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April 1, 2009

Blog 8 - Women's Sexuality in Movies

One thing I think of when I hear normative women's sexuality is idea that women are supposed to be passive participants in their relations with men. I'm often disappointed with the way women are represented in mainstream movies. Now I don't really know what I'm talking about here because I'm very picky about which movies I watch (usually bad ones or ones with my favorite actresses) but I just feel like women's sexuality is poorly represented in the movies that I have seen in the last few years. One of my favorite mainstream actresses is Diane Lane. I love the roles chooses, she's absolutely gorgeous, and very confident with work. Many of her roles have been of women that take charge of their sexuality like in both Walk on the Moon and Unfaithful where she cheats on her onscreen husbands. Diane Lane has claimed to quit acting because of the lack of good roles for women her age and I can definitely see her point. Some producers go as far as to claim that they will never produce a movie with women in single leading roles because they won't do as well in the box office. The problem is that these films are often not written well. Yes, I do know that mainstream movies do talk about women's sexuality, but from what I have observed, it's often commodified or represents women in a negative life (being "the slut").

March 31, 2009

Blog 8

Normative women's sexuality means much the same thing that, for instance, normative economics, means: studying economics from a view point working purely within and accepting the existing economic structure, rather than cahllenging it or qualitatively comparing it to other ways of being. Normative refers to the status quo - in the case of women's sexuality we are referring to how women are supposed to behave and identify sexually. There are several major expectations of women: first and foremost, they must be heterosexual (often they are also required to reproduce within a married heterosexual relationship). Part of women's normative sexuality is the double standard within how women are supposed to be. They are, at the same time, supposed to be chaste and virtuous (the saying "good girls don't do things like that") while they are also supposed to be heavily invested in pleasing and luring in, men, which they achieve by making themselves up (being a spectacle) to draw attention and by presenting themselves as sexually available. They must also take on a passive role in sexual encounters with men. As many theorists and scholars have argued, popular culture overwhelmingly and consistantly recreates these images. Of course, it also invents new standards of female sexuality, not all of which are negative or positive. Shugart and Waggoner suggest that normative female sexuality is challenged through women making outragous spectacles of themselves, thus demonstrating the performance of gender and identity in general. It also challenges ideas of "naturally" based gender and sex by making something that is identitfied as natural seem unnatural. This form of resistance is cited as critical for challenging conventional gender norms because they take place within accepted culture.

Pop culture sexuality

Women’s normative roles are played out and stereotype all over our world in media and advertising. Historically and still today in some cultures women are expected to be virgin-istic, motherly, homemaker, and submissive or prostitute and dirty. Women have been forced to pick one extreme: angelic or devilish. Popular culture today reinforces these roles but also over-sexes women giving the ideology that sex-appeal and sexuality are bases for the value of a woman.
Everybody Loves Raymond’s main female is Deborah, Ray’s wife. She is a stay at home mom who takes care of the children yet she defies other generally female roles. She’s the boss of the house, Ray follows her orders. She’s also not known for her cooking, which most mothers often are. She is a strong women who stands up for herself even though she’s playing a historical motherly/homemaker role.
Rock of Love on the other hand objectifies women. Bret Michael’s values the women first for their looks, then for their brains (maybe?) The girls are a spectacle, they play out these outrageous roles to fulfill the character expected for Rock of Love. Their boobs are bigger then their heads, they wear skimpy outfits, they talk ditzy and slow with a lot of umms and likes. They call each other mean names like skank and whore. They all say they’re falling “in love” with Bret vying for his attention.

March 25, 2009

Blog 7: India.Arie & Rihanna

For this blog I chose two female aritsts, both in the R&B-soul-pop genre. One of the first artists that comes to mind when I think of positive messages for women in music is India.Arie. She deliberately writes positive, encouraging lyrics and I think that is so cool. Her song, "Video" is about "video girls" and what they stand for and how that is not what she is about. The chorus says, "Im not the average girl from your video / And I aint built like a supermodel / But, I learned to love myself unconditionally / Because I am a queen . . . " How great is that!? This is the kind of stuff that girls should be listening to and singing in the shower or in the car. I think Arie's context is just that being in the R&B/hip-hop scene, she sees, first-hand, how women are completely exploited in so many lyrics and music videos (hence, "video girls.") It is obvious why this song is written by and performed by a female. Honestly, I can’t imagine a guy singing this song about a girl or his girlfriend / wife, etc. She is taking a stand and writing music that encourages women's worth and all kinds of beauty, and creating a huge hit while she's at it (the song was very popular: radio play, etc.) For my second “negative” song, I chose “Lemme Get That” by Rihanna. Interestingly, this song is more on the “video girl” end of things as opposed to India.Arie’s “Video.” The lyrics of “Lemme Get That” are basically about Rihanna telling a man that she will give him love and sex if he gives her money and gifts. No matter how fun this song may be to dance to, the message is pretty sleazy; it amounts women to merely superficial, materialistic girls who will give as much sex as they have to in order to obtain these things, “I came up in here to get what you got . . . 5 car garages / name on your bank account / all day massages . . . if ya young / if ya hot, girl / shake what ya got, girl.” And this song does not refer to just clothes or shoes, but stocks and bonds! This girl wants to set herself up for life! I feel like the context could be similar in this song as with the other song; Rihanna sees, first-hand, the relationship between men and women in the hip-hop world and how (big) money goes around. Even though it’s a negative portrayal of women, it’s still no surprise that this song is being sung by a female. Although she is involved in an unhealthy, dysfunctional relationship, she is getting a hold of a lot of money and that is her own goal.

Full lyrics in extended entry...

Continue reading "Blog 7: India.Arie & Rihanna" »

"Nasty Girl" vs. "Beautiful"

I came across this website as I typed in “Negative songs about women” into my search engine. To my surprise, I ended up finding a site that listed songs that objectify women. One song, in particular, caught my attention. This song, called, “Nasty Girl” by Notorious B.I.G. is a rap song with special appearances by Nelly, Avery Storm, Jagged Edge and P. Diddy. I found this song to be particularly disturbing and extremely degrading towards women. Here is the song, "Nasty Girl:

The Chorus:
Gotta love ma little nasty girl
U know I love ma little nasty girl
I love ma little nasty girl
All the ladies if u hear me
Grab Ur titties for B.I.G
I love ma little nasty girl
All ma women from around the world
I love ma little nasty girl
All the ladies if u hear me
Grab Ur titties for B.I.G


[Nelly & Avery Storm]
Ok ma what's Ur preference
Nice and slow
Or fast and breathless
Pull Ur hair girl, bite Ur necklace
Let me show u what a nigger from Lou blessed with
Hey.... I'm exprained to leave
When I'm done I flip the mattress
Change the sheet (Gotta change them)
I'm like a radical one
I vibrate a little more than Ur mechanical one
(From Ur titties to you thong)
Either way mama I'm a make u do it or do it
(Girl I'm about to make u come)
Guaranteed when Ur fuckin with me
(Coz I go on and on and on...on and on and on....on and on and)
Ladies if u feel me
Grab them Thangs fo Biggie

The gender role in this song is that in which the artists objectify women, making them sound as though they are to be simply used as sexual human beings. With the lyrics sung by Nelly and Avery Storm, “Grab them Thangs fo Biggie” makes it sound like women have to be sexually submissive to the opposite sex, that grabbing areas on their body will be acceptable and make them seem more desirable. To me, it feels as though these artists who sing “Nasty Girl” are nothing but sex-driven, women-hungry individuals who feel it necessary to speak of women in a derogatory manner. The opposite sex, in this song in particular, delivers a bad reputation of what reality is. It is almost as if most rap songs done by males are objectifying women more and more.

On the other hand, I also found a song that is positive about women. Christina Aguilera's song "Beautiful" is a song that is extremely empowering towards women, giving them confidence, strength to move on and to overcome any sort of problem that might arise. Here is the song, "Beautiful":


Some of the lyrics include:

I am beautiful no matter what they say
Words can't bring me down
I am beautiful in every single way
Yes, words can't bring me down, oh no,
So don't you bring me down today,

To all your friends, you're delirious
So consumed in all your doom
Trying hard to fill the emptiness
The piece is gone and the puzzle undone
That's the way it is

You are beautiful no matter what they say
Words can't bring you down
You are beautiful in every single way
Yes, words can't bring you down, oh no,
So don't you bring me down today...

This song is a pop song written in the early 2000s. I remember how popular the song was when I was in middle school. I recall my friends listening to this song when they were feeling down. The gender role in this song is that in which the artist gives women a sense of pride and dignity. That is how I feel a song should be: sending positive messages and portraying women in a positive light.


Don't Listen to the Lyrics

The two songs that I have looked at are “Don’t Listen 2 the Lyrics” by local artist Desdamona and Dr. Dre’s song “Bitches Ain’t Shit”.

Desdamona is a woman b-girl from Minneapolis and raps a lot about her perspective as a woman. The song “Don’t listen 2 the lyrics” written and performed by her discusses what the affect of rap music and the images of women within hip hop can affect girls/women. Her gender plays a huge role in this song. It is specifically discussing a woman’s perspective and a woman’s critique on (specifically) mainstream rap. The song discusses the media and what their messages are selling, and it’s not just brands/material things but a way one views one self, she raps,

“…her sexuality sells soda/long neck bottles slipping into wide open mouths/gulping the last drop down to her Victoria secret commercials/ where her outfit consists of a negligee and an innocent smile makes the boys go while/she licks her lips on coffee commercials and is misunderstood/ sitting on a bus stop sucking on a lollipop and she feels more than disturbed standing on the curb/ because everyone including the media is sure that they know her but they haven’t heard her say a word…”

Continue reading "Don't Listen to the Lyrics" »

March 24, 2009

Everlast and Tanya Janca (Blog 7)

I thought that I’d challenge myself with this blog and look through my own music collection for a man who spoke positively of women and a woman who spoke negatively of women. First off, I have to admit that my music collection is about 70% female (who tend to sing empowering music), 25% male bands that barely speak about women (and if they do, it’s usually about sex), and about 5% of single men. The two artists I ended up choosing could both be considered “Alternative” which makes sense because of the gender requirements I’m trying to go by, therefore being alternative thinking.

For a male musician that spoke positively about women, I chose Everlast’s “What It’s Like.” Remember this 90s hit and Everlast's feud with Eminem? I really love the style of this song and I didn’t even pay much attention when I was younger and I only noticed this verse recently when I started learning how to play it on my guitar. Here, Everlast is defending a woman who got pregnant by a man who wouldn’t return her calls and decides to have an abortion. He describes the disrespect she receives as she is approaching the abortion clinic and claims that these people should consider what they would do if they were in her situation. It’s rare to hear a man talk about issues like this and I wish it happened more often.

Here’s the verse and chorus that I’m talking about:

Mary got pregnant from a kid named Tom who said he was in love
He said don't worry about a thing baby doll I'm the man you've been dreamin' of
But three months later he said he won't date her or return her call
And she sweared god damn if I find that man I'm cuttin' off his balls
And then she heads for the clinic and she gets some static walkin' through the doors
They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner, and they call her a whore
[CHORUS]
God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes
'Cause then you really might know what it's like to have to choose
Then you really might know what it's like [x4]

Link to song:
Download file

I noticed that any female musicians I have that speak negatively about other women is usually out of jealousy. There’s only one song of mine that really stuck out: Tanya Janca “Let Me Win This One.” I wouldn’t be surprised if none of you heard of her because I pretty much bought one of her CDs on accident many years ago. She’s a Canadian singer with really blunt lyrics, she plays guitar Ani style (almost), and she can’t sing very well. This song describes an argument that Janca is having with someone else. Janca feels the need to refer to a certain woman as a “cunt” while the person she is arguing with doesn’t like the use of that word. Okay, so I can’t find the lyrics anywhere so I’m just going to type out my interpretation of the chorus:

And I say that “I think she’s a cunt”
And you give me that look
And I say “You know what I will call her whatever I want”
And you say, “I wish you wouldn’t talk about her so badly”
And I say that “I’ll stop as soon as you stop talking about her so nicely”
Let me win this one and I will shut up forever

Link to song:
Download file

Mary

March 23, 2009

"Stacy's Mom" V. "Father and Daughter"

The two songs I’ll be discussing are Paul Simon’s “Father and Daughter”, and Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom”. Both radio hits in the 2000’s, each emerges from a unique context and discusses women from drastically different viewpoints.
“Stacy’s Mom” proved to be a chart-topping hit for the previously little-known group Fountains of Wayne. Although they’d released two prior albums on the popular Atlantic Records label, they had not enjoyed album or ticket sales until their 3rd album, when the single Stacy’s Mom was absorbed by and thrown into heavy rotation on MTV’s TRL. The lyrics, which champion the burgeoning sexuality of an adolescent boy attracted to his friend Stacy’s mother, are cheeky and humorous. They ride the waves of the “milf” craze made humorous and popular by the American Pie movies. Because of the catchy hooks and humorous interpolation of the milf craze, evident not only in the lyrics but in the ubiquitous music video, “Stacy’s Mom” proved to be extremely popular, leading to a Grammy nomination for the song. Although one could argue that the milf concept gives older women, who currently do not get the same sexual attention as younger women, a renewed sense of sexuality or attractiveness, the concept nonetheless objectifies women sexually and diminishes a woman’s value to her very sexuality.
Paul Simon’s Father and Daughter, on the other hand, discusses familial, paternal relationships to women. The content of the song’s lyrics include a wholesome vision of love between a father and daughter. The first verse of the song reminds the daughter that her father loves her, the second tells her that he will protect her (“like a postcard of a golden retriever” by her bedside—arguably, not very empowering), but the third verse sends her on her way to grow up and “trust [her] intuition”. The lyrics eventually empower the daughter, and seem sweet and sincere.
Simon wrote this song for the Wild Thornberries film soundtrack, based on an animated Nickelodeon show that features a smart young girl who can speak to animals. At the time, Simon had been well known for 30+ years for his folk music work with Art Garfukel, and enjoyed continued radio success as a solo artist on major labels (this song in particular on Warner Brothers).
The songs hit the airwaves within three years of one another (“Stacy’s Mom” in 2003, “Father and Daughter” in 2006), and are interesting to look at together. Both feature male artists singing about women. The group (Fountains of Wayne) discusses women’s sexuality, and the individual (Paul Simon) discusses a father’s relationship to a daughter. The group feels general, the individual feels intimate. The ages of the artists also likely contribute to the songs content, the Wayne boys were in their 30’s and Simon was in his 60’s at the times the songs were released. “Stacy’s Mom” is overtly hypersexual towards women, and “Father and Daughter” tends in the opposite direction, toward sexual innocence (the line “I believe a light that shines on you will shine on you forever” is evocative of an almost biblical, angelic goodness, but should we desire a different opinion from a father figure?). Neither song succeeds at being representative of completeness or complexity, but what songs are? “Stacy’s Mom” puts them on a sexual pedestal, “Father and Daughter” puts them on a moral high ground. But I don’t think we can expect too much more from short songs. Both are fun, well-written songs which explore different themes.


Stacys Mom - Fountains Of Wayne


Father And Daughter - Paul Simon

(lyrics in extended entry)

Continue reading ""Stacy's Mom" V. "Father and Daughter"" »

March 11, 2009

blog #6

When I was watching E news the other day I heard that Chris Brown was going to court for attacking Rihanna. I commented to my roommate that I really liked that he was taken to court for his offense and that I had a deeper respect for Rihanna for gong through with the charges (I assumed that she was the one filing charges against him). I said that I thought it sent a really good message to young girls about how they deserve to be treated and what they should not ever have to tolerate and that it went really well with her song "Take A Bow," which I thought was a little funny and made me like the song more. Then ten minutes later I found out that she was back together with him! Needless to say, I was really dissapointed and shocked. Everything that I had said earlier was thrown out the window. She sent a really terrible message to young girls and her song "Take A Bow" has, for me, lost a lot of the power I believed it to originally have. Just so dissapointing.

Why Tyra really cheeses me.

Dammit dammit dammit. I was writing away and I lost everything. That makes me want to cry. Okay, here we go again. I've been wanting to rage about this for a week now.

Here's the condensed version: last week, Tyra was about a woman named Alana who was (at the time of the taping) eight months pregnant and worked at a brothel in Nevada. I can't remember which one it was. As you may or may not know, prostitution is legal in Nevada. I've seen Tyra get agitated about sex workers on past shows, though it seems to be the ones who do it within these safe and legal institutions that really invoke her ire. I wonder why that is. Well, I think I know why: she considers sex work demeaning to women. A lot of people feel that way. A lot of feminists feel that way. But what's the assumption, that the women who exchange sex for money on the street don't have a choice and the women who work at a brothel do? I don't know.

To be fair, Alana seemed as though she wasn't happy with her situation: she mentioned that most of her family stopped speaking to her when they found out she was working at The BunnyRanch (I think it was The BunnyRanch), and that really saddened her, and that she didn't want to keep working there after her daughter was born but she felt that the money was better than she'd ever get elsewhere. She didn't seem like the other women who work at brothels that Tyra's had on before, who have historically been quite vocal about their satisfaction in their jobs. Tyra calls this "having attitude," by the way. Charming.

Actually, that leads me into one of my biggest frustrations with the way Tyra treats sex workers who appear on her show: she is so insistent that there is no possible way that they could be happy or content with what they do. And if they try to argue with her on that point, she then tries to silence them by pathologizing them--saying that something must have happened to them in their lives that made them make these choices and have these opinions. That they think they feel this way because they're damaged somehow. It's really pretty stunningly condescending. "You know, Alana," she said, when Alana revealed that she felt alone without her family there for her, "I thought going into this show that I would be angry with you, but now that I'm talking to you I'm just sad for you." (All quotes are paraphrased, by the way.) Because, you know, it's so important whether or not the decisions they make in their lives make Tyra angry.

(The reasons why some men fly clear across the country to have sex with a pregnant woman make up a whole 'nother can of worms. Naturally that particular piece comes with its own issues, and the guy they brought on the show to talk about why he liked Alana did seem a bit on the skeezy side. I don't want to make it sound like Alana should've been totally loud and proud about her job just for its own sake even if she's unhappy, and I don't want to make it sound like there are never any problems whatsoever with the men fetishizing pregnant women. But it's Tyra's show; Tyra's the one who shapes opinion here, so my focus in this case is to hold Tyra responsible.)

Tyra never once refers to a woman who engages in prostitution as "a woman." She is only ever "a prostitute." It really bothered me.

But the thing that bothered me most was how Tyra just couldn't respect Alana's opinion that she didn't feel that she had a better option. Said Alana: "What am I supposed to do, work at McDonald's?" Exclaimed Tyra, exasperated, to a wave of applause from the audience: "YES!"

I think the "work at McDonalds if you have to" suggestion is a terribly privileged one, especially with the current economic situation. Tyra, may I ask who the hell you expect is going to hire a woman who is eight months pregnant? It's hard enough for people to get jobs without having a significant medical condition that might preclude their coming in every day. Maybe working at the BunnyRanch was not the only choice Alana had, but I just have to ask, who am I to make that call for her? And who is Tyra Banks?

Oh, wait. That's not the thing that bothered me most. With the pathologizing card already played, Tyra resorted to outright shaming this woman. I didn't hear the first bit, but for whatever reason, Alana was asked to think about herself as a six-year-old girl, and what she would say to or do for her six-year-old self. Tyra asked Alana if she thought that Alana had let that girl down. Alana essentially replied, "you know, everything I do makes up part of who I am, and I won't say that these are just the cards I was dealt, but it is what it is." Tyra then proceeded to say that she thought Alana had. "Do you think you've let down that six-year-old you? I think you have. I think you're a disappointment, I think it's an embarrassment, I think it robbed her of being a good mother..."

And that was the point at which I just started capslocking and keyboardmashing at my friend over AIM. Where in god's name do you get off saying that to someone? That was my main thought. That's still my main thought. I'd like to say I have a resolution to all this, but I don't. I've been checking Feministing every day, hoping that someone might've posted about it, but it doesn't seem that anyone has. I wanted to hear someone, anyone else call Tyra out for her arrogance and condescension in this episode, but my search was less than fruitful. I don't think I'm alone, though.

(As a final, somewhat related comment, since I've seen this on other episodes dealing with legal prostitution: it seems to me that if you really want to get under Tyra's skin, suggest that there may be points of intersection between the commodification of women's bodies in prostitution and the commodification of women's bodies in the modeling world. She... kind of loses it.)

Blog 6



Free to Be… You and Me
is the video from the 70's that I talked about in class. It features songs and stories from celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Shel Silverstein and Mel Brooks. Wikipedia says it filled with "poetry, songs, and sketches, the basic concept was to salute values such as individuality, tolerance, and happiness with one's identity; a major thematic message is that anyone, whether a boy or a girl, can achieve anything one wants." One of my favorite sketches that I remember is a story of a princess who is forced to get married by her father. To decide her husband, the king hosts a race and the winner gets to marry his daughter. The princess makes a deal with the king that if she wins the race (because she is just as strong as the boys) she doesn't have to marry anyone. In the end, the race is a tie between the Princess and a young man from the kingdom. The king tells his daughter because she didn't win, she had to marry this suitor. BUT the young man says something like "I don't actually want to marry her, I was just hoping for a chance to talk with her." The story ends with the two hanging out, and eventually parting ways, where the prince goes off to do great things and the princess goes out adventuring. This is just the kind of story our childhood should be filled with. Stop putting emphasis on marriage, heteronormity, and gender stereotypes, and maybe girls will stop being so scared of the word feminist.

March 10, 2009

The Girls of Hedsor Hall

hedsor-cast-2.jpg
After showing him a brief clip of MTV’s The Girls of Hedsor Hall, my boyfriend remarked, “wait a second- I can’t remember whether or not I’m actually fond of women”. His observation is a keen one- the Donald-Trump produced sleazefest does its best to make women look horrible, whether they are pushed to one extreme (virgins) or more commonly, the other (whores).
MTV touts its concept as having discovered “12 of the worst-behaved girls in America”, during a voiceover accompanying the girls wearing their underwear in public, slumping drunkenly against bars, falling-down drunkenly in the street exposing themselves, and finally, peeing naked on someone’s lawn (while we cut back to the same woman in an interview, claiming that she needs to “be a better mom”).
MTV’s site claims that “One dozen misbehaving American girls will be shipped off to England, where the breeding of proper young ladies is considered something of a science.”
The girls are individually described as follows: “self-described "nymphomaniac" Brianna, heavy drinker Samantha, bad-tempered Margie, high school-dropout Jenna, gutter-mouthed Lillian, wild child Amanda, party girl Kim, snobby bitch Jen M, foul-mouthed Maddy, booty-baring punkette Hillary, bar brawling Paola, and Jennifer, the self-proclaimed "Blackout Queen of North Carolina".
The premise of the show surrounds this group of girls being flown to an elite finishing school in England, “Hedsor Hall”, where they will learn good manners and be eliminated one by one, to result in the eventual winner of a $100,000 trust. The “bad girls” are pitted against one another and juxtaposed with three “good girl” judges—a small, elderly headmistress with large teeth and a Jackie-O wardrobe, a heavy, frumpy disciplinarian who espouses the need for order and politeness as she screams, rudely, at the top of her lungs whenever a girl does something wrong, and former Miss USA Tara Conner who’s “hard-partying” ways almost cost her the Miss USA title, before she “reformed”. No character is balanced—either the women are extremely bad or angelically good. Herein lie presentations of very narrow definitions for both “bad” and “good”, both lacking complexity and humanity. The “bad girls” give something their best effort (pheasant hunting, for example) and are admonished for being the scourge of the Earth; the “good girls” scoff and say “how dreadful! How rude! How positively revolting!” at the girl’s behavior, providing a prim and suffocatingly tight-laced vision of what it means to be “good” and “proper”.
The “bad girls” are emotional and wildly sexual; the “good girls” have access to neither aspect of themselves. So who comes out on top?
The show buys into and progagates the virgin/whore dichotomy, providing unattractive visions of both and leaving us to wonder whether we were ever actually fond of women to begin with. The “reality” it poses is truly horrifying, and must be looked at critically if its norms are to be stopped from seeping into the societal mainstream further.

The Girls of Hedsor Hall on MTV.com

Blog #6

So I'm taking Comedy: Text and Theory. In the class we discuss theoretical texts and how they relate to comedy. Today we had a very very interesting class discussion about the suppression of women. The debate started out with us discussing the fact that everything, in cultural sense, is discourse. That much was agreed upon. Our class also came to a group consensuses that women have been suppressed for thousands of years; having the bible mark the first major piece of discursive text to suppress women. However, the discussion got extremely controversial when one female student began to question why women were suppressed in the first place and why women would ever allow for such suppression. Some of the class believed that at one point, long before the Bible, there was equality between women and men, while others in the class believe there never was such equality. It was suggested that humans gained there dominate and inferior stances (that between male and female) from physical strength. This could be reflected from animals as well. Regardless to say, we left class without an answer to the question.
While I was walking home after class I was still thinking about the question of why women were suppressed and how they could let themselves become suppressed. So here's what I came up with, whether right or totally wrong, it makes sense to me. I believe that women and men were created equally, however that creation occurred. Then over time men became physically stronger because women were able to bear children. This connection comes from that when women were pregnant they could not be as active as men. Generation after generation males became stronger, faster, and more physically bolder than women. This physical strength then turned into dominant power, which in time led to the suppression of women.
I know this may seem a kind of out there. But, it's really interesting to think about.

Kids Choice Awards and Chris Brown

As I was checking PerezHilton.com for my regular celebrity update, I came across a post Perez made about Nickelodeon’s decision to not remove Chris Browns name from the nominee list for the Kids Choice Awards. As I am sure many of you already know, Chris Brown beat up Rihanna and they are rumored to be back together, even potentially recording together. This has become a prominent story in the media over the last couple of weeks. It seems that everyone has something to say about what Rihanna should do and how people should stop supporting Chris Brown’s music.

What I found interesting about this situation with Nickelodeon is that even after people requested them to take him off the nominee list they have refused. It seems that Nickelodeon is going back on their message of “girl power” considering they are allowing Chris Brown to remain on the nominee list. I think that it may send a more positive message that violence against women should not be tolerated if they took him off the list. Maybe Nickelodeon is letting the kids "choose" to continue their support for him. I think it will be interesting to see what happens when Chris Brown actually wins the award...

To check out Perez's post click here.

More on Nickelodeon

So, I've been thinking more about Nickelodeon and gender and thought of two of my favorite game shows growing up (and there were quite a few) that were on Nick. These would be Guts and Legends of the Hidden Temple which I believe aired at the same time that Clarissa Explains it all did. I wasn't thinking about it when I was younger, but Nickelodeon continued their positive gender representation practices into these game shows as well. Guts promotes gender equality while LotHT promotes gender cooperation. Guts was an athletic game show (probably inspired by American Gladiators) where kids from 10-12ish competed against each other in various athletic challenges with the ultimate challenge being the AggroCrag (later called the MegaCrag). I really enjoyed their creativity with different sports and I had a crush on Mo, the referee. The three contestants in Guts were viewed as unique, talented individuals, and were usually a mix of genders where the boys didn't always win. This reminds the viewer that, especially at that age, girls were very capable of keeping up with the boys.
aggrocrag.png
A girl holding up a glowing piece of the AggroCrag, a privilege given only to the winner.

Legends of the Hidden Temple had it all. Teams of two competed against each other with a combination of athletic challenges and historical lessons (taught by the almighty Olmec made out of "stone" with red glowing eyes). The final challenge has the children trying to retrieve a historical artifact without being caught by the temple guards. The teams of two were always one boy and one girl where the genders competed with each other in addition to against each other as team. Before the winning team could enter the hidden temple and win the big prize (like a trip to space camp!), they were asked which member of the team wanted to go first. In my experience with the show, it was never really predictable whether the girl or the boy went first or what their reasons were for that choice. Ultimately, the fact that both genders had to work together in order to win shows how children that life doesn't have to be boys versus girls.
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The winning pair, the Blue Barracudas, with the host.

Aw man, I just discovered that Guts was on SNES! 12 years too late...

Mary

Blog 6

I was looking at E news online about Jessica Simpsons weight scandel and it was interesting to see what other celebs said about the issue. Her brother in law, Pete Wentz says, “I think the media puts too harsh of a spotlight on women in general and I think it’s a bummer,” Pete said in an interview with Extra on Thursday. “It’s bad for young women. I see it affecting young girls who come to our shows and that’s a bummer. Real beauty is on the inside, man.” Most of the celebrities that spoke out against the issue felt basically the same way Pete did, but looking at the individuals who spoke about were all skeletal! Paris Hilton, declares how unfair it is that the media puts so much emphasis on physical beauty, but she is the poster girl for materialism! I just think its funny that they are so hypicritical about body image and beauty. For example, Heidi Klum says, "I think everyone should be the way they feel comfortable," Klum told People.com on Thursday night. "When you are in the public eye, people will always talk about you and put their opinions on you. But people need to be happy with the way they are." With a slight whiff of irony, the Web site points out that Klum voiced her support while mentoring an entourage of pencil-thin models at a trendy West Hollywood party. Young girls will see they stick thin models talking about being yourself and beauty is how you feel about your body, but they are all unnaturally thin. The message they are sending are important and positive, but if the messanger doesn't do what they preach, it's a hard to believe them. I feel they could get a broader selection of celebrities to speak about body image and beauty, not just tiny models.

Blog 6

oprah-michelle-b.jpg

For the first time in the nine years that Oprah has had her own magazine, “O,” she is sharing the cover with someone. Who could that someone be? Michelle Obama, duh! While I am no cheerleader for Oprah Winfrey, I must say I adore Michelle Obama. And it seems like everyone else in this great nation of ours (and beyond!) feels the same way. She has a glow about her; she is a very attractive woman (the first in the White House since Jackie, let’s be real,) she is so intelligent, strong (have you seen her arms!?) . . . and well, the total package. I still think it is interesting, however, the role that the first lady must play “in the White House.” I’ve watched our country become fascinated with how the first family is settling into their new home. There are leading magazines featuring articles in conversation with Michelle about how she decorates and makes the house “feel like home” for her family. And I think, in many ways, our country looks up to the relationship between the president and first lady, as a grand model of how a married man and woman should be and act together, in their home as well and publicly, so naturally we are curious as to how that looks. Maybe I'm not making much of an argument, but this is just something that I have noticed. I feel like there has been a shift in her image and in the way we look at her since she was put into the White House. Talk about the personal as political . . . ok, bad joke.

Thoughts.

waiting Pictures, Images and Photos

I may not say more than two words in class, but I do have a lot on my mind. I think this “freebie blog” to post about whatever one might feel is necessary, is pretty much a beyond brilliant idea. So, since everyone is talking about such great things, I thought I would just write about some random things and go from there:

-I came across this article about this recent controversy in giving Barbie an update: by this I mean “tattooed” Barbie. It was stated that, “The doll also comes with temporary tats that kids can attach to Barbie's clothing or to themselves with a handy-dandy applicator. Despite the outrage, Barbie-maker Mattel has no plans to discontinue the doll. In fact, tatted-up Barbie is selling well.” Apparently parents are concerned and said they wouldn't buy a Barbie with tattoos, as it encourages girls to show off their bodies. If you ask me, I think she looks pretty darn rad; what a brilliant idea. Google her.

Also, the Washington Times did an article about celebrating the 50 years of Barbie and her updated look. You can check out the article by clicking here.

-It is interesting to note that most of the topics we discuss in our class correlate with another class I am in, “People of Color in the Mass Media.” This class focuses on gender issues, stereotypes, femininity and masculinity, etc. I find it interesting how much of what we read and learn in class can be applied to not only that class, but in my daily routine. As cliché as that might sound, I have a better appreciation for things because of this class. I look at television programs a little differently than prior to taking this class. I notice the details, the stereotypes, etc. Taking this class has been a definite eye-opener for me.

-Lately, I am addicted to reading "Postsecrets." Check them out if you can!

-Also, what is the deal with the show “The Bachelor”…? If anyone saw the finale, you know what I am talking about. Who just randomly asks a girl to marry him, then dump her live in front of millions? What a turd. You can watch the finale by going here:

-I checked out this really cool event this past Friday at the Elmer Andersen Library feature 10 local Minnesota spoken word artists, discussing what it means to be a “Nation of Immigrants.” University of Minnesota Professor Trica Keaton thought of the idea after seeing the event at The Loft in Minneapolis this past fall and brought it to the U. These 10 artists have put out a CD, but seeing it live was definitely a worthwhile experience. I know one of the girls in our class is really into spoken word, so I definitely would recommend people check out the CD. I wrote a story about this in the Daily today. I have been writing for the Minnesota Daily for the past month, covering the business/international news section. I hope that you all read the newspaper daily, or you can check out my work by visiting www.mndaily.com

The continuing saga of Rihanna and Chris Brown

Although the rumors are constantly flying and one can not truly believe anything that they hear when it comes to the story of Chris Brown and Rihanna I can not help but be fascinated by the whole thing. I mean this mainly because I find it very interesting. I find that we as a society have a long way to go when it comes to spousal/relationship abuse. From the very beginning, especially before the picture of Rihanna was leaked to the press, I felt that the media was much to sympathetic towards Brown. They focused not on the issue of abuse, but of Brown's clean recorder and how he has "never" done anything like this before. There were also a surprising amount of talk about how Rihanna may have started the fight as if this was suppose to make his actions ok. Most recently it has come out that Brown may have tried to get a better deal on his punishment by saying that they were secretly married at the time as if this would mean that because you're married it's more acceptable to hit ones wife.

Continue reading "The continuing saga of Rihanna and Chris Brown" »

March 9, 2009

Blog 6

Today on feministing.com I was reading some of the older posts and I found an entry from February 26th 2009 on Xbox. Apparently a female gamer was suspended from Xbox Live because she had her sexual orientation in her profile! I guess she was suspended by Microsoft because other users were offended by her orientation and she was harassed by players and parents of players because they didn’t want themselves or their children exposed to that “crap.” I don’t really have that much against video games but it’s insane that some parent is more concerned about the homosexuals their kid might play a video game with than the off the charts violence that their kid is exposed to through the game itself. This woman was simply stating her sexual orientation on her gamer profile and was suspended by Microsoft while tons or 14 year olds on Xbox Live spit out gay in a derogative manner every other word and get no punishment. According to the article the blog was commenting on from” The Consumerist” there have been many gay/lesbian gamers that have been harassed while using Xbox Live and Microsoft has done nothing about it.

Here is the link to The Consumerist report, and here is the Feministing.com blog.

The anti- rape device...I forsee horrible accidents happening


Ok I was browsing the good ol' world wide web and I ran into this article talking about a device kinda like a diaphram but it has teeth. I understand the practical purpose for the device especially in areas of the world where there are very high instances of rape. But I can't help but forsee very unfortunate accident between consensual partners. I also started to think about the ethical implications of a device such as this. If someone did get into an unfortunate accident with this device is there someone to blame or is it deemed an accident? There is also the issue of using it as a weapon...just like self defense devices like tasers, stun guns and pepper spray... Other kinds of self defense devices if abused can be easily deemed as an attack against the other but unlike other self devices if this is used as a weapon some level of consent must be needed from the other party. In order for it to be used as a weapon more mindful effort needs to be used... manipulation, planning and etc... so does it constitute as a greater level of assault than pulling out a taser and using it because they just pissed you off... any thoughts?


http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/2140,features,rapex-the-internal-anti-rape-device

Women's "Health" Magazines

Okay, so... this might be rant-ish and I may be overreacting, but man DST combined with an early morning has made me extremely agitated, haha.

When I think about "women's magazines", I generally get annoyed... I'm talking about the mainstream ones, the beauty mags and all that. I don't need to go into why this is - I'm sure a lot of us agree about these magazines and their ads.

But what I didn't completely expect is the absolute ridiculousness that is magazines promoted toward "health".

I get a free subscription to Prevention magazine. I'm not exactly sure how or why, but I've been getting it for months, which I'm pretty okay with because I enjoy cooking and figured I could find some nice healthy recipes, and I sometimes do. Their workouts are also sometimes nice to ponder.

I got a new issue today and really looked at it. The magazine is supposed to be devoted to women's health, but honestly, there are so many parts of it that just AREN'T. First off, I've never read any Men's Health magazines, and I'm sort of curious now if their focus on body weight is as strong as it is in women-directed mags. Now, of course being a healthy weight is one of the most important factors in being an overall healthy person. So I can deal with the weight loss thing that makes up about 70% of the magazine.

And then, slightly more annoying, there are also several articles related to cleaning, which... yeah. I would love to see that in a men's magazine. Info about how and why you should clean the seal around the refrigerator door, your vacuum cleaner, and the garbage disposal. Okay.

But then there are things that are actually counteractive to women's health and that's where the magazine irritates me. They promote behaviors that are generally bad for health for the sake of improving appearance.

For example, the obsession with wrinkles. Our society is incredibly age-ist, that's nothing new. But I can't believe that a women's health magazine is promoting BOTOX. Botox is not healthy, for your face or your wallet! They specifically recommend women to get Botox "a week before an important event". There are, of course, about a dozen other recommendations for dealing with your wrinkles. How sad. There are expensive laser treatments recommended for broken capillaries and brown spots (which cost over $300 a piece).

Then there's a little blurb about this new FDA-approved prescription treatment... that makes your eyelashes thicker. It's $120 a month. Causes redness and itching and you just spent more money than I spend in 3 weeks' worth of groceries, but YAY YOUR EYELASHES ARE SUPER LONG AND GORGEOUS.

There is also an article about how men are allegedly more attracted to women wearing red clothing than other colors, and that if you wear red lipstick or nail polish will "have the same effect". Then, they tell you that you should volunteer for a charity because "your selfless acts will entrance your spouse". I'm sorry, shouldn't we be volunteering because we care about a cause, and not because we want to "entrance" our spouse? [I'm just picturing a commercial here, with a guy standing drooling because his wife is doing volunteer work, because he's clearly a mindless drone who cares about nothing else and is just oh-so-entranced with what she's doing.] Apparently, being attractive to men by wearing certain colors is a very important part of health.

I am not saying that I don't do "unhealthy" things to make myself feel more attractive [I'm sure the slathering of makeup daily isn't that great for my skin, and I know that straightening is extremely damaging to my hair]. But I just think that a health magazine with all this stuff in it is irritating because instead of focusing on health, they are focusing on appearance, often by recommending things that are detrimental to health.

OH, and I also paid for a year's subscription to Cooking Light, because I love their website and cook recipes from it daily. Interestingly, every single picture in the magazine is of a woman, EXCEPT for an advertisement for Lowe's Hardware and a picture of a man golfing. Every single workout is geared toward women. Lots of ads for pads, tampons, and cleaning products. I realize that women are the primary demographic, but it irritates me that there are hardly any magazines that believe that men have the ability to cook or clean or be domestic in any fashion.

Rant over.

As an aside, Feministing reminded me that it's International Women's Day, and then I remembered that the U is holding an International Women’s Day Celebration on Saturday, March 14th at Coffman Union. It's from 8:00-3:00 but you can come and go as you please. There are tons of interesting things there, lots of workshops you can pick and choose to learn about various issues around the world, and keynote speakers. I went last year because I was tabling for the rape crisis center I work at, and it was super fantastic! I couldn't go to the workshops because I had to stay at my table, but I got to see the keynote speaker and see all the events they had going on. They also serve breakfast if you get there early enough! Last year they had a lot of vendors who sold really, really gorgeous and unique stuff - bags and jewelry, etc. - I got a bag that Burmese refugees in Thailand made out of the trousers they wear fishing. So if you have the time, I highly recommend it! (And over 65 local organizations table at this event, so if you're looking for an intership or volunteer work or ways to get involved with organizations that help women, this is an awesome opportunity to make some contacts.)

Oh, and as one more aside that isn't exactly completely related to anything at all - I'm vice president of a student group on campus that aims to educate students about mental health and mental illness, and reduce the stigma of mental illness. We're currently trying to put on an art exhibit at Boynton and we are frantically advertising looking for student artists to contribute to our gallery. Basically, we are looking for pieces that somehow relate to mental health, or served as an outlet during times of stress, etc. If anyone has any original pieces they want to share, or know someone who does, please pass this info on! If you're interested send an e-mail to aminds@umn.edu and I'll write back with more details about how to submit art, the gallery days/hours, etc.

Sorry for being long-winded.

Candy Girls

So, there's a new "reality" show on E! called "Candy Girls." Here's the description:

You've seen them featured in music videos with the likes of Kanye West, Outkast, and Jay-Z, but don't let their supporting roles fool you—these women are anything but background players.


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The show's premier comes at a good time for this class since we just read "Black Beauty Myth." I think it will be interesting to see how the girls act in comparison to the show "Girls Next Door." I'm sure it will be similar since the show is on the same network and their both deemed "reality" but I think it will be interesting to see the portrayal of black women in this text.

March 8, 2009

Blog 6

This entry is in continuation of Thursday's discussion on "commodity feminism" and feminism's increased accessability through the consumer market.

I by no means am averse to feminism being more accessable and less elitist than it has previously been. I also think that changes from within mainstream culture are important to producing broader change and encouraging people to think and grow. However, as has been said, the new brand of commercial girl power is highly problematic. The simple recognition of girls as a valuable market is not necessarily a concern with their development, and there are serious problems with conflating power with the power to buy. First of all, because one has the power to buy in a capitalist world does not mean that one has the power to own, and it's reasonable to question the dynamics of power involved in a consumer forking over cash to a capitalist who profits off of mindless consumption. Also, "commodity feminism" leaves undisturbed questions of environmental destruction involved in mass producing goods, and the gross exploitation of the workers who make those goods. It also does not address issues of class, both concerning the people who make products, and those who lack the money to buy them. Also, simply having strong female characters in a show does not mean that they are not enforcing gender stereotypes. Girls may not be completely erased or portrayed as weak and stupid, but they are still portrayed in a way that is heteronormative, and in a way that still dictates ideas of what is and isn't appropriate for girls to do, wear, or say.

March 7, 2009

Grab Bag (BrainQuest Anyone?)

So I did some searching for ads and commercials. I found two extremely different ads but both grabbed my attention and I wanted tp write about them both. The first is a commercial by MTV (I'm not sure who else made the commercial), but it is extremely powerful and blunt. I was impressed and wish that it was actually airable in the U.S., but I believe it is a bit too provocative for that. Take a look for yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHgTj9rcK2c

Its juxtaposition with unsafe sex as something as violent as being shot to death is powerful. I'm glad a strong message of the importance of safe sex is out there, but I have no idea if this commercial was actually aired anywhere on television. This particular MTV ad (I believe they have many "banned" type commercials relating to the promotion of safe sex) pertains more to our class because of its focus on women. We have to be strong and smart enough to protect ourselves.

The second ad I came across was less serious, and more cute, related to the Girl Power kind of attitude that we talked about in class this past week. The ad shows a girl in braids playing video games, back when the Atari was the cool new video game to play:

http://www.retrojunk.com/img/art-images/girlgaming.jpg

I thought this was cool because things typically targeted towards boys were being targeted towards girls as well. It might not be quite as extensive as Clarissa Explains It All, but I still thought it was a pretty cool message. I probably like it so much just because I was one of those girls that was addicted to the video games when I was younger with N64 and my Pocket Gameboy, Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., and Star Fox were always favorites.

On a side note- the movie that Sierra mentioned in class, "Free to Be, You and Me" is on YouTube, just YouTube search it and it comes in like 14 different parts or something like that. Michael Jackson, from back when he was in the Jackson 5, is also in it. It has a pretty extensive cast- I only watched the first couple videos.

March 4, 2009

Vanity Fair

I apologize if this does not show up as an image, I am completely illiterate to this type of stuff, I know, I need to work on it. So in case my image does not work here is a like to my VANITY FAIR IMAGE.

What I see in this image, which I believe was done as a joke, is a gross double standard that women face. The funny gang of men who brought us Knocked Up, Forgetting Sara Marshall and Superbad recreated a 2006 cover of Vanity Fair pictured above the spoof photo. It seems to be perfectly alright to have these women (Scarlet Johanson and Kieren Knightly) to be seductively posed in the nude. Two women who are extremely thin and most likely have had a lot of touch ups within the photo. Contrasted with the men in the same positions but instead of being in the nude they are all in beige/tan body suits.

I think it's interesting because Vanity Fair has no problem with thin naked women but doesn't allow naked men. One may ask is it because these men don't have the perfect bodies? Is it just because they're men? Either way is it fair that the women lay strewn naked while the men are in body suits. I think it is always interesting how covered men stay within ads, movies, TV shows when women seem to always be naked, getting naked, or wearing something that's next to naked. Men don't need to exploit their bodies nearly as much women do to succeed, specifically in Hollywood.

Before this class I think I would have still found this double standard gross and still seen this image as a negative one. I think it just exemplifies how much the importance of looks forced on to women while it seems to skip over the men.