Magazines: Men Have Issues.

Last weekend’s edition of Sunday Life was dubbed “The Man Issue”, and it gives a forum to men to talk about the things that bother them: namely, stay-at-home fatherhood being seen as feminine and “what women should know about men”, with one clearly more profound and less satirical than the other.

Packed to the Rafters’ James Stewart covers the magazine and talks about his new role as stay-at-home dad to baby Scout, with partner and former Rafters star, Jessica Marais. He admirably says:

“I don’t want to be an absent father…  And now my partner—who has a much larger profile than me, can make five times as much money as me—is hot right now… So it was kind of easy for me to go, ‘Just stop what you’re doing, hang your boots up for a little bit, support her 100 per cent and learn to be a father.’ It was a no-brainer, you know?”

Swoon.

The article touts Stewart as “poster boy for modern-day ‘manism’” [quotations mine], a movement which “liberates” men “from their traditional masculine roles”. Um, I think we already have a movement that works to break the shackles of gender normativity and promote equality between the sexes and it’s called feminism.

In a rare moment of sense from Ita Buttrose, she tells the magazine that “We used to say to women, ‘Make your choice, don’t apologise.’ Well, I think those messages need to be given to men.”

Here, here.

But where The Age insert undoes all its equality talk is in an article that precedes the cover story, about the facts women need to know about men, by former Zoo Weekly editor Paul Merrill. He tells Sunday Life’s primarily female readership that “as hunter-gatherers, housework is not a priority” (how about you hunter-gather some washing?!), and that men prefer famous people who actually do stuff. You know, ’cause women aren’t capable of admiring anyone except the Kardashians. And speaking of that über-preened family, women must remember that “looks aren’t everything”:

“To a woman, the most important thing in any situation is how something looks—her hair, make-up, shoes and house… Who cares!… It’s not being slobby, it’s being less shallow.”

What do I think Merrill needs to know about women? We’d prefer to share the burden of housekeeping, we don’t only read if it’s a gossip mag or 50 Shades of Grey (which he infers in not so many words in the piece), and we don’t like to be called shallow for being well-presented. And where would Merrill be without the latter? Certainly not the editor of a lad’s mag.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Hot Pants & Slut-Shaming. Would You Like a Cardi With That?

Image via Sunday Life Facebook page.

Feminism, Jackie O & C*nts.

 

The weekend newspapers really produced their fair share of thought provoking articles, with Jacqueline Maley’s exposé on the word c*nt, and Jackie O’s anti-feminist and pro-Kyle Sandilands outing in new-look Sunday Life.

The first article was an entertaining read, detailing the historical responses to the word c*nt which, when it was a street name in London in the 13th century (albeit in the red light district), suggested a sort of acceptance in the old world. PC run wild in the modern day one, perhaps?

Maley also writes of the feminist connotations of c*nt, and why it’s deemed acceptable in some circles (“Hey, c*nt!” as a term of endearment) and not in others.

Personally, it’s just a word to me, like “fuck”, “slut” and a plethora of other expletives that can be used to offend. While the article insists on writing it “c…”, as per The Sydney Morning Herald’s editorial guidelines, I guess I’m doing the word no favours in its quest to become destigmatised: even though I use it quite often and in affection, I still asterisked the “u” out.

*

On to the apparent “Better Half” of Kyle Sandilands, Jackie “O” Henderson, who unshockingly somewhat excuses Sandilands treatment of women on his show. In last year’s “fat slag” journalist controversy, Henderson stayed mum, saying in the article that, “I wasn’t about to beat up on my friend when the rest of the country was, just to save my behind. So I did keep quiet.”

So it doesn’t surprise me when Henderson say she’s not a feminist:

“Does she consider herself a feminist? ‘No,’ she says, with a shy smile.

““Why?’ I cry in disappointed tones. ‘You’re a woman.’

“‘I know,’ she says, laughing. ‘I know. I do feel like I have achieved so much, in radio especially. But I’ve never considered myself a feminist. I’m just, you know, I’m doing what I love. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come. But … you know.’”

Yeah, we do. You’re embarrassed about the stigma being a feminist has, much like the connotations of c*nt. But someone who’s best friends and business partners with a man who uses his platform and influence to berate women on air for all manner of things—their appearance, their sexuality, their opinions—is not someone I want standing under the feminist umbrella.

Related: Who Thinks Jackie O’s Parenting Style is Beautiful?

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

Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Slutty Stride.

Elsewhere: [Sydney Morning Herald] The Incredible Explosive Word.

[Sydney Morning Herald] What Jackie O Really Thinks About Kyle Sandilands.

[MamaMia] A Letter to Jackei O & All the Other Non-Feminists.

Image via Facebook.

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.

Magazines: People’s Sexiest Man as Relationship Counselling Tool?

 

In this weekend’s Sunday Life, Clem Bastow writes about Ryan Gosling and celebrity crushes as being good for a relationship.

The article got me thinking about how Ryan Gosling—who’s held a soft spot in most women’s hearts since The Notebook, but has really launched himself into the ideal man stratosphere in 2011, with his “Photoshopped abs” and busting up fights in the streetlost out to People’s Sexiest Man Alive Bradley Cooper in this year’s contest.

Bastow’s article heavily focuses on the (imaginary?) war between these two, which I find quite interesting. In my mind, Cooper has remained irrelevant this year, bar The Hangover Part II and his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it alleged fling with a newly single Jennifer Lopez. Perhaps if this was 2009, Cooper would have rightly won the competition. But how can you compete with Feminist Ryan Gosling, rescue dogs, faux tattoos, Emma Stone and that drawling, brooding thing Gosling has going on?

I’m not even a Ryan fan, per se, but I can see People made the wrong choice.

What do you think? Cooper or Gosling? Or someone else? Should we even be celebrating the rating of a man’s sexiness? (If it’s based on looks alone, which I believe Cooper’s win is, then perhaps it’s not such a good idea. But sexiness encompasses a whole host of qualities other than how a man looks out of his shirt, and Gosling certainly possesses said qualities.)

Elsewhere: [Sydney Morning Herald] Can a Crush Be Good for You?

[Feminist Ryan Gosling] Homepage.

[Jezebel] Watch Ryan Gosling, Hero, Break Up a Random Street Fight.

[Jezebel] Heroes Protest Ryan Gosling Losing “Sexiest Man Alive” Title Outside People Offices.

Image via Feminist Ryan Gosling.

Magazines: Just Because You’re Beautiful Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Have an Opinion.

 

I’ve encountered this thinking before.

At a feminism debate this time last year, Gaye Alcorn scoffed that Mia Freedman, Sarah Murdoch and Kate Ellis shouldn’t be the faces of (and brains behind) the Body Image Advisory Group because they happen to be physically attractive. Like, sorry that they have good genes, but should that make them any less qualified to comment of feminist issues? I thought we were working towards an all-inclusive feminism…

Anyway, similar views were brought up in last weekend’s Sunday Life magazine by Vivian Diller, who wrote in “Face Values” that perhaps Kate Winslet, Rachel Weisz and Emma Thompson aren’t the best advocates from Hollywood’s anti-plastic surgery movement because they don’t need it.

Diller writes:

“Women like Winslet, Weisz and Thompson can afford—financially and otherwise—to oppose surgery. They were blessed with good genes as well as limitless opportunities to care for their physical selves.

“… Do these famous—and gorgeous—celebrities need to be so sanctimonious about it all?

“… Surely this anti-cosmetic surgery movement is related to larger issues that go beyond film stars, celebrities and the morality of altering their images in life or on the screen…”

I’m sure most actresses, models and regular people don’t need cosmetic surgery, per se, but it seemed like everyone else was doing it. Now there’s an outlet for those who have similar outlooks to beauty as Winslet et. al. to just say “no”.

Thoughts?

Related: Has Feminism Failed?

Is There Really a Beauty Myth?

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.

Magazines: All the Single Ladies.

 

I’m in the process of shopping around a freelance article on Coupledom VS. Singledom. Partly because I actually believe in the benefits of flying solo, and partly to make myself feel better as a long-term single!

But reading Georgia Clark’s article in Sunday Life this weekend was just what I needed to hear. Or see. You know what I mean.

She quotes the poster-girl for single life, Carrie Bradshaw (God help us all!), who once said, “Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.” Wise words indeed.

But Clark raises another very interesting and valid point: what makes someone’s single status gossip fodder for everyone they know?

She writes:

“We know that when you tell us we must be too smart, or too funny, or even too damn attractive for most men—to the point it sends them running screaming in fear—you are trying to flatter us.

“But the majority of such comments are rooted in the assumption that there’s something wrong with us. We’re too picky. We’re too independent. We’re not out there enough. Or we’re out there too much—we need to relax and let it happen. We’re not doing that. We’re not letting it happen.

“You know what? There’s nothing wrong with us. Actually, we’re just fine.”

Personally, I think long-term singles make the coupled up, or the perpetually-boyfriended (jumping from one boyfriend to the next), nervous. We’re not “normal”, according to someone’s warped idea of what constitutes “normal”. We don’t conform to societal norms, and quite frankly, we’ve got more important things going on in our lives than who’s going to keep us warm at night. I keep my own damn self warm at night!

But if you really want to get back at those who seem so invested in your personal (read: love) life, why don’t you try what Clark suggests:

“So while single people may not have a partner, this means we have time to excel in other areas: pursuing our dream job, hobby or bod. (Anecdotally, it seems that singles hit the treadmill more often than their coupled-up counterparts.)

“If you’re still convinced that our singledom needs to be constantly referenced and lamented, imagine this: svelte Liz joins you at lunch, and in the whisper of a co-conspirator says, ‘I just don’t know why you’re a little pudgy.’ Her brunette head shakes in disbelief. ‘You just don’t seem like a size 14. So, really, when do you think you’ll lose those few extra kilos?’ You glance nervously at the Kit Kat in your hand and stutter out, shocked, that you don’t know.

“‘Don’t worry,’ Liz says, patting your hand gently. ‘It’ll probably happen when you least expect it.’”

Cruel, but oh so effective!

Related: My Name’s Scarlett, And I’m a Fat-Shamer.