Nine out of ten abortions take place inside the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, meaning that the Newsweek fetus represents the upper end of the range, not the average; in many cases, the embryo being removed is less “futuristic Gerber baby,” more “lentil-sized clump of cells.”
This is objective news, the so-called liberal news media? Covering reproductive rights by showing a cartoonish looking baby picture? Sadly, this bias against women is not unusual for newsweekly covers. Here are 2 previous images from Reel Girl’s Hall of Shame.
Can Anyone Imagine a Gender Reversal For This Cover?
Anne Scott was molested by the school’s athletic trainer, Al Gibbs.There were 4 other girls who told school authorities they were also molested by Gibbs. Apparently, Gibbs was known not only for molesting the girls but for taking pictures them when they were naked or in their underwear and showing those photos to male students at the school.
When Scott filed suit against St. George’s, the school’s lawyers told the court that she was either lying or that the 15 year old having consensual sex with 67 year old, apparently oblivious to statutory rape laws. The Globe reports:
School attorneys also sought to change it from a “Jane Doe” case and reveal Scott’s real name. “Maybe people will come forward and say the plaintiff is a, with all due respect to those in the court, has a tendency to lie, and that would be relevant, also,” said defense attorney William P. Robinson III of the Providence firm Edwards & Angell. (In 2004, Robinson was appointed to the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Robinson did not return calls from the Globe.)
But Judge Jacob Hagopian of the US District Court in Rhode Island denied the school’s motion to dismiss and admonished its attorneys that the teenager could not consent to such “detestable” acts. “It violates the criminal laws of the United States,” he said.
In the end, it was Scott who dropped the case. School attorneys had investigated and deposed her parents and were preparing to depose neighbors. “I was 27 years old, I had struggled, and then they came down on my family like a ton of bricks,” she said. “I just wanted it all to go away.”
St. George’s would not agree to the dismissal unless Scott signed a gag order that prohibited her from speaking about the case. MacLeish advised against it.
“The school did everything they could to intimidate Anne,” said MacLeish, of the Cambridge law firm of Clark, Hunt, Ahern & Embry. “It worked.”
While St. George’s is currently running an investigation into the abuse, the Boston Globe reports that the lead investigator, Will Hannum is a law partner of the legal counsel for the school. Furthermore, comments reported by the Globe from Tony Zane, the head of school at the time, seem to indicate he could’ve worked much harder to prevent Gibbs from finding more victims. Katie Wales, another survivor of Gibb’s abuse tells the Globe:
She said she went to see Zane in 1979 about Gibbs. “He told me I was crazy, making it up to get attention, and that I had to see the school shrink,” Wales said.
Zane claims a different but shockingly apathetic response:
Zane says today that he believed Wales at the time, but thought that she came to him in confidence and “didn’t authorize me to go to Al Gibbs.” He added: “Gibbs declared his innocence until the end, so I was operating on hearsay.”
Though Zane eventually fired Gibbs, he didn’t report the assaults as required by law. When asked by the Globe about his lack of action, Zane replies: “Was that true in Rhode Island in 1980?”
Here’s another Zane quote to the Globe reporter, explaining the school’s aggressive response to Scott’s legal action. “Don’t blame us for trying to defend ourselves against a $10 million lawsuit.”
Wow. Does this guy care at all about the implications of his failure to protect students? Unless I’m missing something, he seems to feel no guilt or remorse about his mistakes, to even realize that the school’s lawyers calling Scott a liar and claiming she may have had consensual sex with a 67 year old were, in fact, mistakes.
A girls dorm at the school is named for Zane’s The Globe reports that the students who brought the suit want the name of the dorm changed and Zane’s portrait taken down from the dining hall.
I went to St. George’s as a freshman in 1983, the last year Zane was at the school. After reading about the St. Paul’s rape the night of ‘senior salute,‘ I blogged about traditions of sexism and female disempowerment at St. George’s. For us, there was Casino Night. All the female “newbies,” mostly freshman and sophomores dressed as bunnies, complete with ears and tails. Here are pictures from my 1984 yearbook:
This is how the boys dressed and acted for the same occasion.
They gambled, we sold them candy. Entitlement, anyone?
One thing I find particularly disturbing about Gibbs’s photos is that he showed them to the male students, all those kids knew this was going on and no one stopped it. The Globe reports:
But one firsthand report came from Katie Wales, class of 1980, who went to see Gibbs after a horseback riding injury. He began to molest her and took photos of her naked in the school’s whirlpool, she says, which he then circulated among the boys at school.
“The taunting by the boys was horrible”
When I went to the school, the typical make up of the student government was one female to four males. Here’s a yearbook pic of the prefects.
Here’s my best friend and me, captioned “Todd’s toys,” he was a senior prefect.
His bequeath in the yearbook? A twenty year sentence. That’s a rape joke.
In my last blog about all this, I wrote I remember that prefect as being a pretty nice guy. I was never raped or sexually assaulted by him or anyone at the school. I was lucky. The school culture under Zane was mostly sexist and not empowering for girls in any way that I can recall. Recently, when telling someone about Casino Night, she asked me if I could have chosen not to wear the bunny suit. I never considered not saying yes.
Here’s my advice to St. George’s:
Take down the portrait of Zane. His apathy was criminal and today, his quotes in the Globe show he hasn’t learned much after all these years. Change the name of the dorm, consider naming it after a woman, maybe Miss Minton? She taught me how to write a killer 5 paragraph essay. Hire a new investigator, one without a conflict of interest, because it seems like you’re only interested in protecting yourself financially. Most importantly, do everything you can to prevent sexual assault and rape from happening again. Commit to ensuring gender equality at the school, meaning: include girls in student government and all positions of leadership and power at the school; make sure women authors and scientists and engineers, philosophers and historians etc are included in the curriculum, appoint women to positions of power and leadership in the faculty as heads of department; hang portraits of female leaders throughout the school; abolish sexist traditions; create a climate where if sexual assault ever occurs, students will feel confident they will be listened to. Educate students about gender equality. Be a leader in this area, stop dragging your feet.
One final thing– when you hire a new investigator, have him contact the expelled kids. I was kicked out in 1985 (for smoking a cigarette in the dorm freshman year and drinking sophomore year.) I never heard got the letter you sent to the alumni about these assaults. While I was lucky, my peers may not have been.
My 3 daughters love ‘Supergirl’ so much they made a video about the hero after watching the new show on CBS. I’ll give you my thoughts soon, but will tell you I’m also a big fan. Last night’s episode had no less than 5 major female characters including a villain, a hero, a CEO, a mom, and a sister. I’m so impressed Supergirl is no Minority Feisty!Here’s the video my kids made.
This review of Sicario was written for Reel Girl by Christine Mathias.
Emily Blunt is now known as one of the actresses who can “do action” — using guns, getting physical, and, in most cases, be the only woman amongst a cadre of men in films that like to go boom.
She was the star of “Edge of Tomorrow” despite Tom Cruise’s presence (see it, by the way, it’s fantastic.) But in spite of the fact that a zillion actresses other than Blunt, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, and Angelina Jolie could definitely carry an action movie or thriller, studios have yet to catch up. Blunt herself told a story on Stephen Colbert recently that the producers of “Sicario” offered to double the budget if her character, FBI Agent Kate Macer, was rewritten as a man. Obviously the filmmakers declined, which contributed to my decision to plunk down some cash for it. If they fought so hard for Macer to be a woman, it must have feminist undertones, yes? She must stand out in some way as the heroic badass? Not really in the way I was expecting, but that’s OK.
The movie is very, very good — an examination of drug cartels, the law enforcement on both sides of the border that gets wrapped up in the international narcotics trade, and the price paid by all involved when money and politics clashes with horrific violence. A scene in which illegal immigrants snatched up by police or border patrol await their chartered-bus rides back to Mexico puts a pretty grave face on the immigration issue that is currently fodder for Presidential candidates. It’s relevant, gripping stuff. The tension comes from the movie’s silences — it’s spare, from front to back. Long moments of quiet, wide shots of Juarez, Mexico and the stretches of land between “us” and “them.” People think in this movie, and the director lets you see it. You see ideas dawn on people’s faces, you see characters deciding what to lie about and what to ‘fess up to, and it makes for a tense, gently twisty film. Kate Macer is FBI called to join a task force of sorts, but we don’t understand why, exactly, until it’s clear she’s the audience cypher with a bit more gun-handling skill. We are her— throughout the movie you can see her considering every angle, trying to figure out everyone’s motivations, as we are.
So ostensibly she’s the center of the movie, the eyes through which we see, the person we relate to the most, and she’s given much more to do than almost anyone. Seriously, not a lot of dialogue going on. Blunt plays Macer quietly, and it challenged my expectations of what a “strong” woman’s role can be — as in, it can still be strong if the character doesn’t always have the upper hand, or if she’s shown portraying vulnerability, or if she’s kind of an introvert. The important thing, to me, was that the other characters, the male characters, treated her like an equal. No overt sexism, no mollycoddling, Macer is respected for her hard work and is, in fact, chosen for her tactical experience. But the movie pulls a big bait-and-switch that I won’t give away— suffice to say that, in the end, it isn’t Kate Macer’s story. Which is too bad.
Christine Mathias rates “Sicario” HH/ S
Reel Girl ratings system: movies can get 1 to 3 H’s for “Heroine” and 1 – 3 S’s for gender stereotyping. H’s are good, S’s are bad.
Christine Mathias is a broadcaster, producer, writer, and Feminist Malcontent who has decided to make life as uncomfortable as possible for Supporters of the Patriarchy. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @NerdAlert19
On 10.20.15, students and alumni of the Mills College Book Art program got word that within 30 days the program might be completely cut. The program has existed for over 35 years, benefiting hundreds of students in the fields of book arts, bookbinding, and printmaking, and letterpress. My mother, Jill Tarlau, is a bookbinder and a graduate of the Book Art program at Mills. She wrote the blog below in response to the threat to end the program. Known for her work with needlepoint, the photos are of books she’s bound. At the end of the post, there’s a link to a petition to save the program. As of this posting, over 2,500 have signed. Please consider adding your name.
In 1983 my teenager daughters advised me to get a life.
It was the first year of the Book Art Masters program at Mills College, where I had been as an undergraduate from 1961-1965. As an English major I had been, of course, into books.
At that time my focus was on content, but I already cared about design, preferring to read Moby Dick in an attractive, hard cover edition for a little more money rather than struggle through yellow paper, gray type, and a spine that disassembled after the first 100 pages. Almost twenty years later, it was time to discover what contributed to book design.
Mills had unique advantages, already gifted the Florence Walter bindery, already famous examples of beautiful books in the Bender room, already its own type fonts and press. Also the Bay Area had for decades been a center for some of the greatest American fine presses, (The Allen, Tuscany Alley and Arion) several still functioning. Commercial publishers such as North Point employed experts willing to discuss with our class cover design, layout. What a lucky spot for me.
My degree took three years to complete. That final printing project is a story written my youngest daughter, illustrated by my oldest, with notes on the author set in type letter by letter on the back cover by my middle child.
Out of the many disciplines learned, I chose to pursue bookbinding, moving to Paris to concentrate on my career. I am proud to say that my embroidered bindings are in the collections of many French libraries, including the Bibliotheque Nationale, libraries of several other countries, Morocco, Luxembourg, Belgium, universities in the United States, Princeton, Harvard, and private collections.
The seriousness of the Book Art program at Mills, and the difficulties I had in fulfilling its requirements, got me to take my own possibilities more seriously. All I wanted was to be the best.
Mills College can’t afford a medical school, or a law school. It can and does have the very best book arts program in the country. Don’t give up that honor!
My fiftieth reunion was in September. I was so proud of my college, but today, with this devastating news, I am so ashamed.
I was so excited when I heard “Supergirl” was coming to TV, and so incredibly bummed when I saw the full page ad in People dedicated to the protagonist’s clothing and appearance. The layout of the ad mimics an article with a “headline” promoting her “super style: the right outfit can save the day.” Apparently, like so many other female characters, Supergirl’s power is in her appearance.
CBS, would you ever advertise a new Superman show promoting his super style? Don’t you get that one of the reasons we’re so desperate for a Supergirl TV show is because we’re sick of narratives about girls and women where the focus is on what we look like?
On either side of Supergirl’s image, there are two columns of “interviews” with the show’s costume designers. Colleen Atwood is quoted: “I think when people feel good in their clothing, it helps to sell them as having presence, if not power.” Kiersten Ronning chimes in: “We are catching Kara and Supergirl at the beginning of her story, so as she learns more about herself and finds her strength, she will also mature in her fashion choices.” CBS, once again, I’ve got to ask: Are these the kinds of quotes you’d choose to promote a story about a male character?
Groups advocating for boy empowerment and claiming sexism have been asking Hollywood to make more movies with strong male protagonists, but after the financial failure of “Pan,” it’s obvious that movies starring boys aren’t profitable.
A Warner Sisters spokesperson tells Reel Girl, “Unfortunately, while both boys and girls want to see movies starring girls, only boys are interested in stories about boys.”
Perhaps “Pan” went too far trying to please special interest groups who want more male characters in movies. Female characters are left out of “Pan” almost completely. In one scene, Blackbeard, the male villain, who commands a boat of all male pirates, addresses thousands of all male orphan-slaves, saying his audience belongs to “every race, creed, and color, every age and era.” He never mentions females aren’t represented in the crowd at all.
While the movie does feature Tiger Lily, a white woman playing a Native American inspired role, one major female speaking part apparently isn’t enough to bring girls in to see the movie. Warner Sisters will be sticking to mostly female casts in the future: “It comes down to dollars.”
Reel Girl rates Pan ***SS*** for Gender Stereotyping.
Please don’t comment to me about how Tiger Lily or Peter’s mother (who has about two lines) are feminist characters. They represent typical Minority Feisty, a trope seen in almost every children’s movie made today where there will one, two, or three (a minority of) “strong female characters” so we’re somehow not supposed to notice that all others in the movie, including the protagonist of his eponymous movie, are male.
In case you didn’t get it, the point of this post is that movies starring males and directed by males fail all the time, but unlike with female stars or directors, the inability to bring in money is never attributed to gender.
Thank you for your brilliant comment, Maya. So sorry you have to grow up in a culture that is so horrifyingly sexist, but your imagination will continue to protect you. Your costume sounds great! Please send me a pic of you on Halloween. And you can call me Margot : )
Dear Mrs. Magowan:
My name is Maya, and I am an eleven-year-old girl. I am a big fan of Star Wars, and having read your blog for a long time, I am fully aware of the sexism in the movies. I could go on for hours about Princess Leia, Padme Amidala, the sparse females, and their sexual objectification (such as in Leia’s metal bikini), and I thank you for bringing attention to that issue.
Yesterday, my mom and I were browsing the website of Five Below and saw a very cool Star Wars T-shirt with pictures of many of the iconic characters, such as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Darth Vader, and R2-D2. I was psyched looking at the shirt, until I realized something. “Where’s Princess Leia?” She was one of the main characters of the series, in addition to being the ONLY female. She needed representation. So on a shirt dominated by males, where the heck was she? I had the same problem when we were looking for Star Wars shirts at Wal-Mart. One of them had Star Wars characters in 8-bit pixelization. It was a really cool and fun shirt, but it had the same problem: although it depicted Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Stormtroopers, and even R2-D2, Leia – the only female character (and a totally kickbutt one at that, a perfect role model for girls AND boys) – was nowhere to be found.
Females need representation, in both girls’ AND boys’ merchandise, to show BOTH genders that in the world of fantasy, both males and females can do amazing things. So even if it IS a “boys’ shirt,” that’s no excuse for Princess Leia not to be there. I’m so glad Target realizes this, by showing Star Wars fans of both genders playing together. That advertisement sends the perfect message, and I’m grateful to Target for doing so. I would also like to thank you, Mrs. Magowan, for blogging about it and spreading the word to even more people.
I also have one more thing to share with you. Since I love Star Wars so much, I am probably going to dress in a Star Wars-themed costume for Halloween. The problem is, girls don’t have many options for Star Wars Halloween costumes. Boys have tons of Jedi, Sith, aliens, rebels, troopers, and even droids to choose from. Girls have Leia, Padme, Hera and Sabine from “Rebels,” and Ahsoka from “The Clone Wars.” That’s it. And although Padme practically has a new costume in every scene change and Leia’s wardrobe is nothing to sneeze at either, that is still very few options compared to the boys. Don’t fault the girls for that; fault the makers of Star Wars, for giving them so few choices in a franchise girls can love just as much as boys.
Even worse, my mother and I were browsing Star Wars costumes on the Internet, and almost every female costume for adults that we saw was SEXY. For every Darth Vader costume for males, there was a Sexy Sabine or Sexy Leia costume in revealing dresses that they were NEVER portrayed as wearing in the movies…or, even worse, a Sexy Darth Vader, complete with skintight “armor” and a miniskirt. Boys could have actual costumes that were actually relevant, true to the movies, heroic-looking, and covered them up well. If they were real heroes, they would be able to move, fight, and win in the outfits. Girls’ costumes needed to be sexy, skintight, and disturbingly explicit. There would be no way they would be able to move around or fight in those costumes, let alone do anything but LOOK pretty. The boys looked like heroes. The girls looked like objects for the boys to win. (On another note, wouldn’t people who wore those costumes be cold on Halloween? I mean, it’s an autumn night at the end of October. It’s going to be cold. People need to be covered up and warm, and sexy costumes are disturbingly impractical.) I decided to dress as a Jedi for Halloween. Since so many people were going to dress as human Jedi, I decided to do something different and go as an alien Jedi – a Twi’lek, which is the alien race of Hera from “Rebels”. We were browsing pictures of Twi’leks online, and all of the shown pictures looked disturbingly sexy and explicit – anorexic, supermodel-looking extraterrestrials with impossibly large breasts and barely anything to hide their privates. We had to look and look to find a picture of a Twi’lek that was actually well-covered-up, in cool Jedi robes, that actually looked appropriate. That is what I’m going as for Halloween. Interestingly, all the male Twi’leks were muscular, heroic, and not explicit at all. Hmm…I wonder why?
In conclusion, I would like to thank you for starting up this blog and making the sexism that plagues our society known to the world, especially in the fantasy inhabited by kids. When we are children, our minds are most vulnerable and open to new ideas, and when marketers shape those minds with sexism, that is a terrible thing. Thank you for helping make those ideas known to society and doing your part to eradicate sexism, empower women, and ultimately, lead to true gender equality.
Today 19 yr old Owen Labrie was found not guilty of raping a 15 year old girl. At the trial, she spent more time on the stand than he did, said he bit her, scraped the inside of her vagina, and that she said no to him several times. The New York Times reports:
“Crying on the stand here, she described the sex acts she said he performed, saying he spit on her, and called her a tease. ‘At one point, I was in so much pain that I jerked backwards.’
Labrie said they never had sex. The jury of 9 men and 3 women convicted him for a lesser charge of aggravated sexual assault.
Labrie and his accuser both went to boarding school at St. Paul’s in Concord, N.H. where he was a soccer captain and straight A student. The night in question was part of “senior salute,” a school tradition “when older students ask younger ones to join them for a walk, a kiss, or more.” Labrie had ” a special key that prosecutors have said had been used and passed around by older boys seeking privacy.” The New York Times reports:
Still, she said she worried about making a bad impression. She was younger. He was older and popular. The senior salute was a St. Paul’s tradition.
“I didn’t want to come off as an inexperienced little girl,” she said. “I didn’t want him to laugh at me. I didn’t want to offend him.”
Afterward, she said, she felt physical pain and utter confusion, and blamed herself for the events; it took several days for her to tell anyone, in full, what happened.
“I feel like I had objected as much as I felt I could at the time. And other than that I felt so powerless,” she said, adding, “I was telling myself, ‘O.K., that was the right thing to do, you were being respectful.’
Though I blog about rape fairly often on Reel Girl, much more often then I’d like, I’ve been following the St. Paul’s story in particular. I also went to prep school at St George’s in Newport, Rhode Island from 1983 – 1985. One of the first big occasions I remember as a freshman was a tradition called Casino Night where all the new girls dressed up as bunnies. We pretended to sell candy and cigarettes. Here’s a picture of a classmate from my 1984 yearbook.
Here’s how the senior boys dressed for the same night. Notice anything different about their outfits or poses?
The boy on the left was also the senior prefect which is prep school speak for school president. I don’t think there had ever been a female student in this role when I went to the school. When I arrived there, there were 5 senior prefects: 4 males to 1 female, a typical ratio (and another example of the Smurfette Principle or Minority Feisty.)
The guy on the upper left is the one referred to in this picture below of my best friend and me captioned “Todd’s toys.”
His bequeath in the yearbook is “a 20 year sentence” because that’s what you get for rape.
I wasn’t raped at St. George’s. The bequeath is just a joke, a rape joke. The prefects pictured I remember as being mostly nice guys operating within a sexist culture that glorified treating girls like conquests. I’m posting these pictures, captions, jokes, and quotes from my yearbook to show the school’s systemic sexism in 1983. Most importantly, I don’t recall the rampant gender inequality on campus ever addressed by any teacher, parent, adviser, therapist, or any adult. Being a “bad girl,” I was expelled in 1985 (for drinking and smoking.) I hoped things had gotten better since my time, but the St. Paul’s story convinces me that rape culture remains alive and well at America’s prep schools.
A St. George’s classmate, Clymer Bardsley had a similar experience of total lack of guidance or help from any adults around gender roles and expectations. Today, also enraged after reading the news story, Clymer wrote this email to Michael Hirschfeld, the rector of St Paul’s:
I went to St. George’s School in the 80s and am a heterosexual, success-oriented, competitive guy. I remember being self-conscious about my not getting any action while some of my male friends got tons. I felt less-than, like a loser when it came to girls and sex. That feeling went with me to Middlebury College and remained into adulthood.
Nowhere in my development in the competitive worlds of New York, Newport, or Middlebury did any adult ever reinforce in me that it is alright to go at your own pace, that sex isn’t competition. The cultural norm was that sex was another place to be competitive, where you could be classified as a winner or a loser.
As rector of a now humiliated prep school, I hope you will make it your top priority to make sure that all of your kids and their families know that competition belongs on a playing field and perhaps in the classroom but nowhere near sex and relationships.
It appalls me every time I see a picture of that boy. I think, “How dare he!” And I don’t even know if he did anything wrong. What I do know is that the culture he went to school in enabled him to get into a very dicey place…
Your’s is a tough job and I don’t envy you. Protect our kids, though, the predators and their prey. They need those of us in charge to provide safety for them.
Here’s hoping you have a successful 2015-16 year!
I hope more students and alumni speak out, that these elite schools with access to so much money and power take major steps to radically change their courses, becoming the leaders they should be in stopping sexism, sexual assault, and rape on campus.
Just weeks after getting rid of gender-segregated toy aisles, Target put out an inspiring new ad showing girl and boy “Star Wars” fans playing together. Check it out.
YAY Target! THANK YOU. I did all of my back to school shopping at your store and will continue to shop the hell out of your chain whenever I need supplies for my children. I’ve got to admit, part of me can’t believe this blog post has to be written at all, that I feel the need to congratulate Target and express my gratitude, that my headline isn’t satire that belongs on The Onion. But sadly, as the mom of 3 daughters, I speak from endless personal experience of the rampant sexism in kidworld where gender equality is hardly allowed to exist even in our imaginations. Here’s a video where my youngest child, like many kids in America, was teased at preschool for wearing “boy shoes” in her case, “Star Wars” sneakers.
It’s kids like her who Target is helping now, because in spite of my daughter’s promise to keep wearing those shoes, and in spite of having a feminist mom, she was “choosing” “gender appropriate” footwear by kindergarten.
In May, I went on Fox News to support Amazon’s similar decision to drop gender categories from its toys. After I was intro-ed by an annoying gender police siren, I was told, as I’m so often told, that children just “pick “the toys they want. I’ve been repeatedly “informed” that girls are just born obsessed with how they look while boys who are denied toy weapons will bite their toast into the shapes of guns. That’s just how we are. As I told Fox News, in nicer words, we don’t have a fucking clue how we are. Our brains are wired up based on actions we engage in, and these connections are never made more rapidly or elaborately than when we’re little kids. Why wouldn’t we want to expose our children to more stories, more experiences, more colors than pink?