Amy Schumer Feels Pretty Because She Is*.

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*The following contains mild spoilers for the film I Feel Pretty.

Amy Schumer is known for her scathing comedy sketches about campus rape, gendered violence in video games and ageing in Hollywood. Two sketches from her comedy show Inside Amy Schumer, one about the sexism of the One Direction anthem “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful”, the other castigating women who put themselves down, are particularly inextricable from Schumer’s public persona and the scathing cultural criticism that made her famous.

Amy Schumer is also known in Hollywood for two major movies that fly in the face of the expectations of women she skewered as a sketch comedian. Her big screen breakout, 2015’s Trainwreck, followed the natural rom-com story arc of the love of an honest man putting an end to the hard-partying, commitment-phobic ways of Schumer’s protagonist. Her most recent feature film, I Feel Pretty, premiering this week, focuses on the apparent ugliness of Schumer’s character, Renee, and the brain injury that results in self-confidence. In the stereotypical grand gesture scene, Renee goes to her boyfriend Ethan’s apartment for the first time since awaking from her confidence coma and dumping him, because how could a schlubby guy love someone as conventionally attractive as Schumer. When Renee realises Ethan can see her picking her nose through the video intercom at his apartment building, he reassures her, saying “I’ve always seen you.” And voila, she’s cured of of her bad body image and low self-worth, just as One Direction prophecised!

Women who look like Amy Schumer suffer from low self-esteem and body dysmorphia in droves, and those are completely valid concerns that are worth exploring. What I would have liked to see even more is someone with physical attributes that society doesn’t deem attractive navigating the world.

Where’s the heavily marketed blockbuster about fatness, or colourism, or disability, or transness by people who experience these things? I would love to see an adaptation of Roxane Gay’s memoir Hunger, about her struggles with her body stemming from sexual assault, on the big screen, as I would Gabourey Sidebe’s memoir This is Just My Face. Why has Lupita Nyong’o seldom been in anything other than Black Panther since her Oscar-winning role in 12 Years a Slave? I’m sure she and other dark skinned actresses would have a wealth of knowledge to bring to roles about “normal” women, but apparently only slightly chubby white women who can still rock a miniskirt like Schumer fit into that rigid category. Why not a movie starring Liz Carr, a disability rights activist and wheelchair user who acts on the British crime series Silent Witness? Or a big screen adaptation of the SBS On Demand series Homecoming Queens, created by Michelle Law and Chloe Reeson, about their alopecia and cancer diagnoses, respectively. How about a movie by and about Lizzie Velasquez, whose congenital disease preventing her from gaining weight would be quite the spin on Schumer’s schtick.

Transgender author and media personality Janet Mock wrote last year about the pretty privilege that comes with “passing” as a cisgender woman. “People who are considered pretty are more likely to be hired, have higher salaries, and are less likely to be found guilty and are sentenced less harshly.” As Renee takes a demotion from the web team for makeup company Lily LeClaire to work in a lower-paying role as an administration assistant because she suddenly feels presentable enough to work in a front-of-house position, it would seem, as a white, blonde, able-bodied, cisgender woman, she’s already benefiting from the pretty privilege Mock writes about. “Pretty privilege is also conditional and is not often extended to women who are trans, black and brown, disabled, older, and/or fat,” she continues. Transparent actress Trace Lysette also spoke about her previous preoccupation with heteronormative beauty standards on a recent podcast, and how not being “clocked” as trans protected her from becoming one of the disproportionate trans women murdered in her country. Now those are stories far more valuable than watching Amy Schumer realise she was pretty all along.

Given Schumer’s history of cultural appropriation and racism, it’s not surprising that she thinks her experience is paramount to all of the people whose experiences she’s used as a joke and to further her agenda. Schumer has come under fire multiple times for her racist stand up jokes and tweets. Even when she doesn’t explicitly intend to “play with race”, as she called it in her defence, she still manages to chafe, as with her interpretation of Beyonce’s black women empowerment anthem “Formation” with Goldie Hawn for their movie Mother/Daughter. Schumer’s retort to that came in the form of a near-nude Instagram photo, further evidence that I Feel Pretty is disingenuous.

“It’s unbecoming to acknowledge your attractiveness, so it creates a silence around pretty privilege that only elevates the competitiveness and divisiveness between women who are told we must compare, compete, and measure up in a lookist culture,” writes Mock, in a far more eloquent and considered examination of this phenomenon than I Feel Pretty is and, indeed, hearkens back to Schumer’s earlier work, the Inside Amy Schumer sketch “Compliments”.

The creative license Schumer was given in a Hollywood blockbuster such as I Feel Pretty obviously differs drastically from her cable sketch show with far lower stakes, allowing her to explore body image with more nuance. Unfortunately, this results in a short-sighted message of empowerment for women who look like Schumer: she can “feel pretty” because she is pretty by traditional metrics.

Related: Thanks for Telling Me What Makes Me Beautiful, ‘Cause I Just Wasn’t Sure.

Elsewhere: [Facebook] Inside Amy Schumer: Football Town Nights.

[Critical Commons] Inside Amy Schumer: Military Video Game & Victim Blaming.

[YouTube] Comedy Central UK: Last Fuckable Day.

[Comedy Central] Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup.

[Vimeo] Compliments.

[Allure] Being Pretty is a Privilege, But We Refuse to Acknowledge It.

[The Cut] Transparent Actress Trace Lysette on Her Online Presence.

[WaPo] Don’t Believe Her Defenders. Amy Schumer’s Jokes Are Racist.

[Digital Spy] Amy Schumer Slammed After Offensive & Racist Joke Tweet About Asians From Years Ago Resurfaces.

[The Washington Times] Amy Schumer Called Racist, Accused of Cultural Appropriation in Parody of Beyonce’s “Formation”.

[Instagram] Amy Schumer.

Image via Cinefilos Anonimos.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

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I wrote about why World Wrestling Entertainment needs a women’s Money in the Bank match. [SBS Zela]

Who’s afraid of all-woman alliances on reality TV? [The Establishment]

Meghan Trainor’s blaccent and white artists talking black. [MTVNews]

How Keeping Up with the Kardashian’s is falling behind their Snapchats, Instagrams and personal apps. [MTVNews]

Also: On Edith Wharton and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. [Guernica]

On the public nature of black deaths and the need for lynching memorials. [Lenny Letter]

Blackface is the true face of racism in America. [Fusion]

What role did social media play in the murder of Christina Grimmie? [Rolling Stone]

Image via Raw Breakdown Project.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

beyonce superbowl black power

Is “Formation” a pro-capitalist and -respectability anthem? [Death & Taxes]

Reading celebrities reading books. [Kill Your Darlings]

Why we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Here Come the Habibs. [Guardian]

Return of Kings and pick up artists are domestic terrorists. [Daily Life]

Is Coldplay’s “Hymn for the Weekend” video culturally appropriative or orientalist? [Colorlines]

The pinkwashing of breast cancer hurts men, too. [Jezebel]

I have a few pieces featured in the latest Down Under Feminists Carnival along with goodies from the Australian and New Zealand feminist blogosphere. [Zero at the Bone]

ICYMI: “Are Divas Finally Being Given a Chance?”

Image via Twitter.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

I’m getting straight back into it in the New Year, with pieces about abuse in Jessica Jones, what World Wrestling Entertainment can learn from Jem & the Holograms‘ flop and why its spate of injuries might be a good thing for other wrestlers. [Bitch Flicks, The Spectacle of Excess, Cageside Seats]

On selfies. [Matter]

Forget the manbun. The latest in men’s hair styling are manbraids. And they’re cultural appropriation. [Ms. Magazine]

Why is there a statute of limitations for rape and sexual assault? [NYTimes]

Erin Riley kicking goals (mixing metaphors, I know) with her piece on the Chris Gayle incident being a symptom of a much larger problem with sexism in sport. [Daily Life]

Mens mental health is important but not at the expense of the women and children they abuse and kill. [Daily Life]

There’s been plenty of coverage of Cole Miller’s death by one punch, but what about Indigenous man Trevor Duroux’s death of the same? [New Matilda]

The history of glitter. [Broadly]

The history of toplessness. [Broadly]

And the history of the crystal ball. [Broadly]

2015 was the year of interracial relationships on TV. [Fusion]

Has Clive Palmer had a feminist awakening? [Junkee]

Even teaching a course on Beyonce doesn’t guarantee job security. [WaPo]

Why we need to talk about the sexual assaults in Germany over New Years—and the race of the attackers. [New Statesman]

Should wives be held accountable for their husband’s bad behaviour? [The Cut]

And what about Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual assault of a woman in 1978? [Jezebel]

It’s great that you want to read books by more diverse authors, but do you have to tell the whole world about it? Just do it. [Jezebel]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

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Is there too much crying in women’s wrestling? The very fact of this question being asked about women’s wrestling (never mind the fact that Ric Flair, widely considered to be one of the best wrestlers ever, cries at the drop of a hat) is inherently sexist. If anything, crying further inures fans to the emotion of the match and the storyline, helping to solidify current women’s wrestling, particularly in NXT, WWE’s developmental brand, as some of the best ever. [Forbes]

I asked whether World Wrestling Entertainment can rise above pinkvertising in their effort to Rise Above Cancer. [Cageside Seats]

What to say when someone inevitably dresses in a racist costume this Halloween. A few years ago I dressed as Tiger Lily for a pirate-themed Christmas party (as part of a larger, Peter Pan group costume). At the time, I believed I was within my rights to dress up as a Native American as I have Native American heritage. Now, however, as someone who identifies primarily as and benefits from being white, I don’t think I’d appropriate that culture in the way I did. Sure, my Native heritage is an interesting part of my history, but I’m not part of that culture and haven’t taken the initiative to learn more about it so I shouldn’t benefit from it for the sake of a costume. [Native Appropriations]

Still on that topic, an interview with the CEO of silly, sexy Halloween costumes company, Yandy. [Maxim]

Two years ago, I had “A Very Manhattan Halloween”. I plan on doing the same next year.

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“Halloween is the one night of the year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it”: the hyper-sexualisation and -feminisation of Halloween costumes.

Scream QueensAmerican Horror Story: HotelAmerican Crime Story: Ryan Murphy must be stopped! [Salon]

A year of Beyonce’s silence. [The Fader]

Zoo Weekly has published its final issue. [Mumbrella]

Adam Goodes spoke to Honi Soit in his first interview since retiring from AFL about racism, his future and Indigenous inclusion in the Australian constitution.

Images via Sasha Banks, Total Sorority Move.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

The return of the teen girl movie. [Daily Life]

What Go Set a Watchman can teach us about contemporary racism. [WaPo]

But Atticus Finch’s racism isn’t a new thing. [New Republic]

The rise of porn gifs (NSFW). [Fusion]

Taylor Swift may have “Bad Blood” with some (most recently Nicki Minaj), but her “feminist selfies” with Karlie Kloss, Lena Dunham et al. shows what it’s like to be close to her. [LA Review of Books]

Speaking of Swift inserting herself into Minaj’s beef with the MTV VMAs for her groundbreaking videos being overlooked in this years’ nominations, it isn’t the first time Swift has both played the white, innocent victim and been at the centre of VMA controversy. [The Guardian, Kevin Allred]

The cultural appropriation of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and how we perpetuate it by watching it. [The Cut]

Is Lady Gaga normal now? [Vulture]

Let’s clear up that Planned Parenthood selling aborted foetuses nonsense. [xoJane]

The hacking of cheating website Ashley Madison isn’t morally any better than The Fappening. [Daily Life]

In the wake of Good Weekend cancelling an article on Caitlin Stasey because she wouldn’t pose nude for them, she’s taken to Jezebel to tell her side of the story in more than 140 characters.

We need to stop devaluing women’s sports. [New Republic]

Serena Williams is the seminal athlete. [The Nation]

When painful sex continues long after the first time. [Medium]

What it’s like to be an extra on Magic Mike XXL. [Cosmopolitan]

“Pony”, “Closer” and the significance of the strip club soundtrack. [Pitchfork]

How The Bachelorette is changing the way reality TV deals with sex. [Vulture]

Clementine Ford is writing a book! [Facebook]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

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The racial history behind Kim Kardashian’s latest viral photo shoot. [Jezebel]

Does Australia hate thinkers? [Womankind Magazine]

The cultural appropriation of the spirit animal. [The Atlantic]

I profiled the name on every Outback Championship Wrestling fans’ lips after his brutal ladder match two weeks ago, Adam “Brooksy” Brooks. [OCW]

The feminist tide is turning: could the Australian public be starting to give a shit about women? [Daily Life]

A post on a small Aussie music blog about the atrocity that is “Literally I Can’t” has gone viral thanks to Redfoo’s lawyers kicking up a stink. [Artshub]

We need to start calling female action stars… well, female action stars. [The Daily Dot]

Image via Go Fug Yourself.

 

The 76th Down Under Feminists Carnival.

Pop Culture.

I wrote about Katy Perry’s insistence on appropriating other cultures.

I’m also at Bitch Flicks writing about physical and mental health on Orange is the New Black.

Still with OITNB, Morello has such a fractured relationship with romance she’s in prison for stalking her faux-fiancé.

“I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Feminism!” [Bitch Flicks]

The racial and sexual politics of Hitch. [The Hairpin]

Clementine Ford writes about the Girls on Film Festival in Melbourne from the 12th to 14th of September: “Where are the men’s film festivals?!” [Daily Life]

Race & Religion.

Racism in the job network. [The Koori Woman]

Where was the Native American representation at this years’ San Diego ComicCon? [The Travelling Unicorn]

Racism in the digital age. [The Anti-Bogan]

Qantas’ Recognise campaign “seems to be little more than corporate endorsements and photo opportunities for powerful figures to prove how much they like us.” [Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist]

And she’s not the only one who’s got a problem with the campaign. [New Matilda]

Struggling to be a “traditional” Sudanese woman by a woman who has Sudanese heritage but was not raised there. [Redefining the Narrative]

“What is a Moderate Muslim, Anyway?” [Redefining the Narrative]

Navigating Islam and feminism in the 21st century. [Days Like Crazy Paving]

Evelyn Enduatta writes abouta pivotal time in the local history of my adoptive Yolŋu family…. [and] the introduction of wage labour relations in north-east Arnhem Land[;]… a case study in the nature and violence of alienation.” [Upswell]

“Just because you’re Aboriginal doesn’t mean you have to have an ‘Aboriginal’ job.” [ The Travelling Unicorn]

Violence Against Women. *trigger warning*

Clementine Ford sheds light on the savage beating of adult actress Christy Mack by her mixed martial arts fighter ex-boyfriend War Machine. [Daily Life]

There’s probably domestic violence in your workplace. [Women’s Agenda]

Examining the link between animal abuse and intimate partner violence. [SMH]

How liveable are our cities if women aren’t safe? [Daily Life]

Rape culture in politics. [The Hand Mirror]

Instead of devising beauty products that help women prevent their rapes, maybe we should be telling men not to rape. [National Union of Students Women’s Department]

LGBTQI*.

The tragic tale of Australia’s (alleged) first trans man. [Daily Life]

Thinking about trans identities in primary school. [Sal Gold Said So]

Sex & Relationships.

Are you putting out enough to justify your cost per (male partner’s) orgasm? [Daily Life]

“The kids are [having anal sex], let’s make sure they’re alright.” [Daily Life]

The infamous Brocklesnitch (aka Rebecca Shaw) on those “marriage vouchers”:

“Perhaps it might be more useful for the Government to focus more on things like housing affordability, availability of jobs, and letting young people access the welfare system rather than funnel millions of dollars into a counselling voucher scheme.” [SBS]

So Sam de Brito wrote a column about seeking the female orgasm and Junkee ridiculed it thusly.

Asexuality: the next sexual orientation frontier. [Cosmopolitan]

Physical & Mental Health *trigger warning*.

Going undercover as a surrogate mother. [Daily Life]

Correlating breast cancer with abortion discourages women from pursuing their reproductive rights and diminishes the devastation of breast cancer. [New Matilda]

Working with ichthyosis. [Carly Findlay]

In the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide asking RUOK is not the answer. [Culture, Nurture, Nature: Views, Reviews, Rants]

Another thoughtful response to Williams’ death. [The Hand Mirror]

Clem Bastow writes heartbreakingly about never being “enough”:

“You don’t tell your boyfriend, or your parents, or your friends, or your kind therapist that you’re thinking about all these things, because you figure it’s not worth being upset about after all these years, even though you are. You see people go through far worse things and continue the ‘It could have been much worse!’ charade, even though some days you feel so sad you want to lie down on the carpet for a week. Why can’t you just get over it? Why can’t you Think Positive About It All? Why would anyone write you a letter about such small things that it’s not worth being upset about, Dear Young Person?

“Young Person, you think a lot about all of these things. There are so many others: you laugh off your Bipolar 2 diagnosis as ‘the straight-to-video sequel to a real mental illness’; your plummeting weight during a two-year spell overseas is just ‘Los Angeles, lol!’; the nights you eat Vitamin C tablets for dinner are fine because ‘Other people are poorer’; the guy who makes you wear a horse-bit to bed is ‘great comedy material!’; the death of your dear dog at just five years of his young life ‘isn’t as bad as it would have been if he’d been around for 15 years, I guess.’ It never seems to be quite enough to be upset about, not really, truly upset, like some people have the right to be. Not poor enough, not depressed enough, not beset by grief enough, not abused enough.” [I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault]

Blindness in speculative fiction. [ A.C. Buchanan]

My Decision/Kei a au te Whakataunga is a New Zealand-based campaign to shed light on health care professionals who refuse to provide or refer productive health services. [The Hand Mirror]

And there’s no shame in making these health care professionals known so that people in need of reproductive health care don’t make the mistake of visiting them. [The Hand Mirror]

“Abortions Don’t Cause Cancer Any More Than Parties Do.” [The Conversation]

Women in the Workplace.

The problem with Lean In:

“There’s a bigger debate to be had here about whether care work is valued enough (it’s not), whether the needs of children are prioritised appropriately (they’re not), and whether the desire by both men and women to spend time with their children is accepted (it’s not), but let’s at least agree that eliminating child care struggles is crucial for undoing sexist gender-role divisions. Where women can’t get to work they can’t achieve personal career goals, but nor can they claim the kind of decision making power that comes with income.” [Daily Life]

Australia still has an equal pay problem. [Women’s Agenda]

On the persistence of the pay gap: from penal colony to glass ceiling. [UNSW School of Business]

Ban bossy, be the boss. [Daily Beast]

It’s all well and good to feature a panel about the politics of sex work as part of Sydney’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas, but perhaps it should, I don’t know, feature some sex workers? [Sex, Lies & Duct Tape]

Miscellaneous & General Feminism.

“Do not hold me to the standards that you have internalised. Do. Fucking. Not.” [Facebook]

Deborra-Lee Furness on Australia’s anti-adoption culture. [The Hoopla]

Melbourne schoolgirls were inspired to Kickstart their own “feminist collective” in the wake of Women Against Feminism and after “studying the character of ‘Curly’s Wife’ in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice & Men.” [ABC]

Helpful hints for overcoming Tall Poppy Syndrome. [No Award]

Friday Hoyden: Emma Goldman. [Hoyden About Town]

Diversity and rebellion in Life at 9. [Hoyden About Town]

How to home school a preschooler. [Free Range in Suburbia]

Five reasons why Women Against Feminism actually need feminism. [The Conversation]

Are men better writers than women? No, they just have more time to write. [Overland]

“Political correctness gone mad” is more about not being an asshole. [TheVine]

What Kevin Andrews’ speech at the World Congress of Families might have sounded like. [Brocklesnitch]

More on protesting the World Congress of Families. [Gladly, The Cross-Eyed Bear]

The problem with limited-edition, girl-focused Lego. [Hoyden About Town]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Peeling back perfection of Instagram:

“Do you want to know how many pictures I shot before I actually captured a photo that both accurately (and attractively) displayed how happy I was in this moment? 56. I hope you’re judging me, because I am.” [Bustle]

My piece on physical and mental health on Orange is the New Black is cross-posted over at Bitch Flicks.

ICYMI: On Katy Perry and cultural appropriation VS. appreciation and OITNB‘s Morello, mental illness and romanticised reality.

If you’re finding these links lacking, head on over to this month’s Down Under Feminist Carnival. [Opinions @ Blue Bec]

Speaking of, I’m hosting the next Carnival, so get your entries in. [Down Under Feminist Carnival]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Short and sweet this week.

Rape as a plot device. I’m reading Stephen King’s Under the Dome at the moment, in preparation to delve into the series which Clementine Ford cites in her article, and let me tell you, it is rife with unnecessary and gratuitous rape and violence against women. Even the characters’ inner monologues reek of misogyny. It should be interesting to see if the TV show is as heavily drenched in it as the print version. Judging by Ford’s article, it is. [Daily Life]

The racial politics of Beyonce’s hair. [Daily Beast]

Lady Gaga and cultural appropriation. [Jezebel]

Why do we care so much about other people’s sex lives, or lack thereof? [Jezebel]