Gender Equality Discussion Hampered By Poor Use of Language

ABC Good4Utah’s Randall Carlisle reported on a gender equality bake sale, where boys were forced to pay $1.00 for each item, whereas girls were only charged $0.77. The idea was to show how gender inequality was unfair, and while the bake sale was generally a good idea, the language associated with the bake sale and used in the article leaves room for improvement. The organizers of the bake sale were promoting white feminism more than anything, and the reporter used language that wasn’t as neutral and open-minded as one would expect from a reporter.

The organizers of the bake sale, all high school students, were pointing out how unfair the wage gap, and more broadly, gender inequality is. While this is true, the figures they used in their explanation revealed the lack of intersectionality in their fundraiser. While the wage gap is definitely a real thing, the $0.23 wage gap doesn’t take into account all the different marginalized groups women can be a part of; it is a number that only applies to white, cisgender, heterosexual, able bodied women. Black women in America make $0.64 for the white man’s dollar, and Latina women make even less- only $0.53. [Anderson] Trans women are hit even harder, making 32% less than what they’d made pre-transition. [Smith] It is also well documented that men of colour also suffer from the wage gap- black men make $0.75, and Latino men make $0.67 to the white man’s dollar; both figures are less than what a white woman makes in comparison to a white man. [Ashton, Infoplease] Disabled people, whether it is men or women or someone who fall outside of the gender binary, also generally make less than the white woman, if they even get hired at all. [Omaye] The bake sale doesn’t account for any of these marginalized groups; in fact, if you fell outside of the gender binary, would you have been able to purchase anything at all, without having to adjust your personal identity to fit the organizer’s standards? The bake sale is part of a bigger movement for gender equality in the workplace, but if the movement is based on a statistic that doesn’t account for anyone besides the white woman, is it really going to help anything? If your brand of feminism is white feminism, as opposed to intersectional feminism that fights the patriarchy for the benefit of both men and women (and everyone in between and outside the gender binary), how much change are you going to create? As Jake Knaphus, a student at the high school that hosted the bake sale said, the statistic that started it all is not necessarily correct and merits discussion. [Carlisle]

However, further analysis of the article reveals that the way the situation was reported on makes the bake sale seem more problematic than it might actually be. Though Jake Knaphus said he wanted to debate the statistic, we as readers don’t know how he approached the club. We don’t get to see the club’s perspective, so we are led to believe that the club members sent him away without giving him a chance, but whether or not this is true is not evident in the article. As is common in the patriarchy, the male’s opinion is given precedence, to the point where we don’t even get to hear the other side of the story. The story also focuses on the controversy of the bake sale, as opposed to the actual issue of gender inequality; instead of a discussion around how the bake sale came to be and why, Carlisle reports on how much debate it started around the school. While discussion was the point of the bake sale, so was awareness, but Carlisle doesn’t report on that at all.

There is also some problematic language used to discuss the issue in the article. A quote used in the article state that women deserve equal pay because “a lot of women out there are just as good as men out there”. This is problematic in two ways; first it says that women deserve equal pay because women work just as hard as men, not because women are inherently equal to men. Secondly, it doesn’t say that all women are equal, only that a lot of women are, again implying that a woman’s worth is dependent on whether they are as good as a man. Reporting on the issue this way shows how the reporter is still unaware of how the patriarchy is affecting the way he reports. Carlisle doesn’t dispute the statement, thereby implying that he supports it, thus proving that he is not reporting from an unbiased perspective.

In conclusion, this article is an example of how white feminism is not as effective as it appears, and of how poor reporting can make a situation seem more problematic than it actually is. The bake sale is based on a generally good premise, even if its lack of intersectionality is less than ideal, but the reporter presents it poorly, thereby making it seem worse than it is, while also supporting the patriarchy.

Works Cited

Anderson, Jessica Cumberbatch. “Wage Gap Hits African-American, Latina Women Hardest, Report Shows (INFOGRAPHIC).” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Ashton, Deborah. “Does Race or Gender Matter More to Your Paycheck?” Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Review, 10 June 2014. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Carlisle, Randall. “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School.” Good4Utah. ABC, 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Infoplease. “The Wage Gap by Gender and Race.” Infoplease. Infoplease, n.d. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Omaye, Jayna. “Study: Workers with Disabilities Paid 10% Less.” USA Today. Gannett, 23 Oct. 2013. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Smith, S.E. “Advocacy Organizations Must Not Ignore the Wage Gap for Transgender People.” RH Reality Check. RH Reality Check, 09 Oct. 2014. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Cultural Appropriation: an exploration of what it is and how it works.

When I was 8 years old, I moved to a new school and made one friend. She and I were friends because we were both outcasts; I was bullied for being the new kid who cried a lot, and she was bullied because she wore a bindi to school. When I moved to Kingston, people called my food gross, while simultaneously saying they loved samosas. When it comes to my culture, I’m never sure if I can embrace it without facing criticism from others, even if they do so without issue. So what is cultural appropriation? Does is mean someone can’t eat samosas if they’re not from South Asia? Does it mean that if you wear a bindi to a rave, you’re racist? Not necessarily, no. êkosi wrote a pretty good article about cultural appropriation, and argued that if it’s a restricted symbol, you probably shouldn’t be using it because you think it looks quirky or cool. Unrestricted symbols, like food and flags however? She says go for it! However, I argue that the line goes a little further than that; in my opinion, if you don’t like seeing someone from the culture wear a headdress or a bindi, or but you think it’s edgy and cute when you do, you’re definitely appropriating the culture. It’s a matter of respect! It’s not fair that I’m a “fob” (which stands for “fresh off the boat”, an ignorant term for someone who is newly immigrated) when I eat rice and curry. It’s not fair that my friend, (who was born and raised in Canada, but that’s beside the point) was told to go back to where she came from because her parents wanted her to connect with her roots and where a bindi everyday. It’s not fair that people of colour have to be aware of the stigma that sometimes comes attached with participating in their own culture, when other people don’t have to worry about that at all. There is usually a positionality attached to someone who has appropriated something from another culture; it often comes from a place of colonialism. As such, many people argue that the power structure that places white people on top makes it so that white people can’t do anything associated with another culture, because it will automatically be called cultural appropriation. I personally don’t think that’s the right way to approach it. A good example of how one person can partake in another culture without disrespecting or appropriating it is the recent Queen’s Indian Student Association Formal, where everyone on campus was invited to celebrate Indian culture and cuisine. All of my friends wore saris, whether they were white, Indian, or whatever they identified as. They wore them in celebration of the culture, with respect for the culture. And at the end of the night, they looked beautiful, and we all had a great time. Others argue that it is only cultural appropriation if it is a symbol being disrespected, so other people wearing bindis isn’t cultural appropriation because the religious and cultural importance of the bindi has been lost over the past few decades. Again, I’m not sure that this is the right way to approach it. It’s true that I don’t quite understand the significance of the bindi, but it is still a part of my culture. No traditional South Asian outfit is complete without a bindi, and I remember my mother telling me it was disrespectful to the gods if I wasn’t wearing a bindi when we went to the temple, even if I still don’t understand why. Even if the “official” symbolism behind the bindi has been lost to me, there is a cultural significance attached to it anyway, so it bothers me to see someone outside of the culture wear one to a rave just to look like a hipster. Of course, this leads to the next problem with trying to define cultural appropriation; that which is offensive to one person isn’t offensive to the next. It is impossible for one person to speak for an entire culture, especially when the culture has evolved as it is spread over so many countries and continents. So at the end of the day, what is cultural appropriation? I think the answer lies in understanding how to respect a culture. If you can come from a place of admiration of the culture as opposed to only admiring the item in question, you’re probably going to be okay. But if you’re wearing a bindi because you think “ooh, what a nice sparkly sticker!” I can guarantee you that you’ll be offending someone. If you wear a headdress because you think, “oh man, this is so hipster”, you’re doing it wrong. Do your research, understand what you’re wearing and why, and wear it in celebration of the culture, and odds are, you’ll be doing so in an unproblematic fashion- and that’s a pretty good goal to have. Words: 821

First Period The Movie: A Scathing Review (because seriously, what is up with this movie?)

For what is objectively a very well done movie, it is surprising that Brandon Alexander III’s “First Period” is as much of a flop as it is. Most elements of the film like the set, writing, music, and cinematography were well done, if not the most interesting, but somehow when it was all put together, this film was like an awful Superbad remake with vagina jokes instead of penis jokes.

I can understand how scenographically, many of the choices made about the set made sense, but sometimes the set elements were more interesting than the characters on screen; for example, when Cassie (played by Brandon Alexander III) left for her first day of school, I was distracted by the massive red roses on the poorly hung wallpaper behind her. While the roses added to the 80s aesthetic the film had, it was generally overwhelming and often more entertaining than the characters.

Of course, the set was more entertaining than the characters because they were annoying and boring. Besides having an all white cast (because of course, people of colour didn’t exist in the 80s), Cassie was the definition of emphasized femininity with the added bonus of having no filter. In this film meant she made way too many jokes about sex that were less funny and more cringe worthy. Her description on the First Period Movie website even says she is “the fresh-faced new girl who doesn’t take “no” or “get off me” for an answer”.1 Terrifying implications about consent aside, I will never understand why the writer felt the need to make Cassie want to star in a child pornography magazine, because it was not humorous at all; it made light of the trauma actual sexual abuse victims have gone through, and it reinforced the idea that the victim was “asking for it”, because Cassie literally asked for it.

(Continuing this trend of desperately unhealthy views on sex, Other Heather is in a very scary relationship with her teacher, Mr. Klein, who comes equipped with what is colloquially known as a “pedophile moustache”.)

Maggie was a flat character with approximately three character traits that didn’t change during the (entirely too long) 100 minutes movie. The only thing I appreciated about her character was that Dudley Beene, who appears to identify and express himself as a male, played her. Instead of making transphobic jokes at Maggie’s expense, the movie ignored the fact that the role of Maggie (a presumably cisgender girl) was played by a man. Maggie simply was Maggie, the awkward girl at school. This is perhaps a step in the right direction for transgender representation as it lessens the stigma of seeing transgender people on screen.

The costuming, music, and cinematography were all right, but nothing extraordinary. I wouldn’t comment on them at all except that they were the only things in this film that didn’t make me deeply uncomfortable. They fit the 80s vibe the film had going on and they didn’t distract me by being noticeably poorly done, so props to the crew for giving the cast a mediocre background of make a fool of themselves in front of.

This film made me deeply uncomfortable. If I’m being honest, at the end of the movie, I walked away and took a shower because it made me feel dirty. I was horrified by the child pornography jokes and the generally cavalier attitude this film had towards safe sex practices and healthy sexual relationships. I was bored by the (appallingly unoriginal) story and annoyed by the characters. The best that I can say is that some elements weren’t as bad as they could have been. It was just not a good movie, and I am disappointed by the fact that I spent actual money to go see it.

The experience of going to a film festival was interesting but not particularly ground breaking for me. The Screening Room is essentially like any other movie theatre, where I went in, watched a movie, and left. The only new thing about the experience was having the movie introduced to me by one of the film festival organizers, but really, that’s not something that changed the experience so much that I am now in love with film festivals.

I was seated in the back of the theatre, beside a person who appeared to be biologically male; however they were dressed in a very short dress with thigh high stockings and heeled boots. While I am all for people embracing whatever makes them comfortable, they were extremely fidgety, constantly fixing their tights, or messing with their hair. I can appreciate how nerve wracking it must have been for them to be out in public and feel like they were being judged but it was very, very, annoying to keep being hit by their elbows when they went to adjust something or another. It was also a little terrifying when they started moaning halfway through the movie. They had been commenting on things all throughout the movie, but as we neared the climax of the story, they made a noise that was weird combination of a moan and a cheer. I was worried that perhaps they were sick until I realized they were just expressing happiness at the main characters finally defeating their enemies, but all in all, it made for a very odd viewing experience.

  1. Alexander III, Brandon. “First Period – a New Film by Charlie Vaughn.” First Period – a New Film by Charlie Vaughn. First Period The Movie, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <http://www.firstperiodmovie.com/&gt;.

Word Count: 892