Tag Archives: Feminism

A Conversation Between My Boyfriend and Me

21 Mar

After reading this article on Yes and Yes about being childless by choice:

H: That just seems really cut and dry to me. Like, an article on being childless sounds boring.
Me: I did an entire presentation on the childfree movement in college! In my women’s studies class! It’s anything but cut and dry!
H: Oh. (long pause) Was it boring?

Anyway, as it turns out he didn’t know about doctor refusal to grant tubal ligation or, like, anything about being childfree because (as A Dude) he doesn’t have to worry about that sort of thing.

As for me, I plan on raising a small army of children someday (or 3. So it’s a really small army), but respecting other women’s choices is what being a feminist is all about. Super interesting!

Just Something to Meditate On For Today

31 Jan

This picture of Alexis Bledel as Rosie the Riveter:

This past Halloween, I saw a girl working at Jeni’s dressed up as Rosie. I wish I could do this, but I just don’t have the forehead for it.

What’s the Deal With The League?

9 Jan

Recently I watched a few episodes of FX’s The League. I’d seen an episode or two before, but it didn’t really like it and wasn’t interested in watching more. My boyfriend, however, kept trying to get me to like it. Everytime I’d ask an innocent question like, “Do you want to watch Toddlers and Tiaras?” or “Do you want to watch Kardashians?” he’d counter with, “How about The League?” Since I’m not an entirely stone cold bitch, I eventually acquiesced and we ended up watching a few episodes last weekend.

I should like The League. Sure, it’s about football, which I hate, but so is Friday Night Lights. Just because it’s about football doesn’t mean it’s about football, you know? I mean, Keeping Up With the Kardashians is ostensibly about the Kardashians, but I see it as a commentary on our rapidly declining sense of cultural propriety. Also, Khloe.
The cast is made up of people I like: Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, and Mark Duplass (who you know from every movie where Greta Gerwig takes her top off). Lots of people I respect like The League, so I had no reason to expect that I wouldn’t like it.

Except guess what? I don’t like The League. At all.

I only laughed at one character (we’ll get to that later). I felt like the show was trying very hard to say, “This is what dudes are like when they’re hanging out. Just bein’ bros!” Well, if I wanted to hang out with a bunch of homophobic assholes who hate their wives and children, I’d go to a sportsbar. I don’t need to watch TV for that.

The show’s attitude towards women goes beyond unfunny and into downright dangerous. I just the 2 episodes I’ve watched, both the female characters “cut off” their husbands from sex as a punishment. Right, because sex is a favor women do for men. Of course women do not want or need sex for themselves. I really like Katie Aselton, who plays Jenny, but the fact that she’s a good actress doesn’t save the show. Why is she always wearing the tiniest clothes? Where are her pants in this promo shot?

I get it that she’s super hot. I’m not a blind moron, but give me a break.
At one point, a character makes a domestic violence joke. That’s reprehensible and disgusting in any situation, even more so in a show where women seem to be either sex objects or bitches.
Listen, I don’t need likeable characters in order to follow a story; I loved Young Adult, and Mavis was a shitty person. But I do need to at least feel some sort of investment in the characters, and I don’t. So far all I’m getting is bad-sitcom-level jokes about how marriage is awful. At this point, I wouldn’t care if all the characters died.

Except for Paul Scheer, who is a delight! He is absolutely as funny here as he is in everything else he does. Also, it looks like he isn’t wearing pants, either. Maybe I shouldn’t judge.

Will I give this show another chance? Probably not. Life’s short and I’m still not done with Friday Night Lights. I want to like The League, and so many people like it that I can’t believe it’s bad. Then again, so many people think traditional gender roles, violence against women, and elementary school gay jokes are okay, too. I’ve only seen the first few episodes, though, so maybe things change.

Do you watch The League? Do you like it? Should I bother giving it another chance? Let me know!

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: Maya Angelou

18 Nov

“A woman writer will bring certain gear with her, having been born female, having been born into, maybe, a society where women are not valued very much. But a woman writer tells us that here comes somebody who has decided she’s come to stay.” – Maya Angelou

Does the F in Weezy F. Baby Stand for Feminism? Spoiler Alert: No.

1 Nov

Being a woman who enjoys (okay, adores) pop culture means that I have to ask myself a lot of tough questions. Like, should I be offended by Katy Perry’s boobs? And should I be offended by Katy Perry’s songs? And how do I feel about Katy Perry?? But also some things that aren’t related to Katy Perry, like: Should I be listening to Lil Wayne?

I don’t pretend to know much about hip hop. I’m a little white girl from the country who grew up listening to Reba McEntire. But I do love hip hop, because I have ears and I enjoy things that sound good. I only really started listening to Lil Wayne because of my deep, undying, slightly creepy love of Drake. As you probably know, Lil Wayne and Drake are best bros and guest on each others songs a lot. So kind of accidentally, I ended up listening to Lil Wayne and loving him. I mean, there’s a reason why he’s so popular. He’s funny, he’s clever, and he’s talented. But he also consistently refers to women as bitches and hoes (not to sound like the punch line to a joke told by your grandfather) and makes sexual references that sometimes border on the violent (and are, almost certainly, misogynistic). Whereas Drake’s music is often talking to women and never makes me feel like an other, there’s never any question that Lil Wayne is making his music for men. I mean, I love this song, and I really love this song, but my God. Like, I get it. Lil Wayne has sex with women he does not love and then he leaves them even though they want him to stay. I’ve got the message. She Will, which is notable because DRAKE, is insanely quoteable (I am constantly thinking to myself, “I tried to pay attention but attention paid me”), but Lil Wayne says things I would not even be comfortable quoting here.

And then there’s How to Love, which might as well be titled, “This One’s For the Ladies.” It includes lyrics like:

When you was just a young’un your looks were so precious
But now you’re grown up
So fly it’s like a blessing but you can’t have a man look at you for 5 seconds
Without you being insecure
You never credit yourself so when you got older
It seems like you came back 10 times over
Now you’re sitting here in this damn corner
Looking through all your thoughts and looking over your shoulder

See you had a lot of crooks tryna steal your heart
Never really had luck, couldn’t never figure out
How to love

Well, that sounds nice! I’ve been listening to this song all summer and I imagined this backstory for the song where Lil Wayne knew this girl when he was a kid (maybe like a family friend?), and then she grew up and got really pretty, and also maybe she went to college and traveled abroad (“had a lot of dreams that transformed into visions/the fact that you saw the world affected all your decisions”) and now Lil Wayne is just realizing how great she is! That is totally a song that Lil Wayne would record! Except no it isn’t, Kerry. Get real.

This (honestly kind of disturbing video) tells a weird story that’s pretty at odds with everything else Lil Wayne’s ever said or sung. A woman has a baby and brings her up in an abusive household. As a result, her male role model is in prison, it’s implied she’s sexually abused, she ends up wearing ripped fishnets and making out with a dude on some steps, which results in kids, which results in stripping, which results in prostitution, which results in HIV. Yes, HIV.
On the flip side is the other outcome of this situation, where the (original) mother removes herself and the baby from abuse, the girl grows up to get some great bangs, does well in school, wears glasses and talks to a dude on some steps, which results in cosmetology school, which results in graduation, which results in pregnancy, which I guess is a good thing because everyone seems happy about it and anyway it’s certainly better than HIV.

This all seems okay, until you think about everything that Lil Wayne represents. As H. pointed out to me, this video shows that Lil Wayne clearly understands that, for many women, stripping is a career choice forced on them by severe economic hardship and socioeconomic inequality, as well as deep-rooted sexual dysfunction. And yet Lil Wayne is known for dropping huge loads of cash on strippers. Maybe Lil Wayne is going to some sort of magical strip club where all of the women there love expressing their sexuality through stripping, because I guess those theoretically exist (maybe?), but probably it is more of a situation like this.

In Wayne’s World (joke alert), men hold no responsibility for bringing up their daughters or being good role models. It is the mother’s responsibility to get her daughter away from abuse; where is the video telling men not to abuse their wives, or daughters (or, for that matter, any woman, including strippers)? In this world, women have to make all the decisions and ultimately take all of the blame for everything that goes wrong, be that abuse, pregnancy, or HIV.

So I guess Wayne’s World is the same as real life. Good to know.

I’ve been organizing my thoughts for a post on why I think Drake is a feminist and why he’s, by far, my favorite rapper. Stay tuned for that if I can ever get my shit together. I’m probably not going to stop listening to Lil Wayne because I still watch Roman Polanski movies and look at that scumbag, but at the very least I’d like to focus more of my attention on female-positive rappers.

Lady Inspiration: bell hooks

10 Oct

Think of all the women you know who will not allow themselves to be seen without makeup. I often wonder how they feel about themselves at night when they are climbing into bed with intimate partners. Are they overwhelmed with secret shame that someone sees them as they really are? Or do they sleep with rage that who they really are can be celebrated or cared for only in secret? – bell hooks

While I find this thought interesting, I definitely don’t agree with it. I wear a lot of makeup every single day, and I’ve never felt that it is a way of hiding who I am. On the contrary: makeup makes me feel more authentically me. For me, it’s the same with dressing up, even when I’m just staying home. It’s a way of saying, “Yes, this moment is worth celebrating. This life is worth putting effort into.”

Also my eyelashes are very short and if $5 and 20 seconds every day can change that, then what a fool I would be to not take that opportunity.

I don’t know. Maybe someday I’ll wake up and think, “Oh, God, did I really waste all that time smiling at myself in the mirror so I could apply stage-appropriate levels of blush to the apples of my cheeks?” But I doubt it.

Lady Inspiration: Zooey Deschanel

6 Oct

Why do I need to be defined aesthetically by someone else’s perceptions of what makes me seem like someone who should be taken seriously? I’m going to wear whatever I want to wear, because I’m expressing myself, and I deserve that right. And I like the way that looks. You’re not demeaning yourself by acting girlie. I think the fact that people are associating being girlie with weakness, that needs to be examined. – Zooey Deschanel

Lady Inspiration: Debbie Stoller on Martha Stewart

16 Sep

The reason that second wave feminists realized that that kind of work was so frustrating to women was because they were limited to it, but also that it was never valued by the culture. Women’s work was always much less valued than anything that men did, whether they were garbage men or executives. Anything that men did was more valuable than what women did. Also, all this work was always presented to women as something they had to do to satisfy their husbands and their children. Whereas Martha Stewart that same amount of work, showing its value, and she has no husband, her children are grown – she presents this stuff as something to do for your own pleasure, to enrich your life. – Debbie Stoller on Martha Stewart, from Feministing.

Martha Stewart is yet another example of a woman that would be viewed completely differently if she were a man. I’m so tired of hearing negative opinions about Martha, Oprah, and Hillary Clinton when they possess the exact leadership qualities we admire in a man.
Also, I know that picture has nothing to do with the quote, but just…look at it. It will never not make me laugh.

Important Lady Album: When the Pawn, Fiona Apple

5 Aug

In which I look back on the albums that made me the lady I am, and encourage you to give them a listen.

I never listened to or read anything age appropriate, so it isn’t surprising that my favorite album in the 8th grade was Fiona Apple’s When the Pawn… I understand why I was drawn to it musically. I’ve always loved classic pop music with dark and unexpected undertones. But I also listened intently to Fiona’s lyrics, despite the fact that I couldn’t possibly have understood them at the tender age of 14. The songs are almost exclusively about being unable to love or unable to be loved. They’re full of resentment and anger, as well as self-pity and loneliness. Those are all feelings most of us spent a good deal of time with in our late teens and early twenties (of course, in my mid twenties I have worked through all of my issues and I’m doing perfectly fine! Ahem.), but I just feel very sad for junior high me. So much yet to experience. At least I had this album, which has held up remarkably well. Considering that my other favorite albums that year were by Savage Garden and Brandy (Never Say Never, y’all!), I’m impressed with my rare display of good taste.

Fast As You Can was the first song I heard by Fiona, and it’s what made me fall in love. The video is hypnotic.

Paper Bag is another song about being disappointed by a man. That’s what all Fiona Apple songs are about, and that’s why she’s so great. This song played in Bridesmaids, during the scene where Kristen Wiig makes herself one cupcake and eats it all alone. I have a feeling that wasn’t the first time this song was played while a lady ate a cupcake alone.

If you’ve ever been disappointed by someone (a dude), this song is for you. Can I quote Fiona for a moment? Indulge me. “Hunger hurts, and I want him so bad, oh it kills/ Cause I know I’m a mess he don’t wanna clean up/I got to fold ’cause these hands are too shaky to hold/Hunger hurts, but starving works, when it costs too much to love.” That’s just the chorus. Fiona’s songs contain multitudes.

And then there’s Limp, which is the song to listen to if you’re, I don’t know, in a terrible abusive relationship? This song is incredibly dark and includes some unsettling violent sexual imagery.

If you need a soundtrack for your drunken, angry crying jag, this would be the one to try! She practically spits, “No matter what I try, you beat me with your bitter lies.” I don’t know how she performs this song live without breaking down.

Once I went to a sleepover where another girl brought out this CD. She liked all the cool bands (Rage Against the Machine, Third Eye Blind, the usual) and I was so excited we both liked Fiona. Every time parents came into the room she dashed over to the boombox to turn it down so they wouldn’t hear the profanity. I felt very adult. Eighth grade, you know?

One of the biggest reasons I love Fiona Apple is because she’s aggressively female, which is something I’ve talked about before. It’s that loud, angry assertion of femaleness that really turns most men off. If I met a man who was really into Fiona, I would respect him, but I would also assume he didn’t understand her the way I did. Her songs have an element of victimization and anger as a result of that victimization that I just don’t think (most) men have experienced. This album is one for the ladies.

Dig out your copy of When the Pawn, or watch some of the videos on Youtube. It’s just as good as it was in 1999, I promise!