KEYNOTE: Closing Keynote: Women in the Media, Women Making Media.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 6, 2011
CLOSING KEYNOTE: WOMEN IN THE MEDIA. WOMEN MAKING MEDIA.
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>> LISA STONE: Hey, everyone! Welcome to our closing keynote.
(Loud cheers and applause.)
>> LISA STONE: Now at this point you've recovered from last night fully and you're ready to go again, right?
Well, I don't think that we can have a better panel to kick us off into the end of 2011 and 2012 than with this panel. We have Fatemeh Fakhraie from Muslimah Media Watch; we have Carol Jenkins from the Women's Media Center; and someone you may have heard of named Ricki Lake.
Welcome to BlogHer. Welcome to BlogHer.
Before we start I had wanted to give you guys a sense of how I thought it would be most fun to spend our next hour. We have to end right at 6.
That is we have the Twitter handles up on the big screen here. I'm going to each them to kick off with an introduction, what they are working on. Show us an example. Fatemeh has a great screen shot we are going to show you. We have two short video clips. Then I would like to go to questions as soon as possible after that. I would like to know where the three wonderful mic wranglers are. Stand up for me.
One, two, and three.
If you have a question these guys would love it if you raise your hand. We'll come to you and get to as many as we can.
Fatemeh, take it away.
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: So I am Fatemeh Fakhraie. Muslimah Media Watch.org is a website that looks at global media representation of Muslim women. I'm also a contributor to a book called I Speak For Myself which is about 40 American Muslim women like myself talking about our lives as American Muslims.
I really want to thank Lisa, the whole BlogHer team for the amazing opportunity to be up here with these two distinguished media mavens and for the opportunity to be in the room with a roomful of kick ass bloggers.
>> LISA STONE: Fatemeh, it would be interesting for you to show us a slide. You mentioned a Twitter slide backstage and our crack team pulled it up.
Feel free to get up if you want to see it.
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: Okay. Well, so this is a quote from Muhammad Ali Jinnah, one of the founders of Pakistan. "Two powers are in the world. One is the pen and one is the sword. The power greater than both of these is of the women."
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: For me, that's what BlogHer is. As women, we are the world's most powerful force. As bloggers we are an invaluable thought leaders.
So I thought that was particularly appropriate.
>> LISA STONE: When you and I got on the phone you said you wanted to see in the coming year no more stories about the Islamic head scarf.
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: Yes, I'm just sick about stories about the head scarf and banning it, not banning it. It's a bunch of people telling women what to wear. We are all grown women. We don't need anyone to tell us what to wear or what not to wear.
>> LISA STONE: Where is the PhD In Parenting. This is like the keynote.
Tell us what you're working on that, what is the big story that was really important?
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: Big story. Unfortunately, it has to do with the Islamic veiling. It's everywhere in the media. We are a media site. And media criticism site. We focus on things in the media whether we like it or not. Something we are proud of is there have been a lot of stories about banning women who wear the head scarf from playing soccer, both FIFA banned the Iranian women's team and places in Canada and the U.S. it's all over the place. We worked together with another website called AQSAzine, coming up with the Right To Wear campaign. Basically it's creating awareness for the right of women to wear what is safe, of course, but also their choice on the field. There's no reason to bar anyone from playing soccer just for covering their hair.
So the Right To Wear campaign included a lot of kind of like flash games. Like flash mobs, but games where women would come together and play soccer and then we would Tweet about it and there would be lots of local media coverage in the selected areas. That was kind of fun.
>> LISA STONE: That's fantastic.
Ricki, you have been working on a few things yourself. Can you tell us what you have been doing?
>> RICKI LAKE: Thank you so much for welcoming me here. I'm a new by, but a quick study and I'm so into it. I'm so into the power of social media and particularly with women. When you said taking back power, I did my talk show for 11 years and really was so grateful to have that platform and be the voice of that audience and those people have grown up like I've grown up. I have been off the air for eight years and many of you know I made a documentary called the business of being born.
>> RICKI LAKE: Thank you. It actually has been the most fulfilling work I have ever done. Doesn't pay a light bill. In fact I funded the movie myself and never broke even, never even came close. Abby Epstein and I, my partner, felt that we tapped into this discussion that was not being heard or talked about. And it stemmed from my birth experiences, my sons 14 and ten years old. One I had in the hospital and one at home in water and both with midwives. I felt like I needed to use my high profile status to talk about something I believed goes way beyond just becoming a mother. Becoming a mother is an amazing right of passage. If we women can have our children in a way that we are honored and respected and empowered, we can do anything. And it happened to me. I mean, I had such an amazing life changing experience having my second son on my own terms and going against the grain. I felt this is an area that I can do some good and raise awareness. You see the statistics now. There's a 20 percent rise in home birth. I met a woman who had her baby and saw my film and she was seven months pregnant and switched practices. I'm not about telling people to stay out of the hospital. I'm about educating consumers about knowing the choices they have.
>> LISA STONE: What is so interesting about that, you decided to create media to get the word out. We have a film clip.
>> RICKI LAKE: We have a follow up series. There were more questions after the first film, so Abby and I have been working on another educational series.
>> LISA STONE: Let's look at the clip.
>>: This has continued to amaze us. We decided what we wanted to do was make a series of educational videos. So people who saw the business of being born and were inspired by it but needed a little bit more practical information would have some tools.
>>: One of the most important things is hearing from women about their positive birth experiences.
>>: Women give birth in hospitals, some cases they had emergency C sections. They had home births. It's all different. The one thing they have in common is they are empowering great birth stories.
>>: I think the drive was sort of, what would I want to see if I were pregnant? When you are pregnant, especially for the first time, I mean, you cannot get enough information. You just cannot get enough.
It's fascinating subject matter. I think women are going to love it.
(End of video.)
>> LISA STONE: Cool.
>> RICKI LAKE: It has been amazing. You know, it's so I made John Waters films when I was a kid and did a silly show for a few years, and going back on the air with another talk show next year. In so many ways it's me, but it's the evolved me. I'm 42 years old now and the things I care about now are different than what I thought I cared about when I was 24 when I started. Making this film and starting this birth revolution is just, it sort of gives my, the work I do meaning and I feel so good about what I'm putting out in the world. Through social media.
We raised money on kick starter because I put out $450,000 of my own money in the first film. I couldn't keep putting the money in. Yes, I make money, but I have huge overhead. We use kick starter as a way to reach out to the community affected by the film. Asked them to give $1.50 and raised $132,000 in 20 days. It was so powerful. It makes the work I do so meaningful.
>> LISA STONE: Can I quickly ask, when you got those donations, what was the average donation increment?
>> RICKI LAKE: My gosh, women having natural births and midwives, they are not rich. They don't have a lot of money to spare. Kick starter is interesting. It's not about donating money. You pledge money and get something in return.
I'll tell you quickly an amazing story. An obstetrician in Wasilla, Alaska, of all places.
One of the silly things we put on the pledge list. If somebody pledged $10,000, I would fly to their home town and host a baby shower for them. This obstetrician wrote to me on Facebook. He told me the story. He's the only obstetrician in the area that backs up the midwives in the home births. He has been working 24/7 since January because the other doctors backed out. They don't want the midwife train wrecks. He has been honoring the women and their births.
He pledged $10,000 for me to come there in three weeks to host a baby shower, host a screening and raise awareness about the need for integrated care.
We need the midwives and the obstetricians. In other countries, they have better outcomes and infant mortality rates and we need to integrate it more. I'm not an expert. I don't claim to be. I'm not a doctor. Simply someone who has this experience. I have this voice and use it to raise awareness and ask questions.
>> LISA STONE: Let me ask you Fatemeh, how do you pay for Muslimah Media Watch? Is it volunteer? Do you have a tip jar, do you have a
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: It's all volunteer. We need to get on that! It's often out of my own pocket.
>> LISA STONE: It's interesting. Creative women who want to make media end up fining ways to fund it eventually. It's interesting where you were.
>> RICKI LAKE: When you care about something, social media is an incredibly powerful platform. I'm seeing people that I recognize, that I follow in the audience. You know, the power of these women in this room, it's really amazing. I'm happy to be one of them.
>> LISA STONE: Good, welcome.
Carol Jenkins knows a little bit about women's media. She has run Women's Media Center for a long time. What have you been working on, Carol?
>> CAROL JENKINS: Well, it's still media. We call it our family business. Both my father and stepfather are journalists and my daughter is a writer. And I spent 30 years reporting in television out of New York City and running Women's Media Center getting that up and going. What am I doing now? I'm blogging.
>> CAROL JENKINS: I started my blog. Mine is concentrating on as you might guess, women and girls and people of color, the way they participate in and are covered by the media because I still feel that as much progress as we've made, we still are just a fraction of the participants. Most of the stories are not about us. So it's still an uphill battle.
So I'm doing that and I'm writing the book about all of the generations working in this.
My fathers, it always gets complicated, but families are. We are both active in the Black press. In that, my biological father covered the president but for the Black press and my stepfather created the first magazine for African American soldiers during World War II.
>> LISA STONE: What was the name?
>> CAROL JENKINS: News pick and preceded Ebony actually.
My daughter is a big online, Internet person. So we just follow that entire thing.
But the important thing, still on the board of the women's immediate center, big gala by the way on November 30th in New York City. We expect you all to come.
The important thing that I think in this phase is that we have so many things that we're interested in. I heard some of the conversations today talking about our blogs and we are only doing X when our life experience includes so much more.
For me, I chair African Medical and Research Foundation, which is here in the United States, which is the largest African health organization on the continent. We work in 30 countries. I'm about to go to Uganda following one of our doctors, working with African doctors. Our theory is that we want to build up the health work force in African. Shortages, all kinds of health personnel needed.
We are going into remote areas of Uganda to do fistula work. This is important for so many women childbirth because they don't have facilities.
>> CAROL JENKINS: You know, actually they're destroyed in the process of giving birth. This ability to restore them.
I'm a farm girl. I work with the humane farm care society. We are the ones who give that label: Certified humane. We certify restaurants and shops and all. We have certified followers here.
So a varying degree of things in what I can do now is take that expression no matter what I do now, the need is media, communication. If you don't have that, you can't raise the money. You can't effectively bring people that you need to your work unless you can communicate.
And Indra Nooyi I thought I don't know if you were there when she talked about the fact of being at Yale Business College, and she failed the communication course that was necessary to move up.
That spoke to me about this very basic need of telling our story. For me, it's who is telling the story. Women and girls and people of color are the ones who don't get to tell the story.
>> CAROL JENKINS: That's my work.
>> LISA STONE: You had a big affect on a project that has made quite a hit on the film circuit at Sundance and other places, "Misrepresentation."
>> LISA STONE: Can you share the story of that?
>> CAROL JENKINS: We worked with Jennifer Seville Newsome to do the interviews. The research was ours that we helped them compile. We were in Sundance. What you are going to see is what runs generally before the film is shown, which is a bunch of young women with their take on how to deal with a lot of "Misrepresentation", you know, is the statistics, the facts about how much were left out. And this is their way of presenting that.
>> LISA STONE: Okay.
>> CAROL JENKINS: From Sundance.
>> LISA STONE: Let's take a look.
>> CAROL JENKINS: Actually we could have done a four hour film of just that, showing how much we are excluded.
And I did want to mention that we work with, these are college young women, but we do work with girls and we had a great summit this year called the Spark Summit. We have young girls blogging at sparksummit.org. We hope you will include the young girls in whatever work that you do and follow their work as well, as well as Women's Media Center.com. I think I earned my
>> LISA STONE: I think you have. Before I ask you guys question, I want to mention, I don't know if you know, but Women's Media Center has a fantastic newsletter. If you sign up, it will send you alerts. You should be getting this newsletter. It will tell you the latest hot statistics, trends, et cetera.
Whether it's Michelle Obama or Sarah Palin who is being misrepresented in the media, it's something that WMC takes on. I believe so much in the organization.
We will ask questions. For you, how did you guys fund that?
>> CAROL JENKINS: As you can see, the budget wasn't very big.
>> LISA STONE: That was high quality black and white!
>> CAROL JENKINS: That was everything was donated. There's that, which makes the point that the "Misrepresentation" which was quite an expensive, that was if you have ever, that was a huge fund raising effort. I participated in some of that, going to small gatherings around the country asking women to put in money to make sure the film is made.
And they did. I think that there are women ready and able to give funds of all levels. Whether it's five dollars, and then you have a huge growing population of extremely wealthy women like, I know there's a representative of the women donors network, a group of women who take on projects and fund them and their participation in all of this is very important because in that regard you're not talking about small amounts. You're talking about the collective capability of making things happen.
>> LISA STONE: Yes, absolutely.
Okay. Let's dig in.
Questions? Any mic wrangler can take it away. Go for it.
By the way we will try to keep the Q&A moving along. I'll try not to be too interruptive or mood.
>> AUDIENCE: I'm a doula and I have to thank you. You've made so many of my clients change their minds. So many people are dead set on having the babies in the hospital and they come to me and say I watched that video and I want a home birth and I want midwives.
>> RICKI LAKE: I have chills on the back of my neck.
>> AUDIENCE: I wanted to thank you for that. And I wanted to note, if you could speak a bit about seeing midwives and doulas connecting through seeing media and what you've seen. You've seen plenty of Tweets and things like that from those people.
>> RICKI LAKE: I have 3,000 Facebook friends. Most of them is the birthing community. I'm constantly re sharing information.
Stuff that is fascinating to me. I never get sick of this material. It was so exciting to me in this film that people do care about this stuff and it warms my heart to hear that people are getting the information.
Again, my cause is not to get people out of the hospital. My cause is to get women to ask the questions, do their due diligence and know that they have rights. They can make choices in the hospital. They can refuse to have their baby taken away. They can be skin to skin. If they only knew to demand this kind of care, then it makes it so much better with bonding, breast feeding, all of it. And being a better mother and being empowered.
Yes, there's a huge, huge wave of people on Facebook and Twitter. I just found out, I don't know if I shared it, in the Middle East, what's going on, water birth in hospitals there. It's inspiring and it's through social media that we're getting this information. I plan to take that same effect with my new show. The stuff I think we can cover that is not being covered on television in daytime.
So I'm really excited about this opportunity. Thank you.
>> LISA STONE: Next question?
>> AUDIENCE: Hi. I'm Annie from PhD In Parenting. I was interested in some of the statistics in the film in terms of the representation in media. I find that I get quite often to be asked to be a media source but always in women's issues in particular. What do we have to do to make sure that women's voices are heard universally across all issues and not just on issues related to women in particular.
>> LISA STONE: Great question.
>> CAROL JENKINS: Those are things that we tackled right at the beginning. I must say that while we did a lot of work with network executives, not only explaining to them and showing them videos of how awfully sexist their on air people had been, but in trying to help them find a way.
Now, we do two things at the Women's Media Center, we train women how to be pundits, whether they are heads corporations or writers. We created the largest database of women spokespersons in every single area. What I used to say, to your point, we have women in this database who could build a bomb, they could build it, a nuclear bomb. They would rather not, but they can explain all the issues surrounding that. Life, death, war, politics, everything.
So that the women who are we have capable women. So the question is getting them to the sources and making sure that they talk about the economy. I think that there was some progress in this go round. It's never enough. When somebody says to me, you know they actually had a woman or two.
I say, it was always, give us half at least. 50 percent. If you are going to have four people up there, two of them should be women because there is no argument that the women are not capable for it.
But I think that's, that point of looking at the database of hundreds of thousands of women who could talk on any single topic. So when the producers and bookers are making their calls about who can speak, they cannot give the argument that they don't exist. That's something that we all have to work on to say: What about so and so? I heard her talk about it. Call her.
The other thing that has to happen, that woman has to be ready to do it because we have a great life is more complicated for us, you know? I'm back, what about the hair, you know?
>> CAROL JENKINS: So we have recommended when we first started she source, brought it under, the first week was like hell because we call these women and we would say hey, you've got to be there in 20 minutes. They would say what the hell! There's no way.
So the guys are like, I'm making over generalizations, of course, but they're there.
But the subject is not quite a woman's purview she would say you should probably ask someone else, I'm not that expert.
The men generally say give me ten minutes.
So I think we have to be ready to, as much as we can to just jump into it and do it. Then it will become a little bit easier.
>> LISA STONE: I'm interested in your question, Fatemeh. You had so many stories about the head scarf to cover. That is both one of the most superficial but also perhaps for an outside culture, the easiest thing to cover. It's like the difference between talking about the actual history of the Arab Israeli conflict and doing a story on the yarmulke.
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: It's frustrating.
>> LISA STONE: Have you been asked to be on television, asked about what women are experiencing, doing, writing?
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: Yes and no. I have been on Danish television, but not American television.
I have been on radio shows. I write OpEds.
And I would like to take that opportunity to plug the OpEd project, if any of you have heard of it.
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: It's a really great I'm sorry, it's like the end of the day and I'm just blanking.
It's a wonderful project put together by Katherine Katie Orenstein.
>> LISA STONE: If you go to BlogHer.com and look her up, you'll be able to read all about Katie Orenstein and the project.
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: It's a wonderful program. It's not like you think it's an OpEd project and you're going to learn how to write OpEd, no, that's not actually what happens.
What happens is, they show you the breadth and the hugeness of your expertise. Sorry to give it away, but it's a wonderful program. I definitely suggest you check it out.
>> LISA STONE: One of the things I can say is if, we are asked all the time to help major media to source bloggers. So going into election 2012, open something on that topic in your blog. Implement it in some way in your blog once a week and you'll get indexed and found and be recommended forward as an expert by someone and your own voices are so profoundly compelling. Women who are blogging are being turned to as authorities, but we are being treated like other women in the media.
Where is the mic wrangler over on that side? Go for it!
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you. I wanted to ask you a question. I think directed more towards Fatemeh Fakhraie. What do you think about the relationship between women in the west and women in the developing world? Do you feel that they are seen as equals? Because I feel that the idea, like they are seen as oppressed from a very narrow minded perspective. Or like the idea that women in the west feel that they are liberating them in a way, you know?
Do you feel that it's a complicated relationship. What is your perspective?
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: That was for me, right?
>> LISA STONE: I'm sorry, we had trouble hearing. What is your perspective on women in the west and how they are interacting with women in the east or treating women in the east. Is that a fair representation?
>> AUDIENCE: Yes.
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: That is actually a wonderful question. I have been going on a bunch of book reads for I speak fore myself lately and the audience, I get a lot of questions about, you know, what can we do to help women over there? Which is very frustrating.
>> LISA STONE: Why?
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: I'll just say right off because oh, how much time do you have?
>> LISA STONE: Let's start with the definition of "over there."
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: Always there is always, I think. Perfect. Over there.
It's never here. It's always over there. In the Middle East, in Africa, in Asia, it's always over there. It's never here.
And that's one of my biggest problems with that question is that you kind of it kind of assumes that problems are more, there are no problems here to solve. That women here, we are all just fine. Nobody here needs help.
Everybody other there. It ethos poor sad ladies who need help.
That's one of my biggest issues with that question.
But another issue I have with that is the idea that those women over there need our help. That they are not capable of helping themselves.
One of the most, just the best analogies I give is that of women suffrage in the U.S.
Women here fought for their own right to vote. Canada didn't come in and say: Listen, you have to let those ladies vote. That's not how it happened. We fought for years, decades, generations. But eventually we got the right to vote ourselves.
And I don't understand why the people who ask me this question wouldn't think of the women over there being able to do the same thing.
They are not on the same timeline, not on the same track that we are, but these women sisters are doing it for themselves, trust me.
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: We are all going to get there.
>> LISA STONE: Great question.
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: Did that answer your question, I hope?
>> AUDIENCE: Yeah, thank you.
>> LISA STONE: Next question?
>> AUDIENCE: Hi. My name is Rachel and I'm with Nomadic Stories, working with women and girls in the developing world to come together and create their own media, basically, and tell their own stories.
My question for you today is really, it seems like a lot of the discussion this weekend has been about having people from the outside define us, define our issues, what you were saying with the head scarf or representation.
I was also thinking about all of the sessions that I sat in where they are talking about women really, just knowing how powerful you are, your buying power, writing power isn't just: Oh, I'm only a Mommy blogger.
What advice do you have for bloggers, Mommy bloggers who help them understand your perspective on the power that they have to represent their point of view. That maybe there's something besides Mommy bloggers, I guess.
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: I'm not totally clear. That's a wonderful range of questions and it's a thesis, in fact. Is there one question that you really want?
>> AUDIENCE: I'm thinking in terms of representation and in terms of us defining the terms of the discussion. What advice would you have for us women in here with the power of the pen to do that? And to feel that we have the power to do that?
>> RICKI LAKE: That is brilliant.
>> AUDIENCE: I hate microphones.
>> RICKI LAKE: That's brilliant. You're ripping on that fabulous Twitter and saying if women is the third power and the greatest to your excellent point, what do we do? What is your challenge moving into 2012, what would you challenge this community to do?
>> RICKI LAKE: That's where she went.
>> CAROL JENKINS: Are you looking at me?
>> RICKI LAKE: I feel like you have the answer.
>> CAROL JENKINS: You have got the when I was coming here my daughter said be sure to tell Ricki thanks a lot. She's a rock star in this new world. You've taken a subject and you have reached millions of women with that and with the that's the power.
>> RICKI LAKE: But I believe it's the power of all of us sharing our story. It doesn't work with just one person. It's one person tells one person, one person tells one person.
It's this forum that we all have the power. For me going back to work and really making a very tough choice, whether to give up the lifestyle that I have where I have freedom and time to myself, I'm going back to work because I feel like I have a lot to say. I am completely authentic. I think all of us need to tell our own story and share our own concerns.
I'm learning from all of you. I think I have 500 people I follow on Twitter and all these friends in Facebook and now I'm doing Google+. The topics we get from our show is going to come from a lot of you here. I came back from vacation early and didn't see my kids off on the bus to cam will today because I believe this platform is so four powerful. We need to learn from each other and be our authentic true selfs and share concerns without judgment.
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: To like sort of extend off of that, there was a panel earlier about being a local celebrity. And I think that what we need to realize is the power that we have within our circles.
Take some time. Explore your circles. Not necessarily the Google+ circles, but the social media circles, blogging circles. Who is in there? I learned that a very prominent Islamic scholar is following Muslimah Media Watch. We're one of 20 people he follows. That's can I say fuck here?
Who is following you? Who is on your Facebook? Who comments on your blog? Figure out what they do and then just realize where your spheres of influence are. It's like a ripple. It's so much bigger than you think.
>> CAROL JENKINS: I do have one thing I would like to add. A small thing. That is that I spent many years in mainstream media and so feel that I have the right I complained about it then, I certainly have been complaining about it ever since.
But certainly now I think that we know that it has certain grand failures to address issues that are important to us. What I see in this room, I see you as the purveyor of that information, of information that is important to us.
When the famine occurs and mainstream media doesn't realize 11 million people are starving. I said in my blog, that doesn't happen overnight. Somehow we are defining news as it's too late to do anything about it except to say: Isn't that a shame?
What I would love to see is to find a way and BlogHer is doing some of this, but to connect the power of all of the blogs in BlogHer and more, to tell the story of what's going on in the world and what is important.
And to expand, no matter what your concentration is. What I would hope for is a little news widget, you know, that every single blog in this room at this conference had, that told the story of what was happening to people that we care about and things that we need to do.
That's what I would say, that we really need to figure out a way to coalesce, talk about what is important to us, women, children, people who are poor, immigrants, all of those things that are simply not getting enough influence.
>> LISA STONE: Grow your spheres of influence and set your agenda which is a leadership imprimatur in the next year, right?
>> CAROL JENKINS: Yes.
>> LISA STONE: Next question. Right here. Do we have a mic wrangler? Thank you.
>> AUDIENCE: I'm Jennifer Pozner. I wanted to say that this room focusing the last keynote on BlogHer on women in the media gives me I don't know if there's anyone in the room who speaks Yiddish. I feel (naffitz.)
I founded Women In Media and News, a feminist advocacy and education group. I founded it in 2001. At the time there was no BlogHer or Women's Media Center or no She Source, another power source, a network of women's news expert.
It was five or six years of working in what felt like a total vacuum until we started to see real community.
Now the fact that we are all in this room focused on not only how to improve representation of women in media but also create our own media is amazing. I want to congratulate you. I would like to push the conversation a little bit further and ask the panelists, Carol, I know you know this and Fatemeh as well.
How can we in this room as media activists, right, start to talk about institutional issues top down with media, races, all this content doesn't occur in a bubble. How can we look at FCC issues, policy issues that affect the way women and our communities in their various incarnations are represented. Who has access? Women have 3 percent of clout titles in media and other companies, for example.
I want to see what Carol has to say. Women's Media Center did a lot of work with the FCC, Fatemeh, what are your thoughts, Lisa, Ricki?
>> AUDIENCE: I want to say, if anybody wants to get in touch through the Power Sources Project, our website is WIMN online.
>> CAROL JENKINS: Thank you. Jenn does fabulous work.
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: Basically, before I let you guys take it away, the best place to start is requesting. Specifically questioning authority. Questioning where we are getting our news. Why we are getting the news we are getting. Why not the news that is important to us. Questions is the best place to start. If you have no background in media criticism, start questioning. Asking why, where, who, what?
>> RICKI LAKE: I completely agree. You have to advocate for yourself. No one is going to do it for you.
My focus, I feel like there's so many causes that are important to me. One that I found via TED. I was at TED this year. The Girl Effect. I keep sharing, everything I find on Twitter, I re share and re share. They give me ideas of how like Mother's Day, give these gifts to my friends and get them involved in Girl Effect.
I have, my goal is what I'm learning through the BlogHers and everyone who is here and all this stuff, the information I'm gaining, I hope to use my power with this new project, this new show to kind of share the stuff that matters to us and I want feedback from you all. I'm going to have access. You guys can come to me and tell me what matters and what you want to see. Obviously my platform is going to be more on daytime television and it's going to be an opportunity to really branch out and cover a lot of bases.
>> LISA STONE: Let me ask you about that. What is the name of your show? When does it air and how should the community give you feedback? I can feel your producers thinking: Oh, my God, they are going to unleash
>> RICKI LAKE: No, they hired me. It's the Ricki Lake Show. It's very much the evolved Ricki Lake Show. It will have the elements, I think, that made the old show work. I'm very much still me.
But again, I said it before. The stuff that matters to a 42 year old woman going through a horrible divorce and dealing with body image and aging and aging in the media and raising my teenage son to respect his mother.
>> RICKI LAKE: It's a process. Unlike Oprah, you know, I am not an expert. I'm trying to figure it out. I'm every woman.
So the show is really about a conversation. My stage. We just shot a pilot. Oprah, you feel I love Oprah. I am not dissing Oprah. She is a woman who told me how to live my best life and what book to read.
I have no idea how you should live your best like. I want to figure it out with you.
Even in building the set, it was about the audience being a part of it. It wasn't a stage. It was very much like a comfortable environment for us to share information.
So I'm going to use this opportunity again to come back and hopefully make a difference, in the way the birthing world shifted from the little movie I made. I made three and a half or, over three and a half years. It's changing the system little by little. I hope the show is really an opportunity, a platform to talk about the issues that matter to all of you and us.
>> LISA STONE: Great. What does it launch?
>> RICKI LAKE: September 2012. We hope to use social media to gain awareness for the show and I have high hopes it's even better than I can imagine.
>> LISA STONE: Great. Congratulations. That's very exciting.
>> RICKI LAKE: Thank you very much. Tweet me at Ricki Lake, you know? Start a conversation with me and I will absolutely use whatever advice, questions, feedback to give people to the show that they want.
>> LISA STONE: It's interesting, Carol, you use all kind of media talent. We have in front of you, executives, major producers, there are people you are helping to rise through the ranges. How would you answer that question? What is important, what is the most disruptive thing that can be done?
>> CAROL JENKINS: As they both suggested, I think we have to pay attention. We have to confront mainstream media.
Because as it's interesting. I was reading the Washington Post ombudsman who said recently that the local Washington Post, the Metro, their reporters are required to Tweet and to Facebook. It's not like you have an option to do it. You have to do it.
It is because the reporters who do and then who here is the trick. Because of the Tweets and the followers, they then get to go on TV and talk about the issues.
That's the new route to punditry. It's your followers. If you can say I have 5,000 people, in the case of the two reporters they mention in this story, it was like 80,000 followers each that they had. And wasn't that great? Because they were doing Facebook and Twitter.
But then what I say is, what really boosts that is the television appearances on cable where they talk about it.
Here is the thing, when we started Women's Media Center the figure was 3 percent of the women who had positions of clout, positions to hire, fire, when it gets to the buck stops here place. 3 percent.
It's still 3 percent! When we were talking about OpEd writers, it was only 24 percent. It may be 26 percent. I mean, so the progress has come so slowly. Some of it is that the networks do not cultivate their benches. So they may have one person waiting in the Wings for whatever opening comes up. They don't have five or six or ten that it requires to move people up the ranges, women and people of color to take their places.
That has to happen. You can't summarily as they have tried oh, we need a Black person. There, you, are you Black? Go do it!
>> CAROL JENKINS: Because they really do not have. Let's see, I have 12 women that I can promote to anchor the network news. Which of these 12 of varying hues and expertise and whatever, are qualified? As they are doing with the men.
So that we have to protest. We have to let them know.
They've gotten away with it for so long, as Jenn knows, they think they can get away with it forever.
The progress is so slow except now we have Katie Couric, Candy Crowley, Christiane Amanpour, Rachel Maddow. When the Women's Media Center began, it wouldn't have happened.
We go to the networks or CNN and say you know who your best person is for this? Candy Crowley. They are like oh, oh, oh. No, we don't think on he owe she doesn't quite fit the image, you know?
She's doing a fantastic job.
I think it is getting in their face and using your followers and protesting and saying, even though we are creating our own alternate source of information, we can't let you then still get away with what you're getting away with.
>> RICKI LAKE: The power of the viewer is incredible. It's amazing how the conversations shifted. When I go behind the scenes to advocate for, and blog.
>> LISA STONE: There was a great statement on Thursday, in a session with Ree Drummond and Kathryn Finney. They were going through how to grow your blog into a media company. Kathryn said: Shake your tail feathers, ladies. Shake your tail feathers.
I tell you it should not be hard for me to come to your blogs and find more about you and media about you and more about the latest media about you.
And your point, Ricki, don't be judgy. It would be the latest coolest news about you and you can say I recommend this person because she recommended X and that will grow the credibility with the person I am saying should have her on the air, excerpt in the magazine or whatever.
Okay, next question.
I see hands.
>> AUDIENCE: Right here. Thank you. Sorry for my English. I am from Brazil. I travel so much to came here and I'm positively
>> AUDIENCE: It is a surprise to come here.
My name is Ludmila. I have a blog that is a local blog. My question is, blogs in Brazil have huge explosion in 2,008. Major fashion blogs, beauty blogs and stuff.
I was surprised when I came here because I see women of all types and all ages. In Brazil, the major womens that blogs are teens or until 30 years.
I like to ask you how can I as a Brazilian, how can I make mobilizations to make that women that has more ages and more experience can share their experience with us? Because I always tell: Please, mom, can you start a blog? And women, all the women in Brazil are shy and think they can't use technology.
So what is your advice to stimulate this women to share their experience with us?
>> LISA STONE: You're awesome.
>> AUDIENCE: Nooooo!
>> LISA STONE: I have to say, I think the conference is the way to go. The greatest ice breaker you can possibly have, get a group of like minded interested people in the room and have them help each other. I think that you can find a couple of women in that age group.
Of course, there are ongoing key issues of access by women to technology. There are certain sections of your population, just like the populations that we cover that never will be able to get online to read or participate on blogs.
If you look at the community that is and encourage a couple of women to take on leadership roles and start talking about it, you can convince people that if they can write an e mail, they can write a blog.
And I think a get together would be a good thing. I would button hole Elisa Camahort Page after the event. Buy her a drink or three. Have her make some suggestions on a starter conference for that age group. She's spoken at the baby boomer conventions on our behalf a number of times, although she's barely a boomer. Go for it.
>> CAROL JENKINS: I do want to say I saw this group of women beginning BlogHer at the very beginning. Congratulations. I mean, you have really, really
>> CAROL JENKINS: What, were there 12 bloggers at your first conference?
>> LISA STONE: Actually there were 305 from four continents, which drove us right off the edge. And today
>> CAROL JENKINS: Today 3600?
>> LISA STONE: Slightly more than 3600 total attendance.
>> CAROL JENKINS: That's just fabulous.
>> LISA STONE: Very powerful. You all are amazing.
>> AUDIENCE: Hello. My name is Ashley. I write for Huffington Post and my own blog Ashley in New York. Ricki, there's a book, the red tent, a great book about women solidarity.
Carol Jenkins, one time I was in college and I wrote this essay about how there's a lot of sexist images of women on TV. I got a B and he said it was because it was my opinion.
I did all the extra credit in the class available to get an A in the class. To spite me, he still gave me a B. It pissed me so much, I think that's why I'm an activist now.
>> AUDIENCE: My question is, I have been doing work with Black Girls Rock in New York City. It's to help young Black women with self esteem. I see a lot of times in the media that women of color are objectified, even in hip hop culture. I have been trying to talk to the media organizations even the ones that are African American specific and they are not doing much. It's frustrating. I have three little sisters and I want to empower them.
My question is, how do we, as all women, how do we storm the gates and be like: Stop with all these images! You're making these little girls think they are objects and stuff like that. Low self esteem.
>> CAROL JENKINS: Right. Well, it starts so young. Interesting about "Misrepresentation", the film when you see it, the things that you don't even think about, the tack that tinker bell is not wearing any clothes.
The networks would tell things like that, sexism, women are not buying. We complain to the networks and they would tell us the same thing. It was just our opinion that their people were being sexist. You know? We did the video and we had a little traveling show. Everybody would show up. Because we had Gloria Steinem or, God forbid, Jane Fonda may show up in the screening room.
At any rate we would show them an hour or so of what their people had said and had the nerve to say on the air. And even recently with progressives.
Here is the thing, the Women's Media Center is a progressive organization, Jane Fonda, Carol Jenkins, Gloria Steinem, we are a progressive organization.
Yet sexism is something not defined by partisanship. When someone calls someone a slut or flake or whatever, whether it's directed at a woman, we just really don't have the option of not responding to that.
So it is responding to sexism where it's seen. It's not so hard to find the evidence, you know? You record it. You catalog it. You share it with your friends and you get it to the network. You petition.
All of these are things that worked before.
Like I said, signing those petitions to say: Stop it! We are aware of it. You just have to stop.
I think certainly with Black women, women of color who are the ones who are most vacant. You know, I keep saying, name five women who are working, women of color who have important jobs on the air, behind the scenes. Progress is being made, but it's a vacuum.
I think that it's not your opinion. There are sexists. But for Black, for the Black population epitome means that we have to go to the root in our own community of where it's happening and we cannot just say oh, it's happening over there. We have to as sale within our own community where a great deal of damage is being done and draw the line and say stop.
>> RICKI LAKE: That gets back to I would love to hear your thoughts and give you guys each an opportunity to wrap up. We are just about out of time.
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: I think the best you can do is team up because women of color obviously, there's not just Black women. This affects Latina women, Middle East earn women. I don't know if you saw that ridiculous summer's Eve advertisement. You know what I'm talking about. That's offensive to every single vagina on the planet. Apparently Middle Eastern women don't have vaginas. We weren't included. Team up. Storm the gates and be like: WTF. This and this and this and this.
If you team up, there's just, you'll have an Army. That's where you'll get work done.
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: I do have a vagina, by the way.
>> LISA STONE: Okay, on that note ...
>> LISA STONE: I just want to thank you all so much for the leadership you're providing and give you an opportunity to say one last thing. I don't care if it's what you don't want to see in the next year or one more project you're working on or any other insight you have to share with us. Fatemeh?
>> FATEMEH FAKHRAIE: Please look me up on Twitter and Facebook, Fatemeh F, and if any of you one thing I would like to mention. Something I don't want to see anymore. Pseudoscience stories that we talked about this on the call and I have been itching to talk about it. I'll be quick. Pseudoscience stories that shore up stories about women in their lives. I have seen tons of stories how birth control makes a woman attracted to men who are less evolutionarily acceptable.
And Santosh Kanazawa's writing about how scientifically Black women are less attractive than white women. I don't want to see any more of that shit.
Now I'm done.
>> LISA STONE: Thank you, Dr. Fakhraie. I couldn't agree more.
>> RICKI LAKE: I was wishing my segue would be the vagina.
We have the documentary More Business of Being Born in November; Ricki Lake Show coming out in 2012; and I have a memoir coming in the spring of 2012.
I'm honored to be part of this community. I'm learning from you and appreciate you giving me a chance to speak. So thank you.
>> LISA STONE: Ricki, you are welcome. Thank you.
I need to ask you about More Business of Being Born. It comes out in November?
>> RICKI LAKE: We're self distributing it. We did grassroots screenings with the first film and people raised their hand and asked what is the difference between the doula and midwife? And these were questions we weren't able to answer in the first film.
We're going more into detail about VBAC, Vaginal Birth After Caesarean. They think Caesarean is safer for them when it's really not, unless it's a medical issue. It's safer from a legal standpoint and it's a whole can of worms. And 300 hospitals won't do VBAC and women don't know. Women who want a large family, with each subsequent Caesarean it's more difficult to do VBAC.
I think the follow up series will give women more information.
>> LISA STONE: Is mybirth.com the best place to go.
>> RICKI LAKE: That's the social networking site we launched to have more information for something like this. People want more information about midwives and where is a hospital that's going to honor my choices. They can get information.
>> LISA STONE: Great, when it's available in November, going to that site will tell us?
>> RICKI LAKE: I'll tell you on Twitter, Facebook.
>> CAROL JENKINS: Ricki, you don't ride the subways anymore in New York City. I finally made the connection. When they advertise the lawyers? You know how they have those advertising panels?
One payout was something like $70 million for a birth delivery, the usual way that went wrong.
And so because of that and many others, as you talk about the legal issues, you know, everybody is getting a C section because of those enormous, enormous payouts for when things good wrong.
>> RICKI LAKE: I grew up watching you in New York. I grew up in New York and watched you in reporting.
>> CAROL JENKINS: I'm loving watching your evolution.
>> RICKI LAKE: Thank you.
>> CAROL JENKINS: The one thing that I would say is that we are now entering, we are already in an extremely difficult time where we have issues of people going hungry, of not getting medical care, of not having safe water to drink. I'm not talking about in the countries that I work in. I'm talking about here.
Where women are dying in childbirth in New York City. In fact, Black women are dying for no explanation whatsoever. The women's E news is working.
>> CAROL JENKINS: working on that and you guys have been from the very beginning.
So that we know that we have this power and we know that, quote, mainstream media is failing and we know that major people, populations are suffering.
So we really have to do something about it. We have an election coming up. This is going to be extremely, an extremely difficult time. I know that everybody is fed up and pissed off and just really on he owe but this is a crucial time where your voices are absolutely needed to speak up for the issues that are most important to you. I hope they include the poor and I hope they include the children and the women, the girls, the young boys. You know, who are dropping off, so that we have a responsibility and so we need to make sure that we take it so that we don't wind up it's one thing to downgrade a stock. Standard & Poors just downgraded the credit rating of our country. It's another thing to have a country morally degraded. That's what's happening to us.
>> CAROL JENKINS: So we have to stop that from happening.
>> LISA STONE: Amen. I would love to suggest that we give it up to these amazing women who came to this panel. I'm so impressed. Thank you so much.
>> RICKI LAKE: If you want to have a drink, I'm having tequila at the tequila bar if you want to have a drink with me.
>> LISA STONE: At the Marriott?
>> RICKI LAKE: I think it's up here.
>> LISA STONE: I wanted to invite my cofounders up here with me.
We have one more little thing to announce. As you may have seen, we have an exciting additional conference that we have added this year. Because of a special relationship that I have been working on with the amazing people at Penguin this year, in New York for people who might have a book in them.
>> ELISA CAMAHORT PAGE: The first annual BlogHer Writers '11 brought to you by Penguin, October 21 in New York City with the reception the night before. Anybody who attended BlogHer Business, Entrepreurism and Technology conference in Silicon Valley in March? We're going to follow the model of peer networking, some programming, resources, mentoring, all of it designed for a small capacity to get really intensive time, guidance and with both experts and their peers, editors, publishers, writers. The register is open now and we hope we see you.
>> LISA STONE: If any of you saw the book country demo that Colleen gave, she is one of the people at penguin who is advocating for new writers. If you have a book in you, they want to know about it.
With that, tequila! Happy conference! Thanks, everybody. Thanks for a great conference!