On the (Rest of the) Net.

Rachel Hills answers the age-old aspiring-freelance question: “When should I stop writing for free?” [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Last week, I emailed Hills to get her thoughts on feminist author Erica Jong’s assertion that the “younger generation” (she references her daughter, who is in her thirties) isn’t interested in sex. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Also at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, check out these reblogged images above.

Why is there such a big problem with porn? There’ll be more to come on this next week. [Jezebel, via The Scientific American]

Feminism, not enough sex, too much sex, and Muslims were the cause of the Norway terrorist, according to the Norway terrorist. [Jezebel]

Check me out: I’m Girls Are Made from Pepsi’s “Lady of the Week”!

Amy Winehouse VS. Norway: “On Caring About More Than One Thing at Once”:

“If the only world event worth commenting on is the most severe tragedy, then where does the pissing contest end? Yes, what happened in Norway was terrible, but what about what happened in Japan? What about what happened with the Asian tsunami? What about 9/11 here in the good ol’ US of A? (You said you’d never forget!) What about everything bad that has ever happened?” [Jezebel]

Girl with a Satchel’s Erica Bartle gets her faith on on MamaMia. You go, girl!

Also at MamaMia, Mia Freedman’s stirring the pot this week! She writes on Cadel Evans’ Tour de France win and if sportsmen should be considered heroes, the News of the World phone hacking scandal, and runs a guest post by Tony Abbott on why the carbon tax is a bad idea.

“What Your First Screen Crush Says About You.” [Jezebel]

Despite its misogyny, does hip hop actually promote lady love? [Jezebel, Autostraddle]

10 easy steps to radical self love. [Gala Darling]

Why rape cases don’t get prosecuted, parts one and two. [Jezebel]

“The 10 Coolest Witches in Pop Culture.” Where’s Teen Witch? And the Halliwell sisters? Disappointed. [Flavorwire]

“How Not to Propagate Bad News.” [Girl with a Satchel]

She’s out of your league. Kind of relates back to this article from a couple of weeks ago. [Jezebel]

I’ve just signed up to RSVP.com, so this article is kind of appropriate: “Questions We Wish Were Appropriate to Ask on a First Date.” [Jezebel]

Body image, burgers and the First Lady. [WSJ Speakeasy]

Four commentators, including a mum and a teen, weigh in on the Lady-Gaga-as-role-model debate. For more on this topic, check out this article. [Sydney Morning Herald, Girl with a Satchel]

Hugo Schwyzer in defence of talking to girls about beauty. [Healthy is the New Skinny]

“Does Free Birth Control Stand a Chance” in the USA? [Jezebel]

The problem with Black Swan. [Persephone Magazine]

What exactly is a “Mama Grizzly”? And no, I’m not talking about bears. [Newsweek]

“Born This Way” or choose to be gay? Does it really matter? [The Bilerico Project]

Do most men pay for sex in some way, whether it be porn or prostitutes? [Jezebel]

Images via Haley Tobey, Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.

UPDATED: SlutWalk.

For those of you yet to be persuaded to join in the SlutWalk festivities this Saturday 28th May at the State Library, here are some excerpts from SlutWalker Jaclyn Friedman’s talk at the Boston, Massachusetts event, from Feministing:

“Is a slut a girl who has sex too young? With too many partners? With too little commitment? Who enjoys herself too much? Who ought to be more quiet about it, or more ashamed? Is a slut just a woman who dresses too blatantly to attract sexual attention? And what do any of these words even mean? What’s too young, too many partners, too little commitment, too much enjoyment, too blatant an outfit? For that matter, what’s a woman, and does a slut have to be one?

“… You can call us that name, but we will not shut up. You can call us that name but we will not cede our bodies or our lives. You can call us that name, but you can never again use it to excuse the violence that is done to us under that name every single fucking day.

“… We can be called sluts for nearly any reason at all. If we’re dancing. If we’re drinking. If we have ever in our lives enjoyed sex. If our clothes aren’t made of burlap. If we’re women of colour, we’re assumed to be sluts before we do a single thing because we’re ‘exotic.’ If we’re fat or disabled or otherwise considered undesirable, we’re assumed to be sluts who’ll fuck anyone who’ll deign to want us. If we’re queer boys or trans women, we’re called sluts in order to punish us for not fearing the feminine. If we’re queer women, especially femme ones, we’re called sluts because we’re obviously ‘up for anything,’ as opposed to actually attracted to actual women. If we’re poor, we’re gold diggers who’ll use sex to get ahead. And god forbid we accuse someone of raping us—that’s the fast track to sluthood for sure, because it’s much easier to tell us what we did wrong to make someone to commit a felony violent crime against us than it is to deal with the actual felon.

“You know what I expect will happen when I’m dressed like a slut? People will want to get with me. You know what I don’t mean when I dress like a slut? That anyone I encounter can literally do anything at all they want to me. I know. It’s shocking. Because clearly you thought me wearing my tits out like this gives every single one of you carte blanche to do anything whatsoever you might want to do with my body. I’m very sorry to disappoint.

“… I just want to point out how ridiculous it all sounds when you spell out the meaning of ‘she was asking for it.’ Because the rapists are not confused. Those tiny percentage of guys doing most of the raping? They’ve told researchers that they know full well they don’t have consent. It’s the rest of us that seem confused. We’re the ones that let them off with a little ‘boys will be boys’ shrug and focus our venom on ‘sluts’ instead, leaving those boys free to rape again and again.

“… There’s nothing wrong with being a slut. Not a thing. It’s OK to like sex. Sex can be awesome. It can be life-alteringly awesome, but even when it’s not, it can be a damn good time. Our sexual desire is part of our life force. And as long as you’re ensuring your partner’s enthusiastic consent, and acting on your own sexual desires, not just acting out what you think someone else expects of you? There’s not a damn thing wrong with it. Not if it’s a hookup, not if you’re queer, not if you like it kinky, not if your number’s too high. If you’re playing on your own terms and you’ve got an enthusiastic partner? Please, I beg of you, just have a fucking awesome time. Our lives are way too often full of struggle and pain. If you can do something with someone else that brings both of you pleasure and joy? You’re increasing the pleasure and joy in the world.

“There has been a lot of misunderstanding about the meaning of the SlutWalk, and none more egregious than those who claim our agenda is to encourage all women to be sluts. Whatever that means, our mission could not be further from that. Our mission here today is to create a world in which all of us are free to make whatever sexual and sartorial choices we want to without shame, blame or fear. If you dress and experience your sexuality in decidedly unslutty ways, and you know that there’s nothing we can do to make someone rape us, the SlutWalk is your walk, too…”

*

Never before (okay, this year) have I been so excited for something. That includes the multitude of costume parties I’ve been to this year. And readers of The Early Bird know I love my costume parties.

About a month ago, I cottoned on to the buzz surrounding SlutWalk, an event spawned by Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis, after they heard a Toronto police officer telling a rape victim that she wouldn’t have been attacked had she been dressed less provocatively.

The first march was in early April, and was met with great success. Other events have been staged in Dallas, Texas and Boston, Massachusetts.

Next Saturday 28th May, SlutWalk comes to Melbourne, and I am beside myself with excitement. The only rally I’ve ever marched in was when I was 15, for (or rather, against) nuclear power with my mum, sister and bestie. I wasn’t really informed enough to have views on nuclear power back then, and I’m still undecided about it. Obviously the disaster in Japan highlights the question mark surrounding the idea of nuclear power in Australia.

However, I do have strong views about slut-shaming, rape, sex and reproductive rights, and I will be immensely proud to walk alongside my fellow sluts, as we reappropriate the word, much like the gays have reclaimed “fag”.

Obviously, rape is not about how a woman is dressed or how much lust she inspires in men, regardless of what she’s wearing. Women are raped when they’re on their morning jog, walking to and from work, out at night in their nicest outfit, or in their home by a friend or family member. I resent the comments that police officer made, and I will be wearing my “sluttiest” outfit in protest. But I’ll be wearing it with a prim and proper bun.

To join the SlutWalk, visit their Facebook page.

[Feministing] “You Can Call Us That Name, But We Will Not Shut Up.”

[Facebook] SlutWalk.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Party Like It’s 1986.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] United States of Ameri-Canada.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Come On Barbie, Let’s Go Party.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Bad Taste Foxymorons.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Getting Our Pirate On, Christmas Party Style.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Apocalypse Now: 2012 Come Early?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] So a Tattoo Makes Me Public Property, Huh?

Images via MamaMia.

Event: SlutWalk.

Never before (okay, this year) have I been so excited for something. That includes the multitude of costume parties I’ve been to this year. And readers of The Early Bird know I love my costume parties.

About a month ago, I cottoned on to the buzz surrounding SlutWalk, an event spawned by Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis, after they heard a Toronto police officer telling a rape victim that she wouldn’t have been attacked had she been dressed less provocatively.

The first march was in early April, and was met with great success. Other events have been staged in Dallas, Texas and Boston, Massachusetts.

Next Saturday 28th May, SlutWalk comes to Melbourne, and I am beside myself with excitement. The only rally I’ve ever marched in was when I was 15, for (or rather, against) nuclear power with my mum, sister and bestie. I wasn’t really informed enough to have views on nuclear power back then, and I’m still undecided about it. Obviously the disaster in Japan highlights the question mark surrounding the idea of nuclear power in Australia.

However, I do have strong views about slut-shaming, rape, sex and reproductive rights, and I will be immensely proud to walk alongside my fellow sluts, as we reappropriate the word, much like the gays have reclaimed “fag”.

Obviously, rape is not about how a woman is dressed or how much lust she inspires in men, regardless of what she’s wearing. Women are raped when they’re on their morning jog, walking to and from work, out at night in their nicest outfit, or in their home by a friend or family member. I resent the comments that police officer made, and I will be wearing my “sluttiest” outfit in protest. But I’ll be wearing it with a prim and proper bun.

To join the SlutWalk, visit their Facebook page.

[Facebook] SlutWalk.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Party Like It’s 1986.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] United States of Ameri-Canada.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Come On Barbie, Let’s Go Party.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Bad Taste Foxymorons.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Getting Our Pirate On, Christmas Party Style.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Apocalypse Now: 2012 Come Early?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] So a Tattoo Makes Me Public Property, Huh?

Images via MamaMia.

Movie Review: Sucker Punch.

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

This is what the main character’s, Babydoll, David Carradine-esque wise fairy godfather tells her midway through her pointless journey to find a map, a knife, fire, a key and… something else (which *spoiler alert* is when Babydoll realises the story is not about her, but Abbie Cornish’s Sweat Pea, and sacrifices herself to what is alluded to as gang rape in order for Sweat Pea to escape. On a side note, WTF is Cornish doing in this movie? She’s, like, a serious actress and stuff.).

Well Sucker Punch didn’t stand for anything (if you exclude the exercise in how bad movies are made, and the kinder-whore schoolgirl images in director Zack Snyder’s spank bank, which I have), and fell for every gratuitous slow-mo’ up-skirt shot in the book.

The film commences with an attempted rape scene, a trademark of Snyder’s. (Pop culture website The Vine suggests that Carla Gugino, who plays Polish psychiatrist/burlesque madame in Sucker Punch and the Silk Spectre in Watchmen, look into “an AVO against Snyder, given she has appeared in two of his films and her characters sexually assaulted in both”.) Babydoll is framed for the murders of her mother and sister, and is dragged away to an insane asylum in “skin-coloured, rain soaked PJs”.

There her father requests a lobotomy, which will go ahead in a few days. During that time, Babydoll escapes to the Inception-like double dreamland in her mind, where the asylum and its exclusively female inhabitants morphs into a burlesque club.

The only way she can—again—escape this fantasy land (if it’s Zac Snyder’s your fantasy, why would you want to escape it?) and entrance her subjects is by dancing, which then turns to a post-apocalyptic “ancient Japan (or maybe China; all look [the] same, right?)” where Babydoll and her insane/burlesque/warrior troupe meet the wise man espousing useless proverbs at every turn as they accumulate the four items they need.

Sucker Punch actually has potential; if not for the excessive violence, hideous sexualisation and the non-plotline, it could have been good.

The story eventually returns to the real life of the asylum when the lobotomist/High Roller (an out of place Jon Hamm) “comes for” Babydoll, which is the most interesting five minutes of the film.

The Vine says, “We don’t really give a shit about any of our heroines [three of which *spoiler alert* are murdered], because neither does the film: they have no inner-life, no story beyond ‘they are sex slaves in foxy pin-up outfits’.” I found myself daydreaming about an alternative mask I could wear to a masquerade party a few nights later; to me that was more interesting than sitting through the pointlessness.

Give me a pen and a copy of the script and I think even I could do the remnants of an okay storyline and Abbie Cornish justice. I will now be boycotting all future Snyder efforts. No emphasis on “effort”.

[Jezebel] Why Sucker Punch Really, Truly Sucks.

[io9] Sucker Punch Goes Beyond Awful, to Become Commentary on the Death of Moviemaking.

[The Vine] Sucker Punch Movie Review.

Images via The Vine.

UPDATED: Apocalypse Now—2012 Come Early?

In light of my doomsday musings on 2012 being the end of the world, I came across this “Comment of the Day” on Jezebel, which lamented the supposed discovery of the lost city of Atlantis:

“Oh, fuck. All the loose plots are being resolved. I guess the world really is going to end next year.”

With all the natural disasters and political uprisings in the world at the moment, you’d be forgiven for thinking the end of the world—2012, according to the Mayan calendar—was happening as we speak I write.

But with Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, New Zealand’s recent earthquake, Queensland and Victoria’s floods and Cyclone Yasi, the civil war in Libya and the Egyptian revolution, the end is nigh.

Now personally, I don’t actually believe the end of the world will occur on December 21, 2012, when the Mayan, or the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, finishes. I think it will be more of an ideological shift caused by catastrophic events, like those happening in Japan, than Armageddon.

But let’s have a look at when the end of said calendar occurs and what it actually means.

In a (very sketchy) nutshell, December 20, 2012 marks the end of the 13th b’ak’tun, (equivalent to 144,000 days and 394.3 solar years), while December 21, 2012 will be the beginning of the 14th b’ak’tun.

There have been rumours that no prophetic predictions have been made after 2012 by Nostradamus et al., but Susan Milbrath, curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, says that reaching the end of a b’ak’tun cycle was cause for celebration and that the 2012 hullabaloo is “a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.”

This lends evidence to my theory that with the world literally cracking up, it’s only a matter of time before we have to take heed of global warming warnings, which are manifesting themselves in natural disasters across the globe. Is it merely a coincidence that the first stage of the ratification of the Kyoto protocol finishes in December 2012?

Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock (pardon the highly distasteful pun) in recent days would know that the Japanese quake was the seventh most powerful in history, and was actually so forceful, according to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the University of Toronto, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that it actually “shifted the Earth’s axis by 25 centimeters (9.8 in). This deviation led to a number of small planetary changes, including the length of a day and the tilt of the Earth. The speed of the Earth’s rotation increased, shortening the day by 1.8 microseconds due to the redistribution of Earth’s mass.”

Not to mention its repercussions across the rest of the world, including Hawaii, the U.S. and Canada’s west coasts, Tonga, American Samoa, New Zealand, Russia, Mexico, Peru and Chile, and the holdup the nuclear disaster will cause for other countries interested in adopting nuclear power, including Australia.

Egypt’s uprising and Libya’s civil war seem like child’s play in comparison, but one humanitarian disaster after another seems to be the way of the future unless we get our act together and think of the bigger picture.

Twitter played a huge part in Egypt’s revolution (the Libyan people haven’t been so lucky, with internet access shut down by the government); mobile phones allowed Christchurch’s residents trapped in the rubble to contact family and emergency services with their whereabouts. With electricity, phone and internet connections down in Japan, it’s proving difficult to take the same road (again, pardon the pun; the tsunami washed out roads and train lines, leaving most Japanese residents in affected areas stranded). However, Google Person Finder, which was used in the Haitian, Chilean and New Zealand disasters, is coming in handy.

I’m not 100% sure what this all means, or even how it all relates to the supposed “end of the world”.

What I do know is that it seems increasingly likely that every time we turn on the news or open up our web browsers, we won’t see Charlie Sheen’s latest antics, but another disaster that is leading us to the end of the world if we don’t take a look at ourselves and make a change, as Michael Jackson so poignantly sung.

[Jezebel] Comment of the Day: Earth Prepares for 2012 Series Finale.

[Wikipedia] Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar.

[Wikipedia] 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami.

[USA Today] Does Maya Calendar Predict 2012 Apocalypse?

[WebCite] Japan’s Quake Shifts Earth’s Axis by 25 Centimetres.

[CBS] Earth’s Day Length Shortened by Japan Earthquake.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Apocalypse Now: 2012 Come Early?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Big Issue Review, 1-14 March, 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Minus Two & a Half Men.

Images via YouTube, Wish I Didn’t Know.

 

In the News: Apocalypse Now—2012 Come Early?

With all the natural disasters and political uprisings in the world at the moment, you’d be forgiven for thinking the end of the world—2012, according to the Mayan calendar—was happening as we speak I write.

But with Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, New Zealand’s recent earthquake, Queensland and Victoria’s floods and Cyclone Yasi, the civil war in Libya and the Egyptian revolution, the end is nigh.

Now personally, I don’t actually believe the end of the world will occur on December 21, 2012, when the Mayan, or the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, finishes. I think it will be more of an ideological shift caused by catastrophic events, like those happening in Japan, than Armageddon.

But let’s have a look at when the end of said calendar occurs and what it actually means.

In a (very sketchy) nutshell, December 20, 2012 marks the end of the 13th b’ak’tun, (equivalent to 144,000 days and 394.3 solar years), while December 21, 2012 will be the beginning of the 14th b’ak’tun.

There have been rumours that no prophetic predictions have been made after 2012 by Nostradamus et al., but Susan Milbrath, curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, says that reaching the end of a b’ak’tun cycle was cause for celebration and that the 2012 hullabaloo is “a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.”

This lends evidence to my theory that with the world literally cracking up, it’s only a matter of time before we have to take heed of global warming warnings, which are manifesting themselves in natural disasters across the globe. Is it merely a coincidence that the first stage of the ratification of the Kyoto protocol finishes in December 2012?

Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock (pardon the highly distasteful pun) in recent days would know that the Japanese quake was the seventh most powerful in history, and was actually so forceful, according to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the University of Toronto, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that it actually “shifted the Earth’s axis by 25 centimeters (9.8 in). This deviation led to a number of small planetary changes, including the length of a day and the tilt of the Earth. The speed of the Earth’s rotation increased, shortening the day by 1.8 microseconds due to the redistribution of Earth’s mass.”

Not to mention its repercussions across the rest of the world, including Hawaii, the U.S. and Canada’s west coasts, Tonga, American Samoa, New Zealand, Russia, Mexico, Peru and Chile, and the holdup the nuclear disaster will cause for other countries interested in adopting nuclear power, including Australia.

Egypt’s uprising and Libya’s civil war seem like child’s play in comparison, but one humanitarian disaster after another seems to be the way of the future unless we get our act together and think of the bigger picture.

Twitter played a huge part in Egypt’s revolution (the Libyan people haven’t been so lucky, with internet access shut down by the government); mobile phones allowed Christchurch’s residents trapped in the rubble to contact family and emergency services with their whereabouts. With electricity, phone and internet connections down in Japan, it’s proving difficult to take the same road (again, pardon the pun; the tsunami washed out roads and train lines, leaving most Japanese residents in affected areas stranded). However, Google Person Finder, which was used in the Haitian, Chilean and New Zealand disasters, is coming in handy.

I’m not 100% sure what this all means, or even how it all relates to the supposed “end of the world”.

What I do know is that it seems increasingly likely that every time we turn on the news or open up our web browsers, we won’t see Charlie Sheen’s latest antics, but another disaster that is leading us to the end of the world if we don’t take a look at ourselves and make a change, as Michael Jackson so poignantly sung.

[Wikipedia] Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar.

[Wikipedia] 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami.

[USA Today] Does Maya Calendar Predict 2012 Apocalypse?

[WebCite] Japan’s Quake Shifts Earth’s Axis by 25 Centimetres.

[CBS] Earth’s Day Length Shortened by Japan Earthquake.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Big Issue Review, 1-14 March, 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Minus Two & a Half Men.

Images via YouTube, Wish I Didn’t Know.

In the News: Minus Two & a Half Men.

Girl with a Satchel featured an excerpt from a Washington Post column about body snarking at the Oscars:

“I would like to note that more space was devoted to photographs of ladies wearing dresses… than for the last two weeks’ coverage of the events in Libya.”

This is also true of the news coverage in Vietnam, where a colleague of mine (whom I mentioned as the friendly workplace Big Issue provider earlier this week) is spending five weeks. In a recent email, he said that the hot topic on the news there is Charlie Sheen, not Libya, Egypt or Japan, which bore the brunt of a 7.3 magnitude earthquake yesterday afternoon.

A story on MamaMia written by publicist Steven Murphy echoes this:

“His weakness for drugs and alcohol is… well documented and he has been fodder for the tabloid press for years.

“But this latest incident is front-page news like no other. But why? Why is this incident haunting our news services day and night?”

The article somewhat-annoyingly glossed over the fact that his drug and alcohol problems are put at the forefront of his negative publicity, when his hatred of women and obvious mental illness are shoved to the back.

Jezebel hasn’t forgotten, however, with a no-bullshit article entitled “Charlie Sheen’s History of Violence Toward Women” published last week. The article also dealt with John Galliano’s disgraceful display of anti-Semitism, and what the news stories don’t tell you:

“Galliano allegedly grabbed gallery curator Geraldine Bloch by the hair and said, ‘Shut your mouth, dirty bitch, I can’t stand your dirty whore voice.’”

I, myself, didn’t even know that happened until I read the article, and I usually take a vested interest in these sorts of things.

On the plus side, Galliano has been fired as head designer of Christian Dior and—finally!—Sheen’s been fired as head douchebag on Two & a Half Men, to be replaced, allegedly, by reformed bad boy and fellow brat pack member, Rob Lowe.

While I couldn’t be happier about the latter (let’s shout it from the rooftops!), Galliano’s reign at Dior produced some of the finest garments the fashion world has seen, and it’s unfortunate it had to come to this.

But I applaud the fashion house for ousting the anti-Semite, and stars like Natalie Portman, who have publicly spoken out against him.

Both men’s firings show that there is a zero tolerance policy against these kinds of abhorrent behaviours, and hopefully other companies, in the entertainment industry and otherwise, will follow suit.

Although Michael Specter of The New Yorker doesn’t think so, writing that:

“the fashion world has a remarkable ability to shrug off the odd deeply flawed human being, as long as he or she can cut a dress like Galliano can or wear one like Kate Moss, who, despite behaviour that sets a disastrous example for millions of girls, including issues with drugs, is forgiven because, well, she is really very pretty.”

I haven’t always been innocent in providing double standards to those I like, think are talented, and should be forgiven for their indiscretions.

Just yesterday, some co-workers and I were talking about Catherine Deveny’s tweets at last year’s Logies. Personally, I didn’t find them to be offensive, and sorely miss her column on the back page of The Saturday Age’s Life & Style (formerly the A2). But, looking back on it, The Age did the right thing by sacking her. At the time, both Deveny and I used the excuse that she’s a comedienne; that’s her job. I guess it takes the disgraces of people you don’t like to understand the repercussions of (the disgraces of) those you do.

Once such repugnant crime committed by professional wrestler Chris Benoit in 2007, when he murdered his wife and son and killed himself, gave me lots to think (and write) about. On the one hand, I felt his legacy as one of the best professional wrestlers ever to grace the squared circle shouldn’t be forgotten, however, Benoit took three lives and sullied the reputation of professional wrestling (okay, there wasn’t much of a reputation left to sully!) and sparked a debate on steroids and drug testing that raged for years; the smoke of which still lingers today.

I’ve written several articles on that story and, with a new frame of mind to cast a different light on the story, I think I may just revisit said articles. (The anniversary of the double-murder suicide is June 24, so watch this space around that time.)

Benoit was obviously seriously mentally ill; the (not-so-) funny thing is, his friends, family and co-workers never picked up on it.

Charlie Sheen, however, has a long history of violence and drug use, and there’s no telling what he’s capable of.

[MamaMia] Advice to Charlie Sheen from Australia’s Top Publicist.

[Jezebel] Charlie Sheen’s History of Violence Toward Women.

[The New Yorker] John Galliano’s Implosion.

[Girl with a Satchel] Body Snarking is So No Funny But Jacki Weaver is Fab.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Big Issue Review, 1-14 March 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Anatomy of a Douchebag.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Charlie Sheen’s Witness.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Why Are Famous Men Forgiven for Their Wrongdoings, While Women Are Vilified for Much Less?

Images via NY Daily News, The Gloss, Pop Culture Madness.

Book Review: True Blood & Philosophy by George A. Dunn & Rebecca Housel.

I bought this book last year around the time season three of True Blood was coming to an end, and the inspiration struck me to write a post on Sookie Stackhouse and feminism. Needless to say, that post has yet to come to fruition (watch this space next week), but I finally got around to reading the book in the past fortnight or so.

The great thing about the Pop Culture and Philosophy series is that you don’t need to be an avid fan of the topic each book deals with; most of the philosophical musings can be applied to everyday life. (I’m making a gross generalisation here, as True Blood & Philosophy is the first Pop Culture volume I’ve read!)

Anyone who’s familiar with the show and Charlaine Harris’ books will know that the way vampires are treated in the somewhat alternate universe of Bon Temps, Louisiana, is a metaphor for how gays and blacks have been treated for centuries.

True Blood and Philosophy delves into this throughout the book, but particularly in the “Eros, Sexuality & Gender” section, where the issue of “orientation” is raised: “Vampires seem to be unlike gays in that we can’t say that vampires are born that way… But there is still a parallel to being born either gay or straight, for once you become a vampire, there’s no returning to a human existence” (p. 98).

One way vampires and gays are different, though, is that “a homosexual predator” cannot “attack or coerce an unwilling person into homosexual acts”, whereas a vampire can take someone against their will (p. 99). You can’t “catch” homosexuality, but you can catch vampirism.

To take it a step further, there was a time when propaganda that the gays will give you AIDS was rife (some might argue that it still is), and were prohibited from participating in sports and other activities where blood could be spilled. This raises the question of the marginalisation of vampires in sports, as well as the use of their blood as medicine. (See “Coming Out of the Coffin & Coming Out of the Closet”, p. 93–108.)

My favourite chapter deals with the attitudes of humans towards vampires and vice versa, and how the way they treat each other amounts to the way non-fiction humans treat animals.

For example, Eddie Gauthier, the vampire whom Jason Stackhouse and Amy Burley take hostage and use as their own personal V vat, is a parallel for “the way millions of animals are treated every day on factory farms… Eddie, like the animals on factory farms, is exploited as a commodity with no regard for his suffering” (p. 36–37).

Furthermore, “… many… vampires actually regard human beings as lower forms of life ripe for exploitation, not much different from the way Aristotle and others regarded non-human species,” in “a classic example of speciesism” (p. 38–39).

Last year, I blogged about an article I read in Time, about how animals that we once thought to not be able to understand language, reasoning, fairness and pain, actually do experience these things. Vampires seem to have a similar attitude towards humans, whom they see only as a food source, and “incapable of feeling pain as we do”, according to the magister when ordering Bill to turn Jessica as punishment for killing one of their own to protect his “human pet”, Sookie (p. 44).

In a similarly intriguing chapter, William C. Curtis asks “can vampires be good citizens”?:

“Should there be a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to require vamps to come clean about their past murders in return for a grant of amnesty? How should vampires be taxed, especially since they don’t need many of the services that government provides, like Social Security, health care, and education? Can they join, or be drafted into, the armed forces?… Will their vulnerability to sunlight be treated as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act? Can vampire convicts be sentenced to life in prison, or would eternal incarceration violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment?” (p. 65–66).

All these questions have been brought about by the advent of synthetic blood, allowing vampires to “come out of the coffin”, so to speak.

On this, an interesting footnote from the chapter “Un-True Blood: The Politics of Artificiality” by Bruce A. McClelland, refers to a 1927 study by Takeji Furukawa on the correlation between blood types and personality. Being a Japanese study, and the fact that synthetic TruBlood was developed by the Japanese; is there some connection? Or just a coincidence? The clot plot thickens…

A memorable event thus far on True Blood has been the introduction of Maryann the Maenad and her Dionysian debacle. “Let the Bon Temps Roll: Sacrifice, Scapegoats and Good Times” deals with the self-preservation of the Bon Temps residents in “not wanting to know what’s in the sausage”, as Lafayette Reynolds would say (p. 141–142). Or rather, not wanting to know what’s in Maryann’s “hunter’s soufflé”!

This ignorance is further symbolised by the black eyes of Maryann’s followers; they’re literally blind to her wicked ways (p. 142).

Of course this book is more suited to the True Blood fan, however it’s not a prerequisite. (I’m trying to force-feed my friend Laura this book in the hopes that she will cotton on to the sexy-smarts of the show. She’s doing the same to me with Mad Men.) Many of the thoughts discussed go much deeper than just Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries and vampirism, and it’s quite a thought-provoking—yet still light—book.

 

 

 

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Time’s “What Animals Think” Issue: August 16, 2010.

Loving… Mick Foley.

For long-time readers of this blog (does six months quality as a long-term blog-reading relationship?), you will be familiar with my fondness for professional wrestler turned author, Mick Foley.

When I first started watching World Wrestling Entertainment (then still WWF) in 2001, Foley had a sporadic recurring role, after resigning as fictional “commissioner” of the company. Little did I know just how affecting he had been to the hardcore wrestling scene.

In a nutshell, Foley started out in the independent wrestling scene, then gradually made his way through the ranks, beginning in squash matches (where a bigger star beats a newcomer or unknown in very little time and with very little effort) in WWE, then World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and finally Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), where he made a namewell, technically, three namesfor himself.

As an unorthodox professional wrestler, with an out of shape body and not many technical mat moves, Foley needed that extra something, which he came up with in the form of his three alter egos: Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack.

Mankind is the one most original wrestling fans would be most familiar with, with Foley wearing a Hannibal Lector-esque mask and brandishing a personified sock on his hand, affectionately known as Mr. Socko, which would be used in his Mandible Claw move. Mankind teamed up with The Rock in The Rock n’ Sock Connection in the late ’90s.

Dude Love favours tie-die and espouses the 1960’s hippie frame of mind, and is probably the least well-known of the three.

Finally, Cactus Jack is quintessential “Hardcore Legend”, using thumbtacks and Barbie (a baseball bat encased in barbed wire, oftentimes set on fire), wearing leopard print leggings and a flanny, and is often invoked in matches such as Hell in a Cell and especially his Last Man Standing matches in his feud with Triple H, again in the late ’90s.

After some time in Japan, where a lot of professional wrestlers believe you need to spend time if you wish to be taken seriously as an athlete, Foley debuted in the WWE, where he had some of his most memorable matches, mentioned above.

While my forbidden love for wrestling introduced me to many sub-categories (like my favourite band, Our Lady Peace, American geography, and my obsession an subsequent research articles and blog posts on the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide), none is more dear to my heart than discovering Mick Foley as a memoirist, children’s storybook writer, and novelist.

I own all three of his memoirs, Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood & Sweatsocks, Foley is Good: And the Real World is Faker Than Wrestling, and The Hardcore Diaries, as well as his first novel, Tietam Brown (watch this space to see if I can muscle a review out of a friend who’s had my copy on loan for months), which I serendipitously found in a second-hand book store and could barely contain my excitement. Yes, I love rare and obscure authors, okay?!

Foley has recently published his fourth memoir, Countdown to Lockdown: A Hardcore Journal, which I can’t wait to get my grubby little mitts on. In addition, Foley’s much publicised computer illiteracy has been conquered, with the advent of his blog, Countdown to Lockdown, and Jezebel has cottoned on to the awesomeness that is Mick Foley”, with two feature articles on the Hardcore Legend in the past week.

Foley paved the way for wrestlers with brains to parlay into other areas they could be useful in, with Chris Jericho (memoirist, musician, actor/host, commentator) and Edge (memoirist) springing to mind. And now he is speaking out for sexual assault victims in a category what has traditionally been termed “women’s issues”.

Foley is a truly smart, talented, funny, inspiring and admirable man, and if you like what you’ve read here, I urge you to pick up one of his books (or if reading’s not your thing, YouTube a match of his; but reading probably is your thing if you’re looking at this here blog) and prepare to have your lifeor at the very least, your perception of professional wrestlingchanged.

Magazine Review: Girlfriend, August 2010.

The latest issue of Girlfriend magazine boasts a redesign and reinforced attitude to positive body image, following the Voluntary Industry Code of Conduct handed down by the Body Image Advisory Group. Plus, the irresistible Leighton Meester is on the cover bolsters their mantra that “I’m this way and that’s it” and “if you’re just yourself, you’ll never lose” (p. 27).

Inside, the mag is heavy on the body image articles, with “I Am Beautiful” (p. 29) outlining how Girlfriend has been contributing to the “body love” movement, such as including “more real girls as models” and “banning diet talk and photoshopping of body shape, size, hair colour or permanent marks”; Olympic gold medallist Stephanie Rice is introduced as the campaign’s ambassador (p. 30); cover story “The Pretty Myth” (p. 32) borrows its ideology from feminist author Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, in that working on your confidence, intelligence and sense of fun and adventure is more important “than a pretty face”, while fellow cover star “Imma Be… Smarter, Faster, Calmer” (p. 75) reiterates these strategies for dealing with school, work, stress etc.; and “7 Ways to Make Friends With Your Body” (p. 37) encourages “active critical thought” of “movies, TV shows, books and so on”, but to “look at myself in the mirror with an uncritical eye, as if I’m my own best friend”.

Elsewhere, “prom” is the word (when did Australia start adopting the American version of “formal”?) for Love2Shop, with red carpet darlings Lauren Conrad, Hilary Duff and Taylor Swift on its cover. While the formal editions were never my favourite when I was a teen, some of the fashion they feature wouldn’t be out of place in day-to-day life. I’m especially loving the tough cocktail rings featured on page 92.

Girlfriend is known for scouting all the on-trend items, then piling them all together on their models. While that can sometimes take away from the oomph of a single garment, this month they seemed to have lightened the load on their clothes horses (ie. models), and the fashion pages are better for it.

In a Japan-inspired shoot, military jackets meets sequins meets feminine florals are “taken to the streets” on not just models, but pro surfers (Reality Check told me so!) (p. 106).

In the regular “True Stories” section, “UK teen Pavan” tells of how she was “tricked into loving Mum’s killers”, who turned out to be her father and grandmother, who murdered her mother in a honour killing. Particularly poignant, as honour killings have featured heavily in mainstream media of late.

Perhaps a Mean Girls image would have been more appropriate to accompany the article “Hating on Her” (p. 51), as opposed to one of Rihanna, as God knows that girl has had her fair share of hating. Other than that, I found the article quite amusing and true to life, as I’m sure every girl has been guilty of becoming obsessed with our frenemies. Offers helpful tips for getting over the stalking, but not the “hate crush”!

For a different take on this issue of Girlfriend, check out Frangipani Princess’s guest review on Girl with a Satchel.