Women, their Careers and Children

Having - or not having - children is such an important topic for women today, and one that is very rarely honestly discussed. Trying to prove we are equal, women don't want to admit we aren't - because we have children. Even after 9 months, which for some women are a very difficult experience, our children stay a part of us and define who we are and how we function. Much (much!) more so then they do to men. 

This is a crucial topic, especially in the USA where it's being completely ignored. I still can't believe women in the USA aren't marching the streets demanding regulated maternity leave and subsidised child care.  

Here is the newest interview by Marina Abramovic, one of the most influential artists of our time, in which she is talking about how she chose not to have children for the sake of her career:

Marina Abramovic for Tagespiegel, translated from German to English by Artnet

It would be great to hear more honest stories about women's choices!

A Late Nod to 1 May

The presidential elections in Austria are happening right now and it came down to a right wing candidate and a green/left candidate. I was just asked to write why I’m supporting the green/left guy and I wrote a little statement which I’d like to share here as well:

In the age of globalization, which brings along the insecurities, inequality, destruction of the environment and of natural resources, overpopulation, migration and loss of human values, the left – which for me means humans before capital, and with each other, not against each other – is the only way to survive. I choose left for my son and the planet he’s going to inherit.  And if I could choose a mother, that’s whom I would choose. Because I believe our planet (and our civilization) destroyed by male values can only be rescued by switching to female modus operandi: nourishing, repairing, preserving, reconciling and being in tune with nature.

We don't have much time left.

International Women's Day (a day too late)

Since it was International Women’s Day yesterday, here a Hollywood story about equality. Few weeks ago, new six episodes of X-Files premiered and caused a big stir. Not so much because of the fans and their genuine interest in seeing what agents Scully and Mulder have been up to in all this time, but more because of one of Hollywood’s two new favorite topics: women & Hollywood and race & Hollywood. Equal pay is all the rage for past years, becoming a huge issue after Patricia Arquette’s Oscar acceptance speech last year, with Jennifer Lawrence quickly jumping on the bandwagon.

The fact that women should be paid the same amount for the same job as men is undisputable. 

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El Niño and Nobel Peace Prize

Hello after a long time – and a baby which is already 14 months old and just the best thing in the universe! Here’s a funny anecdote for my comeback. Last night, my husband attended one of the dinners organized by a Hollywood writer “which are for men only because we like to have an intelligent conversation.” As a good Hollywood wife, I will not comment on his statement.

But here’s the fun part. My husband was sitting next to an environmental scientist from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the very same guy who in the 1970’s invented the term “El Nino” They talked about the El Nino that’s about to hit California (in January through March), about global warming, droughts and other environmental catastrophes. After hours of conversation, my husband desperately asked him where we should move. “To whenever makes you wife happiest,” the scientist replied.

I really believe this amazing gentleman for the Nobel Prize. If not for science, definitely for peace!

Why I Didn't Hate Maleficent

Something unusual happened to me yesterday. My friends and I left the cinema and everyone was bitter and angry and agitated – except for me. Highly opinionated, intellectually snobbish and very emotional, the furious one is usually me. There were countless moments I’d leave the cinema wanting to punch the director and the producer and the whole crew just to get rid of the anger that collected while I watched their offensive trash. This time, I left quite satisfied, I dare even say: mesmerized. “The story didn’t make sense, the first act was completely different, CGI was so cheesy, I wanted to see the story of Maleficent and not Sleeping Beauty retold, what’s with the lesbian connotation, there were so many cheap tricks (including freezing characters to make them shut up)!” My friends were furious.

I stayed quiet, listened to their complaints and wondered why I didn’t hate it. It took me some time to figure it out. But then I got it:

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Why George Clooney’s Love Life Matters

I’m so in love with Philosophers’ Mail idea of giving gossip deeper meaning that I’m going to steal the idea and serve you some gossip. Apparently – and this has been a rumor for months – George Clooney is dating…. Ready?.... A successful intelligent woman with a serious profession! Few months ago, they’ve been papped (for all those normal people not living in L.A.: a picture taken by paparazzi) in a car, leaving a restaurant in London. And few days ago, she accompanied him to “The Monuments Men” screening at the White House. (That’s what I call a date!)

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Unapologetic Barbie

So, Barbie just appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated 50th anniversary annual swimsuit issue (wearing the swimsuit she wore when she first appeared in shops in 55 years ago). And this cover caused a huge stir. Apparently it’s giving girls a wrong body image. This might be right but I don’t understand why a picture of a doll is worse than a picture of what is supposed to be a live, breathing woman but is so photo-shopped that no live breathing woman, even the one who posed for the picture, could ever look like that. Because her name adorned the title of my first book and because I (believe it or not) used to be nicknamed Barbie, she was always present in my work. This is why in my last interview for Croatian Cosmopolitan, I was asked a very interesting (and tricky) question: What have I learned from Barbie? I was always very quick to criticize Barbie (for her unnatural body image and dumb activities) but never spent one thought wondering if there ever was anything positive to having grown up with Barbie. This really wasn’t an easy question.

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How Chivalry Could Heal American Misogyny

I just found on my Facebook wall a post titled „5 Reasons Why Women Should Celebrate the Death of Chivalry.“ It made me jump to the ceiling. Since Woody Allen scandal came up again few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about women in the United States a lot. Actually, I’ve been thinking about women in United States a lot since I moved here three years ago. Before I moved here, I lived in Croatia and Austria. And I just can’t stop being shocked about how much, and how deeply women are hated in this country. Something went terribly wrong here and somewhere along the path to equality, and instead of partners, American men and women became competitors, even opponents.

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Mama in the Mirror - The Art of Aging

“Jagoda Kaloper in the Mirror of the Cultural Screen,” a book about my mother’s art film “Woman in the Mirror” has just been published. Only few months ago, she celebrated her 66th birthday by opening a new exhibition. There were hundreds of people, lots of journalists and the exhibition received great reviews from art critics. Yesterday, she had a 45 minutes interview on Croatian National Television. She talked about her life – but what really impressed me was her talking about age and how she feels better now than she did when she was young. Yes, I am in love with my mom. I believe I have all reasons to be: She is the most caring, loving and supporting mother in the world (don’t get me wrong, she’s not perfect) but she is also a very strong, independent, successful woman – the kind of woman we would like our daughters to look up to. 

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"I Only Want You to Love Me"

Something strange happened when I saw this photo by Miles Aldridge - it flet so "Yes, that's exactly right!" and made me think about all the ways we are trying to be perfect, only to be loved - without ever knowing what "perfect" really is..... And what we will actually one day be loved for (or if we're lucky, what we are really loved for). P.S. And yes, that is the title of the photo 229645_s43_f7

Let Angie Be.... StrAngie.

When I turned on Facebook today and saw posts about Angelina Jolie’s article in New York Times in which she talks about her preventive double mastectomy (and it sounds like an upcoming preventive oophorectomy), at first I thought it was yet another Facebook joke. Then I thought it was one of those nebulous articles Star magazine invents. But then I clicked on the article and the click lead me to the unspeakable truth: Which is – it’s true! Angelina Jolie has seriously had both healthy breasts removed because gene tests showed she has BRCA1, a “faulty” gene which her doctors told her means 87% chance of developing breast cancer. Her mother died of breast cancer at the age of 56. So she had her breasts removed. Now, her doctors claim that her chance of getting breast cancer lowered to 5%. She still has 50% chance of getting ovarian cancer, so I do see her removing her ovaries in near future.

Now, what Angelina Jolie decides to do with her body is absolutely her choice. We have to respect that.

But.

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And HELLO Beyoncé!

Beyonce just started her world tour yesterday with a concert in Belgrade. And here is what she had to show us: Nipples. Really Beyonce? What’s next? Stylized insides of your vagina? Tasteless. (And I have nothing against boobs. But either show them or don’t.) I don't want to go into bashing current pop stars' vulgarity because I feel I said/wrote it so many times that I'm getting boring. But Beyonce’s sequin boobs perfectly fit our last conversation (see my blog on Margaret Thatcher from 10 April 2013.) What images of successful women, or role models, do young girls have to look up to today? Either Hilary or Merkel – or Beyonce (`s boobs). Why is there no middle ground? How much femininity is too less and how much is too much?

God bless ancient Greeks and their Sophrosyne.

 

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Bye-bye Margaret!

O.K., so Margaret Thatcher is dead. She passed away couple of days ago and my Facebook wall is still full of her. As my friends are mostly left wing intellectuals (am I bragging?), my wall looks like a competition on who can say worse things about the “Iron Lady”. Yes, she was a horrible neoliberal who, together with her buddy Ronald Reagan, helped to create this mess we are living in. But I got so tired of reading bad things about her. It’s old. We know it. Leave it alone. Let’s invest our energy to find the way out of this mess rather than bash a long forgotten corpse. I felt the urge to write a note on Margaret Thatcher’s death because I feel weirdly connected to her. I do. In a very bizarre way. Since I had a back surgery at age of 15 in which my spine got supported with this long metal rod (called “Harrington”), my friends often referred to me as Iron Lady. I always liked it. For one, I literally do consist of a big amount of metal. But I always considered myself to be some kind of Iron Lady in other ways: I am strong, brave, ambitious. Indestructible. And this is where Margaret Thatcher is important. Whatever her political views were, she did do something good. She became the only female Prime Minister in the history of the UK. She fought for her position in the time and society in which parents still forbade their daughters to attend university believing there is no other position for them in this world then that of a housewife. Thanks to her, I grew up taking for granted that one of the world’s most important political personae is a woman. (On top of it all, she was also feminine – as far as her position would allow. And she was a mother.) Unfortunately, since she left politics, girls haven’t had a picture of a leading female politician to look up to, or simply take for granted.

Hopefully Hillary will change that in a few years.

Till then: Bye-bye Margaret!

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"Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler" - and Simone

I did it again, and I enjoyed it as much as always: A Literary Cocktail. This time, two books by two completely different women, both describing their experiences of the WWII, both magically complementing each other. Trudi Kanter’s “Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler” and Simone de Beauvoir’s “Wartime Diaries”. Ursula Doyle, the editor of the new publication of Trudi Kanter’s book found a copy of the book in a British bookstore in ‘80s. Trudi died in 1992, she had no children and all traces of here are lost. How she managed to write a book in English in her ‘80s is a mystery. Trudi was a hat designer, a truly independent woman who ran her own workshop with 20 employees on stylish Kohlmarkt 11 when Nazis marched into Vienna, forcing Trudi to turn the world upside down to escape together with her new (handsome but and completely useless) husband. 

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(It's even more) Halloween in Beverly Hills (than usual)

Yes, Halloween is approaching, whole Los Angeles is full of spiders, cobwebs - and even more zombies and witches than normally. But today, at Kim Kardashian's CVS I found something unique. Check her out: tight red hooker dress, pink mani, long blond extensions, sagging silicones, NARS orgasm blush.

Ladies and gentleman: The Beverly Hills Witch

 

Simone's comment to my previous post

Something for my German speaking readers. I wanted to follow up on my previous entry – and before I did, I found almost the same description and opinion in Simone de Beauvoir’s “New York, mon amour” – her diary of her first visit to New York in 1947. Are times not changing after all? Unfortunately, there is no English translation of this book. “Wenn man in New York ankommt, erscheint einem der Glanz der Haare und des Teints wie ein Wunder – aber das ist ein Wunder, das viel Geld kostet. Eine andere Tatsache ist, wie ich glaube, besonders bezeichnend: die der Amerikanerin aufgezwungene Standardkleidung ist nicht bestimmt, ihrer Bequemlichkeit zu dienen;  diese Frauen, die bei jeder Gelegenheit so nachdrücklich ihre Unabhängigkeit fordern und deren Haltung dem Mann gegenüber so leicht aggressiv wird, ziehen sich für die Männer an: diese Absätze, die ihren Gang lähmen, diese zerbrechlichen Federn, diese Blumen mitten im Winter – all dieser Putz soll unzweifelhaft ihre Fraulichkeit unterstreichen und die Blicke der Männer anziehen. Tatsächlich ist die Toilette der Europäerin weniger unterwürfig.” Pg. 78

Slut Dropping

Lots of interesting stuff is popping up as Miss Representation’s Facebook status. Readers of my blog will know why I like most of them. And also why I dislike some of them. I’m all for power to women – but ladies, with power comes responsibility. Here today’s example of what I mean: An article on “Slut Dropping” written by a “Independent” journalist. She tells us about the terrible practice at UK colleges where boys pick up slutty dressed girls at early hours of the morning and instead of bringing them home (as promised), they drop them at the other side of town. Yes, we all agree this is a terrible practice and women should be respected and treated nicely. But then. Have you seen what girls wear when they go out? God knows I’m a very open minded person. I was naked on the cover of my first book (called “From Barbie to Vibrator”)! And now I live in LA. And get to see a lot. Of skin. And other stuff.

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Brave. And Selfish. And Disrespectful.

I simply had to see Brave - it is a story of a tough little medieval princess with gorgeous hair. I also still have a thing for Disney princesses. And fairytales. That incredible cloud of red curls, combined with the magic word “BRAVE” lured me for months from huge billboards all over LA. I was excited about it. I entered the cinema filled with expectation of romantic princess fun mixed with a bit of healthy emancipation. I left the cinema furious, agitated and full of anger. And unfortunately ended going to the only restaurant in the neighborhood where they don’t serve hard liquor. It took two glasses of red wine to get the bear out of my head. Yes, the bear.

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And my Oscar goes to: The Skin

I know it’s 2 days later, but the Oscar just won’t leave me alone.

Yes, there was the one great painful irony of the night: Billy Crystal noticing how refreshing it is in the midst of the global financial crisis to celebrate millionaires giving each other golden statues. Funny. Sad.

But there was another one that went unnoticed. And was even sadder. It was the Oscar for best documentary short. It went to “Saving Face”, a documentary about a plastic surgeon who is helping women who have been injured in acid attacks. It was extremely strange to see clips from the movie showing the suffering of Pakistani women whose faces – and lives – have been destroyed by men throwing acid at them. And then to see Kodak theatre filled with women who just returned from appointments with plastic surgeons in which they paid to have acid put on their faces. And do some (reconstructive?) surgery. For millions of dollars. To make them look younger. So they appeal to men.

No, I have  never seen skin like in LA. Tight, shiny, ageless, story-less, wrinkle-less. Skin that looks beyond young: Skin that looks artificial, plastic. Skin worth a fortune. Skin that went through quite a lot of pain to look that way. Skin that was exposed to acid and cut to pieces in order to attract. Isn’t that some kind of tyranny? Some kind of punishment?

And there it was. The Skin. Right there in that room: Meryl Streep with a forehead of a 18 years old, J.Lo. with a skin 15 years younger, Angie looking like…. something not human. All applauding to “Saving Face”.

Ouch.