Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Kiss My Pasta Loving Butt, Eat This, Not That!

It's been everywhere. Lady Gaga gained some weight and the media goes crazy. So she comes back with a "Body Revolution" project on her website and discloses that she has been struggling with anorexia and bulimia for over a decade. It's all interesting, and if you haven't heard much about it, I suggest you check out the coverage and discussions at Feministing or Bitch. (The integrity of her "Body Revolution" project, for example, is very much the center of a debate in many fat positive and feminist spaces right now.)

But what I'd like to talk about was brought to my attention last night when I saw that Zerlina Maxwell tweeted:

[Tweet reads: "hey guys Lady Gaga also said she had an eating disorder so how about now using her for your tweet. thx. @EatThisNotThat]

I couldn't help but wonder, what exactly had Eat This, Not That said?

[Tweet reads: "Lady Gaga blames her recent 25-lb weigh gain on pasta. To avoid a similar fate, stay away from these 7 pasta crimes.]

Oh how lovely.

Leave it to a member of the 60 billion dollar a year weight loss industry to try to capitalize on someone's body related vulnerability. Lady Gaga reveals something deeply personal, talks frankly about her body and her struggles with it, and Eat This, Not That turns it into a food shaming discussion intended to help us "avoid the same fate?"


You know what would actually help us "avoid the same fate" (here meaning the further spread of eating disorders)? A culture where all different bodies are appreciated and valued. One where certain foods are not coded "good" and others as "bad." One free from food policing. One where we stop putting celebrities' bodies (and all of our bodies!) under extreme scrutiny. One where we all emphatically agree: there is no wrong way to have a body.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"All that Matters is that You Vote."

Today is National Voter Registration Day! If you have not already registered to vote, take action now to ensure that your voice is heard this November.

But...while we're on this topic, I'd like to tackle a BIG myth that I hear perpetuated in tandem with this topic. People will say, in an effort to be inclusive and non-partisan, "It doesn't matter how you vote, all that matters is that you vote."

While I appreciate the effort at neutrality here (no one should ever be bullied into a vote!) I've got to say I totally disagree with the sentiment. It's true, voting is a cornerstone of a democratic society. But if it is done without taking steps to inform yourself about who would be the best representative of your views, it's a waste and could work to your own detriment.

So no--voting is not all that matters. Making an informed vote is what counts. But beyond that, voting alone does not a "good citizen" make. We can't forget about all the other ways to be a civically involved person, too. Volunteering at a local nonprofit, peacefully protesting legislation you oppose, singing petitions, organizing a food drive, picking up after your dog, and helping your elderly neighbor mow his lawn...all that stuff counts too!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Just Take a Joke, Bitch!

As you may know, I run the Tumblr "Sexism! As Seen on Facebook." (For why I would do this, see here.)

It's been an interesting journey for the past 5 weeks, and one which is actually more horrifying than I had originally imagined. When I started this project, I anticipated that it would be emotionally exhausting to deal with the worst-of-the-web on a daily basis...but I'm not sure I fully appreciated just how insidious Facebook/internet bigots could be. However, I still believe in the importance of calling sexist shit out, so onward I go!

The refreshing thing is that I've received a ton of positive feedback. I'm gathering followers and people are sharing and expanding my content frequently. On a daily basis, I feel validated in this project.

However, when it comes to trolls--the biggest feedback I get via comments added to reblogs and "questions" is that I am somehow lacking in a sense of humor. I've briefly tackled this stupid stereotype before, but I'd like to expand upon it for a moment. When I find sexist "jokes" to be unfunny, it actually has nothing to do with my sense of humor (which is alive and well, I can assure you.) Instead it has everything to do with three big issues I take...

1) Sexist "jokes" are not actually funny.

If someone tells you a "chicken crossed the road" joke would you laugh? Probably not. That joke is so played out that it is utterly eye roll worthy. That's how sexist "jokes" are when you think about it. I mean--how many times has some dude said "make me a sammich" or "get in the kitchen?" It's just about the most tired thing ever. In most people's view, one of the keys to humor is originality and a keen insight into an experience. But sexism has existed for all of our conceivable human history--so what's funny about saying the exact same thing as every other dude bro? So offensiveness aside, these things just don't follow the general rules of what would make me laugh.

2) Sexist "jokes" normalize sexism.

One element to the comments I'm getting is that sexist "jokes" aren't a big deal, so I should just be OK with them and focus my attention elsewhere.

What people are missing here is that when we tolerate "humor" of this nature, we are participating in the normalization of sexism and a culture of misogyny, no matter how "small" the comments might seem. When we allow "jokes" about domestic violence, rape, abuse, slut shaming, and etc. it conveys the message that, "Hey! That's just how life is. Ah well. Ha. Ha. Haaaaa." I'm not okay with that. And that is precisely why I will never accept sexist "jokes" as something I should just get over, or worse yet, just laugh off.

Accepting sexism, rape, violence, etc. is absolutely antithetical to my life's work. So why in the world would I just laugh that stuff off?

3) Saying, "just take a joke!" is a silencing tactic.

When these men are telling me to just laugh at this stuff, they are being as sexist as the "jokes" they are supporting. They are trying to undermine my message by belittling it and deeming it unimportant. They are trying to exercise control over my opinion, mood, and feelings. They are trying to shame me into complacency, because when you're a sexist douche bag, you really don't like it when someone points out that you're a sexist douche bag. It's much more convenient when people keep their objections to themselves. (And for the record, denying sexism exists and saying that this is all in my head, or whatever, is both foolish and gas lighting.)

You see, if I talk about this stuff loud enough and often enough, other people might hear me and think that I'm on to something. And then there will be more people who don't think it's A-OK for you to hate women. And then you can't just go around hating women. Hmm...that sounds like an outcome that would be great for me.

So yeah, basically I'm not going to laugh at sexist "jokes." I'm not going to keep quiet about sexism. And I'm not going to pay ANY attention to how strangers on the internet think I should spend my time.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Leslie Knope/Amy Poehler...I Love Ya

This week has been INTENSE. Not only am I about 5 weeks away from my event at work, but I also was out for a day and a half at a professional conference. Lots of learnings were had, which is great, but any time away from my desk means I'm playing catch up. I also have/had quite a few social commitments lately (including my birthday celebration this weekend, what what!) With all these distractions, I missed the season premiere of Parks and Recreation last night.

So unlike me.

Never fear. I just caught up and it's reminding me of just how much I love Leslie Knope.

You see--the writers of Parks and Recreation have been able to build a show around a female character who loves her job, is good at what she does, and is civic-minded, ethical, and smart, all while making us laugh at every turn. She struggles with things we can all relate to (this time long distance relationships and jealousy) but at the end to the day, she does what's right (cleaning up a local river.) And most of the time everyone, even Ron, has a thing or two to learn from her (employee appreciation events boost morale!)

In a world where so many female characters are secondary, vapid, "hot," objectified, and/or playing the "straight man" to men's comedic relief--Parks and Rec has a number of hilarious, wonderful, multidimensional, diverse women.

And it doesn't hurt that Leslie is played by one badass woman herself. Amy Poehler doesn't just play a cool lady on TV: She actually walks the walk. Through her work with Smart Girls at the Party (which is headquartered here in Austin!) and Ask Amy videos, Poehler is encouraging girls to "change the world by being yourself" and dispensing advice about body image, friendships, and dealing with stress.

Ah, I just love it.

As a feminist cultural critic (can I call myself that?) I spend a lot of time shaking my head and cringing. It's so nice to have a break where I can laugh, smile, and cheer for one bad ass lady.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

No, Yahoo. No.

For some reason, Yahoo really likes sexism. A few days ago, this story popped up on the Yahoo homepage when I went to go check the email inbox that I use for all spammy things:

[Yahoo story title reads: Jessica Biel: Soon to Be Mrs. Justin Timberlake! 5 Fun Things You Should Know]

So now Jessica Biel is "soon to be Mrs. Justin Timberlake?" Last I checked, Biel is a celebrity in her own right...I mean, if she started going around identifying as Mrs. Timberlake, it would be one thing (I'd disagree w/ that decision, but at least it would be her choice...) But this is Yahoo just being dumb.

They're used to it...

[Yahoo story title reads: 15 things women do that turn off guys]

What? Did you want to do things just to be you? NAH! It's about what guys like,  you silly womern. And just today, they're making sure they play their part in another media catfight watch. Gross.

[Yahoo story reads: Mariah Carey: No feuding with Minaj on "Idol" yet]

You'd think with their new CEO, one of the most powerful women in the business world, Marissa Mayer, they'd be a little more female empowering. But you'd be wrong. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Being Viewed as Pre-Pregnant

Apparently, pregnancy testing in bars is a discussion that is being had. Personally--I find that whole thing to be a whole lot of "Huh? What?" But reading the commentary over at Feministe did get my wheels turning about something that I interact with on an almost daily basis.

You see, there's a law here in Texas that requires "establishments selling alcohol for onpremise consumption, such as restaurants and bars, to post signs on men’s and women’s bathroom doors that remind the public of the health risks posed to unborn children when pregnant women drink alcohol." Here's the sign I'm talking about:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

NBC's New Fall Shows--Blech

I don't have cable. But I love TV. The result is that random shows are often playing in the background while I write or browse the internet. And NBC comes in the clearest, so that's what is usually on in my house. Yes, like America's Got Talent. Yes, like The Voice. I'm not proud of this, ok! It just happens.

Ronald accuses me of actually watching theses shows, a charge which I vehemently deny, but that's a debate for another day. At any rate, their content seeps into my head, whether it's intentional or not. The past few nights while I've been vegging out, I've caught some of the new show line up. Let's be honest: when a network is behind the slow, sad execution of one of my favorite shows of all time, I tend to get a little bitter about what they bring out next. I mean--if you're putting Community in the death slot, you had sure better be bringing some amazing replacement content.

I can assure you, however, that is not the case. Let me run through my initial reactions to three new shows: Go On, The New Normal, and Guys With Kids.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What I'm Reading

Here's some stuff I've been reading to get you through the midweek slump.

Flavia Dzodan at Tiger Beatdown: Feminism has Abandoned Me

Every time I see reports about reproductive justice in the Western world, I am painfully reminded of the women who have been deprived of their children, of their lives, of any future whatsoever because they were born in the “wrong” countries.

Kath at Fat Heffalump: Can We Kill the Priviledge Deyning, Please?

This is not a matter of thin vs fat. It is a matter of reclaiming our bodies as acceptable no matter what size or shape they are, and getting rid of tropes that label one type of woman as more real than another. But until fat people are treated as equal human beings to not-fat people, thin privilege will always exist.

Adrienne K. at Racialicious: Paul Frank Offends Every Native Person On The Planet With Fashion Night Out “Dream Catchin’ Pow Wow”
How clever, the font of the “Dream Catchin’” looks like teepees! How clever, the Paul Frank monkey is wearing warpaint and a sacred headdress! How clever, we put him in the center of a dream catcher, complete with pony beads and neon feathers! The Paul Frank Facebook page posted well over 1,000 photos of partygoers posing on their runway with plastic tomahawks and headdresses. After the firestorm of criticism last night (more on that in a minute), all the photos are down off the page as of this morning.

Jill at Feministe: Breastfeeding Sick Babies in Class
To me, there are a couple of issues here, and breastfeeding is the least of them. Is breastfeeding in class a big deal (or should it be)? No. If a mom is breastfeeding during a break or even during a lecture and the feeding isn’t interrupting anything, then who cares? What’s more interesting (and questionable) is the general issue of bringing a small child to work, when your work is as a professor lecturing a classroom of students.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chris Brown is in a Competition...

He tries to out douchebag himself at every turn. And he's winning.

He’s tattooed an image of a battered woman, which looks strikingly like the images taken to document Rihanna’s injuries though he of course denies it’s her, on his neck...I’m not sure what’s less attractive—that Brown would document his assault on a specific woman he was in a relationship with, or that he wants to bear the image of a random battered woman on his body. Either way, whether he intends penance or defiance, Brown’s guaranteed that no one will be able to look at him without a reminder that he attacked a woman.
Congrats, Breezy. You're the worst! Thank you for making it abundantly clear.

Past writing on CB, if you're interested:
What Do We Do With Breezy?
I Figured It Out.
"I reject Chris Brown's comeback!"

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Woman Said Something?! Let's All Insult Her Body!

You guys...Nicki Minaj is not a Mitt Romney supporter. I know you were really concerned about this, but rest assured. This "controversy" started when Minaj said this on a Lil Wayne mixtape:
"I'm a Republican voting for Mitt Romney/ You lazy bitches are fucking up the economy"
A ringing endorsement, right? People got kinda riled up about the whole thing totally missing the point that Minaj was being satirical. I mean--my understanding of it is that Minaj was using satire/a character when she referred to "lazy bitches" as the problem with the economy. Often the welfare queen stereotype is utilized by people like Mitt Romney, and I think she's calling that out. Obama even came to her defense about it.

But what really caught my attention on this issue was this image, that I found under the Facebook tag on Tumblr.
[Image text after cut.]

I'm not surprised that when people totally didn't get the joke and thought Minaj was actually endorsing Romney they went ballistic. As a young, black woman Minaj is "supposed to" be an Obama supporter, and I'm sure a majority of her fans are too. So certainly people got mad. Fine. Whatever. You could even make a case that Minaj is not positive for "all females" like this commenter attempted to do. Again, that's just fine, but what I can't get over is how quickly this dissolved into body snark. How can you call someone out for being disrespectful to women and then call her "plastic" and make fun of her "fake ass?"

But people apparently LOVED this opinion. Not only have I seen this screen cap all over Tumblr in the past few days, but at the time that this screen cap was taken, it has almost 400,000 likes. Can you even begin to imagine a male celebrity having their body brought in as an insult just because they shared (what is perceived to be) an unpopular political opinion?

I think Ms. Minaj is doing just fine though.
[Tweets from Minaj: "Awesome! Now I can tell my grandchildren that the 1st black President of the United States took the time to address a Nicki Minaj question" (sic) and "Ha! Thank you for understanding my creative humor & sarcasm Mr. President, the smart ones always do...*sends love & support*"]

Yeah, she seems OK. But it'd sure be nice if we could get to a place where women's bodies are not up for constant public debate, regardless.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lana Del Rey in GQ: Sexual Expression or Objectification?

I'm sure by now you've seen this image floating around. Lana Del Rey was featured on GQ's cover nude as their "Woman of the Year." That alone is not surprising. But when you see the four other covers featured as the "men of the year" and notice that they're all wearing tuxes, the situation gets a bit trickier.

[Photo: the male covers featuring James Corden, Robbie Williams, Tinie Tempah, and John Slattery all in tuxes followed by Lana Del Rey nude]

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The DNC, Gay Rights, and Trailblazer Madeline Davis

I'll be honest...I'm still coming down off of a fan girl high from Bill Clinton's speech at the DNC last night. If you didn't catch it, I'm sure you at least heard about it. (And watch it here. it.) My Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook were all blowing up. Clinton said a lot of really important things--stuff that needed to be said and what Obama can't necessarily say as the actual candidate. (Have I mentioned you should watch it?!)

Overall, I've been fairly pleased with the events I've watched and heard about at the DNC. The party, while never as left leaning as I'd like, is clearly much more representative of my interests than the Republicans. And to be really blunt, I don't feel there's a lack of sincerity on our side. I do agree with many people on my Twitter feed last night who stated that there needs to new faces of reproductive rights. Sandra Fluke was amazing yesterday and had important messages--but why is the person who speaks on this issue always white, cis, able bodied, middle class, etc? It's certainly time that some reproductive justice activists take the stage. I'd like to hear from them.

I am, however, ecstatic that the DNC has added marriage equality to the national platform. When I think about the possibility of that happening even just 4 years ago, I can't imagine it. There is clearly progress in the works.

Support for gay rights and marriage equality (while certainly not totally widespread) do finally seem to be mainstream opinions. It can be very easy to take this current situation for granted so it's important to remember that people have been gay activists for a very long time. In listening to "Tell Me More" on NPR this morning, I heard a segment about Madeline Davis. I wasn't aware of Davis, because the American history I grew up learning was very stale, male, pale, and straight. As according to the program:
At the 1972 Democratic National Convention, Madeline Davis asked for something that had never been proposed at a major party convention. In a floor speech, the New York delegate asked her fellow Democrats to endorse platform language defending the civil rights of gay people. And now, 40 years later, marriage equality has been adopted as a plank in the 2012 Democratic Party platform.
In the segment, Davis talks with Michele Martin in detail about what it was like being the first out gay person to stand before a national party and talk about civil rights for homosexuals and how her party received her. You can read or listen to the segment here. I highly suggest you check it out. It's a great reflection of 1) how far we've come 2) how far we have to go and 3) that social change isn't easy or quick but so long as there's people working on it, progress can and will be made.

Unfortunately, I won't be home tonight to watch Obama accept the nomination for his second term. I will however be sure to catch a replay. I have no doubt that he will deliver.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Taking Care of Myself Through Stressful Times

Well. It's September.

I remember when I used to like this time of year best. It brought with it my birthday, cooler temperatures, and all kinds of delicious fall treats and fashion. But that was before the fall meant my busiest time of year...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

So Pitch Perfect: Which Way Will This Go?

Have you seen the trailer for Pitch Perfect? It's pretty much Glee for the big screen.

I hadn't really paid much attention to it, but a quote by Rebel Wilson (who you may remember as the hilariously odd roommate in Bridesmaids) stood out to me. She plays a character called "Fat Amy." From the trailer:

Some girl: "You call yourself 'Fat Amy?'"
Rebel Wilson: "Yeah, so that tweaked bitches like you don't do it behind my back."

Oh snap.

I hadn't planned on seeing the movie. It's not up my alley at all. I can tell it's gonna be super cheesy and just appeal to the general Glee crowd, and I never got into that phenom in the first place. But my friend Brittany told me that I'd be seeing it with her, so it appears I'm going...At least I will  have an agenda in seeing it. Because this quote from the trailer is very interesting to me and the depiction of Fat Amy could really go either way. I'm interested to see how it will turn out. Much like Glee, it appears that this film is trying to portray a world which is at least closer to the diversity that actually exists.

All I know is that I like Rebel Wilson, so I will give this a fair shake and see how it turns out. I'm really hoping I'll love Fat Amy.