Archive for March, 2007

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!

Subvert the Dominant Paradigm!

Pop Culture, Sex & Sexuality, Writing No Comments »
  • When you have a minute, please check out my latest piece of writing—my review of Jennifer Baumgardner’s Look Both Ways. I fell in love with her work during my sophomore year of college when I discovered Manifesta, the book that she co-wrote with Amy Richards, and this new book doesn’t disappoint either.
  • I am unnaturally obsessed with Girlyman’s new album, Joyful Sign. I highly recommend giving them a listen and I give the following songs two thumbs way up: Good Enough, Through to Sunrise, St. Peter’s Bones, Joyful Sign, and You Were the Lie.
  • Although I completely disagree with 90% of the content of Howard Stern’s radio show, I have to take a moment to applaud him for attempting to take down American Idol. Way to subvert the dominant paradigm, Howard! Maybe he’ll take it once step further and stop perpetuating the women as meat fallacy? I dislike American Idol with such a passion for so many reasons (the untalented contestants, the machinery of music making that favors pop music, the fact that the show could be whittled down to less than 30 minutes if Fox wasn’t such advertising revenue whore). Stern told his viewers to vote for Sanjaya Malakar, quite possibly one of the least talented people to ever make it past the first round. I really hope that Stern’s audience has more clout than the millions of teeny boppers that vote for the other contestants.

Feminist Bullets:

Pop Culture No Comments »
  • I have started seriously contemplating ideas for PhD programs once I complete my Master’s degree. I know that I have a little less than two years before I’m done at Simmons, but this is a really serious decision that I want to start right away. I want to make sure that the courses I am taking and the research that I conduct now will make for a great PhD application. As of right now, the Holy Grail is Brown University’s Modern Culture and Media program which accepts very few students each year. My second choice is UMASS Amherst’s Communications program and third choice is Yale’s Film Studies program. At this point, I’d rather not search outside of New England because this is where I am grounded—also, having a business that caters to New Englanders puts another crimp in leaving the area!
  • I also have quite a decision to make in terms of my class for the fall semester. My options are either a.) TA an undergraduate film class while taking an independent study or b.) do not TA so I can take a class entitled “Representing Gender: Global Perspectives on Art, Media and Popular Culture.” I think I’m going with choice B because the class is held at MIT and it’s a chance to take a class with PhD level students. But I’m still not 100% sure yet. Hmmm…
  • I am sad to announce that while watching Grey’s Anatomy last night, I actually got sucked into the storyline a little bit. Oh the shame! But I wonder if my emotional involvement had anything to do with the fact that it was the first time I watched the show on my laptop, with headphones. Normally, I watch Grey’s across the room from our old-ass-wood-encased-television; with my eyesight, everything is perpetually blurry. Last night, I was sitting directly in front of my laptop and the sound was crystal clear in my ears. Something to think about…in the mean time, I still profess that it is the most ridiculous show on the planet. But I am so happy that Callie kicked George to the curb. And I hope he caught a horrendous case of syphilis from his romp with Izzie. But I still hate this show. Seriously.


Gender, Writing No Comments »

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned the Center for New Words, but they are an inspiring feminist center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They hold regular events such as open mic nights, Feminism and Dessert discussion groups, and presentations by well-known feminists. Because of an event at the CNW last fall, I had the chance to meet my idols from Bitch and in two weeks they will be hosting WAM —a conference about Women, Action & the Media. I don’t think I’ve ever been interested in a conference enough to pay for it myself, but WAM immediately captured my interest (and my money).

On the first day of the conference, I’ve signed up for several workshops dealing with freelance feminist writing. Ellen Goodman, one of my favorite journalists of all time (doesn’t hurt that she’s from New England!), is giving the keynote address. The next day is more workshops and networking events with local women. I’ve also read that Jessica Valenti, the mastermind behind Feministing and Andi Zeisler, one of the above-mentioned goddess from Bitch, will be there too.

I’m not sure what to expect, but it all feels very powerful to me. Apparently the organizers connect a woman who is attending for the first time with a WAM “veteran.” Although I’ve done quite a bit of work in terms of feminist issues, I’ve never felt that community or camaraderie that I read about during the second wave of feminism. The third wave, despite that fact that it feels like a strong force, has always felt insular to me; maybe it is because there isn’t much feminist activity in Little Rhody. I guess I’ll report on this more after experiencing WAM for myself. Anyone want to join me? It’s not too late to register!

Paging Doctor ______

Pop Culture, Random No Comments »

Well the good news is that I don’t seem to have gallstones because the ultrasound showed nothing of importance. The bad news is that medical care in the United States is ridiculous—I have been trying to reach my primary care doctor for almost a week to find out about next steps and she has yet to call me back. I left her a message on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and only received a call back from an assistant on Wednesday who said that the doctor was faxing a prescription for Prilosec to my local pharmacy. Of course, the assistant had no idea why the doctor wants me to take that medication—brilliant. In the mean time, until I can make human contact with a trained medical professional, I’m living off of a very fancy diet that consists of plain gluten free pasta, peas, tuna, bananas, applesauce, and Fruity Pebbles—anyone want to come over for dinner? 

I don’t have class again until March 20th because of Spring Break and the professor being out of town during the following week. She gave us plenty of reading to pass the time, but most of it is in the form of novels. I feel like I’m cheating because I’ve been spending my homework time reading novels instead of heavy theory. We started with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s novels Sisters of the Heart and The Vine of Desire. I finished the first one in a day and now I’m about half way through The Vine of Desire. Once that’s finished, I have three novels by Andrea Barrett (which I am told are rather confusing—great!) and a little bit of theory. Somewhere along the way I need to start working on my Jack Bauer paper, too. In the words of Jack himself, “Damnit!