Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Creepshots and revenge porn

Paparazzi, the Duchess of Cambridge, and how all young women now seem to be under surveillance. Courtesy Kira Cochrane, in The Guardian.

"there is the evidence that young women are being coerced into taking suggestive pictures by their male peers, badgered in a way that is distinctly paparazzi-like. Teenagers today have grown up in an environment filled with both paparazzi pictures and images of ordinary women with their tops off. We live in the land built by gossip and lads' magazines over the past decade."

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

'Real' women vs. 'skinny' models

Sali Hughes reports for the The Guardian on the decision of German women's magazine Brigitte to shelve its policy of using amateur models.

'the publishing industry consistently sees reader focus groups choose thin models over larger women in both editorial and advertising. Attempts at using larger women have been as unsuccessful here as in Germany. And yet criticising thin women has become an easy, crowd-pleasing option in recent years (politicians cynically wheel out the anti-model stance on quiet days, often using the term "real women", an expression so offensive it undermines its intended meaning).'

Monday, September 03, 2012

More on hijras in Pakistan, courtesy NPR

"This year, hijras won a key legal battle to have a third gender option on national ID cards. About 50,000 Pakistanis are classified as hijras like Mehvish. The category includes self-reported transgender men and women, as well as transvestites, hermaphrodites and eunuchs." Check out the rest of the report here.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

RIP Shulamith Firestone, author of 'The Dialectic of Sex'

Published in 1970, Firestone's The Dialectic of Sex is an extremely provocative and well-argued "radical feminist" text. Emily Chertoff offers this eulogy for Firestone in The Atlantic.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Guerilla Girls on Pussy Riot

via The New York Times, August 26, 2012.

“Pussy Riot are our kind of girls: feminist activists in masks making trouble,” Kathe Kollwitz and Frida Kahlo, pseudonymous Guerrilla Girls, wrote in an e-mail. “But,” they added, “we live in a very different culture where art is not as dangerous, and we can pretty much do what we want...

One really inspiring thing about Pussy Riot is that they always make it clear that their actions are political and feminist,” the Guerrilla Girls wrote. “The world needs more feminist masked avengers. We urge everyone to make trouble, each in her own way.”

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Legitimate rape" and the one-sex system

Todd Akin, Republican candidate for the Missouri Senate seat, revived this medieval theory about rape and conception over this past weekend. Vanessa Hoggie gives this old, discredited, but still-alive-in-some-medieval-circles theory a thorough look, on The Guardian's blog.

This was a long-lived legal argument. Samuel Farr's Elements of Medical Jurisprudence contained the same idea as late as 1814:

"For without an excitation of lust, or the enjoyment of pleasure in the venereal act, no conception can probably take place. So that if an absolute rape were to be perpetrated, it is not likely she would become pregnant."

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fifth Annual Gayness Cure Walk

From The Onion:

raising funds and awareness to help cure, and eliminate, 
the "debilitating psychosexual disease" of gayness.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Coffee and the housewife job of the fifties (plus a stewardess asks you to fly her)

Housewife discovers the mountain and gets to keep her job.

"Your coffee, sir!"

"he's always crabbing about my coffee, I could cry."

"I'm Maggie, fly me."

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Isle of Flowers

Furtado is not so much portraying deliberately malevolent actions but the insularity of the bourgeoisie, who are protected not only from the stink and disease of their rotting waste, but from the realities of existence at the edge of an unequal society where pigs as a commodity rank higher than the poor who must scavenge after the fat porkers. Eisenstein move over.

Read more here.

And then, lest you think that the story of the tomato is only about Brazil, check out the latest episode of "Splendid Table" (from American Public Media). You can hear Barry Esterbrook, author of Tomatoland, talking about Florida tomatoes.

Among other things, you'll learn that Florida tomato growers use pesticides very heavily, about eight times as much California growers use. Laws regarding the exposure of workers to pesticides are frequently violated and ignored.

Esterbrook tells us that recently at one tomato work camp in Florida, three women, who were all pregnant at the same time, were forced to work in the fields. All three gave birth to very badly deformed babies.

Slavery also remains endemic in Florida's tomato fields, to this day, according to the US District Attorney for South Florida. Over the last 10-15 years seven cases have been successfully prosecuted and 1200 enslaved tomato workers have been freed. But slavery continues to exist, and who knows how many slaves are working to produce the tomatoes we purchase from Florida, because it is very difficult to prosecute. It is difficult for the enslaved to speak up.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Calvin Klein's Male Underwear Models

Nice vid from the New York Times.

See: Amy Gluckman and Betsy Reed, "The Gay Marketing Moment: Leaving Diversity in the Dust," Dollars and Sense, November—December 1993.

One of the most famous of the models: Marky Mark (later better known as Mark Wahlberg). This is from the early 90s:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ma Rainey, Vesta Tilley

Ma Rainey's "Prove It on Me Blues"

They say I do; ain't nobody caught me,
Sure got to prove it on me;
Went out last night with a crowd of my friends,
They must have been women 'cause I don't like no men.

Wear my clothes just like a fan,
Talk to the gals just like any old man,
'Cause they say I do it, ain't nobody caught me,
Sure got to prove it on me.

Vesta Tilley, English music hall male impersonator, ca. 1905

Reference: Judith Halberstam, "Mackdaddy, Superfly, Rapper: Gender, Race, and Masculinity in the Drag King Scene." Social Text 52/53, 1997, pp. 104-131.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cross-dressing street hustlers of sixties Paris: photo gallery

Fabulous photo gallery of transgender, cross-dressing street hustlers of Paris in the sixties, taken by Swedish photographer Christer Strömholm. Courtesy the New York Times, June 22, 2012.

Christer Strömholm/Strömholm Estate

Monday, May 07, 2012

Cynthia Nixon on homosexuality as a choice

From the wonderful blog, A Paper Bird.

Recently, Cynthia Nixon gave a speech in which she said that her sexuality (gay) is a choice. This set off a lot of criticism from within the LGBT community. A Paper Bird defends here. Here are some excerpts.

"First of all, no one should be forced to surrender their personal identity to political obligation. That’s the antithesis of a liberal society, and has nothing to do with any campaign for human rights. Second, no one has the right to decide or define anybody else’s sexuality for them — to select, for God’s sake, what you can say about yourself...

The problem is that, in the US, we — the LGBT movement — have staked all our rights claims on the analogy with race. We are a people; we have our own culture and history, even though the categories that define us (so we contend) don’t; and, most importantly, our selves, like our skin colors, cannot change. Sexual orientation is something deep, unalterable, basic. It’s because it’s unchangeable that discrimination predicated on it is so wrong. And so we’re not defending people’s freedom; we’re defending their imprisonment in themselves.

It’s when people try to escape that prison, even for a day’s parole, that we treat them as traitors to the cause.

Of course, this kind of argument is absurd — even about race. It ignores the innumerable historical experiences of “passing,” the different ways that white as well as black people have been defined, the differences in race’s definition around the world...

supposing “sexual orientation” is unchangeable ignores the fact that the category itself has changed since it was invented, and that it was only invented a hundred years or so ago. Sexuality, as Foucault grasped, doesn’t reveal some “truth” about us...

In the politics of identity, bisexuals are hated because they stand for choice. The game is set up so as to exclude the middle; bisexuals get squeezed out. in the “LGBT” word, the “B” is silent...The business of “outing,” of which Aravosis has been an eloquent proponent, also revolves around the excluded middle...

What, moreover, if sexual orientation itself is not “a deep trait felt to be at the core of one’s being,” one that people miraculously started feeling in 1869, when the word “homosexual” was coined?...

What if our model for defending LGBT people’s rights were not race, but religion? What if we claimed our identities were not something impossible to change, but a decision so profoundly a part of one’s elected and constructed selfhood that one should never be forced to change it?"

Friday, April 20, 2012

Katha Pollitt on Ann Romney and Women's Work

Very smart piece from the 7 May 2012 issue of The Nation.

the difference between a stay-home mother and a welfare mother is money and a wedding ring. Unlike any other kind of labor I can think of, domestic labor is productive or not, depending on who performs it. For a college-educated married woman, it is the most valuable thing she could possibly do, totally off the scale of human endeavor...But for a low-income single woman, forgoing a job to raise children is an evasion of responsibility, which is to marry and/or support herself. For her children, staying home sets a bad example, breeding the next generation of criminals and layabouts. 

All of which goes to show that it is not really possible to disengage domestic work from its social, gendered context: the work is valuable if the woman is valuable, and what determines her value is whether a man has found her so and how much money he has. That is why discussions of domestic labor and its worth are inextricably bound up with ideas about class, race, respectability, morality and above all womanhood.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Billionaire Paul Singer, Romney SuperDonor, on Gay Marriage

"I believe a generation from now, gay marriage will be seen as a profoundly traditionalizing act. It will have channeled love into the most powerful social institution on earth: marriage itself." From an All Things Considered report on April 17, 2012, part of a series on superdonors to superfunds. Background reading: Michael Warner, The Trouble With Normal.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ashley Judd, feminist theorist

Ashley Judd responds to media and popular obsession over her 'puffy' face, in The Daily Beast. Fantastic. Please read the whole thing.

Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.