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The Color of Gender

Many toy stores and manufacturers divide their merchandise by color and gender. Typically, toys for girls are associated with the color pink, and toys for boys with the color blue. However, some stores this holiday season have announced they are doing away with gender segregation when it comes to toys. And Mattel has released a Barbie doll commercial featuring a boy playing with the doll.

The traditional separation of toys and colors according to gender is not a natural phenomenon, according to CSUN Sociology Professor Dr. Amy Denissen.

“Something like wanting to play with a particular toy — we have really good research that demonstrates that that is something that is socially learned,” she said. “It is not an innate trait or interest that we’re born with, but it’s something that children learn.”

Communications Professor Dr. John Kephart III said these toys, and the expectations that go with them, can affect people into adulthood. Kephart said boys are expected to play competitive sports or games like ‘cops and robbers’, which condition their mind to accomplish set goals. On the other hand, girls play games such as ‘tea party’ or ‘house’, which encourage communication and nurturing. Kephart said this might be one reason why about 50 percent of women who enter into the male-dominated field of technology tend to leave, citing a hostile work environment as the reason. “And so women are tracked into [technology fields] less often in their education; they’re hired less for it structurally; and they feel less comfortable and able to communicate with coworkers once they are there,” Kephart said.

Women who exhibit the so-called masculine behaviors valued in the workplace are stigmatized and sanctioned as being ‘bossy’, rather than becoming the leaders men do when they exhibit the same behavior, Denissen said.

“It’s equally concerning that young boys aren’t encouraged to be emotional,” Kephart said, “or encouraged to show a softer side, or think that they have to compete, or be assertive and to dominate other men and women in order to succeed.”

“I think it would be good for boys to be encouraged to play with dolls,” Gender and Women Studies Professor Dr. Kristyan Kouri said. “It would develop their nurturing skills. When they grow up to be fathers, they will take a more active role in nurturing their children. And girls need to develop those visual spatial skills that things like Legos, Lincoln Logs, and Bionicals teach them as they are building them, and that will maybe be a small step in helping them move into fields like engineering, which is still a male dominated occupation.”

“It’s not that we will be able to get rid of gender,” Kephart said. “But instead [we should] stop saying ‘this gender is better than this gender’, or ‘this sex has to perform this gendered behavior or this gendered role’.”

“Difference isn’t the problem,” Denissen said. “It’s when difference is transformed into distinction, which is when we use difference to create hierarchies, when we use difference to say that one group is superior to or better than another group [that’s the problem]. And I think gender is one of these differences that we’ve created, that is used to create distinctions to say that one group is better than the other.”

“We need to make gender roles more flexible,” Kouri said. “You can be male or female by not conforming to these rigid notions of what a male and female should be, or also maybe creating other genders.”


Moderator: Stephanie Lopez

Anchor: Sara Vong

Producer: Teresa Barrientos

Reporters: Teresa Barrientos, James Lindsay, Stephanie Lopez, Veronica Perez, Sara Vong

Social Media Editors: Veronica Perez and Sara Vong

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Like Our Page: Marketing in the Digital Age

In today’s digital age, businesses are using social media more and more to advertise their products.

A recent eMarketer study shows that $180 billion was spent on advertising last year, a five percent growth from 2004. Statistics show that digital advertising is leading the increase in ad spending, with spending for mobile networks in the lead.

Marketing analysts say the shift in ad spending has to do with what consumers are focused on, and the current focus for many consumers is social media. “Social media as a platform has been successful in reaching consumers and making connections,” said Dr. Kristen Walker, an associate professor in the CSUN Department of Marketing.

Marketing experts say the increase in digital advertising spending has to do with the increased amount of time consumers are spending on their mobile devices. eMarketer reports that adults in the US spend about two hours and 51 minutes on mobile devices each day.

“Google is already veering towards sites that are built for a mobile user,” said Apex Digital Media founder Dustin Peterson. “You’ll get a higher search ranking if you’re optimized for a user on their iPhone.”

Statistics show that Google accounts for about 45 percent of all digital advertising spending, but social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are growing.

Advertising experts say those social media platforms give advertising firms a way to connect with consumers. “If someone clicks on a link you can tell where that person came from,” Peterson said. “A lot of times you can cookie their browser and serve them follow-up messaging.”

A recent Gallup poll shows that 62 percent of people say viewing ads on social media does not influence their spending activities, but some marketing experts disagree.

“Consumers aren’t necessarily aware of how effective marketing can be,” Walker said. “Marketers can learn a lot about your interactions with people in your social media platform.”

Walker said digital marketing is going to get even more personal in the future.

“Consumers haven’t really figured out how many companies are gathering information about them and when they are gathering it,” Walker said.

“Because of the way that technology’s evolving,” Peterson said, ” I think everything’s going to be personalized based on your likes, and things that you said you had interest in; you can already kind of see it happening”.

The trick is going to be finding the balance between personalization and privacy.

“The White House just released a draft of the consumer privacy bill of rights,” Walker said, “and there’s some discussion as to where that’s going in the future.”


Moderator: Kelsey Ducklow

Producer: Brenda Garcia

Anchor: Teresa Arevalo

Reporters: Wahid Lodin, Gloria Star and Alexis Wadley

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Perfectly Imperfect

Beauty is a multi-billion dollar industry in this country, but there’s not much that’s beautiful about it.

With the mass media setting the standard for what is considered ‘beautiful’, more and more people end up believing they are in need of improvement.

Magazine covers and billboards feature sexy celebrities, musicians wear skimpy outfits, and television shows star thin and beautiful actors. Some experts believe these images have an impact on the most vulnerable audience, who is becoming younger and younger each year.

“Media know that our looks are our ultimate vulnerability, and they take advantage of that,” said Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a psychology professor at CSULA. “And they start with younger audiences every year.”

Fifth-graders told researchers at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute they were dissatisfied with their bodies after watching a music video by Britney Spears. Forty percent of the 10-year-olds said they have tried to lose weight.

“It starts young,” Durvasula said. “ And then it’s that sense of ‘I don’t measure up’ or ‘I’m not good enough’…It comes from a lot of different places, but the bottom line is that it can really go to the dark place of people doing some really dangerous things with food and eating behaviors.”

It’s not just the mainstream media perpetuating the idea of an ideal body type. Roughly half of the women in the U.S wear a size 14 or higher, but many retailers carry only sizes 14 and lower. Psychologists say this modern-day shunning of a particular group can lead to disordered eating.

“Whether that’s from a message they were told by their family or their culture, or whether that’s from media images, it’s an issue of socialization,” said Dr. Veronica Stotts, coordinator for the Joint Advocates on Disordered Eating at CSUN. “It’s a misrepresentation of how we’re supposed to measure our worth; that it’s not about our brains, it’s about how we look, and we’re taught that from an extremely young age.”

Ninety percent of those diagnosed with an eating disorder are between the ages of 12 and 25, according to The Center for Mental Health Services.

“Women have learned to use food for everything but what it’s designed for,” Durvasula said. “Most women a long time ago stopped listening to themselves. Instead what they listened to is other people, (about) how they should look, how they should eat, that they should live to please.”

Durvasula is a former over-eater, and the author of “You Are WHY You Eat: Change Your Food Attitude, Change Your Life”.  She said the key to controlling disordered eating is learning to accept one’s body as it is.

“Body image is how a person sees oneself,” Durvasula said. “The core of an eating disorder is when a slim woman sees that she needs to lose weight when she doesn’t. It starts inside your mind, not the body.”

Dove’s Real Beauty campaign released a video in April portraying a sketch artist working on a drawing of a woman as she described herself, and then working on a sketch of that woman as described by someone else. The first sketch, based on the woman’s own description, shows someone older and plainer than the sketch based on another woman’s description. The campaign’s message was simple: women see themselves as less attractive than others do. Millions viewed the video on Youtube within days of its release.

Durvasala said young women and men must learn to celebrate their bodies and learn to love themselves the way they are. “I want you to enjoy that body you find yourself in,” she said. “It can be yoga, it can be hiking — something to show you that this thing is a beautifully engineered machine.  Grow to love it, take care of it, and nourish it with healthy things.”

“Focus on health,” Stott said. “Get enough sleep. Move your body. Eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full. Be in tune with what your body needs at any given moment, and just treat yourself well spiritually and emotionally, and your body will find exactly where it’s supposed to be.”


Moderator: Nattashia Arrango

Anchor: Ruben Saenz

Reporters: Tasnim Hanafy and Iuliia Vazhenina

Producers: Erika Yasuo and Malcolm Hoyle





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