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Anti-Feminism on Tumblr

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By Kara Chyung

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As a member of PBG’s fabulous Tumblr team, I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently searching through all of our saved tags, such as body image, sexism, and even Gloria Steinem. However, I’ve been avoiding the feminist tag recently due to all of the anti-feminist content that gets posted there. Some of the content attempts to be diplomatic, but some of it is just appalling. It can be offensive to see someone call something that you believe in useless, and it makes me a little sad to see that some people view feminism in such a negative way.

Here are some of the most common misconceptions about feminism that I have seen on Tumblr. Some of them refer to specific posts, and others I’ve seen many times.

1. Feminists hate men and believe that they are better than them.

Many people confuse feminism with misandry, but feminism is about equality, not superiority. Some people make the assumption that since feminists want to empower women, that means that they therefore want to suppress men. I support feminism because I believe that female gender inequality is more prevalent, but I also believe that men suffer from gender inequality and that these issues should be addressed along with women’s issues.

2. Feminism is a movement for the privileged.

I saw one particularly disparaging YouTube video about this topic. Basically, the maker of the video claimed that it was pointless and useless to spend energy advocating positive body image and reproductive rights while women in other countries are forced into marriage, banned from receiving an education, and raped on a regular basis. Of course female genocide is a more urgent and serious matter than objectification of women by the media. But both are their own breeds of bad, and it’s silly to suggest that one cannot be an advocate against both.

3. If you try to argue with feminists, they’ll just call you stupid and insult you.

There are probably feminists who refuse to listen to others’ points of view and maybe go a bit too far when trying to prove a point. But guess what? There are people who dismiss any opinion that isn’t their own in every movement, and feminism is not supported by a disproportionate number of them. To claim that an entire group of people with the same beliefs is by definition uncompromising (and rude) would be both unjust and incorrect.

4. Feminists are ugly women who can’t get laid

This is a reference to one awful post that I saw. According to this person, the problem is not the tremendous pressure that women face to be attractive, but the fact that some women are not attractive by society’s standards. Not only does this post belittle the importance of feminism in our culture, it also trivializes women’s experiences with gender inequality by labeling feminism as a way for women to justify their hurt feelings. That’s not to mention the glaring problem of attempting to set standards of beauty for women. Grr.

I’m not saying that the feminist movement is flawless or that women who don’t call themselves feminists are horrible people. But I wish that more people would see the strengths of feminism, because ultimately feminism does not only advocate for the rights of women. Feminism is a movement that is founded on the belief that no one should be discriminated against for who and what they are. And that is something we should all get behind.

Because We Can: Covergirl’s Newest Ad

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By Kara Chyung

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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.

Three Cheers for Aerie

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By Kara Chyung

Aerie, the lingerie and apparel branch of American Eagle, has recently announced their “Aerie Real” campaign, promising no retouching and “no supermodels.”

Their recent ads, which echo Dove’s Real Beauty campaign and Seventeen’s Body Peace petition, claim that it’s time to be real, because “The real you is sexy.”

Aerie models are saying that while it’s nice to have Photoshop to hide minor imperfections, the Aerie campaign showed them that they really don’t need the retouching.

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Some people wonder whether this campaign is necessary, questioning how much girls are actually influenced by the images in ads. But I’m glad that more and more brands seek to make girls feel good about themselves by breaking down the image of an idealistic body. In a country where so many young girls suffer from eating disorders, it’s about time companies are publicly addressing the body image issue. Hopefully Aerie’s decision to eliminate Photoshop will help to create change in the rest of the industry.

Videos about Feminism to Get You Thinking (or Angry!)

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By Kara Chyung

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Normally I seek out the news, other feminist blogs, or my own life when looking for new blog topics, but this time I tried a slightly different route: I went to YouTube, typed in “feminism” and hit “Enter”.  Let’s just say I was pretty surprised by what came up.

Below I’ve listed some of the highlights of my little exploration. If you’re ever in need of something to watch, search “feminism” on YouTube sometime and go wherever the mouse leads you. But be warned: it’s a jungle out there, especially in the comments sections.. .

1. Reinventing feminism – Courtney Martin – TED

Courtney Martin shares her story about growing up with feminism and why she eventually decided to call herself a feminist, giving insight into how feminism is changing since thirty years ago.

2. Myths About Feminism – marinashutup

This satirical, sarcastic video “debunks” popular stereotypes of feminism. Kind of a comic relief after watching videos filled with yelling and mocking of the movement.

3. Girls That Piss Me Off – JennaMarbles

Popular YouTube vlogger Jenna Marbles rants about double standards and gender roles in relationships. Her message: you can’t be a feminist while waiting around for Prince Charming to come and take care of you. Makes you wonder why it’s the guy who is expected to hold the door for a girl.

4.*33 Reasons Not to Be a Feminist (A Refutation)/Failure of Feminism (TRIGGER WARNING) – AmazingAtheist

You might be appalled by the title of this video, but I clicked on it because I was interested in getting a different perspective. The Amazing Atheist addresses many issues that feminists often cite as reasons to be feminists. Despite some angry yelling (and a lot of cursing), he makes some pretty good arguments. I don’t agree with a lot of what he says (like how feminism is useless because it can’t bring about actual change), but I think it’s important to know the other side’s opinion. If you like this video, check out his other video called Failure of Feminism, which brings up a lot of good points about gender inequality with regards to men.

STEM Programs for Girls

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by Kara Chyung

In honour of Grace Hopper, an American computer scientist and Navy rear admiral whose 107th birthday would have been on Monday, I thought this week would be an appropriate time to raise the issue of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers.

Math has always been my favorite subject. I used to think my interest in math stemmed (see what I did there?!) from a desire for concrete answer, but I’ve realised that what I enjoy most is the process of solving the puzzle. As I go through high school and begin to think about college, I find myself strongly considering a career in mathematics or technology.

Recently, I read an article in the New York Times Magazine about the challenges women seeking a career in the sciences face. While often there are not rules strictly prohibiting women from pursuing STEM careers, the numbers show that the feeling of exclusivity in an all-boys class and a lack of encouragement from professors have deterred women from taking their studies in STEM fields beyond the undergraduate level. The circumstances have improved since the time that the author was in college, but there still is a lack of girls aspiring to these careers.

The article also mentions that girls are not introduced to STEM fields at a young age, so even if they develop any interest in science and math later on, it is often too late. Fortunately, there are many programs to get girls interested in STEM fields and promoting STEM education. Read about the organisations listed below.

Remember, a woman can do anything that a man can do, including programming computers or solving calculus problems! :)

Check out these links to find out more about STEM education for girls!

Girls Who Code: A nonprofit organisation that promotes girls’ education in computer science. Girls Who Code offers an intensive 8-week long Summer Immersion program  that exposes girls to careers in technology.

The National Girls Collaborative Project: An organisation that helps bring girls together across the United States on STEM projects. The National Girls Collaborative Project currently has 28 Collaboratives serving 38 states.

Girlstart: A community-based organisation based in Austin, Texas, that seeks to spark girls’ interest in STEM through year-round education and programs.

Girls Scouts’ Imagine Engineering: Imagine Engineering seeks to educate girls about engineering careers and helps link girls and their families to STEM opportunities and organisations.

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