Category Archives: Gender

Big Surprise

Some things you just know. I (and thank goodness I have back-up on this one) knew I was having a baby girl. At 19 weeks, the sonographer scratched her head and said, “Huh. I thought it was a girl too,” but printed out a picture that said “It’s a boy!” And off we went to announce to everyone that mama’s intuition is a myth and that we better buy some Vikings baby gear. I was confused by the news that disproved both my gut feelings and a beautiful dream that Joe had of his long-haired daughter chatting him up, but I didn’t want to act like i didn’t want a boy. I would love a boy. So I started trying to love my “boy.” But every now and then we’d ask each other, “What if the ultrasound technician was wrong? What if all these blue clothes are for a little girl?”

“As long as the baby’s healthy” is one of the cliches mocked in the song “Pregnant Women are Smug.” Of course, I found myself saying it today, since this was the sonogram that I mentioned in my last post, to determine if the baby was too small. And no, not too small. Not too big. Just not a boy. One of my best friends flew in to visit within an hour of the appointment and was able to join us in the doctor’s office. To her credit, she said to our new ultrasound technician, “I still think it’s a girl” moments before we learned that she was. We all saw clear as day that the baby due to arrive in one week is a GIRL. I’d post a sonogram picture for you, but when I say clear as day, I mean it. And I don’t think that’s how she should make her first appearance on the Web.

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Filed under All The World, Gender, Health

(500) Days of Summer: A Love Letter to a Not-Love-Story

500-days-of-summerDear Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, Marc Webb, Eric Steelberg, the producers, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, and everyone else involved in making the movie (500) Days of Summer,

I’ve been subconsciously writing this letter for four months, since I first saw your movie at SXSW. I wrote on this site about my screening experience, but looking back, my post seems flippant and doesn’t indicate the depth to which your story delighted me. My husband wasn’t with me at the SXSW screening, which was unfortunate, because as soon as the credits rolled, I knew he would see himself on that screen. (As will many, many men my age.) Last night, I took him to see the movie at another screening in town.

I loved the movie again, maybe even more this time. You have created a masterful film that captures countless desperately honest moments. It was a visceral pleasure to watch. And I want to articulate some of the reasons why it has touched me so significantly.

I’ll cut here so I can spill lots of spoilers below. (Crucial Minutiae readers, if you’re going to see this movie, bookmark this post and come back once you’ve seen it. I don’t want to ruin your viewing experience.)

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Filed under Beauty in a Wicked World, Gender, Movies, Music, Pop Culture, Random, Relationships, Writing

Healthy Teen Sexuality in Texas

iChoose logoLast Wednesday, I stood at the back of a cafetorium while 100+ teens clustered around the B-boy City Dance Crew, who showed off their moves to Busta Rhymes. The crew called for dancers from the audience, and a group of girls near me nudged and shoved their friend toward the stage. She waved her hands frantically and shook her head, not willing to single herself out. (She later did go up and show off her dance moves, along with another girl who sang an impromptu solo for us.)

We were all there for the iChoose: Real Talk on Sexual Health Teen Summit (I was a volunteer). This one-day workshop for teens provides real information and education about healthy sexuality, with an emphasis on each teen’s opportunity to choose what’s best for them. Over 100 Austin-area teens came out on a summer weekday for over 13 sessions, including “Sexuality & the Law,” “Healthy Masculinity,” and “Birth Control Methods.” I learned about very cool organizations like Men Rally for Change and Love Is Respect: National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline.

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Filed under Beauty in a Wicked World, Career/Life, Education, Gender, Health, Relationships

The Social Media Moment + Sidelined Communities

deannazandtThis week, I got an exciting e-mail from my friend and fellow 2006 REAL Hot 100 winner, Deanna Zandt. She’s a media technologist and a leading expert in women and technology, and she’s about to add “first-time author” to her resume.

She’s signed with the Berrett-Koehler publishing group to write a book about “the social media moment as a huge opportunity for social change and action.” Women, people of color, queer people, and many more have too often been left in the dust of technological advances (see film, TV, and radio in their formative years). Deanna will use her experience in the feminist community and bring in experts from the fields of racial justice, LGBTQQI organizing, the front lines of the class warfare, and more, to assemble strategies for widening the diversity of voices in social media.

Deanna is a sharp, compassionate, thoughtful person, and her book is going to help women and other sidelined communities release their fear and take advantage of the new technologies. The last thing we need is another place where the dominant culture creates uncontested content that blocks out all other perspectives.

If you’re interested in technology and social justice, you should be reading Deanna’s blog. Also, the publisher doesn’t offer advances, so Deanna is fundraising for living expenses this summer while she writes the book in 4 short months. Even if you have $10 to spare, visit her Feed The Author page and join supporters like the Hightower Lowdown, and Don Hazen and Doug Kreeger (editor and board member of AlterNet). It’s a fantastic project in which to invest.

Her full fundraising letter below the cut.

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Filed under Beauty in a Wicked World, Education, Gender, Politics, Race, Science & Technology, Writing

An Open Letter from a Female Director

via Ekwa MO and Melissa Silverstein

Ela Thier, a director and filmmaker for 20 years, wrote this letter about her experience in the film industry as a woman. It’s four pages of pure passion, focused specifically on fundraising for her new project, but it speaks to so much more than simple donation dollars. For example:

After years of learning, practicing, and teaching, after years of query letters, phone calls, meetings, film markets, panels, classes, LA trips, networking, more networking, even more networking, my scripts – those ones that this market reader liked better than the 150 scripts she read that summer – those scripts sit on a shelf. After years of trying and falling and getting up and trying, something finally dawned on me: maybe I’m not the most unlucky bastard that ever lived. Maybe I’m female.

There is no petition to draft. There is no policy to fight. Yet, of the 250 top-grossing films in any given year, 6% are directed by women; of the 50 top-grossing movies each year, roughly 5 star or focus on women. In 80 years of Oscar history, with roughly 250 directors receiving a nomination for best director, 3 nominations went to female directors. No woman director ever received an Oscar.

It would be so much easier if someone would just flat out say it: “You’re not a director. You’re a girl.”

As a screenwriter and aspiring filmmaker with my own taste of the industry, I often fight feelings of defeat and depression when I read statistics like this. It would be simplistic to blame all of the slow movement or rejections in my career on my being a woman; I know it’s more complicated than that. But I do wonder, what if I’d put the name “J. Gandin Le” or “J.G. Le” on the title pages of my scripts instead of “Jennifer”? And I’m a young, white, straight, middle-class woman who’s worked with a legendary filmmaker. I melt into a useless puddle when when I think of the challenges or downright refusals that women of color, transgendered people, lesbians, or poor women must face.

So I give major applause to Ela Thier for resisting that instinct to lose hope, for fighting, for putting her anger and frustration into such eloquent words, and for vowing to work 20 times harder if it means her work will make it into the world.

Read the full letter below the cut.

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Filed under Art, Beauty in a Wicked World, Gender, Movies, Writing

Lynn Nottage Wins Pulitzer

lynnnottageAs more information about the torture memos becomes public this week, it’s important to note that there is also a thrilling news story related, in a way, to torture. Lynn Nottage has won the Pulitzer Prize for her play Ruined, a story about women in the Congo who have been systemically raped and tortured. I haven’t had the privilege of seeing the play, but everyone in the Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts has been buzzing about this play for months, especially about the way it takes a hard look at something awful, yet leaves the audience with great catharsis and hope.

The show has been extended through May 10th, so go get your tickets!

Melissa Silverstein at Women & Hollywood has a great write-up about why awards matter, for the individual artist being honored and for the larger community of women and people of color who are making great work.

Thank you, Ms. Nottage, for creating more space for future artists, for bringing Americans’ attention to horrors we must face as fellow human beings, and for using the powerful medium of live performance to convey hope even in the middle of hopelessness.

Interview with Nottage at Manhattan Theatre Club’s website.

Playbill’s coverage of the honor

Daily News coverage

P.S. Emily, you totally called it.

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Beauty in a Wicked World is a weekly column by Jennifer Gandin Le. It appears on Wednesdays.

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Filed under Art, Beauty in a Wicked World, Gender, In The News, Theater

A Storm is Gathering: Restore Integrity to Marriage

My friend, Geoff, with Shoot the Messenger Productions, shot this Very Serious response to the National Organization for Marriage “Gathering Storm” video. (That’s his handsome fake-moustachioed mug in the screencap below.) It’s going to be aired on Rachel Maddow’s show tonight.

My favorite is: “If gays and lesbians are allowed to marry, we will have no choice but to switch to digital TV.”

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Filed under Gender, Health, In The News, Politics, Relationships, Writing