On the (Rest of the) Net.

rh reality check not like other girls feminism

Saying “I’m not like other girls” just buys into the myth that all women have a defined set of attributes and that those who aren’t “feminine”, “girly”, “bitchy” and don’t have many female friends (just to list some of the tropes associated with “other girls”) are somehow better than other women. I’ve been guilty of uttering those words before, but that was before I came to the above understanding. I believe I’m different from other girls, just as I’m different from other humans. We all have different character traits, values and interests; it’s just that some we can relate to more and are closer to the surface than others. [RH Reality Check]

In defence of sex work. [Daily Life]

Further to that, Mia Freedman clarifies her position on sex workers voiced on Q&A last month. [MamaMia]

“Why Would Anyone Have a Late-Term Abortion?” [New Matilda] 

Ahead of its publication in new (and, might I add, awesome!) zine, Filmme Fatales, editor Brodie Lancaster writes in opposition to the Gwyneth Paltrow haters. [TheVine] 

More Gwyneth: she was my thinspo. Beauty and putting women on pedestals. [Mirror, Mirror OFF the Wall]

On the merits and drawbacks of “Hashtag Feminism”, “destroying the joint”, the news sources “to whom [we] choose to listen” and the “personalised newspaper” that is social media, through which we “see only views [we] agree with”. [The Monthly]

Jennifer Aniston, ourselves. [Thought Catalog]

Is Amanda Bynes that different from us? [Clam Bistro]

Are we too old to “get” Girls?  [One Good Thing] 

Why talking about sexism in pop culture is important. [The Age]

How can disabled women “Destroy the Joint” when they can’t even access it? Stella Young on feminism and disability. [ABC Ramp Up] 

Image via RH Reality Check.

Magazine Cover of the Week: Gwyneth Paltrow is People’s Most Beautiful Woman.

gwyneth paltrow people most beautiful woman 2013

Something changed about Gwyneth Paltrow in the week between being named Star magazine’s most annoying celebrity and People‘s Most Beautiful… At least, the public perception of her has.

Transforming from uptight, cookbook evangelist and Goop editor to knickerless, boundary-pushing *Iron Man 3 spoiler alert* superheroine.

While I’ve never been one for Gwynnie, her media appearances of late have been rather personable and, dare I say it…?, likeable.

Elsewhere: [Daily Life] Gwyneth Paltrow Tops Irritating Celebs List.

[Daily Life] Look of the Day.

[Daily Life] Is Gwyneth’s Goop Sexualising Girls?

[TheVine] In Defence of Gwyneth Paltrow.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] The Gwyneth in My Head.

Image via HuffPo.

Event/TV: Glee—The Right & Wrong of It.

In lieu of a new episode of Glee last week, I attended a debate about the pros and cons of McKinley High and its glee club.

I was super excited, because I assumed the debate would entail a for Glee side, and an against. And it did. But while I thought the against side, consisting of Clem Bastow and Jess McGuire, would discuss the blatant sexism, racism, homo/transphobia, ableism, fatism and the many other phobias and -isms the show incorporates (feel free to add them in the comments), both panelists ultimately praised Glee for it’s inclusiveness and handling of the tough issues.

I’ve heard this rationalisation about Glee before. When my tuba-playing gay friend finally got into the show this season and fell hard for it, he thought I would sing its praises with him because he knew I watched it. (Evidently, he does not read this blog as he would know the main reason I like Glee is because I know I’ll always get a blog post out of it!) When I invited him to the debate, he had something else on but wondered what they would be debating, exactly. I referred to the list of problems I have with it (above and elaborated on below) and he replied, “But I thought Glee was about acceptance.” That’s what it wants you to think, and it blinds you to all the other issues with Katy Perry songs. As panelist for the “pro-Glee” side, Mel Campbell, said, “It’s best not to ask questions.”

While McGuire did touch on Glee’s pro-gay stance, and perhaps its best, and most underutilised, storyline of Brittany and Santana’s forbidden love, I was expecting SlutWalk Melbourne organiser and noted feminist Bastow to knock Glee out of the park for its anti-women portrayals. I was also sorely disappointed, as Bastow, a keen musical aficionado, chose to focus on the shows’ butchering of classic musical numbers.

So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to write about the issues I wished the panel had discussed last Thursday night.

Sexism.

I’ve written about feminism in Glee before, specifically as it’s embodied in the character of Rachel Berry. It annoys me to no end that Rachel is deemed “ugly” (though Lea Michele is anything but) because she’s annoying. And she’s annoying because she eschews traditional gender roles that are perhaps embodied by Quinn by being ambitious, voicing her opinions and unapologetically going after what she wants.

In a clip shown at the debate of the inaugural Glee mash-up in which Mr. Shuester separates the girls from the boys, Kurt attempts to join the girls’ side. Since when did being a gay man amount to the equivalent of a straight female?

Finally, I wouldn’t say sexism is the main problem in Mercedes’ perpetual (okay, she seems to have a boyfriend this season, but more on that later) bachelorettehood, rather some other issues I will address later in the piece.

Racism.

Now is as good a time as any to discuss Mercedes’ aforementioned singleness. Was she literally the only character in season two who didn’t have a significant other because she’s black? (Or because she’s fat?) Sure, she dated Sam for all of a few minutes in the season two final, but before that the only action she got was Kurt condescendingly suggesting she should date one of the guys on the football team because he was black and, like, they’d probably have heaps in common.

If that’s not enough proof of Glee’s insensitivity to race, all you need to do it look at any one episode for a myriad of references to Tina and Mike’s “Asianness”, Roy Flanagan’s “Irishness” (or leprechaunnes, as Brittany might refer to it) and Puck and Rachel’s “Jewishness” (though that also falls under religious prejudice as well).

Homophobia & Transphobia.

Sure, Glee’s pretty much a vehicle for Kurt and, increasingly, Blaine, to showcase their voices, fashion sense and flamboyance. McGuire chose to speak at length about how sensitively the show handled Kurt coming out to his dad and Kurt and Blaine’s first time, and I have to agree with her. And yes, seeing two men make gay love (okay, the implication of them making gay love) on primetime network television without a stink being kicked up is pretty groundbreaking, as panelist for Glee and MC, Tim Hunter, noted. But they still single out Kurt for his gayness (“Single Ladies [Put a Ring on It]” and “Le Jazz Hot!”, anyone?), not to mention how Finn went about outing Santana in “Mash Off”.

They’ve handled the Brittany/Santana thing the best out of every relationship in the show, so that’s one point for lesbianism, but at the expense of other sexual orientations and gender identities, perhaps?

Just look at “The Rocky Horror Glee Show”, for example. Not only to Mike’s parents make him pull out because they don’t want him associated with a “tranny” musical, but the show even substitutes the lyrics “I’m just a sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania” for “sensational Transylvania”. Pardon me, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about in using the word “transsexual”.

Finally, we can’t forget Coach Beiste. When she debuted on the show, her sexuality and gender was thrown up in the air, when she’s really just an unconventionally attractive, masculine straight woman who happens to coach a men’s football team. But of course attention is drawn to her 40-year-old virgin status every time there’s a virginity-themed episode. Because, you know, she’s old and funny-looking and has never been on a date! Riotous!

Ableism.

Where do I start? There’s Emma’s OCD, which is made fun of by everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Holly Holiday to her own parents (not to mention Will trying to come to her rescue by attempting to “cure” her). Artie’s wheelchair-bound way of life, which was even pointed out during the debate, only for the panelists to laugh at Artie wanting to give Blaine a standing ovation, “because he can’t”, and a whole episode, “Wheels”, insensitively dedicated to his disability.

I will applaud the show for their inclusion of, and remarkable sensitivity to, Down’s syndrome sufferers. But then they go and use undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome as an excuse for anti-social and selfish behaviour. Cutting off their nose to spite their face…

Fatism.

Puck’s rendition of “Fat Bottomed Girls” was a clip played at the talk, and was received by audible groans. To see Lauren so uncomfortable as Puck serenaded her was awkward for the audience, and the patronisation was palpable. Like, oh Glee has a plus-sized girl who doesn’t hate herself and is being chased by the hottest guy in school; we’ve come so far.

But when Mercedes is relegated to backing vocals in favour of the slim lined Rachel, can’t get a date and suffers from an alleged eating disorder which is swept under the rug with some sage advice and a granola bar from Quinn, it’s all just tokenism.

So there you have it: the debating of the issues I wished had’ve been brought up by the panel. As my friend, housemate and fellow debate-goer put it: “It was just like Glee: it slightly touched on the issues, but ultimately didn’t add anything new to the discourse.” So feel free to add anything I, or the panel, didn’t cover in the comments.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Original Song” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Brown Eyed Girl.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Duets” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee: T.G.Inappropriate.F.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Slutty Stride.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Rachel Berry as Feminist.

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

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] In Defence of Rachel Berry.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Boys Will be Boys, Revisited.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee Season 2 Final in Pictures.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Asian F” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The First Time” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee: Santana is Forced Out of the Closet.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The (Belated) Underlying Message in Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee “Sexy” Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee Back in Full Force.

Elsewhere: [Bitch Magazine] The Transcontinental Disability Choir: Glee-ful Appropriation.

[Xhibit P] Fat Girls Singing Backup: Body Images in Glee.

[TV.com] Is It Okay to Find Glee’s Plus-Sized Character, Lauren Zizes, Gross?

[Jezebel] Why Won’t Glee Give Mercedes a Boyfriend?

Image via Meg. All Things Me.

TV: Gwyneth Paltrow Addresses Tabloid Culture & Her Haters.

 

Normally—bar her inaugural appearance as Holly Holiday on Glee—I can’t stand Gwyneth Paltrow, but on last night’s Glee, she made some valid points.

When addressing the glee club’s hecklers, she admits that “we live in a culture that bombards us with images of these people who are richer than us, and happier than us and have more interesting sex than us”. Perhaps she could have factored in a Goop reference, instead of talking inappropriately about sex to 15-year-olds? Like, “… People who drink more free range, organic goats milk chai lattes with fair trade cinnamon than us.” Or, “… People who own more $53 fly swatters than us.”

She takes aim particularly at the “internet haters”, which take the form of Becky, as an Entertainment Weekly chat-room member, Azimio, as a NCIS blogger, and Jacob, as a Tweeter who helped take down Mubarak.

Jacob says, “The internet has allowed us to be brutally cruel without suffering any consequences”, to which Gwyneth responds with a knowing smile.

As Jezebel notes,

“Online commenters definitely mock celebrities because they’re totally jealous, not because stars often say condescending things that are simultaneously obnoxious and rife for parody.”

Related: The Big Issue Review, 1–14 March, 2011.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Gwyneth Addresses the Internet Haters on Glee.

[New York Magazine] Reasons to Love New York 2010: Because We Love Gwyneth Just the Way She Is.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

The beauty of Milhouse.

Mercury’s in retrograde. No wonder everything in my life has been up shit creek lately: friends, family, home life and, especially, work life. Here’s how to survive it.

Lots of good stuff on Musings of an Inappropriate Woman this week, where Rachel Hills writes on friendship and sameness in the life of an expat, “lessons in feminist activism” and her thoughts on teens and sexuality on TV:

“… The New York Observer’s Nate Freeman…, bafflingly, draws from this exchange that the characters on Skins get laid more often than the actors who play them because they don’t own web-enabled mobile phones. I’d be more inclined to suggest that they get laid more often because they’re fictional, and from a narrative drama perspective, having sex is more interesting than not having it. As one of my interview subjects put it: ‘Television is not an accurate portrayal of real life, but that’s kind of what we all like it for.’”

The joys of op-shopping for party favours.

“Giving The Big Bang Theory a Fair Chance.”

Spoiler Alert: Big Love Was About Feminism All Along.”

Control underwear is “Just a Girdle By Another Name”. Thoughts?

Gwyneth Paltrow puts her foot in it… again!

One of my favourite past Australian Idol contestants, Em Rusciano, who now presents for The 7pm Project, writes—hilariously—on the self-help book for MamaMia.

Also at MamaMia, Rick Morton on the app to “cure” homosexuality:

“Mobility guilt, yours for free.

“The app is mostly a direct port of information available on the website but, importantly, it’s available while you’re out and about in case you are overcome with sexual urges and need to keep your hands busy fiddling with an iPhone instead of, you know, the same sex.”

Mel Evans doesn’t like Belle de Work Expérience‘s take on Cosmo.

Image via Simpson Crazy.

TV: Glee “Sexy” Review.

 

Never before have I been so offended by Glee. They’ve gone wrong a lot in the past season and a half: “Duets”, where everyone but the token gay Kurt got to sing with a partner; Mercedes’ eating disorder cured by Quinn giving her a granola bar; and the Justin Bieber episode in general, which I actually liked, but several of my friends voiced their concern over it. But this episode was so ignorant in addressing the theme of sex amongst the New Directions members that it made me want to hurl.

Firstly, Gwyneth Paltrow’s return as Holly Holiday was unnecessary, but obviously they’re going to milk the character for all she’s worth. She was derogatory, snarky and just plain annoying; worlds away from her first appearance on the show.

Holly insults guidance counselor Emma for still being a virgin four months after her marriage to Carl the dentist, when clearly the girl has intimacy and bodily fluids issues, amongst many others. Plus, she’s still in love with Will Shuester, which Holly takes pleasure in rubbing in her face by hooking up with him.

She heads up the celibacy club, which she makes a mockery of, even more so than Santana’s recent membership.

When Emma leads Carl, Puck, Quinn and Rachel in a rendition of “Afternoon Delight”, Holly Gleefully points out that an afternoon delight is a romp in the PM, not a dessert as Emma thinks it is.

She leads the kids in a leather-clad performance of “Do You Wanna Touch Me”, which completely undermines Mr. Shue’s previous efforts to protect the kids from singing songs by such risqué artists as Britney Spears. But, you know, this is Glee, where the storyline takes a back seat to big names and bigger songs.

But the most offensive part of the show was Holly and Will massacring one of my favourite Prince songs, “Kiss”.

The only redeeming quality of the episode was Santana’s heartfelt, yet obviously tormented, declaration of love for Brittany, who turned her down in favour of Artie.

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Blame it on the Alcohol” Episode.

How to Make a Woman Fall in Love With You, Glee Style.

Glee “Silly Love Songs” Review.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Furt” Episode.

The (Belated) Underlying Message in Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Duets” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Grilled Cheesus” Episode.

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

Images via YouTube.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

The latest Teen Vogue with Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale on the cover worryingly espouses using dieting to achieve “Your Best Body”.

Minnie Mouse meets beatnik meets Gala Darling is the latest “blog girl” trend.

A superb 2004 Andrew Denton interview with media darling/mogul Ita Buttrose.

Charlie Glickman on the perils of alternative male and female sexuality.

Pop music=guilty pleasure no more. (However, stay tuned next week for an alternative view on this subject.)

Girl with a Satchel laments the unattractive “View from the Glossip Stand” in Zoo’s UnAustralians of the Year feature.

“Stereotyping is a fun and useful tool… to categorise interests and make harmful blanket statements” about your favourite magazines. For example, Lula is for those who “never spend money on U.S. fashion magazines because they just don’t ‘get it’; they’re so dull”, while Details has “a strong Patrick Bateman vibe”.

More on Gwyneth Paltrow’s unlikability, this time from New York Magazine:

“Gwyneth is also kind of a jerk. Her perfection is judgment on the rest of us, and she makes this known in interviews and on her lifestyle website, Goop, the tone of which suggests a domestic personality just one degree shy of Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest.”

The Freudian nature of the vampire.

How women are reclaiming “bitch” as their own.

New research indicates that women’s bodies may protect themselves from rape. And so opens a whole other can of consent worms…

“Are Music Video Girls Exploited?”

This article puts to the rest the “you can’t be both beautiful and smart” way of thinking.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

It’s a smorgasbord of Katy, Ke$ha, Britney and Gaga as Complex counts down “The 25 Greatest ‘Slutwave’ Songs of All Time”.

In other Katy and Ke$ha-related news, Feminist Music Geek critiques their acts.

Finally, closing off a Katy Perry heavy week, Jezebel ponders the similarities between “Firework” and Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful”.

Sady Doyle on Charlie Chaplin’s paedophilia on film:

“I… kind of forgot, actually, that Charlie Chaplin was a pedophile?… Boy howdy, this movie sure didn’t!… It invites you to get off on this… We got a scene where the FBI tried to go after Chaplin for his dangerous left-wing activities, BY PERSUING STATUATORY RAPE CHARGES AGAINST HIM. “It’ll ruin him,” the evil right wing poo-hating US government cackles.”

Hmm… strangely echoes a certain left-winger accused of rape in the media at the moment…

Hermione Granger perfects her “judgemental badger” face.

“Empty Bellies Do Not Beget Genius”.

Now this is how “self-marriage” is done. Glee, take note.

Following on from last week, “Is Lara Bingle the new Paris Hilton?”

Is the antidote to “Taylor Swift’s Endless Reign” a Lindsay Lohan singing career revival?

Coco Rocha reveals “The One That Got Away”.

Gala Darling detoxes her closet.

MamaMia asks, “Do You Have Mother Issues?” Oh hell yes! And daddy ones, too!

More on why Gwyneth Paltrow is just that damn unlikeable.

JWoww’s heinous ex calls her pre-surgery body “deformed” by cellulite. Nice.

2010 was the year of the mistress.

In defence of May-December romances.

What does your ponytail say about you?

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“Christina Aguilera: Always the Second Fiddle.”

I don’t believe in New Years resolutions anymore, namely because I could never realise mine. But I like Rachel Hills’ idea of writing an obituary for the year passed. In this case, her 2008 in review.

HuffPo on the absence of modern technology in modern literature:

“The average fictional character is either so thoroughly disinterested in email, social media, and text messages he never thinks of it, or else hastily mentions electronic communications in the past tense. Sure, characters in fiction may own smart phones, but few have the urge to compulsively play with the device while waiting to meet a friend or catch a flight. This ever-present anachronism has made it so that almost all literary fiction is science fiction, a thought experiment as to what life might be like if we weren’t so absorbed in our iPhones but instead watched and listened to the world around us at a moment’s rest.”

Girl with a Satchel ponders the price of a pretty picture.

“Caring for Your Introvert” is one of the best articles I’ve read all year (and considering it was written in 2003, that’s saying something). Here, an excerpt:

“With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. ‘People person’ is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like ‘guarded’, ‘loner’, ‘reserved’, ‘taciturn’, ‘self-contained’, ‘private’—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.

“The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts’ Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say ‘I’m an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush.’”

Furthermore, The Los Angeles Times notes that despite the introverted minority, television doesn’t reflect their existence very well. (Does television reflect anything very well?):

“Watch Seinfeld or Friends or Sex & the City or Community or Men of a Certain Age—the list is endless—and you’ll see people who not only are never ever alone but people whose relationships are basically smooth, painless, uninhibited and deeply, deeply intimate—the kind of friendships we may have had in college but that most of us can only dream about now. How many adults do you know who manage to hang out with their friends every single day for hour after hour?”

On that, Gossip Girl is notorious for misrepresenting reality. While she knows I love her, GG often makes me feel guilty about the clothes I’m not wearing, the sex I’m not having, and the events I’m not going to. Apparently, it’s not true to the books, either.

Check out The Washington City Paper for their musings on masculinity over the past decade, with a special focus on boy bands, metrosexuals, hipsters and guidos, à la Jersey Shore.

Gwyneth Paltrow: You either love her or hate her. I hated her with a passion until I saw her on Glee, in which she came across as carefree, cool and sexy and made her a tiny bit more relatable to the general populus who don’t subscribe to her Goop musings. Mia Freedman writes hilariously on this conundrum, with a focus on a related article from Salon.

Also at MamaMia, “17 Arguments Against Gay MarriageAnd Why They’re Bullocks” is brilliant.

Tangled will be the last fairytale Disney releases in a while.

Can you still be a feminist and dress in a bra top? (Of course you can; stay tuned for more on this next week.) Or espouse archaic notions of heterosexual relations, for that matter?

“The Ongoing, Albeit Amusing, Battle to Save Bristol” on Dancing with the Stars:

“‘This seems like a case of the rich, popular cheerleaders looking like they’ve sucked on a lemon when they learn that the poor girl in school, the one in the home-made clothes and religious family, gets elected Prom Queen.’

“I’ve rarely seen such a clean-cut example of the conservative tendency to say up is down and black is white. Or, more precisely, to bemoan how oppressed white, rich, and highly privileged people are.

“… But Bristol Palin hasn’t really done squat. She is literally famous for having a baby at an inopportune time. And now she continues to get promoted over more talented people than her because she was born into the right family… Bristol Palin is a hero to wingnut America because she’s a great example of rewarding someone for being born into privilege instead of on their merits.

“… I just find it extremely funny that the wingnutteria is backing someone with no talent on a show with no real importance to stick it to liberals who by and large don’t really care, and they’re doing so because they’re intoxicated by privilege and kind of wish they had a monarchy, but they’re pretending that they’re doing it because they want to see the oppressed rise above. I suppose after Dancing with the Stars is done, they should start sticking it to the liberals by defending poor, oppressed Paris Hilton, who is definitely the weird girl with handmade clothes that is picked on by cheerleaders.”

Mel Gibson and the curse of the “Sexiest Man Alive” tag.

On Stieg Larsson and the “disturbing”, “torturous” patriarchy of his Millennium trilogy.

Women are funny, too.