Tag Archive: Feminism


Once upon a time there was a toy that everyone loved. Little girls and boys could play with it for hours, letting their imaginations run wild. Kids could create cities, cars, robots, houses, farms, thing-a-ma-bobs for hours on end.

And it was good.

Then along comes someone who thinks: “Hey! Kids love this toy! But they don’t buy a lot of them, because they can make so many different things; they can make castles and rocket ships and monsters and all sorts of fancy geegaws out of one simple kit. That isn’t going to make us any money! Let’s make it so that kids will want to only make one thing out of one set of this wonderful toy. That way, when they want to build something else, their parents will have to buy another set, and so on and so forth”

And it wasn’t so good.

So our someone thinks: “Well, that isn’t working so well, so let’s actively market it to boys, with manly men and big guns and epic battles. Get their testosterone running.” And they did

And it was good, for the company, that is until their market share stopped growing.

So, what is our intrepid toy company someone to do? Well, it’s time to create a toy for girls, with girly things, like shopping, and hanging around a coffee shop and imitating Britney Spears, and oh! a science lab with a robot to quiet down the feminists, and doggies to brush……

And it wasn’t so good. Because now mom’s are getting pissed off.

This is the story of Lego, a company that once championed children’s creativity, but now is nothing more than a purveyor of overpriced toys that piggy backs on popular culture.

Okay, that may be a little harsh. I loved Legos as a kid, my kids love and play with Legos now. But here’s the thing. I refuse to buy the kits. The Legos my kids play with are all bought at garage sales and at the Sally Ann. Why? Because I don’t want anyone telling them what those colorful little blocks *should* be. That is what their imagination is for.

Which brings me to Lego Friends – a product purposefully developed for girls, with input from girls. I guess the bigwigs from Lego felt they were missing a piece of the Disney Princess pie and acted accordingly.

And this is what 4 years of intensive study and $40 million gets you:

Lego Friends

A coffee shop, a beauty salon, a fashion designer, doggies and a Katy Perry wannabe.

That’s it Lego? That’s all you got? Who exactly did you poll, the Toddlers and Tiaras set?

I object to this on two levels.

The first is the fact that, yet again, a toy company is pushing shallow values and rampant commercialism on our girls.  While the boys are out saving the world as Han Solo or Harry Potter, our girls are designing dresses and having their nails done.

Okay, I know creating a toy environmental activist would be really, really difficult. How much fun can cleaning up a riverbank be for a 5 year old, I get that. But this is this the sum total of what it means to be a girl? Driving a fancy car and hanging out in a coffee shop drinking overpriced beverages.

Is this as meaningful as our daughter’s lives get?

Why is a company that is built on children’s creativity as it’s bread and butter so hell bent on pigeonholing girls into a limited, shallow and crassly commercial niche?

Lego ad, circa 1981And this brings me to my second point, why are we segregating toys to begin with? Yes, I understand that kids tend to gravitate towards certain toys based on gender, girls towards more social type toys such as dolls, while boys like action and building toys. That’s fine, but shouldn’t we encourage our boys to be more social and our girls to build things and be more active? Isn’t that part of our jobs as parents to raise healthy, well rounded individuals?

And what about those kids who don’t fit that narrowly defined space of boy/girl? Don’t we owe it to those kids to help them feel comfortable in their own skin and not belittle or marginalize their interest just because it isn’t “girly” or “manly “enough?

I will never forget the time I was in the toy section of the Walmart back in Kapuskasing and a little girl got excited about a set of Tinker Toys. She raced over to her dad to show him what she found. You know what he said?

“Put that back, these are for boys. You don’t want to play with these.”

He actually looked embarrassed.

That poor little girl was crushed. She trudged away, shoulders slumped and my heart just broke. When she was alone, staring longingly at the Tinker Toys, I scooted over and told her that my sister liked to play with that exact toy when she was a little girl and now she sends experiments up in the space shuttle and tells the astronauts what to do. She looked at me and smiled, but I could tell she didn’t believe me.

I’ve wondered ever since if the world lost a brilliant mind that day.

And it isn’t just the girls who are hurt by this type of narrow-minded messaging. It also limits the boys, firstly by presenting them with only one version of masculinity – the testosterone driven, highly aggressive one, and it also sets up the expectation among girls that their romantic partner is going to be the ‘prince’ that sweeps them away and makes everything perfect. That’s a hell of a lot of responsibility for anyone, child or adult.  Why can’t a boy play dog groomer, or a fashion designer? Why can’t they expect their life partner to take control of their own happiness and contribute equally to the relationship?

That’s what these toys are selling our children.

I read an article a few years ago by The Toronto Star’s Michelle Landsberg where she marveled at the many ways one could be a woman these days. One could be soft and feminine, strong and powerful, or somewhere in between. It was amazing to her that in this day and age we women finally had the choice. That is what feminism means, women have the choice to be what *we* want to be, housewive or CEO – it is okay to be either.

This is not about pink or blue. Not really. It’s about placing limits on something that should be limitless, the potential of a child, to be anything, to do anything. And these toys are doing that to girls by sending out a message that their lives should be one of mindless comfort, no demands, no challenges, no victories.

Which begs the question, why are companies trying to tell our daughters what they should be?

And why are we letting them?

Related Content

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I love little Riley. Way to go Dad!

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Petition: Tell LEGO to stop selling out girls! #LiberateLEGOs

Suck It Wonder Woman
Suck It Wonder Woman!

The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek

Author: Olivia Munn with Mac Montandon
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Rating: Rating System!Equals 1/2 purse / 5 Handbags

Another birthday came and went recently and one of my DH’s presents was a copy of Suck It Wonder Woman! The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek by Attack of the Show’s Olivia Munn. I have never seen Attack of the Show, but I had heard of Olivia as the reigning Geek Goddess and remember her from a brief appearance in a season 4 episode of Chuck.

It’s weird being a geeky girl. There’s not a lot out there for us and the expectations are pretty low. The stereotype is either an unattractive, socially awkward girl who hangs out with the nerds in hopes of getting some attention from these poor schmucks once they realize there’s no hope in hell of dating a cheerleader, or gold-diggers who go out with computer and science nerds for their increased earning potential. So, here comes Olivia Munn, talented, beautiful, popular and an unabashed geek who looks to break the stereotype. I was really interested to read what she had to say.

Boy was I disappointed.

Firstly the book is written like a blog, which would be fine if I wanted to read a blog, for free. But DH shelled out $20 bucks for the thing, so an over-arching theme and a little cohesion would be nice. Instead, the book reads like a stream of consciousness cross between Mean Girls and Men Behaving Badly. It is little more than a series of anecdotes which have less to do with being a Geek in Hollywood as it does with simply being in Hollywood.  Her reminiscences  are neither insightful as to the being a geek in Hollywood, geek culture within Hollywood/LA or celebrity members of that culture.

The other thing is that this book is definitely written for the fanboys. With chapters about getting laid (Chapter 6: Sex: What You Can Do to Help Yourself  Have More of It and Chapter 17: Dating Tips to Help You Score), hooking up with a bridesmaid at a friends wedding (Chapter 12: Muscle Relaxers and Swimming Fully Clothed Really Don’t Go Together So Good [sic]) it’s obvious that this books main audience buys Clearacil in bulk and lives in their parent’s basement. Even her gallery of great women which features historical heavy weights like Catherine the Great and Eleanor Rosevelt – women who are Munn’s supposed ‘inspiration’ – are reduced to caricatures as conceptualized by Joe Francis and Hugh Hefner.

BORING!

There is nothing new here, and that really does a disservice to those Munn says she’s trying to champion – those awkward, shy girls, who want desperately to fit in yet have interests and passions that set them apart from the crowd. Yes, we *know* it’s hard growing up when you like sci-fi and play D&D. It’s nothing new, get over it. Show us how you used your geekdom to forge an identity and a career for yourself, not complain about how hard it was to be true to yourself while surrounded by mean kids then take pot shots at people who are overweight.

Olivia Munn on Playboy

"She haz to be naked! If not, why is she do Playboy?"

All this isn’t to say that the book is a total washout. There are some hidden gems buried in here, most notably My Worst Day Ever which had me reaching for my hanky and On the Playboy Cover Shoot, Scandinavian Stylists and Picking out Panties was absolutely hilarious and give a glimpse of the real Olivia Munn as someone who is strong, passionate, sensitive,funny and not afraid to stand up for herself.

Someone I would really like to hear more from.

In the meantime,unless you are interested in girls who take swan dives into giant chocolate cream pies whilst wearing nothing but a fetish French maid outfit, this is a book to avoid. We geek girls will just have to make due with tweets from Amber Benson and Felicia Day until such a time as they write their own memoirs.

Iron Man 2 - Tony Stark

Iron Man 2 - Chick Flick?

Lisa Schwartzbaum of Entertainment Weekly wrote an excellent article about the studio’s surprise that Iron Man 2 is playing so well to female audiences. According to Indie Wire, the report upon which Schwartzbaum’s article is based:

“What you’ll see on Sunday is people taking their moms to see Iron Man,” says Paramount distribution executive vp Don Harris. “You can’t make a statistic like that up.” In tracking, the female figures for Iron Man 2 were so high, adds Harris, “you would expect such numbers from a film like Sex and the City 2.”

Why? Why is it, that in this day and age that it’s surprising for women to enjoy science fiction/comic books/action movies?

There has always been a strong fan base among women for the nerdy and the geeky. How many little girls grew up playing Princess Leia or Wonder Woman or Jamie Summers? Take a look at Science Fiction literature; some of the greatest authors of the genre are women. Mary Shelley, Andre Norton, Ursula K. LeGuin, Sheri Tepper have all created iconic tales of speculative fiction. As a mater of fact, the concept of the secret identity was originated by a woman, Baroness Emma Orczy, author of the Scarlet Pimpernel published in 1903.

Ursula K. LeGuin - Left Hand of DarknessIf women write the stuff, it would follow that women would read it, right?

The simple fact of the matter is that comic books and Spec-Fic is rife with themes that interest women and draw them in. It may not be the same things that interest men, but they are there just the same. For example, the Xmen comic deals with lots of masculine themes, but there are also the relationships that interest  women readers – Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, Jean and Scott, Storm and T’Challa all have a strong appeal to female readers. We may not care so much about the bang bang shoot’em ups, but the outcomes and the consequences are far more rewarding for a woman reader than for a man.

This obviously translates to the big screen and television. Buffy, Ripley, Trinity and most recently Avatar’s Neytiri have all drawn in female audiences. These are our role models. We don’t see many iconic female characters outside of Science Fiction/Fantasy movies that as girls we look up to. So of course we’re going to go see films in these genres to find more of the same. And we’re going to bring our daughters with us, growing the audience.

It just makes sense.

A few years ago, Hollywood was hot for female action movies. They were going to revolutionize the genre. What did we get? Catwoman and Elektra, two of the worst superhero movies ever made. The suits didn’t understand it at the time. There was a huge demand for women in more heroic roles, why did these films fail? Why didn’t they get the audience that they expected?

Buffy the Vampire SlayerProbably because the writing was crap. All there was to these movies were women in skimpy clothes prancing around. There was no human interactions, no relationships that women could be invest in. The stories were practically non-existent, the acting was wooden and the premise was ridiculous. As a result Hollywood has pretty much turned it’s back on the prospect. The Wonder Woman movie has been sitting in pre-production hell for 3 years because the studios can’t wrap their head around the fact that what women want are great characters, strong stories and compelling relationships. Having a female centric film is icing on the cake.

It was my mother who sat down and watched Wonder Woman and Doctor Who with me. She’s the one who introduced Sprout to Star Trek – another show with some amazingly strong women characters. Women have always been interested in Science Fiction and related works. The reason why Iron Man 2 works with women is because the main character is charming, his struggles are compelling and relationships are believable. Yes, we do enjoy the special effects and the explosions just as much as the guys, being a FX-geek I can say that. But they aren’t what brings us in. If the studios can keep making movies of Iron Man’s caliber, women audiences are going to keep coming and the numbers are going to grow.

Maybe this is the start of Hollywood actually getting it and start handing off these fantastic properties with strong women characters to great writers and directors. It’s in their best interest, but we fangirls have to demand it.

Via: Entertainment Weekly, Indie Wire.

I *MUST* have these:

AWESOMESAUCE!

Via: Stargazing

Final Rumblings

Jen McCreight - Boobquake instigatorWell, Boobquake 2010 is almost past, and unless there is a massive earthquake in the next 3 hours and 40 minutes, the planet has escaped reasonably unscathed. It remains to be seen if the event will continue. I personally think Jen McCreight, the woman who is responsible for unleashing the MMDs*, will need at least five years of events to track a statistical trend, but then I almost failed stats at university, so what do I know.

At any rate, it looks like people had a fun with the event. Well, most people. It seems there’s a small group out there that feels Boobquake runs against feminist ideas and called for a Brainquake instead.

First off, let me be clear about something. I love the idea of a Brainquake, an event where women can show off their accomplishments and awards, I’m thinking we should hold one 6 months from now, on September 26, 2010. We should shout it from the roof tops that women do amazing things in the fields of science, engineering, business, politics etc. Largely these accomplishments go unrecognized, so lets bang a gong and celebrate.

ThMMDs - Mammaries of Mass Destructionat being said, Boobquake responded to Iranian cleric Sedighi’s challenge to the physical expression of our femininity, not our intellect. As a matter of fact, Iranian women are well-educated, they comprise up to 60% of entrants to Tehran’s university. They are not shut out from institutions of higher education. So to respond with a display of women’s intellectual capacity and accomplishments is nonsensical. He made a quantifiable statement – seeing women’s bodies incurs Gods (TM) wrath in the form of earthquakes. To test and challenge that assertion means women have to dress immodestly – from low-cut blouses and daisy dukes to abayas without socks.

And that, according to Brainquakers is falling  into the patriarchal trap of reducing women to nothing more than their bodies.

And that assertion really bothers me. It seems to me that this response is patriarchal itself by saying that my body, and the display of my body can be nothing more than a result of my victimization by a culture that worships women’s beauty at the detriment of her brain. My body cannot be subversive. It cannot be political. It cannot be a free expression of my character.

Bullshit!

I thought the whole point of feminism was that women were valued for more than their bodies. One could be beautiful and blond and smart all at the same time. Or short, dumpy and plain and still be accomplished. Women’s clothing and how they dress should be a means of self-expression. I personally wear most of my clothes showing a fair amount of cleavage – it’s part of my fashion philosophy: look at my boobs, not at my butt. Why? Because *I* like it that way. I dress this way because I am confident, powerful, beautiful and comfortable in my skin, not because I am a victim of a misogynistic culture. The reverse is actually true. I’m seriously overweight and as a result society tells me that I should cover up, try to camouflage myself so I can fade into the background.

Screw that! My clothing is my rebellion. And guess what? The same can be said about Iranian women’s dress. They’ve been finding ways to subvert the Islamic rule regarding modest dressing by using make up and other means for years.

Continue reading

I'm qauking Okay, here I am in my official Boobquake shirt.  Oh so scandalous isn’t it?  I’m expecting God (TM) to strike me down any minute.

It’s a busy day at Casa Fangirl today.  The girls are home from school so we’ll be going out and having fun with them, so I won’t be blogging much this afternoon, but I will be posting my final thoughts on Boobquake later this evening.

I hope you all have a good time.  Keep up on the news to see if there are in fact any major seismic disturbances. If you have any photos or funny stories to share, feel free to email them to me at fangirlshandbag (at) rogers.com.

Enjoy the day and remember your sun block!

Boobquake closeup

They're real, and they're spectacular

MMDs - Mammaries of Mass DestructionI’m off to bed and will blog about this some more later, but BOOBQUAKE has begun!

Jen, the organizer (perpetrator) of Boobquake has a list of interviews for later today listed on her site. If you’re interested, you can find them here.

There are a few sites that track earthquakes in real/near real-time. Here are a couple of links :

USGS: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/index.php?old=world.html

IRIS: http://www.iris.edu/dms/seismon.htm

As well, here are some handy tips on surviving an earthquake:

  1. Step 1

    Prepare ahead of time. There are many different things that go into an earthquake preparedness kit. See this link for specific details on packing your earthquake preparedness kit.

  2. Step 2

    Also, make sure you prepare mentally so that you know what to do without panicking during the earthquake. Try to stay calm during the earthquake. Many times, injuries or death occur which could have been prevented due to panic. When the earthquake starts, begin to think about the steps you need to take, which are outlined in the following steps.

  3. Step 3

    If you are inside when the earthquake starts, stand in doorway or crouch under a sturdy desk or table. Be sure to stay a safe distance from any windows, glass doors or large pieces of furniture containing doors or which are not secured to a wall. If you are outside during the earthquake, get away from buildings, trees, telephone poles and power lines. If you are driving, drive away from underpasses and overpasses. Stop in clear area and stay in the vehicle until the earthquake has stopped.

  4. Step 4

    After the earthquake, check for injuries. Provide first aid as needed and seek medical attention if required.

  5. Step 5

    If you are at home (or when you return home) check for gas, water and sewage leaks as well as downed power lines or electrical shorts. Turn off utilities as required by the situation. See Link for details-http://www.ehow.com/how_2264258_prepare-earthquake.html

  6. Step 6

    Check for building damage and potential problems during aftershocks. If severe cracks or other structural weaknesses have occurred, these could give way during aftershocks. If the structure you are in is no longer safe, retreat to another location.

  7. Step 7

    Remember to wear shoes after the earthquake. It will prevent injuries if things have fallen off of shelves or out of cupboards.

  8. Step 8

    At some time during this process, turn on the radio on and listen for instructions from public safety agencies. A battery or crank operated radio is handy in this situation as you often will not have power.

  9. Step 9

    Use the telephone for emergencies only. The lines become overwhelmed by calls after an earthquake due to people checking on relatives or friends. These lines may be needed for emergencies so you do not want to tie them up.

From eHow.com

And finally, here are some links to help the survivors of the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chili:

Oxfam – Haiti: http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/haiti-earthquake

Oxfam – Chili: http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/chile-earthquake-2010

Médecins sans frontières: http://www.msf.ca/donate/

I’m working on a some Boobquake 2010 t-shirts and bumper sticker designs.  I won’t have them done for today, but I’m hoping they’ll be ready to show you by the end of the week.

If you like, you could send me some pictures of Boobquake events or participation (keep it clean!) to fangirlshandbag (at) rogers.com and I’ll post them on the site.

Have fun!

*MMDs = Mammaries of Mass Destruction

MMDs - Mammaries of Mass DestructionWe women understand the power of the boobie.  They have the power to turn reasonably intelligent, eloquent men into gibbering idiots. I know this to be true, because just a simple flash of my luscious lady mounds can stop my DH in mid-sentence and cause him to completely lose his train of thought. His eyes go glassy and he gets this blank look on his face as though he’s just been confronted by a 3 line solution to Fermat’s Last Theorem (if you’re wondering, the actual solution is about 500 pages long).

But ladies, did you know that our sweater puppies can cause the earth to move?

No, not like that, I mean an actual earthquake? According to Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, Tehran’s acting Friday prayer leader, showing your cha-cha’s causes the ground to shake:

“Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes,”

Iran lives in one of the most earthquake prone regions of the world. The 2003 quake in Bam, a city in southern Iran, killed over 30,000 people.

So, what should people do? Relocate to a safer part of the country? No, don’t be silly.  According to Sedighi:

“There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam’s moral codes.”

Yeah, that will stabilize the tectonic plates that are shifting under Tehran as we speak. Besides, isn’t Iran one of the most conservative Muslim nation on the planet? Aren’t women already forced to go about their daily business covered head to foot so as not to cause ‘temptation’? Given their moral superiority over the rest of the fabricly challenged world, shouldn’t they be free of earthquakes? If you follow this man’s logic, shouldn’t a place like Brazil, or the south of France, where lots of people are practically naked all the time, be a hotspot for geological activity, not someplace, like, I don’t know, Iceland?

Jen McCreight - Instigator of the BoobquakeAt any rate, this whole ‘blame the loose women for the ills of the world’ attitude did not sit well with fourth year Purdue student, Jen McCreight. She issued a challenge last Monday on her Blag Hag blog for women to set their marimbas free on Monday, April 26th to see what kind of  geological destruction they can unleash on the world – all in the name of science of course.

“Time for a Boobquake.

On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. Yes, the one usually reserved for a night on the town. I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. Or short shorts, if that’s your preferred form of immodesty. With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake. If not, I’m sure Sedighi can come up with a rational explanation for why the ground didn’t rumble. And if we really get through to him, maybe it’ll be one involving plate tectonics.

So, who’s with me? I may be a D cup, but that will probably only produce a slight tremor on its own. If you’ll be joining me on twitter, use the tag #boobquake!”

There are two pages set up for the event on Facebook that has already attracted over 33,000 women since Monday ( Boobquake page 1, Boobquake page 2).

The response has been overwhelming for McCreight:

“So what started as a joke and somewhat sarcastic reply to the ludicrous notion that women’s immodesty causes earthquakes has now exploded. Seriously, internet, you scare and amaze me sometimes.”

She has since had to refine her challenge somewhat:

I just want to apologize if this comes off as demeaning toward women. To be honest, it started as silly joke that I hurriedly fired off since I was about to miss the beginning of House. I never thought it would get the attention it did. If I would have known, I would have spent more time being careful about my wording.

That being said, I don’t think the event is completely contrary to feminist ideals. I’m asking women to wear their most “immodest” outfit that they already would wear, but to coordinate it all on the same day for the sake of the experiment. Heck, just showing an ankle would be considered immodest by some people. I don’t want to force people out of their comfort zones, because I believe women have the right to choose how they want to dress. Please don’t pressure women to participate if they don’t want to. If men ogle, that’s the fault of the men, not me for dressing how I like. If I want to a show a little cleavage or joke about my boobs, that’s my prerogative.

In order to keep the project scientifically relevant, she also plans on doing a statistical analysis on the effect of Monday’s Boobquake event:

And to the scientists who are concerned with my methods – don’t worry, I fully plan on doing some statistics after the event. I know many earthquakes happen on a daily basis, so we’re looking to see if Boobquake significantly increases the number or severity of earthquakes. Or if an earthquake strikes West Lafayette, IN and only kills me, that may be good evidence of God’s wrath as well (I’m not too concerned). And yes, I know I need a larger sample size to make this good science. Maybe I’ll include Mardi [G]ras in my calculations.

So, who’s with me? I’ll be taking part in the event wearing my favorite (and conversely my mother’s most hated) shirt, a purple tunic top with a scandalously deep square neckline on Monday to see what the effect is. If you participate, remember, you’ll be holding the fate of the world in your D-cups!

Alternately, my husband thinks a flash mob of immodestly dressed women should have a sit in at the Iranian Embassy. And yes, the pun was intentional.

ETA: Culture Shocks’ interview with Jen McCreight

Via: Blag Hag, The Toronto Star and The Associated Press