On the (Rest of the) Net.

period-power-tshirt-american-apparel

“If Men Could Menstruate” by Gloria Steinem. [Haverford]

Speaking of menses, if you like to wear your heart on your sleeve there’s now a t-shirt to celebrate getting your rocks off whilst on your period. Too bad it’s from the dubious American Apparel… [Birdee]

I’m going to Washington, D.C. in six weeks (New York in two and a bit!) and if the U.S. federal government shutdown is still in effect, Alyssa Rosenberg has compiled a list of non-governmental things to do in the city. [ThinkProgress]

Preorder your copy of Filmme Fatales issue three, in which I write about sex work in For a Good Time, Call…, along with many surely great pieces on feminism in film.

The season of the witch is upon us, what with The Witches of East End and American Horror Story: Coven premiering in the U.S. this week. The New Inquiry‘s latest issue is all about these supernatural ladies; subscribe for only $2 a month for all their witchy goodness. Some of the features are also available on their homepage.

Chris Brown was raped as a child; he was not “raring to go” and it was not “every boy’s fantasy”. [Feministing, Flavorwire]

Texas Governor Rick Perry claims his doddering wife “misspoke” and “put the wrong word in the wrong place” when she admitted that she thinks abortion should—or “could”—be the choice of a woman. It make me sick that Perry feels the need to infantilise and “correct” his wife for her apparent conversational faux pas because it doesn’t jive with his policies. Luckily there may be a new Governor on the rise for Texas, the unquestionably pro-choice filibustering Wendy Davis! [Feministing]

To rape-joke or not to rape-joke, that is the question. [Bitch Magazine]

Pop stars and “Naked Hot Body Fatigue”. [Jezebel]

Women in the World also discuss the feminism of Britney Spears’ “Work, Bitch”.

Image via Birdee.

Music: “Work, Bitch” as Feminist Anthem*.

britney spears work bitch rosie the riveter

Like Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Women, Part 1” and “Bills, Bills, Bills” before her, Britney Spears’ latest single, “Work, Bitch”, professes female autonomy and financial independence as supreme. A sampling:

“You wanna hot body
You wanna Bugatti
You wanna Maserati
You better work bitch
You wanna Lamborghini
Sip martinis
Look hot in a bikini
You better work bitch
You wanna live fancy
Live in a big mansion
Party in France.

“You better work bitch.”

Now, Britney and her songs have long stopped being coherent, and just as “Work, Bitch” could be seen as a feminist anthem for earning your possessions and accomplishments instead of waiting for a significant other to give them to you, it’s also a nonsensical club hit that could just as much be about getting your groove on on the dance floor. It does give off flavours of “Gimme More”, but less fully-realised.

But as with the abovementioned Destiny’s Child songs, there’s more to feminism than money. It’s great to be able to “buy my own diamonds and… my own rings”, and poverty is a major feminist issue, but it’s so easy to put a musical call out to women who make their own money to “throw your hands up at me” and disguise it as feminism.

Obviously I’m giving Britney and the hitmakers behind her far too much credit; her songs have never pushed an agenda other than being infectious ditties that get everybody up off their asses, with the exception perhaps of “Piece of Me”, a musing on the insatiable nature of the media and paparazzi. But appropriation, cultural and otherwise, is the trend du jour, so why not reimagine “Work, Bitch” as a feminist anthem?

*Written with tongue firmly in cheek.

Elsewhere: [Thought Catalog] Cultural Appropriation is a Bigger Problem Than Miley Cyrus.

[Jezebel] Robin Thicke Calls “Blurred Lines” A “Feminist Movement Within Itself”.

Image via Instagram.

The Changing Face of the Reality Singing Competition.

american idol judging panel jlo steven tyler randy jackson

There was a time, ten or so years ago, when American, and then Australian Idol, hit our screens and was judged by washed-up middle-aged music industry big wigs, like Simon Cowell, Mark Holden, Ian “Dicko” Dickson and the token female on the panel, Marcia Hines and Paula Abdul. These judges were mostly respected, if unfamiliar to Idol’s target demographic. Apart from Abdul’s “Opposites Attract”, I wouldn’t have known any of them from a bar of soap.

Not only was this before Britney, J.Lo, Mariah et al. demanded millions to sit in the judging chair, but it was also prior to the influx of talent shows; reality shows in general, really. Now we have a myriad of Got Talent’s, The Voice, The X-Factor and the truckload of former and current stars it brings with it.

x factor australia judges

For every Britney and Christina, whose careers have been languishing in the pop wasteland for the last few years and could be helped by a judging role, there’s a Nicki Minaj, whose choice to judge the latest season of American Idol in the prime of her career baffles me. And we can’t forget Jennifer Lopez, who was the epitome of irrelevance prior to taking on the gig, and is now once again one of the highest earning performers in the industry (thanks, in no small part, to her franchise of perfumes), deservedly so, as I saw her in concert last year and she is the consummate performer. Closer to home, Guy Sebastian, a reality singing competition winner himself, had a sprinkling of top ten and number one hits in the last few years, but really hit the big time with the Eve and Lupe Fiasco collaborations, “Who’s That Girl?” and “Battle Scars”, respectively, released after his turn as a judge on The X Factor.

x factor judging panel britney spears demi lovato simon cowell

So the “expert” record industry execs have pretty much gone the way of Dicko, albeit with the mainstays Cowell (The X Factor in the U.S.), L.A. Reid (ditto) and Randy Jackson from the original series of Idol, to make way for younger, sexier and more relevant, sometimes with an overhaul in between each season. And then there’s just the question marks that were obviously hired ’cause everyone else turned them down: Demi Lovato, Khloe Kardashian (tenuous) and, arguably, Nicki Minaj.

I think the new season of Idol’s focus on the feud between Mariah Carey and Minaj hinders not only the show (it’s about the TALENT), but also Nicki’s career in the long run. 2012 was perhaps Minaj’s strongest year to date, with “Superbass” being certified platinum, and “Starships” dominating the airways. While she’s never had a number one hit on the U.S. Billboard charts, Minaj was infiltrating pop culture at warp speed, so to her it might have seemed logical to dominate reality television as well. But, to me, singing competition judging panels are the domain of has-beens; people who’ve been down a similar road and can offer advice on the highs and lows of stardom. Who knows? Maybe Minaj will be the one to change that.

What do you think? Do you long for the no-frills early days of Idol, or are you all for big names on the judging panel overshadowing the talent?

Images via People, Wikipedia, Digital Spy.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

The “slut vote” is the reason why Mitt Romney didn’t win the presidency and instead Barack Obama was reelected to a second term. On a side note: WOO HOO! [Christian Men’s Defence Network]

And not only that, but the “black vote” kept that n-word in office. And some people have no shame in taking their racist views to Twitter to lament this supposed fact. [Jezebel]

Is Beauty & the Geek the most sexist show on TV? [MamaMia]

In defence of Caitlin Moran. [New Statesman]

Heterophobia in gay bars. [MamaMia]

Why Britney Spears needs a stylist. [TheVine]

The women of Friday Night Lights call out Mitt Romney for the unauthorized co-opting of the show’s “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” slogan. (Early Bird note: apparently you can lose, Mitt!) [USA Today]

In the spirit of Halloween just passed and, you know, the persecution of women and minorities since the dawn of time, take this quiz to find out whether you would have been accused of witchcraft in ye olden times. [BBC History Magazine]

Misogyny at St. John’s College. [Daily Life]

Why do people (namely black, female people) hate Nicki Minaj? [Jezebel]

Gala Darling’s account of surviving the Frankenstorm, Hurricane Sandy.

Mia Freedman’s News Ltd. column has been axed amid many other newspaper axings. She should have stayed at Fairfax, where they actually appreciate good journalism and authentic voices. Oh well, this means more of her at her namesake site, MamaMia! Yay!

A letter to conservative politicians from Just Another Rapist (*trigger warning*). [Whatever]

Image via Twitter.

TV: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Britney 2.0” Episode.

Did Glee really need to do another Britney Spears episode? As Artie pointed out, “we’ve scraped the bottom of that Britney barrel” but Britney’s made a comeback as judge on The X Factor broadcast on the same channel as Glee—Fox—so both shows are running with the Britney theme no matter how uninspiring she’s become.

Apparently New Directions “really came into your own during the last Britney week”, according to Mr. Shue, and what he says goes. Coincidentally, Brittany S. Pierce is undergoing a meltdown the same week the glee club resurrects her idol and namesake’s back catalogue. She’s feeling rejected by her long-distance lady love Santana, was kicked off the Cheerios and subsequently lost her high pony. Channeling Britney circa 2008, Brittany says if she can’t have her high pony then she doesn’t want any hair at all, and attempts to shave it off before attacking McKinley High’s resident paparazzo, Jacob Ben Israel, with an umbrella.

I appreciate the satire Glee is trying to undertake here, revealing that Brittany’s crisis—which culminates in Brittany getting busted for leading New Directions in a lip-syncing rendition of “Gimme More”, replete with Britney’s junk food of choice, orange soda and Cheetos—was her “intentionally hitting rock bottom… so I can make a comeback like Britney”, but they either push it too far bordering on racist, ableist, homophobic, sexist, inappropriate crap (case in point: resident Jesus-lover, Joe, singing Britney’s song about a threesome, “3”) or not far enough, as with last night’s episode as a whole.

Britney Spears’ tragic life is ripe for the picking—the recent revelation from former paparazzo turned Britney’s manager turned collaborator with Courtney Love on a musical about her and Kurt Cobain’s life together that Britney used to do crystal meth—so much so that Christie Whelan’s turn in Britney Spears: The Cabaret was the exemplar of how to do a Britney satire. Glee’s “Britney 2.0” was not.

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Britney/Brittany” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The Spanish Teacher” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Yes/No” Episode.

Glee: The Right & Wrong of It.

Glee: T.G.Inappropriate.F.

“This is a Story About a Girl Named Britney… I Mean Lucky!” Britney Spears: The Cabaret Review.

Images via Ch131.com.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes in defence of Hugo Schwyzer’s inclusion in feminism. Brilliant; it’s kind of what I wish I had written.

On Katherine Heigl’s failed career and women in Hollywood:

“Much has been said… about how Heigl herself has created the fiasco that has become her career—her alleged difficult behaviour on set, her unpopular public statements about the projects she’s involved in, her perceived irritability—but this has more to do with media gender bias than Heigl herself. For instance, Daniel Craig and Matt Damon have recently taken to making increasingly brash public statements about projects they’ve worked on, their personal politics and views on modern society—and no one has criticized them, questioned their box-office viability or used their gender to explain their remarks. Like Sean Penn, they’re men in an industry dominated by men—and unless they’re saying something overtly racist, they can say just about whatever they like, and in the case of Charlie Sheen, they might even be applauded for it.” [HuffPo]

Rick Morton attempts to dissect the “frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex” that is Rick Santorum. [MamaMia]

Madonna and black culture. [Steven Stanley]

The latest trend in YouTubing: asking viewers if you’re ugly. [Jezebel]

Rachel Hills on the launch of Sunday Life’s daily website, Daily Life, its viral pet name #DailyWife, and how women’s issues are relegated to the “lifestyle” pages:

“… I’ve wondered why everything pertaining to women is classified under ‘Life and Style’, and I’ve wondered why ‘lifestyle journalism’ is so often boiled down to advertorial for fashion and beauty products (answer: probably because the associated advertising is what pays for writers like me). I’ve wondered if the fact that writing related to gender politics is usually published in ‘Life and Style’ or colour magazine supplements contributes to the perception that… female journalists write pointless ‘pap’.” [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Why atheism is akin to being a pariah in the U.S. [Slate]

And now for the Chris Brown portion of the program…

Russell Simmons is a Brown apologist and compares his assault on Rihanna to the problems of Disney kids. Yeah, except Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Demi Lovato never hurt anyone but themselves. [Global Grind]

Why Brown’s behaviour sucks, this time from a psychological point of view. [Slate]

We failed the young ladies who tweeted they’d let Chris Brown beat them:

“We failed you when Charlie Sheen was allowed and eagerly encouraged to continue to star in movies and have a hit television show that basically printed him money after he shot Kelly Preston ‘accidentally’ and he hit a UCLA student in the head when she wouldn’t have sex with him and he threatened to kill his ex-wife Denise Richards and he held a knife to his ex-wife Brooke Mueller’s throat. We failed you when Roman Polanski received an Oscar even though he committed a crime so terrible he hasn’t been able to return to the United States for more than thirty years. We failed you when Sean Penn fought violently with Madonna and continued a successful, critically acclaimed career and also received an Oscar.

“We fail you every single time a (famous) man treats a woman badly, without legal, professional, or personal consequence.” [The Rumpus]

One of my favourite professional wrestlers, straightedger CM Punk, challenges Brown to fight someone his own size. [Jezebel]

And ANOTHER stand up guy challenges Brown to a fight! [Deadspin]

TV: Glee “Michael” Review—Oh My God Can’t Believe What I Saw As I Turned On the TV This Evening.

We’ve come to learn that when Glee devotes a whole episode to a star (Madonna, Britney Spears)—bar the second Lady Gaga episode—they pretty much go the Rock of Ages route: pack as many songs into the episode as they can without giving much thought to the dismal story lines developed in previous episodes.

I thought, in their “Michael” episode, they went the other way: using whichever Michael Jackson songs they had access to that resembled the character’s plotlines to insert into the show. Unfortunately, this meant such dull MJ songs as “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” and “Ben.”

 

Rachel Berry is included in both of these renditions, and she admits at the beginning of the episode that she’s never really “gotten” what Michael Jackson is all about like the other New Directions’ have.

It seems the Glee writers don’t really “get” him, either (although, do they really “get” anything?), because they would have used songs like “I Want You Back”, when Sam serenades Mercedes, instead of “Human Nature” (which is a stunning song and perhaps the only example of where the writers chose melody over meaning); and when Artie gets all riled up over Blaine’s rock-salt-infused slushie attack at the hands of the Warblers, “They Don’t Really Care About Us” might have been more appropriate than Michael’s duet with sister Janet, “Scream”:

“What do you expect from us; we’re people. I know the rest of the world may not see us like that but when they tease us and throw stuff at us and toss us in dumpsters and tell us that we’re nothing but losers with stupid dreams it freaking hurts. And we’re supposed to turn the other cheek and be the bigger man by telling ourselves that those dreams and how hard we work make us better than them? But it gets pretty damn hard to feel that way when they always get to win.”

 

By far the best performance was the Warblers’ Sebastian and Santana’s Michael-off of “Smooth Criminal”, featuring 2 Cellos, who played at Elton John’s gig and did the same version of the song!

And, for old time’s Michael’s sake, here are the other songs from the episode:

 

 

 

 

 

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Britney/Brittany” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Born This Way” Episode.

Rock of Ages Review.

My Week in Pictures 8th December 2011.

Images via Put Locker.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Did Madonna call Britney fat? [The Vine]

Clementine Ford’s take on the Australia Day protest hullabaloo. [ABC Unleashed]

And here, what really went down outside the Lobby restaurant. [RedStache]

All the single ladies: are you sick of continuously being asked why you’re single? Bailey Elliot is, too:

“Why is it socially acceptable to comment on someone’s single status, but definitely not OK to comment on someone’s relationship? There have been many times when someone has said something offensive to me, and I will look at their relationship and wish that I could fire something judgmental back. Some of the people who have said the worst things to me are the ones in the most dysfunctional relationships: married to a raging alcoholic who abuses pets while drunk, a patronising and controlling man, or a man who refuses to communicate in any real way. Are we so enamoured with the idea of marriage that we believe that any marriage, no matter how dysfunctional, is better than singledom?” [Jezebel]

Why is it that everywhere you turn (family restaurants, the gym, the bowling alley), there’s a Pussycat Doll spreading her legs, asks Mia Freedman. [MamaMia]

For the U.S.’s Black History Month, let’s remember that Rosa Parks did much more than just refuse to give up her seat on the bus. [Ms. Magazine]

What the?! The banning of naked A-cup adult breasts lest they promote pedophilia?! Granted, this story is two years old, but interesting nonetheless. [Crikey]

How to be a celebrity in this era of “16th minute”, “I am me”, reality fame. [New York Magazine]

The apparent conservative agenda of the Susan G. Komen foundation which has come to light in their refusal to funnel through donations to Planned Parenthood. [Jezebel]

It’s all happening in the world of MamaMia: no more SkyNews show, but an e-publishing sector instead! And deputy editor Bec Sparrow had a baby! [MamaMia]

Erica Bartle’s thoughts on the whole Melinda Tankard Reist debacle. I’m still ruminating over her post, and I might be back with a response of my own. [Girl with a Satchel]

Image via Pop Sugar.

Magazines: Dakota Fanning & Lea Michele’s Cosmo Covers—Why Are Anti-Child Sexualisation Activists Kicking Up a Stink?

Outrage has ensued after 17-year-old Dakota Fanning appeared on the cover of US Cosmo as their Fun, Fearless Female of the Year, which echoes the reaction to Lea Michele’s plunging neckline cover from the same time last year.

The difference is, though, that Michele is a 25-year-old and Fanning is 17. I’ve written before on letting grown women get their sexy on to their heart’s content, and I’m going to say the same thing here about Fanning.

While I do agree that her Marc Jacobs Lola perfume ad should have been banned (it was probably shot when she was younger than her 17 years, makes her look a lot younger, too, and suggestively places an oversized perfume bottle between her legs), Fanning looks no sexier on the Cosmo cover than she does on the red carpet. And did anyone see The Runaways?

As a 17-year-old young woman, she’s around the age a lot of teens start becoming sexually active. I was 15 when I started reading Cosmo (albeit the far more well-rounded Australian version) and became sexually active soon after. I’m not saying the two go hand in hand, but teens Fanning’s age are naturally sexually curious.

As some commentators have added, magazines buy images and interviews of stars from photo agencies, and very often the celebrities haven’t approved and have no idea they’re featured in certain mags. Fanning’s reps haven’t commented on the Cosmo cover, leading us to draw our own conclusions as to what she thinks of this hullabaloo.

Furthermore, Fanning’s a child star; how many fellow graduates have made a seamless transition into adulthood and being taken seriously as an adult performer? Lindsay Lohan? Britney Spears? The Coreys? Mischa Barton?

Considering Fanning’s—to my mind—tame outing on a young women’s magazine cover compared with, say, Nikki Webster’s attempt to be seen as an adult, I’d say she’s doing pretty well. No need to start panicking yet.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Is Lea Michele Too Sexy?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Lea Michele Just Can’t Win.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Disturbing Behaviour: Terry Richardson Does Glee.

Images via Eonline, CocoPerez.

Event: Britney Spears—The Cabaret Returns!

OMG, you guys! If you didn’t see Christie Whelan as Britney Spears last year at Chapel Off Chapel, you missed one of the best and most unique performances of the year.

Thankfully, due to popular demand, Britney’s back, bitch!

Even if you don’t like Britney Spears, this is a tongue-in-cheek look at the pop star who has perhaps defined the last ten years.

Whelan delves into Britney’s past relationships, her sexy image and her breakdown, rehab and father’s conservatorship.

I can’t recommend this show enough. I’m going a second time, and I’m attempting to drag everyone I know along. You should too!

Tickets are $30–$35, and the limited 11-date season begins 18th January.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] This is a Story About a Girl Names Britney… I Mean Lucky! Britney Spears Cabaret Review.

Elsewhere: [Chapel Off Chapel] Britney Spears: The Cabaret.

Image via Facebook.