The Representation Project

December 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

The Representation Project is “a movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change.” In addition to their clever hashtags #notbuyingit (to callout sexism in the media) and #mediawelike (to spotlight media that empowers women and girls), the Representation Project has recently released a documentary, called Miss Representation. Here is the synopsis and trailer:

“Like drawing back a curtain to let bright light stream in, Miss Representation (87 min; TV-14 DL) uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see. Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.

In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.
Stories from teenage girls and provocative interviews with politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists and academics, like Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem build momentum as Miss Representation accumulates startling facts and statistics that will leave the audience shaken and armed with a new perspective.”

A brother film is currently under production, called The Mask You Live In. It’s about masculinity in society.


Rise Africa highlights ‘The Feminist Edition’ for the month of November

November 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

Rise Africa is a multimedia platform where individuals can connect and communicate about Africa, African Culture, and the Diaspora.  The platform is particularly geared toward “vocalizing the frustrations of [African] people as well as generating resolutions to change the media-enhanced perception of Africa as the world’s handicapped continent.”  Rise Africa highlights everything from (fabulous!) art and culture, to activism, law, history, and ethics. Although primarily a community for Africans,  it is nevertheless an enlightening, lively, and enriching read for all visitors.

This month, Rise Africa’s theme is Feminism. More specifically, it asks, “What does Feminism look like in Africa?” All community members are encourage to submit articles, blogposts, art, etc surrounding this question.

For the African woman raised abroad, reading bell hooks, and Patricia Hill Collins, Melissa Perris Harry, Audre Lorde, what does it mean to be an African woman, and feminist? For the woman growing up on the continent, where the presence and pressure of culture is present, what does it mean to be an African woman, and feminist? For the brothers, sons, uncles, grandfather, lovers, and friends, what will it mean to them to love an African feminist, or be an African feminist?

If you are interested in contributing, you can email your article submission to You can also follow along with all of the submission here, as they become available.

the Listserv: Chosen for a Day

September 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

I was pleasantly surprised  (and a bit panicked) to be chosen for the Listserv. I mentioned this organization a while back. One person a day wins the opportunity to send out a message to 24,000+ people. You hear from people all over the world and from all sorts of backgrounds.  I still highly recommend joining it.

I didn’t think I’d ever be chosen to write the daily message.  600 word limit to say what I felt was important. There was so little time in my busy days, but here’s what went out:

The Listserv message for September 12, 2013

“Now, before I start my message, relax. Whenever I get the Listserv, I’m in midday mode. My face is tense, my shoulders are scrunched, my breathing is short. Maybe this isn’t you. But if it is.


Take a moment and a deep breath.


The combination of anonymity, a fleeting power to amplify my voice, and a word limit to simplify it makes me feel both safe and significant for today. I can open up to strangers. I can say something important. I can say the most important thing—if I could only realize and articulate it within 48-hours. But it’s the first weeks of my PhD. So I cant. And in the absence of Best, [though I don’t believe there is one], I leave you something good:

“In the center of [the city called] Fedora, that gray stone metropolis, stands a metal building with a crystal globe in every room. Looking into each globe, you see a blue city, the model of a different Fedora. These are the forms the city could have taken if, for one reason or another, it had not become what we see today. In every age someone, looking at Fedora as it was, imagined a way of making the ideal city, but while he constructed his miniature model, Fedora was already no longer the same as before, and what had been until yesterday a possible future became only a toy in a glass globe.The building with the globes is now Fedora’s museum: every inhabitant visits it, chooses the city that corresponds to his desires, contemplates it, imagining his reflection in the medusa pond that would have collected the waters of the canal (if it had not been dried up), the view from the high canopied box along the avenue reserved for elephants (now banished from the city), the fun of sliding down the spiral twisting minaret (which never found a pedestal from which to rise).On the map… there must be room both for the big, stone Fedora and the little Fedoras in glass globes. Not because they are all equally real, but because all are only assumptions. The one contains what is accepted as necessary when it is not yet so; the others, what is imagined as possible and, a moment later, is possible no longer.”

– Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino

If we are not careful, we can spend so much time building the world of our dreams
that we miss the world around us.
And if we are not careful, we can watch the world around us so intently
that we never enjoy the dream to make it better.

“There must be room both for….Fedora and the…Fedoras in glass globes.”

Now, I treasure passion and purpose. If asked what I see as something beautiful, I would say the sight a person in the act of their passion—be it painting, wandering, debating, laughing… If asked what I feel feeds my depths, I would say the moments that I engage my own passions—but I would also say the knowledge that I am making the world better, even if only for one person. In some ways, these two concepts are Fedora and the Fedoras of the glass globes.”

For inspiration:

YouTube the black&white version of ‘Shake the Dust‘ (Anis Mojgani).

Look at the sky, often.

Kickstarter film, not documentary, seek to highlight the Omo Valley

August 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Kickstarter Campaign for: “People of the Delta” Film Project from Joey L on Vimeo.

I came across this kickstarter project and thought it was interesting. The director seems to be approaching his film in a way that respects culture, as well as individuals, and attempts to project the empowered, beautiful side of an environmental region in need.

“People of the Delta is a cinematic narrative film collaborating with real people and stories from the tribes of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley.

The script was written with true events in mind, shaped from the collective wisdom of stories handed down from the elders of the Dassanach and Hamar tribes. These two tribes are historically known for competing against one another for the limited amount of fertile land found along the Omo River. This fragile way of life becomes the backbone of our film’s plot.

Conflict over resources extends to every culture and country on the globe today, and is expressed with an entirely unique perspective in the film.

The story is told in two chapters from two unique perspectives. Kulcho- a young boy from the Hamar tribe who becomes a warrior, and Bona- an elder chief of the Daasanach. Although they are from rival tribes, their lives become connected.”

Rape and Feminism

August 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

In an article published today by Salon, author Estelle Freedman discusses the role of feminism in changing America’s rhetoric and laws  surrounding sexual assault.

 As [feminism] evolved from the radical margins to the political mainstream, the movement proved far more effective than its predecessors in changing both laws and institutional practices. The rapidity of the shift, evidenced by an explosion in media coverage and legal reform, suggests that the spark of feminist politics ignited a backlog of fear and resentment among American women, many of whom had felt both physically at risk and politically disempowered by the threat of rape.

It’s a quick read, but an interesting read nonetheless–and one that discusses an issue relevant to all of us today. In fact, the BBC just published an interesting article about how feminist comedians are fighting back against the fact that domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape have become “open fodder for comedians at open-mic nights.”

As one of life’s odd correlations, just  before reading this article  I ran an ngram1 search for the words “rape” and “feminism” in all Google digitized books from 1800 to 2008. The result (click the image to enlarge):

ngram rape and feminism

1Ngram is a phrase-usage graphing tool which charts the yearly count of selected n-grams (letter combinations)[n] or words and phrases,[1][2] as found in over 5.2 million books digitized by Google Inc (up to 2008) (cite: wikipedia). In other words, it counts how many times a word was used in all google-digitized book for each year.

Recommended Post: Is it nuts to give money to the poor?

August 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Evidence-based Social Intervention

In a recent blog post, Columbia professor and development cash transfer expert Chris Blattman states the following:

“Neither the government nor the charity I worked with in Uganda were willing to try [giving people] just cash…[A radio show] talked to a woman from Heifer International, who give cows and training instead of cash. That could be the right thing to do. But she couldn’t bear the thought of finding out. She hated the idea of experimenting on poor people. They are human beings.
Let me be blunt: This is the way the Heifers of the world fool themselves. When you give stuff to some people and not to others, you are still experimenting in the world. You are still flipping a coin to decide who you help and who you don’t, it’s just an imaginary one.

You’re experimenting with your eyes closed.

This is a somewhat controversial statement that…

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International Feminist Network

July 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

An interesting map to explore. It includes individuals, NGOs, and academic programs.