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Sexist Super Bowl ads? #NotBuyingIt, some say
GoDaddy's "Kiss" ad drew criticism from men and women for stereotyping programmers and objectifying women.
February 5th, 2013
01:13 PM ET

Sexist Super Bowl ads? #NotBuyingIt, some say

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) - While this year's Super Bowl commercials ran the gamut from sentimental to silly, some were downright offensive to viewers who used the Twitter hashtag #NotBuyingIt to flag what they considered the most sexist spots of the night.

Web host GoDaddy.com earned more than 7,500 #NotBuyingIt tweets for its ad featuring an intimate smooch between supermodel Bar Refaeli and a bespectacled computer programmer, putting it at the top of the list of offenders, according to Miss Representation, the social activism nonprofit leading the Twitter campaign for the second year.

The "Perfect Match" and its "smart meets sexy" tagline drew criticism from men and women for "stereotyping programmers and objectifying women" in the words of one male Twitter user.

"@GoDaddy, continuing the tired stereotype that programmers are geeks, while women are sex objects. Disgusting," a female user tweeted.

Overall, #NotBuyingIt generated more than 10,000 tweets and reached more than 8 million people on Twitter during Sunday's Ravens-49ers showdown, a spokesman for Miss Representation said, citing statistics from Topsy and Hashtag.org.

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Filed under: Gender • History • Pop culture • Sports • What we think • Women
Native American designers fight cultural caricatures
November 30th, 2012
06:45 PM ET

Native American designers fight cultural caricatures

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) - This November, events nationwide celebrated the traditions, fashion and food of the nation's 566 recognized Indian tribes as part of Native American Heritage Month.

But a few high profile missteps surrounding the use of indigenous cultural imagery made bigger national headlines than any heritage month event.

First it was the release of No Doubt's Wild West-themed music video "Looking Hot," featuring teepees, fire dances and singer Gwen Stefani on horseback, a feather crowning her long blond braids. Then, supermodel Karlie Kloss walked the runway in a floor-length feather headdress, skimpy leopard-spotted bikini and turquoise jewelry at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

Both instances sparked allegations of "playing Indian" for profit, leading No Doubt and Victoria's Secret to publicly apologize. The gaffes also reignited debate over where to draw the line between cultural appropriation and appreciation and the extent to which non-Natives should represent Natives in mainstream media and pop culture.

Opinion: Just say no to "playing Indian"

The conversation is important, because acts of cultural appropriation are not simply isolated incidents of "hipsters in Navajo panties and pop stars in headdresses," said Sasha Houston Brown, a member of the Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska. They are byproducts of "systemic racism" that perpetuate the idea that there's no such thing as contemporary Native culture.

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Filed under: History • How we live • Native Americans
November 7th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin is first openly gay person elected to Senate

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) - Tammy Baldwin made history Tuesday night - twice. She became the first openly gay politician, and first Wisconsin woman, elected to the U.S. Senate.

The seven-term Democratic congresswoman edged past former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson in a win that advocacy groups hailed as a significant stride toward bringing diversity to the Senate.

"This is a big day for gay women in America, and really, for all communities who aren't the typical straight, white, wealthy men elected to Congress," political commentator Sally Kohn said.

Share your reaction to the election

There has never been an openly gay or lesbian member of the U.S. Senate, according to several LGBT advocacy groups. Baldwin is one of four openly gay House members, along with fellow Democrats Barney Frank, of Massachusetts; David Cicilline, of Rhode Island; and Jared Polis, of Colorado.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • History • Politics • Sexual orientation • Women
 Culture not a costume posters
October 29th, 2012
09:31 AM ET

In debate over offensive Halloween costumes, where's the line?

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) - They're familiar characters in the debate over controversial Halloween costumes: suicide bombers, geishas, gangsta rappers, rednecks and sexy nurses.

Such costumes regularly draw allegations of racism, sexism or insensitivity. But where do fully-clothed folk legends fit in?

American Apparel featured characters on both ends of the spectrum this month in its annual do-it-yourself Halloween costume guide. Below a collection of pin-up girl costumes - including a model donning a breast-baring serape - was "La Llorona," the ghostly weeping woman who kidnaps wandering children, according to folklore in parts of Latin America.

True, she was wearing a lace bustier under a shawl, but the layers upon layers make her appear more like the haunted bag lady than a sexy spirit.

Read: Sexy Little Geisha?' Not so much, say many Asian-Americans

It's the folk legend's cultural significance - and the lack of skin, save an inch of midriff - that, for some, make this costume more acceptable than sexy señoritas or Mexican tequila guy.

"One is mythology, and the other is a stereotype that comes with a lot of baggage," said feminist blogger Veronica Arreola, assistant director of the Center for Research on Women and Gender at University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Filed under: Discrimination • Ethnicity • How we live • Pop culture • Race • Social justice
Ann Coulter's backward use of the 'r-word'
Last month Ann Coulter said in a tweet last month that she didn't realize "how crucial the retarded vote is in this election."
October 23rd, 2012
05:07 PM ET

Ann Coulter's backward use of the 'r-word'

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) - Parents of children with special needs are demanding an apology from conservative political pundit Ann Coulter for tweeting after Tuesday's foreign policy debate that she approved of "Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard," in an apparent response to critiques of Mitt Romney's performance.

It wasn't the first time Coulter used the "the r-word" during this election season, and it's not the first time blogger Ellen Seidman has called her out on it.

"At this point, I'm thinking the woman must surely be aware that the word is offensive, and she chooses not to care. That's pretty vile and heartless," said Seidman, the mother of a special needs child who shares her world on the blog "Love that Max."

"You want to slam the president, go ahead. But you can't think of any other word to use? Come on."

Ending the r-word: Ban it or understand it?

The word "retard" demeans Max and millions more with intellectual disabilities, Seidman tweeted at Coulter. Still, the comment was favorited 1,215 times and earned 2,993 retweets as of this writing, presumably by a number of people who didn't find it offensive.

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Filed under: Disabilities • Discrimination • How we live • Politics
A day in the life of a New York Fashion Week model
Croatian model Petra Vujevic took a year off from pursing a university degree in computer science to give modeling a try
September 15th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

A day in the life of a New York Fashion Week model

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) – "Release the models!"

The stage manager's voice fills the backstage area, busy with hairstylists and makeup artists wielding the tools of their trade over a row of girls in front of brightly lit mirrors.

"It's time for a quick run-through."

It takes an extra moment for Petra Vujevic to break free from her chair, where she is surrounded by three stylists trying to tame her long blonde hair into a "punky ballerina" bun. The head stylist is teasing sections of her natural hair while another tends to neon pink extensions woven into her ponytail. A third handles clips and brushes.

Vujevic winces. It hasn't been a good hair day for the 20-year-old Croatian model. It's the second time today that her head has been pulled in a million directions, loaded down with gooey products and hairspray.

But she refrains from pouting because it's part of the job. Anyway, modeling isn't her life - not yet, at least. It's just something she decided to try by taking a year off from university in Croatia, where she's studying computer science. She started exactly one year ago, making the rounds in Milan, Paris, London and Spain before arriving in New York three weeks ago for Fashion Week.

Complete coverage: Fashion Week

"When you're tall and thin, everyone says you should be a model, so I thought: try it for a year," Vujevic said in accented English, which she learned in school and from television. "It's been good. I decided to model because it was completely different. How would I know if I didn't try?"

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If Marissa Mayer can 'have it all,' can you?
After being with her son for the first 12 weeks of his life, Jennifer Compton wishes she could spend more time with him.
July 19th, 2012
11:00 AM ET

If Marissa Mayer can 'have it all,' can you?

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) – Depending who you ask, Yahoo's decision to hire Marissa Mayer several months into her pregnancy is either a boon to all working mothers or a misstep for the ailing tech company.

"Talk about lousy timing. She'll be taking maternity leave when she needs to be at work. Yahoo has enough problems without a part-time CEO," one commenter said in response to the Fortune article announcing news of her pregnancy.

Opinion: What signal is Marissa Mayer giving to Yahoo employees?

"It is quite possible that she can do both effectively, but it is not un-'evolved' to express concern," another said, referring to Mayer's comment that Yahoo's directors demonstrated "evolved thinking" in choosing to hire a pregnant chief executive.

"As a Yahoo shareholder, I am very concerned and have every reason to be."

It's possible that Mayer anticipated these reactions when she revealed her plan to work during her maternity leave so she could "stay in the rhythm of things." Her announcement reignited an already hot debate over whether women can "have it all" and how family leave policies make it hard to juggle a successful career and family.

Opinion: No one at the top gets to have it all

But Mayer isn't your typical working mother, and some believe her experience reflects the extreme demands that corporate America places on men and women alike and how that translates to national policy.

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Names that flout convention: Advice for Jessica Simpson's daughter
Jessica Simpson recently named her daughter Maxwell Drew -- names traditionally given to boys.
May 8th, 2012
04:43 PM ET

Names that flout convention: Advice for Jessica Simpson's daughter

Read here for an earlier story that asks what your name says about you 

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) - Raphael Larrinaga was tired of sending out job applications and not getting a response, so he decided to try a different approach.

No, he didn't embellish a job title or fabricate a master's degree on his résumé. Instead, he swapped out his Spanish first name for something with more "Americanized," something that people would expect from a guy with blond hair and blue eyes job-hunting in Utah in the 1980s.

Almost instantly, Ray Larrinaga began getting calls back, he said. Within two weeks, he accepted a job with a bank and went back to the name his Spanish-born parents had given him.

"People said I was paranoid, but I'm not exaggerating a bit," said Larrinaga, now a self-employed graphic designer. "I went from almost a zero response to my applications to over 50 percent response."

In hindsight, the resident of Bountiful, Utah, said he's a little ashamed of his ploy. Sure, he could be a chameleon and scuttle his Spanish roots if he wanted to, but visible minorities can't get rid of their accent or change the color of their skin, he said.

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Arizona law leaves divisive legacy
Sergio Paez says Arizona's immigration law has hurt his tortilla business.
April 26th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Arizona law leaves divisive legacy

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) - The past few years haven’t been the best for a man trying to make an honest living selling tortillas in Arizona. Business owner Sergio Paez estimates that he has lost 20 businesses as customers in the past three years, from small neighborhood taquerias to chain restaurants.

In 2010, his tortilla business was suffering thanks to the nationwide recession. Then Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law the state's controversial immigration enforcement policy known as SB 1070, and things got even worse, he said.

“The law affected the immigrant population dramatically,” said Paez, a naturalized citizen from Mexico whose Phoenix-area factory produces about 200 dozen tortillas an hour.

“The economy had already been going down with the housing crisis construction stopped, people were losing homes, jobs, cars. That triggered the recession, but I think this law aggravated it here.”

With oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court this week for the Obama administration’s constitutional challenge to the law, the outcome will have far-reaching implications for Arizona and other states that have implemented similar policies since 2010.

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After 72-year wait, 1940 U.S. Census records released online
A "Test Census" taker prepared for the 1940 door-to-door Census in South Bend, Indiana, in 1939.
April 2nd, 2012
02:35 PM ET

After 72-year wait, 1940 U.S. Census records released online

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) - Personal, historic details of more than 132 million people were released online through the 1940 Census Monday, providing the public with free access to a slice of American history.

The National Archives and Records Administration unlocked the records after a mandatory 72-year waiting period and released more than 3.8 million digital images in collaboration with Archives.com.

Earlier Census records were made available to the public, but not all of them are searchable online free of charge, said Megan Smolenyak, family history advisor at Archives.com. Monday's release marks the first time researchers, genealogists and history hunters can find detailed records online in one place for free.

The 1940 Census was conducted as the Great Depression was winding down and before the country’s entry into World War II, reflecting the economic tumult of the era and the New Deal recovery program of the 1930s.

See more LIFE magazine photos of 'test' Census takers preparing for 1940

"The 1940 set is really special because of the time it captures, which was so pivotal in American history," Smolenyak said. "It's not only for people seeking information about their families; for people 72 and older it provides a snapshot into their early lives."

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Filed under: Census • History • Technology • Who we are