Monday, 25 March 2013

Gender stereoptyping in magazines

Yesterday I was unfortunate enough to see a copy of The Sun's men's magazine. Despite The Sun duly receiving criticism for Page 3 (Sign the petition to end Page 3 if you haven't already) they decided to produce a male magazine laden with sexism. This is even obvious from the website:
A magazine for men therefore there has to be a 'sexy' women as the first picture?!
This is followed by a feature where a 'hot girl' tells a joke, a joke that is supposed to humour only men. (I feel there's also a criticism of female comedians in this feature...)

As well as this obvious objectification, this magazine, alongside Fabulous magazine that it was adjoined with, promote ridiculous gender stereotypes. The first page of the magazine for men had a picture telling them cuts of meat...because only men like meat?!
Although the argument of "separatism" does raise debate in itself, it seems generally (very generally) men and women have some different interests. (I say "it seems" as this to me is mainly due to society's gender stereotyping). However, a magazine can still be aimed at a particular sex as there are magazines aimed at different ages, races or of a particular sexuality. This can be seen from Stylist, a free magazine given out in London, that is aimed at women but doesn't just assume that: they will want to cook family meals in comparison to no mention of cooking in a men's magazine; they want to read ChickLit (although I'm not devaluing this literature) in comparison to men reading Stephen King; women want cleaning and household tips (Magazines such as Best etc.) in comparison to business tips for a man. Stylist magazine doesn't give women advice on how they can please others in particular men with the way they look or what they can do sexually, but how to be happy and successful in themselves.

I also need to consider the POV of a man; perhaps they want a magazine where there are book reviews that do not assume they like a certain type of literature or want recipes for meals they can cook for other people. Furthermore, a big problem of these male magazines in particular is that they assume all men  want to stare at boobs. Not only is this reducing men down to ape like creatures, which those who I have spoke to do not appreciate, but also that the norm is for men to be heterosexual. Although this is also a problem in magazine's for women at least we can flick through in the dentist without seeing a penis protruding from the pages.

Therefore, why can't we have magazines that perhaps do interest different sexes (I can't deny I love clothes more than all the men I know put together): but do not presume that these differences are based on stereotypes that objectify and degrade women to objects that are there to please men and to look after people.

Antonia Sales

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Are Men and Women Treated Differently in the Classroom? - "The Chilly Classroom".

I first heard of the concept/theory "The Chilly Classroom" in a Feminist talk at my university. I can imagine there are lots of people who were like me, had never heard of it. It is a study which has looked at the way faculty staff, both men and women behave towards women and girls in a classroom setting. I have found this quite fascinating and wanted to share my thoughts on the whole concept and my experience of it.

- The Chilly Climate by Bernice R. Sandler [LINK]
- List of Articles related to "The Chilly Classroom" [LINK]
  Having been in education for long time like most people I feel I have good experience of class participation and the general environment of education. For me, I have noticed that girls do tend to speak less in class. But so do some boys. Is it just that they are more introverted or shy and find it more difficult to contribute?  that I look back at the 15 years I have experienced in education, I would say that I have a mixed view. I believe I have experienced a behavour from teachers, which have dismissed my contribution. At times this has prevented me from wanting to take part in the future. Although this study looks at the whole idea on a larger scale. Those who have studied this concept, suggest that as a whole this behavour towards girls in school is reflected back in the society and is having a more detrimental effect that people may realise. 
Many may see the concept that all girls are treated negatively in a classroom setting to be generalising and it is. This theory does not suggest it happens in all classrooms, by all people, but that is happened significantly enough to be damaging to society.

My own experiences:
Throughout school, I can admit that I have enjoyed contributing in class. In subjects I enjoyed and felt confident in I have often been able to state my ideas and opinions easily. However I have found myself often putting my hand, the teacher acknowleging me and asking me to speak when someone would then interupt by speaking out. Now, I have found there is often confusion in class participation, some teachers like their students to put their hands up but then some prefer for students to just shout out ideas. This often causes more loud and confident students to speak more compared to quiter students, that may have something good to say, but aren't given the chance to.
 I have found trying to shout out quite difficult although I think I have done better as I went to A-level and University. That is one example where I see my own experiences reflected in this Chilly Classroom idea.

However recently in one of my university seminars I have noticed the way a lecturer responds to to students in class debate and have found that they are encouraging this chilly classroom effect in an alarming way. I find it quite frustrating. One situation that I found myself in. 
  • Answering a question, the response I get  "Well yes, that is basically what [male student] said" I mean! what? I found it very discouraging when someone's contribution is dismissed and claimed as just repeating someone else. Why then ask the question in the first place?
  • The lecturer/seminar leader "Come on girls, all I am hearing are the guys contributing". Saying this is not going to encourage women to speak.
  • Answers given by women in the class often criticised and dismissed. The guys can say pretty much the same but you get this response. "What do you mean?", Name of student used as encouragement. "Yes, exactly!", " I kind of see what you saying".
 Now, maybe I have just experienced a situation that is not necessarily common, and is not necessary about gender but I feel in my experience that it did play a part.  By dimissing shy people's contribution (male and female) it will make them even more likely not to participate. By highlighing that the males are dominating the discussion and turning it into a competition between men and women is not helpful. grr! 
 Although I don't think this has effected me individually. I can imagine for some girls constantly having to deal with this it will reduce their confidence and self-esteem. Which then reduces the belief in themselves to achieve highly. 

In Summary: Of the select articles written on the topic, it is not about critising those who treat women and girls negatively in the classroom. Firstly, it is clear that it is often not intentional. Many have written of ways in which to "warm up" the chilly classroom. Advice for both teachers and students to prevent women and girls being treated differently in education.
All I would ask is that next time you're in a seminar, classroom or meeting, just observe what is going on. You may realise it is more common than you think!

 If you have experienced anything similar, please comment, we want to hear! 

By Gemma Lenton - (

Junction 11 Podcast

Last week I was interviewed on Junction 11's Cat Chat. We discuss why we need a Women's Officer, what I plan to do and everyday problems women (particularly students) face. I'd never done anything like it before so I don't express what I wanted to say as clearly as I would have liked and there's so much more we could have spoken about. But have a listen and if you have any questions you can email me at:
Once again I'd like to thank Lora and Gina for having me on their show and I can't wait to work with them more in the future.

Also here's a link to the NUS report on Lad Culture that we were talking about:'s%20what%20she%20said%20full%20report%20Final%20web.pdf
Be warned it will shock you but remember this goes on everyday on campus!!! This needs to be changed and we will be started campaigns on this in the summer and throughout next year!!

More blogs up soon so keep an eye out!
Antonia Sales

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Steubenville and rape culture

In light of recent events in Steubenville, and the countless other rape trials, cases, and attacks that don't even make it to trial; it seems appropriate to write about the prevalent rape culture that is haunting society.

Rape culture is describing the culture in which we live, one which teaches 'don't get raped' instead of 'don't rape', teaches people to be on constant guard against attack, and if they sadly do get attacked, then it is their fault, because they did something 'wrong', or they brought the attack on themselves (something I will never fully, truly understand, as the perpetrator should be human enough to realise what they are doing is wrong) or they won't be believed, because it is a common misconception that the numbers of false allegations is high, which it definitely is not. It is also the culture that finds it appropriate to trivialise rape, through jokes: jokes about victims, jokes about rapists, and jokes about rape generally. - the sort of thing that makes you really hate society, and to will for some kind of revolution to make it all change.

That is a very sketchy definition of rape culture, but it will do for now. We saw how pervasive rape culture really was in Steubenville, from the comments on social media outlets about how the survivor 'made the whole story up' and 'she was drunk, what did she expect', to CNN's shocking coverage of the events, where they sympathised with the rapists, not those young footballers - those rising stars - but rapists, because that is what they are. The news coverage did not mention how the survivor's life will be ruined as a result of what they did to her, but they focused on how the rapists lives will be ruined - particularly on the comment the rapist Richmond made 'my life is over, no one will want me now'.  Why focus on their lives? They made the decision to attack and humiliate that poor girl, she had no choice in what happened, and yet her life will be deeply affected and probably ruined. An example is the two young girls who were arrested yesterday for sending the survivor death threats on social media - possibly because of Fox news's (and other news channels) actions of not bleeping out the survivor's name when showing a VT of the trial.

The use of social media is what propelled the case into the public domain. Mays and Richmond were seen in photos and videos laughing about what they did, as shown in the video that the group Anonymous leaked. (TW: rape, jokes about rape: ), social media is also where comments about the case were made. But luckily social media is also the place where many, (I'm tempted to say, those who are level-headed and believe in justice, but I probably shouldn't) came back to fight against the rape apology, sympathy for the rapists, and the victim-blaming that has occurred so many times. It is also the place that this petition to get CNN to apologise for their appalling reporting of the trial started - which if you haven't yet, you really should sign:

What made Steubenville so prominent was because of social media, so hopefully through social media we can show people, who have a rose-tinted view of society, how prevalent rape culture really is, and maybe because of this, and other landmark cases, we can maybe start to change society, and how it views rape; get the conviction rape of rapists up, because fewer than one out of 30 rape survivors can get the justice they deserve, by having their rapist convicted. (source: ).

Rape culture needs to be extinguished, and only through action and by showing the world how present rape culture is, can we even start to implement these changes.#

- Lauren Read

Junction 11 Radio Show

Today I appeared on Lora Jury and Gina Toor's Junction 11 Radio show: Cat Chat. We were discussing Lad Culture, why Reading Uni needs a Women's Officer and obstacles women face at Uni and in the workplace. A podcast will be up soon so I'll post the link! I just wanted to thank them for asking me on the show and also tell everyone to listen to them in the future because they have some really interesting conversations (It's like Women's Hour :D) and play some great music!
Here's there FB page:

Antonia Sales

Monday, 18 March 2013

Welcome to the Reading University Women's Campaign Group's blog!

We'll try to post on here regularly and try to get some good discussions going.
If anyone has any articles/posts they'd like to discuss, post a comment and we can try and start one!
Different members will try and keep the blog updated over Easter, then it'll start fully when we're back for Summer term :)

- Lauren