I was fortunate enough to get tickets to see Zadie Smith at the Edinburgh Book Festival this year, which is why I know the “Zadie Smith banned her daughter from wearing make-up” is utter bollocks. Quite how the person who spread this rumour managed to understand Smith’s comment as a ban is mind-boggling. I’m veering between two options: a) they are on the wrong side of dim; b) deliberately propagated this for click bait.
It is incredibly disappointing to see media who claim to be feminist calling out Smith without investigating the context in which Smith referred to make-up. She did not “ban’ her daughter from wearing make-up. The statement below was in response to a question from the about raising children within the harmful culture of patriarchal standards that hold girls to unrealistic expectations of beauty. Smith used the issue of time as a way to explain to her daughter, in age appropriate language, how patriarchal standards negatively impact girls’ lives.
Continue reading Zadie Smith: why the focus on make-up ignores the massive elephant in the room
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 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.
All together Now:
Ugly Baby & Cute Baby
Ugly Baby & Cute Baby
Ugly Baby & Cute Baby
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:
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.
<thank you to Sophia Greene for bringing this to my attention>
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.
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:
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.
Feminist magazine Vagenda have a new book out which is brilliant because there can never be enough feminist books published. I am, however, concerned about the cover. It simply reinforces the “women as object” motif, particularly since this is a woman’s body without head.
This isn’t uncommon for the publication of feminist books but it worries me. I doubt very much Vagenda had a choice in the cover but it does bother me that feminist texts are being published using pornified images of women’s bodies. Do publishers genuinely believe that people will only buy Vagenda’s book if the image is ‘sexy’ because I have to say, I think that’s rather insulting to Vagenda’s audience. If the only way a marketing team can think to run book by a popular feminist website is with this cover, then they simply aren’t creative enough.
Vagenda’s book would have sold well without this cover. It’s just unnecessary.
Natasha Walter’s Living Dolls:
Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs
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.
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.
Victoria Secret’s annual Fashion Show is testimony to the mainstreaming of the pornification of women’s bodies. It represents everything which is wrong in the Patriarchy rendering women not only into objects for men to wank over but commodifying their bodies with the woman given the honour of wearing a $2.5 million dollar diamond studded bra considered The Ultimate Woman. It isn’t so much a fashion show as a live action soft porn show with titillating photos of the models leaked online prior to the broadcast. I won’t link any here but the images are the same poses as found in Playboy or any other mainstream soft porn magazine. Victoria Secret’s trades on an image of respectability despite the fact that it uses the same techniques as porn to entice men. They reinforce rape culture by parading women in their underwear for male audiences. They are not selling underwear to women but the image of fuckable women to men who then by the underwear for their partners who can not be expected to look like the models who routinely go on crash diets involving only liquids in the run-up to the show so they don’t look “fat”. It normalises the Patriarchal Fuckability Test on women who have no hope of passing it.
The women-hating and exploitation of Victoria Secret’s has become so common place that I don’t even notice them anymore but this year they added racism to their bow. One of the themes of the production this year was the calendar and November was represented by a white model wearing a fairly racist signifier of “Indian”. The use of a Plains Indian Warbonnett as a signifier for all Native Americans, First Nations, Metis and Inuit people is racist because it is reductive. You can not reduce huge, disparate cultures down to one item which was worn by men who had earned the honour and pretend it isn’t anything but culturally insensitive. The cultural appropriation of such item on the objectified body of a white woman is doubly insensitive.
It really isn’t that hard to take ten minutes and think about cultural appropriation. It isn’t that hard to think about the links of a nearly naked white woman dressed in cultural signifiers of ‘Indians’ when Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other group of women in the US. The majority of the perpetrators of this sexual violence are non-Native men. Yet, the representation of white women dressed in outfits sexualising a construction of Native Americans derived from racist discourse in ‘Cowboy and Indian’ films has become a trope in our visual culture, one which has been repeated multiple time in the last couple of months. Lana Del Ray’s latest video is possibly the most offensive of the recent insurgence in cultural appropriation; interestingly she seems to have received far less backlash than No Doubt or Victoria Secrets. Whilst I don’t think No Doubt’s apology is a proper apology what with the whole we have non-white friends trope being called up, they at least seem to understand that they have caused offence. Neither Del Ray nor Victoria Secret’s appears to have understood at all. No Doubt pulled the video within days of the complaints arising. It seems unbelievably arrogant for Victoria Secrets not to take 10 minutes to rethink the outfit a week later.
And, FFS, using a cultural signifier for ‘Indian’ in the month of year where the major American holiday is a celebration of their genocide seems, I don’t know, really fucking stupid.
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.