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In defense of Kim Kardashian and her critics

Celebrities create contention. They often appear to break social conventions when in fact they themselves are confined within them. This is entirely apparent in the case of Kim Kardashian’s “break the internet” shoot in Paper magazine. Kardashian’s photos have been met with a mixed reaction. The responses tend to take one of two routes: they either criticize her for being a poor role model, or they cheer her on because “if you got it flaunt it, girl.” For women who are critical of the never-ending onslaught of images like Kardashian’s, the old and worn gender stereotypes are dragged out. One blogger asked: “Is it because we feel insecure when we look at perfectly lit, stunning bodies? Is it because we get jealous when others — maybe our partners —...
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Femen was founded and is controlled by a man. Exactly zero people are surprised

Femen, aka, CLASSICAL FEMINISM IS DEAD ALSO LOOK AT OUR BOOOOOBS, turns out to have been founded and controlled by a man named Victor Svyatski. Outed by Australian film-maker Kitty Green, she says: “It’s his movement and he hand-picked the girls. He hand-picked the prettiest girls because the prettiest girls sell more papers. The prettiest girls get on the front page… that became their image, that became the way they sold the brand.” I swear I don’t want to go all “I TOLD YOU SO SUCKERS” but seriously. We talked about this. We talked about the fact that the whole point of Femen was to capture the male gaze, thereby capturing the attention of the media. We talked about the fact that we should be skeptical “anytime anyone makes...
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This week in Idiotic Things People Do In The Name Of Feminism: Boob parade!

Sunday was, apparently, “Go Topless Day.” According to media coverage of the event in Vancouver, the purpose of the march is to “stand up for women’s right to go topless in public.” CBC’s headline read: “Topless women march in Vancouver for gender equality,” which naturally led me to wonder what, exactly, about fighting for our “right” to bare our breasts in public had to do with gender equality. First things first. In Canada, women won the right to bare their breasts in public in 1996, so the claims that this march is about gaining rights is a little misleading. Spokesperson, Denise Belisle, said the women participating in the event in Vancouver were fighting for women in other places where going topless isn’t legal:  “For the women who do want...
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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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Girls explains the difference between porn and nudity in half an hour (nsfw)

After all my frustrated and repetitive attempts at trying to explain the difference between porn and images of naked bodies and the difference between objectification and images of female sexuality that aren’t exploitative or sexualized, Sunday night’s episode of Girls basically did it all for me. Go watch it, if you can, but here’s a super brief recap for those who missed it: Hannah meets a hot doctor dude (Joshua/Patrick Wilson) who comes into the coffee shop she works at to complain about the shop’s garbage ending up in his trash cans. Hannah, being the secret culprit, goes to his place to apologize, kisses him, and they spend the next two days humping. Good times. Warning, there is no humping in the following clip: The point I’m often trying...
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Defense of ‘the selfie’ confirms that this era will forever be known as the stupidest of all eras

Clearly the world is engaged in an elaborate plot to make me LOSE MY MIND. You win, world! You are the dumbest and the worst at everything. I concede. This morning’s episode of CBC Radio’s The Current featured a debate about ‘the selfie’. Listening was a little agonizing at times, but it provided an excellent portrayal of our culture’s mass confusion about what it means to do something ‘for ourselves’ vs. performing for the (male) gaze. Self-centered as we are, we like to believe that everything we do is ‘for ourselves’, even it’s it’s clearly for others. It’s comforting, yes. But it’s also bullshit. It’s simply not possible that, if we put images of ourselves, or really, if we put anything at all online, that it’s ‘for ourselves’. If...
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Revenge porn is about porn

If you haven’t yet heard about revenge porn, you’re lucky. Notorious dickbag, Hunter Moore, is big into the revenge porn game. He can be credited with mainstreaming the concept of punishing your ex by posting their nude photos online without their permission via his website, IsAnyoneUp.com. Doesn’t take much to get rich these days, just a complete lack of anything resembling a soul. Not only would Moore post the photos, but he would also post the person’s name, location, and link to their social media accounts, also helpfully facilitating comments under the images critiquing the person’s appearance. Innovative, right! Eight months after his original site shut down, Moore, committed as ever to cretin status, announced he would be launching a new site: HunterMoore.TV. Of course, the fact that he...
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There is a wrong way to do feminism. And Femen is doing it wrong

I was grateful to have been invited to join a conversation about the future of feminism that looked specifically at the tactics of Ukrainian protest group, FEMEN on Al Jazeera English‘s show The Stream last week. Inna Shevchenko, the leader of Femen International and Chloe Angyal of Feministing.com were guests on the show and the producers invited feminist bloggers Chrissy D, Ariana Tobin, Sara Yasin, (who are all the best, fyi), and myself to bring in critical perspectives and questions. You can watch the show in it’s entirety here: The show was pretty packed, discussion-wise, and the producers did a great job of trying to include a wide variety of perspectives on FEMEN’s tactics. That said, there is A LOT more that could be said around some of the...
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Nobody hates you because you're beautiful (they just hate you): On Samantha Brick and woman-hating

How many more times will we have to hear about how ALL WOMEN are horrible, insecure, jealous, other-lady-hating bitches? Probably at least a few more times. In case you missed it a couple of weeks back, Samantha Brick, a lady who I’d never heard of until just now, but apparently is so beautiful that men give her booze and train tickets and stuff, wrote what is possibly the most entertaining article of all time, explaining that being the prettiest flower on the plane, in the bar, or in all of France isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In an effort to finally address the age old oppression of the very, very good looking and to, at long last, end the silence! around the true fact that no attractive...
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Why my body doesn't exist for your viewing pleasure: An open letter to Ian Brown and friends

On Friday, The Globe and Mail published an article so offensive, so backwards, and so nauseating that the only reaction I could muster over the last 48 hours was fuming, spitting, red-faced anger. They smartly (if intelligence is calculated based on page views and the ability to get pervy dudes on-side, which clearly The Globe and Mail believes is the case) titled the piece:  Why men can’t – and shouldn’t – stop staring at women. Criticism of the article could almost begin and end with the title. One of the things we’ve learned from feminism is that, while men have long enjoyed arguing that biology accounts for misogyny, having used scientific arguments to “prove” that, for example, male dominance, rape, male violence and of course, the objectified, sexualized female...
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Connecting the dots: Pornography, the VPD, and violence against women

We could feign shock at recent reports that members of the Vancouver Police Department were busted for sharing and watching pornography while at work, but are we really all that surprised? Certainly many feminists are not. The connections between pornography and violence against women are understood by many feminists, though perhaps not so much so by the general public. In a recent statement from Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter, Summer-Rain Bentham is quoted as saying: “This attitude within VPD and the actions by these officers reinforces that women’s bodies are nothing more than objects for male sexual gratification…” Pornography is something that encourages dehumanization. It is much easier to commit violence against or abuse something or someone who we don’t view as a full being. Who, instead, we...
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The naked protester (or, how to get the media to pay attention to women)

Nudity as a form of protest wasn’t invented by PETA. Events such as the World Naked Bike Ride uses nudity as a way to protest “oil dependency and to celebrate the power and individuality of bodies,” 600 environmental activists went naked in 2007 to protest global warming and even as far back as the early 1900s, the Doukhobors, a Russian pacifist religious sect, held nude protest parades. So I wouldn’t go so far as to say that nudity was useless as a tactic in social movements. Lately the Ukrainian protest group, Femen, has been getting a lot of attention. Why? Well, they’re beautiful, thin, young women who are mostly topless. They’re described alternately as a “women’s rights group” or a “feminist group,” as they campaign against issues such as...
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Burlesque: They tell me it’s just for fun…Except I’m not having any.

Two weeks ago we ran our 2-part series on burlesque. Considering the many varied perspectives among women and feminists, we felt it wouldn’t be quite sufficient nor would it present an entirely accurate representation of those varied views if we explored only one side of the argument. The first show featured local burlesque superstar, Crystal Precious and PhD Candidate, Mary Shearman, who we brought on in order to present a look at burlesque that included feminism and female empowerment, rather than a straightforward rejection of it. The conversation could have easily gone on for another hour. Our guests provided us with some super interesting ways of looking at this ‘neo-burlesque movement’, as it’s been coined. We were presented with some ways in which burlesque could, potentially, be subversive. Both...
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