On the (Rest of the) Net.

One Direction and performing straight-queer masculinity. [Daily Life]

Why India is the worst country in which to be a woman. [Daily Life] 

FOMO (fear of missing out) on YOLO (you only live once). I can totally relate to Mia’s predicament: at the moment I’m kind of experiencing a guilt or anxiety about not getting out and being social enough and doing things, but at the same time, as Mia writes, no matter how much you want to want to do something, you can’t force yourself to want to do it. So I’m taking solace in that fact. [MamaMia] 

I’ve been in two minds about the show in recent episodes, but looking back, I’m sad to see Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 go. [Jezebel] 

We need to talk to our partners about porn. [Jezebel] 

Gala Darling has some fab tips for getting inspired and your time organised as a blogger. For those of you who visit this site regularly, you’ll have noticed that I’ve been pretty slack with content over the past couple of months, and that’s because I’ve been so uninspired. Now, as I start to get back into the swing of things and I’ve made a concerted effort to get inspired and start thinking of blog and freelance ideas, I think The Scarlett Woman will start looking more like the blog you know and (hopefully!) love. Thanks, Gala!

Procrastination Proclamation.

From Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem:

“Writers are notorious for using any reason to keep from working: over-researching, retyping, going to meetings, waxing the floors—anything. Organising, fundraising and working for Ms. magazine have given me much better excuses than those, and I’ve used them. As Jimmy Breslin said when he ran a symbolic campaign for a political office he didn’t want, ‘Anything that isn’t writing is easy.’ Looking back at an article I published in 1965, even when I was writing full-time and in love with my profession, I see, ‘I don’t like to write. I like to have written.'”

I don’t want to make excuses for why The Scarlett Woman has been low on content lately, but if Gloria Steinem says it…

On the (Rest of the) Net.

What it’s like to be an empowered sex worker. Yes, they exist. [MamaMia]

Stella Young prefers to be called a “disabled person” than a “person with a disability” despite the government’s Reporting It Right guidelines, thank you very much. [The Drum]

A recent altercation with a friend over something I wrote about them on this here blog has formed the basis for an “Ask Rachel” post. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

The opinion piece in last Saturday’s Good Weekend by food critic AA Gill about how men think women should dress was one I skipped over—I don’t really need to read yet another article about what men think women should do. Lindy Alexander takes Gill to task for it, though, saving me from having to rummage through the newspaper stack in my pantry to retrieve said article and get all riled up about it. [Daily Life]

Leave Lindsay Lohan alone! [TheVine]

“The A to Z of Freelancing.” [The Loop]

On the older virgin. [Daily Beast]

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is the latest woman of note to shun feminism. [Daily Life]

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 Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

Image via Home of the Nutty.

12 Posts of Christmas: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

In the spirit Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favourite posts of the year in the twelve days leading up to December 25th. 

This one was written after Paper Giants aired on ABC in April, comparing the heyday of magazines with the impact of the digital world. You can read the original post here.

A few weeks ago, in response to ABC’s Paper Giants: The Birth of CleoMia Freedman wrote on MamaMia about her thoughts on the state of the (mag) nation and if magazines are still relevant and the amount of influence they wield in 2011:

“… Not that much excitement goes on in magazines anymore… [It’s a struggle to] get them [those who work on a magazine] to try and think about something that hasn’t been done before, something that will start a conversation and boost sales.”

Freedman compares pay TV’s Park Street, a The Devil Wears Prada-esque reality show about ACP’s head offices, featuring the editors of DollyCleoCosmoMadison and Shop Til You Drop, which received dismal ratings and poor audience response, to the critical success and brilliant take on Cleo in her influential heyday of Paper Giants. She says, “Gemma Crisp [editor of Cleo] explained the editorial process that a story undergoes from conception to publication. It takes a minimum of three months… When was the last time you waited three months for something? Life doesn’t happen in increments of months anymore. It happens in moments, in text messages, in Tweets. It’s fast and it’s relentless and if it takes you three months (or even three weeks) to get from thought to print then that’s just too long to retain the attention of your audience.”

When she puts it like that, Freedman makes me long for a simpler time, when I hung on the every word magazines published, as opposed to reading hundreds of articles a week, mostly on blogs, but also in magazines, in an attempt to stay on top of my blogging game.

Erica Bartle, creator of Girl with a Satchel and a former mag girl herself, says Freedman’s “blog-cum-website” “deals in what everyone’s talking about TODAY. It feeds off the 24-hour news cycle. And Mia’s own profile. And her opinion… It’s like a current affairs program for women online.” And now with MamaMia launching on SkyNews, Freedman’s brand is literally a current affairs program.

Not all blogs can operate this way. MamaMia has a team of bloggers, editors and techs who keep the site running smoothly which thus, as Bartle said, allows it to operate on a 24-hour news cycle.

Personally, I have a part-time paid job I go to four times a week, this means I only get to blog two or three days a week, and with so much info to process and a maximum of 15 posts per week to churn out in a small amount of time, this means I can’t always post as early and as often as I’d like.

But even for those who blog fulltime, like Bartle, it’s not always about what’s happening right NOW as it is about maintaining the blog’s integrity.“I personally operate on a different plane, because my beliefs very much inform my work. For that, I’m willing to sacrifice certain economic constraints,” she says.

Still in the blogging world, you have someone like Gala Darling, who is very much a self-made businesswoman as a result of her über-successful blog of the same name. She’s gone from strength to strength over the past few years; something she could never have done had she been a magazine editor (bar the select few, like Anna Wintour, Anna Dello Russo and yes, Freedman).

But, essentially, MamaMia has the advantage of possessing “a figurehead with credibility whose background is in traditional media. She has the gut instinct of an editor. Online you need news nous as well as technological nous and business nous.”

Another editor who has these qualities in spades is former Cleo and Girlfriend editor, Sarah Oakes, whom Bartle worked under at Girlfriend. Bartle says she invoked an atmosphere of ghosts of magazines past, creating “camaraderie, creativity and positivity, which I think she achieved. She gave you more work if she thought you could be stretched; gave you a talking to if you had crossed a line; gave you a pat on the back for a job well done.” Very Ita-like, wouldn’t you say?

Oakes is now editor of The Age Sydney Morning Herald’s Sunday Life supplement, a title which has improved markedly since she took over. (I have also blogged here about how I think both Girlfriend and Cleo became better titles under her leadership.)

In fact, newspaper inserts are giving the glossies on the newsstand a run for their money, as they “are getting exclusives and have strong writing and design teams, as well as columnists and styling/shoots. These free weekly titles, because of the mastheads they reside within, have enviable readerships and access to celebrities. They are also respectable, well executed and FREE,” Bartle notes.

But at the end of the day, are magazines relevant?

Freedman writes:

“The internet has not only sucked up their readers, it has also gobbled up their purpose: to be a way women form tribes and communicate. Now there’s YouPorn and any other number of sites for titillation, Google for questions about sex, and any number of websites or free newspaper magazines if you’re looking for other types of content or a magazine-style experience. Women don’t want to be spoken TO anymore. They want to be part of the conversation, something which the internet allows, in fact depends on… the internet has taken the sting out of the raunch-factor for mags like Cosmo and Cleo.”

Yes, as Freedman says, there are much raunchier locales to get what would have been included in a sealed section only a few years ago. There’s also Perez Hilton, TMZ and even shows like Entertainment Tonight and E! News that monopolise celebrity content, while the fashion blogs are more of a go-to for what kids are wearing these days.

Sure, Vogue’s always going to be a premiere source for high fashion shoots from photographers the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Patrick Demarchelier and David LaChapelle, but magazines “seem to exist on a strangely distant planet where all the people look like plastic and the sole pursuit is ‘perfection’. Except that perfection doesn’t really exist,” says Freedman.

When sites like JezebelCover Girl Culture and, yes, MamaMia and Girl with a Satchel are debunking photoshop myths and striving for more realistic representations of women in the media, magazines are doing this movement any favours. (Except maybe Brigitte.)

And when you can get most of a magazine’s content online anyway (I passed on a near-$20 copy of US Harper’s Bazaar in favour of accessing interviews with Kim Kardashian and Hillary Clinton on their website), are they really worth it?

Bartle doesn’t think so. “No, but they need to be distinctive from what we can get online or elsewhere if we are going to part with $5-$10 to purchase one. Premium magazines, which I have no qualms spending extra on, include The Gentlewoman and O The Oprah Magazine, because they cater to my tastes, sensibility and need for a good read on a Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea.”

I agree with Bartle’s sentiments.

While online is great for content from individuals not curated and/or watered down by magazines editors to fit the mold of their magazine, holding a truly great glossy in your hands, like the appeal of a physical book, while at the hairdressers, a café or tucked up in bed, means magazines will always hold a place in our hearts.

Right next to the Kindle and Google Reader.

Related: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

Everything They Touch Turns To Gold.

Evolution of the Bookshop at The Wheeler Centre.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Paper Giants VS. Park Street: Why Magazines Are Not What They Used to Be.

[MamaMia] MamaMia Gets a TV Show.

[Girl with a Satchel] Homepage.

[Girl with a Satchel] Mid-Week Media Musings.

[Gala Darling] Homepage.

Event: The Blogging Economy.

Last Tuesday night I attended the Meanland event, The Blogging Economy, at the Wheeler Centre.

The panel was hosted by Zora Sanders, deputy editor of literary journal Meanjin, and consisted of ThreeThousand editor Penny Modra, journalist for New Matilda and Crikey, among others, Ben Eltham, and Jacinda Woodhead, associate editor of Overland, who is working on a PhD in the politics of abortion. Count me in for that one when/if it gets published!

I was expecting a bit more content on how to make money from your own blog, in terms of advertising, but I was pleasantly surprised with the advice and opinions Modra and Woodhead, especially, had to give on writing for other blogs for money.

Modra said she insists on paying for contributions to her Melbourne city guide website, even if it’s just a small amount (around $25 for a 100 word review/preview), as that’s all she has to work with as editor of ThreeThousand.

But such a small amount of money for such a small amount of words doesn’t mean you can slack off: Modra’s had freelancers submit previews for gigs, in which they didn’t even Google the address of the venue to make sure it was correct! She muses that “words should cost more” to counteract this but, by the same token, “everything you do has to be good… I just want the writing to be good!” How else do you expect to make it in the freelance/blogging economy?

Woodhead brought up The Huffington Post, soon to launch in Australia, which sold to AOL for $315 million, and who doesn’t pay their contributors. She urged Australian freelancers and bloggers not to write for them, because if they can afford to be sold for mega millions, they can afford to pay their contributors. Fair’s fair.

Some of her other points, though, I didn’t agree with. I’ve always been someone to follow my dreams and find a way to “make it work”, as Project Runway’s Tim Gunn would say. Woodhead believes, however, that “just because you want to do something, doesn’t mean there’s an economic system to support it.” This didn’t go down too well with the audience, and one woman asked Woodhead to clarify her statement in the Q&A portion of the event.

She also asserted that the blogosphere is “evolving” into a “discussion”; it’s not like traditional print in that you pay the writer to actively inject their views and opinions into the passive audiences’ brains (if you were going with the high school media studies model of the hypodermic needle theory of consumption). At the Overland blog, they don’t—because they can’t afford to—pay their bloggers, but Woodhead wonders, if you pay bloggers, should you pay commenters for their contribution?

My money’s on no. Most of the comments I get here on The Scarlett Woman do further the discussion, but this isn’t true of a lot of other blogs. Also, I think the more successful the blog/blogger, the more it/they attract the psychos! Especially when it comes to the more controversial topics.

Eltham spoke about a recent study that showed that artists in Australia—including writers—earned less than $10,000 for their work. It’s a bleak outlook, indeed, but I refuse to be disheartened! It just means you might have to supplement your artistic income with a less-artistic day job. Or marry a rich sugar daddy!

But, seriously, the unpaid blogosphere is about “citizens engaging in democratic discussion” that doesn’t always happen in paid writing. For every Gala Darling, there are 10,000 (probably more!) languishing bloggers going nowhere. And that’s fine; maybe that’s the way they want it. Hobby blogging!

We didn’t get into writing for the money. If that were true, we’d be in the business of hedge fund managing or some other über-rich-sounding Americanised profession. We got into it for the love of the craft; for getting our voice out there and, for some, making a difference.

I refuse to hop on Woodhead’s bleak bandwagon, and subscribe more to Modra’s sunny outlook: if your work is good, recognition for said work will come.

Related: The Evolution of the Bookshop at the Wheeler Centre.

“Who the Bloody Hell Are We? The Sentimental Bloke at the Wheeler Centre.

Is There Really a Beauty Myth?

Elsewhere: [Meanjin] Homepage.

[The Thousands] Melbourne.

[Overland] Homepage.

[Girl with a Satchel] An Unpopular Culture Niche (+ HuffPo of Oz).

TV: Gwyneth Paltrow Addresses Tabloid Culture & Her Haters.

 

Normally—bar her inaugural appearance as Holly Holiday on Glee—I can’t stand Gwyneth Paltrow, but on last night’s Glee, she made some valid points.

When addressing the glee club’s hecklers, she admits that “we live in a culture that bombards us with images of these people who are richer than us, and happier than us and have more interesting sex than us”. Perhaps she could have factored in a Goop reference, instead of talking inappropriately about sex to 15-year-olds? Like, “… People who drink more free range, organic goats milk chai lattes with fair trade cinnamon than us.” Or, “… People who own more $53 fly swatters than us.”

She takes aim particularly at the “internet haters”, which take the form of Becky, as an Entertainment Weekly chat-room member, Azimio, as a NCIS blogger, and Jacob, as a Tweeter who helped take down Mubarak.

Jacob says, “The internet has allowed us to be brutally cruel without suffering any consequences”, to which Gwyneth responds with a knowing smile.

As Jezebel notes,

“Online commenters definitely mock celebrities because they’re totally jealous, not because stars often say condescending things that are simultaneously obnoxious and rife for parody.”

Related: The Big Issue Review, 1–14 March, 2011.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Gwyneth Addresses the Internet Haters on Glee.

[New York Magazine] Reasons to Love New York 2010: Because We Love Gwyneth Just the Way She Is.