How much do your favourite TV characters actually make? [Refinery 29]
On reclaiming the word “disabled”. [Daily Life]
How much do your favourite TV characters actually make? [Refinery 29]
On reclaiming the word “disabled”. [Daily Life]
I’m getting straight back into it in the New Year, with pieces about abuse in Jessica Jones, what World Wrestling Entertainment can learn from Jem & the Holograms‘ flop and why its spate of injuries might be a good thing for other wrestlers. [Bitch Flicks, The Spectacle of Excess, Cageside Seats]
On selfies. [Matter]
Forget the manbun. The latest in men’s hair styling are manbraids. And they’re cultural appropriation. [Ms. Magazine]
Erin Riley kicking goals (mixing metaphors, I know) with her piece on the Chris Gayle incident being a symptom of a much larger problem with sexism in sport. [Daily Life]
There’s been plenty of coverage of Cole Miller’s death by one punch, but what about Indigenous man Trevor Duroux’s death of the same? [New Matilda]
The history of glitter. [Broadly]
The history of toplessness. [Broadly]
And the history of the crystal ball. [Broadly]
In the wake of allegations made against porn star James Deen by his ex-partner and fellow porn performer Stoya, as well as several other performers, both Ann Friedman and Amanda Hess attempt to unpack what it means when women hold men who express feminist sentiments up as feminist heroes. [The Cut, Slate]
And while Deen may have been put on a pedestal, he and other violent men illustrate the low standards we actually hold them to. [Junkee]
Stoya’s business partner Kayden Kross explains why they chose to keep scenes featuring Deen on their website, TrenchcoatX (NSFW). [UnKrossed]
I wrote about Meredith Grey, of Grey’s Anatomy, and her woman problem. [Bitch Flicks]
“The Myth of the Tight Pussy.” [Medium]
“Why Do Teen Girls Like Gay Porn?” [Broadly]
Three ways to make pop culture more diverse. [This Ain’t Livin’]
Unpacking Showgirls‘ infamous pool sex scene (NSFW). [The Frisky]
In July it came out that in 2005 Bill Cosby admitted in a sworn deposition to buying Quaaludes with the intent to use them to rape women, not to “have sex with them” as headlines read.
Around the same time, former Playboy Playmate and Hugh Hefner’s “No. 1 Girlfriend” Holly Madison released an incriminating memoir, entitled Down the Rabbit Hole, about her time in the Playboy Mansion and how it often involved Quaalude-addled group sex with Hefner.
You might remember that late last year when we finally started to pay attention to the long-standing assault allegations against Cosby after a deluge more came to light, Hefner wrote in a statement that “Bill Cosby has been a good friend for many years and the mere thought of these allegations is truly saddening. I would never tolerate this kind of behaviour, regardless of who was involved”.
Putting aside the fact that Cosby and Hefner are friends (14% of Cosby’s accusers were employees or guests of Playboy at the time of their assaults), both men’s predilection for drugging women to better inure them to sex is a damning testament to their power in Hollywood.
It would seem that since last year reports of sexual and physical violence against women have begun to be taken more seriously. As of this writing, 2015 alone as seen 63 women be murdered by their intimate partners or killed in gendered attacks, according to Destroy the Joint’s Counting Dead Women project. The prevalence of these crimes doesn’t necessarily mean that women are experiencing more violence but perhaps that we’ve started to actually give a shit about it.
The striking similarities of the stories of the upwards of 40 Cosby accusers with nothing to gain should be enough to prioritise their safety and justice over the comedian’s legacy and power, but alas, it took the comedian’s own admission for reruns to be cut from networks and a statue in his likeness at Disneyland to be taken down. And even then, apologists such as The View co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Raven-Symoné urge us to resist making a “snap judgement” despite the “proof”. (Goldberg has since come around, saying on The View that “all off the information that’s out there kind of points to guilt.”)
“What did these women do to get themselves in that situation?”, we ask, particularly in the case of apparently complicit women like Madison and others who frequented the Playboy Mansion.
Madison explains in Down the Rabbit Hole that “I was about to be homeless. I had no place to go and was panicking over what to do next when this opportunity with Hef just sort of fell into my lap. If I became a girlfriend, I would have somewhere to live. If I became part of Playboy’s inner circle, perhaps that could even help my career.”
“The Playboy Mansion… had been both my safe haven—and my prison,” she continues.
What further kept Madison trapped was her decreased confidence and self-worth upon becoming a girlfriend. Hefner’s six other girlfriends at the time Madison moved in were also plagued by insecurities which Madison says led them to bully her. And, in turn, “my shrinking violet personality was a sign of submission that [Hef] used to manipulate the other women.” When Madison tried to have an intelligent conversation with the man she supposedly loved and whom expressed love for her, “he would scoff at whatever I said. It didn’t matter if my remark was educated or even correct, because if I said it, it must be wrong.” In attempting to exert her independence and autonomy by getting a makeover, Hefner belittled Madison, calling her “old, hard and cheap”. After a seemingly throwaway comment from Madison about fellow girlfriend and Girls Next Door star Kendra Baskett (nee Wilkinson), Hefner screamed at Madison to “stop being such a fucking CUNT!”
“He frightened me,” she writes.
Just because young women seek out rich men to experience the fame and fortune they otherwise wouldn’t have access to doesn’t mean they consented to inebriated sex. On the same night she refused Quaaludes from Hefner in a scenario that made headlines upon publication of the book, “I can’t even begin to tell you how much vodka and champagne I consumed… While I patted myself on the back for turning down the pills, by the time we left the club, I couldn’t have been any more incoherent” for her first group sex encounter with Hefner.
The ostensibly compromised integrity of Madison and others who’ve written similar accounts of their time with Hef, like Hefner’s former girlfriend Izabella St. James, and their previous contributions to maintaining the glass curtain Hef and the Mansion are shrouded in makes them less likely to be believed.
Also making headlines for embellished claims was Rolling Stone’s damning article entitled “A Rape on Campus” at the University of Virginia in which reporter Sabrina Erdely failed to properly corroborate the alleged victim Jackie’s story by seeking out other sources before the story went to press. While the feminist and left-leaning media have made it clear that Erdely and Rolling Stone were at fault, a report was issued further blaming the very people it was supposed to protect: sexual assault victims.
“The editors and Erdely have concluded that their main fault was to be too accommodating of Jackie because she described herself as the survivor of a terrible sexual assault,” the report says, feeding all-too-perfectly into blame-the-victim rhetoric.
Chloe Angyal wrote at Feministing that “‘Jackie’ will become shorthand for people seeking to discredit future allegations of rape” just as Fatal Attraction’s “Bunny Boiler” has for unhinged women who trap and frame innocent men.
Even in the face of overwhelming evidence such as that surrounding the 2014 Isla Vista shooter, Elliot Rodger, society doesn’t believe women when we tell them that harassment and a general feeling of being unsafe is something that happens on a daily basis for many of us. The hashtag #yesallwomen was spawned in an effort to debunk that. Despite the fact that the killer sent an accompanying 140-page manifesto to former friends and family members outlining his murderous intentions, people were still willing to believe that Rodger and men like him (#notallmen) are “good blokes”, while “blonde sluts” are to blame for “starv[ing him] of sex” .
Going back to Hefner, in 2005’s Female Chauvinist Pigs, author Ariel Levy speaks at length with Hefner’s daughter Christie, then CEO of Playboy Enterprises. Like Cosby and his respectability politics, Levy also quotes from past interviews with Hef in which he claims to be a champion for women and, dare I say it, a feminist.
In the book, Christie is described as the founder of many women-friendly organisations, such as Emily’s List, which works to elect pro-choice Democratic candidates to office, and the Committee of 200, which runs a mentor program between successful business women and young women and girls. Levy writes,
“The Playboy Foundation also gave grant money to NOW’s Legal Defence and Education Fund and supported the ERA; Hefner personally hosted a fundraiser for it at the Playboy Mansion. ‘I was a feminist before there was such a thing as feminism!’ Hefner has said. A mutual friend even tried to set him up on a date with Gloria Steinem before she became famous.”
(Arguably the piece that made Steinem famous was an undercover exposé on the hostile and sexist conditions at New York City’s Playboy Club, including immediate dismissal for accepting a date with a customer.)
Just because someone calls themselves a feminist, does it make it so? Sarah Palin and Tony Abbott have done so, but their public policies and conversational faux pas would indicate that they are anything but.
The same could be said of Cosby’s respectability politics. On the surface it might look like Cosby is championing his race, but really it’s about minorities policing their own behaviour in an effort to prove how “good” and worthy they are of fair treatment by the powers that be. Cosby has done such an expert job of portraying himself as black America’s father figure that defenders like Raven-Symoné (in whose case Cosby literally played her grandfather on TV) are still in his corner.
In Female Chauvinist Pigs, Levy quotes from a 1967 interview with Hefner that the self-professed feminist does “not look for equality between man and woman… I like innocent, affectionate, faithful girls.” Perhaps that’s why he challenged Madison’s post-Playboy life as not being “happy, healthy and productive”: because she, like the 41 women who kept Cosby’s secret for up to 49 years in the earliest reported case, didn’t play along with the socially prescribed rule to put up (or out) and shut up when it comes to powerful men.
Related: The Year of the Stalker.
Roxane Gay and Erica Jong discuss feminism, illustrating its generational, cultural and racial divides. [The Guardian]
Speaking of illustration, MariNaomi did just that for their talk! [Electric Literature]
Why aren’t we talking about Kesha’s rape case? [Bitch Magazine]
Matt McGorry’s feminist journey. [Cosmopolitan]
We need to stop romanticising colonialism. [Daily Life]
Why is The Bachelorette so white? [The Guardian]
And can we forgive the men who victimise them after they’ve publicly apologised? [The Guardian]
Long hair and its ties to femininity. [Spook Magazine]
More links can be found in the latest installment of the Down Under Feminists Carnival. [Transcendancing]
Why we find the sexualised violence of #BBHMM so disturbing. [HuffPo Women]
The Supreme Court of the United States’ landmark decision to legalise marriage equality nation wide is great, but the freedom to marry should also mean the freedom not to marry. [The Cut]
Has Kim changed… or just the way we think about her? [Daily Life]
“My hope is that going forward we can have a Pennsatucky Test for rape scenes much like the Bechdel Test. Is the victim’s point-of-view shown? Does the scene have a purpose for existing for character, rather than plot, advancement? Is the emotional aftermath explored? As long as sexual assault continues to be a scourge of our society, TV shows ought to mine the subject; it’s important we keep the conversation going. Just take care of your characters. Don’t rape ’em and leave ’em. They deserve to have their trauma acknowledged. They deserve to have their stories told.” [Vulture]
Grief in the time of social media. [Kill Your Darlings]
To celebrate U.S. series UnREAL‘s renewal and debut on Australian screens on Stan, read about how the show flips the reality TV script and how it’s pushing the boundaries of female masturbation. [Vulture, TV Tonight, The New Yorker, HuffPo Women]
Mums with guns. [Jezebel]
Magic Mike XXL was released this week and I wrote about the original here. [TheVine]
The latest Down Under Feminists Carnival has much more Aussie and Kiwi feminist goodness to keep you satisfied. [A Bee of a Certain Age]
“… Be conventionally attractive and feminine, and you get reduced to your appearance like any cis woman; don’t, and people won’t accept your identity as legitimate.” [Vocativ]
I asked if Kris Jenner is a bad mother. [Bitch Flicks]
The age gap between some of Hollywood’s most in demand young actresses—Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence—and their much older on-screen love interests. [Vulture]
How Mansplaining, the Statue went viral. [Weird Sister]
To ladyblog or not to ladyblog? [Slate]
The language we use to speak about rape may be part of the problem.
Sport is the “great equaliser”. Except when it comes to race:
“Indigenous players are ‘Australians when they’re winning and Aborigines at other times.'” [Overland]
To all those busybodies who enquire when you’re going to have children: “I am writing my final no-thank-you note.” [Longreads]