In case you were not aware – online extensions of some mainstream media publications have now created women-centric blogs or sub-journals. We’re not talking style section or tips for the home, but headlining news as it relates to women’s interests.
I find it fascinating, but how do we feel about this bifurcation? Should these headlines be on the front pages of the primary source of news instead of relegated to some kind of no-boys-allowed corner of the web? Maybe it is a way to reach women who need to be told that this news is for them, to get their attention, even if it is also covered elsewhere? Or, worst case scenario, are male editors disinterested in publishing news as it relates to us?
Why do you think this is happening? Do you have another solution? Do you know of more examples that I missed (below)?
In 1988 Gov. Ann Richards delivered what has become known as a landmark speech that (in spite of the set design and more particular references to the Bush administration) could almost be taken for a 2012 DNC key-note. As it turns out the 2012 DNC did have her daughter, Cecile Richards, speak. She delivers a shorter message but in a similar style and with a nod to her mother.
I found these women interesting to listen to, and how poignant the similarity of hot button topics of yesteryear to those of today!
Ok, some of you are going to feel that this is old news, but I thought it would be helpful to distill a few thoughts regarding Ms. Sandra Fluke. Let us begin by looking at a term that has been thrown around a lot, before we even get into the issue at hand:
Activist: An especially active, advocate for a cause…
Let it be noted that by this definition “Activist” carries no inherent liberal or negative connotation, only the implication that someone is fervently speaking up about something – though it may be a political topic – this term need not be taken as a negative or overtly liberal identifier. I, for one, would hope that many more voices, particularly women’s, from both conservative and liberal sectors would be amplified in advocacy for what they believe.
If you are not familiar with the goings-on of the trial early this year which sparked the controversy, particularly inflammatory between Ms. Fluke and Rush Limbaugh, the gist is that Ms. Fluke desired to give testimony in a trial that would determine the health coverage of women, particularly for students, and particularly at Georgetown University. The hot button issue was that of birth control/contraception. Let it also be noted here that birth control pills are not only marketed by their suppliers but also promoted by doctors to treat many more things than for the most obvious effect – which is to prevent pregnancy. However, conservative radio host, Rush Limbaugh, decided to report on the case in such a manner as to rail against Ms. Fluke as the very picture of a floozy.
It was Mr. Limbaugh, himself, who described her as a 23-year-old (implying naiveté) and a ‘slut’. I will spare you further details, which are readily available online. After his tirade was over Mr. Limbaugh was wholly judged as in the wrong by Georgetown staffers, politicians on both sides, as well as sponsors of his show – no matter their stance on which way they thought the ruling should go it was unanimously thought of as having gone too far. That being said, conservatives who wished to side with Limbaugh (because of their opinions on birth control) started to pick her apart, attacking things such as her age (I did not find anywhere that she claimed to be 23) and labeling her as an “activist” (which we already established as a term relating only to someone’s passion and not to the quality or correctness of their message).
Even if she (an old activist) was not the appropriate witness for this trial – she spoke out because there was no female voice adding to the conversation. A conversation which was to decide the health provisions for women, specifically without the opinions of women being expressed in the proceedings. The council was populated by clergymen and needed to consider the women they were effecting with this decision, but therein lies the challenge. Even if a church body decides that men are called to be in a position of leadership for the church as a whole, this can not be at the cost of the woman’s concerns. Also, it is worth noting that this trial was within a University setting where women were being educated – not in a private congregational setting. How much more so!
Within the conversation of health care, and women who are speaking up for those who ARE IN NEED OF AN ADVOCATE, I’ve come across Sister Simone Campbell and her Nuns on the Bus. The Sister has launched her own campagne with fellow nuns to teach people about the health care policy issues, as well as encourage those serving the disenfranchised along the way. Sister Simone has been labeled as having split with the Church but she maintains that she has “split on politics and NOT on faith”.
Both of the aforementioned women were asked to speak at the Democratic National Convention. I do not interpret this as a divisive act of campaign programming, rather I would hold that these women went where they were going to be listened to. Let me be frank, I am not a Democrat, I am not a Republican either, I am currently unaffiliated – though I had a Libertarian stint, and I do come from a conservative christian family – a white, middle class family. But I feel that I need to publicly stand with these two women (different as they are, yet both Advocates) and hope that my readers will consider the voices which they are listening to for the upcoming election – not just the nominees, but observe who has their ear as well. Do you hear your opinions being communicated? If not, that is a problem. If not – please comment below as a place where you CAN share your stance.
Observe whose voices the conventions amplified: Here is the RNC list, here is the DNC list.
And here is one more for the road, if you have the time.
*Annex information on approximate costs to control pregnancy or monitor fertility: Birth control pills, $50-$100 for one month dose
(not determined by frequency of intercourse) Condoms, $40-$50 for 30 (single use) Fertility Monitor, $200 for the monitor and $50 for a pack of 30 sticks
(daily use to monitor feminine cycle)
Also in development, anti-rape condom
So, some of you may have heard of this show on BRAVO called “Gallery Girls“? At first I thought it was going to be a clone of “A Work Of Art” which has its share of trumped up drama but ultimately gives real artists real exposure and critiques. Then, after seeing the promo videos and getting messages from various relatives suggesting it would be up my alley, I got the feeling it may be more along the lines of “The Devil Wears Prada” (catharsis for Personal Assistants everywhere). As it turns out, it’s more “GIRLS” than anything else (and appropriately titled) as immaturity dominates the editor’s cuts. It seams as though this show has more of the Jersey Shore in it than of a cast aspiring to gallerist stature.
What is most disturbing about this prime time event is that it is actually very difficult to get jobs in the arts. It is competitive, and to get a chance to succeed you really do need someone to give you a break – even for those with the most impeccable resume! Many professionals actually enter this field of work after having a career in business or higher degrees in art history, for example. The show acknowledges this challenge, but so far, rather than providing training and a program to refine the work of these women, it exploits their naiveté and watches while they struggle in the mire.
Particularly at this time right before the elections for the next US president when conversations regarding job creation and further training and education are hanging in the air, I find this show totally distasteful and untimely. Also, as a woman who is so thankful to have been given a good education and an opportunity to continue that education (in pursuit of not dissimilar career goals to some of the women in the show) I feel like banging my head against the wall when I behold the negative and downward-looking view in which they portray these women. I could name a dozen ladies who are on this career path who have more poise and wisdom – who are real WOMEN working hard in galleries whose lives and work deserve to be broadcast and applauded.
For a branch of our work force that is based on a history of expression, cultural preservation, philanthropy, and generally setting a tone for style – we as women need to demand better depictions of one another. We as Americans need to hold a more positive view of what that means for our identity or we will continue to be viewed on a global scale by these base versions of ourselves paraded around for vulgar amusement.
Here is a story of one who opted out of this media opportunity revealing the show for what it is – largely not about art. Let’s all opt-out of exploiting one another for cheap laughs, and congratulating ourselves that we are no longer 21, and that we feel more “together” than the depictions of these women. Go watch a documentary like “Who Does She Think She Is?” or “Miss Representation“. Remind yourself that there is not some strange underbelly of the United States where stupid people are bread for our amusement – it is through biased editing, over-indulgence of acting-out, or the lack of education that women end up looking this ridiculous, and you don’t have to take it!
I encourage you to watch both Ann and Michelle’s speeches (below). They are both charged with a strange task – imploring us to love the men that they love and do their best to inspire loyalty for their candidate-husbands.
Ann Romney, in an attempt to relate to the majority of American women, gets a little stuck on our relationships to each other as wives, mothers, even little sisters – proclaiming “I love you women”. But I have to agree with her critics in that she offers listeners little more than sisterly pillow talk that is just not as relatable as Michelle Obama‘s charges (with a comforting cadence) to not only trust her husband (as they both ask) but to do our own part! Inclusion is the name of the game and M makes us all feel like we can proudly pull some of the weight. In contrast to Michelle’s rallying invitation, it is hard to forget that Ann’s broader approach is more of a “leave it to the adults” one-way, guarded conversation.
Don’t get me wrong, I found Ann much warmer than I expected, but her giggling and the repetition of her main points – that she loves Mitt, etc. just did not do it for me. I just know there was much much more to her under the surface of that speech. The woman has had breast cancer and MS, multiple miscarriages, changed her religion, and raised 5 sons! If she was going for the women of America – candor to a degree she may have just not been comfortable with, might have served her better.
Call it a matter of taste, but Michelle also seems to take the whole thing more seriously on stage, with knowing mannerisms confirming that she has seen what it takes to get things done in the white house – while Ann epitomizes a dream of wife-hood that just isn’t even a real option for most American women today. Even if Ann and Mitt were the picture of what the contemporary woman was aspiring to, it is just unfortunate for the sake of their campagne that what they symbolize is a privilege that most voters won’t enjoy. Maybe they should have changed the topic all together from their own life – to look outward on the lives of others? At one point Ann mentions the joy of helping others when you are blessed with abundance – I think she could have drawn out this part of the speech as one of her more successful moments.
All this could be a wedge in the way of many women getting behind the Romneys as contemporary female voters (as a specific and powerful constituency) just do not identify with this Retro American Dream Team. It is great that Mitt was successful in business, and why wouldn’t Ann want to stay home with the kids? But this is not the case for the majority.
Particularly in light of Obama’s previous campaign, which worked tirelessly toward empowering those who were not historically taking advantage of their voice as voters, (the young, women, and minority voters) it seams that there is just no going back after that foundation was laid. Now that those constituents, who were once the minority, know what can happen when they show up to the poles – they have made even Texas into a swing state.
The more I have read about and listened to Ann Romney since her speech, the more I like her. So, no hard feelings – I just like Michelle’s husband more!
Ann – at the RNC
Michelle – last night at the DNC
Please feel free to comment, and God Bless the work of ALL government leaders who are trying their best to serve this nation!
Various court cases and media coverage have revealed to us how the internet can be a vehicle for some (even well-meaning) folks to go “too-far”, whether violations of privacy are determined a little too late, or web trolling goes out of control.
Recently there have been images circulating documenting an unqualified painter’s attempt at a restoration project for a small church. One popular meme combines the “botched” image of Christ with the text “I can pray to potato”, that, though seemingly humorous, references a chain of less amusing jokes. “I can count to potato” was a quip from the film “The Ringer” starring Johnny Knoxville as he is impersonating someone with down syndrome in an effort to get into character for a role he is reluctant to play on moral grounds. This line has since spawned many variations as a short-hand comment on the relative intelligence of various pop-cultural subjects.
Some of the derivative images may have nothing to do with DS, such as this LOTR pun, pictured above – which simply satiates the internet masses’ love for the absurd mixed with the nerd-ily familiar. But in light of the free-for-all use of this phrase as a vehicle for bullying, I find this a poignant moment to share how Johnny defends the dignity of disabled individuals in the clip below.
Let us remember when making images and constructing narratives that any joke or commentary is fair game in this MEME-stream, and can be reinterpreted and used however anonymous Photoshoppers may please. This is both the freedom and the downside to the web.
My own feminist self awareness was first awakened when listening to my mother relate her youthful life aspirations left unattained, and it was affirmed when watching films such as Mona Lisa Smile (historical fiction really gets to me). Now, as I wander the streets of SoHo and the Bowery, I can’t help but get caught up in a generation of the past. I imagine this is a similar feeling which some other girls get when they pass Tiffany’s up on Fifth Avenue with a cup of coffee in one hand and a danish or small clutch in the other (although my role models are historical, I admit they are still romanticized in my mind). As I look up at the stacked structure that houses Marcia Tucker’s New Museum there is no denying that the Women’s Liberation movement, and the women of that generation specifically, changed the thinking of un-numbered individuals who would follow.
As I linger, soon I am overcome by a sinking feeling. That awe-inspiring generation is slipping through our fingertips – retiring, aging, fading away. They are leaving us in a world they helped to re-create and guide with wisdom and gumption that seems somewhat fleeting. In recent years our generation has seen Wall Street occupied, and the plight of Children that are invisibly suffering brought to global Fame, but I have trouble seeing the headway being made in a localized or personal way. What is the true cultural challenge that we have been afraid to look in the face and address? What will define us for our children and grandchildren’s sake?
I fear that the relics of our generation will be little more than highly documented absurdities which served as a distraction from the vast amount of neediness that we are over exposed to. I am not only referring to individual emotional neediness (though it is a reality which is often exposed by web-based lifestyles) but also a kind of meta-neediness – the awareness of the world’s tenuous nature. Looking back on the era of the Vietnam War, a horrible time for humanity, there were people working hard to uncover injustices, and there was civilian confrontation with problems as they were exposed. Other than the occasional Kick-starter what do we support now?
“War” may not be waging on women (in the kind of critical sense by which I think of it) but if all my existence amounts to as a female of my generation is a Facebook page with some flattering images (documenting inaction), a blog sharing intellectual musings (which do not inspire), some Pinterest boards (exemplifying a mere sampling of main stream trends)… what real good have I done?
This is why I am dedicating my Polyvore account to Great Women, and to the pursuit of what Feminism looks like now in light of the aesthetic landscape of contemporary femininity. Nay, Feminism doesn’t seem the right word any more… this is a look at contemporary Womanhood and what that will mean for myself and for the future. It is a small gesture, but I hope it will inspire at least one other girl, who may only be worried about picking out a new nail color, to think further about what her aspirations are for herself.