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The Nature of Being

rethinking the facts of life

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feminism

Barbie Girl, Barbie Boy

When one thinks of a newspaper what does one think of? Politics? Political Cartons or the usual Calvin and Hobbes or Garfield comic strip that everyone knows and loves? Sometimes newspapers can form to be whatever they want to be whether it be good or bad. There’s a German newspaper called Bild. It’s been around since 1952 and went from being a newspaper that showed mostly pictures and sold around a million or so copies a day, to a newspaper that is not very well loved anymore around Germany because of the tenacious yet audacious way the paper has began to write. Now, I had the pleasure of reading an article the other day about an advertisement with a little boy playing with this new version of Barbie called Moschino Barbie. It was an article advertising these new Barbie dolls called Moschino Barbie dolls. The irony also hasn’t escaped me because Barbie was a doll created from the German Newspaper Bild. The doll was called Bild Lilli but the copyright materials, design and such were bought by an American woman in the mid 1950’s. The article wasn’t very long it simply stated how boys are now being advertised with Barbie dolls. I found this article very interesting because it’s starting to show the cracks in the social norms of what is shown in gender media. It showed how we are trying to take a step past the line that has been created by society that only girls can be advertised with Barbie dolls, and only boys can be advertised with race cars and/ or video games. Even though race cars in video games can be something that girls play with as well, as now as advertised in this Barbie commercial, now boys can  play with Barbie dolls ,or dolls in general, as well. What I found a bit unpleasant was the way the Barbie was dressed. One of the aforementioned dolls had a leather skirt on and a see through net top with a bra on covered slightly by a leather jacket. The little boy mentioned “wie scharf” translated to how spicy, how hot this Barbie is. Now to imagine what message this would send to younger kids is what bothers me. The Barbie is dressed a bit scantily and the boy is already shown making remarks a child his age should not make. The idea of the Barbie is a great one and I am more than enthused that it is attempting to pass the gender norms of media and society but it makes one wonder to what expense and if they were made purposefully this way in order to point a blame on what happened to the youth of future generations. It is my hope that with this step further past the gender roles that have been created, that we step into more of a gender equality and neutralism in the future but maybe without the loopholes and I partially mean the ones in Moschino Barbies top as well.

 

Sources:

http://www.bild.de/unterhaltung/kultur/barbie/barbie-jetzt-auch-fuer-jungen-43433174.bild.html

http://kids.barbie.com/en-gb

http://www.women-inventors.com/Ruth-Handler.asp

#WeDeserveBetter

Everyone wants a happily ever after that they can relate to right? Most young girls watch old Disney movies and think that waiting for their Prince Charming is their only option. Some young boys even think it is their duty to try and save every girl whom they believe are damsels in distress and need someone to save them. Unfortunately for the young boys and girls who are apart of the LGBT community ,or as I like to call them family, like myself, we do  not want that for our future. However, due to society’s standards created by predominantly privileged cis white males, we have been led to believe that any love that is not between a man and a woman is somehow an abomination and or fantasized and sexualized. That the love we share with our same sex is not natural despite there being scientific evidence that same sex attraction is as natural as heterosexual attraction. There are even homosexual relationships in animals. In some cases, female lionesses who identify as both gender or look similar to a male of their species can lead their pride because despite contrary belief, it is possible to survive with only one gender in a group.

Recently there has been a lot of controversy over ,the 100, a tv show which used to be one of the highest rated series of the year. The Director, Jason Rothenberg, used the promise of a non mistreated/mishandled LGBT couple romance, in this situation the main character Clarke being LGBT and falling in love with another woman Commander Lexa, in order to win the LGBT audiences ratings and views but then brutally removing one or both of the characters after ratings are high. This act has been named queerbaiting. So, after the show was ranked #1 on the most watched and popular tv series, the aforementioned couple ,both strong and respected leaders amongst their people, accepted their feelings for one another. Directly after spending their first night together as a couple, the partner was shot by a poisoned arrow meant for the other. Not only was the arrow a misfire but it was shot by the right hand advisor of the one that was shot. Now after this happened and the controversy began the Director claimed that this was done to add to the “shock factor” of the show.

The question that is being asked is would anyone call another lesbian character on a tv show being killed off a shock? Would the young lesbian and bi community think that was a good shock for a story they looked to for their promised happily ever after? One they could finally have that did not end in horrible and or tragic heartbreak? I certainly did not. After this fated day our epic Commander Lexa was taken from us, the LGBT community was outraged, flooded twitter with #Lexadesrvedbetter, #Wedeservebetter, #LGBTcharactersdeservebetter etc, and began to expose this director for the monster he is. A misogynist who mistreats his minority cast and ,even though his main character is a female, constantly creates male roles to dominate the strong roles of the females. Now I have only mentioned J. Rothenberg once or twice, I have made this whole blog post apart of the minority. Why is that one may ask? Because ,at least in America, society has taught cis white males that they are at the top and anyone beneath them are disposable.

Well the community took a stand and said we are not disposable. So what have we done? We have started a campaign for the Trevor project which is non-profit organization founded in 1998 and the leading national organization focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning and other queer youth. Within mere weeks of the fated episode the Lexas death we have raised over $30,000. The message is clear, we will not back down, we will support our youth and ourselves and we are a force to be reckoned with #LGBTcharactersdeservebetter.

Sources:

http://nypost.com/2015/12/28/gender-fluid-lioness-is-the-queen-of-her-pride/

http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/death-100-prompts-30000-donation-furious-fans-trevor-project/#gs.X37aZKQ

http://www.autostraddle.com/all-65-dead-lesbian-and-bisexual-characters-on-tv-and-how-they-died-312315/

 

Woman Biological Urge

Do you ever go to a social gathering of some sort and while you are mingling, if you mingle at all, you encounter someone with such radical ideas or old fashioned views that you’re amazed you are still listening to their nonsense? Even if only to be able to tell it in a story later about some guy who started talking with you and believes it is only natural for you, a woman, to be attracted to males, himself in particular, so that you can reproduce. Now, despite us being in the 21st century and woman having many more purposes and needs than one would have thought of in, let us say, the 18th/19th century, I found something interesting in the garbage that came out of this boy’s mouth. For despite me being a homosexual and in fact not going to parties to find some man to please, he sparked a curious question in my mind. How many women do have the “Biological Urge” to reproduce?

I have personally wanted to give birth and be a Mother since I was young. Would I call that a biological urge? No. Personally I think it goes amongst the wants of what one wants to do when one grows up. I wanted to be a doctor when I was younger. I would still enjoy the ups and downs of being a doctor but these days it is no longer a priority. I have talked to a few women who range from “I never want kids” which is what my older sister Charity has been saying ever since we were young and that mindset still has not changed. To other women, like my partner who is a primary school teacher, who says “maybe one day if I can afford to bring the child up nicely” and others, like my friend Monique, who dreams of driving a van around with at least 5 kids in the car. It poses then the question if it was an actual urge to reproduce and be a Mother would the urge not affect each and every one of us? Which is why it is to my understanding that it goes down to background of how we were raised and how we perceived interactions when we were younger and to today, which helps us determine if we want to reproduce and making the decision to become a Mommy.

Now, while my word only goes so far therefore, I have read a few articles like the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast about not women who do not want kids. In this article it stated “For women, there is no real evidence to support the notion that there is a biological process that creates that deep longing for a child”. Which is not so far fetched of an idea for even if one were to say that they chose not to have kids, well, that would be proving my point exactly. That it is in fact a conscious choice and not a need that as a women no matter the age would they want kids. In my case, I can only be grateful that I have a partner who is not against the idea of being a Mom but would much rather adopt than give birth and that is fine by me. Well, at least for one of our kids.

 

Sources:

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26089486

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-carroll/childfree_b_1752906.html

 

The Heart of Jane

Although my last blog post was a little bit of a tangent on the subject of Jane Goodall, I still believe it shows just the impact she still has on young girls and on the field of science today. Not only has this woman positively impacted the field of science, but she also speaks about how females need to become more involved in STEM. STEM is an acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. All of those subjects that get a weird look if you tell people that’s what you’re studying (trust me, I study math, I know hands-down just that certain ‘look’). But why? Why do these esteemed and completely necessary fields of study create people to make a face as if they just smelled a baby’s diaper? In an interview, Jane Goodall addresses some of these issues.

To open, Jane says that this field had the “perception of it being a rather cold sort of discipline to go into, without heart. And I feel that women — really, we need to be involved with not just with our brain, but with our hearts as well.” These studies, to me, are full of heart. Would I choose to study math if I didn’t love it? I would be insane to just voluntarily study math. I think, for me, heart is where it all comes from. I think the same was true for 26 year old Jane when she decided to go deep into the forests of Tanzania.

She was criticized for almost everything. She was criticized for giving the chimpanzees names instead of just numbering them. She was criticized for claiming that these chimps could have (and did have) personalities. She was always, for some reason, having to justify the way she did things. How she did her work with a little extra ‘heart’. (Because apparently doing what you love with passion should be seen as a bad thing, right?)

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(photo credit)

Later on in the interview, Jane is asked if she thinks females alone possess that little bit of heart that is needed to further STEM  areas. I assumed she would answer yes, but to my surprise she said “I think they do. But fortunately, a lot of men feel this way, too.” I can only commend and applaud Jane for the way she answered this question. She acknowledges that we all possess this little bit of ‘heart’ needed in STEM. She knows that we all have this ability, whether it is always used or not.

To make sort of a conclusion on my posts regarding Jane Goodall (only 4 posts total, sorry! I could write for days about this incredible woman), I would like to say what an inspiration she is in all walks of life. She is an inspiration for young girls wanting to get into the field of science, she inspires those who want to work with the animal kingdom, she inspires feminists that want to classify her as a ‘badass’, and she inspires the world daily to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. It all started with her crazy dream to want to explore the forests of Gombe and see what exactly chimpanzees were all about. Her perseverance and dedication is more than admirable and turning 82 this year, she shows us that every day is an opportunity to change the world, no matter what.


 

interview: http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/morning-news/2016/2/women-and-science-a-conversation-with-jane-goodall.html

Jane Goo[doll]

Wendy Tsao has created a company around deconstructing Bratz dolls and recreating them to be more natural looking. After years of doing this, she decided to take Bratz dolls and recreate them to be famous women figures. Although she only recreated 4 famous women, she made a business out of doing this. Here are some of her earlier works, found of her website:

Tsao takes old Bratz dolls, strips them of their clothes and (in my opinion, gaudy) makeup, and creates a new doll with sensible clothing and makeup. After doing regular dolls for a while, Tsao decided it was time for a change. She then created 5 dolls that were all well-known female figures.

The female figures she chose were Malala Yousafzi, J.K. Rowling, Waris Dirie, and Roberta Bonbar. The other woman she chose to makeover was Jane Goodall.

Sold on Tsao’s ebay account for $170.02 on October 31, 2015, this makeover of a Bratz doll is a clear sign of the impact that Jane had on our world today. So what, some lady made a doll for Jane?

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Out of all the scientists, actresses, movie stars, models, and famous female figures that could have been chosen, Tsao chose Jane. Jane was chosen among an astronaut, the writer of one of the most famous book series, an activist for woman’s rights, and a speaker for the Female Genital Mutilation. This shows just how much an impact Jane has had on the female world of science.

These dolls strip down the regular, over-the-top, original Bratz dolls that poorly represent what young girls or boys should be playing with. Out of curiosity, I wondered what “Bratz dolls feminism” would pull up on Google. The first article, to no surprise, was all about Wendy Tsao’s dolls. This then linked to another article, written by The Huffington Post. THP comments on this series of dolls called “The Mighty Dolls” and how these dolls have taken mothers by surprise.

Tsao hasn’t been the only one to create this ‘make-under’ doll. A class of second grade students was interviewed in this video and they were given a more realistic doll, with proportionate limbs, less make-up, normal feet (the foot of the Barbie has no defined toes as well as the appearance of wearing ‘invisible’ high heel shoes), and a wider build. Boys and girls alike, they preferred this doll over the traditional Barbie doll. They compared this traditional doll to their sister, themselves, or aunts they believed this doll looked like. They thought it was more realistic for her to be ‘wider’ and for her feet to not have ‘invisible high heels’. They were asked to give her a profession and the answers included ‘teacher, swimmer, a computer job, a pilot’ while when they were asked about the traditional Barbie, the answers included ‘model, make-up artist, surfer, fashion star, and it looked she she wouldn’t do any job’. Not only is Barbie affecting the perception of women on the outside, it is affecting the perception of intelligence. These second grades had very clear distinctions when it came down to which job both dolls would most likely be doing.

Jane Goodall, without knowing it, is positively impacting not only the animal world and the environment, but she is also positively impacting the minds of young children. A simple doll made of Jane is showing the sort of new thinking that should be present in the minds of elementary school children. Hopefully, in a future world we dream of, our dolls can look more like a human (on the right) instead of some alien figure with pounds of makeup plastered on their face (on the left).

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 (photo credit)


Wendy Tsao’s website: http://wendytsao.com/

articles referenced: http://www.refinery29.com/2015/10/95710/bratz-dolls-famous-women-wendy-tsao#slide

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bratz-dolls-reimagined-as-extraordinary-women_us_561bda58e4b0082030a33dcf

video: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/news/video-1152693/Kids-react-Lammily-average-Barbie.html

Jane ‘The Feminist’ Goodall

*warning*: this post uses the word ‘badass’ (more than) a few times to describe the true personality of Jane Goodall. This word was not chosen by me, but by the author of an article I am reflecting on.

At the end of my last post, I hinted that if Jane would have been a young scientist in today’s world, she would have been seen as a feminist. After some research, I came across the perfect article that describes just what I was talking about.

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(photo credit)

This article, written by Bee Gray, was posted on bust.com under the ‘Feminism’ tab. It is titled “Ten Times Jane Goodall Was A Total Badass” and proceeds to explain ten things about Dr. Goodall that qualify her to be as defined. Although this is far from an academic article or an article that would be found on a site such as National Geographic, it is the perfect example of how Dr. Goodall is viewed in the minds of young people today.

The first time has a picture of Jane as a young girl with the caption “Hi, it’s me, Jane Goodall. As a child, and in my rare moments of leisure, I take extensive notes, draw sketches in my journal, and love reading about zoology and ethology. What are dolls?” According to the Gray, breaking the stereotype for a little girl classifies Jane as a ‘badass’ very early on. I find it comical for this to be the first reason, seeing as all it has to do with is the fact that she likes to do something other than play with dolls. Would that mean a little boy that doesn’t like to play with trucks or dinosaurs and play with dolls instead would also be classified as a ‘badass’?

The second and third times comment on the fact that Jane took the initiative and asked an anthropologist to go on an ‘anthropological dig’ and then he asked her how she felt about doing a long-term study of chimpanzees in the wild. She apparently wasn’t qualified to do such a thing, but her assertiveness qualifies her as a ‘badass’ and feminist.

The fourth time is probably the one that truly does make Jane Goodall the woman she is. It says that she spent 55 years in Tanzania studying chimpanzees. Regardless of the fact that she is a woman, she dedicated 55 years of her life to these animals and if you ask me, this article should be  “The One Time Jane Goodall Was A Total Badass” and should include this point and this point only.

The fifth, sixth, and seven times all deal with Jane’s work outside of the chimpanzee world. Not only did she work on awareness of the primate world, she also worked to help those in poverty in the areas she researched.

The eighth time was when Jane wrote a book and “climber a mountain alone” after the passing of her husband and the ninth time is when Jane was named a UN Messenger of Peace.

The tenth time Jane Goodall was a badass was when she said “Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right.” Jane is an activist for the less fortunate, for those without a voice, and for those who don’t know how to use the voice they have been given.

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(photo credit)

Although these ten ‘times’ seem trivial, they have truth behind them. I find it comical to make a post on a feminism website and to classify different actions of Jane Goodall as being ‘badass’, but the internet never ceases to amaze me in this way. Despite a few of these reason being comical, an article such as this one shows just what an impact Jane had and still has on our scientific world. She is gentle yet strong, humble yet accomplished, and a woman yet a scientist and researcher. She is all of these things and more. She was never one to make grand speeches about how women should be more recognized or how woman should pursue careers in science. She didn’t dedicate her career to pushing for women or for joining the feminist movement. She simply was herself. She set goals, achieved her dreams, and changed the world of science forever. She is a female, a doctor in her field, and according to Gray, a ‘badass’.


article: http://bust.com/feminism/14015-ten-times-jane-goodall-was-a-total-badass.html

 

Jane Goodall: The ‘Girl’ Scientist

As most people notice, typing in certain keywords into Google can spark unusual results, depending on what you start with. Out of curiosity, I started with “Jane Goodall” to see what would follow this search. The first suggestions included “facts, biography, quotes, movie, quotes, institute” and so on. To no surprise, other suggestions also came up, such as death (Jane Goodall is still alive and will turn 82 this year), Canada (she was born in the UK), costume ideas, middle name, merchandise, and other interesting topics. Unfortunately, the words feminist or female scientist weren’t in the top searches.

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(photo credit)

Jane Goodall, born on April 3rd, 1934 in London, England, is most noted for her work with chimpanzees in Tanzania (1). Her mission in life is to understand, educate others on, and protect the animal world, mostly concerning that of the chimpanzees. This raises a question, however. Was Jane successful because of the hard word she contributed to the animal world? Or was she successful because she was a female working in a male-dominated scientific field?

Jane explored the forests of Tanzania at the age of 26. This was an insanely huge leap of faith on her part, seeing as she was a female scientist embarking on such a journey in 1960. She was young, a woman, had little experience, and was going into the wild to document chimpanzees. All of the odds were against her. “But ‘Jane’ is even more determined. Goodall is called by the familiar first name constantly, marking her status as girl, even while she is engaged on a quest that will change the definition of man.” (2, pg. 180). This quote, taken from Haraway herself, struck me because it shows just how Dr. Goodall was perceived. All she was was a girl embarking on this journey to change man. It makes it sound like she was biting off more than she could chew because all she was was a girl. She wasn’t a scientist, a college graduate, a researcher, an explorer; simply a girl. Since when is being a girl such a bad thing anyways?

After her first film, “Goodall returns to National Geographic’s Gombe with a husband and a Ph.D. The double change in status to married women and a credentialed scientist was first announced in the National Geographic magazine, in ‘New Discoveries among Africa’s Chimpanzees.'” (2, pg. 183). I find it interesting, but at the same time frustrating, that her status as a woman had to be noted in National Geographic. I also noted that this quote used her last name instead of her first name, Jane. Did marrying and receiving her Ph.D change the fact that she was a ‘girl’? She got married, so what? People get married all the time. They were now called the “husband and wife team” (2, pg.183). It is frustrating that a woman, one as esteemed and successful as Jane Goodall, can’t be seen as successful on her own. Instead of being seen as an individual anymore, she was grouped with her husband as part of a team. Don’t get me wrong, marriage is a beautiful thing and it should be celebrated, but Jane was plenty successful on her own; she was successful without being seen as half of a team.

In my opinion, Dr. Goodall was doubted at first. From the eyes of the public, she was a naive ‘girl’ going into the wild and getting herself into a journey that was destined to fail. On the contrary, however, Jane, this outstanding ‘girl’ proved to be one of the most influential scientists and researchers the world has ever seen. If Jane would’ve done the same exact work in today’s world, she would have been noted as a feminist, as a woman standing up for women in the field of science, and she would have been applauded for her efforts. I think that no matter what time period a woman contributes to the world of science, she should be recognized accordingly. Her work is no less worthy because she is a woman. Her work should always viewed at the same level that a male’s would be. Since when did being a woman being a hindrance to your intelligence or worth?


 

(1): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Goodall

(2): Haraway, Donna J. Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science. New York: Routledge, 1989.

 

2) The invention of the vibrator: The double faces of the feminine masturbation in the movie Hysteria

 

London 1880. Mortimer Granville is a great young doctor who has difficulties in finding a job because of his progressive ideas in medicine. But England in the Victorian Age is far away from being open-minded in many ways. It is well known that the more a society lives in moral austerity, the more the human activity is considered “unmoral”. In order to prevent them from sinning many women of the high classes go to Dr Darlymple to nurse their hysteria. Defeated by the amount of work, Dr Darlymple employs the promising Dr Granville as assistant.

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At those times hysteria was the favourite diagnosis for every sort of women’s anxiety, depression, desire or worries: every kind of problem concerning women’s life was attributed to some medical troubles with their uterus. It is definitely true, as Simone de Beauvoir wrote, that if a man has no difficulty in affirming his masculinity, a woman is never allowed to do that. „One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman[1]“. A woman will be always conditioned by her innate interior biological composition. What I find interesting in this comedy is that it shows both faces of the history of feminine masturbation: the repressive and the emancipated ones.

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In a first moment it seems in fact that women sexuality could be satisfied only and totally with penetration, a natural or an artificial one. Actually all Dr Darlymple and Dr Mortimer’s patients want to alleviate their existential pains by being masturbated. But both doctors and patients are far away from thinking that they are having sex. Masturbation is not sex, is a medicine against frustration, especially for women who are mostly believed hysterical. That is to say, etymologically speaking, that they (we) think with their (our) uterus. It’s easy to solve their (our) problems: as far as you are able to stimulate her genitals you are able to make her happy and satisfy her life.

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It’s amazing to see how the perspective changes if we link, as the film director Tanya Wexler does, masturbation up to the history of the feminist movement. From a feminist point of view masturbation and vibrators are symbols of women’s autonomy against men: as far as a woman is able to find pleasure alone, she doesn’t need men. This sexual independence wants to be a representation of moral independence.

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Finally we can say that masturbation is a bivalent symbol in the history of women: it could represent either their repression or their freedom. In the first case masturbation is something that women receive passively, as a medication. In the second one it is something that women practice by themselves in order to please their own body.

 

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I hope you will appreciate the movie!

Hysteria Trailer

Dorotea

 

Sources:

Simone de Beauvoir, The second sex, Lowe and Brydone LTD: London, 1956.

Hysteria. Reg. Tanya Wexler. Act. Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rupert Everett.Bim Distribution, 2011. Movie.

Notes:

[1] De Beauvoir 1956: 273.

 

Introduction Post

To start with the question, if there would be fewer society boxes, what could we be?

Hello everyone, my name is Selina and I am 24 years old. I’m now studying Sociology in my first Master Semester. I live in Tübingen, that’s a beautiful little city in Germany with a huge university. I am interested in gender studies, because they question and explain our whole world. There are so many things in this world, of which we once believed they were all true – because we never questioned the “facts” we were told. But when we think about some of these facts and take a closer look on them, the world isn’t so simple to “explain” anymore.People have to put everything in boxes, so that the world is easy to handle. But what about the people who do not fit in this boxes or do not want to?
My preferred sentence of Donna Haraway is: “Part of the reconstruction of gender is the remapping of biological sex. Biology is an historical discourse, not the body itself.” [1] And that’s really interesting, because as soon as somebody explains something with biology or natural science in general, people believe it. But is the world really that simple?
In my blogposts I want to look at those boxes, which society makes up and what they do with people who doesn’t fit in. I want to write about arguments of groups which state that their way is the only right way. It’s also about the possibilities to open boxes or mix them up? Although I want to look at the standards, which are often used, the white heterosexual man and how the differences to this “standard” in the world are shown.

thinking-outside-the-box
[2]
The world defines us and we define the world. It’s a journey, so let’s look where we end.

 

[1] Haraway, Donna (1990): “Primate Visions. Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science”, Routledge.
[2] Graphic  https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/p/3/005/05a/344/1070a4c.jpg, 26.01.16

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