Roxane Gay at a speaking event in Montreal

Roxane Gay’s “Not That Bad” Shines a Light on the Pain Rape Culture Causes in Daily Life

Note: This is not a sponsored post. I purchased a copy of Roxane Gay’s “Not that Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture” with my own funds.

What rape survivor hasn’t said their experience “wasn’t that bad”?

Not compared to what we hear on the news. Or what we see in the movies. Or how it’s played out on TV.

But that’s because we’re taught very specific things about what rape looks like. We’re taught only certain types of people get raped. It’s drilled into us that putting ourselves in certain situations will “get us” raped. And if any other act makes us feel violated, it isn’t rape.

After all, rape is just a part of life. And if we “get” raped (rather than “are raped”), it’s our fault.

And if we speak out about being raped? We risk ruining the lives of our rapists, and we just can’t have that, now can we?

Roxane Gay’s “Not That Bad”

The cover of Roxane Gay's book

That’s why the title of Roxane Gay’s anthology “Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture” speaks volumes about how rape culture affects victims of rape and sexual assault. As contributor Stacey May Fowles put it, “[t]here is this impossible paradox when you are victimized by sexual assault. You want to — you have to — convince yourself that it wasn’t ‘that bad’ in order to have any hope of healing… On the other hand, you need to convince others it was ‘bad enough’ to get the help and support you need to do that healing.”

Roxane Gay’s anthology is a collection of first-person essays from a variety of excellent contributors, including some names you might recognize, such as actors Ally Sheedy and Gabrielle Union. I’ll admit, my faith in Roxane Gay wavered slightly when I first dove into the collection. As I read first-hand accounts of rape and sexual assault, I worried that this book was really just rape porn in disguise, an accidental anthology of erotica for those who are sexually stimulated by non-consensual violence.

But Roxane came through. Nearly all of the essays that include first-hand accounts of sexual violence don’t actually describe the violent events themselves. And if they do offer details, the details are sparse and fast. The essays focus on what’s important: the impact of the violence on the survivors.

After all, survivors don’t owe the world the details of their traumas. Contributor Zoe Medeiros says it perfectly: “[o]ther people do not get to tell me what my experience means, or where they would like to place me in their pantheon of suffering… No one gets to rake over the details of my life and determine if they think what happened to me was bad enough for me to have earned my scars, my limitations, my superpowers.”

“No one gets to rake over the details of my life and determine if they think what happened to me was bad enough for me to have earned my scars, my limitations, my superpowers.” — Zoe Medeiros

“Not That Bad” isn’t an opportunity to rubberneck and judge other people’s suffering. It’s a chance to get a glimpse of how rape culture truly impacts the people around us.

A Place to Show It Is That Bad

Roxane’s original intention behind putting together this collection wasn’t actually about telling survivor stories. She says in the book’s introduction that she “wanted to assemble a collection of essays about rape culture — some reportage, some personal essays, writing that engaged with the idea of rape culture, what it means to live in a world where the phrase ‘rape culture’ exists… What is it like to live in a culture where it often seems like it is a question of when, not if, a woman will encounter some kind of sexual violence? What is it like for men to navigate this culture whether they are indifferent to rape culture or working to end it or contributing to it in ways significant or small?”

“What is it like to live in a culture where it often seems like it is a question of when, not if, a woman will encounter some kind of sexual violence?” — Roxane Gay

But the original concept for the anthology morphed into something very, very different once essay submissions started rolling in, and Roxane says she had to “give way to what the book clearly needed to be — a place for people to give voice to their experiences, a place for people to share how bad this all is, a place for people to identify the ways they have been marked by rape culture.”

And that’s what “Not That Bad” is. It’s not just a collection of rape survivor stories; it’s a collection that illustrates the pain and suffering rape culture causes in daily life.

The Faces of Rape Culture

The people affected by rape culture are diverse and many, and “Not That Bad” attempts to explore as many of those experiences within the bounds of a 339-page book. Those faces run the spectrum of age, gender and sexuality. Remember: there’s no one-size-fits-all rape victim. Why? Because it’s never about the victim. It’s about the perpetrator and their pursuit of power through sexual violence.

Some of the contributors experienced sexual violence directly, and many discuss the lasting effects of the trauma. Miriam Zoila Pérez says in her essay “Not That Loud” that “[r]ape interferes with how my partners and I can experience joy and connection even with incredibly loving, supportive, and nonnormative relationships.”

In her essay “The Life Ruiner,” Nora Salem reflects on what her life could have been like had she never experienced sexual violence: “I have a sense that there might be endless lives I haven’t and couldn’t live: the girl without my fears or nightmares, the girl for whom trust is not an impressive feat, the girl who can stand to live in her own skin without ever knowing that the ability to do so is a blessing.”

Some of the contributors love people who have experienced sexual violence, and they’re struggling to maintain family relationships and build intimate partnerships. Lyz Lenz’s essay “All the Angry Women” discusses her experiences trying to protect her sister from the man who abused her. She says of her anger and the anger of other women in the face of rape culture that “[t]he anger of men is a powerful enough tide to swing an election. But the anger of women? That has no place in government, so it has to flood the streets.”

Others are trying to help people who have experienced sexual violence. Michelle Chen says in her essay “Bodies Against Borders,” quoting human rights lawyer Elvira Gordillo, that “migrants ‘know the price to pay for getting to the United States … is being sexually violated.'” Chen goes on to say that “[r]ape is integral to the cultures of war, colonization, and forced displacement that have turned gender oppression and sexual violence into a global currency of desperation.”

“Migrants ‘know the price to pay for getting to the United States … is being sexually violated’ … Rape is integral to the cultures of war, colonization, and forced displacement that have turned gender oppression and sexual violence into a global currency of desperation.” — Michelle Chen

These stories aren’t rare. And that’s exactly the problem.

Listening to the Voices of Rape Culture

Rape culture isn’t “fake news” made up by feminists because they hate men. I’m choking a little that I even wrote that sentence. But even in 2018, I still hear people who deny rape culture exists. Unfortunately, “rape culture” has become a piece of feminist jargon that makes people plug their ears and pinch their eyes shut at first mention of it because anything that comes from feminists is most certainly radical and crazy and just way too extreme.

“Not That Bad” contributor Elissa Bassist says “… to mention certain things, like ‘patriarchy,’ is to be dubbed a ‘feminazi,’ which discourages its mention, and whatever goes unmentioned gets a pass, a pass that condones what it isn’t nice to mention, lest we come off as reactionary or shrill.”

“To mention certain things, like ‘patriarchy,’ is to be dubbed a ‘feminazi,’ which discourages its mention, and whatever goes unmentioned gets a pass, a pass that condones what it isn’t nice to mention, lest we come off as reactionary or shrill.” — Elissa Bassist

In other words, mention certain words, and you’ll instantly be silenced because you’re just an angry shrew. But we have to talk about rape culture. We have to talk about how the patriarchal structure of our society and toxic masculinity contribute to rape culture. We have to talk about how rape culture affects everyone, not just straight, cisgender women.

Because it is that bad. And unless we do something about it, nothing is going to change.

Featured image via Eva Blue on Flickr

White woman sitting wheelchair fans out several Lunapads in her hand

Lunapads Selects Mika Doyle as New Writer for Period Positivity Blog

Lunapads logoReusable menstrual product company Lunapads has selected Mika Doyle as a new writer for the brand’s blog. Doyle will write monthly blog posts for the Lunapads’ audience that focus on bringing new energy, positivity and inclusivity to the period conversation.

“We chose Mika because she is not only a great writer, she’s committed to the deep work of intersectionality and feminism,” says Jane Hope, marketing and communications manager for Lunapads. “Her deep knowledge means that she brings ideas to the table that resonate deeply with our audience and help us in our mission of manifesting greater inclusion.”

Doyle is well-known for her writing in the intersectional feminism space. She has published several articles in Bitch Media discussing rape culture and more inclusive health and wellness options for all genders. She has also published several articles in The Good Men Project discussing the need for gender neutral toys and better access to STEM toys for all genders.

“I’m so thrilled to work with Lunapads,” says Doyle. “As I began to build my writing and editing business, it was important to me to work for businesses that share my values of gender equity and intersectional feminism. Not only does Lunapads offer a great product that helps people reduce their carbon footprint, they give back to people in need through their One4Her program and advocate for intersectional feminism in everything they do.”

Doyle’s first post for Lunapads published in late May and explored the lack of inclusivity in Menstrual Hygiene Day. Read it here: Menstrual Hygiene: More Than a Day and More Than Just for Women.

Her next post will publish later this month on the Lunapads blog at https://lunapads.com/blogs/all. You can also watch for her posts by connecting with Lunapads on Facebook and Twitter or connecting with Doyle on Twitter.

About Lunapads

Lunapads is a women-owned, mission-driven business based in Vancouver, Canada, that provides reusable menstrual products to people of all genders. The company’s mission is to help Lunapads’ customers have healthier and more positive experiences of their period and of their bodies overall. Lunapads works to build an organization reflective of their values of transparency, authenticity, inclusivity, sustainability and body positivity. For more information, visit https://lunapads.com/.

About Mika Doyle

Mika Doyle is a professional writer with more than 10 years of experience in writing, marketing, communications and public relations. Her writing has appeared in Bitch Media, The Good Men Project, Role/Reboot and Everyday Feminism (under a pseudonym). She provides professional writing and editing services to companies, organizations and publications. For more information or to hire Mika for an upcoming project, visit https://mikadoyle.com/.

Marchers hold up signs at the Women's March Chicago 2017

Illinois Finally Ratified the Equal Rights Amendment

It’s a bittersweet day to be an Illinoisan. On Wednesday night, more than 45 years after it was approved by Congress, Illinois finally voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. We’re now only a single state away from the ERA becoming a part of the US Constitution.

Obviously, it’s something worth celebrating, but it didn’t happen without a long and arduous fight.

The Women’s March Chicago said in a news release that “…this final push to move the ERA forward did not happen overnight. The massive mobilization of support in both 2017 and 2018 at women’s marches has paved the way for incredible enthusiasm and collaboration of new and seasoned activists on both a state and national level. We’ve witnessed this in the formation of groups like Indivisible, the resurgence of encouraging and empowering women to run for office, and the emergence of movements such as #MeToo and #ILSayNoMore.”

This is true. I witnessed the sudden surge of people who wanted to get involved through social media groups, marches and rallies. Locally, I connected with some of those people in my own city and helped mobilize them so we’d have a strong presence at the Chicago Women’s March.

I was one of the many marchers who flooded the streets of Chicago in my regrettably non-inclusive pussy hat during the inaugural Women’s March.

And the march is on! #womensmarch #womensmarchchicago #womensmarchchi

A post shared by Mika Doyle (@msmikadoyle) on

Those early days were a powerful time. Was this a new wave of feminism? Was real change actually on the horizon?

But, mostly, I share the sentiments of Democratic Rep. Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego, who was quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying, “I am appalled and embarrassed that the state of Illinois has not [ratified the ERA] earlier.”

What took us so long, Illinois? Why were we nearly dead-last on the list of states to ratify? Was Phyllis Schlafly really that powerful? Were our politics really that corrupt?

Honestly, I’ve felt an edge of bitterness since that first Women’s March in Chicago, one that many underrepresented women (i.e. anyone who isn’t white and middle/upper-class) will recognize. You see, women of color, the LGTBQ+ communities, we’ve all been fighting for equality for longer than we can remember. Then suddenly Trump gets elected, and white women get scared, and they remember men have the ability to take their rights away. So they suddenly decide to pick the mantle up again as if they’re doing something brave.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m encouraged to see Illinois finally ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. I’m encouraged to see people flood the streets across the globe to fight for equal rights.

But don’t get it twisted; this fight’s been going on a long time. And every time white women get involved, they need reminding that there are intersections of oppression. The Lavender Menace. Womanism. Shall I go on?

The oppressive veil of White Feminism began to rear its ugly head right here in my hometown as soon as the Women’s Marches began.

So, yes, let’s celebrate this victory for Illinois. But let’s also recognize that it took Illinois all the way until 2018 to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Let’s hope all of these new faces who have suddenly decided equal rights are worth fighting for continue to fight even when those intersections of oppression no longer apply to them.

Smartphone and cup of coffee on table

Professional Freelance Writers Get Vulnerable During First Writers Worth Month Twitter Chat

Last week a group of professional freelance writers gathered on twitter and had a refreshingly vulnerable discussion about fear. Who’s experienced it at any point during their freelance writing careers? How has it impacted their freelancing careers? Has it ever stopped them? Has it ever helped them? Oh, and there was even a little talk of the zombie apocalypse thrown in. (Hey, we’re writers. You can’t expect us not to get a little dramatic.)

The questions were heavy-hitting, but the writers participating in the chat stepped up to meet every single one. Even more amazing? There was no shaming. Only validation and support; commiseration and respect.

The twitter chat was lead by Lori Widmer and Paula Hendrickson as a part of Writers Worth Month, which takes place every May.

A Twitter Chat on Writing Fears

To introduce the Writers Worth Month twitter chat, Lori told participants that we would be examining our fears and how they impact our freelance writing careers.

Lori Widmer tells WWMchat participants we'll be examining our fears

Question #1: Who Has Experienced Fear?

Lori and Paula didn’t tip-toe around the hard questions. They dove right in with the very first question, which was asking for a show of hands of who has experienced fear in their freelancing careers.

Lori asked who has experienced fear in freelance writing

“Hands” began flying up through likes, retweets and responses, including my own.

All Freelance Writing raises hand during Writers Worth Month twitter chat

Life with Teens raises hand during Writers Worth Month twitter chat

Sharon Hurley Hall raises her hand during the Writers Worth Month twitter chat

YP Finance Writer raises her hand during the Writers Worth Month twitter chat

Mika Doyle raises hand during Writers Worth Month twitter chat

Question #2: What’s the Biggest Fear You’ve Faced?

Lori quickly thew up the next question, asking participants what was the biggest fear they’ve faced during their careers so far?

Lori asks what is the biggest fear writers have faced during the Writers Worth Month Twitter Chat

Responses were wide-ranging. Some writers feared leaving the stability of a salaried income and facing the feeling of loss by leaving what they’ve built in the corporate world. Some feared they wouldn’t be able to make enough money freelancing and were overwhelmed by the costs of health care in the U.S. Others were afraid people wouldn’t pay them to write and wondered if they were running their business “right.” And then there’s the age-old fear of putting their writing out there in the first place.

Mary Diamond discusses her biggest fears during the Writers Worth Month Twitter chat

Mika Doyle discusses her biggest fears during the Writers Worth Month Twitter chat

Sharon Hurley Hall discusses her biggest fears during the Writers Worth Month Twitter chat

Each of these responses led to really great side discussions, but Sharon Hurley Hall’s response in particular generated great perspectives on what it means to run a freelancing business “correctly.” The writers asked each other if there really are right and wrong ways to run a freelancing business, so I’d highly recommend checking out that part of the chat.

Question #3: Has Your Fear Ever Stopped You?

Paula jumped in at this point and asked participants if anyone had ever let their fear stop them from pursuing a writing opportunity.

Paula Hendrickson asks if anyone has let fear stop them from taking a writing opportunity during the Writers Worth Month Twitter chat

Jenn Mattern of All Freelance Writing says early on in her writing career she passed up on an opportunity to work with a member of a major band who was launching a solo project, which she said seemed “stupid then” and even “more so now” since she had been writing for years at that point and had a music PR background.

Mary Henning (Life With Teens) and Lori Widmer both had some near misses. Mary almost didn’t revise an article for “Cricket” magazine that was originally intended for “Highlights” but was glad she did because it was her first sale as a professional writer. And Lori almost didn’t apply for a senior editor job, which she ended up getting, by the way.

All Freelance Writing discussed a job she passed up during the Writers Worth Month Twitter Chat

Life with Teens discusses a near missed job during the Writers Worth Month Twitter Chat

Lori mentions a job she almost didn't take during the Writers Worth Month Twitter Chat

Question #4: How Has Fear Helped You?

Now this is a powerful question. Lori asked writers if fear hasn’t stopped them, how has it helped them? That’s such a great question for pretty much any aspect of life.

Lori asks how fear has helped writers during the Writers Worth Month twitter chat

Most writers said they found fear motivational; it gave them the strength to push themselves just a little bit harder. Fear is like fuel for most of these writers. Rather than wallow in it, they drink it in and power themselves up on it.

Writers Worth Month twitter chat how fears have stopped writers

Writers Worth Month twitter chat writers fears

Mika Doyle explains how fear motivates her during the Writers Worth Month twitter chat

Lori Widmer responds to Mika Doyle during the Writers Worth Month Twitter Chat

Question #5: What Value Does Fear Bring to Your Writing Career?

Paula then expounded on that question and asked writers specifically what value fear brings to their writing careers.

Paula Hendrickson asks freelance writers the value of fear

The message I heard from most of these writers is much of what we heard earlier: fear keeps freelance writers driven. But it also helps writers maintain a fine balance between humility and confidence, something that ultimately helps them charge appropriate rates for the services they provide. In other words: it helps them know their worth. For me, that was an unexpected outcome.

Freelance writers offer the value fear brings to their careers

Freelance writer Lori Widmer offers her take on the value of fear

Freelance writer Mika Doyle offers her response to the value of fear on her career

Freelance writer Sharon Hurley Hall offers the value of fear to her writing career

Question #6: What Types of Fears Do You Face in Your Writing Career?

At this point, Paula took us from the macro right down to the gritty specifics we each face every single day by asking us exactly what types of fears we face in our writing careers and if some are harder to handle than others.

Freelance writer Paula Hendrickson asks what types of fears writers face

Yolander Prinzel is the only writer who answered this question because her response led to a fantastic discussion about how writers deal with feelings of inadequacy or impostor syndrome. She says, “This is a hard one. I think inadequacy is my biggest. Is my style good enough. Is my knowledge deep enough? Is my ability to communicate sophisticated enough? etc etc.” The writers in the twitter chat rallied around her, validating her experience and discussing the line between insecurity and truly being unqualified for a project.

Freelance writer Yolander Prinzel discusses the types of fears she faces

The discussion resulted in my absolute favorite quote of the chat: “Writers are the oddest combination of ego, self-loathing, confidence, insecurity, fear and anger.” Well spoken, Yolander.

Freelance writer Yolander Prinzel delivers Mika's favorite quote of the Twitter chat

Question #7: How Would You Define a Fearless Writer?

Lori wrapped up the twitter chat with what felt like a really hopeful and inspiring question: How would you define a fearless writer?

Freelance writer Lori Widmer asks how to define a fearless writer

These writers did not disappoint. Not a single one attempted to say, “here’s the key to fearlessness.” No, these writers dropped their truth bombs and all essentially said you’re going to feel fear as a writer. What matters is what you do with that fear.

My favorite response to Lori’s question on how to define a fearless writer? Yolander’s concise but brutally honest “fictional.” Mic drop.

Freelance writer Paula Hendrickson defines a fearless writer

Freelance writer Mary Henning defines a fearless writer

Freelance writer Lori Widmer defines a fearless writer

Yolander Prinzel defines a fearless writer

There was so much more to this twitter chat than what I was able to capture here, so I encourage you to search hashtag #WWMchat to check out all of the wonderful side conversations that organically flowed throughout the hour-long chat.

Join the Next Chat May 22

Did you miss the first Writers Worth Month twitter chat? Not to worry! Lori and Paula are hosting a second chat at noon ET Tuesday, May 22. Join the conversation using hashtag #WWMchat!

What’s Writers Worth Month?

Writers Worth Month is an awareness event aimed at educating freelance writers on how to stop accepting low-paying work and to keep them from letting clients take advantage of them. It features blog posts penned by Lori and a variety of talented guest freelancers from a variety of backgrounds on Lori’s Words on the Page site, which offers resources to freelance writers.

Lori started Writers Worth as a single day on May 16, 2008, out of frustration for all of the writers’ posts she kept seeing defending low-paying, content-mill style jobs.

“I was angry because it was the prevailing message on the internet,” says Lori. “If you want to write, they were saying, you have to accept the garbage payments and the awful clients who don’t value what we do. I knew that it was a waste of time to try to educate the job posters; they didn’t care because some writer somewhere would be foolish enough to work for less than minimum wage. So if you can’t change the minds of those posting the jobs, why not try to empower the ones who felt like they needed to take those jobs? That’s how Writers Worth came to be.”

It was Paula who suggested Lori extend Writers Worth from a single day into a week, and then a week became a month, and Writers Worth Month was born.  This is the first year Lori has given the annual event a theme: fear.

“Everyone who agreed to guest post [for Writers Worth Month] got the same assignment, only … no one knew it but me,” says Lori. “And that was on purpose — I wanted to prove a point, actually. Too often, writers or wannabe writers will stop short of writing what they want because it’s already been done, and they don’t think they have anything to add. We all have a unique perspective, and that’s what I wanted timid writers to see.

“Another reason I did that was I wanted us to bond over the same thing. How could you not be more relaxed about starting a writing career if a successful writer is telling you about his or her fears? It’s empowering for us all to share our experiences, and a common experience we all have is fear.”

To make this year’s conversation about fear more interactive, Lori and Paula decided to host the first ever Writers Worth Twitter chat on May 8 using the hashtag #WWMchat.

To read all of the great content Lori and all of the other talented writers have put together for this year’s Writers Worth Month, make sure you head on over to Words on the Page and subscribe to get new posts in your inbox.

 

Otter Pops Brand Mascots

Gender and Race Representation in Brand Mascots Exacerbate Stereotypes and Biases, Says Geena Davis Institute on Media Study

The debate on positive gender and race representation in the media has been raging  for decades, but there’s one area that’s gotten very little attention: brand mascots. This week, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media released the findings of a study that looked at how brands depict gender and race through their mascots, and let’s just say their findings weren’t all that surprising.

What Do We Mean by Brand Mascots?

If you’re thinking Tony the Tiger or the Geico gekko, that’s one version of a brand mascot. But brand mascots can also be spokespeople, like the Old Spice “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” or the Pine Sol lady. According to the study, brand mascots take the form of “spokespeople or spokescreatures,” and these mascots “are vital to effective branding because they are the image that succinctly conveys the spirit of the brand.” Whether they are a person or a cartoon, they are essentially a visual representation of the brand.

Here are some brand mascots you might recognize:

 Spokesperson Spokescreature
Captain Morgan’s Captain Morgan Charmin’s Bear Family
KFC’s Colonel Sanders Cheetoh’s Chester Cheetoh
Fanta’s Fantanas Toys “R” Us’ Geoffrey the Giraffe
Allstate Insurance’s Mayhem Man Camel’s Joe Camel
Chiquita’s Miss Chiquita Green Giant’s Jolly Green Giant
Progressive’s Flo Pringles’ Julius Pringles
Aunt Jemima Michelin’s Michelin Man

How are Top Brands Representing Gender and Race?

Just like gender and race representation in movies, TV, ads and other forms of media, the way brands represent gender and race in their mascots can shape cultural beliefs, spread negative stereotypes and strengthen implicit biases. To determine exactly how brand mascots represent gender and race, the study researchers analyzed the brand mascot content of the 500 top-selling products in the U.S.

Gender Representation in Brand Mascots

The study found that male brand mascots outnumber female brand mascots 2 to 1 or 67 percent compared to 31 percent. The researchers identified only a very small sliver (1.5 percent) of mascots with androgynous features, but the study doesn’t touch on whether this is to represent a genderqueer audience. In fact, the study itself draws a hard line between genders, failing to address the gender spectrum entirely. This is a major failing on the part of the researchers, so the results presented here only reflect data from the standpoint of a gender binary, so these results must be taken with a major grain of salt.

Having said that, there wasn’t much difference in the settings in which the mascots were placed, but the study did find that gender stereotypes are alive and well for both male and female brand mascots.

  • 22.9 percent of female mascots are significantly less likely to possess authority or be commanding as male mascots (14.5 percent)
  • 4.1 percent of male mascots are likely to be depicted as threatening compared to only 1.5 percent of female mascots
  • 19.4 percent of female mascots are depicted as skinny or very skinny, while 11 percent of male mascots are depicted with unusually large muscles
  • Nearly one in 10 (8 percent) of female mascots are shown wearing sexually revealing clothing, while less than 1 percent of male mascots wear revealing clothing
  • 7.5 percent of female mascots are depicted as partially nude compared to only 0.3 percent of male mascots
  • 18.4 percent of male mascots are depicted as funny compared to only 2.6 percent of female mascots

What these stats show is that even with brand mascots, women are hyper-sexualized and valued for their bodies, while men are beefed up and valued for their aggressiveness. Gender roles are continually being emphasized at the grocery store, in TV commercials, in social media ads — anywhere these brands can spread their messages.

Race Representation in Brand Mascots

It doesn’t get much better when it comes to race representation. The implicit biases against people of color are really undeniable when you start to dive into the numbers. The study doesn’t give us a figure comparing white mascots to people of color as mascots, but it does give us other figures that are pretty compelling.

  • 28.1 percent of mascots of color are depicted cooking or preparing food compared to white mascots at only 10.6 percent
  • 8.4 percent of white mascots are depicted eating or drinking compared to 0 percent of mascots of color. That’s right. 0 percent.
  • A whopping 65.6 percent of mascots of color are represented as racial or ethnic stereotypes compared to only 2.8 percent of white mascots. Yikes.
  • 4.7 percent of mascots of color are portrayed as threatening compared to only 1.7 percent of white mascots
  • 27 percent of white mascots are depicted as commanding or as having authority compared to only 14.1 percent of mascots of color

You see what picture these stats paint, right? It’s not good. Mascots depicting people of color typically rely on racist stereotypes to market a product. It’s usually a person of color cooking, serving, working. And these depictions are everywhere, making the general public think it’s OK to portray people of color this way. But it’s not. It’s far from OK.

It’s time we do better.