The Wednesday 5: Spring Cleaning, Shonda Rimes’s Next Scandal, and Imagining the Next President Clinton

Photo: Kevin Lamarque, Reuters

This week, blogs urged midlife financial planning, got ruthless with the contents of your closet—no matter how high-fashion—and imagined our favorite secretary of state running the world.

  • Finishing up spring cleaning? Does that include your closet? Our own Debbi O’Shea tells us at DivaDebbi to shed our illusions as we go through our closets deciding what to keep. Among the rules she lays down: “Clothes that have yellowed, faded or pilled go in a Hefty. If you have gained or lost weight, be judicious about what you alter. Alterations are time consuming and expensive. You will never put 4/5 altered garments on your body, ever again.” And “Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that some trend in your closet is going to resurface. When it does, your daughter should be in it and the current designers will have changed some slight component anyway to render it impossible . . .” Truth hurts, but sometimes we’re also laughing.
  •  Canadian finance guru Bev Moir  highlights a tax-planning chat in the Financial Post  with Arlene Dickinson, CEO of Venture Communications and the only woman entrepreneur-investor on CBC’s hit Dragons’ Den. “Major life events and transitions occur on a regular basis,” Dickinson tells Post writer Mary Teresa Bitti.  “Whether it’s divorce, widowhood or job loss, you have to anticipate that will be reality and you have to plan ahead and be proactive, as opposed to waiting and reacting. Women should understand what their financial situation is and establish a relationship with a trusted advisor so that if something happens, you’re not adrift.” Bitti also quotes Moir, a senior analyst at McLeod, about how to protect yourself. Click over for Moir’s step-by-step guidance . . . if only for next year.
  • “I was a child of the ’60s. No, not those ’60s of peace, drugs, and rock and roll, but rather the period several years prior, when a secret agent named Emma Peel reigned supreme on TV’s The Avengers,” begins a guest post at Racialicious by Lucette Lagnado about growing up an Egyptian Jew in 1960s America. “When I caught my first episode in 1965, I assumed it was the black leather that gave Mrs. Peel her courage. At nine years old, I longed for a catsuit of my own. . . . Every week, I watched with a combination of fascination, intrigue, and utter longing, dreaming of growing up to be exactly like her.”  Racialicious excerpts Lagnado’s new memoir, which takes the reader from Cairo to Brooklyn and back again:  “It was madness, of course. No child on earth was a more unlikely Mrs. Peel . . . we were Egyptian Jews—Arab and Jewish both. When I was seven, my parents moved me and my three older siblings from Cairo, where we were born. In Egypt, we’d lived in a lovely apartment overlooking a main boulevard and I attended a private French lycée . . .” OK, maybe we’re curious enough to buy Lagnado’s book and read it while streaming the original Avengers in the background.
  • We knew Shonda Rimes ruled TV (see the first video below), between Grey’s Anatomy  and Private Practice, and were impressed with the debut of her new show: as Jezebel notes, “Scandal  is  SO smart” with its Alan Sorkin–speedy dialogue and bipartisan politician-bashing. But we shared Lindsay Cross’s concern at the Grindstone, about the way the main character feeds into some tired stereotypes around women and emotion: “This show might include politics and cover-ups, but at its core it centers around dedicated professionals who put everything they have into their careers. They call themselves “Gladiators in Suits” and they don’t worry about families or life outside of the office. These characters have an opportunity to represent a growing class of business professionals who forgo traditional family life to concentrate on their careers. I just hope that in the future, they move away from the clichés surrounding powerful women.”


The video below, with co-producer Judy Smith, the inspiration for the main character played by Kerry Washington, gives us hope that Smith might help curb the soap operas, just as she does in her D.C. profession.


The Wednesday Five: TechCrunch’s Sexism, Tackling Franzenfreude, and Hot Jobs for the Over-40 Set

September 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Newsmakers, Tech

Our Labor Day-week assortment includes good news for domestic workers, hot jobs  for the over-40 set, a stirring film about four women from four countries, and some smart talk about the current brouhaha over the Great American Novel.

  • For Labor Day, Bridget Crawford at Feminist Law Professors writes about the first-ever law mandating worker protections for domestics. From now on, domestic workers in New York State will be guaranteed time off and will be fully covered by state anti-discrimination laws, the workmen’s compensation system, and unemployment benefits. “At the signing ceremony, “ Crawford writes, “Governor Paterson drew heavily on references from Harriet Tubman and characterized the legislation as a major human-rights victory.”
  • At Second, which specializes in helping women identify, develop, and otherwise secure their next dream job, Michelle V. Rafter gleans some surprising news from August’s unemployment figures:  “Jobless rates for people over 40 remain lower than the national average, one of several bright spots for middle-aged workers in the August unemployment numbers released today.” Rafter’s blog also provides a list of Hot Jobs for the Over-40 Set, including teacher, “aging-in-place remodeler,” and cyber-security expert.
  • Outraged by a TechCrunch article that shouted “Don’t blame us for the fact that there are fewer women in tech!” Gayle Leakmann  at Technology Woman takes it apart piece by piece. Among Leakmann’s incisive points: “When you say ‘women have it easier,’ you’re also usually saying ‘I assume women are worse.’”
  • Berthe Kayitesi. Elisabeth Pkilibert. Carmen Ruiz. Ven Runnath. Their names are probably unfamiliar, but perhaps they shouldn’t be, says Brendann Hill-Mann at’s Women’s Rights blog. Hill-Mann’s post highlights a new film out of Montreal’s Life Stories Project, “J’y étais”,”I Was There” Histoires de femmes en zones de conflit. Stories of Women in Conflict Zones. The 20-minute documentary, Hill-Mann writes, is “an incredible collection of stories told by four women, from different backgrounds, who are all survivors of mass violence.” The film includes not only survivors of genocidal violence — the Holocaust, Cambodia,  Rwanda — but “political violence in Haiti, Latin America, and South Asia.” By telling these four stories, she adds, the filmmakers have made something from which we can all learn.
  • Meanwhile, Latoya Peterson at Racialicious  tackles the hubbub over the recent anointment of Jonathan Franzen as The Great American Novelist, mostly by arbiters whose editing staffs are pretty heavy in the pale-male department.  Peterson links to Michelle Dean at The Awl,  who notes that Franzen’s novel  Freedom has been described as portraying “our shared millennial life”  just as his previous novel, The Corrections,  was “a report from the frontline of American culture.” Dean then adds  that “It seems a fair question, in that context, to ask: ‘What’s this ‘we,’ white man?’”  Noting that Dean is hardly alone in asking that question, Peterson emphasizes that “It isn’t so much that Franzen is or isn’t a good writer – but rather the question of who represents the American experience, and what critics make that determination.”