Posts Tagged ‘ women ’

When Empowering Young Girls, Actions Speak Louder Than T-Shirts

“Girl Power” isn’t some new concept—just ask the Spice Girls. But it’s certainly gained new momentum since the 2016 presidential election, as Hillary Clinton’s shocking loss to Donald Trump stunned the nation. In an era where unqualified misogynists can still gain the upper hand, it’s become increasingly important to teach young girls to go high even when “the man” tries to drag them low.

Yet, while our overall efforts are commendable, we need to take things to the next level. We need to stop talking and start doing.

Source: The Children’s Place

Recently, The Children’s Place made an admirable attempt to bring girl power to the elementary set with an empowering line of feminist tees and tanks. Each piece features words and images that aim to bridge the otherwise glittery gender gap. They encourage girls to pursue male-dominated professions and forge their own path to success. Much like the inspirational quotes that litter Instagram, however, reciting such mantras and living their truth are two entirely different animals.

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What If I Don’t Want to Be a Woman Anymore?

Does anyone else remember the F.A.O. Schwarz Friendship Tree? He’d always say, “Thanks for coming to play with me!” (I’ve tried to Google the rest of his spiel on numerous occasions, but I just can’t seem to fill in the blanks.)

However, I do recall how he’d entice children with claims that there were “things to touch and feel and more.” Yet, for any woman suffering through this election cycle, that seemingly innocent invitation from an old mechanical centerpiece may cause an involuntary twitch. In fact, it sounds vaguely familiar…

Oh, that’s right. It sounds like “locker room talk.” You know, something that might’ve come straight from the 2016 Republican presidential nominee’s mouth.

Women! We’re nothing more than objects for men to grope and fondle.

After all, he’s Donald J. Trump. He’s a star.

(Stars can do whatever they want.)

Welcome to his world of toys.

For women, the 2016 election truly marks both the best of times and worst of times. While Hillary Clinton promises to hold our collective hand and lead us on the path to progress, Trump wants to grab us all ‘by the p—y’ and drag us down the path to destruction. To harken back to First Lady Michelle Obama’s iconic speech at this year’s Democratic National Convention, Trump wants to pull us low, while Clinton strives to lift us high.

But, unfortunately, no matter which candidate leads the electoral majority, misogyny has already won the popular vote.

If Trump wins, men who wish to exploit his view on women will see this moment as their opportunity to justify any lewd and crude behaviors they’ve suppressed until now. If Clinton wins, every single move she makes will be analyzed and scrutinized until the end of time. (I’d say the end of her term, but we know any and all problems impacting our country will be attributed to her time in office for at least the next 50 years or so. At least.)

Despite the fact that her historic win would shatter the glass ceiling, women, in general, will be forced to wade through the shards that fall on Clinton’s behalf. All women will be held accountable for her actions because, while men exist and operate independently, women are often seen as one collective unit. Thus, her success will be our success. Her mistakes will be our mistakes. Her failures will be our failures.

confused-girl

Even if Hillary Clinton wins the election, we cannot write this off as some epic victory for women overall. This one battle will not end the war. In fact, it will likely fuel the fight. We like to pretend our country has moved beyond its humiliating past. Many honestly thought that electing our first black president would end racism, but we can clearly see that race relations are as volatile as ever. Many believe that electing the first female president will eliminate sexism and misogyny, too, but this agonizing campaign indicates otherwise. We’ve peeled back the bandage and exposed wounds that haven’t healed. Based on Trump’s rhetoric alone, it’s hard to imagine they ever will.

Like Full Frontal host Samantha Bee—notorious breaker of glass ceilings herself—recently said, Clinton’s presidency would unleash a ‘tsunami of misogyny’ upon the American people. Still, Clinton has yet to win, and we’re already drowning in vitriolic sentiment. We’re about to reach the breaking point even though we haven’t yet approached the starting line.

Well, what if I don’t want to be a woman anymore? What if I’d prefer to live as some androgynous being who’s respected for their brain, not judged by their genitals? What if I want to shirk the assumption that I’m some plaything created for men’s visual and physical pleasure, nothing more?

Over the last year—the past few months, particularly—we have been forced to call into question not only how people perceive us, but also how we perceive ourselves. It’s both disconcerting and discouraging, exasperating and exhausting. We bear the daunting and perpetual burden of trying to prove our power and our worth time and time again.

But if we don’t, who will?

It’s tempting to throw in the towel. The hatred and oppression emanating from Trump’s followers alone could inspire any woman to crawl under their blanket and remain hidden for the next decade. But if we refuse to embrace our womanhood and fight for equality, we will never gain the respect we deserve. We must carry on the legacy of those women before us—those whose sacrifices brought us to where we are today. We owe it to past, present, and future women in our country and across the world to continue this fight, as misogyny will not cease without effort. Sexism will likely exist in some form for lifetimes to come, but we have the opportunity to be the generation that makes great strides toward gender equality once and for all.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

 

 

How About We Build That Border Wall Around Donald Trump Instead?

sticker375x360-u4For the last year, Donald J. Trump has used his platform to both humiliate and denigrate Mexicans and those of Latino heritage. He’s called them “murderers” and “rapists” in his attempt to gain support for the border wall he hopes to build if elected president. But, after the whirlwind reveal of his supposed “locker room talk” last month, all eyes are on the culture of abuse right here at home.

Before The Washington Post unleashed Trump’s 2005 Access Hollywood recording, it was already hard to deny the Republican nominee’s lack of respect for women. From Alicia Machado to Rosie O’Donnell, his prior verbal attacks were far less than presidential. Yet, once the video was made public, it became impossible for even his most staunch supporters to refute his lack of respect for both the mental and physical well being of women across the spectrum. His exchange with Billy Bush exposed his inclination to sexually assault any woman he deemed physically attractive—those most likely deemed “9” or “10” on his notorious rating scale—by instinctively kissing them or grabbing them “by the p—y.”

Since the reveal, Trump has repeatedly claimed that his remarks were nothing more than typical banter one would expect from the average male. But it’s in this justification that society must recognize that the overall normalization of objectification and abuse has permeated the surface layer of our culture, deeply rooting itself in our collective conscience and threatening to poison the mindset of our youth. If Donald Trump were to take office, the young boys and girls of this country would pay the ultimate price.

In recent months, we’ve seen numerous accounts of alleged sexual assault and rape that led to trials, but no convictions. As with the Brock Turner rape case, it appears that judges prefer to put the future of the man ahead of the well being of the woman, resulting in nothing more than a metaphorical slap on the wrist. Such cases perpetuate the idea that, even when caught, men will face little to no repercussions for their actions, thereby confirming that they can help themselves to any woman’s body if they so choose.img_8781-768x491

We are essentially teaching children that such actions are not only normal, but also accepted. Each time another alleged rapist or attacker evades jail, we are teaching boys that their actions will have few consequences. Each time we send another girl home from school for “inappropriate” attire, we are teaching the next generation that women must be on guard at all times because men cannot control their sexual urges. And if we elect Donald Trump, we will teach the boys of this nation that they can abuse women for decades and still hold the highest, most respected office in the world. We cannot allow this to become reality and we cannot allow these young boys and girls to grow up in an atmosphere that only widens the gender gap even further.

As it stands, even Trump’s attempt to deflect his controversies by focusing on Bill Clinton’s indiscretions further perpetuates the concept that women are responsible for men’s actions. Remember: Bill Clinton isn’t running for president, yet Hillary Clinton continues to face persecution for his sins. He’s not on the ballot and she should not be put on trial for his past actions. After all, Melania Trump hasn’t been forced to answer for her husband’s lewd behaviors.

Should we be happy that the Republican nominee for president continues to try and justify his remarks?

Of course not.

Should we be grateful that this tape has sparked a national discussion about how society treats women?

Absolutely.

Beyond all else, we need men to support our fight for gender equality, not rally against our efforts. Much like Emma Watson’s “HeForShe” initiative, we need the men and boys in our lives to be advocates for change. We need them to view women and girls as dignified human beings, not objects of visual and physical pleasure. We need to counter the damage Trump’s harmful rhetoric has caused by turning his atrocious behavior into an example of what not to do.

We have an exceptional, teachable moment on our hands and we have an obligation to further establish the sort of future we’d always envisioned for the children of our world.

Like First Lady Michelle Obama once said, “When they go low, we go high.” Let’s continue on the path toward creating a world that encourages every child to reach for the stars, instead of electing someone that thrives on fear and oppression, for his term will surely cause a negative ripple effect for generations to come.

 

(Images via Redbubble and Democratic Underground)

Will We Ever Close the Gender Pay Gap?

openingremarks26__01a__630x420By 2020, the U.S. Treasury expects to replace Alexander Hamilton’s spot on the $10 bill with the face of an unidentified woman. But, as The Daily Show correspondent, Jessica Williams, highlighted during an episode of the Comedy Central news program, this gesture seems like an ineffective, and relatively pathetic, attempt to appease female critics. “Honestly, at the end of the day, I don’t [care] about who’s on the bill. What I do care about is getting an equal share of the bill. I’d rather have 10 full Hamilton dollars than $8.45 of lady bucks,” Williams noted.

But, as most understand, equal signs and dollar signs rarely align when it comes to median annual income across the country. According to one recent report by the American Association of University Women, the gender wage gap has made some strides over the last 40 years. In 1973, women made 57 cents for every man’s dollar, but as of 2013, women now make 78 cents for every man’s dollar.

While these figures illustrate significant progress, there’s still much to be done. As of 2013, male median income averaged $50,033 per year, while women earned only $39,157 per year. Younger women, ages 20-24, currently earn an average 90 cents for every man’s dollar, which also signals potential progress, but by age 35, median income growth slows considerably for female employees, as they earn only 75-80 cents for every man’s dollar until they reach retirement. Many cite educational and experiential differences as primary drivers behind such disparities, but even when both factors are comparable, the gap still persists. For women of color, these disparities are even worse.

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“Real” Talk: Why Aerie’s Latest Campaign Lacks Sincerity

aerieThough “retouched” images continue to plague newsstands and online publications across the globe, one can no longer peruse the pages of their favorite magazines and catalogs without the keen sense that something just isn’t right. We are all increasingly aware of the fact that Photoshop now allows photographers to smooth out imperfections, enabling them to remove wrinkles from both clothing and skin, yet its undeniable presence across all media outlets has left many desensitized to the damage such alterations may inflict upon our psyches and our youth.

However, as more women start to speak out about the pressure to look “picture perfect” despite these digitized standards of beauty, we are beginning to see a resurgence of “real” photographs that demonstrate the true beauty of the female form.

In what appears to be a blatant attempt to increase brand awareness and attract new customers, Aerie, the underwear, loungewear, and fitness wear extension of American Eagle Outfitters, decided to embrace the issue by creating a new campaign that touts the company’s refusal to Photoshop any of its models. Referred to as #aerieREAL on a recent direct mail piece, the campaign features (supposedly) average women that have not been distorted in any way. Yet, while I want to appreciate the retailer’s attempt to shun the sleazy façade that fuels its competitors—namely Victoria’s Secret—the brand neglected to break down its own personal barriers and erase the stigma these images perpetuate.

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You see, while the moles and slight stomach dimples unmistakably reveal that the models remain au naturel, Aerie forgets to acknowledge that these “real” models are just that—models. They are all incredibly fit, with each exhibiting the same basic body shape and toned physique. All are impeccably groomed, as not a single one has a hair out of place (if you know where…ahem, what I mean). And all are most definitely taped into their bra. (Have you ever tried on one of Aerie’s bras? Or any stylish bra for that matter? Trust me, if your breasts are even remotely rotund, one will fall out the moment you roll over on your side.) Not a single one of these “real” models looks like the kind of young, impressionable girl you may find rummaging through the sale panties at the back of the store.

Honestly, it’s difficult to embrace a campaign that claims “the real you is sexy” when these models look like cookie cutter copies of one another. Aerie clearly wants to maintain a certain image, and that image will inevitably alienate those this campaign was intended to reach. None of these girls have stretch marks. None have belly fat that droops just over the band of their undies. None of them have rippled thighs or bumpy armpits. No, these girls were chosen for their practically flawless appearance and their willingness to be “retouched” through makeup and body wax.

But, then again, what more can one expect from a brand that must stow its double-D selection within the confines of its dressing room? Aerie may be trying to break ground with this newfangled notion its conjured, but the retailer has many miles to travel before it reaches the point of inclusion and representation for all female body types.

Learning in the Loo: The Line at the Ladies’ Room, Part Deux

Chivalry might be dead, and people hardly say “excuse me” anymore, but there are certain courtesies that should never disappear.

“Please” and “thank you” are staples, even if they’re increasingly more rare, and holding the door open for someone has always been a much-appreciated gesture.  Saying “I’m sorry” when you whack someone with your giant purse or shopping bag will never be inappropriate, and offering to grab something off the top shelf for the vertically challenged (myself included) will surely lighten someone’s load.

And always knock before entering, whether it be a room, or in this case, a bathroom stall.

Take a moment to recall my previous post and you will notice that those who design many women’s bathrooms fail to do so properly.  (Yes, most women’s restrooms are, indeed, crap – pun intended, of course.)  Not only are they impractical, but often highly dysfunctional.  Often times, the locks don’t line up with the doorframe, while, other times, the locks simply break, or people tear them off, rendering the stall completely useless once again.  (Perhaps maintenance and housekeeping shouldn’t solely focus on replacing the toilet paper?)

Unfortunately, when you combine faulty craftsmanship with the generally self-absorbed, oblivious woman that has become all too common, you cook up a recipe for disaster.  Surely there are a vast number of women who defy this annoying (but truthful) stereotype; they just don’t seem to ever use public restroom facilities.

Countless women enter the restroom and, without peering under to check for feet, or knocking to see if the stall is occupied, just try to shove their way into the stall.  While it’s highly unlikely that your door will open, there are those times when you cannot avoid the broken lock stall.  Sure, you have to awkwardly hold the door shut while you try to take care of your business, but sometimes it just can’t be helped.  Now, enter No-Knock Nellie, the kind of woman who barrels in without any regard for who may or may not already be in the restroom.  You hold the door with all your might, hoping she’ll pass you by, when suddenly the door get ripped from your hands (or smashes into you, depending on which way it opens) and you’re caught with your pants down.

Personally, I say go for it.  The other party will always be 10 times more embarrassed because, frankly, I have nothing to hide.  (It’s the ladies’ room – we’ve all got the same parts, or at least we better.)  It’s the principle of the incident that gets me riled up, especially when the offender has the audacity to get angry with you for getting angry with them.  They’re mostly just mad at their stupidity, so laugh it off.

And, when you’re dealing with single bathrooms that make it impossible for you to peek under the door for feet, knocking is the only solution.  Knocking allows any occupant to shout “just a minute” before you barge in and embarrass yourself and the lady on the loo.  You’d show such consideration in your home, so don’t disregard the public.

(Image courtesy of Tumblr.)

The Line at the Ladies’ Room

A photo exposé on exposing yourself.

Stereotypes creep into society’s psyche in dozens of ways.  Like rumors, we are never entirely sure how they come to be, but they spread like wildfire despite their validity (or lack thereof).  And while no one, not even women, can argue with the fact that the line at the ladies’ room always has been and always will be (except in extreme circumstances) longer than the line for the men’s room, the reasons may not be what men would assume.

Men tend to complain that women take forever in the restroom because they spend many wasted minutes primping their hair and reapplying their make-up.  But, if that were true, then how can one ever explain the line?  We are certainly not waiting half outside the door just for a space in front of the mirror.  And judging from the perspective of a woman who wears hardly any make-up and has the most low-maintenance haircut in history, I cannot explain why it would ever take me just as long to escape from the depths of germ central as those women slathered in face paint when I barely even cast a glance in the mirror as I exit.

No, gentleman.  Our narcissistic behaviors have no bearing on the lines.  Instead, we have no choice but to wait thanks to the general lack of restroom maintenance.  While men do not mind standing around with their business dangling for all to see, women prefer privacy.  It’s the craftsmanship of said stalls that keeps the ladies waiting for another.

Let’s take a little stroll through some of the most well-made public restrooms I’ve come across recently, shall we?

For our first example (above), we have a stall from Toys ‘R’ Us.  As you can see, the toilet paper dispenser hangs about two feet higher than the toilet.  While most adult women do not have gorilla arms, such design becomes even more laughable when you remember that this is a toy store – a place where children run amuck and occasionally need to use the bathroom.  Sure, a great deal of mothers would be right there to help their child through such a difficult time, but what’s the point of potty training if they still cannot go alone?  Luckily, someone was nice enough to leave a roll sitting on top of the sanitary napkin disposal for those who didn’t realize they weren’t Stretch Armstrong until after they sat down.

Our next example (above) will make you want to slap your forehead multiple times.  First, we see that the hook on this Panera Bread handicapped bathroom stall seems extremely high.  (If you cannot figure out my logic here, you are just as horrible as the genius who hung that hook in the first place.)  But once you turn to look at the toilet paper dispenser (below), you will realize that our mysterious handyman struck twice.

For those who don’t notice the distance before they go, reaching shall be quite the struggle.  And if you are indeed handicapped, such a struggle may very well leave you stuck.

The next, a stall in Best Buy (below), simply makes one wonder how anyone could possibly get in the stall and close the door.  You see, the door only opens until it collides with the toilet, but you cannot even squish to the side for the toilet paper dispenser is right there, big and in your way.  Even the smallest of women, (read: me), cannot squeeze in, leaving those even just slightly overweight to wait for the only handicapped stall.  (Helpful tip: put the toilet paper dispenser on the OTHER side of the toilet!)

And last, but certainly not least (because this is solely a sampling), we find the largest gap between stall walls one could probably find without forfeiting all privacy.  Located in Sears (below), you will notice that you can see my mother’s entire ear.  Unfortunately, that was also the only available stall because, as you can see in the upper right corner, the store used caution tape to block off the other stall.  And, if that gap doesn’t satisfy a Peeping Tom’s delight, there’s always the door’s lock to give you a sneak peek behind closed doors.

Disclaimer: To all the men that might be reading this, please do not get your panties in a twist.  I’m sure your bathrooms are nowhere near pristine condition, either.  However, I cannot gain access to the mens’ room (nor would I care to), so I cannot quite speak on your behalf.  My main goal is to simply draw some attention to the lack of thought that goes into designing many a ladies’ room and the repercussions of such shoddy work.  We do not like having an audience as we go about our business, and we’d like to keep it that way.  (Oh, and it’d be nice to reach the toilet paper and have somewhere to hang our purse, as well.)

Want more? Read ‘Learning in the Loo: The Line at the Ladies’ Room, Part Deux‘!

(Photos by Anna Papachristos.)

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