A Post-Heterosexual Vision of Love

 

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A comic about gender being performative

By Olivia Comstock

Every part of our lives is stereotyped and put into boxes – our class, our education, our gender, our sexuality, and our love. This is frustrating and wrong because love should be the most free, open, and genuine part of life. Instead, it is limited by strict normalized gender roles and heteronormativity. These place implied expectations and create assumptions based on one’s role as the man or the woman in the relationship. Because of this, the possibilities of what love can be are limited. Openness, comfort, and self-love on the individual level also create these characteristics in a relationship. However, these traits are stifled by what is considered “normal” and people’s attempts to conform to it. There is potential to expand the possibilities of how people love through looking at the queer community and through a vision of a post-heterosexual world. I acknowledge that this is a very broad topic. I am only going to do a brief survey of how I think queerness could help us move beyond the boundaries and institutions in place today, but I am aware of the infiniteness of this topic.

Continue reading “A Post-Heterosexual Vision of Love”

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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High School administrators are enforcing ever stricter dress codes, and many students believe their policies are outdated with today’s fashion and culture.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.

Women Underrepresented in History Textbooks

There’s a prevailing social phenomenon that most people seem to easily recall men’s contributions in society over women’s contributions. According to Joyce Delaney, “There is a noticeable imbalance in the importance given to women as opposed to men’s roles” (Voices Not Heard: Women in a History Textbook). Throughout my research on this topic, I found that people do not know about women in history because textbooks are too brief and reflect dated attitudes that are male-oriented.

Textbooks continually fail to teach us about important women because textbook writers apparently do not want to do the work of reconstructing and reconfiguring our textbooks. Sherrow Pinder said, “We believe that by highlighting female teachers’ perceptions on gender bias present in textbooks, educators might begin to see the inherent need for reconstruction of women’s issues in social studies textbooks used in the United States” (American Multicultural Studies: Diversity of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality). Clearly, nobody notices the lack of representation at first because we are so encultured to accept male-centric attitudes in our curricula. Statements about women’s achievements are often brief, and women are portrayed as more of the supportive caretakers. The most celebrated accomplishments in history textbooks are usually achievements in war, in which women’s contributions are dramatically underrepresented.  A study by M.K Tetrealt said that “textbooks placed an emphasis on political, diplomatic and military history instead of social history and, as a result, women’s achievements in the private sphere were left out” (Integrating Women’s History: The Case of United States History High School Textbooks). I found this to be interesting. I was surprised publishers would cut out women when they should be included as influential people in history, particularly due to the women’s rights movement. Tetrealt further elaborated that a “study of history textbooks revealed that in one that contains 819 pages, the text allotted to references to women added up to less than one page. A closer look at another publisher’s offering showed that in more than 1,000 pages, there were four illustrations of men for every one of women, and that less than three percent of the text was about women (130).”

Tetrealt’s study also looked into the ways women were described and how their roles were defined in academic textbooks, in particular highlighting Eleanor Roosevelt’s representation in textbooks. “Although these textbooks often ‘present her as a person in her own right’ (Tetreault, 1984, p. 546), the roles most often depicted consisted of Roosevelt caring for her husband, concerned for the unfortunate; most did not emphasize her “female centered activities” ( Tetreault, 1984, p. 546). This is a huge mistake–schoolchildren do not learn about Eleanor’s Roosevelt’s contributions to society and are not informed about her advocacy efforts.  This gender bias blocks knowledge and creates ignorance in school curricula, centering learning around male contributions and neglecting to recognize women for fighting for voting rights and the opportunity for women to actively participate in democracy.

Ways in which publishers continue to promote a male-centered curriculum in textbooks is by denying the problem even exists. Teachers have to stick to outdated guidelines because administrators continue to purchase textbooks that are lacking in a complete and inclusive version of history. “Textbook editors and authors (many of whom are historians from colleges and research universities) bemoan the fact that they must curb their desire for change because conservative state or local boards of education control the choice of textbooks…” says Judith Zinsser (History and Feminism: A Glass Half Full). Parents, students and faculty have little to no control over what is bought and used in their schools because boards of education make these curriculum decisions. Most local boards of education or state boards are conservative with their academic choices. Concerned consumers should join these organizations, go to their meetings to voice their concerns, and not be apathetic about the situational status quo regarding women’s representation in textbooks. Things will never change without reaction and action around these books. Teachers should be encouraged to share a diverse view of history that is not more slanted to male leaders, and also focuses on influential women leaders.

All things considered, unless consumers and educators campaign for more inclusive textbooks, male-oriented history textbooks will continue to cause misconceptions around the roles and contributions of women. Women, parents and educators must be willing to stand up to the dated and gendered ideas printed in today’s textbooks. Women have brought about fundamental changes in society and their contributions should not be ignored.

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                            Eleanore Roosevelt

#AskHerMore Movement at the Academy Awards

Looking back in the past last year’s Academy Award joke Amy Schumer made was offensive and halted the #AskHerMore movement.  Amy’s tweet said “ Ok well how about my idea #askhimless #Oscars” (Bustle Amy Schumer Tweets About #AskHerMore While I love Her, She is Sort of Undermining the cause)  In my own opinion the #AskHerMore campaign was supposed to be empowering and calling attention the media portraying a gender bias.  This social movement was established to motivate members of the media to ask women questions about their career fields and life goals.

#AskHerMore was started by Representation Project which is nonprofit organization that aspires to challenge individuals and communities to overcome stereotyping people when regarding their gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation or personal circumstances. The movement began during the Emmys this year and blew up on social media while women were watching the awards show. “Viewers expressed frustration at what they perceived as sexism in the questions asked, and journalists also weighed in pointing out that women were asked about fashion and baby bumps while men chatted about their childhood roles and fellow nominees (O’Neil, Lorena. “Oscars Red Carpet 2015: Battle Lines Drawn Over Sexism and #AskHerMore”).  Audiences nowadays do not like seeing sexism and the media harassing women about physical appearances because audiences do not agree with these media tactics.

Historically throughout time at the Academy Awards, the media would rather call attention towards what women are wearing rather than asking about their movie roles.  For an example, Reese Witherspoon posts to Instagram with the #AskHerMore campaign. Reese Witherspoon is tired and frustrated about the reporters Red Carpet questions regarding her clothing and makeup. “There are 44 nominees this year that are women and we are so happy to be here and talk about the work that we’ve done. It’s hard being women in Hollywood or in any industry” (Alter/Time, Charlotte. “Reese Witherspoon Slams Sexist Red Carpet Questions, Encourages Journalists to #AskHerMore.”)  Obviously, women are still struggling in the movie industry and in society when regarding physical appearance when there are thousands of tweets regarding #AskHerMore. This campaign is supposed to alert women, journalists and society about their talents, intelligence and not belittling women due to their gender.

In an article published by Next Web an example of belittling can be found in very visibly when describing a women’s typical role. Women are called crazy if they take upon as many responsibilities as men do and, are demeaned on public television. Susan Wojcicki one of the top female CEOs in America and she is in charge of YouTube. Susan was asked a patronizing question on the Gayle King show when she was invited to a successful women panel. King asked Susan if her children were made by the same husband (Hockenson /TNW News, Lauren. “Dreamforce’s ‘Women’s Innovation’ Panel Is Why We Should Stop Babying Female CEOs”). I found this to be inappropriate and demeaning because, a primetime TV host ethically she has no reason to ask this question and it was out of context. She shouldn’t have asked a question like this or even implied that she is unfaithful to her husband. The interview King was conducting was meant to show how Susan became a powerful CEO when she has the challenges of being a mother and business women in a man’s world. The notion that women cannot have careers is pure garbage because any women should be allowed to do what she loves without being asked why she even bothers doing what she loves. I think this talk show is an important example of why the #AskHerMore campaign began because this interview was not about empowering women it put Susan down. Susan was not allowed to speak on behalf on the challenges of running their company as a minority voice.

Society has changed to improve how women are treated and questioned by the media. Questions about your wardrobe and makeup have been more acceptable in the past, because the demographic population saw it as normal. Millennials and the generation beneath us are more sensitive to these types of questions due to eating disorders, bullying. The “what are you wearing? Or who did your makeup?” questions are no longer valuable information.  Women evidently have more to give to society, and perceptions of their roles have changed ever since the first suffrage movement. #AskHerMore has been successful despite Amy Schumer’s attempts to joke about it; however she did draw the discussion away from its purpose of answering questions about career fields and lifetime goals.

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Feminism quote and image that is uncopyrighted.

Carly Fiorina vs. Hilary Clinton in the Presidential election

Defining feminism can be tricky due to the broad perspectives and misconceptions people have about the word. Feminism is the belief that women are and should be treated on an even playing field when defining rights, opportunities and societal interests. This term is skewed out of proportion because; people narrowly define feminism as a one political party campaign. Feminism is a social advocacy campaign that is to promote women’s rights when regarding social and economic equality to men.  Carly Fiorina one of the female republican president nominees wants to refine feminism and point out that republican woman also suffer from sexism and belittling talk in the media industry. Carly Fiorina wants women to decide who they are rather than having society tell them who they should be.  “Feminism began as a rallying cry to empower women, but over the years, feminism has devolved into a left leaning political ideology where women are pitted against men and used as a political weapon to win election said Carly Fiorina (Berenson, Tessa. Here’s How Carly Fiorina Wants to Redefine Feminism.”).  What Carly Fiorina means by this is, that both democrat women and, republican women are fighting when in all reality they should be working together. Since women are not working together due to differing ideologies the feminism movement has primary been seen as only a left-winged movement. However, the concept of Feminism is by nature much more inclusive, and needs to be treated as such in order to advocate and empower women across all social positions regardless of political ideology.

Two examples of powerful women figures are Carly Fiorina and Hilary Clinton. Both Carly Fionia and Hilary Clinton are going down their campaign trails while reporters and opposing male candidates negatively comment on their physical appearances .For an example, Donald Trump insulted Carly Fiorina in a Rolling stone article questioning her credibility because of her gender. “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you image that, the face of our next president?”(Linskey, Annie. “Hillary Clinton Slams Donald Trump for Insulting Carly Fiorina’s Appearance).   Words like this symbolize the tough environment women must endure if they are successful and society is biased against electing them due to sexism on the campaign trail. There has not been one female president and the majority of people choose to prefer white men over women because of the sexist views that women are too emotional to handle domestic affairs intelligently. You can see this gender bias as evident when reporters ask if she is running for vice president and commenting on her nail polish rather than on something important.  Similarly Hilary Clinton is criticized by the Republican nominees in a similar fashion. Hilary has to endure personal style comments by Republican presidential contenders and integrity questions when regarding the email server.  Hilary may be the ideal liberal feminist however, being trustworthy is important especially when she has so much power and influence.  Hilary lives by the words of feminism she lets the public know she supports equal rights for women.  “Women and girls are central to our foreign policy and that nations that support women are more stable and are less likely to breed extremism” (Megan Gibson “Hillary Clinton Wants You to Call Her a Feminist).  I think the question society should ask if it is the right time for one of these female candidates to take over the oval office. People should vote for the right women that they think will do their job right and make the correct changes. Once one of these women is elected life would change for America. Women will gain credibility; respect and society will say they are tired of the sexist ideals that people assume that since society wants women to be home we should find ways to put down the women that want to become more than a housewife. If society elects a woman into office and, she is successful society will have to change their gender ideals .Men and society would have to admit they are wrong about their preconceived notions of the female gender. A female president would encourage a societal and cultural shift on the perspectives on women. Being president has nothing to do with your gender, it should be about leadership skills and the ability to adapt, listen to your people and using common sense. I believe women would fulfill the position of presidency well because they listen better, and, have the guts to say how they feel.  Evidently both women running for office may be different politically and ideologically but, we must look deeper into women right issues past the titles of Democrat or Republican.  Their political stances might seem important however, we must look into their values to see who would fit America in the right way to successful lead us out of debt and international troubles.

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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

Fighting For the United States

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By Cassie Greenwald

Women in combat are not a new phenomenon. Historically, there have been a few women in combat roles. During World War II, there were an estimated half-million women serving on anti-aircraft batteries in Britain. In Germany, women served as partisans in German-occupied Ukraine, and directly on the front lines. Soviet women were also deployed as snipers against the Nazi Wehrmacht, but most of their names have been forgotten. There are some countries that have already had women in combat, such as Israel, Germany and Canada. “They’ve done very, very well in Afghanistan, which is really Canada’s first time having women in the infantry” (Neuman, 2013).

Women today make up about 15 percent of the military (about 203,000 troops). Since 2001, more than 280,000 women have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. This has helped to alleviate some of the concern surrounding women in combat roles. Women soldiers are held to the same standards as men. “For example, to be a pilot, your femur has to be a certain length, you have to have a certain sitting height. Those are the occupational standards, and any woman going into any job has got to meet those in the exact same way as a male does” (Neuman, 2013). West Point requires cadets to pass an indoor obstacle course that tests agility, stamina and strength. The obstacle course is designed to determine whether future soldiers will be able to meet the demands of combat. Freshman Cadet Madaline Kenyon completed this course in 2 minutes and 26 seconds. This score is equivalent to an A-plus of the men’s scale. Continue reading “Fighting For the United States”