’Tis the Season…

… for office Christmas parties.

As opposed to the boring lunches a few of my friends have mentioned their workplaces hold, my employer happens to go all out on the Christmas party front.

Last year’s theme was horror (odd for that time of the year, I know), and I came up with a Bride of Chucky costume, complete with doll. However, I was struck down with the flu a few days beforehand and was unable to attend. The fact they had a dance instructor teaching partygoers “Thriller” just added insult to injury.

This year, however, the theme is pirates.

As a member of the planning committee, I fought tirelessly (and by I, I mean my friend Laura, as I was in the midst of a wisdom-tooth haze when the theme was being chosen) to push through our original idea of cartoons, and failing that, 1920s/’30s swing.

Unfortunately, misogyny won out, and a pirate theme it was.

Talk about unoriginality, though. There are about three options of pirates in popular culture to use as a reference point: Pirates of the Caribbean (how many Jack Sparrow-wannabe’s but could-never-be’s will there be walking around?), Pirates of Penzance, and Peter Pan. If someone were to really think outside the box, they could get a party of five (pardon the pun) or six together and go as The Wiggles and Dorothy the Dinosaur, with Captain Feathersword as the MVP of the group.

Notice that these three ensembles have very limited roles for women. And as a workplace that employs just as many women as men, pirates is very limiting to the fairer sex.

Serendipitously, I happened to happen upon a three-year-old post by Rachel Hills discussing exactly this.

“‘I didn’t realise the boys were meant to come as pirates and the girls were meant to come as skanks,’” Hills’ friend laments at a pirate-themed party.

My point exactly; pirates is all well and good for men who are young-at-heart, and men who perhaps want to get their gear off and go shirtless, and men in general, but women are faced with exactly two options: slutty pirate or slutty wench.

Now I’ve got some co-workers who are happy to go as more masculine pirates. (One friend, Lana, sent me a picture the other day of her costume, and you can hardly tell it’s her and she looks great.) I haven’t come across many friends who are going as wenches, which may be a testament to my own views (and thus the changing views of society?) on the topic, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of buxom babes letting the stress of the year off their chests. In what was a poignant throwback-forward, perhaps, from my friend and former co-worker Tess, she came dressed as a pirate for my Halloween-themed birthday party this year, and managed to retain her dignity.

Sure, wenches are traditionally slutty by name and by nature, as noted in the comments of Hills’ abovementioned article, but that’s not the problem I have with them.

I’m the first to put my hand up (whilst simultaneously holding my skirt down) to embrace my inner sartorial slut when it comes to hitting the town (Hello?! Have you seen my Halloween costume?), and while I will not be attending my Christmas party as a wench, there will still be a hefty dose of slut in my outfit (pictures to come next week).

The problem I have with the limiting theme is that there is no room for originality or diversity, particularly for the female members of the payroll. It’s one slut fits all.

Related: The Witching Hour: Halloween/My Birthday at Witches in Britches Cabaret.

Elsewhere: [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Attractive = Hot = Not Much Clothing On?

[Rabbit White] In Defence of Slut-O-Ween.

[Rabbit White] Defence of Slut-O-Ween II: Straight People’s Pride?

[The Stranger] Happy Heteroween.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Just a short one this week, as I haven’t had a lot of time for reading. L

Rabbit White ponders the things she learnt about her own sexuality from the men at Mr. International Rubber:

“It is being put in a sexual situation when you are non-sexual. It’s being introduced to a new world all at once. But it’s not long before I feel comfortable here, basking in male sexuality that is totally not directed at me. I think I finally getting the draw to being a ‘fag hag’or ‘fairy princess’. I get to gawk and join in the lust without fear of being pulled in or anxiety of protecting myself. In the view from here, human sexuality is a celebration and male sexuality is valid and uniquely cool.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve read advice columns where girls write in, worried about their smell or unable to enjoy sex because they are self conscious. Perhaps it’s because girls are taught to please everyone else, putting themselves last, but there just seems to be something in female sexuality that is uncomfortable with receiving pleasure. Look at all the women’s mags, obsessed with ‘how to please a man’.

“But maybe the ‘pig’ concept could lessen fears around receiving pleasure. What if your partner liked you sweaty, smelly, just the way you are right now? And just wanted more and more and more of that.”

Sady Doyle, of Tiger Beatdown (lots of feminist goodness from them this week) discusses “The Fantasy of Girl World”:

“The fantasy of girl world often feels like the feminist imagination taken to its most self-indulgent, hypocritical extremes. We stand for tolerance and egalitarianism, whereas the people who disagree with us are IGNORANT WIFE-BEATING MONSTERS. Women, if left on their own, would eliminate war, poverty, heartbreak and pets that are not cats. But, here’s a question for you: Why shouldn’t it look like this? What’s wrong with a wish-fulfilment fantasy that tells women they could do well with power and without oppression? What’s wrong with girls geeking out over the idea that they’re special?”

Glee’s Rocky Horror episode failed to touch-a, touch-a, touch-a, touch Garland Grey at Tiger Beatdown:

“Early on in the episode Mike volunteers to play Dr. Frank-N-Furter, but a few scenes later he says his parents won’t allow him to play a ‘tranny’. Mercedes takes the role, delivering a show stopping version of ‘Sweet Transvestite’, but the word ‘transsexual’ is replaced by ‘sensational’. For Glee, transpeople are punch lines, not anyone the show needs to fucking think about. While doing Rocky Horror Picture Show, a musical whose entire message is about accepting people’s sexuality and gender.

“Can we just cut out losses and rename this show Chord Overstreet in Tiny Gold Shorts? Clearly, he is fanservice and I don’t even care… However, as much as I appreciated seeing his abs, I didn’t care for the oddly-specific diet regimen he blurts out before showing them or the comically small weights Artie was holding. Artie’s a paraplegic, pushing himself everywhere in his wheelchair, lifting himself in and out of it dozens of times a day, and THAT is the biggest weight he’s lifting? That weight is a clear signal to the audience that Artie doesn’t belong in the locker room and is only there to provide comic relief…”

The four types of Facebook friends, according to Susan Orlean.

The Pervocracy on the “Slut, Deconstructed”:

“I’m 25. I lost my virginity at 15. So 26 partners is only two or three a year. It’s hardly going home with a new guy every night. To break it down further, 6 of those partners were serious romantic relationships, and you can’t call a girl slutty for sleeping with her own boyfriend, right? So now it’s 20 casual partners over 10 years—a raging, wild, man-eating two per year. I’m so cock-crazy I need it every six months, baby…

“Oh, and a woman in ‘my god, you can see her everything’ clothing dancing on tables and flirting with every guy in the bar might be a virgin for all you know about her.”

It’s the wrong time of year here, but there’s not many things I love more than trawling through the gossip magazines in summer, style-stalking the celebrities in Aspen and New York, longing for cool weather again to break out the beanies, woollen cardigans and shearling coats (okay, wrong continent for shearling!).

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Millennials Magazine profiles the beauty of the to-do list, Daniel D’Addario gets nostalgic for Daria Morgendorffer, while Katie Baker wishes she was an orphan:

“Orphans are adored by their peers, but tormented by evil guardians, stay cool under pressure and abuse, and rarely fail to win true familial love and affection in the end.”

Also at Millennials Mag, the awesomeness of The O.C. was that “it was just fucking dramatic”:

“Kirsten’s an alcoholic. Marissa almost dies in an alley in Tijuana. Luke’s dad turns out to be gay. Luke and Julie Cooper hook up, grossly. Seth, who’s supposed to be this huge nerd, nabs the most popular girl in school. Summer gets into Brown, which is actually kind of realistic considering her money, but that’s another story. Obviously some lesbian stuff happens. Marissa shoots Trey. Marissa dies. Ryan and Taylor go into a parallel universe while in a coma. And yet everyone keeps on being rich and impossibly well dressed and extremely easy on the eyes.”

“The 9 Most Racist Disney Characters.”

Continuing with the “Why Don’t You Love Me?” theme, Tiger Beatdown discusses the cultural relevance of Beyonce’s anthem, in relation to buying access to a stripper’s body via a $10 lap dance:

“I was able to buy access to this woman’s body and (very convincing) pretend affections for less than I would spend picking up a couple of last-minute things at the grocery store. It was worth almost nothing. Less than an oil change. Less than someone cutting my hair. Less than getting a decent tailor to hem a pair of pants. Less than a bouquet of roses.

“And that’s the day that I realized we were all the victims of a sick joke. A despicable charade where so much is demanded of women, so much compliance and poking and prodding, so much effort to make ourselves beautiful and radiant and perfect, so much forcing of square pegs into round holes, just so we could meet it all, do it all, get close to the apex of perfection and still be worth nothing. We would be left with alienation from our own bodies, our bodies that we squeezed into stilettos and shaved and waxed and whittled into tiny silhouettes at the gym, always striving for more perfect, thinner, prettier, more alluring. Working so hard to satisfy the cultural imperative toward female perfection—how could we have time for our own desires except to be desired?

“Latoya Peterson writes about the video that ‘Once again, Beyoncé’s lyrics define her positive attributes in the context of why she should be desirable to some fool that doesn’t appreciate her. The video, however, is a lot more interesting since, with Beyoncé playing the role of “B.B. Homemaker”, it is openly mocking a lot of the ideals and tenets of womanhood’. I’d go much further than that. I’d say that the song and the video together form a radical critique of femininity, full stop. Because this is what femininity is about: making yourself appealing to men by adhering as closely possible to cultural ideals of perfect womanhood. Her lyric is not ‘when I am so damn easy to love’, but ‘when I make me so damn easy to love’. It’s effort, it’s a construct, it is something she does and not something that she is. It is performative.”

“Man up” seems to be a fairly frequently used phrase in my vernacular, and The New York Times ponders its true meaning:

“But man up isn’t just being used to package machismo as a commodity. Its spectrum of meanings runs from ‘Don’t be a sissy; toughen up’ all the way to ‘Do the right thing; be a mensch,’ to use the Yiddishism for an honourable or upright person. The Man Up Campaign, for instance, is a new global initiative that engages youth to stop gender-based violence: ‘Our call to action challenges each of us to “man up” and declare that violence against women and girls must end,’ its mission statement reads.”

Now that is something we can all certainly man up stand up for.

The top ten reasons why anyone follows anyone who’s anyone on Twitter.

Uplift Magazine on those Crystal Renn food photos.

In defence of books:

“Many books are screwy, a great many are dull, some are irredeemable, and there are way too many of them, probably, in the world. I hate all the fetishistic twaddle about books promoted by the chain stores and the book clubs, which make books seem as cozy and unthreatening as teacups, instead of the often disputatious and sometimes frightening things they are. I recognize that we now have many ways to convey, store, and reproduce the sorts of matter that formerly were monopolized by books. I like to think that I’m no bookworm, egghead, four-eyed paleface library rat. I often engage in activities that have no reference to the printed words. I realize that books are not the entire world, even if they sometimes seem to contain it. But I need the stupid things.”

The perils of HalloSlut-o-Ween, at Rabbit White.

Meet Me at Mike’s Pip Lincolne writes about what makes a successful blog.

More on the Glee/GQ photo shoot scandal, this time from NPR and the girls at Go Fug Yourself.

Profile: Rachel Hills of Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.

I’ve only become familiar with Rachel Hills, sex and gender blogger at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, in the past few months, but she’s made her way to the top of my must-read blogs. Here, she answers questions about her inspiration, future writing goals and what she does in her spare time in a new city (she recently moved from Australia to begin a new chapter of her life in London).

Can you give us a quick run-down of your professional writing portfolio thus far?

I’ve been freelancing for six years now, and have written for (in alphabetical order) the ABC, The Age, The Australian, The Big Issue, The Bulletin, The Canberra Times, Cleo, Cosmopolitan, The Courier-Mail, Girlfriend, Girls’ Life (US), Glamour (UK), The Huffington Post, Jezebel, The Monthly, New Matilda, Russh, Sunday Life, Sunday Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald, Vogue, The Walkley Magazine and YEN, as well as a bunch of smaller, indie magazines and blogs.

I got my start writing opinion pieces for the Sydney Morning Herald. These days, I usually write “think piece” features on personal-is-political type issues, or women’s mag fare with smarts.

How long have you been blogging at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman and what made you decide to start a blog?

I just did a quick scan of my archives and discovered I just reached my three year anniversary on October 30.

I’ve written for the internet pretty much ever since it was possible to (I started my first website in 1998), but I was always kind of hesitant of writing publicly under my own name. As a teenager because of my secret pop music loving shame, as a university student because I was involved in student politics and that makes you extremely paranoid (not of people digging up info on you when you become a politician, but of people digging up info on you and putting it in the student newspaper), and then as an adult because I didn’t want to cannibalise my own story ideas.

I cracked through basically because I loved reading other people’s blogs, and because I was inspired by the way that other journalistsparticularly in the USwere using blogs to connect with their audiences. My blog was quite different when I first started writing it, thoughit was more a mix of political commentary, scrapbook and lifecast, as opposed to the more reflective, personal-is-political blog it is today.

What are some of your favourite blogs?

I have a soft spot for blogs which make you feel like you’re getting to know the person writing itblogs like Gala Darling, Girl With A Satchel, Wordsmith Lane, The Ch!cktionary, Emily Magazine, Garance Dore, Style Rookie and The Scarlett Woman [that’s me!] are often at the top of my Google Reader.

I also love blogs that make me think about thingsFeministe, Pandagon, The Awl, Tiara The Merch Girl, Rabbit White, Kapooka Baby, Jezebel, Hugo Schwyzer, Racialicious. And people like Chris Brogan, Seth Godin and Chris Guillebeau are like mentors I’ve never met when it comes to things like blogging and community building.

I’ve lost count of the number of blogs I subscribe to on Google Reader, though, so that’s really just scraping the surface of what I read.

What has been your proudest writing-related achievement to date?

I don’t think I actually have one! There are lots of stories I’m fond of, and I still get excited whenever I get a story up, but there isn’t one that stands out as being more significant than the others. I suppose the one I was most proud of at the time was that first opinion piece in the SMH. And I hope my book will be my proudest writing accomplishment in a couple of years.

And your proudest non-writing achievement?

In 2006, I travelled around the US meeting some of my favourite journalists and editors: people from The Economist, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, US Cosmopolitan and so on. Very nerdy, but also very gutsy lots of people at home thought I was a bit of a weirdo for attempting it (with a couple of notable exceptions). I’m quite proud of that.

Back to your book, to be titled The Sex Myth; how is it coming along?

Haha, it’s coming along okay. I’m dedicating a lot of time to it at the moment, and there are bits of it that I really like, which is nice. I’ve shown the overview to a few high profile people, and the response has been universally very positive. I’m just trying to get everything in place at the moment to translate that positivity into a kickass book deal.

You’ve written about workaholism and the work/life balance in the past. How do you balance all your commitments?

It was much, much harder when I was living in Australia and holding down a near full-time job. Now that I’m working for myself again, it’s much easier to fit in all the things I want to work on, and living with my partner means I still make plenty of time for myself. (When he’s away, I start working later, procrastinating more and sleeping less.)

That said, even working for myself, I’m still managing four main areas of workfreelancing, book, PhD and blogonly one of which pays. So finding time for all of them can be a bit tricky.

What is your favourite way to unwind?

Having spent the past two and a half years of my life reading books on the philosophy of sex, I’ve developed a bit of a fiction obsession recently. It’s so much easier and more relaxing to read than the academic stuff I’m usually buried in.

I’m also really enjoying getting to know London, and digging out all the interesting things there are to do here. My boyfriend often asks me how I manage to find all the things we check outphotographic treasure hunts, interactive theatre, art galleries, bars with secret passage ways.

And yoga. It’s clichéd, but it relaxes me, keeps me fit and keeps my bad neck (from too much time sitting in front of a computer) in proper alignment.

Because most bloggers write about things they’re passionate about, as I know both you and I do, do you find sometimes it’s a chore to churn out posts on, for example, mag-world musings or the happenings on your favourite TV show (you and I both share a penchant for Gossip Girl) and the like, as previously you would have done those things for pleasure? Because that’s definitely something I struggle with from time to time.

Because I write for a living, one thing I’m very careful to do is keep blogging a pleasure. The main way I do this is by writing when I’m feeling inspired: if the writing doesn’t flow easily, blogging starts to feel like an obligation… and while I have no concrete evidence of this, I suspect it makes the posts less interesting to read, too. If I’m not feeling inspired and haven’t updated much that week, I’ll try to find something else around the net that I think will be of interest to my audience and share that with them instead.

What advice do you have for other bloggers?

Don’t feel like you have to get it right immediately. Sure, the internet sticks around forever, so you want to think before you post, but blogging is something you learn by doing just like anything else, and chances are it will take you a while to find your best blogging voice. (It took me a while, and I’d been writing on the net for nearly 10 years and writing professionally for three when I started. And I’m still learning.) Experiment until you find that perfect intersection of what you love, what feels authentic for you, and what people respond to.

And finally, where do you see yourself, writing-wise, in the future?

I’d like to just keep on doing what I do now, only on a bigger and better level, with all the aspects of my work (journalism, blogging, books) feeding into one another.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman].

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

After my Mick Foley rant last week, I’ve started reading his blog, Countdown to Lockdown, and I’m loving it. Here are some choice articles:

Remembering female pro-wrestling pioneer, Luna Vachon, who passed away on August 27 this year.

“That Time I Met… Tina Fey… and Alec Baldwin!”

“That Time I Met… President William Jefferson Clinton!” (I really love this one; some heart-warming stuff.)

“Mick’s Favourite Things: Top Ten Matches”, three of whichCactus Jack VS. Randy Orton at Backlash 2004 (above), Mankind VS. The Undertaker in Hell in a Cell in June, 1998, and Mick Foley VS. Edge in a Hardcore Match at WrestleMania XXII (that’s WrestleMania 22 in 2006 for you wrestling laymen)I 100% agree with.

In defence of Buffy’s whining.

“To the Teenage Boy in Your Life”:

“An important thing to remember is that girls are not from a different planet, nor are they even a different species. They’re just people, they’re just like boys, except with vulvas instead of penises.

“Mainly you need to remember this when you’re trying to figure out what a girl is thinking. See, if you didn’t know what a BOY was thinking, how would you go about finding out? You might ask him, right? The same goes for girls.”

I’m a bit behind the eight-ball on this one, as No Make-Up Week was a month ago, but Alle Malice’s guest post on Rabbit Write goes over the reasons “Why We Wear Make-Up”. I especially like this one:

“It makes me look good in photos. Almost everything we do now is documented by someone and posted in Facebook albums for the world to see, because if you aren’t having fun on Facebook, you aren’t really having fun. And if you aren’t pretty on the internet, you aren’t pretty in real life. Enter makeup.”

Nick Sylvester, on Riff City, discusses “How Kanye West’s Online Triumphs Have Eclipsed Kanye West”:

“Maybe there are people working with him… but I get the sense that Kanye is generating the [sic] lot of these ideas. I imagine he likes being in control of every aspect of the production, the medium being the message and so on. Online he is a wise fool, first playing into people’s perceptions of ‘Kanye West’, then off those very perceptions, sending himself up, pulling back his own veil… Despite many attempts, Kanye West is incapable of being parodied, largely because Kanye West has already figured out a way to be a parody of Kanye West.”

Much like Megan Fox in this New York Times Magazine article. Could I even go as far as to say that blonde bombshell Pamela Anderson has employed this strategy? I believe I could. And for that matter, Lindsay Lohan sending herself up on Funny or Die and promos for the MTV VMAs are along the same lines.

Sylvester goes on to say that “artists like Kanye West have to be ‘good at Twitter’ in order to put a dent in the zeitgeist.”

Furthermore,

“‘Nowadays rappers, they like bloggers,’ is what Swizz Beatz says… Slowly the work itself becomes secondary, less ambitious; slowly people becomes ‘really proud of their tweets’.”

Is it “The End of Men”?

Disney’s latest offering, Tangled, based on the story of Rapunzel, takes us back to a time when the Disney Princess reigned supreme, according to io9.

Feminist Themes examines Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” clip:

“… the objectification, glamorising of lesbian fetishism, and excessive girl-on-girl violence… [are aspects of the video that] feminist Gaga fans can try to justify… as another example of how she subversively turns what we usually find hot into something that leaves a nasty taste in our mouths and therefore makes a statement, but if any other artist (particularly any male artist) incorporated this much objectification and violence against women we would be outraged. Is it any different just because it’s a woman, or because it’s specifically Gaga?

“… What sets Gaga apart from other sexpot pop stars for me is that I just can’t imagine men being honestly turned on by hernot because she isn’t gorgeous (she is), but because she is so avant-garde, aggressive and self-driven which takes that arousal and turns it into something atypical, uncomfortable, and threatening.”

Also at Feminist Themes, the cause of the she-blogger in “Why I Blog”.

In other Gaga news, The Cavalier Daily reports that the University of Virginia is now running Lady Gaga classes! This sooo makes me want to re-enrol in university in a post-grad, transfer to UV, and take this kick-ass class!

The Daily Beast puts forth two differing opinions on Glee’s stereotypes: Andy Dehnart discusses the show’s “Harmful Simplicity”, while Thaddeus Russell applauds the walking stereotype that is Kurt Hummel, as “history tells us that those unafraid to be ‘too gay’ won far more freedomsfor all of usthan those who dressed the part of straights.”

Beautifully satiric The Frenemy reveals the recipe to “The Teen Romantic Comedy”, which “does not work for Mean Girls, 10 Things I Hate About You, or John Hughes films”, unfortunately. The truth about Disney Princes is also profiled, in which Eric from The Little Mermaid “wanted to kiss a girl who doesn’t speak words and doesn’t know how to use a fork. What the hell are you, caveman?”, while Mulan’s Captain Shang is in truth, a “gay liar” who made young, susceptible viewers the girls who have “crushes on a lot of her gay friends. [A] big Will & Grace fan.” Hey, that’s me!

Rachel Hills discusses intersectionality in feminism:

“For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, ‘intersectionality’ is a way of talking about power and privilege that recognises that recognises that these things operate on multiple axes. People aren’t just female, or Black, or Asian, or straight, or working class, or trans, or a parent, or prone to depressioneveryone falls into a number of different categories that colours their experience of the world in specific ways. In the feminist context, it serves as a useful reminder that not all women have the same experiences, and calls into question the still dominant notion that the neutral ‘female’ experience is one that is white, heterosexual and middle-class.

“I’m also a fan because it just makes feminism a whole lot more interesting.”

Girl with a Satchel profiles Melissa Hoyer’s media career, which is a must-read for any budding wordsmith.

I am staunchly pro-choice when it comes to the abortion debate. In fact, I lean so far to the left that I’m borderline pro-abortion. (I’m sure that’ll ruffle some feathers!) But no matter what your feelings on the subject, MamaMia’s post, “The Couple Facing Jail Because They Tried To ‘Procure an Abortion’. Hello, Queensland? It’s 2010” is worth checking out.

Jezebel’s “5 Worst Mean (Little) Girls of All Time” includes Willy Wonka’s Veruca Salt and, from one of the most heart wrenching films of all time, A Little Princess, Lavinia, who looks a lot like modern-day mean girl, Angelina Pivarnick, from Jersey Shore.

“Why Strawberry Shortcake Was a Progressive Pioneer.”