“He Named Me Malala”—A powerful documentary and a call to action

By Madison Teuscher

Malala Yousafzai is a worldwide symbol of activism and education rights for girls. Since her childhood, she has been an outspoken advocate for the education of all girls in Pakistan, her home country. In 2012, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban militant while riding to school. Malala was only fifteen. She miraculously survived, and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her tireless efforts to ensure the education of all children, regardless of gender. She gave a powerful speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday. Her book, an autobiography titled “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban”, was an enlightening personal account of her life in Pakistan and the experiences surrounding her gunshot wound.

He-Named-Me-Malala_1444151780More recently, “He Named Me Malala” was released, a documentary detailing the events surrounding the Taliban’s attack on Malala. This 2015 film was received warmly, and gives insight into the beautiful Swat region where Malala lives, her life and family, details of the attack, and her continued activism. Recently, the Women’s Center screened “He Named Me Malala” for its Spring Film series at the Kenworthy Theatre.

Continue reading ““He Named Me Malala”—A powerful documentary and a call to action”

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Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”: A not-so-improbable dystopian world

“You Read Like A Girl” Book Review Series

By Madison Teuscher

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian-style tale set in a radically theocratic America. The regime, called Gilead, has classified women into based on fertility and obedience, with different ranks identified by their unique uniform. All women are completely stripped of their rights—everything from reading to purchasing power—and are sorted into classes to divide and control them. Handmaids are fertile women who serve as surrogate wombs for the Commanders and their aging wives. The Wives—women married to the powerful Commanders—are reduced to days of knitting, gardening, and waiting for their Handmaid to give birth to their children. Handmaids are completely powerless, and everywhere they go, there are Eyes—the military division of the Gilead regime—watching and waiting to kill them for any misbehavior.The cover of Margaret Atwood's novel "The Handmaid's Tale"

One reviewer writing for The Verge called it “1984 for feminists… but a lot scarier”. This theocratic society has based its societal revolution on a passage in the book of Genesis about Jacob’s wife, Rachel, allowing her handmaid to conceive Jacob’s child on her behalf. This passage is recited in the book during the monthly ceremony in which the Commander attempts to impregnate the Handmaid under the Wife’s watchful eye. If a Handmaid cannot reproduce, she is sent to a labor internment camp with other Unwomen—old and infertile women who are no longer valuable to the society. Handmaids are only containers for babies, and nothing more. Continue reading “Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”: A not-so-improbable dystopian world”

The “pink tax”—Why women pay more for the same stuff as men

By Madison Teuscher 

You may not be aware that being a woman comes at a price—literally. The “pink tax” is an industry-wide hike in prices for products marketed to women, notably hygiene products, clothing, and even car repairs. A recent study from the University of Central Florida found that women’s deodorants were priced 30 cents higher than men’s, even when the only discernable difference was scent. The companies in question have tried to defend these different prices, claiming everything from “different packaging” to being “completely different formulations”—despite having the exact same percentages of the exact same ingredients.On a store shelf, a pack of four blue razors costs $5.49, and a pack of four pink razors costs $6.39.

Sounds crazy, right? Unfortunately, this is reality—not only do women make less than men, but they also must pay more. A recent study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that women’s hair care products cost, on average, 48% more than the same products meant for men. This large survey of over 800 products found that women pay more than men 42% of the time. It is estimated that women pay around $1,351 more per year in extra costs because of the pink tax. At Walgreens, Excedrin Complete Menstrual costs 50 cents more than Excedrin Extra Strength, despite the fact that both medicines have the same ingredients in the same quantities. Continue reading “The “pink tax”—Why women pay more for the same stuff as men”

Calling all male feminists—we need you, but not in the way you might think

By Madison Teuscher

Where do men fit into a movement that explicitly promotes women’s issues and voices? Isn’t proclaiming yourself a male feminist exactly the appropriation and privilege that feminism is trying to combat?

An article in “Daily Life” from this week presented a solution, to become an ally, rather than carving out a space within feminism for your own satisfaction and comfort. That requires an honest and humble realization that this movement ultimately is not about An image of Dr. Willie Parker rests next to his quote, "Women don't need us to save them, they need us to stand up and fight for what is right."you. Feminism is inherently about women from every walk of life, and the importance of their stories and opportunities. This movement needs advocates and allies in every corner of the world. We don’t need an exclusive club that affords membership only to the elite—we need voices of every race, gender, sexuality, and background stepping forward to fight for gender equality.
Continue reading “Calling all male feminists—we need you, but not in the way you might think”

One Toy, Two Toy, Red Toy, Blue Toy— Why we need gender-neutral toys

By Madison Teuscher

 Take a walk through any department store toy aisle, and you will see labels that ensure we know which toys are meant for girls and which toys are meant for boys. Pink and purple pastels surround “girl” aisles filled with dresses, dolls, and kitchen sets. Red, blue and orange dominate the “boy” aisles—these sections have trucks, guns, and tool sets. The divides between these toy aisles go much deeper than just playthings for children—they set the patterns for socialization and behavior for a lifetime.Two children sit surrounded by toys- a girl surrounded by pink, and a boy surrounded by blue.

Admist this sea of pink and blue, there are parents (and their kids!) who appreciate gender-neutral marketing. This February, Target decided to ditch its gendered children’s home décor lines with their new collection, “Pillowfort”. The line focuses on prints and colors that can appeal to any child, with themes like “Tropical Treehouse”, “Ocean Oasis”, and “Stellar Station”. The collection’s February debut was met with positive appreciation—the line is meant for all children; “cute enough for a three-year-old, cool enough for a ten-year-old”. This is one positive step in a growing movement towards gender-neutral décor and toys for kids. Continue reading “One Toy, Two Toy, Red Toy, Blue Toy— Why we need gender-neutral toys”

Malala Yousafzai: A fearless advocate for education

By Madison Teuscher

Malala Yousafzai is unlike most teenagers her age—at the age of fifteen, she was shot by Taliban militants on her bus ride to school. These militants sought Malala—an outspoken supporter of girls’ education in her region, country, and the world. Their act of violence has brought forward the incredible story of a young woman whose shining spirit accompanies her bright vision for what the world can be—a place where education is a universal right for all children.

Malala Yousafzai smiles at the camera, wrapped in a bright blue and yellow headscarf.
Malala Yousafzai is a worldwide symbol of courage, optimism, and change.

The Pakistani region of Swat is characterized by clear rivers, tall mountains and lush valleys. This peaceful, paradise-like valley is where Malala Yousafzai called home, along with her mother, two brothers, and father. The affectionate family gave the young Malala a place to thrive. Since her birth, Malala has been celebrated by her parents, rather than rejected—or killed—like so many Pakistani girls.

Continue reading “Malala Yousafzai: A fearless advocate for education”

And the Oscar goes to– changing the awards show status quo

By Madison TeuscherChris Rock holds an Oscar award on a poster with text reading "We all dream in gold".

The most highly sought-after recognition an actor, director, editor, or film musician can achieve is an Oscar. The 88th annual Academy Awards were certainly more subversive than in past years—but, truthfully, this is a welcome change.

Throughout the evening, there were many direct statements about social change, from Leonardo DiCaprio’s comments on the issue of climate change, Kevin Hart’s remarks on diversity, Chris Rock’s monologue about racism in Hollywood, and Lady Gaga’s performance about sexual assault. Continue reading “And the Oscar goes to– changing the awards show status quo”