In honor of the Supreme Court ruling today defending the legality and support of same-sex marriage, I thought offering insight into the future of marriage would be a salient point. I’m thrilled that many same-sex couples in states that recognize gay marriage can now enjoy the same state and federal benefits hetero-couples do, and I hope that many of those in states behind the curve can start planning their own legal nuptials soon too. However, while today was a huge milestone there is still lots more to accomplish…for all sexual orientations. Everyone should keep marriage equality as their number one wish on their wedding registry.
In the meantime, I predict more scandalous celebrity marriages and divorces that will push the limits of conventional marriages (I’m looking at you Kardashians). Now with California, I foresee one highly publicized gay celebrity marriage sponsored by US Weekly that will help mitigate the fears of same-sex marriage, but also (unfortunately) perpetuate gay stereotypes. I envision a line of new wedding products designed by those briefly married celebrities. I foreshadow more diversity in the couples TLC wedding shows exploit. Rom-coms will continue to define its female lead’s value by the relationship she gets by the end of the movie. After all of this, I hope Hollywood will be a little more conscientious about how it treats marriage and those within it.
There are more positive things to predict though. I predict, like interracial marriage, gay marriage will be commonplace in the next twenty years and our children (born inside or outside of marriage) will read about this civil rights movement in their history books. In the near future, I anticipate people will come to better understand that mass cultural institutions cannot take precedence over a person’s private rights as protected under the fourteenth amendment. I also hope same-sex marriage naysayers learn that a strict exclusive definition to marriage dilutes its power and meaning, it is stronger when it is all encompassing and embracing. Love does not discriminate and as its formal frame, neither should marriage. I believe gay marriage will help eradicate sexist gender roles in wedding traditions and marriage and we will be better off for it. I predict every person, regardless of their race, age, gender and sexual orientation will eventually access the same rights, the same benefits and the same protection, not because they fell in love with someone, but because we’ve come to respect and love humanity above the private privileges marriage retains for itself. But most of all, I hope the terms same-sex or gay marriage disappear and we can just recognize those forms of marriage as what they truly are, just marriage.
I predict the next big issue when it comes to marriage will be among the permanent, lifestyle singles. With 95% of people trying marriage at least once in a lifetime, the next minority to feel excluded from the special provisions provided by marriage will be singles, and single families. This means that fixing the cracks and dents in our existing family law will be the next reform issue. And it’s a major one. We seldom realize that our existing family law discriminates against almost everyone, regardless of his or her race, sexual orientation, marital status and age. (Sorry, plural marriage participators I just don’t think the US is ready to pull your number for reform next.) I foreshadow that in the effort to eradicate singlism, the next great debate will not be what is marriage, but what constitutes family.
I’m struck by all the happy and celebratory posts on Facebook in light of today’s Supreme Court ruling, particularly by those who do not benefit directly from today’s historic ruling. Their elation shows true altruism. For everyone celebrating though, it proves that marriage is purely enjoyed when everyone can partake in it. And for my final predictions, I foresee a still long walk to the aisle for same-sex couples, but today it got a little shorter; I envision happier and just slightly brighter smiles at weddings, and I expect to get invited to many more weddings now.
Bachelorette (2012): The Hangover and Bridesmaids, this movie, is not (but it tries really hard to be). Despite featuring actresses and actors I really enjoy and my doppleganger, K. Dunst, there’s little brilliance they could bring to this script. To start, this is a good example of how good-hearted humor goes much farther than mean-spirited humor and there was a lot of the later in the movie. From making fun of the bride for being fat, calling strippers skanks, and calling bulimics messed up in the head just to name a few feel-good gems, it got really good with the profuse use of calling just about everyone the C-word. Then there was the scene that pretty much encouraged one groomsmen to take advantage of an inebriated bridesmaid. And he should get over his moral anxiety by taking a Xanax so he can take advantage of the drunk girl who was G.T.G. (good to go). There was one redeeming moment when the bridesmaids start arguing with a strip club doorman about how misogynistic it is for women to need a male escort in order to enter the premises, but that was short-lived. I’m all for raunchy comedy, but the degenerate humor just came off as…degenerate, unlike its predecessor movies that managed to take off-color comedy and make it fun and clever. Director: Leslye Headland
Blurg! Everyone’s favorite fictional feminist got married last night on NBC’s 30 Rock. What kind of wedding does career-oriented Liz Lemon have? Well, it did not involve ham and other delicatessen treats, jorts or sun pee to toast the newlyweds. What it did involve was awesomeness served up with some midnight cheese on top and some sweet Tony Bennett on the side.
The Decoy Bride (2011) – A familiar tale brought to the big screen of a larger-than-life Hollywood star trying to marry outside the prying eye of the paparazzi. Think covert Hollywood wedding meets Knotting Hill minus Julia Roberts, meets the biblical story of Jacob and Raquel hidden behind a veil with a dash of Scottish flair. A local girl is used as a bridal decoy for the Hollywood star and accidentally marries the groom for real (played by Dr. Who, David Tennant). Shenanigans ensue and the unlikely couple run around trying to find the missing starlet and get an annulment only to realize there is a spark between them. While finding and identifying true love is the main focus of the movie, I found the characters and their small island life to be the most enriching aspect of the film. Watch for the completely endearing dance scene between the deaf and elderly husband and wife, it will melt your heart. Director: Sheree Folkson
In the universe of TLC wedding shows, it seems they’ve reached the limit and are scrapping to discover and produce new hit shows. I introduce to you, “Four Weddings,” where four women attend each others weddings and rate them on venue, dress and catering. Unlike other aggressive judgmental shows, the ladies opinions are fairly passive since it seems they don’t want to rain on a bride’s special day – immediately (they wait until they’ve eaten wedding cake and go home with a souvenir). Their ratings post-weddings, however, are so particularly low that they would make any bikini contestant cry and go on another crash diet. Oh right, this is another yet unnecessary TV show were we cast subjective bias and pit otherwise friendly individuals against complete strangers and then we videotape this feedback for posterity. Missing from the cast members are the grooms, making this show another perpetuation of the heterosexual, traditionally feminine wedding chimera that riddles all wedding shows. The show is boring and unoriginal. If TLC wants to stir the pot and highlight the outrageousness of weddings…how about a feminist bride TV show? Something tells me I’d watch that.
A lot of brides like to tell me how unique their wedding will be. I smile and politely shake my head, but I’m secretly thinking that this is what the last bride I spoke to claimed about her own wedding. Call it a coincidence but she too was proposed to on one knee, is wearing a white dress, registered at Bed, Bath and Beyond and will also have a flower bouquet made with seasonal flowers. If you’ve been to enough weddings, it’s hard to experience something completely out of the ordinary. Weddings are sort of like all inventions post-wheel, nothing is truly original.
While the little details might be customized with the newlyweds’ monogram or their personal inside jokes and tastes, a big wedding picture shows that our wedding planning choices are not really all that unique. Like call this crazy, but I predict most weddings at some point will play Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing and/or Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, clink glasses to encourage newlywed PDA, show that one old Aunt and Uncle have some serious awkward, but awesome dance moves, and end with dessert. This homogenity is the nature of partaking in a cultural event. To participate in it means following certain rules and suggested guidelines. And guess what, many others like you are also following them and only changing a little. This means a lot of weddings, no matter how customized the color on the wedding invitations are or how high a cake, someone probably had one just as high as you and they too got their crafty, hipster invitations from Paper Source.
Culture is not the only culprit to cliché wedding practies. Consumerism plays a huge role too. Weddings are commercialized events. Culture tells us what we need to have a proper weddings and then for-profit companies provide those products on a mass-produced scale that are easily affordable and accessible. That crappy plastic tiara you got for your bachelorette party that made you Queen for a night (because that’s what you are, clearly) is the same one the bride-to-be last weekend wore to hers. Aren’t princesses supposed to be rare?
The electric slide and the funky chicken were fun wedding dances until they became overused. Now they are extinct rituals because people find them tacky and cliché. The cutting and the feeding of the wedding cake, the garter and bouquet toss are now facing extinction as well. Does a ritual have to be bad to be considered cliché? Maybe clichés are subjective or a taste of our time, because people still propose at sunset, on the beach, in air balloons or hide rings in dessert. It seems contradictory for people to want to participate in shared culture but then go to lengths to make it unique.
When it comes to planning, I get the sense that fiancés like to think that personalized means unique, personalization makes a wedding unique, and a unique wedding is considered more emotionally memorable. Unless you’re breaking from the macro traditions and rituals, little customized details does not make a distinct wedding. At some point we all get ideas from the same sources: friends, family, other weddings, media, TheKnot, magazines and other how-to’s. Our riffing on these handed-down ideas might provide some ownership to, say, your centerpieces, but I’m worried we’re confusing personal meaningfulness with a one-of-a-kind wedding celebration. If wedding rituals and customs are really nothing more than one big cliché and our specializing of the event not as pungent in setting itself apart from other weddings, can we still get meaning from participating in a cliché?
Click here to check out cliché wedding photography. (BTW, I love number three. The guy seems more like a photo-bomber than groom.)
The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank: As an outdoorsy gal, I picked this book up because of its awesome title, only to be mildly disappointed that hunting and fishing only referred to men and dating. Readers follow the life of Jane Rosenthal who is pessimistically and somewhat passionately needy when it comes to her own self esteem, and not surprisingly with men and relationships. Her love life involves a series of unhealthy relationships that she seems to understand are a function of her own personal issues but does little to make a clean break before any damage is done. At a breaking point on her own self worth, she turns to a self help book in order to find love. The book’s most redeeming moment is when Jane finally realizes that the book’s advice to act like a hard-to-get, traditionally feminine, demure damsel is probably the worst advice. The book seems to be hailed as an accurate depiction of women’s dating troubles, but I would have found the book more salient had it focused on problem solving stories and less on the problems. (Subject: Fiction, Love, Boyfriends, Relationships, Self Esteem)
Muriel’s Wedding (1994): Yet another movie that revolves around Abba (someone please explain the Abba/Wedding phenomenon) but set in Australia. This movie is what one would expect the adult follow up to Welcome to the Dollhouse would be like. Muriel is awkward, talentless, painfully unfashionable and dateless. As the movie unfolds it becomes apparent that Muriel’s obsession with weddings and marriage stems from being surrounded by an unsupportive network of friends and family. Until she breaks away from her hometown via theft, does her life begin to change for the better when she meets Rhonda Epinstock. As Muriel pulls her life together she begins to relinquish her attachment to Abba and weddings, though when things sour it all goes terribly wrong. In the end she learns that marriage and a wedding is not the solution to her problems nor will give her value. Despite the painfulness and awkwardness of its characters and storyline, there are some really good lessons about our obsession with weddings and marriage worth paying attention to. Subject: Wedding, Marriage, Abba. Director P.J. Hogan.
Love and Mary (2007) – Mary, a bakery entrepreneur, is faced with the eviction of her business. She decides to fly home with her fiance to collect engagement party money in order to save her business. Her fiance bails at the last minute and she brings his brother as a fake replacement. Without giving away the movie, what struck me the most is that Mary, assertive enough to save her business, seems to be a bit passive in her own feelings. She’ll put decorum and promise over her feelings. Overall, it’s an enjoyable movie with a quirky cast of characters. Director: Elizabeth Harrison (Subject: Money, Love, Weddings)
The New Yorker’s June 25th cover features two “June Brides,” by the artist Gayle Kabaker’s. The magazine’s art editor, Françoise Mouly, found the image through her Blown Covers blog. (Click here if you’d like to see the runners up to the Blown Covers wedding contest and click here if you’d like to see my own feminist bride art (no harm in a little self promotion!) It’s unclear if there are any related stories in this week’s magazine, but the fact that that subjects are featured sweetly and beautifully over being portrayed as overtly political is a nice change of pace. When images like that happen it becomes more about capturing life than directly commenting on it (though acceptance of gay marriage is legally lagging any representation is important).
The Kabaker also had some nice points to make about her career and approaching the subject to kids and adults, “I live in the Berkshires, so I do almost all of my work online,” Kabaker said. “It’s a big deal, getting on the cover. We’ve been getting the magazine forever—it comes in and goes straight on the kitchen table. We talk about the cover with my son, who’s seventeen, and my daughter, who’s twenty-three. ‘What do you think it means?’ It’s a conversation. And we all read it, dog-ear it, and leave it on the table for the next person to pick up.”
Introducing The Feminist Bride merchandise! Know a bride that wants to celebrate her upcoming nuptials but wants to make a statement that she’s a lady that stands strong and proud? I hand-printed these 100% cotton t-shirts with that type of bride in mind (not to mention support website costs and maybe some wine therapy…)
Sales go through Etsy, so click on this link to get a t-shirt that shows your strength as a woman and a bride!
Size: Small Petite & Large Available (other sizes and colors are available. Please email shop owner for personalized request!)
Color: Black with White Lettering
Washing Machine Safe
Mystic Pizza (1988) – Julia Roberts first break out role (no, Pretty Women was not the first) in what would be a long career of romantic films. Set in Mystic, CT three strong, local girls struggle with finding love, navigating the bedroom, their future and breaking from their provincial townie existence. Despite class struggles, forbidden affairs and feeling trapped, the girls at the end of the day find solace and comfort in each other and pizza. The break out feminist moment comes in the end, when one girl finally commits to marrying the love of her life but only on the condition that she keep her name. (Subject: Relationships, Sex, Identity, Friendship)
A few years ago, a friend of mine kindly congratulated another friend’s parents on their sons engagement, except the parents responded with, “wait, what engagement?” Seems Junior told the Internet world on Facebook about this big life event, but forgot to tell his own parents. Drama ensued and my friend felt terrible even though she didn’t do anything wrong.
Seems Mark Zuckerberg pulled a similar stunt in a triple crown move: at his own wedding, on Facebook and to the world.
Zuckerberg married longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan in their backyard in Palo Alto, California last Saturday (May 19, 2012). According to news reports friends and family were arriving for a regular party when the couple said, “Surprise, this is actually our wedding!” (If you want a similar surprise wedding, I highly recommend Parks and Recreation’s Andy and April’s wedding.)
Guests were extremely surprised and so was the world who found out through Zuckerberg’s own relationship status update to “Married.” It seems in terms of wealth and celebrity, this is one of the most successfully kept wedding secrets in pop culture history. The paparazzi are probably pissed.
But there’s more to celebrate than just saying, ‘I do.’ Chan just graduated from medical school at the University of California at San Francisco earlier in the week. And Zuckerberg’s company IPO-ed the day before his wedding. If he was grossly rich before he is now stupid rich.
And this is where news outlets are raising their eyebrows about Zuckerberg’s recent influx of money and the timing of his nuptials. Some are calling it fishy. Personally, I’m not surprised by the grouping of such big events for the happy couple. The IPO and Chan’s graduation date would be a good smokescreen for wedding planning. It’s not like they needed to set up a registry and go that traditional route, instead they surprised friends with a good ole’ fashion backyard wedding that’s totally inline with the couples low-profile lifestyle and Zuckerberg’s casual closet (he did abandon his usual hoodie for a suit). And the plan worked, the cakes on our face for not figuring out his scheme.
But the fishy part comes, not from their reception food, but the fact that Zuckerberg’s IPO cash is protected under California’s communal property law. Technically speaking, Chan has no legal right to his fortune’s since the IPO occurred before their nuptials. Should they ever get divorce, there is a good chance she could fight and win more money beyond what Zuckerberg earns post-nuptials because of her support and influence on Zuckerberg and Facebook. She has inspired Facebook’s Organ Donor campaign and she’s been dating him for nine years, since their sophomore year in college and Facebook’s inception. Was this chain of events on purpose? Probably, but Chan should never suffer a financial drought. Between her own career and Zuckerberg’s earning potential, the couple in or outside of marriage will want for nothing.
Prenups are meant to protect the assets each individual couple brings into the marriage, it should not be interpreted as an ominous sign for the future. Actually, both are highly educated (Okay, Zuckerberg is a drop out, but it was Harvard) (Chan also graduated from Harvard in 2007 and now has a Masters), both are financially secure, dated a long time and are on the end of their 20′s (he’s 28, she’s 27, the average marrying age per sex). If a marriage is to last, these are the best facts you can have in your corner. Even living together before marriage is no indication of success. They stay out of the spotlight and live a moderate lifestyle.
Unfortunately, Facebook followers of Zuckerberg did not share the couples happy sentiment. Many responded with racial slurs saying that Zuckerberg has an Asian Fetish or that Chan is a golddigger and that this is probably nothing more than a green card marriage. No word on whether he’s ‘unfriended’ any of these people amongst his 14m plus subscribers.
This raises another big issue – Facebook etiquette. Facebook scrubs for pornography, harassing photos, etc. but what about the general lack of kindness in others? Did the founder himself have it coming for Facebook’s continuing privacy issues? Or is this a huge reminder that nothing we share on the Internet even amongst our community of friends and family is really private and safe?
Back in the day, engagement and wedding announcements were down via snail mail and a phone call. Nowadays our milestone communication is much more informal – we share our big news on Facebook. There’s now a growing culture to take photos of one’s engagement ring or proposal and share it with the world. Some interpret is as a positive, sharing experience, but in no other instance do we condone showcasing a luxury good around (didn’t your mom teach you bragging was bad manners?). Some though, not wanting to rain on others parade, remain silently unappreciative of the non-stop relationship status updates, the staged wedding photography, the emotional rants of those in love. I suppose at the end of the day it’s our choice as to who we follow, read and what we share. Zuckerberg’s wedding announcement is a good reminder of how our precious moments intersect, coincide and sometimes conflict with technology. Even the founder, himself, thought it better in the long run to keep the majority of his relationship and life events analog.
The War Bride(2001) – Set during World War II, Lily marries a Canadian soldier. She quickly becomes pregnant and moves to Canada to live with her in-laws as part of a save the war-brides campaign. A sassy, fashionable city-Londoner, she finds herself in the plains of central Canada on a farm, severely out of her element and amongst hostile in-laws who find her UK style foreign, too sexual and think her marriage was a ploy to get her out of war-torn Europe. Not knowing whether her spouse is alive, she struggles with being a wife and a mother in a foreign land. (Subject: Marriage, War, Women) Director: Lyndon Chubbuck
Ready or Not (2009) – With the Hangover coming out in the same year, its hard to say which movie came first but they are exactly the same except this one is less humorous. The groomsmen use an over-the-top bachelor party to kidnap the groom to Mexico a week before his wedding. Everything starts going terribly awry from jumping out of a crashing plane to angering a mobster, from getting put in jail to being put in front of an execution squad. The question of the movie is is the groom ready to leave his bros behind for marriage? (Subject: Groomsmen, Groom, Bachelor Party, Comedy) Director: Sean Doyle
The Affair of the Necklace (2001) (R) – While this may not be a movie about marriage or weddings, it is a unique movie in that it is about the true story of a woman who step outside her societal boundaries and dared to change the fate of her life, as a result she helped to bring down the rule of an abusive monarchy. Jeanne de la Motte Valois, a strong-minded Contessa (played by femme-fort Hilary Swank), loses her station, family and homestead because her father was considered to liberal and anti-monarchy. She aims to reclaim her family home through a scam surrounding an extremely expensive diamond necklace. I give the movie high marks not only for its excellent story telling, but because not enough true stories are told about women who try to fight the ruling system. (Subject: Women, Heroine, History, France) Director: Charles Shyer
Mary Poppin’s “Give Women the Vote” song just joined the 21st century through a rendition of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. I’m thrilled that there are slowly more and more independent short films focusing on women’s issues and done in a funny way. It’s marvelous that producers, writers and directors can take a serious topic and approach it with fun and humor. I believe those tactics alone represent a new age of feminism (ahem, fourth wave feminism) that no longer isolates the objectors and objected but critically addresses a topic with less aggression so the message can be easily, effectively and enjoyably understood by all. Brava. I particularly cracked up at the line, “We just want to wear pants.” Women may have gotten the vote in 1920 but contemporary reinterpretations reminds us modern gals that there is a lot to be thankful for. If you’re into 4th Wave feminist media, check out this classic: Jane Austen’s Fight Club.
“Acknowledging you’re a feminist is an act of gratitude for the people who went before and fought for the rights you are now enjoying.”
Funny videos of the birth control Congressional hearing debacle. Thought it would be worth a share, a chuckle and a tisk-tisk over the whole birth control debate issue.
SNL’s Amy Pohler and Seth Meyer in “REALLY?!”
Stephen Colbert’s Catholics and Birth Control
Between Republican Presidential Candidate’s Newt Gingrich’s delightful views and treatment of women, people attacking Obama on his legislation protecting women’s reproductive rights, the Susan G Komen vs. Planned Parenthood debacle, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and now the blatant exclusive male debate over women’s birth control, I get a really warm, fuzzy and inviting feeling when it comes to women’s place in politics.
So when I see the countless people celebrating this President’s Day weekend, I’m only compelled to celebrate the Monday I’ve been given off. There’s little cause for me to celebrate. Out of 44 presidents (and 55 available terms), not one has been a woman. A few have come (sorta) close though. In 1872, Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president. Back then women did not even have the right to vote in federal elections yet and wouldn’t until 1920 – 52 years later. The female candidates between now and then have been few and far in between with no successful ones. A 2009 poll revealed only 55 percent think America is now ready for a woman president. Despite Americans seeing themselves as a world leader, we actually rank 90th in the number of women in our national legislature. And given the US’s history of world politics we’d be embarrassed to realize what other countries are ahead of us such as Cuba (ranked 6th) and Afghanistan (30th). The figures are no more encouraging for other political positions. Overall, for dominating 51% of the total US population, women only account for 17% of the seats in Congress. And our numbers are declining. At this rate women will not reach parity for 500 years!
I’m happy to think that a lot of this birth control debate and the blatant misogyny we see occurring in our reproductive fate is encouraging women to speak up after too much silence. I haven’t seen such overwhelming support for women since the 1990s. The personal may be political, but in the public realm most of us have been keeping the personal private and that is clearly dangerous. We’ve naively assumed that the personal will be protected. Without our direct involvement in our own fate we can’t assume the progress of women will continue. Below is a list of where women in positions of political leadership currently stand. The statistics are scary.
On this President’s weekend, I encourage women to think about their own involvement in the political process. Are you voting for candidates that believe in women, that will fight for ALL women and include women on their own offices? What is your own involvement in politics – instead of being disgruntled at the our current state of affairs, why aren’t you throwing your hat into the ring? Many of us grew up in a generation that taught women can be anything they put their minds too, yet few of us have followed up on that idea. We should recognize we hold all the same skill sets, will and strength to run and hold positions of leadership as any other candidate. Why aren’t we more involved then?
Sorry to copy straight from the pages of the WCF Foundation, but I found the statistics so compelling, eye opening and straight forward that it just seemed better to give them a tip of the hat on their work and a little plug for their non-profit (Click here to donate to their “She Should Run” Campaign). Here is their mission statement: “WCF is dedicated to helping women build the skills and infrastructure they need to become more effective leaders in public life. WCF Foundation conducts action-oriented research and pilots targeted programs that prepare women to become more politically active, increase their engagement in key democratic processes, and ready them for public leadership roles. At WCF Foundation, we not only identify barriers to women’s political equality – we find solutions.” I would also like to point out The White House Project that encourages women’s leadership in all sectors. Their mantra of “Add Women, Change Everything,” speaks exactly to the power of including women.
Where We Are: 2010 Election Update
For the first time since 1987, the United States made no progress in electing more women to Congress.
A few pieces of good news in an otherwise dreary election cycle for women:
Women are still under-represented at all levels of government.
Facts on women of color in elective office
Why We’re Here
Parties can make or break a woman candidate:
Gender Stereotypes still play a role:
I was looking at all the “What People Think I Do/What I Really Do” memes and I thought “WTF!?” Where’s the one on feminists? I got to about page 10 and couldn’t find one, so I decided to take matters in my own Internet hands and contribute to the mass, pop culture phenomenon that we know as memes. Given that we have our fair share of unfair stereotypes is seemed like a perfect fit to create one and set the record straight on who we feminists really are. Enjoy, lol.
30 Rock’s lovably quirky Liz Lemon introduced us to Anna Howard Shaw Day. Despite the obtuse and ridiculous plots brought to us by the hijinks of Tracy Jordan, the grifts of Jenna Maroney, and the power-clashing of Jack Donaughy, Liz Lemon’s seemingly invented day to avoid Valentine’s Day, Anna Howard Shaw Day is in fact a real day. With Tina Fey as a confessed feminist, it’s no surprise this reference made it into her highly acclaimed TV show. Here is a day we can celebrate alongside our snarfing and night cheese binges with pride and in public.
Anna Howard Shaw (February 14, 1847 – July 2, 1919) was born in England and came to Lawrence, Massachusetts at the age of 2. Her father sent her mother and five siblings away to fend for themselves on a desolate farm in remote northern Michigan. Her childhood sounds very similar to the story in Agnes Smedley ‘s Daughter of Earth. Shaw’s mother also suffered considerably from her inability to support a family. Shaw tried to fill the shoes a son would by doing much of the labor work around the farm. Eventually, she became a teacher to help support the family. When the opportunity to become the first ordained female Methodist minister arose, she took advantage of it even when her friends and family offered to pay for her college education if she stopped preaching.
After graduating from Albion College (where she had to support herself because she kept preaching), she went onto Boston University’s School of Theology in 1876 where she had the sinking feeling of, “the abysmal conviction that [she] was not really wanted there.” She was the only female amongst 42 men. There is now a Anna Howard Shaw Center at Boston University School of Theology that promotes structures and practices that empower women and honor diversity.
A strong support of female suffragism, Shaw met Susan B. Anthony in 1888. She convinced Anthony to unite two women’s groups to form the National Woman Suffrage Association, of which she became president from 1904 to 1915. Eventually the group became more militant in its protest. Shaw opposed to such tactics eventually resigned from her post. Her dedication to women’s suffrage never abated though. During World War I, Shaw was head of the Women’s Committee of the United States Council of National Defense, for which she became the first woman to earn the Distinguished Service Medal. Shaw died a few months before the ratification 19th amendment due to pneumonia.
A woman of many firsts in the United States, she was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in 2000. Her birthday on February 14th stands as an alternative to Valentine’s Day to celebrate the power and independence of women. In addition to celebrating Anna Howard Shaw Day, here is another Valentine’s Day alternative.
On February 13th, what will you be doing to treat your favorite gals on Galentine’s Day?
When it comes to celebrating Valentine’s Day, we seek to spend it with those we love and shower them with all the accoutrements a Hallmark Valentine’s can bestow. What about spending Valentine’s Day in a non-commercial way? What if you could honor the women in your life by participating in something that seeks to support and empower them? What if you spent this Valentine’s Day learning how to appreciate yourself?
As an artist, I’m usually caught in a conversation with patrons over the stories related to specific pieces of work. A few years ago, I found myself talking to a 50 or so year-old woman about my photo of Havana, Cuba. Both having traveled there we positively swapped stories of the people, the climate and the culture. Any American in Havana is rare these days, I was lucky enough to travel down there legally in 2002 on an academic visa while studying abroad (Fidel even spoke to us at an assembly and then he threw a party for us at a compound). So I was curious why this other American was there.
“Oh,” she nonchalantly replied, “I was there in the 60s to get an abortion.”
Having spent all but five minutes with this woman, I was taken aback by her candidness. I didn’t press the story much further, but it told me 1. at the time abortion was illegal in the US and 2. her presence in Cuba was probably even more illegal. So dire her need for an abortion, she sought the help from one of our countries most notorious enemies because the service was legal there and because it would be performed safely by a surgeon (they do have excellent healthcare there). Making abortion illegal creates a lot of unsafe procedures that put women’s lives at risk. And I have to admit I had no clue about home-abortion kits until I watched Revolutionary Road with Kate Winslet. Hollywood drama aside, no health class or any other source had bothered to inform me as to what life was like before Roe vs. Wade. (Read Mother Jones 2004 “The Way It Was” by Eleanor Cooney for a really good account of pre-Roe).To get an idea on current global statistics when abortions are illegal, “Nearly half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, and nearly all unsafe abortions occur in developing countries. In the developing world, 56% of all abortions are unsafe, compared with 6% in the developed world,” [Guttmacher Institure].
Roe vs. Wade just celebrated its 39th birthday but it’s still under contention. As the 2012 presidential elections come closer, the politicians’ stances on topics such as abortion come into the spotlight. GOP candidate Rick Santorum opposes abortion in the strictest sense, even in cases of rape and incest. He claims his stance is not religious based, but in a recent interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan he eventually mentioned the big “G.” He argued a woman should, ” ‘accept this horribly created’ baby, because it was still a gift from God, even if given in a “broken” way.” Santorum was also part of the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban bill” passed by Bush #2 in 2003. Characterized as almost zealous in his anti-abortion lobbying and protection of human life, he somehow finds it reasonable to support the death penalty in absolute cases of guilt. Seems his belief in the value of life is conditional. He is just one of the hour GOP candidates that believe Roe vs. Wade should be reversed. Even Michelle Bachmann is claiming that abortion will be made illegal after the 2012 elections.
While it is not hard to understand how religion has influenced these politicians’ abortion views, the Guttmacher Institute release worldwide abortion statistics that suggests that making abortion illegal actually increases the rate of abortions. If the GOP candidates using reasonable deduction skills, fulfilling their goal of making abortion illegal would not solve their problem at all. In fact, between 1995 and 2008 abortion rates have lowered in developed nations, which can be explained by better access to sex education, general education and access to healthcare. And countries with more liberal laws on abortion actually have lower abortion rates.
Obama had this to opposing view to share, “As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right.” Santorum accused Obama of being “radical and extreme” when it came to women’s reproductive births.
I remember an interview with Sarah Palin around the 2008 elections talking about how she was so happy that Bristol chose to keep her baby and made the right decision in her book. The reporter nailed Ms. Palin, anti-abortion supporter, on her choice of words, i.e. “chose.” The irony of the comment was not surprisingly lost on Palin, which goes to show that no matter what your view is, it’s the right to choose that makes a difference. It’s not a really happy birthday for Roe vs. Wade if people are at great odds almost 40 years later on the morality of the issue. We have yet to understand that personal beliefs should not dictate public direction. My personal choice when it comes to my body is my own, but I should have the right to have access to any possible options and not have someone predetermine what they think is the right course for me. Only I can decide that.
Love, Wedding, Marriage (2011) – Mandy Moore plays a marriage therapist whose whole belief in marriage is based on her parent’s relationship. When it falters she panics and spirals into mishap as she tries to repair it; only she begins to neglect and abuse her own new marriage. The movie is an interesting look at how our love of the marriage sometimes blinds us from understanding we need to actually work on it. (Subject: Marriage, Love, Relationships, Health) Director: Dermot Mulroney
The Buccaneers (TV mini-series 1995) – If you like romantic period pieces this series is for you. The Buccaneers is the last novel written by Edith Wharton of four young American girls with “new” money that spend a season in England in the hopes of finding rich, aristocratic husbands. The girls are successful but their stories unravel as being married and someone’s wife reveals a much more sordid and unsatisfying life than they had been lead to believe. How the girls cope with obligation, expectations of their sex and class and love is worth a watch. (Subject: Marriage, Etiquette, Love) Director: Philip Saville
The People I’ve Slept With (2009) – We’ve seen many a male character own the spoils of an active sex life, and when the main character Juliet pulls a Samantha Jones it’s exciting to see a female character finally own her sexuality on par with a man and without social ramifications. Except then she gets pregnant and has no clue who the baby-daddy is. Suddenly, Juliet tailspins into an emotionally abusive, self-reflective state of how could she have been so slutty and irresponsible? Not once does the movie turn the table onto the men who are equally responsible for the embryo and it reverts to a pro-life stance and the age mindset that a woman can’t be sexually free without being promiscuous and irresponsible. BS. (Subject: Sex, Pregnancy, Double Standards, Relationships) Director: Quentin Lee
The ritual is a Freudian performance both caring and nurturing but sexual and intimate. What happens when you take the ritual out of context, put it in an informal settings and practice it with strangers? To better understand the art performance, watch Part 4: The Cutting of the Cake from the lecture.
An art performance of the ‘cutting of the cake’ wedding ritual following the Tufts University Women’s Center 2011 Symposium lecture, “The Sexy and Sexist Layers of the Wedding Cake,” by Katrina Majkut founder of TheFeministBride.com.
The Romantics (2010) – Seven friends gather over the weekend for the wedding of two of their friends, except the Maid of Honor is still in love and sleeping with the groom (Josh Duhamel). The dysfunction of the friends unfolds during the course of the night revealing that everyone is everybody’s muse in body, mind and soul, thus complicating the existing relationships. The poignant moment is in the end when the Maid of Honor (Katie Holmes) confronts the bride (Anna Paquin) moments before she’s to walk down the aisle. Begging the question would you have the guts to tell someone the truth before they made a mistake? What would you do if you were the bride? Director: Galt Niederhoffer (Subject: Wedding, Friends, Affairs)
For more Feminist Bride Movie Reviews click here.
Well, I’m speechless; not because TLC has managed to produce another wedding show that exploits extreme lifestyles and not because finding an unmarried virgin is like discovering the mythical unicorn. I am speechless at the sheer awkwardness of what they’ve captured for their premiere episode set to air this Sunday. Watch the below to know what I’m talking about:
Now that we’ve all been reminded of our first kiss, here comes our paranoia creeping in – did we look like that during our first kiss? And the awkwardness gets worse when they start to describe how it will all go down on the wedding night – starting with separate showers.
It’s not that the sexual choice of staying a virgin is wrong by any means, it’s that we just love a good kissing/sex virgin story. Remember 1999′s Never Been Kissed, which was also an episode on Glee. And if you really know your pop culture, there’s even a similar episode in Saved By The Bell. There’s the 40 Year Old Virgin and most recently the Mormon story about a virgin human marrying a 110-year old virgin vampire with a steamy, bedpost-crushing wedding night virgin scene that has all the ‘tweens screaming. There are plenty more movies that you can read about here. Despite most of us being sexually experienced on our wedding night (95%), we still want to make a HUGE deal about virginity. We treat it as something really serious ‘to lose your v-card or not to lose your v-card’ but we also treat it with a severe amount of spectacle. How can you defend something as meaningful, but then splay it out for cheap laughs and entertaining awkward moments?
It’s important to think about how women in relationships and in marriage are portrayed too! Wives are often pitched as nags and ragged or sexy trophies. Brides are crazy, weight obsessed, vain control freaks. Miss Representation – OFFICIAL MOVIE TRAILER – Sundance Film Festival 2011 – YouTube.
Daughter of Earth by Agnes Smedley. An under-appreciated feminist novel, Agnes’s fictionalized personal memoir traverses her impoverished and brutal childhood to her equally straining, political adulthood. Daughter of Earth gives amazing insight into the issues of the working class proletariat during the Depression era. Smedley brings us an eye-opening account of how starvation, extreme poverty, brutal working conditions and a lack of education can shape the emotional and physical experience of an individual. The book also focuses heavily on the social conditions imposed on women from the limitations caused by marriage to a lack of birth control and over populated families, from domestic abuse to sexual freedoms. Aside from the book’s political nature and historical insight, it is a smooth read and a pleasure to read. Smedley should be remembered (and read) just as much as her feminist sisters!
Made in Dagenham is a British docudrama by Director Nigel Cole and is based on the true story of 187 female Ford Motor machinists in Dagenham, England, 1968. The female workers, led by Rita O’Grady (Sally Hawkins), unite in a strike after management reclassifies them as “unskilled workers” to justify a lower pay rate. The women take their demand for equal pay all the way to parliament. The movie’s message on women’s ability to overcome a culture that promotes sex discrimination is still as relevant today as it was then. But the movie’s comedic, cutesy tone glossed over the severity of the cause, which brings to light larger issues in non-fiction women’s films.
Ah, I can’t wait to see this! And I can’t wait to write all about it, stay tuned.
Bridalplasty (TV Series 2010) – I’m a little behind my wedding TV, but I don’t think I’m missing out on too much with E!’s 2010 show, Bridalplasty. In this reality show competition, brides create a “wish list” of physical things they dislike about themselves and want to change. They then compete in order to win that plastic surgery. The last bridalplasty contestant standing wins their dream wedding and a whole new look.
27 Dresses (2008) – A young women (played by Kathering Heigl) has always been a bridesmaid and never a bride, but the lucky owner of 27 hideous bridesmaid dresses. While the movie is a classic, predictable rom-com and Heigl’s character tends to be a pushover when it comes to the wishes of needy brides, she never manages to attend to her needs (and love life). The movie is a good look at the obscene financial commitment and dedication bridesmaid devote to their engaged friends, but also how totally vain and based in consumerism it can be as well. Director: Anne Fletcher (Subject: Bridesmaid, Consumerism, Love, Money, Vanity, Clothes)
Dangerous Beauty (1998) – Based on the 16th century true story of Veronica Franco who falls in love but can’t marry the object of her affections due to a lack of a dowry. With no marriage prospects, she’s faced with the decision to either enter the convent or become a courtesan. She chooses the life that provides her access to education, independence and the power of expression and articulation, as opposed to the cloister or wifehood which forbids women an education, basic intellectual rights and keeps them as subordinate creatures. Her beauty and smarts win over the hearts (and beds) of most of Venice’s aristocrats, but after Venice faces war and then the plague she is accused of witchery and causing the downfall of Venice.
Disney’s princess plots are more predictable than a woman’s period. Girl is oppressed (by magic, evil villain, or station in life), girl decides to challenge adversity, girl meets vagabond boy en route, cue adorable magical or animal sidekick, boy and girl conquer evil villain, boy and girl marry and the live happily ever after. The End. Right?
Whether or not you’re a feminist, you should know the name “Gloria Steinem.” Even if you are a woman and think you don’t agree with feminist politics, your respect is still needed. Feminists, like Steinem, fought for the rights for you have to disagree with them. That thanks, however, is often never said.
HBO is airing a documentary on the Ms. magazine founder, Gloria Steinem: In Her Own Words, that explores her early years to her ones as the face of feminism. It airs August 15th.
It seems Facebook is causing a stir amongst Indonesia’s youth
, by facilitating liasons between very young users, which result in unplanned pregnancies and therefore marriages. Officials from the Gunung Kidul region are claiming the increase in teenage pregnancies align with Facebook’s inception in the country. Interestingly, 66% of divorces caused by social networking, specifically blame Facebook too.
“Facebook is easy access, even in rural areas, and leads to teenage girls getting pregnant outside of marriage,” Gunung Kidul Religious Court junior legal secretary Siti Haryanti told The Jakarta Post.
The Graduate (1967) – “Mrs. Robinson are you
trying to seduce me?” Dustin Hoffman plays a recent college graduate suffering from summer listlessness and ambivalence to what is expected next of him in life. This enables his middle-aged neighbor, Mrs. Robinson, to ensnare him in a emotionless affair. Hoffman finally awakens to realize that he wants more out of life and love after meeting Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Penny. Mrs. Robinson becomes jealous of her daughters youth and Hoffman’s change in affections, sending her daughter into the same lifeless marriage she has been forced to suffer. Hoffman rescues Penny from her nuptials in a not so subtle attempt to save them both from the life of their parents.
I Do & I Don’t (2007) – A couple undergoes marriage counseling from a dysfunctional married couple. The ‘never have I ever’ games played within the sessions sends the young couple into spiraling doubt as to whether or not they get married. Ultimately, despite multiple uncomfortable nude scenes, overbearing parents, infidelity and sexual harassment by the counselors, the young couple realize that marriage and love is about embracing the perfection and imperfection in our relationships and partners. Director Steve Blair. (Subject: Marriage, Relationships, Comedy)
An Affair to Remember (1957) – I had only heard of the movie, An Affair to Remember, through the quintessential romance movie of the 90’s, Sleepless in Seattle. Rosie O’Donnell and Meg Ryan cry over the sentimental romance – how love can suddenly find you, change your life and just as quickly disappear under unfortunate circumstances. And I will admit, I didn’t understand (like the guys in that film) what the big deal was…until now.
Wedding Weekend (2006) – A seven-man college a cappella group is brought back together, fifteen years later, to sing at the wedding of one of their friends. While practicing for their big performance, the guys realize that they each lack harmonywith themselves, as friends and with their spouses. Things crescendo as hijinks ensue, ultimately resulting in a rock bottom note. The singers finally realize that life, relationships and marriage can’t be worked out if you’re sitting in the audience. To harmonize, you have to join in and sing the right notes. (Subjects: Men, Marriage, Relationships)
The Groomsmen (2006) – A wedding movie about the emotional roller coasters caused by the life changes a wedding can bring. What makes this movie interesting is that the stereotypical drama doesn’t come from an anxious bride or crazy bridesmaids, but from the groom and his groomsmen. Each guy deals individually with the change a wedding and marriage can cause – from more responsibility, from children to infertility issues, to accepting ones sexuality and to letting go of one’s glory days. Director Edward Burns does a good job of giving gravitas to each issue. I only wish when it came to similar women’s film, they were given the same luxury instead of being frequently portrayed as irrational drama queens. (Subjects: Grooms, Wedding, Life)
Having turned 18 at the birth of the Sex and the City era, college and adulthood came at a time when sexual expression and alcohol could be worn like Girl Scout badges, proudly and with accomplishment. It was the best of times (that I could remember) and the worst of times (that were gladly hazy). The graduates of the millennium celebrated leaving the sophomoric comedy of American Pie and blissfully embraced the gratuitous ass shots of Will Ferrell. And just as quickly as we got on “double-secret-probation” in college,” we just as quickly matriculated from it. Now working stiffs and pissed off about having $160,000 in college debt, Judd Apatow appeared to ease our pain with raunchy and outrageous humor.