Tag Archives: blogging

Thanks, Critics

This week for Role/Reboot, I’ve been thinking about why I keep writing in that community, why I’m such a “sharer” (as opposed to, say, a diary keeper). One of the things I’ve landed on is gratitude for my critics. If you read this post about blackface back in October, you’ll be familiar with this theme, but I decided to elaborate with a thank you note to my harshest critics:

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Related Post: When commenters help parse my thoughts about Beyonce

Related Post: How I feel when I write outside my wheelhouse

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Filed under Media, Republished!

Straw Poll? Rosie on the Regular

I’m kicking around the idea of a weekly Rosie Says newsletter to share links to essays, blog posts, events, videos, etc that, for whatever reason, I didn’t discuss in depth on this blog. Picture the Ann Friedman Weekly, if you are lucky enough to get that every Friday, but with a Rosie/Chicago twist.

So the question is, would any of you guys be up for this? Here’s a link to sign up for a little mini-pilot. If people like it, we’ll keep doing it, if not, eh, this is certainly not my worst idea (have I told you about my plans to make puzzles that, when you dump them out, all land with the right side facing up?)

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Americanah + Their Eyes Were Watching God

their-eyes-were-watching-god-zora-neale-hurston-paperback-cover-artIf you follow me on Twitter, you recently absorbed a barrage of book quote tweets with either the hashtag #Americanah or #TheirEyes. I didn’t intend to read Americanah and Their Eyes Were Watching God back to back, but now looking over the quotes I loved and the fervor with which I attempted to devour both books, it seems like an intentional choice.

If you haven’t rad Americanah yet, get on it already. This is Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s new one about Ifemelu, a brilliant, sharp-eyed young Nigerian woman who moves to the United States rather than trying to wade through the lethargy she finds in the aristocratic circles of Lagos, and Obinze, her adolescent boyfriend who tries to make a life in the UK. The writing is just flat out phenomenal and totally on-point, especially when Adichie turns Ifemelu’s eye to describing all manner of methods that women use to navigate the world:

“How important it was to her to be a wholesomely agreeable person, to have no sharp angles sticking out”

“Basking in the attention her face drew while flattening her personality so that her beauty did not threaten”

Americanah has thus far been, deservedly, drawing the most attention for its commentary on race relations in the United States. As a Non-American black person, Ifemelu approaches the knotted web of race politics with the dual lenses of insider and outsider. From that vantage point, she writes a blog documenting her observations about the peculiar and particular ways Americans of all colors attempt to engage with our history and our present. For me, I was drawn to Ifemelu as a narrator not for her racial commentary, but rather for her embodiment of the perils and pitfall of 21st century ambitious, educated ladyhood. What to do with all those smarts? What is useful to the world, and what is self-indulgent? Is self-indulgence bad? How much do we compromise for people that we love? How much do we take from our parents and how much do we leave behind? How do you make a life for yourself, and make it one that you are proud of?

Somehow, in the course of my liberal Massachusetts education, I zipped right by Zora Neale Hurston’s epic love story about Janie and Tea Cake, the mad dog, and the muck of the Florida everglades. Coming off the high of Americanah, so explicitly about a woman finding her authentic voice, Their Eyes was an incredible way to deepen that conversation.

If I ever teach a lit class, there will most definitely be a midterm paper assignment on these two books together. If you were recommending pairings of classic work with contemporary fiction, what would be on your list?

Related Post: Mapping the books I read and where I read them

Related Post: Live blogging my reading of Lean In.

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Filed under Books

Everything is About Everything: New Media + Old Media

For book club, we recently read Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, a modern, bromantic, technologically-obsessed, Google-worshipping fantasy adventure in which millennial heroes and heroines are obsessed with the idea of Old Knowledge (aka OK). I’m kind of obsessed with Old Media (OM?), specifically it’s intersection with New Media (NM), and TBD Media (TBDM). I think this is a fascinating question:

OM + NM + TBDM = ?????

The combination of Old Media and New Media happens to be in vogue right now. If OM = books, TV, movies, music and NW = Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogging, etc., we already have lots of neat examples of these things working together. I’m having fun with mind-mapping right now, so….

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Click to Enlarge

  • The Bling Ring – Sofia Coppola’s strange new movie about a band of overprivileged teenagers who break into celebrity homes uses screenshots of Facebook, sequences devoted to the taking of selfies, and texting as avenues to explore the meta “Pics or it didn’t happen” mentality of the youth (self included).
  • House of Cards – Netflix’ original (and now Emmy-nominated) political intrigue-a-thon incorporates on-screen text messages over images of characters in their own locales. Old school political mastermind Frank Underwood uses new school journalist Zoe Barnes to channel her demographic access into viral and conniving campaign messages.
  • Americanah – The new novel from Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie  is about a young Nigerian couple who follow separate paths (her to America, him to the UK) before reuniting in Lagos decades later. The protagonist, Ifemelu, writes a blog about race from the perspective of a non-African-American black person that becomes famous. Excerpts from her blog are incorporated into the book, and her online presence is treated as a fundamental piece of identity (as many of us now consider it to be).

The real interesting question, of course, is what happens when OM meets NM meets TBDM. What is TBDM anyway? Well, it’s obviously things we haven’t even created yet. Will our media become more multi-sensory? Will we control the stories we watch or be actors in them? Will the idea of created media devolve so heavily that we’ll all just read/watch real life as it happens a la Truman Show? What do you think?

Related Post: Past experiments with mind mapping

Related Post: Quadrant games!

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Filed under Books, Hollywood, Media

Maslow and Feminist Privilege

I first learned about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in a high school marketing class. The traditionally pyramid-shaped diagram illustrates a psychological theory on how people prioritize their needs. First comes the basics (food, water, shelter), followed by safety, then companionship/ friendship/love, then self-esteem and confidence, and finally self-actualization. In wildly oversimplified terms, Maslow is suggesting people don’t pursue the higher tiers of need until the lower ones are satisfied.

Why am I talking psychology today? A series of comments, essays (like this one from Tiger Beatdown), and really smart friends who make really excellent points are causing me to reconsider what I wrote last week about Hugo Schwyzer. Let me clarify, I still do not, in any way, support the vilification he has withstood these last two weeks, nor do I think the vitriolic tone of his haters is justified.

I’ve been thinking about my feminism, Hugo’s feminism, and other people’s feminism in the context of Maslow’s hierarchy. I’m white, straight, able-bodied and well-educated. I was born into the first three, and the last one is directly related to a familial history of privilege (not money, but race). That’s a whole lot of privilege.

When I think about my personal feminism, I can pretty safely jump the first three tiers of the Maslow pyramid and spend my time worrying about confidence, self-esteem and self-actualization. My basic needs are met. My sense of personal security is intact (in the sense that while, yes, being female I am risk from different types of violence than men, I do not live in a state of fear or in a place where my gender expects violence). My friends and family are present and engaged in my life.

When I write about my own feminist concerns, I write about things like being afraid of math, Barbies and body image, or casually discriminatory comments in the workplace. I write about these things because that’s what’s on my mind, and that’s what’s on my mind because I don’t have to think about finding food, paying my rent, protecting my family, or convincing people that I am a smart, useful person (mostly). I can wax poetic about sexual liberation and SlutWalk with a degree of nonchalance that women of color can’t without confirming hypersexualized stereotypes that persist after hundreds of years.

So, on to Hugo. He has, I’m sure he would admit, even more privilege than I do. Lots and lots of it. I think what many of the haters are expressing (poorly), is resentment that his inherent privileges grants him a leadership role in a movement that is about equalizing the playing field. It’s hard to believe that someone would work towards a movement that would undermine the very advantages that enabled him or her to be successful.

Then there’s the separate question of who gets to speak for who. Part of the fundamental problem is that privileged people like me and Hugo have easiest access to the tools to voice our issues. Tools like English skills, college degrees, internet access, time on our hands to write to you people on the internet. People who are still striving for the first two tiers of the Maslow pyramid don’t exactly have time to blog….

I don’t have answers, but I do know that I don’t believe that privilege disqualifies one from the conversation of inequality. How one tempers one’s privilege, or qualifies it, or cites it in every other sentence or not at all, is a whole big can of worms for another day.

Related Post: Alice Walker on SlutWalk.

Related Post: A guest post on OWS, privilege, and opening up a conversation.

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Filed under Gender

The Most Self-Aggrandizing Post Yet

I did a little recap post around the new year, crunching numbers on this blog experience, and sharing some thanks with people that have pushed it along.

This is a different post and it took a little more pondering before it was ready to share. This post is about all of the things I’m really proud of writing in 2011. These are pieces that incited some internet haters (including one who hopes I get herpes), linked me up with fascinating people, or sparked some interesting conversations and counterarguments. Most of them are dear to my heart simply because the journey from hazy inkling in my brain to coherent explanation of my world view was particularly long and treacherous, and therefore more rewarding:

The Best Things I Wrote Last Year (in my very biased opinion)

So there you have it. Shameless plugs, all of them, but if you enjoyed reading any of them half as much as I enjoyed writing them, then I’ll call 2011 a big success.

Related Post: The very first post on this blog!

Related Post: The best things other people wrote in 2011, parts 1 and 2.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Happy Birthday?

I missed my blogiversary! Shows you how much I was paying attention…. Turns out, it was December 22nd! Now you know, and believe me, next year I expect gifts.

Total Posts: 373

Most Commonly Used Tags: gender, body image, politics, Chicago, books, Hollywood, television, Good Men Project, advertising (Sounds about right, eh?)

Categories: Given that this is ostensibly a blog devoted to the Venn diagram of Sex/Gender, Media, and Politics, I’m pretty pleased with these stats:

  • 45% of posts were categorized as “Media”
  • 38% of posts were categorized as “Gender”
  • 24% of posts were categorized as “Politics”
  • 26% of posts were categorized as “Sex”
  • (math should make this obvious, but posts can be in more than one category)

Best Commenters (who receive all the thanks in the world): Sharon, Stephanie, Kim, Lynnette, A Morning Grouch 

Guest Posters (for whom I am eternally grateful):

Related Post: How biased am I?

Related Post: The best things I read on the interwebz, 2011

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Filed under Guest Posts