Gilmore Girls: More Than Junk Food

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First Published in U.S. Catholic, December 2016 Oh, to live in Stars Hollow, where crabby but hunky Luke runs the diner, quirky Kirk holds a long string of peculiar jobs, and a single mother and her daughter can be seen as a legitimate and respectable family. On television and in film, single mothers are too often portrayed as hapless victims, struggling to raise children in the absence of a male breadwinner. Media’s single moms live in dismal apartments in gritty neighborhoods, dress like bags of thrift-shop clothing, and seem wearily defeated by life. They have bad posture, bad hair, and bad luck.  In crime shows, they are either slain in a grisly manner in the first five minutes or are … Read More

Anne With An ‘E’ Gets It Right

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First Published in U.S. Catholic, Dec 2017 Judging by the stories media tell us, boys are the only humans perplexed by puberty. Film and television tales of moving from adolescence to adulthood focus primarily on young men, as though girls did not also lurch awkwardly toward maturity. Think of Boyhood, The Sandlot, Stand By Me, This Boy’s Life, Almost Famous, Big, The Summer of 42, Breaking Away. Building a dramatic narrative around what it’s like for a girl to become a woman is rare. When a program or film defines “becoming a woman” as something complex and nuanced (rather than simply having sex) that is even more rare and delightful.  The 2017 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Netflix series, Anne With … Read More

Silencing The Female Voice: The Cyber Abuse of Women on the Internet

Pamela Hill NettletonAcademic WritingLeave a Comment

For a woman journalist in 2017, working on Twitter entails opening oneself to attacks such as: “I hope you get raped” Just Not Sports, 2016 “You need to be hit in the head with a hockey puck and killed” Just Not Sports, 2016 “You are clearly retarded, i hope someone shoots then rapes you” Hess, 2014 The internet is touted as a democratic space in which nationality, class, race, gender, and sexuality are rendered neutral. However, receiving digital media threats of violence, rape, and murder are daily occurrences for female journalists. Internet harassment of women marginalizes their profes- sional presence online, impinges on their freedom of communication, and, in an echo of outdated and retrograde domestic violence attitudes, is minimalized … Read More

Urban Presence

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The Visitation Sisters of North Minneapolis model gentleness and humility while living as a spiritual presence in a marginalized urban community. It looks like just another house on just another block in just another American neighborhood. Tidy hostas line the walkway to the front door, pretty wicker chairs are circled on the front porch, and the doorbell chimes in a familiar four-note melody. The sweet-faced, gray-haired women who answer the door look familiar, too: They might be AARP members, someone’s great aunts, or even just friendly next-door neighbors to anyone in any city. They greet callers with warm smiles and understanding nods, sometimes dispense a lemon bar or a glass of water, and love to hear the news about who’s … Read More

Art: Revealing the Us In The Other

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It is not a passive thing to sit in the audience. It is also not a safe thing. We file in, avoiding eye contact and clutching tickets. We sort ourselves into aisles that are lettered and numbered in illogical fashion, we search for but can’t spell mezzanine, and we politely share the armrests as though nothing transformative is about to happen and as if we will emerge in two hours utterly unscathed. But we were wrong. When the curtain rises or the dancer enters or the baton drops or the singer exhales – if it is good art, and heck, sometimes even if it is bad art – the cacaphony of the disparate lives of 200 or 400 or 1,200 … Read More

Remembering Roger Ebert

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First Published in U.S. Catholic, August 2017 He was perhaps the most beloved American film critic ever, but that is not what Roger Ebert thought he wanted to be. The way Ebert tells it, he imagined a career as a columnist, something along the lines of being a Mike Royko. Instead, Ebert’s boss at the Chicago Sun-Times, Bob Zonka, announced in 1967 that Ebert would replace the paper’s retiring film critic, Eleanor Keen. Ebert’s life course was set.  From that day until his death in 2013 of cancer, Ebert filed review after review and book after book, relentlessly chronicling American film making over six decades. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism for his film reviews of 1974, … Read More

Women’s Work

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A cancelled series reveal the fight for women’s pay equality is still underway. Once upon a time, in 1969, women weren’t “allowed” to wear slacks at the office. This wasn’t for modesty – miniskirts and tight dresses were fine, 9-5. The dress code was to keep gender difference clearly delineated, as in the classic insult to assertive wives: “She wears the pants in that family.” When the chino ceiling finally cracked in office buildings across America, women could wear trousers in public, but only if they also wore a matching jacket. The female pantsuit was born. In the 1960s women were paid roughly half of what men earned, about 59 cents for every dollar a man took home. Fifty years … Read More

Who Runs The World?

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In CBS drama Madam Secretary, patriarchy matters a little less. Madam Secretary (CBS, in its third season) breaks bold new ground in media portrayals of women leaders: Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord’s friends, family, colleagues, and even the President of the United States treat her as if, in fact, she can lead. On television and in film, when women are running corporations or countries, they are often portrayed in ways that reinforce tired stereotypes and fears bout female leadership. Women in power are cast as unnatural, devious villains (Glenn Close’s Patty Hewes in Damages) or unnatural icy machines (Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood in House of Cards) or unnatural, brittle witches (Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada). Unnatural is the key word. … Read More