Posts Tagged ‘media’

I am thankful to be a part of AAUW. When I became a National Student Advisory Council member, I instantly joined a network of amazing women from all walks of life.

I have received great support from the AAUW Lakewood (CO) Branch and from professors — including Kari Kloos — and staff at Regis University to bring AAUW programs to my campus. For example, I’m organizing a screening of the documentary Miss Representation on Monday, March 26. Because of the great amount of interest in the film, we moved the venue from the small Walker Pub on campus to our Science Amphitheatre, which can hold a large number of people. We are all looking forward to a successful and fun event for our movie night.

I was also asked to join a panel presentation at the AAUW of Colorado state convention in Lone Tree, Colorado, in April. I plan to share my experiences working with AAUW and Regis University as well as the role of the National Student Advisory Council and my efforts to start an AAUW student organization on my campus.

I plan to write future blogs about the film screening, my other campus outreach efforts, the state convention, Regis University’s new AAUW branch, and the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in June. I am truly humbled by the outpouring of help and support I have received from AAUW members and friends.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Maria Mazzaferro.


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via technorati.comA few weeks ago, I was at home with my three little sisters — ages 8, 17, and 19 — watching television. The two teenagers are fans of Love and Hip-Hop, which is a show about the daily lives of wives in the hip-hop music industry. They watch it every week. When I was home, I decided to watch the show with them as a form of bonding. I am not a dedicated fan of reality television and was not completely cognizant of the show’s content, but I was looking forward to spending time with them.

When the show began, I was in complete disbelief and felt embarrassed! The women were disrespectful to each other. They were manipulative, overly sexualized, venomous, tremendously emotional, angry, excessively sensitive, desperate, and always trying to physically fight one another (about a man or money). They act like what some people may consider “air heads.” Sadly, these are not unusual depictions of women on reality television.

As a black woman, I was unquestionably concerned — even livid — at the way I was being portrayed.

I continued to watch the show, optimistically waiting for a change of behavior or character. My expectations were not fulfilled. I glanced at my sisters and saw that they found the women’s behavior entertaining, which significantly increased my concern. Has this become the norm for women on reality television?

Young ladies are idolizing these women, which is both frightening and heartbreaking. Someone must do something!

Being the activist that I am, I decided to write to the network. I am not sure if it will make a momentous difference, but someone has to step up.

Shows like this make me wonder, What does the future hold for the coming generations? The media, especially reality television, is teaching them that it is standard to behave disrespectfully toward each other. It is telling them that they must be excessively sexualized or “plastic” in order to be considered beautiful.

As an educated and self-aware young woman of the 21st century, I take it upon myself to lead by example. I do this not only for myself but also for my little sisters and other young women in today’s society.

As an older sister and mentor, I vow to teach my sisters the appropriate way to behave in public. I will show them that their strengths go beyond just their looks.

I am thankful for organizations like AAUW because they permit women to soar high. It motivates and educates all women to be the leaders of tomorrow.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Wilsar Johnson.

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As a millennial woman, I take issue with recent media reports that suggest that women in my generation are either voluntarily sacrificing their professional ambition or burning out in significant numbers by the age of 30.

These types of stories support the postfeminist media backlash that has been floating around since the advent of the women’s rights movement in the 1960s. The idea is simple: The modern professional woman is overworked, stressed, harassed, and in a chronic time crunch. Moreover, the only way she can relieve this pressure is to minimize or redefine her ambition and accept more essential notions of femininity.

Growing up, I was told that I could “have it all.” I could be anything I wanted to be because I was just as capable as a man. I could also get married and start a family if I so desired. Of course, in order to have it all, I would also have to agree to take on the oft-cited “double shift.” I can be equal in the male public sphere as long as I take care of the female private sphere too.

This begs the question: How am I supposed to run a marathon if I am carrying around twice as much weight as the guy next to me?

These media reports don’t help me answer this question. In fact, it seems like they’re meant to scare me into thinking that I had better relax with this whole ambition thing because I am obviously overexerting myself in order to hide the unhappiness that I undoubtedly feel inside. After all, at 27, I only have three short years left before I burn out.

The problem with these reports is not only that they ignore significant sociocultural factors, such as the double shift, that contribute to so-called burnout but that they also tacitly endorse gendered notions of corporate life and refuse to positively acknowledge choices that exist outside of that structure, such as leaving a corporate job to start your own business.

In other words, they focus on the wrong issues. The central question shouldn’t be whether it is a sacrifice or a compromise to step away from work in order to achieve better work-life balance. The question should be why society is forcing only women to make this decision. Why are we preventing men from redefining their ambition and choosing to be more actively involved with their families?

Moreover, why are women of my generation being depicted as the only ones facing questions of job fulfillment and unhappiness? Are all millennial men totally satisfied with their jobs?

It is in both men’s and women’s best interests to seek a balance between their home and work lives. However, the issue is usually framed as a distinctly female one.

As a millennial woman, I look forward to the day when work-life balance is perceived as a genderless issue, when the corporate employment structure is not built around the wants and needs of a constructed male image, and when my ambition to have it all does not place the responsibility on my shoulders alone.

This post was written by AAUW Leadership Programs Intern Jennifer M. Perdomo.

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A recent Tide commercial reinforced the stereotype that young girls should wear pink, not cargo shorts.

Within one week, I had the misfortune to witness two instances of the kind of gender stereotyping that made me realize we haven’t really come a long way, baby.

Unable to fall asleep, I tuned in to the Tonight Show on September 9. Bill Maher was being queried about the chances of Sarah Palin running for president. In response, he referred to her as a “daffy broad,” which in no way reflected a political point of view but rather a derogatory attitude toward women. I could understand his subsequent retelling of her disastrous interview with Katie Couric to highlight a point about her intellect, but what I was hearing that night was two men exchanging insulting words and laughing about someone simply because of her gender. This is not the first time that Maher has used a sexist term in referring to women. He has called them boobs and twats in the past. Some people might forgive him because he is a comedian, but his remarks were not part of a stand-up routine.

A few nights later, a commercial for Tide detergent was aired on television. It portrayed a very demure, cardigan-dressed mother primly watching her daughter play with blocks. In a sad voice, she tells us how she tried “the pink thing” in vain, but all her daughter wants to do is wear her cargo shorts. The expression on the mom’s face and tone of voice suggest that her daughter has descended to the seventh level of hell because she has not conformed to an acceptable female stereotype. It’s sad to think that major corporations are fostering such ideas in their advertising while we are clamoring for the advancement of women in all professions and life choices.

It’s long past the time for the media and corporate America to realize that women will no longer accept gender discrimination.

This post was written by AAUW Director-at-Large Sandy Camillo.

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It’s been two months since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Wal-Mart v. Dukes case prevented the women of Wal-Mart from taking on the nation’s largest employer as a nationwide, class-action group. But gender discrimination doesn’t take a day off, and neither does AAUW. AAUW continues to stand behind the women of Wal-Mart because we firmly believe in protecting the rights of Americans to bring class-action suits against discriminatory employers. That’s why I asked former civil rights lawyer and 1993–94 AAUW Selected Professions Fellow Suzette Malveaux her professional opinion on Wal-Mart v. Dukes.

Malveaux earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Harvard University, and with the help of her AAUW fellowship, she completed her law degree at New York University. “I was very fortunate to get a fellowship from AAUW to go toward my legal education,” she said. “At the time, I was wrestling with whether I wanted to go to law school. It was organizations like AAUW that really made a difference in terms of giving me the financial confidence to make that decision and pursue a career as a civil rights lawyer.” Malveaux said the AAUW fellowship gave her the freedom and flexibility to work at a nonprofit after graduating, enabling her to carry out her commitment to social justice.

Malveaux began working on class-action litigation with the law firm Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld, and Toll. During her career, she worked to secure assets for survivors of the Holocaust and represented victims of the 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma, race riot before federal courts and the House of Representatives. Eight years ago, she was an attorney for the plaintiffs in Wal-Mart v. Dukes and helped draft the initial class certification motion. She reminded me of the time, resources, and courage required to bring a class-action suit against an employer, especially one as powerful as Wal-Mart. “I find the women of Wal-Mart inspiring. They have been in the trenches for the last decade.”

Malveaux now teaches civil rights and fair employment law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. In 2006, she co-authored Class Actions and Other Multi-Party Litigation, and in March of this year she published “Class Actions at the Crossroads: An Answer to Wal-Mart v. Dukes in the Harvard Law and Policy Review. Referring to the Supreme Court’s decision, she said, “I share AAUW’s disappointment. The case has made it more difficult for employees and for women who are trying to challenge systemic gender discrimination to do that in large numbers. The class action is so important because it really does level the playing field between giant corporations and employees with little resources to challenge discrimination.”

Despite these setbacks, Malveaux believes we have a lot to learn from Wal-Mart v. Dukes, not only in terms of how discrimination works but also about what it takes to achieve justice. “I would take courage and inspiration from the women who have had the audacity to challenge Wal-Mart. It’s a great example of how together, we as women can do extraordinary things.”

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Melissa Rogers.

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I’ve never been called a slut, but last Saturday, I claimed the name when I participated in SlutWalk D.C.

SlutWalks started in Toronto in April in response to a police officer who said women wouldn’t be victimized if they didn’t dress like sluts. The first walk in Toronto touched a nerve, and people around the world are organizing and participating in satellite SlutWalks to say that sexual assault is about power, not our clothing choices. SlutWalkers also challenge the negative connotation of the word “slut.” No matter how people dress, they deserve respect.

I concur, and so on Saturday I marched from the White House to the Washington Monument with more than 1,000 SlutWalkers. The mood was upbeat and supportive. Some people wore next to nothing, while others were fully clothed. Many people held anti-rape and anti-victim-blaming signs. Tourists lined the sidewalks taking photos of us, many cheering and encouraging us as we walked.

After the walk ended, despite an initial downpour of rain, hundreds of people stayed to hear talks from 22 survivors, allies, and community activists. I was the fourth speaker. The audience supportively cheered and clapped throughout the talks.

My reason for participation was very personal. As I said in my talk, I wanted to honor the many rape survivors I know and love, including my grandmother.

In this photo, my grandmother is 3 years old. Her father was already sexually abusing her. At age 12, a lifeguard raped her. Then as a young teenager, she told her Mormon church leader about the abuse, and he sexually assaulted her instead of helping her. For decades after that, she was silenced by shame and the fear of blame. In fact, some people did blame her when she gathered the courage to share what happened. Its negative effect on her life is still apparent today.

Recently my grandmother wrote the book The Illness That Healed Me with the hopes of being able to help other survivors through the healing process. Because she writes about the abuse by her father, some of her siblings won’t speak to her. She, like all rape survivors, never “asked for it.” They should never be blamed or shamed.

I’m grateful I could participate in SlutWalk D.C. and add my voice to the growing choir of people who are sick and tired of victims being blamed. Instead of focusing on clothing choices, we all should focus on prevention programs and initiatives.

While some people question the effectiveness of SlutWalks, I believe the media coverage helps change societal attitudes. And at an individual level, I witnessed SlutWalk D.C. serve as a healing, empowering, and rejuvenating experience for survivors and friends and family of survivors. That’s powerful.

Some people have dubbed these events the future of feminism, though there are many people who take issue with the walks. This evening at 6 p.m. at our headquarters at 1111 Sixteenth St. NW, AAUW is hosting  Re: Action — A Debate on SlutWalk to discuss both sides. It’s free and open to the public.

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AAUW’s own Cindy Miller kicked off the event by speaking about the state of women in the media. (photo courtesy of Bisnow Media)

AAUW sponsored a Bisnow event about women in media that took place this past Tuesday morning, just hours before our monthly happy hour Cocktails and Convos. Before the panel discussion featuring Gannett President Gracia Martore, PBS CEO Paula Kerger, and PBS NewsHour Anchor Judy Woodruff, AAUW Chief of Marketing and Communications Cindy Miller spoke about the state of women in the media. She cited disappointing statistics about women’s lack of representation in top decision-making positions.

The event was fantastic and further showcased AAUW’s reputation as a knowledgeable, go-to organization on issues affecting women and girls. And the icing on the cake was that C-SPAN’s cameras were rolling to film and air the discussion!


In other news, Martha Ann Miller, a member of AAUW since 1944, turned 100 this month. Cameras were also rolling at the 2011 AAUW National Convention, and they recorded a video of Martha Ann  speaking about the importance of AAUW. When the Washington Post profiled her recently, they included the video of her from the convention in the article. Happy birthday, Martha Ann!


Speaking of the Washington Post, one of AAUW’s Community Action Grantees was featured in a photo gallery, article, and live chat last week. Holla Back DC! and AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund Program Manager Holly Kearl were featured in the article for their activism and expertise in tackling street harassment.


More exciting events and happenings are on the horizon for AAUW. We’ll be sure to keep you posted, so stay tuned! In the meantime, what exciting plans do you have in your local communities?

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