Recently in Gender Category

Instead of an actual article or something of that nature I actually have to report an incidence that affects me personally...or rather my sister. My sister is 11 and goes to Meredith Middle School. For the most part it is a pretty diverse school for being in Iowa (granted it is in Des Moines). Anyways... She is 11 but she still understands the concept of discrimination, whether or not she understands the actual term. There is a group at her school called the "Sisters for Success" that gets the chance to go on field trips and do little fun projects as a group. It is sort of a club that recieves special priveleges if you are a member. My sister, naturally, wanted to join. Who wouldn't want to go on field trips? They turned her down because she was white. They told her that this was a group only for African American girls. Disappointed, she told me about it. I find this very interesting. I know that there is an understanding that groups should unite and band together to celebrate who they are, but she obviously wanted to join this group. From what she told me, it doesn't seem like they are actually doing this in the first place. They mostly just meet to be friendly, not necessarily to talk about race. I could just be bias (given that this did happen to my sister) but I feel like this is wrong. She is 11 and she does understand what is going on, but what are your thoughts on the subject? Is this type of thing a problem?

...also.. when we talked about this she said the most interesting/adorable thing she probably could have, "actually... I feel kinda bad for the boys....they don't have any sort of group for them."
"For seven years, her husband taunted, threatened and thrashed her, she says. After she filed for divorce, he struck again, throwing enough acid on her face to destroy her left eye."


     While I realize that we have all experienced that feeling of "Why doesn't she just leave that abusive dirtbag?  She's better than that", when I saw this story I was mortified, humbled, and grateful.

      I feel as though you should really just read the story to understand the situation.  The environment reported by these women seems so sad and, they seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place.

     On the one hand, sure, I suppose they could leave their husbands.  However some of these women still experience abuse after they've divorced their spouse.  The social pressures and expectations that exist keep them where they are.  If they leave their husbands they risk social isolation from their community, extended families included. 

      If they report abuse to the police, they are met with little or no understanding, much less legal recourse.  So what to do?  Stay in an abusive situation and have your face burned off with acid?

      The article seems to indicate that at present there is no legislation protecting the family from spousal abuse, and the legislation under debate seems to have little to no chance of being approved.

     In the article, an interview with a Pakistani legislator reveals his belief that domestic abuse legislation will weaken the family structure and create social unrest.  This is where things get a bit sticky for me.

      On the one hand I can empathize with groups pushing for change and support for these women in such difficult conditions.  However on the other hand, I find it hard to push agendas on societies that don't necessarily want them.  My world view provides a belief that no person should be subject to abuse, but from the views described in the article it seems that may not be the case in Pakistan. 

      In recent years I have changed my position on U.S. involvement with other countries and cultures, as I think our country needs to empower long term change through non-invasive methods like providing support and education, not troops and tanks. 

      Leaving the best way of addressing this situation to those more qualified and suited to do so, I remain thankful for the imperfect protections that exist against domestic abuse here in the U.S.  While I am certain they are deficient for some, as demonstrated by the situation in Pakistan, it could be worse. 

The 'queering the census' movement has gone viral.

You may have already heard about this, but this is an article about a movement for the U.S. Census to include responses for single gay individuals. This year's census had an option for homosexual married couples, but that was it. Does it surprise you that the U.S. Census, one of the most organized and expensive survey organizations, doesn't include something so socially salient on their survey? Shouldn't this be something that was identified as missing before the census was even close to being sent out?

In addition to this, the article talks about transgendered individuals being identified on the census. This year transgender individuals were told to check "male" or "female" according to which sex they most identified. They argue that a separate box should be included for this question. This is something that has, from my knowledge, hasn't been included on any other survey's I've come across. Do you agree with adding this box to the "Sex" question on the census? Is this something that would then need to be included on other official surveys or demographic forms?
"The launch -- the last scheduled one in darkness for NASA's fading shuttle program -- helped set a record for the most women in space at the same time. Three women are aboard Discovery, and another is already at the space station, making for an unprecedented foursome."

Space Shuttle Discovery lifts off Monday from pad 39a at the Kennedy Space Center

     Since my last post may have been interpreted as "less than celebrating" the opposite sex, I'd like to take this opportunity to earn at least a portion of your trust back again.  Even now, as you read this, there are more women in space than EVER BEFORE!  This is a big deal!  And this isn't some sort of lame housekeeping (no pun intended) mission, its a full on expedition.  They're resupplying the International Space Station, adding on additional sleeping quarters, a darkroom, and installing a 3D theater so they can watch Avatar.  

     Though the general U.S. population may be over its love affair with space travel, I think its safe to assume that it hasn't EVER lusted after mid-level management positions either.  Yet we remain interested in the statistics regarding issues such as the glass-ceiling, gender equality in the workplace etc.  

     I suppose what I'm getting at is that its good to see that even bureaucratic, government funded, mega-organizations like NASA seem to be taking steps towards ending the "good ole' boys" era of space flight.  

     Then again, I may have spoken too soon.  Maybe the following is a more accurate inference of what is driving this event.  

"Astronaut Dave, space basically sucks.  Don't you think it would be a LITTLE bit better if there were some ladies up here?"

"Well Astronaut Jim, I think you're right.  Lets call the boys downstairs and see if we can do something about it.  Oh, and see if we can get some cold ones up here too"

NOTE:  Again, just as I approach decency, I stray and take two steps back...
"PORTLAND - About two dozen women marched topless from Longfellow Square to Tommy's Park this afternoon in an effort to erase what they see as a double standard on male and female nudity."

     Ah, finally, a movement I can support, and from the looks of it, they need all the "support" they can get!  Apparently the state in which this unorthodox event took place, Maine, defines nudity as "genitals only".  So, what's a girl to do when she can walk around topless?  Well, it seems she's going around topless.  

"The women, preceded and followed by several hundred boisterous and mostly male onlookers, many of them carrying cameras"

     Oh really?  No kidding?  You don't say?  A whole bunch of guys followed a whole bunch of topless women?  This sounds more like a bizarre bachelor party or Girls Gone Wild event than a social movement.  My favorite part of this story is the organizers' comments after the march:  

"Ty McDowell, who organized the march, said she was "enraged" by the turnout of men attracted to the demonstration. The purpose, she said, was for society to have the same reaction to a woman walking around topless as it does to men without shirts on."

Come on Ty, COME ON!  Sure, I suppose she can be enraged, but I think her position would have been more effective had she used this as a teachable moment.  What if she had said the following INSTEAD:  
     "The attention we received while marching today illustrates the divide between the social perception of men and women, and how we still have a long way to go before we reach equality.  I mean, if there were 20 topless men walking down the street, it would probably have looked like a ghost-town around here.  I think we have made some progress though, and I look forward to our next event"

Ty, you can lose your shirt, but lose the aggression too!  Have a sense of humor for goodness sakes, and realize that until internet porn is obsolete and Hustler and Playboy go bankrupt, naked chicks will remain totally sweet...

NOTE:  I felt it was my duty to maintain the normative male perspective on female nudity for the purposes of this entry.  Please don't think less of me, I really am a decent human being.  
"Anti-abortion groups are targeting black audiences with the message that abortion is a form of "ethnic cleansing." But as many point out, this strategy ignores the real needs of all women."

     When I heard this spot on the radio the other day, I immediately thought about the situation we discussed in class about the adjunct professor that was fired for using the "N" word.  According to our class discussion, one of the main reasons we believed this action was taken was because of the instructors' inability to recognize the history and the true meaning embodied by that sort of language.

      This use of the word "lynching" regarding African American children seems to do the same thing.  Though I think all of us would like to see the number of abortions performed each year decrease, it seems the groups using this sort of language are also disregarding the historical and contextual meaning the word "lynching" has.

     Media coverage over the last few years (even as recent as last month) has shown time after time how even a noose hung in a tree or a campus building incites fear, resentment, and anger amongst those who understand its meaning.

     No matter what side of the abortion issue you find yourself, I think this kind of use of language proves ineffective for its intention... is a website dedicated to exposing media messages that are detrimental for the body image of girls and women. Their mission is "to equip women and girls with tools to understand and resist harmful media messages that affect self-esteem and body image."

They focus on analysing visual images that appear on the media, in order to foster a critical mind in the viewers, particularly female viewers who are most affected by images of the "ideal woman" presented in the media, most pervasively in advertisements selling all kinds of products.

An interesting feature of this website is their "Gallery of offenders", in which they present offensive media images, including an analysis of the negative messages that they present. For example, the following image from a magazine ad, which presents a stereotypical image of female passivity, victimization, and objectivization.

A bad Ad!

The website also includes a "Gallery of winners", in which they present images that send more positive messages. For example, the following magazine ad, which presents a woman in a position of strenght.

image nine

It is an excellent resource for teaching women to look more critically at the information they receive from the media. For more information, visit: 

To Kill a Mockingbird

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The Pulitzer Prize winner To Kill a Mockingbird is a timeless classic written by Harper Lee. The story takes place in the small southern town of Maycomb County, Alabama in the midst of The Great Depression. The narrator of this riveting story is a young girl named Jean Louise Finch, or Scout. Scout is not the typical delicate, shy, and ladylike child that society expects her to be. She is an outspoken, rambunctious and free spirited tomboy who wears overalls, plays in the outdoors alongside her older brother Jem, and is far more intelligent than most in her age group. She and her brother Jem are the children of Maycomb County defense lawyer Atticus Finch. Atticus can be considered an untraditional man in several respects. For starters he is a single father raising two children. He also encourages and stresses the importance of an education and egalitarian beliefs to Scout and Jem during a time when it was very unpopular to do so.

Throughout the text, Scout walks us through her childhood adventures in this conservative southern Alabama town alongside Jem and occasionally their best friend Dill. At first life seems simple. But when their father Atticus takes on the case of his life, they all begin to realize the severity of racial turmoil that defined American society during this time period.

  In the story, Atticus takes on the case of a Negro man named Tom Robinson. Tom is a young family man whose only crime is that he is African American. He stands accused of raping the eldest daughter of Mr. Ewells, an impoverished social misfit in Maycomb County. The Ewells are an unpopular family who live on the outskirts of Maycomb in the midst of the town's dump. They are known by everyone in the county for being aggressive, dishonest, uncivilized, unclean, and uneducated. Despite these facts they hold a great advantage over the most civilized and honest African Americans: they are white.

 Scout and Jem encounter dirty stares and insults by many of their fellow townsfolk because their father is defending a Negro. Through example however, Atticus teaches his children that the color of your skin does not define what kind of person you are. Everyone should be treated with kindness and respect. Scout and Jem manage to hold their heads high and support their father's cause. Despite the best efforts of Atticus however, Tom is convicted of raping Mr. Ewells' daughter and is sentenced to death. Scout and Jem learn the grim reality that justice for all does not exist in the ignorant and racist American culture.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a wonderful text to read when learning about stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. Readers can get examples of all three of these elements throughout the entire story not just in the context of black versus white, but also society versus women, and poor whites versus everyone else. Some of the social psychological underpinnings of this novel deal with constructs such as categorization, Social Identity Theory, depersonalization and dehumanization, out-group homogeneity, social motives such as self-enhancement and control, and the list goes on.

Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird is a wonderful representation of the struggles experienced by generations of minorities as well as females throughout American history. From a social scientific standpoint, the novel gives social psychological novices a well rounded summary of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination along with solutions to such issues.

The New York Times article "Bias Called Persistent Hurdle for Women in Sciences" describes the report by the American Association of University Women that addresses the underpresentation of women in scientific fields such as math and technology.

Letters: Turning Women Into Scientists

The report talks about the factors that may influence this underpresentation, including the controversial issue of innate differences. When discussing the differences in male and female brains, the leading author of the report, Catherine Hill, said: "None of the research convincingly links those differences to specific skills, so we don't know what they mean in terms of mathematical abilities."

Thus, the report also focused on the cultural factors that influence this phenomenon, with findings such as this: "One study of postdoctoral applicants, for example, found that women had to publish 3 more papers in prestigious journals, or 20 more in less-known publications, to be judged as productive as male applicants."

Cultural stereotypes affect the performance of women, as the findings in stereotype threat research suggest, and therefore, prevention of that effect becomes important. The authors of the report searched for ways in which women can be encouraged to enter scientific fields, finding things such as teaching girls that math is not a static ability, teaching special courses for women entering the fields, and teaching girls about stereotype threat and its effect on performance.

Although the report indicates that the number of women in scientific fields is growing, equality has not been achieved: "But even as women earn a growing share of the doctorates in the STEM fields, the university women's report found, they do not show up, a decade later, in a proportionate number of tenured faculty positions."

For the New York Times Article, click here:

For the full report (Why so Few?) click here:

"Goldman Sachs Group Inc was sued for alleged bias by a former vice president, who said the Wall Street bank consigned her to a "mommy track" that led to her firing while she was on maternity leave."

A Goldman Sachs employee claims she was fired for taking her maternity leave. After he first materinity leave she was made to feel unwelcome, and she never got the chance to return from her second.  There is a lot of talk about descrimination in teh work place against women because of teh steriotype that they are more family oriented and will put their children first while men wont.  Women already (unfairly) make less money than men do in most jobs.  Firing a woman for taking maternity leave is unacceptable.
The Northern Iowan put this Article on the front page; the Thursday before spring break.  If there is truly an idea or an image that UNI is trying to preserve in saying Diversity Matters or UNI.  It starts with us as students speaking out against bigotry, racist ideology, discrimination, or being stereotyped.   I truly understand the 1st Amendment Right of "Freedom of Press/ Speech", but at what cost is that freedom really freedom. If it shows a bias towards homosexual or minorities, is it not an infringement on the rights of a people. We may not be seen what the administration is doing but the fact that they are standing and saying that these actions will not tolerated here on campus is a start, but this massage needs to be sent to all department heads, and down the line but mostly in the news paper where they feel that it is necessary to put this out to the public.

Now that it was put out on the front page, shows that there is an active KKK organization here in Cedar Falls/Waterloo but across the state of Iowa in ten different cities.  Now the subject and idea is actually out their instead of trying to deny it as they did in the past, it is up to the people to see where they want to go from here.  Here on campus for the first time in history a verity of different organizations our coming together never to fight and stand for a just cause.  We our tired of being underrepresented or feel that at times administration, is more worried about the mighty dollar rather than its students; and now we all have a voice as student who our standing against oppression.     

It seems that music videos have always presented sexual images. For example, it is difficult to forget the semi-naked women who accompanied 1980s rock bands in their videos that were shown all over the world. But lately it seems that sexual images are used by both men and women: female singers are increasingly presenting themselves with less clothing and sexier dance moves.

In her article "How pop became porn", Liz Jones talks about pop star Shakira's latest video for her song "She Wolf", in which the singer appears in her most sexually explicit video so far, almost naked and dancing very provocatively inside a cage. She writes with concern: "The images can be seen in the video for her single, She Wolf, which will be watched obsessively, again and again, by thousands of young men and women, many of whom will form the opinion that writhing in a cage is precisely the way 'sexy' women should behave."

Shakira is a very interesting case. She started her career in her native Colombia, writing songs written by herself and playing the guitar. Over the years, as she has become better known internationally, she has undergone a transformation, changing her appearance and her musical style, and making sexier videos. Jones writes: "When I asked Shakira, the Latin American superstar, how she can square being sexy, wearing skimpy clothes, with her charitable work championing children in the developing world, she replied indignantly: 'Of course I can square it! I think my image is one of being powerful, in control.'"

Shakira is not the only female pop star doing this kind of videos, and this raises some questions: Are over-sexualized images of female singers really empowering women? Or are the images of semi-naked women in cages or crawling on the floor perpetuating old stereotypes of women as submissive sexual objects? Considering how often these type of videos are seen by people of all ages in many countries, the answers to these questions are extremely relevant.

To read the full article, including information about the initiative in the U.K. to ban sexually explicit videos before 9 p.m., click here:

This is a pimp named Ken who pimps all over the world. "Pimpin" is a form of power that one may have on another. This video shows some of the concepts he goes by also shows his reasoning. He is promoting his new book called Pimpology and DVD series which he explains 48 laws to the game of pimpin. What is the psychological aspect they use to get the women? what is wrong with the thought process of a PIMP and HOE? Does our US government pimp us?

The Quebec Gay and Lesbian Council has demanded a public apology from French-language broadcaster RDS after one commentator said Weir hurts figure skating's image and another said Weir should be made to take a gender test. The remarks were ''outrageous'' and ''homophobic,'' CQGL said in a statement on its Web site.

A Plug for V-Day

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Just a little plug for an event and an organization that I think you all should know about if you do not already. V-Day is an international organization with the mission of ending all violence toward women and girls. Below I have left a link for the V-Day website and the link to V-Men a series of essays from men about their journeys to their contributions toward ending violence against women and girls. Guys especially might want to check that out.

I feel the whole movement works to change people's sometimes misinformed views about violence against women. It also helps give women a voice all around the world and helps create awareness for the way woman are treated in various parts of the world.

The Vagina Monologues is a wonderful show that everyone should see at least once because of its ability to stretch one's horizons. Especially if one considers themselves  "Midwestern" and/or "of a traditional upbringing" this show might make you uncomfortable (but that's because of the mental scaffolding its breaking). It certainly has a lot of talking points. UNI is having a show this weekend, if you cannot go you could go to Wartburg's Monologues March 6th at 8pm! If that's not available you can pull up some of the scenes from it on youtube. I feel it's more insightful as a whole show in context though.

If anyone has done anything or seen anything from any of these sources, I would love to hear how they impacted you.

Vagina Monologues

Friday, 2/19/10 - Saturday, 2/20/10
7 pm, CAC 108 The Vagina Monologues seek to raise awareness and funds for the prevention of violence against women world-wide. Proceeds will benefit Club Les Dames, the NE Iowa Food Bank and V-day international.. Tickets/Registration: Tickets are $10, or $5 with a donation of two canned goods.

"Although more and more American schoolgirls grow up playing team games, those sports just don't attract commensurate attention at any level. With women's team sports, there is still a glass grandstand"
Maya Moore peeks around teammate Tina Charles as the Connecticut Huskies celebrate victory.

     We'll go banana's for Super Bowls, and we'll go bonkers for gold medals, so how is it that the most dominant team in history goes unnoticed?  The Uconn women have won 65 consecutive games -by double digits- and have what many see as the TWO best players in college basketball.  So why aren't the masses on the edge of their seats each time the Uconn women take the floor?  The article linked above submits that it comes down to dollars and cents.  

"While Las Vegas will take bets on almost any game men suit up for, only at NCAA tournament time can you bet the women's game. Then, ironically, almost no women bet -- just hard-core male gamblers."

Could this be?  Is it really possible that the only reason more fans aren' is because they can't place a wager on these Huskies?  I think the author of this article may be trying to put a unique spin on the situation, and may even be avoiding a more "delicate" dialogue.  American culture has always subscribed to the "Great Man" perspective, the idea that success comes to those who work hardest and have the gusto for cutthroat action.  In team sports success is achieved through teamwork, something Tiger and Serena don't have to worry about.  All the while though, the world tunes in for the World Series and the Super Bowl, both of which are team sports.  So it can't be JUST that you can't bet on women's sports, or that its a team sport.


AHEM...ER, UM I MEAN.. there must be another reason why we aren't more excited about the incredible achievements of this all female squad, but I for one am still trying to figure it out.  Your thoughts?

"Good Morning Boys and Girls"

| 0 Comments | 0 TrackBacks published this article by Rebecca S. Bigler, Ph.D.  The article takes a simple look into school-related gender bias.  How many times do you think you've heard phrases like "good morning, boys and girls", "ladies and gentlemen, welcome...", or "boys vs. girls"?  Throughout our 15+ years in academia, my guess would be we've all heard such gender labels used in generic fashion like this hundreds, if not thousands of times without giving it much thought.  Well what if drawing attention to gender differences like this on a daily basis at an early age perpetuates into stereotyping, stereotype threat, and bias?  Recent studies have shown this could be the case.

The article gives a few ideas as to how to correct this problem.  Using groups such as boys and girls is a really easy, and natural thing to do, so rather than selecting something like gender teachers could separate the students by what kind of shoes they're wearing (laces, buckles, velcro, etc) or other such things.  The article also, however, mentions that gender should not be ignored in any way.  It just needs to be approached in a way that would not enter into bias or stereotyping.

My thoughts on this are as follows:  I never would have stopped to think that using gender as a constant grouping, and drawing excessive amounts of attention to gender could be a precursor to gender bias.  At surface level it seems like one of those "crazy over protective findings that causes more troubles than its worth... just let the kids figure things out".  However, it makes me wonder how I might view gender differently if my school-hood would have avoided the gender-typing.

My question for you is... how early is too early to begin mentioning stereotyping and sexism?

Title IX in Iowa

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Title IX

A discussion about Title IX, a nearly forty year old law that opened the door for women in high school and college sports. We speak with Donna Lopiano, the former C.E.O. of the Women's Sports Foundation and a pioneer and champion of Title IX. Then, a conversation with Calli Sanders, Senior Associate Athletics Director at Iowa State University, and Craig Ihnen, Associate Director of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union about the status of Title IX in Iowa.

Vanity Fair Controversy

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I came across this article from yahoo:

To give a quick overview, the writer of this article criticized the editors at Vanity Fair magazine for their most recent "Young Hollywood" issue. The cover shows several young, up-and-coming actresses who have recently found great success in their careers in the entertainment industry. However all of them are white and skinny. By now, most people are aware of how the media's portrayal of "beauty", i.e. being a size 2, is detrimental to millions of women around the world. But what about the lack of diversity being added to that issue? What message does that send to minority women in this country?

The newly elected Massachusetts Senator, Scott Brown posed nude in Cosmopolitan many years ago. Would a female candidate have the same chance in running for office if they had posed nude in the same way (artfully covering the naughtier body parts)? Why aren't people making a bigger deal over this scandalous centerfold? Why is it that when running for public office attractiveness (or lack there of) is a huge issue for women candidates while it makes little difference for a male candidate?  

scene from the great debaters

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This scene from the Great Debaters is very powerful as it talks about education and how some minorities feel in the past, and in now present day.

Most Hispanic/ Latino families are a tight net family, not wanting their child to leave home. I can recall when I was leaving San Antonio to come to UNI, I distinctly  remember my fathers words, just before I got into the U-haul truck to drive away.   "Your making a mistake, your going to a white state that doesn't care about you because the color of your skin." My response was "If I don't try, or if I don't take this opportunity how will I ever know, that I can accomplish a goal in obtaining an education, unlike yourself!" 

For most of you who do read you my be thinking what and asshole, how can he  talk to his father like that. I believe that we should honor our mother and fathers as it say's in the 10 commandments, but you have to look at the big picture. Most parent are supportive of there children, giving them encouragement, and praise and the blessing to do what they feel is right, but I come from a family that really never showed that. I can say in a way that I had to raise myself; from the age of 14, I started working to help in supporting the family (two siblings, and my single father.)  Both of my parents did not have the education in which they should have had (mom dropping out in the 8th grade, and my dad in the 4th grade.) There belief is that a man should work to support a family. The reality of it a parent should be the parent and learn responsibility, and a child needs to be a child to learn and develop.  

Ambivalent Sexism Inventory

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Find out how sexist you are by taking this short quiz.

An ambivalence, or doubled-edged way of thinking, in which women are sometimes treated with contempt and sometimes adored.

National Committee on Pay Equity

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The National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE), founded in 1979, is a coalition of women's and civil rights organizations; labor unions; religious, professional, legal, and educational associations, commissions on women, state and local pay equity coalitions and individuals working to eliminate sex- and race-based wage discrimination and to achieve pay equity.