Several months ago, a British police chairman called for lifting the ban against tattoos on police officers. His argument was that tattoos serve as an “icebreaker” for dealing with the public. Now this is not a new argument, but it is the first time a public official has argued for the social benefits of tattooing. The change in perspective comes as a surprise, especially given the longstanding associations between tattoos and deviance.
Photo Credits: (From left to right) Candice Borden, epicmealtime.com, and osandstrom.com
Since you are probably going to spend today arguing about Occupy Wall Street with your conservative family members and helping your parents with computer questions we figured you would appreciate some slightly ligher fare: internet cooking shows. But because we are social scientists, we can’t be satisfied with uncritical review. Therefore, I want to discuss how these cooking shows interact with, perform, reify, and probelmitize constructions of gender and nationality. The three shows I want to cover (I’m gonna have to pass on this and this. There’s a great article at dailydot.com that lists most internet cooking shows.) are Epic Meal Time, Regular Ordinary Swedish Meal Time, and My Drunk Kitchen. Full disclosure: I have a profound weakness for all of these shows, with increasing affinity in the order I just presented them. In case you’re unfamiliar with these shows, I’ll briefly introduce them and then get into the theory. [Images after the break might be considered NSFW.] (more…)
“Jailbreak the patriarchy!” is a new Chrome extension from Danielle Sucher. The neat little project allows you to reframe the information you encounter on the internet by switching the gender of the content presented. The extension basically replaces instances of man with woman, he with she, and various other nouns and pronouns with their gendered equivalent (although it doesn’t always retain proper grammar). As Sucher herself states:
Jailbreak the Patriarchy genderswaps the world for you. When it’s installed, everything you read in Chrome (except for gmail, so far) loads with pronouns and a reasonably thorough set of other gendered words swapped. For example: “he loved his mother very much” would read as “she loved her father very much”, “the patriarchy also hurts men” would read as “the matriarchy also hurts women”, that sort of thing.
This makes reading stuff on the internet a pretty fascinating and eye-opening experience, I must say. What would the world be like if we reversed the way we speak about women and men? Well, now you can find out!
Manic Pixie Dreamgirls in Hollywood Films
A couple weeks back I posted about Steven Greenstreet’s video titled “The Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall St,” linking it to an emerging media trope called the “Manic Pixie Dreamgirl.” The phrase, coined by Nathan Rabin in his review of the 2005 film Elizabethtown, has quickly become a powerful reminder of the androcentric manner in which female characters are so often constructed in media texts.
I also connected the media trope to an emerging cultural stereotype about progressive young women. I argued that the manic pixie dreamgirl trope is largely a stereotype about young, progressive, non-conformist women who speak out of turn, defy normative conventions in self-presentation and behavior, and largely serve as “inspiration” for (white) male leads to step forward and grab life by the horns, assuming their rightful place as heirs to power. (more…)
Siri on iPhone 4S lets you use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. Ask Siri to do things just by talking the way you talk. Siri understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back. Siri is so easy to use and does so much, you’ll keep finding more and more ways to use it.
The paragraph above is taken directly from the Apple iPhone homepage. It is a description of Siri, one of the most talked about features of the new iPhone 4S. I argue here that Siri is rich with cultural meanings, and that these cultural meanings reside at the intersection of gender, market economy, and technology. (more…)
Recently I stumbled across this interview with Jacqui Moore, a rather well-known and visible member of the body modification community for her extensive black and grey full body suit. Bearing the rather exploitative tagline (which states “A respectable mother celebrated her divorce by asking her new boyfriend to cover her entire body – with a single TATTOO”), which makes her sound not only impulsive but pathological, what does this case reveal about contemporary body modification practices? What is the relationship between gender, patriarchy, and body modification? And what are the costs of using indigenous iconography and rituals in one’s body modification practices?
Jacqui Moore with husband Curly
- Sometimes, we forget birthdays… (Image Credit: Someecards.com)
Last Tuesday, Slate’s editor David Plotz wrote about a social experiment he performed last July.
I was born on Jan. 31, but I’ve always wanted a summer birthday. I set my Facebook birthday for Monday, July 11. Then, after July 11, I reset it for Monday, July 25. Then I reset it again for Thursday, July 28. Facebook doesn’t verify your birthday, and doesn’t block you from commemorating it over and over again. If you were a true egomaniac, you could celebrate your Facebook birthday every day. (You say it’s your birthday? It’s my birthday too!)
Plotz’s Facebook wall was filled by well-wishers on all three of his “birthdays.” He writes,
My social network was clearly sick of me. I received only 71 birthday wishes on July 28, down from more than 100 on my first two fake birthdays. And even more skeptics caught on to the experiment: 16 doubters, compared with 9 from three days earlier.
Orcs, Trolls, Elves and more. With such fantastical races and landscapes, online gaming is an area where people can seemingly escape reality and all the expectations of society. For newcomers to the world of online gaming, it seems like anything can happen. You can be whomever you want to be, your race, gender, sexuality or physical limitations no longer matter. Games without avatars provide an even deeper layer of anonymity for players; for all you know, you could be playing against a faceless being behind a computer.
However as most people will quickly realize, the online gaming world is very similar to the “real life” world and strong assumptions and stereotypes regarding players still exist. Players can largely avoid racial stereotypes as it’s hard to tell the race of the person behind the screen, however, gender stereotypes are harder to escape.
After a short period of time, (more…)
The debate over the extent to which the design and infrastructure of the Web privileges certain demographic groups is not new, but, nevertheless, continues to be important. Perhaps, most attention has been given to the way traditional gender hierarchies are reproduced by the masculine infrastructure of the Web. Cyborgology editor Nathan Jurgenson, for example, has previously covered the Wikipedia’s bias toward masculine language. Saskia Sassen warns “it may be naïve to overestimate the emancipatory power of cyberspace in terms of its capacity to neutralize gender distinctions.”
In an NPR interview this week, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales addressed the masculine bias of Wikipedia:
“The average age [of Wikipedia users] is around 26,” Wales says. “We’re about 85 percent male, which is something we’d like to change in the future. We think that’s because of our tech-geek roots.”
While the organization’s acknowledgment that the gender disparity on Wikipedia is promising, Wales seems to address the need for making the site more inclusive to women only from a marketing perspective. Sociologically speaking, there is a far more important reason to attract women to Wikipedia. Feminist sociologists have long argued the the types of knowledges that men and women produce are fundamentally different (in no small part due to their distinct social experiences). As Wikipedia is increasingly accepted as the primary source of collected human wisdom, it is important to ask whose voices are being left out, and as such, what ways of thinking are absent in the conversation. For Wikipedia, design and accessibility are not merely questions of customer service, but, in fact, have profound epistemological implications.
Life is rough for men wealthy enough to own an iPad: “how to carry it in a manner that is practical and yet, well, masculine.”
This is from a New York Times story that chronicles the danger of the iPad on a man’s masculinity, specifically, the need for a carrying case that does not look too much like –gasp!– a woman’s purse. The horror of appearing slightly feminine runs so deep that CNET ranks bags with a “humiliation index” (would be better to call it a “heteronormativity index”).
The story turns especially dark when we learn that Apple’s neglect has resulted in some men not being able to leave the house with their iPad. Or even worse, not buy one at all in fear of not appearing masculine enough. But there is hope for these rich males: “Scottevest plans to introduce an iPad-compatible blazer in time for Christmas.” See the manvertising here.