Watching college basketball recently, I saw a shorter version of the commercial below roughly 97 times. Of the five named athletes (okay, the Duck Dynasty guy probably doesn’t count as an athlete) in the commercial, there are four men and one woman. Can you guess which one’s stomach is featured in a close up?
I can imagine the ad agency saying: “Can we show the little girl’s stomach? No? Damn it! I guess that it is okay to show a girl without sexualizing her, but add a few more male kids to balance out the threatening non-sexualized female!”
Posted in A Sporting Chance, Gender, TV Time | Tagged Bobby Brown, Duck Dynasty, Jordan Spieth, Lindsey Vonn, Memoirs of a SLACer, Shani Davis, Sports Commercials, UnderArmour, Willie Robertson |
In the recently released About Time, Rachel McAdams plays the love interest, and eventual wife, of the main character, who has the ability to travel through time. In Midnight in Paris, Rachel McAdams plays the fiancee of the main character, who has the ability to travel through time. In The Time Traveler’s Wife, Rachel McAdams plays the love interest, and eventual wife, of the main character, who has the ability to travel through time. I haven’t seen Midnight in Paris, but in the other two movies her characters are also the fairly passive recipients of the affections of the main (male) characters.
The love interest of time travelers seems like a fairly extreme form of typecasting. Is it too much to ask that somebody make a movie (or three) in which Rachel McAdams plays a time traveler?
Posted in Gender, Moving Pictures | Tagged About Time, Memoirs of a SLACer, Midnight in Paris, Rachel McAdams, The Time Traveler's Wife |
Because I’m a sociologist with lots of Facebook friends who are also sociologists, my Facebook news feed can be a pretty depressing place. Facebook tends to be my source for stories like that of Shannon Gibney, who was accused of racial discrimination by three white students (Nathan Palmer has a nice discussion of the reasons that white men are much less likely to be accused of these sorts of things). For this reason, it was nice to see a post by Eric Grollman at Conditionally Accepted discussing the positive ways that academic allies have affected his career and calling for academic communities to share the responsibility for support. I have to admit that I have been conditioned by the constant information about terrible people in the world to expect the worst as Grollman set up each scenario, which made it particularly heartening to read about the responses he received. These sorts of responses may not make headlines but they can make a difference in the lives of our students, friends, and colleagues.
Posted in Gender, Race, Sexuality, The Ivory Tower | Tagged Academic Allies, Allies, Conditionally Accepted, Eric Grollman, Facebook, Memoirs of a SLACer, Nathan Palmer, Salon, Shannon Gibney, Sociology Source |
At NPR, Linda Holmes writes about The Hunger Games, focusing on the way that the movie (and, by extension, the books) subverts normal blockbuster relationships, arguing that Peeta is portrayed as a typical movie girlfriend while Gale plays the part of a typical movie boyfriend:
Don’t get me wrong: In real life, we all know couples of all gender alignments who operate in this way and in lots of other ways, whether they’re male-female or two guys or two women or whatever; there’s absolutely nothing about baking, physical strength, or emotional accessibility that is inherently gendered in real life for real humans with any consistency. But the movies, or at least the big movies, are different. Going by the traditional Hollywood rules, make no mistake: Peeta is a Movie Girlfriend.
In fact, you could argue that Katniss’ conflict between Peeta and Gale is effectively a choice between a traditional Movie Girlfriend and a traditional Movie Boyfriend. Gale, after all, is the one whose bed she winds up steadfastly sitting beside after she helps bind his wounds. Gale explains the revolution to her. She puts up a plan to run; Gale rebuffs it because he presumes himself to know better. Gale is jealous and brooding about his standing with her; Peeta is just sad and contemplative.
My sense was that there was a lot more kissing between Katniss and Gale in the movie than in the book, so it will be interesting to see how the movie versions of these relationships play out in the two-part Mockingjay.
Posted in Gender, Moving Pictures | Tagged Catching Fire, Linda Holmes, Memoirs of a SLACer, Mockingjay, NPR, The Hunger Games |
When discussing statistical significance in class I always preface my discussion by highlighting the arbitrary nature of accepted p-values. “If you had cancer,” I ask my students, “and a doctor said that there was a 94% chance that a particular treatment would cure you, would you take it?” They would, they assert. But a 94% chance isn’t good enough for social science research. Neither, suggests Valen Johnson, a statistician at Texas A&M, is a 95% chance, or a 98% chance. As discussed by John Timmer at Ars Technica, Johnson mathematically links Bayesian statistics to probabilities:
The math then allows a direct comparison between the probability values. In his comparison, scientific standards seem pretty weak. The 95 percent certainty corresponds to a Bayesian evidence threshold of between three and five, which Johnson notes is typically considered “positive evidence”—but it falls well below the values considered to be “strong evidence.” It takes 99 percent certainty to get there.
Johnson concludes that if we assume that only one-half of the hypotheses should give us a positive result, then “these results suggest that between 17 percent and 25 percent of marginally significant scientific findings are false.” If we assume the proportion of correct hypotheses is larger—which we might, given that scientists are usually pretty clever about the hypotheses they choose to test—then the problem gets even more pronounced. Overall, Johnson’s suggestion is simple: raise the statistical rigor all around. Demand that experiments produce a p value of 0.005 or smaller. And be even pickier about results that we consider highly significant. There is a cost to this, in that you need bigger samples to achieve the higher statistical rigor. In his example, you’d have to double the sample size. That’s no problem if you’re breeding bacteria and fruit flies, but it will add a lot of time and expense if your project involves mice.
Or, of course, humans. One implication that Timmer notes for increased significance thresholds is that those with small sample sizes would have to consider discussing non-significant results, potentially undermining our blind faith in statistical significance. While that would be nice, in the world we actually live in the more likely outcome is that individual or small-scale research would be even more difficult to conduct successfully. Good luck getting that NSF grant!
Posted in The Ivory Tower, The Publication Gauntlet, The State of Sociology | Tagged Ars Techinca, Bayesian Statistics, John Timmer, Memoirs of a SLACer, p-Values, Statistical Significance, Valen Johnson |
Over at Sociological Images Lisa Wade breaks down Lily Allen’s new video for “Hard Out Here,” in which she mocks the tropes associated with some recent music videos, particularly Miley Cyrus’s. You can see the video here:
As I watched the video, my first thought was, “Oh, she is making fun of the expectations that women face in the music industry.” My second thought, though, was, “Isn’t she using these black women as props in the same way that Miley Cyrus used them?” Mia McKenzie at Black Girl Dangerous was better able to turn these thoughts into words, writing:
Satire works best when you are flipping the script on the oppressor, on the system. When you are calling attention to the ways that the system is jacked by amplifying the absurdity of that system. Not caricaturing and otherwise disrespecting the people who are oppressed by that system.
In general, I think that music that challenges listeners to question the stereotypes associated with pop culture is a good thing, so I don’t fault Lily Allen for writing this song or wanting to make a video playing with these ideas (though Lisa points out that the only reason a song like this can get recorded is because somebody thought that it would be successful at making money). I wish, though, that she had found a more clever way to play with these ideas than simply appropriating them for her own purposes.
The lesson learned here, I think, is that we have set the bar so low for thoughtful dialog about race, gender, inequality, and sexuality in popular music that just pointing out how stupid we are about these things is seen as a thoughtful critique. Everybody can do better.
Posted in Gender, Race, Sexuality, The Electronic Age, TV Time | Tagged Black Girl Dangerous, Hard Out Here, Lily Allen, Lisa Wade, Memoirs of a SLACer, Mia McKenzie, Miley Cyrus, Racism, Sexism, Sociological Images |