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Man-mercials May 13, 2007

Posted by ajaramillo in bodies, commercials, football, gender, general considerations, humor, ideology, imagery, NFL, objectification of men, relationships with men, sports, stereotypes.
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    We’ve been looking at many commercials that have strange twists on girl power and examining what they are projecting as the ideal women. But we have been completely ignoring the man-mercials out there! It seems like most of the new macho-resurgence commercials drill into our heads what a “man” is supposed to be… which can be pretty damaging to those men out there that do not live up to the image portrayed in the media. I’m putting up two of my favorites; Old Spice Manly Test, and a Full Throttle Energy Drink ad. Both of them suggest that real men have to do certain things, such as have hairy chests, “do recon work”, and drive monster trucks through suburbia.

These ridiculous expectations for what constitutes a man probably ensure that plenty of guys out there are taking a hit to their self-esteem. This is especially true because most of these commercials run during sports games, where athletes that are often the pinnacle of “male perfection” are on display in front of average joes. It is no small wonder why these manly ads run most often during the SuperBowl or other testosterone-fueled events; ad companies are relying on average, everyday men who feel threatened by the portrayal of perfect male specimens on their screen to look towards their products as a way of boosting their own manliness.

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cindy sheehan and the social vs. the political May 10, 2007

Posted by sindhub in 911, bill o'reilly, cindy sheehan, controversy, female politicos, Female Power, G W. Bush, gender, in the news, iraq war, jersey girls, jersey widows, morality, motherhood, nationalism, news stories, politics, Power, rush limbaugh, the state, wartime politics, women and war.
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I wanted to talk a little bit more about something I brought up in class today, about how women’s traditional gender roles in the U.S. involve upholding social and cultural mores, and possibly aiming to ‘better society,’ but never being explicitly political about it.  I realized after class what I meant by ‘explicitly political’: placing the blame on someone.  Politics is very much about finger-wagging, appeasing constituents, and placing the blame for something on somebody or something.  Traditionally, it’s been more socially approved for women to try to ease society’s ills, e.g. the temperance movements of the late nineteenth century.  Although women took on leadership roles in these organizations and argued in favor of women’s right to vote, their main focus was on maintaining the ‘traditional’ family structure (the Women’s Christian Temperance Union is strongly against same-sex marriage), not shaking up society.  However, and I think this has something to do with us living in the post-9/11 era, when a woman blames someone explicitly for breaking up the family (and not just alcohol), there can be a severe backlash.  Even flippantly critical comments like Natalie Maines’ can do that, but I think the best example in the current Bush presidency is Cindy Sheehan.

I’m sure you’ve heard of her; she’s the mother whose son died in the Iraq war, and became an anti-war protester, going so far as to camp outside President Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch for five weeks, insisting on speaking with him personally (which he never agreed to, though he did send top officials).  I remember when this happened in the summer of 2005, and it just being all over the news.  Surely a mother’s grief for her lost son is newsworthy.  But Sheehan’s story only took the vitriolic, polarizing turn that it did, dominating the nightly news for the summer, because she took her traditionally social role as a mother and used it politically.  Antiwar groups rallied against her because she was so beneficial to their cause, and Bush’s supporters criticized her for being ‘treasonous.’  Her critics didn’t question what she was saying–that the Iraq war wouldn’t make us any safer, and that she herself would fight to protect the country–rather, they questioned her. (more…)

man wins presidential election; world is shocked May 10, 2007

Posted by sindhub in 2007 french presidential election, careerwomen, class, female politicos, Female Power, female voters, feminism, france, gender, Girl Power, Hillary Clinton, in the news, International, jacques chirac, motherhood, new york times, news stories, nicolas sarkozy, politics, Power, segolene royal.
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As you may know, France’s presidential election took place recently.  In a runoff between rightist Nicolas Sarkozy and socialist Segolene Royal, Sarkozy was chosen to replace Jacques Chirac, 53 to 47 percent.  What’s relevant to ‘girl power’ is that Royal is a woman.  I found this article, “France’s female voters shun Segolene Royal,” which makes the situation sound pretty bad.  But the female vote for Royal wasn’t much different from the overall vote, with a 52 to 48 margin in favor of Sarkozy.  Although Royal focused part of her campaign on appealing specfically to female voters ‘as a mother’ and promising greater equality (only 12% of French lawmakers are female), apparently female voters thought she focused on it too much.  Some of the women interviewed say that they didn’t vote for Royal just because she’s a woman, because they didn’t think she was going to do anything for them or because she didn’t share the same vision for the country that they did.

There are two conflicting ways to look at the situation.  On one hand, isn’t this what we want, for women to be seen as individuals (as ‘human’) and not just as women?  But, do we really want that when it doesn’t work in their favor?  Especially when it might not be working in their favor because the political system is still biased against them?  And it seems that while Royal was criticized for showing too much identification with one demographic, that being women, she’s also criticized for (more…)

veil-burning in somalia May 10, 2007

Posted by sindhub in Ayesha Dharkar, bodies, deception, Ethics, fashion police, Female Power, female soldiers, gender, ideology, in the news, International, islam, modesty, morality, nationalism, news stories, politics, Power, somalia, the state, The Terrorist, wartime politics, women and war, women in the military.
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There have been news stories in the past two days about government soliders in Somalia, which is currently in a state of civil war with explosions taking place recently in capital Mogadishu, taking women’s veils (ones where only the eyes are uncovered) and burning them.  When I first heard about it, I thought it seemed like what happened in pre-1979 revolution Iran, when women weren’t allowed to dress in religious garb in an avowedly secular state ruled by a monarch, but it turns out that the recent veil-burning wasn’t government-sanctioned.  The soliders did it because they wanted to make sure that the women weren’t part of the ‘rebel’ Islamist movement, and hiding bombs or weapons under their veils.

I thought this situation was interesting in its similarity to The Terrorist.  Malli is valued within her organization because she’s a woman, which means that she is underestimated and seen in a de-politicized way, which will enable her to get past security checkpoints–while carrying the ammunition she needs in the basket on her head, and not firewood or whatever the soliders may assume it is, showing that it is precisely her femaleness that allows her to get by–and get close enough to the politician to assassinate him.  It seems that the Somali soliders were concerned that they were letting Muslim women who might pose a threat get by because of their female religious need/desire to cover themselves modestly, and decided to take action, for their own safety presumably.

Something else that comes to mind is how this fits women into nationalism.  (more…)

“Female Chauvinist Pigs: Girls gone wild” May 7, 2007

Posted by lindamc in "the gaze", bodies, Female Power, gender, in the news.
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This article from the NY Times discusses, although it is a year and a half old(published september 2005), Ariel Levy’s claims about what women these days are turning themselves into. I found this quote from the article particularly interesting and very much the focus of class discussion the past few weeks: “Our popular culture, she argues, has embraced a model of female sexuality that comes straight from pornography and strip clubs, in which the woman’s job is to excite and titillate – to perform for men. According to Levy, women have bought into this by altering their bodies surgically and cosmetically, and – more insidiously – by confusing sexual power with power, so that embracing this caricaturish form of sexuality becomes, in their minds, a perverse kind of feminism.” Levy goes on to discuss the rise of the number of Olympic athletes that pose for playboy, Paris Hilton, Girls Gone wild, and stereotypes of cartoon men and women. The woman who wrote this article: Jennifer Egan, believes that Levy shapes her examples to fit her theories, and argues that she drew from a small pool of women and girls. What do we think? Do we agree with Levy? Egan does in the end praise the book for posing a tough question: “Many women can buy their own plane tickets and pay their own rent. They can treat themselves. Why, then, do they persist in watching themselves through male eyes?”

Washington D.C. Madam May 4, 2007

Posted by Melissa in bad girls go..., careerwomen, controversy, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, gender, general considerations, in the news, new york times, news stories, politics, sex sells, sex trade, sexuality.
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I just read this article in the New York Times about Deborah Jeane Palfrey, a “suspected madam” running her business in Washington D.C. I’m not sure how I feel about this just yet, but I thought it was something important we should open up to discussion. More thoughts on this to come later…

Cheetah Girls- the new spice girls? May 4, 2007

Posted by Melissa in bodies, Cheetah Girls, Female Power, female relationships, feminism, gender, general considerations, Girl Power, marketing gender, Pussycat Dolls, Spice Girls, tween market.
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During a recent conversation with my little sister, she mentioned that her favorite music group at the moment was the Cheetah Girls. Intrigued, I looked them up online to discover that they were a disney creation, and hugely popular in the tween market. The group advocates sisterhood and girl power, much like the Spice Girls. What is noticeably different about this group however, is that this is the only group that advocates girl power being marketed toward the tween market that is age appropriate. (more…)

“One of the Guys” May 1, 2007

Posted by erinsull in cosmo, gender, relationships with men.
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Today in class we talked about the idea of “guys girls”. I don’t know if it is new to our generation but being “one of the guys” is a point of pride. I can’t tell you how many times in high school I heard a girl declare that she “just did not get along with other girls” so she would rather just hang out with guys. This did not diminish her social status at all, if anything she placed higher on the girl hierarchy. (On a side note I notice this phenomenon much less in college, but that may be an issue for another day). So what is so exciting about being “one of the guys”, what makes this girl so special? I looked around online and found this definition of the “One of the Guys Girl”: (more…)

Gender Equality in Israel May 1, 2007

Posted by Melissa in bodies, careerwomen, controversy, female executives, female politicos, female soldiers, G.I. Jane, gender, general considerations, Girl Power, in the news, Israel, nationalism, Spain.
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I found this article earlier today about the status of gender equality in Israel. I don’t find the statistics surprising, women have been paid (more…)

Alias and Humanizing People April 30, 2007

Posted by andyw in alias, Ethics, Female Power, feminism, gender, general considerations, jennifer garner, marketing gender, Power, The Human.
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I want to advocate that Jennifer Garner can be subversively read as a human being, and not as a female character.

lindamc made some good points about how the episodes purposely showed Garner as soft and feminine. She explains that there is a strange cycle (more…)