Okay, So Maybe I Was Wrong… You Give Men a Bad Name Revisited.

The morning after I wrote “You Give Men a Bad Name” I woke to an email in my inbox from the subject of the post.

I took a deep breath and prepared myself for the ripping of a new asshole.

However, I was pleasantly surprised.

He apologised for not returning my email, explained why he didn’t, and acknowledged that he had been a douchebag and that I deserve to be treated better.

Not what I was expecting AT ALL.

As I told him, I never expected him to ever see the post. The blog is publicised on Facebook, but only two of my friends actually read my stuff on the regular. I find it easier to write unselfconsciously when I think no one’s going to read it. Dancing like no one’s watching, or something.

But, while I still think he should have manned humanned up” in the first instance and just called me back to say thanks, but no thanks, I have to commend him for his response to criticism. Not many people can respond to being called out like that and acknowledge that they were wrong.

A couple of close friends who I told about the email responded in a myriad of ways: one cried; one grimaced; one said they didn’t see anything good about the email because he still had to be called out by me; and one called it incredibly sweet.

But all that really matters is what I thought of it, and I thought it was quite noble. His backstory allowed me to understand why he did the things he did (or didn’t do the things he didn’t do). It provided me with closure and has allowed me to move on. And it made me realise that he doesn’t give men a bad name.

Related: You Give Men a Bad Name.

Elsewhere: [The Good Men Project] Manning Up.

It’s Hard Out There for a Man?

From “The Truth About Universal Masculinity” by Mark Manson on The Good Men Project:

“Camille Paglia once wrote, ‘A woman simply is, but a man must become. Masculinity is risky and elusive. It is achieved by a revolt from woman, and it is confirmed only by other men’… Whereas a woman’s femininity is implicit by simply being and birthing, a man’s must be proven through action.”

While I don’t agree totally with this contention (a lot of women struggle to, and are chastised for, deviating from traditional femininity), Manson and Paglia do raise an interesting point about modern masculinity.

A Good Men Project commenter, Budmin, wrote in response to my “Manning Up” post last week:

“Women have more flexibility to self identify with what ever level of aggression or passivity they see fit. Their femininity thus their humanity is not on constant trial. It can’t be taken away from them. It’s theirs and theirs alone.

“Masculinity is the act of suppressing all insecurities so that one may project the illusion of dominance for the satisfaction and protection of others.”

Anyone who knows me (or anyone who reads this blog) knows that I’m a feminist through and through, and that the idea of a “post-feminist” society is spurious. But, provided the right infrastructure and support is in place in an individual female’s life, she does have the opportunities to be anything she wants to be. Sure, she’ll probably be judged for it by misogynists and traditionalists, but does she have as hard a time as a man does stepping outside of the rigid stereotype we’ve put in place for him?

I can’t stand poor-straight-white-wealthy-male problems, but should we diminish the individual struggles to “be a man” men face today because they’re not deemed as “worthy” as the struggles women or people of colour or gay men and women or the poor or the disabled or transgender people face? Who are we to say that someone’s inner demons aren’t as bad as the next person’s?

Now is as good a time as any to be a man but, I think, once everyone realises that gender is just a performance, we’ll all be able to get on with our lives in a way that’s right for us, regardless of the body parts we were born with and what society expects from us because of said body parts.

Elsewhere: [The Good Men Project] The Truth About Universal Masculinity.

[The Good Men Project] Manning Up.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Check me out on The Good Men Project!

On sex work by a sex worker. [The Age]

“Have you lost weight?” is not a compliment. One of my close male friends has recently lost a lot of weight, and the resounding comment that seems to follow him wherever he goes is, “You look so hot now that you’ve lost weight,” or something to that effect. Firstly, what did he look like before? Hideous? Unlovable? Gross? And secondly, is he worthy of affection and admiration now because he’s not fat anymore? Just. Plain. Wrong. [Broadist]

Rick Santorum, the Iowa caucus and what the 2012 Republican landscape could very well look like. Hint: not good. [The Punch]

And some more on Santorum’s scary reproductive rights views. [Jezebel]

AND, a rundown of what the Iowa caucus actually entails, anyway. [Jezebel]

How my heart warms: a child with Down Syndrome is modeling for Target in the U.S.! [Jezebel]

Mia Freedman on Deborah Hutton’s nude posing for The Australian Women’s Weekly. [MamaMia]

Sometimes it’s okay to be a quitter. [Gala Darling]

Camilla Peffer on street harassment. [Girls Are Made From Pepsi]

How to really talk to girls about beauty. [Jezebel]

Images via The Good Men Project, MamaMia.

You Give Men a Bad Name.

My friend April’s catch cry seems to be, “All men are assholes.” I refuse to believe this, but sometimes certain men can make it mighty hard.

A month or two ago I met this guy. We exchanged flirty eye contact and eventually I got up the courage to add him on Facebook; today’s equivalent of courtship’s first step. Flirty messages followed, and we eventually hooked up just before Christmas.

While I made no secret that I was into him, he was a little harder to read, however when he approached me at a party; kissed me; invited me back to his house that night; I figured it was safe to assume that he was into me, too. He whispered sweet nothings into my ear, told me I was making him crazy with some of the things I’d written to him (I didn’t think I’d written anything out of the ordinary, but each to their own) and led me to a secluded corner of the party for more of the same. Again, safe to assume he was into me.

Then, after a couple of emails the next few days about how we were each feeling (physically, not emotionally) the day after the party, nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

I’d even asked him if, after Christmas, he’d like to catch up for a drink to get to know each other better. A date, I believe the kids call it these days. No reply. Come on, dude, you’re 30: grow up and call a sister back. Even just to tell me that you had fun that night, but that was all it’d amount to. We’re not in high school anymore.

And it wasn’t even like I’d gone back to his house like he’d asked. Maybe then it’d be understandable that all he’d wanted was sex and then decided to drop me like I was hot. But I went home with my friends and he went home with his. One friend suggested maybe all he had wanted was sex, and when he knew he couldn’t get that from me on the first date kiss, he figured I wasn’t worth the effort. (Full disclosure: I am.) But, again, JUST TELL ME! Is it really that hard to send a ten second email saying thanks, but no thanks?

What makes it even more awkward is that I work with him. Not in the same department, but close enough so that I see him several times a week. And he’s nice as pie, smiles, says hello, asks how I am. I smile curtly and respond; we’re adults, after all, even if he hasn’t really been demonstrating this.

Why do men insist on acting this way? And, I’m sure, a lot of men would assert that women act hot and cold, too. I’ve certainly been guilty of it in the past but, as I mature, I prefer to tell people straight if they’ve upset me or if I’m just not that into them.

Even one of the guys I’ve spoken to about my dilemma boiled his actions down to his Y chromosome. I just don’t believe this. I know plenty of men who are the polar opposite of this trope; then again, I know plenty of men who adhere to it. I suppose, despite what pop culture, bogus science and years of socialisation have told us, it’s really all about the individual, no matter whether they come from Venus or Mars. Douches come from both planets.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Men & Women Are Sooo Different, According to Sketchy Research.

Magazines: Conservative Feminist Melinda Tankard Reist for Sunday Life.

 

Sunday Life is back with a bang for 2012, featuring Rachel Hills’ fantastic article on “anti-raunch, anti-porn, pro-life” activist, Melinda Tankard Reist.

I’ve been reading Tankard Reist’s work for about a year or two now, and I have to say, like Hills and many other feminists, I don’t always agree with her views. Hell, I barely ever agree with her views. I’ve got her latest book, Big Porn Inc., which you can read a bit about in the article, on my bedside table ready to go. I have some trepidation about the book, as I don’t see a huge problem with porn, but MTR does. She also views our culture as an increasingly raunch-filled and pornified one, which I also disagree with.

The article details MTR’s “brand of feminism” and also quotes some of her supporters and detractors, which I think rounds out the article very nicely. There’s also a side box about some other notable conservative “feminists”, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. If ever there were two women who used feminism to further their (clearly non-feminist) political agenda, it’s them. Writes Hills:

LA Times columnist Meghan Daum [writes], ‘If [Palin] has the guts to call herself a feminist, then she’s entitled to be accepted as one.’

“‘I was at a debate recently where a lot people were saying we needed to reinvent feminism because it has become loaded with too much negativity,’ says Eva Cox. ‘But if it’s negative, it is interesting that the right is picking it up.’

“Still, Cox warns: ‘Those who don’t want feminism to be co-opted by the Palins and the Tankard Reists need to do some thinking about what direction they want to take it in instead.’”

I can be a bit of a snobby feminist when I want to be, and don’t think that everyone can call themselves a feminist. But, in a Facebook exchange on the topic, the idea that anyone can call themselves a feminist and has the right to that label was prevalent. I’ve been known to opine that my personal feminism isn’t as radical as second-wave feminism is perceived to be. Just as MTR’s feminism is just as radical, if not more.

Hills rounds out the article by asserting that, “whether you agree with her or not… Tankard Reist is now one of Australia’s best-known feminist voices… It is her language—and that of her supporters—that increasingly frames our debates on sex, gender and popular culture.”

Maybe I’m not hanging out in the right places, but I disagree. Those who shape the debates on sex, gender and pop culture that I read and listen to are the ladies at Feminaust, Jezebel and Feministe, and Hills herself. It just goes to show that everyone does subscribe to their own personal feminism. Mine just isn’t akin to MTR’s.

Related: In Defence of Porn.

Elsewhere: [Rachel Hills] Who’s Afraid of Melinda Tankard Reist?

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Melinda Tankard Reist & Me: Meditations on My Sunday Life Cover Story.

Image via Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.

Costumes & Gender.

Snow White, Catwoman, (slutty) Rosie the Riveter, (slutty) Tiger Lily, Katy Perry in her “California Gurls” video, Eve… These are some of the costumes I’ve dressed up in for a variety of costume parties over the years. You will notice that each is either hyper-feminine and/or hyper-sexualised (when I went looking for a Belle from Beauty & the Beast costume for my 21st, the only one I could find for hire was a short, tight one that resembled the original character’s garb in no way).

At the other end of the dress-up spectrum, I have a couple of friends who relish costume parties as opportunities to stretch the gender performance barriers. Michelle has a penchant for covering her face in all manner of makeup and face paint for her takes on Puss in Boots, The Joker and Elphaba from Wicked (also known as the Wicked Witch of the West). Lana dresses skankily as often as she does dowdy, mixing it up as a bandit for our most recent Christmas party, Little Red Riding Hood, a male pirate when all her fellow females were attended as slutty wenches or slutty pirates (or slutty Tiger Lilys!), and Cher.

And on the other side of the coin, there’s Jackson, who was the scantily clad Adam to my Eve. When I suggested deviating from Captain Planet (for which he tried to convince me to let him wear just body paint. To a work do? I don’t think so!) to Adam, he said he’d go as whatever I wanted him to provided a) I organised the costume and, b) he got to show off some skin. He spends most nights in the gym, so what not flaunt what he’s worked hard for?

Around Halloween time, I read an article on sexy costumes for men, and how there are none. At least none that focus on the man as a sex object; rather, they suggest he’s the recipient of sexual favours from women:

“When men go sexy, it means joking about how men should be sexually serviced, have access to one night stands, or being in charge of and profiting from women’s bodies. A different type of ‘sexy’ entirely.”

For a man who’s confident—not cocky—in showing off his body (he’s even tossing up [pardon the pun] becoming a male stripper as a way to pay for a helicopter flying course), Jackson as Adam is certainly one to add to the seemingly non-existent “sexy male costume” column.

I find these attitudes to gender and costuming refreshing. Personally, as much as I talk the anti-gender stereotyping talk, I prefer to dress hyper-femininely, especially when it comes to costumes. Honestly, I guess I’m scared of coming across as anything less than “female” and whatever that means these days. I enjoy showing off my face, hair (which is why I chose to leave it out instead of wrapping it up in Rosie’s polka dot bandana) and body. I wish I were confident enough to buck this all-too-common trend amongst women and get my drag king on every now and then. In fact, my back-up costume if Adam and Eve fell through was Michael Jackson, so maybe I’m not as frightened about tapping into my masculine side as I thought.

While I’ve already got my Halloween costume in mind for this year’s festivities (Gloria Steinem undercover as a Playboy bunny: you can’t get much more hyper-sexualised than that!), perhaps this year I will resolve to step out of the one-slut-fits-all box and try something a little less feminine…?

Related: ’Tis the Season…

Elsewhere: [Ms. Magazine] What Do Sexy Halloween Costumes for Men Look Like?

Magazines: The Protester May Be Time’s Person of the Year, But SlutWalkers Aren’t.

 

It’s been a couple of weeks since Time’s Person of the Year issue came out and it, along with the majority of 2011, was all about The Protester.

The Arab Spring, Occupy and SlutWalk took centre stage in news stories across the world throughout 2011, however Time chose to focus on just the former two, with only one small mention of SlutWalk’s Toronto origins on page 52, “The Protest Network”.

While SlutWalk may not have inspired as much change as The Arab Spring did (it remains to be seen how influential Occupy can be, but it seems like it’s been making headlines for sexual assault and police brutality rather than any real change on Wall Street and amongst the world’s 1%), it was still certainly headline making and, personally, greatly affecting.

Occupy has no real vision nor authority in charge to determine what is to eventuate from the protest, while each SlutWalk was pretty well organised and had a clear expected outcome, whether that was reclaiming the word slut, ending victim-blaming, or simply raising awareness that what a woman was wearing when she was sexually assaulted or harassed has no bearing on why she was targeted.

Call me biased, but I think SlutWalk should have had a more prominent position in Time’s protester issue.

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

Elsewhere: [Time] People Who Mattered in 2011: The Protester.

Image via Time.

On the (Rest of the) Net: Catch-Up Edition.

 

Raising awareness about breast checks, one superheroine at a time. [io9]

Ladies of the year: Taylor Swift VS. Lady Gaga. Who do you choose? [Girl with a Satchel]

Why women fear the “n” word in relationships: “needy”. [Jezebel]

“The Turned-On Woman’s Manifesto.” Amen! [Turned-On Woman’s Movement]

How to talk to women, for men. [MamaMia]

Gah! Anti-vaccination extremists. Why are people like this allowed to promote views like that? Oh right, that pesky little thing called “freedom of speech”… [MamaMia]

Are you a woman and do you love your body, damned what conventional norms say you should be feeling about it in an effort to appease other women? Then sing it, sister! [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Wow. Mia Freedman offers some throwaway fashion advice to her 5-year-old daughter; shitstorm ensues. I think it’s a bit of an overreaction, but each to their own. [MamaMia, Fat Heffalump]

Male body objectification: in comparison to female body objectification, is it even a thing worth worrying about? [Lip Magazine]

Atheism = nihilism? [New York Times]

The latest trend in protesting: the Muff March. [MamaMia]

While we’re on the topic, is pubic hair making a comeback? NSFW [Jezebel]

Stop that booze-related victim-blaming. [Jezebel, via Feministe]

Who has late-term abortions? [Jezebel]

Hmm, Lego for girls? I’m not such a fan. What was wrong with the original, male-centric version, apart from the absence of female characters? We all know kids are imaginative enough to make toys whatever they want them to be. [MamaMia]

On beauty, failure and “this is the best I can do”. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

The pros and cons of anal sex. [Jezebel]

Are princesses really that bad, Naomi Wolf asks. [New York Times]

The Good Men Project for boys. [Jezebel]

It’s been just over a year since the St. Kilda Schoolgirl released those photos, and I’ve only just gotten around to reading this article by Anna Krien from The Monthly’s April 2011 issue on sex and the treatment of women in the AFL. Let me say, it was well worth the wait.

Even if you’re not espousing misogynist bile to women (on the internet or IRL), not standing up to it is just as bad, says Mark Sorrell. [Beware of the Sorrell]

Alyx Gorman defends Miranda Kerr, asserting that there probably is more than meets the eye, but she just “won’t let us see it”:

“Even more problematic than its existence in the first place is the fact that Kerr’s construct is damaging to women and girls. By looking and speaking the way she does (when she has other options in terms of presentation), Kerr is intrinsically linking sensuality with stupidity. She is demonstrating that being ditzy and appearance-obsessed (albeit under the guise of being healthy) is what it takes to be one of the most desirable women in the world. By refusing to express a well reasoned opinion on anything of note, and then pushing the point of self esteem, she is sending a message that the source of girl-power, of pride in one’s womanhood, must always be grounded not in who you are, but how you look. Kerr has crafted an image that is the ultimate expression of the immanence de Beauvoir railed against, and she has done so (I suspect) knowingly.

“Instead of being brave enough to show what a beautiful, clever girl looks like, to delve into the nuances of what it means to be a wife, woman, mother and object of desire, Kerr plays to our worst stereotypes of femininity, giving an organic-almond-milk 21st century update to the image of the perfect  50s housewife.” [The Vine]

The Breaking Dawn Bechdel test. [Lip Magazine]

What’s the difference between a rapist and a men’s mag? Hmm, you tell me. [Jezebel]

On being a recluse. [MamaMia]

The allure of the May-December romance… for the December, not so much the May. [The Good Men Project]

Image via io9.

TV: Top 11 TV Moments of 2011.

Paper Giants.

One of the best shows this year. Unfortunately, it only ran over two nights.

The Kennedys.

Wow. Just wow. I loved this miniseries that was cancelled by the History Channel in the U.S. because it allegedly portrayed the Kennedy family in too negative a light. Luckily, it was picked up by the ABC here. I am now officially in love with Greg Kinnear.

Go Back to Where You Came From.

Apart from Sarah Ferguson’s Four Corners expose on the meat industry (below), SBS’s Go Back to Where You Came From was the most groundbreaking television this year. Unfortunately, I don’t think it changed anyone’s minds about the plight of refugees in this country, because those who already empathise with asylum seekers were the show’s target audience, and those who think refugees should go back to where they came from snubbed the show.

Sookie & Eric Finally Get Together on True Blood.

While I’m more of a Sookie and Bill fan, and an Alcide-in-general fan, Eric’s turn as sensitive Sookie-lover in True Blood’s fourth season was a must-watch. But thankfully, the Nordic vampire is back to his old, heartless self.

Charlotte King’s Rape in Private Practice.

Private Practice is an oft-shunned show, in favour of its Seattle counterpart, Grey’s Anatomy, but season four dealt with abortion and rape particularly sensitively and realistically.

Four Corners’ Expose on the Meat Market.

This was probably one of the most talked about news stories in Australia, if one of the most poorly rated episodes of Four Corners. Not because people didn’t care, but because it was so hard to watch. It’s perhaps too soon to tell, but I think we are seeing a chance in meat practices in Australia because of this story.

The Slap.

I found one of ABC’s most anticipated shows of the year to be a spectacular letdown. I’d had Christos Tsiolkas’ novel on my reading list since it was released, however I missed out on reading it before the show premiered in October. Perhaps if I had read the book first I would feel differently about the show, but I found it to be stereotypical and tokenistic, and a massive disappointment from the screen version I had hyped up in my mind. Fail.

MamaMia Gets Its Own TV Show.

Probably not many TV watchers outside of the insular community of MamaMia and Sky News would have known about Mia Freedman’s lifestyle website making the switch to TV. I don’t have pay TV but, luckily, the shows are available to watch on the MamaMia website, YouTube and Facebook, where the panelists talk about all manner of things, like sex, mental illness, celebrity, porn, religion, parenthood and more.

Angry Boys.

I hadn’t watched any of Chris Lilley’s stuff before Angry Boys and, while a lot who had thought the show was a bit of a letdown, I really enjoyed it.

Housos.

Another one that was a bit hit-and-miss, I’d anticipated the show all year. While some moments were gold, others were just supremely unfunny.

At Home With Julia.

Finally, the cherry on top of a parody-tastic television year. I really enjoyed Amanda Bishop’s portrayal of Julia Gillard, but I still found the fact that there was a show about a sitting prime minister pretty offensive.

Any TV moments I missed here that you thought defined 2011?

Related: Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

My Response: Go Back to Where You Came From.

Private Practice: Pro-Choice?

The Slap & Men Who Cheat.

At Home with Julia: Funny or Disrespectful?

Music: Top 11 Songs of 2011.

“Born This Way”, Lady Gaga.

Before it was even released, the world knew that “Born This Way” was going to define 2011, if not for its controversial comparison to Madonna’s “Express Yourself”, then for Glee’s 90-minute special dedicated to the anthem. Gaga was accused of racism and plagiarism for the song, which spawned a website in which gay users can upload images and affirmations. Like it or loath it, you’ve got to agree that Gaga has her heart in the right place with this one.

“Friday”, Rebecca Black.

Ahh, the song that you can never get out of your head. While I think “Friday” is the work of a genius (Lady Gaga thinks so, too!) and enjoy bopping around to it, grabbing my bowl, grabbing my cereal, going to the bus stop, choosing which seat to take, I understand that the majority of the world doesn’t feel the same. But for a viral video, you’ve got to give the girl props for permeating the zeitgeist so.

“Rolling in the Deep”, Adele.

I’ve only recently gotten into Adele, but now that I have, I could listen to her voice for hours. Whether it’s “Someone I Used to Know”, “Turning Tables” or “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, as opposed to “Rolling in the Deep”, you can’t deny that Adele was everywhere in 2011. And she was warmly welcomed for her heartbreaking love songs and her alternative look.

“Party Rock Anthem”, LMFAO.

Up until a few days ago when I asked my friend April which songs she thought I should include in this list, I thought this song was called “Shuffling”! No matter; the whole world has picked up on the gist and beat of the song, and that’s all that really matters, right?

“Moves Like Jagger”, Maroon 5.

Another song that I was oblivious to until recently. Rather, I was oblivious to who sung it, even though the vocals of Christina Aguilera were unmissable. My awakening to “Moves Like Jagger” came the night of my birthday party, when a random partygoer likened my moves to being even better than Jagger’s!

“Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”, Katy Perry.

The song is somewhat forgettable, but Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” was all about the film clip, featuring the aforementioned Rebecca Black, some guys from Glee, Hanson, and Kenny G.

“(Run the World) Girls”, Beyonce.

While “(Run the World) Girls” isn’t by a long shot the best song on Beyonce’s latest album, 4, it was the one that set the ball rolling for total 2011 Beyonce domination. For my money, “Countdown” and “Best Thing I Never Had” are better, but the controversy the song stirred up and the film clip are what make the song rate.

“Somebody I Used to Know”, Gotye.

Until I YouTubed this song just then, I’d never heard it before. But I’d heard the hype surrounding it. While alternative Australian music isn’t really my cup of tea, it does invoke a certain nostalgia of music my parents would play when I was a child, like Cat Stevens and some others I can’t quite put my finger on.

“Super Bass”, Nicki Minaj.

If it weren’t for the Ellen show sensations Sophia Grace and Rosie, “Super Bass” wouldn’t hold such a special spot in my heart(beat running away)! Is that wrong…?

“On the Floor”, Jennifer Lopez.

This time last year J.Lo couldn’t have been less relevant. Whether it’s the calibre of “On the Floor” (one friend is particularly irked by the “Back it up like a Tonka truck” line from Pit Bull!) or her highly publicised divorce from Marc Anthony (how fitting that the title of her latest album should be Love?), J.Lo was back in a big way in 2011.

“We Found Love”, Rihanna.

Rihanna also had a big 2011, and it was hard to choose just one of her myriad of songs from the past year. I have a penchant for “Only Girl in the World”, which was officially released in 2010 but seemed to transfer over into 2011, and there’s also “Man Down”, “S&M”, “California King Bed” and “Cheers (Drink to That)” that were hits last year. And of course, we can’t forget the hullabaloo that resulted from the filming of the video for “We Found Love”. Farmers and Irish fields, anyone?

So which were your favourite songs of 2011?

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee‘s “Born This Way” Episode.

Battle of the Friday Anthems: Rebecca Black VS. Katy Perry.

Beyonce: Countdown to Overexposure.

Rihanna’s Man Down—Revenge is a Dish Best Served in Cold Blood.

Rihanna’s “S&M”: Is It Really So Much Worse Than Her Other Stuff?