On the (Rest of the) Net.

tom cruise age difference leading women

The age disparities between leading men and their love interests. [Vulture]

I’m on Twitter! Follow me @ScarlettEHarris.

Nice Guys of OKCupid has paved the way for homosexual creeps with Douchebags of Grindr.

Why was Boston “terrorism” but not Sandy Hook, Aurora or Columbine, for example? [The Guardian]

Feminist awakenings. [Daily Life]

Sexism on MasterChef. [Daily Life]

A collection of essays on Spring Breakers. [The New Enquiry]

Shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords on the recent vetoing of background checks for gun buyers by the U.S. Congress. [NYTimes]

The Tribeca Film Festival is honouring one of its female filmmakers with the inaugural Nora Ephron Prize! [Tribeca Film Festival]

If we needed a reminder of the patriarchal corners of the world women have yet to be granted entry into, there’s now a Tumblr dedicated to just that! [Boys Clubs]

How to discuss Tyler Perry without sounding racist. [AV Club]

The symptoms of and treatment for feminist burnout. [Bitch Flicks]

James Deen on gender equality and slut-shaming (NSFW). [James Deen Blog]

Gun control does not mean penis control: guns and masculinity. [Women’s Media Centre]

How much murder and rape is there on TV? [Vulture] 

Image via Vulture.

TV: Modern Family is Anything But.

modern family mud portrait

After a recent spat with my housemate about the apparent modernity of Modern Family, in which he defended the show for its gay couple with an adopted Vietnamese baby and a strong Latino presence while I cried stereotyping, I decided I should actually watch an episode or two of it before I denounce Modern Family as an archetype perpetuating farce.

Now, with three and a half seasons and some informed opinions under my belt, I can wholeheartedly say I abhor the sexist tropes of the fiery Latina, Gloria, and the shrill, controlling housewife, Claire, and Modern Family’s blatant racism, homophobia and slut-shaming. Let me count the ways…

Right off the bat in the sixth episode of season one, “Run for Your Wife”, there were some troubling stereotypes about stay-at-home mums. When the Dunphy kids head off to their first day of school for the year, mum Claire looks forward to some downtime to get started on a new book. Phil, who’s supposed to be the breadwinner of the family, is also home and wants to hang out with his wife. After blowing off some open-houses he’s supposed to be putting on as part of, you know, his job as a real estate agent, Phil gets embroiled in a mid-afternoon jogging race with Claire.

As a child who grew up with a stay-at-home mum, I can tell you that I never once saw her sitting down to read a book in the middle of the day or challenge my dad to a childish competition. There was too much cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping and picking up to do. In fact, my dad was barely home and often working more than one job in order to put food on the table and keep us in a home one fifth of the size of the Dunphy’s, which is more than we can say for Phil who is rarely shown at work.

While the acting of Ty Burrell (Phil) and Julie Bowen (Claire) is something to write home (or at least the awards shows) about, their characters leave a lot to be desired. Phil is always dropping the ball (or getting it thrown into his face, as in “Door to Door” in season three) on being a functioning human being, let alone a good husband and father, and Claire often refers to him as her fourth child (she technically only has three: Haley, Alex and Luke). The trope of wife-as-replacement-mother is a tired one, but that doesn’t stop Modern Family for milking it for all it’s worth.

This brings us to Gloria, who is anything but. She’s young, sexy and, most notably, a loud, sassy Latin woman who’s always getting arked up about something. In season one’s “Up All Night”, Gloria’s son Manny’s dad comes to visit. While Gloria is now remarried to the older and dependable Jay, ex-husband Javier is a fellow fiery Latino who tries to make up for his absence by showering Manny with extravagant gifts. In the episode, Javier takes Jay and Manny to a baseball field in the middle of the night, and the next day comes bearing motorbikes. Gloria becomes audibly incensed that Jay’s falling for Javier’s tricks, like she used to, and storms off, yelling in Spanish. Every portrayal of a Hispanic woman in pop culture doesn’t have to be that of the “hot blooded” Latin mama; just look at the gay, Latina orthopedic surgeon Dr. Callie Torres in Grey’s Anatomy, a show that is far more modern than one with that word in its title, for example.

Speaking of the gays, what portrayal of contemporary American life would be complete without the requisite homosexual couple with an adopted Asian baby? Certainly not Modern Family, which turns the gay dial up to eleven with stay-at-home dad, former farm-dweller and part-time clown Cam, the uptight, dogmatic (unsurprisingly the brother of Claire) lawyer Mitchell and their über inappropriate ways. For example, in “Run for Your Wife”, Mitchell accidentally bumps baby Lily’s head against a door frame, and they take her to the doctor. The doctor happens to be Asian-American, so Cam embarks on a sermon about how he and Mitchell intend to raise Lily with influences from her Asian roots, completely disregarding the fact that the doctor was born and raised somewhere in middle America and identifies first and foremost as an American.

Later on, in season two’s “Unplugged”, Cam and Mitchell try to get Lily into a preschool. When they realise Lily’s going up against an adopted African-American boy with disabled-lesbian parents for the last spot at a prestigious private school, Cam flubs the interview by emphasising his 1/16th Cherokee heritage and speaking in pidgin English. As someone who is also 1/16th Cherokee, I’m sure you can imagine my offence at this.

Cam, as I’m sure you can imagine if you don’t already watch Modern Family, is the flamboyant half of the couple, and enjoys dressing Lily up as famous gay icons and encouraging her creative side. In the episode “Chirp”, in season two, Cam goes against Mitchell’s wishes and has Lily film a commercial for a furniture store. The ad is completely racist, using emphasised Asian accent voiceovers and Godzilla, and when Mitchell points this out, Cam uses the defence of hipsters the world over: “It’s ironic.” I suppose because they have an Asian kid, they’re allowed to be racist…?

While there are some redeeming qualities throughout the show’s run, such as the “Mother’s Day” (season two), “After the Fire” (season three), and “Schooled” (recently aired as part of season four) episodes which seek to unpack gay parenting and stereotypes of femininity, masculinity and homosexuality, it’s also rife with slut-shaming (Jägermeister is a magic potion that puts girls to sleep but instead of waking up “in a castle, you wake up in a frat house with a bad reputation” in “Moon Landing”, whilst Phil marvels in “Travels with Scout” that with his “emotionally distant father” it’s a miracle he didn’t end up as a stripper), homo- and transphobia (dad Jay insinuates that Mitchell is a cross-dresser because he’s also gay in “Starry Night”), and jokes about domestic violence (when Mitchell asks his dad to teach him how to fight in “Game Changer”, Jay asks if he’s having problems with Cam).

As I’m sure Glee can attest, an after school special-esque episode here and there doesn’t make up for Modern Family’s utter lack of modernity the majority of the time.

Related: The Underlying Message in Glee‘s “On My Way” Episode.

Elsewhere: [Chica & the City] Casting Call for “Hot Blooded” Latina Moms Makes My Blood Boil.

Image via BuddyTV.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

One Direction and performing straight-queer masculinity. [Daily Life]

Why India is the worst country in which to be a woman. [Daily Life] 

FOMO (fear of missing out) on YOLO (you only live once). I can totally relate to Mia’s predicament: at the moment I’m kind of experiencing a guilt or anxiety about not getting out and being social enough and doing things, but at the same time, as Mia writes, no matter how much you want to want to do something, you can’t force yourself to want to do it. So I’m taking solace in that fact. [MamaMia] 

I’ve been in two minds about the show in recent episodes, but looking back, I’m sad to see Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 go. [Jezebel] 

We need to talk to our partners about porn. [Jezebel] 

Gala Darling has some fab tips for getting inspired and your time organised as a blogger. For those of you who visit this site regularly, you’ll have noticed that I’ve been pretty slack with content over the past couple of months, and that’s because I’ve been so uninspired. Now, as I start to get back into the swing of things and I’ve made a concerted effort to get inspired and start thinking of blog and freelance ideas, I think The Scarlett Woman will start looking more like the blog you know and (hopefully!) love. Thanks, Gala!

On the (Rest of the) Net: Pre-Christmas Stocking Stuffer Edition.

This time in four days most of us will have already made a beeline for what’s underneath the Christmas tree, though not everyone is so fortunate to have an abundance of gifts this silly season. For those of us who are happy, healthy and wealthy, whatever that may mean to you, take a little time out to wish those not so well off a safe and merry holiday period. Merry Christmas!

etsy abortaments

Just in time for Christmas, “abortaments”. Hmm… [Jezebel]

White American masculinity and gun violence. [Ms. Magazine]

The strong female characters in film this year. [New York Times]

Forget Halloween. Presenting: slutty Christmas costumes! [Jezebel]

The apparent “nice guys” of dating websites now have their own snarky Tumblr. [NiceGuysofOKCupid]

Image via Jezebel.

It’s Hard Out There for a Man?

From “The Truth About Universal Masculinity” by Mark Manson on The Good Men Project:

“Camille Paglia once wrote, ‘A woman simply is, but a man must become. Masculinity is risky and elusive. It is achieved by a revolt from woman, and it is confirmed only by other men’… Whereas a woman’s femininity is implicit by simply being and birthing, a man’s must be proven through action.”

While I don’t agree totally with this contention (a lot of women struggle to, and are chastised for, deviating from traditional femininity), Manson and Paglia do raise an interesting point about modern masculinity.

A Good Men Project commenter, Budmin, wrote in response to my “Manning Up” post last week:

“Women have more flexibility to self identify with what ever level of aggression or passivity they see fit. Their femininity thus their humanity is not on constant trial. It can’t be taken away from them. It’s theirs and theirs alone.

“Masculinity is the act of suppressing all insecurities so that one may project the illusion of dominance for the satisfaction and protection of others.”

Anyone who knows me (or anyone who reads this blog) knows that I’m a feminist through and through, and that the idea of a “post-feminist” society is spurious. But, provided the right infrastructure and support is in place in an individual female’s life, she does have the opportunities to be anything she wants to be. Sure, she’ll probably be judged for it by misogynists and traditionalists, but does she have as hard a time as a man does stepping outside of the rigid stereotype we’ve put in place for him?

I can’t stand poor-straight-white-wealthy-male problems, but should we diminish the individual struggles to “be a man” men face today because they’re not deemed as “worthy” as the struggles women or people of colour or gay men and women or the poor or the disabled or transgender people face? Who are we to say that someone’s inner demons aren’t as bad as the next person’s?

Now is as good a time as any to be a man but, I think, once everyone realises that gender is just a performance, we’ll all be able to get on with our lives in a way that’s right for us, regardless of the body parts we were born with and what society expects from us because of said body parts.

Elsewhere: [The Good Men Project] The Truth About Universal Masculinity.

[The Good Men Project] Manning Up.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“In Defence of the Short-Haired Woman”:

“I think… that a lot of men believe they prefer long hair—and wrong in that when it comes down to it, they don’t actually care all that much.

“I’m sure there are plenty of straight men who truly, inherently prefer long hair on women. But in my experience, the bulk of straight men who default to liking long hair on women just like women.” [Jezebel, via The Beheld]

Beauty truly comes from within. [MamaMia]

How guys really feel about going down on us. One question: where can I find this guy?!

“What I think is ‘holy shit is this hot!’ I notice the varieties in taste during certain parts of a girl’s cycle. It tastes sort of tart right after her period ends, gets musky around ovulation and then has full blown feminine sex scent right before her period. I loved doing it from the first time I tried it. In fact, I came without touching myself the first time I went down on a girl. There is no learning to like it. Heck, it puts me even closer to pussy than fucking does. How could a guy who likes girls possibly not like it. Overall it’s my favorite sexual experience. You don’t have the pressure of ‘fuck if I get too into this I’m going to cum too soon and disappoint her but if I hold off and take forever to cum I’m going to end up boring her/making her sore/making her think I’m not that into it’ that you get from intercourse. You just to get to dive into the best smell and taste in the world and be there until you see, feel, hear and taste her having an orgasm. It’s a powerful feeling. I think oral sex is awesome and the best form of contraception mankind has ever come up with. Same great orgasms, no risk of changing diapers down the line.” [Jezebel]

Harrowing TV birth scenes as contraceptives. [NYTimes]

It’s not just the Disney princesses we need to worry about. It’s the princes, too. [Sociological Images]

Why are the new Snow White movies so… white?

“The filmmakers missed a chance to bring a truly new perspective to the story by integrating it. Snow White is a made-up story, taking place in a made-up land. Why can’t the handsome prince be black? Why can’t the queen be black? There seems to be an Asian dwarf in the Mirror Mirror project, but none of the major characters in either film are of colour.” [Jezebel]

The woman used as a reason to commit adultery by cheating website Ashley Madison speaks out:

“There is an enormous problem in this world in regards to female body shaming, and not solely in regard to fat women, but all women. A size 2 woman who sees this ad sees the message: ‘If I don’t stay small, he will cheat’. A size 12 woman might see this ad and think “if I don’t lose 30lbs, he will cheat”. A size 32 woman could see this ad, and feel ‘I will never find love’. It’s horrific. Not all women are necessarily insecure, but it’s no secret that body insecurity is endemic, regardless of size. This kind of message is extremely damaging to self worth. Eating disorders may have lost their place in the media spotlight, but continue to effect people of all ages, especially teens. This sort of behavior can easily be triggered from the careless cruelty of advertisements like the one in question.” [Jezebel]

10 other things that should be worthy of “Personhood”. [Jezebel]

The history of Ms. magazine. [New York Magazine]

Eve Ensler is over rape jokes and Facebook pages. [HuffPo]

Images via Jezebel, Sociological Images.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Spice World as metatext madness! [Thought Catalog]

Are we living in the post-ideas age? [New York Times]

“The Opposite of ‘Man’ is ‘Boy’, Not ‘Woman’” by Hugo Schwyzer:

“… Men who long for a vanished world of all-male preserves are making a fundamental mistake about masculinity. They think that the opposite of ‘man’ is ‘woman’ and that in order to prove oneself the former they must do (perform) things that no woman can. But it makes good sense to suggest that the better antonym of ‘man’ is ‘boy.’ To ‘perform masculinity’ isn’t about doing what women don’t. It’s about doing what boys lack the will or the maturity to do.

“If we really are in a ‘man crisis’ in America, I suspect it’s rooted as much as anything else in this fundamentally mistaken belief that manhood needs to be about rejecting anything that smacks of the feminine.” [The Good Men Project, via Jezebel]

How they got Osama bin Laden. [The New Yorker]

“Talking to an Abortion Clinic Protester.” [Jezebel]

The “proper etiquette” for drunk Jersey Shore sluts. [Jezebel]

Cutting off your animal cruelty to spite your feminism. Feminaust’s Ms Elouise on PETA’s latest anti-animal cruelty porn site:

“Is using Pamela Anderson’s body as a sex object and comparing it with a piece of meat an acceptable way of drawing attention to the plight of animals in the meat industry?

“PETA’s use of women’s bodies as a means to furthering their animal rights activism undermines their claims to ‘we all have the same parts’ because they’re saying the exact opposite, they’re saying:

“‘LOOK BOOBIES! Now that we have your attention, meat is bad.’”

While this is a great article, I don’t agree with its sentiments 100%. Yes, some of PETA’s campaigns have been unnecessarily focused on the female form, illustrating no real point, but I do think the “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” and the Pamela Anderson campaigns use it in a positive way. Both for women and animals. What do you think?

“Do You Prefer ‘Fashion Victim’ or ‘Ensembly Challenged’?” Squee! All of Cher Horowitz’s outfits in less than 60 seconds! [Worn Fashion Journal]

Questions for “perfect-looking women”, if there is such a thing. [Thought Catalog]

A letter to Gloria Steinem. [Ms. Magazine]

Rachel Rabbit White on “femme-guilt, beauty-privilege and the phenomenon of girls slut-shaming other girls.”

Everything Sarah Hepola learned about New York City. [The Morning News]

The victim-blaming of Lara Logan for deigning to be hot, bare cleavage and get raped. [Broad Street Review]

“Feminism, Colonialism and Islamophobia” at Qantara.

Image via Fan Pop.