Sometimes after watching a movie trailer I have an immense desire to experience the film despite my having no real understanding of what it is about. The crispness of the three-minute preview of UK filmmaker Sally Potter'sRage has caused a pleasing chemical reaction in my brain, and after reading more about Potter's work, I am convinced a full viewing will be all the more pleasureful.
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Long before Lawrence Summers’s unfortunate remarks at Harvard University a few years ago, there have always been powerful forces which assigned all manner of illogic to women’s "inability" to excel at math and science. Their brains were too feeble to handle such difficult concepts, they claimed. And besides! Math and science were "right brain" and therefore "masculine" sciences so it wasn’t in a woman’s nature to be interested. Although there were some textbooks written to give women the knowledge they would need to carry on a polite conversation if the subject of science should arise, these books framed mathematics, physics, biology and chemistry in ways that the authors felt women could understand—through the lens of romantic love. Compound these shoddy arguments and weak study materials with the practice of barring women from attending universities and there was a pretty good chance you would not have seen an overwhelming number of women studying calculus 200 years ago.
However, there was certainly one women determined to pursue her love for mathematics, and she is the subject of our Adventure in Feministory today.
We have an endless fascination with tales of women and revenge, from cheating husbands forced to grovel in public to a little well-executed arson in an evil ex's home. But while schadenfreude makes for fun reading, does the media's rush to cover stories of public payback help perpetuate stereotypes of women as victims and men as wrongdoers? Or is revenge just really that sweet?
The television newswire was abuzz last week with the hiring of two new SNL funnywomen, Jenny Slate and Nasim Pedrad, but as it turns out, they’re not there to up the vagina quotient on a show that has always been Mostly About The Men. No, Slate and Pedrad are replacements for last year’s new ovary-hires, Michaela Watkins and Casey Wilson. And I suppose I should be saying something now about how insulting it is that women aren’t considered funny (thanks a bunch Chris Hitchens) and that there appear to be designated lady-spots on the cast of SNL – the 2009-2010 cast will contain just four inner-gonads havers.
But as I was trying to build up the requisite head of steam to write such a piece, I found I couldn’t, for once, muster the outrage. See, I wish I had something super-intelligent to say about either Watkins or Wilson, but let’s face it: at the best of times, I’m a casual SNL watcher. And just for fun, ask yourself this question: do you know ANYONE who watches Saturday Night Live faithfully anymore? I mean, absent complete boredom of a Saturday evening I can’t imagine forcing myself through an entire live broadcast. Hortense at Jezebel used to have people sit up and join in a thread, but once Tina Fey gave up Sarah Palin’s ghost last fall there was little appeal in it anymore. So I can’t help but feel, somehow, that it’s a compliment that few women are “funny enough” (scare quotes intentional) to be regular SNL cast members these days. It’s sort of like that time in my eight-grade gym class when the girls were made to watch the boys play basketball so that we’d “learn something.” Oh, we did, and that lesson was: bumping the ball with your knees does not count as dribbling.
In Mumbai and Delhi, several fashion designers are making their radical politics known on the runway, and in fashion capital New York City, one Indian woman is drawing attention to the need for quality education for children living in the slums of her homeland with one little black dress.
As a result, I’ve been thinking about women and food in film and have come up with a short list of women preparing and/or enjoying food on screen. Some of these I’ve seen, and some I haven’t, but here’s a delicious sampling to whet your appetites!
"Rave On" is the Page Turner series that asks feminist writers, artists, musicians, activists, leaders, and scholars to talk about a book that completely rocked their world. Today we feature filmmaker Therese Shechter, creator of the documentary I Was a Teenage Feminist, on Woman: An Intimate Geography, by Natalie Angier.
My feminist inspiration came from an unlikely place: the world of science. Natalie Angier’s book Woman: An Intimate Geography is all about women’s bodies—from the smallest component, the single-celled egg, to great big concepts, like female sexual desire.
Angier describes what she does as "liberation biology," mixing hard science, personal stories, and sharp analysis of so-called conventional wisdom in a totally readable style. She wants us to love our bodies—but not in an Oprah way. She wants us to be exhilarated by our XX chromosomes and all that comes with them. Her question is simply, What makes a woman? The answer is a revelation.
I came across the book in an airport bookstore at an especially rough time in my life. I had just left a lucrative job in Chicago journalism to try my luck at being a filmmaker in New York. Approaching 40, single, childless, insecure in a challenging new career, alone in a new city, not exactly looking like a supermodel, I felt totally unmoored. It felt like everything about me was wrong.