Monday, November 21, 2011

Feminist Question of the Week: Media Share

So this week I thought I'd make my question a practical one; I was hoping that everyone could share a provocative, unique, interesting, intense or even wrath-inducing piece of media related to feminism.

I spend alot of time on the internet on feminist and news sites, but I still feel like I miss great websites and articles that might be productive for a feminist dialogue, so in that spirit, let's share!

For my share today I'm posting a long, but worthwhile piece from the New York Times about sex education. The reason why I think it belongs on this blog, the teacher in question redefines ideas of sexuality for his students, turning sex ed into an interesting discussion about the body, gender roles and sexual stereotypes, instead of focusing solely on reproductive issues and abstinence.

Please post any media or information you'd like to share in the comments, or feel free to discuss the above article.


  1. Well, I came across an article in the NYT, too. It is called, "A Plague of Strong Female Characters." (

    I actually agree somewhat with the author but at the same time hate the fact that she, along with so many others, doesn't recognize that there ARE films with realistic, strong female characters. Not only that, but there are plenty of films with ridiculous male characters that also create harmful stereotypes. Anyway, it is an interesting read. :)

  2. Great article! AS somewhat of a film buff, this is something that's in the back of my mind everytime I turn on the TV.

    I think on the one hand she does make an interesting argument, all of those women who are considered "strong" are considered that way because they embody male characteristics. We definitely do a disservice to women we say that you can only be strong if you shoot guns and jump off of bridges in your spare time.

    On the opposite side of things though, she says that the portayal of "weak, ordinary women" (her words) is relatable and can be positive. TO that, I think that we shouldn't characterize strong and weak characters by their gender, rather by their personalities.

    People, are often a mess, my definition of strong is therefore someone who can (eventually) come out of that mess. Who get's things done, who expands their self. For me, more than anything else, I resented female characters who seemed obssessed with two things, men and clothes. Strong and competent characters have depth and a concern for many issues and ideas.

  3. I wonder too though, if the female action hero trope didn't come about as a reaction to the previous constantly portrayed, annoyingly dependent girl who always had to be saved by her man. I have to confess, there have been certain, kick butt female characters over the years who I have loved. Jennifer Garner in Alias for one. Not only did she get all badass when she needed to, she was still feminine and dealt with issues like romantic, friend and familial relationships.

  4. Yeah, well it is funny you say you liked Gerner in Alias. I actually haven't seen it, but the fact is that movies and shows are primarily for enjoyment (to the audience, anyway). I always feel a little bad when I enjoy a movie or something that is clearly sexist, and yet if I recognize the flaws does that make it okay or does it make me a hypocrite? :P Personally I think that author's definition of "strong" is just different from my own, and it sounds like you feel the same way. Another thing is that of course the women and men in mainstream action movies are going to fit these stereotypes really well. At this time in the history of Hollywood, it seems like it is only in independent, or small-budget, or less popular genres that you can get characters with realistic personalities.

    Also, I'm reading the article you posted right now. That teacher's method seems really good. I love how he said he doesn't think his discussion of sex is going to make any students get over their own body issues/emotional problems/etc. and go out and have sex. I am all for more thorough sex education and also parents being more open. The worst thing that could happen (okay, probably not THE worst, but you know :)) is that people get so obsessed with avoiding sex that sex ed resembles the kind given in China. (There are some good blog posts here if you're interested:

    Anyway. Interesting stuff. :D

  5. Here's a cool piece: Bought Colored Children. It's a controversial take on interracial adoptions (specifically, international interracial adoptions).

  6. So I just read the Bought Colored Children thing (in it's entirety). The last several paragraphs notwithstanding -- wherein the author completely derails her ethos by switching the tone to that of an ungrateful, angry beast instead of a thoughtful and concerned critic -- it's an interesting idea.

    I think that, as with many other race-related issues, most people really are just trying to help. Some do better than others, for sure. I am, however, once again unimpressed with the idea that the whole of history can be blamed on someone of a particular skin color. I really think that what my ancestors did to your ancestors is their fault -- and their problem. My job today is to be respectful and kind and generous and a host of other good and decent things. It is not to spend all of my energy trying to make up for wounds of a past that was created without my input or help. In that sense, I think that white parents of adopted (or bought, as the case may be) colored children are often doing the best they can.

    Then I wondered... what would my white conservative cousins, who "bought" two children of color, think of and respond to this? I may pass it on and let you know. :)

  7. Makayla, I also disagreed with a lot of what the author of that piece said. Actually, I take issue with a lot of the articles on Womanist Musings, largely because the blog makes so many unfair generalizations about white people and passes them off with an attitude of, "Yeah, well white people do it to us."