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."