Intent vs. Impact

The following are a compilation of photos I’ve snapped in the day-to-day. Some looked innocent at first glance but upon further thought I found they served to perpetuate stereotypes that ‘capture’ and render us limited in our identities. Others are a glimpse into a life that can so easily be seen as ‘normal’, that is in fact, just one of many ways of seeing the world. We must acknowledge that our paradigms shape how we see the world, and the world shapes our paradigms. My intention is not to call out any person, company or organization but to call all of us to a greater level of examination of our paradigms and what shapes them.

Difficult times indeed. First world problem?

Missing: Donkey. Lost during the Modernist/Fundamentalist Split.

White men this way!

I’ve seen another (probably more recent) version of this sign that says “crew working”, utilizing gender inclusive language.

I saw this ad in an airport and literally stopped in my tracks, mouth gaping open. If we assume the astronaut is male (especially based off of the proximity and intimacy with the main child) then there is only one woman portrayed in the image as a role model, hero, or someone to look up to. And she’s a princess. Note how the color differences in their outfits point to their gender.

Those who hold privilege in society are granted the ability to assume that their experience is ‘normal’. We assume that others’ experiences are like ours. While R.A. Torrey may have intended this book to be about evangelizing both men and women, he most likely overlooked the ways the genders experience the world differently. Non-inclusive language assumes that the experience of women is the same as men.

It’s impossible not to draw conclusions between the feminine brand name of the wine and the reference to promiscuity. What does this suggest about women who drink?

I thought I may have been looking too hard for objectification in this billboard (“she” + “thing” + “beauty”) but a friend told me about another ad (below) that confirmed my suspicions.

While searching for a picture of this billboard, this one popped up. Originally the billboard has the same caption: “She is a thing of beauty.” Is it referencing the beer, the woman… or both? I think we know. What does this say to men about permission to gaze at women in this way? The Billboard Liberation Front “improved” this sign to clarify the impact that it has on its viewers. It’s also important to note that the upper or upper-middle class individuals in this photo are both White.

Perpetuating the lie that women who hold positions of power hate and are a threat to men. Of the six professionals portrayed in this billboard, five are men and all are White.

A White female jockey, wearing pink and white. Is she whipping the horse or… ?

Spotted at my local lavanderia. Congrats, women! We can now choose a laundry soap that fits with our personality! Calm, passionate, or sexy. No overlapping allowed – you must choose one.


The following lyrics are by Owl City, a band which I enjoy via Grooveshark but not quite enough to commit to buying their music for my own. But after hearing this song I was more than disappointed.

“Deer in the Headlights” by Owl City

“Met a girl in the parking lot
And all I did was say hello
Her pepper spray made it rather hard
For me to walk her home
But I guess that’s the way it goes

Tell me again was it love at first sight
When I walked by and you caught my eye
Didn’t you know love could shine this bright
Well smile because you’re the deer in the headlights

Met a girl with a graceful charm
But when beauty met the beast he froze
Got the sense I was not her type
By the black eye and bloody nose
But I guess that’s the way it goes

Tell me again was it love at first sight
When I walked by and you caught my eye
Didn’t you know love could shine this bright
Well smile because you’re the deer in the headlights

It’s suffocating to say
But the female mystique takes my breath away
So give me a smile or give me a sneer
Cause I’m trying to guess here

Tell me again was it love at first sight
When I walked by and you caught my eye
Didn’t you know love could shine this bright
I’m sorry I ever tried (Deer in the headlights)

Tell me again was it love at first sight
When I walked by and you caught my eye
Didn’t you know love could shine this bright
if life was a game, you would never play nice
if love was a beam, you’d be blind in both eyes
Put your sunglasses on
Cause you’re the deer in the headlights
You’re the deer in the headlights
You’re the deer in the headlights”

Can you guess why I’m pissed? I can’t go into depth regarding the meaning of the lyrics because I don’t know why they were written but regardless of the INTENT, the lyrics definitely cast women in a negative light – specifically, as over-dramatic, man-hating, and manipulative or playing “hard to get”. But it’s not just that – the first two verses completely negate the fact that women have a legitimate reason to carry pepper spray and know how to physically defend themselves. And as a woman who carries pepper spray and has taken self-defense classes, that makes me feel invalidated and as if my bodily safety isn’t worth protecting.

I “get” that it sucks that these nice, well-meaning guys have to “suffer” the repercussions of the “baggage” that some women carry around from abuse and that all women carry (whether they know it or not) from sexism. But how can the woes of these ‘love’-struck boys outweigh what women have to go through on a daily basis in order to be vigilant about protecting their own bodies?!

I’m disgusted that Owl City created lyrics that minimize the gravity of the safety of womens’ bodies and the fear that we live with on a daily basis, and ultimately cast women as the antagonist who are in opposition to these clueless and innocent men who simply want to ‘love’ us.

Men, have you ever had to consider the following?

1. Where to park in regards to a street lamp?

2. Have you ever had to pause inside of a building at night to get your keys out to be able to unlock your car with the utmost speed?

3. Are you careful to only unlock the driver’s door instead of all the doors of your car when entering it? Do you always lock your car doors when inside it?

4. Have you ever had to check under your car or in your backseat before you get near/in it?

5. If walking a lengthy distance, even in the day-time, have you ever periodically checked over your shoulder to see if you were being followed?

6. Have you ever changed your demeanor while walking from a casual stroll to a confident stride with your chin up in order to demonstrate to possible predators that you will put up a fight if tried to take advantage of?

7. Have you ever felt nervous entering your home alone? Or made a lot of noise entering your home in hopes to scare off any thieves or predators that may be inside?

8. Have you ever felt the need to carry pepper spray, a rape whistle, or a kubotan?

9. Do you have dreams of being assaulted or beaten and unable to defend yourself adequately?

10. Have you ever felt powerless when walking somewhere, no matter how you are dressed, because you know your body is being scrutinized and will likely “solicit” comments, inappropriate looks, whistles, and/or crude shouts?

11. Have you ever felt a sense of relief when you walk somewhere with a guy because you know a stranger won’t try to take advantage of you and you probably won’t have any whistles or shouts directed at you?

Men. We NEED you. We need you to speak up and talk about how it isn’t acceptable for women to have to live in fear for their safety. So next time a woman gives you a dirty look after you’ve hit on her when you’ve known her for a total of 120 seconds, realize that it’s probably more than she just “doesn’t like you”. And next time a female friend expresses concern for her safety or her lack of trust in men, don’t say she’s “overreacting” or that she’s “too sensitive”. We have a hell of a lot on our minds.

The second thing that is concerning me is this recent ad from Dove.

Spotted in Oprah Magazine, I immediately noticed a serious problem with this skin care ad. Mirroring the before and after pictures, there are three women who stand in order of darkest to lightest skin. What does this imply? Even if one doesn’t notice this consciously, we still learn something from it. Lighter is better. But not only that! It could also be deduced that blonder, straighter hair is better and that thinner is better. Again, the INTENT of the advertisers isn’t the only concern. There are a number of articles on the web discussing whether or not Dove was purposefully being racist. While that is a legitimate question, in the end the IMPACT of the ad is what matters more. This is why it’s possible for us to not be racist ourselves (as in, participate in the KKK or hate a certain people group) but still be participating in a system that perpetuates racism. If we just go with the flow, oblivious of the impact of our actions, we are keeping racism instilled as a system. Unless we actively go against racism, we are supporting it, whether we intend to or not. While Dove may have not been intending to espouse the idea that “lighter is better” (though this may be argued) they were certainly oblivious to what the article was teaching it’s audience, and in the end, perpetuating racism.