Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Is there ever a "good rape scene" in a movie?

A conversation I had a few days ago and this article on tumblr has me thinking again about portrayals of rape, assault, and rough sex in films. As a refresher, I addressed this topic when reviewing the film Unfaithful in a previous post. The article on tumblr discusses the author's disappointment with the rape scene in the American release of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. To be honest, I'm confused about this author's difference between a good and bad rape scene because is there is ever a "good rape scene" in a movie? I understand what she's trying to get at here. Rape is always bad, but the manner in which a director displays or handles the rape in the film gains different reactions from viewers. For example, some rape scenes in films can be confused with rough sex. Rape should get a strong negative reaction from the audience while rough sex should arouse the audience. 

Yet, these lines are so blurry, and I think this ambiguity has contributed to a LOT of debate about what constitutes rape. Portrayals of rape in films normalize violence against women, and more people need to be asking these directors: Is this rape scene essential to this film? Does it contribute to the character's transformation in the film?

I'm torn here because I think rape should be discussed in films, and there may be something beneficial in bringing a realistic portrayal of rape to a wide audience. But, I don't think directors in Hollywood have a woman's dignity and respect in mind when filming these scenes. No, I have not seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but the posters are oversexualized. Rooney Mara isn't wearing a shirt in this image:

Lisabeth is a strong female character, yet in this image she is reduced to a body to look at.  Her rape is an important part of the story, and I don't think it should be left out of the film, but there needs to be more caution when telling rape stories in films. Rape is a serious topic that should be handled with seriousness.

Thank for clarifying this, Ryan!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Why does sex always sell?

As I've been hunting down the best post-holiday sales, I've encountered the same old slogan: sex sells. For example, there's a line of makeup called NARS Orgasm. There's a set of blushes that will apparently give a woman the "effect of an ultimate super, uh hum, afterglow." There is something about naming a blush "G spot" and "super orgasm" that makes me uncomfortable. Why is that the only way to sell any product is to oversexualize it? I see a clear link between wearing this makeup and looking sexy for a man. It also bothers me that the point of this makeup is to make a woman look like she has just had an orgasm as if a woman's appearance is constantly on display for others. 

Yet, I can see the empowering message in this makeup. When I get dressed up or wear makeup, I like to look nice for myself. I just wonder why makeup must be associated with transforming one's physical body and therefore, inner feelings about herself. Is there a way for makeup to have a fun and useful function without the instant gratification that it makes a woman more "beautiful" than another, and therefore, more attractive to a romantic interest?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Beware: Women with Tools?!

Today while I was babysitting, I took the girls to pick out Christmas gifts for their family members, and it was shocking to see how gender-oriented the presents were (well, I guess it wasn't that shocking... Maybe just disappointing). There was a tape measure labeled "Dad Tape Measure: Dad at Work." Because apparently only men measure things. Wait, what?!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Are women "prone" to repeating past mistakes?

A few weeks ago, I was engaging in a conversation with my dad about women in relationships, and he said that, "Women stick to patterns, and go back to the same men over and over again." When I say patterns, I don't mean abusive relationships where women do not leave their significant others. I mean situations where women repeatedly like the same type of guy that is never right for them or women keep "hooking up" with the same guy that will never want more than free fun.

So why is it that women do this? I get the simple explanation: Women are weak and overly emotional, so they must return to their past hookup buddies hoping they have changed. But, I'm not buying that excuse because it's based on a lot of stereotypical bullshit about women. I have a couple of other possible explanations: Maybe women feel comfortable with these types of men and don't know who might be a better fit for them. I think relationships among 20-somethings have become so devalued in college culture. Maybe women think that's the best they can get, so they settle for hookups. I also think some women repeat past mistakes while others learn from them, so I think it's a grand generalization to say that all women are trapped in their past relationship mistakes. 

Just some thoughts on a rainy Monday night (a.k.a I don't want to do my take home exam or write my papers)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

When you’re LOST, go to Iceland

As a senior in college, I frequently find myself the victim of dramatic mood swings. One moment I’m fed up with the drama of being around 18 to 22 year-olds and two minutes later I’m sobbing because I dread the moment I’ll have to say goodbye to my Denison family. In honor of my 21st birthday a few weeks ago, I’ve chosen to write a reflective post about the lessons I’ve learned and the mistakes I want to warn myself against making again.

  1. People will disappoint you, and they won’t acknowledge that they hurt your feelings. Some people deserve to be forgiven and deserve second chances, and others do not. People come and go in your life, but your true friends will make their presence felt even when they’re thousands of miles away.
  2. Even the people that seem like they have their acts together are just as insecure as you are. They just hide it better.
  3. One person’s perfect fit isn’t yours. Over the past semester, I’ve listened to hundreds of people give me their “life plans” after college. My reactions tend to range from happiness to jealousy to deep anxiety that my “life plan” is just not good enough or as prestigious. What I’ve learned is that YOU need to do what is best for YOU. I would also say this lesson applies to romantic relationships. Over the past few years, I’ve had a lot of anxiety about not fitting into appropriate social norms, and to be bluntly honest, I’d rather kiss a boy that thinks I’m wonderful than hook up with a bunch of random people, which leads me to my next lesson…
  4. I’m a hopeless romantic, and I’m not compromising this even if the male market is looking sparse. Women deserve a hell of a lot more than a post-it, email, Facebook chat or texting relationship!
  5. It’s okay if other people don’t get you. In the long run, fitting in just doesn’t matter as much. Anyhow, I’d rather stand out!
  6. When you’re lost, go to Iceland because why not??!! Life is short, and I think if you don’t take chances, you’ll miss out on something wonderful.

Alright, after this melodramatic rant, I will be back to feminist blogging because I watched a lot of television over Thanksgiving, and I have a lot to say!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

"That Girl" Syndrome

A reoccurring theme in my life and on this blog is the way women discuss, label, and I would argue devalue each other. I recently considered how often I hear and partake in this conversation:

Girl 1: Oh, "That girl" she sleeps around with lots of guys.
Girl 2: I would never do that. I'm not "that girl."

The phrase "That girl" is overused in normal conversations, and those labels stay with women. It is times like these when I get fed up with being on such a small campus where identities and social groups are solidified after the first year. Why is there such an obsession with putting people in categories? I'm a dynamic person and my interests have changed since high school, yet sometimes I feel like I live in a box at Denison. 

Is it a matter of just not caring about the labels others place on you? I wish I could do this, but I find that some labels just get to me. Also, labels about women are frequently negative. Why don't we have more positive discussions about women? 

One of my favorite quotes is: "Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique."
-Pablo Casals

Why don't we say "That girl. She's a marvel. She's unique"!

This post reminds me of the song "I'm Not That Girl" in Wicked

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

YouTube Child Sensations: Offensive, Funny, or Disturbing?

I love a good YouTube video, particularly this child covering Darren Criss's version of "Teenage Dream." Yet, what happens when parents go too far? 

This YouTube video of two little girls in ballerina costumes singing Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" has me worried. One area of concern is the point in the song where Minaj sings, "He's just got to give me that look/When he give me that look/Then the panties comin' off, off..." These children are five and eight-years-old. I don't think I can find a more blatant example of the early and over-sexualization of young girls. 

Ellen did a segment on her show where she brought the little girls on for a duet with Nicki Minaj. I have a problem with this because it is encouraging the girls to emulate Minaj's image and continue to sing her lyrics. Young girls are constantly receiving mixed messages about their sexuality. They can look sexy but not be sexual. Even if the girls don't understand the lyrics, they are still being exposed to them. I think many of the "popular" songs today promote a culture that disrespects women and removes a woman's control over her body. The song promotes a culture where women's panties come off when a man looks her way. Even if others don't agree with my points, I still think there needs to be more conversations surrounding these YouTube videos and the future consequences they have on children.

Check out Minaj's official video for "Super Bass"!

Rihanna's Not Your Role Model

On Tuesday, Rihanna was named Esquire's Sexiest Woman Alive. To celebrate her title, she posed nude for the magazine's cover.

She offers some interesting comments in the article about not thinking she is "sexy" while she simulates sex on stage during her concerts and admits to wearing racy outfits. While there is nothing wrong with embracing sexuality, Rihanna's songs position her and her listeners as sex objects. In the interview, she shares that she "doesn't want to be anyone's role model. She just wants to be a musician." I would argue that just being a musician is not possible when millions of children consume her music and image.

Ryan Gosling's Teaching Feminist Theory?

Love this! Check out the Feminist Ryan Gosling Tumblr.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What I've Been Reading

This event that occurred in Texas in April came on my radar recently. A girl, 11-years old, accused 19 men of raping her on four separate occasions. A serious case of victim-blaming is happening where 13 of the men have entered not-guilty pleas. The suspects claim that she lied about her age and "she wanted this to happen." FYI, no one EVER wants to get raped.

The Amanda Knox acquittal raises many questions about the ways women are framed in the media. Italian prosecutors framed Knox as a promiscuous "she-devil" while American commentators claim she is a victim of "inept, evil" men.

New children's book, Pirates and Princesses, reinforces and breaks stereotypes?! A boy and girl can still be friends on the playground if one is a princess and another is a pirate. So boys and girls can play together as long as they maintain rigid gender roles?

These videos will give you a major case of wanderlust.

Notice anything strange about this image...
He's posing the way a woman would in a magazine. Doesn't this look ridiculous?

Friday, October 7, 2011

You know you've hit rock bottom when...

You know you've hit rock bottom when... you get asked out in an email. My streak of awkward male encounters continues. Without going into too many of the painful details, I met Boy A on Wednesday at a work function. He then sent me a long email about how he "thoroughly enjoyed" our conversation and is looking for a friend. After a few more paragraphs, praising my good conversational skills, he then gave me his number to "hit him up sometime." Now I didn't think it was creepy until he wrote... "Like tomorrow!!" emphasis on the two exclamation points. I replied that if he had any more questions about my job he could visit me in the office, so there he was at the office yesterday while I was working. I answered a few more questions for an article he is writing, and then he left. A few minutes later I get an email from him asking for my number, so we can "keep the conversations going."

Really? You just saw me in person a few minutes ago. Also, my boss informed me that he was lurking around the office for 20 minutes while I was meeting with a different student. Maybe one day in the future I'll be laughing about this experience, but to be honest, I just feel like crying. I think I deserve a hell of a lot more than an email. 

My friends and I have spoken a lot recently about what it means to be "approachable" and why boys on this campus don't approach women unless they are drunk, at a party, and looking for some quick action. The lights are dark. The music is blasting, and in my experience, boys just grab you without any intention of learning your name. What about me screams "Creepy men, approach me with your awful pickup lines"! This blog post about "The art of being approachable" says that women should practice being playful and flirtatious in public to exude confidence and "attract more of the men you want to meet."

a) I'm not going to practice being flirtatious in public nor am I going to change who I am to attract a man.
b) Just because I smile at you or wear a dress does not mean I'm into you. This goes back to the stereotype that boys have sexual urges that they cannot control, and therefore, poor treatment of women is excusable. I control my body and what I do with it.