In the News: Hating Kony is Cool.

You could have only missed the YouTube documentary that went viral, Kony 2012, if you were living under a rock last week. It already has 74 million views and has been online for nine days.

While it’s all well and good that a documentary about child soldiers in Africa is getting the recognition it deserves and people are starting to take action to stop this, we have to ask why. Why now? Why this cause? Why?

Because it’s cool, of course.

Some commentators have been saying that Kony has been a force for evil for 35 years, so what’s getting everyone all hot under the collar about him now? Children being used as soldiers was no less bad 35 years ago than it is today.

Jason Russell, the brainchild behind Kony: 2012, worked on the doco for close to ten years. It’s great that a young activist is using the skills at his disposal to work towards a greater good, but there are so many other charities and causes out there that deserve recognition, too.

But on April 20, we’re going to be bombarded with posters and badges and volunteers stopping us in the street for our cash and urging us to watch the video, as if by then there’d be anyone who hasn’t seen or heard about Kony: 2012 and the Invisible Children organisation that runs it questionably spending money on documentary-making, when grassroots and on-the-ground activism would have put that money to much better use.

Why? Because it’s cool.

There are thousands upon thousands of charities and awareness-making organisations out there and have been for the 35 years it’s taken Joseph Kony to gain worldwide recognition. The reason everyone’s kicking up a stink about the warlord and his 30,000 child soldiers now is because it’s cool.

As Josh Kron and David Goodman wrote in The Age about the phenomenon this past weekend, “Some have called the video a pitch-perfect appeal to the so-called slacktivism, a pejorative term for armchair activism by a younger generation, often online.”

Now, I don’t agree that just because you’re young and use the internet as the primary means of publicising a cause it’s akin to “slacktivism”. Look at SlutWalk and the Arab Spring.

But I do agree that having all your Facebook friends and people you follow and who follow you on Twitter posting the video and pledging their money for the Kony: 2012 action kit (which is now sold out. They have some great marketers on their hands.) works as a kind of peer pressure to do something about it, too. When Rihanna and Taylor Swift and Angelina Jolie (though she promotes many a charity, with less-than-Kony results) come out in support of it, it must be totes cool. Because it’s not worth supporting a charity unless it’s a cool and popular one, right? Kony: 2012 is the new Pink.

I think we should be working towards a better world actively all the time or when and where we can, not when a fad YouTube video comes along.

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

Elsewhere: [The Age] The Warlord Versus the World.

[Marie Claire] The Big Business of Breast Cancer.

[Jezebel] Kony: 2012 & Invisible Children Are Funded by Anti-Gay Creationist Groups.

Image via Human Rights Now.

TV: Gossip Girl Takes Inspiration from Yet More Royals. This Time It’s the Grimaldis.

The 100th episode of Gossip Girl brought the much anticipated wedding of Blair Waldorf and Prince Louis Grimaldi, with interference by Chuck, Dan and Georgina thrown in there for good measure.

I didn’t think Blair would actually go ahead with the wedding, but she did, and it provided a chance for the show to channel yet more royals after Blair lost her baby in a car accident à la Princess Diana a few weeks ago and now, taking inspiration from Princess Grace Kelly’s progeny Prince Albert and Princess Charlene’s tear-soaked wedding last year.

The (fictional) fact that Louis is a Grimaldi is not lost on Gossip Girl, who sees Blair as somewhat of a modern day Grace Kelly. Louis tricked her into marrying him after she clearly expressed love for Chuck (Blair is not completely blameless; she “did the right thing” in marrying someone she thought she could “grow into” loving) and will force her to uphold her end of the bargain or risk her family’s bankruptcy in paying her dowry (what century is this again?) if she reneges on the marriage. Could a similar storyline be at play in Prince Albert and Princess Charlene’s real-life marriage?*

*Pure speculation.

Related: Gossip Girl: Blare Channels the Tragic Life of Princess Di & Gossip Culture is to Blame.

Images via International Business Times, Putlocker.

Mansplaining: I Got Served.

The other morning at work I was embroiled in a conversation about feminism with two male coworkers, one of whom I am very close with and whom I describe as a feminist even though he feels uncomfortable identifying as one, and the other who just started working with us.

The latter had been a stay at home dad to three young children until recently, and I got the feeling he wanted to brag about that. He recounted a story about how he was at the supermarket with said children and an old woman complimented him on pitching in to help with the kids and give mum a break (funny how women are never complimented for this; it’s just out duty). Somehow the conversation moved on to feminism, and my friend joked that he’d be a feminist’s worst nightmare. He then clarified, saying that he’d actually been called a feminist. The new guy scoffed, asking who called him that and if they knew what a feminist was. I butted in, saying it was me who called him a feminist and, yes, I know what one is. My friend attempted to defend my honour by saying that I’m a feminist blogger so of course I know what a feminist is. The conversation then somehow moved on to Popeye, of all things, and my colleague asked if my friend thought Olive Oyl was a victim or a slut because she kept flitting between an obsessed Popeye and the abusive Bluto. My friend ummed and ahhed his way out of the predicament while I stood there reeling.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation for the rest of the day. I didn’t know why, all I knew was that I felt about 100 shades of discomfort during and after the interaction.

Then I realised: when I was scoffed at for calling a man a feminist, I was being mansplained to.

From the background info above, this guy seems to subscribe to the virgin/whore dichotomy when it comes to women and that feminism is only the concern of someone who has a vagina. Perhaps because of his stay-at-home status he feels like he lives in a post-feminist society with his wife as the breadwinner being proof of this. I really don’t know, and I don’t care to. I’m uncomfortable around this guy, and I don’t want to have to justify my feminism to him. He obviously comes from a different generation and probably thinks he knows all there is to know about feminism because he took a gender studies class at uni that one time or read a book on the topic.

I know I’m being a bit harsh here, but he really got my back up over this. Do you think I’m overreacting or does being mansplained to make your blood boil, too?

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

On the (Rest of the) Net.

A roundtable interview with the women of Community. “They all cried… And they got their periods simultaneously!” [The Daily Beast]

Death of the porn star? [Daily Beast]

In the wake of the Rush Limbaugh slut-shaming debacle, Yasmin Nair writes “In Defence of Sluts.” [Jezebel]

And ode to Ryan Gosling. [HelloGiggles]

“Strip Club Feminism.” [MamaMia]

A Valentine’s letter to all girls from a boy who “likes you just the way you are” without “dress[ing] in revealing clothing… [and] try[ing] to fit in with the crowd” isn’t really a Valentine’s letter. It’s just “another guy telling girls how they should act in a world full of guys telling girls how to act.” [Jezebel]

Hating Madonna for the sake of hating Madonna. [The Guardian]

Like, OMG you guys? Have you heard about “uptalk” and “vocal fry”? It’s totally, like, awesome? (And yes, all those question marks are there for a reason. Click through to the article to find out why.) [NYTimes]

In defence of men’s magazines. [MamaMia]

Lady Gaga on baseball. [V Magazine]

More Madonna: she’s the difference between second- and third-wave feminism. [The Sisterhood, via Jezebel]

“When Women Don’t Want Daughters.” [Jezebel]

We’ve heard the argument that atheists have no moral compass, now being pro-choice means you apparently don’t have a conscience. [Jezebel]

Camilla Peffer writes on reverse sexism and being scared of men. Meanwhile, here are some tips for men on how to come across as less threatening to women on a dark street at night. [Girls Are Made From Pepsi, Jezebel]

What makes internet trollers tick? [News.com.au]

Images via Dan Harmon Poops, Metatron’s Trunk.

In the News: Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word Revisited.

I know I only wrote about this earlier in the week, but since then, Mia Freedman has published a great article on MamaMia calling for an end to the torrent of abuse being hurled at Yumi Stynes for her comments about Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith last week.

Freedman’s no stranger to this kind of abuse, which she asserts is exclusive to women, in which their appearance, sexuality, sensuality and family are attacked. Where’s the similarly-themed attack on George Negus?

And because Stynes is part Asian, you can bet much of the abuse is centered around her race.

This great article on ABC’s Ramp Up talks about a Herald Sun headline that stated “Yumi So Sorry”; where’s the public moral outcry surrounding that?!

But what really gets me is how all these people who are saying these horrible things about Stynes were initially outraged about her saying an apparently horrible thing. Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black? It reminds me of militant pro-lifers blowing up abortion clinics and murdering abortion providers; um, hello?!

What do you think of the blatant double standards of political correctness in this country (which the Ramp Up article talks about pitch perfectly) and what’s happened to Stynes?

Related: Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.

In Defence of Mia Freedman.

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

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Why the Abuse of Yumi Stynes Must Stop.

[ABC Ramp Up] Right Wing Political Correctness & “Outrage” Double Standards.

Image via Ramp Up.

Event: Happy International Women’s Day!

As a woman and a feminist, I just wanted to give a quick shout out and wish all Early Bird readers a Happy International Women’s Day!

I don’t have anything special planned blog-wise for today, as I strive to write about women and gender issues on a daily basis. International Women’s Day, to me, is about raising these issues in a forum where people who don’t necessarily get to hear and read about them can.

But you should definitely skip on over to Lane Change, where you can pledge to “give the ladies some love” by dedicating a Facebook status or Tweet or blog post or conversation to feminist and gender-related issues that speak to you, donate to a women’s charity, or   talk about your feminist heroes, amongst other things.

Sing it, sisters (and brothers who a sympathetic to the cause)!

Image via Lane Change.

In the News: How the After-Birth Abortion Study Trivialises Actual Abortion.

I don’t put a huge value on life.

Let me clarify: while I value my own life and the lives of my friends and families and try to make them as meaningful, pain-free and just as I can, I don’t see death as the big bad thing it’s made out to be. I don’t have a problem with suicide or euthanasia; if someone deems their own life not worth living due to (mental or physical) illness, then that’s their prerogative. When someone dies, it is sad, but it allows a new life to be created. These opinions won’t win me any friends, but they’re mine and I own them.

But when a study was published last week claiming that mentally newborn babies and foetuses have the same non-conceptualisation of their lives, I was outraged.

Abortion is my pet issue. I will attend rallies, talk and blog about it til the cows come home in an attempt to make sure abortion is available to all women all the time, no questions asked. I don’t believe a foetus is a life until it can survive outside the womb independently of its mother, therefore it doesn’t really apply to my above notions. To give it the same rights as a living, breathing person who is completely viable outside of its host human is insane. (Only in the U.S. does an embryo get more rights than most other people who live on this planet and not in the womb.) Once it’s outside of the womb it’s a human being, in my opinion (and those of most medical practitioners), not one minute before. That’s when the above notions apply.

But to insinuate that a zygotic blob taking up residence in another person’s body and a living, breathing, crying baby that has emerged from said other person’s body as a fully-fledged human are essentially the same and should be “aborted” with reckless abandon is an insult to anyone who’s had an abortion or believes in the right to have one. It trivialises the very real plight of women who find themselves pregnant when they really don’t want to be.

Because of my above views, some people think it’s okay to say things like “Justin Bieber should have been aborted” to me, when the topic of Bieber’s personal views on abortion comes up. While I don’t particularly like Bieber, using abortion as a retaliation for his small-minded views is abhorrent and, again, trivialises the process women who don’t want biological children (at that time or ever) have to go through. It’s not exactly easy, and women lucky enough to have access to reproductive healthcare shouldn’t be shamed or joked about because of it.

Have you read the study? What do you think of equating newborns with foetuses?

Elsewhere: [Sydney Morning Herald] “After Birth” Abortion Outrage.

[Jezebel] 6 Reasons Justin Bieber is Qualified to Talk About Abortion.

Magazines: Rachel Bilson Jumps on the Slut-Shaming Bandwagon.

Rachel Bilson has been caught slut-shaming in the latest issue of Lucky magazine. From Jezebel:

“It would appear that Rachel Bilson has taken up some part-time work with the purity police after she took a dig at any woman who dare expose her slutty back, chest and thigh skin. Sitting down to discuss the important things in life with Lucky magazine – shopping, of course! – she confessed that she’s not a fan of wearing dresses that are short and backless with a plunging neckline because she’s afraid of looking like a filthy harlot. ‘I guess I’m not too crazy about slutty dresses,’ she said. ‘You try something on, and if you feel like a slut, you probably look like one.’”

Mmm, because the dress she’s wearing above isn’t slutty at all…*

*I don’t actually think the dress Bilson is wearing in the picture above is “slutty” at all, whatever that means. I think she looks very nice and classy, but it was the “sluttiest” picture of her I could find in which she was representing herself, not a character or a brand for a magazine.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Rachel Bilson Thinks Women Who Wear Revealing Dresses Are Total Sluts.

Image via Short Skirt.

In the News: Angelina Jolie’s Right Leg & What it Tells Us About Youth & Beauty.

One of my sleazeball colleagues asked me who I thought was the best dressed at the Oscars, pretty much as an excuse to fill me in on his “hot for teacher” J.Lo feelings. Inevitably, the subject of Angelina Jolie and her right leg came up. Some coworkers who joined in the conversation were sure she knew what she was doing. I wagered that if she did, she was probably making a tongue-in-cheek statement about her standing as a sex object. Perhaps that’s just how she felt comfortable (after all, all we heard was how comfortable the black velvet Atelier Versace dress was), or knew she was rocking it and wanted to show off.

Whatever Jolie’s reasoning, apparently she’s “too old” to be showing off her legs like that, according to abovementioned coworker. “It’s not like she’s 16,” he said. No, because if she was sixteen it would be highly inappropriate. “36 is just too old” to be wearing a dress like that. Not only are there some deep-seated pedophilic tendencies coming to light here, but it just reiterates society’s predilection for youth and its sexism. We’ve all heard about that study that says women don’t feel comfortable wearing a miniskirt over the age of 35. Paging Jolie…

Personally, I think my legs are my worst feature, but many women love their legs. They’re one of the only body parts that don’t sag too much with age, and can be bared when tuck shop lady arms and age spots apparently set in. My grandma will be 90 this year and she still maintains her legs are her best feature. Obviously I didn’t inherit varicose veins from her!

And 35 being too old to flash some leg, even if you are one of the world’s sexiest women, is bullocks, indeed!

I think Jolie looked bangin’, if a little staged, and should continue to rock the flesh-baring gowns til the cows come home. You go, girl!

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] 47 is Too Old to be Wearing a Bikini. Oh Bullocks.

Image via The Telegraph.

In the News: Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word.

So I know Yumi Stynes and George Negus’ comments about Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith’s brain capacity and skill in the sack were so last week (heads up: tomorrow’s post is equally last week’s news. Hint: Angelina Jolie’s leg.), but I haven’t read much in the media about the aftermath.

For those of you not familiar with what happened, Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith appeared on Sunday Night where he revealed he and his wife used IVF to conceive their twin daughters. In the days following, the story was picked up by Ten’s morning show, The Circle, in which Stynes commented on the above image on Roberts-Smith in the pool, asking if he was looking for his brain on the bottom of it. Now, Roberts-Smith is a pretty impressively ripped guy and we all know the trope goes that if you’re a beautiful person, you can’t be smart as well. Negus followed that up by this ambiguous statement:

“I’m sure he’s a really good guy, nothing about poor old Ben… But that sort of bloke, and what if they’re not up to it in the sack?”

To me, that insinuates that not only might Roberts-Smith be dumb, but that he’s obviously on steroids and we all know how that can affect performance “in the sack”. Stynes went on to summarise: “… he could be a dud root?”

Last Wednesday night, Negus and Stynes went on The Project to publicly apologise, and reveal that they also spoke to Roberts-Smith via telephone to apologise and that all is good between the three parties. I thought Stynes came across as genuinely embarrassed (rightly so) and apologetic. Negus… not so much.

The friend I was watching it with at the time said Negus is apparently a big proponent of free speech and it was clear he was only apologising because the higher-ups wanted him to save face. Fair enough if what he said was actually something he believed in and didn’t feel the need to apologise, but it was pretty obvious that the presenters on The Circle were just engaging in some mindless banter and they probably don’t actually believe what they said.

But one headline I read or saw on TV (can’t remember which one) asked “is [saying sorry] enough?” Well it has to be, doesn’t it?

If someone is genuinely sorry, like Stynes and, to a lesser extent, Negus, seemed to be, and they’ve made amends with the person they’ve upset and have learned from the situation and will, in future, think before opening their mouths, then there’s nothing else to be done.

This could be seen as a bit hypocritical coming from me who, two weeks ago, wrote that Chris Brown should be expunged from society for what he did to Rihanna, even though he has publicly apologised to the public and Rihanna. The difference is, his apology was orchestrated from above (arguably, so was Stynes and Negus’) and read from a teleprompter, and his behaviour hasn’t changed one bit since then. Just last week, he snatched a phone out of a fan’s hand for taking a photo of him and drove off with it! Also, he brutally beat his intimate partner, someone who loved and trusted him. He didn’t just make some thoughtlessly flippant comments about someone in the media he doesn’t know, as Stynes and Negus did. (There are some major double standards when it comes to this issue. For example, where was Daniel Craig’s apology when he said the Kardashians were “fucking idiots”? Meanwhile, Usher was forced to issue an apology when he was caught on tape saying he thought Brown should have some remorse over his attack on Rihanna when he was photographed jet skiing in Miami.) Sure, it was offensive to Roberts-Smith, his family, people in the military and many others, but they were just words. And a remorseful apology and promise not to say it again has to be enough.

Related: My Thoughts on Chris Brown.

FuckWalk: The Floodgates Have Opened.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Why Call a War Hero a Dud Root?

[Jezebel] Chris Brown Stole an iPhone from One of His Fans, Could End Up in Jail.

[Hello Giggles] I’m Not Okay with Chris Brown Performing at the Grammys and I’m Not Sure Why You Are.

Image via MamaMia.