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Own Your Bossy!

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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.

bossyThe 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.

 

Because We Can: Covergirl’s Newest Ad

Author:

By Kara Chyung

girlscan

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

Author:

By Yas Necati

madonna!

“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

Author:

By Kate Parsons

goldieblox

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?

Crying Double Standards

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Guest Post By Samantha Slotnick

A few hours before my last home hockey game, I stumbled across an article that was shared by a handful of my Facebook friends. The headline read: “Mocking the US Women’s Hockey Team for Crying Over Their Loss to Canada is Sexism, Pure and Simple.”

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 Members of the US Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team crying after losing gold-medal game

Baffled by the title of the article, I clicked on the link to learn more. The author calls people out on their responses via twitter to the women’s team for crying. Some of the tweets she referenced included (please note that I use italics to draw attention to the shocking things people had the audacity to say): “The US women hockey team are such ungrateful assholes. The damn Swiss team is so happy with bronze & you’re crying cause you won silver;” “The women’s US hockey team crying after they lost is exactly why women shouldn’t play sports. Grow some ovaries. #GetOverIt;” “To the US women’s hockey team: ‘There’s no crying in hockey.'” I was enraged.

I followed the US Women’s Ice Hockey team’s journey in Sochi and watched the entire gold medal game versus Canada–all the way down to the devastating overtime loss. I watched the medal ceremony that immediately followed too, and quite honestly I did not even think twice about the girls crying over their loss. To me, that was normal. These 21 girls had not only trained four years to win gold in these Olympics, they had been training their entire hockey careers for this. You don’t just magically become an Olympian–it takes hard work, dedication, and a drive to succeed that is built upon year after year after year.

It was not until I sat in the locker room before the last game of my college career that I realized what hockey truly meant to me and that it was almost over. Our coach, with whom I and the other seniors have a very close bond, gave a heartfelt speech about four “little girls” who began playing the game of hockey, and shared cute little tidbits our parents sent in advance. This was when it really hit me. I thought of the relationships I built with my teammates and family, and about how important hockey has been in my life as a necessary escape from reality from time to time. Something about realizing that this game–a game that played such a prominent role in shaping who I am today and the relationships I cherish–was coming to an end, brought me to tears.

There is in fact crying in hockey. We see it every year in June with the winning team of NHL players hoisting the Stanley Cup over their heads as the losing team exits the ice as fast as possible fighting back the tears in their eyes.

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 Henrik Lundqvist crying after losing Eastern Conference Finals–Keeps NY Rangers Out of Stanley Cup contention

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Ray Borque crying after winning the Stanley Cup for the first and only time in his 22-year career

Why is it okay for grown adult males to cry when losing in a professional competition, but it is not okay for a team of females representing their country, with an average age of 23, to cry when losing the gold medal to their long-time rival?  As a female hockey player, I am not naive to the fact that I carry some bias in my argument. This issue hits close to home. As a human being though, I cannot help but wrestle with this double standard. The American culture socializes us to believe that men don’t cry; women do. But in the case of sports, why is it okay for men to cry but women cannot?

This is just one of the many contradictions female athletes face. We are expected to be strong and intimidating on the playing field, but sweet and feminine off the court– “dolled up” with makeup or sexualized in the Sports Illustrated swim suit edition. As a society we tell girls it’s not only okay to cry, but expected of them, yet attack females for crying after losing in a sport? Where is the logic? So, now I ask the really tough question: how do we work on socializing generations young and old to understand that expressing our emotions is not only okay, but actually psychologically healthy for all human beings alike?

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