On the (Rest of the) Net.

Charmed kitchen spells

I wrote about the power of work/life balance in Charmed. [Bitch Flicks]

Yet another piece in defence of Sex & the City. [Daily Life]

What happens when feminism becomes trendy. [Jezebel]

The unsexy reality of centrefolds: behind the scenes of Playboy (NSFW). [Beautiful Decay]

Elite feminism. [The Nation]

On-screen abortion is portrayed as more dangerous than it actually is. [Bitch]

“Interview with a Pregnant Porn Star.” (SFW) [The Hairpin]

Image via Bitch Flicks.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

tavi gevinson bitchface

Tavi Gevinson is a Bitch (well, she was interviewed by them).

Another round of pro- vs. anti-Sex & the City musings. [Elle]

Dating in a push up bra (NSFW). [The Lingerie Lesbian]

American Horror Story: Coven‘s race problem. [Feministing]

Navigating victimhood in statutory rape. [Double X]

In case you forgot, R. Kelly is a sexual predator. [xoJane]

The years’ most unlikely famous feminists. [Feminist Times]

Image via Rookie.

The Problem with Sex & the City 2.

sex and the city 2 carrie book review

I’ve been thinking and wanting to write about Sex & the City 2 for quite some time, but I was never sure of the right angle to take. Having just rewatched the whole series, culminating in the arguably ill-fated films, I think I’m ready to dip my toe in the shark-infested waters that surround Sex & the City 2.

SATC2 picks up where the first film left off: the franchise’s ascent into affluence but its decent of integrity. And where better to splash some new money than the “new” Middle East: Abu Dhabi.

I stand by the series and even the first movie, but Carrie and the girls are pressing my loyalty with their Arabian adventure. Samantha throwing condoms around the souk in an effort to assert her empowerment (a sentiment I don’t disagree with, but can we please respect multiculturalism?) followed by some covered Muslim women revealing their gaudy designer garb under their abayas and hijabs because FASHUN = the end of gender inequality could certainly have been omitted from the second cinematic outing and it still would have been a semi-palatable film. While these antics blatantly show how out of touch SATC has become, the girls’ ignorance is echoed throughout the film when Charlotte gets sucked into having “the Forbidden Experience” (purchasing black market designer wares) and questions what the call to prayer means. You’d think that before jetting off to the land of “desert moons, Scheherazade and magic carpets” women who are as free as they are would be a little more in touch with the culture and what’s expected of them there. Smart Traveller, hello?!

What I do like about the Middle Eastern flair of the film, though, is the thematic parallels between women wearing veils to silence their voices and the question of whether Carrie, after five books and countless “I couldn’t help but wonder”’s (literally; I lost count after about ten when I rewatched the series. Repetition, much?!), should shut up.

This seems to be the consensus, as New York magazine’s review of her latest book, I Do! Do I?, is titled “The Vow of Silence”. And in the accompanying illustration, Carrie is drawn with tape across her mouth, to echo the silencing of their Middle Eastern counterparts: “It’s like they don’t want them to have a voice,” Carrie observes. Synergy!

The concept of women’s voices is echoed elsewhere in the films’ storylines, with Miranda quitting her job because her misogynist boss didn’t respect her “strong female voice”, and Charlotte blaming Samantha for “open[ing] her big mouth” about her hot, braless nanny being a distraction for Harry.

Looking back on enlightenment of the series, it makes me sad that the insight into women’s lives, sex and otherwise, that it was so famous for has been completely erased from Sex & the City 2 in the name of capitalism and cultural insensitivity.

Related: In Defence of Sex & the City.

In Defence of Sex & the City.

carrie-and-the-girls-baseball

Earlier this year there was somewhat of a resurgence of appreciation for the art of SexSex & the City, that is.

In the wake of the death of Sopranos star James Gandolfini and the culmination of decade-defining Breaking Bad, the apparent age of the anti-hero is upon us. The Sopranos was no doubt a watershed moment for cable network HBO, but what about another HBO show that aired six months prior and also elucidated a generation: Sex & the City?

TV critic Emily Nussbaum was thinking along the same lines when she wrote her own defence of the series earlier this year for The New Yorker. A sample:

“But Sex and the City, too, was once one of HBO’s flagship shows. It was the peer of The Sopranos, albeit in a different tone and in a different milieu, deconstructing a different genre. Mob shows, cop shows, cowboy shows—those are formulas with gravitas. Sex and the City, in contrast, was pigeonholed as a sitcom. In fact, it was a bold riff on the romantic comedy: the show wrestled with the limits of that pink-tinted genre for almost its entire run. In the end, it gave in. Yet until that last-minute stumble it was sharp, iconoclastic television. High-feminine instead of fetishistically masculine, glittery rather than gritty, and daring in its conception of character, Sex and the City was a brilliant and, in certain ways, radical show. It also originated the unacknowledged first female anti-hero on television: ladies and gentlemen, Carrie Bradshaw.”

Carrie Bradshaw—like the anti-heroine Hannah in the apparent anti-SATC of this generation, Lena Dunham’s Girls—is not someone to look up to. She’s mind-numbingly selfish (“This can’t be the day I was broken up with by a Post-It!” No, Carrie, it was the day your friend Charlotte got engaged. But, by Charlotte’s own admission, it would be her second marriage so it’s not that important, right?); lives in a rent-controlled pre-war brownstone on the “gated island for the wealthy”, as Nussbaum puts it, apparently paid for by a $400-a-week-if-she’s-lucky-freelance-gig; and cheated on Aidan with Big. (In the ill-fated second movie, Carrie then cheats on Big with Aidan.)

While Carrie may not be a wholly identifiable character, the friendships she shares with Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte certainly are. Carrie is obviously everyone’s best friend who is asked to be maid of honour at their weddings and pick them up from the hospital when they’re sick, but the dynamics between the other women are interesting. Samantha and Charlotte can certainly clash over their differing ideologies on sex and relationships—the season three episode, “Frenemies”, perfectly illustrated the virgin-whore dichotomy between the two, but I love the maternal side Samantha shows around Charlotte, supporting her in “The Baby Shower” when she discovers the mum-to-be stole her future daughter’s name. I most strongly identify with Miranda, who often clashes with Carrie due to her whimsical attitude about things like money and men. For example, when Carrie reveals she’s going to lunch with Big after countless heartbreak in the season three finale, Miranda becomes exasperated at Carrie’s masochism and storms out of a vintage store they were shopping at. On the other side of the coin, Carrie disapproves of Miranda unquestioningly cutting ties with Steve for cheating on her in the original movie.

And let’s not forget the ground SATC broke in terms of women and talking about sex and TV. Looking back on it now, some of the attitudes the girls share about gender (Samantha’s treatment of the transgendered sex workers outside her apartment), sexuality (Miranda comments that bisexuality isn’t a valid orientation because the women end up with men and the men end up with men) and sex work (when everyone finds out Stanford’s boyfriend, Marcus, was a sex worker); but, at that time, can you recall many other shows that were so open and frank about sex and how women feel about it?

So while the show might be called Sex & the City—and let’s be clear, there’s a hell of a lot of it!—it’s very much about women and friendships in New York City.

Elsewhere: [The New Yorker] Difficult Women.

Image via Musings of the Girl Who Was Death.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

carrie bradshaw writing

Was Sex & the City all in Carrie’s head? [Salon]

Follow the parody Twitter account, Sex & the City 3, by the same author. (While you’re at it, follow me, and stay tuned for some more SATC musings.)

Playboy: thanks for the memories (SFW). [Daily Life]

Bleak, but inspiring: “Freelancing & the Mythical Work/Life Balance.” [This Ain't Livin']

Why do they hate us? Christos Tsiolkas on Australia’s asylum seeker problem. [The Monthly]

Femen from the perspective of its activists (NSWF). [Vice]

I reviewed Domestic Warfare at Gasworks Arts Park as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival for TheatrePress.

Image via I’m Charming You.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Does having a feminist as a running mate during the election campaign make Julian Assange more palatable to voters concerned with the rape allegations against him? [Online Opinion]

A really thought-provoking piece about the evolution of cooking. Meal preparation is the bane of my existence; I’d rather clean than cook. I find it so boring and time-consuming that if I was to come into a large chunk of money, I would seriously consider hiring a personal chef. Recently, I even privately mused about just ordering takeaway every night, but that isn’t necessarily in line with my ethical philosophies, not to mention health. [Daily Life]

Hugo Schwyzer has quit feminism. While a lot of feminists will be rejoicing at this fact, I actually like Hugo and will be sad to see his brand of male feminism disappear from the feminist interwebs. At least for now… [The Cut]

Twitter misogynists are finally getting their comeuppance. [Daily Life]

Camilla Peffer writes about the inherent sexism of Australia’s Next Top Model. [TheVine]

An interesting response to “I want to date you because you’re awesome”: “I want you to date me because I’m awesome”. [Pandagon]

“The Rape Joke”: a poem about being raped. *trigger warning* [The Awl]

The difference between the Melbourne murders of Jill Meagher and Tracy Connelly? Meagher was “the perfect victim” worthy of mourning while Connelly was just a prostitute. [The King's Tribune]

But Wendy Squires posits that Meagher and Connelly were more similar than we think: they were both victims of predators who want to hurt women, regardless of their occupation. [The Age]

And it turns out the anonymous sex worker in Squires’ piece, above, was Tracy Connelly. [MamaMia]

Sex & the City‘s Samantha vs. Cougartown. [New York Magazine] 

On the (Rest of the) Net.

mary-kate & ashley new york minute

Is there such a thing as a bad Olsen twin movie? [Rookie]

Chris Brown, R. Kelly, Surfer Blood… What are we willing to overlook in order to enjoy pop culture? [Grantland]

How many times will you see your parents before they die? [See Your Folks]

“Bindi Irwin: Feminist Warrior?” [MamaMia] 

In defence of Sex & the City. [The New Yorker]

And, furthermore, in defence of Miranda Hobbes. [Women & Hollywood]

Why women in sport matter. [Lip Mag]

How to ask about someone’s ethnicity the right way. [Jezebel]

Image via Ask Your Feet.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

From the trailer, I never would have guessed Tyler Perry’s Temptation was a veritable hotbed of sex (and STIs), race and gender politics in the worst way. This article comes with a massive spoiler alert, but it made me want to see the movie so much more, if only to be completely horrified by it. [Jezebel]

Pro-cunnilingus lyrics in rap music. Fascinating! [The Pantograph Punch]

Beyonce finally admits she’s a feminist… she guesses. [Jezebel]

Fat-shaming on Australian TV. [TheVine]

Clementine Ford on “Reverse Damselling”, in which women seek to tame bad boys. [Daily Life] 

From one extreme to the other: a few weeks ago outrage erupted over a mother’s declaration that Victoria’s Secret was “a right of passage” for her young daughter. Now, the pendulum has swung in the other direction, and anti-child sexualisation activists have come out against VS’s Pink! line in what could be deemed as a bit of an overreaction. [Jezebel] 

Does Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson prove we’re living in a post-racial society, at least when it comes to his film roles? [Shadow & Act] 

The best way to get a shot of positive body image is to get yourself to the beach and take a look around at all the normal people. [MamaMia] 

The psychology of the original Carrie Bradshaw, Candace Bushnell, Sex & the City and The Carrie Diaries. [Daily Beast]

A substantive breakdown of exactly what feminism is and how it doesn’t mean man-hating. Well worth a read. [Jezebel] 

TV: The Carrie Diaries — Vagina Monologues.

carrie diaries read before use vagina

The Carrie Diaries, Fox8’s new series based on Candace Bushnell’s Sex & the City prequel publication of the same name, was not a show I had high hopes for. Maybe that’s why I like it so much!

It’s successfully carved out a niche for itself that’s very separate from the HBO series that made Carrie Bradshaw famous, and even though it’s set in the ’80s, it’s so relatable it could be unfolding in the present day. Unlike Rock of Ages, for example, which was so distracting in its bid to recreate the ’80s, The Carrie Diaries just gets the fashion, hair and music so right.

Not only that, but last night’s episode, “Read Before Use”, really tapped into the essence of Carrie and Sex.

Carrie and Mouse attend an art exhibition in the city with Larissa in which former porn star Monica Penny displays her vagina for a penny in what Larissa calls a reclamation of her power. When it’s Carrie’s turn to place a penny in the jar and view her vagina, Monica takes a liking to the young ingénue and tells her never to let a man make decisions for her and to own her power. This, of course, means Carrie should take to Monica’s throne and show her own vagina.

Being underage but still faking it masterfully, Carrie declines, which leads Larissa to tell her that she’s not the girl she thought she was. Larissa thought Carrie would one day be on a billboard or “on the side of a bus”, in a throwback (forward?) to SATC and Carrie’s column promo. Carrie, exhibiting shades of feminism, tells Larissa it’s her choice not to show her vagina, and asks if that isn’t a form of power, too?

For a show that’s aimed primarily at the high school set, you have to applaud it for using the word vagina more than many other cable television shows. In using “vagina” so unashamedly and weaving the politics of choice and power into the fabric of the episode so seamlessly, “Read Before Use” was like feminism in training for the show’s young viewers. Let’s hope they keep it up.

Image via YouTube.

Movie Review: I Went to See American Reunion & I Didn’t Hate It…*

The American Pie franchise is not my idea of a good movie quartet (not including the spin offs that didn’t feature the original cast. American Pie: Band Camp, anyone?). The only real reason I went to see American Reunion last night was because I thought it would make for good blog fodder. On that front, I was sorely disappointed. It was not the outrageously sexist toilet-humour fest I thought it would be.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there were still plenty of shit, penis and “vag” jokes, but compared to last week’s cinema outing, American Pie ain’t got nothin’ on Mirror Mirror’s underhanded sexism.

A couple of gripes I did have about the movie’s portrayal of women were the utter debasement of the actress—who played Jim’s ex-babysitting client, Cara—Ali Cobrin, and the fact that Loni Lipstien, purveyor of Stifler’s high school blowjob heaven, is now a “fatty”, unworthy of sucking Steve’s dick.

Gratuitous nudity is an American Pie staple, but an unknown actress whose character, conveniently, just turned 18 getting drunk out of her mind, stripping, and passing out, leaving Jim to lug her unconscious, topless body out of the teen’s car, through her garden and into her bed was just too much.

On the other hand, there’s the gorgeous Loni who, thirteen years later, got fat (played by the beautiful actress Rebecca Field) and demanded Stifler get her off in a secluded bathroom of his house before she went anywhere near his penis. After she comes and, to paraphrase Sex & the City’s Miranda, ends up all over Stifler’s face (including, distastefully and unrealistically, her pubic hairs), she rejects him like he has done many a time to many a woman.

I liked the way Stifler was portrayed as a thirty-something man-child in a temp job who still lives at home with his mum, as opposed to the brash professional kingpin of some entrepreneurial venture who specialises in sexual harassment (although that last part is still true) that I envisioned him to be going into the movie. It just goes to show that nice guys don’t always finish last. Sometimes the douchebags do, too.

Speaking of douchebags, I’ve never been a fan of Chris Klein. I always thought he was too perfect-looking, with his perfect hair, perfect suits, perfect-sounding voice, and perfect, identical-looking girlfriends (Katie Holmes and Ginnifer Goodwin). And that sickly sweet way he half-whispered, “… like warm apple pie,” creeped me out to no end. However, I loved him in this! Klein, and by extension, Oz, got hot! New favourite American Pie character: Chris Ostreicher (in a world where “favourite” means having your arm twisted behind your back until you have to make a choice).

While American Reunion won’t be winning any awards (do the Razzie’s count?), at least I can say I gave it a chance and I didn’t get burned.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

 

 

 

Related: Mirror Mirror Review.

Image via IMDb.