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Tag Archives: feminism

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway, The Daily Beast

1. You were my political science professor in undergrad who used to join me for coffee in the Student Union Building before class.  You asked for my phone number and then called my house to ask me out on a date.  I told you that I wasn’t comfortable with the fact that you were my teacher and that I hoped it wouldn’t affect my grade. You never talked to me again.  I earned an A.

2. You were a network executive who sat in a screening and ogled the daughter of one of our main characters in the show.  She was a blond young woman wearing a tank top, and even though she had nothing to do with the story, you joked about how she should get more screen time, especially in the chest area.

3. You were a government employee where I was an intern. You said lascivious things about me to the woman who shared the office. She laughed and said, “cut it out, she’s jailbait!”  You said, “jail would be worth it.”

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“Try to live your life in a way that you will not regret years of useless virtue and inertia and timidity.

Take up the battle.

Take it up.

It’s yours.

This is your life.  This is your world.

I’ll be leaving it long before you under the ordinary set of circumstances. You make your own choices. You can decide life isn’t worth living, and that would be the worst thing you can do. How do you know, so far?

Try it. See.

So pick it up. Pick up the battle, and make it a better world.

Just where you are.

Yes, and it can be better, and it must be better, but it is up to us.”

–Thank you, Dr Angelou.

“Maya Angelou” Oprah Presents Master Class. OWN, 2011.

A Woman's Place is at the Top by Hannah Kimberley, St. Martin's Press, 2017.

A Woman’s Place is at the Top by Hannah Kimberley, St. Martin’s Press, 2017.

My friend Hannah Kimberley has written a book about Annie Smith Peck, one of the most accomplished women of the twentieth century that you have never heard of!  I had the honor of assisting Hannah with archival research over the past several years.  It was truly inspiring to read diaries, letters, and ephemera from such a tenacious character. I often felt like I had walked back in time: from the country’s reaction to Lincoln’s assassination, to the nail-biting climb to the top of Peru’s highest point, to the suffrage marches in New York City. Peck accomplished all of her feats as an unmarried woman and often (gasp) in pants!

Pre-orders will influence the first printing, and, if there are enough, it can put a book on the bestseller list, since all those pre-orders count towards first week book sales.  You can order it here.

On the eve of a big moment for women in politics, I recommend this book about another woman who carved her own path.

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Betty (January Jones), Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) and Joan (Christina Hendricks), Mad Men, AMC.

Betty (January Jones), Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) and Joan (Christina Hendricks), Mad Men, AMC.

The cultural phenomenon Mad Men ends its seven season run tonight May 17 on AMC.
 
Last week the creator, Matthew Weiner, talked about the end of the series on the Nerdist podcast.   For him, at the crux of Mad Men is the idea that everyone wants the life that was promised in the ads – the idyllic expectation of life that is based on a cultural fiction that we’ve all agreed upon.  “In America in particular, the heroic myth is always a myth.”
 
Over the course of the series, one of the most blatant cultural fictions that the women of Mad Men have confronted is the American dream itself.  Hard work both at home and at the office very rarely pays off in the sexist era of the 1960s.  My favorite character by far is also the one I find most tragic: Joan, who bought into the ethos that betrayed her.  Modeling herself on the Marilyn Monroe archetype and attaining the top position in the secretary pool, Joan thought she had her own trajectory figured out, and for as long as the 50s lasted, she did.  

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(Pussy Riot/Live Journal)

(Pussy Riot/Live Journal)

Pussy Riot is a female punk rock political collective based in Moscow known for their provocative guerrilla performances in well known public spaces.  In February of 2012, they staged a demonstration to protest the union of church and state on the altar of the Russian orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior, for which they were arrested and held for 6 months without bail during a trial that many considered a sham.  No one was hurt during the demonstration, and the actual performance was shut down by security within 40 sec.  And yet the three young women, Nadia Tolokno, Masha Alyokhina and Katia Samutsevich, on trial were convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and sentenced to two years each in a labor camp. 

Much has been covered in the press both inside and outside of Russia.  Governments of the European Union as well as the United States have called the sentencing disproportionate.  Amnesty International has labeled the women “Prisoners of Consciousness.”  Public figures from Aung San Suu Kyi to Madonna have championed Pussy Riot’s commitment to freedom of expression.  The directors of the documentaryPussy Riot: A Punk Prayer,”  Mike Lerner and Maksim Pozdorovkin have put together a film from court footage and interviews with the family in this story about about the group and the case.  It premieres on HBO tonight at 9pm (June 10).