Thanks for Defining What it Means to Be a ‘Dude,’ Veet 0

By Christiana Paradis

dudeness Thanks for Defining What it Means to Be a ‘Dude,’ Veet

Oh geez I didn’t shave AGAIN last night? Well actually, if we’re being honest, I haven’t shaved all winter! I call it winter insulation. It helped keep me cozy and warm during the Polar Vortex! But apparently I’ve misunderstood what I’ve been doing; I thought I was doing what I wanted to, as a woman, but Veet has shown me the light. My decision to not shave my legs has exposed me to a whole other category, a category they’ve so cleverly named “dude.” As they’ve expressed in their commercial series the very act of not shaving makes you at risk for ‘dudeness;’ it is an act of warfare against your femininity. Though this idea has been resonated over and over again and shaving conglomerates have always tried to make women feel like their bodies were wrong if they didn’t shave, this new ad campaign sinks to an all-time low.

It implies that even the smallest amount of stubble turns you from a beautiful woman into a hairy man and that should offend you! First of all, what’s wrong with a little stubble…or a forest!? Secondly, what makes me less female for having Yosemite National Park on my legs or under my arms for that matter? Thirdly, why did you think this was funny, Veet? Hold on, I’ll answer that for you… you thought this series was funny because any time we make men appear “less manly” and more feminine it’s automatically hilarious! A man getting a pedicure? Hahahahah. Laughing for days on end. A guy in a dress who can’t get a cab because of armpit hair? Fantastic! Pure comic genius! Not only do you insult one day stubble, but you insult anyone who exists outside of specific gender stereotypes. Gender is a spectrum not a dichotomy. Maybe after marketing execs realize this, we can stop telling people their bodies are wrong, because that is a cruel, tidal wave of a lie. 

*Due to a strong public reaction these advertisements have now been dropped – yay!

Why we Must Speak Out 0

Guest blog by Kylie VanBuren

sarabrave Why we Must Speak Out

I love Sara Bareilles’ Brave. Who doesn’t love a message about overcoming fear in order to express one’s opinions?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

But why is simply expressing who we are and what we think interpreted as brave? Why is this so controversial that we have to be afraid of opposition? We live in a culture where backlash has become extremely harsh, especially when it means challenging the white middle class straight status quo. More than ever we need inspiration from brilliant thinkers like the late great Audre Lorde, who challenged us to push past the fear and voice our opinions.

Speaking out can be truly and honestly terrifying. It can hurt and put us back in our place. It can leave us vulnerable and accessible to the whims of others, who can use the opportunity of our opposition to tear us apart, either because of our opinion, or because of their own weaknesses. It can make us cry and feel shamed and like a scolded child. It can be hard and it can hurt.

And yet we still must speak. Audre Lorde reminds us that silence separates and creates boundaries that only speaking our truths can bridge. It is our responsibility then, as activists and as compassionate people, to stand up to inequalities. It may be as simple as disagreeing with what someone says or it may be as important as rallying a group together to truly and loudly oppose something. We have the right to challenge a system that puts so much pressure on us and forces us into so many contradictions. If we are pressed to see ourselves as individually responsible for upholding a system that is not necessarily meant for us or good for us, then we should be able to express our opinions about that system. We should be bold and expressive, even when there’s push back.

I have been shamed for speaking. I have been shushed for questioning. I have had people attempt to put me in my place. It is scary. It hurts. I have been embarrassed and afraid. I spoke. Then I got over it. Not all situations where we speak out will lead to the back patting, to “Good job, you exposed an inequality,” but it’s practice for another time, a time when we’ll be heard, and when it will really matter. It toughens our skin and reminds us that there’s always a next time, and when we’re pushed and shushed, we will be able to handle it better, and we will sleep at night.

As Audre Lorde’s daughter reminded her, “You’re never a whole person if you remain silent, because there is always one little piece inside you that wants to be spoken out.” Sometimes I will make the choice not to speak out and to avoid controversy, but not every time. I am not ready to surrender my values to that extent. Instead, I will take Bareilles as my inspiration and Audre Lorde as my muse, and I’ll continue the messy work of activism and speaking out.

My Media Thank You Notes 0

Guest Blog by Brianne Wheeler

As children, we’re taught to use our manners, to say “please” and “thank you.” So I thought I’d use my manners and thank one of the biggest influences in my life: the media! I mean, when I look at the flawless woman on the cover of the magazine as I check out at the grocery store, I’m so grateful for all the choices I’m given: the clothes, the makeup, the products to make me look as perfect as this woman looks.

Dear media, I’m so grateful that you help me better understand and see what society wants me to look like, dress, act, and behave like so I can change myself for the better. Lucky me, right? What would I do without you telling me who I am?! Because you do all this work to help me out, I simply must thank you!

thanks My Media Thank You Notes

Seventeen: Thank you for making me feel like I must blow out my hair and put a ton of product in it to make it pretty. Thanks for putting Leighton Meester in pink to make her look even girlier. Thanks for giving me tips on how to look cute for spring… perfect hair and makeup tricks!? Wow! That’s so nice of you. Anddddd you’re going to show me how to get flat abs and a great butt by spring break, too? You’re too kind. Once again… thank you!

thanks2 My Media Thank You Notes

Cosmo: Thanks for showing me how to look sexy while putting on my high heels… I can’t wait to pause and look up as I put them on next time. I’ll be sure to hold my hair back just like your cover girl.  Oh and I’ll make sure my dress and shoes match perfectly. Thanks for giving me crazy sex confessions… I can’t wait to laugh my ass off. And I am soooo thankful for the best birth control tips! Who knew you were so knowledgeable about women’s health!? Again… thanks so much!

thanks3 My Media Thank You Notes

Glamour: Thanks for putting Rihanna on the cover! She looks so happy which must mean I will be happy if I read this magazine! Also, I am so thrilled you are giving me easy beauty tricks with three-minute miracles… did Rihanna use them while getting ready for the cover shoot? I figured! Oh, and thank you for reassuring me I can relax because guys love me just the way I am, I was really worried they didn’t. Also I am so excited you told me how to eat, drink and not gain weight… let me guess: eat celery and drink water? Thanks for that!

How can one little magazine cover have soooo many important messages about hair, makeup, sex, secrets, body, and clothes!? What would I be without you?

Yet more offensive ads…

By Kate Parsons

The media is constantly treating women’s bodies as objects. Here buyers equate buying a truck with having the power to “drive over” or control women’s bodies. These images suggest to women that their bodies are objects and worse, objects for others to use. Women and women’s bodies are not meant to be controlled or “driven over.”

car Yet more offensive ads...

 More often than not, companies use women’s bodies to sell their product. In the case of this ad, the company makes the product into a body of a woman, thus taking objectification to a whole new level.

headphones Yet more offensive ads...

headphones2 Yet more offensive ads...

Boobs of Steel

By Abby Fontaine

When I was younger, my older brother had a pair of Superman pyjamas that I loved. They matched Superman’s costume completely, including the cape, which made the pajamas even cooler. My brother would run through the house with the red cape flying out behind him, and I got jealous. Soon enough, I learned to make my own cape from my pink blanket and followed him around. I remember waiting anxiously for the day he outgrew them and they were put into our storage closet full of potential hand-me-downs.

As soon as I was big enough, I wore those pyjamas whenever I could, day or night. However, time flew faster than Superman, and the pyjamas were soon too small for me. From then on, I had only girly pyjamas. My superhero days were over, until this Christmas when my sister gave me adult-sized Batman footie pyjamas, complete with a cape.

I used to love pretending to be a superhero. It was amazing to think that I could have super strength or super speed. With the current releases of all the fantastic Marvel movies, my nerdy love for classic comic book heroes has been renewed and invigorated. Only now, I’m more aware of important equality issues when it comes to representations of men and women. And in the superhero world, things are very far from equal.

Recently, I’ve been playing a two-person video game called “Injustice: Gods Among Us.” The game has a huge collection of superheroes that you can choose from and then fight with in one-on-one battle. At first, I thought it would be awesome to play as a female superhero. Although, when I choose a female character, it’s disappointing. She is always at a distinct disadvantage because she’s just not as powerful. As a result, I’ve learned to love the cooler male characters.

Along with differences in power, there are obvious differences in depictions and costumes. Women’s costumes consist of minimal material and the focus is on the body rather than on power—breasts are clearly emphasized and exaggerated. Yes, men are in tights and have defined muscles, but male characters’ costumes cover all. The contrast is so annoying and so obvious.

By objectifying these powerful women, the game makers lessen their imposing presence and powers.

superheroes1 Boobs of Steel

superheroes2 Boobs of Steel

superheroes3 Boobs of Steel

If the male characters were to dress in a similar way, the result would be comical rather than sexual. The problem here is the disparity: female characters’ costumes aren’t viewed by society in the same way. Women are effortlessly and commonly objectified, while men in similar costumes invite uproarious laughter. We can use this humor to our advantage to highlight the inequality and to help consumers abandon their blind acceptance of these inconsistencies. Better yet, how about some female characters fully and appropriately clothed to kick ass?

superheroes4 Boobs of Steel

Own Your Bossy!

Guest Blog by Maggie Rooney

Recently Sheryl Sandberg introduced a new campaign designed to put an end to the discouragement girls and women face from name-callling.  She uses the label “bossy” as her prime example. Sandberg’s Ban Bossy video features celebrities and famous leaders speaking out against the label used to bully girls and women into silence.

The campaign interested me and so I read an article in Forbes titled “Sheryl Sandberg, Beyonce, We Need To Embrace Bossy, Not Ban Bossy.” The author, Margie Warrell, deconstructs the messages sent out in the Ban Bossy campaign and argues that banning the “bossy” label can actually have a negative effect. She uses Prohibition as an analogy, “Just as trying to ban alcohol during the prohibition sent it underground; by trying to ban a word we actually give it more power to wound.”

Further, Warrell says that by embracing the label “bossy,” these leaders can embrace the positive aspects of the word, not the negative. The word “bossy” comes with traits like being a leader, role model, and an agent for positive change. “Bossy” females are necessary to our world and should be praised rather than silenced.

bossy Own Your Bossy!The updated campaign

Other writers have pushed back on the campaign with similar views. Margaret Talbot writes in The New Yorker that she felt the campaign itself had a bossy tone and that the message should be reconstructed. She mentions that in the past society has taken negative names like “nerd” and rebranded them in a way that’s now positive. “Bossy” is perfect for such rebranding.

Joshunda Sanders, in her article in The Week, also advocates rebranding negative words and says that famous women such as Tina Fey, R&B singer Kelis, and 1972 presidential candidate, Shirley Chisholm already reclaimed the word “bossy” in the titles of their famous works.

What all these Ban Bossy campaign critics have in common is their belief in the importance of sending a message to girls that labels shouldn’t define them, that they can define themselves. As Sanders writes “it doesn’t matter what anyone calls you – it’s how you answer them.” In other words, don’t give the power to name-callers, understand the duality of labels, claim the positive for yourself. Fight for your version of bossy, no matter the verbal adversaries.

 

Period

By Suzanne Warshell

 Period

On a monthly basis, I am confronted with a crisis most everyone who has ever gotten a period has faced: how to handle your period at school. I have learned to discreetly put my tampon in my boot when leaving to change it during class – because God forbid anyone catches me holding it! I have put tampons in days before I am scheduled to get my period, just in case any blood leaks out beforehand. I have bought copious amounts of vaginal washes and cleansing wipes for on the go to ensure that my vagina remains in pristine condition, taught to be ashamed of when its anything… but.  I. am. done. Thus, in honor of my time of the month, my favorite video this week is Alice Wilder’s, a Girls For A Change ambassador for U by Kotex, video on periods and the stigma surrounding them.

I have felt the exact same feelings of shame and embarrassment Alice describes, because these types of feelings are exactly what society wants. Girls, and other people who get periods, are socialized from elementary school to be ashamed of their periods, to speak about them only in codewords and hidden glances. I remember a particularly panicked incident in 5th grade when a boy in my class found one of the girl’s pads. My fellow pre-teen classmates stumbled through a explanation about how they were scented tissues, terrified of the consequences that would result if he discovered what they really were. That incident happened six years ago and I am still trying to reconcile, with myself and others, that I do not need to tell men what I’m holding in my hand is a scented tissue.

This is not a phase that girls are allowed to grow out of. Fast forward to seventh grade health class; we were split up into groups of girls and boys during the sex education unit. Ignoring the issues that arise due to this gender division in the future, it did enable many of the female students to feel more comfortable asking otherwise taboo questions. One of the girls raised her hand and in a meek voice asked, “what do I tell a male teacher if I have my period during school?” Her face flushed immediately along with those of every other student present. My health teacher, a woman herself, cleared her throat and told her to “just tell them you have to go to the bathroom, they don’t need to know you’re on your period.” And she’s right, they don’t need to know I am on my period, but they don’t have to not know either. The pressure put on young girls to be polite about their period is nothing short of misogyny, causing girls to be ashamed of their own anatomy and reviled by their natural bodily functions.

Gradually, I have started holding my tampons in my hand as I walk to the bathroom and I no longer feel a need to lower my voice when talking to friends about my cramps. I’m sick of it. I am sick of being told that my period is gross or being asked if I’m being moody because my hormones are “flaring up.” The  monthly shedding of my uterine lining is not taboo, I will not be polite about it and I do not care if it makes you uncomfortable. I am angry, I have the right to be angry, and my anger will not subside in five to eight days, when it’s no longer that “time of the month.” So, in honor of Alice, and in solidarity with anyone who has ever been told that their period is something to be ashamed of, I will not be embarrassed today when I grab a tampon from my backpack, and I will not care who sees it.

Because We Can: Covergirl’s Newest Ad

By Kara Chyung

girlscan Because We Can: Covergirl’s Newest Ad

At PBG, we tend to talk more about the negative events happening in the world and with feminism; sexual assault, objectifying advertisements, and Photoshop are among the most common themes. This is understandable; since our goal is to promote the power of women, we try to address all of the negative portrayals of women that exist in our daily lives.

However, it seems that a lot has changed since I first joined PBG. Many more companies have adopted the mindset of the Dove Real Beauty Campaign, which was launched in 2004. With Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches and Aerie’s Real Beauty Campaign, I am seeing more media campaigns that seek to portray real, unedited women than I was even one year ago. While these campaigns aren’t necessarily flawless (e.g. what exactly is “real beauty” anyway?), they do demonstrate a lot of positive change in the amount of respect women receive from the media.

The latest in this new stream of ads is Covergirl’s “Girls Can” advertisement, featuring Ellen DeGeneres, Katy Perry, Sofia Vergara, Janelle Monae, Pink, Queen Latifah, and ice-hockey player Natalie Wiebe. The one-minute video begins with the words “Girls can’t.” Each of the women then lists something she’s been told that she couldn’t do because she was female (“girls can’t be funny,” “girls can’t rap,” “girls can’t be strong”), and then says how she decided to ignore what others said to achieve her goals.

Toward the beginning of the ad, Ellen says, “Girls can’t. Sometimes you hear it, but more often you feel it.” I think that this summarizes perfectly the struggle with confidence and self-esteem that most girls face. While you still hear blatantly sexist language, it is usually the little things that are the biggest discouragements, like a flawless photo of your favorite celebrity in a magazine or being the only girl on your quiz bowl team. But the message of the video is that we cannot allow these obstacles to control who we are and the decisions that we make. Even though it is absolutely true, “be yourself” is a such a cliché, and what those words actually mean can sometimes unclear. But I interpret it to mean that you can be whatever you choose to be, and that being a girl should certainly not going to stop you from doing so. The world is not always a friendly environment for women, and it only will be if we have the courage to change it.

Why Madonna is my Shero

By Yas Necati

madonna Why Madonna is my Shero

“Drinking beer and smoking weed in the parking lot of my high school was not my idea of being rebellious, because that’s what everybody did. And I never wanted to do what everybody did. I thought it was cooler to not shave my legs or under my arms. I mean, why did God give us hair there anyways? Why didn’t guys have to shave there? Why was it accepted in Europe but not in America? No one could answer my questions in a satisfactory manner, so I pushed the envelope even further… But it was hard and it was lonely, and I had to dare myself every day to keep going… And I wondered if it was all worth it, but then I would pull myself together and look at a postcard of Frida Kahlo taped to my wall, and the sight of her moustache consoled me.”

Dear Madonna,

A couple years ago, when I was in school, I posted a picture of my hairy armpit on Facebook to prove that people would react and that sexism still existed. I posted this picture after reading the exact words of yours quoted above. I believed it was the right thing to do, but just like you “I wondered if it was all worth it.” Just like you, I found it “hard” and “lonely.” But then I thought, heck, if Madonna can do it, then so can I! Why should I be scared when one of the bravest women in the entire world was behind me?

But the truth is, Madonna, it’s sad that you’re considered brave for doing this. It’s upsetting that something as simple as showing the natural female body is actually “brave” in our society today. And if it’s a bold move for one of the most famous and influential women in the world to make, then how terrifying must it be for other women? Everyday women? Women who know that they don’t have tens of thousands of people behind them who will respect and support them no matter what?

In high school you were on you own, but you had Frida Kahlo. I was on my own, but I had you. And hopefully, if young women of the future ever feel alone, they’ll have you, me, and a whole feminist movement behind them.

Thank you for standing up for what’s right as a woman who’s never been afraid to defy the crowd. It’s increasingly difficult in a society with a narrow-minded, arrogant and oppressive media. Thank you for implying that women should have a choice when that media tries to box us into ideals and force us into silence and submission. Thank you for speaking up and out. You give hope and power to a future generation. And hopefully, in the future, thanks to our collective “brave” actions, hair in natural places might not actually be considered brave at all.

In solidarity,

A fan and a sister x

Princess Goldie Blox

By Kate Parsons

goldieblox Princess Goldie Blox

Today, girls and women are bombarded with advertisements that transmit an extremely narrow set of messages about girlhood and womanhood. At first glance, the advertisements for GoldieBlox seem as though they are pushing-back on the mainstream idea that girls should aim to be princesses or domestic goddesses when they grow up. The Oakland, Calif.-based company won a contest run by Intuit to launch the toy, which is aimed at a new kind of engineer: young girls. The advertisements are exciting because they aim to end the stereotype that all girls want to be princesses when they grow up. The toy really took off after their commercial during the Super Bowl. The commercial shows girls forgoing their usual toys for a more interesting and stimulating experience building and getting their hands dirty.

What I don’t get is why the infamous ad that appeared during the Super Bowl and the web and print versions of the advertisements do not match up. I applaud GoldieBlox and think that the toy is a great idea to replace domestic-themed toys with building toys for girls. But why is the print ad full of the girly colors the CEO first condemned when she walked down a toy aisle in a big-box store. Furthermore, there is actually a princess in the ad, even though the point of the toy is to move girls away from the princess dream. Will there ever be a toy that truly crosses boundaries and stereotypes? Or will girls’ toys always be purple, pink, and princess-y in order to sell?