On (Rest of the) Net.

Rachel Hills’ TEDx Talk on the sex myth, the topic of her upcoming book of the same name. [YouTube]

Defending The Onion‘s Chris-Brown-”I-Always-Thought-Rihanna-Was-the-Woman-I’d-Beat-to-Death” joke. [The Frisky]

Stop calling Amanda Bynes crazy. [TheVine]

What did Tony Abbott mean when he said “women of calibre” should be encouraged to have children and should feminists be speaking out in favour of the Coalition’s superior paid parental leave scheme? [Daily Life]

“Panels Full of Women”: on fetishising female news voices. [News Junkee]

Debunking the prevalence of sex-selective abortions in Australia. [Daily Life]

“See a Woman Reading? Leave Her Alone.” The perils of reading and subsequent street harassment. [Gender Focus]

The Great Gatsby doesn’t do the “newly liberated” flapper justice. [Collectors Weekly]

Manic pixie dream guy? [Nerve]

The sexism of Star‘s Most Annoying Celebrities list. [The Times Magazine]

Denmark’s latest televisual offering: women stripping naked in front of a panel of two men who critique their bodies. Obviously, this is a crazy and sexist idea for a TV show, but is it any crazier or more sexist than, say, Snog Marry Avoid? Both have an underlying message that women aren’t good enough, with one referring to the naked body whilst the other takes aim at how and with what a woman cloaks herself. Your thoughts? [Bust]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

oz-great-powerful-rachel-weisz-mila-kunis

Considering Frank L. Baum was writing about Dorothy and Oz over one hundred years ago and those tales were more progressive than Oz the Great & Powerful paints a pretty bleak picture of women in Hollywood. [Film.com]

“Vale Girls Gone Wild.” [Daily Life]

Division of household labour between couples. [Jezebel]

On male vanity. [Jezebel]

Celebrity gossip as anthropological experiment: why gossiping about John Travolta’s sexual orientation, whether or not Rihanna should take back Chris Brown and Kristen Stewart’s motivations for cheating on Robert Pattinson tells us more about us as people that in does about celebrities. [YouTube]

AFL fandom: women need not apply. [Erin Riley]

Using “Abortion Humour” to destigmatise it. [Daily Life]

Is My Kitchen Rules racist? [Daily Life]

I was a Sweet Valley High ghostwriter:

“The O[xford] E[nglish] D[ictionary] says the word ‘ghostwriter’ was first used in the 1920s to mean a ‘hack’ hired to write another person’s story. OK, hack, then. So be it. But a hack-in-demand. A hack they wanted. A type-A hack, the Elizabeth Wakefield of hackdom!” [The Kenyon Review]

If you’re a woman, particularly of a minority, carrying condoms in New York City, watch out: you could be arrested for prostitution. I’d better clean out my handbag before I jet off there in October, then… [Vice]

“Anne Hathaway, Ourselves”: why Jennifer Lawrence is your cool bestie, and why you are awkward Anne. [Jezebel]

Does it really matter if you do or don’t call yourself a feminist, as long as you’re advancing feminist causes? Hmm… I still think it’s really important to call yourself a feminist if you believe in and are advancing feminist causes, because it emphasises that gender equality (hell, equality of any kind) isn’t a dirty notion. But who knows? Maybe in the future we won’t need to call ourselves feminists because everything we’re working for will just be part of daily life… [Jezebel]

The Feminine Mystique, 50 years on. [NYTimes]

Image via Ace Showbiz.

12 Trends of 2012.

Girls (Who Run the World).

girls

So misogyny may be running wild in the real world, but on TV, girls are calling the shots. We’ve had a bevvy of shows with “girl/s” both in the title and the storylines this year, with 2 Broke Girls and New Girl carrying their success over from 2011. While a lot of the subject matter is problematic, both shows have women carrying the comedy. Which brings us to just plain Girls, which is the brainchild of actor, writer and director Lena Dunham. Girls is not without its problems, either, but its portrayal of young urban women is almost faultless. Rounding out the representation of leading ladies in 2012 we have Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23, Homeland, Revenge, The Mindy Project, Are You There, Chelsea?, Smash, GCB (farewell!), Scandal, Nurse JackieVeep, Emily Owens, M.D., Whitney, The Good Wife and Hart of Dixie.

“Call Me Maybe”.

Until “Gangnam Style” came along, the YouTube Zeitgeist was dominated by one runaway success: Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. Justin Bieber’s protégé came out of nowhere with the catchiest song of the year, which was subsequently covered by the guys from Harvard’s baseball team, Barack Obama and the Cookie Monster! Talk about diversity!

2012: Apocalypse Now.

seaside heights rollercoaster

2012 was the year of the apocalypse, with the 21st of December long determined by the Mayans (or Mayan conspiracy theorists) as the day the world ends. You know, until the 7th of December tried to steal its thunder as the apparent recalculated date. Apart from the natural disasters, warfare and massacres, the 21st passed without a nuclear bombing, ice age or attitudinal shift, putting rest to the apocalypse panic. Until the next rapture, anyway…

Shit ___ Say.

It started with a sexist albeit funny YouTube video of a guy in a wig quoting “Shit Girls [Apparently] Say”, which snowballed into “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls”, “Shit New Yorkers Say”, “Shit Christians Say to Jews” and “Shit Nobody Says”. Cue offence.

Snow White.

snow white kristen stewart

Snow White was everywhere this year: Mirror Mirror, Snow White & the Hunstman, Once Upon a Time… Note: overexposure isn’t necessarily a good thing. In fact, I hated Mirror Mirror and Once Upon a Time, and Snow White & the Huntsman was such a snooze-fest I can barely remember what happened (not including Kristen Stewart’s affair with director Rupert Sanders).

50 Shades of Grey.

fifty-shades-of-grey

On the one hand, E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey has singlehandedly revived the flailing publishing industry, so that’s a good thing. But on the other, it has falsely lulled its legions of (mostly female) fans into a state of apparent sexual empowerment: it’s a book about sex targeted towards women, so that means we’re empowered and we don’t need feminism anymore, right?

Oh, how wrong you Anastasia and Christian fans are…

“Gangnam Style”.

The Macarena of the 21st century, Psy’s horse dance took the world by storm, being performed in conjunction with Mel B on The X Factor, with Hugh Jackman in his Wolverine gloves, on Glee and at many a wedding, 21st birthday and Christmas party.

Misogyny.

Misogyny has long been the focus of feminists, but the word and its meaning really reached fever pitch this year.

After Julia Gillard’s scathing Question Time takedown of Tony Abbott and his sexist ways, people everywhere were quick to voice their opinion on her courage and/or hypocrisy. At one end of the spectrum, it could be said that Gillard finally had enough of the insidious sexist bullshit so many women in the workforce face on a daily basis and decided to say something about it, while at the other, many argued that the Labor party were crying sexism in a bid to smooth over the Peter Slipper slip up.

Julia Baird wrote last month in Sunday Life:

“Her electric speech on misogyny in parliament went beyond the sordid political context to firmly press a button on the chest of any woman who has been patronised, sidelined, dismissed or abused. It crackled across oceans, and, astonishingly, her standing went up in the polls, defying political wisdom that no woman would benefit from publicly slamming sexism.”

Whatever the motivation behind the speech, it went viral, with Twitter blowing up, The New Yorker writing that U.S. politicians could take a page out of Gillard’s book when it comes to their legislative hatred of all things female , laypeople bringing “misogyny” into their everyday lexicon, and Macquarie Dictionary using the momentum to broaden the word’s definition.

Kony.

jason russell kony 2012

The viral doco that had millions of people rushing to plaster their neighbourhood in “Kony 2012” posters on 20th of April to little effect (the campaign’s goal was to catch Joseph Kony by years end) illustrated our obsession with social media, armchair activism and supporting the “cool” charities, not the thousands of worthy charities out there who could actually use donations to help their cause, not to produce YouTube videos and work the press circuit.

I’m Not a Feminist, But…

623f33dd5b56b295355e315cadf9d8a0

While Tony Abbott is clamouring to call himself a feminist to gain electoral favour despite the abovementioned misogyny saga, it seems famous women can’t declare their anti-feminism fast enough.

First we had new mother and Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer jumping at the chance to shun feminism despite the fact that without it she wouldn’t be where she is today. My favourite anti-feminist campaigner Taylor Swift said she doesn’t think of herself as a feminist because she “was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.” Um, Tay? That’s what feminism is, love.

Then there’s Katy Perry, who won’t let the whipped cream-spurting bra fool you: “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women.” Right then.

Garnering less attention, but just as relevantly, was Carla Bruni-Sarkozy asserting that feminism is a thing only past generations need concern themselves with, while in an interview with MamaMia last week, Deborah Hutton also denounced her feminism.

Cronulla.

the-shire

The cronies from Sutherland Shire were all over our boxes, primarily on Channel Ten, this year. There was the widely panned Being Lara Bingle, the even worse Shire, and the quintessential Aussie drama set in the ’70s, Puberty Blues.

While these shows assisted in shedding a different light on the suburb now synonymous with race riots, it’s not necessarily a positive one, with The Shire being cancelled and Being Lara Bingle hanging in the balance.

White Girls in Native American Headdresses.

original

This one really reared its racist head towards the end of the year, right around the festivities of Halloween and Thanksgiving.We had No Doubt “Looking Hot Racist” and Karlie Kloss donning a headdress for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, in addition to the cultural appropriation of VS’s “Go East” lingerie line, Gala Darling’s headdress furore and Chris Brown dressed as a Middle Eastern terrorist for Halloween.

You’d think we were heading into 1953, not 2013.

Related: Posts Tagged “New Girl”.

2 Broke Girls Aren’t So Broke That They’d Turn to Sex Work.

Posts Tagged “Girls”.

Posts Tagged “Smash”.

Feminism, Barbeque & Good Christian Bitches.

Mirror Mirror Review.

Was Kristen Stewart’s Public Apology Really Necessary?

50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James Review.

Hating Kony is Cool.

Taylor Swift: The Perfect Victim.

Whipped Cream Feminism: The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

The Dire Shire.

Shaming Lara Bingle.

Is Gwen Stefani Racist?

The Puberty Blues Give Way to Feminism.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Why We Need to Keep Talking About the White Girls on Girls.

[io9] Why is Everybody Obsessed with Snow White Right Now?

[The Age] What Women Want.

[The New Yorker] Ladylike: Julia Gillard’s Misogyny Speech.

[Jezebel] Does it Matter if Marissa Mayer Doesn’t Think She’s a Feminist?

[Jezebel] Katy Perry, Billboard’s Woman of the Year, is “Not a Feminist”.

[MamaMia] Meet the Women at Our Dinner Table: Deborah Hutton.

[Daily Life] Carla Bruni’s Vogue Interview has Rough Landing.

[Racialicious] Nothing Says Native American Heritage Month Like White Girls in Headdresses.

[Racialicious] Victoria’s Secret Does it Again: When Racism Meets Fashion.

[Jezebel] Karlie Kloss as a Half-Naked “Indian” & Other Absurdities from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

[xoJane] Fear & Loathing in the Comments Section… And Some Clarity.

[HuffPo] Chris Brown Halloween Costume: Singer Tweets Picture of Himself Dressed Up as Terrorist for Rihanna’s Party.

Images via Collider, Fox News Latino, io9, November Grey, ABC, Now Public, Ten.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

The YouTube makeup tutorial as public service announcement. [Jezebel, MamaMia]

After ABC’s Four Corners‘ exposé on the Catholic Church’s child sex abuse cover-up, Sarah Grant asserts that “I’m Catholic & I’m Ashamed.” As so she should be. [MamaMia]

Why the “I’m not like other girls” argument is patriarchal bullshit:

“The real meaning of ‘I’m not like the other girls’ is, I think, ‘I’m not the media’s image of what girls should be.’ Well, very, very few of us are. Pop culture wants to tell us that we’re all shallow, backstabbing, appearance-obsessed shopaholics without a thought in our heads beyond cute boys and cuter handbags. It’s a lie—a flat-out lie—and we need to recognize it and say so instead of accepting that judgment as true for other girls, but not for you.

“What I’m trying to say is, There are as many ways to be ‘girly’ as there are girls in this world. There are always going to be people out there telling you that if you like things pop culture tells you are girly, you’re stupid, and that if you claim to like things pop culture tells you are guy stuff, you’re lying. And what I’m saying is that all these people are full of crap.” [Claudia Gray's Blog]

Famous women who’ve used their sexuality to get ahead and why we somehow see this as oppression. Can’t a girl make the conscious choice to exploit her sexuality and it not mean she’s a victim of the patriarchy? [The Frisky]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes in defence of Hugo Schwyzer’s inclusion in feminism. Brilliant; it’s kind of what I wish I had written.

On Katherine Heigl’s failed career and women in Hollywood:

“Much has been said… about how Heigl herself has created the fiasco that has become her career—her alleged difficult behaviour on set, her unpopular public statements about the projects she’s involved in, her perceived irritability—but this has more to do with media gender bias than Heigl herself. For instance, Daniel Craig and Matt Damon have recently taken to making increasingly brash public statements about projects they’ve worked on, their personal politics and views on modern society—and no one has criticized them, questioned their box-office viability or used their gender to explain their remarks. Like Sean Penn, they’re men in an industry dominated by men—and unless they’re saying something overtly racist, they can say just about whatever they like, and in the case of Charlie Sheen, they might even be applauded for it.” [HuffPo]

Rick Morton attempts to dissect the “frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex” that is Rick Santorum. [MamaMia]

Madonna and black culture. [Steven Stanley]

The latest trend in YouTubing: asking viewers if you’re ugly. [Jezebel]

Rachel Hills on the launch of Sunday Life’s daily website, Daily Life, its viral pet name #DailyWife, and how women’s issues are relegated to the “lifestyle” pages:

“… I’ve wondered why everything pertaining to women is classified under ‘Life and Style’, and I’ve wondered why ‘lifestyle journalism’ is so often boiled down to advertorial for fashion and beauty products (answer: probably because the associated advertising is what pays for writers like me). I’ve wondered if the fact that writing related to gender politics is usually published in ‘Life and Style’ or colour magazine supplements contributes to the perception that… female journalists write pointless ‘pap’.” [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Why atheism is akin to being a pariah in the U.S. [Slate]

And now for the Chris Brown portion of the program…

Russell Simmons is a Brown apologist and compares his assault on Rihanna to the problems of Disney kids. Yeah, except Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Demi Lovato never hurt anyone but themselves. [Global Grind]

Why Brown’s behaviour sucks, this time from a psychological point of view. [Slate]

We failed the young ladies who tweeted they’d let Chris Brown beat them:

“We failed you when Charlie Sheen was allowed and eagerly encouraged to continue to star in movies and have a hit television show that basically printed him money after he shot Kelly Preston ‘accidentally’ and he hit a UCLA student in the head when she wouldn’t have sex with him and he threatened to kill his ex-wife Denise Richards and he held a knife to his ex-wife Brooke Mueller’s throat. We failed you when Roman Polanski received an Oscar even though he committed a crime so terrible he hasn’t been able to return to the United States for more than thirty years. We failed you when Sean Penn fought violently with Madonna and continued a successful, critically acclaimed career and also received an Oscar.

“We fail you every single time a (famous) man treats a woman badly, without legal, professional, or personal consequence.” [The Rumpus]

One of my favourite professional wrestlers, straightedger CM Punk, challenges Brown to fight someone his own size. [Jezebel]

And ANOTHER stand up guy challenges Brown to a fight! [Deadspin]

12 Posts of Christmas: In Defence of Rachel Berry as Feminist.

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.

I’m taking this final 12-Posts-of-Christmas opportunity to squeeze two Rachel Berry-related posts into the one. Think of it as one last Early Bird gift to you.

The first post was written “In Defence of Rachel Berry”, while the second explores the character as a feminist one. You can access the original posts here and here, respectively.

In the first season of Glee, Rachel Berry was introduced as an attention- and approval-seeking know-it-all diva, who sticks a gold star next to her name on the New Directions’ sign-up sheet because that’s what she sees herself as. Season two showed the glee clubber soften her resolve a bit, realising that she’s still only in high school, and has her post-high school years to carve out a Broadway career and have the world see her as the star she knows she is. The season final saw her choose a relationship with Finn Hudson in her senior year at McKinley High, despite having to leave him to head to New York when she graduates.

Not all young girls have to wrangle their feelings for the school jock whilst contemplating a move to the big city to make their dreams come true, but many of Rachel’s problems are shared by the show’s audience.

In the most recent Lady Gaga-themed episode, Rachel struggles to accept her “Jewish nose” and considers rhinoplasty. She also strives for the acceptance of her New Directions band mates, and to be seen as fashionable and popular.

It’s in the character’s nature to be highly-strung, goal-oriented and ambitious, so it’s not likely she’ll change any time soon. And why should she? While there are certainly other young women out there who identify more with the saccharine Quinn Fabray, the sassy soul sisters Santana Lopez and Mercedes Jones, or badass Lauren Zizes, there are plenty who see Rachel as their Glee counterpart, myself included.

A recent New York Times article by Carina Chocano praised the “relatable” and “realistically weak female character”, like Kristen Wigg’s Annie in Bridesmaids—“a jumble of flaws and contradictions”—over the “strong” one. “We don’t relate to [the weak character] despite the fact that she is weak, we relate to her because she is weak,” Chocano writes.

But what exactly does she mean by “weak”?

Pop culture commentator Dr. Karen Brooks notes that talented, beautiful, popular and successful female characters need to be broken down before they can be seen as relatable. “The more talented and beautiful you are, the greater the threat you pose and so ‘things’ are introduced to reduce that threat,” she says. Just look at the “women falling down” video on YouTube.

While Rachel’s had her fair share of setbacks, it seems Glee’s audience is finally beginning to understand her. “We’ve been given time to understand Rachel’s initially painful personality and to identify both her strengths and weaknesses. Her ambitions and drive haven’t shifted, but the context for understanding them has,” Brooks says.

“Rarely are unpleasant characters redeemed, they are simply ‘punished’, while the ‘good’ characters soar to impossible heights, not on the back of hard-work and self-belief, but usually [because of] a love interest and wishing hard. Rachel is a healthy and welcome exception to that,” Brooks continues.

So she’s an unlikely heroine we can all get behind, you might say? “A girl who reminds you of you,” as Chocano opines. An everywoman, if you will?

If Rachel Berry encourages more young women to see themselves as gold stars striving to have their accomplishments recognised, then so be it!

*

Last week I wrote in defence of Rachel Berry.

This week, I wanted to explore the character as a feminist one.

While Glee isn’t exactly known for its positive portrayals of women,people of colourthe disabled, or the gays, Rachel has managed to grow in spite of all this, and become somewhat of a feminist icon.

wrote that audiences have come to know and love Rachel not because her obnoxious know-it-all persona has changed, but because “We’ve been given time to understand Rachel’s initially painful personality and to identify both her strengths and weaknesses. Her ambitions and drive haven’t shifted, but the context for understanding them has,” as Dr. Karen Brooks reiterates.

Other bloggers have come to similar conclusions.

Leah Berkenwald at Jewesses With Attitude writes:

“I… have trouble with the vilification of Rachel Berry on a feminist level. How often do we dismiss women as ‘bossy,’ ‘know-it-all[s],’ or ‘control-freaks’ when their behavior would be interpreted as leadership, assertiveness, or courage if they were men?

“… In the right context, Rachel Berry’s personality would not seem ‘intolerable’ or ‘annoying’ so much as bad-ass, renegade, and hardcore.”

And Lady T, who used Rachel as her “Female Character of the Week” on The Funny Feministsaid:

“… The show wanted us to root for a girl who was ambitious, daring, and driven.”

It might be because I have been known to be seen as bossy, a know-it-all, a control-freak (just ask my new housemate!) and ambitious that I’m standing up for her, but just think of another feminist heroine in modern pop culture who could also be described using these words: Hermione Granger. The only difference is, she isn’t vilified for these attributes.

I have also been called ugly and a slut, not because I am ugly and a slut, but because these qualities are removed from the “‘good’ [female] character… [who] soars to impossible heights, not on the back of hard-work and self-belief, but usually [because of] a love interest and wishing hard.”

If you look back to the beginning of Glee, especially, Rachel was often deemed ugly. Now, anyone who’s seen Lea Michele knows she’s not exactly unconventionally attractive, but Rachel is characterised as this because she’s annoying. And she’s annoying because she stands up for herself, knows what she wants and how to get it. (From a racial point of view, she could also be seen as being “ugly” because of her Jewishness.)

Despite these inherently “unattractive” qualities, Rachel manages to snag her man, Finn, in what can be seen as typical Glee sexism and discrimination:

“‘I love her even though she’s shorter than Quinn and has small boobs and won’t put out and is loud and annoying.’ 

“The show wanted to make me believe that Finn was doing Rachel some grand favor by simply being with her at all.”

On the other hand, it can be seen as a poignant take on teenage life that the underdog is always being compared to the most popular girl in school: Quinn Fabray.

If Rachel is Glee’s feminist heroine, Quinn is her polar opposite. She has had next to no character development, which leads to her motivations changing week to week.

In “Original Song” she tore Rachel down, telling her to get over her “schoolgirl fantasy happy ending” with Finn, who would never leave Lima, taking over Burt Hummel’s mechanics business, with Quinn, a real estate agent.

But in “Born This Way”, she was “broken down” by her fat past coming back to haunt her, to come across as more “relatable”.

Sure, Rachel’s had her fair share of being “broken down” (being dumped and subsequently egged by Jesse St. James, being publicly broken up with by Finn, getting slushied… I sense a food theme here.), but in the grand Glee scheme of things, she’s actually doing pretty well for a female character.

Now, if only we can get Mercedes a boyfriend

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] In Defence of Rachel Berry.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Rachel Berry as Feminist.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message inGlee’s “Born This Way” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Do “Strong Female Characters” Remind You of You?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Problem with Glee.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Original Song” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Brown Eyed Girl.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Duets” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Sookie as Feminist? Hear Her Roar.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Do “Strong Female Characters” Remind You of You?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] SlutWalk.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Slut-Shaming as Defence Mechanism.

Elsewhere: [The New York Times] A Plague of Strong Female Characters.

[Bitch] The Transcontinental Disability Choir: Glee-ful Appropriation.

[Jewesses with Attitude] Why Rachel Berry Deserves Our Compassion.

[Huffington Post] Hermione Granger: The Heroine Women Have Been Waiting For.

[Feministing] Pretty Ugly: Can We Please Stop Pretending That Beautiful Women Aren’t Beautiful?

[The Funny Feminist] Female Character of the Week: Rachel Berry.

[Jezebel] Why Won’t Glee Give Mercedes a Boyfriend?

Image via Wet Paint.

TV: In Defence of Rachel Berry.

In the first season of Glee, Rachel Berry was introduced as an attention- and approval-seeking know-it-all diva, who sticks a gold star next to her name on the New Directions’ sign-up sheet because that’s what she sees herself as. Season two showed the glee clubber soften her resolve a bit, realising that she’s still only in high school, and has her post-high school years to carve out a Broadway career and have the world see her as the star she knows she is. The season final saw her choose a relationship with Finn Hudson in her senior year at McKinley High, despite having to leave him to head to New York when she graduates.

Not all young girls have to wrangle their feelings for the school jock whilst contemplating a move to the big city to make their dreams come true, but many of Rachel’s problems are shared by the show’s audience.

In the most recent Lady Gaga-themed episode, Rachel struggles to accept her “Jewish nose” and considers rhinoplasty. She also strives for the acceptance of her New Directions band mates, and to be seen as fashionable and popular.

It’s in the character’s nature to be highly-strung, goal-oriented and ambitious, so it’s not likely she’ll change any time soon. And why should she? While there are certainly other young women out there who identify more with the saccharine Quinn Fabray, the sassy soul sisters Santana Lopez and Mercedes Jones, or badass Lauren Zizes, there are plenty who see Rachel as their Glee counterpart, myself included.

A recent New York Times article by Carina Chocano praised the “relatable” and “realistically weak female character”, like Kristen Wigg’s Annie in Bridesmaids—“a jumble of flaws and contradictions”—over the “strong” one. “We don’t relate to [the weak character] despite the fact that she is weak, we relate to her because she is weak,” Chocano writes.

But what exactly does she mean by “weak”?

Pop culture commentator Dr. Karen Brooks notes that talented, beautiful, popular and successful female characters need to be broken down before they can be seen as relatable. “The more talented and beautiful you are, the greater the threat you pose and so ‘things’ are introduced to reduce that threat,” she says. Just look at the “women falling down” video on YouTube.

While Rachel’s had her fair share of setbacks, it seems Glee’s audience is finally beginning to understand her. “We’ve been given time to understand Rachel’s initially painful personality and to identify both her strengths and weaknesses. Her ambitions and drive haven’t shifted, but the context for understanding them has,” Brooks says.

“Rarely are unpleasant characters redeemed, they are simply ‘punished’, while the ‘good’ characters soar to impossible heights, not on the back of hard-work and self-belief, but usually [because of] a love interest and wishing hard. Rachel is a healthy and welcome exception to that,” Brooks continues.

So she’s an unlikely heroine we can all get behind, you might say? “A girl who reminds you of you,” as Chocano opines. An everywoman, if you will?

If Rachel Berry encourages more young women to see themselves as gold stars striving to have their accomplishments recognised, then so be it!

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Born This Way” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Do “Strong Female Characters” Remind You of You?

Elsewhere: [The New York Times] A Plague of Strong Female Characters.

Image via Noelle’s Means of Escape.

Battle of the Friday Anthems: Rebecca Black VS. Katy Perry.

Black’s preternatural “Friday” has been removed from YouTube due to copyright reasons, so it looks like we’ll just have to get our fix of the so-bad-she’s-good teenager in “Last Friday Night (TGIF)”, in which she makes a cameo, along with Glee’s Darren Criss and Kevin McHale, Kenny G as Uncle Kenny, the Hanson brothers, and Corey Feldman and Debbie Gibson as Kathy Beth Terry’s parents!

So it turns out it’s not a battle of the Fridays, but a joining of the day before the weekend that everybody’s looking forward to (or however the ditty goes!) forces!

TGIF!

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Who’s the Copycat Now, Katy Perry?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Whipped Cream Feminism: The Underlying Message in Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” Video.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Katy P. VS. Lady G.

Images via YouTube.

Magazine Review: The Big Issue, 24 May–6 June 2011.

I’ve been making an effort to pick up The Big Issue whenever I can, despite Kylie Minogue being on this edition’s cover.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Kylie, but I feel like she’s been in the media for that long that there’s not much more to write about her, and I’m certainly not interested in reading about her.

While I didn’t read the cover story on her (p. 18–21), most everything else in this edition of The Big Issue is a great read.

There’s another feature (p. 14–16) on the chances of Barack Obama being reelected in 2012 in the aftermath of the Osama bin Laden assassination that’s well worth the $5 cover price, remembering that half the proceeds go to the vendor.

Photographer Jay Banning’s series Bureaucratics which profiles public servants, their offices and their salaries from all over the world, is an eye-opening piece by Michael Green (p. 24–27). The exhibition will hit Melbourne in 2012.

Regular columnists Mic Looby writes on the longevity of Marcel Proust’s hefty tomes in the Twitter age (p. 12) and Fiona Scott-Norman on global gay rights in the wake of Uganda’s Kill the Gays bill being abolished (p. 29). Meanwhile, Jake Cleland laments the “fame via YouTube” trend (Rebecca Black, he’s looking at you) (p. 32–33).

The issue is rounded out by the world’s fascination with the Big Brother-esque televised shenanigans of the Logies and the royal wedding in the same weekend (p. 42), and Australia’s fascination with “The Sickie” (p. 46).

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Big Issue Review, 1–14 March, 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Time: The End of bin Laden, May 20, 2011 Review.

Magazines: Forget People. Time’s Most Influential Things.

I always enjoy Joel Stein’s satirical take on Time’s 100 Most Influential People at the back of the magazine.

Here, some of his picks for this year’s most influential things:

1. Earthquakes.

2. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant’s reactor core.

5. & 6. Protests and Tweets helped bring down Hosni Mubarak.

7. Diplomatic cables, á la WikiLeaks.

13. The drug called Charlie Sheen.

16. Home. “No one goes out anymore”.

20. Birth certificates.

24. Eyjafjallajökull. The Icelandic volcano, for those of you who need refreshing.

29. Justin Bieber’s hair clippings.

33. The royal wedding.

34. Korans. “Ironically, there are rarely book burnings in cold climates.”

36. Auto-tune. “Turning normal 13-year-olds into YouTube music sensations.”

38. Meat desses.

47. White-girl problems.

52. Jeggings.

56. Tigers. “Amy Chua’s tiger mom: Charlie Sheen’s tiger blood; Margaux Fragoso’s memoir Tiger Tiger; Robin Williams’ playing a tiger on Broadway…”

67. Friday.

70. Kate Middleton’s Issa engagement dress.

76. Veils. I believe the correct terminology would be the niqab, batula, burqa or chadri.

81. Supermoon.

82. 3-D everything.

[Time] The Time 100 Most Influential Things in the World.

[Jezebel] Know Your Veils: A Guide to Head Coverings.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Michelle Obama Combating Childhood Obesity Makes Her One of Time’s Most Influential People.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Tiger Mom Must Be Doing Something Right. She Made Time’s 100 Most Influential People List.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Lady Most Likely: Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Royal Wedding: The Other Event of the Decade?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Pretty Girl Bullshit.

Images via Snopes, Zurmat, Ald Talks.