Archive | July, 2010

I wish I could turn this into a logo.

26 Jul

On Women in Pop Culture. Defining Sexism.

26 Jul

                                                                    I don’t pretend to watch HBO’s True Blood. In fact, I’ve never really seen an episode from start to finish. The whole vampire thing has never done it for me, but this article peaked my interest and touched on a topic I’ve been interested in for some time: Hollywood’s obsession with linking sex with violence.

The article brings up several valid points in that True Blood’s violent “hate sex” is written off as edgy and artistic and not held to the same standard as say, other television programs. Afterall, vampires are always misogynist and violent.

The author writes:

“True Blood buys into the same myths about violence and rape that do real harm to women today: that men have more sexual drive, that rape is an act of passion rather than domination, that women mean yes when they say no, that violence against women is part of the natural order.”

And I agree. These portrayals are most definitely harmful to women.

On the other hand, I am a huge fan of AMC’s Mad Men, which has recently come under considerable criticism for the blatant sexism it portrays. However, unlike True Blood, Mad Men depicts a historical trend of sexism in the work place; what it was like to be female and live in the oppressive 1950s and 60s. The message behind Mad Men seems to be a warning of some kind, a cautionary tale of how society has historically resigned women to a second class citizen status and how our cultural norms do not reflect the kind of egalitarian society women need in order to be fully functioning, independent, and fulfilled beings.

While I would most definitely say True Blood glorifies violence towards women, Mad Men, I would argue, does no glorify women’s oppression.  The creator of Mad Men believes (and I agree) that ignoring the sexism women endured would be the equivalent of acting like it never happened. It would be the same as not talking about slavery because the topic is too uncomfortable. The difference between the two shows is that while both are fictitious, True Blood is not depicting any kind of historical event, it is bringing to life the sick fantasies of a closet rapist. Mad Men is edgy because of the writing, the depth of the characters, the fierceness of its female roles. It’s real, it’s tangible, and it’s brilliant.

PETA: Animal Rights at the Price of Women’s Progress.

20 Jul

PETA really really pisses me off. 

It’s not their cries that Ben & Jerry’s needs to start using human breast milk to make ice cream because milking cows is somehow inhumane, and it’s not even the fact that some members go to the fanatical extreme of throwing blood on fur coats. Really, that’s kinda my sick idea of entertainment. What does piss me off is this: 

Because Carving Up Women Makes For Great Political Symbolism.

 

Contexts.org has a great post about how women, and more specifically, feminists (which are not exclusive to women) have been fighting for nearly half a century to see an end to the association between women and meat. Thanks to PETA and Pamela Anderson, the link blazes on, which is both disheartening and enraging. The article also makes reference to the horribly misogynistic hustler magazine cover of 1978. 

Because Mutilating Women is Entertaining. You Didn't Know this?

 

Pam Anderson makes a good point when she says she has every right to use her body in such a way as to promotes good-intentioned political ends. And I agree. It’s not the overt sexuality expressed in the PETA ad that annoys me. Sexual expression is good. It’s the tired old objectification scenarios that make me roll my eyes and sigh in disappointment. 

For all of PETA’s progressive messages, the misogyny, sexism and degradation they attempt to pass off as legitimate activism makes me cringe. I guess the real message is “Animal Rights at the price of Women’s Rights.” And it would seem, sadly enough, that PETA will continue to run these types of ads as long as people continue to support their organization. 

What they perhaps fail to consider is that most animal rights activists are also women’s rights activists. I never took a marketing class in college but that’s probably not what I would call “good strategy”. 

And with that, I conclude my rant for the day.

The Women of The Daily Show

8 Jul

I opened up my Facebook news feed this morning only to be inundated by words like “sexism!” and “Playboy!” and “inequality!” And to my surprise, it was all referring to none other than The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, one of my favorite shows ever!

But before I jumped on the bandwagon of “let’s defend Jon,” or “good feminists decry all sexism,” I wanted to do my research.

One of the biggest issues it seems, and the one that irritates the hell out of me, is that the feminist blogosphere is going nuts about Olivia Munn, the sex bombshell just hired to be a correspondent. The fact that she’s posed in Playboy and has a rockin body really seems to piss some women off. It seems you can’t be both hot and funny at the same time. I find it sexist that attractive women are written off as not smart, not talented, and certainly not funny. Perhaps Playboy was an empowering experience, maybe Olivia Munn enjoys attention (don’t we all?).

Secondly, the women of the Daily Show wrote this statement in their defense, which I found to be lacking, but none the less sincere. Amanda Hess then goes on to “analyse” the statement (i.e draw conclusions that have relatively no grounding).

While I agree that comedy is overwhelmingly dominated by men (name five female stand-up comedians, you can’t), it is no different from virtually all other domains in this country. Whether right or wrong, women must prove themselves as we have been made to do so for hundreds of years. Jon Stewart could help the women’s movement along by inviting more female guests on his show, there’s no doubt about that, but just because he interviews more men than women doesn’t mean he’s a closet sexist. He has an audience to pander to, and if the audience responds more to men than to women, the problem is with society, not Jon Stewart.

The whole debate seems silly to me. It’s easy to write successful men off as exploitive and sexist, and attractive women as stupid and incompetent. What we must remember, however, is that Jon Stewart is funny and Samantha Bee is funny too. They aren’t funny because they’re male and female, but because they are talented. Gender is so pervasive, so limiting, and it would seem even feminists can get it wrong.

Thoughts on “The New Single Womanhood”

6 Jul

I read an article this morning in Salon (by far one of my most favorite online publishing sites) called “The New Single Womanhood”. At first fascinating, the article makes several points, while following a variety of memoirs, about how the new urban womanhood is increasingly defined by an arguably more “glamorous” lifestyle that is both man-less and childless.

She talks of a hip, single gal who twirls her globe and jets off to the country her finger lands on—Lisbon—and lives a no-strings-attached, highly successful young adulthood unencumbered by screaming babies or cheating husbands, a life uncomplicated by the drudgeries of domestic work and childcare and working, constantly working, on maintaining a “happy marriage”.

I’d be lying if I said that type of lifestyle doesn’t stir up an occasional pang of jealousy.

On the flip-side however, the author writes, and I might say, nails my sentiments exactly, with this little piece:

“In so many ways, for so many of us privileged enough to make the most of our sparkly new opportunities, those years offer an exuberantly selfish scope for our ambitions, the chance to mold careers, social circles, homes and selves from the still-gloopy clay of late adolescence. But that doesn’t mean that the stretches of time in which we work to make ourselves into who we’d like to be aren’t also dispiriting and terrifying and frequently kind of boring.”

And I agree. There’s something inherently lonely about a life lived for just you. And while it would be nice to not have to share my bed with an 8-month old, a 4 year-old and a very ugly dog, it would be really depressing not too. I’ve found that as my personal responsibility has increased, whether through the addition of another child or by the demands of being a financially independent single mother, my life might become less glamorous but is becomes ten-fold more meaningful, more momentous, more satisfying. There’s a certain amount of peace that comes with know that after you die, a little piece of you lives on through your children; the capstone to a legacy even.

And this isn’t to say that not having children leaves some kind of void in a person’s life, because I know several happy single, childless people, both men and women. But for me, the idea of flying to Lisbon and spending two weeks alone sounds miserable, depressing. This new kind of happiness I experience is the kind that’s born from others’ happiness, my baby’s smile, my kid’s laugh. The idea of showing my sons the country of Lisbon is much more gratifying than just seeing it myself.

The real happiness in life, at least to me, is the act of sharing experiences with someone else, whether it is a partner or children, or both. Otherwise, it’s as if those experiences never happened, no one to recount memories with, no one to offer an alternative perspective on something. In a word: just “no one”.

So the concept and glamorization of the “New Single Womanhood” really does nothing for me. Except maybe make me appreciate the many blessings and responsibilities I experience every day and for the little people who color my world and make everything look that much more beautiful.