Saturday, February 28, 2009

On the recent community firestorm...

As you may have noticed, there was a bit of an internal fight in the feminist blogging community these last two weeks. It started with this post and ended, as much as it could, anyway, with an apology from the authors. If you missed it (and you very well might have - more proof of how wrong it was!), it was basically an attempt to show how the big feminist blogs exploit little blogs/WOC. A couple of the best analysis/rebuttals can be found here and here.

I really wanted to say something about the whole mess, but just don't feel I have anything to add. I think I'll play a song instead:

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Target Women: Oscar Ex-Plosion

I promise that besides this and my Kate Winslet post to not talk about the Oscars anymore. It's over, I know. It's been almost a week. But who can resist Sarah Haskins?

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Rock on Obama with your bad self!

From The Washington Post (and many, many other sources), Obama Administration to Reverse Bush Rule on 'Conscience' Regulation:
The Obama administration has begun the process of rescinding sweeping new federal protections that were granted in December to health-care workers who refuse to provide care that violates their personal, moral or religious beliefs.

The Office of Management and Budget announced this morning that it was reviewing a proposal to lift the controversial "conscience" regulation, the first step toward reversing the policy. Once the OMB has reviewed the proposal it will be published in Federal Register for a 30-day public comment period.


The new rule empowers the federal government to cut off federal funding for any state or local government, hospital, health plan, clinic or other entity that does not accommodate doctors, nurses, pharmacists or other employees who refuse to participate in care they find objectionable. The Bush administration adopted the rule at the urging of conservative groups, abortion opponents and others in order to safeguard workers from being fired, disciplined or penalized in other ways.

Women's health advocates, family planning proponents, abortion rights activists and others condemned the regulation, saying it would create a major obstacle to providing many health services, including family planning, infertility treatment and end-of-life care, as well as possibly a wide range of scientific research.

The move marks the latest challenge to the Obama administration's attempt to find more of middle ground on issues related to abortion. President Obama has said repeatedly he hopes those on both sides of the issue can work to reduce the number of abortions by preventing unwanted pregnancies and by offering support to women who do get pregnant and want to continue their pregnancies.
I know there's still a whole process to go through, the 30-day comment period, etc., but...Yay.

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So having just watched what according to reports might be the last episode of Privileged, I thought I would share with you Fourth Wave-ers. I may be one of the only people watching this shiny bubbly series that started in September on the CW. The show is certainly part eye candy, but it is also smart and has a lot of heart. In this week's episode teenager Sage is led to break-up with her Catholic boyfriend because he refuses to go to Marco's (the fabulous and hilarious chef at Sage's house) wedding to his boyfriend. On what other show would the topic of gay marriage be grounds for a break up where rich teens are involved (probably not Gossip Girl)? I have to say this week's episode really reminded me why I've been DVRing and watching all season. Plus Kathy Griffin was appropriately cast as the wedding planner.

The show is about Megan, an Ivy-league grad who wants to be a writer, but has yet to find her dream job. After she is fired from the NYC tabloid she was an assistant at, she moves back to her home town to tutor a pair of wealthy sisters who lost their parent's when they were young. Rose and Sage start out a pair of spoiled rich kids, but as the series has progressed their characters have developed, and their complex relationship has become one of the most interesting on the show. I like the show because it it smart and funny, and as Entertainment Weekly pointed out, while it hasn't really replaced Gilmore Girls, it does bring the banter. Here is their list of reasons the show should stay on the air:

1. Joanna Garcia
As tutor-to-the-rich Megan Smith (pictured, left), Garcia plays cynical and sunny, pretty and goofy, dark and funny. Think Lorelai and Rory Gilmore in one, with a little Veronica Mars on top.

2. The Gilmore vibe
Nothing can replace the Girls, but Privileged comes close, with heartfelt family stories, endearing side characters (Allan Louis' chef Marco -- pictured, right -- has his own series' worth of drama!), and sparkling banter.

3. The Twins
Megan's wealthy charges, Rose (Lucy Kate Hale) and Sage (Ashley Newbrough), struggle with Paris Hilton urges, date dorks and the help, and might even want to be a little smart.

4. Its Dark Side
Megan's mom, who ditched her when she was a kid, suddenly reappeared. She then stole $25,000 from Megan's boyfriend. Who was planning to use it as bail money for Megan's sister. Who was accused of running drugs.

5. Underrated Actors
Anne Archer as matriarch Laurel, Sharon Lawrence as Megan's mom, and cougar bait Robert Buckley (Lipstick Jungle) as her editor...they've earned their job security!

You can watch the show online at

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Kate Winslet

With the exception of Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black's incredibly moving Oscar acceptance speech ("Most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told they are less than by their churches, or by the government, or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value. And that no matter what everyone tells you, God does love you, and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours."), Kate Winslet's Best Actress win was my favorite moment of the night:

She's so poised and self-possessed for someone so young (33), and yet it's also clear how thrilled she is and how nervous and giddy and grateful. In case, I've always liked Winslet in a casual sort of way, but a series of factors have conspired recently to make me love her (not the least of which is her refusal to conform to standard conventions of Hollywood anorexia). In any case, I thought I'd share a segment from the cover article on Winslet from the the March 2 issue of Time Magazine (H/T Women and Hollywood):
In an industry that insists that most actresses remain giggly, pliable and princessy well into middle age, Winslet has somehow avoided that pigeonhole entirely. She doesn't play girls; she never really has. She plays women. Unsentimentalized, restless, troubled, discontented, disconcerted, difficult women. And clearly, it's working for her. Her two most recent performances — as Hanna Schmitz, the illiterate former concentration-camp guard in The Reader, and as April Wheeler, the anguished, rageful 1950s wife and mother in Revolutionary Road — have earned her two Golden Globes, a Screen Actors Guild prize, a British Academy Award (BAFTA) and her sixth Oscar nomination, a benchmark that no actor so young has ever before reached.

At 33, Winslet has become not only the finest actress of her generation but in many ways also the perfect actress for this moment. She's intense without being humorless. She's international in outlook (though raised in Reading, England, in a middle-class family of working actors, she now lives in New York City and won those Oscar nominations for playing three Americans, two Brits and a German). She's ambitious but cheerfully self-deflating, capable of glamour but also expressive of a kind of jolting common sense. She has a strong professional ethic, which she somehow balances with her domestic life (she and Mendes have a son, Joe, 5, and Winslet has a daughter, Mia, 8, from her first marriage — she takes both kids to school most days). And, cementing her status as an icon of the Era of New Seriousness, she really likes hard work. Assuming she's paid her taxes, are there still any openings in the Cabinet?

What are you favorite Winslet movies/roles? I especially love her in Heavenly Creatures (1994), her first major role, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), which is just generally an amazing film.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

We're backing to stoning the gays...again

As Jon Stewart said during the Democratic National Convention, "In Colorado, you're either a rapture-awaiting promise keeper, or you drive a car that runs on gorp," and, yet again, a Colorado politician proves he is the former.

From The Colorado Independent:
A prominent national gay rights organization on Tuesday blasted Colorado state Sen. Scott Renfroe for comparing homosexuality to murder when he spoke Monday against a bill that would extend health benefits to same-sex domestic partners of state employees.

After quoting Scripture to call homosexual behavior a “detestable act,” the Greeley Republican said it would be “an abomination according to Scripture” for the Legislature to “(take) sins and (make) them to be legally OK.”

He continued: “I’m not saying (homosexuality) is the only sin that is out there. Obviously we have sin — we have murder, we have, we have all sorts of sin, we have adultery, and we don’t make laws making those legal, and we would never think to make murder legal.”

You can express your dismay to Senator Renfoe here, at ProgressNow Colorado.

In a turn of poetic justice, the bill passed the Colorado Senate with a relatively wide margin.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Postcards to the President

Another cute idea for mass political action (and I mean "cute" in a positive, pleasantly-innovative way, not as a diminutive).

Send a postcard to President Obama asking him to repeal DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act):

(H/T Your Daily Lesbian Moment)

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Squeeing with the stars

Since I'm in LA for a couple more days--hence the lack of posting--it seems only right that I share with you all some completely uncritical, fangirly squee-age for the day. I promise that this won't happen too often here; I'll go back to being a dour and cranky feminist (joking!) posthaste.

Three relatively-recent blogging ventures by actors I enjoy have sprouted up recently, and while I'm not usually into fan culture in the sense of virtually stalking certain celebrities, I'm actually finding myself fairly excited about the increased interweb exposure of the following lovely ladies...

Firstly, Amber Benson's Official Blog, where she actually posts fairly frequently, is pretty compelling, and she's already introduced me to a great photographer I may not have otherwise discovered and gotten me kind of excited to check out her new fantasy novel, Death's Daughter. She covers a lot of things on her blog, although it's mostly day-to-day life sort of stuff. She did recently write a bit about her experiences in Hollywood--pretty typical expectations for a young female actor, unfortunately, but I like how Benson recounts refusing to conform:
Anyway, I quickly learned that no matter what you do, you can't please everyone all the time. So, I stopped trying to compete with girls that just naturally understood how to dress themselves to extol their boobalicious virtues and concentrated more on the quirkier parts that just felt more like the real me.

And it worked. I just did what made me feel good about myself–and what made me happy–and the work I wanted FOUND ME.

I didn't have an uncle in the business, I never dated anyone famous or powerful and I kept my boobs pretty much where they belonged (for me at least) in my top. I just threw myself into what I wanted–and after a bit of soul-searching–found what suited me most. Then I just persisted. I didn't take the rejection personally and I did stuff for myself.
Secondly, there's Jill Bennett's blog (thanks, Brianna), which is primarily a home for her new web series, We Have to Stop Now, about a couple of lesbian therapists who wrote the book on maintaining a loving marriage but whose own marriage is falling apart. The web series stars Bennett, Cathy DuBuono and comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer, whom I adore. (Along those lines, I should add that my other favorite comedian, Bridget McManus, also has a blog, but it's been around for a while, which is why I didn't feature it here.)

You can watch the pilot of We Have to Stop Now on Jill's site or below:

We Have To Stop Now: Pilot Episode from Jill Bennett on Vimeo.

Lastly, but certainly not least, Kirsten Vangness, who plays my favorite character on my favorite crime show, Criminal Minds, and whom I totally want to be my best friend, just took up blogging again (after her CBS-sponsored blog went permanently missing last year shortly after the Writer's Strike began). You can check out her guest post over at Criminal Minds Fanatic. I'd love it if she started blogging independently again, but I'll take what I can get.

Have a lovely Tuesday everyone!

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Feminist Anthems: Lily Allen - LDN

Feminists like to talk about a 'click' moment, a instant of realization in which everything about feminism comes together and makes sense. For some, it's a speaker, piece of music, a college course, or simple exposure to sexism. My own 'click' moment came after reading (at random, curiously) one of bell hooks' works.

Lily Allen's "LDN" presents some 'click' moments, albeit not overtly feminist ones:

(Quick disclaimer: I'm fairly certain Allen didn't intend this song in the way that I'm about to interpret it. Still, that's the beauty of art - so long as the artist observes truth without forcing judgement, the audience is free to apply as they see fit!)

So the city is a nasty place, huh? But notice that however bad the character's in the song get, the song is upbeat, the singer apparently happy. Happy, that is, until the end, when she realizes that she's in the same boat as the others. I think that it's easy to intellectualize problems, to recognize that they exist for other people. It's quite another to realize they affect you. Wait - that's sexism? I can be a tool of the patriarchy, too? And suddenly, everything is sad and depressing. Click, click. Click, click. Everything good is bad, everything right is wrong.

Another thing: In real life, pimps and muggings are fairly obvious. They are also relatively rare in the overall scheme of things. But people who behave in the same ways, who hide their inner pimp or mugger (if you will) are not so rare. In the song, they first appear to be normal, even a pleasant sort of person, right up until the second look. In the same way, a date, or even a marriage might appear to be happy, but really be a thin excuse for prostitution. And someone helping an elderly or poor person may appear to be honest enough - but recall that 'philanthropy' is usually a trick to keep the powerful in power.

Finally, while the subject might be rather bleak, the overall sound of the song is upbeat, positive. It's better to be happy and a bit sarcastic then depressed and miserable! At least, it is better so long as we don't stop working to end injustice and inequality.

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Feminist Flashback #25

Was anyone else as obsessed as I was with Nickelodeon's 1991-1994 show Clarissa Explains It All? I remember it being one of the first shows I saw for girls/teens where the protagonist was a smart, witty teenage girl who wasn't ridiculously into boys, was self-assured and had a handle on her life. I totally loved this show and Melissa Joan Hart.

(H/T Shakesville)

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