Thursday, December 16, 2010

Michael Jackson and Gender Norms

I’ve finally come out of the closet as a Michael Jackson fan to my WRC peeps (so excited for the new album out this month). I tend to keep my “fanacity” close to my chest until I know I’m in a relatively MJ friendly climate. He was definitely a controversial figure to say the least and people often have strong, negative feelings concerning the King of Pop.

I’m not going to get into the controversy surrounding his numerous plastic surgeries, shocking de-pigmentation, or fascination with children. I would however like to point out one of my favorite things about MJ: his absolute refusal to adhere to established gender norms when it came to fashion.

He was a man who liked long hair, eye liner, and glitter. Glitter for days. Just thinking of him daring to wear a glittery military jacket for no reason, other than he liked how it looked, makes me smile. I imagine the military inspired clothing made him feel strong and invincible; I imagine he thought the glitter made him look that much more luminous onstage. He wasn’t afraid to merge the masculine and the feminine when it came to his wardrobe and I loved it! Haters loved to hate and speculate but MJ pretty much moonwalked on their faces, glittery socks and all.

Whatever you think about him, you have to admit he created a very particular style and stayed true to himself throughout all of the judgment and controversy. I think that’s an example that anyone who’s ever been called a freak or misunderstood could afford to follow.

Friday, December 3, 2010

It’s a Very Gay Day

I came across this article in the Huffington Post ( and was happy about the Civil Rights bill that was passed on Wednesday by the Illinois legislature. Like most good articles I find, I immediately thought of this as something I wanted to share on the WRC blog.

But after a moment of thought, I found myself wondering why I cared so much and why this was something I wanted to blog about. After all, I’m a feminist and while feminism and the LGBT issues are very much intertwined, there are still so many injustices that should be addressed and confronted in our society (like equal pay issues and stricter sexual assault sentencing for those who perpetrate violent crimes for example). It almost felt as if there was no time to celebrate because there is so much work to be done!

Taking time to think about this (only a short moment before getting back to my work), I had a very powerful realization. It dawned on me that yes there is so much work to be done, and there is still injustice that our society needs to deal with, we must take time to celebrate the victories when they happen. So, today you can see me take a breath of fresh air and be thankful for the small step in correcting injustice on such a gay day.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bridalplasty: Wedding Competition Takes Reality TV to a New Level

Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy my share of trashy “reality” TV shows just as much as the next person. I know, I know, it’s blatantly ignorant, often horribly offensive, and just makes people look ridiculous. However, it’s also full of schadenfreude, (I mean, how bad can one really feel for someone when they agree to be on reality tv and shock: things end up not going well), and it’s pretty good mindless entertainment. Another pro? It’s always the same storyline, so you don’t have to actually watch the series to understand what is going on, usually just a single episode will do it.

Unfortunately(or perhaps fortunately), I do not have cable in my apartment right now, and actually taking the time to watch a reality TV show online every week is a level of dedication that I just do not have, but I will admit that in the past I have been known to watch Keeping up With the Kardashians, Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, Rock of Love (I know-WHY?!), and Big Brother on a fairly regular basis. I even watched The Hills back in the day. However, when it comes to my defense of the abomination that is reality TV, please disregard all of the above when it comes to the following show.

Bridalplasty. That’s right. Bridalplasty. The show where brides-to-be compete to win a full-body plastic surgery makeover in time for the big day.

This show premiered on Sunday night, and there has been a ton of backlash about it. Check out this article on Jezebel, it does a great job of outlining some of the problems associated with the show in general, wedding culture in the United States, and the dangers of the plastic surgery cult.

I think that it’s really important to note the unhealthy nature of this show, and the fact that even though it may be a joke to a lot of us, for the women on the show, this is not a joke. This is the realization of some hope to “perfect” their bodies in order to fit the role of the “beautiful bride” on their wedding. Isn’t it scary that this type of behavior is normalized in such a mainstream way?

We need to stop this plastic surgery obsession train, and we need to stop supporting the crazy monster that weddings have become. When women are willing to jump through all the hoops and obstacles of the television show just to have a chance at undergoing all of this plastic surgery in order to fit into what society tells them they need to be for their wedding, then this is an indication of a serious problem.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Look Better Naked, Feel Better Naked

Look Better Naked, Feel Better Naked
By Guest Blogger, Erika

“Look Better Naked!” an article I found on, by Michele Promaulayko, discusses her new book entitled The Naked Truth. The article intrigued me because, as a woman, I could completely relate and find truth in most of what she said. Michele exclaims, “When we’re naked, it’s not just our bodies that are on exhibit—it’s our hearts, our souls, our very self-worth that feels exposed and ripe for criticism.” This sentence, right off the bat to me, perfectly hit the definition of what it feels like to be naked. Once unclothed, we are enabled to pinpoint every exact little tiny fleck of an issue that we have with ourselves and then magnify it in our minds. No problem spot is left unseen or unknown to anyone and that rather blatantly terrifies most women. She then goes on to discuss her personal struggle with this issue and how she feels that the book can help woman regain their high self-esteem.

According to research done by Michele, “One recent medical survey revealed that a mere 19 percent of women are happy with their bodies. In other words, of your five closest friends, only one of them thinks her physique deserves a thumbs-up.” This statement is completely saddening, yet it seems to hold true. Back home, I have a small group of five girlfriends including myself. During high school, it almost seemed as if none of us were proud of our bodies, let alone comfortable in them, with or without clothes. Anytime anyone one of us is together, the weight topic is still brought up some way or another. Every time a compliment is given, the girl just denies it and changes the topic.

Is that what we have come to with out bodies in modern day? Are we so embarrassed about our weight and appearance that we cannot even accept a compliment from a close friend? How horrible I think it is that many girls look in the mirror constantly to degrade and remind themselves of all the things that they believe are wrong with them. Unfortunately, it seems as though we have been socialized into a society that promotes the ideal woman to have a small waist, large breasts, and a tight behind.

Therefore, from the time we are little girls into the years of are adulthood, we are constantly trying to force our bodies to appear as the ideal woman and end up dissatisfied when we do not reach such high expectations that we and society hold for ourselves. A new proposed goal would be, instead of being concerned with how we look, why don’t we try to be concerned with how we feel? How we feel when we are healthier, staying active and eating nutritive foods. Everyone has fat; it has a purpose, to protect the body. It is nothing to be ashamed of. We should be concerned about our over all health. If we feel better, we are more likely to think we look better.

From what I read in the article, I think that The Naked Truth would be an uplifting read and may even change some people’s perspectives of their body. I might decide to read it over Christmas break and I’ll try to let you know more about it. If anyone has already read it, please feel free to comment.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Privilege? turned me towards this hilarious tumblr blog called “Privilege Denying Dude.” This blog is full of submitted messages about privilege on the image of a smug 20-something white hipster.

The blog satirically handles privilege of all kinds; race, gender, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, ability, etc.Whoever created the blog, gives this tongue-in-cheek explanation: “Look, I wasn't around when all that bad stuff happened. All I know is I got to where I am solely by hard work. Discrimination? I'm not going to listen to this. You obviously can't hear me: my reality is the only reality.”

All of the pictures are from the same template, so any one with a humorous caption of privilege is welcome to submit one.

The majority of the posts are hilarious and will give you the giggles, but a few are just priceless:
- “I can’t be a homophobe – I love lesbian porn!”
- “My neighbor is black, and she seems nice enough, so I can’t be racist.”
- “Why do women complain about being approached on the streets ? – I’m a man, and would love to be harassed on the streets by random women.”
- “If racism still exists – How come the President is black?”
- “Poor people are just lazy – my dad worked hard to pay for my college education.”
- “Deep down we’re all bisexual – especially lesbians.”
- “I wore black-face on Halloween – We live in a post-racial society.”
- “I can’t be ableist – I was on crutches for 3 months.”

This is a perfect teaching tool to have (privileged) people who deny or have never questioned their own privilege to really think about not only their privilege, but those who have unearned disadvantage because of that privilege. It’s a good teaching tool, and it’s so simple!

Women Athletes + ESPN= Nudity?

I came across this footage earlier today and am in two minds about the women’s water polo team posing nude on ESPN in order to gain potential sponsors attention. … On the one hand, the team was paid well for their shot, which was their motivation. On the other hand, would we expect men to do the same thing to receive sponsorship?

After watching the video and thinking about how male athletes are regarded in our society, I have come to the conclusion that this is not alright with me. Call me old school, but I thought sports were about the competition and the sport, not about the sexualization of our athletes…

Maybe someday (obviously not today, thank you very much) men and women who are talented can play their respective sports instead of having to sell their body to be able to continue their craft.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I happened across this website called hollaback!, a “movement dedicated to ending street harassment using mobile technology.” It’s a website committed to stopping street harassment of LGBTQ individuals and women by having those who have been harassed share their stories. Street harassment happens on such a regular basis, I know I can count on being barked at, or aggresively chatted up by male strangers at least once a month.

Hollaback questions the socially accepted idea that being harassed by men just comes with being a woman or LGBTQ. Hollaback believes that street harassment is a “gateway crime” and because it is almost universally accepted across the US, that acceptance creates an environment of other gender-based violence.

Hollaback points out the clear lack of legislation that protects individuals from street harassment. This is due to the lack of solutions to stopping street harassment. Hollaback has stepped up to be that answer. Because of the explosion of smart phones, this enables Hollaback to be even more accessible. Hollaback encourages those who have been street harassed to share their stories and to support the statistics of how pervasive street harassment is, with real-life stories.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stirrups and Stories: Reclaiming the OBGYN Patient Experience Through Imagery and Words

This last week, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the National Women’s Studies Association Conference in Denver, Colorado. While there, I spent three wonderful days hearing about research, meeting people and seeing some of the amazing things that others are doing in the name of gender, social justice and empowerment.
One person that I happened to meet shared one of her projects, Stirrups and Stories, with me. Stirrups and Stories exists to allow women to share their stories, suggestions, and frustrations regarding OBGYN care. The goal is to empower women to talk about their OBGYN care (after all, who really takes the time to ask you how it is?) and to better understand women’s experiences with OBGYN care, from patients to practitioners.

The stories are reflective of a variety of different experiences, and range from notes of gratitude (“Thank you for being gentle”), to humorous (“Sooo…wanna meet for drinks later?”), to comments about consent (“If you’re going to bring 4 residents in to observe an exam, make sure you have CONSENT from the scared, pregnant 17-year-old who is in stirrups for the first time.”)

I absolutely LOVE this project. The OBGYN experience is often scary, uncomfortable, impersonal, and it is not something that we talk about. This project makes a great statement: women’s health matters and we need to talk about it. I encourage you to check out this project and maybe even consider sharing your experiences!

Friday, November 12, 2010

PAVE the Way

This week I’m going to do something new. It will be wild, and you may get a little scared at times through out this blog…. (just hang with me here)… I’m going to be POSITIVE! I know that it sounds like a crazy idea, but I’m kind of tired only blogging about all of the negative things in the world. While there are a LOT of negative things happening, why not take the time to highlight something that is going on that is positive?
I’m choosing to highlight one of our many campus partners, PAVE. PAVE is an organization that promotes the rights of survivors of sexual assault and works towards a day when we, as a society, don’t have survivors of sexual assault, because that type of violence won’t happen. Period.

Recently, I came into contact with PAVE because the local coordinator was in the center shooting an advertisement about male victims of sexual assault. The commercial was meant to highlight the need for both acceptance and realization that men can be sexually assaulted and serve as a call for more men to be allies of sexual assault survivors.

My part in all of this was minimal, to say the least. I simply read a few lines off a piece of paper (about support male survivors) in front of a camera and was done. But, it was so much more than that…. As I was reading and thinking about all of the people (both men and women) who choose not to report their sexual assault out of fear or shame, I realized I proud I am to be a vocal ally. I’m thrilled that PAVE is out attempting to make a difference in the lives of survivors as we make strides in ending interpersonal violence, especially sexual assault.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Should Men Cry In Front of Their Girlfriends?

Hmm…it seems as though the general consensus from his viewers is no, or rather “hell no”. But like Cleo, I can attest to the fact that many girls would really appreciate it if their boyfriends would open up, and cry damn it! Although this video is meant to be humorous and not taken too seriously, I know that most men and some women feel as if tears should be left for the ladies. Crying is a natural reaction to something painful and distressing, so why should males suppress such a reaction? People’s feelings, whether male or female, should not be invalidated, by calling them “weak” or through teasing. And frankly, using crying as a way to get out of things should be left to toddlers and young children, not grown adults. So come on people, let’s accept the fact that crying is human, and not gender specific.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Something Positive

The following video is awesome. It’s a Sesame Street clip of an African-American puppet singing about how much she loves her hair. For the most part black girls receive negative messages about their natural hair. They learn pretty quickly that longer, straighter hair is superior to shorter, kinkier hair. It’s important to reinforce to young black girls as early as possible the beautiful and positive attributes of their hair, regardless of length and texture. Kudos to Sesame Street for embracing diversity and explicitly addressing a self-esteem issue that affects black girls.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Late Night Talk Shows

Data was gathered over a six week period that looked at the demographic of guests on late night talk shows. The shows examined are: The Tonight Show, The Late Show, The Late Late Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night, The Daily Show, Chelsea Lately, and Lopez Tonight. The resulting numbers from each demographic featured on late-night TV were then compared to the 2008 census information.

The data would imply that women aren’t incapable of being funny. As all of the Late Night Talk Shows are comedic, the absence of women as guests (and hosts, might I add) would indicate TV Networks believe women can’t make a funny. Women dominate daytime talk shows, and with Ellen leading the daytime primetime with a comedic show, what is implied? That women are only funny before the 5:00 news? Women are funny only to other women?

No show was on par with the 2008 census information, or even came close. Some shows receive failing grades: The Late Late Show, Lopez Tonight, and the most surprising: The Daily Show. The Daily Show was under fire earlier in the year when wrote an open letter to the show, accusing the show of institutionalized sexism and not having many female writers. The female workers of The Daily Show responded.

The only race that was above 2008 Census information was white people. Surprise! White people –as both hosts and guests—are overrepresented! George Lopez’s show is the only show to have fewer white guests than the census data expectation. Chelsea Handler and Lopez Tonight get passing grades for having more black guests than the census prediction. All other races on all other shows were under the expectation of the census.

However, the data is not perfect, as the data only reflects a six week period. It’s especially flawed in regards to shows that only have one guest a night, such as The Daily Show. The data might be slightly different if it was gathered during a different six week period. This graph is only meant to give people an idea of representation in late night tv.

It gives me pause that shows are still favoring white men, over any other demographic. This is just one more example of subtle, institutionalized sexism and racism that is generally accepted, especially by the untrained eye. I would be interested to see if any data comes out about a larger period, as more data would reflect more accurately. It might also be interesting to see similar types of data from 10 years ago, to see if there has been any substantial progress made. That might give me hope to think of what data might look like in the next 10 years, as far as representation in the media.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Healthy Media for Youth Act

Popular culture has infiltrated the lives of many, but it has most definitely made an influence on society’s youth. With pressure from the media to look and act a certain way, it is no wonder that so many young girls are now concerned with their weight, dieting, and have a negative self image. It is for those reasons that the Healthy Media for Youth Act, if passed, would help in changing the negative effects that mainstream media has placed upon our youth. This act would provide money for educational programs about media literacy, youth empowerment, and even fund research on how female images in the media affect girls and women alike.

According to, those who are against this act accuse it of being controlling, complain of too much censorship, and even compare it to the Soviet Union. Although I can see where people are coming from in regards to the government controlling what is being fed to us, to me, it doesn’t really make a difference, since there will always be someone who is controlling what we watch, or what is being released to the public. At least with this act, the girls who watch TV, movies, or read magazines, will have less of a complex, and understand that what they see is not a standard.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Tragic Loss ...

On October 14th one of our fellow huskies went missing. Her name was Antinette “Toni” Keller, and she was a first year art student.

I didn’t know her personally but her story affected me deeply. I kept picturing what her parents must be going through, what her friends must be feeling.

Tragically her case has been re-classified as a murder investigation.

Students are being advised to travel in groups of three or more. That’s not really practical for me. My step-mother warns me not to go anywhere alone. She encourages me to hang with my male cousin as often as possible. I’ve heard people say, “Why did Toni go to the park alone?”

I say, why shouldn’t a woman be able to go to the park alone? One student commented that he wouldn’t let any of his female friends go anywhere alone because of Toni’s disappearance. It’s not fair to women! Why is it that we can’t feel safe in public spaces? Why should we require an escort?

Violence happens to men also. If Toni were a man, would people say, “Why did he go to the park alone?” I don’t think so. No one would blame a man for taking a walk in the park.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Power... less?

When hanging out with friends it is socially acceptable to share your likes and preferences openly. However, I have come to find (in an uncomfortable way) that while hanging out with friends it is NOT as socially acceptable to voice your deep and profound distain for something that one of your friends thinks is awesome.

I’m referring to a situation I found myself in with one of my friends last week. We were hanging out and he had something he really, really, really wanted to show me. He told me that the new Kanye West video was a little different but completely AWESOME (and yes, he got that excited about this video).

So, he pulls up the music video for “Power” sung by Kanye West and we begin to watch it. The video itself is only 1 minute and 30 some seconds long (thank goodness). What I witnessed was essentially Kanye portraying himself as a God as all of these women fawn around him. The entire movie is just panning from one woman to the next as Kanye sings about being a man with sooooooooo much power. What was particularly interesting to me was when the two men come into the shot with swords and it looks like their attempting to bring Kanye down.

After the video was through, I looked to my friend and said, “Well, that’s some serious Baloney” (of course I used a more “colorful” expression than that but in order to keep the blog PG, edits must be made). I continued on to voice why a sincerely dislike the music video and disagree with the lyrics. To which my friend didn’t necessarily become defensive, but certainly reacted in a shocked way saying that it was awesome because Kanye is on the top of his game and he’s such an influential figure in mainstream society right now and he’s such a “man’s man” (whatever that means…).

I mean, seriously, why do we as a collective society seem think that because you can rap you’re a God? Furthermore, are you more of a man when you have women fawning around you? If so, I, tragically (or perhaps not so tragically), missed the memo; because there’s no way I could ever rap (even if my life depended on it) and I certainly do not have women fawning all around me. I just have to ask: If these are the messages we’re sending young men and women, is our society filled with power to achieve such great things as to gain adoration from others or are we just attempting to conceal the fact that we’re powerless to break free from the stereotypes of what it means to be masculine or feminine?

Who Knew?

Note: this blog was written by Tracy!

I happened upon this tumblr blog called "Pictures of Muslims Wearing Things," a blog chock full of just that: pictures of famous Muslims wearing clothing. The subtitle to the blog is “Muslims dressed in their garb.” This blog clearly has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek; from its title to captions, it’s meant to poke fun at people’s ignorance.

“Iranian racecar driver Laleh Seddigh is garbed in her native racing gear.”

This blog is a response to general anti-Muslim sentiment and ignorance, but specifically to the belief that all Muslims wear a specific style of clothing, or that all Muslims look Middle Eastern and if someone does look Muslim or Middle Eastern, one should fear them. The blog also cites a specific instance of ignorance by former NPR analyst Juan Williams, who stated when he sees someone in “Muslim garb” on an airplane he gets worried and nervous. "Pictures" does a great job of challenging stereotypes and biases in a humorous way.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Higher Education - Too much of a good thing?

As a junior in college, with only a few semesters left, it becomes increasingly disheartening when friends who have recently graduated tell you about their struggles looking for a job, or when you read articles like this, which states that the U.S. is producing too many college graduates, and it is starting to become a waste of time to invest in higher education. Has all the time and money I have spent on school really been a waste? With all the personal anecdotes I hear and the statistics I read, I can’t help feel like it is a waste sometimes, especially with a 22.5% underemployment rate. As the article states, due to the fact that we have so many college graduates, the pressure to have amazing credentials has increased; something so many of us feel on campus. I know many students who are currently juggling school, work, internships, and volunteer work in order to “meat up” their résumé, since the competition is so fierce.

As an incoming freshman back in 2008, was it foolish to think that I would graduate in four years and land a job that would jump-start my career? Perhaps that was a bit ideal, but my goals have changed, just as I as a person have changed. At the current moment, I am happy to be at school, absorbing every ounce of knowledge that is thrown my way, and living the college experience my mother missed out on. I am doing something which I truly believe later in life I will not regret, because I will be looking back on my experiences, not at how much money I made.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"No means yes. Yes means anal!"

"No means yes. Yes means anal!"

Really?! Not the last time I checked, it didn't! But this is what Yale University Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity pledges chanted as part of their initiation into the fraternity, according to a article found at:

These pledges walked around Yale campus, in the residential area, saying this chant, among other chants like: "Fucking sluts" and "My name is Jack, I'm a necrophiliac, I fuck dead women, and fill them with my semen." Keep in mind that women, too, live in this residential area and had to hear these demeaning things being yelled! Would you want to be a co-ed hearing these things from 'men' that you go to school with?

Even more unfortunate is the fact that this "ritual" has happened before! Broad Recognition, a feminist magazine at Yale, is calling for "real administrative action" to be taken against the fraternity and its leadership, who are only being made to engage in a discussion about sexual violence with the Yale Women's Center.

According to Yale's Fall 2009 enrollment, the ratio of men to women at the University is surprisingly equal. Women, and men, should not have to listen to this negative and violence filled chanting! Yes, there is such a thing as free speech, but when that speech is about degrading women and causing them physical and bodily harm...then it's not free speech anymore!

Part of the article is a petition you can sign and send to Yale administration. You can add your support by signing the petition to tell Yale Dean Mary Miller and President Richard Levin to take action against DKE fraternity and help create safe campuses across the country!

Beauty and the Beast

Second City Network did a hilarious skit analyzing the hidden message behind Beauty and the Beast and what is truly being conveyed to young girls.

Yes, this video is hilarious and will give you the giggles. But it’s so dead on, it’s uncanny. Beauty and the Beast is truly a film idealizing unhealthy relationships. Belle allows Beast to hold her hostage, so her father can be saved. Beast doesn’t allow Belle to have any friends, making her entirely dependent upon him and isolating her from any friends and family. To the point, Belle starts speaking to and having relationships with inanimate objects. In Beast’s defense, he does “allow her” to leave and save her dying father. And after all that, Belle falls in love with him.

It’s shocking that unhealthy relationship is romanticized and pushed on young girls. It’s frightening girls as young as three are watching this and absorbing the messages.

Second City Network also has a similar (but not as funny) video on The Little Mermaid.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

LUNAFEST Returns to NIU!

LUNAFEST is returning to NIU! Here's your chance to see ten new women-directed short films for just $5! LUNAFEST is a national, traveling film festival that promotes women filmmakers, raises awareness of women's issues, and supports non-profit organizations such as the Breast Cancer Fund. Ranging from animation to fictional drama, the films cover topics such as women’s health, motherhood, body image, aging, cultural diversity and breaking barriers. I am particularly excited to see Thembi's Diary, which tells the story of a 19 year old girl as she struggles to live with AIDS.

Join the Women's Center tomorrow (Wednesday) evening in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium at 7PM for LUNAFEST at NIU.

Proceeds from this event will benefit the Breast Cancer Fund and the Women's Resource Center Library.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Is This a Dream?

I was in the office talking to the WRC’s AWESOME Administrative Assistant about things going on with me, with school, and life in general. Now one of the things that is constantly on the back of my mind is the WRC blog (yes, it does indeed consume my life) and what I’m going to write. Therefore, it’s no wonder that we started discussing my blog for this week….

So, because of my unhealthy obsession with blogging, and having taken note of Katy Perry’s new-ish song “Teenage Dream,” I knew I’d stumbled upon my next blog topic. Listening to it as I’m cruising around town in my red 2000 Saturn Station Wagon (Can anyone say Hottie??), I had begun to seriously enjoy the song. In hearing the lyrics (those which I could understand, so about ½ the song), I was sure that this song was very sex positive and all about women making the choice of “going all the way” and finding their voice to speak up for what they want.

Getting back to talking with the WRC’s Administrative Assistant, I found out by watching the YouTube video that had the actual lyrics on it that Ms. Perry is not sending as sex positive and empowering message as I had thought. Maybe it was my car speakers or maybe it was my lack of hearing that got in the way of me clearly hearing the song for what it was (both very possible and realistic). As soon as I finally discovered that Ms. Perry was advocating not only sex but drinking before sex (which can constitute rape in the state of Illinois) and women essentially surrendering herself to the man who makes her feel like an actual person (which anyone you're dating should respect you regardless of whether you're having sex or not) I was no longer in favor of the message of this song.

Now I know that Ms. Perry is pushing sex to a younger group of listeners (primarily teenagers), but teenagers have sex regardless of whether we want them to or not. Instead of making sex a passive part of society and something that is looked upon in shame, society should be instilling values that make teenagers and young people (and even older generations) discuss and think about sex before acting upon their desires. This helps make sex an active and responsible part of a person’s identity.

Lessons learned: 1) Don’t trust you crappy car speakers (or your crappy ears), 2) Listen to ALL of the lyrics and understand their meaning, and 3) Question what you aren’t sure of, which may require listening a few times to truly understand what’s being said and allow you to assess or critique that message.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

ESPN Has Issues

ESPN recently released their annual “Body Issue,” an entire issue devoted to commenting on the bodies of famous and up-and-coming athletes. ESPN is continuing the trend of infantalizing strong and independent female athletes by posing them in weak and passive positions.

The sexualization of these athletes minimizes their physical and athletic accomplishments by infantilizing them. Just take a look at the cover: Diana Taurasi is in a vulnerable, fetal position. I don’t own the Body Issue, so I can’t say if they mention Diana’s athletic accomplishments, but I am certain her success is not the focus of the article. People aren’t buying this magazine to admire women’s strength or to admire these women’s athletic feats.

On the 2009 cover of the body issue, Amar’e Stoudemire was naked and thus sexualized. However, his nudity didn’t diminish his body. Instead, it only enhanced his physically strong body. On the cover, he is in mid-air and looks as if he is about to slam-dunk. Taurasi and Stoudemire are both basketball players, yet the images are in stark contrast. She is passive, vulnerable, in a child-like position; there is no sign of a basketball anywhere. The focus isn’t her physical prowess, but her sexuality. He is active, strong, and his muscles are well-defined; he fulfills expectations of what it means to be an athlete (and a man). The focus is his physical capabilities and his sport.

The message being sent about women is: No matter how physically strong you may be, you must still maintain a soft, sexy, vulnerable part of you, because that’s what men value most. If you are too strong and don’t soften that image up with femininity, that strength is off-putting and can bring your gender and sexual orientation into question.

It’s disturbing that 1) A woman’s femininity needs to be reiterated constantly on a public platform and 2) A woman’s femininity is confirmed through pure sexualization.

Misconceptions In Magazines

Admit it; we have all been guilty of uttering a sexist remark once or twice in our lives. But when a person hears that something sexist was said, it is often assumed that the remark was towards a woman. Yes, women are often the target of sexism, but men are not left out of this category. It is also important to note than many girls and women alike fan the flames of sexism for both genders, with their consumptions of popular “girly” magazines, as illustrated in this article on

According to the article, the media loves sending the message that men are rude pigs who only think a certain way and act a certain way. And you know what? We as consumers literally “buy” into it. These messages are often the topic of many articles in magazines whose demographics are adolescent girls all the way through to young adults. So these misconceptions are introduced to people very early in life, by so called “experts” in the field. But just like reality television is edited to produce an interesting story, magazine articles are just as easily edited to produce interesting facts from said experts. This sort of editing is something psychologist Dr. Marty Klein has come to despise; since he was often an expert quoted in such articles. Klein stated that his issues with these articles include:

• “They stereotype men and women: men are like this, women are like that

• They ignore the reality that “men” and “women” are heterogeneous categories: they claim that ALL men are like this, and ALL women are like that

• They perpetuate inaccurate information: men do and think and feel this, women do and think and feel that."
Many girls and women often go to these magazines to find advice about the opposite sex, when really they are just warping their perception even more. The same can be said about popular men’s magazines and websites. How about we stop this so called “research,” and just reach out and get to know one another and communicate who we really are. I know, easier said than done.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!!

From Guest Blogger: Nicole A.

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!!

October 11th is National Coming Out Day and amid the recent and tragic string of suicides among gay youth, this Coming Out Day has a somber tone. It is especially important this year for those who are able and safe to be out and proud of who we are. I am a lesbian and I am coming out because I love and am proud of who I am and I’m asking all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Straight Allies, and everyone in between come out in support and celebration of LGBTQ equality.

Visit the Human Rights Campaign at to learn more or join NIU’s LGBT resource center tonight for a Drop-In Session to hear or share your coming out experiences in honor of National Coming Out Day. The celebration will begin at 7 p.m. in Grant Tower A, Room 200 (Counseling and Student Development Center Satellite Office in Grant South)

So come out, come out, wherever you are because after all, closets are for clothes!

Happy National Coming Out Day!