Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Curmudgeon-mode

Things I ate on my 24th birthday:

  1. Pannekoek (Dutch crepe-like pancake) with apple, onion, and bacon, topped with weird/awesome Dutch syrup
  2. Whiskey gelato (!)
  3. Espresso chocolate
  4. Deep-fried tofu, cod with thai herbs with coconut rice, and pad thai

Aaand Alex bought me shoes. That was nice.

Other than that I’m pretty much in world-hatey mode.

I’m mad that I’m not more motivated. I’m mad that people can seriously be upset about a TV talent show that no one took seriously in the first place when they live at a country that is at war. I am mad when I see ads on the bus for a “pregnancy crisis centre.” I am mad when I read local bloggers dismissing the call for a higher minimum wage because 1) people who do menial work don’t “deserve” more and 2) it’s all teenagers flipping burgers, they don’t really need a living wage.1 I’m mad that I watched “The Search For The Next Pussycat Doll” the other night.2 I’m mad that I have this feeling that there’s nothing I can ever do to change anything.

1 Alex and I had a long conversation about how there could be other ways to make sure that the working poor get a living wage, like how in Europe there are various programs for guaranteed income subsidies, which accounts for how students living at home wouldn’t necessarily need to make $10/hour. There are nuanced and pragmatic ways to talk about a social safety net, but basically saying “people should suffer because that’s capitalism” makes me sad. When I hear people talk this way, I always think about this Pandagon post, which is what it took for it to click for me that poverty is a form of violence.

2 They are all THE SAME GIRL. I mean, one is tall, and one is short, and one has bangs, but these are their only distinguishing features.

In Defense of Top Model

So, I’m reading my feminist feeds, and I notice this post on the WIMN’s Voices blog about how America’s Next Top Model had a crazily misogynist photo shoot in which the girls all posed as murder victims in their underwear:

The “beautiful corpses” episode of Top Model (a series that traffics in bottom-feeder humiliation, objectification and degradation of women in the name of fashion, fun and beauty for the deep profit of integrated marketers such as Cover Girl and Seventeen magazine) serves as sharp reminder that what millions of reality TV viewers believe is harmless fluff… is anything but. ANTM is less a “guilty pleasure,” as TV Guide and infotainment shows have called it, than it is a cynical CW cashcow guilty of making product placers, and Tyra Banks, rich at the expense of not only the self-esteem of the few hungry (in every sense) young strivers appearing in the modeling competition, but of the millions of girls and women, boys and men, who watch the show uncritically, learning that unhealthily underweight, Brazilian-waxed waifs can only achieve the ultimate in beauty when they appear to be erotically, provocatively maimed and murdered (as they were this week), self-abusive (as when models were made to pose as bulimics mid-purge last season*), corpses (as they were during a prior season when the challenge involved posing in caskets lowered into open graves in a cemetery).

I kind of disagree, and when I say kind of, I mean not necessarily with her characterization of the show, which is pretty true, but that that’s all that’s going on with ANTM. (Actually, I think the first photoshoot this year, in which the girls were all tarted up to portray political viewpoints like “Pro-gay marriage,” and “pro-straight marriage,” or “vegan” and “pro-meat,” or “pro-death penalty” and “pro-life in prison” did a way bigger disservice to women, but I guess you could also just call that camp.)

I’m not going to pretend that the show (or the fashion industry) is in any way not misogynist, but how many people do you think watch the show “uncritically”? I mean, maybe I’m giving people too much credit, obviously they get tons of girls who try out every year. But I think the majority of viewers watch it with some level of irony-meter turned on.

This isn’t to say that it’s in any way helping the world with its standards of beauty, but I generally lean toward seeing ANTM in particular as sending mixed messages. Just because something is a corporate product cynically produced to make a bunch of money for Tyra Banks and her production company doesn’t mean it can’t also Trojan-horse in some contradictory messages.

Its many flaws are (for me) at least somewhat mitigated by the way it shows how constructed and fake the images of women put out there by the fashion industry are. Instead of pretending that models are somehow naturally that thin or that nonchalant or that they wake up all made up like that, the show emphasizes the work of modeling, and how the poses that “look good” in the fashion world are, for the actual models, totally uncomfortable and unnatural. So far this hasn’t really sparked a fashion revolution, but I think emphasizing the constructedness of conventional beauty — through make-up, weaves, unnatural body positions, etc — is actually pretty interesting and could be positive, in a “gradual shifting of perspective” kind of way.

I don’t think that actually is in any way a defense for the weirdly straight-faced way they treated the whole “violent death” photo shoot (and it was beyond awful to make the girl who was mourning the very recent death of a friend to play a corpse). Usually I am the first person to be like “hear, hear, feminist criticism of pop culture!” Maybe I’m just feeling defensive because I watched the show and it didn’t gross me out, especially not to “letter writing” proportions. It’s not that it wasn’t bad, it just didn’t occur to me that it was appreciably worse than anything else they do on the show; I’m inclined to think that literalizing that fashion=lifeless women could have been fascinating/hilarious, if it had been handled less creepily by the judges, or taken to a campier extreme.

*It was actually only one girl. And given that she was eating cake, it was more “mid-binge.” The rest of them posed as other goofy “modeling industry stereotypes,” like “girl with a tiny annoying dog.” I’m not defending it, I’m just saying.

Medicated

Thing 1: I am sick. I am not really sick enough to get out of doing stuff, and this is kind of a slack week because my profs are SCMS-ing, but I had a bunch of stuff I wanted to catch up on this week, as opposed to catching up on forming opinions about American Idol contestants.

Thing 2: I missed marking International Women’s Day yesterday, except by reading about the prevalence of rape in the US military, including the story of one woman, who was jailed for desertion after her complaints that she was raped by her superior officer fell on deaf ears. Also, Rach pointed me to this Feministe post, about a creepy law school message board that sexually harassed Jill and a bunch of other women. Ooh, and let’s not forget about Feminist Icon McG’s stance that the Pussycat Dolls represent “third-wave feminism.” Meanwhile, Canada has fewer elected women representatives than Rwanda and Afghanistan. (PS Remember how when Belinda Stronach switched parties, at least one prominent conservative man called her a whore?) I hate the world.

‘Tis the season, Marge!

I can’t believe it’s still snowy here. I hope school doesn’t get cancelled tomorrow, it’s the last day for me to do TA evaluations with my students. I have numerical points, they get less relevant as they go on.

1) Thanks, Stephen Harper. This is so dumb. For one, it already passed. For two, the Supreme Court already said that unequal marriage laws are unconstitutional. For three, even if it would fail in a “free vote,” the reason we have a constitution is to protect minority rights. Sigh.

2) Snow makes me totally want to bake; I still have a while (and a lot of essays) before Christmas baking season starts in earnest, but my muffins puffed up much better this time. Reasons: I bought new baking powder and also, I mixed even less thoroughly. My winter baking plans include Nigella’s savoury blue cheese cooking, maybe trying to find some kind of mint chocolate brownies, and I want to try out eggnog muffins. (I may try that well before. Also, it would give me the excuse to buy eggnog. I’m like Homer Simpson: “We only get thirty sweet noggy days. Then the government takes it away again.” I will totally pour eggnog on my cereal.

3) The Fame kids are snowed in. This was totally a Baby-Sitter’s Club Super Special (it hasn’t been recapped yet at BSC Headquarters. (Those were the extra-long ones with chapters narrated by alternating girls, as opposed to the normal ones, which were from the perspective of one particular sitter.) Jessi was even stuck at her dance school! I bet Ann M. Martin watched Fame, even if she cut out the teen pregnancy storyline.

UPDATE: 4) Ugh, it’s Lucille Ball day on TCM. Lucy’s not really in any movies that are considered “classic,” except maybe Stage Door, in which she’s a pretty minor character and it is awesome because of Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn and, to a lesser degree, Eve Arden. According to the website, it’s actually Lucille Ball Month. Come on TCM, you can do better than that. I could do better than that. I would be an awesome classic film network programmer.

And they be lining up the block just to watch what I got

Seriously, who’s like, “let’s take 30 schoolchildren on the express bus to the University campus at nine am on a Friday. Then, when the bus was all full, they acted all shocked? More disturbing still: a bunch of little, like ten-year-old girls singing “Fergalicious.” As much as I complain about the rain, that’s what I call depressing.

Not as depressing as this (speaking of women in power, it’s Dennis Miller making fun of Nancy Pelosi on Fox News), though. What happened to you, Dennis Miller? You used to be cool. I used to wach your show. You also used to occasionally back up your “commentary” with substance. It’s not like there isn’t valid stuff to insult there; you just had to make fun of her suits.

You don’t own the situation

Yesterday, to celebrate the US Democratic victory and the feminist triumph of the first female speaker of the house, I stayed home, did dishes, and made muffins.

I made pumpkin muffins, which turned out tasting like pumpkin pie in muffin form, but sadly texturally wanting. I apparently overmixed, even though I was careful to just mix until all the flour was incorporated; pumpkin muffins are tricky because there’s so much liquid. I guess I should have left them lumpier? As it stands, they turned out all dense and tunnel-y. I have two batches’ worth of canned pumpkin left, and I’m going to get them right if it kills me.

Sad muffins

I’m usually so good with the baked goods.

Incidentally, even though I don’t particularly like Nancy Pelosi (who’ s mentioned the middle class in like, every speech), I think it’s a pretty sweet that a president who’s been as sexist as Bush has (woo traditional marriage) is now being thrust into the twenty-first century and will have to work with a woman who disagrees with him.

I was trying to think of Canadian women with similar amounts of power, and I was coming up pretty short. Kim Campbell, who was PM for less than five months. Sheila Copps, who was subject to lots of gross sexist remarks, and was Deputy Prime Minister under Chretien, not that that position really means much, because the party in power would elect a new leader if anything happened to the old one anyway, and judging from how handily Martin beat her when she did run, it wouldn’t have been her. PEI and the Northwest Territories have had female premiers, but their populations, together, make up less than a tenth of Greater Vancouver’s. Currently, out of 27 members, I counted three women in Harper’s cabinet. Granted, Harper’s a jackass, but seriously, that that is seen as acceptable at all is a pretty sad thing. For a country that’s supposed to be more progressive than the US, we don’t have a lot to brag about.

Fun fact: I didn’t have a politics category before right now, which is weird, because I feel like I’ve posted about politics before. I promise I won’t abuse it.

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