The Heat

This past weekend Stephen, Kyle and I ventured to the movie theater to see The Heat. We rarely go to movies. When I do attend I usually am hyper critical of the films. At times this is a great attribute and has made for some great conversations, while at other times I wish I could just laugh at dumb stuff.

I am not quite sure what drew me to The Heat, none the less, I suggested we catch this flick. I am in support of any female led comedies. Upon arrival the credits rolled and I noticed Paul Fieg directed and produced it. I began to feel more confident in our choice. I am a fan of Fieg’s work and have adored him since the good ol’ days of Freaks and Geeks.

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I do not like how photoshopped McCartney is… bad move 😦

The verdict:
This movie was fantastic! I was surprised by the themes and choice in delivery for particular subjects.

It was consistently funny
The film was crude and genuine. Although it was vulgar, it wasn’t trying to prove a point. Sometimes I think female led comedies think they need to be overly vulgar to make up for the fact that they are in a rare position as leading ladies. The Heat is bold, but it never feels awkward. Melissa McCartney nails every line and does a phenomenal job acting through a range of emotions.

Prostitution
As an active member of the Young Activist Council for Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation I am hyper aware of media’s portrayal of prostitution. We meet McCartney as she stakes out a transaction between a prostitute and a john. I was sitting on the edge of my seat anticipating how she would handle the two. I hoped she would put the blame on the rightful people (the john and pimp)… and she did. She makes a comment to the prostitute but overall her focus is on bringing justice to those who are seeking the services. It was beautiful to see the rightful perpetrators be brought to justice.

Gender in the Workplace
The film was not scared of acknowledging the misogyny that is still incredibly relevant in the workplace.  In a scene where Bullock and McCartney are confronted by a DEA agent they have an open dialogue about the difficulties they face in their respective agencies because of their gender. Through a comedic lens they shed light on how difficult their positions are and how they must work harder than their peers just to be recognized as somewhat equal.

Love Interests
There weren’t any! I think this is the first female comedy (ever) that does not even dabble with a love interest. At the end of the film Marlon Wayans winks at Bullock, but aside from that second of film time… the women’s love interests are absent from the plot. There are consistent jokes and references to the women’s sexuality but the the women own their sexuality. The women carry the film on their own without the help of a man, and its awesome and so refreshing.

 

Over your Fourth Of July holiday opt for The Heat and support female comedy!

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Lean In and Stop Whining

I have had so many posts running through my brain but unfortunately due to circumstances my time on the computer is limited and thus I reserved my typing for Smarty Pants. However, I NEED to get this out.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead has been widely critiqued both within popular media and feminist circles. Additionally, when I bring up the text to just about anyone immediately their eye begins to wince and their lip quivers. They follow up their facial twitch with “ew I don’t like that book.” I immediately ask: “have you read the book?” The response 99% of the time is: “no.”

I think it is easy to read op-eds from fancy journalists and take their word. Its also really easy to avoid dealing with a tremendous and daunting problem we have in our country (or world :)). Sheryl Sandberg (as privileged of a beautiful Jew she is) isn’t just taking on getting a parking spot for pregnant ladies, she is taking on patriarchy and as we all know from our time in Women’s Studies courses… patriarchy sucks and is a difficult beast to tackle. I am not shocked that people would rather critique then indulge in the text’s points because if they were to take Sandberg’s points and assign value to them, then that would mean they are part of a movement that can be uncomfortable and difficult.

A breakdown of why your critiques are invalid:

1. Sheryl Sandberg is privileged which makes her points irrelevant.

Congratulations! You have done a magnificent job of pointing out the obvious. It would make little sense for someone who works at a fast food restaurant to write a text about gaining power. Sandberg also acknowledges who her intended audience is, and her role within the corporate sphere in the first few pages. Sure, Sandberg was able to gain power because she attended a well regarded undergraduate an graduate institution but this argument does two things. First, it negates all hard work she put into getting into those two schools (last I checked I am a Jew and I wasn’t automatically accepted to Harvard). Secondly, it is just another form of the same ol’ critique that surrounds women of power. Do people question Obama’s validity? My sources tell me went to a fancy undergrad and grad school and guess what… he is still seen as a relatable human!

This entire conversation makes me think of the hierarchy of power I referenced frequently with my students. We as a country have three classes of people. We have lower class (work jobs that require no thought), middle class (a job that requires a specific skill set) and the wealthy (jobs that require innovation and critical analysis). To gain wealth you need to be able to think. The thinkers are the influencers and their thoughts eventually dictate the work and rolls of the other two classes. I love grassroots efforts (which Sandberg is trying to cultivate with her Lean In circles http://leanin.org/) but I think its also critical we acknowledge that we need women like Sandberg, one of the wealthy folk to be thinking about these systems. At the end of the day… she does have power because of her status. Yes, her power is of less value to society because she is a lady, but she has found her way to the class that makes the big decisions. Her point about women needing to be in more leadership positions gets to this very point. We can march and protest all we want (and these are beautiful ways to get your point out) but we also need people at the top making major changes to be our allies. It never hurt anyone to have a friend at the top.

2. Sheryl Sandberg is exploiting feminism:

Great… exploit! Her entire chapter on her role within the feminist movement was refreshing. My beautiful and lovely feminist allies need to take a step back and calm down. Who cares that she references Gloria Steinem on every page? The fact of the matter is… she is referencing feminism constantly and isn’t that something to be excited about? I can not tell you how many books, articles, and conversations I have been a part of where the central topic is “how do we get people to not be scared of the word feminism?” Well here is one platform that seems to be pretty darn successful.  We should be celebrating these efforts. Perhaps the general public isn’t being introduced to feminism through punk or a zine but they are being exposed and isn’t that what we want?

3. Sheryl Sandberg hates moms:

Really? I just can’t.

 

Lean In and stop critiquing:

We should always be critical of any body of work. But I think our need to analyze…. analyze… analyze…. is hindering our ability to see the real value in this text. If we are going to shift our systems of oppression we need to tackle it from all angles. Further, I don’t care which power class you belong to: being told you are worth power is always relevant. Having a supportive partner is ALWAYS relevant. Asking for what you want while using an authoritative authentic voice is a must, and realizing that YOU ARE OF VALUE is a lesson we all should not only listen to but embody.

Also please note that I could have written about 3 more pages about my obsession with the ideas of this book, but instead of me telling you why its amazing, just go out and READ it (don’t just watch the TedTalks).

Summer.

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”  – F. Scott Fitzgerlad (The Great Gatsby)

This is my last week of teaching. After 3 years as a classroom teacher, I will take a curtsey, walk out and take ownership of my career. I am incredibly excited and nervous. I am hopeful and inspired.

One of the things I am most excited about is having autonomy over my time. Further, I can  decide for myself which work structure works best for me. After being micro-managed for 2 years, the idea of setting goals and fulfilling them because I am motivated (not working out of fear) is incredibly liberating.

The most energizing part of all of this change is that I am doing something I want to do. Not just want I want to do, but something I love to do, what I am made to do. (My post on lady leadership is a work in progress and will happen eventually :))

I am already feeling the benefits of this transition. I am spending time with friends, enjoying the weather, cooking again, and most importantly getting to be with my husband. Further, the onset summer is spectacular and invigorating!

Being with friends is beautiful. I have missed this tremendously. Over the past 5 months I haven’t seen people (working two full time jobs can do that). We have even had friends over! Stevi and Nick came over for pizza. Stevi and I were perfect housewives and made veggie pizzas for all to enjoy.

Pizza night with Stevi and Nick!

Pizza night with Stevi and Nick!

Gluten free and regular crust!

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Also here is our current song of summer!

Queen of the Jungle Gym

I have been insanely busy and sick, however I had the pleasure of writing a guest post for A Breakfast Serial about life lessons after college. I feel this post is a pretty thorough explanation as to why I haven’t been posting. I am can not wait until June 7th when I am working only one full time job!

Full post: Queen of the Jungle Gym.

In my post I mention Lean In.  I have wanted to write a post on this book for a while. I am not going to attempt this now, but I will leave you with Sheryl Sandberg’s TEDTalks. This talk is only a snippet of the entire conversation that we must have about women in leadership roles.

Feminist Friends

This past weekend I had a blast with my lovely friends. Each day was filled with laughs, talks, and love. Being that this blog is grounded in third wave theory and my active role within the feminist movement,  I find it appropriate to discuss how my friendships are part of my identity as a feminist activist.

minus Natalia

minus Natalia

Each time we are all together we laugh about how distinctly different we look. People stare and we giggle about how others perceive us. We must look very odd together because we each have very individual styles and personalities. Yet despite our outward differences  we get along swimmingly. I don’t think it is coincidental that we make so much sense together. We are all driven to shift the trajectory of our society and that underlying passion within each of us allows us to communicate and respect one another, ultimately creating a healthy synergy.

While at dinner Saturday night my ladies and I began to discuss the dynamics of our group and the respect we have for one another. We have all been friends for over three years now and I can honestly say we all love and support one another without hesitation. Further, we are compassionate towards one another. I think its important to note that every lady in our group is strong, intelligent, and is some form of type A personality. I think in normal circumstances such strong personalities would struggle with one another because of power dynamics, however this has never been an issue for us. I think we haven’t struggled with one another for many reasons however I think the central tenant to our success lies within our understanding that we need one another since we do such difficult work. We understand that pettiness is a waste of our time, we have bigger fish to fry. Ultimately I think we each recognize that in order to move forward both within our professional and personal lives, women must help one another and build a strong community of love.

It makes me incredibly sad when I see women of power struggle with those who might also be successful. *(On a side note: I understand to an extent. It is so hard for women to get power. When they finally obtain it they become very protective due to the circumstances they endured to obtain it.)  We are conditioned through capitalism and patriarchy to create hierarchies which results in competitiveness and disrespect.  The lack of community that results because of competition hinders women from gaining the power they need in order to shift major social dynamics. However I truly believe in my heart that if women started supporting one another we would see major changes in female success in our country.

I love that my group of friends is part of the larger narrative of women empowering women. We are will hold one another up when we are down. We will support each other through transitions. Our relationships will help propel us to positions that will make us happy and change the world. Nothing is better than female communities of love, nothing 🙂

We are all in on this whole making the world a better place thing ;)

We are all in on this whole making the world a better place thing 😉

5 ways to get happy.

It’s the new year and everyone is scrambling to find ways to adjust their life to be “better.” This morning after my spin class, I walked into the next studio placed my mat down and had a snack. While munching on my nuts people began filling the yoga studio in droves. Do not get my wrong, I think yoga is amazing and we should all find something to do to help us take a moment to breath, but those who were running for the studio door were entering for the first time… they were new years resolution folks.

From what I have witnessed resolutions seem lofty and hard to sustain, which ultimately leads to disappointment. Further, these big shifts in lifestyles often suggest that who you are NOW isn’t who you should be. Resolutions don’t push you to progress and grow over time, they ask you to dump who you currently are and become someone else.

Yesterday I sat with an old friend and sipped coffee. We talked about life, love, and all that jazz. My friend spoke of her relationships, work, and adventures and then frankly stated “I’m just happy.” She then followed up this statement with “I know that’s weird to say.” I think she is right, we don’t normally just take in moments to recognize when we are happy. We are always looking to plan what’s next, what could be better, what else could I have…. And while I think planning and growth are beautiful… we need to just take a moment and stop to see how great things are.

I did not set a new years resolution. I am trying to get back to being balanced after the holiday season and continue doing things I love. I have found a lot of happiness in  simple little choices I make in my everyday life. I am going to share these little things because… well… I am happy. My little choices will also lead to a healthier me. I want to continue recognizing what makes me happy because it is a part of who I already am and will continue to foster growth within me.

so maybe there is a new years resolution in there after all 🙂

5 ways to bring balance back into your day

1. Incorporate nuts and greens into my day.. at least two times a day. I try to have a green shake for breakfast with a handful of nuts and a salad with seeds for lunch. I just feel so light and clean when I consistently consume these two items.

Wholefoods fruit and nuts mix is 110 calories for 1/4 cup

Wholefoods fruit and nuts mix is 110 calories for 1/4 cup

2. Take sometime to breath and not think of anyone else. THIS IS NOT SELFISH. I do this each day at yoga. I know not everyone does yoga, but YOU time can be done through music, meditation, running… whatever.

vintage lady

Isn’t this woman such a babe?

3. Read. With work I often forget to read things I actually enjoy. Its so wonderful to just forget about things and scan a blog, book, or magazine. Reading helps me feel connected to the outside world, it brings a sense of community to my sometimes isolating work schedule.

one of my favorite blogs.

one of my favorite blogs.

4. Fresh food. My body yearns for fresh food right now. After the sugar of the holidays and so much bread… I can hear my stomach say “feed me fresh greens.”

spinach1

I endorse the spinach, not the popeye plot lines… hello glorified domestic violence

5. Doing something you’re passionate about. Let me first say, I want to close the achievement gap. However, my greatest passion is not education equality.. rather its making an equitable society for men and women. I think education is a HUGE part of our great inequality but its not what REALLY makes me tick. Going into this school year I knew that I could no longer just rely on work to help fuel my passion for change. I needed to reconnect to my roots and find an organization that spoke to my values and tried to change our patriarchal system in a HUGE way. I am currently a member of the Young Activist Council for CAASE (Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Expolitation) and could not be prouder of the work CAASE does for the Chicago community, women, and our society. Chicago aims to end sexual exploitation through policy, advocacy, law, and education. They have broken huge ground over the years and will continue to make major changes in the way we understand and view sex work, sex trafficking, sexual assault, and gender equality.

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Primary Sources and the New Year

I am a historian, I have always been a historian, and I will always be a historian. I love sifting through documents, texts, and materials analyzing each piece in the hopes of constructing an understanding of events. Although I no longer write historical pieces, I think of graduate school fondly and miss those days greatly. I used to sit on the floor with books all around me, digging through primary sources trying to figure out how to grant women a voice in times where it was often restrained. Oh, how I love it!

I spoke at a conference a few years ago where the keynote speaker discussed the different types of historians. He explained that he believed that there were those who wrote history because it helped them define their own identity and then there were those who wrote history because they wanted to solve the mysteries of the past. I completely identify with the first historian he defined. My work has always focused on gender, Judaism, and choice. All three of these topics I grapple with daily and I believe my work has helped me define how I fit within the larger historical context that has helped construct my personal identity.

Although I am no longer writing, I do get to teach history for 45 minutes a day. My students this year are so enthusiastic and inquisitive. Our class often turns to random topics and quite frankly I adore these moments because my dear scholars are genuinely  very curious about the past. Two weeks before winter break one of my scholars politely raised her hand and asked, “Will we one day be primary sources?” I was enthused to hear that she was trying to understand how she  fit within the larger historical narrative.  I responded by explaining that she is a part of social history and that one day she very well could be needed to understand a time within history. We then began discussing what she might leave behind for historians to use as primary sources.

I often think about the age of digital media and how it will define primary sources. Film, letters, books… they are all tangible pieces.  I wonder if all that we write and produce on the internet will one day disappear because the interwebz archives can not possibly store all of the media we create. Perhaps this comes from a place of skepticism (I don’t trust technology to produce quality over long periods of time), none the less, I worry about the historical record we are currently creating and how it will be utilized in the future. I also often wonder about the volume at which we are producing sources and how historians will be able to negotiate what is a legitimate source and what is not. We currently struggle as a society to define legitimate  sources (i.e. fox vs. cnn), how the heck is a historian going to be to trudge through all of the murky material.

We each create our own historical narrative through memory and documents. I have always saved materials from various events so that I could piece together my own history. As we move into the new year I am going to continue constructing my history through primary sources, however this year I am going to use the ever-so-scary internet. I have created a tumblr to document the year 2013. I will take one picture for each day. I am not creating this tumblr because I believe that historians in 60 years will find it and use it to help write analysis on gender, Judiasm, and choice… I am creating it because I am a historian, trying to construct my own identity.

 

One of my favorite primary sources in grad school. Jewish girl goes on a wild adventure, only to be tamed and returned to the suburbs.

One of my favorite primary sources in grad school. Jewish girl goes on a wild adventure, only to be tamed and returned to the suburbs.

http://intheyear2013.tumblr.com/