In another sexist cover, Time uses porn cliche for Hillary Clinton story

In the new Time, to illustrate the cover article “Can Anyone Stop Hillary?” the magazine uses cliche porn imagery, showing a man trapped beneath a woman’s shoe.

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Seriously, Time?

What did you use for inspiration, this YouTube video? (One of thousands just like it.)

Or perhaps, this shot from a porn site? (One of millions just like it)

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With so many options, I picked this image because its caption “Ending the sexual dark age,” listed in the category “dominatrix in heels standing on male slave’s chest” seems to echo the point Time’s cover attempts to make.

The Hillary Clinton cover isn’t the first time a “news weekly” has borrowed from porn. There was this cover of Newsweek. The subject of the story: great food.

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Time also did a story featuring the “best” chefs. No porn, but the magazine opted for this pic. Hmmm…what’s missing here?

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That’s right, Time’s “Gods of Food” story featured ZERO women.

Wouldn’t it be nice if “news” magazines weren’t sexist? What would our news look like then? Does anyone even know?

U.S. lags behind other countries in stopping sexism

This week, Sweden announced it will implement a movie rating system that will inform viewers if the film is sexist. Sweden will use the Bechdel test which requires that the movie have (1) at least two females (2) who talk to each other (3) about something other than a man.

The Guardian reports:

“The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, all Star Wars movies, The Social Network, Pulp Fiction and all but one of the Harry Potter movies fail this test,” said Ellen Tejle, the director of Bio Rio, an art-house cinema in Stockholm’s trendy Södermalm district…Beliefs about women’s roles in society are influenced by the fact that movie watchers rarely see “a female superhero or a female professor or person who makes it through exciting challenges and masters them”, Tejle said, noting that the rating doesn’t say anything about the quality of the film. “The goal is to see more female stories and perspectives on cinema screens,” he added.

 

I love the Bechdel test, but I adapted it to rate movies for children to discount the Pink Ghetto. For the Magowan Test for Gender Bias in Children’s Movies (1) at least two females who are friends (2) go on an adventure (3) and don’t wear revealing clothing. Simple requirements, yet surprisingly difficult for Hollywood to even come close to meeting in the many movies put out for little kids every year.

Recently, Saroya Chemaly posted in Salon The MPAA’s backwards logic: Sex is dangerous, sexism is fine:

The real problem in movies today isn’t sex, it’s sexism — often coupled with racist caricatures for even greater effect. Imagine if our movie ratings considered sexism and racism as content that children should not be viewing without parental input. Just a thought.

 

I couldn’t agree more. The lack of attention to the rampant and repetitive sexism in children’s movies is exactly why I started Reel Girl. I rate children’s movies on a scale of 1 – 3 S’s to denote gender stereotyping. I would much rather my kids hear a swear word than witness more narratives and images where females are sexualized and marginalized. When I started Reel Girl, almost four years ago, I couldn’t find anything else on the internet that rated children’s movies and products for sexism.

The Week also posted recently: Why female pleasure, not sex, is the real taboo:

The common defense of television censorship is the need to protect the young and impressionable. It’s all for the children. So why is it that a national broadcaster in the 21st century feels the need to bleep out a scene of a teenage girl masturbating, while the rest of television is stuffed to the gills with scenes depicting rape, torture, suicide, and sex between middle-aged adults and adolescents?

Sweden gets this hypocrisy and is addressing it. While I am so psyched this country is taking major steps to alert viewers about sexism, I’m upset that the home of the free and the brave remains slow on the uptake. I honestly think my blog, Reel Girl, is the best resource for rating sexism in children’s movies, and I do it for free, when I have a few minutes of time.

It’s not just sexist movies that our country endorses as OK for kids. While the U.S. has made child beauty pageants a national pastime, with TV hits like “Toddlers and Tiaras” and “Honey Boo Boo,” this year, France outlawed the sexist practice. The New York Times reports:

 

“It is extremely destructive for a girl between the age of 6 and 12 to hear her mother say that what’s important for her is to be beautiful,” Chantal Jouanno, the ban’s champion, said Wednesday. “We are fighting to say: What counts is what they have in their brains.”

Ms. Jouanno, a former junior minister for environment and a senator representing Paris from the center-right party U.D.I., wrote a report on the “hypersexualization” of children in 2011. The report was commissioned by the health minister in response to public outrage over a photo display in Paris Vogue that featured under-age girls in sexy clothes and postures, with high heels, makeup and painted fingernails. The episode drew attention to the increasing use of very young girls in fashion photography and advertisements.

Of course, child beauty pageants don’t just affect the contestants, but everyone who sees the images of these sexualized kids on TV or in magazines.

Moving on to the United Kingdom where after a campaign by Let Toys Be Toys for Girls and Boys, Toys R Us announced it would divide products by type instead of by gender. What about Toys R Us in the USA? Or Target? Not so much.

So why do you think Sweden, France, and the United Kingdom have taken leadership positions in stopping sexism while the U.S. lags behind? I know there’s some bad evidence against us, such as not one female president in our entire history, but aren’t we supposed to support equality and justice for all? Isn’t that our thing?

I have a theory on why the U.S. continues to be a leader in promoting, rather than stopping sexism. While our role as superpower slips as we move further into a global economy, the U.S. remains clearly dominant in one area: culture. American movies dominate the world. While Obama may fall from favor, everyone worldwide knows and adores Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. My guess is that because of this role as a culture shaper, the U.S. and its mutinational companies like Disney and everything Hollywood will be reticent to change and risk losing hegemony over world culture. The irony is, if the U.S. continues to lag behind in recognizing sexism, eventually, it will lose its position as #1 culture shaper. The change towards recognizing sexism, so ubiquitous that its, paradoxically, become invisible, is happening much slower than I would like it too, but it is happening. Sweden, France, and Australia are starting to get it. Women are the world’s largest untapped resource. As long as we keep selling women short, we all lose.

On a positive note, I did just get this email from Hillary Clinton.

On Friday, we announced a new initiative to accelerate the progress of women and girls at home and around the world. We call it No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project, and I hope you’ll be a part of it.

No Ceilings has its roots nearly twenty years ago, and we hope it will have an impact just as far into the future.

The great unfinished business of our time In 1995, at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, 189 countries set an ambitious goal: Women and girls should be able to participate fully in the progress and prosperity of their societies. I was proud to co-lead the American delegation to the conference and to declare to the world that “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”

We’ve made a lot of progress since that day – more girls are in school, more women hold jobs, and more women serve in public office – but we’re still a long way from the goal of full participation. Women and girls continue to face ceilings that limit what they can achieve and hold back entire economies and societies. More than 100 countries have laws on the books that restrict women’s participation in the economy. Women are nearly half of the world’s population, but hold only 20 percent of all parliamentary seats. Around the world, including in the United States, women tend to earn less than men. And nearly 5 million girls are still married under the age of 15 every year.

The great unfinished business of the 21st century is helping women and girls break through these ceilings and contribute fully in every aspect of life.

I was in Beijing in 1995. I was 26 years old. I felt inspired and hopeful. Maybe what the U.S. needs to risk making change is a female president leading the way.

The Rule of the Minority Feisty From Politics to Animation

Slate recently posted “More Than A Woman: The unwritten and silly rule that allows one woman to run for office at a time,” about how Juliette Kayyem, candidate for Governor of Massacusettes, was supposedly expected to drop out of the race when another female, Martha Coakley, announced her candidacy. This post goes on to describe how the idea of “one woman at a time” is an expectation that happens all the time in politics.

Often in politics there is an automatic, unspoken, assumption that only one woman can run at a time.  For example, stories about Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren that speculate about whether she will or won’t run for president, generally take it as a given that Warren can’t possibly enter the Democratic primary if Hillary Clinton decides to run. But why is this the automatic assumption? Warren is an utterly different kind of politician with a distinct biography and a passionate following. She and Clinton have even had substantive disagreements in the past about bank regulation, one of Warren’s central issues. Nobody ever told Howard Dean to get out of the race because John Kerry was running. What law dictates that there can be only one woman per major race at a time?

 

This limited perception dominating our cultural imaginary reminded me of the comment from the head animator of “Frozen”  that “having a film with two hero female characters was really tough.” Here they are, and I’ve got to say, I can barely tell the difference between them. Now do you think the similarity is because females look so much alike in the real world, or do you think the issue is the artist’s limited perception of how female heroes can look?

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I’ve been blogging for a long time about the Minority Feisty, a term describing the current state of the fantasy world and the real one: strong females are allowed to exist, but only in a limited way. Today, if you see a movie for children, most feature a male protagonist, while females, who are, in fact, half of the kid population, are presented as if they were a minority. Within that minority, there will be a strong female or two who reviewers will invariably call “feisty.” I call these characters the “Minority Feisty.” “Frozen” is one of 4 movies for children in 2013 with a female protagonist, while 21 feature a male protagonist. And still, in our feminist movie, we have the animator say how hard it was for him to make two females and they look like this? I know they’re sisters, but come on.

So here’s a few more questions I have: Why are we conditioning a new generation of kids to accept the rule of the Minority Feisty? Why is the fantasy world, where anything is possible, so sexist?

And how many of our kids have seen images like this one?

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Check that out: four powerful women pictured together and their facial features are different. From In This Together Media:


“The Four Justices” was unveiled today at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.. Painted by Nelson Shanks, the portrait depicts the four female Supreme Court Justices, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The painting was commissioned to show young women what is possible.

 

If our children grew up surrounded by images like this, how do you think it would affect who they are and become, how they perceive themselves and each other?

 

Susie Buell wants to know if I’m Ready for Hillary? Yes, I am!

This week, Hillary Clinton joined Twitter, and look what I got in my email today…

 

Dear Margot,

 

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer and enjoying time with friends and family.

 

Many of you who recall my active participation during Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president have asked me if she will run again. My first instinct is to say I hope she does, but the truth is, I don’t know the answer. Hillary has given so much of herself for so long and I’d like for her to take as much time as she needs to make that decision.

 

In the meantime, I’m sure by now you have heard about Ready for Hillary. It is an organization dedicated solely to building and supporting the national grassroots effort that today’s political campaigns demand. Ready for Hillary is doing this work now — giving Hillary the time she needs to make her decision. In fact, the reach Ready for Hillary has built on Facebook already has people paying attention. In a few short months, they have amassed a following of more than 200,000 supporters! We all watched President Obama’s campaign change modern politics. It showed the power of local organizing and the importance of investing in the use and development of new technology. We also cannot overlook the way the Obama campaign amplified its message using social media platforms. Should Hillary decide to run for president in 2016, her campaign is going to need us to use these strategies to win.

 

But the kind of infrastructure that powers a successful campaign requires an investment of money and time to build. It simply isn’t possible to grow a list, do the necessary analytics, organize activists on the ground, and maximize a return on social media overnight, in a week or even a few short months. This is why those of us who want to see Hillary run again need to support Ready for Hillary now. You can give $25, or $50, or $100 or more. I am wholeheartedly supporting this grassroots effort as I believe that Ready for Hillary will be a crucial element to ensuring that, if Hillary decides to run for president in 2016, her supporters will be organized and ready to hit the ground running from day one. I have made a financial investment in this effort and I hope you will join me in making a contribution to Ready for Hillary. Any amount you’d like to give will help and will be much appreciated. I’m ready for Hillary. Are you? If so, click here to contribute today.

 

With warm regards and appreciation,

 

Susie Tompkins Buell, San Francisco, CA

STB is probably the most passionate, clued in Clinton supporter I know of. This email tells me, more than any hint so far, that Hillary is running for President in 2016. Am I donating? Oh, yes, I am. I hope you do too.


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Romney’s lie about women

Here is Romney’s lie from last night’s debate:

 “And so we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders of women.”

Here is what happened:

“Following the election, MassGAP [Massachusetts Government Appointments Project] formed committees for each cabinet post in the administration and began the process of recruiting, interviewing, and vetting women applicants,” said Marissa Szabo, associate director of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, which founded MassGAP. “Those committees selected top applicants for each position and presented this information to the administration for follow-up interviews and consideration for appointment.”

Just one more thing and I am done here, because I have got to get back to Fairyland and my book. Hillary Clinton has got Obama’s back. Like so many times in the past, I am amazed by what a brilliant politician she is. And her husband, of course. You could be cynical about all this, but I like that she knows exactly what to do. I hope this means she is running in 4 years. I want this kind of political mind to be president.

ReelGirl star of the week: Kim Clijsters

Just after tennis player Kim Clijsters beat her opponent in the Australian open, she scored a major victory for the women of the world.

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After the game, when Clijsters went on camera with courtside interviewer Todd Woodbridge, she confronted him about a nasty text message he sent about her.

“You thought I was pregnant?” she said in front of 38,000 people, many more watching on TV. “I’m not.” Clijsters turned to the audience. “Let me say what was written in the message– she looks really grumpy and her boobs are bigger.”

Wow! Outside of bad reality TV, I’ve never seen a woman on camera directly confront a man for calling her fat! Not only that, when Clijsters was speaking she seemed happy, victorious, and beautiful. Instead of being humiliated by a guy making fun of her body, Clijsters turned the shame where it belonged, on the one who made the comment instead of the recipient and that is a huge win for women.

Whether you happen to be Hillary Clinton or a high school student, having someone make fun of your appearance, or even just the threat of it, has been an effective way to keep females quiet and in their place. The ‘ugly feminist’ and ‘dumb beauty queen’ are caricatures, flip sides of the same coin, both images relentlessly telling women: you can’t be strong and pretty, so make your choice. And, by the way girls, here’s a hint on which way you should go– women get power in our culture by being attractive to men, so if you risk trying to get powerful some other way, you may lose your power!

Another cool thing about this story– it was another female player who got the text from Woodbridge and exposed it to Clijsters. No catfight here. Most likely, not the reaction Woodbridge was expecting. What would happen if women refused to call each other fat? So often, we are are the ones acting out on our training to keep each other down by judging and rating each others appearances. Our competitive drives get funneled into socially acceptable and non-threatening to men stakes like beauty, boys, and popularity.

By calling out a ‘mean guy’ for his nasty gossip, Clijsters shook up stereotypes about women and men, also teaching us all a lesson: don’t trashtalk! Another cool thing about her– when she was actually pregnant, she ‘retired’ from tennis only to successfully return to competition a year later, showing the world that moms can be tennis stars.

Sometimes a victory speech isn’t just a victory speech. Here’s to hoping more women get the mike and change the world.

Missing Bernie Ward

Mostly, I miss Bernie Ward on Sunday mornings, when I hear “Godtalk” on KGO Radio. The first time I ever met Bernie was when he was hosting that show. I’d come to San Francisco from New York, just for the weekend. My sister was having an engagement party that I traveled to California for. But I ended up never going back home to New York. I went to Austin for a while, as a PA on a film, and after that wrapped, I got a job working for Willie Nelson on an hour length music video. (As far as I know, that particular piece of art never made it to TV or even video.) Then I came back to San Francisco. I went to KGO to see if I could get a producer job. I’d worked in New York for Alan Colmes who had, at the time,  a radio talk show out of a network called Daynet that used ABC’s studios. KGO was also out of ABC then so it all felt familiar to me.

KGO told me I could be a fill in, an on-call producer, which would probably entail late nights– Ray Taliaferro’s shift. And the weekends, odd hours. That was fine with me. I was twenty-six years old. I had no problem staying up all night.

So there I was at 6am, light just coming up, and Bernie walked into his studio. He sat down and played a recording of Amazing Grace on bagpipes. It was beautiful. I remember thinking: this is so weird. How did I get here at 6am, listening to Amazing Grace, listening to this guy talk about Jesus?

My mother is jewish, my father is episcopalian. I didn’t grow up with any religion. I was fascinated listening to Bernie go on about God, argue with the church, speak about the real messages of Jesus’ teachings, this jewish carpenter, Bernie called him.

Not long after I met Bernie, a producer spot opened for his night time show. It was the most fun job I’ve ever had, and Bernie, in spite of his reputation  as angry, cranky, or mean, was great to work with. He was kind, attentive, brilliant and hilarious. We had many disagreements, right from the start on the issues he discussed on air. I began working for him around the time of the whole Monica Lewinsky scandal. Bernie basically believed Hillary Clinton’s whole right wing conspiracy theory. Not that I didn’t believe that, I did. But for me, there was more to the story. I’d voted for Clinton as a young woman in my twenties, and I hated that this new kind of president, who I believed would do great things for women, had messed around with an intern. Instead of advancing powerful women, Clinton’s presidency was perpetuating antiquated sexual stereotypes that go back to biblical times i.e. a young woman’s sexuality destroys a powerful man.  I was so tired of that same old imagery and pissed off Clinton was reincarnating it again. “Imagine if Madeline Albright was considered sexy because of her brilliance, position of power and stature? Imagine that her young male interns had crushes on her? Do you see the sexism now?”

“I never thought about it that way,” Bernie said, and he put me on air for the first time. It felt great to have my ideas amplified through that microphone, wafting out over the Bay Area. Bernie essentially disagreed with me, but he was able to see my point of view and then elaborate on it. That’s a talent few people have. He encouraged me to write down my thoughts. I started publishing pieces in newspapers and magazines. Then I started getting invited on TV programs– CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America. Bernie taught me how to debate, that it was OK to interrupt, that I only needed to have three points I wanted to make and to just keep re-making those points.

Producing Bernie’s show– a liberal, no-less– I realized how many more men called up than women, eager to go on air. Also, when I invited women experts to come on the show as guests, they often refused, claiming they weren’t qualified, recommending a “better” colleague, often a male. My experience at KGO inspired me to start a non-profit that provided  professional training for women including media skills.

After seven years of producing the show, I left. That’s a pretty long time to be a producer in talk radio world. I had a baby, and initially my idea was that I would take care of the baby during the day and my husband would watch her at night. But I had no clue what being a mom was really like. I was exhausted all the time. I never saw my husband. Plus, I had my writing and the non-proft to work on by that time, and I didn’t really need KGO anymore. So I quit.

A couple years later, I got a call from Bernie. He told me that federal agents had come into his home and seized his computers; he would be charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.  He was sentenced to almost seven years in prison.

Since Bernie has been in prison, I think of him often, but I haven’t written him or visited him. I can’t reconcile in my head the Bernie I knew and the Bernie that was accused of so many things. I think seven years is a harsh sentence for someone who did not create any pornography. That said, I can’t see how Bernie could look at those kinds of images and not feel anything for those little kids.

I’ve never had something like that happen in my life, watch a good friend, a mentor, someone I idolized, have his whole life fall apart. I hope I can write him. I’d like to be able to visit him. But for now, I just miss the Bernie I knew.