Blake Lively, Gwyneth Paltrow and, yes, Beyoncé didn’t wake up like this. [The Cut]
The “coward’s punch” is far more rampant than violence against women, or so the current furore surrounding male street violence would have you believe. [Daily Life]
If porn stars could speak in schools, this is what they’d say. [New Statesman]
How Aussie Girls relate to their Lena Dunham-created counterparts. One of the best think pieces I’ve read about the show. [Kill Your Darlings]
Why we shouldn’t joke about incest in the wake of Lifetime’s Flowers in the Attic remake. [Here There Be Dragons]
Speaking of Flowers, is it anti-reading? [The New Yorker]
Was Sixteen Candles the blueprint for the Steubenville rape? [Bitch Flicks]
Can we separate the art from the accused-pedophile, Woody Allen? [The Onion]
Beyonce blogged about gender equality. [Mother Jones]
Sexualising violence against women. [The Guardian]
And while we’re on the topic, check out Yolanda Dominguez’s photo series of real women in model poses. Ridonculous!
Being a woman on the internet. [Pacific Standard]
Navigating teen witchdom. [The Lifted Brow]
I critique dick pics. [The Hairpin]
Not to discount Wendy Davis’ reproductive rights filibuster in Texas, abortion drug RU486 being added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and feminism trending worldwide thanks to Beyone, Miley et al. clamoring to claim the movement for themselves, 2013 was a very bad year for women. But what year isn’t, really?
On Valentine’s Day in South Africa, Paralympian Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead, claiming he thought she was an intruder. Abusive relationship whispers abounded, but all the media could talk about was that Steenkamp was a hot, blonde model, and many news stories didn’t even bother to mention her name.
While Melbourne woman (by way of Ireland) Jill Meagher was brutally raped and murdered in 2012, the trial of her killer, Adrian Bayley, dominated the Aussie news this year. It was revealed that Meagher was the latest in a long line of rapes and abductions spanning a twenty-year period due to the failure of the parole system. Bayley was sentenced in June to 35 years in prison.
Many of Bayley’s rapes were targeted at St. Kilda sex workers, which brings us to the murder of Tracy Connelly in her van on 21st July which made news in the wake of Bayley’s sentencing. Melbourne writer Wendy Squires furthered Connelly’s story by writing about the woman she never knew by name, but with whom she became friendly as she passed her in her neighbourhood most days.
In the mid-year political uprising in Egypt, up to 43 women were sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square, but they’re just collateral damage when the larger issue of political freedom is at stake, am I right? And while the brutal Dehli gang rape and bashing of an Indian student and her male friend which resulted in the student’s death from internal injuries happened late last year, 2013 has been rife with other sexual assaults. (It’s important to note that these are just the rapes that have been publicised and picked up by the Western media. Countless rapes have been and are continuing to be committed that we just don’t hear about.) Most recently, a 15-year-old Indian girl committed suicide after being gang raped six months ago.
The U.S. has seen a spate of woman-hating crimes come to light this year, too. In May, Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus and Berry’s six-year-old daughter were rescued from a house in Cleveland, Ohio after being held captive by Ariel Castro for up to ten years. At trial in August, Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus and addition 1,000 years. One month later, Castro was found dead in his cell.
The football town of Steubenville, also in Ohio, made worldwide headlines for the rape and kidnapping of an unconscious teen by members of the town’s high school football team. The teenaged victim, whose identity is protected, was transported from party to party whilst she was unconscious (resulting in later-dropped kidnapping charges, in addition to rape and child pornography charges), had photos taken of her and shared on social media, and had her case picked up by vigilante hacking group, Anonymous, which forced the authorities to take the case seriously. The teenaged perpetrators, Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays, were given the minimum sentences of one and two years, respectively, in juvenile detention while investigations have been launched into the role school officials played in covering up the case.
In another -Ville—Maryville, Missouri—two teenaged girls were raped by boys on their school’s football team… Sound familiar? One of the victims was left passed out on her porch in minus temperatures, has attempted suicide and allegedly had her house burned down as a threat. The case was dropped due to “insufficient evidence” but has recently been reopened as a result of public pressure.
Back at home, the deaths of two young girls and the abuse they suffered their whole lives at the hands of their parents were in the news. Kiesha Weippeart’s mother, Kristi Abrahams, was sentenced to up to 22-and-a-half years in prison in July for the murder of her daughter in 2010. Her partner, Robert Smith, was sentenced to a minimum of 12 years for being an accessory to the crime. It’s no excuse for the brutal murder of a six-year-old, but this Good Weekend article is a harrowing account of the cycle of abuse in the Abrahams family that Kiesha was a victim of. Also making headlines was the sentencing for the murder of toddler Tanilla Warrick-Deaves. Donna Deaves had earlier in the year been sentenced to 12 years in prison for doing nothing to save her daughter from the fatal beating inflicted on Tanilla by her partner, Warren Ross. Ross was found guilty of Tanilla’s murder on 5th December.
But probably the two take away moments of misogyny in 2013 are Robin Thicke, who has been named sexist of the year, for his rape anthem, “Blurred Lines”, and its accompanying god awful video, and the ousting of Julia Gillard from the prime ministership. Now, before all the MRAs get up me for deigning to insinuate that a poor leader shouldn’t stay in that role because she’s a woman, I’m not talking about just her ousting. It was everything leading up to that: the “Ditch the Witch” and “Bob Brown’s Bitch” placards; the sexist menu in which Gillard’s body parts were likened to meat; Alan Jones’ comments; the questions about her partner’s sexuality; the misogyny speech… Hell, Anne Summers didn’t write a book about it for nothing! I don’t necessarily agree with all of her sentiments, and she did make some bad decisions in parliament, but when we look back at Gillard’s time as the first female Prime Minister of Australia, there has been at least one positive development to come out of it: Gillard is now a feminist hero!
What have been some of the worst moments for women in 2013 that I haven’t included here? I would love to get your thoughts in the comments.
I’ve probably linked to this before, but in the week Beyonce secretly releases her musical (and video!) feminist manifesto, unpacking her views on women’s equality—and our views on her—seems particularly pertinent. [Bitch]
But can we really take advice about sticking it to beauty ideals from a woman who chucked a tanty over unflattering SuperBowl photos and curates her Instagram feed to within an inch of its life? [Double X]
In defence of the single girl. [Double X]
On being a “bad feminist”. [The Virginia Quarterly Review]
Yet more musings about American Horror Story: Coven and its uncomfortable attitudes about race: is it all about white guilt? [In These Times]
I wanted to cut and paste the whole paragraph on Rihanna’s “Pour It Up”, sexual and creative agency and slut-shaming, but since it’s a lengthy portion of the article, head on over and check the whole thing out for yourself: “‘Slut-Shaming’ Has Been Tossed Around So Much It’s Lost All Meaning”. [Jezebel]
Not since news of Wendy Davis’ reproductive rights filibuster broke the same day, Australian time, as Julia Gillard’s ousting as Prime Minister has Twitter seen such a flurry of feminist activity. This week, Peppa Pig emerged as our new leftist, Marxist, socialist, feminist hero. That is, until Beyonce dropped her latest album—replete with critiques on beauty, a sample of Nigerian feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s recent TEDx talk and 17 ready made music videos to go with—at midnight last Thursday (Friday afternoon Australian time) with no fanfare and the interwebs lost its shit. Oh, and then there was the Village Voice interview with Jim DeRogatis by Jessica Hopper about the decades-old sexual assault and child porn charges against R. Kelly that went viral and is finally seeing the singer being—rightly—harshly judged in the court of Twitter opinion in the wake of his critically acclaimed new album, Black Panties (gag me).
While I haven’t heard or watched Beyonce yet (an iTunes gift card is on my Christmas wishlist), I’ve been devouring all the think pieces on her, her album and her feminism. Critiquing pop stars’ feminism is one of my favourite things to do, so it’ll be interesting to see whether the 14 tracks and their copious accompanying clips live up to the feminist hype.
On the R. Kelly front, I’ve never been much of a fan of his: I’ve got “Ignition (Remix)” on my iTunes and I enjoyed a boogie to it at my work Christmas party before the resurgence of interest in his pedophilic tendencies. But I have to say I’ve enjoyed scouring Twitter and the wider ’net for other opinions on separating the man from the music, the racial elements of the allegations and why we give artists a pass.
As far as Peppa Pig goes, her moment in the feminist sun was overshadowed by Beyonce. But some feminists are still holding on to their fondness for the children’s propagandist cartoon: Van Bandham has made Peppa her Twitter avatar and at Cherchez La Femme’s Christmas event, Feministmas, last night in St. Kilda, writer Jessica Alice performed a poetic ode to the pig in what I thought was the highlight of the night.
And so, as Christmas approaches, we wonder what pop cultural presents Twitter will gift us next…
Related: The Year of Beyonce.
Last week Peppa Pig had a moment in the sun as a viral feminist icon… That is, until Beyoncé secretly released her apparent feminist manifesto cum visual album and collectively blew Peppa out of the water and our minds.
But it wasn’t just last week that Beyoncé made headlines; 2013 has really been the year of Beyoncé. Let me count the ways…
In January, Beyoncé performed at the second inauguration of US President Barack Obama and caused controversy when it was revealed that she lip synced her performance.
Also at the beginning of the year, GQ named the singer the sexiest woman of the century; never mind that we’re only 13 years into it. Inside the mag, ‘Yoncé talked about the unrealistic beauty ideals foisted on women by the patriarchy and lauded the importance of economic independence. Feminist debate ensued over her obviously feminist sentiments but her reluctance to call a spade a spade.
Come February it was time for the SuperBowl, and Mrs. Carter performed at the halftime show, which included the badly-kept secret reunion of Destiny’s Child. Yet more hullabaloo was stirred up as Beyoncé’s publicist requested that certain apparently unflattering photos be removed from the internet. Nice try, Bey.
This perfectionism that Beyoncé is so concerned with reared its head again in her HBO documentary, Life is But a Dream. While I found it quite inspiring to watch the process behind her art, you could see how heavily curated by Beyoncé the documentary was. Just like a live-action version of her Instagram feed…
Her Pepsi commercial came out in April and features some of her best known looks from her music videos—“Crazy in Love”, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” and “Bootylicious”—for a cool $50 million.
By mid-year Beyoncé was covering feminist title Ms. magazine, once again calling into question her feminist credentials. There’s not a copy of the cover story online, but head on over to Bitch magazine for a recent feature unpacking Beyoncé’s feminism.
Bey fever hit Australia, and in particular Melbourne, in October, as a photoshoot in Brunswick took over Twitter and the Tumblr Beyoncé in Brunswick went viral. I attended her concert at Rod Laver Arena and the $150 for nosebleed tickets was worth it.
That photoshoot would actually form the basis for the video for “No Angel” off her aforementioned self-titled, no-hype visual album. Never before has such a big star released an album—for which its 14 songs have 17 ready-made clips—with no promotion. As many a Tweeter has observed: take that, ARTPOP!
With the release of Beyoncé, Queen (or is it King?) Bey has certainly cemented her place as not only the biggest pop star in the world today, but someone akin to Michael Jackson, Madonna or The Beatles: an icon that has far surpassed her beginnings as an RnB singer in a girl group.