opines

Stats Regarding Gender Representation in Literature

Article:

Gender in Twentieth-Century Children’s Books

Summary:

Compared to females, males are represented nearly twice as often in titles and 1.6 times as often as central characters. By no measure in any book series (i.e., Caldecott award winners, Little Golden Books, and books listed in the Children’s Catalog) are females represented more frequently than males. We argue that these disparities are evidence of symbolic annihilation and have implications for children’s understandings of gender.

Lady Woolthief’s Take:

Lady Woolthief is a woman of many hats (pun definitely intended), and she’s about to put on an important new one: Auntie. All of the wonderful things she will share with her nieces or nephews (that’s right, more than one) immediately flood Lady Woolthief’s mind. Tea time, Pink Stuff (yum!), costumes, hats! And books, so many books! But as the article linked above points out, Lady Woolthief’s beloved books and other forms of media play a profound role in diminishing the confidence of young girls.

Imagine you’re a child, soaking up the world around you like a dry sponge thirsty for knowledge. You read about all the limitless adventures boys can have. The males in your stories are fascinating and flawed. Some are intelligent and others hilarious. Some are athletes and others favor art. They reach audiences far and wide. On the other hand, we have wonderful diverse females like Pippy Longstocking, Bloody Jack, and Elena of Avalor, but stories with strong female protagonists are harder to find, and most books led by males are devoid of supporting female characters altogether. You start to wonder, before you’re even old enough to write, if boys aren’t just better than girls.

Conclusion:

opines_gendermedia

Things need to change. Lady Woolthief wants her potential nieces to boast their achievements and fight hard to make their worlds better, not wait around for someone else to get the job done. She wants her potential nephews to know the power of female ambition and to value their partnership. But change doesn’t just happen. Consumers should vote with their dollars and show the publishers and producers of these stories that they want stronger female presence in entertainment as well as a stronger female presence in the workforce and leadership. Lady Woolthief has started her very own Girl Empowered Media Collection, and whether the new lambs are boys or girls, they will know that girls can do anything they put their minds to.

opines

Open Letters to Everyone Regarding the Student Loan Crisis

Articles:

Student Loan Giant Navient Sued by CFPB & Two States Over Alleged Illegal Practices

Student Debt Payback Far Worse Than Believed

How student loan servicers affect tens of millions of people

How This 29-Year-Old Paid Off $113,000 In Student Loans In 7 Years

Navient lawsuit: what student loan borrowers need to know

How FOMO Could Be Wrecking Your Student Loan Debt Burden

Loans ‘Designed to Fail’: States Say Navient Preyed on Students

Student Debt Giant Navient to Borrowers: You’re on Your Own

7 Smart Student Loan Repayment Strategies

Summary:

As the nation watches the student loan debt steadily rising above 1.3 trillion, new data was released on Friday indicating at least half of students have defaulted or failed to pay down at least $1 on their debt within seven years. There is no shortage of memes or Facebook commenters calling out who is to blame.

slmeme1

Is it the student’s fault? The university’s? The lender’s?

Lady Woolthief’s Take:

If 50% of a middle school English class failed, would it immediately be assumed all of those students were stupid? Or would it be worth a shot to look into the teacher’s effectiveness?

A combination of factors have created this toxic environment for students. Yes, students should pay back the money they borrowed. But… Interest rates are much too high. College is too expensive. Degrees are valued too much in the job market. And the lending practices of universities absolutely need reform.

“You don’t have a credit history, which is why the best interest rate you can get is 7%. It’ll be even less if you have a co-signer. Mom? Dad? Can you help them out? Oh, don’t worry. With the skills our program teaches, he’ll easily get a job and have it paid off in ten years. And even if that doesn’t quite work out, there’s plenty of repayment options. You can always consolidate.”

That’s what the student loan industry is built on, which is sad (and probably in a business-savvy way, smart). It’s also short-sighted. They’ll make trillions on millennials, but the rest of the economy is already suffering — check out the mortgage industry. Many millennials are too overwhelmed paying off student loans to put money away for retirement or even start families. Others have unfortunately given up ever paying off their student loans and have abandoned them.

slmeme3Who takes out a loan without the intention of paying it back? Pretty much no one, despite the perception. No college-bound 18-year-old wants to ruin their credit or declare bankruptcy before their adult life has really began. Most students take out loans with good intentions. But being smacked with a tremendous monthly bill that only seems to grow as interest accumulates gets to be too burdensome. Others are scraping by paying the minimum (for some, close to/over $1,000), while barely making an impression on the principal balance — they will be paying for their student loans into their forties and possibly fifties. At current interest rates, the lender could double their initial investment.

No matter who is responsible, something has to change for the next generation. Lenders and schools need to stop looking at students as cash cows before the entire system collapses.

slmeme4

Dear General Public,

There is plenty of blame to go around, so please, please stop pointing your finger solely at the (literally) poor 18 year-old kids who wanted a better life for themselves. They have their share of the responsibility and they are held accountable for that (even in bankruptcy, student loan debt is rarely discharged), but it is also the corporations handing out the money that are breaking the system. In the last few years, students have won several lawsuits against schools and lending companies over their predatory lending practices. Everyone knows schools over-inflate their success rates, job opportunities, and salary statistics to bait students into loans they could never afford. But that is nothing compared to the nefarious practices of outright lying to students about what their loan payment terms will be and covertly charging private student loans with higher interest rates to students who have not used up their federal loan resources yet. Schools are not looking out for the best interest of their students and that is a scary prospect for everyone.

Student loans are the only option for millions of students in an economy where janitor positions ask for at minimum a 2-year degree. Please take pity on these borrowers. Many of them are in over their heads. Imagine five years out of college, making a minimum payment of $900/month, on top of rent and other living expenses, and barely seeing a dent in your principal balance due to sky-high interest rates. That is not the dream their college financial counselor sold them on and it is beyond discouraging.

Dear Borrowers,

There’s no classy way to say it: this situation sucks the big one. However, predatory or not, you did take on the responsibility of the loan when you signed for it. Don’t hide from your debt — it’s not going to go away. There is a wealth of articles online both bemoaning loan companies (which will make you feel not so alone) and offering helpful tips about how to make your loan situation manageable. Educate yourself on options concerning federal versus private loans. Take advantage of the programs available to consolidate your federal loans into one, small monthly payment. It’s time consuming, but will save you thousands of dollars and a lot of stress. If you remain in good standing, most private lenders are now willing to work with you due to pressure from the public and the government. Sign up for income-based programs. Even if you aren’t in good standing, there are generally still options available. After all, paying something is better than nothing. Make sacrifices to pay off your loans. Live with roommates, don’t eat out every day, work extra hours. Cut your living expenses as much as possible until those loans are paid off.

Please don’t give up on your dream. It’s unbearable to think of those struggling under the weight of this debt who don’t even have the pay-off of working in the field for which they went to school. Keep fighting to make it worth it.

Dear United States Government,

Offer some relief — not a bail-out, just some relief.

Here’s an idea: raise the cap on what can be deducted off of taxes. $2,500 of student loan interest getting deducted sounds nice until you discover that you’ve paid well over $7,000 in student loan interest over the course of the year. The student loan deduction cap was instituted before this became a household crisis, and has not been raised since. With some student loans being as large as some mortgages, it’s beyond time the cap was raised. Further, get creative with incentivizing people to invest their tax refund back into the repayment of student loans. For instance, a program where the government matches any tax refund money paid toward student loans would encourage people to get their loans paid off faster.

Dear Employers,

It is so appreciated that you offer gainful employment, but please really consider if a degree is necessary before including it in a job description. If more good jobs didn’t require degrees, fewer students would feel obligated to take out loans to pay for college. It is a hard job market to navigate for someone without at least some college on their resume.

Dear Universities,

Cut your costs and make education affordable again. Leave general education to high schools, and consider opening up more 2-year trade schools so students are focused on the careers they are pursuing instead of spending money on mandatory classes they will never use. Stop with the predatory recruitment and lending practices. Seriously, stop.

Dear Private Lenders,

A plea.

You are important. You help bankroll kids’ college educations when they would never be able to afford it otherwise.

But please reflect on your business model. It is unsustainable and bad for the health of this nation. Make a buck on someone’s dream, but don’t multiply that by seven.

opines

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Trailer

Summary

Newt Scamander arrives in 1920’s New York with a suitcase full of magical creatures. Great with animals, but terrible at keeping an eye on his suitcase, several of Newt’s pets are unleashed and must be contained before the entire wizarding world is exposed to the already suspicious No-Maj..es (Lady Woolthief tried to Google the plural of this word to no avail – can it just be muggles?) of New York.

Lady Woolthief’s Take – Spoiler Free!

Like many, Lady Woolthief was skeptical about an adaptation of a 42-page textbook. After all, her favorite part of said textbook was the fun hand-written notations from Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the margins. It’s not that she didn’t have faith in her hero goddess favorite author, JK Rowling, but Lady Woolthief prefers to approach all things with a healthy dose of “hope for the best, expect the worse.”

With that said, Fantastic Beasts is everything Lady Woolthief hoped for. The balance between slap-your-knee humor and edge-of-your-seat drama is breathtaking. The creatures are infused with personality, so there’s never a dull moment when they’re on screen. Casting is spot-on. The villains are complex and intriguing. The protagonists are a likeable, well-rounded bunch.

Awkward and soft-spoken, Newt doesn’t truly come to life until he is surrounded by his creatures. He’s a completely different type of hero than Harry Potter. He’s not a leader, he’s not needlessly brave. He’s capable, but solely motivated by his love for his creatures and his desire to see them understood by his peers. Jacob (the comedic No-Maj), Tina (the disbarred Auror), and Queenie (the Legilimens) — all new acquaintances — finely round out the group of adventurers. Queenie, played by Alison Sudol, especially stands out as the candid, whimsical mind-reader.

Tonally, the story bounces between the fun of re-capturing Newt’s often hysterical creatures and a very dark sub-plot that explores witch-hunting. The subtext of that later plot line is pretty on-the-nose, especially given the current political climate. Lady Woolthief looks forward to the further exploration of these issues, most especially because the sequels are set to take place in different cities around the globe. Fantastic Beasts beautifully lays the groundwork for future conflicts, while investing in characters and creatures that will hopefully be enjoyed in the other installments.

Even though this could be considered a standalone story, hardly connected to Harry Potter aside from a few mentions of Hogwarts and some of its older residents, it might not translate well to those not already familiar with that universe. For fans, this is sure to be a delight.

Conclusion

While concerns about the ever-expanding wizarding world are completely valid, it continues to provide so many jobs, careers, and opportunities for people (ranging from graphic artists to roller-coaster operators), Lady Woolthief can’t object. She is still skeptical about Fantastic Beasts being expanded to a five-part series, but this first installment is fantastic (too much?). She intends to continue going into each movie hoping for the best while expecting the worst, but trusts if anyone can pull it off, it is her hero goddess favorite author, JK Rowling.

opines

Gender Stereotypes on Children’s Clothing

Video:

https://www.facebook.com/lollyanddoodlepage/videos/1053292641459040/

Summary:

8-year-old Daisy takes on the clothing industry when she notices a disparity between the mottoes on the “Girls” and “Boys” t-shirts. “It’s unfair because everyone thinks that girls should just be pretty and boys should just be adventurous,” she says. She rants on some very good points for a few minutes, before taking action and relocating some of the “Boys” t-shirts into the “Girls” section.

Lady Woolthief’s Take:

Kudos to the woman behind the camera for raising and encouraging this entirely impressive young lady! Too many children have not been taught to question this subtle form of sexism, and the fingerprints of it can be seen throughout their lives.

But… but… but…

“Girls love pink and sparkles! That’s a FACT!”

“What’s the big deal? She can just buy the boy’s shirt and be done with it.”

“My daughter likes those kinds of shirts! Are you insinuating that she’s stupid?”

*Lady Woolthief dramatically groans.*

There is nothing wrong with your daughter if she likes those shirts. As a matter of fact, there is nothing wrong with your son if he likes those shirts. The issue is that the shirts are gendered at all, and the message that sends to young girls and boys. Children’s t-shirts do not need to be sorted by size (as even the “why don’t they just purchase the boy’s shirt?” crowd admits), so they are only divided by the t-shirt’s message, which is far too often, “Girls like nail-polish! Boys like adventure!” People are blind if they can’t see the affect that can have on a child’s self-esteem.

Here are two stories (of hundreds) Lady Woolthief can vividly recall where a girl held herself back because she didn’t believe she was as capable as the boys:

  • Lady Woolthief once observed children (not in a creepy way) playing a game of tag-football in the park. The group was entirely made up of boys ages 6-10, with the exception of one girl on the edge of the field who was aching to get in on the action. She repeatedly took a few fidgety steps onto the field, reconsidered, and stepped back. Lady Woolthief approached her as authoritatively as a non-parental adult could and asked her if she wanted to play. The girl made up all manner of excuses about why she couldn’t go out there: she wasn’t good enough, they wouldn’t pass to her, she wasn’t sure of the rules (6-year-olds were running the game – there were no rules). To make matters worse, the girl’s father yelled at her that she was fine and to leave her brother alone. Lady Woolthief wanted to pop that man on the head with her sword cane.
  • Lady Woolthief’s very dear friend attended film school and often says she wishes she could do it again as a feminist. Straight out of high school, this friend was not accustomed to doing hard labor. She and her sisters had handled the “female chores” (i.e. laundry, vacuuming, dishes). Her brother had mowed the lawn, snow-shoveled the driveway, and changed the light bulbs. As a result, she almost always left the more technical set positions to her male classmates while she took on roles that didn’t require heavy-lifting. The film industry sadly suffers from a severe lack of diversity behind the scenes – not just in directors, writers, and editors, but in camera-operators, light electricians, and audio technicians. This friend’s education also suffered: her camera-work wasn’t as steady, her lighting wasn’t as bright, and her audio wasn’t as clear. She had to work hard after college to repair those deficiencies.

It may seem silly, but screwing in a few light-bulbs and pushing a lawn-mower can help girls realize they are capable of taking on those hands-on positions. Positive messaging on t-shirts can have an impact too.

 

Here’s an actual fact: Studies show a disproportionate amount of females lose interest in STEM subjects during middle school than their male counterparts. This episode of Girl Meets World handles the hows and whys of that sad reality. Lady Woolthief highly recommends looking it up. (Google: Girls Meets STEM, Disney Channel)

opines

Movie Micro-Teasers

Article

Movie Micro-Teasers: A Short History of Trailers to Promote… Longer Trailers

Summary

Where once movie studios released 90 second teaser trailers to ramp up excitement for full-length trailers, they are now releasing 15 second micro-teasers to ramp up excitement for teaser trailers.

Lady Woolthief’s Take

Those who feel teasers for teaser trailers are wholly superfluous and silly have a right to their feelings… especially because those feelings are right. However, superfluous and silly things can be a lot of fun. Teasers for teaser trailers whet the appetite of those fans anxious for a glimpse at a project they may have invested a lot of emotional energy in, while those who have little or no interest can easily ignore them. No harm done.

Lady Woolthief is far more perturbed by the trend of monetizing trailers, teaser trailers, and even teasers for teaser trailers on video sharing platforms. One should not have to sit through a commercial to watch what is, essentially, a commercial. That is an example of something superfluous and silly that is not fun.

Conclusion

Teasers for teaser trailers are stupid, but fun. Commercials on teasers for teaser trailers, teaser trailers, or good ole full-length trailers are bad form.