Women can run the world but to the RedEye, they are still just girls

Forbes released its list of the world’s most powerful women. I know, we were all waiting with baited breath. The list may not mean much but how the media chooses to report on it does.

For example the RedEye chose this doozy of a headliner “Run the world (girls)”.

The header is a play off of Beyone’s newest hit but it also is widely ridiculous. These women have not been considered “girls” for years and decades in some cases. Actually the RedEye conveniently put all of their ages so you can determine for yourself just how many years these powerful women have been just that women and not girls.

The article was also kind enough to note that 22 of the women are single. You know in case you are looking to hook up that single friend of yours.

Obviously the RedEye was not trying to be malicious. It was probably attempting to be humorous or at least catchy and kitschy. But in the end it just fell into the trap of attempting to minimize the most powerful women in the world by associating them with prepubescent children and Beyonce (no offense to Beyonce).

I think a good lesson for us all to learn on this one is let’s not lose what little integrity we have left with attempts at cute headlines.

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Give Your Voice a Choice Event: 8/25 Heartland Cafe

I’m MCing an awesome event tomorrow night called Give Your Voice a Choice. Mostly as a shameless plug for the event but also because I think it’s worth sharing, I’ve included my introduction and my story of choice below. The event is 6 to 9 at Heartland Cafe and more deets can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=106511572779697

“The event tonight is about choice. Not just choice as it is defined redundantly in the media in the battle over abortion, but the broader choices everyone faces when dealing with reproduction. From deciding to tie your tubes at 30 to deciding to have a child at 40 to deciding to end an unplanned pregnancy, from abstinence to monogamy to the Kama sutra, from condoms to IEDs to that weird ring thing, we all make choices regarding our reproduction. Yet we often feel alone in our struggles, dilemmas and ultimate choices.

The Chicago Chapter of the National Organization of Women is thrilled to bring together members of the community as well as local musicians to talk about choice and bring together our voices.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed at the door. If you would still like to contribute please feel free to come up to the table and pick up a brochure and make a contribution. All the proceeds tonight will go to benefit the Chicago Abortion Fund, who provides financial assistance to low-income women wishing to end their unplanned pregnancies. You can read more about the fund including their participants’ stories at www.chicagoabortionfund.com.

We would also like to thank our three musicians tonight who will be donating their time and talent including Anne-Marie Akin, Gabrielle Schafer, & Glad Fanny. They also have CDS and merchandise for sale at the table.

Also we would like to give a big thank you to all of our speakers who agreed to share their stories.  We are lucky enough tonight to have Terry Cosgrove from Planned Parenthood as well as Representative Kelly Cassidy here, as well as many other members of the community. If you have not already signed up to tell a story but wish to do so, there is a sign up sheet at the table and there will be time in the middle of the event for volunteer speakers.

To kick off the night, I’m going to share some facts and figures with you.

After sitting on my shelf for more than a year, I am finally reading “Half the Sky.”

The book gives quite a few scary facts about the state of women in the 21st century especially regarding maternal health.

Some of the most shocking to me were that there is one maternal death every minute and for every death at least ten other women suffer significant injuries such as fistulas or serious tearing.

Additionally unsafe abortions cause the deaths of seventy thousand women annually and cause serious injuries to another 5 million. Five Million Women.

 

That is big number. So large in fact that we tend to not be able to grasp it and it rolls into our heads with all the other horrible atrocities of the 21st century.

Scientists have proven that facts, numbers and “objective” figures when dealing with humanitarian issues don’t trigger our consciences or pull at our heartstrings. Stories do. Connecting with an individual story evokes the compassion needed for greater humanity in the world.

So with that in mind, I’m going to tell my story.

My senior year in college I went to study abroad in Argentina. I stayed with a middle-income family in a working-class barrio. They had a maid, I’ll call her Tia, who lived with them. During the day we would watch soap operas, eat little cookies and occasionally exchange our thoughts on the boludos on the screen. Our relationship was superficial and other than the fact that she was from the North part of the country and was relatively poor, I didn’t know much about her.

Then one day I came into the kitchen and Tia was crying. No not crying, but sobbing, shaking in  her shoulders as she washed dishes in the sink. Of course I asked her what was wrong but when she tried to explain with her northern accent and rapidly more desperate words, I couldn’t understand her. I patted her shoulder, and asked if I could do anything. She gave me a cup of coffee.

My host family later explained that Tia’s 16-year-old daughter, I’ll call her Maria, had run away with her motorcycle-riding 20 year old boyfriend. Tia blamed herself for not being there. But there was nothing she could do. Tia’s abusive ex-husband had custody of the children and all Tia could do was send the children some extra money for school supplies.

I left for the weekend to go on a trip to the beach. When I came back there was Maria, looking more morose than one would think possible of a 16 year old girl. She had bags under her eyes and walked slightly hunched. She did not talk to me and left the room anytime I came in.

My host family explained later. Maria had run away to get an illegal abortion. It had gone wrong. She couldn’t stop bleeding. They took out her uterus. She would never have children. The motorcycle-riding boyfriend was no where in sight. Maria’s father did not want her back in his house.

Before I left I gave her my hair dryer and black converses. I didn’t know what else I could say or do that would somehow lessen the hurt of what had happened and how her life would never be the same.

When I got back to the states I went to visit my family and catch up with life from the past year. I was chatting with my cousin, when she told me she had had an abortion while I was gone. It was an unplanned pregnancy. She found out when she was only a few weeks pregnant. She took a pill and continued her 2nd year of nursing school. She graduates this May.

When I asked her if I could share her story she said sure but she also said “There’s not much to share. I don’t really think about it ever. Maybe that is offensive to some people. But it just isn’t a part of my life.”

I often think about the difference in the futures of two young girls because of access to reproductive rights, because of a country’s laws over those reproductive rights and in the end because of luck of where they were born. And in the end, it is their stories that ahve convinced me that access to abortion and reproductive health is a right of every woman.

When we were talking about creating this event 9 months ago, we were all surprised and comforted by the similarities we had in our stories. We wanted to share this comfort and connection with a larger community by sharing our stories. Thank you for joining us tonight and enjoy the event.”

 

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Filed under Events in Chicago, Her Story

Awesome Young Feminist Questions Beyonce’s “Girls Run the World”

Besides being nonsensical Beyonce’s “Girls Run the World” is clearly not accurate. Women in fact do not run the world: less than 20% of heads of states are female. Apparently Beyonce’s version of “running the world” is owning the dance floor.

Boy don’t even try to touch this
Boy this beat is crazy
This is how they made me
Houston, Texas baby
This goes out to all my girls
That’s in the club rocking the latest
Who will buy it for themselves and get more money later

But I think no one critique it better than this amazing young feminist.

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Filed under Femtastic Women, Low Brow, Music

Local DV group giving alternative view of Odd Future’s violent lyrics

Odd Future is scheduled to play at Pitchfork this weekend to the delight of fans and the dismay of local domestic violence groups. Their performance is sure to alight mixed emotions in Chicago; critics and fans are hailing the band as the “next big thing of their generation” while domestic violence groups have voiced concern over the group’s violent lyrics towards women.

Over the past year, Odd Future has made a name for itself with its intense hip hop beat, shock-value lyrics, and strong underground following. The group rejects any attempts at critics to define their music and they don’t bother to try to defend their hateful lyrics towards women. In typical 19-year-old fashion they “do what they want.”

Yet domestic violence groups in Chicago are quick to point out that Odd Futures fantasy raps are a reality for many women in Chicago. In order to remind festival goers of these realities, the d.v. group Between Friends will be handing out over 5,000 fans over the weekend with a list of resources for women who have experience violence. The group raised $1,700 in two weeks for the campaign and will now have a booth inside Pitchfork.

“We do respect the fact that they [Pitchfork producers] have the right to have the music that they feel people are interested in at their fest,” says Between Friends Programs Director Yesenia Maldonado. “But we’d like to make sure that they have the resources available while they’re there. This is a huge venue and we really want for people who haven’t heard these shocking lyrics—maybe they’re coming for another band and this is the first time they’ll be hearing [Odd Future]—we want to make sure that we let them know that this is something that we’re taking notice of, and we really want to get the other view out there as much as possible.”

There is something about blaringly different Odd Future that makes critics rush to proclaim them the next big thing, each critic trying to up the anty with hyperbolic predictions of Odd Future becoming the voice of a generation (obviously ignoring half of the future generation that would not like to be violently raped). They praise the harsh lyrics of rape and violence as an expression of naïve youth and assume because people can’t understand it, it must be new and good.

Even those critics who are critical of the band, always seem to end on an apology, as if it is their fault they don’t love the narrative of repeated violence against women. Although most will agree Odd Future has the right to exist and be produced, it is also important that the group be honestly critiqued and reviewed, glorified AND condemned.

Personally although I accept Odd Future’s right to make music, I think their music sucks and I have no desire to listen to a 20-year-olds fucked up fantasy about rape that is all too imaginative for him and all too real for many women. I think it is unhealthy for this to be proclaimed the voice of a generation when it is clearly only the fantasy of a few.

Odd Future gives one voice of a generation and groups like Between Friends are thankfully giving the other, to show the realities of domestic violence in our world. I for one am happy at least someone is willing to stand up and say this music is crap.

Check out an interview with Pitchfork founders here: http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-05-02/pitchfork-odd-future-endorsing-rape-or-showcasing-art-85888

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Filed under Events in Chicago, Feminist Rant, Low Brow, Music

Lesson of the movie Bridesmaids: Girls like inappropriate vomit too

Seeing Bridesmaids yesterday was more than just the typical “out with the gals” kind of night. After weeks of reading the feminist call to arms, seeing Bridesmaids had become a brave act of political support of actresses; a bold rally behind the idea of well-rounded, relatable female characters; a plea, hope, and desperate cry for the the end of the gender funny gap in Hollywood. It was bigger than burning a bra in the 60’s.

It was also just a really damn funny movie.

As I crammed into the theater with the most ideal group do eight wonderful women and cracked open a smuggled mini-bottle of cab sav, I felt like a real feminist, a real classy feminist about to embark on a journey into my soul.

And then the movie started, the cab kicked in and I laughed, cried and sighed my not-so-feminist-but-more-humanistic sympathies for 2 hours. I forgot that I was there to make a statement and instead enjoyed the movie.

If this movie is ground-breaking or ceiling-crashing in some way, it just proves how much the ground sucked before or how unnecessary that ceiling is. Bridesmaids is not a feminist movie or even a movie for women; it is just a god damn funny movie.

From crazy British roommates to projective vomit, from failed business to moving back in with your mom, from bad fucks to bad luck, Bridesmaid is a good movie, a real movie, and a movie that should be repeated more often.

The movie isn’t a “guy movie” with a female lead. It is a funny realistic narrative of an imperfect woman who occasionally gives her friends food poisoning and then vomits. If this movie proves anything it is that women think projective vomit is funny too. And apparently men like it too. The opening weekend had a 35% male audience according to the LA Times.

And according to the newspaper this is a trend many hope to continue. “Female Filmmakers are hoping these movies, which center on flawed but empowered women behaving badly, will reverse a decade-old trend of reducing comedic roles for women to either the Type-A power suits too busy for love or girlfriends/wives determined to squash the boys’ fun.”

By god, let’s hope the LA Times is right with this one because I for one am ready to see a woman fart on the big screen.

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The RedEye’s advice to beer-bellied men: girdles and lipo

The title of today’s RedEye cover story is “get waisted;” a clever little pun on men cutting down on belly fat (get it… waisted/wasted). Their advice, in addition to the common sense diet knowledge of eat less and exercise more, was buy a girdle and consider liposuction. (read the story here)

I have to admit that for a minute while I was reading it, I thought, sweet, put that in your beer bong and suck it you beer-bellied men of Chicago. Time to end the Double Standard! Down with Machismo! Long Live Betty Friedan!

But then I realized this was really the opposite way we want the double standard to go. It is not that we want everyone held to the ripped, sweat drenched stereotype of bod man cologne commercials.   We want those ridiculous stereotypes removed for everyone, men and women alike. We want to start focusing on healthy bodies and not the anatomically incorrect, Ken and Barbie stereotypes were have been fed our whole lives.

And besides, skinny jeans already add a hurdle to the dressing and undressing of the fine young men ofChicago, I can’t imagine dealing with the extra burden of girdles.

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Filed under Low Brow, Newspapers, WTF RedEye?

Teaching the ABC’s of Sex in IL?

Sexual education has long been a hott topic in American politics and society. Republicans hate it (on the principle that it admits sex exists); Democrats love it (as long as it doesn’t make their moderate middle constituents too uncomfortable); and most Americans seem to have strong opinions about it even if many of those opinions are based on clever political jargon.

But behind the jargon, the majority of Americans think sex ed should be taught in school (93% according to a 2004 survey) and often parents assume sex ed is taught in school even if recent budget cuts have nixed the sex ed. And here is where the problem lies, parents think their children are receiving responsible sexual education but in many cases, students are receiving inadequate information in the form of abstinence only materials or they are receiving no education at all.

The IL PREP bill (formerly HB1619 and now HB 3027) seeks to change that, with a baby step. The bill would require schools which have sex ed provide medically accurate and age-appropriate content; it does not require schools teach sex ed, only that if a school does have a sex ed program, the information taught in class be accurate. This translates to talking about all the abc’s of sex including abstinence and birth control and condoms.

But even this baby step bill has had a rocky road. After months of negotiations in the state legislature, the bill fell short by one vote in April. The bill has been revived this month and thanks to a few minor changes, is likely to pass this time around. 

Read more on the PREP bill here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/ct-met-sex-ed-20110420,0,1098839.story

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Filed under Reproductive Rights, Sex

Rahm’s new Chief of Staff a woman without children who hosts dinner parties

Accodording to the Sun Times, Rahm’s new chief of staff is the “smart and thick skinned” Theresa Mintle. In addition to the flattering descriptions as  a “well-organized workaholic” Sun Times felt the need to further delve into Mintle’s personal life by voicing an opinion on her personal decision to not have children.

“She is married to architect Mike Toolis, chairman and CEO of VOA Associates. The couple have no children, which is probably a good thing, given the 24/7 job that Mintle is inheriting.”

The article also commented on her ability to host dinner parties and give her girlfriends the “tough love” advice they need.

In addition to being patronizing, the Sun Times article is completely irrelevant to Mintle’s new position. The article is just another piece of evidence showing how the media needs to catch up and realize women in leadership positions have more of a story than their children and dinner parties.

Read the full article here.

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Filed under Low Brow, Newspapers, The Politics

Superfluous Sexy: RedEye’s quasi porn cover

The RedEye is like a worn ad lib, insert unnecessary sexy photo here

The article was about the now infamous Northwestern professor whose human sexuality class has been canceled after the “fuck saw scandal.” Apparently the RedEye will use any excuse to put some quasi porn on their cover and barely scrape the surface of an issue.

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Filed under Low Brow, Newspapers, Sex, WTF RedEye?

90%, fact vs. political jargon

see stephen colbert video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EaB69vv-iY

Sentator Jon Kyl will hopefully always be remembered for his claim that 90% of  Planned Parenthood services are abortion as well as his staff’s follow up comment that this claim was not meant to be “factual.”

I sincerely hope that this political misstep will be remembered for its sheer insanity as well as the fact it illustrates, the GOPs reliance on people not checking facts but accepting political jargon.

The fact is abortions are 3% of Planned Parenthoods services and none of those abortions are paid for with federal money. That is the fact.

As Gail Collin’s points our in her Sunday column, this fight over Planned Parenthood is not about facts or even abortion, it is about rallying the base against reproductive rights.

Collin’s writes “For eons now, people have been wondering why the two sides can’t just join hands and agree to work together to reduce the number of abortions by expanding the availability of family-planning services and contraception.The answer is that a large part of the anti-abortion community is also anti-contraception.”

Read Collin’s full article here.

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