On the (Rest of the) Net.

Peeling back perfection of Instagram:

“Do you want to know how many pictures I shot before I actually captured a photo that both accurately (and attractively) displayed how happy I was in this moment? 56. I hope you’re judging me, because I am.” [Bustle]

My piece on physical and mental health on Orange is the New Black is cross-posted over at Bitch Flicks.

ICYMI: On Katy Perry and cultural appropriation VS. appreciation and OITNB‘s Morello, mental illness and romanticised reality.

If you’re finding these links lacking, head on over to this month’s Down Under Feminist Carnival. [Opinions @ Blue Bec]

Speaking of, I’m hosting the next Carnival, so get your entries in. [Down Under Feminist Carnival]

Katy Perry & Cultural Ignorance.

Katy Perry is pretty well known for her cultural insensitivity. When she’s not spurting whipped cream from her breasts in a Teenage Dream, she’s appropriating Asian, black and Middle Eastern culture, and the video for her latest single, “This is How We Do”, is no exception.

In a candy coloured world so similar to much of Perry’s other work, “This is How We Do” features cornrows, baby hair, bleached eyebrows, watermelons, “Japanese-y” manicures, “big hoops, maroon lips” and “throw[ing] up peace signs and cock[ing] her neck in a bubblegum version of chucking the deuces”, as Jezebel puts it, all of which are not necessarily positively associated with the abovementioned races in one way or another.

When asked in a recent Rolling Stone cover story about her penchant for cultural appropriation, Perry feigned indignation at being left behind in a political correct era. She responded thusly:

“I guess I’ll just stick to baseball and hot dogs, and that’s it… I know that’s a quote that’s gonna come to fuck me in the ass, but can’t you appreciate a culture? I guess, like, everybody has to stay in their lane? I don’t know.”

Perry hasn’t managed to “stay in her own lane” when it comes to her Prismatic world tour. For her performance of “I Kissed a Girl” she surrounds herself with big-bootied, big-lipped and dark-haired mummies in what looks like a half-assed homage to Lily Allen’s “Hard Out Here” or Miley Cyrus. Perry says, “As far as the mummy thing, I based it on plastic surgery… Look at someone like Kim Kardashian or Ice-T’s wife, Coco. Those girls aren’t African-American. But it’s actually a representation of our culture wanting to be plastic, and that’s why there’s bandages and it’s mummies. I thought that would really correlate well together… It came from an honest place. If there was any inkling of anything bad, then it wouldn’t be there, because I’m very sensitive to people.”

Because if something comes from an honest place, it can’t possibly be racist, right? (Not to mention the fact that whether or not the white privileged lady thinks something she did wasn’t offensive is irrelevant.)

Recently I pointed out on a friend’s Facebook comment thread that an exchange about Khloe Kardashian and her ex-husband, Lamar Odom, could be construed as racist. There was some back and forth about how that wasn’t the intention, but in the end the defence was very Perry-esque in nature. Cultural ignorance shouldn’t be an excuse for cultural insensitivity.

To use an example I heard spewed from the mouth of a colleague, just because you personally think Indigenous footballer Adam Goodes looks like a monkey, doesn’t mean the young fan who called him this at a game was right in doing so. Sometimes the harmful trajectory of terminology—that black people were compared to monkeys and thought of as less than human throughout history—is more important than freedom of expression.

As Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in a recent interview with Katie Couric (which you can watch here), “You can exercise your right to free speech until it is affecting other people”.

While Perry’s at her cultural appropriation game, maybe she can take a page out of Notorious RBG’s book…?

Related: Whipped Cream Feminism—The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

Is Gwen Stefani Racist?

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Katy Perry Almost Managed to Make an Inoffensive Video.

[Rolling Stone]The Unbreakable Katy Perry: Inside Rolling Stone’s New Issue.

[Jezebel] Why Do Katy Perry’s Dancers Have Fake Butts and Big Earrings?

[Jezebel] Yikes: Clothing Company Pairs Black Child’s Face with Monkey Body.

[Yahoo!] Katie Couric Interviews Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

[Notorious RBG] Homepage.

12 Trends of 2012.

Girls (Who Run the World).

girls

So misogyny may be running wild in the real world, but on TV, girls are calling the shots. We’ve had a bevvy of shows with “girl/s” both in the title and the storylines this year, with 2 Broke Girls and New Girl carrying their success over from 2011. While a lot of the subject matter is problematic, both shows have women carrying the comedy. Which brings us to just plain Girls, which is the brainchild of actor, writer and director Lena Dunham. Girls is not without its problems, either, but its portrayal of young urban women is almost faultless. Rounding out the representation of leading ladies in 2012 we have Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23, Homeland, Revenge, The Mindy Project, Are You There, Chelsea?, Smash, GCB (farewell!), Scandal, Nurse JackieVeep, Emily Owens, M.D., Whitney, The Good Wife and Hart of Dixie.

“Call Me Maybe”.

Until “Gangnam Style” came along, the YouTube Zeitgeist was dominated by one runaway success: Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. Justin Bieber’s protégé came out of nowhere with the catchiest song of the year, which was subsequently covered by the guys from Harvard’s baseball team, Barack Obama and the Cookie Monster! Talk about diversity!

2012: Apocalypse Now.

seaside heights rollercoaster

2012 was the year of the apocalypse, with the 21st of December long determined by the Mayans (or Mayan conspiracy theorists) as the day the world ends. You know, until the 7th of December tried to steal its thunder as the apparent recalculated date. Apart from the natural disasters, warfare and massacres, the 21st passed without a nuclear bombing, ice age or attitudinal shift, putting rest to the apocalypse panic. Until the next rapture, anyway…

Shit ___ Say.

It started with a sexist albeit funny YouTube video of a guy in a wig quoting “Shit Girls [Apparently] Say”, which snowballed into “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls”, “Shit New Yorkers Say”, “Shit Christians Say to Jews” and “Shit Nobody Says”. Cue offence.

Snow White.

snow white kristen stewart

Snow White was everywhere this year: Mirror Mirror, Snow White & the Hunstman, Once Upon a Time… Note: overexposure isn’t necessarily a good thing. In fact, I hated Mirror Mirror and Once Upon a Time, and Snow White & the Huntsman was such a snooze-fest I can barely remember what happened (not including Kristen Stewart’s affair with director Rupert Sanders).

50 Shades of Grey.

fifty-shades-of-grey

On the one hand, E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey has singlehandedly revived the flailing publishing industry, so that’s a good thing. But on the other, it has falsely lulled its legions of (mostly female) fans into a state of apparent sexual empowerment: it’s a book about sex targeted towards women, so that means we’re empowered and we don’t need feminism anymore, right?

Oh, how wrong you Anastasia and Christian fans are…

“Gangnam Style”.

The Macarena of the 21st century, Psy’s horse dance took the world by storm, being performed in conjunction with Mel B on The X Factor, with Hugh Jackman in his Wolverine gloves, on Glee and at many a wedding, 21st birthday and Christmas party.

Misogyny.

Misogyny has long been the focus of feminists, but the word and its meaning really reached fever pitch this year.

After Julia Gillard’s scathing Question Time takedown of Tony Abbott and his sexist ways, people everywhere were quick to voice their opinion on her courage and/or hypocrisy. At one end of the spectrum, it could be said that Gillard finally had enough of the insidious sexist bullshit so many women in the workforce face on a daily basis and decided to say something about it, while at the other, many argued that the Labor party were crying sexism in a bid to smooth over the Peter Slipper slip up.

Julia Baird wrote last month in Sunday Life:

“Her electric speech on misogyny in parliament went beyond the sordid political context to firmly press a button on the chest of any woman who has been patronised, sidelined, dismissed or abused. It crackled across oceans, and, astonishingly, her standing went up in the polls, defying political wisdom that no woman would benefit from publicly slamming sexism.”

Whatever the motivation behind the speech, it went viral, with Twitter blowing up, The New Yorker writing that U.S. politicians could take a page out of Gillard’s book when it comes to their legislative hatred of all things female , laypeople bringing “misogyny” into their everyday lexicon, and Macquarie Dictionary using the momentum to broaden the word’s definition.

Kony.

jason russell kony 2012

The viral doco that had millions of people rushing to plaster their neighbourhood in “Kony 2012” posters on 20th of April to little effect (the campaign’s goal was to catch Joseph Kony by years end) illustrated our obsession with social media, armchair activism and supporting the “cool” charities, not the thousands of worthy charities out there who could actually use donations to help their cause, not to produce YouTube videos and work the press circuit.

I’m Not a Feminist, But…

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While Tony Abbott is clamouring to call himself a feminist to gain electoral favour despite the abovementioned misogyny saga, it seems famous women can’t declare their anti-feminism fast enough.

First we had new mother and Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer jumping at the chance to shun feminism despite the fact that without it she wouldn’t be where she is today. My favourite anti-feminist campaigner Taylor Swift said she doesn’t think of herself as a feminist because she “was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.” Um, Tay? That’s what feminism is, love.

Then there’s Katy Perry, who won’t let the whipped cream-spurting bra fool you: “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women.” Right then.

Garnering less attention, but just as relevantly, was Carla Bruni-Sarkozy asserting that feminism is a thing only past generations need concern themselves with, while in an interview with MamaMia last week, Deborah Hutton also denounced her feminism.

Cronulla.

the-shire

The cronies from Sutherland Shire were all over our boxes, primarily on Channel Ten, this year. There was the widely panned Being Lara Bingle, the even worse Shire, and the quintessential Aussie drama set in the ’70s, Puberty Blues.

While these shows assisted in shedding a different light on the suburb now synonymous with race riots, it’s not necessarily a positive one, with The Shire being cancelled and Being Lara Bingle hanging in the balance.

White Girls in Native American Headdresses.

original

This one really reared its racist head towards the end of the year, right around the festivities of Halloween and Thanksgiving.We had No Doubt “Looking Hot Racist” and Karlie Kloss donning a headdress for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, in addition to the cultural appropriation of VS’s “Go East” lingerie line, Gala Darling’s headdress furore and Chris Brown dressed as a Middle Eastern terrorist for Halloween.

You’d think we were heading into 1953, not 2013.

Related: Posts Tagged “New Girl”.

2 Broke Girls Aren’t So Broke That They’d Turn to Sex Work.

Posts Tagged “Girls”.

Posts Tagged “Smash”.

Feminism, Barbeque & Good Christian Bitches.

Mirror Mirror Review.

Was Kristen Stewart’s Public Apology Really Necessary?

50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James Review.

Hating Kony is Cool.

Taylor Swift: The Perfect Victim.

Whipped Cream Feminism: The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

The Dire Shire.

Shaming Lara Bingle.

Is Gwen Stefani Racist?

The Puberty Blues Give Way to Feminism.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Why We Need to Keep Talking About the White Girls on Girls.

[io9] Why is Everybody Obsessed with Snow White Right Now?

[The Age] What Women Want.

[The New Yorker] Ladylike: Julia Gillard’s Misogyny Speech.

[Jezebel] Does it Matter if Marissa Mayer Doesn’t Think She’s a Feminist?

[Jezebel] Katy Perry, Billboard’s Woman of the Year, is “Not a Feminist”.

[MamaMia] Meet the Women at Our Dinner Table: Deborah Hutton.

[Daily Life] Carla Bruni’s Vogue Interview has Rough Landing.

[Racialicious] Nothing Says Native American Heritage Month Like White Girls in Headdresses.

[Racialicious] Victoria’s Secret Does it Again: When Racism Meets Fashion.

[Jezebel] Karlie Kloss as a Half-Naked “Indian” & Other Absurdities from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

[xoJane] Fear & Loathing in the Comments Section… And Some Clarity.

[HuffPo] Chris Brown Halloween Costume: Singer Tweets Picture of Himself Dressed Up as Terrorist for Rihanna’s Party.

Images via Collider, Fox News Latino, io9, November Grey, ABC, Now Public, Ten.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

katy perry be proud of who you are

Another week, another famous woman denouncing feminism: step right up, Billboard’s Woman of the Year, Katy Perry! [Jezebel]

And here are the top five reasons famous women don’t call themselves feminists. [Daily Life]

Comedian Jenny Johnson attempts to unpack her Chris Brown-Twitter fiasco. [GQ]

To abort or not to abort when you discover you’re carrying a child with Down’s Syndrome? [Jezebel]

What it’s like to be a female pick-up artist. [xoJane]

I don’t agree with the assertion that the White Ribbon campaign is perpetuating a patriarchal notion of women’s protection from violence, rather I think it’s good that men are standing up to condemn violence against women. However, this post does raise a good point about the sketchiness of the campaign’s ambassadors… Tony Abbott, anyone? [Settle Petal]

“Why don’t men wear black? Why don’t men cover their faces?” [Daily Life]

On The Walking Dead and attempted rape. [Jezebel]

Straight white male victimhood. [Jezebel]

Toy makeup and mirrors for babies. Facepalm. [Sociological Images]

Image via The Examiner.

In the News: Pre-Teenage Dream.

So I’m not the only one who has a problem with Katy Perry’s MuchMusic Awards pre-tween entourage wearing her most famous outfits: including her cupcake bra from the California Gurls video. But why is it so outrageous that a young girl is essentially playing dress up?

Now, I’ve written before that child sexualisation is not an issue I have a lot of time for: it’s always “feminist” extremists like Melinda Tankard Reist worrying about child porn and that children should be “Free 2B Kids” without our sexualised culture hampering their development. And it always seems to be about older teen stars, like Dakota Fanning, or stars who have a younger fan base, like Lea Michele or Selena Gomez, posing sexily on the cover of Cosmo that takes up their time, not actual issues.

I think kids are naturally curious. I remember playing, and watching other children playing as part of a psychology class, the “sex game” at the age of five to about eight. There was nothing sordid about the sex game: it was more of a fun way to use the word without really knowing what it meant.

I developed physically quite early: I grew breasts at about ten years of age, and got my period when I was eleven. I remember being looked at by boys my own age and men who were old enough to know better. I remember dressing in a way to emphasise this, a style of dress I still favour.

But the difference between these two acts and the ages I did them at are innocence and at least seven years. I wasn’t aware of the social implications child “activists” would draw from my primary school sex games.

I dare say the girl—who looks about six—dressed in Katy Perry’s cupcake boobs outfit has any idea how inappropriate her costume is. That falls to the adults around her, a responsibility which they’ve obviously shirked.

Had she been a few years older and was more aware of the kind of attention the costume has brought her, it would be a whole different story.

By the same token, it’s really only pedophiles who are going to get any kind of satisfaction from five year olds playing “mummy and daddy” or “doctor and nurse” and dressing like Katy Perry. Not to trivialise the horrors of pedophilia, but it’s when a girl hits puberty and starts dressing like a 20-year-old that the dangers of acting like and attracting and older set come.

Further to that, maybe a costume is just a costume. Katy Perry is a grown woman with agency and the choice to offer her body up for consumption, but does a little girl really understand this? Is there a difference between her wearing this costume to an event that happens to be broadcast across the world via television, the internet and print media and a backyard birthday party that is photographed by parents and friends? That we make such a big deal about something like this perhaps gives too much meaning to the sartorial choices* of a child and encourages them to put emphasis on an issue that, to them, is non-existent.

What do you think about Katy’s mini-me? Outrageous or some harmless fun? And what about child sexualisation on the whole?

*Yes, I am aware that this little girl didn’t “choose” to be dressed up as Katy Perry and attend an awards show with her.

Related: Big Porn Inc. Edited by Melinda Tankard Reist and Abigal Bray Review.

Dakota Fanning & Lea Michele’s Cosmo Covers: Why Are Anti-Child Sexualisation Activists Kicking Up a Stink?

Image via Zimbio.

On the Net: Naomi Wolf on Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” Video—Shameful, Glorifies Violence.

 

In the wake of Katy Perry’s breakup anthem, “Part of Me”, Naomi Wolf had this to say on her Facebook page:

“Have you all seen the Katy Perry Marines video? It is a total piece of propaganda for the Marines… I really want to find out if she was paid by them for making it… It is truly shameful. I would suggest a boycott of this singer whom I really liked—if you are as offended at this glorification of violence as I am.”

Firstly, where was Wolf when “California Gurls” came out?

Secondly, while I think calling Perry’s video “shameful” is a bit unnecessary, and there are plenty of other issues Wolf could use her feminist voice to speak out against, she’s not entirely wrong when she says it looks like Perry’s been paid by the Marines to endorse them.

I somewhat enjoyed the film clip and can appreciate its tokenistic message of girl power, but at the beginning when Perry’s in the service station and sees the bumper sticker on the noticeboard for the Marines, I have to agree with Wolf that it does look like a four minute musical advertorial for the armed services. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, but if the aim is to glorify war then that’s another story.

What do you think?

Related: Whipped Cream Feminism: The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

Elsewhere: [Facebook] Naomi Wolf.

TV: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “I Kissed a Girl” Episode.

 

“You know, with all the horrible crap I’ve been through in my life, now I get to add that,” Santana responds to Finn’s efforts to show her New Directions and the Troubletones are there for her by staging a week of lady-on-lady music.

Watching Santana be forced out of the closet was pretty uncomfortable for all those involved on either side of the screen, no matter how many Katy Perry songs were there to ease the pain.

Naya Rivera portrayed Santana’s grief, sadness and discomfort perfectly, as both glee clubs essentially patronised her into coming out. Sure, as Finn points out, she’s going to be outed by Sue’s Congressional opponent’s campaign video anyway, but watching someone be coerced into doing something they really don’t want and aren’t ready to do was painful to watch.

But, in the spirit of the episode’s title, midway through the episode Santana and her glee club comrades told a douchey rugby captain who claimed he could “straighten her out” where to go. The rushed exchange between Josh Coleman and glee girls really summed up the issues surrounding being gay in America:

“Easy girls, I’m just trying to make her normal.”

“She is normal.”

“It’s not a choice, idiot, but even if it were you’d be our last choice.”

“Oh, I get it. You’re all a bunch of lesbos.”

“So what if we are? You don’t stand a chance either way.”

Also interestingly, when the girls sing “I Kissed a Girl”, they engage in the very girl-on-girl-for-guys performance that genuinely non-straight women are trying to tackle. Whilst I did enjoy the rendition, it reminded me of the high-school experimentation my peer group engaged in at the appeal of and for the opposite sex. Sure, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, I guess, but it undoes all the work of gay and bisexual women to be seen as having legitimate sexual orientations that don’t revolve around how the patriarchy wants them to perform their sexuality.

Indeed, it undid all the work Glee was trying to do in this episode.

Related: Glee: Santana is Forced Out of the Closet.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The First Time” Episode.

Glee: T.G.Inappropriate.F.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Asian F” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “I Am Unicorn” Episode.

Glee Back in Full Force.

Image via VideoBB.