What’s “Strength” in the 21st Century?

NEWSWEEK Cover (2/23/09)“Our Model Marriage” in NEWSWEEK (2/23/09–page 59)

     Last week, I responded to Kim Voynar’s critique of “my SLUMDOG Brouhaha” by invoking “the Zeitgeist,” exemplified for me by a magazine cover photo of Michelle Obama captioned: “Alongside every great man…”

     Yesterday I got my new NEWSWEEK which includes a full page article on the Obamas called “Our Model Marriage” concluding as follows: “Barack’s unguarded moments once led Slate’s Melinda Henneberger to ask ‘whether a husband who not only bows to his wife but admits it conforms to our notion of … strength.’ For millennials inspired by the first couple’s modern marriage—a group that sees greater strength in celebrating domestic equality than concealing it—the answer is apparently yes.”

     Some people have rejected my requests for support because I couldn’t prove to them that Loveleen Tandan did “at least 50%” of the directorial work on SLUMDOG.  Frankly, this makes no sense to me, because I simply don’t believe that creative contributions can ever be measured with that kind of precision—in art or in life.

     Here’s my bottom line: Since no one will ever know for sure what SLUMDOG would have been like if Loveleen Tandan had not participated beyond her role as Casting Director, it seems prudent to acknowledge her contributions to this extraordinarily popular film and reward her accordingly during the awards process (especially given Oscar’s abysmal statistical record to date).

     While I’m at it, I’d also like to give a shout out to Hunter College Professor Steve Gorelick (creator of the blog Media & Mayhem):

     A few minutes ago, I was moved to again watch the video from the Women’s Resource Center that shows just how much vile and persistent sexism was on display during this year’s presidential primary campaign… As I watched the video, I found myself yelling (all the plentiful expletives have been deleted): “Don’t these idiots have daughters, lovers, wives, or mothers or any other women whose future they care about? Is this the message they will send: Try hard, honey, but don’t be stubborn. Don’t be pushy.”

     OK, so yes, maybe I’m “stubborn” and maybe I’m “pushy,” but if so it’s because I have nieces and women friends of all ages, & yes, I really care about their future!!!

     My thanks to Steve, & thanks also to Google Alert for grabbing Steve’s reference to Jane Addams & pulling him up into my eBox! 

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  1. Avatar
    • Steve
    • February 19, 2009

    Well how kind and thoughtful to mention my blog. It actually rarely addresses feminism, but the post you mentioned was fueled by having been raised by a feminist mom, being married to the former faculty director of a university-based gender studies program, and having an uncommon Dad who — more than any man I have ever known — finds misogyny to be viscerally disgusting. He may be the most instinctive feminist I know. I remember him giving my Mom The Feminine Mystique.

    My feminism is NOT intended to look cool and iconoclastic. I radically detest any human being who would, even in the most subtle and nuanced ways, play the male privilege card for any purpose.

    Oh yeah, I know about the male card because it has been offered to me countless times. The raw material of my feminism has been the countless times, none of them forgotten, when some vile macho jerk “confided” in me the availability of some privilege or shared some woman-hating attitude or story.

    I also served as a Vice President to a woman University President and had perhaps the best seat I will ever have to watch how many hateful woman haters often masquerade as enlightened feminists. They could talk the talk, but when push came to shove, they may have been the most aggressive promoters of the old boy network.

    But enough. I love the hot pink pen.

  2. Avatar
    • jan
    • February 19, 2009

    I recognized someone “sympatico” as soon as I started reading your post, Steve — even before I got to the Jane Addams part! You’re proof of my theory that many of Feminism’s very best friends have been “men of conscience.” Read my interview & I’m sure you’ll agree that Danny Boyle is a great guy too. It’s the system (especially AMPAS’s current rules) that I’ve targeted (along with all those who grasp at straws & deny the obvious so they won’t have to DO anything to help create change).

    Steve, by the power vested in me as “a good Jewish girl from New Jersey,” I hereby dub thee “mensch.” Arise, Mensch Steve 🙂

    Best always,

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