TV: The Simpson’s—Lady Gaga is “Pretty Much the Same” as Jesus.

From last night’s episode of The Simpson’s, in which Lady Gaga starred:

Ned Flanders: “It’s one of those music industry superstars who are turning our innocent children into ladies of the night.”

Lady Gaga: “But all I’m saying is that everyone is beautiful.”

Ned Flanders: “Yes, but Jesus said… pretty much the same thing.”

Image via Putlocker.

Event: The Catholic Church Is Not a Force For Good in the World.

I’ve always thought religion is bullshit, so when I saw a debate with the topic sentence “the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world” as part of the Intelligence2 debate series, I bought a ticket with my friend Laura immediately.

Going in, we’d both had our minds made up that the Catholic Church certainly wasn’t a force for good in the world, as did 34% of our fellow debate-goers, a door poll reflected.

The affirmative side didn’t do much to sway anyone’s opinion, as lawyer Julian McMahon and Sister Libby Rogerson were pretty poor debaters.

McMahon spoke about how love is the driving force behind the Church and Jesus’ teachings, which has obviously been lost in a lot of hot-button religious topics such as gay rights, and instead we have the “language of The Simpson’s”. I’d say this was true even ten years ago, but the language of today is very much a cyber one, which is perhaps why the Church is losing influence and followers. (Albeit, speaker for the opposition, Anne Summers A.O., pointed out that followers of Catholicism have increased less than one percent in recent years.)

Sister Libby went on to talk about Catholics who volunteer and work in Indigenous communities and in prisons. I don’t know too much about how the Catholic Church has been more of a hindrance than a help in Indigenous Australia, but Laura was obviously upset by the Sister’s assertion, rolling her eyes and groaning. My beef with volunteering being a primarily religious domain is that yes, perhaps a lot of Catholics volunteer, but a lot of non-Catholics volunteer, too. For example, I’m agnostic and I used to volunteer at the RSPCA. As event facilitator Simon Longstaff said, quoting Thomas Aquinas, “Not even the pope has sovereignty over a well-informed conscience.” Amen to that.

In the face of criticism, Sister Libby said the Church is a “flawed, human institution” and makes mistakes just like anyone else. Where have we heard that before?

The affirmative’s only saving grace was Helen Coonan, who actually read from her notes instead of waffling on about dot points. She said there is no excusing the past injustices of the Church, but we need to focus on the present. Coonan spoke at length about the Occupy movement, using their non-hierarchy (un)structure and myriad of messages to undercut all anti-establishment movements. (SlutWalk comes to mind.) That’s the trouble with Occupy: those in opposition to it judge all movements by its measuring stick. But that’s another post for another time.

She spoke at length about wealth in the Catholic Church and using it as a metaphor for how the world should structure its monetary dealings. Hmm… To be honest, as well as Coonan spoke, her focus on economics kind of bored me.

To rebut this, Father Peter of the opposition said the Church favours the idea of “pray, pay, obey” and doesn’t give its followers a voice.

Still with the opposition—debating for the notion that the Catholic Church isn’t a force of good—consisting of Summers, the excommunicated Father Peter Kennedy and writer David Marr, they brought the house down with their poignant points.

Summers spoke about the women’s movement in relation to the Church which, when Summers and fellow Catholic school-educated feminists such as Germaine Greer were at school, consisted of either “being a nun or a mother of six”. She spoke about abortion, birth control and choosing whether and when to become a mother.

During the floor debate, one woman about my age tried to debunk Summers’ theory that women who subscribe to the teachings of the Church don’t make their own choices. The fact that her mother was born in the ’30s, has several (Catholic school?) degrees and NINE CHILDREN leads me to believe that she wasn’t making a choice to do these things so much as she was brainwashed to do them. As Marr said during his time, sex as a non-reproductive act is frowned upon by the Church.

Speaking of Marr, he was by far the best debater and is my new favourite person! He talked about sex as a sin and that followers of the Catholic Church are supposed to engage in “no sex at all, ever!” unless it’s between a married, heterosexual man and woman for the purpose of procreation. How boring!

He pointed out four main problems with the view the Catholic Church has of sex:

1. Celibacy as purity. And we all know how damaging that is to young sexuality, in particular.

2. Condoms being outlawed. When Marr asked the affirmative panel if they support the banning of condoms to stop the spread of disease, like HIV/AIDS in Africa, McMahon awkwardly and roundaboutly agreed with the Church’s position. He said that abstinence and sex only within marriage would stop the spread of disease in Africa, forgetting that in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo rape is rife and abstinence only sex education doesn’t work. His response was laden with racism and rape-apologist attitudes, in my opinion. For all his accomplishments, this debate illustrated that McMahon is severely out of touch with the realities of our world.

3. Homosexuals are bad, okay? I think we all know the Church’s stance on homosexuality, despite most Catholics, according to Marr, believing in granting the right of marriage to the gays.

4. Shame. That sex, being sexual and looking sexy is shame-worthy. I would argue that this attitude has permeated secular society, but that secular society also laughs in the face of point #1, and also prude-shames those who aren’t having sex, being sexual or looking sexy. You can’t win either way.

By the end of the debate, in which Coonan rebutted that “ordinary Catholics”—those who acknowledge and agree with most points from both sides of the argument, and who aren’t caricatures of fanatical militant Catholics—“need a voice”, which I certainly agree with, 57% of the audience was against the Catholic Church as a force for good in the world. Hope for atheism—or at least agnosticism, which is the philosophy I subscribe to—isn’t dead yet, which is more than I can say for the Catholic Church.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Feminism Respects Women More Than Anything, Including the Catholic Church!

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] “Who The Bloody Hell Are We?”: The Sentimental Bloke at the Wheeler Centre.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Slutty Stride.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee‘s “The First Time” Episode.

Elsewhere: [The Telegraph] Tiger Woods Says “I’m Only Human” After Mystery Crash.

Image via YouTube.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“The Case for Dry Humping: Why Being Prude is a Feminist Statement.” [HuffPo]

Alone time is my siren call. Here, Jezebel’s Social Minefield tells you how to get more “me time” without offended those who want to have “we time” with you.

One woman goes mirror-free for a year. [Jezebel]

Lady Gaga’s run out of people to plagiarise, so she’s turned to herself for inspiration in her latest video for “Yoü & I”. [Fashionista]

Nipple slips from Khloe Kardashian, Nicki Minaj and Kelly Rowland in quick succession: shock, horror! [The Washington Post] (SFW)

Camilla Peffer on Beyonce as the anti-feminist. [Girls Are Made From Pepsi]

The gender politics of Justin Bieber. [FBomb]

Is there a need for women to have their periods?:

“… I do want to raise the question that while we do the work of destigmatising menstruation and teach young girls to be proud and excited about their menarche don’t we also have a responsibility to question its necessity? We tell women they don’t have to have sex to have children, that breast cancer can be beaten, that they can have their tubes tied and then re-connected and their faces lifted and de-wrinkled. We live in a modern world with modern solutions, isn’t it time we started seriously thinking and talking about the need to bleed?” [Feminaust]

Porn star and new mum displays picture of her breastfeeding her newborn daughter in an exhibition challenging the Madonna/whore dichotomy of motherhood, controversy ensues:

“The idea that there is something inherently prurient about a porn star breast-feeding plays right into that classic either-or thinking: Her breasts are erotic in one venue, so they can’t be wholesome in another. It’s a wonder anyone lets her breast-feed at all! On the one hand, it’s surprising to see this attitude coming from a pornographer; on… [yet an]other hand, it’s perfectly appropriate given the way motherhood is fetishised in porn.

“…We don’t like to think of moms as sexual beings—except for in the taboo-busting world of porn (paging Dr. Freud). It’s fitting for a porn star mama, the rare industry ‘MILF’ who is actually a mom, to remind folks that, generally speaking, one has to have sex in order to become a mom.” [Salon]

Anne Hathaway’s new effort, One Day, has a “bleak worldview of co-dependence where men need women to improve them, and women need to improve themselves to deserve men’s notice and achieve their purpose,” with The Film Stage dubbing it “the most toxic romance of the year”.

Also at The Film Stage, a breakdown of Katherine Heigl’s stereotype-reinforcing rom-coms, from the career-making Knocked Up, which she subsequently dissed for being sexist, to the just-as-sexist Killers and Life as We Know It.

Here’s an extended version of Erica Bartle’s debut piece for Sunday Life. While I don’t necessarily agree with her sentiments on faith most of the time, this is a great read. Better than the published piece, dare I say? [Girl with a Satchel]

Taylor Swift VS. feminism. [Autostraddle]

Is it “time for an abortion pride movement”?:

“… Women should not merely have the right to end unwanted pregnancies, they should have the right to be proud of having done so. Surely, there is enough suffering in this world already without adding infants with Tay-Sachs disease and Lesch-Nyhan syndrome to the mix. Women who step up to the ethical plate and have the strength to say, ‘This is the wrong time,’ or ‘This is the wrong fetus,’ should hold their heads high in the streets.” [Opposing Views]

Oh, the hilarity of Photoshop on this Glee/Vogue/Fashion’s Night Out advertisement. [Styleite]

It’s not just women who get the short end of the stick when it comes to Disney films: “Sexism, Strength & Dominance—Masculinity in Disney Films.” [FBomb]

The awesomeness that is Adam Lambert. [Autostraddle]

One from the vault: Buffy’s Willow Rosenberg destroys the world when her lesbian love is killed, calling into question the show’s support of the LGBT community. [Salon]

A mother’s perspective on the dysfunctional Twilight-saga relationship between Edward and Bella. [Persephone Magazine]

The politics of the SlutWalk. [New York Times]

Five of The Simpsons’ best recipes, including 64 slices of American cheese and Vaseline toast! [Warming Glow]

Image via Chubby Wubby Girl, Styleite, Salon.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

The beauty of Milhouse.

Mercury’s in retrograde. No wonder everything in my life has been up shit creek lately: friends, family, home life and, especially, work life. Here’s how to survive it.

Lots of good stuff on Musings of an Inappropriate Woman this week, where Rachel Hills writes on friendship and sameness in the life of an expat, “lessons in feminist activism” and her thoughts on teens and sexuality on TV:

“… The New York Observer’s Nate Freeman…, bafflingly, draws from this exchange that the characters on Skins get laid more often than the actors who play them because they don’t own web-enabled mobile phones. I’d be more inclined to suggest that they get laid more often because they’re fictional, and from a narrative drama perspective, having sex is more interesting than not having it. As one of my interview subjects put it: ‘Television is not an accurate portrayal of real life, but that’s kind of what we all like it for.’”

The joys of op-shopping for party favours.

“Giving The Big Bang Theory a Fair Chance.”

Spoiler Alert: Big Love Was About Feminism All Along.”

Control underwear is “Just a Girdle By Another Name”. Thoughts?

Gwyneth Paltrow puts her foot in it… again!

One of my favourite past Australian Idol contestants, Em Rusciano, who now presents for The 7pm Project, writes—hilariously—on the self-help book for MamaMia.

Also at MamaMia, Rick Morton on the app to “cure” homosexuality:

“Mobility guilt, yours for free.

“The app is mostly a direct port of information available on the website but, importantly, it’s available while you’re out and about in case you are overcome with sexual urges and need to keep your hands busy fiddling with an iPhone instead of, you know, the same sex.”

Mel Evans doesn’t like Belle de Work Expérience‘s take on Cosmo.

Image via Simpson Crazy.

Lisa Simpson—Girl Wonder.

 

From Fuck Yeah Lisa Simpson, by Shoshana Funk:

“I would like to take a moment to thank the first person to show me what feminism is and how amazing it can really be… I am talking about none other than Lisa Simpson! As merely a second grader, Lisa is probably the youngest and most fearless feminist TV icon of our time. ‘Animated and liberated,’ Lisa is a little girl-power gem tucked inside a satirical cartoon world devoid of real values that is tucked inside our actual culture of decaying ideals. (It’s the Turducken of social commentary, if you will.) Can you imagine a girl character like that even being invented today? Sure, Meg Griffin has some Lisa-esque qualities, but she mainly serves as a placeholder for the butt of jokes about how pathetic teen girls can be. Lisa, on the other hand, reminded me I was a feminist before I even knew what the word meant.

“Remember when she launched that crusade against the Malibu Stacy doll (i.e. Barbie) because it said something like, ‘Don’t ask me, I’m just a girl ha ha’?… Remember how she played saxophone, loved Simone de Beauvoir, was staunchly vegetarian, and aspired to be a Supreme Court Justice? So thank you, Matt Groening, for giving us a tiny, yellow, subversive, and intelligent feminist child to look up to over the past 20 years.”

Elsewhere: [Fuck Yeah Lisa Simpson] Shoshana Funk.

Image via Fuck Yeah Lisa Simpson.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Eight-year-old yellow wunderkind Lisa Simpson has her own book club.

Sarah Ayoub addresses Eddie Maguire’s racist comments in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Paula Joye at Girl with a Satchel on declining mag circulation.

How Hugh Hefner got his groove back at The New York Times.

I never thought there was a “link between autism and vaccinations” until my sister told me the story of how her boyfriend’s brother went from normal, happy and healthy baby to severely disabled after a vaccination. That made me think differently. This article will challenge your beliefs either way.

If “at least 40% of your diet consists of pre-packaged food”, “you don’t sleep enough for proper brain function” and “your boss knows you’re gullible”, you most likely work a 16-hour workday.

On stripping (take two):

“… the brotherly succor would partially exist in the form of shared ambivalence. I would venture to say that this how a majority of men feel about strippers… Do I enjoy strippers? Not really. Do I frequent tithouses often? No. Nor have I any close friends who do… I think men would be willing to renounce strippers if women renounced the Sex and the City franchise. I mean cut all cords. Shit’s gotten out of hand. No reruns. None of the third-wave dime store psychology. A complete effacement out of pop culture. You’re not even allowed hearken back to the simpler days when it meant something to you. Do we have a deal?”

Speaking of Sex & the City, is there a double standard between the second movie and lad flick Get Him to the Greek?

Is it possible to be a feminist and like fashion, too?

“I still get thrilled and impressed by bold, lovely, and often expensive fashion. And I still feel like I’m a person of worth, whether I’m wearing vintage Chanel or ‘vintage’ sweatpants. But I can’t seem to reconcile these two (competing?) impulses; on the one hand, a value in ‘art for art’s sake[’], beauty, style, and other intangibles; on the other, an investment in valuing substance over style, actions over appearances, and real justice over flamboyant showmanship.”

“What Your Favourite Magazine Says About You (Part II).”

Zoë Foster espouses the benefits of the “Better Man, Better Dan” theory.

 

Images via The Lisa Simpson Book Club, The Frisky.

The 10 Commandments of Work/Life Balance.

Recently, Mia Freedman posted a list of the ten things she needs for work/life balance, based off a speech she did on the topic.

So I thought I’d shoot off my ten must-haves for staying sane. What are yours?

1. Reading. Without something to readbooks, magazines, blogsI would go crazy. Most days of the week I try to set a good chunk of the evening aside for reading, in addition to whatever reading I manage to get done throughout the day. It simultaneously calms and inspires me.

2. Television. When I’m really spent, I love nothing more than lapsing into a coma, carving out a me-shaped groove, Homer-style, in the bed and getting my Grey’s Anatomy/Glee/Gossip Girl (the three G’s) on.

3. Writing. While I’m not getting paid for blogging, I do consider it a job, therefore I usually work six or seven days a week. Sometimes writing can seem like a chore, as I’m sure it does for all bloggers and writers of any kind at some stage. However, my blogging style and schedule are always changing. I’ve always been a morning person, so I try to churn out reviews and longer articles in the morning before I burn out, then work on smaller/easier posts around midday, and usually clock off around 2pm. Learning what works best for me helps keep writing enjoyable for me.

4. Friends. I’m a hermit by nature, so I really have to force myself to get out and see people. Luckily, a lot of my friends are people I’ve met through work, so everyday is like a play date, and any extra time with them (lunch, movies, after-work drinks) is a bonus. Having a balance of work and play makes me value both more.

5. Staying busy. Following on from the previous sentence, the busier I am, the more inspired I become, and the more I value my downtime. But when work dries up, so too does my inspiration and motivation. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.

6. My day job. As I said above, I love the people I work with, so most days are riotously fun. I won’t lie, though; sometimes I struggle with the mundaneness of my job description, but four paid days a week and two to three blogging days a week makes for a content Scarlett.

7. Exercise. I’ve been a bit slack with the exercise routine lately, but I started back up again on Sunday, and I have to say: I’m feeling good. As Elle Woods said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy”.

8. Write-off days. Sometimes I just feel too tired/sick/insert motivation-affecting emotion here to get up and do the things I need to. In those situations I just write-off the rest of the day and stay in bed with a box-set. I can’t say I don’t struggle with the guilt following one-such-day, but that’s something I’m working on.

9. Fun outings. Dinner/movies/after-work drinks can become a bit monotonous after a while, so I try to shake things up in my friendship group/s by organising fun things like trips to the zoo for friends’ birthdays, dancing all night to ’90s tunes, and indoor rock-climbing. 90% guaranteed to produce lifelong memories… not to mention numerous Facebook profile photo-ops!

10. Me-time/Downtime. Similar to write-off days, but provided I’ve had enough me-time/downtime interspersed between working, blogging and socialising, there is no need for a write-off day. I have been known to pass on social occasions in favour of a good book/magazine/blog/TV show/movie and a bath/block of chocolate/cup of peppermint tea to preserve my long-term sanity and maintain the work/life balance.

Pop Culture Power Women.

This is an edited version of an article originally posted on Girl with a Satchel.

Magazines and media blogger Erica Bartle, of Girl with a Satchel, has recently upped her workload as feature writing and fashion and style journalism tutor at Queensland’s University of Technology. Erica’s first lecture inspired her to write this:

After experiencing some minor audiovisual issues (during which time I had a little jokey internal monologue with Tina Fey in Date Night about the “computer sticky thingy”) and giving my introductory lecture on feature writing on Monday, I opened up the opportunity for questions.

“Are you going to be referencing Sex and the City every lecture?” deadpanned one male student channelling Daria. Touché!

I actually hadn’t intended to make reference to the show (in fact, I genuinely try to curb such things, knowing how tiresome it can sound), but sometimes a pop culture reference comes to mind that fits the occasion aptly enough to illustrate a point and simply must be voiced (cue the scene in Sex and the City when Candice Burgen, playing Carrie’s Vogue editor, returns her piece on shoes dripping with red ink).

Though more “serious journalists” prefer witty literary/historical/political references and high-brow in-jokes, I love a good pop culture reference in a feature; preferably if it’s Gen-Y nostalgic. It says, “you speak my language”. Gillard and Abbott (or, rather, their speech writers) should really think about throwing some random Simpsons/Mad Men quotes into the mix (okay, it didn’t work for Joe Hockey!).

Give me Seinfeld, give me slinkies, give me scrunchies, give me The Goonies and Gilmore Girls and I’m yours. As Elle Woods once said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy”. So does good pop culture. And puppies.

So who better to inspire the writer’s musethat voice that sits upon your shoulder like trusty Tinkerbellthan some of the feisty and fabulous gals you pointed to in response to the pop popularity poll? Make like Buffy Summers who “slew all manner of demons and even had breath to spare for puns and quips”.

Erica Bartle.

Elsewhere: [Girl with a Satchel] Women of Pop Culture & the Unashamed Use of Cutesy Clichés.