Some thoughts on the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month

This month has been a delightful one for me despite the many sleepless nights typical of April and college life in general. Why? You might ask. It was because wherever I went on campus, I would be greeted with signs of support for sexual assault victims or acceptance of people regardless of their gender.

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Let me tell you about the her-story of modern technology

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As you are reading this blog with a thousand other tabs open on your browser and maybe some Spotify playing in the background, you and half the population of the world are entering an evolving virtual universe mediated by one single device — the computer.

Modern technology has led to drastic changes to society in the past century, at a much quicker rate and of a greater scale than any of its predecessors; yet, when it comes to those behind-the-screen who created, designed, run, and developed the technology from its toddler days until now, more often than not, people would only think of Alan Turing, John Von Neumann, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and the like. Women mathematicians and computer engineers are usually left out of this history, with their contributions downplayed to those of their male counterparts. Just leaf through this legitimate website about computer history and tell me if you can find a single woman in there!

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“I Am Not A Feminist Because …”

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Photo Credit: Pinterest

I know that on our campus, there has always been a stigma against feminism. Whenever I tell people that I am a feminist, they would roll their eyes and look at me as if I’m joking, since I don’t look very much like a man-hater or a person who would burn her bras to make a point (and seriously, no feminist burned their bras at the 1968 Miss America protest, it’s just a myth).

Having been in the States for only four years and not being aware of all the negative connotation of the term, I encountered feminism without prejudices and found it pretty cool. I thought that many people would agree with me and advocate for feminism. But obviously, that’s not the case here.

So I asked around to see why people don’t identify as feminists, and here are some of the responses I got (ranging from the very reasonable to just utterly ignorant):

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Depression – an outsider’s perspective

 

The other day, I read an interesting article on the New York Times’ Sunday Review by Dr. Julie Holland, a psychiatrist who is practicing in NYC. In her article, she talked about how women are being overmedicated with anti-depressants that keep them away from being in touch with their emotionality, which she said by nature is a sign of women’s health and power (It should be noted here that, as a psychiatrist herself, she is not against medication. She believes that anti-depressants and other psychotropics do save some women’s lives, but for others, they are not necessary.)

Here are some startling numbers from her article that are really concerning to me:

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How early are we gendered?

Every year, whenever you see a bunch of kids running around almost every where you go, you know that it’s Science Fest time! Watching these kids, I notice that the way girls and boys dress can be easily classified into two categories: (a) camp pink-and-purple and (b) camp any-color-combination-but-pink-and-purple. I also noted the same fashion trend when I visited the nursery earlier this week for one of my classes.

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When pro-choice is also pro-life…

Ok, let’s do an experiment.

  1. Go to npr.org or any news source of your preference.
  2. Type the keyword “abortion” into the Search box.
  3. Count the number of pro-life decisions being made in this country within last month that will force or coerce women into a motherhood for which they are not ready.

What are your findings? Here are mine: Continue reading

When advertisers tried to reclaim “Like A Girl”…

9373e293a591cf5717bcaf87db6084f2The recent Super Bowl commercial #LikeAGirl has garnered a fair bit of attention from media critics, as it seems to reclaim the derogatory expression “like a girl” and promote girl power. This ad was one of the several that have been popping up in recent years, but I am wondering if it is really doing girls any good or promoting feminism.

Why #LikeAGirl and never #LikeAFeminist? If advertisers are already making a strategic effort to embrace girl power (so that they will grow up and become voracious consumers), what would encourage them to take another step further and reclaim the term “feminism”?

I’d love to hear your opinions on this matter. Did you watch this kind of girl power commercials growing up? How did they affect you and your gender identity? These “progressive” commercials weren’t available to me when I was little, so I am really curious and eager to know how you experienced watching them.

 

Are the 2015 SuperBowl commercials REALLY pro-feminism?

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Dove’s #RealStrength Commercial

 

As a person who doesn’t like to watch the Super Bowl but is still immensely interested in its commercials, I noticed one thing about the 2015 Super Bowl commercials: the advertisers finally decided to sell “feminism” to its 120 million viewers, realizing that almost half of that humongous number are women.

From #Nissan: With Dad to #Toyota Camry: My Bold Dad, from #GoDaddy, to Dove’s #RealStrength , the feminist message of a caring family man is presented to the public by car and personal hygiene product sellers, as if these billion-dollar companies care so much about feminism that they became advocates of the cause.

Rather than celebrating the hyper-masculine men who are strong, bond, and sexy (or glorifying a herd of drunk men with post-marriage identity crisis who unite under their “brohood” ), which these companies are famously known for doing in years past, they made a conscious change and churned out a new image of masculinity: the family man.

Who can complain about a family man, right? “Men are happy, women are also happy. Those feminist bitches can shut up now,” the advertisers might think. But, as feminists always knows best, I can tell you that all of these commercials are empty messages, serving up an inauthentic and unhealthy dish of pseudo-feminism to please the easy palates of the less critical viewers.

Taking a closer look at the commercials, I see mostly white middle-class men being heralded as wonderful daddies, who both provide and care for their children. What about all other daddies who are neither white nor middle-class? They may be working just as hard and care about their children just as much as those daddies I saw on the screen. Maybe to be a feminist daddy is really a privilege only white middle-class men can afford. If those ads actually advocate for feminism, then they should speak to a wider array of men rather than just a monochromatic targeted group.

On the other hand, there is another motive behind this Super Bowl’s surplus of “feminist” ads. The past season has been hard on the NFL. It faced several domestic violence scandals, including the most recent cases of Greg Hardy, Ray Rice, and Adrian Peterson (among several others). Moreover, NFL’s arrest rate for domestic violence is 55.4 percent., making it the worst arrest category for the NFL, according to a report by sports writer Benjamin Morris back in July 2014. With all those scandals and bad reputation, the NFL is under the public scrutiny more than ever. So it would not surprise me if the organization plotted a women-oriented PR campaign with the advertisers for this Super Bowl. Wouldn’t it be nice to talk about caring dads when your own players are abusing their wives and hurting the women around them?