This Is What A Real Woman Looks Like

Great video on “real women” by a group of students in California

Mother’s Day – The perfect opportunity for some extra stereotyping!!

This past weekend, I was perusing through the card section for Mother’s Day and settled on one that I found somewhat comical and entertaining. It was made up of a poem about things that mothers do. I like to buy these cards and embellish upon their little scenarios to personalize it for my own mother. Anyway, the poem went a little something like this…

Some moms like to cook and try new recipes,

Others like to order take out and watch DVD’s.

Some moms like to go to a spa or trendy club,

Others like to drink some win in the tub.

Some moms like to buy shoes from Paris or Milan,

Others wear whatever they can slip on.

Some moms like to email, blog, or twitter,

Others like to get away and hire a babysitter.

Some moms like to multitask, because there’s so much to do,

Some moms are spectacular, which brings us back to you!

Of course, every line was illustrated with a cartoon bear/dog mom (can’t be sure), doing these activities. As I was adding my personalized notations, I started paying attention to what I was reading and found myself so irritated. I consider myself to be a fairly educated and aware person when it comes to gender stereotypes in society. However, there I was, caught in the Great Mother’s Day Hallmark Trap! This trap confines mothers to activities such as drinking wine, shopping, and cooking. Oh, I can’t forget the multitasking mom, who can do laundry, vacuum, and talk on the phone at the same time! (Yes, this is what the bear/dog mom was doing).

I will not argue against or devalue any of these activities, or that moms may do them. However, I will not condone confining moms to boxes where they engage in these activities only. I can’t speak for everyone but my mother is a strong, independent woman who worked full time while raising three kids (very well, I might add) on her own. She fixes things in the house when they are broken, watches ESPN more than any man I know, goes to Home Depot on a shockingly regular basis, AND drinks beer. Gasp! Where is the card for a mom like mine?

If I had a choice, the poem would go more like this…

Some moms like to cook and try new recipes,

Others like to order take out and watch DVD’s.

Some moms like wine and spas,

Others think that’s a faux pas.

Some moms like sports and beer,

Others like shopping for shorts or camping gear.

Some moms like to multitask, because there’s never enough time,

Other moms pass and let their kids take on the bathroom grime.

Cleaning, cooking, sports or books,

Painting, dining, wine or fish hooks,

No matter what they like to do,

Moms are hard-working, loving, and dynamic,

Sounds a lot like you!

Forgive me-I never claimed to be a poet. But you get the idea.

Father’s Day is right around the corner. I challenge you to avoid getting tricked by the Great Father’s Day Hallmark Trap! Be aware and pay attention to the stereotypes and boxes that fathers will inevitably be placed in come June 17th. If I had to go out on a limb, I would guess a lot of sports, fishing, and tools! Because that’s all men could possibly be interested in.. Right?

Dr. Pepper – Now even your soda can be sexist!

Today this was all over the violence prevention listservs and chatter:

That’s right… this is a blatant use of rigid gender stereotypes.This soda is tough and rugged and therefore only suitable for men. I mean, come ON! The slogan is “Dr Pepper TEN, It’s NOT for Women!” Do we really need to go into it more?

Oh wait… we do:

Apparently, Dr. Pepper is all about the rigid gender roles and reinforcing these limiting stereotypes for both men and women. These commercials send very clear messages – men are active, strong and into manly things – like action films, explosions, motorcycles, etc… anything that is NOT girly. Women are then painted as sex objects specifically to look pretty and sensual.

We’ve identified a problem, now what can we do? Several things, actually. We can talk about the pitfalls and consequence of such messages. We can write letters/emails to Dr. Pepper, to media outlets, etc.  We can refuse to buy Dr. Pepper’s product. We can also use this as an opportunity to use our media literacy skills! What a great example to help others understand the effects of sexism and stereotypes, but also to understand how the media can shape and influence our value systems.

I challenge you to try this activity. We’ll call it the Dr. Pepper TEN challenge!

Watch the videos again (if you can handle it). While you do so, ask yourself these questions (from the Media Education Foundation):

– Who paid for the media? Why?

– Who is the target audience?

– What text, images or sounds lead you to this conclusion?

– What is the literal meaning of the message?

– What is the unstated or underlying message?

– What values are being presented or expressed?

– What story is not being told?

– Is this a healthy or unhealthy media message? Why?

Are you up to the challenge?

Flash Mob for Shelter House (NWFL)

One of our sister centers and fellow DELTA sites (DELTA is our main funding stream through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Shelter House, coordinated a flash mob at their local shopping center and theater just in time for the release of the final Twilight film. Needless to say, it was a big hit! Check out their hard work below.

Sexual Harassment in Grades 7-12

Monday, a study was released providing the prevalence of sexual harassment in our schools. The study was done on youth in grades 7-12 and demonstrated some rather startling results. You can read more on the study here. While this information isn’t anything new, it could be very useful for making the case that sexual harassment is an issue that needs to be addressed.

How can we as agents of change use this information to mobilize our schools and communities?

Inspiration Station

I know it’s a bit old (from 2007), but a colleague sent this out on the Prevention listserv. It’s wonderfully uplifting and inspirational. The entire basketball team and school show us what compassion and a culture of love and support can do.

Did ‘Family Guy’ go too far?

Last week, the hit FOX show, Family Guy, satirized a case of Domestic Violence. The show has come under very heavy criticism for taking it ‘too far’ (See ‘Showbiz Tonight’ Clip), and after watching half of the episode (I couldn’t really handle watching the entire thing), I would have to agree. While the writers of Family Guy have pushed the envelope on many issues and topics, flirting with that fine line between satire and profane, this time they not only perpetuated many myths about domestic violence (abusers are alcoholics, uneducated, jobless deadbeats and the victim is a stupid, weak person that enables such behavior or ‘likes it’), but they also fail to offer any real or useful tools for bystanders to intervene or offer support in a safe way.

The episode begins with Quagmire in the hospital. His sister, Brenda, and her abusive boyfriend, Jeff, go to see him. The verbal abuse and put downs begin immediately and the rest of the group simply looks on. Later in the show, the other characters try to offer support, but end up only victim blaming. The end solution is to kill Jeff (because abuse isn’t a learned behavior and people can’t unlearn the controlling behaviors – sarcasm). What was most disturbing to me was that through out the episode, Peter made jokes that not only continued to reinforce stereotypes and perpetuated myths, but were also abusive and derogatory towards the victim. While I know being upset and outraged will not accomplish anything, I still am. The advocate in me says there’s a teachable moment here, and an opportunity for a dialogue. But where to start?

When you see a piece of media that is particularly outrageous, how do you break it down? Where can we begin dissecting this web of opportunity?

Want more thoughts on the Family Guy episodes? Check out Opt4!

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