Sunday, January 26, 2014

stop doing these things to our young girls

in doing some research today, i read this article that talks about ways our society is hurting our daughters, especially in terms of thwarting their ambitions, their confidence in themselves, and the potential to see themselves as leaders. here is the summary of the seven things we are doing that hurt our young girls.

First, we tell young girls to be quiet and polite; that old adage "girls are sugar and spice and everything nice" actually discourages young women to stand up for what they deserve. which is something i see everyday in the classroom--women are less likely to speak up, contribute to discussion, or raise questions. this severely limits the perspectives shared in class. i work hard to encourage girls to speak up in class, because i know they have something to say!

Second, we buy our daughters (and sons) gender specific toys. or, when we make the crossover, we usually opt for the alternative, but in pink, to maintain gender distinction. one of my favorites are these girl branded Nerf guns, called the "Rebelle" line. a "Dart Diva Bag"? its hilarious, but also sad. the Forbes article suggests that most "girl" toys are about appearance and beauty, while "boy" toys encourage activity and exploration. in that sense, the Rebelle Nerf products accomplish marketing "activity" (albeit violence) to girls, but the design still bugs me a bit.

Third, we narrowly compliment young girls on their appearance, instead of broadening our praise to include their intellectual, athletic, musical or other pursuits. this is an easy fix, and the article suggests matching every appearance compliment with a compliment about something non-appearance based.

Fourth, we over encourage our daughters interests in princesses! and princesses are not necessarily empowered. indeed, cinderella, sleeping beauty, jasmine, ariel etc etc are all in need of rescue by men. furthermore, they are hyper sexualized. seriously, wth is jasmine wearing? my mom would have never let me leave the house in a top like that! some of these princesses are less reliant on men, like the Tangled main character. Also, the proposed change in Merida (from Brave's) appearance from an athletic young girl to a more glammed up curvy women was met with huge outcry, and Disney dropped the proposal. this is a win for women and princesses everywhere!

Fifth, we give dad's all the physical tasks around the house. its no secret that children mimic what they see to an alarming degree. by giving dad's or the men in their lives all the physical tasks, it prevents our young girls from wanting to take on these sorts of challenges and pursuits. the article suggests splitting these tasks up, so our children don't see them as sex-specific tasks.

Sixth, we only let our daughters hang out with other girls. this can lead to self segregation of skills and styles, that may limit their development. my own friends with children don't seem to follow this one at all. instead, their kids hang out with their friends' kids, regardless of sex. good job friends :)

Last, we critique our own bodies, as women, or the bodies/physical appearances of other women, or talk about dieting etc. in front of our children. in my house as a child there was never ever a diet version of crackers or food in the house. in fact, i remember being at a friends when i was about 13 and trying reduced fat oreos for the first time. i spit it out (SO POLITE) and said, these taste old! that's how little exposure i had to the dieting culture. furthermore, my mom didn't buy fat-shaming magazines, and i wasn't even allowed to have those teen mags as a child. it wasn't until college that i became obsessed with the dangerous beauty culture. in other words, kids/adolescents will be exposed to this stuff, eventually. we might as well try and limit the exposure!!

in conclusion, im not a parent. I'm not even ever around small children. i hung out with young kids one time last year, at the beach, with my gal pals who are now mothers. so i am not claiming to be an expert. but as i mentioned, i see young girls in my classroom every day, and witness the obsession over appearance and body, which distract our young girls from other, higher, pursuits. so i wanted to share this article with my blog readers (all 6 of you). <3 comment-3--="" nbsp="">

Monday, January 6, 2014

holy cow its 2014 !

as I've now noted a few times, i LOVE a new year. i get that nothing really changes but the date, but i like to think of it as a fresh start. by the way, so does like the majority of the rest of the country, so i don't think i need to feel so bad or corny about this sentiment. 

for new years eve i snapped a pic of myself with the always enthused bowser, and then headed to la to get dinner with a few friends at A Frame. it was tasty. We then went to a small party and waited around for midnight. crazy night! not. but a fun one with close friends. 

he loves nye
A Frame crew

i didn't blog any resolutions for 2013, which is a big bummer! but in 2012 my main resolution was to practice being a better writer. i've had lots of opportunities to do so since that post and I'm happy to report Ive gotten a lot better in that department. in 2011 i just wanted to be better at teaching and also vacuum more? real ambition, meredith. and in 2010 i got real deep and resolved to try and help people in need of help. wow, 2010 meredith was way more selfless than 2014 mere.

This year is a going to be big one, for me! At least I hope. At this time last year I still wasn't sure whether or not I would have a job in the fall! I was still on the market, vying for a tenure track gig, and in the mean time adjuncting at four different places. I was living in Newport Beach, which obviously isn't the worst place to be waiting it out, but I was certainly not enjoying myself that much. Having now got a full-time gig i really like in the bag I get to focus on other things. I'm pretty pumped about it. 

First on the list is getting my book manuscript published. I'm working on a project that I started in 2007!! and then put off while I did a dissertation on a different topic. But now I am back at it, looking at how media portrayals of presidential candidates impacts gender representation in the US. its a big project, that's going to take a lot of time in terms of data collection and analysis, but it's number one on my list in terms of professional goals. 

my main personal goal is to go to Bikram yoga 3 times a week. I got a pass last week, and so far so good! i've been sweating out all my sweat, and feel really good as a result! the hardest part is just getting myself to the 90 minute class, in a 105 degree room… but like most difficult things, the pay off is pretty good. I used to go to classes just about everyday! look here at me in 2006! its not quite full camel pose, but it was getting close. also that t-shirt belonged to my former college roommate, so those aren't my pit stains. i feel the need to clarify that. currently, i won't attempt this pose because I am old and out of shape, right now. HA. 

a younger and more bendy me

this is full camel pose. can you image? i think its so radical. so maybe by 2015 i will be able to do it. that's a fun goal, no? 

my second personal goal is to not buy any new clothes FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. i have so much stuff that i never wear, so i'm going to practice restraint by not purchasing any new clothes, and try to wear out the stuff I've currently got. 

as I get older the years fly by much faster. so to start of my 2014 i want to remember some wise words from Ferris Bueller: