Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Say My Name

Sometimes a meeting can really make your day. In the middle of Excel sheets and overwhelming emailing, it is so empowering to meet people who really make change happen. My meeting today with Nirit Peled boosted the rest of the day.

Peled is an Israeli-born documentary maker who has for the last years focused on women in hip hop. She is currently working on Say My Name, a full-length documentary on female MCs and the women they inspire. She showed me the trailer and I found myself warming up from the inside. The strength of these women who are in the public eye characterised as rowdy and loud, was unbelievable. And the most amazing fact was that stars like Erykah Badu were completely shadowed by the normal women from the streets of Atlanta, New York and London. These girls kick ass.

I loved it, loved it, loved it. The trailer led us into a lengthy discussion on why these girls are so seldom heard and so often talked about. Through the interview we saw not rowdy but smart and frank women comfortable with their sexuality and opinions.

Nirit Peled works also with companies like Nike and MTV. It was brilliant to hear her insight on how these partnerships work. I am getting more and more convinced that often we in the non-profit sector could learn from commercial actors who seem to know how to tap into people's aspirations, how to talk to people directly and how to get them make and give their best. For instance a lot of these women take a lot of distance to classic feminism whereas a lot of women's organisations would see many of these openly sexual girls as victims of a chauvinist culture. Without dissing the protection agenda of the feminist movement, I would still claim that we should be using the modern means we have to make sure that as many of us as possible have the chance for a voice.

I really don't have problems with Nike, MTV and Dove making money by empowering women, I really don't. It is not like public funders would not have an agenda - sometimes it feels like the commercial funders are just much more honest with theirs.


Anonymous said...

Love the way you write about her and her project. Very catching. Love to see her documentary.

Akki Colenbrander, NL

___________________________________ said...

Respect. Was a vibrant conversation, I left with much inspiration.
Challenging stereotypes is providing perspectives for consideration, education and activation! Lets keep connecting those dots!

Tommi Laitio said...

Akki, you should see it, it is very fresh indeed. Thanks for both of you for the kind words.

My question is: where else could we hear these voices and whether we indeed always need a journalist/documentary maker to capture it or are their initiatives where the women talk without mediation? As a journalist I know how much interviewing can actually help someone to present themselves even better than they could by themselves.