Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday's Five Feminist Friends

1) Ms. finds feminist fairy tales-- the perfect gift.

2) Jezebel reveals the best of the worst photo-shop in 2010.

3) RH Reality Check wonders how to become a virgin again.

4) Fbomb discovers feminist science fiction.

5) Feministing suggests tracks for Nikki Minaj to keep it real.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Funny Feminism

Feminists still don't have a sense of humor.



A hilarious response to street harassment by BGSU alum LucĂ© Tomlin-Brenner.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What's So Funny About Sexism?

Originally published in the BG News on Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ed Yourdon at Creative Commons 3.0
While a traditional asylum is often a place of security for displaced persons, the virtual refuge is not quite as serious.

Asylum is promoted as an Internet escape from nagging wives, controlling girlfriends and all the other things that tend to get men down. This retreat for all "mankind" is so predictable it's almost satisfying.

Anyone who understands irony and speaks fluent sarcasm would recognize Asylum's features as reminiscent of the Onion. And the humorous approach to news, when used correctly, can be quite useful.

But those contributing to Asylum are all too eager to make jokes at women's expense. Their shtick is covering hotness, which gets exhausted over, and over, and over again. And any implied commentary about the objectification of women is lost in a flood of imagery that further objectifies women.

One would expect the masterminds behind an operation like Asylum to be a traditional boys club, but five of the 17 staff members are women.

In fact, deputy managing editor Emily McCombs is Asylum's official "token girl," hosting "A Woman's Perspective," which is a lot like Sarah Haskins' "Target Women" gone horribly wrong.



See, Haskins cleverly critiqued the ways in which advertising "targets" women, hence the name of her popular Internet show, which is (sadly) retired.

McCombs appears to be doing something similar, but (to keep the pun going) misses her target.



For instance, McCombs' take on birthdays is that "they have everything that women like; dessert, attention, and the opportunity to wear a tiara." "A Woman's Perspective" appears to be nothing more than a man's perspective, served with a heavy dose of sexism.

McCombs relies entirely on gender stereotypes and self-depreciation to get a cheap laugh. Without obvious certainty that she disagrees with her own statements, she could be misconstrued as mocking women in order to gain men's approval, especially considering where her vlogs reside.

But Asylum doesn't just degrade women; men get short-changed too. Asylum anticipates their audience is a bunch of AXE-wearing cavemen whose interests include sex, sports, and more sex.

With that definition of "mankind" in mind, it's not surprising "A Woman's Perspective" is reinforcing archaic gender roles for men as well.

In a bit about male crying, McCombs explains "the truth remains that after a woman has seen a man cry, it's hard for us to ever respect him again." She suggests men use violence instead, to avoid shame and rejection. Then, by admitting she had already cried that day (because she is a woman) she upholds a double standard like a pillar of patriarchy.

Maybe we just don't get it? As the saying goes, feminists don't have a sense of humor.

But then how do you explain the hilarious antics of Sarah Haskins and other women comedians like Margaret Cho, Wanda Sykes and Amy Poehler?

Yes, feminism can be funny. And intelligent humor has this amazing ability to make audiences think while they laugh which is ultimately more rewarding. And, like the theme song of Poehler's Internet talk show states, "smart girls have more fun."

While McCombs' performance is over the top, it's debatable whether viewers are hearing hidden messages about inequality, or if the satire is as superficial as the rest of the site. Either way, this Asylum appears only to offer further oppression, rather than freedom from it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Your Informercial Holiday Gift

And the choices were...

Booty Pop Panties-



Or the Shake Weight-



Or an Animal Print Snuggie-



Or Flirty Girl Fitness DVDs-



And the winner is...



The Shake Weight!  Good job...  Keep going...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday's Five Feminist Friends

1) Ms. takes a look at how women are doing in the workplace.

2) Jezebel follows cheeleader's refusal to the Supreme Court.

3) Feministing: Obama signs DADT repeal.

4) WMC plans watch-in for 16&Pregnant's abortion episode.

5) Akimbo lists top ten "wins" around the world this year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bitches Ain't Shit

As "Slutty Feminist" and taking back language prove difficult for some to understand, and I tire of explaining myself, I am reminded of this most awesome example of diffusing that which is degrading.


This is what (hilarious) reclaiming looks like-- 



Now those are some clever bitches.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bitches Be Crazy

Parks and Recreation will return in January for season 3. 

But until then-- remember this?

"I was thinking with my... lady parts."



"This would not happen if I had a penis."

Well said, Miss Knope.  Well said.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Meet a Falcon Feminist: Sarah Rainey


Meet our first falcon feminist-- Dr. Sarah Rainey; women's studies instructor and undergraduate studies coordinator.  She advises all the majors and minors in the women's studies department.

It's a tough gig.  Even within the university, there's plenty of people who think women's studies is a useless field-- a bunch of chicks talking about chick stuff.  However, the study of gender is essential to understanding humanity and can be observed through multiple lenses.

Dr. Rainey thinks women's studies is important because it's interdisciplinary.  Professors and students from all over the university come together in this department to discuss the social implications of gender, as well as class, race, age, and other intersectionalities.  The dialogue is as diverse as the participants.

After obtaining her BA, MA and Ph. D in women's studies at Ohio State University, Dr. Rainey settled down in Bowling Green.  While finding the university that best suits you is "a horrible, horrible process," she's happy to be here.

"I liked BGSU, my partner actually went here, so we had family here, and it was just a good fit."

Dr. Rainey's areas of expertise are sexuality and diability studies.  Her dissertation considered couples in which one person has a physical disability and the other does not.

"People see that relationship as kind of sexless, kind of doomed, as sad.  And the people in that relationship, however, viewed it as an asset and they were able to incorporate the disability in their sexual self expression and make it a strong part of their relationship."

Her next research project will cover same sex parenting, focusing on the parents of lesbian moms.  And she's located a good niche-- right now there's no books about it.

"I found this out the hard way because my mom was having a hard time with her new role as the non-biological grandmother," she said.   But this frustration created a need and an opportunity.

"So I'm really excited to collect those stories about how other grandparents have constructed those identites and to publish them, to help other women. 

At the university, she teaches classes on disability, health and sexuality, as well as many sections of intro and some feminist theoy.  She has goals to grow the program and make it more visible, visiting classrooms, sending out recrutiment letters-- she even organized the Socially Responsible Careers, Internships and Networks Fair to disprove a discouraging myth about non-business majors.

"It was specifically geared towards students in women's studies or ethnic studies-- fields where there's a false perception that you can't get any kind of good job.  We had a career fair just for those students.  And it was very successful.  We had about 30 organizations attend from all over the United States--with representatives there to talk about opportunities available at their organizations."

People who study people, instead of numbers or market trends often question job placement.  This was the answer; non-profits as far as the eye could see, hoping to scoop up some do-gooders before they graduated.

But that's not all Dr. Rainey's done.  This year she helped organize Triota; the women's studies honors society and there's never been a more rewarding time to be women's studies nerd. 

Director of American Culture Studies, Radhika Gajjala, was the Interim Director of Women's Studies last year and she credits "a very disciplined and hard worker" with her smooth transition into a position of administrative leadership.
"[Dr. Rainey] made it easy for me to assume authority without having to be authoritarian.  She was a collaborator who was a colleague working shoulder to shoulder with me in trying to continue the good work done by other faculty, staff and administrators in women's studies."

Her efforts are unparalled.  "In her work as undergraduate coordinator, [Dr. Rainey] put in unending amounts of energy and enthusiasm in developing and re-developing courses, building connections between graduate students and undergraduate students; between community organizations and the women's studies program, etc.," said Gajjala.
Women's studies major Sara Myles, 21, is also a big fan of the falcon feminist.

"Dr. Rainey is great because she is relatable," she said, "and her willingness to help her students is awesome." 

This particularly awesome professor changed Myles's life when she presented her with a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend Feminist Summer Camp in New York City with Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards.  Dr. Rainey then encourage Myles to apply for the scholarship that helped her make the trip.

"If I had never met Sarah Rainey, I would never have taken a women's studies class and my life would be totally different.  She is just really cool, nice, informed, and intelligent," said Myles.


Dr. Rainey kick-started falcon feminism with the falcon feminist awards handed out during last year's women's studies symposium.  She wanted to acknowledge the people who were changing the world by changing the world around them.  Local activism is strong in Bowling Green-- and it keeps growing.

"One thing I was really impressed with, coming to BGSU, was the feminist community here. 

She appreciates the campus-wide teamwork.  The women's center and the women's studies department are allies, working closely together to bring speakers and organize events.  And collaborating to foster the best possible environment for students has enabled some pretty incredible things to happen.

Playwright Bobbi Ausubel from That Takes Ovaries led a discussion about sex trafficking and a student-presented reenactment of some of the boldest stories in her collection.

BGSU was also visited by Feministing blogger Jessica Valenti to talk about her adventures in online feminism and the many books she has written. 

Dr. Rainey publicizes, and partipates in every event.  She created an official women's studies calendar that traces the history of women at BGSU though historical photographs.  She even makes buttons and magnets to earn money for departmental scholarships. 

"She forged ahead with planning events and fundraising and did not let the low resourced nature of the women's studies program hinder her enthusiasm or efforts at sustained curricular development in the program and mentoring of students," said Gajjala.

She gives 110% to all her students and she is the best person to kick off "Meet a Falcon Feminist," a regular feature that introduces members of Bowling Green's feminist community to readers everywhere. 

Stay tuned-- there are many more to come.

Now watch Dr. Rainey tell her story in her own words:
 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday's Five Feminist Friends

1) Ms. hearts feminist Sarah Silverman.

2) Fbomb reveals the curse of big-breasted women in video games.

3) Bitch and MoMA promote women artists.

4) The F-Word criticizes London's holiday domestic violence campaign.

5) Jezebel ponders queer labels in a heteronormative society.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

W-O-M-A-N

Because Miss Piggy was one of my first feminist influences...



She was strong, opinionated, confident, full-figured and beautiful.
And she knew self-defense... HI-YA!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Wolf in Feminist's Clothing

Originally published in the BG News on Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Photo courtesy of Flickr user dalliedee under Creative Commons 3.0

Self-proclaimed “longtime feminist activist” Naomi Wolf is under fire this week for an open letter she wrote to the International Criminal Police Organization via the Huffington Post.  Wolf likened Interpol to “the dating police” after they arrested Wikileaks enabler Julian Assange on sexual assault charges. 

Her words were dripping with sarcasm as she eagerly thanked Interpol for apprehending the man accused of rape by two women.  And now Wolf is left standing in a puddle, or better said, a steaming pile-- of her own doing.

“I have been overjoyed to discover your new commitment to engaging in global manhunts to arrest and prosecute men who behave like narcissistic jerks to women they are dating,” she started. 

Wolf argued the accusers are pressing charges in a scheme for revenge, conjured only after they realized he was dating both of them at the same time.  She snarkily suggests that if these vindictive charges stick, Interpol also arrest an entire fraternity, as well as boyfriends who patronize strippers and don’t notice haircuts—because they are all guilty of similar wrong-doing.

But why is a well-known feminist affirming the douchebag defense that only angry women cry sexual assault to get back at men who cheat or have hurt them in some way other than actually violating them?   

Andi Zeisler blogged a response for Bitch, stating Wolf’s words were particularly disappointing, considering she wrote a cover story for New York Magazine in 2004 about her own sexual assault.  She admitted that as an undergraduate student at Yale, she was too scared to report the crime—and has regretted it ever since.  Apparently Wolf used to think women should be encouraged to come forward with their stories, and when they are brave enough to speak the truth, they should be believed. 

But now she is publicly denying two women victim-status because of the power and influence of the accused.

Feminist author and blogger Jessica Valenti responded to Wolf in the Washington Post, where she asserted actual facts pertaining to the Assange case are hard to come by-- while assumptions are a dime a dozen.  Valenti explained the accusations rest on something called “withdrawn consent”-- an unknown concept in the United States. 

To Americans, initial consent is all that matters.  So if you initially agree to have sex and later change your mind for whatever reason - it hurts, your partner has become violent, or you're simply no longer in the mood - your partner can continue despite your protestations, and it won't be considered rape.  It defies common sense,” Valenti said.  And more importantly, it is illegal in Sweden.

Victim-blaming has run rampant because people are confusing the crimes.  The Wikileaks scandal is one thing—but this is sexual violence. 

Yesterday, National Public Radio reported Assange’s bail was set at $380,000.  The former computer hacker is wanted for questioning after two women accused him of rape, molestation and unlawful coercion in separate encounters in Sweden over the summer,” and was originally denied bail. 

Yet in the same story, NPR reported “Supporters [of Assange] outside City of Westminster Magistrates' Court erupted in cheers when they heard news of Tuesday's ruling”-- a frightening scene when we consider why he was actually arrested.   

Wolf, blatantly on team Assange, wrote another piece for HuffPo just three days later, likening his arrest to the revival of the Espionage Act.  She also congratulated herself for predicting these events indicating “the end of America” four years prior.  After plugging her book by the same name, Wolf warns that we are all Julian Assange and our first amendment rights are at stake. 

But seriously, what about the raping?

Is her unexpected stance just risky advertising?  Is Wolf using the Assange incident to prove a past point and push a book that didn’t sell as well as she had hoped?  Wolf is better known for The Beauty Myth and her opinions on sexism rather than democracy.  Perhaps she is consciously attempting to distance herself from feminism as she takes on American history and politics?

Regardless of whether or not her distasteful commentary was an (un)clever marketing ploy, it has lost her a significant amount of respect in the feminist community.  And I can’t imagine discrediting successful titles like Promiscuities and Fire With Fire is worth the limited attention her controversial and career jeopardizing actions have earned her latest literary installment.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This Is What a Feminist Sounds Like

Back in October, Ms. Magazine had a booth at the West Hollywood Book Fair in Califormia.  A few of their incredible interns; Emily Bengtson, Annie Shields and Alexandra Tweten, were distributing copies of the latest issue and "This Is What A Feminist Looks Like" t-shirts.


Emily Bengtson, Annie Shields, Sarah Silverman, and Alexandra Tweten
 


















The event featured over 300 authors and artists.  Noticing Sarah Silverman promoting her book "The Bedwetter" just a few booths down, the interns approached her for a quick photo-op.  And that is all.  But last week, Silverman was on the Conan O'Brian Show-- spreading bedwetter awareness-- and took some creative liberties when re-telling her version of the encounter.



Silverman said:
They were trying to relate and they go "Oh, we met the CEO of Funny or Die, Dick Glover."  And I go, I don't know him.  And then I'm like, what's his name again?  They're like "Dick Glover."  And I go [pause face] you probably met someone from Funny or Die, but his name is not Dick Glover-- listen to yourself.
And then, following a google search, Sarah Silverman learned that the President and CEO of Funny or Die is indeed named Dick Glover.

But according to eye-witness Alexandra Tweten; that never happened.  Tweten assumes the "Dick Glover" incident involved someone else, and the stories were blended to save time.  Plus, what's funnier than throwing a couple of feminists in a good dick joke?

While some thought Silverman portrayed them as ditzy, or at least
gullible, the interns were thrilled just to be mentioned.  Shields even wrote a blog about it, where she said:
We were pleased to hear Ms. Silverman confirm what we had been hoping when we presented her with the t-shirt, that indeed, she is what a feminist looks like.
Critics of the comedian are unsure they can support Silverman's shocking and offensive humor.  She's known for pushing people's buttons and nothing is sacred-- not even Jesus

Regardless, Ms. still hearts Sarah Silverman, fuzzy memory and all.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Advices from Cartoon Princesses

Wtih the news that Disney is finally putting an end to princess production, last week's posts featured a three part series about the damage that has already been done.

What did little girls learn from their role models?  It is what it is.

Snow White--



Belle--



and Ariel--



Thanks Ladies.  Your gendered lessons and endless wisdom have been duly noted.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday's Five Feminist Friends

1) Fbomb talks about the sex educations.

2) Womanist Musings talks about Canada's "Highway of Tears."

3)  Gender Across Borders talks about girls playing sports.

4) RH Reality Check lets women talk about their abortions.

5) Bitch talks about Naomi Wolf talking aboout Julian Assange.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Diversity That Wasn't

As we come to the end of this three-part-series, it's time to discuss the most disturbing trend within the Disney princess phenomenon: racism.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Mike Miley under Creative Commons 3.0

Beginning with the most recent installment, Womanist Musings blogger Renee Martin had this to say about Tangled:
The world is anything but equal and this is evidenced by what bodies we choose to celebrate and what bodies we choose either to denigrate or ignore.  Each day that a little White girl turns on the television, or opens a book, she can see multiple representations of White womanhood.  In of itself, Rapunzel is not problematic, but in a world in which natural Black kinky hair is seen as unkempt and downright ugly, Rapunzel amounts to a slap in the face. It tells little girls of color that they will never be beautiful, because they were born without the characteristics that are normal to White womanhood.
Martin believes Tangled's timing was strategic, resetting a certain standard after Disney's first (and last) "token" Black princess. 

And she makes a strong case. 

Disney's representations of women of color have always been flawed.  Certain princesses are sprinkled into Disney's motley crew like an affirmative action fairy tale, but they always come up short.

Using Martin's example, Tiana was the first princess that didn't have long flowing hair.  It was styled in a constant up-do.  And there were other racial discrepancies in this milestone movie, discussed expertly by Shannon Prince for Racialicious back in 2009.

As Prince explains, there was much ado about The Princess and the Frog.  Finally-- a Black female lead!  But when Tiana finally arrived, she spent most of the movie as a frog.  No other princess had ever changed form-- especially not into an animal.  Can we say de-humanized? 

In the story of "The Frog Prince" the prince was a frog until the princess kissed him, and then he wasn't a frog anymore.  Tiana's story is infinitely more complicated.  And while Disney tried to spin it as a clever-new-take on a tired-old-story, every other traditional princess had stayed true to her tale.  And her molecular structure. 

But some princesses aren't really princesses at all.  Pocahontas is not a princess because a tribe is not a monarchy.  Her father was a chief, not a king.  Her grandmother was a tree, not a queen.  And speaking of speaking to trees, her "colors of the wind" earthiness is a positive stereotype, but a stereotype nonetheless.

Disney has always struggled with Native Americans.  While Pocahontas is a far cry from Tiger Lily and blatantly offensive portrayals of the "red man" in Peter Pan, the fact remains White, European colonists are singing about 'savages' as they merrily initiate what will later be recognized as genocide.

Pocahontas misrepresents colonialism-- an important lesson often distorted in American classrooms.  In reality, she was taken as a child, converted to Christianity, and taught to hate her own culture.  This is an imperialist take-over, not a fairy tale.  Looking back, it was rather fitting that Mel Gibson was John Smith-- a man racist strong enough to tame a wild woman of color.

Mulan also required an exceptionally strong man to tame her unruly ways.  While Chinese women are portrayed as submissive and feminine to a fault in "Bring Honor To Us All," this warrior-princess was too masculine to be a real princess.  Mulan was a gender-bender, as were some of her male co-stars.

This movie also reminds us that Disney's comic relief characters are always more ethnic in appearance, like Mulan's grandmother.  She speaks broken English and her eyes barely open, while the lead characters are very American-ized.

You see this in Aladdin as well.  The villains-- Jafar and his guards-- have darker skin and telling features, where Aladdin ("Al") and Jasmine could pass for White.  They speak like American teenagers while the merchant who sings the offensive song ("where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face, it's barbaric, but hey-- it's home") in the opening has a very thick accent. 

Jasmine's outfit is also hyper-sexualized.  She happens to look as though she belongs in an Arabian harem-- like the one depicted in Prince Ali Ababwa's parade

However, she's no slutty Gypsy like that "disgusting" Esmerelda, who was definitely NOT a princess.

So in the last consideration of Disney Princesses, I leave with you Renee Martin's final thoughts:
"The Disney princess series is absolutely problematic in the harmful messages that it sends young girls, but I venture to say that its treatment of race compounds the dissonance of worth and value that little Black girls live with everyday.  I believe as women, we would all be better off if the genre simply disappeared, but if they must continue, framing them in a manner that specifically harms girls of color by celebrating Whiteness as the ultimate example of femininity must end."
As Disney's retirement from fairy tales prompted this lengthy consideration of its princesses that took up the part of a week, it seems Martin got her wish.  Indeed, as of November, the genre has simply disappeared.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The End of a (Princess) Era

Originally published in the BG News on Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Photo courtesy of Dryad & Sprite Photography under Creative Commons 3.0

Disney announced, just after the release of Tangled, it will no longer be producing fairy tales.  Translation—no more princesses.  And there are mixed feelings, even in the feminist community.
At first, there was a celebration.  Thank goodness!  No more animated representations of docile women.  No more hidden messages about traditional gender roles and hetero-normative marriage.  No more privileging whiteness or depicting women of color with white features.  No more emphasizing women’s appearances as their greatest accomplishments.   No more false idols for little girls to imitate. 
But with the false idols gone, realists wondered, would little girls have any idols at all?
Many were critical when Disney opted to call their take on Rapunzel "Tangled" and narrate the movie with a male lead who seemed to over-shadow the last princess.  However, Rapunzel’s character is more pro-active than the princesses of the past.  Yet she is remains reliant on her co-star for a rescue and a happy ending.
The final call?  Disney was still using their tried and true princess formula and the wide-eyed damsel was very much in distress.   
So let’s rejoice at the end of an era; the princess era.  Thank goodness!  No more royally-endorsed merchandise bearing the blank faces of pure evil in a sparkly, pink, hydra-like formation.  Indeed, if Belle were cut off, Jasmine and Ariel would undoubtedly grow back in her place.
For that, you can blame Mary Beech, the Vice President and General Manager of Global Studio Franchise Development for Disney Consumer Products.  It was her suggestion that the princesses should join forces—their oh-so-marketable forces.  Launched in 1999, the Disney Princess Franchise grew from a 300 million dollar industry to 3 billion dollars in 2006.  Partnered with over 200 companies, Disney capitalizes on every 2 to 5-year-old’s fantasy with universal brand awareness. 
For instance, one could very possibly wear princess pajamas and eat princess cereal while watching a princess DVD surrounded by princess dolls and accessories.  I’ve seen it happen.
If you were to wander through a toy store (which I don’t advise this time of year) you would find these women huddled together, giving Barbie a run for her money-- never mind that several of them came from different continents.  They’re totally friends and apparently they hang out all the time. 
You would also see that costumes aren’t just for Halloween anymore.  What’s wrong with little girls playing dress-up?  Well, when it comes to these princesses, they’re putting on a lot more than glass slippers and satin gloves.  They’re trying out a persona, while adopting the qualities of a flawed role model. 
Princess training, offered at the NYC World of Disney Store (now closed) emphasized teamwork, table manners, truthfulness, courtesy, compassion, curtseys and kindness.  These lessons are repeated in books, movies, music, and every product the princesses endorse.  Sounds harmless, but students are learning much more than tea party etiquette.   
Princesses are passive and obedient, not to mention dependent on others.  Even in their own lives, they’re just along for the ride.  Whether it’s a trip on a magic carpet through a whole new world or re-locating to a castle far, far away, it’s always on someone else’s terms.  They follow men on their adventures.  Without a love interest, their stories would be pretty stagnant. 
Impressionable audiences are absorbing that romantic relationships are the most important thing and love will steer one’s destiny.  Even Mulan was a warrior, but her life was not complete without a husband—her family’s biggest concern
Princesses are kind—to a fault.  In fact, a common theme is how easily these women are manipulated.  They’re pleasant, agreeable, and often taken advantage of, but never rude.  Would it be so bad to tell little girls to “think critically” rather than “follow your heart” when they have tough decisions to make?
And Princesses are always doing domestic tasks.  Even Rapunzel, who lives alone in a tower, spends every morning cleaning.  Cinderella was stuck in servitude, but sang while she scrubbed.  Snow White cleaned up after seven men she hardly knew.  Even Tiana—the only princess allowed to have a goal—worked all day and night because she wanted her own restaurant where she could wait on other people for the rest of her life.
Lastly, princesses emphasize physical appearances.  They are described in terms of their beauty and nothing else.  The fairest one of all, with the smallest feet or the longest hair makes them attractive and desirable.  Because they are pretty, good things eventually happen to them.  All they have to do is wait.
Only time will tell if the “no fairy tales” policy will leave us with a shortage of cartoon women.  The next Disney/Pixar adventure appears to be about a little boy who goes to Mars in search of his mom.  We’ll see if they send a little girl to Venus, or anywhere for that matter.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tangled: What Should Have Happened

Behold!  Disney's last princess movie--



And for their grande finale, Disney obviously didn't try anything new.

Following the usual  formula proves the media giant didn't think the well-marketed princess empire was broke.  And they certainly weren't intending to fix it.  The last installment was just more of the same before they bid fairy tales and leading ladies adieu for good.

But what are the structures that upheld the likes of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana and lastly, Rapunzel?

First, a princess is, or will eventually become, royalty.  If she was born that way, she is usually estranged from her kingdom.  If she is common, her exceptional beauty already sets her apart.  Men want her.  Women want to be her.  Yet she is oblivious; doing domestic tasks, singing and dreaming of true love. 

Second, she is missing one parent, if not both.  As a result, her life has been strictly controlled by other people or forces.  She has little to no autonomy.  And the story usually begins as she is entering puberty; feeling adventurous and looking for love.

Third, something evil is standing between her and her destiny.  Most times it's an older, jealous woman.  Sometimes it's an effeminate sorcerer.  And other times its Mr. Wrong.  But 90 percent of the time it's a witch who has poisoned, cursed or trapped the princess.

Fourth, her life is incomplete, if not over, without Prince Charming-- or in this case, Flynn Ryder.  Whether he saves her from poverty, boredom, or real danger, princesses must be saved.

Fifth, the happy ending revolves around a wedding.  There can be no closure without an engagement, at least.  And this must happen before the princess turns 18.  Otherwise, she will become eligible for evil witch status.

How does all this shake out in Tangled?

Rapunzel was born to a king and queen.  But she was stolen as a baby (by an evil witch) and held prisoner in a tower.  Her birthday is quickly approaching and she wants to see the world, but her kidnapper-mother has a vested interest in keeping Rapunzel locked up.  This older, jealous woman is using the power of her so-called daughter's long, magical hair like weekly botox injections.

Mother Gothel uses scare tactics to keep Rapunzel mentally, as well as physically, trapped.  Our princess only finds the courage to leave when she meets a man to act as her guide to the outside.  And (spoiler alert) after she makes her way back to her kingdom-- they get married.

Sigh.

I mean,  I knew better, but I was really hoping (especially since it was the last one) that Disney would try something different, letting this caged bird fly free.  And solo.

So now, for your enjoyment, I will re-craft the ending of this movie with a little something I'd like to call "What Should Have Happened." 

But first, I'll have to set the scene:

[After a some trickery, Mother Gothel has led Rapunzel back to her tower, but her prince has found her.  He is injured in a dramatic struggle and Rapunzel swears to go peacefully with her captor if she will just let her heal her true love, with her magical golden hair, of course.  As she kneels over him, he reaches up and cuts her flowing locks with a shard of glass.  It instantly turns brown (Yuck!) and is ironically styled like a vision of Mandy Moore's past.  She is less attractive, but she is free.]

And this is what should have happened:

With her powers gone, the prince dies.  Realizing he gave her the greatest gift he could, Rapunzel is empowered to stand up to her "mother" once and for all.  But before she leaves, Rapunzel gives a little speech about the media's standards of beauty and how she pities the woman who has pretended to be her mother in a desperate attempt to reverse the natural process of aging in order to gain societal acceptance.

As she descends the tower, she bypasses the kingdom of her past and heads straight to college where she meets other spunky, short-haired girls who want to know the ways of the world.  They're especially interested in science and math, spending several hours studying while they get to know each other, and themselves. 

Rapunzel meets a nice boy in one of her classes.  They have different majors, but they are interested in the same things.  They start dating and decide to move in together.  But they remain focused on their individual futures, knowing that grad school and their careers may pull them in different directions.  And they're okay with that.  As the story draws to a close, they're living happily and taking it one day at a time.  The end.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Get Your Roll On

Check out these exclusive interviews with Audrey Autopsy, Lizard the Ho Slayer, Shirley Tempest, Ripper in Two and Curb Check from the Sandusky Rollergirls, remixed with extreme footage from their very first inter-league bout. 

Warning-- exposure to roller derby may inspire viewers to join roller derby.



The Sandusky Rollergirls were created last April.  A call for skaters was eagerly answered and well supported throughout the community.  By fall, these lethal ladies were ready to show their city what they could do.

Their first inter-league bout was held in September. The Black Widows lined up alongside the Yellow Jackets, with overwhelming attendance and a final score of 171 to 124.  Candy Wrapper and Audrey Autopsy from the Black Widow's earned several of their team's winning points as the bout's leading jammers.

Who jammed what where?  When teams play each other, it's called a bout.  And stay with me, because what seems like a complicated free-for-all is actually very organized and easy to follow once you learn the rules.

As a Roller derby expert, I would explain the game like this-- the whistle blows and a pack of girls takes off, like a human barricade on wheels.  A second whistle blows and two more girls join in.  These are the "jammers" and there is one for each team.  Their goal is to break through the others and make their way around the circle, earning points with every lap.

And the goal of "the others" is to keep those jammers from getting past them.  By any means necessary.

Roller derby has seen a massive revival since the release of the movie Whip It.  Leagues are sprouting up across the nation, renewing interest in quads and roller rinks, not to mention good-old-fashioned fun.

"It's a stress reliever," said Audrey Mitchell, better known as Audrey Autopsy.  "And gives me something to do.  I've met so many people, and I have something recreational that I look forward to-- and it keeps me in shape."

They've barely gotten started and the skaters are already giving back, proving these scary chicks have a soft side.  Get ready to meet the teams because the Sandusky Rollergirls will be hosting a Toys for Tots benefit at their home, the Ghostly Manor, this Saturday. 

The halls will be decked for the holidays, with Christmas lights and 3-D Winter Wonderland.  Admission is free with a wrapped gift.  And the girls will be providing instructionals as well as baked goods-- because nothing goes better with a hip-check than a cookie.

The league has also made a major transition, requiring a re-introduction.  Since their debut, the Black Widows and the Yellow Jackets have traded their original colors for red and pink, becoming the Hellcats and the Heartbreakers.  The new teams will face off on February 12, 2011 for their next inter-league bout; the Valentine's Day Massacre.

A call for fresh meat will follow in  April as the Sandusky Rollergirls prepare to take on Toledo's Glass City Rollers in May.  So if you've got the guts, be sure to try out.  They're practicing twice a week.  But don't be fooled-- what seems like a commitment is actually an addiction. 

Is it rough, tough and dangerous?  Absolutely.  But behind those mouth guards, they're smiling-- because roller derby is a lot of things; mostly fun.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fridays Five Feminist Friends

1)  BUST tells us everything we already knew about Bridalplasty.

2)  RH Reality Check wonders whether the ring means a thing.

3)  Feministing shares "Miss TSA Calendar" and bares all.

4)  Jezebel questions study that proves "slut" gene in DNA.

5)  Ms. discusses Hanukkah and the National Council of Jewish Women.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Abstinence Education

Your tax dollars at work.



And years from now, when an entire generation likes to get spit on, we'll wonder where this fetish came from...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day

Originally published in the BG News on Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Sully Pixel under Creative Commons 3.0

As the seasons change, so do the colors of awareness.  And most socially conscious individuals own a rainbow arrangement of tiny ribbons. 

Breast cancer’s popular pinks and the meaningful purples of domestic violence transition to a deep crimson red as AIDS captures our attention in the month of December.  This past year, the United Nations found 2.6 million people contracted HIV and 1.8 million died from AIDS. 

Welcome to World AIDS Day 2010 and the realities of this incurable disease.
Today, more than 33 million people are living with HIV.  Many of them are children.  And while we have seen a significant decrease in the rate of infection, this epidemic is far from over. 
In a highly publicized effort to combat misinformation and overcome stigmatization, the World AIDS Campaign (WAC) has been raising money, increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education for more than a decade.  They also reserve one day on the calendar to remember everyone affected by HIV and AIDS. 

Each December, reports are reviewed and goals are refocused to implement a more effective plan to keep people healthy across the globe.  The theme of this World AIDS Day is “Universal Access and Human Rights.” 

Miscommunication and financial need keep 50 percent of individuals living with HIV from receiving medical treatment in developing countries.  Women at risk for sexual violence are also at greater risk for AIDS.  And marginalized people, like sex workers, IV drug users and transgender persons are more likely to contract HIV when they are denied resources that could help keep them safe.  And, as implied by this year’s theme, every human should be able to protect themselves because they have a right to wellness.
But what would a campaign be without celebrity endorsement?  Salon reported mega-stars like Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga will not tweet until one million dollars is raised for families affected by AIDS in Africa.  Usher, Serena Williams, and others will also do their part, keeping the social networks in suspense for the “Keep A Child Alive” charity, co-founded by songstress Alicia Keys.  Kim Kardashian has gone so far as to pose in a coffin, signifying her digital death.  And only your donations can bring her back to life.
But the situation is far more serious than “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” 

Award-winning filmmaker (and Huff-Po blogger) Michealene Cristini Risley directed the documentary “Tapestries of Hope,” a must-see film, now available on DVD.  The fearless director travels across the world to tell the story of Betty Makoni and her Girl Child Network (GCN) which stands defiantly  in the midst of AIDS and the dire situation in Zimbabwe. 
Here, reality is almost unbelievable.  Natural healers (the country’s more trusted and affordable medical advisors) have been telling their patients that virgin blood will cure AIDS, unleashing a culture of rape that also guarantees death for many young girls.  Makoni, the director of GCN, has created a safe space with more victims than beds, while tirelessly begging these “doctors” to end their frightening prescription. 
While uncovering this tragedy, Risley was arrested and deported.  Her project was almost abandoned after it was seized by the authorities.  But Risley, moved by what she saw, hasn’t stopped trying to rally support for this very worthy cause.
So what can we do?  Lots.

Start by wearing the red ribbon, which is almost unrecognizable, compared to the others.  Let’s make sure no one ever asks “what’s the red one for?” ever again.  And whether you care about the digital lives or celebrities or not, donate money to organizations like “Keep A Child Alive” or the “Tapestries of Hope” fund.
I also recommend AVERT. 

Based in England, this non-profit is a leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS.  Their community program builds partnerships with local organizations committed to ending the spread of disease and caring for those already infected.  They’re also working tirelessly to provide comprehensive education about prevention, as well as advocating for the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS.  With a global focus, and impact, they do good work.
Now is a prime time to get involved. 

The U.S. recently reinvented itself as a key player in the fight against AIDS-- but very ironically.  As soon as Obama lifted the global gag rule, expanding the types of health facilities that could use funds from the United States, a report from the Health Department of Washington D.C. revealed the city had more cases of HIV infections than West Africa. 

Obviously, we are just as susceptible as the rest of the world.  AIDS is yet another issue with an external agenda that needs to be turned inward.
This World AIDS Day also marks the first year the Catholic Church has taken a more scientific approach to understanding the spread of disease. 

In the past, the Pope had spoken out against condoms, accusing them of “increasing” AIDS across the world.  But just last week, the Pope finally voiced his support for condoms—at least for male prostitutes.  And in exchange for erroneous statements like “condoms don’t work,” that’ll do.  At least for now.
We’ve made great strides in the past 12 years, expanding a day of remembrance into 365 days of awareness.  For once, both the President and the Pope have AIDS on their radars and they’re doing something about it.  Even Kim Kardashian is doing something about it.  So why don’t you?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This Chick Rocks: Willow

Is your neck sore?  Then you've probably been whipping your hair back and forth with me and itty-bitty singing sensation Willow.



This feel good anthem has taken over air waves and dance floors, as well as my internal soundtrack.  But I'm not complaining.

Willow Smith, daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, is only 10-years-old, a little saucey, and quite frankly-- adorable.

She turns her swag on, tunes haters out, and keeps the party jumping.  She shines, shakes 'em off, and whips it real hard.

In a greedy sampling of popular lyrics, Willow has conjured up a familiar recipe for instant success.  But it's undeniably catchy; replicated by drag queens and danced out by birds, inspiring a remix with Nicki Minaj and a YouTube juxtaposition with Sesame Street's "I love my hair" video.

While Willow may not have set out to make a statement about the politics of hair, that's exactly what her debut single is doing.

In a reality check discussion with a trusted collegue, we decided the budding star simply chose her safest asset to highlight while asserting her femininity.  Considering who she is (famous) and where she comes from (Hollywood) not to mention what is age appropriate (and what is not) it seems Willow and her consultants (parents) chose neutral territory that just happened to be more empowering than the average song. 

But the symbolism of Willow's braids bringing color to a bland and sterile lunch room is still remarkable, even if it's debatably intentional.  With paint cleverly concealed in her stereo, she whips her co-stars (and her hair) into a frenzy.  And starts a classroom-dance-party-revolution.

Demonstrating dynamic beauty, Willow rocks a variety of styles, sure to set new trends for young girls' tresses.  She invites "the ladies" (from babies to full grown) to whip their hair along with her; be it long, short, whatever.  Her defiant words are a celebration of self-- that doesn't take itself too seriously.

So my new favorite song is inclusive and infectious.  Whether strategic or coincidental, deep or simplistic, I hope to hear more positive messages from Willow in the future. 

And maybe her next song will give our necks a rest.

But in the mean time, just whip your hair.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Burlesque

In the final number of this fantabulous film, Christina Aguilera asks the audience to "Get your ass up, show me how you burleque."

Because she doesn't know how.  Obviously.



Burlesque was my Thanksgiving-holiday-movie of choice.

And even with fair warning from Feministing asking "Where's the Burlesque in Burlesque?" last week, I decided to witness all the inaccuracies for myself.

As it turns out, their initial complaint was more than valid.

When I think burlesque, I think Dita Von Teese; international performer extraordinaire.  And correct me if I'm wrong, but I always understood her art to be the art of seduction.  Which usually means the slow, strategic removal of clothing.

While the women of Burlesque danced in skimpy costumes inspired by the era of burlesque, they removed nothing.  And they certainly didn't dip in any over-sized glasses of champagne.

Aguilera did pull out a set of feathers reminiscent of the real deal, but it was barely enough to compensate for the rest of the non-traditional numbers.

True burlesque resides in the realm of comedy, reactionary to stuffy Victorian mores.  Sexual innuendo and cheap shots accompanied song, dance, and gratuitous nudity.  These theater parodies re-shaped entertainment, jumping at the opportunity to make a play on words-- or anything else, for that matter.

Fast forward to this Burlesque, which is neither smart nor funny.  "The best view of the sunset strip without any windows," is the tag line of the club and the cleverest double entendre throughout the film.  Except for the doorman's ethnically insensitive "pole" joke.

But the movie never made any promises to be historically factual.  In fact, we should have no expectations, except that Cher and Aguilera will share the stage-- they will sing, and we will be entertained. 

Set in Los Angeles in the 21st century, the acts at this club mostly consisted of lip-synching and modern-ish dancing.  Until Ali (Aguilera) showed up with a show-stopping song in the midst of a stopped show; the climax of the movie and it's titillating trailers. 

As Goddessjaz over at Feministing points out, Burlesque exists somewhere in theatrical purgatory-- it's certainly not Chicago, but it's not quite Showgirls.  Actually, it's more like a West Coast Coyote Ugly whose drama exists solely to string each number together in a semi-coherent musical. 

Christina Aguilera is Ali, the waitress from Iowa who quits her job and sings a celebratory song the moment the movie opens.  She buys a one-way-ticket to LA, checks into a hotel, and wanders the streets all day looking for a job, until she feels the neon heat radiating from Burlesque's sign.

If you stopped for popcorn, you might have missed this 10 minute introductory interlude.  And once seated, hold on tight.  The plot continues to move quickly as it follows the full transition of it's very dynamic lead character. 

So Ali picks up a tray and starts cocktailing, keeping the money she earns in the back of her toilet.

This is a common mistake small town girls make when they move to big cities.  In Coyote Ugly, Violet stashed her cash in the freezer instead of putting it in the bank like the rest of those New York city slickers.  And then she was robbed.

So one day, Ali comes home and finds that she has been robbed, forcing her to move in with her cute-bartender-love-interest.  But he's engaged, which means the sexual tension will reach unbearable levels before a post-wedding reception hook-up sends their roommate relationship spiraling into shared bedroom territory.

Meanwhile, back at the club, Ali gets her chance to audition when another dancer gets knocked up.  But her rival (Kristin Bell) gets jealous and tries to sabotage the number by cutting the music.  Ali's quick thinking saves the day when she decides to sing-- much like Violet stopping a bar brawl by singing along with the juke box in Coyote Ugly.

Tess (Cher) the club-owner is so impressed, she and her sassy gay friend decide to build an entire show around Ali and her newfound talents-- complete with a short, blonde wig.

Does Kristin Bell convince us she's an evil brunette?  Does Cher serve as timeless matriarch?  Yes and yes.  Is there even an ounce of feminism in this film?  Not really.  Is it my new guilty pleasure?  I believe so.

The fast-moving storyline is so predictable it's almost insulting.  And the glitz and glamor will overload your senses while the un-witty bantor will make your brain hurt.

A cheesy Cinderella tale with a happy ending, it might make you throw up a little bit in your mouth.  But the sets, costumes, quivers and shimmies will have your jaw descending to the floor-- if you're into that sort of thing.  So let's not forget; while a few of Burlesque's stars are "triple threats," we bought the ticket to hear them sing-- and their melodies do not disappoint.

Besides, when you own it on DVD you can always hide it in another case.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday's Five Feminist Friends

1) Women's Rights Blog discovers Walgreen's refusing to sell E.C. to men.

2) Feministing wonders "Where's the Burlesque in Burlesque?"

3) Women and Hollywood swears Disney has sworn of princesses.

4) Ms. remembers the migrant hands that feed us on Thanksgiving.

5) The F-Word warns about Anti-Feminism in Switzerland.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thoughts of Thanksgiving

Here's to dysfunctional families, unwinnable arguments, and disastrous dinners everywhere.



And here's to tomorrow...



Season's Eatings and Happy Holidays from Slutty Feminist!