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Archive for the ‘Gender’ Category

Last year I posted two takes on a “real” Barbie, one of which was a doll that featured realistic proportions. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, the second of those takes is now available for purchase in the form of Lammily. Despite (or maybe in addition to) her horrible name, Lammily has the sorts of problems that real girls face, like cellulite and acne, though clear skin is just the removal of a sticker away. She also has a bunch of trendy clothes and kids like her!

While Lammily is busy serving as a positive (or at least less negative) role model for young kids, Barbie has been busy (in the words of Pamela Ribon) fucking things up again. In this case, a book featuring Barbie’s efforts to become a computer scientist shows her needing help from boys, destroying Skipper’s computer with a virus, having the boys fix Skipper’s computer, and earning Skipper’s thanks for doing so all in the span of 24 hours. If you haven’t yet read Ribon’s post breaking down how terrible this book is, be sure to do so.

Luckily for Barbie, Casey Fiesler is also willing to help and has replaced the text in Barbie’s book to make it infinitely better. For example, in the original book Skipper hits Barbie with a pillow after Barbie destroys all of her files, while in the “remixed” version, this situation has been improved, as you can see below:

Barbie and SkipperGood question, Skipper. Maybe you should start hanging out with Lammily. I hear she’s cool.

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Over a year ago, I wrote about some efforts to depict a more “realistic” Barbie. Now, Loryn Brantz at Buzzfeed has taken a similar look at Disney princesses, focusing on their waistlines (tackling the size of their eyes and wrists might be beyond human capabilities).

Belle Jasmine

Even with more realistic waists, the princesses are still very thin, but is is interesting how easy it is to overlook their ridiculous thinness (seriously, look at the unaltered image of Jasmine!) until seeing a more realistic take like this.

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amazon_phd_costume

If you receive a last-minute invitation to a Halloween costume tonight and you feel the need to find a “sexy” costume, remember that there is nothing sexier than academic regalia! Alternatively, you could print off the logo for your favorite Hogwarts house, grab a stick from the yard, and go as a wizard. If you own one of these expensive costumes you may as well wear it more than a few times a year!

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Time is running out to send your Halloween cards and get your Halloween costume. For women, the choices for pre-made costumes range from “sexy maid” to “sexy map.” (I was trying to be as ridiculous as possible with that last suggestion, but…) These costumes are universally ridiculous, but in order for men to realize this they apparently need to try them on. It is interesting that in their discussions of how ridiculous these “sexy” costumes are, the men in the video below still manage to make a number of approving comments about how women would look in them. Sort of like if comic book artists responded to the Hawkeye Initiative by thinking, “Hawkeye looks ridiculous in that pose! But if he had breasts…”

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Stores in the United States often helpfully designate the items for sale as “for girls” or “for boys.” These designations are particularly helpful when the only difference is the color of the items, since in those cases color-blind people might make a mistake. Gift card sections are typically not much different, though the labels get a little redundant when there are also images of ponies or robots, since even color-blind people can recognize the difference between super-feminine ponies and super-masculine robots. Shopping in Target recently, I noticed a section of Halloween cards that were labeled not only “For Kids,” but “for “for a boy” and “for a girl.” You can see the cards below:

photo 1Since both cards appeared to feature the color orange, which is neither pink nor blue, I wondered about the distinction between the two and got them out to look more closely:

photo 3The card on the left is clearly a poorly-wrapped mummy (if it had been better-wrapped its skin may not have turned orange) while the card on the right is an orange owl (which is apparently possible). Based on its hat, the owl is possibly also a witch (or maybe a pilgrim). So maybe the mummy is for boys because it is a boy and the owl is for girls because it likes to wear pilgrim witch hats? Those don’t seem like strong reasons for gendering these cards, so let’s open them up and see if the inside of the “boys'” card is blue and the inside of the “girls'” card is pink:

photo 2Nope, just more orange. So the lesson Target has taught us this Halloween is that poorly-wrapped mummies are for boys who are “totally awesome” while owls wearing pilgrim witch hats are for girls who are “very special.” It is a good thing that Target labeled them for me because otherwise I may have thought that each was equally suited to both boys and girls, which would have been a huge mistake. Now I know how color-blind people feel (which explains why they get so upset about it).

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Lego recently launched a line of female scientists, and according to Slate, archaeologist Donna Yates bought a set and started the “Lego Academics” Twitter account to chronicle their adventures. It is nice to see depictions of female scientists experiencing the highs and lows of academic lives (unfortunately, the set is now sold out), but they must be at an R1 because as far as I can tell they never teach.

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ASA ended a week ago so I suppose it is time to post my 2014 ASA Scavenger Hunt results. Last year I set a personal best by completing 20 of the 30 items, but this year I could not attain that level again, ending up with 17 of 30 items. For those competing at home, I completed items 3, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, and 30. I also left San Francisco with some good ideas for next year, including people sitting in the back row of an empty presentation room and “We’re going to use X as a proxy for Y.”

Regarding item number 14, I was fairly busy at ASA this year and may  have attended a record number of sessions and meetings, so I didn’t have time to check out all of the unisex restrooms. The ones that I did see, in the Hilton on the Ballroom Level were a textbook example of how not to designate unisex restrooms, and were even worse than those in the Hilton last year in New York. Although they appeared on the conference hotel map and signs were posted on the restroom doors indicating their unisex status, the door to each restroom was at the end of a 10-15 foot-long hallway, the end of which was marked for men or women and made no mention of unisex status. Thus the Hilton Union Square receives a 1 out of 10 for its unisex restrooms. Grading it felt like grading the student who puts absolutely no effort into an assignment. Hiltons of the world, you can do better!

 

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In the midst of the attention LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling has received lately, J. J. Abrams released information about the cast of Star Wars Episode VII. As several others have pointed out, the cast is notable for its white maleness. Amanda Marcotte at Slate argues that this was Abrams’ chance to make some Star Wars history, since the previous movies haven’t had many women, either. She notes that Battlestar Galactica successfully integrated more women into its reboot, and explores the impact that gender equity in a major sci-fi franchise like Star Wars could have had on the genre.

By looking into the future (or the past of “a long time ago,” in the case of Star Wars), science fiction allows writers and filmmakers to imagine a world where race and gender boundaries have changed. The original Star Trek was noteworthy in part because of its racial diversity. J. J. Abrams is not necessarily opposed to the creation of strong female characters, as Alias and Lost show, but it is interesting that his recent history in the area of diversity is noteworthy primarily for his casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness and the lack of female characters in Star Wars. It is interesting to consider what Abrams’ Star Trek reboot would have looked like if he hadn’t been focused on finding actors who matched the race of the original cast.

Of course, a lack of diversity is more appropriate for Star Wars, which hasn’t always had the best depictions of race, as explained by Hooper in this edited clip from Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy:

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I’m not sure what causes the popularity of things to spike on the internet, so I don’t know why this three-year-old article about Rachel Tudor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University has been making the rounds recently. Tudor was denied tenure by SOSU’s administration despite the support of her colleagues and her stellar publication record (the same semester she was denied tenure, she received an award for outstanding scholarship), apparently because she is trans and “Douglas N. McMillan, interim vice president for academic affairs reportedly said that Tudor’s “lifestyle” offend[ed] his Baptist beliefs.”

Tudor currently works at Collin College and a bit of internet sleuthing (i.e. spending three minutes on Google) revealed that the Equal Employment Occupation Commission found that her denial violated the Civil Rights Act and that when SOSU refused efforts at conciliation the case was forwarded to the Department of Justice, which is currently conducting an investigation. The fact that it has been three years and the case is still not resolved demonstrates how damaging the decisions of administrators can be for faculty members given the difficult job market (not to mention any geographic requirements that a faculty member may have after six years at an institution). McMillan, on the other hand, still works at SOSU as the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs (a title that could cause his job to be eliminated if he worked at the University of Southern Maine). I hope that he continues to work there long enough to take the fall for his decision.

Among the many infuriating statements in the original article about Tudor was the fact that she was not allowed to reapply for tenure in her seventh year, stating “He said it would be a waste of the faculty’s time — although they were on board,” she said. “And it would enflame tensions between faculty and administration.” Although I understand that administrators sometimes need to do what they think is best for an institution despite disagreement from the faculty, administrators could reduce a lot of tension if they would just listen to faculty when they make recommendations that do not have a negative impact on a school’s bottom line. Supporting the hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions of the faculty would seem to be an easy way for administrators to show that they value the perspectives and expertise of the faculty. Refusing to do those things and then blaming members of the faculty for contributing to tensions on campus is inexcusable.

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If you have access to Facebook friends who are feminists and/or sociologists you might have seen the video above, directed by Eléonore Pourriat. In it, a man faces the sorts of things that women in the real world face on a daily basis. By reframing things in order to change the viewer’s perspective on them it is reminiscent of the Heterosexuality Questionnaire (which asks questions like “Is it possible that your heterosexuality is just a phase you may grow out of?”). At Buzzfeed, the director stated that her inspiration “came from my experience as a woman over the past 40 years, and from the incredulity of men when I told them about the comments and behavior of some men on the street, in high school, in public transportation, everywhere really.” In that way, it is also similar to many of the early posts by FemaleScienceProfessor.

As a white male, the most interesting thing about the video to me is how hard it is to see the women’s statements as threatening toward the man after growing up in a society dominated by white cisgender straight men. Pedagogically, then, I think that the discussion of why it is so hard to see men as threatened by women in our society would be even more interesting than the discussion of the ways that the director plays with gendered experiences.

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