On the (Rest of the) Net.

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I’m writing about female friendship in For a Good Time, Call… [Bitch Flicks]

One of the things that struck me during my trip to New York was the abundance of women of colour caring for white children. The movies would have you believe that most nannies are white (The Nanny DiariesUptown GirlsMary Poppins) but I don’t recall seeing any. Ellen Jacobs’ photo series documents these women and their charges. [Slate]

I Kissed a Girl: Rihanna and Shakira’s faux, male gazey lesbianism. [Jezebel]

Meanwhile, Russian lesbians shouldn’t be seen. [Feminist Times]

Magazine Covers of the Week: Worth Talking About.

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The first cover listed here to grab my attention was Hillary Clinton for New York magazine, but then Miley came along and blew that out of the (pool) water as she is wont to do.

The accompanying interview for her Rolling Stone cover was done in the days following her much-talked-about MTV VMAs performance, which is discussed at length inside. And rest assured, there are lots of scantily clad shots to compliment her tongue-thrusting on the cover.

Next comes Chris Brown for Jet, a cover which doesn’t necessarily grab the eye as the others do, but it’s what Brown says inside, a snippet of which is captured on the cover, that’s noteworthy. He who is a perpetuator of violence himself identifies with Trayvon Martin, the teen who was shot dead a year and a half ago in Florida in an alleged self-defence. His killer, neighbourhood watchman George ZImmerman, was acquitted of his murder in July this year, and was involved in an apparent domestic violence incident with his estranged wife earlier this month. His wife later refused to press charges.

Now, I’m not saying that Brown can’t identify with a fellow young black man who has been victimised, but equating murder with justified criticism for intimate partner violence and a lack of remorse for said violence is a bit rich.

Finally, in the wake of the mall massacre in Nairobi which, it is believed, had a woman at the helm of the terrorist operation, Pakistan’s Newsweek has a cover story on the rise of female terrorist. I think alternative cover art would have conveyed their message just as well as explosive-tampons…

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Related: We Are All Trayvon.

Images via The Hollywood GossipVanity FairNY Daily NewsYahoo! Finance.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Don’t take your anger and befuddlement on Matthew Newton out on his parents, says Mia Freedman. [MamaMia]

Where are all the older women and people of colour in movies? [Jezebel]

Funny or Die finally gave R&B crooner Brian McKnight’s “How Your Pussy Works” (“I bet you didn’t know that it could squirt!” is a sample line) a chance, even making a hilarious sock puppet video to go with!

Obama amps up his reelection campaign with his “Life of Julia” website, a project that highlights his pro-women stance and shows what a woman can expect over her lifetime with an Obama administration. [Barack Obama]

Still with American politics, how can we convince Hillary Clinton to run for President? [Jezebel]

And, still with Hillary Clinton, what her make-up-free and glasses-clad face tells us about beauty. [Jezebel]

Stella Young on the National Disability Insurance Scheme. [MamaMia]

What exactly constitutes “losing your virginity”? [Daily Life]

It’s not just Arab men who hate women. [The Age]

Where are all the manic pixie dream guys? [Jezebel]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

How Hillary Clinton got cool. [Think Progress]

The Hunger Games and blonde, innocent girls. [New Yorker]

What Lady Gaga’s #PopStarsDon’tEat tweet says about body-policing. [Jezebel]

All you men out there who don’t like risking pregnancy every time you have sex: take the male birth control pledge. Go on, I dare ya. [How About We]

To borrow a line from this post’s author, Lindy West, “… I was just saying the other day that my misogyny didn’t have enough racism in it”, now yours can, too, with Clean & Dry Intimate Wash, an Indian douching and vaginal bleaching product. [Jezebel]

The hen or the egg? Sweden introduces a new, gender-neutral word in place of “she” and “he”. [The Age]

Who needs feminism? I do, because that’s my choice. [ShoutOut! JMU]

Are breast reductions as “superficial” as breast enhancements? [MamaMia]

Do pedophiles deserve privacy? Um, no! [MamaMia]

Will all the pearl clutchers please stop getting so worked up about the response One Direction elicits in teenage girls. [Daily Life]

Image via Texts from Hillary.

12 Posts of Christmas: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

In the spirit Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favourite posts of the year in the twelve days leading up to December 25th. 

This one was written after Paper Giants aired on ABC in April, comparing the heyday of magazines with the impact of the digital world. You can read the original post here.

A few weeks ago, in response to ABC’s Paper Giants: The Birth of CleoMia Freedman wrote on MamaMia about her thoughts on the state of the (mag) nation and if magazines are still relevant and the amount of influence they wield in 2011:

“… Not that much excitement goes on in magazines anymore… [It’s a struggle to] get them [those who work on a magazine] to try and think about something that hasn’t been done before, something that will start a conversation and boost sales.”

Freedman compares pay TV’s Park Street, a The Devil Wears Prada-esque reality show about ACP’s head offices, featuring the editors of DollyCleoCosmoMadison and Shop Til You Drop, which received dismal ratings and poor audience response, to the critical success and brilliant take on Cleo in her influential heyday of Paper Giants. She says, “Gemma Crisp [editor of Cleo] explained the editorial process that a story undergoes from conception to publication. It takes a minimum of three months… When was the last time you waited three months for something? Life doesn’t happen in increments of months anymore. It happens in moments, in text messages, in Tweets. It’s fast and it’s relentless and if it takes you three months (or even three weeks) to get from thought to print then that’s just too long to retain the attention of your audience.”

When she puts it like that, Freedman makes me long for a simpler time, when I hung on the every word magazines published, as opposed to reading hundreds of articles a week, mostly on blogs, but also in magazines, in an attempt to stay on top of my blogging game.

Erica Bartle, creator of Girl with a Satchel and a former mag girl herself, says Freedman’s “blog-cum-website” “deals in what everyone’s talking about TODAY. It feeds off the 24-hour news cycle. And Mia’s own profile. And her opinion… It’s like a current affairs program for women online.” And now with MamaMia launching on SkyNews, Freedman’s brand is literally a current affairs program.

Not all blogs can operate this way. MamaMia has a team of bloggers, editors and techs who keep the site running smoothly which thus, as Bartle said, allows it to operate on a 24-hour news cycle.

Personally, I have a part-time paid job I go to four times a week, this means I only get to blog two or three days a week, and with so much info to process and a maximum of 15 posts per week to churn out in a small amount of time, this means The Early Bird Catches the Worm is not always the early bird.

But even for those who blog fulltime, like Bartle, it’s not always about what’s happening right NOW as it is about maintaining the blog’s integrity.“I personally operate on a different plane, because my beliefs very much inform my work. For that, I’m willing to sacrifice certain economic constraints,” she says.

Still in the blogging world, you have someone like Gala Darling, who is very much a self-made businesswoman as a result of her über-successful blog of the same name. She’s gone from strength to strength over the past few years; something she could never have done had she been a magazine editor (bar the select few, like Anna Wintour, Anna Dello Russo and yes, Freedman).

But, essentially, MamaMia has the advantage of possessing “a figurehead with credibility whose background is in traditional media. She has the gut instinct of an editor. Online you need news nous as well as technological nous and business nous.”

Another editor who has these qualities in spades is former Cleo and Girlfriend editor, Sarah Oakes, whom Bartle worked under at Girlfriend. Bartle says she invoked an atmosphere of ghosts of magazines past, creating “camaraderie, creativity and positivity, which I think she achieved. She gave you more work if she thought you could be stretched; gave you a talking to if you had crossed a line; gave you a pat on the back for a job well done.” Very Ita-like, wouldn’t you say?

Oakes is now editor of The Age Sydney Morning Herald’s Sunday Life supplement, a title which has improved markedly since she took over. (I have also blogged here about how I think both Girlfriend and Cleo became better titles under her leadership.)

In fact, newspaper inserts are giving the glossies on the newsstand a run for their money, as they “are getting exclusives and have strong writing and design teams, as well as columnists and styling/shoots. These free weekly titles, because of the mastheads they reside within, have enviable readerships and access to celebrities. They are also respectable, well executed and FREE,” Bartle notes.

But at the end of the day, are magazines relevant?

Freedman writes:

“The internet has not only sucked up their readers, it has also gobbled up their purpose: to be a way women form tribes and communicate. Now there’s YouPorn and any other number of sites for titillation, Google for questions about sex, and any number of websites or free newspaper magazines if you’re looking for other types of content or a magazine-style experience. Women don’t want to be spoken TO anymore. They want to be part of the conversation, something which the internet allows, in fact depends on… the internet has taken the sting out of the raunch-factor for mags like Cosmo and Cleo.”

Yes, as Freedman says, there are much raunchier locales to get what would have been included in a sealed section only a few years ago. There’s also Perez Hilton, TMZ and even shows like Entertainment Tonight and E! News that monopolise celebrity content, while the fashion blogs are more of a go-to for what kids are wearing these days.

Sure, Vogue’s always going to be a premiere source for high fashion shoots from photographers the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Patrick Demarchelier and David LaChapelle, but magazines “seem to exist on a strangely distant planet where all the people look like plastic and the sole pursuit is ‘perfection’. Except that perfection doesn’t really exist,” says Freedman.

When sites like JezebelCover Girl Culture and, yes, MamaMia and Girl with a Satchel are debunking photoshop myths and striving for more realistic representations of women in the media, magazines are doing this movement any favours. (Except maybe Brigitte.)

And when you can get most of a magazine’s content online anyway (I passed on a near-$20 copy of US Harper’s Bazaar in favour of accessing interviews with Kim Kardashian and Hillary Clinton on their website), are they really worth it?

Bartle doesn’t think so. “No, but they need to be distinctive from what we can get online or elsewhere if we are going to part with $5-$10 to purchase one. Premium magazines, which I have no qualms spending extra on, include The Gentlewoman and O The Oprah Magazine, because they cater to my tastes, sensibility and need for a good read on a Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea.”

I agree with Bartle’s sentiments.

While online is great for content from individuals not curated and/or watered down by magazines editors to fit the mold of their magazine, holding a truly great glossy in your hands, like the appeal of a physical book, while at the hairdressers, a café or tucked up in bed, means magazines will always hold a place in our hearts.

Right next to the Kindle and Google Reader.

Related: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

Everything They Touch Turns To Gold.

Evolution of the Bookshop at The Wheeler Centre.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Paper Giants VS. Park Street: Why Magazines Are Not What They Used to Be.

[MamaMia] MamaMia Gets a TV Show.

[Girl with a Satchel] Homepage.

[Girl with a Satchel] Mid-Week Media Musings.

[Gala Darling] Homepage.

Pop-Feminism.

From “How the Blogosphere Has Transformed the Feminist Conversation” by Emily Nussbaum in New York Magazine:

“For too long, it was the anti-feminists who owned that brand: Katie Roiphe, Camille Paglia, Caitlin Flanagan.

“And this bold style might have been lost forever, if it weren’t for the web. Lacking editors (whose intolerance for insanity tends to sand off pointy edges), lacking balance (as any self-publishing platform tends to), laced with humor and fury (emotions intensified by the web’s spontaneity), the blogosphere has transformed feminist conversation, reviving in the process an older style of activism among young women. It’s a renaissance that began around 2004, when feminist blogs were rare. Left-wing blogging was on the rise, a phenomenon that was strikingly male…

“Then, during the 2008 presidential campaign, the Net exploded with debate about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, not to mention Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama. At the time, the website Jezebel—the flamboyant ‘Girlie Gawker’ founded by Anna Holmes—got the biggest numbers it had seen since its launch.

“As the volume of posts increased, subjects recurred from early feminism, including outrage at sexual violence. But there were also striking differences: While seventies feminists had little truck with matrimony, feminist bloggers lobbied for gay marriage. There were deconstructions of modern media sexism, including skeptical responses to the ‘concern-trolling’ of older women who made a living denouncing the ‘hookup epidemic.’ There was new terminology: ‘slut-shaming,’ ‘body-snarking,’ ‘cisgender.’ And there were other cultural shifts as well: an acceptance (and sometimes a celebration) of porn, an interest in fashion, and the rise of the transgendered-rights movement, once seen as a threat, now viewed as a crucial part of sexual diversity.

“Perhaps most strikingly, there was a freewheeling fascination with celebrity culture and reality television, even on the most radical sites. Instead of viewing pop culture as toxic propaganda, bloggers embraced it as a shared language, a complex code to be solved together, and not coincidentally, something fun. In an age of search engines, it was a powerful magnet: Again and again, bloggers described pop­culture posts to me as a ‘gateway drug’ for young women—an isolated teenager in rural Mississippi would Google ‘Beyoncé’ or ‘Real Housewives,’ then get drawn into threads about abortion. Some of the best memes out there are the least categorisable, like Feminist Ryan Gosling, a blog that features the adorable star of Drive ‘citing’ poststructuralist philosopher ­Judith Butler. Is it a joke? A turn-on? A sly carrier for theory? It doesn’t really matter, because it’s the perfect viral pass-around.”

Related:  Yet Another Way in Which Madonna & Lady Gaga Are Alike.

Surfing the Third Wave: Second-Wave VS. Third-Wave Feminism on Gossip Girl.

Beyonce: Countdown to Overexposure.

Elsewhere: [New York Magazine] How the Blogosphere Has Transformed the Feminist Conversation.

[Feminist Ryan Gosling] Homepage.