TV: The Dire Shire.

There is no hope left for Australian TV if The Shire is airing on Ten, screamed my Facebook newsfeed last night. My question is: if you hate it, then why are you watching it?

Hypocritical, I know, as I watched the show that’s been dubbed Australia’s version of Jersey Shore but is closer to The Hills or Laguna Beach and it physically pained me. But it’s for research purposes, okay, like Being Lara Bingle and the upcoming Brynne Edelsten show!

Seriously, though, at least the cast of The Hills and Jersey Shore actually had lives, things going for them, and talked about stuff other than the way they look. Snooki was a vet technician before she went to Seaside Heights. Lauren Conrad agreed to have her life documented, with the “dramality” turned up to ten, in a bid to further her fashion career. Even after Heidi Montag underwent her physical transformation, she had other things to worry about: namely, Spencer. Her family and friends were shocked with her surgical enhancement; they didn’t encourage it as a way of life like The Shire cast does.

I’m not going to comment on whether Vernessa, Sophie and Beckaa look good, as there are thousands of online comments trolling their physical appearance to more than make up for my opinion. What bothers me, though, is that all they talk about is their looks. I wish my lips were bigger. I love my boob job. Let me suck the fat out of your thighs. Would you rather your children be pretty or smart? Gag me. At least Beckaa talks about money and shopping to break up the monotony of her recent Dubai nose job and whether she should get a breast augmentation.

The other “characters” whose looks aren’t their primary focus can’t act for shit. At least Lara Bingle feigns shock at her bestie and brother hooking up well. Former lovers Mitch and Gabrielle just widen their eyes and wiggle their foreheads up and down at each other. Which is more than Sophie and Vernessa can say…

But with all the backlash and pure virtriol being spewed on social media—and at water coolers today, no doubt—you have to wonder if Ten is taking the mickey. Of course they would have to know the dire lack of entertainment The Shire provides and are poking fun at the fact that these people exist, that they can make a show out of it, and that people will watch. The Shire might be getting attention for all the wrong reasons, but Ten’s the one who’s having the last laugh.

Related: Shaming Lara Bingle.

Brynne Edelsten’s “No Barbie”, But Should She Aspire to Be?

Image via Ten.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Kate Upton is fat, apparently. Well, she does like phallic-shaped sugary treats… [SkinnyGossip Warning: This is a pro-ana website and may be triggering for some people]

I write about Channel 7’s bad boys at TheVine.

Sexist video gamers prove just how sexist they really are in response to a critique of sexism in video games. [Jezebel]

Menstruation and MasterChef. [The Conversation]

What an abortion at six weeks really looks like. Completely safe for work and not graphic at all. [This is My Abortion]

Stella Young on how disabled people doing normal things being touted as “inspirational” is a crock. [ABC Ramp Up]

Who knew morning sickness was so fascinating?! [Jezebel]

In the wake of another 13-year-old winning the Dolly Model Comp, Mia Freedman tells why she axed it when she was editor-in-chief. [MamaMia]

I went to the Jersey Shore and all I got was this t-shirt… [Jezebel]

Boys will now receive the HPV vaccine, Gardasil. Yay! [The Conversation]

The Katie Holmes obsession has begun: here, a countdown of her top ten Dawson’s Creek quotes that could double as life lessons for her marriage to Tom Cruise. [Refinery29]

Taiwanese photographer, Tou Chih-Kang, captures dogs in their final moments before euthanasia. Be warned: you will shed tears. [HuffPo]

Images via Por Homme, MamaMia.

12 Posts of Christmas: Will Boys Be Boys When It Comes to Objectifying Women?

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 post was one of my favourites for the year. Sure, the actual experience wasn’t all that riotous, but it’s given me loads of blog fodder and, I think, has promoted growth from the people involved, including myself. There are updated versions available here and here. The original is here, and below.

It’s been a beauty-centric week here at The Scarlett Woman.

We’ve talked about Grey’s Anatomy and beauty as represented by Cristina Yang, and brains over beauty.

I’d already planned to post those two articles last week before a beauty-related scandal came to light at my workplace.

Apparently, two of my male co-workers had devised a “ranking system” for the hottest to nottest girls in our department.

This is sickening on four levels.

One: it’s sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender and appearance, and those who were victimised by the “ranking” could take those who were responsible for it to H.R. Just look at the Pricewaterhouse Coopers incident. Or the Duke “Fuck List”, on the other side of the coin.

Two: we interact with these men boys (as that’s what they are: one has just turned 21, and the other is 23. But age really has nothing to do with maturity) as friends, colleagues; PEOPLE. Not as objects for them to rate and pit against each other in terms of how we look and nothing else.

Three: I don’t want to have to stoop to their level, but if we were ranking them, one would be at the top in terms of looks, but both would be at the bottom in terms of personality, morals and decency, which is all that really matters. So what gives them the right to judge us?

Four: this is not the ’50s and women are not reduced to what they look like.

The men boys who devised this ranking are sexist misogynists, one of whom I am deeply ashamed to have dated for a short period. Thank god I never got naked with him, ’cause who knows what he would have to say about me then!

What gives them the right to rank us? The same right men’s magazine editors have to rank female celebrities in terms of hotness, I suppose. But the difference there is that, while it’s still pretty sexist but somewhat understandable and accepted, most of the women on the list don’t work with and consider(ed) them friends.

How can you separate the things you know about someone—their personalities, interests, history, temperament etc.—with how they look? I know I can’t.

I was taken aback recently when a coworker praised me for being close friends with a man who’s not super attractive. Unlike the two who ranked me, I don’t make friends in terms of looks. If anything, I find it easier to be myself around and make friends with men I don’t find attractive.

But my so-called “ugly” friend has an awesome personality; anyone would agree. And that makes him attractive. And at the end of the day, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

As I mentioned above, one of the boys who devised this ranking is probably about an eight in terms of looks, but knowing this about him, in addition to other undesirable traits that lead to our dating demise, makes him a one in the personality department.

Now, I don’t know where I ranked on this list and, frankly, I don’t care. My self-esteem is high enough to not give a shit about what other people think of the way I look. But that’s not the point. How would someone who doesn’t have such high self-esteem feel? As much as we say looks don’t—or shouldn’t—matter, to them, it does.

So is this just a case of “boys will be boys”, as one co-worker who knows about the list put it?

I don’t think it is. You will notice that two out of about thirty were involved in this. The overwhelming majority chose not to act as boys do, whatever that means these days. Again, this is 2011: not 1951.

Another co-worker said “judging” is just what people do. Sure, I judge young mothers who leave their kids with a babysitter so they can go out clubbing, the guidos/ettes from Jersey Shore and, certainly, these two men in light of this list. But I’m judging them on their behaviours and attitudes, not what they look like. And who am I, really, to judge them based on any factor? No one. The same as the makers of this list are to judge us. Nobodies.

At the end of the day, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Ellen DeGeneres brought this up when she interviewed FHM AND Maxim’s Most Beautiful Woman, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, on her show last week. DeGeneres compared Rosie’s “ranking” to her own as “Most Beautiful Woman” on This Old House magazine’s cover. We know Ellen, we like her, and that’s what makes her beautiful, in addition to her physical beauty. Bitch looks good at 53!

And true beauty comes from within. Don’t ever let someone else’s “ranking” of how you look make you forget that.

Related: Will Boys Be Boys When It Comes to Objectifying Women?

UPDATED: Will Boys Be Boys When It Comes to Objectifying Women?

UPDATED: Will Boys Be Boys When It Comes to Objectifying Women 2?

Beauty VS. Brains.

Cristina Yang as Feminist.

Snooki & the Jersey Shore Girls as Feminists?

Elsewhere: [Gawker] The “Top 10” Office Email That’s Scandalising Ireland.

[Jezebel] College Girl’s PowerPoint “Fuck List” Goes Viral.

12 Posts of Christmas: Snooki & the Jersey Shore Girls as Feminists?

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.

I love watching Jersey Shore because, like Glee, I know I’m always going to get a blog post out of it. The gender issues that run rampant on the show were inspiration for the following post, the original version of which you can find here.

This notion has been on my mind since the start of the year, and watching season three of Jersey Shore got me thinking about it again. So, are the fake-tanned, fake-boobed and fake-nailed women of Seaside feminists?

On the one hand, while Vinny, Pauly D, Mike “The Situation” and Ronnie spend 20 minutes blowdrying their hair and plucking their eyebrows each morning (okay, if they’ve been out clubbing the night before, it’s the afternoon), followed by GTL (gym, tan, laundry), and frequently cook “family” dinners, the girls lie around the house, get in fights and try to score with guys at the club. If this isn’t throwing gender norms on their head, I don’t know what is.

As Tracie Egan Morrissey writes:

“… so much of what these people do actually challenges old school notions about gender-appropriate behavior: Men who wax their eyebrows? Men who place that much of an importance on hair products? Women who fistfight? Women who drink so heavily?”

But on the other, JWoww, for example, subscribes to the stereotypical sexualised female body: fake boobs, fake hair, and done up to the nines when she hits the clubs. If she’s got it, should she flaunt it?

I’ve always been a big believer in this, so more power to her. In fact, despite their meteoric rise to fame in the last two years or so, the guidettes haven’t changed a thing about themselves. They’re still the trash-talking, ugg-boot-in-public-wearing, pussy-flashing white Italian trash they always were, even after Harper’s Bazaar attempted to make them over under. The problem with that was that millionairess socialite Tinsley Mortimer acted as the guidette’s teacher, insinuating that “richer… mean[s] ‘classier’ or better or nicer”. Especially considering “… the socialites of the last ten years have done everything they can to prove that ‘trashiness’ appears at every income level.”

Paging Paris Hilton, who’s never been accused of being classy or well dressed.

If being a feminist means not changing to reflect the views of mainstream society and The Patriarchy, then so be it. After all, Snooki “seems real precisely because we can’t believe that anyone would actually try to look that awful.”

In strapping their boobs up and wedging their short-shorts further into their buttcracks, the mating dance the guidettes perform each night (which has nothing on the aforementioned regimen of the boys!) seems to subvert the very look they’re trying to achieve: sexiness. I don’t believe this is done purposefully, so in that sense it’s not very feminist-like, however the brazen bedroom talk the girls engage in—or rather, lamenting the lack of bedroom action, especially when it comes to Snooki—makes them highly relatable. As Sady Doyle writes, “we are all Snooki”.

I’m sure all women can relate to slut-shaming, regardless of how many sexual partners they’ve had, and that’s something the Jersey Shore females have to deal with on a seemingly episodic basis. Egan Morrissey puts it best, after Pauly D voices his views on sexual double standards (“She’s [Angelina] brought all these random people home. She’s a girl. You don’t do that. That’s a guy thing. Guys do that, not girls.”):

“Shouldn’t Pauly and The Situation be grateful for sluts? If there were no sluts then they would never be able to have sex. Do they think for one minute that they would even want to live in a world in which all girls acted the way that they’re ‘supposed’ to?”

Still with sex, feminists are either viewed as sex-negative man-haters, or insatiable sex machines who throw away men once they’ve got theirs. JWoww certainly falls into the latter category, who says in the opening credits, “I’m like a Praying Mantis: after I’ve had sex with a guy, I will rip their head off.” If Jersey Shore were a scripted show, JWoww’s bad breakup with Tom, who steals her hard drive, which contained naked pictures of the reality star, amongst other things, would be payback for her independent woman status. How dare a woman step outside of the stringent guidelines The Patriarchy has set for her?!

Speaking of bad breakups, if there’s one guidette who falls furthest from the feminism tree, it’s Sammi. While she finally plucked up the courage to leave Ronnie after their tumultuous on-off relationship ended in a very realistic fight in season three, in which Ronnie trashed Sammi’s bedroom and her belongings, including breaking her spectacles, reports about the fourth season seem to indicate that Sammi took Ronnie back.

While we can never understand the dynamics of each individual abusive relationship, and feminism can’t realistically be applied to them when a woman (sometimes a man, but mostly women) has had all of her resources—family, friends, employment, finances, access to a car etc.—taken away from her and therefore has limited means to escape, Ronnie and Sammi’s relationship may have some benefits to viewers of the show. Because Jersey Shore is marketed as “reality TV” (although, after The Hills and the revelation this week that one of the “geeks” on Australia’s version of Beauty & the Geek is an actor, its dubious how “real” the show is), female viewers who may be involved in an abusive relationship at some stage in their life can see that the relationship is being portrayed in a negative light, that Sammi’s housemates, friends and family are telling her it’s not healthy, and that she should get out. We can only hope that the one in four women who will have an abusive partner will take heed.

A little too deep? How can we derive all that from something as asinine as Jersey Shore, a show that, grammatically, should have a “The” at the beginning of its title?

Take what conclusions you want from the overtly sexual show, but one thing’s for sure: the guidettes are “empowered sexually, that’s what I’m seeing on Jersey Shore… The women seem to be making their own decisions about who they sleep with [Early Bird note: or don’t sleep with] and when.

“Almost by definition ‘guidette’ is a derivative term. It is a male-based subculture… The women were always defined as sex objects. And I think that’s something that they’re reversing.”

So, guidettes as sex subjects? If talking about “hairdos, shoes and body image snafus” and “preen[ing] and put[ting] on lipgloss” is a stereotypically female—and therefore weak—trait, then the guidos are certainly the background characters of Jersey Shore.

Related: Snooki & the Jersey Shore Girls as Feminists?

Glee: The Right & Wrong of It.

Extreme Makeover: Jersey Girls.

The Mystery of Snooki Revealed.

In Defence of Rachel Berry.

The Hills: All Good Things Must Come to an End.

Elsewhere: [Salon] Jersey Shore’s F’ed Up Brand of Feminism.

[Jezebel] If Men Can Wax Their Eyebrows, Why Can’t Women Sleep Around?

[Jezebel] Snooki & Her Boyfriend Break Up Over Her Pussy.

[Jezebel] Bazaar Gives Jersey Shore Guidettes Elegant Makeovers.

[Jezebel] JWoww’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Ex.

[The Atlantic] We Are All Snooki.

Image via The Gossip Wrap Up.

Boys Will Be Boys, Revisited.

From “It’s Not Your Fault You’re a Mean Girl” by Hugo Schwyzer on Jezebel:

“… ‘Maybe this is just how women are with each other’… This is something we hear over and over again from young (and not so young) women: the assumption that a propensity for jealousy, judgment, and ‘drama’ is part of being female… Cattiness comes with the ovaries.

“(Of course, men can be bitter about other men’s good fortune. It was Gore Vidal who famously remarked that ‘whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.’ Then again, Vidal is also famously gay—and gay men are both expected and permitted to have ‘womanly’ emotions. Straight guys are expected to be rivals in sport, but loyal ‘bros’ off the field.)”

I’m so sick of this “boys will be boys” and “girls are made from sugar and spice” (but struggle to be nice to one another) bullshit!

The other day, when the subject of a guy I used to date (funnily enough, the one who started the whole “rating” of female colleagues thing, which I wrote about in the original “Boys Will Be Boys…” musings) came up with one of my gay friends, I told him one of the myriad of reasons I’m not a fan of him is because he doesn’t really have a personality. He’s more of a robot-like Ken doll.

My friend replied, “But he’s a guy.”

I was horrified that he would liken all men to having the personalities of sea anemones. All my male friends have fantastic personalities, and I am offended on their behalf. I listed some of them, including my gay friend.

He replied, “Yeah, but I’m gay.”

This is not the first time I’ve been met with the “(straight) boys will be boys” analogy.

When I complained to some mutual friends that my male housemate didn’t assemble the blender properly and the next time I went to use it my smoothie leaked all over the floor, they replied, “Yeah, but he’s a guy.”

So, straight men are boring, no-personality morons who can’t pick up a vacuum or dry a dish, gay men are flamboyant almost-women who only care about looks, and women are just there to field these dichotomies. Not to mention that in this analogy, gender and sexuality are basically the same thing, and that gay and straight men are worlds apart, as with gay and straight women, and that gays are closer to their opposite gender than they are to their own.

Oy vey.

Also in Schwyzer’s post, I noticed somewhat of a reference to the oft-repeated “girl code/guy code” in Jersey Shore. That even though at least one of the guidettes hates another one of the guidettes at any given point in time, they still honour “girl code” over the “code” between people they actually like. That women should stick with women no matter what, and vice versa.

I’m all for sisters sticking together in the interests of feminism and what not, but I think valuing personality traits, similar interests, morals, and goddamn gumption is more important than gender segregation. What year are we in again?

Related: Will Boys Be Boys When it Comes to Objectifying Women?

Snooki & the Jersey Shore Girls as Feminists?

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] It’s Not Your Fault You’re a Mean Girl.

TV: Is Jersey Shore Anti-Abortion?

 

For all their gender-stereotype-busting, Jersey Shore equally upholds the sexual status quo.

They slut-shame, “cock block” and are anti-abortion, apparently.

On last night’s episode, Deena thought she might be pregnant as she’d missed her last period. Instead of weighing up her options and realising she’s too young and irresponsible for a child, she got upset about how angry her family would be and lamented that she didn’t know how to take care of a baby.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if the stigma of abortion were removed, Deena would have realised that she had an option other than going through with the pregnancy, and wouldn’t have hesitated to schedule herself an abortion if she had in fact been pregnant. Because, yes; having a baby is a huge responsibility, and with no job, no partner, no family support (from the way she describes how upset her parents would be), and a party-hard lifestyle—not to mention the binge drinking her and Snooki had partaken in during their time in Italy whilst Deena might have been growing a bun in the oven, thus endangering the health of the foetus—she certainly isn’t ready for it.

The fact that these Jersey Shore guidos/ettes relish their single, carefree, eternal alcohol-fuelled childhoods (“Don’t fall in love at the Jersey Shore” is their motto) makes it all the more likely that they should view abortion as a guilt-free, necessary and legal procedure to make a woman not pregnant.

Thoughts?

Related: Snooki & the Jersey Shore Girls as Feminists?

Images via Megavideo.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Oh, the horror! The least sexy “sexy” Halloween costumes. [Jezebel]

Beyonce and beauty. [Girl with a Satchel]

How to make love like a feminist. [Feminaust]

More on the Zooey Deschanel-femininity-feminism debate:

“Where are the sitcoms written by and starring women of color, lesbian and bisexual women, women whose bodies don’t fit into sample-size clothing? Where are the scripts about women who hate movies like Dirty Dancing, who attack every problem with unflagging rationality, who don’t really enjoy baking cupcakes or sewing clothes? These women are no worse or better than the kind of woman Deschanel epitomizes—but they exist, and Hollywood would be a far more interesting place if it began representing them, too.” [HuffPo]

How to be “a man”:

“I heard a woman shout, ‘Be a man!’ and I briefly wondered why it wasn’t acceptable to slap that bitch, thinking: What the fuck does she know about it? How can any woman ever tell me how to be man, when her father wasn’t there even when he was in the room, or his spine was removed vertebrae by vertebrae with the soft touch of her mother’s pointy claws? Her shout makes me realize that someone didn’t do his job, which makes us all suffer, so she calls us something she doesn’t understand and we don’t know how to be.” [The Good Men Project]

Jersey Shore’s Snooki, that punch, and male-on-female violence. [Jezebel]

In defence of J.Lo. [Jezebel]

There’s no such thing as the straight, white male underclass. [MamaMia]

You’d have to be pretty dumb as an Australian, no matter your age, to risk a “Bali high” after the Shapelle Corby/Bali nine media circuses. [Adelaide Now]

The tragic life of sex-bomb Anna Nicole Smith:

“Sex occupied an odd purpose in her life: She seemed often to give it for reasons that had little to do with her personal pleasure, and when she had it she typically demanded it take place in the dark. She wrote in her diary, ‘I hate for men to want sex all the time. I hate sex anyway.’” [New York Magazine]

Gender, politics and weight. [Washington Post]

Plastic surgery as spiritual healing. [Washington Post]

Some more on Julia Gillard and sexism. [Slate]

“Six Myths About Sex & Gender, Busted.” [Jezebel]

How to be a woman in the U.S. [Jezebel]

Images via Jezebel, New York Magazine.