On April 28th, 2016 The Washington Times posted an article on their website entitled “Gay Census a mixed bag for LGBT people”.
First of all, in regard to the title, I take issue with the differentiation between gay people and frankly… people. It is easy to differentiate ourselves based on labels and while fighting for a cause, one can also easily envelop themselves in that differentiation. This is an inherent flaw in our (English) lingual system. This discussion on labels, however, is for another post, on another day.
The first sentence of this post reads: “Lawmakers want the U.S. Census Bureau to start counting gay people — but not all gay people are convinced they want to be counted”.
Why might that be? Perhaps history tells us that this is dangerous territory. Predominantly White led America has historically and continues to segregate Aboriginal Tribes people for their land and other resources; during World War Two America placed over 127 thousand people of Japanese descent into internment camps; after kidnapping them from their homes in Africa, taking them across the world to unknown land, and enslaving them for years, America proceeded to develop a transit infrastructure system that was and is racially segregating America. These are only a few of the blatant segregating acts of the U.S. government.
All this is to say, that these fears of registering as gay, are founded!
What assurances do people have that this won’t happen to them?
I further take issue with current policy of the census. What business does the census bureau have knowing what your genitalia is? I personally don’t think what you have in your pants is any of their business. But, the government wants to take it a step further. They also wish to know what genitalia you prefer. This is an issue of rights to privacy.
On the one hand, I think that America is obsessive in its over sexualization of nudity. On the other hand, it is also each person’s right to choose who knows about their genitals.
This movement is being “touted … as a way to address more effectively the needs of the LGBT community” by proponents. While I can see ways that this could benefit the public, I also recognize that once people give this information up they lose all control over how it is used. In the era we live with widespread concerns over data privacy and constant attack of those systems, anyone with Malevolent intentions could access those data. This poses a concern for all Americans.
Another valid point is that, those who come out as LGB and/or T are a self-selecting group. Many people simply will not come out, even in the face of a government mandate. Expecting them to do so is not only inconsiderate and unfair, it’s flat foolish and ignorant.
This article did mention some possible positive outcomes that could come of this in the forms of legitimization and inclusion. While important, it seems that the overarching issues of government meddling; propensity for inaccuracy in the data; and security risks shadow any potential benefits and do not create a justified foundation for this movement.
What do you think?
Tell me in the comment section below.
As a parent of four children (three daughters, ages 13, 9, & 8 and one son, age 6), I am concerned by the stereotyped gender roles my children view in family films. Both females and males appear to be tightly constrained by what mainstream media sells to us socially acceptable.
In the early 2000’s, I was a single mom raising my eldest, sweet daughter. I noticed that positive examples of mothers were practically non-existent in the films we watched together. Disney Princesses were raised almost exclusively by fathers (Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas.) If a mother figure was present, invariably she was labeled as an evil step-mother (Snow White, Cinderella). Male children were also raised without mothers (Nemo, Pinocchio, Chicken Little, Bambi, Quasimodo). I found this trend alarming. There was not a single popular movie that my daughter enjoyed that included an accurate reflection of me as a loving, intelligent, economically and emotionally independent, and imperfect mother.
I also noticed that the number of males with leading or supporting speaking roles far out numbered the number of female roles. In my opinion, it appeared females were relegated to support roles where their main purpose in the movie plot was to cause a conflict or problem that a male counterpart needed to rescue them from. I was upset that it didn’t appear there was a single female Disney character that was portrayed as independent and strong enough to save herself, moreover take control of saving the plot from being over-run with male characters.
To add insult to injury, I noticed leading female characters were portrayed by a rigid standard of beauty that was unrealistic and unattainable – petite, fragile girls with unimaginably tiny waists; overly busty chests; long, flowing hair; large eyes; and ivory-skin. Likewise, leading male characters tended to adhere to strict gender norms as muscular, young men with exceptionally chiseled faces and rugged handsomeness. Again, the films we were viewing did not show images that properly represented the true physical diversity young women and men.
Side note — In 2012, the movie Brave did feature a strong female lead, Merida, who saved the day. This is the *first and only* Disney/Pixar movie to do so. However, to negate any positive effect Merida may have garnered, Disney decided that before Merida would be marketed as a “Princess,” she must receive a makeover, including a new sexier hair-do, the addition of make-up, altered facial features, and a new off-the-shoulder dress with a low-slung belt on her narrowed waist/hips.
Source: Popped Culture
According to a report summary from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media “males outnumber females 3 to 1 in family films” which is the same level “it was in 1946”. They also found “females are almost four times as likely as males to be shown in sexy attire. Further, females are nearly twice as likely as males to be shown with a diminutive waistline. Unrealistic figures are more likely to be seen on females than males.”
The fact that we are marketing these misleading gender stereotypes to young children is even more disturbing when you consider that “according to theories of gender constancy, until they’re about 6 or 7, children don’t realize that the sex they were born is immutable until they’re about 6 or 7. believe that they have a choice: they can grow up to be either a mommy or a daddy” (Orenstein, 2006).
I found myself questioning whether I should allow my children to watch films that clearly sent messages contrary to the gender-equality messages I wanted to instill in them. What type of conflicted messages was I sending? I began looking for other folks opinions on the matter.
I was impressed by a hilarious take from Huffington Post blogger, Bunmi Zalob, when she wrote about an imaginary dialogue between a wayward princess and her mother. The fictitious motherly advice was written with a contemporary flare and snarky attitude. I loved the way she cut to the chase and said what a blunt mother would at least think, if not actually spout.
Then I discovered Jaime Moore, a professional photographer who wanted to take unique photographs of her daughter for her 5th birthday. When she researched photo ideas, the vast majority of the search results returned information about photographing her daughter as a Disney princess. Moore wanted to encourage her daughter to “set aside the Barbie dolls and Disney princesses for just a moment” and see what a “real woman” she could grow up to be. In doing so, Moore sparked a movement when she photographed her daughter in the likeness of great women in history, including Susan B. Anthony, Coco Chanel, Helen Keller, Jane Goodall, and Amelia Earhart. She explained, “I wanted her to know the value of these amazing women who had gone against everything so she can now have everything.”
Penny For Your Thoughts?
What do you think about the gender inequalities of popular family films? Is it something you notice? Do you allow your children to watch these films? If so, do you start conversations with your children about the lack of positive mother figures or the lack of strong leading female characters? Do you try to introduce your children to “real” women, past and present? What media outlets do you trust to support gender equity in the media?
Barker, J. (2009, 11 01). The life of a Disney princess. Culture Popped weblog retrieved from http://culturepopped.blogspot.com/2009/11/life-of-disney-princess.html
Moore, J. (2009, 05 09). Not just a girl. Jaime Moore Photography weblog retrieved from http://www.jaimemoorephotography.com/2013/05/09/not-just-a-girl/
Orenstein, P. (2006, 12 24). What’s wrong with Cinderella? New York Times retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/24/magazine/24princess.t.html
Smith, S. L. & Choueiti, M. (n.d.). Gender disparity on-screen and behind the camera in family films. Retrieved from http://www.seejane.org/downloads/key-findings-gender-disparity-family-films-2013.pdf
Zalob, B. (2011, 03 16). If Disney princesses had mothers: Ariel. Huffington Post retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bunmi-zalob/the-disney-princesses-ariel_b_836612.html