TV: Surfing the Third Wave—Second Wave VS. Third Wave Feminism on Gossip Girl.

 

Not only was last week’s Gossip Girl one of the best episodes I’ve ever seen, with one of the most gorgeous dresses I’ve ever seen (see above), but it also addressed some feminist issues that have been rotating around the blogosphere of late: second wave versus third wave feminism and slut-shaming.

*Spoiler alert* The episode dealt with a Gossip Girl blast suggesting that Serena might have an STI, and the turmoil the rumour created amongst the group. Of course, Little Miss Juliet was the one who tipped Gossip Girl off, in the hopes of taking Serena down and getting her kicked out of Columbia. After all, the episode is titled “Goodbye, Columbia”…

Without giving too much away (What’s that you say? I already have? Whoops!), Serena comes face to face with the dean, who says of Serena’s (alleged) wayward behaviour:

“Women of my generation had to fight for every opportunity. And to be taken seriously, and your attitude, Miss van der Woodsen, makes a mockery of that.”

Now if that isn’t the second wave looking down upon the third wave for our apparent flippancy about “activism”, our “obsession with technology” (Gossip Girl’s blasts are a prime example of this), our “unwilling[ness] to challenge sexual exploitation for fear of pissing off men” (hello, Serena), and our infatuation with Lady Gaga (well, Gossip Girl did feature the Lady herself in an episode…), I don’t know what is.

Susan Faludi recently wrote about this phenomenon in “American Electra: Feminism’s Ritual Matricide”, Amanda Marcotte responded to the article on Pandagon (from which the above quotes were taken), and I featured a link to the latter in last week’s “On the (Rest of the) Net”.

In the article, Faludi asserts that

“despite its [feminism’s] many victories, it seems to falter along a ‘motherdaughter’ divide. A generational breakdown underlies so many of the pathologies that have long disturbed American [or, rather, Western] feminism… its bitter divisions over sex… [and] alongside the battle of the sexes rages the battle of the ages.”

Faludi feels that second wavers ask questions and make comments such as “Why does it feel like we’re sliding backwards?”, “Young women are narcissists who don’t care about politics”, and “We’re really furious with these young women, aren’t we?”

Indeed, this seems to be the attitude of Dean Reuther towards Serena who, granted, isn’t the best feminist role model, but perhaps doesn’t deserve to have such comments hurled at her. Vanessa Abrams is probably the most feminist-y of all the characters on Gossip Girl, and I could almost take her seriously, if she wasn’t so damn annoying. Even Blair could be seen as a third-waver; she refuses to be held down by Chuck, rolls with the boys, strives for academic excellence by conniving her way into becoming Miss Chamberlain’s student assistant, and dumped Chuck for using her sexuality as a bargaining chip. Plus, she’s feisty and rocks a headband.

Of course, I’m not sure Gossip Girl consciously chose to comment on the debate, and no doubt this will be the last we hear of it, but it would be interesting to see Serena fight back and declare herself “sick to death of hearing about the glory days of Seventies feminism”, whilst older women, like Dean Reuther, “decalring themselves sick to death of being swept into the dustbin of history.” However, being the dean at an Ivy League university is hardly being “swept into the dustbin”.

On a final note, Faludi spends a lot of time criticising (via her second wave subjects) the technology third wavers use, specifically blogging: “All they want to do is sit at their computers and blog.” Ouch.

I’m sure Gossip Girl would have something to say about that.

Elsewhere: [Harpers] American Electra: Feminism’s Ritual Matricide.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“A Guide to Eating Food Off the Floor.”

Feminist Themes’ regular “Wait… What?” column features The View co-host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and her take on the pro-choice versus pro-life debate.

In The Atlantic’s thought provoking piece on “The End of White America?”, Hua Hsu “discuss[es] Obama, football, hip-hop, and the elusive notion of a ‘post-racial’ society.”

Pandagon responds to Susan Faludi’s piece on third-wave feminism (which I haven’t read yet, but expect it to be included in an upcoming On the [Rest of the] Net), in which “she puts out evidence that younger feminists are sometimes unfair and ungrateful to older feminists, and that older feminists are sometimes so afraid of younger women that they go out of their way to exclude them… complaining that younger women don’t care.” Furthermore:

“… she reinforces a jumble of often conflicting stereotypes on younger feminists to discredit us: that we’re obsessed with navel-gazing over activism, that our obsession with technology comes at the expense of actual work, that we don’t know our history and don’t care about systemic issues, that we’re materialist[ic] and unwilling to challenge sexual exploitation for fear of pissing off men, that we’re so busy cultivating our graduate degrees writing about Lady Gaga… that we can’t be bothered to worry about real world issues.”

I do agree with some of this summary of Faludi’s piece, but Lady Gaga’s meat dress drew attention to vegetarianism, animal welfare and gay rights. They’re, like, real world issues, aren’t they?

Liz Greene delivers some particularly poignant points on parental relationships and “the family triangle” in “The Eternal Triangle”.

Buffy is “The Third Wave’s Final Girl”.

Jezebel reasons “Why Glee Still Needs to Work on Diversity”, while Brittany and Santana are “Queer Idols”:

“It wasn’t even until halfway through Glee’s first season that the first hint of queerness was even mentioned… Maybe you’d call it bisexual, maybe you’d call it heteroflexible, maybe you’d call it bicurious: whatever they are, it’s definitely a bit queer… Brittany is, if you will, an equal opportunity slut: one who’s willing to make out with whatever hotness crosses her path, regardless of gender… And among fellow fans of the show, my designation of Brittany and Santana as queer icons has met with some derision: their relationship is played for laughs, I’ve been told. They’re just straight girls making out for male attention… [But]… with the exception of their joint date with Finn, Brittany and Santana have hardly been shown using their relationship to win over boys… For me, Brittany and Santana represent a new mode of queer figure… : fluidly sexual, comfortable with same sex contacts, and more interested in finding happiness than finding the right label. They may not fit into the rigid structures of traditional sexual identities, but they’re comfortable enough with themselves not to care.”

More Jezebel: They’ve really been getting on the “slut-shaming bandwagon”, especially with their endorsement of Easy A. Now, they give their take on the “Ancient Slut-Shaming” of Cleopatra, as well as the “sexual double standards” on Jersey Shore. About the latter, they say:

“… The slut-shaming of Angelina… revealed their thoughts on sexual double standards. (The ‘thoughts’ being that sexual double standards exist, and that’s just the way it is.)… Pauly said about Angelina: ‘She brought all these random people home. She’s a girl. You don’t do that. That’s a guy thing. Guy’s do that, no girls.’… Shouldn’t Pauly and The Situation be grateful for sluts? If there were no sluts then they would never be able to have sex. Do they think for one minute that they would even want to live in a world in which all girls acted the way they’re ‘supposed’ to?”

“Who Stole Feminism?”, asks The Nation. Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell and all those right-wing extremists, that’s who!

“Sarah Palin opposes abortion and comprehensive sex education. While mayor of Wasilla she made sexual assault victims pay for their own rape kits. She also calls herself a feminist. Delaware GOP Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell has said that allowing women to attend military academies ‘cripples the readiness of our defence’ and that wives should ‘graciously submit’ to their husbandsbut her website touts her ‘commitment to the women’s movement. Pundits who once mocked women’s rights activists as ugly bra burners are abuzz over the ‘new conservative feminism’, and the Tea Party is lauding itself as a women’s movement.

The right once disparaged feminism as man-hating and baby-killing, but now ‘feminist’ is the must-have label for women on the right.”

“Geeks Versus Hipsters” is the equivalent of the passionate versus the apathetic, respectively, according to Gizmodo. And from the hipsters I’ve come into contact with, I’m inclined to agree.

Can Newsanchor Barbie be both hot and a feminist?

Jessica Rudd (yes, Kevin’s daughter) discusses the differences between chick-lit and (the nonexistent) dick-lit in a guest post on MamaMia.

Beneath the “campy sensationalism” of True Blood lies “the weird, seemingly reactionary politics” of “the right’s worst nightmare about post-gay-liberation America come to life.”

In Appreciation of Mick Foley.

 

For long-time readers of this blog (does six months qualify as a long-term blog-reading relationship?), you will be familiar with my fondness for professional wrestler turned author, Mick Foley.

When I first started watching World Wrestling Entertainment (then still WWF) in 2001, Foley had a sporadic recurring role, after resigning as fictional “commissioner” of the company. Little did I know just how affecting he had been to the hardcore wrestling scene.

In a nutshell, Foley started out in the independent wrestling scene, then gradually made his way through the ranks, beginning in squash matches (where a bigger star beats a newcomer or unknown in very little time and with very little effort) in WWE, then World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and finally Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), where he made a namewell, technically, three namesfor himself.

As an unorthodox professional wrestler, with an out of shape body and not a lot technical mat moves, Foley needed that extra something, which he came up with in the form of his three alter egos: Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack.

Mankind is the one many wrestling fans would be most familiar with, with Foley wearing a Hannibal Lector-esque mask and brandishing a personified sock on his hand, affectionately known as Mr. Socko, which would be used in his Mandible Claw move. Mankind teamed up with The Rock in The Rock n’ Sock Connection in the late ’90s.

Dude Love favours tie-die and espouses the 1960’s hippie frame of mind, and is probably the least well-known of the three.

Finally, Cactus Jack is quintessential “Hardcore Legend”, using thumbtacks and Barbie (a baseball bat encased in barbed wire, oftentimes set on fire), wearing leopard print leggings and a flanny, and is often invoked in matches such as Hell in a Cell and especially his Last Man Standing matches in his feud with Triple H, again in the late ’90s.

After some time in Japan, where a lot of professional wrestlers believe you need to spend time if you wish to be taken seriously as an athlete, Foley debuted in the WWE, where he had some of his most memorable matches, mentioned above.

While my forbidden love for wrestling introduced me to many sub-categories (like my favourite band, Our Lady Peace, American geography, and my obsession an subsequent research articles and blog posts on the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide), none is more dear to my heart than discovering Mick Foley as a memoirist, children’s storybook writer, and novelist.

I own all three of his memoirs, Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood & Sweatsocks, Foley is Good: And the Real World is Faker Than Wrestling, and The Hardcore Diaries, as well as his first novel, Tietam Brown (watch this space to see if I can muscle a review out of a friend who’s had my copy on loan for months), which I serendipitously found in a second-hand book store and could barely contain my excitement. Yes, I love rare and obscure authors, okay?!

Foley has recently published his fourth memoir, Countdown to Lockdown: A Hardcore Journal, which I can’t wait to get my grubby little mitts on. In addition, Foley’s much publicised computer illiteracy has been conquered, with the advent of his blog, Countdown to Lockdown, and Jezebel has cottoned on to the awesomeness that is Mick Foley”, with two feature articles on the Hardcore Legend in the past week.

Foley paved the way for wrestlers with brains to parlay into other areas they could be useful in, with Chris Jericho (memoirist, musician, actor/host, commentator) and Edge (memoirist) springing to mind. And now he is speaking out for sexual assault victims in a category that has traditionally been termed “women’s issues”.

Foley is a truly smart, talented, funny, inspiring and admirable man, and if you like what you’ve read here, I urge you to pick up one of his books (or if reading’s not your thing, YouTube a match of his; but reading probably is your thing if you’re looking at this here blog) and prepare to have your lifeor at the very least, your perception of professional wrestlingchanged.

Elsewhere: [Countdown to Lockdown] Homepage.

[Jezebel] Wrestling Star Mick Foley Blows Our Collective Mind.

[Jezebel] The Day I Beat Down Mick Foley.

[Slate] The Wrestler & the Cornflake Girl.

The Awesomeness That is James Van Der Beek.

 

As Dawson Leery on late ’90s teen angst television staple, Dawson’s Creek, James Van Der Beek was a whiny pushover who always lost the girl to the sexy and witty and aptly-named Pacey Witter. With the exception of getting drunk and singing the blues with Andy on his birthday, Dawson’s Creek perhaps would’ve been better without its titular character.

Van Der Beek hasn’t done a whole lot since Dawson’s Creek ended in 2003, but what he has done has been a far more apt use of his acting talents.

I recently watched the movie adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s Rules of Attraction, in which Van Der Beek plays Sean Bateman, American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman’s little brother. While the film, like the book, is quite left of centre and something not everyone is likely to have seen, Van Der Beek is chilling as a narcissistic, drug-taking/dealing, death-faking rich college boy, alongside Ian Somerhalder in a similarly affecting performance.

And anyone who watches Criminal Minds would be hard pressed to forget the formerly innocent Dawson as Tobias Hankel, the serial killer who was so damaged by his abusive father, that he took on said father’s demeanour in order to carry out his killings. In addition, he injected everyone’s favourite agent, Spencer Reid, with heroin, causing Reid to struggle with his newfound addiction in later episodes.

Angus, Van Der Beek’s debut film role in 1995, is a much lauded cult teen movie in which he plays the popular jock to Angus’s overweight outcast. I haven’t seen the film personally (I plan to watch it during my convalescence from wisdom teeth surgery at the end of the week), Jezebel seems to like it, and that’s good enough for me!

Van Der Beek is not unfamiliar to parodying himself, either, with cameos in Scary Movie and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back (worst movie ever, but the running Ben Affleck joke is a cracker!), and comedic turns in Ugly Betty and How I Met Your Mother.

If you’re indifferent to James Van Der Beek, like I was until I really paid attention to his acting life after Dawson’s Creek, I suggest you take a look at his post-Dawson’s résumé to truly understand the awesomeness that is Van Der Beek.

Related: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis Review.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Important Life Lessons From B-List Teen Movies of the ’90s.

Thanks For the Love, Gala Darling.

 

Rachel Hills wasn’t wrong when she said a link from Gala Darling’s self-titled blog significantly increases her page views.

I was lucky enough to be linked in Gala’s “Carousel” column (and the very first link, no less), and saw my hits over the weekend increase more than 13 times what I normally average!

It’s nice to see all my hard work somewhat paying off. Thanks again, Gala Darling!

Elsewhere: [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Why I Blog: The Pleasures & Sorrows of the Internet.

Event: Girls Night In.

Saturday night marked my first foray into hosting a charity event and, armed with “authority to fundraise”, lots of chocolate, and some choice DVDs, myself, my housemate and a bunch of girlfriends were ready to (fund)raise the roof.

I had never heard of Can’t Buy Me Love until Easy A, a retro flick starring a young (and completely different-looking) Patrick Dempsey which is heavily referenced in the modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter, along with other teen classics. But, it is worthy of its cult status, was hilariously illustrative of the times, and was the perfect movie to begin the night with.

Next up, we broke out Now & Then, which my cousin had never seen, so it was nice to pass on a coming-of-age tale that my sister and I used to watch almost every weekend during our childhood. Everyone else had seen it though, and we enjoyed quoting lines (“It’s not very big.” “It’s only big when a guy gets a hard on.” “What’s a hard on?” “Doesn’t your mother tell you anything?” “I’m beginning to think she’s been misinformed.”) and getting our nostalgia on.

By this point, one friend had to leave as the uni textbooks were beckoning, but she missed out on the apparent appeal of Patrick Verona in 10 Things I Hate About You (I never was a Heath Ledger fan). It’s been a while since I’ve seen this flick, but it was every bit as good as I remember it to be. Love the quintessential late ’90s outfits and feminist quips from Julia Styles’ Kat Stratford, and the film always makes me want to sit around the house reading like she does. Oh wait, I already do that!

After the third film, it was nearing the end of the night, but one guest a law student, no less had never seen Legally Blonde, so we had to break it out and have the event go into overtime or risk blasphemy against one of my all-time favourite characters, Elle Woods. It was during this film that we got a little stereotypical, and starting braiding each others hair!

All in all, a Girls Night In was a great excuse to eat junk food, have a movie night and raise money for the Cancer Council. And surpassing my fundraising goal was just a bonus. Will definitely be organising a Girls Night In next year, in conjunction with the “cruise director on the lido deck”.

Related: Easy A Review.

Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Once upon a time, a disillusioned Los Angeles writer bemoaned the fact that when you start getting dermal fillers and can’t speak to someone else who hasn’t, “you realise there is actually something quite wrong with L.A… And then along comes Heidi Montag and you feel normal again.”:

“The amount of women, like Heidi, I see in Los Angeles walking around like blow up dolls, victims to the horrific mental disorder of body dysmorphiais huge. Body dysmorphia is as much a disease as anorexia, as bulimia, as over-eating, as alcoholism, drug addiction. These are mental disorders which manifest themselves in physical self-harm.”

Like the compulsion to have DDD size boobs implanted on your tiny, surgically-sculpted frame that cause you constant pain and prevent restful sleep and exercise.

Girl with a Satchel asks if new British magazine “…Just as Beautiful [is] Fetishising & Sexualising Fuller Female Figures?”

From “Gender is Not Just a Performance”:

“It is a crass oversimplification, as ridiculous as saying all gender is genitals, all gender is chromosomes, or all gender is socialisation. In reality, gender is all of these things and more.”

To celebrate No Make Up Week, Rachel Hills contemplates why we feel there’s something wrong with us if we don’t go around looking flawless at all times.

Still with Rachel Hills: her “Kanye West Syndrome” article, “I’mma Let You Finish…” and “Himglish & Femalese”, about how men are women are the same, but different, are stand-outs.

The New York Times, in an article from last year, ponders the vampire’s place in fashion.

In more vampire news, Billie Doux offers up Buffy Quotes for Every Occasion”, paying special attention to librarianship, in which these gems pop up: “I love the smell of desperate librarian in the morning,” and “I mean, I can’t believe you got into Oxford… That’s where they make Gileses”.

Gender blogger Greta Christina lists the “5 Stupid, Unfair & Sexist Things Expected of Men”, in which she states that “… sexism hurts men. In particular, … our society’s expectations of men, [and] our very definitions of maleness. I’ve been looking at how rigid and narrow many of these expectations are…”, such as “being tall”! Not much a man can do about his height… much like the stupid, unfair and sexist things expected of women.

We all know how much I love professional wrestler cum author cum sexual assault crusader, and finally, Jezebel has cottoned on to the awesomeness that is Mick Foley, even going as far as to say that “we need more men like him.” Amen to that. Also, check out his blog.

There’s a lot of debate over whether a straight man and a straight woman can be “just friends” (FYI, I believe they can), and this article favours the notion that having “Platonic Female Friendships Can Make For a Better Man”.

If my love for Beauty & the Beast (the DVD is currently out of the Disney vault on re-release; I have a birthday coming up…) is anything to go by, “Brunettes Love Beauty & the Beast”. As “princess hero”-affirming as that might be, the article ends on a negative note, saying that “a brunette [is] more prone to rational expectations of life and thus… the ‘We Love Belle’ fan-club must be an awfully boring place to be… Blondes: 1 Brunettes: 0”. Ouch.

ScreenCrave on why Twilight’s Bella Swan is a Feminist’s Nightmare”.

In the spirit of such Girls Night In staples as Mean Girls and Bring It On (more on my Girls Night In to come next week), Jezebel advocates for the “5 Life Lessons Learned from The Ladies of 00s Teen Films”.

In “Print This Out & Give it to Every Boy You Know”, Jezebel debunks the myths of the feminist. For example:

“[Myth:] Feminists are angry/predominantly lesbians/man-haters/all of the above… Some women are angry, yes. Some are lesbians. And some probably hate or fear men. Some women also identify as feminists. These characteristics exist independently of each other. If there’s overlap, it’s coincidental and correlated or causal…”

and

“Feminism has more flavours than Baskin-Robbins and a hundred and one areas of focus, covering everything from reproductive rights to international development to political reform or popular culture. Beyonce is a feminist and so is Hilary Clinton. And men can be feminists, too! It’s a big tent party, y’all! Heck, some women live their entire lives according to feminist principles, but never use the term.”

I would like to tell that to a certain “I hate feminism” espousing lady I know…

Magazines: Twenty-five to Life—Elle’s Favourite 20-Somethings.

Needless to say, Lindsay Lohan won’t be making the list, but some others include Gabourey Sidibe (and the accompanying scandal), Lauren Conrad, Megan Fox, and Amanda Seyfried, who grace the cover of the mag in four separate newsstand editions, and then again inside. Here, take a look for yourself…

Related: Poor Little Rich Girl—Lindsay Lohan in Who.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Gabby Sidibe’s ELLE Cover is Another Reason Why Black Fashion Directors Are Necessary.

Extreme Makeover: Barbie Edition.

Every year (unbeknownst to me until a week ago), San Francisco hosts the annual Altered Barbie Exhibition, which is pretty self-explanatory.

What we did as kids takes place on a grander stage, with Barbies made over as a Mexican Day of the Dead bride with Ken as groom, vacuum-sealed-for-freshness alongside some description of a fish and breast barbeque skewers.

All artworks are available for purchase via the Altered Barbie website.

 

Movie Review: Easy A.

 

As with a lot of things lately, I’ve hyped them up in my mind so much that when they actually eventuate, they’re a let down.

Some such things that come to mind are a recent work training seminar (can’t give too much information away as it is top secret ;)), the Britney Spears episode of Glee, and Easy A.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was a really good movie; Emma Stone is a fantastic actress, Stanley Tucci played the dad (I want a dad like Stanley Tucci!), Gossip Girl’s Pen Badgley played the gorgeously mellow love interest Todd, and it dealt with slut shaming, sex, lies and gossip.

But I felt that some of the actors could have toned their performances down a notch. The always over-the-top Lisa Kudrow played the guidance counsellor who was married to Olive’s (Stone) favourite teacher, but *spoiler alert* cheating on him with a member of the high school’s religious clique. Amanda Bynes was the school bitch and president of said church group and, quite frankly, I find it hard to take her seriously as an actress after seeing an episode of The Amanda Show. And while I do love Tucci, he could have toned down the camp-quality he tends to have in moviesespecially as he was playing the straight father.

Other than that, the film was very smart, funny and highlighted the dark undertones that high school can have.

The premise of Easy A is that Olive Penderghast feels sorry for her gay best friend, *again, spoiler alert* so she agrees to fake sleep with him he will stop being ridiculed by the lynch mobs that are his fellow high school students. What Olive doesn’t bargain for, however, is that she’s labelled the school slut, and boys start paying her money to say they had sex. When her female bestie turns on her, Olive takes to sewing a red “A” on all her clothing, à la The Scarlet Letter, which Easy A is loosely based on“but not the Demi Moore film version”.

Without giving too much more away, Easy A has a certain Mean Girls quality to it, and also harkens back to the teen movies of the ’80s, like The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, which appear in a montage at the end of the film.

And Badgley is more likeable here than he is in Gossip Girl, and in a funny twist, the first time Olive “didn’t and said she did” kiss a boy in the eighth grade, she did it to boost Todd’s social standing. Unlike in most teen movies, where the girl/guy does something shady and spends the rest of the movie trying to win back their guy/girl love interest, *final spoiler alert* Todd stands by Olive through her tenure as faux slutty liar, because he knows she did it with good intentions in mind.

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee‘s “Britney/Brittany” Episode.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Easy A Tackles Slut-Shaming, Gossip & What We Expect From Girls Now.

[Jezebel] Is Easy A the New Mean Girls?