WBEZ | women http://www.wbez.org/tags/women Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Canada's Courts side with sex workers http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-12-23/canadas-courts-side-sex-workers-109430 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/prostitution-is-not-a-choice-2 logo.gif" alt="" /><p><p>Last week Canada&#39;s highest court struck down the country&rsquo;s anti-prostitution laws, siding with a group of sex workers who argued the ban made their work more dangerous. We&#39;ll take a look at the potential impact of the court&#39;s decision.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-canada-s-courts-side-with-sex-workers/embed" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-canada-s-courts-side-with-sex-workers.js" type="text/javascript" language="javascript"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-canada-s-courts-side-with-sex-workers" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Canada's courts side with sex workers" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 23 Dec 2013 10:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-12-23/canadas-courts-side-sex-workers-109430 Few studies explore the unique impacts of brain injuries on women http://www.wbez.org/sections/work/few-studies-explore-unique-impacts-brain-injuries-women-109257 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Women and Brain Injury.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-3032e98d-94e0-f421-1028-2a7d34e4089f">When we talk about brain injuries, we usually talk about men. The media&rsquo;s recent focus on this health issue has focused on male-dominated fields such as<a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sports/concussion-watch/concussion-watch-nfl-head-injuries-in-week-10/" target="_blank"> professional football </a>and the military.</p><p dir="ltr">Men are, in fact, far more likely to suffer brain injuries, but the numbers of women affected are nonetheless significant. <a href="http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-0-387-76908-0_4" target="_blank">Over 30 percent of brain-injury patients are women.</a> And little research has focused specifically on them &mdash; which could have big consequences for their recovery.</p><p dir="ltr">Betty Tobler wears her braids tied back in a low ponytail. She doesn&rsquo;t look like someone with a severe injury. But walking around her house, it is impossible not to notice the challenges she faces nearly every moment of her life.</p><p dir="ltr">The lights in her house are kept low, because bright lights give her headaches. There are wipe boards with dates scribbled on them in the kitchen and hallways. Thanksgiving is written in big letters, because she said, &ldquo;The holiday will come and go and I will never think about it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">She has a book filled with information she does not want to forget. Her towels and potholders are all still in their packages. &ldquo;If you notice how clean my stove is. I don&rsquo;t cook. Because I could forget, and that could be dangerous,&rdquo; Tobler said. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Tobler&rsquo;s troubles began 14 years ago, when she was working as a caregiver for adults with mental disabilities. One of the clients had behavior issues, lost his temper, and got violent.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;He was, first of all, 6&rsquo;8&rdquo; with size 13 shoes, 300 some pounds. I remember the punches on this side, which is my right side. And I remember hitting the floor and then something coming down like that, so that was his foot stomping the side of my head,&rdquo; Tobler said.</p><p dir="ltr">Tobler stopped working. She stopped driving. She had trouble remembering recent details, and big chunks of her past. She said she only knows her mother, who died years before her injury, through pictures.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;And to be honest with you I didn&rsquo;t even knew who my dad was. It&rsquo;s like he was just a figure. Nothing made sense during that time,&rdquo; Tobler said.</p><p dir="ltr">In the nearly decade and a half since, attention to brain injuries has increased and more research has been done. Unfortunately, very little of it has focused on women.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s essential to include women, because if we are only including men, or primarily including men, we are coming to incorrect or potentially incorrect conclusions about how to treat women and what certain patterns of behavior mean,&rdquo; said <a href="https://faculty.utah.edu/u0030255-JANIECE_L_POMPA/research/index.hml" target="_blank">Janiece Pompa, clinical professor at the University of Utah. </a></p><p dir="ltr">Experts say the lack of research is not intentional. Since more men have brain injuries, more of them are studied. But some research suggests there are gender differences that are important to understand in order to improve treatment.</p><p dir="ltr">One study, for example, showed the<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20469963" target="_blank"> big role hormones might play in recovery.</a>&nbsp;Other studies suggest <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23220341" target="_blank">women may experience more depression.</a> Another pointed to <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20469963" target="_blank">menstrual disturbances. </a></p><p dir="ltr">Pompa said a recent study focused on children who play soccer. &ldquo;It seems like girls actually have more severe head injuries than boys do. Which seems kinda disturbing, but valuable to know,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Pompa says a lot of the &nbsp;research is still in its early stages and a lot more is needed to draw good conclusions.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/BrainInjuryAssn" target="_blank">Philicia Deckard</a> works for the<a href="http://www.biail.org/" target="_blank"> Brain Injury Association of Illinois.</a>&nbsp;She says the difficulties facing women with brain injuries is not just about research, but also about who gets diagnosed.</p><p dir="ltr">She says our society has gotten better about screening professional athletes and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/04/us/04vets.html?ref=traumaticbraininjury&amp;gwh=164685F417EE4CFA677AF6A685CD7074" target="_blank">veterans,</a> but, &ldquo;We have to be mindful too of the segment of the population with domestic abuse. That&rsquo;s someone who could be undiagnosed. There are a lot more undiagnosed injuries than we know about.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Deckard&rsquo;s organization does outreach in shelters. She said even being shaken by a partner can bruise the brain. In a small survey of domestic violence survivors, <a href="http://www.biausa.org/tbims-abstracts/domestic-violence-related-mild-traumatic-brain-injuries-in-women" target="_blank">more than 60 percent reported signs of a brain injury.</a></p><p dir="ltr">Ginny Lazzara, a nurse who also works with the Brain Injury Association, said there is a reason brain injuries are called &ldquo;the invisible epidemic.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We have to understand that this goes way bigger than we would have ever imagined. There are so many people who have had brain injuries and been living with them and do not know that was why,&rdquo; said Lazzara.</p><p dir="ltr">Both Lazzara and Deckard say they are thankful for the attention professional athletes and veterans have brought to brain injuries. Now, they hope, the focus will expand. Betty Tobler hopes for that too.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I feel there is more focus toward brain injury because the men have contact sport, but there are women who play basketball, volleyball, or not even playing sports at all,&rdquo; said Tobler. &ldquo;You could be walking down the street the wrong way and hit your head. I feel there should be a lot of focus regarding brain injuries, period.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Tobler said maybe then, she and her injury won&rsquo;t be quite so invisible.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/returning-work-after-brain-injury-109237">Read our first story on brain injuries, about workplace issues.&nbsp;</a></p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Tue, 26 Nov 2013 08:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/work/few-studies-explore-unique-impacts-brain-injuries-women-109257 Marvel Comic's new female Muslim superhero http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/marvel-comics-new-female-muslim-superhero-109122 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marvel AP.jpg" style="height: 376px; width: 620px;" title="The image released by Marvel Comics shows character Kamala Khan, second left, with her family Aamir, father Yusuf, mother Disha and friend Bruno, from the &quot;Ms. Marvel&quot; issue. (Marvel Comics/AP)" /></div></div><p>Marvel Comics&#39; newest superhero is more than just a symbol of diversity and a deviation from the white, male norm that Spiderman, Wolverine, Captain America, and countless other comic book heroes occupy.</p><p><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/06/showbiz/ms-marvel-muslim-superhero/" target="_blank">Kamala Khan</a>, a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City, also looks and sounds like a real person, albeit with extraordinary powers.</p><p>In a universe where most female superheroes are impossibly stacked and Barbie doll-proportioned (to draw ogling male eyes) Khan is a refreshing change of pace. She is pretty, yes, but rock-hard body &quot;hotness&quot; is not what defines her. &nbsp;</p><p>Writer G. Willow Wilson, a convert to Islam, says Khan was created as a true-to-life person teenagers could relate to.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s for all the geek girls out there, and everybody else who&#39;s ever looked at life on the fringe,&quot; Wilson said in a statement.</p><p>Khan, who will make her debut in January, is radically different from most of Marvel&#39;s most popular female superheroes, but also appealingly meta for a fanbase already attached to legacy characters. While she lives with conservative Pakistani parents, she fits the mold of an angsty teenager and an outsider in school.</p><p>She also is an avid reader of Marvel comic books.&nbsp;</p><p>So when she discovers her superhuman power as a polymorph &mdash; being able to lengthen her arms and legs and change shape &mdash; she takes on the name Ms. Marvel, a title which previously belonged to the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Carol Danvers. Now, Khan&#39;s story will be the one to inspire a new generation of girls and boys.</p><p>Series editor Sana Amanat, who also worked on Ultimate Spiderman and Ultimate X-Men comic books for Marvel, told <a href="http://www.deccanchronicle.com/131110/news-current-affairs/article/pow-zap-marvel-comics-present-teenage-female-muslim-superhero" target="_blank">Reuters</a> that a reflection of the Muslim-American experience through the eyes of a teenage girl creates a font of endless possibilities.</p><p>&quot;We are always trying to upend expectations to an extent, but our point is to always reflect the world outside our window, and we are looking through a lot more windows right now,&quot; she said.&nbsp;</p><p>In fact, the idea for this new kind of superhero came from a conversation that Amanat had with her senior editor, Steve Wacker, about her own experiences growing up as a Muslim-American.</p><p>&quot;He was interested in the dilemma I faced as a young girl and the next day he came in and said, &#39;Wouldn&#39;t it be great to have a superhero that was for all the little girls that grew up just like you, and who are growing up just like you are today, and to create a character they can be inspired by?&#39;&quot; said Amanat.&nbsp;</p><p>Of course, girls have been inspired by female superheroes from the moment Wonder Woman first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in 1941. But more than 70 years later, the endless parade of unbelievably bodacious babes in skin-tight bodysuits has begun to wear thin.</p><p>Female comic book fans need more than a strong, independent woman with superpowers and a slamming body to stay interested. We need diversity, in every sense of the word: racially, culturally, intellectually, and physically.</p><p>In my opinion, this is in part why so many comic book films and TV shows helmed by female superheroes (Elektra, Catwoman, and the Wonder Woman series that never made it to air) have fallen flat in recent years. The average woman or adolsecent girl has to fall in love with these characters too. If all she sees is plastic, how can she relate?</p><p>I&#39;m excited to see all of the new stories that the creators of Kamala Khan will bring to life, but I also long for more.</p><p>When will we see a mainstream superhero who is gender-queer or transgender? Why do the female characters continue to be drawn to serve the male gaze, with their supermodel sexiness and perfectly-chiseled abs? Isn&#39;t it about time we had a full-bodied female superhero, or at the very least, more&nbsp;<a href="http://geektyrant.com/news/2013/4/3/fully-clothed-female-superheroes-geek-art.html" target="_blank">fully-clothed</a>&nbsp;ones?&nbsp;</p><p>Still, the good news is that times are changing, and Kamala Khan has punched a hole through the glass ceiling with a resounding smash.</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett.</a></em></p></p> Tue, 12 Nov 2013 10:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/marvel-comics-new-female-muslim-superhero-109122 Meet the women rocking Chicago's music scene http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/meet-women-rocking-chicagos-music-scene-109098 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1457592_10201231136837392_508211382_n.jpg" style="height: 513px; width: 620px;" title="Alex Fryer, co-founder of the cassette label Dumpster Tapes. (Photo courtesy of Alex Fryer)" /></div><p>Chicago has long been a bastion for local music, thanks in large part to the independent labels, record stores, and pop-up venues that have provided support to artists every step of the way.</p><p>But what may be surprising is the sheer number of women behind that scene. Many of the organizations powering the local industry today &mdash; including several record labels, stores, and other businesses &mdash; are female-owned and operated.</p><p>Melissa Oglesby is the outreach director of <a href="http://girlsrockchicago.org" target="_blank">Girls Rock! Chicago</a>, a music camp for girls ages 8 to 16 that aims to foster creative expression, self-esteem, and community awareness through rock music. She says that not only are girls in the program empowered to find their voices, but they also have the opportunity to gain inspiration from female volunteers and mentors.</p><p>&quot;It can be hard out there for girls,&quot; Oglesby adds, &quot;But at Girls Rock, the volunteers really support each other. The sense of community is great; you can always find someone here that you can relate to.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>Alex Fryer, co-founder of the casette label <a href="https://www.facebook.com/dumpstertapes" target="_blank">Dumpster Tapes</a> with Ed McMenamin,&nbsp;says Chicago is an ideal place for musical creativity and collaboration.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;The energy is the best here,&quot; she said. &quot;I&#39;ve been to shows in other cities, and it never feels quite as good as it does in Chicago. Most of all, I think that the music rules. It&#39;s one thing to support music just because it&#39;s local and it&#39;s your friends that are making it. It&#39;s definitely another to believe that the music is good and worth not only your time, but other people&#39;s as well.&quot;</p><p>Now, your guide to the local women that fuel this community, and why they love doing it:</p><p><strong style="font-size: 16px;">NAN WARSHAW, </strong><span style="font-size: 16px;">co-owner of Bloodshot Records</span></p><p><strong>Background:&nbsp;</strong>Warshaw co-founded <a href="https://www.bloodshotrecords.com" target="_blank">Bloodshot Records</a> in 1994, and went&nbsp;on&nbsp;to launch the careers of Ryan Adams,&nbsp;Neko&nbsp;Case, and Justin Townes Earle.&nbsp;Almost two decades and more than 200 releases later, she is&nbsp;excited to be working on new releases including Lydia Loveless, Luke Winslow-King, Barrence Whitfield, Robbie Fulks, Scott Biram, and JC Brooks &amp; The Uptown Sound.</p><p><strong>On Chicago&#39;s music scene: &quot;</strong>Bloodshot could not have developed and grown into what it is today anywhere other than in Chicago. We have active top-notch music writers covering the local scene and publishing in a variety of sources.&nbsp;We have&nbsp;more than a half dozen strong independent record stores &ndash; there are cities and towns today that have none. Plus, we have dozens of great live music venues&nbsp;showcasing&nbsp;cutting-edge music, and owned by people who are in it for the right reasons and who treat the artists well.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;To help our community grow and flourish, I share information to educate and support musicians. I sit on music business panels and guest lecture college classes. I donate my time and resources to Rock&nbsp;For&nbsp;Kids and The Chicago Music Commission. I firmly believe Chicago has the best music scene of any city in the world.&quot;</p><p><strong style="font-size: 16px;">KELLY NOTHING,&nbsp;</strong><span style="font-size: 16px;">of Animal Kingdom&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 16px;">&mdash;</span><span style="font-size: 16px;">&nbsp;a&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 16px;">Logan Square&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 16px;">DIY house&nbsp;</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Kelly%20Nothing.jpg" style="height: 236px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Animal Kingdom's 4th of July 'Summer Slammer.' (Matt Avignon/Animal Kingdom)" /></p><p><strong>Background:</strong>&nbsp;&quot;I graduated from North Park University with a degree in Business Economics, and I apply what I learned to successfully run this space. We host several shows a month and a few festivals a year. Our biggest show this year was the Summer Slammer on the 4th of July: about 20 bands played and attendance was just shy of 1,000 people.&quot;</p><p><strong>On the Chicago music scene:</strong> &quot;One of my favorite events is <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/338390302974282/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar" target="_blank">AK Night at the Owl</a>,&nbsp;which is on the first&nbsp;<span data-term="goog_990423586" tabindex="0">Wednesday</span>&nbsp;of every month. I DJ, spinning locals only, and premier my new monthly mix tape Tuff + Rumble. Active local bands and Chicago bands of years past will be included on the mix. [You can download it for free&nbsp;<a href="http://animalkingdom.bandcamp.com/" target="_blank">here</a>.] A cassette will be co-released with&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/parliamenttapes" target="_blank">Parliament Tapes</a>&nbsp;every two months that will be available for purchase from the bands and in the Owl&#39;s tape vending machine.&quot;</p><p>&quot;The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagoundergroundmusicarchive.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Underground Music Archive</a>&nbsp;is another project I help out with. It is a community effort to record local bands at DIY spaces around town and make them available online for free.&quot;</p><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>HEATHER WEST,</strong>&nbsp;owner of Western Publicity</span></p><p><strong>Background: &quot;</strong>I&#39;ve been in the business since I was 18, as a concert promoter, club talent buyer, record company manager, and publicist. I started my own <a href="http://I have a very large circle of women friends who work in music here in Chicago, I feel really blessed. We can vent, provide support, share resources from the community as well as nationally and share new bands with each other. I find myself connecting bands with journalists, agents, managers, club bookers without regard to whether they've hired me (as well as trying to find jobs for dedicated interns) and I know we all do the same. Its the sharing that helps keep things fresh and growing, not competition. The women I see around me understand this," target="_blank">music publicity company</a> in 2008, and I work with festivals, record labels, indie bands, and documentary projects.&quot;</p><p><strong>On the Chicago music scene:&nbsp;</strong>&quot;I love the generosity I see going on in the creative community. People truly look out for each other; there is no misfortune that will not cause other folks on the scene to throw a benefit, crowdsource, etc.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I have a very large circle of women friends who work in music here in Chicago; I feel really blessed. I find myself connecting bands with journalists, agents, managers, and club bookers without regard to whether they&#39;ve hired me (as well as trying to find jobs for dedicated interns), and I know we all do the same. It&#39;s the sharing that helps keep things fresh and growing, not competition. The women I see around me understand this.&quot;</p><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>MELANIE MCCLAIN,</strong>&nbsp;artist manager for The GTW and JODY</span></p><p><strong>Background:</strong> &quot;In addition to moving to Nashville, 2011 began a new chapter of my life as I began to manage the rapper turned electronic&nbsp;R&amp;B crooner, <a href="http://www.greaterthanwealth.com" target="_blank">The GTW</a>. In 2012, The GTW teamed up with the Chicago-based electronic production duo The Drum and vocalists Khalee Standberry-Lois and David Robertson to form the supergroup, JODY. I also manage JODY, and in less than a year, they performed at <a href="http://www.spin.com/articles/lollapalooza-2013-kendrick-lamar-the-postal-service-ellie-goulding-eric-church/" target="_blank">Lollapalooza </a>and Converse&#39;s&nbsp;FADER FORT at CMJ.&quot;</p><p><strong>On the Chicago music scene: &quot;</strong>I&nbsp;am motivated to support Chicago&#39;s music scene because it inspires me to think outside the box and&nbsp;defy stereotypes.&nbsp;Chicago is a city that doesn&#39;t&nbsp;stifle a creative&#39;s vision or limit them to local mentality.&nbsp;Whenever I travel,&nbsp;people&nbsp;have a hard time identifying the city that I&#39;m from, but the pieces come together when I confidently say, &quot;Chicago,&quot; because my&nbsp;hometown represents a Mecca for dance music, soul, experimental rock music, and&nbsp;unclassifiable&nbsp;genres. I&nbsp;think Kanye West is&nbsp;perfect example of the&nbsp;misunderstood creative&nbsp;genius that Chicago can easily incubate.&quot;</p><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>JENN GREEN, </strong>radio personality at RWD.FM</span></p><p><strong>Background: </strong>&quot;Every Wednesday, I host a prime time two-hour radio show called &quot;Greenhaus Radio&quot; which features the latest electronic, house, techno, footwork and hip-hop tracks. Before joining&nbsp;<a href="http://rwd.fm/" target="_blank">RWD.FM</a>,&nbsp;I hosted a radio show with Party 934 Radio based out of Joliet, IL that broadcasted online, as well as on 94.9 FM in Hudson Valley, NY.&quot;</p><p><strong>On the Chicago music scene:</strong>&nbsp;&quot;The music scene in Chicago is truly a melting pot! I know many artists and other talented individuals from all over the world, and everyone seems to have Chicago heavy on their radar. I&#39;ve been in Chicago for almost six years now, and the music culture keeps growing &mdash; from the huge electronic boom to hip-hop artists becoming household names overnight.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I love dance and electronic music. I&#39;m from the suburbs of Detroit, the birthplace of techno, and then I move to Chicago, the birth place of house music&mdash; how could I not indulge? I find myself frequenting Smart Bar, Primary Night Club, Neo, Elbo Room, Rodan&#39;s, Lincoln Hall, Berlin, and the Empty Bottle. Let&#39;s face it: if you are a Chicago music fan, then you are indeed dedicated, because these venues are all over town! If the music is of quality, then your feet will guide you there (with the help of Uber, but of course).&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/jessie.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Jesse Rose Crane of The Funs plays on Cassette Store Day at Bric-A-Brac Records. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Nothing)" /><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>KARISSA TALANIAN,&nbsp;</strong>owner of&nbsp;Eye Vybe Records &amp; Tapes</span></p><p><strong>Background: &quot;</strong>I run a <a href="http://eyevyberecords.bigcartel.com" target="_blank">label</a> that specializes in releases for local groups. I&#39;m up to about 20 releases and have done 45&#39;s, cassettes, cassingles, and even a flexi disc. I&#39;ve got an LP coming in early 2014. I also drum in a handful of bands &mdash; including Plastic Crimewave Syndicate, The Cut Worms, Purple Pain, Eeeagles, and the now-defunct Strychnine &mdash; and do my fair share of booking and promoting shows for bands and venues.&quot;</p><p><strong>On the Chicago music scene:&nbsp;</strong>&quot;The thing that strikes me about the Chicago music community &mdash; at least the more garage/psych/rock and roll community that I find myself to be a part of &mdash; is how many people are genuinely interested in helping the scene develop and grow. For every casual show-goer there is, there&#39;s another person at that and every other show, and then there&#39;s another who&#39;s behind it all: working to book, record, release, play themselves, and spread the word.&quot;</p><div>&quot;And I don&#39;t mean this to sound like it&#39;s an insular group of people only helping each other! The enthusiasm of so many of the characters in this community is amazing, and it&#39;s great watching it blossom.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong style="font-size: 16px;">VERONICA MURTAGH,</strong><span style="font-size: 16px;">&nbsp;founder and editor of the music blog Cream Team</span></div><div>&nbsp;</div><p><strong>Background: &quot;</strong>I started&nbsp;<a href="http://www.creamteam.tv/" target="_blank">Cream Team</a>&nbsp;in 2008 as a way to promote events and share music with friends, and it quickly became a destination and a local resource. It opened the doors for me to contribute short and long-form writing to a variety of other outlets.&quot;</p><div><strong>On the Chicago music scene: &quot;</strong>There&#39;s never a dull moment, or an off day. Chicago has a vibrant scene for whatever sound you might be into, with something going on every night of the week. It makes getting outside your comfort zone easy. You can go to a club one night, a rock show the next, an all-ages DIY space&nbsp;<span data-term="goog_990423596" tabindex="0">on Thursday,</span>&nbsp;and an after-hours loft&nbsp;<span data-term="goog_990423597" tabindex="0">on Friday</span>. It&#39;s all close by and ready to explore.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Chicago is a big city filled with big hearts. No matter what genre of music you&#39;re a fan of, the people are the same &mdash; genuine. From the artists to the promoters to the crowds, there&#39;s a feeling of being amongst kindred spirits.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><p><strong>AND LET&#39;S NOT FORGET:</strong></p><ul><li>Christen Carter, owner of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.busybeaver.net" target="_blank">Busy Beaver Button Co.</a></li><li>Bettina Richards, owner of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thrilljockey.com/splash.html" target="_blank">Thrill Jockey Records</a>.</li><li>Katie Tuten, co-owner of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hideoutchicago.com" target="_blank">The Hideout</a>&nbsp;with husband Tim.</li><li>Alisa Baum, director of concert production at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.oldtownschool.org" target="_blank">Old Town School&nbsp;of Folk Music</a>.</li><li>Shawn Campbell, founder of&nbsp;<a href="http://chirpradio.org" target="_blank">ChIRP&nbsp;radio</a>.</li><li>Maria Mowbray, executive director of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.rockforkids.org" target="_blank">Rock For Kids</a>.</li><li>Jen Lemasters, co-owner of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/bricabracrecords" target="_blank">Bric-A-Brac Records</a>&nbsp;with husband Nick.&nbsp;</li><li>Becca James, editor in chief of the music webzine&nbsp;<a href="http://popstache.com" target="_blank">Pop&#39;Stache</a>.</li><li>Jordan Young and Serena Fragassi, co-founders of&nbsp;<a href="http://boxxmagazine.com" target="_blank">Boxx Magazine</a>.</li><li>Lisa Roe, co-owner of the&nbsp;<a href="http://troubleinmindrecs.com/">Trouble in Mind</a>&nbsp;record label with husband Bill.&nbsp;</li><li>Mia Park, host of the kids&#39; dance and music show&nbsp;<a href="http://miapark.com/acting_chicagogo.php" target="_blank">Chic-a-Go-Go</a>.</li><li>Alex White, DIY trailblazer and one-half of the Chicago band&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-06/white-mystery-diy-music-heroes-107816" target="_blank">White Mystery</a>.</li></ul></div><div><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.&nbsp;</em></div></p> Thu, 07 Nov 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/meet-women-rocking-chicagos-music-scene-109098 15 female TV writers you should know http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/15-female-tv-writers-you-should-know-109073 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" jordin="" of="" showtime="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jordin%20Althaus%3AShowtime.jpg" states="" the="" title="Diablo Cody on the set of her Showtime series &quot;The United States of Tara.&quot; (Jordin Althaus/Showtime)" united="" /></div><p>Headlines about women in television can be confusing and contradictory. Some say progress for female TV writers is moving at <a href="http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/wga-releases-annual-writing-report-and-women-make-small-progress" target="_blank">a snail&#39;s pace</a>, while others&nbsp;say 2013 is a great year to be a woman breaking into Hollywood&#39;s &quot;cigar-chomping&quot; <a href="http://www.glamour.com/entertainment/2013/08/meet-the-women-who-run-your-favorite-movies-and-tv-shows#slide=1" target="_blank">boy&#39;s club</a>.</p><p>My take? We&#39;ve come a long way since Irma Kalish of &quot;All in the Family&quot; and Susan Harris of &quot;The Golden Girls&quot; first paved the road for women to be taken seriously as TV writers and showrunners, but we still have a long way to go.</p><p>The Hollywood Reporter&nbsp;just announced their&nbsp;annual list of Top 50 Showrunners, and only <a href="http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/the-hollywood-reporter-announced-the-top-50-showrunners" target="_blank">10 women</a> (many of them working in teams with men) made the cut.</p><p>Still, just a brief glance at the progress that&#39;s been made &ndash; from Chicago native Agnes Nixon creating the TV <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnes_Nixon" target="_blank">soap opera</a>&nbsp;in 1968, to Tina Fey becoming the first female head writer at &quot;Saturday Night Live&quot; in 1999, to Lena Dunham inspiring a million <a href="http://splitsider.com/2012/04/24-thinkpieces-about-girls/" target="_blank">Internet think pieces</a> with each zeitgeist-y episode of &quot;Girls&quot; &ndash; is enough to see that times are slowly but surely changing for the better.</p><p>And despite numerous sexist roadblocks that still need to be torn down (shows like &quot;Californication,&quot; and &quot;Veep&quot; <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2013/03/28/1787671/from-californication-to-veep-the-tv-shows-that-hired-no-women-or-writers-of-color-in-2011-2012/" target="_blank">did not employ a single female writer </a>during their 2011-2012 seasons), plenty of women in television are making waves by taking charge.&nbsp;</p><p>In no particular order, here are 15 groundbreaking female TV writers you should know:&nbsp;</p><p><strong>1. Jenji Kohan</strong></p><p>Kohan started out writing for shows like &quot;Will and Grace,&quot; &quot;Gilmore Girls,&quot; and &quot;Sex and the City;&quot; and in 1997, won an Emmy Award as supervising producer of the HBO sketch comedy series &quot;Tracey Takes On...&quot; In 2005, Kohan become the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of the dark comedy &quot;Weeds,&quot; starring Mary Louise Parker, which ran for eight seasons on Showtime. Today, Kohan is the co-creator and executive producer of the Netflix prison dramedy &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenji_Kohan" target="_blank">Orange is the New Black</a>,&quot; which is gearing up for a highly-anticipated Season 2.</p><p><strong>2. Elizabeth Meriwether</strong></p><p>Meriwether is a Yale University graduate who got her start as a playwright before transitioning to film and TV. She got her big break writing the screenplay for the 2011 film &quot;No Strings Attached,&quot;landing her a spot in &quot;<a href="http://www.interviewmagazine.com/culture/liz-meriwether" target="_blank">The Fempire</a>&quot;&nbsp;next to fellow female screenwriters Dana Fox and Lorene Scafaria. Meriwether went on to write for the Adult Swim series &quot;Children&#39;s Hospital&quot; and is now the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of &quot;New Girl&quot; on Fox.</p><p><strong>3. Michelle Ashford</strong></p><p>Ashford has a long list of writing credits to her name, including two Emmy-winning television miniseries: 2008&#39;s &quot;John Adams&quot; and 2010&#39;s &quot;The Pacific.&quot; However, Ashford&#39;s most prominent role to date is as creator and showrunner of the new Showtime drama &quot;Masters of Sex,&quot; which premiered in September to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masters_of_Sex" target="_blank">widespread critical acclaim</a> and has already been renewed for a second season in 2014.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>4. Amy Sherman-Palladino</strong></p><p>Sherman-Palladino is best known for creating the whip-smart and heartwarming series &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilmore_Girls" target="_blank">Gilmore Girls</a>,&quot; which debuted on The WB in 2000 and became a tentpole for the network. The show that would make huge stars of Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham, and Melissa McCarthy later moved to WB&#39;s successor network The CW, where it ended after seven seasons in 2007. Sherman-Palladino went on to create the ballet dramedy &quot;Bunheads&quot; for ABC Family in 2012; but much to fans&#39; disappointment, the series was not renewed for a second season.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>5. Nahnatcha Khan</strong></p><p>Khan has written and produced a slew of creative shows, from the Saturday morning cartoon series &quot;Pepper Ann&quot; to the Seth MacFarlane vehicle &quot;American Dad!&quot; In 2012, Khan created her own ABC sitcom called &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Trust_the_B----_in_Apartment_23" target="_blank">Don&#39;t Trust the B---- in Apartment 3</a>,&quot; which, despite its questionable title, turned out to be a shining example of truly great yet underrated comedic television. Unfortunately, not enough viewers tuned in to watch James Van Der Beek play a hilarious washed-up version of himsef, and the show was cancelled after two seasons in January.</p><p><strong>6. Shonda Rhimes</strong></p><p>Rhimes is a Chicago native and graduate of Dartmouth College. She also is the creator, head writer, and executive producer of the long-running ABC medical drama &quot;Grey&#39;s Anatomy&quot; and its shorter-lived spinoff &quot;Private Practice,&quot; as well as creator and showrunner of the current ABC smash hit &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandal_(TV_series)" target="_blank">Scandal</a>.&quot; To date, Rhimes is the first African-American &ndash; man or woman &ndash; to create and produce a top-rated, one-hour series that has run for more than one season. &quot;Grey&#39;s Anatomy&quot; is now in Season 10.</p><p><strong>7. Julie Plec</strong></p><p>Plec graduated from Northwestern University in 1994, and went on to write scripts for Wes Craven&#39;s (&quot;Scream&quot; and &quot;Cursed&quot;) and the ABC Family sci-fi series &quot;Kyle XY.&quot; Plec hit the television big leagues in 2009, when she co-created <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vampire_Diaries" target="_blank">&quot;The Vampire Diaries&quot;</a> with Kevin Williamson for The CW. The supernatural teen drama has become a domestic and international juggernaut, prompting Plec to create a spinoff called &quot;The Originals&quot; in 2013. Plec also co-created a third series for the CW this year: &quot;The Tomorrow People,&quot;&nbsp;based on the popular British science fiction TV series of the same name.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>8. Liz Sarnoff</strong></p><p>Sarnoff got her start writing episodes of &quot;NYPD Blue&quot; and &quot;Crossing Jordan&quot; before joining the crew of &quot;Deadwood&quot; in 2004 as an executive story editor and writer for Season 1. The following year, Sarnoff joined the writing team of &quot;Lost&quot; in the series&#39; second season, and won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Dramatic Series for her work. She was promoted to co-executive producer of &quot;Lost&quot; for Season 5, and executive producer in the show&#39;s sixth and final season. In 2011, Sarnoff co-created the Fox series &quot;Alcatraz,&quot; an ambitious <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcatraz_(TV_series)" target="_blank">J.J. Abrams-produced prison series</a> that lasted 13 episodes.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>9. Jane Espenson</strong></p><p>Espenson had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on &quot;Buffy the Vampire Slayer,&quot; followed by work on the sci-fi cult classic &quot;Battlestar Galactica&quot; and its prequel spinoff &quot;Caprica.&quot; In 2010, she wrote an episode of HBO&#39;s &quot;Game of Thrones&quot; and joined the writing staff for Season 4 of the British television program &quot;Torchwood.&quot; Espenson also has written episodes for Joss Whedon&#39;s &quot;Firefly,&quot; &quot;Angel,&quot; &quot;Tru Calling,&quot; and the ABC fairy tale series &quot;Once Upon a Time.&quot; Currently, Espenson is the co-creator, writer, and producer of a sitcom web series called &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Husbands_(sitcom)" target="_blank">Husbands</a>,&quot; now in Season 3 on The CW Seed.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>10. Mindy Kaling</strong></p><p>Kaling first joined NBC&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Office_(U.S._TV_series)" target="_blank">The Office</a>&quot; as a writer at the age of 24, and as the only woman on a team of eight. She later took on the role of Kelly Kapoor, while still writing and directing episodes. In 2010, she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series with Greg Daniels for the episode &quot;Niagara.&quot; After &quot;The Office&quot; came to end earlier this year, Kaling became the first South Asian-American woman to create, write, and star in her own network television show: &quot;The Mindy Project,&quot; now in Season 2. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>11. Ann Biderman</strong></p><p>Biderman won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Drama Series for an episode of the police procedural &quot;NYPD Blue,&quot; and went on to become the creator and executive producer of the &nbsp;NBC/TNT series &quot;Southland.&quot; Now, Biderman is the creator and showrunner of &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Donovan_(TV_series)" target="_blank">Ray Donovan</a>,&quot; a powerful crime drama on Showtime starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight. A second season of &quot;Ray Donovan&quot; will air in 2014.</p><p><strong>12. Emily Kapneck</strong></p><p>Kapneck created the popular animated program &quot;As Told by Ginger,&quot; which ran on Nickelodeon from 2000-2009. She also has served as a consulting producer on NBC&#39;s &quot;Parks and Recreation&quot; and is currently the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of the ABC sitcom &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suburgatory" target="_blank">Suburgatory</a>.&quot;</p><p><strong>13. Kay Cannon</strong></p><p>Cannon received her B.A. in Theatre from Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill. and trained in improvisation at both The Second City and The I.O. Theater ( formerly ImprovOlympic) in Chicago. She went on to write for the NBC series &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kay_Cannon" target="_blank">30 Rock</a>,&quot; winning three Writer&#39;s Guild of America Awards and later a Peabody Award in 2008 for her work on the show. Cannon also wrote the screenplay for the 2012 sleeper hit film &quot;Pitch Perfect.&quot;</p><p><strong>14. Issa Rae</strong></p><p>Rae is the creator of the YouTube comedy series &quot;<a href="http://www.issarae.com" target="_blank">The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl</a>,&quot; in addition to the vlog series &quot;Ratchetplace Theatre&quot; and a collaboration with Black&amp;Sexy TV called &quot;RoomieLoverFriends.&quot; A new comedy series for HBO, co-written with Larry Wilmore and starring Rae, is currently in development.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>15. Diablo Cody</strong></p><p>Cody may be best known for writing the 2007 indie film &quot;Juno,&quot; but the Chicago native also has found a great deal of success in television. She created &quot;The United States of Tara&quot; in 2009, an Emmy-Award winning drama starring Toni Collette that ran for three seasons on Showtime. Cody also has recently been tapped to create a new &quot;<a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/diablo-cody-and-josh-schwartz-are-developing-a-new,103923/" target="_blank">smart, sassy teen girl drama</a>&quot; for Fox, alongside &quot;The O.C.&quot; producers Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz.</p><p>To end this list: an adorable video of Amy Poehler interviewing her TV idol, pioneering comedy writer Irma Kalish:</p><p style="margin-left:.25in;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5seuoKvXvSc" width="560"></iframe></p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 05 Nov 2013 09:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/15-female-tv-writers-you-should-know-109073 Short hair, don't care: the unnecessary value placed on women's locks http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-08/short-hair-dont-care-unnecessary-value-placed-womens-locks-108344 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Instagram.jpg" title="Beyonce debuts her new hairstyle on Instagram. (Instagram)" /></p><p>Shortly after finishing the first American leg of her Mrs. Carter World Tour at Barclays Center in Brooklyn late Wednesday night, Beyoncé took to Instagram to post three pictures of her new <a href="http://www.today.com/entertainment/beyonce-chops-her-hair-reveals-new-pixie-cut-instagram-6C10874595" target="_blank">blonde pixie cut</a>.</p><p>Subsequent fan reaction, particularly on <a href="http://hollywoodlife.com/2013/08/08/beyonce-new-hair-tweets-short-haircut-reactions/" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, was swift and divisive. News outlets from&nbsp;<a href="http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/08/08/pixie-dream-girls-beyonce-joins-the-short-hair-club/" target="_blank">Time</a>&nbsp;to <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2013/08/08/beyonce-haircut-twitter/2633197/" target="_blank">USA Today </a>ran stories describing Beyoncé&#39;s new &#39;do as &quot;shocking&quot; and &quot;dramatic,&quot; as if the simple act of a woman changing her hairstyle was really so unbelievably groundbreaking that it deserved national attention. Seriously, why all of the hullabaloo? It&#39;s just hair.</p><p>Beyoncé probably abandoned her signature long, flowing tresses (<em>not</em> a <a href="http://www.justjared.com/2013/08/08/beyonce-didnt-wear-a-weave-stylist-talks-haircut/" target="_blank">weave</a>, according to her stylist) as a direct result of her hair getting<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/watch-beyonce-hair-stuck-fan-concert-article-1.1406468" target="_blank"> caught in a fan</a> during a Mrs. Carter show in Montreal just a few weeks ago. Still, why do people care so much about whether Beyoncé&#39;s hair is long or short, real or fake? And why is the societal judgment of a woman&#39;s beauty so often dependent on the length of her locks?</p><p>In 2009, Chris Rock made a brilliant documentary about this very subject.&nbsp;<em>Good Hair&nbsp;</em>delved deep into the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Hair_(film)" target="_blank">$9 billion</a> black hair industry, and examined why so many&nbsp;African American women are raised believing that the quality of their hair is inextricably tied to their self-worth.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Miley.jpg" style="float: left; " title="In May, Miley Cyrus unveiled a surprising new 'do via Twitter. (Twitter)" /></p><p>Of course, the desire for luxuriant hair is not an issue isolated to black women, nor to women of any one particular race or ethnic background. In fact, the notion of long hair as the ideal &quot;feminine&quot; standard of beauty extends all the way back to evolution and the process of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_selection" target="_blank">natural selection</a> among species, as thick and healthy hair or fur is frequently a sign of youth and fertility.</p><p>So, an inherent biological desire for males to spread their seed may &nbsp;be the ultimate reason why men typically prefer their female partners with long hair as opposed to short. This natural proclivity could also be attributed to the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisherian_runaway" target="_blank">Fisherian runaway </a>theory of sexual selection, i.e. long lustrous hair indicates a healthy, fertile person with an active sex drive. &nbsp;</p><p>Obviously, the world does not lack for gorgeous, short-haired women who also happen to have very healthy bodies and sex lives, thank you very much. And yet, I have learned through my own experiences and general cultural observations that there is a marked difference between &quot;guy pretty&quot; and &quot;girl pretty.&quot;</p><p>For example, I&#39;ve noticed that&nbsp;<a href="http://jezebel.com/5857858/in-defense-of-the-short+haired-woman" target="_blank">women</a>&nbsp;are more likely&nbsp;to perceive another woman with an Audrey Hepburn-style pixie as beautiful and chic, while men are traditionally more attracted to the long, windswept hair of say, a Victoria Secret model.</p><p>Certainly, not <em>all&nbsp;</em>men feel this way. In fact, many men actually prefer the super-short look popularized by starlets like Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams, successfully bucking the status quo. But for every man or woman gushing over Emma Watson&#39;s pixie &#39;do, there&#39;s a thousand more calling Miley Cyrus a boy or a <a href="http://metro.co.uk/2013/07/18/miley-cyrus-im-happy-to-be-called-a-lesbian-3888648/">lesbian</a>&nbsp;just because she made the totally radical decision to cut her hair short.</p><p>I&#39;ve always had long hair; and until recently, I had never purposefully examined the reason why. All I knew was that I had a &quot;fear&quot; of stylists cutting my hair too short, and that I&#39;ve always preferred the way that I look with long hair flowing about my shoulders. But was this fear born of my own personal predilections, or rather as a result of subconsciously-driven, deeply ingrained societal messages that longer hair is prettier, sexier, more feminine and more socially acceptable than shorter styles?&nbsp;</p><p>In a world where short hair on women is usually perceived as either &quot;edgy&quot; or <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/fashion/24Mirror.html?pagewanted=all&amp;loadDynamically=false&amp;commentsPosition=right&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">showing one&#39;s age</a>, and long hair still reigns as the ultimate feminine standard of youth and beauty, the choice to step outside the norm is not always an easy one to make. But regardless of how I or any woman might choose to present a personal style, I sincerely hope that those people with differing opinions of how woman <em>should</em> look would kindly leave their judgment at the door.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer and co-host of WBEZ&#39;s <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774" target="_blank">Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. You can also follow Leah on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett">Facebook</a>&nbsp;and <a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 09 Aug 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-08/short-hair-dont-care-unnecessary-value-placed-womens-locks-108344 11 inspiring Chicago women you should know http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-08/11-inspiring-chicago-women-you-should-know-108293 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/%28WBEZ%3ABill%20Healy%29.jpg" title="Leonetta Sanders, principal of W.R. Harper High School in Englewood. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></p><p>A recurring theme in my work as a feminist writer has been the search for positive female role models and mentors. What qualities do they possess? How does one seek them out? And, in a world where high-profile women are consistently <a href="http://jezebel.com/if-comedy-has-no-lady-problem-why-am-i-getting-so-many-511214385">threatened</a> and <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2013/08/04/technology/twitter-abuse-report/index.html">attacked</a> on the basis of their femininity, where can the next generation of female leaders look to find reassurance, solidarity, and above all, hope?</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Thankfully, Chicago is filled to the brim with strong, innovative and endlessly compassionate women who have dedicated their lives to helping others and shattering the glass ceiling one crack at a time. But while some are prominently featured in the news, (like Illinois Attorney General&nbsp;<a href="http://illinoisattorneygeneral.gov" target="_blank">Lisa Madigan</a>, Chicago Teacher&#39;s Union President <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Lewis_(labor_leader)" target="_blank">Karen Lewis</a> and philanthropist <a href="http://www.annlurie.com" target="_blank">Ann Lurie</a>)&nbsp;many others remain virtually anonymous to the public, despite being regarded as heroes in their own communities.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">So, in no particular order, here is my short-list of 11 admirable women making a difference in the Chicagoland area and beyond:</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; ">1.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/blog/2013/03/ira-glass-alex-kotlowitz-leonetta-sanders-on-msnbc" target="_blank">Leonetta C. Sanders</a>,&nbsp;principal, Harper High School</strong></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div>This spring, Sanders was featured in a special two-part episode of <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/488/harper-high-school-part-two" target="_blank">This American Life</a>&nbsp;that focused on the epidemic of violence surrounding Englewood&#39;s Harper High School, where last year alone, 29 present and former students were shot. The broadcast shone a spotlight on Sanders&#39; impassioned efforts as principal to hold the school together, keep her students safe and inspire them to acheive their full potential.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; "><strong>2.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.timberlineknolls.com/information/about/staff/medical-director-kim-dennis" target="_blank">Dr. Kimberly Dennis</a>, chief executive officer&nbsp;and medical director, Timberline Knolls</strong></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/-PZ2Q89iYds" width="560"></iframe></span></p><p>Dr. Dennis is a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorder treatment, addictions recovery, trauma/PTSD and co-occurring disorders.&nbsp;As CEO and medical director at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.timberlineknolls.com/information/about" target="_blank">Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center</a> in Lemont, Il., Dennis supervises the medical staff and sets the overall vision and direction of the program. Her holistic approach to psychiatry, in addition to her unique expertise in treating individuals with dual diagnoses, has made Timberline Knolls one of the nation&#39;s leading treatment centers for adult women and adolescent girls seeking long-lasting recovery.&nbsp;</p><p><strong style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; ">3.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.yasminnair.net" target="_blank">Yasmin Nair</a>,&nbsp;writer, academic, activist, commentator</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Yasmin Nair.jpg" style="float: left; " title="Yasmin Nair. (YasminNair.net)" /></p><p>As the Chicago-based &quot;bastard child of queer theory and deconstruction,&quot; Nair has made quite a name for herself in the <a href="http://www.yasminnair.net/content/about" target="_blank">literary world</a>. As an investigative reporter, photographer, and critical essayist, her writing has examined complex issues such as neoliberalism and inequality, queer politics and theory, the politics of rescue and affect, sex trafficking, the art world, gentrification and the immigration crisis.&nbsp;</p><p>An archive of Nair&#39;s published work, including a compendium on gay marriage (Gay Marriage Hurts My Breasts)&nbsp;and a blog focused on political and cultural commentary (We Don&#39;t Live Here Anymore) can be found at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.yasminnair.net" target="_blank">YasminNair.net</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><strong style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; ">4.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/407605/february-01-2012/ameena-matthews" target="_blank">Ameena Matthews</a>,&nbsp;</strong><strong style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; ">violence interrupter, CeaseFire Illinois&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Matthews is a violence interrupter with CeaseFire Illinois, an anti-violence group that works directly with gang members to curb shootings in the Chicago area. In 2011, she also made a starring turn in the Steve James-directed, Kartemquin Films-produced documentary <a href="http://interrupters.kartemquin.com" target="_blank">The Interrupters</a>, which prompted the city to give CeaseFire a $1 million contract to send violence interrupters, or mediators, into two crime-plagued Chicago neighborhoods over the past year.&nbsp;</p><p>Today, the self-professed &quot;peace maker, peace keeper and community builder&quot; continues her work of youth outreach and violence prevention in Chicago, maintaining an active <a href="https://twitter.com/AmeenaMatthews" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;account to broadcast her efforts. In February, WBEZ reporter Lauren Chooljan featured Matthews as part of her <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/year-25-ameena-matthews-105541" target="_blank">Year 25</a> series.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; "><strong>5.&nbsp;<a href="http://rookiemag.com/author/jessicah/" target="_blank">Jessica Hopper</a>,&nbsp;music journalist, Rookie Mag</strong></span></span><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jessica Hopper.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right; " title="Jessica Hopper. (Twitter)" /></p><p>Hopper is a music and culture critic based in Chicago. She got her start writing for the Minneapolis&nbsp;<a href="http://www.citypages.com" target="_blank">City Pages </a>and Spin magazine, before becoming a columnist for the Chicago punk zine Punk Planet and editor of the famed Riot-Grrrl affiliated zine Hit It or Quit. From 1995 to 2004, Hopper also worked as a publicist for dozens of indie, electronic and punk bands, including At the Drive In, The Promise Ring and The Gossip.&nbsp;</p><p>In addition to her current position as music editor of <a href="http://rookiemag.com/author/jessicah/" target="_blank">Rookie Mag</a>, Hopper writes the&nbsp;<a href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/columns/fan_landers/" target="_blank">Fan Landers</a> advice column for the Village Voice and regularly contributes music criticism to Spin, Pitchfork and Rolling Stone. Her book, &quot;The&nbsp;Girl&#39;s Guide to Rocking,&quot; was named one of 2009&#39;s Notable Books for Young Readers by the American Library Association.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px; "><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; "><strong>6.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vivalafeminista.com/p/about-contact-info.html" target="_blank">Veronica Arreola</a>,&nbsp;director, Women in Science and Engineering at UIC</strong></span></span><strong style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; ">&nbsp;</strong></p><p>As the assistant director for the <a href="http://www.uic.edu/depts/crwg/" target="_blank">Center for Research on Women and Gender</a> at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Arreola also directs the department&#39;s Women in Science and Engineering program (WISE). The mission of WISE is to recruit, retain and advance women, majority and minority, in science, technology, math and engineering.&nbsp;</p><p>Arreola is an established writer and public speaker as well. Her work has appeared in&nbsp;Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture,&nbsp;Ms. Magazine&nbsp;and Women&#39;s Review of Books. As a long-time feminist blogger, Arreola also has contributed to a number of online publications, including The Frisky, Chicagonista and her own award-winning blog, <a href="http://www.vivalafeminista.com" target="_blank">Viva La Feminista</a>. Currently, she&nbsp;is working towards her doctorate in Public Administration, with specializations in public management and gender.&nbsp;</p><p><strong style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; ">7.&nbsp;<a href="http://chicagoheights.patch.com/groups/around-town/p/rescue-takes-pittie-on-pit-bulls-that-need-homes" target="_blank">Tracy Garcia</a>,&nbsp;founder, It&#39;s a Pittie Rescue</strong></p><p>In 2012, Chicago Heights resident and &quot;pittie&quot; advocate Tracy Garcia started a nonprofit organization called <a href="http://rescueapittie.org" target="_blank">It&#39;s a Pittie Rescue</a>&nbsp;in the South suburbs to match pit bulls with loving homes. Garcia began working for South Animal Hospital when she was 15, and has acquired numerous certifications in her years of training with animal control. Now she works to eliminate the stigma surrounding pit bulls and to provide this misunderstood breed with the care and quality of life that they deserve. In the past year alone,&nbsp;Garcia&#39;s organization has saved more than 250 pit bulls and facilitated more than 100 adoptions.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; "><strong>8.</strong> <strong><a href="http://theeverygirl.com/feature/lindsay-avner-of-bright-pink/" target="_blank">Lin</a></strong></span><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Lindsay%20Avner.jpg" style="float: left; " title="Lindsay Avner. (Bright Pink/Facebook)" /><span style="font-size: 14px; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; "><strong><a href="http://theeverygirl.com/feature/lindsay-avner-of-bright-pink/" target="_blank">dsay Av</a></strong></span><strong style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; "><a href="http://theeverygirl.com/feature/lindsay-avner-of-bright-pink/" target="_blank">ner</a>,&nbsp;founder and chief executive officer, Bright Pink</strong></p><p>At 23, Avner became the<a href="http://www.cnn.com/exchange/blogs/ypwr/2007/09/lindsay-avner.html" target="_blank"> youngest patient</a> in the country to opt for a risk-reducing double mastectomy with reconstruction. After losing her grandmother and great-grandmother to breast cancer before she was born, and watching her mother fight both breast and ovarian cancer when she was only 12, Avner discovered through genetic testing that she was high-risk and made the courageous decision to have preemptive surgery.&nbsp;It was also during this time that she became aware of the lack of resources for women in her specific situation&mdash;those who didn&#39;t have breast or ovarian cancer, but wanted to take a proactive approach to their health.</p><p>In 2007, Avner founded&nbsp;<a href="http://www.brightpink.org" target="_blank">Bright Pink</a>,&nbsp;the only national nonprofit focusing on the prevention and early detection of ovarian and breast cancer in young woman, while also providing support for high-risk individuals. Today, Bright Pink has become one the fastest growing nonprofits in the nation, impacting and saving thousands of lives each day.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; "><strong>9.&nbsp;<a href="http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2013/04/08/holocaust-survivor-remembers" target="_blank">Estelle Glaser Laughlin</a>,&nbsp;Holocaust survivor, author</strong></span></span></p><p>83-year-old Laughlin is a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto, the ghetto uprising and three concentration camps (Majdanek, Skarzysko and Czestochowa) in WWII Poland. Soviet forces liberated her from Czestochowa in January 1945; in 1947, she moved to the United States to live with family in New York City.&nbsp;</p><p>For many years, Laughlin worked as a survivor volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Now she&nbsp;resides in a Chicago suburb, where she holds book signings for her powerful 2012 memoir &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&amp;field-author=Estelle%20Glaser%20Laughlin&amp;page=1&amp;rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3AEstelle%20Glaser%20Laughlin" target="_blank">Transcending Darkness: A Girl&#39;s Journey out of the Holocaust</a>,&quot; and speaks about her experiences to inspire hope in others.</p><p><strong style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; ">10.&nbsp;<a href="http://smartassjen.tumblr.com/post/49141801112/trans100-this-moving-informative-and" target="_blank">Trisha Lee Holloway</a>,&nbsp;medical case worker for trans women, Howard Brown Health Center&nbsp;</strong></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/uW6iIqaY2ww" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Recently honored as one of <em>Windy City Times</em>&#39; <a href="http://chicago.gopride.com/news/article.cfm/articleid/43176096" target="_blank">30 under 30</a> in 2013, Holloway is a shining example of LGBTQ advocacy in the Chicago area. Prior to her current position as a medical case manager for trans women at Howard Brown Health Center, Holloway served as an outreach worker at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children&#39;s Hospital, where she provided HIV testing and counseling.&nbsp;</p><p>To further her goal of bringing awareness to the needs of trans women in her community, Holloway recently helped open the first trans housing program in Chicago,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/16/translife-center-chicago_n_3606681.html" target="_blank">TransLife Center</a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; "><strong>11.&nbsp;<a href="http://butterfliesforchange.org/Bridget_Brown.html" target="_blank">Bridget Brown</a>,&nbsp;founder, Butterflies for Change</strong></span></span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bridget Brown:Butterflies for Change.jpg" style="height: 199px; width: 300px; float: right; " title="Bridget Brown. (ButterfliesforChange.org)" />Brown, a national public speaker and workshop presenter, redefines the term &quot;inclusion&quot; by being the <a href="http://www.butterfly4change.org/Who_am_I_.html" target="_blank">first person</a> with Down syndrome to be included in her school district. Brown graduated in 2005, and now works as a person-centered planning coach to help young adults with disabilities.</p><p>In addition to being a keynote speaker for&nbsp;<a href="http://butterfliesforchange.org/Butterflies_for_Change.php" target="_blank">Butterflies for Change</a>&nbsp;and a graduate of the Stars advocacy program through The Arc of Illinois, Brown is also an Action Club member, actress, dental assistant and health educator at the College of Dentisry at UIC.&nbsp;</p><p>Who else would you add to this list?&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; "><em>Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer and co-host of WBEZ&#39;s <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774" target="_blank">Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television.</em> <em>Follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>,<a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank"> Facebook</a> and <a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>.&nbsp;</em></span></span></p></p> Wed, 07 Aug 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-08/11-inspiring-chicago-women-you-should-know-108293 Ballots, Babies, and Banners of Peace http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/ballots-babies-and-banners-peace-107639 <p><p>At the turn of the twentieth century, American Jewish women were consistently and publicly engaged in all the major issues of their day, including suffrage, birth control, and peace. The activism of American Jewish women was grounded in their gender, religious, cultural, and ethnic identities. No history of these movements in the United States is complete without analyzing the impact of Jewish women&#39;s presence.</p><p>Dr. Melissa R. Klapper is the professor of history and director of women&#39;s and gender studies at Rowan University. Dr. Klapper&rsquo;s research has received awards from sources including the American Jewish Archives Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Harvard University, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Her latest book is <em>Ballots, Babies, and Banners of Peace: &nbsp;American Jewish Women&#39;s Activism, 1890-1940</em>.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SI-webstory_5.jpg" title="" /></p><p>Recorded live Thursdsay, May 2, 2013 at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies.</p></p> Thu, 02 May 2013 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/ballots-babies-and-banners-peace-107639 Divas in the board room http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2013-03/divas-board-room-106148 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/5713143208_23aa89c808_z_0.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Sheryl Sandberg on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek (Flickr/bizweekdesign)" />Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and Marissa Mayer, COO of Yahoo, are arguably the youngest and most well-known females in corporate America today. In the male-dominated world of business, where only slightly more than 4 percent of Fortune 500 companies are led by women, Sandberg and Mayer are wunderkinds who achieved early success and rose to the top at a meteoric rate.</p><p>In both financial and feminist circles they are considered rock stars, trail blazers and gurus to be studied and emulated. And this dynamic duo has not been hesitant in word or deed to proclaim and demand a new set of rules for women in the workplace.</p><p>After 13 years at Google, where she was the twentieth employee hired and the first female engineer, Marissa Mayer left Google to become CEO of Yahoo in July 2012.&nbsp; Her first two challenges were obvious ones:</p><ul><li>she needed to address the company&rsquo;s declining ad revenues and stock prices</li><li>she was seven months pregnant</li></ul><p>The pregnancy issue handled itself, and on September 30, 2013, she had a baby boy.&nbsp;</p><p>The company&#39;s financial issues remain ongoing, and Mayer returned to work just two weeks after having the baby to give them her full attention. (She has managed to balance the financial dilemma and the demand of diapers by having a nursery built next to her office.)</p><p>Since then, she has done everything in her power to right the ship.&nbsp; And her most controversial decision to date speaks directly to how she sees and wants the game to be played.&nbsp; Starting this spring, &ldquo;working at home&rdquo; has been banned.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We need to be one Yahoo, and that starts with physically being together&rdquo;, Mayer said.&nbsp;</p><p>Although Yahoo&rsquo;s new model has generated a considerable backlash, Mayer&rsquo;s message is clear: &ldquo;do as I do&rdquo; or move on.</p><p>Sandberg, in her recently published book <em>Lean In: Women, Work, and The Will To Lead</em> offers advise about how women can advance their careers, and at the same time, admonishes women for being part of the problem of why more women are not in more leadership positions. If you want to get ahead and make it big time, says Sandberg, women need to &ldquo;lean in&rdquo;, assert themselves more, put in more time, take on more tasks, be more ambitious.</p><p>Yes, she says, it is a male dominated world. So work harder. Believe in yourself. Don&rsquo;t doubt your ability to do it all.&nbsp; Make more demands. Take on more. Sandberg argues that women have to stop looking for excuses and reasons for failure or mediocrity. Success costs, and if you don&rsquo;t pay the price, it won&rsquo;t happen.</p><p>I&rsquo;ve got a daughter who is a business person, my wife is a COO of her firm and I like to think I&rsquo;m a card carrying feminist. But to tell you the truth, Sandberg and Mayer scare me. &nbsp;Or, perhaps more accurately, they confuse me. They want women to outwork the men. They are advocating putting in the big hours, and making the big compromises, so that they too can succeed on Planet Finance. But maybe they&rsquo;ve all got it all wrong. &nbsp;Maybe it really shouldn&rsquo;t be about the big job, the big hours, the big sacrifices. Maybe it&rsquo;s the system and not the players that is all screwed up. Maybe none of us, men or women, should be eager to &ldquo;lean in&rdquo; because the world we are being asked to &ldquo;lean into&rdquo; isn&rsquo;t, in the long run, humanly worth it.</p><p>Maybe our two C-suite divas are on to something more important than success at work. Maybe their&rsquo;s is a cautionary tale. Rather than &ldquo;leaning in&rdquo;, maybe all of us should start thinking about &ldquo;leaning back&rdquo;, and start trying to find success and accomplishments in other parts of our lives beyond our jobs.</p><p><em>Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></p> Mon, 08 Apr 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2013-03/divas-board-room-106148 Winter in Hollywood: Tis the season for slut-shaming http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-01/winter-hollywood-tis-season-slut-shaming-105098 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/APTexasChainsaw.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Texas Chainsaw 3D (AP)" />The winter movie season tends to be a dumping ground for movies that couldn&rsquo;t hack it anywhere else&mdash;whether they&rsquo;re risky business for a studio that feels they might be a tough sell to audiences (the re-cut, hyper-violent <em>Gangster Squad</em>) or a studio red-headed stepchild that has flop written all over it (the long-delayed <em>Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters</em>).The <em>A.V. Club</em> recently referred to January as the &quot;<a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/2013-winter-movie-antipreview,90739/2/">least-wonderful time of the year</a>.&quot; But this winter, we&rsquo;re seeing an emerging trend on top of our yearly pile of holiday coal: a stinking heap of slut-shaming and sex negativity.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">To be fair, this isn&rsquo;t the first time that slut shaming has reared its sexist head in TV or film. The WB&rsquo;s golden age programming had a marked tendency to punish its female characters for losing their virginity. Both <em>Gilmore Girls</em> and <em>Felicity </em>have their young leads engage in infidelity for their first times, which leads to retribution and (in the case of Rory Gilmore) being shipped off to Europe for the summer like Daisy Miller. In <em>Buffy the Vampire Slayer</em>, <a href="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SlutShaming">Buffy Summers</a>&rsquo; undead boyfriend loses his soul and tries to kill all of her friends after they have sex. The premium is put on maintaining one&rsquo;s virginity, and if any form of sexuality is shown, it&rsquo;s harmful and dangerous.</div><p>Cinema sometimes subverts these norms&mdash;like <em>The Devil Wears Prada</em>&mdash;but the more common example is a film like <em>What&rsquo;s Your Number?</em>, which tells women that having sex with too many people is bad. If you&#39;re a slut, no one will ever love you and you&rsquo;ll be doomed to be alone. It&rsquo;s like that scene in <em>Mean Girls</em> where a sex-ed counselor tells girls that if they have sex, they will get pregnant and die. This is not how Judy Blume said it would be.</p><p>Michael Tiddes&rsquo; <em>A Haunted House</em> (aka that movie starring a bunch of Wayanses) gives us a great example of Hollywood&rsquo;s norm of sex negativity, as characters who overtly express their sexualities are lampooned for it. The Wayans&rsquo; brothers previous <em>Scary Movie </em>franchise engages in the same behavior, presenting female sexuality in broad caricatures and dichotomies. Women are either fake-breasted sluts or virgins. In <em>A Haunted House</em>, the character most defined by his sexuality is Nick Swardson&rsquo;s gay psychic, and Swardson can&rsquo;t get through fifteen seconds of screen time without the movie shaming him for his sexuality. They even pull out a nice lisp and some leather gear to do so. The Wayans oeuvre is not one for subtlety.</p><p>As a (terrible) send-up of horror films, <em>A Haunted House</em> both comments on and upholds the horror genre&rsquo;s tortured relationship to sex&mdash;where the virgin lives and the slut dies first. (Joss Whedon&rsquo;s recent <em>The Cabin in the Woods</em> parodies this trope brilliantly.) If you wanted an example of slut-shaming in horror films for your cinema class, the recent <em>Texas Chainsaw 3D</em> is practically a gift from God, a movie whose characterization of female sexuality is so over the top that you feel like it has to be a joke. Two of the film&rsquo;s three screenwriters are female, so I sincerely hope this is the case, but Tina Fey assures me it might not be. Seriously, did <em>Mean Girls </em>teach us nothing?</p><p><em>Texas Chainsaw 3D</em> introduces us to two female leads, whose sexual behaviors are diametrically opposed. Alexandra Daddario&rsquo;s Heather is a classic horror movie good girl in the vein of Jamie Lee Curtis, who looks like Neve Campbell crossed with Tiffani Amber Thiessen. She&rsquo;s shown to be somewhat sexually active, but far more conservative than her friend Nikki, whose dress and nomenclature suggest she&rsquo;s auditioning for <em>Showgirls II: Revenge of the Kibble</em>. Almost every line of Nikki&rsquo;s dialogue that graces our ears is about having sex, hooking up or boys&mdash;but Raymonde plays Nikki with enough winking irony that you know she understands what she&rsquo;s dealing with here. During a <a href="http://www.dreadcentral.com/news/62449/exclusive-interview-tania-raymonde-being-slutty-girl-and-more-texas-chainsaw-3d">panel</a> discussion about the film, the <em>Lost </em>actress was a good sport about her character&rsquo;s limitations: &ldquo;That was another pleasure of mine, to fulfill the iconic stereotype role of the bimbo in the horror movie.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite the brains behind the boobs, the movie treats Nikki with a strange amount of disdain and spends a great deal of screen time setting her up for a slut takedown. Throughout the film, Nikki goes after Heather&rsquo;s boyfriend (played by rapper Trey Songz, obviously) like a drunken, heat-seeking missile, and finally lands him in a barn by getting him liquored up. She all but has to force him to get him to have sex with her, which the movie is then able to punish her for by brutally slaughtering her. Whereas Mr. Songz&rsquo;s death gets to take place off camera, the film revels in watching her pay.</p><p>The same behaviors take place in <em>Jack Reacher</em>, a movie that&rsquo;s been steamrolled at the box office by <em>Django Unchained</em> and <em>Les Miz</em> ever since it was released. Buried in the pre-Christmas onslaught, the film portrays Tom Cruise as a loner vigilante working with and against the police to track down a serial killer, played with reliable surreal gusto by the mad German auteur Werner Herzog. While hunting down the bad guys, the film serves as a love letter to Tom Cruise&rsquo;s apparently irresistible sex appeal, as almost every woman he encounters throws themselves in front of him to have sex with him. In an uncomfortable scene, even an old lady cashier gives him the sex-me-now eye. He declines, because he&#39;s too good for sex. Jack Reacher is above that sort of thing.</p><p>One of the women dying to be with him is the scantily clad Sandy, who approaches the much older Cruise in a bar and offers to go to bed with him. For reasons that the plot will attempt to explain later, Cruise turns down her offer, at first mistaking her for a hooker, and then repeatedly calls her a &ldquo;slut&rdquo;&mdash;until the men she&rsquo;s with try to beat him up. (Because it&rsquo;s a Tom Cruise movie, he&rsquo;s able to fight all of them off.) However, the movie is not done with Sandy, and Cruise will track her down again later to give her a bizarre speech about her life choices and why she needs to change her filthy, whorish ways. Sandy doesn&rsquo;t turn her life around, so someone punches her in the head and she dies. No more Sandy.</p><p>What&rsquo;s interesting here is that the movie finds the idea of Tom Cruise being an insatiable lothario so permissible that it&rsquo;s able to ram it down our throats&mdash;but if a woman expresses herself sexually, she gets killed for it. What is this, the Taliban?</p><p>Even the movies that do a better job on issues of female sexuality have an odd relationship with the secular flesh. Take the Oscar-nominated <em>Zero Dark Thirty</em>, which is a landmark in rewriting the rules of women in film. Jessica Chastain&rsquo;s Maya lives for her job, so much so that she views the idea of having sex with her co-workers &ldquo;unbecoming.&rdquo; When another female employee, played by Meryl Streep look-alike Jennifer Ehle, suggests that she relax and let her hair down, Maya insists, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not the girl who f**ks.&rdquo; In order for Maya to be respected at what she does, she&rsquo;s not allowed to be sexually active at all, and Maya looks down on those without her brand of sexual ethics. All this does is replace one set of sexual standards for another, rather than just allowing women to make their own choices.</p><p>Although the film is meant to be a statement about the hyper-sexualization of women in cinema and a cry against patriarchy, this only upholds the overarching sex negativity in Hollywood, where sex is a four letter word. Last year&rsquo;s public slut-shaming of Kristen Stewart and the industry&rsquo;s complicity in dumping her career only showed how much progress needs to be made on the issue. We need to change a culture where women are thrown under the bus for cheating, and men get to keep their jobs and careers. The slut shaming we see in such films as <em>Texas Chainsaw 3D</em> is a reflection of that puritanical mindset, one that we reinforce by throwing money at it.</p><p>If there&rsquo;s any hope for sluts at the cinema, you&rsquo;ll find it in films like Will Gluck&rsquo;s <em>Easy A</em> or David O. Russell&rsquo;s <em>Silver Linings Playbook</em>, which aren&rsquo;t perfect but are a huge step in the right direction. In <em>Silver Linings</em>&rsquo;, Jennifer Lawrence&rsquo;s Tiffany plays a widow who went through a promiscuous period after her husband&rsquo;s death, about which her romantic interest, Bradley Cooper&rsquo;s Pat, gives her a hard time. Rather than apologizing for her past, Lawrence owns her sexual history. When Pat calls her a &ldquo;big slut,&rdquo; she retorts, &ldquo;There&#39;s always going to be a part of me that&#39;s <em>sloppy and dirty</em><em>,</em> but I like that, just like all the other parts of myself.&rdquo;</p><p>Sure, Tiffany has to reinforce the idea that she&rsquo;s not a slut <em>anymore</em> to assuage Pat&rsquo;s fears, but a mainstream movie that even flirts with sex positivity is a revelation. Although outspoken young actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Olivia Thirlby&mdash;who mentioned in a recent interview that she self-identifies as a &ldquo;slut&rdquo;&mdash;are ready and able to break the boundaries of how Hollywood portrays women, they need directors, producers and writers who are willing to go on that journey with them. Rather than continuing to perpetuate damaging norms and then cheekily playing along, we need to stop teaching young women that their bodies are bodies are disposable and they deserve to die for having sex. If we want to empower women, we have to stop being ironic about sexism and start actually doing something about it.</p><p><em>Nico Lang blogs about LGBTQ life in Chicago for WBEZ.org. Follow Nico on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/Nico_Lang" target="_hplink">@Nico_Lang</a> or on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/NicoRLang" target="_hplink">Facebook</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 23 Jan 2013 10:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-01/winter-hollywood-tis-season-slut-shaming-105098