On the (Rest of the) Net.

Dreams do come true! I now have my first piece up on MamaMia about labiaplasty and “designer vaginas”. Go check it out! Alternatively, you can read it here next week.

Feminist sites seem to be raving about the above video for Sauza Blue Tequila, in which a shirtless fireman with a kitten generalises the shit out of what women like and want. It makes me want to gag (the video, not the tequila!). So sexist. [Jezebel, MamaMia]

Wikipedia was seeking comment from users as to what pro- and anti-choice groups should be called on their site (you can see the results and arguments here). What do you think? What would you like the camp you belong to to be called? [Jezebel]

Why do Arab states hate women?:

“Name me an Arab country, and I’ll recite a litany of abuses fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend. When more than 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt—including my mother and all but one of her six sisters—have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty, then surely we must all blaspheme. When Egyptian women are subjected to humiliating ‘virginity tests’ merely for speaking out, it’s no time for silence. When an article in the Egyptian criminal code says that if a woman has been beaten by her husband ‘with good intentions’ no punitive damages can be obtained, then to hell with political correctness. And what, pray tell, are ‘good intentions’? They are legally deemed to include any beating that is ‘not severe’ or ‘directed at the face.’ What all this means is that when it comes to the status of women in the Middle East, it’s not better than you think. It’s much, much worse.” [Foreign Policy]

Hipster racism: but I was a racist before it was cool! [Jezebel]

Enough with the dead artist hologram craze. [Jezebel]

This Pulitzer prize-winning article by Wesley Morris examines why the Fast & the Furious franchise is so racially important:

“… The most progressive force in Hollywood today is the Fast and Furious movies. They’re loud, ludicrous, and visually incoherent. They’re also the last bunch of movies you’d expect to see in the same sentence as ‘incredibly important.’ But they are—if only because they feature race as a fact of life as opposed to a social problem or an occasion for self-congratulation… “… [U]nlike most movies that feature actors of different races, the mixing is neither superficial nor topical. It has been increasingly thorough as the series goes on—and mostly unacknowledged. That this should seem so strange, so rare, merely underscores how far Hollywood has drifted from the rest of culture.” [Boston.com]

Cheerleading in Australia: yay or nay? [MamaMia]

Check out the latest Twitter hashtag trend: #ReplaceBandNamesWithRape. Actually, don’t. [Twitter, Jezebel]

The curse of soapie sex. [TheVine]

Image via Our Stage.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

The male body image crisis. [Details]

“Geeks Get Eating Disorders, Too” [Jezebel, via Geek Feminism Blog]

“The Joys & Sorrows of Being a Misfit.” [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

“Princess Bitchface Syndrome” in politics, the media and celebrity culture. [Girl with a Satchel]

In defence of the feminist blogosphere:

“As writer Amanda Marcotte says, laughing in recollection, ‘We had a running joke about how every three months, another guy would publish a post about “Why don’t women blog?” And we would all comment, “We’re out here; fuck you!”’” [New York Magazine]

What the seventh billionth human, and babies in general, mean for the environment. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Ahh, my two MamaMia crushes in the one post: media wunderkind Sean Power on Sam de Brito.

Is there such a thing as “sexy” costumes for men? (More on this to come as the Christmas party season gets into gear.) [Ms. Magazine]

Still with costumes, next Halloween why don’t you go as your favourite victim of domestic violence?! [Ms. Magazine]

Think you’re too smart to care about beauty? Think again. [Eat the Damn Cake]

Drag queens VS. drag kings. [Rachel Rabbit White]

“A Tale of Two Rape Prevention Campaigns.” [We Mixed Our Drinks]

The problem with the Occupy protests: sexism. [Global Comment]

“Should Michele Bachmann Quit?” Probably, because “barring everyone else dying or converting to Islam, it’s pretty obvious at this point that Michele Bachmann will not be the Republican party’s 2012 Presidential nominee.” Yay! [Jezebel]

Birth control can apparently bring us world peace but, in the same instance, it makes sex bad. [Jezebel]

Choice, and the politics of being hot:

“Until the woman who doesn’t want to be seen as sexually available can go out with certainty that she won’t be harassed or ogled, your choice to turn heads and revel in attention is a privileged one. Until the woman who doesn’t prioritize appearance gets taken just as seriously in just the same contexts, it’s a privileged choice to achieve certain standards of beauty. You may be doing what you love, but you’re also doing what you’re told.” [XOJane]

Gah! Now this is enough to give me nightmares for the rest of my Halloweens: “Woman Trapped in Anti-Abortion Haunted House”. [Jezebel]

“Obamanalysis.” [New York Magazine]

Another black girl woman is filmed giving a blow job; heralded as “the next Amber Cole”:

“At this point, the most noteworthy thing about someone doing something with someone else’s privates is the fact that we still make such a big fucking deal about it. Yes, that’s a penis. Yes, that’s a woman’s mouth. Yes, that’s ejaculate. Let’s all carry on with our daily lives and quit acting like we’ve never seen a blow job before. Move along, folks. Nothing to carry on about here. Literally hundreds of people are getting blow jobs right this second. By the end of the day, thousands of people will have received blow jobs. Maybe you’ll get a blow job! Maybe you’ll give one. Maybe you’ve already given or gotten one today. But enough with the gathering, giggling, judging, and Tweeting.

“There are real things going on in the world. Kardashians are getting divorced.” [Jezebel]

Speaking of Kardashians, an attempt to decode them. [MamaMia]

Feminine hygiene product ads with actual blood in them! Who woulda thunk it? [Jezebel]

Don’t tell me to love myself:

“It’s a lot of pressure. Stop feeling unattractive! Just decide to love yourself! And then you’ll look good! If you look bad, it’s because you’re insecure. Get secure!” [MamaMia]

On being sex-positive. [The Pervocracy]

And masturbation means you’re gay, didn’t you know? [Feministe]

Also from Feministe, the “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street” gets all rapey,

Cheerleading is a sport, dammit! [Fit & Feminist]

Cutting off “gender studies” to spite “women’s studies”? [The Good Men Project]

Images via Details, New York Magazine.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

The disturbing, tragic life of Hustler’s Larry Flynt.

Dubai isn’t the pink-buildinged, “Middle-Eastern Shangri-La” of materialistic Sex & the City movies it’s made out to be.

“All Work, (Almost) No Pay” for the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders. Fascinating stuff.

The cult of Oprah.

The case for women to serve in combat roles in the armed forces.

Hypocrisy and “male narcissism” in “political sex scandals”.

Got a problem with SlutWalk? Finally, some solutions to make it better.

Also, for all you anti-SlutWalkers out there, This is What Slut-Shaming Looks Like”:

“1. Was I suppose to just take it in stride that random pervs found out where my little sister went to high school and speculated about whether she, too, would become a ‘whore’? An anonymous asshole emailed her last fall asking her that. Don’t tell me that’s normal criticism.

“2. What about the manufactured ‘scandal’ that Internet vigilantes began in hopes of getting my boyfriend kicked out of his Ph.D program? They decided to email the entire sociology faculty list. I was a junior at the time in the same department. Do you have any idea how incredibly difficult it is to force yourself to graduate when your professors have all read about how you’re supposedly being ‘raped’ on a regular basis? That is not criticism.

“3. Is trying to get me fired also normal? In 2009, when I was working for an education non-profit during my time off from Harvard, someone wrote a fake article about how my employer was so embarrassed to have hired a ‘porn blogger’. There were made-up quotes from ‘company reps’. They disseminated it online, not realizing that I actually told my boss about my blog during my initial interview. (He emailed me the article and totally had my back. It was one of the most touching things I’ve ever experienced from an employer, no joke.)”

I originally blew off Roseanne Barr’s New York Magazine take on sexism in Hollywood. But I read it this week and couldn’t recommend it enough. Great writing.

The Smurfette principle:

“Little girls learn to split their consciousness, filtering their dreams and ambitions through boy characters while admiring the clothes of the princess. The more privileged and daring can dream of becoming exceptional women in a man’s world—Smurfettes. The others are being taught to accept the more usual fate, which is to be a passenger car drawn through life by a masculine train engine. Boys, who are rarely confronted with stories in which males play only minor roles, learn a simpler lesson: girls just don’t matter much.”

This article on the sexual misconduct of AFL players from 2008 is just as pertinent today.

“In Defence of Prudes.”

“Women are pieces of art, men aren’t”?

What is the average Australian’s yearly income?

Sarah Ayoub-Christie writes her final post for Wordsmith Lane.

Why Psychology Today hates women.

How the celeb sex tape ruined America (NSFW).

Event: Derby Girls—Leaders of the Pack.

Last Saturday night, three friends and I braved the rain with broken umbrellas to see the Victorian Roller Derby League present Leader of the Pack, with underdogs Dolls Au-Go-Go taking on my team for the night, the Toxic Avengers.

This wasn’t my first foray into roller derby, but for one friend and her daughter, they were derby virgins.

For those of you who don’t have much experience with roller derby (and from what I’ve heard, that’s most people), let me give you a quick rundown, courtesy of the night’s program.

“Modern women’s flat track roller derby is full contact sport played between two teams in a competition called a ‘bout’. A bout consists of two 30 minute periods in which teams skate as many two minute ‘jams’ as possible. There are five members from each team on the track in each jam. The positions are:

The pivot is a block that wears a striped helmet cover and lines up in the front of the pack. She sets the pace and is the last line of defence against an opposing jammer.

The blocker wears no helmet cover and lines up behind the pivot. She plays offence and defence at the same time to prevent the opposing jammer from scoring points while clearing a path for her jammer. A blocker can legally block any member of the opposing team by using only body parts above mid-thigh, excluding forearms, hands and head.

The jammer wears the star helmet cover and lines up behind the jam line. She is the point scorer and after her first pass through the pack, she earns a point for each opposing team member as she passes. Lead jammer is decided by the first jammer to make it through the pack legally. A lead jammer can call of the jam at any time by making a ‘chopping’ motion at her hips.”

Aside from the rules and the all-women nature of the competition, roller derby is defined by two other features: kick-ass derby names (think Mother the Razor, Dolly Tartan and my favourite for the night, Kittie von Krusher) and “a rink filled not with size 0 blonde models, but with women of all shapes… who mostly looked like they had cut out of work early, changed into… [their ‘boutfits’] in the car, and made it to the track just in time for the game.”

While roller derby is technically a sport “for women, by women”, men also have a role, primarily as commentators, scorekeepers and umpires, all of whom were male for VRDL’s Leader of the Pack event. Far from being “cheerleaders”, “they have to be able to skate as well as the derby women” and they have to know all the rules. “These men have a profound respect for roller derby and the women involved.”

From where I was sitting (right up the front, thankyou very much!), this seemed true of the audience. It was a fairly even mix of everyday people (like moi), rockabillies and died-haired punk-rockers in platform buckle boots, without heckling from the male members of the crowd. I felt that everyone was there for a bit of fun, to support their favourite team and marvel at the athleticism of the skaters. Certainly, there was no expectation of “titillation”.

However, Vicky Vengeance of Because Sometimes Feminists Aren’t Nice, in this 2006 “Rant Against Roller Derby” says that most people believe roller derby is a feminist sport because “it’s ok [sic] for these Roller Derby players to play with their sexuality because sexuality is fun! It’s fun to skate around in a mini skirt kicking people’s asses!… Why should you have to look like a man to be perceived as tough and powerful?”

She goes on to say that:

“A lot of the advocates who I see talking about how badass Roller Derby is, think of the something like cheerleading as the most terrible sexist thing imaginable. And yet, cheerleading requires a tremendous amount of athleticism and involves a huge amount of danger and physical risk. Further, the costumes cheerleaders wear bear an uncanny resemblance to the Roller Derby costumes that I’ve seen. Are you going to tell them what they’re doing is any less empowering than what Roller Derby women do? Ok [sic] so cheerleading is ok [sic]. I sense the third wavers nodding.

Well let’s push it further: what about Mud Wrestling? You know, the game where a couple of women get semi-nude and roll in the mud duking it out at strip clubs to cheers and yells. I would argue that you can make similar types of arguments in favour of women’s Mud Wrestling as you could for Cheerleading of Roller Derby.”

Vicky Vengeance is right in her ethos; I would tend to agree that yes, roller derby is a sport based on what a woman’s body can do, as is cheerleading and mud wrestling. But one of the differences with roller derby is that hardly any of the women competing in the sport share the same body types as those who compete in cheerleading and mud wrestling. On Saturday, I would say that it was an even mixture of thin girls and bigger girls; girls with and without cellulite; conventionally pretty girls, and unconventionally pretty girls; girls with long hair and girls with short hair etc.

So Vicky Vengeance is somewhat correct, but I think that most people who attend roller derby do it for the fun factor, the spirit of competition, and the team atmosphere. Ask yourself this: do the majority of football-goers watch the game for the appearance of its players, or for the sport itself?

Just because it’s an all-female sport, it doesn’t mean it has to be reduced to stereotypical “all-female” issues.

For a taste of what the Leader of the Pack was like, check out this video, set to The Vines’ “Walk Idiot Walk”, by former roller-derby virgin, Christine, originally from her blog, Well?

This week’s The Big Issue also features roller derby (scans below).