Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

WAM. (smack! pow!)

I'm sitting in Bostons' airy and chilly South Station, using their less than stellar wireless connection to gather my thoughts on the three-day immersion in feminist media extravaganza, also known as the Women, Action and the Media conference.

I am glad to have gone if only to have met face to face some of my amazing amazing editors and co-writers at Rh Reality Check, Bitch, and Women's eNews. The panels were all fantastic and informative and I met several lovely and friendly feminists and had great discussions with them.

The down side: at moments (lunchtime, the so-called "party") the whole thing felt like a bizarro version of 7th grade at an all-girls high school... But that, imho, is just the nature of all events where there's forced socialization. No matter how progressive or enlightened their politics are, people behave in certain ways... that's why my love of fiction, aka the study of the flaws in human nature, complements my interests in political movements so well :)

BUT I digress, dear readers. I'll quickly run down the panels I went to and what I thought of them. If you find the ideas discussed herein piquing your interest, come next year and keep my ass company.

  • The first panel was with Emily , the associate editor at RHRC, and Amanda, the host of the site's slammin' podcast and feminist blogger extraordinaire. I have to say it was the most intelligent, thoughtful discussion of reproductive justice that I've experienced, and it felt like the convo was just getting started as the session came to an end. One particular anecdote that panelist Cristina Page relayed about how abortion is considered even more serious a topic than, say war, definitely gave me some insight into the connection between how women are portrayed in pop culture and the restriction of our physical rights. Kudos to all involved. Here's Amanda's take and here's feministing's liveblog.
  • The second panel on "Breaking into the old boys club" was also the beginning of an AMAZING discussion on how women, or self-identified feminists in mainstream-slash- corporate media outlets can point out discriminatory or stereotypical content in a productive way and how to avoid being marginalized as that "shrill feminist/PC person". As the longtime token feminist at the Crimson I definitely related, and if I ever work in the mainstream media again, which I'm sure I will, it gave me a ton of food for thought.
  • Andi Zeisler, the editorial director at Bitch, did a panel on women in reality TV, which is obviously a favorite topic of mine. Andi made a really interesting point about how women in reality TV tend to be LESS nuanced and less realistic than women on scripted show, but because it's "reality TV" the media and other arbiters of cultural mores use them as stand-ins for real women. "The newfound popularity of feel good" reality shows like Extreme Makeover: Home and Oprah's big give gave us a chance to brainstorm our own more femme-friendly reality TV pitches.
  • This morning I went to anther panel on abortion featuring Frances Kissling and others. This presented data-and message driven ideas abut how to win the ideological war on this issue. I'm glad I got more chances to think about abortion in America and hear several very different perspectives on how we go forward...I have to say though, that hearing about how judgmental towards women Americans are, at least according to polling data, did give me a hard dose of reality after the optimism of the reproductive justice panel yesterday!
  • Finally I went to the first two-thirds of a kick-ass discussion on media sexism in the coverage of the election which has obviously been shamefully on display this season. I was happy that Betsy Reed of the Nation also brought up, really eloquently, how racist some Clintonites and pundits have been and how there's a deep connection between both isms, but how both isms are different in their manifestations and results, and the whole oppression-Olympics brouhaha is pointless.

And that's it. For now. It was nice-(ish) to be back in Cambridge. The sight of the Lowell bell-tower and Memorial Church in the glow of twilight is stunningly beautiful. And also cold. Like the Puritan soul of Boston itself. Get me back to NYC, Amtrak! Stat!

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