Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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Demand Better Media in 2015 — The Representation Project

Here’s what I really love about these folks:

Yes they are focused on women first HOWEVER they also talk about how gender stereotypes affect men. They also mention transgender, and considering that at this time that is still a very small number of people out of total population, even a mention is huge.

Popular media is geared toward a predominantly male, predominantly white audience, and I believe the age bracket is 16 to 35 but I may mis-remember. Any time we tell stories or include fully developed characters who are outside that target audience, we are expanding the way viewers understand human beings to be. More air time for fully realized portrayals of women, gays, POC, transgendered, children (think of all the smart-ass kids you see on Nick, for example), elderly or even middle aged, disabled, and, well, those of us who don’t fit this year’s image of what is beautiful — when you show those people as complete characters, not just a boob joke or a wheel chair joke, then you open up all kinds of possibilities.

So check this group out:

Their site:
http://therepresentationproject.org/demand-better-media-in-2015/

YouTube video:


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The Finkbeiner Test

A while ago I wrote about the Bechdel Test for helping determine sexism in popular culture, particularly movies.  Movies however are not the only medium with a trend toward biased depictions of women.  Science reporting, and indeed reporting in general, can tend to talk about women as if female participation in the great wide world is a bit of an anomaly.

Writer Christie Aschwanden was asked to write a piece for Nature magazine about astronomer Ann Finkbeiner.  Aschwanden was tired of writing pieces that basically said “this amazing person is ALSO a WOMAN” and which then went on to talk about the “unique” challenges of being female in whatever field.  (Really, does anyone ask a man how he manages as a single father, or whether he finds it difficult to balance his family with the demands of a career?)  So Aschwanden made the decision to treat Finkbeiner as a scientist and write an article about her work without discussing her personal life.

Aschwanden determined that there are 7 basic topics she wanted to avoid.  In applying those guidelines to other science reporting, she dubbed these standards “The Finkbeiner Test” in honor of the scientist she was sent to interview.  So if you want to talk about a woman who has reached a high achievement in her field, and you are concerned that you may be talking a little too much about her gender, ask yourself if you have touched on any of these issues:

  • The fact that she’s a woman
  • Her husband’s job
  • Her child-care arrangements
  • How she nurtures her underlings
  • How she was taken aback by the competitiveness in her field
  • How she’s such a role model for other women
  • How she’s the “first woman to…”

Those may be important topics to discuss in certain circumstances.  It may help women to know how other women balance their lives, or that they are not alone in facing institutional sexism in the workplace, or even that it’s possible to have a career and a home life both.  However, if the publication has a general topic (Nature magazine, for example, covers science), then there is no reason to mention someone’s personal life.  Gender is not germane to scientific discovery therefore it is unimportant in that context and does not merit a mention.

We can recognize sexism and institutional sexism, and we can move forward away from it.

 

for more information:  http://www.cjr.org/the_observatory/finkbeiner_test_gender_gap_fem.php?page=1


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The Bechdel Test

Back in the 80’s when I was in college, I ran across a cartoonist named Alison Bechdel.  Since I am also an Allison and there aren’t so very many famous people who share my name, I picked up some of her work.  The name of her strip was Dykes to Watch Out For so even though I enjoyed a lot of it, well, I’m not a lesbian so parts of it went right over my head and I lost track of her.

Turns out, Ms Bechdel made some observations about how women appear in movies.  She and some friends devised a short test for determining which movies presented the most well-rounded female characters.  And it’s quite short, just 3 questions:

1.  Does the movie have at least 2 female characters?

2.  Do they have an actual conversation with each other?

3.  Do they talk about something other than a man who interests both of them?

So, for example, The Fifth Element has several strong female characters, Leelu Dallas and the Diva.  However they don’t talk to each other so the movie fails the test.  Star Wars has only one consistent female character, so that fails too.

Pitch Perfect is about a group of female college students who enter an a capella singing competition.  The team, named the “Barden Bellas” is composed of something like 8 women (question 1), they have conversations with each other throughout the movie (question 2) and they don’t share a love interest so there is very little discussion of men (question 3).  So this movie passes the test.  And I enjoyed it very much.

Of course it isn’t a sci-fi movie so I continue looking for something that includes ALL my entertainment preferences, but then sci-fi is generally a boys game so that’s no surprise.

Maybe one day I’ll get around to scripting the movie I want to see . . .

In any case, Ms Bechdel has managed to create a simple guideline for thinking about the way women are presented in movies, and I appreciate it.