Book Review: Mia Culpa—Confessions from the Watercooler of Life by Mia Freedman.

 

Mia Freedman really is a brand unto herself. We all know she revolutionised the magazine world at age 25 as editor of Cosmopolitan. Her blog, MamaMia, really came into its own during last year’s federal election, offering a different take on politics for modern women. And she’s now a three-time published author with her own television show on SkyNews!

Of course she credits her husband, Jason, her kids, friends, family and MamaMia team with supporting her and helping run her media juggernaut, all of whom she writes about—sometimes anonymously, but oftentimes not—in her latest memoir-cum-“long, wonderful dinner-party conversation”, Mia Culpa: Confessions from the Watercooler of Life.

A lot of the material that makes up Mia Culpa I’ve read before, I will admit, in Freedman’s Sunday Life column, her blog, and various other publications she makes appearances in. But I’ve been known to revisit favourite blog posts and articles before, so it was very enjoyable to read Freedman’s musings on everything from sex to SNAGS (p. 64–67) to showering (p. 290) to breastfeeding (p. 175–179) to interior design (p. 129) to social stamina (read: non-existent when you have a young family, p. 131–136) to Christmas (p. 148–152) to how many children you want/have (p. 71–75) to the hypocrisy of being a certain-meat eater (“I’ve never eaten things like duck or rabbit or deer because I relate to those animals in a way I don’t relate to chickens—perhaps because many of them were storybook characters. Bambi, anyone?” [p. 145]. Guilty as charged) to Disney princesses (p. 180) to The Secret (p. 301).

Some of my favourite parts existed in the first chapter and were a nice way to begin the book. In it, Freedman writes about grooming standards in long-term relationships (p. 4–12), choosing between your ass or your face as you grow older (p. 13–16), skinny-shaming VS. fat-shaming (p. 16–23) and the pre-requisite rant on unrealistic portrayal of women VS. men in the media (p. 23–32). But when she puts it like this, it’s hard not to see Freedman’s point:

“Pretend the world was full of pictures of naked men. On billboards and the sides of buses, in magazines and ads for beer, cars and deodorant. Imagine there were penises everywhere you turned and you couldn’t escape seeing them every day.

“And all the images of nude men were fake. Every male model and celebrity had had penile enlargement surgery, and afterwards, his penis had been extensively photoshopped to make it look even bigger. So now, all the penises you saw in the media every day were knee-length and as thick as an arm.

“One day, next to a magazine article about a celebrity with a foot-long penis, you read the headline: ‘This is what a 43-year-old penis looks like’. The caption underneath read: ‘Asked for the secret to his long schlong, former male model Markus Schenkenberg insists he was just born that way. “I wear cotton boxer shorts and I exfoliate in the shower,” he shrugs. “That’s all I do.”’

“After reading a hundred stories like that and being bombarded by 10,000 images of men with surgically altered and digitally enhanced penises, do you think you might look down at your natural, un-photoshopped trouser snake and feel a little… deflated? Inadequate? Insecure? Angry?”

There’s also some of Freedman’s fascinating thoughts on being a “try-sexual” as per Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” (p. 241–244), which has been written about extensively on sites like MamaMia and Rachel Hills, and tattoos (more on that to come later today).

You don’t have to be a Freedman fan-girl to enjoy this book; I would recommend it to anyone who happens to be of the female gender, and even those who don’t happen to be but are just looking for some enlightenment on the species.

Related: MamaMia: A Memoir of Mistakes, Magazines & Motherhood by Mia Freedman Review.

UPDATED: Skinny-Shaming VS. Fat-Shaming.

“Who the Bloody Hell Are We?”: The Sentimental Bloke at the Wheeler Centre.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] MamaMia Gets a TV Show.

[MamaMia] Cindy Crawford is Naked in Allure Magazine. And 43.

[MamaMia] I Kissed a Girl. Because I Had Something to Sell.

[MamaMia] Kissing a Woman Does Not a Lesbian Make.

[Rachel Hills] The Rise of the Guy-On-Guy Kiss.

Image via Australian Women Online.

Books: Ashley Judd’s Not the Only One Who Thinks Rap is Misogynistic.

 

Actress Ashley Judd released her memoir recently. In it she shares her thoughts on hip hop and rap being misogynistic and promoting a “rape culture”.

She’s not the only one to have released a memoir with her thoughts on the sexualisation of violence in rap and hip hop.

I just finished reading Mia Freedman’s latest effort, Mia Culpa: Confessions from the Watercooler of Life (review pending), and in it she writes:

“… If I were prone to hyperbole, which I totally am, I would also add: pornographic smut! That would be the music videos playing on the screens. It was the usual stuff: slutty, near-naked, thrusting, panting women and misogynist black rappers singing about sex and bitches and hos. Music-video shows are banned at my house for this exact reason. I don’t expect them while surrounded by bowling kiddies, okay? … dozens of small boys and girls hurling their bowling balls towards giant jangling fake breasts and writhing G-string-clad buttocks.”

Okayyy, she’s painted a very realistic picture there, and when it’s put like that, it’s hard to see why there was such an uproar about Judd’s comments on the subject.

It’s not like there wasn’t any childhood sexual assault and drug use in there for critics to get all shocked and awed over!

Related: Mama Mia: A Memoir of Mistakes, Magazines & Motherhood by Mia Freedman Review.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Ashley Judd Clarifies Statements on Misogyny in Hip-Hop.

[Jezebel] Ashley Judd Clarifies Statements About Hip-Hop & Rape Culture (Again).

Images via The Central Box, Respecta, Vip-File.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

In the wake of Angus and Robertson and Borders going into receivership, Satchel Girl Erica Bartle thinks “some things are prettier in print”.

“Letters to Fictional TV Characters”, such as Saved By the Bell’s Jessie Spano:

“You hair, your height, your convictions; everything about you terrified viewers! Maybe it’s because you bear a striking resemblance to the exotic dancer in Showgirls.”

Channing Tatum on the double standards for male and female strippers. (FYI, he used to be one.)

Jezebel asks “What Happened to Olivia Benson’s Sex Life?” by way of The New Gay.

Mia Freedman writes: “I want to be kept up to date about the news from Christchurch without feeling like I’m participating in some voyeuristic type of grief porn.”

Freedman also has a new book out, Mia Culpa: Confessions from the Watercooler of Life. Here she answers questions about it. Can’t wait to get my hands on it! Review pending!

There have been differing views of the St. Kilda Schoolgirl, and this journalist expresses yet another.

It pays to be a Kardashian. $65 million, to be exact.

Googled “murder” lately? Jezebel bets you weren’t expecting to find “abortion” as the second link…

Rape on TV.

Julia Baird on journalist Lara Logan’s sexual assault by 200 men during the  Egyptian revolution:

“The attacks on Logan spread to Twitter, with coded versions of the above sentiments, most implying that it was her fault because women should not go into war zones, and that this is what happens if you are young, hot and surrounded by Muslims*. It’s hard to know where to start—the sexism, racism and lack of simple compassion are all stunning” [bold text mine].

*It’s sickening that this is the viewpoint of so many.

Image via The Next Bar Stool.