I just wanted to say thank you so much for making this post on female pilots and the lack of recognition towards important female war heroes. As a female pilot in training, hearing about great female pilots is always encouraging especially when aviation is so dominated by males. It’s disgusting with what happened to the WASPs, it just goes to show the existing sexism towards females in our North American society. I’m so sick of it, but I’m really glad I found your blog.
Thanks again for making this post, shortly after I found it I used the WASPs’ story and made a poem about them for an English Language Arts assignment.
Oh and regarding the movie “Planes” I tried watching it despite having little hope for the story and characters being any bit original. Let’s just say that I gagged when the one female plane glomped the sidekick male plane, and covered him in kisses after he “whooed” her with music the previous night. It made me sick on so many levels, I’m so glad I only watched it online…
Here is the poem she wrote, I love it.
We are the WASP
The women who flew,
60 million miles or more.
Two years of service,
the men demand our lore.
but we didn’t quit.
The men may take glory,
but we still flew in our story.
Our achievements forgotten,
only known by few.
In history books erased,
schools without a trace.
Lest we forget,
The first women of wings.
We are the WASP,
the women who flew.
See how real life inspires art inspires real life?
I assume this commenter is a young woman. Imagine how kids feel when they see sexist scenes like the one in “Planes” again and again, like it’s normal and okay and cute. What kind of art do they make? What kind of imaginary games do they play? At my daughter’s preschool, a three year old girl told the teacher she couldn’t be a pilot, but a pilot’s wife. A three year old. Those limits on her imagination are our fault, grow-ups. Do we really want to train a new generation of children to accept gender stereotypes?
One more time, here’s the preview of Disney’s “Planes.”
Plane One: What’s taking this guy so long? Is he really as good as he says he is?
Plane Two: No, better.
Plane One: Whoa! Who was that?
Plane Three: (Descending fast on top of the other two) Well, hello ladies! Ready to lose?
Plane Three goes on to leave the “ladies” in the dust.
This week, Sweden announced it will implement a movie rating system that will inform viewers if the film is sexist. Sweden will use the Bechdel test which requires that the movie have (1) at least two females (2) who talk to each other (3) about something other than a man.
“The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, all Star Wars movies, The Social Network, Pulp Fiction and all but one of the Harry Potter movies fail this test,” said Ellen Tejle, the director of Bio Rio, an art-house cinema in Stockholm’s trendy Södermalm district…Beliefs about women’s roles in society are influenced by the fact that movie watchers rarely see “a female superhero or a female professor or person who makes it through exciting challenges and masters them”, Tejle said, noting that the rating doesn’t say anything about the quality of the film. “The goal is to see more female stories and perspectives on cinema screens,” he added.
I love the Bechdel test, but I adapted it to rate movies for children to discount the Pink Ghetto. For the Magowan Test for Gender Bias in Children’s Movies (1) at least two females who are friends (2) go on an adventure (3) and don’t wear revealing clothing. Simple requirements, yet surprisingly difficult for Hollywood to even come close to meeting in the many movies put out for little kids every year.
The real problem in movies today isn’t sex, it’s sexism — often coupled with racist caricatures for even greater effect. Imagine if our movie ratings considered sexism and racism as content that children should not be viewing without parental input. Just a thought.
I couldn’t agree more. The lack of attention to the rampant and repetitive sexism in children’s movies is exactly why I started Reel Girl. I rate children’s movies on a scale of 1 – 3 S’s to denote gender stereotyping. I would much rather my kids hear a swear word than witness more narratives and images where females are sexualized and marginalized. When I started Reel Girl, almost four years ago, I couldn’t find anything else on the internet that rated children’s movies and products for sexism.
The common defense of television censorship is the need to protect the young and impressionable. It’s all for the children. So why is it that a national broadcaster in the 21st century feels the need to bleep out a scene of a teenage girl masturbating, while the rest of television is stuffed to the gills with scenes depicting rape, torture, suicide, and sex between middle-aged adults and adolescents?
Sweden gets this hypocrisy and is addressing it. While I am so psyched this country is taking major steps to alert viewers about sexism, I’m upset that the home of the free and the brave remains slow on the uptake. I honestly think my blog, Reel Girl, is the best resource for rating sexism in children’s movies, and I do it for free, when I have a few minutes of time.
It’s not just sexist movies that our country endorses as OK for kids. While the U.S. has made child beauty pageants a national pastime, with TV hits like “Toddlers and Tiaras” and “Honey Boo Boo,” this year, France outlawed the sexist practice. The New York Times reports:
“It is extremely destructive for a girl between the age of 6 and 12 to hear her mother say that what’s important for her is to be beautiful,” Chantal Jouanno, the ban’s champion, said Wednesday. “We are fighting to say: What counts is what they have in their brains.”
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. The report was commissioned by the health minister in response to public outrage over a photo display in Paris Vogue that featured under-age girls in sexy clothes and postures, with high heels, makeup and painted fingernails. The episode drew attention to the increasing use of very young girls in fashion photography and advertisements.
Of course, child beauty pageants don’t just affect the contestants, but everyone who sees the images of these sexualized kids on TV or in magazines.
So why do you think Sweden, France, and the United Kingdom have taken leadership positions in stopping sexism while the U.S. lags behind? I know there’s some bad evidence against us, such as not one female president in our entire history, but aren’t we supposed to support equality and justice for all? Isn’t that our thing?
I have a theory on why the U.S. continues to be a leader in promoting, rather than stopping sexism. While our role as superpower slips as we move further into a global economy, the U.S. remains clearly dominant in one area: culture. American movies dominate the world. While Obama may fall from favor, everyone worldwide knows and adores Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. My guess is that because of this role as a culture shaper, the U.S. and its mutinational companies like Disney and everything Hollywood will be reticent to change and risk losing hegemony over world culture. The irony is, if the U.S. continues to lag behind in recognizing sexism, eventually, it will lose its position as #1 culture shaper. The change towards recognizing sexism, so ubiquitous that its, paradoxically, become invisible, is happening much slower than I would like it too, but it is happening. Sweden, France, and Australia are starting to get it. Women are the world’s largest untapped resource. As long as we keep selling women short, we all lose.
On a positive note, I did just get this email from Hillary Clinton.
No Ceilings has its roots nearly twenty years ago, and we hope it will have an impact just as far into the future.
In 1995, at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, 189 countries set an ambitious goal: Women and girls should be able to participate fully in the progress and prosperity of their societies. I was proud to co-lead the American delegation to the conference and to declare to the world that “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”
We’ve made a lot of progress since that day – more girls are in school, more women hold jobs, and more women serve in public office – but we’re still a long way from the goal of full participation. Women and girls continue to face ceilings that limit what they can achieve and hold back entire economies and societies. More than 100 countries have laws on the books that restrict women’s participation in the economy. Women are nearly half of the world’s population, but hold only 20 percent of all parliamentary seats. Around the world, including in the United States, women tend to earn less than men. And nearly 5 million girls are still married under the age of 15 every year.
The great unfinished business of the 21st century is helping women and girls break through these ceilings and contribute fully in every aspect of life.
I was in Beijing in 1995. I was 26 years old. I felt inspired and hopeful. Maybe what the U.S. needs to risk making change is a female president leading the way.
“The WASPs received a letter informing them that their service was over. Two days after that letter came, “several of us received letters from aircraft companies inviting us to come and be stewardesses,” remembers Rohrer. “I was so angry, I tore that letter up.”
Right now, Wingtip-to-Wingtip, a non-profit is $29,000 short of the funds needed to get a float honoring the WASPs in the Rose Bolw parade. The web site states the deadline is November 8. Please do something to protect women’s history and women’s stories, so we can pass it on to our daughters and sons. Don’t let these women disappear from our cultural mythology. Donate now.
All of this really makes me think how different our world would look if women were the ones with the money.
Last night, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted anti-choice Texas attorney general Greg Abbott’s request to allow the state’s new, onerous anti-abortion law to go into effect. This means that clinic closures across the state could be imminent.
“This is a dire day for Texas women,” said Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. “Greg Abbott’s insistence that the circuit court reverse the lower court’s injunction clearly demonstrates that he is a foe to women. He does not believe that Texans deserve the right to make their own personal, private medical decisions.”
The Fifth Circuit ruled that Texas’ new admitting privileges requirement will go into effect immediately. Local abortion providers estimate that the law will close 13-15 health centers. Many women will not be able to get the care they need, whether it be abortion care or a whole array of preventive services such as family planning that reproductive- health centers provide.
As Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English explain in the 2010 revision to their classic book “Witches, Midwives & Nurses,” between the 14th and the 17th centuries, tens of thousands of people were killed as witches. Estimates range, but the latest scholarship puts the number at roughly 100,000 people, 80-85 percent of them women. By the mid-16th century there were villages where all but one woman had been killed for practicing witchcraft.
What were these women burned (also strangled, hanged and beheaded) to death for? Well, first, charges often amounted to condemnations of being female and sexual, two qualities that even today, religious fundamentalists of all stripes tend to deplore. Elaborate fantasies about women engaging in intercourse with the devil were a regular feature of witch trials. Second, women were persecuted for associating with other women, accused of forming covens or holding parties with Satan. Women who came together to celebrate holidays or to share information, trade herbs, gossip or otherwise, you know, hang out together were considered dangerous. Third, women were punished for being poor and helping the poor. As Ehrenreich and English point out, the church was inclined to instruct the desperately impoverished, who made up the vast bulk of the population, to bypass the ministrations of women healers and look to the afterlife for solace while, at the same time, supporting medicine and medical help for the nobility…
Read the whole post, it shows how the fear of women and persecution of witches always rose during challenges to authority, such as when the scientific revolution and enlightenment weakened the church, witchburning was pushback.
I get that for men as a group, it must have been pretty scary, since the beginning of time, before sex was even connected to reproduction, to know women are the ones who have the power to give birth. Continuing the species is a pretty important role. I also understand that women have tremendous sexual power over men, and that can be scary, too. It makes sense to me that for men, as a group, recognizing this female power, along with allowing women financial, social and political power can be be terrifying. But, this is the year 2013. It’s time to get over fear of female power. This paranoia is hurting the world, our kids, and the potential of the human race. Everyone has to face their fears and move past them. Texas, it’s your turn. Stop the witch hunt.
Often in politics there is an automatic, unspoken, assumption that only one woman can run at a time. For example, stories about Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren that speculate about whether she will or won’t run for president, generally take it as a given that Warren can’t possibly enter the Democratic primary if Hillary Clinton decides to run. But why is this the automatic assumption? Warren is an utterly different kind of politician with a distinct biography and a passionate following. She and Clinton have even had substantive disagreements in the past about bank regulation, one of Warren’s central issues. Nobody ever told Howard Dean to get out of the race because John Kerry was running. What law dictates that there can be only one woman per major race at a time?
This limited perception dominating our cultural imaginary reminded me of the comment from the head animator of “Frozen” that “having a film with two hero female characters was really tough.” Here they are, and I’ve got to say, I can barely tell the difference between them. Now do you think the similarity is because females look so much alike in the real world, or do you think the issue is the artist’s limited perception of how female heroes can look?
I’ve been blogging for a long time about the Minority Feisty, a term describing the current state of the fantasy world and the real one: strong females are allowed to exist, but only in a limited way. Today, if you see a movie for children, most feature a male protagonist, while females, who are, in fact, half of the kid population, are presented as if they were a minority. Within that minority, there will be a strong female or two who reviewers will invariably call “feisty.” I call these characters the “Minority Feisty.” “Frozen” is one of 4 movies for children in 2013 with a female protagonist, while 21 feature a male protagonist. And still, in our feminist movie, we have the animator say how hard it was for him to make two females and they look like this? I know they’re sisters, but come on.
So here’s a few more questions I have: Why are we conditioning a new generation of kids to accept the rule of the Minority Feisty? Why is the fantasy world, where anything is possible, so sexist?
And how many of our kids have seen images like this one?
Check that out: four powerful women pictured together and their facial features are different. From In This Together Media:
“The Four Justices” was unveiled today at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.. Painted by Nelson Shanks, the portrait depicts the four female Supreme Court Justices, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The painting was commissioned to show young women what is possible.
If our children grew up surrounded by images like this, how do you think it would affect who they are and become, how they perceive themselves and each other?
In music, we love the idea of the screwed-up, shooting-up. fucked-up artist. The one bleeding in the garret having cut his own ear off. Jay-Z is a new kind of 21st-century artist where the canvas is not just the 12 notes, the wicked beats, and a rhyming dictionary in his head. It’s commerce, it’s politics, the fabric of the real as well as the imagined life.
Stephen Mitchell in Can Love Last, the Fate of Romance Over Time
It is the hallmark of the shift in basic psychoanalytic sensibility that the prototype of mental health for many contemporary psychoanalyitc authors is not the scientist but the artist. A continual objective take on reality is regarded as neither possible nor valuable in contrast to the ability to develop and move in and out of different perspectives of reality.
New York Times, October:
Public narratives about a career make a difference. The most common career aspiration named on Girls Who Code applications is forensic science. Like Allen, few if any of the girls have ever met anyone in that field, but they’ve all watched “CSI,” “Bones” or some other show in which a cool chick with great hair in a lab coat gets to use her scientific know-how to solve a crime. This so-called “CSI” effect has been credited for helping turn forensic science from a primarily male occupation into a primarily female one.
Jezebel reacting to New York Times piece:
The New York Times today would like to suggest that storytelling is powerful, that, in the whole art/life dynamic, it’s life that imitates art, not the other way around, at least not when it comes to kids imagining viable career paths for themselves.
Well, when I was nine years old Star Trek came on. I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, ‘Come here, mum, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!’ I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be.
In the fantasy world, anything is possible, so why do little kids see so few female heroes and female protagonists on TV and in the movies? While boy “buddy stories” are everywhere you look, why is it so hard to see two females working together to save the world? Why are females, half of the kid population, presented as a minority in fantasy world? Why are TV shows, movies, and books about boys “for everyone” while shows and movies about girls “just for girls?” When we pass on stories to our kids, what are we teaching them about gender, about who they are right now and who they will become?
One more quote for you from neuroscientist, Lise Eliot:
“Babies are born ready to absorb the sounds, grammar, and intonation of any language, but then the brain wires it up only to perceive and produce a specific language. After puberty, its possible to learn another language but far more difficult. I think of gender differences similarly. The ones that exist become amplified by the two different cultures that boys and girls are immersed in from birth. This contributes to the way their emotional and cognitive circuits get wired.”
Eliot believes: “Simply put, your brain is what you do with it.”So let’s all use our brains to imagine gender equality in the fantasy world, take actions to manifest that vision, and see what happens next. I bet it’ll be amazing.
Jon Stewart asks Malala Yousafzai, the 16 yr old activist for girls education who was shot in the head by the Taliban, how she found the courage to speak out. She replies:
Why should I wait for someone else? Why should I be looking to the government, to the army, that they would help us. Why don’t I raise my voice? Why don’t we speak up for our rights? The girls of Swat, they spoke up for their rights. I started writing daily. I spoke out on every media channel that I could, and I raised my voice on every platform that I could. I said I need to tell the world what is happening in Swat.
Malala didn’t wait around for someone to else to tell her story for her. She rescued herself through the act of writing and speaking. She risked telling the truth about her life and telling it publicly, and in doing so, she is changing the world. Please show this video to your children and teach them to do the same. I can’t wait to get Malala’s book and show it to my daughters as well.
I am so mad at this idiotic government. What are we supposed to tell our kids about conflict-resolution? Seriously. What a load of hypocrites grown-ups are.
Last week, my Fifth grade daughter’s overnight trip on the Balclutha ship, that she’s been looking forward to for years, was cancelled. Today, I found out the annual sandcastle event, where all the Fifth graders in San Francisco get together on the beach for a massive sand-castle building competition, has been cancelled. That’s two landmark events of Fifth grade, not happening. My daughter’s experience of this year is dramatically altered because of this shutdown. And of course, what’s happening to her is echoed all around the country in ways much more serious and horrible.
It is amazing to me that people can be so selfish and hurt this country and its citizens in a multitude of ways all to disobey a law that is already in place. I’m speechless.
Today, I had a field trip to the Balclutha, but sadly the park was closed because of the government shutdown. My teachers scheduled the trip a year ago, and it is a very popular trip, so we’re probably not going to be able to reschedule. I feel disappointed because my whole class was really looking forward to it. We were going to get to cook food on the boat and stay overnight. We were all going to have jobs on the ship and get to go out in boat which would have been really fun, so I hope we can reschedule. Do you think there’s a way we can make that happen? We all feel so sad we couldn’t go, because today just happened to be a bad day.
The Democrats think everyone should have health care which is good. But the Republicans also have a point. We don’t want to lose all of our money. But I don’t think we would. If Americans are healthy, that is good for the country.
So many people who are hired by the government have lost their jobs today. I hope that the Republicans and Democrats and all the other people in the government come to a compromise soon so people can ask get their jobs back and everything can go back to normal. I hope we can go on our field trip to the Balclutha.
Here are my daughter’s bags, all packed up to for an overnight trip on the Balclutha boat with her Fifth grade class, a trip they’ve been looking forward to for years. Last night, just after 9PM, we got an email that the trip was cancelled.
I just went to the Balclutha site to get the link and look what came up.
Because of the federal government shutdown, all national parks are closed and National Park Service webpages are not operating.
I am so disgusted with our so-called government right now. Great lesson for children on how to resolve conflicts. If you don’t like a law– or a rule– throw a tantrum! Jon Stewart explains the situation:
Did you see the Giants game on Sunday? Okay, they lost 31-7. And you know what the Giants didn’t say after that game? ‘If you don’t give us 25 more points by midnight on Monday, we will shut down the [bleep] NFL.
I guess I’ll be showing my daughter this video tonight. It’s clearer on the cause of this shutdown than anything else I’ve seen.