Manning Up.

This post originally appeared on The Good Men Project.

“Man up, mate.” “Don’t be a pussy.” “Grow some balls.”

How many times have we heard these phrases—hell, sometimes we’ve been the ones dishing them out—aimed at the men we know and love?

I’ve been guilty of it myself, when a male friend cries to me on the phone about a failed relationship or bemoans a difficult co-worker/friend/family member and won’t just confront them about the problem. I don’t always say, “Just man up and do something about it!” Sometimes I just think it, which still isn’t ideal.

A recent spate of shows in the U.S. are cottoning on to this “masculinity” crisis, where men use “pomegranate body wash” and are at the mercy of the women in their lives:

“Among them are How to be a Gentleman, in which a metrosexual writer hires a trainer to dewussify him; Last Man Standing, with Tim Allen as a sporting-goods-company executive beset by girly men; Man Up, in which a group of male friends worry they’ve lost touch with their inner warriors; and Work It, in which two guys dress in drag to land jobs as pharmaceutical reps.”

This is nothing new, though. Scholars have long been lamenting “The War Against Boys”, which is also the title of Christina Hoff Sommers’ book on the topic.

But when we/society tell men to “stop being such sissies,” we’re sending the message that anything associated with “femaleness… [is] so insulting that men should react with full outrage,” Jill Filipovic writes on Feministe.

So how are these messages affecting actual men, not just those on fictional American TV shows?

When I asked a couple of my guy friends how they feel when told to “man up,” they replied as follows.

Eddie, 25, says because he “still does kiddy stuff like collect comics, people tend to think one of my faults is being a pushover. I also tend to be pretty open with my emotions. I can’t tell you the true meaning of ‘man up’, because everyone carries different reasons as to what makes someone a ‘man’. I, myself, will not ‘man up’ because I don’t think I need to and haven’t for a long time.”

Andrew, also 25, says, “I think there are men and women who, no doubt, find ‘man up’ offensive, because there are plenty of women who embody courage, fortitude and strength more than plenty of men. By the same token I think there are plenty of men who would find being told to ‘man up’ harrowing, because they lack confidence in their masculinity or cannot even define what the term means to them.”

As I wrote on this here blog last year, I have a real problem with the term “as it implies that simply being a man is equivalent to being courageous.” I, like Andrew, know a lot of women with more “balls” than their sack-packing counterparts. But talking about the role-reversal of women who possess “courage, fortitude and strength” as if they are purely masculine traits is damaging, too. We need to get over this gender stereotyping business and accept individuals for who they are, regardless of gender. (This way of thinking applies to the understanding of transgender people, too.)

We also need to get rid of this “disconcerting… focus on dominance and submission” in gender relations. On the other side of the coin, “stop being such a girl” comes to mind.

Hugo Schwyzer recently bemoaned the “real women” trope and how that has now been transferred onto men:

“Men are not immune from the pressure to be ‘real’. It’s been nearly 30 years since the tongue-in-cheek bestseller Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche spoofed an earlier generation’s Guy Code. But today, the ‘real men’ trope is everywhere. ‘Real Men Don’t Buy Girls’ is Ashton and Demi’s campaign to shame pedophiles, replete with the unspoken implication that ‘real men’ never have to pay for sex with women of any age …

“When I ask my students at the beginning of my Men & Masculinity course about ‘real men’, I get responses like, ‘real men aren’t afraid to show affection,’ or ‘real men like to dance,’ or ‘real men can cry in public and not care what anyone else thinks.’ My students want to subvert the traditional ‘sturdy oak’ model of masculinity. They mean well. But all they’re doing is swapping one unattainable ideal for another. Just as ‘real women have curves’ delegitimises countless slim women, ‘real men aren’t afraid to cry’ shames those men who for any number of reasons are awkward about public displays of emotion. The contemporary ‘real man’ ideal presents itself as inclusive, but it’s just another cultural straightjacket.”

So what is a “real man” according to… erm… real men?

Eddie thinks there’s a difference between being a “good man” and a “real man”:

“‘Man up’, for me, means being the best man you can be. Being selfless, being kind, being adult enough to handle responsibility while never taking yourself too seriously.”

While those traits may be what Eddie views as “good man qualities”, for the next guy they could be polar opposites. Being a good man is in the eye of the beholder, it would seem.

For me, respecting people and, especially, your significant other is paramount to “manning up” (or “human[ning] up”, as Irin Carmon puts it): being able to exert your opinion and standing up for what you believe in without the use of violence.

As Filipovic continues: “There is something very, very wrong with a masculinity premised on violence.” Where are men getting these messages that violence and aggression = machismo? (Um, years of socialisation and the media come to mind…)

For the founders of The Man Up Campaign, a “global initiative that engages youth to stop gender-based violence”, this ideal seems to be the consensus. “‘Our call to action challenges each of us to “man up” and declare that violence against women and girls must end,’ its mission statement reads.”

As recent as 50, 20, even ten years ago, being a “man” involved a large portion of physical aggression. And, despite feminism’s and gender equality’s best efforts, a look at many mainstream representations of men in the media, that stereotype still rings true today.

But if we can, through initiatives such as The Man Up Campaign, make it so that being called a “pussy”, like being called “gay,” is nothing to be ashamed of, even just for one person, then I think it’s a job well done.

After all, pussies push small humans out of them so they can’t be all that weak!

Related: Newspaper Clipping of the Week: Man Up.

Elsewhere: [The Good Men Project] Manning Up.

[Jezebel] Why Are Men Feeling So “Manxious” About The Rise of Women?

[Time] High Manxiety.

[Feministe] Masculinity Crisis.

[Jezebel] Stop Telling Men to “Man Up”.

[Jezebel] Real Women Have… Bodies.

[The Man Up Campaign] Homepage.

[New York Times] On Language: The Meaning of “Man Up”.

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: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] 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.

On the (Rest of the) Net: Catch-Up Edition.

Raising awareness about breast checks, one superheroine at a time. [io9]

Ladies of the year: Taylor Swift VS. Lady Gaga. Who do you choose? [Girl with a Satchel]

Why women fear the “n” word in relationships: “needy”. [Jezebel]

“The Turned-On Woman’s Manifesto.” Amen! [Turned-On Woman’s Movement]

How to talk to women, for men. [MamaMia]

Gah! Anti-vaccination extremists. Why are people like this allowed to promote views like that? Oh right, that pesky little thing called “freedom of speech”… [MamaMia]

Are you a woman and do you love your body, damned what conventional norms say you should be feeling about it in an effort to appease other women? Then sing it, sister! [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Wow. Mia Freedman offers some throwaway fashion advice to her 5-year-old daughter; shitstorm ensues. I think it’s a bit of an overreaction, but each to their own. [MamaMia, Fat Heffalump]

Male body objectification: in comparison to female body objectification, is it even a thing worth worrying about? [Lip Magazine]

Atheism = nihilism? [New York Times]

The latest trend in protesting: the Muff March. [MamaMia]

While we’re on the topic, is pubic hair making a comeback? NSFW [Jezebel]

Stop that booze-related victim-blaming. [Jezebel, via Feministe]

Who has late-term abortions? [Jezebel]

Hmm, Lego for girls? I’m not such a fan. What was wrong with the original, male-centric version, apart from the absence of female characters? We all know kids are imaginative enough to make toys whatever they want them to be. [MamaMia]

On beauty, failure and “this is the best I can do”. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

The pros and cons of anal sex. [Jezebel]

Are princesses really that bad, Naomi Wolf asks. [New York Times]

The Good Men Project for boys. [Jezebel]

It’s been just over a year since the St. Kilda Schoolgirl released those photos, and I’ve only just gotten around to reading this article by Anna Krien from The Monthly’s April 2011 issue on sex and the treatment of women in the AFL. Let me say, it was well worth the wait.

Even if you’re not espousing misogynist bile to women (on the internet or IRL), not standing up to it is just as bad, says Mark Sorrell. [Beware of the Sorrell]

Alyx Gorman defends Miranda Kerr, asserting that there probably is more than meets the eye, but she just “won’t let us see it”:

“Even more problematic than its existence in the first place is the fact that Kerr’s construct is damaging to women and girls. By looking and speaking the way she does (when she has other options in terms of presentation), Kerr is intrinsically linking sensuality with stupidity. She is demonstrating that being ditzy and appearance-obsessed (albeit under the guise of being healthy) is what it takes to be one of the most desirable women in the world. By refusing to express a well reasoned opinion on anything of note, and then pushing the point of self esteem, she is sending a message that the source of girl-power, of pride in one’s womanhood, must always be grounded not in who you are, but how you look. Kerr has crafted an image that is the ultimate expression of the immanence de Beauvoir railed against, and she has done so (I suspect) knowingly.

“Instead of being brave enough to show what a beautiful, clever girl looks like, to delve into the nuances of what it means to be a wife, woman, mother and object of desire, Kerr plays to our worst stereotypes of femininity, giving an organic-almond-milk 21st century update to the image of the perfect  50s housewife.” [The Vine]

The Breaking Dawn Bechdel test. [Lip Magazine]

What’s the difference between a rapist and a men’s mag? Hmm, you tell me. [Jezebel]

On being a recluse. [MamaMia]

The allure of the May-December romance… for the December, not so much the May. [The Good Men Project]

Image via io9.

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.

Attack of the cupcakes!:

“… Badassery and toughness aren’t mutually exclusive with cupcakes. A woman can go home from her power-suit-wearing corporate job and unwind in front of Cute Overload. A ‘supermom’ can enjoy a vintage cocktail—and even wear a vintage apron, if she wants to—without becoming squishy and ineffective…” [Feministe, HuffPo]

Gloria Steinem’s not the feminist hero we think she is, according to Suzanne Venker. [National Review Online]

The Catholic Church respects women more than feminism? Laughable. [National Catholic Register]

Erica Bartle writes on the perils of being a Christian in a sometimes-misunderstanding world. I don’t think what she’s experiencing is a uniquely “Christian” thing. (More on that next week.) I abhor organised religion, but I still feel “hyper-sensitive”, as she puts it, to the small-minded bigots around me. I think it comes down to what kind of person you are, regardless of religion and faith, which aren’t mutually exclusive.

I think you can still keep your “awesomeness”, “pride” and “talents” and fight like Mike Tyson (minus the ear-biting and sexual assault). Those are the things that make us good people, in my opinion. [Girl with a Satchel]

Gala Darling on how “to be the person in the photo, instead of the person looking at it.”

The Help from a porcupine and bumblebee’s point of view. You’ll get it from mine next week. [Jezebel]

In the wake of recent assertions that Hillary Clinton might have made a better president than Barack Obama, I came across this 2008 article pitting the “Madonna” against the “whore”; “the hard-ass” against “the lightweight”; “the battle-ax” against “the bubblehead”; “the serious, pursed-lipped shrew” against “the silly, ineffectual girl”; “the bitch” against  “the ditz”, and why the Clinton/Sarah Palin debate was a futile one. [New York Magazine, The New York Times]

It’s all about the discontent of young Asian women, and how they want to look more Western. [Gender Across Borders, Sydney Morning Herald, SBS Insight]

To the inconsiderate douches who use the word “rape” as a joke. Brilliant. [Lipstick Feminists]

“The Deficient Single Woman.” [Zero at the Bone]

Discrepancies in the way college men and women dress are lauded as anti-feminist by Lisa Belkin, while Amanda Marcotte contends the sight of a woman dancing in her underwear on Halloween doesn’t mean she’s a) not a feminist, b) going to insight yearnings of violent assault in all men who lay eyes on her, and c) dumb:

“Men are perfectly capable of being turned on by a woman dancing in her underwear while never forgetting that said woman has a family that loves her, a mind of her own, and ambitions that are equal to his.  We don’t allow men’s sexuality to dehumanise them in our eyes.  If a young man spends his weekends partying and flirting with women, and spends his time in the classroom pulling down As, we don’t see that as a contradiction. The belief that female sexual expression is uniquely dehumanising is a double standard, no matter how much you dress it up in feminist language.” [The New York Times, Slate]

Somewhat in response to Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman (I’m eagerly awaiting my copy in the mail), Jason Sperber tells us “How to Be a Man”. [The Good Men Project]

Baby Beyonce is inciting debate about motherhood, race, and “doing it the right way”. [Jezebel]

Gay marriage is a human rights violation of children to be brought up by a female mother and a male father. Hmm… [The Australian]

“Professor Feminism” and the “Chronicles of Mansplaining”:

“I’m pretty confident that Professor Feminism is not Professor Understands Sarcasm, either, so I’ll spell it out: The point of listening to women and feminists is to listen to women and feminists. Because if you listen to them, you might start to understand certain basic points, such as: Women do not automatically have to accept you as an expert, particularly not when the subject under discussion (sexism!) is something you’ve never experienced first-hand. Women do not have to make you ‘comfortable’ and ‘welcome’ in every single conversation. Women do not automatically have to grant you a space in their discussions, on their blogs, or in their lives. Women do not have to permit you to enter their political movements, their self-created spaces, their personal space, their bodies, or anything else that belongs to them; you, as a man, are not entitled to women’s attention, praise, affection, respect, or company, just because you want it. And when a woman says ‘no,’ you respect that this particular woman said ‘no,’ and you stop. You don’t make excuses, you don’t explain why you should be able to get what you want, you don’t throw a tantrum, you don’t call that woman names: You just stop what you are doing. Because she said ‘no.’” [Tiger Beatdown]

See here for another example.

What Adele… and Lil Wayne… can teach us about love. [This Single Life]

“I Thought Success Meant Wearing a Suit.” So did I. I used to fantasise about working on Southbank, wearing suits (I had a penchant for an imaginary hot pink one!) and carrying my files in a suitcase-on-wheels. My how the tables have turned. In my day job, I wear a uniform that I try to spice up every now and then with biker boots and studded flats, and for my unpaid blogging duties, it’s usually trackies or pyjamas. This morning it’s raining, so I’ve invested in some extra insulation with my dressing gown. What do you were that indicates “success”. (In no way am I equating my mundane daily grind with success. I loath my paid job. Just doing it to pay the bills.) [MamaMia]

The facts and fictions of television’s crime dramas. [Jezebel]

Apparently, “Confronting Men About Sexism Makes Them Nicer,” and from my experience, I believe it. [Jezebel]

Sarah Wilson contemplates stopping for optimism. What am I optimistic about when I have to stop? The last two bouts of gastro I had I used to lie in bed and catch up on box sets between running to the bathroom. I don’t have an excuse for doing this every other day!

Images via YouTube, Jezebel, BuzzFeed. Bump Shack.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

“If Male Superheroes Posed Like Wonder Woman.” [The Bleeding Cool, via Jezebel]

“An Open Letter to Fred Nile”, member of the Christian Democratic Party, who said the baby being expected by Federal Finance Minister Penny Wong and her partner, Sophie Allouache, has “human rights” and should not be brought up in a home with two mummies. [MamaMia]

The anti-child-model argument. And it’s a good one. [The Guardian]

The navel-gazing of the Gen Y writer. [Harvest Magazine]

Latoya Peterson “On Being Feminism’s ‘Ms. Nigga’”. [Racialicious]

The old Hollywood deception that was Rock Hudson. [The Hairpin]

The case for spoilers. I’ve been guilty of giving away the ending of movies and TV shows, saying things like “Oh yeah, and then it grows back” about Jessica’s broken hymen in her first sexual encounter—as a human or vampire—with Hoyt on True Blood, when I asked a friend which episode they were up to. Oh, you haven’t seen it? Whoops! [Jezebel]

The (Real Life) Help. [Jezebel]

And if The Help, the DSK case and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child have taught us anything, it’s that domestic workers are treated like shit. But hope may be on the horizon… [The Houston Chronicle]

As per Beyonce’s suggestion, a new word for feminism: equalism. Though one suggestion seems to have been submitted by Voltron… [Jezebel]

Where have all the good men gone? Not posting on Twitter thread #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend and not being all “Post Gender Normative”, that’s for sure! [Tiger Beatdown, McSweeney’s]

Reproductive rights, consent and organ/egg donation. [Feministe]

Feminism and superheroes conference in Melbourne? So wish I was there! [The Age]

Six myths about terrorists. [MamaMia]

It’s (not) all about popular(ity) at Girl with a Satchel.

Rachel Hills on motivation and the fear of failure. And success! [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Classism on True Blood. [Tiger Beatdown]

Caroline Da Costa on why we need RU486 (the “abortion drug”). [MamaMia]

A step in the right direction to welcoming asylum seekers to Australia. [MamaMia]

Still with asylum seekers, along similar lines as my post this week. [The Punch]

Larry David as “feminist hero”? [Jezebel]

“Revolution” is what we call riots we like:

“… Guilt ridden white first-world bloggers… love protests in Syria and Iran and elsewhere because they can cast those people, members of an alien culture, race, and religion, as the perfect representations of resistance while totally stripping them of the actual thorny reality of political rage. Theocratic preferences are stripped away; violent behaviour… is ignored; the re-instantiation of sexist Islamic doctrine within the structures of protest movements are conveniently elided. This is the way of all patronising attitudes from the overclass towards resistance: in order to preserve its romanticized view, it has to occlude the particular grievances and goals that make the protest meaningful in the first place….” [L’Hôte]

In the wake of the death of a toddler attacked by a pitbull, The Punch’s Anthony Sharwood decrees “pitbulls should all be killed. Every last one. It really is as simple as that.” Hmm, not sure I agree…

Do zoos have a place in 2011? [The Punch]

This profile on 2012 Republican presidential frontrunner Michele Bachmann makes me want to pray to the God she so staunchly believes in that there’s still a little bit of sense and belief in President Obama left in the U.S. [The New Yorker]

Image via Jezebel.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

“The Class Boundaries of Veronica Mars.”

Why the Body Image Advisory Group’s voluntary code of conduct didn’t work.

Rachel Hills on the internet, artifice and being fake.

“The New Middleton Class”.

Speaking of the Middleton’s, Melinda Tankard Reist takes issue with the admiration of Pippa’s ass online:

“The FB site provides an opportunity for men everywhere to share their sexual fantasies for the young maid of honour. Knock her up, bash her in, cause her injury such that she would not be able to walk. Wrecking and shredding a woman’s anus is a popular porn script.

“And all this is supposed to be accepted as a compliment. Of course there are no ‘Pippa the Wonderfully Supportive Sister Appreciation Societies’ or other pages lauding her gifts and character and other non-body related attributes.”

Bret Easton Ellis on the spectacle that is Charlie Sheen.

“Filling the Gaps” in the online feminist community’s “call-out culture”.

In what was Elizabeth Taylor’s last interview, with Kim Kardashian for US Harper’s Bazaar, she divulges her thoughts on living like a queen, the Krupp diamond and Twitter. I was never a fan of Taylor, but this interview made me one.

What does it mean to be a feminist today?

Is the male body “Repulsive or Beautiful?”

Ever been hollered at in the street as you walk past a construction site? “Why Men Cat Call” sounds interesting, but is disappointingly dismal.

Amélie sex (noun): intercourse undertaken in the classic missionary position which, by itself, is not objectionable—during which the male is impervious to the female’s lack of enjoyment.”

The bromance VS. Bridesmaids“Homance”.

Don’t give up your day job: “Freelancing on the Side.”

Images via I Just Have So Many Feelings, Sydney Morning Herald.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Rachel Hills discusses Naomi Wolf’s response to WikiGate here, whilst also doing a fine job of unpacking the fun for twenty-somethings = lots of casual sex myth.

On that, “How to Be A 20-Something”:

“Be really attractive. Your acne is gone, your face has matured without having wrinkles and everything on your body is lifted naturally. Eat bagels seven days a week, binge-drink and do drugs: you’ll still look like a babe. When you turn thirty, it’ll become a different story but that’s, like, not for a really long time.

“Reestablish a relationship with your parents. You don’t live with them anymore (hopefully) so start to appreciate them as human beings with thoughts, flaws and feelings rather than soulless life ruiners who won’t let you borrow their car.”

What Would Phoebe Do? on the pretentiousness of Francophilia:

“Gratuitously adding French words to conversation is a time-honoured way of signalling pretentiousness.”

Next year’s Halloween costume sorted!

“How to Be A Complete Douche” has a certain Patrick Bateman feel to it.

Hugh Hefner defends his May-December engagement to Crystal Harris to The Daily Beast.

“How to Live in New York City”:

“Certain moments of living in the city will always stick out to you. Buying plums from a fruit vendor on 34th street and eating three of them on a long walk, the day you spent in bed with your best friend watching Tyra Banks, the amazing rooftop party you attended on a sweltering hot day in July. These memories might seem insignificant but they were all moments when you looked around the city and felt like you were a part of it all.”

Sarah at Feministe recalls “How I Learned to Stop Caring and Admit I Love Pop”.

Jezebel chronicles “The Evolution of Moms” from Soccer Mom (Mater Adidas) to a future robot-mom who encompasses all the admirable features of stage and helicopter mothers alike, with a special focus on the parent Sarah Palin made famous, the Mama Grizzly.

Memo to Lady Gaga: leggings are not pants. Nor, more to the point, are leotards.

Profile: Rachel Hills of Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.

I’ve only become familiar with Rachel Hills, sex and gender blogger at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, in the past few months, but she’s made her way to the top of my must-read blogs. Here, she answers questions about her inspiration, future writing goals and what she does in her spare time in a new city (she recently moved from Australia to begin a new chapter of her life in London).

 

Can you give us a quick run-down of your professional writing portfolio thus far?

I’ve been freelancing for six years now, and have written for (in alphabetical order) the ABC, The Age, The Australian, The Big Issue, The Bulletin, The Canberra Times, Cleo, Cosmopolitan, The Courier-Mail, Girlfriend, Girls’ Life (US), Glamour (UK), The Huffington Post, Jezebel, The Monthly, New Matilda, Russh, Sunday Life, Sunday Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald, Vogue, The Walkley Magazine and YEN, as well as a bunch of smaller, indie magazines and blogs.

I got my start writing opinion pieces for the Sydney Morning Herald. These days, I usually write “think piece” features on personal-is-political type issues, or women’s mag fare with smarts.

 

How long have you been blogging at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman and what made you decide to start a blog?

I just did a quick scan of my archives and discovered I just reached my three year anniversary on October 30.

I’ve written for the internet pretty much ever since it was possible to (I started my first website in 1998), but I was always kind of hesitant of writing publicly under my own name. As a teenager because of my secret pop music loving shame, as a university student because I was involved in student politics and that makes you extremely paranoid (not of people digging up info on you when you become a politician, but of people digging up info on you and putting it in the student newspaper), and then as an adult because I didn’t want to cannibalise my own story ideas.

I cracked through basically because I loved reading other people’s blogs, and because I was inspired by the way that other journalistsparticularly in the USwere using blogs to connect with their audiences. My blog was quite different when I first started writing it, thoughit was more a mix of political commentary, scrapbook and lifecast, as opposed to the more reflective, personal-is-political blog it is today.

What are some of your favourite blogs?

I have a soft spot for blogs which make you feel like you’re getting to know the person writing itblogs like Gala Darling, Girl With A Satchel, Wordsmith Lane, The Ch!cktionary, Emily Magazine, Garance Dore, Style Rookie and The Early Bird Catches The Worm [that's me!] are often at the top of my Google Reader.

I also love blogs that make me think about thingsFeministe, Pandagon, The Awl, Tiara The Merch Girl, Rabbit White, Kapooka Baby, Jezebel, Hugo Schwyzer, Racialicious. And people like Chris Brogan, Seth Godin and Chris Guillebeau are like mentors I’ve never met when it comes to things like blogging and community building.

I’ve lost count of the number of blogs I subscribe to on Google Reader, though, so that’s really just scraping the surface of what I read.

What has been your proudest writing-related achievement to date?

I don’t think I actually have one! There are lots of stories I’m fond of, and I still get excited whenever I get a story up, but there isn’t one that stands out as being more significant than the others. I suppose the one I was most proud of at the time was that first opinion piece in the SMH. And I hope my book will be my proudest writing accomplishment in a couple of years.

 

And your proudest non-writing achievement?

In 2006, I travelled around the US meeting some of my favourite journalists and editors: people from The Economist, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, US Cosmopolitan and so on. Very nerdy, but also very gutsy lots of people at home thought I was a bit of a weirdo for attempting it (with a couple of notable exceptions). I’m quite proud of that.

 

Back to your book, to be titled The Sex Myth; how is it coming along?

Haha, it’s coming along okay. I’m dedicating a lot of time to it at the moment, and there are bits of it that I really like, which is nice. I’ve shown the overview to a few high profile people, and the response has been universally very positive. I’m just trying to get everything in place at the moment to translate that positivity into a kickass book deal.

 

You’ve written about workaholism and the work/life balance in the past. How do you balance all your commitments?

It was much, much harder when I was living in Australia and holding down a near full-time job. Now that I’m working for myself again, it’s much easier to fit in all the things I want to work on, and living with my partner means I still make plenty of time for myself. (When he’s away, I start working later, procrastinating more and sleeping less.)

That said, even working for myself, I’m still managing four main areas of workfreelancing, book, PhD and blogonly one of which pays. So finding time for all of them can be a bit tricky.

 

What is your favourite way to unwind?

Having spent the past two and a half years of my life reading books on the philosophy of sex, I’ve developed a bit of a fiction obsession recently. It’s so much easier and more relaxing to read than the academic stuff I’m usually buried in.

I’m also really enjoying getting to know London, and digging out all the interesting things there are to do here. My boyfriend often asks me how I manage to find all the things we check outphotographic treasure hunts, interactive theatre, art galleries, bars with secret passage ways.

And yoga. It’s clichéd, but it relaxes me, keeps me fit and keeps my bad neck (from too much time sitting in front of a computer) in proper alignment.

 

Because most bloggers write about things they’re passionate about, as I know both you and I do, do you find sometimes it’s a chore to churn out posts on, for example, mag-world musings or the happenings on your favourite TV show (you and I both share a penchant for Gossip Girl) and the like, as previously you would have done those things for pleasure? Because that’s definitely something I struggle with from time to time.

Because I write for a living, one thing I’m very careful to do is keep blogging a pleasure. The main way I do this is by writing when I’m feeling inspired: if the writing doesn’t flow easily, blogging starts to feel like an obligation… and while I have no concrete evidence of this, I suspect it makes the posts less interesting to read, too. If I’m not feeling inspired and haven’t updated much that week, I’ll try to find something else around the net that I think will be of interest to my audience and share that with them instead.

What advice do you have for other bloggers?

Don’t feel like you have to get it right immediately. Sure, the internet sticks around forever, so you want to think before you post, but blogging is something you learn by doing just like anything else, and chances are it will take you a while to find your best blogging voice. (It took me a while, and I’d been writing on the net for nearly 10 years and writing professionally for three when I started. And I’m still learning.) Experiment until you find that perfect intersection of what you love, what feels authentic for you, and what people respond to.

 

And finally, where do you see yourself, writing-wise, in the future?

I’d like to just keep on doing what I do now, only on a bigger and better level, with all the aspects of my work (journalism, blogging, books) feeding into one another.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman].

On the (Rest of the) Net.

I’m filing all Mad Men titbits in one hit. I hope you can handle it.

1. Love the latest promo posters designed by Christina Perry. The one with Joan’s likeness is, of course, the fiercest.

2. Damaged child of Don Draper and Betty Francis, Sally Draper, deserves “A Freudian Analysis”. And her fair share of Freudian therapy, I would guess.

3. And so does Betty, for that matter. Perhaps a therapist that doesn’t report back to her husband. For now, though, she’s content to make herself over.

Advice blogger Penelope Trunk tells us “How to Write About Your Life”:

“… [The] number one rule is that if you write about your life there must be a redemptive moment because people like that…

So, okay. I try to see that. I mean, I’ve read plenty of memoirs Girl, Interrupted, Smashed, Darkness Visible all good books. All very redemptive at the end, for sure. But I’ve also read Anna Karenina. Well, I haven’t, but I’m able to spoil the ending for you right now anyway… She gets hit by a train. I think she kills herself.

That seems redemptive to me. I mean, at least she doesn’t have to wake up to her same problems every day.

I have told this to my… agent. She said that people do not want to read about my fascination with suicide.”

Jill at Feministe writes of her “commitment to ending up an old maid” in the 2007 article, “I’m Never Getting Married”.

Diablo Cody asks the original “Misery Chick”, Daria Morgendorffer, if her crush, Trent Lane, and the other “Trents of the world are ever suited to long-term relationships…?”. Daria’s response?

“I always thought of Trent as being the Dave Navarro of high school… Considering a girl like Carmen Electra couldn’t maintain true love with Dave Navarro; and Sandra Bullock couldn’t whip Jesse James into commitment; and Pam Anderson couldn’t land Tommy Lee or Kid Rock or Tommy Lee. All epic fails.” How profound.

Since when did mobile phones cease to become telephones? “When my so-called phone rings, my first reaction is ‘Shit. What’s wrong now?’ [However] When I get an email or text message, I feel a tingle of optimism.” My feelings exactly.

Harkening back to the “Feminism Has Failed” debate, where my thoughts were that it hasn’t failed for me personally, but for a woman who is not able-bodied, perhaps it has. Disabled Feminists ask if there’s “A Place at the Table For Me?” when discussing body image. Very thought provoking.

Keanu Reeves just can’t catch a break. Now, “The 12 Most Depressing Keanu Reeves Quotes”. My favourite? See above.

More feminist goodness, this time from Echidne of the Snakes and touching on the “burqa debate” and how women dress in different societies and cultures.

Again, an old-school article from The New York Times entitled “What’s Wrong with Cinderella?”. This is (apparently) what’s wrong with Cinderella and the other Disney princesses:

“…‘I see girls expanding their imagination through visualising themselves as princesses, and then they pass through that phase and end up becoming lawyers, doctors, mothers or princesses, whatever the case may be.’

Mooney [who produced the above quote] has a point: There are no studies proving that playing princess directly damages girls’ self-esteem or dampens other aspirations. On the other hand, there is evidence that young women who hold the most conventionally feminine beliefswho avoid conflict and think they should be perpetually nice and prettyare more likely to be depressed than others and less likely to use contraception…

The infatuation with the girlie girl certainly could, at least in part, be a reaction against the so-called second wave of the women’s movement of the 1960s and ’70s (the first wave was the fight for suffrage), which fought for reproductive rights and economic, social and legal equality. If nothing else, pink and Princesses have resuscitated the fantasy of romance that that era of feminism threatened, the privileges that traditional femininity conferred on women despite its costsdoors magically opened, dinner checks picked up, Manolo Blahniks, Frippery. Fun. Why should we give up the perks of our sex until we’re sure of what we‘ll get in exchange? Why should we give them up at all? Or maybe it’s deeper than that: the freedoms feminism bestowed came with an undercurrent of fear among women themselvesflowing through Ally McBeal, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Sex & the Cityof losing male love, of never marrying, of not having children, of being deprived of something hat felt essentially and exclusively female.”

Following on from this, Rachel Hills of Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, writing in The Australian Literary Review in July 2008, untangles the sexualisation of children. Again, well worth the read.

We’ve gotta give the guys some attention, too, and Newsweek does just that with “Men’s Lib” and retrosexualisation:

“Since the 1950s, the image of American women has gone through numerous makeovers. But masculine expectations remain the same… The term ‘retrosexual’ has all but replaced ‘metrosexual’ in the lifestyle sections of national magazines, which are full of stories about affluent urbanites wearing hunting garb, buying designer axes and writing about the art of manliness on blogs with names like (ahem) The Art of Manliness.”

Jezebel with the quirky genius that is their movie reviews: and a double-whammy at that. Firstly, there’s “Important Life Lessons from B-List Teen Movies of the ’90s” like The Craft and Can’t Hardly Wait. And secondly, in the same vein, they profile Easy A and how it “… Tackles Slut-Shaming, Gossip & What We Expect from Girls Now”. Review to come next week.

Stylish Thought muses on “The Joys of Being Alone”, a concept which I am none-too-familiar with. I find people who don’t like being alone freaks, as does blogger Fajr. Love the accompanying pic, too.

After all that, this should have been called the jumbo edition!