Monday, July 21, 2008

America the Beautiful is coming to NYC!

If you've ever read a post here on Reign before, you may have noticed that I tend to get a bit riled up about the media messages being sent to women and girls here in America. Sometimes as I'm furiously typing, giving myself finger cramps and flirting with carpal tunnel, I think to myself "Dammit! Am I the only one who cares about this stuff? I feel like I'm typing and ranting and no one even cares!!"

THEN LO & BEHOLD... A BEACON OF LIGHT SHINES DOWN FROM THE HEAVENS!


America the Beautiful is socially probing documentary which explores the question, "Does American have an unhealthy obsessions with beauty?" Filmmaker Darryl Roberts journeys into the psyche of celebrities like Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson, athletes like Reggie Theus, industry professionals such as Jill Ishkanian from "US Weekly", Ted Casablanca from the "E! Channel" and the American citizenry to determine the roots of this superficial obsession." -- AmericaTheBeautiful.com

This film will be opening here in NYC on August 1st. Reviews like New Moon Founder Nancy Gruver's and film critic Roger Ebert's are just a tiny example of the praise this documentary is receiving. I'm pretty much already in line. I'll be bringing my 14-year-old daughter and as many of her friends as I can hunt down to the show. I think it will be a real eye-opener for them.

All you metro NY area Mamas will definitely want to check this out. Mamas in other areas, ATB is making the rounds. Check the film website to see if it will be coming to a theater near you.

Friday, July 18, 2008

More on my obsession with Avatar (plus Badass Supermamas)

On July 3rd I became three years closer to the big four-oh. Now I could be spending the last leg of my thirty-somethings obsessing about how age is starting to play tricks on my body (namely depositing fat in places that I didn't know could be fat…like my back) but I choose to spend my time contemplating more important things, like the final episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

If you have a kid in the house who watches Nickelodeon then there's no way you could have escaped the trailers. The final 5 episodes of the show air this week-- one each night of the week-- culminating in a mind-bending 2-hour finale on Saturday in which Aang will finally confront the Fire Lord. Whoooooo! Goosebumps!

So now you're probably saying: "Ok. You're a big over-grown Avatar groupie. Whaddya have to keep bloggin' about it for? What does it have to do with Reign?"

Hmmmm. Let us explore...

In the summer 2008 issue of Ms. Magazine Stephane Dunn's article, In Praise of Baadasssss Supermamas, explores the female characters made popular in the blaxploitation films of the 70's. Back then Foxy Brown, Coffy and Cleopatra Jones were kicking some serious ass and taking no prisoners. The films died out due to backlash over the portrayal of blacks as hookers, pimps and drug dealers, but the strong female character can still be found today.

Avatar is a good example of a show with a range of strong female characters who take the lead and whup tail on a regular basis. That's one of reasons I love it. The girls on the show don't rely on anyone to rescue them or guide them out of danger. These badass mini-mamas are leaders, decision-makers and experts in ways that equal or surpass the males on the show. And they do it without compromising their femininity or flashing a ton of T&A. It's a real-deal kind of girl power that I'm just not seeing that much of on television lately. Especially not geared toward the adolescent set.

Dunn's article also points out the lack of this type of role for women and girls of color. I agree. But Avatar's anime-style characters are still setting a great example for the mini mamas, and as long as there's something positive for them to draw from, I'll gladly take it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tweens, Teens & Dating Abuse. WTF?

A survey commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc. and loveisrespect.org released some disturbing results this week.

Sixty-nine percent of teens who had sex by age 14 reported some type of abuse in a relationship, with slightly more than one-third saying they had been physically abused, according to the survey, conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited.

One in five 13- or 14-year-olds in relationships say they know friends and peers who have been "struck in anger" by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Sixty-two percent have friends who have been called stupid, worthless or ugly by their dates.
-- CNN.com

I remember hearing about girls in high school who would "get their ass beat" by their boyfriends. Those were older high school girls, which was bad enough, now this same behavior is being seen in kids much younger. I'm talking 12 and 13-years old, Mamas! And the numbers! 69% report some type of abuse by age 14. One in five 13 or 14 year olds know someone who has been abused.

What the hell?!

This behavior has become so prevalent that at the 2008 Summer Meeting of the National Association of Attorney Generals, Attorneys General from across the nation passed a resolution encouraging schools to develop teen dating violence awareness curriculum.

And last year, the Lindsay Ann Burke Act was made into law in Rhode Island. Created in response to the tragic death of Lindsey Ann Burke at the hands of an abusive boyfriend. This law requires Rhode Island Schools to teach dating violence curriculum so younger kids are aware of the warning signs.

So what's going on in our society that kids think it's OK to verbally, physically and even sexually abuse someone they claim to have feelings for? Jeez, everytime I think I've got all the issues covered with my daughter, another one pops up.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sex chats, Cheetos & el chupacabra

A post on Dr. Karen Rayne's Adolescent Sexuality blog got me thinking about the dreaded sex talk that every parent has to give one day. Of course, some give the talk better than others.

My talk went a little something like this... The day I started my period (I was in the 6th grade) my mom came into the bathroom, gave me a basic maxi-pad lesson, then said, "Well, you've got your period now. You know you can get pregnant. Don't be out there messing around with sex." That was it.

Not that I blame my mom. She grew up in a different time. So she had no point of reference to prepare me for what I was about to face. Once I hit middle school, most of my friends were either already sexually active or would be soon. By the 8th grade, one of my classmates was pregnant. By the time I hit high school, it was a normal thing for couples who were going out to be sexually active; and I honestly lost count of the pregnant girls walking the halls. My mom had no idea what I would be facing. And without the proper information and support, I also became sexually active at far too young an age.

So when it comes to my daughter, I feel like her best protection is in her head. The more informed she is about sex, the better her chances of making a smart decision when the time comes. That includes knowledge about STD and pregnancy prevention, and the fact that sex is not just an act you do with your body...emotions, self-esteem and confidence are all swirled up in there as well.

And of course, when it comes to educating our girls, Mama's need to be well-educated, too. Websites like TeenWire.com, Scarleteen.com, and Gurl.com are excellent resources for real-deal, medically accurate information that can refresh any Mama's foggy old sex-ed memory (i.e. is it gonorrhea or syphilis that you can make you go crazy if left untreated?). So if the time has arrived for the dreaded sex talk with your girl-child, they're good places to check out before you get your chat on.

And I'm very interested to hear how other Mamas are handling the sex chat. Please share.
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