Belle

First, watch the trailer above. This week Disney released their first teaser trailer for the new Beauty and the Beast movie featuring Emma Watson as Belle. This is a huge tease since the movie does not come out until 3.17.17, and alas out waiting continues. However, this trailer reminded me of all the reasons Belle is my favorite princess and has been since I first watched the animated Beauty and the Beast when I was 18 months old. Here are the reasons I have a major #girlcrush on Belle.

  1. Belle loves to read. She constantly has her nose in a book and is learning new things. I would certainly classify her as an intellectual princess.
  2. Belle does not settle. Throughout the movie Gaston harasses Belle, trying to get her to marry him. However, Belle will have none of it. Despite the fact that others girls in the town swoon over him at all times, she is not deceived by his good looks or charm. She sees that he is misogynistic and calls him out. At one point he says, “It’s not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas, thinking…” Belle is not about men who act and think like that.
  3. Belle respects her father. When the rest of the town is mocking her father, Belle stands up for him and believes in him and his inventions.
  4. Belle puts others ahead of herself. When her father is sick and imprisoned by the Beast, she readily offers her own life in sacrifice. Even though this means she will lose her freedom and her chance at having friends and a family, she puts her father ahead of herself.
  5. Belle is kind. Belle is kind to all the others that live in the castle, quickly becoming friends with Mrs. Potts, Chip, Cogsworth and Lumiere. She plays in the snow with the Beast and dresses his wounds after he is attacked by wolves. She demonstrates true kindness throughout the whole movie.
  6. Belle is not a shrinking violet. She speaks her mind and stands up for herself when the Beast is being mean. He yells at her and she puts him right back in his place.

YGG, Belle. You put all the other boy-crazy princesses to shame. You are a role model in terms of Disney characters. I’m already looking forward to 3.17.17 to see the live action version of this story and this strong female princess.

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The Women of Alcatraz

Alcatraz, located just over a mile from San Francisco, CA is one of the most well-known high-security prisons in America. Housing infamous criminals such as Al Capone and Robert Stroud, Alcatraz has been the inspiration for numerous books, movies and tales. Open for just 30 years from 1933-1963, Alcatraz was home to over 1,500 inmates at one point or another. Remarkably, not one of these inmates was a woman, and none of the guards were either.

I visited Alcatraz earlier this week and stopped to ask one of the rangers about this gender discrepancy. She informed me, “there were hardly any women’s prisons at that time. There simply wasn’t a need, as women were not the ones committing the crimes.” Despite what you might believe from shows like Orange is the New Black, these numbers haven’t changed a lot since then. Today, women are usually not the people committing hard crimes. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, today 93.3% of inmates are male. That means that the vast majority of of criminal behavior is committed by men. Further, women are more likely to be incarcerated for a non-violent crime (such as a drug related offense). What is it that makes men more likely to engage in criminal behavior? Is it something innate? Is it something they are taught? Obviously this could lead us into a never-ending nature vs nurture debate. As this is a very complex topic, I will have to address this more in a later blog post.

So, if there were no women inmates and no women guards at Alcatraz, were there any women there? Yes! In fact, hundreds of women lived on Alcatraz island. At any point in time over 60 guard families lived on Alcatraz, including women and children. It was a miniature society there with a post office, a general store, and even a Ladies Club. The children would take a ferry each day into San Francisco to go to school, and then they would come back to the island to play, do homework and eat dinner. Some of the girls who grew up on the island described it as “idyllic” and “fabulous.” Ann Burrows Eib, the daughter of one of the guards, even had her wedding on Alcatraz while it was still a functioning prison. Talk about an unconventional location for a wedding!

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This is one of the buildings the families lived in on Alcatraz. Room with a view!

Today, Alcatraz is populated mostly by tourists coming to see the prison remains. However, Alcatraz is also known for its flora and its bird population. See, the women of Alcatraz helped leave behind a legacy in the beauty they brought to the island. Before Alcatraz was inhabited there were few to no plants or flowers on the island. Then, the military and the families brought plants to garden that still exist today. The island is filled with exquisite flowers and plants everywhere you turn! This work was not done only by the women on the island, but they certainly had a large role, the fruit of which is still being enjoyed today.

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Brrr it’s cold in here

Thermostat

Today at work Brandon Smith (aka The Workplace Therapist) came to train us about how to influence and manage other people well. At one point during the training he said, “Ok, let’s talk about the temperature. Who in the room is cold?” Immediately EVERY SINGLE WOMAN in the room raised her hand (about 30 women). He then asked who was hot and 2 men raised their hands. Finally, he asked who was comfortable, and the remaining 18 men raised their hands*. None of the men in the room were cold and none of the women were comfortable (shocking statistics here!). His point had nothing to do with gender, and he didn’t even comment on it. Rather, he went on to give an example of how to address needs and find solutions. However, what struck me was the stark gender discrepancy in the room. Why was the temperature in the room set so that the men were comfortable but that ALL of the women were cold for the entire 6 ½ hours we were there? Perhaps you might argue that this is a one-off situation, a glitch or just a coincidence, but my mind jumped to the news article I once heard on the exact same subject. Check out this NY Times article.

Research shows that the typical office temperature is based on a formula that uses the average metabolic rates of men. To put some approximate numbers on it, commonly offices are set to about 70 degrees (preferable to men) whereas most women would prefer something closer to 75 degrees. When the formula was created most women did not hold office jobs, so this might have made sense. But now its 2016. Women are working, and office temperatures need to catch up. While this may seem like a minor discrimination, it is a discrimination that causes most men to be comfortable in their office all day and most women to be cold in their office all day. This is why I keep a Snuggie at my desk. This is why my roommate runs a space heater at her desk everyday, even when we are suffering through another Atlanta summer with 90-degree temperatures and 85% humidity. This is why my female coworkers make hot tea, just to have something to warm up their hands in between typing.

If we are serious about workplace equality, the conversation should not just be limited to which gender is filling which role in the company (though that of course is important!). We must also address the environmental factors that favor men over women. The small things that often go unnoticed are worth discussing and addressing. As much as I love my UNC Snuggie, I would rather wear it while watching a movie instead of while trying to be professional at the office.

*These numbers are approximate. I did not take an actual head count in the room. Additionally, it is interesting to note that my workplace does not follow typical gender statistics, as our firm has a slight majority of women.

Beginning to blog

Today I created this blog, YGG, as a platform to express my thoughts and share examples of women being just that: women. From the boss a** bi*** to the girl on the playground standing up to the bully, there are strong women all around making this world better and more equal for women. They are seizing opportunities, living life to the full and deserve to be recognized and applauded.

I am passionate about women’s rights and women’s empowerment and find myself in my free time reading books and articles, listening to music, watching movies, and having discussions about these things. This is an extensive topic, so I can’t cover everything in this blog, but I hope this will serve as a starting point or sounding board for others who have similar interests. For much of history women have been discriminated against or suffered under patriarchy, but I see evidence of change and hope for greater change. In this blog I hope to discuss examples of change and examples of women who are strong in so many different fields, united by the fact that when I see them and what they are doing, all I want to say is YGG.