Friday, March 20, 2015

Batch of links - Gender roles

I’m still going through my backlogged links for these Friday posts and seeing how I can make a few thematic posts. This one is about the very broad topic of gender roles (which includes feminism and parenting here), though I’ll have to continue the conversation in a separate post – there are just too many links!

- Joseph Gordon-Levitt on why he’s exploring the word “feminism” and online misogyny for an episode of the second season of his TV show.

- And in case you missed it, here’s Emma Watson’s speech on feminism, delivered at the UN, where she introduced He For She.

- One of my favorite quotes by Joss Whedon was his answer to a reporter who had asked him why he creates strong female characters. He replied, “Because you’re still asking me that question.” Well, I found a video with a much more elaborate answer and the context to that quote, and it made me like Joss Whedon even more.

- Some might contend that any story with a prominent female character is automatically balanced, but I read a great essay saying that we are losing all our strong female characters to Trinity Syndrome.

- This article by Kameron Hurley is well worth the read: “We Have Always Fought”: Challenging the “Women, Cattle and Slaves” Narrative.

- A great article by actress Zosia Mamet on why she won’t lean in, thanks. Essentially, we need to embrace the idea that success can be defined by markers other than the traditional male ones (power and money). Related: Women shouldn’t have to lead like men to be successful.

- Of course, this type of sexism goes both ways. We also need to recognize that men are fully capable of taking care of things on the home front, including chores and parenting.

- While we’re on that topic, here’s why Ivanka Trump says work-life balance is impossible.

- Katharine Zaleski admits that she didn’t realize how horrible a manager she had been – until she had a child of her own. What’s awesome is that in addition to writing about it, she has also cofounded PowerToFly, an organization that matches women in technical positions to work they can do from home on a flexible schedule.

- Why don’t women advance at work? Ask a transgender person, who’s seen it from both perspectives first-hand.

- As a matter of fact, a Harvard Business Review study suggests that women are not the ones holding themselves back at work, contrary to popular belief. “The authors found no correlation at all between career success and decisions an individual makes to accommodate family, by limiting travel, choosing more flexible hours, or moving laterally within a company.”

- I’ve noticed the gender segregation in most toy stores in the past few years (it was happening before, but I’ve only really set foot in there since my pregnancy). Data actually suggests that toys are more gendered than ever (and another study shows that “even when gendered marketing was most pronounced in the 20th century, roughly half of toys were still being advertised in a gender-neutral manner,” but the gender-neutral category has now completely disappeared for some retailers). I love it when stores offer gender-neutral toys, like the ones I see at Ikea (though we don’t have one in San Antonio, sadly). I therefore liked this throwback to the iconic 1981 Lego ad that featured a girl playing with multi-colored Legos. Today’s “girl Legos” are often exclusively in shades of pink and purple, and it is implied that the multi-colored ones are for boys – ridiculous! This comic sums it up well.

- Moreover, forcing kids to stick to gender roles can be harmful to their health (and obviously, this is not the same as encouraging their interests even if they happen to intersect with gender roles).

- If you could rid the world of gender, would you? Sweden is conducting an interesting social experiment and moving in that direction. I see this as having many great advantages, but personally, I think that outright banning certain forms of (stereotypical) gender-normative play is taking it too far.

- I loved this Smithsonian article about when girls started wearing pink. This is something of which so few people are aware: it used to be that children wore gender-neutral clothing for the first several years of their life. In the mid-19th century, light pink and light blue and other pastels were introduced as colors for babies, and they became associated with gender around WWI, but it wasn’t the same as today: “For example, a June 1918 article from the trade publication Earnshaw's Infants' Department said, ‘The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.’” So this “tradition” we have today of pink for girls is a complete social construct and not self-evident at all, unlike what I’ve heard some people say to me!

- And here are 5 ways to avoid implicit sexism when parenting.

- There is now a line of clothing that makes twirly dresses with robots and dinosaurs on them; it’s called Princess Awesome and was funded on Kickstarter. My favorite is the pi dress!

- We’ve long been told that girls don’t do as well as boys in math and that we need to make sure girls see STEM fields as an option. While this is true, another problem that has gotten less attention in the past decades (but that seems to be getting more attention now) is that overall, girls do better in school than boys. There’s been some theories that this might be because the skills required for traditional schooling are instilled in girls more than in boys (the latter being seen as more hyperactive or mischievous). In any event, this seems more important to me now that I have a boy.

- Scientists are now redefining sex as a continuum. Yes, that’s sex, not gender!

- Here are 13 myths and misconceptions about trans women.

- Hopefully, after reading the previous link, you’re prepared to assess the stupidity of a (Republican, obviously) Florida lawmaker who decided that the use of single-sex facilities (such as public restrooms) would be restricted according to people’s biological sex at birth. Surprisingly, he doesn’t think this is discriminatory against transgender people because, get this: he says that using the bathroom is a choice! His policy is both ignorant and dangerous to the public. Meanwhile, Montreal’s Dawson College converted two of its men’s rooms into gender-neutral rooms that “may be used by any person regardless of gender identity or expression” – thank God some people are more rational than Florida lawmakers! There’s also a new app that lets trans gender people know which public bathrooms are safe to use.

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