Sports and Girls

Do you think we have girl sports and boy sports?? What is a typical girl sport? Yoga? Dance? Cheer leading? Ballet?

What about boy sports? Football? Soccer? Baseball?

Even in sports, the stereotypes exist. Many people think that girls are not “qualified” for playing sports. Even if they do, people think they are not good. 

The practice of excluding girls from “manly” sports start from the younger ages. In elementary school, males play soccer, basketball, or baseball in recesses. However, they do not want females to join and play with them. Even though, females are good players. 

The stars in commercials are usually male sports players. For example, David Beckham probably appeared in many commercials. He even advertised for female’s perfume commercial. Then, where are the female star players? They do appear, however, they are not very favorable in advertisements. 

Then there is another question? How many female players do we know compare to the male players? My answer would be very little. Even though, people are having more interests and trying to support them more than previous years. However, we still need a long way to go for females to be treated equally with male players. 

Advertisements

Feminism and “Girls”

Image

Since the airing of its first season in April 2012, Girls has received a great deal of praise. But the HBO series has also encountered a lot of criticism. My goal for this month’s post is to begin exploring the feminist content (or lack thereof) in Lena Dunham’s Girls. (Click the link to see a trailer for the first season).

The series launched as a response by HBO to criticism that many of their shows are male oriented and is– refreshingly– directed by a female. It follows the lives of Hannah (played by the show’s director, Lena Dunham) and her close friends Marnie, Shoshanna, and Jessa. These female leads are all approximately twenty years old, cisgender, straight, white, educated, and middle to upper class.

Bridesmaids producer Judd Apatow said that Girls would provide men with an insight into “realistic females” (Goldberg). And indeed, the show is honest in its portrayal of imperfect females. Hannah/Lena Dunham, who appears to be the show’s leading character, is not model-thin or conventionally beautiful and is coming to terms with being overweight. The characters are not always perfectly groomed, either. They are shown in pajamas, without makeup, and without a consistently flawless wardrobe, unlike many shows. The girls are very open about their sexuality, and sex scenes are often awkward and more characteristic of real life than other shows which do not exhibit awkwardness in sex scenes. And, despite their cissexuality, different sexualities are portrayed between the girls. Hannah is very experimental and sometimes takes part in what may be considered BDSM, Shoshanna is a virgin for much of the first season, Jessa is headstrong and is not afraid to seek out sexual partners, and Marnie represents “vanilla” sex (or conventional sex).

When we analyze a show based on intersectionality, we must take the many intersections of people’s identity into account, including: race-ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, education, class, and abilities. So, despite the many positive aspects of this show, Girls has been criticized for appealing to a limited audience. For example, there are certainly no central characters who represent other races. In fact, even though the girls live in New York City, it is rare to see even an extra character of another race. There are no characters with disabilities, and the main characters do not associate with characters of a lower class.

Girls writer Lesley Arfin responded to complaints regarding the lack of black characters on the show with a tweet saying, “What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME.”

In a way, I understand Arfin’s frustration with the show’s critics. But I can’t help thinking back to a course reading from earlier this term: Peggy McIntosh’s White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. In this essay, McIntosh compiles a list of privileges often taken for granted by white people. Most relevant to this post is number six on her list:

“6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.”

Unfortunately it seems that popular culture is still lacking in its representation of non-white races and characters that do not pertain to what we so often refer to as the “cultural hegemony.” Girls provides a perfect example of this shortcoming. But can it still be considered a step in the right direction?

A perfect television series would allow for representation of numerous aspects of identity: different race-ethnicities, different sexualities, different genders, and so on. Girls is focused on the positionality of white, educated, cisgender females. This is Lena Dunham’s area of expertise as she identifies with those categories. Imagine if she chose to represent other aspects of identity through her lead characters – would she be criticized for her representation of those characters? People will always criticize popular culture for one reason or another. Personally, I feel that Girls has made progress through its honest portrayal of women and because it is a female centred show– directed by a female– in an industry that tends to be male-dominated. Outside of this series, we need to continue expanding the realm of representation in the media. What do you think?

 

Works Cited: Continue reading

Duck Dynasty Quack Show

Duck Dynasty is a new reality T.V show that is also currently the #1 reality T.V show. It has been praised by fans for its down to earthness, upholding family values and providing genuine entertainment without the usage of the traditional recipe of materialism, opulence, fame and sex. However, through the intersectional analysis of gender and race I hope to bring to light how ‘hixploitation’ is utilized to reinforce the traditional gender roles and ‘American-dream’ families.

It is extremely prominent on the show, the blatant, stereotyped representation of hillbillies or ‘red-neck’ white individuals. The main cast, the Robertson Brothers are represented as stereotypical rednecks, always shown wearing hunting gear, even around the house in front of the dinner table. The show emphasizes the stereotypes to communicate their down-to-earthness as a backwardness/retardation to highlight the progress more upstanding Americans in the cities or the suburbs have made. To make matters worse, the show reinforces the idea that redneck individual’s poverty lifestyle is a choice, which enables upscale societal members to feel comfortable while laughing at the antics with the hillbillies in the center. Additionally, it pushes some people to embrace the stereotype as a badge of honor.

Duck-Dynasty

What is not evident at all on the show is people of minority. By deliberately shying away from the representation of minority individuals, the show communicates a message that the stereotyping of redneck individuals is not being racist. As stated by Michelle Dean, “ hillbilly stereotypes have always made it easier for middle-class whites to presume that racism is the exclusive province of “that kind” of person. As Ta-Nehisi Coates has written, “It is comforting to think of racism as species of misanthropy, or akin to child molestation, thus exonerating all those who bear no real hatred in their heart. It’s much more troubling to think of it as it’s always been—a means of political organization and power distribution.”

Members of the Robertson Family could be used as a picture definition for the gender roles male and female. The show hyper masculinizes the Robertson brothers to reinforce traditional male roles. You kill things. You eat them. You take care of your family. And you grow a beard. Big beards, reserved for the men. Furthermore, through the representation of females on the show, it destroys generations’ worth of work towards female equality. There is a clear distinction between a man and a woman. The show has only managed to show the wives in their “traditional” habitat, in the kitchen cooking away, in a pedicure salon getting pretty, or the mall shopping. The show utilizes the portrayal of females to communicate a message that females are dependent on male to bring home the food and that the females ‘serve’ their husbands. Additionally, the men spend time with the boys teaching them how to be men. They give them warnings of the dangers that await them in the world, but also encourage them to be distinct in their manhood.  Likewise, the women teach the girls how to grow up and be women. This is utilized to reinforce the show’s portrayal of American Families; a picture of marriage that is between one male and one female. To further reinforce that message the show always ends with the Robertson Family sitting together with the dad sitting at the head of the table, leading the prayer and the family enjoying diner together.

What is completely void in the show is the representation of transgendered/multigendered individuals. By not representing this group the show delivers a message that these individuals are somehow unable to live the ‘rough, outdoor’ lifestyle. This communicates that transgendered individuals are somehow less-able, or too weak to ‘rough-it’ and hunt for their own food; basically unable to sustain themselves without help from others.

In Conclusion, Duck Dynasty may offer some light-hearted entertainment, however individuals without the tools to critically view the show, will fall pretty to the producers intentional and unintentional attempt to reinforce the traditional gender roles and ‘American-dream’ families.

What are your guys’ opinions about ‘hixploitation’? Do you think this might cause stereotypes about Americans or white people in general for people viewing it outside of North America?

Queen’s WEC presents Down There

Image

 

On March 16th, I was fortunate enough to see the captivating show Down There, performed by members of the Women’s Empowerment Committee at Queen’s University. It was a collection of different pieces/stories written, directed and performed by students. The pieces were about sexual identity, and issues that are not openly discussed.

 

Walking into the show, I was not sure what to expect. Would this be one big production? Would there be small segments? What are these stories going to be like? Will I feel awkward? What will the audience be like? How will people react? Who is in the show? So many unknown possibilities and questions were running through my mind as I walked through the doors, and waited in anticipation for the show to start. With a mixture of nervousness and excitement, I walked away from the experience being very pleasantly surprised.

During the show, I felt myself react in many different ways to the different monologues as they were being performed. I felt a bit uncomfortable when I was watching the piece “Pretty” and “Not my Fault”. I was very intrigued by the actresses who were performing them, and the emotion they put into the performance truly conveyed the importance of the piece and message that it was giving. However, I also felt uncomfortable and the more I have thought about this, I have come to realize that I was able to draw a personal connection to each of the performances. The piece “Pretty” was performed by a girl my age, and someone I knew. The piece “Not My Fault” was a real life story written by a Queen’s student about her horrible experience with rape on campus. I believe that I felt a specific level of un comfort when exposed to these stories because they were very realistic to me, and I could grasp the possibility that that could be happening to anyone around me.

I also felt surprise and shock, specifically in the piece “Cellophane Wrapping”. The performer had the appearance of a man; he acted and sounded like a man, and even made comments to encourage the audience to assume that he was a male. However, in retrospect, he never explicitly stated that he was in fact a male. In my mind, I did not question it. My assumptions trumped any doubt that I could possibly have about his identification. At the end of the piece, he stated that he was in fact born a woman, however identifies himself as a transgendered man. I was completely caught off guard and shocked. The fact that I had assumed so much also shocked me, when I really knew nothing about him. I was also inspired by this piece because I had never seen such confidence and strength in a person when discussing identities, and he was very open and confident in his performance and sharing himself and a bit his story with an audience of strangers.

Lastly, I felt humor and amusement out of some of the pieces, specifically the “Feminism: A Disney Music” and “Blood Bath”. I thought that both of those pieces portrayed serious and debatable topics in an appropriate way which made them funny, and engaged the audience. They were a very good balance to the rest of the show, and also symbolized that although many of these topics and issues are seen in a dark or ignored light, they can be looked at in different ways. There were jokes made that, In my opinion, demonstrated to the audience that there are some topics that are potentially more easily discussed and talked about when you add some humor.

All in all, I think that the show Down There was eye opening. I was exposed to identification issues that I hadn’t really been exposed to before. I also caught myself making assumptions about people that I really have no right to make. I was able to see and feel firsthand what removing these identity issues from the shadow looked like and felt like, and I believe that Down There was the first step of many to exposing and addressing gender identification issues.

 

Have you heard about the show Down There? Is it something that interests you? How do you feel about gender identification issues? What assumptions do you make daily about peoples gender identification? Are these assumptions avoidable? 

Fat-tax for airplane passengers

In the Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management Dr. Bharat P. Bhatta proposed a model to determine the price of a person’s flight ticket. This method of pricing is said to “provide significant benefits to airlines, passengers and society at large.” The way in which doctor Bharat intends to charge people with his method is to set a base fare, then establish a predetermined discount to customers who are under the weight designated as low. In addition, people who are over the weight threshold will have to endure a predetermined extra charge. In addition, Dr. Bharat proposes to measure every 1 of 5 passengers to ensure accuracy and no lying.

Image

Although this may be obvious, I think that this report was formulated to increase profit and was not really considering the effects it may have on the world as a whole. The methods that are being derived to determine the price of a person’s flight ticket should not only increase profit but also consider the ramifications it has on popular culture.

This method of pricing tickets does not seem fair to me at all. The pressure on the North American society to maintain the ideal body image portrayed by popular culture has just gone to the next level. What is meant by next level is that at one time media was the only factor that was important enough to effect popular culture. The appearance of stars from Hollywood was used to portray the ideal male and female image. Even though media is still a huge factor in popular culture real-life critics at the airport labeling a person as overweight or underweight is going to put added pressure on popular culture. As mentioned above, in the report itself, the doctor states the there will significant benefits to passengers and society. Although I do not understand how this will benefit all the passengers and society at large, this method of pricing will uphold and reinforce the popular culture belief that people with the ideal body image have better opportunities in society.

This method of pricing is also not fair for people who have health problems, which disable them to have the ideal body image. For example, people with thyroid conditions, which are serious, make them gain weight and these individuals cannot control it. Individuals who are overweight should not be segregated from the rest of the population and do not deserve to pay extra charges to get on a flight.

Furthermore, this report focuses on being overweight as a problem in need of a cure rather than providing a less discriminatory society. This is a reoccurring theme in popular culture today, which must be stopped! Instead of scientists working on charging passengers based upon their weight they should be trying to find ways to create planes, which weigh less. They could be trying to find materials that weigh less or have more effective ways of powering flight.

Although lowering the weight of the plane may save money in fuel and thus decrease CO2 emissions is that a good enough reason to start weighing people and charging them for their appearance?

references

http://www.palgrave-journals.com/rpm/journal/v12/n2/full/rpm201247a.html

http://dailytrojan.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/web_Wendy.jpg

Only White Males Can Be Heroes in Hollywood.

I’m going to talk about an uncomfortable topic that has been bugging me about our society, Western society to be exact. Having been born and raised Seoul, South Korea until I was seven, I grew up watching and idolizing protagonists in films produced mostly by Korean production companies. Perhaps this is what made me more perceptive to this blatant marginalization. I’m talking about the marginalization of male actors of Asian racial background in western pop-culture.

In western media, Asian actors are marginalized to playing roles where they are portrayed as some type of martial arts fighter incapable of having emotional/sexual desires, an antagonist/side-kick, or as an emasculated, geeky, dismissive male. Through the marginalization of Asian actors in western media, white filmmakers and producers and ‘yellow-faced‘ performers are permitted to determine what it means to be Asian.

Korean Movie Industry

Image

Image
VS
In Hollywood:

ImageImage

Image

It is rare to see Asian male actors in a protagonist role unless you’re outside western media.  It’s a destructive, biased representation that perpetuates Asian stereotypes in western society.

Mako Iwamatsu, who is mostly-known for his Academy and Golden Globe award nominated role in the movie The Sand Pebbles, recalls a studio executive’s reaction when asked about featuring a non-Asian in the lead of “Kung Fu,” the classic 1970s TV show: “I remember one of the vice presidents — in charge of production, I suppose — who said, ‘If we put a yellow man up on the tube, the audience will turn the switch off in less than five minutes.’ ” Continue reading

Yoga Pants and Rape Culture

god-created-yoga-pantsDuring reading week, I came across an article on my news feed from YogaDork.com titled The Comfort and Sexualization of Yoga Pants. In the article, author hollypenny explores the increasing popularity of yoga pants and leggings, which have become widely acceptable to wear in public.

The author makes reference to a hypersexualized website called Girls in Yoga Pants and then to an article on The Good Men Project to make her point about the sexualization of yoga pants. She mentions two very important quotations from Nathan Graziano’s article in which he states:

“I have a hard time believing that—outside of the gym or the yoga classes—women wear yoga pants solely for comfort.”

“…baggy sweatpants are also comfortable, so I can only assume there’s more to it. There is an implicit game here—the age-old tease where women flaunt and men look.”

She then points to this comment posted on Graziano’s article:

“yeah honestly I have to admit this whole deal is more than a little alarming to me … when most of the girls in my daughter’s high school show up in very revealing skin tight yoga pants it seems to me like something has gone a bit off. … I guess I like that women feel comfortable in their own yoga skin and also that fitness is something that we all generally are more aware of. But I do ask myself repeatedly how it became okay to wear close to nothing to dinner or class or a movie? I am not a prude by any means. But what ever happen to a nice pair of jeans and a white t-shirt?”

hollypenny asks, “Are we all really too sex-crazed to the point where clothed, rounded bodily shapes are too much to handle?”

The Comfort and Sexualization of Yoga Pants prompted me to consider a larger issue that is often discussed in the context of social media and internet activism, and one that was not explicitly referenced in the article: rape culture. In Gendered Worlds (one of our GNDS 125 textbooks), the writer introduces rape culture with regards to the American legal system, explaining that “in rape trials before the feminist reforms of the 1980s, women’s actions, dress, and words could become implicated in the [case of a] rape. Often the rape victim herself was on trial, as rapists’ excuses and justifications– ‘she asked for it’ or ‘no really means yes’– blamed the victim for the crime” (Aulette and Wittner 125). My understanding of the term “rape culture” is that it involves the perpetuation and encouragement of a culture in which rape and victim blaming are not taken seriously. It also involves “slut bashing” or “slut shaming,” when women experience “bullying and harassment regarding [their] perceived sexual behaviour with the intent to shame, degrade and dehumanize the victim” (Tolmie). Dehumanization, according to our professor Jane Tolmie, is a factor in the objectification of women, or the idea of women as objects for male pleasure. Furthermore, the “degradation and dehumanization inherent in slut-shaming has shaped societal discourses on rape, abuse, and harassment. Slut-shaming is a consistent theme in the lives of women as the fear of ever being labeled a “slut” provides a method of social control against women living as sexualized beings” (Tolmie).

The idea that men would think that women choose to wear yoga pants in order to please them and the comments that hollypenny refers to in her article are perfectly in line with rape culture, slut bashing, and the objectification of women.

I think hollypenny's poll speaks for itself here.

I think hollypenny’s poll speaks for itself here.

Why should women and girls feel ashamed to wear clothing that makes them feel comfortable and confident about their bodies? As hollypenny writes, “How did it become ok to wear [yoga pants]? When we, women, decided it was ok. When we started practicing yoga and decided we would feel good in our bodies and our clothes while doing anything from yoga to running errands to sitting on the couch.” Many of the comments on her article support this argument. One user wrote,

“In all honesty, I never wear baggy sweatpants in public because they get in the way! […]

If I’m wearing skin-tight yoga pants […] I can move about without the burden of stepping on my hems. Plus, yoga pants look less sloppy!

I have never ONCE thought “oh, I’m going to wear the hell out of these yoga pants because guys LOVE it”. Get over yourself, guys.”

But is it okay to want to feel “sexy” as well? Another user wrote,

“I would like to have the option to choose that I wear yoga pants outside of a yoga class because they are easy & comfortable AND that they make me look sexy.

Choice number three: Both.”

Regardless of a person’s reason for choosing to wear yoga pants or leggings, whether they wear them for comfort or even to look more attractive, their decision should be respected by others. This means not making them feel ashamed for their clothing choices, not treating or viewing them as a sex object, and not calling them a slut.

One of my favourite comments on the article says,

“If yoga pants are sexy it is because they cover the toned legs of fit yoginis rendered beautiful inside and out by a regular yoga practice. ;)”

So what do you think? Do you think that despite efforts to increase awareness of rape culture and slut bashing, women should still make careful decisions about their clothing? Can you think of any strategies for increasing awareness and eliminating rape culture?

Check out these images for a better understanding of rape culture.

Works Cited: Continue reading