On the (Rest of the) Net.

The “coward’s punch” is far more rampant than violence against women, or so the current furore surrounding male street violence would have you believe. [Daily Life] 

Move over Beyonce, 2013 was Miley’s year. [Village Voice]

If porn stars could speak in schools, this is what they’d say. [New Statesman]

Yet another attempt to unpack the consumption of art created by abusers. [Bitch Flicks]

How Aussie Girls relate to their Lena Dunham-created counterparts. One of the best think pieces I’ve read about the show. [Kill Your Darlings]

Why we shouldn’t joke about incest in the wake of Lifetime’s Flowers in the Attic remake. [Here There Be Dragons]

Speaking of Flowers, is it anti-reading? [The New Yorker]

What if we spent as much mental energy worrying about homeless women as we did celebrities? [Jezebel]

Magazine Cover of the Week: Vogue’s Photoshop of Horrors.

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There Lena Dunham goes, creating controversy no matter what she does. Actually, it wasn’t so much Dunham’s American Vogue cover that’s polarised feminists the internet over but Jezebel’s bounty for unPhotoshopped images from Dunham’s shoot.

I kind of get where they’re coming from in that Vogue has a sordid history of Photoshopping its subjects to within an inch of their lives, but it’s puzzling as to why Jezebel’s targeting Dunham’s outing in the mag.

Within a couple of hours of putting a $10,000 bounty on the original images from Dunham’s Annie Leibovitz-shot pictorial, Jezebel had acquired them. A quick glance reveals there was not a whole lot of image-altering to be had, and Dunham looks great in both the before and afters, as Jezebel asserted.

Dunham came to Vogue’s defence in a statement to Slate, saying that Vogue is a fantasy and anyone who wants to see what Dunham actually looks like can tune into Girls. Jezebel’s campaign does come across as body-shaming of Dunham, who has surely experienced enough of that since she first got naked when Girls debuted in 2012. Why not offer as much money for the unretouched originals of someone who has clearly been made to look worlds away from their actual selves? (Jezebel has taken Vogue, Vanity Fair and Victoria’s Secret catalogues to task in the past for their extreme airbrushing in a series called “Photoshop of Horrors”.)

As someone in the comment thread of one of the many posts Jezebel has published in defence of their stance insinuated, it’s time to step away from the computer and let sleeping dogs lie. Funnily enough, it was a cat meme that was used to illustrate this point…

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] We’re Offering $10,000 for Unretouched Images of Lena Dunham in Vogue.

[Jezebel] Here Are the Unretouched Images from Lena Dunham’s Vogue Shoot.

[Jezebel] Lena Dunham Responds to Unretouched Images from Her Vogue Shoot.

[Jezebel] The Unretouched Images Victoria’s Secret Doesn’t Want You to See. 

[Jezebel] Did Vogue Remove Claire Danes’ Leg? (Yes. It Made Her Look Fat.)

[Jezebel] Did Vanity Fair Lighten Lupita Nyong’o’s Skin?

 

[Slate] Lena Dunham’s Response to Vogue Photoshop Criticism: Fashion Magazines Are About Fantasy, Not Reality.

 

TV: Girls — A Season Two Retrospective.

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How did Girls go from this…

How did Girls go from one of the best shows on television, so perfectly rendering the lives of twenty-something women in its first season (if a little narrow minded on the racial diversity front) to the disjointed, experimental mess of season two, the finale of which aired last night?

Lena Dunham was obviously under a lot of pressure to perform to the standards she set last year and she buckled under it, mirroring Hannah’s signing on to write an ebook in a month and getting shafted with a mental illness for her efforts. While pretty well every episode of season one lent themselves both to plot and character development, it seemed like the ten episodes of this season each existed in a vacuum; separate from each other and only slightly showing us both new and familiar aspects of the characters.

For example, I know Jemima Kirke just had a baby, but where the hell was Jessa? Sure, we met her dysfunctional dad, which gave us a glimpse into her carefree and flakey motivations, but she was barely around for us to see just how the unraveling of her marriage to Thomas-John affected her.

And Shoshanna was one of the best things to come out of Girls, and still is, arguably, but I hate that her character has succumbed to the virgin-turned-whore trope in that she’s gotten a taste for sex and now she can’t help herself. I expected more from Dunham.

Marnie’s remained just as unlikeable, though less relatable, as she was in the first season while Hannah’s—and, by extension, Dunham?—personality fluctuates from episode to episode, perhaps to foreshadow her eventual OCD relapse.

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… to this?

It seems as though Dunham used the early episodes of season two to respond to her detractors (no racial diversity? Hannah dates a black guy. Dunham’s obsessed with being naked? Get naked some more.), and force feed characters of colour (okay, one character of colour) and gratuitous nudity down our throats. I found the balance of “awkward sex”, the embracing of different types of naked bodies and everyday activities that didn’t involve these things in season one refreshing, but by season two it was just too much. Did Hannah really need to wear a mesh singlet with nothing underneath while on a cocaine bender for a whole episode? Did we really need to see Hannah drop trou to pee next to a train station in the middle of nowhere? While I think body diversity is great, and Dunham is largely responsible for the current discourse about it, I think she’s going the wrong way about advocating for it.

Having said that, though, the episode with perhaps the most sex and nudity—the mid-season “One Man’s Trash”, which drew the ire of Dunham’s, and the show’s, critics who thought Hannah wasn’t “pretty enough” to bag a rich, hot doctor—was actually my favourite. It was also the most removed from the essence of Girls, so much so that it was speculated that it could have been a dream sequence (yeah, ’cause someone like Hannah could never get someone like Joshua in real life).

The lackluster sophomore season of Girls has left me wondering what happened to a show that could have been “the voice of my generation… Or at least a voice… of a generation.”

Related: Girls—Pretty Girl Problems.

Girls Are Complex Creatures.

Girls Acknowledges Its Privilege.

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

[Jezebel] What Kind of Guy Does a Girl Who Looks Like Lena Dunham Deserve?

[Daily Life] Why Ugly Sex is Important.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

original

Are Princess Diana and Rihanna one in the same? Camille Paglia misguidedly seems to think so. [The Sunday Times]

Clementine Ford interviews Anne Summers as part of Daily Life‘s first birthday celebrations. Brilliant!

The face of porn (SFW). [Jon Millward]

Speaking of porn, is James Deen harmful to his young female fans? [Daily Life]

Lena Dunham isn’t “brave”. [Vulture]

How many models of colour walked in New York Fashion Week? Not many. [Jezebel]

Why have so many “contestants” on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew died? [Jezebel]

Downton Abbey VS. Girls. [Daily Beast]

Why do we flinch when a woman says she’s beautiful? [Daily Life]

“Is There Such a Thing as ‘Asian Privilege’?” [Daily Life]

Stop the presses: Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus debunked. [The Age]

Reporting Reeva  Steenkamp’s murder at the hands of her Paralympian partner, Oscar Pistorius. [News with Nipples]

“In Defence of Diablo Cody.” [Female Gaze Review]

Kurt Cobain: feminist? [Daily Life]

In the vein of Nice Guys of OKCupid comes the racist guys of OKCupid: Creepy White Guys.

Image via Jezebel.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

girls patrick wilson

Is Girls‘ Hannah Horvath physically worthy of the sexual interest of a successful, hot, rich doctor? While detractors thought this week’s episode was the worst in the series, presumably because Lena Dunham’s “refreshing, yet displeasing to the eye” (to borrow a line from Elizabeth Banks in Pitch Perfect) naked body was front and centre perhaps more than any other episode, I actually thought it was the best of this season’s bunch, and I had no qualms buying Patrick Wilson’s character being so sexually into Hannah that he begs her to stay in his apartment for a 48-hour fuck- and naked ping-pong-fest. I will say that the gratuitous nudity and the continuous lack of people of colour is really getting my goat, though. [Jezebel]

Also related, apparently the utter disbelief at the abovementioned May-December Girls romance completely goes against a middle-aged man’s biological inability to resist a younger woman. A bit closed minded, but still valid. [Jezebel]

Let’s all stop bagging Rihanna for taking Chris Brown back and maybe look at why she did and what support we can give domestic violence victims. [Jezebel]

That time someone made a blog about all those times Michelle Williams was ostracised from the Destiny’s Child fold. Funny but cruel but also kinda true? [Poor Michelle]

Class divisions in Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day. [Elsevier] 

James Bulger: 20 years on from his abduction and brutal murder. [Daily Life]

More equal opportunity nudity and sex on camera, please. [Jezebel]

The beauty myth: are people we perceive as beautiful really just average? [TheVine]

Following on from last week’s links on whitewashing in Hollywood, check out the ten most racist portrayals of characters of colour by white actors. [TheVine] 

Image via Rolling Stone.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

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To pay tribute to the emergency and service personnel who helped in Hurricane Sandy, Vogue does a fashion spread inspired by the superstorm. Naturally. [Daily Life]

Apparently young Australians just aren’t into protesting the injustices we face today. Um, hello? Reclaim the Night, the Occupy movement, SlutWalk, the Arab Spring… all activist events started by Gen Y on social media which encouraged Time magazine to name the Protestor as its 2011 Person of the Year. Writer Alecia Simmonds does make a fair point that Aussies are particularly apathetic towards causes, but her assertion that online petitioning, blogging and social media doesn’t compare to on-the-ground activism kind of undercuts fellow Daily Life columnist Kasey Edwards’ argument last week that “Big social changes don’t just happen… Social and cultural change evolves out of a meandering path of small victories. Seeds need to be planted and ground needs to be fertilised.”

The latest trend in labiaplasty: the Barbie, in which the entire labia minora is cut out. [Jezebel]

And, in an attempt to counteract the alarming trend of wanting your vulva to look like a plastic doll’s, check out this (NSFW) Tumblr, Show Your Vagina.

What is it about our twenties that make us who we are? [Slate]

Miss America and race. [NYTimes]

Is freedom of speech overrated? Personally, I think so, as it allows those with abhorrently narrow-minded views to spill hate speech. This article makes the observation that free speech only seems to be defended when people like Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt put their foot in their mouth. [Daily Life]

Lena Dunham thinks that perhaps Rihanna should have been the one to sing “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” to Chris Brown. [TheVine]

American Horror Story: feminist or anti-feminist? [Jezebel]

Jane Roe—of Roe v. Wade fame, which had its 40th anniversary this week—ain’t what she used to be: now she’s an anti-choicer. [Vanity Fair]

Glee‘s Puck is a rapist, allegedly. [TheVine]

Nine of the ugliest feminists. [Return of Kings]

Breast feeding-shaming. [Daily Life]

A photojournalist documents an abusive relationship. Should she have stood by and photographed an incident of domestic violence or does her work portray an important aspect of lower socio-economic partnerships “unflinchingly”? [Fotovisura, Kiwiana (Inked)]

Image via Daily Life.

TV: Girls Acknowledges Its Privilege.

girls sandy hannah fight

In last week’s season two premiere of Girls, I thought Hannah’s sex scene with her new black boyfriend (played by Community’s Donald Glover) within the first few minutes was a bit on the nose, but at least Lena Dunham and the other writers are making an effort to remedy the lack of people of colour that plagued the last season.

So while last night’s speech by Glover’s Sandy was equally as conspicuous, it was also a pertinent commentary on Girls, racism, hipsterism and progress:

“Oh, I’m a white girl and I moved to New York.. And oh, I got a fixed gear bike and I’m gonna date a black guy and we’re gonna go to a dangerous part of town…”

Hannah refutes by saying the fact that Sandy’s black has never occurred to her until he just brought it up:

“I don’t live in a world where there are divisions like that.”

Fair point, as that’s an ideology I try to adopt myself, and it’s also the reasoning Dunham supplied last season when the race issue was brought up constantly. Ultimately, it wasn’t Sandy’s race that created division in their relationship, it’s the fact that he’s a Republican. Hannah just couldn’t “be with someone who’s not an ally to gays and women”. Fair enough.

Related: Girls Are Complex Creatures.

Girls: Pretty Girl Problems.

Girls: Sexual Harassment & Invasions of Privacy.

Girls Just Want To Have Realistic Expectations.

Image via Ch131.so.

12 Trends of 2012.

Girls (Who Run the World).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

TV: Girls Just Want to Have Realistic Experiences.

The racial issues the interwebs has with Girls made me feeling trepidation about the show. I think the fact that I had such low expectations was a good thing, as I actually ended up loving it.

I’m yet to warm to Lena Dunham as a person, but I love her as her alter-ego, Hannah Horvath, who, in the series’ opening scene, is cut off by her parents who have been supporting her in the two years since she finished college. Her mother rightfully calls her a spoiled brat (Hannah responds with, “Whose fault is that?!”) expecting them to fund her New York lifestyle while she pursues her “art” in an unpaid internship. Initially, I wanted to throttle Hannah for being entitled and selfish (I despise people who leech of their parents), but I can also understand her disbelief that her pretty well-off parents won’t extend their good fortune to her.

I grew up in a low-income home so I didn’t always get everything I wanted or needed. At the time, and even sometimes now when my pensioned mum will shout my minimum wage sister a coffee but not me, I thought it was so unfair; why should I be punished for my parents’ poor life choices? But at the end of the day, it has made me fight for the things I want instead of having them handed to me, gives me empathy for other people doing it tough and reminds me how I don’t want my life to turn out.

I also really related to Hannah’s gorgeous roommate Marnie, played by Allison Williams, whose perfect boyfriend is just too… everything. She “accidentally” sleeps in Hannah’s room when he stays over to avoid him. She suggests a sexy roleplay where he’s the stranger to avoid having tender, loving sex with him. She laments that she feels like such a bitch because he’s so nice to her and it just infuriates her. I feel her pain: most of the guys I’ve dated in the past have either been too nice or too assholish. Where’s the happy medium?

But back to the race thing. There has been a lot of umming and ahhing about the fact that there are no characters of colour apart from the techie Asian and the homeless crazy black guy tropes. Even the background extras aren’t that diverse for a show set and filmed in New York. Dunham has copped some flack for this, as Girls is completely her brainchild. But doesn’t that mean that she’s just being true to her experience as a privileged white girl who probably didn’t come into contact with many non-white people during her college and post-college years, some are wondering. I think it’s unfortunate that her ignorance is the reason Girls is so whitewashed, but hopefully the criticisms she’s faced since the show’s release will see more people of colour integrated into it. Girls may not show people of different races, but they sure talk about it (Jessa says she’ll have many different babies to many different men of many different races, and Hannah is admonished for a distasteful joke on a job interview because issues of race and deviant sex don’t have a home in the workplace).

Speaking of sex, in the second episode Jessa  is faced with her abortion, which is handled in a very feministy way. Hannah insinuates that accompanying Jessa to her appointment isn’t a big deal, but her fuck buddy, Adam, says it’s a heavy situation. I am want to agree with Hannah, but she is eager to please and changes her opinion to more accurately reflect Adam’s.

Not to discount the opinion of those who think abortion is “one of the most traumatic experiences a woman can go through”, which Marnie does. Hannah is nothing but supportive throughout all of this, asking about the emotions Jessa must be feeling. Even little, innocent Shoshanna is surprisingly open-minded about the whole thing. While her insistence on Hannah and Jessa reading a self-help book on the perils of dating was annoying—the dialogue between Hannah and Jessa after the fact only added to the show’s pro-woman vibe—I’m actually really beginning to like Shoshanna.

While a lot of girls might not see themselves reflected on the television screen in terms of looks (although Dunham’s body diversity is refreshing), I think every girl will see a little bit of themselves and their friends reflected in Girls.

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

Image via Badass Digest.