Rikki writes.

Marketing, business, media, and their intersections


Pop Culture


If your feed is like mine, you’ve spent the last few days scrolling through powerful images of men and women standing up for equality and human rights. Every witty sign and every story about a woman taking her first step into activism has warmed my heart. And then I see images like this one. And I remember that there are still far too many people who embrace archaic, ridiculous, asinine conceptions of women and gender and who allow those ideas to inform every personal and professional decision they make. They won’t be silent, so neither can we. We will always be funnier. Smarter. Louder. #whywemarch#whywewillkeepmarching

Remembering Robbin Thompson

robbin_thompson_band_the_national-0022Dear Music Lovers of the World,

As we gear up for the 2016 Grammy’s, I have a small request. Take a moment to remember an amazing musician who, like 99% of the world’s most talented musicians, never made it to the Grammy stage but nevertheless made a global impact.

Continue reading “Remembering Robbin Thompson”

4 Ways Even the Busiest People Can Be More Mindful

It was Thursday evening at 6:30, the second hour of the period of time that many working parents begrudgingly refer to as “the grind:” the three or four chaotic hours between our arrival home from work and bedtime, in which we must make dinner, eat dinner, and relish our limited time with our children before bathing them, wrangling them into their pajamas, reading umpteen bedtime stories, putting them to bed, and preparing for tomorrow morning.
Continue reading “4 Ways Even the Busiest People Can Be More Mindful”

Happy Galentine’s Day!

galentines day 3

Galentine’s Day is a holiday made-up by fictional character Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler’s character in Parks and Recreation) that I celebrate in real life.

In the first season of Parks and Recreation, Leslie announces that she celebrates the women in her life on the day before Valentine’s Day every year. Since then, many women have followed suit, and now more than ever we need a nationally-recognized day to celebrate the amazing things that women are accomplishing.

So in the spirit of Galentine’s Day, I’d like to recognize (and recommend) a number of fellow female writers who are close to my heart. Read them. Love them. Celebrate them. Share them on Twitter.
Continue reading “Happy Galentine’s Day!”

Hey, Professional Women, Replace Your New Years’ Resolutions with These

new-year-586148_640We’re nearing the end of January, the time when most people stop pretending that they’ll actually stick to their New Year’s Resolutions. What was on your list this year? If you’re like most women (this one included), your list includes some variation of these every year: eat more salad and less carbs, organize more and buy less, exercise more and watch less TV.

But these aren’t really resolutions–they’re just things we need to be working on all the time. They’re a given. This year, instead of abandoning the same tired goals, resolve to make meaningful changes in your professional life. Start with these:
Continue reading “Hey, Professional Women, Replace Your New Years’ Resolutions with These”

Why I’m Not Boycotting the NFL

Super_Bowl_XLIII_-_Thunderbirds_Flyover_-_Feb_1_2009I’m a feminist, marketer, mother, and sports fan. I’m fascinated by the role athletics play in our culture, and, like many of my fellow football fans, I’m appalled by the NFL’s handling of Ray Rice and their documented leniency in cases of domestic violence and sexual assault.

But I’m not going to boycott the NFL. Despite the calls to do so by a number of feminists who I love and respect, I won’t stop watching games, and I’ll continue to allow advertisers to pay millions of dollars for access to my live-viewing eyeballs every Thursday, Sunday and Monday.

First, I think it’s worth reiterating that most NFL players have not been convicted of assault or domestic abuse and that the arrest rate for NFL players is generally on the decline (and less than the arrest rate of the general male population).

While I wish it didn’t take a viral video of an NFL player punching his fiance to do so, the national conversation sparked by Ray Rice’s — and other players’ — violent behavior is forcing our culture, from everyday spectators to CEOs of national brands to the ownership of billion-dollar NFL franchises — to think about how our society frames/portrays/accepts/ignores violence against women. Major companies like P&G and Pepsi are making public (albeit vague) statements about their condemnation of domestic violence, and the social media outcry against the Ravens and Vikings’ initial responses speaks for itself.

Is it problematic that one of our country’s most beloved sports excludes female athletes and includes violent offenders? Absolutely. But we need to figure out — as a culture — how we can celebrate athleticism, competitive drive, and physical prowess for both men and women while we continue to promote the acceptance of gender equality and condemnation of violence of all kinds. And football, as a highly visible, culturally relevant platform, is a great place to start.

American football is a performance of hyper-masculinity, and if it’s going to serve as a stage for us to have these important conversations, if it’s going to force the media, business owners, and government leaders to talk about violence against women and demand change, then I am certainly not leaving the theater.

In fact, women’s continued viewership is part of what’s forcing the league, the coaches, and the franchise owners to stop ignoring the problem. The NFL promises to deliver female fans, a valuable demographic, to their sponsors. Without us, their ad space loses value, and they lose money. Likewise, the sponsors don’t want backlash from women for tacitly supporting the NFL’s backward policies. They know that women are watching. And while women aren’t playing on the field, they’re covering the sport, sitting in the stands, and watching at home.

Football is a part of American culture, and its players’ horrible behavior (and the league’s equally horrible responses) have initiated conversations about how our society downplays violence against women and celebrates an outdated, hyper-masculine ideal. Young girls and boys are seeing their NFL idols kicked off their teams. Parents are talking to their kids about domestic violence and what being an equal partner and a loving parent really means. We’re re-thinking what it means to be a male athlete and a public figure. The NFL (and other leagues) are implementing new standards of acceptable behavior for adult men who agree to become cultural icons.

The latest bout of NFL scandals is making Americans have these conversations at tailgates, water coolers, and dinner tables everywhere. I’m thrilled that my son will grow up with an NFL that vigilantly removes violent men because they’re watched like a hawk by the media.

Female fans must continue to put pressure on the league and on the sponsors if we want to see this change continue. I plan on watching the games closely, and watching the NFL closer.

How Feminist Mothers Can Raise Feminist Sons

Elliot Rodger’s shooting spree in Isla Vista sparked a national conversation about the pervasiveness of misogyny in American culture via the #YesAllWomen hashtag. And although it’s clear that Rodger suffered from mental illnesses and was facilitated by easy access to guns, the guiding principles of his “manifesto” and the worldview that led him to target and kill young women are terrifyingly mainstream.

Sasha Weiss said it best in the New Yorker: The #YesAllWomen conversation demonstrates that “Rodger’s hate of women grew out of attitudes that are all around us. Perhaps more subtly, it suggests that he was influenced by a predominant cultural ethos that rewards sexual aggression, power, and wealth, and that reinforces traditional alpha masculinity and submissive femininity.”

Like many of the other women and men expressing their outrage through #YesAllWomen, I’ve been ruminating on the persistent belief that sexual aggression is a natural male condition for a long time. During my research for my graduate dissertation, which focused on sex ed in schools, I was flabbergasted at how often the question, “How do I say ‘no’ without hurting his feelings?” appeared in sex ed books and teen magazines alike. In college, I was perplexed at the number of programs designed to teach women how to defend themselves, walk in groups, and avoid date rape, and the lack of programs designed to teach young men to simply not sexually assault people. And as my career has developed, I continue to see how men who demonstrate aggression and volatility in the workplace are called passionate leaders, while women who do the same are called hysterical control-freaks.

But as I read through the insightful #YesAllWomen tweets, I thought not about my own past experiences with sexism, but about my son’s future. I blinked and he was 18 months —I’ll blink again and he’ll be 18. As a feminist and as a mother, how will I raise my son to embrace equality and to rebuff a hyper-masculine culture that celebrates violence and shrugs off misogyny?

So I turned to the experts—hitting the books and soliciting more experienced parents for their advice. Specifically, I wanted to know how parents can set the stage when their sons are very young—establishing a healthy foundation for an open mind that thinks critically about the stereotypes around him. He’s what I learned.

Keep reading.

Follow Up: Chivalry and Ambivalent Sexism

Earlier this week I wrote a column for The Muse about ambivalent sexism, or sexism that comes across as complimentary but originates in stereotypical beliefs about gender and ultimately has the same effects as hostile, or outright, sexism.

During my research for the piece and after its publication, I received some (anticipated) push back from readers of both sexes about how some of the examples I cite aren’t “really” sexist.

For instance, a few friends told me that when a man “apologizes” to the women in the room before or after using profanity, it’s not sexist. He’s simply acknowledging that there are ladies in the room.

Another reader, while agreeing with the article’s conclusions, noted, “This reminds me why chivalry is dead.”

Chivalry is a word that comes up a lot when we start talking about ambivalent sexism. It’s common to hear, Let’s just live in a world where no one can pay a woman a compliment or open her car door or help her carry her luggage without being called a sexist! 

Let me be clear about think chivalry is dying, and I don’t think we should be sad to see it go. If I have to put up with wage gaps, double standards, street harassment, unattainable expectations of beauty, and all the other lovelies that spring forth from a society that tolerates sexism, in exchange for someone occasionally offering me a seat on the metro because I’m a woman, well, then I’ll stay standing for thirty minutes. Thanks.

Why are we trying to preserve chivalry when we should be aiming for a culture of kindness and acceptance, one in which we are polite to each other regardless of gender, appearance, social status, or sexual orientation? Instead of upholding chivalry — a tradition that stems from the view that women are in need of protection — we should focus on creating a culture that expects us to respect each other and allows us to express genuine emotion without fear of being punished for transcending gender norms. This type of culture of universal respect should be the ideal we’re working toward, not an outdated vision of white knights and damsels in distress.

5 (Almost) Free Gifts for your Family

‘Tis the season to give and receive crap you don’t need. Break the junk cycle by giving an affordable, thoughtful gift that your family might actually like.  Check out this piece I wrote for The Daily Muse last year about thoughtful, cheap gifts — an oldie but a goodie!

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