By Sunaina Sharma

For Sarah, Marianne and Veronica

Let's Flip

Let me give you a context for my questions. As a secondary teacher, I practice the concept of “flipped classroom.” This concept means that students do the textbook learning/reading at home and then we engage in a critical discussion in the classroom. The assumption is that all students have completed the readings so that the conversation can move beyond the reading(s) to connect to our world today. As such, my questions stem from the readings but allow you to move away from the readings to allow you to talk about our society today. You are welcome to make reference to the readings to prove a point or concept but don’t feel constrained by the readings. I encourage you to move beyond the readings so that we can engage in a “flipped” dialogue.

What Does Popular Culture Tell Us About Ourselves?

duCille posits that “Barbie as a cultural artifact may be able to tell us more about ourselves and our society” (p. 276). We often think of popular culture emerging from our society but it’s interesting to consider popular culture as a mirror of society. What does an examination of our current popular culture tell us about our current society?

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Is Barbie Really That Bad?

A short witty talk helps us see the independence and the many career choices Barbie has presented to young women over the last 50 years.;search%3Atag%3A%22tedxadelaidewomen%22

"Television directly reflects the moral, political, social and emotional needs base of our nation." (Lauren Zalaznick)

“Many elementary schools are entirely staffed by women and the majority of secondary school teachers are now women” ( This has created phenomena known as the “feminization of teaching.” Female teachers’ discourses indicate that women define being a teacher as fundamental to their identity – they work for children, not for the administration (Dalton, 2003, p. 88). Women historically weren’t considered human beings thus their “unmentionables” were literally removed from view (Dlton, 2003, p. 92). Today, women often need to deny their femaleness (Dalton, 2003, p. 98). It is suggested that “women are able to relate to their students on the basis of mutual powerlessness (Dalton, 2003, p. 94). In movies, women appear and men act suggesting that women are a token presence. “Good”” teachers are seen as an outsider and are often not well liked by colleagues. In addition, women are often portrayed as “pretty, young things” (Dalton, 2003, p. 91).

In light of what women teachers themselves say, how the movies represent women teachers and the feminization of teaching phenomena, what effect does all this have on today’s students?

We Know It's Bad For Us But...

Hickey (in Joyrich, 2005, p. 164) notes that television viewers “complain that a lot of the programs [on television] are trivial and/or stupid [but]… [we] spend more and more time watching them.” duCille mentions that Barbie is the “icon of true white womanhood and femininity” yet “Barbie’s genital ambiguity” suggests that women aren’t valued as symbolized by the fact that Barbie’s womanhood is literally erased (p. 269). Why does this paradox exist? We recognize that some popular culture can be described “as a parasite, a ‘cancerous growth” yet we still consume it (Joyrich, 2005, p. 166). Why?
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Social media is predominantly used by women. How will/does this change the way gender is portrayed on the social media website's homepages?