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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Media Stories

Is your story being told in the media?

Because mine isn’t.

Beware, you’re about to enter a rant…

I want to have children. Probably just one because I plan on having a career, but if I have a daughter I am very worried about the media she will encounter every day. Some may believe that children shows are innocent and safe for little girls to watch, but the statistics are alarming.

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 the law, or in politics. 80.5% of all working characters are male and 19.5% are female, which is a contrast to real-world statistics of women comprising 50% of the workforce.
Even among the top-grossing G-rated family films, girl characters are outnumbered by boys three-to-one.

Female characters continue to show dramatically more skin than their male counterparts, and feature extremely tiny waists and other exaggerated body characteristics.
So I guess I will have to write my own film… while maybe starting a psychology practice and having a child.

My film would be a cartoon, a la Disney Fairytale with way less stereotypes. It would be about a twenty-something starving female student studying to become a research scientist. She would spend much of her time in the library at her prestigious research university that she worked her butt off to attend by receiving Valedictorian status in her high school. She would be a size eight and have frizzy brown hair that she never had time to do. She would wear sweatpants and eat too much fast food. Her name would be Alex. She would graduate with honors and go on to receive her PhD. Her parents would be very proud of her because she is the first woman in their family to go to college. She would be a minority too. Maybe Mexican mixed with some Middle Eastern. There would be some conflict between her father wanting her to settle down (you know, to create some tension) but he would come around when he saw how happy she was. She would maybe meet a couple guys along the way but they would be extremely minor characters. They would all be very nice but she just wouldn’t have time to fit them into her schedule. Then she would move up the ranks in her company until she was offered an opportunity to start a branch in a different country (maybe Tokyo, they do a lot of stuff their). She would jump at the opportunity and carpe diem the shit out of her early thirties. Then she would meet the man of her dreams, Devon. He would sweet and charming. He would let her split the bill on their dates without getting all pouty. He would do half of the chores and love to cook. He would be Japanese. While working Alex would have a child with Devon. Their child would be named Haru. They wouldn’t be married. She would keep working and kicking ass and taking names. Alex would be a great mother instilling a hard work ethics and acceptance for all. She would still have tons of friends that she would go out with. Eventually, they would all return to the States. Alex and Devon would fight sometimes but they would always make up (or leave passive-aggressive notes for each other later on). Haru would grow up biologically as a female but at age six would begin to show signs of presenting her gender as male. I mean this could go on and on. Maybe a series called “Positive Role Models.”

There are so many stories that aren’t being told. A white, heterosexual women in her 30’s struggling with AIDS. A little transgender boy persevering in grade school. Lesbian scientists bringing much needed medicine to sub-Sahara Africa. Women changing history without a man in sight.
The fact is that only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female.

Until more women are making films this problem will never be reconciled. If media producers don’t hear women screaming to be better represented they won’t change. Let’s make our suffrage sisters proud and finish up some of their work. I am a strong believer that if you can’t see something you can’t be something. We need to show young girls that they are more than their recipe book and babysitting skills

Can every women become a superstar writer or director?

Well, probably not. But as a parent one can be careful what they present to their children. As a consumer one can purposely support female writers and producers.

For alternatives and suggestions see:

All statistics taken from

This is also a great sight about the lack of children’s media geared towards strong female characters. Funded by Geena Davis.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Analyzing Ads

Analyzing Ads in the Media 
      In this series of Ralph Lauren “Romance” ads, the man is depicted as strong, aggressive and dominant, while the female is shown as weak, passive and submissive towards the man. This is shown in the first image, in which the man is basically holding up the woman as she appears to be too weak to hold her own weight. In all of these images, the man is either holding up the woman or being the dominant one on top. The man has a strong position, while the woman’s grasp is weak. 
   The woman also appears to be very trusting, open and available as she allows the man to hold her. Her body and face are more turned towards the camera, such as in the second  and third image in which she is looking straight at the camera. In contrast, the man is very closed and shows no real emotion besides anger. In all of the images, his head is down and you can’t actually see inside his eyes. 
     In these images, the woman is sexually passive and submissive, while the man is aggressive and dominant. This is especially shown in the first and the third image. In the third image, the man is over the woman, kissing her and the woman seems to care less and is very passive and submissive. The woman is also sexualized in these photos, while the man is not. The woman has a decent amount of skin showing and in some of the images her dress strap is falling down or her dress is pulled up to expose her legs. This contrast between the man and the woman shows the meta theme that females and males must be separated and seen as radically and profoundly different. 

      Because of these ideologies, society accepts these masculine and feminine traits as “natural.” This reinforces the status quo and sets expectations for both males and females. This sets the expectation that guys should be aggressive and dominant physically and sexually. They should also show little/no emotion and be closed. Women should be passive and submissive both physically and sexually. Women are expected to  be very emotional, trusting, open and cooperative. Because an ideology is not reality, most people cannot live up to these expectations and don’t live their lives this way, but still feel pressured by society to fit into these little boxes.

-Mallory Holt

My GSEC Experience

My time interning at the Gender and Sexuality Equity Center has been a truly life-changing experience. I could now never go on with my day after hearing derogatory terms used, and say nothing. Every time I hear someone address a group of both males and female as “guys” I clench because I cannot help but think, we are not all guys! Some of us are women and proud to be women and deserve to be addressed as such.

I am so proud to be a part of a student-run organization that is so inclusive towards the entirety of the student body, as well as the community. We put on events that give the under-represented population of Chico community members a chance to celebrate our diversity and never to hide it. The GSEC recently transitioned from its formerly known title as the Women’s Center in order to be more all-inclusive towards the LGBTQ+ community. This has been an immensely successful extension to the work that we do. 

As an intern at this organization I have learned to embrace and celebrate all people’s minds, bodies, sexualities, strengths and differences. Each person experiences such diverse walks of life and to have a safe-haven on campus such as the GSEC is a remarkable tool and a huge step in unifying the student-body. I would highly recommend to any student that is considering an internship here at the GSEC to absolutely go for it and expect that your life will never be the same; for the better. 

- Written by Rae Seifert

Spencer's Hates Women (At Least Their T-Shirts Do)

Since I am not as socially inclined as others and never get on Facebook, I would have missed the link that Mallory (a Women’s Programs Intern) shared with us on the GSEC Facebook page last week. Fortunately, I have Sarah Sullivan (Women’s Program Coordinator) to help me through life and she told me about the post.

 The post that I will be talking about is a link that takes you to a page titled '20 Examples That Spencer’s Gifts Hates Women’ (Spencer’s is the gag gift store at the Chico Mall and probably in most malls across America). Below the title are 20 different T-shirts with what Spencer’s considers “funny” sayings and pictures, all of which are highly misogynistic. As disturbing as I found every t-shirt, it is worth my time to spread the word to never shop at Spencer’s again (at least not in the T-shirt section). 

In my opinion you will easily realize how offensive these shirts are to 51% of the population by just looking at them, so I will highlight just two shirts here that I have the biggest problem with and find the most offensive (you can find the link at the bottom of this post or on the GSEC Facebook page). 

Disclaimer: Since males are the models for every shirt on this page, I am going to assume the target audience is men. I understand that women can buy and wear these shirts, which I also condone, but I am going to assume men are the primary consumers.  

Shirt #19: The word TEAMWORK is at the top, near the neck of the shirt. Below TEAMWORK is a woman on all fours with a man having sex with her from behind while another man is standing in front of her who she is performing oral sex on. 

When I see this picture under the word TEAMWORK, I think of gang rape. What if a man was wearing this shirt in public and a woman saw it who had been raped at some point in her life? It has the potential to stir up horrible flashbacks and emotions in that woman, all so this guy can get a couple laughs from his buddies for wearing this shirt. This is a perfect example of the rape culture that we live in and how it persists so fluidly in mainstream culture.

Shirt #6: There are two pictures side by side horizontally. The first picture is of a man and a woman taking a shot and it says THE FIRST SHOT IS ON ME. The second picture is of the previous woman giving the man a blowjob and above the picture it says THE SECOND IS ON YOU. 

Personally I enjoy going to the bars, getting some drinks, dancing, and having a great time. If a guy buys me a shot, does that mean I owe him a sexual favor? Absolutely not. All that means is that I got a free shot.
Men can drink as much as they want, it is socially acceptable and they will not be hassled while out at the bars. But if a woman is drunk she automatically becomes a target and an object of sexual fulfillment.

After looking at the T-shirts for a third time, I got even madder and wanted to channel my inner Harriet the Spy and do some real investigative work. Track down the company who printed these shirts, and then the designers who so cleverly thought them up and drew the pictures. But then what would I do once I found out who designed them? Write them a mean email? Probably wouldn’t be that effective in the bigger scheme of things. So writing a hate filled blog will have to suffice.

-Written by Mia Kirk

Misdiagnoses Because of Health Samples

Right now I am taking a psychology of women class and we just discussed a chapter on physical and mental health issues for women. We discussed how research around 1995 used white male samples to generalize statistics to women and people of color. 

This was a problem all over the board and it even extended to issues as serious as heart disease. There has been a large tendency in the research community to use the white male as the norm, and as discussed in my class, this approach to research was based on the “complications” associated with including women in the studies because of their monthly hormone variations. 

One example of this that we discussed would be the symptoms of a heart attack: women and men have completely different symptoms. Men will feel chest pain and feel as if their left arm has gone numb, whereas women will get bad back pain and feel nauseous. 

However doctors, who were mostly male at the time, would commonly misdiagnose women who came in with these pains and feelings of sickness as histrionic or having the symptoms all in their heads, because of the sexist views that they had toward them. This misdiagnosis led to many women dying from heart attacks that could have been prevented. 

It is therefore important for doctors and researchers to include not only white men, but women and people of color in their studies in order to obtain the correct data for each group of people and perform correct diagnoses.

- Written by Michelle Anderson

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Spots on the Gender Spectrum

The Gender Bending Ball, held on Sunday, Dec. 3, was a night I will never forget. It was the first time the GSEC put on a dance like that, and it definitely won’t be the last. We used this event as a fundraiser to help the GSEC continue its services to students and community members.
In our society, gender is always put into two boxes, male and female. It is what we have always known, and removing this binary system would be like stepping onto the moon, something hard to imagine. Even I, while identifying as an ally and an activist, find it hard to remove certain language from my daily life. Have you ever taken a few seconds to realize what you were actually talking about with your friends?

“Hey guys, what’s up?” - Addressing a group of women.

“That girl over there is wearing the same shirt as me.” - Is she 20 or 12?

“He asked me a question.” - How do you know if that person wants to be called “he?”

“Is that a man or woman?” - Uh, how is that any of your business?

It is hard to break a person’s harmful dialogue used on a day to day basis, but it is a part of the AS Gender and Sexuality Equity Center’s mission statement to spread this awareness. Being a part of this internship has allowed me to be more inclusive and understanding of the people around me. Every day I work on not conforming to society and assuming people belong in only two categories, every day I try to eliminate the word “guys” from my vocabulary when addressing a group and every day I contribute my time and energy into the events GSEC puts on. 
I joined this campus organization to be more informed and share what I learn with others. I wanted to become an activist so I did. I have always supported the rights and justice for women and the LGBTQ community and now I am putting my words into action. The Gender Bending Ball was just another step I had to take to become more knowledgeable on the issue of the binary system. For weeks I helped other interns and staff spread the word about this awesome event, and it was all worth it. 
This event created a safe place where everyone could come and bend their gender and enjoy the night with others who supported the same cause. We all celebrated the fact that people can express gender in many ways and accepted all who showed. With music, food and amazing drag queen performances I danced the night away with my fellow interns, staff and our guests.  
Even though the event is over, we are still selling raffle tickets for $1! The drawing will take place on December 10th and we will call you to let you know if you won! Possible prizes include: haircuts, one piercing of your choice, Satin hands set by Mary Kay, 30 minute Swedish massage, $10 Beach Hut Deli gift card, 25 Bear bucks and 2 free meals, $10 T Bar gift card, and much more! If you would like to buy one please come down to our office in BMU 005 right next to common grounds! 

Written by Adriana Curiel