Archive for January, 2009

The f word

No, not that one.  I was listening to some good, old-fashioned public radio this morning and the topic was feminism.  Or, more specifically, the guests were two women editors or writers from different Brittish “zines” (not sure I’m hip enough to use that word — probably would be able to better fake my hipness if I didn’t put the word in quotes) about women’s issues.  Not a fan of that phrase either, really, but nothing else is coming to mind.  I missed the beginning of the hour (as well as some of the middle and certainly the end), but the content seemed to be not-so-much Glamour or Cosmo-type stuff, but maybe a little more realistic.  And maybe a bit more, um, well, harsh?  Like, I think one of them was talking about how they had had an article on different types of rape.  Anyway, one zine was called The F Word and the other, I don’t know.  In any event, the topic of feminism was really the topic of the hour.  The women were saying that it is still an important movement and while great strides have been made, there is still more work to do, etc.  All fine.  Then the calls came in.  I heard only one, but it really irked me.  Maybe I’m too sensitive, or an ass, or just dumb, but the caller really raised my blood pressure.  First, she stated that she was 28 years old, considers herself a feminist and has been married for five years.  Ok, fine.  Then, though, she wanted to complain that when she got married, she didn’t change her name and while she thought this would be fine, it wasn’t smooth sailing because sometimes telemarketers called and called her by her husband’s name.  Outrageous, I know.  And then her second complaint was that she was a stay-at-home mom to her four-month old baby and she was treated differently now.  Holy cow.  How anti-feminist.

Ok, I’m sure I sound insecure or self-involved when I complain about this, but please bear with me.  Changing your name, or not changing your name, upon marriage is a personal decision that, in my opinion, is no reflection on a woman’s views on feminism.  I’ve never understood how sticking with the name you were given — most likely your father’s name — somehow gives a woman feminist cred, whereas choosing to change your name to your partner’s is antifeminist.  It also seems to me the controversy over this is a way to wedge a divide between women and pit them against each other.  Women (and men, for that matter) change their names for all sorts of reasons.  Some change to their husband’s name because they view it as simpler to have the new family to be under one name; some change because they simply like the new name better; some change because they want to shed the name of their father; some because they like the tradition; and some maybe because they like the symbolism it has in starting a new life.  Women also keep their names for a myriad of reasons.  Some because they feel they are already established professionally and don’t want to risk confusion; some because it’s simply a pain to change it and do all the paperwork that it entails; some because they don’t like the symbolsim of changing it; and some because they just like their own name.  None of these reasons strikes me as something that undermines or preserves feminism.  In fact, in this day, I think it is almost as common to change your name as to not.  So, to the 28-year old who was annoyed by the telemarketer, I say there are probably almost as many women who are annoyed by feeling they need to justify their name change to friends or family or strangers who view the change as weak.

As for her baby concern, I think my reaction to it is a little harder to ariculate.  Mostly, I guess, I felt I shuddered that this woman seemed to be playing something very close to the victim card.  I was comforted, though, by one of the editor’s reactions to it.  She pretty much said, “Well, I don’t know what to do about that.  You are a different person in some ways.”  The host of the show seemed to feel the caller’s pain, but the Brit certainly did not.  The thing is, I guess I just don’t feel sorry for stay-at-home moms feeling they are treated differently than before they had their child or children.  Not that I am suggesting that they be the vicitms of discrimination or  the like, but more that — well, you are different now.  I mean, being a childless woman, I certainly feel I am treated differently by people with kids than I am by those who do not.  And in most instances, I don’t really begrudge that.  Of course I don’t know what it’s like to have a child.  I think my friends with kids and I still have lots to talk about, but there is certainly something that we really differ in: one of us has little ones relying on us all the time and, I would think, that that makes the world a very different place.  On the other hand, I think my world can be larger in some ways — I don’t always have to think of someone else’s needs first.  I am free to do as I like, in most cases.  I don’t view either one, in and of itself, as superior to the other.  They are simply choices.  So when a woman decides to have children, and then decides to take herself out of the work force, of course it’s going to be different than if she hadn’t.  Your priorities change and that’s going to be obvious to those around you.  Women who work outside the home — with or without kids — are going to relate to you differently should you stay at home.  I am sure that women who stay at home also relate differently to those who work.  Neither is correct or feminist or antifeminist.  They are just choices.

I wish I had articulated these thoughts better, but there it is.



I don’t know how many readers have seen Benjamin Button, but I know there is at least one who colorfully dubbed it ‘craptastic.’

Now that it has garnered 13 nominations, that same loyal reader — our very own Kristin — has offered this additional thought: Benjamin Button makes Forrest Gump look like Citizen Kane.

For some reason, this has made me want to see it. It sounds so awful that I don’t know that I want to be left out of the joke. But three hours?

Our patchwork heritage

Ok, I should be working on my first state supreme court brief, which the administration wants to see a copy of by Friday, but I can’t let too much time pass without comment on yesterday’s events. I don’t know if I’m the first to break the news or not, but yesterday was the inauguration at which President-elect Obama became President Obama. Shoot. I should have told you to sit down before giving you that news. Well, take your time to recover from it and then join me in sharing your thoughts on the speech, the invocation, the benediction, Feinstein having the “distinct” pleasure of introducing everyone, CJ Roberts’ attempt to sabotage Obama, and whether that lemongrass color was gorgeous or not.

Since the speech, I have heard a lot of talk from talking heads more learned than I that the speech just wasn’t that great. With that in mind, I humbly — the theme of this new era, perhaps — disagree. I loved it! I will be the first to admit that I am simply charmed by this family and Obama reading aloud classified ads would probably woo me, but I simply thought the speech was great. I loved the imagery of the “icy currents” and the “clenched fist.” I loved that we know our patchwork heritage is a strength and not a weakness. While that idea is certainly not new, it seemed spoken with such confidence that it felt new. I very much liked his note that people will judge their leaders by what they build, not what they destroy. On the flip side, I was not enamored with the line about we will move forward with government programs that work and abandon those that don’t. Not that that isn’t a worthwhile notion, but it seemed a rather pedestrian idea. [Note: one of my colleagues thought the whole speech was ‘pedestrian’ by Obama standards. Admittedly, he set the bar rather high, but really — pedestrian?]

I just think the whole of it was inspiring.  It reminded me that we are an awesome country with awesome responsibilities.  It did what I think he set out to do: reassure us, remind us there is a lot of work to do, and fill us with hope. 

Final note: all I want to see are pictures of Michelle.  Why a camera would focus on anything else but Michelle (and sometimes Malia and Sasha), I have no idea.  This morning I was watching a little of the prayer service at the National Cathedral and the camera was pulling away from Michelle.  What?  Cameraman: fired!

Ok, final final note: this.

And I now need to look at more pictures of that lemongrass dress er, I mean, work on my brief. 

Globedy Globes

I thought the show was, on the whole, super fun.  I love how relaxed and silly everyone is at the Globes, and how they always get it done in pretty much their alloted time.  I also love how there are really no super boring awards or long speeches from people who shouldn’t be allowed to give speeches.  My favorite moments were these (in no particular order):

1.  Tracy Morgan saying “Lorney Mikes.”

2.  Tracy Morgan in general.

3.  Tina Fey and how she’s so damn funny.  I wish she would have told Christopher Hitchens to suck it.

4.  Kate Winslet winning twice even though I have yet to see either of her movies.

5.  Kate Winslet forgetting Angelina Jolie was nominated.  So awesome.

6.  Steven Speilberg giving a rather forgettable speech but not really caring because he’s Steven Speilberg and he brushed by me at Sundance and I will never forgive myself for missing him and I love him so.

My least favorite moment was this: All the shots of Drew Barrymore.  What the hell was that about?

Did anyone catch any of Bush’s final press conference this morning?  I found it rather interesting.  He seemed very, well, engaged.  I don’t know.  I wouldn’t say he was genuinely relaxed or waxing particularly sentimental, but there was something rather honest and unguarded about it.  My favorite part, though, was when he said that he didn’t think Obama would feel isolated in the office because he will be a 45 second commute away from a great wife and two little girls who adore him.  I thought that was sweet.  And true.

It’s Oscar season

Let me just put out there since the time that I mentioned that BoDeans song in my previous post, I hear it everywhere. I know it’s possible that my awareness of it is suddenly heightened, but I don’t see how that can be. I’ve been craving hearing the song for some time now and those cravings went unsatisfied. But just the other day I heard it pumping out of Anthropologie  as I was walking by, and I just heard it coming from the downstairs Milio’s when I went and got a soda. It’s like when you learn a new word and suddenly it’s the only word anyone ever uses.

Ok, that aside, let’s get started on this genuinely awesome movie season. Of what I consider note, I have seen Slumdog Millionaire, Doubt and Milk so far. If I had to pick best pic from these three, I surprise myself when I say I think I would go with Milk. I really enjoyed Slumdog (for the most part — what is it with Danny Boyle and toilet scenes?) and thought that it was an awesome tale and a great love story. It was pretty creative and neat-looking and the soundtrack accompanying the images was outstanding. The main character — I consider Jamal the Young Adult to be the main guy — was just terrific: all hero, all innocent, all lovely. And his acting was great — understated, patient and true. But, for whatever reason, the movie just hasn’t exactly stayed with me as I thought it would.

Then I saw Doubt. What an acting tour de force. Kent Williams, the main movie reviewer in the Isthmus, said that he thought the acting was a problem because the three main actors all had such different styles that it seemed they were in three different movies. With all due respect to Mr. Williams (whom I do respect a great deal), I totally disagree. I thought that Amy Adams, Meryl Streep and PSH all worked beautifully together to achieve a great piece of work. Additionally, I thought that the play was brought to the screen with love and care, but also in a very cinematic way. For example, when PSH gives his sermon on gossip, the movie shows us the unforgettable image of the feathers falling from the rooftop. This is an image that would not be feasibly rendered from the stage and it’s the very best things about film — you can do anything. Ultimately, though, I was disappointed in the ending. Not in the fact that Sister Aloysius got her way or that Sister James didn’t have to be there when Father Flynn gave his goodbyes, but in the very, very ending. I found it nearly incredible that Sister Aloysius — immediately upon telling Sister James that her lie had confirmed for her her own truth — would break down into tears expressing her doubts. I just didn’t buy it. And I don’t think it was necessary. While she was a cold woman with an unmalleable agenda, she was not a one-dimensional character that the audience needed to see some form of humanity in. That was amply demostrated, I thought, by her talk with Donald Miller’s mother. As she struggles to understand what Mrs. Miller is telling her, we can see in her eyes that while she doesn’t like it, she knows the world isn’t so black and white. I don’t know: for me, it just didn’t make a lot of sense.

Then I saw Milk. I forced myself to see it. I admit, I was not keen on it. Ever since Sean Penn did I Am Sam, I haven’t been very interested in him. But since it’s award season and I knew I’d be asked if I saw it and, if I hadn’t, I’d be inundated with the age-old, “You HAVE to”s that I decided to suck it up and sit down and watch. Oh dear. I LOVED it. I thought that Sean Penn was sheer genius. He was loving without being sappy, funny without being cheesy and charming with all the sincerity in the world. And I thought James Franco gave an outstanding performance — subtle and smiley. The scene in which he shoos out all of the campaign workers and insists that he and Harvey have dinner may have been my favorite scene this movie season (I know — still lots to see). It felt so emotional, compassionate and loving to me. It felt honest and not forced. Like the whole film, really. I also liked that Dan White’s motivations were not really explored, but just gently suggested (is he just struggling to make ends meet? is he in the closet? is he just a bigot? is he just lost?). Because we don’t know what his thinking really was, I think it best not to draft a theory and make the man’s actions fit that theory, but instead to lay it out for the audience: this is who he was to those around him; we don’t know why he did what he did; your guess is as good as mine.  And as far as a cinematic piece of film goes, I thought it lovely.  I loved looking at Penn’s and Franco’s faces close-up — seeing the lines from both stress and smiling — and the candlelight march is about as haunting and beautiful a scene as there can be.  I just really embrace this film.

Still to see: Frost/Nixon, Revolutionary Road, The Reader (I am not into WWII movies but feel compelled — please tell me if I needn’t be), The Wrestler, Gran Torino and Last Chance Harvey.  Am I forgetting anything?  Because Kristin declared Benjamin Button to be ‘crap-tastic,’ I think I am nixing that one from my list.  Can’t say I’m disappointed.  

January 2009

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