TV: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Makeover” Episode.

With the U.S. presidential election taking place one day before Glee’s “Makeover” episode—in which McKinley High’s class presidential election occurred—aired in Australia, Glee showed that it is capable of some self-awareness and social commentary every now and then.

Shades of Brittany’s bid for last year’s class presidency can be seen, but where that episode dealt more with the feminism of both the 2008 and McKinley’s elections, last night was about the celebrity culture that surrounds voting.

Blaine tries to make this clear when he admonishes Brittany for using her popularity to influence the glee club members to vote for her. “This isn’t a popularity contest; it’s about who’s got the best ideas.” That may be so, but the creators saw fit to milk this angle for all it’s worth with a “Celebrity Skin” by Hole montage.

While Brittany chooses to run with “part-robot” Artie, whom she forgot she dated several seasons ago and broke up with because he called her stupid, as her vice presidential candidate, a category which Sue Sylvester points out has been introduced “for no discernible reason whatsoever”, she suggests Blaine pick Sam as running mate. Sam assures Blaine he’ll bring in the “sympathy” and “not-gay vote[s]” because his family is on food stamps and he’s not gay: kind of like John McCain picked his “granddaughter” (according to Brittany) Sarah Palin as vice presidential candidate in 2008 to seemingly ensure the “female” vote to no avail.

Brittany’s influence on her opposition seemed to work to her disadvantage, as at the end of the episode we see Blaine and Sam (“Blam” as they are collectively called on the congratulations banner) celebrating their victory. Blaine is experiencing some self-doubt and displacement at McKinley when Kurt is more focused on his new intern-career at Vogue.com with guest star Sarah Jessica Parker (who herself is heavily involved in politics and the campaign to get Obama reelected, serendipitously enough) than him, but Sam says being the school’s “first gay-guy president” whose place of birth is brought into question by Brittany is something to be proud of, just like Obama was America’s first black president whose birthplace was also called into question by a fellow “celebrity” perhaps bitter about Obama’s influence in Hollywood: Donald Trump.

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

Image via AllMyVideos.

Magazines: Conservative Feminist Melinda Tankard Reist for Sunday Life.

 

Sunday Life is back with a bang for 2012, featuring Rachel Hills’ fantastic article on “anti-raunch, anti-porn, pro-life” activist, Melinda Tankard Reist.

I’ve been reading Tankard Reist’s work for about a year or two now, and I have to say, like Hills and many other feminists, I don’t always agree with her views. Hell, I barely ever agree with her views. I’ve got her latest book, Big Porn Inc., which you can read a bit about in the article, on my bedside table ready to go. I have some trepidation about the book, as I don’t see a huge problem with porn, but MTR does. She also views our culture as an increasingly raunch-filled and pornified one, which I also disagree with.

The article details MTR’s “brand of feminism” and also quotes some of her supporters and detractors, which I think rounds out the article very nicely. There’s also a side box about some other notable conservative “feminists”, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. If ever there were two women who used feminism to further their (clearly non-feminist) political agenda, it’s them. Writes Hills:

LA Times columnist Meghan Daum [writes], ‘If [Palin] has the guts to call herself a feminist, then she’s entitled to be accepted as one.’

“‘I was at a debate recently where a lot people were saying we needed to reinvent feminism because it has become loaded with too much negativity,’ says Eva Cox. ‘But if it’s negative, it is interesting that the right is picking it up.’

“Still, Cox warns: ‘Those who don’t want feminism to be co-opted by the Palins and the Tankard Reists need to do some thinking about what direction they want to take it in instead.’”

I can be a bit of a snobby feminist when I want to be, and don’t think that everyone can call themselves a feminist. But, in a Facebook exchange on the topic, the idea that anyone can call themselves a feminist and has the right to that label was prevalent. I’ve been known to opine that my personal feminism isn’t as radical as second-wave feminism is perceived to be. Just as MTR’s feminism is just as radical, if not more.

Hills rounds out the article by asserting that, “whether you agree with her or not… Tankard Reist is now one of Australia’s best-known feminist voices… It is her language—and that of her supporters—that increasingly frames our debates on sex, gender and popular culture.”

Maybe I’m not hanging out in the right places, but I disagree. Those who shape the debates on sex, gender and pop culture that I read and listen to are the ladies at Feminaust, Jezebel and Feministe, and Hills herself. It just goes to show that everyone does subscribe to their own personal feminism. Mine just isn’t akin to MTR’s.

Related: In Defence of Porn.

Elsewhere: [Rachel Hills] Who’s Afraid of Melinda Tankard Reist?

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Melinda Tankard Reist & Me: Meditations on My Sunday Life Cover Story.

Image via Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.

12 Posts of Christmas: Why is Feminism Still a Dirty Word?

In the spirit Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favourite posts of the year in the twelve days leading up to December 25th. 

Despite how far I feel I’ve come as a feminist in the last year or two, I find most people have “a long long way to go” in terms of realising what feminism actually means. I wrote this post in response to Beyonce’s musings on the topic, as well as the release of Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman, “Sarah Palin feminism” and Tina Fey, amongst other things. The original version is here, and you can read an update here.

Recently, when asked in an interview with UK Harper’s Bazaar if she’s a feminist, Beyonce said she wanted to invent a new word for feminism, because she doesn’t feel it “necessary” to define whether she is one or not.

Why, in this day and age, do we still distance ourselves from the word “feminism”?

And it’s not just Beyonce. Keri Hilson, Lady Gaga, and even (kind of)Tina Fey, have been called a feminist in one instance, and tried tobacktrack on it in the next.

In response to all this, Jezebel ran a contest to come up with “a catchy new word for feminism”, like Beyonce suggested. Some suggestions were “FUCK PATRIARCHY”, “Flesh-Hungry Young Slutism” (seemingly appropriate given it has been the year of the SlutWalk, if you will), “Vaginist”, “Diva-is-a-female-version-of-a-hustla-ism” (how you like that, Beyonce?), but the one that came out on top was “Equalism” which, in my experience, is what young feminists today strive for.

Speaking of young feminists, I would probably only define a handful of my friends as this, and even they are hesitant to describe themselves this way.

One says she’s not a feminist because she wants to “cook for her boyfriend”. Since when did not cooking and feminism become mutually exclusive?

Another says he’s (yes, he’s) could never truly be a feminist because he doesn’t have a vagina, so therefore will never know what those who do have to go through on a daily basis in a patriarchal society, and have gone through for centuries in patriarchal societies.

I have another who, just by looking at her, screams feminism before she even opens her mouth. Yet sometimes, when she says things I morally disagree with, I think, “she’s not feminist enough”. (Abhorrent, I know, and something I strive not to think and say as a feminist. And, by my own admission, some might say I’m “not feminist enough” because of the way I talk and how I dress.)

It’s a far cry from Beyonce, Gaga et al., who try to distance themselves from feminism, while young feminists (and old!) bicker amongst themselves about who’s more feminist! And it perfectly illustrates the discrepancies between what self-described feminists project onto the movement, and what lay, non-feminist Generation Yers believes it to be about.

Camilla Peffer over at Girls Are Made From Pepsi writes:

“I think most women associate feminism with radicalism and the whole bra burning hulla-balloo. Which is RI-DUNK-U-LOUS. And a lot of people see the term feminist [as] biased towards females in the sense that the whole movement promotes this idea of women being better than men.”

Indeed, there is a far cry between the first wave suffragist movement, second wave “bra-burning” and the sexual revolution, and current third-wave feminism. Some would even say that we have passed third-wave feminism and are now living in a post-feminist society.

When I first started getting into feminism about two years ago, I subscribed to this notion. Now, having been exposed to all manner of blogs, academic articles, events etc. to put the sexism, discrimination and harassment I’ve experienced as a woman into perspective, I can see that we sure as hell aren’t living in a post-feminist world and that we still need feminism, perhaps more than ever with the rise of the Tea Party and Michele Bachmann and the closure of Planned Parenthoods in the U.S., the blatant harassment most women experience on the street and in their workplaces every day, the attacks on SlutWalk, and the atrocities facing Third World women, to name but a few.

Taking on these battles shouldn’t be seen as something “dirty”; it should be seen as something we can all get behind, if it leads to our daughters experiencing a world free from harassment and discrimination based on what genitals she possesses and what she looks like, no matter what part of the world she hails from.

Sadly, as Rachel Hills muses, “it can be a bit uncool to care. Feminism means caring and wanting to change things, ergo it makes people uncomfortable—especially people who are comfortable with the status quo.”

Are you comfortable with the status quo? Do you think feminism is still a dirty word?

Related: Why is Feminism Still a Dirty Word?

UPDATED: Why is Feminism Still a Dirty Word?

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran Review.

Why Young Feminists Still Have “A Long, Long Way to Go” in the Eyes of Second-Wave Feminists.

So Misunderstood.

Melbourne Writers’ Festival: A Long, Long Way to Go: Why We Still Need Feminism.

Has Feminism Failed?

I Ain’t No Hollaback Girl: Street Harassment in CLEO.

The Taboos of Sexual Harassment.

Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Slutty Stride.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Let’s Invent a Catchy New Word for Feminism.

[Jezebel] The Catchy New Word for Feminism.

[Jezebel] Keri Hilson is a Feminist, Not That She Wants to Say So, Exactly.

[Jezebel] Tina Fey on the Message of 30 Rock’s “Joan of Snark” Episode.

[Feministe] Time to Check In With Tina Fey’s Feminism.

[The Frisky] Tina Fey: Not Feminist Enough?

[Girls Are Made From Pepsi] The Post in Which I Talk About Beyonce, Feminism & Equality For All.


On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Tavi Gevinson on her “First Encounters with the Male Gaze” and “How to Bitchface”. Love. [Rookie]

So, I’m not the only twenty-something who’s never been in a serious relationship! MamaMia’s Lucy Ormonde writes:

“Maybe we’re too picky. Maybe we’re too focused on our careers, too busy to look. Or maybe we should stop congregating in my living room and, you know, get out there.”

While I agree with most all she said, I have to argue that we’re not “too” anything. It’s the guys’ problem if they can’t hand our standards, careers and busy lives. Amiright?

To all the street harassers: we’re not here for your entertainment. [Emanix]

The racial and cultural limitations of “Share a Coke With…” [MamaMia]

Still with race, the racial politics of the Occupy protests. [Racialicious, via Jezebel]

On smacking. While I don’t think it’s something I would employ in disciplining my future children, I don’t have a problem with other people smacking their children. But Katharine Cook does make some good points on the contrary. [MamaMia]

The problem with asserting that “real women have curves”. So what do other women have? And are non-curvy women not real? [Jezebel]

Links from the #MenCallMeThings movement: Tiger Beatdown and New Statesman.

Men also explain things to me. [Alternet]

God save Community. [Jezebel]

An oldie but a goodie: deconstructing “Sarah Palin Feminism”. [Jezebel]

Images via Rookie, Community Things.

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

 

Despite the racism of the title (is it racist if the two token Asian characters and their tiger parents say it?), last night’s episode of Glee was all about girl power, with some political undertones.

Brittany is continuing her race for class president, performing “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyonce to a standing ovation in the gym. It’s not the first time Brittany’s done a Beyonce song (remember “Single Ladies [Put a Ring On It]” when Kurt was trying to pass her and Tina off as his girlfriends?), and the episode was pretty Bey-heavy, with lots of Dreamgirls songs to boot.

If you haven’t seen this video from NineteenPercent, I wholeheartedly recommend you watch it. “Run the World” “lulls girls into a false sense of achievement and distracts them from doing the work it takes to actually run the world.” Hence Brittany performing in the halls of William McKinley in a leather miniskirt and suspenders, when she should really be working on her campaign promises. But she does look damn fine!

The whole Brittany versus Kurt (versus Rachel) thing evokes feelings of the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton democratic primary race of 2008, not to mention the Sarah Palin-as-feminist debate.

Santana, Brittany’s right-hand campaign woman, tells Rachel that if she votes for “Jimmy Fallon’s butch daughter”, Kurt, “it would only empower another Frankenbeans,” whatever that means. (A Google search for both “Frankenbeans” and “Frank & Beans” yielded no relevant results.)

Brittany follows this up with all the shit male leaders have gotten America into lately: “double digit inflation, economic freefall, oil spills, the war in Afghanistan.”

But to make women feel like they have to vote for their political counterpart just because they’re a woman isn’t the way it should go. Palin is a perfect example of this: the only reason John McCain chose her as his running mate was because of the close upset of Clinton by Obama in the primaries. Upon further inspection, it was revealed that Palin didn’t know jack about most things. Perhaps Brittany’s run for senior class president is intended to reflect Palin’s vice-presidency bid, or her possible 2012 presidential candidacy, as Brittany isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

When Rachel realises Mercedes might beat her for the role of Maria in McKinley’s production of West Side Story, she decides to run for president, too, so she’ll have a stellar extra-curricular on her application for NYADA. Kurt is understandably upset, as he knows that Rachel’s running for personal gain, and perhaps Brittany’s been brainwashed by Beyonce, but he can actually make a difference at the school for fellow outcasts like them.

So it looks like the thinking students of McKinley will be faced with a similar dilemma that Democrats were in 2008: to vote for the marginalised  candidate (coloured Obama/gay Kurt), or the female candidate, who also belongs to a marginalised group…

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

Glee Back in Full Force.

Image via VideoBB.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Attack of the cupcakes!:

“… Badassery and toughness aren’t mutually exclusive with cupcakes. A woman can go home from her power-suit-wearing corporate job and unwind in front of Cute Overload. A ‘supermom’ can enjoy a vintage cocktail—and even wear a vintage apron, if she wants to—without becoming squishy and ineffective…” [Feministe, HuffPo]

Gloria Steinem’s not the feminist hero we think she is, according to Suzanne Venker. [National Review Online]

The Catholic Church respects women more than feminism? Laughable. [National Catholic Register]

Erica Bartle writes on the perils of being a Christian in a sometimes-misunderstanding world. I don’t think what she’s experiencing is a uniquely “Christian” thing. (More on that next week.) I abhor organised religion, but I still feel “hyper-sensitive”, as she puts it, to the small-minded bigots around me. I think it comes down to what kind of person you are, regardless of religion and faith, which aren’t mutually exclusive.

I think you can still keep your “awesomeness”, “pride” and “talents” and fight like Mike Tyson (minus the ear-biting and sexual assault). Those are the things that make us good people, in my opinion. [Girl with a Satchel]

Gala Darling on how “to be the person in the photo, instead of the person looking at it.”

The Help from a porcupine and bumblebee’s point of view. You’ll get it from mine next week. [Jezebel]

In the wake of recent assertions that Hillary Clinton might have made a better president than Barack Obama, I came across this 2008 article pitting the “Madonna” against the “whore”; “the hard-ass” against “the lightweight”; “the battle-ax” against “the bubblehead”; “the serious, pursed-lipped shrew” against “the silly, ineffectual girl”; “the bitch” against  “the ditz”, and why the Clinton/Sarah Palin debate was a futile one. [New York Magazine, The New York Times]

It’s all about the discontent of young Asian women, and how they want to look more Western. [Gender Across Borders, Sydney Morning Herald, SBS Insight]

To the inconsiderate douches who use the word “rape” as a joke. Brilliant. [Lipstick Feminists]

“The Deficient Single Woman.” [Zero at the Bone]

Discrepancies in the way college men and women dress are lauded as anti-feminist by Lisa Belkin, while Amanda Marcotte contends the sight of a woman dancing in her underwear on Halloween doesn’t mean she’s a) not a feminist, b) going to insight yearnings of violent assault in all men who lay eyes on her, and c) dumb:

“Men are perfectly capable of being turned on by a woman dancing in her underwear while never forgetting that said woman has a family that loves her, a mind of her own, and ambitions that are equal to his.  We don’t allow men’s sexuality to dehumanise them in our eyes.  If a young man spends his weekends partying and flirting with women, and spends his time in the classroom pulling down As, we don’t see that as a contradiction. The belief that female sexual expression is uniquely dehumanising is a double standard, no matter how much you dress it up in feminist language.” [The New York Times, Slate]

Somewhat in response to Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman (I’m eagerly awaiting my copy in the mail), Jason Sperber tells us “How to Be a Man”. [The Good Men Project]

Baby Beyonce is inciting debate about motherhood, race, and “doing it the right way”. [Jezebel]

Gay marriage is a human rights violation of children to be brought up by a female mother and a male father. Hmm… [The Australian]

“Professor Feminism” and the “Chronicles of Mansplaining”:

“I’m pretty confident that Professor Feminism is not Professor Understands Sarcasm, either, so I’ll spell it out: The point of listening to women and feminists is to listen to women and feminists. Because if you listen to them, you might start to understand certain basic points, such as: Women do not automatically have to accept you as an expert, particularly not when the subject under discussion (sexism!) is something you’ve never experienced first-hand. Women do not have to make you ‘comfortable’ and ‘welcome’ in every single conversation. Women do not automatically have to grant you a space in their discussions, on their blogs, or in their lives. Women do not have to permit you to enter their political movements, their self-created spaces, their personal space, their bodies, or anything else that belongs to them; you, as a man, are not entitled to women’s attention, praise, affection, respect, or company, just because you want it. And when a woman says ‘no,’ you respect that this particular woman said ‘no,’ and you stop. You don’t make excuses, you don’t explain why you should be able to get what you want, you don’t throw a tantrum, you don’t call that woman names: You just stop what you are doing. Because she said ‘no.’” [Tiger Beatdown]

See here for another example.

What Adele… and Lil Wayne… can teach us about love. [This Single Life]

“I Thought Success Meant Wearing a Suit.” So did I. I used to fantasise about working on Southbank, wearing suits (I had a penchant for an imaginary hot pink one!) and carrying my files in a suitcase-on-wheels. My how the tables have turned. In my day job, I wear a uniform that I try to spice up every now and then with biker boots and studded flats, and for my unpaid blogging duties, it’s usually trackies or pyjamas. This morning it’s raining, so I’ve invested in some extra insulation with my dressing gown. What do you were that indicates “success”. (In no way am I equating my mundane daily grind with success. I loath my paid job. Just doing it to pay the bills.) [MamaMia]

The facts and fictions of television’s crime dramas. [Jezebel]

Apparently, “Confronting Men About Sexism Makes Them Nicer,” and from my experience, I believe it. [Jezebel]

Sarah Wilson contemplates stopping for optimism. What am I optimistic about when I have to stop? The last two bouts of gastro I had I used to lie in bed and catch up on box sets between running to the bathroom. I don’t have an excuse for doing this every other day!

Images via YouTube, Jezebel, BuzzFeed. Bump Shack.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Is pop music turning into porn? [MamaMia]

Sex, lies, and DSK. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Is Lady Gaga “a feminist icon, or just a slightly offbeat sex object?”:

“In some ways, Gaga’s entire persona seems to question what’s expected of women. It’s there in the internal contradiction of her name: ‘Lady’ with its suggestions of gentility, sweetness, high breeding; ‘Gaga’ with its intimations of infantility, madness, antic spirit. She has often been compared with a drag queen and, in many ways, this seems apt. Part of the brilliance and beauty of drag, of course, is that it can potentially expose sex roles—most often femininity—as a performance. A drag queen in enormous false eyelashes, teetering heels, a tight dress, heavy makeup, a voluminous wig, talon-like nails, is mimicking a woman, while underlining that what’s expected of women is in no way natural. With her increasingly bizarre getups, Gaga does the same.” [Queerty]

In defence of young adult fiction. [Girls Are Made From Pepsi]

The underlying lesbianism in the BFF relationship. [Girls Are Made From Pepsi]

One night with Quentin Tarantino. Fascinating, if not 100% verified. [Gawker]

Would you ever go through with labiaplasty? [MamaMia]

Michele Bachmann: “the candidate Sarah Palin was supposed to be.” Scary! [Rolling Stone]

16 & Pregnant as public service announcement. [Slate]

In celebration of gay marriage being approved in New York, check this little ditty out above. [Dear Blank Please Blank]

Images via Loopy Comments, Girls Are Made from Pepsi, Dear Blank Please Blank.