Just another gentle reminder that this blog, Adventures of a Young Feminist, has MOVED! I can not be found at http://adventuresofayoungfeminist.com. Please update your links, subscriptions, blogrolls, and bookmarks accordingly. Since this site has moved, there has been some great discussions on new posts, so make sure you check them out!!
THIS BLOG HAS MOVED!
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
For those of you who have subscribed to my posts, thank you. If you are looking for new posts, such as Movie Monday, you are out of luck here because I have MOVED! You can now find Adventures of a Young Feminist at http://adventuresofayoungfeminist.com.
Please update your subscriptions, links, blogrolls, bookmarks, etc, to reflect this change. Again, Adventures of a Young Feminist can now be found at http://adventuresofayoungfeminist.com.
Posted by Laura at 9:42 AM
Saturday, August 29, 2009
I have been blogging for over 2 month now and I love it! In order to expand my site and attract new readers, I have decided to switch to a self-hosted site. You can now find Adventures of a Young Feminist at http://adventuresofayoungfeminist.com.
All my previous posts are all over there as well as all comments that were made before this morning. If you have more comments to make on previous posts, please make them at the new site because I will not be checking this site for comments.
Please update your subscriptions, links, blogrolls, bookmarks, etc. to reflect this site change. I look forward to "seeing" you are the new site and seeing where this all takes us!
Friday, August 28, 2009
So you know back when Gardasil (the HPV vaccine) was approved and people wouldn't vaccinate their daughters because they thought it would promote promiscuity? That was a fun time. I never really understood this line of reasoning.
Apparently if a 10-year-old girl is given a vaccine that would help prevent cancer someone down the road, she will go out and have sex because there are no more worries! Not pregnancy, not STIs. The only worry that girls and teenagers have about sex is getting HPV. I don't mean to belittle the seriousness of HPV, but there are other risks to having sex than just HPV.
I got the Gardasil vaccine just this past year, but I know that if it had been around when I was younger, my mom would have had me vaccinated. Not because she thought I should have sex (she would have been supportive of that decision though...I think), but because she would want me to be protected against contracting HPV down the road.
At least from what I've been aware of, the drama over the Gardasil vaccine has calmed down. Now, the FDA is going to consider whether Gardasil should be approved for boys and young men. When I learned this, it made me wonder, would there have been such an uproar about it originally if Gardasil had been approved for boys as well.
As many of us know too well, boys (not all boys, but this is prevalent throughout society) are encouraged from a young age to view sex as a "conquest" and male teenagers and young men are seen as "studs", "playboys", etc. for sleeping with many women. Where as girls are encourage to "save" their virginity and purity for that special someone. These differing views of sexuality for boys and girls play right into the rigid gender norms of society.
So if Gardasil was approved for boys from the beginning, would it have been seen as promoting sex at a young age and promiscuity. Sadly, I don't think that it would have been seen that way.
Ashely at Small Strokes asked me to write a guest post for her series on teaching feminism in schools. I decided to expand off of my previous post about silencing feminists in a school setting. Make sure you check out Ashely's series, there is some great stuff going on over there! Here is what I wrote for the series:
One thing that I have been thinking a lot about lately is silencing. So when Ashley asked me to write a guest post for her teaching feminism in schools series, I thought I would write about the effect silencing has in a school setting.
Just one thing to remember: this is coming from the perspective of a student, not a teacher.
Feminism and women's studies were not taught in my high school. We'd have a unit on women's history, a unit on books written by women, etc. But those were usually some of the shortest units of the class and nothing was incorporated into the rest of the class. It just seemed like something the teachers wanted to get through because they had to, not something they were actually interested in.
The high school that I went to was overwhelmingly white, upper middle class, conservative, and Christian. I fit the mold in kin of two of these demographics. I'm white and middle class -- but by the standards of my fellow classmates, I was on the lower middle class end of the spectrum, though not by society's standards. I am not, however, conservative or that religious.
When I was in high school I definitely had feminist values, because that was the way that I was raised, but I don't remember ever calling myself a feminist during that time. I think a lot of this had to do with my high school atmosphere and the people that I associate with. While the teachers claimed that the classroom was a "safe environment," it wasn't really true. Having an opinion that was different (and sometimes radically different) than most of the other people in the class was not an easy thing and the teachers didn't really do a whole lot to encourage any type of discussion about it.
I really shouldn't blame the teachers entirely. In high school, I wasn't really the kind of person that raised their hand a lot. It wasn't cool to be smart and it definitely wasn't cool to have differing opinions. I didn't really fit in anyway, but I was too shy to actually say anything in class. But I often wonder if my voice was encouraged to be heard more often, if I would have been more willing to share it. But there's really no way of knowing.
Teaching feminism and women's studies in high school comes with a lot of responsibility. I think it is a great idea and necessary to the development of well-rounded students that feminism and women's studies be taught in middle school and high school. But where the responsibility comes in is making sure that you are discussing these topics in a truly safe environment for the students. It shouldn't be about "preaching" your values as a teacher but about fostering discussion about these important issues.
Students who voice differing opinions are often silenced in a classroom setting, not only by fellow students out of peer pressure, but also sometimes from teachers. While teaching feminism and women's studies, it is also important to teach about respect and practice respect yourself. It's important to encourage all opinions, even anti-feminist ones if they are made in a respectful manner. Silencing opinions of students, whether you agree with them or not, is not what is going to build confident students who are ready for the "real world." High schooler can be cruel, but when the silencing comes from teachers, I think it might be even more damaging.
The incorporation of feminism and women's studies into the curriculum has to be done in a way that avoids silencing. I don't really have any concrete ways of going about doing this because I am not familiar with teaching techniques. All I can say is try to be respectful and encourage respect in your students. Teaching feminism and women's studies should be about fostering discussion and bringing awareness to feminist issues, not only in the lives of students but in society as well. Silencing students who are respectful in their opinions is not the way to go about doing this.
Yes, American Girl dolls are still around. But they've changed. Here I am talking about the original American Girl dolls, the one that promoted women's history. A post at Small Strokes reminded me of how much I loved the American Girl dolls growing up:
Remember when there were only a few of them before they were a multi-million dollar national company? Those dolls were so popular among girls because they had their own historical timeline, and the timeline that was taught in schools was just a backdrop to each doll’s stories.For me, part of feminism is promoting the history of people who are not normally seen in the history books, especially the history of women. I definitely see the American Girl dolls as a part of feminist history, because they had sadly moved away from promoting women's history to profiting off "modern" dolls (For the purposes of this post, I will be discussing American Girl dolls before the introduction American Girl Today).
When I was growing up, I had the American Girl Samantha (and I was shocked to discover that Samantha is no longer made!). Samantha was an orphan girl growing up in 1904 (she was the Victorian era doll) by her wealthy grandmother in New York. She befriends the "poor servant girl," Nellie and is eventually adopted, along with Nellie and Nellie's sisters, by her aunt and uncle. Samantha's books included themes of women's suffrage, child labor, and classism.
Back when I was playing with American Girl dolls (in the early - mid 90s), the dolls that were made were Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly; Addy was just being introduced; and towards the end of my time playing with them, the American Girl Today line was starting (I remember getting one from this line that looked like me). American Girl was focused on bringing the history of these girls to "life," so to speak.
As Ashley from Small Strokes said in the quote above, the American Girl dolls because the highlighted a feminist timeline for girls that only had the mainstream historical timeline as a backdrop. Incorporating women's history into the mainstream historical timeline (as the American Girl dolls tried to do) is important in fighting the erasure of women. If young girls can't look back in history and see someone that resembled themselves, they might not feel as if they have a place in society or that society does not value them as much. For dolls and books that were targeted towards young girls, American Girl took on some very important issues, such as classism, women's suffrage (both in the case of Samantha) as well as slavery, racism, and war.
The American Girls dolls were an important part of my childhood. But they were definitely not perfect. For one thing, the American Girls dolls were definitely a sign of status. As the American Girl dolls have grown, there has been an increase in diversity. I'm not familiar with the newer dolls, so I'm not sure how issues of racism, classism, etc. are handle in these doll's stories. I do like that they are trying to provide a role model for girls of diverse backgrounds. But the dolls are not readily available to young girls of all backgrounds because of various constraints, including price. The American Girl dolls are expensive, especially once you get all the clothes, accessories, and books that go with your American Girl. I loved Samantha and I wouldn't have given her up. But I think that it is also important to integrate non-mainstream historical timelines into children's lives. While dolls were a great way to do this for me and many other children, it wasn't for others.
Incorporating women's history into childhood development is very important to raising awareness about the erasure and oppression of women. I think that the American Girl dolls do a good job at this for the age range that they are marketed towards. The books tackle issues that children's books do not always handle because of the seriousness of the issues, which I think is great. Exposing children to these issues at a young age encourages the fighting of oppression at later ages. The American Girl dolls of my childhood (pre-American Girl Today) brought women's history to the forefront for children and encouraged children to think about important issues.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The 5 Ways Glamour Undermines Its Size-12 Self-Acceptance Message [Glossed Over]
All of the uproar over Glamour's size 12 model didn't quite sit well with me and didn't really know why, but Wendy has explained my uneasiness about it very well.
Bros before Hos: A Post Ted Kennedy Story [Recursive Paradox]
After Sen. Ted Kennedy's death, everybody was quick to praise his contributions to women's rights. But Recursive Paradox pointed out a not very well-known story about Ted Kennedy that should also be remembered!
Will Kate Gosselin EVER get a date? [Salon Broadsheet]
How the media has been portraying Kate Gosselin as lonely.
The Feminist Lens: The Yellow Wallpaper [Small Strokes]
A look at how to teach a feminist text in a high school setting. And make sure you check out her Teaching Feminism in Schools series.
Campaigning for What, Exactly? [this ain't livin']
A critical look at Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty.
Are Animals and Humans the Same? [Womanist Musings]
PeTA's advertising techniques and how black people are often portrayed as animals.
A tweet from @TheUndomestic brought this iPhone application to my attention. At first, I thought it was a joke, but no, it's real and can be purchased.
What is this iPhone app that I speak of? It's the Girlfriend Keeper App! Because men forget birthdays and woman can be programed (in the words of TheUndomestic).
I started reading the description of the app and I seriously did think it was a joke, until I found it in the iTunes App Store. With this app, you can set it up to send automated text messages or emails to your significant other at certain time intervals based on the seriousness of your relationship. You can even enter information such as anniversary dates, birthdays, and eye color. The text messages that this app randomly generates to send to your significant other are not the kind of things that I would want to be recieving. Here are some examples:
"I just drove by a brown barn and it reminded me of your eyes."I don't know if having your eyes compared to a barn is something that is romantic. And I find it kind of creepy that it sends text messages that are "it is ___ days until your birthay." That sounds kind of stalker-like (unless your birthday is only a couple days away).
"It is 268 days until your birthday..."
But don't worry, you'll never be caught off guard when your significant other brings up an automated text message...there is a history function so that you can review all of the messages that you have sent.
Let's get to some of the reviews of this app:
"My first three wives divorced me because I always forgot anniversaries. I am pretty sure my fourth marriage will work thanks to the Girlfriend app?" Mark, 22Wow, sounds like some great guys that are using this app.
"Great app but change that icon. For us married types the wife is going to flip when she see's that. Make it look like an excel spreadsheet and label it GFK."
This app is not only offensive to women -- thinking of women as "programmable" and appreciating of stalker-like text messages -- but is also offensive to men. Men are obviously not capable of a "real" relationship where he actually cares for his significant other and wants to be involved in that person's life. Men are obviously not capable of remembering a birthday or the color of someone's eyes. They need an application to help them.
As I have been thinking about which artists and songs to highlight on Sing-A-Long Saturday, I have become more aware of the majority of the music that I listen to is performed by white males. Why is this? I believe in supporting female artists and artists of color, especially female artists and artists of color that are outside of the mainstream. But when it comes down to it, I choose white male singers/bands.
When looking at my "favorite music" section on my Facebook page, I have come to realize that 73% of those listed are all male bands or male singers, only 1 is a person of color, and only 18% were female singers...I did not have any all female bands listed.
Maybe I'm just attracted to the male voice -- I do like when guys have a good singing voice -- and that's why a majority of my favorite music is performed by white men. Or maybe it's that there are more white male singers/bands out there in most genres. Or maybe it's that society has told us that white male performers are more worthy of our time.
Some of the female singers/bands that I do like (for bands, I am including bands that are at least half female) are:
- Regina Spektor
- She & Him
- Ingrid Michaelson
- Dar Williams
- KT Tunstall
Does anyone have any recommendations of female singers/bands? I am interested in expanding my horizons and supporting female artists.
Why is most of the music I listen to written/performed by straight white males? [Pieces of String]
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
As some of you may know, I like trashy television -- especially trashy teen television. I have talked about the show 10 Things I Hate About You before in relation to how feminists are silenced in high school. So, I was watching 10 Things I Hate About You last night and wasn't very pleased with what I saw.
I love the character of Kat. She's a feminist who isn't afraid to speak her mind. But, as gnatalby at Booze.Tv.Food. points out, Kat has been getting the "ugly makeover." The actress who plays Kat is obviously a very beautiful young woman. But she's been made to look not ugly but as if she doesn't care about her looks.
First of all, I don't really there is such a thing as not caring about what you look like. Even if you try to put off that image, you care that you are putting off that image. But there's nothing wrong with not partaking in patriarchal and societal standards of beauty. But in last night's episode, Kat gets a makeover from her sister before the dance. While there's nothing wrong with wanting to look nice for the dance, I found some things about this plot line kind of troubling.
For the most part, this is the main thing that I had a problem with: when Bianca, her sister, is applying makeup on Kat, she starts complaining about why women would do this, that it is just a patriarchal standard of beauty. But she obviously wears makeup all the time on the show.
It's not so much that she wears makeup all the time and then complains about it, it's the reinforcement that feminists are ugly or hate making themselves look good that bothers me. By having Kat go from not conforming to societal standards of beauty to having this makeover to make her "pretty" just reinforces the idea that feminists are not attractive. Yes, Kat before the makeover was beautiful. But Bianca didn't see it that way. Bianca sees her sister as someone who doesn't care how she looks so she took it upon herself to pretty-up her sister...for the benefit of her date.
Probably not the biggest deal. But I've been very interested in how 10 Things I Hate About You is portraying their feminist heroine. By portraying her as someone in need of a makeover shows that her feminist values (and therefore the teens who watch this show will see feminist values as this) lie in not in presentation of self. While I don't think that you have to be preoccupied with your self-presentation, I think that everyone partakes in it. And by portraying feminists as "not pretty," it is just perpetuating stereotypes of feminists.