Female Gamers

Video games have been a big part of growing up for a lot of people ever since games have come out for commercial use from the 70’s and 80’s. A lot of those people though are males.  You may not see a lot of females in the gaming era because they are yet to be really noticed and are slowly being recognized. Like many females today we are harassed, sexualized, demeaned and overcoming the male spectrum. Woman are just as capable at gaming as men as they are with everything else men can do but not all of us are given that chance.

According to the Washington Post men under the age of 18 are 17% of the gaming community while women over the age of 18 are 36% of the gaming community. This study was done by a gaming advocacy group Entertainment Software Association. The number of female gamers age 50 and older increased by 32% from 2012 to 2013.

Many of us who have been playing video games for a long while can say that most women are portrayed as the damsel in distress or over sexualized goddess like warrior/super hero. Games like Zelda, Super Smash bros, Mortal Kombat and some characters in the RPG game Skyrim are a good example of these. In many of the Zelda games, Link, the hero is sent on missions to save his land and also save the princess Zelda, this also goes for the Mario games with princess Peach. As for Mortal Kombat, the women are very over sexualized by wearing bikinis with huge chests and tiny wastes. In Skyrim the females are portrayed as house wives or sexy warriors. I believe because of these games women aren’t looked at as equal when it comes to playing the games with other people.

As games have started changing and adding more female roles (females as the protagonist) more female gamers have started coming to light. One game in particular would be The Walking Dead by telltale games. It starts out with a male main character but soon changes to the younger girl’s point of view. These types of games are not only for men but for women too, or at least that’s the image they are trying to put out there. With games like these it definitely gets more females involved especially the women that like gore. If you were to look on YouTube or type in the search “gamer girls” or “female gamers” you will see a lot of females pop up. Some are videos of girls being scared or being bad asses.

Because games are trying to get more women involved, more women start playing. The game Grand Theft Auto V has a new feature, online gaming, with this new online gaming anyone can play. Meaning they have both genders for your choice and any race you want, the same goes for Call of Duty Ghosts. Video games like this are where women get harassed the most. On a web site called VG24/7 there was a survey conducted by Emily Matthew and she found out that women are harassed four times more than men while playing video games. I for one am one of those females. No matter what game I play I’d rather be male and not use my microphone so no one knows I’m female. I do love games that have female characters or have more female options, but that is just setting us up for tons of harassment.


Overall I feel society as a whole views women as lesser individuals when it comes to the gaming community. Whether it be being made fun of for strategizing and problem solving, or being constantly harassed by other fellow male gamers. Women have branched out and become more prominent in the gaming world. More game developers have incorporated females and female protagonists to get more women involved but with the online community and harassment we female gamers will still be scared to fully come to light.


Work cited.

Washington Post

 Harwell, Drew. “More women play video games than boys, and other surprising facts lost in the mess of Gamergate” the Washington post N.p 17 October 2014 Web. 06 march 2015



Nunneley , Stephany.  “Study – 63% of women polled report being harassed while gaming online” VG24/7 N.p 8 September 2012 Web. 06 march 2015


Representations of Male Educators in Popular Culture

The amount of screens and images our society now process on a daily basis is mind blowing.  I feel as though I am one of the last of the millennial generation without a smartphone; no twitter, instagram, facetime, tinder, pinterest, I even use paper maps.  Despite this Luddite app-less world so many people seem convinced I live in, I am still absolutely saturated in screens, media and popular culture.   This Mirror Essay has presented me an opportunity to reflect on popular culture and how it influences and portrays the kind of person I imagine myself to be.  We are all many things to many people, but for the sake of clarity, I will be investigating the role of my profession, a male educator, and it’s depiction through three films Bad Teacher, Dead Poets Society, and The Great Debaters as well as a recent Times article focusing on “Bad Apple Teachers”.  These pieces of media will paint a complex portrait of an essential profession, a dichotomy between the sternness of old school disciplinarians and the out of the box thinking, imagination and warmth associated with more progressive educators as well as portrayed laziness and the thanklessness of the position which are both portrayals of educators represented in popular culture.

Bad Teacher is a 2011 Comedy film starring Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Lucy Punch, John Michael Higgins, Phyllis Smith and Jason Segal.  It was directed by Jake Kasdan and written by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky.  Intended for a wide adult audience and made as a commercial venture, the creators’ portrayals of educators aren’t found within the lead actress but in the supporting cast of teachers.  They are shown as being over emotion airheads, ignorant to sarcasm and manipulation.  Some might view this media as a reason to hold grudges against teachers for their perceived laziness.  Much is made about having 3 months off and the ability for a teacher to turn on a movie every day and nurse a hangover.  The movie at first made me laugh because the main character was so ridiculous I couldn’t feel personally offended in any way; it was a dumb gag comedy that happened to be about a teacher.  The other teachers in the film who were supposed to be regular teachers, however, seemed very thick and about half way through the film I was personally offended by the lack of a portrayal of a normal, decent, flawed but passionate teacher in this film. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oobnef8Xa4k This movie was clearly written by Hollywood to make as much money as possible with little thought given to the social ramifications of their depictions of educators.  This influences the content by depriving it of any emotional gravity, focusing instead on jokes and gags that would look good in a movie trailer.  It’s hard to explain that I liked this movie fine but I think the only people who come out of it in a positive light are the children.  Everyone else seems pretty crappy- except maybe the gym teacher Russel, who is easily the most relatable character.  Although he remains grounded from the ridiculous cheeriness and stupidity “good” teachers seem to have (his sarcasm with teachers displaying strangely misplaced enthusiasm is a constant in the film) he is shown as being genuinely engaged with his students when he is having a yelling debate with a sixth grade boy about whether Lebron James is a better basketball player than Michael Jordan was in his prime. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7q6gHW9fo0 That being said the film does not ever show him in his classroom or have him discuss any passion for his profession, when asked he shakes off the question (while smoking weed during a school dance).

Dead Poets Society is a 1998 film directed by Peter Weir, starring Robin Williams and written by Tom Schulman.  Released in theaters across America and in various countries around the world it was produced to entertain and make money as well as for artistic merit.  The beliefs the creators of this movie hold are that Poetry, art, education and self-exploration are a vital part of coming of age. Some might be bored by the subject matter and at times slow storyline but this film was very inspirational to me and motivated and affirmed the life I have chosen.  The main teacher Mr. Keating and his students are shown in a positive light while the school’s administration and adults who do not challenge the notion of conformity are painted negatively.  I believe that the main reason that the parents and administration need to be shown so negatively in this film is so that the positive impact of a great teacher, individuality, art and poetry can be shown as such positive things, this exemplified by a student’s suicide when his father forces him into military school after he finds his son has been spending time acting.  Mr. Keating’s passion and prowess as an educator awoke the students passion but his influence, for the sake of drama is met with a shadow in the form of the boy’s father.  The film utilizes music and dramatic lighting to make its points stronger throughout the film.  I think that the genre expectations of this film as an Oscar seeking Hollywood film are what you would expect- fine acting performances and an intense but uplifting film.  The fact that Keating’s out of the box approach to education- while being very effective, is clearly at odds to the other teachers and the administration is very surprising for such a prestigious school in which the film is set.  Also, it must be noted, the entire film exists in the world of rich straight white males almost exclusively.  These issues can partially be addressed by the film’s time period.  Due to the dress at parties as well as the music played by the boys’ homemade radio we can assume the movie takes place sometime in the fifties.  This would explain why such a prestigious school would not take in minorities or women.  Placing the film in a time before the beatniks had gained appreciation and the countercultural movements associated with Vietnam had taken place may explain why Keating’s values of original thinking and perspective were not held among higher values in education.  That being said, art existed before Woodstock and Keating’s complete lack of support by any adult in the film is very surprising if one takes the film as a slice of life set against a New England private school in the fifties.  It makes sense dramatically, however, as it highlights the traits of Mr. Keating which the filmmakers are proponents of.

The Great Debaters is 2007 Drama film directed by Denzel Washington and written by Jeffery Porro and Robert Eisele.  The film stars Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker.  It, like Dead Poets Society is marketed to a very broad audience and was created to make money and for artistic merit.  The main assumption and belief the creators of The Great Debaters hold is that racism is wrong and education and intelligence is the way to overcome it. Like Poets some might interpret this movie as slow, boring or melodramatic but those emotionally invested will surely be affected emotionally in the way the creators intended.  This movie was also motivational from a teaching perspective but also very horrifying in its depiction of racial violence and segregation.  The commercial purpose of this film is to make money for the studios who produced it and the artists involved.  It influences the violence implied versus the violence actually shown, the language used in the film and the films length.  Racism is clearly shown in a Negative light in this movie as the film focuses on people marginalized by its existence.  Education and intelligence is shown as an essential, noble trait, as a way to break down barriers of hate and as a path to understanding and tolerance among blacks and whites.  These things are at the heart of the movie not only because they serve the story but because they are nearly universally considered to be moral and true.  I thought that this movie was very interesting because of Tolson’s political and social double life.  This film is different than the others I’ve compared because it deals with a very right or wrong moral issue about race.  Tolson’s hard nosed demeanor and double life create an extremely complex character with a lot of drive and dedication to see justice in the world.  He is scholar during the day but at night attends rowdy parties and meetings amongst the lower class sharecroppers in order to spread his ideals to the masses.  This makes him different from many teachers in that he quite openly has an agenda and pressing that on his students is his main goal- as opposed to many teachers whose philosophies revolve more around their students self discovery.

Looking over these sources it seems that passion and compassion are the linking bonds in what these medias use to describe a good teacher.  Tolson and Keating are both great educators, their style, though, couldn’t be more different.  While Keating is warm and out of the box Tolson is an old school disciplinarian who yells at students, presses his own views upon them and is generally no-nonsense.  They both care deeply about their students and have a passion for education and the subjects they teach.  This is undisputably their linking bond.  The characters in Bad Teacher, however, do not provide a mirror into a wonderful and inspiring teacher like the other two films but reflect modern and underthought stereotypes of educators.  Deeply fleshed out characters are not a staple of the type of comedy Bad Teacher aims to be but the insulting way that teachers are depicted: overly emotional, ignorant of sarcasm and decidedly unhip or lazy, manipulative, and alcoholic cannot be ignored when watched by anyone who is a teacher or cares about one.   These dichotomies presented in the sources produce a lot of different feelings, the teachers are either superheroes or seemingly the last people you would want working with your children.  While I found it very inspirational reflecting on Tolson and Keatings portrayals I still found myself uneasy with the lack of a flawed, human portrayal of a male teacher who is still motivated by passion and compassion.


Works Cited

Bad Teacher. Columbia Picture, 2011. DVD



Dead Poets Society. Dir. Peter Weir. Touchstone, 1989. DVD.



The Great Debaters. Dir. Denzel Washington. Harpo Productions, 2007. DVD.


Tad Johnson

Mirror Essay



There is a belief that I have encountered in society that indirectly states that a person, regardless of gender, should be settled down or at least trying to do so around their late twenties to early thirties. When a person chooses to wait longer than this, it is often declared that he or she is not complying with this unwritten rule for some mysterious reason. Maybe it is said that the individual is in denial of their age. Or maybe it is even worse, they truly cannot find a partner to settle down with and are extremely ashamed of this. I believe there is another, much more positive, alternative to this. In my case, I proudly remain single for the simple fact that I am not ready for settling down, nor do I think it fits my personality. It is very possible that a person can wait as long as they wish to settle down for the simple reason that they enjoy being single and are in no hurry to make an impulsive decision.

I am a thirty five year old heterosexual male who loves every bit of my single life and am sometimes offended by social media’s various takes on the “single older guy”, as well as some occasional statements from my family members. Family members who touch on this subject are usually searching for the, “when are you having kids?” question. For the most part I am not affected by comments that seem to expect a response pertaining to the matter of having children. However, there have been moments where the conversation of starting a family comes up and I become a bit saddened that I can’t “deliver” anytime soon. Generally, my sentiment towards the idea sorts the conversation out through various body language expressions that exemplify the confidence in my life choices thus far. I am very confident this is currently the right lifestyle for me and am just trying to live my life as well as I can.

In a 2003 movie by Director Todd Phillips titled “Old School”, a group of thirty plus year old males start a fraternity near a college campus. They are reliving their “younger days” and are supporting a stereotype that exists in society where most single older men in their 30’s are viewed as big irresponsible kids. In this movie not all of the men are single like myself, but I often get compared to these characters as if I party all of the time and live “the dream.” This insinuation is aimed at me not caring all that much about responsibility and just floating through life without a problem. Unfortunately I do not have time for such an extravagant freeloading type of lifestyle. For over eleven years now I have worked on the railroad while focusing on securing my future as best I can. Responsibility is something that I pride myself on, and my career as well as my financial decisions are very much so dependent on that very thing.

I have found that because I am a single 35 year old male who has made a few good choices, one of which was starting a career, that my responsible decisions have awarded me to take the “next step” and settle down. Apparently I am now ready to find a wife and start a family. Many times a year I am asked when I am going to “join the club.” I realize this is not everyone’s view but it certainly is a common view in my experience. In these conversations, I generally respond with, “I only want to get married once so I am taking my time” or “I didn’t know it was a mandatory thing to settle down!” Speaking of “settling down”, this term gets misused all too much. If I decide to always remain single, then my retirement will be one of many versions of “settling down.”  This term is aimed at the idea of a person becoming more accountable with his or her finances and for the most part, using everything that has been learned so far in his or her life, while applying it towards a predictable more simplified lifestyle. That sounds like a great mindset for someone who is starting a family for obvious reasons, however, it also sounds like an intelligent decision for anyone on the entire planet who has learned through trial and error that life can be tough so you’d better think ahead and prepare for hard times. I will definitely “settle down” one day but there is no certainty of which kind of “settling down” I will have.

A good friend of mine not too long ago said to me, “hey Tad! your like that Dupree guy from that movie!” My friend was referring to a movie starring actor Owen Wilson titled “You Me, and Dupree”, directed by Joe and Anthony Russo. In this romantic comedy there is a buddy from the past named Dupree who randomly shows up and crashes on his friends couches, because he has accomplished little in his life, and basically couch surfs and chases women around. It is because of these social media perspectives that I fall into a stereotype that offends me from time to time. I am often excluded from social functions because I am single and am thought to be doing “single guy stuff”, whatever that means. I am comfortable enough to where I have no urge to seek a partner and feel that anyone who rushes such a thing may fall into an unhappy situation such as the character “Ed Bundy” who plays an unhappy husband that works as a shoe salesmen on the hit TV show “Married with Children.”

This show ended in 1997 and was certainly a very extreme example of an unsuccessful marriage, even though it had it’s good moments. In my opinion, the over all the message was, “oh well I guess i’ll just go along with the role of society and make fun of my wife all of the time while I complain about everything else.” Although, there is also a message in this television series that supports my point on the single lifestyle, and that is to be patient and happy with yourself first and foremost. That way, if and when you do meet someone, it will be a better situation. I choose to be single for many reasons but one may very well be that due to my parents both having been married multiple times, as well as many unhappy marriages I have witnessed, I wish to “season” myself as long as I can so that I can be a better man for my friends, family and possibly a partner for when ever that time comes. I will enjoy my life on this planet and continue to explore the world through single eyes for now.  It just makes sense for me.

Works Cited:

IMDB; “Old School”, 2003, Directed by Todd Phillips

IMDB; “You, Me and Dupree”, 2006, Directed by Joe Russo and Antony Russo

IMDB; “Married with Children”, 1987-1997, Created by Ron Leavitt and Michael G. Moye

Artifacts: (movies)

“Old School”

“You, Me and Dupree”

“Married with Children”


International Movie Database (IMDB) for all three artifacts.

3,586 words

Moms Of Special Needs Kids & The Media

Andrea Kempel

Moms Of Special Needs Kids & The Media

In 2007 I was pregnant with my second child and stereotypically doing what many others like me did: Watch Oprah Winfrey’s show titled “Mothers Battle Autism” while my first born napped. A happy and determined Jenny McCarthy was the special guest, there to promote her latest book: “Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey In Healing Autism”.  As a mom, I was there to listen, and so were thousands across the nation. Every sense in my body was tuned in as I heard vaccines were the cause of her child’s autism, and I carefully listened to every detail of dietary changes and extreme detox measurements designed to “cure” her child. In the end he was cured and I was now worried about vaccines and autism. But I was also impressed. Life had dealt Jenny a difficult hand, and she had figured it all out without anyone’s help; not even doctor’s –the hell with them and all their research-. According to what the media was showing me, this woman was a super model, a business owner, a writer, an actress, a mother of a special needs child. She was super-mom.

As life has it the reality of special needs parenting would eventually reveal itself to me. Fast forward eight years and a degenerative eye disease diagnosis on both of my sons, and my job as a special needs mom proved to be better when surrounded by support. Us moms of special needs kids are not super-mom, and we do need help.

I recently saw a video featuring 2012 Mrs. World April Lufriu being interviewed by anchor Cindy Edwards on the Daytime show. The interview appears to be about the Mrs. World pageant, but Mrs. Lufriu gracefully turns the subject to her kids and spends much of the interview speaking about the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB). Her children, like mine, have a degenerative eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. When told that pageants get a bad rep Mrs. Lufriu asserts wanting to change those views:  “I’m just a mom fighting a battle against time, and I just want to portray that more than anything else. I’m not just a beauty queen. I’m here on a mission”. The interviewer also comments on her busy schedule, travels, children, husband and business, intentionally showing her almost in a non human way, yet as Mrs. Lufriu openly admits, behind the pageant smoke screen is a mother advocating and asking for help. A vulnerable Mrs. Lufriu, who like myself is full of worry and full of hope knowing the only possibility of medical research moving forward and finding a cure relies on the monetary donations people make to the FFB.
 NBC’s popular TV show Parenthood features Kristina Braverman (Monica Potter) as one of the main characters and her Max (Max Burkholder) who has Aspergers Syndrome, a form of Autism. The show features Max and the family’s joys and struggles as a result of Max’s disability. Many of their episodes show Kristina as a mom in a very real way. In one episode, for example, she is shown attending an Asperger’s parents support group and viewers are exposed to some of the tension and sadness that erupts as Kristina hears the stories of other parents as they relate to her own. But the show isn’t always true to the average family condition; NBC’s website describes Kristina’s character as a mother raising “Three children (including one toddler, one pre-teen with autism and a college student), while fighting and winning an emotional battle with breast cancer, and running for mayor”. The description doesn’t even mention that Kristina also opened her own charter school in order to provide a better and more inclusive education for Max.
I recently stumbled upon a particularly insightful blog post featured in the Huffington Post titled “7 Things You Don’t Know About A Special Needs Parent” written by M. Lin (A  writer, journalist and mother of a special needs child). One one of her main points, “I am human”, tells us about the joys and challenges of raising a child with a special needs while reminding readers that we are more similar to all other moms than we are different. We too feel tired. We have good and bad days, and days when our kids drive us crazy and we need a break. We have our own hopes and our lives. We’re just human.
The media has greatly redeemed itself since that 2007 Jenny McCarthy interview and consistently shown us that vaccines don’t cause autism after all, but much remains unsaid about mothers of special needs children. Many want you to know that autistic children are not broken and therefore don’t need to be fixed. Most of us wish people would stop telling us “God only gives special needs kids to special parents”, as if all other mothers in the world would drop on the floor and never get back up if they found out their child was different. I am a mom, a student, a wife and an educator. I advocate for my children fiercely and love them entirely and unconditionally for who they are and have confidence in their abilities. I have been challenged beyond any stretch of my imagination, but I feel lucky be my children’s mom. My role as a mom of special needs children has taught me that disability is a normal part of society. The people in our society and our children benefit from the contributions you make to our walks, from having an inclusive community, from being supported, and from kindness and its felts results. As Helen Keller once said: “Alone we can do so little; Together we can do so much”.
Works Cited
“Mothers Battle Autism.” Oprah.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2014
“April Lufriu- Mrs. World Shuns Fame for Her Family.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2014.
Monica Potter | About | Parenthood | NBC.” NBC. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2014.
Drumming, Neil. “Parenthood” and the Charter School Dream.” Saloncom RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2014.
Lin, M. “7 Things You Don’t Know About A Special Needs Parent.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 09 Mar. 2012. Web. 02 Dec. 2014.

Male Feminists in Popular Culture

Male Feminists in Popular Culture

I should start by saying that I consider myself a feminist. I should also say that I do not use this term lightly. It is important to state that the feminism that I prescribe to has been built by women who have come before, without whom we would not have feminist portrayals at all. More and more in recent years there has been an upward trend of men identifying as feminists, but with new trends comes opposition. The portrayal of the male feminist within popular culture has been an interesting one because there seems to be two main characterizations that come from two disparate camps. One side is represented by non-feminist men, who portray men who do identify as feminists as somehow not masculine. The other side is represented by feminist idenitified women who feel that male feminists are merely attempting to gain the attention of women or who are trying to take on the identity of the oppressed without having ever experienced it first hand. Both portrayals take away from those men who truly do identify as feminists, not because they have ulterior motives but because it is the right thing to do.

The first characterization of male feminists comes from men who vehemently oppose identifying as such. I have found that many men turn away from being labeled feminist for two key reasons. First, they feel that the term itself is stigmatized. Some men feel that feminism is synonymous with “man-hating” or “female-supremacy,” and so they spurn the title. Second, there is a general idea that feminism is also synonymous with femininity. To some, if a man identifies as a feminist, he is stripped of his masculine because he is seen as taking on what they feel is a feminine role. I found a great example of these portrayals in a clip from the show “Fox and Friends” in which they discussed the “wussification of men” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YG7KTMyOnw). The hosts were discussing with guest Nick Adams how they perceive a lessening of classic gender roles and stereotypes within today’s society, and that they see this as weakening society as a whole. They felt that “men should be men” and that America is in danger of falling into this neutral territory in which genders blurred together. They then related this to feminism by confidently stating that feminism produces “angry women and feminine men,” and that this somehow denies men of being masculine (Nick Adams, Fox News). They believe that feminism is weakening the security of our nation, and compromising this American image of manliness and masculinity. The most astounding part of the clip comes when the guest is quoted as saying “wimps and wussies deliver mediocrity, and men win.” What the people in this clip fail to realize is that the entire world does not prescribe to the gender roles that America does, so if we are not coming off “masculine” enough for them, not every country would view this as weaker or lesser. The other thing that took issue with was the calling of men “wussies” because they are participating in feminism. I find the use of the word “wussy” and “wimp” quite juvenile, and also offensive to women because they are saying that men doing things they feel are prescribed to women makes them “wussies,” and therefore lesser, concluding that women are lesser then men.

Another example that I found of male feminists being looked upon as less masculine than their non-feminist male counterparts was an interview Joe Rogan did on his radio talk show (http://youtu.be/wK9GnWVWolo?t=2m56s). In the clip, Rogan states that men who claim to be feminists do so just to appear “different” (Joe Rogan Experience #533). He goes on to say that, to him, men who identify as feminists are never “savages… studly, or good looking,” but rather they are not manly or attractive and are “socially retarded” (Joe Rogan Experience #533). According to him, men who support feminism are doing so to appear super sensitive and are living “life in misery” (Joe Rogan Experience #533). Rogan is generalizing the male feminist community, saying that manly, good looking men don’t support feminism, but feminine socially awkward men do because that is the only way that they are able to relate to women. Both of these examples support the idea that femininity is inherently negative or is lesser then masculinity, which is not only harmful to male feminists, but I argue harms non-feminist males because it further serves to strengthen traditional gender roles.

While one side of the media portrays male feminists as less masculine, some female feminists are skeptical of the intentions in which men profess their feminism. There are some who believe that men cannot inherently be feminists because they live outside of the experiences of being a female. Others believe that men can be a part of the movement, but that there are some inherent issues that come up that should be actively addressed. An article entitle “So You Want to Be a Male Feminist? Maybe Don’t” by Kat Stoeffel goes into a few of these issues (http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/10/you-want-to-be-a-male-feminist-maybe-dont.html). She begins by identifying two groups of men that she has come into contact with. One are men who support gender equality and defend women’s rights, but “would sooner die” than be labeled a feminist. The second group are men who freely label themselves feminists to try and “shore up their sensitive-dude bona fides” (Stoeffel). She then goes on to say that one of the bigger issues she has experienced with men practicing feminism is some of their volatile responses when women criticize or comment on their actions. Stoeffel states that to “act defensive in the face of criticism from the women you purport to serve.. undermines your shaky right to be there in the first place.” The most crucial part of her article, though, came when she stated that “the fact is that even though you know better, and are truly a male feminist, you’re still stuck being the bad guy. You can’t opt out of the privileges you inherited at birth” (Stoeffel). She asserts that male feminists, though some might truly have the right intentions, need to remember that they are just allies and cannot experience the same oppression that women experience because they inherently have privileges that women do not.

On the topic of intention, Katie Heaney wrote an article on BuzzFeed entitled “I’m Not Impressed By Aziz Ansari’s Feminism” (http://www.buzzfeed.com/katieheaney/im-not-impressed-by-aziz-ansaris-feminism). In it, Heaney discusses how intentions can influence a man’s interaction with feminism. What the article is referring to is when comedian Aziz Ansari went on the Late Show With David Letterman and “came out” as a feminist. Ansari made a few follow up comments expounding on his feminism by giving the dictionary definition of feminism, putting down the angry woman stereotype, and putting Beyonce and Jay-Z as the model for gender equality. Heaney felt that Ansari was oversimplifying something that most women do not find simple or easy at all. She argued that though Ansari’s intention was to try and take down what he perceived to be a stereotype of feminism, Heaney herself identified with it. She is a women who experiences sexism and oppression on a daily basis and she is angry about it. She feels personally scorned when it is proclaimed that this is not a real identity. Despite this, she is glad that Ansari and other men are at least thinking about feminism, but she ultimately feels that intentions are crucial. She ends by stating that she can “no longer think claiming the word feminist is particularly worthy of accolades. Acting like one – that is”(Heaney).

Both of these portrayals show male feminists in a negative way, but I feel that the critique coming from women that identify as feminists is a positive one. When men say male feminists are “feminine” or “wussies,” they are demeaning them and there is nothing to be gained. When feminists comment on male feminism, they are doing so for the betterment of the movement, and the betterment of each other as people. Regardless of how feminism is portrayed in popular culture, whether of a man or a woman, it is crucial to note that this is an exceedingly complex issue that cannot be generalized or trivialized.


Heaney, Katie. “I’m Not Impressed By Aziz Ansari’s Feminism.” BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed, 8 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2014. <http://www.buzzfeed.com/katieheaney/im-not-impressed-by-aziz-ansaris-feminism>.

Stoeffel, Kat. “So You Want to Be a Male Feminist? Maybe Don’t.” The Cut. N.p., 10 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2014. <http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/10/you-want-to-be-a-male-feminist-maybe-dont.html>.

Joe Rogan & Chris D’elia Mocking Male Feminists Jre 533. Dir. Joe Rogan. Perf. Joe Rogan. Youtube. N.p., 24 Aug. 2014. Web. 16 Nov. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK9GnWVWolo>.

Nick Adams- Fox News- The War on Men. Perf. Nick Adams, Elisabeth Hassleback. Youtube. N.p., 4 Feb. 2014. Web. 16 Nov. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YG7KTMyOnw&gt;.

Looking in the Mirror as a Young, Female, Art Student

Shelby Lux

Daneen Bergland

Popular Culture

16 November 2014

Looking in the Mirror as a Young, Female Art Student

With the upbringing of new movies over the past years, common stereotypical portrayals are quite easy to recognize. For example, popular kids are commonly shown to be snobby while smart kids are usually shown as being nerdy and bullied in school. Much like these more well-known stereotypes, art students are shown similarly to each other but shown less frequently. Art students are all portrayed a little differently depending on the movies. Most of the time, these characters are not the focal point and act in the background behind the leading role. Unlike the portrayals in movies that show art students to be outcasts, unpopular and dark compared to their peers, real life art students differ greatly. While comparing the art students in movies to myself, I noticed that my appearance and personality are opposite or more toned down then their exaggerated characteristics. Often times, art students are not the way popular culture media represents them physically, in regards to both fashion and personality.

I, myself, am an art student studying graphic design at Portland State University. I spend most of my days in the art building on 5th avenue with other students that also have a passion for art. From seeing and interacting with art students’ first-hand, it is easy to compare the differences between real life students vs. movie portrayals. For example, in the popular click flick comedy Mean Girls which is a movie about Cady Heron a 16-year-old homeschooled girl, returns to the United States after 12-years in Africa and attends public school for the first time. Janis and Damian who are classmates with Cady warn her to avoid the school’s most exclusive clique, the Plastics. The Plastics soon take an interest. Soon after, Cady is slowly becoming one of The Plastics and Janis plans revenge against Regina with Cady as an infiltrator (Wiki).  One of the main characters is Janis, who is a gothic, outcast art student. She is often looked down upon her other peers based on her exaggerated style and personality. Janis has jet black hair, normally wears black clothing with bold accessories. Unlike her peers she is brutally honest, outspoken, and very different making it more difficult to truly relate with. I had a difficult time even relating to her even as an art student myself.


After watching the movie, I was curious as to what others thought about Janis and her bold, gothic style. I found this web article called “Where’s the beef?” In it, Peter Rainer mentions “[Cady] immediately gets pulled into a vortex of cliques—the Plastics, the Mathletes, and the freaks and geeks in between” (Rainer). This quote is a clear example of how someone’s appearance effects the way others view them and instantly categorizes them into different groups. Rainer’s article was the only review I could find online that somewhat referred to Janis. Others focused on Cady played by Lindsay Lohan and the “plastics”. It was interesting to me that even with her artistic and unique style, her character blended into the background and didn’t seem as important as the others based on the movie responses.  Janis is portrayed as an artistic freak who is different compared to her surrounding peers.  In most cases, I am very soft spoken, quite in larger groups of people, less opinionated and often wear colorful or neutral clothing that doesn’t stand out that much from a crowd. I have loose light brown waves and rarely wear any jewelry because it makes me feel too dressed up. If someone were to see Janis and me standing right next to each other, it would be easy to recognize how opposite we really are based on our personalities and appearance. Even though, art students are creative individuals and often times think “outside of the box”, their appearance and personalities don’t always reflect this in real life.


As well as being portrayed as outcasts, art students are often shown to unpopular. In movies such as Art School Confidential which is about how the main character, Jerome pursues his true obsession to art school. As he learns how the art world really works, he finds that he must adapt to the reality that faces him (IMDb). Jerome attends art school focusing on being an illustrator. Before school, he had all these high expectations and ideals of how art school would be like. When got to class, he realized it was not like how he imagined it to be. After a while, he becomes friends with Bardo who is considered to be a loser by others. With this, Jerome is looked down upon by his peers. For example, in classroom critiques negative feedback was given out to unpopular kids even if the quality of work was far better than others. In real life classroom critiques that is unlikely to happen. From my experience, art students tend to judge each other based on the quality of art work rather than solely off of the actual artist. In high school, I do remember there being cliques between students but art students were minimal and usually weren’t constrained to one label. For example, in school I took almost every art class available and I was friends with the students that wanted to pursue the arts as well but that didn’t stop me from being friends with individuals from other cliques. I wasn’t never looked down upon from my peers from my passion and don’t remember ever being treated negatively based off of my status in school. In previous critiques, my peers would give appropriate feedback depending on the art work. With this experience, when I see art students portrayed as being unpopular it’s unsettling. It is difficult for me to watch students treated so badly in movies and even television shows with false interpretations. In real life situations, art students can vary in status and are often times shown in a brighter, positive light.


Another misconception about art students that I have heard quite often is that artists have darker souls than other types of individuals. While some art can come off as dark or unsettling, this doesn’t always mean that the artist is. In the movie She’s All That which is about how a high school jock makes a bet with a friend that he can turn an unattractive girl into the school’s next prom queen and his friend chooses Laney, an outcast art student. (IMDb)  Laney who is a high school artist is considered to be very dark and solitary compared to her peers. With past experiences, Laney thought that if she hid away from others, she could escape the hurtful situations that come with being a teenager. She draws inspiration from her troubling past into her paintings such as her mom passing away when she was a young girl and is often times found to be in her dark basement acting as her art studio. Much like Laney, I have made darker pieces which usually held a deeper meaning but I wouldn’t consider myself to be a dark person. I have had negative experiences in my life occur that have put me in a dark place for a while much like other individuals have. For me, to forgive and forget about these negative event, I create. Whether it be: painting, drawing or taking photographs, I enjoy making pieces inspired by what has happened in my life. Doing this, acts as a coping mechanism because it allows me to relive a moment, emotionally deal with it and move forward. I don’t think that constrains me of having a dark, stand offish personality. Many artists will make dark pieces to make their audience somewhat uncomfortable and informed. This darkness does not, more often than not, correspond directly to the students’ personality, usually just an emotional state after a tragic event.

From my observations, the portrayals of art students in movies such as Mean Girls, Art School Confidential and She’s All That are not always 100% accurate to everyday artists. In movies, artists are often shown as being dark, outcasts, and unpopular compared to their peers. While comparing myself to the stereotypical portrayals it’s easy to see that I don’t fit into the “common art student” category based on how I look and act compared to my peers. From the movies I’ve watched I can say, I’m not as brutally honest and bold like Janis, I’m very quiet in comparison. My art work was never judged in a critique based off of my peers’ preference on whether they liked me personally or not like Jerome’s experience. Even if I’m having a bad day, I don’t come across as dark as Laney does in She’s All That. After looking at the above examples, it is easy to see that real life art students are not the way popular culture media tends to represent them physically as well as in terms of personality and fashion. All in all, it’s unclear to tell just based on appearance whether or not a person is pursuing the arts without getting to know them a little better.

Work Cited

Art School Confidential. Dir. Terry Zwigoff. Perf. Max Minghella, Sophia Myles, and John Malkovich. Sony Pictures Classics. 2006.

“Art School Confidential.” IMDb. IMDb.com. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

Mean Girls. Dir. Mark S. Waters. Perf. Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, and Tina Fey. Paramount, 2004.

“Mean Girls.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Nov. 2014. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

Rainer, Peter. “Where’s the Beef?” NYMag.com. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <http://nymag.com/nymetro/movies/reviews/n_10326/&gt;.

She’s All That. Dir. Robert Iscove. Perf. Freddie Prinze, Jr., Rachael Leigh Cook, Matthew Lillard, and Paul Walker.  Miramax Films. 1999.

“She’s All That.” IMDb. IMDb.com. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.

Curvy Women In Popular Culture

“Curvy Women In Popular Culture”

Haley Mills

Looking in the Popular Culture: Mirror Essay

December 2nd, 2014

Throughout the years, heavy women have gone through many different stereotypes, whether it be in the media or with society as a whole. Overweight women in the entertainment business are often times subject to roles that make their weight the main focus and use that to fulfill stereotypes and make humiliating jokes toward their size. Because of this, the characters are looked at as being heavy before they are looked at as being an actual person. Since this is so prevalent in our popular culture, it has become a normal way of thinking within our society. However, there has been a shift in the industry that is trying to counter the way heavier women are portrayed, to show that they are actually normal and attractive people.

In order to understand the change that is happening, we must look at different sources and how they portray heavy women in the wrong ways. One of the main sources of false portrayal is basically every movie Melissa McCarthy plays in. In her movies, her character is often a confident women but mixed in with many other bad qualities. These qualities include being vulgar, lacking personal hygiene, wearing unflattering clothes and having a tom-boy personality. Her role in The Heat summarizes almost every stereotype about heavier women. Another example is Rebel Wilson in Pitch Perfect. Her character goes by the name “Fat Amy” so “twig bitches don’t call [her] that behind [her] back” (Perfect).  Why does this even need to come up in the film? Writers feel the need to point out a women’s weight in the these movies so either herself or others can use it for humorous purposes. Thankfully, there has been a shift throughout the years that is changing the perception of heavier women within the entertainment industry.

It is becoming more obvious that there is a small change happening within movies and television that are trying to normalize women’s bodies and the way curvier women act. In Hairspray, the main character Tracy Turnblad, is an overweight teenager who dreams of winning Miss Teenage Hairspray on the Corny Collins Show. Even though the popular girls in the movie make fun of her, Tracy remains confident and wins Miss Teenage Hairspray. This is a great example because it shows that even though someone is overweight, you can still be talented and achieve the dreams you have set for yourself. Another character who is very similar is Mercedes on Glee. Mercedes is another curvy woman, but she is always dressed well, has a confident attitude and is one of the best singers in the Glee club. Glee breaks many other stereotypes within today’s society, which is why it was such a big success across the nation. In Gilmore Girls, Melissa McCarthy plays a character named Sookie, who is a charming cook. She is able to find love on the show which  is usually not the case with heavier women in the media. Sookie’s weight is never brought up in the show which allows humor to show up in other ways. These shows and movies are just some of the subtle examples that are changing the way curvy women are perceived, but the two that are becoming increasingly popular are The Mindy Project and Girls.

In the Mindy Project and Girls, we are introduced to two different curvier women who approach the conventional standards of beauty and weight in different ways. Mindy Khaling plays Mindy Lahiri on The Mindy Project. Mindy is a curvier women who cares about her looks and dresses in cute and flattering clothing. Mindy knows she could improve herself by losing a few pounds but is happy and satisfied in her current body. In the show, she talks about the daily struggles of life including her eating habits and her exercise routine or lack there of. Mindy has a charming and confident personality and attracts several male boyfriends throughout the show. Lena Dunham plays the character Hannah Horvath on the show Girls. In Girls, Hannah’s character is one who is unconcerned with the conventions of beauty whether it be her weight or the way she dresses. She considers herself about 13 pounds overweight in the show, but that doesn’t stop her from having lots of sex or wearing whatever she wants. In the show, Hannah is nude a lot which is not really the case in television shows or movies for heavier women. This is groundbreaking for us heavier women because society often times tries to make us feel like we should hide our bodies and never exposes them like Lena Dunham does in her show. Both shows have two different takes on curvier women and how they act in their lives. Both are changing the way curvy women are viewed and show that no matter our size we can still be beautiful and do the same things that “normal” sized women do in their lives.

An interesting point to make is that both The Mindy Project and Girls are written and directed by Mindy and Lena themselves. This is one of the main reasons why the shows are so accurate in showing how curvier women should be portrayed in the real world. They are using events that have happened in their lives and incorporating their views on their bodies in their shows. Mindy like her character, cares about her style and looks and realizes she could improve herself by losing a few pounds, but it isn’t a priority for her. When being asked on the Today Show about why she doesn’t do nude scenes she said, “because that means I would have to exercise” (Strauss).  On the contrast, Lena Dunham was asked in an interview why her show has so much nudity and she responded by saying , “it’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive” (Molloy). Lena and her character both tend to act like they don’t care at all about any beauty norms. In society, we have women who are like either one of these women. By having two different types of shows conveying many of the same meanings, it helps women of all different personalities feel more comfortable with their body size.

Being a curvy girl in today’s society, it is very easy to get angry and sad about the way heavier females are portrayed in the entertainment industry. But after taking the time to find shows that are trying to normalize the views of heavier women, I have nothing but hope for the future for curvier girls to be looked at as women first instead of our body size. It only takes a few shows and movies to start a revelation within our culture to start changing the ways heavier females are portrayed. We can only hope that more and more producers and writers can come together and stop having false stereotypes in their shows and start making more accurate representations of all women, so that it is a normal way of thinking for everybody in the world.


Bogart, Laura. “How Melissa McCarthy Sold Out Overweight Women”. Salon. Salon Media Group Inc. 13 July 2014. Web. 10 November 2014.  <http://www.salon.com/2014/07/14/ how_melissa_mccarthy_sold_out_overweight_women/>.

Dunam, Lena. (Judd Apatow, Lena Dunham). (2012). Girls [Television Series].  New York City, NY: Apatow Productions.

Khaling, Mindy. (Mindy Khaling). (2012).  The Mindy Project [Television Series]. Los Angeles, CA: NBC Studios.

Molloy, Tim. :Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham Get Mad at Me For Asking Why She’s Naked So Much on ‘Girls’”. The Wrap. The Wrap News Inc. 9 January 2014. Web. 10 November 2014. <http://www.thewrap.com/judd-apatow-lena-dunham-get-mad-asking-shes-naked-much-girls/&gt;.

Pitch Perfect. Dir. Jason Moore. Perf. Anna Kendrick, Britney Snow and Rebel Wilson. Brownstone Productions (III), 2012. DVD.

Strauss, Elissa. “Why Mindy Kaling — not Lena Dunham — is the body positive icon of the moment”. The Week. The Week Publications. 22 April 2014. Web. 10 November 2014. <http://theweek.com/article/index/260126/why-mindy-kaling-mdash-not-lena-dunham-mdash-is-the-body-positive-icon-of-the-moment&gt;.