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Women and Hollywood posted about Ben Affleck’s universally adored “Argo:”

Of the movie’s thirteen or so lead roles, three of them are played by women, and none of them are the caliber you might expect from a film that takes its female characters seriously…

Part of the movie’s marginalization of female characters can be rationalized away by the true-life nature of the film. Because the movie is “based on a true story,” Affleck and his screenwriter, Chris Terrio, have to somewhat stick to the facts and show the story the way things happened. But unlike this year’s Compliance, which told about as accurate of an account of real-life workplace abuse possible, Argo plays fast and loose with the facts for cinematic impact — to ramp up the drama and intensity. (If you needed someone to tell you the airport chase probably didn’t happen that way, you have no idea what the definition of a movie is.) Thus, the “we-had-to-stick-to-the-facts-so-no-lines-for-womenfolk” argument doesn’t hold up. If you can make room for an airport chase, a protracted dénouement where Mendez is awarded an Intelligence Star, a speech from Jimmy Carter (that adds nothing to the film) and a gratuitous shot of Affleck’s abs, you can give one woman something to do. Anything at all.

I’m not saying they should create a new role for a woman or magically create a female spy (it’s not Alias, after all), but the women here deserve more than virtual silence. The film doesn’t take place at an all-boys’ school or a magical world in which all of the women have gone mute. It was the 1970’s, not Spike TV. There were women who had relationships to the story, and the film’s desire to marginalize them or cut them out completely shows how little modern Hollywood thinks of female narratives. Movies actually made in the 70’s had better roles for women than this, and the idea that Affleck gets let off the hook for sexism because he made a period piece is insulting.

Writer Nico Lang is addressing an issue that people always raise on Reel Girl: “a magical world where the women have gone mute.” Fill-in-the-blank movie has to leave females out because that’s just how it is, in the original story, in the time period, in the jungle, whatever i.e. Tintin, Lord of the Rings, Marvel comics, DC comics, pirates, the 70s.

WTF? There is only one female chef in “Ratatouille” because there aren’t female chefs in France. The movie is about a rat who can cook. A talking rodent is more believable than 50% of chefs being female? In “The Lion King” the female lions have to wait until the male lion, our hero, Simba, returns because males lead the pride in the real world. That same “real world” where a lion dances, sings and is BFFs with a warthog and Meekrat? Huh?

The “we-had-to-stick-to-the-facts-so-no-lines-for-womenfolk” argument rarely holds up, yet it gets used all the time.

Lang makes another point in her criticism of “Argo” that I often address on Reel Girl. When a female is allowed to be a lead in a movie, she is surrounded by a constellation of males. You almost never get to see powerful females working together. Lang writes:

Argo isn’t alone in marginalizing women’s roles in film, as all but five of this year’s Top 20 films were dominated by men, and even films that feature women as leads do so in films where their gender is the minority (see: The Hunger GamesBraveSnow White and the Huntsman).Although it may be wrong to criticize Argo for doing the same thing everyone else is (just more egregiously), the film shows that even our “serious films” often do not privilege women’s narratives.

Not serious films and not children’s films. What does that leave? Oh yeah, chick flicks.

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I’m still thinking about blue milk’s post and those damn bananas. What is fascinating to me, as blue milk posted, is that the act of covering up reality to protect the child’s imagination, is such an important part of parenting. That’s why routine is so great. If your child has safe boundaries, she feels brave enough to take healthy risks. That this episode put that burden on the girl children is remarkable and sad.

Psychologist Stephen Mitchell in his book, Can Love Last: the Fate of Romance Over Time said all of this better than me:

One of the things good parents provide for their children is a partially illusory, elaborately constructed atmosphere of  safety, to allow for the establishment of “secure attachment.” Good-enough parents, to use D. W. Winnicott’s term, do not talk with young children about their own terrors, worries, and doubts. They construct a sense of buffered permanence, in which the child can discover and explore without any impinging vigilance, her own mind, her creativity, her joy in living. The terrible destructiveness of child abuse lies not just in trauma of what happens but also the tragic loss of what is not provided– protected space for psychological growth.

It is crucial that the child does not become aware of how labor intensive that protracted space is, of the enormous amount of parental activity going on behind the scenes.

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Even I believed it. I did. Because no one would say something like that if it weren’t true, right?

Turns out a bipartisan group of women was trying to address the problem of no women in Mass leadership. They put together the infamous binder and brought it to Romney. Contrary to what he claimed in last night’s debate, Romney never requested any research on women candidates.

From the Atlantic:

the story isn’t true— that women’s groups had been pushing these binders and that they were created by a bipartisan coalition of women’s advocates:

What actually happened was that in 2002 — prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration — a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.

They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.

Read the whole story here.

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I never met Bea in person, but I knew her through her Grandma’s photos on Facebook. I was so sad to find out that this adorable dog died at age 2 on a United airline flight from New York to San Francisco. Bea’s tragic story makes me very nervous about how pets are treated while flying.

People.com reports: 

But when Rizer, 34, her husband, Alex Mehran, and their 10-month-old son Zander landed in San Francisco on Sept. 3, they found out one of their family members had been lost along the way: Bea had died.

The golden retriever’s passing was inexplicable. Bea was young and had undergone a requisite physical examination – and was found to be in perfect health – just days before the flight. Golden retrievers don’t usually experience problems during air travel.

“We’re completely devastated,” Rizer tells PEOPLE. “[The airline] didn’t even have an excuse.”

In a passionate blog post on Rizer’s website, Bea Makes Three, she paints a picture of United employees reluctant to admit wrongdoing or share any information about the company’s internal investigation.

According to Rizer, her veterinarian performed a full necropsy and determined the cause of death to be heatstroke, “the absolute worst thing I could have imagined happening to her,” Rizer says. “She died 30 feet below us, alone and scared. Nobody was there to help her because someone made a mistake.”

According to Rizer, her veterinarian performed a full necropsy and determined the cause of death to be heatstroke, “the absolute worst thing I could have imagined happening to her,” Rizer says. “She died 30 feet below us, alone and scared. Nobody was there to help her because someone made a mistake.”

In a statement, United tells PEOPLE that, “We understand that the loss of a beloved pet is difficult and express our condolences to Ms. Rizer and her family for their loss. After careful review, we found there were no mechanical operational issues with Bea’s flight and also determined she was in a temperature-controlled environment for her entire journey. We would like [to] finalize the review but are unable until we receive a copy of the necropsy.”

Rizer considered filing a lawsuit but hopes that speaking out about her experience will help inform people about the risks of traveling with a pet in cargo.

“I don’t think dogs should be treated like bags,” she says. “They’re living, breathing creatures and parts of people’s families.” She adds that she will never fly with her dogs again.

Please read Maggie Rizer’s blog post about her dog, Bea, and share Bea’s story to do what you can to help protect pets and keep them safer in the future.

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Look who I saw while searching for fishsticks at Whole Foods:

Remember when Dora used to be cool?

Sadly, Breaded Fishie Dora looks less like her former self and more like sexy Ms. Green getting stalked by Yellow on an M and Ms package:

This pose– one leg out, one leg bent, in a bathing suit and smiling at the camera– is commonly used when toy, food, and game companies are marketing products to girls. Why not show Dora swimming instead of vamping? Does this pose say: “Look what I can do!” or “Look how cute I am?”

Next time you’re shopping, check out packaging featuring boy and girl characters. Boy characters, whether on cereal boxes or toys, will be doing things. Girl characters will be looking “pretty.” What do these stereotypes repeatedly teach our kids about gender? What do they tell our kids that they will get attention for? That they are capable of?

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Safeway makes a great move:

From UFCW Local 5:

UFCW Local 5 has reached an agreement with Safeway Stores over the return to work of Ryan Young who was suspended for intervening in a physical altercation between a man and a pregnant woman at the company’s Del Rey Oaks store where he works. The agreement resolves a grievance filed by the Union on Ryan’s behalf and includes reinstatement to his job as a meat clerk along with back pay and benefit coverage.

“While Safeway has legitimate policies and concerns around workplace violence and the appropriate employee response, once the company heard our presentation of the case including Ryan’s explanation of the incident, management realized that the suspension was not appropriate and immediately worked with us to resolve the grievance and put Ryan back to work,” said Union president Ron Lind.

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The Mayor of Del Ray Oaks, Jerry B. Edelen, wrote this letter to the Monterey County Herald published today:

The recent incident involving the Safeway employee who intervened to protect a pregnant woman from being struck by her male companion represents a gross miscarriage of justice on the part of Safeway.

Del Rey Oaks Police Chief Ron Langford, a law enforcement officer with over 30 years of experience, has thoroughly investigated the incident, including viewing a videotape of occurrence, and has concluded that the employee was justified in his actions. Chief Langford has written the employee a letter praising him for his actions.

Of course Safeway has the authority and responsibility to conduct its own investigation. Where Safeway has erred is placing the employee on unpaid leave. This action, in effect, is punitive. By theoretically saving an insignificant amount of money by not paying the employee during the investigation, Safeway is losing considerable sales revenue and customer goodwill. Citing “having to follow set administrative procedures” is no excuse. Leadership means that sometimes standard operating procedures should be modified to ensure justice.

I will place this matter on our next City Council agenda and ask that the council support a resolution praising the Safeway employee for his courageous actions.

Jerry B. Edelen
Del Rey Oaks mayor

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This weekend “The Avengers” broke all box office records by grossing $200.3-million in its domestic debut.

By all accounts, I hear this is a great movie, but here is why I’m concerned. The male/ female ratio in this ensemble movie is 6:1.

The problem is that this same gendered ratio shows up in most movies made for kids. Even though The Avengers” is not for kids, the superhero theme is obviously kid friendly. I bet the images of “Avengers” superheroes from the movie will now be replicated in toys, video games, T-shirts, and sippy cups.

Even if these specific stars are not replicated in kidworld, the “successful” Holllywood formula will continue to be. Unless Hollywood actively does something about it, females will continue to be represented as a tiny minority in kids films. That sexism then infiltrates kids toys and then kids imaginary play in a huge viscous circle.

This is Hollywood, people! Fantasy. You can make up anything. Please make half of the characters in movies for kids female.

When you continually have only one female in movies for kids, it’s almost impossible to keep from limiting and stereotyping her. The more females you have, the more story lines you need to come up with, the more creative you must be.

Hollywood, I know “The Avengers” is for adults, but please don’t keep mirroring this male/ female ratio in kids movies. It teaches kids (KIDS!) that boys are more important and get to do more things than girls do. That’s not fair to children and their growing brains.

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Yes, it’s true. I’m infiltrating the enemy. Headed to Ground Zero with my camera phone. I’ll report back next week on what I found there xo

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sorry for double post, please see post above!


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