Judge Persky isn’t the problem, you are.

While I’m relieved to see America’s outrage at Judge Persky’s ridiculously light sentence for rapist and Stanford athlete Brock Turner, we’re reacting to one case of epidemic sexual assault in this country. Turner’s sentence is not an anomaly. In America, we accept rape culture. It’s normalized, and Persky acted the way judges do every single day.

On Reel Girl, I recently posted this T-shirt that reads: Two Beers Three Margaritas Four Jello Shots Taking Home The Girl Who Drank All the Above PRICELESS

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I got a minimal response to my post.

It was two Swedes who reported Turner’s rape of this woman. Do you think two American frat boys would’ve done the same?

I’ve been reading Peggy Orenstein’s fantastic new book Girls and Sex in which author repeatedly references how the sex education programs in other countries are far superior to America’s curriculum, if we can call it that. One of the finest examples Orenestein cites is Sweden. How do most American kids learn about sex? Orenstein tells us the source of their education is porn.

What are American parents teaching their children about sex? What about violence against women?

I think we all know that Brock’s father argued his son’s life should not be ruined for “20 minutes of action.” Instead of teaching girls how not to get raped, when are parents going to teach their sons not to rape? How are parents going to teach kids to respect girls and women? What are you doing today to teach your kids about gender equality?

If you want to protest this shirt, it’s made by Iron Horse Helmets You can Tweet them: @IronHorseHelmet Call them: 1.800.978.9468

 

Wow, People Magazine addresses trivialization of Taylor Swift and women artists!

When news broke a couple days ago that Taylor Swift broke up with boyfriend Calvin Harris, the internet brimmed with snark: How long until she sings about this breakup? Swift’s lyrics have long been criticized and trivialized, reducing her to a boy crazy one note.

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Today, People Magazine posts a headline: 8 Breakup Albums by Male Artists That Didn’t Earn Them as Much of a Rep as Taylor Swift with a list including musicians generally regarded as geniuses and poets: Bob Dylan,Willie Nelson, Elvis Costello, Marvin Gaye, Frank Sinatra, and Kanye West. Guess what? All those dudes wrote about break ups multiple times in multiple albums like most artists do.

I am so fucking sick of women artists being relegated to “confessional” or “chick lit.” It starts when kids are young, babies, in the whole “just for girls” “special interest” category of children’s media. Literally, from birth, we train kids that stories about girls are not important, are less interesting, are less than. I can’t tell you how many parents have responded to me, when I tell them about this blog: “Oh, I don’t have to worry about that, I have boys.” Yes, mom and dad, you do have to worry about that. It’s up to you to seek out media for your kids– your kids— with female protagonists. It’s up to you to avoid inundating your child’s imagination with narratives and images that repeatedly teach that females belong on the sidelines. And even if you work your ass off to show your children alternatives, they’re still going to suck up gender stereotypes which are literally everywhere. So try. Try harder. Change the world, don’t be a bystander. I’m going off on a tangent. The point of this blog was an optimistic one, to congratulate People Magazine. I wrote almost the exact blog People did today on Reel Girl, years ago. The Bob Dylan song I cited wasn’t “Don’t Think Twice” but “Idiot Wind.” There are scores to choose from. Ask yourself: What can you do today to support women artists?

‘So tragic a woman has to share a picture like this to be believed #AmberHeard’

In the latest case of woman tried by internet mob, Amber Heard is branded a gold-digger for saying Johnny Depp abused her. A few voices support Heard, I had to seek them out. There’s this Tweet from feminist writer/ producer Elizabeth Plank:

So tragic a woman has to share a picture like this to be believed.

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and this one from Plank as well:

Why didn’t she report the assault, says the person calling her a liar after she reported said assault

Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, Johnny Depp are all talented men who I admired. I stand with Amber Heard. I’m grateful she has the courage to her her story. Every woman who dares to speak publicly helps all women. Thank you, Amber Heard.

Join artist-warriors at the Bay Area Book Festival June 4 – 5

Are you coming to the Bay Area Book Festival June 4 – 5?

Here’s the poster my 9 year old daughter’s cartooning teacher, Aaron Southerland, made for the event. I love how it shows my daughter, her best friend, and her teacher wielding writing tools instead of weapons, because, truly, when it comes to changing the world, is there anything more powerful than art?

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To learn more about Alice’s book or to buy it click here.

Like sexist ‘Minions,’ giants in ‘The BFG’ are all male

Like the all male “Minions” featured in no less than 3 blockbuster movies, Roald’s Dahl’s giants in his book The BFG, coming out as a movie directed by Steven Spielberg in July, are 100% male.

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My 7 year old daughter and I were reading The BFG when we came across the first illustration of 8 giants, all hairy and shirtless, sporting a distinct caveman look. “Are there no girl giants?” we wondered. “There must be!” insisted my daughter. “The moms.” Not thrilled that the mother role could be the only way female giants were essential to the story, I took her point. Still, I was pessimistic about the appearance of any female giants. I’d been burned in the past. I held on to the same hope that the minions weren’t all male until, in the last movie a male narrator confirmed for me, and all the kids watching, that minions have no mothers as well. They evolved from amoeba-like creatures. They came out of the sea.

By the time my daughter and I reached to page 51, Dahl let us know for sure: There are no female giants in the story at all. Disturbed by his poor grammar and vocabulary, Sophie, the girl kidnapped by the giant, asks the BFG he had a mother to teach him. The BFG responds in shock, almost disgust:

“Giants don’t have mothers! Surely you is knowing that.

“I did not know that,” Sophie said.

“Whoever heard of a woman giant!” shouted the BFG, waving the snozzcumber around his head like a lasso. “There never was a woman giant and there never will be one. Giants are always men!”

Sophie felt herself getting a little muddled. “In that case,” she said, “how were you born?”

“Giants isn’t born,” the BFG answered. “Giants appears and that’s all there is to it. They simply appears, the same way as the sun and the stars.”

How very minion-like.

I hope Spielberg’s adaptation lacks this sexism and that at least half of the giants in the movie are depicted as female. I especially hope that millions of kids don’t hear the line: “Whoever heard of a woman giant! There never was a woman giant and there never will be one. Giants are always men!” I’m not optimistic. In the trailers for the movie, I’ve seen only male giants.

Why do I want half the giants to be female? After all, they’re villains. They eat children. They’re ugly and brutal and mean. Don’t I want females to be heroes?

Yes, but that’s not all I want females to be.

Defending his sexist minions, creator Pierre Coffin said: “Seeing how dumb and stupid they often are, I just couldn’t imagine Minions being girls.” Simon Ragoonanan of Man vs Pink responds, “I read Pierre’s comment as ‘I just couldn’t imagine girls being funny.” Not only do I agree with him, I want females to be depicted in the incredible range that males are: funny, serious, fat, thin, old, young, good, bad, geeky, heroic and on and on an on. Once you put female characters in a box, they’re always in a box, limited, stereotyped, and hardly there at all. Because all of the giants are male, females get far less lines than males. Earlier this year, a study was released that shows in children’s movies, even when there is a female protagonist, males almost always get more speaking time.

The BFG has “a strong female character” in Sophie, but besides the queen, those two are the only major female characters in the whole story. The queen is only in about a quarter of the story. Besides the all male giants, there’s an all male army. Sophie is a Minority Feisty, a sexist phenomenon that often fools parents into thinking they’re watching a feminist movie when they’re watching a sexist one. I define Minority Feisty as this:

If you see an animated film today, it will usually include a strong female character. Or two. Or maybe even three. But however many females there are, there will always be more males. Females, half of the human population, will be depicted as a minority. The token strong female character (or two or three, you get the point) reviewers will call “feisty.”

The problem is that because Pixar or Disney has so magnanimously thrown in this “feisty” female (who may even have some commentary about sexism or male domination) we’re no longer supposed to care that almost all of the other characters in the film are male.

If the male dominance in The BFG was about one book (or one movie) it wouldn’t be a problem, but this sexism is part of a pattern that is so repeated and normalized, we don’t even notice it. With so many girls gone missing from children’s media, we’re training a new generation to expect and accept this sexism. We’re missing a huge opportunity to use creativity to show them that the world could vbe another way. Once again, I ask: Why does the imaginary world have to be sexist at all? If rats can cook, unicorns prance around, and lions befriend warthogs, why can’t we picture gender equality?

Thank you, Fernanda Lopez Aguilar, for the courage to tell your story of sexual harassment at Yale

I read horrible shit every day as I know you do too, but this story of sexual harassment by a famous ethics professor at Yale made me cry. So hypocritical of Thomas Pogge, an intellectual star in the field of global ethics, and reminiscent to me of how “progressive” and “lefty” men– political leaders, professors etc– can be just as sexist and dismissive of women as anyone else. We need more women in power. Below you’ll find some quotes from the post, but please read the whole thing on Buzzfeed and share it.

 

In the 1990s, a student at Columbia University, where Pogge was then teaching, accused him of sexually harassing her. In 2010, a recent Yale graduate named Fernanda Lopez Aguilar accused Pogge of sexually harassing her and then retaliating against her by rescinding a fellowship offer. In 2014, a Ph.D. student at a European university accused Pogge of proffering career opportunities to her and other young women in his field as a pretext to beginning a sexual relationship.

Yale has known about these allegations, and others, for years. When Lopez Aguilar first reported Pogge for sexual harassment, she said, Yale offered to buy her silence with $2,000.

Eventually, a hearing panel did find “substantial evidence” that Pogge had acted unprofessionally and irresponsibly, noting “numerous incidents” where he “failed to uphold the standards of ethical behavior” expected of him. But the panel voted that there was “insufficient evidence to charge him with sexual harassment,” according to disciplinary records…

In October 2015, Lopez Aguilar filed a federal civil rights complaint, alleging that Yale violated Title IX, the statute that holds schools responsible for eliminating hostile educational environments caused by sexual harassment. Lopez Aguilar is asking the government to investigate whether Yale has ignored the “exhaustive attempts” she and others have made to prove Pogge is a danger to female students.

Her complaint also accuses Yale of violating Title VI, which prohibits race discrimination, on the grounds that Pogge specifically targets foreign women of color who were unfamiliar with how to navigate power in the United States.

The claims against Pogge pose critical questions about how universities manage the power dynamic between faculty members and students…

Lopez Aguilar grew up in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She was a star student who published a book of poems about social justice at the age of 13; when she applied to college, her high school adviser wrote that she would one day be president. She enrolled at Yale in 2006, and took one of Pogge’s classes as a junior. When he agreed to supervise her senior thesis the following year, Lopez Aguilar was thrilled…

“He was my mentor,” Lopez Aguilar said. “Now I see that I was naive, but I thought he actually appreciated me for my intellect. I was flattered that he saw promise in me.”…

Only Pogge and Lopez Aguilar know what happened in that room, and Pogge has insisted to Yale he never made sexual comments or advances to her. But she later told the university that he asked her to join him in his bed to watch a movie, The Constant Gardner, on his laptop, with the lights off. That he said he couldn’t look at her in a black dress she wore because it was too “dangerous.” That he said perhaps she would consider marrying him someday. That he told the hotel staff to call them “Mr. and Mrs. Pogge.” That he mentioned he had been accused of sexual harassment at Columbia, and said she was “the Monica Lewinsky to his Bill Clinton…”

Eventually, Yale offered her a $2,000 settlement, on the condition that she sign away her right to pursue further claims against Pogge or the university — or to tell anyone about Pogge’s behavior from “the beginning of the world to the day of the date of this Release.”

The federal government has said that it’s illegal to use conditional nondisclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases. But Yale treated Lopez Aguilar’s report as a workplace dispute, ignoring her claims of sexual harassment, her recent complaint states.

She signed the agreement. She said she didn’t think she had any recourse…

The following spring, however, 16 other current and former students filed a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education claiming that Yale had failed to properly address their sexual misconduct claims. A formal investigation was opened. (It concluded that Yale had underreported incidents of sexual violence “for a very long time,” among other violations.) Their complaint had nothing directly to do with Pogge, but it motivated Lopez Aguilar to try again…”

Read the whole story here.

Another day, another pro-rape T-shirt on my Facebook feed

Today, on my Facebook feed I saw a photo author Rebecca Hains posted of a T-shirt that reads:

Two Beers Three Margaritas Four Jello Shots Taking Home The Girl Who Drank All the Above PRICELESS

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I’m exhausted by responding to endless images and narratives that normalize rape and the oppression of women. But I guess that’s the point, right? You just run out of energy. We can’t let that happen so I did some research. Turns out the shirt is made by a company called Iron Horse Helmets. Though it can be difficult in these instances to figure out who created the thing you’re trying to protest, a quote on the Iron Horse site makes it pretty clear:

Not afraid to express yourself? Good, our Tees got attitude and something to say. Make a statement or make ’em laugh with T-shirts from Iron Horse Helmets. Got a great idea for the next Iron Horse Helmet T-shirt, send it to us – we won’t give ya nothing for it, but we might use it and will be sure to take all the credit for it.

Please contact Iron Horse Helmets and tell them you’re #NotBuyingIt. Let them know promoting rape isn’t funny, it’s dangerous. I can’t believe that statement is the radical one.

Tweet them:

@IronHorseHelmet

Call them:

1.800.978.9468

Sick of sexism in cartoons? Inspiring course teaches girls to create and publish comics

 

“Lone woman fights bad sexism” is getting old and an excuse to feature sexism in the first place

I miss you guys! I know I’ve been blogging for a couple years that I’m almost done with my book, but I’m REALLY almost done now. Finishing a book (finishing anything?) is so challenging, tying up all the loose ends, letting it go, but I could not be more excited about what I’m writing so that’s pushing me to the end. I haven’t had any time to blog, and I don’t just mean the time it takes me to write these words, but once I pound it out, I get engaged with the whole Internet world and I can get lost for hours on line, it’s a shift of energy and brain cells I can’t afford. I think I’ve written this before but being a mom has truly made me realize how carefully I have to choose where to put my energy. I get how Obama says he wear the same thing every day because his decision making reservoirs are used up. I wish more women could get away with not putting so much time and money and brain cells into how we look without getting mocked or put down, but I’m going off on a tangent here. There is one blog I’m dying to write about Roald Dahl’s BFG which I’m reading with my 7 year old daughter, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I got this amazing comment that I have to repost. The commenter encapsulates why I started my blog, the Minority Feisty, and the issue I have with most stories for kids featuring ” a strong female character” or two or three. Her comment is in response to my blog: If we can imagine talking bunnies as police in ‘Zootopia,’ why can’t we imagine gender equality? Here it is, from sellmaeth:

“Realism? You mean, like lionesses doing all the hunting (lead by a lioness) while the lazy males just eat what the lionesses bring home and murder the cubs fathered by other males?

Or male bees and ants only existing for breeding, and only being about, l don’t know, five animals in the whole hive?

Or … the daddy clownfish in “Finding Nemo” changing to mommy clownfish because that’s what that kind of fish does …

Oh, or anglerfish … tiny males have their mouths fused to the big female.

Haha. You’ll never see that in a movie.

I can imagine equality of the sexes. But I am not paid to write movie plots, I just write fanfic.

You are right, this “lone woman fights bad sexism” is getting old, and an excuse to feature sexism in the first place.

Once played pen&paper roleplay game with a dude who wanted to force me into the “token female who has to fight sexism all the time” role … in a setting that’s explicitly not sexist. (He changed the original game to suit his tastes)

He was a sexist in more ways than that. You are definitely on to something there.”

While I was blogging…

This happened downstairs.

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Aragog’s web, strung across my living room. In case you didn’t know, he’s a giant spider (Harry Potter, Book 2, Chamber of Secrets.)

You may be wondering if I affirmed my daughters’s creativity (all 3 made this) or tore out my hair. I took the picture, crept upstairs, and shut my office door. Soon, their dad will be home.