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 »
PAC WILL TARGET INCUMBENTS
Sanders Acolytes Taking the Movement Local
23 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

"While Democrats nationwide have put the focus on President Trump, the Sanders wing of the party has engaged in an intramural fight to remake the party in a more populist, liberal mold." From Washington state to California to Florida, Sanders loyalists are making good on their promise to remake the party from the ground up. And just last week, a "group of former Sanders campaign aides launched a super PAC with the explicit goal of mounting primary challenges to Democratic incumbents."

Source:
THANKS TO MILITARY ROLE
McMaster Requires Congressional Approval
36 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

Congress will need to vote on Donald Trump's pick of Lt. General H.R. McMaster to be his next national security adviser, but not for the reason you think. The position of NSA doesn't require Senate approval, but since McMaster currently holds a three-star military position, Congress will need to vote to allow him to keep his position instead of forcing him to drop one star and become a Major General, which could potentially affect his pension.

Source:
THE QUESTION
How Many Signatures Has the Petition for Trump’s Tax Returns Received?
4 hours ago
THE ANSWER

More than 1 million, setting a record. More than 100,000 signatures triggers an official White House response.

Source:
SENT LETTERS TO A DOZEN ORGANIZATIONS
Senate Intel Looks to Preserve Records of Russian Interference
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate Intelligence Committee is seeking to ensure that records related to Russia’s alleged intervention in the 2016 U.S. elections are preserved as it begins investigating that country’s ties to the Trump team. The panel sent more than a dozen letters to 'organizations, agencies and officials' on Friday, asking them to preserve materials related to the congressional investigation, according to a Senate aide, who was not authorized to comment publicly. The Senate Intelligence Committee is spearheading the most comprehensive probe on Capitol Hill of Russia’s alleged activities in the elections."

Source:
MORE COOPERATION WITH LOCAL AUTHORITIES
Deportation, Detention Rules Released
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Memos issued by the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday night "implemented sweeping changes to the way immigration policy is enforced, making clear that millions of people living illegally in the U.S. are now subject to deportation and pushing authorities to fast-track the removal of many of them. ... The policy calls for enlisting local authorities to enforce immigration law, jailing more people while they wait for their hearings and trying to send border crossers back to Mexico to await proceedings, even if they aren’t Mexican."

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