Tag Archives: badass ladies

The Best Lines From The New Yorker’s Article on Carrie Brownstein/Portlandia

3 Jan


Maybe you don’t have time to read this whole article about Carrie Brownstein. I didn’t think I did, either, but then Lauren posted it on my wall and I was at my parents’ house, and, well…it’s a good read, you guys. I learned lots of things. In case you don’t get around to it, here are the best lines.

-“Brownstein and Armisen began building a friendship, but, given that they were living on opposite coasts, they decided that they’d have to work on something together. As she put it, when you’re not dating somebody, “it begins to seem kind of weird if you’re flying around the country to see him.””

-“Armisen and Brownstein text each other every night before bed. Brownstein says of their friendship, “Sometimes I think it’s the most successful love affair either of us will ever have.” Both claim that it wouldn’t work if they were romantically involved. “It would be colder, because we’ve both treated our romantic relationships in a cold way,” Armisen says. “Carrie and I are more romantic than any other romantic relationship I’ve ever had—that sense of anticipation about seeing the other person, the secret bond. But things don’t become obligatory. I’m not thinking, I’m doing this because you’re my girlfriend; I’m just thinking, I love Carrie.””

-“Bill Oakley, a former head writer for “The Simpsons” who had moved to Portland, has helped out on the show. He says, “I’ve spent a lot of time in writers’ rooms. They’re pressure cookers. In most cases, they’re heavily male. You work long hours and many of the people in them have a really negative view about themselves and life.” The “Portlandia” writers’ room, however, is collaborative and laid-back. Some meetings have been held in the loft of the director Gus Van Sant, who has become friendly with Brownstein. “Gus’s dog was wandering in and out,” Oakley says.”

-“In one sketch, Toni, played by Brownstein, reproves a woman who has written an appreciative account of her boyfriend’s sexual technique for the store’s “journaling class.” “I feel like it was a brag journal,” Toni says. “And what a journal should be is a document of misery.””

-“In the bathroom were posters seeking roommates for group houses, including this one: “We are into open and honest communication, dumpstering, crafts, music, raw/living foods, biking, natural building, permaculture, living in shacks and trailers and all kinds of fun stuff like that. We are a vegan house, except that some of us do dumpster dairy.” (When I mentioned this to Brownstein, she said, “If I were into dumpster diving, dairy is the last thing I’d dive for.”)”

-“When Miranda July tried to explain why she and Brownstein had stayed friends since their riot-grrrl days, she began to say the word “ambition,” but hesitated. Instead, she said that they shared “a steady focus on what we are going to do next. We’re always asking each other, ‘What’s the next project?’ And, that being the throughline in our lives, more than relationships, that becomes pretty meaningful, at a certain point.””

-“It had taken a while, she said, for her to shed the sense that it was unseemly to “take credit for something you did. So Fred is so nice, because he never came from that scene. And it’s not about being self-aggrandizing. It’s just about taking a moment to be proud of yourself, that you worked hard and feel good about it.” Maybe, she mused, it helped that he was a guy.”

-“Brownstein mentioned how hard it was “to stay sharp on tour,” and said that she did a lot of reading. She had James Baldwin’s “The Devil Finds Work” and Hawthorne’s “The Marble Faun” tucked into her travel bag in the van.”

-“But Fred is someone whom I deeply trust, he’s already an extension of what I’d call family…We drove home late and I dropped him off at his hotel. Sometimes I get confused and think, Are we supposed to kiss goodnight? But, the truth is, I don’t want us to kiss, I want us to teach each other how good it can be to stick around.”

Okay, you’re welcome, now go read the whole article!

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

15 Dec

I’m helpless to resist any book that’s become a part of pop culture. Basically, if a book’s been made into a movie, put in Oprah’s book club, or given its own display at Target, I want to read it. That explains why I read all 4 Twilight books (about as bland and harmless as you can get) and a Nicholas Sparks book (it was, maybe literally, the worst book I’ve ever read). That’s also why I recently borrowed my dad’s copy of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. What can I say, the sexy naked poster and the trailer intrigued me. Seriously, this movie looks bananas in the best way possible.

I couldn’t put the book down and I can’t wait for the movie. That being said, I have some serious concerns about the book…concerns that have probably been brought up by people far more eloquent than me years ago when this book actually came out. Since I’m hopping on the bandwagon late, I’m going to go ahead and discuss this now. I am nothing if not topical.

The book’s heroine is Lisbeth Salander, an oft-abused badass who’s, I presume, mildly autistic.

The “oft-abused” part of that is my problem. It’s not really a spoiler to say that one of the book’s themes is the abuse of women. Each chapter begins with a sobering statistic about rape/abuse in Sweden. Whether Sweden’s attitude towards women is markedly different from ours, I don’t know, but clearly Larsson wants us to know how prevalent such violence is. This, combined with various things Salander says regarding victim-blaming, abuser-coddling, and women in general, seem to show not just her viewpoint, but Larsson’s as well. Indeed, Larsson identified as a feminist and, from what I’ve read, saw the trilogy as feminist books.

But then there’s the rape. Given that this is a book primarily about abuse and rape, it would be strange if neither were discussed. The book’s treatment of rape, however, left me confused. Salander’s boss has feelings both paternal and sexual for her, and that attitude seems to be shared by every male in the book. He describes her multiple times as the “perfect victim.” The books contains a graphic rape scene that’s upsetting…to which I say, well, of course. As normal, non-psychopathic human beings, we should be upset and shaken by descriptions of rape. Yet (and perhaps this is a gross double standard), I see a huge difference between Alice Sebold (a rape victim herself) describing a rape in The Lovely Bones and a man describing the brutal and graphic rape of the “perfect victim.” The very phrase “perfect victim”

Such detailed description of Salander’s rape (which, at that point, the reader is all but expecting) makes me wonder if the reader is supposed to be repulsed or titillated. Or, perhaps, both. I’m not suggesting that such description not be included in the book; I’m hardly a fan of censorship and I’ve read my fair share of material both violent and sexual. But when a scene garners so much attention and leads to interviews with Mara Rooney (the American film’s Lisbeth) that barely discuss anything but the rape scene, I start to think, “What’s the point?” Think of the movie Hounddog, which you probably know only as “the Dakota Fanning rape movie.” One of the reasons people were so upset by that was because, somewhere, some scumbag was jerking off to that scene. I certainly don’t think we should let the potential masturbation habits of perverts govern our actions (or else no one would ever make anything or put pictures of themselves on the internet), but in general, what purpose does such a scene serve? Even if Larsson, feminist that he was, meant the scene to highlight the horror of rape, the unfortunate truth is that such a scene might only serve to sexualize a crime that, despite its nature, isn’t rooted in sex at all.

If Larsson identified himself as a feminist, I’ll take his word for it. After all, he’s dead, so he can’t exactly give any interviews explaining his intentions. I’ll presume that he meant the best and focus on Lisbeth Salander as a badass feminist hero, a woman hell-bent on vigilante justice and unwilling to take any shit from anybody. What about you guys–have you read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? Are you going to see the movie? Is this a feminist book? Let me know what you think!

Lady Inspiration: Susan Sontag

20 Sep

“A thought occurred to me today — so obvious, so always obvious! It was absurd to suddenly comprehend it for the first time — I felt rather giddy, a little hysterical: — There is nothing, nothing that stops me from doing anything except myself … What is to prevent me from just picking up and taking off? Just the self-enforced pressures of my environment, but which have always seemed so omnipotent that I never dared to contemplate a violation of them.”

I think about this quote often when I’m feeling down or stuck. It helps to remember all of us are where we are because of our own choices, and nothing is holding us back from making different choices tomorrow.

Lady Inspiration: Hester

9 Aug

Hester is my family’s cat.

She’s one of the most inspirational ladies I know because she came from nothing, yet managed to make a life for herself. Well, actually we don’t know where she came from. She showed up one day, all meows and purrs and leg rubs, letting us know she was ready to join the family (FYI, this is exactly how you join our family. Flattery will get you everywhere). If you sat down, she sat down beside you (or on you). If you opened the door, she ran inside. Pretty soon she was sleeping inside, and when winter came around, she became a full-time stay-at-home cat. At this point, she started sleeping all day and ignoring everyone. She was free to get cat hair all over everything, poop in the basement, and claw Chase’s hands. It’s become pretty clear that Hester basically lied her way into our hearts, but no one cares anymore.

Hester is a lady who knows how to hustle, which I begrudgingly respect. She took a “no indoor pets” family and turned them into a cat family. If Hester were a person, she’d be a busker or a gypsy or maybe just that guy you know who’s never really on a lease and always sleeping on someone’s couch.
Plus, she can see into your soul.

Lady Inspiration: My Great-Grandma

9 Jun

That’s my great-grandma, Stella, on the right. She smoked cigars, rolled her own cigarettes, and kept a framed photo of JFK in her house. I don’t know much else about her, but that seems pretty inspirational to me.

Tina Fey on Amy Poehler

4 Jun

“Amy was in the middle of some … nonsense … and she did something vulgar as a joke. I can’t remember what it was exactly, except it was dirty and loud and ‘unladylike.’

Jimmy Fallon, who was arguably the star of the show at the time, turned to her and in a faux-squeamish voice said, ‘Stop that! It’s not cute! I don’t like it.’

Amy dropped what she was doing, went black in the eyes for a second and wheeled around on him. ‘I don’t fucking care if you like it.’ Jimmy was visibly startled. Amy went right back to enjoying her ridiculous bit. (I should make it clear that Jimmy and Amy are very good friends and there was never any real beef between them. Insert penis joke here.)

With that exchange, a comsmic shift took place. Amy made it clear that she wasn’t there to be cute. She wasn’t there to play wives and girlfriends in the boys’ scenes. She was there to do what she wanted to do and she did not fucking care if you liked it.”

-from Bossypants, Tina Fey.

Just some besties, hanging out (with Janeane Garafolo, who is OBVIOUSLY also amazing):

Creative Lady Inspiration: Julie Klausner

1 Jun

“Pam (from The Office) is not intimidating, like one of those women who wears makeup and tailored clothes, and has a good job that she enjoys, and confidence, and an adult woman’s sexuality. There’s nothing scary about Pam, because there’s no mystery; she’s just like the boys who like her; mousy and shy. The ultimate emo-boy fantasy is to meet a nerdy, cute girl just like him, and nobody else will realize she’s pretty. And she’ll melt when she sees his record collection because it’s just like hers….and she’ll never want to go out to a party for which he’ll be forced to comb his hair, or buy grown-up shoes or tie a tie, or demonstrate a hearty handshake, or make eye contact, or relate to people who work in different fields, or to basically act like a man.”

On the serious: Julie Klausner’s book, I Don’t Care About Your Band, actually changed my life. Okay, “changed my life,” sounds a little dramatic, but what I mean is that she changed the way I thought about myself. Her book encouraged me to be a stronger woman, and to not change myself for men in any capacity (whether they be coworkers, friends, or boyfriends). She reminded me that I don’t have to dress like a guy in order to be smart, and if a man doesn’t take me seriously if I’m wearing a dress, then forget him.

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