Have y’all seen this Thai ad for a push up bra?

I think this is really forward thinking — but then I wonder if I am in some way not well enough informed about the reality behind this humor. I would love to be informed. What are your thoughts on this?

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The Truth About Barbie

What follows are two images that ask us to consider the unrealistic nature of Barbie’s physical build. The first image is a life size Barbie – i.e a model of Barbie’s measurements if she were life-sized – compared standing next to a young woman and an image of current Barbie next to what Barbie would look like if she had measurements that were more in line with the reality of human bodies:

barbie_320130703-085827.jpg

In April of 2011 CBS NEWS noted that with her current dimensions, Barbie would be diagnosed as dangerously thin – and possibly suffering from an eating disorder. So why not change her — why not make Barbie more in line with a realistic body type – or at least give parents the option. Why not make Barbie dolls in a variety of body types? Perhaps — we need a petition.

I’m not trying to slam Mattel – in fact, last year they produced presidential candidate Barbie – sponsored by the White House Project which was pretty cool:

20130703-091610.jpgBut the reality here is that — Barbie creates unreal body expectations in the girls that play with her … remember the woman who has actually had multiple surgeries attempting to make herself look like Barbie. Just sayin’barbie2

Lesbian Love Octogon – Final Weekend

So, if you happen to be in New York this week you should take the time and go to see The Lesbian Love Octogon, a musical, currently housed at the Krain theater.

I had the pleasure of giggling and belly laughing at this poignant and well performed show last Saturday night. The plot revolves around a group of lesbian women living on the lower east side in the ’90s. The music and lyrics are quippy and hilarious — ditties like “dyke drama and tofu scramble.” And the message the audience is left with is an increasingly valid notion – we are more than the theory that has been written about our identities.

If you don’t take my word for it check out this Time Out review.

It is also worth mentioning that the fabulous Viri Lieberman has been documenting this musical comedy’s trip too off off Broadway — so if you go there’s a chance you might spot her! Check out her promo on indie gogo.

An Afternoon in Boston…and by the way what’s up with PETA?

Randy and I are up in Boston for a good friend’s wedding, so we spent the afternoon traipsing around my old stomping grounds and few things happened that I wanted to share with you all. First, we had the pleasure of  walking past Roxy’s Grill Cheese Food Truck:

Randy noted that the Roxy Logo was similar to the new feminist cupcake logo, which I thought was pretty cool.  We ordered two sandwiches – a mac and chorizo grilled cheese and a fall inspired grilled cheese which had butternut squash, raisins and granny smith apples – can you say yum?!?! The food truck idea is so awesome – I am totally going to look this up from now on — in fact, I’m thinking I need to share more of my food exploits with y’all. Because to be honest, when I’m not thinking feminism, I’m thinking travel and food. So, if in Boston on a Friday afternoon, definitely hit up Roxy’s Grilled Cheese – they park outside the public library in Copley Square.

Secondly,  I wanted to share this gem, which they were selling at a novelty store on Newbury St:

I don’t have a whole lot of deep thoughts to go with this moment – To be honest, my first reaction was to giggle but ultimately, I think I’m offended by the ‘designer beaver’  because it’s objectifying and represents the vagina a plaything to be manipulated.

Finally, there was  another weird objectification moment at the Copley Square farmer’s market – Have y’all seen the PETA Pilgrims?  I didn’t have a camera with me, but here is an example:

Apparently sexy pilgrim outfits promote tofurkey…  This is not the first time that I’ve seen PETA use the objectification of women as a tactic for saving animals — the argument is vegetarian is “sexy.”  Take a look:

It seems so bizarre to me that a group of people who are trying to save the lives of animals would do so by capitalizing on the objectification of female bodies. I was particularly frustrated by this image, which seems to sexualized violence towards women in order to make a point about cruelty to animals:

PETA also makes fun of and perpetuates fat prejudice:

I am all for a discussion of animal rights – I am horrified by the cruelty that animals suffer at the hands of human beings – factory farming, puppy mills – these things are sickening things and you can and should read about these issues. BUT I am also horrified by PETA’s advertising campaign. Is this the kind of thinking we genuinely want to see for those that are working with a social justice issue – or isn’t the goal to rise above the commercialization and commodification of humans/animals as objects so that we can end the world’s inequalities??

Clearly, PETA doesn’t get it.

The Love Your Vagina Song, Dr. Pooper and The End of Gender ….

A friend from Miami sent me these three bits and I thought y’all might get a kick out of them as well. First up The Love Your Vagina Song:

Secondly, this nauseating ad – it negates women and ushers men into the hell of dieting and body image issues, yea!:

And finally of great interest is this NPR article that claims gender may be a thing of the past! Of course noting the pink-nailed J Crew ad and the couple who has chosen to not gender their child – but also “Andrej Pejic, an androgynous Australian model, worked both the male and female runways at the Paris fashion shows earlier this year:”All very cool stuff to see. Thank you Mr. Fitzgerald!!

Italian Vogue’s Curvy Cover…Is this continued objectification?

So the feminist blogosphere is talking about the “plus-size” models on the cover of Italian Vogue.  This year I am presenting a paper at NWSA that deal with issues I think this image is raising yet  again – My paper was concered with an image in Glamour Magazine in 2009 – Perhaps you remember it:

The Glamour article entitled “Oh. Wow. These  Bodies are Beautiful.”[1]  looked to prove plus-size[2] models equal in Beauty to their super thin counterparts. The article questioned the beauty/fashion industry’s obsession with thinness and announces Glamour magazine’s pledge to start a “body confidence…revolution” (Field 241). As you can see above, the visual focus of the article was a two page photograph of seven plus-size models, naked, their eyes wooing the camera, their lips poised to part, the bodies draped and cuddled together, like lovers, lovers being watched.  Like many models that have come before them, these plus-sized models are objectified, turned into the object of male-gaze.

In light of this objectification, I find myself wondering what exactly a ‘body confidence… revolution’ entails? True, it’s hard to deny the intrinsic joy in seeing somewhat bigger bodies, which could be considered Othered bodies, represented as both normal and sexual, and I enjoyed reading Glamour’s call for a ‘revolution,’ but on close inspection, these plus-sized models that Glamour was cheering about aren’t truly representative of the majority of bodies that have been Othered.

And beyond that I can’t help but note that this should not be the welcome these Othered bodies are looking for, an ushering into the realm of sexually subjugated objects? Is that what a ‘body confidence… revolution’ entails, a move from abjection to objectification?

Understanding women as objects isn’t something new or unfamiliar.  Ringing in the second wave of Feminism, Simone de Beauvoir, explains the nature of women’s cultural standing. She says, “humanity is male and man defines woman not as herself but as relative to him; she is not regarded as an autonomous being” (116). In other words, masculinity is perceived as the norm or the superior state of humanity and femininity exists as “inessential” opposition to this norm, the object against which the subject defines himself (116).  Beauvoir advocates the rise of woman from object to subject by assuming the role of the masculine. In other words women would no longer be confined to the ‘feminine’ roles, such as that of wife, mother, teacher or domestic. Arguably, women have attained this status; we can be everything from astronauts to porn stars, but our position as Other remains.

Like the postmodern feminists, I link this continued objectification to the controlling influence of that which gets representation and the limitations of how we understand our socially constructed genders. Currently, women can choose any lifestyle they desire but they are predominately represented as Beauty objects, and so we perceive ourselves as such. Theorists like Bordo and Bartky provide us with the feminist understanding of Foucault’s docile bodies, bodies that inflict self-disciplinary action in response to the internalization of cultural norms, or rather the nature of human beings to respond to cultural representations or metanarratives by trying to assimilate/homogenize to the standards set by them. The female Beauty standard is such a metanarrative.  The ingestion of this narrative as the prescriptive norm and the self-inflicted oppression occurring under its weight are at the center of women’s continued objectification.


[1] The title of the Glamour article insinuates surprise, as if no one would have guessed that the bodies that often kept from representation could be equally beautiful to the bodies we repeatedly represent.

[2] It is worth noting that the title plus-size is inherently prejudicial. Plus implies more than the norm, referencing the continued representation of larger models as Othered bodies.

Soapbox, Inc. Winter Term!! Who wants to go??

Every year the Ladies at Soapbox, Inc. – Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner – host an intensive session on taking your Feminism from theory to activism. I have always wanted to attend, but it just hasn’t happened yet.  [I think it’s possible that I’m getting a little old for it but phooey on that!] Here’s how describe the week on their website:

A transformative week of feminist immersion that can’t be found anywhere else. Your guides will be seasoned activists and Soapbox co-founders Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner, authors of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future and Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism.

Each day, you will meet with two to three organizations; meetings are interspersed with debriefing sessions. You can expect to participate in path-breaking progressive campaigns launched from NYC, tackle fundraising and other practical but necessary skills for your cause, and explore dynamic issues like sexual rights, the arts, media, philanthropy, and practical skills for getting a job or internship.

Each session is designed to match the unique interest of that group. See below for a complete interest of all groups.

Here’s a typical day at Soapbox Feminist Winter Term:

Morning Meeting: Meet with Third Wave Foundation and learn about their grant-making strategies.   Meet Third Wave grant partners and learn about young feminist philanthropy through their innovative Why Give? program.

Lunch: Brownbag Discussion with Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner

Afternoon Meeting: Breakout into small group sessions with several reproductive justice organizations, such as National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Sistas on the Rise, and Choices in Childbirth.

Evening Entertainment: Mix and mingle with young New York feminists at a reading at the radical bookstore/collective Bluestockings or a networking party with Paradigm Shift or Reproductive Rights Happy Hour.

Participants come to Feminist Winter Term wanting to put their feminist values to work in the professional world. This includes learning how to stand out, network with employers and other young professionals, and explore professional avenues of interest. Every session includes a Career Day that offers concrete advice from student alums and leading professionals about entering the professional world and a half-day internship with a leading feminist organization.

What do you say – Should I register? Who wants to go with me? You can register here.

15 Books Every Feminist Should Read

1. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir2. Gyn/Ecology by Mary Daly

3. Borderlands/La Fontera: The New Metiza by Gloria Anzaldua

4. The Great Cosmic Mother by Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor

5. Goddesses and Monsters by Jane Caputi6. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature by Val Plumwood7. Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins8. Maternal Thinking: Towards a Politics of Peace by Sara Ruddick9. Venus in the Dark: Blackness and Beauty in Popular Culture by Janelle Hobson

10. The Unbearable Weight by Susan Bordo11. Pornland by Gail Dines 12. Guyland by Michael Kimmel13. Gender Trouble by Judith Butler14. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by Bell Hooks15. The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions
by Paula Gunn Allen

Popculture Smörgåsbord

So there are some posts that I’ve been meaning to write but I’ve been rushing to tie up loose ends regarding my submission to Hunger Games and Philosophy (edited by George Dunn and Nick Michaud) and now my thoughts on these bits and pieces are getting untimely so consider this particular post my way of saying got any thoughts on this nonsense:

1. Recently, yesterday in fact, I was reading Feministe and I became aware of a  30-year-old McCain staffer’s marriage to a girl who was 17 when they met. There are some semantics in this situation – she was of age when they married and they are very wealthy, blah, blah, blah… So the conversations about statutory rape and what not have gotten pretty overlooked, but what is the deal with women wanting to get married at 17? Ouch, say. Also, there is something so weird about how republicans can twist culture’s moral rules – think Bristol Palin pregnancy – and it’s okay but when liberals do this crap the world goes haywire.   Scarier is Doug Hutchison’s (51) nuptials to a sixteen year old.

2. I need to mention www.xojane.com. I’m not sure how many of your remember Sassy Magazine but as a teenager it was my bible and it’s existence started a life long love affair (from afar) between myself and Jane Pratt – who if you don’t know was also the editor of Jane Magazine for most of its lifetime, and I would argue that her retirement from the magazine caused its demise. That said, like other feminists, I am not feeling Pratt’s newest endeavor 100%. Perhaps I return to my not so third wave feminist outlook – but the website is  way more junk than edgy smart – a little more serious please! I want headings like politics and news – not just sex and beauty. What up, Jane?

3. It’s worth noting Anushay Hossain of ANUSHAY’S POINT. I first discovered her on Broadminded. She is Molly and Christine’s Feminist Broad, and her blog is always interesting and worth reading. Subscribe. Hey, while I’m at it subscribe to Feminist Cupcake, that blog is the bomb-diggity – you should subscribe to that blog too. In particular Anushay has written an informative ditty about Saudi Women’s Protest against the ban on women driving in their country.

4. Speaking of Broadminded – Yesterday morning I caught the last bit of a conversation concerning bullying and cyber bullying among teens. Unfortunately, I am not sure of their guest’s name but he said something about how our television shows and movies present adults making fun of people or embarrassing pranks as so funny and humorous – which in turn got me thinking about the movie Bridesmaids. I meant to review this film for you guys – but I’ve been busy, like I said.  There was feminist potential here but I think it sank. (More later). With regards to adult bullying, sort of, so many movies, including bridesmaids present other people’s embarrassment as something we should laugh at. Admittedly, there are moments when someone trips or slides on a piece of lettuce (circa 1996, June and Ho – Rye, NY) and you can’t help but laugh. But still – is food poisoning that causes you to poop your pants funny?  I say no. Maybe I’m too empathetic – but watching other people’s embarrassment – embarrasses me.

5.  Finally, I wanted to turn y’all on to Micheal Kimmel, who is a spectacular example of a male feminist. I am presenting at the NWSA conference this year and he’s speaking and I absolutely can’t wait. I also teach his article “Masculinity as Homophobia: Fear, Shame, and Silence in the Construction of Gender Identity” in my classrooms. Recently, on his Ms. Blog, that considers the whole Wiener incident, “Ah-nuld, DSK, Weiner–And Us.” A worthwhile read.