The Wednesday Five: Saluting Tina Fey And Other Funny Women, Women’s Leadership Tips, and A Whiff of Lavender

Image: Sebastian Cheung.

This week, how female and male leadership styles give a new meaning to FEMA, Tina Fey talking sense about older-women-moms, and dealing with gender inequity in movies, stand-up comedy, and magazines.

  • First, the bad news. Just when you thought you’d absorbed all the anger about the pale-male dominance at The New Yorker and the New York Times Book Review, here comes VIDA with The Count: some simple pie charts demonstrating women’s representation at major magazines, both as contributors and as interview/review subjects. Think your fave is getting pretty feminist since you’ve seen female-authored cover stories? Look at these charts and think again; the percentage of female contributors rarely exceeds a third, is often lower, and the odds only improve slightly with the lower-paid poetry journals.  At the Forward, Elissa Strauss asked the editors of the  mags in question to address these percentages; their responses ranged from self-justifying blather (I’m looking at you, TNR!) to vaguely apologetic (the New Yorker‘s David Remnick: “There’s no question we need to do better.”) Yet we can all think of writers we know deserve to be there more prominently. Is a boycott in order after all?
  • FEMA. That stands for Federal Emergency Management Agency, right? Yes, but Sylvia Lafair — author of author of Don’t Bring It to Work: Breaking the Family Patterns that Limit Successgives the acronym a new spin in Women and Business. Noting that oxytocin levels — the “birth hormone” — tend to rise in women under stress, Lafair proposes an addition to the conversation about male and female leadership styles: “A rise in oxytocin in the brain causes an increase in collaboration and trustworthy relationships even with complete strangers….Men and women working in partnership can share the powerful responsibilities of leadership during times of crises and conflict. It may well be critical to ‘fight for right’ in the beginning of the fray; that is an initial important response; the male contribution. Then the ‘tend and befriend’ response will kick in and that is where female executives can lead.” We can’t wait for Lafair’s new book on women and leadership, which extends some of these ideas.
  • We knew we’d lose ourselves in Gaye Tapp’s Little Augury, and last week was no exception. In a sort of visual jazz riff on the concept and color of lavender, she included fashion, flowers, and Andy Warhol. Can’t wait to see coming weeks!
  • Like Melissa at Women and Hollywood, some of us were slow to read “Confessions of a Juggler,” Tina Fey’s piece in The New Yorker on older mothers. But we’re glad she did too, because her writing about the piece is so smart. “Tina Fey is putting it out there in a way that will hopefully make people think slightly differently.  She can say these things because she does it with a smile on her face and she satirizes the culture for working women better than anyone on TV today.  The woman is truly a ground breaker.  Without Tina’s Liz Lemon we wouldn’t have the awesome Amy Poehler as Leslie Knoppe on Parks and Recreation.” Read the whole thing, including the comments — then find a way to read Fey’s piece.
  • Speaking of women and comedy, Deb on the Rocks has a riff on male dominance of that field with some helpful suggestions. Starting with the humorless misogyny of the Super Bowl commercials, Deb concludes (as Fey does!) that we need to support the women doing the work, including a manifesto: “Women who write humor online are amazing. Absolutely amazing. If writers make me laugh, I will recognize the amazing gifts that they offer. I will take care of them. I will send them coffee and whiskey and fluffy spa towel-slippers borrowed from nice hotels. I will stuff cash in their backpacks when they aren’t looking. I will celebrate and protect their spirit of collaboration and support, and I’ll remind them when they forget that their work teaches and saves and models and just fucking rocks. I will recognize the bravery and wisdom of the companies and publishers that have the foresight to support their work, and I will reward those companies with my loyalty.” That’s just part of it. Let’s spread the word and walk the walk (perhaps by saluting a few of WVFC’s current humor gurus, like Roz Warren and Janet Golden and Eleanore Wells!)

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  • p gaye tapp March 3, 2011 at 8:23 am

    it’s Gaye- really lovely of you to mention little augury, merci. pgt

  • roz warren March 2, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Hey — thanks for saluting us!