Have you ever seen a person in need of help but thought someone else would eventually step in? What about someone being verbally or physically assaulted because of their race, identity, religion, or gender—and no one tried to help them? Witnessed someone who was visibly intoxicated with no one to be sure they were getting home safely? Have you yourself been in a situation and needed help, but no one seemed to want to get involved? All of these experiences illustrate what is known as the bystander effect.
My mom is one of my biggest heroes. For my sisters and I, she has been one of the most amazing women to emulate growing up. She is courageous, warm hearted, intelligent, and has a presence that can brighten any room. She has one of those souls that you feel lucky to know. Our relationship has changed a lot over the years, but one thing has always held true: she has given me the support and advice that has made me into who I am today. My mom is the reason why I am a feminist, and her support is what helped me navigate womanhood.
The morning after the election, I called my mom knowing that she would know just what to say to comfort my fears for what lies ahead. Having four daughters, she knew the weight that her words would carry. She spoke calmly as she reassured me that our future is not as bleak as it seems. My mother comforted me with her promises to keep hope and to fight for what is right. She reasoned that the pendulum swings both ways, and that we may go through a period of feeling helpless, but that we will get back to working together to help protect people who are threatened. She helped me see the platform that this can be to engage in the deepest changes we need to make in our nation. My mom has always given me valuable advice on how to get by in this world. That morning she told me something that I don’t think women and girls hear enough: that I am strong.
As I grew into my adolescent years, my voice to share my opinions and ideas started to feel silenced. I began to feel the pressure of looking and acting in accordance to how our media portrays women and girls. Exposure to media and advertisements started to make me believe that women’s beauty was more valuable than their smarts or what they had to say. Instead of reading about how to be confident in my intellect, magazines were giving me hundreds of tips on how to be pretty and attract guys.
I started to notice that women in films and television shows were often given smaller speaking parts and were often typecast into subservient and ornamental roles to men. Watching the news, I saw female anchors being talked over by male anchors frequently and being told what they should wear. I watched female politicians be criticized for their looks and rated on their attractiveness instead of their job performance.
The U.S. has a severe disparity of equal and diverse representation in our government. In 2016, women still only comprise 20% of the United States 114th congress. Women of color are even more underrepresented, making up only 6.2% of congress. We had yet to even have a woman win a major party bid for the presidency until Hillary Clinton did this year. This scarcity of women in our government has lead to an uphill battle for policies and laws that concern women’s issues, such as health care, the wage gap, abortion, and paid maternity leave. Now more than ever, it is important to understand the impact that representation has in our nation and take that knowledge to the polls for the upcoming elections. Continue reading “Underrepresentation Nation”→
In “American Male,” a short film written and directed by Michael Rohrbaugh, a persona is created: an American male college student who is tough, fit, aggressive, and definitely not effeminate. The short film applies a narrative of the different expectations our society has for men and women. This young man is struggling to come to terms with his identity and sexuality within the narrow confines that society provides. The context of this short film is an important discussion, as forms of toxic masculinity arise and have lasting effects for men and societal ramifications for everyone.
A couple of weeks ago, my partner and I who are long-distance decided to go on a trip to Las Vegas the weekend before I planned to visit her in Phoenix. We hadn’t seen each other for two and ½ months after she graduated and made the move. We really looked forward to seeing each other and had high hopes that our trip would allow us both relax and enjoy our time together. However, our hopes were dashed by the countless people who decided to sexually harass us during our trip.
My girlfriend and I have been together for 6 months now. She and I are each other’s first relationship with another woman. She identifies as bisexual and I identify as pansexual. Together we have been navigating the experience of the being LGBT in a heteronormative society. More often than not, people are positive and accepting of our relationship. However, there are instances when people will assume we are straight and hit on one of us, and when we specify that we are dating the ensuing comments can be less than endearing. Continue reading “The Sexualization of Queer Women”→
“You have 3 sisters? Your poor dad!” This is a common reaction when I tell people that my family is almost all girls. Why my “poor dad”? Do they assume he is not happy with only daughters? Is the amount of estrogen intimidating? Do they think his life would’ve been better with the grace of a son? Why is my mom left out of this? I still can’t wrap my head around the insinuated preference for male children and the overall more positive perception of what raising a male child is like in our world.
When we think of male child preference, we tend to think of countries like India and China that have been markedly fixated on the economic prospects that a male child may bring and that a female might cost. These cultural norms are perpetuated through deeply ingrained beliefs that males will be more successful and ultimately benefit the family, whereas females are seen as a liability that may eventually lead to expenses such as a dowry, which a lot of families struggle to afford. In some cases, families will even turn to breaking the law to reveal the sex of the child during pregnancy and abort female fetuses.
In the United States, although not as severe, child gender preference has implications that not only effect how children of different genders are raised within a family, but also effects the likelihood of families staying together, proving more likely if there are male children. With new technological advances, it has also become easier for parents everywhere to potentially choose the sex of their child via preimplantation genetic diagnosis and in vitro fertilization. These preferences are affecting sex ratios, perpetuating negative stigmas about the worth of women and girls, and attributing to the different treatment of girls and boys within families.