mark your calendars . . .

This Saturday (Sept. 10th) is the Iowa Women’s Music Festival! Located in Upper City Park, the day stage is FREE (noon-5 p.m.). The evening performance by Janis Ian will be at the Englert theater. Come check out these wonderful musicians and hear some kickin’ music. For more info about the artists and the event, click here. 

a whole new world . . .

Ah, hindsight is 20/20. If only someone had told 5-year-old me that there was no way in hell I would look like a Disney Princess. That would have saved an eating disorder. Or that I would not only be attracted to men. That would have saved some teenage confusion. Or that the only way to attain a badass library would be to marry into money. That would have saved hours of obsessing over having / not having a boyfriend, when I would have much preferred reading.

I know, I know. A lot of “would haves”–kind of a “woulda-coulda-shoulda” overload. But I’m genuinely serious. I watched Disney movies over and over. I asked for the Barbies for my birthday (we can discuss Barbies later. If you’re really interested read “The Anthropometry of Barbie” sometime). I even had a Beauty and the Beast nightgown that I tried to pull off as a dress at times.

I’m not sure what to do with Disney Princesses. A part of me still loves them. If “A Whole New World” comes up on my iTunes, I belt it out. Yet I can’t get over how angry I am at the messages they portray for young kids of any gender. Mulan kicks some Hun ass, but the story still ends with an insinuated wedding. Not to mention the racist implications of the Princess franchise. I was a nanny for a 4-year-old girl whose parents were from India. She owned a set of miniature Princesses, from Cinderella to Tiana, but she would only play with Jasmine or Tiana. She always gave me Sleeping Beauty. When I asked her if we could switch one time, dreading what I suspected the answer to be, she said no, because “Only these ones have brown skin like me.” Doesn’t get much more heartbreaking than that.

What are your thoughts and experiences with Disney Princesses? Were you very influenced by them, or did you steer clear?

a new girl order? or just another sad sap ‘men have it hard too’ story . . .

Cato Unbound offers some interesting insight into what it calls “The New Girl Order”, the rising incidences of women now outnumbering and outperforming men in education and careers, and generally faring better than men. Men are falling behind, it says.

It’s a fascinating article detailing the ways women have succeeded in exceeding men in education, community involvement, and various other areas of life. It’s a very quick and worthwhile read.

But as nice as it is to hear statistics about women’s empowerment and successes, and while we shouldn’t discount them—we absolutely have come a long way from the early days of the women’s rights movement—there’s a major caveat this author fails to mention. It is: We’re still so far from equality.

If we hold the majority of college degrees, as well as increased our average earnings steadily for decades, why are we still earning less? A few of the response essays to the article bring up these types of questions and inconsistencies, and they’re worth a read as well. (They are: “Sure, Men Have It Rough. But Let’s Not Forget about the Women.” “The Old Boys’ Club Lives On.” “Don’t Blame Women’s Workplace Successes for Men’s Problems.”)

I also wish the author would have touched on an integral point to inequality that she just skipped over: this “new rule” of women dominating applies to younger, childless women.

The second and related theory about why men are falling behind has it that today’s labor market prizes female strengths more than male strengths. The manufacturing economy, the one that ironically gave women the household revolution that helped to liberate them, relied on physical strength and endurance . . . Good jobs today are another breed. They rely on traits like organizational and planning skills, aesthetic awareness, an ability to collaborate, and what are called “people skills.”[15] . . . Whether these qualities are innately feminine, culturally taught, or some combination doesn’t really matter for the purposes of this argument. The point is that today, with the important exception of the technical and financial sector, younger women (that is, childless women, an important caveat) have shown they can easily be men’s equals, and possibly even their superiors, in the knowledge economy.

However, all of these statistics do give us hope for the future. While we still do not receive the same legitimacy as men do in the workplace, maybe the fact that we are churning out well educated, motivated, and uncompromising women now will change that in the future. (Shout out to Iowa N.E.W. Leadership!) A 23-year old college graduate, male or female, typically wouldn’t be a CEO, CFO, or board member of a major organization anyway. But in 20 years from now…

That’s my hope at least. What’s yours?

colbert represents . . .

Oh, Stephen Colbert. How I love thee. And thee’s (thou’s? okay, your) show. Colbert mocks the conservative backlash to the new Department of Health and Human services policy requiring insurance companies to offer preventative health care and other lady-oriented business without a co-pay. Check out this clip from the show. And at least stay tuned through his impression of a T-Rex putting on a condom. Such small arms.

fauxminism . . .

Fauxminism: Fake feminism; calling oneself a feminist while behaving and/or supporting ideas or expectations working against the general basis of feminism.

Check out this article from early July about men and fauxminism

brought to my attention by a rad male feminist friend. What do you think about fauxminism? Have you experienced fauxminism at work?

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all kinds of families, jersey style . . .

Families, families, all kinds of families. The children’s book “All Kinds of Families” discusses what makes a family, from the traditional nuclear family, to the so-called extended family (I hate that term. Family is family!), to groups of like objects (buttons are families). The book expands the notion of family for children, letting them know that any of their relationships with people, other animals, or objects can be family. Pretty cool, no? If only the Real Housewives of New Jersey had this book around when they were little.

Let me begin this by admitting I love the Real Housewives. All of them. Bravo TV is my very own strange addiction. Out of all the Housewives shows, New Jersey intrigues me the most. Not because of the table flipping, or the hair pulling–these flamboyant gestures are nothing compared to the absolutely bizarre family dynamics of this show.

For those of you who aren’t fans of the show (what are you, nuts?), here’s a rundown of the primary cast.

Caroline Manzo. Photo by Sylvain Gaboury, from http://www.exposay.com

First of all, there’s Caroline. She’s the Italian-American matriarch of the clan. Her sister-in-law Jacqueline is also on the show. Caroline’s younger sister Dina was a Real Housewife until she tired of the drama after season one.

Teresa (left) and fourth child Audriana; Jacqueline (right) and third child Nicholas

Next up is Teresa (aka the table flipper). Her sister-in-law and biggest competitor, Melissa, is new to the cast. So is Teresa’s semi-estranged cousin, Kathy.

Unsurprisingly, most of the show’s drama stems from pre-existing family struggles.

AND YET–as Caroline says, “Let me tell you something about my family. We are as thick as thieves.”

For the most part, yeah. The drama mainly comes from the Teresa/Melissa/Kathy trifecta. But, all the women on the show make the same claim over and over and over and over.

And over.

Family is first.

And while I love this show, I’m not sure I buy it. I think they want to put family first, but fitting in to traditional familial roles makes sincerity and authenticity difficult, if not impossible.

Melissa (left) and Kathy (right). Photo by Tom Murro via CelebrityMagnet

Take Teresa and Melissa’s relationship. They constantly fight over Joe, Teresa’s brother and Melissa’s husband. I think Caroline’s daughter Lauren sums up the “what-the-fuck”-ness of this situation perfectly, saying something along the lines of, “Teresa needs to realize that because he’s married, Joe is Melissa’s now.” WHAT is up with this talk of people belonging to people? Reminiscent of giving a bride away, yeah? Marriage shouldn’t be a divisive maneuver; marriage should bring people together.

However, Teresa and Melissa struggle with their “roles” as wives. They both default in situations to backing up their husbands and their husbands’ decisions, as if they prize their marital relationship above all else. I’m not against marriage, but I think the idea that marriage is more important than any other relationship is antiquated. Other relationships, familial or not, may be just as important as that between a married couple. Or maybe not. It depends on the couple–but not on this show. Here, marriage wins out over everything, including personal autonomy. It bothers me to see Teresa and her brother’s relationship torn down because of their loyalty to their spouses, further spurred on by the idea that married couples must defer to one another. They’re all guilty contributors to the problem, but since when is family a competition?

I guess the issue breaks down to some Hamlet-esque the-lady-doth-protest-too-much thing. These women constantly go about telling one another that family is their number one priority, and then spend the rest of the episode proving the opposite through their actions. Maybe they aren’t sure what family means, or what it means to them.

Anyway, this is more of a rant than anything else. Thanks to Huguette Clark for inspiring the “roles” discussion with her post yesterday. And to the book “All Kinds of Families.” Maybe the next generation will understand the multifaceted notion of families a bit better than these women.

vagina talk . . .

Vaginal beauty products royally irk me. Especially when the advertisements try to tell me my vagina’s pH balance is out of whack and can ONLY  be “fixed” by using their product.

Uhhhhh, what??? My vagina is fine, thank you very much, regardless of Summer’s Eve and other vagina-“health” based brands’ claims.  Check out this post by Maya at feministing.com to read a funny, insightful piece about the femi-do’s and femi-don’ts of Summer’s Eve’s new ad campaign, “Hail to the V.”