New York City just launched an offensive on yet another modern plague: low self-esteem in girls. The city started a new public health campaign aimed to encourage girls, aged 7 to 12 years, to challenge the unattainable notions of beauty foisted upon them by pop culture and advertising.
The campaign, which consists mostly of ads on public transportation, was the brainchild of Samantha Levine, the mayor’s deputy press secretary. Levine said she was moved to start the project after learning that 80% of 10-year-old girls report being afraid of being fat and most girls’ self-esteem drops at age 12 and doesn’t improve until 20. The Sisterhood spoke with Levine about what she hopes the campaign will achieve and why we need to redefine beauty.
Huma Abedin, woman or Rorschach test? It’s hard to tell these days. When it comes to Huma, everyone’s got a theory, and these theories do more to reveal the particular neuroses of their creators than they do to shed light on what she might actually be going through.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd claims that Abedin’s problem is that she is from Saudi Arabia, “where women are treated worse by men than anywhere else on the planet. Comparatively speaking, the pol from Queens probably seems like a prince.”
Gloria Steinem wonders if their child is keeping her by his dirty-text sending side. On CNN.com, Pepper Schwartz suggests that it is her “insane ambition,” and Jennifer Senior at New York magazine sees Abedin as a woman in love with a narcissist. “Like [Hillary Clinton], she fell in love with a narcissist, someone who looms one-hundred-feet high in his own imagination, and like her boss, she has elected to participate in his delusions.”
I was busy blowing up balloons, hanging streamers and assembling goody bags when I heard about the September 11 attacks.
September 11, 2001 was my son Eitan’s fifth birthday. Just a few weeks earlier, I had returned to my home in Israel from a year-long sabbatical in Connecticut, and, with the house full of unpacked boxes, I had decided that I would pull together a celebration for him anyway. I had invited three of my close friends – all American immigrants to Ra’anana and their children, had hurriedly set up some climbing toys and put out arts and crafts materials. It was supposed to be a relaxed afternoon for moms and kids, with some low-key activities and then a cake and candles. Little did I know that this party was going to be one that I would never forget.
The phone rang. It was my mother-in-law calling from the car on her way to my house, asking if I’d heard about some kind of attack in the U.S. I switched on CNN and then froze in disbelief. I had no breath available for the balloons.
While working on a story about the theater, I came across an interesting, though as yet anecdotally-based tidbit: There are more female than male actors in New York, and the women are more talented to boot.
I learned about this phenomenon from the members of The Dark Lady Players, a Shakespearean theater company devoted to exploring, through performance, the theory that the works we know as Shakespeare’s were actually written by a Marrano Jewish woman named Amelia Bassano Lanier. I touched on this topic before, when I interviewed the founder of the Bassano theory, John Hudson, but this time, for The Jewish Channel’s “Week in Review”, I also spoke, on camera, with the actors in Hudson’s company, who are currently staging “Shakespeare’s Anti-Christian Satires: The Virgin Mary Parodies,” and who are all women.
Was it an artistic choice to make the Dark Lady Players all female, I asked? Turns out, not exactly. The company has had men perform in some of their productions, but they have predominantly female actors because when they hold auditions, significantly more women than men show up, and, according to Hudson, the men who do show up tend not to be as talented as the women.
When the cameras turned off, these classically-trained women actors were more than eager to dish about this phenomenon, which, they said, holds true even for auditions for parts that have nothing to do with demonstrating that Shakespeare’s works were written by a woman. There are generally more women than men at auditions, men always have an easier time getting off the open call wait list, and casting directors go gaga over men’s performances more readily than over female actors’ performances. (And a different but related, if not surprising, phenomenon: male Hollywood actors make a lot more money than their female counterparts.) When it comes to The Dark Lady players specifically, director Jenny Greeman told me, the women are also more interested in sticking around for future productions and collaborations.
Does this gender imbalance in the New York acting scene sound strangely like the situation in the New York Jewish singles scene to anyone else?