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.

rh reality check not like other girls feminism

Saying “I’m not like other girls” just buys into the myth that all women have a defined set of attributes and that those who aren’t “feminine”, “girly”, “bitchy” and don’t have many female friends (just to list some of the tropes associated with “other girls”) are somehow better than other women. I’ve been guilty of uttering those words before, but that was before I came to the above understanding. I believe I’m different from other girls, just as I’m different from other humans. We all have different character traits, values and interests; it’s just that some we can relate to more and are closer to the surface than others. [RH Reality Check]

In defence of sex work. [Daily Life]

Further to that, Mia Freedman clarifies her position on sex workers voiced on Q&A last month. [MamaMia]

“Why Would Anyone Have a Late-Term Abortion?” [New Matilda] 

Ahead of its publication in new (and, might I add, awesome!) zine, Filmme Fatales, editor Brodie Lancaster writes in opposition to the Gwyneth Paltrow haters. [TheVine] 

More Gwyneth: she was my thinspo. Beauty and putting women on pedestals. [Mirror, Mirror OFF the Wall]

On the merits and drawbacks of “Hashtag Feminism”, “destroying the joint”, the news sources “to whom [we] choose to listen” and the “personalised newspaper” that is social media, through which we “see only views [we] agree with”. [The Monthly]

Jennifer Aniston, ourselves. [Thought Catalog]

Is Amanda Bynes that different from us? [Clam Bistro]

Are we too old to “get” Girls?  [One Good Thing] 

Why talking about sexism in pop culture is important. [The Age]

How can disabled women “Destroy the Joint” when they can’t even access it? Stella Young on feminism and disability. [ABC Ramp Up] 

Image via RH Reality Check.

On the (Rest of the) Net: Catch-Up Edition.

 

Raising awareness about breast checks, one superheroine at a time. [io9]

Ladies of the year: Taylor Swift VS. Lady Gaga. Who do you choose? [Girl with a Satchel]

Why women fear the “n” word in relationships: “needy”. [Jezebel]

“The Turned-On Woman’s Manifesto.” Amen! [Turned-On Woman’s Movement]

How to talk to women, for men. [MamaMia]

Gah! Anti-vaccination extremists. Why are people like this allowed to promote views like that? Oh right, that pesky little thing called “freedom of speech”… [MamaMia]

Are you a woman and do you love your body, damned what conventional norms say you should be feeling about it in an effort to appease other women? Then sing it, sister! [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Wow. Mia Freedman offers some throwaway fashion advice to her 5-year-old daughter; shitstorm ensues. I think it’s a bit of an overreaction, but each to their own. [MamaMia, Fat Heffalump]

Male body objectification: in comparison to female body objectification, is it even a thing worth worrying about? [Lip Magazine]

Atheism = nihilism? [New York Times]

The latest trend in protesting: the Muff March. [MamaMia]

While we’re on the topic, is pubic hair making a comeback? NSFW [Jezebel]

Stop that booze-related victim-blaming. [Jezebel, via Feministe]

Who has late-term abortions? [Jezebel]

Hmm, Lego for girls? I’m not such a fan. What was wrong with the original, male-centric version, apart from the absence of female characters? We all know kids are imaginative enough to make toys whatever they want them to be. [MamaMia]

On beauty, failure and “this is the best I can do”. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

The pros and cons of anal sex. [Jezebel]

Are princesses really that bad, Naomi Wolf asks. [New York Times]

The Good Men Project for boys. [Jezebel]

It’s been just over a year since the St. Kilda Schoolgirl released those photos, and I’ve only just gotten around to reading this article by Anna Krien from The Monthly’s April 2011 issue on sex and the treatment of women in the AFL. Let me say, it was well worth the wait.

Even if you’re not espousing misogynist bile to women (on the internet or IRL), not standing up to it is just as bad, says Mark Sorrell. [Beware of the Sorrell]

Alyx Gorman defends Miranda Kerr, asserting that there probably is more than meets the eye, but she just “won’t let us see it”:

“Even more problematic than its existence in the first place is the fact that Kerr’s construct is damaging to women and girls. By looking and speaking the way she does (when she has other options in terms of presentation), Kerr is intrinsically linking sensuality with stupidity. She is demonstrating that being ditzy and appearance-obsessed (albeit under the guise of being healthy) is what it takes to be one of the most desirable women in the world. By refusing to express a well reasoned opinion on anything of note, and then pushing the point of self esteem, she is sending a message that the source of girl-power, of pride in one’s womanhood, must always be grounded not in who you are, but how you look. Kerr has crafted an image that is the ultimate expression of the immanence de Beauvoir railed against, and she has done so (I suspect) knowingly.

“Instead of being brave enough to show what a beautiful, clever girl looks like, to delve into the nuances of what it means to be a wife, woman, mother and object of desire, Kerr plays to our worst stereotypes of femininity, giving an organic-almond-milk 21st century update to the image of the perfect  50s housewife.” [The Vine]

The Breaking Dawn Bechdel test. [Lip Magazine]

What’s the difference between a rapist and a men’s mag? Hmm, you tell me. [Jezebel]

On being a recluse. [MamaMia]

The allure of the May-December romance… for the December, not so much the May. [The Good Men Project]

Image via io9.

In Defence of Porn.

“Porn Wars” covered The Monthly in September. Melinda Tankard Reist and Abigail Bray just released Big Porn Inc., a compilation of anti-porn essays. Serendipitously, when I decided I would write this article over the weekend, controversial sex writer Bettina Arndt wrote about the porn debacle in The Sunday Age.

She said:

“The suggestion that porn changes men’s attitudes to sex is really questionable. While there’s a body of psychology research suggesting exposure to porn has that effect, Professor Catherine Lumby and colleagues in The Porn Report, published in 2008, found this laboratory-based research to be contradictory and unlikely to reflect real-life situations. ‘The entire tradition of social science research into pornography has started with the assumption that porn is a major cause of negative attitudes towards women and has set out to prove this,’ conclude these Australian academics.”

She goes on to write:

“… Arguably porn has nothing to do with the insensitivity causing men to behave in that way [with negative perceptions of women and sex], which stems from their cultural and social backgrounds.”

When society encourages the viewpoint of women as second-class citizens there for the appropriation of men’s desires and the male gaze, which—granted—porn does replicate in a lot of instances, I just don’t get what the big deal is surrounding it. While Tankard Reist and others go on about the “pornification of society”, shouldn’t we be looking at the society which spawned porn, not the other way around? Shouldn’t we be looking to, as Arndt suggests, porn consumers’ (of both sexes) backgrounds to determine their use and the effects of the medium?

Caitlin Moran says in her memoir, How to Be a Woman (which, keen-eyed readers, has been referenced here a hell of a lot in the past week or so!), that “the idea that pornography is intrinsically exploitative and sexist is bizarre; pornography is just ‘some fucking’, after all. The act of having sex isn’t sexist, so there’s no way pornography can be, in itself, inherently misogynist.”

She raises an interesting, left-of-centre notion that is not often discussed in (extremist?) feminist critique: if consensual sex isn’t sexist, how is consensual sex—that just happens to be filmed—in porn sexist?

I will argue that there are plenty of representations—in fact, most—in porn that are sexist. The lack of female orgasms, or the ejaculation of the male partner(s) into the face of his female partner(s), which seems to be how so many porn videos “finish” these days, come to mind. But, as Fine writes in The Monthly, “is degradation in the eye of the beholder, or is it just in the eye?”

As “facials” are really the only problem I have with heterosexual, seemingly consensual, two-(sometimes-three-)partner porn, I’d have to agree that “degradation is in the eye of the beholder.” In that case, you don’t have to watch it.

Not only that, but porn might be seen to have some positive effects.

Firstly, as have always argued, the existence of fetish porn is an outlet for those with said fetishes, who might otherwise have gone elsewhere to have their sexual desires fulfilled.

“… Some researchers suggest exposure to pornography might make some people less likely to commit sexual crimes,” writes Melinda Wenner Moyer in The Scientific American.

So long as we can educate young people—with an emphasis on young boys—about consent, the fantasy that porn survives and thrives on and expression of your own sexuality, whether it conforms to sexual stereotypes or no, porn is not harmful, in my opinion.

As a recent article on MamaMia opined: “We need better porn.” If we have access to porn in which everybody gets off, which is a major flaw in the current porn industry, what’s the problem?

As is a major focus of Arndt’s article, as well as The Sunny Side of Smut, men prefer to view women engaging in “enthusiastic consent” to sex, as opposed to the oft-mentioned concern that porn “incite[s] violence against women.” According to Wenner Moyer, the opposite is true, in fact:

“Perhaps the most serious accusation against pornography is that it incites sexual aggression. But not only do rape statistics suggest otherwise, some experts believe the consumption of pornography may actually reduce the desire to rape by offering a safe, private outlet for deviant sexual desires.”

In countries such as Japan, China and Denmark, and in certain states in America, which have increased access to online porn, rape statistics have receded significantly.

It’s not just porn that is changing attitudes (or our changing attitudes to porn) to sex, but prostitution, also.

In a Newsweek article a few months ago, Leslie Bennetts, profiled the idea of making soliciting prostitution illegal, instead of charging the women involved in prostitution. In countries that have started to bring in this legislation, such as Sweden, South Korea, Norway, Iceland, Israel and Mexico, sex trafficking has been “dramatically reduced”, whereas in countries where prostitution is legal, such as Australia, trafficking in other kinds of sex trade has increased. Are we cutting off our nose to spite our face?

There has been a lot of debate over the sex trade in Australia. I don’t pretend to know what I’m talking about when it comes to prostitution (for a more comprehensive look at this, see Feminaust), but I do know that it is still very much a grey area. Much greyer than porn, in my opinion. (Voice yours in the comments.)

And, back with porn, I do think it’s about education, in essence. Just as we educate young people about safe sex, we should be educating them about safe porn use, too. That the smorgasbord of sexual entrees (oral sex), main courses (vaginal intercourse) and just desserts (anal sex) on offer in porn can not always be expected of real life sexual relationships, and certainly not on the first date! (In porn, a first date amounts to come breast fondling and perhaps, in “feature” porn, a pizza delivery or plumbing [pardon the pun] fixed.)

Not to lessen the effect that porn can have on some users (again, harkening back to Arndt’s “cultural and social backgrounds” argument), but studies have shown that how a man responds to a woman in a porn clip is not how he’ll respond to her in a real-life sexual encounter. If anything, introducing porn into a sexual relationship can be the spice of life:

“… Variety in sexual experiences contributes to men’s sexual satisfaction—and other works support [Alan] McKee’s suggestion that pornography can help that along. But [Aleksandar] Stulhofer also found that intimacy is at least as, and probably more, important for sexual satisfaction and—contrary to stereotype—as much so for young men as women.” [The Monthly]

As is my understanding, if a porn consumer lets what they see on the computer screen (who uses DVDs these days? Although, I did hear a funny story from a friend about a porn DVD getting stuck in a DVD player. When I suggested throwing out the DVD player, the friend said it was part of the television. And that the DVD was borrowed from their partner’s Dad. A comedy of porn errors.) dictate their perception of sexual relationships, they’re probably not capable of real intimacy anyway.

So, what do you think? Is porn the hotbed of debauchery it’s made out to be? Or, like Moran suggests, is it “just some fucking”?

Related: How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran Review.

Elsewhere: [Melinda Tankard Reist] Big Porn Inc.: Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industry.

[The Monthly] The Porn Ultimatum.

[Sydney Morning Herald] Porn is Not a Dirty Word.

[The Scientific American] The Sunny Side of Smut.

[MamaMia] Why We Need Better Porn.

[Newsweek] The Growing Demand for Prostitution.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

While I don’t agree with most of the Prime Minster’s actions, this cake of Julia Gillard getting attacked by a crocodile is a bit much. Northern Territory Senator Nigel Scullion didn’t seem to think so, and neither did the voters who crowned him the winner of a local cake baking competition! Scullion could be investigated for insinuating violence against Gillard. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Six steps to come across smarter. [MamaMia]

The best is yet to come, despite some peoples’ seemingly dreary destinies? [Girl with a Satchel]

Read the full version of this article on Kate Ellis being too sexy, which I wrote about in my Sunday Life review last week. [MamaMia]

Amy Winehouse’s death was treated like a spectacle by the media. [The Guardian]

Naww, the languages of love. [MamaMia]

Rachel Hills has some nice things to say about my nice things to say about her Sunday Life column last weekend. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Following on from her post on Musings last week, Hills writes for the Sydney Morning Herald on the assertion that young people are no longer interested in sex.

 

How your Tweets can betray your gender. [Fast Company]

“Clare’s Law: Should Abuse History be Revealed to New Partners?” Hell to the yeah! [Sydney Morning Herald]

There’s no such thing as “having it all”. [We Mixed Our Drinks]

On the (potential) end of Law & Order: SVU:

“I can’t imagine life after SVU. Mariska Hargitay is taking it much better than me:

“‘For the past 12 years Chris Meloni has been my partner and friend, both on screen and off. He inspired me every day with his integrity, his extraordinary talent and his commitment to the truth. I love him deeply and will miss him terribly—I’m so excited to see what he’ll do next.’

“Speak for yourself, Benson. Unless what he is doing is going back to taking his clothes off on HBO, I’m finding it difficult to muster up enthusiasm for my favourite detective being anything other than that. If anyone needs me, I’ll be crying in bed watching the entire first season on Netflix.” [The Hairpin]

In praise of Joan Holloway. [Pamflet]

Mia Freedman debriefs on the Cadel-Evans-sportspeople-aren’t-heroes hullabaloo from last week. More on this to come next week on The Scarlett Woman. [MamaMia]

Emily Maguire on society’s obsession with female virginity, from April last year. [The Monthly]

The Sweetest Thing, Bridesmaids, Bad Teacher & the Female Raunch Comedy”:

“Comedic movie actresses have to be allowed to not be hot. Not like, high-heel-stuck-in-a sewer-grate, frizzy-flyaway-hair, Anne Hathaway-in-nerd-glasses not-hot. I mean genuinely not-hot. Full-attack mode physical-comedy not-hot. John Belushi not-hot. Not-pretty enough to be actually funny, because vanity contraindicates comedy. And this was the most revolutionary aspect of Bridesmaids; the pratfalls are actually pratfalls, the dick jokes are legitimately obscene.” [Grantland]

Women who don’t wear makeup are “arrogant, lazy or deluded, and frequently all three.” That counts me out, then! [The Daily Mail]

Three years on from Vogue Italia’s “all-black” issue, has the racial landscape of the modeling industry changed? You tell me… [Jezebel]

Tiger wife Wendi Deng-Murdoch’s defensive right hook, which came to the aid of her almost foam pie-faced husband, Rupert, has renewed “belief in love”. [Newsweek]

“In Defence of Imperfection.” [Persephone Magazine]

“30 Years of Women on MTV.” [Jezebel]

Images via MamaMia, Fast Company, Jezebel.

Books: Stacked.

The other day a friend asked me how I “prioritise my stack” of books, and I thought it might make an interesting blog post, if only so I can navel-gaze at the books, magazines and articles piling up on my bedside table and bookshelf as opposed to offering any valuable insight into how I get through them.

’Cause the answer is, there is no system to getting through them. If anything, more books, magazines and articles are added to the piles than what is taken away from them and filed neatly in the bookshelf or recycling bin.

My friends often tease me ’cause it usually takes me several months to get through a book. The book I’m currently on, My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampike by Joyce Carol Oates, I started over two months ago! I try to put away a few chapters each night, but this is in addition to the probably 500 other pages of content I read per week. Blogs, magazines, articles. If you ask me, that’s a pretty good effort. I wonder how many of the haters get through a 500 page book per week :P.

My love of taking in anything and everything in the feminist blogosphere is both a blessing and a curse. I love that there’s always new content and I’m always being informed, but at the same time, it would be so easy to just curl up in bed with a good book and turn my brain off for a few hours. Then again, if I really wanted to turn my brain off, I’d carve out a nook in the couch and flick through channels all night. And who has time for that?

Currently in my book stack, I have three books that were gifts from my birthday last year, and winning a worst dressed contest (Fables comic book, The Big Book of Small Business and Self-Publishing for Dummies); three that are borrowed (Walt Disney’s biography by Neal Gabler, Russell Brand’s second memoir and Kristin Chenoweth’s autobiography); two I bought from Amazon in January (Marilyn Monroe’s Fragments and Sloane Crosley’s second book of essays, How Did You Get This Number?); and the rest (The Night Listener and Maybe the Moon by Armistead Maupin, Brock Lesnar’s Death Clutch, Less Than Zero and Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis, Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile) I’ve bought in recent months, mostly secondhand.

And the magazines and article stack, which is a complete eyesore on my bedside table, consists of several Vanity Fair’s, some Monthly’s and… to be honest, I don’t actually know what’s in there! When I go on holidays next week, I aim to get through that stack, and it will be a veritable treasure trove! Like Christmas morning!

Seeing as I can offer absolutely no substance to “how do I prioritise my stack”, I’m handing it over to you. Does anyone have any tried and true methods? Here’s one, at the suggestion of my friend Clare: stop buying books til I’ve finished the ones I already have. But they’re too good!

 

Kate Middleton is Nothing But an Accessory.

 

From “Falling Stars: The Plight of the Windsors” by Peter Conrad in The Monthly, February 2011:

“Some feminist critics complain that during the decade Kate spent waiting for William to propose, she worked only one year, as an accessories buyer for the fashion label Jigsaw. I’d say this was astute training for her role, since she is to function as an accessory.”

Image via This Memphis Belle.