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Archive for March, 2010

more about PETA

Feministing has some thoughts on PETA, thought y’all might be interested:

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Because bunnies are cute, and reproductive access is sexy.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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this article really doesn’t say much about most of the issues we are concerned with here on GA, but this one paragraph is revealing. what i like about alternet is that it at least bothers to insert some feminist analysis into the news.

While the bill doesn’t come close to fulfilling the promise of the sort of universal, single-payer coverage favored by progressives, it will, according to the Congressional Budget Office, create access to health insurance to 32 million currently uninsured Americans. But the victory came at the expense of a further erosion of women’s reproductive rights, even as it proscribed discrimination against women in premium costs and gender-specific pre-existing conditions.

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I know I’ve been kind of binge-posting lately, but I thought y’all might find this article interesting.

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badass

I know not all of us are on the Lady Gaga fan train, but I think this article is a fine example of a positive quality of Lady Gaga: she sometimes picksĀ  really rad people to work with. This article is about Heather Cassils, the person Lady Gaga makes out with in the prison yard, who speaks at length about her dislike of binaries, disappointment with The L Word as a queer T.V. show, and her personal performance art.

The interviewer, Noah Michelson, also shares a good point with Cassils about the implications of having such a new face making out with a pop star,

It really speaks to the idea of visibility. When you think about the way queer women are presented — even in 2010 — we never see images like you and Lady Gaga making out… Whenever I see truly queer representations, especially embedded in such a mainstream moment like “Telephone,” I think of kids in the middle of Kansas who maybe aren’t exposed to anything, and then they see this Lady Gaga video, and they start asking questions. Even something as fluffy as a pop music video can be hugely influential.

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So I have these causes that I talk about. Veganism… Anti-racism… Feminism… Fat Positivism… Sex Positivism… Environmentalism… And you know there’s always this tipping point in my mind. Someone or something gets me more or less climbing on board with the cause, then there’s this ultimate point that flings me completely on deck. Like there’s no turning back. It’s just so obvious that this is a problem I need to change my life to start recognizing. Do you ever have a moment or witness an event or learn a fact that completely freaks out to the point of life-alteration? I’m going to give an example, in case you weren’t expecting it:

The Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch, to those of you who are unaware, is a heap of plastic garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean that is roughly the size of Texas. If you had any idealistic visions of our garbage disposal system, I would say now is the time to start poking some holes. This is a result of our relentless production and consumption of plastic things that we throw away every day without a thought. This fucking scared me. I mean, learning about global warming a few years ago was terrifying. I started doing things everyday that I thought helped reduce my contribution to it. But this garbage heap struck me hard. I made some pretty firm resolutions: No more Taco Bell soda containers. No more going to the grocery store and “ughhh. forgetting” my reusable bags. No more tampon applicators. No more water bottles (but I was on that wagon a while ago). And I’m happy about it. I can’t not do it anymore… it’s the way I live, it’s part of my daily schedule. I think I’m a fucking asshole if I don’t. How can you when you know this information? How can you explain it away? Nowadays, I can’t really bear to buy anything new, for fear of contributing more “stuff” that will ultimately end up in the garbage. And I know I’m not perfect… I still buy frozen fruit in plastic packages sometimes… I still buy plastic-wrapped bread loaves all the time… much of our food preservation system is based in our trust of plastic. There just seem to to be some plastic-wrapped things that are so simple to eliminate and I pull my hair out every time my dad comes home from Stop & Shop grocery-shopping with 20 new plastic bags telling me he can’t be bothered to use a few of the 100+ recycled tote bags he’s got stored under the sink. Sometimes I can accept his disagreement with my feminist beliefs, but I really think this is just stubborn idiocy.

So… anyway… this is what I want you to know when I say that the below commercial made me want to weep with joy. I can’t even care about the consumerism of a commercial… if one company is making the leap to reduce a shit-ton of plastic in the world, not only that, but making it compostable… I am a happy bean.

EDIT: munzi recommended a pretty great video about The Story of Stuff (www.storyofstuff.com)–it has cute little cartoons and an exasperated lady telling you WHY THIS CONSUMPTION NEEDS TO SLOW THE FUCK DOWN. So, umm, enjoy. It just changed my life. Again.

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The tagline is "Every rose has its thorns." eheh heh heh?

So I just watched the movie Teeth. This is one rich film for a feminist. I highly recommend watching it. If you want to watch it before I give away the plot, I know you can find it for free at Surfthechannel… or you could, like, pay to watch it. Not like I did, but I’m all for that. SO now, DON’T READ FURTHER.

Okay, spoilers commence here. And, another warning: I’m gonna be talking about rape and sexual assault so, TRIGGER WARNING. This is how I saw the movie.

Teeth is the story of girl in high school who is a teenage advocate for The Promise Ring and boils in her repressed sexuality. She meets a guy at one of her speeches about the values of abstinence and immediately they hit it off–they have that special something. This girl lives at home with her mom, dad, and step-brother (?) who is basically the most misogynistic, horrible, sexual-assault-y dude ever. Her parents seem to be, like, the sweetest people everrr. So, after a particularly disgusting encounter with her brother which ends with him saying something like “you know who you’ve been saving yourself for, all this abstinence bullshit… you want me” the girl storms out of her house and decides that she’s gonna risk her “purity” and go out to the swimming hole with cute guy she met at the abstinence meeting. They dive into the water and (arguably) it’s adorable and romantic and I couldn’t help but want them to get some cause hey, they’re both just so darn conflicted and repressed. They kiss and feel guilty… kiss and feel guilty… then the girl swims further down the swimming hole into the cave where it’s rumored that kids “…you know” (subtext: have the sex). She climbs up onto a ledge in the cave where someone had already laid down a sleeping bag. Oh dear. Boy swims after her but she tells him not to come up there. He says “I’m freezing” in the water and climbs up anyway. They sit together and it’s still cute cause they don’t want to make moves but they can’t seem to help themselves and they get to kissing and touching and mounting. Then the girl stops them and says, “let’s go back down.” The guy says okay. BUT SUDDENLY. He mounts her again and starts pulling off his underwear saying things like “let me just try this” and then shouting at her, “I haven’t jerked off since Easter!” and she repeatedly says “NO! I’m SAYING NO!” It is horrifying transition from cutesy first love to a full-on THIS IS RAPE scene. After about a minute of wrestling and violence, the boy ultimately penetrates her. Then we hear a slicing kind of noise. The boy screams and, with difficulty, pulls himself free, gushing blood. A large portion of his penis drops to the rocky ground. He continues crying/screaming and jumps back into the water. This girl has teeth in her vagina (“vagina dentata”) that are apparently activated by non-consensual penetration.

So if that gives you an idea of what the movie is like… I’m gonna skip around through the rest of the things that I found interesting/disturbing/questionable about the movie.

Every male character besides the rather sweet papa turns out to just want to rape our protagonist. After the incident at the water hole, the girl goes to the gynecologist, who, after examining her, gives a furtive glance and seemingly decides that, since she’s never been to the gyno before, she won’t mind if he lubes up his hand and starts fisting her. She is severely uncomfortable, says so, and after a few thrusts, we hear the slicing noise. The gyno shrieks, four fingers fall to the floor, and as the girl escapes the room, the gyno starts screaming “VAGINA DENTATA! VAGINA DENTATA!” After this, the girl approaches another “nice guy” from school who proceeds to drug her and coerce into having sex, but she’s too drugged to feel threatened (thus, no castration this time). She has sex with him and they both smile and they both orgasm and it almost seems nice if it wasn’t that HE RAPED HER. She wakes up the next morning, has more sex with him, but, mid-thrusting, this guy answers his phone and he says “Hey. Yeah, doing it riiiight now. She’s right here.” He looks at her and says, “Say something.” She is disgusted, says, “no.” and asks him what’s going on. He tells her he made a bet with his friends over whether he could fuck her. After a few more words exchanged, he shrieks and, once again, a penis is severed. There is one more instance of this. Then an implied one in the end of the film. I will say that, from my point of view (and as far as I could see on other reviews of the movie), every person dismembered by the vagina dentata seemed to really “deserve” what they got–the penetrators were rendered utterly detestable.

I wonder about the “female empowerment” of the vagina dentata concept, when obviously any woman put in those situations in our world does not have this power over the penetrator. However, is the fear and discomfort that this film provokes in (reportedly) many penetrators an empowerment in some way? That maybe more people will think twice before they just compulsively penetrate?

I wonder about the genre of this movie and how it excuses certain plot points. For example, as a horror movie, I could say something like, “well, in most horror movies, women are disgustingly shallow characters and are nearly always humiliated in a graphically sexual/violent way, so it’s cool that this one is turning the tables.” And thus I justify the feminist goal of this movie. BUT this is a movie about the oft-ignored topic of rape, and the even more ignored topic of female defense against rape. Are women, as targets of the rapes portrayed, supposed to take heart in that there’s one story about a girl who has the magical power to exact justice on her rapist? What is valuable about this story to feminists and/or rape victims? Is this movie really made for these people? Or is this another kind of band-aid movie… a movie that makes everyone feel good about rape because, in this case, justice was served? I’m torn. I hated the rape scenes, but I learned, through the movie, to start feeling okay about them because I knew those fuckers were about to get their dicks handed to them.

I’m starting to hate feel-good movies.

There is also the sort of subplot about abstinence education. This is perhaps the most intellectually stimulating part of the movie. Our protagonist goes to a school where the sex-ed teacher cannot even bear to say the word “vagina” and the school textbooks have huge stickers pasted over the anatomical drawings of vaginas. It is made very clear that this is a misogynist community. What is the value of having a rather campy horror movie with pretty clear implications that abstinence-only sex education is, at best, painfully ironic? Afterall, the protagonist starts out as a fairly confident spokesperson for The Promise Ring.

So, after this long-ass post, do y’all have any thoughts?

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