April 12, 2010

Ellen Page on Feminism, Abortion, Hollywood, and the Media

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Melanie @ 5:14 pm

Guest post by Rachel O (yeah, she’ll be a regular contributor very, very soon):

Despite the fact that’s she been acting since the age of 10, Ellen Page’s career didn’t take off until 2007, when she starred in Juno. Juno was an indie film that got huge, and Ellen Page became a well-known name.  Her roles both pre- and post- Juno, have proven good women’s roles aren’t just as “hookers, victims, and doormats” as Shirley McClaine once said.  She’s played everything from a young girl who turns the tables on an online perv in Hard Candy, to a kick-ass high school roller derby girl in Whip It.

While Juno raised some questions about its message, and inspired a lot of pro-choice/pro-life debates, I found the film undeniably Pro-Choice.  It showed pro-choice isn’t just about having abortions – it’s about having options – whether it’s to have a baby, give it up for adoption, or get an abortion.  When asked about the two opposing interpretations of the film, Ellen said in an interview just a week ago,

“I am a feminist and I am totally pro-choice, but what’s funny is when you say that people assume that you are pro-abortion. I don’t love abortion but I want women to be able to choose and I don’t want white dudes in an office being able to make laws on things like this. I mean what are we going to do – go back to clothes hangers?”

Page doesn’t just speak about women’s issues in terms of politics, she addresses the way women are handled in her business – Hollywood.  It made headlines last year when the head of Warner Bros. announced they would no longer allow women to be the lead of their films, because women couldn’t bring in box office bucks.  Whenever a woman-dominated cast does less-than-stellar at the box office, it is usually dissectedWhat happened?  What went wrong?  What does this mean for women in Hollywood and the roles actresses will get? Page has experienced this first hand.  Whip It was a huge hit with critics, but only managed to bring in $4 million opening weekend.  As if the above quote isn’t enough to make you love her instantly, when asked about what Hollywood is like for women,

“I think it’s a total drag. I’ve been lucky to get interesting parts but there are still not that many out there for women. And everybody is so critical of women. If there’s a movie starring a man that tanks, then I don’t see an article about the fact that the movie starred a man and that must be why it bombed. Then a film comes out where a woman is in the lead, or a movie comes out where a bunch of girls are roller derbying, and it doesn’t make much money and you see articles about how women can’t carry a film.”

As if that’s not bad enough, women in the media business are expected to look a certain way, and shamed, ridiculed, denigrated when they don’t.  Even women who promise to be beyond the pressure give in and sell out.  Personally, I think Page is gorgeous, but tabloids and gossip blogs aren’t about embracing beauty and making women feel good about themselves.  Page admits she’s not beyond this pressure herself.

“I hate to admit it but, yeah. I definitely feel more of a sense of personal insecurity. I really try and smarten up when I feel that way but sometimes it does get to me. The fact is, young girls are bombarded by advertisements and magazines full of delusional expectations that encourage people to like themselves less and then they want to buy more things. It is really sad and it encourages the consumerist cycle. Boys used to have it slightly easier but I think they are now getting more of the same kind of pressure. Look at all the guys in junior high who think they should have a six-pack.”

It’s a little sad that reading an interview like this is such a big deal, because so few people in Hollywood are willing to express themselves in this way, and say these things in a public forum.  Having just recently become media literate myself, it’s awesome to hear an actress I admire speak about such widespread but underreported issues.  This summer, Ellen will be starring in Christopher Nolan’s new film, Inception.  I feel confident the film, and her role in it, will be nothing short of amazing.

Ellen Page: ‘I’m totally pro-choice.  I mean what are we going to do – go back to clothes hangers?’ (Guardian UK) via Jezebel

March 12, 2009

SHOCK! Bristol and Levi split

Uh, not really.

Bristol Palin and her fiance, Levi Johnston, have split despite plans to work together and raise their child, Tripp.

As a new mom (I gave birth to my son 3 weeks ago), I can vouch for the stress and strain a newborn baby can put on individuals not to mention the changed dynamic created in the couple’s relationship.  Thankfully, my partner and I planned this baby for many years and the arrival of our son has allowed us to create a new bond and relish in this process.  But, on countless occasions, I imagine what it would be like to have an unexpected, unplanned pregnancy.  WHOA!  I can’t begin to imagine the challenges and strain an event like that would out on a couple, especially a teen couple.

I don’t think the public is too surpsied to hear about this split.  Upon announcing the obvious pregnancy, Sarah Palin proclaimed that the couple would get married and raise this child in a legitimate union, sanctioned by God and law.  Somehow, this statement was meant to justify a teen pregnancy by a daughter born to a woman that does not believe in sex education, access to birth control or safe and legal abortion.  Yet, Sarah Palin said the decision to have a child was a “choice” and that her daughter, Bristol, and the child’s father, Levi, would make the best of the situation.

I never believed that marriage was making the best decision for this couple.  But, it’s a clear example to all of those individuals that felt it was the appropriate solution and applauded it that life for these two teens is not what Sarah Palin predicted it would be.

From Bristol’s recent statement, it sounds like choice was not in the equation from start to finish.

Bristol also said that “everyone should be abstinent but it’s not realistic… [sex] is more and more accepted among kids my age.”

Bristol also warned about the dangers of teen pregnancy and said that she should have waited 10 years before having children.

November 1, 2008

What's new in the anti-choice playbook?

Take a look.  Thanks to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s campus activism, Feminist Campus and the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance program.

October 31, 2008

Mother's rights vs. fetal rights: how do we value women?

Brought to you by the National Advocates for Pregnant Women:

Brought to you by the Massachusetts School of Law:

October 29, 2008

How do they measure up on gender-related issues?

Alternet posted a comprehensive voter’s guide to the candidate’s positions on 10 gender-related issues that include:

1. Reproductive choice

2. Contraception

3. Reproductive health and family planning

4. Sex education

5. Domestic violence

6. Equal pay

7. Paid family leave and workplace flexibility

8. Minimum wage

9. Gender-based health disparities

10. Title IX

Check it out and VOTE!

October 21, 2008

Feminists for Obama/Biden

October 20, 2008

Abortion, abortion, abortion…

In the spirit of the upcoming elections, stay informed at: The Culture Wars: Abortion Edition. Laura continues to bring together the important variables.

For the latest tidbits click here and here.

This is the new ad from the “yes for life” campaign in South Dakota. It’s a minute and 40 seconds of a whole slew of (white) doctors sharing their support for measure 11 and imploring the viewer to “stop abortion from being used as a form of birth control”…funny, I thought the bill was a ban on all abortions statewide. Oh I get it, they think ALL abortions are being used as birth control. I guess, in their estimation, no responsible person ever gets pregnant when they don’t want to. I must admit I’m personally offended by this assumption.

My favorite part is the use of a cardiologist, an allergist, and a otolaryngologist (fancy name for an ear nose and throat doctor) to speak out for measure 11. How are these people relevant at all? They happen to be doctors, but their expertise is completely irrelevant. How is a pediatrician relevant for the matter? Abortion is about women’s health, which is not in a pediatrician’s job description.

It just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser as we slide deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole.

October 12, 2008

The culture of fear continues…

Haven’t been to The Culture Wars: Abortion Edition recently?  Check out the latest tactic employed by those parties interested in voting passing Prop. 4. (see why Prop. 4 is dangerous for teens), the proposition that mandates parental notification in cases of pregnancy termination among teenagers. This advertisement is absolutely ridiculous, misleading and characteristic of the fear mongering and scare tactics that the conservative right has been waging in the months leading up to this election.

As always, Laura Frankel keeps us informed and provides excellent commentary.  Click here for the complete story.

It’s uncanny how they’ve turned an issue of abortion into an issue of fear by using the idea of a sexual predator taking advantage of California’s daughters and getting away with it because–there’s no parental notification in CA. Look at that. My favorite is the very beginning where in small print at the bottom of the ad it reads: “Dramatizaton Based on Actual Facts.” REALLY?! Show me the facts. I want to see where it says that older men in California are more likely to have sex with/take advantage of younger girls because they know that the girl’s parents won’t find out if they take her to get an abortion after.

October 5, 2008

The "billion dollar abortion industry" wants to "mislead" you…

…and so does this advertisement Laura Frankel responded to at Culture Wars: The Abortion Edition. It’s an advertisement from the folks that support Measure 11 in South Dakota.

It ties into something I wrote about briefly in a previous post about how many South Dakotaeans view the mass importing of pro-choice advocates to their state to be emblematic of the East Coast elite “abortion industry” who, according to this ad, make billions on abortions every year. That industry consists of non-profit groups like NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU. They have what looks to be a dying message from Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who is given the title of “Last Surviving Member of NARAL” (as though that awful pro-choice disease wiped out the rest, but, he survived, because he changed his mind…they don’t say that, I’m just reading a wee bit into it) claiming NARAL’s goal was to, “export our pro-abortion mentality across the land”. Kind of like those crazy Eastern pro-abortion advocates now trying to spred their pro-abortion policies in South Dakota. He goes onto say that one of their strategies was, “to deny what we knew to be true, that an abortion kills an existing human being”. Watch for yourself, he’s clearly reading cue cards to the side of the camera, but this a good ad! Creating native suspicion of anyone who comes from the “pro-abortion industry” to the state is brilliant. It goes beyond simple religious politics and taps the core of suspicion and fear: it’s us versus them. I don’t like their message, but they are using media and fear politics to their advantage in a major way!

October 1, 2008

Katie Couric and Palin speak on Sept. 29

Katie Couric interviewed Sarah Palin and John McCain on September 29.  Couric questioned Palin on abortion, gay rights and feminism.  It seems Palin has changed her position on a few items and contradicts herself repeatedly.

Case in point:

Katie Couric: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Sarah Palin: I do. I’m a feminist who believes in equal rights and I believe that women certainly today have every opportunity that a man has to succeed and to try to do it all anyway. And I’m very, very thankful that I’ve been brought up in a family where gender hasn’t been an issue. You know, I’ve been expected to do everything growing up that the boys were doing. We were out chopping wood and you’re out hunting and fishing and filling our freezer with good wild Alaskan game to feed our family. So it kinda started with that. With just that expectation that the boys and the girls in my community were expected to do the same and accomplish the same. That’s just been instilled in me.

Couric: What is your definition of a feminist?

Palin: Someone who believes in equal rights. Someone who would not stand for oppression against women.

I’m not sure how you can call yourself a feminist and define feminism as a belief for equal rights and a firm stance against sexism and oppression when your record clearly indicates that you have not supported equal rights and you are in favor of eradicating choices for women.  This woman exhausts me.  I’m ready for Thursday’s debate.

For the full transcript, read here.

For the clip, click here.

Go to 5:20 to here her response to Couric’s question asking her which publications she reads to inform her worldview.

Transcribed on the Huffington Post:

Katie Couric: And when it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious: what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?
Sarah Palin: I’ve read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.
KC: But, like, what ones specifically? I’m curious.
SP: All of ‘em, any of ‘em that have been in front of me over all these years.
KC: Can you name a few?
SP: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news too. Alaska isn’t a foreign country, where, it’s kind of suggested and it seems like, ‘Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C. may be thinking and doing when you live up there in Alaska?’ Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.

Or, click here.

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