Is Prenatal Gender Preference Healthy?

By Jolie Day

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“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.

Continue reading “Is Prenatal Gender Preference Healthy?”

“It Happens” Photo Series Challenges the Stereotypes Associated with Sexual Assault

By Olivia Heersink

(Trigger warning: the following post contains images and dialogue related to sexual assault.)

From the innocence of adolescence through adulthood, women in our society are internalizing fear and silence. Most women begin their preparations for sexual assault at a young age, and are well-versed in the precautions they must take before they reach adulthood. In fact, avoiding being raped is an epidemic for women in our society. On average, there are 288,820 victims of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States, alone.

We teach women how not to be raped rather than teaching men about consent, respect, and mutual sexual expression. Not surprisingly, this strategy is ineffective at best. Every two minutes another American is sexually assaulted.

Sex crimes are unique because they are extremely private yet prevalent. Every sexual assault is unique to the victim; yet so many women, and sometimes men, have had similar experiences. Falling victim to a sex crime is an experience that makes the victim feel ashamed of something that happened to their own body.

Continue reading ““It Happens” Photo Series Challenges the Stereotypes Associated with Sexual Assault”

Are Your Looks Grade A?

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By Jessica Bovee 

Looks matter. The media often covers the discrimination against race or gender, but attractiveness is rarely addressed. However, it’s a problem now, because the pretty people are benefiting. Not only are people holding the door for them, but now they are receiving the better grades and jobs.

Whether it’s at school or at work, people deemed more beautiful are getting the upper-hand in life simply based on their genetics. We may think teachers wouldn’t discriminate based on their students’ attractiveness, but one recently released study proves this unjust phenomenon.

Continue reading “Are Your Looks Grade A?”

Dress Codes: the War on Women?

High School administrators are enforcing ever stricter dress codes, and many students believe their policies are outdated with today’s fashion and culture.  Administrators and society want to believe that by dictating what students wear, there are less discipline problems, girls are not as sexualized, and the playing field is leveled for students from low-income backgrounds.  In practice, however, these dress codes cause more problems, because the regulations are simply not compatible with today’s fashion, and many girls’ gets in trouble when they shouldn’t think the policies actually objectify girls.

High school dress codes overwhelmingly target girls because boys supposedly aren’t able to control themselves, and girls’ fashion is apparently too distracting. Dress codes are supposed to liberate girls from sexualization—however, they do the opposite. They take girls out of the classroom, embarrass them, and publicly shame culturally acceptable attire. I think it’s wrong to reinforce the culture of objectifying women and girls by allowing this type of sexism. Insisting that girls should cover up more objectifies them, and places the blame for their sexualization on them. Boys should learn how to honor and respect girls irrespective of new fashion trends. Girls aren’t asking to be sexually harassed and objectified, and it is wrong that schools are choosing to benefit the boys rather than allowing the girls to be comfortable with their clothes and body. We are not teaching boys how to be respectful, and are allowing boys and administrators to make fun of girls who are being punished for not even dressing inappropriately. For example, there was a recent story this year about a Kentucky girl being sent home from school because her collar bone was showing. According to Caroline Bolognia, “After receiving a phone call from the school about Stephanie’s dress code violation, Dunn brought her daughter a scarf to wear (The Ridiculous Dress Code Rule That Made This Teen’s Outfit Inappropriate,  Huffington Post). The incident didn’t end even after Stephanie put on the scarf. The male principal  said Stephanie was giving him “attitude,” and sent her home anyway.

High school dress codes need to be modified to provide a more fair evaluation regarding what girls can and cannot wear due to evolving fashion trends. School administrators should tolerate current fashion trends (within reason, obviously) and should hold boys accountable if they are disrespectful to girls. As Laura Bates, a Time magazine journalist, says, “It teaches our children that girls’ bodies are dangerous, powerful and sexualized, and that boys are biologically programmed to objectify and harass them (How School Dress Codes Shame Girls and Perpetuate Rape Culture, Time Magazine feel that girls are targeted due to male teachers and students feeling uncomfortable with their clothing. I personally think society is educating boys to think this way at a young age, to accept society’s perpetuation of the rape culture, and further ingrain negative patterns of sexualization and objectification. Society and the public school system are ingraining sexist attitudes in young men and boys by enforcing a dress code that restricts women.

The idea that dress codes establish an even playing field for all genders is a myth, because they are almost always targeted more towards women and girls. In a recent study conducted by Carrie Preston, a Boston University women’s studies professor, she claims that school dress codes rarely have positive effects on students. According to Preston, “It’s certainly going to give women the idea that the exposure of their bodies is a negative thing.” (How Dress Codes Make Things Worse for High School Girls, Boston.com). What Preston maintains is the dress codes are not beneficial to all they continue a cultural trend of being uncomfortable with the female anatomy. For example, “A high school in Shelton, Connecticut, banned backless, cut-out, and midriff style prom dresses eight days before the dance this week, drawing panic and anger from students and parents who say it’s too late notice to change the rules (“How Dress Codes Make Things Worse for High School Girls). Reading these stories from high schools around the United States alerted me to the problems that young women and girls encounter in trying to express themselves fashionably, hoping to not be shamed.

Young men and boys almost never get in trouble for wearing low saggy jeans, for example. I don’t think dress standards are justified when the sexes are treated unequally regarding dress code enforcement. Overall, even if dress codes are meant to be well intentioned, they establish sexist divides in American culture I believe school districts need to evolve their polices and enforce consequences for male students who choose to be disrespectful towards girls. The problem runs deep, however, and cannot be solved overnight.

On Being a Non-White Feminist

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So if feminism is supposed to be a movement of solidarity, why then is there still such a division amongst women? We are quick to recall Susan B. Anthony and Rosie the Riveter when we think of feminism, but often forget about Audre Lorde, Dolores Huerta, and Julia de Burgos. As a Latina, I have fought the struggles of both sexism and racism and feel that it is important to recognize that the two are very much interrelated. If as feminists we are going to fight for equality, it should be equality for all people– not just that of white women.

Being a woman of color, it has been difficult to “pick a side,” so to speak, when defending my rights as a woman and as a Latina. It is disheartening to me when I see and experience division between each of the movements. I’ll admit I was even a little discouraged at signing up to write for this blog when I went to the first meeting and was surrounded by all white females. I chose to stay to represent my underrepresented race, and am proud that I did.  Continue reading “On Being a Non-White Feminist”

Book Review- Winning the War for Talent

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I had the recent pleasure of reading a book about women in business for my 300-level Integrated Seminar (ISEM) course titled Winning the War for Talent in Emerging Markets: Why Women are the Solution by Ripa Rashid and Sylvia Ann HewlettThis book is about women in the “BRIC” countries; Brazil, China, Russia, India, and the United Arab Emirates; and how their skills are starting to become noticed. These BRIC countries have a rapidly growing GDP, which will impact the rest of the first world countries. Having women in key roles in these countries as they develop will assure women an almost equal playing field in the first world stage of development.

Continue reading “Book Review- Winning the War for Talent”

Gender Bias behind and In front of the TV Camera

Growing up in a very open-minded and supportive household I was never told that I couldn’t follow my dreams of being a camera operator due to my gender. I have always been gifted in photography and I have a natural talent to frame and portray emotions in still photos and video sequences. Being part of the Broadcasting and Digital Media program has opened my eyes to the inequalities in the Broadcasting industries. For an example, last year during fall I received an email from my advisor because a media company needed camera operators and people to run cables at the football games at the Kibbie Dome. I called the guy and he said he would get back to me. The next day I got a phone call, he said he was pursuing other candidates despite my eagerness to learn and do anything to get more hands on experience. Going to the game and seeing all men on the crew was disappointing because I was just as capable and as willing to learn the grunt work. According to Women’s Media Center “In evening broadcast news, men were on camera 68 percent of the time as anchors and correspondents. While women were on camera 32 percent of the time” (WMC shines light in Gender Bias in Major US Broadcast, Print, Online and Wire outlets).  Obviously, something needs to change when women are not treated with the same preference as men when it comes to their skills and technical abilities.  Another factor in this gendered industry is age and being physically attractive. “A study of cable news programs found that 62% of segments analyzed contained predominately female journalists with high sex appeal (Nitz, Reichert, Aune, & Velde, 2007, p. 14) .

One of the comments I heard on the phone while talking to the production guy was how physically fit and strong I was. I confidently said I was strong and, able to do whatever was asked of my broadcasting abilities.  I think that due to being a woman my technical and, camera operating skills were doubted due to transferring from Eastern Washington University without video production experience. I was doubted due to assumptions of my gender not having technical camera knowledge or having enough physical strength. There are preconceived ideas in society held by men in organizations that women don’t want to be running cables and, cameras around town.  Cameras are lighter now and, do not weigh as much as society likes to assume they do. These stereotypes and opinions about gender greatly limit the career opportunities for women in this industry. The number one issue being- men imply nonverbally that woman in broadcasting don’t have enough strength and knowledge for the cameras. Women are not too fragile to do the media work we know how to do, and are trained to do.  In my opinion, another reason women struggle in broadcasting is that we don’t memorize the technology vocabulary. As media professional females we just know how cameras work and, don’t ask for HDMI cables we know what they are despite not using the terminology. Men may take this the wrong way believing we are not experienced enough because; we are not as technical in our language. However, if using the technical jargon was required by an employer implementing it would be within our capabilities.

Another way assignments are gender segregated are because of how men and females perceive technology there are inequalities in the Broadcast system. “Women are assigned to soft news stories, like health and entertainment news, whereas their male counterparts are given stories of political and international importance. (Carter, 1998, p.14). This type of profile is done similarly on the camera operating side of news- men are sent to war zones and, women are sent to less important assignments due biological gender safety concerns. This circumstance goes deeper because men are typically viewed to be more credible and less emotional in their assignments. This may be the reason why women never obtain that many hard-hitting journalism pieces because; in this industry a person assumes women cannot handle assignments like that.

I myself have encountered this gender bias my first year at the University of Idaho and through another experience I had volunteering for a Christian group in Pullman. I decided to volunteer at the Christian group for their video team because, I am a broadcasting major and I felt very interested in it due to my background in photography. It was a challenge to follow the men on the Christian video team due to these gendered reasons. One of the most offensive comments I have ever heard while working with the Christian video team was do you know how to insert a battery?  It was obvious that I was taking on a gendered biased crew, as they inferred I had a complete lack of capability. This question may have been assumed due to being female in a male dominated environment that already had broken communication patterns and role confusion. This role confusion at the Christian group was not helpful because it caused miscommunications and I was not treated equally due to my gender. Without providing direction these men in this Christian group assumed I did not have previous experience when I did, and I was treated unfairly. The male Christian leader in the video team spoke more distinctly when I asked for clarification about my responsibilities. This really bothered me because, they did not go as in depth in details of what they wanted or expected. It was harder to adjust to my role when I did not have shot size lists or clear distinct explanations of who to zoom up on or solely focus on during worship service. . I tried to focus in medium close up and extreme close up shots of the worship band singing and portraying emotion. The Broadcast leader said I did not have to be as zoomed in however, I thought it looked better to be zoomed in closer occasionally.  I think this same situation occurred when I tried to get into the Broadcasting gig at the University of Idaho. I asked a lot of questions to the production crew that ran cables at the football games and the coordinator disregarded my questions and assumed I was inexperienced. The University of Idaho broadcast company coordinator did not give a lot of in-in-depth details of what they do, and, what he looks for in a Broadcast worker. I believe I was indirectly put aside and not chosen to shoot sports because the leader of the Broadcasting Company decided to pick men first. At least 90 percent of his crew was male and I believe I was subject to the barriers set in place by the evident gender bias.

“Male correspondents at ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS provided 66 percent of news reports from the field (WMC Divided 2015: The Media Gender Gap). This citation I have just shared from the Women’s Media Center website proves there is a gender bias in sports broadcasting reporting, news broadcasting and, behind the camera. 66 percent is a very high number and, this shows women are underrepresented and pushed aside for jobs they should be allowed to do. Something needs to change so more women can have way more news opportunities for sports broadcasting, hard news assignments and, any stories of political or international importance. This is important to myself and, other women because we all deserve a chance in the Broadcasting industry. All women need to shine and showcase our news making and digital media making skills. It is no longer the 1960s or 1970s it is time to evolve push aside assumptions and, move forward into allowing women to feel more welcome in the Broadcasting workplace.

Herbert George Ponting and cinematograph, Antarctica, January 1912
Herbert George Ponting and cinematograph, Antarctica, January 1912