Thursday, January 31, 2013

Disney Princesses Redux

In case you haven't heard, Disney has revamped the look of their princesses. 

For the most part, the differences are minor. There seems to be a lot more glitter/sparkles, and several princesses have this slightly messed-up hair. Which is definitely a different look. Is this supposed to be a statement that princesses are real people too? That's debatable.

I would now like to bring your attention to two of the princesses: Pocahontas and Mulan. #problems

This is the revamped Pocahontas. 

This is the original Pocahontas.

1. Her clothes becomes more elaborately decorated.
2. Do I detect blush?
3. The earrings.
These changes are problematic because they contradict Pocahontas's character. This is a woman who preferred to roll around in the grass, talk to animals, and listen to the colors of the wind. It seemed to me like she could have cared less what was dangling from her ears.

This is the revamped Mulan.

This is the original Mulan.

1. Is it just me, or do her eyes have a bluish tint?
2. Blush.
3. A completely new outfit.
4. Whitewashing.

Mulan's new look is completely out of character. We only see her dressed in traditional women's attire in the beginning of the movie, and the story clearly depicts how unhappy she is with conforming to society's expectations of her. She is definitely uncomfortable with the clothes, makeup, and hairstyle. She actually spends the majority of the movie in more traditional male attire. Which makes sense seeing as it's difficult to train as a soldier in a tight skirt. But in this new illustration, Mulan has been whitewashed to fit our expectation and standards of beauty. 

Frankly, I'm very disappointed in these changes. I don't know why the princesses needed to be redone. They seemed just fine the way they are. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

On John Boehner's Crusade to End Abortion

Earlier this week (at March for Life, an anti-abortion protest), House Speaker John Boehner announced his intention to ban abortion permanently.

Here is the first part of his plan: make the Hyde Amendment permanent.

The Hyde Amendment prevents certain federal funding from paying for abortions, with exceptions for incest and rape. It passed in 1976 in response to Roe v. Wade.

First of all, the government has no right to tell a woman what she can and can not do with her body. Her choice in what to do with a pregnancy is exactly that. Her. Choice.

Second, even if legislation is put in place outlawing abortions, do anti-choicers really believe that abortions will disappear? If anything, anti-choice legislation creates an even more dangerous situation for women. If there is no safe space to turn to for an abortion, she will either take matters into her own hands or seek help in an unsafe way.

Please, John Boehner. Come to your senses and back away from women's bodies. They are not yours to legislate.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Women Finally Allowed in Combat

In case you hadn't heard, the Pentagon recently decided to end the ban on women in combat roles.


Of course, many people are upset about this decision for numerous reasons, including...

  • women can't keep up
  • women aren't as physically capable
  • it's difficult for male soldiers to bond when women soldiers are there
  • women are distracting, especially in a sexual way
  • the living conditions will be too unhygienic 
Could I personally be able to fight someone in hand-to-hand combat? No. Could I personally handle the psychological toll of war? No. THAT'S WHY I HAVEN'T ENLISTED IN THE MILITARY.

The women who have already enlisted? They can do these things that so many protesters believe they can't. And you know what? Women who want to be in the military will enlist. They're not going to go away just because some ignorant men can't handle the thought of them doing a job as equally well as men. 

I realize that this stigma is going to last for a long time. It's unfortunate, though. How long until I wake up in a world in which a woman's capability isn't questioned solely because she is a woman?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Feminism in Film: The Little Mermaid

For my other Feminism in Film posts, go here.

Initial Thoughts
I love many of the songs from The Little Mermaid. They're great for sing alongs!

The Critique

It should be noted that Ariel is the first princess to dream about something other than a man. She sings about walking on land, not of finding true love. Go girl! But...the only reason she seeks an actual change is because she sees Eric and wants to be with him. Which is not so great. Also, Eric wasn't the one spying on Ariel. She spies on him! Definitely a change from the previous movies. However, I'm really tired of Disney couples becoming madly in love when they don't even know each other's names. This is so not realistic.

Ariel's relationship with her father is also worth noting. He is very restrictive on where she is allowed to go and what she is allowed to do. Symbol of the our repressive patriarchal society? Possibly. Ariel dreams of a different world and her father won't allow her to follow her dreams. That's some bad parenting right there.

Oh, look! Still no female friendships!

Ursula definitely falls under the category of Evil Demon Seductress, which is a common trope. While Ursula may not be traditionally sexy at first, she transforms herself into Vanessa. Vanessa then proceeds to manipulate and seduce Eric.

White washing. But a Jamaican crab? I also don't care for the stereotyped French chef. I mean, come on.

She is known for her singing voice, which is at least a skill. The previous princesses were only known for their beauty. But let's get right down to the biggest problem: Ariel trades her voice for legs. She gives up her right to speak. She is a woman who has been silenced. Ursula actually has lines that include "you have your looks, your pretty face, and don't underestimate the importance of body language", and that men "prefer for girls not to say a's she who holds her tongue that gets the man". SO MANY PROBLEMS.  A woman should never have to change for a man.

Eric is the one who ultimately destroys Ursula. So once again, the princess doesn't save herself.

The Bechdel Test
*two named women? YES (Ariel, Ursula)
*who talk to each other? YES
*about something other than men? NO
Their only conversation takes place when they strike a bargain to turn Ariel into a human so she can get Eric. Ursula gives her some tips on how to get a man - mainly, don't talk.

Final Rating
Two and a Half Stars

Feminism in Film: Sleeping Beauty

For my other Feminism in Film posts, go here.

Initial Thoughts
I honestly could not remember anything about this movie. I wasn't really looking forward to watching it, either. But it was the next movie in our line-up, so off we went!

The Critique
The three fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, bestow gifts upon the baby princess- beauty ("hair of sunshine gold and lips red as the rose"), song, and true love's kiss will break the sleeping curse. The latter is a very practical gift and I like that a woman did what she could to save another woman. However I don't understand why beauty must be a qualification to be a princess. Why couldn't the fairies have made sure Aurora was intelligent? Or curious?

So why does Maleficent cast a curse on Aurora? Because she wasn't invited to a party and she was jealous of a baby's beauty. Seriously? Don't these high-powered women have anything better to concern themselves with? And why can't the women stop hating on other women?

The fairies take Aurora away to raise her, which I like. Three women working together to rise a child!

I think the pink/blue debate for Aurora's dress is great. Merryweather challenges traditional gender stereotypes!

Aurora is betrothed to a young Prince Phillip. Not a fan of betrothals! I know that in this movie they ultimately end up together, but why did they have to be forced together by their parents? Shouldn't their children be allowed to choose their spouse?

When do Aurora and Phillip meet (after their initial meeting when they were betrothed)? He spies her singing in the forest and goes up to her. He says they met "once upon a dream". CREEPY. STALKER. STRANGER DANGER.


Aurora knows absolutely nothing about Phillip! She won't even tell him her name! He asks when he can see her again, and she says "never"! NO MEANS NO.

Prince Phillip saves her. These princesses need to start learning how to save themselves.

Also, white washing. White washing everywhere.

The Bechdel Test
*two named women? YES (Aurora, Maleficent, Flora, Fauna, Merryweather)
*who talk to each other? YES 
*about something other than men? YES (fairies discuss how to save Aurora)
This is the first Disney princess movie with more than one "good" female character. It's refreshing to finally see a change! The fairies want to protect Aurora, and do everything in their power to keep her safe from harm. Ultimately, they fail. But to err is human.

Final Rating
Two Stars

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Feminism in Film: Cinderella

For the rest of my Feminism in Film Posts, go here.

Initial Thoughts
The is my other sister's favorite movie! We're going through them all in order.

The Critique
Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella hate on Cinderella. Why? Because Cinderella is kind, sweet, classy, and beautiful. Lady Tremaine allows her daughters to sabotage Cinderella's dress and then locks her in the tower. There's some Queen/Snow White dynamics going on here. Granted, Lady Tremaine isn't as brutal as The Queen. But still. Cinderella is cast into non-existence because she is a good person.

However, I don't really understand why Anastasia and Drizella need to be unattractive physically. Over and over again, we are given examples of how unattractive their personalities are. So Cinderella is the only one who is allowed to be beautiful? Why can't these women be solely evaluated based on their character?

The only female friendship is between the Fairy Godmother and Cinderella. All the other women gang up on her. I really wish the princesses had friends who weren't animals. It's just not very practical.

Whitewashing, again. No people of color here!

In this movie, the prince actually gets to talk to Cinderella. Which is a vast improvement from Snow White's prince. But still. He wants to marry her after a few hours! Not exactly realistic.

Cinderella doesn't save herself. She relies on two male mice to retrieve the key to her locked tower bedroom. And then she is safe from her wicked stepmother by marrying the king.

The Bechdel Test
*two named women? YES (Cinderella, Fairy Godmother, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella)
*who talk to each other? YES
*about something other than men? YES (usually chores, also Cinderella's presence at the ball)
I don't really know why these women are so bitter towards the princesses.

Final Rating
Two Stars

Friday, January 18, 2013

Feminism in Film: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

For my other Feminism in Film posts, go here.

Initial Thoughts
This is one of my sister's favorite movies. I've never liked it. But I decided to give it a go!

The Critique

The Queen is highly obsessed with beauty. She goes so far as attempted murder so she can remain the most beautiful in the land. I really don't like the way this movie portrays older women: terrified of turning old. I understand that both men and women do not enjoy some of the effects of aging, but it isn't  the only thing on their minds. Why can't we see The Queen ruling her kingdom? Why can't we see her dealing with Kings and Queens from neighboring realms?

On a similar note, Snow White is only known for her beauty. I understand that this is to be taken as a compliment, but she does have other qualities. Her entire purpose should not be reduced to her appearance. She is incredibly kind (she takes the "killing with kindness" thought quite seriously) and very good with both people and animals. Why couldn't we focus on that? On that note, however, Snow White's only way to make a livelihood is by cooking and cleaning. She conveniently fits into the housewife stereotype.

This movie is so incredibly white washed. Not a single character of color. I guess I shouldn't be surprised because of when this movie was released, but still.

So...the prince. A bit of a stalker? He spies her over a giant wall, leaps in, SCARES HER, and then proclaims his love for her. Also, he's the only one who can save her. White Knight complex? Damsel in Distress?


The Bechdel Test
*two named women? YES (Snow White, The Queen)
*who talk to each other? YES
*about something other than men? YES (delicious apples)
So the only time Snow White and The Queen actually talk to each other is when The Queen disguises herself as an old woman so she can poison Snow White. Not exactly female friendly... To that extent, there are NO female friendships in this movie! Of the only two female characters, one is trying (desperately) to kill the other!

Final Rating

Two Stars

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Women of the Oscar Nominations - Miss Representation

I recently became a Social Action Rep with Miss Representation! I will be blogging my thoughts on women in the media.

Let's talk about the lack of female nominees at the Oscars.

Now, there are a handful nominated for producing in the Best Picture category: Stacey Sher (Django Unchained), Pilar Savone (Django Unchained), Debra Hayward (Les MisĂ©rables), Kathleen Kennedy (Lincoln), Donna Gigliotti (Silver Linings Playbook), Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison (Zero Dark Thirty). Five out of nine movies had one or more female producers.

For Animated Feature Film? There's only Brenda Chapman, for Brave.

For Cinematography? Zero.

For Directing? Zero.

For Original Score? Zero.

For Adapted Screenplay? Only Lucy Alibar, for Beasts of the Southern Wild.

For Original Screenplay? Zero.

Perhaps it would be easier to visualize this discrepancy in a graph, as the lovely people of Bitch Flicks have so kindly done for us: 

Now, it's not like women are not out there in all of these careers. But time and again, the Academy chooses to nominate more men than women in arguably the more "technical" areas.

What will it take for more women to be nominated? I know that some will argue that it's not the Academy's fault. That the best and most talented contributors just happen to be male. So then who actually needs to deal with this problem?

I do think the Academy needs to nominate more women. But at the same time, movies need to utilize more women. If you don't hire a female director, she can never be nominated. If you don't hire a female  to do the visual effects, she can never be nominated.

I do hope the 2014 Oscar nominations fare better.

Further Reading

The views and statements in this message do not necessarily reflect those of Miss and their leadership. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Debunking the Feminist Nazi Meme

You've probably seen the 'Feminist Nazi' meme floating around the internet. 
Yes, it's offensive. But it's also full of incorrect statements. 
Below are some debunked "notable examples". 

Actually, women used to be diagnosed with hysteria by doctors in the 19th century. It was sort of a catch-all diagnosis for any problem a woman might have. Often, however, it was used for "troubled" women. So does calling attention to a stereotype make me hysterical? Apparently it does, according to this meme. Google image search 'hysterical men'. Pictures of Steve Carell and Zack Galifianakis pops up. Google image search 'hysterical women' and suddenly you've got pictures of women screaming and being violent. That's a problem. Oh, by the way: the cure for female hysteria? Orgasms. 

Ok, so here we get into slut-shaming and rape culture. Men and women can wear whatever they damn well want. Both genders should be able to leave the house in whatever makes them feel comfortable and not be judged, harassed, or violated. Unfortunately, we live in a patriarchal society where the opposite takes place. If a woman puts on a bikini, then she's "asking for it". Right? WRONG. SO WRONG. It is incredibly humiliating to be ogled and examined like a cow at a country fair. 

Actually, that's wrong. 
Women have been pushing to join the front lines for decades. 
It's the government that doesn't want to allow it. See here.

The word 'pussy', when used as an insult, is most often 
used by men to describe other men. 
It is a way of criticizing another man's masculinity. 
See this incredibly well written (cue eye roll) article by a man for a mens blog.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Slut Shaming via Tumblr

So you may have seen this article on BuzzFeed, "Girl-On-Girl Crime: The 'Did You Know' Slut-Shamers of Tumblr". In case you're unfamiliar with the 'Did You Know' meme, here's a quick review of the original post and then here's a recap of the response to it.

It all originated with this extremely photo-shopped photo on Tumblr. Catch the irony here? Honestly, I think his intentions were good. But as Jezebel and Slacktory pointed out, their well-meaning message is actually one of misogynistic slut-shaming.


1. Women do not need a man's validation. See a recent post on Animals Talking in All Caps, which happens to be a fav of mine.

2. What the young man is referring to in this photo is, I believe, the "natural look". Now, speaking as a young woman, I do not go out of the house in my "natural" state. I take the time to do my hair, makeup, and put on nice clothing because that is my choice. If a woman does not want to do any of the above, or a mix of the above, then cool. Her choice. But the "natural look" that this man is referring to requires careful makeup application and styled hair. So one does, in fact, need makeup to look beautiful because that is the society we live in (see the New York Times discussion about the value of makeup for women).

3. This photo is an excellent example of girl-on-girl slut-shaming. Obviously, everyone is entitled to their own opinions regarding dress and their own personal choices of how to dress themselves. Do I walk around in low-cut tops? Nope. Not my style. Do I make fun of women who do? Nope. Whatever they want to wear, they should wear. I am not, however, a fan of a woman wearing something specifically because it is "expected of her" or to "please a man". But that's a subject for another day.

Two things need to change here. First of all, men need to stop telling women how to be beautiful. Instead, they should accept and appreciate women for being exactly the way they are. Secondly, women need to stop attacking each other. Women should be the first to support each other, no matter what. How do we change? By being more supportive, understanding, and accepting.