Doodlyroses

Things I find funny, interesting, or notable. Just so my real blog doesn't get cluttered up.

The Princess Effect: How women’s magazines demean powerful women—even when they’re trying to celebrate them

It is often said that “Washington is Hollywood for ugly people,” but the adage is only half true. Women are not allowed to be ugly people because women—and nowhere more than in such women’s magazines that reduce female political leaders to their supposed fashion and lifestyle choices—are not really allowed to be people at all.

[…]

These long trajectories—complicated and unglamorous, less ridden with cinematic hardship than the patient navigation of everyday misogyny—are often swept aside for the “it just sort of happened” narrative of female power. The media peddles princesses. The problem is that no one is sure anymore what fairy tale the public wants to hear.

Really excellent read on glass ceilings and media portrayal of women in power. 

The Princess Effect, by Sarah Kendzior

Let’s Stop Singing Songs About Women Who Don’t Know They’re Beautiful

The men who are cooing reassurances to women that they’re beautiful just as they are is the equivalent of a paternalistic pat on the head, and it assumes, requires, and reinforces the idea that those women don’t know this already.

[…]

Am I mad at John Legend (and those in his camp) for writing a song attempting to undo the damages of years of his own industry’s sins? No. Of course not. But I’d still rather he didn’t, and here’s why: These songs, which presume to assure women that they are attractive (and, by extension, worthwhile), assume that the singer’s relationship to our bodies overrules our relationship with them. All of our primping — our “fixing makeup, just so” — has a pointed objective, namely to be found attractive by men. And allegedly, what a relief to find out we don’t need to be doing any of it at all!

[…]

If a woman doesn’t believe she is beautiful, the solution isn’t a man telling her she’s wrong. If women have been groomed to believe that they need to look a specific way to succeed in the world, you can trust that those beliefs are so internalized and wide-ranging as to require far more than male approval and acceptance to be undone. 

Now let’s assume wearing makeup isn’t about that, at least not entirely. Let’s say that these women DO know they’re beautiful, and, more importantly, that their relationships with their appearance aren’t defined by whether or not they put on makeup. That a woman might wear lipstick or curl her hair because she likes it, that she could find her own empowerment through physical appearance, completely detached from the reaction of men, is an absent concept in these songs. It seems unfathomable that there can be any satisfaction, separated from male approval, that could be gleaned from the dressing of our bodies.

I want to copy-paste this whole thing, so just go read it. Also, I’m pleasantly surprised every time Buzzfeed cranks out something that’s actually thoughtful and somewhat well-written.

Let’s Stop Singing Songs About Women Who Don’t Know They’re Beautiful, by Arianna Rebolini

For decades, Hollywood, in its infinite wisdom, looked at major releases led by women and said, “Well, that’s not what the audience really wants,” then proceeded to point to the next flop starring a woman as evidence that these “types” of movies were a passing craze.

This is, of course, ignoring that there are a few dozen more flops led by men released every single year.

[…]

No, the story being told is that “Maleficent” is just lucky because “Frozen” also got lucky. The argument that’s being prepped here is that the next time a female-led movie does poorly, that particular “trend” is dead at the box office.

Let me propose another story, one that should be abundantly clear after reading this article: people are tired of seeing the same white men in the same movies over and over again. People like to watch movies featuring women. And not just women: men also like to watch those movies. Kids like to watch those movies.

People like to watch movies they want to see, and sometimes those movies can, and should, star women.

I am surprised at how good this MTV article is. 

"Maleficent Proves (Again) That People Want Female-Led Blockbusters" by Alex Zalben.

1) Your personal success, popularity, and financial gain from Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom are paid for by an increased threat of psychological and even physical violence for Asian youth, everywhere throughout America.

Across today’s America, you will find a thousand, thousand young Asian people who are engaged in violent struggle to accept themselves — to find belonging in the image of their own faces and in the customs of their own families — because they are Asian in America. Because they are mocked and insulted for the way their eyes look, for their “complicated” last names, for the traditional Asian food they bring to school lunch, for the way their parents speak with an accent and behave so differently from “normal American parents.” This is an immeasurably large number of fragile and developing psyches — young children and teens, exquisitely innocent and beautiful — looking upon America from behind eyes that look like yours and mine, and confronted by the impossibly difficult task of finding self-worth amid a social reality that tends to repay their Asian identity with insult, mental and emotional aggression, pain.

[…]

Amy, these difficulties experienced by our community are a result of Asians being perceived and treated as alien — as non-human — by members of other American communities. If a person is addressed, relentlessly, as if he or she is less than human, then he or she will feel it, will believe it, after time.

When you, as an Asian-American, make public a statement such as “Chinese mothers are superior,” I understand that it is a strategic self-promotional needle intended to pierce at that acutely sensitive, easily agitated region of the American psyche that concerns itself with race, ethnicity, and nationality; and you do this to conjure public drama and give visibility, marketability to your book. This is clear; this is easy. But you should also realize that when you say, so publicly, such a thing as “Chinese mothers are superior,” what members of other groups essentially hear is the arrogant declaration: “Chinese people are superior.” Their intuitive reaction will then be to respond with a sentiment of “F— Chinese people”, which, in America, is ultimately “F— Asian people.” To re-fold what I am trying to say: your work contributes to anti-Asian sentiment and increases the alienation experienced by Asians across the United States. Such sentiments lead to retaliation against Asian people, exposing the more vulnerable members of our community to an increased threat of psychological and even physical violence. “Oh, your chink family is so superior, isn’t it? Well, what’s your Tiger Mom gonna do when I beat your f-ing ass?” I’m sure you’ve known racism in the United States, Amy, and as such, I imagine you can hear with great clarity the realism of such a statement.

Jie-Song Zhang, throwing down the gauntlet to Amy Chua (of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”/”Why Chinese Moms are Superior” fame). So good. Go read the whole thing.

Public Education and the Arts: Lessons from the New Deal

During the Great Depression, thanks to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation - an independent federal financing institution - thousands of laid-off teachers’ salaries were paid while the Public Works Administration (PWA) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) built thousands of new schools across the country and refurbished others.

[…]

The Federal Theatre Project gave unemployed actors, musicians, dancers, playwrights, set designers, directors and stagehands a leg up in desperate times. It gave aspiring new playwrights an opportunity to stage their work. It gave ethnic audiences - who may never have seen their own heritage depicted on stage - the opportunity to both see and portray it. And the Federal Theatre Project developed, in exploratory ways, new uses for theater talents in the fields of education, therapeutics, diagnosis, social and community work. Along with the other New Deal arts programs, the Federal Theatre Project democratized and de-commodified the arts and left a rich legacy of cultural history, artifacts and aesthetic experience that historians are only now beginning to appreciate.

All of these programs provided not only jobs for the unemployed and resources for broken communities but, perhaps even more important, hope to a population in despair. As art historians Roger G. Kennedy and David Larkin remarked, “they coaxed the soul of America back to life.”1Tragically, when the 2007-08 economic meltdown happened, we failed to heed the lessons the New Deal when it could have taught us about how to revitalize the economy and the national spirit. Instead, arts and other vital programs in the public schools have been slashed, schools are being closed or privatized, teachers are laid off, and schools built in the 1930s are being allowed to fall into disrepair.

Well this is slightly depressing.


I also can’t help but wonder if all of the varied responses might help each one stop and ask whether she’s ready to be a wife, or merely ready to be a bride. Because there is an enormous difference.
Imagine for a moment if weddings were prohibited, or better yet, if you could only have one after 10 years of marriage. How much money would be saved? More importantly, how many ill-advised unions would never happen in the first place? I swear, weddings are the leading cause of divorce. If some girl wasn’t fulfilling her childhood fantasy of being a princess, holding court in the perfect gown with the perfect hair and perfect flowers, on a day dedicated solely to celebrating her ability to land a man, how much more effort would she put into finding the right mate, since the reward for doing so would be a lifetime together, rather than a coronation?
And what if, as a society, we celebrated other milestones instead? Wouldn’t it be amazing if college graduations were given the wedding treatment? If the commencement ceremony included a $3,000 dress and a $70-a-plate dinner for friends and family who came in from all over the country? Photographers, flowers, dancing, a band? "You’ve got to see my graduation video. It was so beautiful!" What would be the outcome if little girls had 32 television shows to watch about that? Would that give them something else to aspire to? To dream about?
[…]
It makes me wonder what our world would look like if female accomplishments other than becoming a wife and mother were equally exalted. If we had First Job Showers, gifting briefcases and business suits, or Promotion Ceremonies, with hundreds of guests flying in to commemorate a woman’s move to the C-suites. How about teen entrepreneur shows, instead of six (six!) different television shows about teen moms, which makes some girls want to get pregnant, so they can get on TV?
[…]
Celebrations are a huge, important part of life, but the worst mistake a girl can make is to enter into a lifetime commitment just to get a party. The husband and the baby are around long after all the guests go home, so you’d better be ready for that part of it. Here’s a tip: if you’re demanding an engagement ring for Christmas, chances are you aren’t ready to be married (and he certainly isn’t).

I am so, so, so with this piece by Valerie Alexander. View high resolution

I also can’t help but wonder if all of the varied responses might help each one stop and ask whether she’s ready to be a wife, or merely ready to be a bride. Because there is an enormous difference.

Imagine for a moment if weddings were prohibited, or better yet, if you could only have one after 10 years of marriage. How much money would be saved? More importantly, how many ill-advised unions would never happen in the first place? I swear, weddings are the leading cause of divorce. If some girl wasn’t fulfilling her childhood fantasy of being a princess, holding court in the perfect gown with the perfect hair and perfect flowers, on a day dedicated solely to celebrating her ability to land a man, how much more effort would she put into finding the right mate, since the reward for doing so would be a lifetime together, rather than a coronation?

And what if, as a society, we celebrated other milestones instead? Wouldn’t it be amazing if college graduations were given the wedding treatment? If the commencement ceremony included a $3,000 dress and a $70-a-plate dinner for friends and family who came in from all over the country? Photographers, flowers, dancing, a band? "You’ve got to see my graduation video. It was so beautiful!" What would be the outcome if little girls had 32 television shows to watch about that? Would that give them something else to aspire to? To dream about?

[…]

It makes me wonder what our world would look like if female accomplishments other than becoming a wife and mother were equally exalted. If we had First Job Showers, gifting briefcases and business suits, or Promotion Ceremonies, with hundreds of guests flying in to commemorate a woman’s move to the C-suites. How about teen entrepreneur shows, instead of six (six!) different television shows about teen moms, which makes some girls want to get pregnant, so they can get on TV?

[…]

Celebrations are a huge, important part of life, but the worst mistake a girl can make is to enter into a lifetime commitment just to get a party. The husband and the baby are around long after all the guests go home, so you’d better be ready for that part of it. Here’s a tip: if you’re demanding an engagement ring for Christmas, chances are you aren’t ready to be married (and he certainly isn’t).

I am so, so, so with this piece by Valerie Alexander.

Why Pushing People to Code Will Widen the Gap Between Rich and Poor

So is it wrong to teach a person to code? No. I don’t deny that coding is a useful skill to have in a modern ubiquitous computing society. 

[…]

The problem is elevating coding to the level of a required or necessary ability. I believe that is a recipe for further technologically induced stratification. Before jumping on the everybody-must-code bandwagon, we have to look at the larger, societal effects — or else risk running headlong into an even wider inequality gap.

For instance, the burden of adding coding to curricula ignores the fact that the English literacy rate in America is still abysmal: 45 million U.S. adults are “functionally illiterate” and “read below a 5th grade level,” according to data gathered by the Literacy Project Foundation. Almost half of all Americans read “so poorly that they are unable to perform simple tasks such as reading prescription drug labels.” The reading proficiency of Americans is much lower than most other developed countries, and it’s declining.

We have enough trouble raising English literacy rates, let alone increasing basic computer literacy: the ability to effectively use computers to, say, access programs or log onto the internet. Throwing coding literacy into the mix means further divvying up scarce resources. Teaching code is expensive. It requires more computers and trained teachers, which many cash-strapped schools don’t have the luxury of providing. 

Why Pushing People to Code Will Widen the Gap Between Rich and Poor" by Jathan Sadowski on Wired

While I think more people should be code-literate, and I’m all for more code in schools, I agree with this article and think we should put English literacy before code literacy.

On their last night in Dallas, the ramen noodles and microwave popcorn were finished. The money for the motel had run out too. So on a hot August night Jessica and Erick Davis and their three young kids slept in the Mazda rented for the trip.

It had only been a few hours since Jessica’s abortion. Because the procedure needed to be performed later in her pregnancy, it stretched over three days. 

“I cried until I could fall asleep,” she said.

Earlier that month, at home in Oklahoma City, the Davises were told that the boy she was carrying had a severe brain malformation known as holoprosencephaly. It is rare, though possible, for such a fetus to survive to birth, but doctors told them that he would not reach his first birthday. “He would never walk, lift his head,” Jessica, 23, recalled in an interview.

“I could let my son go on and suffer,” she said. Or she could accept a word she didn’t like – abortion - “and do the best thing for my baby.”

[…]

“The editorial called me a ‘self-proclaimed feminist,’” said the [Coalition for Reproductive Justice]’s president, Martha Skeeters, “which is like being called a Communist here.”

When her group began lobbying against a Personhood bill by saying it would restrict in-vitro fertilization, or IVF, a legislator who planned to vote for it, said: “Sorry, what’s IVF?” Another legislator slammed the door in the face of an activist, calling her a baby killer.

[…]

“As a physician,” [Rep. Doug Cox] said, “I rotated through Planned Parenthood clinics, doing pap smears and breast exams, and yet the people who are standing up saying, ‘we’re going to cut off all this state money,’ I ask them: How many abortions did Planned Parenthood do in Oklahoma? The truth is they don’t do any. They looked at me like I was making it up.”

The Davises know he isn’t. The lack of options sent them to Dallas, where protesters outside the clinic tried to hand Jessica a pair of baby socks. She told them to go to hell. She left the clinic with a death certificate, which she and Eric had asked for, and a footprint of the son they named Mark Gordon Scott Davis.

The funeral homes Jessica called for a “proper burial” laughed at her, or hung up “because I mentioned the word ‘termination,’” she said. The funeral homes told her she had an abortion. “I don’t look at it like that,” Jessica said. “I’m showing my son mercy.’”

Excellent article by Irin Carmon—go read the whole thing, it’s really good. It also makes me never want to go to Oklahoma.

The Logic of Stupid Poor People, by Tressie McMillan Cottom

Excellent, well-written article.

There’s one key difference between kids who excel at math and those who don’t

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