Saturday, December 29, 2012

Feminism in Film: Moonrise Kingdom

For more Feminism in Film, go here.

I just finished watching the Wes Anderson's film "Moonrise Kingdom". What a wonderfully charming movie! It is the first of his films that I've seen, but I'm definitely looking into the others.

Initial Thoughts
I heard lots of good things about this film from various people, mostly that it's a fun little movie. Which it was! I love that the scout group is called the "Khaki Scouts". Hi-larious.

The Critique
Overall, I enjoyed it. I kinda wish there was a female scout group because I think the similarities/differences between the two would have been really entertaining. Oh well, small potatoes.

I didn't particularly care for the scene in which Suzy and Sam dance and make-out on the beach. Maybe because they were in their underwear? I think I understand Anderson's intentions with the scene (firstly being that it's awkward, as are everyone's first encounters, and secondly being that these kids were exploring their sexualities). But still it left me unsettled. I don't really feel like it was necessary.

The Bechdel Test
*two named women? YES (Suzy, Laura Bishop)
*who talk to each other? YES (I should hope so-they're mother and daughter!)
*about something other than men? YES
          There was one scene, when Laura gives Suzy a bath. Suzy says she hates her mother and Laura talks about the hopelessness/uncertainty she feels in her own life. Frankly, I thought it was an interesting (and short) scene. I liked that Laura expressed her dissatisfaction with her home life and her choice to have an affair. I liked that Suzy openly displayed her feelings toward her mother. Good stuff. I wish conversations that real happened more often in film.

Final Rating
Three Stars

Fun times. Now off to watch Star Wars!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I've taken some time off from this blog to reconsider how I want to use it. As a theatre and gender studies double major, I want to combine the two fields a little more. Moving forward, you can expect the following:

1. Continuation of my Feminism in Film series as I work my way through the Oscar Best Picture winners.

2. Feminist analysis of plays

3. More coverage of current events

4. Book reviews

That's all for now!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fashion vs. Feminism

Yesterday, my family had a few family friends over to watch some football game. We somehow ended up on the topic of bad TV, and Mr. K (the husband of this other family) began to mock such shows as Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries, 90210, etc. Mrs. K turned and said that her daughter has begun to watch Gossip Girl and she's so embarrassed. Now, I watch Gossip Girl and I said as much. But then I went on...

"The storyline is horrible. The writing is abysmal. The acting is even worse. The only reason I watch it is for the pretty clothes."

My 18-year-old sister quickly turned and said, "What? Ms. Feminist watches a show for the clothes? Shame!"

The conversation continued without anyone realizing what my sister had said. But I was a little upset. Which leads me to a few thoughts:

1. No one can tell you which shows you should or should not like.

Everyone has their guilty pleasure shows. Be it Dance Moms, Gossip Girl, or Dr. Who, everyone has one. But no one has the right to mock you for your choice of enjoyment. I truly enjoy the beautiful outfits on Gossip Girl. So what?

2. I can be a feminist and someone who enjoys fashion.

The two are not mutually exclusive. This sort of perpetuates the stereotype of man-hating feminazis who burn their bras and don't wear makeup. Which isn't true. I can be a feminist who loves nice lingerie and quality makeup. I love beautiful clothing. This does not make me any less of a feminist.

I have not said anything to my sister, and I'm not sure if I will. It's pretty after the fact and I don't want to cause a scene. But I do want her to understand that feminism does not exclude traditionally feminine qualities.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

How to Have a Body Positive Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is all about food. And giving thanks. But mostly, it's about food.

Everyone struggles with their body image. Whether you wish your legs were longer, your biceps weren't so big, you had an hourglass shape, you wish your teeth were whiter, or your hair blonder. It's human nature to compare ourselves to others but that doesn't mean it's healthy. So how can we think positively about our bodies on a holiday that makes us question our bodies?

1. Love Yourself

This is easily the most important part of having a body positive holiday. Take a look at your body, but not in the mirror. Look down at yourself. Think about all of the amazing things your body can do. Do you play an instrument? Run marathons? Sculpt? Build things? Give birth? Rescue others? Do you read and write? Focus on your gifts and strengths. Give yourself compliments. Love your long brown hair? Love the little gap between your front teeth? What about those scars? Give thanks for the amazing things your body can do instead of narrowing in on how your hair isn't as blonde as Jennifer Aniston's.

2. Build Your Support Team

Surround yourself with people who take you higher. Everyone has that relative who comments on your body. Be pleasant and civil to him/her, but don't go out of your way. Instead, help with the cooking or join in a family game. By choosing who you spend time with, you can set yourself up for success.

3. Practice Self-Care

Take time for yourself! Go for a long walk, take a bubble bath, play with your pet, read a book, dance, go to the movies... the list never ends! Everyone needs to focus on themselves. It's easy to get swept into the stress of the holidays. By spending time with yourself, you can reenergize for later.

4. Set Boundaries

If you're spending time with your family and someone makes a comment on another person's body, you can politely say, "Oh, we don't say things like that here". Usually, people only need to hear that once or twice before they get the message. This is a great way to get your point across and set the tone for the evening without causing a scene. Instead of pouring over a tabloid, gather everyone outside for a lively family game! Or break out the cards for some poker! You can easily set the stage for a body positive, and fun, Thanksgiving holiday.

The holidays are stressful for everyone, no matter what your situation may be. Take time to be with yourself, spend time with your loved ones, and enjoy your day!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Good Reading This Week

"Women Aren't Funny - Gender and Stand-Up Comedy" offers a look at why society makes it harder for women to be funny.

An interesting article that really makes me want to read The Handmaid's Tale now: "Thoughts on the election, forgetting, and The Handmaid's Tale".

Some great thoughts about the use of the word 'girlcrush':"Girlcrush: It's the Little Things". I hate that word, too!

"'You Need to Be the Bad Guy': Disability and Abuse on Grey's Anatomy" offers some insight (that I had not thought of but now agree with) on the show's treatment of disabled characters.

This article really makes me happy because I dislike what Taylor Swift stands for: "No, Taylor Swift. No.".

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why I Love Feminism

What I love about feminism is that it gives women the go ahead to be whomever they want to be. If I want to marry young and be a stay-at-home-mom, that's acceptable. If I want to hold off on having kids because I would rather pursue a career, that's acceptable. If I want to juggle kids and a career, that's acceptable. If I want to dress like Sandy in Grease, power to me. If I prefer the more demure styles of the 1950s housewife, power to me. I can dress, speak, move, and act however I want. But only if it's what I want.

When I put on a low-cut top, tight jeans, and killer heels, it's because I know I look hot and I like looking hot. It makes me feel confident. I'm not choosing that outfit in the hopes of attracting some boy's eye. I'm not going to the gym to meet some buff gym rat, I'm there to become healthier. When I pick out a Halloween costume, I don't go for the traditional "slutty" costume. This year I was Leslie Winkle from The Big Bang Theory. Obviously sexy? Nope. She's wicked smart, has the same curly hair as me, and isn't afraid to speak her mind. Bonus-the costume is ridiculously easy to put together (jeans, t-shirt, hoodie).

My cousin is a sophomore in college. We lead very different lifestyles. This year for Halloween, she chose to dress as a "slutty Snow White". Now, I don't think I'm going out on a limb here when I say that she was not making a political statement about our oppressive patriarchal society and the pressure it puts on women to be sexy and available. She was just trying to look hot and get a guy's attention.

Like I said, feminism is about being who you want to be. But you have to dress, speak, move, and act that way because it's your choice. This is not about another man or another girl.

Who do you want to be?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wise Words on Depression

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” -Laurell K. Hamilton

“That's the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it's impossible to ever see the end.” -Elizabeth Wurtzel

“When you're lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you've just wandered off the path, that you'll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it's time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don't even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

“Some friends don't understand this. They don't understand how desperate I am to have someone say, I love you and I support you just the way you are because you're wonderful just the way you are. They don't understand that I can't remember anyone ever saying that to me. I am so demanding and difficult for my friends because I want to crumble and fall apart before them so that they will love me even though I am no fun, lying in bed, crying all the time, not moving. Depression is all about If you loved me you would.” -Elizabeth Wurtzel

“When you're surrounded by all these people, it can be lonelier than when you're by yourself. You can be in a huge crowd, but if you don't feel like you can trust anyone or talk to anybody, you feel like you're really alone.” -Fiona Apple

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Good Reading This Week

Adios Barbie has a great article on "Top Ten Myths about Transgender People".

Over at Feministing, a look at "Project Unspoken: 'It should be a right to walk down the street and be safe.'".

A really thoughtful post over at Bitch Flicks, “Disney Buys Star Wars: A New Hope for Women and Girls”, about the possibilities of more diverse Disney programming. 

An interesting article on the women (or lack thereof) in Supernatural: "Supernatural: Women in the Very Overstocked Fridge".

A fascinating post about the tendency for men to fix women in pop songs: "Fixable You".

A male's opinion of No Shave November: "The Shave and the Shame: Problems with Movember".

This title says it all: "Because you can't care about everything: Activist burnout, guilt and love".

Monday, November 12, 2012

Feminism in Film: Braveheart

My next post in my reviews of Best Picture winning films! See all posts in this series here.

Initial Thoughts
This film is long. Three hours long. Now, I’m no stranger to long films (Gone With the Wind is my favorite and I’ve seen Cloud Atlas twice), but Braveheart was too long. Also blood. Blood everywhere.

The Critique
In Braveheart, the English King Edward I decides to bring back Primae Noctis. That’s when a common Scottish girl gets married and British lords have the right to have sex with her on her wedding night. Let’s be real here.  Old men get to rape a young girl because they’re on a big power trip. A quick google search proves that not only is the concept of Primae Noctis most likely a myth, but the English certainly never enforced it on Scotland. So...rape makes a compelling plot point? The story was a little boring so let’s liven it up a bit with rape? 

Rape appears to be a catalyst for this movie. Mel Gibson's character Wilson marries Murron, who dies just 45 minutes into the movie. Some English soldiers are attracted to her and attempt to rape her. But she fights back! Yay! And then her throat is slit to attract Wilson's attention.

Princess Isabelle of France is sent by the King to discuss terms of a surrender. Wilson is shocked at the thought of having this conversation with her and she says, "Will you speak with a woman?" Apparently that little question sparked a romance between the two, for later on they have sex and Isabelle conceives his child. But isn't he in love with Murron? Isn't that really what all of these battles are about? Whatevs, man, Wilson had the opportunity to get laid and he took it.

When Isabelle returns from speaking with Wilson, the King asks if she gave him the money. When she replied that it was donated, the King laughed and said "That's what happens when you send a woman".  Quite the subtle (note the sarcasm) jab about women's roles. Can't trust a woman to do anything important, am I right?

Also...this film had an all white cast. I'm not up to date on my history of Scotland, but that can't be right.

The Bechdel Test
*two named women? YES (Princess Isabelle, Murron)
*who talk to each other? NO
*about something other than men? N/A
            The women never speak to each other. The women are completely alone in a film that celebrates the triumph of masculinity. For god's sake, the final image of film is a sword. Phallic much?

Final Rating
0 stars

Awful movie.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Wise Words on Eating Disorders

"There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn't matter anymore. I am thawing.” -Laurie Halse Anderson

“We turn skeletons into goddesses and look to them as if they might teach us how not to need.” -Marya Hornbacher

“A cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty but an obsession about female obedience.” -Naomi Wolf

“And, what's more, this 'precious' body, the very same that is hooted and honked at, demeaned both in daily life as well as in ever existing form of media, harrassed, molested, raped, and, if all that wasn't enough, is forever poked and prodded and weighed and constantly wrong for eating too much, eating too little, a million details which all point to the solitary girl, to EVERY solitary girl, and say: Destroy yourself.” -Emilie Autumn

“Women who love themselves are threatening; but men who love real women, more so.” -Naomi Wolf

“...compulsive eating is basically a refusal to be fully alive. No matter what we weigh, those of us who are compulsive eaters have anorexia of the soul. We refuse to take in what sustains us. We live lives of deprivation. And when we can't stand it any longer, we binge. The way we are able to accomplish all of this is by the simple act of bolting -- of leaving ourselves -- hundreds of times a day.” -Geneen Roth

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Love Your Body

There are a vast amount of contradictory messages on body image.

The problem with these messages is that each one heralds a specific body type. Be it curvy, thin, fit, or something in between, each message prioritizes one look over all others.

I think that these messages mean well. By trying to accept certain body characteristics, these messages hope to inspire women to embrace their bodies. But what happens when a young girl or even a woman sees to many "thinspo" pictures? She begins to critically analyze her own body and see only her flaws. This harmful outlook triggers eating disorders. Should the opposite of "thinspo" then be better? Not necessarily. "Fitspo" images do promote a healthier body type, however they still encourage the viewer to critically analyze their own body. It's a double edged sword. Either a woman notices there's no gap between her thighs or her biceps aren't muscular enough.

Clearly, our culture has body acceptance issues. The mainstream media needs to teach girls and women how to appreciate their own unique body. Every body truly is different. No two bodies carry weight the same way, are shaped the same way, or have the same metabolism. I don't know what the new message would be, though. "Stop hating your body" is the least descriptive of one specific body type, but I don't like its negative connotation. There should be no body hating. Only body loving.

Love your body.

Further Reading
From Genderly Speaking: "Skinny, Curvy, and Still not Fitting the Mold"
From Adios, Barbie: "Minnie Mouse Doesn't Need a Model Makeover"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Good Reading This Week

Over at Brute Reason (written by a friend from school!), a great post about the horribly campaigns for breast cancer awareness and research: "Save the People, Not the Boobies: The Ethics of Breast Cancer Awareness".

"The Darker Side of Pink: Part 2" is a super informative post about the problems of current breast cancer awareness campaigns.

"The Naked Clam and Other Preposterous Public Hair Problems" offers a great look into pleasing only yourself.

"Domestic Violence: Everybody's Issue" over at Fem2.0 explores the importance of violence against women as an issue we all face.

Interesting look at blanket statements, generalizations, and feminism: "Things I Learned From My Feminist Theory Class (or, I Am a Bad Feminist)".

"How Romney Would Treat Women". New York Times. Read it. Now. Vote on Tuesday.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Feminism in Film: Crash

My next post in my reviews of Best Picture winning films! See all posts in this series here.

Initial Thoughts
I saw this film once several years ago. The only things I really remembered is that this film is about racism and there is a little girl. After seeing it again, I have incredibly mixed feelings.

The Critique
Good lord, the racism! The film's message (everyone is racist) was driven home over and over. I feel like it didn't have to be so intense, nor do I think this is how the majority of people actually behave. Furthermore, the film didn't have much to say about what needs to be done differently. The feeling I'm left with is that we're all screwed because everyone judges everyone based on the color of their skin.

There were also men and women of color. Which is great. Except for the fact that this film necessitated men and women of color. It wasn't that Loretta Devine was by far the best actress for her role. It's that Shaniqua needed to be a black woman with an incredibly stereotypical name. Not only are the characters' actions in this film racist, but the characters themselves are stereotyped. Come on. The white woman who is terrified of black men? The young black men who are "gang bangers"? The Latino man working as a locksmith? I feel like everyone thinks this film is so important because it is so brutally honest about race. Which it is. No one avoids race here. But that was so obviously the point, that it's absurd.

Also. Can we talk about the scene in which Thandie Newton's character is sexually assaulted? What the hell.

The Bechdel Test
*two named women? YES (Elizabeth, Jean, Shaniqua, Ria, Karen, Christine)
*who talk to each other? MEH...
*about something other than men? MEH...
            Yes, there were named women. But I had to look their names up online because the majority of them weren't mentioned often enough to remember. This is partly the fault of having such a large cast. But do these women talk to each other? BARELY. I counted only three conversations between women in this film. The first, was before either character was named and it lasted maybe 10 seconds. The next, was between Jean (played by Sandra Bullock) and her housekeeper, Maria. The two briefly chat about Jean's son (doesn't count. He's a man.) before moving on to the dishes for two seconds. BUT THEN. There is a "tender" moment in which Jean embraces Maria and declares her "my best friend". Which frankly is ground-breaking. A white woman is best friends with her Latina housekeeper?! Shocking! But Maria doesn't say a word! This relationship (and conversation) is completely one sided! Ultimately, I am saying NO, this film does not pass the Bechdel Test.

Final Rating
One star

So far, these Best Picture winners are not faring so well!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wise Words on Missing Someone

"Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night.  I miss you like hell." -Edna St Vincent Millay

"Parting is all we know of heaven and all we need to know of hell." -Emily Dickinson

"Every parting is a form of death, as every reunion is a type of heaven.  ~Tryon Edwards

"In true love the smallest distance is too great, and the greatest distance can be bridged." 
-Hans Nouwens

"Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together?  I guess that wouldn't work.  Someone would leave.  Someone always leaves.  Then we would have to say good-bye.  I hate good-byes.  I know what I need.  I need more hellos." -Charles M. Schulz

"Missing someone gets easier every day because even though it's one day further from the last time you saw each other, it's one day closer to the next time you will." -Author Unknown

"I think we dream so we don't have to be apart so long.  If we're in each other's dreams, we can play together all night." -Bill Watterson

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Good Reading This Week

An interesting look at the TV series, Modern Family: "How Modern is Modern Family?"

Great post at Crates and Ribbons about the modern day problems with Halloween costumes: "Avoiding the Pitfalls of Halloween".

Yes, this post is three years old, but I don't care. I only just discovered it and I think it's brilliant: "Schrodinger's Rapist: Or a Guy's Guide to Approaching Strange Women Without Being Maced".

It seems "Taylor Swift is Not a Feminist".

Stop right now and read this: "How I Lost Faith in the 'Pro-Life' Movement".

I really loved this article on women's "fuckability": "Women's Worth as a Function of Desirability to Men".

Monday, October 29, 2012

Wise Words on Love

“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.” -Pablo Neruda

“I heard what you said. I’m not the silly romantic you think. I don’t want the heavens or the shooting stars. I don’t want gemstones or gold. I have those things already. I want…a steady hand. A kind soul. I want to fall asleep, and wake, knowing my heart is safe. I want to love, and be loved.” -Shana Abé

“And, in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.” -Paul McCartney

“They say when you are missing someone that they are probably feeling the same, but I don't think it's possible for you to miss me as much as I'm missing you right now”  -Edna St. Vincent Millay

“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get - only with what you are expecting to give - which is everything” -Katharine Hepburn

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Feminism in Film: Shakespeare in Love

Each week, I'll be watching and reviewing one Oscar winning Best Picture film. I wanted to go in order by year, but I'm limited to what's immediately available on Netflix because there is no Blockbuster near me at school.

Reviewing, that is, in terms of feminism and if the film passes the Bechdel Test. What is the Bechdel Test? In order to pass, a film must have at least two named women who talk to each other about something other than men.

First up? Shakespeare in Love!

Initial Thoughts
I have always loved this film. As a theatre major who loves Shakespeare, this film is wonderful. Full of references to his works. Also, Joseph Fiennes is fiercely attractive and Gwyneth Paltrow is excellent.

The Critique
Shakespeare in Love definitely highlights a noble woman's responsibility during Queen Elizabeth's reign. In one scene between Lord Wessex and Viola's father, Wessex asks if Viola is obedient, the reply is "As any mule in Christendom - but if you are the man to ride her, there are rubies in the saddlebag". How awful! The two men also discuss whether she will breed. Disgusting. But, this type of conversation was commonplace at the time. Queen Elizabeth refers to Viola as being "plucked", meaning she is no longer a virgin. I for one am glad that no one actually says that anymore. As if virginity is the only thing a woman has to offer a man.

But there is something to be said for a woman pretending to be a male actor. It's a brilliant play on Shakespeare's comedies, for women were always pretending to be men. Viola was not allowed to be an actor, so she pretended to be a man. I love Queen Elizabeth's quote, "I know something of a woman in a man's profession. Yes, by God, I do know about that". Pure brilliance.  

The Bechdel Test
*two named women? YES (Rosaline, Queen Elizabeth, Viola)
*who talk to each other? YES (Queen Elizabeth and Viola)
*about something other than men? MEH... 
        I'm on the fence about this last part. Yes, Queen Elizabeth and Viola talk to each other, in the one conversation between two women. They have a brief conversation about whether a play can truly depict the nature of love. Do they talk about men? No. But they talk about love. To me, that's basically the same thing. Viola is directly referencing her relationship with Shakespeare, who is a man. During Elizabethan times, love was strictly between a man and a woman. So while technically no men are mentioned during this exceptionally brief conversation, I am ultimately saying NO, this film does not pass the Bechdel Test.

Final Rating
Two stars

More named women who have lengthy conversations, please! I sure do hope the other Oscar winners fare better.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Good Reading This Week

Over at The New York Times, a look at reality TV and its stereotyping of women and minorities in "Putting Women Back in the Kitchen".

I love me some Mad Men, but "Bitterness by request: Don Draper, the terrible role model."

A fascinating article over at Crates and Ribbons, "Why We Cannot Eradicate Homophobia by Ignoring the Nick Griffins of the World".

Do you know "What the Presidential Candidates Aren't Talking About"? I would add women's rights to this list. Not coming up in the debates AT ALL.

An interesting study of male runners and women watching them: "The Female Gaze Redux".

Great article, "The Darker Side of Pink", about breast cancer awareness month.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Is Sofia Really the First?

Have you heard about the new Disney Princess?

I take several issues with this movie.

1) The plot focuses around a little girl learning how to be a "proper princess".
Sofia looks to be about six years old. Granted, it's hard to tell because Disney always messes with characters' proportions. So little Sofia might be a little older. Let's give her the benefit of the doubt and say eight. How many eight year old girls are primarily concerned with being a "proper princess"? Of course, lots of girls (and boys!) play pretend/dress-up. But they do all sorts of other things, too. Why doesn't Sofia dream of saving her country? Why doesn't she dream of running her own business? Why doesn't she dream of being a scholar?

2) Sofia's relationship with her step-sister (Amber) is one of jealousy, not friendship.
When is the media going to learn that female characters can be friends?! What, is the movie too boring if there isn't some sort of female rivalry? These characters are young girls. I honestly don't see why they can't be friends. I should think that Sofia (who had no siblings before) and Amber (who only had a brother before) would welcome the chance to be sisters.

3) The young girls are focused on appearances.
According to the character descriptions (written from Sofia's point of view), "She [Amber] wears the best dresses and prettiest tiaras". This connects to my previous points. Amber's wardrobe shouldn't be her defining characteristic. Whatever happened to smart, caring, brave? Are Amber's good looks really all that Sofia sees in her?

4) Yet another white princess is joining the ranks.
I know, Sofia isn't joining the ranks of official Princesses (Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Aurora, Ariel, Jasmine, and Tiana). But still. The creators have clarified that Sofia's mother has darker skin because she is Latina. Which therefore makes Sofia Latina. What's weird, though, is that Sofia seems to have been whitened. Is Disney trying to get away with a Latina princess without actually making her Latina? I understand that there are varying degrees of ethnicity. Two people could be equally of the same ethnicity, and one has darker skin or one has lighter eyes. It happens. But I think if Disney is trying to take stand by having the first princess's mother be Latina, then Sofia needs to be more clearly Latina looking.

Overall, I am highly disappointed. Which is frustrating, because I want there to be a Latina princess. We need to get over this initial hump of 'the first' and then there will be more. But Sofia does not cut it in my books.

Further Reading
'Sofia the First': Is Disney's First Latina Princess 'Hispanic Enough?'

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Wise Words on Grief

My mom died two months ago.
There are no words for what I'm going through.
But the quotes below somehow manage to get it right.

“God, but life is loneliness, despite all the opiates, despite the shrill tinsel gaiety of "parties" with no purpose, despite the false grinning faces we all wear. And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter - they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship - but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.” -Sylvia Plath

“It's so curious: one can resist tears and 'behave' very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer... and everything collapses. ”  -Colette

“It is useless for me to describe to you how terrible Violet, Klaus, and even Sunny felt in the time that followed. If you have ever lost someone very important to you, then you already know how it feels, and if you haven't, you cannot possibly imagine it.”  -Lemony Snicket

"People think they know you. They think they know how you're handling a situation. But the truth is no one knows. No one knows what happens after you leave them, when you're lying in bed or sitting over your breakfast alone and all you want to do is cry or scream. They don't know what's going on inside your head--the mind-numbing cocktail of anger and sadness and guilt. This isn't their fault. They just don't know. And so they pretend and they say you're doing great when you're really not. And this makes everyone feel better. Everybody but you.” -William H. Woodwell Jr.

“When one person is missing the whole world seems empty.” -Pat Schweibert

“Hearing him talk about his mother, about his intact family, makes my chest hurt for a second, like someone pierced it with a needle.” -Veronica Roth

“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe their husband is about to return and need his shoes.” -Joan Didion

Friday, October 19, 2012

Do You Call the Midwife?

My dad has been trying to get me to watch the BBC's Call the Midwife (running on PBS here in the States) for weeks now. I finally gave in, climbed into bed with my laptop, and prepared myself to see what all his fuss was about.

Holy cow.

The show is really well done. Which isn't that surprising, considering that it's a BBC series. Call the Midwife, based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, focuses on a group of nuns and nurses working as midwives in the East End in the 1950s.

I must say, I don't think I've ever been so grateful to be a woman living in the modern world as I am watching this show. Back in the day, a woman needed to be shaved and have an enema (all while in labor) before delivery. Thankfully, modern medicine has taught us that neither of those are actually necessary and can actually cause infection more often than not.

More importantly, I am consistently struck by the pregnant women's stories. And this show has seen it all: giving birth to her 25th child, rickets that caused the mother to have four stillborn children, breeched babies, prostitution, forced adoption, STDs, and affairs. Quite a lot for just three episodes.

Jill Moffett wrote a great article for Bitch, "Five Things Republicans Can Learn about Health Policy from Call the Midwife". I agree with all of her points. I think that a lot of problems women faced in the 1950s are still dealt with today. Sure, we have better medications and more highly trained physicians. But what about the women who can't afford health care? What about the women who don't have access to birth control? What about the women in an abusive relationship whose partners prevent them from asserting their right to choose?

I think everyone should watch Call the Midwife. Our reproductive past is intimately linked to our reproductive future.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Good Reading This Week

On,  a wonderful article about Jezebel's new sex advice column, entitled "Sexytime Dilemmas: Rape, Feminazis, and Grammar". And in case you were curious, here's the infamous column from Jezebel itself: "Sexytime Dilemmas: Facials, Masturbation, and Butt Fingering".

"The Black Sheep of Feminism"-an interesting article about lipstick feminists and their questioned value as feminists.

A reminder on The Huffington Post on why we need to vote for Obama, in "Women Need to Remember the Real Mitt Romney on November 6".

A short article from earlier this year, "Pro-Life or Anti-Sex?", explores the conservatives who are Pro-Life only when it comes to abortion.

An older, but fascinating article on the tryouts for the Lingerie Football League Australia, "Try outs for Lingerie Football league Australia - verbal abuse and repeatedly called p*****s".

If you haven't seen "Fuck No Sexist Halloween Costumes" on Tumblr, then you need to get on it.

Bitch does a great article, "Enough about Saving the Boobs. What about Saving Women's Lives?" on's campaign to raise money for breast cancer awareness month.

And finally, "S#!t this feminist says (that she shouldn't)" from can be bitter.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Weighted Words

The New York Times recently published an article, "Female Stars Step Off the Scale". Author Alessandra Stanley cites such examples as Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Lady Gaga, Molly Tarlov, Rebel Wilson, Christina Aguilera, Christina Hendricks, and Kat Dennings. But let's take a closer look...

It's true that more diverse body types are shown on TV. But their bodies are the exception, not the rule. The women chosen in this article are the only women who don't fit the current hegemonic culture's beauty ideal. All of these women are well-known but primarily because of their weight. Type 'Christina Aguilera' into Google. Notice how the first search suggestion is 'Christina Aguilera weight'? The same applies to Christina Hendricks (her cup size is also frequently searched), Kat Dennings, and Molly Tarlov. Curiously, Rebel Wilson's name is the only Google search that brings up 'weight loss'. Why is it that these women, who aren't the Hollywood stereotype, are synonymous with weight? Why don't we hear these names and think of the Grammy awards, the Emmy nominations, the hit TV shows, the indie films, the brilliant comedic timing?

I believe that Stanley meant well when writing this article. By calling attention to the 'curvy women' on TV, then society is taking a step in the right direction toward total body acceptance. But the fact that this article exists is the problem. Stanley, just like every other media source, has connected these women's names with their weights. This problem won't go away just because a few 'curvy women' are in the spotlight. We have a long road ahead of us, America.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Taking Advantage of "The Kiss"

This image, taken on the day World War II ended in 1945, is arguably one of the most famous photographs in history. Just looking at it, I'm overwhelmed by the joy and emotions that Americans felt that day-so much so that a young couple kissed passionately, unknowingly in front of a photographer. But new light has been shed on this popular photo and not all is as it appears.

An article from Crates and Ribbons a few weeks ago launched this couple into the blogging world. I admit, until I read this article, I did not know that the couple had been identified, much less the real circumstances surrounding the photo. 

The couple was finally identified in 1980 as Greta Zimmer Friedman and George Mendonsa, a dental nurse and sailor, respectively. Is this a photo of a joyous couple? Not at all, actually. It turns out that the two didn't even know each other. Mendonsa was drunk, saw Friedman, grabbed her, and kissed her. Cue world-famous photo. 

What was Friedman's reaction to his public display of affection? She has been quoted as saying, "It wasn't my choice to be kissed...The guy just came over and grabbed!" and "I did not see him approaching, and before I know it, I was in this vice grip" and “You don’t forget this guy grabbing you” and “That man was very strong. I wasn’t kissing him. He was kissing me.”

Obviously, this photo is not what we assumed. The article from Crates and Ribbons (mentioned earlier) considers this photo's contribution to rape culture. I agree with that author. Yes, this photo was taken in a different time, and yes, these were extenuating circumstances, and yes, it was just a kiss. But that does not give anyone the right to sexually engage without consent. If this society condones this behavior, that simply makes it acceptable for others to repeat it. Sure, it's just a kiss. But a kiss can very quickly turn into much more. 

More Articles on "The Kiss" From
Crates and Ribbons (the second part of articles on this topic)
CBS News
Daily Mail
Huffington Post

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Just Beginning

It has been three weeks and four days since I lost my mom.

There's no good way to say it. Nothing feels right. 'My mom died'. 'My mom passed away'. They're all so final, so passive, so...wrong.

I have so many thoughts running through my mind lately. I came to the decision (not sure how brilliant it is) that I should write down my feelings. I don't pretend to know everything about grief and death. Frankly, I know absolute nothing except for how I feel. But if there is one thing I've learned in the past few weeks, it is that everyone deals with grief and death differently. Maybe my jumbled thoughts will be able to help someone. I don't know. Right now, I need to help me.