Sunday, December 22, 2013

On Kate Middleton

By Anči
Since bringing up Kate Middleton in my post on weddings I’ve wanted to further unpack the duchess's role as Global ambassador to upper class white women:

Because let’s face is: Kate Middleton is more than just a princess or a celebrity--  she’s also the living manifestation of flawless womanhood. (A position only recently dominated by Santa Angelina Jolie.)  

Look at her. The woman literally has no bad angles.

Like Jolie, Kate has bravely accepted the mantle of envied, unattainable perfection;  and in doing so, has invoked an age-old contract with the people : Essentially this covenant grants Her Highness unchallenged status and admiration, in exchange for her unwavering commitment to maintaining a glamorous facade, fit for public consumption. 
True to her pact, our Kate has managed to do this in a number of ways--Most notably, by never ever appearing in public without her trademark, professionally blown-out hair.  (an unrealistic and impractical demand for us common folk, who regularly go to sleep with a wet ponytail, and a nasal strip.) She also projects the consistently classy,  confident image required of any inaugurated Alpha Female.  And just like her flawless foremothers  Kate is a star, of the rare variety, able to  effortlessly produce a credible (and winsome!) smile on demand.  And  In a typically mystical fashion, she has never been seen with a frown on her face, or other such unacceptably humanizing expression. Add to that a sexy royal pregnancy, and you've got superwoman.

I was too lazy to spend time looking for a brunette version.

Speaking of her pregnancy, you might recall that during that gestating time, Kate's image was  frequently  positioned next to her equally-knocked-up celeb-peer,  Kim Kardashian. (Unlike perfect Kate, Kim proved woefully incapable of cultivating a concave baby bump-- a defect for which the reality star was thoroughly shamed.)
Kate on the other hand, only reinforced her place as the mythical shepherd of unattainably slender motherhood—by consistently "outperforming" her supposed "celeb-rivals" in the media-manufactured baby-weight battle of the ages: Check it out:

 Since entering the spotlight, Kate Middleton has been primarily lauded for her looks :  the ideal girl with  shiny hair, a tight body, and glamorous wardrobe. More importantly, She's  the woman who captured the heart of the future King of England--  a supposedly impressive feat (?) reserved only for the most Angelina-like of dames. Surely then, it was acceptable to expect unmatched perfection from her. Anything less would be insulting, right?

No one can look this cute all the time!

Wait no. Apparently they can.

I want to hate her but,...she's just too adorable!

Despite fairing so well initially,  as  ambassador of white womanhood, and Chief Guardian of the Eternal Feminine Mystery. (Which, I hear is preserved inside a golden tampon, inserted by Queen Elizabeth herself,) some cracks have started to appear, on Kate's royal semblance.
The most recent glitches in her cylon veneer, literally sprouted out of her head, (in the form of unsightly grey hairs)  rendering the princess, alarmingly and visibly human. Check it out:

the face of decay

As expected, the people did not take kindly to the Royal acquisition of silvere: with  criticism escalating to widespread outrage. (I'm not exaggerating. Google it.)

 The chief objection from the hair-police,  seemed to lie in Middleton's refusal to acquiesce to the terms of the aforementioned Unattainable-Perfection-Pact. With the the majority of commentators expressing some of version of "Isn't it her job to impress us all the time? How she dare step out in public looking like that, bollocks wanker Dumbledore?" (I failed British 101)
Along with complaints about her hair, there were also a surge of ageist potshots directed at her "sagging" "baggy" skin, and under-eye circles.

It was the  familiar, brutal  takedown of a famous beauty's appearance, and it wasn't surprising.
 Any woman who teases perfection, is eventually punished, when she fails to follow through. And no one ever "follows through" because even beauties are people, and nobody's perfect.

 This is not to suggest that Kate has fallen from grace-- she still commands the attention and envy of billions of people,  but like any woman in power, she'll also continue experiencing a backlash of body shaming, and contempt rarely directed at men in similar positions.


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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Law firm instructs women to act like men

by Anči

According to this article, a New York legal firm  has begun circulating a memo to its female employs about how to behave appropriately. (so you know it's not gonna be offensive at all.)

Okay, maybe i've spent too much time watching Mad Men, but between male and female professionals, which group do you think is more in need of a memo about appropriateness?

honk honk

You'd think that if a company was going to invest time coaching its workers in etiquette, it wouldn't  be for the sole "benefit" of  women.. (Because clearly we are the problem.) And you'd also think, such an "educational" campaign might make some mention of workplace harassment, or at the very least, include a plea to its employees about not stealing yogurts from the communal fridge. (The senior partners need their Activia.)

But no, the only message here was: ladies, stop acting feminine. 

 According to Bust article: "Women are advised to wear heals and not rock back on them, to lower the podium to make themselves appear taller... Women should also curb their high voices: “Say ‘uh-huh’ and match that pitch to see how low you can go [...] Your voice is higher than you hear."

 Get that? We should all fight our biology, because it's no good. The fact that women are generally shorter than men, and have higher voices is a flaw that needs to be remedied. (How height and vocal register get in the way of practicing law, is beyond me.)

 Other ridiculous "suggestions" include "Don’t dress like a mortician: if wearing a black suit, wear something bright" (Gee, wonder if the men are also being expected to jazz up their suits with pink ruffles.)

"Lose the quirky mannerisms that are so charming to those who do know you." (Because only women's mannerisms are "quirky," while men's mannerisms are known as "regular old body language")

AND most offensively, the helpful hint to "think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe." (Because no instruction booklet would be complete, without some reference to the "virgin/whore" dichotomy. It's one or the other, got that ladies?)

I understand there is a need for consistency and dignity in the workforce, but this memo seems to suggest that men are inherently dignified, while women (who are naturally children) need to curb themselves in order to be taken seriously.


Friday, December 13, 2013

The time I engaged with a pickup-artist

By Anči

The moment I became flustered, I knew my rejection wouldn't take.  Not that it was my responsibility to project earnestness, when a verbal 'no thank you' should have sufficed.
But something in his expression had alerted me of a cynical tendency to disregard protests like mine.

It's the curse of every anxious woman, whose shaky refusals are rarely afforded the respect they deserve. It's not enough to say no, we also must be convincing- a challenge I am rarely up to.

The fact is, getting approached by strange men makes me nervous--  the last time I turned down a pleasant-looking fellow, he had snapped "you're not even good-looking. You look totally country."
At the time, I had played it cool; swinging my hips as I marched away.  But the encounter had  left me feeling shaken.
Was I going to be insulted every time I refused to indulge some lonely bro's ego?
 I've also been called a slut once, for refusing to engage a leering creep, while sunning myself in a bikini. (How dare I expose my skin, and not expect harassment? ) But the most predictable (and painful) backlash in these types of situations is the classic crack about my stutter.

 This was one one of those times:
"Calm down, you're stuttering a lot," (Really, calm down?  I've had a stutter since I was four year's old, pal.)

I knew I was being negged, and the realization annoyed me, almost as much as it intrigued me.
 No, not like that. Give me some credit: I'm a 26 year old feminist with an aversion to both cologne and bullshit. (in other words, don't waste your time trying.)
  But I've also experienced my share of humiliation at the hands of a man eager to exploit my insecurity and inexperience.
And for some reason I  saw this exchange as my chance to flip the script.

When I was 19, I started dating a 25 year old. 
 A few weeks into our courtship, I agreed to come up to his room. And as we began kissing that night, I started making it clear that things wouldn't progress any further.
 It was only when my rebuffs grew insistent, that he gloomily began winding things down.  Naturally I had been annoyed by his forceful attempts at persuasion, but at the same time, I was a teenage girl who badly wanted the approval, of an 'older man.' So instead of getting up to leave or launching into a speech about consent,  I offered up a weak smile.
He half-heartedly began to caress my shoulder. 
 "What's up?" I asked.  
 "Nothing. Although... I thought you said you liked to work out." 
"I do workout."
"It's kinda hard to tell," he answered, looking me over slowly;  and then I knew I was  being punished for my frigidity.

What I didn't realize, was that that remark would herald the beginning of a culturally indentured servitude to every scorned suitor with the emotional intelligence of a child. 
It was the start of negging seasons.

Now at 26,  I stirred my cappuccino, and observed my new acquaintance; making note of his increasingly aggressive (and ridiculous) posturing: chest out; fingers suggestively encircling the loops of his belt.  And as I stared back icily, I thought "I'm gonna take this negging motherfucker down."

 According to a forum for pick up artists (which I am not going to link to): "A neg can be many things as long as it accomplishes the purpose of diminishing the target’s value in a manner that flies under her radar. A neg should always come off in a way that makes it look accidental or unintentional....You can take anything that is less than stellar about her and draw attention to it while pretending to be charmed in a friendly way. Eventually you will be able to instantly spot things about a woman that can be turned into negs and poked at in front of her friends."
 (Notice here, that women are "targets" not people.)

Luckily for me, I come equipped with an easily-exploited "shortcoming" of my own. My stutter-- and what better way to rattle me, than by drawing unwanted attention to it. (zero points for creativity, though.)

A stutter is a tricky thing to navigate. For one thing it  exists in a grey area of social consciousness, oscillating between a quirk and a handicap. And unlike commensurate quips about a commonly recognized disability, (such as deafness)  digs at my speech aren't necessarily read as cruel.  In fact it's simple to toss in an offhand reference to my disfluency, while keeping the conversation light. (The expectation of course, being that in an attempt to appear laid back, I will laugh along with my bully--- thereby relinquishing the mythical 'upper hand,' along with the rest of my dignity. )

"are you always this shy?" The man continued excitedly.
 Here was my chance. I breathed in through my nose, like my speech therapist had shown me, enunciating every syllable clearly:   "Actually, I'm surprised that you brought up my stutter. I thought that was something only the mean kids did."
I didn't have to wait long for the words to register. In the second it took me to look up, he had become flustered, and remorseful, swearing he hadn't meant any offense. (and unwisely adding that he found my stutter "cute.")
I maintained a neutral expression, visibly unmoved by his efforts... as his approach shifted back to nervous 'charm.'
The resulting impression was that of  a formerly cocky "playa"committed to a humiliating (and unsolicited) exercise in verbal self-flagellation. (As evidenced by his readiness to brand himself as "an asshole", about twenty times in succession.)  He paused his ramblings once or twice to breathe, and then again, to work in a  bizarre request for my number. (really?)  As I sat back and watched him squirm, I felt satisfied.  I'd also had enough of this pitiful performance.
Declining his last appeal, I stood up to leave-- nodding once, goodbye.

Turns out that while it's  easy, (and cowardly) to confuse a teenage girl, It's harder to face a woman who's called you on your bullshit.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

On Self-Pleasure and Scottish Royalty

By Anči

Anyone close to me knows that I am a sucker for two things: geeky men of color and soapy period dramas.
Regarding the former, (which I'm hoping means "the first thing I said") I have no complaints. (hi honey!)  But regarding the latter, I've always felt there was something missing.

That is until I discovered CW's "historical" drama (a series called "Reign")  about Mary Queen of Scots.
Now I use the term "historical" loosely, since the show is technically about a non-existent love triangle between Queen Mary, Prince Frances and his made-up brother Bash. (it figures the only hot dude would be the figment of a hungry writer's imagination.)

check out those fashion-forward 16th century lovebirds.

Then there's the small matter that Queen Mary looked more like this:
hubba hubba
and less like this:

pretty sure the real Queen of Scots would have been executed for wearing this outfit. Oh wait*

But whatever, it's TV right? And this post isn't meant to be a review of the show (which by the way, gets 10 stars!!!!)

 The reason I wanted to bring the show up, (other then to plug it. Cause it needs to stick around for six seasons and a movie,*)  is because of an alleged controversy regarding a hastily censored moment in the first episode
 Turns out the offending shot was of a lady in waiting getting sexual pleasure in some other way than the traditional penis-in-her-vagina method.
 Yes that's right, Miss abigail was fondling her own garden.**

The scene was then recut to simply suggest that the renaissance babe had started lowering her hand... just as the King of France appears and romantically creepily offers to "help her out." (Hey, that's how my grandparents met too!)

because it's somehow less upsetting to see a middle aged man hijack a young woman's solo-session, than it is to see the same woman happily finger-banging herself in peace.

Everytime you wank it, a monarch loses his wings.

This isn't the first or last time a film or TV show has refused to air dramatizations of women getting off without the aid of a penile implant.
In fact, it just happened recently to actress Evan Rachel Wood in her upcoming movie Charlie Countryman:

Says the article: "According to Wood, the Motion Picture Association of America  forced [the] director to cut images of Shia le Beouf's character performing oral sex on Wood's character in order to secure an R-rating opposed to an NC-17 rating, which can tank the commercial viability of a film."

Really? Simulated cunnilingus is too graphic for Hollywood?

Now think about the number times you've seen a woman kneeling in front a guy in an R-rated movie. Then think of all the times you've seen a guy on top, or behind of, a woman in an R-rated movie. Then remember all the  times you've seen a male character sexually assault or rape a female character in an R-rated movie.  So ...why exactly does the harmless image of a dude performing oral sex on a woman automatically render a film NC-17?

I'll tell you why. Because in that case, it's the woman who's on the receiving end of pleasure. AND she's also getting it without the assistance of man-meat.. Which no doubt freaks a lot of male studio execs out. (sorry guys, your dongs aren't that special. and penis-envy isn't real!)


* Spoiler alert: she really did get executed.

*copywrite dan harmon

** I know the character's name is  Kenna. 'Abigail' can also means lady in waiting. (Shows how many bodice-rippers you've read, Myrtle.)

Friday, December 6, 2013

On plus-size models

By Anči

 I've always been a bit ambivalent about Plus-size models. And after years of going back and forth on the issue, I still can't decide whether or not they represent positive change in the fashion industry, or just more of the same. 

For a comparison check out the following images side-by-side. The first is of plus size model Ashley Graham, the second is of runway sensation Adriana Lima.

Are you as overwhelmed as I am?

To be clear, I am absolutely in favor of a more diverse, and realistic representation of women in the media. I love seeing thick bodies, and curvy bodies being celebrated. But i'm not convinced that's the primary function of plus-size marketing.
To be fair, it does create a space for "bigger" women to be appreciated-- but only if they happen to line up with classically feminine proportions --which still favor a conventional body type.  Not to mention, most of the "bigger" models aren't actually big at all.

According to Huffington Post, Elle Spain recently featured its first plus size cover girl, which is something we've all wanted to see for a long time. But looking at the impossibly beautiful model they selected, (a young woman named Tara Lynn)  I'm baffled that the magazine would publicly pat itself on the back for their obvious centerfold selection. The only thing Elle Spain actually did was plug another gorgeous woman on their cover. Big deal. In that context, the model's size felt completely incidental. Almost like an afterthought.
Don't agree size can be incidental?  That's because you've been conditioned to evaluate beauty through a very narrow template. (get it?)

Check out Tara's cover:
and  another picture of her:

Admit it:  if you saw this woman walking down the street, in real life, you wouldn't think "she's good looking for a big girl."  Instead you'd probably think "holy shit, is that woman stunning. She needs to be on the cover of something NOW."

I mean, People don't usually look like that. Sure, some may have full pouty lips, or a high cheekbone. And among the extra blessed you might come across shiny voluminous hair, or smooth silky skin, set off with a pair of piercing eyes. But certainly not all things at once!  The fact is, Tara Lynn is objectively, and conventionally beautiful, so why exactly has her much-deserved presence on the cover of Elle, been reduced to a manifesto about her "plus size" figure?

really pushing barriers here.

I'm not unaware of the need for plus size role models, and frankly I would rather see women like Tara splashed across Billboards, than any of her 'mainstream' counterparts. But lets keep in mind that for the majority of women-- Tara Lynn still represents a look that is unattainable.
For one thing, I doubt too many overweight women of color looked at this spread and thought "Finally! Someone I can relate to." And that's the point.

 As important as it is to promote diversity, we shouldn't pretend  that a conventionally curvy white lady with classically feminine features, and long flowing hair  is somehow "subversive." Elle hasn't thrown this woman a bone: if anything, they were lucky to land her, given the enthusiastic response to her stunning cover. 

So until the plus size industry starts practicing some actual inclusivity, forgive me if i'm not too impressed by their efforts.

What's your take?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

On weddings, and bridal culture

By Anči

I always get irritated at the phrase “every little girl dreams of having the perfect wedding someday.” Not because there’s anything wrong with that, (unless  you inject me with truth serum. In which case I might  say “Yes, Professor Snape, there is something very wrong with that.” And nobody could hold it against me, because… truth serum.)

But in my current serumless, postmenstrual state,  I’d say… fine. It’s a fun fairy tale little girls  are into.  (Courtesy of Barbie, Disney, and something called “David’s Bridal.”)

There's even a "Royal Wedding" doll. Because that's an attainable fantasy for every female child.

 Having the “perfect” wedding has never been my dream though.  It may simply be the fact that  I’ve…systematically stained  every single white item  of clothing I own. (Including all  my bras…  which are mostly, now... the color of   “Forbidden Sensation’s Chocolate body paint.”  Because I like to eat it with toast... Usually while wearing sweatpants and a bra.)

But my gut tells me my aversion to everything  "white wedding," stems from feeling emotionally manipulated by the bridal industry. (Oh and by the way, every kiss does not begin with “Kay.” I would know because my last kiss began with  “Baby, I brushed my teeth for real this time!”) 
 Thanks to  aggressive campaigning on the industry's part,  women feel pressure to "provide" their friends and family with the romantic rites befitting of their social station. And if God forbid,  any cultural expectations aren't met, the woman is made to feel like a failure. (Even Santa Kate Middleton, who was criticized for doing her own makeup, and giving Willy a dry kiss on the balcony.) 
 Regardless of the level of  "offense," whether a bride chooses to walk down the aisle rocking a pregnant belly (like my mom did when she married my dad!), or makes the "bold" decision to keep her own name, (like my mom did when she married my dad!)  or whether  she refuses to starve herself into compulsory daintyess.  (You can't really call it "the happiest day of my life" when your stomach's eating itself, can you?) there are necessary (and gender-specific) social repercussions to contend with.

The point is, the burden of nuptial success is placed squarely on the shoulders of the bride who's simultaneously expected to 1) reassure the public of her symbolic virginity, (I call it the glorious phantom hymen!) and  2) emphasize her 'goodies' just enough, to secure the requisite role of "The most beautiful woman in the room." (Remember, It doesn't count unless somebody's creepy uncle gets his share of wedded eye candy.)

Liz Lemon knows wedding dresses are for eating large quantities of ham

To be clear, although I hate the wedding culture, I don't hate marriage. In fact  I eventually plan on getting married in an official ceremony.  (With cake! That doesn't stain, right?And yes, it will be meaningful and romantic: even while lacking in bridesmaids and wedding toasts, (What am I, a Protestant?)  or a diamond ring proposal, (What am I, a congressman’s niece?) Or a big frilly gown. (What am I Mexican? Actually yes,  and that's racist.)


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Selfies: self love or weepy distress call?

By Anči

The following post is dedicated to those of you (like me) who are self-hating enough to log on to Jezebel for everyday passive comment scrolling,  and mandatory late-night snark consumption.  (You know Jezebel? The "feminist" blog for bored white women?)
If you do read this particular blog, you may recall a recent post sanctimoniously entitled "Selfies Aren't Empowering. They're a Cry for Help." (You might also recall feeling a conflicting combination of emotions-- like "annoyance" and "sexual guilt"-- towards the offending poster: A professional white woman named Erin Ryan.)

Guys. this is what my pain looks like.

I could be really mean for a second, (because I'm good at it.)  and speculate that only a deeply resentful lady, with a toilet-hole-shaped self-esteem, (see? MEAN!) would deign to insult those of us who enjoy uploading our fresh-faced visages to facebook. But I would also be correct.

Why else, would  this Jeze-Bish liken the electronic distribution of duckfaces to "walking up to a stranger, tilting your head downward at a 45-degree angle... pushing your tits together, and screaming "DO YOU THINK I'M PRETTY!" (Although that's  kinda funny. Erin Ryan should go write for Tosh.0 )

More importantly is anyone here actually convinced  Miss Ryan believes that selfie-snappers are a bunch of nip-slipping creepers? Or is she simply acting out because.. i don't know,  she doesn't feel pretty enough to  inundate the internet with  her own photoshopped likeness? (Newsflash: None of us are pretty enough, brah. That's why we use things like "makeup," "flattering angles" and the occasional handful of stolen diuretics to drain the water-weight from our least vital organs. Bye-bye lungs!   Because not even Heidi Klum can pull off a bloated respiratory system.)

To be fair, Miss Ryan does have a point: Uploading hawt pictures of myself is kind of like assaulting strangers with my boobs. (In that angry, unsatisfied wives like to do both.)
And I would know, because one time in preschool I took my shirt off in the middle of recess, and pranced around the swing-set topless...before being apprehended by my very alarmed nursery caretaker. (Don't worry, I managed to show Miss Stephanie who was boss.  When I successfully pooped my snowpants. )

The point is, culturally confused kiddies may be shitty,  but Jeze-blah Erin Ryan is an asshole. And she's also wrong:
 As someone who likes to pose for her own macbook, I know for a fact that selfies are NOT about navigating desperation. And they are certainly not a cry for help. (If anything, they're a cry of " I feel sexy!" )
Turns out I was feeling kinda sexy this morning..

I mean sure, anyone can turn anything into a vehicle for unhealthy behavior... including eating, or sex or.. yes,  picture time.  But let's not pretend that's a necessary or exclusive side effect of selfie culture per se-- Or any other feminine behavior, for that matter.

 And feminine behavior seems to be at the core of this prejudice.  Just consider society's compulsion to label "girly" activities inferior, and laughable. (while traditional masculinity remains at the undisputed center of human dignity.  Hmmm wonder who decided that, Obama?) 

So fuck that. I don't need to butch myself up,  downplay my femininity or even display total self-confidence (which I lack,) in order to assure Erin Ryan that women like me are not desperate and pathetic. Not to mention, there is something seriously phobic about denying feminine performing individuals access to humanizing traits like dignity.

Get it?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Manly yogurt

By Ana CL

I was gonna write a post about rape culture just now, but then I saw an advertisement for manly yogurt and just had to say something

Yes, this is a real product
Not visible on this image, is the official product slogan. "Find your inner abs" (Funny, I don't remember any mention of "inner" abs in my anatomy class. But I may have been distracted by the taped up pubes of my cadaver. RIP unidentified inmate no. 204)

See, unlike Yogurt for women, which apparently is infused with hormonal laughing gas, Powerful yogurt is for strong warriors. Behold!

Dairy: the heterosexual food group.

Now consider these totally spontaneous ads for estro-gurt.

guys, my yogurt just said "boobies"

My yogurt is flavored! So naughty

My boyfriend thinks I'm on the pill!


Monday, November 18, 2013

A feminist viewing of "The Witches of East End"

The Attractive White Women of East End
By Anči

After reviewing American Horror story: Coven,  I decided to check out the other formidable sisterhood on television: Introducing Witches of East End, a deliciously soapy substitute for the 90's witch-drama "Charmed" (and the subject of the second edition of our Women and Horror series. Woohoo!) 

sigh: the original three

Unlike its 90s predecessor, East end doesn't center around three hot sisters---but rather around a hot mother, and her two hot daughters, and their even hotter aunt. (Played by Twin Peaks' Madchen Amick, who at 42, looks like this:)
it's shelly!

For all its 'charmed' trappings, this "Lifetime" series makes for fun, mindless viewing...if you discount some of the blatant sexism: as exemplified by one of the first lines in the pilot, uttered by elder sister Ingrid, to her much hotter younger sister Freya: "You only have one super power, and it's your breasts."   (See? It's funny, 'cause it's NOT true.  Cause... She's a witch. They both are. That's the show!)

The good news is that the series premise is still pretty intriguing.  Like I said, we have three women: mother Joanna and her daughters hot Freya and lame Ingrid who are all witches-- but neither hot Freya nor lame Ingrid know it until their sassy spell casting aunt Wendy comes to town.

Standard stuff right? except there's a twist: It seems the family matriarch Joanna, (last seen blowing John Slattery on Mad Men,)  has been cursed with the 'gift' of "endless motherhood." meaning she's had to birth and bury the same two daughters, Ingrid and Freya for the last few centuries--all the while remaining immortal herself.
Determined not to lose her daughters  to witchcraft again, she decides that this time around she won't teach them about their magical abilities....opting to raise them as muggles, instead.  Hilarity ensues when a fully-grown Freya causes shit to blow up with only her thoughts... prompting the question "Am I magic?"
(Yes Freya, you are! And not just because of your rack!)

" Mommy, how come Freya gets to be the hot sister?"

While the setup's neither revolutionary nor  sophisticated,  I do find Mama Joanna's particular curse to be interesting. Or as the eternal child-bearer puts it: "Do you know how many times I gave birth before they invented the epidural? Or soap?"Yikes!
"If only I had magic powers to make the labor pains stop!"

Oh yeah, and there's also a love triangle, centered around hot Freya.  All you really need to know about that is that the masculine parties are brothers, and that their names are Dash (ugh) and Killian. The rest can be summed up  by the phrase,  "brooding hot people," oh and this picture:
"Which emaciated ken doll do I pick?"

Like every supernatural show on television, Witches employs a number of problematic tropes-- which I am eager to talk about right now:

For one thing, I have to call out the writers, for sticking in a random mystical pregnancy in episode one (really?  You couldn't save that card for season three?) Yes, they literally introduced a character, for the sole purpose of magically knocking her up... and like, nothing else. (Oh and, that character also happens to be black, which historically doesn't bode well for the onscreen gestator. [See: any other SFF show])
While I remain skeptical of the showrunner's intentions here, a part of me is curious to see how this contrived "procreation" of events gets justified in later episodes.  As the brilliant feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian  points out: “It’s common practice for Hollywood writers to have their female characters become pregnant at some point in their TV series. These story lines are almost always built around women who have their ovaries harvested by aliens or serve as human incubators for demon spawn – basically the characters are reduced to their biological functions.”

My uterus is a beacon

We've seen this trend over and over again, from shows like Charmed, to American Horror Story to Angel, to Battlestar Galactica, to Doctor Who and Torchwood. So honestly, i'm not holding out for a twist on the old formula.
(And as of this moment, my money is on a future demon-spawn reveal.)

The second thing I want to scold the writers about, is their blatant use of "dead black guy"
That's right: As expected the first character with actual lines to die, ends up being the only black guy on the entire show.  The kicker? His death was the direct result of Ingrid's passion for him. (who saw that coming?)
And with that,  we're served yet again with a cheap version of the sexist succubus trope. You know, the one that ties female love/sexuality to the demise of an innocent man? 

 And the last thing I want to confront the show about,  is its endless conflation of love with drama. It's clear that as an audience we're supposed to be pulled apart by the Freya-Dash-Killian love triangle.  As per any dysfunctional epic, both brothers are desperately in love with the same woman... which is super romantic. Except for the part where both brothers are also incredible jerks. (Something the show never acknowledges.) For one thing, Freya's fiance, Dash repeatedly hides things from her-- from the fact that he even has a brother, to the fact that he's been engaged before, to his ex-fiance's mysterious suicide. I don't know about you, but if the man I was slated to marry turned out to have a bunch of secrets like that, I'd feel pretty betrayed and manipulated.
But no, hot Freya appears to be little more than annoyed at the string of shocking revelations that accompany her betrothal. Then there's Killian who is blatantly hitting on his brother's soon-to-be wife. Romantic? No.That's like, the ultimate dick-move.   (And the fact that Freya keeps flirting with Killian while engaged to his brother is just... gross.)

Hey girl, don't tell my brother I wanna bone you.

I'm the dumb fiancee who either can't read the chemistry between my bro and my ho, or... more likely, is in the closet.  I'll let my spray tan do the deciding.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

So I started watching "Girls"

By Anči

I know I'm a little late to the party here-- I only started watching "Girls" this past month.  (But that's because I take my show commitment's seriously, and I needed to finish processing Mad Men.)

Anyway we're not going to attempt an analyses or review here, because pretty much any observation I've made has already been unpacked on multiple blogs: the lack of people of color,  the amount of privilege written into the show, the quiet dignity of Lena Dunham's butt....

I do want however, to talk a bit about the reviews of the show--- some have been valid, but plenty have been startlingly unfair: The most infuriating charge being, that the characters on the show are immature, privileged and self-involved. Funny, you could say the exact same about Mad Men's Don Draper-- who is selfish, self-centered, wealthy, and on top of that an abusive alcoholic, raging misogynist, and pathological liar.
But unlike Dunham's alter ego Hannah Horvath, Draper also happens to be  charismatic, smooth and alpha-male enough to be forgiven for his shockingly shitty behavior. When Hannah acts self-involved (at the age of 24, compared to Draper's 40) we enjoy calling her out on it.  It's fun to snark on entitled bitches, isn't it? Especially if they also happen to be "fat."

This is what a real self-involved bitch looks like.

Draper on the other hand,  manipulates and berates everyone in his life in order to get his way...while maintaining his  identity as dapper, misunderstood, moody  and  "tortured" [boo hoo, I faked my entire identity, banged everyone's wife,  and now my life is really hard.]

Now I challenge you to find a single review that dreamily refers to Hannah as a "misunderstood tortured soul." Ten extra points for  additional  gushing adjectives like "mysterious." (You may not believe me, but Hannah Horvath is about exactly as mysterious as Don Draper: Why is she such a delicious mess of contradictions? It's a mystery.)

I'm not saying Hannah is a wonderful person. (Although frankly I like her, and I'd want to be friends with her. ) but the amount of backlash her character's been getting is starting to feel suspiciously gender-specific.  Because for all her flaws, the sheer amount of contempt and anger directed at this 24 year old white girl cannot possibly be justified. 

"I have my own show, a Golden Globe, and a book deal. What do you have, besides a prescription for Viagra??"

The biggest indicators of this misogynist girl-hate, were the ragey reactions to Hannah's fling with a character played by Patrick Wilson. In fact, Slate devoted an entire article to the episode... wherein two dudes expressed their mutual disgust and horror at the notion of a hot guy like Patrick Wilson wanting someone like Hannah Horvath. (a witty, adorable, sexually adventurous 24 year old? Blech!)

So time to unpack:

The article kicks off with the first injured reviewer whining: "Really, the whole thing left me baffled and uncomfortable. Why are these people having sex, when they are so clearly mismatched—in style, in looks..."

(Um, is this your first time watching TV? Are you really, that uncomfortable seeing a "mismatched" couple having sex? Did you react the same way when Mad Men's Roger married his 20 year old secretary - under much, much creepier circumstances?)

First reviewer then goes on to wonder: "Why is he kissing her and begging her to stay over?"
 (Oh I don't know, maybe because he's horny, he's attracted to her, and she seems to be willing?)

Second dude chimes in with a  version of "yeah, bro,"  stating: "Presumably there are things that Hannah would not, in any world that resembled our own, get. Such as Patrick Wilson, for instance."
(First of all beta boy, she's not banging Patrick Wilson,  she's banging his character Joshua, whom we know nothing about. And who are you to decide who Hannah can or can't get? Maybe she couldn't get you, (such a big loss for her, I know.) But I'm pretty sure you don't speak for every person in the world.)

Then we're back to First dude, who  procedes to call our Hannah out for being "Sexually ungenerous" (because, when a girl like that gets the opportunity to sleep with a hot guy, she needs to act gratefully  subservient, right?) His bases for this assessment is the awesome moment wherein Hannah tells Joshua "“no, make me come."(in response to his instructing her to "make [him] come" first. ) So its ungenerous when Hannah throws his original command back in his face? What if she had gone with it, would that have made Patrick Wilson's character sexually ungenerous? Also haven't these "reviewers" ever heard of sexual teasing, and power play? Lighten up, bros!

My favorite moment in this exchange comes next, when first dude brands Hannah "Defiantly ungraceful." aaaand queue the gaydar.
Okay, maybe its unfair to speculate about this guy's sexuality-- but if he can only get hot for a graceful black swan, then maybe.... he's not really into the ladies? All I'm saying is that If he had ever slept with a girl  he'd know that we don't spend our time waltzing around like flowers. We have belly fat that folds over when we sit, and sometimes we go days without putting on a shirt. (You're welcome.)


Sunday, November 10, 2013

I treat my guy friends the way I treat my girlfriends

By Anči

I treat my male friends the same way I treat my female friends. There, I said it,

It used to be on principle, but by now it's become a habit. (That's right, i have some good habits!) As you can imagine this causes quite a bit of confusion (at least initially) -- on the part of some guys, who occasionally misinterpret my warm attitude, and willingness to accommodate, as romantic interest.

But despite the tension this dynamic can create, I refuse to give it up. For the simple reason that a shared set of standards is the only way to ensure an equal, healthy relationship. (i'm not interested in any other kind. Are you?)
Another reason is that I just got tired of toning down my personality, and censoring my 'antics' in order to contain some undeserving bro's potentially aggressive behavior. That's not my job. And frankly, I wouldn't want to be friends with someone so unstable, that any expression of care could send him into  sexual frenzy.
Guys, you need to grow up. Luckily you have me to make  that easier for you:

So if you are my buddy, here is a list of ten things you should expect from me: (Yes, it's really that simple.)

1) You can expect my eyes to light up around you-- Nope this isn't a joke. If I have chosen to call you my friend, it means I am genuinely interested in you.  It means I enjoy your company. It means I like you.

2)You can expect me to be frank with you.  I will not play games with you, stroke your ego, stroke your arm, or giggle at your lame jokes. (unless i'm in a genuine giggling mood.)  And when I'm truly impressed by something you've accomplished, I will not hold back on my gushing. Just remember that I'd gush just as ardently at a female friend's successes. (because that's what a supportive friend does.)
which brings me to....

3) I will be supportive and I will always root for your success. Conversely, I will make time to listen and cheer you up, whenever you're disappointed, upset, or unhappy.

4)  I will not indulge your male privilege. I will not listen sympathetically when you call your ex-girlfriend a bitch. Nor will I support/facilitate any of your endeavors to "get some." I should also add that I will not act as your "lady wingman", and that I will not be complicit in the manipulation of other women for your personal gratification. This doesn't make me disloyal, it just makes me a feminist.

5) I will invite you to spend time with me, socially. 

6) I will not let you manipulate or neg me. Guys, if you touch me in any way that's not friendly, press your leg closely to mine, or linger breathlessly near me, I will call you out. Loudly, and in front of your friends, parents, co-workers. You have been warned.

7) I will always treat your girlfriends well.

8) If some aspect of my behavior is upsetting to you, you should confront me about it. I will apologize, and stop doing it.

9) I will make you laugh. A lot. It's one of my charms.

10) I won't pick you up from the airport.  But only because I'm afraid of highways.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dark is beautiful: How Indian women are redefining beauty

By Anči

You may remember the controversial Miss USA pageant from September-- featuring our first lady of homegrown babedom, Nina Davuluri. You may also remember that she looks like this:

"Kneel before your queen!"

And sometimes, like this:

"Traditional American values"

As you might recall, the Miss USA fanbase  (which granted, is comprised of a "select" class of people,) all reacted by losing their minds. There were slurs  tweeted,  followed by totally reasonable accusations of terrorism, and of course digs at her "formerly fat body."
But I'm not here to go into that because A) it's boring B) we already knew that anyone who follows this televised celebration of misogyny must be pretty stupid.

What really fascinates me then, isn't America's reaction, but India's. As Mallika Rao of the Huffington post put it, the "unfortunate irony" is that "Davuluri is dark-skinned. In India, where skin color is a national obsession, you likely wouldn't see someone of her complexion in a pageant, much less winning one."

She's right about skin color being a national obsession in India, where "fairness creams" and skin bleach are hawked like candy. According to the BBC, "One market research firm even reported that more skin lightening creams are sold in India than Coca Cola"

Well why wouldn't they be, judging by these ads?
With our product, anyone can Photoshop half their face

Fairness cream: as painless and natural as it looks

"Look how far I can rotate my head!"

I want to make it clear that my intention is not to make fun of India, here. For one thing many of these skin-whitening products are owned by American Corporations, (including companies like Dove, Garnier, and Vaseline,)  all eager to exploit a social injustice. And let's not pretend it's not in America's interest to reinforce a white standard of beauty wherever it's least attainable. (By the way,  how brazen is it to promote a concept of beauty that favors you? I can almost picture a creepy executive saying"Guys, from now on the official standard beauty is what I look like." Insecure much, white people?)
But I do want to hold Indian society accountable, for their complicity in the system, which unfairly targets young women. According to actress and activist Nandita Das, the woman behind the  burgeoning "Dark is Beautiful" campaign, India's whiteness obsession is "a prejudice [which] has driven some young women to the brink of suicide." This is primarily due to the central role "fairness" plays in landing women a husband; an inequality routinely exploited by capitalists. This is evidenced by the slew of products intended for "prospective brides, which now includes a bleach for vaginal purity. (We all know what scented soap does to lady bits. Now try and picture bleach down there.)

You can view that particularly delightful TV commercial right here: And once you have,  note how heavily it leans on the wifely pressures Indian women experience. That's right:  in this perfectly healthy on-screen representation of wedded bliss, the husband acts cold and distant towards his wife until she applies the "fairness formula" to her junk, at which point he deems her worthy enough of affection. (Nice.)
Like all campaigns aimed at female consumers, the primary tactic involves systematically undermining our confidence. (I can tell you right now confident women don't bleach their vaginas.)

In fact, self-esteem is so linked to fairness, that the "dusky-skinned" Nandita Das, (a success by any standards) often gets asked "How can you be so confident despite being so dark?"
"Oh I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm a freaking movie star?"

This brings me back to Miss USA winner Nina Davuluri, who as a Hindu newspaper recently speculated: "would have been... a person with low self-esteem and few friends," adding that "had she been in India, far from entering a beauty contest, it is more likely that Ms Davuluri would have grown up hearing mostly disparaging remarks about the colour of her skin."

Let that sink in for a minute.  Nina Davuluri, who was literally just hailed America's Popular Girl, would have been condemned to a life of rejection and loneliness, in India. It might also be  reasonable to assume that  this "alternate-universe Davuluri" would invest considerable resources in fairness creams--  with potentially flesh-melting consequences. According to Indian blogger Sarah Malik, those consequences could include "burns, rashes and permanent skin damage." Malik goes on to  recall an eerie memory of "a young woman who came from a summer holiday.... bleached at least ten shades lighter, her skin, a strange chalky pallor." I'm sure it was worth it though?
 But luckily for women like Davuluri and Malik, the "Dark is beautiful" campaign has gained significant traction since its launch in 2009.  In fact, the project has been credited with renewing interest in a more inclusive culture of Indian beauty--particularly among young women. Malik warrmly echoes their newly-acquired outlook, writing: "I hope the 'Dark is beautiful' or 'Brown is beautiful' call-out becomes just as celebratory for the young   men and women struggling to see the beauty in being brown."


Thursday, October 31, 2013

On girly gay Americans

By Anči

 What's that German word that has to do with taking pleasure in somebody else's misery... schadenfreude? (You can always count on the Germans to provide the world with appropriately sadistic terminology.)

Anyway I've been experiencing a little bit of that ever since I caught wind of this latest military scandal. I don't want to make people uncomfortable, because I realize how sensitive these things are... So well, it has to do with the Marines oppressing one specific gender with a culture of brutality. You probably know which controversy I'm talking about. Ok good, let's say it together on three:


And I have literally never been happier.
 La la la la la...

 The official Marine reaction thus far, has  looked a bit more like this:
but I don't want to be a girl!

On the one hand, you can see where they're coming from: Take it from a senior marine. According to him, “The Marines deserve better. It makes them look ridiculous.”  Yes new hats will make the marines look ridiculous.  Up until now, you guys have been a beacon of dignity.

nothing about this seems absurd.

But out of curiosity, sir, what specifically makes the hats so offensive? Well apparently it's that they're "women's hats."

Women's hats?!! That sounds horrible! I imagine this means they're covered in tampons, or gosh, maybe they come equipped with an estrogen dispenser. Wait, no? Okay.. are the hats decorated with suggestively "blooming" flowers?  Are they branded with "Hello Kitty" insignia?  No? None of those things? What's the problem then? 
Turns out one of the issues plaguing our national headgear is that it looks "more French than American." And everyone knows the french are super queer.

Thanks a lot, Obama.