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