Friday Double Dose: Condi, Jane Eyre, Women in Film, Feminist Art and More

By Christine Cupaiuolo — January 19, 2007

Of Condi, Rush & Feminism: Tara Lohan writes that the best commentary she’s seen on this sad and absurd situation comes from Elijah Emily Nella.

Winning for Best Title: “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! This mottled neck has got to go.” In the battle between feminism and femininity, women are their own worst enemies, writes Shelley Page in The Ottawa Citizen.

20 Movies and TV Series Later …: “Jane Eyre” may not be the first feminist novel, but it is certainly one of the most enduring,” writes Alessandra Stanley in this literary analysis and review of Masterpiece Theater’s “Jane Eyre,” a two-part series that will air this Sunday and next on PBS.

Women Over 40 Steal the Lights: Writing in The Observer (UK), Jason Solomons considers Hollywood’s new first ladies:

The Oscars have always been a popularity contest but in recent years the Academy has been particularly keen to reward youth over experience, which has not been difficult because it has long been the case that there are few substantial roles for women once they hit 40. Now, it seems, moviegoers and voters have decided that it might be time for a change.

“I think it’s fantastic for all these women, especially Helen Mirren. The Queen is a beautiful film about a woman that is not about her sexuality or being naughty. But it is about a serious adult player on the world stage,” says Ariel Levy, the American author of Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. “I like to think that audiences crave depictions of women as complicated human beings. With every passing year as women make more progress, it becomes preposterous that movies don’t capture women in their full humanity or cover their lifespan. If you were a Martian and came down to watch a Hollywood movie you would think all women dropped dead at 45.”

The Oscar nominees, by the way, will be announced Monday, Jan. 23.

Be Ugly Campaign Much More than Skin Deep: Mary McCarty of the Dayton Daily News knows it’s a marketing ploy, but she’s still encouraged by the “Be Ugly in 2007” campaign tied to the Emmy-award-winning TV series “Ugly Betty.”

If you visit the Web site at, you’ll see ABC’s Ugly Betty holding up a sign: “Be Real/Be Smart/Be Kind/Be Honest/Be True To Yourself.”

Here’s the “Be Ugly” manifesto: “It’s a fact that society has an unfair and unrealistic definition of beauty, but many people still struggle daily to achieve it. What’s the result? Most of us continue to feel less than beautiful.”

When was the last time our daughters got that message?

In a Jane Austen novel, probably. They’d be hard-pressed to find it anywhere in our popular culture, even in supposedly highbrow magazines.

Art, Gender and Agency: “Is there such a thing as ‘women’s art’? Do we any longer need to think of women as a special group? Should there be a prize for women artists?” asks Iwona Blazwick in The Guardian. She continues:

For many, the terms female and male are simply cultural. They may also seem dangerously binary and — in the context of prizes or exhibitions such as a forthcoming show celebrating Margaret Salmon, the first winner of the MaxMara art prize for women at the Whitechapel — likely to create a ghetto of Otherness, a special pleading that supports the old patriarchal order.

At least 50 per cent of art students are female. Why is it that over the 19 years of the Turner prize, only three winners have been women? At least 50 per cent of architectural students are female. Why is it, then, that the architectural profession remains dominated by men? Why in the world at large are there so few women leaders? And why is it that, in the 21st century, violence continues, as artist Barbara Kruger depicted in an installation at the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art in 2005, to “kill or incapacitate more women aged between 15 and 40 worldwide than cancer, malaria, accidents and war combined”. Most would agree that we should not define ourselves in terms of gender, but the context in which we live and work remains profoundly structured by it.

Is “Quick” Enough?: Are health clinics at stores like CVS, Wal-Mart and Target good for your health? Writing in the Washington Post, physician Ranit Mishori looks at the pros and cons.

Also from the Post, an AP story on the first national studies to tally hospital charges related to birth defects — $2.5 billion per year.

Low-Dose Pill = Higher Pregnancy Rates?: Kaiser reports on a Wall St. Journal story available to subscribers only about pregnancy and the pill:

FDA in documents released Thursday announced it is reconsidering its standards for reviewing the failure rate of new oral contraceptives with lower doses of estrogen and progestin, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the Journal, higher pregnancy rates in studies of new low-dose oral contraceptives have instigated the agency to reconsider what represents an “acceptable failure rate” for new drugs. The agency uses a measurement called the Pearl Index, which calculates a contraceptive’s failure rate by measuring the amount of time women are exposed to a given product and the number of unplanned pregnancies that result.

According to FDA documents, the agency in the 1970s set a policy that it only approved oral contraceptives with failure rates less than 1.5 per 100 “woman-years,” or the number of years a woman has used the drug. FDA has recently approved some pills with failure rates of more than two per 100 woman-years, the Journal reports.

More Work Needed to Improve Lung Cancer Care — Particularly in Women: So say leading researchers and health advocates in the January issue of the journal Lung Cancer. Lung cancer, which is responsible for 30 percent of all cancer deaths for men and women, kills more women annually than breast, ovarian and uterine cancers combined.

“Emerging data indicates that there are differences between women and men in lung cancer susceptibility and prognosis,” said Sherry Marts, Ph.D., one of the report’s authors and vice president of scientific affairs for the Society for Women’s Health Research. “Based on the trends we are seeing, it is important to explore these differences and develop new treatment options that are appropriately responsive to factors such as sex and gender. That will lead to better care for all patients.”

Scrubs Does Good by Mothers: TikVah Girl explains why the NBC series “Scrubs” is her new hero:

The storyline essentially followed Carla from the moment she came home with her beautiful baby — you know, the time when we mom’s are supposed to be blissed out and beautiful, wallowing in o-so-natural mamahood?

Except she wasn’t. She was a bawling, sad pile of mess. And her husband, to the writers’ credit, was not clueless and stupid or neglectful and frustrated. He kicked it into high gear – he immediately encouraged her to get help, go see a doctor, and continually told her it was normal to have those feelings. When she protested it was just “the weepies”, he assured her it seemed more like postpartum depression.

Ahhh, knowledgeable television. I know I seem overly excited about this. But here’s the thing. Towards the middle of the show when she was really, really losing it and clearly could not cope, her husband and his colleague – himself with a wife that had suffered through PPD- conspired to get them together so that Carla could hear firsthand that PPD was not only normal but common – from another mother!!

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