Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

30 August 2007

Who owns See Jane?

Have you ever wondered why we don't see more girls as lead characters in children's movies and shows? Have you ever stopped to figure out the ratio of boys and girls as characters period? Well earlier this year, Dads & Daughters, released a study through the See Jane program, about gender and racial disparity in TV shows. In 2006 they released a studies about gender, gender roles for boys, and occupation in G-rated movies. All fabu work!

The See Jane program was touted with Geena Davis' name attached on press releases and fund raising efforts. When I first saw all this, I thought two things: WOW! About time! and Go Geena!
But today I read a story via the Chronicle of Philanthropy that Geena is now suing for ownership of the See Jane program. It boils down to who came up with the idea.

In 2004, Davis allegedly conceived the See Jane program, for which she has since raised $750,000, according to the suit. She actively promoted the program while working with Dads and Daughters.

See Jane's mission initially focused on research. According to a See Jane-sponsored study released in March, the way gender is portrayed on television can critically impact a child's development, particularly the "task of integrating what it means to be male or female into their own personalities."

According to her suit, Davis always maintained "complete and exclusive control of the See Jane concept."

I love both See Jane and Dads & Daughters, so I hope that they can come to a good conclusion without bankrupting D&D. They are doing such great work together and I hope that this is just a tussle and they can go back to viewing what our children are watching through that gender lens.

I know that it's very hard to conceive an idea, hand it over to someone else to run with, and then see things not going as well as you had hoped. I have no idea if this is what is really happening though. As I said, I just want them to go back to the research that makes us go Hmm....

Here are some findings from the various research reports:

  • In the 101 studied films, there are three male characters for every one female character.
  • Fewer than one out of three (28 percent) of the speaking characters (both real and animated) are female.
  • G-rated films show few examples of male characters as parents or as partners in a marriage or committed relationship.
  • Almost twice as many non-white males (62%) as white males (37.6%) are portrayed as physically aggressive or violent.
  • In...G-rated movies, whether animated or live-action, the most common occupation for female characters is white collar work, such as clerical and secretarial positions.
  • The top three jobs for male characters are white collar, blue collar and military.
  • Three quarters of all the single, speaking characters on children’s television were White, giving young television viewers a distorted ethnic worldview.
  • In live-action children’s TV (shows using human actors), 53.9 percent of characters were male and 46.1 percent were female. This translates into a ratio of 1.17 males to every 1 female—the most balanced ratio among forms of children’s electronic entertainment.
There are more reports due out, including one on the hypersexualition of children. I canNOT wait for that one.

X-posted at the Red Thread at Chicago Parent

Technorati tags: feminist, Das and Daughters, Geena Davis, See Jane, movies

25 August 2007

Fatherhood in the balance

I have to admit that I scoff at fatherhood initiatives. While the PR people might tell dads to buck up and take time for the kid, his work place tells a different story. Well, except that dads are the great winners in the wage gap war. Anywho, another celebrity became a daddy this week - Tom Brady.

The whole world seemed to know that his ex-girlfriend and baby mama was about to give birth. It was reported that Brady asked for some time off to be at the birth (which he missed by minutes) as well as afterwards to be with his child. I cant' find any reports if he's taking paternity leave, but he was back in the game for a pre-season game on Friday. Thus, one of the biggest names in professional sports can't even get a week off to be with his new baby? What kind of message does that send to all the dads & young men watching the game?

In a different show of fatherhood responsibilities, Tony Snow, White House spokesman, has quit his $168,000 job because it's not covering all the bills. Um, yeah...I snorted too when I first read that. Somehow I doubt it's medical bills because, well, unlike millions of Americans, he has health insurance. College tuition? I bet most of the parents of the students I work with don't make that much. Sure, Snow's gonna go back to spewing on the TV for bucks, which I'd do in a second if offered. But come on...at least give us a better reason! One that doesn't make us look at our tiny bank accounts and think, "Dude!" OTOH, maybe by spewing on TV, Snow will have more time to spend with his family.

Ah, celebrity fatherhood.

Technorati tags: Tony Snow, Tom Brady, football, NFL, fatherhood, family leave

20 August 2007

Vote on Global Health





Voting ends at midnight on August 25th.

Technorati tags: blogheract, health

17 August 2007

Where are????

A few years ago the big question was where are the women bloggers. And honestly, we still ask that, especially in niche communities and the lack of women A-list bloggers.

I just finished listening to a great podcast by Motherhood Uncensored about blogging parents of color. The whole piece is about parents, mostly mothers, of color, where are they, who are they, and why the hell marketers aren't throwing freebies at our feet?

Thankfully I've been hooked into a few marketing networks and I feel like I'm getting enough freebies to review, at least as many as I can handle. But seriously, I'm not flooded with requests. Since Blogher I've found many a mommy blog that seem to be nothing but product reviews! Oh, my, goddess, but some bloggers are swimming in free shit.

But back to the real topic. When I do think about the other mommy bloggers I read, they are mostly not women of color. Does it matter? I'd say yes. Why? Because I see more and more that race is playing a part of our parenting decisions as our daughter gets older. I've thought and had others remark that we should be 'good' when applying to schools this fall since we get to check the "hispanic" box. Then again, the school we really want her to attend is pretty well full of Latin@s. Our last names give it away as well, so no use in not checking the box either!

I have more thoughts, but I think I'll work on them a bit more. Just wanted to let you all know about this podcast and my initial thoughts.

Technorati tags: mother, blogging, race, bloggers of color

14 August 2007

When the lioness finally rears her head

A recent 'discussion' over homelessness on this site has gripped me like a tick. It won't let go. Not that I'm not reminded of homelessness every day when I pass the McDonald's on Ashland & Fullerton (?) or after work at the expressway ramp. But the homeless population I never see are the families and there's a good reason for that.


According to the report, "Family Homelessness in Our Nation: A Problem with a Solution", by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, families are the hidden homeless population. This is why the city of Chicago's recent 'survey' of homeless is a load of poopy diapers.Add to that, news from the Sun-Times that the Guv, G-Rod, considers homeless shelters 'pork'.

In their report, the National Alliance used Washington, DC, our wonderful nation's capital, as the example, but then also reports state and national data points. Here are some highlights to ponder:

  • 30% of children in the foster care system have a homeless or unstably housed parent;
  • A housing subsidy, at a cost of $6,805 per year, is a significantly more cost effective way of dealing with lack of housing than placing children in foster care at approximately $17,000 per year;
  • 5 million families receive federal assistance to pay for housing, but there are at least twice that many families eligible for such subsidies that do not receive them because of lack of funding;
  • In 1971 there were 300,000 more affordable units than there were low-income families who needed them;
  • In 2001 there were 4.7 million fewer units than families;
Abuse in the home is one reason families become homeless. Despite what naysayers may say, abuse is a very complex cycle to break. Mostly because those being abused are often broken of their will and separated from loved ones. One brave mama tells her story:

I left after a 'minor' beating, meaning no skin breaking/bleeding,and no kicking. He 'just' pushed me into a wall, smacked me really hard several times and knocked me down. This was in response to him coming home and finding me on the phone. He had recently stopped taking the phone with him when he left and allowed me to use the phone again, so I thought it was ok to use the phone when he was gone. I was wrong in that belief and I paid for it that day.


I say this was a minor beating because prior to this much worse had occurred. I had been thrown down a flight of stairs and lost a baby, I had my head banged on the sidewalk leaving me with multiple fractures to my skull, and I had been held hostage, duct-taped, and threatened with a hatchet in front of our child. So why was the 'minor' beating the trigger for me to leave? One reason is it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.


A bigger reason was my daughter I-bop's response. Usually after he beat me he would storm out. I would cry and she, age 3 at the time, would rush to console me, hugging me and patting my face. I lived for those moments of kind touch from someone and felt my daughter was the only person who cared for me in the world. This time she looked at me sobbing and shook her head, and turned away. She actually turned her back on me, hunched her shoulders, and started playing with her toys. Her whole body language conveyed, You are a sorry woman and you get no more pity from me. It was like being doused with cold water. I saw clearly for the first time how it all was negatively affecting her. The hunched shoulders were a clear sign because that was how she was whenever he was around; all hunched over and afraid. It occurred to me that my child was also afraid of...me. and I understood why she would be, because she saw, at 3 years old, that she couldn't depend on me or trust me to keep her safe. She saw that I couldn't even keep my own self safe. I saw clearly for the first time that my child deserved better. My child deserved a chance.

Read the rest.


How fragile is the support system for families? So fragile that word got out that the only shelter for families in Massachusetts had burned down and the blogosphere was a fire with outrage. It wasn't, but it was the only one for a certain population.


Women are keenly aware, even if we live in a state of denial, that we are often living on the edge of poverty. Whether due to losing our job, getting so sick we can't work, losing our partner due to divorce or death, we just know. I have a good paying job, but I couldn't afford to stay here if my partner died (insurance will help). In today's tight economic reality, even couples are one paycheck or accident away from poverty.


Homeless moms and dads are a part of this community. To say that they don't deserve our help or respect is to deny that it could ever happen to us. We who are hard working. We who are highly educated. We who would never chose to be homeless.


As mothers we are even more aware that sacrifice ourselves on a daily basis for our kids. Whether we stay up a few extra hours to get laundry done, bake that last batch of cookies, or skip out on that much needed massage because well, someone needs to cuddle, we sacrifice. We want the best for our kids and society tells us that means two parents and a nice home. Why would we leave that?


I have a friend whose mother chose to be homeless instead of staying with someone who abused her and the kids. And for that, I thank her, because she saved three kids and herself. I thank the shelter who helped them get on their feet. But I hate to think that if she had to make that decision today, my friend and her brothers might be very different people.


X-posted from The Red Thread at Chicago Parent

Technorati tags: homeless, feminism, family

13 August 2007

Birth Control Ninja

The last week was crazy at my house, but things worked out fine and I was able to meet a friend (who moved to the burbs, traitor) Saturday night for The Second City's Girls' Night Out: Touched Up at the Metropolis in Arlington Heights. First, I love Second City. I rarely see improv if my friend from Brooklyn, who is an improv junkie, isn't in town. Second, I met my friend while we were serving on the board of the Chicago chapter of NOW many moons ago. Thus, you have the expectations set. Funny and Feminist. Yes, we are too both!

The audience was 90-95% women, but letmetellya, it was not a man bashing show at all. In fact, I'd say that it was pretty harsh on us gals, so guys, feel free to join your partner at this show. BUT, women, this show was pretty funny and well, the title says "girls night out" and I do believe in following directions.

My favorite skits included a marriage therapy session where the wife tells a story, the husband recounts it, and well all know he isn't really "listening" to her. It goes on and on until a fairly good punch line. But honestly, the best punch line came 10 seconds after we stopped clapping when a woman in front of me asked, "Are we really like that?" Um, yes.

Claudia Michelle Wallace sings an outstanding love song to Barak Obama. Sorry, I didn't take notes, but I remember that I didn't stop laughing.

There was also the skit where the one man in the show talks to his fellow white hetero males aka Republicans (that's what he said, not me!) about voting for Hillary. Yes, Hillary. Why? Because if she wins, us chicks can stop whining about discrimination. Kinda like when people say the country is color-blind because Condi Rice is so powerful. Um, yeah...

The worst skit had to be the pseudo-lesbian aka really drunk hetero BFFs deciding to have sex. It winds its way to a breast cancer scare! Sorry to spoil it, but come on, breast cancer? So wrong on many levels, including having the audience sit far too long in silence before a really bad punchline.

Overall it was a good show and worth the drive out and back. I guess if the suburbanites can drive to North & Wells, I can drive to AH. And you'll have to see the show to figure out the title of this post. Or buy me a martini.

GNO runs August 2 - September 1, 2007 and tickets are $25. Shows are on Thursdays 7:30 p.m., Fridays 8 p.m., Saturdays 7 p.m. Grab your tickets here.

Technorati tags: Second City, Improv, Arlington Heights, Girls Night Out, comedy, feminism

07 August 2007

Puke Pile: WIfe Swap Call

A friend received this from ABC TV: [my comments in brackets]

Hello,

My name is D*** G***. I'm a Casting Producer for ABC's Primetime show, "Wife Swap." [Danger Will Robinson!] I hope you don't mind me contacting you, but we're gearing up for a fourth season at the moment and we're currently looking for unique families with LOTS of personality and strong family philosophies! Specifically, I'm looking for strong, feminist mothers who are proud to be wearing the pants and ruling their roost. [I wore a skirt yesterday and I don't quite rule our roost. Most feminists I know have a fairly egalitarian household. It's not quite 50/50, but we're not whipping our men around the place. See, bias already in the call.]Feel free to forward this on to anyone you think would be interested in this unique opportunity! [No thanks.]

In case you are unfamiliar with the show, the premise of Wife Swap is to take two different families and have the moms switch places to experience how another family lives. Half of the week, mom lives the life of the family she is staying with. Then she introduces a "rule change" where she implements rules and activities that her family has. It's a positive experience for people to not only learn but teach about other families and other ways of life. Wife Swap airs on Disney owned ABC television on Mondays at 8 pm- the family hour! [So very positive to see families used as entertainment! I love how she touts this as a Disney project. Why don't they try this with Disney characters? Oh, wait...most of the mothers are dead! Maybe with 101 Dalmatians and the Artisocats. They both had mothers in there. Oh, wait, the mom in Artisocats was single, right?]

Requirements: Each family must consist of two parents and at least one child between 7 and 17 and should reside in the continental U.S. (There may be other children living in the home who are older or younger than the required ageas long as one child is in the required age range.) [Yes, you have to have at least one child that can remember all the drama for therapy.]

Participating in the show is a very unique experience that can be life changing for everyone. In addition, each family that tapes an episode of Wife Swap receives $20,000 as compensation for their time. Anyone who refers a family that appears on our program receives $1000 as a 'thank you from us. [Very life changing to allow some radical right winger into your home bullying your husband around and you going into her home and seeing how the other side lives. Oh...could I swap with the woman who just had her 17th baby? But I'd sooo have to get at least $100K for that.]

I appreciate you taking the time to read this email and I hope to hear from you soon. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

[Where to start? Will you put my child into a situation where she will cry and you'll love it? Will you just go away and stop filling our airwaves with this crap?]


feminism,Reality TV

03 August 2007

WIMN in Chicago

Last night Women & Children First was the site for a house party/discussion for Women In Media & News (WIMN) that I organized. I'm on the board of this fabulous organization for many reasons, some I gave last night:

1. I'm tired of the media telling me that I'm wrong. Wrong size, wrong color, wrong hair, on and on.

2. I'm frustrated that my local TV news is 30 minutes long, minus commercials, down to 25 mins (max), 8 minutes for weather and sports, now we're down to 17 minutes...AND then we waste precious time not on debating Iraq, health care, or global warming, but on the daily hijinks of Hollywood stars. Isn't that why we invented "Entertainment Tonight?"

3. Women reporting the news does make a difference.

On that last point, this morning on American Morning on CNN when Kiran Chetry reported on how American moms are breastfeeding more, but not as long as we should. She asked the medical expert this: "I know that when I breastfeed, it was time confusing and the hardest thing I've ever done. Is that a factor?" BRILLIANT! Do you think that Anderson Cooper would have asked that question?

Last night's event was a good discussion that covered essentially why we need to change the landscape media plays on. It's not ok for the media to focus on Hillary's boobs, Katherine Harris' mascara, or Geraldine Ferraro's dress size. It's pathetic to think that Hillary can't win the White House because "Commander in Chief" was a bad show no one watched or because no one takes Katie Curic seriously as a news anchor. How can we as a people get the media to focus on policy issues rather than personality? Ann Elizabeth Moore said it best, "I'm angry that I have to spend time on this instead of on the issues!"

Of course, there was no golden solution that percolated up. Rather 25 people came away a bit more informed on media justice issues, where WIMN fits into the movement, and some insight into what we can do to help. What is important is to follow legislation.

A lot of the headaches we have today are the result of the 1996 TeleCommunications Act that Clinton signed that allowed fewer people & companies to own more of the media. Which is why we can have people like Mudoch own so much of what we consume. Did you know he owns MySpace too? The recent purchase of our beloved indy Chicago Reader has been played up as one indy buying another. In reality, a large media group helped finance the deal, putting the Reader in the "another one bites the dust" pile.

Get involved with WIMN or other media reform & justice groups.

I did learn one big distinction last night: Media reform orgs want to change what we have. Indy media orgs want to create something new.

Low power FM may be the next thing. We need to wait it out a bit more, but if anyone has info on it, please send it in!

So get on WIMN's action alert list, read our blog, and if you can spare some change, donate. We're a staff of one, our Executive Director, with an army of volunteers. Imagine what we can do if we had more staff?!

BTW - You can also support us all this month by clipping this coupon and shopping at WCF. We get 10% of your purchase!


WIMN, feminism, media