Wednesday Top Three: Engage Her

1. Engage Her: Last night I went to the premiere of this new documentary about the need for women of color to vote and get involved in the political process. But the film isn’t really for me: It’s aimed at women of color themselves, and I thought it provided a very effective argument for their political participation. If you, dear reader, have some way of getting this film in front of an audience that needs to see it, please do contact Engage Her and tell them you want to help.

2. Mad Men: This cable series, set in the advertising industry in the early 1960s, just won a bunch of Emmy Awards. The writing and characters are gripping, but Mad Men is also a fascinating sociological and historical study of womanhood, manhood, and gender roles at a dramatic point of transition. It made me think right away of Susan Faludi’s 1999 book Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man–in fact, the parallels between the POV of both the series and Faludi’s book makes me think that Stiffed must be required reading for Mad Men‘s writers. In both, traditional masculine values like self-reliance, steadfastness, and dedication to community welfare have steadily undermined by the encroachments of a culture that prizes image and performance over principle and real accomplishment. Its a process that pushes both the interview subjects of Faludi’s book and protagonist Don Draper of Mad Men into a state of spiritual free fall. At the same time, however, we’re reminded by both works that we cannot go back: Thanks in part to its terrific attention to the details of its characters’ lives, Mad Men makes sexism real and concrete, and reminds us of how far we’ve advanced from the “good old days” when women were prisoners in their own homes.

3. Friends: Last night Liko’s pal Linus and mama Molly were supposed to come to dinner. Alas, they cancelled, and Liko wept inconsolably. Suddenly the doorbell rang: It was Liko’s pal Anna Priya and daddy Viru, just stopping by! Liko and Anna Priya got married and had a baby, though they couldn’t agree whether it was a boy or a girl. No matter: Liko was happy, and I was happy that he has such good friends.