Charity is injurious unless it helps the recipient to become independent of it."
-John D. Rockerfeller
I was very torn on what to write about today. I love the quote I've placed above, but I also wanted to talk about the independent women and female issues. I think I will save my post about service and charity for the service post later down the line. Gender issues are a big passion of mine. Although I am a male and taught a male leadership course last year, I find that it is just as important (if not more important) to learn about women issues. Being in a male dominated society, it is important for men to realize that although some major female issues are being faced by women and guys can't fully understand some of these burdens, these issues are everyone's problems. With men having more power in today's society, men have the power to change things and make things as they should.
I would easily call myself a feminist.
A feminist is someone who supports the rights and equality of women. Over time, I feel like this word has received a negative image and is looked down by most people, but I also believe it is because people do not understand what it means. The other day, a friend of mine told me that I was a male and couldn't be a feminist. There has been a very incorrect statement of that word and as ignorance spreads, so does the an image of feminists simply being "crazy lesbian women who burn bras at rallies." Although these women can be feminists as well, the word also applies to people like me.
One of my final projects I did for my grad program was about women in the media. This was a group project, and I took it from the standpoint of women's role on the internet as well as their role from an early age growing up. The next time you are at Walmart, take a trip down the toy aisle and see if you can identify a "boy aisle" and a "girl aisle". I know in my current city, they are actually labeled with huge signs. The boy aisle will often have many colors and be filled with superheros, wrestlers and "macho" toys. The girl aisle on the other hand will be completely decorated in pink and have princesses and barbies. There are some companies that try to bridge the gap between these two genders. Nerf and Lego have come out with "girl versions" of their products, but what message does that convey? That girl's can't play with "guy toys" unless it is made especially for them? Why aren't there any "Barbies for boys" on the boy aisle? They may be hard to see if you aren't looking for them, but there are gender stereotypes and micro-aggressions based on gender issues everywhere.
Here's another challenge for you. Pull up every Disney princess ever made and then sort them based on their character development. Take into consideration possible hobbies they perform, the depth of the characters, if they are independent or have to rely on a guy saving them, and what they stand for. You will quickly realize the older Disney princesses are very two dimensional characters. Snow White and Aurora aren't even awake when their prince finds them. Even saying Aurora, I bet you still call her sleeping beauty right? Cinderella wants to go to a ball and the prince doesn't even remember her face and has to rely on her shoe size! In the middle you might find Belle, Ariel, Jasmine and Pocahontas. These girls begin to be a bit smarter, Belle has her books, Ariel is a collector and stands up for what she believes in, Jasmine straight up tells the boys that she is not a prize to be won, and Pocahontas is basically a humanitarian who ends up saving John Smith's life and not the other way around. In "newer" Disney, you find Mulan who saves her empire from an invasion, Tiana who owns her own business, Mirada who is skilled with a weapon and fights for her own choice on who to marry, Rapunzel who is very skilled in artwork and other hobbies and is also the one who saves Flynn. By looking at Brave as well as the most recent movie, Frozen, you see a gradual change from boy saving girl to the female relationship between mother and daughter (Brave) or sisters (Frozen). SPOILER ALERT: In fact the act of true love in Frozen is when Anna is able to sacrifice herself for her sister when originally everyone was thinking she just needed a true love's kiss. Over the course of time, Disney has been able to change with the times and have been able to make the female characters more strong and good role models for young women. With that being said, however, also notice almost all of them come from the same body shape and similar image, but that's another topic for another day. Goodnight all!
Question time: Are you a feminist?
About the video: As I mentioned above, part of the gender study I did was about women on the internet. I was able to sample the representation of women on the internet by looking at the top three searched websites, Google, Facebook, and YouTube. Although I can talk about what I found on Google and Facebook later, YouTube was a very interesting concept because the site is based off user content. With this being said, the most popular channels (most views) are run by men. There is a women of the internet survey that is released on YouTube every spring, and it survey's the online population to discuss the women's role in the internet and how that relates to the male role. Although there are some groups that really promote female content such as Wonderly or GoldieBlox, most users are saying that it is hard for women to be heard on the internet. It is harder for them to be funny because they are being judged by their image, and often if they bring up gender roles or feminist beliefs, they are ruled out. I can tell you right now that this post would be received very differently if it were written by a female (think of JK Rowling who put JK because she didn't think boys would want to read a book by a women). So in honor of funny, independent and smart women, I wanted to share a YouTuber (Brizzy Voices) who I think it hilarious and is very skilled in voice impressions. I have to work myself down from my Harry Potter high, but I couldn't resist using her HP impression video. Enjoy!