Angel From Hell Lacks Angelic Glow

By Erin Valentine

Originally posted for Legendary Women

With the debut of the pilot for Angel From Hell being pushed back a few months, my hope for the show just kept rising. As a fan of Maggie Lawson from Psych and a respect for Jane Lynch’s brand of comedy, I was pretty excited. The finished product, however, has left me a bit dejected.

Photo Credit: CBS Television Studios

Lynch plays Amy. An ‘angel’ who is a bit knocked in the head, she is honest, quirky, and aggressively straightforward. Amy is the guardian angel to Lawson’s character, Allison. Allison is a type-A perfectionist and an almost painful cliché as a hard-working career woman.

The show’s premise is one we’ve all seen before: two very different people become unlikely friends and change each other for the better. It’s the classic mixing of the uptight sensible and the crazy unpredictable.

Watching the show, I really wanted to immediately fall in love with it. But it just kept hurting itself.

The dialogue was hard to follow and the pilot’s plotline lacked any interesting traction. The casting is lacking in diversity. And by that I mean I saw one person of color in the entire episode, including a populated party scene. Plus, the concept of the show is a bit hard to buy. I would be calling the cops and getting a restraining order against this woman following me around.

Photo Credit: CBS Television Studios

My real issue was that these two women could have utilized their characters to empower women. Instead, as a viewer, I felt I kept having to defend my gender while watching the show.

First, Allison is berated by her boyfriend, friends, and by Amy for being a hard worker concerned about her career. Lawson’s character is constantly criticized for working too much while her cheating boyfriend is glorified for being “chill” and unemployed. There is a constant focus on Lawson for needing to relax and be calm. This shows the unfair standard against women that if they work long hours, then clearly they must reevaluate their priorities. I was frustrated with the fact that the show could have applauded Allison for working hard. Instead, it felt like the fight for women’s equality stumbled back a few steps.

Secondly, Allison’s emotions after her breakup with her boyfriend are called a pity party and immediately pushed down by Amy. Why would she not be allowed to grieve finding out that her long-term boyfriend was cheating on her with her best friend? I personally think that’s a damn good reason to have a pity party, at least for a bit. This ignorance of emotional care seemed more like a need to move the plot along than to embrace the need to grieve one’s losses.

Photo Credit: CBS Television Studios

Past those issues, the rest of the show had the overall sense of ‘meh.’ Lynch is not the typical “easily lovable” guardian, like from past shows such as I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched  — but no one expected her to play that role. Her character is portrayed as “eclectic,” yet the most abnormal thing about her is the amount of mousse in her hair. Lawson plays the same character type she has in past roles and seems bland in her character.

Hopefully, this is just a bumpy pilot. The show could have a chance if they find an interesting way to steer the plot, and if they can use the show to uplift women. But, the show’s feeling of ‘been there, done that’ could be its quick undoing.

Overall impression: Not a fan. But let’s hold on to hope for next week.

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10 Best Places in the World to be a Woman

By Erin Valentine

Originally posted for Legendary Women

If you are a woman, you may want to set your sails for the Nordic countries. Each year the World Economic Forum produces the Global Gender Gap Report. The report indexes 142 countries and ranks them according to gender gaps relating to four categories. The categories are health and survival, educational attainment, economic participation and opportunity, and political empowerment. The report scores the countries between 0.00 and 1.00, ranging from total inequality to complete equality respectively.

1. Iceland

Consistently on lists as one of the happiest countries in the world, along with being one of the most feminist-friendly, Iceland has been in the number spot on the Gender Gap Index since 2009. High in educational attainment and political empowerment, Iceland has exceptional rankings in enrollment in tertiary education and professional and technical workers.

2. Finland

The land of a thousand lakes and the midnight sun, Finland is one of the places where women have the most representation in government, according to the OECD’s Government at a Glance. High in educational attainment and political empowerment, Finland has been the second or third highest in the Gender Gap Index since 2006.

3. Norway

It’s a land famous for its fjords. Norway is high in educational attainment, economic participation and opportunity, and political empowerment in the Gender Gap Index. According to the index report, Norway has also managed to close its gender gap in relation to estimated earned income.

4. Sweden

Home of the highest percentage of working mothers in the developed world, Sweden is another country where women have the most representation in government, according to the OECD’s Government at a Glance. A lack of gender gap in literacy rates, along with a higher ratio of women to men in ministerial positions, puts Sweden in comfortably in the top five.

5. Denmark

Home to the oldest continuing monarchy, Denmark has a high educational attainment ranking. It is up three spots from 2013’s Gender Gap Index report.

6. Nicaragua

Nicaragua is known for its diverse wildlife, history, and culture, along with housing the largest natural lake in Central America. In the report, it is high ranking in health and survival, with women outliving men.

7. Rwanda

Known as Africa’s cleanest country, Rwanda has more female members in its parliament than any other in the world. It also has a higher ratio of women to men in labor force participation and enrollment in primary education.

8. Ireland

Ahead of its time, ancient Irish laws, called Brehon Laws, gave women equal equality with men, which was revolutionary until they were ended under Queen Elizabeth I. Before the laws were banished, women were queens and warriors in their own right. Now, Ireland is high ranking in political empowerment, along with good rankings in educational attainment, excluding enrollment in primary education.

9. Philippines

One of the fastest growing countries in the world, the Philippines is high ranking in educational attainment and health and survival. All of the enrollments in education have a higher ratio of females to males.

10. Belgium

Belgium has a better wage gap than the EU average, yet a below average number of women in management for the EU. Educational attainment is high overall, excluding enrollment in secondary education.

Sadly, both of these reports show just marginal increases for women. In today’s society, it is incredibly frustrating to see a lack of fast change. The United States is clearly lacking from the top spots in both reports, even ranking below average in OECD’s data for representation of women in lower government houses. Also, the Gender Gap Index shows just that, the gap between genders, not necessarily the amount of equality. We’re making slow progress, but we have a lot farther to go.

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Disclaimer: I do not own these images.

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Over-dramatic, Offensive, and Funny?: Scream Queens is the New Show to Try

By Erin Valentine and Katie Tabeling

Originally posted for Legendary Women

SPOILERS ALERT:

“Scream Queens” made its debut on Fox Tuesday, and in creator Ryan Murphy’s words, the show is supposed to focus on women in a new genre. The anthology will focus on two female protagonists in a groundbreaking comedy-horror hybrid. Horror films are a weird combination of empowering and misogynistic — the bulk of women characters being used as titillation and then being butchered while one woman defeats the killer. The Scream Queens sense of humor already reflects that. The opening line in a series about a serial killer hunting sorority sisters is a menstruation joke when a sorority sister has blood on her hands. Ha ha, like no one’s heard that one before. And then, the sorority sisters, who clearly have the emotional capacities of teaspoons, choose to jam out to “Waterfalls” instead of helping out a fellow sister.

Where the wit rests is in the biting-the-hand humor of the genre. Instead of having characters discuss the tropes like in “Scream,” the characters treat classic tropes like obvious choices. When the killer already starts piling bodies, Jamie Lee Curtis gives a long speech about how the teenaged girls are safer at school than going home. The security guard, hired to protect the sorority girls, tells them to run away and scream. When Emma Roberts escapes from the psycho that attacked upstairs in the sorority house, she chooses to go back upstairs to catch him. The clincher is when she goes back up: SLUTS WILL DIE is written in blood. The horror conventions are in effect full-throttle, played over the top to ridiculous results.

The characters themselves seem like extreme parodies of arch-types. Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) is the president of the Kappa Kappa Tau. She’s well dressed, rude and highly homophobic, classist and racist. Her prejudice borderlines on absurd stupidity, like calling the maid “white mammy” and welcoming a gay pledge to appeal to the “gross gay fans and gay hairdressers” she’ll have to deal with in the world as a future news anchor. Her entire world is focused on college and how she can rule it — she’s desperate to stay popular and loved by dating Chad, even though he might be into necrophilia and a general jerk. When the dean decides the sorority needs to accept everyone, Chanel’s response is to fake burn someone’s face off. Chanel is more interested in demonstrating her power over the other girls in Hell Week despite the bodies being dropped. Her Mean Girl style comments are hit and miss hilarity, leaving the audience to wonder if her offensive comments are more sociopathic than comedic.

The antagonistic to Roberts’ character is the lovable, well-intentioned Grace (Skyler Samuels). Raised by her HOT father (Goldie Hawn’s genes will do that to you), Grace dresses like a hipster with a love for 70s flair. She’s a character with a conscious… for now. Of course, she gets involved with the creepy but alluring investigative reporter student who has been an admirer of Chanel’s in the past. Grace snoops around the house and plots with her boy toy on how to bring down Chanel’s shady empire.

Others seem to be in a study of subversions, like memorable Hester (Lea Michele), a girl with scoliosis. The neckbrace and ice-cream cone sweaters make her seem like she’s desperate for friends. Instead, she’s not freaked out by the bodies dropping around her — in fact, she’s got some helpful tips about disposal. Chanel # 5 (Abigail Breslin) starts off as the beaten down flunky, but has biting moments of sarcasm and calls herself Chanel’s best friend. Zayday (Keke Palmer) is good girl Grace’s roommate and fellow Kappa pledge. She’s the main target of Chanel’s racism. While her character isn’t as cliché as the security guards, Zayday is clearly there to be the standard BBF, or black best friend.

But the queen of killing clichés is Dean Munsch, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. She’s the complete antithesis of the roles she played in horror films in the 80s — the sweet virginal final girl. Here she’s seen menacing the sorority, smoking pot, blackmailing students to sleep with her and hitting on parents. It’s clear that she’s disillusioned by college life and making less money than the football coaches. Her smug smirk when bodies hit the floor make it seem like she’s more interested in punishing the sorority than saving the girls themselves.

Another interesting character casting choice on the show is the guest stars, Ariana Grande and Nick Jonas. While Grande is killed off in the first episode, the inclusion of Jonas and Grande is a fairly obvious ploy to bring in viewers with simple name recognition. Following Murphy’s mocking of Slasher-tropes, he continues with the tradition of killing off major actors to shock the audience.

The overall plot of the 2-hour premiere takes the viewer on a ride that is at times enjoyable and others grotesque. The unnatural all-white house decor and bleach-filter of the show highlights the white-centric aspects of stereotypical sorority life. While the storyline and structure are similar to American Horror Story, Scream Queens has the wonderful addition of idiotic characters who lack all common sense. One really fantastic scene from the premiere is Grande’s death scene. As she quite literally dances with the devil, they text each other face-to-face until her goes for the kill. Then, right before she is stabbed to death, she sends out a long tweet pleading for help. The poking of fun at Millennials is hysterical and definitely hits home in the best bittersweet way.

Murphy considers horror-comedy to be the best new genre, and the show excels with the majority of the jokes. There’s plenty of gore, from spray tanning gone wrong to faces melting in a fryer to a girl’s head being mowed off. Overall, the star-studded cast makes the show alluring and you spend the two hours wondering if the show is intelligent, witty, or just stupid.

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Disclaimer: I do not own these images.

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4 Must-Read Books to Learn About Women Worldwide

Originally posted for Legendary Women

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

halftheskyBy Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

From a book to a documentary to a movement, Half the Sky is chock-full of inspiring stories of women fighting oppression. Written by the husband-wife team of Kristof and WuDunn the book centers on sex trafficking, microfinance, education, and sexual violence. It is a collection of women’s stories weaved together in a call for others to act. Half the Sky takes stories that otherwise would never reach an audience and gives them a strong foundation. It is inspiring and eye-opening to read about these women rising above the obstacles thrown at them in life.

Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East

paradiseBy Isobel Coleman

The Middle East has been in constant state of shift for decades. Coleman’s book discusses how Muslim women and men are pushing and fighting for women’s rights. In countries not know for their gender equality, Coleman tells stories of Islamic feminists and effective activists whose goals are to create political, educational, and economic power for women and girls. This issue is particularly interesting because of the balance between fighting for reform and accommodating the rich traditions of ancient cultures.

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present

everythingBy Gail Collins

Starting off with a very comprehensive summary of the history of women in America from 1960 to now, Collins shows that not as much as we’d like to think has changed. Women tasks may have changed, but much of the gender inequality is still inexplicably there. The book flows with the stories of different women and their experiences of being women in America over the past 50 years. Collins shows that there is certainly positive change, with women running for office, fighting for their country, and taking leaps and bounds in gender equality, but that women are also humans with flaws.

The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World

goldbergBy Michelle Goldberg

Journalist Michelle Goldberg advocates how giving reproductive rights to women all over the world would help improve overpopulation, poverty, and the spread of disease. Not a simple topic, Goldberg does a fantastic job of connecting women’s personal choices to international politics. With stories ranging over four continents, this is a great reading choice for anyone with interests in health policy or women’s reproductive rights.

So expand your bookshelf and learn a few new things about your fellow women around the world. Also, did we miss anything? Let us know what books you think should be included on this list! Tweet us @legendarywomen to let us know what other books are out there!

I do not hold the rights to these images.

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10 Female Leaders Who Are Changing the World

By Erin Valentine

Original post for Legendary Women

Leaders need to be strong, courageous and innovative. Female leaders also need an unbreakable backbone, endurance, and more, to make their voices heard. These ten women are changing and transforming the world, one pioneering idea at a time.

Tracy Chou

A voice for women in the female-light tech industry, Tracy Chou is a problem-solver who is bringing awareness to the gender imbalance of the tech industry. Chou has started a compilation of the tech industry’s employees, focusing on the lack of diversity in gender. She asked for companies to submit their number of female employees compared to the total employees. Obviously the numbers were sadly low. But, Chou said that this project is a way to mark progress regarding gender representation in the tech industry.

Kira Orange Jones

Kira Orange Jones is a driving force behind reinventing the New Orleans school system. By advocating for better school environments, along with being elected onto the schoolboard, Jones has started changing the idea of education in New Orleans. Named in Time’s 2015 100 Most Influential People, Jones is currently the Greater New Orleans executive director of Teach for America. Jones’s work has transformed the public education in New Orleans, increasing the graduation rate significantly.

Saran Kaba Jones

Originally from Liberia, Saran Kaba Jones is a clean water advocate and a social entrepreneur. As founder and executive director of FACE Africa, Jones has worked to provide clean water to rural and poor parts of Liberia. Jones has been appointed International Goodwill Ambassador for the county of River Cess in Liberia. She also co-founded Empire Group, which creates small-scale businesses in hospitality, agriculture, and manufacturing.

Chanda Kochhar

Chanda Kochhar is the managing director and CEO of ICICI Bank, the largest private bank in India. Known as one of the most powerful women in business, Kochhar is no stranger to leadership and innovation. Also one of the most powerful women in India, Kochhar was named one of Time’s 2015 100 Most Influential People in the World. Kochhar has stated that while the leadership atmosphere in India has changed in the past 30 years, women need to believe in themselves and their ability to have professional and family lives.

Jensine Larsen

Founder of World Pulse, an online communication network that connects and promotes female leaders all over the globe, Jensine Larsen is a social media entrepreneur. An advocate for the use of social media and technology to accelerate women’s global empowerment, Larsen has traveled around the globe, speaking to, meeting, and empowering women to embrace leadership roles in their community.

Janet Mock

Janet Mock is an author, editor, and transgender rights activist. A transgender women herself, Mock has worked to create a safe space and understanding for trans voices through social media. Mock also creates transgender-specific programs for the LGBTQ youth center of the Hetrick-Martin Institute.

Ai-jen Poo

Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, co-director of Caring Across Generations, and the 2014 recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Award, Ms. Poo has helped make significant change for a variety of causes. Ms. Poo is a strong advocate for improving the long-term care system in the United States. She also was an essential part of the passing of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in New York State in 2010, which guaranteed domestic workers basic labor protections

Hayat Sindi

Hayat Sindi is a Saudi Arabian medical scientist who has been a major influencer for point-of-care medical testing and biotechnology in the world. One of the first female members of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, Sindi is also one of the most influential Arabs in the world. She is also a strong promoter of science education in the Middle East, particularly for girls. Drawing from her personal success from education, she promotes the need for equal education.

Dr. Tererai Trent

An advocate for educating women and sending them to school, Dr. Tererai Trent grew up in Zimbabwe with a strong desire to learn. After being married at a young age and having children, Trent still wished to receive her education and go beyond her village. Due to perseverance and a stroke of luck, she was able to get the education she desired. Trent has quite the story of a self-starter, which was featured in the book, Half the Sky. Oprah, after hearing of Trent’ success and having her on her show, donated $1.5 million to Trent so she could build her own school in her old village in Zimbabwe.

Cheery Zahau

Cheery Zahau is a well-known women’s rights activist from Burma, who is currently based out of Thailand. Zahau advocates for equal representation of women in the Burmese government, along with improvements in gender equality in the country overall. Zahau has helped bring international attention to issues such as the Burmese military regime’s use of rape as a weapon. Some of her current positions are leader of the Women’s League of Chinland and an advocacy officer at the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma.

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Feminist Activism Project Coverage

A project that started as a class assignment has evolved into something much bigger. My fellow classmate (and friend) and I created a media literacy project that pointed out the sexist headlines in entertainment journalism. We deconstructed the headlines and recreated them to be more feminist-friendly. The INCREDIBLY cool result that we’ve gotten from this project is the amount of sites that have helped spread our message. Here is a link to the original project, called Breaking News: Deconstructing Entertainment Journalism. The spread of our project has helped us in our overall goal to bring awareness to media literacy and start a conversation on sexism in entertainment journalism. You can also learn about our project, and some of our findings, from the outlets that have covered it!

The Huffington Post

Lady Collective

Legendary Women

BuzzFeed

Jaipur Women Blog

Livskick Blog

The Stir

Take a look at our project and let us know your feedback!

The background of crime in Burlington and North Carolina

Multimedia reporting by Erin Valentine

Part of a team reporting project on crime and community in Burlington, NC

In Burlington, NC, the connection between preventing crime and interacting with the community is essential.

“It takes a lot of work between everybody involved,” Lt. Currie of the Community Relations division said. “We need citizens and everybody to help us do our job, and they expect a certain thing from us for service, and so we all just have to work together and form a common ground.”

According to the RAIDS Online database, some of the most committed crimes over the past year in Burlington were assault, theft, vandalism, DUI, residential burglary, aggravated assault and motor vehicle burglary.

Crimes reported over the past year in Burlington, NC, Graphic courtesy of RAIDS Online

According to North Carolina’s Department of Justice compilation of crime statistics report from 2013, which is the most recent report available to the public, Alamance County’s crime rate is in the top 25 of all 100 counties in North Carolina.

The most common crimes in North Carolina are larceny, burglary and aggravated assault. The report also showed the total number of arrests in 2013 to be 87,048, with over 9,800 of those arrests being juveniles.

Crime in North Carolina has been on the decline in the past decade. Between 2004 and 2013, all crimes have dropped by 12.6%, with the largest decrease being in motor vehicle theft, rape, arson and robbery.

Table from the NC Dept. of Justice on the crimes in Alamance County over the past decade.

Table from the NC Dept. of Justice on the crimes in Alamance County over the past decade.

Citizens have the opportunities to look at this information in specific areas through RAIDS Online. RAIDS Online is a public crime map compiled for BAIR, which allows users to see the frequency of certain crimes in specific areas, such as Burlington, NC. Users can choose their allotted timespan and see a breakdown and analysis of the data, using multiple graphs and charts.

According to the RAIDS Online database, some of the most committed crimes over the past year in Burlington, NC, were assault, theft, vandalism, DUI, residential burglary, aggravated assault and motor vehicle burglary.

The data analysis showed that the days of the week with highest numbers of crimes were Wednesday and Thursday. It also showed that Sunday around midnight is a popular time for crime.

The Burlington police department tries to combat these statistics by using intelligence-led policing, Crime Stoppers and Civilian Ride Along program.

Alex English, a crime analyst with the Burlington Police Department, works with RAIDS Online to promote intelligence-led policing.

According to English, the FBI website curates data for all areas that report their crime data. English compiles the data from officers’ reports that are sent to RAIDS Online, and then sends those numbers to the FBI.

“Those numbers go up to the state, each state sends those numbers to the FBI, and that’s sort of how they get the crime index for the nation as a whole,” English said.

For Burlington, their most common crimes over the years have been larcenies.

“If you look at our data, our number one crime is always larcenies,” English said.

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According to English, thefts from grocery stores are usually the homeless stealing food, while thefts from larger stores (i.e. Walmart) with higher priced items (i.e. electronics) are usually stolen so that they can be resold to get money for drugs. The city of Burlington especially has these issues due to the fact that it is home to two of the three Walmarts in Alamance County, which could be a reason for why larcenies are the number one crime.

Information on crimes is collected by police officers. According to English, each officer has a computer in their car. They take down the report in their vehicle, which includes the location. A supervisor approves the reports before they are put on the RAIDS Online map.

English will occasionally go through and make sure that the program is coded correctly. The biggest coding issues they have are the locations based on wherever the call comes in from, as sometimes the location of the crimes will default to the police station if the call is answered there.

Another aspect of English’s position as a crime analyst is to analyze crime trends and see if they’re going up or down, which assists in intelligence-led policing.

“Instead of just randomly driving around for stuff, we look for patterns,” English said. “We’ll sort of see if we can predict the next pattern or what’s going to be a likely target, and set up a patrol around that area.”

When there are lulls in the call volume, English said that they try to be proactive.

According to English, he’ll look at the past week’s reported crimes and compare the numbers to those of the previous five years of data.

“We’ll look at that number, and then we’ll look at the past five years of data and sort of see what’s our average for the five years, and then do one standard deviation above and below,” English said. “So that’s 95 percent of your crime that should generally be in that area to say that’s a normal range, nothing big or low.”

If the recent crime data is above the normal range, English said he knows there should be a red flag and they need to look at what may be going on. If the recent data is lower than normal, then they may look at what they did to keep the number of crimes down.

According to Currie, there is no daily routine for officers. They come in, do role call, receive information on what is going on in the city, what may have happened overnight and what to keep an eye out for. However, this routine is easily disrupted.

“And then, all of a sudden, things can change, and everything will just go haywire all of a sudden,” Currie said. “The power can go out in the city or a stoplight is not working and then we need to go to direct traffic.”

The Burlington Police Department consists of 66 patrol officers who are under the command of Assistant Chief J.E. Kerns. Patrol officers are usually the first responders to calls. According to the police department’s website, in 2012, officers responded to over 64,000 calls.

Each officer is required to complete a minimum of 648 hours of Basic Law Enforcement training to begin, and must continue their education throughout their career. There are eight patrol teams, with 13 to 14 patrol officers on each team. Four shifts rotate throughout the day, with one K-9 unit on each shift.

The K-9 unit is particularly useful in tracking suspects, apprehending suspects, searching buildings and also detecting drugs.

The police department hosts programs to help encourage citizens to get involved. Crime Stoppers is an anonymous way for citizens to call in and report illegal activity. Citizens may receive monetary award depending on the information they provide.

Another program is Civilian Ride Alongs, which gives citizens a chance to apply to accompany an officer on their shift. This way they can get firsthand experience on what the police patrol does.

According to Currie, the Burlington Police Department’s main concern is to connect with the community and have every citizen assist in keeping the city safe.

If you want to see the reporting process for common crimes in Burlington, go to our blog.