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Sorry/not sorry: Why Blanc and Redfoo’s apologies are misguided and insincere

You may have heard about the misogynist antics of self-proclaimed “pick-up artist” and Real Social Dynamics (RSD) coach, Julien Blanc, whose recommendations for picking up women include grabbing women’s throats and pushing their faces into your crotch. Or you may have heard the sexist lyrics promoted by American entertainer, Redfoo, in his new single “Literally, I Can’t,” wherein women are encouraged to perform “girl on girl” for men at parties and, when they refuse, are instructed to “shut the fuck up.” If, like me, you walked away feeling offended by the actions of these men — I’m pleased to report that you were not alone. Over the last month, both Blanc and Redfoo have been widely criticized by feminist activists and bloggers throughout Australia and North America. Recently, Blanc’s...
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Agency is magic and so is twerking

Another day, another article arguing that criticism of sexualization and objectification is proof that men are afraid of women’s expressed sexuality and that women are jealous. What an innovative, groundbreaking notion. A recent article at Huffington Post defends a twerking video model, Amber Rose, posted on YouTube for her husband Wiz Khalifa’s birthday and Beyoncé’s pole-dancing at the VMAs, on the basis of “agency.” The author writes, of Beyoncé’s “sometimes provocative dancing”: ‘”What is she teaching her daughter?” some asked, pearls tightly clutched. I would answer, “Agency. Independence. Talent.” But others, it would seem, say watching her mother dance and sing in front of millions — while making millions — is teaching Blue not to respect and value her body. Even when married and a mother — the supposed safeguards against...
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Emmys remind us that women are only ‘compelling’ when on display

I tuned into the Emmys tonight just in time to catch Sofia Vergara rotating on a platform. Twenty four hours ago we saw the word “FEMINIST” on the MTV Video Music Awards and tonight we have the highest-paid actress on TV spinning on a stage like, you know, an object. While Beyonce’s representation of feminism may well be problematic for a number of reasons, I have to admit to having been more than a little bit thrilled at seeing one of my favorite words lit up in all caps in what can generally be said to be a pretty sexist space, historically. Not only that, but watching her husband take the back seat, minding the babe, was a nice image to see as well. (No cookies for dads being...
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Classy Nick Cannon wants the whole world to know Mariah Carey is crazy

This week in least-original-thing-a-man-has-ever-said-post-breakup, Nick Cannon says he divorced Mariah Carey because he was “deeply concerned about mental health.” Well Nick Cannon, I see your so-concerned face and raise you shut-the-fuck-up-k? Don’t you think that if a person were truly concerned about the mental state of their partner or ex-partner they would keep it to themselves? Is TMZ going to save Mariah Carey from supposed mental illness, Nick? Cannon was also sure to point out that he’s just, know you, the best dad and Carey is, you know, probably the worst mom: “He’s deeply concerned about Mariah’s emotional state and is ending the marriage for the well being of their kids. He believes the environment around Mariah is toxic and fears for his kids.” Translation: I dumped her you...
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James Franco is a petty, pompous, incoherent, self-absorbed tool

Oh so I read James Franco’s essay about Lindsay Lohan for you. Here is what I have gathered: 1) James Franco is bitter that Lindsay Lohan said she slept with him and wants to punish her because he is a childish, petty little jerk. 2) James Franco thinks that he can fool us into thinking he isn’t a terrible writer by being as incoherent as possible. Classic bad writer trick. But he can’t fool us! We are not fooled. Please do not bother reading his essay. I do not want you to waste any minutes of your life on it. Not a one. Mostly what you need to know is that Franco’s entire objective is to insult and publicly humiliate Lohan while kind of sort of but not really...
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This week in Don’t Talk to Celebrities About Things Ever: Lana Del Rey edition

Were you guys all wondering what Lana Del Rey thought about feminism? ME TOO I KNOW. I know. Well you can all go back to bed now because the space queen hath spoken. In an interview with Fader magazine she says: For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept. Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, god. I’m just not really that interested. I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities. This is actually my favorite game though. Let’s play. “Whenever people bring up muffins, I’m like, god, I’m not really that interested. I’m more interested in, you know, pigmy goats.” “Whenever people bring up drones, I’m like, god, I’m not really that interested. I’m more interested...
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GET WITH THE NOW, PUSSY-SHAVERS

All hail queen Neko.   When Playboy Tweeted an article about musician, Neko Case, saying: “Artist Neko Case is breaking the mold of what women in the music industry should be,” she responded perfectly. “Am I? I’M NOT A FUCKING ‘WOMAN IN MUSIC,’ I’M A FUCKING MUSICIAN IN MUSIC!” adding: “DON’T PEGGY OLSEN ME, MOTHERFUCKERS.” Men in the music industry, of course, would never be referred to as “men in the music industry.” They get to just be “musicians” — i.e. the norm. Women must always be “other” — they must always be the anomaly. The reference to Mad Men character, Peggy Olsen, of course, is that she is meant to stand out in a similar same way — the sole woman to climb the ranks at a male-dominated...
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Should we stop asking celebrities about feminism?

I think maybe it’s time to stop asking celebrities if they are feminist or not. If they don’t do feminist work, what’s the point? It’s like asking me about Judaism or the raw food movement — I have no opinion and if you force me to come up with one I’m going to come off as an idiot. Those are not my areas of expertise. Lots of areas are not my areas of expertise. What’s with so many interviewers asking female musicians or actresses about feminism? Why not just ask a feminist? The vast majority of the time they have no real answer, don’t seem to understand the meaning of the word, and then end up being pushed into controversy because they made some stupid/offensive statement about not being...
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The James Franco Test: Feminists fighting internalized patriarchy

I reeeally love James Franco. I held my breath watching 127 Hours, I wondered what the heck was wrong with Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love, and I fell in love by the end of Tristan + Isolde. Admittedly, he has played some questionable roles and many of his movies are straight duds (sorry, but I couldn’t make it 10 minutes into Howl and the promo ads for Spring Breakers are cringe-worthy…).  But Franco has this amazing mix of witty, creative, intelligent, multi-talented drive and retro, scruffy good looks that makes most women (and many men) swoon.  And those Gucci ads? Be still my heart!  Heck, even my brother loves him and just got his curly hair cut in a similar style.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but...
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No, ‘female-appreciation’ is not the same thing as feminism

A bunch of folks are all excited about how “feminist” Pharrell Williams’ new album, G I R L, is. He says it’s about “appreciating” women, which always sets off some red flags for me. While I like some of the stuff Williams’ produces (and maybe the new album is good or even, like, not totally sexist!), I’m skeptical about the notion that he’s feminism’s new ambassador. this album is his effort to set the record straight on how he really views women, in the wake of the backlash he reportedly received for his contribution to the lyrics and video for Robin Thicke and T.I.’s hit song “Blurred Lines.” Dropping a few lines to explain his stance on how women routinely get the short end of the stick would’ve probably sufficed, but...
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Sinead O’Connor is (mostly) right about Miley Cyrus. Now let the ageism and sexism begin!

I won’t deny that there were parts of Sinead O’Connor’s viral letter to Miley Cyrus that bothered me. To say that “your body is for you and your boyfriend” irked me a little for heteronormative reasons but also because it seems frame the female body as some kind of private gift only your boyfriend gets access to. For O’Connor to put herself in the position of “mother” to Miley (“it is said in the spirit of motherliness and with love”) is also bothersome because, well, simply because one is an older woman, that shouldn’t make a person necessarily a “nurturing” or “mothering” figure (though I get that O’Connor might feel “protective” of Cyrus in some way). I don’t find the woman = mother stereotype to be particularly useful, progressive,...
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Kathleen Hanna pretty much says it all about dudes and feminism

Oh man. I just love this video of Kathleen Hanna explaining the origin of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” I recently discovered via The Frisky. Hanna’s rendition of the song is amaaaazing, of course, but what I really loved was the way she was able to point out how ridiculous so many dudes are when it comes to understanding and actually giving a shit about sexism. Along with the story of how the classic Nirvana song came to be, Hanna shares that, while on tour with her band, in the 90s, she had to get a job as a strip club in order to get enough money together to fix the van that would enable the band to go on tour. At about the five minute mark, Hanna talks about...
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Just because you like it, doesn’t make it feminist: On Game of Thrones’ imagined feminism

Someone messaged me yesterday asking my perspective on Game of Thrones; wondering if I had any feministy links or insights to share with him. I stopped watching GoT early in the second season, after Joffrey forces one prostitute to beat another unconscious in a horrifically sadistic and gruesome way. I’d already been having a hard time digesting the women’s-bodies-as-wallpaper theme in the show, never mind the sexualized violence, and watching this misogynist man-child force a woman to beat another bloody pushed me over the edge. It was bad enough that, in the very first episode, teenaged Daenerys is raped by her new husband and it was bad enough that the directors feel it’s necessary to include naked prostitutes roaming around in the background of scenes that don’t require porny,...
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Miss Representation: A critical review

Amidst a sea of accolades and five-star reviews (examples: here, here and here), Natalie Hill offers a dissenting opinion on Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s new film on the representation of women in the media.     You might say the representation of women in the media is somewhat of an obsession of mine.  Whether at journalism school or studying at the graduate level, research on stereotypical media narratives about women has always been my focus.  I was also recently lured into the core organizing team of the Vancouver chapter of WAM! (Women, Action and the Media), an organization designed to bring journalists, academics and activists together in progressive dialogue about the media.  For all of these reasons I was thrilled when I heard about a new documentary that explores the...
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Erotic capital: new language for old-school sexist views of women, work and success

Natalie Hill is an MA student in the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies. She graduated from the School of Journalism at Carleton University, is a core organizing member of WAM! Vancouver (Women, Action and the Media).  When it comes to advancing in the work place, one might argue that never before have (some) women had so many resources to help get them to the top: university degrees and higher education, mentors and career counseling programs, even the ability to delay pregnancy while their careers are in their formative years. But stupidly, these women often overlook one of their best resources: their erotic capital. That is according to Catherine Hakim, a sociologist at the London School of Economics.  Her recently published book argues that taking advantage of one’s “erotic...
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Progressive objectification: American Apparel's Next Big Thing

American Apparel has never been progressive. It has never been pro-woman and it has never made much of an effort to hide it’s founder, Dov Charney‘s, pervy ways. Last year, Melanie Klein at Feminist Fatale outlined the myriad of ways in which the company has long been a terrible place for women. Charney has been accused of sexual harrassment a number of times and their consistently pornographic advertising speaks for itself. The imagery is often defending as being ‘artsy’, as though objectification is ok when it is ‘provocative’ (like we’ve never seen women’s bodies represented in this way before, like if the photos are grainy they instantly become ‘artistic’). It’s interesting how badly we want this kind of imagery to be ‘ok’. How badly we want to justify ads...
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We're Sluts, Not Feminists. Wherein my relationship with Slutwalk gets rocky.

It would appear that, through lack of clarity, something has finally become clear: Slutwalk has lost me. I have been following the media coverage, the blog posts, and especially, the threads on SlutwalkTO’s Facebook page, with vigour over the past month or so, since the original walk took place in Toronto on April 3rd. I think it’s safe to say that my relationship with Slutwalk has been a little bit of a feminist rollercoaster ride. One moment I feel like YEAH! WOMEN GETTING MAD. Because, hey, women should be mad. Victim blaming is one of the most insidious, abusive, and traumatic experiences a woman can go through. Not only have we been assaulted, had to come out and admit/describe the assault (terrifying in and of itself), but then we are...
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