On the (Rest of the) Net.

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To pay tribute to the emergency and service personnel who helped in Hurricane Sandy, Vogue does a fashion spread inspired by the superstorm. Naturally. [Daily Life]

Apparently young Australians just aren’t into protesting the injustices we face today. Um, hello? Reclaim the Night, the Occupy movement, SlutWalk, the Arab Spring… all activist events started by Gen Y on social media which encouraged Time magazine to name the Protestor as its 2011 Person of the Year. Writer Alecia Simmonds does make a fair point that Aussies are particularly apathetic towards causes, but her assertion that online petitioning, blogging and social media doesn’t compare to on-the-ground activism kind of undercuts fellow Daily Life columnist Kasey Edwards’ argument last week that “Big social changes don’t just happen… Social and cultural change evolves out of a meandering path of small victories. Seeds need to be planted and ground needs to be fertilised.”

The latest trend in labiaplasty: the Barbie, in which the entire labia minora is cut out. [Jezebel]

And, in an attempt to counteract the alarming trend of wanting your vulva to look like a plastic doll’s, check out this (NSFW) Tumblr, Show Your Vagina.

What is it about our twenties that make us who we are? [Slate]

Miss America and race. [NYTimes]

Is freedom of speech overrated? Personally, I think so, as it allows those with abhorrently narrow-minded views to spill hate speech. This article makes the observation that free speech only seems to be defended when people like Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt put their foot in their mouth. [Daily Life]

Lena Dunham thinks that perhaps Rihanna should have been the one to sing “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” to Chris Brown. [TheVine]

American Horror Story: feminist or anti-feminist? [Jezebel]

Jane Roe—of Roe v. Wade fame, which had its 40th anniversary this week—ain’t what she used to be: now she’s an anti-choicer. [Vanity Fair]

Glee‘s Puck is a rapist, allegedly. [TheVine]

Nine of the ugliest feminists. [Return of Kings]

Breast feeding-shaming. [Daily Life]

A photojournalist documents an abusive relationship. Should she have stood by and photographed an incident of domestic violence or does her work portray an important aspect of lower socio-economic partnerships “unflinchingly”? [Fotovisura, Kiwiana (Inked)]

Image via Daily Life.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

In response to the body-snarking of Lady Gaga, she launches a social media campaign exposing her insecurities and encouraging her fans to overcome theirs. [Jezebel]

Until I read this profile by a reporter who spent a day with the Here Comes Honey Boo Boo clan, I thought the show was exploiting a low-socioeconomic family who didn’t know any better. Turns out they’re not as dumb nor famehungry as they are portrayed. [Gawker]

Why we love Law & Order: SVU. [Jezebel]

In defence of being ugly. [MamaMia]

Society’s paranoia about male intimacy. [Daily Life]

Yet another sermon on why hot women can’t be funny. [Jezebel]

Pussy Riot interviewed from jail. [GQ]

He who so sanctimoniously surmised that abortion is bad, even in the case of rape, which is unfortunate but, still, “everything happens for a reason”—Justin Bieber—is the subject of an article about how his mother was a drug-addicted teen who found herself pregnant but decided to have the kid who would turn out to be him and therefore grant a whole generation of tweens such important musical feats as “Baby” and “Eenie Meenie” instead of abort him. [Jezebel]

Kate Middleton’s boobs as public property. [The Guardian]

Uh-oh. Only four months after Vogue debuted its “health initiative” pledge to not “knowingly hire models under the age of 16”, the Chinese and Japanese editions will publish spreads featuring two well-known underage models. [Jezebel]

Why isn’t Mindy Kaling being as well received as her fellow women-in-comedy or male counterparts? [Racialicious, via Jezebel]

The End of Men versus the success of Girls. [The Atlantic]

Image via Jaykhsar.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Tyra Banks writes an open letter to girls in the modeling industry—and girls in general—about Vogue’s new eating disorder mandate. [Daily Beast]

Hot off the heels of his first Sydney and Melbourne shows, the beauty that is Prince’s “Kiss”. [One a Day]

Scarlett Johansson sets the “toilet paper rags” straight on her body image. [HuffPo]

I’m not a big Delta Goodrem fan, but since she’s been the victim of vitriol on The Voice, I’m starting to warm to her. I may not be a fan of Delta’s, but I do love me an underdog. [MamaMia]

Terry Richardson and “hipster sexism”. [Daily Life]

A Jezebel reporter infiltrates America’s “rape capital”, Missoula, Montana.

Are All Men Pedophiles?, asks a new documentary. [Buzzfeed]

Comedian Hasan Minhaj rips Ashton Kutcher and PopChips a new one for their brown-faced Indian impersonation. Not cool. [Best Week Ever]

12 Posts of Christmas: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

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. 

This one was written after Paper Giants aired on ABC in April, comparing the heyday of magazines with the impact of the digital world. You can read the original post here.

A few weeks ago, in response to ABC’s Paper Giants: The Birth of CleoMia Freedman wrote on MamaMia about her thoughts on the state of the (mag) nation and if magazines are still relevant and the amount of influence they wield in 2011:

“… Not that much excitement goes on in magazines anymore… [It’s a struggle to] get them [those who work on a magazine] to try and think about something that hasn’t been done before, something that will start a conversation and boost sales.”

Freedman compares pay TV’s Park Street, a The Devil Wears Prada-esque reality show about ACP’s head offices, featuring the editors of DollyCleoCosmoMadison and Shop Til You Drop, which received dismal ratings and poor audience response, to the critical success and brilliant take on Cleo in her influential heyday of Paper Giants. She says, “Gemma Crisp [editor of Cleo] explained the editorial process that a story undergoes from conception to publication. It takes a minimum of three months… When was the last time you waited three months for something? Life doesn’t happen in increments of months anymore. It happens in moments, in text messages, in Tweets. It’s fast and it’s relentless and if it takes you three months (or even three weeks) to get from thought to print then that’s just too long to retain the attention of your audience.”

When she puts it like that, Freedman makes me long for a simpler time, when I hung on the every word magazines published, as opposed to reading hundreds of articles a week, mostly on blogs, but also in magazines, in an attempt to stay on top of my blogging game.

Erica Bartle, creator of Girl with a Satchel and a former mag girl herself, says Freedman’s “blog-cum-website” “deals in what everyone’s talking about TODAY. It feeds off the 24-hour news cycle. And Mia’s own profile. And her opinion… It’s like a current affairs program for women online.” And now with MamaMia launching on SkyNews, Freedman’s brand is literally a current affairs program.

Not all blogs can operate this way. MamaMia has a team of bloggers, editors and techs who keep the site running smoothly which thus, as Bartle said, allows it to operate on a 24-hour news cycle.

Personally, I have a part-time paid job I go to four times a week, this means I only get to blog two or three days a week, and with so much info to process and a maximum of 15 posts per week to churn out in a small amount of time, this means The Early Bird Catches the Worm is not always the early bird.

But even for those who blog fulltime, like Bartle, it’s not always about what’s happening right NOW as it is about maintaining the blog’s integrity.“I personally operate on a different plane, because my beliefs very much inform my work. For that, I’m willing to sacrifice certain economic constraints,” she says.

Still in the blogging world, you have someone like Gala Darling, who is very much a self-made businesswoman as a result of her über-successful blog of the same name. She’s gone from strength to strength over the past few years; something she could never have done had she been a magazine editor (bar the select few, like Anna Wintour, Anna Dello Russo and yes, Freedman).

But, essentially, MamaMia has the advantage of possessing “a figurehead with credibility whose background is in traditional media. She has the gut instinct of an editor. Online you need news nous as well as technological nous and business nous.”

Another editor who has these qualities in spades is former Cleo and Girlfriend editor, Sarah Oakes, whom Bartle worked under at Girlfriend. Bartle says she invoked an atmosphere of ghosts of magazines past, creating “camaraderie, creativity and positivity, which I think she achieved. She gave you more work if she thought you could be stretched; gave you a talking to if you had crossed a line; gave you a pat on the back for a job well done.” Very Ita-like, wouldn’t you say?

Oakes is now editor of The Age Sydney Morning Herald’s Sunday Life supplement, a title which has improved markedly since she took over. (I have also blogged here about how I think both Girlfriend and Cleo became better titles under her leadership.)

In fact, newspaper inserts are giving the glossies on the newsstand a run for their money, as they “are getting exclusives and have strong writing and design teams, as well as columnists and styling/shoots. These free weekly titles, because of the mastheads they reside within, have enviable readerships and access to celebrities. They are also respectable, well executed and FREE,” Bartle notes.

But at the end of the day, are magazines relevant?

Freedman writes:

“The internet has not only sucked up their readers, it has also gobbled up their purpose: to be a way women form tribes and communicate. Now there’s YouPorn and any other number of sites for titillation, Google for questions about sex, and any number of websites or free newspaper magazines if you’re looking for other types of content or a magazine-style experience. Women don’t want to be spoken TO anymore. They want to be part of the conversation, something which the internet allows, in fact depends on… the internet has taken the sting out of the raunch-factor for mags like Cosmo and Cleo.”

Yes, as Freedman says, there are much raunchier locales to get what would have been included in a sealed section only a few years ago. There’s also Perez Hilton, TMZ and even shows like Entertainment Tonight and E! News that monopolise celebrity content, while the fashion blogs are more of a go-to for what kids are wearing these days.

Sure, Vogue’s always going to be a premiere source for high fashion shoots from photographers the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Patrick Demarchelier and David LaChapelle, but magazines “seem to exist on a strangely distant planet where all the people look like plastic and the sole pursuit is ‘perfection’. Except that perfection doesn’t really exist,” says Freedman.

When sites like JezebelCover Girl Culture and, yes, MamaMia and Girl with a Satchel are debunking photoshop myths and striving for more realistic representations of women in the media, magazines are doing this movement any favours. (Except maybe Brigitte.)

And when you can get most of a magazine’s content online anyway (I passed on a near-$20 copy of US Harper’s Bazaar in favour of accessing interviews with Kim Kardashian and Hillary Clinton on their website), are they really worth it?

Bartle doesn’t think so. “No, but they need to be distinctive from what we can get online or elsewhere if we are going to part with $5-$10 to purchase one. Premium magazines, which I have no qualms spending extra on, include The Gentlewoman and O The Oprah Magazine, because they cater to my tastes, sensibility and need for a good read on a Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea.”

I agree with Bartle’s sentiments.

While online is great for content from individuals not curated and/or watered down by magazines editors to fit the mold of their magazine, holding a truly great glossy in your hands, like the appeal of a physical book, while at the hairdressers, a café or tucked up in bed, means magazines will always hold a place in our hearts.

Right next to the Kindle and Google Reader.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Everything They Touch Turns To Gold.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Evolution of the Bookshop at The Wheeler Centre.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Paper Giants VS. Park Street: Why Magazines Are Not What They Used to Be.

[MamaMia] MamaMia Gets a TV Show.

[Girl with a Satchel] Homepage.

[Girl with a Satchel] Mid-Week Media Musings.

[Gala Darling] Homepage.

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.

Magazines: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants?

A few weeks ago, in response to ABC’s Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, Mia Freedman wrote on MamaMia about her thoughts on the state of the (mag) nation and if magazines are still relevant and the amount of influence they wield in 2011:

“… Not that much excitement goes on in magazines anymore… [It’s a struggle to] get them [those who work on a magazine] to try and think about something that hasn’t been done before, something that will start a conversation and boost sales.”

Freedman compares pay TV’s Park Street, a The Devil Wears Prada-esque reality show about ACP’s head offices, featuring the editors of Dolly, Cleo, Cosmo, Madison and Shop Til You Drop, which received dismal ratings and poor audience response, to the critical success and brilliant take on Cleo in her influential heyday of Paper Giants. She says, “Gemma Crisp [editor of Cleo] explained the editorial process that a story undergoes from conception to publication. It takes a minimum of three months… When was the last time you waited three months for something? Life doesn’t happen in increments of months anymore. It happens in moments, in text messages, in Tweets. It’s fast and it’s relentless and if it takes you three months (or even three weeks) to get from thought to print then that’s just too long to retain the attention of your audience.”

When she puts it like that, Freedman makes me long for a simpler time, when I hung on the every word magazines published, as opposed to reading hundreds of articles a week, mostly on blogs, but also in magazines, in an attempt to stay on top of my blogging game.

Erica Bartle, creator of Girl with a Satchel and a former mag girl herself, says Freedman’s “blog-cum-website” “deals in what everyone’s talking about TODAY. It feeds off the 24-hour news cycle. And Mia’s own profile. And her opinion… It’s like a current affairs program for women online.” And now with MamaMia launching on SkyNews, Freedman’s brand is literally a current affairs program.

Not all blogs can operate this way. MamaMia has a team of bloggers, editors and techs who keep the site running smoothly which thus, as Bartle said, allows it to operate on a 24-hour news cycle.

Personally, I have a part-time paid job I go to four times a week, this means I only get to blog two or three days a week, and with so much info to process and a maximum of 15 posts per week to churn out in a small amount of time, this means The Early Bird Catches the Worm is not always the early bird.

But even for those who blog fulltime, like Bartle, it’s not always about what’s happening right NOW as it is about maintaining the blog’s integrity.“I personally operate on a different plane, because my beliefs very much inform my work. For that, I’m willing to sacrifice certain economic constraints,” she says.

Still in the blogging world, you have someone like Gala Darling, who is very much a self-made businesswoman as a result of her über-successful blog of the same name. She’s gone from strength to strength over the past few years; something she could never have done had she been a magazine editor (bar the select few, like Anna Wintour, Anna Dello Russo and yes, Freedman).

But, essentially, MamaMia has the advantage of possessing “a figurehead with credibility whose background is in traditional media. She has the gut instinct of an editor. Online you need news nous as well as technological nous and business nous.”

Another editor who has these qualities in spades is former Cleo and Girlfriend editor, Sarah Oakes, whom Bartle worked under at Girlfriend. Bartle says she invoked an atmosphere of ghosts of magazines past, creating “camaraderie, creativity and positivity, which I think she achieved. She gave you more work if she thought you could be stretched; gave you a talking to if you had crossed a line; gave you a pat on the back for a job well done.” Very Ita-like, wouldn’t you say?

Oakes is now editor of The Age & Sydney Morning Herald’s Sunday Life supplement, a title which has improved markedly since she took over. (I have also blogged here about how I think both Girlfriend and Cleo became better titles under her leadership.)

In fact, newspaper inserts are giving the glossies on the newsstand a run for their money, as they “are getting exclusives and have strong writing and design teams, as well as columnists and styling/shoots. These free weekly titles, because of the mastheads they reside within, have enviable readerships and access to celebrities. They are also respectable, well executed and FREE,” Bartle notes.

But at the end of the day, are magazines relevant?

Freedman writes:

“The internet has not only sucked up their readers, it has also gobbled up their purpose: to be a way women form tribes and communicate. Now there’s YouPorn and any other number of sites for titillation, Google for questions about sex, and any number of websites or free newspaper magazines if you’re looking for other types of content or a magazine-style experience. Women don’t want to be spoken TO anymore. They want to be part of the conversation, something which the internet allows, in fact depends on… the internet has taken the sting out of the raunch-factor for mags like Cosmo and Cleo.”

Yes, as Freedman says, there are much raunchier locales to get what would have been included in a sealed section only a few years ago. There’s also Perez Hilton, TMZ and even shows like Entertainment Tonight and E! News that monopolise celebrity content, while the fashion blogs are more of a go-to for what kids are wearing these days.

Sure, Vogue’s always going to be a premiere source for high fashion shoots from photographers the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Patrick Demarchelier and David LaChapelle, but magazines “seem to exist on a strangely distant planet where all the people look like plastic and the sole pursuit is ‘perfection’. Except that perfection doesn’t really exist,” says Freedman.

When sites like Jezebel, Cover Girl Culture and, yes, MamaMia and Girl with a Satchel are debunking photoshop myths and striving for more realistic representations of women in the media, magazines are doing this movement any favours. (Except maybe Brigitte.)

And when you can get most of a magazine’s content online anyway (I passed on a near-$20 copy of US Harper’s Bazaar in favour of accessing interviews with Kim Kardashian and Hillary Clinton on their website), are they really worth it?

Bartle doesn’t think so. “No, but they need to be distinctive from what we can get online or elsewhere if we are going to part with $5-$10 to purchase one. Premium magazines, which I have no qualms spending extra on, include The Gentlewoman and O The Oprah Magazine, because they cater to my tastes, sensibility and need for a good read on a Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea.”

I agree with Bartle’s sentiments.

While online is great for content from individuals not curated and/or watered down by magazines editors to fit the mold of their magazine, holding a truly great glossy in your hands, like the appeal of a physical book, while at the hairdressers, a café or tucked up in bed, means magazines will always hold a place in our hearts.

Right next to the Kindle and Google Reader.

[MamaMia] Paper Giants VS. Park Street: Why Magazines Are Not What They Used to Be.

[MamaMia] MamaMia Gets a TV Show.

[Girl with a Satchel] Homepage.

[Girl with a Satchel] Mid-Week Media Musings.

[Gala Darling] Homepage.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Everything They Touch Turns To Gold.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Evolution of the Bookshop at The Wheeler Centre.

Images via ABC, MamaMia, Teacup.

On the Net: Pop Culture Role Models.

From “Ita Rap & Tyra Parody Clips (and Girl Culture Stereotypes)” by Erica Bartle on Girl with a Satchel:

“In my teens, I played the R’n’B Boyz II Men/TLC lover, the shopping-mad Clueless girl, the Waves reading surfer girl, the Converse-wearing/Nirvana listening grunge girl (way before ‘emo’ became a sub-culture of its own)—experimenting with these identities helped me forge social connections; pop culture informed the dialogue with my friends (we spoke in song lyrics and TV show-isms) and clothing help me fit in.

“Sub-culture identities fulfilled a purpose at the time: giving us something to cling to in the name of social approval. And there are plenty of readily available stereotypes, processed by the pop-culture machine, waiting to capture the attention (and money) of eager participants looking for some way to feel a legitimate part of the world. Lady Gaga’s tribe of Little Monsters being a case in point.

“But do they know, do they realise, that while freeing themselves from the scary terrain of the ‘outcast’, by buying into these social structures with their lingo and uniforms and Facebook groups, that they are actually binding themselves up, beholden to group approval based on one’s ability to play to type? And how many years it takes to strip all that superficiality away—with its various image-friendly accouterments—before you can truly say that you are free from artifice?”

[Girl with a Satchel] Ita Rap & Tyra Parody Clips (and Girl Culture Stereotypes).

Images via YouTube, The Central Box, Oh the Scandal.

On the Net: The Problem with Pop Music.

From The Quietus“Givin’ It to the Homegirl: The Trouble with Kelis” by Neil Kulkarni:

“I hear no shattered women on the radio right now, no one swallowing men like air or devouring worlds or commanding the cosmos or even telling the truth. Only empty-headed little girls skweeming and squeaking about what rockstars they are. Well we get the pop we deserve, the pop Fearne Cotton likes, but even if I were white skinny and pretty I’d feel lagged behind, let down, and I’d be wondering why the fuck these drippy bitches like Flo & Ke$h think they deserve to be famous. Good taste? Where’s the fucking bravery? Where’s girls like I know, rather than the girls & guys I’d cross streets, change clubs, emigrate, to avoid. If pop is a club right now, I find myself walking past all the tables packed full of braying twats and simpering saps and desperate to recognise a friendly face, a real face, smart people who are a laugh, rather than all these desperately needy, charmless loudmouth ignoramuses and fucking students.

“Look at what pop’s women are wearing. Even in Gaga’s orbit of influence, it’s so fucking dull out there. It’s as if Girl pop looks at 30s Vogue, 70s Cosmo, 80s Face/ID, looks at the dress-up-games the high-street makes easy & search-free, throws shit on and waits for those old spirits to reinhabit the body beneath and the mind behind such carelessness… Those old moments of beauty, those looks so steely, timed and timeless were animated and arranged by folk who worshipped new gods, the camera and the motorcar and the mirrorball and the MDMA and that spirit cannot be conjured off-the-peg, cribbed from an idiot’s guide or splattered on with a sequin gun. [Early Bird note: Or a love glue gun, as Gaga would say?]

“Which does beg the question—what real female figureheads are there for girls to idolise, aspire to, learn from in music right now? In a pop world in which female ‘presence’ is in glut/spreadthin, it’s startling how little of femme-import is being given, how so many of the supposed ‘divas’ in modern pop have now to offer young minds bar money-hunger, man-dependence and just-dumped aggravation… make the colossal strategic error of listening to the charts, and you’ll see girls talk about themselves, sure, but always ONLY in relation to their relationships, only in relation to how near/far they are from love, only in relation to how much they can lose/claw back of themselves in the permanent night-out that is pop’s sole focus and context in 2010. Crucially, whilst you’ll see lots of girls, you won’t hear a single word that dares to antagonise you, that really addresses how scarily fast and furious with innovative invective girls can be. Obvious why girls are so ill-served at the moment, why none of pop’s chat and cattiness (exceptions: Gaga, Britney & Beyonce on their good days; Shakira—all of whom crucially don’t try and talk to/for their young fans, just luxuriate in their own supra-identities) actually matches up to the way girls talk/live/think—somewhere along the line middle-aged fanboys started whispering to pop that if it wants to cut deep it must only thieve from the past the fanboys curate, that it can’t do politics, that being a poetess is less important than simply being a witty conduit for the babble of what’s contemporary, a simpering squeaker of lad-mag-friendly spunkiness. ‘I really like your beard.’ Jesus. They’re being catered for.”

[The Quietus] Givin’ It to the Homegirl: The Trouble with Kelis.

Profile: Rachel Hills of Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.

I’ve only become familiar with Rachel Hills, sex and gender blogger at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, in the past few months, but she’s made her way to the top of my must-read blogs. Here, she answers questions about her inspiration, future writing goals and what she does in her spare time in a new city (she recently moved from Australia to begin a new chapter of her life in London).

 

Can you give us a quick run-down of your professional writing portfolio thus far?

I’ve been freelancing for six years now, and have written for (in alphabetical order) the ABC, The Age, The Australian, The Big Issue, The Bulletin, The Canberra Times, Cleo, Cosmopolitan, The Courier-Mail, Girlfriend, Girls’ Life (US), Glamour (UK), The Huffington Post, Jezebel, The Monthly, New Matilda, Russh, Sunday Life, Sunday Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald, Vogue, The Walkley Magazine and YEN, as well as a bunch of smaller, indie magazines and blogs.

I got my start writing opinion pieces for the Sydney Morning Herald. These days, I usually write “think piece” features on personal-is-political type issues, or women’s mag fare with smarts.

 

How long have you been blogging at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman and what made you decide to start a blog?

I just did a quick scan of my archives and discovered I just reached my three year anniversary on October 30.

I’ve written for the internet pretty much ever since it was possible to (I started my first website in 1998), but I was always kind of hesitant of writing publicly under my own name. As a teenager because of my secret pop music loving shame, as a university student because I was involved in student politics and that makes you extremely paranoid (not of people digging up info on you when you become a politician, but of people digging up info on you and putting it in the student newspaper), and then as an adult because I didn’t want to cannibalise my own story ideas.

I cracked through basically because I loved reading other people’s blogs, and because I was inspired by the way that other journalistsparticularly in the USwere using blogs to connect with their audiences. My blog was quite different when I first started writing it, thoughit was more a mix of political commentary, scrapbook and lifecast, as opposed to the more reflective, personal-is-political blog it is today.

What are some of your favourite blogs?

I have a soft spot for blogs which make you feel like you’re getting to know the person writing itblogs like Gala Darling, Girl With A Satchel, Wordsmith Lane, The Ch!cktionary, Emily Magazine, Garance Dore, Style Rookie and The Early Bird Catches The Worm [that's me!] are often at the top of my Google Reader.

I also love blogs that make me think about thingsFeministe, Pandagon, The Awl, Tiara The Merch Girl, Rabbit White, Kapooka Baby, Jezebel, Hugo Schwyzer, Racialicious. And people like Chris Brogan, Seth Godin and Chris Guillebeau are like mentors I’ve never met when it comes to things like blogging and community building.

I’ve lost count of the number of blogs I subscribe to on Google Reader, though, so that’s really just scraping the surface of what I read.

What has been your proudest writing-related achievement to date?

I don’t think I actually have one! There are lots of stories I’m fond of, and I still get excited whenever I get a story up, but there isn’t one that stands out as being more significant than the others. I suppose the one I was most proud of at the time was that first opinion piece in the SMH. And I hope my book will be my proudest writing accomplishment in a couple of years.

 

And your proudest non-writing achievement?

In 2006, I travelled around the US meeting some of my favourite journalists and editors: people from The Economist, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, US Cosmopolitan and so on. Very nerdy, but also very gutsy lots of people at home thought I was a bit of a weirdo for attempting it (with a couple of notable exceptions). I’m quite proud of that.

 

Back to your book, to be titled The Sex Myth; how is it coming along?

Haha, it’s coming along okay. I’m dedicating a lot of time to it at the moment, and there are bits of it that I really like, which is nice. I’ve shown the overview to a few high profile people, and the response has been universally very positive. I’m just trying to get everything in place at the moment to translate that positivity into a kickass book deal.

 

You’ve written about workaholism and the work/life balance in the past. How do you balance all your commitments?

It was much, much harder when I was living in Australia and holding down a near full-time job. Now that I’m working for myself again, it’s much easier to fit in all the things I want to work on, and living with my partner means I still make plenty of time for myself. (When he’s away, I start working later, procrastinating more and sleeping less.)

That said, even working for myself, I’m still managing four main areas of workfreelancing, book, PhD and blogonly one of which pays. So finding time for all of them can be a bit tricky.

 

What is your favourite way to unwind?

Having spent the past two and a half years of my life reading books on the philosophy of sex, I’ve developed a bit of a fiction obsession recently. It’s so much easier and more relaxing to read than the academic stuff I’m usually buried in.

I’m also really enjoying getting to know London, and digging out all the interesting things there are to do here. My boyfriend often asks me how I manage to find all the things we check outphotographic treasure hunts, interactive theatre, art galleries, bars with secret passage ways.

And yoga. It’s clichéd, but it relaxes me, keeps me fit and keeps my bad neck (from too much time sitting in front of a computer) in proper alignment.

 

Because most bloggers write about things they’re passionate about, as I know both you and I do, do you find sometimes it’s a chore to churn out posts on, for example, mag-world musings or the happenings on your favourite TV show (you and I both share a penchant for Gossip Girl) and the like, as previously you would have done those things for pleasure? Because that’s definitely something I struggle with from time to time.

Because I write for a living, one thing I’m very careful to do is keep blogging a pleasure. The main way I do this is by writing when I’m feeling inspired: if the writing doesn’t flow easily, blogging starts to feel like an obligation… and while I have no concrete evidence of this, I suspect it makes the posts less interesting to read, too. If I’m not feeling inspired and haven’t updated much that week, I’ll try to find something else around the net that I think will be of interest to my audience and share that with them instead.

What advice do you have for other bloggers?

Don’t feel like you have to get it right immediately. Sure, the internet sticks around forever, so you want to think before you post, but blogging is something you learn by doing just like anything else, and chances are it will take you a while to find your best blogging voice. (It took me a while, and I’d been writing on the net for nearly 10 years and writing professionally for three when I started. And I’m still learning.) Experiment until you find that perfect intersection of what you love, what feels authentic for you, and what people respond to.

 

And finally, where do you see yourself, writing-wise, in the future?

I’d like to just keep on doing what I do now, only on a bigger and better level, with all the aspects of my work (journalism, blogging, books) feeding into one another.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman].

Fluffy Friday: I Am (Cat)Woman, Hear Me Purr.

So this weekend is Halloween, which just so happens to be my birthday (technically, it’s November 2), and for the third year running I am throwing a Halloween party. Most of my guests’ costumes will be a surprise to me, but I’ve had my heart set on Catwoman since the beginning of the year, and everyone knows it. And what better to inspire me than these different incarnations of Batman’s foe? And a special thanks to my friend Suzie, who dressed as one of the hottest Catwomen I’ve seen!

Happy Halloween!