Last Minute Halloween Costumes That Aren’t The “Sexy”, Store Bought Norm.

It’s almost that time of year again when unoriginality prevails and hemlines rise in an effort not just to fill pillowcases or cheap plastic pumpkin pails with the most candy but to elicit the most controversy: Halloween.

Already we’ve seen the mass production of Halloween costumes of the likes of Caitlyn Jenner and Cecil the Lion’s killer, and you can rest assured there’ll be many an outraged news story about those brave (stupid?) enough to dress as Rachel Dolezal or a member of ISIS.

But Halloween is also the time of year when many a thinkpiece about freedom of speech, taste, and a woman’s right to dress as sexy as she wants (and I’m certainly not innocent of going that route) start doing the rounds, of which I’ve been guilty myself.

So I thought I’d write a different kind of story featuring suggestions for the trifecta of Halloween costumes: some unique, possibly envelope-pushing and fun ideas for this year’s All Hallows Eve. And with October 31st falling on a Saturday this year those invitations should have come thick and fast, so you’ll want to be prepared (hey, there’s another costume idea: Scar from The Lion King, which my friend April went as to my [non-costume] birthday last year!)

(Disclaimer: if costumes aren’t slutty enough—and some of them most definitely tick that box—just add cleavage and substitute regular-length pants for hot ones.)

magic mike xxl

Magic Mike: XXL.

Baggy pants, white singlets, backwards caps and a bandana around the neck are all you’ll need to recreate arguably the sexiest dance scene ever in this year’s sequel to Magic Mike. If you want to put a little more effort in, there’s Tarzan’s painted portrait, Tito’s “Candy Shop” routine, Ken’s sexy “How Does It Feel” rendition or Richie’s groom cum S&M dom. A little less effort? A bottle of water, packet of chips and “I Want It That Way” on loop.

halloween rosie the riveter marilyn monroe

Rosie the Riveter.

Feminism is so trendy, didn’t you know, so what better way to pay homage to the movement than dressing as someone whose image is often co opted by it: Rosie the Riveter. I went as her one year and all you need is a blue shirt; jeans, overalls or denim shorts, depending on the level of sexiness you want to go for; a red and white polka dot scarf, and you’re set.

When I was in New York for Halloween one year I saw a woman in the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade who even went to the trouble of fashioning a “We Can Do It” speech bubble.

adam and eve

Adam & Eve.

The perfect couples costume, all you need is some vines, an apple, and a toy snake. From there, go as dressed up (or down) as you’re comfortable with.

gloria steinem undercover playboy bunny

Gloria Steinem Undercover as a Playboy Bunny.

Yet another costume I’ve worn over the years and probably my favourite. Grab a cheap, mass-produced corset from Valley Girl or similar, some high-waisted vintage knickers (or boy shorts for more coverage), a Playboy cuffs and ears set from most party supply stores, and a white loofah sponge from the supermarket for a tail.

To differentiate yourself from a typical Playboy bunny, wear a feminist badge of some kind and for extra journo cred, carry a notebook, tape recorder (did they even have those in the ’60s?) or a copy of Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions, the book her report “A Bunny’s Tale” is published in.

suffragette costume

Emily Davison.

Best known as the woman who rushed King George V’s horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby, she died from fatal injuries sustained in the act of protest. A suffragette, a Davison costume is not only timely with the release of the movie Suffragette in which she is featured, but it’s marginally more tasteful than Cecil the Lion: hit up your local costumery for period threads then stop by a toy shop for a hobby horse.

josephine baker

Josephine Baker.

There are many ways you can go with this: traditional 1920s fare, or for the more exhibitionistic, hunt for the components that make up her famous banana costume. A healthy helping of plastic bananas threaded together could work, or banana lollies from your local Woolies add elements of sexiness and Halloween candy metatext. This is one costume that knows no bounds.

girl scout costume

Girl Scout.

A friend had this in mind for the time we were in New York for Halloween, but it never came to fruition. You can be the one to make it happen, by either forking out for the cheap, mass produced version or shifting through Etsy and vintage eBay sellers for cute vests, badges and maybe even a box of cookies or two. Know a Brownie? Borrow their garb for the evening.

beyonce feminist costume

Beyonce Standing in Front of the Feminist Sign.

Granted, this would have been fitting for last year’s Halloween (and I actually went as this for my work Christmas party), but Beyonce is nothing if not perpetually relevant.

I had a copy of the “Feminist” sign blown up and printed at Officeworks, mounted it to thick cardboard and strapped to me like a backpack with elastic strips, with portable LED lights along the bottom. Add a leotard and presto: you’re Beyonce!

wrestling costumes

Mick Foley. (Honourable mentions: Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Tyler Breeze.)

As wrestling historian and podcaster David Shoemaker has said, wrestling cosplay has never been easier with guys like Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns: just add a white fedora and a Hawaiian shirt, and a flak jacket, respectively. A Cactus Jack t-shirt, a red flannel, leopard print boots and, of course, Mr. Socko make you Mick Foley’s most terrifying incarnation, while a selfie stick and a trip to Spotlight sees Tyler Breeze come to life at your local Halloween party.

marsha p johnson sylvia rivera

Stonewall.

A lot of controversy has been kicked up surrounding the release of the white- and cis-washed retelling of the historic Stonewall riots. Instead of taking a page out of the movie’s script, why not go as some of the historical figures who were actually involved, such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. (Note: proceed with extreme caution as cosplaying these trans pioneers could come across as insensitive at best and transphobic at worst. The last thing you want is an equivalent of the Caitlyn Jenner costume so if you’re not confident you can pull it off without offense, then maybe choose something else from the list.)

cookie costume jazmine hughes

Empire.

While not as successful in Australia, Empire is all the rage on U.S. TV screens and Taraji P. Henson’s Emmy-nominated portrayal of music matriarch and former inmate Cookie is ripe for the costuming. Sequins, animal print (preferably sequinned animal print) and faux fur complete the look. New York Times writer Jazmine Hughes even wrote a story for Cosmopolitan about dressing up as the character just in time for the holiday.

taylor swift squad goals

Taylor Swift & Her Squad.

For the more dedicated costumers, Swift’s “Bad Blood” video look can be completed with some dominatrix gear, weaponry and perhaps a red wig to complete the look. Otherwise, just grab your besties, chuck on your usual party gear and when people ask what you’re dressed as just tell ‘em “#SquadGoals”.

scream queens chanels

Scream Queens’ Chanels.

Three words: Fur. Pastels. Earmuffs.

serena-williams

Serena Williams.

2015 has been the year for women in sport. There’s currently a #DivasRevolution in professional wrestling, the World Cup-winning U.S. Women’s soccer team has been lauded at every turn, and Serena Williams dominated tennis, as she has every year but we finally started noticing. Raid your local Vinnie’s for some tennis duds and grab a racquet. Or, if you’re in need of some new workout gear, stop by your local sporting goods store and show Serena’s line some love.

BONUS ROUND!

Speaking of Serena and tennis, head on over to Junkee to check out my “Hotline Bling” Drake contribution as part of their roundup.

Related: Happy Slut-O-Ween: The Hyper-Sexualisation & -Feminisation of Costumes for Women.

Costumes & Gender.

A Very Manhattan Halloween.

Elsewhere: [Junkee] People Are Really Getting a Jump On Their Terrible, No Good Halloween Costumes This Year.

[Grantland] Reality Takes Over Night of Champions, For Better & For Worse.

[Facebook] Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS).

[Cosmopolitan] I Dressed Like Cookie for a Week to Get Over Imposter Syndrome.

Images via The New Yorker, Your Tango, Demotix, Moorewr, Pinterest, Heave Media, TBO, Bleacher Report, Neogaf, The Incidental Review, Cosmopolitan, Hollywood Reporter, Teen Choice, Odyssey, Vine.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Pulling Rihanna’s song as Thursday Night Football’s song in the wake of the Ray Rice domestic violence controversy because she’s a survivor of domestic violence herself is idiotic and a form of victim-blaming:

“While the network may have been peeved at Rihanna’s reaction, this is a terrible decision. The Ray Rice controversy blew up not just because of the video, but also because the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL initially portrayed domestic violence as a couple’s mutual responsibility, instead of holding the abuser solely responsible. By cutting Rihanna’s song in part because she got beat up by her now-ex Chris Brown in 2009, CBS is treating yet another victim like she’s the problem here. The move is also troubling because it suggests that no matter how many records she sells or where she goes with her career, in many people’s eyes (such as those of CBS executives), Rihanna is defined by someone else’s choice to attack her.” [Slate]

Why comparing Ray Rice to Hope Solo is stupid. [Slate]

A video series on what it’s like to be Duke porn star Belle Knox. (NSFW) [The Scene]

Talking to Shonda Rhimes about Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder and that New York Times piece that called her and many of her characters “angry black women”. [NPR]

And Janet Mock expertly debunks the “angry black woman” stereotype. [Janet Mock]

An ode to Romy and Michele’s enduring friendship. [Bitch Flicks]

When being in a fraternity makes college-aged men 300% more likely to commit rape, should we ban frats? [The Guardian]

The problem with Emma Watson’s UN gender equality speech. [Black Girl Dangerous]

On the (Rest of the) Net.

beyonce feminist vmas 2014

What Beyonce’s VMA’s feminist declaration means for the future of the movement in pop culture. [Slate]

Also, she may have solved its “branding” problem. [Bitch]

The New York Times called Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was shot to death by police in the town of Ferguson, Missouri, “no angel”; see how that compares to their descriptions of white serial killers and mass murderers. [Vox]

Roxane Gay on women who take nude photos of themselves (and the fact that the non-consensual leaking of them is a crime):

“The Great Celebrity Naked Photo Leak of 2014… is meant to remind women of their place. Don’t get too high and mighty, ladies. Don’t step out of line. Don’t do anything to upset or disappoint men who feel entitled to your time, bodies, affection or attention. Your bared body can always be used as a weapon against you. You bared body can always be used to shame and humiliate you. Your bared body is at once desired and loathed.” [The Guardian]

You’re most likely not a “bad feminist”, to borrow the title from Gay’s latest book, you’re just an oversharer. [Salon]

Raising our daughters to be single women. [Daily Life]

Why won’t The Mindy Project, which is set in a gynecological practice, address abortion? [Jezebel]

ICYMI, I slam pearl-clutchers over Jennifer Lawrence et al’s nude pictures.

I recapped Outback Championship Wrestling’s recent show in Melbourne, featuring former WWE Superstars Carlito and Chris Masters. [Facebook]

You can also see me onscreen for the fledgling wrestling company with half-hour episodes showcasing local and international wrestling talent each Tuesday at 9:30pm on Channel 31 in metropolitan Melbourne and Geelong areas. For the rest of you, catch the show here. [Channel 31]

Yesterday I hosted the 76th Down Under Feminists Carnival, so if you’re looking for more (Aussie and NZ) feminist content, check it out.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

LindsayOWN

I wrote about Oprah’s docuseries being bad for Lindsay Lohan’s career. At least before her lacklustre reputation could be boiled down to “Rumours”. Now, despite her addiction and various other mental and physical issues, we’ve see just how unprofessional she really is. [Junkee]

Jill Meagher’s widower Tom on the “Monster Myth”, rape as punishment, and as an inevitability for certain types of women by certain types of men who don’t understand “the rules”:

“The idea of the lurking monster is no doubt a useful myth, one we can use to defuse any fear of the women we love being hurt, without the need to examine ourselves or our male-dominated society. It is also an excuse to implement a set of rules on women on ‘how not to get raped’, which is a strange cocktail of naiveté and cynicism. It is naïve because it views rapists as a monolithic group of thigh-rubbing predators with a checklist rather than the bloke you just passed in the office, pub or gym, cynical because these rules allow us to classify victims. If the victim was wearing x or drinking y well then of course the monster is going to attack—didn’t she read the rules? I have often come up against people on this point who claim that they’re just being ‘realistic’. While it may come from a place of concern, if we’re being realistic we need to look at how and where rape and violence actually occur, and how troubling it is that we use a nebulous term like ‘reality’ to condone the imposition of dress codes, acceptable behaviours, and living spaces on women to avoid a mythical rape-monster. Okay, this rape-monster did exist in the form of Adrian Bayley, but no amount of adherence to these ill-conceived rules could have stopped him from raping somebody that night.” [White Ribbon Australia]

Can you be a feminist and…? [Another Angry Woman]

Equal opportunity objectification. (I also wrote about the phenomenon upon the release of Magic Mike in 2012.) [Jezebel] 

James Franco, teen girls and “Humbert Humbert culture”. [The Style Con]

The garish-yet-elegant art of drag… and wrestling! [WFAE NPR]

On TV, troubled women are better off dead than being helped. [The New Republic]

Still with TV, rape in the golden age of it. Notice how most of these shows centre around men while raped women are in the periphery. [Washington Post]

And further to this, isn’t it about time straight, white men on TV stopped being represented above all other possibilities? [SBS News]

Battling street harassment with street art. [New York Times]

The science of promiscuity. [The Wheeler Centre]

Image via Junkee.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”: “ironic objectification” or just plain degradation? Apparently, because Thicke and collaborator Pharrell Williams are “happily married”, it makes it okay for them to derive pleasure from degrading women (Thicke’s words). While there are certainly much worse images and acts of misogyny out there, “Blurred Lines” is lyrically and visually blatantly upholding rape culture: “I know you want it, but you’re a good girl…” Does the fact that it was directed by a woman who instructed the basically—and uncomfortably—naked models and the fully clothed male artists in the clip supposedly love women make it a tongue in cheek exercise in pushing boundaries or raise some more problematic issues considering it’s this country’s number one song? What’s the point in even making such a NSFW video if it can’t even be shown on MTV and YouTube (semi-SFW video above)? [Jezebel]

Dear Julia Gillard,
Thank you for being the first female Prime Minister,
Sincerely,
Mia Freedman. [MamaMia]

The rise and rise of feminist parodies. [Daily Life] 

What are the differences between women who receive abortions and those who are denied them and proceed with unwanted pregnancies? [NYTimes]

Screw the “armchair commentators”; you know what your feminism is. [The Guardian]

Julia Gillard urges us to vote for Julia Gillard in spite of the sexist attacks against her (obviously written prior to Wednesday’s ousting). Kind of like that comment about her jackets, Germaine…? [The Hoopla]

Is Miley Cyrus’ latest black culture-inspired gimmick akin to a minstrel show? [Jezebel]

This week in inappropriate fashion spreads: hoarder chic. [Jezebel]

Ranking Stephen King’s 62 books. [Vulture]

On the (Rest of the) Net: Pre-Christmas Stocking Stuffer Edition.

This time in four days most of us will have already made a beeline for what’s underneath the Christmas tree, though not everyone is so fortunate to have an abundance of gifts this silly season. For those of us who are happy, healthy and wealthy, whatever that may mean to you, take a little time out to wish those not so well off a safe and merry holiday period. Merry Christmas!

etsy abortaments

Just in time for Christmas, “abortaments”. Hmm… [Jezebel]

White American masculinity and gun violence. [Ms. Magazine]

The strong female characters in film this year. [New York Times]

Forget Halloween. Presenting: slutty Christmas costumes! [Jezebel]

The apparent “nice guys” of dating websites now have their own snarky Tumblr. [NiceGuysofOKCupid]

Image via Jezebel.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Check out my second article for TheVine, about the male body objectification trend. More to come here next week.

Still with the sexualisation of male bodies, who knew there was so much to unpack when it comes to Magic Mike? Can I get a redo on the above article? [The Atlantic Wire]

And lastly, nudity in rom-coms. [Daily Life]

Why is a reality TV star worth a reported $3.5 million seeking funding on Indiegogo to put on a fashion show at New York Fashion Week? On the one hand, use your own fucking money. On the other, it is “the first-ever fan-supported fashion show”. Social experiment or effortless money-grab? [Jezebel]

Mitt Romney is a mansplainer! A Mittsplainer, if you will. [GQ]

Why Fifty Shades of Grey is a badly-written, misogynistic piece of shit that encourages women to stay in an emotionally abusive relationship. [Good Reads]

Cosmo’s international editions: feminist or not? [NYTimes]

Channel 9 aired an expose on girls dressing skimpily for nights out on the town. Ita Buttrose said dressing this way makes people assume you’re a “tart”, and men don’t take tarts home to mummy. Charlotte Dawson said girls need to be careful about “the consequences of dressing up like this could be”. Shitstorm ensues. [MamaMia]

Why girls don’t need to develop their self-esteem, they need to recognise that beauty is a tool of the patriarchy to beat women into submission. [The Nation]

Image via IMDb.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

In response to the cavalier and glorifying New York Times profile on rapey photographer du jour, Terry Richardson, a model he allegedly sexually harassed, Jamie Peck, writes on the fashion industry turning a blind eye to her allegations because Richardson gives good images. [New York Times, Jezebel]

The multifaceted nature of identity. [Feminaust]

Jessica Simpson naked and pregnant on the cover of Elle is all well and good, but what does it say about non-white, -straight and -abled women who also happen to be pregnant?  [Womanist Musings]

A journey from vegetarianism to veganism to ecotarianism. This is something I’m struggling with myself at the moment, as I love the taste of (some) meat and don’t think I could ever be vegetarian or vegan, but I care about the way my animal products and byproducts are obtained. I went to a debate at the Wheeler Centre on Tuesday night on this topic, so I’ll have more to come on this for you next week. [Wheeler Centre]

You can be a feminist and still wear high heels and lipstick. [Gala Darling]

Germaine Greer and Julia Gillard’s arse. [MamaMia]

An open letter to Rihanna about Chris Brown. [Billboard]

In defence of the Spice Girls as feminists:

“We were wrong about the Spice Girls. We were wrong about whether they ‘killed feminism’ by not representing our favorite kind. We were wrong about their not having a message. We were wrong about their not being unique. We were scared that the Spice Girls would make feminism too mainstream and commercial. Well, good news: feminism is totally unpopular now, hurray!” [Rookie Mag]

Image via The Gloss.

On the (Rest of the) Net: Catch-Up Edition.

 

Raising awareness about breast checks, one superheroine at a time. [io9]

Ladies of the year: Taylor Swift VS. Lady Gaga. Who do you choose? [Girl with a Satchel]

Why women fear the “n” word in relationships: “needy”. [Jezebel]

“The Turned-On Woman’s Manifesto.” Amen! [Turned-On Woman’s Movement]

How to talk to women, for men. [MamaMia]

Gah! Anti-vaccination extremists. Why are people like this allowed to promote views like that? Oh right, that pesky little thing called “freedom of speech”… [MamaMia]

Are you a woman and do you love your body, damned what conventional norms say you should be feeling about it in an effort to appease other women? Then sing it, sister! [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Wow. Mia Freedman offers some throwaway fashion advice to her 5-year-old daughter; shitstorm ensues. I think it’s a bit of an overreaction, but each to their own. [MamaMia, Fat Heffalump]

Male body objectification: in comparison to female body objectification, is it even a thing worth worrying about? [Lip Magazine]

Atheism = nihilism? [New York Times]

The latest trend in protesting: the Muff March. [MamaMia]

While we’re on the topic, is pubic hair making a comeback? NSFW [Jezebel]

Stop that booze-related victim-blaming. [Jezebel, via Feministe]

Who has late-term abortions? [Jezebel]

Hmm, Lego for girls? I’m not such a fan. What was wrong with the original, male-centric version, apart from the absence of female characters? We all know kids are imaginative enough to make toys whatever they want them to be. [MamaMia]

On beauty, failure and “this is the best I can do”. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

The pros and cons of anal sex. [Jezebel]

Are princesses really that bad, Naomi Wolf asks. [New York Times]

The Good Men Project for boys. [Jezebel]

It’s been just over a year since the St. Kilda Schoolgirl released those photos, and I’ve only just gotten around to reading this article by Anna Krien from The Monthly’s April 2011 issue on sex and the treatment of women in the AFL. Let me say, it was well worth the wait.

Even if you’re not espousing misogynist bile to women (on the internet or IRL), not standing up to it is just as bad, says Mark Sorrell. [Beware of the Sorrell]

Alyx Gorman defends Miranda Kerr, asserting that there probably is more than meets the eye, but she just “won’t let us see it”:

“Even more problematic than its existence in the first place is the fact that Kerr’s construct is damaging to women and girls. By looking and speaking the way she does (when she has other options in terms of presentation), Kerr is intrinsically linking sensuality with stupidity. She is demonstrating that being ditzy and appearance-obsessed (albeit under the guise of being healthy) is what it takes to be one of the most desirable women in the world. By refusing to express a well reasoned opinion on anything of note, and then pushing the point of self esteem, she is sending a message that the source of girl-power, of pride in one’s womanhood, must always be grounded not in who you are, but how you look. Kerr has crafted an image that is the ultimate expression of the immanence de Beauvoir railed against, and she has done so (I suspect) knowingly.

“Instead of being brave enough to show what a beautiful, clever girl looks like, to delve into the nuances of what it means to be a wife, woman, mother and object of desire, Kerr plays to our worst stereotypes of femininity, giving an organic-almond-milk 21st century update to the image of the perfect  50s housewife.” [The Vine]

The Breaking Dawn Bechdel test. [Lip Magazine]

What’s the difference between a rapist and a men’s mag? Hmm, you tell me. [Jezebel]

On being a recluse. [MamaMia]

The allure of the May-December romance… for the December, not so much the May. [The Good Men Project]

Image via io9.

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 Scarlett Woman 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: In Defence of Rachel Berry.

Rachel Berry as Feminist.

The Underlying Message inGlee’s “Born This Way” Episode.

Do “Strong Female Characters” Remind You of You?

The Problem with Glee.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Original Song” Episode.

Brown Eyed Girl.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Duets” Episode.

Sookie as Feminist? Hear Her Roar.

Do “Strong Female Characters” Remind You of You?

SlutWalk.

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.