Sexism In Course Evals, too?

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/12/09/gender_bias_in_student_evaluations_professors_of_online_courses_who_present.html

Ok, there’s sexism and then there’s just insanity. Personally, this makes absolutely no sense. Female professors scored lower than their male counterparts, EVEN WHEN they were evaluated on skills females are stereotyped as having. This study is designed to remove all other bias, so clearly there is a serious issue with sexism in academia-and it isn’t coming from the top, its coming from the students. I have no idea how to even begin to address fixing something like this. We have a long road ahead to perfect equality for women in america.

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Flawed Journalism

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/12/06/rolling_stone_uva_rape_story_continues_to_unravel_jackie_s_friend_andy_speaks.html

The fallout over the Rolling Stone UVA article over the last few days has been shocking. It is terrifying to me that Rolling Stone allowed such flawed and horrific “journalism” to take place. Facts were not checked, and thats bad, but what is even worse is that “Jackie”, the protagonist of the article, asked to back out and the reporter did not honor her wishes. The reporter used stereotypes and lies to slander an entire fraternity, not to mention the specific individuals.

Rape is a very serious problem on college campuses. University administrations’ failure to appropriately handle sexual assault cases is well-documented and currently a hot-button issue, subject to White House-level action. A story like this only makes it harder for victims to come forward. Somewhere between 2-8% of sexual assault cases are fraudulent (commonly cited statistic), but that means somewhere around 95% of them aren’t. By having such a public unraveling of this particular story, it raises perception that sexual assault victims lie. This is hugely problematic, because sexual assault cases especially come with little evidence. The fact that this particular story has been corroborated is a huge step back for the fight to end sexual assault.

This story was not good journalism. Lives and reputations will be wrongfully ruined by this story, and, perhaps more importantly, there will be serious ramifications on this issue nation wide, all due to the negligence of one writer and her editors.

“Girls are only as good as boys a few days per month”: Gendered Gaming, Gendered Education

This week’s readings were focused on gendered gaming, and how games marketed toward girls are a) not mainstream successes, and b) often dependent on stereotypes that girls are only interested in makeup or shopping or clothes.

I was VERY into computer games as a child. When I was 3, my brother was born and he had some issues that required my mom to spend more time dealing with him than the average newborn. Consequently, I got as many computer games as I could handle, and by the time I was 4 I could open a computer game, walk through the installation process, and play happily for hours. This love of computer games continued throughout childhood. I had a variety of games, some educational and some pure recreation. My favorites included Zoo Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon, in which you build and manage a zoo and theme park, respectively. I also had a lot of PuttPutt the car games, and Zoombinis, which famously educates kids on key logic and computer concepts. None of these games, except for a Nancy Drew Mystery game, were explicitly gendered, especially because I later had to share my games with my brother. I played computer games because I liked the challenge and thought it was fun to beat levels and advance. The success of nongendered games that attract girls, like the Sims, prove that girls don’t NEED girly games.

However, I side with the authors in that if pink and purple games make girls want to play, why not offer them too? Why not have lots of different games and let kids play with what they want? The caveat to that is that the pink and purple games must be equally intellectually stimulating and challenging, not the $10.95 bargain bin makeover crap that exists now. Who cares if the protagonist is a pirate or a princess if the skills are the same? As long as the skills are truly the same, I think there is a place for targeted market games in the industry. There is also a place for Sims-like crowd-pleasers, which is the best case scenario.

Gendered gaming can be problematic, but gendered education can be similarly troubling. Consider this article about single-sex schools in Austin. At first, the article seems promising, turning run down middle schools into upstanding beacons of hope. There is nothing wrong with that. However, the justification is based on “science” that is absolutely insane. “The complaint claims that administrators read books written by sex-differentiated teaching specialists who believe that boys are better at math because their bodies receive daily jolts of testosterone, while girls have equal skills only “a few days per month” when they experience “increased estrogen during the menstrual cycle.”” I’m sorry, what???? That is absolutely insane. Like gendered gaming, gendered education can likely have good results, but so can mixed-gender classes. The issue, with education and games, is that the quality matters more than the targeting.

Disney Princess AND Street Harassment

Ok, so I already posted today BUT I couldn’t resist sharing http://www.buzzfeed.com/abagg/this-is-what-beauty-and-the-beast-mightve-looked-like-if-it

They take audio from the hollaback 10 hours video and intercut into the opening number from Beauty and the Beast. So, this video is:

a) a remix

b) related to women rights in the context of the street harassment discussions

and c) a riff on disney princess.

All in all, too good not to share with all of you!

On Women in SciFi

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/11/the-topics-dystopian-films-wont-touch/382509/

This article from The Atlantic poses an interesting perspective that I had not considered. In future dystopias, there are usually a wide variety of social issues, but they are primarily centered on class as opposed to race. In The Hunger Games, for example, there’s a huge socioeconomic gap between the impoverished outer districts and the wealthy in the capitol, but there doesn’t seem to be race or gender issues, as stated in the article.

Often, science fiction centers on issues of class. Robots vs. Humans, Astronauts vs. Aliens, science vs. the public, and the list only goes on. This article’s take on the genre’s unwillingness to take the class strife into the realms of gender and race relations is very telling.

In several of my film courses, we’ve discussed the theory that the content of media in a culture, be that film, novels, or tv, reflects what is going on in a society. For example, after 9/11, all cops and law enforcement on TV were “good guys”, no corrupt anti-heros of the law. It was only in the last 5-7 years as we as a nation moved on that those antihero characters came back. Perhaps because of all the race and gender issues in society currently, no director or producer wants to touch the subject in their films. After all, the purpose of most sci-fi is to entertain, and if a film is too heavy it may not be successful commercially.

As You Wish

This has been making the rounds on Facebook among my friends this week. Using the hashtag #feministprincessbride, people have been rewriting key lines of dialogue to be feminist or related to feminist issues. It’s hilarious. Granted, The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies, but I think this is a great use of pop culture to further spread the feminist message. I highly recommend looking at both this article and just searching the hashtag on twitter, as you wish.