On the (Rest of the) Net.

orange is the new black white lives matter

I wrote about the racial politics of Black Lives Matter, #ICantBreathe, #HandsUpDontShoot and #SayHerName inherent in Orange is the New Black‘s latest season (spoilers!). [Junkee]

And here’s how the show is shining light on the realities of women in prison, and when they’re released. [Elle]

Mother Jones did a video series and an accompanying article on what it’s really like to be a guard in a privatised prison.

I also wrote about whether Total Divas has a place in the women’s wrestling revolution. [Femmezuigiri]

And Sports Illustrated‘s deadnaming of Caitlyn Jenner was bigoted and invalidating to the trans community. [SBS Zela]

Jesse Williams made a stirring speech about racism in America at the BET Awards. [BET]

I spoke to Sonia Nair about working part time in a non-creative industry while trying to make writing work. [The Cusp]

Why isn’t Kanye West a gay icon? [MTVNews]

What porn and wrestling have in common: a lack of unions. [In These Times]

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes election fiction from the point of view of Melania Trump. [NYTimes]

Image via Netflix.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

disney princess cinderella domestic violence

The latest artists’ take on Disney princesses and social awareness features Cinderella, Ariel et al. as victims of domestic violence. [Daily Life]

Occupy protestor Cecily McMillan reports on the conditions inside Rikers Island Correctional Facility. And let me tell you, this ain’t no Orange is the New Black shit. [Jezebel]

There’s a difference between a feminist character and a character who’s a feminist. [Persephone Magazine]

Speaking of, Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy is more feminist than Scandal:

“… The attention and praise Rhimes has received for casting [Kerry] Washington as [Olivia] Pope has overshadowed the fact that what Rhimes got right with her female characters in Grey’s, she got wrong in Scandal

“When it comes to their personal lives, the women in Scandal are insecure, vulnerable and reactive, while the ones in Grey’s are stronger, self-assured and reflective.” [In These Times]

And ICYMI, I wrote about feminism on the latest season of Grey’s Anatomy and victim-blaming.

The 74th Down Under Feminist Blog Carnival is up, and one of my pieces about Orange is the New Black is featured. Head on over to check it, and much more feminist writing from the Aussie interwebs, out. [Pondering Postfeminism]

Jasmine Shea boycotted her local Hobby Lobby store by making pro-choice statements with their craft supplies. [Feministing]

In the wake of True Blood‘s final season, Katherine Murray discusses its troubling sexual politics. [Bitch Flicks]

Image via Daily Life.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Rihanna-CFDA

Rihanna is a feminist icon. [Birdee]

ICYMI: Physical and mental health in Orange is the New Black‘s prison industrial complex.

The damaging melodramatic tropes of the Nicholas Sparks movie:

“In sexual pornography, the intended result is orgasm—and a temporary quelling of desire for sex. In emotional pornography, the end result is tears and hope—and a temporary quelling of desire for love. One caters to the stereotypical feminine sexual desire to see the sex act narrativised—it’s all about the building-up-to, much less about the money shot—while the other switches the priorities, disposing of exposition in favour of one climax after another. Both, however, are but temporary substitutes, and ultimately end in the hunger for more sex, more emotional fulfilment, yet with distorted instructions on how to obtain them.

“It’s a version, however glowy, of the American dream. But it’s not the dream of the 1950s, with its yearning for the single, nuclear-family home, the freedom to consume, the white picket fence, the washing machine, the perfect mother. Rather, the Sparks American dream harkens back to the 19th-century iteration, with its visions of a bucolic rural space, rugged individualism, and the security of the sprawling extended family, where the men are men and the women are women.” [Buzzfeed]

Hook and the dadcentricity of the ’90s. [The Paris Review]

Feminists have daddy issues. [Medium]

When a person of colour says something is racist, you should probably listen to them. [Daily Life]

Image via Marie Claire.

Physical & Mental Health in Orange is the New Black.

orange is the new black season 2 cast

Whereas last year’s inaugural season of Netflix’ women’s prison effort, Orange is the New Black, introduced us to the myriad characters in Litchfield Penitentiary through the incarceration of the WASPy Piper Chapman, this year is all about the more diverse women that wear orange (well, mostly beige).

Specifically, we see the challenges of staying physically and mentally healthy in America’s prison industrial complex.

Last season we did see some of these issues come to light; transgendered inmate Sophia Burset, played by the incomparable Laverne Cox, had her hormone medication limited due to concerns about the drug’s side effects, while Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren’s mental illness was a comedic calling card for the show.

This year Suzanne’s backstory gets more airtime, as well as an explosive trajectory for Lorna Morello, which reveals that though both women probably need psychological counselling, they’re not going to get it at the indebted Litchfield. Instead, their issues fall through the cracks so much so that only Nicky is privy to exactly what Morello did to land her in prison.

Season two has been applauded for giving more airtime to the minor characters who also happen to be from racial minorities: Gloria, the Hispanic cook who took over the kitchen from Red and is serving time for welfare fraud, and her Latina cohorts; Vee, Taystee and Poussey’s familial-love triangle cum drug ring, and Rosa, the bank robber with terminal ovarian cancer.

There’s also been an influx of older women this season, whom feminist recapper Sady Doyle describes as a “knitting circle” with “an alarming tendency to shiv people”. This includes dementia-ridden Jimmy, who wanders the grounds (and even inadvertently escapes!) looking for her presumably long-dead husband, Jack. Due to her deteriorating mental state, Jimmy is given “compassionate leave” which is revealed to be not-so-compassionate when you take into account that she has no family to look after her and is without the mental faculties to secure herself a home or care. Inmate Frieda predicts she’ll be out on the streets and “dead within a week”.

Jimmy’s release is apparently due to the above mentioned “budget cuts”, which seem to be happening all too regularly at Litchfield. Reporter Andrew Nance contacts Piper’s ex-fiance, writer Larry, and later Piper herself, to see if he can get the inside scoop on the missing millions from Litchfield.

There was talk of the building of a new gym, but that money—along with the gym—is nowhere to be found. The inmates’ bathrooms are leaking raw sewage and they have no heating in the Eastern winter. The prison’s dire financial state comes to a festering head in the penultimate episode of the season as a storm rips through Litchfield, leaving the prison flooded and without power, a backup generator and whatever functioning plumbing they had left.

These appalling conditions contribute to newcomer Brooke Soso, Yoga Jones, Sister Jane and some girls from Pensatucky’s former laundry crew going on a hunger strike. Sister Jane’s past as an activist comes to light, and let’s just say she’s not as selfless as she makes herself out to be. Having said that, though, she berates prison administrator Caputo for releasing Jimmy with no accountability:

“The elderly are the fastest growing population in prison and they have special needs. So-called ‘compassionate release’ in lieu of care is completely unacceptable. You can’t dump sick old ladies on the street. It’s unconscionable, inhumane and illegal.”

Surely Rosa would be a better candidate for compassionate release as she has weeks to live?

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Sophia leads the inmates in an episode-long exploration of “which hole” pee comes out of and the importance of knowing your body.

This season really attempts to get at life in America’s underfunded and overcrowded minimum security prison system. While there’s still a ways to go in achieving a realistic portrayal of the dire reality many incarcerated women face, it’s the only piece of pop culture striving to do so. If it keeps heading in that direction, who knows the depths season three will plumb, so to speak.

Elsewhere: [In These Times] Orange is the New Black Makes Other TV Look Quaint.

[Global Comment] How Progressive is Orange is the New Black, Really?