#HumanRightsSelfie

Article 2

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

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I feel I defy a gender stereotype by being a woman and open about my mental illness and learning disabilities. I suffer from OCD, GAD, Dyscalculia, and BPD. There are a lot of expectations on women; we are expected to do a LOT of work on a daily basis, from domestic activities to making ourselves look more presentable. This work is socially brushed off as easy because it’s considered “women’s work”. For me, all of that on top of my job and school. And we’re expected to do all this, and SMILE. But most of the time, I don’t feel like smiling. This picture sums up two things for me: One, this is how my head often feels; like a blur. My thoughts are mushed and racing, my reactions severe. The other thing it encapsulates for me is a lack of identity and the confusion I feel over how I should be presenting myself to the world. Mental illness makes it hard for me to do so many basic things a lot of people take for granted; showering, for example. I’m expected to leave the house in things other than sweatpants with make up on my face (depending on who you ask, the make up should be either natural-looking [a lot of people don’t realize that “the natural look” doesn’t mean a completely clean face] or obvious, but it’s pretty much agreed it should be there) and be generally agreeable. Mental illness is an “icky” topic that makes neurotypical people uncomfortable, unless it’s a male author writing about it. Then it’s “edgy” or “deep”. That’s not to say that mentally ill men are accepted universally, just that in my personal experience I’ve had men be more accurately diagnosed or helped before me. 

Have you or  a loved one experienced a lack of equity because they or you didn’t fit in with neurotypical society? How did you make yourself heard?

You can participate too!

  1. Take a picture you feel encapsulates either how you feel internally or how you are perceived externally.
  2. Upload the picture to social media
  3. Invite your friends to respond and share their own #HumanRightsSelfie!
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Cartoons and Diversity

It’s More Important Than You Think

tumblr_nl4efdy0JW1u1e188o1_5001from Steven Universe, created by Rebecca Sugar

I have been taking care of children for over a decade. Over the years, I’ve watched families of all kinds; single parents, rich parents, poor parents, parents who don’t allow television, parents who do; but the one thing I’ve noticed is, no matter what, the children are absorbent. Be it something we read, or something I say, the kids pick up on a lot more than you might think.

       How many of us fit the American ideal? How many of our families fit the 100% white, heterosexual, cis gender, able-bodied and -minded, middle class nuclear family? 

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Via Lee and Low Books

      Think back to your childhood.
Maybe you were mainly into reading, and spent hours picking out books at stores or libraries. Maybe your babysitter was the television, where you met hundreds of characters and personalities through your screen. Maybe you played board games or went to the movies on weekends.

Who do you remember? Junie B Jones, the spunky 6th grader? The Hardy Boys, always looking for a new mystery to solve? Dexter and his annoying sister, DeeDee? What’s one thing most media we consumed have in common?

Race

       Well, the first thing I notice is how white most of it is. Growing up, the only racially diverse shows I can remember are That’s So Raven and the Proud Family. And the books I was into; Nancy Drew, Harry Potter, or any of the other dozens of series I spent hours reading, while they often had a strong female presence, they very rarely had any racial diversity. And I don’t think this has anything to do with my parents choices, necessarily, but more with the fact that diverse books were just very hard to come by.

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Infographic by Tina Kugler

Here we see an infographic detailing race representation for children’s books in 2012. I thought it illustrated the disparity pretty well (even though I’m not a fan of the use of the word caucasian).books

What happens when children don’t see themselves represented? According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, as of 2014, “37% of the US population are people of color, but only 10% of children’s books in the last 21 years contain multicultural content“.

And so much of what currently exists is based on stereotypes. I can’t even begin how much of the media I consumed as a child relied on the tired stereotypes of the super smart, desexualized Asian man, the docile Asian woman, the basketball star black man, the loud and crass black woman.

5mostdiverse       Are there people who fit these descriptors? Sure, but it’s important to remember that people are more than a few key words, and not every one who happens to share similar lineage acts the same. And this is where we hit the issue of positive representation verses the danger of hyper-visibility. So a show has a main character that’s a black man- but his “thing” is hot wiring cars, and there’s not much character development past that. Is the cast of the show “diverse”? Certainly. Are the ideas behind the character healthy? Hardly.

How are black boys supposed to feel about themselves when the representation they find tells them that they’re destined to either make it as a basketball star or fail and become a drug dealer? 

       And this is why media is so important. 

Gender 

What we consume controls how we view the world around us. Take this clip from the book, I’m Glad I’m A Boy! I’m Glad I’m A Girl! published in 1970:sexist-childrens-book       Now, that was 1970. In 1970, my mother was 6. This was a very popular book when it came out! So that means that at least as recent as my mother’s generation was indoctrinated in a very blunt way with these very rigid gender roles. But I often find these baseless rules are usually conveyed in a more insidious manner.

Take this quote from Lino Di Salvo, the head animator on the enormously popular movie, Frozen:

“Historically speaking, animating female characters is really, really difficult, because they have to go through this range of emotions, but they’re very, very — you have to keep them pretty… So, having a film with two hero female characters was really tough.” 

I think this quote says a lot more about the industry in general than it does about Di Salvo’s personal views. But this is how we see such a lack of representation. The belief that women have to be pretty at all times, whether they’re frolicking through flowers or having an emotional breakdown.artists.jpg

 

The creator of Steven Universe, Rebecca Sugar, is the first woman to independently create a series on Cartoon Network. This in itself is a really big step forward. She’s quoted as saying,

“My goal with the show was to really tear down and play with the semiotics of gender in cartoons for children because I think that’s a really absurd idea that there would be something radically different about a show for little girls versus a show for little boys.”

And she’s accomplished that. Steven Universe is a young boy, being raised by his mother’s three best friends and father. As a show it contains non-binary women, lesbian relationships, people of color, and a family that is far from the nuclear set up we see so often. It’s beautifully made, featuring catchy songs and quirky characters.

What Can We Do?

We see some examples of diversity in television and books, but when you compare it to the thousands that have been made, it’s not enough. So what can we do to change things?

       The first example of someone taking action is Marley Dias; an eleven-year-old black girl who was tired of never seeing herself in the books she read. She started what became a movement to try to find 1,000 books about black girls, #1000blackgirlbooks. It went viral and she went above and beyond her goal, 4,000 and counting.

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photo by Andrea Cipriani Mecchi

       There’s also a campaign called We Need Diverse Books, started by Ellen Oh, that helps promote books that contain diversity from all over the spectrum of the human experience. They have a huge hashtag following and reading challenges that inspire readers to find more books with diverse authors and/or casts.

       These are all about books. I have yet to see a campaign or organization dedicated to encouraging diversity in television and movies, but don’t let that discourage you! The best thing we can do is both participate in things like We Need Diverse Books, as well as taking action ourselves to tell networks and production companies what we want to see: ourselves, and those we love. 

Sources:

First Post!

I’m excited to get started with this class. The world is saturated with media, and I often find myself going into system overload. I am hoping with this class to learn about the evolution of media and maybe some tools on  how to navigate it. I find the ways we communicate with each other and the world around us fascinating, and that’s what media is all about!
I’ve always been interested in photography, and I’ve never really thought about the impact it’s had on communication and social progress (or a lack thereof). It manages to be a very personal thing for me while also connecting me to other people; I’ve often felt awkward at parties and it gives me something to do! It will be interesting to read other people’s takes on it, and learn more about its evolution into what it is now.