Tags: biology, bodies, gender, marketing/brands, sex/sexuality, biological determinism, dress negotiation, gender blame, sexism, sexual objectification, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: This commercial from Duluth Trading Company is an accurate example of the ways in which women are subtlety encouraged to participate in forms of security from men’s seemingly-natural demeanor. Indeed, through the purchase and use of a Duluth Trading Company "Longtail" t-shirt, women are promised the security from the "gawking gopher," a character that stares as the fictional female character bends to perform a task. The blame, in this case, is placed on women for not covering up, perhaps framed as a feminine task to help men sooth their "inherent" tendencies to be hypersexual. From this born-this-way perspective, men avoid responsibility for their objectification of women. This means that, among other things, men are also excluded as solutions to such an issue. Instead of discouraging men to “gawk” through a deconstruction of the relationship between masculinity and objectification, this commercial delicately—yet notably—places the male response to a women’s body as a natural reaction that can only be solved through the further policing of women’s bodies.
Submitted By: Peter Rydzewski
Tags: inequality, intersectionality, lgbtq, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, sex/sexuality, homophobia, racism, systems of power, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In a recent interview with Arsenio Hall (start 3:33; end 5:35), RuPaul provides a pithy explanation of how power, privilege, and inequality operate by similar logic structures across different social and historical contexts. After referencing football player Michael Sam's recent decision to come out as gay just prior to the NFL draft, Arsenio asks RuPaul to reflect on homophobia in the black community. RuPaul responds by reframing the discussion to take on a more systemic perspective of how power works, drawing parallels to the oppressions faced by black and queer people. Arsenio plays "devil's advocate" by evoking (though not explicitly referencing) black people's history with slavery, a history never experienced exclusively by gay people. RuPaul replies by explaining how racism, homophobia, and other systems of oppression rely on the same logic structures, in that they all revolve around "the ego needing to strengthen itself through putting someone else down. That's the similarity. And that's the same for people who have been oppressed for religion or race or sexuality." While sociologists might use slightly different vocabulary (for example, focusing less on "the ego"), sociologists draw attention to the same insight, illustrating how, as Allan Johnson argues, different forms of oppression all rely on systemic "patterns of exclusion, rejection, privilege, harassment, discrimination, and violence" (697). For the full interview between RuPaul and Arsenio, click here.
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp
Tags: inequality, lgbtq, prejudice/discrimination, sex/sexuality, ally, coming out, 61+ mins
Summary: Ally is a documentary exploring what it means to support and defend members of the LGBTQ community in the 21st century. Featuring interviews with parents, educators, artists, writers, and members that identify as LGBTQ, the film analyzes current stereotypes in the media; struggles experienced by members of the LGBTQ community and their families; how to support a friend or family member who is "coming out"; allyship within the LGBTQ community; and gender identity and discrimination in the work place. Each clip in the documentary features a testimony from a different speaker, offering a different perspective and opportunity for classroom discussion. Any of the individual speaker's analyses can be a constructive means to spur discussion.
Submitted By: Timothy Lydon
Tags: children/youth, crime/law/deviance, discourse/language, gender, immigration/citizenship, inequality, intersectionality, media, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, sex/sexuality, stereotypes, 06 to 10 mins
Summary: Star Jones briefly hosted a live talk show from August 2007 until February 2008, and in one of the show's segments she covered the story of Kelsey Peterson, a 25-year-old teacher who sexually assaulted her 13-year-old student, who happened to be an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. The above video features a telephone interview, where Jones asks Peterson's attorney, James Martin Davis, whether he believes it is possible for a 13-year-old child to give consent. Martin responds, "I resent the word 'child.' You're baby-fying this kid. This kid is a Latino machismo teenager...Is there anyone in the world who has a higher sex drive than a teenage boy." Jones admonishes Martin for his casual racism and ends the interview. In a follow-up segment, she invites the attorney for the victim, Amy Peck, and scholar Marc Lamont Hill to discuss the racist exchange, as well as the impact of racial thinking on the case. Although Star Jones and her guests largely frame the interview in terms of race, this video offers a nice foray into a larger discussion about how multiple dimensions of inequality intersect to shape the way people experience the criminal justice system and whether victims of crime become the recipients of public sympathy. Jones suggests a useful thought experiment by asking people to imagine that the race and gender of the participants are reversed. The question can be usefully posed: How would the story be discussed and reported by the media and interested parties if the victim was a young white girl and the perpetrator an older Latino man? Also, what difference does it make that the teenager was an undocumented Mexican immigrant, and how might the current discourse surrounding Mexican immigrants shape sympathy for the victim?
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
Tags: discourse/language, gender, knowledge, lgbtq, sex/sexuality, gender ambiguity, gender neutral pronouns, 00 to 05 mins
Access: Yahoo Screen
Summary: What is it, exactly, about gender ambiguity that is presumed to be so funny? Referencing the now classic Saturday Night Live sketch comedy "It's Pat," I pose this question to students when teaching about the deeply embedded ways that gender structures our society. Not to be conflated with genital ambiguity (which focuses on sex characteristics), gender ambiguity refers to a type of gender presentation in which a person's gender (e.g., man or woman) is unclear. In this clip (season 17, episode 3), coworkers throw the androgynous fictional character Pat O'Neil Riley (played by Julia Sweeney) a surprise birthday party. As with all segments in the series, people's interactions with Pat center around trying to decipher Pat's gender; overwhelmingly, Pat's indeterminate gender is framed to be a source of deep confusion for others, to the point where the social interaction is compromised, thus resulting in a presumably comedic scenario. Throughout the skit, co-workers search for clues that might give insight into Pat's gender, as they are unsure how to behave around Pat without this knowledge. For example, a male co-worker doesn't know whether putting his arm around Pat's shoulders is an appropriate form of consoling. Similarly, in this clip (as well as others in the series), Pat's acquaintances ask questions that might reveal the gender of Pat's romantic affection, assuming that the romantic partner would be of the "opposite" gender (this assumption illustrates the concept of heteronormativity). The fact that something so simple as not knowing one's gender can compromise entire social interactions, and that we have culturally defined this as "funny," illustrates how profoundly this social construction organizes society. Specifically, viewers can see the demand that language imposes on knowing one's gender, as co-workers don't know whether to use terms like mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, or fellow, and they struggle to substitute gender neutral terms like child, sibling, and person. While the skit's theme song aims to "humorously" represent the limitations of language, it resorts to the offensive notion that individuals with an ambiguous gender are an "it" or a "that." In addition to illustrating the limits of language, this clip is useful for introducing students to the utility and importance of gender neutral pronouns in our lexicon, such as ze, hir, and xem.
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp
Tags: biology, bodies, class, crime/law/deviance, demography/population, disability, discourse/language, gender, health/medicine, immigration/citizenship, intersectionality, lgbtq, nationalism, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, science/technology, sex/sexuality, institutionalized discrimination, eugenics, subtitles/CC, 11 to 20 mins, 21 to 60 mins
Year: 2012; 2013
Length: 15:05; 17:25
Access: YouTube (clip 1; clip 2)
Summary: The eugenics movement has a long history in the United States. A popular misconception is that eugenic thinking and the associated practices were uniformly abandoned after the Third Reich's genocidal intentions were laid bare at the end of the Second World War. In point of fact, eugenic ideologies and practices have been recalcitrant features of American social institutions right up until the present day. In her book American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism, Nancy Ordover remarks on the resiliency of the ideology, "Eugenics..is a scavenger ideology, exploiting and reinforcing anxieties over race, gender, sexuality, and class and bringing them into the service of nationalism, white supremacy, and heterosexism." In earlier decades eugenicists could openly discuss stemming the "overflow" of immigration, as an effort to "dry up...the streams that feed the torrent of defective and degenerate protoplasm." The language of eugenics would eventually change, but the core ideas have remained; socially deviant groups and socially undesirable conditions are seen by eugenicists as biologically determined. The above clips are news stories, which draw attention to two recent manifestations of eugenics policy. The first clip chronicles the experience of an African American woman who was legally sterilized in the late 1960s in North Carolina after giving birth to her first son. The clip reports that between 1929 and 1974 approximately 7,600 North Carolinians were sterilized for a host of dubious reasons, from "feeble-mindedness" to "promiscuity." But while North Carolina's victims included men, women, and children, Ordover's research points out that the victims were overwhelmingly women and African American (by 1964 African Americans composed 65% of all women sterilized in the state). The first clip, then, is an example of how eugenics became institutionalized with the force of law, but the second news clip examines a case of institutionalized eugenics in California, which existed without the explicit consent of law. In 1909 California became the third state to pass a compulsory sterilization law, allowing prisons and other institutions to sterilize "moral degenerates" and "sexual perverts showing hereditary degeneracy." By 1979, when the law was finally repealed, the state had already sterilized as many as 20,000 people, or about one-third of the total number of such victims throughout the United States. One learns from the news clip that between 2006 and 2010, 148 women were sterilized by doctors who continued to be guided by the precepts of their eugenic ideology.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
Tags: biology, gender, lgbtq, sex/sexuality, agender, cisgender, gender expression, gender identity, genderqueer, queer, subtitles/CC, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: Peer sex educator and YouTube sensation Laci Green breaks down the gender binary in this four minute video. Green proposes that the binary is kind of like two different suitcases packed with distinct expectations and beliefs, and which are arbitrarily imposed on people based on their genitalia. What this means is that the gender identity people adopt for themselves is sometimes different than the gender identity parents and medical professionals assign people at birth. As Green explains, Cis or Cisgender refers people whose gender identity aligns with the gender they were assigned at birth, while trans* or transgender typically designates people who identify as a gender, which is different than the one they were assigned at birth. In contrast, people who identify as agender do not subscribe to being either a man or a woman, and genderqueer is more of an umbrella term that similarly denotes people who refuse to identify with being either a man or a woman, but also includes people who simultaneously identify with aspects of both genders. The video works nicely as a short introduction to the gender binary, and the flurry of terms that emerge as a result of the fact that no single gender identity or expression perfectly corresponds to biological features, such as genitalia, chromosomes, or even the capacity to birth children. Laci Green does a good job of revealing that the gender binary is a rather unstable proposition and far more fluid than what is often pretended. Perhaps this inherent instability is why people so often seek to moor gender to biology, which they imagine to be more stable (e.g., "Getting pregnant made me feel like a woman," "Men are naturally more aggressive than women."). Yet instructors can push students to consider the way biology itself also fails to conform to a binary system of categorization. Contrary to popular belief, men have estrogen, women produce testosterone, chromosomes do not reliably determine sex, and the intersex community reminds us that despite the longstanding efforts of surgeons there is often more to genitalia than penises and vaginas.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
Tags: bodies, gender, media, sex/sexuality, violence, music video, rape culture, sexual violence, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: [Trigger Warning for sexual assault] As defined in Transforming a Rape Culture, "A rape culture is a complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women." Robin Thicke's huge summer hit, Blurred Lines (it reached #1 in 14 countries), has been widely discussed as an example of rape culture. In fact, it has been so controversial that at least 5 universities in the UK have banned the song. They argued the song objectifies women, and "is a man suggesting that there are ‘blurred lines’ when it comes to sexual consent" ; the ban is meant to “end rape culture ... on campus.” While Thicke states he wrote the song about his wife (who nonetheless can be raped by their husbands), and that the lyrics have been misconstrued, the lyrics are strikingly similar to the words rapists have often told their victims. This argument was made in an excellent blog post by Sezin Koehler at SocImages, where Koehler linked the song lyrics to testimonies from Project Unbreakable, an online photo exhibit of "sexual assault survivors where they are photographed holding a poster with a quote from their attacker." For example, the main lyrics (repeated 18 times) of "I know you want it" is a line given to many victims, and implies that women really want sex when they say they do not. As he sings "Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you. He don’t smack your ass and pull your hair like that," Thicke's misogynistic fantasy conveys that "a woman doesn’t want a 'square' who’ll treat her like a human being and with respect" (Koehler). Even if viewers give Thicke the benefit of the doubt concerning the intention of his lyrics, one still has to consider the effects of the video's message on its audience. As this video excerpt from Dreamworlds 3 illustrates, music videos (like other forms of popular culture) socialize us into prescribed gender roles regarding sexuality. And in a video where the women are all scantily clad (or nude in the unedited version of the video), and never speak, they reproduce a view of women as passive objects meant to fulfill men's fantasies. Meanwhile, men are trained to think of themselves as dominating figures meant to aggressively pursue what they desire, and to disregard women's stated sexual preferences. Viewers may also be interested in the many parodies of the video, including the Law Revue Girls' "Defined Lines" where they respond “Yeah we don’t want it/ It’s chauvinistic/ You’re such a bigot ... You can't just grab me/ That's a sex crime.”
Submitted By: Paul Dean
Mike Rugnetta explains the three waves of feminism
Tags: gender, inequality, media, social mvmts/social change/resistance, sex/sexuality, adventure time, bmo, feminism, first wave feminism, gender binary, popular culture, pronouns, second wave feminism, third wave feminism, subtitles/CC, 06 to 10 mins
Summary: This quirky little clip comes from the Idea Channel, which describes itself as "a weekly web series that examines the evolving relationship between modern technology and art." In it, bearded host Mike Rugnetta explores a connection between feminist theory and the animated television show Adventure Time. Fans of the animated series will recall that one of the minor characters is a sentient video console named BMO. Rugnetta argues that since this walking and talking gadget generally skirts the strictures of the gender binary system in a number of creative ways, the character can be read as expressive of Third Wave Feminism. On that point, Rugnetta breaks into a useful discussion of the three waves of feminism. The first wave emerged from the 19th century, and as Rugnetta surmises, it was concerned with "institutionalized inequalities, like women gaining the right to vote, executing contracts, or owning property." Another way of thinking about the first wave is that it sought to remove obstacles that prevented women from fully participating in public life and spheres of formal power. The right to vote is one such obstacle, but first wavers were also concerned with securing the right to attend such organizations as medical schools and labor unions. The second wave, by contrast, is most associated with the 1960s and 1970s. Rugnetta explains that the second wave "broadened its focus to cultural inequalities." It should also be noted that the second wave expanded the struggle for equality back into the private sphere, and cast a spotlight on such issues as domestic violence. Finally, the third wave, which is typically associated with the present moment, has broadened its focus even more by recognizing the way people are intersected by such dimensions as gender, race, class, and sexuality. As the BMO character exemplifies, Third Wave Feminism is also critical of the gender binary, or the cultural and social structures that divide people, roles, behaviors, occupations, and objects of consumption into strictly masculine and feminine spheres.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
This scene emphasizes the importance of consent.
Tags: children/youth, foucault, gender, sex/sexuality, theory, violence, rape, sexual consent, sexual violence, subtitles/CC, 11 to 20 mins
Access: Fáðu já (English subtitles available)
Summary: [Trigger Warning: This film includes scenes depicting and discussing rape and sexual violence.] Fáðu Já! (“Get a Yes!”) is an educational film from Iceland on sexual consent. The film functions on two levels: 1) it analyzes, and is a good way to initiate discussions on, sexual relationships and violence; and 2) it offers an illustration about cultural differences in the public discourse about sex education and sexual violence. First, sometimes with humor and sometimes with sobering seriousness, the film addresses a number of issues about sexual relationships and is aimed at teenagers. Topics include: the dangers of learning about sex from porn or music videos; the fundamental importance of getting consent from one's sexual partner; acknowledgement of the positive dimensions and frequent awkwardness of sexual activity; knowing sexual boundaries; the definition of rape; and the prevalence and dangers of sexual violence. Second, the film is an interesting illustration of cultural differences around public discourses of sex. Many viewers (especially American viewers) may be surprised to know that this film was shown to teenagers in all schools across Iceland on January 30th, 2013. As noted in this review, the film "is part of a government-sponsored awareness initiative that is focused on violent crimes of a sexual nature against children." It had the support of Iceland's Ministry of Education, Ministry of Welfare, and the Ministry Internal Affairs, with the purpose of developing "preventative material regarding sexual violence." According to an interview with one of the film's creators, "The response was overwhelming. The project got a whole lot of media attention and was featured on pretty much every talk show in the country. The reporters and journalists ... all interviewed us, more or less. The reviews were extremely positive and I barely heard any negative feedback. Some of the older, ‘cooler’ teenagers said that it was obviously made for the younger kids – but we think the film is for everyone who has ever reached puberty." Finally, the video is theoretically interesting from the perspective of Foucault, who in The History of Sexuality (1978), links discourses of sexuality to power. On the one hand, the video was shaped by official ministries and is tied to expert knowledge, and it clearly links positive sexual activity to relationships of love. On the other hand, and contrary to discourses that shame adolescent sexuality or characterize it as unnatural (Foucault 1978: 104), the video acknowledges its positive dimensions. The video also does not explicitly define acceptable forms of sexuality (at least not beyond consensual sex associated with love), thereby partially decentering this conversation by encouraging viewers to know and create their own boundaries. Furthermore, from a feminist perspective, the film can be seen as empowering victims of sexual assault. (Note: when showing this video in the US, instructors may want to provide the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1.800.656.HOPE)
Submitted By: Anonymous
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