Friday, April 22, 2011

Pink Toenails and Aluminum Tubes

So I’m sitting on a plane right now. How neat is that? I’m sitting in what amounts to a giant aluminum (or whatever the fuck planes are made of- I don’t actually know, and I’m sure as hell not gonna pay for WiFi so I can Google “what are planes made of”) tube that is hurtling through the sky at, according to the little screen in front of me, 904 km/hr. Or 565 m/hr, if you prefer that.
Canadians wouldn't.

Humans is crazy.

I was super excited when I saw that this plane had WiFi, but it turns out you have to pay for it, and I’m too much of a broke college kid to fork over 10 bucks just to surf the net for an hour and a half. So I’m reduced to typing this up in Microsoft Word, and then I’ll just post it later, when the internet is free.
aww, poor obnoxious little white girl problems. how adorable...

This weekend is Easter weekend, which wouldn’t normally be all that exciting for me, 
except for, ya know, Zombie Jesus.

but I’m flying out to Salt Lake City to have a “girl’s weekend” with my mom and little sister. The tradition originated with my mom and her mom, aunt, and two sisters – every year in the fall, for the past 5 or so years, the five of them go to New York for 4 days and live it up. They stay in a nice hotel, they go to fancy restaurants, they see a Broadway show, go museum-hopping, etc. 
no. not like that.

So a couple years ago, Cacky, Mom and I started our own tradition. New York is a little out of our price range, so we picked Salt Lake instead. We stay in a cool downtown hotel for 2 nights, go shopping, go to a day spa for one “treatment” each (I pick facial every time. It’s like a face-massage with steam, and it makes me pass the fuck out. Suuuuuper relaxing.) and generally hang out and do girly things. It’s a blast.
although afterwards, it feels a bit like you've sand-blasted your face.

Anyway, here’s what I really wanted to talk about in this post: I’m taking this class called Sociology of Gender and Society, and it’s super fascinating. To my readers who have already been through the college experience, I’m sure you’ve all taken some form of class something like this. But for me, it’s pretty much the first college class I’ve taken that has actually partially changed the way I look at almost everything in my life.
except puppies. I look at puppies the same.
The professor is pretty awesome; she’s smart, funny, engaging, and knows what she’s talking about. Plus, she’s really interested in what she’s talking about. We’ve been examining traditional gender roles in our society: in the media, in popular culture, in literature, etc. And all of these discussions have really been making me look at things I previously didn’t even think about, and go “Hmm, that’s really sociologically fascinating!”

Actually, that’s the PC version. Half the time I look at stuff and go “Holy shit, that’s way more sexist than I realized! Damnit!”
except Barbie. Barbie is pretty much exactly as sexist as I always thought it was.

And then I feel like going and punching Glenn Beck in the beans-and-weenies. Or something.
hopefully he would make this face.

It’s been a really eye-opening experience for me. I’ve always considered myself something of a feminist, but ever since this class, my feminism levels are wayyyy past what they ever were before.

We’ve been reading this book called Schoolgirls by a journalist named Peggy Orenstein. It was written in the eighties, so admittedly it’s a bit dated, but some of the things she says just make me so fucking mad! The book is about how she, as an investigative journalist, went and spent six months in two different middle schools to examine the discrepancies in public education, and the level of institutionalized discrimination. She spent six months in a middle school with primarily white, upper-middle class students from affluent suburban families, and six months in a middle school with a majority of minority students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds in much poorer neighborhoods.
there really is no cheerful picture-way to represent frightening discrepancies in socioeconomic background resulting in a poorer education for minorities, so instead here's a picture of a sunflower.

It is a fascinating book, but some of the examples just break my heart, and make me want to scream at the same time. I find it hard to summarize without either making it sound overly dramatic, or not dramatic enough, so you’ll either have to take my word for it or look it up yourself. It’s some very interesting reading.
this is the book. note to self though: if you're going to google image search "schoolgirls," make sure to clarify what it is you're actually looking for. or put safesearch on.
And speaking of gender bias in the media, have any of my lovely readers seen any of the whole blowout over the J Crew ad in which their creative director sent out an email ad with a picture of her 5-year-old son with his toenails painted pink? Yep. This one, innocent, simple, ordinary picture created a media shitstorm to eclipse even that godawful “Friday” song. One Fox News “psychiatrist” consultant called the ad “promoting transgendered children” and said that the child’s mother had “better put aside some money for psychotherapy for later in his life.” Ass.
here's the ad. my god woman, stop psychologically torturing your child. clearly, his joyful laughter hides his inner gender turmoil. also, putting hipster glasses on him will clearly give him a desire to listen to Sigur Ros and drone about the "mainstream automatons" later in his life.

First of all, what the fuck is wrong with transgendered people? Promoting them is a bad thing? Don’t be such an ignorant dickwad. Second of all, it’s NAIL POLISH. It’s not permanent, in fact, on a five year old boy, I’d be surprised if it lasted more than a week or two. Third, if he knew how many times my cousins and I had painted my little cousin David’s toenails and fingernails, and how many times he’s expressed his wish to be Hannah Montana he grows up, he’d probably shit a brick.

Sorry. That last bit had a bunch of cusswords in it. But I have very, very strong feelings about all this.

Anyway, I’ll be done for now. Just a few things to chew on, I suppose. Thanks for reading my angry rants!

If you didn’t actually read any of it, and skipped to the bottom in hopes of cute baby pictures or something, I’m sorry I failed you. But don’t tell me, k? I like to think hundreds of avid readers hang on my every word.
here, are ya happy now? it's a cute baby animal. now if you skipped here from the beginning, go back and read the whole thing! or else...


  1. Aren't gender/women studies classes awesome?? My Intro to Women's Studies class def changed how I looked at the world, in a way that none of my other classes ever did. I think that those kinds of courses should be required.

    Also, have a great girls weekend :)

  2. Marshall! I love your blog. I especially love your description of halloween. Also, one of my friends at Middlebury has a friend at Western Washington who plays Rugby. I can't remember her name... but could it be possible that you know her? Finally, I totally took a course like your women studies course, although it focused more on race, and class in educational inequality, and not so much on gender inequalities... but same idea. But it was tally mind opening.
    Have a nice day!