Msnowe's Blog

Women Who Blog Who … you fill in the blank

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on February 24, 2011

m.snowe is often conflicted as she writes this blog, because sometimes, as a person who is pro-lady, you get into a situation where you essentially simultaneously become very anti-lady in incredibly specific cases (Ahem, Ahem, AHEM!). Of course, often, these women that you are against are public figures, and that opens them up to public discourse, and the criticism they might so royally deserve. And if women are truly to feel the full scope of intellectual equality, then they should be able to debate without worrying about gender.

But what about folks who are just putting their lives out there, into the blogosphere?

In the past two or three days, there have been multiple stories involving women writing about their lives. And not their lives as kick-ass independent awesome women, but as Stay at Home Girlfriends, or the dreaded “Mommy Bloggers.” For some reason, people want to read the intimate details of these people’s lives, instead of hearing about their ideologies, political views, etc. Truthfully sometimes, that’s more interesting. Perhaps it’s because some of them seem like train wrecks–M.snowe thinks so, at least–and we all know that makes for good entertainment. Or perhaps it’s to get people like m.snowe infuriated at the backwards logic that some of these articles or blogs promote. Either way, these blogs and articles are becoming the most read (and, according to the NYTimes, multi-million dollar businesses). M.snowe has many thoughts, but first, the articles we’re talking about:

Clearly, there are things that m.snowe thinks are just ludicrous. In the first link, regarding providing sexual favors:

“Frankly, there’s no real reason (time of the month aside) why I shouldn’t be ready and willing when he is. I try very hard to keep my boyfriend happy and this is a key part of doing so.”

She also admits at the end:

“I’m positive some people reading this will assume I’m a brainwashed and battered woman, and I can’t say I’m all that concerned.”

I don’t think this woman is battered or brainwashed–that lets her off the hook too easy. But you know what? Frankly, m.snowe doesn’t care. Who is this woman that anyone should care? Either her or her boyfriend’s expectations (or a bit of both) are skewed in a scary way. But, hey, people can mooch off of others if they find a willing partner with which to do so (or they lose their jobs in this economy and need to get back on their feet). Whatever. I’ll tell you why m.snowe is a bit angry about this piece–why did the website even publish this? Oh, that’s right, because schmucks like m.snowe will link to it, and it will get traffic, and ad revenue, you get the drift.

And here we go again, in article 2 (my underlining):

“…a lot of women are still wired to be nurturers and care takers and that there should be absolutely no shame in wanting to fulfill those innate desires.”

My innate desire? To flip you off. But I resist, at least electronically, to do so, because no one should listen or care about your ridiculously fonted (what is that, lucida casual?), black-background blog.

Clearly, the NYTimes article has a more interesting story on its hands, and page five (if you can get through the first four somewhat stereotypically exasperating pages about women becoming mommy bloggers) sheds some interesting light on what it means to be a personal blogger, and just how personal you actually get, and how to keep it an enticing read for your visitors. Also, “mommy bloggers”–can you please do me a favor and find a new name for yourselves? Thanks!

So, M.snowe is just saying, go to good blogs, and let’s forget about this mess!

He Blinded Me With Fake Science

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on February 22, 2011

Hey, here’s some interesting stuff for you today. These go out to all our toiling lab rat friends.

A Really good Slate take-down of the NYT Tierney piece on discrimination against female scientists.

“The best scientific way to discover if one factor influences another is to do a controlled experiment. For example, you can give people two identical résumés to evaluate, one with a woman’s name and one with a man’s name. If people rank the one with man’s name higher than the identical one with a woman’s name, you know that they are discriminating on the basis of sex, and nothing else, since you’ve experimentally controlled all the other factors. These experiments, and others like them, have been done. They are described in the PNAS article and the results are clear. Even in fields that are traditionally considered friendly to women, such as psychology and sociology, a woman’s name leads to a lower ranking. As Ceci and Williams say, it is extremely unlikely that this bias is limited to the specific fields that were studied in these experiments. If you want to answer the scientific question of whether there is unconscious bias and discrimination against women, these experimental studies are the gold standard.”

Word.

And here’s another badly written Tierney piece that I hope Slate fashions another take-down of. You would think he’d learn? Someone should do a study of how many times you can incorrectly interpret and present scientific findings.

As we say in the biz, “My hormones made me do it!” Sigh.

Fashion Week: Bahrain

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on February 16, 2011

We now join our commentators live from Pearl Square  for their post-protest runway run-down:

MATTY: Clearly, Giselle, this year, the designers thoroughly prepped their models. The models showed a committed intensity second to none, and weren’t afraid to show emotion. They all decided to go big or go home. And you can bet they didn’t go home. In fact, they’re still out in the city square runway right now.

GISELLE: OMG, Matty, so true. I loved the dark circles around their eyes, as if they hadn’t slept in a bed for days. And the haute couture is out in force tonight on the catwalk, which, incidentally, is made from shellacked protester tent poles and ransacked wooden structure scrap.

MATTY: Tres grunge chic! And did you see that floor-length number from the Al Jazeera line ? You know, the red and white flag that they wrapped, on the catwalk, on the bearded male model?

GISELLE: How could I miss? Beards are so in this year, btw. I mean, really. As are male models–we’re seeing a lot on the catwalk and in the crowds this year. Totally outshining the women.

MATTY: But you know who else is out? Yemen. I mean, one day you’re hot, the next you’re not. Watch out, Tunisia, you’re next, if you keep up that singed, frayed look.

GISELLE: They need to figure out a way to be classic. Like Egypt. I mean, did you SEE those angled hemlines? Umm, Excuse me! The ivory cashmere and lambskin protest signs? What a signature collection of protest vogue!

MATTY: I couldn’t agree more. Glam-O! What about those bold colors and the poufed shoulder pads? Way to put the “rev” in revolution! Gerry–everyone, our producer Gerry!–So Gerry, can you put that live feed from Egypt’s fashion week up on the big screen?

[Gerry mumbles something]

MATTY: You mean, you don’t have a live feed? The internet feed from Egypt is down? Don’t they know there’s a fashion show going on!?

GISELLE: Srsly. Oh well, onward! Guess what else is old yet new again this year? Headscarves! Seriously, these are in everywhere. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but metal grommets are so in too! Grommets are one of the only fashion devices that really say “I’m so serious I’m keeping metal near my body at all times.” You are instantly so tough!

MATTY: Look at them sparkle with insistence! Such an inspiring collection from the Dissidents label.

GISELLE: Okay, Matty, you know what time it is…

MATTY: Time to scrape the fashion roadkill off the runway before it starts to make stink!

GISELLE: Last year, it was Prada Doha that really stunk it up with neutral-on-neutral tops and enlarged tulle hats in the shape of oil spigots. This year, the honor goes to…drumroll please…

MATYY: Mubarak! The glamour of the monarchy and totalitarian states is so last year!

GISELLE: OMG, I could not agree more. I mean, the military color palette and bobbles, along with the knit duffel capes couldn’t be more insulting to fashion. So imperialistic and stiff.

MATTY: All right, Gerry’s waving hysterically and saying something about evacuation. So look’s time it’s time for us to go. Remember–fashion is life! See you all for the next big event–Fashion Week: North Korea!

Lunchable Linkables

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on February 15, 2011

M.snowe provides the following for your relative erudition, or alternatively, shock.

Eileen Miles kicks ass with a really intriguing, stream of consciousness style essay on the disparity of women being published

“But to have such a deep sea change in a culture and keep it you have put the reins of its institutions permanently in other hands and let them stay there. “They” would have to have become “you.” And you (whether you were male or female) would have long concluded that women’s writing is either just writing or no different than men’s or equally interesting, or even better. And that perspective would by now be so embedded in our cultural sense of self that the Times or Harpers or The New York Review of Books would no more likely to be short changing women’s books today anymore than they would pull quietly away from reviewing books written in English in order to uphold a belief that the only good work being written today is by African, South American or Icelandic authors. And think nobody would notice. Reasonable people of course would smile and insist that the NYRB be renamed The New York Review of African Books or South American Books or Icelandic. It would have to happen, the NYRB would have to own their bias eventually, what they were doing, the editor would have to issue a statement or else the publication would become a total joke. But to publish a review today that purportedly reviews “all” books yet in fact is dedicated to the project of mainly reviewing men’s without acknowledging that kind of bias sort of begs the question—the operating presumption must be that “we” “all know” that men’s writing is in fact better or more important than women’s—is the real deal and the only thing disputing this is feminism and since that’s “over” (phew) we are back to business as usual. When I say business I mean that there’s just a whole lot of money talking. That’s what’s going on. The more culturally generous moment we’re all missing (whether it ever truly happened or not) was tied to a booming economy. Men weren’t actually sharing space in the 70s and 80s—the doors just got a little wider for a while. And now that there’s less money to go around in book publishing and the surrounding media it seems like what’s getting shoved out is women.”

Dude be writing a book that tells us women are better. Oh, thanks Dude!

X-rays of women in Corsets! (via the Hairpin).

Not Cool, Minnesota!

Don’t know exactly why, but these models really piss me off.

Tagged with:

A Valentine’s Day Dedication

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on February 14, 2011

Today, M.snowe reflects on Valentine’s Day. V-Day celebrations were said to have started in Ancient Rome, although “pagan” festivals of love and fertility (like Lupercalia) were happening way before that anyway. Let’s face it–Valentine’s is now a day where men are expected to get their ladies (if they have one) a present, and be extra loving to them in showy ways that women are supposed to expect, and brag about (not that you all don’t notice that already). M.snowe witnessed a scene of two desperate males shopping for Valentine’s gifts–walking what seemed to be an endless desert lined with pink and red-hued shop windows, slowly, resolving to reward their efforts with beer afterword. Whatever. And M.snowe doesn’t care if you’re single and hate Valentine’s, or if you’re single and you love Valentine’s, or you’re single and indifferent. Or, if you’re alternatively attached and love, hate, or don’t care about it either. But regardless, consumer culture tells us  Valentine’s is a holiday where women are supposed to sit back and get excited and pampered, and men are supposed to provide something for them, with maybe only the hope of a steak and a BJ in return (not to mention the heavy-handed reinforcement of “traditional” modes of love).

It is days and celebrations like these that further propagate the idea that women cannot do anything without the support of a man, and that the man must take the lead in all situations. Valentine’s is just a simple reminder that men must provide–society expects it. Fuck that shit. In honor of fucking that shit, let’s take a moment to honor a forgotten Valentine, Emily Warren Roebling, who in her own day did the providing, and got next to no recognition for it.

M.snowe went with two American History buffs to the Brooklyn Bridge this weekend. Upon making our first steps across the bridge, they started to swap info on what they knew about its historic construction. Both agreed that it was designed and begun by a civil war veteran, John Roebling, and then after his death, his son took over. M.snowe knew nothing of the history of the bridge, except that is was complete in 1883. When the plaques on the first tower were consulted, we realized that Emily, wife of the son, was truly the one to complete the bridge–as her husband was paralyzed and bed-ridden, and she was well-versed enough in mathematics and engineering to finish the plans. Neither of my history buff friends knew about Emily. Although she is given some credit, the plague reads:

Um, exsqueeze me? I believe her “faith and courage” (not to mention sheer ingenuity) helped HER complete the bridge. She was not a muse here–she was in the thick of it, going to the site and instructing the workers.

Oh, of course, “Back of every great work we can find the self-sacrificing devotion of a woman.” [Sigh]

So, M.snowe says to you, her Valentines, don’t be happy with the back of a great work–be devoted, be sacrificing, if you choose, but build your own bridges, as you may.

p.s. Think I exaggerate? M.snowe heard this weekend about a speaker at a leadership conference who un-ironically referred to his wife’s study towards an “MRS” degree. Really?

Tina Fey is the Vodka I Drink

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on February 8, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, m.snowe knows it has come to such a mainstream point that perhaps it is cliché, but she effing respects Tina Fey–she appreciates her comedy writing (with a few very minor caveats) and admires her as a trailblazer–one of the first female comedy writers to edge her way into corporate upper echelons, and to be heard/respected there.

Okay, enough gushing. But in what m.snowe calls a coup of the New Yorker, Fey has written a short “personal history” piece for them–although it could easily fit under the “shorts and murmurs,” or a “profiles” piece. Woody Allen can just sneeze somewhere in Central Park and the New Yorker shows up, willing to wipe his sodden nose with a filigreed handkerchief and publish the snot (they do the same for Malcolm Gladwell). It’s refreshing that they let Fey have her say, and she says what she needs to in a pithy, cool, and honest four pages.

She basically outlines her struggle with “juggling it all,” being a high-powered writer and comedic performer, being a producer and parent. She does it in a way that m.snowe strives for herself–she stays away from shrillness, but does not blush at the thought of talking in harsh terms about the gendered politics involved in her business. And of course, she’s hilarious.

M.snowe’s favorite line:

“I know older men in comedy who can barely feed and clean themselves, and they still work. The women, though, they’re all ‘crazy.’ I have a suspicion–and hear me out, because this is a rough one–that the definition of ‘crazy’ in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.

The only person I can think of who has escaped the ‘crazy’ moniker is Betty White, which, obviously, is because people still want to have sex with her.”

And after the personal wrestling match, Tina comes to this very worthy, m.snowe-approved conclusion (further acknowledging that she will forever respect Fey):

“This is the infuriating thing that dawns on you one day: even if you would never sleep with or even flirt with anyone to get ahead, you are being sexually adjudicated.”

Word, sister!

And here is the strongest statement of the bunch–the rally call and the manifesto:

“It seems to me the fastest remedy for this ‘women are crazy’ situation is for more women to become producers and hire diverse women of various ages. That is why I feel obliged to stay in the business and try hard to get to a place where I can create opportunities for others…”

Just try and tell me that you do not want to drink that Kool Aid.

Thank you, Tina–keep writing!

Reports of Lady Business

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on February 1, 2011

Every morning, msnowe sweeps through the “papers” (i.e. the online newspapers) to catch at least the bare minimum of the day’s headlines. Today was no exception, except, well, within 15 minutes, between stories of revolt in various Middle Eastern/African countries, there were four different stories, from the NYTimes & NYMag, that she couldn’t help but become obsessed with. In no particular order:

1. Gridiron Girls

2. Wikipedia’s Gender Gap

3. More Conflict in Childcare Equality

4. Porn and Men, But Really How Porn Affects Women

Let me break it down for you.

#1 Gridiron Girls

Article Summary: OMG, women are watching football, and they enjoy it! Even despite the rapists, dog fighters, and reports of brain damage, women represent at least 34% of viewers!

Why is this? Because the NFL is actually filled with “stories.” And women LOVE the “soap-opera aspect of the NFL.” The women loving on football also all watch Real Housewives, Intervention and Jersey Shore, which is basically the same thing. Oh, and they all look like these models.

Analysis: Clearly, it’s those clever marketers tricking women into liking football, the manliest of all manly sports. msnowe won’t underestimate the power of marketing here–perhaps, just perhaps, there are a few women who fit the description this article lays out before us like a play book. But I’ll tell you one thing–you can bring Febreeze and Pink Ribbons to just about anything–but that doesn’t translate into women sitting down and enjoying the damn thing you’re sponsoring. msnowe may only be able to speak for herself, but she watched baseball way before there were any sparkly pink hats available for purchase, and now she still doesn’t want one. The “crude archetypes” of females as clueless twits aren’t really overcome by this article–we’re still treated as though there must be some other hook, some hook other than the pure enjoyment of the thing itself. It’s like the age-old question about the G-spot–it just keeps shifting around to best suit those who need to find it (or it disappears).

#2 Wikipedia’s Gender Gap:

Article Summary: Only about 13% of Wikipedia’s thousands of article authors are women. Isn’t that horrible! No wonder it’s always HIStory–women don’t even bother to contribute, so you can’t say companies, etc., are just being biased–they’re “running up against the traditions of the computer world and an obsessive fact-loving realm that is dominated by men** and, some say, uncomfortable for women.” Of course!

Analysis: msnowe actually perused the report, and let’s remember, folks–this was a sample of the Wikipedia population–a little over 176,000 people responded to the voluntary survey. (msnowe would like to compare this to a survey on how many people of either sex usually respond to surveys). 126,701 men responded to the survey, reporting themselves to be either readers or writers of Wikipedia. Only 42,191 women answered the survey. (904 people did not tick a gender and responded as “Other.”) So right off the bat, you’re starting with a skewed sample. Oh, and this was a world-wide sample. As much as msnowe would like to say that everywhere women are freer and just as educated and able to contribute to Wikipedia in their spare time, they’re not. The leading country that had respondents for this survey? Russia.

But no matter what the article gets wrong, it does say one good thing–more women should write about what they care about on the site.

**”The obsessive fact-loving realm” dominated by men? Sounds a lot like how men describe the NFL in order to exclude women, if you ask msnowe…

#3 More Conflict in Childcare Equality:

Article Summary: This article basically debunks its own premise. You just have to read it carefully.

“Despite those crazy media headlines, Dr. Schoppe-Sullivan explains that the study did not examine the quality of the couples’ relationships or their parenting beyond the two staged videotape periods, or anything about the children’s development; it also did not distinguish between men who took on childcare duties from day one and those who started to do so just prior to the study. But what it does do is add powerful evidence to the idea that childcare task sharing alone does not necessarily correlate with a harmonious co-parenting partnership.”

Analysis: Basically, it means we’re at square one–anyone’s guess. You can be just as un-harmonious if only one parent is taking on the brunt of the childcare grunt work. It’s about finding that compromise between parents, and what works best for your own family. One route doesn’t necessarily lead to martial bliss. The author’s emphasis on “power-sharing” was, well, powerful.

#4 Porn and Men, But Really How Porn Affects Women:

Article Summary: This about sums it up–

“And so a conundrum emerges. Men, over-saturated by porn, secretly hunger for the variety that porn offers. Women, noticing a decline in their partners’ libidos, try to reenact the kinds of scenes that men watch on their computer screens. Men, as a result, get really freaked out. They don’t want their real women and their fantasy women to inhabit the same body.”

Analysis: Ah, the eternal problem: Men objectify women, look at shit-tons of porn. Men lose interest in banging real women who don’t have hydraulic tits. Women scared and worried that men are totes over them, and try to compensate for their flaccid breasts and thighs by throwing in some dirty talk. Chaos ensues. I’m pretty sure Aeschylus wrote about that, a lot.

A. This report is highly anecdotal.

B. msnowe needs to barf.

C. This report assumes that most women don’t watch porn, but then assumes that they can “mimic” porn stars.

D. This report also assumes that women are just objects of your imagination, trying harder and harder to be your fantasy.

E. The whole concept of the article is based on one sexuality counselor/blogger’s notion that more men were complaining of “delayed ejaculation,” on how the author “read about a University of Kansas study that found that 25 percent of college-age men said they’d faked orgasms” (he didn’t even read the actual study it was based on!). Then the author made the intellectual leap that somehow this was connected with porn (because he looks at porn), and then he interviewed…wait for it…DOZENS(!) of porn consumers. Wow, dozens!

F. msnowe would run out of alphabet if she kept going.

G. Oh yeah, and the report is really, really offensive to men, too.

Comments?

Conclusion?:

All these articles were written in the hope of high page views and “most emailed” rankings. And in effect, msnowe is helping that along. In itself, there is nothing wrong with using a snappy title to hook people. But there is something wrong when data is skewed in favor of some imaginary claim that the title makes.

Each of these articles (perhaps with the exception of the childcare equality piece) describes how women are clearly just reacting to something that men are causing them to do–whether it is learning to love football because men decided to give them NFL apparel and pink ribbons, working extra hard to care about the “facts realm” that really only men know how to navigate,  or women noticing men have lost interest and therefore getting raunchy and porn-tastic in the bedroom. msnowe calls bullshit. These are all viewed from what big strong hetero men want or expect from women, or reinforce how men want women to view them. For whatever reason, women who do something that is culturally “male” are encroaching, and no one, especially journalists, will stop from letting us know that this is highly unattractive, or at least try and explain it away.