February 27, 2011

Live-Blogging the Oscars

Filed under: Event,Film,Gender,Media — Tags: , — Rachel @ 4:34 pm

This liveblog is in reverse-chronological order.  Refresh the page for the latest updates.

8:36 Well it was an underwhelming and mildly offensive show.  Recap with more in-depth thoughts to be posted tomorrow.  Thanks for reading!

8:14 Is there a reason why most of the best actress clips are of the women in pain?  Just wondering.

8:02 Academy brought out a woman to introduce a woman, to introduce a woman, but, whoops, forgot to nominate a woman.

7:50 I find the idea of women’s “goddess”-ness being tied to smooth legs, really, really problematic.

7:41 Well, I’m offended by the lack of diversity throughout the show.

7:28 I seriously do not understand this obsession with the early Oscars, all it does is show how far Hollywood hasn’t come, with about as much diversity in 2011 as there was in the 1950s.

7:24 Sorry for the slow updates, haven’t seen anything offensive or great in a while.

6:48 Well that’s twice that a woman was part of a winning team and didn’t get in a word.  Not sure if it was decided beforehand who would speak, but just an observation.

6:28 Academy is better at recognizing women filmmakers when looking at foreign movies, apparently.

6:26 Disappointed to see cross-dressing being played for laughs.

6:12 Why is this show glamorizing “old” Hollywood so much, conveniently ignoring that it was full of racism, sexism, etc.?

5:57 Aaaand, now he’s hitting on the winner too.

5:55 Hailee Steinfeld is in the wrong category – should be “Best Actress”, she is the star of True Grit.

5:53  The whole Kirk Douglas-Anne Hathaway thing had a cringeworthy “creepy old man” vibe to it.

5:45 Sad to see the woman (set director) not able to get in a word during the first win.

(more…)

February 10, 2011

Rants Of A Gamer Girl: Is Carol Lieberman The Worst “Expert” In The World?

Filed under: Gaming,Gender,Media — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Rachel @ 10:00 am

This article has been updated and revised in light of the information released a few hours after it was posted.

Most of what is covered in this column deals with the sexist crap spewed forth by the video game industry.  However, Fox News posted a story, a couple days ago, proving that the sexism surrounding video games doesn’t solely lie with developers, retailers, and gamers.

Fox News posed the question: “Is Bulletstorm The Worst Video Game In The World?”  They didn’t outright answer whether it is or not, but I get the feeling they hoped readers came away thinking “Yes!”  Now, if you think it’s the worst video game in existence, I’m already going to be questioning your knowledge of the form of media.

For a little background, Bulletstorm is rated M (Mature), which means it’s only considered suitable for players age 17 and over.  It’s not law – but, neither is the MPAA.  These are guidelines, and much like the “R” rating on any one of the thousands of incredibly violent movies that exist, it is the responsibility of the parent, not developers or artists or filmmakers, to make sure that the product doesn’t fall into the hands of children.

The author interviewed psychologist, author, and “expert” (quotes because it’s still not clear what exactly she’s an expert in), Carole Lieberman.  She stated there was a direct link between sexual content in video games and sexual violence – something that is “highlighted so well in Bulletstorm”  Unfortunately, there are no links, explanations, or statistics supplied in the article to support her assertions.

The gaming community, essentially accused of being on the brink of turning into sex offenders, based solely on their fondness for playing video games, began to fight back.   Lieberman’s books have been flooded with negative reviews on Amazon.  K-Mart has posted a blog on their gaming site refuting the accusations made by Lieberman and the other “experts” interviewed.

Kotaku, the Gawker Media gaming website, that originally brought much of the communities attention to the Fox News article, called Ms. Lieberman this afternoon, in an attempt for clarification of the statements she made in the original story.  She agreed to an interview, and told Kotaku that “The more video games a person plays that have violent sexual content, the more likely one is to become desensitized to violent sexual acts and commit them.”

When asked for a source that supported this, Ms. Lieberman referenced “thousands” of studies that prove her assertion.  However, she was unable to provide the name, author, or title of even one study.  Accusing gamers of being on the verge of becoming rapists and sexual offenders is disgusting, and damaging – to gamers, women, and feminists.  To drag the victims of sexual assault into a debate with not one fact to back it up, isn’t just stupid (as it doesn’t take into account that women now make up almost half of the gaming community), it’s irresponsible as well.  Lieberman admitted to Kotaku that she hasn’t played any video games in her lifetime; making video games the villain of society is nothing new, but Carol Lieberman has taken fear-mongering to a new low.

January 18, 2011

Mattie Ross: True Brat?

Filed under: Film,Gender,Media — Tags: , , , , — Rachel @ 7:53 pm

The following post contains spoilers for the film “True Grit”


This morning Rachel Simmons tweeted a link to a story on her blog – a high school girl’s take on the adolescent female characters in the recent films, Somewhere and True Grit.   I was pleasently surprised when seeing True Grit, that the star of the film is a smart, brave, headstrong, gutsy, no-nonse 14-year old heroine named Mattie.  Unfrotunately the high school blogger who penned ““True Grit” and “Somewhere” Star Girls but Fail Girlhood” didn’t see her in the same positive light.

In fact, Fiona Lowenstein describes Mattie as: one-dimensional, “caricature”, “annoying, impossible to relate to, and not at all believable”, “dislikable”, “a joke”, ” self-satisfied” “irritating”, “rude”, “arrogant”, “braided blowhard”, “grating”, “smug”, and “pushy”.

Even if Mattie does come across this way – let’s look at a few reasons why she might be such a “grating, pushy, blowhard.”  First, when the movie opens, her father has just been murdered by a handyman he had hired to help him.  Then she’s not taken seriously by the horse salesman who tries to screw her out of money that is rightfully hers because he sees her as some silly illiterate 14-year old girl.  She tries to hire Rooster Cogburn, but he also sees her as an idiotic adolescent.  The Texas Ranger La Boeuf informs her the only reason he’s not sexually assaulting her is because she’s so ugly.  Shortly thereafter Cogburn lies and leaves without her.  The La Bouef lies and says he’s taking Tom Chaney when they find him so he can get payout on a contract. Now what could possibly compel Mattie’s character to have a defensive, head-strong attitude?  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she’s mistreated every step of the way.  Oh, and it’s not the guys who end up taking down Chaney and saving the day.  When Mattie confronts him, she shoots Chaney twice, on two separate occasions.

Additionally, Fiona places the entire blame for her view of the above characteristics of Mattie on the Coen Brothers.  Apparently before going on a completely uninformed rant, she couldn’t be bothered to google to find out any history whatsoever about the film.  Like, that it was originally a book published in 1968 by Charles Portis, or that it was made as a film in 1969, starring John Wayne.  To say that the Coen Brothers may have written Mattie (which they didn’t – Charles Portis did) as “a joke” is to have zero familiarity of the history of their work.  In fact, the Coen Brothers stuck more closely to the source material than the original film adaptation.  (In the John Wayne version, the men do ultimately kill Chaney and save the day.)

The unfortunate thing about Fiona’s post is that it has the potential to turn young women away from the movie, and the Coen Brothers other films, when her piece was neither constructive or researched in any way.  Furthermore, is this the type of post that belongs on the website of an author who uncovered girl-on-girl crime in adolescence?  Is calling a female character a blow-hard helping anyone?  I certainly don’t think so.  An uninformed voice is a potentially harmful one.

January 6, 2011

Rants of a Gamer Girl: Playstation Is My Least Favorite Console

Filed under: Gaming,Gender,Media — Tags: , , , — Rachel @ 10:12 pm

Yesterday Sony announced their newest innovation on the Playstation 3 network: women in bikinis – in 3D!  Starting on February 15th, gamers can download the Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition to their PS3.  As if the objectification of women in games themselves wasn’t bad enough already, now sexism is available as a 12 HOUR VIDEO DOWNLOAD.

Don’t female gamers already have to put up with enough crap between pink-cutesy-targeted-advertising, hiding our genders in gamer tags, harassment, the inability to chat in an online match, insulting training videos, and horrible portrayals as playable characters?  Well at least now I know some higher-up at Sony is a sexist asshole, pretty much guaranteeing I won’t be spending money on their products anytime soon.  If Playstation is flaunting their latest innovation as being the three dimensional objectification of women in skimpy clothing, I can’t say I’m a fan of the PS3 right now.

This Image Speaks For Itself

Filed under: Gender — Tags: , — Rachel @ 10:47 am

Image via Reddit.

For more about the evolution of toys, please see my previous post: Toys Receiving Makeovers: New, Improved, Sexy?

December 6, 2010

How Jessica Coen Pulled A Maura Kelly

In 2007, when Jezebel first launched, and I started reading it, I never imagined it would be deleted from my “Bookmarks” folder.  They’ve had their share of controversies over the years, but I honestly can’t remember any of them being as bad as the one that took place in the last two weeks.

November 24th, an article titled “American Guy In Paris Freed From The Idea of Consent” was cross-posted on the front page of Jezebel.  Typically when Jezebel does cross-posts or re-posts, they include a lead-in or follow-up at the bottom of the post with information on the original website, author, and possibly why it was chosen to be included.

For example, when my “10 Commandments Of Pop Culture Feminism” piece was re-posted on Jezebel in May, the following information was included:

“By Rachel O’Connor

This post originally appeared on the site Feminist Fatale. Republished with permission.

The author of this post can be contacted at tips@jezebel.com

Simple referencing – who wrote the piece and where it came from.  “American Guy In Paris…” had none of the above mentioned links or explanations.  Instead, Edward Pasteck’s essay on how French women feel empowered by being street harrassed and assaulted and how consent is overrated only included a link to an email address.

If you’ve read the post, you likely already know that it was in very bad need of a lead-in or wrap-up with some sort of explanation for why Jezebel felt this was worthy to give space to.  The title, all on it’s own, is completely disgusting.  Honestly, when I finished reading it, I wondered for a few minutes if the website had been hacked – ‘surely the editors will delete this and post some sort of explanation for what the hell is going on’ I thought.  Needless to say, I was wrong.

Commenters were obviously, and justifiably furious.  (As of my writing, the post has over 75,000 views and over 2,000 comments.)  Why the hell was an essay that disputed consent being posted?  Had the editors taken into account how triggering and upsetting this would be for assault or rape survivors to read?  Apparently they hadn’t.

Now, this is where the Marie Claire/Maura Kelly comparison comes in.  The new editor-in-chief of Jezebel, Jessica Coen, offered a non-apology-apology in the comments of the original post over the Thanksgiving weekend.  She told readers that it wasn’t posted for traffic-baiting purposes, because that has no bearing on their success or paycheck (untrue – see here.)  She told those concerned about the triggering aspects of the post, that Jezebel never claimed to be a “safe space”, and that Edward Pastek may have bullshit views, but he’s articulate, thoughtful, and earnest! Attention Jessica Coen: “His misogynistic beliefs are really well articulated” isn’t a valid reason to give that type of shit space on one of the most popular feminist-leaning sites on the web.

The following Monday, Ms. Coen posted her “official” response, explaining that “Edward Pasteck” is a pseudonym, and he’ll remain anonymous.  Like Maura Kelly, Jessica only apologized for people being upset, and explained that she was just trying to start a discussion.  Apologies if this is starting to sound a lot like the Maura Kelly piece I wrote, but there are some “debates” that aren’t really debates at all – like, “Should fat people be treated like human beings?”, or now, “Why is consent a big deal?”.  Newsflash: people who think they don’t need another persons consent to touch/grope/have sex with them are criminals.

As if all of that wasn’t offensive enough, the same day Jessica Coen posted her official apology, she also posted a “Counterpoint” to the original piece.  An anonymous French woman was given space to dispute Edward Pasteck’s piece, although there was no deconstruction of any of the horribly offensive drivel he had written.  Instead the counterpoint can be summed up thusly – French women don’t really like to be street harassed.  Way to go Jezebel – you missed the point of the outrage entirely.  Soon the French woman’s post filled up with comments saying so.  Obviously the issue wasn’t “Hey! Women don’t like to be street harassed!”  Rather, thousands of readers were outraged by the “consent is for puritans and prudes” aspect of the original essay.

Apparently Jezebel isn’t concerned with keeping their reputation.  One as a blog that is feminist, forward-thinking, and progressive.  A website that doesn’t tolerate comments wherein people try to make excuses for street harassment, sexual assault, and rape.  I’ve felt the website has been in decline ever since the new editor-in-chief came on board – posts about feminist issues are more few and far between, the pages now being filled with more snap judgments and silly celebrity articles.  And as long as Jessica Coen is in charge, and the above mentioned policies are cast by the wayside, I won’t be reading.

November 24, 2010

Toy Ads and Learning Gender

Originally posted at Feminist Frequency. Cross-posted with permission. Created for Bitch Magazine’s Mad World Virtual Symposium.


I recently watched afternoon cartoons on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network and I was shocked to find a flood of highly gendered toy commercials. These ads not only market toys to children but it also promotes and encourages gender specific values that are very limiting to boys and girls in different ways.  The values and skills promoted in these commercials can play a critical role in the socalization of youth and their development of emotional expression, conflict resolution, the confidence to pursue various careers and the ability to maintain healthy relationships as adults.

Related Links and Articles:

** This video is available to be translated into other languages by volunteers like you.  Please visit the subtitling page on Universal Subtitles and click TRANSLATE to get started.

NOTE from Melanie Klein on additional articles related to gender socialization in childhood:


October 22, 2010

Make Love, Not War, With Your Body

Filed under: Body Image,Gender — Tags: , , , — Melanie @ 9:46 pm

Written by Cakie Belle. Originally posted at Cakie Belle. Cross-posted with permission.

Most people hate conflict. We actively avoid the people we don’t like, whether it be in our workplaces, our homes or our social lives. We make compromises to avoid arguments. We make sacrifices to get along. We dream of peace on Earth. And yet so many of us spend every minute of our lives willingly engaging in a cruel and ruthless battle where ultimately,  there can be no winner. Of course, I’m talking about the war with our bodies.

No matter how well other things (like our jobs and relationships) are going, if we are in constant conflict with ourselves we simply cannot fully lead the magical, wonderful lives we deserve, or experience true, lasting, blissful happiness. Without self love there can be no peace, because when we hate our bodies, we are literally living, breathing, eating and sleeping with the enemy.

I have been embroiled in my own body battle since I was just a little girl and when I look back I can see that my hatred for my physical self has cast a dark shadow over many memories that should have been wonderful, like days at the beach where I couldn’t enjoy myself because I was so self-conscious of my tummy, nights out with my girlfriends when I felt unattractive and jealous, and romantic dinners with my boyfriend ruined by the fact I was racked with guilt for eating a fattening dessert and garlic bread. It’s a miserable way to live.

The truly bizarre thing about the war with one’s body is that it is so completely one-sided. We treat them like the enemy and yet, our bodies do nothing to spite us. They do nothing to hurt us. They do nothing cruel or unkind or unforgivable. Our poor abused bodies simply do their job, keeping us alive and making the best of whatever our genetics and lifestyles have given them. Our bodies work tirelessly to keep us functioning and offer little complaint when we treat them badly. We abuse them, shame them and belittle them, but until the day we die, our bodies simply carry on.

Give your poor body a break! It is time you acknowledged how amazing your beautiful body is and recognised its unique magic. It is time you appreciated it for all its miracles and its time you started treating it with the love and respect it deserves. It is time that you made peace with the one person you will spend every single day of your life with. That’s you.

Draw up a peace treaty. Buy your body a thank you present (like gorgeous lingerie, new perfume or a big cupcake). Treat your body to a bubble bath, a massage or a hike up a mountain. Look in the mirror and tell your body you are sorry. Tell your body it is beautiful. Make a promise to treat it better. Write your body a love letter. Banish the toxic self-talk. Wave a white flag and surrender to the fact that your body needs you and you need it. Pour your whole heart into improving your relationship with yourself. Stoke the flames of fierce self love.

Don’t waste another single moment fighting a battle you cannot win. Let the war be over.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user, neoliminal. CC 2.0.

LA EVENT: $hit My TV Says: Revealing Gender in Reality TV & Pop Culture

Why does pop culture culture reduce women and men to such limiting stereotypes? Why are reality TV’s stock characters (The Desperate Bachelorette, The Angry Black Woman, The Douchebag Dude) so regressive? Find out in the town that creates them at the L.A. book launch for Reality Bites Back! Expect critical media commentary, revealing insights about gender in pop culture — and lots of laughs.

The authors will read from and sign their books. And after: schmoozing. What could be better? Oh, it is free.

So far, 62 people have RSVP’d to the Nov. 17th LA Launch: $h*t My TV Says: Revealing Gender in Reality TV & Pop Culture. Are you coming, LA friends?

If so, RSVP at the Facebook page.

When: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 7:30PM- 9:30PM

Where: Stories Books and Cafe @ 1716 Sunset Blvd (in Echo Park)Los Angeles, CA

This is Jennifer L. Pozner’s  sole reading in L.A. on her book tour for Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV. It’s also going to be a ton of fun because she is sharing the mic with Shira Tarrant, who will be reading from her work on masculinity in pop culture, and with moderator Morgane Veronique Richardson, who will tie everything together!

Join us. And if you’re not in LA, here’s a calendar of all Jennifer Pozner’s tour November stops in NY, Philly, Denver, San Francisco, L.A., Boston and Washington, DC.

For Jennifer Pozner’s recent interview with Maclean’s, Canada’s biggest newsweekly, click here.

For a recent write-up on Shira Tarrant and links to her most recent articles and interviews, click here.

September 28, 2010

Mad Women: There’s No One To Talk To

Filed under: Gender,Mad Women,Media,Recaps — Tags: — Rachel @ 2:38 pm


While most recaps focus on the entire aspect of a show, this one’s going to be a little bit different.  As this is a feminist blog deconstructing images and portrayals of women in pop culture, why spend an entire post rambling on about the men of Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price.  Instead, these recaps will focus on the women of Mad Men – the main ladies: Peggy, Joan, and Betty, and any new additions or guest stars – hence the title “Mad Women.”


Betty
Considering the amount of anger Betty has shown toward Don since the divorce, it was good to see her smiling; (I don’t think we’ve seen her smile all season, much less because of something that Don did.  It was really good to see him doing fun things for Sally.)  I was surprised to see Betty confronted with protecting Don’s identity and doing so.  It looked like it bothered him much more than her.  I think she’s becoming slightly wary of Henry, with him working long hours; hopefully a big difference between him and Don will be honesty.

Peggy
No thoughts on Peggy this week, she was completely absent from this episode.

Joan
After the episode earlier this season where Joan visits her doctor, I was surprised to see the topic of abortion come up again this season.  (Its not the first time the topic has been addressed on the show, Betty considered and discussed it with Francine when she became pregnant with Gene at the end of the second season.)  It was curious how Roger wanted Joan to keep the child, but didn’t discuss or consider how she would support herself or the baby, with her husband off at war.  I wondered if she was so calm about the situation because she’s been through it before, and if he caught on to that.  The contrast of how abortion was treated then versus now wasn’t very big.  It is still a very taboo subject, despite the fact that it’s been legal for over thirty years.

Toni, Faye, Sally
I don’t know why, but I never took Lane for being socially progressive in his dating life.  The scene where Lane introduced Toni to his father was a bit awkward to say the least.  While he tried to play it off like it was nothing, I think she understood the racist undertones in his fathers excuses.  I’m curious whether he’ll do what his father says going forward, or stay with Toni, and continue his life in New York.

I wasn’t surprised to see that Faye was not upset by finding out that Don Draper isn’t who he pretends to be.  She was completely supportive and comforting of him while he fell apart and revealed his secrets.  Additionally she doesn’t care who he wants to say he is, it doesn’t matter if he still wants to be Don Draper or would like to start being Dick Whitman.  It was a really big moment for him, considering only Anna (who’s now gone) and Betty know.  I think Faye will be incredibly good for Don – she’s strong, independent, and speaks her mind without hesitation.

Leave your thoughts on Faye’s reaction to Dick Whitman, Joan and Roger’s future, and anything else from this episode in the comments.

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