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Feminist Friday Fun: Kids Pose as Iconic Figures in Women’s History

Enrique Jones has expanded his “Because of Them, We Can…” series to Women’s History Month, and the results are wonderful.

A few highlights:

Ten Years Later: How 9/11 shaped my life (and America)

On September 11, 2001 I was 11 years old and attending the 7th grade at Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School in Port Washington, NY. My parents both worked in Manhattan, and that day they both went to work — as usual.

While I was sitting in Science class at about 9 AM, my teacher, Ms. Colchamiro was called out twice to be told something. We had no idea what – we just knew that we enjoyed the extra minute to work on the science homework none of us had finished from the night before. She came back in looking shaken, but didn’t tell us anything. At about 10 AM, my family’s babysitter came to school to pick me up. I joked with my friends that I got an extra day off of school. Amy looked nervous. “What’s going on?” was the first question out of my mouth. “YOU DON’T KNOW?” she exclaimed – and whisked me back home to turn on the TV and watch the news coverage on my couch, eating a grilled cheese sandwich. My first thought was – “my parents!” – but Amy reassured me they were OK, that they had called her to ask her to pull my sister and I out of school. My parents came home on the last train that left Penn Station that day – we watched the coverage together and they held us tight. I am so very lucky that my mother was running perennially late that morning – she had a meeting at the World Trade Center but was stuck midtown at a different meeting. I shake thinking about that still today. Ever since then, I’ve given my mom exponentially less crap about being late for everything.

I was so blessed that both of my parents and all my family members were OK, but the real test for me came over the weeks that followed. In fact, I’d say that they played a major role in shaping who I am today. Friends had family members who were missing. I watched CNN coverage endlessly with my dad  – I was captivated. My 7th grade Social Studies teacher, an ex-army man, made us learn all the words to “Proud to be an American” and the official salute technique. When my friend was crying in our Science class because her uncle was missing, I went to the bathroom with her to try to console her – but I didn’t know what to say. My typical 11 year old optimism failed me completely. This was unlike anything I had had to deal with. It felt like life kept going but simultaneously stopped completely – everyone was unsure what to do.

9/11 shaped my political growth so completely and fully, that I wonder whether I would have the same interests and career path that I have today without it. When I watched all that coverage and learned about the situation, I gained a love for the news and a kind of excitement about knowing things as they happen. The political situations that arose out of 9/11 – the heightened homeland security, period of blind patriotism, and Patriot Act changed the way I thought about the government and the responsibilities of the media, and is what lead me to become interested in a career in media and communications – because messages are so important, and the way we deliver them is vital to how we understand the world around us.

It shaped our nation, too. It made us more nervous, more skeptical, more proud to be Americans. It gave us the blessing of the period of true united politics and citizens right after the attack, but it also gave us the most bitter division in politics in a long time after the unity wore off. We’ve become more at home in a state with heightened security, but it stripped America of its innocence in war and brutality – it was the first real attack on home soil, and that changed the way we felt about safety, immigration, and being Americans. For my generation, this was the event – which is why when Bin Laden was captured, we celebrated his death not because it was a death, but because it signified a victory in a decade of fear that had defined our lives.

I’m a little nervous in how 9/11 will be covered on its 10th anniversary – with every major news outlet and cable channel airing tributes. I’m sure they’ll all mean well, but it’ll be a bit much. The best tribute I’ve encountered so far is TIME’s 9/11 issue – go check it out. The photos are hauntingly beautiful, and the pieces and interviews are amazing.

I can’t even believe we are still having this conversation, Glenn Beck.

So Glenn Beck recently, yet again, has been making tons of Nazi comparisons:

  • he compared victims of the Norway shooting rampage to the Hitler Youth – saying that attending a camp to learn about democratic politics is the same thing;
  • he likened the early days of the Third Reich to the way that the Obama Administration is handling the debt crisis;
  • and when his co-host suggested that “the point here is not to say gas chambers in Kansas,”Beck yelled back, “Don’t start. If we’re living in a society where we can’t say X in the same paragraph as Y and not be told we are comparing it … if we are living in that society, we are doomed. We are going to be living in a society of gas chambers—if you can’t have a logical conversation.”

Now, this kind of conversation always ticks me off, but this week especially it’s pertinent: I am in Berlin, Germany for a week on vacation. Berlin has loads of museums with lots of information about the Third Reich and the Nazis, and I can confidently tell you that Obama and the victims of the shootings in Norway and political correctness does not equal Nazism. Here are some thing the Nazis DID do:

  • Systematically killed 6 million Jews and millions of gay people, handicapped people, “gypsies”, and other minorities in concentration camps, documented it officially and were proud of these accomplishments
  • executed any and every person who tried to form a political opposition against him
  • quickly established a national dictatorship and system that eliminated any chance for opposition
  • publicly shamed and humiliated those who associated with Jews
  • killed medical patients they felt did not deserve treatment
  • among dozens of other TERRIBLE things.

Remind me again how this is the same thing? This is not a “logical conversation”, Beck. This is the opposite of that. To simply compare any opponents you have to Nazis with some stretch of a comparison, twisting the facts on both ends, does not an argument make. This is a prime example of the harm that so many conservative radio and TV hosts are doing – forcing the national conversation to revolve around liberals on the offense against terrible comparisons. For example, take Michael Savage‘s comparison of Obama to Pol Pot — First of all, Pol Pot studied at EFR, not the Sorbonne. Pol Pot was not a nice man. He was a revolutionary leader that oversaw one of the most dangerous regimes in history. Obama’s young following does not equal the Khmer Rouge, it means a new generation putting faith in a country’s political leader, and electing him through the system for the limited term of four years in a position with limited power. But when you twist the facts and make outrageous analogies, you scare people – and fear is, sadly, one of life’s greatest motivators.

If you want to have a conversation, great. Let’s have it. But this is not a logical conversation. This is a fear-mongering session that harms our political system and conversation. I’m not surprised we can’t sit down and have a national discussion about our debt and the debt ceiling and come to a reasonable solution. How could we when some of the biggest media figures on one side are screaming nonsense?

Schoolhouse Rock for Sex Scandals

Jimmy Kimmel had a HILARIOUS piece on his show past night with a song to explain sex scandals (the pursuit of hap-PENIS) to our nation’s children:

Enjoy!

The Best Comebacks in History

This week to me seems to be all about Comebacks. Keith Olbermann just started his new version of Countdown on Current, Rebecca Black removed ‘Friday’ from Youtube (no worries – it’s been reposted elsewhere) and has a role in Katy Perry’s new video (Last Friday Night) with a huge all-star cast, and Anthony Weiner is in need of a major comeback (my prediction? He’ll be offered an MSNBC contract by the end of the year. Just look at some of his speeches in congress).

So, here are my favorite comebacks. Maybe Anthony Weiner can find some inspiration this way…

  • Conan O’Brien:Everyone is familar with the famous Tonight Show debacle of 2010. Conan was given the Tonight Show

    reigns by NBC, only to have them yanked away a few months later to give back to former host Jay Leno. Conan was depressed after losing his job, and battled his own demons with perfection as a preformer and failure as a host of an iconic comedy show. But he made it work for him – O’Brien came out of his dark place and became one of the most popular celebrity personalities on Twitter, got his new gig at TBS, and shot the the documentary about his tour after losing the Tonight Show which comes out this summer. His show at TBS has been very successful so far, with all of his famous pals on Team Coco stopping by for a chat and perchance a little bit of the string dance. Nicely played, Conan.

 

  • Richard NixonOne of the most controversial figures in US Politics, but you can’t argue that Nixon did experience quite

    the initial comeback. As a Republican Senator in both the House and the Senate during the 1950’s, he contributed to the controversial Alger Hiss case and earned the nickname “Tricky Dick”. As Vice President in Eisenhower’s Administration, he gained alot of support from the Republican Party with the “Checkers Speech” and took trips of goodwill with his wife. However, when he ran for President in 1960 against John F. Kennedy Jr., he came off in the Kennedy-Nixon Debates as looking sweaty, nervous, and tired under the hot lights and TV cameras. The enthusiasm around the young Kennedy automatically overshadowed Nixon – but only 8 years later he was able to become President of the United States – a comeback if there ever was one. (Of course, the story of what happened later? Not so great of a comeback.)

  • Christina Aguilera first broke out into the pop music scene on the 1990’s as an innocent star with songs like ‘Genie in a Bottle.’ Many felt that she was simply a Britney Spears imitation. and a passing phase. But with her next phase as an artist (the ‘Dirrty’ phase), Aguilera showed that she had some real edge with songs like ‘Dirrty‘, but also some real heart with songs like ‘Beautiful‘ – but she was able to shed that image in favor of the 40’s pin-up glamour put forward in her third album, withsongs like ‘Candyman‘. She was able to grow and shift with her audience and gain new fans with ever change that she made in her life – from pop star to legit artist. Today, Aguilera has starred in ‘Burlesque’ with Cher and  bounced back from a number of personal hardships to become the highest-paid judge on the NBC show “The Voice”, which has awesome ratings and a huge fanbase. Way to go, Xtina!

I doubt Anthony Weiner will find much inspiration in these, but I will add one more just in case he’s reading my blog (he’s not): Elliot Spitzer made his sex scandal work for him – he took time to be out of the spotlight and improve himself, and now he has his own show on CNN. Take the hint, Weiner: Don’t do anything for a bit and lie low.

FBI’s definition of rape older than Twinkies, the Empire State Building, and Betty Boop

The Empire State Building: completed in 1931.

Ms. Magazine has a great article on this, along with a link for how to take action.

My question is: What’s taking so long? It’s absolutely absurd that anal or oral sex isn’t in there; never mind statutory rape, rape with an object, or male rape.

Rape isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s a HUMANITY issue. Women AND men should feel free to walk down the street without being sexually violated, and know that the law and definition under the FBI protects them from that. Wake up, Robert Mueller. Let’s enter the 21st Century.

Geraldine Ferraro: A Tribute

In today’s 24/7 news cycle, it’s old news now that Geraldine Ferraro died on Saturday. Some remember who she is only marginally, as Walter Mondale’s Vice Presidential nominee/running mate. Some don’t even remember her at all. But I wanted to dig a little deeper – her leadership and determination has inspired me for years, and I feel like it would be a shame to let her passing go unnoted.

Ferraro grew up in Newburgh, NY until she was 10, when her family had to move to the Bronx due to financial issues. She became a school teacher because she felt she had to since “that’s what girls did”. Ferraro was a true victim of limited roles of leadership and opportunities for women – it was a struggle she felt personally, one that had a real meaning and a true history to her. Ferraro kept her maiden name publicly after she married to honor her mother’s commitment to her family; and her work as a Lawyer, in the NY District Attorney’s Office, and in the House alone makes her an impressive figure.

Ferraro’s 1988 Vice Presidential nomination was ground-breaking – she was the first woman to run on a major party national

ticket in the US. She shattered a major glass ceiling for future generations of women and girls, and for that I am forever grateful.

Ferraro continued to be a role model for women and girls in leadership – becoming a celebrated speaker and writer, running for US Senate Primary in New York in 1992 and 1998, being appointed by President Clinton as a member of the US delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1993, and co-founding the National Organization of Italian Women. Ferraro never gave up, never told herself that any one defeat was the end of her career.

Many point out her imperfections – her issues with finances in her family, her controversial comments about Obama in 2008 (which I saw her discuss at American University in 2008 – read coverage here). While I can’t say that I can entirely discount or excuse those things; I can recognize what an astonishing role model she is to women and girls in America and around the globe. No comments or financial statements can change that.

When Geraldine Ferraro died this past week, she left behind a legacy of women’s leadership and political savvy that will left the future generation of feminists with big shoes to fill. The dream of having a woman in the White House still hasn’t been realized, but thanks to Ferraro’s work, we’re 10 steps closer than we ever would have been.