The Paradigm Your Paradigm Could Be Subverted Like

I… I just really wanted to use that subject. Forgive me, internets, for I have sinned.

The other night, as I was waiting for my delicious vegan bagel pizza to bake (you guys have no idea how delicious this is; I am eating one for lunch at this very second and my mouth is having spasms of happiness), I stumbled upon the Old Spice Twitter account and the real-time marketing campaign they’ve been doing with the guy in the shower in the towel (mmm, abs) responding to people’s tweets and facebook posts. Some of them are seriously hilarious (when he responds to Anonymous? Guys, I love it!).

I kind of love these Old Spice commercials because there’s a lot of mockery of the “manliness” ideal, a lot of tongue-in-cheek silliness, and overt mockery of the Axe commercials (which mostly make me want to stab myself or someone else). I find them to be pleasantly self-aware, plus I always encourage the shameless objectification of men–since the objectification of women is never going to go away, let’s at least level the playing field! I enjoy the idea of applying the “sex sells” concept to male bodies as well; it concedes that women have libidos and can also enjoy sexuality on a purely physical level.

Since the first “the man your man could smell like” commercial came out, there have been tons of parodies circulating around. I think this has to be my favorite, though, and since I currently have exciting and glamorous plans for this weekend of doing a lot of homework and studying, it rang a bit true:

Lovely.

I love geek culture adjustment. We are legion!

Happy weekend, all. I’m absurdly burnt out from a weekend that had suck that went up to 11. Here’s hoping for a great weekend and a better week next week! Maybe I’ll even catch up on my poor overloaded Google Reader.

07/16/2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

There is so much stuff on the internet!

It’s been quite a week. There was a holiday (I spent it mostly in bed), there was a busy day at work, and then there was a day where the network was down basically all day. Now we’re here. To say that I’ve missed a lot in my Google reader would be a huge understatement. To say that there’s a lot that I want to blog about, but really don’t have the time or energy right now would also be a huge understatement. So here’s some stuff that I think merits looking at:

It was Secretary’s Day. (no, I don’t give a fuck about being PC. “Administrative professionals,” my ass!) SocImages has a great write-up on why this is basically bullshit. Pro-tip: you know what us secretaries like better than flowers once a year and being told how very special and important and valuable we are? A living wage. Yeah. Hallmark cards don’t make up for that, guys.

BikeSnob (one of my newest internet crushes) talks about sharing the road and the Cyclist Essentialist Conundrum: in short, check it out! There’s a bunch of us out there that ride bikes as our primary method of transportation (or even just as a hobby sometimes). We also do lots of other things. Some of these things might include owning a car. Let’s stop essentializing cyclists. Just because you have a 4,000 lb 800hp Death Ramming Machine doesn’t mean you’re always right. Just because we are riding bikes which means we are sexy (or maybe just an obnoxious hipster) doesn’t mean we’re always right. But dang guys, your cars are really big and hurt a lot, so could you like dial back the rage for just a second?

I totally missed Equal Pay Day, which is funny, because I was mostly worrying about how I’m ever going to continue supporting myself and paying my bills. Man, if we could close the pay gap, I’d be able to cover the difference between my annual grad school tuition and my scholarship.

Dating is still totally weird. Although reading this brief sampling from a pick-up artist message board totally clarifies for me what the crap has been going on in the past when I’ve tried to NOT date. Pro-tip: when I tell you to fuck off and die in a fire, I’m not playing hard to get.

Don’t get me wrong, I do a killer When Harry Met Sally-style fake orgasm (I really, really like sushi), but I’ve only ever faked when the spark was going out of the relationship and I was just not interested in working at it anymore. I guess this just goes to show that I am not a caring girlfriend. Thanks, science! I always knew I was a jerk, but it’s nice to have your backing.

Speaking of sex, MY VAGINA IS TIGHT ENOUGH ALREADY, GODDAMMIT. I mean, if I could get my hair elastics to do Kegels so that I wouldn’t have to keep buying new elastics cause the old ones are all stretched out, you guys, I would so do it. I hate it when my elastics get all stretched out. But my vagina… she is not a hair scrunchy. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: these products are WEIRD.

Anyways, it’s the end of the semester, so I’ve been working my ass off on school work. I’ve written a doozy of a lesson plan (I think) for Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, which includes one of my favorite accidental feminist heroines, Lady Brett Ashley. We’ll see if I write about that or not. I’m writing a research proposal on utilizing creative writing in high school classrooms, and I may or may not talk about that. I might talk about biking. I might talk about sex.

You know what is so exciting about reading my blog, you guys? YOU NEVER KNOW. I might just post a recipe for brownies. Excitement and living on the edge, that is what I like to provide to you.

04/22/2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

A Brief Note

I really enjoy fashion, particularly from the standpoint of making my own. However, there are things I can’t make myself–shoes, purses, etc. Some things, like leggings, are easier and sometimes even cheaper to just buy.

But COME THE FUCK ON, people! Who the hell is writing your advertising copy?

The next time I have to read about the buckle on a purse being “sassy,” I will snap.

The buckle is sassy? Really? I find that hard to believe.

How is the trim on that pair of shoes sassy?

Why is sassy the new favorite word of fashion marketing?

I want to buy a plucky purse. Or perhaps anti-authoritarian shoes. Or shit-kicking leggings.

Truly, I have long hated the word “sassy,” and applying it to inanimate objects (or not even the objects themselves, but objects affixed to said objects) is just downright ridiculous and infuriating.

In other news, I would like men to start wearing sassy jeans or perhaps sassy neckties. Seriously. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? Yes.

04/08/2010. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

On Being A Pretty Pretty Princess

Urban camouflage, or drinking the Kool-Aid?

When I got out of the shower this morning, I lathered myself with moisturizer to combat razor burn, tweezed my eyebrows, assaulted any skin imperfections with concealer, applied eyeliner and mascara, blow-dried and styled my hair (which I had given a fresh dye job the night before), and slicked on lipstick. I shimmied my way into a fitted pair of suit pants and a low cut blouse; before leaving, I debated which hat was least likely to give me hat hair but still protect me from the rain.

Good morning, feminism, I’m so glad you could drag yourself out of bed in time to convince me to wear boots instead of pumps. I guess I’ll take what I can get.

Quite fittingly, one of the first things to pop up in my Google Reader this morning was Susan Douglas’ article at Alternet on Enlightened Sexism, captioned with “Enlightened sexism tells women that they gain “true power” through the calculated deployment of their faces, bodies, attire and sexuality.”

It’s a great article. Douglas writes clearly and eloquently, and she certainly doesn’t hesitate to point out exactly where we’re drinking the Kool-Aid and buying into things just a little too much. She contrasts the images we’re fed by the media, versus the reality of the situation (her excellent citations of the continued wage gap relate beautifully to a very interesting post from last week at Sociological Images, where they observed the difference between starting salaries of college graduates based on gender), and she does a great job of demonstrating what makes us buy into these ideas. Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the article is when she discusses how intelligent women are buying into these stereotypes “ironically,” and how that’s still just as detrimental–just in a different way. Overall, it’s one hell of a read.

As my above outlined morning ritual demonstrates (well, aside from my guzzling of coffee and singing of Le Tigre songs to my cat), I’m probably guilty of buying into it. I don’t like to think of myself as using my appearance to get ahead in life–

–and I’m going to jump into a new paragraph now. As I wrote that sentence, I kept instinctively including a snarky remark about how I really hope I haven’t been using my appearance to get what I’ve got in life, because if being a depressed administrative assistant who lives in a leaky apartment and has a love life that resembles Dresden after the bombing is the best I can do… Well shit, there I go buying into the whole thing. The fact that I even felt the need to qualify that my looks could do better for me indicates how far I have to go. Also, why am I okay with accepting that my hard work and personality haven’t gotten me as far as I think my sexuality could?

I was in middle school when the Spice Girls were a big thing with their “Girl Power” movement and sparkly, revealing gets up (and later, in high school, my girlfriends and I would drive around singing along to our old Spice Girls CDs–ironically, of course). Did I internalize that? Or did I take in the reverse psychology of the branding of feminism by mainstream culture as being ugly, hairy, man-hating women? I’ve always felt a certain sense of satisfaction in my ability to metaphorically “stop traffic” even when wearing a hot pink “this is what a feminist looks like” tee shirt (do they think I’m wearing it ironically?). I like challenging the expectations of how the majority of the population seems feminism. I’m not an unshaven fat woman who doesn’t use deodorant and wears men’s clothing; I’m trim, groomed, perfumed, and have been known to drop $50 at Sephora in a go.

…Wait, having a $50 charge on my credit card for makeup is liberation? Hmm. I call shenanigans.

I always use the excuse of “urban camouflage.” Since I’m not a stereotype, people are taken off guard and are more likely to listen to me. But how much of that is just that men will tolerate pretty women for ulterior motives? How much of that is just that since I conform to norms, how much of a threat could I possibly be perceived to be? It’s true that if you don’t show up on the radar, you can get away with a lot because people won’t look twice at you. What’s the trade-off here, though? What am I giving up? Am I gaining much?

I don’t have answers here, and I’d be lying if I tried to claim that I’m going to stop wearing makeup and not worry about how my pants fit and all that. However, keeping in the forefront of my mind why I’m doing these things and remembering that wearing heels isn’t a feminist victory is at least a start. I wish I had more feminists in my everyday life to open a dialog on this with, but alas, I am left babbling into the void of the intarwebs (Hello-o-o-o! Echo-o-o-o!). It seems like the more I grow up, both as an individual and a feminist, the less anything seems cut and dry anymore. Outside of straightforward issues like rape and domestic violence (pro-tip: they’re bad), I feel like I never have a black and white solution to anything. My everyday life is a constant exercise in compromise and reconciliation.

How does one balance the scales? And more importantly, at what point do we start holding ourselves accountable? How much responsibility do I have to the younger people around me to set an example and not teach “do as I say, not as I do?” As I move ever closer to being a classroom teacher, can I reasonably call myself a role model? What sort of community activism can I engage in that doesn’t leave me feeling like a hypocrite, and how do I work toward not being one?

Douglas’ article is, suffice it to say, an interesting and challenging one. While I don’t feel that she is necessarily breaking enormously new ground–a lot of this is stuff I already knew–she presents her case cogently and powerfully and lays everything out so that one can process it and consider it. I know I’ll be considering and processing for a while.

03/01/2010. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Booze has a gender, didn’t you know?

We’ve all heard–and probably even used–the derogatory slang of “girlie drinks” to refer to anything that is not all that alcoholic, or very sweet, or fruity, or whatever.

I’m a pretty big fan of locally owned businesses and I’m particularly fond of DownTown Wine and Spirits in Somerville. They recently came out with what I thought was a cute and funny idea–a brown paper bag full of nips, for a low price. They’re calling it the “Bag O’ Nips” and they’ve been pretty entertaining with their publicity for it.

Today, however, they revealed that they would be selling a MEN’S Bag O’ Nips and a WOMEN’S Bag O’ Nips. When they alluded to the fact that such a thing was in the works, they said that men’s bags would contain whiskey whereas women’s bags would most likely contain Midori. So, it was obvious where this was going. Then they announced the lineups:

As we’ve told you, our Bag O’ Nips come in both a Mens and Womens variety. Here’s what’s in the Mens bag this week: Fighting Cock (naturally), Seagrams, Harlem, Herradura, Jack, Jager

As this was on their facebook feed, a few women pointed out that they didn’t like this being gendered and that really, women might like those alcohols too. So this was their rebuttal when they posted the women’s bag contents:

And here’s the Ladies Bag O’ Nips lineup: Parrot bay, Van Gogh Chocolate, Segrams, Honey, Pocket Shot of Gin, Cuervo Silver And yes, you are welcome to take offense at what we project as nips enjoyed by the ladies….and no, we don’t really care that much

What happened to liberal Davis Square?

I’m really, really disappointed. It’s stupid little shit like this–both the gendering of the bags and then their flippant disregard for what people had to say about it–that can get so frustrating. It’s when thing when I see idiocy on TV. It’s another thing to see it right here in front of me, in my community, by people who seemed otherwise so cool.

Ultimately, there’s so many liquor stores in Boston. In a way, they did me a favor by crossing themselves off my list.

02/26/2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

You Got Me So Crazy In Love

Here’s the thing: there’s eight bajillion reasons to be angry after the Superbowl. Feminism aside, it’s a pretty stupid concept on its own. When I tell people that I didn’t watch the game, they are aghast. Sometimes because they can’t understand my disinterest in football, but the overwhelming source of aghastness is rooted in the fact that I can somehow continue through life without watching the commercials. Are we really at such a consumption-centric place in our culture that we should dedicate hours of our lives to watching commercials as a feature? (Obviously yes, based on what each minute airtime block sells for.) And then, consumerism aside and feminism back in the spotlight, as I understand it, the commercials are almost always disgustingly misogynistic and unenjoyable. So, honestly, while I understand the whole “know your enemy” thing, I just can’t bring myself to be one more drone in the ratings surge for something that I find so wholly unappealing. Instead, I played boardgames and ate cupcakes. It worked out for me. (And yes, I do consider electing to ignore the Superbowl and the related kerfuffle to fall under the “everyday acts of feminism” category that I’ve mentioned before; sometimes not even being involved at all can count as rebellion in my mind.)

The nice thing, though, is that the Saints won. I still don’t actually know the rules of football, so my enthusiasm for the Saints is based around one and only one thing: linebacker Scott Fujita. Just as soon as I can figure out a feminist alternative to throwing my panties at him and offering to have his babies, I’ll be up on that. I’ve sang the praises of feminist men before, and although Fujita doesn’t declare himself feminist, I’m putting him in that camp because he is flagrantly awesome. (Besides, as an education student myself, I’m swooning about his ed degree and plans to teach.) The fact that he has brought politics into football–a field that is notorious for its violence, homophobia, sexism, etc–and is trying to find opportunities to speak up for his beliefs… That’s just great.

So, as if I wasn’t already in such a glorious mood, I saw the most wonderful bit of graffiti while walking home through Allston tonight:

Allston Graffiti!

It’s crappy cameraphone photography, and for that I apologize. But there’s something wonderful about seeing that someone has scrawled “fuck objectification. fuck this business of using female bodies to sell shit” on an American Apparel ad.

Sure, it’d be nice if American Apparel ads didn’t exist. But seeing graffiti like that is heartening–other people are angry. I’m not alone. Rock on, Allston street artist!

02/08/2010. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Oh, for personal grooming habits to be personal!

Seriously, boys, nothing makes me want to cement granny panties over my naughty bits like this kind of advertising:

Is it a Katy Perry music video? Is it a throwback to the 1950s? Is it the newest weapon from Satan, sent to encourage women to kill themselves? Is it all of the above?

Kill it with fire, please.

04/03/2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

I think I’m a stegosaurus.

I just can’t get over this great article on Jezebel (via Feministing) on “dressing for your shape.”

Dressing for your shape has always struck me as a little bit silly in that, as Hortense points out in her article, people don’t fall into just one shape category. I guess if I were going to be a specific shape, I’d be “boyish”–but that’s just because I’m a little skinny and a lot flat-chested, and what with not having giant knockers, I’m basically a boy. The funny thing is that I always thought it was my ovaries (and other such hardware) that made me a female, not my cup size. Then again, few people will ever have personal contact with my womanly hardware, so I guess I can’t fault them for considering me basically a man without concrete evidence to the contrary.

No, wait, I can. I definitely can.

Hortense sums it up beautifully:

Also, as someone who generally falls into the “oh, dear, puberty forgot to deliver your boobs” category, I think it would be nice if fashion magazines could stop referring to thin women without many curves as “boyish.” Femininity comes in many shapes and sizes, thanks, and Glamour’s advice only reinforces the fact that they feel that flat-chested women need to blow up their bust lines to achieve sexiness: “Don’t have voluptuous curves? Fake ‘em!” Ah yes, because nothing makes me feel more confident than putting in my fake temporary boobs in order to wear a dress.

So we shouldn’t be propping up Victoria’s Secret and our local boob job surgeon during this burgeoning recession? Huh.

Oh well. Regardless, Hortense is here to help, providing a useful guide to dressing for your REAL shape at the end of the article. I’m glad that someone is thinking of all us stegosauri and our need to find the best look possible.

03/31/2009. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.