CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW IN THE FIRST ONE THEY’RE HOLDING HANDS TO MAKE AN IMPRESSION BUT IN THE SECOND ONE THEY’RE HOLDING HANDS FOR EACH OTHER
This crotch is on fiiiiiiiiireeeeee
I’m not satanic but these are some damn good rules.
satan does not support rape, animal cruelty, or child abuse
when walking in open territory, bother no one. if someone bothers you, ask them to stop. if they do not stop, destroy them.
*Today on I Didn’t Know I was a Satanist*
It’s a thing where every time I see it I have to reblog it because satanism is all about fucking treating yourself right and giving respect to everyone who respects your back.
an ideal date would be eating takeout dinner in our pjs while watching Netflix and you play with my hair
this is my fav ramsey post in the history of ever
If you haven’t heard of Goldiblox, this is a toy designed by Debbie Sterling, a woman engineer with the idea of helping encourage young women to pursue engineering and STEM-field education and careers. (STEM is short for science, technology, engineering, and math). The toy and its creator’s efforts have been much lauded, and recently they released a viral-video-style commercial which used an unlicensed song and has been met with both enthusiasm and controversy. While issues of copyright and fair use are interesting in general, in this case what is more interesting to me is the way in which the claim that these toys are “good” for girls is at the core of many of those who defend the video and who participate in promoting the toy.
Are these toys good for girls? They may be, in the way that toys in general are good for children in general. It looks like a fun toy. But are they good for girls, that is, does this toy somehow address gender inequality? My short answer to that is a resounding no. In fact, the way I see it, these toys actual re-enforce existing problems in gender relations and stereotypes about women. How so, you ask? The answer comes in several parts:
Defining the problem: girls lack interest in STEM
Why are women under-represented in STEM fields? Many people point to an apparent lack of interest among girls and women in the school subjects that lead, eventually, to the knowledge and credentials necessary to enter STEM fields. Thus, efforts like Goldiblox seek to develop girls’ interest in STEM fields by making the subjects more fun and accessible. That seems logical, and it has been the foundation of a very successful marketing campaign aimed at parents who want the best for their girls. I’m the parent of a girl, and I get it. I want the best for her too, and for me “the best” means helping her explore her potential as much as I can. I welcome creative and stimulating toys that might encourage her to look at problems in a different way, or think about doing things she might not otherwise have tried.
But I’m also a social scientist who lives in one of the fastest growing, most important tech hubs in the world. I’m soaking in STEM. Nearly everyone in my social circle, men and women, are in STEM fields. And I study gender and culture. So when I combine my training and expertise with observations of my community, the big conclusion that I come to is lack of interest isn’t the main problem.
According to a recent report by the Girl Scouts, which looked at girls’ perceptions of STEM fields, “74% of teen girls are interested in STEM” (page 12). As a woman, engineer, mother and friend put it to me recently, “It isn’t really a capture problem at all. It’s retention.” This is confirmed by a study on why women leave engineering, which found that women make up “more than 20% of engineering school graduates, yet only 11% of practicing engineers are women"
So, retention is a huge problem, and one that won’t likely be addressed by simply credentialing more women. Why is retention such a problem?
Redefining the problem: it sucks to be a woman in STEM
Okay, that’s a broad, sweeping statement. But it gets at the retention problem. It’s not that working in STEM sucks in the same way for every woman, or even that it sucks for every woman. But women, particularly women in engineering, face a significant amount of exclusion, to the extent that they are often exhausted by the need for constant effort just to prove that they can deserve their jobs.
There’s been a fair amount of discussion about these issues online recently. The #1reasonwhy hashtag (see stories here and here) talked about the ongoing, everyday dismissal, exclusion, and sexism that women have to fight against in addition to actually doing their work in the gaming industry.
More recently, the engineering recruitment firm Toptal had their ads on Linkedin blocked because members had complained about pictures of women in their ads. Eventually, Linkedin reversed the decision, but during the process, Toptal was advised that they needed to redo the ads with pictures “related to the product.” Given that the “product” was engineers and the pictures were women… well the conclusion is that (presumably male) Linkedin subscribers and staff don’t think women are engineers. Possibly they don’t think women can be, or maybe should be, engineers. These are the people that women engineers have to get jobs from, and work with.
And the problem starts earlier than this. When girls encounter discrimination and sexism in high school, as recounted in this blog post from a young woman’s mother, what incentive do smart young women with lots of potential have to keep cracking their spirit in pursuit of STEM careers? Very little, I would argue. And here is where we get back to how Goldiblox fit into this picture.
Goldiblox and the three stereotypes
Defining the problem as girls’ lack of interest led Sterling to research what it is that girls want to play with. She came to the conclusion that girls like stories and soft colours and familiar objects, so she made a toy that’s pink and light blue, with ribbons and spinning things that are somewhat reminiscent of sewing materials, and a storybook. Goldiblox is the main character, and she solves her problems using the objects included in the toy package to build a machine. Girls can follow along, and build a machine too, and then go on to build other machines.
Well, it’s fairly easy to see that this does little to address the problem of retention. But in the beginning, I said maybe it actually re-enforces stereotypes. Here is my reasoning.
When we use gender segregated toys to address the “problem” of girls not liking engineering, or other STEM fields and subjects, there are some important messages encoded into the toy that are stereotypical, and are not positive.
First, it makes the girls who are interested in STEM subjects invisible. That’s 74% of teenage girls, as you may recall from the beginning of this long post. That’s a lot of girls whose already-developed interest is being ignored in favour of defining a problem in a way that makes a toy more marketable.
Second, it suggests that the problem resides in girls and their interest—or lack of interest. It covers up the many reasons outside of girls’ control that girls and women might choose to pursue other interests, reasons like experiencing harassment and exclusion.
And third, because the problem is defined as an individual one of interest rather than a social one of inclusion, it suggests that there really is something less about girls, that they cannot come to the conclusion that building is fun and problem-solving is rewarding all on their own. They need to be tricked into it with familiar, pastel coloured objects and stories.
By making this a gendered toy that promotes segregated play and suggests that problem-solving styles are determined by gender, Goldiblox encodes discriminatory messages to girls and boys.
Playing together, working together
You may find my reading a stretch. I understand. On some level, toys are toys, kids are kids, right? By all means, if you have a girl—or a boy—who would love Goldiblox this critique is not meant to dissuade you from buying it for them, or letting them play with it. But recognize that Goldiblox has engaged in an intensive marketing campaign to parents that plays on existing gender stereotypes, and a marketing research perception that parents prefer gendered toys.
Back when I became aware of the Goldiblox Kickstarter campaign, I wrote to Debbie Sterling about my concerns. I pointed out the disparity in numbers between women with engineering degrees and women working as engineers, and suggested that a better way to address both attracting and retaining girls to STEM subjects would be to encourage girls and boys to play together. If boys get used to thinking about girls as equally capable, imaginative, creative, problem-solving partners in play, it won’t come as such a shock when those girls show up as women in their workplaces. I suggested making a male character, who works and plays with Goldiblox, and marketing it to kids who like stories rather than to “girls” per se.
She wrote back to me (I was shocked. Since having a daughter, I’ve been writing a lot of letters trying to make this world a tiny bit better for her. Most do not get replies). She was lovely in her reply. She liked my idea. But, she suggested, parents wouldn’t buy such a toy. Kids wouldn’t play with it.
I didn’t pursue it further, but I’ve been keeping an eye on the company, hoping that they’d show some sign of moving from exclusive to inclusive play. The viral video and the accompanying claim that stealing music is okay because they used it to create a girl-power anthem leave me cold, however. It seems that there is little here other than market calculations and a toy poised to successfully capitalize on stereotypes about girls and boys and the supposedly unsurmountable gulf between them.
[update: Goldiblox has apologized and removed the song from the video, while still maintaining that the song falls under fair use parody laws. Their apology does little to change my mind that they are making very calculating marketing choices with very little to do with positive social change or constructive social commentary.]
once again he is 100% correct
let me tell you a secret
the reason that women have overwhelming custody of children
is that men overwhelmingly don’t want to raise their fucking kids
And when they do, 70% of the time they get custody. So yeah, this is literally the only reason men don’t get custody of their kids as often as women.
can we just talk about Joss Whedon’s script for the avengers?
there is so much more i can’t even begin
OH MY GOD SOMEONE READ THE WHOLE SCRIPT TO ME LIKE A BEDTIME STORY
WHERE CAN I BUY A COMPLETE COPY OF THIS OMG THIS IS BEAUTIFUL
I’m only 50% sure that’s the real script