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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Lipstick and Bath Soap

Modern feminism is messed up.

Today I was a presenter at a Girls in Science day hosted by a local news station. Girls were able to meet professional woman in science jobs and do some science activities with them. I thought this would be great, expose girls to role models who can help inoculate them against gender stereotypes and to encourage them to pursue their interests despite what our culture may insinuate.

As I perused the other presenter's stations I was disappointed. One station was about the chemistry of making lipstick, another station was about making scented soaps and bubble bath, and in the introduction the host said she would do her science job "while wearing high heels." Ugh.

I don't think that there is anything wrong with these stations, but I cringe at the messages they send about what being a woman is. We are saying that being a woman is wearing makeup, taking bubble baths, and wearing high heels; that being feminine is equivalent to being beautiful and sexy and by-the-way you can use science to help make yourself more beautiful and sexy.

Girls need to hear that they are not bound by our culture's expectation of women. They need to be given the confidence to take the privilege boys have because our culture has not given those to them. We need to stop deceiving girls into thinking that sexism is a thing of the past because that forces them to be content with the present. They need to hear that even in our modern society sexism, racism, and a whole cornucopia of other "isms" are thriving so they can know the challenge and be prepared for it.

Not all the stations were bad, in fact they were probably out-numbered by great ones. But the women-are-for-sex message is so strong it has paved a pretty smooth rode for itself, other new messages are still bushwhacking their paths and can be easily overpowered.

Additional Reading:
Good explanation of "Gender privilege" from an unexpected source
Interesting article about the role of Men in eliminating sexism

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