…There is no one theme that has anywhere near the prominence and influence that Disney Princesses do. Regardless of the more recent generations of empowered princesses in Disney movies, the overall princess trope promotes traditional notions of femininity and an unhealthy focus on physical beauty. Even the most feminist-friendly princess derives her social currency, her political power, and her personal identity as “princess” from the make-believe patriarchy.
Read more. [Image: Disney]
For decades these seasonal jewelry commercials have portrayed ladies at Christmas losing their frigidity at the sight of a diamond solitaire. While the O-face remains a constant feature in the ads, the message has somewhat evolved. The ads used to be aimed at men — “Wrap me in gold this Christmas!” a blonde coos in a Zales commercial from the late 80s. Now, the ads are aimed at women. The gift recipients aren’t sexy models, but moms in mom haircuts with babies.
Hipster Sexism is a distancing gesture, a belief that simply by applying quotations, uncool, questionable, and even offensive material about women can be alchemically transformed.
But have we really reached this stage of enlightened irony? We think we’re over sexism yet our ironic expressions of it can only reinforce the basic problem, which is that women are paid less and (degradingly) sexualized against their will far more than men.
Interesting. What do you think of this essay?
Long before anyone was slinging binders full of women, men were forced to accept female coworkers out of sheer need. Women joining the workforce during World War II seems to have spawned a cottage industry in educational material about gender and work. Don’t miss this 1944 gem, Supervising Women Workers, or this manual of management tips.
Whenever the Soviets beat us to a milestone in space, it caused a moral-scientific panic in the United States. They got a satellite up there first in 1957, sparking “Sputnik Mania.” Their space program was the first to put a man in space in 1961, sending the American effort to redouble its efforts. “We look back now [at Gagarin’s flight] and say, ‘Oh, that was just a small incident,’ but in those days there were serious writings about the future of communism around the world, whether it was going to be a dominant factor,” astronaut John Glenn recalled. “We took this very seriously — the administration, President Kennedy and President Eisenhower after he came around to believe in the importance of it. At the time, we looked at this as representing our country in the Cold War.”
So, one might have expected great movement when Valentina Tereshkova left the Earth’s atmosphere on June 16, 1963 to become the first woman in space. After all, Tereshkova spent three days in space, completed 48 orbits around Earth, and logged more time in orbit than all the Americans (three) who had been in space to that point. She’d proven that a woman was physically capable of withstanding the rigors of spaceflight. Surely, the Americans would rush to get a woman into space! Rosie the Riveter, perhaps, dusting herself off after her stint as a factory laborer in the successful war effort?
But no, there was no Tereshkova moment. In fact, one NASA official who declined to give his name to a reporter, said it made him “sick to his stomach” to think of women in space. Another called Tereshkova’s flight “a publicity stunt.”
It would be another 20 years before Sally Ride, who died yesterday at the age of 61, would become the first American woman in space.
The truth is: the sexism of the day overwhelmed the science of the day.
Read more. [Image: NASA]
The studies showed that personal views and the domestic architecture of male leaders’ private lives helped shape women’s professional opportunities. This held true in both surveys and lab experiments, including one that tested whether candidates with identical backgrounds, but different names — Drew versus Diane — should receive a spot in a sought-after, company-sponsored MBA program. According to the research, men in traditional marriages gave Diane “significantly poor evaluations” compared to Drew. It seems that husbands with wives working at home imprinted that ideal onto women in the office.
Read more. [Image: Shutterstock]
Women have long been up to no good in the eccentric world of Jack White’s songs. But on Blunderbuss, his solo album out this week, they finally indulge in White’s most famous bugaboo: cell phones. “Two black gadgets in her hand are all she thinks about,” White spits about a female antagonist on “Freedom at 21,” before getting Pat-Robertson-preachy: “No responsibility, no guilt or morals cloud her judgment.”
There are other strange transgressions by women against men on Blunderbuss. During the opener “Missing Pieces,” a girl figuratively amputates White’s limbs. Later, on “Sixteen Saltines,” he cowers before a woman whose “spike heels make a hole in a lifeboat.”
White as a lyricist has been obsessed with women for more than a decade now, perhaps to a greater extent than any other rock star in his generation. Certainly, he’s got more girl problems than any of his blues-rock contemporaries. Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys will call women “psychotic” and lament exes, but it rarely gets personal the way it does with White. Spoon’s Britt Daniel waxes flirtier and artsier. In fact, with his nasty barbs and self-pitying complaints, White’s lyrics almost have more resemblance to early-2000s emo bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco.
But Blunderbuss, more than anything that’s come before it, crystalizes White’s longstanding issues with women. Maybe that’s because it’s his first-ever solo record, and maybe that’s because it comes on the heels of his second divorce, from model Karen Elson. Either way, what it reveals is fascinating—though not pretty.
Read more. [Image: AP]
We’re reading a ton of interesting responses to this essay — so many, in fact, that we’re going to pick one and ask Jessica Misener to respond to it. So, let us know: Do you think Jack White has a problem with women?
Picture a woman in the Middle East, and probably the first thing that comes into your mind will be the hijab. You might not even envision a face, just the black shroud of the burqa or theniqab. Women’s rights in the mostly Arab countries of the region are among the worst in the world, but it’s more than that. As Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy writes in a provocative cover story for Foreign Policy, misogyny has become so endemic to Arab societies that it’s not just a war on women, it’s a destructive force tearing apart Arab economies and societies. But why? How did misogyny become so deeply ingrained in the Arab world?
As Maya Mikdashi once wrote, “Gender is not the study of what is evident, it is an analysis of how what is evident came to be.” That’s a much tougher task than cataloging the awful and often socially accepted abuses of women in the Arab world. But they both matter, and Eltahawy’s lengthy article on the former might reveal more of the latter than she meant.
There are two general ways to think about the problem of misogyny in the Arab world. The first is to think of it as an Arab problem, an issue of what Arab societies and people are doing wrong. “We have no freedoms because they hate us,” Eltahawy writes, the first of many times she uses “they” in a sweeping indictment of the cultures spanning from Morocco to the Arabian Peninsula. “Yes: They hate us. It must be said.”
But is it really that simple? If that misogyny is so innately Arab, why is there such wide variance between Arab societies? Why did Egypt’s hateful “they” elect only 2 percent women to its post-revolutionary legislature, while Tunisia’s hateful “they” elected 27 percent, far short of half but still significantly more than America’s 17 percent? Why are so many misogynist Arab practices as or more common in the non-Arab societies of sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia? After all, nearly every society in history has struggled with sexism, and maybe still is. Just in the U.S., for example, women could not vote until 1920; even today, their access to basic reproductive health care is backsliding. We don’t think about this as an issue of American men, white men, or Christian men innately and irreducibly hating women. Why, then, should we be so ready to believe it about Arab Muslims?
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
At The Atlantic, we have a saying: “The recession was sexist. So was the recovery.”
Here’s why. After the downturn crushed male-heavy manufacturing and construction, women made up 50% of the work force for the first time in American history, prompting many to wonder whether the recession augured the “end of men.” But since the unemployment rate began to come down at the end of the 2010, 70% of new jobs have gone to men. Even as women are out-graduating the guys and stand to benefit from growing female-dominated industries, they are still under-earning men in just about every degree, at every level of education.
The great triumph of the female worker is upon us, and yet women seem to lag men in that not-so-quaint category known as “money.” So, tell us: Is the economy a level playing field for men and women, or are the cards stacked against one sex — as the result of workplace sexism or the natural evolution of the service economy? This is your turn to write for The Atlantic. If you publish a smart comment, we’ll publish it with credit in our round-ups to be published on the site throughout the week.
Fame! Riches! A byline on theatlantic.com! Leave a comment.