Hidden Figures

While reading the instructions for this assignment, the movie Hidden Figures was the first thing that popped into my mind because of how much self-worth and perseverance the women portray after constantly being shut down by men. After learning about the issues dealing with feminism, sexist gender roles and so on, I am much more aware of the gender inequality presented in movies that I would not have noticed before taking this class.

 Hidden Figures is a very fascinating and eye-opening movie that pushes the audience to realize that anything is possible no matter what color or gender you are. The setting of this movie was taken place in the 1960s when men had a great amount of power over women and in addition, women of color had no say at all. An insanely talented and intelligent colored women named Katherine Johnson was working for the company NASA with a team of women taking on the task as “human computers”, segregated from the rest of the company. The NASA Space Task group needed a human computer who was able to do analytic geometry and Katherine just so happened to be the perfect match. When Katherine entered her new work environment, she found herself in a room full of men who were shocked and confused to see a woman walk in, as if she mistakenly entered the wrong room. In no time, Katherine impressed the whole Space Task group by doing a math equation on the black board that no one had the guts to try and figure out.

As everyone was very impressed with her, she was still rejected from the board meetings and was not able to put her name on the mathematical reports because of the simple excuse that she is a woman. Once they no longer needed her because they were ready to launch the spaceship and her presence of doing math calculations was not useful anymore, they directed her back to where she was from the start, segregated from the NASA building. Before the spaceship was going to be launched into the orbit, the astronaut needed to make sure the landing and re-entry points were exact so that no mistakes were made while in the air. The only person he trusted to verify this important task was Katherine, so she was quickly brought back in. She did final calculations and had the final say on whether the spaceship was ready for take-off because she knew what she was doing more than any of the other men, and of course, she had all her numbers on point and they were ready for take-off.

There were a lot of comments and actions shown in the movie that showed the disrespect and inferiority that women had. As I already mentioned, Katherine was not allowed to join any of the business meetings because “there is no protocol for women attending the meetings” which is very unfair because what is said in the meetings is crucial for her to know. As well as when Katherine met a young man at a barbeque and told him where she works and what her position was, he was surprised because he thought “only a man can do that”. When Katherines section of the company had succeeded at their first launch around the earth and the boss applauded them, he said “thank you gentlemen” and everyone carried on without realizing that they are not only men and the word “gentlemen” is a said habit that should not have been used. When Mary, Katherines close friend, had mentioned that she wanted to be part of the group of engineers working at NASA, they unfortunately told her she had to finish her schooling at a high school that only accepted males and sadly, it was the only school that offered the specific classes that she needed. It was a very cruel time that they were living in because your achievements depended mostly on your gender and not whether you have the will power and intelligence. It is very aggravating and irritating to think that it is not because you are not good enough that you cannot accomplish something, but it is because you are a female.

My favorite part about this movie is the self-worth that these women have by speaking up when they thought something was unfair, no matter what the rules are. They fought and made sure that things were done correctly because gender should not be a reason for any decision. Katherine spoke her mind and gave it her all to prove that she should attend the business meetings until she was finally able to present herself at the meetings, which she was. When Mary was rejected from the high school because she was a female, she did not give up then and there, she brought her case up with the judge and before you knew it, she was one of the students at the engineering high school. These powerful women in the movie have such a positive effect on the females that feel like they are inferior or not “good enough” for people’s expectations.

Blog #4: Women’s Week

On Thursday March 5th, I attended an assembly where Nelly Bassily, the Director of the Youth Initiatives and International Relations at the Disabled Women’s Network, had the chance to share personal and societal issues dealing with the views people have on women with disabilities. Firstly, she discussed how, when thinking of disability, you may automatically imagine someone who cannot walk properly or someone who uses a wheelchair to help transport themselves. Many of us focus on the physical aspect of disability and completely disregard that you can have mental disabilities which is something that we should be more aware of.

As a woman who deals with depression herself, Nelly understands what disability is like on a personal level and can relate to many who deal with the same thing. She also expressed how people with a disability are often seen as “different” and are categorized as people who need extra attention or need to be treated with more care, which is absolutely wrong. Having a disability does not mean you have to feel bad for that individual or treat them differently because they are just like everyone else and should be treated as equally as the rest. 

As for myself, I learnt a lot about the difference between what people describe disability as and what it really is. I have also mistaken having a disability to someone who is in a wheelchair and after this assembly, my views have drastically changed and I have a better understanding of the whole topic. My friends and I admit that we viewed someone with a disability as different which is sad to say, but as of now, our understanding of it has enhanced and we are better informed of things that we were not fully conscious of before.

As a whole, Nelly’s presentation was very eye opening and made me realize that we should all be treated the same way and have equal amount of respect towards each other whether someone has a disability or not. Having a disability does not mean you are held back from doing certain things nor does it mean you should be felt bad for all the time. I would have liked the presenter to go more in depth about these issues and to know more about the stereotypes when it comes to someone with a disability but I did enjoy the assembly and would attend another one like this.

Blog #3: gender equity in Indigenous cultures

Indigenous and European cultures were very different when it came to gender relations. The indigenous lived based off of an egalitarian society where women were just as important as men and shared fairly essential everyday duties. The Indigenous are more open minded about premarital sexual intercourse and two-spirit individuals (person who identifies as both female and male). On the other hand, the Europeans believed that men had the upper hand in everything and were superior to all women. They had the mindset that women were inferior, therefor stayed home and did the bare minimum. Premarital sexual intercourse was not even spoken of because it was an inappropriate topic for Europeans that shouldn’t of even been thought of.

The Indigenous society is very similar to our contemporary Western culture because we share the appreciation of both women and male tasks that are completed daily. In both cultures, men and woman are very much needed to fulfill important tasks. In today’s society, as much as we think genders are finally seen as important figures, there are still defects when it comes to trying to keep the equality of genders while the indigenous never had these issues. In this case, we would share a similarity with the European culture where women are not getting enough recognition.

The Europeans were very amazed and shocked when they encountered the indigenous because of how clever they are to identify male and females as equally relevant as one another and see no reason to discriminate one gender from another. Over the recent years, I clearly realized that woman are taking a stand and proving their point across that both genders are just as equally needed in the work force, political world and so on…

Blog #1: Trying to define Feminism

Many people misconceive the meaning of feminism and create false assumptions of what a feminist is. Jessica Valenti and Bell Hooks both share the same opinion on what a feminist is; the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. They both have faith in the fact that feminists don’t need to have a specific appearance nor age restriction to fight for civil rights and fairness between men and women. People often associate being a feminist by fighting for anti-male which is the wrong message that both Hooks and Valenti and trying to shift in direction. While Valenti focuses mostly on her personal opinion and open-minded thoughts, Hooks keeps her message on a professional level and stays more on topic. 

After reading both eye-opening stories, I consider a feminist to be anything that makes you speak up for your right of equality. No matter if you are defending yourself in front of a large audience, a small group or even just one individual, if you are speaking up in regards to gender equality and equal rights, you are considered a feminist. Before informing myself with the data given in the stories, I thought a feminist couldn’t just be anyone and that they had to have some sort of importance (apart of feminist clubs, organizations etc…). After reading, I now know that a feminist is not directly placed in one category but can be anyone with a strong-minded personality who will voice their opinion on what they agree/disagree with when speaking of sexism.

Something that struck my attention in the story is when Jessica Valenti shared a story of when Wendy Wright claimed that “women are committing crimes because feminism has taught them that ‘women should not be dependent on others’ and that ‘they don’t need to be dependent on a husband’, which inevitably forces them to ‘fend for themselves’”. This is a false accusation and something that should never have been said. Clearly, people do not fully understand the definition of what a feminist is and assume the worst since it is naturally easy to speak badly of things.

After taking an extra step to learn about the authors, it makes me appreciate the texts more knowing the back story of Valenti and Hooks’ personal experiences.  It makes me feel as if I can connect to them more because of what they went through which makes the meaning of the stories more important and close to heart.

Blog #4: Christian Figueres

Christiana Figueres is an internationally recognized leader on climate change and was executive Secretary of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). She is currently Vice-Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, ClimateWorks Board Member, World Bank Climate Leader and Mission2020 Convenor. She started her career of as the  Minister Counselor at the Embassy of Costa Rica in Bonn, Germany in 1982 before she moved to the USA. Shortly after the failed global climate change Conference in Copenhagen, Christiana had a goal to reconstruct the global climate change negotiation operation leading to another big Conference which was held in Paris six years later. 

Christiana’s passion to have a voice in the action of climate change all started when she realized that species were becoming extinct because of our harsh behaviors. Christiana said, “I saw this species when I was a little girl, but when I had two little girls the species no longer existed”. The creature she was referring to was a golden toad which was once a very common animal in Costa Rica.

            Christiana has written many books about living in the climate crisis and is an amazing public speaker who speaks her voice no matter what people’s opinion. To this day, Christiana continues to influence and teach us about the importance of our environment and how to react appropriately when dealing with any situation that face us. Her passion to rebuild the damages that we have left in our environment is very inspiring because as a woman leader, she shows us that no matter the gender, we can take on such challenges that many of us would never even think of.

She is a very moving woman because of her positive outlook and strong attitude. We share the same belief that the word “impossible” is not a fact, but just an attitude. Moreover, her hardworking energy and fire inside of her that pushes her to succeed motivates me to carry on the same traits. Her creativity and inspirational imagination influences many of us to follow her point of view – that there is always a bright side when faced with a challenge. 

She is taking it upon herself to correct the path that 100 men could not accomplish. I find it extremely inspirational how she can command the attention of the world on a subject that is so critical and so urgent that no men have been able to attain her level of success in addressing climate change. It is so inspirational to me that someone is stepping up and taking charge to ensure a positive result for our future and for the future of the generations to come.

Blog #2 : Sexism in Rap Music

During the past few years, the industry of rap music has sky rocketed and there has become more and more of a following towards this type of music. Rap music carries a catchy beat and most of the time, expresses an individual’s feelings. Although this genre of music is widely known and enjoyed, it doesn’t hide the fact that it also delivers extremely inappropriate and degrading context towards women. Many rap songs, including the ones I listen to, give out a very harsh and humiliating message towards women which is trying to belittle and criticize their worth and individual capacities.

            The lyrics of these songs put an image on women, stating that they are vulnerable, fragile, dependant and follow whatever the men tell them to do or say. It has gotten to the point where the words said in certain songs can make many of us women feel uncomfortable and very disrespected. It seems that many rap artists categorize women as objects rather than opinionated human beings which is very wrong, yet nobody seems to take action on the arrogant comments expressed in the lyrics. In a post published in 2004, they present a certain part of the lyrics in one of Ludacris’ songs, that says “Move bitch get out the way, get out the way bitch, get out the way.” This language is way out of the boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed and on top of that, the lyrics previously shown is nothing close to the worst of what’s out there. 

            After analyzing many song lyrics, I recognized that male and women rappers both have completely different points that they are trying to put across to us listeners. Many women rappers such as Cardi B and Nicki Minaj have no interest in attacking or judging men but rather focus on empowering women and give them a voice where women didn’t have one originally.  By these women rappers speaking up, it opens a door to more female rappers who are trying to portray the same message.


Marissa Fata