Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Women need to write their own stories


From my "Don't Get Me Started" files:
Kemone's Sister
(from the Evanston ArtSkills 2000 project)


I've been paying attention to women's and girl's representation in the media for a long time, well before I help found PICTURE THIS Projects in the early 1990s with other women photographers who understood the value of girls and women creating their own images, images about themselves and how they see the world. 


One way we can participate in changing what is considered acceptable portrayals of women is for women to share their own perspectives more directly. 


For women wanting to share, to amplify their voices to help others better understand what they know to be true, but need some guidance, there's The OpEd Project


Medill professor Michele Weldon talks about the October 2011 "Writing to Change the World" seminar on her blog, everywomannews


The next "Writing to Change the World" seminar is January 15, 2012. Michele Weldon is expected to be one of the leaders of that session too in downtown Chicago. Early bird discount ends January 5. Let me know if you go.


Check out Gini Dietrich's recent piece in Crain's, "Time to take the first step to undo the media's ugly portrayal of women," and see if it doesn't resonate with you.


By the way...


I continue encouraging the voices of women and girls in various ways, such as going to see Julia Sweeney at SPACE last weekend. (She did a version of The Talk which killed.) I'm also active in the Association for Women Journalists-Chicago. More than 10 years ago I founded its listserv, which encourages sharing and camaraderie between more than 700 women in journalism. Now immediate past president, after six years on its board, besides serving on its membership committee, I'm doing my part to help with continuing education of women journalists and development of a new outlet for women's media work via AWJ-TV


Watch me now. I'm saying this out loud: I aim to create (or help create) a platform (a show of some kind, perhaps) that will reveal the stories behind scenes in the worlds of journalism and media. It's going slow. Any conversations you want to have with me, any advice you have to offer, will be well-received.  


“The most common way people give up
their power is by thinking
they don't have any.”
~ Alice Walker



  1. I'm a big, big fan of our supporting one another. By nature, we tend to be catty and judgmental so we have to break down those barriers and accept one another. Really great piece on pushing that forward!

  2. I don't think that the problem is getting women to write their stories as much as it is helping them to get the word out there, so that people can read or hear those stories. I wish you would have given some concrete examples of how you would suggest women support each other. Being a journalist and a member of AWJ sometimes feels like a disadvantage when it comes to media coverage for your work. No one wants to be seen as giving favorable coverage to another AWJ member, so it seems like we just kind of ignore each other's accomplishments.

    The OpEd Project sounds really exciting except for the cost. I can't imagine a lot of freelance writers can afford that, especially in this economy, but then it didn't look like a lot of writers attended the workshop in Chicago. A workshop like that with a more reasonable fee would probably be nice, but then it takes me back to the question of how people are going to hear about our stories once they're written.

  3. Oh gosh, I'm a terrible communicator. I entered all these brilliant comments of course and then was sidelined by watching the Ted talk, called, "The Talk," which did totally kill...or as we like to say, those of us from Red Sox nation, It was wicked good."
    And I realized that I really do believe in all these ideals of speaking up and representing oneself well and being aware of being part of a group, a demographic and pool of females...and all that...

    but that at the same time, I also realize that I have no idea any longer what the best way to do that is AND...

    (yes a long ranting sentence) ANd that I think I don't much think in terms of carving the world up into special interest groups who need XYZ to happen in order for life to be good or fair or what ever...

    What if instead of representing any one thing or bring or type of thing or being, what if we just worked for treating all things, all beings with gentleness, kindness, fairness...

    And, what if we stopped thinking of the world in such dualistic terms that despite our best efforts, means that we are presenting ourselves through media of all kinds, through our actions, thoughts and words (back to media again) as if in order for the situation to improve, someone has to give something up, as if fairness for one would negatively impact the scales of justice somehow... If I get some of whatever it is, that means there's less for you. Instead, when life is good for this one, it's also good for that one.

    Instead, no more dual views. Just good, peace, kind treatment, for every single person, being, down to the smallest most invisible part of the universe. Which would of course include girls and women. I
    Call me crazy.

  4. Thanks Hilary, Deborah and Gina. Good stuff. All great points. (Sorry I was slow to reply. Truth is I'm not used to getting comments and not sure I was alerted to them. Guess I'll have to get used to being heard...and others responding.) More soon.