Tag Archives: sexism

Women in Pictures: The Scary Truth about Women in Today’s Media

women“Today is National Women’s Day!” That’s how MeLissa greeted me this morning. “Hooray!!” was my first thought but as the idea began to process I wondered, what does that even mean? We should do something to celebrate, of course, but how? Intent has always included messages of feminism and sisterhood on the blog and via intents, but a lot of places don’t.

MeLissa and I recently attended a workshop for women with an interest in directing and we learned some startling statistics about the representation of women in media. The following facts come from the Geena Davis Institute  on Gender in Media which conducts various studies on the position of women in film and media.

  • Males outnumber females 3 to 1 in family films. In contrast, females comprise just over 50% of the population in the United States. Even more staggering is the fact that this ratio, as seen in family films, is the same as it was in 1946.
  • Crowd scenes in film and television are 17% female on average, despite women representing 51% of the world population.
  • Females are almost four times as likely as males to be shown in sexy attire. Further, females are nearly twice as likely as males to be shown with a diminutive waistline. Generally unrealistic figures are more likely to be seen on females than males.
  • Females are also underrepresented behind the camera. Across 1,565 content creators, only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female. This translates to 4.8 males working behind-the-scenes to every one female.
  • From 2006 to 2009, not one female character was depicted in G-rated family films in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in law, or politics. In these films, 80.5% of all working characters are male and 19.5% are female, which is a contrast to real world statistics, where women comprise 50% of the workforce.

No wonder women need a day to be celebrated. Part of the reason feminism is still a thing is because of statistics like this. When the images our children and the general public are confronted with are women in secondary roles or as sexual objects it becomes ingrained for women to aspire to these positions and for society to treat them as such. To start seeing a change we have to start portraying the change. It’s as simple as screenwriters adding “must be half-female” into their scripts when writing a crowd scene. Last year the number one selling movie worldwide was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and it was the first time in more than 40 years that a movie with a female lead topped the annual box office.

Luckily, there are many women leading the fight to change the way media portrays (or fails to portray) women in film and television. Last weekend Cate Blanchett won the Academy Award for her portrayal of a depressed woman trying to stay afloat in her own life in Blue Jasmine. When accepting the award she said this, “To the few in this industry that are still clinging to the idea that films with women at the center are niche – they are not. People want to see them and they make money. The world is round, people.” Case in point: Blue Jasmine, Bridesmaids, The Heat. When Lupita Nyong’o gave her speech for her Best Supporting Actress award she also said, “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every child that your dreams are valid!” On the surface it is such an inspiring statement, but what it really depicts is the sad truth that there are many children whose dreams are diminished by mainstream media’s backward policies on gender, race and sexuality.

Emma Thompson has also announced that she’ll be spending 2014 making a documentary about women in film because she’s disgusted with the way things currently are.

While it’s inspiring to know there are so many professional women fighting to make a difference in women’s opportunities both on screen and behind the lens – these numbers are scary. Not only to myself and MeLissa who are aspiring screenwriters but to the world in general. Do I want my future daughters to watch cartoons where all the girl characters are still sex objects? I want to be able to name pop culture examples of women that have been in charge because of a combination of their intellect, compassion and beauty rather than how great she looks in a pencil skirt. I want my daughter to inherit a media landscape where Kathryn Bigelow isn’t the only woman to ever win an Academy Award for directing.

The numbers are changing, so we’re being told, but it isn’t happening soon enough – especially if some of them haven’t changed since the 40s. Today is National Women’s Day but every day should be cause for us to stand up and support each other and create a more viable place for women in media and film. Our stories deserve to be told, to be validated as much as our male counterparts. We have to keep up the good fight so can stop differentiating between “men” and “women” stories and instead train ourselves and the world to see them all as what they really are – human stories.

VOD: Sexism on YouTube Deters Women from Hosting Tech and Science Vlogs

Having worked on The Chopra Well for over a year before joining the Intent Team I know first hand some of the ridiculous comments vloggers can get. They range anywhere from spam and complete nonsense to hate language and death threats. The anonymity of the internet allows people to spread their inner demons with reckless abandon, and while no vlogger is safe from these types of comments – women by far get the worst of it.

In this video, Brain Scoop host and noted YouTuber Emily Graslie addresses the sexist and harassing comments she has to dig through in her inboxes in every week. It’s more than insulting (because it’s the internet and we should just accept that’s the way it is, right? No.) It’s deterring other potential female vloggers from creating their own science, tech or math based channels. Emily explains that there are currently 13 male hosted STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) channels and seven of them have over 1 million subscribers. There are 4 women with STEM channels and none of them have over 200 thousand subscribers. Is that simply because guys are better at explaining and hosting STEM content? If you honestly believe that then we can tell you right now that this is not the blog for you.

The reason STEM channels and fields remain so heavily male dominated is because women are more easily deterred by the ludicrous comments they receive from viewers. There’s more pressure on women to not only deliver great content, but to look hot while doing so. And what does that say about us? That if a woman isn’t found physically attractive then the words coming out of her mouth aren’t important. God forbid she should make any small mistake in figures or say something that could be misconstrued as inaccurate because you can bet there will be a handful of trolls ready at their keyboards to demand she go back to the kitchen where she belongs. It’s 2013, everyone. Why are we still in this place?

The best point that Emily makes is that the commenters themselves aren’t the only problem. It is those that idly stand by and allow it to happen. It is both men and women that throw their hands up and say “That’s just the way it is,” that perpetuate this cycle of sexist, misogynistic nonsense. We have to do better. It’s not enough that you yourself don’t belittle women, STEM vloggers or otherwise, but we have to take a stand against those that do. We may not be able to cure the ignorance that catalyzes this behavior but if we all unite in the movement to say that it’s unacceptable we may be able to shame them back into the dark, secluded internet caves they came out of.

Thank you Emily for fighting the good fight and we wish you the best of luck in continuing your mission to provide stimulating and interesting science content for the masses via the interwebs. We stand with you. If you stand with Emily too let us know in the comments below. If your first instinct is to make a comment about how she needs cuter glasses then I request that you please step to the left – ain’t nobody got time for that.

VOD: Stop Buying Your Daughters Dolls and Get Them Into Science

There’s a new girl power anthem, and Beyonce isn’t singing it – it’s your daughter. They are telling you they are tired of being cast as “Princess Maids.” They like colors that aren’t pink or purple. They are telling you they are tired of being typecast by the toys that are marketed to them, and it is time for you to listen.

The commercial is for GoldieBlox, a toy company out to show the world that girls deserve more choices than dolls and princesses. GoldieBlox was founded by Stanford engineer Debbie Sterling who saw a need for girls to have creative toy options outside “the pink aisle” of the toy store. GoldieBlox is a combined book series and construction set starring Goldie – the girl inventor. The idea is to show girls that they aren’t limited to playing house or Disney Princess – they have just as much ability and opportunity to build things and invent like toys geared mainly for boys encourage. When you consider that less than 3 out of 10 graduating science majors are girls or that only 1 in 10 engineers are females – it’s time to start looking at the messages we are sending our daughters, sisters, nieces and friends about what they can achieve in math and science.

The video recruited Brett Doar, who created the epic Rube Goldberg machine for an OKGO music video. Together with three young actresses they recreated a Rube Goldberg using various girly toys and household implements to show just how awesome it is for girls to stop trying on dresses and start using their hands.

Take a look, and please send it along to any possible future inventor who could use some empowerment.

VOD: College Poet Tells the Sad Truth About Growing Up Female

“You were taught to grow out, I was taught to grow in,” Lily Myers recites at the Wesleyan University at the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. Her haunting poem chronicles the lessons and habits she’s picked up from her mother, passed down from the generations. Mentally she’s been conditioned to think of her self as small and that all efforts should be made to make herself smaller.

Is this a subconscious message we are sending to all young girls growing up? Is that why there’s a need for books like Lean InIt makes you take a step back and look at the messages we observe and regurgitate back out as the norm. How many times have you asked a question that started with the word sorry? More importantly, how do we empower ourselves, our sisters, our daughters and our friends to grow out instead of in?

If you have a video that you think should be featured in our Video of the Day column tell us in the comments below! 

An Open Love Letter to All the Judgmental, Racist, Sexist, Homophobes Out There

UntitledBy Chris Grosso

Hate, negativity, close-mindedness—none of this is new. Being heavily tattooed with big holes in my earlobes, a skateboarder and a fan of punk/hardcore music since my teenage years has left me all too familiar with judgmental people, especially growing up in a small town before these things started to become somewhat socially acceptable.

Disapproving looks, comments under the breath, or, in some cases, blatantly to my face, have been commonplace throughout my life, and it’s something that has led me time and again to seriously contemplate why people are the way they are. Particularly, why do people feel the need, or, that they have the right to cast judgments and write someone off based solely on outer appearances or personal lifestyle choices?

There’s really no simple answer. Each person is a unique individual with a unique set of circumstances that has led them to become the person they are today. One thing I’ve learned about myself, however, and my own judgments (because yes, I too am human and have no shortage of them), is that it’s rooted in fear.

For me, I’ve learned that being a counterculturist from a very early age, or, raging against the machine (though truth be told, I often wasn’t quite sure exactly what machine I was raging against) has often left me judgmental towards those in the mainstream media—from spiritual teachers to musicians, actors and so forth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly grateful for my punk/hardcore roots as they dismantled a lot of the naivety in my otherwise culturally conditioned mind, but I am definitely seeing some of the after effects playing out years later in my adult life (though adult or not, I still listen to plenty of punk/hardcore).

The fear of seeing myself as a “conformist” for nothing more than liking a popular band, or reading one of Oprah’s official book selections, or maybe, just maybe even admitting that someone like Justin Timberlake actually has some talent stems from fear. I mean really, why else do I feel the need to completely write these people off simply because they don’t look, talk or act like me? Isn’t that on a comparable level to what the close-minded individuals I’m writing about in this article are doing? Sure, they may be coming from a more hateful place, but at the end of the day, a close-minded judgment is a close-minded judgment.

I’m not here to make excuses for anyone, because hateful rhetoric of any kind turns my stomach. Every time I see the Westboro Church protestors and their “God Hates Fag” signs I feel my entire body begin to tense up, however, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t also make me feel a deep sadness and compassion for them.

I’ve been to some very dark places in my life. I lived for many years as a hardcore addict, and there were countless nights I would lay in a dark room wishing for death to take me. I was filled with fear, self-hatred and disdain for God, or whatever “it” was out there that created this whole insane goddamn world (how I felt then, not now). I lost so many years of my life to those experiences that now, years later having come out of the other side of them, I can’t help but contemplate what it’s like for others as they go to bed each night, or in this particular case, hate-filled people.

I put myself in their shoes and imagine what it must be like to lay their head down each night, filled with so much anger, hatred and fear. I’m sure the majority of it for these people is on a subconscious level, but still, it’s there. So whether they realize it or not, it’s making their lives what I could only imagine to be a complete living hell.

When I sincerely put myself in their shoes, it becomes virtually impossible for me to muster any judgments to cast back on them, no matter how much I disagree because honestly, all I’m left with is the desire to hug every single one of them. To really hold them in my arms and let them know that it’s going to be okay. To let them know they are loved and that whatever pain they are holding inside can be healed. To look them in the eyes with the compassionate understanding and again, tell them it’s going to be okay— that we’ve all suffered, and in varying degrees we all still hurt and suffer. I want them to know it’s all part of the human experience, and that since they are a fellow brother or sister in this journey, that I honor and love what they are beneath the thoughts and beliefs that are temporarily lodged in their minds.

Maybe some of you believe I’m naïve for thinking like this, and who knows, maybe I am, but this is what’s in my heart. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my travels, it’s that when I lay myself aside and allow my heart to do the driving, it never, ever, steers me in the wrong direction. I just don’t want to add to any more hatred to this world, and in this very moment, that’s the ultimate truth of what’s in my heart.

* * *

-1Chris Grosso is an independent culturist, freelance writer, spiritual aspirant, recovering addict, and musician. He serves as spiritual director of the interfaith center The Sanctuary at Shepardfields and is a correspondent for the Where Is My Guru radio show. He created the popular hub for all things alternative, independent, and spiritual with TheIndieSpiritualist.com and continues the exploration with his debut book titled Indie Spiritualist (Beyond Words/Atria Books, February 2014). A self-taught musician, Chris has been writing, recording, and touring since the mid-1990s. 
 
Connect with Chris online at The Indie Spiritualist, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

“Abused Goddesses”: The Ad Campaign that Tackles Domestic Violence in India

enhanced-buzz-13226-1378408862-44Hinduism is the most widely practiced religion in India and one of the largest religions in the world. It is a faith steeped in the concepts of karma, dharma, and the cycles of birth and death, watched over by central deities Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, among others.

Hinduism is also traditionally known to be highly reverent both the feminine and masculine forces in the world, paying tribute to gods and goddesses, alike. Some of these goddesses, like Parvati and Lakshmi are represented as ideal wives and mothers, modeling feminine virtue. But others, like Durga and Kali, and fierce and powerful in their own right, independent from any male god.

Unfortunately, this reverence in the spirit world does not always translate to real life. This is precisely why the ad company, Taproot, has developed a powerful campaign, called “Abused Goddesses,” to highlight the disparity between India’s goddess-centric religion and the troubling frequency of violence against women. The campaign states,

Pray that we never see this day. Today, more than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to.

Here are three poignant images from the campaign:

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Taproot developed this campaign for “Save Our Sisters,” a nonprofit organization that works against domestic violence and sexual exploitation. The images mirror classical paintings of the goddesses Saraswati, Durga, and Lakshmi, and you may be surprised to hear that these images are actually photographs! Makeup was painted on the models to portray wounds of domestic violence, and props are either real or painted on, as well.

Even apart from the artistic skill that went into these ads, the message is crucial. It we as a culture and a society respect women in theory but not in practice, then we are bound for a regressive and continually troubled future. Let’s start treating women – and all people – like the gods and goddesses they are!

Does the “Abused Goddesses” campaign inspire you? Tell us your thoughts below!

Peace Matters: A Mother Responds to the Call for Action Against Syria

War and PeaceAs I pull my truck up to the local harbor beach, loaded with sunscreened kids, oversized striped towels and inner tubes, John Kerry’s voice breaks in over my radio, tuned into NHPR. “This crime against conscience, this crime against humanity, this crime against the most fundamental principles of international community, against the norm of the international community, this matters to us, and it matters to who we are.”

“It Matters” is an eloquently written persuasive argument in favor of punitive action in Syria for their obvious use of chemical weapons against their own people. And as Kerry pontificates on the necessity of action, I’m mothering my way through the last bits of summer vacation.

Kids tumble out of the truck, doors slam, happy screams pierce, sun shines, and I grip the wheel. How does a peace-seeking person like me feel about this?

I hate war. I hate it. I hate that women who lovingly grow tiny seeds into human beings have to watch as their sons and daughters are sent overseas because the overwhelming majority of men on this planet value power, money and ego over life, love and collaboration.

While I hate war, I do not hate the men who declare it. In fact, the opposite. I love men as much as I love anyone, and I want to see men live long, healthy and productive lives. But as the world turns, I see what men do and what men make and I’m tired of dealing with the consequences of greed, power and competition.

For thousands of years we’ve been deserted by fathers, raped by prom dates, suppressed by regimes, penetrated by uncles, underestimated by brothers, underpaid by bosses, beaten by husbands and ignored by society. For thousands of years we’ve had to stand by while men make decisions about our fate and the fate of our planet. If during these thousands of years, men have not found a way to create a peaceful planet through leadership, it makes me wonder if men truly desire peace. Or are men addicted to conflict and combat? Are they afraid that the end of war will mean the end of their manly value?

Every one of us is hard wired with drive, with the desire to be the best at something, with the need to control our environment. It’s always been this way. But just because this is the way it’s always been doesn’t mean it’s right. History is doomed to repeat itself because we human beings aren’t brave enough to choose collaboration over competition – on a personal level, on a professional level, on a local level, on a global level, on a 1st grade recess level, on a college application level, on an I-got-the-job-now-what level. We’re all at war with one another. All of us. Heck, most of us are at war with ourselves.

We are never happy the way we are, which makes it impossible to accept others the way they are. This seems so mundane, so small. But this is life. This is people. War is people, too. War is one man with a severe sociopathic condition and a powerful following. But the problem of war isn’t THEM. The problem isn’t WHY. The problem is US. You and me. US.

There is so much work to do. And the work doesn’t start in Congress. It starts with you and me. It starts in bed at night when your mind is focused on office politics and peer manipulation. It starts in the kitchen when I stare down a bag of Newman’s Ginger O’s that will only add to my increasingly unmanageable lower belly. It starts on the playground when one sad, confused, pained little boy is labeled a bully because he hasn’t mastered impulse control or feels unlovable and unworthy of kindness. This is where war begins.  With the tiny seed of you and me.

This brings me back to the front seat of my parked Ford truck, simmering in the driver’s seat, white knuckling the wheel, “It matters,” Kerry asserts, “if the world speaks out in condemnation and then nothing happens.”

Yes, it does matter, Secretary Kerry. It matters. But peace matters, too. We belong to the most creative human society to tromp the earth. We send rocket ships to Mars, we Skype with our sisters living in Hong Kong, we collect energy from the sun and turn it into electricity. We are innovators. Let’s use this innovation and creativity to inspire peace. There is a way. There is always a way. Peace matters.

No boots on the ground, yes I know. Just a drone strike. But is it ever that simple? Strikes have consequences and I don’t believe for a minute that three-four-shut-the-door will be the result of Obama’s proposed swift and concise action.

More lives, more anger, more more more. How about a little less less less? Doesn’t that sound nice? A little less breaking news? A little less testosterone? A little less shrouded children? A little less worry? A little less tossing and turning? As unlikely as it may seem, peace matters. Peace now.

Toeing the “Blurred Lines” between Naughty and Natural

Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 12.22.06 PMAs the title of this post may imply, I’ve got Robin Thicke’s summer sizzler “Blurred Lines” on my mind today. On a website like Intent.com that features subjects like tempeh recipes and chakra meditations, this might leave you questioning my relativity here. But ride out this thought with me for a minute.

Typically, the only blurred line I’m contemplating is the one surrounding the smell in my car. Is that sour yogurt? Or urine? Hmmmm… (Hey, I’m a mother of several and frequent carpooler, what can I say?) But I woke up early this morning humming Thicke’s hit song. So I came downstairs before the wolf cubs awoke and pulled his video up on YouTube. Now this is an altogether different kind of blurred line. I have three letters for you: H-O-T.

Woah.

The first time I watched the video, Robin, T.I. and Pharrell were “hey-hey-heying” to gorgeous models wearing nude illusion undies and clear plastic smocks. A little kooky but the quirk was surprisingly sexy.

After watching, I wanted to hear the song again so I pressed play for a second time and found myself watching the unrated version. WHAAAATTTT???? All the women are naked! At first I thought they were still in their nude lingerie. Nope. They were rocking out wearing only skin tone thongs and tennis sneakers. Oh, and a goat. (Huh?)

I admit I kind of liked it. But it disturbed me at the same time. I’m a modern woman after all, a mother of girls, a spiritual blogger. And I’m not ignorant of the dent a production like this could make in our gender’s progress **if we so allow it, which I’m not inclined to do**. But I’d be lying if I said I hated it.

Mod Carousel, a Seattle-based boylesque troupe, created a feminist parody featuring men in flesh-tone skivvies and honestly, I felt the opposite of turned on. I’ll go so far as to say I felt “the yuck”. They were being funny, of course, but somehow a woman flaunting her sex strikes me as intriguing while a man flaunting his sex strikes me as Cro Magnon. It’s hypocritical, I know, but hypocrisy plays a starring role in life, doesn’t it?

Oh, there are all sorts of serious opinions on this song. But I’m not sure Thicke takes himself so seriously. Based on his hilarious video remake with Jimmy Kimmel and his past seemingly-orchestrated, sort-of-embarrassing, made-me-cringe-while-I-watched-it interview with Chelsea Handler, I’m thinking he’s a bit of a goof, challenging the world to get real about their own feelings about sex.

I get the blurred lines. Not only between naughty and nice but also between naughty and nature. We women don’t want to be objectified. But secretly, we kind of do. We don’t want our daughters to base their collective self image on physical beauty, but good looks undoubtedly has an important place in our human experience. Those who don’t have it yearn for it and those who do have it work it to their advantage.

And then there’s just the sex of it all. Sex is in our nature. It’s part of our existence. But so many people, especially here in America, are ashamed to talk about it. It’s here that we toe that blurred line of sex and image and what is really offensive and what is just real. I don’t know the answer myself, but I imagine it’s part of life’s mystery that will forever be debated.

All things considered, as much as I love the song, the video makes me feel uncomfortable to watch. Is that because I’m a Puritanical New Englander and I’ve been nurtured to cover up my nature? Or is it because these men should be laying on a couch with David Duchovny trying to balance a sex addiction? I’m not sure if it matters, because whatever the reason, I love being a woman and I’m happy with myself the way I am – in a turtleneck and pants.

Oh, there are so many directions we could take this. What are you thoughts? Naughty? Or natural? Chime in below.

Can the Rise of the Feminine Create a New Civilization?

Not to be confused with women taking over the world, the rise of the feminine in our society is a powerful and potentially transformative shift. In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra is joined by scholar, philosopher and researcher Jean Houston to discuss feminine archetypes and how a rise in feminine qualities will affect the civilization.

The emphasis in their discussion is on archetypes, which shouldn’t be confused with actual female versus male traits. Any given human characteristic might be expressed by any given human being, and we are at a point in our evolution where essentialized beliefs about the sexes are outdated. But as symbolic systems, gendered archetypes can be potent ways of looking at global trends, and this is what Deepak and Jean discuss as a need for the “rise of the feminine.”

Add your thoughts to the discussion and subscribe to The Chopra Well!

 

Thumbnail credit: Leela Francis

Are Girls Selling Their Bodies To Pay For College?

Marcel and I Doing Our Thing

Every now and then a story like this comes into the public arena. Burdened by college loans and living costs, a girl turns to porn (or escort services or being a dominatrix) just to stay above water. We feel sympathetic to these stories, bemoaning a troubled education system or the poor job market. But with social networking sites like MyGirlFund now littering every corner of the internet, and every fetish, fantasy, and “deviance” attainable at the click of a button, such techniques may become the way of the future. And that’s a scary reality.

MyGirlFund markets itself as a place for men and women to come together to “achieve their specific goals.” By that it means that women sign in to the site and set a fundraising goal they’d like to meet. Men sign in and can peruse the women, engage them in chat and video conversations, and contribute to their funds if they wish. The women will up the ante by posting nude or semi-nude photos and videos of themselves and set prices to certain “goods.” As an example, one woman posted: “$55 til goal… hit it for me and you get 6 vids.” Another posted: “All content $30!!” And there’s no mistaking what the “content” entails.

MyGirlFund is now reporting that many college girls are flocking to the site before matriculating, hoping to make some money for their college tuition. The site’s Director of Business Development, Stefan Patrick commented:

Members list their financial goals when they join and the new coeds are vocal about their tuition needs. One new member penned the memorable line, ‘When good girls can’t pay their tuition, anything can happen,’ on her profile, but overall these are young women who would never consider stripping, porn or public group cam shows.

Patrick argues that the women have total autonomy and that the site can actually be very empowering for them, allowing them to achieve their goals in a safe and private environment. Clearly this guy, and others involved with the website, can’t appreciate the deeply degrading and sexist system we live in that makes girls think their bodies can be assigned monetary value. But we’ve lived in this world with its rampant gender inequality long enough to know that men will pay for women to bare their bodies.

On that note, we’d like to know who these men are who get pleasure out of gawking at women in such a materialistic way. Perhaps it wouldn’t seem so offensive if the exhibitionism and voyeurism at least went both ways, but MyGirlFund organized the site in such a way that male and female roles are rigidly defined. Either way, we have to find healthier ways of paying tuition and making a living — not to mention connecting with other human beings in meaningful ways.

What do you think? Is this an acceptable way for girls to earn their college tuition, or is this as backwards, sexist, and disrespectful as it seems? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

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