The connection between Orphan Black and the #YesAllWomen hashtag movement

I was reading the #YesAllWomen posts and they got me thinking about the show Orphan Black. For anyone who hasn’t seen the show it’s about women clones (played by the fabulous Tatiana Maslany) and their fight for a voice and ownership over their minds and bodies. I believe that is the crux of the show and the creators, writers and actors have alluded to this in numerous interviews. One of the creators Graeme Manson has said that a story about women clones is far more interesting than a show about male clones.

See these articles about the show for more on the issue of ownership of women’s bodies

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/television/2014/04/season_2_of_orphan_black_starring_tatiana_maslany_reviewed.html

http://www.nerdist.com/2014/05/the-orphan-black-radical-why-every-clone-club-needs-its-helena/

http://www.bbcamerica.com/orphan-black/2014/05/12/hive-recap-governed-chance/3/

http://www.bustle.com/articles/4553-orphan-black-star-tatiana-maslany-relates-clone-body-ownership-to-the-modern-woman

Each clone on Orphan Black has been used by their creator and until recently didn’t have autonomy over their movements and decisions because of who raised them and the monitors that were employed to keep track of them. Now that they know each other and are finding out about their origins they are becoming empowered and fighting back. By banding together to share information and fight for each other they are showing the power that women have when they are in control even when outside forces are still trying to claim ownership over their bodies and minds. That’s why I love the show…because it empowers women to think and act for themselves and not be controlled by the men and sometimes women around them.

How does this connect to the #YesAllWomen hashtag movement?

The #YesAllWomen hashtag movement stemmed from the recent mass shooting at near the University of California Santa Barbara campus because of the vitriolic Youtube rantings that surfaced of the alleged shooter blaming women for all of his problems. This resulted in thousands and thousands of tweets including mine of instances where we’ve been maligned, harassed, censored, scared, and/or assaulted/raped. (One way where I fall into this category is the fact that I still don’t feel comfortable using my real name or image on twitter for fear of retribution due to the things I say and the people I follow)

For women’s entire lives we are taught that we have to take precautions in order to stay safe in and outside our homes/schools/workplaces/transportation as well as how to dress or react to comments made by men and in some cases other women.

Which gets me to the issue of how women are treated in all aspects of society as well as how women see themselves in society.

How many women raised in conservative religious movements have been told that they have to submit to the men in their lives a la Michelle Duggar and their ilk?

How many women have had to face an employer that asks whether they will be starting a family soon?

How many women have lost their lives just for the right to leave the house, go to school, vote, go out unchaperoned, hold political office?

How many women were taught that how they dressed would determine how they are treated by the world?

How many women have been told to wait their turn in school or the work world?

How many women in the media have been dismissed due to their opinions, education, world experience?

This all begs the ultimate question. When will women be treated as equals everywhere? I fear that it will not happen in my lifetime (I’m 43) and that is sad and tragic.

Oscars 2014- when Hollywood finally found diversity (just a little)

It’s been 86 years since Hollywood first gave out awards to honor their own and until last night there hasn’t been near enough diversity among nominees and winners. Hollywood still has a lot of work to do not only in movies but also in television, however, last night was a good start. See this article for more information http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/03/oscars-diversity_n_4889293.html?utm_hp_ref=entertainment. (Full disclosure I am a white lesbian so I to these issues from two marginalized groups while also being a part of a majority group)
I blame the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the lack of diversity since 94 percent of the members are white while 6 percent are members of other racial groups and 77 percent of members are male while only 23 percent are female. Also, they are overwhelmingly older which translates into a lack of understanding of the multicultural world that we live in today. As for television the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences that votes for the Emmy’s has the same problem. If membership in these two organizations keeps skewing white and male and execs at movie studios and television networks keep putting media out that doesn’t represent the world around us they will lose out to the web. Look at how the Veronica Mars movie got made. Producers, writers and directors are increasingly bringing content directly to the web so their stories can get told without studio and network influence. The ability to get financing via Kickstarter and other means has also freed up creators in ways that society is only beginning to grasp.
Last night the Academy showcased a group of young filmmakers (3 women and 3 men) from colleges around the country and what struck me was their diversity. This is what the country looks like and what the Academy needs to work towards. See this article for more about them http://www.arabnews.com/news/532306. I hope the new Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first African-American president, stays strong and commits to diversity among the membership of the Academy.
Also, a study was recently done that showed among the Oscar nominated films male leads averaged 85 minutes of screen time, while female leads averaged only 57 minutes. One only has to look at television credits to see how many males are on shows VS females. One network that reverses these numbers is ABC Family with their female fronted shows Switched at Birth, The Fosters and Pretty Little Liars.
While I take issue with a Woody Allen movie being recognized by the Academy (due to Dylan Farrow’s molestation accusations- which I believe BTW), I did appreciate Cate Blanchett calling out Hollywood to make more female fronted films. They should take note of the fact that The Hunger Games-Catching Fire (with Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role) was the highest grossing film of last year. The movie also passed the Bechdel test which should be an important part of how films are constructed.
They say that culture moves society faster than legislation and the courts and if that’s the case we still have a long ways to go regarding representation in movies and TV. I hope that the next ten years sees a sea change in representation similar to the advancements that the LGBT community has made since former President Bush waged a war on my community with his call for a ban on same-sex marriage across the country in 2004.

Why visibility and representation matters!

I’ve been away for quite some time doing some soul searching about the direction I want to take this blog. I will continue to talk about LGBT issues as they relate to pop culture and politics, however, I will also be expanding my reach to include representation of women and POC in all areas of life.

As I’ve been reading online articles and blog posts its becoming clear to me that unless we continue to speak out places like twitter will get away with not having any women on its board of directors (they finally added one woman to their ranks late last year but it took people pointing it out for twitter to make that change). Business, politics and the media are still mostly run by white straight men and unless we speak out things won’t change so I will be dedicating this space to that effort. I hope to be a catalyst for change so young people can focus on other things when they get older.

Stay tuned for my first official blog post of the new year in the next few days. Think Hollywood and award season. Also, you will still hear from me about my latest pop culture obsessions.

The Fosters on ABC Family, marriage equality and visibility

On the second episode of The Fosters a conversation took place between Lena (one of the mom’s on the show) and one of the new foster kids that Lena and Stef (Lena’s partner) took in. Jude (the foster kid who is 12) asked Lena if she was married to Stef. Lena explained that they weren’t legally married, however, they were married in their own hearts. Jude commented that being married in their hearts is the same thing. Now I don’t expect a 12 year old boy to be able to grasp all of the ways that his statement was false on a legal front. I am glad that the show addressed the fact that since they live in San Diego and same-sex marriage isn’t legal in California because of Prop 8 that their relationship will never be treated the same way as an opposite sex couple’s marriage is treated.

This brings me to the current debacle going on in Illinois regarding marriage equality. The IL House, specifically Rep. Greg Harris (who is openly gay and the bill’s sponsor) didn’t call the vote for marriage equality on May 31st as promised. In numerous conversations with LGBT leaders since the IL Senate voted to approve marriage equality I have gotten nothing but encouraging news that the bill had enough votes and that it would pass. I am so disappointed with LGBT leaders in IL since I did my part to reach out to my state representative Alan Turner who eventually came out and said he would vote yes on the bill. Recently, I read a great editorial hereĀ http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/EDITORIAL-Marriage-and-Equality-A-Way-Forward/43240.html and I agree wholeheartedly with what Tracy Baim had to say.

In her editorial Tracy explains that the only way forward is through grassroots activism. Another example of grassroots movement that worked was when American women got the right to vote.

Without the likes of Alice Paul, Lucy Burns and other members of the National Women’s Party protesting outside of the White House (during World War I when Wilson was president) demanding the right to vote with signs that said “We women of America tell you that America is not a democracy. Twenty million women are denied the right to vote. President Wilson is the chief opponent of their national enfranchisement” we wouldn’t have gotten the right to vote in 1920. They got arrested and were sent to Occoquan workhouse. Alice went on a hunger strike and the prison officials force fed raw eggs to her so she would stay alive. That action along with continued protests and media coverage shamed the Wilson administration to act. If it were left up to the likes of Carrie Chapman Catt (who spent time currying favor with Wilson and who disagreed with Paul and Burns tactics) we would’ve waited even longer for the right to vote.

We need the same kind of commitment now to achieve full LGBT equality nationwide.