Being Bossy

By Samantha Baugh

I was often called bossy as a child by a lot of adults. It was always given to me in moments when I felt powerful and in control, and I began to understand that it was not spoken as a compliment, as I had originally taken it. I noticed the tone adults used to deliver the word. The word punched from their curved lips as if not to let it burn their mouth by lingering too long. They laughed together, at me, as if I was an inside joke and they knew better than me to behave bossy themselves. After I realized it was a word meant to correct something I was doing, I felt an ember of vindication—I would keep being bossy, I would elicit the word from them as often as possible. This kept going through my life. The first time I was called a bitch was when I was eleven years old, by a classmate after proving him wrong in front of his friends. These words stayed with me, and I struggled with the shame my power inspired from those who witnessed it.

When I entered college in 2015, I discovered a movement of powerful women trying to raise awareness for this phenomenon I had experienced as a child. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone, and I had an explanation for why my behavior had been oppressed. It wasn’t something I had been doing wrong; it wasn’t even something they were doing wrong. Rather it was something much worse—it was a symptom of society’s patriarchy.

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Witches Exposed

Three colonial girls cowering from witch
An illustration depicting Tituba, an accused witch

By Chloe Rigg

Witch.

A term which brings similar images to many peoples’ minds. Usually, it’s the image of a green faced, wart-covered crone who rides a broomstick with a malicious cackle. Other images include colonial witch trials, and a young woman being burned at the stake. The history behind witch trials are certainly dark and full of fear. We can learn astonishing trends in society when one asks the question: “Were the witch trials a form of gender bias?” The perspective I’m going to discuss is that the “witches” in the witch trial were an excuse to execute women for sin.

The Salem Massachusetts witch trials took place between 1692-93. During them, over 200 people were accused and 20 were executed for witchcraft. 20 people might not sound too overwhelming. However, for a village of only 500-600 people, the deaths would have impacted most citizens. This American witch trial mirrors the European “witchcraft craze” driven by Puritans, who for almost 300 years executed over ten thousand people. The majority executed were women for suspected witchcraft.

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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.

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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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