CultureEducation

What does it mean to be a girl? That is the opening question presented in Always’ new “Run Like A Girl” campaign. According to the subjects in the commercial, to run or throw like a girl is an insult; it is a sign of weaknesses or inferiority. But when the directors asked girls who had not yet reached puberty what it meant to run like a girl, these young girls ran and threw invisible balls like any normal human being would: with all of their strength and effort available.

Somewhere along the years, the overtly sexual and male-dominant media saturates the minds of young boys and girls with images teaching them that boys need to be powerful and better than girls. Thus, as a culture, young girls are raised to be insecure. “…like a girl” has now become a means of humiliating another person rather than representing a gender’s capabilities.

In the documentary Miss Representation, the filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom explores how the media’s obsession with women’s appearances and the lack of strong female role models in media has affected girls today. Some of the adolescent girls interviewed for the film expounded upon their own stories of their struggle with body image, showing how this shift to harmful media has damaged the young female psyche. The film also explains how if you were to ask boys and girls who had not yet gone through puberty if they would like to be president, most would raise their hand. But by the age of 15, there becomes a large gap between the number of boys and the number of girls who wish to run the country one day.

The media exploits the female body in sexual, demeaning, or violent manners in order sell products with little thought of how this alters the mind of children. The media sources claim that these actions are done to please the public’s wants, which is a complete fallacy. They are satisfying the needs of other media and advertisement companies in exchange for dollar signs six-figure salaries. All the while, this is done at the expense of our young girls’ confidence.

Media and film outlets have attempted to lift this burden of off girls before with films such as Million Dollar Baby or A League of Their Own, presenting how women can do just as well as men, can be just a tough, powerful, and in-control as men. However, these films are drowned out by advertisements of stick-thin scantily-clad girls being pinned down by husky male models and by television shows that glorify the female body over the mind (i.e. Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars). And don’t forget about the video games that portray women as objects rather than subjects- when you play Tomb Raider or Mortal Combat you don’t naturally project yourself into the character’s shoes, you feel as though you play alongside Lara Croft and need to protect her.

So what does this mean for young girls today? It means that they’ve become the universal punch-line of boys’ locker rooms and sports fields alike. By teaching young people today that physicality is a trait of masculinity, the media is reserving those actions for the male demographic, reducing the role of women in another category. What young and old alike need now is to become consciously aware of this so as to not pass these notions on to future generations and teach them to be aware of the control of media.

Image: Always #LikeAGirl

Culture

With the U.S. patent office preparing to strip the Washington Redskins of their trademark, the team that has received much backlash might lose its ability to solely own the Redskins logo.

For years, American sports teams have come under fire for their mascots or team names that follow culturally insensitive caricatures of the Native American race. Stanford, Dartmouth, and Marquette are just a few schools who changed their trademarks in response to complaints from the Native American community. However, teams like the Washington Redskins still perpetuate these Native American stereotypes by fighting for their trademarks and claiming that they are honoring the culture through their use of an infamous racial slur.

Whatever intentions the Redskins hoped to make, it does not discount the fact that their actions preserve older viewpoints that were used to justify the oppression of tribes in the Old West. For example, in old Western films Native Americans were either portrayed as noble savages that existed as sidekicks to the John Wayne-esque hero of the film, or as bloodthirsty savages who tore their way through western American civilization, leaving carnage and despair in their wake. So these people were only ever viewed as those worthy of assimilation into white-society or as beasts to be sent for slaughter. These two portrayals are not only constrictive of the Native American culture, they are also still used constantly in American sports.

And, to an extent, American society has tried to make up for these indiscretions through film and media. Some Westerns such as The Searchers attempted to make the idea of miscegenation between Native Americans and Caucasians more palatable for society and hoped to show discrimination against tribes as a thing of the past. Also, in the 1970’s, the Keep America Beautiful campaign utilized The Crying Indian as a way to show Americans the downside of littering. But with all things aside, both forms of media exploited the bloodthirsty and noble savage institutions. Why can’t media portray Native Americans like they do Caucasians, as limitless beings?

One of the few accurate portrayals of Native Americans in film is in Smoke Signals. The film follows young Victor and his friend Thomas, two Coeur D’Alene Indians, as he comes to terms with his father’s death. But what is underneath the surface of the film is the idea of reconciliation with the past; the idea that sons can mend what fathers have broken.

And I believe that idea is the solution to all of this uproar with American sports teams like the Redskins. By using a person or race as a mascot, you are reducing them to the status of an animal- considering that is what most mascots are. We have done away with most logos that marginalize African Americans, so what is different about the Native Americans? And as the Washington Redskins prepare for the appeals court in order to protect their patent on their mascot, I hope people keep in mind the fact that this racial slur is a commonality of the past. As the present and future of society, it is vital to be culturally sensitive and to fix what social issues past civilizations threw to the wayside.

Image: Business Insider

 

CultureTravel

Recently elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a speech about India launching a very cost-effective piece of space technology. Last November, India was the first Asian country to launch a spacecraft to Mars, putting itself in first place in the red race. If that mission is successful, India will be a part of a small group of countries to have successfully reached and explored Mars.

Modi proudly says, “Our scientists have shown the world a new paradigm of frugal engineering and the power of imagination.” This spacecraft and the mission all come at an extremely cheap price: 4.5 billion rupees, or $75 million. Modi even claims that this project costs less than the budget of the Hollywood movie Gravity.

The new Indian Prime Minister wants to also hold a meeting with neighboring South Asian countries that are a part of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to discuss how the freshly launched satellite is “a gift from India,” as Modi claims it to be with quite the zeal. He hopes for the amelioration among the nations of South Asia, as he wants them to also be an integral part in the world’s limelight.

Along with many accolades, the Indian government has faced some rebuke. India is a country that is filled with problems: poverty, disease, lack of sanitation, etc. India also dangles on one of the longest economic slowdowns it has ever faced. Should the government really be focusing on improving its space program over trying to combat the domestic and social issues ostensibly present?

Despite the criticism, Modi claims that space technology can offer quite a few uses and can become “an integral part of our daily life today.” India celebrates its leap in space science and hopes for a bright future in the field. But what do you think about advances in space technology? Would you consider joining this innovative field? How do you feel about the exploration of Mars? We want to know what the youth’s view of space exploration and technology is, as this is a blossoming field with vast job opportunities.

Image: NASA

CultureEducation

Have you ever shared something online that you regretted immediately? Maybe it was a picture, status, or comment to a friend. In this day and age, it’s so easy to click ‘Upload’ and ‘Share,’ and sometimes the consequences might not be pretty. If you are someone who has uploaded and regretted, you’ll be interested in knowing that actions are being made by California legislators to give minors the legal right to undo and erase their online mistakes. Some sites might allow users under the age of 18 to erase statuses, pictures, tweets, and other shared content.

According to The New York Times, there has been a lot of debate over how to protect children and their privacy online. Is the Web even worth trying to manage? In the attempt to protect children, a law trying to control the Internet could unintentionally put kids at risk if more personal information is required, such as if the users are indeed under the age of 18 and if the users live in California (since it is a California bill). There are pros and cons to both sides, and determining how to protect online identity is a complicated but important topic.

Would you want to be able to erase your online mistakes?