I’m Just Not Impressed

Am I supposed to be?

Posts Tagged ‘gender construction

Why “Just Don’t Buy It” Just Doesn’t Work

with 6 comments

At least once in pretty much any discussion about patronizing idiot-chic tee shirts, uber sexy Halloween costumes, or itty-bity sexpot bikinis for 2 year olds, at least one person will take the time to comment “If you don’t like it, just don’t buy it.” It’s one of many phrases that could (and does!) fill an anti-sexualization/anti-stereotyped gender roles bingo card (along with comments about pedophiles and gender neutrality making kids homosexual). And on one level, it’s a reasonable assertion – if we don’t like a particular consumer product, rarely, if ever, are we forced to spend our hard earned money on that product.

But it’s also extremely short sighted.

As Melissa, at Pigtail Pals has eloquently stated, it’s not about the t-shirt, or the costume or the bikini or the miniskirt or whatever. It’s not about crushing our tween’s budding sexuality or prudishness. It’s about recognizing that the singular product(s) that garner media attention are but a drop in an ocean of sexualization and negative stereotyping of our children that masquerades as “positive” sassiness. It’s about recognizing that children who are bombarded with image after image of boys being active and girls having tea parties and dressing up as princesses start to see these roles as their rightful place in the world.

Do I think that I, as a lawyer and a feminist and an active, powerful woman am the strongest role model my children have for what a woman can be? Absolutely. And I’m thankful every day that my kids have fabulous women and men in their lives who provide them with terriffic support and examples.

But I don’t think for one minute that these are enough. Because we do not live in a bubble. My kids see supposedly “educational” programming that relegates women to cute supporting roles. They see toys in the toy aisle that encourage little girls to project an image of adult women dressed for a night at a dance club. These images are so pervasive that kids only see the “novelty” in each doll – hey, that one looks like a werewolf instead of a fairy instead of a mermaid instead of a doctor wearing clothing that is completely impractical for practicing medicine (ever try to rush around a hospital and stand performing surgery in stiletto sandals? Yeah, me neither). They see images of boys rejecting anything “feminine” and being told to be a “real man”.

And even if I could raise my kids in a bubble of non-sexualized, non-stereotyped messages until the age of 18, I wouldn’t want to. My job as a parent is to teach my children to successfully navigate the world as it is, not a magical land where no little girl feels like she needs to dress as a sexy witch for Halloween or no little boy is ashamed of liking pink toenail polish, much as I may wish that were actually our culture. And my job as a human being is to want something better for all little kids – not just those with parents who see this stuff, but those who don’t. The kids of parents who see nothing wrong with a t-shirt proclaiming that their daughter is too pretty to do homework may be my daughter’s daycare classmate, or my son’s date for the prom. All kids deserve better, not just mine.

So sure, I won’t buy the t-shirt or the costume or the bikini. And, of course, other people who think it’s harmless can continue to do so. But I will sure as hell try to change their minds.

Written by emandink

October 14, 2011 at 11:52 am

Real pain is being a woman…

leave a comment »

…not, you know, actual inflicted violence.

Been a while since I’ve written anything, but I stumbled upon this while perusing Andrew Sullivan’s “The Daily Dish” and I just can’t let it go.

Now, first I think it is wonderful and admirable that Britain’s National Centre for Domestic Violence is making an issue of domestic violence against men. And I understand that they are trying to get at the very real issue of men fearing being “viewed as less of a man” for admitting to being a victim (the implication is .

But is it really necessary to show a male victim of domestic violence as being made into a woman (or read alternatively, being completely un-sexed)? Not only does the accompanying image completely reinforces the very concepts of masculinity that the ad purports to be trying to counter by portraying  being a woman or woman-like as bad or inferior and something to be considered  shaming, but it is also completely cis-centric, ignoring the very real problem of domestic and other violence against transfolk of any identification.

Written by emandink

April 1, 2010 at 9:05 am

About #amazonfail and ableism

with 5 comments

It’s not just LGBTQ and feminist related materials. Disability and sex related materialshave also been de-ranked, it seems. 

Can’t say I’m surprised, to be honest. Some of the worst street harassment I ever encountered related to sexuality was when I was dating a male wheelchair user in college. It didn’t help that we were both visibly freaky and arguably genderbending to a degree. But openly sexual and visibly disabled people are threatening. A man in a wheelchair with an obvious girlfriend is a threat to the widespread infantalism of people with disabilities. It is a threat to the idea that appearance and visible ability is valued. The idea that a chick with big tits might be interested in a guy who can’t walk is a threat to patriarchy (I mean, can he even, like, have, you know, sex?). Likewise, the idea that an able-bodied man might be interested in a woman who is “deformed” and imperfect. If we can accept people regardless of their perceived (and easily perceivable) “flaws”, then maybe we have to accept fat people and non-white people and others that don’t fit the societal ideal of beauty and mateability.

And heavens forfend that a person with a disability dare to express any sort of non-heterosexual non-vanilla sexual desires. Even if American society can wrap it’s little brain around the idea of a nice hetero relationship involving some sort of tragic heroic sacrifice on the part of the able-bodied partner, anything beyond that is cause for collective panic.

So, yeah. Count me among the not surprised that a search for sex and disability on Amazon turns up more results about developmental disability in sex offenders than it does guides to help people with disabilities have sex lives.

Written by emandink

April 13, 2009 at 10:24 am

Syllogism* for the day.

leave a comment »

1. Children are taught how to read media, including what characters to relate to and what they are supposed to enjoy.

2. Media perpetuates the notion that boys don’t want to/cannot relate to girl characters.

3. Therefore, boys are never taught to relate to girl characters.

Girls, otoh, are expected to learn how to relate to boys/men as the default – we are taught from early on that we can/should be able to relate to boy characters. Even in stories that are carefully structured to have both boys and girls (and therefore appeal across the board) and where the girls are “strong” characters (i.e., they are more than just a blank stereotype), the boys are still the leaders. In the Magic Treehouse books, the third person narration is focused on Jack’s POV and internal thoughts and how he relates to Annie. Harry Potter may need Hermione’s brains, but he’s still the lead. Diego needed to balance out Dora, because heavens forfend three and four year old boys like a “girls show”. Even such basic toys as blocks and legos default as “boy” toys. Again – heaven’s forfend something be gender neutral.

I could go on about this forever, but it stuck in my craw this morning. General purpose, “gender neutral” narration is almost always male directed. Even when it involves men harming killing women (or their children or themselves), men still get to determine the narrative.

*Perhaps not strictly speaking a syllogism (If A, then C. B is A. Therefore B is C), but work with me here.

Written by emandink

April 9, 2009 at 9:14 am

Posted in Feminism, Law

Tagged with , ,