travel/tourism

Cross-posted at FemmePolitical.

As many as 4 million people — most of them women and children — are sold into slavery globally each year, according to the United Nations, and 70 percent of those women are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation [PDF]. An estimated 200,000 American children are at risk for sex trafficking each year, and the International Human Rights Law Institute estimates that 30,000 sexual slaves die annually from abuse, torture, neglect and disease.

So why is Disneyland still asking us to laugh at an overt depiction of sexual slavery in its popular Pirates of the Caribbean ride?

Many of us have floated past the scene of a pirate captain selling captured women as “brides,” with the banner “Auction: Take a Wench as a Bride.” Viewer focus is drawn to a rotund woman on the auction block, an object of open derision due to her weight, as well as to a red-haired woman with her breasts on display, an object of hoots and hollers from surrounding drunken pirates.

These two women are linked to four other women-for-sale by ropes cinched around their waists. One of the captives–a teenager–cries profusely into a handkerchief while an older woman tries to comfort her. This disturbing scene of women being sold into sexual slavery is supposed to be amusing.

What makes this all the more alarming is that the Disney folks altered the ride to be less sexist during a major renovation in 2007. It originally included a scene with male pirates chasing unwilling (but giggling) townswomen and another in which an overweight male pirate, exhausted from his pursuit of a teenage girl, holds a piece of her dress and says, “It’s sore I be to hoist me colors upon the likes of that shy little wench” and, “Keep a weather eye open, Mateys. I be willing to share, I be” (an implied gang-rape invitation?).

The pirates-ravaging-wenches aspect of the Pirates attraction was planned from its inception in the late 1960s. Several sketches from illustrator Marc Davis conveyed the rapacious spirit of the scenes:

And they included the notion that women might even enjoy being sold into sexual slavery:

So why didn’t Disney get rid of the sexual slave auction when it had the chance? What arguments were put forth by corporate executives to justify showing these images to as many as 40,000 visitors a day, many of them children, with jovial music playing in the background? (Note: Pirates was the last exhibit Walt Disney oversaw before his death. The auction scene is the only one he saw fully animated, and the only scene that has never been altered.)

Disney has unparalleled power to shape young hearts and minds. If the Pirates of the Caribbean ride normalizes sexual slavery with humor, it can desensitize viewers to this heinous and very real gendered crime.

When will Disney learn that sexual slavery is no laughing matter? Contact the company to let them know what you think.

Special thanks to C. Martin Croker for his insightful research on the ride and to Theme Park Adventure magazine for images and history on the ride.

Breast cancer awareness campaigns have perfected the performance of social cause support.  Wearing a pink ribbon, a pin with a pink ribbon, or something with a pink ribbon on it is now coterminous with concern and support for people diagnosed with breast cancer.  Many companies now have breast cancer awareness-themed products.

Similarly, yellow ribbons with the phrase “support our troops,” most notably magnetized to car bumpers, is another form of “conspicuous cause endorsement.”  Stephen W. discovered another example of this form of “activism,” this time in collaboration with Goodyear tires.

From what I can discern, the programconsists of putting “Support Our Troops” tires on Nascar cars sponsored by Goodyear, donating $20,000 towards troop-supporting causes, and then asking  you to buy their tires and donate your own money.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming Introduction to Sociology text. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

During the 19th the United States received many new residents from China.  Sometimes they came voluntarily; sometimes they were imported forcibly.  The term “Shanghaied” originally described the forced stealing of Chinese men to come work in America.  Many of them worked on the transcontinental railroad, built between 1863 and 1869.  Ninety percent of the workers on the central Pacific track, for example, were Chinese.

After the railroad was completed, however, many Chinese went to work in industries in which they competed with white American workers, especially mining, and they became scapegoats for white unemployment.  For some examples of anti-Asian propaganda, see our collection of “yellow peril” posters and cartoons.

Animosity towards the Chinese culminated in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.  The Act meant that Chinese in America, most of whom were adult men, had little hope of reuniting with their families if they stayed in the U.S.; it also allowed the U.S. to deny re-entry if a Chinese person already in the U.S. left the country; and it excluded the Chinese in America from getting U.S. citizenship.

The Chinese Exclusion Act is an ugly moment in U.S. history that was supported by many Americans.  But this support wasn’t universal.  The political cartoon below attacks the Act.  “No admittance to Chinamen,” it reads.  But “communist nihilist-socialist fenian & hoodlum [are] welcome.”  The punchline reads, sarcastically, “We must draw the line somewhere, you know.”

(Image from Time.)

The Fenian, by the way, were Irish political groups, suggesting that the embrace of one minority group did not necessarily translate into the embrace of others.   Or maybe the cartoon was meant to go the other way: “If we’re going to exclude the Chinese, let’s exclude others as well.”

UPDATE: Loki offered the following helpful correction to my description of the word “Shanghaid”:

A bit of disagreement: The verb to Shanghai someone was more often used with respect to the practice of crimps or other people to use force, intimidation or outright kidnapping to man merchant ships during the 18th century.

I’m not about to claim that there weren’t cases of people from Shanghai being forcibly relocated to the US to work on the railroad – but the term refers to one of the abuses of common sailors that was considered usual practice in the age of sail.

Wikipedia article here, for some background of the maritime history of the term: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghaiing

Lisa Wade, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming Introduction to Sociology text. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

In New Orleans sidewalk corners are adorned with delightful blue-and-white tiles, originally dating from the 1870s, telling you the name of the street you are crossing:

As I stepped over some of these, it occurred to met that they told a story about city planning.  Unlike the street signs in most cities (including New Orleans) that are attached to poles and displayed high, these can’t be seen by drivers.  These are designed for pedestrians, and perhaps bikers, using sidewalks.  They reflect a time when planners were designing the city for people on foot.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming Introduction to Sociology text. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

We recently posted about an ad for internet service that used the metaphor of a prostitute.  It/she was “fast” and “cheap” with “satisfaction guaranteed.”  We also recently posted about national personifications, fictional or semi-fictional people used to represent countries.  This ad campaign, submitted by Mary S., has both.

Victoria, a city in British Columbia, is personified as “Victoria,” the sex worker.  “Victoria’s cheap,” the ad reads, “but she’ll show you a great time.”  The larger message, of course, is that places are like women and women are like places.  They are experiences to purchase and consume, preferably cheaply.

UPDATE: Some in the comments have suggested that I cropped the ad to make my point.  So here is the whole front page of the website, victoriascheap.com:

Lisa Wade, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming Introduction to Sociology text. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Reflecting the expectation that it is women who will do the majority of the child care, men’s bathrooms frequently do not have baby changing tables.   This particular bathroom at the Baltimore airport, however, is an exception.  Notice anything odd?

Thanks to Corey O., Monique P., and eaglevision for the submission!

See also our post on stick figures and stick figures who parent.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming Introduction to Sociology text. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

This 1937 ad for United Airlines boasts a “miracle” improvement in air travel in just 10 years. In 1927, when commercial flight was initiated, it took 33 hours and 14 stops to fly from coast to coast. By 1937, one could fly the same distance in just 15 and 1/3 hours! With only three stops!

The ad certainly puts into perspective my own frustration at what a time-suck air travel can be.

Source: Vintage Ads.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming Introduction to Sociology text. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

To me this New York Times graphic showing the relationship between gas prices and the average number of miles driven powerfully suggests that gas prices actually have little to do with how much driving Americans do.  The vertical axis is gas prices and the horizontal axis is the number of miles driven.  The line inside the figure is time.

Basically the illustration shows that the number of miles per year Americans drive has been climbing since 1956.  Despite short-term gas price fluctuations, something is driving us to drive more and more every year.

When gas prices do shoot up — such as during the oil embargo, the energy crisis, and the most recent peak — Americans show a  modest drop in driving, but it’s not a very large one and we recover rather quickly.  During the oil embargo, Americans shaved 210 miles a year off of their driving.  During the energy crisis, only 156.  The recent reduction in the number of miles driven per year is attributed by the New York Times writer to the fact that so many people are unemployed and, therefore, no longer need to drive to work.

Driving, then, shows only a modest response to high prices.  Perhaps the jumps in prices during these peaks — 43 and 106 cents per gallon respectively —  weren’t really worth slowing down for?  Or perhaps driving is so culturally meaningful that Americans are willing to pay to stay in their cars regardless?  Or maybe driving, and driving farther, has become increasingly important over time such that people can’t reasonably reduce the amount of driving they do?

It seems to me that the problem is at least partly infrastructural.  I wonder how average miles driven responds, or would respond, to enhancing and investing in public transportation?  If we started building denser neighborhoods and got rid of suburbs?

Flowing Data.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a Visiting Scholar at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming Introduction to Sociology text. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.