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2007 tv pilots May 16, 2007

Posted by sindhub in "the gaze", motherhood, opting out, race, The TV Set, tv, women in television.
2 comments

I was looking at TV pilots for the 2007-2008 television season, and I was struck by how many pilots related to ‘girl power,’ especially the idea of a supermom who balances work and family.  It’ll also be interesting to see how many of them actually get picked up by the networks, and if the number that are picked up is proportional to how many were created.  Here are some examples (there are probably a lot more, but I thought these were particularly relevant):

ABC

  • Mr. and Mrs. Smith: based on the blockbuster movie
  • Cashmere Mafia: “Sex and the City creator Darren Star is back to New York in this new dramedy pilot, about four female executives, friends since college, who support one another through the trials and tribulations of work, family, and everything else life in New York City throws at them.”
  • Women’s Murder Club: “A series of mystery books by James Patterson was the inspiration for this new series, which tells the story of four women who work together to solve some of the most confounding murder cases out there. Their jobs as a homicide detective, a medical examiner, a newspaper reporter, and an assistant district attorney give them a formidable range of skills, and their strong friendship provides basis for the teamwork that’s necessary to crack each case.” (more…)
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7 babies, 13 grammys May 12, 2007

Posted by jenniferlewk in Dixie Chix, motherhood, opting out.
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One of my favorite themes of the Dixie Chick’s Shut up and Sing was how naturally the singers took to handling motherhood and their careers. Although it was obviously not as easy at it appeared on film, I think that it is important to note that the women did think of motherhood as just as fulfilling, if not more, than their careers as country singers. We saw their pregnancies, their husbands, their practicing with babies in hand…and I know that this post sounds very lovey-dovey, but I just really think it is amazing that these women are showing that you can have it all…that you may work yourself to the ground or need a substantial amount of help to have it all, but that in the end, it is possible. Here’s the link an ABC article about the Dixie Chicks and motherhood.

cindy sheehan and the social vs. the political May 10, 2007

Posted by sindhub in 911, bill o'reilly, cindy sheehan, controversy, female politicos, Female Power, G W. Bush, gender, in the news, iraq war, jersey girls, jersey widows, morality, motherhood, nationalism, news stories, politics, Power, rush limbaugh, the state, wartime politics, women and war.
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I wanted to talk a little bit more about something I brought up in class today, about how women’s traditional gender roles in the U.S. involve upholding social and cultural mores, and possibly aiming to ‘better society,’ but never being explicitly political about it.  I realized after class what I meant by ‘explicitly political’: placing the blame on someone.  Politics is very much about finger-wagging, appeasing constituents, and placing the blame for something on somebody or something.  Traditionally, it’s been more socially approved for women to try to ease society’s ills, e.g. the temperance movements of the late nineteenth century.  Although women took on leadership roles in these organizations and argued in favor of women’s right to vote, their main focus was on maintaining the ‘traditional’ family structure (the Women’s Christian Temperance Union is strongly against same-sex marriage), not shaking up society.  However, and I think this has something to do with us living in the post-9/11 era, when a woman blames someone explicitly for breaking up the family (and not just alcohol), there can be a severe backlash.  Even flippantly critical comments like Natalie Maines’ can do that, but I think the best example in the current Bush presidency is Cindy Sheehan.

I’m sure you’ve heard of her; she’s the mother whose son died in the Iraq war, and became an anti-war protester, going so far as to camp outside President Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch for five weeks, insisting on speaking with him personally (which he never agreed to, though he did send top officials).  I remember when this happened in the summer of 2005, and it just being all over the news.  Surely a mother’s grief for her lost son is newsworthy.  But Sheehan’s story only took the vitriolic, polarizing turn that it did, dominating the nightly news for the summer, because she took her traditionally social role as a mother and used it politically.  Antiwar groups rallied against her because she was so beneficial to their cause, and Bush’s supporters criticized her for being ‘treasonous.’  Her critics didn’t question what she was saying–that the Iraq war wouldn’t make us any safer, and that she herself would fight to protect the country–rather, they questioned her. (more…)

man wins presidential election; world is shocked May 10, 2007

Posted by sindhub in 2007 french presidential election, careerwomen, class, female politicos, Female Power, female voters, feminism, france, gender, Girl Power, Hillary Clinton, in the news, International, jacques chirac, motherhood, new york times, news stories, nicolas sarkozy, politics, Power, segolene royal.
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As you may know, France’s presidential election took place recently.  In a runoff between rightist Nicolas Sarkozy and socialist Segolene Royal, Sarkozy was chosen to replace Jacques Chirac, 53 to 47 percent.  What’s relevant to ‘girl power’ is that Royal is a woman.  I found this article, “France’s female voters shun Segolene Royal,” which makes the situation sound pretty bad.  But the female vote for Royal wasn’t much different from the overall vote, with a 52 to 48 margin in favor of Sarkozy.  Although Royal focused part of her campaign on appealing specfically to female voters ‘as a mother’ and promising greater equality (only 12% of French lawmakers are female), apparently female voters thought she focused on it too much.  Some of the women interviewed say that they didn’t vote for Royal just because she’s a woman, because they didn’t think she was going to do anything for them or because she didn’t share the same vision for the country that they did.

There are two conflicting ways to look at the situation.  On one hand, isn’t this what we want, for women to be seen as individuals (as ‘human’) and not just as women?  But, do we really want that when it doesn’t work in their favor?  Especially when it might not be working in their favor because the political system is still biased against them?  And it seems that while Royal was criticized for showing too much identification with one demographic, that being women, she’s also criticized for (more…)

Motherhood, “Aliens,” and Nationalism May 3, 2007

Posted by kelly in Aliens, Courage Under Fire, G.I. Jane, motherhood, nationalism.
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After our discussion in class and re-watching the scene in “Aliens” where Sigourney Weaver’s character rescues Newt I realize just how much that scene enforces the idea that women will choose motherhood over nationalism. (more…)

Teenage Pregnancy April 30, 2007

Posted by Melissa in abortion, controversy, in the news, Keisha Castle-Hughes, motherhood, race, teenage pregnancy, Whale Rider.
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I just saw a story on People Magazine’s website about Keisha Castle-Hughes and the recent birth of her child. The actress just turned 17 in March and has been dating her boyfriend (20 years old) for the past three years. While reading the story, I was shocked to realize that this is the first time I have ever heard of any teenage pregnancy in the celebrity world and more shocked to feel that this is a story the website should not be covering. Teenage pregnancy is a huge “problem” in the United States, and to see the magazine cover the story in such a nonchalant manner really bothers me. People Magazine claims to cover the stories of relevant people, both in Hollywood and Old Town, USA, and while addressing the stories of “people that matter” the magazine does nothing to address relevant social issues. Though the birth of a child is a happy occasion (and big money in the news) I can’t help but feel that it is wrong to celebrate a child bringing another child into the world. I guess what is so bothersome is that when teenage pregnancy is usually addressed its done so in terms of how the “problem” effects Black and Latino communities, and now we see a wealthy actress- who should fall into the same category as the other teenage mothers- being celebrated for having the same “problem.” By publishing the story I feel the magazine is saying its okay if a teenager has children so long as they can pay for them. I’m interested to know how other people feel about the trivialization of such a relevant social issue?

Balanced life?? April 29, 2007

Posted by jenniferlewk in alias, jennifer garner, motherhood.
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Motherhood and the corporate world are two themes that have been discussed recently on the blog…how fitting that we are watching Alias for Tuesday.

There is nothing soft about Jennifer Garner. While the scenes we watched are pre-Afflect and pre-baby Violet, I still could watch the episodes without ever registering that Jennifer Garner is, in fact a mother. I was refreshed by this observation, because usually, a women’s profession and her decision to have a baby are usually at odds. For me (even though I am all for “having it all”) there is always some little part in my mind that reminds me of the actress or actor’s status (no, you can’t have Brad, he’s married. Or wow, Angelina looks disgustingly amazing after her baby was born). After hunting around on the web, I couldn’t find much angst about Gardner’s decision to take time off after having a baby, which surprised me. In Hollywood, it seems as though one is a mother or a high-profile actress, but usually not both. Suddenly, it all made sense. Jennifer Garner took a measly 3 months off after having her baby. No wonder no one got huffy. Although there were some complaints about Gardner’s not performing at 100 % and not being able to do stunts like she used to, the articles were largely complimentary. The other minor complaint was her inability to lose the baby weight fast enough. Like any other Hollywood star, Garner simply got a trainer, cut out the carbs, and got back to normal with seemingly little drama. Beautiful baby, husband, house, and career. It seems as though Garner has it all, or her publicists make it appear as though she has it all.

The scenes we watched, however, (more…)

opting out April 29, 2007

Posted by sindhub in class, college, feminism, in the news, motherhood, new york times, opting out, stay-at-home moms.
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There was yet another op-ed in the NY Times last week about the recent ‘phenomenon’ of college-educated women with bright career prospects who instead choose to ‘opt out’ and become full-time mothers.  What I thought the author was basically saying was that we need to inspect the current socioeconomic system and why it makes it so hard for motherhood to be compatible with many careers as they’re set up now, as well as why women are still expected to be ‘superwomen’ who go above and beyond what their husbands do.

So I was surprised by the Letters to the Editor in response to this article.  All of them came from women, many from women who opted out of the workforce and chose to stay at home with their children.  I thought some of their letters were just positively dripping with hostility… one of them basically accused the author of being a bad mother because she didn’t stay at home with her kids.  I found it really frustrating that none of them questioned why it was them, the wives and mothers, who stayed at home, and not their husbands.  One letter tried to legitimize the right to ‘choose.’  But I think the idea of choice brings us back to one of the central questions of cultural studies (and of feminist debate): Can you really choose when your options are limited (e.g. their husbands most likely wouldn’t have chosen to stay at home, and also the recent news about the pay gap), even if you don’t realize it?

motherhood trumps all? April 25, 2007

Posted by Wasik in bodies, careerwomen, female bounty hunters, Female Power, gender, motherhood, Sri Lanka conflict, the state, The Terrorist, Uncategorized, women and war.
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Both “The Terrorist” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight” raise the question: when a woman’s kickass body is an essential tool in her job (in the former, because she is a suicide bomber, and the latter because she is a counter-assasination agent for the State Dep’t), is it possible for her to also be a mother?
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Malli’s Choice April 18, 2007

Posted by rachaelg in Female Power, motherhood, Power, The Terrorist, women and war.
2 comments

Did anyone else notice how the cause Malli was fighting for was never really explained?  I don’t even think we ever learned the country she was in (though it seemed clear it was India).  The “Leader” remained nameless and so did the “VIP.”  By leaving these kind of details ambiguous, The Terrorist (more…)