Call your girlfriends

I’m back in DC, making even more of my visit this time by coming a few days before my meeting so I can hang out with some Mount Holyoke girlfriends and see the city a bit amid work. 

  
It all started in Alexandria, where former crewton Abby and I went to lunch. Buckwheat crepes + feminist dating updates = best Saturday. Then onward to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, where we saw an awesome exhibit about women in the Arabic world – “She who tells a story”. Highly recommend if you’re in the area – it’s $10 but they let us in free because they were setting up for a wedding and had to let in all the staff anyway!

Then Becca, my crew big sister, and I met up for the first time in five years at Rice for Thai food. So perfect! …Except somehow in the last 24 hours leading up to this moment, I completely lost my voice. Our reunion dinner together basically consisted of charades from my side of the table and laughter from hers. That’s how you know who your true friends are – they’re willing to talk even if you can only answer yes / no questions. 

  
Today, ’08 politico Mica and I went to the National Portrait Gallery, where we saw cool exhibits about celebrities and this gem from a future I don’t want to live in.

  
(Yes, that’s Frank Underwood from House of Cards.)

Then we had delicious Mexican brunch at Mission surrounded by people who had been drinking bottomless mimosas and margaritas for 2+ hours already. Oof! Having almost no voice has made me hyper aware of how incredibly loud some restaurants are. I never noticed how bad it was before!

And then, the girl-power jewel on the cake*, heading out to Sixth and I with Meg to see a live taping of Call your girlfriend – “a podcast for long distance besties” hosted by Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow and produced by Gina Delvac. Meg got us tickets weeks ago and I’ve been listening to it ever since – highly recommend. Start with the one where Huma talks all about how awesome her boss aka Hillary Clinton is! The live version was even better. Democratic Rep Donna Edwards, a brief slide show of besties in history, and lots of thoughtful discussion on gender, politics, money, and more. Plus, wine in sippy cups.

 

Still ahead: a long presentation through which I hope my voice survives, a Nats game (first ever professional baseball game outside of Fenway!), and then five days with my sis and other buds in NYC. Stay tuned as the adventure continues!

*Yes, I briefly considered changing that to frosting or crown but I think the original has more spirit.

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Holiday shopping for boys and girls

Part 2 of 2 in this year’s helpful tips to help survive the holiday season.

While you’re finishing up your shopping, here’s how to make sure you’re not getting the “wrong” gifts for all the kids in your life.

Because really – anyone should be able to appreciate an awesome doll, or firetruck, or set of blocks.  Even this 29-year-old loves some ungendered Legos (hint hint).

Feminism at the movies

I love the Oscars – their glitz, glamour, and short moment in history honoring the movies of the past year.  As always, we’re having our annual Oscar party tonight (with recipes to follow).

In the lead up to this year’s Academy Awards, my office’s chatter has drifted away from recipe puns and toward something with much bigger consequences: the Bechdel test.

From Feminist Frequency, “The Bechdel Test or the Mo Movie Measure is a type of litmus test to assess the presence of women in movies.  It originated from Allison Bechdel’s comic “Dykes to Watch Out For” in 1985.”

There are just three requirements for a film to pass:

1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man
 

Looking at that list of requirements, you’d think that this isn’t a hard thing to accomplish.  Women with names, talking to each other about something other than a man.  Flip it around to be about men and it would describe nearly every blockbuster of the last 50 years.  And yet, some great movies fail.  How do yours stack up?

But let’s let bygones be bygones – surely in 2014, studios are doing better at realizing that women are people – fabulous, talented, multi-dimensional people – right?

Kind of.

Of the nine movies nominated for best picture tonight, here’s how they stack up:

  • “Gravity” — FAIL (though we can give it a little bit of a pass, since there are so few characters to begin with)
  • “Captain Phillips” — FAIL
  • “The Wolf of Wall Street” — FAIL
  •  “12 Years a Slave” — FAIL
  • “Her” — FAIL
  • “American Hustle” — PASS
  • “Philomena” — PASS
  • “Dallas Buyers Club” — PASS
  • “Nebraska” — PASS

Beyond the awards, we’re starting to see a shift – a review of the highest grossing films of 2013 showed that the biggest blockbusters cleared the bar.  Yet the majority of films still fall extremely short.

As movie lovers, let’s support films – and the individuals that make them up – who are committed to showing women as people and not just decoration.  Here’s hoping that by the next Academy Awards, we’ll have made more progress to celebrate together.

Additional reading:

 

Parliamentary Inquiry

“At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues in the room?”

Texas State Senator Leticia Van De Putte never got her answer last night, at the end of the filibuster started by Senator Wendy Davis in protest over restrictions that would make it even harder for women in Texas to get legal, safe abortions.  Instead, the crowd erupted into cheers, which lasted well after midnight, well after the session ended, and well into the night as protests continued to rise over misinformation that said that SB5 had passed.  This morning, we’re learning that the bill failed – whatever lame reason the Lt. Governor is giving notwithstanding, we live to fight another day.

But before we more on to equality and climate change and all the other ridiculous problems we need to solve, I want to answer the Senator’s question:

Stand now.

Stand up today, and don’t sit down until we have equality between genders.
Raise your hand immediately and don’t put it down until you’re satisfied that women’s lives won’t be the subject of petty political bickering.
Shout your opinion until you’re hoarse and you’re being taken away in handcuffs just for asking that women get to have rule over their own bodies.  Then, shout it again from your jail cell until your sisters come to bail you out.
Stand in long lines to vote, stand on street corners to collect signatures for your own political run, stand arm in arm as they try to carry us away and deny us our right to protest.

One of my colleagues hit it home when she said “I wish I could imagine a world in which a bunch of women stand around desperately trying to legislate control over a man’s body, but I honestly can’t.”  I’m done being a second class citizen, done with having someone make my decisions for me, done with this patriarchal bullshit.  We can do better.

Please join me in supporting EMILY’s List to put more pro-choice women in office – and stand now, tonight, and tomorrow toward the equal future we all know is possible.

YES WE CAN

Last night, I got to hold my best friend’s hand as we watched the election results come in and victories unfold around us.

For women.
For equality.
For students and sick kids.
For working mothers who deserve equal pay.
For people who believe in a better future for this country.
For a renewed vision for tomorrow.

When my great grandmother came to this country in the early days of the last century, she never would have imagined the scene I saw last night.  In my home state of New Hampshire, women now make up the entire Congressional delegation, and we’ve elected an amazing woman to serve as our second female governor AND made history with the first female Senator from MA.  She, who fought for an end to segregation and was there when Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his dream, would have wept to see the spread of justice in the form of victories for marriage equality.  She would have been stunned into silence at the idea of a black man not just winning the presidency, but doing it twice.  And she, who trained her son who trained his daughter who trained her daughter – me – to stand up for what you believe in would have been right beside me all weekend as I phone banked, canvassed, and waited in the cold for two hours to cast my ballot for amazing candidates.

From the state rep races in Michigan (congrats Dian!) to marriage equality in Maine to NH swinging blue to record-high turnout and people waiting in lines for hours just to do their civic duty, it was a night to remember.

I am so proud of our victories last night – and I’m so excited to see what amazing things we’re going to do in the years ahead.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

That’s me as Rosie the Riveter at a Halloween party this weekend. I realized on my way there that this is the third year in a row I’ve portrayed an awesome lady leader (or symbol) with my Halloween costume.

2012: Rosie the Riveter
2011: Cleopatra
2010: Julia Child (in this same shirt – three cheers for the all-purpose costume!)

Maybe I have a type? 😉

Since we went to a house party last night, I was relieved to see a binder full of women on my way to the gym this afternoon. My Halloween wouldn’t have been complete without it!

What awesome costumes did you wear or see this year?

Halloween dangers and double standards

Ah, Halloween – the time when you can be anything, as long as it’s slutty.

Don’t get me wrong – if you’ve waiting all year to express some element of your personality that you would regularly hide, and that part of your personality likes to show off its cleavage and wear super short skirts, then you should go for it!  But Halloween is still the time of the super double standard, as this website (contains a swear in the title, FYI!) so clearly demonstrates.  Men can be lumberjacks – women can only be sexy lumberjacks.  Or sexy nuns, astronauts, teachers, etc.

Even worse: the way that this holiday has been co-opted to reinforce gender stereotypes even for kids.  Even as our society continues to come to terms with the fact that some women might not dream of a wedding day with a white dress, and some men might want to wear a skirt now and then (I freaking love skirts, and can’t imagine people not wanting to get in on this fun!), or the fact that some people might like to make their choices about outfits, hairstyles, relationships, and bodies without fitting into some gender norm, I think that Halloween was supposed to be an escape from that.  A time to see if the skirt really does make you feel more like yourself, a time to imagine what it might be like to grow a beard, or have a cape and pretend to fly.

When I was a kid, my close group of girl friends and I took this to an extreme:

  • One year, my friends and I were Miss America contestants.  I was Miss Arizona because she reminded me of my summer camp counselor who was the best thing since sliced bread.  We bought 80’s prom dresses from the local thrift store and made sashes – I still have mine.  I wore sneakers under my long dress – how else could I be expected to get all the candy people were dishing out?
  • The next year, we were boys.  Just boys.  I can recall lots of boys coming to my house with their shirts stuffed and skirts waving, so it seemed only fair to see what the fuss was about on their end.  At this point, I had a super short haircut anyway (not by choice…), and our interpretation of being a boy involved flannel shirts, baseball hats, jeans, and fake black eyes made from the contents of our mediocre makeup kits.  Not sure why, but hey, it was fun!  We ended up in the parking lot of our elementary school after trick-or-treating ended, and I remember wondering if people passing by would think we were actually boys instead of dressed up.  Would it matter?

Answer: no.  It shouldn’t.  I really hope we can step away from stereotypical gender roles – as a country, society, community, generation, you name it! – and make Halloween back into something fun.  It could be an example of personal expression and acceptance.  There’s literally nothing to lose here and everything to gain.

On the bright side, there are already cool people like the parents mentioned on this blog who want their kids to have all the opportunities (and colors and stickers) available, instead of limiting girls to being butterflies and boys to being tigers.  And on the flip side, there are people like this:

Do me a favor: When you see an awesome kid trick-or-treating this Halloween, consider what message you can send them about who they are and how they show themselves to the world.  Are they clever, in addition to being pretty?  Are they “so cool” in addition to being strong?  Or are they just awesome for taking a chance and trying something new (especially if they skip the store and make it themselves??)?  Maybe all of the above.