Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, Early Birds! May your All Hallow’s and Melbourne Cup Eve be filled with treats—not tricks—,outlandish hats and inappropriate costumes.

I know mine was, and there’ll be a very special edition of “My Week in Pictures” on Thursday as evidence!

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Witching Hour: Halloween/My Birthday at Witches in Britches Cabaret.

Image via MySpace.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

How much is that doggy in the window?

Toddlers & Tiaras dog with its “pageant mom”.

New York City’s M23 bus.

We are the 99%!

Gala Darling and Jezebel have some fab pics up from the Tompkins Square Park Halloween dog parade. Squee!

Still with Halloween, how can we de-gender and -sexualise children’s costumes? [Miss Representation]

And for those of us who’ve moved on from childhood, some more “sexy” costume alternatives. My costume for this year is in there (albeit with the slut-factor turned up), and I was inspired for next year’s costume, too. [Jezebel]

Rihanna as the scapegoat for raunch culture:

“… For real, quality disapproval, it has to be Rihanna. We love to disapprove of her. We love to disapprove of her cute, pert bottom; we love to disapprove of her luscious breasts and smooth skin, barely covered by those disgustingly small leather thongs she likes to wear, the hussy. Look at her sexualising our children. Look at her, sexualising away in those horrifyingly sexualised sexy pants. We disapprove of those, too…

“I’m not saying that there aren’t big, big problems with the kind of raunch culture that has made Rihanna rich. What I am saying is that perhaps, just perhaps, the best way to address those problems might not be to applaud a religious fundamentalist for telling a young woman to cover herself up in his presence.” [New Statesman]

Sesame Street’s new character: the “food-insecure” Lily, whose family can’t always afford to put food on the table. [Think Progress]

A tale of two protests: SlutWalk and Occupy Wall Street. [Rabbit Write]

Speaking of the Occupy protests, it’s all about how hot its women are, apparently. [Jezebel]

Girl-on-girl friendships: passive-aggressive undermining or a true sisterhood? Kate Carraway goes with the former. [Vice]

From poignant porn insights a few weeks ago back to this: Bettina Arndt on how Julia Gillard is bucking the system when it comes to traditional relationships and whether she’s setting a good example. Who cares? [Sydney Morning Herald]

A new collector’s edition Barbie, complete with pink hair and tattoos, has a certain Gala Darling quality to her, wouldn’t you say? But while parents are lamenting the bad influence of the doll, they could only hope their children turn to Gala Darling as a role model, with her “radical self-love” message and what not. [Jezebel]

Weight VS. health. [Jezebel]

Why is there such an absence of female sports—and female sporting role models—in the media? [MamaMia]

Porn, what is it good for? Girl with a Satchel weighs in on the great porn debate.

Images via Jezebel, Celebuzz, FanPop.

Movies: What’s Your Number Breaks Some Boundaries, Upholds Others*.

I’d been looking forward to What’s Your Number for a while; Anna Faris is not someone you always see in a leading role in a mainstream, big box office rom com with Chris Evans; there’s a whole host of up-and-coming actors and established comedians (Joel McHale, Andy Samberg); and it deals with the issue of slut-shaming, the first in my memory to do so since Easy A, to name but a few reasons.

But if 20 lovers is the be all and end all in a woman’s quest to get married, then Faris’ character, Ally Darling, is up shit creek without a paddle.

When she discovers after reading a women’s magazine article that she’s slept with 19 men, thus significantly lowering her chances of getting married, she vows not to sleep with one more man until she’s sure he’s the one. One drunken bachelorette party later, and she’s slept with her ex-boss (played by McHale).

During her quest to seek out all her exes so she doesn’t have to go above 20, she meets her across-the-hall neighbour, Colin (Evans). And you can guess what happens next…

While I did enjoy the storyline, and I do love me some Faris and Evans, I was sorely disappointed in two aspects of the climax: that Ally clichély falls down when she runs out of her sister’s wedding to find Colin (see the Women Falling Down video for just how cliché this really is), and that after she’s slept with Colin she gets a phone call from one of her past lovers claiming they never slept together, just that she got really drunk, gave him a mediocre lapdance and handjob, and then passed out in the shower. So yay, right?! Ally’s back to 20 and a) will get married, and b) isn’t a whore!

I particularly liked it, though, when the guy Ally dumps Colin for—her high school sweetheart-turned-big time philanthropist, Jake—discovers she didn’t lose her virginity to him in high school, straying when he was out of town. He says, “Big deal. So you’ve only slept with two guys in your life.” I laughed out loud at this point. I’m not sure how old Ally is meant to be (considering she says she didn’t go to her high school reunion at the beginning of the movie, my guess is she’s around 30), but Jake—or any guy, for that matter—is deluded if they think a 30-year-old woman is going to remain celibate from her first sexual encounter in high school til she meets her husband later in life. Sure, there are some women who this is true for, but it’s the exception, not the norm.

Jake then proceeds to judge Ally on how many people she’s slept with, evening saying “Eww!”

On the other hand, Colin in the embodiment of a modern man. He couldn’t care less how many people Ally’s slept with, just as long as she sleeps with him, I suppose! But really, who does care? Why is your “number” so important?

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Easy A Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] In Defence of Rachel Berry.

Elsewhere: [YouTube] Women Falling Down in Romantic Comedies.

Image via FanPix.

My Week in Pictures.

So there was no “Week in Pictures” last Thursday ’cause I was geeing up for this week! 21st’s, Melbourne Festival talks and preparations for my birthday next week: exciting!

The early birthday presents.

My friend April, who is traveling across the U.S. and Canada sent me some Americana-themed birthday presents. I especially loved the Glee card (which plays “Time Warp”!) and the American Women & World War II book, with Rosie the Riveter on the cover (she’s who I’m going as for Halloween. Shhh!).

Then Lana and Christine put in for this fabulous Tiffany’s coffee table book. I do love my Tiffany’s!

The (other) birthday presents.

Tess’s birthday was back in early October, but she’s so hard to buy for I offered to take her book shopping, where she chose Blood by Tony Birch, who was her uni lecturer. The campy blood bookmark I got her to go along with it was particularly fitting!

The housemate pedicure.

Whilst I was painting my nails during The Slap, my housemate Eddie offered his big toe. I think red’s a good colour on him, don’t you?

The 21st.

One of my younger co-workers, Jackson (not pictured), turned 21 over the weekend. Attending it made me realise just how old I am! “Nobody likes you when you’re 23…”

The car ride home.

Said 21st really took it out of me, and I had to work the next day, so I got a ride home at about 11:30. An hour and a half later, at 1am, I was finally home! Roadworks in the city meant a 20 minute drive turned into a road trip. Luckily we had sparklers to keep us entertained!

The movie.

What’s Your Number review to come later today.

The Melbourne Festival talks.

Last Thursday night, I attended a talk about the Arab Spring as part of the You Say You Want a Revolution series. How serendipitous, then, that Muammar Gaddafi was pronounced dead the next morning! That night I also went to see Not Sorry Enough. Both good events, but they tended to leave me and my fellow attendees with more questions than before.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Did Rosie the Riveter Wear Hotpants?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Week in Pictures 13th October 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Slap & Men Who Cheat.

TV: The Slap & Men Who Cheat.

Three episodes of ABC’s The Slap down, five more to go.

While initially the first episode left me with chills, each subsequent installment has been less exciting than the last, despite the show’s anticipated debut.

But one thing that really shitted me about last week’s “Harry” narrative, in addition to cousin Hector’s story, was that despite having beautiful wives, nice homes and healthy kids and money, the men of The Slap are cheaters.

Sure, just having all these things doesn’t prevent someone from straying in an unhappy marriage, but it seems almost every depiction of middle aged married men these days also includes infidelity.

Don Draper, for example. Tony Soprano, Tom Scavo of Desperate Housewives and Dr. Chris Taub of House, to name a few more. Fatal Attraction’s Dan Gallagher. Bradley Cooper’s Ben in He’s Just Not That Into You. The list goes on.

Sure, cheating occurs IRL. But where are all the representations of good men? One’s who are secure in their marriages, in their masculinity, and who love their lives. Surely those men exist in real life, although you wouldn’t know it if film and television are supposed to imitate it.

Not only is this damaging to married men, but also to married women. Are they really as none-the-wiser as fiction makes them out to be? Do they never cheat? Unlikely.

And what about sexual health? Surely, if protection isn’t used, these fictional cheating men are spreading disease. Watch how Harry and Hector pursue relationships with other women, then come home and make love to their beautiful wives like nothing’s changed. But it has. Am I deluded in thinking you can’t have the best of both worlds?

Image via A Connected Life.

TV: Rapture—Greens as Doomsayers.

From “A Philosophical Q & A, spoken by Gerard Henderson:

“… If you’re talking about bizarre views, have a look at the Green movement. Once upon a time, when people said, ‘The end of the world is nigh’… they were all Christians walking around in odd clothing. Now, people who walk around in odd clothing and say, ‘The end of the world is nigh,’ vote Green and often work at the ABC or somewhere else. It seems to me that anyone who thinks the world is going to end within the next six months or six years or 60 years or 600 years is pretty bizarre to me and they’re not religious at all.”

In the words of the Facebook group, “I’m not bragging, but this is the fifth end of the world I’ve survived” (Rapture 2.0 was supposed to happen on Friday), and I identify as a Green.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] It’s Not Easy Being Green: The Latest Trend in Discrimination.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Apocalypse Now: 2012 Come Early?

Elsewhere: [ABC] A Philosophical Q & A Transcript.

On the Net: Revisiting Erotic Capital.

A few weeks ago I wrote in response to Rachel Hills’ thoughts on erotic capital, and the questions she asked.

But I feel like I didn’t really get to the crux of what I wanted to say, and that’s deciding whether erotic capital affects my life and how I experience beauty privilege or beauty disadvantage.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about beauty, and I’ve noted before that I have been negatively judged on my beauty (beauty equals vapid bimbo, apparently), deemed “not pretty enough”, played up my beauty and flown under the radar by playing it down.

But in general, when the way I look gives me more benefits than it does hassles (except when it comes to street harassment!), beauty positivity, as Hills puts it, isn’t such a bad thing. I’d rather be underestimated and prove people wrong than overestimated and let people down.

But I’d be interested to hear from those who have experienced the negative effects of beauty privilege. What are they?

Hills also raises the idea that erotic capital isn’t so much about how beautiful you are, but how much effort you put in. I put in more effort when I attended a party over the weekend that I did when I went to work the next day, tired and sore. But there’s a recently released study that shows even at work, going makeup free gains you less respect than a slick of lipstick and some cover-up. (I tried a sans-mascara look at work over the last few days, and no one noticed the difference. Whether this is due to the natural fantasticness of my eyelashes or the ineffectiveness of the product is another question…) In the workplace, I’d say more emphasis is put on beauty privilege that there should be.

Outside the workplace, I certainly get more of a response when my hair’s out, I’m wearing feminine clothes and I’m not wearing my glasses, but the effort I put in in these scenarios also garners me more attention from those less fortunate.

I’ve had some awful experiences in the city, where beggars have approached me asking for money. I was happy to oblige until I was swindled out of $30 by an expert con artist. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m more than happy to give a few bucks to a homeless person, whose life is tragically laid out before them on the street, but they’re usually so downhearted and -trodden that they don’t approach people for money. It’s the ones who don’t actually need money (though who’s to determine who’s more in need?) and scam people out of their’s that give the poor a bad name. But that’s a post for another day…

Back to erotic capital and beauty privilege: to finish, I’d like to quote a paragraph or two from Hills’ Sunday Life article on the topic:

“Erotic capital, as [Catherine Hakin] describes it, isn’t just a signifier of wealth and power—it is a ‘personal asset’ that can be traded for those things, no different from a university degree, a good professional reputation or a strong network of friends or acquaintances.

“

According to Honey Money, good-looking junior employees who sleep with their bosses to get ahead are neither exploited nor exploitative: they’re just engaging in a simple exchange of pleasing aesthetics for social introductions and mentoring. Husband-funded ladies who lunch are no less powerful than women who bring in 60 per cent of their household’s income … so long as they maintain their erotic allure.”

And there’s the very “beauty privilege” Hills is talking about: you can use your hotness for your own personal gain, and that’s fine. But don’t ever lose what got you there. That’s what gives beauty-positivity a bad name.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] In Response to Questions About “Erotic Capital”.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] So Misunderstood.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Picture Perfect.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] I Ain’t No Hollaback Girl: Street Harassment in Cleo.

Elsewhere: [I Blame the Patriarchy] New Study Shows Makeup is Not Optional.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] The Erotic Economy.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Oh, the horror! The least sexy “sexy” Halloween costumes. [Jezebel]

Beyonce and beauty. [Girl with a Satchel]

How to make love like a feminist. [Feminaust]

More on the Zooey Deschanel-femininity-feminism debate:

“Where are the sitcoms written by and starring women of color, lesbian and bisexual women, women whose bodies don’t fit into sample-size clothing? Where are the scripts about women who hate movies like Dirty Dancing, who attack every problem with unflagging rationality, who don’t really enjoy baking cupcakes or sewing clothes? These women are no worse or better than the kind of woman Deschanel epitomizes—but they exist, and Hollywood would be a far more interesting place if it began representing them, too.” [HuffPo]

How to be “a man”:

“I heard a woman shout, ‘Be a man!’ and I briefly wondered why it wasn’t acceptable to slap that bitch, thinking: What the fuck does she know about it? How can any woman ever tell me how to be man, when her father wasn’t there even when he was in the room, or his spine was removed vertebrae by vertebrae with the soft touch of her mother’s pointy claws? Her shout makes me realize that someone didn’t do his job, which makes us all suffer, so she calls us something she doesn’t understand and we don’t know how to be.” [The Good Men Project]

Jersey Shore’s Snooki, that punch, and male-on-female violence. [Jezebel]

In defence of J.Lo. [Jezebel]

There’s no such thing as the straight, white male underclass. [MamaMia]

You’d have to be pretty dumb as an Australian, no matter your age, to risk a “Bali high” after the Shapelle Corby/Bali nine media circuses. [Adelaide Now]

The tragic life of sex-bomb Anna Nicole Smith:

“Sex occupied an odd purpose in her life: She seemed often to give it for reasons that had little to do with her personal pleasure, and when she had it she typically demanded it take place in the dark. She wrote in her diary, ‘I hate for men to want sex all the time. I hate sex anyway.’” [New York Magazine]

Gender, politics and weight. [Washington Post]

Plastic surgery as spiritual healing. [Washington Post]

Some more on Julia Gillard and sexism. [Slate]

“Six Myths About Sex & Gender, Busted.” [Jezebel]

How to be a woman in the U.S. [Jezebel]

Images via Jezebel, New York Magazine.

TV: Wiccans—Born This Way.

The actress who plays the disturbed Wiccan Marnie Stonebrook on True Blood, Fiona Shaw, is a lesbian herself, so her character’s diatribe about being a supernatural outcast on last night’s episode has several layers:

“[People] are cruel. They’re bullies. They treat you like a pariah. They’re just mocking and judging and… shunning me. Well I didn’t ask to be what I am.”

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Meaning of War According to True Blood.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Male Rape on True Blood.

Image via VideoBB.

In the News: Beyonce—Countdown to Overexposure.

I love me a bit of Beyonce every now and then, but this has got to stop!

Ever since she announced her pregnancy at the MTV VMAs in August, there’s been talk of a black woman “doing it the right way”, being “sexy and pregnant” and, of course, whether Bey’s bump is even real!

Seriously, when the world starts speculating that the most anticipated celebrity offspring of the year isn’t being carried by the female half of said celebrity couple, I think it means they’ve officially reached overexposure status. This is even worse than the film clip that spawned a thousand spoofs (“Single Ladies [Put a Ring on It]”) and that whole Taylor Swift-Kanye West debacle.

However, when her latest video was released for “Countdown”, I have to say I did like it. I thought it harkened back to Beyonce’s video for “Why Don’t You Love Me?”, with some Audrey Hepburn, ’60s-esque looks thrown in there, too. But, just like the response to Bey’s performance of “Run the World (Girls)” at the Billboard Awards, the copycat allegations ran thick and fast. She’s like the new Lady Gaga!

What do you think of Beyonce? Still love her or couldn’t care less?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Week in Pictures 7th July 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Did Rosie the Riveter Wear Hotpants?

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Beyonce’s Pregnancy & the Debate Over Black Women “Doing it the Right Way”.

[Jezebel] Pregnance Plots Maternity Clothing Line.

[Jezebel] The Bizarre & Burgeoning Fixation with Fake Baby Bumps.

[Jezebel] Beyonce Accused of Copycat Choreography (Again!).

[MTV] Beyonce’s “Countdown” Video: A Pop-Culture Cheat Sheet.

[Buzzfeed] Beyonce Ripped Off Her Amazing Billboard Music Awards Performance.