Feminist Friday: Privilege

Privilege: a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.

Privilege is a topic that is often mentioned in discussions of racial issues and gender based discrimination. But what exactly does it mean to be privileged and have privilege? I watched this video earlier in the week and I wanted to share it with you all.

This video helps understand what privilege is in a visual manner. It’s heartbreaking to see some people ahead of others. Privilege is measurable and is mostly unearned and unappreciated.

What kinds of privileges do you have? Take this quiz and  (if you’re comfortable doing so) let me know where you score. I fall under the “quite privileged” category with 72 points of 100. What did you score?

Feminist Friday: Feminist Disney Movies?

Since last week’s post was a little heavy, I decided to lighten it up a little bit with today’s post. Remember a few weeks back when I mentioned that I absolutely love Buzzfeed? Well, I really do, and when they post articles like this, that love just grows stronger.

I grew up on Disney Channel Original Movies, so when a friend sent me a link to a post that Priya Krishna and Kate Taylor at Buzzfeed wrote entitled, “50 Disney Channel Original Movies, Ranked By Feminism” I knew I would love it. I think my favorite one in the list is probably “Kim Possible: So The Drama”, because Kim is a bad*** and, well, Ron is adorable. Which movie on the list was your favorite?

Feminist Friday: Empowering or objectifying?

I’ve often wondered how to tell if something is objectifying women or empowering them. Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between the two. I recently came across this article for Everyday Feminism called, “How Can You Tell if You’re Being Sexually Empowered or Objectified? Ask Yourself This Simple Question“. The verdict? It all hinges on who has the power in any given situation. The article is mainly comprised of a short comic explaining the difference between objectification and empowerment. I’d encourage you all to read it and let me know what you think in the comments.

Feminist Friday: My Top Five Favorite Feminists

I like making lists. Grocery lists, favorite movies, a summer bucket list, my favorite types of macaroni and cheese, you name it, if I’m interested in it, I’ve probably written a list that quantifies it in some way. This week, you get to peek into my brain space and find out who my top five favorite Feminists are. Ready, GO!

1. Sylvia Plath

Let’s face it, I was an English major. Books and literature and authors are my lifeblood. Before I even identified as a Feminist I knew I loved Sylvia Plath and her poetry. Plath was a modern American, Feminist, confessional poet and novelist who committed suicide in 1963 when she was only 30 years old. Sylvia suffered from depression for a good chunk of her life and it is definitely reflected in her poetry. I first discovered Plath’s poetry during a Summer course I took at Southern Virginia University called “Modern American Poetry”. I was struck by Plath’s honest, at times shocking writing. The way she wrote about her family, her relationship with her father, her thoughts of life and death, I loved all of it. By choosing to write poetry that was raw and, at times, harsh, Plath cemented herself as a strong female writer and helped lay down the path for others to follow.

2. Laverne Cox

Laverne is amazing. She is a star in the amazing Netflix original series, “Orange Is the New Black”, an advocate for trans rights, a producer, an amazing public speaker, the list goes on and on. Here’s a short excerpt from her personal website talking about one of the many projects she has worked on.

Her documentary Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word aired on MTV & Logo to impressive ratings. The hour-long documentary explored the lives seven transgender youth from across the country and their determination to lead their lives as the people they are meant to be. Laverne was the host and executive producer of the ground breaking documentary which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award.

Laverne is also producing another documentary titled Free CeCe in order to heighten visibility and awareness surrounding CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman who was controversially sentenced to 41 months in prison for second degree manslaughter after allegedly defending herself against a racist and transphobic attack. The documentary will focus on McDonald’s case, her experiences while incarcerated in a men’s prison and the larger implications of her case for the transgender community.

She is truly amazing and I can’t wait to see how many more wonderful things she accomplishes…also, I can’t wait to watch season three of OITNB because I know she will be fabulous.

3. bell hooks

bell hooks is actually the pen name for Gloria Jean Watkins “an American author, feminist, and social activist. Watkins derived the name “bell hooks” from that of her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. Her writing has focused on the interconnectivity of race, capitalism, and gender, and what she describes as their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and class domination. She has published over thirty books and numerous scholarly and mainstream articles, appeared in several documentary films, and participated in various public lectures. Primarily through a postmodern perspective, hooks has addressed race, class, and gender in education, art, history, sexuality, mass media, and feminism.” (Thanks Wikipedia for such a concise introductory bio!)

I have loved everything I have ever read that she has authored and I have a personal goal to read her book “All About Love: New Visions” before the end of the year!

4. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Do I even have to elaborate on why The Notorious RBG is amazing? She’s an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, she has battled cancer, she is a fierce advocate for women’s rights, she was a volunteer lawyer for the ACLU and was on it’s board of director in the 1970’s, and she has an extensive jabot collection, what’s not to love!  I’m so excited for her biography to come out in October.

5. Amy Poehler

Not only is Amy Poehler hilarious and talented, she is also a very outspoken Feminist. As the star of the TV show, “Parks and Rec” a cast member on Saturday Night Live and the creator of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, she has a lot of accomplishments under her belt. Amy encourages girls and women to step up, be assertive and take control. I truly love her and her sense of humor. Also, how can I not love someone who is best buddies with Tina Fey!

Who are some of your favorite Feminists?

Feminist Friday: Feminist Kids

Have you ever had a friend that just gets you in a way no one else does? For me, that friend is Buzzfeed. Whether it’s the posts with lots of pictures of cute cats, the weird recipes, or the surprisingly stellar reporting, Buzzfeed always finds the way to win my heart. When I saw this short post a few days ago, I knew I just had to share it. 18 Ways to Make Sure Your Child’s a Feminist by Sarah Breen really struck a chord with me. As someone who wants to have children someday, I really loved the practical tips and advice for how to raise the next Gloria Steinem or Virginia Woolf. I love point 18, “Apologize if you make a mistake. It’s the easiest way to prove that you respect them.” Isn’t that good advice for everyone, not just parents?

What’s your favorite part of the post? How do you encourage your children/nieces/nephews/students/cousins/grandchildren etc to be feminists?

Feminist Friday: What More Can I Say?

This week, my heart is heavy. As I read the news from Baltimore I can’t help but be disappointed and saddened by how we, as Americans are treating each other. I could try to make a great argument for why this is still happening in 2015, I could try to explain my views and thoughts, but at the end of the day, this isn’t about me. I benefit from a myriad of privileges (white privilege, straight passing privilege, middle class privilege), I don’t know what it feels like to be discriminated against because of the color of my skin. I don’t know what it’s like to grow up in a city where things are falling to pieces for years and no one with the power to change it seems to care. This week, I’d encourage you to read the articles and blog posts I’ve found written by people who have a very different perspective than I do. I want to leave you with the words of a very dear friend, Jessica Sorenson.

If you’re ‪#‎prayingforbaltimore‬, please be praying for this:

pray for those affected by poverty, pray for jobs (and fair job opportunities) for the unemployed and underemployed, pray for a better education system and better resources for public schools, pray for more shelters for the homeless, pray for better and safer childcare options for single working parents, pray for those affected by HIV and pray for an end to the spread of HIV, pray for more community resources for low income families, pray for an end to racial profiling and the presence of racism and racial divide, pray for the good cops whose reputations have been destroyed by the bad cops, pray for the protesters that their voices will be heard and pray for the rioters that they can overcome the circumstances and life experiences that have led them to turn to violence and anger, pray for the children that they can feel safe in their communities and homes, pray for the businesses that have been torched or looted that they can be restored, PRAY FOR BALTIMORE.

Here’s What You’re Missing When You Object to the Black Lives Matter Protests by Maisha Johnson

Don’t Be That Friend – 1 PoV by 1 PoC by Kalani

Dear white Facebook friends: I need you to respect what Black America is feeling right now by Julia Blount

YOU HAVE PRIVILEGE. USE IT RESPONSIBLY. By Sophie Lucido Johnson

Here’s What Martin Luther King Jr. Really Thought About Urban Riots by Allie Gross

Feminist Friday: The “Pink” Tax

Have you ever wondered why products marketed towards women are pricier than similar products marketed towards men? Me neither. Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you that it’s true, women pay more, on average, than men do for the same products! This phenomenon is referred to as “the pink tax”. This video gives a pretty good overview of what the pink tax looks like in real life.

A 2010 article in Consumer Reports magazine entitles “Men win the battle of the sexes” reported that:

“We discovered that products directed at women—through packaging, description, or name—might cost up to 50 percent more than similar products for men….Each “express gel” of Excedrin Extra Strength and Excedrin Complete Menstrual contains 250 milligrams of aspirin, 250 mg of acetaminophen, and 65 mg of caffeine. But Excedrin Menstrual cost 50 cents more at Walgreens. Julie Masow, spokeswoman for Novartis Consumer Health, Excedrin’s parent, says it was Walgreens’ decision, noting the suggested retail price for the products was the same.”

Aspirin wasn’t the only product on their list. Shaving cream, lotion, soap, antiperspirant and razor blades geared towards women were also more expensive per ounce or per item than the men’s products.

Unfortunately, the pink tax applies to more than just personal care items. In a great article by Groundswell.com Amanda Oliver gives a few examples where women pay more than men for the same products and services. Women pay more for plus sized clothes and dry cleaning, among other things.

As I researched for this blog post I came across an enlightening Tumblr feed run by Feminist collective Georgette Sand. The Groudswell article I mentioned earlier has this to say about Georgette Sand.

We could also take a note from French women’s right group Georgette Sand, who started drawing attention to these invisible taxes by posting photographs of unequal pricing found in French stores on their Woman Tax Tumblr. More than 44,000 people have signed a petition against French retailer Monoprix and the “Pink Tax” they charge. The petition is credited with prompting The Finance Ministry to order an inquiry into possible price discrimination by French retailers in general.

The Tumblr page is so eye-opening. Here are some of my favorite pictures taken from the Tumblr feed.

$.50 price difference for the same products.

$1.00 price difference? Why?

What?

This one might be my favorite. $2.50 price difference. The caption says “The thermometers need to be different for boys and girls. SCIENCE says so.”

As I was scrolling through these posts I can honestly say, I wasn’t even mad. I was just really, really confused. For goodness sake, why do pink products need to be more expensive than blue products? I really want someone to give me a straight answer about this, because I can’t come up with a good reason for the price difference between most of these.

So, should women just start buying products from the men’s side of the aisle? Maybe, but maybe not. Some editorials on the subject suggest that if women buy only men’s products big companies would get the message that women won’t fall for the silly marketing anymore. I don’t know if this would actually change anything. I’m not a statistician, I don’t have a degree in marketing. But if the experts say it will work, who am I to argue with them. In my opinion, making people aware of the price discrepancies and holding manufacturers and retailers more accountable for the way they price these items might be more helpful in the long run. How do we do that? Post pictures of the pricing issues on social media. Tweet and Instagram and blog and post on Facebook about it. Heck, I wasn’t even really aware of this issue until a few months ago. I, for one, will be much more careful and conscientious about what I’m buying and why. Am I buying those razor blades because they have feminine packaging or am I buying them because they actually work well. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this, let me know what you think in the comments. Until next time, fellow Feminists!

Articles I referenced in this post:

The Pink Tax” New York Times editorial

Men Win the Battle of the Sexes” Consumer Reports Magazine

Ever Heard of the “Pink Tax”? 4 Items Women Pay More For” Groundswell.com

Woman Tax” Tumblr page

For those who may be looking for a more intellectual review of the pink tax, here is a research paper put out by the University of Central Florida.

The Cost of Doing Femininity: Gendered Disparities in Pricing of Personal Care Products and Services