On Storify: “Sorry GoldieBlox, I’m #notbuyingit”

Storify is a great tool to integrate articles on the web and social media pieces into a blog post! I played around with the site this week for my blog post.

The upcoming Holiday season is an exciting time for everyone. Just the other day, I was shopping at my local Target in London, ON. For my masculinities class, we were asked to post examples of ‘gender’ in our class web forum. So at Target, I immediately went into the toy section. Low and behold:


Girls’ toys section at Target

Behind this shelf was this display:


Boys’ toys section at Target

It was interesting to see that the boys and girls aisles did not face each other, but instead were standing back-to-back. And even though there wasn’t a sign that stated “Boys’ Toys” and “Girls’ Toys” in each section, the coloured backsplash on the shelves made it pretty clear.

You can read all about gendered toys and gendered play here on Storify.

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(De)coding the man’s game



The glass ceiling. It’s an on-going conversation that’s loaded with history and politics. There is no single solution for a topic so intertwined with accessibility, the economy, and the politics of institutions such as education.


The concern with the glass ceiling in the 21st century seems to be narrowed down to a specific industry in a specific area: Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley is home to many tech companies such as Google, Apple, and Netflix. This is a place fosters innovation and creativity, but is also known for being a ‘boys club’. Why is there a lack of women in the tech industry? A segment from Monday’s Fox Business was aired where British economist journalist Stuart Varney asked:

“Is there something with the female brain that is a deterrent for getting on board with tech… is there?”


Can you guess which is ‘male’ and ‘female’? (Click to expand image)

Even though Varney recognized that this was an extremely “politically incorrect” statement, he fails to recognize how offensive this statement is. This was an example of essentialism, whereby Varney alluded to the fact that there are innate differences between men and women. I’m not sure where the scientific proof is which states that men and women’s brains function differently, to a point where there is something unattractive of a woman’s brain. But I’m pretty sure this research doesn’t exist.



The issue is not with the female brain. Rather, it is an issue of the social factors that deter or make it unwelcoming for women in the tech industry. The Daily Beast published an article titled, “Dating Woes for Women in Tech”.  The piece was based on an interview with Jean Yang, one of two women in her Harvard undergrad class with a degree in computer science, was advised not to accept a prestigious position in MIT’s Ph.D. program. Some of the reasons included: MIT is a place for antisocial male nerds, Yang didn’t look like a scientist, and she wasn’t “geeky” enough.

Simply put, Yang just didn’t look the part. The stereotypes of people in the tech industry continued to affect Yang outside her studies. She even admitted:

“I’ve definitely felt that I’ve had to downplay my femininity – and romantic desirability – in professional settings”


Sheldon is often confused by Amy’s ‘sudden need’ for romance

It seems that one of the ways women can compete in industries dominated by men is to downplay their femininity and desirability. They have to walk the walk to talk the talk. This is also replayed in the relationship between Sheldon and Amy in the popular television series The Big Bang Theory. Their emotional unavailability is often used for humour in the show. Oftentimes, Amy reveals a yearn for romance from Sheldon, yet he does not notice because he has come to accept her as a reputable scientist: someone who does not need such ‘feelings’. This then creates a tension in their relationship, as Amy struggles to find her place between being a colleague and girlfriend to Sheldon.


The underlying message reinforces the fact that women just can’t have it all. If they want to be respected for their intelligence, they must abandon their femininity and adopt masculinity. But if women want romance, they must play up their femininity and dumb down their ‘lady brain’. This is very much an experience that many women have endured, such as Nicole Sullivan, who reveals in her blog “Women in Technology”:

That guy only wants to work with you because he wants to sleep with you. None of your ideas are that interesting, I’m just saying, don’t get mad, it is the only possible explanation.

Sullivan also shares her experience in meeting other ‘girl geeks’ for support. Conferences and gatherings celebrating women in tech is a great way to make the industry more welcoming. Women in tech stand out because they are a visible minority. We need to look towards eliminating sexism in the tech industry in order to women to be represented by their work, not their body.


As a university student, I value my education and know that the skills I am learning now will be assets I will use and reuse throughout my career. My university experience is also shaped by my colleagues: discussions and ideas take place on a daily basis that challenge my ‘lady brain’ to think outside the box.

What are some ways YOU use your ‘lady brain’ to challenge gender norms and sexism? Join the conversation, click here to Tweet using #ladybrains.


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Sexualizing Young Female Hollywood Entertainers: How Miley’s NOT ‘just being Miley’

I watched Miley Cyrus’ cover of Lana Del Ray’s Summertime Sadness on YouTube the other day and was pleasantly surprised. Although I’m not a fan of her other work, I sure respect her vocal skills! It’s interesting to see how her brand works between two extremes, being the good girl/bad girl image. This is also extremely frustrating because although she can really sing (good girl), she dresses provocatively and takes part in some uncomfortably transgressive behaviour (bad girl). If everyone respects her voice and makes fun of her dress, then why does she still do it?

I took this rant to YouTube, where I published my first #feministrant.

New Girl Feminist Rant

Check it out, and let me know what you think!


If you haven’t seen Miley’s BBC Radio 1’s performance, you can catch it here:


Disney has always been successful in branding their child actors, but this comes to a price when their grown-up self find it difficult to leave their past behind. In order to help the public realize that they’re adults now, drastic measures must be taken. Miley is a classic example: she was once known as Hannah Montana, but now she’s known for crossing all sorts of blurred lines.

But the Miley-related headlines this year hasn’t been the first time she’s been under the spotlight for provocative behaviour. Her third studio album, Can’t be Tamed, was released in June 2010 and marked her transition from child-friendly music to music that was supposed to suit 16 year olds like herself at the time.


Miley’s Bird Cage 2010

Though it sold over 1 million copies internationally and was considered a relatively successful album, nobody remembers it. The album’s feature song ‘Can’t be Tamed’ released a music video of a brunette Miley inside a giant bird cage, perhaps it was a nod to Lindsay Lohan’s ‘Rumours’ music video in 2004?


Lindsay’s Bird Cage 2004

The bird cage metaphor is clearly intentional. Young Hollywood celebrities feel the pressures of being a living spectacle. This is directly linked to Marilyn Frye’s Politics of Reality, who uses the analogy of the birdcage to explain why many people do not see oppression.

“If you look very closely at just one wire in the cage, you cannot see the other wires. If your conception of what is before you is determined by this myopic focus, you could look at that one wire, up and down the length of it, and be unable to see why a bird would not just fly around the wire any time it wanted to go somewhere … It is only when you step back, stop looking at the wires one by one, microscopically, and take a macroscopic view of the whole cage, that you can see why the bird does not go anywhere; and then you will see it in a moment.”

As the public, we think that celebrities are privileged and have so much freedom – but that we looking closely at just one wire in the cage. We need to step back and see the cage as a whole to understand that although the bird is flying, it is flying within the confinements of the wires. It is not free at all.

As spectators, we have an unequivocal power over these celebrities; like any performers, their pay comes out of our pockets, so of course they want to keep us entertained and interested. But we are so mystified by the glamour of the Hollywood scene that we are just waiting to see what happens next. By fueling this behaviour, we as a community are accepting the sexualization of young women in media. But if talking about this behaviour seems to do more bad than good, what kind of conversations do we need to start having in order to change our perception of ‘entertainment’?



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Which Disney Princess movies pass the Bechdel test?


Goofy, Donald Duck, Mickey and Minnie Mouse

Last week, I was visiting Orlando, Florida for the first time and of course I had to stop by Disney World. As soon as we landed in Magic Kingdom and weaved our way through Main Street, I needed some time soak in the atmosphere (and some sun) in front of Cinderella Castle. I’ve been to Disneyland a couple of times in Los Angeles, but there’s something about Cinderella Castle that feels so grand and magical.

All of a sudden, music starts coming from the castle, and Donald Duck and Goofy jump out. Talk about timing! We had just made it in time for the last show of the day.

I was a huge Disney Princess fan as a child. So when Aurora, Cinderella and Snow White made an appearance on stage, it was really a dream come true.


Cinderella and Prince Charming, Aurora and Prince Phillip, Mickey and Minnie, Snow White and The Prince

But the more time I spent at Disney World, the more questions I had. We had passed by little girls who were wearing Princess dresses, and even a parlour where they could get a Princess makeover! What’s so appealing about the Princesses other than the fact that they all found true loves at the end of their story? What was it about them that I was, and these kids are attracted to?

I owned all the Disney Princess movies. The sole purpose of our VHS was for my Disney Princess tapes. And when I heard the recent news about the Bechdel test, it got me thinking: which Disney Princess movies would pass this test?

The Bechdel test is Sweden’s latest attempt to highlight sexism in cinema. Movies that pass the Bechdel test would receive an “A” letter grade. The test has 3 rules:

  1. There are two women with names in the film.
  2. They talk to each other at some point.
  3. They talk to each other about something other than a man.

Sounds simple enough right?


Much to my disappointment, there are a lot of popular Hollywood films that failed the test, including: Up, all but one of the Harry Potter movies, and Toy Story 1 and 2. If these kid-friendly movies failed the test, what would it mean for Disney princess movies, stories that are centered on a female character, to fail the test?



  1. There are two women with names in the film.
    There’s only one woman in the film with a name – Jasmine.

The Little Mermaid

  1. There are two women with names in the film.
    Ariel, Ursula, Carlotta the maid, Ariel’s sisters (Attina, Aquata, Andrina, Adella, Arista and Alana)
  2. They talk to each other at some point.
    Ursula talks to Ariel
  3. They talk to each other about something other than a man.
    There has been much debate about this last point. Some say, “fails” because Ariel talks to Ursula, but the entire conversation is about her becoming human so she can get the Prince. Others disagree and say that Carlotta talks to Ariel about having been washed up from a shipwreck… but Ariel does not speak and only replies through body language in this scene. There’s also the argument about the song ‘Daughter’s of Triton’, which featuring the seven sisters; but the second line is “great father who loves us and named us well”. So I’ve concluded that the movie fails because of this last point.

Beauty and the Beast

  1. There are two women with names in the film.
    Belle, Mrs. Potts.
    There have also been some debates on whether this movie passes the Bechdel test. I argue that this movie fails on this first point because although Mrs. Potts was once a real life woman, she was not presented as one in the film. And obviously, objects should not count as woman.





Sleeping Beauty

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Pass: NEW! Disney princesses of the 21st century



The Princess and the Frog




I haven’t seen these new Disney princess movies, so I’m not that familiar with the plot lines or the princesses’ personalities. Although the rules of the Bechdel test leave a lot of room for interpretation, it is great to see that the Disney Princesses of the 21st century pass. Of course, there are still lots of criticism about the storylines, but it’s good start.




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To be, or not to be… a ‘feminist’ you say?

That’s just like, the rules of feminism.

The problem with studying Women’s Studies in University is that people expect you to identify as a feminist. And the problem with identifying as a feminist is that people expect you to act like a feminist. All the time. A close friend and I were having a conversation the other day and she looked at me and said, “sometimes the things you say… I don’t know… aren’t you supposed to be in women’s studies?”

I’d like to think that learning about the feminist movement from different ideologies (radical, liberal, post-structural, the list goes on) has made me a better person. Luce Irigaray explained to me how how social norms are reproduced in everyday language, which makes it so easy for us to be passive to its effects. bell hooks taught me that everyone faces social injustices based on their intersectionality. Judith Butler imprinted the notion that gender is a spectrum – there is no definition of ‘masculinity’ or ‘femininity’.

But to embody all this theory seems to get quite complicated. What does being a feminist even mean?

I took this to Facebook, and asked a couple of my friends for their opinions:

“Someone who thinks women are unequal to men and believe that women SHOULD be equal to men.”

“Independent, strong-willed woman.”

“A feminist is someone who is outspoken about equality and rights for women. Or supports it.”

“A woman who dislikes the notion that men and women have different gender roles.”

I took a closer look at four answers – two from boys and two from girls. I was surprised that nobody said that feminists think that they’re better than men, or think that feminists are women want take over the world.

So then I asked: what does a feminist LOOK like?

“Hmm… I don’t really ascribe physical characteristics with a mode of thought. But people think that feminists are un-sexed females. Females who are robbed of their femininity.”

“I have no idea. I don’t really pin certain ‘looks’ to feminist.”

“A woman who has a very strong personality that is vocal about issues. Is articulate with her standpoint on issues and is a good public speaker.”

“I don’t know. I can’t generalize. That’s stereotyping. You don’t have to look like something to be like something. So a feminist can be fashionable or not. Doesn’t matter. They still carry their values regardless.”

Again I was surprised. None of them used terms like unshaven, butch, angry, or weird. For most of them, it was “what’s in the inside that counts”.

I wish we could bake a cake...

If only it were that simple.

I’m still on the journey in defining ‘my feminism’. The feminist community is big and growing everyday. But on a day-to-day basis I still feel like I’m fighting this battle alone. I agree with some theorists, but I also reject some ideas. So I’ve come to the conclusion that my feminist perspective is unique and original to everyone else’s. In fact, everyone is entitled to their own system of beliefs, therefore everyone’s feminist perspective is different to some degree. In that case, I argue that we need feminism and that feminism is not over. The question is no longer ‘to be, or not to be’. Instead, we should be asking ‘how do we be and why do we be’?


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