Tag Archives: Rachel Maddow

How Our Culture Failed Women in 2013

I’ve written before about my affinity for the documentary Miss Representation and its “brother” film that’s coming out in a few weeks The Mask You Live In. Well, a few weeks ago, the organization responsible for those movies put out a wonderful — well, in some ways — video detailing the ways in which the media has failed women in 2013. At first, it lists some of the great achievements that women have had this year and then… the video turns a bit sour.

We see a time lapse of a woman being airbrushed on the cover of a magazine, very sexist advertising (magazine and commercial), oversexed music videos, movies, tv shows, and then it turns to how the media cover some news events. There are — seemingly — ignorant men (mostly) patronizing women either in person or talking about women in patronizing ways. However, there are some really powerful moments. There’s a segment from Rachel Maddow where she’s discussing how women can have all of these ticks in the boxes and still get talked to in a negative way. There’s also — and this is my favourite — a video from this past summer when the Texas legislature was trying to ram a bill through that severely limited the rights of women regarding abortion.

I realize that for some, this can be an issue that incites a lot of passion in one direction or the other, but my preference for the video has nothing to do with that issue and everything to do with this woman, this strong and powerful woman, standing up for herself and for women to what is a room and a profession dominated by men. I remember when the now famous Wendy Davis filibuster was first starting to take shape in June and I remember turning on the stream sometime in the evening and having it running in the background. And then as they got closer to the end when things were really getting interesting. I remember trying to understand some of the wonky ways that procedure was being applied and then I remember Leticia Van de Putte…

It was one of the most powerful things I’d ever seen live. And if I recall correctly, I think these words were enough to motivate the gallery (the visitors sitting up above watching) to make noise until the clock ran out and the filibuster worked. Again, I want to make it clear that I’m not arguing in favour or against the merits of the filibuster, but just to draw your attention to that moment when Leticia Van de Putte said those words and the crowd erupted. I wish it weren’t, but it seems an apt metaphor for so much of how the world works today.

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On a slightly happier (?) and stranger point, in an edition of The Economist from late last year, someone pointed out that Angela Merkel, the Chancellor (kind of like a President or Prime Minister) of Germany, appointed a female defence minister. And not only was this defense minster going to be a woman, but also that she is a gynecologist, entered politics at age 42, and has 7 children.

I think it’s great that Germany has appointed a female defence minister, but I wish that it weren’t news that Germany appointed a female defense minister. I look forward to the time in my life where the fact that someone’s been appointed to high political office or has been crowned the CEO of a big corporation and happens to also be a female is not newsworthy.

Note: You’ll notice that I made the title of this post about “our culture” and not “the media” and that’s because I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to pin the failure all on the media. There’s a feedback loop between our culture and the media. Yes, the media could certainly end that feedback loop, but so could the culture. In a way, everyone deserves a bit of the blame.

Imagine If the USA Went to War… and No One Cared

While the title is a bit provocative, it’s not completely unsubstantiated. Right now in the United States, some veterans have waited over 600 days to hear back about their benefits… SIX HUNDRED DAYS! That’s almost two years. I shudder when people make the improper analogy between governments and businesses, but can you imagine what would happen if a business waiting 2 years to tell its employees about their benefits claims? These soldiers aren’t even the ones that are coming home right now. Logic would tell you that the veterans that are coming home today wouldn’t have to wait as long as those that have come before them… wrong. The wait time is getting longer.

I was born and raised in Canada, so my cultural perspective on joining the military and going to war is a bit different from someone who was born and raised in the United States. Nonetheless, I’ve done quite a bit of reading on the subject and the American culture’s beliefs about war and soldiers permeate… everything. The “Support our Troops” campaign was long-adopted in the USA before it was in Canada. Not to mention the way that war is glorified in TV, movies, and video games.

Given all of this, I can’t understand how a country like the United States would not properly care for their veterans returning home. It’s unfathomable. People give of their time (and become soldiers) only to return from war zones with injuries — both physical and mental. Isn’t it the obligation of the country to then properly care for those people? Shouldn’t people be chomping at the bit to help these people. These people who risked their lives for — presumably — the country’s freedoms (or to help another country assert its freedoms). Note: I realize that the last couple of sentences may spark conversation about foreign policy and the US as interventionists overseas, so I wanted to acknowledge it in this side note and redirect to the main point of taking proper care of veterans.

Last night, Rachel Maddow had on the CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of AmericaPaul Rieckhoff. He’s been on the program before, but last night seemed like a special interview. I’d urge you to watch it (couldn’t embed it on WordPress, so here’s the link: Veterans appeal to Obama to step in on VA backlog) and then do something about it! Tweet about it, email your member of Congress, email your Senator, call ’em, tell your friends, tell your family, shout it from the rooftops!

Are We Missing Something?

In following up on what , had a small bit on her tonight talking about all of the different parts of the Middle East that are experiencing seemingly revolutionary events. I think it’s quite amazing just how many different countries are going through similar unrest. I can’t imagine that anything like this has ever happened in history before.

A couple of weeks back I had the chance to catch a few scenes of . I had already seen the movie before, so it was less about ‘watching a movie’ and more about remembering what the movie was about. As I was watching it and experiencing having “ultimate” powers with the main character, I was struck by how narrow-minded the character was. The character (Bruce) was so focused on improving his immediate life and not exponentially or anything, just the ‘next’ promotion.

He thought that all he needed in life was this promotion and he worked his butt off (even with super powers) to get it. Eventually, the main character realizes that there’s more to life than getting that job that he thought he wanted. However, this is not quite what I’m interested in talking about today.

The character was so focused on what was in front of him that he was missing what was around him. His girlfriend at the time, played by Jennifer Aniston, had been anticipating a marriage proposal. When she thought she was about to receive the proposal, the male protagonist had called her to dinner to tell her that he had finally got the promotion that he was after. Heartbroken, she leaves him, but eventually, things all work out happily in the end.

In the world right now, there is so much happening. There are numerous reforms happening in the Middle East, there are happening all around the globe, there is political unrest in Wisconsin as the in the state that created them, but most of all, the needle of time continues to move from left to right. I wonder, with everything that’s happening in the world in here and now, what are we missing in the grander picture of Earth. What is it that we’re not seeing because we’re so caught up in what’s happening right now?