Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Problem With Gendered Products

Over break, I was talking to my older cousin, a 1st grade teacher in Colorado. She said she tries to be very sensitive to gender stereotypes in her classroom. In the beginning of the year she hands out pencils as a gift to her students. Some have dinosaurs or rockets and some have flowers or butterflies. She noticed the girls and boys trying to trade with one another, and then gave them a talk about how you shouldn’t care which pencil you recieved. There are no “boy” or “girl” pencils. This got me thinking about how so many products are needlessly gendered. 

Upon searching “gendered products” in Google images, I started coming up with some absurd results. These were a few of the images.

The language that was used to market the earplugs was very telling about how the market sells to women. The Women’s ear plugs say, “Beauty sleep is always in fashion.” A few other words I picked out right away were “pretty,” “pink,” and “silky.” The men’s ear plugs send a different message; they are “skull screws,” not just ear plugs. In the upper left corner they are named “hi-tech” ear plugs. The graphics are interesting to compare, too. A butterfly and a sleeping woman on the women's and a skull and screws on the men's. 
Companies do this to make more money off the same product, splitting their shoppers into two groups, boys and girls. This only is enforcing                                                                                           gender stereotypes we have. 

Another picture I found was gendered deodorant, another product that is gender-specific for no reason. The women’s deodorant is a light pink color and has a smooth look to it. The men’s has hard lines in the design and packaging and is taller and wider than the women’s one. 

These products could so easily be unisex, yet the market is taking advantage of our preexisting gender stereotypes and making a “boy” and “girl” version of every product out there. We see these issues with gender roles when we are kids: with boy and girl aisles in toy sections of stores. But they continue to be present afterwards in our products we choose to buy as adults. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Domestic Violence and the NFL

       If any of you have been following the Ray Rice scandal, you know the Minnesota Vikings player was recently reinstated after his suspension which was due to a video released of him physically abusing his now wife. I wrote a blog post earlier going into further detail on this if you’d like to check it out. To summarize what happened, Rice punched his fiance in the face, knocking her unconscious, then dragged her out of the elevator. And now his wife finally speaks up in an interview with Today.

      In this interview, we see her defending her husband relentlessly. She became the face of domestic violence in this country when this tape came out. And the way she is handling it I would argue is just not telling women to be strong. This was an opportunity to make a difference in how we see domestic violence and women not being victims; she didn't take this opportunity. She says “I’m not going to sit there in silence and let something happen to me.” But that is essentially what she was doing. She was defending him by staying silent this whole time (the incident happened 10 months ago). 

       She continues to advocate for his supposedly good character when she says that the leaked video “didn’t make [her] rethink her relationship” and that she “knew [their] relationship wouldn’t be over.” She did a lot of the apologizing in a public apology Rice and her recently held; she said she was sorry for the “part she played in this.” She admitted the public apologies were not her idea exactly; someone at the Ravens “suggested” she do this and gave her and her husband a “general script” of what to say. It was a publicity stunt, which she acknowledged. Had the Ravens not urged her to do the press conference, she would not have been there, so she says. 

       Another concern Ray Rice apologized to the Ravens team and fans in this press conference...and not to his wife (the one who suffered from physical and emotional harm that night). Football seems to be the main priority in his mind. I think it would be devastating to see an NFL team pick him up for another season. We can learn from this whole incident if we can see how Rice’s case is played out. Domestic violence is never okay; there needs to be consequences. Standing behind her husband during all of this shouldn’t be rewarded in my opinion.