Friday, November 21, 2008

Attractive Girls Union

Attractive Girls Union Refuses To Enter Into Talks With Mike Greenman

Funny? Not Funny? Mildly Offensive? Very Offensive? Or Who Cares?

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A Friday dosage of news about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton:

Via Feminist Law Professors, a link to this NY Times magazine article, entitled "The 'Bitch' and the 'Ditz'." Interest isn't peaked enough? Then read this excerpt:
In the grand Passion play that was this election, both Clinton and Palin came to represent—and, at times, reinforce—two of the most pernicious stereotypes that are applied to women: the bitch and the ditz. Clinton took the first label, even though she tried valiantly, some would say misguidedly, to run a campaign that ignored gender until the very end. “Now, I’m not running because I’m a woman,” she would say. “I’m running because I think I’m the best-qualified and experienced person to hit the ground running.” She was highly competent, serious, diligent, prepared (sometimes overly so)—a woman who cloaked her femininity in hawkishness and pantsuits. But she had, to use an unfortunate term, likability issues, and she inspired in her detractors an upwelling of sexist animus: She was likened to Tracy Flick for her irritating entitlement, to Lady Macbeth for her boundless ambition. She was a grind, scold, harpy, shrew, priss, teacher’s pet, killjoy—you get the idea. She was repeatedly called a bitch (as in: “How do we beat the?…?”) and a buster of balls. Tucker Carlson deemed her “castrating, overbearing, and scary” and said, memorably, “Every time I hear Hillary Clinton speak, I involuntarily cross my legs.”

Career women, especially those of a certain age, recognized themselves in Clinton and the reactions she provoked. “Maybe what bothers me most is that people say Hillary is a bitch,” said Tina Fey in her now-famous “Bitch Is the New Black” skit. “Let me say something about that: Yeah, she is. So am I … You know what? Bitches get stuff done.” At least being called a bitch implies power. As bad as Clinton’s treatment was, the McCain campaign’s cynical decision to put a woman—any woman—on the ticket was worse for the havoc it would wreak on gender politics. It was far more destructive, we would learn, for a woman to be labeled a fool.

Via Feministing, some news about how Senator Clinton is fighting Bush's ludicrous HHS regulation, which could seriously impact women's access to reproductive health care.

And, finally, via Girl w/ Pen, my favorite Clinton is spoiled for choice: Should she take on the pretigious and powerful Secretary of State position in Obama's cabinet or stay close to home and head the Senate Heath Care Team?

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today, November 20, 2008, is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Please take a moment and check out the moving accounts, memorials and links at Shakesville, Feministe, Feministing, and The Bilerco Project the authors of which all do a far more thorough job of memorializing this day and expressing there thoughts and feelings than I could.

Feel free to leave additional links in the comments.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The third wave

I have a lot to say about third wave feminism and the need for feminism in general. As you can probably guess, that's half the reason I started this blog (the other half had to do with the election; now that that's over, I'm turning my focus to feminist issues full-time).

Since Fourth Wave launched back in August, I've been meaning to write a post entitled "Why not third wave?" in order to explain the name of this blog (which is not meant as an arbitrary, cutesy or opportunistic addendum to the third wave). That said, I've obviously had a bit of a mental block with the actual post, even though I've engaged in several discussions over email and in person regarding how I imagine the "fourth wave." Feminism today is especially difficult to define and, hence, thinking about how it can be enacted and where/when it is necessary is a continuing and essential aspect of our roles as feminists (and as feminist bloggers).

I'm going to be on a plane most of the day tomorrow, and I'm hoping to use that captive air-time to finally articulate my thoughts on the fourth wave and the goals/hopes/aims/ambitions of this blog. In the meantime, though, I'm curious about your thoughts on feminism it third wave, fourth wave, fifth wave or something else...

How do you define contemporary feminism? What do you envision as the future of feminism?

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Final Girl vs. Kinderwhore

I don't watch many horror films - I find them quite boring, actually. But I've always been fascinated by the 'Final Girl' concept. Is she a male fantasy? A female fantasy? How does her identity change throughout the film? What portion of the audience identifies with her? Why is she always a virgin? And why all the contradictions?

But I'm not going to try and analyze the Final Girl here. Instead, I present you the musical Final Girl, of sorts: the Kinderwhore.

Like the Final Girl, she's definitely feminine. Babydoll dress, long hair, makeup. She's innocent, virginal - note the wide eyes, the vaguely 'schoolgirl' look (shoes, plastic hair clips). And also like the Final Girl, she appears to be in a bad situation; messed up hair and makeup, ripped dress, etc. Lastly, she is holding a phallic (musical) weapon - the electric guitar.

But the music itself paints a... rather different picture, to say the least:

The Kinderwhore isn't even remotely feminine. And there's no killer to escape from. she's not 'rising to the occasion' - instead, she is the aggressor!

According to Clover (quoted in the linked article), the Final Girl is:
...feminine enough to act out in a gratifying way unapproved for adult males, the terrors and masochistic pleasures of the underlying fantasy, but not so feminine as to disturb the structures of male competence and sexuality.

The Final Girl is a blend. She's temporarily masculine enough to succeed, but feminine enough to maintain the patriarchal status quo. The Kinderwhore is a contradiction. She looks feminine, victimized. She looks like a virgin. But she's really powerful, sexually dominant, and strong - and if she seems destructive, at least she's very much in control of her own destiny.

Also, she's definitely not planning on being killed anytime soon!

If you didn't catch it, the pertinent lyric is:

You’re dead meat motherfucker
You don’t try to rape a goddess

From a purely feminist point of view, I'm not entirely sure what to think of the Kinderwhore. On the one hand, the music is rather violent (especially toward other women). Furthermore, while I'm certainly not opposed to expressions of rage, the rage expressed in the music seems more destructive than healthy.

I often find it oddly comforting, though. I think that the existence of violent, powerful, female archetypes, who are neither masculine nor a reaction to abuse, yet who aren't portrayed as evil, is both valuable and interesting.

Plus, screaming along to Kat or Courtney is sometimes just plain fun!

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Feminist Flashback #11

From season 5 of The Simpsons:

If you can get a hold of the whole episode, do. If not, here are a few quotes (Lisa's my hero):

Lisa, on her idea for a new talking doll: She'll have the wisdom of Gertrude Stein and the wit of Cathy Guisewite, the tenacity of Nina Totenberg, and the common sense of Elizabeth Cady Stanton! And to top it off, the down-to-earth good looks of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Lisa: They cannot keep making dolls like this...something has to be done!
Marge: Lisa, ordinarily I'd say you should stand up for what you believe in. But you've been doing that an awful lot lately!
Bart: Yeah. You made us march in that gay rights parade!
[Holds up newspaper showing gay parade with Bart prominently in front looking surprised]
Homer: And we can't watch Fox because they own those chemical weapon plants in Syria.
Lisa: I can't believe you're just going to stand by as your daughters grow up in a world where this, this, is their role model.
Marge: I had a Malibu Stacy when I was little and I turned out all right. Now let's forget our troubles with a big bowl of strawberry ice cream!
Stacy: Now low let's forget our troubles with a big bowl of strawberry ice cream!
In the recording studio:
Techie: Talking doll, take eight.
Lisa: "When I get married, I'm keeping my own name." Oh, no, that should probably be "If I choose to get married."
Techie: Uh, look, little girl, we got other talking dollies to record today.

Quotes are from this episode transcript).

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The Whole Feminist Mess Over Porn

I'm writing an honors thesis on porn.

I've mentioned this before, and I've said a few things about it. You probably have some idea where I'm coming from, especially since I'm a stripper. That gives you some prepackaged ideas about who I am and what I think.

I don't know, though, how to engage with all the shit (yes, shit) that feminists say about pornography.

Everybody is so concerned with taking a side. We must all be Pro-Pornography! or Anti-Pornography! and there is so little room allowed for having an opinion that's in between. It's yet another fun incarnation of the good ol' virgin/whore dichotomy.

There's so much vitriol on both sides:

"Those who oppose pornography are anti-sex! They continue the oppression of women by oppressing our sexual expression! They take away the agency of sex workers, taking away the agency and independence of women! Pornography should be encouraged as a sexual expression and an education tool!"


"Those who support pornography are anti-woman! They continue the oppression of women by encouraging representations of violence against women, perpetuating the myth that all women want to be dominated and abused! They ignore the economic and social coercion of women into sex and sex work! Pornography should be illegal and stigmatized!"

For heaven's sake, you're both right.

I think, actually, that Ariel Levy has a good idea of what's going on. Her book Female Chauvinist Pigs is immensely popular, especially with the anti-porn set, but if you read carefully, she's in the middle of the debate. She doesn't actually think that all porn is terrible (as the anti-porn activists want us to think), but she's not unequivocally accepting of porn and what she calls "raunch culture" either.

Here's an excerpt from an email conversation she had with Susie Bright about her book and what it means for "sex-positive" or "sex radical" feminists:
OF COURSE I don't think you & co. are responsible for this...the whole point of sex radicals is to explore new and different and more creative ways to represent— and to have— sex. I'm all for creativity. I'm all for exploration. I'm just not for the incessant reiteration of this one incredibly dull shorthand for sexiness... Wet t-shirt contests! Implants! Brazilian bikini waxes!

It's pathetically limiting. I'm tired of hearing about how liberating and empowering "raunch culture" is. I think it's the easy way out... as if when we buy a thong or a t-shirt with the Playboy bunny on it, then we don't have to question or face our own complicated desires. (But then you miss out on all the fun!)

You have always been about encouraging women to investigate what they really and truly want from sex. Raunch culture, on the other hand, is about performance, not pleasure. That's my objection.
Let's try and find a middle road here, people. We all want the same thing, ultimately. We want women and men to be equal to each other. We don't want these gender stereotypes and privileges to rule our lives. We want to preserve sexual freedom for both sexes. We want to make sure that no one ever has to give in to a sexuality that's harmful to them. It's a noble goal. We should work towards it together.

Cross posted at Paper Cuts and Plastic.

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