An Homage & Call to Women In The 21st Century

By 

Confession: I am a reformed sexist.

For a long time I held the view that on average, women are not as capable as men. This view was based on my experience; it was what I saw around me. So many vapid women with as much substance as the reality TV stars they watched each night. But a relatively recent realization brought this view crashing to the ground: possession of two X chromosomes does not render a person less capable, but our culture does an excellent job of it.

Last year I was conversing with a gender issues expert who opened my eyes to the world from a woman’s perspective. She explained what is was like to be constantly objectified, to be treated differently because you are a woman, and what is was like to grow up with different expectations and values thanks to cultural conditioning.

This realization led me down the rabbit hole of gender (in)equality. Suddenly evidence of the ‘oversexification’ and devaluing of women was everywhere. It became no wonder so many of my female peers acted this way. What was ‘normal’ became nauseating.

As a man, I know that I can never fully comprehend this reality, but I wish to share as much as I can grasp to you, here and now.

A False Sense of Gender Equality

I’ll start off by letting Google do the talking about the cultural consensus on men and women:

Shocked? I wasn’t.

The first thing that needs to be understood is the importance of role models in a young person’s life. The most primary role models are, of course, immediate family, but beyond that lie popular culture icons. Books, TV and movies provide bigger-than-life characters whom we consciously and unconsciously mirror.

Men need not look very far to find an abundance of strong role models. Female role models of the same caliber, however, are few and far between. Most prominent female figures are worshiped for their looks, not their character or accomplishments. Even those women revered for their achievements have a strange knack for being very easy on the eyes.

Consider the plot of the vast majority of Hollywood films produced today. The male protagonist is the superhero, the brilliant writer, the CEO, the President, the secret agent. Meanwhile the female protagonist more often that not serves as eye-candy for the audience and the prize needing to be rescued for the male hero.

What This Means

The implications of this divide are ubiquitous.

Women have equally few leadership roles in the real world. As of 2011, women made up only 9 of 190 heads of state, 13% of parliamentary positions and 15% of top-level business positions internationally.

To make matters worse, we subconsciously harbor antagonism towards strong women. A recent Stanford study presented students with the biography of a successful Silicon valley investor. 50% of students were told the investor’s name was Heidi, and 50% were told it was Howard.

The results showed that students were much harsher on Heidi than on Howard across the board. Although they think she’s just as competent and effective as Howard, they don’t like her, they wouldn’t hire her, and they wouldn’t want to work with her. As gender researchers would predict, this seems to be driven by how much they disliked Heidi’s aggressive personality. The more assertive they thought Heidi was, the more harshly they judged her (but the same was not true for those who rated Howard).

Women are even lacking a voice in the media. The following infographic shows how little major news channels value the opinion of women, even concerning women’s issues:

But Things Are Changing…

Women’s rights and empowerment have certainly come a long way in the past century. The evidence is everywhere, even in the plots of Disney movies…

 

If you want to see this big jump firsthand, watch the trailer for Snow White (For Christ’s sake, the entire plot hinges on the line, ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, whose the fairest one of all?’) followed by the trailer for Brave.

To the Women of the World…

You are doing a fantastic job of living out your potential in spite of this bullshit. Our culture has told you that you are ‘equal’ while slamming you from every direction with reason to believe that you are not.

But the world needs more from you now than ever. Centuries of patriarchal domination has left this world on the brink of destruction. At the very least we need a balance between the masculine and the feminine.

To my (and Layar’s) opinion, modern leadership has a lot of feminine elements. It is not so much about power, control, top-down thinking and ego, but much more about inclusiveness, intuition, the will to move ahead, looking for win-win (for both parties) rather than ‘I win, you lose’.

Claire Boonstra

So my message to you is, KEEP GOING!!! Men don’t like to admit they need directions, let alone a surge in feminine leadership, so don’t look to us for to call for change. Be that change.

If we have the courage to accept that our current crises afford us the opportunity to do things differently, if we recognize the value of women’s leadership power and enlist women as partners in the redesign and reconstruction of broken systems, we can activate a global reset that accrues to the benefit of our shared global community.

Alyse Nelson

I’m not a woman, so I feel somewhat strange handing out advice here. However I do feel these steps would be helpful in overcoming the social conditioning already discussed:

1) Become aware and share

The first step to any change is become aware of the need for it. Beyond reading this article, look out for evidence of this epidemic in TV, movies, and your real life interactions with both men and women. Go a step further and share this realization with those around you.

2) Drop unhealthy role models and adopt new ones

Stop taking in media that gives the spotlight to poor role models. Instead, spend that building up what should have always been yours: a healthy sense of self-worth. Watch TED talks from badass women, research those who are pioneers in their fields. Do anything and everything find new role models to emulate.

3) Stand up in situations where gender inequality is occurring

This one goes without saying. Be a beacon of the change you wish to see in the world. Don’t be afraid to be vocal with friends, family and strangers. Awareness starts with you.

4) Figure out what you can do to help the world

Think about what you can do for others as a strong woman. What issues could benefit from your feminine touch? The world needs you now more than ever.

To The Men of the World…

This issue goes both ways. We are taught from day one what it is to be masculine, and how women should be viewed and treated. Thus we must play an equal role in reversing that conditioning.

1) Take a walk in someone else’s high-heels (metaphorically!)

Read #2 of this experiment in empathy.

2) Be Conscious of Your Interactions with Women

Notice the subtleties of the way you talk and treat women, while also noticing how they interact with you. If you see something you don’t agree with, be vocal about it — whether it’s your action or that of a female friend. Call attention to the bullshit.

3) Become a Loud Advocate for Women

Other men are far more likely to take your words into consideration than a woman’s. Make feminism cool. One thing is for sure: this certainly won’t hurt your chances with the ladies.

In Conclusion…

Thank you for reading this article. This is not an easy topic to broach for men or women because it calls into question so many basic assumptions. You’re awesome just for considering it, let alone following the steps laid out above. Keep fighting the good fight 🙂 Much love.

 

[Source: High Existence]
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Hey Y’all!

Hey Y’all!

First of all, I want to mention something that one of my sociology professors told me and the rest of my Sociology of the Family class a couple years ago, something which I’ve never forgotten and totally stand by: “Y’all” has a stigma. Maybe because it’s a Southern expression, it’s assumed to be something that “less educated” people use in their vocabulary. I’m sure there’s a racial prejudice tied into the stigma as well. The point is that “Y’all” get’s a bad rap, and I call bullshit to that because in my opinion it is the most inclusive way to address a group of people regardless of gender.

Everyone knows Y’all’s widely used alternative = “You guys.” Seriously? That’s the expression we’re sticking with? Not to mention the awkwardness of formulating the plural possessive form: Is it “Your guys’s?” or “You guys’s?” or “Yous guys’?” Someone give me an eloquent answer to that question and I’ll hand over all the money I have in my wallet. Really.

So I’m making a case for Y’all. I have to admit, I’m from the North East and Y’alls are pretty scarce here. It doesn’t come to me naturally but I try to work it into conversation when I can. If anyone ever challenges you for using Y’all by saying it sounds uneducated you go right ahead and ask them why. I’ll bet you they can’t come up with an answer.

Y’all is inclusive. Not just for guys, not even just for guys and girls. Y’all is for All.

(“Folks” is also a good alternative)

All that aside, I am going to try to post more regularly to this blog. I have several other blogs that I manage on top of work and an internship, etc. etc. But gender and sexuality issues and social justice in general is something I cannot go a day without thinking about – it is something that you just can’t turn off, although sometimes I wish I could. I wouldn’t think about these things so much if they weren’t so important to me, and I hope to share my thoughts, as well as articles, pictures, and other media on this blog to anyone who finds it as interesting and important as I do.

I hope y’all enjoy 🙂

Were the First Artists Mostly Women?

Hand stencils surround a mural of spotted horses.

by Virginia Hughes

for National Geographic

Published October 8, 2013

Women made most of the oldest-known cave art paintings, suggests a new analysis of ancient handprints. Most scholars had assumed these ancient artists were predominantly men, so the finding overturns decades of archaeological dogma.

 

Archaeologist Dean Snow of Pennsylvania State University analyzed hand stencils found in eight cave sites in France and Spain. By comparing the relative lengths of certain fingers, Snow determined that three-quarters of the handprints were female.

“There has been a male bias in the literature for a long time,” said Snow, whose research was supported by the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration. “People have made a lot of unwarranted assumptions about who made these things, and why.”

 

Archaeologists have found hundreds of hand stencils on cave walls across the world. Because many of these early paintings also showcase game animals—bison, reindeer, horses, woolly mammoths—many researchers have proposed that they were made by male hunters, perhaps to chronicle their kills or as some kind of “hunting magic” to improve success of an upcoming hunt. The new study suggests otherwise.

“In most hunter-gatherer societies, it’s men that do the killing. But it’s often the women who haul the meat back to camp, and women are as concerned with the productivity of the hunt as the men are,” Snow said. “It wasn’t just a bunch of guys out there chasing bison around.”

 

Experts expressed a wide range of opinions about how to interpret Snow’s new data, attesting to the many mysteries still surrounding this early art.

 

“Hand stencils are a truly ironic category of cave art because they appear to be such a clear and obvious connection between us and the people of the Paleolithic,” said archaeologist Paul Pettitt of Durham University in England. “We think we understand them, yet the more you dig into them you realize how superficial our understanding is.”

 

Sex Differences

 

Snow’s study began more than a decade ago when he came across the work of John Manning, a British biologist who had found that men and women differ in the relative lengths of their fingers: Women tend to have ring and index fingers of about the same length, whereas men’s ring fingers tend to be longer than their index fingers.

 

A comparison of hand stencils

These hand stencils found in the El Castillo cave in Cantabria, Spain, were probably made by a man (left) and a woman (right), respectively.

Photographs by Roberto Ontanon Peredo, courtesy Dean Snow

One day after reading about Manning’s studies, Snow pulled a 40-year-old book about cave paintings off his bookshelf. The inside front cover of the book showed a colorful hand stencil from the famous Pech Merle cave in southern France. “I looked at that thing and I thought, man, if Manning knows what he’s talking about, then this is almost certainly a female hand,” Snow recalled.

 

Hand stencils and handprints have been found in caves in Argentina, Africa, Borneo, and Australia. But the most famous examples are from the 12,000- to 40,000-year-old cave paintings in southern France and northern Spain. (See “Pictures: Hand Stencils Through Time.”)

 

For the new study, out this week in the journal American Antiquity, Snow examined hundreds of stencils in European caves, but most were too faint or smudged to use in the analysis. The study includes measurements from 32 stencils, including 16 from the cave of El Castillo in Spain, 6 from the caves of Gargas in France, and 5 from Pech Merle.

Snow ran the numbers through an algorithm that he had created based on a reference set of hands from people of European descent who lived near his university. Using several measurements—such as the length of the fingers, the length of the hand, the ratio of ring to index finger, and the ratio of index finger to little finger—the algorithm could predict whether a given handprint was male or female. Because there is a lot of overlap between men and women, however, the algorithm wasn’t especially precise: It predicted the sex of Snow’s modern sample with about 60 percent accuracy.

 

Luckily for Snow, that wasn’t a problem for the analysis of the prehistoric handprints. As it turned out—much to his surprise—the hands in the caves were much more sexually dimorphic than modern hands, meaning that there was little overlap in the various hand measurements.

 

“They fall at the extreme ends, and even beyond the extreme ends,” Snow said. “Twenty thousand years ago, men were men and women were women.”

 

Woman, Boy, Shaman?

Snow’s analysis determined that 24 of the 32 hands—75 percent—were female. (See “Pictures: Prehistoric European Cave Artists Were Female.”)

 

Some experts are skeptical. Several years ago, evolutionary biologist R. Dale Guthrie performed a similar analysis of Paleolithic handprints. His work—based mostly on differences in the width of the palm and the thumb—found that the vast majority of handprints came from adolescent boys.

 

For adults, caves would have been dangerous and uninteresting, but young boys would have explored them for adventure, said Guthrie, an emeritus professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. “They drew what was on their mind, which is mainly two things: naked women and large, frightening mammals.”

 

Other researchers are more convinced by the new data.

“I think the article is a landmark contribution,” said archaeologist Dave Whitley of ASM Affiliates, an archaeological consulting firm in Tehachapi, California. Despite these handprints being discussed for half a decade, “this is the first time anyone’s synthesized a good body of evidence.”

 

Whitley rejects Guthrie’s idea that this art was made for purely practical reasons related to hunting. His view is that most of the art was made by shamans who went into trances to try to connect with the spirit world. “If you go into one of these caves alone, you start to suffer from sensory deprivation very, very quickly, in 5 to 10 minutes,” Whitley said. “It can spin you into an altered state of consciousness.”

The new study doesn’t discount the shaman theory, Whitley added, because in some hunter-gatherer societies shamans are female or even transgendered.

 

The new work raises many more questions than it answers. Why would women be the primary artists? Were they creating only the handprints, or the rest of the art as well? Would the hand analysis hold up if the artists weren’t human, but Neanderthal?

 

The question Snow gets most often, though, is why these ancient artists, whoever they were, left handprints at all.

 

“I have no idea, but a pretty good hypothesis is that this is somebody saying, ‘This is mine, I did this,'” he said.

Follow Virginia Hughes on Twitter.

[Source: National Geographic]

Here’s Some Dudes Who Think Women Are Human Beings

sethmeyers

“When you work with the sort of really strong women that I work with, the idea that anyone would want to make decisions for them is hard to wrap your head around.”

-Seth Meyers

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“I was raised by my mom, I have a little sister, and I’m constantly annoyed [by] how terribly written most females are in most everything — and especially in comedy. Their anatomy seems to be the only defining aspect of their character, and I just find that untruthful and it straight-up offends me. A lot of the strongest people I know are chicks. And as a viewer, I get a kick out of watching real characters. So I take it upon myself to clean that shit up and write actual women. And I like writing strong women, because as a straight male, there’s nothing more attractive to me than a strong girl.”

-Jay Baruchel

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“Men ruled the roost and women played a subservient role [in the 1960s]. Working wives were a rarity, because their place was in the home, bringing up the kids. The women who did work were treated as second class citizens, because it was a male-dominated society. That was a fact of life then. But it wouldn’t be tolerated today, and that’s quite right in my book … People look back on those days through a thick veil of nostalgia, but life was hard if you were anything other than a rich, powerful, white male.”

-Jon Hamm

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“If I had a bucket list, I’d say raising my four girls to be strong, good women would be No. 1.”

-Matt Damon

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(On Blue Valentine’s rating) “The MPAA is okay supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex. It’s misogynistic in nature to try and control a woman’s sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger than this film.” 

-Ryan Gosling

Dove: Pioneer or Panderer?

rosiesaysblog

dove_wideweb__430x327I must admit, the first seven times someone emailed Dove’s ubiquitous new ad campaign, I got a little weepy and emotional. It hit all the right cords, all the soft, vulnerable spots that most women (and many men!) hold deep about their appearance. My nose is too big. My eyes are too far apart. My chin is too pointy. My forehead is too high. My X is too Y.  It takes all those “toos” and flips them, revealing with a clever gimmick how much we underestimate our own beauty. Here, just watch, it’s easier than explaining it:

It’s good advertising. It’s memorable, it’s shareable, it makes you feel warm and fuzzy. I literally feel prettier simply by watching it. Maybe I should go buy some Dove products….

Hold up.

It’s a testament to how compelling this video is that I didn’t bother to put on my critical hat and…

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