On the Net: I Think I’m Beginning to Understand This #MenCallMeThings Thing. Except It’s Not Just Men & It’s Not Really Me.

When the #MenCallMeThings hastag started trending on Twitter and feminist writers galore started detailing their internet abuse at the hands of misogynists, I thanked a higher power that I hadn’t experienced online harassment because, in a nutshell, of my gender. (That’s probably because my blog and extra-blog writings aren’t that well-known [yet].)

But we only have to think back to the vitriol spewed at Mia Freedman when she dared to question our worship of sports “heroes” to realise that members of the “fairer sex” are guilty of it, too. Or how about that recent “leggings are not pants” debacle?

And how about Melinda Tankard Reist? As someone who blogs about conservative feminism, anti-porn and anti-raunch, she’s bound to get her fair share of criticism, which came to a head a few weeks ago after Rachel Hills’ article on her was published in Sunday Life, and subsequently launched a thousand blog posts.

Some of MTR’s ideas are worthy of criticism, in my opinion, but she often gets comments, emails and other forms of communication hurled at her that are anything but constructive. I believe one choice comment in the wake of Hills’ article was that MTR should be raped with a coffee cup. Nice.

A couple of weeks ago I had my first article for The Good Men Project published, followed by a second one last week. While the first article, “Manning Up” was originally written with a feminist—or at least female—audience in mind and I probably should have thought twice before pitching it to the guys at GMP, I proceeded to get torn to shreds in the comments. I stand by the article and I’m sorry if it offended, but I’ve been around these parts long enough to know that when you’re writing about contentious issues such as gender relations, you’re bound incite people who don’t like what you have to say.

Because these articles were published on a site that is not my own, I was lucky enough not to see the more personal comments that were not approved by the moderators. But I can imagine… If it’s not an attack on my womanhood (whether that be my integrity as a human being because of my feminist leanings, my appearance, or my sex life), it’s an exercise in “mansplaining”, but rest assured, when you’re writing about gender (or race, equality, sex, disability etc.) on the interwebs, it’s a common perception that you’re fair game for the trolls.

Have you experienced gender-related trolling?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] In Defence of Mia Freedman.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Conservative Feminist Melinda Tankard Reist for Sunday Life.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Is Big Porn Inc. Anti-Vaccination As Well As Anti-Porn?

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Female Commentators & the Fuckability Factor.

[Fat Heffalump] Cut the Snarky Fashion Judgement Crap.

[Sydney Morning Herald] Who’s Afraid of Melinda Tankard Reist?

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Melinda Tankard Reist and Me.

[The Good Men Project] Manning Up.

[The Good Men Project] You Give Men a Bad Name.

[Tiger Beatdown] Chronicles of Mansplaining: Professor Feminism & the Deleted Comments of Doom.

Movie Review: Space Jam—It Doesn’t Stand Up Over Time.

It’s amazing how some things we loved as children fail to live up to the hype as adults.

When I saw the ads for Space Jam on Go! last week, I just had to watch it. I haven’t seen it in a good ten or fifteen years, but it’s one of those childhood classics—like Home Alone or Mrs. Doubtfire—that you just have to watch given the opportunity.

And let me tell you, I haven’t seen such a sexist and racist kids movie in a very long time!

Firstly, there’s only one female in the whole movie that isn’t a wife, mother, child or housekeeper, and even those roles are very minor ones, appearing onscreen for less than five minutes in total. You can rest assured that Lola is objectified as the sexy, albeit with sporting ability, “don’t-call-me-Doll” rabbit who wears short shorts and a midriff top, while everyone else wears actual basketball attire. On a side note, Pepé Le Pew makes a cameo in the film, which prompted my housemate to refer to him as the poster boy for sexual harassment. With his love interest, Penelope Pussycat, being one of only a few female Looney Tunes, Pepé is well within his rights to stalk and harass her til his heart’s content for deigning to be an attractive female in a male dominated world.

In the race department, the Looney Tunes aren’t really known for their fair portrayal of those who aren’t white and/or American. Look at Speedy Gonzales, Pepé, and the episodes featuring Ali Baba, blackface and Native Americans. But I found it shocking that the premise of Space Jam, which escaped me at a younger age, is capturing Michael Jordan to be a slave—replete with chains—at Moron Mountain theme park. A cartoon sequence that shows Moron Mountain’s owner, Mr. Swackhammer, fantasising about having Jordan as a side show attraction was a particularly low point of the movie.

Not only is Space Jam sexist and racist, but the plot has major holes in it. In one way I’m glad that I was able to see Space Jam for what it truly is, but on the other, I kind of wish it had stayed in childhood and remembered for its nostalgia.

 

 

 

Image via Download Free MP4 Movies.

TV: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “I Kissed a Girl” Episode.

“You know, with all the horrible crap I’ve been through in my life, now I get to add that,” Santana responds to Finn’s efforts to show her New Directions and the Troubletones are there for her by staging a week of lady-on-lady music.

Watching Santana be forced out of the closet was pretty uncomfortable for all those involved on either side of the screen, no matter how many Katy Perry songs were there to ease the pain.

Naya Rivera portrayed Santana’s grief, sadness and discomfort perfectly, as both glee clubs essentially patronised her into coming out. Sure, as Finn points out, she’s going to be outed by Sue’s Congressional opponent’s campaign video anyway, but watching someone be coerced into doing something they really don’t want and aren’t ready to do was painful to watch.

But, in the spirit of the episode’s title, midway through the episode Santana and her glee club comrades told a douchey rugby captain who claimed he could “straighten her out” where to go. The rushed exchange between Josh Coleman and glee girls really summed up the issues surrounding being gay in America:

“Easy girls, I’m just trying to make her normal.”

“She is normal.”

“It’s not a choice, idiot, but even if it were you’d be our last choice.”

“Oh, I get it. You’re all a bunch of lesbos.”

“So what if we are? You don’t stand a chance either way.”

Also interestingly, when the girls sing “I Kissed a Girl”, they engage in the very girl-on-girl-for-guys performance that genuinely non-straight women are trying to tackle. Whilst I did enjoy the rendition, it reminded me of the high-school experimentation my peer group engaged in at the appeal of and for the opposite sex. Sure, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, I guess, but it undoes all the work of gay and bisexual women to be seen as having legitimate sexual orientations that don’t revolve around how the patriarchy wants them to perform their sexuality.

Indeed, it undid all the work Glee was trying to do in this episode.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee: Santana is Forced Out of the Closet.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The First Time” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee: T.G.Inappropriate.F.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Asian F” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “I Am Unicorn” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee Back in Full Force.

Image via VideoBB.

Magazines: Cover of the Week—Miranda Kerr Shows Her Patriotism for Australia Day… in a Wonder Woman Outfit?

While I’m not usually a huge Miranda Kerr or Grazia fan (or Australia Day, for that matter), I will make an exception and go out and get a copy of this week’s special collectors issue, featuring Miranda Kerr as Wonder Woman to celebrate Australia Day.

Image via Take40 Australia.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

“Red Dress, Blue Dress.” What your clothing colour choices say about you. [Final Fashion]

Are you your social group’s/family’s/work place’s “feminist friend”? [Feminaust]

The politics of the facial (yes, that kind of facial). [Jezebel]

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, rape scenes and crossing the line:

“… Our ratings system in this country is so broken that a film that contains a sustained, brutal rape sequence featuring full-frontal female nudity can breeze right through with an R-rating, but if you include a sequence in which two people engage in spirited, consensual sex and we see anything that resembles reality, you are automatically flirting with an NC-17 or going out unrated.  We have created a code of film language in which the single most destructive act of sexual violence is perfect acceptable to depict in the most graphic, clinical detail, but actual love-making has been all but banished from mainstream film.  There’s no ‘almost’ about it; it is disturbing on a philosophical level to realise how backwards the system is right now, and I think one of the reasons many filmmakers will include a rape scene is so they can get some nudity into their movie, and the context doesn’t matter to them.” [HitFix]

Ahh, the inevitable responses you’ll get and the people who’ll give them to you when discussing sexism on the interwebs. [Caphe Sua Da]

Bald Barbie: join the campaign here. [Jezebel, Facebook]

Being called a feminist is a compliment. [Crunk Feminist Collective]

Best “Shit So and So’s Say” video yet!

On language and HIStory. [Feminaust]

My second article on The Good Men Project. Check it out.

Sydney VS. Melbourne? I’m a Melbourne girl all the way, baby. Which do you prefer? [The Age]

Benjamin Law on gay stereotypes. [MamaMia]

And a heartwarming story about how Glee’s Kurt and Blaine are just like this little six-year-old. [And This Is My Blog…]

Maggie Gyllenhaal sticks up for reproductive rights. [Glamour]

An Open Letter to the Transphobic Girl Scout.” [Jezebel]

The mystery of the clitoris, revealed (SFW). [io9]

Cynthia Nixon: gay, straight or bi? Is being gay a choice or is it biology? Who cares? [Slate]

Images via Hits USA, Facebook, The Good Men Project.

Movie Review: Young Adult*.

Young Adult is like Black Swan for writers,” my housemate Eddie told me when I expressed interest in the film. And, after seeing it, I have to agree.

Black Swan was rife with metaphors, and so is Young Adult. Take, for example, the fact that emotionally stunted, alcoholic woman-child Mavis Gary says to her newly acquired drinking buddy Matt, who was beaten to a bloody pulp for being gay (he’s actually not, as an awkward, drunken encounter between he and Mavis will attest) when they were in high school together, that she wishes he would stop leaning on his crutch. Matt was rendered a cripple in the attack, so he kinda has to lean on his crutch, but she means it as a metaphor for his feeling sorry for himself and refusing to live his life. Matt congratulates her on her way with words and asks her if she’s used that line in her Waverly Prep novels.

Mavis is one to talk, though. The movie opens with her chugging Diet Coke, gorging on ice cream, napping during the day in her dingy apartment whilst watching Kendra and the Kardashians, and she continues like this throughout the rest of the movie, after deciding to return to her hometown to win back her high school sweetheart who is now married with a new baby.

I can understand maybe holding on to a lost high school love in your twenties, but Mavis is 37. It really emphasises the life rut the main character is in. Sure, she was a successful ghost writer and is beautiful (c’mon, it’s Charlize Theron!), but she’s an absolutely horrific person on the inside. I think screenwriter Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman did a wonderful job in making Mavis as horrible as they could (she ignores her dog, tries to split up a happy marriage and makes disability jokes at Matt’s expense) but still realistic as a person. Young Adult is probably one notch above Bridesmaids in terms of portraying real, and not necessarily likeable, characters. It’s the movie Bad Teacher wants to be.

But back to the metaphor thing: you can’t get much more metaphoric than the actual title of the movie. While Mavis may have graduated from high school and reading YA novels like Sweet Valley High (interestingly, Cody is in the process of adapting Sweet Valley High for the big screen. Perhaps there’s a bit of her in Mavis?) twenty years ago, in her mind, she’s as immature as they come.

 

 

 

*Blanket spoiler alert.

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

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Bad Teacher Review.

Image via IMDb.

My Week in Pictures.

The Vengabus came, saw and conquered the Corner Hotel.

On a whim, my friends April, Clare and I bought Vengaboys tickets for old times sake, and their third and final—sold out—show in Melbourne was on Sunday night. We got there super early and sweated our guts out to get a glimpse of the Vengabus! Next stop on our ’90s nostalgia tour: Aqua in March!

The movies.

There are so many films out at the moment that I’m trying to fit two in per week til I see them all! Last week it was The Muppets and  Young Adult, both quality flicks.

 

The hand-me-down books.

As last week’s instalment will attest, Laura’s gone and moved back to Perth, but not before offloading a whole bunch of not-unwanted, just not-able-to-fit-in-luggage, books. I managed to pick up two books I’ve been wanting forever, The Book of the Dead and Stephen King’s Under the Dome, as well as Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design. Score!

The new obsession.

I started watching what is said to be the hottest new show on TV this season, Revenge, over the weekend, and couldn’t stop! While the ads on Channel 7 look kinda lame, let me tell you it’s anything but. Think Desperate Housewives meets Damages. Definitely worth a look.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in The Muppets Movie.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Week in Pictures January 19th, 2012.

Revenge image via YouTube.

Books: Is Big Porn Inc. Anti-Vaccination As Well As Anti-Porn?

It’s unfair to throw all the contributors into the one, anti-porn basket, but the authors featured in Big Porn Inc., edited by Melinda Tankard Reist and Abigail Bray all seem to think porn is eroding our society. I haven’t finished the book yet, but stay tuned next week for the entire review.

One aspect of Renate Klein’s essay on the correlation between pornography and the medical industry (“Big Porn + Big Pharma: Where the Pornography Industry Meets the Ideology of Medicalisation”) had me livid: that the cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil, was an unnecessary luxury vaccine promoted by the porn industry for slutty girls. Sure, Klein doesn’t actually write that, but it is certainly implied.

Klein has done her research, though. She sites the website SaneVax which reports that the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine has resulted in 5,010 women who “did not recover” after receiving it, whatever that means. On viewing the website, it looks more like a propaganda machine rather than “an international women’s group that promotes safe vaccination practices.”

This way of thinking—that vaccination is unnecessary, a moneymaking scheme thought up by the government to keep tabs on us, and that girls who receive the Gardasil vaccine are also receiving license to slut around without thinking about the consequences of unprotected sex (or sex in general, some would say)—is rampant on the U.S. conservative scene at the moment. Michele Bachmann, anyone?

In Klein’s chapter, she talks about Gardasil in relation to the safety measures porn stars should take to ensure they stay disease free and are thus able to work. But Gardasil is only recommended for teens, or at least those who’ve never had sex before (including oral), as most people have contracted or will contract HPV during their sexual lifetime.

Just like with any vaccine or medical ailment, there are risks, but is it safer to go unvaccinated and risk spreading disease onto others? What infuriates me is that those who already have small minded, conservative views are the people whom Big Porn Inc. will attract; those who are susceptible to the anti-porn, anti-sex and anti-vaccination messages the book espouses.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Conservative Feminist Melinda Tankard Reist for Sunday Life.

Elsewhere: [SaneVax Inc.] Homepage.

[New Yorker] HPV, Perry & Bachmann.

[Jezebel] Michele Bachmann’s Curious Tale of Vaccination Gone Wrong.

[Jezebel] Oral Sex Linked to Throat Cancer, Is Best Argument Yet for Giving Boys HPV Vaccine.

Image via Melinda Tankard Reist.

TV: Is Charmed Pushing a Conservative Agenda?

For all its feminist butt kicking, I have noticed a pattern as I’ve rewatched Charmed over the last few months: its seemingly conservative agenda.

Sure, there are monstrous demons from throughout the ages; single, sexy, confident females kicking ass and taking names (mostly braless, might I add?!); and an on-the-surface progressive feel to the show, but there might be more at work on Charmed.

Take, for example, in season two when Phoebe tries to help Eric and his father, who have transcribed the ancient Akashic records, and are threatened with brain death by the Collectors, who want the information stored in their minds. While Eric manages to escape the Collectors with the help of the Charmed ones, his father remains in a coma in hospital. When the sisters urge Eric to leave his father to save himself, he refuses, saying his dad is still alive. If we’ve learnt anything from Grey’s Anatomy and all the other doctor dramas, it’s that people rarely recover from brain injury and, in my opinion, the humane thing to do is turn off the life support system.

Also in season two, when Prue is cursed by a Darklighter for trying to save a Whitelighter-to-be (played by Amy Adams, if you’re interested in a bit of trivia), Leo says that suicide prevents someone earmarked to become a future Whitelighter from doing so. Kind of like suicide can prevent a person from going to heaven…?

On the topic of religion, in one episode (for the life of me I can’t recall which one, I just wrote down the quote. Don’t take my word on this, but I think it may have been “Apocalypse, Not”, in season two.) Leo mentions that good and evil have been embroiled in “6,000 years of conflict”. What else allegedly began 6,000 years ago? The creation of the world. A not-very-subtle nod to the creationism theory.

Perhaps there was an especially conservative writer or producer working on season two only, as all these examples stem from that season. A quick IMDb and Wikipedia search yielded not many results supporting this theory.

What are your thoughts on the conservative nature of the series?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Power of Work/Life Balance.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Making a Protest Statement… with Cleavage!

Image via CharmedWiki.

TV: Gossip Girl Thinks Bloggers Aren’t Good Enough.

When Serena feels backed into a corner by Gossip Girl and has to defend herself by penning her own blog at the typically British-named Diana’s (played by Warney’s squeeze Liz Hurley) New York Spectator, Blair harangues her, saying, “I’ve always thought you were too good to blog.” Thanks Blair; great to know where we stand.

But Blair’s is not a unique viewpoint: traditional forms of information gathering and sharing view blogging as the black sheep of the family. Because seemingly anyone can run a blog (though not everyone can run a good blog), those who excel in their field are sometimes deemed not as worthy of acceptance and recognition as those in conventional or “old” media, who rose up the ranks the old fashioned way. We all know one bad blogger can give the rest of us a bad name.

It wasn’t just Serena and her overt blogging dilemma that was relevant to budding online wordsmiths. When Dan freaks out that his book, Inside, has dropped from number nine on the New York Times Bestseller list last week, to completely off the chart this week, and forgoes his book touring commitments, trust old Rufus gives him a pep talk:

“It just takes one person to connect with your art, who feels like you directly communicated with them, to start a groundswell. But you can’t connect with that person unless you show up.”

So, disheartened bloggers, if your blog’s not bringing in the hits yet, just you wait: provided the content’s good (and even if it’s not!), it’s only a matter of time before you start a groundswell of your own. Now I’ve just got to remember that myself…

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] 12 Posts of Christmas: The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

Image via Home of the Nutty.