Editor’s Note: Below Amy’s post is the press release from The New Agenda.

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The New Agenda, presided over by the incomparable Amy Siskind, has just put out another video in their series of “Searching for Sexism.” Now, personally, I don’t think we have to look very far at all for signs of sexism in this culture. They are all around us, in our commercials, in our tv shows, in the news (e.g., constant sexist attacks on powerful women, not the media reporting sexism), in our schools, and in our families. In Episode Three, The New Agenda focuses on the role models (or lack thereof) our teenage girls are seeing, what they are experiencing in their dating relationships, and what they are doing to their bodies in an attempt to live up to an unachievable standard of “beauty.” Please watch:



Almost a year ago, I wrote a piece about violence against women, particularly in terms of teenagers, “This One’s For The Girls.” The great country singer, Martina McBride, created “My Time To Shine,” a project in conjunction with “Love Is Respect” for girls and women. McBride teamed with this organization in response to the rise of domestic violence in teenage relationships as one in three – 1 in 3 – girls suffers violence at the hands of their boyfriends. That is a harrowing, and unacceptable statistic. It is to that statistic, as well as to eating disorders, and the misogyny inherent in so much of our culture, that Amy Siskind and The New Agenda, created their video series.

And it is to the misogyny and sexism on display in our media that “Killing Us Softly,” the groundbreaking documentary on the imagery of women in advertising. There is much you will recognize in this video. To see image after image after image of the way women, and girls, are depicted, is disturbing, to say the least:

How is it, that in the Twenty-first century, we still have these images of women, that our girls continue to embody these messages of having to be thin? How is it a third of our girls are in violent relationships?

Meanwhile, we have Egypt erupting in protests, demanding that they be out from under the thumb of their dictator, our ally, President Mubarak, claiming they want democracy. Yet, they also want Islam in their laws. No need to read between the lines there, that means they want Sharia Law in their political system. So, I guess it is only democracy for men they want, and women,, who enjoy a fair amount of freedom in Egypt, will lose what freedoms they have now. One can expect if the protesters get their way, violence against women will become law.

Speaking of Egypt, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, is calling for President Mubarak to step down, and allow Egypt to pursue democracy. I could not stop myself from yelling at him on the television. This senator comes from a state, and a party, that did more than its share in squelching not only democracy in 2008 by silencing a large number of its citizens in Florida by withholding their votes for Hillary Clinton, but also stood in the way of the people’s choice for the Democratic presidential candidate by reducing the power of their votes until they manipulated who the candidate was going to be.

How dare Senator Nelson preach democracy to someone else when he, and his party, stood squarely in the way of democracy in his own STATE? “Hypocrite” does not even begin to describe it. His actions (or lack thereof) then kept the most qualified woman, and our best chance to elect a woman president, off the ballot. And his call for democracy in Egypt rings hollow coming from the representative of a state that did so much to squash the voices of its own people.

Yes, The New Agenda is right,”their eyes are watching,” and what they, our girls, are seeing, is that they are less than their male counterparts in just about every way, shape, and form. They are seeing they are worth less, less important, less worthy of having a voice, a presence, a body that is healthy and whole. What they are seeing on tv, in magazines, in families, in schools, and in communities must change. And we must make that happen. For the girls. For us as a society.

  • greenlantern

    Thanks very much Amy and Diana. I will take your suggestions.

  • EllenD

    Good for you wpd.

  • Cathy in Ks.

    Rev. Amy,
    I agree with you that the Obama campaign and the DNC did too.  I was appalled and heartsick by what happened in 2008 – in the party that I thought put women’s issues front and center.  It was a cruel awakening!

    Thanks for the congrats on the birth of our grandson.  He’s a joy to behold and when I look into his innocent face, it gives me hope and reminds me that all of us were once like this tiny baby – full of promise and wonderful potential!

  • EllenD

    BTW – just to make it clear, I am only advising on a one-to-one young daughter level. My point was that she has to see that you live by what you say and it is not “Do as I say, not as I do.”
    I started it be saying that we can’t change a lot of stuff but we can teach our daughters.

  • EllenD

    Noogan, I don’t mean EVERY WOMAN can leave. I wouldn’t presume to advise other women in their own individual circumstances. I was talking about what you should teach your daughter and presumably your own family would take her in.

    As for “honey, sweetheart” I am NOT in the South and the people doing this are not lovely older Southern ladies. They are young kids and the usage here, done without a softening southern accent, comes across as patronizing and demeaning.

  • wodiej patriotdawg

    my Dad helped around the house too.  Cooking, laundry and loading the dishwasher.  Mom helped him outside in the summer. My Mom worked 1st shift in a factory, Dad worked 2nd. He made us breakfast before school and made sure we got ready.  Evenings Mom made dinner and we watched tv together.

  • Rabble Rouser Rev. Amy

    No, I went to Union in NYC for my M.Div., though I did take additional classes at a couple of seminaries in the Boston area for ordination.

    Oh, I don’t think that is the least bit irreverent – sounds like you were enjoying the beauty of creation!  😀

  • wodiej patriotdawg

    I wish more of the male NQ readers would comment on these topics.  They are primarily from the girls.

  • Rabble Rouser Rev. Amy

    I am glad you have had that experience. 

    But it isn’t just churches today, and it isn’t just fundamentalist churches that have depicted women as less than.  The entire translation of the KJV of the Bible was a product of its time in which women were seen as far less than equals.  Even with the initial translation of the RSV, translations were not as clean as they should have been (one of my profs at Union was one such translator, and said they were working on another, more accurate, translation).

    I am glad y’all have had the experience you have.  Mine was very different from yours, I’m afraid.

  • armymom

    Thank you RRRA and Diana. In all my life as a Christian, I have NEVER been made to feel less than a man. Never. In fact, some of my male ministers have been the ones to point out the stories of the women in Bible.

    And it’s also been the men in my church, when I was going through my divorce that made it a point to show scriptures that while the women were to give theirselves to the man, the man had the obligation to treat his wife as though he was treating Jesus the same. In other words, there are those today who will use the Bible to make it sound as though women are second class and if you really know the Bible, you know that isn’t true. At least that has been my experience and I’ve been going to church for a very long time now.

  • wodiej patriotdawg

    I have no children but became friends w my 13 year old neighbor when she was 3.  About 6 months ago she posted some pictures on facebook where she had plastered make up on her face.  I commented…you are pretty without make up.  I haven’t seen her wear it since.  She and her Mom are both attractive, her Mom is a little overweight but is a good person and has a great personality.  I’d rather see someone a little plump then looking like a scarecrow.

    This obsession w looks begins at home primarily w Moms who are obsessed w looks themselves. IMO, the primary reason is low self esteem. I think a clean, fresh look and being pretty on the inside is far more important than an attractive exterior that is just a mask of what is really going on.

    I heard this video awhile back and it’s very moving:

    Beautiful You by Johnny Diaz

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXSkd8apbWM

  • seattlegonz

    Rev Amy, did you study at St. John’s Seminary? My first lover and I went on a snow romp in the gorgeous woods of St. John’s. Not attempting to be irreverant, just enjoying the first snow.

  • Rabble Rouser Rev. Amy

    That’s my home state, but I live in SC now.  Yeah, I saw that abt the DNC.  I imagine they will find new ways to break their own rules, and a few state laws at that Convention, too!  🙂