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29 April 2016

Flashback Friday: The Gender Voting Gap by Kartemquin Films

cartoon of a man talking to a woman. Woman giving side eye.

To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Kartemquin Films is releasing films to download for free! This week the film is from 1984 and "explores the growing difference in the voting patterns of men and women (the gender gap) that could no longer be denied by the mid-1980's. Issues like compensation equality, environmental preservation, subsidized childcare and healthcare became wedge issues in Ronald Reagan's America as more and more women joined the workforce." It is wonderfully illustrated by Nicole Hollander. At the end of the film there is an update on the issues from 2012. It is pretty sad how much the 1984 film is still relevant in 2016, especially considering Donald Trump's "woman card" comments.

You can view the film online below, but if you visit Kartemquin Films you can download the film for free and own it forever!


26 April 2016

Book Review: The Obsession

CW: The plot of this book deals with sexual assault and emotional abuse. Some graphic depictions of assault.

Photo by Viva la Feminista

I have to admit that I read the description of this book when it was pitched to me pretty quickly. I am sure I was pulled in by the "heroic young woman moving past tragedy" framing because it did not really dawn on me that I was asked to review a Nora Roberts book. And I didn't even really know who Roberts was, I mean I knew her name, but I didn't have all the parts of the math equation. Then when I got the book I put it off long enough I had to sprint through the book to get it done even close to my deadline. Suffice to say, this review is from someone who didn't realize she was reading a romance novel until she was done and read the author's Wikipedia entry. So the book...

As I said, I decided to sprint through The Obsession by Nora Roberts to even get close to my deadline. Luckily this book grabs a hold of you so quickly that I would have sprinted through it even if I had started it a year early. The first few chapters document the first 20 or so years of Naomi's life that at one point I was pretty disappointed not to get more into those pivotal years. We go from Naomi learning the awful truth about her deranged father and saving a young woman's life to buying a huge house on Puget Sound, Washington that it was a bit whiplashy. But you soon learn that The Obsession is a roller coaster ride and that was just the opening drop.

I want to stop and give major props to Roberts for her ability to describe the Puget Sound area so vividly. I have family in that area and have spent some time in that area, thus my photo at the top. If there is one area outside of Chicago I would move to in a heartbeat, it would be the Pacific Northwest. Roberts doesn't come out and say exactly where Naomi's house is, but from the small names dropped and description, I knew exactly where it was. I could smell where Naomi would hike to take her photographs. I envied her sunrise view cause I have seen the same views from my godmother's kitchen.

When Naomi moves to Washington, she was finally stopped running from her past as the daughter who caught this century's most notorious serial killer. After having been raised in New York by her gay uncles and enduring the suicide of her emotionally abused mother, Naomi finally settles down in an old bed and breakfast in much need of a rehab. She is making her living as a photographer - half artsy stuff that sells in NY galleries and half stock photos. While she has changed her last name, Naomi is always on high alert for anyone who might discover her real origins. This is in fact one reason she chose a sleepy small town to lay down roots.

Naomi quickly is drawn into this small town's social scene, especially after catching the eye of the town hottie/rocker/mechanic. See...it takes awhile for the romance to show up! You get how it took me awhile to realize I was in for some steamy love scenes. I have to admit that I felt the same as Naomi when Xander showed up. He is brash and overconfident in himself. Ugh, I thought. Then as he worked his way into Naomi's heart, he also did to mine.

When Roberts gets this roller coaster moving through the zero-G loops, you are racing through the pages again. I'm proud of myself for picking up on some of the foreshadowing to figure out a little of the ending. There were certainly times when I was thinking, "No, No..NO!! This is not how this ends up!" But Naomi's past does indeed catch up to her now that she has stopped running.

The actual conclusion of the mystery part of the book was only half-satisfying. But the ride was good enough that I would recommend this book be tossed in your beach bag this summer. It will keep you engaged as you take in some sun, but also a book you could conceivably leave for a few days and pick up without a problem. But....I highly doubt you'll be able to put the down long enough for that to happen.

After I did find out I had read a romance novel, definitely not my usual genre, I did a bit of a search on Nora Roberts. She is listed as a feminist romance novelist. Indeed Naomi does mention feminism in the book. The manner in which the book treats Naomi's mother's abuse is honest and gentle in a very feminist way. In fact, I kinda felt that one conversation could had been ripped from an emotional abuse brochure. I would not be surprised if Roberts gets letters from women who say, "I didn't realize I was in an abusive relationship until I read this book." When Naomi discovers her father's secret life, the family moves in with her mom's gay brother and his husband. Their relationship is treated without much fanfare outside of moments early on where Naomi's mom and uncle have to talk out the contradictions between his marriage and the morals she came to believe under her husband's rule, especially since it is an interracial marriage. Naomi is a strong character who determined to not only support herself, but save herself from her father's sins.

Again, this is an excellent beach book for the upcoming summer. But if you buy it now, I dare you to make it past Memorial Day before you devour this book.

Please purchase your own copy of The Obsession from Powells or Indiebound and support Viva la Feminista.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy from a publicist.  

15 April 2016

EVENT: espnW Comes to Chicago



The pay gap that the US Women's Soccer team plays under has been an issue for decades. The team went on strike in the 1990s. Even as the team was fighting towards their third World Cup the media covered their wage gap. Now the team is fighting for fair pay. But soccer is not the only sport that shortchanges women players. Equal pay is just one topic that should be discussed at an upcoming event in Chicago on women's sports. The inequity of women athlete salaries is often dismissed to the lack of fans who attend games, thus less sponsorship dollars and on and on. But it trickles down to unequal playing conditions in high school too. Hopefully this gathering of women's sports influencers will craft some sort of plan to tackle the inequities of not just salaries, but media attention that often drives fan attention. If I can see developmental league basketball on ESPN, I should be able to see professional softball and basketball.

On April 20th, 2016, espnW will host the first-ever espnW: Women + Sports Chicago event.
Inspired by the renowned espnW: Women + Sports Summit, this one-day event will unite
a powerful group of sports leaders, marketing executives, professional athletes,
and influencers in the women + sports space.

While tickets are $595, if you are a student you can email ESPNw for a discounted rate. 

13 April 2016

Review: Confirmation

Kerry Washington (Credit: Frank Masi/courtesy of HBO)
Twenty-five years ago the country, if not the world, were flung into a crash course on sexual harassment. A staffer’s call to a legal professor in Oklahoma ignited a fire that has yet to be extinguished. That professor was of course Anita F. Hill and that call asked her if she knew anything about her former boss Clarence Thomas that should be known before his confirmation hearing to join the U.S. Supreme Court. What came next is still hotly debated and is now a dramatized movie on HBO starring Kerry Washington as Hill, Wendell Pierce as Thomas and Greg Kinnear as then-Senator Joe Biden sporting an excellent accent.

Confirmation dives right into the intrigue and suspense of how does the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee handle the discovery that a number of young women claim to have been harassed by Thomas. Considering that we know the outcome of the hearings as Justice Thomas just asked his first question in a decade from the Supreme Court bench, the movie still had me at the edge of my seat. The movie focuses on the time when Anita Hill is brought into the confirmation process, Thomas’ reaction and how the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee handles the entire situation. I found myself cheering on Biden, then screaming at the screen later into the hearings.

Among the many heart wrenching scenes, the one that broke was when Hill had to sit down and not just inform her parents of what Thomas did to her, but also prepare them for the onslaught of attacks. Thomas is portrayed as angry and aloof. At one point he refuses to even watch Hill’s testimony on TV despite, as his wife points out, he will be questioned about her accusations. The movie is almost stolen from Washington’s excellent portrayal of Hill by the dance Senate staffers Carolyn Hart (Senator Biden) and Ricki Seidman (Senator Kennedy), engage in to attempt to ensure Hill gets a fair hearing.

I was in high school when the confirmation hearings occurred. When I saw her speak a few years ago at a luncheon in Chicago, I was reminded of her bravery. I was reminded of how she gave me language for what I was experiencing in school. She remarked how she knows this is her legacy - she taught us what sexual harassment was and how to speak up about it. Watching this movie you are reminded of the price Hill paid, especially at the time, to make sure the Senate knew everything possible about Thomas before voting on his lifetime appointment to the court.

Confirmation debuts on HBO on Saturday, April 16, 2016


Disclaimer

This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces


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