Saturday, August 12, 2006

Strong and HOT real women

Taking the term "hot woman" to another turn, the REAL HOT 100 organization held its 1st celebration at the KFMK Galleries in New York City on August 10th – 12th. Starting on the 10th the gallery showcased artwork by some of the winners of the REAL hot 100 ( and other artists.

Two days later, these women and other honorary "hotties" convened at a brunch to network and highlight each other's successes. Later that evening the festivities continued as more women (and men!) came by to continue the celebration. I stopped by for a short while to see just who is hot and why. When I arrived, chocolate, candies and rose petals were strewn around the gallery (on West 29th Street).

The REAL hot 100 are 100 young women who are breaking barriers, fighting stereotypes and making a difference in their communities and the nation. The non-profit was founded in 2005 in an effort to combat the lack of positive, strong images of young women in the media. It promotes positive, realistic images of younger women in the name of media justice. In addition to celebrating them, it helps them realize their goals.

Gwynn Cassidy who's involved with and introduced me to political social cartoonist Mikhaela Reid and Donna Riley, who is a professor at the Smith College Picker Engineering Program (, which is the first engineering program specifically for women. For the past five years this program was the first and only program with a female professor. Sweet Briar ( in Virginia will be joining the ranks soon. Smith is breaking ground by having 6 women out of the 10 engineering professors against the national rate of 7%. Deanne Zandt was a spiffy dresser in her short-shorts and tuxedo top--she's equally adept at commanding an audience in her work with key progressive organizations including the Independent Media Institute, Free Speech TV. Catch her blog at AlterNet's "The Mix." Her mom, Rachel Zandt, made it into town to support her strong multi-tasking daughter. Jennifer Pozner, executive director of Women in Media & News, told me about their Power Source project ( ) and the efforts of this media analysis education and advocacy group. F-Word zine-ster ( Melody Berger was in town from Philadelphia. She told me she is also is editing an anthology of young feminist writer for Seal Press.

Mid-party I got a "reading" by intuitive reader and consultant Nan O'Brien ( who told me I'll meet my next significant other in October. If your name is Gary and you like to go to the park—let me know! ;) She told me about Phoenix-based disability advocates Amy Rocker and Samantha Johnson who hosted their own fundraiser so they could get to New York for the event. Amy is on the Phoenix Mayor's Commission on Disability, works for the Arizona Spinal Cord Association in Community Relations and does a whole host of other community-related efforts. Samantha is also a Commissioner on Disability Issues for Phoenix, AZ when she's not providing home and community-based services to the elderly and disabled population as a Long Term Care Case Manager.

Eloquent and elegant cousins Maureen Saint-Cyr and Farrah Marguerite Saint-Surin both advocate for women and are involved in their student governments, women's organizations Haitian American organizations and missionary work. They were just a few of the so many amazing and diverse women at this event. What they really represent is a small but growing percentage of women who are active in their lives and communities and thus affecting change for the world (economically, business-wise) and who are creating positive role models for young girls and the next generations of HOT women!

Angry cartoonist Mikhaela Reid's ( paintings adorned the walls above the promotional and swag table. The pop-art bold graphics were a great visual complementing the bold women in the room. Other swag that pushed the point: In true Girl Scout style, the Girl Scouts had iron-on patches available and postcards where you could register as an alumna. (Daisy and Brownies included too!); a "NY (heart) (women symbol)" pin; The Feminist Press at the City University of New York; a National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health pin; a 10% coupon; info on screenings for the "I was a teenage Feminist" (; information on the performance "In Her Image: Producing Womanhood in America" by Julia Barry (; a $100 coupon for SkinKlinic; a V2 in-store music sampler (; plenty o' pro-choice temporary tattoos, stickers and flyers; flyers for more bands; a 10% coupon for; info on TigerEye Design (; postcards for; the annual report for Women+Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania (who effectively got Abercrombie + Fitch to stop sexist ads/clothing); a postcard for "First Moon" books and journals (; a copy of Bitch magazine ( and, of course, a copy of Ms. Magazine (

Well, whether your angry, hot, a feminist or not, you can't deny the power that certain women in this world have. Amen to that!