Feminist exploitation movies have a way of turning violence against women on its head, taking the kick-ass female heroine to an extreme, turning women from victims into predators. They make radical ultraviolence a commentary on the treatment of women in society — and reclaim female power, especially when they come from female directors like the Soska sisters, the women behind DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, airing tonight at midnight.
Singer/pianist/lyricist/composer/performance artist Amanda Palmer, a.k.a. Amanda Fucking Palmer or AFP, is the epitome of an American indie artist. She’s bold, unapologetic, bisexual, with awesomely hairy armpits and actual pubic hair. She organized an unbinding flash mob wedding between her and writer Neil Gaiman in 2010, then made it legal in 2011 in a private ceremony hosted by literary power couple Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon. Unafraid of addressing provocative issues, she’s fought against Prop 8 and blogged about her own abortion and date rape.
Reuters writer Belinda Goldsmith had a great roundup yesterday of “The Women’s Games”, which is what many are calling the 2012 Summer Olympics (which — for those of you living under a rock — just wrapped up this past weekend in London). Here’s a quick summary of the important stats, but the whole article is worth a read.
Change.org is like AA: it works if you work it. That was made quite clear this week when Holly Kearl of StopStreetHarassment.org posted a petition on Sunday and got results in less than 24 hours.
Article: Top 30 #VaginaMovieLines tweets
To follow up on our Vaginagate roundup post from yesterday, now that the trending on Twitter had died down, here are our top 30 picks for best #vaginamovielines Tweets of the past week, so you can avoid scrolling through the endless stream of mediocrity and get straight to the good stuff:
Article: Rock the slut vote
It’s not the slickest website, but we love the idea of RockTheSlutVote.com — embracing the insult that’s meant to dismiss, discredit and silence “uppity” women in order to increase voter turn-out for political candidates who respect women’s rights. Yes, the art-work is cheesy (stock illustrations of impossibly thin, pretty, sexy fashionistas all apparently wearing miracle bras for the most part — we guess they’re trying to project the slutty stereotype???); and yes, it could all just be a cover to sell poorly designed CafePress merch (their logo is a cheesy lipstick imprint, ugh); but it does make it fairly easy to get registered to vote. Plus, we love the list that rips off the “You might be a red neck if…” format on their homepage — here’s a sample:
Readers are constantly writing to us for advice on the Porn Issue in their relationship. Typically, women write in to say, “Why is my boyfriend so into porn and how can I get him to stop?” And typically, men write in to say, “Why does my girlfriend have such a problem with me watching porn?” Less often, a woman will say, “How can I find porn that doesn’t annoy me or make me laugh so hard I snort my soda or enrage my inner feminist?” And a guy might ask, “How can I find porn that my girlfriend will enjoy watching with me?” To all of these people we say — amongst other things — find better porn. Of course, “better” is fairly subjective, but anything advertising itself as “feminist porn” is a good step in the right direction. And guys, before you roll your eyes and assume that feminist porn just means a lot of hand-holding and meaningful eye contact, think again.
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0
So this week we learned that if you were born horny you should not go to Hong Kong, you should not stop carrying condoms for fear of police confiscation, and you should not assume that by “you” we mean either “he” or “she.”
We’re not big into comics, but apparently that’s where you have to go to find interesting, three-dimensional female characters who take center stage. Because you won’t find them in Hollywood (take the Bechdel Test) or at the theater. But you will find them in Danielle Corsetto’s strip GIRLS WITH SLINGSHOTS. A reader recently tipped us off to the site because “it’s closely related to the stuff you guys talk about all the time” — we’re guessing she meant it’s about real women who are their own sexual agents, who don’t fit a preconceived notion of femininity, who pave their own individual romantic paths, sometimes faltering along the way, but always trying to learn and progress as they go while maintaining a healthy sense of humor (and a sex toy drawer).
photo of a page from Rich’s “An Atlas of a Difficult World” via Flickr
Last Wednesday, the great American poet Adrienne Rich died (1929-2012). If you ever took a “Contemporary American Poetry” class in college, then she surely holds a special place in your artistic heart. In her influential poetry and essays, she explored her identity as a political activist, a feminist and a lesbian (which was bold for the time — and still is, sadly, in some circles). Here are some of our favorite lines of Rich’s poetry about love, sex, sexuality and gender:
“How come there are so many movies about a teenage boy who wants to have sex and this is the only one about a teenage girl who wants to have sex?” Thank you! We’ve been wondering all our lives where decent depictions of young female sexuality have been. Apparently in Norway. We haven’t seen it yet, but by all accounts the Scandinavian film TURN ME ON, DAMMIT! — an adaptation of the Norwegian novel of the same name — is refreshing, honest and hilarious. The film won “Best Screenplay” at the Tribeca Film Festival, “Best Debut Film” at the Rome Film Festival and “Best European First Feature” at Mons International Love Film Festival. And critics have been singing its praises:
For our book club, we’re reading the 2003 novel “We Need to Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver.* I, Lo, knowing nothing about the book or its author, began reading and was amazed that a male author could create a female narrator that sounded so authentic and convincing, especially regarding childbirth and motherhood. That is, until halfway through the book when I happened to catch a glimpse of the author photo on the inside back flap: turns out Lionel is a woman.
Sexuality educator Charlie Glickman, who runs the education programs at Good Vibrations (in other words, he’s got serious Sensitive Guy chops), recently published an article on his blog called “Confessions of a Former Sensitive New Age Guy.” He consciously chose to become a S.N.A.G. back in college, and his motives were initially quite pure: he was a waif of a guy who couldn’t figure out how to be a manly dude and so he went for the opposite extreme. Also, after a female friend of his made him follow ten feet behind her while she walked down a sidewalk (to witness the catcalling, etc.), he “decided that if men were causing so much pain to so many people, the ethical response would be for me to become the opposite of that.” But a funny thing happened once he became a fully-fledged S.N.A.G.: he started getting laid more. A lot more. And once that happened, he began to lose sight of why he was being such a decent dude in the first place.
Article: "Bounce That Dick," feminist or not?
When we were sent a link to the new YouTube video “Bounce That Dick” on the Jenna Marbles channel, we didn’t know what to expect: some kind of safe-for-work sexual technique advice video by a porn star turned educator? Then, during the first 30 seconds, our hopes were raised, as the young “blogger and entertainer” began a rap parody, stating with much braggadocio, “I’ve been told since the day I started growing pubes to shake my ass. Well, guess what, my ass is fucking tired as shit. This time it’s your turn to wiggle your man junk for me. I wanna see you shake your muthafuckin penis, bitch.”
Through our friend, Lynn Harris, writer, co-creator of Breakup Girl, and now communications strategist for something called Breakthrough, we heard about a “Rewrite the Ending” contest (which ended last month):
Show of hands- How many of you wish that:
- Andy (Pretty in Pink) had ended up with Ducky?
- After Willy dies (Death of a Salesman), his wife gets a great sales job without having to play the “poor widow” card?
- When Simran’s father finally releases her hand (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge), she runs for the train to Goa and finds happiness on her own?
- Ariel (Little Mermaid) had kept her voice and won American Idol.
In other words: How often have you been enjoying a book, movie, play, or TV episode…when all of a sudden things take a turn for the sexist, misogynist, needlessly violent, or worse? Have you ever wished you could jump into a story, shout at the characters, grab the pen (or keyboard) of the writer, and make it turn out the way you think it should?
Of course we have! So I (Lo) entered the contest (you could do it via Twitter, Facebook or email, from 140 characters up to a couple hundred words). Here was my entry:
Illustration via ROOKIE MAG
“It’s not easy, in this world, to learn how to navigate our anger and attraction, to learn how to be strong, sexual women and kind, gentle men.” This is a quote from our friend Michelle Chihara’s essay, “Pieces of the Past,” published this week on her blog This Blue Angel. On the surface this essay is a response, a clarification of sorts, to an essay the filmmaker Miranda July — Michelle’s former high school classmate — published on the teen website Rookie, about what she calls her feminist action, twenty years ago. But at its heart Michelle’s essay is about feminism, activism, sympathy, motherhood, adulthood, sex, sexuality… you know, the little things.
Let’s rewind a little: Miranda July’s essay describes how a boy at their high school made an announcement in assembly: “Someone spilled their Coke on my BMW. If this happens again I’m going to be forced to sue for damages. Keep your hands off my car.” In other words, he was a rich asshole — either that or he did a pretty good impression of one.
We once did a photo shoot for The Sun, the super trashy but widely popular UK newspaper (you know, the one with the “Page 3 girl”). We were promoting the British edition of our book, The Big Bang. We were young and naive, the photographer was old and pushy, and as he gradually encouraged us to get into sillier and sillier poses, our publicist was there pressing us on. We felt like Coco in the original “Fame.” Don’t get us wrong: we were dressed. But at one point we reluctantly ended up on a bed with one of us holding the other’s bare leg straight up in the air like a lightening rod. It was not what we’d consider sexy, feminine, or us. Fortunately, our inner horror must have radiated out of every pore, because they ultimately ran the article without the pics. (There was a God that day.)
When we first heard about the NYC-based group calling itself the Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society, we initially assumed that it involved topless people watching the Tarantino movie outdoors somewhere, in some weird take on the whole ROCKY HORROR phenomenon. We were relieved to learn that the pulp fiction in question is actually, well, pulp fiction (the idea of celebrating Tarantino with female toplessness kind of grossed us out). But we’re still a little uneasy about the whole thing.
Article: The media's pornification of women
Here’s a fascinating, but not all that surprising study from the University of Buffalo: they recently analyzed more than 1,000 images of men and women on Rolling Stone covers over the course of 43 years (they chose Rolling Stone since it’s a well-established, pop culture media outlet) and found the following:
Article: My Body Gallery
My Body Gallery is a new online photo collecting project with this goal: “to help women objectively see what we look like, break the pact of silence around ‘weight’ and come to some acceptance that we are all beautiful.” The idea is that all sorts of real women upload full-body images of themselves (their faces obscured if they so desire; no nudity) and input their height, weight, shape (pear, banana, apple, or hourglass) and clothing sizes.
Article: Sexist Bill Maher on sexism
We’re two of those poor HBO-less saps who have to wait until the following Wednesday to get the free podcast of the previous Friday night’s episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher.” And so we only just discovered his final “New Rule” from last week: “Republicans have to stop thinking up intricate, psychological explanations for…
Disney isn’t necessarily to blame for the princess mania that is currently engulfing our culture in swathes of pink tulle, but they’re certainly making a shit-ton of money off it. As Peggy Orenstein reports in her new book Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, back in 2000 a Disney exec attended a “Disney on Ice” show and noticed how many little girls were dressed up in princess costumes…homemade princess costumes. And thus the princes industrial complex was born. There are currently more than 26,000 Disney Princess items on the market, and in 2009, Princess products generated sales of $4 billion.
Article: Valerie Jarrett on gender parity
Rahim Kanani, a Research Associate for the Justice and Human Rights domain of practice at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University, recently conducted an in-depth interview in the West Wing with Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls. They discussed the…
Article: "Hysteria," a vibrator rom-com
Back in the 1800s, hysteria (literally, “womb disease”) was considered the most common “disorder” among women; its symptoms were mental and emotional distress, thought to be brought on by the womb’s revolt against sexual deprivation. (Live in a sexist society where you can’t vote or work and you have to submit to the uninspired jackhammering of your owner/husband, and you’d be distressed, too.) By some estimates, as many as three-quarters of all women suffered from this “hysteria,” and, in fact, mention of the ailment can be found as early as 4 BC.
Article: A conspiracy theory about "Rubicon"
If you’re a fan of the first two episodes of AMC’s new conspiracy thriller series, Rubicon, what you probably like is what makes it different from your typical television drama: its slow pace, its subtlety, its intelligence, its lack of glitzy pizazz, even its muted colors. Well, that’s why we like it. And it’s why there was one element of the second episode that was so out of sync with this vibe we just couldn’t get past it: the assistant’s cleavage.