Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, internet-land!

I took my own advice and dressed as one of my favorite fictional feminist badasses, Ellen Ripley. This costume was great because not only did I spend no money in the making of it (since I already owned all of the clothing and made the cardboard gun from the recycling), but it was also really comfortable and pretty warm. It snowed here on Friday, and I don't mess around with cold.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Feminist Halloween Costumes

Want an alternative to the sexy-offensive costume ring? Need some quick Halloween costume ideas? Take a look at these:

Female Ass-Kickers

Buffy, Wonder Woman, Xena and Gabrielle all make for awesome ass-kicking lady costumes. Buffy is on the easy side too, which is always a plus for last-minute costume prep. Put on some jeggings and a belly shirt and pick up a wooden stake and you're good to go! (And ready to fight off any blood-suckers.)

Childhood Inspiration

Penny from Inspector Gadget and (lesbian-icon!) Velma Dinkley from Scooby Doo are both super-sleuth characters of ye olden days of television that your friends will love. And their costumes are pretty easy to pull off.

If You Own a Lot of Denim...
Own a lot of denim? I think you're good to go! Ripley (Aliens, 1979) and Rosie make great (and comfortable) costumes!

Social-Justice-y Costumes

Want a costume with a little more substance? Try Dolores Huerta, Gloria Steinem, or Angela Davis! Additionally, if anyone hits on you while wearing this costume, you'll know there down for the cause.

In Case You Really Want to be Scary

Perhaps you're a Halloween traditionalist and want to dress as someone truly terrifying. Try Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann, or perhaps you and your best friend can go as the harbingers of disaster together. Maybe you two can antagonize each other all night, and quote disparaging things from the media at each other. Except in that case, I can totally guarantee that some d-bag will ask you two to jello-wrestle.

You Clever Feminist, You
Why don't you be a Pawnee Goddess?? Or perhaps you are a dude, or a lady who is down with doing drag on Halloween, and you could be Feminist Ryan Gosling.
Or maybe you're really the creative type, and would like to go dressed as one of feminism's favorite magazines? You and your BFF could dress as Bitch and Bust! Get out your crafting supplies and fashion yourself an outfit recreating your favorite magazine cover!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Where's the In Between?

In one post I saw on the blogosphere in praise of Parks and Recreation's episode with the Pawnee Goddesses, one blogger asked why there wasn't actual media for girls that had these awesome representations of female characters holding debates and talking politics. Most media aimed at girls ages 10 to... forever... revolves around having crushes on boys and ... dating boys and generally just around romantic interests in general. Okay, we get it, kids have hormones, I know this, I've experienced this, but I am not only my hormones, I have friends and lots of times we talk about stuff that doesn't have to do with our sexual interests!

Then I saw this clip, and I was reminded of my own girl-power-90s upbringing and all the positive messaging I got when I was really young about how I could be anything I wanted to.

This message changes. There's no middle ground. For the girls in between Sesame Street age and highly-motived high school and college students, there aren't a lot of options for positive, age-appropriate role modeling. When I was 14 I looked up to TV characters like Xena: Warrior Princess, but I didn't have any examples of characters my age who were good role models.

Maybe at 21 years old I'm getting out of touch, but are there positive, age-appropriate TV/movie characters, that are relatively current for girls in their tweens and teens?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bookgasm Excitement

An excerpt from Mindy Kaling's upcoming book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? read by Mindy Kaling.
RHA3341 BestFriendRights clip by Creative@

I am obscenely excited for this book for a number of reasons. I will enumerate:

1.) I love a good book where I can sit down for a couple hours, turn off my phone, ignore all my responsibilities, and read it cover to cover and giggle to myself in an incredibly geeky way. Bossypants was like this, all the books in the Georgia Nicholson series were like this, this is something I get a lot of enjoyment out of. It is like watching a particularly enjoyable movie by yourself, but even more intimate because it's with a book and that just feels a little more intellectual.

2.) I follow Mindy Kaling on twitter and I have a big ole friend-crush on her. This is the type of celebrity obsession in which I convince myself that if the circumstances were right, I could totally be best friends with this person. I feel this way about Taylor Swift and Emma Stone as well.

3.) Mindy Kaling is one of my favorite people involved in media-production. Not only is she a hilarious actress, but she's a hilarious-genius writer, and I value that. She recently wrote a screenplay for a movie that I think is being made now, and I am also obscenely excited for this. I just love women with strong voices in Hollywood and I love it when they are successful and impress upon the the world their awesomeness.

4.) I read the excerpt from her book and it sounds the way she talks. This is exciting because I know when I read this I will be imagining her voice in my head, so it will be like Mindy is in my living room, reading the book to me. Since we're best friends.

Since if you are sane you're probably excited about this too, you can pre-order the book now! It comes out on November 1st.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Stand Up, Fight Back: Radical College Women Rock

I was born to use a megaphone.

One of the coolest things I've been able to do since entering college is become involved in radical politics. I think in particular, people, and women especially, feel a few barriers to the realm of radical politics.
  1. The word "radical" sounds polarizing. Actually, I didn't identify as a radical until relatively recently. One of my professors explained that radical feminism as opposed to liberal feminism is interested in actually breaking down the power systems (patriarchy, racism, etc.) that form the fundamental barriers to equality. And it just clicked. Duh, I'm radical. There's a stigma to the word, though, that I think presents a problem for a lot of people.
  2. Radical politics are often dominated by that old chestnut of a demographic... white men. This is hard to articulate, but we love the men who are interested in radical politics. But for people of color, or for women (or a combination of those two groups), joining a group whose membership is heavy on white dudes can be daunting. This is an obvious Catch-22.
  3. Sometimes the task of radical politics seems too big, and often hopeless. It's hard to imagine committing to a cause if you're not sure it can make a difference.
One of the taglines of Miss Representation is "you can't be what you can't see," and I think that is absolutely true. I believe very strongly in the power of positive role-modeling, which is a concept I adopted since I am not thin enough for regular-modeling. (Kidding, kidding, kidding...) I have been very much influenced by the people in my life who have taken on responsibilities outside of themselves and/or done really cool projects that have made a difference for other people. People like old camp counselors, my mother, old chorus directors, teachers, former employers, coworkers, friends... these are all people who probably aren't going to get put on a t-shirt in the way that Che Guevara's face is, but I think having positive, real role models in one's life is really important.

College is an interesting environment for this. On the one hand, most college campuses are majority-female now. (Heyooo all my educated women!) Potentially, there are ample leadership opportunities for college women to become involved on campus, and many of them do. Volunteering, tutoring, and mentoring are all staples of college-age involvement. These are awesome. I am fortunate to know a lot of kickass lady activists, and actually one national organization I'm involved in recently voted down an old rule which required a minimum percentage of women on the coordinating committee. This rule was made to encourage women to feel confident enough to step up for leadership positions, and I think in general it has fostered an environment that--while most of the members are male--encourages the active participation of female members. After the rule was voted out (with much debate, not everyone supported this), the actual members of the coordinating committee were voted in. Women are currently the majority. (Heyoooo!)

So I just want to say to any high schoolers or college students, don't be afraid to get involved. I used to be the kid whose parents heard at every parent-teacher conference that I needed to talk more in class. Finding my voice is an ongoing process, and I am proud to say that I am now at a confidence level where I am a leader at my school and in my community. I spent plenty of time as a peripheral-member, then active-member of groups before I got into the leadership positions where I am now, and in addition to the work I do as a college activist, I hope that my presence is encouraging the younger women at my university to eventually do the same. We have to be the leaders we want others to be as well. If you want to be involved in something, go for it! If you want to see something done, do it! And if you want more diverse representation, represent yourself!

The first speaker is my rockstar-activist friend Brianne, and I am the third speaker.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Review: Miss Representation

Miss Representation premiered on OWN last night! So a bunch of my feminist friends came over, we watched the movie, we drank some beer, and afterward we all discussed the movie and gender in the media. Eventually I will get to transcribing this... But anyway, if you have a spare half-hour, this is me and my friends gettin' all passionate about equality in the media.

Check out the movie if you haven't already! It's not perfect, but it's really great and you should definitely see it!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spirit Day 2011

Today! Wear Purple!


Millions of Americans wear purple on Spirit Day as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and to speak out against bullying. Spirit Day was started in 2010 by teenager Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives. Observed annually on October 20, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, media professionals and celebrities wear purple, which symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. Getting involved is easy -- participants are asked to simply "go purple" on October 20 as we work to create a world in which LGBT teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Funday Female Comedy

In honor of Indigenous Peoples Day (which for some reason, is not observed in every state despite being a federal holiday and Columbus Day is... ), here's a video from Danielle Pineda showing the ridiculous side of Native appropriation. Good thing I told you this was a comedy video, because otherwise you might just assume this was something from the Urban Outfitters corporate office.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I Love it When Feminists Write for TV

This is the best.

As a former Girl Scout, this episode just speaks to me. It's too good for words. I am literally speechless in its presence.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reader Request: Slim Jim Sexism

Hey, Stephen! Thanks for the suggestion to look at this Slim Jim ad campaign for DARE sticks.

Okay, so I think the first and most obvious issue with this ad campaign is its complete acceptance and adherence to traditional concepts about masculinity. See above ad, and below ad to start us off.

I think it's safe to say that "Male Spice Loss" is a euphemism for "lack of traditional masculinity." And I think their definition of ideal maleness goes even beyond what most people conceive traditional male gender roles to be, for as the Education in Male Spice Loss video explains, "Male Spice Loss" also happens because of all those things that are a drag in true bro-life, like being in a relationship and having a job and responsibilities. Let's have a round of DARE sticks and toast to that, my brofriends! Can I get an amen?

And so we see ad after ad equating this loss of broiness, characterized by salad-eating, minivan-driving and being emotional (omg, aren't these traits we usually see women having??! coincidence!), with actually being an inadequate man. And in the below ad about the waiting room, such extreme male inadequacy brought on by "Male Spice Loss" necessitates observation at a hospital.

And since Male Spice Loss is so apparently common, Slim Jim has provided these handy video-e-cards, so that you can let your inadequately bro-y manfriends that they're not dude enough for you. Thanks, Slim Jim! (It is also at this moment that the socialist in me would like to point out that Slim Jim is creating a "disorder" of male inadequacy that is fixed with the purchase of a Slim Jim DARE Stick. That's capitalism!)

So what does this mean for men, and why the heck am I writing about this here anyway? Well, I actually do write about masculinity occasionally, and it is something that I would like to explore more on this bloggy blog. Getting men to think about feminism isn't simply a matter of getting dudes to think about you know... things like "consent is sexy," we should have an ERA, Playboy Bunnies are not representative of the female population etc... Feminism since the Third Wave (early 90s) has been really interested in breaking down the very barriers we have toward equality. Sexism and hegemonic gender roles are real for women and men. Men are very much trapped by gendered expectations as well, but it's easy to forget about because we tend to invisibilize maleness. In less made-up words, what that means is that because we tend to, in Western Culture, focus so much on the gendered aspects of what it means to be a woman, that we forget to talk about what it means to be a man. Breaking down the harmful ideology we use to construct ideas about "adequate" masculinity will help both men and women.

What feminism does for men is provide an arena for critically engaging in discourse about gender ideology. Michael Kimmel, one of my favorite feminists and academics specializing in the study of masculinity has this great quote about feminism and men:
“Feminism expects a man to be ethical, emotionally present, and accountable to his values in his actions with women — as well as with other men. Feminism loves men enough to expect them to act more honorably and actually believes them capable of doing so.”
This is awesome! What Kimmel is saying is that we as feminists, both men and women (and everyone in between and outside) should be re-imagining masculinity. And that men should be letting other men do their own thang to be actualized, happy human beings. Kimmel writes about this a lot, but to sort of paraphrase a few ideas from a couple of his articles, despite drastic cultural changes and uplifting cultural movements for women, queer people, Latin@s, African Americans, and Native Americans, men have kind of been left behind. You can hardly take a step these days without bumping into some new article in Time magazine about masculinity in crisis... but what the heck does that even mean? What is masculinity anyway?

We've been expanding opportunities and the range of gender expectations for women in the last few decades, but this kind of ideological broadening has not so much occurred for men. That's why we still get these "silly" ads like for Slim Jim DARE sticks that tell men it's not okay to do these things we associate with femininity like salad eating and minivan-driving. I think a lot of men internalize this conflict, about presenting themselves as "adequately" male while being true to the things that they actually want to do regardless of the "gender" of that activity. (For example, you've probably heard of female football leagues or girls joining male high school football teams if there is no available team for girls. There aren't so much stories about guys trying to join field hockey or form their own teams... Not yet there aren't.)

In conclusion, Slim Jim is taking advantage of consumer fears about male inadequacy with their "mantastic" ad campaign. Playing on the fears of men is functioning to reproduce ideology about traditional gender roles and ultimately repress men. So... if you want to be a free man, don't eat a DARE stick.

Feminist Ryan Gosling

If you have not yet seen the tumblr Feminist Ryan Gosling, crawl out from under the rock you have been living under and click yourself over there. It is awesome.

As Bim Adewunmi observed in a post yesterday at The Guardian,

So why Gosling? It goes beyond looks. He was raised by a single mother to whom he's close, and he waxes lyrical about his female co-stars and ex-girlfriends. Guys love him too – he kissed Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn on the Cannes red carpet, and co-star Steve Carrell says he's "even more attractive on the inside". He loves his dog, is self-deprecatingly funny and recently broke up a street fight in New York. On top of all this, he's a good actor. Basically, he's perfect.

I would also like to say, to the male population of the world, any lines taken directly from the Feminist Ryan Gosling tumblr will work on me. Guaranteed. It also helps if you look like/are Ryan Gosling.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Urban Camping, Activism, and Economic Justice

If you've been paying attention to the news, like really, really paying attention (because lord knows mainstream media isn't giving this a lot of attention), you might have heard of Occupy Wall Street. And then perhaps Occupy Together.

As Occupy Wall Street explains,

On September 17th, men and women of all races, backgrounds, political and religious beliefs, began to organize in nonviolent protest. These men and women represent the 99% with the goal of ending the greed and corruption of the wealthiest 1% of America. Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless resistance movement which began as a call to action from Adbusters, a Canadian-based anti-consumerist organization.

October 6th marked the beginning of "Occupy Philadelphia." As a radical student in Philadelphia, it should come as no surprise that I attended the 1,000-person + planning meeting prior to the beginning of the occupation, and then spent a significant amount of time there this past weekend.

Me and my friends marching to the Liberty Bell with about 1,000 other protestors on Saturday

Video clips from this weekend
So what's the point of all this?

I actually have mixed feelings about Occupy Wall Street/Philadelphia. On the one hand, I think it is great that there is just a lot of momentum toward creating a critical dialogue about corporations, bail outs, and the economic crisis. This kind of passion for a social movement* has not really been seen for decades, this can be viewed as the long-awaited large-scale response to the past couple years of Tea Party madness, and it's always nice to see people from all sorts of backgrounds unifying around a single cause.

On the other hand... the whole single cause thing is a little unclear. While "officially" Occupy Wall Street/Together is about ending corporate greed and restoring the whole idea that democracy should be for you know... the people instead of da $$, the message gets muddled. With protestors with signs like, "Palpatine 2012," "Philly <3's Weed," "Stop Picket Signs," it's not incredibly surprising that a lot of people are criticizing the whole thing. I mean, I spent the majority of my weekend there (and my free time is precious. Scant and PRECIOUS!) and I remain kind of skeptical.

Again, on the one hand, there are benefits to a progressive movement that leaves room for all sorts of critiques about the economic and political system, but on the other hand, I didn't actually hear a lot of what could be legitimate critiques about the economic and political benefits to marijuana legalization, since most of those people were just shouting things like, "Let us smoke!" (I don't mean to call out smokers in particular, there are a lot of problematic issues at Occupy Together, this is just a really easy one to articulate.)

And despite an official statement from Occupy Wall Street about the whole thing, a lot of people still aren't clear on the whole thing. I showed up at Occupy Philadelphia on Saturday around 10am and got recruited to stand behind the information desk. I answered a lot of questions about which way donations should go, but I also answered a lot of questions about what this whole thing was. A lot of confused people walked through the Philadelphia City Hall and had no idea why there were 30 tents and a bunch of grungy looking occupiers with signs making cars honk at them. And I think my short explanation (something like, "Occupy Philadelphia is an expression of solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, which is a protest movement that has been going on four four weeks in New York to critique the way that government attention has gone more to corporations, bank bail outs, and the richest 1% of the country rather than give the people who most need their help--who the government is supposed to represent--adequate services and representation.") was generally pretty good, but I'm fairly concerned with being able to back up my actions with words and I think about this stuff. I'm not sure everyone does the same.

Case in point, my friends and I spent Saturday night in a tent at City Hall (surprise, Mom!) and when I woke up on Sunday morning, I heard a reporter interviewing one bleary-eyed protestor. This kid was not doing a great job answering this man's questions, but I will say that this was around 8:30 am on Sunday morning. And also, this reporter was kind of being a dick.

[I have written the reporter's questions as one word to try to illustrate the speed and aggression with which he was speaking]

Reporter: Yousaidthatyou'reheretoprotestcorporations. Whatarethetoptenworstcorporationsintheworldinyouropinion?
Not-a-Morning-Person-Protestor: Um, Comcast, [inaudible], G.E. --
Reporter: YousayG.E., butG.E.ownsMSNBC. DoyounotsupportMSNBC? WhynotNewscorp?
Not-a-Morning-Person-Protestor: Um...
So there's a significant amount of criticism that should go both ways. Occupy Wall Street/Together can't expect to be taken seriously unless they conform to the way that legitimate social movements conduct themselves. I know that plays into hegemony blah blah, but for real, there needs to be some clear, rhetorical explanations that protestors need to memorize if they can't explain them on their own to be seen as intelligent people instead of lazy, anarchist weirdos who prefer urban camping to conforming to society's living standards. Yes, there are white, dreadlocked anarchists camping at city hall, but there are also lots of employed people. And homeless people. And people of color. And grandparents. And middle class people. I talked to a lot of really interesting people with a lot of really interesting reasons for being there. But just because those representing the "99 %" may not necessarily be representative of the whole "99 %," that doesn't give the media a reason to de-legitimize the whole thing. That doesn't give reporters a license to act like assholes. That doesn't give the general public permission to ignore the fact that there are really important demands being made.

As a democratic socialist, what I'm interested in is democratic reforms to gain more equality in the social and economic spheres, and Occupy Wall Street/Together provides a really interesting platform for that. I'm going to continue to stop by City Hall when I can because I think it is important to express solidarity with the occupiers, and I'm curious to see how Occupy Wall Street/Together develops as it goes on. Later on I might post about kyriarchy at Occupy Wall Street/Together, but for now this is what I got. It's a complex issue and I'm curious as to what other people's opinions of it are, and what your experiences with other Occupy events have been. Comment!

*I think whether or not Occupy Wall Street/Together counts as a movement is debatable.

Reconsider Columbus Day

Sign the petition for a National Holiday for Native Americans, and reconsider Columbus Day.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New Stuff at My Etsy Account!

I make some weird and cool jewelry, so go check out my Etsy store!

Kitschy N Bitchy jewelry for the chronically geeky!

Broadway Feminist Fake-Outs

Okay, so I'm a fan of musicals, but one of the issues I run into as a feminist is that... feminism is hard in musical format. Apparently. One of the most perplexing things I have run into is the musical number I like to call "Broadway Feminist Fake-Outs." This is a musical number performed by a main female character that is usually about her being independent or asserting some sort of control over her life. So as a standalone number, it's usually great. However, it usually has the psychological overlay of well but she actually wants this opposite thing. Here are a few examples:

"Many a New Day" from Oklahoma! In this number, Laurey, who's been hot&cold to Curly forever, sees him with another (annoying) girl and is jealous. To save face in front of her friends (who are all unnamed, Ado Annie is not in this scene) she sings this song about how many a new day will dawn before she lets herself go to pieces over a dude. Because she's better than that. The first time I heard this song I was like, "Yeah, good for you, Laurey!" But in the scene immediately after this she freaks out at Curly and his annoying stalker and immediately reverts back to ... everything in the song she said she wasn't going to do.

Like "Many a New Day," South Pacific's "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair" serves one purpose: show that Nellie is mad. She's so mad at Emile! Raaah! So mad that she can get a whole bunch of girls riled up about getting the runaround from various manfriends... except in the next scene Emile returns and Nellie agrees to marry him. Not kidding. Next scene. (She gets mad at him again and breaks it off, but it's a musical so by the end of it they get married.)

Anita Sarkeesian of "The Feminist Frequency" recently put up a new video for her tropes series on "The Straw Feminist," and the mother in Mary Poppins is a perfect example. Anyone who's read the book and seen the movie knows that there are a lot of differences, and one of them is that in the book, the parents were just like, bad parents. In the movie, the Mrs. Banks was changed so that she was a suffragette, because producers thought that there had to be some logical reason why she wasn't in the house to take care of her children. It's probably no coincidence that the movie's 1964 release coincided with the beginning of second-wave American feminism, and movies in the 60s often had these anti-feminist propaganda messages (see: The Ballad of Josie.) Mrs. Banks is is Straw Feminist because she's so over the top that it's hard to identify with her flighty-get-arrested-ways. And eventually sees the error of her ways and pledges to spend more time with her family. Thanks, Mary Poppins!

Okay, so the dialogue is dubbed in Spanish but this is youtube, people. Anyway, in the "Sandra Dee" reprise, Sandy realizes that she needs to be a little less "wholesome" (fine) and "start anew" (okay!). But then... she changes her entire wardrobe/personality for Danny. (What!?) And then she and Danny fly away in a car. Oh, my god!

These are all songs I like (and know all the words to), and musicals I enjoy, but I think we should be aware of the poopy aspects. And these are characters who at least have a song about asserting their independence! Most female characters in musicals just get duets and then some ballad about being in love or brokenhearted! The blog Gender Focus has a great list of actually feminist Broadway musicals, so venture there if you're feeling particularly annoyed with your options. As noted in last week's episode of Glee, the fact that there aren't a lot of options for gay leading characters doesn't mean there won't be in the future. More progressive female characters are coming in movies, and they will come in musicals as well. We'll be ready.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Glee: Irreality and Reality Index, Episode 303

+ "I have ghost parents." Yes.
+ Box of wedding magazines.
+ Unfortunately, Will's box of pornos is realistic.
- So it's awesome that Mike has this whole, non-stereotypical dance interest, but he and Tina are still uber-stereotypically Asian. Good job, writers, naht.
+ Mike has parents. That's more than most characters on this show can say.
+ Brittany and Santana's breakdown of the patriarchal failures of the country/school... Obviously I loved that. I'm not a huge fan of "Run The World (Girls)" but I loved Brittany's cover.
+ Mike's audition was awesome!
- Why doesn't anyone want Anita? I love Anita!
+/- Um... is Mercedes pregnant? Why is she sick all the time? That number from Dreamgirls is about Effie being pregnant and a diva. But also, that is my favorite song from Dreamgirls so I loved that. My friend Alice and I perform it as often as possible. But also... why is she being an uber diva? What is her boyfriend doing? TOO MANY QUESTIONS!
+ Yay, Mike's mom!
+ Finn's "YEASSS!" Adorable and dorky.
-Ginger supremacy? That's kind of a stretch. And uncomfortable.
+Though I appreciate the backstory on Emma.
+ Glee = "It Gets Better."
- Rachel, do not run for class president, no one likes you, you won't win!
- Will Schuster singing.
- Will Schuster singing Coldplay. I'm dying.
+ Santana as Anita. "America!" "A Boy Like That!" Praise be!
+WOWZA Mercedes with Shelby's group!??! Finally, some strife!

Reality Points: 14
Irreality Points: 7
Solid episode! Mostly good music (fail with Coldplay, I feel like Gwyneth Paltrow paid them to do that) and some actual plot! This season can go somewhere!

The Girl Effect is the Future

Some facts:

-When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.

-An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.

-Medical complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide. Compared with women ages 20 to 24, girls ages 10 to 14 are five times more likely to die from childbirth, and girls 15 to 19 are up to twice as likely, worldwide.

So what is the Girl Effect, exactly? Well, it's an internet movement to increase awareness about the things we can do to better the conditions for girls world wide. The Girl Effect leads activists, school groups, friends, and individuals to opportunities to educate their communities, donate directly to girls in developing countries, and educate themselves.

I'm writing this as part of the 2011 Girl Effect Blogging Campaign. I can't remember exactly when I first became aware of the Girl Effect, but it was at least a year ago because I do remember spending one afternoon downloading all of their materials and weeping on my bed while I was studying abroad. One of the things I really like about the Girl Effect is that it offers really sobering statistics (like the few I included above), but they also know that those things can be avoided. There is statistical proof that when girls can afford to go to school, they marry later. They're more likely to marry a man who treats them right. They're less likely to contract AIDS. And their children are more likely to go to school as well.

It's now been over a year since I read Half the Sky (and when I get a spare moment I'm going to read that sucker again), but the Girl Effect is really clued into what Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn are talking about: when you can put a face to the oppression, people react. Watching the video about Addis is really affecting, as it should be, since we're humans and we have empathy. And it should be a call to action. Addis divorced her husband and returned to school, but for more girls to do the same we need worldwide action. We need the Girl Effect.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: Barely Legal

Uh, yeah, so this is not one of my usual reviews, because this movie is actually softcore porn. One of the interesting things about sharing a Netflix account with family members is seeing what they watch on their own. My friend has an 18 year old brother, and one night was sharing with us some of the titles that she figured that he had watched (because she did not attribute them to her mother). Barely Legal was one of them. It sounded so bad, that we actually decided to watch it.

This week is porn week for me (not kidding, I'm reading about porn in not one but TWO of my classes) so here we go.
Here I am, Saturday night, reading the history of porn culture and drinking French wine.
ThIs iS wHaT CoLleGe iS LiKe. If you choose to study social sciences and humanities, that is.

Barely Legal tells the classic story of three girls, all born on the same day, who live in basically a porn den sans parents, who resolve to lose their virginities on their 18th birthdays. One is religious and decides against saving herself for marriage, one is kind of klutzy and has a cheating Adam Lambert-lookalike boyfriend, and the other is a floozy who does everything-but. From this start this movie is over-the-top-absurd. The four of us watching were practically wiping tears from our eyes as we laughed hysterically at what was happening. The three BFFs have this big birthday party where they all plan on losing their virginities. But through a serious of mishaps and escalating absurd situations, none of them actually have penetrative sex. Which I thought was an interesting twist on this "sex comedy" tale of losing virginity. The promiscuous one realizes that she's a lesbian, the religious one fails at trying to seduce her friend from church (who is gay for Jesus, wow! How original, obligatory gay jokes lololol) and ends up finally discovering the joys of self-pleasure (and as one of my friends described it, "masturbates with every appliance in their house."), and the klutzy one just is klutzy forever until she realizes she's in love with this other guy.

This is a terrible movie. We had a running debate on whether or not it was a parody of porn movies or just bad, and I think the conclusion we realized was that it's just bad. Really, really, hilariously bad. We kept saying, "This was definitely written by someone who has never spoken to a woman. Or been around a woman. Or probably had sex with a human."

Porn is visible in every aspect of society. As I'm reading in The Porning of America: The Rise of Porn Culture, What it Means, and Where We Go from Here, the rise of popular media in the last century especially has been saturated with pornographic images so that we're more or less completely desensitized to the porning of our culture. From actual porn movies to reality TV shows about Playboy Bunnies to R-rated sex scenes in movies to Bratz, sexual images are commonplace and accepted. Some are more accepted than others, so the pornographic qualities of Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams' sex scenes in The Notebook are more "acceptable" than sex scenes from hardcore porn, but in general we live in a society that expects sex.

One of the interesting things I've read in The Porning of America is that in the mainstreaming of porn, humor was really important. I'm not very familiar with movies from the actual "porn" genre, but when my friends and I were watching Barely Legal we were all sort of baffled by the cheesy dialogue, lame jokes and slapstick gags that inundated the loose plot of the movie. It was just so bizarre! In Porning, the authors cite the film Deep Throat as the first mainstream porn film. It was made to look like a regular Hollywood movie with a plot and everything (a departure from earlier porn films, which lacked a plot and usually featured filmed prostitutes), and made use of really cheesy, humorous dialogue. They say, "Humor, even lame humor, is disarming. From a propagandistic point of view, the makers of Deep Throat had stumbled onto a mass-market presentation of porn that would assist its acceptance, its normalization" (page 15).

And it is disarming! There were a couple scenes in Barely Legal with this phone sex dominatrix nun that were so bizarre and hilarious, and we were all certainly disarmed by the surprising humor. Despite the inundation of sexual/pornographic images in the media, graphic sex still has a disarming effect. Sex is taboo! Not for everyone, but it makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

As a 15 year old, the atmosphere of watching Sex & the City was drastically different for me when I watched it in the same room as my mother and when I watched it with just some of my friends (and someone's thumb on the pause button so we could analyze Samantha's prowess). The atmosphere of a class talking about sex is drastically different than at a "Sex Toy Party," and drastically different between dudes in a locker room talking about sex than among teenagers at a sleepover. We have all sorts of contexts for sex and discourse about it, and porn plays a huge part in that. Reruns of Sex & the City aren't going to get played at any porn theater, but they form part of American's consciousness of pornographic images.

I'm about halfway through The Porning of America and I have a couple more readings on porn to do for another class, but I think this is interesting stuff. Porn is controversial in the feminist community, and recently I read a quote (I wish I could remember where) on a blog about how the person being quoted (I'm pretty sure she was a feminist blogger, probably from feministing) was not against porn implicitly because porn can be really helpful and enjoyable and offer new points of view on sex, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be critical of bad porn. Child porn, disturbing violent porn, porn that exploits racist stereotypes, all those are bad. Barely Legal isn't in the category of truly evil porn, but I was definitely hoping that it was made with some parody-esque goals in mind because... if that's how dudes envision women, I'm officially disturbed.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Link City

I had a super crazy-busy week, ergo, no time to actually write anything for this, but these are some things that I read this week.

PETA is a disturbing organization, which I have written about before. I am a vegetarian and rarely eat animale products anymore, but I still will never like PETA. More reasons why they suck here.

Anita Sarkeesian takes a look at fall TV premieres, I am grateful because I had a really busy week and didn't get to watch many of them (actually... I only watched New Girl, not impressive) and now I feel like I don't have to watch some stuff that looks royally bad.

Check out Where's Your Line, a great new website on ending sexual violence.

I've finally started watching Mad Men and so the quotes from John Hamm talking about rape awareness and supporting children make him all the more dreamy.

In case you didn't want to watch Lisa Wade's 40 minute talk on hook up culture, MTV has made it into a nice, short 3 minute, animated short.

This is a fashion trend I see around campus DAILY (often in belly shirts, another trend I hate) and it drives me nuts.

Sunday Funday Female Comedy

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Glee: Irreality and Reality Index, Episodes 301 and 302

This is a format I have poached from a blog series I used to read when I watched Gossip Girl.

+Okay, awesome, we finally learn who is in what grade. This is probably something shows about high school students should do in the first season.
+ Sugar Motta. I did musical theater in high school and Sugar Motta is a real person.
- I find it hard to believe there are NO nerdy musical theater freshman at this school. That is a statistical improbability. Approximately 40% of the girls of any high school class anywhere has some pipe dream of starring as the one from Rent who sings "Out Tonight" in a community theater production and sings into her hairbrush before she gets ready for school. I pulled that fact out of my ass but I am pretty sure it's true anyway.
-/+ I don't even remember what happened between Emma and Will last season, but this feels weird to me. No points either way.
+ Rachel and Kurt's Broadway dreams. If this were real life, they would have the same Broadway dreams but not be as good. I know too many musical theater majors.
- Why is Santana Sue's minion again? I thought it had been established that she prefers Glee club.
- The random, perpetual orchestra. Have they never heard of a boombox and karaoke tracks?
- Anti-arts? There's like actually research to back up a pro-arts stance, why is this happening, I feel like the writers don't know what to do with Sue anymore. Lima, Ohio perhaps exists on not real Earth, but Earth II.
+ Quinn's transformation I believe. She was all over the place last season and it finally seems like being in the Skanks is a logical character progression.
- Blaine leaves private school for his boyfriend? I don't think so.
+ Emma: "So this is what being turned on feels like." HAHA!
-/+ Okay, the musical theater geeks would not have weekly meetings, but also... it's possible. That girl annoyed me on the two episodes of The Glee Project that I could stand to sit through, but she was kind of perfect in this. Kurt and Rachel's small-town intimidation was believable, but at the same time... Lea Michele has won a freaking Grammy and already been on Broadway, so I'm rolling my eyes.
+ Kurt Hummel's bulging pink funsack. Brittany's character exists outside of the reality/irreality index.
-/+ Shelby Corcoran is back? Okay, I'll take it. We should probably not forget that Quinn had a baby not that long ago.
- Shelby crashes Rachel's practice session and interrupts it by singing with her. Rudeness!
+ Shelby and Rachel's duet was beautiful. That song always gets me.
-/+ Kurt sings "I'm The Greatest Star" has his audition for Tony. Okay, Kurt knows too much about musical theater to make that mistake, but that being said, great performance. Loved the line about getting written permission from Rachel to perform Barbra.
+ "You're gay. And you're not like Rock Hudson gay, you're really gay. You sing like Diana Ross and you dress like you own a magic chocolate factory." Perhaps not something a father would say to his gay son in real life, but I laughed out loud.
+ Puck has turned into a really awesome character and I'm liking that he wants to get to know Beth.
-Did they up the key of the West Side Story songs? I have to watch the movie for homework this week so I will get to the bottom of this.
+ Kurt and Burt bring up the point that there just are not enough gay characters. Period.
+ "I have to get her back If that takes dying my hair blonde and pretending to think I'm special, that's something I'm willing to do."
+"I'm starting to believe in my own magic." Yes, Brittany. Hopefully this heralds more Brittany-Santana plotlines.
- (x10) for the allusion that Will will enter politics.
+ Darren Criss. That is all.
- (x2) As always, Kurt and Finn are the only ones with actual parents, so minus points for the lack of parents present for Quinn and Rachel because they could have been actually relevant in both of these episodes. When the HELL are Rachel's gay dads going to be cast? Like they wouldn't be in the auditorium taping her Maria audition for their basement shrine. Pu-lease.

Okay, by my count (which could be incorrect because I'm tired):
15 Reality points, 23 irreality points. All in all, this season is starting off strong, and what really killed the reality is Glee trying to get Will Schuster into politics. In which case I may actually stop watching.