On the (Rest of the) Net.

Rachel Hills answers the age-old aspiring-freelance question: “When should I stop writing for free?” [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Last week, I emailed Hills to get her thoughts on feminist author Erica Jong’s assertion that the “younger generation” (she references her daughter, who is in her thirties) isn’t interested in sex. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Also at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, check out these reblogged images above.

Why is there such a big problem with porn? There’ll be more to come on this next week. [Jezebel, via The Scientific American]

Feminism, not enough sex, too much sex, and Muslims were the cause of the Norway terrorist, according to the Norway terrorist. [Jezebel]

Check me out: I’m Girls Are Made from Pepsi’s “Lady of the Week”!

Amy Winehouse VS. Norway: “On Caring About More Than One Thing at Once”:

“If the only world event worth commenting on is the most severe tragedy, then where does the pissing contest end? Yes, what happened in Norway was terrible, but what about what happened in Japan? What about what happened with the Asian tsunami? What about 9/11 here in the good ol’ US of A? (You said you’d never forget!) What about everything bad that has ever happened?” [Jezebel]

Girl with a Satchel’s Erica Bartle gets her faith on on MamaMia. You go, girl!

Also at MamaMia, Mia Freedman’s stirring the pot this week! She writes on Cadel Evans’ Tour de France win and if sportsmen should be considered heroes, the News of the World phone hacking scandal, and runs a guest post by Tony Abbott on why the carbon tax is a bad idea.

“What Your First Screen Crush Says About You.” [Jezebel]

Despite its misogyny, does hip hop actually promote lady love? [Jezebel, Autostraddle]

10 easy steps to radical self love. [Gala Darling]

Why rape cases don’t get prosecuted, parts one and two. [Jezebel]

“The 10 Coolest Witches in Pop Culture.” Where’s Teen Witch? And the Halliwell sisters? Disappointed. [Flavorwire]

“How Not to Propagate Bad News.” [Girl with a Satchel]

She’s out of your league. Kind of relates back to this article from a couple of weeks ago. [Jezebel]

I’ve just signed up to RSVP.com, so this article is kind of appropriate: “Questions We Wish Were Appropriate to Ask on a First Date.” [Jezebel]

Body image, burgers and the First Lady. [WSJ Speakeasy]

Four commentators, including a mum and a teen, weigh in on the Lady-Gaga-as-role-model debate. For more on this topic, check out this article. [Sydney Morning Herald, Girl with a Satchel]

Hugo Schwyzer in defence of talking to girls about beauty. [Healthy is the New Skinny]

“Does Free Birth Control Stand a Chance” in the USA? [Jezebel]

The problem with Black Swan. [Persephone Magazine]

What exactly is a “Mama Grizzly”? And no, I’m not talking about bears. [Newsweek]

“Born This Way” or choose to be gay? Does it really matter? [The Bilerico Project]

Do most men pay for sex in some way, whether it be porn or prostitutes? [Jezebel]

Images via Haley Tobey, Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.

Amy Winehouse’s Death: They Tried to Make Her Go to Rehab, But She Said No…

 

From “For Amy” by Russell Brand on his website:

“Now Amy Winehouse is dead, like many others whose unnecessary deaths have been retrospectively romanticised, at 27 years old. Whether this tragedy was preventable or not is now irrelevant. It is not preventable today. We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease. Not all addicts have Amy’s incredible talent. Or Kurt’s or Jimi’s or Janis’s, some people just get the affliction. All we can do is adapt the way we view this condition, not as a crime or a romantic affectation but a disease that will kill.”

Of course, Brand has a unique insight into Winehouse’s condition, as he used to be an addict himself.

He’s definitely right in saying society should not be romanticising drug addiction and death. And it’s certainly sad that she died so young, but I’m a bit conflicted about the whole situation.

She was ridiculed in the press and the butt of jokes, especially after her most recent attempt at a comeback, in Serbia, where she appeared to be drunk or high, or both, and addressed the audience as Athenians, I believe. And now that she’s dead, everyone wants to remark on what a fine young talent we’ve lost. The same thing happened with Michael Jackson. No one gave a rats ass about these people until it was too late.

But, on the other hand, if an addict can’t get clean, and doesn’t want to get clean, it’s no one’s responsibility but theirs, at the end of the day.

How many chances did Winehouse have to get clean? How many chances has Lindsay Lohan had? Corey Haim? Courtney Love? Pete Doherty? Anna Nicole Smith? The list goes on.

Yes, I understand that addiction is a disease, and we should try to help people afflicted with it like we would those afflicted with diabetes or schizophrenia. After all, addiction is a mental illness of sorts, and the two often go hand in hand.

And Brand writes that making drug addiction a crime is the wrong answer. “It is cheaper to rehabilitate an addict than to send them to prison, so criminalisation doesn’t even make economic sense,” he writes.

But we’ve all read the literature: drugs cause addiction. So why take them in the first place? To be cool? To cope? ’Cause you’re bored?

I can’t pretend to understand, as I have smoked less than five whole cigarettes in my lifetime, I’ve never been drunk, and I’ve never taken drugs (except for an accidental bite of a hash brownie, but that’s another story!). I have people in my life who are recreational drug users (some are very long-term recreational drug users), but I don’t approve and I can’t pretend to understand. Why would you knowingly do something that could—and probably will—kill you?

I’m not really sure where I stand on the issue: my gut reaction is to say that Winehouse has got no one to blame but herself, but my compassion for people with mental illness other than addiction, and those who have slipped through the cracks, makes me feel like this is not just a black and white issue. Can you feel sorry for some people, but not for others?

Maybe those reading this could shed some light on this issue? Have you had experience with addiction or are close to someone who has, and what are your views on the issue?

Elsewhere: [Russell Brand.TV] For Amy.

Image via Amy Winehouse Picz.

Lady Blogging.

From “Why Blogs for Women are Bad for Women” by Susannah Breslin at Forbes:

“Once upon a time, the feminist movement was about policies. It was about marching in the streets. It was about making change. It was about being a female superhero. These days, the so-called feminist movement has gone online, and its practitioners’ greatest political act is writing a blog post. It’s about writing 200 words on that TV show last night that really pissed you off because the way it portrays women is not right in some way you can’t articulate. It’s about talking over and over again about how there’s not enough women in [FILL IN THE BLANK]. It’s about reclaiming the word ‘slut’, and then going on a SlutWalk, and then having a discussion in which you talk about how you’re not a slut, but people said you were a slut, and that upset you, so you decided to call yourself a slut, because that way, at least you own it. The best thing that can be said about the feminist politics of blogs for women is that they are confused.”

Didn’t we have this debate, like, last year?

Breslin crtitcises young feminists for not getting out there and being involved in rallies and “making change[s]”, but crticises SlutWalk, too. If my memory serves me correct, SlutWalk was, and is, the biggest feminist issue this year; an event that got the likes of me, a “so-called” feminist who’s “gone online” and whose “greatest political act is writing a blog post”, out to her first feminist rally.

If it weren’t for the internet, I wouldn’t be as heavily involved and interested in feminist and gender studies. I am insulted by Brelin’s comments and, as a blogger herself, she’s undermining her authority.

Related: Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Slutty Stride.

Elsewhere: [Forbes] Why Blogs for Women are Bad for Women.

[Girl with a Satchel] Are Blogs for Women Counterproductive?

[Pandagon] I Expect to be Writing This Same Post When People Are Discussing the 16th Wave…

Magazine Review: Sunday Life, 24th July 2011.

 

You’d better duck into your nearest newsagent and hope they have a spare copy of The Sunday Age/Sydney Morning Herald, as its weekly insert, Sunday Life, is a must-read.

In addition to the usual fabulous columns by Mia Freedman and Sarah Wilson, who talk about the hullabaloo surrounding the recent plus-sized (and scantily clad) cover of Vogue Italia (p. 7), and being “deliberately” and uncomfortably vulnerable (p. 10), respectively, Rachel Hills writes on classism in Australia (p. 16–17) and deputy editor Natalie Reilly ponders the magazine’s recent Kate Ellis cover (p. 19).

What with the recent carbon tax being slammed for not being affordable for lower income earners and “Wayne Swan and Tony Abbott… falling over themselves to defend the livelihoods of ‘battlers’ earning more than $150,000 a year—an income more than double the median for Australian families,” class is more of an issue in Australia than ever before, but talking about it “just isn’t cool”.

It’s a very interesting issue, one that has somewhat reared its head in SBS’s Go Back to Where You Came From, the still-to-be aired Housos, a satirical take on life in a housing commission, and the backlash against Cate Blanchett backing the carbon tax.

I have written a little bit here and there about such things, but ultimately, it’s hard to take the “cashed-up bogan” seriously when they say they can’t afford to pay the carbon tax: if they just turned off their $2000 flat-screen TV that they bought with their baby bonus, we might not be in this mess. (Harsh, yes, but it is an anecdotal example!)

Hills quotes Housos, Pizza and Swift & Shift Couriers producer Paul Fenech, who likens the uproar over Housos as “a rich wanker test. The truth is, when we show this comedy to people who live it, they love it.” This could also be applied to the carbon tax and the public reception of shows like Angry Boys: you can always count on the conservative, upper-to-middle class right to become uproarious about such things. Could it be because “talking about class makes us nervous… because it suggests that we might not be as equal as we’d like to think we are—and that’s threatening”? I’d bet it is.

I saw this first hand when I brought up Go Back to Where You Came From with a right-leaning friend. Then I told him I was going to vote Greens next election. Then he called me a communist.

But what’s so wrong with believing everyone should receive the same civil rights? Abbott would argue, “why ‘screw over… people who want to get ahead’?” Indeed; but does it mean that we have to step on the little man to do so?

In “What’s Wrong With This Picture?”, Reilly addresses the age old conundrum of serious women not being able to be taken seriously if they’re dressed in anything remotely “sexy”.

Apparently, there was an outcry from Sunday Life readers regarding the June 26 issue, which featured Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis, dressed in a pink high-necked blouse, red pencil skirt (above the knee, but I wouldn’t call it a mini) and killer turquoise heels. And therein lies the problem:

“When a female politician wears anything other than a sensible suit, outrage ensues.”

Yet, when Prime Minister Julia Gillard wears an unflattering get-up, she’s criticised for not being fashionable enough. Seems a girl just can’t win.

Related: My Response: Go Back to Where You Came From.

Does Pop Culture Glamourise Our Carbon Footprint?

Conservativism Reigns Supreme in The Sunday Age’s Opinion Section.

It’s Not Easy Being Green: The Latest Trend in Discrimination.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] $150,000 Doesn’t Make You Rich. Discuss.

[MamaMia] The Four Reactions to This Magazine Cover.

[Sarah Wilson] How Do You Get “Deliberate” About Your Life?

[Girl with a Satchel] “Carbon Cate” for T Magazine & the Prius Effect.

[Sydney Morning Herald] Go Back to Where You Came From Strictly for the Gullible.

[Heathen Scripture] The Other Reason Why Raquel Was Wrong.

Image via Sydney Morning Herald.

Yet Another Way in Which Madonna & Lady Gaga Are Alike.

 

From “Madonna: Finally, a Real Feminist” by Camille Paglia, in an article from 1990 in the New York Times:

“Madonna has a far profounder vision of sex than do the feminists. She sees both the animality and the artifice. Changing her costume style and hair colour virtually every month, Madonna embodies the eternal values of beauty and pleasure. Feminism says, ‘No more masks.’ Madonna says we are nothing but masks.”

Paglia is notoriously anti-Gaga, perhaps fearing that Mother Monster may be stealing the waning spotlight from Her Madgesty.

It’s funny that this was written 21 years ago, because it could very well have been written only recently, in relation to Gaga: “she sees both the animality and artifice” of sex. She changes “her costume style and hair colour” one better than Madonna; every day, it seems. And Gaga, as I have written, exists as something of a mask, while espousing the importance of being yourself.

So it’s not just the novelty bras and “Express Yourself” tune in “Born This Way”…

Related: Gaga Ooo La La?

Elsewhere: [The New York Times] Madonna: Finally, a Real Feminist.

[The Sunday Times] Lady Gaga & the Death of Sex.

Image via Gale Chester Whittington.

Event: Rock of Ages Review.

The last few musicals I’ve been to I haven’t enjoyed. West Side Story, Hairspray… My friends keep telling me I need to stop comparing them to Wicked! Fair call.

So I went into Rock of Ages last Tuesday night with trepidation. I was looking forward to the music and the ’80s campy quality, but I wasn’t expecting a storyline and character development of Gregory Maguire proportions.

And I was right. While the music and the one liners are great, Lonny (to be played by Russell Brand in next year’s big screen adaptation), the chubby, mullet-sporting narrator, admits ten minutes into the production that they should “probably introduce a storyline” to keep the audience invested.

This is where Drew aka Wolfgang von Colt (played by Justin Burford), aspiring rock star and busboy at Dupree’s Bourbon Room on the Sunset Strip (a nod to The Viper Room, perhaps?), and Sherrie, a small town girl looking to make it big as an actress in Hollywood, come in.

While Sherrie is the most vapid character I’ve seen in a musical for a long time ever, her representation is typical of women in the male-dominated rock music industry at the time: just a piece of ass.

This is all mega rock star Stacee Jaxx sees her as, and acts accordingly. Jaxx seems to embody guys like Bret Michaels from Poison, Steven Tyler from Aerosmith and perhaps Jon Bon Jovi (but he just seems too nice!), as the quintessential egomaniac douchebag who forgets where he got his start (hello, Bourbon Room!). The role is a good one, and I can really see Tom Cruise excelling in it in the film version, however I thought Michael Falzon overplayed the role. If he’d just kicked in down a notch and acted like he took himself more seriously as the best front man to ever walk the earth, I think the character would have been more effective.

In fact, if the production itself employed this tactic, I would see nothing wrong with it.

But all in all, the costumes were fab, the majority of actors killed it, the set “broke down the fourth wall”, both literally and figuratively and, of course, the music was pure ’80s hair rock and power ballads.

It’s the best thing going in Melbourne at the moment and, since the last musical I saw at the Comedy Theatre, Avenue Q, for a while.

Image via Crikey.

Event: The Way We Wear Weekend.

 

On Saturday morning, after some technical difficulties (iPhone loss on the part of my friend, Linzie, and getting off at the wrong train stop!), we arrived at The Way We Wear’s bi-annual market at the Williamstown Town Hall.

This is the best—and only, after going to some other—lackluster—vintage fair(s) in Melbourne. Entry was $12 for adults, although we had some discount vouchers, so it made it an even $10 each. Upon entry, we got a program of the weekend’s festivities, a free voucher for Becky Sharp’s Vanity Fair Vintage Fashion Market in September, and an entry form to go into the draw to win some vintage loot.

Having been to The Way We Wear three times, the usual vendors were there again, with several more since the market started selling homewares this time around.

I ended up picking up a dainty green and cream animal print scarf and two bangles, while Linzie got a beetroot Tupperware container (images to come in Thursday’s “My Week in Pictures” post)!

I had beginners luck at my first market this time last year, but never again have I seen the same success. Nevertheless, I recommend the market to vintage lovers everywhere. Hell, clothes and accessories (don’t forget homewares!) lovers everywhere. Even if you don’t pick anything up, just looking at the range of authentic vintage from over a century ago, as stocked by Online Antiques (images to come on Thursday, as mentioned above), more recent items, such as a Burberry trench coat, pink Versace jacket and YSL logo-printed dress or, as Linzie described them, Diva jewellery and Dotti tops from a few years ago sold for more than they cost then, is well worth it.

The next market will be on the 19th and 20th of November, at the Williamstown Town Hall. Hope to see you there!

Related: The Way We Wear Vintage Fashion Fair.

The Way We Wear Vintage Market.

Elsewhere: [The Way We Wear Vintage Fashion Fairs] Homepage.

[Becky Sharp's Melbourne Vanity Fair Market] Homepage.

[Online Antiques] Homepage.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Race and online dating. [Jezebel]

Hermione the heroine. [HuffPo]

Jezebel also writes in praise of “The Women of the Harry Potter Universe.”

Tavi Gevinson on growing into her beauty:

“I could pretend to be an archetype of a feminist superhero and say I never want to be a conventionally attractive person. But, while I have so much respect for the people who can say that truthfully, I’m not there yet… I admit to the basic human desire to be attractive…

“Maybe I liked my face. Is that not okay?” [The Style Rookie]

If the DSK case has taught us anything, it’s that “any deviation of the victim’s life from the concept of the ‘perfect victim’ is exploited and becomes the focus of attention, as has happened to the DSK victim. Ever had a drink? Been to a party? Been a little bit late to a meeting? Lost your temper? Tried to fight back? Lied to your friends about what’s going on in a relationship? Forgiven someone? Posted a Facebook photo of you hugging someone? Well then clearly YOU ARE A DRUG-ADDLED VIOLENT SLUT BITCH and that necessitates a billion more hearings to talk about how VIOLENT and SLUTTY and DRUG-ADDLED and BITCHY you are.” [Think on This]

Still with Strauss-Kahn, Bob Ellis airs his always controversial, archaic and small-minded misogynist thoughts on the “honeytrapping” of “good men”. [ABC The Drum]

“When Rape Victims Lie.” [Sasha Said]

And this wraps up the DSK portion of the program:

“… I have no sympathy, empathy or even good thoughts for Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Not just because of the rape accusations but also because of his betrayal of the socialist ideals he was supposed to uphold as a prominent member of the French Socialist Party. His ideals that went through the drain when he accepted to become head of the IMF, one of the most subjugating, neo-imperialist institutions imposed on the Global South.

“And now, of course, there is no longer a case against him. However, and this is where I’d like us to focus, there is no longer a case because, it is claimed, the victim lied on issues unrelated to the rape allegations. Let that sink in for a second: a woman who is an asylum seeker/refugee, who hails from one of the poorest countries on earth (where the IMF played a big role in promoting the prevailing poverty and economic hardships that afflict her homeland) was found to have lied in order to get on with her life.” [Tiger Beatdown]

Jokes about Casey Anthony: too soon? [Splitsider]

“So you want to move to New York?” Here are the realities. Not as grim as you might think, yay! [Yikes Machine]

“The World Map of Useless Stereotypes.” If they’d reduced the space allocated for New York, they might have been able to include Australia. Oh yeah, maybe they were playing up the stereotype of us being the forgotten continent of sorts. [Jezebel]

The Lion King promotes homosexuality? And nine other “crazy things” that have come out of potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann’s mouth. [Think Progress]

Elitism in the public school system. [Persephone Magazine]

If global gender equality was represented by the FIFA Women’s Soccer World Cup, this is what it would look like. [Jezebel]

Ten life lessons, according to Ja Rule. Hilarious! [Thought Catalog]

“If I Were a Girl,” also on Thought Catalog, is equal parts poignant and insulting. Interesting to get a guy’s point of view on what it would be like to be a girl.

Read what happens when “a teen… calls the Westboro Baptist Church” to talk about feminism! [Jezebel]

Waking up to the Leiby Kletzky murder crime scene. [Jezebel]

Sleazy News of the World-esque journalism has a place somewhere, right? [Gawker]

“Penis shaming.” [Rachel Rabbit White]

On “Writing Race.” [Zero at the Bone]

More on the should-we-tell-little-girls-they’re-pretty debate. [The Beheld]

Part two of Camilla Peffer’s “In Defence of Women Behaving Badly.” [Girls Are Made from Pepsi]

Men in crisis: “Digging deeper into modern Masculinity.” [Rachel Rabbit White]

Images via The Style Rookie, Buzzfeed.

Do “Strong Female Characters” Remind You of You?

From “A Plague of Strong Female Characters” by Carina Chocano in The New York Times Magazine:

“… Few cultural tropes get under my skin like ‘strong female character,’ and it still surprises me when like-minded people use it. Maybe the problem is semantic. Maybe what people mean when they say ‘strong female characters’ is female characters who are ‘strong,’ i.e., interesting or complex or well written—‘strong’ in the sense that they figure predominantly in the story, rather than recede decoratively into the background. But I get the feeling that what most people mean or hear when they say or hear ‘strong female character’ is female characters who are tough, cold, terse, taciturn and prone to scowling and not saying goodbye when they hang up the phone.

“… Characters like these… do serve as a kind of gateway drug to slightly more realistic—or at least representational—representations of women. On the other hand, they also reinforce the unspoken idea that in order for a female character to be worth identifying with, she should really try to rein in the gross girly stuff. This implies that unless a female character is ‘strong,’ she is not interesting or worth identifying with.”

Chocano then goes on to talk about Kristen Wiig’s seemingly “weak” character in Bridesmaids, and how she is actually an empowering character for women:

“We don’t relate to her despite the fact that she is weak, we relate to her because she is weak.

“… This makes me think that the problem is not that there aren’t enough ‘strong’ female characters in the movies—it’s that there aren’t enough realistically weak ones. You know what’s better than a prostitute with a machine gun for a leg or a propulsion engineer with a sideline in avionics whose maternal instincts and belief in herself allow her to take apart an airborne plane and discover a terrorist plot despite being gaslighted by the flight crew? A girl who reminds you of you.”

This article is well worth the read.

Related: Bridesmaids Review.

“With a Gun Between Her Legs,” Take 3.

“With a Gun Between Her Legs,” Take 2.

“With a Gun Between Her Legs”: Why “Strong (AKA “Sexy” Whilst Being “Strong”) Female Characters Are Bad For Women.

Strong Female Characters in the Land of Oz.

Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, Or Stereotypes?

Elsewhere: [The New York Times] A Plague of Strong Female Characters.

Image via Movies Bizz.