For those of you who have subscribed to my posts, thank you. If you are looking for new posts, such as Movie Monday, you are out of luck here because I have MOVED! You can now find Adventures of a Young Feminist at http://adventuresofayoungfeminist.com.
Please update your subscriptions, links, blogrolls, bookmarks, etc, to reflect this change. Again, Adventures of a Young Feminist can now be found at http://adventuresofayoungfeminist.com.
THIS BLOG HAS MOVED!
Monday, August 31, 2009
For those of you who have subscribed to my posts, thank you. If you are looking for new posts, such as Movie Monday, you are out of luck here because I have MOVED! You can now find Adventures of a Young Feminist at http://adventuresofayoungfeminist.com.
Posted by Laura at 9:42 AM
Saturday, August 29, 2009
I have been blogging for over 2 month now and I love it! In order to expand my site and attract new readers, I have decided to switch to a self-hosted site. You can now find Adventures of a Young Feminist at http://adventuresofayoungfeminist.com.
All my previous posts are all over there as well as all comments that were made before this morning. If you have more comments to make on previous posts, please make them at the new site because I will not be checking this site for comments.
Please update your subscriptions, links, blogrolls, bookmarks, etc. to reflect this site change. I look forward to "seeing" you are the new site and seeing where this all takes us!
Friday, August 28, 2009
So you know back when Gardasil (the HPV vaccine) was approved and people wouldn't vaccinate their daughters because they thought it would promote promiscuity? That was a fun time. I never really understood this line of reasoning.
Apparently if a 10-year-old girl is given a vaccine that would help prevent cancer someone down the road, she will go out and have sex because there are no more worries! Not pregnancy, not STIs. The only worry that girls and teenagers have about sex is getting HPV. I don't mean to belittle the seriousness of HPV, but there are other risks to having sex than just HPV.
I got the Gardasil vaccine just this past year, but I know that if it had been around when I was younger, my mom would have had me vaccinated. Not because she thought I should have sex (she would have been supportive of that decision though...I think), but because she would want me to be protected against contracting HPV down the road.
At least from what I've been aware of, the drama over the Gardasil vaccine has calmed down. Now, the FDA is going to consider whether Gardasil should be approved for boys and young men. When I learned this, it made me wonder, would there have been such an uproar about it originally if Gardasil had been approved for boys as well.
As many of us know too well, boys (not all boys, but this is prevalent throughout society) are encouraged from a young age to view sex as a "conquest" and male teenagers and young men are seen as "studs", "playboys", etc. for sleeping with many women. Where as girls are encourage to "save" their virginity and purity for that special someone. These differing views of sexuality for boys and girls play right into the rigid gender norms of society.
So if Gardasil was approved for boys from the beginning, would it have been seen as promoting sex at a young age and promiscuity. Sadly, I don't think that it would have been seen that way.
Ashely at Small Strokes asked me to write a guest post for her series on teaching feminism in schools. I decided to expand off of my previous post about silencing feminists in a school setting. Make sure you check out Ashely's series, there is some great stuff going on over there! Here is what I wrote for the series:
One thing that I have been thinking a lot about lately is silencing. So when Ashley asked me to write a guest post for her teaching feminism in schools series, I thought I would write about the effect silencing has in a school setting.
Just one thing to remember: this is coming from the perspective of a student, not a teacher.
Feminism and women's studies were not taught in my high school. We'd have a unit on women's history, a unit on books written by women, etc. But those were usually some of the shortest units of the class and nothing was incorporated into the rest of the class. It just seemed like something the teachers wanted to get through because they had to, not something they were actually interested in.
The high school that I went to was overwhelmingly white, upper middle class, conservative, and Christian. I fit the mold in kin of two of these demographics. I'm white and middle class -- but by the standards of my fellow classmates, I was on the lower middle class end of the spectrum, though not by society's standards. I am not, however, conservative or that religious.
When I was in high school I definitely had feminist values, because that was the way that I was raised, but I don't remember ever calling myself a feminist during that time. I think a lot of this had to do with my high school atmosphere and the people that I associate with. While the teachers claimed that the classroom was a "safe environment," it wasn't really true. Having an opinion that was different (and sometimes radically different) than most of the other people in the class was not an easy thing and the teachers didn't really do a whole lot to encourage any type of discussion about it.
I really shouldn't blame the teachers entirely. In high school, I wasn't really the kind of person that raised their hand a lot. It wasn't cool to be smart and it definitely wasn't cool to have differing opinions. I didn't really fit in anyway, but I was too shy to actually say anything in class. But I often wonder if my voice was encouraged to be heard more often, if I would have been more willing to share it. But there's really no way of knowing.
Teaching feminism and women's studies in high school comes with a lot of responsibility. I think it is a great idea and necessary to the development of well-rounded students that feminism and women's studies be taught in middle school and high school. But where the responsibility comes in is making sure that you are discussing these topics in a truly safe environment for the students. It shouldn't be about "preaching" your values as a teacher but about fostering discussion about these important issues.
Students who voice differing opinions are often silenced in a classroom setting, not only by fellow students out of peer pressure, but also sometimes from teachers. While teaching feminism and women's studies, it is also important to teach about respect and practice respect yourself. It's important to encourage all opinions, even anti-feminist ones if they are made in a respectful manner. Silencing opinions of students, whether you agree with them or not, is not what is going to build confident students who are ready for the "real world." High schooler can be cruel, but when the silencing comes from teachers, I think it might be even more damaging.
The incorporation of feminism and women's studies into the curriculum has to be done in a way that avoids silencing. I don't really have any concrete ways of going about doing this because I am not familiar with teaching techniques. All I can say is try to be respectful and encourage respect in your students. Teaching feminism and women's studies should be about fostering discussion and bringing awareness to feminist issues, not only in the lives of students but in society as well. Silencing students who are respectful in their opinions is not the way to go about doing this.
Yes, American Girl dolls are still around. But they've changed. Here I am talking about the original American Girl dolls, the one that promoted women's history. A post at Small Strokes reminded me of how much I loved the American Girl dolls growing up:
Remember when there were only a few of them before they were a multi-million dollar national company? Those dolls were so popular among girls because they had their own historical timeline, and the timeline that was taught in schools was just a backdrop to each doll’s stories.For me, part of feminism is promoting the history of people who are not normally seen in the history books, especially the history of women. I definitely see the American Girl dolls as a part of feminist history, because they had sadly moved away from promoting women's history to profiting off "modern" dolls (For the purposes of this post, I will be discussing American Girl dolls before the introduction American Girl Today).
When I was growing up, I had the American Girl Samantha (and I was shocked to discover that Samantha is no longer made!). Samantha was an orphan girl growing up in 1904 (she was the Victorian era doll) by her wealthy grandmother in New York. She befriends the "poor servant girl," Nellie and is eventually adopted, along with Nellie and Nellie's sisters, by her aunt and uncle. Samantha's books included themes of women's suffrage, child labor, and classism.
Back when I was playing with American Girl dolls (in the early - mid 90s), the dolls that were made were Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly; Addy was just being introduced; and towards the end of my time playing with them, the American Girl Today line was starting (I remember getting one from this line that looked like me). American Girl was focused on bringing the history of these girls to "life," so to speak.
As Ashley from Small Strokes said in the quote above, the American Girl dolls because the highlighted a feminist timeline for girls that only had the mainstream historical timeline as a backdrop. Incorporating women's history into the mainstream historical timeline (as the American Girl dolls tried to do) is important in fighting the erasure of women. If young girls can't look back in history and see someone that resembled themselves, they might not feel as if they have a place in society or that society does not value them as much. For dolls and books that were targeted towards young girls, American Girl took on some very important issues, such as classism, women's suffrage (both in the case of Samantha) as well as slavery, racism, and war.
The American Girls dolls were an important part of my childhood. But they were definitely not perfect. For one thing, the American Girls dolls were definitely a sign of status. As the American Girl dolls have grown, there has been an increase in diversity. I'm not familiar with the newer dolls, so I'm not sure how issues of racism, classism, etc. are handle in these doll's stories. I do like that they are trying to provide a role model for girls of diverse backgrounds. But the dolls are not readily available to young girls of all backgrounds because of various constraints, including price. The American Girl dolls are expensive, especially once you get all the clothes, accessories, and books that go with your American Girl. I loved Samantha and I wouldn't have given her up. But I think that it is also important to integrate non-mainstream historical timelines into children's lives. While dolls were a great way to do this for me and many other children, it wasn't for others.
Incorporating women's history into childhood development is very important to raising awareness about the erasure and oppression of women. I think that the American Girl dolls do a good job at this for the age range that they are marketed towards. The books tackle issues that children's books do not always handle because of the seriousness of the issues, which I think is great. Exposing children to these issues at a young age encourages the fighting of oppression at later ages. The American Girl dolls of my childhood (pre-American Girl Today) brought women's history to the forefront for children and encouraged children to think about important issues.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The 5 Ways Glamour Undermines Its Size-12 Self-Acceptance Message [Glossed Over]
All of the uproar over Glamour's size 12 model didn't quite sit well with me and didn't really know why, but Wendy has explained my uneasiness about it very well.
Bros before Hos: A Post Ted Kennedy Story [Recursive Paradox]
After Sen. Ted Kennedy's death, everybody was quick to praise his contributions to women's rights. But Recursive Paradox pointed out a not very well-known story about Ted Kennedy that should also be remembered!
Will Kate Gosselin EVER get a date? [Salon Broadsheet]
How the media has been portraying Kate Gosselin as lonely.
The Feminist Lens: The Yellow Wallpaper [Small Strokes]
A look at how to teach a feminist text in a high school setting. And make sure you check out her Teaching Feminism in Schools series.
Campaigning for What, Exactly? [this ain't livin']
A critical look at Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty.
Are Animals and Humans the Same? [Womanist Musings]
PeTA's advertising techniques and how black people are often portrayed as animals.
A tweet from @TheUndomestic brought this iPhone application to my attention. At first, I thought it was a joke, but no, it's real and can be purchased.
What is this iPhone app that I speak of? It's the Girlfriend Keeper App! Because men forget birthdays and woman can be programed (in the words of TheUndomestic).
I started reading the description of the app and I seriously did think it was a joke, until I found it in the iTunes App Store. With this app, you can set it up to send automated text messages or emails to your significant other at certain time intervals based on the seriousness of your relationship. You can even enter information such as anniversary dates, birthdays, and eye color. The text messages that this app randomly generates to send to your significant other are not the kind of things that I would want to be recieving. Here are some examples:
"I just drove by a brown barn and it reminded me of your eyes."I don't know if having your eyes compared to a barn is something that is romantic. And I find it kind of creepy that it sends text messages that are "it is ___ days until your birthay." That sounds kind of stalker-like (unless your birthday is only a couple days away).
"It is 268 days until your birthday..."
But don't worry, you'll never be caught off guard when your significant other brings up an automated text message...there is a history function so that you can review all of the messages that you have sent.
Let's get to some of the reviews of this app:
"My first three wives divorced me because I always forgot anniversaries. I am pretty sure my fourth marriage will work thanks to the Girlfriend app?" Mark, 22Wow, sounds like some great guys that are using this app.
"Great app but change that icon. For us married types the wife is going to flip when she see's that. Make it look like an excel spreadsheet and label it GFK."
This app is not only offensive to women -- thinking of women as "programmable" and appreciating of stalker-like text messages -- but is also offensive to men. Men are obviously not capable of a "real" relationship where he actually cares for his significant other and wants to be involved in that person's life. Men are obviously not capable of remembering a birthday or the color of someone's eyes. They need an application to help them.
As I have been thinking about which artists and songs to highlight on Sing-A-Long Saturday, I have become more aware of the majority of the music that I listen to is performed by white males. Why is this? I believe in supporting female artists and artists of color, especially female artists and artists of color that are outside of the mainstream. But when it comes down to it, I choose white male singers/bands.
When looking at my "favorite music" section on my Facebook page, I have come to realize that 73% of those listed are all male bands or male singers, only 1 is a person of color, and only 18% were female singers...I did not have any all female bands listed.
Maybe I'm just attracted to the male voice -- I do like when guys have a good singing voice -- and that's why a majority of my favorite music is performed by white men. Or maybe it's that there are more white male singers/bands out there in most genres. Or maybe it's that society has told us that white male performers are more worthy of our time.
Some of the female singers/bands that I do like (for bands, I am including bands that are at least half female) are:
- Regina Spektor
- She & Him
- Ingrid Michaelson
- Dar Williams
- KT Tunstall
Does anyone have any recommendations of female singers/bands? I am interested in expanding my horizons and supporting female artists.
Why is most of the music I listen to written/performed by straight white males? [Pieces of String]
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
As some of you may know, I like trashy television -- especially trashy teen television. I have talked about the show 10 Things I Hate About You before in relation to how feminists are silenced in high school. So, I was watching 10 Things I Hate About You last night and wasn't very pleased with what I saw.
I love the character of Kat. She's a feminist who isn't afraid to speak her mind. But, as gnatalby at Booze.Tv.Food. points out, Kat has been getting the "ugly makeover." The actress who plays Kat is obviously a very beautiful young woman. But she's been made to look not ugly but as if she doesn't care about her looks.
First of all, I don't really there is such a thing as not caring about what you look like. Even if you try to put off that image, you care that you are putting off that image. But there's nothing wrong with not partaking in patriarchal and societal standards of beauty. But in last night's episode, Kat gets a makeover from her sister before the dance. While there's nothing wrong with wanting to look nice for the dance, I found some things about this plot line kind of troubling.
For the most part, this is the main thing that I had a problem with: when Bianca, her sister, is applying makeup on Kat, she starts complaining about why women would do this, that it is just a patriarchal standard of beauty. But she obviously wears makeup all the time on the show.
It's not so much that she wears makeup all the time and then complains about it, it's the reinforcement that feminists are ugly or hate making themselves look good that bothers me. By having Kat go from not conforming to societal standards of beauty to having this makeover to make her "pretty" just reinforces the idea that feminists are not attractive. Yes, Kat before the makeover was beautiful. But Bianca didn't see it that way. Bianca sees her sister as someone who doesn't care how she looks so she took it upon herself to pretty-up her sister...for the benefit of her date.
Probably not the biggest deal. But I've been very interested in how 10 Things I Hate About You is portraying their feminist heroine. By portraying her as someone in need of a makeover shows that her feminist values (and therefore the teens who watch this show will see feminist values as this) lie in not in presentation of self. While I don't think that you have to be preoccupied with your self-presentation, I think that everyone partakes in it. And by portraying feminists as "not pretty," it is just perpetuating stereotypes of feminists.
A while ago, I wrote a post about the different sides of debate about if men can be feminists and came to the conclusion that yes, men can be feminists. Actually, what I decided was: "men can be feminists, but they are a fundamentally different kind of feminist than women."
Since then, I have been thinking more about this, in light of some of the comments on the post and reading other posts from feminists. I have, in fact, changed my mind. Men can NOT be feminists.
This is not to say that men cannot have feminist values. I encourage all men to think about feminism and equality. I think when it comes to men and feminism, men can be pro-feminist or feminist-minded, but not truly feminists.
Men cannot truly understand what it means to be a woman. Just as a point of clarification: I want to make sure that it is understood that in this argument, I am including trans men and trans women. Trans women can be feminists because they are women and share some of the same experiences that cis-women do and face different kinds of oppression. Trans women, of course, will have differing experiences from cis-women, but there are differing experiences between all women. Also, trans men cannot be feminists for many of the same reasons.
When it comes to oppression, people can fight against it (and I strongly encourage them to), but they will never fully understand it unless they are subject to it. People with male privilege, no matter how much they are aware of their privilege, won't be able to get rid of that privilege to fully understand the oppression that they are a part of (part of privilege is being complicit in oppression, even if you are aware of your privilege).
This post is not intended to discourage anyone in their feminist beliefs. I am all about men having feminist values. My only problem comes when men call themselves feminists, instead of pro-feminist, feminist-minded, etc. Recognizing one's own male privilege is also about recognizing the oppression that you are complicit in, even if not purposefully. Therefore, it is hard to call yourself a feminist...only pro-feminist.
Men are not feminists. [Pieces of String]
Today, August 26, is Women's Equality Day. On this day in 1920, women gained the right to vote with the signing of the 19th Amendment. Everyone should do at least one thing to honor Women's Equality Day and women gaining the right to vote. Me? I'm not entirely sure yet, it's still early for me. Something simple to do for the busy person is just to reflect on what it means that women gained the right to vote on this day, 72 years after the women's rights convention in Seneca Falls. You could also read some women's history.
On this day, it is also important to remember Senator Ted Kennedy. Sen. Kennedy died at age 77 shortly before midnight last night. The 'liberal lion' was a champion for health care, working wages, and equal rights. Organizations like NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU hailed Sen. Kennedy for his work in Congress. Sen. Kennedy was definitely a feminist ally and woman's ally.
We should treat everyday as Women's Equality Day. We should be working towards equality everyday. I cannot see Women's Equality Day as remembering when women gained equality, because that has not happened yet. While it is important to remember our past and honor the signing of the 19th Amendment and the Seneca Falls convention, it's also important to remember that we have not reached equality and fight for equality in our everyday lives.
Celebrate Women's Equality Day on Aug. 26 [Spare Candy]
I first read Manmade Breast Cancer for Intro to Women's Studies, but it was so good that I have read it again since then. This book is all about how the environment, politics, race, and culture intersect on women's bodies in the form of breast health.
From the back cover:
A new understanding of humanity and feminism from the starting point of breast health is the ultimate goal of Zillah Eisenstein's political memoir of her family's experience with breast cancer. The well-known feminist author brings together a critique of environmental damage and the health of women's bodies, gains perspective on the role race plays as a factor in breast cancers and in political agenda, links prevention and treatment, and connects individual support and political change.
I was not expecting to be reading a book about breast cancer in my intro to women's studies, I was thinking that would be more of something that would be covered in a women's health class. But after reading the book and seeing the intertwining of personal/family stories with the intersectionality of breast cancer, I realized why our professor had us read this book. This book shows the many ways in which sexism (and other forms of oppression) work their way into the very personal -- the body -- and how different forms of oppressions are intertwined.
This is not just a read for people interested in breast cancer, but for people interested in seeing how women's lives are affected by all of these intersections. It's a great book that is well written by incorporating different kinds of writing -- from personal stories to political investigations.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I had a hard time coming to inspiration today. But the good news: I started my job today! Actually I'm probably there right now, since this post was scheduled. The bad news: since I'm starting a job, I might not have as much time to post, so while I get adjusted to my new schedule, there might be a dip in the number of posts. But no worries, I promise to try to keep up! Just as a side note, there are some great discussions going on at my post about thin privilege and my post about the racism behind District 9, so take a look and join the conversation!
Here are some of my favorite posts of the past couple days! Don't forget to leave what you've been writing and reading in the comments...I'm all about self-promotion!
Is showing a plus-size model really 'progressive'? [Appetite for Equal Rights]
The blogosphere was going ga-ga over "the girl on page 194" of the latest Glamour, but Amy wonders if this was really that progressive.
Douchebag DESchatz uses Guinness to construct women as shared surface for beer [Deeply Problematic]
A "joke commercial" for Guinness displays themes of dehumanization and rape.
Getting out of the way so women can save the world [Feministing]
A look at the recent NYT Magazine about "Saving the World's Women."
Why Feminism Should Be Taught in School [Small Strokes]
A look at the reasons feminism should be an integral part of the curriculum from the perspective of a teacher. Also see the first part of How Feminism Should Be Taught in School: How Feminism Should NOT Be Taught in School.
For Blue Eyes: Pecola Breedlove Lives [Womanist Musings]
Renee has a great post about internalized hatred.
The other day I found this post on Sociological Images about the use of breasts in political ads in Germany. The CDU party of Germany has been running this ad:
This ad features two women from the CDU party: Vera Lengsefeld (right) and Angela Merkel (left). Both women are wearing rather low cut tops/dresses. The text on the left, over the picture of Merkel, reads "We have more to offer."
By choosing pictures of these two women in low cut tops and using the phrase "We have more to offer" (and I'm sure it was purposeful), the ad is drawing attention to these women's breasts as their one feature to offer that is distinctive. They have more to offer because they have breasts.
It's really interesting to me that the CDU would use these women's breasts to an asset where as Hillary Clinton was criticized to no end for showing the slightest amoung of cleavage. Oh my god! Hillary Clinton has breasts! She is obviously not equipped to handle being president. It's not just that breasts unqualify a person for being president, but focusing on her cleavage in news reports is a way of silencing her intelligence and qualifications for the presidency.
How do the breasts of women in politics function differently in different societies. In Germany, they are obviously viewed as an asset and a good way of differentiating these candidates because they have "more to offer." But in the U.S., breasts are seen as a death sentence for anyone hoping for a career in politics. The U.S. does not want their leaders sexualized in any way. They are apparently just supposed to be asexual beings. Or they are supposed to be men, because it seems to be the problem is with breasts. But breasts will help the women of the CDU in Germany rise above the rest of the competition.
Monday, August 24, 2009
I'm having a hard time accepting my own thin privilege. RMJ at Deeply Problematic wrote a post a little bit ago about coming to accept her thin privilege. That was really the first time that I thought of myself as having thin privilege and it made me kind of uncomfortable. And I want to explore that uncomfortableness here.
So what is thin privilege exactly? Anji at Shut Up, Sit Down offers these examples:
For a start, the ‘thin’ in ‘thin privilege’ does not mean “size zero”. It means “of ‘normal’ weight”. Some examples: If you can walk into Top Shop, Miss Selfridge or any other high street fashion shop and know their size range includes your clothing size, you have thin privilege. If you can book a flight without fear that other passengers will hope like hell they’re not seated next to you or worse, that you will be refused entry to the flight because of your size, you have thin privilege. If you can happily travel by car or bus or train and know that the seat will be built to accommodate your arse, you have thin privilege. If you can visit your doctor without being constantly berated about losing weight and having every physical malady you suffer attributed to your size and nothing else, you have thin privilege.So yes, I have thin privilege.
As a child, I was very slender. But then puberty hit and as I started growing, I started putting on weight around my middle. Now, I go between a size 12 and 14 in bottoms and between large and x-large in tops, depending on the store and style. I rarely ever have to be concerned about the fatphobic things that Anji lists above (depending on the store, I'm not always guaranteed clothes in my size range). But even without being subject to blatant fatphobia, I feel as if society judges me for being fat. I have started to come to terms a little bit with my body. I have started wearing shorts shorter than knee-length again (see picture to left of me playing Red Rover with my friends). I try to dress for my body type instead of what's "in style."
I am, as some would say, a woman of "average"* weight and size...though you wouldn't know it by looking at the media and clothing stores. Because of this, I have thin privilege. So, why I am so uncomfortable at accepting this kind of privilege. Part of my interest in feminism is examining different kinds of privilege and my investments in them. So why is it so hard for me to accept this privilege?
Society tells us through the media, clothing stores, new reports, etc. that the "average" is, in fact, a size 4 - maybe even a size 2. Since puberty, I have not seen myself reflected in the media and as a result, have not thought of myself as having thin privilege. There are profits to me made to make women of all sizes feel bad about themselves, so that is what the media is going to do.
I try to be aware of fatphobic language and events, but maybe my denial of accepting my thin privilege contributes to a fatphobic society. Just because I am self-conscious about my body does not mean that I don't benefit from thin privilege. I have to start doing a better job at recognizing my investments in thin priviege.
Coming to terms with one's own thin privilege does not mean that you will not have any body image issues. Today's society thrives off of creating body image issues for women (and men). Owning one's thin privilege is more about realizing the ways that you are invested in the fatphobic tendencies of society.
*I dislike using the term "average" or "normal" to describe people's bodies. It implies that there is something abnormal or not average, when everybody's body is different. By using this term, I am simply using it statistically...my body is statistically average. But there really is no such thing as a "normal" body. Using the term "normal" just contributes to othering and oppression.
I had heard the bad things about District 9. I had heard that it was racist, but didn't go too much into these blog posts because I didn't want to see the spoilers because I was still interested in it. Then I read the Time magazine review of the movie that hailed it for it's innovation and social commentary on apartheid. I was confused as to why these progressive bloggers would call the movie racist and Time magazine could have such a great review because of the social commentary that the purposeful racism provides. So I had to figure this out for myself (of course, if I had read the spoilers in those blog posts, I would understand why they called it racist, but I didn't want to ruin the movie).
The movie was shot and edited in a really interesting way. It was a combination of a documentary with interviews about the incidents and actually seeing these incidents. It had great special effects - the aliens, explosions, gun fights, and all. The story line is actually fairly interesting.
District 9 is a story about aliens that have become stranded on Earth in Johannesburg, South Africa. They have been sectioned off to District 9 - a slum full of crime, violence, and prostitution - and the aliens are referred to as prawns. They are referred to as prawns because of both their appearance and the view that they are "bottom-feeders."
Now District 9 is a very clear (and pretty intentional) analogy for apartheid in South Africa, especially seeing as how it takes place in South Africa. So if the aliens are supposed to be the black South Africans, the black South Africans are not painted in that good of a light. The aliens are mean, violent, dumb, have very little social order, and are just generally pictured as evil. This is not an accurate picture of the life in the slums of South Africa during apartheid.
The writer and director, Neill Blomkamp, is a South Africa native who is now 29, but left South Africa when he was 18. In the Time magazine review of District 9, Blomkamp had this to say about the political commentary of the movie:
He became aware "that all these very serious topics about racism and xenophobia and segregation would start to shine through the science-fiction-esque veneer. I had to be very careful that i didn't get too close to these serious topics with a film that's mostly a summer thrill ride."He should have taken these "serious topics" more seriously. While the end of the movie does become a science-fiction "thrill ride," the beginning of it is very much serious and very much about apartheid. He should have thought more about the portrayal of the aliens.
So while there is definitely supposed to be racism in the movie between humans and the aliens, the movie is more racist that it intends to be by portraying the aliens in such a bad light when they are supposed to be an analogy for black South Africans.
Christopher is the only alien that is really painted in a good light. He just wants to get home and protect his son. He's more intelligent than the other aliens. We are supposed to side with him and feel empathetic towards his decisions. But he is the one exception!
Then we get to the portrayal of the black humans in the movie. All of the main people in the movie are white and part of a private military company. The main black people in the movie were the Nigerians living in District 9. The Nigerians were major antagonists in the movie. They were cruel, thieves, and obsessed with alien technology. They even eat pieces of aliens in the thought that it will give them alien powers. Not a very friendly portrayal.
And then there is the representation of being mixed-raced. The protagonist, Wikus, becomes infected with alien technology and starts to morph into an alien. He is treated as sub-human - medical testing is done on him, he is valued solely for his ability to operate alien technology - and as soon as he escapes, he is targeted, hunted. He's not human and not an alien.
The movie would have been better on many levels if the aliens were portrayed as more sophisticated, less violent, etc. Not only would it be less racist (not completely erasing the racism), but it would also make the story more complex and increase the internal struggles of the human characters.
District 9 was hard for me to place. It was blatantly racist (and not in its representation of apartheid). How can I take a movie seriously if it aims to provide social commentary on apartheid but then is racist itself? But the movie was beautifully made and unique. Since I'm writing this right after I saw it, I am still kind of shocked. It was gruesome and gory on top of the racism. I don't know what to tell you about a recommendation. If you can handle the blatant racism (and the gore), it might be worth it to see because of its uniqueness. But I don't want to support something that is so racist. So I will let you make the decision for yourself after I have given you my opinion about the movie.
I went to go see the new movie Post Grad, starring Alexis Bledel, this past Friday. I wanted to see it because it looked like a movie that was about my life right now. I saw it as being about a young woman who has recently graduated from college and has to struggle with not being able to find a job and living with her parents. [Warning: there will be some spoilers, but the movie is so predictable that I don't know if it will matter]
While that is definitely part of the story, I was hoping for something more. I was hoping that the movie would delve deeper into the struggle that many people (including myself) are facing right now of going from the (limited) independence of college to the dependence of being unemployed and living with your parents while everyone else is out doing something fantastic. It's an internal struggle that many people would be able to identify with in this current economic climate.
The first part of the movie touched on this struggle. But then the movie just turned the predictable route. Ryden (Bledel) lands her dream job in publishing out of the blue. I would have liked to see her try some other jobs (other than working at her dad's luggage store for a total of 2 hours) and struggle in minimum wage work before the "happy ending" of landing that dream job.
After she lands this dream job, she has another dilemma to face: how does she reconcile going for her dream with keeping the people that she loves in her life? Oh, poor Ryden, she has to choose between a great job that can lead to a lot of great things and a cute guy that has been in love with her for four years and she finally realizes that she's in love with him too. And what do you guess she chooses? That's right, the guy. Because dream jobs come and go (even though she had to struggle to find the first one) but you are never complete without that guy by your side.
Maybe it's just the point that I am at in my life right now and the way that I was raised, but I would like, for once, to see a strong woman choose her career goals over the guy that's making her decide. To be fair, the guy in Post Grad didn't exactly make her decide between the two, but still.
Oh romantic comedies that try to pass themselves off as something else but end up being the same old formulaic movie. I was hoping to be able to see a little bit of myself in this movie. I guess I could say it's the story of my life right now with the exception of the dream job and the cute guy. While it attempts to show some of the struggles faced by recent graduates, it just ends up being the happily-ever-after -- with the guy -- story that is oh so common.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Ok, Twilight fans are seriously getting a little out of control. They are just a little too obsessive. And about a story about a stalker and a girl who doesn't realize she's in an abusive relationships.
Some of the reasons why I think Twilight fans are getting a little out of control:
- You can now have your very own stalker - Robert Pattinson style. You can purchase an outline of Edward Cullen to paste onto your bedroom wall so he can watch you sleep, just like he watches Bella. Just what I always wanted - a shadowy figure hanging out in my bedroom while I sleep. Twilight fans see Edward's stalker tendancies as romantic, but they really aren't. There's nothing romantic about a stalker. Portraying stalking as romantic is just encouraging abusive relationships - Edward treats Bella like his possession istead of an autonomous human being. (h/t to o filthy grandeur!)
- Edward Cullen Ken and Bella Barbie. Is there anything more to say? You can now buy Barbie's designed after your favorite Twilight characters. Now you can play with the dolls while you watch the movie and reenact your favorite stalker-y scenes.
- Twilight fans can't take criticism. Jezebel has a post about how Twilight fans, unlike die-hard fans of Harry Potter, LotR, Star Wars, and Star Trek, can't take criticism of their beloved movie. Fans of other movies can take jokes about said movie - and even sometimes are the ones that make the joke. But Twilight fans cannot handle any ill-mouthed words. They are so connected with the characters of Twilight, that they cannot picture anything wrong with them. Never mind the fact that it portrays an abusive relationship (not only emotionally abusive, but sometimes physically as can be seen in the New Moon trailer) and a girl who is always in need of being saved. It's apparenlty the best piece of literature and the best movie ever made.
People's lives are becoming consumed by Twilight. It's gone from a phenomenon to a lifestyle. And that's what scares me. Edward is seen as romantic instead of a possessive stalker, like he really is. But that's nothing really new. What's getting out of hand is the increase of marketing and profiting off of promoting Edward as romantic, especially with the wall decal pictured above. The wall decal of Edward also comes with the words "Be Safe." Maybe it's just me, but I don't exactly feel safe with a shadowy figure hanging out in my bedroom.
Happy Sunday! As you may have noticed, I have started posting some link love on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as Sundays now. Sunday's link love posts will be slightly different now. I will include some of my favorite posts since Thursday, but I will also feature some of my favorite posts from the week overall, including posts that were already loved previously. Just a disclaimer: I have been kind of lazy about my reading this week, so the list is not as long as it normally is. I'm always looking for new posts and blogs to read, so don't forget to leave your links in the comments!
New link love:
The Girl on page 194 - Below the Belt
A look at how we judge women's bodies by examining the "real woman" picture in Sept's issue of Glamour magazine.
Sex is scary (at least to some journalists) - Clarissa's Blog
How our fear of sex is a result of the patriarchal culture.
But men aren't pretty - o filthy grandeur
Challenging gender norms through language.
Today's WTF: Fragoli - The Undomestic Goddess
About how lesbianism is portrayed in advertising
Thomas Jefferson: The Face of a Rapist - Womanist Musings
Thomas Jefferson was an integral part of the development of our country, but should we forget that he was also a rapist? Also posted at Feministe.
Weekly Link Love:
Attn. Straight Women: Gay men are not your accessories - Feministing
"Perhaps the more subversive act today is to decline to preface the term "friend" with a description of that person's sexuality."
Michelle O.: "Intellectual Lightweight"? - Salon Broadsheet
Apparently Michelle Obama is not as smart as she thinks she is...
"Blinded by privilege": ableist language in critical discourse - Deeply Problematic
A reflection on how the language we use contributes to the oppression of others.
There is a new blog on the block: Fiercly Independent
The blog is run by Leftunder Books and focuses on indie publishing, writing, reading, feminism, illustration, and some other stuff. Check it out!
Saturday, August 22, 2009
I was introduced to the Avett Brothers last summer while working at a summer camp. They were a popular among some of my fellow counselors and I quickly fell in love with them as well.
The Avett Brothers combine folk, bluegrass, country, and rock and roll melodies to create a unique sound. The band is comprised of two brothers, Seth and Scott Avett, and Bob Crawford, as well as Joe Kwon who usually joins them on tour.
I was lucky enough to see the Avett Brothers perform live this past June in Grand Rapids. They bring a great presence to the stage, even in an outdoor theater. They are a lot of fun to see live and fun for the whole family -- there were people of all ages there when I saw them in concert (which might not be a good thing if you don't like sitting next to annoying children, like we were).
I tried to compile a list of some of my favorite songs, but they have such a prolific list that it was hard. I tried anyway, so here are some of my faves, but I'm sure I'm missing some:
The Ballad of Love and Hate
The Weight of Lies
Tear Down the House
And one of their new songs: I and Love and You
I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. They really are one of my favorite bands.
Friday, August 21, 2009
We are all too aware that advertisements are often photoshopped. One example of breast enhancement through photoshopping is Kiera Knightly.
Kiera Knightly is a beautiful woman. Knightly is not well-endowed in the breast region and she loves her body. However, she faces a constant battle to not have her body made "curvier" in advertisments and movie promotions. This post offers the quote: “She has insisted that her figure stay in its natural state. She is proud of her body and doesn’t want it altered.”
But it seems that Knightly has been photoshopped yet again in a recent Chanel ad. To the left is that Chanel ad that has appeared for the new perfume Coco Mademosielle. She's pictured bare chested except for suspender straps that cover her nipples.
But if we look at the picture to the right of her being "tended to" during the photoshoot, you can see that her bust is not as ample as it appears in the ad. The Daily Mail brought in an airbrushing expert to look at the ad, and he had this to say: 'Her breast has had some shading added to it to give it the effect of being rounder and more pert and it has also been increased in size slightly.' Chanel has not commented on the issue to confirm or deny airbrushing, but I think that it is pretty obvious that there has definitely been some digital enhancement.
And this is not the first time that Knightly's body, specifically her breasts, have been the subject of airbrushing. In the movie promotion posters for King Arthur, Knightly appeared to have an inflated bust in the American posters (though not in the British posters...).
And we wonder why women have negative relationships with their breasts. To have someone who is happy with their body photoshopped to alter her appearance just reinforces in society that need to change our appearances -- to never be happy with the way you are. Knightly loves her body and speaks up against having her body photoshopped for advertisements, yet her body continues to be airbrushed.
Continuing to use airbrushing in advertisements encourages women to have unhealthy relationships with their bodies and their breasts. By taking a woman who is relatively flat-chested and photoshopping her body to make it appear as if she is bustier is telling women with small breasts that they are not good enough -- that they need to make their breasts bigger if they want to be accepted in society. Most women at some point in their lives have desires to make their breasts larger, smaller, rounder, perkier, etc. This is partly caused by the need to photoshop women in advertisements. Our obsession with bigger breasts is hurting women of all shapes and sizes.
H/T to o filthy grandeur!
Ever since I started blogging I have wanted to write a post dedicated to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It is probably one of my all time favorite shows...and I just started watching it this past winter! This probably isn't that much of a flashback or a history lesson for many of you...but Buffy is in the past, so it's ok for a Feminist Flashback Friday, right? Even if it's not, it's going to be...
Joss Whedon has made some great creations and is a pro-feminist himself, so it would make sense that his feminist beliefs rub off on his TV shows. Buffy is one of his most feminist creations.
For those of you who don't know, the show revolves around the "chosen one," the slayer, who at this point in time is Buffy Summers. Buffy spends every episode fighting "the big bad," whether it is vampires or some other form of demon. She has her crew of "scoobies" that help her out and occasionally get into trouble. My favorite of the Scoobies is Willow who has some special powers of her own: she's a witch. There's just so much that happens over the seven seasons that I'm not even going to attempt to summarize right now, so this is the best I can do right now.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is all about strong women. Buffy herself is supernaturally, physically strong because of her status as the slayer. But she is emotionally strong as well. Sure, she has her breakdowns and times that she no longer wants to be the slayer, but overall she is a strong women, physically, emotionally, and mentally. And it's great to see a female action hero that was so sucessful. Buffy kicked ass on a weekly basis.
Willow was a strong woman as well. She went from a shy bookworm to a powerful, confident witch throughout the show. And she's the one example that I can think of in a mainstream, network show of a successful transition from straight to a lesbian. I don't know if "successful transition" is the right phrase, but there have been so many shows that make a character a lesbian for a couple shows and then she's straight again. But with Willow, she realized her sexual identity when she met Tara and she stuck with it. Yes, she did go crazy at one point, but all that did was to show how powerful and strong she actually was when it came to her magical powers.
And then there's Anya, who was a vengence demon who lost her powers (then regained them later). Even when she didn't have her supernatural powers, she was one of the key Scoobies. While it takes her a while to adjust to not having powers, she becomes one of the strong members of the team.
There are also some recurring minor strong women in the show. There's Faith, the slayer-turned-evil. Glory, who was a demon god bent on getting back to her hell.
Oh Xander. One of the two men in the Scoobies (yes, I do count Giles). He goes through a lot of identity crisis', especially in the later seasons, because he is surrounded by such powerful women and he doesn't really have a lot to offer. Buffy's the slayer, Willow and Tara are powerful witches, and Anya is an ex-demon. Some definite woman-power there.
One other thing that I like about Buffy is that it's not super focused on romantic relationships. Buffy's romantic relationships definitely play a big role in the show, but she's not relationship-centric. When Angel goes evil and when he leaves, Buffy does have a really hard time and falls apart a little bit, but then she learns that it's ok to be a strong woman on her own. Xander and Anya's relationship and Willow and Tara's relationship are key to the show as well. But in all of the relationships, each of the people are independent and strong on their own and have a pretty healthy relationship because of that (the only exception I can think of is Buffy and Spike, but that's a whole other story).
To me, one of the undertones of the show is about being the best person that you can be, no matter what your powers. While the characters themselves are probably not feminist, I think that the show is. Buffy the Vampire Slayer portrays strong women as they are. Sure some of their strength comes from supernatural powers, but the strength that I am most concerned about is their mental and emotional strength.
What Buffy has is something that is severely lacking from television today. It has great writing, great acting, and strong women. Where are shows like this today? It's not like Buffy was made all that long ago. Where did it go? Well, right now I am jonesing for a Buffy fix, so I think I am going to go watch an episode over on Hulu.
So, how many of you watched Buffy when it was on or have since picked it up, like me? Any thoughts about the feminist value of the show?
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Happy Thursday everybody! Only one more day to the weekend, not that it matters to me because the entire week is like the weekend for me, just less exciting. But that's all about to change. I've finally found a job at Barnes & Noble that I will be starting soon!
Here are some of my favorite posts from the past couple days...
Lois Lane at the Movies: A Brief Herstory Part Two! [Bitch Blogs]
Looking at the role Lois Lane plays in the Superman comics and movies.
"Blinded by privilege": ableist language in critical discourse [Deeply Problematic]
A reflection on how the language we use contributes to the oppression of others.
Carnival of Feminists #2 [Female Impersonator]
A collection of feminist blog posts over the past two weeks.
Women in the Boardroom [Gender Across Borders]
Why are so few women making it to the top of employment ladder?
Racism and Power [Womanist Musings]
"The insistence on using terms like post racial, race card, and reverse racist, stem from the desire to not only present racism in a past tense but to infer that only Whiteness should exist with the power to realize its prejudice."
We've seen things like this before. But it's always shocking to see new t-shirts released with sexually explicit phrases on them. And some of these new Hollister ones take the cake:
Who wouldn't want to wear a sexually explicit message over their breasts?
I find all of these t-shirts offensive ("Girls just wanna have sun" is not as bad as the others though, but still...). Sexually explicit messages on t-shirts are just another way to further objectify women, and young women and teenagers at that.
According to Jezebel, Hollister calls these shirts "hot and funny."
I don't really see what's funny about "Legal-ish", "I [Heart] The Woody", and "The twins are quite a handful". Using a phrase like "Legal-ish" encourages the sexualization of teenagers through corporate male fantasies.
Hollister is marketed towards young teenagers. I do not think it is appropriate to market these sexually explicit shirts to teenagers. I think it's fine for teens to express their sexuality, but not through "corporate male fantasies." Because that's what these shirts are. They are not about teens expressing their sexuality in a responsible way. They are about corporations promoting the over sexualization of teenagers for their own purposes.
What the hell is with this movie?! This trailer for All About Steve has always rubbed me the wrong way.
Sandra Bullock plays a woman named Mary who is set up on a blind date with Steve (Bradley Cooper). Steve is soooo not into it, but Mary sooo is. She's so into that she somehow thinks that he loves her too so decides to follow him to where he is working -- filming a hurricane (?). She's obsessed and pretty much becomes a stalker.
What kind of message is this sending about women? The trailer tries to claim that the movie is all about being yourself and not changing for anyone. Ok, I can see that. Mary doesn't change her obsessive/stalker tendancies. This movie just portrays women as desperate and obsessive when it comes to relationships.
Romanitc comedies (and other genres too) have the tendancy to portray women as not whole unless they have found that "one" guy. Women cannot have a successful career, great friends, and by happy with that. She will never be happy (even though she thinks she might be) until she finds a perfect guy...and that guy will probably make her realize that she is too committed to her career (see my review of The Proposal).
All About Steve seems to take this to the extreme. Mary herself feels like she will not be complete unless she can land her perfect guy, Steve...to the point of obsession.
Portraying women as obsessive and stalker-like when it comes to relationships just reinforces the stereotype that women are desperate relationship-seekers, even if it masks itself as promoting self-esteem and self-expression. I just hope that at some point we can get past portraying women as incomplete without a man in mainstream movies.
Have you heard the news? Michelle Obama wore shorts! The world is coming to an end!
Apparently Michelle Obama wore shorts (of a modest length) while on vacation at the Grand Canyon. Why am I talking about this, you ask? Well, I'm talking about it because it seems to have been deemed newsworthy.
Is it really that big of a deal that Michelle Obama was wearing shorts? Especially considering they were on vacation...at the Grand Canyon...in 106 degree heat.
I'd like to say the reporting on this is a result of a slow news day. But even then, it's not really worth talking about. So why does the media think it is their responsibility to comment on Michelle Obama's inconsequential fashion decisions? I can kind of understand a commentary on a decision to wear shorts if it was to a political function or something, but on vacation...really?
The Huffington Post had a poll asking if Michelle Obama has "the right to bare legs" (via Jezebel). Most people in the poll said yes, but does this question even warrant a poll? And even the phrasing of the question: the right to bare legs. I'm pretty sure she has the right to wear whatever she wants.
It is pretty disrespectful to comment on Michelle Obama's fashion decisions (especially such inconsequential ones) instead of the intellectual weight that she adds to the White House and politics. By commenting on her fashion, the media is saying that she doesn't really have anything to add to the equation other than just looking pretty while standing next to her powerful husband. And do we hear anything about what Barack Obama was wearing? He was probably wearing shorts too, but apparently his legs aren't as important as his wife's.
A very similar thing happened during the 2008 presidential campaign. Many media outlets devoted a lot of attention to Hillary Clinton's pant suits and cleavage. Did these media outlets analyze the fashion decisions of Obama, McCain, or any of the other male candidates? Not really. So why is it so important to consider what Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama wears? It's just a way to draw attention away from the actual issues at hand and discredit the intellectual assets of the person at hand.
By focusing on the wardrobe of Michelle Obama (and this is not the first time that her outfits have been the subject of news), the media is saying that she has very little else to offer besides her looks and great fashion choices. Aren't we pass the point where First Ladies (and wives/girlfriends/partners in general) are only there to look pretty? First Ladies have always contributed to the politics of their presidential husbands and they have evolved into a political entity in and of themselves. It's about time that we stop look at how attractive they are, what they wear, etc. and spend more time focusing on the intellectual and politics of that person.
The focus on clothing instead of intellect is just another silencing technique used against women, particularly smart, powerful women. Like I said, focusing on clothing places the value of a person on their looks instead of their intellectual possibilities. The media is scared that women might actually have something worthy to say that they instead focus on inconsequential things about their appearance to take the attention away from what they might say.
First lady's shorts draing long, hard, looks [Today Show]
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
It seems like breasts and breastfeeding have been a popular topic in the blogosphere recently. Or maybe I'm just paying more attention. Who knows. But I have been finding some great posts about breastfeeding form the perspective of mothers who chose whether or not to breastfeed and public reactions to it.
This has started me thinking more about breastfeeding. At my current state of affairs, breastfeeding a child is not in my plans. Maybe one days I'll have kids, but not anytime soon. So, right now, I can do my research on breastfeeding, read about experiences breastfeeding, etc. But right now, I cannot talk to breastfeeding from a personal perspective.
While I cannot personally speak to breastfeeding, I think it is an important choice for a mother to make. And that's exactly what it is: a choice. It is a personal choice about parenting and one's body. As long as it's an educated choice, no one should tell a mother that she should or should not breastfeed or where they can breastfeed.
Breastfeeding in public seems to be a much debated topic. I don't really understand why. A baby needs to be fed, it's a natural process, so what...
The oversexualization of breasts prevents many people from seeing the biological function of the working breast. As I quoted in the Societal Implications post, Cindy Stearns said,
"the sexual aspects of women and the maternal aspects of women are expected to be independent from each other...breasts are a scandal because they shatter the border between motherhood and sexuality."Breastfeeding in public is so "offensive" to some people because it is a reminder of this shattering of the border between motherhood and sexuality.
I think it's important to raise awareness about the discrimination against breastfeeding mothers that happens despite the laws protecting them.
Here are some great posts that I recommend you read about the decision of whether or not to breastfeed and breastfeeding in public:
Let My Boobs Be Free! [Wired for Noise]
Boobs, Babies and Feeding [Soap Box]
Breastfeeding Bigots on Twitter (and the radio) [The Feminist Breeder]
Breasts: Ready to go Public? [The Undomestic Goddess]
I love Stephen Colbert.
Watch the clip of last night's "The Word" here. (Sorry I have trouble getting Comedy Central videos to embed)
While I'm not familiar with Archie comics, I think Stephen Colbert hit the nail right on the head with last night's "The Word"!
His sarcastic commentary points out one of the main tools to keep women less than: turning women on each other. Turning women on one another is one of the ways that women are kept at a second class status. If women stopped fighting amongst themselves, comparing themselves to one another, etc. I think there is a subconscious fear among many men that women actually have more power than them (as Colbert points out) and by creating in-fighting among women is a way to keep women down.
I also liked how he commented on how women characters are often only defined by the man that they can land. In so many romantic comedies, strong business women are portrayed as not being happy enough until they have found that right man (see my review of The Proposal). Women obviously can't be happy by themselves, women need a man to make them happy.
And finally we get to his great commentary on Hillary Clinton. Only reporting on Clinton's response to a question about her husband is insulting. I think Clinton had every right to have that response. People should be asking her about her opinions on the things she is working on, instead of what Bill thinks about it. Only reporting on her response to that completely diminishes the amazing work that Hillary Clinton is doing.
Stephen Colbert has provided some great insight into the media's treatment of women in his great, sarcastic way.