Sexualizing toys hits new low: Barbie makes cover of SI’s swimsuit issue

Sports Illustrated announced Barbie will be on the cover of the magazine’s 50th anniversary swimsuit issue.

AP_barbie_sports_illustrated_sr_140212_16x9_992

Sports Illustrated, do you realize every time my 4 year old or 7 year old daughter sees the cover of your magazine, she will think that it’s made for her? About her?

I guess you do, because Target will be selling a limited edition of the SI Barbie to coincide with this issue of the magazine.

So grown-ups, once again, are teaching kids that females are valued for how their bodies look while males are valued for what their bodies can do. I am so fucking disgusted. I cannot believe the sexualization of girls is this mainstream, accepted, normal, and OK.

The Atlantic reports:

In the 57 years since Sports Illustrated‘s founding, a woman has appeared on a (non-swimsuit issue) cover 66 times—on average, just over once a year.

 

Your tagline for the campaign is #unapologetic. So you’re not sorry– proud rather– that you are contributing to a culture where we are all so used to girls being sexualized? Do you get the damage you are helping to create?

The American Psychological Association reports:

There are several components to sexualization, and these set it apart from healthy sexuality. Sexualization occurs when

  • a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
  • a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
  • a person is sexually objectified — that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
  • sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.

All four conditions need not be present; any one is an indication of sexualization. The fourth condition (the inappropriate imposition of sexuality) is especially relevant to children. Anyone (girls, boys, men, women) can be sexualized. But when children are imbued with adult sexuality, it is often imposed upon them rather than chosen by them. Self-motivated sexual exploration, on the other hand, is not sexualization by our definition, nor is age-appropriate exposure to information about sexuality.

 

Statistics on sexual abuse show 1 in 5 girls is sexually abused.

Sports Illustrated, how can you be #unapologetic?

Update: Love this comment on Reel Girl’s Facebook page from RG fan Sarah Schiebel:

To me this just proves Barbies are NOT really children’s toys at all! Maybe that’s what they are “unapologetic” about? As in “Haha, suckers! You’ve been buying your daughters miniature sex dolls for 50+ years!”

 

In another sexist cover, Time uses porn cliche for Hillary Clinton story

In the new Time, to illustrate the cover article “Can Anyone Stop Hillary?” the magazine uses cliche porn imagery, showing a man trapped beneath a woman’s shoe.

g9510.20_Hillary.Cover.indd

Seriously, Time?

What did you use for inspiration, this YouTube video? (One of thousands just like it.)

Or perhaps, this shot from a porn site? (One of millions just like it)

femdom-erotica-domme-trampling-her-boy-toy-with-high-heels-498x441

With so many options, I picked this image because its caption “Ending the sexual dark age,” listed in the category “dominatrix in heels standing on male slave’s chest” seems to echo the point Time’s cover attempts to make.

The Hillary Clinton cover isn’t the first time a “news weekly” has borrowed from porn. There was this cover of Newsweek. The subject of the story: great food.

newsweekcover

Time also did a story featuring the “best” chefs. No porn, but the magazine opted for this pic. Hmmm…what’s missing here?

godsoffood

That’s right, Time’s “Gods of Food” story featured ZERO women.

Wouldn’t it be nice if “news” magazines weren’t sexist? What would our news look like then? Does anyone even know?

Want to see a celebrity in an inappropriate costume? Fergie’s ‘pageant girl’ tops my list

Want to see a celebrity wearing an inappropriate costume? Fergie’s ‘Pageant Girl’ from Halloween 2012 makes me ill.

fergie-halloween-2011

If you care at all about the sexualization of  little girls, why would a grown woman dress up as a little girl dressed up as a woman? (Assuming that is, little girls with heavy make-up and curled hair aspire to imitate older beauty queens and not Martians.) Talk about blurring boundaries between sexualizing little girls and adults. This costume makes my head spin, besides making me want to vomit. But here’s what Heidi Klum thinks of it, as quoted in Us Magazine:

Accessories can put a costume over the top! Fergie couldn’t have looked any better as a pageant girl.

 

While we in America celebrate rock stars for sexualizing kids, France outlawed child beauty pageants earlier this year. The New York Times reported:

Pageants are popular in smaller towns across France, though far less frequent and less intense than in the United States. And France has no equivalent of American reality shows like “Toddlers & Tiaras” and its spinoff, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” that feature very young contestants.

Still, the intense focus on beauty here, combined with a surge of images of sexualized, prepubescent girls, has raised fears that the pageants could take on the over-the-top quality of American contests…

Ms. Jouanno, a former junior minister for environment and a senator representing Paris from the center-right party U.D.I., wrote a report on the “hypersexualization” of children in 2011.

Apparently, the USA has a long, long way to go to protect, honor, and value American girls. Bad move, Fergie.

When Hasbro sexes up My Little Pony, parents need to say ‘ENOUGH’

Coming to your daughters this August from Hasbro, Equestria Girl. First the Tooth Fairy, now this. Can our kids choices possibly get any more homogenized?

Huffington Post reports on the evolution of My Little Pony:

Equestria Girls,” dolls that are pony-girl hybrids (think “goth” Barbies with blue or green skin and a colorful ponytail) along with a special DVD to be released in August. Per a press release, the humanized figures are supposed to represent My Little Pony characters as teenage girls in high school.

The image on the left is an original My Little Pony from 1983, on the right, is 2013′s Equestria Girl.
my little pony

The release goes on to describe these characters with words like “glamour,” “stylish,” “ultra-chic,” and it is noted that each doll features her own signature “cutie splash,” an individual design that is similar to the “cutie mark” on her pony alter ego.

 

According to the New York Times, there’s much more involved with the Equestria Girls roll out than a DVD:

The new property will get the red-carpet treatment when it premieres as a full-length animated feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June. The movie, created by Hasbro Studios, the company’s production division, will then be released in more than 200 theaters nationwide; its trailer will start appearing in theaters on Wednesday.

There will also be a television debut on the Hub network. Do you see how narratives on movies and TV sell products? Are, in fact, created to sell products? Do you see how important it is for girls and boys to see narratives featuring strong, female protagonists?

What really sucks about Equestria Girl is that the “My Little Pony” TV show, while relegated to the Pink Ghetto, features 6 female protags who often get adventurous and exciting storylines. The ultra-skinny, micro-mini clad Equestria Girl above is based on Rainbow Dash. She looks like this.

rainbowdash

On the current show, Rainbow Dash is a jock/ athlete and the fastest flyer in Equestria. My Little Pony fan Kya writes on Reel Girl’s Facebook page, “I feel like if the show’s characters were real they’d be just as horrified to see what they’ve been made into as we are!”

Peggy Orenstein’s reaction, emailed to the HuffPo:

It’s up to parents and those who give a hang about girls actual development and well-being to say absolutely neigh. You want a sexualized, self-objectifying girl? Give her sexualized, objectified dolls. You don’t? Have some conversations with the other parents in your community about the potential impact of self-sexualization and self-objectification on girls’ development — including negative body image, eating disorders, depression, low self-esteem, poor sexual choices, etc. — and choose from the many other toy options that are rising up in response to this inappropriate trend.

Seriously, come on parents! Stop buying into this shit. Speak out against the sexualization of kids. It’s dangerous.

Reel Girl rates Equestria Girl toys ***SSS*** for major gender stereotyping.

Watch this former Disney exec try to hijack your kid’s imagination

This video is so sick and creepy. Holy shit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=F6cTA9o7rSs

Sign this petition to keep these super-skinny, Barbie-princess clone “Real Tooth Fairies” far away from your child’s developing brain.

realtoothfairy small FINAL

Update: Real Tooth Fairies removed the video from YouTube. Guess they really didn’t want you to see it. Here’s the transcript.

Facebook helps debunk myth of America’s ‘post-feminism’

YAY! Facebook FINALLY recognizes: misogyny exists. It’s real, FB says, and that’s a giant social media step in the right direction. In 2013, gender-based hate and violence is epidemic and still, for the most part, accepted as normal.

I’m  44 years old, a member of the notoriously apathetic Generation X. Since I started speaking out about feminist issues, back in my twenties (not lazy or apolitical, by the way, didn’t really know anyone who was) I’ve been told sexism doesn’t exist. We live in a post-feminist world. What could American women, not to mention white, educated, privileged ones, possibly be whining about? We weren’t under Taliban rule for goodness sake. Not that college kids, all of us so well versed in South Africa’s racist history, had any clue about the gender apartheid of the Taliban. And if we had known of it? Gender bias, while kind of a shame, was just a cultural difference, not a political issue. “Relative ethics” was the term my sociology professor taught us for female genital mutilation: Who were we, in all our privilege to judge?

So for years, Facebook has been receiving reports on posts depicting gender based violence. While the company actively bans religious or racist hate speech, here’s just one example of its past response to misogyny.

facebook

(via Amazing Women Rock . If you go to the link, and you have a strong stomach, you can see many more.)

So why did Facebook change its tune, pledging to take misogyny seriously? Obviously, in no small part, because of a well-run, well organized campaign by Women, Action, and Media. THANK YOU WAM and thank you to all of you who responded. In days, 5,000 emails and 60,000 Tweets went to Facebook’s advertisers who started to take their ads off the site. Facebook, if anyone could, saw where all this viral action was headed. Women have been using social media to change the world for some time now.

In the Nation, Jessica Valenti writes :

Jaclyn Friedman, executive director of WAM… points to the outrage over the social media-documented rape in Steubenville, gang rapes in India and the suicides of several young rape victims as indications that Americans may have had enough of the consequences of rape culture. While she’s still unsure that the country is ready for widespread change, she believes “there’s a critical mass right now; it could be a tipping point moment”…

But this glaring, in-your-face misogyny may be the spark that pushes culture forward—there’s no arguing with these images, these court cases, these stories. Maybe it needed to get a lot worse—or more visible—for it to get better. For years, the most common anti-feminist talking point has been that American women don’t have it all that bad. That we should stop complaining and focus on women in other countries who are “really” oppressed.

But today, telling women that sexism doesn’t exist anymore is a really hard sell. Thanks to the Internet and the speed at which stories move—not to mention the vile sexism in most online spaces—any American woman who spends more than five minutes onlines hears about or experiences misogyny every day.

 

I started this blog, Reel Girl, because I have 3 daughters, and I was so horrified by the gender stereotyping marketed to kids like it’s okay, like it’s normal, and then how everyone participates in it. It’s so sad that sexism, packaged and sold to kids, is so ubiquitous that, paradoxically, it’s become invisible. I feel like 90% of my work is just pointing out that sexism exists. I’ve posted this a couple times, but here it is again:

Violence against women is epidemic. A first step to abuse is always dehumanizing the victim. Propaganda, in the form of images and narratives, effectively dehumanizes on a mass scale. Here’s some propaganda marketed to kids:

 

Images/ narratives of Jews circa 1938

nazibook

 

Africans circa 1931

tin_tin_in_congo11

 

Females circa 2013

bratzwallpaper-source_4cj

It’s easy to look back on history and wonder: How did people ever put up with that? I’d never buy into it. But what are you participating in right now that is completely accepted, not to mention celebrated, by our culture?

 

Since my post, I’ve gotten comments asking how dare I compare sexism to racism and antisemitism. I’ve been rebuked for taking sexism seriously for a long time. When I was a senior in high school, I was talking to a good friend of mine about sexism, and he said to me, indignantly, “A woman has never been lynched for being a woman!” Maybe, maybe not, but women have been murdered throughout history for being women. Does getting raped or sexually assaulted qualify as pretty bad treatment?

Here’s a classic comment from Chinwe:

What I find embarrassing, shameful, and flat out appalling is you comparing the current state of girls in 2013 to the days that Blacks and Jews were stereotyped, discriminated, and killed in the early 20th century. Girls and women have gained so many rights in the last 40+ years and you compared its ”oppression” to Blacks and Jews in the 1930s.

Really?

That’s absolutely and utterly lazy comparison and analysis.

Years ago, the Wall Street Journal used to have a Bad Writing Contest where readers can submit writing that’s truly awful. Too bad they don’t have this contest because I would personally submit this post–and your blog–to judges of the Bad Writing Contest and you would win hands down.

Honestly, you need a new hobby because you come across really immature, out-of-touch and bitter towards the world. Once again, do yourself a favor and enroll in an English 101 class at your local community college and learn how to write. Everytime I see a new post, 1) you are embarrassing yourself and 2) you put yourself further down the cultural rabbit hole by making piss poor arguments.

*waiting for your condescending reply*

You are pretty predictable, ya know

Huh, think Chinwe heard about the three women sexually assaulted for 10 years in Cleveland? How their captor, Ariel Castro, got out of domestic abuse charges years earlier because his ex-wife’s lawyer didn’t even show up to prosecute? Or perhaps Chinwe knows that in America, 3 women are murdered by a domestic partner every day? And still, our congress fought over passing the Violence Against Women Act?

I guess that’s my sarcastic, predictable, and, of course, poorly written reply.

We don’t live in a post-feminist world. We never have. According to the Geena Davis Institute, at the rate we’re going, will might in about 700 years. Don’t you think that’s too long for your children to wait?

 

 

 

 

Calling it out: Backwards, sexist propaganda of 2013

Let Toys Be Toys for Girls and Boys posted this image on its Facebook page:

backwards

This product was seen at the John Lewis store in High Wycombe. Not familiar with this UK institution, I looked it up to find it has almost 650,00 likes.

I imagine the day this product is on display in a museum, an artifact. People will look at it, baffled, not even understanding. Students will study how backwards the world was in 2013, wondering how and why our culture allowed and accepted sexism as if it were okay or funny or normal. Can you imagine a game showing a Caucasian brain battling an African brain along with a bunch of stereotyped categories?

Today, Salon posts: On Facebook, hating a religious or ethnic minority gets you banned, but hating half of humanity gets you Likes.” Women, Action, and Media wrote an open letter to Facebook detailing how pics of breastfeeding women get banned when images of rape don’t.

The latest global estimate from the United Nations Say No to Violence Campaign is that the percentage of women and girls who have experienced violence in their lifetimes is now up to an unbearable 70%. In a world in which this many girls and women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, allowing content about raping and beating women to be shared, boasted and joked about contributes to the normalisation of domestic and sexual violence, creates an atmosphere in which perpetrators are more likely to believe they will go unpunished, and communicates to victims that they will not be taken seriously if they report.

Here’s an ex-girlfriend shooting target seen at an NRA convention this Spring.

exgirlfriend

Violence against women is epidemic. A first step to abuse is always dehumanizing the victim. Propaganda, in the form of images and narratives, effectively dehumanizes on a mass scale. Here’s some propaganda marketed to kids:

Images/ narratives of Jews circa 1938

nazibook

 

Africans circa 1931

tin_tin_in_congo11

 

Females circa 2013

 

bratzwallpaper-source_4cj

 

It’s easy to look back on history and wonder: How did people ever put up with that? I’d never buy into it. But what are you participating in right now that is completely accepted, not to mention celebrated, by our culture?

meridamakeover

Propaganda works in steps and stages. The product marketed may not be as extreme as a bloody, scantily clad woman, but it’s likely to be a sexualized female, one that is, remarkably, often advertised to kids.

So tell John Lewis to stop selling sexism or join Women, Action, and Media’s campaign and to get Facebook sponsors to stop promoting violence against women or post on Target’s site that you’re not buying its new doll. Please do something for your kids. Take action to end everyday sexism because it numbs all of us to the mass objectification of women.

 

 

After massive protest, Disney pulls new Merida from site

Exciting news! Today, Rebecca Hains, blogger and media studies professor, reports:

“As of today, Disney has quietly pulled the 2D image of Merida from its website, replacing it with the original Pixar version. Perhaps we’ll be spared an onslaught of sexy Merida merchandise yet.”

YAY! Check out the link, it’s true! BRAVE Merida is back.

I guess Disney was right to be so terrified of creating a strong, BRAVE, female protagonist (along with Pixar studios which hadn’t had ANY female protags before “Brave.”) It looks like Merida could be turning Disney’s franchise on it’s head. That’s pretty damn heroic.

Another mistake Disney made with “Brave?” They hired a female director. They fired her, but it was too late. Brenda Chapman wrote “Brave” based on her daughter. She was furious with the character’s transformation and wrote publicly about Disney’s terrible mistake.

Of the debacle Hains writes:

That’s right: Although Merida was created by a woman as a role model for girls, the male-dominated consumer product division at Disney has ignored the character’s intended benefits for young girls, sexualizing her for profit. Compared with her film counterpart, this new Merida is slimmer and bustier. She wears makeup, and her hair’s characteristic wildness is gone: It has been volumized and restyled with a texture more traditionally “pretty.” Furthermore, she is missing her signature bow, arrow, and quiver; instead, she wears a fashionable sash around her sparkly, off-the-shoulder gown. (As Peggy Orenstein noted when she broke the news of the redesign, “Moms tell me all the time that their preschool daughters are pitching fits and destroying their t-shirts because ‘princesses don’t cover their shoulders.’” I’ve heard the same from parents, as well.)

Is the sexualized  image of Merida gone for good? Has Disney learned a lesson? Or will that lesson be: No more strong female characters leading a film! No more female directors writing about their daughters! Keep the females weak and quiet!

It’s up to you. This could be a turning point. Parents, please use your voice and your wallet to keep strong, heroic females showing up in narratives and images marketed to your kids. Right now, girls are missing from children’s media and when they do appear, they’re sexualized. This is normal. Not healthy, but tragically, perfectly normal.

Yesterday, Melissa Wardy posted this image on her Pigtail Pals Facebook page, reminding us Merida’s new image was not created in a vacuum.

pigtails

Objectifying and sexualizing girls is dangerous. A first step to abuse is always dehumanizing the victim. Propaganda, in the form of images and narratives, effectively dehumanizes on a mass scale.

Images/ narratives of Jews circa 1938

nazibook

Africans circa 1931

tin_tin_in_congo11

Females circa 2013

bratzwallpaper-source_4cj

 

It’s easy to look back on history and wonder: How did people ever put up with that? I’d never buy into it, not to mention expose my child to it. But what are you participating in right now that is completely accepted, not to mention celebrated, by our culture?

Be part of the solution. Demand narratives with strong female characters for your kids.

Update: New Merida may be off Disney’s site but she’s showing up all over the place including Target. Below is Target’s web page.

meridatarget

 

 

 

King Fergus of ‘Brave’ demands to know: ‘Where’s my makeover?’

Since his daughter, Princess Merida, made national headlines with her makeover– she’s skinnier with tamed curls, a new off the shoulder gown, and the belt that once held her quiver has morphed into a fashion sash– King Fergus wants to know: “Where’s my makeover?”

"BRAVE"

Fergus says, “It’s not fair. I’m the King! Why are princesses always the ones who get to look pretty? Some would call me fat, hairy, and I’m missing a leg for goodness sake. Where’s my stylist?” Throughout DunBroch, Fergus has posted these before and after pics of Merida:

meridamakeover

Now, King Fergus wants to know:  “Artists, what can you do for me?”

Fergus won’t be getting a makeover because male characters are allowed to occupy a whole range of looks (including rats or planes) and personalities. Male characters aren’t clones. Please sign the petition to Disney: “Say No to the Merida Makeover, Keep Our Hero Brave.” (100,000 signatures and counting!)

Disney destroys Brave’s Merida with sexy makeover #NotBuyingIt

From the Mary Sue:

“On May 11th Brave‘s Merida will be officially crowned as the 11th Disney Princess, the impact of which is that Disney will be selling more stuff with her on it, I guess? Anyway. Along with the “coronation ceremony,” to be held at Walt Disney World, Merida’s gotten a new redesign…”

A great summary from Toward the Stars:

towardthestars

Here’s one of my favorite pre-botox, pre-makeover Merida expressions.

merida_

Pithy analysis from Peggy Orenstein on the eventual fate of way too many of Disney’s female characters:

Because, in the end, it wasn’t about being brave after all. It was about being pretty…I’m especially creeped out by Belle who appears to have had major surgery… In addition to everything else, they’re pushing the brown girls slowly but surely to the edges…

I’ve always said that it’s not about the movies. It’s about the bait-and-switch that happens in the merchandise, and the way the characters have evolved and proliferated off-screen. Maybe the problem is partly that these characters are designed in Hollywood, where real women are altering their appearance so regularly that animators, and certainly studio execs, think it’s normal.

The disease of homogeneous, anorexic, botoxed, generic females has spread worldwide, through these kinds of images. Did you see the Reddit story about the Korean beauty queens: “Has plastic surgery made these beauty queens all look the same? Koreans complain about pageant clones.” Talk about creepy.

beautyqueens

One commenter wrote:

‘The surgery takes away their individuality and uniqueness and its sad. Most are beautiful without it but telling them that their Korean ethnic features are in fact lovely is as effective as screaming at a brick wall.

‘They wont believe you because they’ve been brainwashed to think westernization of their features is superior, I don’t think they want to look white, but a mix of white and Asian and definitely less Korean.’

This is how one “beauty” queen describes herself:

The student revealed her plastic surgery secret after photos emerged of her looking very different at school, but she said she hadn’t misled anyone.

But she defended her crown telling the Korean media: ‘I never said I was born beautiful.’

 

So sad because this generic look has absolutely nothing to do with “beauty” and everything to do with power, Westernization, capitalism, and status. TV host Stephen Colbert explained it well when he jokingly asked teen writer/ phenom Tavi Gevinson: “But if girls feel good about themselves, how will we sell them things they don’t need?”

How indeed? I was a huge Merida fan, as were my kids, and I bought my three young daughters several figures, books, and posters featuring her because she was cool. Here’s a framed poster over my four year old daughter’s bed so she can see her when she goes to sleep at night, along with her favorite Merida book.

Mposter

Like Merida, my daughter, Rose, has wild, curly hair that she hates to have brushed.

rose

I hope my daughter never feels that she has to look generic and homogeneous in order to be “beautiful.” I hope she always knows that her beauty comes from her spirit. That’s not some meaningless cliche. There’s nothing “attractive” about frozen-faced clones. Disney’s new, madeover Merida has absolutely nothing to offer my kids. I won’t be buying ANY merchandise with this awful, new image.

Reel Girl rates the new Merida ***SSS*** for major stereotyping.

Please Tweet @Disney We want Merida brave, not botoxed. New, madeover Merida is bad for kids #NotBuyingIt