Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pretty Business

By Brianna Savoca

Just this week, CNN revamped its webpage. Launched over the weekend, CNN updated the site to make it more user-friendly.

While many people critiqued the new design’s positives and negatives for the world’s leading news website, website users left mostly positive comments about the new design on the CNN blog, complimenting the new look.

While CNN claims user-friendliness is the reason behind the redesign, user-friendliness translates into something bigger. CNN wanted the website to look better. CNN wanted its site to have a makeover. CNN wanted its site to be pretty.

With all the user comments, CNN received compliments and reinforcement that society appreciates good looks. CNN, and any smart business, knows society participates in the politics of pretty.

If products look better, more people will buy them. If a product gets a makeover, more people will pay attention and take notice.The politics of pretty play out in the business world in similar forms to this all the time. With the recession, many brands redesigned logos, boxes, wrappers, and advertisements to make their products more appealing.

Hence, the politics of pretty are present every time you decide to go into a store, make a purchase, or put food in your grocery cart. Put simply, who picks a bruised, spotted, disfigured apple over a shiny, red, unbruised, perfectly symmetrical apple?

And the politics of pretty in business just translates into the politics of pretty in society. Many people pick friends, associates, and significant others based on looks. Thus, businesses are extremely smart using pretty as a tactic towards consumers. People gauge what is desirable and make purchases based on their cognitive analysis of what looks best.

If it looks better to you, you will probably want it and perhaps buy it. In the least, you will pay attention to it. It’s pretty business, a somewhat petty business, but it works. The politics of pretty of everywhere, even on or in your grocery cart.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Girls Gone Wild

Wearing Fur and Animal Prints Objectifies Women

By Brianna Savoca

Zebra, cheetah, leopard, and crocodile prints flood retail stores around the country.

Fall fashion shows full of fur and leather clad models project the trending style of wearing animal-esque clothing.

However, these trends subconsciously convey the message women wearing animal prints and furs are animalistic in nature and behavior, and therefore lack intelligence and culture.

Common patriarchal beliefs use biology to justify the reason why women are oftentimes viewed as the lesser sex. By using this naturalistic perspective, when compared to men, women are closer to nature whereas men are the cultured sex.

Since women menstruate, have babies, and breast-feed, these natural processes often barricade them from participating in cultural activities. Typical gendered roles mean the man works, gets educated, and participates in society, and the woman stays home, raises children, and feeds the family since the husband provides the resources for her to do so.

With this stigma already commonly ingrained in society, does wearing fur or animal print help feminists cause to fight typical gender roles if it subconsciously relates women to animals?

Society needs to recognize women, no matter what type of clothing they wear, as intelligent human beings with brains. Women are not simply bodies. Women are not just objects or animals to be used for sex.

Unfortunately many of the images in fashion magazines or models walking down a runway seem to perpetuate this barbaric notion of women being the other, or the reproductive sex to be used by men. Women in fur or animal print draws upon these ideas women are simply sex animals.

Many strong, smart, intelligent women who carry themselves confidently wear fur or animal print, and the trend probably will not disappear anytime soon. If you think the idea of women wearing fur or animal print is too extreme, tell me this: When's the last time you've seen a man wearing fur boxers or a zebra thong for his woman?

Pretty Sports

Photogenic Athletes Pushed into Publicity and Past Truly Talented Athletes

By Brianna Savoca

Almost midway into the NFL season where Sundays are spent sprawled on the coach watching my beloved Browns.

I can’t help but notice the vast amount of number 10 jerseys still flooding the crowd.

Brady Quinn, official Browns poster boy and heartthrob for Browns ladies (and perhaps even some male fans), gets more face time on the sideline than any other player in the NFL for basically standing there and looking pretty.

After multiple attempts at starting quarterback, Quinn failed to prove himself or even score a single touchdown on offense. It was not until game four when Derek Anderson started against the Bengals for the Browns to finally reach the end zone.

Yet more Quinn jerseys sit on the sidelines than Anderson or, in my opinion, the truly talented and most capable Browns player Joshua Cribbs.

Is it because of looks? Does the general public buy more posters of dreadlocked Cribbs or Brady Quinn? Quinn, who has been compared to a GQ model outsells every Browns player poster-wise by a landslide. Add up the number of Cribbs jerseys sold and compare that to the number of Quinn jerseys. Quinn certainly wins.Cribbs even played quarterback versus the Steelers, gaining yards on offense for the Browns on top of the yards he runs himself as wide receiver and on punt return. Cribbs played in multiple Pro Bowls, fairly consistently returns punts at least 20 to 30 yards if not all the way to the end zone.

Cribbs proves time and again his talent on the gridiron. Quinn just proves he can sell jerseys and get women to watch the Browns.

Brady Quinn, a lackluster quarterback who has not shown much talent since high school, outsells and outshines the talented, reliable, yard-earning Josh Cribbs. Once again, superficialness seems to win over substance and talent.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What Nationalities Are You?

White-Checking In American Culture
By Brianna Savoca

Tune in to the typical dating show on MTV, and there seems to be an abundant question blind daters ask each other- "What nationalities are you?"

To be specific, this question is usually asked by stereotypically White blind daters to mainly White or possibly multi-racial individuals.

Personally, I have been asked this question by every person I have been on a date with. I have always dated White men, so I have to wonder what sparked their curiosity regarding my race. Oftentimes, I am asked if I am Asian in ethnicity, so this question never surprises me. Still, I have to wonder why my ethnicity makes a difference.

While it may sound primal, were the men I have dated White-checking a potential mate? Do all races race-check potential mates?

My definition of White-checking would be the behavior of Whites filtering Whites from non-Whites through a physical, social, and intellectual categorizing process to determine who is White, and therefore acceptable to socially interact with.

According to Critical Race Theorists, Whites often display White-checking behavior unknowingly because being "White" is the dominant form of behavior in our society. As Critical Race Theorist Charles Mills says, Whites are ignorant and do not see their privilege. Therefore, Americans live in a society infiltrated by White supremacy, so unless something is blatantly non-White, we accept it as normal.

This theory is further reinstated by Ian F. Henry Lopez, another Critical Race Theorist. Lopez says, "White supremacy makes Whiteness the normative model. Being the norm allows Whites to ignore race, except when they perceive race as intruding on their lives."

Why might someone feel White-checking is important, without even realizing they are white checking?

Lopez says Whites realize the benefits of being White on a subconscious level, and Whites recognize the burdens of being Black or non-White. Therefore, on an animalistic and simple logical reasoning level, Whites would want their children to be White and receive the same benefits.

Is this the right mentality? Is the behavior of White-checking racist? Does anyone have examples of White-checking or race-checking in relationships?

While this may sound extremely barbaric, doesn't breeding White with Whites, Black with Blacks, etc. perpetuate the systems of dominance and oppression, as well as maintain White supremacy in our society? Would increased inter-breeding solve the problem?

Lopez and Mills both offer solutions to racism has a whole.

Mills believes Whites need to be aware and informed of the "Racial Contract" and the privileges they receive simply for being White and the oppressive repercussions of White privilege. After being fully informed, Whites can choose to decline White privilege or embrace it, thus perpetuating racism.

Lopez suggests dismantling Whiteness as a solution to racism. Lopez says if Whites must be cognizant of their daily actions and privilege, recognize the consequences of giving up their privileges, and then must embark on a daily process of choosing against Whiteness.

Is there a solution to racism? Perhaps one small step would be to end White-checking, and the perpetuation of White supremacy. Instead of worrying about the race of your significant other, maybe it would be better to focus on their personality, intelligence, and whether or not you can have a time-withstanding relationship without ending in a bitter divorce.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Coffee Talk

Making Connections or Breeding Insecurities?
By Brianna Savoca

Weekend mornings in the crisp, fall weather of the Midwest brews the perfect excuse for women to gather at local coffee shops. Sipping on lattes and espresso, women chatter about girlfriends, family, work, school, and men.

I participated in this ritual this morning, with a girlfriend in from out-of-town for Ohio University's Homecoming weekend.

As I waited in line for my pumpkin pie chai latte, I couldn't help but notice all the cliques of women gathered at tables in pairs, threesomes, and foursomes, in "Sex & the City"
fashion. Some women spoke animatedly, hashing out stories from the night before. Some women sat listening and engaged in the conversation. Some women had smiles, while many women had lines of worry etched across their faces.
This got me thinking. Do our conversations at coffee shops strengthen our bonds with girlfriends, or do they cause insecurities to flourish in the compare and contrast nature of our conversations?

My girlfriend and I pleasantly bantered about our current job situations, men, and girlfriends we had not spoken to in a while. Our conversation was full of updates and sharing news.

However, I could not help but notice the women next to us seemed to has a much different atmosphere at their table. Waiting for my girlfriend who went to get her coffee, I overheard some of their conversation.

One woman in particular seemed frustrated, crossing her arms and rolling her eyes as a poised woman spoke enthusiastically about her successful date. When the aggravated woman blurted out, "We know your life is perfect." The other woman reassured her that her luck would change and not to worry.

But people do worry. Saying not to worry almost encourages a person to worry more. Plus, the look on the woman's face clearly showed her worries were not eased by her friend's reassurance.

Here are my questions: Women watch shows like "Sex & the City," where girlfriends meet up for friendly conversations and update each other on their lives. However, do we benefit from these conversations? Or do we leave feeling more hopeless than before? Does it all depend on the day? Are some girlfriends better coffee-mates than others?

My coffee date left me feeling fulfilled and happy, since I got to meet up with my girlfriend who I had not seen in a while. Overall, I enjoy my coffee dates with my girlfriends.

I just hope they all leave not only feeling perked up by the caffeine, but also perked up by light-hearted conversation and our common bond as girlfriends.

Monday, October 12, 2009

More Beautiful You

Jonny Diaz Song Spreads Positive Message to Women & Girls
By Brianna Savoca

Finally, a refreshing song played on my radio today while driving around Athens, Ohio. With a catchy melody and positive lyrics, the chorus rang in my head over and over again, so I googled the song later at my apartment.

Jonny Diaz, the artist behind the song "More Beautiful You," sings about how no matter what beauty routine women think they need or how being with a man may make them feel complete, they are simply beautiful on their own. Straight from the lyrics, Diaz says, "There will never be a more beautiful you."

I've been playing this song all night. The lyrics really struck a chord with me, and the song has great potential to be an anthem for women everywhere.

I really have to let this song speak for itself. Click HERE for the music video on YouTube.

The lyrics are listed below:

More Beautiful You

Little girl fourteen flipping through a magazine

Says she wants to look that way

But her hair isn’t straight her body isn’t fake

And she’s always felt overweight

Well little girl fourteen

I wish that you could see

That beauty is within your heart

And you were made with such care

Your skin your body and your hair

Are perfect just the way they are

There could never be a more beautiful you

Don’t buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through

You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do

So there could never be a more beautiful you

Little girl twenty-one

The things that you’ve already done

Anything to get ahead

And you say you’ve got a man but he’s got another plan

Only wants what you will do instead

Well little girl twenty-one

You never thought that this would come

You starve yourself to play the part

But I can promise you there’s a man whose love is true

And he’ll treat you like the jewel you are

So turn around you’re not too far

To back away be who you are

To change your path go another way

It’s not too late you can be saved

If you feel depressed with past regrets

The shameful nights hope to forget

Can disappear they can all be washed away

By the one who’s strong can right your wrongs

Can rid your fears dry all your tears

And change the way you look at this big world

He will take your dark distorted view

And with His light He will show you truth

And again you’ll see through the eyes of a little girl

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Is "Love You Biotch" Really Love?

Terms of Endearment or Slinging Insults? The Double Meaning of Women-Hating Words.
By Brianna Savoca

**WARNING: Explicit content and offensive words are included in this post.**

Slut muffin. Whore. Hoe bag. Biotch. Are you offended yet? Should you be offended?

After watching "Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami," a reality television program on the E! network, my boyfriend's mom and I discussed the use of these typically women-hating words. For readers who are not familiar with this TV show, Kourtney and Khloe, two of the Kardashian sisters, often call one another "whore" or "biotch" on the show.

My boyfriend's mother said she hated the way two sisters called each other such degrading names. However, the Kardashians typically use whore or biotch as a term of endearment while engaging in casual and humorous dialogue on the show. Thus, the Kardashian sisters embrace these ordinarily derogatory terms. This is true for many television programs, movies, and even informal conversation between girlfriends.

Biotch seems to replace hun, sweetie, chick, or cutie in casual greetings and good-byes. One example I overhear constantly on campus is, "See you later, biotch!"

Still, today's conversation made me wonder- What should our societal protocol be when it comes to the usage of these words?

When it comes to casual, conversational use of slut, hoe, whore, etc. are we further perpetuating the negative connotations of these words? Or are we embracing them, thus reversing the normal harmful repercussions of women-hating words?

A certain shock value accompanies these words. However, some of the shock
may come from societal interpretations of the words based on standard norms.

For example, "bitch" carries a certain amount of shock value. The definition of bitch is a lewd woman, a woman considered to be spiteful or overbearing, or a weak man. On the contrary, a bitch usually is a powerful woman. Most men feel threatened by a powerful woman, so bitch has become a negatory insult and patriarchal slur towards women.

Therefore, using bitch as a term of endearment or in a positive, casual manner, lessens these harsh, negative connotations of the word. One could argue using "bitch" in a positive tone amongst girlfriends actually empowers women. However, calling a women a "bitch" in a negative light simply perpetuates the derogatory associations of the word.

Should feminists of the world embrace these terms? Let's try it.

All you wonderful hoe bag, bitches, slut muffins, and whores can do anything you put mind to. Fight patriarchy, and embrace your femininity. Be a bitch, and be proud of it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Think You've Got All the MANswers?

Spike TV Show Perpetuates Sexism & the Objectification of Women
By Brianna Savoca

Presented in a scientific format, with supposedly credible research backing up the findings, the Spike Network TV show "MANswers" reveals the truth to life's, and therefore men's, most important questions.

Slightly intrigued and curious about what subject matter men care most about, I watched the show.

To my dismay, but not surprisingly, I saw women in lingerie and padded bras with oversized breasts pushed up to their chins, rolling around in a bed together. Visual imagery known to intrigue men and get their eyes glued to the set. Spike probably could not have put these women into more objectified positions if they tried, but the sexism gets even better.

Then the announcer asked, "Are women with fake boobs hornier than women with real boobs?"

After performing background research, "MANswers" figured out this answer. Click HERE for the video. And every man wants to know the answer to this one, according to the show.


The MANswer is: Women with fake boobs are hornier.

Why? According to "MANswers" research, surveys revealed women with fake boobs have sex more often post-surgery than women without fake boobs.

"MANswers" closed this highly informative piece with this conclusion: Get your woman a boob job. Then you can have more sex and enjoy her bigger, fake boobs.

Nice message. Looks like you've got all the answers, "MANswers."

At least Spike TV is the perfect example of sexism, misogyny, and patriarchy in America.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lie To Me*

New FOX Show Touches on the Reality of Racism in the Judicial System
By Brianna Savoca

The second episode of FOX's new show "Lie To Me*" aired tonight and focused on many controversial topics, including rape and racism.

The plot: The star football player hooks up with a pretty blonde at an post-game celebration party. The next morning, police arrest the football player for statutory rape, as the girl was only 16 years old.

One of the women on the defense team, Zoe Lightman, recognizes the charges for the black football player seem extreme. She feels race is a factor in the harsher punishment, and says a white football player would not be facing the same charges. Zoe knows the football player's future will be destroyed by this crime. She calls in Dr. Lightman, the "lie expert," to help lessen the charges.

During the interview, the football player says the girl claimed she was in economic classes and other college courses. Later, Dr. Lightman learns the girl went to the same high school as his daughter. He goes home, questions his daughter about fraternity parties, searches her belongings and finds fake IDs and birth control.

Dr. Lightman grapples with his discovery. His 16-year-old daughter could potentially be having sex and attending college frat parties. Zoe defends the use of birth control, sighting the consequences for a woman not on the pill. Still, Dr. Lightman must interview and fairly assess the football player's honesty without any prejudice or personal interest.

This poses a couple interesting questions:

-Do parents have right to prohibit their underage daughters from taking birth control?

-Would our justice system charge a black man with a harsher punishment than a white man for sleeping with an underage girl?

-Regardless of the "legal" age, does a 16-year-old have the knowledge, sense, and maturity to consent to have sex?