Saturday, April 4, 2009

Why analyzing your stats can be depressing

Ever week or so when I look at my statcounter, I marvel that the fact that after almost six months some of the most common search phrases that bring people to my blog are still the lyrics of 3OH!3's obnoxious song "Don't Trust Me," which I posted about back in November.

Searched variations from the past week include

"talk with your hips"
"shush girl shut your lips do the helen keller and talk with your hips"
"talk with your hips lyrics"
"shut your mouth do the helen keller"

And I seriously doubt people looking for lyrics have any interest in my critical feminist perspective on the song's offensiveness and misogyny. UGH!

What are the most inappropriate/weird/obnoxious search terms through which people have found your blog(s)?

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Target Women: Carl's Jr.

I think this might be one of my favorite Target Women segments yet. I hate those awful Carl's Jr. ads.

And, "So yesterday I went to get a milkshake, but I ended up giving someone a handjob!" is just priceless.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Rachel Maddow on America's legacy of torture

Rachel Maddow's impassioned--not to mention imminently cogent and smart--report tonight on two American journalists being held in North Korea was truly a sight to see. And if you didn't watch her show tonight, you should definitely watch the clip below now. Maddow really doesn't hold any punches:

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Men, watch out! Lesbians are stealing your women!

A few days ago, my father directed my attention to an article by Mary A. Fischer in this month's Oprah Magazine. The article's entitled, "Why Women Are Leaving Men for Other Women," and my dad's of the opinion that Oprah's paving the way for her own coming out. (I'm not really one to speculate, but if I were, I would agree that she does spend an awful lot of time with that Gayle!)

Anyway, the article is moderately interesting, although it doesn't say anything earth-shattering and there are some problematic moments. FeministGal points out a few issues, such as Fischer's use of 'lesbian chic' as evidence of society's acceptance (rather than exploitation, a more accurate term) of lesbian relationships:
Lately, a new kind of sisterly love seems to be in the air. In the past few years, Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon left a boyfriend after a decade and a half and started dating a woman (and talked openly about it). Actress Lindsay Lohan and DJ Samantha Ronson flaunted their relationship from New York to Dubai. Katy Perry's song "I Kissed a Girl" topped the charts. The L Word, Work Out, and Top Chef are featuring gay women on TV, and there's even talk of a lesbian reality show in the works. Certainly nothing is new about women having sex with women, but we've arrived at a moment in the popular culture when it all suddenly seems almost fashionable—or at least, acceptable.
Lesbianism is fashionable? Um. Yay? Also, I've heard that before (e.g. Laura Cottingham's book(let) Lesbians Are So Chic...: ...That We Are Not Really Lesbians at All and Linda Dittmar's article "The Straight Goods: Lesbian Chic and Identity Capital on a Not-so-Queer Planet," both written in the mid-1990s and a long time before the age of Katy Perry and Tila Tequila).

Fischer also points to a landmark 2004 study (referenced a few months ago in this New York Times Magazine feature) as evidence that female sexuality is more fluid than male sexuality. I don't know. I haven't read the study itself, but it seems that Fischer is vastly simplifying the results. Regardless, I don't have too much of a problem with the idea that women's sexuality is more fluid--stereotypical though it may seem. Who knows, maybe it's true? I have a much bigger problem with the conclusion Fischer draws toward the end of the article: that women who leave men for other women tend to be more attracted to butch lesbians, androgynous women or bois. She writes:
Ironically—or not, as some might argue—it is certain "masculine" qualities that draw many straight-labeled women to female partners; that, in combination with emotional connection, intimacy, and intensity. This was definitely true for Gomez-Barris, whose partner, Judith Halberstam, 47, (above right, with Gomez-Barris, left) says she has never felt "female." Growing up in England as a tomboy who had short hair and refused to wear dresses, Halberstam says people were often unable to figure out whether she was a boy or a girl: "I was a source of embarrassment for my family." As a teenager, she was an avid soccer player—not that she was allowed on any team. And her 13th birthday request for a punching bag and boxing gloves was met with the demand to pick something more feminine. "Throughout my youth," she says, "I felt rage at the shrinking of my world." Halberstam channeled her anger into a distinguished academic career and authored several provocative books, including, in 1998, Female Masculinity. It was during the past few years that she started calling herself Jack and answering to both "he" and "she."
With all due respect to Judith (Jack) Halberstam, whose work I really admire and whose own sexuality isn't really the issue here, it does seem a little reductive for Fischer to argue that most "straight" women tend to fall for masculine/androgynous women, and the article seems to come to some sort of unspoken conclusion that socially-sanctioned gender binaries (male as rational and female as emotional, for example) still play a role, even for women who fall in love with other women. This may be true for some people. It may even be more often true for straight women who date lesbians. But it's certainly not something I'd be willing to build an argument around.

Do you think female sexuality is more fluid than male sexuality? Do any of you who are gay, bisexual or heteroflexible want to speak to whether or not you tend to be attracted to more "masculine" or more "feminine" women? And what that might mean, if anything? Is this even something about which we can make generalized claims?

Lest I sound too grumpy, I think the article's mostly fine, especially for something published in a mainstream publication. What do you all think?

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Sunshine Cleaning

This is (sadly) not a review of Sunshine Cleaning, the new indie dramatic comedy about two sisters (played by Amy Adams and Emily Blunt) and their crime scene clean-up business. However, once I'm home, I'm going to make a beeline for the theater to watch this film. It looks hilarious, engaging and smart, both the writer and the director are women, I love Adams and Blunt as actors, and I'm thrilled that a film with not one, but two, female leads is getting so much press.

If you just can't wait for my review, which I hope to write within the coming week, check out Melissa Silverstein's post about the film over at Women and Hollywood. Then, watch the trailer and figure out where and when you can see the film at a theater near you!

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Feminist Flashback #30

First, a quick note about last week's Feminist Flashback. While I though I had scheduled a post to go up during my travels, I accidentally left it saved as a draft instead. Silly mistake. So, the March 22 Feminist Flashback is now up (and backdated).

Secondly, I apologize (again!) for my absence this last week. Traveling has proved more detrimental to my writing than I expected. Suffice it to say, I'll be home soon and back to posting again regularly. I miss the blogging world!

Thirdly, for this week's Flashback and without further ado, I present the photographs of artist Cindy Sherman. Since the late 1970s, Sherman's self-portraits have eloquently confronted the male gaze and explored the relationship between women and narrative. Her "Untitled Film Stills" series, in particular, asks viewers to consider the implications of the story in which each pictured character (all Sherman) finds herself. Some of her later work addresses iconic female characters and the mutability of women's roles (and her own performance of them).

From the Untitled Film Stills series
(Dates, in order: 1978, 1977, 1978, 1978, 1979)

Other work

Untitled #90, 1981

Untitled (Woman in Sun Dress), 2003

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