Tag Archives: women’s rights

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: Lily Allen Bluntly Calls Out Sexism and Misogyny in Today’s Music

Brit singer Lily Allen has always been known for having a bit of a smart mouth, but this week she’s making waves on the internet for her new single, “It’s Hard Out Here for a B*tch.” The title alone is enough to start some controversy, but Allen takes on the various female stereotypes in the new video and doesn’t pull any punches on how women are talked about in today’s biggest hits. Most pointedly she sings in the second verse, “Have you thought about your butt lately and who is going to tear it in two?” which is a direct reference to rapper T.I.’s line in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” “I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two.”

Allen makes a few other references to Thicke’s single and video in particular, but her point overall is that it’s time to stop saying that women have made so much “progress” as if it’s time to stop pushing for equal rights when they are treated and painted as caricatures in mainstream media. To see the video click below. Warning: Due to language this video may be NSFW. 

What do you think of Lily Allen’s video? Thumbs up or down? Let us know in the comments below!

VOD: 4 Young Poets Speak the Truth About Costume Sexualization

Have you noticed when you go to buy a Halloween costume that the outfits get skimpier and skimpier? Or that it’s impossible to be something like a nurse or a police officer or firefighter without the word “sexy” on the front of the package? It’s a phenomenon that has been going on for years, but what is the message we are sending to our children?

These four girls teamed up to recite a poem called “Monster” where they discuss the problematic nature of store-bought costumes for women these days. They stand up for their own image, the right to own Halloween without showing all of their parts to the world – to decide for themselves what is sexy based on what they think is cool rather than how naked they are. They are monsters and they are heroes. Cheers, ladies.

What do you think of the girls’ performance? Do you have a suggestion for our Video of the Day column? Tell us in the comments below!

VOD: Malala Yousafzai Interview on The Daily Show

She risked her life to stand up for girl’s education in Pakistan. She survived a gun-shot to the head for those beliefs. She is a best-selling author. And now, at only 16 years old, Malala Yousafzai is the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

The incredibly courageous teenager gave an exclusive interview to Jon Stewart and The Daily Show on Tuesday night where she talked about her homeland, the rise of the Taliban and why she thinks that education is too important to stop fighting for. Stewart himself even asks if he can adopt her when Malala explains her thought process after finding out the Taliban were threatening her. This is a must watch interview for anyone that has been following Malala, believes in equal education rights, or just needs a few pointers on how to be a better human being. This girl has a lot to teach all of us.


You can watch the extended interview on The Daily Show website.

Are you inspired by Malala’s story and interview? Or do you have a video you’d like us to share in our Video of the Day column? Tell us in the comments below! 

3 Videos That Explain the Government Shutdown

Yesterday, after Congress failed to pass a new budget (or a continuing resolution to give them more time to work out a budget), the federal government was shutdown. But what does that mean? It means that government services deemed “non-eseential” were closed until Congress passes a bill to allow them to re-open and some 800,000 government employees are currently not working.

VlogBrother Hank Green (the other VlogBrother is NYT Bestelling author John Green) posted a video yesterday that more clearly explains what it means when your government shuts down, what services are effected, and the deeper root of this problem:

But why is the government shutting done? 

To answer that question we turn to Senator Elizabeth Warren (D)  from Massachusetts. On Monday, September 30, Senator Warren gave a speech on the Senate floor about her disbelief of the current situation. “[The shutdown] is a last gasp of hope for those that can’t deal with the reality of this democracy,” is a quote from Warren’s speech that you have probably seen plastered all over your Facebook pages. Senator Warren drops even more knowledge about the Tea Party contingent of the House of Representatives forcing this shut down as a way to gut the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare) in the full version of the speech below:

Wait, this is about Obamacare? Didn’t the Supreme Court already say it was constitutional? 

They did. The Affordable Care Act has been through all the proper steps to become a law – passed by the House and Congress, singed by the President and declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. It has checked off all the verses in that infamous School of Rock video we all had to watch in Civics class. And Obamacare is exempt from the government shutdown so it still went into effect yesterday, October 1, making the entire situation even more infuriatingly pointless.

Sometimes the best thing to do is to make a joke when explaining the reality is too baffling. Jon Stewart may have made the best metaphor possible on Monday night’s “The Daily Show” with a new segment “Rockin’ Shutdown Eve.”

In essence, politicians are playing chicken with the paychecks of almost 1 million government workers at stake. They have suspended vital services to underprivileged children and the elderly to bargain for their ideological ideals rather than by their desire to do what is best for this country, and that is unacceptable.

Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, supporter of the Affordable Care Act or not, we can all agree that politicians need to stop holding America hostage for their own agendas – and that goes for both sides. We the people elected Congress to represent and work for us, and they need to do better. That’s really what you need to know about the government shutdown.

What do you think of the shutdown? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 

7 Old-Time Ads That Would Cause Riots Today

Before tobacco companies were legally mandated to disclose the connection between cigarettes and cancer - it was probably a winning strategy to be the most popular death stick with doctors!When there are campaigns in the US to ban literary classics and relegate women to second class citizenship it can be hard to tell how much progress we’ve made over the years.

But can you imagine a time when it was okay to send all of your friends cartons of cigarettes for Christmas? How about feed your baby coca-cola in their morning bottle? Women are still fighting for the right to make decisions about their own bodies, but what about a time when wives were only considered important for their ability to put dinner on the table?

Check out these real ads from the past that would cause certain outrage today. Some of them are ironic, some illegal and others infuriating. We still have a long way to go with some of the issues these ads raise, but sometimes it’s good to see how far we’ve come already.

What do you think of these? Which is the most surprising to you? Tell us in comments below! 

Openly Gay Politician Uses Tea-Party Dad in Awesome Campaign Ad

Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 12.28.34 PM
There’s an adage that says, “parents just don’t understand” which openly gay Massachusetts lawmaker Carl M. Sciortino, Jr., who is running to replace now-Senator Ed Markey in next month’s state primary, is using to compel voters with is viral campaign ad.

“I’ll never forget that conversation with my dad when I had to come out and tell him…” Sciortino begins, and everyone thinks he’s going to say “that I was gay.” Instead, Sciortino throws a curveball and says, “that I was a Massachussetts liberal.” The rest of the ad cuts between the two recounting Sciortino’s increasingly liberal policies – from Wall Street and NRA regulation to equal rights initiatives.

It is touching though when Sciortino’s father begins lamenting over his son writing “The Buffer Zone” law – which protects women entering abortion clinics from harassment – but admits he’s proud his son got it all the way to the supreme court.

In the end it’s clear that neither will be giving in to the other’s political leanings, but the video ends with a Tea Party Republican saying he loves his openly gay liberal Democrat son. It just goes to show we can have different ideas and political ideals and still work together. Now if only Congress could make it work like these two.

What do you think of this campaign strategy? Share in your comments below! 

 

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!

Why I’m a Feminist

Lyrics to "Beautiful Flower" by India.Arie
Lyrics to “Beautiful Flower” by India.Arie

One thing you should know about me, if you haven’t gathered it already: I’m a bit of a famous-quotes junkie. My Facebook timeline is riddled with the wisdom of Elizabeth Gilbert, Melody Beattie, songbird India Arie, and other people whose words resonate with me as though I spoke them myself. Words, both positive and negative, carry a certain power that’s entirely unmatched.

Maya Angelou talks about this when she explains her fierce objection to hearing words like “bitch” used to describe a woman. When I hear that word and others like it, I find myself cringing right along with her. Suddenly, it seems I’m no longer able to listen to all of Robin Thicke’s unbelievably catchy yet controversially degrading new hit “Blurred Lines” without my stomach turning. Words have done everything from inspiring me so much that I finally started this blog to pissing me off so passionately that I turned into a feminist. Yes, I just said the F-word: I’m a feminist.

When did that happen?’ I asked myself just a few days ago as the aforementioned tune blared in my car, catching me somewhere between dancing and flinching. They say we finally decide to change when whatever it is we’re doing is finally more painful than not doing it anymore. Was it the same with no longer caring what was being said about women (or any other group of individuals for that matter) on the radio? Was it finally no longer possible for me to feign ignorance when so far from ignorant? It certainly seemed so.

I’m under the impression that a large percentage of society still believes there’s something particularly un-dainty about a woman commanding the same respect and achieving the same success as a man. My mom always proved to be a huge exception to that rule: she always had a killer career and a life of her own, and I never questioned that I would have one too. For goodness sake, I didn’t even know what a glass ceiling was until she explained it to me when I entered college. To her, that very fact was proof that her and her cohorts had finally skyrocketed through that glass ceiling in a very significant way. I simply didn’t understand the idea that less would be expected of me just because I was female.

But I have to say, I found myself pretty fed up earlier today when listening to songs on my very own iPod telling me “I knew I wanted it” and other similar sentiments. I usually write to a rather positive tune, but this time is different. This time, I’m fired up. While I’d love to blame it all on Mr. Thicke, he isn’t the only one responsible for my sour mood:

It happened yesterday as I was walking into the hospital to visit my grandma on my lunch break. As I hustled up the front steps near the entrance, three men in scrubs stopped me, each telling me their own interpretation of how great they thought I looked in my dress –clearly not a one of them straining too hard to keep it PG. I stopped after they walked passed me and took a minute to digest that, to them, I was just an object. I was someone they could gawk at and drool over under the assumption that I had dressed up solely for their drool. I was horrified, but still no rookie to this ridiculously common situation that women find themselves in all the time. In fact, there was even a time when I dressed down just to avoid it. I soon realized that this was me letting them win (while simultaneously realizing that, as the daughter of a fashionista, I’m really bad at “dressing down.”)

It can no longer be held as an acceptable occurrence that a woman walks down the street and expects to be whistled at, gawked at, or ogled over as though she dressed up solely to be ogled. As I watched my best friend and out-of-the-closet feminist get married this weekend, I knew in my heart that we are traveling in the right direction…

But there is still plenty of work to do.

I sincerely hope that there’s a day when someone stopping me like that on the street makes other people stop and ask me if I’m okay. Anyone near me in moments like those usually just keeps walking, and I don’t blame them because I would probably just keep walking too. That’s human nature:

We walk by things that happen in front of us almost every single day.

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