Tag Archives: sexism

Makeup is not Freedom

As I go into the final stretch of my undergraduate education here at Radford University, I’m preparing to enter into the adult world of employment. I, like many of my peers, am searching online sites and talking to different professors about potential job opportunities in my field. For the first time I’m looking at jobs that offer an annual salary and health benefits, wondering which ones I qualify for, and what to do to ensure I get the job I want. What to wear to an interview, and what to put in my resume. That’s what I’m focusing on in the last four weeks of the semester, not, for the first time in years, on my finals.

As a woman, I have a whole slew of things I have to consider when it comes to presenting myself to future employers. How high my heels are, how short my skirt, how to style my hair and most importantly what is the exact right amount of makeup. These questions are debated over and over until I finally perfect my interview outfit.

I’ve been told by many people that makeup is a tool. It’s a form of self-expression and it’s freeing. Strong women wear makeup, and they use it to show off their inner beauty. These same people were also trying to sell me thick concealers and foundations so maybe they were a little biased.

Here’s the thing. I love makeup. I’m the kind of girl that owns bright purple lipstick that I will wear around the house just for fun. But makeup isn’t freedom. It’s not strength. It’s definitely not a sign of great feminism. Women are expected to wear makeup in the professional world. Women who do are paid more and are more likely to be given promotions. Women who don’t are told they aren’t dressed appropriately. There are real-life consequences for me if I don’t put this gunk on my face.

No matter how people want to spin makeup to me, it still doesn’t change that fact. Girls can love makeup. They can become amazing artists and even make careers out of the field. But this one fact remains. Makeup isn’t freedom. It’s another way that society has made women feel like they are not enough. That we need to cover up our very skin in order to look appropriate to work in a cubicle. That’s damaging. Don’t buy into the idea that makeup is for strong women because that only deludes you into believing that you are benefiting from a system that preys on your insecurities and weaknesses.

Toxic Masculinity and Men’s Emotions

We talk a lot about how sexism affects women, but sexism is a double-edged sword. It not only has massive effects on women and how they go about their lives, but negatively impacts men in ways we tend to ignore. For example, consider young boys of about 12 or 13 – what emotions do they openly show? Do they hug their friends?

Now consider girls of the same age, and the difference is astounding. Young girls are very physically affectionate with their close friends; they openly share emotions and are seen showing a much wider range of them. Young boys are limited in their expression because of how our society views masculinity. Showing sadness is a sign of weakness, and elation is seen as caring too much. This leads to many problems with boys growing into men and the way they have relationships and show emotions later in life.

Many men in adulthood don’t have close friendships with other men the same way women do with other women. This is detrimental to their emotional and mental well-being and also causes issues when they get into relationships with women. There is a stigma in our society that only women can show emotions; therefore men may only show deep emotions to their female partners. This is unhealthy, and women must handle a lot of extra emotional labor because of this. Men must withhold their feelings until they have a female partner to share them with and feel vulnerable in front of. This is one of the leading reasons men have higher rates of suicide than women; women have built emotional support systems, while men are made to suffer alone or put the burden on only one person.

The stigmas surrounding men and their emotions need to come to an end, and putting value in those emotions is the first step towards that.


Cover Photo from “The Guardian”

Gender Studies for Scientists

Radford University, like hundreds of other universities across the country, offers courses in Women and Gender Studies. I grew up in a highly scientific conservative household that taught me to see courses on those subjects as silly and useless, which is an opinion held by a lot of scientists today. My parents were both college educated, in chemistry and computer science, and raised their six children to work towards a college education, preferably in the sciences.

It was natural for me to gravitate to the more ‘hard’ sciences like physics, chemistry, and biology. I never questioned why these more male-dominated fields were considered ‘hard’ and why female-dominated fields like psychology and sociology were ‘soft’ sciences. It’s certainly not to do with difficulty.

I’m taking my first gender studies class this semester, my last semester before graduating with a degree in geology. With each week, I learn more and more about the ways my gender affects the way I study in my field and the way my peers treat me. These ways range from the gender pay gap that will affect me while I pay back my student loans to the motherhood penalty that will make getting a job in geology with children difficult.

Every woman you talk to in male-dominated sciences can tell you stories about being talked down to by male peers and instructors or by being spoken over in debates. I’ve experienced these things here at Radford. Once a male chemistry professor told me that he didn’t like having women in the lab because they were a distraction to the male students, effectively telling me and all the other girls in the class that our education didn’t matter as much as our male peers.


Anonymous Online

There are countless websites and apps that will let people say whatever they want without revealing themselves. They do this through the use of usernames (which can be almost anything) or by allowing the option for people to remain anonymous. It is a popular feature that many companies and/or websites use to encourage conversation and use of their product. After all, there are no real consequences of typing out a message; people are more open to talking and saying things they wouldn’t normally say if they know they can walk away without anyone ever realizing it’s them. But, that is part of the problem, isn’t it?

Conceptually, being anonymous online is a good idea; it makes for a much more relaxed and stress free environment. People can discuss things that might be unpopular, and having that feeling of freedom can make things easier. But when this idea is put into practice, and real life people get involved, it gets much messier and the worst in people tends to come out. Without the fear of punishment, what’s to stop a person from saying terrible things to anyone and everyone?

“Without the fear of punishment, what’s to stop a person from saying terrible things to anyone and everyone?” Photo from: http://highstermobile.co/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cyberbullying.jpg

Let’s face it, the reality of the situation is that online, people can say things that are racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, and xenophobic, which are just a few examples in a long list. It’s because people with those kinds of views have a mask and a wall to hide behind. They can go about their lives without anyone knowing that they have been spouting hate. If someone started shouting racist slurs in public, then there is a legitimate fear of retaliation, be it physical or legal. Many of these kinds of people are aware that what they are saying is offensive and derogatory. They say it with the intent to hurt and infuriate but they also know that doing so could get them into trouble. Which is why becoming an anonymous figure online is their tool of choice.

Anonymous online posting can be a good thing, but it is a dangerous two edged sword. It often seems to be hurting just as much as it is helping. At the end of the day, it poses an interesting question: how much online freedom is too much? On one hand, it’s rarely a good idea to give up freedom for the sake of security/policing, as that leads to tyranny. But give people too much freedom, and that leads to anarchy. Not to mention, you have to make sure all of these rules are enforced equally. It wouldn’t be right or fair to consistently accuse one group of doing the wrong thing while ignoring another group that is actually committing the action.

Cat-Calling: Don’t be Sexist

One of the issues and daily harassments that women have to deal with is cat-calling. This is when men yell what are usually superficial, sexist and derogatory remarks at random women passing by. Some of the worst ones involve blatant and disgusting sexual acts or innuendos, while others objectify women and focus on one specific aspect of their body. You would think it would be common knowledge not to harass someone, especially a random stranger. Yet, it happens far too often.

cat calling
“Yelling at a woman to tell her she has a nice backside is, again, objectifying her and making her an object for your pleasure.” Photo from: http://az616578.vo.msecnd.net/files/2015/07/05/635717311775156065-116091019_attractive-woman-men-staring.imgopt1000x70.jpg

The thought process behind cat-calling is the cat-caller tends to have a skewed perspective on what a compliment is. Telling a woman that you’d like to have intercourse with her (usually said in more crude terms) is not a compliment. It’s objectifying her and reducing her from a real person to a thing for sex. Yelling at a woman to tell her she has a nice backside is, again, objectifying her and making her an object for your pleasure. Contrary to popular belief (or so it would seem), women are real people, actual human beings, and they are not there for the purpose of pleasing men. Hearing that they would be a good sexual partner does not make them feel good. It makes them feel uncomfortable and possibly worry they may be sexually assaulted.

Women like to be complimented; in fact, everyone does  it’s a normal part of being human. We like to hear nice things about ourselves. But being reduced to a single, sexualized body part or sexual act is not a compliment. It’s demeaning and dehumanizing. Women are more than just their bodies and they are not there to make men want them. A good general rule of thumb is that if you would say it to your mother, then it’s probably okay to say to another woman. If you wouldn’t say it to your mother then you probably shouldn’t say it to a random woman walking down the street.

Magical Girl Animes: Sexist or Feminist?

Most people know about anime and plenty of people watch it. They’re a fun source of entertainment where almost anything is possible. They can stretch across any genre, and they’ve even created a few of their own. One such genre (and a popular one too) is the magical girl anime.

sailor moon
“A female character has supernatural and/or magical powers, usually obtained from an outside force.” Photo from: assests2.inmings.com

For those of you who are unaware of what a magical girl anime is, here’s a basic explanation. A female character has supernatural and/or magical powers, usually obtained from an outside force. Generally, they have to balance their normal life with fighting whatever enemies are around (who are usually the reason they get their powers in the first place). It’s a pretty simple and self-explanatory idea. The potential issue with the genre is that often times the female characters can be over-sexualized by unnecessary attention placed on their breasts, overly skimpy and/or sexualized outfits, and even the occasional shot of their underwear, depending on the show. However, not every magical girl anime does this, and some even promote female empowerment and discuss (to a certain degree) important issues. Hence the conflicting ideas and this article.

One of the oldest and most famous series from this genre is Sailor Moon; this show was the kick starter for many of these types of animes. The show often discussed gender roles and identities, and it was a great example of powerful young women working together. It also switched around traditional gender roles, where the women in the show were the competent heroines and the male characters were often incompetent and in need of help.  This is a welcome change from the typical damsel in distress trope that so many TV shows and movies often go for.

This idea of women being powerful figures with actual depth to their characters has happened quite often within this genre but so has the over-sexualization of female characters. I think that what it comes down to is how the creators and animators choose to present their show. This genre is literally about empowering women so that they can fight back. But anyone can make it unnecessarily sexual. I think that, at least conceptually, magical girl animes can be an empowering form of entertainment.

Microsoft’s Tay “chatbot” was trolled into becoming the “Hitler-loving sex robot”

Microsoft was forced to shut down the chatbot named Tay, after it tweeted several sexist and racist remarks.

According to the software giant, Microsoft endeavored to connect with millennials 18 to 24 years old, and they planned to do this task through Tay. She was an AI designed to talk like a teenage girl.

According to a Microsoft post, “The more you chat with Tay, the smarter she gets, so the experience can be more personalized for you”.

Microsoft’s concept and idealization for Tay was that the chatbot would produce entertaining and funny reactions and responses based on tweets and other messages it was sent through applications like Kik and GroupMe.

Despite the good-intentions, internet trolls started to connect and bombard Tay on Wednesday March 23 almost exactly when it was launched. Tay started to utilize a percentage of the bigot, racist, and sexist remarks in its own Twitter conversations.

Graphic from the Telegraph and Twitter.
Tay’s responses were learned by conversations she had with people online. Graphic from the Telegraph and Twitter.


The bot’s tweets were so offensive and drew such an uproar that one newspaper named Tay the “Hitler-loving sex robot.”

Microsoft’s chat robot Tay was taken offline less than 24 hours after its launch since it was tweeting such sexist and racist language. But not before the AI robot tweeted approximately 96,000 times, which seems like a lot of tweets for an average teen girl or millennial.



In a released statement by Microsoft, they said ”Unfortunately, within the first 24 hours of coming online, we became aware of a coordinated effort by some users to abuse Tay’s commenting skills to have Tay respond in inappropriate ways”.

Microsoft, who designed the AI with a specific end goal of enhancing the customer service on their voice recognition software, apologized directly after the incident in a blog entry made by Peter Lee, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Research.

Lee wrote, “We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay, which do not represent who we are or what we stand for, nor how we designed Tay”.

Microsoft said that it’s modifying Tay, however was not able to say if or when the bot may return. Lee said that they will only bring her back when they are confident that they can make better prepare to limit technical exploits.

The “Friend Zone” myth

We’ve all heard of it. Some of us may think we’ve been in it, or still are.

If you’ve ever been in the “Friend Zone”, you may have tried to google-search your way to a solid solution like this to escape the cage of impossibility that is the “Friend Zone”.

What is the “Friend Zone”?

The “Friend Zone” refers to an interpersonal relationship in which one member wishes to become romantically or sexually involved while the other would rather remain friends.

The concept is as follows: when you like a girl, and she doesn’t like you back, she puts you in the “Friend Zone”.

But the truth of the matter is that she didn’t put you anywhere. She just isn’t attracted to you in the way you’re attracted to her, and she wants to be friends. There’s nothing wrong with having another friend. You should be grateful that this wonderful person wants to be your friend, and dating would complicate things even more. She turned you down, and you should just get over it and enjoy your friend.

The “Friend Zone” notion, devised by men who can’t get a girlfriend, is fairly similar to the “Nice Guys Finish Last” concept. Males who have been put into the “Friend Zone” are generally seen as being “too nice”. Sure some girls may think that they also have been in the “Friend Zone”, however, most of the girls I’ve seen who were “Friend Zoned” moved on fairly quickly and understand that the person they were sexually and romantically attracted to, is “just not that into” her.

How to Escape the “Friend Zone”

“How do you motivate a friend to be “more than friends”? How do you move forward from “just friends” to girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, or lover? How do you escape the friend zone?” The key word in this quote is motivate. You’re supposed to influence, persuade and encourage the person who placed you in the “Friend Zone” for a completely justifiable reason; training them like a dog.

The concept of the “Friend Zone” is completely misogynistic. Assuming that you deserve a sexual or romantic reward for all your “nice gestures” is ridiculous and archaic. There’s an underlying feeling of entitlement to sex or a relationship for those who feel as if they’re in the “Friend Zone”. Grow up, move on and learn how to treat people as they are, you know, people.

Friendzoning should not be a thing. Graphic from Pinterest

Reverse racism, sexism aren’t real things

If I had a dollar for every time I saw the term “reverse sexism” used on the internet, my tuition would be paid. This term is typically used by self-proclaimed “meninists” to express any situation where they’re accused of adhering to general stereotypes. However, this term is often also used by the immature men who feel they’ve been “friend-zoned” simply because they acted kindly to a woman and didn’t receive the love and affection they expected as a reward for their actions.

By internet terms, reverse sexism occurs when a woman expresses a bias against men. Because men are typically expected to be the ones showing bias against women, when the word “sexism” comes up, that’s the image in a person’s mind. However, just because the expected roles in sexism have been reversed, doesn’t mean “sexism” isn’t accurate. Sexism is defined by the hatred of certain sexes, but does mention the expected hatred or mistreatment of women. Women are especially susceptible to sexism, but that doesn’t invalidate any hatred or discrimination against men.

reverse racsim
“Racism is a broad term which can include hatred against any race, not just African Americans.”

By the same standard, reverse racism isn’t a real or accurate term either. When we think “racist” we may think of white supremacy groups such as the KKK, violent hate crimes against African Americans or simply racial slurs. In the official definition of racism, African Americans are never mentioned. Racism is a broad term which can include hatred against any race, not just African Americans.

Racism and sexism are possible in ways that aren’t typically expected. It’s very possible for a woman to be sexist against men, and it’s equally possible for a black person to hold a bias against white people, or any mixture of races. It’s important that we all redefine the way we think of sexism and racism so that we can be more open to discussion about incidents where the roles are reversed to the opposite of what we expect.

For example, if a hate crime was committed against a white person by someone of a different race, the case probably wouldn’t be taken seriously as a hate crime. Equally, many times men who have been sexually abused or assaulted aren’t taken seriously. We all need to open our minds to different ideas and accept the broader definition of both racism and sexism. Having a closed idea of what makes something sexist or racist is very dangerous.

In many aspects of life, we need to open our mind to the issues of others. For example, I’ve always had a small frame. I’ve always been fairly thin. There have been many situations where someone has commented on my size, saying something along the lines of”you’re too skinny.” When I express my discomfort caused by these comments, many people brush it off like it isn’t a big issue. Just because someone’s in the “ideal” situation doesn’t mean their problems are any less valid.

Open-mindedness is vital to the progression of society and mankind. We should all be open to the issues of others and attempt to be helpful rather than skeptical.


Girl Almighty, or the boy band enigma

What is a boy band? The definition is very loosely defined  as a group made up of young male singers, usually  teenagers, who typically don’t play instruments and rely solely on their vocal talents. This assumption probably relies on the fact that the earliest boy bands took the form of a cappella barbershop quartets. Slowly groups like the Monkees and the Beach Boys began to play their own music.

Technically, even the Beatles were a boy band. So why aren’t modern bands taken seriously? Why are they often considered an idiotic musical medium? A prime example is 5 Seconds of Summer’s 2014 Billboard Music Awards performance. I’ve never seen grown men tweeting death threats to teenage boys based solely on a single wardrobe choice – a Misfits shirt. It’s almost as if the band was ostracized for fitting into a different genre.

Boy bands through the decades. Graphic from  The Uncommon Teen
Boy bands through the decades. Graphic from
The Uncommon Teen

It’s actually very easy to figure out why these groups aren’t taken seriously. It’s almost entirely rooted in their fan base. Sexism in the music industry doesn’t just cover artists; it extends to teenage girls as well. One Direction has won 122 awards out of the 166 they’ve been nominated for — but because they specifically cater to young women, these achievements are ignored.

What kind of message does that send to girls? Boy bands are extremely popular because they’re accepting. I’ve never been to a boy band concert where  (usually male) fans cornerand interrogate me to make sure I’m a “real” fan. In the metal or punk scenes, I constantly have to affirm that I’m knowledgeable about the bands that are playing. It makes it incredibly difficult to discover new music that I’m passionate about.

Maybe One Direction or the Vamps are safer for new music fans. Maybe it’s just nice to hear music that’s specifically created for your own indulgence. Maybe it’s just too catchy to ignore. I, for one, would love to continue to support young women’s interest in music, especially if that interest blossoms into musical projects of their own. Or, as Harry Styles put it, “Let’s have another toast to the girl almighty.”


I f–king love SCI2

Elise Andrew is the curator of the IFLS (I Fucking Love Science) Facebook page and website where a large portion of inspiration for the lovely content you find right here comes from. Later this year she will be teaming up with the Science Channel to bring you the best science videos the internet has to offer.

The collection will feature on TV through the SCI2 channel and concentrate on popular science. And, according to Andrew, she’s excited to have the opportunity to weed through a lot of junk science to provide a thoroughly proven assortment of real science. She hopes to get the name out for other bloggers and Internet do-gooders who simply really fucking love science and want to share what they know with the world.

Yeah, science! Graphic from Geeks of Doom
Yeah, science! Graphic from Geeks of Doom

Andrew’s Facebook fame is a story or surprising success, even to her. She began to compile interesting facts, images, and videos and post them on a page for her own amusement and claims she never expected it to go farther than a few dozen of her friends. However, within the first 24 hours of creating the page, Andrew had over 1,000 likes and within six months reached over 1 million. As of Oct. 26, the page has 18,689,377 likes.

Significantly less popular, but hosting similar content, is Andrew’s clean (language-wise) Facebook page Science is Awesome. While it has just as good quality content, perhaps you might recommend this to kids and stick with the original for your adult friends.

The Internet can be a fickle friend, however, as was made clear in March 2013 when Andrews created a Twitter account for the IFLS page with her face as the avatar. Fans seemed shocked to find out that Andrew’s was a woman, despite sharing that information on several occasions. The reactions were rather sexist, Andrew claims, and she was baffled by the sheer stupidity — er, lack of observation — from her supposedly science loving followers.

Andrew’s and the Science Channel’s team up isn’t the first of its kind, nor is it the first for Andrew. She has also curated videos for Discovery Communications in Aug. 2013 for their streaming site. To get caught up on this previous collection, find them and much more on IFLS’s Youtube channel.

What do tattoos and feminism have to do with one another?

Tattoos have increased in popularity very rapidly within the last century. More and more people, both young and old, are decorating their skin with beautiful pieces of art or inspiring script. Being one of the females who has proudly adorned my skin with art, I often get snide comments. I’ve had older folks come into my work and take a look at my tattoo and pucker their faces in disgust. Of course, the more traditional members of my family have made time in their busy day to criticize body art in general, while denying any of these criticisms are for me.

Anyone who has tattoos can probably tell you a horror story or two about the negative comments often made about their tattoos. I came across one of the most disgusting, inaccurate criticisms I’ve ever seen one day while scrolling through my news feed. The title of the article was, 5 Reasons Why Girls With Tattoos and Piercings Are Broken. In the article, the writer recalls girls he’s “banged” who had tattoos, calling them whores, insulting their intelligence and even calling them selfish.

“Anyone who has tattoos can probably tell you a horror story or two about the negative comments often made about their tattoos.”

I find it ironic that this writer would call girls whores when he refers to them as “chicks he banged.” His character is obviously not squeaky-clean. He recalls his ex-girlfriend who slept with two of his best friends, which gives me reason to believe he’s emotionally scarred by this experience and therefore has become an extreme misogynist. He covers up his need to control women by claiming he’s defending tradition values. Tattoos somehow go against that ideal so he feels the need to generalize all girls who have tattoos.

The website where I found this gem of an article is called “Return of Kings.” The website’s “about” page is enough to make me want to grow out my leg hair and burn all of my bras. It states, “a woman’s value significantly depends on her fertility and beauty.” It also goes on to put feminism in the same category as socialism and Marxism, which I find funny because the writer of the article accused his “crazy tattooed ex” of being a Marxist.

As a tattooed feminist, this article and its website are absolutely appalling to me. It makes me physically sick to think that there are men in 2014 who still have this egregious mindset. The site claims to believe in traditional family values and that feminism aims to destroy them. I have no problem with the “traditional” family, but I’m not a traditional person. I believe men and women are both equally entitled to live their lives however they want, whether that means having a family or not. The fact that this site aims to brainwash men into thinking they can call a woman a “cunt” for going against the grain makes me wonder, who in their right mind would allow this to be published?

Being a woman with tattoos doesn’t make you broken. Even with my tattoos, I’m very feminine and like to do girly things. It seems to me that the writers of this site are terrified of women being equal to them. They seem to think that women are trying to knock them off the throne, when in reality we just want to share it. It also appears that they’re afraid of women who are free-thinkers and that they want women to be seen and not heard. I suppose tattoos draw attention to women and make them more interesting, which is threatening to men. I’m not a man-hater by any means, but men like this are what’s wrong with the world. It breaks my heart to think that these men are going to have daughters some day who will probably be raised thinking their entire lives revolve around pleasing a man.

Tattoos don’t define the person who has them, and they most certainly don’t make me less of a woman or completely “undesirable.” I have a very loving boyfriend who appreciates my tattoos and the confidence with which I wear them. I can’t imagine being with someone who believed women with tattoos were somehow less human. Having a vagina doesn’t mean there are certain standards by which I need to live.