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Biochemist's Comments Reveal Continuing Sexism in STEM

In high school, I was the only woman from my class on our academic team (a group like quiz bowl). My male teammates sidelined me in one competition when the questions focused on biology. As a woman interested in the humanities, I was pigeon-holed as inferior in the sciences. When I knew the answers to the questions they got wrong, I became frustrated. Why hadn’t I stood up for myself?

The reason might have been the entrenched stereotype, exemplified by the recent comments of biochemist and Nobel laureate Tim Hunt, that women and science don’t mix.

Hunt’s Comments and Twitter’s Response Read more »

Why Buy the (Sexist) Pig When You Can Get the Oink for Free?

Do you think of your sex as Prada or Marshalls? Discount or high end? If you’re not sure, you are probably going to want to read this. Recently, the New York Post published an article about a new short animated film, entitled the “Economics of Sex,” that uses the language of “economics” to explain why marriage rates in the U.S. have hit a historic low.

The piece centers around the idea that there is a supply and demand problem going on with sex — that currently the supply provided by women is too high, and as a result the “price” has dropped since men won’t pay more for something that’s “so easy to find.”

And what’s to blame for this market shift? It’s really original, so hold on. BIRTH CONTROL!! Let’s all run to our pharmacists and return it, because ladies, birth control is a dream-killer. Read more »

Quick Hit: bell hooks and Melissa Harris-Perry at the New School

Two weeks ago, the fabulous Drs. bell hooks and Melissa Harris-Perry met for a public conversation at the New School in New York. Their conversation ranged from Renisha McBride, to stereotypes facing single mothers of color, to why it is that they write.

Parts of their conversation also reflected themes we have been exploring in our work on the experiences of girls of color, particularly Black girls, in schools. hooks pointed out that she is often characterized as being “difficult,” when she herself would say that she is precise. Harris-Perry explained that she is also often characterized as “mad,” and clarifies that she often is mad – but that she is mad about something, not as “an inherent aspect of [her] Blackness.” Read more »

Seth McFarlane’s Oscar Trifecta: Sexism, Racism, and Tastelessness, Oh My!

NWLC’s water-cooler talk this morning was completely dominated by one thing: the Oscars. Program Assistants Amy Tannenbaum and Becka Wall were particularly fired up by a few things – namely, the sexism, racism, and general objectification of women that was prevalent throughout and decided to hash it out via blog post, below:

Amy: Watching the Oscars last night was such a roller coaster. There were some great moments – but overall I felt like women lost, in more ways than one.

Becka: Agreed. First of all, with the exception of Best Supporting and Best Actress, there was a serious dearth of women nominated – a notable snub was that of Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, an intense movie that captured not only the 12-year manhunt for Osama Bin Laden, but also the depth of human emotion that came with it.

Amy: Can we talk about the boob song, with Seth MacFarlane highlighting the times that actresses have appeared topless in film? It was like sexual harassment in front of an audience of millions. Charlize Theron and Naomi Watts looked disgusted and uncomfortable. Women in Hollywood are already judged too heavily on their looks. This song further moved emphasis away from what the Oscars is supposed to be about – celebrating talent and film – and turned it into a kind of sexual harassment. Plus, it wasn’t even funny! Read more »

Lies a Congressman Told Me: Todd Akin On Rape

"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Rep. Todd Akin, in defending his stance against an exception for bans on abortions for survivors of rape and incest, claimed that women who are raped don't get pregnant.

There are so many things wrong with this horrifying sentence that it is hard to know where to begin. Here are my top 5:

  1. A Member of the United States Congress uttered it.
  2. The suggestion of "legitimate" rape. I'm not even sure what that means. My guess is that Akin meant a rape by a stranger. The idea that the only "real rape" is one by a stranger jumping out from behind the bushes is an outdated myth that for years was used to keep women from pursuing justice through the legal system. It also suggests that if a woman who was raped got pregnant, she must have somehow "wanted it" or else her body's super-pregnancy stopping powers would have kicked in. In fact, the mere phrasing he chose, "legitimate rape" is disturbing in itself. It sounds like there are some rapes that are OK, legal . . . . you know, legitimate

“Women” and “Journalists”: According to Mike McCurry, One of These Things Is Not Like The Other

Another slap your forehead/they don't get it moment.

Mike McCurry, in describing the four moderators for the Presidential debates said, "We have two very experienced, seasoned, veteran journalists who have been around and have done it, and then we have two women in between who have both distinguished themselves in their reporting and the awards that they’ve won."

Please notice that the two male moderators (Jim Lehrer and Bob Schieffer) are referred to as "journalists" and the two female reporters (Candy Crawley and Martha Raddatz) are referred to as "women". I get that he is trying to point out the gender diversity, but the opposites here are "male journalist" and "female journalist" - not "journalist” and “woman”.

And, since when is Candy Crawley not “a very experienced seasoned veteran journalist?” Let’s ignore the fact that she has been a journalist for over 30 years. (Seasoned? Check.) Read more »

NWLC’s Weekly Roundup: February 6 – 10

Another weekly roundup has arrived! After the jump, we have a small collection of stories for you on Super Bowl ads, an MIT admissions project, a new report coming out next week, and details on where you can get the latest on contraceptive coverage. Read more »

NWLC’s Weekly Roundup: January 9-13

Welcome to another weekly roundup! A lot’s buzzing around the web this week, but below are some of the things that really caught our attention. After the jump, quick hits on the Student Non-Discrimination Act, an ABC exec’s thoughts on the new show, “Work It,” some truly terrible advertising already on (or about to hit) the airwaves, a new reproductive health measure in Brazil, and the Internet’s most well-spoken 13-year-old girl. Read more »

NWLC’s Weekly Roundup – October 1-7

It’s the end of another week, and we’ve got a new roundup for you. After the jump, stories on Breast Cancer Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness Month, girls tackling the STEM field, SNAP benefits and more. Read more »

“I’m Too Pretty” Shirt Normalizes Gender Stereotypes

Recently, J.C. Penney featured a shirt on its website with the words “"I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.” The shirt was directed at young girls. After several groups complained about the message that this shirt sent to young girls, J.C. Penney discontinued the sale of the shirt and issued a statement in response to the publicity.

Blog reactions to the sale of the shirt have ranged from amusement at the message to outrage over its marketing to young girls. Several people note that the shirt is meant to be funny and charges of sexism are thus misguided. There is also a general sense that, in the end, this is a consumer choice issue: The shirt is only a shirt, and parents may refuse to buy it. Read more »