JAWS Diary: Janis's General Comments

by Janis Cortese

Well, for starters, we were all fairly impressed at having been invited. Hell, we never even considered ourselves journalists until they asked us to come. :-) And I'll tell you, it was intimidating to get there and find out that women such as Pat Harrison, the co-chair for the Republican National Committee, Anita Borg, founder of the Institute for Women and Technology, and Marie Wilson, president of the Ms. Foundation and the White House Project, were also there. Talk about luminaries!

Cindy and I got there on Friday afternoon and stowed our suitcases at their bell desk (we weren't staying at Sundance but at another resort nearby and the airport van had dropped us off at Sundance nonetheless), and then went upstairs to register for the conference. Once there, Sidra found us and we had the happy reunion. :-) Sid had driven up there herself and made a vacation/road trip out of the whole thing. Doubtless when she gets back, she'll have lots to add.

We then went and ate a nice lunch (served by a very sweet-looking young waiter; I swear to you everyone working at that resort must have some sort of requirements put on them to be young, fit, and attractive), and returned to the registration area only to find Kim just about to sign in.

So. We were all there, and ready to take on JAWS!

We began the schmoozing process and met and chatted with all manner of wonderful journalists and professionals, all of whom seemed utterly delighted to see us. Third wave feminism and the world wide web both seem to be very hot topics, and given that we are at the intersection of both, we were apparently wildly popular and were happy to chat with everyone and let them know that Sid would be speaking at the panel on Saturday for third wave feminism, more on which later.

That night, we had a wonderful dinner put on by JAWS that consisted of barbecued chicken and vegetables and lots of other yummy stuff (take my word for it, they fed us very well), and I was happy to see key lime pie for dessert! Afterwards, we were all invited to stand up and introduce ourselves and say a tad bit about who we were and why we were there; everyone in the entire room did this, taking fifteen seconds per person. It's surprising what you can say in fifteen seconds, BTW! It was delightful to learn about other people, and the attendees ran the gamut from freshman journalism students to Marie Wilson, president of the Ms. Foundation, with all media and ages/races/sexualities/abilities represented. (We were also absolutely delighted to discover earlier on that we were sitting at the table with Anita Borg. We tried not to gush. :-))

The panels began Saturday, with the third wave panel starting at 9:30 or so; it was extremely well-attended. More on this in the panel section, but for now, suffice to say that Sidra spoke extremely well and put forth the ideals of third wave feminism wonderfully, along with all of the other panel members.

Other panels and speakers addressed the ideas and mechanics behind a woman running for public office, specifically the presidency, women and technology (a talk given by Anita Borg), various breakout sessions about all manner of things, four wonderful films and a preview for a fifth that I can't wait to see, and even more wonderful food.

Overall, my strongest impression of the conference was the happiness at seeing that the gulf between the second and third waves of feminism isn't actually the "gulf" that most people, including me, might have thought. "I'm not a feminist, but" doesn't seem to stress out the second wavers nearly as much as I would have thought it would. "Hey, I just don't care what you call yourself, it's what you do that matters!" seemed to be the order of the day. The panels were all insightful, the women all intelligent and perspicacious, and the films all thoughtful and well done.

Next year, the JAWS conference is going to be held in Seattle, and we are already planning on going!

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Copyright Janis Cortese 1999.