Last week I finally got around to seeing “The Social Network” which my campus was screening at no cost to students. I sat down, one of two people in the small room, excited to be alone and seeing a movie I had been excited about for so long. Midway through I started to be irked by what I was seeing. Trying to brush it aside I focused on what was going on. But the more I tried to ignore the representation of women in the movie the more the problem rose to the surface. Why wasn’t I seeing a single positive portrayal? According to the movie women are strange, on the sideline, and/or psycho. Many scenes showcased the “stupid slut” archetype sometimes combining it with underage. Others showed females in a more positive light, if you consider barely present and barely paid attention to positive.
by Karon Jolna, Woodhull Alumna
Originally published in the Winter 2011 Issue of Ms. Magazine.
When women’s studies was created as a curriculum in universities across the U.S. in the late 1960s and early 1970s, “leadership”—the art and science of motivating and managing people and organizations was not considered a relevant topic. Why? Because women were mostly absent in leadership positions—from politics to business, from media to science, from higher education to nonprofit organizations.
Now, 40 years later, women have led the U.S. Department of State, the House of Representatives and major universities. Women serve on the Supreme Court, anchor the evening news and run businesses as never before. Yet only a handful of the more than 650 women’s studies programs at colleges and universities in the U.S. provide practical and theoretical knowledge necessary for the next generation to make a significant impact on their communities and world.
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But there were years of avoiding, ignoring my creative self. I want to tell you the story of them, in the hope that it may serve you in coming home to whatever love you’ve lost.
I got a lot of praise from parents and teachers about my writing when I was growing up. Except when I didn’t. Sometimes I had a teacher who didn’t like or “get” my writing style. Sometimes my work just went unnoticed.
What happened to me is what happens, I think, to a million of us when we are growing up. The work (dance, music, writing, sports, math, gymnastics, you name it) stops being about the work, and it becomes about the praise or criticism. The winning or losing. How we are received by the world.
Paradoxically, the more praise I received about my writing talent, the less confident I felt. (There is now fascinating research by Carol Dweck on how and why this is the case). The more I was applauded, the more pressure I felt to produce brilliant work. The more afraid I became of my writing not measuring up. When I didn’t get major praise, it felt like a dramatic failure. That my not being a “good writer” was finally being found out.
Originally posted to Barbaravictor.com on February 1st.
The Middle East is exploding. People want freedom. The young and old are tired of despotic rulers depriving them of human rights. They are fed up with corrupt institutions and stagnant political order.
The core problem within these countries in North Africa, the Gulf, and throughout the rest of the Arab world is the growing population of young men and women who are educated and ambitious, while unemployed, frustrated, resentful, and muzzled. The other problem, even more dire, is a misconception of freedom when the alternative to autocratic and repressive leaders are regimes controlled by extreme Islamic fundamentalists.
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.”
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.
Originally posted to www.barbaravictor.com on January 13th.
Back in the 1980s, during my first decade living in Paris, France, I remember the constant terror attacks that happened on an almost daily basis. At the time, I wrote that women walked into upscale shoe stores on the Champs Elysees, only to be carried out without legs. These attacks happened in department stores, government buildings, airports, airline offices, museums, restaurants, and every possible place imaginable where French nationals and tourists gathered on any normal day or evening. And, France wasn’t the only targeted country. American civilians and diplomats, as well as citizens of those countries or other visiting tourists were murdered in attacks in Italy, Pakistan, Greece, England, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Tunisia, Lebanon, Austria and many more. International airlines were not exempt as seen by attacks on KLM, TWA, El AL, Alitalia, Pan American, and many more. Back then, in the heyday of terror attacks, the perpetrators were known internationally by almost everyone who watched the news or read every caliber of magazine or newspaper. There was Abu Nidal who traveled the world and was even interviewed by journalists, their meetings immortalized by photographs that appeared with the stories. There was George Habash, Abu Abbas, Yasser Arafat, Abu Iyad, Abu Jihad, and countless others whose names have gone down in terrorist infamy. Believe it or not, all were accessible to the press and I remember spending many days with Abu Iyad and Abu Jihad at their provisional PLO headquarters in Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia.
*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.
by Lisa Hix, Woodhull Alumna
Originally posted to Yahoo’s 2010 Year In Review Blog on December 21st.
The last time bullying seized the national dialogue was in 1999, when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Colorado and killed 15 people, including themselves. The school massacre, the fourth deadliest in U.S. history, led the nation to look hard at the link between bullying and violent acts. More than a decade later, a surge of high-profile suicides in 2010 reveals that the bullying turf has spread online.
“Cyberbullying” was born from new technologies popular with post-millennial youth, including text messaging and social networking on sites like MySpace, Facebook, Formspring, and Twitter. The most recent data from the Cyberbullying Research Center, formed in 2004, shows that 20% of 12-to-18-year-olds now report being cyberbullied, but other surveys put that number closer to 43%. The stats are troubling, although CRC co-director Dr. Justin Patchin points out, “Much more traditional bullying still takes place than cyberbullying. As much as cyberbullying has been in the news, still more youth bully and are bullied in the old-fashioned ways.”
by Andrea Zak, Woodhull Alumna
Originally posted to her blog Andrea-Zak.com on December 21st.
The globalization of the world economy and the increased ease of relating to people via social technology, both domestically and internationally, has made interpersonal ties with digital contacts as seamless as real world relationships for Gen Y, changing our notion of community. Rachel Botsman, co-author of the newly published What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumerism, discussed some of the findings of her research in a TED talk earlier this year.
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