July 2, 2011 § 1 Comment
In preparation for a delicious, animal-free dinner party I am to be throwing, I was leafing through the Babycakes cookbook (for those who don’t know, Babycakes is a rather excellent and slightly famous vegan bakery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side), and noticed this little blurb right in the middle of the cupcakes chapter:
You know her, you love her (me, too)!, and she needs no introduction…Ladies and gentlemen, the pride of PETA, Ms. Pamela Anderson!
A little-known fact: Animals especially appreciate being rescued by friends in white, French-cut bikinis as opposed to those in modest onesies (I don’t know why, they just do). And, of course, I’m happy to oblige – I’ve long been committed to sticking up for defenseless animals and the worldwide proliferation of sexy water-wear. But to successfully rock a shockingly shocking suit requires less chubby desserts. Thank all that is holy for Babycakes NYC and my new favorite indulgence: The sultry Healthy Hostess (aka Healthy Ho). In the wrong hands, Vegan fare can be tasteless, boring, and unattractive, but these are the greatest things since the California sunshine. When I bring the Ho’s around my boys and their buddies, they hover like undernourished pigeons, and with pals on set or at a fund-raiser it’s the same thing. In the end, I’m happy to pimp my Ho’s around town if it means chickens and cows remain unharmed and that people are made to realize that making delicious recipes doesn’t require the use of any animal products.
I’ll assume there’s no real need to explain the innuendo, but I must really point out and loudly shit on the encouragement of veganism as a weight-loss diet, a disturbingly widespread advertising trend that infuriates me largely because of how many young people really do use veganism as an excuse to hide their eating disorders. Here, Anderson appears to have been painted more as a billboard than an activist or even a real spokesperson. Comically shiny, cutesy, sexy, and glossy. That’s the image this text conjures up even without any pictures. Babycakes is, obviously, desperately trying to offset the traditionally feminine vibe of the pastel colors, cursive script, and pictures of ladies with brown curly hair in aprons with some unabashed appeal to the male gaze. And the mainstream vegetarian/animal rights movement nabs a spot in my list of “well-intentioned liberal-tinted movements that I despise” precisely because of this constant objectification of women, display of non-empowering sexuality, and obvious disregard for the dignity of over half the human population.
I’m sure many of us remember this intriguingly misguided bit of bullshit from a few years ago:
Ah, yes, the veg*n and vagina’d among us are all about the asparagus dildos.
Do vegetarians really have better sex? I don’t know! I’m sure there’s some sort of cause-and-effect snafu in play there. That’s kind of cool and interesting though, and I would really appreciate it if we lived in a society where we could introduce that sort of message to people’s minds without having to degrade women and enforce traditional notions of masculine sexuality to make it tolerable to the public.
It is true, PETA does sometimes put naked dudes in their ads.
Not good enough, though. Compare:
Both ads have de-clothed conventionally attractive people on them, giving the camera fuck-me eyes, with stupid captions sporting supposedly sexy puns that really don’t even make any sense. But the dude is facing the camera straight-on, with a sure, bold, dignified stare, in a powerful arms crossed position. The girl’s position is a lot more overtly sexualized, as if it were showing her off as a product.
Although, on one level, it baffles me why a lifestyle so seemingly compatible with feminism should become a platform for raging misogyny, it also really makes sense. On the other side of the dietary (but same side of the lady-hating) spectrum, we have those Swanson Hungry Man ads that question the masculinity (and mock the supposed femininity) of men who don’t eat lots and lots of frozen fried chicken from cardboard boxes:
There’s also that bogus but shockingly respected myth that a meat-free diet can lead to infertility in men, those jokes about Paul Rudd eating salad in that Jason Segal bromantic comedy, and the constant cultural equation of barbecue and burgers with good ol’ Uhmerrican manliness. Vegetarianism is undoubtedly feminized by US American society. I’m sure I could go off and write at least 80 more pages about why that is, but the point is that these infuriating kinds of animal rights people are so afraid of this feminization that they have to bolt the other way. Typically, traditionally “feminine” industries and/or products, such as anything related to fashion, cosmetics, etc, often feel the need to go out of their way to make their product appealing to men by making their ads real sexy and pouty. Whereas traditionally masculine things like beer, bacon, trucks, whatever, rarely ever feel the need to make their products appeal to whatever standard those advertising people mean when they say “women.” On top of the fact that these advertisers already operate within restrictive and constructed notions of gender, they add insult to injury by acting afraid of female attention, because if too many girls like it then it’s a girly thing and girls have cooties. The route of masculinization that organizations like PETA take is one that is so obvious, gross, over-the-top and upfront about its total disregard for women, the real benefits of an animal friendly diet seem like a secondary message. I don’t believe for a second that it is necessary to encourage sexism twice as much as vegetarianism to get people to listen.
I became a vegan because it’s a lifestyle about compassion, respect, and, to a certain degree, humility. The transition was an exercise in sacrificing personal desires for the sake of something bigger and more important, particularly challenging because I could not really see the results of my actions. But I feel like I’ve really accomplished something. I finally feel settled comfortably into my relatively new-found animal-free lifestyle (vegetarian for coming on 1 ½ years, vegan for about 4 months), and honestly, it makes me feel really, really fucking great. There are so many wonderful and obvious reasons to go veg*n for those who can physically and financially afford it. I also feel like my veganism and my feminism work in tandem, informing an important part of my identity and faithfully representing my principles and how I look at the world. However, the mainstream manifestation of the animal rights movement, in all of its cynicism and feminiphobia, pits animal rights against women’s dignity, ignoring the roots of its principles, not just succumbing to patriarchal influence, but actively supporting and encouraging it.
And Babycakes, because you ruined my morning, I will be serving homemade chocolate chunk coconut banana “ice cream” instead of your lovely looking peach cobbler.
September 28, 2010 § 9 Comments
I’ve heard people refer to the trend of woman wearing revealing Halloween costumes as “Slutoween.” I don’t particularly like this term, because I don’t like slut-shaming of any kind. However, both Victoria’s Secret, and Frederick’s of Hollywood seem to be promoting Racially-Insensitive O’Ween, which just plain fucked up.
On The VS website, you can purchase a variety of costumes under the “Sexy Little Fantasies” brand. These include Sexy Bride, Sexy Nurse, Sexy Flight Attendant, and Sexy Senorita:
Because being a stereotypical Latin American is an occupation, too. And it’s perfectly acceptable to co-opt and fetishize a growing population demographics clothing and culture.
One of VS’s rivals, Frederick’s of Hollywood, is guilty of this practice as well.
This “Three-Piece Shanghai Girl” getup is what would happen if someone took the 2 Live Crew song “Me So Horny,” and made it into a costume.
Frederick’s didn’t have an Asian model this outfit, and VS didn’t have a Latina model theirs. Frankly, this wouldn’t make these costumes any less racist, since they rely on fetishism and inaccurate stereotypes about Latin American and Asian women.
I’m also confused as to why VS and Frederick’s think that insulting and alienating their customer base is a good idea. Both companies rely on young woman for their business, and judging by the traffic these businesses get during any given weekend, their customer base is far from being exclusively white.
August 26, 2010 § 2 Comments
Via Gawker, I can’t believe this exists in 2010. Like, I know douches are still around, but are ads like this even a thing? Do we or do we not live in the twenty-first century?
Confidence at Work: How to Ask for a Raise
It should start with your usual routine and all the things you do to feel your best, including applying poison to your ladybits showering with Summer’s Eve Feminine Wash or periodically wiping your vulva with harsh chemicals throwing a packet of Summer’s Eve Feminine Cleansing Cloths into your bag for a quick freshness pick-me-up during the day.
Because when I’m in a tense situation with my boss or teacher, the biggest concern weighing on me is the smell of my vagina. Uh. Nope. Thanks to my friend Sarah for sending me the link. I LOLed at her commentary: “Did Don Draper write this?” I’d rather see Peggy’s copy.
August 8, 2010 § 7 Comments
Ick. Ack. EW.
I’ve seen this ad around New York City a few times this week, and it’s gross. (Copy for Pretzel Crisps ad reads: “You can never be too thin.”)
The beauty industry — which broadly includes fashion, makeup, skincare, exercise, dieting, and food products — is like a repulsive, amorphous, self-serving beast. Corporations teach women to hate ourselves so that we will buy their products to be improved, furiously stoking the fire of our self-loathing to fill their own pockets.
Here, Pretzel Crisps is using the meme that women shouldn’t eat or enjoy food…to sell food. It’s ridiculous, and it’s insulting on innumerable levels.
They are doing this to us, but we are complying. I often imagine what would happen if women stopped hating ourselves. If we all made a pact late one night, and the next morning, just refused to accept the ritual of femininity that we’ve all been brainwashed into performing. If I was never again tempted to pluck my eyebrows? Suck in my stomach? Mentally catalogue my meals? Spend even one second’s worth of brainpower thinking about panty lines? (Because what, really, is so scandalous about me wearing underwear??)
In some ways, nothing would happen. Contrary to the cultural narrative that stresses the divine importance of female “beauty,” the earth actually would not crumble if I quit this charade.
But in some ways, everything would change. We would finally appreciate our own inherent worth. Our confidence would shine, everlastingly radiant, bright enough to shatter the dark corners of isolation where we starve and hate ourselves. All I can do is try to remember that light, shine it on my insecurities and illuminate them for the false fears they are.
July 26, 2010 § 6 Comments
I keep seeing the trailer for Eat, Pray, Love on television. I also keep on seeing promotions for an upcoming Vanguard documentary on how overpopulation is causing a lack of sanitation in countries such as India. The Eat, Pray, Love trailer is giddy: Look at this businesswoman! She is burnt out at work! She can’t remember what she ate for lunch! She goes to Italy! India! and Bali! She eats carbs! She talks with her hands! She stops wearing pants! Ohh look– elephants! And cute naked guys! Come see this movie!
The teaser for the documentary is grim. The host throws up, and says that crossing a polluted river is “unbearable.”
As hard to watch as the Vanguard documentary looks, I’d rather watch that than Eat, Pray, Love. I haven’t read the book that the movie is based on, but the trailer turns me off in so many ways. It should be called First World Problems. As unhappy as Julia Roberts’ character seems, she’s pretty damn lucky to be working somewhere where she can just jet off for a year of soul searching in “exotic” locations. And of all of the problems that women face in the workplace (harassment, healthcare benefits, the glass ceiling), not remembering what lunch was is very far down on that list. I’m not saying that feeling burned out, overwhelmed, and not enjoying things like a good meal, or learning to meditate are petty things. But the whole “women goes on a journey to find herself” trope isn’t new. And is rather irritating, in my opinion.
As controversial as Slumdog Millionaire was (especially when it came to provisions made for the young Indian actors featured in the film), it unflinchingly showed the many Indians that live in poverty. According to the trailer, Roberts’ character finds meditation to be so hard, and gets to pet an elephant. Even Italy, a first-world country, has plenty of problems (many of which stem from Silvio Berlusconi being a complete douche canoe), and isn’t all pretty architecture, cute men, wine and OMFG CARBS.
I would find this story much more compelling if this woman’s quest for enlightenment didn’t use “exotic” third-world countries as a quaint backdrop. After all, for the millions who can’t take a year-long trip to find enlightenment, learning to enjoy food, find peace, and fall in love take place in wherever they live. And unfortunately, things like being able to make and enjoy a satisfying meal, or take time to meditate are not possible because they can’t afford/don’t have access to fresh foods and have to work around the clock to pay for basic bills.
Now, if I got to travel to Italy, India, and Bali, I would go, because travel can be an enjoyable experience. But I would also spend time trying to understand what living in those locations was really like, as much as I could. I had to watch the documentary Life and Debt during my freshman year of college, and it changed the way that I looked at tourism to “exotic” locations, because frequently, tourism is the only industry in countries that have been negatively affected by colonization, and crippling loan agreements made with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
People don’t like to think about millions of people unable to have access to toilets. This is why the Vanguard documentary is airing on a small cable channel, and Eat, Pray, Love is a big-budget movie. But I would be more willing to spend money on a movie that did feature travel to countries like India, if there was a greater reason to film there rather than a search for an “exotic” location, with “exotic” (aka not white) people wearing “exotic” clothing.
July 14, 2010 § 1 Comment
Do you know what ruined my morning? What filled me with a blinding, seething rage? What made me really really sad?
This movie poster right here. The one for the I Spit On Your Grave remake.
Now I was almost tempted not to link to it or write this post so as not to give this piece of shit more publicity, but I couldn’t. Not only is this poster heinous, exploitative bullshit, but it also perfectly personifies the serious problem of rape culture in America.
I did some research and the film is about the brutal gang rape of a young woman, who manages to survive. She then goes on to exact revenge on all of her torturers. It was first released in 1978 to much controversy. It was originally entitled Day of the Woman and released under the guise of a female empowerment film, though apparently the way in which she “empowered” herself after the half-hour long, brutal, leaving-nothing-to-the-imagination rape scene, was to track down her rapists, seduce them (excuses for the actress to be naked again), and then torture and kill them in gruesome ways.
The most empowering thing I’ve ever heard.
Let’s get this straight. Let’s lay it out one more time. Rape is not a sexual act. Rape is not sex. Rape is not about sexuality or attraction. Rape is rape. Rape is about humiliating, degrading, and removing all power from the victim. I don’t care how you want to spin it, Cinetel Films in association with Anchor Bay Films or anyone else involved in the creation of and marketing of this film. This poster is about sex. This poster is about her ass and her bare back. So what if there’s encrusted blood and bruises covering her upper thighs and back from her TRAUMATIC RAPE? Look at that body!
This is reprehensible. This is sick. This goes beyond blurring the line between rape and sex–it smashes them together into one thing for your (the general public’s) enjoyment.
And the worst part of this whole thing? Countless people will see this poster and not blink an eye. Because these types of images are normal in our culture. Hell, they’re expected.
March 9, 2010 § 2 Comments
… according to myriad sources, the MTA will display some 2,000 anti-abortion ads across the NYC subway system this month. Visuals of the massive ad campaign haven’t been released yet, but apparently they show either a woman saying “I thought life would be the way it was before” or a man saying “I often wonder if there was something I could have done to help her.”
Quoth Samantha Levine of the lovely NARAL-NY: “The campaign suggests that feelings of sadness and self-harm are the universal experiences for someone who had an abortion. And there’s no evidence to suggest that that’s true.”
From what I understand, the campaign is sponsored by the apalling “organization” Abortion Changes You. (Psst — abortion does change you! It makes you not pregnant anymore. Most people know that already; you probably didn’t need to go to all this trouble to get that message across.)
Can we talk about how much money this campaign costs? I don’t have the numbers, but I’m guessing the sponsors paid a pretty penny for 2,000 ads. Can you imagine what else they could have done with this money?
Pro-choicers know better than to spend our money on disrespectful and invasive ad campaigns. We don’t blow $2.5 million on a 30-second commercial. Instead, we donate to help low-income women pay for their abortion, to provide teenagers with real sex education, and to create progress for economically disadvantaged queer people.
If pro-lifers really gave a shit about women’s woes, they’d use this enormous sum to HELP WOMEN. They could provide healthcare to uninsured kids. They could pay the hospital bills of teen mothers. They could rally for sex education — you know, the kind that prevents unwanted pregnancies — in our schools. But truly, they couldn’t care less about our lives or well-being.
This campaign reveals what the pro-life sect is all about: demonizing women and demoralizing the choices we make about our own damn bodies.
January 1, 2010 § 4 Comments
I’ve seen some atrocious new ads pop on subway platforms, as part of a marketing campaign for Spike TV’s new television series Blue Mountain State. According to the network:
The football-themed series focuses on what it’s like being a freshman at national champion Blue Mountain State, but there’s much more to it than football… there’s also girls, partying, hazing and of course, class. “Blue Mountain State contains four key ingredients to being a guy…football, partying, women and hazing,” said Spike TV President Kevin Kay.
Hear that, dudes? Kevin Kay just told you everything you need to confirm your manlymanhood. So get on that.
The first ad is a gross display of the objectification and dehumanization of women and their bodies. Of course, the woman whose legs are featured is thin, white, and hairless. Anyone else repulsed by the idea that donning a varsity football helmet will automatically get you between girls’ legs?
The second ad — what can I say? It’s disgusting.
(I’d rather not hear any protests of, “Oh, the show is trying to call attention to damaging norms of masculinity! You’re so silly, you don’t understand their edgy humor!” Maybe that is what the producers are hoping the show will do. But using blatantly sexist advertising imagery doesn’t clue your audience in to that hope. Misogyny, in these ads and countless others, is not edgy; it’s all too common.)