The power of parody: Fotoshop by Adobé

There are few things I love more than a brilliant parody. This spoof commercial, by commercial director Jesse Rosten, shows exactly why plastering media with unachievable ideals of feminine beauty hurt women. Which sounds like a really heavy point to make. But this is fun. That’s the art of really making a point.

Fotoshop by Adobé from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

How NOT to do media relations: Fake-friendly pitches

Just because someone posts something personal online doesn’t mean it’s OK to use that to manufacture a faux-personal connection in order to persuade them to do you a favor.

Case in point: Yesterday a clueless media relations professional whom I do not know sent me an e-mail with the subject line: “I sent a poem to a wannabee crotchety old bitch.” He was alluding to my recent birthday post, in which I reflected on aging.

The comment this person attempted to append to that post — which I did not approve — was the poem When I am an old woman I shall wear purple. That was in itself a mistake, though not a fatal one. If ever there was an overused, reflexive cliche response to any woman who mentions aging in a positive light, that poem would be it.

So this PR guy e-mailed me to let me know he’d tried to post that comment. Here’s the start of his message, and where he really screwed up…

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Reader Discussion Guide Excerpts

I just finished reading a killer classic fiction mashup (literally), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It’s a parody of the Jane Austen novel (which I tried to read in college and found unbearably tedious).

I must admit, though: The addition of a Night of the Living Dead-style zombie plague made all the endless fretting and plotting over how to present  oneself as appropriately marriageable in polite society surprisingly entertaining and understandable.

Because the thing is: The strictures of British aristocratic society — particularly how women were held in chattel status, and the ceaseless power plays of verbal indirection — were indeed nightmarish, soul-destroying, and cannibalistic.

Therefore, I don’t think it’s a stretch to consider this book a seminal feminist treatise. (God knows we need more entertaining seminal works of feminism!)

If you read this book (and I recommend it) don’t miss the reader’s discussion guide at the end. It contains 10 questions. Here are a couple of my favorites…

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The “W list” is great, except it’s a link farm

Holly’s Corner
Many blogs, like this one, have posted the full W-list with links. Is that really a good thing?

Lately there’s been a meme going around called the “W list” — a lengthy list of links to high-quality blogs published by women.

As far as I’ve traced it back, the kernel of this movement began with an Aug. 7 post by PR blogger Valeria Maltoni. But the momentum really picked up when my friend and colleague, the noted PR/marketing blogger Toby Bloomberg, christened an expanded version of the list “the W list” on Aug. 16. Since then, the full list of links has been reposted on many blogs around the world.

The W list was Toby’s response to Ad Age’s Power 150, “a ranking of the top English-language media and marketing blogs in the world, as developed by marketing executive and blogger, Todd Andrlik.” That list was based mostly on quantitative popularity in Google, Technorati, and Bloglines — and it contained very few blogs by women.

Toby’s laudable aim was to bring much deserved attention and “Google juice” to accomplished female bloggers, many of whom are writing for niche communities and so don’t make the kind of numbers it takes to get on Ad Age’s Power 150. I think that’s crucial in any field, since (especially when you’re talking about blogs for a particular niche or industry), the quality of the content usually is far more important than search engine ranking, site traffic, or number of subscribers.

I’m honored that Toby included me on her W list, and I recognize many fabulous bloggers there that are worth checking out. I definitely don’t mean to trash this effort. However, there is a problem with it: I think it’s become a link farm, which could end up backfiring on the bloggers who post the list of links, and perhaps those who are included on it.

Here’s why I’m raising this red flag…

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Could blogs help boys catch up in school?

CleverClaire, via Flickr (CC license)
Could class blogs help motivate boys to catch up in school?

I just listened to the podcast of the July 27 edition of Colorado Matters, a show from Colorado Public Radio. The segment Some Districts Move Toward Gender Education. CPR’s Dan Meyers interviewed Kelley King, Director of Education at the Colorado Springs-based Gurian Institute, which offers gender education training to teachers.

The gist of their discussion was that boys tend to underperform in K-12 education, largely (according to King) because US K-12 teaching approaches have historically been more geared to the way girls tend to learn, get motivated and behave.

King said that one pervasive problem she saw as a teacher and principal in the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) was that “We were having problem getting boys to rewrite and revise something that they’d already written. Once they wrote something, they were pretty much done with it. We realized we had to have something more motivating — which would be bigger audiences, pleasing someone other than just the teacher. …We know that boys aren’t as inclined to just want to please the teacher.”

BVSD experimented with approaches such as having students prepare work that they would read at an assembly, or to older children, and found that this did improve boys’ motivation and performance. Apparently, girls’ performance did not suffer.

This got me wondering about blogs…

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