On the (Rest of the) Net.

for-a-good-time-call

I’m writing about female friendship in For a Good Time, Call… [Bitch Flicks]

One of the things that struck me during my trip to New York was the abundance of women of colour caring for white children. The movies would have you believe that most nannies are white (The Nanny DiariesUptown GirlsMary Poppins) but I don’t recall seeing any. Ellen Jacobs’ photo series documents these women and their charges. [Slate]

I Kissed a Girl: Rihanna and Shakira’s faux, male gazey lesbianism. [Jezebel]

Meanwhile, Russian lesbians shouldn’t be seen. [Feminist Times]

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.

Glee—The Right & Wrong of It.

 

In lieu of a new episode of Glee last week, I attended a debate about the pros and cons of McKinley High and its glee club.

I was super excited, because I assumed the debate would entail a for Glee side, and an against. And it did. But while I thought the against side, consisting of Clem Bastow and Jess McGuire, would discuss the blatant sexism, racism, homo/transphobia, ableism, fatism and the many other phobias and -isms the show incorporates (feel free to add them in the comments), both panelists ultimately praised Glee for it’s inclusiveness and handling of the tough issues.

I’ve heard this rationalisation about Glee before. When my tuba-playing gay friend finally got into the show this season and fell hard for it, he thought I would sing its praises with him because he knew I watched it. (Evidently, he does not read this blog as he would know the main reason I like Glee is because I know I’ll always get a blog post out of it!) When I invited him to the debate, he had something else on but wondered what they would be debating, exactly. I referred to the list of problems I have with it (above and elaborated on below) and he replied, “But I thought Glee was about acceptance.” That’s what it wants you to think, and it blinds you to all the other issues with Katy Perry songs. As panelist for the “pro-Glee” side, Mel Campbell, said, “It’s best not to ask questions.”

While McGuire did touch on Glee’s pro-gay stance, and perhaps its best, and most underutilised, storyline of Brittany and Santana’s forbidden love, I was expecting SlutWalk Melbourne organiser and noted feminist Bastow to knock Glee out of the park for its anti-women portrayals. I was also sorely disappointed, as Bastow, a keen musical aficionado, chose to focus on the shows’ butchering of classic musical numbers.

So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to write about the issues I wished the panel had discussed last Thursday night.

Sexism.

I’ve written about feminism in Glee before, specifically as it’s embodied in the character of Rachel Berry. It annoys me to no end that Rachel is deemed “ugly” (though Lea Michele is anything but) because she’s annoying. And she’s annoying because she eschews traditional gender roles that are perhaps embodied by Quinn by being ambitious, voicing her opinions and unapologetically going after what she wants.

In a clip shown at the debate of the inaugural Glee mash-up in which Mr. Shuester separates the girls from the boys, Kurt attempts to join the girls’ side. Since when did being a gay man amount to the equivalent of a straight female?

Finally, I wouldn’t say sexism is the main problem in Mercedes’ perpetual (okay, she seems to have a boyfriend this season, but more on that later) bachelorettehood, rather some other issues I will address later in the piece.

Racism.

Now is as good a time as any to discuss Mercedes’ aforementioned singleness. Was she literally the only character in season two who didn’t have a significant other because she’s black? (Or because she’s fat?) Sure, she dated Sam for all of a few minutes in the season two final, but before that the only action she got was Kurt condescendingly suggesting she should date one of the guys on the football team because he was black and, like, they’d probably have heaps in common.

If that’s not enough proof of Glee’s insensitivity to race, all you need to do it look at any one episode for a myriad of references to Tina and Mike’s “Asianness”, Roy Flanagan’s “Irishness” (or leprechaunnes, as Brittany might refer to it) and Puck and Rachel’s “Jewishness” (though that also falls under religious prejudice as well).

Homophobia & Transphobia.

Sure, Glee’s pretty much a vehicle for Kurt and, increasingly, Blaine, to showcase their voices, fashion sense and flamboyance. McGuire chose to speak at length about how sensitively the show handled Kurt coming out to his dad and Kurt and Blaine’s first time, and I have to agree with her. And yes, seeing two men make gay love (okay, the implication of them making gay love) on primetime network television without a stink being kicked up is pretty groundbreaking, as panelist for Glee and MC, Tim Hunter, noted. But they still single out Kurt for his gayness (“Single Ladies [Put a Ring on It]” and “Le Jazz Hot!”, anyone?), not to mention how Finn went about outing Santana in “Mash Off”.

They’ve handled the Brittany/Santana thing the best out of every relationship in the show, so that’s one point for lesbianism, but at the expense of other sexual orientations and gender identities, perhaps?

Just look at “The Rocky Horror Glee Show”, for example. Not only to Mike’s parents make him pull out because they don’t want him associated with a “tranny” musical, but the show even substitutes the lyrics “I’m just a sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania” for “sensational Transylvania”. Pardon me, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about in using the word “transsexual”.

Finally, we can’t forget Coach Beiste. When she debuted on the show, her sexuality and gender was thrown up in the air, when she’s really just an unconventionally attractive, masculine straight woman who happens to coach a men’s football team. But of course attention is drawn to her 40-year-old virgin status every time there’s a virginity-themed episode. Because, you know, she’s old and funny-looking and has never been on a date! Riotous!

Ableism.

Where do I start? There’s Emma’s OCD, which is made fun of by everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Holly Holiday to her own parents (not to mention Will trying to come to her rescue by attempting to “cure” her). Artie’s wheelchair-bound way of life, which was even pointed out during the debate, only for the panelists to laugh at Artie wanting to give Blaine a standing ovation, “because he can’t”, and a whole episode, “Wheels”, insensitively dedicated to his disability.

I will applaud the show for their inclusion of, and remarkable sensitivity to, Down’s syndrome sufferers. But then they go and use undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome as an excuse for anti-social and selfish behaviour. Cutting off their nose to spite their face…

Fatism.

Puck’s rendition of “Fat Bottomed Girls” was a clip played at the talk, and was received by audible groans. To see Lauren so uncomfortable as Puck serenaded her was awkward for the audience, and the patronisation was palpable. Like, oh Glee has a plus-sized girl who doesn’t hate herself and is being chased by the hottest guy in school; we’ve come so far.

But when Mercedes is relegated to backing vocals in favour of the slim lined Rachel, can’t get a date and suffers from an alleged eating disorder which is swept under the rug with some sage advice and a granola bar from Quinn, it’s all just tokenism.

So there you have it: the debating of the issues I wished had’ve been brought up by the panel. As my friend, housemate and fellow debate-goer put it: “It was just like Glee: it slightly touched on the issues, but ultimately didn’t add anything new to the discourse.” So feel free to add anything I, or the panel, didn’t cover in the comments.

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Original Song” Episode.

Brown Eyed Girl.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Duets” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” Episode.

Glee: T.G.Inappropriate.F.

Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Slutty Stride.

Rachel Berry as Feminist.

Is Lea Michele Too Sexy?

In Defence of Rachel Berry.

Boys Will Be Boys, Revisited.

Glee Season 2 Final in Pictures.

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

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

Glee: Santana is Forced Out of the Closet.

The (Belated) Underlying Message in Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” Episode.

Glee “Sexy” Review.

Glee Back in Full Force.

Elsewhere: [Bitch Magazine] The Transcontinental Disability Choir: Glee-ful Appropriation.

[Xhibit P] Fat Girls Singing Backup: Body Images in Glee.

[TV.com] Is It Okay to Find Glee’s Plus-Sized Character, Lauren Zizes, Gross?

[Jezebel] Why Won’t Glee Give Mercedes a Boyfriend?

Image via Meg. All Things Me.

TV: Glee—Santana is Forced Out of the Closet.

 

What was a fairly mediocre episode of Glee, trying to capitalise on the Republican Presidential nominee debate by staging a class presidential debate of McKinley’s own, seems to be leading into the second multi-episode story arc about bullying, homophobia and acceptance.

While Santana says some really horrible things to Finn about his physical appearance, he decides to out her, saying the only reason she’s so horrible to everyone else is because she hates herself for her sexual orientation.

I don’t think this is completely true (it’s high school in a small town; you do the math), but word eventually makes its way to a campaign video of one of Sue’s Congressional opponents and, thus, the whole of Lima. Finn poignantly says that yes, everyone knows, but no one cares.

Glee’s next episode is entitled “I Kissed a Girl”, so we can only imagine it’s going to deal with Santana’s lesbianism/bisexuality/non-straightness and perhaps her relationship with Brittany. I hope it handles it in a caring and understanding way. But then again, it is Glee

Related: 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.

The (Belated) Underlying Message in Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Born This Way” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Furt” Episode.

Image via VideoBB.

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

From “Should the Ugly Have Special Legal Protections” on Jezebel, featuring excerpts from Daniel S. Hamermesh’s article in The New York Times, entitled “Ugly? You May Have a Case”:

“… While we may disagree on who the most beautiful person in a room is, we can all easily agree on what class of attractiveness someone is in.

“Where someone fits on that scale is determined by the way they dress, how they do their makeup, their hairstyle, their personality, how they carry themselves, our personal preferences, and many other factors. Even if there are some disadvantages for people many of us don’t find attractive, that doesn’t mean we need to task our legal system with determining who’s a ‘grenade.’”

Emphasis mine.

*

From a 2009 post by The Punch and News.com.au editor-in-cheif David Penberthy on MamaMia about what men think about female body image:

“Men are much more attracted to a woman’s face than any other part of her body—68 per cent of men surveyed said they looked for a pretty face, just 8 per cent said great breasts, 8 per cent nice legs, and 16 per cent a perfect fat-free figure. In terms of ranking the importance of overall qualities, not one man said appearance was the most important—24 per cent cited personality as the most important, with 76 per cent citing personality and appearance in equal measure.”

Mia Freedman continues in her response to Penberthy’s piece:

“Interestingly, what shouts loudest to me from Penb[erthy]’s post and The Punch survey results is that men don’t really HAVE an ideal. They think we’re all pretty hot. So hot that they’re baffled as to why we’re not lesbians. How can we resist tearing each other’s close off and frolicking in all our diverse glory?”

While this piece doesn’t state the age of the male participants (a condition of the survey was that it was anonymous, so men could speak freely about what they really think), judging from The Punch’s target demographic, I’d be willing to bet they’re of the Generation X age group. From my experience, men that age formed their opinions of and preferences for women before the internet, porn and airbrushing culture were as rampant as they are now, and don’t really complain if they have the chance to get their kit off with some chick.

Hence why I go for older men…

*

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 men 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: Beauty VS. Brains.

Cristina Yang as Feminist.

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

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

[MamaMia] What MEN Think About Women’s Body Image.

[Jezebel] Should the Ugly Have Special Legal Protections?

[The New York Times] Ugly? You May Have a Case.

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

From a 2009 post by The Punch and News.com.au editor-in-cheif David Penberthy on MamaMia about what men think about female body image:

“Men are much more attracted to a woman’s face than any other part of her body—68 per cent of men surveyed said they looked for a pretty face, just 8 per cent said great breasts, 8 per cent nice legs, and 16 per cent a perfect fat-free figure. In terms of ranking the importance of overall qualities, not one man said appearance was the most important—24 per cent cited personality as the most important, with 76 per cent citing personality and appearance in equal measure.”

Mia Freedman continues in her response to Penberthy’s piece:

“Interestingly, what shouts loudest to me from Penb[erthy]’s post and The Punch survey results is that men don’t really HAVE an ideal. They think we’re all pretty hot. So hot that they’re baffled as to why we’re not lesbians. How can we resist tearing each other’s close off and frolicking in all our diverse glory?”

While this piece doesn’t state the age of the male participants (a condition of the survey was that it was anonymous, so men could speak freely about what they really think), judging from The Punch’s target demographic, I’d be willing to bet they’re of the Generation X age group. From my experience, men that age formed their opinions of and preferences for women before the internet, porn and airbrushing culture were as rampant as they are now, and don’t really complain if they have the chance to get their kit off with some chick.

Hence why I go for older men…

*

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 men 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: Beauty VS. Brains.

Cristina Yang as Feminist.

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

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

[MamaMia] What MEN Think About Women’s Body Image.