gender roles

FFFF: Childhood Gender Roles into Adulthood

Friday Feminist Funny FilmA new Buzzfeed video shows how ridiculous childhood gender roles are by applying them to adults. It uses humour to ask us to rethink applying gender roles to kids, but also asks us to consider the extent to which those roles do have an impact on our adult behaviour and interactions.

Transcript (after the jump): Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in FFFF Leave a comment

My Reality: Interviewing for the Position of Wife

1950s housewife picture from adby Lisa Lo Paro

“I love your confidence,” he said, “One of the features I like best about you.” Thus I began a text relationship with a guy my friends and I met at a bar. He didn’t seem like the pushy type when he introduced himself with a boyish grin and confident charm. In fact, he seemed like the opposite of the guys my friends and I were used to encountering at the dive: he was playful, respectful, humble.

We made a fivesome, myself and my two friends and his friend. There were no “Hey, how you doin’s?” or “Can I buy you a drink, girl?” or pickup lines of any variety. We talked and laughed and even pulled a light prank on someone we knew from high school. The guy, let’s call him Simon, suggested we hang out again when he got back from Boston on vacation,  in three months. He seemed like a pal, so I gave him my number and the number of my friend so that he could call either of us. It seemed totally casual, completely platonic.

At four-thirty in the morning, when I was tucked into bed awaiting sleep, he texted me with the statement above. He loved my confidence, and he had added me on Facebook. He openly “stalked” my profile pictures and told me which three he liked best. “Delete the others,” he quipped. It was past 4:45 a.m. when he told me he was leaving for Boston in two days and asked me what I was doing “later today.” I told him I was working, that I didn’t think I was available afterward. I was surprised that he was so insistent so fast, but he seemed like a nice guy so I gave him a “maybe” and said goodnight.

The next day, the bluster began. While I was at work (I am a part-time waitress), he pestered me via text about what time I would finish. He asked me to tell him how much “better he is” than other guys. He described himself as “very persistent” but only with “those worthy.” He told me to be prepared “for me to keep trying to hang out until you wear out and say yes.” By this time I was turned off and planned to cancel our tentative plans, regardless of closing time. He just seemed so arrogant.

He wrote me, “Although I do think I’d be the best waiter in town. You’d probably get laid off if I applied at your restaurant”. Arrogant, and strangely attached to me.

“We would make such a cute couple,” he wrote. And I knew he had to be joking. It’s just…it seemed like he meant it. It was like he was using humor to mask his sincerity. I felt like I was being interviewed for something, and it got more personal as the days progressed. Personal perhaps isn’t the right word. Prying would be more appropriate.

Unexpectedly, during one particularly inane text exchange, he sent me this message: “I knew you’d be dating material the night we met.” Interested in what his definition of “dating material” was, I inquired how he knew such a thing. He replied, “There are certain qualities to be watchful of, such as kindness, attractiveness, intelligence, humor.” For example, he told me, “Sluts cannot be kind. Kindness implies they don’t sleep around. And they’re not smart. If they were smart they wouldn’t be sleeping around.” My enraged reply did nothing to stem his flow of antagonism against perceived “sluts.” I changed the subject but he quickly informed me he was able to guess how many men I had slept with. Simon was convinced my number was less than five and was satisfied that I was not, as he put it, “a whore.”

Simon then proudly told me his number of sexual partners. “Keep in mind,” he wrote, “that I am a 23-year old gorgeous male.” I told him he would think his number were high if it were a woman’s and he agreed. “That’s because there’s a double standard,” he wrote and I wanted to yell, “You’re guilty of it!” But I didn’t.

I gathered from his messages that he was comfortable sleeping around but not comfortable with women doing the same, since it apparently rendered them incapable of kindness, intelligence, even humor. He wanted a girlfriend but, and I quote verbatim, “no one is worthy.” Since he wanted a girlfriend, his solution was to connect with a girl he’s met once at a bar, form an opinion of her even though he doesn’t know her and she also happens to live four hours away. Read more

Posted on by Lisa Lo Paro in Feminism, My Reality 7 Comments

Downton Abbey’s Lessons for Ladies

sistersby Roxanna Bennett

-Spoiler Alert to end of Season 3-

The third season of Downton Abbey is over. We feminist fans shed some tears when Lady Sybil died, cheered when under-butler Thomas Barrow informed Mr. Carson his lifestyle is “not revolting” and learned a lot more about what it means to be a Lady.

We learned that it’s difficult but not impossible to challenge the social norms (Mrs. Crawley helps Edith move from sex work to domestic employment), that older women may be romantically pursued but it’s sometimes a relief to turn down a suitor (Mrs. Patmore is wooed by a player who wants a captive cook, Mrs. Crawley deftly shuts down Dr. Clarkson). We discovered that slut-shaming is an old tradition (Lady Mary, Lady Rose, Edith, pretty much every unmarried woman in Downton gets a taste of this at some point or another) and that sometimes challenging class and station in life works out for the best (Sybil and Tom), huzzah!

Below are 10 Georgian-era life lessons about femininity and ladyhood we learned from the women of Downton Abbey.

  1. Appearance is everything

It’s imperative that, as a Lady, you spend several hours a day being dressed and undressed for various meals and events and that you sit still as you are groomed, brushed, petted and scolded in front of a mirror that will highlight your every fault and charm. Eating dinner with your family is the high point of your otherwise meaningless existence and heaven help the Lady who is not suitably attired.

  1. Always a doctor’s wife, never a doctor

Yes, you spent years a trained nurse and were married to a doctor and competently treated patients and understood as much as your late husband about medical procedures. That’s all well and fine, but you’re a widow and a Lady and therefore, shut up and stop with the whining about saving the lives of dying patients with your fancy, think-you-know-better than the Man Doctor ideas.

  1. patmoreKnow your place!

A chauffeur should never sleep with a Lady, but if he does convince her to marry him, he’ll be reluctantly received as one of the family with all the money and comfort that entails. If a woman, however, sleeps above her station, such as a housemaid sleeping with an enlisted officer who happens to be convalescing in the home of her employer, look forward to a life of shame, hunger and misery. It’s alright for a man to marry up but not for a woman. If you are a Lady you are expected to find a consort within your class, and not make merry with farmhands or – far worse – editors and publishers, who are so gauche as to be inconceivable as marriage material.

  1. Being a sex worker is contagious

A sex worker is the lowest form of life. Serving her in your shop is to invite shame upon yourself, your business and your family. Associating with a sex worker means that you, too, are also a sex worker because prostitution is contagious. Employing a sex worker as anything other than a sex worker is to allow your home or business to become defiled with her dirty ways. Never mind the reasons that she became a sex worker, (because you fired her for sleeping above her station [see #8, Know Your Place] and then she got pregnant and had no way to feed her bairn because you FIRED HER) now she is worse than trash and anyone seen speaking to her is assumed to also be frolicking in the muck of unwed intercourse. Read more

Posted on by Roxanna Bennett in Feminism, Pop Culture 1 Comment

New Survey May Say More About Gender Expression than Youth Mental Health

crying boyby Ashli Scale

Last week Global Montreal posted a news article about a survey conducted by Queen’s University in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada. A total of 26,000 youth between the ages of 11 and 15 were surveyed. The main gist of the results is that girls are more likely to have emotional problems and mental health concerns than boys. However, the method of information gathering and the types of questions asked may actually tell us more about gender expression than mental health. To illustrate my concerns I have analyzed two survey conclusions below.

1. “While boys are more likely than girls to report behavioural problems such as cutting classes or skipping school, talking back to teachers and getting into fights, girls are more likely to report emotional problems – feeling low, feeling nervous or helpless, feeling left out of things or feeling lonely” (Global Montreal, 2012).

I provide social support to homeless and street-involved youth. In my experience, the vast majority of male youth DO experience feelings of depression, nervousness, loneliness or alienation but DON’T feel comfortable expressing these feelings. Instead, they act them out in more masculine and socially-approved ways – getting into fights, bullying or withdrawing. Remember, boys are raised to be MEN and told that real men don’t cry or show signs of weakness. Read more

Posted on by Ashli Scale in Can-Con, Feminism Leave a comment

Fist-of-Cuffs: A response to ‘Toronto, City of Sissies’

This post was originally published at The Scale. Cross-posted with permission.

There was a huge response to a recent article in ‘The National Post’ by writer Christie Blatchford regarding the men of Toronto. It was a call for Toronto to stop being a ‘City of Sissies’.

In response, I am going to share two things with you: a moment and a secret.

First, I am going to share a moment.

This is a moment in my everyday life that I personally dread. Not a moment like fearing my safety when walking down a strange, moonlit street, facing a boss and his sexual harassment-laced advances, a trip to the dentist or a strange man following me into the elevator.

I dread when my car acts up or needs attention. Some light goes on, or there is a rattling sound or grinding noise, which means walking into the auto shop.

There isn’t a moment where I feel more insufficient or I am made to feel more pathetic than when I need to do something car-related.  Growing up I didn’t have the kind of father that was forever under the hood, asking me to pass the wrench and explain how the engine works. I literally could write on one sheet of paper the entire conversations I ever had with my father. The Strong and Silent type: My father, my example of a man.

Admittedly, I should take on my deficiency of automotive knowledge and learn more about the vehicle I use everyday (I just know how to drive, change the oil and gas up). Whenever I walk into any auto shop, however, is my moment of dread.

The moment the man behind the counter raises his eyes up from typing on the computer with hands adorned in grease and calluses…

Hands toughened from years of working with them
Hands manually manly
Hands hardened and thickened
Hands that don’t feel a thing

…the moment he quickly realizes my depth of automotive know-how is thinner than the worn out treads on my tires, I see a smirk. I see eyes rolling, or a subtle shake of the head.  The soft groan under his breath is a mighty roar questioning my manhood, echoing in the empty cavity where my esteem once stood. This pressure, this feeling may seem trivial, but it is real, it is potent and it needs to be discussed.

…urgently.

 

Secondly, I am going to break the man code of silence and share a secret.

There is an invisible gun held to the head of every man and boy you know.
At any given moment, at every moment of everyday, familiar cold steel presses against the head of every man’s soul. Unseen hands take turns cocking it, pressing it against the temple. The hands belong to people you know and never knew, those you despise and those you will always love.

It is a loaded gun that we as men don’t point out, don’t signal for help with, certainly don’t discuss and don’t internally acknowledge even exists. It has been pushed into our temple since birth.

The gun is society’s impossible, elusive state of manhood.
The bullets are Vulnerability, Inadequacy and Emotion. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism 1 Comment

The Muppets Treads a Fine Line on Women’s Roles

Can I just say I’ve been ridiculously excited about the new Muppet movie for months?  The fact that Flight of the Conchords‘ Bret McKenzie would be writing songs, and all the parody trailers only psyched me even more:

Luckily, the film was just as awesome as I had hoped. The Muppets tells the story of Walter, a Muppet with a human brother Gary (Jason Segel). As they grow older, obsessed Walter, who’s become a big fan of The Muppet Show starts to realize he doesn’t fit in in their small town. When Gary decides to take his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) on a trip to Los Angeles, he brings Walter along knowing he’d like to see Muppet Studios.

When they arrive in LA, Walter overhears a plot by the evil oil tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), who wants to raze the studio and drill for oil. Walter’s only hope to save the studio is to re-unite the estranged Muppet Show cast members for one final fundraising performance.

The Muppets was hilarious with just the right amount of Muppet cheese, and the way its storyline evoked nostalgia for The Muppet Show struck a chord with those of us who grew up watching it and the early Muppet movies.

(Besides, if the Fox Business Network thinks the movie is communist propaganda, that only makes me respect it even more.)

Unfortunately, the movie seemed to struggle a bit with how much independence to give its women characters. While Miss Piggy continues to use both karate chops and more traditionally feminine wiles to get her way, and Mary repairs cars and electrical circuits without breaking a sweat, the two have the same ultimate goal: marriage.

As J. Lee Milliren says in her review at Bitch Flicks:

“One of my biggest issues with these two having the same motivation is that they both only have One motivation and goal. All the other (male) characters have more than one goal and motivation throughout the movie. Walter wants to save the theater, reunite the Muppets, and find his place. Gary wants to be with Mary, and he wants his brother to be happy but struggles with maybe having to let go of him. Kermit wants to save the theater, be with the family that is the Muppets and re-kindle his relationship with Miss Piggy. Even Animal has two goals: wanting to save the theater AND to control his wild side.”

Avital at Bitch Magazine Blogs took a slightly more positive view, saying: “Fight it all you want, but Miss Piggy is a feminist. While she does play into some poor stereotypes (being a little boy-focused…or rather frog-focused), the thing most folks remember her for is her fierce, take-no-shit, strong personality.”

Overall I think the movie didn’t stray too much into gender-regressive territory. At one point Mary and Piggy even sing a girl-power independence song: “Me Party/Party for One”:

Even though Piggy/Mary’s goals are centered around marriage, the movie does show that they’re independent and unwilling to put up with bad treatment from boyfriends. With all of the movie’s other awesomeness, that makes it a big success in my books.

-Jarrah

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, Politics 2 Comments

Princess/Prince: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

 

In lieu of your Friday Feminist Funny Film, it’s a Friday Feminist Funny Cartoon. Get the ending to the story at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

-Jarrah

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, FFFF Leave a comment