To Change How We Look at Women, Change How We Look at Men

Sheryl Sandberg’s new photo partnership aimed at depicting women in more empowering ways features a lot of men. Men with Baby Bjorns, that is.

National Journal
Lucia Graves
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Lucia Graves
Feb. 11, 2014, midnight

Any blog­gers who’ve ever tried to pair a stock photo with a story know the lim­its of the genre. There’s the cheery wo­man serving her blond chil­dren break­fast in a sun­lit kit­chen; the wo­man in a black power suit, climb­ing the cold stone steps of ca­reer­ism; the wo­man at her desk jug­gling a baby and a laptop, maybe also a spat­ula.

Fem­in­ist blog­gers have en­joyed pok­ing fun at these hack­neyed im­ages for quite a while now (think Edith Zi­m­mer­man’s “Wo­men Laugh­ing Alone With Salad” clas­sic in The Hair­pin or Emily Shor­n­ick’s com­pil­a­tion of pseudo-fem­in­ist stock pho­tos in The Cut). Now it’s reached the at­ten­tion of people in­clined to do something about it.

On Monday, Sheryl Sand­berg’s or­gan­iz­a­tion, Lean­In.org, an­nounced a part­ner­ship with Getty Im­ages, one of the biggest pro­viders of stock pho­tos, aimed at de­pict­ing wo­men in more em­power­ing ways. “When we see im­ages of wo­men and girls and men, they of­ten fall in­to the ste­reo­types that we’re try­ing to over­come, and you can’t be what you can’t see,” Sand­berg told the The New York Times. (Note: Getty provides most of the ed­it­or­i­al pho­tos used by Na­tion­al Journ­al.)

There are 2,500 pho­tos in the col­lec­tion and a lot of at­ten­tion has been paid to the wo­men who’ve been por­trayed as sol­diers, paint­ers, and weight lift­ers, tat­tooed and wrinkled and covered in sweat. But just as im­port­ant to the pro­ject, and so far largely ig­nored, is the role of men. One photo por­trays a dad with his daugh­ter thrown over his shoulder un­der a leafy green can­opy; an­oth­er shows a fath­er skew­er­ing a roas­ted marsh­mal­low to help his daugh­ter make a s’more; a third shows a fath­er lift­ing an ad­mit­tedly dis­gruntled baby in­to the air and kiss­ing her fat cheek; a fourth shows a dad chan­ging his kid’s di­aper.

It’s the visu­al co­rol­lary to what The New Re­pub­lic‘s Marc Tracy de­scribed in his piece about the rise of the so-called “Daddy Wars,” wherein men be­gin to ex­pose them­selves to the same work/life bal­ance pres­sures wo­men have been grap­pling with for dec­ades. We see it in the found­ing of Kind­ling Quarterly — a journ­al de­voted to the sub­ject of fath­er­hood foun­ded by two Brook­lyn­ite thirty-somethings — which was sub­sequently writ­ten up as a “Talk of the Town” sub­ject. We see it in Es­quire in Richard Dorment’s re­sponse to Anne-Mar­ie Slaughter’s “Can Wo­men Have It All” clas­sic: “Why Men Still Can’t Have It All.” And now … we see it in stock pho­tos.

“One of the quick­est ways to make people think dif­fer­ently about something is to change the visu­als around it,” Cindy Gal­lop, who star­ted the United States branch of Bartle Bogle Hegarty ad­vert­ising agency, told The New York Times. “The thing about these im­ages is they work on an un­con­scious level to re­in­force what people think people should be like.”

This won’t stop people from writ­ing ter­rible think pieces about wheth­er wo­men can work and have kids and not be ro­bots or evil-power Smurfs who crush men un­der their pointy heels. But at least the au­thors of those stor­ies (and oth­ers!) will have some bet­ter pho­tos to choose from.

What We're Following See More »
BUT IS HE A YES VOTE?
Cornyn Attempting to Get McCain Back for Health Vote
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
“TIME HAD RUN OUT” FOR ILL BABY
Charlie Gard’s Parents End Legal Fight
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A lawyer representing Chris Gard and Connie Yates told the High Court 'time had run out' for the baby. Mr. Gard said it meant his 'sweet, gorgeous, innocent little boy' will not reach his first birthday on 4 August. 'To let our beautiful little Charlie go' is 'the hardest thing we'll ever have to do,' his mother said. Charlie's parents said they made the decision because a US doctor had told them it was now too late to give Charlie nucleoside therapy.

Source:
AGENCY SOUGHT TO DELAY IMPLEMENTATION
11 States Sue EPA Over Chemical Rule
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Eleven states have sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its June decision to delay implementation of a chemical safety rule" until 2019. "The state attorneys general, led by New York’s Eric Schneiderman (D), argue the rule is important for 'protecting our workers, first-responders and communities from chemical accidents' and should be allowed to take affect as planned by the Obama administration’s EPA.

Source:
ULTIMATUM ON ACA
Trump: You’re With Us Or Against Us
2 hours ago
THE LATEST
$1.6 BILLION SET ASIDE FOR WALL
House Freedom Caucus Chair: Shutdown Over Wall Funding Unlikely
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) on Monday said that funding for President Trump's controversial border wall is unlikely to cause a government shutdown. 'The odds of a government shutdown are very minimal when it comes to that,' the conservative lawmaker said at an event in Washington, D.C. 'I do think the funding of the border wall will happen,' he added. Appropriators have set aside $1.6 billion to fund new wall and fencing sections on parts of the U.S.-Mexico border covering a few dozen miles."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login