Movies: (Men & Women Can’t Just Be) Friends with (Biological) Kids*.

 

I had high hopes for Friends with Kids. Not knowing much about the premise aside from the fact that the movie centred around two friends who decide to have a baby together without the romantic attachment, and the fact that Megan Fox and the cast of Bridesmaids was in it, I was looking forward to it.

But it failed to live up to the hype I’d created in my mind. Don’t get me wrong, ruminating on it, I thought the characters were real, gritty, likable and infuriating at the same time; much like Bridesmaids. I applaud Jennifer Westfeldt for writing such human characters (she also starred in, produced and directed the flick. Go girl!), but I just couldn’t get behind their motivations.

The story begins with Julie (Westfeldt) and Jason, two besties who see the affect children have on their friends’ marriages, and decide to have a baby together whilst still seeing other people, so they have the best of both worlds. What troubled me about this scenario was that alternative means of baby-having were never discussed. In America, it’s easy (in comparison to other countries, like Australia) to adopt a baby as a well-off, single woman. I can’t imagine it would be hard to add Jason’s name to the birth certificate as the father. Or how about surrogacy? Unbelievably, IVF isn’t discussed at all and Julie and Jason actually have intercourse to conceive their child. A woman of Julie’s age wouldn’t likely get pregnant on the first try, but low and behold, nine months later out pops baby Joe.

For what it’s worth, I think the whole idea of raising a baby with a friend is a great idea! It’s not for me, but who’s to say how they’ll feel when their biological clock is ticking and they’re without a partner? But—inevitably, as the trope goes—hormones and jealously over Megan Fox and Ed Burns, who play Jason and Julie’s lovers, respectively, get in the way, and Julie confesses her love for Jason about a year after Joe’s birth. Jason has just moved in with Fox’s Mary Jane and doesn’t feel the same way. Julie moves out of the apartment building she and Jason both live in (in different apartments) in Manhattan and relocates to Brooklyn, “two trains and a $70 cab fare away”, to escape the pain of seeing him. A year later, Jason comes to the same realisation Julie had—that they’d be perfect together—but Julie’s having none of it. Eventually, she succumbs and they live happily ever after, proving that men and women can’t be friends!

One other pet peeve I had with the movie was the sheer luxury the characters lived in. For a film set in New York, it’s highly unlikely that everyone in a friendship circle would have immaculate rent-controlled apartments they live in alone and dine at “$100 a plate” restaurants (sound like another Manhattan-set story you know…?), especially when Julie’s job is “deciding who to give [a rich man’s] money to”: charity work, essentially. When she laments that she can’t afford to send Joe to a $20,000 a year private school in Manhattan, it really doesn’t mesh with her characters’ story which has, up to then, been a yuppie existence of the abovementioned $70 taxi rides, ski trips and $1400 worth of baby blankets…

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Related: Bridesmaids Review.

Image via IMDb.

Movies: What to Expect When You’re Expecting—Adoption, Choice & Bacne*.

 

Aside from all the happy endings and Brooklyn Decker’s unrealistic sneeze-push delivery, there were some poignant pregnancy and child rearing issues at play in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, a star-studded flick in the vein of Valentine’s Day, New Years Eve and He’s Just Not That Into You, which takes only its name from the ’80s self-help book.

Out of all the children being brought into the world/movie, Jennifer Lopez’s journey is the most realistic. When her and her husband, Alex, realise they’re being fast-tracked to adopt a baby in Ethiopia, the cracks in their relationship begin to show. Alex is worried he’s not ready for a child and won’t love a baby that’s not biologically his. Lopez’s Holly has a breakdown when she loses her job after they spend up big on baby items and move into a house they can’t afford. “I’m the one who made us spend all our 401K on three rounds of IVF. I’m the one who can’t do what a woman is supposed to be able to do [get pregnant],” she cries.

As I’ve written before, I don’t want biological children and I don’t personally agree with IVF for the reason that women like Alex shouldn’t be made to feel like they’re failures by society for not being able to conceive a child or not wanting them at all. I also think adoption should be made easier as a first option. I’m glad the movie chose to show this (along with Anna Kendrick’s character’s miscarriage).

Weight loss reality show trainer Jules Baxter, played by Cameron Diaz, comes to the realisation that a woman’s body is no longer her own when she’s carrying a child to term. “Everybody’s got an opinion not only about me, but about my baby before it’s even born,” she laments. Everyone wants to touch her, to weigh in on her and her partner’s circumcision debate, and to reduce her mobility to bed rest.  When Jules collapses on the set of her show, a doctor confines her to a hotel room for the rest of her pregnancy. “I’m sorry, but you don’t have a choice,” the doctor informs Jules when she protests. With the U.S. becoming more conservative by the second, what with their Personhood movements and restrictions on insurance covering birth control, so many of the choices women have regarding their body are becoming scarce. The irony of exercising the right to choose to have a baby means giving up the right to choose what happens to it whilst a baby is growing in there for Jules.

This is also reflected in Wendy’s (Elizabeth Banks) experience, who is the baby specialist with her own baby book and baby shop but no baby. She’s been trying with her husband Gary for years and only when she gives up do the couple naturally conceive. Wendy the übermum’s pregnancy doesn’t go to (birth) plan—but does come with chronic gas, no “glow” and bacne—which consisted of a drug-free vaginal delivery. Once the pain kicks in and her cervix fails to dilate at the hospital, she changes her mind and begs for an epidural and the doctors advise her she’ll have to go ahead with a C-section. Despite doing “everything right”, when it comes down to the health of baby and mum, Wendy’s choice isn’t the right one.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Image via Join HD.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

VICE’s period-themed photoshoot, and the commentary to go along with it. What do you think about it? Gross or taboo-breaking? [VICE, MamaMia]

Do tabloids hate women? [Daily Life]

A black man talks about white Girls. [Jezebel]

Is depicting a woman who’s been successful in the breakfast cereal market eating… erm… cereal on a magazine cover sexist? [BRW]

A tongue-in-cheek look at… well, everything, from a feminist point of view. Everything’s sexist; just give up on feminism already. [Is This Feminist?]

Following on from 60 Minutes’ story on selective reduction of foetuses conceived via IVF, Kass Hall examines the issue. I don’t agree with IVF personally (not because I don’t think it shouldn’t be available because it messes with “God’s intentions” or some anti-science crap, but because I think there are other—or should be more readily available—ways to have a child, and that not being able to or not wanting a child shouldn’t be stigmatised) and I’m pro-choice all the way. Awkward situation all ’round, I think. [MamaMia]

The cupcake is a metaphor for vaginas and the female orgasm. [Jezebel]

So Rihanna had a relationship with Chris Brown and is rumoured to have slept with Ashton Kutcher and Drake. That means she’s a slut, right? Two great pieces deal with the one-sided hypocrisy that is slut-shaming in the R’n’B and hip hop community, not to mention patriarchal culture as a whole, in addition to this equally awesome shoutout from Russell Simmons to Brown, Drake et al., telling them to “Get Off Rihanna’s Dick!”

I just don’t get this “she’s a slut” mentality if a woman expresses her sexuality in the same or similar way to any number of men. A woman’s a slut if she sleeps with someone outside of a committed relationship (or even if she only has sex with someone inside a relationship; if she has sex with a woman; gives the perception that she wants sex and then reneges; is deemed “too sexy”; is raped… Nay, a woman’s a slut no matter what.), but a man is a player, a stud, a lothario.

Here’s something to ponder: if women weren’t “sluts”, men wouldn’t have anything to put their dicks into apart from other men or fleshlights. (Well, there are other things, but we won’t go there!) [Jezebel, Ebony, Global Grind]

If life was a video game, “Straight, White Male” would be the easiest setting. [Jezebel, via Kotaku]

What it’s like to work at an abortion fundraising hotline. [RH Reality Check]

Andrew Clifton writes beautifully about Joe Hockey’s anti-same sex marriage stance, and that progressive types should refrain from vitriol-spewing when a social conservative has an opinion we don’t agree with:

“We (accurately) believe ourselves to be on a higher moral ground for knowing exactly why legislating in favour of same-sex marriage is important, but we should not judge those who disagree with us, we should only try to help them understand as well.” [MamaMia]

Remember in health class when you were given chickens or robotic babies to look after for a few days? Well, now you can have your very own chicken-cross-Tamagotchi in the form of the “Pregnancy Text” campaign, which is aimed at teenagers in an attempt to show them a fraction of what it’s like to raise a baby. Me want one. [Jezebel]

Shonda Rimes’ latest female-based creation, Scandal, also has a black female lead. The best thing about the character is that her race is a non-issue. The same can’t be said for her non-relatability as a person, though. [New Yorker]

Jezebel’s “your boyfriend” thing has always been reserved for Ryan Gosling, but apparently the term now extends to Michael Fassbender. Umm, you do know he’s a wifebeater, right ladies?

Bryce Dallas Howard is the size of a “Village” because she hasn’t lost the weight she gained during her second pregnancy which ended in January. Never mind that her first pregnancy saw her gain 80 pounds and, along with it, postpartum depression. Real nice, TMZ. [Jezebel]