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Beyonce, Jane Lynch, Condoleezza Rice featured in Girl Scouts ‘Ban Bossy” video

Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg and the Girl Scouts recently declared a campaign to “Ban Bossy,” complete with Beyonce, Jane Lynch and Condoleezza Rice on video, a website full of tips and thousands of fans who pledged to stamp out that B word for girls.

But the effort is also being questioned on a variety of fronts, including its focus on a word that not everyone considers damaging, and for encouraging a behavior that not everybody believes equals leadership, as Ban Bossy contends.

Harold Koplewicz, who heads the nonprofit Child Mind Institute, went in search of evidence that the word “bossy” discourages girls from becoming leaders. He asked first-graders and sixth-graders at Hunter College Elementary School for gifted children how they feel about it.

Save for a couple of “outliers,” he found that most didn’t love the term bossy, “but they didn’t love the word leader, either.” The kids also told him that acting bossy carries a high risk of not being liked. “They thought that being liked was better than being a leader,” Koplewicz said.

The Ban Bossy campaign cites a study by the Girl Scout Research Institute in which girls reported being twice as likely as boys to worry that leadership roles would make them seem bossy. The fear of being seen as bossy is put forth as a primary reason girls resist such roles.

Alicia Clark, a Washington, D.C., psychologist whose specialties include parenting and couples counseling, lauded the campaign’s suggested alternatives to bossy and ideas for fostering leadership in girls, but she sees a broader sense of social anxiety at play.

“Girls experience fears and inhibitions about social acceptance more acutely, in the form of stress,” she said. In some cases, “Mean, bossy girls, as my 13-year-old daughter describes them, are closer to being bullies than they are leaders. And we know that bullies fundamentally feel insecure, hate themselves for it and assert themselves over other insecure people as a way of garnering a sense of control and dominance. This is not leadership. This is intimidation.”

Caroline Price, a 17-year-old high school junior in Andover, Mass., loved Sandberg’s book, “Lean In,” and admires many of the women who have jumped on Ban Bossy. “But to me bossy isn’t the same as leadership. Bossy people aren’t people you want to follow. Leaders inspire us to be better versions of ourselves. Bossy means `my way or the highway.’ Leadership is when someone listens and encourages others around them,” she said.

Sometimes, Price added, “leaders aren’t just the loudest – the bossiest. There are different kinds of leaders – and some lead more quietly, or by consensus or by example and so on.”

Like critics of Sandberg’s Lean In movement urging working women to strive for leadership positions, the backlash against Ban Bossy is multifaceted.

Some detractors think girls and women of the bossy ilk should “own” the word rather than demand to be free of it, not unlike the way “queer” has been reclaimed as celebratory among many people who are LGBTQ, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning their sexual identities.

Sandberg, Rice and other celebrity supporters of Ban Bossy recall how being called bossy made them feel diminished as kids and dinged their self-esteem, but what about kids who are not bossy, but are bossed around?

“The people who are bossy, sometimes they have an attitude,” said Rose Wladis, 11, a Girl Scout and fifth-grader in New York (not at Hunter). “I think being a leader is kind of showing people what to do, but being nice about it and encouraging people and, like, setting an example for them. But bossiness is just telling someone what to do.”

Koplewicz said research shows teen girls are more likely than boys to have symptoms of mental health issues, some related to low self-esteem. Yet girls also tend to do better than boys in school, getting better grades and earning degrees in higher numbers. Despite their academic success, women hold only a fraction of top executive positions, a point “Lean In” emphasizes.

But were female executives seen as bossy growing up, and did they suffer under the weight of the word? “At the moment there is no direct research that categorizes the word bossy as dangerous,” said Koplewicz, who generally supports Sandberg’s campaign to promote female leadership but not so much the focus on the lone word.

The focus wasn’t lost on Hillary Rodham Clinton. She spoke to a gathering of book publishers Wednesday about a memoir she’s working on covering her years as U.S. secretary of state. Clinton threw out “Bossy Pantsuit” as a possible title, riffing on Tina Fey’s best-selling “Bossypants,” then she paused and earned laughs for her punch line: “We can no longer say one of those words.”

Maura Ciammetti, 26, works for a small technology company in suburban Philadelphia. She said being called bossy at times in college and work situations allowed her to “step back and assess how I am approaching a situation. Was I too forceful? Am I listening to my peers? Am I looking at the big picture? Why is this person challenging me with this label?”

Instead of banning the word, Ciammetti said, what “if we taught girls how to deal with their peers calling them names and other situations of adversity.”

Julia Angelen Joy, 42, a Girl Scout troop leader and mother of four in Boise, Idaho, works in public relations and marketing, where lots of women dominate and where she has encountered many a bossy female boss. She calls them “chictators.” She can’t get behind the Ban Bossy project.

“Bossy can mean two things – a strong leader or a domineering nag. Using the word in a campaign is a double-edge sword,” Joy said.

Joy, who is president of “FemCity Boise,” part of the national Femfessionals business network for women, said she was a bossy teen and has two bossy girls. When her 16-year-old was 11, mom forced her to write a letter of apology to her school principal and others for participating in a “mean girl situation” of intimidation and control against other girls.

“I told her as a woman, as a mother, as a sister, as a wife, none of this is acceptable,” said Joy, who suggests a tweak to the Ban Bossy rallying cry: “How about Ban Bossy, support kindness.”

As Joy sees it, and it’s likely Sandberg would agree (she declined an interview with The Associated Press): “There’s a middle to all of this. The middle is a little bit of restraint and a little bit of kindness. We want that for all of our children, male or female.”

On the Web …


The video: 


UW-Madison alumna Jill Soloway says her Sundance Award-winning debut film is a tribute to sisterhood

“Afternoon Delight,” UW-Madison alumna Jill Soloway’s feature film debut, is a delight any time of day. The film, which earned her the best director award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, follows a successful career as a theatrical producer and writer/producer for such television hits as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Six Feet Under” and “The United States of Tara.”

“Afternoon Delight” is the story of complacent-but-bored domestic goddess and mother Rachel (Kathryn Hahn, effortlessly stepping into a leading role). The primary features of Rachel’s life are a shaky marriage to Jeff (Josh Radnor), unfulfilling therapy appointments with Lenore (Jane Lynch) and dull female friendships.

But she’s transformed by a visit to a strip club. There, Rachel meets McKenna (Juno Temple in the best performance of her career). Rachel decides to make saving
McKenna her mission – a decision that forever changes both women’s lives.

The film “treads in some dangerous territory,” Soloway says, in that the “idea of the sex worker in need of rescue is only a few steps away from the idea of a queer person in need of rehabilitation.”

In the course of the film, “Rachel revolves through the poles of wanting to rescue McKenna, wanting to be McKenna and wanting to have sex with McKenna,” Soloway says.

I spoke with Soloway about the film shortly before it opened in theaters this summer.

What does it mean to you to have won the directing award at Sundance for your first full-length feature?

Jill Soloway: For me, the victory feels like a victory for feminism in comedy. Simply to make a movie about real women and what it means to be a woman today. It also has some deep dark stuff and some great sexy stuff and it achieves its goals as a comedy. To pull all that off – to me it feels like the meaning of the award for me.

I think it’s fair to say that with “Afternoon Delight,” you take your rightful place alongside female filmmakers such as Nicole Holofcener and Lisa Cholodenko.

Aside from the three of us all having “olo” in our names, we’re all women, we’re all Jewish women. I admire and love both of them. They are both amazing women. I met Lisa Cholodenko when she was a guest director on “Six Feet Under,” and she’s been incredibly supportive. They’ve both been incredibly supportive to me. There’s a real network of women directors out here in Los Angeles (and) we’re always reaching a hand out to each other.

How does working on a feature film compare with the cable series work you’ve done?

I honestly, at this point, am starting to feel like all content is content. I’m getting into the business of original content. I’m writing a pilot for Amazon. (The pilot, titled “Transparent,” is for a proposed series starring Jeffrey Tambor of “Arrested Development” as a transgender parent). I look at something like “Top of the Lake,” where at Sundance a lot of the filmmakers were going, “How does Jane Campion have a six-hour movie?” Then we get home and (find out) it’s her new TV series. Then you combine that with how a lot of filmmakers are trying to figure out how to get to their audiences. The way independent film is making it to audiences is through iTunes, through Netflix. So if a large percentage of the content is ultimately being received through your home television or home computer, and independent film is alive and well for those who like to go see independent films, to me there really isn’t that big of a difference. 

How much of Jill is in Rachel?

There’s a lot of me in her. I never have brought a stripper home. But I definitely have gotten confused during lap dances where I thought that the stripper wanted me to get her out of there (laughs). I’ve gotten a couple of lap dances in my life and have often had that feeling where, “Wow, we have a special connection. I see her unlike any of these other people in here see her.”

Sisterhood is powerful.

Sisterhood is powerful, exactly. Sisterhood is sexual – that should be the tagline (laughs).

Out actress Jane Lynch plays lesbian therapist Lenore in the film. You have consistently included queer characters in your work.

I feel like I come from a queer family. I feel like I am a queer artist, like I’ve always been sort of queer-adjacent. This movie was workshopped at a queer artists’ retreat called Radar LAB run by Michelle Tea from San Francisco, who is an inspiration to me. McKenna was inspired by a woman named Lorelei Lee that I met at that artists’ retreat. Antonia Crane is a sex worker that I met while I was performing in Michelle Tea’s Sister Spit (troupe). So sex workers, feminism, queer art are all alive in the same space for me. In some ways, I feel like it’s my work to be a translator between the queer world and the straight world.

“Afternoon Delight” also has a strong Jewish quotient. How were you raised?

We were raised culturally Jewish, but not in any way specifically religious or spiritual. (Now) I’m not really an observant Jew. I’m kind of interested in reinventing Jewish culture a little bit and doing some sort of community organizing with some sort of Jewy reinventy groups. But, no, I had bacon this morning (laughs).

As a graduate of UW-Madison, do you have fond memories of your time there?

Oh, yeah! There’s a whole (University of) Wisconsin thing in the movie. We’re going to be at UW-Madison in November. My cinematographer (Jim Frohna), went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Milwaukee. There’s a whole Wisconsin backstory.

LGBT celebs come out for Obama in video

LGBT celebrities come out for Barack Obama’s re-election in a new YouTube video that also features the president’s coming out for marriage equality.

The video features Jane Lynch, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Billie Jean King, George Takai, Wanda Sykes, Zachary Quinto and Chaz Bono talking about casting a vote for Obama and standing up for equality.

The stars talk about being gay and the coming out, a process made possible, in part, by change and progress.

Billie Jean King says the president has pushed change and progress for LGBT people faster than any president in the nation’s history.

She adds, “You always have to protect change.”

All of them say, “Come out and vote for Barack Obama.”

Obama is featured talking about civil rights, repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” and marriage equality in the 5-minute spot.

On the Web…

VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEzSaQgbM6s

CAMPAIGN: http://www.barackobama.com/lgbt/

Lesbian PAC forms with high-profile backers

A lesbian political action committee launched in mid-July with the help of such high-profile backers as actress Jane Lynch and tennis legend Billie Jean King.

“After decades of being a small subset of players in women’s rights and LGBT political efforts, the women of LPAC are stepping up to get organized like never before, aiming to give lesbians a real and meaningful seat at the table,” LPAC’s announcement read. “With significant resources behind us, LPAC plans to make a true impact for lesbians in the 2012 election cycle and beyond.”

The PAC, according to its website, is committed to candidates who champion issues that impact lesbians and their families, including:

• Ending discriminatory treatment of LGBT people and their families.

• Supporting sexual and reproductive freedom.

• Supporting women’s access to quality health care.

• Furthering social, racial and economic justice for all.

“Members of the LGBT community are inspirational leaders and role models in every aspect of American life,” King said. “The formation of LPAC provides lesbians and the entire LGBT community a new, stronger voice and a real and respected seat at the table when politicians make policy that impacts our lives.”

Lynch said, “This year we have seen politicians repeatedly support policies that harm women. It is important to me to elect leaders who care about issues that impact women and their families. That’s why I support LPAC.”

The advisory board includes longtime activist Urvashi Vaid; former newspaper publisher Alix Ritchie; Chicago businesswoman Sarah Schmidt; political consultant Valerie Berlin; lobbyist Emily Giske; New York businesswoman Margaret Traub; pollster Donna Victoria and Chicago Cubs co-owner-director Laura Ricketts.

Ricketts – whose father is a major donor to conservative causes through the Ending Spending Action Fund – is a co-chair of the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Leadership Council and a major backer of Barack Obama.

“I support LPAC because courageous elected officials who support women’s rights, fairness, and equality for all of us deserve our unconditional support,” she said.

LPAC has yet to announce its first funding commitments, but mentions have included Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, who would be the first openly lesbian member of the U.S. Senate, and the marriage-related ballot measures in Washington, Minnesota, Maryland and Maine.

“Frankly, we created LPAC because we were shocked by this past year,” said Schmidt, LPAC’s chair and treasurer. “Lesbians could no longer stand by and witness continued attacks on reproductive freedoms, marriage equality and be immersed in a political sphere where women are not given a meaningful voice in politics.”

A week after LPAC began rallying lesbian donors and voters across the country, a group of conservative women gathered in Concord, N.H., to announce their general election plans.

The women – aligned with the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council held a press conference to call the “war on women” a myth and blast Obama for trampling religious freedoms.

“It is essential that conservatives of every stripe step up to speak against the divisions President Obama depends upon for victory in the fall elections,” said Connie Mackey of the FRC.

Mackey said the few women who spoke in Concord on July 17 “stand firmly for the values that made this country great and who look forward to getting this country back on the right road.”

On the Web

The Lesbian Political Action Committee – LPAC – is at www.teamlpac.com.

Lesbian PAC – LPAC – formed

A lesbian political action committee launched on July 11 with the help of several high-profile backers, including actress Jane Lynch and tennis legend Billie Jean King.

LPAC, according to the website, was formed “to positively influence the current political and social landscape.”

The announcement continues, “After decades of being a small subset of players in women’s rights and LGBT rights political efforts, the women of LPAC are stepping up to get organized like never before, aiming to give lesbians a real and meaningful seat at the table. With significant resources behind us, LPAC plans to make a true impact for lesbians in the 2012 election cycle and beyond.”

The PAC will support candidates who champion issues that impact lesbians and their families, including:

• Ending discriminatory treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families.

• Supporting sexual and reproductive freedom.

• Supporting women’s access to quality health care.

• Furthering social, racial and economic justice for all Americans.

LPAC is a bipartisan group and says it will support candidates who “stand for our values” and help “to remove from office those who do not.”

Within hours of the announcement, LPAC had more than 300 likes on its new Facebook page and there were dozens of articles circulating on the Web.

Organizers – they include longtime activist Urvashi Vaid and Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts – have at least $200,000 for this election cycle and hope to raise $1 million. Ricketts also is a major donor to Barack Obama’s campaign and co-chair of the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Leadership Council.

King, in a press statement quoted on the Huffington Post, said, “Members of the LGBT community are inspirational leaders and role models in every aspect of American life – from education to entertainment, from sports to science. The formation of LPAC provides lesbians and the entire LGBT community a new, stronger voice and a real and respected seat at the table when politicians make policy that impacts our lives.”

On the Web: www.teamlpac.com

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Brad Pitt joins ‘8’ play cast for LA premiere

Brad Pitt has joined the West Coast premiere reading of the play “8,” an account of the U.S. District Court trial of Proposition 8 in California.

The play is a benefit for and presented by American Foundation for Equal Rights and Broadway Impact.

AFER has twice – in district court and before an appeals court panel – successfully argued in Perry v. Brown that Prop 8 stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry and violates the U.S. Constitution.

To guarantee the widest possible audience, the play reading will be streamed live, on YouTube, beginning at 7:45 p.m. PST on Saturday. A pre-show recording will air at 7:30 p.m. PST.

“At long last each and every American will be able to see for themselves what happens when prejudice and fear are put on trial in a court of law,” said AFER board president Chad Griffin. “For over two years, the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8 have fought tooth and nail to hide their discriminatory arguments from the American people.  But on Saturday night, thanks to YouTube and our incredible cast, people across the nation, from Los Angeles to Little Rock to Baltimore, will get to watch as our Constitution’s promise of liberty and equality for all is protected.”

Dustin Lance Black wrote “8” and Rob Reiner directs the cast at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles. 

Pitt will star as U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who found Proposition 8 unconstitutional after presiding over the 12-day public trial. 

The cast also includes George Clooney and Emmy and Martin Sheen as AFER lead co-counsel David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, the renowned attorneys who notably faced-off in Bush v. Gore. 

Christine Lahti and Jamie Lee Curtis will star as plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier. Matthew Morrison and Matt Bomer will play plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo.

Kevin Bacon will play Charles J. Cooper, the lead attorney for the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8. Jane Lynch will star as prominent opponent of marriage equality Maggie Gallagher, co-founder and former chairman of the National Organization for Marriage. John C. Reilly will play David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values. 

Additional roles will be played by Campbell Brown, Chris Colfer, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Cleve Jones, Rory O’Malley, George Takei, Yeardley Smith, Vanessa Garcia, Jansen Panatierre, James Pickens Jr. and Bridger Zadina.

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Lynch, Clooney, Curtis to star in L.A. anti-Prop 8 benefit

Broadway Impact and the American Foundation for Equal Rights announced an all-star cast for the West Coast premiere of “8,” Dustin Lance Black’s play based on the federal trial of California’s anti-gay Proposition 8.

AFER board member Rob Reiner is directing the Los Angeles premiere – an AFER benefit – set for March 3. Reiner’s cast includes himself, George Clooney, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Jamie Lee Curtis, Martin Sheen, Matt Bomer, Campbell Brown, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Cleve Jones, Christine Lahti, Rory O’Malley, Yeardley Smith and George Takei.

Clooney and Sheen will play the lead attorneys for AFER, David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, who argue for marriage equality in the trial.

Lahti and Curtis will play plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, a lesbian couple together for 11 years and the parents of four boys.

Morrison and Bomer will play plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, a gay couple together more than 10 years.

Lynch will play marriage equality opponent Maggie Gallagher, co-founder and former chairman of the National Organization for Marriage.


The Emmys got modern. The Emmys got gleeful. The Emmys got sentimental. The Emmys got political. And the Emmys got funny. A recap: Six Emmy trophies went to ABC’s “Modern Family,” which features, among its several modern households, that of a gay couple and their adopted daughter. Gay actor Jim Parsons, who won lead actor in a comedy series for his work in “The Big Bang Theory,” thanked his partner, and said he’d probably celebrate his victory by having ice cream. Lesbian actor Jane Lynch, who won supporting actress in a comedy series for her work in “Glee,” thanked her wife Laura Embry and their daughter, as well as her “lord and creator, Ryan Murphy.” Straight actor George Clooney, honored with the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, talked backstage about the anti-gay Prop 8: “People will look back at this period of time of history and think of it as an archaic time.” Gay actor Neil Patrick Harris, who hosted last year’s telecast, had some fun with host Jimmy Fallon: “I want to thank the academy for allowing a gay man to host the Emmys two years in a row. Congratulations, Jimmy, you’re doing a good job.” And that’s how rumors begin.