Social commentary

Muddy Daughters

Muddy Daughters
Article by Andy Steiner, Illustrated by Aya Kakeda, appeared in issue Fun & Games; published in 2005; filed under Social commentary; tagged children, games, independence, parenting, play, She's Got Game.

The year my oldest daughter turned 4, her little sister was born, and that spring, in desperation, I let her play more or less unsupervised in the neighbors’ yard. When I came up for air from the endless diaper changes and nursing sessions, I’d catch a glimpse of her through the family-room window. Sweaty, dirty, and wild-eyed, she ran behind the neighbors’ pack of crazy, good-natured, and mostly unsupervised boys.

Laughing All the Way to the Polls

Laughing All the Way to the Polls
Article by Audrey Bilger, appeared in issue Fun & Games; published in 2005; filed under Social commentary; tagged female politicians, funny, gender roles, Hillary Clinton, humor, jokes, politics, power, presidents, voters.
Do Female Politicians need a New Punchline?

Once upon a time, politics was serious business. These days, however, presidential merit is measured as much by frat-house standards as by traditional approval ratings (apparently, American ­voters would rather have a beer with Bush than with Kerry), and a well-timed joke can sometimes sway public opinion more effectively than a reasoned argument.

Alpha Mom, Omega Journalism

Alpha Mom, Omega Journalism
Article by Juliet Eastland, appeared in issue Fun & Games; published in 2005; filed under Social commentary; tagged breeding, children, media, motherhood, parenting, procreation.

With all the world in strife, one might think the moms of New York would cut each other some slack.... That motherhood, in short, would serve as a safe house where civility and mutual respect rule. Think again. Motherhood, for all its well-documented joys, has become a flash point for envy, resentment, and guilt.

Ralph Gardner Jr., “Mom vs. Mom,” New York, October 21, 2002

"One might think,” in other words, that mothers could comport themselves in a more seemly manner. Because if we don’t get ourselves under control, we’re going to explode.

Cornering the Market

Cornering the Market
Article by Lisa Katayama, appeared in issue Fun & Games; published in 2005; filed under Social commentary; tagged activism, art, politically incorrect, race, racism, slavery, stereotypes, tokenism.
Damali Ayo and the Business of Race

When Damali Ayo was 12, her parents sent her to day camp with 20 white kids. The kids were fascinated by the way Ayo’s hair maintained its texture in the pool. Even after she deliberately dunked her head in the water, they were convinced that black hair doesn’t get wet.

This experience stuck with her as she launched her art career in the predominantly white city of Portland, Oregon. Ayo often felt she was the token black person relied upon for opinions and advice precisely because of her skin color.

Holy Rollers

Holy Rollers
Article by Tammy Oler, appeared in issue Fun & Games; published in 2005; filed under Social commentary; tagged competition, riot grrrl, roller derby, sexualizing, sports, violence.
Is Roller Derby the New Burlesque?

Talk about old school. In skating rinks around the nation, saucy dames are getting together and strapping on old-fashioned quad rol­ler skates to jam, block, and pummel each other. The roller derby revival is on. More than two dozen leagues operate across the country, with an average of 30 to 40 active skaters each (some leagues even boast as many as 60), and many more are in the works.

Out of Bounds

Out of Bounds
Article by Jacob Anderson-Minshall, appeared in issue Fun & Games; published in 2005; filed under Social commentary; tagged biological determinism, competition, gender, gender roles, Olympics, sports, transgender, transsexual.
Do Transsexual Athletes Throw Like Girls?

See that blonde weaving through the strip on Roller­blades?” writes Details magazine in a March 2005 article. “Please puff up her denim miniskirt just enough for us to drink in the full length of her long, bronze legs.”

No, this isn’t a fluff piece on the latest centerfold hottie. It’s Details’ self-proclaimed “extraordinary” article on professional golfer Mianne Bagger, whose biggest challenge this year was winning the right to step onto the green with other women. In her quest to find acceptance in professional competition, Bagger has overcome the resistance of both golf’s governing agencies and other female pros who worried that Bagger would have an inherent physiol­ogical advan­tage. That’s because, although Bagger has played golf since she was 8 years old, she only turned pro in 2003—10 years after what she calls “a transsexual past.”

Ode to Joystick

Ode to Joystick
Article by Joshunda Sanders, Illustrated by Aya Kakeda, appeared in issue Fun & Games; published in 2005; filed under Social commentary; tagged games, play, She's Got Game, video games.

How can you not love Ms. Pac-Man, a woman for whom power pellets, peaches, and pretzels constitute a steady diet?

This is how I feel about her now, but my love for the little yellow gal with the red bow began when I wore bows myself—when I was around 11.

Dumb & Getting Dumber

Dumb & Getting Dumber
Article by Judith Halberstam, Illustrated by Martha Rich, appeared in issue Masculinity; published in 2005; filed under Social commentary; tagged bad movies, gender roles, gender stereotyping, heroes, manliness, masculinity, mid-life crisis, rites of passage, spongebob squarepants, stupidity.
Sideways, Spongebob, and the New Masculinity

In 2004, every corner of popular culture was populated by men in crisis, and I don’t just mean George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney. We had men in trouble, men in triumph, men in uniform, men on the cross, men in square­pants; men being men with other men, talking about masculinity—what it is, how to have it, keep it, get it, make it last. We might even call it the Year of the Man, but the response to such a title could reasonably be, So what’s new? Isn’t every year the year of the man?

Kiss Me, I'm a Fashionable Bigot

Article by Rachel Fudge, Illustrated by Danforth France, appeared in issue Fake; published in 2004; filed under Social commentary; tagged advertising, pc, politically correct, politically incorrect, race, stereotypes.
Cashing In on Misguided Irony

Two years ago, the preppy mall staple Abercrombie & Fitch released a line of t-shirts that paired early 1900s–style caricatures of Chinese men (complete with coolie hats, big grins, and slanted eyes) with slogans like “Wong Brothers Laundry Service—Two Wongs Can Make It White” and “Wok-N-Bowl—Let the Good Times Roll—Chinese Food & Bowling.” The clothing chain then professed great surprise when Asian-American activists cried foul; A&F’s pr flack Hampton Carney told the San Francisco Chronicle, “We personally thought Asians would love this t-shirt.... We are truly and deeply sorry we’ve offended people.” As a result of continued protests, the shirts were eventually pulled from stores (and quickly became hot commodities on Ebay).

Women and Children First!

Article by Melissa Morrison, appeared in issue Fame & Obscurity; published in 2002; filed under Social commentary; tagged chivalry, gender roles, media, war, weaker sex.
What's Up With War Reporting's Chivalry?

“At least 19 victims, mostly men and children, were taken for treatment to the hospital in Kandahar.” “The Israeli missile...took the lives of at least 14 other people—including three men and nine children.” “Tens of thousands, including men, children and the elderly, were victims of chemical weapons attacks.”

These quotes from recent news articles may read a bit strangely, but they’re all accurate (from the New York Times, the New Yorker, and the Los Angeles Times, respectively), with only one change: Each story documented the number of female victims, not male. The gender swap clarifies one writer’s point: “It’s bad enough that innocent people died, but they were among society’s most vulnerable.”

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