Archive for the 'Media' Category

Rejected But Hopeful

Gender, Media, Writing 3 Comments »

Months ago, I mailed out a query letter to Ms. Magazine about a topic I am dying to publish–the ridiculousness of the fake teen diary Go Ask Alice and other cautionary tales “edited” by Mormon therapist Beatrice Sparks.  I previously sent a similar query to Bitch Magazine but never heard back from anyone. 

Through journalism classes, writing magazines, and conversations with fellow writers, I’ve learned to fear rejection letters like the plague.  I’ve been told that rejections can be harsh, mean-spirited, and capable of killing one’s self-esteem. 

With all of this in mind, I almost passed out on the spot the other day when I looked into my mailbox–there sat the stuffed, self-addressed stamped envelope I mailed to Ms. back in October.  I held my breath, opened the package, and (among all of the paperwork I had mailed in) sat this:

My first rejection letter.  The note at the bottom of the page reads: “This was a compelling query but we ultimately felt that Go Ask Alice is a bit too dated.  We’d be interested to hear similar cultural queries on more recent/emerging phenomena.” 

Despite receiving my first rejection letter, I feel great!  How is that possible, you ask?  Someone at Ms. took the time to handwrite a critique of my query so I have a better idea about how to present my ideas in a different way, in hopes of finally getting it published.  And nothing in the letter was mean or soul crushing. 

 

WAM!

Gender, Media, Pop Culture, Race, Writing 1 Comment »

This entry was started while working on my iPhone, how sweet is that? Unfortunately there have been some technological glitches, having nothing to do with the phone, that have caused this (yet again) to not be a live blog. I didn’t want to give up, so today I dragged Synergy (my 800 lb. beast of a laptop) to the conference today only to find out that the WiFi connection is not working here in the Stata Center. Le sigh. I guess I’ll try again next year!

Anyway, the conference was just as great as last year–inspirational, educational, fun.  Like last time, I am full of energy and ideas about my work.  Let’s see how far I take it during the next 364 days…

Haifa Zangana gave an educational and heart-wrenching keynote address about the current plight of women in Iraq. According to the speaker, the climate in Iraq is much worse than during Sadaam’s regime. 91% of Iraqi casualties are men, which leaves women bearing the sole burden of employment and raising children. She gave startling examples of issues that do not reach us through American media:

There are currently over one million widows and five million orphans. Iraqi women and male clerics are raped as tools of military domination and familial/religious shame. The word “democracy” has become the butt of jokes as well as a threatening word that is used against unruly children. Only 28% of Iraqi children attended school last year. Women are being preemptively imprisoned for being “potential suicide bombers.” The Iraqi government and military are both poorly prepared and not adequately representing or protecting its own people. American spending on the war has now reached $3 trillion—about $10,000 per U.S. family.

“Stereotyping and Typecasting in Reality Television” was a fun and interactive workshop presented by Bitch‘s Andi Zeisler and TV Producer Terra Renton.  I got to catch up on the past few years of reality TV (without the benefit of having cable telelvision) and I have to say that I didn’t miss much.  I do want to watch the entire season of that MTV dating show with Tia Tequila–THAT looked crazy.

The most helpful workshop I attended was Christine Cupaiuolo’s “Everything You Wanted to Know (and Didn’t Know You Needed to Know) about Blogs and Blogging.”  I finally understand the inner workings of RSS feeds, Digg, Feed Burner, etc.  I have enough new resources about blogging to last me for a month–hopefully I can find the time to apply many of them here.  I’m really optimistic about creating a better blog and bringing more traffic to my site through the lessons I learned in this workshop.

Hillary Debacle

Gender, Media No Comments »

*I want to preface this post by saing that I am not a Hillary Clinton supporter (at least not yet, anyway) so this is not a rant skewed by the fact that I like her as a presidential candidate.  I continue to follow all of the people running for office and have yet to settle on someone that really excites me.*

I am absolutely appalled by the media’s coverage of Hillary Clinton leading up to and following the New Hampshire primaries this week.  What is really surprising is that I am usually very supportive of media and pop culture, no matter how ridiculous–for example, I love jamming to the abomination that is Russian pop duo t.A.T.u and I’ve been known to enjoy Judge Judy!  But I am sick and tired of how far the media goes to create political spin out of nothing.  I remember the last election, when I was excited about casting my primary vote for Howard Dean.  He made one funny noise, that flooded the media ad nauseam, and his whole campaign went down the crapper…all before the primaries reached me in Little Rhody.  By the time I cast my ballot, he was toast.

Clinton has already been scrutinized for her cackling laugh, cleavage, “manly” attire, wrinkles, for being a “bitch,” and other equally ridiculous reasons to judge someone running for the presidency.  How about using a fine toothed comb to go over her political platform instead of spending valuable air time to ponder her on-the-road diet?

I don’t have a problem with pundits attacking a candidate’s plans–but it drives me batty to sit through what is now being called “Crygate.”  Because getting choked up is just as scandalous as Nixon-era political cover-ups.  Ugh.  I have read and heard several pundits, even on NPR!, discussing the effect that Crygate had on Hillary’s victory in New Hampshire on Tuesday…that there’s some connection between her “emotional breakdown” and the women who flocked to vote for her.

Best of the Interwebs 2007

Gender, Media, Pop Culture, Race, Sex & Sexuality No Comments »

Instead of droning on and on about my year in review and what I hope to accomplish in 2008, I thought I would instead highlight my favorite websites from the past year:

Offbeat Bride is a site tied to a book of the same name, written by Ariel Meadow Stallings. Both the book and site are must-reads for anyone who is planning a non-traditional wedding. Because of my studies, my entire belief system in regards to marriage has been turned upside down and it’s been refreshing to witness other couples mix things up a bit.

Electrolicious is the personal blog of the author listed above. I love reading her blog because she captivates me for too many reasons to count—she’s a freelance writer, pop culture guru, yoga-practicing vegetarian Seattleite photographer who has amazing fashion sense. What’s not to love?

Racialicious is the most comprehensive, intelligent website focused on race relations. Updated on a regular basis (yay!), posts often focus on race in popular culture. And I really appreciate the fact that a majority of the readers offer thought-provoking discussions in the comments section of each post.

Whedonesque. After five months of fairly regular television viewing, I have finally finished Buffy the Vampire Slayer and am one season away from the completion of Angel. Besides mourning the loss of major amounts of time (Buffy alone was 144 hours of programming!), the experience was completely positive. The creator, Joss Whedon, has renewed my belief that television can be a better medium than film—however, most of the current shows on TV are botching it big time. Whedonesque is a fan-created and maintained blog that Joss himself uses to update the world about new projects.

Buzzfeed is a quick and easy way to keep up with pop culture trends across all mediums, from the web and fashion to politics and architecture. If you’ve ever felt behind-the-times (is Chocolate Rain a new candy?), this site is for you.

FlowTV and Media Commons are my two favorite academic websites this year. Flow focuses solely on television, while Media Commons studies all facets of popular culture—but they both include cutting-edge theory on the media and the intersection of race, sexuality, gender, etc

Live WAM! Coverage (sorta…)

Gender, Media, Pop Culture, Race, Writing No Comments »

So I thought I would keep a running blog entry about the WAM conference I am attending this weekend. At this point (4pm on Saturday), I am having an AMAZING time. See below for details!

Yesterday, I attended the pre-conference which included smaller workshops and more time for networking with fellow feministas. My first workshop, Starting and Running a Feminist Publication (presented by Rita Henley Jensen and Elaine Lafferty) was an informative workshop about funding, advertising, and other managerial details about starting a publication. 

I had the distinct pleasure of a 15 minute session with author Liza Featherstone, who reviewed a few pieces of my writing and then gave me some excellent feedback. She really enjoyed my piece in Bitch about imaginary girlfriends; she said my writing was punchy and fresh in that particular article. She had more of an issue with my piece from Feminist Review. After reading it over with her, I do realize that I used very non-confrontational words and that I made assumptions about sexuality that I know not to be true (i.e. using the word “dating” is a weak word to encompass the entirety of sexuality). My biggest issue is that I struggle between being playful in my writing while using my real “voice” versus sticking to my journalism training (where it’s best to stick to AP format). Many of the publications that I wish to write for (Bitch, Bust, Venus, Off Our Backs, Make/Shift, etc.) encourage more informal and confrontational writing. 

Thenmozhi Soundararjan, the co-founder of the Third World Majority, gave the keynote address this morning. She presented some sobering facts about big media and the struggle for marginalized people (especially women of color) to gain access to the mainstream media as a means to promote their agendas. I was very moved by her comments about the fight between program development and the need to raise cash for overall sustainability. She was particularly strong in her statements about quantifying her work—I wish I had a recording device because I can’t be nearly as articulate as her—but she pretty much said that there is no way to quantify training youth to be leaders. 

Beyond “Catfighting”: Creating Strategic Collaborations within Feminist Media, which was presented by Andi Zeisler, Jessica Valenti, Nancy Goldstein, and Denisse Andrade. The panelists spoke about their respective blogs, how they increasingly network with other bloggers to spread the word about feminist issues, and how this model of collaboration may work with other forms of media. One woman had an excellent suggestion about how to write in a feminist frame of mind all of the time while also making sure that one gets published and paid all the time. She suggested that even if a feminist writer is writing a non-feminist article, she/he should use women as sources for that article. I do realize that my focus on feminism and media studies issues severely limits the number of publications who will feature my work and for some reason I never thought about this woman’s suggested method as a way to get paid while also promoting my causes. 

As a woman who is constantly reading and researching about feminism and the media, I figured that I had a comprehensive view of the various organizations that represent these subjects. Wow, I was so wrong. I have met so many women this weekend who work for and/or created organizations/publications that I have never heard of—RH Reality Check, Third Wave Majority, Women’s eNews, etc. 

Well that’s it for now….more tomorrow!

I Love Aht

Media, Random No Comments »

Mike Huckabee, the former Republican governor of Arkansas, was one of the guests on Meet the Press this morning. Huckabee was speaking to Tim Russert about his potential run for President; normally, this would be my cue to walk away since I’m already sick of hearing about the 10,000 people who are running in 2008. (As an aside, I’m deathly afraid of finding a candidate I like because I’m sure the media will ruin them before its even time for the primaries, a la Howard Dean). I gritted my teeth as the conversation focused on Huckabee’s conservative views on civil unions, gay adoption, abortion but I have to give credit when credit is due—he had some amazing things to say about the arts. When asked about his love of music, Huckabee stated, “one of the things that I’m very passionate about is music and art and education because it was life-changing for me. I think in a creative economy we’ve got to have a whole group of kids coming up and a generation whose left and right brains are stimulated. And it’s something we’ve got to address because the future economy is dependent upon a creative generation.” In the five years that I have religiously watched Meet the Press, I don’t ever remember another guest mentioning the importance of the arts in education and the American economy.

My teenage clients are screaming for creative opportunities because many of them go through high school without ever taking a music or art class. Since most of them live in poverty, they don’t have the opportunity or supply money join the drama club, take a drawing class, or even spend a few minutes writing in a journal. Some of our most successful workshops and field trips over the last few years have included crocheting, jewelry making, improv acting, and other arts-related activities that most kids participate in from birth (through extracurricular activities like the Girl Scouts). 

I was thinking about all of these things because tonight is our party for Ahtspot. I am so proud to be a part of a business that values the creativity and hard work of artists. If you’re in the Providence area tonight, come party with us!

Day Two–A Perfect Kind of Day

Media, Pop Culture, Random, Writing No Comments »

I had an absolutely fantastic day because I finally gave myself enough time to visit Borders to read dozens of magazines at once. My coffee (the new raspberry mocha freeze) earned two thumbs way down, but I really enjoyed the magazines. I caught up on this month’s issues of Mother Jones, Self, Boston, Everyday with Rachael Ray, Bust, Ms., Writer’s Digest, Real Simple, Psychology Today, Curve, Utne Reader, Yoga Journal, and several bead magazines. Even though I really wanted to purchase Mary Pipher’s new book on writing for social change, I walked out purchasing only two magazines—Boston because the issue includes a lengthy feature on home buying in the Boston area and Everyday with Rachael Ray because I want to make almost every recipe I read! 

When I returned from Borders, I decided to get a little domestic in order to prevent a backlog of chores during the workweek. I chopped up all my fresh veggies and fruit, and cooked tandoori chicken, low fat tuna casserole, grilled zucchini, and barbeque chicken pita pizzas. Hopefully this food can last through Thursday at least. 

I have also started reading Caroline Knapp’s Appetites: Why Women Want. I’m only on the first chapter, but I have already highlighted the hell out of it. Knapp tells the story of her own struggles with anorexia, unnamed hunger that many women experience within, and society’s messages about women and beauty. So far, it’s an excellent read. Unfortunately, the author died before the book was published.