More Things That Aren’t News

August 5, 2010 § 4 Comments

(Trigger warning for transphobia.)

by KATIE E.

Seth Macfarlane epicly fails.

“…a recent episode titled “Quagmire’s Dad” shocked some of “Family Guy’s” gay fans with a storyline about the title character having to accept his military father’s feminine manerisms. Quagmire’s father explains to him that he’s not gay, but is a “woman trapped in a man’s body” and is going to have a sex change. The show’s main family characters show virtually no sympathy for their neighbor, referring to the newly out “Ida” as “odd” and a “he-she” who is having her penis “lopped off.” At a post-surgery dinner, they invite Ida and Quagmire to come over, but throw out a dessert that she contributes. That’s followed with lots of rude comments about gender reassignment surgery. Quagmire and Ida have a falling out, and Ida leaves to go to a bar. There she meets the family’s male dog, Brian. They talk, then kiss (and assumably have sex). But when the family finds out Brian has fallen for Ida, they laugh at him. Once Brian connects Ida to Quagmire, he engages in a 40-second vomiting gag. Later, Brian is seen panting and washing desperately. In the meantime, Quagmire reconnects with Ida. But when she tells him about Brian, Quagmire rushes next door to beat the dog to a pulp.”

And his comment:

”[The unhappy reaction to our transgender character] surprised me. I don’t meet a lot of stupid homosexuals. They seem to be a pretty smart bunch. But it seemed that they were not picking up on the fact that it was a very sympathetic portrayal of a transsexual character….  Look, Brian happens to be a heterosexual character, as I am. If I found out that I had slept with a transsexual, I might throw up in the same way that a gay guy looks at a vagina and goes, ‘Oh, my God, that’s disgusting.”’

Isn’t Seth Macfarlane just that wonderful LGBT ally he always says he is? Afterall, sensitive portrayals of trans* people always need to include misgendering, othering, and cliched I-just-did-it-with-a-transwoman panic.

The biggest fail here has to come in his surprise. Really, Seth, you’re SURPRISED that “stupid homosexuals” were not pleased with your “sypathetic” portrayal of a transwoman? You’re surprised that promoting the trans panic scenario that routinely gets trans people killed didn’t bring in the lulz? You felt it was okay to attribute all the outrage to “homosexuals,” and not bother to even give trans* people a voice?

 I am so sick of white, straight, cis men thinking they know everything about oppressed people. Especially someone like Seth Macfarlane, who already has millions of fans (why, I’ll never know), giving him even more power. Soon enough, his privileged fans will start parroting this, and the vicious cycle of transphobia and lesbo/bi/homophobia will continue. People living in ignorance of privilege will continue to try to tell us that words can’t hurt us, but it’s words like these that create a culture in which trans* people fear for their lives daily.

Very Quick Congrats

August 3, 2010 § 4 Comments

by KATIE E.

Before all the gender-policing, right-wing radio tangents, conspiracy theories, OMG WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDRENZ!!11!!, and plain old transphobia start to crop up, I would like to offer my  congratulations to Thomas Beatie and his wife on the birth of their third child, and my sincere condolences for all of the crap they get to hear, again. That is all.

Roman Polanski: Still a rapist

July 27, 2010 § 4 Comments

by MIRANDA

Yep, still.

Another woman, Edith Vogelhut, has come forward with allegations that Roman Polanski raped her. (The video interview and transcribed quotes are worth a look, albeit with an enormous trigger warning. The acts described are, obviously, vile.) She says the rape occured in 1974, three years before the rape of Samantha Geimer, to which Polanski admitted responsibility and for which he was convicted. And for which, if you’ll recall, he spent approximately zero seconds in prison. Vogelhut is the third woman to come forward, after Geimer and Charlotte Lewis.

Anyone want to wager how many asshat “artists” have already taken it upon themselves to defend Polanski on the grounds that his films are totes awesome? Or take a gander at just how much “justice” will be served, this time around?

Fuck.

As I wrote recently (in a comment on C. L. Minou’s excellent response to the Swiss government’s refusal to extradite Polanski to the United States): This Polanski shit continues to BLOW MY FUCKING MIND, and also not, because I guess I should know by now that basically the whole world thinks rape is okay.

Beyond Lindsay Lohan

July 21, 2010 § 4 Comments

by SILVIA

Right now Lindsay Lohan’s incarceration is all over the news. While most media outlets are obsessed with how much time Lindsay will be serving, it’s super important to remember the staggering and disturbing statistics of women in prison.

The following statistics are quoted directly from Women’s Prison Association’s Quick Facts Women and Criminal Justice — 2009. For more information, visit their website.

  • Over 200,000 women are in prison and jail in the United States, and more than one million women are under criminal justice supervision.
  • Two-thirds of women in prison are there for non-violent offenses, many for drug-related crimes.
  • Nearly two-thirds of women in prison are mothers.
  • 93 out of every 100,000 white women were incarcerated at midyear 2008. During the same time period, 349 out of every 100,000 black women and 147 out of every 100,000 Hispanic women were incarcerated.

According to Amnesty International’s Women and Prison: Fact Sheet, women in prison often experience sexual assault and misconduct due to the extreme power imbalance between officers and inmates, including guards’ ability to withhold privileges. In addition, women in prison experience medical neglect, including shackling during pregnancy, as well as severe discrimination based on gender, race and sexual orientation. For more information about women in prison and other issues of women’s human rights, go to Amnesty’s site.

Ode to Reginka

June 21, 2010 § 2 Comments

Image: Regina Spektor, smiling broadly.

Friends: Regina Spektor! She is just so delightful! And her music is like when you wake up slicked in sweat on a hot summer morning in your stuffy, un-air-conditioned, fourth floor walk-up apartment and open the window and a cold rush of breeze floods in and you feel alive again. Also, she played a benefit concert for Planned Parenthood. Hearts.

Regina’s music is weird. Seriously, it is strange. She is well-known for her odd and original sound play; she often exaggerates her glottal stop, slurs her words, and switches rapidly between a near-whisper and loudly belted notes. This matters because, as has been said about Lady Gaga, I think a woman’s willingness to be strange — and shamelessly so — is a profoundly feminist act in a culture that prefers its ladies to act like robots.

I also have a feminist (and aesthetic) appreciation for Regina’s musical whimsy. Her work has a strong trend of poking fun at sex, love, and gendered interactions. Below, a selection and explanation of my favorite Spektor lyrics.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Calling All Crows

May 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

My friend (and frequent commenter) Dava passed along this awesome music video, a promotion for the human rights organization Calling All Crows.

The organization was founded by Chad Stokes Urmston, a musician, and Sybil Gallagher, a tour manager, as a social action and advocacy project of the Boston-based band State Radio. Urmston previously earned a place in my heart for his contributions to Dispatch, a delightful and experimental folk rock band that produced one of my favorite songs of all time. His latest venture with his current band is absolutely inspiring:

During their sold out, 25-city tour this past February, the band performed service projects in every town they visited, from serving lunch at a homeless shelter in Houston to building a community garden at an inner city elementary school in Washington, D.C. Calling All Crows…is committed to continuing the group’s socio-political dialogue once the music ends and the lights come up. In less than a year, State Radio and their fans have amassed over 1,800 hours of community service through projects that have local, national, and global impact.

The group sent their “good friend and Knights of Bostonia director Andrew Mudge to South Africa, India, Brazil and lastly, New York City to capture the power and perseverance of women around the globe.”

The music video really is wonderful. I love the overall visual style and, in particular, the dancing bit at the end. Check it out:

Rape Apologists, Celebrity Edition

May 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

You may be a great filmmaker Woody Allen, but you are also a rape apologist.

Bummer.

More Thoughts on Christina Hendricks

March 17, 2010 § 2 Comments

(She’s still on my mind from earlier this week…)

Here are some things that I love about Christina Hendricks: She is a razor-sharp actress; her character Joan is deliciously complex, a tangle of contradictions, the kind of woman you’d be terrified of but simultaneously want to be. She is very beautiful. She knows what’s what about rape; here are her comments on Joan’s rape by her fiance:

“What’s astounding is when people say things like, ‘Well, you know that episode where Joan sort of got raped?’ Or they say rape and use quotation marks with their fingers,” says Hendricks. “I’m like, ‘What is that you are doing? Joan got raped!’ It illustrates how similar people are today, because we’re still questioning whether it’s a rape. It’s almost like, ‘Why didn’t you just say bad date?’ ”

I absolutely love this. It is wonderful that actors are allowed to talk about rape in their interviews, allowed to condemn it, and that such comments go to print without an editor’s fear of “ruining the mood” of the piece.

Here are some things that I dislike, not about Christina, but about the way she’s talked about: Every fucking article in every fucking publication harps on her body. For example, this above-quoted, perfectly normal, perfectly informative New York Magazine article: Dangerous Curves. Even this article — again from NY Mag — all about Christina’s annoyance over all the body talk, is titled Woman of the Hourglass.

Other articles, while not explicitly and entirely about Christina’s body, are peppered with such references. See: “Mad Men star Christina Hendricks is the sexiest woman on TV today—and with her hourglass curves, she’s changing Hollywood’s skewed views of females. Meet the whip-smart, funny (and, yes, va-va-voom) charmer who’s a throwback to the days of Marilyn Monroe.” Or: “Christina, on the set of the award-winning Mad Men, proves her character, Joan Holloway, is the curvy queen bee of the office secretarial pool.”

Paraphrase: “Christina Hendricks is a lady who is an actress and who we think is smokin’ hot and SHE HAS CURVES. HER BODY IS CURVY. LOOK AT HER BOOBS. CHECK OUT THEM HIPS. CURVY CURVY BRAVE CURVY LADY.”

This obsession is outrageously demeaning. It suggests that her talent as an actor is corollary to — or validated by — the shape of her body. Women are more than a collection of body parts, on display for consumption.

For her part, though, Christina isn’t turning a blind eye to this insulting chatter: “It kind of hurt my feelings at first. Anytime someone talks about your figure constantly, you get nervous, you get really self-conscious. I was working my butt off on the show, and then all anyone was talking about was my body!”

It’s game time!

March 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

Let’s play: which one of these is not like the other?

Is it a) the actor Christina Hendricks?

b) Joan Holloway, the character she portrays on Mad Men?

or c) the new Joan Holloway Barbie doll?

Yep, you guessed it! It’s the Barbie doll, whose body is shockingly and deceptively thin when compared to the character’s actual frame.

What’s even more egregious than this body denial is the fact that the dolls are being touted as exceptionally realistic. From the Times:

“The dolls, we feel, do a great job of embodying the series,” said Stephanie Cota, senior vice president for Barbie marketing at Mattel in El Segundo, Calif. “Certain things are appropriate, and certain things aren’t.”

Like making the dolls look like the characters?!

…“Anybody who likes the show for its attention to detail will get that from the dolls,” he added, which earned approval from him; Janie Bryant, the costume designer for “Mad Men”; and Scott Hornbacher, an executive producer.

As an example of their scrutiny, Mr. Weiner said he told Mattel that the sideburns on the Don Draper doll needed “to be higher” and the haircut needed “to be tighter.”

So the producer noticed the Don doll’s wee sideburns, but not the glaring and obvious mistake of whittling down Joan’s body?

Yikes. That’s some “attention to detail.”

Quotable Gabby

March 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

Cherry on top of the ice cream sundae that is all the things I love about Gabby Sidibe…

“If fashion were porn, this dress would be the money shot.”Oscar nominee and beautiful person Gabourey Sidibe

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