6.03.2005

chili peppers in her bedroom

I purposely didn't congratulate Natalie Glebova on becoming "Ms Universe" - despite her being Canadian - because, well, who cares. Sure, women (and everyone else) should do whatever they want, but can't women think of anything better to do than parade around a stage, to be judged based on their appearance and - oy - poise?

Instead, I'll congratulate Danica Patrick, the 2005 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. Last week, Patrick became the first woman to lead a lap at the Indy 500. She was the race's top qualified woman ever (4th), the highest placing woman ever (4th), and the second woman to win ROY since Lyn St. James won it in 1992. I think she is a descendant of my beloved A.E..

Another woman breaking new ground - both literally and figuratively - is Cheryl Rogowski, a farmer in Orange County, NY.
In 11 years, starting with a crop of chili peppers seeded in her bedroom and planted in a remote field, Ms. Rogowski has transformed Rogowski Farm, raising 250 varieties of produce and forming intimate connections to its customers and employees. For her innovations, she won a $500,000 "genius award" last year from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the first given to a full-time farmer.

"What I know about farming is this: It's not enough to just drive the tractor anymore," she said.

Ms. Rogowski, 43, is one of thousands of women who have changed the face of American farming. Though American farms have steadily declined in jobs and capital for years, the number of farms operated by women has more than doubled since 1978, from just over 100,000 to almost 250,000 today, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Almost 15 percent of American farms are now run primarily by women - a sea change from 1978, when the figure was 5 percent. On organic farms, according to the Organic Farming Research Foundation, the number is 22 percent.

The concentration is especially high in the Northeast, where a small farm near an urban area can now survive solely through farmers' markets, restaurants, farm memberships (in which customers pay in advance for a season's worth of produce) and other direct outlets. . . .

To expand her farm's business and its reach in its community, Ms. Rogowski arranged for weekly deliveries of produce to centers for the elderly, mentored immigrant farmers from Mexico and Guatemala, started a catering business that uses local produce, sells vegetables at eight weekly farmers' markets and is an activist for land use reform.

"Women farmers aren't a special-interest group," she said. "Our issues are the same as all American farmers - we all want to keep our farms, and we have to make money from them. But women have come up with a lot of the new ways of doing it."
I thought this New York Times article about the face of female farming was fascinating. (And so alliterative!) It's also centered upstate New York, where a piece of my heart will always live.

24 comments:

RobfromAlberta said...

I seem to recall Danica Patrick posed for some magazine in a bikini. Doesn't take away from her accomplishment, I'm just saying.

zydeco fish said...

I like reading blogs and learning something completely new. I had no idea about women in farming. That is really interesting.

L-girl said...

Re Danica Patrick in a bikini: more power to her. I think it's great. She is gorgeous, after all. But she (obviously) isn't using her looks as her sole accomplishment.

These days all the beautiful female athletes - Lisa Leslie, Mia Hamm, Jenny Finch - are unafraid to show that side of themselves. I'm all for it.

ZF: cool! If one person is interested in it, it was worth posting.

RobfromAlberta said...

Isn't she still objectifying herself? Is it ok to present yourself as a sex object as long as you are also a race car driver or an astronaut? If so, what about a beauty queen who has some other talent, but is not sufficiently accomplished to be recognized for it?

David Cho said...

Beaty pageants seem sooooooo outdated. Even though I fully appreciate and adore female beauty, pageants seem to trivialize it.

Here is a moronic question that I like to pose to people. A person who devotes him/herself to physics is called a physicist, a person who plays piano a pianist.

So shouldn't Donica Patrick be a racist?

L-girl said...

Isn't she still objectifying herself? Is it ok to present yourself as a sex object as long as you are also a race car driver or an astronaut?

I don't feel women who choose to show off their bodies are objectifying themselves. Of course other feminists feel differently, but I'm in this camp.

I don't see them as "sex objects," but as sexy people. If a woman feels sexy and wants to show it off, why not.

I'd like to see different definitions of women's beauty celebrated - different body types, not only conventional beauty, so narrowly defined - but that's a different subject.

If so, what about a beauty queen who has some other talent, but is not sufficiently accomplished to be recognized for it?

Maybe she should work harder at her other talents? There's all kinds of recognition. One doesn't have to stand on a platform and win a prize to be recognized.

It's the focus of the beauty pageant I find offensive - the competition and the judging. Lining up women like cows in the county fair to judge which is the fairest of them all.

Danica Patrick has other accomplishments and chooses also to celebrate her beauty. There's a difference for me - though I also understand the arguments against it.

L-girl said...

Beaty pageants seem sooooooo outdated. Even though I fully appreciate and adore female beauty, pageants seem to trivialize it.

Another point on which Mr Cho and I agree! :)

A person who devotes him/herself to physics is called a physicist, a person who plays piano a pianist.

So shouldn't Donica Patrick be a racist?


[groan]

David Cho said...

A groan, not LOL was exactly what I was angling for :)

David Cho said...

BTW, L-Girl, have you seen Drop Dead Gorgeous?

L-girl said...

You know, I haven't, but I should.

Is it in the vein of "Best In Show" and "A Mighty Wind"? I like those "mockumentaries".

David Cho said...

Yes it is a mockumentary. It follows the participants of a teen beauty pageant in a small conservative Minnesota town.

There are some big names in there: Denise Richards, Kirsten Dunst, Kristie Alley. You will love it. Haven't really seen "A Mighty Wind." Will have to check that out. Even as a dog lover, I didn't think "Best in Show" was all that. Maybe I will have to see it again.

L-girl said...

I didn't love Best In Show either. It was just there.

I loved A Mighty Wind, but it helps to know something about the folk-music scene and the music biz in general. Same for the granddaddy of all mockumentaries, Spinal Tap.

Waiting for Guffman is good too - but again, if you've never been involved in theatre, it might not hit home. Since I have an interest in both theatre and music, I loved these movies.

I will definitely see Drop Dead Gorgeous - thanks!

G said...

I agree on the point of the focus of pageants ... yeah, the whole point of the thing is to line them up, like a car show or something.

That said, I see nothing wrong with Golubeva's choice to participate in and of itself - it is the same choice Patrick made, after all, in the magazine undie shoot, which was by the way much more revealing than the one-piece swimsuit in the pageant. If I were to argue Golubeva's choice to participate as demeaning or as setting things back for women, I would have no choice but to say the same thing for anyone who posed in anything. And I can't do that.

What about magazine photoshoots anyway? Yeah, Patrick did something with her talent. Woo hoo. That means very little actually as she also did a photoshoot. Please explain to me how a magazine that devotes entire sections to mostly-naked women is somehow okay while a pageant somehow is not ... to me it's really the same thing. So in that sense the argument you make does have some holes, LG.

PS I have a friend who went to school with Golubeva. 90s student; is well-educated post-secondary; and works in IT management, which is typically a male-dominated field so she is making strides there. The girl is more than just a pretty face on a pedestal, and that is the part that makes me proud that she won (even if I care not for the event itself). It's not bad for the pageant symbol of Canadian women to be someone well-educated who is making strides for females in a traditionally-male occupation. Not bad at all.

L-girl said...

Well, you're approaching this in an entirely different way than I think about it. I'm not trying to make an argument, with or without holes. Nor bashing Globeva for her choice to participate in a beauty pageant.

I am merely saying that beauty pageants turn me off, and I personally don't admire people who participate in them.

At the same time, I don't bash female athletes for doing non-sports photo shoots, no matter how much skin they show.

The magazines themselves might turn me off (many do, some don't), as does using sex to sell products, but again, that's a separate issue to me.

It's a gut-level, emotional reaction, not a theoretical or intellectual argument - as most things are for me.

I don't mind if other people find my opinions inconsistent. I just feel the way I feel.

L-girl said...

Oops, that's Glebova, not Globeva. Sorry, Natalie.

G said...

That's okay, I spelled it wrong too. Writing an review right now on a Russian film ... actress has a similar name ... musta got it confused.

I do get where you're coming from. And that's cool. My own personal view just doesn't see a photoshoot in a magazine as any different than a pageant - the principle to me is the same.

But, if these things are going to occur, then at least it is nice to see a bit of quality represented once in a while in the choices made for the event. Great that Patrick got publicity - a female succeeding in the male-dominated auto racing industry. If anything it shows that the cracks in the glass ceiling are ever-growing. Excellent. People need to hear about that.

And same for Glebova (got it right that time!). Publicity for a female who (dare I say it) is succeeding in the male-dominated IT sector. If anything it shows that the cracks in the glass ceiling are ever-growing.

Like I said, two sides of the same exact coin.

L-girl said...

Sadly, many female athletes do the posing thing to prove they're not lesbian. On one side there's tremendous homophobia within women's sports, on the other side there's the assumption a female athlete - esp in a male-dominated field like auto racing - is a dyke.

Many women athletes feel pressure (subtle and not-so-subtle) to prove or display their heterosexuality. I always note the long ponytails of women basketball players. It would be much easier to wear short hair, but many athletic women feel they can't - too many strikes against them already, they have to look more femme.

Even with a sizeable number of WNBA players being gay, and even with the league's huge lesbian following, hardly anyone is out.

David Cho said...

Hey G, do you have a link to Patrick's shots? :)

I am completely with l-girl on this one. The PRIMARY thing that drives beauty pageants is about looks even though they have thrown other components such as talent and interview skills into evaluation. If you don't have the looks, you are out.

Note the word primary here.

Patrick's rise to fame is not because of her looks, but her athletic prowess. She might not have gotten as much attention had she not had the looks (or she might have gotten even more attention had she been the prototype blonde with blue eyes. It's all speculative at this point), but a woman with lesser looks would have won the same accolades.

I think that is the fundamental difference here. The beauty pageants is quite blatant about the no looks no need to apply policy which I think is why they are so outdated and cheesy.

L-girl said...

Yeah. I wasn't in the mood to debate, but that's the difference I was getting at. One is celebrating/cashing in on beauty secondary to other accomplishments - and one is solely about appearance.

"Publicity for a female who (dare I say it) is succeeding in the male-dominated IT sector."

I think this is disingenuous, since she didn't get the publicity for that success, she got it for being Ms Universe. Her career success has nothing to do with the pageant.

She may be succeeding in a male-dominated sector (though the IT field is full of women! it's more gender-integrated than most fields, and certainly more than auto-racing), but that's an aside, as far as the pageant goes. The Ms Universe contest isn't a competition among successful women to see who is the most competent in some field. It's a competition among women to see who is judged the most beautiful. That's what I find objectionable.

It's the difference between a Sports Illustrated story about Mia Hamm that mentions she is attractive (as, for example, all stories about Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter do), and the SI Swimsuit issue.

David Cho said...

BTW, L-Girl, speaking of women in the IT field, I wrote about a former classmate of mine on my blog. Have you read it? Not a plug here, but the coincidence is quite amazing :).

I agree about the disengenuity of throwing in her IT career. It's almost as if they are trying to spin away the fact that all they care about is appearance. How cheesy is that?

I remember catching this one episode of Extreme Makeover. Why I did it? Was desperate for some entertainment. After the makeover, this woman gave the typical, "I'm so beautiful, and I am so much happier for it" lines, which you just laugh at. Then my stomach began to churn when she touched on how she felt so much more beautiful on the INSIDE as well. It started to look like a freak show.

Then it got better. She began to volunteer hours at the home for women with disfigured faces. I just about fell out of my chair, at which point I turned the TV off. It wasn't good enough to show off her new looks on national TV, but she had to stalk those with permanent defects and rub it in?

L-girl said...

David, that's an excellent post! (Plus one of my dogs is named Cody. :-) )

This discussion is very interesting to me. My feelings on these issues have evolved over the years, partly from knowing feminists much younger than me who are more open to women using sex and their bodies to their advantage. They have different attitudes than an older generation of feminists - and being somewhere in the middle, it's been educational for me.

I think I feel a post coming on...

L-girl said...

And that Extreme Makeover shit is GROSS! Makes me shudder.

David Cho said...

It's interesting to note that the conservative/religious side has changed in that regard as well. We have always been taught that God only looks at the heart and that conservative (as in not flaunting your looks and covering more of one's skin) attire and life style were virtues.

Today, unless you look like a GQ man, there is no way you can become a big time preacher. In stark contrast, the two of the pillars of the faith in the 19th century were DL Moody and Hudson Taylor, both of whom were quite a bit overweight and GQ men were they not.

If you browse through Christian contemporary music CD's, all the artists are young, pretty and "sexy". Started out with Amy Grant who was our Britney Spears before Britney Spears was Britney Spears.

Seems like the media age has brought stench to all across the philosophical spectrum. There is no way Abraham Lincoln or Ted Roosevelt gets elected today.

L-girl said...

"Today, unless you look like a GQ man, there is no way you can become a big time preacher."

That's disturbing. I don't know why I thought religion would be exempt. Shows you what I know.

"There is no way Abraham Lincoln or Ted Roosevelt gets elected today."

I say that all the time! I'm usually talking about Nixon, but same idea.

Our culture has become appearance conscious to such an extreme degree. It's scary.