On the (Rest of the) Net.

Melissa Fabello makes some good points in her video about not wasting time on in-fighting about who’s a good feminist and who’s not, but you know me; I really think more people should proud to call themselves feminists and that not all supposedly feminist acts are created equal.

Speaking of, it’s no secret I’m Taylor Swift’s number one hater but over at One Week One Band the dissection of all things Swift is truly eye-opening if a bit fawning. I still think she’s a dolt with some seriously detrimental views about gender and sex, but it’s nice to look at her music from a different point of view for a change.

Anthony Weiner’s mistress, Sydney Leathers (what a name!) gives her top sexting advice. And it’s mind-numbingly mundane. [xoJane]

A call to arms for Twitter to do something about their complacency for rape threats and gender-based hatred from a woman who’s been there; the woman who was faced with a torrent of vitriolic abuse from Tyler, the Creator and his fans. [Daily Life]

Rachel Hills on Hugo Scwhyzer’s retirement from the online femisphere. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Bisexuality on The O.C. [Bitch]

Why are all TV serial killers’ victims women? [The Guardian]

Well, the 12th Doctor Who wasn’t a woman or a person of colour, as has recently been speculated, but is Peter Capaldi’s age progressive in itself? [TheVine]

Then again, maybe not. [Jezebel]

The sexual politics of Grindr. [The Guardian]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Does having a feminist as a running mate during the election campaign make Julian Assange more palatable to voters concerned with the rape allegations against him? [Online Opinion]

A really thought-provoking piece about the evolution of cooking. Meal preparation is the bane of my existence; I’d rather clean than cook. I find it so boring and time-consuming that if I was to come into a large chunk of money, I would seriously consider hiring a personal chef. Recently, I even privately mused about just ordering takeaway every night, but that isn’t necessarily in line with my ethical philosophies, not to mention health. [Daily Life]

Hugo Schwyzer has quit feminism. While a lot of feminists will be rejoicing at this fact, I actually like Hugo and will be sad to see his brand of male feminism disappear from the feminist interwebs. At least for now… [The Cut]

Twitter misogynists are finally getting their comeuppance. [Daily Life]

Camilla Peffer writes about the inherent sexism of Australia’s Next Top Model. [TheVine]

An interesting response to “I want to date you because you’re awesome”: “I want you to date me because I’m awesome”. [Pandagon]

“The Rape Joke”: a poem about being raped. *trigger warning* [The Awl]

The difference between the Melbourne murders of Jill Meagher and Tracy Connelly? Meagher was “the perfect victim” worthy of mourning while Connelly was just a prostitute. [The King's Tribune]

But Wendy Squires posits that Meagher and Connelly were more similar than we think: they were both victims of predators who want to hurt women, regardless of their occupation. [The Age]

And it turns out the anonymous sex worker in Squires’ piece, above, was Tracy Connelly. [MamaMia]

Sex & the City‘s Samantha vs. Cougartown. [New York Magazine] 

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

It’s that time of year again when U.S. residents in particular, but an increasing amount of Aussies, too, start gearing up for the last day of October when the jack-o’-lanterns are lit, trick or treating is had, and costumes are curated: Halloween.

The holiday that is believed to have pagan roots in preparing for the onset of winter in the northern hemisphere and warding off evil spirits when the barrier between the dead and the living is at its thinnest, but is more traditionally an excuse for kids to dress up and gorge themselves on lollies, has been appropriated by the mostly-Gen Y masses as an excuse to get your kit off.

Obviously not everyone celebrates Halloween by finding the shortest, tightest, most low-cut outfit available, but the perception of female sluttiness is, if not encouraged, then more acceptable on All Hallow’s Eve than on a regular night out. (Not to worry; garden-variety slut-shaming is sure to be had on October 31st as well.) As Nicole Elphick points out, slutty Halloween costumes are acceptable because we’re often portraying if not a different version of ourselves, then someone else completely: “Oh, it’s just a costume – it’s not me!”

Certainly there are less mainstream Halloween-centric events out there, where party-goers take pride in creating the most original, obscure and ugly costumes they can. But for the not-so-dedicated novice Halloween goers who don’t have the time or money to come up with a truly fancy or left-of-centre costume, there’s always the “one slut fits all” section of the costume store brimming with options.

You know the area of Lombards or any costume hire store that’s segregated from the “serious” party paraphernalia and stocks such run-of-the-mill outfits as the sexy maid, the sexy nurse and the mediocre “tuxedo bunny” that resembles the traditional Playboy bunny costumes not one iota. (This Halloween I’m dressing up as Gloria Steinem when she went undercover at The Playboy Club in the ’60s, so I can attest to the poor quality and unrealistic [oh, the irony!] Playboy costumes available for purchase, so much so that I had mine made.) Sure, these costumes are quick, cheap and come with most of the accessories needed to complete the look—in fact, some of them consist solely of the accessories and little else, fabric-wise—but they’re boring  and flash as much flesh as possible. Where are the options for those who don’t want to default to eye-candy or the “sexy nurse” or “sexy nun” instead of a legitimate doctor or person of the clergy?

Furthermore, the problem with the sexy person woman-in-uniform, sexy animal and sexy Scrabble costumes is not only the unoriginality of the former and the absurdity of the latter, but the blatant feminising of these costumes: apparently only women can be sexy fire-fighters, sexy Nemos and sexy showers, while men are just fire-fighters, Nemo and a shower. (The argument could be made that all men in uniform are inherently sexy, but their occupations definitely aren’t sexualised the way in which women in these professions—or even just in these costumes—are.) Elphick adds that, “You can think of almost any regular costume and odds are some costume manufacturer has already made a risqué version for full-grown women.”

Lisa Wade elaborates on the dearth of “sexy” male costumes in an article on Sociological Images. Not only that, but the “sexy” costumes that areavailable to men focus on sex as something to be laughed at or on a man’s status as a recipient of sex from women, not as sex objects themselves:

“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.”

Maybe with the success of Magic Mike this year we’ll be seeing an influx of male stripper-inspired costumes… Something tells me this is doubtful.

*

I think this obsession with Halloween hyper-feminisation is just a magnified reflection of society’s need for women to be heteronormatively feminine: long hair augmented with extensions for the event, facial symmetry exaggerated with over-the-top makeup and false eyelashes, slender (I, personally, have upped my fitness regime over the past couple of months in preparation), wears dresses (have you noticed how even if the effigy’s garb resembles a dress in no way, the Halloween costume will inevitably appropriate it into a skirt or, less-often, short-shorts if it’s marketed towards women? The “sexy” Sesame Street costumes that have been in the news of recent come to mind).

Rachel Hills hit the nail on the head when, in a response to a similar post earlier this year, she pondered whether the gravitation towards hyper-feminine and-sexy get-ups either in daily life or for special events reflect a fear of not being seen as attractive enough.

Reflecting on my past costume party ensembles, which include Catwoman, sexy Rosie the Riveter and Eve bare as much flesh as possible, it would seem a fear of being perceived as unattractive, unfeminine and/or unsexy is inherent in them, too. As someone who is relatively content with her appearance and in touch with her feminist side (no matter how “slutty” my costumes appear to the naked eye, I always try to incorporate my feminism in there somewhere), this is not something that is front of mind when putting my outfits together, but I guess the evidence speaks for itself: the most conservative Halloween costume I’ve worn was a long, pink vintage dress that I accessorised with fishnets, a feather boa and a headband to portray a 1920s flapper. The only time I’ve ever incorporated pants into the mix was when they were skin-tight pleather leggings (Catwoman, a female wrestler, and one of Barbie’s Rockers), going back as far as my first outing as Catwoman at my tenth birthday party. Inappropriate? Perhaps. But I guess that also conveys a telling tale of our expectations of femininity and, increasingly, sexiness, when it comes to young girls, a topic which is probably best left unpacked til another time.

But maybe we’re reading too much into this? Just because a woman chooses to amp up her sexuality and flash some flesh on Halloween doesn’t necessarily mean that this desire is insidiously ingrained in her by the patriarchy. Feminist du jour Caitlin Moran insists that women are “not dressing up sexy: It’s a parody of sexuality. They’re being silly,” while sex and gender writer Hugo Schwyzer thinks that “the lack of options for any other kind of costume make sexiness the default position rather than the chosen one.” But I have plenty of friends—both female and male—who enjoy getting their sexy on as often as they cover up in the costume department.

When I asked a friend who is so dedicated to her more masculine costumes that I often don’t recognise her for all the faux facial hair, but who also tarts it up with the best of them, most recently in a “sexy” Little Bo Peep costume for her birthday, she said she honestly doesn’t give it much thought. “[Costumes] allow me to hide any insecurities I would usually have… I can hide who I really am for the time I’m in costume,” she said, which is not unlike Elphick’s above assertion that “Halloween is all about taking on an identity that is explicitly not yours.” None of said friends are particularly feminist in their thinking so, as “civilians”, it’s refreshing that they dress up this way without pushing an anti-gender stereotyping message; they haven’t given it a second thought and do it because they want to. Perhaps there is hope for us yet…

Schwyzer sums it up thusly:

“[The] mandatory sexualization of girls and women reflects a culture ill at ease with women’s power. Halloween is at least partly about how we manage fear—and one fear we seem to still have is of powerful women. Sexualising everyone from tween girls to grown mothers is actually a way of reinforcing traditional values. Underneath it all, the message is, all women are the same—they just want attention from men.”

Going back to the earlier point that the reason we see so much skin on Halloween is because of the utter lack of pre-packaged sartorial alternatives, you have to wonder about the costumes that mimic their real-life and/or fantasy life counterparts to a tee: is the reason Halloween has strayed so far from its pagan roots because of our increasingly sex-obsessed society and need for the genders to perform as they always have? For all the absurdly sexualised children’s characters, pets and household appliances, there are as many traditionally scantily attired female superheroes, pop stars and influential women in history to choose from.

As for the guys, Schwyzer thinks the popularity of Magic Mike might see the odd male dressed in short shorts, a bow tie and not much else, but for the most part, they’ll stick to the established costumed-gender norms of “endless capes and Harlequin masks”, just as most women will go for the shorter, tighter, sexier option.

Related: Slut-Shaming in Romantic Relationships—It’s Not On Unless It’s Not On.

‘Tis the Season…

Costumes & Gender.

Elsewhere: [Daily Life] Why Sexy Halloween Costumes Are Okay.

[Jezebel] A Musical Reminder That You Can Wear Clothes on Halloween & That’s Okay.

[Sociological Images] What Do Sexy Halloween Costumes for Men Look Like?

[io9] Slutty Sesame Street Halloween Costumes Prove (Again) That Nothing is Sacred, Culture is a Sham.

[Salon] Caitlin Moran: Women Have Won Nothing.

Image via Buzzfeed.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes in defence of Hugo Schwyzer’s inclusion in feminism. Brilliant; it’s kind of what I wish I had written.

On Katherine Heigl’s failed career and women in Hollywood:

“Much has been said… about how Heigl herself has created the fiasco that has become her career—her alleged difficult behaviour on set, her unpopular public statements about the projects she’s involved in, her perceived irritability—but this has more to do with media gender bias than Heigl herself. For instance, Daniel Craig and Matt Damon have recently taken to making increasingly brash public statements about projects they’ve worked on, their personal politics and views on modern society—and no one has criticized them, questioned their box-office viability or used their gender to explain their remarks. Like Sean Penn, they’re men in an industry dominated by men—and unless they’re saying something overtly racist, they can say just about whatever they like, and in the case of Charlie Sheen, they might even be applauded for it.” [HuffPo]

Rick Morton attempts to dissect the “frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex” that is Rick Santorum. [MamaMia]

Madonna and black culture. [Steven Stanley]

The latest trend in YouTubing: asking viewers if you’re ugly. [Jezebel]

Rachel Hills on the launch of Sunday Life’s daily website, Daily Life, its viral pet name #DailyWife, and how women’s issues are relegated to the “lifestyle” pages:

“… I’ve wondered why everything pertaining to women is classified under ‘Life and Style’, and I’ve wondered why ‘lifestyle journalism’ is so often boiled down to advertorial for fashion and beauty products (answer: probably because the associated advertising is what pays for writers like me). I’ve wondered if the fact that writing related to gender politics is usually published in ‘Life and Style’ or colour magazine supplements contributes to the perception that… female journalists write pointless ‘pap’.” [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Why atheism is akin to being a pariah in the U.S. [Slate]

And now for the Chris Brown portion of the program…

Russell Simmons is a Brown apologist and compares his assault on Rihanna to the problems of Disney kids. Yeah, except Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Demi Lovato never hurt anyone but themselves. [Global Grind]

Why Brown’s behaviour sucks, this time from a psychological point of view. [Slate]

We failed the young ladies who tweeted they’d let Chris Brown beat them:

“We failed you when Charlie Sheen was allowed and eagerly encouraged to continue to star in movies and have a hit television show that basically printed him money after he shot Kelly Preston ‘accidentally’ and he hit a UCLA student in the head when she wouldn’t have sex with him and he threatened to kill his ex-wife Denise Richards and he held a knife to his ex-wife Brooke Mueller’s throat. We failed you when Roman Polanski received an Oscar even though he committed a crime so terrible he hasn’t been able to return to the United States for more than thirty years. We failed you when Sean Penn fought violently with Madonna and continued a successful, critically acclaimed career and also received an Oscar.

“We fail you every single time a (famous) man treats a woman badly, without legal, professional, or personal consequence.” [The Rumpus]

One of my favourite professional wrestlers, straightedger CM Punk, challenges Brown to fight someone his own size. [Jezebel]

And ANOTHER stand up guy challenges Brown to a fight! [Deadspin]

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”.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

How a uni student wearing a modest floral dress, tights and a cardi inspired a fellow (male) student to give her a note detailing all the reasons her outfit was slutty and distracting. [Footage Not Found]

Why Bridesmaids should win an Oscar. [Daily Life]

Some snarky ways your Personhood-holding feotus can have their constitutional rights granted. [Jezebel]

A timeline of Chris Brown’s heinousness. [BuzzFeed]

Rachel Hills is a Friday feminaust. [Feminaust]

Why is it okay for gay men to bag women when we would never accept the same behaviour from a straight man? Is it because we don’t see gay men as “real men”? [Daily Life]

Nicki Minaj has got the same sized hands as Marilyn Monroe? [The Grio]

My year as a rom-com watcher. [Jezebel]

Hugo Schwyzer responds to Bettina Arndt’s assertion that women who dress provocatively and then complain about attention from the “wrong” type of men are teases:

“The calculus of entitlement works like this: if women don’t want to turn men on, they need to cover up. If they don’t cover up, they’ll turn men on. If they turn men on, women are obligated to do something to assuage that lust. Having turned them on, if women don’t give men what they want, then women are cruel teases who have no right to complain if men lash out in justified rage at being denied what they’ve been taught is rightfully theirs.” [Jezebel]

Image via Footage Not Found.

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.

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.