#heforshe · administration · equity · ideas for change · modest proposal · role models

What can I ask for? A modest proposal

Academic women are often confounded when presented with the opportunity, obligation, or occasion to ask someone for something: money, teaching release, academic accommodation, etc. This confounding almost invariably results in women structurally under-asking and under-receiving, relative to male peers. And I know how to fix it.

What am I talking about?

Let’s say you are applying for a grant that requires matching funds. (Matching funds: some combination of you, your institution, partners or sponsor kicks in some money, and the granting agency matches it.) Let’s say you are asking your research office or some other funds-holding body on campus for these funds. My dearest spouse has been the receiver of such requests, for a variety of programs, for the last ten years, from hundreds of researchers. Here are the two far ends of the spectrum of requests, composites and only slightly exaggerated.

Professor A: “I need the research office to give me $50,000 in matching funds for this big important grant because I am big and important and if I get this grant the university will look bigger and more important.”

My spouse: “Well, no. We don’t even have $50,000 in that entire fund, and we must serve multiple researcher requests.”

Professor A, ten seconds later: “How much is in the fund?”

My spouse: “$10,000.”

Professor A, five seconds later: “That’s not very much! I need that $10,000 and who can I write to to ask for more? Is it the VP Research? What’s his email address?”

Professor B: “I’m so sorry, but I think I have to ask you for some matching funds for my grant? It’s a funder requirement. Otherwise I wouldn’t ask.”

My spouse: “Of course! How much do you want?”

Professor B, after delay of three days: “I don’t know, is maybe $1000 too much?”

My spouse: “Don’t you need more than that? How much do you need?”

Professor B, after a further delay of three days: “I don’t want to be a bother! I’m so sorry I’m doing this wrong! What can I ask for? Maybe I shouldn’t submit this grant, I obviously don’t know what I’m doing.”


Guess who gets the most money here? These are composite cases, but the gist of it is incredibly common. Professor A asks for the moon, and when shut down proceeds in a completely unembarrassed way to find out what the maximum is, and then to ask for that. Professor B is cringingly embarrassed to have to ask for anything, tries to ask for the absolute minimum, and upon receiving a followup suggesting the ask be altered, assumes they themselves are incompetent and withdraws from competition.

I leave you to guess the gender distribution into A and B categories.

I leave you to guess who wins the most grants, get the most matching funds, gets better funding, thus puts themselves in line for accolades and further prestige. Guess.

Me, there are a bunch of opportunities I don’t pursue because I would have to ask for resources. My first year as grad chair, I missed out on some recruitment funds because I wasn’t sure if I was entitled to ask, if my asks were reasonable, who I was being compared against, what the priorities were, and how much money I could ask for and for what. There was a “cookie jar” of unallocated funds. All the grad chairs could ask for funds from it, as needed. Well, shit, I don’t perform well under those conditions. No rules, no criteria, no guidelines on what and how much and how often and when. I’m getting nervous just thinking about it. I also hate it when people ask me my fee for talks: shit, I don’t know. How much are you paying the other speakers? What’s your budget? What would be reasonable? Just the other week I was on the verge of a clinical breakdown and my plan was to complain on the internet instead of asking for help that would cost someone money–like a good girl I waited for it to be offered to me. I know people, by contrast, who legit fight to get their teaching all arranged on ONE day of the week so they never have to be on campus.

People who aggressively ask, get more stuff. Aptitude for such aggression is often gendered. Institutional acceptance of aggression is often also gendered: you know, “God, she’s so pushy and demanding, who does she think she is?” versus “He really has no tact, but what a genius!”

A modest proposal 

In the spirit of He for She, I’m going to ask the mostly dudes who are in charge around here to do something pretty simple to make the soft-money and informal-arrangements a little fairer to the shy people as well as the bold. The team players as well as the out-for-themselfers.

Lay. Out. Some. Fucking. Parameters. Make them clear, specific, visible, and enforced.

For matching funds, why not have a page describing the process, something like this:

For X Award, researchers must secure matching funds from private and public sector partners, and from their institutions. Normally, the Office of Research can offer between $2500 and $7500 in matching funds in support of applications to this program. We are happy to work with you to determine your needs and to help you fulfill them. In some cases, extra funds may be deemed necessary, and such requests will be considered by the Important People Committee. 

Me, if I knew the parameters of the possible, I would feel WAY more comfortable making an ask. If I knew that the whole thing is negotiable and contingent, I would feel WAY more comfortable with a fuzzy rather than perfect ask.

I think the Powers that Be also need to note that many women are going to be more Professor B than Professor A. And even with clear parameters, are probably going to ask for less. I know it is tempting to let the shy and accommodating people just take less money, so you can get the aggressive and self-aggrandizing Professor B some more money so that he will leave you alone. But maybe that’s not, actually, fair. Maybe that’s not, actually, about whose proposal or whose research is actually better or more worthy, but about who is the squeaky wheel, and who is not. It’s resource allocation based on noise, not quality, frankly.

We can figure out new ways to be transparent about teaching allocation, and informal accommodations, and all the other “soft” requests that we always resist formalizing because of a desire to maintain “wiggle room.” I suggest to you, though, that some people are wiggling a lot harder than others, and tend to jostle the rest of us right off the bench and onto the floor. Wiggle room is often an excuse for the arbitrary distribution of resources, even if we like to frame it as room for empathetic discretion.

A modest suggestion

Many Hook and Eye readers, I am sure, identify way more with Professor B than Professor A. And that’s fine. So do I. But it’s worth learning a little bit about how the other side lives. I have learned, for example, that it’s not necessary to be embarrassed by asking for too much or not enough. Someone will tell you “no,” but it’s not “NO BECAUSE YOU ARE A FLAMING IDIOT OMIGOD I CAN’T BELIEVE WE HIRED YOU.” It’s more, “no, can’t do it — reframe the request and I’ll consider it again.” Or sometimes it’s just, “no, sorry, ran out of money, oh well.” Seriously. I just learned that, like, this year.

It’s admirable to want to be a good team player. But not to the point of total effacement of your own needs and desires. I deal with enough Professor A types to never want to be that person. But I have been Professor B enough times to know that I’m never going to reach my potential that way either.

So if you are a B type, see if you can push yourself a tiny little bit out of your comfort zone. Maybe you have book deadline in a teaching term — maybe ask if you can do some repeat courses instead of new preps in that one term. Maybe you have taken on a big admin role — maybe you can ask to have your courses compressed into fewer days to buy yourself some breathing space. Maybe your one course consistently overenrolls way higher than other similar courses — maybe you can ask for TA or grader support. Just ask; maybe it will be no, and that’s ok. But maybe it will be yes.

family · grad school · PhD · research · role models · women · writing

Reading (Through) the Mothers

I do most of my writing in a room in my house we call the library, a room that used to hold something like five thousand books–on shelves, in piles on the floor, tucked under the yellow Danish chair that never got used. Very many of those books were written by, or about, the women I consider my literary mothers, poets and novelists and theorists. They were all bought, or written by, or gifted to one of my actual mothers, my husband’s mother, who was the Canadian academic-translator-editor Barbara Godard. Very many of those books were gifted a few years ago to the university to which we both belonged, but many others still line the walls as I write, or come down to share something with me when I need to hear a critical voice that’s not my own.

I’m currently reading and writing my way through the grouping of poems that Jay Macpherson wrote to submit to the E.J. Pratt Poetry Prize when she was in her Master’s degree, poems that she would turn into O Earth Return: A Speculum for Fallen Women, and then into her Governor General’s Award-winning collection The Boatman. Macpherson had been spending a lot of time in rooms very different from my library full of women–in Robert Graves’s studio, where women and women writers were relegated to the position of Muse, and in Northrop Frye’s office, where his library shelves were stocked with very male canon-fodder–and she began to wonder where in those rooms she fit, where she might find the missing mothers she needed as a young woman writer. So she went out to find them, which she did, as I do, through reading and writing them. She found one in Eve, “the mother of all living” (“Eve in Reflection”), and another in the Queen of Sheba. She found others in the myths of Sibylla, Eurynome, Andromeda. But what she also found was that her mothers were in a double bind. In the literature and myth she so loved, women were the object, always subsumed under the male gaze and secondary to the plot of the male story. They only became women in and of themselves after they had fallen, after they had transgressed and been cast off. Then, and only then, in developing a self-consciousness that set them apart from their male creators–as Eve with her apple did from God and Adam–did they have an identity of their own.

So, Macpherson let them fall. And found her mothers, who had been hidden in the canonical texts she loved all along. She also found herself as a writer, not as Graves’s Muse, or as Frye’s disciple, or as a writer bound by the strictures of the canon, but as someone who could freely play with the stories she loved, turning them inside out and upside down in order to see how they fit together, to see how she fit into them, and they into her, however uncomfortably: You fit into me/like a hook into an eye//a fish hook/an open eye. Her poems are full of mirrors and reflections, women drowned and women watching images of themselves wavering on the water. As Barbara wrote in an essay about one of Macpherson’s best friends and poetic daughters, Margaret Atwood, “in paradises of art, grounded in but limited by the issue of gender, we write/weave our mirror doubles, men or women as the case may be, into eternity.” In her early poems, Macpherson wrote to weave her mirror doubles–her fallen women, her personal goddesses–into eternity. Macpherson is one of my fallen women–fallen out of the canon, fallen from critical favour–and now I write to weave her back into the story of the creation of that thing we call Canadian literature. I write to give her a story of her own that isn’t a subplot in a narrative about the canonical men–Frye, Graves, George Johnston, Hans Jonas–who have been credited with shaping hers.

As I sit on my sofa reading words that “the mom,” as my husband Alexis calls her, wrote back in 1987, my reading is mirrored, doubled. I sit reading an article Barbara wrote in the space where the words I read were written. I am reading Macpherson through Atwood through Godard. I am sitting on the sofa with the man who was, in my imagination of one of those days in 1987, downstairs making himself an after-school snack while his mother sat upstairs writing the words I am reading, a hungry twelve year old who now often reminds me to eat because he knows hangry when he sees it. I am finishing a dissertation on Canadian literature in a house that used to be home to one of the people who made doing that possible, who forced English departments like the one we both called home to teach the literature of our country, to recognize it as a legitimate subject of inquiry, to put writers like Macpherson on the syllabus and the comprehensive exams. I think about what it must have been like to do this work–the writing, the reading, the advocacy–as a mostly single parent with a growing son, what sacrifices that must have required of both of them, what sacrifices I don’t have to make because Alexis is grown and because we don’t have children of our own and because Barbara and my other mothers made them before me. And I recognize that because of Barbara and Jay, the mothers who came before me, I don’t have to go looking for my academic and writerly mothers–they’re here, in the room, on the shelves, and with me as I write.

Photo credit: James Gillespie. 

balance · role models

Down time

Here’s what I did over the break:

  • nothing.
It was the best Christmas ever, frankly. Just me and my husband and my daughter, literally competing to see who could stay in pajamas the longest. No travel. No parties. No plans. Once, I took my daughter skating. Once, we made brunch for my sister and her family, and walked the dog together. For two weeks. Munchkin was out of school for two full weeks, and the University of Waterloo shuts down–lights off, heat off, buildings locked–for a little over a week, and then we booked vacation time around that. No work email. No writing catchup. No winter course prep. N – o – t – h – i – n – g.
One day, I had to go out to teach a yoga class, and I did my hair and stuff. Husband said, “Oh, um, are you wearing more makeup than usual? Is that, err, blush or something?” and after we had a look in the mirror it turned out that he’d got used to my face with NO makeup on it. N – o – t – h – i – n – g.
Monday morning, I opened my office door and it was like I’d never been there. The sun looked beautiful through the window. My pile of books looked appealing. I was ready.
There was time to make supper, to eat when we were hungry and not in the 20 minutes between rushing here and rushing there. There was time to go for runs–three a week! We read books and snuggled. My face unclenched. I napped nearly every day. I let myself laugh and cry and be tired and be silly and stay up late and talk on the phone and read books and watch TV and just let my own body and soul’s needs dictate what came next.
I’m ready to be back at work now. I felt satisfied the minute I sat down at my desk again, as though pulling up my chair to the table at a nice restaurant, anticipating what would be laid before me, ready to tuck in.
It’s a great feeling. We should all have this.
And I feel like it needs saying as well that I did not arrive to work on Monday to 400 emails and missed deadlines and hair-on-fire accumulated crises. I just didn’t. I had set a vacation message on my grad email, I had got all my grading done beforehand. If I had been hauling ass all through the break, I wouldn’t, really, have been any further ahead on anything urgent, and I would have been significantly behind on sense of peace and rest and connection with my family.
The world doesn’t end when I take a break, and in some pretty important ways, it renews itself. 

I’m tempted to write the legitimate disclaimer here that of course it is truly a privilege to have access to paid vacation and steady employment and at one job so we’re not juggling everything all the time. And that’s true. But the amount of sleeping we all did over the break–the eight year old included!–and the total resistance to formal plans we all had seems to indicate something necessary and primal. Down time. Rest, I think, is a privilege in the way that indoor plumbing is a privilege: not everyone has it but everyone absolutely should, and it’s a goal we should work for, collectively. What I can do with my privilege right now is to make sure my piles of shit don’t roll downhill: I won’t email my coordinator at night or on the weekends or over the break. I won’t give grad students last minute deadlines. I will give my colleagues plenty of notice on things we need to work on together. I will model moderation in my work.
copper-bottomed bitch · faster feminism · feminist win · righteous feminist anger · role models

Which is worse: overt or subtle sexism?

Reader, be forewarned: I am in fighting mood today.

What has occasioned this fundmental change from last week’s fatigue to today’s bellicosity? Well, some things that have made me angry, and others that have buoyed me to fight back. First, I received some disappointing professional news. Nothing new there, at first sight, as I’ve been receiving all kinds of disappointments on the job market. What was special about this specific piece was the obvious gendering of the two responses it comprised. One was generous, engaged, and constructive; the other one was resistant, belligerent, and angered. I do not mean to be reductionist, but trust me when I say it was obvious. They have made me reconsider my place within academia: is it worth pushing that rock uphill during application season, only to have it tumble down again and again? And how many times can I bear to listen to the adage “it’s not you, it’s the job market?”

What these responses have also made me rethink was all the other interactions I’ve had throughout my academic career from the point of view of sexism. You know, all the small delays, all the excuses, all the talking over and the talking down to; in other words, all the subtle sexism that the humanities are rife with, for all their declarative adoption of feminism. In my previous career, at least, sexism was out in the open. And so were my weapons. I’ve had to withstand and fight sexual harassment, but I was in full Buffy mode. But how do you fight the very subtle, insidious sexism of academia?

Needless to say, I was feeling hopeless and ready to say goodbye to my beloved academia. Because for all the statements about “women and minorities are encouraged to apply,” when it comes down to choosing between a male candidate and a female one with kids, the actual choice might not really live up to the declared ideals, in spite of everyone’s best intentions. S-u-b-t-l-e. Unexamined. Buried.  Engrained. Sexism.

But then, this video, which I’m sure you’ve seen by now, started making the internet rounds:
Now, I know Julia Gillard has a vexed relationship with feminism. But it’s this video that’s put me in fighting mood. Because when women’s rights are openly trampled on everywhere, who even cares about subtle sexism, right? So, here’s a powerful woman calling a sexist’s bullshit in the Australian Parliament, and making the internet rounds faster than a new bug in a daycare full of babies. I think we need a model or two like that, coming up in the open and leaving their gloves somewhere else, because I’m tired of being nice to people smart enough to cover their sexism and bury it deep enough for a full forensic team to overlook.

The other thing that’s put me in assertive mode is this wonderful conference I’m going to: Women’s Writing in Canada and Québec Today. I’m going to spend the weekend engaging with some incredibly intelligent people talking about contemporary literature written by women. I’m also going to hang out with Erin! I’m going to talk about Margaret Atwood. Can you think of a better way to fight subtle or overt sexism? [And now I’m off to… ahem… revise my paper.]

advice · community · DIY · faster feminism · ideas for change · making friends · new year new plan · role models

Guest Post: How to start a professional development group for academic women

A very useful and inspiring guest post, from Bonnie Kaserman, on 10 Things to Consider when starting a professional development group for academic women. Who doesn’t love a neatly organized list at the beginning of term? Particularly one that helps us support one another more effectively?

(Also, I love the reminder that food motivates people. Oh, yes, it’s true! I’ll bring the bean dip!)


Have you been thinking about starting up a group to support the academic women on your campus?

Yes, you’ll be busy as the school year starts in earnest. Overwhelmed. But, at least in my experience, having a community to meet and talk about gender in the academy can be one of the most invigorating and sustaining aspects of academic life. Since the late 1990s, I’ve been involved in groups that support women in my discipline of Geography. (For example, see C-SWIG). Our monthly meetings are part-professional development and part emotional support. Here are a few tidbits that I’ve gleaned along the way to get a group going and keep it going:

  1. Start your group at the beginning of fall term. You think, “We’ll start something after the rush at the beginning of term.” But the truth is, life only gets more hectic. Get the ball rolling early and establish the group as part of everyone’s regular schedule.
  2. Decide on membership. Who will be in this group? Undergrads, graduate students, post-docs, faculty? Is your group exclusive to women? It’s important to have space exclusively for those who self-identify as women, but you must weigh the political ramifications of doing so. Also, with people coming and going from institutions, consider how the group’s membership will be sustained from year to year.
  3. Consider affiliating your group with your university. Funding may be sparse these days, but if your group can be considered an official student group, you may be able to apply for university funding. Use those dollars to fund guest speakers or to help fund members’ travel for conferences.
  4. Share the responsibilities. Women are often assigned time-sucking social responsibilities in their departments and at their institutions. Make an agreement about how responsibilities (facilitating a meeting, choosing readings, organizing an event, etc.) will be shared amongst group members.
  5. Establish a website and a listserv. Agree upon a mission statement and sets of goals. Also, when is your next meeting? What is the topic? What resources do you want to share? The website will serve as the group’s public face as well as the group’s archive of meetings and activities.
  6. Meet regularly and vary when you meet. Meeting once a month has worked well for our group, and, in order to accommodate so many schedules, we vary the weeknight when we meet. Keep meetings from being a burden by having a set meeting-end time. Be diligent and unapologetic about ending the meeting. Also, have each member bring a snack to share. Food = attendance.
  7. Have focused meeting topics and consider assigned readings. Have one topic per meeting and pair it with a short reading or two (as in: you can read them on the bus on the way to the meeting). Readings help to ground the group in that discussion and help to connect personal experiences to larger sets of practices. Read about academic mentoring, gender & race in academe, work-life, and classroom dynamics. Keep in mind that once the group gets going that returning members need new dialogue. Readings along with different topics help with keeping ideas and strategies fresh.
  8. Teach members about creating online presence and emerging online technologies. Remember: who learns new online technologies is uneven. Teach each other and seek out university resource staff who may be willing to guide your group in these endeavors. Also, share knowledge about appropriate software, such as Omeka and Zotero.
  9. Discuss confidentiality. Depending on the kinds of discussion your group is having, you may want to open your meetings with a reminder about building trust. “Safe” spaces and supportive environments are different.
  10. Activist activities. My group has primarily focused on small interventions in our everyday lives as academics. Small interventions can make a huge impact. At the same time, what about working together to influence a change in policy at the departmental or university level? Or making a change at the disciplinary level by connecting with other like-minded groups within your discipline’s national or international organization. Having formal impact can help to sustain a group.

Bonnie Kaserman

academic reorganization · reflection · role models · slow academy

Anxious August: What is worrying students?

It is mid-August. Never mind that summer seems to have arrived in Halifax (ie. we have had three days of sun in a row), I’ve got my head firmly–if reluctantly– turned towards September. As Heather wrote in our inaugural post, September is something of a fetish for us here at Hook and Eye. Sure, the work shifts into crazy-busy gear, but you must admit there is something thrilling that comes with those first early weeks of fall. Is it hope? (This year I’ll finish my book! This year there will be more jobs to apply for!) Is it possibility? (What will my students be like? Will they be excited? Recalcitrant?) Is it blind optimism? (See parenthetical statement number one) For me, that je ne sais quoi of September in the Academy it is always twinged with anxiety, but I find myself wondering: what are the students feeling?

When I first arrived on a university campus it was 1997 and I was in America. I had done my high school degree in a small town in North Carolina where my parents and I had moved five years previous. I was paying in-state tuition, which at the time was roughly $4,500 (plus books, room and board, and miscellaneous expenses). The price has gone up.

Sure, I’d been saving money in my bank account since I was a wee lass. Indeed, I have a very fond memory of my dad taking me to the bank to deposit the innards of my piggy bank (mostly pennies and nickles) which I had dutifully rolled into those paper tubes. I worked every summer, I worked throughout university, and I was very lucky in that my parents were able–and willing–to help me. Nonetheless, money was–and is–a huge source of stress.

My major, however, wasn’t. I was optimistic about my major (English), excited about my minor (Creative Writing) and absolutely certain that I would get a job when I graduated. My certitude didn’t come from a sense of entitlement so much as what my cousin and I refer to as our Protestant work ethic. Hard work wins out, at least that’s what I’d been taught.

But as I sit here watching the slow trickle of students return to the city I wonder: what are they anxious about? How have their anxieties remained the same as mine, and how have they become profoundly different? Do they feel disenfranchised? Do they worry that the world has no place for them in it when they finish their degree (that is, if they can even afford to begin)? Are they as apathetic as some media outlets would have us believe?

I know some answers to some of these questions because I have the very good fortune of knowing some of my students quite well. I want to get to know them better. I am trying to make space in my classroom and on my syllabus for the discussion of their issues through the literature we read together. I wonder how else I might productively address their anxieties…without taking on or creating more of my own?


*An especial thanks to TMacD, RM, and my other Internet pals for this post.

copper-bottomed bitch · popular culture · role models

Women in the Other Academy

First, an apology to Erin’s fans, since it’s Monday and this is Heather writing. We switched days so that I could rant rave write about women in that other academy, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, aka the Oscars.

Yeah, that’s right, there were some women this year, though you’d be forgiven for feeling skeptical. Even in the Year of the Maimed Man  – “best pictures” showed a man without an eye, a man without a hand, a man without a voice, a man with a crack addiction, and a man who’s dead for the entire movie (still feeling battered by that recession, boys?) – it was hard to find the women. But they were there, mostly standing right by their men.

So here’s a few feminist awards that didn’t get handed out last night. Oh, I should say that there are no spoilers for Rabbit Hole or Blue Valentine since I didn’t manage to see them. Everything else is liberally referenced in what follows, though. You have been warned.

The GOOD WIFE award: Amy Adams in The Fighter. No, Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech. No, America Ferrera in How to Train Your Dragon. No, maybe Mrs Potato Head – or Barbie – or Jessie (the cowgirl to Tom Hanks’s Woody – yeah, you read that right) in Toy Story 3? Wait, wait, what am I thinking: the award goes to Julianne Moore, hands down (hands down Mark Ruffalo’s pants, that is).

REAL WIFE moment: When Gary Rizzo (Inception) accepted the sound mixing award for himself, Ed Novick and Lora Hirschberg, he thanked “our wives,” and named three women. So if you were thinking Hirschberg looked a little butch for her gown….

For HEAVY-HANDED METAPHOR: the black swan. C’mon, a psychotic ballerina? That didn’t strike anybody on the writing team as redundant?

Best INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY DRAMA: Forget what you learned in Women’s Studies 101, and ditch the creative commons, too. In 2010 the movies argued that an idea is a form of personal property. Given a choice between The Social Network (you took my idea!) and Inception (you took my idea!), I’m gonna have to go with Exit Through the Gift Shop in this category.

MOST ENIGMATIC BOY NAMES: 1) Woody; 2) Dicky; 3) Rooster; 4) LaBoeuf (hint: it’s French).

EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR: the New York ballet. Dude, maybe a little less sexual harassment and a little more clozapine?

DUMBEST BLONDE:  So many contenders. Will the award go to Megan and Kristie in 127 Hours (“We can’t read our map!”)? Girl at Phoenix Club in The Social Network (“You have a big brain!”)? Nina-Pretty-Ballerina in Black Swan (“You have a big ego!”)? Careful, though. This is a trick category, ’cause none of the girls are actually blonde!

BEST ACTION: Who doesn’t like seeing Natalie Portman get off? But unless you count the birds and the bees in I Am Love, which you probably should given how …. long …. that scene was, that’s about it for sex in the big nominees this year. (Weird, given how big the familes are.) Silver lining: for the most part this year women characters were not subject to sexual violence. Even in the scenes where you thought you saw it coming – Pope and Nicky in Animal Kingdom, Rooster watching Mattie sleep in True Grit, every scene for the first 90 minutes of Winter’s Bone – the threat, so to speak, petered out.

For TRUE GRIT, a concept we feminists ought to appropriate (thanks, Mary Churchill!), Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) is the obvious choice, and I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of Alice Ward (Melissa Leo) or the Ward sisters, but I vote for Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) and all her relations, especially Connie (with or without the chainsaw). Hey, Winter’s Bone women, I got some folks you can put the hurt on.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE EVENING: I Am Love should have won for costumes. Tilda Swinton was so stunning in those sheath dresses, carrying her five-thousand-dollar handbags, that I almost didn’t want her to get undressed. Anybody know where I can pick up some paprika cigarette pants and a pale blue shirt? I feel the need for consolation.