Add Frequency: Feminism!

I just want to make sure no one out there has missed Feminist Frequency.

(Banner logo: http://www.feministfrequency.com)

It’s a brilliant idea by Anita Sarkeesian, who is a feminist pop culture media critic, to look at and analyze the gender roles in pop culture. In thoroughly researched video clips she talks about everything from female stereotypes in Hollywood movies (see below) to the differences of the gender roles in the Hunger Games book vs the Hunger Games movies.

The video clip below is one of my favorites:

Girl Power in Afghanistan

I just wanted to share this amazing documentary from AlJazeera on Girl Power in Afghanistan. It’s only 25 minutes long, so please watch it!

It’s inspirational to see a new generation of women emerging from the long oppression of the Taliban and fighting against many a man’s disrespect of women.

It tells the story of a 15-year old girl who married off so that the family could pay off some debts. She then was basically tortured by her husband’s family. Nails were torn off. Bits of her flesh cut off with knives. Hair pulled out. And and and. Police found her barely alive and her case, unfortunately not exceptional, spread all around the world. Another key woman in this documentary is 19-year-old Afghani Noorjahan Akbar – a brave and smart girl who has set up a group called Young Women for Change. At one point she says: ” Why should I try to be a man? Why should I try to cover up everything that makes me a woman? Cover up my hair, cover up my sense of style, cover up the way I talk, cover up my voice? Shut up and not talk in front of men, just because I’m a woman?”

Well, without further ado, click on the link and watch it!

Afghanistan: Girl Power – People & Power – Al Jazeera English.

Anti-Feminist. But Pro-Equality. The new movement.

Update, 11/08/2012:

I have been brought to the attention that the FB group “White offended men” is in fact satire, and led by a feminist man, who just recently stepped forward as the creator and admin of the group. But the FB group is still important to highlight the fact, that more and more men are “offended” by feminism.

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The gender war never stops. First, there was feminism. To lift women’s status, to free them from patriarchism. Now, there’s masculinism. Every action has a reaction, and the relatively new Men’s Rights Activism movement is definately a reaction to feminism.

Men’s Rights Acitivism is a growing trend, especially in Sweden. It ditches feminism, calls it feminazi instead and is completely masculinist. But they still call themselves “equalitists”. A Swedish group on facebook, called “White offended men” (Vita kränkta män), say they’ve had enough of the male-discriminating feminism in Sweden. They feel that men are targetet, always being the root of all evil. That they’ve had enough of the misandry. Regularly posting comments on articles and blogs, they engage a community of more than 10,000 followers in their discourse. The tone is often ironic.

One of the white offended men’s idols is Pär Ström, a proud equalitist who has a blog on gender news: “The requirement that the sexes should have equal value means that there must be an end to the contempt against men, sometimes even misandry, which is widespread in Sweden today. There is for example talk about “the old man’s domination” and it is believed that these “old men” should get out of the way as quickly as possible. The equalitists require that both sexes are to be considered as positive.” (translated from Swedish)

But the Men’s Rights Activism doesn’t stop in Sweden. There is a new academic journal called “New Male Studies“. In their rationale you can read the following: “In response to a now well-documented decline in the overall well-being of males in postmodern culture, a group of Australian, Canadian, European and American scholars have gathered to work together to publish research essays, opinion pieces, and book reviews on all aspects of the male experience.”

Maybe you wouldn’t exactly call it “activism”, rather than a reaction to what hard-core feminism apparently can mean for some postmodern men. The New Male Studies has academic essays written by a range of different people. Even women. For example, you can read about how men are being portrayed in the mainstream media, written by Peter Allemano in “The Bold, Independent Woman of Today and the “Good” Men and Boys in Her Life: A Sampling of Mainstream Media Representations.” Many activists point out this particular problem: that women are allowed to publically offend and ridicule men, whilst it would be highly politically incorrect for men to do the reversed.

The movement stretches from facebook groups to campaigns, like the Movember campaign. Every November, campaigners grow their facial hair to highlight men’s diseases, like prostate cancer. They feel it’s not given as much attention as for example breast cancer.

The BBC recently wrote an article about men’s rights activism and about Tom Martin who sued the LSE’s gender studies department for sexism. Martin also thought that the unfairness started and was about sex: “Since the pill, women have been told they can and should be having orgasms. And because they haven’t been, they categorise that as men’s fault.”

I’m really looking forward to following this movement. Is it a real challenge to feminism? What do you think?

Graphic: http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/meet-the-mens-rights-movement/

Chickspotting


American playboy Joe Bovino
is coming out with his book “Field Guide to Chicks of the United States” this June. It’s similar to a bird watching book – but with women instead. Now, thanks to entertaining insights from someone who knows it all and has done it (them) all, every dude can set out in the wilderness and find themselves one of the 92 species of women. It’s a matter of either laughing or crying. Probably the first.”I’d read it to get a laugh,” says American student Steve, 25. “Because somethings are probably true, stereotypes come from somewhere. Maybe it will engender some kind of feminist revolt, which would be refreshing, since feminism is dead in the States.”

But Lindy West from online based women’s magazine Jezebel, seemed to have cried when the reading the press release (see further down). In her article she writes: “Bovino makes sure to let us ladies know that this book isn’t just for men—there’s a lot that women can learn from it too: “Single chicks can use this book to keep an eye on the competition and pick up valuable inside information.” Wow, thanks! Because if there’s one thing women need help with, it’s figuring out new ways to compare ourselves to other women.”

Either way, it seems this book will spur many debates when it hits the shelves this summer. The tone of the book seems to be sexist, but at the same time it appears to be taking a piss out of American stereotypes, which in effect could have positive impact on the feminist debate.

Here’s the press release:

“The “Field Guide to Chicks of the United States” is the must-have summer book as your readers hit the road this summer. The book will help you learn how to spot, identify, admire and appreciate American women all across the country.

Author Joe Bovino has identified 92 different “species” of women across the country. There’s Miss Texas, who is known for her big, blonde hair, large breasts, a natural tan and megawatt smile. She is frequently spotted in cowboy boots, short shorts and designer clothes and accessories. You’ll be able to spot her at a beauty salon, beauty pageant, country club or church. The Phillycat is a tiger on the outside and pussycat on the inside who cares mainly about family, friends and basic necessities. She’s likely spotted in a neighborhood bar, coffee shop or shopping mall. And on the West Coast, you are likely to encounter the Peace of Ass who is typically a personal trainer, psychologist or massage therapist. Her “song” is talking about inner peace, personal growth and meaningful relationships. Look for her in health food stores, yoga or Pilates studios, canyons, trails and spiritual centers. On the cover, you can see Afrodisiac, Country Biscuit and Taco Belle!

Bovino is giving his gift of Chickspotting to all mankind in this new book, which offers amusing insights into the most distinctive physical characteristics, vocalizations, behavioral tendencies and mating habits of American Chicks from regional and ethnic subculture (or species) across the country. Inside you will also find vivid illustrations of each Chick, color-coded range maps and other “Chick magnet” guidance.

Set up much like a bird guide, it sticks to the facts that Chickspotters can see out in the “wild.” Instead of identifying why women in America behave as they do or look a certain way – it examines what they do and how to spot them when they do it, all while admiring and appreciating them in their natural habitat.

As Bovino says – Birds are cute, but Chicks are better.

The “Field Guide to Chicks in the United States” will get men and women talking, and your readers will appreciate the facts that will surely help them improve their dating lives, and crack a smile while doing so.

The book is full of amazing full-color illustrations that you will have to see to believe. Men will want to see how many they recognize or can cross off their to-do list; and women will want to see if you can “spot” themselves in the book. Let me get a copy out to you to see for yourself, and I’d love to get your thoughts on the book’s concept. The book will be available for pre-order now at http://www.fieldguidetochicks.com and will be available this summer. Joe is available for interviews and the book is also available for give-a-ways.”

Pink is for Girls. Or is it?

Most expecting couples are expected to know their child’s gender and accordingly arrange the future kid’s colour scheme. Which mostly means: Pink for girls, and blue for boys. And ever since prenatal testing was made possible, the gender-stereotyped clothing of children boomed.

But it appears pink hasn’t always been on the girly side. Cracked.com recently posted a piece called “5 Gender Stereotypes that used to be the exact opposite“.

There you can find out about how pink and blue don’t seem to be biologically predestined preferences in boys and girls. Instead it seems like every sixty years or so, notions of what is masculine and feminine change.

Before World War I, girls and boys wore basically the same colours. But as it’s stated in a 1918 editorial from Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department,  it suddenly mattered. “There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color is more suitable for the boy; while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl,” the editorial reads.

So blue for girls and pink for boys. It wasn’t until the 1940’s when (American) retailers decided that pink was a bigger hit for girls.

Jo B. Paoletti, author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America, told the Smithsonian magazine it could have been the other way today. “The more you individualize clothing, the more you can sell,” she said. This is part of the first-wave feminists problem with pink. Paoletti also said that since it was an appointed colour for girls and femininity, the feminists often felt clothes were being used to push girls into their expected roles as women.

The colours Per Se don’t appear to be the problem. The problem arises instead when even babies have to fit in to a specific gender-stereotype. But according to Paoletti, as quoted on the Smithsonian Magazine, people are starting to move away from pink vs blue. “There is a growing demand for neutral clothing for babies and toddlers now, too.”

But many parents still think it’s important to dress their babies in either pink or blue. 34-year-old Janine knew she would have a boy, and immediately set out to buy clothes and decorate her son’s room. In blue. “Me and my partner both value traditions. And I don’t think that it’s harmful for boys and girls to be dressed in either pink or blue.” Janine thinks that if she were to dress her now 2-year-old son in pink or any other “girly” colour, people could get confused. “It’s hard to tell the gender of a baby. That’s why it’s so good to have two different colours. And our son won’t be confused either,” she says. While she doesn’t necessarily care about her sons future sexuality, she says there is a reason why society has chosen this colour codes. “Girls and boys mostly do like to play with different things. And if there are either manly toys or girly ones, in blue or pink, the differences between the two sexes and in effect sexualities becomes clearer. This also means it will probably be clearer for a child growing up to discover if he or she doesn’t fit in to the expected roles,” Janine claims. “Maybe blue was for girls before, but it’s not the colour that matters. It’s what it means.”

The Guy’s Guide to Feminism

What does Feminism have to with men? A lot. That’s exactly what male advocates for gender equality, Michael Kaufman and Michael Kimmel think, which is why they decided to write the book “The Guy’s Guide to Feminism”. It came out 2011 and had an immediate success. So successful that, according to rumors, Steven Spielberg might make a movie of it.

The book, written in proper A-Z guide-style, talks about everything from chivalry to porn, and much more. It’s written in an easy-to-read, fun language and breathes fresh air in the discourse of feminism.

Male readers can take fun quizzes about the term “feminazi” and discover if they have caught “feminism”, with symptoms like “one empirical observation (about the state of things), quickly followed by a moral position (about how things should be, based on that empirical observation).”

A Guy’s Guide to Feminism manages to write about a serious issue in a very light tone; teaching instead of preaching. So order this fantastic book and realize that feminism doesn’t exclude men (I’m a feminist and I love men!).

I had the pleasure of asking Michael Kaufman a couple of questions about the book and equality between men and women.

1. Communication is a key factor in every relationship. As a woman, you often get to hear that men are simple and that instead of nagging or being silent, you should simply communicate what you feel, since men are “that simple”. That sounds good in theory, but in practice, men are often still stuck in the old-fashioned, stereotyping thinking-pattern that women are “overreacting” or being “ridiculous”. Can we hope for equality in respecting opinion only in the next generation or how can this generation deal with this, to make women feel like their feelings are not emotional, but just as rational as men?
Michael: “We tend to exaggerate the differences between the sexes in relationships. Ideas (held by some people) that men are not sensitive are really quite demeaning (just as are ideas that women are not rational.) That much said, to some extent, most men have been raised to distrust our feelings: we’ve been humiliated by adults or peers for showing fear, pain, or even too much joy. So, no wonder many men have an underdeveloped language of emotions. . . Help, though, is on the way! We can create safe circumstances where boys and men are encouraged to explore our feelings and experiences. We can encourage couples to simply listen to what each other is feeling, even if they don’t agree.  When I’m speaking to groups of young men, I say that listening is the number one communications skill.”
2. If you would have to summarize the tips you give men in your book to one or two sentences, what would it be? (In other words: what is the main thing you are hoping men, and women, will learn from your book?)
Michael: “Feminism and gender equality are not only good for women, they promise to transform the lives of men for the better. Good men can embrace equality not out of guilt but out of love for the women and girls in our lives and out of a desire for a better life for ourselves and our sons as well.”
3. What have the reactions been so far, by men who have read it? Any eye-opening experiences?Michael: “The reactions to the book are way beyond what I hoped for. I thought we’d done a good job at making it both engaging and informative, but I didn’t know what a chord it would strike for so many people. That is very gratifying.”

You can follow Michael Kaufman on Twitter via @GenderEQ and check out the official webpage here.

For all the men out there: Show that you care, read this book and start embracing feminism rather than seeing it as a threat to your manhood!