• We're heard that women can't be soldiers, scientists, political leaders. Now, some bigwigs in the world of classical music are arguing that women also can't be conductors. You know, those people with the batons on a podium. Come ON, world. [NPR]
• There's no question that feminism has never had the best PR, but this Rebranding Feminism contest, which seeks "creative" geared toward advertising, seems...problematic. Do we want feminism to be a brand? [Vitamin W]
• Dave Eggers' new novel, The Circle, is a fictional account of a young woman working her way up in the seductive, all-consuming headquarters of a prominent social network. It sounds an awful lot like Kate Losse's book, The Boy Kings, a nonfiction account of her five years working at Facebook—only Eggers' is already being heralded as the successor to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.
• The recent stories about Julie Chen's eyelid surgery and Marissa Alexander's arrest and jail term have underscored an infuriating truth: The bodies, faces, and expressions of women of color are "read," and subsequently treated, far more suspiciously than those of their white counterparts. [Salon]
• Just in from the Department of Ideas We Can't Believe Someone Actually Had: A 12-year-old girl was made to play a slave in a historical reenactment that was part of a field trip. Her parents are now complaining, although I would like to believe "complaining" is accompanied by "opening a can of legal whoop-ass." [Colorlines]
• From the Fat Experience Project and Friend of Bitch Stacy Bias comes this illustrated story of one of the many actual humans in the faceless statistics about childhood obesity. It may break your heart a little, but don't let that stop you from sharing it. [Fat Experience Project]
The story of racehorse Secretariat has been told many times, many ways. In 2010 Disney released their own star-studded telling of the horse's rise to glory with the help of his determined owner, Penny Chenery (played by Diane Lane). Everyone knows this film as a story about a horse's Triple Crown win. But really, it's as much a story about Chenery's struggle with challenging gender norms both personally and professionally. The horse Secretariat was her means to achieving success in a sexist industry.
• And speaking of clothes, fashion legend Vivienne Westwood is not feeling Michelle Obama's fashion choices. Bold talk from a woman who made her name with studded dog collars and unwalk-inable platforms. Your move, FLOTUS. [New York Times]
Women's colleges were born out of institutionalized sexism. So, do we still need women's colleges?
In mid-December the Huffington Post published a guest editorial by Elizabeth Pfeiffer titled, "Don't Like the Gender Gap? Women's Colleges Might Just Be the Answer." In her post, Pfeiffer defends the all-female Scripps College. She argues that a school should be defined by "the richness of the community…and the possibilities this kind of environment offers."
I agree: Schools should be defined by the richness of their community. But that goes beyond a gender binary. How about those whose identity does not fit within this heteronormative binary of man or woman?
Pfeiffer asks, "Why is Scripps, or any women's college, still relevant?" Pfeiffer believes one reason is because of the leadership roles she was able to take on, as well as the idea that women's colleges instill a sense of leadership. She cites the fact that women's college graduates make up "more than 20 percent of women in Congress and 30 percent of a Businessweek list of rising women in corporate America."
The same way that evolutionary psychology (or at least, bad reporting on evolutionary research) often conveniently reinforces sexist stereotypes about the role of men and women in the 21st society, genetic explanations for alcoholism tend to reinforce preexisting stereotypes about certain ethnic groups and races
Back in 1994, Sister, Sister captured my only-child heart by portraying one of my deepest wishes: teen girls bump into each other while shopping for clothes, discover they're long-lost twins, and become instant best friends.
Sister, Sister is also still one of very few shows to feature a single father of color. In comparison to today's whitewashed TV landscape, there were a lot more sitcoms with a predominantly black cast in the '90s (A Different World, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Moesha, and the two seasons of The Cosby Show, for starters.) But shows that were family-centric tended to feature traditional, upper middle class families, even Republicans, like Ray (Tim Reid) in Sister, Sister. This may be to counteract erroneous stereotypes as well as to transcend issues that often intersect with race — such as discrimination and poverty — in order to appeal to a wider/whiter audience.