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Monday, February 27, 2012

Women in the Oscars

While sitting around with my friends watching the Oscars yesterday, I got to thinking about women's roles in the Academy Awards. With a little research, I found some pretty astonishing (although unfortunately not particularly surprising) information. Women have almost no role in any part of the Oscars process, from the voting to the actual winners. Yes, there are awards for women only, but in gender-neutral awards, men tend to win.
Why was it that when Kathryn Bigelow won Best Director in 2010 for her film The Hurt Locker? Because she was the first woman ever to win Best Director. Just as astonishing, only four women have ever even been nominated for the award.

And why is this? Well, probably because women are tragically underrepresented in both the voters and the groups of people eligible for the behind-the-scenes awards at the Oscars. Women make up a minute piece of the people involved in writing, directing, and producing the movies nominated for Oscars (see the graphic on the right).

But this very small minority could be making incredibly fantastic films, right? But would they be recognized for them even if they were? For this, we can look at the demographics of the people who vote on the films and people that take home the prestigious Oscar statue. The LA times wrote a fantastic article on not only the gender disparities in the Oscar voters but the large number of old, white men that make up the Academy. Here's an infographic that sums up the findings about the demographics of the Academy:

Now are we all that surprised that women don't tend to win or be nominated for male-dominated awards? Not particularly.

If you're interested in the subject or a little more on how the male perspective is favored in Hollywood films, here is a great video (what I'm talking about is around 3:22):

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Perception of Body Mods

Since yesterday was my 18th birthday, I did what many teens do when they hit this milestone: I bought a lottery ticket and a lighter. Why? Because I can legally do it. But I also got to fulfill a wish of mine. I was finally able to sign my own name on the consent form to get a piercing. I got an industrial piercing in my ear and a stud in my nostril. I'd been dreaming of the day that I could do it for years, and it finally came. This got me thinking about how people perceive body modifications like tattoos and piercings. I got a pretty positive response to my new piercings, but I had a few friends tell me that they didn't like it. Now, I don't take it offensively, but it's interesting that they feel that way.

The majority of those who disapprove or dislike piercings are of the older generation (my mom said it was my decision, but she didn't like it). Why is that? The common perception and acceptance of body modifications are changing. It used to be a taboo, that only a certain "undesirable" set of the population got, but now more than 70% of Americans have more than one tattoo.

But the opinion is not shifting radically. Though having tattoos and piercings is more accepted, most people believe that they should not be visible, especially in a professional environment. In a 2001 online poll, 85% of 1,009  respondents believed that having a visible tattoo or piercing would hinder you in the workplace.

There is also a negative stigma associated with tattoos. With all other factors the same, a person will be given more negative descriptions if they have a visible tattoo than if they do not by an audience.

Is this a fair assessment? Coming from a young woman who now has 3 new holes in her body and is planning on having more and some ink under her skin: no. What is on the outside of your body and the way you choose to express it does not determine who you are as a person. But I'm interested to hear what you all think. Are body mods appropriate in all contexts or only in certain ones? Does a visible body mod change your opinion of someone? Leave your answers in the comments below!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Why do girls hate each other?

I have a confession. I have a little bit of a guilty pleasure: JennaMarbles on YouTube. And recently, she posted a video entitled "Why Girls Hate Each Other." Warning: her videos feature excessive profanity, but if you don't mind that, she has some really interesting things to say.
Jenna explains a phenomenon that many girls experience, but don't understand why. Girls are raised to be competitive with one another. If you're a girl, I'm sure you've experienced a time when you didn't feel as pretty as someone or thought that they dressed better than you, and hated or judged them for it. Women are constantly qualified and compared: you are nothing if you are not better than those around you.

And I'm not kidding, every girl has felt this way at one time in her life. Sociological Images posted another interesting blog about a meme of Marilyn Monroe, saying that the "new beautiful" (aka skinny) has replaced Marilyn's style of beauty (aka curvy).
But what purpose does this meme serve? Telling anyone who's not shaped like Marilyn that they're not beautiful. There are girls who are naturally skinny, like the photo on the right. And growing up, I could count myself into that category. I used to be made fun of for being "too skinny."And why? Probably because the girls who were saying that felt inferior (even though I in turn felt inferior to them).

Why is this exclusive to girls? Why do girls feel this need to be perfect all of the time? ItsKingsleyB***h on YouTube explains this phenomenon manifested in the females in his life:
One thing I find incredibly interesting about what he has to say is that he does not face these same pressures because he is a man. And this is true: men do not face the same pressures women do to be flawless at every hour of the day. The reason his female friends are putting on makeup to go out to the store? Because they feel like they have to. Because they can't be seen at less than their "best."

How do we stop this? I don't know the answer to that, but I can tell you how I personally combat these types of feelings. You have to love yourself more than you care about what others think about you. I know that's way easier said than done...I get it. But it's a process, and all it takes are baby steps to begin. Start reprimanding yourself for negative thoughts about your body or appearance. Don't let yourself think that you're not good enough. Be positive. If you train yourself to think that way, eventually it will start becoming true, even if it's not now.

Because every person is perfect exactly the way they are, and they should be able to do whatever they want. If you want to wear a full face of makeup for fun? Go ahead. But you also shouldn't be afraid to be seen without it. Crazy clothes? YEAH!

If you're interested in this type of mindset, I'd like to direct you to one of my favorite blogs, The Man Repeller. Part fashion, part feminism; Leandra focuses on wearing whatever she wants, bonus points if it makes men run screaming.

And I'm interested to hear what you think about this subject? Is there a way to combat this mindset on a macro level? What about in your daily lives? What do you think?