On the (Rest of the) Net.

the hills teen vogue

Gender politics and the cautionary tale of not leaning in on The Hills. [Vulture]

The fault in sick-lit. [Kill Your Darlings]

Lupita Nyong’o and the fetishisation of black women’s bodies. [Black Feminists]

Too much Kim, not enough Kendall. [The Style Con]

In praise of Lisa Simpson, Harriet M. Welsch and Scout Finch. [The New Yorker]

ICYMI: Gossip Girl—Hell Hath No Fury Like a Lonely Boy Scorned.

Image via Cosmopolitan.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Kelly Rowland’s latest single is about cunnilingus. Get it, girl!

The threat of James Deen. [Daily Life]

Now they’re gendering cordial! [Feminaust]

In defence of Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna in the aftermath of season two of Girls:

“Lena Dunham has perfected her ability to push her audience past their comfort zones by forcing them to relate to or identify with someone who they’d rather not relate to or identify with. When people react negatively to her work, I think that’s often what it is that they’re reacting against. Her artistic—yeah, I’m going to say it—genius is pushing the viewer from thinking Who would do that? to I’ve thought about that to I’ve done that.”

And I think that sums up the difference between season one of Girls, which was so unabashedly relatable, if not totally likeable, and season two, which stagnated more in the former realm of Dunham’s alleged “artistic genius”. [Jezebel]

Calling all Aussie (and NZ) Gala Darling fans: she’s bringing her Blogcademy brainchild down under. Wouldn’t you know it, the Melbourne workshop takes place when I just so happen to be in Gala’s hood: New York City!

Clementine Ford unpacks the verdicts handed down in the Steubenville, Ohio rape case and why sexual assault is not a “mistake” made by “promising young men” who deserve a “second chance”. [Daily Life] 

New girl crush: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. That woman really knows what she’s talking about when it comes to feminism and women in the workplace. [Jezebel]

Girls, How I Met Your Mother and consent. [Think Progress] 

Porn consumption = more accepting of marriage equality? [MamaMia]

On Taylor Swift, Anne Hathaway and fake humility. [TheVine] 

In the News: Happy Leap Day! Heterosexual Ladies, Today You Can Freely Ask Your Significant Other to Marry You And Only Endure the Shame Once Every Four Years!

Today is February 29th, a date which only occurs every four (Olympic) years. Apparently, tradition has it that women can freely propose to their partners—sorry, non-heterosexual partnerships need not apply—on this day and only be reminded of the shame of taking their own destiny into their hands and not waiting around for a man to determine it once every four years! Super!

Perhaps instead of using the extra 24 hours to uphold gender norms we could use it to do something meaningful like, I don’t know, work towards marriage equality. Or adopt a pet. Sign up to volunteer. Work on asylum seeker activism. Something other than reiterating that until you’re married, life is meaningless.

Costumes & Gender.

Snow White, Catwoman, (slutty) Rosie the Riveter, (slutty) Tiger Lily, Katy Perry in her “California Gurls” video, Eve… These are some of the costumes I’ve dressed up in for a variety of costume parties over the years. You will notice that each is either hyper-feminine and/or hyper-sexualised (when I went looking for a Belle from Beauty & the Beast costume for my 21st, the only one I could find for hire was a short, tight one that resembled the original character’s garb in no way).

At the other end of the dress-up spectrum, I have a couple of friends who relish costume parties as opportunities to stretch the gender performance barriers. Michelle has a penchant for covering her face in all manner of makeup and face paint for her takes on Puss in Boots, The Joker and Elphaba from Wicked (also known as the Wicked Witch of the West). Lana dresses skankily as often as she does dowdy, mixing it up as a bandit for our most recent Christmas party, Little Red Riding Hood, a male pirate when all her fellow females were attended as slutty wenches or slutty pirates (or slutty Tiger Lilys!), and Cher.

And on the other side of the coin, there’s Jackson, who was the scantily clad Adam to my Eve. When I suggested deviating from Captain Planet (for which he tried to convince me to let him wear just body paint. To a work do? I don’t think so!) to Adam, he said he’d go as whatever I wanted him to provided a) I organised the costume and, b) he got to show off some skin. He spends most nights in the gym, so what not flaunt what he’s worked hard for?

Around Halloween time, I read an article on sexy costumes for men, and how there are none. At least none that focus on the man as a sex object; rather, they suggest he’s the recipient of sexual favours from women:

“When men go sexy, it means joking about how men should be sexually serviced, have access to one night stands, or being in charge of and profiting from women’s bodies. A different type of ‘sexy’ entirely.”

For a man who’s confident—not cocky—in showing off his body (he’s even tossing up [pardon the pun] becoming a male stripper as a way to pay for a helicopter flying course), Jackson as Adam is certainly one to add to the seemingly non-existent “sexy male costume” column.

I find these attitudes to gender and costuming refreshing. Personally, as much as I talk the anti-gender stereotyping talk, I prefer to dress hyper-femininely, especially when it comes to costumes. Honestly, I guess I’m scared of coming across as anything less than “female” and whatever that means these days. I enjoy showing off my face, hair (which is why I chose to leave it out instead of wrapping it up in Rosie’s polka dot bandana) and body. I wish I were confident enough to buck this all-too-common trend amongst women and get my drag king on every now and then. In fact, my back-up costume if Adam and Eve fell through was Michael Jackson, so maybe I’m not as frightened about tapping into my masculine side as I thought.

While I’ve already got my Halloween costume in mind for this year’s festivities (Gloria Steinem undercover as a Playboy bunny: you can’t get much more hyper-sexualised than that!), perhaps this year I will resolve to step out of the one-slut-fits-all box and try something a little less feminine…?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Witching Hour: Halloween/My Birthday at Witches in Britches Cabaret.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Getting Our Pirate On, Christmas Party Style.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Bad Taste Foxymorons.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Month in Pictures.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Week in Pictures: Birthday Edition.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] ’Tis the Season…

Elsewhere: [Ms. Magazine] What Do Sexy Halloween Costumes for Men Look Like?

On the Net: Boys Will Be Boys, Revisited.

From “It’s Not Your Fault You’re a Mean Girl” by Hugo Schwyzer on Jezebel:

“… ‘Maybe this is just how women are with each other’… This is something we hear over and over again from young (and not so young) women: the assumption that a propensity for jealousy, judgment, and ‘drama’ is part of being female… Cattiness comes with the ovaries.

“(Of course, men can be bitter about other men’s good fortune. It was Gore Vidal who famously remarked that ‘whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.’ Then again, Vidal is also famously gay—and gay men are both expected and permitted to have ‘womanly’ emotions. Straight guys are expected to be rivals in sport, but loyal ‘bros’ off the field.)”

I’m so sick of this “boys will be boys” and “girls are made from sugar and spice” (but struggle to be nice to one another) bullshit!

The other day, when the subject of a guy I used to date (funnily enough, the one who started the whole “rating” of female colleagues thing, which I wrote about in the original “Boys Will Be Boys…” musings) came up with one of my gay friends, I told him one of the myriad of reasons I’m not a fan of him is because he doesn’t really have a personality. He’s more of a robot-like Ken doll.

My friend replied, “But he’s a guy.”

I was horrified that he would liken all men to having the personalities of sea anemones. All my male friends have fantastic personalities, and I am offended on their behalf. I listed some of them, including my gay friend.

He replied, “Yeah, but I’m gay.”

This is not the first time I’ve been met with the “(straight) boys will be boys” analogy.

When I complained to some mutual friends that my male housemate didn’t assemble the blender properly and the next time I went to use it my smoothie leaked all over the floor, they replied, “Yeah, but he’s a guy.”

So, straight men are boring, no-personality morons who can’t pick up a vacuum or dry a dish, gay men are flamboyant almost-women who only care about looks, and women are just there to field these dichotomies. Not to mention that in this analogy, gender and sexuality are basically the same thing, and that gay and straight men are worlds apart, as with gay and straight women, and that gays are closer to their opposite gender than they are to their own.

Oy vey.

Also in Schwyzer’s post, I noticed somewhat of a reference to the oft-repeated “girl code/guy code” in Jersey Shore. That even though at least one of the guidettes hates another one of the guidettes at any given point in time, they still honour “girl code” over the “code” between people they actually like. That women should stick with women no matter what, and vice versa.

I’m all for sisters sticking together in the interests of feminism and what not, but I think valuing personality traits, similar interests, morals, and goddamn gumption is more important than gender segregation. What year are we in again?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] UPDATED: Will Boys Be Boys When it Comes to Objectifying Women?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Snooki & the Jersey Shore Girls as Feminists?

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] It’s Not Your Fault You’re a Mean Girl.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

While I don’t agree with most of the Prime Minster’s actions, this cake of Julia Gillard getting attacked by a crocodile is a bit much. Northern Territory Senator Nigel Scullion didn’t seem to think so, and neither did the voters who crowned him the winner of a local cake baking competition! Scullion could be investigated for insinuating violence against Gillard. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Six steps to come across smarter. [MamaMia]

The best is yet to come, despite some peoples’ seemingly dreary destinies? [Girl with a Satchel]

Read the full version of this article on Kate Ellis being too sexy, which I wrote about in my Sunday Life review last week. [MamaMia]

Amy Winehouse’s death was treated like a spectacle by the media. [The Guardian]

Naww, the languages of love. [MamaMia]

Rachel Hills has some nice things to say about my nice things to say about her Sunday Life column last weekend. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Following on from her post on Musings last week, Hills writes for the Sydney Morning Herald on the assertion that young people are no longer interested in sex.

 

How your Tweets can betray your gender. [Fast Company]

“Clare’s Law: Should Abuse History be Revealed to New Partners?” Hell to the yeah! [Sydney Morning Herald]

There’s no such thing as “having it all”. [We Mixed Our Drinks]

On the (potential) end of Law & Order: SVU:

“I can’t imagine life after SVU. Mariska Hargitay is taking it much better than me:

“‘For the past 12 years Chris Meloni has been my partner and friend, both on screen and off. He inspired me every day with his integrity, his extraordinary talent and his commitment to the truth. I love him deeply and will miss him terribly—I’m so excited to see what he’ll do next.’

“Speak for yourself, Benson. Unless what he is doing is going back to taking his clothes off on HBO, I’m finding it difficult to muster up enthusiasm for my favourite detective being anything other than that. If anyone needs me, I’ll be crying in bed watching the entire first season on Netflix.” [The Hairpin]

In praise of Joan Holloway. [Pamflet]

Mia Freedman debriefs on the Cadel-Evans-sportspeople-aren’t-heroes hullabaloo from last week. More on this to come next week on The Early Bird. [MamaMia]

Emily Maguire on society’s obsession with female virginity, from April last year. [The Monthly]

The Sweetest Thing, Bridesmaids, Bad Teacher & the Female Raunch Comedy”:

“Comedic movie actresses have to be allowed to not be hot. Not like, high-heel-stuck-in-a sewer-grate, frizzy-flyaway-hair, Anne Hathaway-in-nerd-glasses not-hot. I mean genuinely not-hot. Full-attack mode physical-comedy not-hot. John Belushi not-hot. Not-pretty enough to be actually funny, because vanity contraindicates comedy. And this was the most revolutionary aspect of Bridesmaids; the pratfalls are actually pratfalls, the dick jokes are legitimately obscene.” [Grantland]

Women who don’t wear makeup are “arrogant, lazy or deluded, and frequently all three.” That counts me out, then! [The Daily Mail]

Three years on from Vogue Italia’s “all-black” issue, has the racial landscape of the modeling industry changed? You tell me… [Jezebel]

Tiger wife Wendi Deng-Murdoch’s defensive right hook, which came to the aid of her almost foam pie-faced husband, Rupert, has renewed “belief in love”. [Newsweek]

“In Defence of Imperfection.” [Persephone Magazine]

“30 Years of Women on MTV.” [Jezebel]

Images via MamaMia, Fast Company, Jezebel.

The Gender Politics of the Royal Wedding.

 

From “Theory: Why Women Care About Princesses” by Echidne of the Snakes on Jezebel:

“… What is it that little girls seem, once again, to be emulating in their play? Cinderellas and ballet dancers. I believe that the reasons for those choices (by their parents and the toy industry and the society) are the same old ones: Here are role models for girls which apply even in a world of gender inequality, yet don’t truly alarm more egalitarian parents. Those role models are not that different from the models given to boys: football players, space heroes, characters with gigantic muscles and super-powers. That they are fewer and more anemic goes with the territory of gendered expectations.

“Sure, children grow past those types of toys, and they even grow past the gender-policing stage. But perhaps something remains, something which is then evoked by a royal wedding in women or a football game in men.”

Related: The Royal Wedding: The Other Event of the Decade?

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Theory: Why Women Care About Princesses.

[Echidne of the Snakes] Homepage.

Images via Legitimate News, Vipfuly, Coco Perez.

Strong Female Characters in the Land of Oz.

 

From Wicked: The Life & Times of the Wicked Witch of the West—Theme of Gender” on Shmoop:

Wicked is all about strong female characters: Elphaba, Glinda, Nessa, Sarima, Melena, Dorothy, Nanny, Nor, Morrible, Princess Nastoya… This legacy actually comes from L. Frank Baum himself, as [Gregory] Maguire explains:

“‘It was Baum who set up the powerful princesses of Glinda, the witches, and Ozma as the real wielders of power in Oz, and the Wizard was just a sham. Baum was an early and ardent feminist, as anyone who has read his biography knows. I think he’d have been delighted that Elphaba and Glinda (both in the musical Wicked and in my novels) are figures of power to admire, to emulate—and yes, as in any powerful figure, to question.’”

Related: The Wizard of Oz VS. Wicked.

It’s All About Popular… Lar, Lar, Lar, Lar!

Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

“With a Gun Between Her Legs” Take 2.

“With a Gun Between Her Legs”: Why “Strong” (AKA “Sexy” Whilst Being “Strong”) Female Characters Are Bad For Women.

Elsewhere: [Shmoop] Wicked: The Life & Times of the Wicked Witch of the West—Theme of Gender.

[USA Today] Wicked Author Gregory Magurie Casts His Spell.

Image via Johnny Jet.

Born This Way.

 

From “If We’re Born Gay, How Would We Know?” by Lisa Wade on Jezebel:

“It is a specifically American belief that gay men act feminine and lesbians act masculine.  But, in fact, gay men and lesbians have a wide range of gender performances, as do straight and bisexual people.  In fact, most of us could probably find a picture or two in our histories showing gender non-conformity.  Meanwhile, most gay men and lesbians could probably find pictures of themselves conforming.  That gender performance is associated with sexual orientation in our society is a belief in U.S. culture, but it’s not somehow inevitable or biological.”

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] If We’re Born Gay, How Would We Know?

Images via YouTube.

Book Review: True Blood & Philosophy by George A. Dunn & Rebecca Housel.

 

I bought this book last year around the time season three of True Blood was coming to an end, and the inspiration struck me to write a post on Sookie Stackhouse and feminism. Needless to say, that post has yet to come to fruition (watch this space next week), but I finally got around to reading the book in the past fortnight or so.

The great thing about the Pop Culture and Philosophy series is that you don’t need to be an avid fan of the topic each book deals with; most of the philosophical musings can be applied to everyday life. (I’m making a gross generalisation here, as True Blood & Philosophy is the first Pop Culture volume I’ve read!)

Anyone who’s familiar with the show and Charlaine Harris’ books will know that the way vampires are treated in the somewhat alternate universe of Bon Temps, Louisiana, is a metaphor for how gays and blacks have been treated for centuries.

True Blood and Philosophy delves into this throughout the book, but particularly in the “Eros, Sexuality & Gender” section, where the issue of “orientation” is raised: “Vampires seem to be unlike gays in that we can’t say that vampires are born that way… But there is still a parallel to being born either gay or straight, for once you become a vampire, there’s no returning to a human existence” (p. 98).

One way vampires and gays are different, though, is that “a homosexual predator” cannot “attack or coerce an unwilling person into homosexual acts”, whereas a vampire can take someone against their will (p. 99). You can’t “catch” homosexuality, but you can catch vampirism.

To take it a step further, there was a time when propaganda that the gays will give you AIDS was rife (some might argue that it still is), and were prohibited from participating in sports and other activities where blood could be spilled. This raises the question of the marginalisation of vampires in sports, as well as the use of their blood as medicine. (See “Coming Out of the Coffin & Coming Out of the Closet”, p. 93–108.)

My favourite chapter deals with the attitudes of humans towards vampires and vice versa, and how the way they treat each other amounts to the way non-fiction humans treat animals.

For example, Eddie Gauthier, the vampire whom Jason Stackhouse and Amy Burley take hostage and use as their own personal V vat, is a parallel for “the way millions of animals are treated every day on factory farms… Eddie, like the animals on factory farms, is exploited as a commodity with no regard for his suffering” (p. 36–37).

Furthermore, “… many… vampires actually regard human beings as lower forms of life ripe for exploitation, not much different from the way Aristotle and others regarded non-human species,” in “a classic example of speciesism” (p. 38–39).

Last year, I blogged about an article I read in Time, about how animals that we once thought to not be able to understand language, reasoning, fairness and pain, actually do experience these things. Vampires seem to have a similar attitude towards humans, whom they see only as a food source, and “incapable of feeling pain as we do”, according to the magister when ordering Bill to turn Jessica as punishment for killing one of their own to protect his “human pet”, Sookie (p. 44).

In a similarly intriguing chapter, William C. Curtis asks “can vampires be good citizens”?:

“Should there be a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to require vamps to come clean about their past murders in return for a grant of amnesty? How should vampires be taxed, especially since they don’t need many of the services that government provides, like Social Security, health care, and education? Can they join, or be drafted into, the armed forces?… Will their vulnerability to sunlight be treated as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act? Can vampire convicts be sentenced to life in prison, or would eternal incarceration violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment?” (p. 65–66).

All these questions have been brought about by the advent of synthetic blood, allowing vampires to “come out of the coffin”, so to speak.

On this, an interesting footnote from the chapter “Un-True Blood: The Politics of Artificiality” by Bruce A. McClelland, refers to a 1927 study by Takeji Furukawa on the correlation between blood types and personality. Being a Japanese study, and the fact that synthetic TruBlood was developed by the Japanese; is there some connection? Or just a coincidence? The clot plot thickens…

A memorable event thus far on True Blood has been the introduction of Maryann the Maenad and her Dionysian debacle. “Let the Bon Temps Roll: Sacrifice, Scapegoats and Good Times” deals with the self-preservation of the Bon Temps residents in “not wanting to know what’s in the sausage”, as Lafayette Reynolds would say (p. 141–142). Or rather, not wanting to know what’s in Maryann’s “hunter’s soufflé”!

This ignorance is further symbolised by the black eyes of Maryann’s followers; they’re literally blind to her wicked ways (p. 142).

Of course this book is more suited to the True Blood fan, however it’s not a prerequisite. (I’m trying to force-feed my friend Laura this book in the hopes that she will cotton on to the sexy-smarts of the show. She’s doing the same to me with Mad Men.) Many of the thoughts discussed go much deeper than just Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries and vampirism, and it’s quite a thought-provoking—yet still light—book.

Related: Time’s “What Animals Think” Issue: August 16, 2010.