I couldn’t work any more. I’d been working for hours , and scuttling around- writing emails, creating presentations for clients, doing laundry, scheduling meetings, walking dogs, picking up dry cleaning, monitoring the guys fixing our basement leak, planning menus for our holiday party. I felt like a damned Gen Y housewife from a Fox sitcom. Watch the Manic Pixie Dream Girl try to balance zany friends, starting a business, eating a cupcake only to discover it’s a muffin, walking and talking at the same time, cuddling puppies, mistakenly flirting with the girl barista and then shrugging adorably, and wearing both stripes and plaid in the same outfit! Yikesies! (Cue cute shrug.)
At the end of this frenetic day, it was time to settle down with a glass of wine and enter the brainless vortex of Facebook, forgetting the world. But while doing so, I came across a link to this video about the ways women are represented in the media, and how it makes us feel ashamed of our bodies, doubtful about our intellect, and like housewives or adorkable faeries. Damn you, symmetry of the universe. Damn you.
Normally, in the past, I wouldn’t have been interested & clicked on the link. However, there’s one thing that has surprised me in writing this blog: how much I am intrigued – and disappointed – by female news anchors.
Maybe it’s because I have an insane HD television that lets me see inside people’s souls/pores. But seriously, all I can pay attention to when these anchorettes comes on is the glare flashing off their mega lip gloss. It’s enough to disorient a mugger, or blind a small child. Except for Rachel Maddow, I find them largely to be yippy, long-winded, and shrill. Or else silent – Mika on Morning Joe has the role of reading news headlines, interrupting guests, and rolling her eyes while mumbling whenever Joe Scarborough says something incendiary.
Seriously – look at this menagerie of “serious” women anchors on t.v.:
When did the morning news become a Pussy Cat Dolls audition?
I mean, I feel like it’s normal to feel frumpy if you’re wearing leggings and a turtleneck to a bar and see stunning women in stilettos, sheaths, and great tans in the middle of the winter. But to be confronted by this when one is at the kitchen table, fresh out of bed, sans coffee, and looking for the news? I want news, people – not legs and lips. NEWS.
So this is certainly something I’ve found myself drawn to as I read and watch more news, but I didn’t really think about it until I watched that Miss Representation video. This got me thinking – how much does being a woman play into my need for Civicization?
I always get a little squeamish when I do things targeted for Women – I balk at the idea of being drawn to events because they involve a coven – but then again, I almost always do enjoy them. Off the top of my head I think about the Junior League, and workshops like the one I went to last week for Women Entrepreneurs.
For example – would Desiree, the workshop leader, have needed to focus the workshop around why we find it difficult to take ourselves seriously; why we’re uncomfortable asserting ourselves as a brand; why we recoil from putting ourselves at the front, even though we’ve done all the work; why we’re plagued by feelings that we don’t deserve power and wealth, even once we earn it – if the audience had been mixed, or comprised of men? The more I think about it, the less I’m sure.
I guess I try to be genderblind when thinking about work, self-image, professionalism. But it is different for women. I know well enough that trying to be “colorblind” discounts the serious differences people have to struggle with. I suppose I haven’t given much thought to how my being a woman has impacted me – professionally, intellectually. I don’t usually subscribe to the “wahwahwah, the media has brainwashed me to be a Barbie doll,” mentality, but you know what? The more I think about it, it is kind of true. Maybe not a Barbie doll, but at least a sexy anchor, a sexy librarian, a sexy teacher. It’s like we look at women representing our professions as Halloween costumes.
So, what is this Miss Representation project?
Looks like it’s primarily a film that did well at Sundance and is a baby of The Oprah. Beyond that, there’s a twitter hashtag to call out horrible depictions of women in the media; there are calls for YouTube videos speaking out against oppression of women; there’s a school curriculum.
All great – but kinda yawn.
However, there’s an interesting bit tucked away in a back corner . . . “ELECT WOMEN 2012.” As they explain:
Women make up 51 percent of the US population but only 17 percent of Congress. That puts the US at 94th in the world for the percentage of women in elected office.
The 2012 Project, a national, non-partisan campaign of Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics, is partnering with MissRepresentation.org to launch Elect Women 2012: Vote. Support. Run to encourage more women to get involved in the political process this year. Here’s how you can get involved in your community
They offer three options: 1.) Register to Vote, 2.) Support Women, and 3.) Run for Office
If you take a look under “Support Women,” a map pops up. When you select a state, a new window appears that lists all the women in office for your state. Pretty neat.
If you look under “Run for Office,” it takes you to a form to fill out and send, so that a “candidate coordiantor” will contact you. My curiosity sure is tempting me. While I have no plans to run for any office, what happens if you click that button? What does this candidate coordinator do? Why doesn’t it ask you anywhere on this form what office you’re running for?
I closed the window before doing something crazy.
I see that this project is largely sponsored by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. I never knew that existed. With a quick click, I’m on my way to explore it.
There’s a great map that shows you women in elected office for the whole country. It’s pretty fascinating!
Wow, and under Education and Training, they have some great sounding programs – Ready to RUn, and NEW Leadership. The former “offers comprehensive campaign trainings and resources to help women run and win elective office.” NEW Leadership is “committed to empowering and educating students through programs which teach about women’s participation in politics and policymaking, cultivate leadership skills, and build networks between participants and community leaders.”
Hmm. Me likes. Me likes a lot.
Stop! Step away from the computer! Quell your insane desires to apply for everything that has an active link, woman!
But I’m intrigued . . .
Well, what do you think? Do these programs look interesting to you? Are there others you know about that look better?
And if you’re looking for further procrastination, check out this TED Talk from Vogue Model Cameron Russell on how she feels uncomfortable for being the beneficiary of centuries of racial and gender oppression. It’s actually kind of amazing – only in small part because she dresses like me from college/Anne Frank in order to dispel ideas that she is beautiful. Enjoy!