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.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Post of the week: Catherine Deveny on body love. [MamaMia]

On sexual harassment and “nightclub feminist success”. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Atheists are just as bad as rapists… and feminists. [Jezebel]

Lingerie football. What do you think? Personally, I’m not a huge fan of playing sports in underwear, but I don’t have much of a problem with it. [MamaMia]

“The Problem with My Week with Marilyn.” [Jezebel]

All long-term monogamous relationships are a transaction, says Ms. Elouise, so what’s the big problem with “paying your wife for sex”? [Feminaust]

Facebook, girl-hate and “I’m a better feminist than you” tête-à-têtes. [Howling Clementine]

XOJane on the message Breaking Dawn sends to virgins.

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope extends to indie films, too. [The Atlantic]

iPhone 4S’ Siri is pro-life, apparently. [Gizmodo]

When hemlines rise, so does bitchiness. [Jezebel]

Stella Young on the disability pension myth. [MamaMia]

Former Wordsmith Laner Sarah Ayoub-Christie tries to reconcile her modern marriage with her traditional Lebanese upbringing. [MamaMia]

“Teaching Good Sex” in school. What a novel idea! [New York Times]

Men in porn:

“The straight male performer must be attractive enough to serve as a prop, but not so attractive that he becomes the object of desire. As [porn publicist, Adella] Curry puts it, ‘No one wants to alienate the male audience’.” [Good]

Image via MamaMia.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“In Defence of the Short-Haired Woman”:

“I think… that a lot of men believe they prefer long hair—and wrong in that when it comes down to it, they don’t actually care all that much.

“I’m sure there are plenty of straight men who truly, inherently prefer long hair on women. But in my experience, the bulk of straight men who default to liking long hair on women just like women.” [Jezebel, via The Beheld]

Beauty truly comes from within. [MamaMia]

How guys really feel about going down on us. One question: where can I find this guy?!

“What I think is ‘holy shit is this hot!’ I notice the varieties in taste during certain parts of a girl’s cycle. It tastes sort of tart right after her period ends, gets musky around ovulation and then has full blown feminine sex scent right before her period. I loved doing it from the first time I tried it. In fact, I came without touching myself the first time I went down on a girl. There is no learning to like it. Heck, it puts me even closer to pussy than fucking does. How could a guy who likes girls possibly not like it. Overall it’s my favorite sexual experience. You don’t have the pressure of ‘fuck if I get too into this I’m going to cum too soon and disappoint her but if I hold off and take forever to cum I’m going to end up boring her/making her sore/making her think I’m not that into it’ that you get from intercourse. You just to get to dive into the best smell and taste in the world and be there until you see, feel, hear and taste her having an orgasm. It’s a powerful feeling. I think oral sex is awesome and the best form of contraception mankind has ever come up with. Same great orgasms, no risk of changing diapers down the line.” [Jezebel]

Harrowing TV birth scenes as contraceptives. [NYTimes]

It’s not just the Disney princesses we need to worry about. It’s the princes, too. [Sociological Images]

Why are the new Snow White movies so… white?

“The filmmakers missed a chance to bring a truly new perspective to the story by integrating it. Snow White is a made-up story, taking place in a made-up land. Why can’t the handsome prince be black? Why can’t the queen be black? There seems to be an Asian dwarf in the Mirror Mirror project, but none of the major characters in either film are of colour.” [Jezebel]

The woman used as a reason to commit adultery by cheating website Ashley Madison speaks out:

“There is an enormous problem in this world in regards to female body shaming, and not solely in regard to fat women, but all women. A size 2 woman who sees this ad sees the message: ‘If I don’t stay small, he will cheat’. A size 12 woman might see this ad and think “if I don’t lose 30lbs, he will cheat”. A size 32 woman could see this ad, and feel ‘I will never find love’. It’s horrific. Not all women are necessarily insecure, but it’s no secret that body insecurity is endemic, regardless of size. This kind of message is extremely damaging to self worth. Eating disorders may have lost their place in the media spotlight, but continue to effect people of all ages, especially teens. This sort of behavior can easily be triggered from the careless cruelty of advertisements like the one in question.” [Jezebel]

10 other things that should be worthy of “Personhood”. [Jezebel]

The history of Ms. magazine. [New York Magazine]

Eve Ensler is over rape jokes and Facebook pages. [HuffPo]

Images via Jezebel, Sociological Images.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

How to make friends and not alienate people whilst working at the morgue, Lindsay Lohan-style. [Gawker]

Mitt Romney’s history with abortion. [New York Times, via Jezebel]

South African Marie Claire attempts to draw attention to body image with their most recent campaign, to lukewarm effect. My pick for the most hard hitting design is the one above. What’s yours? [MamaMia]

How does the word “fat” affect others’ body image? [Jezebel]

Gala Darling, her husband and their Halloween costumes.

E-book VS. real book. [MamaMia]

It’s all about me, I mean you, I mean me. [Already Pretty]

“Accidental rape” and enthusiastic consent:

“While the legal standard of rape is increasingly well-defined… common sense suggests that at its most basic, rape is nonconsensual sex. Too many of us, men and women alike, define consent as the absence of a clear ‘no,’ rather than the presence of a clear, unmistakable, eager ‘yes.’ The opposite of rape, in other words, is mutual enthusiasm.

“The root of consent is the Latin consentire, which means ‘with feeling.’ Consent is not just about words ‘no’ or ‘yes’—it’s about the unambiguous presence of desire.”

[The Good Men Project, via MamaMia]

The case for vaccination Barbie! [Washington Post]

A history of slutty Halloween costumes. [Jezebel]

Still with Halloween: costumes and racism:

“Halloween was the day where women could bring out their inner sluts… Halloween is also the day where people can bring out their inner… racism…” [Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind]

“Who Cares About Amber Cole?” the black teenage girl who was caught on camera by two male friends giving her boyfriend a blowjob, which subsequently got circulated around the internet, thus distributing child porn. [Jezebel]

Images via Gawker, MamaMia, Gala Darling, High Snobiety, Toys R Us, Clutch Magazine.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Spice World as metatext madness! [Thought Catalog]

Are we living in the post-ideas age? [New York Times]

“The Opposite of ‘Man’ is ‘Boy’, Not ‘Woman’” by Hugo Schwyzer:

“… Men who long for a vanished world of all-male preserves are making a fundamental mistake about masculinity. They think that the opposite of ‘man’ is ‘woman’ and that in order to prove oneself the former they must do (perform) things that no woman can. But it makes good sense to suggest that the better antonym of ‘man’ is ‘boy.’ To ‘perform masculinity’ isn’t about doing what women don’t. It’s about doing what boys lack the will or the maturity to do.

“If we really are in a ‘man crisis’ in America, I suspect it’s rooted as much as anything else in this fundamentally mistaken belief that manhood needs to be about rejecting anything that smacks of the feminine.” [The Good Men Project, via Jezebel]

How they got Osama bin Laden. [The New Yorker]

“Talking to an Abortion Clinic Protester.” [Jezebel]

The “proper etiquette” for drunk Jersey Shore sluts. [Jezebel]

Cutting off your animal cruelty to spite your feminism. Feminaust’s Ms Elouise on PETA’s latest anti-animal cruelty porn site:

“Is using Pamela Anderson’s body as a sex object and comparing it with a piece of meat an acceptable way of drawing attention to the plight of animals in the meat industry?

“PETA’s use of women’s bodies as a means to furthering their animal rights activism undermines their claims to ‘we all have the same parts’ because they’re saying the exact opposite, they’re saying:

“‘LOOK BOOBIES! Now that we have your attention, meat is bad.’”

While this is a great article, I don’t agree with its sentiments 100%. Yes, some of PETA’s campaigns have been unnecessarily focused on the female form, illustrating no real point, but I do think the “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” and the Pamela Anderson campaigns use it in a positive way. Both for women and animals. What do you think?

“Do You Prefer ‘Fashion Victim’ or ‘Ensembly Challenged’?” Squee! All of Cher Horowitz’s outfits in less than 60 seconds! [Worn Fashion Journal]

Questions for “perfect-looking women”, if there is such a thing. [Thought Catalog]

A letter to Gloria Steinem. [Ms. Magazine]

Rachel Rabbit White on “femme-guilt, beauty-privilege and the phenomenon of girls slut-shaming other girls.”

Everything Sarah Hepola learned about New York City. [The Morning News]

The victim-blaming of Lara Logan for deigning to be hot, bare cleavage and get raped. [Broad Street Review]

“Feminism, Colonialism and Islamophobia” at Qantara.

Image via Fan Pop.