Friday, February 20, 2009

Target Women: Skin Care

Since I'll be in transit the rest of the day, on my way to LA to do some research, I thought I'd leave you all with the newest Target Women. As always, Sarah Haskins is awesome.

"I need products to fix it. Products that use pictures of science."


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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Girls Agenda 2009

Check out the National Council for Research on Women's blog The Real Deal and their round-up of exciting posts about the issues that most affect girls' lives today. Activists, scholars and young girls themselves wrote impassioned posts about their visions for Girls Agenda 2009. Truth be told, I was asked to write something, but my hectic schedule (and just generally being a doofus when it comes to missing good opportunties) prevented me from doing so; however, another FWF blogger, Joe Kelley contributed, so check out his post and all the other great responses.

(H/T Girl w/Pen)

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Monday, February 16, 2009


I really don't like the word "penetration" when it pertains to sex. It suggests so much stabbing and unwillingness on the part of the penetratee. Like if you're taking someone inside your body, you're just lying there while they stick something into you. It sounds invasive. It connotes violence.

It's hard to find a word, though, that conveys the same action without being awkward. I find myself referring to intercourse as penetration in public contexts because it's the socially acceptable term for fucking. It's a euphemism, the word you can say on television or in a classroom. It's almost scientific. They use it in textbooks. It's like an official term. I use it all the time, for lack of a better word.

I really don't want to do this anymore.

A few weeks ago, I was reading a book on pornography (I can't remember which one, unfortunately) and instead of calling it penetration, they called it intromission.

Activities like fingering, dick in pussy, and strap-on anal are intromissive. To intromit very simply means "to enter." I don't think it has the same connotation of active and passive roles or of aggression that "penetration" has. It also preserves that scientific quality, the euphemism that's useful in stuffy situations. I definitely like it.

What do you think. Do you like/dislike the word penetration? Would you ever use "intromission" instead? I'm curious to see if it's something that could ever catch on.

Cross posted at Paper Cuts and Plastic.

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Musical Androgyny - One Last Time

Rock music with chorused vocals is often very androgynous.

I tend to dislike the way most popular male singers sound. This is just a personal preference - I prefer altos and basses over sopranos and tenors generally. Most music features tenors, and most 'tenors' in pop music sound rather poor (they're often really baritones, singing out of their range).

Put enough singers together, and use enough vocal effects, though, and something curious happens:

This is the original, by Sweet:

This is a cover, by Girlschool:

Notice that the singing sounds almost exactly the same. It's at the same pitch, with the same inflection, and the same overall sound. (Even the hair is similar!) To be sure, you can still tell the difference between the two - the song obviously falls more easily under Girlschool's range, and they sing en masse the entire duration.

Why is this interesting? So much of music is focused, either directly or indirectly, on sexual attraction. Rock music in particular has this characteristic. A single voice is an individual. We can be attracted to that individual, and their voice. They will seem to be singing directly to the audience. Add another, and the effect diminishes, I think - but it still remains. When we get to the massed chorus effect present in these songs, though, and individual gender and sexual expression is completely gone, faded into the group sound. It's just a step away from the asexuality of the classical or church choir.

In this case, though, the music is still rock music, and it still has that sexual component. (As far as I can tell, Fox on the Run has something to do with groupies.) And yet, an all-female band and an all-male band can play it to essentially the same effect. Musical androygny.

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Feminist Web Resource for Girls 8-12

IMHO, New Moon Girls is a resource without parallel for girls ages 8 to 12. It’s very unusual to find such a perfect resource for girls in this crazy, often toxic world they inhabit. So, I can’t recommend it enough!

This is a feminist-informed web community and magazine that “allows girls to develop their full potential through self-discovery, creativity, and community in an environment designed to build self-esteem and promote positive body image in the important tween years.” Not only is it award-winning, safe, and educational…it has no advertising, which is a big plus in my book. Plus, the magazine is created BY girls.

So if you have girls, work with girls, or know girls, I strongly suggest you look at signing them up for New Moon Girls.

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Dollhouse, some answers and more questions

Earlier today, Jacyln over at Bitch Ph.D., posted a compelling series of questions about Whedon's Dollhouse. And I just responded to her post with an absurdly long comment, so I thought I would replicate it here, bringing my answers to her questions (and I few questions of my own) to Fourth Wave readers. The questions in italics are Jacyln's questions from her post. My responses and questions (at the bottom) are in normal type.

1) Did you watch? What did you think?
Yes, I saw it. As a fan of Buffy and Firefly, but not an obsessive fan of Whedon in general, I liked it with some serious caveats. The premise still disturbs me and the pilot did little to mitigate that feeling. I'm uncomfortable not only with Echo's tabula rasa imprintability, but also with the way viewers are (at least in the pilot) encouraged to like her handler and the geeky guy operating the imprinting machine (these people have names, which I don't remember, and I'm sure the machine has a name, too -- anyone care to enlighten me?). They're complicit in Echo's imprisonment and exploitation, and I'm uncomfortable with the fact that I already sort of like them even though they haven't (yet?) shown any signs of remorse.

2) Were you as psyched as I was to see that Mutant Enemy tag at the end?
Yeah, kinda, in spite of myself.

3) How did you feel about Eliza D as Faith in Buffy? How have you felt about everything she's done since Buffy? What did you think about her performance as Echo?
I loved Faith. I haven't really seen much of what she's done since Buffy. I actually thought she was a little flat as Echo, and not just in the moments when she's supposed to be flat because she's a shell. I'm willing to give her a little more time, though. In general, acting in pilots has a tendency to be a bit wonky.

4) Why the hell did Joss agree to work with Fox again? Or ever?
I have no idea. I certainly hope it wasn't so Fox could pair Cameron (Summer Glau) from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Echo together for sexy dual promos during the commercial breaks. That was really beyond the pale and made my head swim. (I could only find the outtakes from the Glau/Dushku promos on youtube, but you get the gist; also, in the second video, check out the lovely grindhouse-style joint trailer for TSCC and Dollhouse put out by Fox last week.)

Urgh... Fox... WHY???!!! Oh. Never mind. Because you're Fox.

5) Um... are there still no people of color who want good roles in Hollywood? It's a real problem, isn't it? How on earth can we fix it, so that all the producers and directors aren't forced to only cast white people all the time? (Yes, there's Harry Lennix as Echo's handler, but a) that just makes him the token and b) Driving Miss Daisy, anyone?)
I have no words. It's so infuriating and endemic of television in general that I don't even know how to address this question.

6) Ditto fat people, people with physical disabilities, people who aren't freakishly pretty, etc.?
Ditto my answer to #5. I do feel like certain shows, especially non-action ensemble dramas (e.g. medical shows like ER and Grey's Anatomy, among others) are more likely to cast people of diverse ethnic/racial backgrounds who are less freakishly skinny. However, everyone's still gorgeous, even if there's an occasional woman who wears over a size 10. I don't know. It is television...the "everyone has to be pretty" conundrum is one of those problems where I have the tendency to throw up my hands.

7) Did they really have to start with the girl-is-broken-due-to-sex-abuse-and-requires-the-intervention-of-a-kind-man-to-seek-redemption plotline? Why is that never the secret weak spot for male action stars, huh?
Yes, they did. Because they're idiots. And men never have secret weak spots that stem from sexual abuse, didn't you know? (Except for Derek Morgan in Criminal Minds, which is one of the reasons I love that show.)

8) If Person A is desperate and out of options, and is coerced into fully giving up her agency and identity, and if, after making that one decision, Person A no longer has any meaningful ability to consent to anything, nor does she have the ability to withdraw her consent from the original agreement -- under those circumstances, if Person C pays Person B money to have sex with Person A, is that really prostitution, as Joss and Eliza have said it is? Or is that sexual slavery?
I love this question. It's (sexual) slavery. If Person A lacks consent because her personality has been wiped and there is no way to establish her consent for every various task she is asked to perform, then it's not just prostitution. Consent can't be given as a blanket endorsement of any and all activities of the body from now until eternity.

9) Can someone tell me that Joss is going somewhere good with this? I want to believe...
I would love to, but I'm concerned as well. Petpluto over at Art of the Auction says the show could offer a compelling discourse about identity, authenticity and identify formation, but I'm withholding judgment until I've seen a few more episodes.

Now, I have a few more questions of my own:

a) Can a disturbing premise be mitigated by the subjugated character developing agency and control over her oppressors? If so, to what degree? Does she need to escape? Seek retribution? Take over?

b) How long can a show like Dollhouse continue on with this same "she can be anything you want her to be" shtick before something has to give?

c) Is it possible to maintain narrative interest if Echo escapes or if Dollhouse (the place, not the show) is shut down? If so, how? If not, then doesn't the continued need for the Dollhouse as an element of narrative interest necessitate the continued exploitation of the "actives" for our viewing pleasure?

As you can see, I've been thinking about this a bit too much.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tell It WOC Speak Carnival

The first WOC and ally carnival is up at Renee's awesome new blog Tell It WOC Speak.

By way of introduction, Renee writes
Welcome everyone to what I hope will be the first of many blog carnivals dedicated to the voices of women of colour and our allies. In every sphere of life women of colour are marginalized and exploited. Often, when we attempt to engage to change our circumstances we are silenced. This carnival is our attempt to give voice to our shared issues. We have a strong history of activism and organizing and it is in this vein that we have chosen this space to highlight the various ways we have attempted to carve out a niche in the online world. We shall not be silenced, and our dreams shall be realized. We are women of quality and worth.
It's an impressive collection of posts and I highly recommend everyone hop on over and visit it now and not a moment later.

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Feminist Flashback #24

For this week's (second) Feminist Flashback, I present to you all Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis. The film was fantastic, but the books are really phenomenal. If you haven't read the books, I suggest you go out and do so right now. For your viewing and reading pleasure, first, a panel from the 2003 book (click to enlarge) and, second, the trailer for the 2007 film adaptation:

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