Nearly 100 people attended an interactive presentation, “Mean Girls and Real Boys,” on cultural and media constructions of gender and their correlation to bullying.
Michigan State University Extension facilitators Janet Olson and Karen Pace invited participants to analyze the “gender box” and think of socially accepted connotations defining the good girls and real boys. Participants then explored what lies outside of those boxes, typically defined by derogatory terms and labels.
Olson and Pace shared how in today’s culture bullies verbally, physically, and through cyberspace torment those who do not define or meet the in-the-box roles. They also discussed current children’s advertisements, pinpointing how the media reinforces gender stereotypes. They challenged participants to take a step back and see the greater messages at work, including racism, sexism and classism.
Pace offered solutions on how to be critical consumers of the media, by reading, defining, opposing and replacing the oppressive messages with inclusive, social changing messages.
The presentation was sponsored by the Children’s Enrichment Center, Office of Inclusion and Equity, Women’s Center and the College of Education.