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Author Archive

24
May

(This post first appeared on my blog ReelGirl which rates kids’ media and products on girl empowerment)

Here’s Schwarzenegger’s take on single moms in 2001:

“The parents are the single most important influence on a child, followed by education and the peer group…The number of single parents in the U.S. has quadrupled since the ’60s, and there has also been an increase in violence and school shootings. All that stuff has increased largely because of a lack of parenting, and many households only have one biological parent — so many of them are fatherless. It really creates a big problem.”

An excellent speech on the importance of good parenting. Just one thing. Schwarzenegger should’ve made clear that this ‘big problem’ only applies when the dad is not a movie star. For those tragic cases, Schwarzenegger could say something like this:

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Category : Community Member Projects and Updates | Culture | Blog
16
May

Originally posted to my blog ReelGirl on May 14th.

Why write fiction?

I’ve always loved to, but I also felt like it didn’t matter as much. Writing about politics and culture is important. If you write about ‘issues,’ you can use your writing to change the world. Or try to. Making up stories might be fun but what’s the point?

Then I had three kids. Of course, I read my daughters stories, watch movies with them, and also, TV shows. I witness how the stories they listen to shape their imaginary play, how they dress, who their heroes are, the language they repeat, the art they make, and their own creative writing.

In her best-selling book Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Peggy Orenstein writes extensively about children’s brain development, how babies don’t come into the world with fully formed minds that we, parents, are just supposed to observe and discover. Their brains are constantly being formed, rapidly growing and changing as they take in language, pictures, adult reactions, and all kinds of stimuli. Neurons fire in reaction, neural pathways are formed, and connections are created, assimilating the outside world to create the internal one.

So I’ve got to wonder: How might kids’ brains (and then, of course, adult brains) be different if the stories they were exposed to weren’t so dramatically and predominantly shaped by men?

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Category : Community Member Projects and Updates | Culture | Media | Women | Blog
12
May

Originally posted to my blog ReelGirl on May 12th.

Sugar In My Bowl, edited by Erica Jong, is a collection of essays and short fiction about female sexuality by writers like Julie Klam, Fay Weldon, Jennifer Weiner, and many others including me. The book is coming out June 14, but you can preorder it on Amazon.

Sugar In My Bowl

Gail Collins, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, has a hilarious essay in the book that describes how her Catholic education warped her perceptions of sex.

She writes:”I was possibly one of the least sophisticated teenagers in the United States outside of Amish country, and although I knew the mechanics of how babies were made, I had not yet really come around to imagining that people actually did that kind of thing voluntarily.”

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Category : Community Member Projects and Updates | Culture | Women | Blog
11
Feb

Originally posted to ReelGirl on February 9th.

The grassroots women’s literary group VIDA just released some frightening statistics about gender bias in publishing.

The New York Review of Books has 462 male bylines to 79 female, about a 6-to-1 ratio.

The New Republic has 32 women to 160 men.

The Atlantic published 154 male bylines and 55 female.

The New Yorker reviewed 36 books by men and 9 by women.

Harper’s reviewed more than twice as many books by men as by women.

The New York Times Book Review had 1.5 men to 1 woman (438 compared to 295) and an authors-reviewed ratio of 1.9 to 1 (524 compared to 283).

VIDA’s report has ignited the blogosphere with many commentators wondering, as Patricia Cohen does in the New York Times: Why? “What the numbers don’t explain is whether men write more books (and book proposals) than women or whether they more frequently and aggressively ask magazine editors for assignments.”

But this isn’t an either/ or situation; women face challenges at both ends: publishers and editors are biased to think that men’s stories are the best and most important ones, deserving of publication and reviews; and, women writers, socialized to those same beliefs, agree and don’t try hard or often enough to get published.

This double-challenge doesn’t only affect women writers; it muzzles women’s voices across all media.

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Category : Community Member Projects and Updates | Culture | Fellows Media Watch | Women | Blog
9
Feb

Originally posted to SFGate.com on February  7th.

This is a new, daily feature at ReelGirl. It’s basically what I would put on the front page if I were the news editor of the world. (My husband came up with the title.)

From the New York Times: Disney is marketing to your womb. I’m not even going to give some snarky commentary here. This article speaks for itself. Read it and freak out.

From The New Republic on the literary glass ceiling: Why are most of the book reviews written about works by men? Depressing statistics here, both on women writers and literary gatekeepers such as editors of lit mags; when discrimination starts this early, women can’t ever catch up. Gatekeepers reply, they’re just looking for the best and most important works, gender doesn’t matter to them at all. Hopefully, this bummer of an article will inspire women to write and find a way to get their stories out there.

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Category : News | Blog
3
Feb

Originally posted to my blog Reel Girl and on SFGate.com on February 2nd.

Dear Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ),

Thank you for introducing bill HR 3 to make sure federal funding will only go towards abortions if the pregnancies resulted from ‘forcible’ rape and not just any old kind of rape.

Silly me! Before I saw your bill, I actually thought all rape was forcible. I even thought that’s what ‘rape’ meant.

But now, I understand what rape is! It’s like when a stranger comes out of the bushes and rapes you, right? It doesn’t apply to some slutty fourteen year old who seduces a forty year old guy. And it sure doesn’t include a loose woman who drank too much or let herself get drugged. She was probably flirting with the guy who had sex with her passed out body anyway.

I just thought you might want a know, there’s a petition out there against you and all of your good work. Here’s the link.

Don’t worry, I’ve started my own petition against Webster’s to at least get ‘statutory’ out of their definition and clarify this word once and for all.

Very truly yours,

Margot Magowan, Blogger, ReelGirl

Category : Community Member Projects and Updates | Women | Blog
20
Jan

Originally posted to my blog ReelGirl on January 20.

Lots of comments on my last post about Peggy Orenstein’s new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, and that no matter how no matter how hard parents try, girls and boys adamantly refuse to be nudged out of their prescribed (marketed!) gender roles.

Orenstein elaborates on this challenge in her book: right around ages 2 -3, kids begin to understand that there’s something called a ‘boy’ and something thing called a ‘girl ‘and that something important differentiates between them. The problem is, they’re not sure what that is. Orenstein writes, “The whole penis-vagina thing does not hold quite the same cachet among the wee ones as it does among us.”

Orenstein recounts a story about a kid, Jeremy, who wore his favorite barrettes to school and was taunted by another kid who said, “You’re a girl!”

Jeremy denied it, arguing that he had a penis and testicles. The classmate replied, “Everyone has a penis, only girls where barrettes.”

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Category : Community Member Projects and Updates | Culture | Media | Women | Blog
20
Jan
Originally posted to my blog ReelGirl on January 18th.

Thank you Peggy Orenstein for writing the brilliant book Cinderella Ate My Daughter. Every parent should read this new, excellent analysis of the ubiquitous princess kid-culture and its various mutations in the world of grown-up women.

Orenstein, a NY Times journalist, mom, and writer takes on and deconstructs two (so annoying!) messages every parent hears if she dares to challenge the monarchy of these frothy creatures.

Myth number one: we’re just giving girls what they want!

Orenstein responds with a brief history of marketing and information on child brain development– some major points paraphrased here:

Pink Children were not color-coded until early twentieth century. Before that, babies wore all white, because to get clothing clean, it had to be boiled. Boys and girls also used to all wear dresses. When nursery colors were introduced, pink was more masculine, a pastel version of the red, which was associated with strength. Blue was like the Virgin Mary and symbolized innocence, thus the girl color. When the color switched is vague. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Alice in Wonderland all wear blue. Sleeping Beauty’s gown was switched to pink to differentiate her from Cinderella.

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Category : Community Member Projects and Updates | Culture | Media | Women | Blog
4
Jan

Originally from Feministing.com’s January 3rd “What We Missed”

“One New Yorker subscriber is demanding her money back after a recent edition of the magazine only included two bylines by women, out of 76 pages of content. She plans to return every edition of the magazine that contains fewer than 5 female writers.”

Category : Fellows Media Watch | Women | Blog
29
Dec

*Featured in “Best Opinion” in The Week.com , Best of US and International Media

This post first appeared on my blog ReelGirl which rates kids’ media and products on girl empowerment

What do you tell your media saturated kids when they ask you if Santa is real?

I tell them how Santa can fold his body up, like a magical yogi, to wiggle down our chimney. I tell them which reindeer are the fastest, smartest, or strongest; what they all like to eat (cold, baby carrots and chocolate coins.)

In my stories, there are also girl reindeer, and Mrs. Claus is Sara, an artist who is famous throughout the North Pole for her animal portraiture.

My kids look adorable sucking it all up, mouths open, eyes wide, round cheeks; their faces are all circles. But while they are looking at me, mesmerized, asking a million more questions, sometimes I wonder about telling them such elaborate lies. What’s going to happen when they figure me out? How old they will be? Will they feel sad? Disillusioned? Will they ever take me seriously again?

I didn’t grow up believing any of this stuff so I don’t know. Probably, making it all up isn’t a big deal. Or maybe it is. Now I think, possibly, all these childhood myths serve a brilliant purpose: a gentle way for kids to learn well-intended parents are not always reliable sources of truth.

Category : Community Member Projects and Updates | Culture | Blog
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