25 Disney Girls Gone Bad: Misogyny run rampant

25 Disney Girls Gone Bad rocked up in my Facebook feed. I went through the pictures assuming that it was all of former Disney actresses in their underwear.

It was.

It also included Demi Lovato twice and claimed that Ashley Tisdale is her own best friend making it fairly obvious that research and editing aren’t priorities for this particular site.

I googled Disney Boys Gone Bad to see if I would discover 8 million pics of Zac Efron in his knickers. Oddly, I found none. Instead, I found numerous articles on male Disney stars arrested for violence against women and girls, robbery, and DUI. It’s worth noting that the Disney ‘girls’ who have been arrested were not arrested for crimes of violence. And, a number of the male stars continued to work, either for Disney or in the entertainment industry, despite having criminal convictions for violence.

An article on ListServe lists Edward Furlong as a (dis)honourable mention for “cocaine addiction; arrested drunkenly trying to free lobsters from a tank”. Lindsey Lohan and Britney Spears get first and second place respectively for their substance dependency and mental health worries. ListServe neglects to mention Furlong’s multiple convictions for domestic violence. Being female and ill is a reason to label a woman “Top 10 Child Stars Who’ve Gone Bad”. Domestic violence isn’t even worth mentioning.

The Mirror felt it necessary to include Lee Thompson Young in first position in their article “Disney stars’ downfall: Hit and runs, rehab and jail – the teen stars who went wild”. Thompson Young wasn’t convicted in a hit and run, nor did do a stint in rehab. He killed himself aged 29 having suffered with bipolar disorder.  The women in their list were all there for substance use; most of the men for violence.

Rather than holding male Disney stars accountable for the violence they commit, much of these “child stars gone bad” focus on shaming women for trying to survive in an industry where there only asset is classed as their ability to pass the patriarchal fuckability test. There is no recognition of the continuing failure of Disney to support its young actors throughout their career. There is little recognition that domestic violence is an actual crime. Instead, these articles all focus on shaming women and excusing men.

And, Baby Bangs? Just Wtf?

All together Now:

Ugly Baby:

dahliadrop2

 

Cute Baby:

 

dahliadrop 1

 

Ugly Baby & Cute Baby

bb1

Ugly Baby & Cute Baby

bb 2

Ugly Baby & Cute Baby

bb3

At least, I think this is what Baby Bangs is telling us with the production of fake hair for babies. Without fake hair, baby girls are UGLY.

And, seriously, who wants an ugly baby?

Not Baby Bangs, that’s for sure:

Our Philosophy
At Baby Bangs! we believe in the beauty of childhood. Our unique designs are sprinkled with MAGIC!~inspiring a world of whimsical wonder and mystical magical memorable moments for you and your baby girl to cherish Forever! For she is, and always will be, 
Your LiTTLe PRINCESS!

Babies can only live in a world of whimsical wonder and mystical magical memorable moments if they only look like girls. And, aren’t ugly.

Otherwise, their lives will suck.

Or, something.

 

<thank you to Sophia Greene for bringing this to my attention>

 

 

Girlie Glue: Because it’s never too early to be girly.

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I thought this was a late April Fool’s rocking up in my Twitter feed. But, no. It appears to be an actual product with an actual website so you can glue shit to your babies’ head so they don’t forget they are girls. Granted, I’ve always been under the impression that babies don’t actually know what “girl” is since they do precisely four things: eat, sleep, shit and cry. But, that’s totally irrelevant. Now, you can ensure that your baby and the world around them know you’ve bought into majorly damaging gendered stereotypes and glue ribbons and bows to your kid’s head. Just so no one destroys their identity by mistaking them for a boy.

Because that would fuck them up for life.

Gluing shit to your kids head, on the other hand, is totally normal.

And this does not fill me this confidence:

Girlie Glue is made with Agave nectar and other all natural Ingredients

It’s safe, 100% Honey-Free and washes away easily with water.

I don’t care that it washes out or that it’s “natural” (and let’s be totally realistic here, all sorts of shit you wouldn’t want near your kid are called natural). You are gluing shit to your babies head.

Actually gluing shit to your babies head.

So people know they are a girl.

I can’t even begin to describe how fucked up that is.

You have a baby. Not a dress-up dolly. It doesn’t matter if your baby is bald and someone in Tesco thinks they are a boy. It’s a baby. You need to cuddle them  – not dress them up like freaking Barbie.

Girls have their entire lives to be groomed into passing the patriarchal fuckability test. At least give them a few years before you start gluing shit to their heads. images 2 Unknown 1

 

Vulvas, gender and the real price of being female

In my living room right now are two little girls playing Monopoly. So far this morning they’ve discussed the following: the existence of God, what happens to your vagina when you give birth, and whether or not they are talking about vaginas and vulvas. Granted, I could have done without the 6:30 am wake up call asking me where I fit on the vagina/vulva debate.

<note for children who may be reading this: it is always too early to wake up to discussions on mislabelling of body parts within a patriarchal culture.>

The first debate could have been any child, but the second is a conversation that little girls have constantly because they are taught from birth that having a vulva isn’t something to be proud of – and if you don’t believe me, just look at the sheer number of threads on Mumsnet by women worried about what to call their daughter’s vulva: a foofoo, front bottom, or flower being continual suggestions. Can we just look at how stupid the term front bottom actually is? We never tell boys they have front bottoms – it’s only girls who are told their reproductive organs are dirty and probably full of pooh from birth. And, flower, besides being linguistically stupid, isn’t a “nice euphemism”. It’s a ridiculous term which makes it difficult for small children to explain if someone is hurting them. After all, the statement “he hurt my flower” could mean anything.

Children need to know basic biology . They need to understand how human reproduction works – and it isn’t like flowers do it – regardless of what you learned from Grease 2. It isn’t basic biology which is harmful to children, contrary to this rather ridiculous article in Slate.  It is the coercive gender roles we assign to male and female which harm children, as Glosswitch so eloquently writes. It is the idea that male children are A and female children are B which damages our children. It is telling boys they can be as violent as they want without repercussions and teaching girls that they are responsible for becoming a victim of male violence. That is harmful; not labelling an infant male or female (unless the child is intersex which, whilst rare, has not been handled appropriately by the medical profession).

When I gave birth to my daughters, I didn’t think they could only be nurses or that they could be whatever they wanted to be. When i gave birth to two girls, I thought about the likelihood they would become a victim of male violence.

When I gave birth, I thought about the increased risk they would live with for being born female:

  • child sexual abuse
  • rape as a teenager
  • rape as an adult
  • sexual harassment in the street, school and workplace
  • their increased risk for contracting STDs through PIV
  • their increased risk of contracting STDs from a male partner ejaculating in their mouth or eyes (as is increasingly common via porn)
  • the fact that most UTI in women are a direct consequence of PIV since men don’t tend to wash their penis after urinating (or hands for that matter)
  • the risk of unwanted pregnancy (and having no access to birth control or abortion)
  • the increased risk of domestic violence, stalking and harassment
  • the increased risk of being killed for being female

I also thought about the “privileges” of being female:

  • earning less than men for doing the same work
  • being fired for being pregnant
  • being forced out of the workplace because of childcare commitments
  • living in poverty because of piss poor pensions
  • living in poverty because they are raising children whilst the father makes no financial contribution
  • being less likely to work in senior management or on a board of a FTSE 500 company

And a 1000 other things which women are punished with for the crime of being born female in male supremacist culture. These punishments are not because we have vaginas, rather its because of the gender coercively assigned to biology which creates women as an inferior class. Gender needs to be abolished – not the biological reality of women’s bodies.

Our girls should be playing monopoly and discussing their bodies without feeling ashamed – but perhaps not at 6:30 in the morning.

 

Glosswitch’s response: Boy or Girl? Why not have a stereotype instead is a must read.

Lottery Funding for Burlesque Lessons For Teenage Girls?

 

At least, that is the impression given by the I will if you will website run by Bury Council.  This is the tagline for the website:

‘I Will If You Will’ is a movement to get us ladies of Bury moving. It’s about getting together, trying something new and having a laugh while we do it. So how about it? Join in online and get all the latest news and gossip, as well as keeping up to date with what’s going on near you and how to get involved.

Who could argue with a safe space for women to exercise without worrying about harassment from men? Obviously, they offer the standard exercise classes like swimming, aerobics, dance and basketball but I have concerns about burlesque being classed as an appropriate class for teenage girls. I will if you will defines burlesque as such:

Burlesque is a fun way to express your body through dance. I loved learning a new dance routine to a great music track!

Burlesque is not a dance class and it’s incredibly harmful to construct it as such. We already raise our children in a culture which sexualises them from birth with offensive baby-gros like “All Daddy wanted was a blowjob” and “Future Porn Star” for three year olds. Suggesting that burlesque, which is about the objectification of women’s bodies for the male gaze, is a normal form of exercise for teenagers is telling them that they are nothing more than fucktoys for men.

Pole dancing classes for children already exist so I’m not exactly surprised by burlesque for teenagers. There will always be parents who think their daughter’s worth is measured in her sexuality sending them to school at 6 in high heels and preventing them from playing sports by dressing them in clothes which they can’t walk in but pole dancing and burlesque lessons for kids are a step too far. There are lots of forms of street dance, hip hop, breakdancing which don’t require teenage girls to participate in an activity whose original purpose was the removal of women’s clothing for the titillation of men.

I’m even more concerned that these classes are being offered in venues funded by local council money, lottery and Sports England:

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 19.52.49

I would like to know if public money has been used to pay for these classes and whether or not the community funds of £750, which  are available to local groups and organisations in Bury, are given to groups offering burlesque classes. The guidelines of the venue do not include statements about which activities are deemed appropriate for children. Burlesque is never an appropriate class for girls and public funding should not be used  to fund these classes.

 

So, Playboy, Definitely Art. And, other Dubious Statements

Hugh Hefner’s 21 year old second son from his second marriage is apparently lining up to take over the company. When he finishes school. Obviously. This rather creepy article in the Independent, which is attempting to pass for news, would like everyone to know that Hef Jr definitely thinks Playboy is art and not pornography. 

I’d like to believe the article’s other claim that the Playboy is only a “marginal” brand now but, let’s be honest, they aren’t making their money from the magazine. Instead, they have been capitalising on ole’ Hugh’s penchant for sexual violence in reality TV programs like The Girls Next Door. The Playboy Club TV program may have been cancelled in its first season but the Playboy clubs are coming back [and are the focus of some brilliant feminist activism]. Sales of Playboy Magazine itself are falling but Playboy brand merchandising is everywhere. For reasons I genuinely don’t get, parents are buying their children Playboy branded duvet covers and notebooks. Playboy merchandise is flaming everywhere and that’s without getting into the “sexy” Playboy dress-up clothes.

Ranting about Playboy merchandising on children aside [and I judge parents who buy 6 year olds jeans with Playboy bunnies on their arse or t-shirts which say ‘Future Porn Star’. It’s not funny or clever. It’s just creepy], Cooper Hefner’s attempts to rewrite Playboy’s past and label their magazines ‘art’ rather than porn demonstrates some serious cognitive dissonance. Or, nincompoopery. Probably both. Whatever it is, Cooper is just not the brightest of sparks when he’s comparing nude art with Playboy centerfolds insofar as he misses the whole freaking debate. Because, there is feminist debate about this and there is recognition that much of the art we admire is of questionable value morally and ethically. Hell, there’s a whole lot of recognition that some of the artists whose work we admire are nothing more than sexual predators. Pretending that Playboy is ‘art’ isn’t participating in that debate. It’s the intellectual equivalent of running about with Darth Vader helmet back to front on one’s head.

As for Cooper’s discussion on the Bunny Girls and “empowerment”, well, it’s nice he’s giving us permission to decide for ourselves but, really, when is Cooper going to participate in an activity which “empowers” him? Because, I’d really like to hear someone use that word on an activity men are required to participate in to be considered valuable.

And, honestly, how do you even unpack the following twaddle:

“There are many domestic issues in the US that bother me, such as gay rights or fighting for the legalisation of marijuana. But as we go global we need to stand for more important issues internationally. Women’s rights in the Middle East and internet censorship in China are two things we can stand for and have an influence in, especially when we’re coming into these emerging markets like India and we’re faced with the challenge of opening up Playboy clubs where the bunnies can’t even wear bunny outfits. You have these countries which are in a very similar place sexually – especially when it comes to gender roles – where the US was when my dad first started.”

“Faced with the challenge” of opening in markets where women aren’t allowed to wear Bunny outfits? I genuinely don’t what to stay except that’s a whole load of  nincompoopery which is seriously missing the point, not to mention just a teensy bit of orientalist discourse. That’s without mentioning the whole issue of women’s rights currently being destroyed in the US with access to abortion being curtailed everywhere and gang-rapes like that in Steubenville being a whole lot more common than many would like to believe. Or, that internet censorship isn’t only in China. Why is it important for women in other countries to have the right to dress in Bunny outfits when American women wearing Bunny outfits are slut-shamed? How is expanding the Playboy empire going to help women? What has the legalisation of marijuana got to do with large swathes of the planet not having basic human rights like access to clean water? 

Being raised in the Playboy mansion [and the house next door where his mother lived] can’t have been a healthy place for two young boys to grow up. I don’t think its all that surprising that Cooper’s brother Marston has a recent conviction for domestic violence. Whatever your opinion of porn, it isn’t ever appropriate for children and the two boys would have been exposed during Playboy “parties”, photo shoots and the filming of the Girls Next Door. These would not have been simply nude women. The Playboy empire is built on porn.

Christie Hefner, Cooper’s older sister, ran the company until 2009 when she stepped down. She oversaw the expansion of the empire out of the magazine industry and she put an end to some of Hugh’s more egregious behaviours, at least ones financially supported by the company. Cooper may not want to wear his father’s pyjamas but neither he nor his brother Marsten come across as well-rounded men with a respect for women and women’s sexuality. I don’t agree with many of Christie Hefner’s expansion policies, and I certainly find the show Girls Next Door deeply creepy, but I’m quite certain that Christie Hefner wanted to run a business. I’m not sure that’s what Cooper or Marston are looking for.

So, Every Women Wants to be Objectified?

I probably would have ignored this story if it hadn’t been for this article in the Huffington Post. Cameron Diaz’s comment to the Sunday Times suggesting that its healthy for women to want to be objectified is, well, stupid and arrogant. But, we all say stupid and arrogant things from time to time, so, whilst her comment pissed me off, I was going to let it slide. Diaz clearly does not speak for most women; even those who’ve bought into the “empowerfulising” discourse [here’s a hint: if a man doesn’t have to do it to be empowered, it’s misogynistic bollocks]. These kinds of comments just reinforce Patriarchal constructions of women’s sexuality and are best ignored.

As I said, I would have ignored it if it weren’t for the daft article in the Huffington Post which ends with this:

The comments are sure to raise some eyebrows — just as her recent interaction with Robert Pattinson raised a few. 

Earlier this month, it was reported that the actress was spotted flirting with the 26-year-old “Twilight” star, who recently reconciled with his girlfriend, Kristen Stewart. 

“She was pretty obvious,” a source told Us Weekly. “Cam was seated next to Rob at dinner. She was touching his arm, doing her big Cameron laugh at everything he said and trying really hard. He was polite, but not having it.”

I’m struggling to work out what the link is between Diaz spouting some dire “choice” feminism twaddle and her possibly flirting with a man who may or may not be in a relationship. I’m not googling to find out because I genuinely don’t care if he is in a relationship or not. What I do care about is the constant reinforcement of slut-shaming in our rape culture. The Huffington Post piece pretends to be impressed with Diaz being confident in her own sexuality, whilst snidely swiping at those who object to Diaz’s statement, and then it slaps Diaz back into place. The hypocrisy in one piece is breath-taking.

God forbid a woman find a man sexually attractive. And, tell him so. I am so fucking over this slut-shaming arsehattery.

Yeah, I think Diaz’s comments were stupid and arrogant but I’m angry with what she said; not because she may like having sex. Or, may have decided to hit on some guy. It’s not relevant and it has nothing to do with the story except as a silencing technique.

Oddly, The Huffington Post posted an article by Nico Lang in defence of Kristen Stewart and the serious slut-shaming she faced after kissing someone who was not Robert Pattinson back in September. I think there a few people who need to revisit that article.

Brilliant Circus for Kids if it didn’t have a Faux Pole Dance in the Middle


I took my youngest to see a travelling circus last week. It was, for the most part, a great kids’ circus. Lots of acrobatics, no animals, and an utterly ridiculous clown who didn’t feel the need to go in for any sexist jokes but rather focused on the old routines of dropping plates and throwing popcorn on people. Yes, I’ve seen that a million times before but it’s still funny. More importantly, kids love it and circuses really are for kids. This wasn’t the best circus I’ve ever been too but small loved it and that’s what counts the most for me; although, to be fair, I quite enjoyed it too.

There were, however, two twitch-inducing acts. The first was an acrobatic act involving 3 Black men. They were fucking brilliant and the one who limboed basically bent backwards was incredible. I felt my usual spell of jealousy of people who are that athletic and flexible. I am neither. But, they were dressed in “African” prints and were doing “African” dances. Now, I have no idea of their ethnic origins since I didn’t speak to them but I really do find it sad when I see incredible Black artists reduced to using stereotypical [but usually wrong] constructions of “Africa” in order to entertain white audiences. They were a great act but the reductive “othering” of it was uncomfortable to view.

The other was an act featuring a young woman in a very “sexualised” outfit performing what was basically a pole dance without the pole [since she was standing on a large disco ball rather than the pole]. Now, this is was an acrobatic circus. Most of the women were in tight or revealing clothes but weren’t dressed as pole dancers. This particular act involved lots of standing on her head and doing the splits whilst stroking herself. She was an incredible athlete so the stroking was nothing more than an attempt to pander to the pornographied sections of society who can’t go to an event with their children without having their cocks virtually stroked. What was a real piss-off was the climax involved this athlete [and she was an athlete] standing on her head, facing backwards and shooting an arrow at a dartboard. Now, I’m dyspraxic and couldn’t shoot an arrow in a straight line whilst standing upright and facing the right way so the whole shooting whilst standing on your head and facing the wrong direction was pretty fucking amazing. It didn’t need to be “sexed up”. It’s just so disgraceful and depressing that a circus aimed at kids feels they need to add a routine like this in order to appeal to the pornographied masses.

What happened to just being able to take our kids to the circus, pay obscene amounts of money for popcorn to watch real clowns and real athletes perform amazing acts without the need to make lions jump through hoops which are on fire or have women trussed up like sex toys?

“Girls”: Objectifying and Belittling all Women; All the Time

This started as a twitter conversation with @Alexwintermute @lynnschreiber @ladycurd and @queenofbiscuits about insults and defining the acceptability of words. Actually, it had to do with calling people “love” and “duck” and “hen”; whether or not they are offensive or worth calling people on. I’ve been contemplating what I said for a few days now [you can also read that as too lazy to type my thoughts up] and this is my semi-illiterate musings since I wrote it at 3 am.

So, whilst I’m not necessarily enthused about strangers calling me terms of endearment, I wouldn’t ask them not to; unless they were using it in a patronising or offensive manner. I would, however, consistently call people out on using the term “girl” to define or describe me [or anyone else]. I find the term “girl” extremely offensive. We do not use the term “boy” to define adult men so why is it acceptable to use the word “girl” to define adult women. “Girl” is only used to objectify and belittle women. Yes, some women do like to use the term but I think that is because of patriarchal constructions of beauty which assume that older women aren’t worthy or important. There are only two constructions of women in the patriarchy: fuckable and unfuckable. Older women and those who do not conform are invisible; unworthy. Therefore, to remain “visible” women have to conform to the patriarchal definitions of beauty which privilege youth. So, women call themselves “girls” whilst spending fortunes on “beauty” products to make themselves look younger. They stop expressing their opinions for fear of being labeled a hag. Women become infantile to prevent bullying [and I certainly don’t blame any women for choosing this path. Being a target of hatred by the Patriarchal establishment is frightening].


I think, though, that “girl” is an incredibly misogynistic term used to silence women and its use, regardless of context, hurts women. There are other words which are misogynistic in usage, such as the use of “blonde” but it does not carry same level of systemic and structural oppression that “girls” implies. Blonde is inexcusable as an insult. “Girls” represents structural misogyny and the erasure of women from culture. And I don’t think individual ‘choice’ is a good enough excuse to use a term whose structural usage is the erasure of adult women from discourse. The “choice” doctrine is individualistic, narcissistic twaddle designed to elide structural and systemic oppressions from discourse; whether this be misogyny, racism, or homophobia. It merely obfuscates the issue and blames those who have neither the wealth nor the specific skill set to overcome oppression [usually this bit involves kicking a football around a field or being grossly over-paid to appear on shite TV programs].

The capitalist-Patriarchy profits off the insecurities of women; you only need view Boots’ horrendous “Here Come the Girls” advertising to realise just how much money is to be made making women feel old and ugly. I won’t buy products from any company which tries to label me “girl” and I assume any man using it as a compliment is either thick or sexist; neither of which are particularly attractive. “Girl” represents all that is wrong with rape culture and misogyny. We need to stop using it and stop pretending we can re-appropriate it from those who cause us harm.

Lap Dancing Clubs Increase Sexual violence

The knowledge that lap dancing clubs lead to an increase in sexual violence is hardly a surprise to anyone whose actually bothered to read any of the research into the links between increased sexual violence and the sex industry. This, however, is the first time I’ve heard a senior police officer discuss lap dancing clubs in such terms. Inspector Ian Drummond-Smith, the police chief in the “resort” of Newquay wrote an official letter objecting to the town council licensing a lap dancing club. Drummond-Smith claimed that the lap dancing clubs had already “contributed” to 14 rapes and 34 other sexual assaults in the area within the last two years. Okay, I’m not entirely comfortable with this bit:

“It is of concern that sexual entertainment would take place in such proximity to dwellings and vulnerable persons, and those leaving the premises, having been subject to highly sexualised performances, may be at greater risk of committing sexual offences. The combination of factors above, in particular the vulnerable groups identified, have contributed to the sex crimes.”

Since, it seems to imply that men who commit sexual offences after participating in the objectification and abuse of women in lap dancing clubs are “vulnerable”; as if men are so controlled by their penises that they can’t help but rape women after hanging out in a lap dancing club. That pisses me off. Women are vulnerable because of the increase in sexual violence. Men are at an increased risk of committing a criminal offence; that does not make them vulnerable.

But, I am pleased to hear a senior police officer making the national press whilst arguing against the provision of lap dancing clubs and I am incredibly grateful to the campaigners at Object who fought to have lap dancing clubs rezoned as “sex entertainment venues” (in England and Wales) so that the general public has an opportunity to campaign against their existence. I hope the Scottish government has the gumption to do the same.

Some resources:

Julie Bindel and Liz Kelly, A Critical Examination of Responses to Prostitution in Four Countries: Victoria, Australia; Ireland; the Netherlands and Sweden, (London Metroplitan University, 2003)

Jennifer Hayashi Danns with Sandrine Leveque, Stripped: The Bare Reality of Lap Dancing, (Claireview, 2011)

Gail Dines, Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, (Beacon Press, 2010)

Kelly Holsoppe, Stripclubs According to Strippers: Exposing Workplace Sexual Violence, (Metropolitan Coalition Against Prostitution, 1998)

Robert Jensen, Pornography and the End of Masculinity, (South End Press, 2007)

Ariel Levy, Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, (Pocket Books, 2005)

Melinda Tankard Reist, Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls, (Spinifex, 2009)

Dr Meagan Tyler, Prof Sheila Jeffries, et al. Not Just Harmless Fun: The Strip Club Industry in Victoria, Australia. (Coalition Against Trafficking Women, 2010)

Natasha Walter, Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, (Virago, 2010)