Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘employment

SunshineCleaningPosterSunshine Cleaning is the story of two sisters, Rose and Nora, who are entirely different yet work together in the most brilliant of ways. Rose (played by Amy Adams) is a single mom struggling to make something of herself and make a better life for her son. Nora (played by Emily Blunt) is a slacker who still lives with their father (Alan Arkin) and avoids work like it’s the plague. After her son gets kicked out of yet another school, Rose needs to earn more money so she can afford to send him to private school. She gets Nora to join her in the creation of the company Sunshine Cleaning, a company that provides “bio-hazard removal and postmortem cleaning” – basically they go clean up after someone dies. It’s a disgusting job, but the sisters learn the specialized field and are determined to succeed (well, more so Rose than Nora). The movie provides moments of laughter and tears (or at least sadness, I didn’t really cry, but some would).

I was expecting something different out of this movie.  I wanted to see the movie in the theaters but wasn’t able to.  From the trailer, I thought it might potentially be more light-hearted than it was.  Even though is wasn’t exactly what I expected, Sunshine Cleaning pleasantly surprised me.  It was a movie about a serious topic, dealing with death, that was funny at times.  Rose and Nora had to deal with death on a daily basis not only physically through their work, but they also had to emotionally deal with their mother’s suicide when they were children.  It’s definitely not a formulaic movie, which I always appreciate.

So, where does feminism come into this movie?  It’s definitely not blatant, but it’s there.  Both Rose and Nora are trying to find themselves.  They haven’t really known who they are since their mother died.  They are trying to deal with that grief while also living their lives.  Rose does whatever it takes to support her son, as well as sometimes her sister and her father.  At some points she struggles (as we all do).  She takes something that’s necessary for money and turns it into something she loves to do, even if it is gross.  Even though she doesn’t believe it herself at points, she is a strong woman who does what needs to be done and makes the best of it.  Nora, on the other hand, does whatever she wants and doesn’t always care what the effect is.  But working with Rose gives her some sense of responsibility, even if it is not that great.  Nora’s story can tell us to follow our dreams.  I don’t know if Nora’s actions are necessarily following “dreams,” but they are about following desires.

I would recommend Sunshine Cleaning.  It is an interesting story and has great acting.  I love Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, and Alan Arkin.  Alan Arkin’s character of the father is fairly similar to his character in Little Miss Sunshine, if that gives you any idea.  But the roles for Amy Adams and Emily Blunt were fairly different than what I have seen them in.  It was nice to see Amy Adams in a more serious role that still brought out some of her perkiness.  And I’m used to seeing Emily Blunt as an over-achiever (Devil Wears Prada, Jane Austen Book Club) which she is completely not in this movie.

Further Reading:

Sunshine Cleaning: DVD Review [Entertainment Realm]


I went to go see the new movie Post Grad, starring Alexis Bledel, this past Friday. I wanted to see it because it looked like a movie that was about my life right now. I saw it as being about a young woman who has recently graduated from college and has to struggle with not being able to find a job and living with her parents. [Warning: there will be some spoilers, but the movie is so predictable that I don’t know if it will matter]

While that is definitely part of the story, I was hoping for something more. I was hoping that the movie would delve deeper into the struggle that many people (including myself) are facing right now of going from the (limited) independence of college to the dependence of being unemployed and living with your parents while everyone else is out doing something fantastic. It’s an internal struggle that many people would be able to identify with in this current economic climate.

The first part of the movie touched on this struggle. But then the movie just turned the predictable route. Ryden (Bledel) lands her dream job in publishing out of the blue. I would have liked to see her try some other jobs (other than working at her dad’s luggage store for a total of 2 hours) and struggle in minimum wage work before the “happy ending” of landing that dream job.

After she lands this dream job, she has another dilemma to face: how does she reconcile going for her dream with keeping the people that she loves in her life? Oh, poor Ryden, she has to choose between a great job that can lead to a lot of great things and a cute guy that has been in love with her for four years and she finally realizes that she’s in love with him too. And what do you guess she chooses? That’s right, the guy. Because dream jobs come and go (even though she had to struggle to find the first one) but you are never complete without that guy by your side.

Maybe it’s just the point that I am at in my life right now and the way that I was raised, but I would like, for once, to see a strong woman choose her career goals over the guy that’s making her decide. To be fair, the guy in Post Grad didn’t exactly make her decide between the two, but still.

Oh romantic comedies that try to pass themselves off as something else but end up being the same old formulaic movie. I was hoping to be able to see a little bit of myself in this movie. I guess I could say it’s the story of my life right now with the exception of the dream job and the cute guy. While it attempts to show some of the struggles faced by recent graduates, it just ends up being the happily-ever-after — with the guy — story that is oh so common.

Happy Thursday everybody! Only one more day to the weekend, not that it matters to me because the entire week is like the weekend for me, just less exciting. But that’s all about to change. I’ve finally found a job at Barnes & Noble that I will be starting soon!

Here are some of my favorite posts from the past couple days…

Lois Lane at the Movies: A Brief Herstory Part Two! [Bitch Blogs]
Looking at the role Lois Lane plays in the Superman comics and movies.

“Blinded by privilege”: ableist language in critical discourse [Deeply Problematic]
A reflection on how the language we use contributes to the oppression of others.

Carnival of Feminists #2 [Female Impersonator]
A collection of feminist blog posts over the past two weeks.

Women in the Boardroom
[Gender Across Borders]
Why are so few women making it to the top of employment ladder?

Racism and Power [Womanist Musings]
“The insistence on using terms like post racial, race card, and reverse racist, stem from the desire to not only present racism in a past tense but to infer that only Whiteness should exist with the power to realize its prejudice.”

As many of us are all too aware, women are no where near equality in the workplace. Women are still paid statistically less than men, sexual harassment is still prevalent, there is a lack of child and family care options, and there are still stereotypically “women’s jobs.”

Women in the workplace is an issue that Ellen Bravo is all too familiar with. She founded the Milwaukee chapter of 9to5, National Association for Working Women in 1982. She also served as the national director of 9to5 until 2004. She is currently a Women’s Studies professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

I read Bravo’s book Taking on the Big Boys for Intro to Women’s Studies. It is a great book about how women are oppressed in the workforce and what to do about it. From the back cover:

Enough about breaking the glass ceiling. Here are blueprints for a redesign of the entire building, ground up, to benefit women and men – and even the bottom line. Ellen Bravo reports what’s really happening in today’s workplace with stories from offices, assembly lines, and schools. She unmasks that patronizing, trivializing, and minimizing tactics employed by “the big boys” (the powerful people who maintain the status quo) and their surrogates.

Bravo argues for feminism as a system of beliefs, law, and practices that fully values women and the work associated with women. She spells out activist strategies to achieve fair pay, flexibility for family care, and a real voice at work.

One of the things that I really liked about this book was that it wasn’t just exposing the truth about women’s oppression in the workplace, but it also showed ways to go about changing it. It provides activist tools as well as knowledge about the situation.

Women’s equality in the workplace is something that was fought for by feminists in the 70s. Many people have claimed that equality has been achieved. But all you have to do is look around to see that women are still less than men in the workplace. Bravo does a great job of exposing the lie of equality and ways to actually achieve this equality that has been fought for for a long time.

If I tell someone that I have a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies, I often get the responses: “What’s that?” or “What are you going to do with that?” How do you explain to others, especially potential employers (in this economy) the skills that Women’s Studies provides that other disciplines don’t? How do you dispell the false beliefs about Women’s Studies and show the importance of the knowledge gained through Women’s Stuides? While people in the field of Women’s and Gender Studies know the advantages of it, the general public is still uneducated on the benefits of Women’s and Gender Studies.

Women’s Studies majors know how to read analytically, write passionately, and apply their knowledge from the classroom to the “real world.” In my senior seminar, we had to write a definition of Women’s and Gender Studies in 100 words (in my case, 102 words) and I think that this can be helpful in marketing your Women’s Studies degree to future employers, friends, acquaintances, and anyone who might have a curious comment.

Women’s and Gender Studies is the interdisciplinary examining and questioning of interlocking forms of oppression that different women face that is grounded in their lived experiences. While the experiences of women play an important role in the construction of knowledge within women’s studies, it is important to question the context of those experiences. It was developed as the academic arm of “the” women’s movemnet and has further developed the connection between academics and activism. Academics feeds activism, but activism also feeds academics. Women’s studies encourages questioning the construction of knowledge both outside and within the discipline and its relation to the patriarchy.

While the definition does not highlight all of the skills and knowledge that one gains as a Women’s Studies major, it is an important first step. Understanding what Women’s Studies means to you in a concise way will help you realize the marketable skills that you have.

I encourage everyone to write their own definition because so much of Women’s Studies depends on personal experience. Start by thinking of the definition, then the skills, such as analytical reading, good writing skills, and the application of classroom knowledge.

Girl With Pen wrote a post today on the need for paid sick leave for both American workers and employers. The Center for Economic and Policy Research recently published a report titled “Contagion Nation: A Comparison of Paid Sick Day Policies in 22 Countries.” This report found that the U.S. is the only one of these 22 countries that does not require paid sick days or leave for employees. As a result,

each year millions of American workers go to work sick, lowering productivity and potentially spreading illness to their coworkers and customers.

The CEPR then published a follow-up report titled “Paid Sicks Days Don’t Cause Unemployment.” As you can tell from the title, requiring employers to provide paid sick days does not cause an increase in unemployment. In “Contagion Nation,” the authors state,

A substantial body of research has shown that in addition to the obvious health and economic costs imposed on employees by the lack of paid sick days or leave, significant costs result as well for employers. Workers who go to work while sick stay sick longer, lower their productivity as well as that of their coworkers, and can spread their illnesses to coworkers and customers.

As you can see from this research, there is a need for paid sick days and not a whole lot of threat of unemployment.

The Healthy Families Act, which is currently in the House of Representatives, would require companies with more than 15 employees to provide seven paid sick days. I think that this is an important piece of legislation because it will not only help American workers, but it will have a great impact on the lives of working women. This act allows paid sick leave if you are sick, to care for an ill family member, or to seek domestic violence services. Women are usually the ones who are burdened with caring for ill family members and to be affected by domestic violence.

I recently wrote my representative, Hon. Vern Ehlers (cough…Republican…cough), to urge him to work towards passing this act, for the reasons I’ve mentioned above. His response: “I recognize the value of paid sick leave, but am concerned about the potential impact of this legislation of small businesses.”
After reading this post from Girl With Pen and learning about the reports from the CEPR, I am considering writing to him again with more evidence to my point. I urge you to write your representatives. NOW has some more information on the act and a sample letter to send to your representative.