July 15, 2010

Scottish ad campaign tackles rape mythology: No woman asks to be raped

Thanks to Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) for tweeting the link to this Scottish ad campaign.

Per Rape Crisis Scotland:

With “Not Ever, Rape Crisis Scotland has launched Scotlands first ever TV campaign aimed at tackling women-blaming attitudes to rape. The advert was launched on Monday 28 June, and was broadcast for the first time that night during coverage of Brazil’s World Cup match. It will continue to be shown over the next 9 weeks on STV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

“Not Ever” addresses women-blaming attitudes towards rape such as claims that dressing provocatively, being drunk or flirting with men are contributory factors. Its hard-hitting approach is intended to make people stop in their tracks, and to shake out and challenge ingrained prejudices many people have towards women who have been raped.

To read more, visit their youtube, twitter and facebook pages.

Sexist meat market: Pam Anderson’s newest ad for PETA

Filed under: Sexuality — Tags: , , , , , , — Melanie @ 11:24 am

Ah, PETA is at it again.

Here’s another sexist, degrading ad featuring a nearly nude woman (in this case, Pamela Anderson). This time she is “carved” up like any other hunk of meat. Thanks to Diahann for sending this my way.

Read more here: Pamela Anderson’s new ad: Sexist or Sexy? and The Sexual Politics of No Meat.

Cross-posted at Elephant Journal.


July 1, 2010

Sex, Virtue and Restraining Orders in Twilight's Eclipse

Yesterday, the third installment of the The Twilight Saga was released. Though I’m sure that you already heard unless you live in a cabin with no electricity or under a rock or in the mountains of Forks, Washington….even then I’d find it hard to believe you were completelyunawares. For many reasons that have nothing to do with a feminist critique this film was a lot better than its predecessor. But, from a feminist perspective, it was full of just as many reasons to want to ring Bella’s (Kristin Stewart) neck and issue restraining orders against both Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob (Taylor Lautner).

(more…)

June 23, 2010

Toys Receiving Makeovers: New, Improved, Sexy?

I’m not ashamed to admit, I have a bit of an obsession with the 80’s.  I grew up in the decade, spend plenty of time listening to the music of the time, and have seen VH1’s entire I Love The 80’s series more times than I can count.  I toted my books to school in my Lisa Frank backpack, wrote on the stationary, used the pens and pencils, all decorated with trippy-neon penguins, polar bears, dolphins.  So last week when I read on Jezebel, that Lisa Frank school products have received an update, I was incredibly disappointed to learn that the brand has traded in fushia and purple unicorns for images that better resemble Bratz dolls.

Unfortunately this is just the newest in a string of recent “makeovers” that 80s toys and cartoons have received:

Polly Pocket’s wardrobe now consists of high heels, miniskirts, midriff tops, and knee-hits, and she’s no longer, uh, pocket sized.

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June 20, 2010

Let’s talk about sex (and support indie media)

It’s hard to escape the subject of sex; images of sex saturate advertisements, gyrating teens proclaim abstinence, millions of dollars of federal money has been funneled into abstinence-only “sexual education,” virginity has become another commodity sold to the highest bidder, teens are sexting and wanna-be celebrities are caught in sex-tape “scandals,” sex trafficking is the number one crime worldwide, daughters vow to save their virginity for their husbands by “marrying” their fathers with purity pledges while male virginity is mocked, pornography informs mainstream heterosexual notions of sexuality, girls are increasingly sexualized at younger and younger ages, women are “rejuvenating” and blinging out their vaginas, sex scandals are commonplace whether it be a celebrity, politician or religious leader, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish pornography from pop culture.

Frankly, I’m bored with and annoyed by this cultural obsession with sex. These manufactured, one-dimensional images of heterosexual sexuality constantly shoved down my throat (no pun intended). Running parallel to the cultural obsession with sex (and nude or near-nude ladies that grace countless magazine covers, billboards and populate advertisements), is the obsession with female virginity (so much so that many women opt to have their virginity restored via plastic surgery).

Clearly, with all this sex out there, the important issues regarding sex and sexuality are glossed over and given little media coverage. What remains in the public eye remains a vapid, one-dimensional image of sexuality and a perpetual reinforcement of the good girl/ bad girl (madonna/whore dichotomy). In this strange cultural climate where contradictory messages are being sent simultaneously, Therese Schecter is a breath of fresh air.

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June 19, 2010

Did you forget you're a role model, Katy Perry?

Katy Perry is at the top of the pop star game with her latest single California Gurls currently at #1.   As it turns out, if you have a catchy tune no one really questions or cares about the lyrics which is in this case is good for Katy Perry because she says nothing of any substance.  At all.   This, however, shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise seeing as her claim to fame was “I Kissed a Girl”, a song that did nothing but sell a girl-on-girl heterosexual male fantasy in the form of a CD.  Go figure.  Granted, she does write *most* of her own lyrics and therefore is the only one to thank for the enlightening and empowering messages young girls are consuming all over the country right now:

California girls
We’re unforgettable
Daisy Dukes
Bikinis on top
Sun-kissed skin
So hot
Will melt your popsicle
Oooooh Oh Oooooh

To be quite frank, I don’t personally understand the appeal to her music as I find it to be beyond lame.  It is a classic example of just how devoid of originality and substance our pop culture landscape is and it does a perfect job of keeping women in an overly sexualized one-dimensional category.  It is songs like this that reinforce our ever growing need for more sheroes and a deconstruction of the messages that we are financially supporting and constantly consuming without batting an eyelash.

In a recent Jezebel post by Dodai, the pop message is explained crystal clear:

Tale as old as time: Love me; I’m pretty! Her cupcake boobs and suggestive frosting-licking are campy fun, though disappointing on some level, since the only message seems to be: I am here for your consumption. Eat me.

As if the lyrics weren’t ridiculously dull enough, the cupcake filling shooting out of her cupcake breasts left me at a complete loss, extremely confused and in search for some sort of justification.  Upon further investigation and a quick visit to Wikipedia, I learned that Katy Perry  had quite the religious upbringing, raised by two Pastors.  In fact, she started singing in her church at the age of nine and her first CD was a self-titled gospel album.   So, naturally after her tweet blasting Lady Gaga’s new video  this past week as “blasphemous” I couldn’t help but spot the irony.  I mean, it’s kind of hard to miss in a skintight  rubber dress.

The fact of the matter is that Katy Perry (lame music and all) is extremely popular right now.  Whether she likes it or not she is a popular public figure and by default a role model for young women  and girls. What exactly does it say about our present female ‘role model’ that the best she can come up with are insipid, sexually explicit lyrics that promote her as nothing more than a Candyland piece waiting to be eaten up by Snoop Dogg?

June 7, 2010

Breastfeeding: Nurturing or Sexual?

Julie Bowen of Modern Family recently shared a picture with George Lopez of her breastfeeding her twins in a move called the “double football hold.” Unsurprisingly, that photo, seen below, created a public outcry and claimed that the picture was offensive and shocking.


The squeamish response is unsurprising given previous outcries in recent years. In 2006, Babytalk, a free parenting magazine consumed mostly by mothers, received a backlash from offended parties when they featured a cover of a nursing baby in profile. The magazine received over 700 letters, comments included:

I was SHOCKED to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine,” one person wrote. “I immediately turned the magazine face down,” wrote another. “Gross,” said a third.

One mother who didn’t like the cover explains she was concerned about her 13-year-old son seeing it.

“I shredded it,” said Gayle Ash, of Belton, Texas, in a telephone interview. “A breast is a breast, it’s a sexual thing. He didn’t need to see that.”

“Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob,” wrote Lauren, a mother of a 4-month-old.

Here is the “controversial” cover:

Angelina Jolie created a similar uproar in November, 2008 when she appeared on the cover of W Magazine nursing one of her newborn twins. Along with general discomfort, people responded to the breastfeeding image as something inherently sexual and claimed that the cover photo “sexualized” the act of nursing.

(more…)

June 5, 2010

Baby Gaga: simple role playing or kiddie porn?

Filed under: Sexuality — Tags: , , , , , — Melanie @ 10:19 pm

Yet another girl is pimped out by parents in order to create an internet frenzy. “Baby Gaga” was featured on the Huffington Post today and, to be honest, I felt like I was watching kiddie porn. The simple role playing and dress-up games I engaged in in my youth have become too serious and public for me to be comfortable with. We live in an age when younger and younger girls are sexualized and online access places them at direct risk of coming into contact with registered sex offenders.  In this context, a video like this seems incredibly irresponsible and blinded by potential hits (and a reality show, perhaps?).

For more on sexualizing young girls read my previous posts on gyrating 7 year-olds, sexy kids (toddlers and infants).


May 12, 2010

Gyrating 7-year-olds gone viral

Filed under: Sexuality — Tags: , , , — Melanie @ 5:05 pm

Here’s the latest video making its rounds on the internet of yet another group imitating Beyonce‘s video, Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It). Only this time it’s a bunch of midriff-bearing, gyrating 7-year-olds.

Thoughts?

First, I find the entire performance from song choice to costuming and choreography uncomfortable (it makes Toddlers to Tiaras and the teeny beauty queens from Little Miss Sunshine appear tame). Plus, I’ve never considered Beyonce’s lyrics as a message of empowerment for young girls.

Now put your hands up
Up in the club, we just broke up
I’m doing my own little thing
Decided to dip and now you wanna trip
Cause another brother noticed me

I’m up on him, he up on me
Don’t pay him any attention
Just cried my tears, for three good years
Ya can’t be mad at me

Cause if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it
If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it
Don’t be mad once you see that he want it
If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it
Oh, oh, oh

If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it
If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it
Don’t be mad once you see that he want it
If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it

I got gloss on my lips, a man on my hips
Got me tighter in my Dereon jeans
Acting up, drink in my cup
I can care less what you think

According to Beyonce, empowerment is about making an ex jealous as she struts around with gloss on her lips, a man on her hip in her tight fitting jeans (which Beyonce’s brand, House of Dereon, marketed to young girls in a series of equally disturbing  ads featuring girls posing as young women ready to hit the club). If he really “liked it,” he should have “put a ring on it.” Really? That’s a message of empowerment. Personally, I’d like more than the opportunity to rub my gyrating body in my ex’s face for not marrying me.




May 3, 2010

The Token Feminists are Missing

A few months ago, I saw the-little-remix-video-that-could Buffy vs. Edward , and I subsequently fell back in love with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” (No kidding – I’ve watched the first three seasons on Netflix in the last 4 weeks). I started watching Buffy when I was 13, in the prime of my uncomfortable adolescence – we’re talking the braces, puffy hair, nose is too big for my face, but I’ve only just realized that….yeeeah. But it wasn’t all bad, and I’ve certainly heard worse junior high/high school horror stories. And, of course, I had Buffy….

One of my favorite aspects of the way that Buffy was written is the fact that she was not continually made into a victim before she had to opportunity to protect/defend herself or others. And, the vast majority of female characters are given power to protect themselves (whether it was physical [e.g. Faith] or supernatural [e.g. Anya and Willow]). I’m not going to waste too much time singing the praises of how Buffy (though sadly not Gellar herself), as well as her creator Joss Whedon, are feminist. That has been written. Many, many times. There are some valid complaints, but overall Buffy was, and continues to be, a great example of what we’re capable of. However, if you’re still not convinced and want to fight about I’ll definitely take you on *note sarcasm.*

Feeling a little drunken 90’s nostalgia, I realized that it wasn’t just Buffy. Through all of my phases and changes, I had many strong female characters to model my confused, dorky, adolescent self after. In retrospect the 90’s seem to be the era of fabulous feminist characters: Roseanne, Jesse Spano (Saved by the Bell), Murphy Brown, Rory Gilmore, The Powerpuff Girls, Dana Foster (Step-by-Step), Lisa Simpson, Andrea Zuckerman (90210), A Different World (several characters over the course), Dharma (Dharma and Greg), Marcy D’Arcy (Married with Children), Dark Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, BlossomJoey and Jen (Dawson’s Creek)….ok, I think you get the point.

So, now what I do want to know if where are all of the feminist characters? Why is it that all we see are these vapid, homogeneous, BORING female characters? Given the fact that the media that young women consume (everyone really, but I’ve never been an adolescent boy) serves as such an incredibly strong influence/unavoidable force on the creation of our self-identity and personal paradigm – I’m left wondering if Bella Swan, the girls from The Hills, Sookie oh-so-annoying Stackhouse, and Tina Fey  are the only examples that this generation of young women are growing up with? For the life of me I can’t find one female character on television that I would want my young daughter looking up to (sadly, not even my beloved Mad Men is stacking up).

What’s worse is that it isn’t just the characters. The actresses that are playing these less-than-role-model-worthy characters – or themselves (e.g. The Hills) – are not quick to pick up a feminist lifeline. Kristin Stewart has said that she doesn’t understand why feminists critique The Twilight Saga, and that “Bella wears the pants in the relationship. She’s the sure-footed, confident one…It takes a lot of power and strength to subject yourself to someone completely, to give up the power.” WHAT? Are we talking about the same story? The one where her boyfriends is a sexist stalker and she is powerless to defend herself?? She has also discussed how she grew up feeling like as a woman she could do anything.

And, there – in that statement – are our answers. The media has convinced this generation of young women that feminism is obsolete, that it’s outdated and outmoded, and that to align yourself with it is to be a pariah. They truly believe that we are living in a post-feminist world. I have heard the word “humanist” being substituted where “feminist” used to live comfortably in the mouth….and heart.

Seems a dangerous world to live in where we have to convince even the young women that the gender balances are unequal….they have finally convinced them that the lies are the truth. That we are powerful as long as we are sexy…and, so, this is what they strive for…..

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