Friday, December 18, 2009

Vintage Aprons

(See Blog below)

Thursday, December 17, 2009


WMG Bake Sale Puts the "D" in Delicious
Yield$ Moola For Cambodia Girl- Project!

"Your ability to resist that tempting cookie depends on how a big
a threat you perceive it

to be, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research."
(-from Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, U of C)

My December 13 Christmas concert in Evanston, IL was a full house.
Great music. Great community. People sang along, and we got 2 standing O's!
You can hear some of the songs at www.myspace,com/jamieoreillymusic

Folksinger Anne Hills, who shared the bill with me, brought her apron collection— 35 homemade, appliqu├ęd and embroidered beauties — found in thrift stores over the past few decades. The colorful, one-of-a-kind aprons, tied together, hung like the flags of nations – over the table of Women’s Media’s OLD WORLD BAKE SALE,
a vast array of handmade, exquisite sweets, (and even dinner rolls.)
It was something to behold.

(Many thanks to May Melvin, the bake sale coordinator. And Stuart Rosenberg and Jake Samuels at SPACE. Thanks to the people who baked for us.)

Maya, Cat and I were talking the other day about the significance of ‘THE HOLIDAYS’
in women’s lives – the cooking, baking, cleaning, sewing, decorating, (napping?), and caring for loved ones this time of year. Sure there is a pull when we consider the downside of our herstory - the drudgery of housework not shared, the serving with no time to yourself, the censoring of a woman’s intellect as she was relegated to the kitchen.

How have times changed…or how have times changed?

The kind of effort I saw Sunday celebrates women’s talents – and renews my appreciation of the decorative arts, and of women’s heritage. I reflect on the tradition of the family recipe – handed down – family to family, and the distinct way our various cultures celebrate the ‘season' with FOOD and decoration.

The image of our Christmas concert – the happy faces of the audience when they entered the room and saw the abundance – and the generosity of folks – stays with me today as I celebrate Christmastime with my daughters. For we the O’Reillys, there’s always the music – singing – our great family tradition, handed down from my grandmothers and aunts, along with the stollen, the herring and the gingerbread.

In the great tradition that is FEMINISM, at this time of year, we also raise awareness about the important work outspoken feminists, like Anne Elizabeth, do to empower young women here and abroad, and enable them to find their voices and create their own herstories.

FYI, WMG raised $300. for the Cambodia Girl Project –
Anne Elizabeth Moore’s Project I described in last week’s Blog.

As for the work of WMG, over the holiday break, and into January,
we’ll be listening to, and further editing, the programs we recorded this year,
as we shape our series for 2010. We may even post some YouTubes.
A shout out to Cat Jarboe, our editor.

Watch for us on Facebook.
And join in the conversation.
Comment on our BLOG!
We look forward to seeing many of you on JANUARY 18 2010,
when we screen Isa: the People’s Diva film at Facets in Chicago.

In the meantime, enjoy your holidays. Happy New Year.

Jamie O’Reilly & Maya Friedler
Women’s Media Group, Chicago

Friday, December 11, 2009


"It must be an art for the great mass of people." -Isa Kremer

Women's Media Group & Facets Multimedia Present
Isa: The People's Diva, chronicling the remarkable,
complex life & artistic legacy of a singular performer and activist

Facets Multimedia
Monday, January 18, 7:00 PM
1517 W. Fullerton, Chicago
$10. Donation
(PH) 773. 281-9075 ext 4 box office
Advance tickets online after Dec 15,
Women's Media Info (PH) 312. 458-0822
A Film Ffrom Women Make Movies

"Here was a person whose life in the 20th century encompassed and reflected some of the greatest
and worst moments, tragedies and triumphs of the human soul...
and yet she continued...
to be true to her beliefs and to continue to create art.
If this isn't a lesson about the power of the arts,
I don't know what is."
(-Babette Inglehart)

ISA KREMER's life was marked by a fierce talent, independent mind and firm determination.
Her passion was Yiddish music - birthed in the kitchens in Russia.
The language of the lullabies mothers sang to their children. Isa was the first woman to bring
Yiddish songs to the world concert stage, and an incredible singer in 24 languages.
The documentary chronicles her life through footage, photos, and interviews with those who knew her.
Isa: The People's Diva profiles her remarkable career through five decades of turbulent world history
in a remarkable number of cities including Belz, Odessa, Constantinople, Berlin and Paris

Don't miss this film, produced by Lois Barr and WMG's Maya Friedler.
Discussion Follows.

Military Mom: What About the Children

This Blog was submitted by Caroline Innes for WMG.
Tell us what YOU think about
the rights of mothers in the Military.

After working so hard to give women the opportunity to serve their country by being active
In the Military is it coming back to bite us? Consider the following story about the predicament
of a young military mom.

A 21 year old single mother has been separated from her 10 month old infant and confined to Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. Army cook, Specialist Alexis Hutchinson may face criminal charges after refusing to be deployed to Afghanistan when she couldn't arrange adequate care for her son. Hutchinson originally said her mother would look after the baby while she was away. However, after caring for the infant for two weeks his grandmother felt overwhelmed and said she was not up to the demands of full-time baby care for a year, the length of Hutchinson's deployment.

Angelique Hughes admits she initially agreed to take little Kamani while her daughter was away. But Hughes also cares for her mother and sister, both of whom are ailing as well as another daughter, of her own, with special needs. In addition to all this Hughes runs a daycare center out of her home in which she cares for 14 young children during the day. Hughes says she is at the breaking point and simply cannot take on anymore "This is an infant, and they require 24-hour care. It was very, very stressful, just too much for me to deal with."

Hughes returned Kamani to his mother, Specialist Hutchinson; of Oakland, California a few days before her Nov. 5th scheduled deployment. Hutchinson advised her superiors of the situation and requested a 30-day extension to make other arrangements for child care. Hutchinson said that her commanders originally agreed to the extension, but then something changed. Hutchinson's civilian attorney, Rai Sue Sussman, said that one of Hutchinson's superiors told her she would have to place the baby in foster care and deploy as scheduled.

Kevin Larson, a spokesman for Hunter Army Airfield, said he didn't know what Hutchinson was told by her commanders, but he said the Army would not deploy a single parent who had nobody to care for his or her child.

And yet, the baby did indeed spend time in Child Protective Services. According to Rai Sue Sussman, Hutchinson, with a friend by her side, turned herself in, "The Military Police arrested her and wouldn't let her friend take her child and so they took him away and put him in Child Protective Services" said Sussman Hutchinson is facing a number of charges including AWOL, missing movement, desertion, failing to have a family care plan and disobeying an officer. When Hutchinson's mother heard of this turn of events she immediately flew to Georgia to pick up her grandson and take him back to California with her, where he remains at this time.

Should the Army deploy her to Afghanistan to serve her year of service and then court martial her upon her return, where she could spend as much as a year in a military prison, Hutchinson could potentially not see her son again until he is almost three years old.

It is difficult to discern what the Military's childcare policy actually is. A cursory online review wielded a confusing array of answers.

As stated the Military allows new mothers four months before deploying them to active duty. That's a pretty limited policy and as we're seeing with this particular case points out the obvious shortcomings with respect to a lack of concern for the mothers and children for whom childcare options are limited or unavailable.

It begs the question...What about the children?

(Written by Caroline Innes)

Women's Media Group Old World Bake Sale Sunday, Dec 13

Happy Holidays from Women's Media

December 13, at SPACE - Proceeds go to the Cambodia Girl Project
(Anne Elizabeth Moore is featured on today's WMG Blog)
Bake sale takes place during
The Jamie O'Reilly & Anne Hills Christmas Show

1245 Chicago, Evanston
Sunday Dec. 13, 7 PM
Doors Open at 6:30 for the Bake Sale
Tickets (PH) 847.492.8860

Email for more info

Meet Our WMG Friends in the Blogesphere

Jamie O'Reilly here, WMG's Creative Director & Communications-Go-to-gal.
I'll be posting our updates and WMG News.

Meet Our Friends in the Blogesphere
Anne Elizabeth Moore was on our GLOBAL SISTERHOOD panel.
Anne - an unstoppable force of nature, is all-over the Blogesphere. Read Her:

In winter of 2007/2008, Culture Critic, Blogger and Artist
Anne Elizabeth Moore began a collaboration with 30 some young
women college students in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
She lived in their dorm, taught self-publishing, and initiated an
international dialogue about human rights and
young women in developing nations. The women created 'zines,
and wrote hand-bound books, rewriting the longstanding moral code of girl law,
now "New Girl Law." Anne returns in December to continue this
work during a time of tremendous need. She'll see a second dormitory opened,
(One of only 2 'safe havens' of this type, in a country of over 8 million!)

Meet Molly Bires. This young woman has a handle on what floats the
boat of emerging feminists, and writes about it - fast & furiously.
Hear Molly on some of our podcasts (
asking our guests the BIG questions. You go girl!

(Molly: We'll be chatting about her identifying with Janis Joplin)
Check Molly out:

AND read my Cultural Arts Blogs @


Monday, November 16, 2009

I would like to draw your attention to The Nations recent article in its November 9th, 2009 edition, “Remember the Women?” by Ann Jones, where in the headlines she makes the statement, "Women belong at the center of the debate over the Afghan war, not on the margins"

She also writes:

-That’s the part American officials seem unwilling to admit: that the mujahedeen warlords of the Karzai governments and the oppressive Taliban are brothers under the skin. From the point of view of women today, American’s friends and American’s enemies in Afghanistan are the same kind of guys

-The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan report attributes women’s worsening position in Afghan society to the violence the war engenders on two domestic fronts: the public stage and the home

-Threats against women in public life are intended to make them go home—to “unliberate” themselves through voluntary house arrest. But if public life is dangerous, so is life at home. Most Afghan women—87 percent, according to Unifem—are beaten on a regular basis

-As Obama tries to weigh options against our national security interests, his advisers can’t be bother with—as one US military officer put it to me—“the trivial fate of women”

* If you are still ambivalent about what Obama’s decision should be, please checkout the Ann Jones article*

Sunday, October 25, 2009

We have news!

Hello you loyal readers. I have some very exciting news:
Tomorrow night begins the WMG Film Series! This has been a long time coming, and this particular movie (Into The Fire, about the Spanish Civil War) is especially exciting because it features the beautiful voice of WMG's very own Jamie O'Reilly. And the event concludes with a talk-back with the film's director, Julia Newman.

Here's the rest of the information - make sure to get out to Facets tomorrow night!

"I went to Spain and I became a member of the human race.
I met some of the best people I ever knew." - Dorothy Parker

Women's Media Group, Chicago, in Collaboration with
Facets Multimedia, ALBA and CFLB Present
Into the Fire: American Women in the Spanish Civil War
October 26, 2009 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Facets Multimedia ,1517 W. Fullerton, Chicago
$10. Donation
PH (773) 281-9075 ext 4 box office Advance tickets online
Women's Media Info (312) 458-0822,
First Run Features; Produced and Directed by Julia Newman.
Julia will speak after the film.

Listen to Facets Film Critic Milos Sthelik Fridays on WORLDVIEW

In other exciting WMG news, the final podcast of the first season of is ready for your listening, and we'll even send you a CD of the shows. Here's all that good stuff:

The WMG podcast
GLOBAL SISTERHOOD, with June Sochen,
Peg Snyder, Jobi Petersen Cates and Anne Elizabeth Moore, is
now online.
It is the show best yet...Thanks to editors Cat Jarboe and Al Nowakowski.
Give it a listen. Tell US what
you think.

Get the shows on CD. Send us a note & we'll send you a CD:

As always, if you haven't gotten your feminist fix yet, don't forget to keep checking for updates on our website,

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Even though I'm now back at school, and haven't been doing nearly as much blogging these days, when I saw this article, I knew that there really would never be anything so important for our readers to see.

It's depressing, uplifting, inspiring, but more than anything, it's true and it's vital that these particularly credible, well-known journalists (husband and wife Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn) are saying it.  Honestly, "The Women's Crusade," which comes from the most recent issue of New York Times' Magazine, doesn't really need an introduction, so I'll just throw out there the only thing I can really say after reading it:

If you never read another thing posted on this blog, read this:

If it doesn't convince you that our work is important, that global sisterhood really IS the new feminism, then you're just not paying attention.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Ugly Truth (Is a Load of Crap)

Here’s the thing about being a feminist: sometimes, it really kills your buzz.

            Despite this fact, I’ve never questioned whether I am one; it’s not a soapbox I stand on, or a role I perform as a blogger, intern, or student; it’s a part of who I am. For me, feminism is a way of making sense of the world and questioning my role in it. It is an awareness equally accessible to women and men, a willingness to question fundamental cultural structures and recognizing how they shape the reality that we experience every day. There are other perspectives that fulfill this same function, but I was raised a feminist, by feminists, so this is often my critical angle.

            Now, time for a confession: I love (and I mean LOVE) romantic comedies. As someone who really loves the art of film and tries to be knowledgeable about it, there’s certainly no lack of shame in my admitting this.  But no matter how much I love Kubrick and Renoir, there’s nothing that comforts me like watching two people kiss and make up and live happily ever after.  

I’m not even talking about the great screwball comedies of the studio era, where ladies like Claudette Colbert, Rosalind Russell, and Katherine Hepburn showed up with moxie and smarts and wound up in the arms of Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart.  No, I’m talking about the trite, glossy, dime-a-dozen movies that perhaps were at their best in the late eighties and early nineties, and pander to the chickiest of chicks. I am a sucker for Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.

These movies are an excuse to go out at 10 PM with my sisters and my mom, eat a nauseating amount of Junior Mints and popcorn, and float away into another, prettier universe for an hour and a half.  But lately, something keeps dragging me back to the reality of the dingy movie theater even while I try to live vicariously through the glowing people on the screen.

I’ve seen a lot of movies this summer: (500) Days of Summer and Away We Go, two sweet and vaguely funky indie love stories, almost satisfied by need for romance. Both told modern stories about couples that I actually felt like I knew, and while gender roles weren’t necessarily turned on their heads, they weren’t set in stone either.

But these movies didn’t boast the superficial glow of The Proposal and The Ugly Truth, so of course I had to go see those too.  I can always watch Sandra Bullock, and Ryan Reynolds isn’t hard to look at either. Parts of the movie were kind of funny, and it was nothing if not cute (the key word when it comes to rom-coms, of course), but instead of leaving the theater feeling chipper, I was just frustrated.

Here’s a quick version of the film: Maggie (Bullock) is a high-powered executive at a book publishing company, which means she wears disturbingly tight suits and high heels, but has no friends, no sex, and gets called “the witch” by everyone in her office. She spends most of her time picking on her lowly assistant Andrew, played by Reynolds, but the tables turn when she suddenly needs him to marry her in order to avoid deportation.

The two wind up in his hometown in Alaska, where Andrew turns out to be (surprise, surprise!) heir to a massive fortune. He also finally gains control over his demanding boss, and when Maggie can no longer intimidate Andrew, she unravels.  Once she reveals that she is, in fact, vulnerable and lonely and cries all the time, Andrew starts falling in love. But it’s the final kiss that puts it all together: just as Maggie’s about to leave her job and return to Canada (having called off their sham wedding), Andrew shows up at the office, where everyone is cowering in their cubicles to hide from the witch.  He comes in and makes a dramatic scene in front of their co-workers, promptly reveals every embarrassing secret she shared with him to all those who had once feared her, liberates them from her reign of terror, and when she begins to protest his advances, he suddenly yells at her to “shut up.”  As he kisses her, a co-worker yells “You show her who’s boss, Andrew!”  Fade to black.

Why, Sandra? Why, Ryan? Why does it have to be like this? I mean, I am trying, really trying, to enjoy this movie.  I will gawk at your pretty clothes and flawlessly Botox-ed skin and impossibly chiseled abs, and never question how you could possibly look like that first thing in the morning… but why that story?  The story where the powerful working women can only gain power through fear, and can only find love after admitting that she was weak all along, and that her successful career was really just a sad substitute for a husband and kids? Why can he only love her when he’s the boss? Why can’t she have more money than him, more power than him?  If this had been a story about a high-powered man falling in love with his secretary, I doubt things would have played out the same way.

When I came out of the theater with my two younger sisters, one a college sophomore and the other an eighth grader, I made a point not to bring up these grievances right away, knowing that they had surely loved the movie and would be unsympathetic. Not wanting to be the stereotypical “angry feminist,” not wanting to scare away people who, while being just as strong-willed and feminist in their living as I, would never sacrifice the joy of a mind-number like this one, I cooed over Ryan Reynolds and recalled every pratfall.  And then, tentatively, I brought it up:

            “It kind of sucks that the movie had to have the same ‘working women can’t love’ storyline.  I mean, she couldn’t keep at least a little of her professional dignity and get the man?”  Immediately, both of my sisters rolled their eyes.  Why did I have to come in and kill all the fun with my intellectual babble? Couldn’t I just enjoy a damn movie?

            I wish I could, but how can I ignore what feels to me like a glaring, offensive use of a played out stereotype? The worst part is that this film isn’t simplifying women for the sake of men; it’s for other women. Rom-coms are all about escapism; they take place in the ideal, not the real. But apparently the idea of a woman having power and love at the same time is just one step too far in the direction of the ridiculous.

So, The Proposal was, as escape goes, a failure; try, try again.  So I saw The Ugly Truth. Abby (played by Katherine Heigl, a woman who’s teeth are so white that it’s impossible to see anything else on screen) is a producer of a network news show.  Once again, she’s the boss; once again, she’s wound too tight. She can’t get men because when she dates them, she prints out talking points, does background checks, and tells them how many of her “criteria” they fit (for marriage, of course – why else would she want to date?). 

            Luckily, Mike (Gerard Butler) comes along to tell her that if she doesn’t show off a little T&A, not to mention give more frequent blow jobs, she’s never going to get any man.  When she follows his advice, she miraculously gets two, including him!

            I’ll admit, I set myself up for this one; after all, the title graphic for the film includes a white bathroom-sign female with a heart in her head on the left, while on the right is a male sign with his heart on his crotch. So, perhaps the subtext of this film was not so… well… sub. 

            Once again, I tried to restrain myself, knowing what the reactions of my sisters would be.  But once again, I felt it was too important, too glaringly offensive to ignore.  This time, my sisters half-joked that perhaps I should stop coming to the movies with them at all.

            Here’s the real ugly truth: sometimes, being a feminist actually does make you angry. When you become aware of the subtle (and not so subtle) ways that the same old gender stereotypes are still perpetuated, when you realize that you, like millions of other women, paid money in support of your own oppression, it’s irritating. But only when I face the indifference of my own sisters, whose own aspirations can soar so high only because of the feminist movement, do I become angry.

My sisters, and millions of young women like them, have grown up believing that they could be anything that they want, that their gender would never be an obstacle. To them, analyzing something as trivial as a romantic comedy seems irrelevant, because they have the luxury of believing that sexism is a thing of the past. But, knowing my sisters, they will both become powerful women in the workplace. And unless these stereotypes change, they too will be called eventually be called “bitches” for using whatever power they’ve earned.

             It’s difficult to tell people that feminism still matters, especially when they’re just looking to be hypnotized by Katherine Heigl’s pearly whites. No one wants to evaluate their entertainment on moral grounds. But the roots of inequality spread far and deep, and once you recognize them, they’re hard to ignore.

Often, the oppression of women feels like a distant vision: women forced to wear burkas or raped during wars need the help of feminists; if a woman can make it into a high-paying job, she ought to be able to fend for herself. But these larger injustices are the products of a fundamentally sexist culture. It’s time we stopped trying to tune out the evidence all around us and started openly, honestly talking about what it means, and how to change it. 

Monday, July 27, 2009

Two funny posts in one day... oh my!

A friend passed this one along to me (thanks Chels) and it is too good (and too true) not to share. Here's one take on the world of advertising:


I can't believe I didn't think to post this right after I saw it, but for a funnier take on the French burqa ban, check out Kristen Schaal on the Daily Show:

Monday, July 20, 2009 IV - A title change and a press release!

Ah, what we've all been waiting for.  If you're interested in the specifics of the September 21st show, including how and where to attend, here it is.  Join us for what is sure to be an exciting night:


“Global issues are women’s issues, and the two are interwoven as threads in a fabric.” 
(Peg Snyder, 
SIGNS, 2003)

Maya Friedler and Jamie O’Reilly, Women’s Media Group, Chicago
In Collaboration with Human Rights Watch, Chicago
And UNIFEM, Chicago Present 
feminism today Radio Show

Recorded Live
Monday, September 21 7–10 PM
1245 Chicago Ave Evanston, IL 60202
(PH)  847. 492. 8860
Women’s Media Voicemail:  312. 458. 0822

With Guest Host June Sochen, PhD
Panelists: Peg Snyder, PhD, Author, Co-Founder UNIFEM
Jobi Petersen Cates, Director, Human Rights Watch, Chicago/Midwest
Anne Elizabeth Moore, Author, Media and Cultural Activist, SAIC

CHICAGO— In the fourth live program event of the pilot season of, a radio show, podcast online by Women’s Media Group, Chicago, discusses the role feminism plays in the global landscape. “Global Sisterhood: The New Feminism”, features celebrated feminist scholar and humanitarian Peg Snyder, and focuses on how American women over these 40 years, have worked with, and learned from, women across the globe.

GLOBAL SISTERHOOD, with historian June Sochen at the helm, looks at global activism as we hear from Snyder, Media Activist and Artist Anne Elizabeth Moore, and Jobi Peterson Cates, Director of Human Rights Watch, Chicago.

Panelists will report on the grassroots, cultural and economic programs they have been part of that empower women and girls. In an exchange with a live audience, they will address changing and expanding roles for women in the world, and the challenges that come with working for human rights. The devastating effects of violence experienced by women, as both citizens, and as refugees in this country, will be one of the primary focuses of the program. Documenting abuses, and the role of the media in that effort, will also be a topic for discussion. Producers Maya Friedler and Jamie O’Reilly facilitate the audience talk-back.  

The program begins at 7 PM.  A short musical program and reception follow the live taping.  
The SPACE venue is handicapped accessible. Parking is available in the city lot across the street. Reservations required. For information, please call  (312) 458.0822. OR Email:   

Out with the old (white dudes), in with the new

There's a lot of reasons why Frank Rich is awesome, but among them is the fact that he managed to find something of interest in mind-bogglingly boring and repetitive Sotomayor confirmation hearings:  

"The hearings were pure “Alice in Wonderland.” Reality was turned upside down. Southern senators who relate every question to race, ethnicity and gender just assumed that their unreconstructed obsessions are America’s and that the country would find them riveting. Instead the country yawned. The Sotomayor questioners also assumed a Hispanic woman, simply for being a Hispanic woman, could be portrayed as The Other and patronized like a greenhorn unfamiliar with How We Do Things Around Here. The senators seemed to have no idea they were describing themselves when they tried to caricature Sotomayor as an overemotional, biased ideologue."

Read the whole article here:
Just another reminder that the times, they are a changin', and WMG is excited to keep the ball rolling.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Iran's Second Sex"

Speaking of worldwide feminism (which, in case you haven't noticed, is the big topic on WMG's mind these days), Roger Cohen recently wrote a great op-ed for the New York Times about the role of women in Iran, and in this particular election (/revolution):

"Yes, it’s simple. From the outset, the regime targeted women, calculating that the patriarchal culture of the country would embrace the idea of an Islamic diktat that 'put women in their place.'

But then again nothing in Iran is simple. One benefit of the massive show of resistance to a stolen vote, and future, has been to awaken Americans to the civic vitality of Iranian society — a real country with real people rather than a bunch of zealous clerics posing a nuclear problem."

Cohen gracefully dissects the complexities of the war between tradition and modernity among Iranian women, and leaves us with some good old-fashioned ambiguity.  Read the full article here:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Big, scary, global questions. What are your thoughts?

Yesterday I had a meeting with Maya to work on her opening comments for the September 21st show, called "Global Sisterhood: Women Helping Women," which I thought would be a piece of cake.  After all, even for people who are skeptical about feminism and it's modern implications in this country (don't worry, we'll convince them otherwise), it's tough to argue that  some girlpower wouldn't do wonders around the globe.  After all, how do you defend practices like stoning women for committing adultery, or performing cliterodectomies?  As they say (okay, I actually heard this from Bill Maher, but I believe there was a more significant "they" before him), "Don't get so tolerant that you tolerate intolerance."

But ending these practices and mobilizing women toward their own liberation is not so simple as calling out the injustices and telling women to fight.  After all, when we put on our feminist hats, does that enable us to remove our American ones?  If we tell women that they want the right to choose, the right to dress and marry and divorce and bear children as they please, take whatever career they please, is that not perhaps just another way of imposing our "enlightened" American culture on a "third world" culture?

On the other hand, if we say that cliterodectomies are acceptable because they are a deeply engrained cultural and religious rite of passage which many women want to experience, are we not denying basic human rights?  Are we not condoning one of the most violent forms of female oppression possible?

These are extreme examples.  But how about this one: President Sarkozy of France recently announced that he would be backing the movement to outlaw burqas in his country, because they were a symbol of women's "enslavement" (read the full story here:  Personally, I agree with his analysis of the symbolism of the burqa.  But I cannot help but see his move as more strongly motivated by his anti-immigration, xenophobic attitude, rather than his passion for women's rights.  So do I fight for the religious rights of Muslims, or the symbolic freedom of women?

These are the kinds of questions that we must address when we discuss the meaning of global sisterhood.  Do we choose the liberation of women when it implies a disregard for cultural differences?  Can we promote the freedom (religious, social, political, emotional, reproductive, etc.) of women without disrespecting the fundamentals of their culture and religion?  Or does a fundamentally patriarchal and oppressive culture deserve disrespect? 

Okay, now my head is actually spinning.  Have any thoughts on these questions?  Please, comment!  Give me clarity!  Make my head spin more!  Or, if you have brand new questions swirling around in your mind, please send them my way so that perhaps our panelists can help to answer them.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Global Sisterhood

It's that time: time to start getting ready and excited for the next episode.  We're all feeling especially energetic about this next episode, and about the panelists that are coming together.  Plus, the taping itself is going to be our first major fundraiser.  Hopefully a little info about the title, and one of those remarkable panelists, will whet your appetite for all the good stuff to come:
The September 21 feminism today show "Global Sisterhood: Women Helping Women",
will focus on how American women, over the past 40 years, have responded to-and learned from- women across the globe. 
Panelists will include Margaret (Peg) Snyder, Feminist Author, and Founder of UNIFEM. 
Peg is a Board Member and Treasurer of The Green Belt Movement International,, as well as a Board Member and Vice President of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Market Women's Fund,  

More info will be here soon about our other panelists, and how you can get involved with the fundraiser.  In the meantime, be sure to check out the podcast of our third episode, now online:

Go see some art!

Want to see some awesome activist art?
WMG recommends that you check this out:
"Dismantling the Corporate State, and Other Amusements"
Works by Anne Elizabeth Moore
June 19 - August 22, 2009
Columbia College Chicago's Center for Book & Paper Arts,
1104 S. Wabash, 2nd floor, Chicago 
PH: 312. 369. 6630

Dismantling the Corporate State, and Other Amusements is an exhibition of nine experimental works
and activist projects of Anne Elizabeth Moore at Columbia College Chicago's Center for Book & Paper Arts. 
Included in the exhibit is 
New Girl Law, a letter-pressed, hand-bound book created in conjunction with 
the 32 young Cambodian women leaders in Phnom Penh.  The group collaborated a revision of the traditional text
known as Girl Law, which circumscribes proper roles for women in Cambodian culture. 
This version calls for basic human rights, gender equity, the eradication of corruption, and funding for cultural production. 

Also, it's Pride weekend!  I won't even bother trying to list all the great things happening around the city, but check out The Reader or any other local paper for events.

Last but not least: The third podcast is online!  Listen up:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Amber Waves of Blame (okay, it's really Katha Pollitt's title, not mine)

If you’re wondering why an intergenerational conversation about feminism is so difficult (and so necessary), you’re not alone.  We at Women’s Media Group have made the opening of the generational borders between women one of our main priorities, and in her amazing article for The Nation, Katha Pollitt reminds us why.  In her article “Amber Waves of Blame,” Pollitt explains that, “Media commentators love to reduce everything about women to catfights about sex, so it's not surprising that this belittling and historically inaccurate way of looking at the women's movement--angry prudes versus drunken sluts--has recently taken on new life, including among feminists.”  Check out the article in its entirety here:


Dear Readers,


Welcome to the Women’s Media Group blog!  Since WMG is all about figuring out what it means to be a feminist in the 21st century, it seems like 21st century tools are the only appropriate way to go about this, so here we are, on your computer screen.  I don’t know how you came to be reading about WMG, but I’m happy you’re here.


My name is Jenny Friedler, and I’m a rising senior at Colorado College, as well as WMG’s current blogger-in-residence (aka intern).  The two driving forces behind WMG are Maya Friedler and Jamie O’Reilly – if you want to know more about them and how they arrived at the creation of WMG, check out their bios on the website (  They’re both pretty amazing women.


If you’re reading this blog, you might already know what Women’s Media Group is.  Or, you might think you know… kind of.  Well, let me cut through some of the confusion.  Let’s start with the mission statement:


“Women's Media Group, Inc is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization created by Maya Friedler, and others, to encourage, promote and participate in the public dialogue of women's issues from a feminist perspective, via film, radio, recordings, and the Internet, as well as through live productions and forums.


Women's Media Group provides a platform for discussion and resources to community organizations, and individuals, who are exploring feminism via research, archiving history, writing, recording, and creating art. By hearing from, and collaborating with others, Women’s Media Group challenges gender inequality in areas of politics, public health, the law, and social mores, while acknowledging, identifying and contributing to the progress made in various areas.”


At the present moment, the primary project of WMG is the production of a radio show called  So far we have recorded three episodes: “The Post-Feminist Mystique: Bringing Back the F-Word,” “Sex: Let’s Get Real” and “Hanging by a Thread: Where’s The Safety Net?”  We plan to record our fourth and final episode of the pilot season on September 21st.  You can listen to any of these episodes here:  If you’d like to learn about how you can donate and participate, or how you can attend the next taping, that info is all on the website as well.


So what else do we do?  Well, that’s the best thing about WMG  - while we do have some major upcoming projects in the works, the dialogue about feminism that we aim to continue can take on any number of forms, and it will continue to evolve along with the rapidly changing modern media.  We have sown the seeds of a story project working with artists from all different fields to tell women’s stories in an innovative, exciting way.  The project began after Maya and Jamie tried to put a documentary together about what feminism means now, but realized that the subject was just too huge and too current to put off for the years it would take to make a film.  They wanted to start talking, and start listening, and so was born.  The experiences of the shows have allowed us, in turn, to refine the scope of this documentary, and its production remains a primary goal for WMG.


Ultimately, the goal of WMG is to re-engage citizens everywhere with feminist issues.  Of course, the word feminism is loaded with connotations, so let us be clear: we see feminism as the basic desire for equality, for the recognition that all genders are equally and fully human.  We also see feminism as an inclusive, not exclusive movement; this is a movement for anyone who believes that our world will be a more harmonious, vibrant place when women are an equal part of it. 


One of the most important aspects of the work that we at WMG aim to do is to help move feminism past the backlash of the 80s and 90s and into the 21st century.  The conversation about women’s issues today requires not only the recognition of how far we’ve come, but also the incorporation of new voices and new words in order to get where we’re going. 


How does this blog fit into all that?  It will be a way to stay updated on what WMG is doing in between episodes; I’ll keep you up to date on the stories we’re clipping from the news, the guests we’re booking for, important dates and events, and the general happenings around WMG.  If anything exciting pushes our buttons, this will be the place to hear about it.


So please, come join us.  Listen to the podcasts.  Read the blog.  Come to the live tapings.  Give us your thoughts.  We are all part of the same movement, and we want to hear from you.




Jenny Friedler and Women’s Media Group