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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

While Tony Snow Fights Cancer, Dana Perino Takes Over the Press 'Gaggle' ...with her "Big Girl Panties" on?

According to the Washington Post, Dana Perino, deputy press secretary who's stepping in for Tony Snow, was told by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings to "Put your big-girl panties on." In the same 'tough panties' vein, PoliticsDaily has a sub-site called Woman Up. The motto: "Woman Up: Where Big-Girl Panties Are Always a Fit."

There's been some debate amongst feminist circles lately whether phrases like "woman up" and "put your big girl panties on" really do women any favors. I'm especially intrigued with the panty reference. Are we saying that being a larger, more mature woman is where the power is at? Or are we yet again just talking about something kind of petty and taboo (mature women's sexuality), and hindering women's real power?

I do like the "big girl panties" phrase because in it female power is cleaved from sex/beauty and put in a legitimate arena (i.e. gaining a political job takes qualifications and hard work, not thong underwear and blowjobs).

But, it bothers me that when a woman takes a powerful position, this news is often accompanied by media queries or jokes regarding if she's tough enough (the second sentence in the Washington Post article talks about Dana Perino sobbing), as well as references to her appearance and sexuality or asexuality that distract--and detract!--from her validity (the third sentence is, "Three hours later, her face freshly powdered and every strand of her neat bob in place, Perino crisply fielded questions at a televised briefing").

Hillary Clinton's media treatment during her presidential campaign was a case in point: She was picked on for showing weakness when she cried at the same time as she was put down for being too tough (the infamous "b*tch" label). Criticisms (and reactions to criticisms) of her "ugly" pantsuits and the size of her thighs garnered more attention than the content of her campaign speeches.

Repeatedly, women are depicted as emotional roller-coasters who vacillate between complete hysteria and total dictatorship, while the importance of their looks is played up. Doesn't all this negative and contradictory focus on gender maintain levels of sexism and prevent women from concentrating on the work they want to do? (Nobody was quoting cutesy lines in major newspaper articles--at least to my knowledge--about Obama putting his big boy undies on...) I'd say that in this climate, references to big-girl panties probably don't help to put the spotlight back on women's legitimacy and brilliance.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Marketing Earth Day (and Other Stuff) to Children

Another great point from the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood:

Marketing Earth Day (and Other Stuff) to Children

By Susan Linn and Josh Golin

Have you done your Earth Day shopping yet? Between greeting cards, jewelry, mugs, and teddy bears commemorating the day, its roots in environmental activism have all but been forgotten. Now corporations use Earth Day to sell us on the belief that we can buy our way into ecological sustainability. We can't.

Reducing consumption is essential to preserving the earth's resources and preventing its degradation. The same companies that are painting themselves green depend on the profits they earn convincing us to buy more than we need.

Nowhere is this more obvious, and more troubling, than in the world of children's media and marketing, where companies like Disney, Sesame Workshop, and Nickelodeon are eco-marketing as never before.

Read on at the Huffington Post

Saturday, April 18, 2009

SpongeBob isn't sexy

Lots of hullabaloo about Burger Kind's latest commercial that mixes SpongeBob and a bit too much booty. The CCFC offers a way to speak out against it and take action against sexualized marketing to kids:

"Our campaign to get the infamous SpongeBob SquareButts commercial off the air is gaining momentum. More than 7,000 of you have told Nickelodeon and Burger King that SpongeBob and sexualization don't mix and our campaign has been featured in newspapers, blogs, and on television -- including this morning's Today Show.

We've already cast an important spotlight on this reprehensible ad and the depths that marketers will sink to in order to interest children in their brands. Advertisers will now understand that they risk a significant backlash from parents if they include sexualization in their child-directed marketing. Burger King and Nickelodeon are clearly on the defensive, and are now disingenuously claiming the ad - which is for Kids Meals and features perhaps the most popular children's television character - was aimed at adults.

But the ad continues to run and, according to reports, aired this week on American Idol, a top-rated show for children under twelve. So let's keep the pressure on by signing this petition of disapproval to Burger King and Nickelodeon. Please let others know about our campaign by using this tell-a-friend page or by writing directly to friends and family and urging them to visit send their messages too. And please, keep spreading the word on blogs, social networking sites, and Twitter.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood"

Friday, April 10, 2009

Women and Major Magazines Cover Stories Monitor

According to Beverly Wettenstein at the Huffington Post, "The year 2008 was considered to be transformational for women in politics and the broader perception of women in the media and society." Check out her article, Second Annual "Women and Major Magazines Cover Stories Monitor." What's your take on the coverage?

Marketing to Youth (Culture)

This article geared toward photographers (and somewhat toward advertisers) spells out the do's and don't's of marketing to youth. Thinking from the angle of a photographer, the photos used in ads would, alone, be beautiful portraits of unique people and relationships. (There are some gorgeous examples in this article.) But, when incorporated into ads with taglines and messages, photos become props to spark whatever feelings and connections marketers want us to buy their product.

Marketing to youth and about youth culture particularly irks me because advertisers are cashing in on a stage in people's lives where they figure out their identity--which means they try many things and are open to change and suggestion. Exploring yourself and the world around you sound like such a magical, great thing (and it can be!), but many teens and young adults feel immense pressure from an intangible source to be all at once sexy, perfect, smart, rich, and in command. These pressures are part of our larger culture and of course not created solely by marketing, but the wiley way marketing reflects and tweaks who we want to be seems to head many people down a bad road.

I'm posting this article because I think it's valuable to continually point out just how planned the images around us are. If we are aware of this manipulation, perhaps we can start appreciating ads for what they are, and peel them away from of our definitions of beauty, meaningfulness, and success.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Better late than never

I've also been meaning to post about SWAN Day, a new holiday celebrating women artists around the globe on March 28th of every year. Check out the amazing stories about how people celebrated, what projects women are working on, and the inspiring video of Sandra Oh interviewed about her favorite woman artist.

Film Clip: "Beauty Mark"

Brought to you by the Media Education Foundation, this film clip of the month is from "Beauty Mark," a movie that "explores the harmful factors that can lead to athletic bulimia and distorted body images."

*Note: Hit the small "play" button at the bottom left hand corner (not the big one in the middle of the image) to get the video to play.