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.

Event: The Reading Hour 2013.

booksIt’s that time of year again—National Reading Hour—and last year for the event I chronicled the books I’d read and what I thought of them and thought I’d do something similar this year.

Without further ado, here’s an incomplete list (I threw out my day planner from last year in which I’d pencilled in time for reading certain publications so some of this is from memory) of the books I’ve read since then.

Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem.

A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns by Mindy Kaling.

The Life & Opinions of Maf the Dog & of His Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andre O’Hagan.

Marilyn: The Passion & the Paradox by Lois Banner.

Vagina: A New Biography by Naomi Wolf.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

After the Fall by Arthur Miller.

Sweet Valley Confidential: 10 Years Later by Francine Pascal.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander.

The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare.

The Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

Undisputed by Chris Jericho.

Night Games by Anna Krien.

Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan.

The Misogyny Factor by Anne Summers.

Under the Dome by Stephen King.

Feminism & Pop Culture by Andi Zeisler.

What books have you been reading in the past year?

Related: The Reading Hour.

Image via The Design Files.

Book Review: Marilyn — The Passion & the Paradox by Lois Banner.

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Marilyn Monroe as feminist icon? Who knew?

The best-known sex symbol of the 20th century (’cause we all know Beyonce’s got dibs on this century) is easily dismissed as just that, but as Lois Banner’s heftily researched tome on the woman born Norma Jeane Mortensen will attest, Monroe had some radical views for her time, embracing the ideals of the Communist movement, endeavouring to expand her mind even though Hollywood would rather her stick to her dumb blonde schtick, and engaging in activities unbecoming for a woman of her time. Banner is sure that had Monroe lived long enough, she would have been a keen supporter of the feminist movement.

Personally, I have always been an advocate of Monroe as feminist, refusing to take on my mother’s, amongst many others’, dislike of her for her bombshell image. As Banner maps out Monroe’s family history, her life as a sexually abused orphan, her first marriage at 16 to Jim Dougherty, her early days in Hollywood and the way she crafted herself into a star, the reader sees Monroe not as the ditzy Lorelei Lee from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes like so many others did, but as a gifted actress merely playing up to one of the many archetypes (sexy “Marilyn”, comedienne “Lorelei” and the glamourous star of later years [from p. 237]) she was perceived as when it was called for: there was much more to Marilyn Monroe than meets the eye, as is detailed in The Passion & the Paradox.

By interviewing a myriad of sources, some of which only fellow feminist biographer of Monroe, Gloria Steinem, had interviewed before, Banner debunks some common myths about Monroe, including those surrounding her death. By doing so, she delves much further into Marilyn Monroe’s psyche than any other book about her I’ve read.

I’m probably a bit biased, as Banner pretty much reinforces ideas about her that I already held, but if you’re only going to pick up one publication on Marilyn Monroe, let it be this refreshingly modern take on her as a person, not a sexual object.

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This review has been submitted to The Australian Women Writers Challenge as part of their 2013 Challenge.

Image via These Little Words.

Books: Marilyn Monroe as Manic Pixie Dream Girl?

Marilyn-Monroe---Glasses

As with yesterday’s post, this comes from Gloria Steinem’s Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions in an article entitled “Marilyn Monroe: The Woman Who Died Too Soon”:

“[Marilyn Monroe disliked] to be interpreted by them [her male admirers] in writing because she feared that sexual competition made women dislike her… In films, photographs, and books, even after her death as well as before, she has been mainly seen through men’s eyes.”

Just like our favourite Manic Pixie Dream Girls Holly Golightly, Ruby Sparks, Annie Hall, and Zooey Deschanel.

Related: Procrastination Proclamation.

Posts Tagged “Ruby Sparks”.

Manic Pixie Dream Girly Girls & Not-So-Girly Girls.

Image via Discount Poster Sale.

Procrastination Proclamation.

From Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem:

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

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

Event: My Birthday — Quarter Century Costumes & Cocktails.

Last Friday I turned 25: positively ancient!

To celebrate, I held my annual Halloween-themed costume party at Madame Brussels on Bourke Street, and I was absolutely chuffed by the turnout, generosity of my friends and their dedication to costumes.

I’d been fantasising about my slutty-but-feministy (the two requirements of all my costumes!) turn as Gloria Steinem undercover as a Playboy bunny at the Playboy Club in 1963 since this time last year and, despite the costuming roadblocks I encountered, I was determined not to let anything ruin my night. And with my mum and good friend, Liz, coming down from Bendigo to celebrate my quarter century shenanigans, there was no excuse for the night to turn sour.

So, without further ado, here are some choice happy snaps from the night, mostly courtesy of my personal paparazzo (moonlighting as Merida from Brave), April, but also screenshotted from assorted friends’ Facebooks…

If there was an award for best costume, it would go to Zoe and Matt.

Me and my mum.

The three-layered chocolate, vanilla and red velvet Tiffany box shaped cake…

… and the lady who made it, Christine.

Covering all my feminist bases with a strategically-placed badge to remind everyone of who I’m really dressed as.

Flanked by fellow feminists in their own rights and archers, Merida from Brave and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games.

Sisterly love.

Fittingly, Mel and Johnny went as Mormons. Here we are consulting the book of Mormon about Mitt Romney’s impending fate…

Related: Happy Slut-O-Ween—The Hyper-Sexualisation & -Feminisation of Costumes for Women.

Legally Blonde—The Musical Review.

Event: Legally Blonde — The Musical Review*.

 

Sydney is the host city for the Australian premiere of Legally Blonde: The Musical, and this time last week, a couple of friends and I came together from two other cities (Melbourne and Perth) to check out the latest import from Broadway.

I first became familiar with the musical version of the ditzy blonde from Bel Air with a heart of gold who makes good at Harvard a few years ago when I watched The Search for Elle Woods on MTV. I’m all over the pop-feminism of the Reese Witherspoon version (in fact, my friends and I gathered around my laptop the night before the stage show to watch the original as our hotel didn’t have a DVD player and the only thing I could fault about it eleven years on is the use of “spastic” and “retard”), and I’ve come to love musicals since seeing Wicked which I use as the benchmark for all theatre, so it was a no-brainer to make the jaunt to Sydney to see the Aussie version, starring Lucy Durack as Elle.

Let me start by saying the highlight of the night was the fact that we actually got to meet Durack, Rob Mills, who plays Warner, Cameron Daddo (Professor Callahan) and I Will Survive winner, Mike Snell as the UPS guy, after the show. Maybe because the theatre was only half full they encourage ticket holders to come to the stage door after the performance to meet the cast, but if you’re a fan of any of the above, you should pop along just for that little extra (or hang out in the back streets of the Lyric Theatre!).


I also thought the elaboration of Elle’s outing at a party dressed as a Playboy bunny was a genius addition to the play, but I might be a little biased: when a fellow party-goer tells Elle she looks like a skank in her costume, she comes up with the defence that she is actually dressed as Gloria Steinem when she went undercover at the Playboy club in 1963 and subsequently wrote the feminist manifesto “I Was a Playboy Bunny”, asking, “Would you call Gloria Steinem a skank?!” Token feminist/(ergo) lesbian Enid blurts out, “Who called Gloria Steinem a skank?!” We cheered and whistled from our third row seats and were pretty well the only ones who got the joke which was made a little more special for me personally as three days later I dressed as that exact incarnation of Gloria Steinem as a Playboy bunny for Halloween! (Photos to come.)

Perhaps watching the movie the night before the show wasn’t the best idea, as it made me appreciate the flawlessness of the former and the problematic nature of the latter, which I thought was rife with homophobia, racism and utter “what the?!” moments. Durack, Snell, Mills, Erika Heynatz as Brooke Wyndham and real live puppy dogs on stage were superb, but the clunkyness, out-of-place inclusions to the story and the abovementioned problems overshadowed the better aspects of the show.

Staying with the film, I think it’s a truly feminist piece of art because feminism isn’t really mentioned once, despite Enid’s blatant characterisation as a militant feminist, yet Elle exceeds the expectations placed on her based on her sex and sexiness. In the end you love her because she’s an awesome person, not because she’s hot, blonde, has a vagina and wears pink.

In the musical, however, feminism is almost shoved down the audience’s throat, but from an outsider’s perspective, as if the writers said, “Shit, we need to make this a bit more feministy. Quick, what do we think feminists value?” Whereas in the Witherspoon version, Elle truly does make it at Harvard on her own, on stage Emmett’s character features more heavily and he pretty much guides her through her trials and tribulations which Elle takes credit for solving all on her own. Not to worry, though: to really push the feminist point home, Elle proposed to Emmett because, you know, only feminists do those kind of newfangled pro-equality kinds of things.

If the dismal turn out in the session I bought tickets for is any indication, I don’t think Legally Blonde will continue its run to other Australian cities. Unless you live in Sydney, I wouldn’t recommend making the trip to see it.

 

 

 

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Official image via Time Out Sydney.

My Week in Pictures.

The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia.

The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia opened at the Melbourne Museum last Friday, and I found it much more impressive than their past exhibitions, Titanic and Tutankhamun. Very spacious and a lot more intimate than previous years, and the lighting on some of the carved stone reliefs was magnificent, harkening back to the time of A Day in Pompeii, which I felt was much more content-focussed than some of the Museum’s other exhibitions.

For old time’s never was’ sake?

Normally whenever I see so called “women’s literature” or “chick lit”, I run a mile. In this case, I stayed long enough to take a pink and stereotypical portrait.

Back to Booktown.

Last weekend, it was that time again: Clunes Booktown time. I travelled cross-country (train from Melbourne to Bendigo, car from Bendigo to Clunes, shuttle bus from Clunes to Ballarat and another train from Ballarat to Melbourne. Phew!) to spend the day in Clunes’ freezing weather for an abundance of books. I picked up most of my haul within the first hour, and had to cart it around for the rest of the day. One of the garage/book sales out of someone’s front yard had a “book trolley” for hire; I think I’ll take them up on their offer for next year! My companion, Hannah, walked around empty handed for most of the day, until she picked up four great books on our trek back to the car.

For myself I got a book of essays by Gloria Steinem (including her famous Playboy club exposé. Eep!) and the incredibly rare first edition of Bret Easton Ellis’ The Informers and the Harvard Lampoon’s Twilight spoof, Nightlight. As gifts, I got my housemate a much-coveted (though unbeknownst to me til after the fact; I just thought the cover looked cool!) Kevin Smith-penned edition of Spider Man and Black Cat (with feminist themes: bonus!) and The Hours for my mum.

Break time.

Mia shares some water with her new friend. What a nifty little invention!

The dog park.

Mia’s fully vaccinated now, so that means I can start taking her to grassy areas.

At her post-adoption training session, I expressed concern at her aggression on the lead and interacting with other dogs. The trainer suggested taking her to a dog park during a quiet time (Tuesday before lunch, in this case) to get her used to socialising with other dogs. While her playtime was a bit more aggressive than I would have liked, Mia ended up making friends with a little poodle-shih tzu cross named Ovi. Ovi’s owner, Misty, is new to Australia from the U.S., so we’ve made plans for the dogs to catch up for a play date. I secretly think Misty was in search of some human playmates, too.

The stack.

Some quality articles in The Age on Saturday: a testimonial on why Prince still matters (he’d better, ’cause I just forked out a pretty penny for tickets to his concert next week), and an investigation into Nick D’Arcy and that assault incident. I liked this quote from the piece: “I think that as role models, we should be held to a higher standard than the average person,” spoken by Kieren Perkins. Here here.

The senior’s movie.

Rita Hayworth’s Gilda is supposed to be the embodiment of the femme fatale, so when the movie was screening (and still is, this Saturday and Sunday at 11am, and Monday at 1:30pm) at ACMI for $11 (cheaper for seniors!), I had to get on it. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, and found it sexist as all hell, Hayworth is a dream to look at!

Related: Tutankhamun & the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at Melbourne Museum.

Clunes Back to Booktown.

My Week in Pictures 26th April 2012.

Cherchez la Femme Fatale, Take 2.

Mesopotamia image via Museum Victoria.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

The Dolly model search is back and seeking 13-year-old girls for their looks. Oh, and, like, a great personality and stuff. [MamaMia]

We need more men like THIS, who speak out about the blatant turning of blind eyes to violent and entitled footballers. [MamaMia]

Gloria Steinem urges voters to re-elect Obama, as he’s the only candidate who really cares about actual women’s rights. [Jezebel]

Rick Santorum used to work for the WWE?! Yikes! [Mother Jones]

Bristol Palin writes about President Obama and Sandra Fluke. I hate to say this about a Palin, but she makes a good point… [Bristol’s Blog]

Forced pre-abortion transvaginal ultrasounds, from a doctor’s perspective. [Jezebel, via Whatever]

Following on from last week’s article by Gala Darling on feminism and high heels, Jenna Sauers voices her own concerns on our sartorial choices dictating our political stances. [Jezebel]

On lady writers profiling “tall, brooding famous men with lots of money” for men’s magazines. [Gawker]

Jess McGuire on Jackie O’s Sunday Life profile. [The Vine]

The beauty politics of Snog, Marry, Avoid. [MamaMia]

What it’s like to be an executioner. [MamaMia]

Image via Perth Now.

In the News: Hugo Schwyzer’s Ousting from the Feminist Community.

I must have been living under a feminist rock for the past couple of months, because when I saw some sentences that jumped out at me in this blog post about Hugo Schwyzer’s abusive past and resignation from The Good Men Project (I wondered why I was never seeing new posts from him on there), I was shocked.

I’ve recently been embroiled in a staunch disagreement with one of my friends over the Chris Brown, Michael Fassbender et al. debacle, in which I’ve attempted to personally boycott all things related to wifebeaters and horrible people in general, and she’s attempted to justify her support of projects they’re involved in because of all the other people it affects (a film crew of hundreds of people, for example).

But what happens when someone I openly admire (Scwhyzer) is revealed to have attempted a murder-suicide on his girlfriend in the past?

I’d have to call myself somewhat of a hypocrite, then. I still think Schwyzer produces some of the most apt feminist and gender-based musings out there. I also think that that incident was 13 years ago and, as far as we know, Schywzer got help and hasn’t relapsed. He’s taken his mistake, learned from it, and used it to add to the feminist and gender discourse. Which is more than I can say for Brown at this point. To play devil’s advocate (because I’m still adamant that Brown is a wifebeater through and through and will definitely strike a woman again), he’s still young and perhaps hasn’t woken up to the full scope of his actions and how they have hurt both Rihanna and himself.

This whole kafuffle has brought forth these questions, as asked by Raphael Magarik in The Atlantic:

Can men be feminist leaders?

Yes, they can. I’m not someone who thinks men can’t be feminists because they don’t have a vagina. Where does that leave trans women, then? How about the many gay men who have faced prejudice and champion the feminist movement? I’ve always thought Schwyzer has valid points to make (admittedly he’s really the only male feminist I read), and I think male voices can aid in the reconciliation of equality between men and women.

What role—if any—should men’s personal experiences play in feminist discussions?

I have a couple of male friends who, when presented with talk of feminism, will undermine and devalue what I’m trying to say with the straight white male reverse-racism bullshit. But, I think, as long as men are willing to listen to what feminists have to say without diminishing it with their white male privilege, personal experiences can aid in the discourse. For example, men who’ve grown up with strong women in their lives, men who’ve been abused, men who’ve abused and are aware of why they did it and are immensely sorry.

And how should feminists treat repentant former abusers?

I know a repentant former abuser who I’ve all but removed from my life, so I’m probably too biased about the situation to be completely inclusive of them. However, I think those who’ve experienced abuse are the ones who have to be having the conversation with former abusers and be okay with them jumping on the feminist bandwagon. If they are truly sorry, have a demonstrated history of non-abuse since they last abused, and can use that history to add value to female-male relations, then I think it might be okay. But the trust is still eroded…

How [do] men feel, what [do] they think about gender, [and] what [do] they need to change?

This is what Schwyzer is concerned with in his writings: how feminism relates to men. I hate the idea of feminism as this exclusive club (an idea which has been doing the rounds since noted second-wave feminists like Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan and Naomi Wolf stepped on the scene, and was recently reignited with the whole Melinda Tankard Reist business) that you can only gain entry to if you’re the “right” kind of woman. To me, feminism is about equality and inclusion of voices other than the “right” kind of woman.

How do you feel about men in feminism and Schwyzer’s abusive past potentially delegitimising his feminist voice?

Related: My Thoughts on Chris Brown.

SlutWalk: A Smokescreen of Lies, Misinformation & Those Old Myths About Males.

Conservative Feminist Melinda Tankard Reist for Sunday Life.

Elsewhere: [The Atlantic] Exile in Gal-Ville: How a Male Feminist Alienated His Supporters.

[Hugo Schwyzer] Why I Resigned from The Good Men Project.

[Feministe] Sex, Drugs, Theology, Men & Feminism: Interview with Hugo Schwyzer.

[GenderBitch] You Don’t Get to Tell Us Who Our Enemies Are.