouraging diverse ideas that will make our society better?

Like Patsy, I strongly believe in women’s equity and that “…all people should be judged by their character or skills,” regardless of their gender. In order to achieve gender equality, men should take accountability for our contribution to sexism and gender inequality. We have a tendency to blame the victim but if we want to solve issues such as domestic violence and the gender pay gap, men need to look within themselves and understand how they contribute to these problems. There is plenty of room at the table for anyone who wants to challenge the sexism, misogyny and patriarchal norms found among our communities and institutions. So, to my fellow male counterparts, I ask: What are you waiting for? Pull up a seat!
———
1Pilcher, Jane, and Imelda Whelehan. 50 Key Concepts in Gender Studies. London: Sage Publications, 2004. 50. Print.

Selling Stereotypes: Sexism in Advertising

By Devon White

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RyPamyWotM&feature[/youtube]Turn on your TV, thumb through any mainstream (on-the-counter) magazine or drive by the suggestive billboard on your way home, and you’re likely to encounter some form of sexism in advertising. According to Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog, sexism is defined as “… discrimination based on gender and the attitudes, stereotypes, and the cultural elements that promote this discrimination.” Sexism can be seen in ads through the imagery of women as sex objects, domestic archetypes, or pure props in male-driven scenarios. A 2008 article on the Huffington Post highlights images of bondage and rape as some of the prevalent trends in consumer ads and nearly two years later, those trends are still evident today. These stereotypical ads vilify and eroticize women, and create an unrealistic expectation of women’s gender roles.

 Sexism is not new to advertising; Jezebel has examples of ads from a not too distant era that are equally as disturbing as their contemporaries. Bitch Magazine is taking a poll on recent TV commercials that eroticize and/or stereotype women to push their products. As of today, the ad in the video has received the most votes to lead the sexist pack.

 These ads are not only damaging to gender equality, but speak to the necessity of more women in the advertising industry, currently a male-dominated field. Women make up 85% of consumer purchases in the United States; yet only 3% of women are creative directors in advertising agencies. I was browsing the internet and ran across a recent Skyy Vodka ad that clearly suggests phallic worship. This blatant sexual suggestion reiterates that the field is in need of decision makers who come from diverse backgrounds and are culturally competent if they hope to appeal to a broad, diverse audience.

 Sexism is something that we must address in today’s society. This issue is far too damaging to long-term psychological issues and social beliefs.

 Which ads would you consider to be the most sexist? Are you less likely to buy the product because of their offensive advertisements?

If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say…

Image from Psychology Today

I am sure we all remember being told at some point during childhood that if you didn’t have anything nice to say then you shouldn’t say anything at all. Apparently that particular lesson didn’t stick very well. More and more I am noticing people’s casual use of demeaning words like “slut”, “whore”, and “ho”. Not just men but women. What’s most disturbing about this trend is that women get angry when men call them names or degrade them but they seem just fine to do it to each other.

I just read an article on the Choices Campus Blog, about women’s use, and especially our generation’s use of derogatory terms and how they have become so common in our society. In her article, Jacqui Logan, talks about how the continuation of using these slurs is creating problems like reinforcing the idea that gendered insults are okay. Logan raises some really good points and after reading her article, I kept thinking about how much my generation uses terms like “slut” and “bitch” and some other creative terms that wouldn’t be appropriate for this blog.

In some ways I feel as if it has become so normal to call each other “bitch” (in a mean way or casually) or to label someone a “slut” or a “whore” because of what they were wearing or how they were acting that we don’t really think about what it means. I can’t tell you how many times while talking to a girlfriend they would say that some girl was a “slut” because she was wearing a skimpy outfit or they would refer to their own behavior as being “slutty” because they made out with a random guy while at a party. Why do we do this to each other and ourselves?

In terms of how some woman dresses, aren’t we trying to get across the message that no outfit condones derogatory behavior or sexual assault but then we continue to call each other “sluts” for the exact same thing? Or how about some girl hooking up with a guy? Why do people call her a “slut”? If you think about it there isn’t a male version of that insult. Part of fighting for equality includes fighting for the abolishment of double standards especially when it comes to sexuality. With society perpetually pressuring women to be virtuous and to not engage in sex as freely as men having been doing for centuries or at least not to openly talk about it, you would think that instead of buying into the “slut”/“whore” labeling we would stand up for each other and embrace our own and our friends sexuality.

No woman should be made to feel ashamed of herself, demeaned, or be called any type of derogatory slurs, but it happens. But perhaps instead of doing it to each other and giving a bad example for society, we should choose our words more carefully. Call me crazy but I believe that we as women face enough challenges without creating division and competition between ourselves and hurting each other.

Miller Lite Wants You to "Man" Up

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iawDvGfDBc]

Miller Lite has created two commercials advertising their beer product.  Unfortunately, the commercials are very sexist towards women. They assume women don’t care about the taste of beer and actually insinuating that beer is a ‘man’ thing.  After looking at this commercial numerous times, this is clearly a misrepresentation of all women.  The fact of the matter is women do care about selecting a particular alcoholic beverage and we don’t like being used as an insult.

This commercial feels like it isn’t just to promote Miller Lite’s beer, but it is also putting down women by using femininity as an insult for the men and assuming females don’t care about things like how beer tastes.  The truth of the matter is, being a woman is an awesome thing and society needs to quit turning being a ‘woman’ into an insult. It’s sad that masculinity is still considered the ultimate trait and femininity a bad one. Miller Lite and society need to stop making being ‘female’ the ultimate insult.