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Gender at Play: A Discursive Analysis of Children and Gender Scripts Within Parents Magazine

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Parenting magazines within the U.S. have long been a source of comfort and information for parents. As evidenced by subscription numbers in the millions, parents’ desire for ‘expert’ advice on all aspects of child rearing make them prime consumers for

Parenting magazines within the U.S. have long been a source of comfort and information for parents. As evidenced by subscription numbers in the millions, parents’ desire for ‘expert’ advice on all aspects of child rearing make them prime consumers for the magazine industry. One study found that when parents seek advice, parenting magazines were second only to friends as a resource, and were consulted more often than professional resources such as doctors or health organizations (Koepke & Williams, 1989). Ultimately, the images and concepts parents retain from their exposure to parenting magazines are conveyed (explicitly or implicitly) to their children. At its very core, gender scripts serve as an institutionalized form of social control, or as Bem believes, “a basic organizing principle for every human culture” (1981). Further, researchers have elaborated, “gender inequalities and sex stereotypes hurt the majority of individuals by limiting their range of experiences, and thus their growth” (Spees & Zimmerman, 2002). This provides an absolute disservice to individuals and to our communities two fold, as gendered messages in parenting magazines can shape (or indeed limit) the experiences and perceptions of both parents and their children. The intention of this study is to examine the ways in which editorial content in Parents magazine has the potential to influence parents’ perception of gender in relation to their children and child rearing practices. It also seeks to explore how these gender messages have changed over the last ten years, as well as what these messages may be communicating to parents about their children. I aim to frame this discussion within a condensed review of literature that supports the importance and influence of parenting magazines in recent history. I will also consider how early on children display an understanding of gender and a few of the many ways gender typing may affect them in childhood and beyond. In this thesis, I approach this issue through the theory of socialization, in which I argue the magazine’s gender messages are communicated to parents, who then convey these messages to their children during childhood. However, this study acknowledges the importance of observing an issue from multiple standpoints and I believe that further research on this topic should be done from both a socialization and a social construction viewpoint. I will then critically analyze, through a feminist theoretical framework, gender implications found among the images and some of the accompanying text in Parents magazine in 2002 and 2012. Through this thesis, I argue that Parents magazine, through its editorial content, provides some unique spaces in which gender equality can be furthered, while it has also become more stereotyped and restricted within other areas in the last ten years.

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2012-12

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Apologia in German and Japanese Post-War Film: A Comparative Analysis of Exculpatory Discourses on the German and Japanese Military in World War II.

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In the sixty-seven years following the end of World War II, West Germany and Japan underwent a remarkable series of economic and social changes that irrevocably altered their respective ways of life. Formerly xenophobic, militaristic and highly socially stratified societies,

In the sixty-seven years following the end of World War II, West Germany and Japan underwent a remarkable series of economic and social changes that irrevocably altered their respective ways of life. Formerly xenophobic, militaristic and highly socially stratified societies, both emerged from the 20th Century as liberal, prosperous and free. Both made great strides well beyond the expectations of their occupiers, and rebounded from the overwhelming destruction of their national economies within a few short decades. While these changes have yielded dramatic results, the wartime period still looms large in their respective collective memories. Therefore, an ongoing and diverse dialectical process would engage the considerable popular, official, and intellectual energy of their post-war generations. In West Germany, the term Vergangenheitsbewältigung (VGB) emerged to describe a process of coming to terms with the past, while the Japanese chose kako no kokufuku to describe their similar historical sojourns. Although intellectuals of widely varying backgrounds in both nations made great strides toward making Japanese and German citizens cognizant of the roles that their militaries played in gruesome atrocities, popular cinematic productions served to reiterate older, discredited assertions of the fundamental honor and innocence of the average soldier, thereby nurturing a historically revisionist line of reasoning that continues to compete for public attention. All forms of media would play an important role in sustaining this “apologetic narrative,” and cinema, among the most popular and visible of these mediums, was not excluded from this. Indeed, films would play a unique recurring role, like rhetorical time capsules, in offering a sanitized historical image of Japanese and German soldiers that continues to endure in modern times. Nevertheless, even as West Germany and Japan regained their sovereignty and re-examined their pasts with ever greater resolution and insight, their respective film industries continued to “reset” the clock, and accentuated the visibility and relevancy of apologetic forces still in existence within both societies. However, it is important to note that, when speaking of “Germans” and “Japanese,” that they are not meant to be thought of as being uniformly of one mind or another. Rather, the use of these words is meant as convenient shorthand to refer to the dominant forces in Japanese and German civil society at any given time over the course of their respective post- war histories. Furthermore, references to “Germany” during the Cold War period are to be understood to mean the Federal Republic of Germany, rather than their socialist counterpart, the German Democratic Republic, a nation that undertook its own coming to terms with the past in an entirely distinct fashion.

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2012-12

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How Adults Assign Gender Labels to Infants in the Absence of Gender Stereotypical Cues

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It has been 30 years since research has tried to determine how adults decide if an infant is male or female (Seavey et al., 1975; Sidorowicz & Lunney, 1980), with research at that time indicating that participants tended to label

It has been 30 years since research has tried to determine how adults decide if an infant is male or female (Seavey et al., 1975; Sidorowicz & Lunney, 1980), with research at that time indicating that participants tended to label infants as male. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether adults today can identify infant gender above chance, and what tools adults use to assign gender labels to babies. I hypothesize that females, social science majors, students who frequently interact with children, and students who are very confident will all assign gender labels more accurately than their counterparts. I showed a video to University students featuring five sets of parents playing with their infants. The video featuring three male and two female babies was edited to remove any gender identifying information. Students were asked to guess whether each of the infants was male or female, and to explain how they came to that conclusion. One sample t-tests revealed that students overall were able to correctly identify infant gender significantly more than what would be expected due to chance for 4 out of 5 infants. The results did not support my hypothesis that social science majors or people who frequently interact with children are better at assigning gender labels. This study did find a significant correlation between confidence and accuracy. When asked to explain how participants assigned infant gender labels, I found a significant correlation between infant physical movement and correct students labeling the infant as male. There was also a significant relationship between parental voice being and participants labeling infants as female whether the infant was actually female or not. Unlike research from the late 1970's and early 1980's, college students today can accurately assign gender labels to infants. This suggests that either the conceptualization of gender in the U.S. culture has changed enough since previous research over 3 decades ago, that there is something about parent-baby play that helps people correctly identify infant gender, or both.

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2012-12

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Homonormativity in Children's Literature

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The front cover of Uncle What-Is-It is Coming to Visit, a 1993 children’s book by Michael-Willhoite, features two white children frightened by the hairy arm and upturned wrist of an unseen adult. The arm is clad in a frilly pink

The front cover of Uncle What-Is-It is Coming to Visit, a 1993 children’s book by Michael-Willhoite, features two white children frightened by the hairy arm and upturned wrist of an unseen adult. The arm is clad in a frilly pink and orange sleeve, and gaudy bracelets hang from the wrist. The plot hinges on the children’s uncertainty about an uncle they have yet to meet; they know he is gay but are unsure of what it means. Before their mother can explain, she is distracted by a kitchen mishap and the siblings turn to other neighborhood children for answers. They encounter a host of descriptions that terrify them: one neighbor describes gay people as “fags [and] queers [who] really want to be women.” He shows the children a newspaper clipping photo of “a large man dressed in a frilly dress [with] a turban piled high with fruit on his head,” an implicitly racialized caricature reminiscent of Latina style icon Carmen Miranda. Another neighbor describes gay people as “dressed up in black leather. Zippers and chains all over...Dark glasses [and] chaps” (Willhoite, 1993). After having nightmares of men with sinister expressions in tropical-themed drag and leather, the children are overjoyed to discover that their uncle seems “normal.” Relative to depictions of other gay people in the book, Uncle Brett is normal because he is nonthreatening—he is white with short, straight, brown hair; he wears a plain, blue, collared shirt and brown dress pants; he carries a brown briefcase; and he enjoys and excels at activities appropriate for his gender, like catch. Although the book seems to have an affirming message about accepting queer people, it sends a clear message about which queer people are to be feared by children and which are nonthreatening. Nonthreatening queers are those who seem most like people mainstream western society considers normal: people who conform to expected gender roles, who have a vested interest parenting, and who are white and middle-upper class. These nonthreatening queers are by far the most represented in queer-themed literature for children. Based on a survey of 68 children’s books with queer characters, this paper argues that the representation of queer identities in children’s literature upholds more than challenges heteronormativity. I will first address ways many of the books perpetuate gender normativity by problematizing young male characters’ gender-transgressing behavior, portraying queer adults with less threatening gender presentations, and upholding gender binarism; next, I will address how the majority of the books promote repro-narrativity by focusing on monogamous couples’ strong desires and concerted efforts to have/raise children; I will then address race and class and the way white and upper-middle class queer characters are overrepresented while non-white and lower-class queer characters are underrepresented or not represented at all.

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2012-12

Soul Force: Ideologies and Reactions to Civil Disobedience During the Indian Independence Movement

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This thesis explores the relationship between the ideological justification for civil disobedience in British India in the twentieth century and the contemporary responses to the nonviolent resistance. By evaluating the elements of preparation and reaction to the Champaran, Kheda, Rowlatt

This thesis explores the relationship between the ideological justification for civil disobedience in British India in the twentieth century and the contemporary responses to the nonviolent resistance. By evaluating the elements of preparation and reaction to the Champaran, Kheda, Rowlatt Hartal, Khilafat, Bardoli, Dandi, and Quit India satyagraha campaigns, an understanding of the goals and values of civil disobedience and noncooperation was established. By studying the intellectual works of Indian independence leaders, correspondence between British government officials, widely distributed newspapers (The Times of London, The Times of India, Young India, The Spectator, The Manchester Guardian, The New York Times, etc) and first hand participant accounts, I was able to see how the ideas of independence leaders translated into popular participation and policy reform. A wide range of opinions existed amongst British contemporaries ranging from the encouragement of the Indian agitators to a deep hatred of the resistance. In addition, this thesis possesses an accompanying historical comic book which chronicles one family's participation in the Dandi March of 1930. The creative project attempts to introduce audiences to a historical case study of non-violent resistance. Similar to how Mahatma Gandhi chose salt to represent the oppression of all Indians by the British, the Salt March of 1930 was selected as the topic of the comic book in order to introduce all audiences to the experiences of twentieth century satyagrahis. Mass civil disobedience continues to be used as a tool for political change around the world today. "Soul Force" studies the pioneering efforts in mass nonviolent resistance within colonial India.

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2016-12