On the (Rest of the) Net.

Can men please stop singing songs about women who don’t find themselves beautiful? (I explored the same topic here.) [Buzzfeed]

The man who coined the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” wishes he never did. [Salon]

There will always be hand-wringing and pearl-clutching over the youth’s sexuality by older generations:

“What remains the same is that sex is made out to be a game, one in which men are competitors and women are prizes. Men are tasked with pleading, urging and coercing women into sex, or sexual behavior…

“Young women’s sexuality is so policed and constrained that they are often looking for excuses to be sexual — sometimes it’s drinking too much, sometimes it’s a silly contest. Anything for plausible slut-deniability.” [Salon]

Like Anna Gunn before her, Leighton Meester takes issue with the misogyny hurled at her character on the latest Broadway iteration of Of Mice & Men:

“The insults are thrown at Curley’s wife: bitch, tramp, tart. The further along in the production we go, the more I realise that the audience agrees. In rooting for our heroes—the everyman protagonists who scorn and demean the only woman—the audience finds themselves unquestioningly hating her, too. But why? … [I]n dissecting this piece for five months now, I’ve found that within the writing, there is both a lack of reason to truly hate this woman, and the inevitable and undeniable urge to do so…

“If this woman is purely a victim, why is she so hated? And if she is truly harmless, why is she so threatening? Without question, it was a commentary on the social climate at the time, which still surprisingly applies today. But if sexism is one of the featured themes, why not say it?” [HuffPo]

My Lean In/Grey’s Anatomy post from a couple of weeks ago is cross-posted at Bitch Flicks. Head on over and check it and their other pieces out.

Naked women as props (NSFW). [Sociological Images]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-469-1388432790-0

“‘I woke up like ‘dis’ is the biggest beauty myth of them all”: in defence of cosmetic surgery. [MamaMia]

I was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. [Jezebel]

What it’s like to have an abortion… on camera. [Feministing]  

In the wake of Shailene Woodley shunning feminism, should we even be asking female celebrities what they think about it? [Feminist Current]

The fall and fall of condoms. [Vogue]

In defence of Betty Draper. [LA Review of Books]

The Puberty Blues give way to a sexual awakening. [Daily Life]

Gif via Her.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

victorian era breastfeeding

Victorians were more progressive about breastfeeding than we are! Although, it was linked to femininity, class and bonding with the child, stigmas that still exist around breastfeeding (or NOT breastfeeding) today. [Sociological Images]

Do ladymags publish serious journalism? Follow the #WomenAtLength hashtag on Twitter to find some examples of longer, “serious” pieces written by women. [Jezebel]

What Adrian Bayley’s crimes can teach us about prevention, rehabilitation and incarceration. [New Matilda]

Everyday Sexism has made a doco about shouting back at street and sexual harassment. The accompanying article by Clem Bastow is equally as hard hitting. Check them both out, because no one should be made to feel like they brought harassment on themselves, they’re overreacting, or dread at the prospect of leaving the house because they might experience it. [Daily Life]

The manic pixie dream girls of superhero movies. [Think Progress]

Someone actually wants my opinion on the week that was in sexism and misogyny particularly in politics, but across other spectrums as well. Kudos to Corey Hague on editing me to sound like I actually know what I’m talking about! [ABC Central Victoria]

Meanwhile, Mia Freedman thinks it was a good week for women: at least we’re talking about sexism and there have been consequences for it. [MamaMia]

Famous women writers before their suicides. What do you think: artistic or glorifying suicide and sexualising violence? I find some of them, like the Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf portraits, visually appealing because they’re inoffensive to the eye and create tension and anticipation, but I can’t stomach the Dorothy Parker nor Sanmao ones. Vice may be known for their provocativity (is that even a word?!), but I think this photoshoot is in the same vein as Terry Richardson and Dolce & Gabanna’s rapey aesthetics – which I quite like despite myself – where stopping the sexualisation of violence against women should trump artistic expression. [Jezebel, as the photoshoot on Vice's website has been removed]

It was Father’s Day in the U.S. over the weekend, and to celebrate, The Hairpin has collated fiction’s worst fathers. As someone with a deadbeat dad myself, I can empathise.

Fashion, feminism and femininity: mutually exclusive? Hell no! The other day when discussing feminism with a mansplaining misogynist who told me I only make him more confused about feminism because of the way I look, a friend interjected that I might just be the most feminine person she knows. And the most feminist, might I add?! [Daily Life]

Kim Kardashian may be a fame-whore, but she’s a person, too, and she deserves some semblance of basic decency. [TheVine]

Is the only reason we watch True Blood anymore for the sex? [The Daily Beast]

If we can’t have the real deal, Feminist Taylor Swift is the next best thing. [Twitter]

Image via Sociological Images.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

lindsay lohan mug shot xovain

xoVain recreates Lindsay Lohan’s mugshot looks.

Benjamin Law thinks all gay men should be feminists. Nay, all HUMANS should be feminists! [Daily Life]

When your mum has bad body image. This piece hits home because my mum is insecure about the way she looks and has transferred that onto my sister. [Daily Life]

The 12th Doctor Who should be a woman. [Slate]

Unfortunately, all my flights for my U.S. trip coming up at the end of the year are with Virgin, so hopefully their new “Get Lucky at 35,000 Feet” campaign doesn’t mean sexual harassment at 35,000 feet. [Make Me a Sammich]

Dissecting Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:

“The worse the stories get, the stronger [Olivia Benson] becomes; it’s the show’s unspoken dialectic…

“For all SVU’s excesses, we expect it to keep one promise: no matter how bad things get, the story will end.” [The New Yorker]

Daisy Buchanan: the ultimate Manic Pixie Dream Girl?

“Is she at fault for the fact that all of her swooning suitors idealise and project upon her?  Should we pity her, even a little, for not having had the courage or desire to break free of her social caste and love whomever she pleased?” [Women in the World]

Why does Johnny Depp have a bird on his head, speak in pidgin English and bear the Spanish name for dumb in the reboot of The Lone Ranger in 2013? [The Good Men Project]

Discussing street harassment. [Jezebel]

Why the most recent viral Dove ads are bull: lots of people envision themselves as attractive or more attractive than they are. [Jezebel]

Tyler the Creator’s misogyny and homophobia isn’t “just about the music”, and nor is it edgy. It’s disgusting. [Tiger Beatdown]

There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding this piece: it’s natural to lust after randoms passing you in the street, brewing your coffee, or hanging at the bar, but this guy wonders if his perving is more of a compulsion. [Slate]

What murdered teen Trayvon Martin and Justin Bieber have in common. [This Week in Blackness]

Image via xoVain.

On (Rest of the) Net.

Rachel Hills’ TEDx Talk on the sex myth, the topic of her upcoming book of the same name. [YouTube]

Defending The Onion‘s Chris-Brown-“I-Always-Thought-Rihanna-Was-the-Woman-I’d-Beat-to-Death” joke. [The Frisky]

Stop calling Amanda Bynes crazy. [TheVine]

What did Tony Abbott mean when he said “women of calibre” should be encouraged to have children and should feminists be speaking out in favour of the Coalition’s superior paid parental leave scheme? [Daily Life]

“Panels Full of Women”: on fetishising female news voices. [News Junkee]

Debunking the prevalence of sex-selective abortions in Australia. [Daily Life]

“See a Woman Reading? Leave Her Alone.” The perils of reading and subsequent street harassment. [Gender Focus]

The Great Gatsby doesn’t do the “newly liberated” flapper justice. [Collectors Weekly]

Manic pixie dream guy? [Nerve]

The sexism of Star‘s Most Annoying Celebrities list. [The Times Magazine]

Denmark’s latest televisual offering: women stripping naked in front of a panel of two men who critique their bodies. Obviously, this is a crazy and sexist idea for a TV show, but is it any crazier or more sexist than, say, Snog Marry Avoid? Both have an underlying message that women aren’t good enough, with one referring to the naked body whilst the other takes aim at how and with what a woman cloaks herself. Your thoughts? [Bust]

Books: Marilyn Monroe as Manic Pixie Dream Girl?

Marilyn-Monroe---Glasses

As with yesterday’s post, this comes from Gloria Steinem’s Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions in an article entitled “Marilyn Monroe: The Woman Who Died Too Soon”:

“[Marilyn Monroe disliked] to be interpreted by them [her male admirers] in writing because she feared that sexual competition made women dislike her… In films, photographs, and books, even after her death as well as before, she has been mainly seen through men’s eyes.”

Just like our favourite Manic Pixie Dream Girls Holly Golightly, Ruby Sparks, Annie Hall, and Zooey Deschanel.

Related: Procrastination Proclamation.

Posts Tagged “Ruby Sparks”.

Manic Pixie Dream Girly Girls & Not-So-Girly Girls.

Image via Discount Poster Sale.

Movies: Ruby Sparks & The Catcher in the Rye*.

As I have written over the past week or so, there are many ways to interpret Ruby Sparks, whether as a commentary on the indie movie phenomenon of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl or the abusive nature of protagonist Calvin and title character Ruby’s relationship.

But I also picked up on the use of Catcher in the Rye as a sort of metaphor for Calvin’s tortured soul and his equally tortured relationship with Ruby. The intertwining of Calvin’s obsession with the way people perceive his dog, Scotty, and thereby perceive him, is made all the more symbolic in the scene where Calvin comes home late to discover Scotty’s trashed his room, peed in his bed and eaten a copy of J.D. Salinger’s seminal work.

It’s not really until the end of the movie that all the subtle references to the book come together as pieces of the puzzle. For those of you who have read Catcher in the Rye (I would assume everyone has, but those who I’ve spoken to about the movie in the hopes of getting their thoughts on the inclusion of the book as a theme have been unenlightened as to Holden Caulfield’s story), it could be interpreted that none of what Holden describes throughout the novel actually happened, as his mental capacity is questionable. Calvin is akin to a modern day Holden Caulfield, if only in terms of mental health, in that he sees a shrink (though in the creative world, who doesn’t?), has skewed views of what women should be and literally imagines his dream girl into existence.

This calls into question the turn of events depicted in the movie. Did Calvin imagine Ruby and their whole relationship? Did he black out around the time he met her, wrote about her and, reading back over his work, doesn’t remember how he met her, thereby making himself believe that she came to life from his writing? We know his family met and loved Ruby, but could that be a construction of his imagination? Holden concludes Catcher in the Rye in a mental facility; is that were Calvin tells his story from, too?

To further support the notion that something’s not right with Calvin’s account of his relationship with Ruby, his shrink, Dr. Rosenthal, asks him if he’s sure Ruby’s not real…

To employ the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope here, too, Ruby initially functions as a female version of Calvin to somehow narcissistically improve his existence. That he writes her to be depressed, then euphoric, then back again, and looks at her with pity when she expresses these extreme emotions could be seen as Calvin dealing with his own emotional ups and downs.

I don’t have the answers and there’s a good chance that I’m overthinking Ruby Sparks too much, but from my point of view there are endless realms of possibility the film could be taken in to.

What do you think?

Related: Ruby Sparks & the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Ruby Sparks & the Abusive Relationship.

*Blanket spoiler alert for both Ruby Sparks AND The Catcher in the Rye.

Image via The Thousands.

Movies: Ruby Sparks & the Abusive Relationship*.

I first went into Ruby Sparks thinking it was going to be just another quirky, indie (500) Days of Summer-esque vehicle to cement writer and star Zoe Kazan as the newest Manic Pixie Dream Girl of the same first name to watch.

For the first third of the movie, I wasn’t wrong. It deals with main character Calvin’s decade-long writers block and feelings of “inadequacy” at not being able to live up to his “genius” and “boy wonder” monikers upon the release of his first (and only) novel when he was in his late teens. Naturally, the role of titular character and token MPDG, Ruby, is to come into Calvin’s life in a whirlwind of “messy”-ness, complication and coloured tights and help him out of his creative rut. Ruby Sparks is the exception to the MPDG rule, though, as where (500) Days’ Summer and Sam of Garden State are real women (though “girls” would be a more accurate description) whom the male protagonists envision as their ideal mates, Ruby is literally Calvin’s dream lover: he wrote her on his pretentious typewriter.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Kazan responds to the idea of Ruby Sparks as a critique of the MPDG and how she didn’t initially have that goal when she wrote the screenplay. She also talks about the twist in the third act in which Calvin’s need to have Ruby conform to his dream girl stereotype turns into an abusive obsession with controlling her:

“I think if you’re going to make a movie in which a man can control a woman, if you don’t push it to the extreme, it’s going to be sexist.”

It’s funny she said that, as I had trouble reconciling the fact that a seemingly switched-on woman wrote Ruby Sparks with the first half of it which, as I mentioned above, had one of the only female characters succumb to the idea of what a certain kind of woman should be. (Then again, men don’t have a monopoly on sexism.) “You haven’t written a person; you’ve written a girl,” Calvin’s brother, Harry, tells him upon reading his first draft.

Ruby is a girl who at first seems like a fun-loving, spirited artist with no threatening aspirations of capitalising on her illustrative talents (she admits she’s “super good”) by parlaying them into a career. When Ruby does express a desire to get out of the house more, meet some people and maybe get a job, Calvin begs her to stay with him because “I don’t need anyone else”, and neither should she.

It emerges that Calvin’s last serious lover was a novelist, too, whom he bumps into at a book party at which Ruby frolics in her underwear in the pool with Calvin’s agent and subsequently gets slut-shamed by her boyfriend for it. Calvin’s ex tells him that “it’s like you had this image of me and anything I did to contradict it you just ignored… The only person you wanted to be in a relationship with was you.”

Ruby in her original form, before Calvin starts making “tweaks” the moment she develops some autonomy, is essentially a female version of her creator. Not only has Kazan taken the notion of the MPDG and the trope’s traditional role in shaping and changing her male counterparts’ life and turned it on its head, but she has indeed taken Ruby and Calvin’s relationship to the extreme in the ultimate spin on intimate partner abuse.

When Ruby’s had enough and suggests she stay at her apartment after the book party, Calvin reveals he has utter control over her because she’s not real. While on the surface the suspension of disbelief required by the audience makes this a true statement in the context of the film, the more insidious subtext is that Calvin has such a skewed view of what women should be that it seems he’s saying that not only does Ruby not exist in real life, but nor do real women in his. In fact, they’re more like domestic animals to be controlled, as with Calvin’s written manipulation of Ruby in this scene where he types her on all fours barking like a dog: the ultimate act of degradation.

Speaking of dogs, Calvin’s inferiority complex which so many abusive partners have is evident in his treatment of his dog, Scotty, named for fellow tortured soul and wife-beater, F. Scott Fitzgerald. He prefers the idea of a dog as opposed to actually being a pet owner, because he’d like fellow park-goers to “stop to pet him and I would meet them but Scotty gets scared when people try to pet him”. He gets defensive when Scotty goes to the toilet like a female canine as, by extension, it threatens Calvin’s masculinity. Of course Calvin appropriates Ruby’s shine to Scotty despite or perhaps because of his oddities into a metaphor for her feelings towards her future abuser.

If it wasn’t for the happily-ever-after cop-out of an ending, what initially seemed like the indie movie du jour has turned into a commentary on Manic Pixie Dream Girls and the danger of emotionally abusive relationships.

Related: Ruby Sparks & the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Elsewhere: [HuffPo] Zoe Kazan, Ruby Sparks Writer & Star: “Quirky” Means Nothing.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Image via Groucho Reviews.

Movies: Ruby Sparks & the Manic Pixie Dream Girl*.

Below is the original post I had in mind when first going to see indie movie Ruby Sparks, written by and staring who I perceived to be the token Manic Pixie Dream Girl of the moment, Zoe Kazan.

Two screenings later and Ruby Sparks is anything but the cliché Garden State/Elizabethtown/(500) Days of Summer flick I thought it was going to be. In fact, I was so inspired by the movie that there will be several articles about it appearing on this here blog over the next week or two, dealing with its take on abusive relationships, the psychology of its protagonist, Calvin, and the inspiration the film draws from Catcher in the Rye. But first, let’s examine Ruby Sparks as the anti-MPDG.

*

I know this girl who wears quirky owl-print dresses and is into obscure strains of literature. She’s not a friend per se, and her tendency to cry at the drop of a hat rubs me the wrong way, but I don’t not like her. More to the point, her existence puzzles me.

I have a few male acquaintances who worship the ground she walks on, and who RSVP to her Facebook invites to attend human rights marches and to go bushwalking when they’ve never spent a day in nature or in non-white, non-straight male shoes in their lives. To them, I think she embodies their idea of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a feminist film phenomenon I’m sure they’ve never heard of but that has been dominating the indie movie scene (read: anything Zooey Deschanel’s been in) for the past few years.

I don’t know this girl too well, but I don’t think she herself is a MPDG. Her hard-for-other-women-to-get-to-know façade and seemingly archetypal attributes make her the perfect canvas for twenty-something men struggling to find themselves to project their hopes and desires onto (despite the small fact that she has a boyfriend!), much like Calvin does to the titular character in the movie Ruby Sparks. The difference is, though, that Calvin literally created Ruby to be his perfect girlfriend via his pretentious typewriter.

Ruby is one of those annoying, “quirky” (though don’t let writer-star Zoe Kazan hear you say that; she told The Huffington Post that she hates that word. “[Quirky] means nothing,” Kazan said.), sunshiney girls who floats around in an artistic (she’s an illustrator, of course, and “super good” at it), hipster-esque existence. She may be a “motherfucking product of my imagination”, marvels Calvin, but she’s from Dayton, Ohio, because the location “sounds romantic”. She got kicked out of school for sleeping with her “art or Spanish teacher”. Ruby doesn’t own a computer or drive, and she’s “complicated” because she “forgets to open bills”. She’s “such a mess”, but not to worry: Calvin loves her mess. Ever the voice of reason, Calvin’s brother, Harry deposes that “quirky messy women whose problems only make them more endearing are not real.” The MPDG fetishisation of incapability is something I’ll never understand: isn’t the hallmark of being a together, grown-up person and, indeed, partner, to be able to take care of yourself and, at the very least, pay your bills? Maybe I should ask my abovementioned man boy friends to enlighten me on the allure…

What Ruby isn’t in her original form is a whole person. She’s just an extension of Calvin’s indie man-child persona: the ultimate MPDG who breaks with tradition to make the observation that “we’re the same person”. Again, Harry enlightens Calvin with his words of wisdom: “You haven’t written a person; you’ve written a girl.”

As Calvin stops writing Ruby she evolves into an individual, with desires and feelings that don’t always conform to Calvin’s “platonic ideal of Your Girlfriend”. A film that from the Kaiser Chiefs-infused trailer could be presumed to be about the MPDG du jour evolves into somewhat of a critique of the restrictions of the Pygmalion myth, even though that might not be what Kazan set out to do. On the trope:

“I just think the [MPDG] term really means nothing; it’s just a way of reducing people’s individuality down to a type, and I think that’s always a bad thing. And I think that’s part of what the movie is about, how dangerous it is to reduce a person down to an idea of a person.”

In a signature Ruby Sparks meta moment of self-awareness, Calvin expresses to his therapist that girls only want to date the author of his one-hit-wonder novel they read in high school, not him. “They’re not interested in me. They’re interested in some idea of me.” Hmm, sounds familiar doesn’t it, Calvin?

Perhaps my mates who trail along after their dream girl like a puppy dog as she attends pottery class and dates with her boyfriend could take a page out of Kazan’s book as opposed to Calvin’s…

Elsewhere: [HuffPo] Zoe Kazan, Ruby Sparks Writer & Star: “Quirky” Means Nothing.

[Vulture] Zoe Kazan Does Not Write Manic Pixie Dream Girls.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Image via Enthunder.

TV: Dermot Mulroney is New Girl’s Knight in Shining Armour.

One could argue that a rich guy helping out a girl whose car has broken down is the act of a good Samaritan. But when the friend of said girl whose car has broken down suggests she should be open to the fact that his display of kindness could have been a ploy to pick her up and she should want to date him because he can take care of her instead of her always having to take care of the guys she dates, you might argue that he could be seen as a knight in shining armor coming to rescue her from her broken-down-car-ridden existence.

I’m all for a bit of Dermot Mulroney, and I would totally hit that if I was in Jess’ position, but I’m having problems with his introduction into the series.

Mulroney’s character, Russell, is a wealthy philanthropist and the father of one of Jess’ students. He’s also the polar opposite of Jess’ other potential love interest, Nick, who is becoming the male version of Jess more with each episode.

Now, I also love me a man with a job and some career direction, but to suggest that a man who possesses these things will “rescue” you from your troubles is patriarchal and gross. It seems everyone in Jess’ life tries to coax her away from marching to the beat of her own manic pixie dream girl drum, but does she really need rescuing?

Related: Sexual Harassment is Just a Myth. You Just Need to Give People a Chance to Show You How Good They Are.

Manic Pixie Dream Girly Girls & Not-So-Girly Girls.

New Girl Should Attend a SlutWalk Sometime…

Body Acceptance on New Girl.

Who’s That Girl? It’s the New Girl.

Image via Zimbio.