Thursday, June 30, 2011

Switched at Birth Episode 4: Dance Amongst Daggers

Still LOVING Switched at Birth. It's so good! All the elements of a show that I love. Sibling rivalry... switched at birth children rivalry... love triangles... adult drama... socio-economic brackets mixing... All that good stuff.

In this episode the Kennishes hosted the annual fundraising auction for Bay's and Toby's fancy school. This kind of plot device is the stuff of champions. Viewers love to root for the poor underdogs (Daphne, Regina) but like to do so in a comfortable millionaire setting (the Kennish family home). Like, you know, in every show ever. The Humphreys in Gossip Girl, Ryan in The OC, etc. Anyway, I think the show is generally doing an okay job with class issues. They're much more about confronting them and naming them than tokenizing them (a la The OC and GG). So it comes out that Daphne is dating Bay's ex, Liam, from her school! What?! NO! Teen drama commence!

Of course, Bay has been seeing Ty all the time that Daphne has been hanging out with Liam. What!? NO! But Ty and Daphne were just friends, right??? Well, that will be revealed next episode, maybe.

Anyway, Bay is overdramatic and bitchy about Daphne dating Liam, and makes herself known. Daphne, other than her initial shock about Bay with Ty, leaves that alone because she's a lot more mature than spoiled Bay.

I just want to note that even though Bay is like a really shitty and moody teenager, I still like her character. Daphne is nicer and much more likeable, but I think Vanessa Marano is doing well portraying Bay in such a way that you still hope that she grows and becomes a little less petty and teenagerish.

So, obvious love ven diagrams emerge. AND, although it was hinted at before, it's made clear that Daphne's best friend, Emmett, has a crush on her as well. Emmett is upset that Daphne is dating a hearing person and insists that Liam will never be able to understand her (the way he does) because they are hearing impaired and Liam is not. The implication is that Emmett thinks he is perfect for Daphne. Personally, Liam is too sticky sweet for me. I think this is the writers' fault, but I'm rooting for Emmett because he's funny and Liam is kind of dullsville.

Meanwhile, Catherine is in her own public relations personal hell because of all the gossip going around. Regina doesn't really care what people think, so it doesn't bother her. However, when she senses things are happening that might push Catherine over the edge, she intervenes (if only because she recognizes an unhappy Catherine will make her life really difficult).

Bay tells Daphne that she crossed a line with Liam, which isn't really true, but Daphne breaks up with him anyway after being guilted by Bay AND the ultimate virgin-shaming line, "But I know how to keep a guy interested." OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. No she didn't!

But she did. So Daphne breaks up with Liam, and despite his protests, ends it with this GREAT line, "I don't know what to call her, I don't even know if I like her, but she is the only one on the planet who understands what I'm going through."

Good point! Bay is not nice and maybe doesn't deserve your grace, but ruling her out as an ally is not smart!

So Daphne, depressed, wanders around contemplatively just as Emmett storms out, angry after watching her and Liam make lovey-eyes at each other all night. Thank god, strife. This show can have 10 seasons running on the love lives of just these few characters. Anyway, Ty shows up at this point and he and Bay leave together almost immediately, as Daphne stares them down. Whatthacrap, Bay?! Really? If she were really so upset about Liam she would not be in this new, volatile and passionate teen relationship with Ty (who is so cute, BTW). Daphne has a right to be angry. I hope this anger erupts next episode!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

First Look at Brave

Pixar released a teaser trailer for their first movie (of 13) in 16 years to feature a female main character and a female director called Brave. What do you think? Does it look good?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Women's Studies: The Horror Movie

This looks... awful. Really, really awful. Potentially so bad that it's funny though? But as the youtube description tells me it's on Netflix... I may watch it. From IMDB:
Women's Studies is the story of a pregnant grad student and her friends who are held captive at a women's academy that's actually a cult of feminists bent on the enslavement of men. A look at groupthink, women's issues, and how blind belief in a one-sided dogma can create a terrorist.
It sounds like it was written by a man about his fears and insecurities about women... la la la, let's take a look, OH, there we go, it was!

One review I found said,
The concept of women killing men or having them as zombie slaves to feel empowered is quite comedic, and completely, I feel, against the whole concept of feminism. A few scenes which were particularly misogynistic, were these cult members having sex with men just to kill them, and even owning a strip bar. The strip bar would have worked in concept, to draw the stereotypical sexist man in to be killed, but why have sex with them first?

The script is trying to make a point about feminism but comes across as anti-men, while still being misogynistic; it’s all a bit of a contradiction, especially with the movie being written and directed by a man – Lonnie Martin. I think you have to watch the movie with tongue stuck firmly in cheek; however the subject matter is a bold and fresh idea.
In any case, it looks freakishly horrible, and if I feel like wasting a couple hours soon I might watch it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Mindy Kaling!

Can't wait for her book to come out in the fall!

Feminist Rapper Friday: Roxanne Shanté

"Roxanne's Revenge" was recorded as completely freestyle and in one take in response to UTFO's "Roxanne, Roxanne." One of the pioneering ladies of hip hop, Roxanne Shanté is an important, talented, and influential voice in what hip hop is today.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Switched at Birth Episode 3

So far I am really liking Switched at Birth. This episode was about how Bay and Daphne are looking at their new relationships with their bio-dads, and in Bay's case, lack of relationship. (Hence the George Michael.)

I love this whole nature vs. nurture thing they've got going on. So while Bay has these definite similarities to Regina (bio-Mom) and Daphne has definite similarities to John and Kathryn (her bio-parents), both the characters were clearly raised by another person. The struggle that Bay feels in negotiating being an outsider, a rebel, and with the newfound parts of her identity (her forays into "authentic" Mexican food is kind of funny and a really good class-critique) is really clear. And Daphne has also a lot of qualities that Regina has, and while she's been really out-going and tried hard to be included with the Kennishes, her bio-parents, in this episode it becomes really clear how she struggles with not being used to them and questions her ability to relate to them.

I like that John/Kathryn and Regina are handling their new parenting roles differently and finally in this episode we get a little insight to why Kathryn is so friggin uptight about the whole thing and Regina is holding back from trying to get to know Bay.

This clip is SUPER interesting, it talks about the behind the scenes stuff that goes on to make sure the depiction of ASL and Deaf Culture is accurate. Also this article is great, talking to Katie LeClerc and Sean Berdy, who play Daphne and Emmett talking about being hearing impaired and working on the show.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Love Your Vagina

By Mooncup Ltd:
Whatever you call your vagina, we think it deserves some love. That's why we've written a song starring over 25 names submitted to the loveyourvagina poll, which asked women from across the world 'what they call theirs'. You gave us 14,000 different names, and there are still more coming in every day!
Visit to find out more, tell us what you lovingly call yours and download the song sheet music. You can even buy the song on ITunes!
You don't need a vagina to love this song. All the nicknames for vaginas are so funny!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Love This.

I love this poster. So much of sexual assault prevention is aimed toward women--a part of victim blaming. The truth is, most people don't ask to be sexually assaulted. Sexual violence is part of a rape culture that teaches men that the behaviors so aptly described here, are okay when they are NOT.

Remember kids, respect and consent are sexy!

And for more things to love, read THIS article on Eight Ways Men and Boys Are Helping to End Gender-Based Violence.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Teens are Smart.

I love seeing videos like this produced by teens because it's always something that's very accessible for people of all ages AND it proves that teenagers aren't just complicit in all the social ills heaped upon them. They care and are doing stuff to change it!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How to Turn on a Feminist

Blogger has this nifty thing that lets me see what search terms most commonly bring people to my blog, lots of funny things in general or movie titles and the word "feminist", but sometimes they're kind of weird and I google those terms myself to see where how the search brings people here.

The search term "how to turn on a feminist" caught my eye. So I googled it. And it's because of the title of this blog. The "turn" thing. In any case, since people are wondering, I'll talk about it. Like Jill Connor Browne in The Sweet Potato Queens' Field Guide to Men: Every Men I Love is Either Married, Gay, or Dead, I'm going to be talking about this from a heterosexual perspective. I don't mean that to be alienating if that's not what you're into, but switch the pronouns as needed for your personal fancy and I think it'll mostly still apply.

(One of my friends sent me this comic as I was typing this post. Perf.)

1.) Well, I'm pretty sure that most of the rules of like, being a decent human apply when you're trying to get with a feminist. You know, don't be a d-bag. Don't talk about how much you love Anita Bryant. Don't be a Bug a boo. Be honest. Etc. Common-sense stuff.

2.) There is no one way to turn on a feminist because (duh) people have different personal definitions of feminism and what that means for them. Also preferences (duh). There was one night this semester that was kind of like "Drunk Feminism" a la the "Drunk History" videos. I hung out with some straight dude friends, and while I drank a bottle of wine, one of them (who was quite inebriated even before we hung out) (**I also want to point out that I am 21. Don't break the law, it's very bad for brain development.) interrogated me about feminism.
"Are you one of those feminists who likes hooking up with lots of guys or are you a feminist who wants to stay at home and be respected?" he asked.
"Haha! Right, because those are the only two options," I replied. "Um, well, it's different for every feminist and woman."
I'll summarize what my friend was so frustrated about: When he is interested in a girl and is nice, she's not into him. When he's an asshole, he gets some. He doesn't want to be an asshole, but because of his experiences doesn't believe that when girls say they want a "nice guy."
Since I know this guy, I think this may have something to do with the girls that he goes after. In any case, what really matters is respecting the person you want to date or whatever. Respect is kind of hot. You don't have to be 100% nice all the time, I mean, that's impossible, although I think a lot of women do reject "nice guys" because of weird crap we're socialized to believe about relationships. Being nice isn't a bad thing. Sometimes it takes awhile to find someone you're actually good with. Most people are single for periods in their life. Being single isn't bad. Don't freak out.

3.) $$$$! Okay, so the great debate, who pays!? I don't want to get too personal here because this is just going to end up sounding like a weird personal ad posing as a blog post, but this is also a personal preference thing. Some women I know always want the man to pay. It is a socialization thing. Personally, I've been working since I was 14, I really don't mind splitting tabs or switching off on who pays. Or whoever asks pays for that particular date. For me, if a man-friend were to pay for me all the time I'd feel like I was being bought and wouldn't be entirely comfortable with it. But because I'm a feminist and believe in equality, I don't see any reason why both people in a relationship (or whatever), which should be a mutual effort in the first place (duh), can't both contribute monetarily. Everyone enjoys not having to pay for something, so we can definitely spread that love around.

4.) If you're a dude who's into a feminist, that probably means you're not like a horrible person. If a guy seems like he's interested in me and I know he knows about my political involvement and opinions and whatever, I can usually deduce that he has sort of similar interests and that means I can clear him to the next level of consideration. I don't expect every feminist-friendly man (or every feminist-women for that matter) to be well-versed in like Judith Butler and Michel Foucault , but it's usually the case that people like people with similarish interests. And if you're a dude who knows he's into a feminist, then you might be a feminist yourself (whether you know it and acknowledge it or not). And I will confess, I worked with this guy who I thought was really good looking, and I would like, very openly stare at him, and one day I heard him explaining oppressive gender roles to a student (we worked as writing tutors) and I liked him so much more. (I will say, I think I would be able to tell if a guy was saying something just to try to "impress" me. See above comic.) So... just go about it normally. Captain Awkward has some good advice at her column on the subject, and the reader who wrote in has a good discussion of the advice he got at his blog (love the stuff about the "dating Bechdel test") if you want some good common-sense advice about the whole thing.

5.) There's this stereotype about feminists being humorless and no fun. Okay, there are some things that are just not funny. Rape. Domestic violence. Etc. But I am a feminist and I know a lot of feminists, and we're funny people. Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance meetings often involve us making a lot of jokes about men and women and feminists and anti-feminists. You just have to laugh.
But there's a lot of shit that makes us mad, and please do not get huffy when the shitty stuff gets us frustrated and angry. Everyone has a subject that they're passionate about, and when that subject is under attack, you don't usually respond well. When I get pissed about Planned Parenthood getting defunded or guys on the street talking about my ass (etc), I don't hate all men. Feminists are interested and invested in a whole range of topics from equal pay to double standards to universal education rights in rural developing countries. It may not be what you are passionate about, but that doesn't mean it's not a legitimate thing to be angry about. There's a lot of shitty shit out there, but there is nothing more frustrating than when there is a topic that you are worked up about and someone (especially a male someone) tells you it's not a big deal or to stop being hormonal or that our feminist passion is "cute." No one wants to be belittled or dismissed or infantilized. There is no quicker way to get all that anger directed at you and cause an argument for no reason. Listen, and the favor will be repaid when there's something that's really pissing you off. See this post on Feministe for some dating Dos and Don'ts.

6. Reciprocate. Simple. That's the best thing anyone can do in a relationship or hookup or friends-with-benefits thing. Don't be that guy. See the discussion at Coed Magazine and College Candy.

7. Washington City Paper has a really interesting conversation with women about their personal litmus tests for screening guys and I relate to a lot of the things they say as a feminist. You have all kinds of experiences with people. Some are better than others. Ultimately, if you like a feminist that's a great thing and it probably means you have good taste. And if you're not sure of your partner's opinion on something, just ask. There's no reason to be floundering in the dark because you're afraid of offending her, asking is a really simple solution and sets you up to have a simple and honest relationship/hookup/friends-with-benefits-thing.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hot Nerdy Girls

Hot Nerdy Women are somewhat of a weird cultural phenomena. Unfortunately, the video supercut of actresses trying to convince late-night talk-show hosts that they're actually nerds is now gone because it went too viral and the creator removed it because he was getting a lot of negative comments. (Which I don't understand because I thought the video was really interesting.) The article is still there, though.

Ultimately, what the supercut pointed out this weird cultural thing where we see feminine beauty as completely divided from nerd-dom. The melding of these two things in popular culture has been the subject of parody (see the "I'm Such a Nerd" video linked at top), fantasy, and with this supercut, controversy.

The thing with celebrity women claiming (whether or not you believe them) to be nerds points out both a double standard we have with women, and one we have with celebrities.

In popular culture, geekdom is unattractive. This is true for both genders, and unattractive-man-geekiness is definitely way more exploited comedically in nearly every sitcom situation... ever. However, girl geekdom is a lot less common as well as less likely to be "overcome."

This clip from Freaks and Geeks is actually one of my favorite moments from the show... I love Bill. But it's an example of how the TV and movie world construct this trope wherein hot ladies get won over by the winning personalities of their otherwise nerdy BFs/make-out partners/hook-ups, etc. See Michael Cera in anything, Jesse Eisenberg in Zombieland, I Love You Beth Cooper, Sandy in Romy & Michele's High School Reunion, She's Out of My League, etc.

The "Pop Pedestal" post about Mac from Veronica Mars at Bitch I think has a good discussion of Mac's significance as a geek girl character who is 3-dimensional and fairly realistic. However, one commenter on this post pointed out, "I think Mac added a great dynamic to the show. I can't think of any other show that has a female computer geek who also is a legit nice person. Anytime a woman on TV or in a movie is nerdy or better at something than men, she's a bitch or she's not pretty."

Which I think is generally pretty true. I would argue that Temperance, Angela and Cam from Bones and Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are all geeky ladies who are also definitely conventionally attractive, nice, and have 3-dimensional roles, but other than them and TV doctors, there aren't a lot of hot, nice, geeky, female characters. (There are more, I know, but still not a lot.) Geeks in pop culture are often not fully developed characters meant to be more of a bit-part for comedic effect, so really fully-developed, good geeky characters are hard to find. And harder to find when looking for female characters.

With celebrities, we (as in the collective "we") want them to be both real and unreal. It's a disappointment when an A-list woman wears something hideous to a red carpet event and ends up on fashion police, but thousands of people buy copies of Star and Us Weekly to see their fave celebs grocery shopping in sweatpants and without makeup. ("Stars! They're just like us!") Celebs are almost constantly trying to assert their realness in interviews, and when celebrities like Mila Kunis (one of the women featured in the original supercut video that I wish still existed) try to convince audiences that they are in fact nerds for liking Star Wars or video games, that's a version of this "I'm a real person!" If you'll notice, it's much more often female celebrities making these claims than male celebrities. It's also much more common for male celebrity geekiness to be acknowledged and accepted without having to "come out" with it on a talk show like female celebs do.

If someone like Eunice from She's the Man claimed she was a nerd, everyone would believe it. When Mila Kunis says this, people are skeptical because her idealized beauty is seen as a contrasting positive quality to something like Star Wars watching, which is "geeky" and therefore unattractive. And I think you can even separate geeky people/characters from intelligent people/characters because although often connected, geeks/nerds are a particular brand of intelligence that is stigmatized.

And what you get when super-hot actresses claim to be nerds is a divide in cultural nerddom:
The Hot Nerds and the Regular Nerds.


The Regular Nerds are taken as the standard, but when conventionally attractive actresses have nerd-cred, they blur the lines of how we define nerddom and attractiveness. And also provide fodder for nerds sitting at home to fantasize about. But in any case, I think it's a positive thing. I think it's weird, but overall okay. Whether or not all these actresses who claim to love Star Wars and video games actually do, that means that we as a culture can start deconstructing the way we define attractiveness in relation to geekiness.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Feminist Rapper Friday: Shadia Mansour

Shadia Mansour is known as "the First Lady of Arab Hip-Hop," although it's been noted, she doesn't have a lot of competition.

Cultures of Resistance: A Day with Lowkey & Shadia Mansour from Cultures of Resistance on Vimeo.

I've done some research about Arab and Muslim artists (like... for a paper, which might become my thesis, not just for funsies research) and what is really interesting for me is that musical movements in the U.S. often get repeated worldwide. What I mean is, hip-hop especially is primed and ready to be a musical global tool. Unlike genres of music that require expensive instruments (and expensive lessons on how to play them), hip-hop appeals to many people in developing countries and from urban and poor backgrounds because it is economically simple to emulate.

This is only one of the reasons why hip-hop has become extremely popular across the world. But obviously, it takes talent to be a good MC. Shadia Mansour is not only using a genre of music that appeals to many Palestinians, but a genre that is going to appeal to a diverse population. (However, she only raps in Arabic, although she was born in England and English is her first language. That limits the audience to Arabic-speakers and those who use google-translate on the lyrics. But, I appreciate the point she is making by rapping in Arabic: she's prioritizing her Arabic-speaking listeners and celebrating what she calls the inherit poetry of Arabic. Language is powerful. Arabic is on my list of languages to learn...)

I think Shadia Mansour demonstrates what a lot of up-and-coming hip hop artists from Africa, South America, and the Middle East are harnessing, which is hip hop's power to provoke. Early hip hop in the US was really centered on pointing out racism and classism (see last video and the Public Enemy connection) and the virulent social problems that affected people's lives. Rapping about it gave their causes agency and a platform to engage people in dialogue. A lot of really interesting and great music is coming out of the Middle East and from the Middle Eastern diaspora, and a lot of it (hip hop especially, punk as well) is making really great statements about the social issues that most concern the artists. Which ALSO means that we should be on the lookout for more female artists, because as Shadia shows, there are some great voices out there!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: First 2 Episodes of "Switched at Birth"

I'm pretty sure I saw an extended preview of this show when I was watching the premiere of My Future Boyfriend. I am pretty sure my friends shot it down... but I remembered to bookmark it in my head so I could watch it this summer.

Okay, so the basic plot summary is that privileged Bay Kennish takes a blood test in her bio class and figures out that she cannot be biologically related to her parents. So genetic tests are done, and voila! Dark-haired Bay is not part of the redheaded Kennish clan. It turns out that she and Daphne Vasquez, who is deaf and comes from a poor background, were switched at birth because of a hospital mishap. Now enter the MOMMY WARS. Who gets to have a say in what child's life? Regina Vasquez, single mom extraordinaire, and Kathryn Kennish, pilates bougie mom, square off in the fight for control over the daughters and their bio-daughters. And then they move in together. OH, DAMN!

As someone who has always enjoyed the identical-stranger genre of family entertainment (The Parent Trap, Model Behavior, Sister Sister, It Takes Two), I was intrigued by the show. Daphne and Bay are obviously ... not twins. However, it has a lot of the tropes that the identical-stranger genre generally has. One grows up privileged, the other poor. One is the out-going trouble-maker, the other "the good girl." There is one or more single parent. There is some existential angst about wondering about the hypothetical other life. And then there is mixing of the lifestyles that makes for the good television/movie. (For an example that involves boys/not identical strangers, this same formula is also played out when Ryan joins the Cohen family in The O.C. The formula works because the contrast makes it interesting. Sort of. Besides it not being original.)

Okay, so positives about the show:
+ It is acknowledging the privilege of the Kennishes, and I think it's doing a good job with that.
+ Daphne is a deaf character and she's really awesome. In general, I've liked how the show has dealt with the Kennishes misunderstanding deaf culture and how Regina has stuck up for Daphne. I love that deaf culture is getting some mainstream visibility!
+Interracial couples galore! Mixed heritages! Wee-hee!
+ Neither Daphne nor Bay outshines the other, they are both really talented actresses who have complex and interesting characters, and are most of all... interesting and compelling female leads! (Take that, Blake Lively!)

-Kathryn Kennish suffers from Carrie Bradshaw Brain Syndrome. What? Unfamiliar with C.B.B.S.? Well, it is when a rich, fictional character has no depth and talks constantly only about her own interests. Sometimes this is comical, but it is not meant to be.
-The polar-opposites thing is a little tired... Christian Kennishes and non-religious Vasquezes! Gun-toting republican Kennishes and liberal Vasquezes! Rich and poor! Married and single!
-Do high schoolers actually flirt that well? This may be some personal jealousy I am projecting, but I don't think high schoolers flirt like that.

In general, I really like the show. Like on Greek, and Huge, I think ABC Family relies on heightened/stereotypical traits at the get-go which straighten out as the characters have time to develop past 2 episodes, so I am hopeful that the stuff I find irritating will dissipate as the show goes on. But I think it's going to be a really interesting show, and I'm interested to see how they continue to engage in dialogues about race, class, and deaf culture on the show.

Lazy Links Tuesday

Why Do Female Politicians Avoid Sex Scandals? One Word: Sexism

Monday, June 13, 2011

Why I Love Ass-Kicking Women

artwork by Jeremy Colwell

The summer before 8th grade I had a copious amount of free time, during which I discovered Xena: Warrior Princess via reruns on Oxygen. I'd grown up on various 90s girl-power cartoons featuring female crime fighters, but they were nothing compared to Xena. Immediately I was hooked. I loved the gaudy 90s camp and comical special effects, but most of all I loved Xena. And Gabrielle. Here were two women who consistently out-fought and out-smarted men, women, and deities. They were best friends and went on adventures together. Xena had more or less super-human strength, snappy comebacks, and this general badass attitude about life. Gabrielle was more sensitive, but her friendship with Xena taught Gabrielle to toughen up while it taught Xena to open up.

Yeah, Xena is campy and cheesy and kind of formulaic. Good bests evil. Woman-power. Blah blah. But what I love about Xena is sort of this fundamental connection I feel because I can relate to the characters. I like action-y movies and TV, and those are definitely dominated by men. And while I can often relate to the main male characters (comic book heroes are great, all about outsiders and secret identities, etc.), having Xena was a step up from that.

I recommended Bridesmaids to a straight, male friend recently and he ended up seeing and it and told me, "You tricked me into seeing a chick flick!"
"It's not a chick flick! It's just a Judd Apatow movie with a female cast!" I replied.
I don't think Bridesmaids is all that different than other Apatow movies. The formula of the story is very similar, the style is the same, the humor is all familiar, but there is something fundamental about seeing women pooping themselves and joking about bad sex that is so much more relatable for me as a viewer than when I see the same thing from male characters. This sort of fundamental ability to relate is definitely true in action genre as well. (And just to clarify, I definitely do not relate to characters just because they are women. I cannot handle the way women are portrayed in most rom-coms and rarely relate to them. I recently saw a musical that had only four female characters and no one else, but it was so un-friendly to women that I could not relate to their characters at all. It was set in the 50s and 60s though...)

It's kind of a no-brainer, it's easier to relate when you can see yourself as the characters you're watching.

So I finished the Xena series a while ago, but I only got into Buffy: Vampire Slayer about a year ago. I was unsure of the first few episodes, but then I got into it. It's pretty similar to Xena, but in modern day, and with teenagers. Buffy is not a perfect show. It's pretty white-bread 90s (literally white bread, not a whole lotta diversity in Sunnydale), Buffy is (or well, the writers were) entirely too reliant in having a boyfriend (I have the same problem with Veronica in Veronica Mars), but overall Buffy is a cultural liaison: ladies can kick ass too.

The speed through which I am zipping through Buffy (I just finished season 5) prompted Netflix to suggest the 2004 documentary Double Dare.

Double Dare follows Jeannie Epper and Zoë Bell, two famous stuntwomen, as they navigate their careers and the challenges that stuntwomen face. First of all, their job is really hard. Sure, I have imagined myself as Xena, kicking ass and jumping through trees, but I have never actually in my wildest dreams thought I could remotely do anything like that. Because I can't. Lucy Lawless' stunt-double, Zoë, is awesome. And so is Jeannie. Now in her 60s, Jeannie is still working. According to IMDb, Jeannie has done stunts in 136 movies. That's insane.

But beyond having to be a really badass (and/or crazy) person to do the job in the first place, there is not a lot of work for female stunt people. Jeannie brings up the idea to make the categories for stunt awards sex-segregated at the Taurus World Stunt Awards, but is shot down because there simply aren't enough stuntwomen working and doing stunts comparable to the kinds that men get to do. Because that's what gets written for men and women, not because stuntwomen can't do really badass stuff.

What I really liked about Double Dare was the relationship that Jeannie and Zoë develop, which is one founded on Jeannie's years of experience and mentorship, but is fundamentally friendly and helpful. This kind of relationship is echoed throughout TV programming about badass ladies. Buffy and Willow, Xena and Gabrielle, Veronica and Mac... unlike shows (and general media portrayals, culture, etc.) that show women competing with each other out of some sadistic girl-vs-girl innate nature, these shows demonstrate that even super badass fighters and geniuses, like Buffy, Xena, and Veronica, need help from their equally badass and powerful or talented friends.

When stuff like Real Housewives can captivate a nation, it reminds me that valuing and modeling friendship is really important. And this is kind of where Sex & the City falters, because although it's held up as this great-American show (I've seen every episode and went to both movies on opening day, I criticize but I do not hate) about female friendships, Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda aren't always the best models for good friends. Actually, they kind of suck at being good friends a lot. (Especially Carrie.) The issue facing American media is not so much finding "good" girls or "bad" girls to demonize or celebrate, but that we should be showing realistic friendships between people because they are actually compelling and make sense. So what makes superbadass Xena or superslayer Buffy or supersleuth Veronica relatable and "real" (despite their very un-real TV circumstances) is the way they are portrayed and the relationships they have. Which kicks as much ass as they do.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Anti-Sexting (HUNGRY BEAST) from Elmo Keep on Vimeo.

I saw this on Hello Giggles and thought it was a great response. Victim blaming is easy to miss, but it's important not to fall prey to it!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Yesterday after work I stood on the street with my parents (we all work together... me just for the summer) and as they were talking a man walked by from the bar next door, looked at me and said, "Smile, smile!" as he passed by.

"No!" I said, in a mature grossed-out voice.

Mom: You should have beat him up, you're her father!
Dad: What did he say? Smile?
Me: Yeah.
Dad: We Prides are notoriously glum--
Me: No, he was sexually harassing me.
Dad: That was harassment?
Me: Yeah, guys say that to women all the time because they expect us to be smiling and available all the time.
Dad: Are you sure...?
Me: Yeah, guys say it to me all the time and lots of women have it said to them. It's harassment.

Disconnect! [face-palm]

But fortunately...