Wednesday, June 27, 2012

For Carmen...

By Tonya Jones

I was shocked last week as I scrolled my Facebook newsfeed and saw farewell comments to
Carmen Anderson. What?! As I read further, my fears where confirmed. Carmen had passed
away a couple of days before. I stared at the screen in disbelief.

I meet Carmen a few years ago. I was taking post-back classes at Portland State University
(PSU). At the time Carmen was working as a graduate student at PSU’s Women’s Resource
Center (WRC). She was the Empowerment Project Coordinator. One of her roles was to lead
workshops for the group “The Sister Circle.” It was an opportunity for women of color students
on campus to get together and network. I attended one meeting and liked Carmen right away.
She was blunt and funny and always had her cute daughter with her.

A year later, I found myself applying for Carmen’s position as she prepared to graduate with
her Master’s degree. The WRC decided to open the job up as an AmeriCorps position. Carmen
encouraged me to apply. After a couple of months of the interview process…I did get hired as
the next Empowerment Project Coordinator. Carmen gave me all her contact numbers. She said
to call her at any time if I ever needed support or help with my new job. She also wrote me a
letters of recommendations for scholarships (as I prepared for graduate school).

It’s hard to believe Carmen is gone. After she graduated from PSU, Carmen decided to try her
hand at a lifelong dream…to be a comedienne. She soon began performing at local clubs in
Portland (often wearing her signature boa) and became a big hit. I had the opportunity to see
her a couple of times to see her work the stage. She was great. You could tell she had found her

Carmen passed away after struggling with cancer. She had created a one woman show “Helloooo
Cancer” a few years ago, tackling the serious issue with her warm comedy. I had hoped to
interview Carmen for a zine. Carmen was just one of another Black woman comedienne (Rissa
Ris) in Portland. I had wanted to hear her thoughts on being a woman of color performer in a
genre that tends to be dominated by men.

I will miss Ms. Carmen.

The Carmen T. Anderson Memorial Fund has been established for the support of Carmen's
children, Derric and Mae Gayle. Donations can be made at the memorial event or via any
OnPoint Credit Union branch or the PSU Women's Resource Center.

Broadous Entertainment and Blackstar Comedy Productions is having their first All Black
Comedy Line Up on July 27th at 8pm. it will be at Vertigo Theatre on 34th/SE Belmont. Carmen
Trineece will be a part of the show and a portion of the proceeds will go to her children's trust

Monday, June 18, 2012

“The Bro Code”

By Megan Coleman
Who just graduated from PSU!

How I met your mother is a guilty pleasure of mine. I would watch just about anything with Neil Patrick Harris in it and this show is no exception yet I consistently find myself cringing at the misogynistic undertones in the show. I’m not even really sure I should be calling them “undertones” because NPH’s character (as well as others in the show), Barney Stinson, makes it very obvious how he feels about women.

Throughout the show all the characters have their ups and downs and redeeming moments just like any other show. It’s definitely not all bad, and they usually show the consequences for the misogyny. How I met your mother even features two rather strong female main characters and although eccentric, they serve as a balance for the hyper masculine energy in the show.

The main thing I want to talk about, however, is “The bro code”. Barney has created a list of rules to which men must obey otherwise lose their “Bromanship”. This is supposed to be some sort of code of conduct for all bros, but the behavior encouraged by the book (especially if you identify as anything other than a “bro”) is far from ideal.

Although it is a made up code by the TV show’s Barney Stinson, they have actually published a book of the code. While at Powell’s I thumbed threw it and some of my favorite passages were,

     “Article 1: Bro’s before ho’s
          The bond between two men is stronger than the bond between a man and a woman because, on average, men are stronger than women. That’s just science.”

     “Article 2:
           If a bro gets a dog, it must be at least as tall as his knee when full-grown.”

     “Article 12:
          Bro’s do not share dessert”

     “Article 16:
          A Bro should be able, at any time, to recite the following reigning champions: Super Bowl, World Series and Playmate of the year.”

There is 60 rules altogether and yes the intention of this book is a satirical but unfortunately there are those in the world that take it seriously. I laugh at the book because the rules seem so absurd to me but the socialization of men and women in our society starts from a very young age. I think that it’s really important for us to be aware what messages we are sending when we laugh at and or encourage gender socialization because either way we are at risk of continuing the stereotypes.

Of course it’s important to have fun and laugh about things, for a lot of us it’s how we process information. I just think it’s important to understand why these things make us laugh. If you want to learn more about the effects of gender socialization there is a great film also called “the bro code” by Thomas Kieth. He explores how gender socialization can effect how we perceive the world. The Men in the Movement Action Team also does a great discussion and screening of this documentary. It’s a great film and I would highly recommend it to both men and women.

You can see the full code at:

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sexy or Sexism?

By Megan Coleman
Student Projects Assistant
Office of the Dean of Student Life
Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
Portland State University

If any of you haven’t heard about the newish Documentary Miss Representation by Jennifer Siebel Newsom I would highly recommend watching it. This film debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network: OWN in October. Jennifer explores the misrepresentation of women in the media and how it could be affecting women striving for positions of power and influence. You can visit the website for more information about the film.

Overall I think the film is great. It is a very powerful film that shows how the images of women in the media are affecting not only women’s self-esteem but their future aspirations. It contains interviews with young women who are struggling to find their place in today’s society as well as some very familiar faces including Condoleezza Rice, Katie Couric, Nancy Pelosi, Jane Fonda, and Gloria Steinem. Jennifer urges that the problem is not only the way women are portrayed in the media, but the underrepresentation of women behind the scenes making the decisions. She suggests that if more women felt driven to seek positions of power and influence that the atmosphere would be much different. If there was a more balanced power structure there would therefore be a more balanced portrayal of women in the media.

One of my favorite things to come out of the Miss Representation movement has been the “Sexy or Sexism” Campaign. The blog which highlights the ups and downs of women in the media, “Sexy or Sexism” is powered by the Women’s Media Center as well as (You can find this blog as ). The goal of this blog is to redefine sexy and to identify sexism. This blog is centered on critiques and affirmations about how women are being portrayed in the media and I found it informative ad well as funny. Overall the posts are great; they give thoughtful critiques while still being aware of their own possible bias. I particular liked the blog post giving a graded scale to the new television shows this year on the “sexy or sexism” scale. I enjoyed that this blog wasn’t overly negative. While they do have critiques they also showcase shows that are doing great things and I thought it was nicely balanced.

I think that the goal of the Sexy or Sexism campaign is an admiral one. I especially like that they are not trying to define sexy necessarily but rather start a conversation about it. The aim is not to replace one definition of sexy with another but to broaden the very narrow scope of what television and movie producers have identified as the ideal image of beauty. Identifying sexism in the media is extremely important especially since so many of us are passively ingesting the images on the screen. Overall both these websites get a big thumbs up from me and if you have some free time and or are bored of the normal sites you frequent give these a try I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.