ShareExchange, a local shop and business incubator, I had to make it a priority to go see it again.
And I'm so glad I did. I'd originally watched it at home, alone, and while that was an acceptable way to view it, seeing in a group of at least 40 women and girls of all ages (and a few guys), it was so much more empowering.
If you haven't seen this documentary yet, you absolutely must. I cannot do it justice by quoting it here.
The documentary starts with a naration of the filmmaker, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and her concerns about media images affecting girls and women, and how they would impact her infant daughter. She interviews other filmmakers and media critics, politicians, actors, celebrities, young adults, kids, and many others to give a thorough view of the various facets of how the media works and how it is broken. And how that creates a system that harms young women (and young men).
Through the 90 minutes of the film, the discussion covers the objectification of women, how self-objectification of young women impacts political agency, and will eventually "distract them from making a difference and becoming leaders."
I am impressed that Jennifer Siebel Newsom included interviews with various female political leaders and activists, from both parties. It was wonderful seeing Condaleeza Rice tell how she and Karen Hughes made a point to stress the importance of Title IX to President Bush when there was some push to change it.
It also does a good job of analyzing the tropes that are continually presented in television shows and movies: the woman looking for love, the Bitchy Boss who needs to be taken down a peg (and usually by a male), the Sex Object who is only there as a body prop, and the Action Hero, who seems to be empowered, but is still objectified and exists only for the male view -- the fighting fuck-toy. In fact, the Action Hero trope is especially damaging because it teaches young women that their path to power is through sex.
The lack of complex roles for women, especially women over the age of 40, is disheartening. At one point, Geena Davis (whom I adore) cites the statistic that between 1937 and 2005, there were only 13 female protagonists in animated movies, but only one wasn't looking for romance. In fact, in all movies, only 16% of protagonist are female. This is why I absolutely refuse to go see yet another mediocre movie about a boy/man doing something adventurous. I just can't support this shameful imbalance. I won't support it.
But before you think the documentary is all about depressing statistics, she also features stories of women working to counter the trend. In particular, while watching this the second time, I was struck by the Minute Mentoring program, set up to give young women access to successful women to get advice and support.
The importance of media literacy is given a good deal of attention. And, in the end, that's our most powerful tool to combat these terrible media images. As Sandra, the woman who organized this viewing, said, "If it's true you are the food that you eat, it's just as true that you are the media you consume."
All in all, this is well worth viewing. Check the Miss Representation website to see if there are screenings in your area.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
one-woman show portraying Molly Ivins, Part 1 and Part 2.
In the second part, she tells how when Molly Ivins was living in New York for cancer treatment, she was staying in her building. One day, she stepped into the elevator, and there was Molly Ivins and Ann Richards, and they conspired to get her to come back to Molly's apartment, where they regaled her with all kinds of funny stories.
I miss Molly Ivins, and wish we had her wit and wisdom during this silly season (election year).
|Red Hot Patriot star Kathleen Turner|
Photo by Mark Garvin
I miss Molly Ivins, and wish we had her wit and wisdom during this silly season (election year).
Sunday, January 29, 2012
If you know me, you know I'm a big Oprah fan. Heck, she was one of the first Self-Rescuing Princesses of the Week, last year when she ended her 25th season of the Oprah Winfrey Show, and launched her OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network).
Today is her 58th birthday, and I have to say that she continues to be a grand inspiration for me in all aspects of my life.
Sure, I'm never going to be anywhere near the fashion-forward woman she is. Heck, I only own a couple of dressy clothes and high heel shoes, which only get worn on very special occasions. But in terms of goal-setting and motivation, she's my go-to gal. I hear her voice telling me, "Live your best life" more often than I'd care to admit.
And watching a woman age gracefully and with purpose is so important to me as I hit my own mid-40s. I know that no matter what life sends me, I can still tackle it with poise and confidence, because I have so many wonderful role models going ahead of me.
Monday, January 23, 2012
I was thinking about who to feature in today's shout-out, and decided to do a quick birthday search on Wikipedia. When I came across the entry for Gertrude B. Elion, I was intrigued by her immigrant family story, and the fact that she was a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Medicine. And then I looked at the list of medicines she invented. She invented Acyclovir, which has been quite helpful in my life. See, at age 40, I developed shingles, and Acyclovir is the anti-viral used to treat it, as well as the other forms of herpes (like chicken pox and cold sores). So, clearly I needed to learn more about this amazing woman!
Her online Nobel Prize autobiography was a great place to start. She was a smart child who loved learning and had the grades to allow her to attend one of the free colleges in available at the time. After college, she had to search for a job during the Great Depression, where any laboratory jobs were already scarce, and generally only open to men. Eventually, she landed a position working in a lab that eventually helped her pay her way through graduate school in Chemistry. While studying for her Master's Degree at night, she taught high school Chemistry during the day. What amazing dedication to her goals!
After receiving her Master's Degree, at the beginning of World War 2, she worked as a lab assistant for a while, and eventually found a position working in a lab with Dr. Hitchings (also, pictured above), where he let her learn as much as she cared to, and she was able to come into her own.
While she was working with Dr. Hitchings, she was also working on her doctorate at night! Sadly, eventually, the university would no longer allow her to study part-time, and told her she would have to quit her laboratory job.
"I made what was then a critical decision in my life, to stay with my job and give up the pursuit of a doctorate. Years later, when I received three honorary doctorate degrees from George Washington University, Brown University and the University of Michigan, I decided that perhaps that decision had been the right one after all."Reading her autobiography, I get the sense that she always truly enjoyed her life in the lab, even if it was challenging. It almost feels as though it was the challenge that she enjoyed.
"Each series of studies was like a mystery story in that we were constantly trying to deduce what the microbiological results meant, with little biochemical information to help us."And she apparently received a great deal of pleasure knowing her research was helping people.
"When we began to see the results of our efforts in the form of new drugs which filled real medical needs and benefited patients in very visible ways, our feeling of reward was immeasurable."She was awarded many honors in her lifetime, including the National Medal of Science, and was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame. According to the Wikipedia entry for her, she even has her very own chapter in Tom Brokaw's book Greatest Generation.
In the meantime, I'd like to say how thankful I am that Gertrude Elion was born on January 23, 1918.
Happy Birthday, Gertrude!
Monday, January 16, 2012
Who were your childhood heroes? Who did you look to for inspiration and hope for your own future?
I grew up in the 70s, when the women around me were expanding their consciousnesses, pushing boundaries, and broadening the world of imagination and expectations for girls and young women.
One of the things I remembered was the talk about Billie Jean King and her Battle of the Sexes with Bobby Riggs. I was only 3 when it took place, but it had a lasting effect on how women in sports were treated. At least in my world. And, as such, she was always someone I could point to as doing what she wanted anyway, what needed to be done, even when the odds were against her, even when it was hard work, even when there was no guarantee of success.
So, when I saw an announcement saying Billie Jean King was coming to speak at the Charles M. Schultz Museum, I had to make a point to go hear her. I wasn't disappointed! She's on tour to promote her new book, Pressure is a Privilege.
She was asked to speak here because of her long-time friendship with Charles "Sparky" Schultz. She talked about her life experience, her challenges, her goals and inspirations. But she also spoke, with such kindness and love, about the time she spent chatting and playing tennis with the creator of so many great female comic characters.
The talk was held in the indoor tennis court that she and Sparky played tennis together. It was great walking into that space and seeing all the women and girls there to listen to this legend.
Before her interview, we got to see this clip, put together by Time, Inc. Great piece showing her impact. It brought tears to my eyes.
The talk itself was quite inspiring as well.
It was great to hear her talk about her early life, as a very active child. Her parents encouraged her to participate in any and all sports activities, regardless of whether she was any good at them. She talked about playing softball, basketball, and even girls' league football. She told about how, when she was 10 or so, her mother made her quit playing some of the more rough and tumble sports because she wanted her to "be a lady." In response to which she asked her mother, "What does that mean, 'be a lady?'" That got a lot of laughs from the audience.
In the 5th grade, her friend asked her if she wanted to play tennis. She didn't even know what tennis was. She was sold when her friend said, "You get to run, jump and hit a ball." Within weeks, she was practicing and taking instruction five days a week, and had the revelation that this was what she was supposed to do in her life. She was so excited, she announced it to her mother in the car on the way home from practice, "I'm going to be the number one tennis player in the world."
By the age of 12, she was playing matches in larger venues, and by the age of 15, she was already on the tour.
In college, she had to work two jobs to pay her way, even though male tennis stars were on full scholarship. If you ever needed a reminder of why Title IX is so important, just think of that. She said it was that realization that lead her to push for more equality in sports and in politics.
She was responsible for pushing for professional status for tennis players, and for trying to equalize the prize purses for male and female winners. When she started, the prizes for men championships was nearly 12 times as large as the prizes for the women. In fact, she said, even with all her hard effort, it wasn't until 2007 that both the men's and women's champions got the same amount.
She says she wasn't a born leader, but that because of her drive and determination, her friends often pushed her into that position. She would see a problem, and start talking to others about it, and eventually figure out that if something was going to change, she would "have to go do it."
When asked what she though was the important factor in her success, she credited her study of history. "The more you know about history, the more you know about yourself." She said it helped her to know where she came from, and where she was going, and what her role would be in the passing of the torch.
When asked what advice she had for others, and especially for youngsters starting out in life, she said, "Everyday, influence yourself and someone else." She stressed the importance of staying positive, even in the face of life's challenges. In fact, she specifically used the word "challenge" as opposed to "problem."
She also talked about the top three things one needs to be successful in life. She stressed the importance of cultivating a sense of curiosity and the importance of continuing to learn throughout life. She emphasized the impact of value of good relationships, and included in that the relationship with oneself, which this SRP can get behind! And she encouraged everyone to be a problem-solver in their daily life. Good advice for anyone.
Finally, she was asked what she thought was the most important thing for improving the future prospects for girls and young women, and she said that we needed to see more women in positions of power. She reiterated what feminists have been saying for years, "You have to see it to be it." As humans, we have a hard time imagining we can be or do anything until we see it. When we see a woman as a CEO, or a champion, or president, then we can dream about doing that too.
After the talk, we got to line up and spend a minute or two talking with her and getting a handshake. These girls were at the front of the line, and it was so awesome to see them talking with this legend from my own childhood. When asked what they aspired to in life, she leaned in close to hear them, and asked one girl to speak up so "we can hear it in your own voice." How cool is that?
I was too tongue-tied to say much, but had to at least shake her hand. She also gave me a fist bump too, which was pretty cool.
Friday, January 13, 2012
One of my goals for 2012 is to see as many female-centric movies as possible on their opening weekend, using my dollars to, hopefully, send a message to Hollywood that I'm willing to give them my money for good films about women who are interesting, complex, and inspiring.
So, I made it a point to get out to see The Iron Lady today, even though I had lots of work to do, and a house to get ready for a party this weekend. Oh, and a trip to the DMV. (I treated myself to a bag of popcorn to make up for that bit of nastiness.)
My initial thoughts on the movie are this: Meryl Streep is truly an acting goddess, and we should all worship her forever and ever. Any project she shows even the slightest bit of interest in should be immediately green-lighted.
But that doesn't really tell you anything about the movie, other than her performance alone is well worth the ticket price. You see her as Thatcher in her 30s and 40s as a Member of Parliment and Education Secretary, in her 60s and early-70s as Prime Minister, and again, today, in her 90s. Her portrayal of these different ages of a powerful woman is beautifully wrought. There were very few moments when I was aware I was watching Meryl Streep. Most of the time, I had no trouble believing it was actually Margaret Thatcher.
My more careful thoughts about the movie are a bit more complicated. It's not that I didn't enjoy the movie. I did. I liked the story. I liked the mixing of modern times in with history, and the mix of political with personal. I liked seeing the whole life of such a strong woman who influenced history. We see her as young woman starting out with passion and verve, and as a middle-aged woman learning how to appreciate her power and seeking to use it to actually do something in life.
But we also see her as an elderly, but still not frail, woman who is experiencing some flashbacks and hallucinations about her previous life. I found this method very comfortable. I enjoyed the interleaving of modern events and historic memories. It seemed very natural, and much more interesting than just a start-to-finish story.
I like that the writer didn't pull any punches when showing Mrs. Thatcher as politically-driven, but also didn't make this a political movie. Fans of Mrs. Thatcher may be disappointed that this isn't a film showing off her politics. Critics of Mrs. Thatcher can sit through every scene and not feel like throwing things at the screen.
And, yes, even all these years later, people are still quite divided about her as a politician.
I was born in 1970, and I came of age during the Reagan/Thatcher era. Although I am American, I was at least nominally aware of what was going on in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Fauklands, etc. I was never a fan of Mrs. Thatcher, as I have nearly always identified as a Progressive or Liberal. But I still admired her as a woman who led an important country, and opened doors for future women to enter politics and be taken seriously.
We get to see her entering the male world of British politics, and earning her place to lead it for 11 years. Whatever you think of what she did while there, she achieved a lot just by being there.
As entertainment, the movie falls a bit flat. I wonder how much context we should be able to infer, rather than be told directly. There are news clips showing the events of the day, but to someone not familiar with the history, it may be a bit confusing at times. The production team is from the UK, and I suspect that the writers were writing from a strictly British point of view, and didn't intend to give everyone a lesson in recent British history.
Which is a long way of saying if you're not familiar with the Thatcher years in Great Britain, it might be worthwhile to do a quick study of the issues before seeing the movie. But it isn't completely necessary.
Meryl Streep's performance will more than make up for any confusion you may have. I highly recommend seeing this movie, regardless of what you think of Mrs. Thatcher. Just seeing a woman who is that passionate, that driven, that strong, is inspiring. I may not agree with most of what she did, but I respect that she was able to do it.
First, I want to say I'm so very excited to see The Iron Lady tonight! I hope you're planning to see it yourself! You just know Meryl Streep is going to be amazing.
In fact, if you needed more evidence of actually HOW awesome Ms. Streep is, check out her visit with Ellen, where she explains why she donated her full salary from the movie to the Women's History Museum.
While we're on the subject of historical women, Two Nerdy History Girls has been running some great clips of Victorian women speaking on camera about their experiences. The latest is an interview with Princess Alice, Queen Victoria's granddaughter.
Going even further back in history, The Mary Sue shared a piece about Anna Morandi Manzolini, a 18th century artist who helped further scientific and medical understanding by creating realistic wax sculptures of human anatomy.
On a sad, modern note, Kathleen Edward, the Michigan girl dying of Huntington's disease, and whose strength in the face of horrific cyber bullying was an inspiration to many, has passed away. If you don't know the story, it's worth reading, here and here.
I just learned that my childhood heroine, Billie Jean King, will be in my neighborhood this weekend, speaking at the Charles Schultz Museum. I might just have to clear my schedule to go hear her speak!
And, lastly, I leave you with this little nugget of awesomeness: Awesome Women Rock reminds us, You're Never Too Old to Dance.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
I have to admit that when I first saw commercials for this movie last year, I was skeptical. I mean, it looked cute and happy-ending-ish, but it could have also been cheesy and trope-ish.
But I kept seeing it pop up on my radar, and when I saw it offered on my Netflix earlier this week, I decided to spend an afternoon watching it while I did some online work.
I was pleasantly surprised. I liked Becky Fuller, played by Rachel McAdams. She's cute. She's driven. She's a little clumsy and quite often easily-flustered. I can feel her passion for her job, her career goals, and her desire to make it work. I like that.
I like how she stands up to the extremely rude behavior of her new morning team, Colleen Peck, played by Diane Keaton, whom I adore, and Mike Pomeroy, played by Harrison Ford, who is still as handsome as ever. I like her gumption. I like her strength.
When she gets involved with the handsome guy from another branch of the network, we see her trying to balance the demands of her job against her personal life. It's not an easy balance. The network is pressuring her to get the ratings up, people call her all hours of the day, and she's required to practically babysit her staff. But you can tell, no matter how exasperated she gets, she loves it. She loves the excitement and the challenge.
But then her relationship starts to suffer. She can't sit through dinner without answering her phone or watching the news. It was cute at the beginning of the relationship, but now that they're serious, she's expected to be more available. That's reasonable, I guess, but the movie doesn't do a good-enough job, in my opinion, of showing her relationship and the damage her work is wrecking. It just seems like her beau is being a bit whiny. But, since it's a deal-breaker for him, and he's generally been such a good guy for her, I can see where she would want to consider changing for him. But she doesn't, until she gets a well-timed piece of advice from the until-now troublesome Mike Pomeroy, who, as it turns out, is pretty much the older, male version of her -- driven, career-centered, and lonely.
I can't say this film was great. It lagged at times, some of the scenes felt a bit flat. Some of the jokes were easy, and some of the relationships were shallow. But there were plenty of really funny scenes, and a fair number of heart-warming moments.
Does this movie pass the Self-Rescuing Princess bar? Yes. She's never forced into a stereotypical situation. She's tough, she's strong, but she's never crazy or shrill. She enjoys her relationship, but doesn't give up her career to save it. Any change she makes in her life is for herself, and not to make someone else happy. And, in the end, she finds a balance in her life that works.
It's not high art, but it's a enjoyable movie. Could it be better? Sure. Would I watch it again? Yes. Would I recommend it to others? Yes, with the understanding that it's not a perfect film.
Friday, January 6, 2012
One of my Google+ friends has a self-published book that looks quite intriguing: Pride and Prejudice and Curling Rocks. The Pride and Prejudice part caught my eye, and knowing a little about Andy's love of curling, I just had to buy a copy for my Kindle. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, because I'm so busy with all the books for my various book clubs. But I fully intend to read it soon!
Speaking of book clubs, as though I'm not bad enough about reading the entire book for my monthly in-person book club, I joined two online book clubs!
The first is the Women's Adventure Magazine book club. The current read is Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail, by Jennifer Pharr Davis. So far, it's an enjoyable read, and I'm already jonesing for a backpacking trip this summer.
The other online book club is the Geek Girls Book Club. The first book is Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, which should be quite entertaining. The Prince listened to the audio book last month and I heard him laughing out loud quite often.
Need something to entertain AND rock you? Check out FunnyNotSlutty.com's collection of 10 Women Who Rock Comedy.
LiveScience. com tells how 18th Century French female botanist, Jeanne Baret, was recently honored with the naming of a plant similar to one she discovered while traveling the world on a research vessel while posing as a man.
Wired.com had a great story about the first rollercoaster, supposedly invented by the ultimate Self-Rescuing
Did you know that there's such a thing as a Christmas Witch? Yeah, and she's cool! She comes to your house, cleans up, and leaves you a treat in your shoe!
And finally, I wanted to give a shout out to any of our princesses who are struggling with depression. You're not alone. We all have to fight that demon at times. I myself am just starting to come out of a dark hole myself. So it was really inspirational to read The Bloggess' posts this week, starting with her birthday post about her present to herself. I want a copy of that print myself.
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Or at least a bearable one. I'm looking forward to lots of great things for this blog in 2012. I hope you'll stick around.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
I saw this posted as a coming attraction on Starz back in December, and thought it might be a decent candidate for a SRPS movie night, so I recorded it. I didn't have high hopes for it because of its two star rating, and in general these types of movies are often a bit hokey and emotionally manipulative.
As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised. It's not high art by any means, but the story is compelling enough to overcome the mediocre writing. And it has Helen Hunt, whom I adore.
I remember hearing about Bethany Hamilton a couple of years ago when the attack first happened, and again when I saw her photo in a magazine after she started surfing again. But outside of those two instances, I hadn't really given her story much attention.
What I liked about the movie is the portrayal of her strong relationships with her family. Her dad, played by Dennis Quaid, pushes her, but not out of any kind of selfish reasons. He wants her to be happy on her own, no matter what she decides. And her mom, played by Helen Hunt, is caring and supportive without being overly protective. Both seem to genuinely support her in her quest to get back into surfing without burdening her with any of their own fears.
Another thing that struck me about the film was the focus on her as an athlete, rather than as a girl. Sure, she's a girl who is an athlete, but never do I get the sense that anyone expects anything less from her than her best, just because she's a girl. If anything, this movie doesn't rely on the sexy beach babe trope.
Sure Bethany and her best friend and fellow surfer, Alana Blanchard, are attractive, slim, blonde, and tanned. But aside from a scene involving a photoshoot for a sponsor, it's never played up for the sex appeal. This may be a result of the "family friendly" nature of the film.
It may also be attributed to Bethany's avowed Christian faith, which is part of the focus of the film. It's her faith that helps her heal emotionally, and to find the mental stamina needed to get back into surfing after her attack. In fact, the title of her autobiography, which I fully intend to read now, is Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board.
Would I go out of my way to watch this film again? Probably not. I can say I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone looking for a positive story about overcoming odds, emotional strength, and girl athletes. If you have a young woman in your life who could use some inspiration, this would be a good place to start.