Jacob McKay created this digital story in the Drake University J-term class SCS 153: Documentary Video Challenge: Digital Storytelling for Social Justice.
Relational Bullying is the opposite of physical bullying, yet just as damaging to self-esteem if not more so. The wounds from physical bullying may fade after time but wounds from relational bullying can last for years if not a lifetime. Some examples of relational bullying are peer pressure, gossip, social exclusion and feigning friendship to gain trust of the victim. According to a study by the University of Illinois by Rodkin et al, bullies have been known to either have high self-esteem, or worse, be former victims of bullying themselves (2015). Some of these perpetrators have been marginalized socially themselves, suffer from low self-esteem, and use bullying as a way to take their anguish out on someone else. Additionally, although some bullies come from good homes, just as many come from dysfunctional homes with abusive parents.
With the popularity of the internet, the amount of relational bullying has exploded. Victims are no longer able to escape their bullies by leaving the school and going home, instead the abuse continues at home online. Especially with the widespread use of smartphones now, at times it is inescapable. The abuse has intensified online as well. Perpetrators create Facebook pages for example, inviting peers to trade information about the victim and post pictures, all without permission. This particular method has resulted in countless suicides. Just recently, there was an article on npr.org about the announcement that for girls aged 15-19 suicide is now the #1 cause of death(2015). Although this statistic may not be entirely due to bullying, it is without a doubt it is a large factor.
There are many psychological temperaments that a bully may have. Some of these are: Anger, Depression, and Anxiety. Anger management should be part of teaching children in the no bullying area. Teaching children at a young age, on through adolescence on how to control their anger and even direct it in a more productive way. Anger and aggression are main components of bullying. Depression is common on victims of bullies and in bullies themselves. This area is important because depression leads to suicides, especially in middle-school aged children. Victims of bullies often have depression, therefore these children are the most at-risk. Anxiety is also a component of bullies and of bullied victims. Anxiety can cause students to miss school thus heightening anxiety for having to return and having to face peers and teachers and homework.
The feminist social justice approach is to treat the bullies and the victims the same. Meaning, teach each child the same for the symptoms and psychological aspects as listed above.
We should all be treated the same. The laws in this country allow all children to have a free education and therefore we all have to live together. Approaching the problem of bullying
From a psychological aspect should alleviate the bullying problems we are currently facing.
Preschoolers through adolescence have been bullies. Preschoolers do not have the verbal and cognitive skills to hide it as well as the older children, therefore it is easier to recognize.
As children age, they gain skills in which they could covertly bully other students. Being a victim of a bully also causes children to be rejected by their peers. Not only are they being victimized by the bully, but then rejected by others because they cannot defend themselves, nor will anyone assist the victim. Boys and girls are both equally bullies and victims.
Educators are more focused on physical bullying than relational bullying. Relational bullying is hard to recognize because it can be verbal, silent, on social media, through notes, whatever way the bully can get to the victim. It can be subtle, for example, “You can’t sit with us at lunch today.” or “You can’t be friends with us today.” The child would be alienated from their ‘normal’ group of friends. There is no evidence of this behavior and of course the bully will not admit it. Educators would not easily recognize this unless it is self-reported. By being aware of their students and care monitoring of these students, being able to identify bullies and victims would become more prevalent. Adults, though, typically ignore this type of bullying and disregard it as, oh, boys will be boys, or those girls always stay together.
To combat this, educators need to be aware of the subtle signs of relational bullying and not rely on the victim to speak out. Schools might even need to look into support staffs that are IT savvy who will take on the responsibility of monitoring social networking for signs of trouble. Schools could also have anonymous ways of reporting harassment for those who want to report instances of relational bullying. As bullying has evolved, methods to combat them need to evolve as well. Educators as well as administrators and staff need to think outside the box so to speak. Obviously we will never be able to eradicate peer to peer relational bullying completely, but we can at least try.
Rodkin, P. C., Espelage, D. L., & Hanish, L. D. (2015). A relational framework for understanding bullying: Developmental antecedents and outcomes. American Psychologist, 70(4), 311-321. doi:10.1037/a0038658
Lea Kozulic, Susan Smith, Emily Tyler
We learned that the empathy is the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from within the that person’s frame of reference. In the movie Bully, noone really felt or experienced empathy with Alex besides his parents who went to see the principal who were devastated and desperate because they knew what their son was going through and they couldn’t have helped him on their own. Principal on the other hand, didn’t really show signs of empathy with the parents because she said she would help them in fall and she did not. Finally, she intervened and asked her assistant to work on the case but it didn’t end up being very effective because children kept teasing him and the boy ended up being scared even more. Same thing with the girl named Kelly who was a lesbian. In the end of the movie, she said that “maybe there’s other place she could go and make a difference”. But, not here.
Obviously, forcing the children to the things they don’t really want to do, won’t make them stop teasing other kids because they can’t think rationally – or ’empathically’ – at their age. Their emotional intelligence isn’t developed enough for them to percieve what is right or what is wrong. It’s all about how their idols or role models influence them. This is where the role of parents comes up. Parents are children’s role models at young age. They copy their moves and want to be like them. Throughout the readings and the book The Bluest Eye, we could learn and a lot and expand our views about the power of role models. There was a big difference in the attitude of Pecola and Claudia towards themselves and the fact they were black. It all depended a lot about their role models. Pecola didn’t have good role models because here parents were a mess themselves and didn’t appreciate their own lives. They accepted the life a misery which was something that started in their own heads at their very young age. On the other hand, Claudia was lucky enough to have a somehow stable family where people loved and supported each other.
This is why it’s important to give a good example of being a good and strong person to kids at the very young age. It’s important to teach them mannerism and good values. It’s important to teach them to respect other people and the differences between us. It is important to teach them that we are all equal but different as well. That is the art of nurturing. This is where empathy really is important. It is easy to identify with people who have very similar habits as you do, but how are you going to teach your kids to respect people who are different, but at the same time the same as you are? It all starts at young age and this is where parents teach their kids how to respect kids and identify themselves with others. One of the good ways would be to ask their kids how would they feel if they were bullied? How would they feel if they would have been in the bullied kid’s skin? Probably not very good. This is why we created a poster that would remind the children that it is their choice whether they are going to be bullies and to make it look bad. It is also important to treat those kids as young adults because that’s how they want to be treated so it reminds them that everyone has issues of their own that we need to respect.
Torina Gedler, Angela Geametto, Darpan Mehta, Pamela Mulhern
Bullying Final Post Draft
We’ve chosen two posters that a) Encourage students to get motivated by the Stand for the Silent program and b) Reminds the administration that tackling bullying is a big part of their responsibility. Our research indicated that the administration is usually very good at handling bullying cases that are overt (actual physical abuse such as punching or kicking or overt verbal actions such as name-calling and insulting) but not that great at handling the more covert aspects of Bullying. Covert bullying is the kind of bullying done out of sight and involves inflicting harm by damaging another’s social reputation, peer relationships and self-esteem. I.e. involving more relational bullying and threatening looks or hand gestures. Therefore, our posters need to tackle the more covert cases which we realize will be more difficult as we’re trying to bring about systemic changes and not just trying to implement a bullies get punished method.
As we’ve seen from our readings in this class and from the video ‘Bullying’, the conventional methods that have been used so far that focus more on an individual’s psyche don’t really address the problem. The bully is still likely to continue bullying. Instead, our method focuses on treating this as a systemic problem that can only be truly eradicated through making a change in student perceptions about bullying which the first poster aims to do. It is also very important to have a simple poster that encourages a child to look up a program that has much more information in it. Treating bullying is a vast subject and it’s more feasible to provide a starting point via a poster rather than cramming all the information in the poster itself. It also plays on the curiosity of students who are much more likely to learn that way instead of being subjected to posters and material that they are forced to learn.
Giving the bystander room to explore also addresses one of the main challenges of Bystander Programs. Most bystanders don’t step up even when they know bullying is occurring is because of lack of awareness of what steps to take to help stop the bullying. A Lack of awareness leads to lack of courage to step in as they aren’t sure as to what to do. A lot of bystander programs encourage students to step up but the students need to know how or want much more information before they take any action. Consider, also that different students are satisfied with different levels of awareness. Student ‘A’ might step when bullying occurs and tell the bully to cut it but Student ‘B’ might want to know more about what to do if the bully changes his focus to them or ignores them. A self-motivated approach that we propose via having a simple, yet inviting poster is to let the student decide how much awareness he/she needs herself before acting to do something.
The administration needs to realize the effect that they can have on preventing and stopping bullying. Student’s are not likely to report their problems to the administration if they feel nothing is being done when they do report. The administration needs to do continuing education in these areas throughout their time teaching as we learn new techniques to deal with bullying all the time. Bullying is also something that every instructor will see at some point in their career and the importance of combating bullying needs to be remembered with each student encounter. Parents are leaving their kids at school with the belief that they will be in safe capable hands and administrators need to realize how important that makes their jobs. The internet opens a wide area of possibilities for administrators to help combat bullying in their own school. They can reach out to other schools that have had success in lowering incidence of bullying on what they did and how that worked. There are various workshops available to administrators currently on the subject of bullying and each school district should research the best one for their school to take part in.
The administrators also have the responsibility to bring bullying prevention exercises to the students. The administration will have to take what they learn from their own experiences to the students in a way that the students will take it seriously. Administration needs to show the students the importance of the program and the gravity of the situation for the program to have any success. Once the workshop of sort has been presented to the students the administration should make available options for students to join Stand for the Silent or to encourage the students to making their own anti-bullying program. This type of take charge stance on bullying should especially be encouraged in the students that have the most influence and power in the school such as those on the student council. This would be important because these students are essentially the administration of the students and they already know that they have to power to make changes. The administration needs to realize that while they have great power to end bullying they also still need the students’ cooperation and help in making these important changes.
Empathy and Friendship
Posted by Lea Kozulic, Emily Tyler, and Susan Smith at Friday, May 22, 2015 4:59:32 PM CDT
The course materials shed light on bullying by showing the connection between bullying and reinforcing gender stereotypes. Bullying, especially in males, came as a way of reinforcing a certain idea of masculinity in the degradation of homosexuality and an exaggerated sense of heterosexuality with a male gaze. They acted to limit people to a certain idea of gender roles, a limitation that the 2nd Wave Feminism Free to Be Me series attempted to break down and create greater diversity through. The series worked to acknowledge differences within gender and make them more acceptable so that bullying would not be such an issue in aligning with only certain ideas of gender roles.
Free to be content challenged gender roles, race and class. It focused on overcoming the large gender divide that was represented in children’s literature. The good thing was that those songs from the album were catchy and easy to learn so teachers could use them in school as well to create a sense of new ideology for kids starting from their early age. That way they would create a common way of thinking for children, a common sense of ideas which would help with empathy. Empathy would be much greater and kids would understand each other better which would reduce bullying and also, raise awareness about it to other teachers and parents. It’s really hard for parents to force their children to just stop being who they are, just like’ve seen it in the movie Bully. You need to gradually teach them how to behave and that’s why Free to be was great for nurturing. It was great how granny, the member of older generation, was the person who helped in breaking the barriers in the movie. That shows how wide audience the content of Free to Be had. The era of second wave feminism was the era of new ideas and liberty where noone was supposed to be afraid of what they truly are and not be afraid to show it. Free to Be served as a friendly and accessible point of entry for the feminist message of gender equality and self-atualization. Many feminists argued that children’s gender indentities were shaped primarily by their social environment so they wanted everyone to embrace the differences between people and encourage them to not be afraid to show if they are different than someone else.
Because gender expectations are so stringent I think it could be hard to make friends. Pascoe showed that it is not only aggressive bullying that attacks gender roles but friends joking with friends too, as we see in 40 Year Old Virgin, “you know how I know you’re gay…” Friends would have to be constantly guarding themselves from displaying any kind of feminine behavior to avoid this. Putting on an act at all times of who they are socially expected to be, not necessarily who they want to be. This robs people the opportunity to be true to themselves but also build meaningful friendships. Being in a constant act also can lead to an actual belief of this is who I am, we saw this problem in 5/20’s readings. It is important for kids to be able to find other kids they can identify and empathize with. A moving scene in the film Bully was when one of the young boys who is friends with 12 year old suicide-victim Ty discussed his journey from second to fourth grade wherein he talked about how he went from being a bully to understanding the effects of his actions and changing them. By Ty taking the opportunity to empathize for other kids he ceased bullying himself and was able to make friends.
Pascoe looks at bullying not as a matter of individualistic behavior deviations, but rather results of structural inequalities which therefore need to be dealt with on a large-scale, systematic manner rather through personal corrections. It’s occurring because of the gender socialization. It’s not just gay kids that are bullied because they are gay. It is a part of boy’s gender socialization where they try to shape their masculine behaviors so they would call someone gay just because that boy would cry or express the sensitive behavior. Pacoe showed that middle age boys were the most common bullies, that being a bully was like a “rite of passage” to becoming men. This rite of passage mostly consists of young boys being homophobic. She explains that homophobic is not just the fear of gay men but a catch-all for anything seen as unmasculine. This homophobic taunting she explains plays an important role in boys’ gender socialization process. Because this behavior is done much more than the traditional bullying manner, by friends joking with friends for example’ Pacoe states that she believe bully programs are too short sighted, that rather the focus should be on addressing structural inequalities regarding gender and sexuality. The video showed that children who were seen as others struggled from bullying, if you are defined as being other then society doesn’t have to befriend you or show you empathy. The young girl was forced to quit basketball because they were concerned with touching her. They young boy was forced to switch to a different bus because of the constant verbal and physical abuse he was subjected to. During the town hall meeting a young boy stands up and state that the administration doesn’t do anything because they act like the kind themselves must have done something to deserve the negative attention or that they will.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. If we as individuals took the time to consider others feelings, then after this consideration prudently decided how we act the world would have the opportunity to achieve social justice. Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities. If we do not take the time to display empathy and consider others feelings, we will not be able to achieve social justice. In the movie Bully, noone felt/experienced empathy with Alex besides his parents who went to see the principal because they didn’t know what else to do and they were devastated and desperate because they knew what their son is going through and they couldn’t help him. Principal on the other hand, didn’t really show signs of empathy with the parents because she said she would help them in fall and she did not. Finally, she intervened and asked her assistant to work on the case but it didn’t end up being very effective because children kept teasing him and the boy ended up being scared even more. Same thing with the girl named Kelly who was a lesbian. In the end of the movie, she said that “maybe there’s other place she could go and make a difference”. But, not here.
A social justice approach to bullying can be done through increased empathy. When people can see what others are experiencing in an emotional way, as the documentary Bully allowed people to do, it becomes harder to ignore the problem. More things of this nature- things that allow people to connect with victims and feel their pain- should be used in creating empathetic understanding and hopefully through that reduce if not eliminate bullying.
The Prohibitive Culture of Snitching New
Posted by Zachary Berman, Reed Timmer, Hannah Hennessy, Allie Calvert, and Tasha Alexander at Friday, May 22, 2015 6:44:03 PM CDT
In C.J. Pascoe’s article, she refers to a statistic that 93 percent of youth hear homophobic slurs occasionally and 51 percent hear them daily. These homophobic slurs shape masculine identities. Similarly, boys mock homosexual behavior. One of the most prominent behaviors deemed ‘homosexual and unmanly’ is snitching. Snitching means that you are unable to deal with problems on your own and rely on others to fix things for you. Boys are supposed to take care of themselves and not need their ‘mommies’ or teachers when things aren’t going well. Our group read several articles, watched a film, and watched other videos that relate to the prohibitive nature of snitching. In most cases, a child goes to an adult, or ‘snitches’, in search of help. We see that most often, they either are ignored or appropriate action isn’t taken. In this post, we seek to define the difference between ‘classic snitching’ and reporting behavior that is beyond a child’s control.
The story of William’s Doll was a controversial subject. It was portrayed to schoolchildren to show that it is okay for boys to have a doll. Although William’s dad encouraged sports, William still wanted a doll to call his own. After some time latter his grandma decided that William should have a doll because he wants to care for it and love it. Despite the criticism that his classmates gave him for wanting a doll, William still wanted a doll. In this situation, the grandma acted as the social justice. Grandma gave the doll to William, which brought the justice to William, as he wanted a doll. Grandma also talked to William’s dad, showing him that William wants a doll to care for, so that when William grows up and becomes a father, he will be a great father to his baby. At the end of this video, there is a different attitude towards the situation from his father and the kids from school that made fun of him. In this video and reading, snitching plays a role in how the kids treat William, and his reaction to their bullying. At the beginning of this video, only three kids mock him, but the next time the chorus comes around, more kids mock him. There must have been some snitching going on. At the end of the video when William is talking to his grandma, he tells her how much he wants a doll. William also tells her how all the kids to make fun of him for wanting a doll. This shows the correct type of snitching. He is doing to because he is getting bullied, not to cause harm to the other kids.
In the video, “Free to be… You and Me”, if you listen to the lyrics of the song, you can hear a cry for kids to be equal. The reading explains how fifth graders understand and feel inspired by these lyrics. The song alone brought social justice to classrooms everywhere and gave a sense of equality with students. One student said, “I’m only in the fifth grade but I feel I can understand these songs. They are so meaningful and sensitive.” These songs tried to give a greater sense of diversity among children and to show these children that they can grow and carry on these traits and stories.
There is a gender standard of socially acceptable behavior that is heavily influences children. Boys and men are supposed to work hard, play sports, provide for the family, be smart, make decisions, wear blue, and marry girls. Girls and women are supposed to like pink, play with dolls, stay at home, cook and clean, bare children, raise the family, have decisions made for them by men, and marry a man. All of these stereotypes of socially acceptable gender behaviors standardize children into being what they should be instead of letting children grow to their full potential and be themselves. William, viewed as a boy who wanted to play with girl toys, was seen as feminine and gay, rather than as practicing to be a good nurturing father. One way to potentially break this stereotype is making toy colors more gender neutral instead of Pepto-Bismol pink and baby blue.
Free to Be…You and Me, Second-Wave feminism, and 1970s American Children’s Culture featured a song called Free to Be… You and Me. The song promoted kids to be who they are. It said that it is okay for boys to play with dolls and for girls to have liberty. It began the second-wave feminism both by inspiring adults and initializing new ways to raise children to be themselves. The song also promoted diversity in children’s’ lives. No matter how similar two families can be, those same families are also very different, though not inferior. A portion of children’s book viewed girls and women in an insulting way. A girl called Albasically stated that it was okay to be less girly as a young girl because she will eventually grow up to be a reserved lady. Books like these are considered “social poison” in the article. A woman’s confidence, based on the traditional women, is blind to the opportunities and potential of the world. Free to be did not represent easy acceptance to the changes coming among us, it represented the fight and hard work to achieve the goals you desire. Just as freedom for any independence war did not come easily.
In the eyes of children, a snitch is a tattletale. It is someone telling on someone else for doing something bad even if it has no immediate affect on him or her. This has evolved into telling on someone for doing anything at all, even if it does directly involve him or her. A couple of consequences come from snitching: worse treatment from a bully, loss of trust, and exclusion. A child’s goal in life is acceptance. They want people to like them even if they have to sacrifice parts of who they are. They think being friends with bad people is better than not having friends.
Sometimes kids are scared to tell people what is actually going on because they are told that they are tattling or snitching, and that’s not what you’re supposed to do. Some people act like the kids don’t know what they’re talking about, are just having a few problems in school, and aren’t really getting bullied. We need to let the kids know that they do have people to talk to and that they can come to people that will help them with their problems. Kids should not have to face bullying alone.
In the movie Bully, the same kid picks on Cole every day. He has threatened to break his arm and even to kill him. One day, the teacher sees it happening and makes them both come and talk to her. The teacher has them to shake each other’s hand and apologize. Cole won’t do it because the bully is only doing what the teacher says because they are in front of her, not because he actually means it. Cole tried many times to get away from the kid and tell people about him. He has reported the bullying to the school and to the police and they tell him they will take care of it, but nothing happens and the kid still picks on him every day. The teachers and police don’t take Cole seriously. If a kid goes to an authority like a teacher or police officer for help, he or she should get help. If he doesn’t, it teaches them that they are in it alone and there is no one to go to when the problem gets even more serious.
A girl named Ja’meya in the movie tries to talk about how mean the kids are to her and how they pick on her every day, but no one would listen. Ja’meya decided to do something about it for herself by bringing a gun to school to get the kids that were picking on her to leave her alone. She had to spend a couple of months in a psychiatric hospital as a result. She should have never taken the gun to school, but it could have all been prevented if someone would have listened to her when she was trying to tell people about her problems. Sometimes kids are under so much pressure to fit in and make friends that they forget what the difference between right and wrong. In some cases, like Ja’meya’s, they can get so fed up with everything going on that they make rush and bad decisions because they have no one to talk to.
Another kid from the movie Bully, Tyler, got bullied so severely that he committed suicide. All of the teachers’ responses were that they couldn’t watch what every kid said or did. It is understandable that with so many kids, it is hard to ensure everyone is on their best behavior, but when the person has already had problems with kids bullying him, you need to make sure to watch them and make sure that they are okay. One time at school, there were two kids who ganged up on Tyler and beat him up. After he got beat up, the school officers that were there said that they couldn’t press charges because the boys who did it said nothing happened. The school officers knew that the bullying that was going on, and when it happened right in front of them, they did nothing and acted like it was normal for boys. There are many instances of bullying that happen on an everyday basis, but we often try to act like nothing is happening. It has gotten to the point that the only time we pay attention to bullying is when a child takes their life because of it. We need be proactive and do something about bullying before it gets to that point.
Alex, also in the movie Bully, has a hard time telling his parents what is going on at school and on the bus because he doesn’t have many friends. He doesn’t want the other kids to dislike him even more. He told his mom, “If you don’t think these people are my friends, then what friends do I have?” He has become the punching bag for all of his supposed friends and doesn’t want to tell anyone about it because then he might lose the “friends” that he has. His parents went in to talk to the principal and the principal told his mom that she rode the same bus, and the kids on the bus are “good as gold”. After having a meeting with Alex’s parents they decided to talk to the kids bullying Alex. They think just getting after the kids is going to stop the bullies, but it doesn’t. It’s part of the reason Alex didn’t want to tell his parents in the first place: He has told them before and the principal had a talk with a kid, but that was it and the kid continued to bully him. Kids need to be able to go to someone when they need help. They shouldn’t be scared to tell adults what is going on, and they should be able to tell them without it being considered snitching. We would never question an adult and would help them right away, so why are we making our children suffer?
In terms of a social justice approach, snitching is viewed by society as a negative thing from an outside partying getting involved in another group’s business. We can see why snitching is bad in many situations, and a lot of them are brought up in the article, “Boy Culture”. The author talks about how boys grow up by experiencing games and pastimes where there is often head to head hostile conflict. This is where boys begin to learn the basis of bullying and snitching. Little fights are deemed as “boys being boys”, yet they learn to realize which groups of kids are weaker. There may be kids strictly observing the conflict, and later tattle on those they don’t like to get them in trouble. This type of tattling gives teaches children that snitching is bad.
Boy Culture also went over the culture and adult authority aspect of a boy’s childhood. This goes well with our concept of the prohibitive culture of snitching. I think by learning about authority, especially from people boys in that situation respect such as their parents is a key role in gaining background information about snitching and realizing snitching’s consequences, along with other bad behavior. Also connecting it to bullying, once bullying begins and escalates to the point where someone needs to stop it, the party that is being bullied or a third party almost immediately will go and look for a proper authority figure or party. If this aspect of boy culture (one of learning respect and almost a little fear for elders) is not learned, then the bully will have less of a chance to discontinue all the pain that he or she is causing. Going further, if that respect isn’t learned or realized then kids in the bullying situation will not know who to turn to for help, which is indeed different than snitching.
The last section in the “Boy Culture” article talked about friendship between boys. Friendship is key in building trust. They learn how to respect others. When snitching occurs, it obviously affects the feelings of the other party involved. If that aspect of a boy’s life doesn’t develop, they won’t realize the harm of snitching to others, and won’t be able to form bonds with others. The article talks about loyalty, which is a great word that relates to snitching and boys growing up. Remaining loyal to a friend or peer goes a long way. Loyalty shows maturity, even in a young boy, along with respect that they will carry for the rest of their lives. They will act with those aspects of their character when they get involved with a bullying situation.
These articles and videos all show ineffective adult intervention. However, proper adult intervention can help reduce or even eliminate bullying. Classmates are on the same relative level of wisdom and respect in society, while adults are more respected. According to NoBullying.com, only 20-30 percent of bullied students tell adults. Also, when an adult intervenes, the bullying stops within ten seconds about 57 percent of the time. The fact that adult intervention usually stops immediate bullying activity is important, but adults need to do more than just intervene. They need to help find a long-term solution that will less likely lead to the children reverting back to their old behavior. Society discourages snitches and tattle-tails, but often times the only way to resolve a problem is adult intervention. Thus, adults should make themselves an open resource to come to when kids are having problems. Them, they can determine whether or not it is worth action, but they must consider whether or not it can be solved without an adult to garner respect and authority.
Students in Patton-Imani’s Introduction to Women’s Studies were sent on an intellectual scavenger hunt in which they had to explore, analyze, synthesize, and apply connections between knowledge, power, media images and narratives, and individual lives. Drawing on class discussions about Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, each group was asked to critically consider what we can learn about contemporary society from this narrative, focusing on one of the following: romantic love, beauty, masculinity, femininity. The blog posts below share some of their work. Please leave comments!
Masculinity is very prominent in TV commercials. Two examples of this are the Dr. Pepper Ten commercial and the Old Spice commercial. In the Dr. Pepper Ten commercial, in order to get men to buy their diet soda, they make it seem like it’s a really masculine thing to buy, or that the drink isn’t for women somehow. They even made a page for the drink on Facebook where they blocked any women from joining the group. Normally women are the ones who buy diet soda, but by doing this kind of advertisement, it gets men to buy into the “10 manly calories” and purchase the drink that they might not have otherwise. The Old Spice commercial shows the “ideal man” and that by buying the deodorant you can at least smell like the “ideal man”. The other aspect of the commercial is that when he talks, he’s directing it at the women even though the advertisement is trying to get men to buy it. He says things like “Look at your man, now back at me. Don’t you wish your man cou
ld smell like me? Etc” In a way this gets men to think that women desire this type of man, and in order to be like him, you first need to smell like him. These are the type of commercials that control the way men think, and get them to buy products that they may otherwise not buy, because they want to be seen as manly in order to attract the women.
When you hear the jingle, you hear the music in your head, but do you realize what you are actually watching? Every couple that Kay advertises is a same-race couple but it’s never an interracial couple. If you dig a little deeper, you can see that they play certain races’ commercials in certain areas more than others according to advertisingdirected.com. Also, does it ever strike you that they play out this “romantic love” concept by the simplicity of a kiss between a two people? It is so played out that if you end up with a couple of the same race as you and you buy them this ring, then it will automatically work out! I personally feel that there are a lot more trials you must face in order to be a happy couple that they so easily display in their commercials. I also believe that the couples that they choose are very stereotypical, in that they are always dressed the part of a middle-to-upper-middle class lifestyle; and then when you look at it from a socioeconomic standpoint the advertisers take out more than half of the American population. I think that what Kay Jewelers and so many other advertising campaigns do well is show the cookie cutter couple. When you have the cookie cutter couple, you take out interracial couples, poor couples, same sex couples and so much more. Although it is so easy to remember their little jingle, you have to ask yourself what end goal do they have in mind?
The Kay Jeweler’s advertisements our group found remind me of the White Privilege article by Peggy McIntosh. Towards the end of the article, she writes about heterosexual privilege. From all of the advertisements that our group found, none of them featured a homosexual couple. They all featured the stereotypical heterosexual couple. This creates a very biased view about romantic love and what it’s supposed to be. Advertisements are seen by millions of people, so only showing heterosexual couples establishes that as the norm. Everything else will be seen as abnormal. These advertisements can be particularly damaging to children who are still developing their own view of society. If we are trying to build toward a more accepting and diverse society, only showing heterosexual couples on these advertisements is doing everyone a disservice. Ending heterosexual privilege isn’t going to be an easy process, but by diversifying the types of couples featured in advertisements will help. If children begin seeing advertisements featuring homosexual couples, hopefully they will no longer see that as abnormal.
The images we see, the images built up and perpetuated by the media, help shape our perception of the world. These images can often work to disempower the lowest of the social strata, and can often have unintended consequences. Pauline, in The Bluest Eye, lapped up the fancy and happy world portrayed in movies. However, it worked to worsen her perception of her own life. Because she could not be “pretty” like Jean Harlow, who she imitated, and her family and marriage could not be the happy, relatively carefree life she admired, she gave up. She found it impossible to identify the beauty and positives in her life. Similarly, those who find themselves excluded in the media, or portrayed negatively, find it hard to accept themselves and their lives. Because mixed race or same sex couples are absent or often stigmatized, it promotes a lack of acceptance in society. Life becomes increasingly difficult for those breaking from “the norm.” More diverse and accepting images could help eliminate the narrow image of the “proper” and “normal” to better reflect reality. This would likely help broaden acceptance and alleviate some of the problems of self-hate plaguing society in this day and age.
I think it’s important that we look at this ad in a different way. When thinking specifically about wedding rings and the Kay commercials it is easy to forget that there are many forms of proposal across cultures and some cultures suggest that it’s a better idea to wait to kiss until after they’ve said their “I do’s” at the altar, or jump over the broom, or whatever other cultural norm they partake in at their wedding. In the piece “It’s Not an Oxymoron: The Search for an Arab Feminism” by Susan Muaddi Darraj, she makes a point of talking about the Arab rituals her and her husband went through in order to pay homage to the traditions her family practiced culturally. I think it’s important to remember that not all families, cultures, religions, sexualities will want to have a traditional Christian wedding that we’ve come to be so accustomed to in America. Even though I think it’s easy for Kay Jewelers to get their point across I think it’s important that as a jewelry company that they pay attention to the range in their demographic and how they will connect to their commercials. What kind of messages are they sending across cultures? Maybe not a good one.
Chelsea, Codie, Darshan, and Alex, Intro to Women’s Studies