On the (Rest of the) Net.

ICYMI: Little girls swearing is not the worst thing in the world.

Sex & the City makes me feel bad about my life. (Reminds me of a similar piece I wrote about Gossip Girl.) [It’s Okay for Intellectual Feminists to Like Fashion]

Sex and consent on Scandal‘s underaged-Eiffel-Tower sex tape episode. [Feministing]

Still with Shonda Rhimes’ creations, is How to Get Away With Murder the most progressive show on TV? [Vanity Fair]

On relatability (“To appreciate [art] only to the extent that the work functions as one’s mirror would make for a hopelessly reductive experience.”) VS. likeability (“If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble.”) [The New Yorker, Buzzfeed]

Tyra Banks is a feminist. [Mic]

Lena Dunham has tweeted and Instagrammed in support of Tom Meagher’s blog post earlier this year about the rape and murder of his wife Jill Meagher two years ago. [Buzzfeed, White Ribbon]

Wendy Squires wrote on the weekend that Eddie McGuire is leading the charge of male feminists because he built a change room for women runners to have a safe space after exercising at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne. That’s great, but here are four reasons why McGuire isn’t the feminist Squires thinks he is. They highlight why language is just as important as action. [The Age, Daily Life]

Speaking of language, stop calling sex workers “pr*stitutes” and “wh*res”. [Junkee]

White privilege is alive and well in 2014 if the recent nostalgia for Friends is any indication. [The Globe & Mail]

Anne Helen Petersen on Renee Zellweger’s changing face:

“… Zellweger’s picture personality has been about the striving performance of femininity—and a striving performance that’s rooted, always, in the appearance of twenty- and thirtysomething youth. To see her at the age of 44, amid a long period without acting work, with plastic surgery seems yet the latest attempt, and failure, to conform to the ideals of femininity, the sad second act in the latest Bridget Jones. Only this time, as the book tells us, Mr. Darcy is dead, which means there’s no man to validate her and thus save her from self-punishment.” [Buzzfeed]

UPDATED: Skinny-Shaming VS. Fat-Shaming.

This is a post that is constantly evolving, as the skinny- VS. fat-shaming debate is always growing and changing. Below, a snippet from Kim Powell’s News with Nipples, in response to Bob Ellis’ take on the ADFA sex scandal, which I linked to last week:

“The belief that women’s bodies are public property is all around us. News websites and tabloid mags are filled with body policing—’evidence’ of a baby bump, boob jobs, nose jobs, a hint of cellulite helpfully circled and ridiculed, weight gains, weight losses, muffin tops, what a ‘real’ woman should look like, skin and muscles in motion decried as freakish, etc etc. (My personal belief is that if you’re going to enlarge a photo of a thigh in motion and hysterically scream ‘See! Cellulite! Here! Here! This woman’s body is disgusting!’ then you need to include exactly the same photo of your own thighs. Fair’s fair. Sure, there are people who make a living from their bodies looking a certain way, but we all know the magazines insist the photos are digitally altered so frankly, they can fuck right off with their body policing.)”

More on this to come next week.

*

I originally wrote this article in December last year in relation to my mum and her weight problems.

Now, I’m updating with a comment my friend April posted around the same time:

“My mum is faced with the same skinny-shaming as yours. She gets called anorexic all the time. She has always been thin. Her bones have always been visible. And although she is of a rather small stature, her average weight of 42kg is well below the normal weight range. However, my mum doesn’t have an eating disorder or even a problem with food (if you don’t factor in her aversion to vegetables!). My mum put on quite a lot of weight when pregnant with me, peaking at a size 14. That is the biggest she’s ever been and it took a toll on her poor skin. The fact she has stretch marks or even wrinkles that have come with age do not affect her self esteem anywhere near as much as people pointing out her weight (or lack there of!). I don’t know if it’s ever brought her to tears but I have witnessed her get angry about it. There is only so much judgment we can take. My mum still has a womanly figure, with child bearing hips and thighs that touch. It’s what she’s been given and she’s learnt to live with it. But when it comes down to it, if people ever actually saw a real anorexic they would definitely see my mother’s au natural body in a different light.”

I’ve met April’s mum before, and can’t say her size was the first thing I noticed about her. Then again, I’m used to tiny mums!

But on the weekend I went to a part at April’s auntie’s house, which her mother also attended. Some comments about April’s mothers’ weight I overheard prompted me to republish this post, with an added musing: JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT COMMENTING ON SOMEONE’S FAT DOESN’T MAKE ANY OTHER NEGATIVE COMMENTS JUSTIFIABLE. If you don’t have anything nice to say (like, “You look great” or “Wow, you’ve got a lovely shape”), don’t say anything at all.

*

My mum is very thin.

She wasn’t always, though. In her late teenage years and early twenties, she was quite overweight. Dare I say, borderline obese?

Now, though, she’s tiny. At 52 years of age (and about 47kgs on the scale), she struggles to put and keep weight on.

She is constantly told how skinny she is by friends, family and even people she’s just met. If she were heavier, do you think people would be drawing as much attention to her weight; at least to her face? I doubt it (with the exception of the media if she were a public figure).

Why do people feel the need to objectify and vilify thin women—using their weight as a weapon against them? Is it because it’s un-PC to do so with a fat person? Because they’re jealous? I would tend to lean more towards the former.

I have received this treatment myself, and while my body is nowhere near the slight size of my mother’s, I do try to take care of it by exercising. And to offset the fattening effects of my sweet-tooth indulgences. (The other day I ate a whole block of Cadbury Top Deck. And another whole block the following day!)

I wasn’t always the size I am now, either. (Truth be told, however, I have always hovered around a size 12; now I’m just more toned and lean towards a size 10.) In high school, my weekends usually consisted of sitting on the couch watching Friends and Will & Grace and eating. I led a very sedentary lifestyle back then; the difference between me then and me now is the fact that I exercise to counteract hours spent at the desk (okay, I won’t lie; it’s usually the couch!) blogging, or evenings spent chilling out with some books, magazines, blogs and TV.

So what gives people the right to blatantly draw attention to a small frame to the inhabitant of that frame? Don’t get me wrong; inhabitants of a larger frame have attention drawn to them all the time. But we usually have the decency to not do it to their faces. I don’t know which is worse; personally, that kind of thing is water off a duck’s back to me. Because I come across as cold, aloof and feeling-less, people think I have emotions of steel and they can say and do anything they want to me. I can take a lot of shit, but people like my mother can’t. People pointing out her pin-thinness is a sore subject for her; it’s not like she wants to be that thin.

I think it comes down to a similar school of thought that slut-shaming belongs to. And that seems to be that women who sell their bodies out to succumbing to the ideal shape or to receiving sexual pleasure are at the mercy of ridicule from others.

In this day and age, we’re learning to accept the curves of a larger woman (but only as large as the advertising and magazine industry displays as acceptable). But when can we learn to accept that women do take care of their bodies, and shouldn’t be singled out for doing so. More importantly, though, when will we learn to accept that some people really just can’t put weight on, and they shouldn’t be targeted as succumbing to the narrow beauty ideal presented by society. Much the same way as overweight people shouldn’t be targeted for not succumbing to it.

Thoughts?

Elsewhere: [News with Nipples] Bob Ellis & Believing You Own Someone’s Body.

Images via Holy Taco, Losing Weight Zone, Pink Sheep of the Family.

UPDATED: Skinny-Shaming VS. Fat-Shaming.

I originally wrote this article in December last year in relation to my mum and her weight problems.

Now, I’m updating with a comment my friend April posted around the same time:

“My mum is faced with the same skinny-shaming as yours. She gets called anorexic all the time. She has always been thin. Her bones have always been visible. And although she is of a rather small stature, her average weight of 42kg is well below the normal weight range. However, my mum doesn’t have an eating disorder or even a problem with food (if you don’t factor in her aversion to vegetables!). My mum put on quite a lot of weight when pregnant with me, peaking at a size 14. That is the biggest she’s ever been and it took a toll on her poor skin. The fact she has stretch marks or even wrinkles that have come with age do not affect her self esteem anywhere near as much as people pointing out her weight (or lack thereof!). I don’t know if it’s ever brought her to tears but I have witnessed her get angry about it. There is only so much judgment we can take. My mum still has a womanly figure, with child bearing hips and thighs that touch. It’s what she’s been given and she’s learnt to live with it. But when it comes down to it, if people ever actually saw a real anorexic they would definitely see my mother’s au natural body in a different light.”

I’ve met April’s mum before, and can’t say her size was the first thing I noticed about her. Then again, I’m used to tiny mums!

But on the weekend I went to a part at April’s auntie’s house, which her mother also attended. Some comments about April’s mothers’ weight I overheard prompted me to republish this post, with an added musing: JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT COMMENTING ON SOMEONE’S FAT DOESN’T MAKE ANY OTHER NEGATIVE COMMENTS JUSTIFIABLE. If you don’t have anything nice to say (like, “You look great” or “Wow, you’ve got a lovely shape”), don’t say anything at all.

My mum is very thin.

She wasn’t always, though. In her late teenage years and early twenties, she was quite overweight. Dare I say, borderline obese?

Now, though, she’s tiny. At 53 years of age (and about 47kgs on the scale), she struggles to put and keep weight on.

She is constantly told how skinny she is by friends, family and even people she’s just met. If she were heavier, do you think people would be drawing as much attention to her weight; at least to her face? I doubt it (with the exception of the media if she were a public figure).

Why do people feel the need to objectify and vilify thin women—using their weight as a weapon against them? Is it because it’s un-PC to do so with a fat person? Because they’re jealous? I would tend to lean more towards the former.

I have received this treatment myself, and while my body is nowhere near the slight size of my mother’s, I do try to take care of it by exercising. And to offset the fattening effects of my sweet-tooth indulgences. (The other day I ate a whole block of Cadbury Top Deck. And another whole block the following day!)

I wasn’t always the size I am now, either. (Truth be told, however, I have always hovered around a size 12; now I’m just more toned and lean towards a size 10.) In high school, my weekends usually consisted of sitting on the couch watching Friends and Will & Grace and eating. I led a very sedentary lifestyle back then; the difference between me then and me now is the fact that I exercise to counteract hours spent at the desk (okay, I won’t lie; it’s usually the couch!) blogging, or evenings spent chilling out with some books, magazines, blogs and TV.

So what gives people the right to blatantly draw attention to a small frame to the inhabitant of that frame? Don’t get me wrong; inhabitants of a larger frame have attention drawn to them all the time. But we usually have the decency to not do it to their faces. I don’t know which is worse; personally, that kind of thing is water off a duck’s back to me. Because I come across as cold, aloof and feeling-less, people think I have emotions of steel and they can say and do anything they want to me. I can take a lot of shit, but people like my mother can’t. People pointing out her pin-thinness is a sore subject for her; it’s not like she wants to be that thin.

I think it comes down to a similar school of thought that slut-shaming belongs to. And that seems to be that women who sell their bodies out to succumbing to the ideal shape or to receiving sexual pleasure are at the mercy of ridicule from others.

In this day and age, we’re learning to accept the curves of a larger woman (but only as large as the advertising and magazine industry displays as acceptable). But when can we learn to accept that women do take care of their bodies, and shouldn’t be singled out for doing so. More importantly, though, when will we learn to accept that some people really just can’t put weight on, and they shouldn’t be targeted as succumbing to the narrow beauty ideal presented by society. Much the same way as overweight people shouldn’t be targeted for not succumbing to it.

Related: Skinny-Shaming VS. Fat-Shaming.

Images via Holy Taco, Losing Weight Zone, Pink Sheep of the Family.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“Christina Aguilera: Always the Second Fiddle.”

I don’t believe in New Years resolutions anymore, namely because I could never realise mine. But I like Rachel Hills’ idea of writing an obituary for the year passed. In this case, her 2008 in review.

HuffPo on the absence of modern technology in modern literature:

“The average fictional character is either so thoroughly disinterested in email, social media, and text messages he never thinks of it, or else hastily mentions electronic communications in the past tense. Sure, characters in fiction may own smart phones, but few have the urge to compulsively play with the device while waiting to meet a friend or catch a flight. This ever-present anachronism has made it so that almost all literary fiction is science fiction, a thought experiment as to what life might be like if we weren’t so absorbed in our iPhones but instead watched and listened to the world around us at a moment’s rest.”

Girl with a Satchel ponders the price of a pretty picture.

“Caring for Your Introvert” is one of the best articles I’ve read all year (and considering it was written in 2003, that’s saying something). Here, an excerpt:

“With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. ‘People person’ is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like ‘guarded’, ‘loner’, ‘reserved’, ‘taciturn’, ‘self-contained’, ‘private’—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.

“The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts’ Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say ‘I’m an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush.’”

Furthermore, The Los Angeles Times notes that despite the introverted minority, television doesn’t reflect their existence very well. (Does television reflect anything very well?):

“Watch Seinfeld or Friends or Sex & the City or Community or Men of a Certain Age—the list is endless—and you’ll see people who not only are never ever alone but people whose relationships are basically smooth, painless, uninhibited and deeply, deeply intimate—the kind of friendships we may have had in college but that most of us can only dream about now. How many adults do you know who manage to hang out with their friends every single day for hour after hour?”

On that, Gossip Girl is notorious for misrepresenting reality. While she knows I love her, GG often makes me feel guilty about the clothes I’m not wearing, the sex I’m not having, and the events I’m not going to. Apparently, it’s not true to the books, either.

Check out The Washington City Paper for their musings on masculinity over the past decade, with a special focus on boy bands, metrosexuals, hipsters and guidos, à la Jersey Shore.

Gwyneth Paltrow: You either love her or hate her. I hated her with a passion until I saw her on Glee, in which she came across as carefree, cool and sexy and made her a tiny bit more relatable to the general populus who don’t subscribe to her Goop musings. Mia Freedman writes hilariously on this conundrum, with a focus on a related article from Salon.

Also at MamaMia, “17 Arguments Against Gay MarriageAnd Why They’re Bullocks” is brilliant.

Tangled will be the last fairytale Disney releases in a while.

Can you still be a feminist and dress in a bra top? (Of course you can; stay tuned for more on this next week.) Or espouse archaic notions of heterosexual relations, for that matter?

“The Ongoing, Albeit Amusing, Battle to Save Bristol” on Dancing with the Stars:

“‘This seems like a case of the rich, popular cheerleaders looking like they’ve sucked on a lemon when they learn that the poor girl in school, the one in the home-made clothes and religious family, gets elected Prom Queen.’

“I’ve rarely seen such a clean-cut example of the conservative tendency to say up is down and black is white. Or, more precisely, to bemoan how oppressed white, rich, and highly privileged people are.

“… But Bristol Palin hasn’t really done squat. She is literally famous for having a baby at an inopportune time. And now she continues to get promoted over more talented people than her because she was born into the right family… Bristol Palin is a hero to wingnut America because she’s a great example of rewarding someone for being born into privilege instead of on their merits.

“… I just find it extremely funny that the wingnutteria is backing someone with no talent on a show with no real importance to stick it to liberals who by and large don’t really care, and they’re doing so because they’re intoxicated by privilege and kind of wish they had a monarchy, but they’re pretending that they’re doing it because they want to see the oppressed rise above. I suppose after Dancing with the Stars is done, they should start sticking it to the liberals by defending poor, oppressed Paris Hilton, who is definitely the weird girl with handmade clothes that is picked on by cheerleaders.”

Mel Gibson and the curse of the “Sexiest Man Alive” tag.

On Stieg Larsson and the “disturbing”, “torturous” patriarchy of his Millennium trilogy.

Women are funny, too.

Body Image: Skinny-Shaming VS. Fat-Shaming.

My mum is very thin.

She wasn’t always, though. In her late teenage years and early twenties, she was quite overweight. Dare I say, borderline obese?

Now, though, she’s tiny. At 52 years of age (and about 47kgs on the scale), she struggles to put and keep weight on.

She is constantly told how skinny she is by friends, family and even people she’s just met. If she were heavier, do you think people would be drawing as much attention to her weight; at least to her face? I doubt it (with the exception of the media if she were a public figure).

Why do people feel the need to objectify and vilify thin womenusing their weight as a weapon against them? Is it because it’s un-PC to do so with a fat person? Because they’re jealous? I would tend to lean more towards the former.

I have received this treatment myself, and while my body is nowhere near the slight size of my mother’s, I do try to take care of it by exercising. And to offset the fattening effects of my sweet-tooth indulgences. (The other day I ate a whole block of Cadbury Top Deck. And another whole block the following day!)

I wasn’t always the size I am now, either. (Truth be told, however, I have always hovered around a size 12; now I’m just more toned and lean towards a size 10.) In high school, my weekends usually consisted of sitting on the couch watching Friends and Will & Grace and eating. I led a very sedentary lifestyle back then; the difference between me then and me now is the fact that I exercise to counteract hours spent at the desk (okay, I won’t lie; it’s usually the couch!) blogging, or evenings spent chilling out with some books, magazines, blogs and TV.

So what gives people the right to blatantly draw attention to a small frame to the inhabitant of that frame? Don’t get me wrong; inhabitants of a larger frame have attention drawn to them all the time. But we usually have the decency to not do it to their faces. I don’t know which is worse; personally, that kind of thing is water off a duck’s back to me. Because I come across as cold, aloof and feeling-less, people think I have emotions of steel and they can say and do anything they want to me. I can take a lot of shit, but people like my mother can’t. People pointing out her pin-thinness is a sore subject for her.

I think it comes down to a similar school of thought that slut-shaming belongs to. And that seems to be that women who sell their bodies out to succumbing to the ideal shape or to receiving sexual pleasure are at the mercy of ridicule from others.

In this day and age, we’re learning to accept the curves of a larger woman (but only as large as the advertising and magazine industry displays as acceptable). But when can we learn to accept that women do take care of their bodies, and shouldn’t be singled out for doing so. More importantly, though, when will we learn to accept that some people really just can’t put weight on, and they shouldn’t be targeted as succumbing to the narrow beauty ideal presented by society. Much the same way as overweight people shouldn’t be targeted for not succumbing to it.

Thoughts?

Men in Fiction: My Most Loved Made-Up Males.

Last week I featured my favourite fictional females, and this week I thought I’d give the guys a go.

In the vein of Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, her father Atticus is way up there. He represents “the father figure I never had”, guiding Scout, her brother Jem, and their friend Dil through the last summer of their naïve childhood and how judging a book by it’s cover (or skin colour) is not the way to go. Plus, he has a kick ass name!

Similar to my obsession with To Kill a Mockingbird is my love of Dominick Dunne and any of his books, specifically Another City, Not My Own, in which Dunne’s alter-ego Gus Bailey acts as the fictional narrator of Dunne’s real-life O.J. Simpson trial experiences. It is hard to separate the two men, which is what I love about Dunne’s stories; a reader familiar with Dunne’s experiences doesn’t know where real-life ends and fiction begins.

Every fan of Friends has a favourite character, and mine has always been Chandler Bing. He gets the funniest storylines, and Matthew Perry has great comedic timing. There are many episodes I could ramble on about, but my two favourite Chandler moments are when Phoebe attempts to seduce him into admitting his relationship with Monica, and when Chandler kicks up a stink about Joey stealing his chair before Ross’s benefit, and in a check-mate move, Joey puts on every item of clothing in Chandler’s possession, quipping in true Chandler fashion, “Could I be wearing any more clothes?”

It’s been a Disney-centric year, what with Beauty & the Beast about to be re-released in 3D, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performing Disney songs in December (which I’m so going to, FYI), the first African American Disney Princess in the lacklustre The Princess & the Frog, and the much anticipated release of Toy Story 3, with one of my all-time favourite characters, Woody. The pull-string sheriff is inspirational in that he’ll never “leave a man behind”, he exists primarily for the pleasure of his owner, Andy, but discovers that there’s more to life, like making friends and other people happy, than what he thought his true purpose was; to be with Andy. I loved the third instalment of the saga, but it can never top the first one. So quotable, so timeless, so child-at-heart. ♥

Other inspirational men of fiction include Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon; Shia LaBeouf’s character in Disturbia, and the character who inspired him, L.B. Jeffries from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window; Fiver, Bigwig and Hazel from Watership Down; Woody’s space ranger counterpart, Buzz Lightyear; the Beast in Beauty & the Beast; and Holden Caulfield in A Catcher in the Rye.