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Television & Media

The Mad Men Era is Over — But Sexual Harassment Isn’t

Last night’s return of Mad Men found Joan and Peggy in a skin-crawlingly sexist shareholder meeting. Three male partners sat across the table from the women as they discussed changing the ad strategy for a pantyhose company—and the men made lewd, sexist innuendos. One of the men insinuated that the high quality of the pantyhose meant a customer could “pull them down over and over.”


Joan and Peggy are not new characters— and their run-ins with workplace harassment are not new either. Virtually every woman on the show faces sexism at least once. Peggy’s pregnancy in season one is played for fat jokes by her womanizing coworkers. And perhaps the hardest storyline for many women to watch was when Joan’s coworkers used her to close a deal, forcing her to make the “choice” to promise sex with a hesitant client…if he signs on the dotted line.

The problem isn’t that we’re unused to sexism. It’s that we expect the men on this show to let up already! But Mad Men airs Sunday nights, and that same story line is still playing out for women across America on Monday morning. Read more »

Quiz: And The Oscar Goes To...Movies About Abortion

This year’s Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 15th.  Like many feminist movie fans, I’ll be waiting to learn which movies that I loved — those featuring strong and interesting women — have garnered a nomination.  Obvious Child, the romantic comedy in which Jenny Slate’s character has an abortion, was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards this year and although a very long-shot for the Oscars, made several “Best of 2014” lists.  

While we are waiting to learn which movies have a chance for the golden statuette, here is a quiz about some movies that include women having abortions that have either been nominated for or won Oscars in the past:  Read more »

News Reports Miss the Real Story on the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Enrollment

CBS and other news outlets have reported on the fact that many Americans are signing up for Medicaid coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Some of these reports suggest that this is somehow a crisis or a major problem with the law, but in fact, this is how Congress designed the ACA. The ACA extends health coverage to up to 30 million currently uninsured Americans through tax credits to purchase private insurance on the newly launched Health Insurance Marketplaces and through a major expansion of Medicaid eligibility. The Medicaid eligibility expansion is a crucial part of the health care law—and is a main component of the ACA’s strategy for achieving near-universal health coverage. States may accept federal funding to expand coverage through Medicaid to all qualified individuals under age 65 who have incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL), or about $32,500 for a family of four. Approximately 15 million uninsured Americans, including 7 million women, will be newly eligible for health coverage through Medicaid.

Here are a few facts that put these reports into context:

  •  This is how the ACA is supposed to work. According to estimates by the Urban Institute and the Kaiser Family Foundation almost half (47%) of the uninsured population could be eligible for coverage through the ACA’s opportunity to expand Medicaid eligibility. This Medicaid eligibility expansion was always going to be a big part of the ACA’s coverage goals.

Marvel Makes Real Life Superheroes - Or Should We Say Super-Heroines?

Marvel Comics and Natalie Portman have teamed up with the National Academy of Sciences, Underwriters Laboratories and Dolby Laboratories to give girls some direction into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. They’re calling it the Ultimate Mentor Adventure. That just sounds hardcore.

The Ultimate Mentor Adventure will allow girls in high school to find a mentor - a woman in their area already working in a STEM field. They get tips for contacting and interviewing these awesome women to get the most out of their mentor-mentee experience.

But wait, it gets even more brilliant. They’ve (not so) secretly disguised learning and the empowerment of young girls as a contest. You might say they created a secret identity. Those who partake in the adventure can upload a video of themselves talking about their experience and their love of science. Winners get a trip to LA to attend a screening of Thor: The Dark World and the premiere screening of Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World Ultimate Mentor Adventure documentary short. Read more »

Actress Mariska Hargitay Making Documentary about Untested Rape Kits

You may know Mariska Hargitay best for her portrayal of Detective Olivia Benson in the hit TV series Law and Order: SVU. But soon, you may also know her for her upcoming documentary.

On SVU, Hargitay’s character is a determined, empathetic detective known for standing up for the victims in her cases. In one episode, Benson counsels a woman who has been stalked and raped for years by the same attacker. Part of the reason this victim’s attacker was still on the streets? The massive rape kit backlog. Read more »

ICYMI: On Fast Food Wages, the Daily Show Nailed It

I’m recently back from my summer vacation, and one of my favorite ways to catch up on the news is to watch the Daily Show episodes that have lined up on my Tivo.

Riot Grrrl’s Lasting Effect on Feminism

This week I attended the American Film Institute’s screening of The Punk Singer, a documentary about Kathleen Hanna, the lead singer of the Bikini Kill and Le Tigre. An outspoken advocate for women, Hanna made pro-women, pro-choice music during the 1990s and she witnessed sexual assault and violence against women at punk shows and experienced extreme sexism in the media.

Hanna was one of the frontrunners of the Riot Grrrl movement, which originated in Washington, D.C., and the Pacific Northwest. The movement stemmed from the sexism within the punk rock community, where women and girls were often physically injured and sexually assaulted at concerts, and many female fans didn’t feel safe participating in the things they loved. Read more »

Five TV characters Who Could Seriously Use a Raise

Cross-posted from BuzzFeed.

I have so many current ladies on TV who I look up to professionally, but with women earning an average of only 77 cents to every dollar men earn, I had to wonder: what’s Liz Lemon’s wage gap? Once I answered that question for myself, it then lead me to wonder: Holy crap. Are ALL of my favorite working women on TV underpaid? The answer: yes. Here are my top five. Who are your TV working heroines? Who did I leave off the list? Let me know! 

1. Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

The very first person I thought of when I thought about hard-working women in TV was OBVIOUSLY Liz Lemon. Girlfriend works HARD. She works extremely late, keeps crazy hours, and throws her life, heart, and soul into her work – and enjoys every single second of it. Plus, female producers/directors have median weekly earnings of $1,070; while men have median weekly earnings of $1,131. Hers wasn’t the biggest or most shocking gap on my list, but $61 per week translates to $3,172 per year – that’s an awful lot of Cheesy Blasters!

Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

On Jon Hamm, Hollywood, and Sexual Harassment

Jon Hamm’s … ahem… manhood has been all over all my RSS feeds as of late. Apparently, the wardrobe people on the set of Mad Men needed to ask Hamm to wear underwear so he isn’t exposed by tight-fitting suits, and he’s been caught at unflattering angles that accentuate certain body parts, shall we say, over others.

As a result, of course, the Internet has gone crazy – multiple Tumblrs have been created in honor of his privates, and article upon article has been written poking fun at the whole situation. Hamm is pretty upset. He told Rolling Stone:

“They're called privates for a reason. I'm wearing pants, for [expletive’s] sake. When people feel the freedom to create Tumblr accounts about my [penis], I feel like that wasn't part of the deal."

But as Slate points out, constant commentary on private parts has become par for the course for female celebrities. We plaster images of every single wardrobe malfunction, create Internet memes, and feel completely comfortable shaming female celebrities for their clothing mishaps. Anne Hathaway sums up perfectly in her recent interview with Matt Lauer about her wardrobe malfunction while promoting Les Miserables:

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Jon Stewart Agrees – Early Learning is a Critical Investment

On Wednesday night, the President’s new Early Learning Initiative got a moment in the spotlight on the Daily Show. Host Jon Stewart, in that way only he knows how, highlighted the importance of investing in children’s early years. My trying to recap the clip will certainly erase all the humor, so I’ll let you watch it for yourself.

Think of life like a marathon (just go with me on this metaphor). Many of America’s most vulnerable children are starting five miles behind everyone else - yet we expect them to finish on par with their peers. Expanding the access these children have to high quality early learning opportunities will be revolutionary. Read more »