Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Babes Having Babies

It's one of those weird art imitating life imitating art things. I just saw the definitive movie of a cool, indy girl keeping her baby (and Papa didn't preach). Juno is the latest in a series of movies starring women who decide to keep their babies: Waitress, Knocked Up, now Juno. (Is pregnant the new fat suit for women stars?) And in real life -- or maybe it's the surreal life -- Britney Spears's sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, is knocked up at 16. This is really inconvenient because she's touted as kind of a role model on a kids' show called Zoey 101. Well, in the Hollywood era of Lindsay Lohan, I don't think any parent should hope their kids think teen stars are exactly virginal, but there you go.

But here's the thing: Despite the cinematic baby boom, teen pregnancy has been declining, not rising, in the last decade. Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land, although it is more difficult for minors to get abortions without some parental involvement. (Studies also show that when a parent is informed, they are more than likely marching their kid down to the clinic themselves.) So I don't know what to be shocked by: the fact that kids have sex -- not a surprise. The fact that Britney Spears's sister is having a baby, well, also, no surprise. The idea that a kid would get knocked up and decline to even seriously consider an abortion (see: Juno) -- especially a smart, young woman who knows there are options -- that's weirder to me.

OK, yes, I get that in Juno, who gets pregnant after one sexual encounter with her long-time friend, there would be no movie without the gestation period. But. Does that mean no discussion of abortion? Juno tries to go to the abortion clinic but changes her mind because of some superficial details. She chooses adoption. And this, we're shown, is the harder path. She has to go through pregnancy while still in school. She misses prom. She has a complicated relationship with the adoptive parents. So by implication, abortion is the easy route. Is that truly the message our younger sisters and friends have picked up? Then the younger generation better wake up, because as this right gets whittled away, there will be new movies about young women sneaking across state lines or to Canada in order to take care of her problem. And it really won't be easy.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Fair Lady Without Singing

It is impossible to watch Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw's play named for the Greek myth, now on Broadway, without certain show tunes popping into your head at just the right moment: he really is getting married in the morning. She could have danced all night. He did it!

But instead of making me miss the musical (which I really do hope gets revived now that Pygmalion has shown to be such a show stopper) I appreciated the play even more. It's on Broadway. It stars Claire Danes. But none of that should make you think it's pandering to the populist element that is everywhere as soon as you step onto that garish street competing with shows like Mary Poppins. Eliza Doolittle does much in those two hours. She demands to be noticed. She demands to speak like a lady. And she demands love. It's in anyone's grasp. And it could be in yours, if you go see the play.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I Am Man, Hear Me Roar

Maybe it's on my mind more than usual because I'm doing a radio essay for B-Side on bra burners. Or the lack of them. You see, on the way to protesting the 1968 Beauty Pageant in Atlantic City, women almost burned their bras outside City Hall. Problem was, the famous Atlantic City boardwalk is wood. So they couldn't get a permit. Now, I hate to be a traitor to my gender, but, c'mon, would you see a man doing that? Politely putting safety over a stupid act just to make a point? Exactly. Well, maybe not exactly, but that's how today's Onion sees it. You'll see what I mean. And extra points for reading through to the Smith College reference.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

America's Most Wanted

Check out my post on the CREDO Action blog today on this show at the NYPL. It's contemporary prints and the library was shocked, shocked to see how much publicity their show was getting. Seems that as part of the show there's the Bush gang posed in lineup pics. Love it. Love it even more because Fox doesn't.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

They're In It to Win It

I don't know if this is a tipping point, but it's a pretty big deal. 11 girls were finalists in this year's major science competition for high school students, the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. Yah, they swept the competition. This isn't a fluke. And it's not tokenism. They made history and damn good science projects, too. Lawrence Summers, eat your puny-sized boy brain out.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For

Tamara Keith, host extraordinaire of B-Side, also happens to be married to an Ira. She's in radio, she's close to someone named Ira . . .you do the math. It was only a matter of time till her worlds collided.