Calling All Girls Who Want to Be President

“What’s Your Point, Honey?” movie trailer

Filmmaker Out to Elect Women for President

Many feminists were disgusted this past year by the sexist, misogynistic treatment that former NY Senator Hillary Clinton received during her Presidential run, at the hands of the mainstream media, the fauxgressive blogosphere, stalwart feminist organizations, and members of her party. This time, Republicans didn’t seem to have quite as much to add, because Clinton’s own Democratic Party, we were shocked to observe, outperformed them in maltreating her.

Amy Sewell, award-winning filmmaker of the endearing 2005 documentary, Mad, Hot Ballroom, is doing her part to help elect a woman President of the United States. Her latest thought-provoking 2008 release, What’s Your Point, Honey?, is the first social justice cause film that’s being marketed on amazon.com and on iTunes, too. I’d agree with her point that:

Feminism, gender inequality, is the longest revolution and the last social justice cause to have a great need to be brought to the surface and pushed out there.

Radio Interview Explores Feminism, Gender Equality, and Path to Politics

In January, 2009, I sat down with the dynamic and articulate filmmaker to record the audio interview from which this article is drawn. In the interview, Amy and I also discuss: women’s pay equality issues, the Lilli Ledbetter Act, gender inequality awakening of Baby Boomers as compared to the MTV generation. Plus, there’s an update about the lives of the seven diverse young women in her film, and their quest to run for political and organizational office.

Click arrow to play Lady Boomer’s interview with filmmaker Amy Sewell (1:41)

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The Point of What’s Your Point, Honey?

The film’s title, What’s Your Point, Honey?, was inspired by a 2007 Jim Borgman cartoon in the Cincinnati Enquirer. The cartoon depicts Hillary Clinton standing, pointer in hand, appearing to school Uncle Sam in front of a chart entitled, “Countries That Have ALREADY HAD FEMALE Heads of State.”

Here’s the list: Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Burundi, Liberia, Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, India, Germany, Serbia, Israel, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, England, Latvia, Iceland, Ireland.

And in response, a schlumpy-looking Uncle Sam asks Hillary,

What’s your point, honey?

In our interview, Sewell expands on the cartoon’s irony: The US is 71st in the world in women’s representation in government — we’re laggin’. We’re behind the -stans  and Cape Verde. . . . Despite often horrible treatment in some of the countries that have had women leaders, women are proportionally better represented and lead other countries in far greater numbers.

The filmmakers set out to influence the younger generations with their film, and to create an awareness of feminism in them, because many young women “do not believe that they’re not equal.” Additionally, Sewell says that she and the film’s director, Susan Toffler, decided to reclaim the term “honey,” in order to devalue it when used by the oppressor, so to speak

Co-stars of the documentary, “What’s Your Point Honey?,” include Sewell’s twin daughters, the generation of girls “that doesn’t believe that they’re not equal.”

Hidden Inequality

They made a movie for an audience that doesn’t want to hear it, Sewell asserts, because they think they’ve got it all in the bag. They see their moms going to work and just think that everything is equal—after all, mom’s working. Girls don’t really know what their moms go through at work, regarding career advancement, pay differences, harassment, and what is expected of them as compared to men.

Girls don’t grasp that women, despite feminist gains of the last forty years, are largely responsible for taking care of: the house, the kids, doctors’ appointments, day care, child care, shopping for groceries, supplies, and clothing, cooking, cleaning up, housecleaning, laundry, and more. Additionally, their moms are often caregivers for their elderly parents or in-laws. Yet, girls of today think that life is, and will be, the same for them as it is for the boys they’re growing up with.

Forget about equal pay: Sewell says that women should actually get paid MORE than men. After all, the mom does everything, and the dad “just goes to work,” as a young boy observes in the film. Yes, we’re swimming in the patriarchy, so much so that many fish don’t know it, haven’t seen it. However, girls are beginning to see sexism and inequality at home, and more women saw it in the political atmosphere of the 2008 Presidential election.

Eyes Wide Open—Lessons from Sarah

Sewell claims Sarah Palin lit a fire under many liberal women who thought, “hey if she can do it, why can’t I?” We should be running for local offices and positions that grow us into more and higher national prominence. A way to begin is to step up and get active about the projects and issues you really care about in your local community, and just go ahead and start to run things.

She enumerates three lessons women learned from Palin’s Vice Presidential run:

  1. Women can be raising a family and become a major player, with the right support systems.
  2. If you multiply out all the ways you run your household, you can do it on a larger scale in your community, city, state, and nation.
  3. If Sarah can do it, why are we liberal women still on the sidelines, waiting for men or somebody to hand this to us?

The White House Project: “Beyond Gender to Agenda”

The film is based on a “contest” co-sponsored by COSMOgirl and The White House Project (WHP), an organization founded and run by Marie Wilson. Wilson is past President of the Ms. Foundation and co-founder of Take our Daughters to Work Day©. Her “Vote, Run, Lead” training program at the WHP recruits women to run for office. Since its beginnings in Colorado four years ago, the program has expanded to ten states. They select young women who are definitely interested in running for any office and serious in their intentions, and equip them with the tools they will need.

Wilson believes strongly in having a nonpartisan organization, because her philosophy is that all women bring the same basic life issues to the table, such as: child rearing, child and elder care, the wage gap, working in male-dominated fields, and, of course, who owns their bodies. The goal is to get more women into office. Women are 51 percent of the population, and 80 percent of the purchasing power. Women decide how 80 cents of every dollar in American households will be spent.

I questioned Amy: If women treat each other so poorly when running for office—as they did with Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin last year—will women be discouraged from running in the future, expecting that they might face a similar fate? Introducing the pipeline theory, she said that “it’s not about one. As long as you have only one woman running, everyone will always rip her apart.”

Sewell contends that if you have just as many women running as men, you get “beyond gender to agenda,” to quote Marie Wilson. There are many amazing, accomplished, powerful women out there; we just haven’t seen it happen in enough numbers yet, so we have to make our own way! But the environment is changing: Initially, Wilson asked women to run for office, because she knew that women needed to be asked. However, there seems to be an attitude shift in that women are beginning to step up and run. There were 100 applicants for the program in NY State, and several women who were in the film announced their plans to run for office right after completing their training.

Winners of the 2024 Project, co-sponsored by The White House Project and COSMOgirl, gather in front of The White House during the making of the documentary

The Key to Success: Fill the Pipeline with Young Candidates

As a way to keep the ball rolling and get younger generations involved, What’s Your Point, Honey? shows inequalities in their world today “wrapped around the metaphor of a woman running for President.” The filmmaker sees that girls can look up to the current women in power, like Hillary and Sarah Palin, but they don’t relate to them as they do to twenty year-olds, like those in the film.

If we build the pipeline, the more women we have wanting to come into political power, the easier it will be for all male political figures in the future to have a pool of applicants to choose from [for cabinet and other appointments.] [. . . ]

Our hope is someday that it won’t even be a question. We’ll have so many women in politics that we’ll de-genderize it.

Sewell is passionate about carrying through her message and continuing to reach an audience of women that can begin to fill the pipeline of participation in government, beginning with reaching young girls. Her new book, SHE’S OUT THERE: The Next Generation of Presidential Candidates: 35 Women Under 35 Who Aspire to Lead, will be released in April, 2009.

Further, an educational pilot program is being rolled out by North Carolina Political Center for Women: the What’s Your Point, Honey? DVD and study guides will be used as part of high school programs in North Carolina. This will be followed by programs throughout the US in middle schools, high schools, and colleges, accompanied by study guides appropriate for each educational level. Amy has generously provided the Viewers’ Guide here for you to download FOR FREE, which you can use when you buy the DVD, or rent or buy the video-on-demand (VOD) download.

Women Have Power

Sewell sees little advantage in fighting with people who do not and will not ever agree fundamentally, and I agree! Women need to join together and get involved with whatever social justice causes that move them. Furthermore, WOMEN have the purchasing power. Money speaks, and we have power here. For example, ads and products that call for our attention to speak out against: Boycott! The PUMA and some of the feminist movement made a difference by boycotting MSNBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, and network television due to their commentators’ misogynistic and biased stances about then Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, and VP nominee, Sarah Palin.

The movie purposely uses a light touch to draw new people into wanting to be active, and has a carryover affect. Viewers report that they begin to notice more instances of inequality or sexism in their daily lives, whereas before they wouldn’t have seen it. I encourage everyone to see and discuss this film, especially families. Be sure to rate, comment, and see what others are saying.

This is such an enthusiastic, supportive article, you’d think I have an ulterior motive, or am receiving some kind of net gain. I hope I am and do. I believe passionately, based on my spiritual and community background, that the societal road forward, onward, and upward must be: positive, collective, supportive, have dignity—and—be ignited, and driven by and for women. We can accomplish this by expanding girls’ and young women’s horizons, education, and opportunities for governance, and yes, the Presidency. Elect a woman? . . . “It’s not about one.”

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© Copyright 2009 by Lady Boomer NYC, article and audio interview. All rights reserved.

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Resources

These are linked within the article and included here for your convenience:

DOC WEBSITE:  http://www.whatsyourpointhoney.com/front/

THE WHITE HOUSE PROJECT:  http://www.thewhitehouseproject.org/

AMAZON DOC VOD LINK:  WHAT’S YOUR POINT, HONEY? ($2.99/week rental, $9.99/buy)

BOOK AMAZON LINK: SHE’S OUT THERE: The Next Generation of Presidential Candidates: 35 Women Under 35 Who Aspire to Lead

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21 thoughts on “Calling All Girls Who Want to Be President

  1. I think the injustice that Hillary and Sarah went through this past election has motivated more and more women (especially us PUMAS) in wanting to see a woman president before we die. For the younger girls, hopefully they will see many women presidents. As Puma Pac says today, we have to vote for women! IF there is a woman on the ballot, vote for her! And if you can’t bring yourself to vote for any particular woman, then run yourself!!!

  2. I read this at Uppity’s site…..what a wonderful post. This needs to be spread around. Do you mind if I link to this on my blog? I’d like to email a link to this post to friends, too, if that is okay. This movement is overdue, but now may just be its’ time.

  3. http://www.thispoliticallife.wordpress.com

    This election opened my eyes to things I wouldn’t have believed still existed in our country today. I admit that I was not alert to all of it. To have it broadcast on television every single day did make me long for authentic female leadership to be voted in, but I was wary of the idea that thinking that is reverse-sexism. What I love is that this movement is not looking to put women into any position no matter what, it is about asking talented women to run so that there are as many women candidates as men and then the elections can be about agenda and not gender. Your post does a great job describing it all vividly. Bravo!

    I will get it on there tomorrow. Thank you!

  4. gagirl — Thank you for your comments! Sadly, I’ve had to ban a troll here who keeps insisting that voting for a woman is sexist. I mean, really! People are swimming in the patriarchy and don’t know it. And, of course, they don’t admit the fact that Obama got elected by 95 or was it 99 percent of Black people was because of race! Women are, after all, 51 percent of the population, and our interests are NOT represented nor are we by the majority of Congress which remains in the hands of men, not to mention the highest offices in the land.

  5. I understood that it was NOW 2034 before a woman POTUS would run and be elected. Who would dare to run after the misogyny fest of this last election and with Obama being declared the ‘Obama Superman FeMANist’ by those that chose him over Hillary who was the best candidate that just happened to be a woman.

  6. Woman Voter – And now look what’s happened: the economy’s adrift, the war’s extended. Hillary would have instilled much more confidence. Boy, what a lesson we all now have to pay–because of what? Misogyny and sexism.

    The Project says it’s 2024, so I hope that’s correct for the young women. As for now, the worse things get, the more possible it seems everyone will see the light and say, okay, you try!!!!!!! Afterall, look at the joint session of Congress the other evening: were women represented by 51%?

    We definitely have our work cut out for us in changing attitudes toward women in the US and worldwide. I guess it comes down to putting one foot in front of the other and each doing what we can in whatever of domain of life we can.

  7. Brilliant post – remember this?
    “The only new idea that could save humanity in the 21st century is for women to take over the management of the world. I believe that male dominance has squandered an opportunity of 10,000 years. We men have belittled and ridiculed feminine intuition and on the other hand, we have historically sanctified our ideologies, almost all of them absurd or abominable. The masculine power structure has proved that it cannot impede the destruction of the environment, because it is incapable of overcoming its own interests. For women, on the other hand, preservation of the environment is a genetic vocation. The reversal of powers is a matter of life or death.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author ’92.

  8. Thank you, Joanelle! That is a fantastic quote and absolutely true!!! What is it from/source? It makes sense coming from the author who penned “Love in the Time of Cholera”– one of my all time favorites.

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