InterviewHer.com

New Site for Women in Business

I recently contributed to a new publication dedicated to women entrepreneurs, called InterviewHer.com. The website features women who own their own businesses and provides tips to other ambitious women who want to pursue their own enterprise.

Many of the women featured run successful companies in publishing, beauty and health trades, while others launched fashion lines, run design firms and opened bakeries.

My first piece covers media expert and author Daisy Whitney who owns her own company and published her first book in a series titled, The Mockingbirds. The feature explains how Whitney started her business in media and includes a review of her debut novel. The author also donated a copy of her book, which readers can enter to win in a sweepstakes. In fact, every woman featured is offered the opportunity to share her products or services with readers as giveaways to readers.

InterviewHer.com covers business owners in major cities like Miami, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale and New York, among others. And, they are looking for new women to interview.

“We’re always interested in learning about exciting ventures and ideas but we can’t do it all on our own. If you are a fellow female business owner, or if you know of any trendy companies in your city that may not be on our radar, let us know!”

If you know a woman who founded and runs her own company, please help us support women in business and include your suggestion in the comments below, or contact InterviewHer.com directly.

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Google Thinks I’m Gay

My Gmail account thinks I’m a lesbian.

You see, I’d be totally cool with a human mistaking my sexuality because it’s not a big deal, but the fact that Google gave me ads targeted to a presumed sexuality is disturbing. Since when is my sex life remotely relevant to the internet?

I mean, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since Facebook has given me fertility and baby advertisements since I changed my status to “married.” And, since Gmail doesn’t know I’m married, but I have Google alerts for “sexism,” “feminism” and “women’s issues,” the email provider made a generalization that I have sex with women.

So being a feminist makes me a lesbian? Does that mean all lesbians are feminists? Wow.

You know, it’s too bad you can’t be a person concerned with issues that affect women without being forced into gender roles, sex and other labels. Why should anyone define themselves by their email usage or Facebook status? Targeted ads are another form of stereotyping.

Let’s be honest, these personalized ads are totally sexist. Why are my sexual habits even coming into play? When men change their status to married, do they get fertility and baby ads? I mean come on, as if my age, family and heterosexuality aren’t pressure enough to have kids, I have to deal with Facebook giving me tips on becoming pregnant, or Gmail encouraging me to come out of the closet?

So what if I have a Google alert for “sexism.” Yeah, people laugh when they hear that, but it’s informative and I need to know exactly what people are seeing, saying and hearing about the topic.

The truth is, both men and women should care about equality whether they read the news, set Google alerts, or pay attention to these subtle cultural niches, because in the end, it will affect them in the work place, at home, in public and in their families — if they are so inclined.

I understand ads are generated by calculated algorithms and these links pay for the free services I use, but there’s a big difference between sponsored ads based on my searches and ads that make assumptions about my personal life.

I don’t want anyone to be defined by their gender, where’s that preference in our Google account settings?

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“Let’s Get Liberated” Like Peggy

On this week’s episode of Mad Men, copy writer Peggy Olson dealt with the new lazy art director, Stan Rizzo, who claimed to only be inspired by nudity.  And, despite the drama of Don Draper’s downward alcoholism spiral, I found that to be the least interesting aspect of this episode. In fact, poignancy derived from Peggy’s story line, which examines women’s self-esteem and how they feel about their self-worth.

Peggy Olson
Image via Wikipedia

From the onset, Peggy’s looks and talent are challenged by Stan — who everyone thinks has great ideas and is attractive. Peggy, who has invested her life in the company and worked her way up to copy writer, begins questioning her abilities because she is often an outsider from the men and women, who gets little praise from anyone in the office — including her boss Don.

In between clips of Don and Sterling scenes, as they search for their own self-worth in the ad world, we see Peggy, after days of trying to stimulate Stan’s creativity while suffering through degrading and sexist comments from him, in complete anguish over Stan’s horrible personality and lack of inspiration. When he decides that she must record his thoughts as he dictates them aloud, he says, “Toots, grab a pencil.”

Bewildered and annoyed, Peggy retorts, “Why don’t you write down my ideas?” (We know the answer to that question!) At this point she is unable to stand his idiocy, so she goes to Don for help.

Lost in his own world of drunken denial, Don doesn’t provide any advice to Peggy and tells her to have the pitch ready on Monday. He suggests that she work around Stan’s idiosyncrasies to get the job done. However, by this time, Stan has insulted her many times, flirted with the secretaries and laid on tables smoking in the office. By the end of the day on Friday, they still have nothing.

In an effort to meet the Monday deadline, Peggy and Stan stay in a hotel room where she tries to generate ideas with him, brainstorming as he flips through the pages of a Playboy.  “Are you gonna work or just stare at pictures of women who can’t stare back?”

Now, if this were a typical, sexist rom-com, the pair would come to find each other attractive after being locked in the room together and fall into bed (and love) as they finished their award-winning ad and Stan takes all the credit, but Peggy’s happy because she has a boyfriend. Thankfully, this is not the case.

Out of frustration (and after he insists that she’s ashamed of her body, or that she should be), Peggy says, “Let’s get liberated,” and begins taking off her clothes in hopes of getting their work done and proving that she’s not what he thinks and can get the job done, no matter the cost. (Click to watch clip here.)

As she strips down naked, he is stunned by her moxie and isn’t able to concentrate on anything except for her naked body as she chats about Vicks cough drops.  Despite all of his insults about her appearance and lack of talent, he is unable to come up with anything but an erection. Despite being in his “creative element,” he concedes to her and hides in the bathroom as Peggy smiles triumphantly.

What’s great about this scene is that she doesn’t kowtow to his chauvinism. I’m never interested in women gaining power through their sexuality, but Peggy keeps things professional and in the end she confirms, for herself, that she is confident, beautiful, hard-working and talented.

Stripping down naked wasn’t about sex or making him want her. She’s not sexually attracted to him, nor does she want him to find her attractive, she merely wants to prove that she believes in herself and she is not ashamed of who she is. As Peggy bares it all, the only thing she is actually revealing, is her own inner strength.

I think the fact that her character is doing this in the early sixties is even more impressive. Now it seems women use their sexuality to gain status, attention, money and power, but for some reason, this scene seemed really about truth and being honest with herself — stripping down all the b.s. of awards, who’s who, appearances, etc.

I wish we could all find the courage to stand up for ourselves and believe in who we are as people — especially women — because we are often taught to shy away from challenges or to be modest of our talents. What other people say, or how other people perceive us has nothing to do with who we are as individuals.

So, take it from Peggy and get liberated — whether that’s telling yourself you’re amazing in the mirror every morning, completing a goal, checking off that last item on your to-do list, or making a statement to the world — whatever the case, do what you need to feel strong, autonomous and true to yourself.

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Do Men Feel Pressure to be Fit?

Last weekend I spent some much needed friend time with two women who are about my age, height and weight. We all wear around the same size clothing and have similar interests in fitness to slightly varying degrees. Yet, when it comes to diet and body image, I was stunned that we all had complaints.

“I should be eating this…”

“My new work out includes…”

“I’m on this diet…”

Image By GoodLife.com, Bola Browne

“I just want to tone my…”

Each one of us, though we are all healthy, felt like we had something to improve about our bodies. I couldn’t help but wonder why so many women who are aware of body image issues and the pressure to be pretty and thin in American culture, are unhappy with the way we look — when most of the men I know, do NOT.

You rarely hear men in their twenties and thirties discussing their need to eat right and work out, or feeling dissatisfied with their looks. And, as this article on magazine marketing points out, you don’t see diet articles geared to men nearly as much as women on the news stand.

So, I ask, what gives? Do men feel pressure to be fit and eat right? Do they obsess over their appearance? Are there things men would like to change about their bodies, but they don’t say it?

Or, is men’s fitness out of style unless you’re an athlete or gay? I know that skinny, hipster chic is popular among some men, but they aren’t talking about trying to be thin, or changing there diet. Are they?

In my opinion, it seems like there’s no pressure for men to be fit because it doesn’t affect their sex appeal. A man can be funny and smart and he’s a catch, even if he’s not conventionally good-looking, but if a woman has the same qualities, she “needs a makeover” so people will be attracted to her “personality.”

I think it’s the “Homer Simpson Effect,” he’s this lazy guy who never works out or eats veggies, but is endearing, so Marge loves him anyway. Meanwhile, Marge is always fit and fussing over her appearance. (I mean, think how long it would take to make your hair look like that!)

Homer is not the only guy who doesn’t care about his looks. In fact, most male characters on TV and in films, don’t talk about their appearance. Except in Eclipse, of course. We all remember Jacob Black‘s famous line to Edward, “I’m hotter than you.”

Image By Men's Health
Image By Men's Health

So,  now we have two men who look completely different– thin, pale and tall, versus muscular, tan and rugged — but both are “fit.” Which one do men want to emulate? Will they follow Taylor Lautner’s work out regimen, or will they look to more athletic types to model like Omar Epps?

And, since there’s been so much publicity over women careening over Team Edward and Team Jacob’s appearance, with Taylor Lautner running around without a shirt, or Robert Pattinson sparkling like diamonds on screen, do men feel the need to hit the treadmill and lay off the burgers?

What do YOU think? Are men pressured by society to be fit too? Or does the Homer Simpson effect just part of America’s obesity problem?

Avoid Fake Tears, Beat Stereotypes

75/365
Image by kharied

“There’s no crying in baseball.”

Boy, was Tom Hanks‘ character in A League of Their Own right. Why is it that women feel it’s o.k. to cry and get their way?

Whether it’s to gain sympathy, from force of habit, or a direct manipulation, I’m so tired of women crying because they think it’s the most effective way to get what they want.

In my opinion, women should avoid crying as a form of persuasion because it reinforces the stereotype that women are sensitive and weak.  And, when women cry to control others, particularly men, they are actually exercising a form of passive aggressive power.

However, this is not a good source of authority. Fake crying is deception. It shows men that women are unable to communicate in a logical, rational and assertive manner.

For example, at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival this year, a friend and I were in the front row against the barrier between the audience and stage for La Roux. When a drunk, pretty woman with attitude picked a fight and then brawled with another woman, I let the guard know that there was a fight going on to prevent others from getting hurt.

When he confronted her, she cried to the male guard that others were picking on her.  Not only was this a lie, she cried to make it seem more real.  What did the guard do?  Absolutely nothing.  He let her stay while she continued to hit people in the face and make a nuisance of herself until she became too violent that the crowd had to squeeze her out.

Instead of doing his job and removing the violent person from the crowd, she took advantage of the guard’s sexist view of women by acting like a victim.  Not only did she deceive him, she ruined part of the show for everyone else — not to mention inflicting some bruises on her fellow concertgoers.

As the surrounding group, we were wise to her fake tears and managed to move her away from us (without hurting her) since the guards refused to do their job.  What bothers me about this situation is not her drunken behavior or the fact that she got physical with the crowd. The frustrating part of this situation is that we all know if she had been a man, she would have been removed with force after mere seconds of a fist fight.

To be clear, I’m not saying women should never cry.  If you feel it and need to show it, go for it. If you aren’t sure how to express yourself in a clear way, the first step is to stop manipulating people and simply state your mind in a polite, but firm way.

When women use tears for persuasion, they reinforce negative gender stereotypes that make the rest of us less credible and communication even more muddled in prejudice.

Plus, fake tears are standard “Terrible Twos” behavior. You wouldn’t let a toddler get away with it, why would you let an adult?

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The Handsome Men’s Club

Handsome Man Club
Handsome Man Club

Since we’re always talking about women and issues of beauty in the media, when my friend posted this amazing video on Google Buzz called “Jimmy Kimmel Takes Us Inside the Secret World of the Handsome Men’s Club,” I thought, I must share this. If you haven’t seen it, the Handsome Men’s Club is a secret society of the most good-looking celebrities whose main concern is looking hot and deciding who’s not.

Now, I won’t spoil the surprise by revealing any names because that’s half the fun in watching it, but let’s just say there’s a nice mix of men that will keep you laughing throughout.

Why is the video so “amazing?” Well, as the eldest and only girl in my family, I can tell you that it’s not just women who care about their looks.  For a laugh at how stupid standards of beauty can be, and and inside look at the secret life of men’s vanity, watch the Handsome Men’s Club.

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Raison d’Être

Cover of "The Female Brain"
Cover of The Female Brain

Are you one of those people who thinks a lot?  The kind who will be standing in line for a coffee, thinking, what does it all mean?  Well, let me tell you, everything means something if you want it to — and — most of time if you are thinking about it, there’s a biological impulse behind it, just like that caffeine craving… at least that’s what this book I read would have you believe.

In my book club, BrookLit, we focus on fiction and non-fiction works by women writers.  Last month we read The Female Brain, by neuropsychiatrist Dr. Louann Brizendine, who analyzed a decade of medical, social and psychological research and then tried to make it interesting for the female brain to read.

Now, since I’m obsessed with all things related to women’s issues and how women function in a world run by men, I thought this book would fuel my feminist thoughts about the concept of gender and nurture over nature.  However, that was not the case after I read this book.

In fact, it was just the opposite. This book provides every excuse for nature over nurture. While it explains the differences between the ways men and women’s brains function, it actually made women seem more ruled by their biology than common sense, logic or maturity.

Suffice it to say, I was disappointed.  Not only did it make women these communication needy beings who need to be liked, it made men out to be these grunting ogres who think about sex and their next fight.  I thought this book would reveal some great insight into the mind and maybe even my own thoughts about what it means to be human.  What I found was something else entirely — mind-numbing brain cramps.

The book breaks down the development of the brain and its hormonal influences from the moment of sexual differentiation in utero to menopause.  However, my age group (you know that age in between puberty and before the child-bearing years) was completely absent, though it was noted in the chart at the beginning of the book as a phase of life in between the teen and prospective mother phases.

And, surprise, surprise, in almost every phase of life covered in the book, women are shown to be driven by their menstrual cycle. While this may contribute to a woman’s mood, attitude or thoughts, there is no way this could be the sole determining factor for our happiness, as she would have us believe.

In fact, since some women:  take birth control, which regulates the bodies fluctuation of hormones; eat differently; have different stress levels; experience varied sleep patterns; take medications; exercise in different amounts; and live in entirely different living situations,  it’s not a fair assessment of who many women are at all.

In addition to the oversimplification of the women’s psyche as a chatty, hormonal mess, it did not include women of different financial status, race or sexuality.  In the section about sexual exploration, there was nothing regarding homosexuality or bisexuality.  So, basically, this book was about heterosexual, white, upper to middle class women.

Wow, that’s not limiting at all to women — oops, I must be letting my hormones get the better of me now.  Maybe in the future I shouldn’t read books that prey on my gentle sensibilities and my under-aggressive brain.  I wonder what Dr. Brizendine would say about sarcasm? Is that my over-developed ability to communicate, or is this why we are here, to refute concepts about who we are time and again?

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