Thursday, June 28, 2012

Infidelity is Infidelity, Right?

You know I have a well documented weakness for really, really crappy TV, right? Well today, I'm off work for the afternoon as I have an appointment with an ENT to try to get to the bottom of my mysterious dizziness. But in the meantime, I'm watching The Talk.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stop Trying to "Fix" Me!



I came across this news story today. In case fat people aren't facing enough stigma and shame, a federal health advisory is now advising that fat people receive intensive counseling. From the story I saw at The Frisky:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

RIP Nora Ephron

I just heard that female movie pioneer, Nora Ephron has passed away today at the age of 71. Ephron was a trailblazer for women in the film industry and broke ground with films like When Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail, and Julie & Julia. Her stories brought a refreshing female perspective into an industry which was (and still is!) overwhelmingly dominated by the male POV.

As Horn and Keegan said at the L.A. Times piece linked above,
Ephron's brand of feminism was winking rather than strident. At a Hollywood awards event several years ago, she looked about the room and said, "When they write the history of the feminist struggle in America, I always wonder how this lunch will exactly fit in. We are definitely the best-dressed oppressed group." 
And truth is I don't necessarily relate to the romantic-focused stories that Ephron is famous for. However, I madly respect her work and the progress she made for women in the industry. Her mission is far from over. It's on the rest of us now to take the touch and carry it on. Rest now, Nora. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pixar Gets Brave

This is part of my series on the gender of the 2012 big budget blockbusters. Check out the others:The Hunger GamesPrometheus, MIB3The AvengersSnow White and the HuntsmanMagic Mikeand Ted/Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.

Remember that lie we're told in which children's stories/movies with female protagonists don't do well because boys don't like girl driven stories? WELL, HA! In your face! Disney/Pixar's Brave is doing really, really well which is awesome.

I caught Brave yesterday afternoon. I was super excited for it, especially after I heard this quote from director, Brenda Chapman: "I wanted an athletic girl. I wanted a wildness about her, so that’s where the hair came in, to underscore that free spirit. But mainly I wanted to give girls something to look at and not feel inadequate." Yay! So as I sat down yesterday and the lights went dark in the theater, I was amped for a strong female character. What I got was that and much more. Without further ado, and while trying to keep it as un-spoilery as possible, here's what I loved about Brave!

Ted and Abe

This is part of my series on the gender of the 2012 big budget blockbusters. Check out the others:The Hunger GamesPrometheus, MIB3The AvengersBrave, Snow White and the Huntsman, Magic Mike.

Remember when I said that I didn't really know what to say about MIB3 because there weren't really women in it? Well...I should have waited until I saw Ted and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter because I could have just made it a three part piece called: What Women?

In case you are unaware, Ted is Seth MacFarlane's brain child starring Mark Wahlberg. It is a "story centered on a man and his teddy bear, who comes to life as the result of a childhood wish." Abraham Lincoln is based on the book written by Seth Grahame-Smith (author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.) It is described as such: "Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them."

Listen, I'm not an idiot. I didn't go into these movies looking for a feminist hero or tale. MacFarlane, in particular, is not known for feminist-friendly humor. And true to my expectations, both films have a great deal of eye rolling-ness (with a side of racism!) All the women in these films (and there's about four of them who have speaking roles between the two flicks) are relegated to serving as accessories to men. Of course, both fail the Brechdel test epically. I don't consider the Brechdel test to be the end-all-be-all of feminist film analysis, but the level of irrelevance that women are to these stories was nicely evident as I tried to see if female characters would ever talk to one another (and not about a man).

Both movies also play into the stereotype of goodhearted women who are better than the men they are with...and yet they love the men without question. Love is a great thing, don't get me wrong, but it does get really tired to see all these men who don't deserve the women they're with. And besides, if these women are so great and amazing...why are they so important to the stories? Why don't they have their own stuff going on? Even friends at the least?

It was a pretty great sampling of the fact that 70% of speaking roles go to men.

I don't really have much else to say.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Snow White and the Old Hag Who Should Step Aside

This is part of my series on 2012 big budget blockbusters. Check out the others:The Hunger GamesPrometheus, MIB3Ted/Abraham Lincoln Vampire HunterBraveMagic Mikeand The Avengers

Much like my MIB3 post, I've delayed and delayed writing on Snow White and the Huntsman. When I saw the movie, I didn't really feel compelled to add anything to the dialogue about it. (Or lack of dialogue about it, I'm not sure.) Plus, it just didn't really move me to write.

But now that it has simmered in my brain for a few weeks, I figured I'd take a stab at sorting out what exactly went down between the ladies in the film.

Were You In Need of Your Daily Dose of Fat Shame?

(TW weight talk and fat shame.)

Well no worries! The commenters at Jezebel are here for you!

As someone in my office pointed out this morning, Jezebel ran a piece on gyms which are allegedly banning skinny people. Here's an excerpt from it:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Douche Bag of the Day! Adam Carolla

DBOTD isn't a real thing I write about, but it really could be given all the fodder out there. Anyhoo--the award today goes, by far, to Adam Carolla, who in a seemingly desperate attempt to pretend he's still relevant, claimed women aren't funny.

Yawn. How original.

For what it's worth, here's an excerpt from his statements that are absolutely blowing up today for their totally predictable sexism that could have been heard as easily in 1982 as 2012:
If my daughter has a mediocre sense of humor, I'm just gonna tell her, "Be a staff writer for a sitcom. Because they'll have to hire you, they can't really fire you and you don't have to produce that much. It'll be awesome."
Gee, his daughter is so lucky to have such an awesome, empowering, supportive dad who has total faith in her! To combat Carolla's stupidity, I'd like to refer here to a very funny lady, Mindy Kaling when she addressed this very issue in her book:
Why didn't you talk about whether women are funny or not?
I just felt that by communicating that in any real way, it would be tacit approval of it as a legitimate debate, which it isn't. It should be the same as addressing the issue of "Should dogs and cats be able to care for children? They're in the house anyway." I try not to make it a habit to seriously discuss nonsensical hot-button issues. 
That's what's up.

 And lastly, I'd also like to make a book recommendation from another very funny lady. I recently read Rachel Dratch's Girl Walks into a Bar and it had some great stories about her struggle as a "troll, ogre, or woodland creature" by Hollywood standards. She also chronicles having an unplanned pregnancy later in life, all with warmth, levelheadedness, and most of all HUMOR.

So go away, Carolla. GO AWAY.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Isolation of Boys (another "Sexism Hurts Everyone" Reminder)

(TW Sandusky Trial discussion)

I was listening to NPR this morning, as I am apt to do, and I caught a snippet of last Friday's "Barber Shop" segment on Tell Me More. Michele Martin and the guys were discussing the Jerry Sandusky trial. The coverage of the trial to this point has been disgustingly chock full o' rape apologism. But the discussion I caught on the "Barber Shop" brought up an interesting point. One of the men shared that he felt that part of how Sandusky got so far in preying on boys was the fact that society socializes men and boys to keep away from deep conversations. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Men In Black 3: MEN, Indeed

This post is part of my series on the gender portrayed in all of the 2012 summer/spring blockbusters. You can check out my other ones here; The Avengersthe Hunger GamesBraveSnow White and the Huntsman, Ted/Abraham Lincoln Vampire HunterMagic Mikeand Prometheus

So, I first saw MIB3 over its opening weekend, at the end of May. When I started this series, I kept thinking, "I should go back and add in MIB3" but I was really, really puzzled about what I could actually write. Because here's my really short analysis of the gender portrayal in this movie: What women?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Quick Thought: Asking About Kids

Sometimes I feel like I got a different social rule book than other people. I just can't, for the life of me, understand why asking someone about their future plans to have kids is a seemingly acceptable --nay an expected--question to ask a married woman in her late 20's.

I mean, I understand if you are close friends with the person and you are discussing general life plans/whatever, but people I have just met quite often inquire about my interest in procreation. And older people will sometimes even remind me that I'm in my "best years" for that stuff right now.

How did such a deeply personal inquiry become publicly acceptable? I'm genuinely curious!

This subject is one which could invoke any number of really uncomfortable things for the askee. For example, what if that person is already trying to have kids and is struggling with fertility issues? What if they just miscarried? What if they have never and will never want kids in the first place? With that latter situation, if the woman asserts that she doesn't want kids, you can bet that someone will tell her that she'll change her mind or that she's too young to know now or that her "clock will go off"--blah, blah, blah. As if this stranger knows her better than she knows herself! And even if she does change her mind later, what business is it of yours, as a random person, to undermine the opinion she just shared with you?

It's all so odd to me. Even though I do plan to have kids (a kid?) someday and the actual answering of this question is relatively painless for me, I can't help but think of what a shitty situation it is that people just ask this willy-nilly.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Women's Bodies Can't Win

(TW weight talk)

Sociological Images has up a story about "reverse photoshopping." It's really interesting and you should absolutely check it out. Apparently, reverse photoshopping "is the practice of photoshopping models to hide the health and aesthetic costs of extreme thinness." (For what it's worth, I think photoshopping is photoshopping and I think the "reverse" is a bit of a misnomer.)

Anyway, they site this image of Cameron Diaz:

While the image of Diaz is not extreme, the differences are noticeable, particularly through the filling out of her thighs and waist. Here's a quote from the article about the lengths this retouching goes to when non-celebrity models are extremely thin:
Thanks to retouching, our readers… never saw the horrible, hungry downside of skinny. That these underweight girls didn’t look glamorous in the flesh. Their skeletal bodies, dull, thinning hair, spots and dark circles under their eyes were magicked away by technology, leaving only the allure of coltish limbs and Bambi eyes.
This is pretty revealing. I don't want to shame anyone's body and suggest that the extremely thin models are disgusting, but I think we can all agree that these changes don't send a realistic message to society.

To me, this stands as further proof that as a woman, you just can't win. The issue here is two fold.

1) Stereotypical models' bodies which conform to the traditional beauty standard of thinness are still not good enough. So they are change. And, just like always, the images we are left with are, for all intents and purposes, fake.

2) It erases the toll that extreme thinness takes on a person and perpetuates the myth that being as thin as possible is healthy and best. It's the creation of a mythical "perfect" person whose body weight is extremely low, but doesn't look gaunt.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dress Codes, Sexual Harassment, and Victim Blaming, Oh My!

(TW rape victim blaming)

Jessica Valenti has a great piece at the Nation about the sexism of student dress codes. She chronicles the new dress code of her former school, New York’s Stuyvesant High School. As she reports,
Another senior, Lucinda Ventimiglia, told the student newspaper, the Spectator, “I’ve been told that even though my skirts were technically acceptable, they were still too short for me to wear, and once it was suggested that I should follow a separate dress code, wherein my skirts should end at least four inches past my fingertips, and preferably at my knees.”
Ventimiglia also recalled being stopped by a school official who told her that her dress was too short [and] that she could “show off her curves” when she wasn’t in school. “She then went on to say that the dress code was only instituted for my protection, because there are a lot of bad men outside school, and if I was raped nobody would be able to take that away from me. Then, she said, ‘and you want a husband, don’t you?’ ”
Say whaaaat?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Gillian Jacobs Real Talk

Gillian Jacobs is doing a series over at Rookie with advice for teen girls. I love Rookie (created by Tavi Gevinson, who I respect immensely) and I also love Jacobs--what could be better?

"Don't stop being the smart girl for anyone, ever."

Jacobs isn't dealing out extreme pearls of wisdom, but it is from the heart and it is very applicable. She talks about her experiences as a high schooler and feeling very lonely. And she does it all without any make up on. It's no secret that I love Community, and Jacobs is reminding me that there's a lot of heart and realness behind that crew over there.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Prometheus: We Miss You, Ripley!

I've decided I'm making this a series on the gender portrayed in all of the 2012 summer/spring blockbusters. You can check out my other ones here; The Avengers, the Hunger GamesSnow White and the HuntsmanMIB3Ted/Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, BraveMagic Mike.

So I caught a midnight screening of Prometheus last night. Although it was made 33 years later, Prometheus is a prequel to the popular sci-fi/horror flick Alien, directed by Ridley Scott. Of course, prior to last night, Mr. Nerdy Feminist made sure that I backed up and had actually seen Alien. (I thought I had before but I think that was actually Aliens and I know for sure I have definitely seen Alien Vs. Predator. Oh how proud I am of that...either way I'm all good and caught up now.)

Without spoiling anything, I can say that the amazing character of Ellen Ripley, as portrayed by Sigourney Weaver in Alien does NOT have a match in Prometheus. In fact, I'm very disappointed that at least in this series, it appears we've quite regressed in the last 33 years. I was so disappointed and concerned that I actually started to jot down the following notes in the theater. (Thank goodness it was the Alamo Drafthouse so I had a paper, pen, and table all at hand.)

And now I'm going to get very spoilery under the cut, so considered yourself warned. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Military Moms and Breaking Patriarchy

So you've seen this picture, yes? I first heard about this story last week. Apparently, some people have a big issue with it. According to the Today show:

The debate over nursing in public got a new layer recently, when photos taken on an Air Force base began to circulate online. In the series of tasteful professional photos showing beaming moms as they nurse their kids, one jumps out: the photo of two servicewomen with their uniform shirts unbuttoned and hiked up to breast-feed. 
"A lot of people are saying it's a disgrace to the uniform. They're comparing it to urinating and defecating [while in uniform]," says Crystal Scott, a military spouse who started Mom2Mom in January as a breast-feeding support group for military moms and "anyone related to the base" at Fairchild AFB outside Spokane, Wash. "It's extremely upsetting. Defecating in public is illegal. Breast-feeding is not."
I saw it as another unnecessary blow up about breastfeeding. I shared it on Facebook saying, "If you have a problem with this picture, maybe you should examine what's wrong with you." A few friends affirmed my opinion and a military member or two even agreed that it wasn't a big deal. And then I moved on and promptly forgot about it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

In Which I Defend "I Broke A Nail!"

[Content note: pictures of a nail injuries under the fold.]

You read right. I can't believe I'm about to go there either...

So I have long written and thought and written and rambled about the fact that our society is kind of obsessed with hating on the stereotypically feminine. But as someone who embraces my femininity and is kiiiiinda obsessed with nail polish, I follow a bunch of polish Tumblrs. Recently, I was reminded of the "OMG I broke a nail!" thing.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Miss USA Pageant Circuit Never Fails to Make Me Cringe

Listen...I don't want to hate on pageants. I'm a big proponent against the disparagement of traditional femininity. But pageants and the Miss USA circuit in particular (run by the wonderful *gag* Donald Trump) keep giving me fodder for big time eye rolls. They're making it easy to just dismiss them all together.

So it's no surprise that Miss Ohio, Audrey Bolte, had this to say Sunday night when she was asked if women are portrayed positive in the media, and if so, to cite a positive female role model:
"I think it depends on the movie. I think there are some movies that depict women in a very positive role, and then some movies that put them in a little bit more of negative role. But by the end of the movie, they show that woman power that I know we all have. Such as the movie 'Pretty Woman'. We had a wonderful, beautiful woman, Julia Roberts, and she was having a rough time, but, you know what, she came out on top and she didn’t let anybody stand in her path."
I don't know what's worse...that Bolte answered Pretty Woman for this question or that she reportedly later said she didn't know that movie was about a prostitute who was essentially rescued by a rich dude. I mean, if you're going to cite a movie as the answer to a question on national television, you had better be damn familiar with the movie. Even if it's a really horrible example to cite: at least know the material!

To be fair--all of the media snark and cyberbullying that follow these pageant gaffes don't really help anyone. It feels like it's constructed to make these women fall into the "stupid hot girl" trope and make sure that at least one of them each year goes home feeling like shit about herself. I mean, I couldn't tell you who won Miss Teen USA in 2007, but I sure could do a mean impression of Miss South Carolina's horrible "such as...South Africa...such as...and the Iraq" answer.

So I'm not going to dwell in my disdain for Bolte's answer anymore...but I'll leave it at this: if you're asked if women are portrayed positively in the media and your first thought is a Julia Roberts character from the 90s who depends on a wealthy man: JUST SAY NO.

When Your Body Doesn't Love You Back


I know I'm not the first person to feel really betrayed by my body, but damn if it isn't frustrating!

So here's the thing--I haven't felt 100% for a really, really long time. I have felt generally crappy and lethargic, but nothing so much that I felt I should seek medical advice. That is, until a case of vertigo set in. Or at least, I think it's vertigo. Basically, for well over a week now, no matter what I am doing, or how my body is positioned, I feel like I'm moving. Sometimes I feel like I'm slowly moving toward the ground, sometimes I feel like my head and body are just slightly stirring when they're not.

It's affecting my life, pretty much all around, but not to a degree that I'm bed ridden or anything. On the inside, I feel like I am clumsily stumbling around, when in reality, I'm totally in control of my body. So as I'm walking my head will spin and I get nauseous very easily. I feel like I'm in a perpetual foggy headed state (even though I'm not really!) which makes me short tempered and irritable. It's extremely hard for me to concentrate on almost anything. In fact, because it affects how I view the world, most moments, it's all I can think about. Staring at a screen my eyes feel like they're moving, so of course I've been reading and writing less. In my day job, tasks that usually wouldn't feel too monumental get me overwhelmed because the fake-foggy-headedness undermines my confidence. Workouts are a big struggle because it gets much worse when I'm moving all around. I can sleep comfortably, but that's the only normal thing in my routine.

The best words that I can use to describe it is that I feel like I've had 2 beers on an empty stomach. You know that feeling? When you're not really drunk per se, but you're tipsy and trying to act normal? I've felt like that for almost every moment of the past 8 days.

Luckily, I'm going to the doctor tomorrow and I will hopefully have some kind of idea about what they heck is going on with me. Because all I know is that this can't continue. I came into a pretty tough day today at work and pushing through it with this going on was almost the undoing of me.

But it's got me thinking, in great detail, about what it means to feel betrayed by your body. I've always been fairly healthy. I mean, the worst things I've encountered have been a severe ankle sprain a few years ago and walking pneumonia when I was 13. Other than that, I've been privileged enough to take my health for granted.

It's no secret that I spend a lot of time strategically trying to love my body. And it's a hard task which takes attention, because the world is constantly telling me (and all women) that I'm not good enough. But I've never fully considered how much harder it can be when you're also frustrated at your body because of what it can't do or because of how it is currently behaving.

I know that my situation is most likely temporary and vertigo isn't the worst thing that a person can face on a daily basis--but damn if it doesn't remind me to be thankful for what I have.

So body, you're not my best friend right now, but I'm going to keep on loving you. Even though I'm drowning in anger at my damn inner ears.