The Role of Educated Women in Changing the Popular Culture “Successful” Female Images Looking for other role-models by Ligia Tomoiaga, Ph.D., Romania Definition of Women in the north of Romania, from a traditional point of view • The Romanian Transylvanian village – matriarchal pattern, with women powerful from all points of view: financial, social, owning property since immemorial times, making their own minds; the most important person in a family is the oldest woman • The Romanian towns and cities – since the 19th century women have been able to get a university degree: first woman lawyer, pilot, architect, etc. in Europe and the world; in between WWI and II most Transylvanian families living in towns, cities, but also villages had women members who got an academic degree • Communism forced women on the political scene, which was both a good thing, and a not so good one, as we witness today a lack of interest of women to get involved in politics NEVERTHELESS • due to television shows that promote only women with “ideal” bodies • due to glossy magazines that ‘speak’ only about plastic surgery and beauty products • due to propaganda of all kinds in the media that promotes only women who are in the show-business and have ‘dramatic’ lives • due to American movies that mostly reflect a life that looks for the spectacular, the adventurous, the luxurious, the dramatic • due to fashions that celebrate women who married with rich men and define themselves only in terms of such accomplishments • due to the fact that people in Romania are exposed to all consumerist dreams but have but little means to fulfill such ideals • due to a lack of proper education in using more of a personal filter in the way we judge such influences, These are the frightening percentages, reflecting results of our research (several questionnaires were answered in two years, all those who responded are or were students (1) • What is most important for you: being beautiful and having a good body, or being intelligent and having a good career good body good intelligence These are the frightening percentages, reflecting results of our research (several questionnaires were answered in two years, all those who responded are or were students (2) • What helps more in life: a good marriage or a good education marriage education These are the frightening percentages, reflecting results of our research (several questionnaires were answered in two years, all those who responded are or were students (3) • Should women be more involved in politics, equally to men? NO YES These are the frightening percentages, reflecting results of our research (several questionnaires were answered in two years, all those who responded are or were students (4) • Are men more intelligent than women? YES NO Other figures that say very much • 97% of our students’ educated mothers do not have any social or political activity • Less than 13% are aware of the importance of yearly medical check-ups • 76% of the educated mothers dedicate their time to raising their grandchildren, and nothing else • 64% spend no money on leisure activities, vacations and hobbies • 63% think that if their daughters do not marry, they are failures, even if they have good careers Suggested actions for AFU Romania, and in collaboration with UWE (1) 1. University courses on women’s issues – to inform students and help them form another outlook on such issues like women and their social role, fight against violence towards women, the importance of education, women’s health, raising political and social awareness. AFU members with expertise in these domain could come and help Romanian professors write courses. Universities in Romania could start offering these courses for free, as a volunteer activity on the part of the professors, but with credits from the Ministry of Education (if possible). Suggested actions for AFU Romania, and in collaboration with UWE (2) 2. Versions of such courses – to be offered to all types of schools ( in the cities and towns and in the country), to such institutions as the police, town halls, social services, hospitals, etc. They could be delivered as interactive course, for more success. Teachers and doctors in the country side (mostly women) should be involved. Suggested actions for AFU Romania, and in collaboration with UWE (3) 3. Romanian women politicians should be involved in this fight against the public display of women’s bodies in magazines, outside on the streets, in adverts and boards, during TV shows, as these are present in our children’s eyes wherever they look. Women politicians should join forces to stop such practices. Suggested actions for AFU Romania, and in collaboration with UWE (4) 4. Series of conferences should be organized, in which our organization could promote women whose lives and careers are inspirational: scientists and writers, politicians and social workers, artists and teachers, whose example can be used to replace the popular role-models. Such conferences can be organized in every public library, in every school, town hall, village house of culture. Getting to know real women, with real careers and lives, women who are accomplished, intelligent, and independent can have a great impact on young women’s minds. Suggested actions for AFU Romania, and in collaboration with UWE (5) 5. More exposure of real examples of accomplished women in the media. We should all concentrate and write articles about women, propose documentary materials, suggest interviews, starting from the local televisions and radio stations and going up to the public television, even commercial ones. Let us start our own glossy magazines, which could promote true models. Let us organize exhibitions and artistic events in which such women are shown and celebrated. Make them fashionable! Main directive: new members in our organization • In order that all of the above might happen, we should attract new members in our association. University professors, especially those who teach future teachers of all subjects ALREADY HAVE THE NETWORK. Let us use that network. Teachers come back for at least three exams in their careers to their alma mater. They could bring our message concerning the importance of education in-depth in our society, as they form the minds of the young generation in schools all over the country. This will bring to the so-much-wanted evolution in mentalities, and to a counter-balance to the overwhelming power of mass-media.