Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Misguided Celebrity Attempts to Ingratiate Themselves to the 99%

Celebrity support of OWS has been a tricky road so far. Alec Baldwin, I think, has done a pretty good job so far. I follow him on twitter, and he's fairly active and really good about engaging his followers in talking about OWS and the failings of America. Although it has been pointed out... he is the face of Capital One, and although he says that he donates all his pay from those commercials to programs for the arts... perhaps he'll consider ending his endorsement of the company.

Miley Cyrus has just released a music video to a remix of her 2010 song "Liberty Walk" (which, by the way, is the best song ever... I double my slow-elliptical-jog speed when it comes on my work out playlist) to images from OWS and concurrent rallies around the world. As the Village Voice points out, this is kind of absurd. Considering she just had a star-studded birthday 19th party replete with furries and dwarves... it might be safe to say that she's on the trendy-end of supporting OWS.

Then we have the much more appropriate but throwback-sounding anthem from Third Eye Blind (they're still around?) called "If There Ever Was a Time" about OWS. It's kind of dumb, but I know all the words. Also half the music I listen to is 90s music, so although this came out a couple weeks ago, it sounds like something from the mid-90s, which I appreciate.

And then, of course, Jay-Z's Occupy shirt. Much has been said about this shirt, but I think it's pretty clear that this is a trendy-participation.
Of course, some famous people have been spotted honestly (it seems) supporting OWS, many times in non-ostentatious ways. I think a lot of OWS participants demonize "the 1%" in a way that is not completely fair. In my opinion, I think we should be grateful of support from all sides. To truly change the system, we need people at the top-most tiers to participate in the discourse and want change. Not all rich people are evil. Ultimately I think the real motivation for change comes from a bottom-up perspective, but remember when CNN wouldn't even talk about the OWS protests? And now the former Hannah Montana says it's a good thing. For the sake of optimism, let's call that progress.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Countdown to Honduras: 21 days

As I mentioned earlier, I am bringing 600 pairs of eyeglasses with me when I go to Honduras. Easier said than done. I can almost get them all in a suitcase... but not quite.

Monday Funday Female Comedy

Usually I post these on Sunday... but I forgot. But Monday and Sunday kind of stink so I don't think it really matters. Anyway, I think Daniella Pineda is a genius.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ladies Be Trippin for Black Friday Deals

Happy Thanksgiving Week! Welcome to the Christmas shopping crazy-palooza kickoff event known as Black Friday!

When I was a senior in high school I worked at a GAP Outlet, and I worked Black Friday. Let me tell you, not a fun day for salespeople. But it's a big weekend for retailers. In 2010, 212 million shoppers spent an average of $365.34 each during the course of the holiday weekend. That is like over half my rent, so that seems crazy to me. But it is real.

The best worst part of Black Friday is the beginning of Christmas shopping ads. Don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on Christmas, I have a 172-song long Christmas music playlist, but show me the person who from mid-October to December 25 who does not get annoyed by Christmas commercials. Show me this person, and you will see that they do not own a television.

Anyway, the overwhelming trend among Black Friday ads is that they are targeted toward women. (Because only ladies shop, duh.) And not only are these ads capitalizing on the stereotype that women love to shop, they tend to take that stereotype, dip it in a vat of chocolate and then sprinkle it with crack. The result? WOMEN ARE SO CRAZY FOR CHRISTMAS AND CHRISTMAS SHOPPING AND OH MY GOD I AM ON MY AMAZON.COM WISHLIST RIGHT NOW OH MY GOD CAN'T WAIT TIL CYBER MONDAY B-CUZ I AM A LADY AND LADIES ARE SO CRAZY FOR SHOPPING AND DEALS AND OH MY GOD A SALE I LOST MY TRAIN OF THOUGHT IS THAT GLITTER YAY CHRISTMAS!

I actually kind of like this series from Target, called "Christmas Champ." Some are better than others, but I admire her psycho-eyed competitive spirit. Nothing says the holidays like making sure everyone knows you're the best at everything.

Some people are complaining about this one, but I say, you fools, you built her up, you cannot complain about her now. Clearly it was only a matter of time.

Trick commercial: there are no actual ladies in it. Except for the screaming. Oh, the screaming. Something only ladies do. Justin Bieber! Shopping! HEART ATTACK OF LOVE!

This is a commercial featuring a psycho Christmasmom, but it's meant for dads to laugh at too. Know why? Sports reference. I have no idea what an audible is. That's because I have a vagina. When you are born, doctors hand you a small dictionary of "secret gender words." That is the social construction of gender, folks. I have my dictionary of secret gender words for girls, which features words and phrases like "nail polish remover," "Aqua's latest album," "Lilith Fair," and "flatiron," while the dictionary of secret gender words for boys contains sports references, bands from the early 2000s that no one cares about anymore, and a variety of outdated surfer-culture words. See? I can't even name them because I don't have that dictionary. Anyway, good one, Walmart.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Danger of a Single Story

Okay, so this is primarily about feminism as it relates to popular culture and society, but it's also my blog, and so for a short time this winter it's going to transition into a blog about volunteering in a clinic in Honduras. To prepare for this volunteer fellowship, I have done a lot of training (please go to eye doctors regularly, gross things can happen to eyes!), and one of the things I had to watch and summarize is the following video:

Chimamanda Adichie is a Nigerian novelist, and this TED talk from 2009 is about the dangers of having one-sided representation. Adichie talks about her own experience learning that the single story is not true (for example, that there were storybooks about people who didn't have blonde hair and blue eyes) and then confronting people who believed a single story about her (for example, her roommate at Drexel who believed that since Adichie was African she didn't know how to turn on a stove).

I think this idea of the danger a single story is an especially good one, and incredibly relevant to a lot of different fields. Last year I read a book about sex work, which argued that positing sex workers as solely victims takes away their agency. It fits a narrative we as a society have about sex work, and satisfies donors who see prostitution as something pitiable. It makes it really easy then, to forget that sex workers are people, and many of them do not think of themselves as victims. You can think of the danger of a single story in history classes, when we get a very one-sided account of US nation-building. You get it with the history of feminism, which has largely been written and directed by white women. You get it with the issue of gay marriage; many queer people don't want to get married, do not fit the picture of "traditional" gay marriage, or even the traditional ideas about "gay." Without a diversity of stories, we have a very dangerous and one-sided world.

I will be keeping this in mind when I go to Honduras, but I will also keep this in mind as a person in the context of my world. We have to remember that each person is more than one story, and that when you suspect that you are only hearing a single story, that you must seek other stories out.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Joys of Traveling to Latin America

In getting ready for my volunteer work in Honduras, here's a reflection on what it's like to be a person in America about to travel to one of our southern neighbors.

1. No one ever knows where you are going. This is because no one knows what is in Latin America and where those unknown countries are. If it's not Brazil or Mexico... no one knows. They will never remember the name of the country you are traveling to. Sometimes this is hilarious.

Friend: So... when are you leaving for Hon...aragua?

Friend 2: How long are you going to be in Guatemala?
Me: Nope.
Friend 2: Venezu-...eru? ...Er...Where are you going?

2. Everyone who has never been to Latin America has advice for you. A stranger recently told me to "don't trust anybody" while I was in Honduras. Kay, thanks for the advice, man. Granted, he was a stranger who I had agreed to drive me home. That sounds weird, but in reality it was totally fine. I had just received a box of 600 reading glasses. Know how much that weighs? 45 pounds. That's heavy. I lived 6 blocks away from where I got this box. Conundrum. So fortunately this man saw me struggling, and offered me a ride. He had a Temple polo shirt on, which means he's some kind of employee (or super nerd) and was carrying an ROTC uniform. So, it wasn't like this person was completely random. His car was in the employee parking lot as well. This ride was extremely appreciated.
This box is SO HEAVY! Can't wait to transport all these glasses to another country!

3. Everyone thinks Latin food is spicy. This is incorrect. Mexican food is spicy, and Mexican food is not eaten in every Central/South American country. In fact, when I was in Ecuador, many Ecuadorians thought I was nuts if I said I liked Mexican food because they think it is ridiculously spicy. Also there's just not a lot of mainstream South and Central American restaurants, except for a few high-end places in cities or if you want to venture into densely-populated Latino neighborhoods (which is something I want to do all the time). Then again, most people understand Mexican food to be Qdoba or Chipotle, and that makes me want to give up on life.
Ecuadorian plantain ball soup. Not spicy.

4. Everyone seems to think that you are going into this den of danger. Sure, okay, safety concerns might be elevated. Fine. However, it's not like I'm going to Iraq, I'm not in a war zone, and I don't want to remain cloistered in "American safety" my entire life. Remember: our police beat up innocent people too. In any case, I am concerned with my personal safety, but these kinds of conversations are usually just too funny.

(a year and a half ago)
Dad: So... Ecuador is a state in Colombia?...

(a couple months ago)
Dad: So the Sandinistas were in Honduras...?
Me: That was Nicaragua!
Dad: And what is Honduras' relationship to Nicaragua?
Me: Well, they're next to each other but Dad, Ecuador bordered Colombia, and I went there.
Dad: Don't say that. Just because you went to another dangerous place--
Me: Dad, I live in North Philadelphia, it's like one of the more dangerous areas in the US.
Dad: Stop saying that.

It's hyperspeed time! In one month I will be on my way to the airport! If you would like to involve yourself in my volunteer experience, you can donate to Unite For Sight! Every donation goes toward sight-restoring surgeries. To put things in perspective, $50 is the average cost of a surgery for cataracts, and that's like 5 weeks worth of getting coffee at Starbucks. So even $10 makes a difference. Think about it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Glee Irreality and Reality Index: Episode 306

Reality Points
+Unfortunately, realistic that Mr. Schu would think it's okay for Puck to sing an inappropriate song about teacher love after his issue with Rachel in season 1.
+ "Winning is really about poo flingin'."
+ Shelby would lie to Mr. Schu and say that it isn't his fault Santana, Brittany and Mercedes left New Directions, but it definitely is his fault.
+Indulgent teacher-duet... considering Schu's and Shelby's collective egos, I believe it.
+"That is the lamest thing I didn't understand a word of."
+ "Maybe you should've thought of that before you walked all over me in your borderline sociopathic climb to the top." Yes, Kurt, yes!
+ Unfortunately, I do believe that dumb Finn, frustrated and pushed to the edge would out Santana.
+As a Temple student, I am extremely pleased with this Hall & Oates mash-up.
+Loved Kurt's unicorn horn. And his anti-bullying platform. Very Lady Gaga.
+ RACHEL! That was so nice! An appreciated change! Yay, friendship restored!
+ Even though it's weird, I think it's consistent that Rachel always alerts people when she's going to display affection. "A kiss for you!" "I'm going to hug you now."
+ Quinn has a religious background... even though this plot line is absurd, I believe that she would call Shelby a "cash whore."
+ Adele mash up! <3 <3 <3 !!! !!!!! !!!
+ Good smack, Santana.

Irreality Points:
- Sue's attack ad on Burt Hummel would not be met with intimidation, but probably LOLs and an upload to youtube, possibly mocking on Gawker.
- Duuuhhh rule #1 of directing a high school choir, Mr. Schu, show-choir killer... vary the soloists! That's what my freaking choir directors did, and that's what I did when I co-directed an a'cappella group as a teenager. If a freaking teenager can figure it out, Mr. Schu SHOULD have been to figure out that Mercedes and Santana need some freaking solos, and the world can be spared a few tear-streaked Rachel Berry ballads.
-This Puck/Shelby thing is dumb-dumb-dumb. I don't even remember them kissing. This possibly happened during one of my frequent Glee-Boredom-Blackouts.
-Also... that is not how adoption works, people have discussed this, Glee is just getting this wrong wrong wrong.
-That is not how recommendation letters work, Rachel, Shelby wouldn't agree to that.
-You know how I know you're in a Glee Club that isn't real? Dodgeball musical.
-Vocal warm ups CANNOT wait, sorry Mercedes.
-Unrealistic: Santana's bizarre fat-shaming tirade against Finn.
- But would Finn really sexuality-shame Santana? After all he's been through with his step-brother?
-Wait... why is Mr. Schu Burt Hummel's campaign manager?
-Ohmygod, why is Shelby encouraging this thing with Puck? If the genders were reversed in these characters, people would be UP IN ARMS!
-Wait... wasn't Irish kid going to sing lead? Inconsistency.
-... Okay, more inconsistency, dodge ball as modern day stoning? This episode is literally the first time it's ever been mentioned. Right?
-Why does everyone seem to think it's such a travesty that McKinley High has more than one singing group? That's normal for most mid-large size schools. My high school had less than 300 people and there were four official choral-related groups.
-Where is McKinley's freaking GUIDANCE COUNSELOR during the completely inappropriate and bizarre scene where Santana's sexuality becomes the topic of a political attack ad against Sue?
-Where is Mercedes' boyfriend who's like obsessed with her? Did the Glee writers characteristically forget about Mercedes' plot lines again?

Reality Points: 14
Irreality Points: 16

Lots of good plot things happened in this episode, but it was just so bizarre, as per usual. I feel confused, although the Adele mashup at the end is one of the BEST things they have ever done so I left the episode incredibly satisfied... although the episode was so weird.

Why I Don't Mind that Rebecca Black is Not Going Away

1. "Person of Interest" is not incredibly noxious for a pop song. Just listen. There are worse. There are better, but it's not even near the campy train wreck that is "Friday." Without knowing this was Rebecca Black, you would probably hear this and think it was some other average teen pop star.

2. The sadist in me kind of enjoys watching the internet implode in reaction to her. I mean... it's absurd. She's like not even old enough to drive and people think she's the antichrist of pop music. Hel-lo, the antichrist of pop music is Hilary Duff, everyone knows that.

3. She's clearly enjoying herself and seems to not be a huge divafreak. Stay real, RB! Stay real.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Words With Friends Says It All


You are correct, Words With Friends, "SLUT" is not an acceptable word.

(PS: Usually I'm better at WWF but in this game I am getting slaughtered.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ryan Gosling!

Happy 31st birthday, Ryan Gosling!

Oh, Ryan, we may not know if you actually read Judith Butler, but you're feminist enough for us.

Now watch this music video of his band Dead Man's Bones' song "In the Room Where You Sleep." He has a band that does Halloween-themed music? And toured with children's choirs? I don't think my ovaries can take this.

Christianize Your Va-Jay-Jay

Notice: This video is a joke.

And a hilarious one to boot. From the genius minds of the satirical Christian Blog "Christwire" comes this instructional video on how to refer to a vagina the "Christian" way. I thought all the slang in the Love Your Vagina Song was top notch, and this video, which includes terms like, "Sincave" and "Eve's Tunnel" is right up there. Hilarious.

(FYI, most people, whether or not they are for or against its message, don't know that Christwire is actually a satirical website. But it is, in fact, a joke. Thank God.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Possibly a More Badass Fairytale?

The trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman has just been released, and so far it appears to be kind of a badass action flick. The description for the film reads:

In the epic action-adventure Snow White and the Huntsman, Kristen Stewart (Twilight) plays the only person in the land fairer than the evil queen (Oscar(r) winner Charlize Theron) out to destroy her. But what the wicked ruler never imagined is that the young woman threatening her reign has been training in the art of war with a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth, Thor) dispatched to kill her. Sam Claflin (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) joins the cast as the prince long enchanted by Snow White's beauty and power. The breathtaking new vision of the legendary tale is from Joe Roth, the producer of Alice in Wonderland, producer Sam Mercer (The Sixth Sense) and acclaimed commercial director and state-of-the-art visualist Rupert Sanders.

Badassing up fairytales has been attempted before (see my post on Tangled... I was unimpressed but apparently a lot of people liked it and that has been one of my more polemic posts... I mean. Really.) to varying degrees of success. My awesome girl-power 90s childhood was filled with this kind of stuff, which I always enjoyed. I was a huge fan of Gail Carson Levine, and there was some book of original and re-imagined fairytales with girls as the heroines that I read over and over (but have no idea what it's called now).

One of the main critiques of this season's new TV line up (which is all about housewives, fairy tale land, and 1960s sexism) is that even though there are a lot of women in main roles, the entire point of those TV shows is that the women are in positions of disempowerment. As stewardesses on Pan Am or in enchanted towns or in suburban hell, the female characters are already sort of underdogs.

And yeah... some of these situations are/were realistic. There is something to be said about the desire to watch someone succeed in the face of adversity. That's why we identify with the Final Girl in horror movies. (After we're grossed out and disgusted by the way female characters are cut down and killed with gratuitous violence in the majority of the movie.)

But there's something about putting female characters in retro situations... where they are disempowered and/or disenfranchised... and then deciding that this is what audiences want to see. And that's what audiences want to see again. And again. And again. Don't get me wrong, even with the critiques I will probably never be able to forsake my childhood love of Disney Princesses, but at the same time... is this an issue that bothers other people? Can't we get some more straight up badass roles for women?

In related posts... see Jezebel's article called Why are the 'New, Modern' Interpretations of Snow White So... White?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Glee Irreality and Reality Index: Episode 305

Reality Points:
+Artie would become a self-important student director... give students a little power and it's egotown
+"Even the thought of going to New York a virgin sounded silly to me" HAHAHA
+Okay, I was a little skeptical of Rachel suddenly deciding to lose her v-card even though she barely lets Finn near her boobs, but since she's crazy, yeah, believable.
+Mike Chang character development wooooo!
+Extra point for Glee writers giving minority characters some screen time.
+I knew Santana would kick ass as Anita--who is my favorite character in WSS--and I was right.
+I've never been to a gay bar in West Lima, but it seems to me like Scandals is the type of sad, rustic bar you might find in a small town in Ohio. Realistic.
+Sebastian! Obviously I love Kurt and Blaine so ideologically I hate Sebastian, but I value television and he is a well placed plot device to keep Blurt from stagnating. Also I like his character even though he's evil, much how I felt about Santana at the beginning of Glee.
+I like the Irish kid's complete fail of a Puerto Rican accent. The accents in general were hilarious and bad. I stage managed the school musical my senior year of high school, and it was set on an island in the Caribbean, so the actors were supposed to do "island-esque" accents. If you have ever heard a bunch of white high schoolers try to interpret what an caribbeanish accent sounds like, it's hilarious. More like Russian or Irish...
+ The virginity-losing scenes at the end were fairly mundane. That's okay. The message about safe sex and making informed and mutual decisions about having sex as a teenager are pretty good.
+Extra 2 points for showing nice, happy gay teen sex.

Irreality Points:
-Coach Beiste would not talk about her sex life with a high school student. Serious WTFs abound
-Rachel and Finn have actually one of the most mundane television relationships of all time.
-Blaine drinks one beer and is that trashed? He's not the size of a toddler, no.
-Brittany alluded to ... a perhaps unwanted sexual encounter at cheerleading camp? "Alien invasion." That's not okay.
-Wait... where are all these back up dancers and singers year round? I understand when they bring in the Cheerios for back up dancers, but they had a full cast in West Side Story. If you're the kind of freak who's into being in musicals, then you're definitely the kind of freak who's into more fun things like being in show choir. I mean, really. If half the episodes are about how they're scrambling for members, then stop showing all these people who can sing and dance just fine. You're killing me, Glee.
-The Warblers really wore their school uniform to a play at another school? Unlikely.
-I've said it before and I'll say it again. Where the EFF are Rachel's gay dads??!? Like they wouldn't be in the front row with gigantic bouquets and video cameras... please! Maria is an iconic role! As a fan of TV shows about high schoolers, I know that having too much parent-drama in shows (cough cough the OC) makes it boring, but for real, they cast parents for Mike Chang. I think it's time we see the men who raised Rachel. For this I am docking 100 points. Because I am taking a class on dance in film, and we talk about the suspension of disbelief, so I understand musicals need that, but really. We need a little realism. And Glee is expecting me to believe that Rachel's mythical gay dads aren't flipping a shit about her role as Maria? I'm dead, I'm literally dead.

Reality Points: 12
Irreality Points: 106

Overall this was a great episode, I love the music of West Side Story, but really, Glee? You're going to introduce the idea of Rachel's gay dads in the pilot and occasionally refer to their basement shrine to her Broadway accomplishments... yet never ever ever depict them fawning over their Broadway star in the making? It's too much for me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chill Out Track

I need to go to sleep. I can't yet, but I'm really digging this song, which was recorded in 1969 by 5 Filipino sisters. It's excellent.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Feminist Kitchen: Inept Baking Attempts for Paula Deen Dish

The lesson of this overly-long video I made for a fellow pumpkin aficionado is that presentation doesn't matter. Presentation is great, and for those of you who make magazine-worthy looking goods, that's beautiful. I am jealous. But when I make food, I make it to eat, so if it looks bad, then whatever... it's going to be gone soon anyway.

Other lesson with baking: following the recipe is kind of crucial. I will continue to treat baking like cooking though and improvise freely because I like to subvert the patriarchy (which I am projecting onto "recipes").

Recipe: Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One More Thing I Have Checked Off My Bucket List

I just checked off, "draw a cartoon tampon" from my bucket-list.
At Temple, the FMLA is organizing to get tampons for Project SAFE, a nonprofit organization which gives health resources to women working in the open-air sex industry. I end up making a lot of promotional flyers, I got asked to make one for our tampon drive. So obviously I thought of drawing a cartoon superhero tampon. Duh. I bet I looked su-huper weird at the Tech Center tonight.

Anyway, if you live in the Philadelphia area, Project SAFE is a really great, grassroots public health organization and they always need supplies, ESPECIALLY tampons. If you're looking for a good deed to do, donate to Project SAFE!

Feminist Kitchen: Introduction & Creative Saladtimes

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I hear people--even feminists--talking about the "contradiction" of feminists cooking. This pisses me off to no end. We're in the year two-thousand-fucking-eleven, I think we can all agree that food is necessary, and no one who isn't an idiot will question your feminism if you happen to cook for yourself or others.

I mean, really. I am an adult and I need to feed myself. I don't have a meal plan because I think they're dumb. My school gets its (crappy) food from Sodexo, which has a long, anti-labor history. I don't want that! I will make food for myself. This often involves a microwave, but I haven't starved yet, and generally I eat pretty healthily.

Anyway, all this angry ranting has a point. If I hear another feminist say she feels weird about cooking for her boyfriend I'm going to probably have a frustration-aneurism. If he's not good at cooking, then don't suffer through it! Cook away! It's an issue if you are expected to do cooking because of your gender, but if you are an adult who needs to nourish your body, you can make your own damn food, whatever gender you are and especially if you're a feminist. We need energy to fight the patriarchy, duh.

So here begins a new series, called "Feminist Kitchen." Here I will be highlighting some of the food I make for myself. This is usually somewhat creative because I don't plan out what I'm making or eating and just buy food based on its cheapness or my levels of cravings when I'm at the grocery store so when I make food it's a lot of combining of what I have. Sometimes it gets weird. But if I can avoid eating straight up pasta and sauce, I will do it because boring food is my enemy.

Feminist Kitchen #1 Creative Saladtimes:

I don't usually make salad for myself because I don't usually have that many vegetables in my refrigerator at once to make a compelling salad and also the idea of salad tends to be depressing, but here's one I invented the other day (yesterday) and made again (just now) because it turned out to be really good.

You need:
-Red grapes
-A banana


Rip up your spinach, cut the grapes in half (makes it easier for forking/eating), slice up the banana and add crumbles of the chevre. (Chevre is the French word for "goat cheese," by the way.) Voila! You're done. This literally takes like 3 minutes to complete and it's really good. Looks kind of weird, is kind of a weird combo of food, but it's great. There you go!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ya No- No More

This is part of the campaign for Latin America, from the Secretary General of the United Nations, united to put an end to violence against women. I'm a fan of Reacciona Ecuador on facebook, so they just posted this great PSA.

Transcription in English:

Various: "No More..." (= "Ya No")
"In this generation, no more violence against women."
"No more abuse."
"No more aggression."
"No more causalities."
"No more children."
"Nor destroyed women."
"No more impunity."
"In this generation--"
"No more violence against women."
"YA NO."