Internet creepers

I love Twitter and I mostly use it to follow librarians, teachers, authors, book people, and news organizations. I don’t use it to follow celebrities, though authors are my celebrities, but you know what I mean about celebrities. I don’t follow Lady Gaga, Ashton Kutcher, or anyone with the name Kardashian.

But I got a little insight into the world of celebrity on Twitter this past week when Soledad O’Brien retweeted me.

Soledad O’Brien isn’t as large of a celebrity on Twitter as those previous people I mentioned, but many people would know who she is by mere mention of her name, so that’s celebrity enough for me.

I tweeted about a very cool program for girls that Soledad O’Brien is bringing to different places around the country, including Minnesota’s St. Kates. O’Brien’s program is called PowHERful Summit and this news release from St. Kates is what I tweeted.

Soledad O’Brien retweeted me. She has over 300,000 followers, and most of her followers who interacted with my tweet favorited it, retweeted it, or replied telling me how inspiring they found Soledad to be.

But there were also some internet creepers that had to chime in, and of course their rants focused on Soledad’s race and gender.

We’ve seen time and time and time again, that when people disagree with women online, they often focus on their gender and harass them.

The tweets sent to Soledad and me were not awful, but the reason they disturb me is that my tweet was simply about an empowering program. An empowering program brought about internet creepers who had to tweet nasty things about females and Soledad’s race? It makes me wonder what bad harassment Soledad gets when her tweets have any sort of opinion in them.

After receiving some nasty tweets, I tweeted:

Soledad also retweeted that and then replied to me and said:

I’m glad she can just brush it off, because I’m sure she gets way worse tweets, but the fact that she says “But that’s twitter!” is so disturbing. She’s not disturbing, but the sentiment is.

It’s one thing to disagree with someone. If the men who replied to us legitimately wanted to tell me why they disagreed with a PowHERful Summit, then that’s completely valid, but the fact that they didn’t even mention the PowHERful Summit but instantly said nasty things about Soledad’s gender and race is insane. It’s ridiculous. It’s pathetic. And, sadly, as Soledad’s response to me shows, it’s all too common.

I don’t know what I’m trying to say in this post, as you can probably tell with the rambling, but I was just disturbed to be let in on celebrity public life for a brief moment to find that there isn’t rational discourse but scared, immature, 13-year-old discourse from adults. I’ve known this for years, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was.


“Women just haven’t done that much”

This cringe-worthy video has been making the rounds on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook:

The video starts off by highlighting some great things that happened to women in the media this year, but the majority shows the not-so-great things. Can we all just forget Seth MacFarlane, please?

It should be pointed out that this is just highlighting the media, so it’s mostly movies, commercials, and the news, and there are very annoying sound bites from men on Fox News saying things like “Women just haven’t done that much” and that a woman should “Know your role and shut your mouth.”

The whole video is sound bites, so I don’t have the whole frame of reference for what caused these bursts of ignorance, but the bites do make me grind my teeth.

But it also makes me want to point out the awesome things that women did do this year, media or not.

Women dominated country music. Fabulous newcomers like Kacey Musgraves and Brandy Clark joined veterans like Miranda Lambert and her Pistol Annie’s to create some of the best country music of the year. Far better than the crap the leading men of country put out. Do I really need to bring up the chew tobacco chew tobacco chew tobacco spit song? I pretend that the Pistol Annie’s aren’t featured on that song. If you don’t believe me, watch this video showing that many of the popular male country songs were pretty much the same this year.

I can’t speak about country music without mentioning the show “Nashville,” a ratings juggernaut for ABC featuring women in the lead roles. At times it amounts to just barely a step above soap operas, but Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere are fabulous and some of the songs that come out of the show also bring shame to the men of country music.

But it’s not just “Nashville” that’s bringing us fabulous women on television. Can we talk about Kerry Washington’s “Scandal,” which I haven’t yet watched but want to? Or how awesome Keri Russell is on “The Americans?” Or how about how people couldn’t stop talking about “Orange is the New Black?” Or how funny Julia Louis Dreyfus is on “Veep?” Or the amazing Tatiana Maslany on “Orphan Black,” easily my favorite show of 2013? There are still way more men in leading roles, but these shows are giving them a run for their money.

But it’s not just music and television. My little feminist heart grew three sizes too big when I watched Wendy Davis in her pink sneakers fight for women’s rights in Texas. And Kirsten Gillibrand’s fight to support military rape victims. And the brave Edith Windsor and her DOMA lawsuit. And pretty much any time Elizabeth Warren opened her mouth.

And even though we have a really long way to go in politics, we are lacking far behind other countries in political equality, it was a record year for women in the Senate. Hopefully we will continue to rise in Congress because a study that came out this year found that women were less likely to be corrupt politicians. And don’t forget, it was women who got us out of the government shutdown.

But let’s not overlook the fabulous women around the world who are blowing my mind. I am in awe of Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the face over her fight for women’s education in Pakistan, but who survived and still fights on. I was so excited to hear that two members of Pussy Riot were recently released in Russia. I shake thinking about how brave it was for Saudi Arabian women to protest the restriction on driving. I’m inspired by how gutsy Guatemala’s first female attorney general, Claudia Paz y Paz, must be to take on organized crime and genocide.

I could go on and on to talk about women in business, women in sports, women in movies, women in education, women all over the damn place. I need way more than one binder to talk about everywhere we show up.

But “women just haven’t done that much.” Riiiight. Tell that to Beyoncé, the queen of iTunes.

Girls play sports, too

Last week the adorable GoldieBlox video made everyone smile and pointed out the idiocy of how toys are marketed to girls. If you haven’t yet watched the video, it’s worth a peek:

This week, everyone seems to be annoyed with GoldieBlox because the Beastie Boys are mad that their song was parodied in the video. This blog post is not about that, but if you need to know more, check out this good breakdown – GoldieBlox and the Three MCs.

This blog post is about the emotions that were brought up with everyone’s first reaction to the GoldieBlox video: girls are more than just frilly and pink.

My niece is 13 and is awesome at volleyball, basketball, and softball. It’s kind of a no brainer that cool gifts for her would include some sports-related items like t-shirts and posters. She already has some great t-shirts that say things like: “You wish you threw like a girl.”

But finding those great items is not as easy as I thought it would be. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised because if you look in the toy aisles at any department store it’s clear that the sports stuff is no where near the pink aisle, but searching online I thought I’d find better stuff.

On the first page of Google search results for “sports gifts girls” are some idiotic things:

  • Pottery Barn Teen Gifts for Girls Sports Decor page is full of sports posters…of men. Okay, there are a couple of women, but why is the basketball poster men? Last I remember, we even had a professional women’s basketball league in this country, and you can bet my niece knows some players.
  • All-Star Athlete Gifts for Teen Girls has things like a frame for cheerleaders, a frame for your football player boyfriend, ping pong sets, and a ton of t-shirts for male professional sports teams. Although, if you look at the All-Star Athlete Gifts for Teen Boys it’s really not much better, but it’s all very male-centric, so they at least have someone who looks like them on the crappy gifts.
  • Sporty Chick: Sports Gifts for Athletic Friends is Seventeen Magazine’s suggestions for gifts you’d get sporty friends, because apparently sporty friends wouldn’t be caught dead reading Seventeen. Either you’re girly and read Seventeen or you’re sporty and don’t, of course. Some gems in the Seventeen suggestions: gluing paste because “Just because she’s sweating on the field, doesn’t mean she could care less about her hair!” (their grammar mistake, not mine); and the Unruly Hair Beware Set because “It comes with all sorts of hair ties, headbands, and clips so she can look cute, even when she’s working up a sweat!”

This is just depressing, because doing the same search for boys yields way better results. But girls play sports, too.

No, really, they do. Lean in, male-centric world, because you need to hear this.

Girls play softball, which is pretty similar to your baseball. The ball is a bit bigger, and the bases aren’t as far away, but it’s pretty much the same. Did I blow your mind?

Well how about this: they also play basketball. I know! It’s crazy, but it’s true.

And don’t even get me started about swimming, golf, car racing, volleyball, football, cheerleading, lacrosse, tennis, etc. If you look real close, you’ll see women playing all of these things. You may have to remove your rose-colored-sports-equals-men glasses first, but don’t be alarmed with what you see. It’s not a threat to you, it’s just women playing sports.

And since women are playing sports, you know what? They’d also like to buy t-shirts and posters showing them playing these sports. I know that may seem like an odd concept, because we should be looking up to the real sports figures, the men, but every now and then it’d be cool to see a women on a poster. Maybe young, impressionable girls seeing themselves on a sports poster, besides cheering for a man, would be a good thing. Just a thought.