As a teenager, I didn't necessarily see a place for feminism in my life. Looking back, I realize that's because I was surrounded by it. I went to Lilith Fairs. Tori Amos and Ani DiFranco were voices that inspired me and female protagonists like Angela Chase, Cher Horowitz, and Daria served as reminders that teenage girls were complex and had agency. Eddie Vedder even scrawled "Pro-Choice" on his arm on MTV. That was my mass media. Compared to what young women are offered now--well, the 90s seem like a veritable feminist utopia, don't they?
It was only after graduating college and working in the real world (where one male boss actually told me women's lib was a bad idea) that I realized feminism needed to be a part of my life. I opened my eyes and saw a world of gendered roles and expectations--from the media to the workplace--and I didn't like it. I embraced the f-word.
My love for pop culture, analysis, argument and feminism created the person at this keyboard. I've learned to bring notebooks with me to the movies, keep one handy in the living room when we watch TV, and keep my eyes and ears open constantly to connect representations of gender roles in the media to our culture.
I know that the 90s weren't perfect. But something changed. Perhaps that something can best be illustrated by the toxic juxtaposition of sweeping social conservatism in government and Britney Spears in pop culture in the early 2000s. The gains from second-wave feminism have been chipped away with a sledgehammer for the last decade, all while sex--specifically packaged as scantily clad, passive young women--is selling more and more. And it makes me furious.
Turning a critical eye on our media can make us more aware (and frequently more furious) about what's happening on a social and political level.
My media favorites include, on the small screen, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Parks and Recreation, Louie, Sons of Anarchy, 30 Rock and old episodes of Arrested Development, Twin Peaks, My So-Called Life and Beverly Hills, 90210. On the big screen, I generally love all things Ridley Scott, David Lynch, Baz Luhrmann, Quentin Tarantino, Catherine Breillat and Darren Aronofsky. My past work for Bitch Flicks includes reviews of Black Swan, Drive, Battlestar Galactica and Sons of Anarchy.
I am excited to be writing for Bitch Flicks, and can't wait to actively dig in to what we too often passively watch.
Leigh Kolb is an instructor at a community college in rural Missouri. She teaches composition, literature, and journalism courses. While working on her MFA in creative nonfiction writing, Leigh was the editor of a small-town newspaper. In her academic and professional life, she's always gravitated toward the history and literature of the oppressed, and wants to see their stories properly inserted into our cultural dialogue. She believes that critically analyzing popular media is an important step in opening those conversations. Leigh lives on a small farm with her husband, dogs, cat and flock of chickens.