Reproductive Rights Cartoon Caption Contest

August 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

by MIRANDA

The Center for Reproductive Rights has launched an awesome cartoon caption contest. They might be short on responses since ladies are inherently unfunny, but luckily there are at least a few men who support reproductive rights? Or so I’ve heard?

  1. Submit your caption(s) between now and August 23, 2011. There is no limit on how many captions you can submit.
  2. Three finalists will be selected for each cartoon by the Center for Reproductive Rights and announced in the August 25th issue of our ReproWrites eNewsletter.
  3. Public voting on the finalists will begin on August 25th and end at midnight on August 29th.
  4. The two grand prize winners will be announced on August 30th. They will each receive a printed version of the cartoon with the winning caption and a gift bag.

Take a look at the cartoons and submit your captions! I’m still working on mine…

Women in the Heights – Perspectives

March 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

by PHOEBE

You might remember that over the summer I interned at Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance where I worked with the beautiful, bilingual, amazing, feministy, smart, and talented women who run the organization. Since then I have tried to keep myself updated on the goings-on at NoMAA, and there’s a current exhibition that looks badass. From their website:

Time:
Thu, 2011-03-03 18:00 – 20:00
Venue:
178th Bennett Avenue 3rd Floor (@ 189th Street)
Contact Person:
info@nomaanyc.org – 212.568.4396

In celebration of Women’s History Month (March), the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA) presents Women in the Heights – Perspectives, an exhibition displaying works by 28 women artists residing in Washington Heights and Inwood, curated by Andrea Arroyo.

 

If you’re in the Washington Heights Area — or anywhere in Manhattan for that matter — I strongly encourage you to go! I mean… The show includes a curtain of cupcakes!

Six Questions About Rebecca Black’s “Friday”

March 21, 2011 § 3 Comments

by MIRANDA


I. What are the precise mechanics of a YouTube video “going viral”?
Black’s video was originally posted on February 10, but started garnering a significant number of hits about a month later on Friday March 11. A friend showed it to me in person on Tuesday March 15; over the next few days it spread quickly among my classmates, and many of Friday March 18’s Facebook status updates were devoted to parodies and references to the song. As I write this the official YouTube video has more than 30 million views.

II. Who is Rebecca Black?
She seems earnest and sweet; she apparently plans to donate much of her iTunes sales profits to “school arts programs and relief efforts in Japan.” How did she get involved with Ark Music Factory

III. Who wrote the song? (It wasn’t Black.) And who auto-tuned the shit out of it? Because: HA. Kudos on your career. To be honest, I completely agree with Rolling Stone’s assessment that the song is “an unintentional parody of modern pop.” And I’d love to hear more from the true creator of said unintentional parody.

IV. What’s up with Ark Music Factory?
I couldn’t find much definitive information about the label’s business model or how one becomes associated with it; all I know for sure right now is that their website’s child-porn aesthetic gives me the creeps.

V. Why are we so culturally infatuated with improbable images of young teen girls partying?
It seems that society is only interested in girls when we’re appearing carefree and having capital-F Fun. Alarmingly few people are interested in struggle or unsureness or complex emotion. Which is unfortunate, because to my knowledge that’s exactly the register in which women operate from the ages of ten to twenty (or ten to forever?).

VI. What’s behind the onslaught of hatred towards Rebecca Black?
It is now a well-established fact that “Friday” is not good. You are not contributing something new to the discourse by saying the song sucks. Offering criticism of Black’s creative work is fine; anyone who puts a piece of writing or song or video or whatever out into the world should expect as much in response. What’s disturbing is the criticism that’s been leveled at Rebecca Black as a person. Her situation is emblematic of a phenomenon faced by many female pop stars, in which consumers use “critique” of an artist’s work to not-so-subtly critique her. (For guys, quite the opposite. Even Chris Brown’s undisputed real-life actions didn’t yield substantial public criticism of his personality or moral code.)


Asked by ABC’s Andrea Canning about the meanest response to her video that she’s read, Black says: “I hope you cut yourself and I hope you get an eating disorder so you’ll look pretty, and I hope you go cut and die.” These words have nothing to do with “Friday” — and actually, they probably have nothing to do with Rebecca Black. These words are about the vitriolic hostility that women are routinely and reflexively shown whenever they step foot into the media’s public arena. I’ve seen the video over and over, and I’m left wondering: Why is our culture simultaneously so obsessed with this video and so seemingly angered by it? I guess the real question is, why are we so hungry for media from women we can hate?

We are all born superstars

February 19, 2011 § 3 Comments

by MIRANDA

No matter what anyone says, no matter the valid criticisms of the problematic aspects of her persona and her music, at the end of the day, this is why I love Lady Gaga. This, right here:

Indeed: Just love yourself and you’re set.

Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

by MIRANDA

This is exactly how I feel about Valentine’s Day every single year:

Preach! (Thanks to PostSecret for the wisdom.)

The Revolution will not be produced by Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, or Paramount Pictures.

August 15, 2010 § 4 Comments

by ELENA

The last couple of posts have been about women in film (and the occaisonal woman who directs/shoots/produces films). If I am lucky, I will be one of those women in front of the camera. If I am even luckier, I’ll actually enjoy the project that I’m shooting.

That’s the challenge of being a woman in the performing arts field, who is also a feminist. So much of the available jobs in TV/film/commercials are total and complete crap. Because plays are so expensive to produce (a three-person play with one set will cost at least six figures to produce in New York), casts are shrinking, and so are, you guessed it, roles for women.

One of our first assignments in our Acting For The Camera class was to talk about our classmates’ “types”. My professor was straightforward about what we would be most likely to be cast as [Evidently, I'm a quirky "character" type, who would be good in Meg-Ryan type roles]. Frankly, I don’t always appreciate it when people tell me, as a 20-year-old student, what I’ll likely be doing, based on my looks, for the majority of my career. And this year, the projects I filmed included:

-A wheelchair bound wife, having difficulty handling her disability.
-A bobby-soxer in the Fifties.
-A vagabond, living with a collective of people out of the bed of a pickup truck.
-A German prostitute.
-A cancer patient who makes a suicide pact with another cancer patient

Ie, things not in my supposed “type”.

At my first college, I saw talk of “types” totally destroy my classmates, who were convinced that they would not be able to do anything other than what another classmate or professor suggested. There is nothing more tragic in my mind than a bunch of 18-year-old college students that have been convinced that they cannot do anything other than one specific “type”.

As I think about my post-graduate opportunities, I’m leaning more towards jobs not directly related to performing arts, but ones where I could use some of my strengths that I’ve learned as an actor. Why? Because I would have more freedom than having to go on audition after audition, only to be told that I’m “not right for the job” because I am short/have red hair/do not look like Megan Fox.

One of the best things that I learned at my previous college was to make my own work, rather than waiting for good work to come my way. That has to be the future for film, television, and theatre if we want to see things other than Two and a Half Men and Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

I don’t want to be in the position to have to take the horribly sexist commercial/sitcom/film gig because that is the only work available for me. I’d rather break out, and set my own rules, than be stuck having to follow the rules of an industry that occasionally produces brilliant work, but is so stuck in a mentality of “if it doesn’t make money, it will fail” that they keep on doing the same thing, with the same shitty stereotypes, over and over again.

Plus, why would I want to work in the same industry that still employs Charlie Sheen?

This is what a feminist (film) looks like

August 12, 2010 § 6 Comments

by SARAH

The film industry has a lady problem.

Genuinely challenging and original leading roles for women are scarce, roles get smaller as women grow older, and many, many serious films that get serious nominations do so because serious men are at the center, experiencing serious, manly situations. No matter how progressive and lefty Hollywood likes to think it is, it is still slave to the power and influence of strict gender roles.

But film is an art form, and no matter how commercialized and consumerist this particular art form may have become, there are still those films that will challenge gender roles, challenge assumptions, and challenge the audience. But what does a feminist film look like?

Is a film that deals explicitly with the struggles of women in a patriarchal society instantly feminist? The Piano, a movie by Jane Campion, is often hailed as a feminist filmmaking feat, and although it’s a picture that I adore, I hesitate to agree (spoiler/vast oversimplification of plot ahead!). A mute woman leaving one repressive relationship by leaping into the arms of a man who essentially forces her to pay for her beloved piano with her sexuality hardly registers as a feminist statement for me. Nor does having a woman behind the camera guarantee a feminist success. Hollywood gave itself a good pat on the back this past March for giving a best directing and a best picture Oscar to Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman ever to win either award. While such a feat is undeniably something to get excited about, her winning would have been much more of a true feminist victory if her film, The Hurt Locker, weren’t a prime example of one of the aforementioned serious manly man movies (a pretty overrated and unoriginal serious manly man movie at that).

In popular culture, women aren’t treated like people, but rather like women. Someone is a man until proven otherwise. Women, despite being pretty much half of the population, are viewed as the “other.” As a result, there are limited roles that they are allowed to occupy, and unjust stereotypes that they are expected to fulfill. Therefore, the films I consider to be truly feminist are the films that do treat women like people, that allow their female characters to take on roles filled with tension and anger and adventure and excitement that female characters are so often denied.

Take Wendy and Lucy, the beautiful 2008 film directed by Kelly Reichardt. The story follows a woman named Wendy (Michelle Williams) as she travels to Alaska in a run down car with no other company than her beloved dog, Lucy, who seems to be her only friend in the world. Wendy is down on her luck, with a cold demeanor and a butch presentation – not the type of character Hollywood usually likes for its delicate lady-flowers. She’s constantly faced with the brutality and indifference of those around her, and experiences incredible sadness and incredible courage as she teeters on the edge of despair. Wendy is a feminist character in that she’s allowed to be distraught. Ugly. Imperfect. Strong. Impatient. There is none of the naiveté that young women are automatically presumed to have, no distracting boyfriend story, nothing that shouts “THIS CHARACTER IS A WOMAN, IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW IT, AND WE WILL DO THIS AND THIS TO HER JUST SO YOU REMEMBER THAT SHE’S A LADY.” She’s a person, with as many flaws as merits, and is treated and examined as such.

In most action movies, women are hot and kind-of-smart-but-not-too-scary-smart babes who come second to the big macho male action star. Not so in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies. The central character, The Bride (Uma Thurman), wakes from a coma, then embarks on a violent killing spree, mowing down those who so brutally betrayed her and put her there. The Bride is driven by unabashed, unrelenting ruthlessness – a quality that is hardly traditionally “feminine.” It’s not the bride’s violence and need for revenge that makes her feminist (violence is never, ever the key to true empowerment), but rather the fact that she’s allowed to be so filled to the brim with drama and tension and genuine rage. Women are told to be complacent and submissive, things that The Bride is absolutely not. The morality of her actions is questionable, to say the least, but she sure does rip apart many traditional and annoying notions of femininity during her bloody quest for vengeance.

Movies made for little girls are often about princesses, and tend to equate being rich and married with being beautiful and worthy (I’m lookin’ at you, Disney). Hiyao Miyazaki is, essentially, the anti-Disney – the protagonists of his anime films are little girls, but instead of falling in love or finding happiness through material possessions, they go on adventures. They explore. Satsuki and Chihiro, of the films My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, are curious and bold. They exemplify genuine compassion and bravery, but without submissiveness or naiveté. The word that you could best use to describe all of Miyazaki’s heroines is “independent” – a feminist word if I ever saw one (hell, he even manages to give the Little Mermaid story a feminist edge in Ponyo).

Women are conditioned and told to strive for “perfection,” to be beautiful, gentle, submissive, and not to cause trouble. But women are human beings, and human beings do cause trouble. When a character breaks the unfair rules of the patriarchy, when she allows the audience to see her during her ugly, human moments, when she can be “unlady-like” and still be a protagonist worthy of our compassion and our sympathy, she’s a badass, gender-role-fucking feminist.

Feminist Artist Alert: Jessica Lagunas

July 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

by PHOEBE

So I’m currently interning at the wonderful, feminist-friendly, bilingual Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, an organization located in Washington Heights, dedicated to the promotion of artists in Northern Manhattan. It’s a highly community oriented and welcoming environment that I’m already in love with. Its mission is to give voices to artists of various medias that may not typically be given opportunities to show their work.

One such artist is the fantastic Jessica Lagunas. I was lucky enough to see some of her work at an earlier show celebrating Latino artists this year and I was blown away. Born in Nicaragua in 1971, she’s dedicated to exploring themes–often of a heavy nature–such as body image, sexuality, ethnicity, and age, all from a distinctly female perspective.

I encourage you to go check out her stuff, particularly her videos, in which she does certain beauty rituals for up to two hours. They’re grotesque and fascinating and leave me with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. In a good way. I think. It’s certainly thought provoking.

And good news! Her work is being exhibited right now. If you’re in the New York area or Spain go check her out! I know I plan to.

Her bio can be found here.

Ode to Reginka

June 21, 2010 § 2 Comments

Image: Regina Spektor, smiling broadly.

Friends: Regina Spektor! She is just so delightful! And her music is like when you wake up slicked in sweat on a hot summer morning in your stuffy, un-air-conditioned, fourth floor walk-up apartment and open the window and a cold rush of breeze floods in and you feel alive again. Also, she played a benefit concert for Planned Parenthood. Hearts.

Regina’s music is weird. Seriously, it is strange. She is well-known for her odd and original sound play; she often exaggerates her glottal stop, slurs her words, and switches rapidly between a near-whisper and loudly belted notes. This matters because, as has been said about Lady Gaga, I think a woman’s willingness to be strange — and shamelessly so — is a profoundly feminist act in a culture that prefers its ladies to act like robots.

I also have a feminist (and aesthetic) appreciation for Regina’s musical whimsy. Her work has a strong trend of poking fun at sex, love, and gendered interactions. Below, a selection and explanation of my favorite Spektor lyrics.

« Read the rest of this entry »

On Shakespeare’s Ophelia

June 12, 2010 § 11 Comments

In my Shakespeare class, our final paper was on Shakespeare’s epic Hamlet and out of all the choices of topics we had to write about, I chose Ophelia. During our unit on Hamlet I found myself surprised over and over again by how intensely many people seemed to hate her. (And I don’t use the term hate lightly, I mean they despised her!) “The play would be the same without her!” “She doesn’t DO anything.” “She’s way too passive!” At one point, I ended up in a very impassioned debate outside of class against five other classmates. Guess who the one person that liked Ophelia was?

To be sure, Ophelia is a passive character, but for some reason that fact doesn’t cause me to loathe her. Weird.

I wrote this paper as a sort of defense, if you will. I think that Ophelia’s passivity stems from her environment and that the truly tragic thing about her is that she knows no other way to act. She is one of only two females drowning (forgive the pun–I’m tired) in an overpoweringly large cast of males. She has no support system that encourages her to act on her own and every man around her somehow feels the need to tell her how to behave. But I won’t lay out my thesis right here and now. You can click below to read the full paper.

I figure at least one reader must be a Shakespeare buff. Enjoy!

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