Friday, January 28, 2011

Gaga wants your Bad Romance and… to read you a Bedtime Story?

My roommate mentioned this story about a “Telephone” inspired children’s book, and I needed to investigate. What a funny and disturbing idea!

Also, while on the subject of Lady Gaga, she just released lyrics to her new song, “Born this Way.” I was inspired to change the title of this blog. I’m experimenting and seeing which one I like better.

In the past, I’ve been a tough critic of Lady Gaga’s image. I wondered whether her songs empowered women or objectified them, and after critiquing her music videos I thought her messages were disempowering, and she was not doing enough to promote women’s rights in such a position of power in the music industry. My experiences over the last year have pushed me to question my thinking. While I get a little tense at the thought of eight year olds replicating Gaga’s music videos on YouTube, I admire her openly sexual, independent, strong persona. In a world where women have to constantly navigate double binds like needing to be sexy and innocent at the same time, she stands out. She talks about her sexuality without shame and doesn’t care what the people around her think. She has managed to rise above conformity, and I think her new song, “Born this Way” successfully makes that point.

She sings, “Don’t hide yourself in regret/Just love yourself and you’re set/I’m on the right track baby/I was born this way.” Now, that’s a song I want to dance to…

Here's a link to the rest of her lyrics:

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Struggle With the Romantic Comedy

This weekend I watched the film Notting Hill, and whether I wanted to or not, I viewed it with a feminist lense. The film stars Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. Julia’s a famous film star that falls for an ordinary, bookstore owner, Hugh Grant. Their path to true love is a bit rocky since Julie flirts with Hugh while still being in a relationship with her famous boyfriend. After breaking Hugh’s heart, she returns to his place for solace when naked pictures of her surface in the tabloids. They have a romantic weekend until the press finds where she is. She leaves and breaks Hugh’s heart once again. When she returns to Notting Hill to film another movie, she goes to him asking, “After all… I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” At first Hugh turns her down but then realizes he made a terrible mistake, so he chases after her, comedy ensues, and they have their happily ever after.

I think one of the reasons I wanted to watch this movie again was because Alex Dunphy on Modern Family uses the Julia Roberts line to ask a boy she likes to kiss her in a recent episode. Okay, I love romantic comedies. I’m the girl staring hopefully at the screen during the infamous “I’ll love you forever. We’ll ride off into the sunset and be happy forever” kiss at the end of films, but the end to Notting Hill made me a bit uneasy.

While relationships are difficult and do have their ups and downs, there is something I cannot accept about their relationship. Hugh ignores that Julia used him while she still had a boyfriend. She used his home and heart when she was in trouble, and then easily slipped back into her old life without him. There is something unauthentic about their love since Julia Roberts never seemed committed to it until the last ten minutes of the movie. She also belittles herself at the end of the film. She’s not just a girl. In the film, she’s an amazing actress and strong woman. On the other hand, maybe Julia Roberts is playing a “real” woman. A woman that is confused about her feelings, needs time to sort them through and isn’t perfect.

I’m sitting here wondering if all romantic comedies fall into a trap of conforming to happy endings and stereotypical gender roles. It makes me think about some of my favorite films and how they compare… Just something to think about on a dreary Monday afternoon.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Dream Big"

In my naiveté and ignorance before attending college, I did not know how privileged I was to have that option. For me, university was not an option. It was assumed that I would go to college and be released into the “real world” after four years. My Denison education has taught me how lucky I am to have that privilege that many women will never have access to.

Over the past week as I looked around my female-dominated classrooms, my high-achieving feminist peers inspired me. In my “Social Cultural Methods” course, we grappled with issues of doing research with indigenous participants and began with the basics of who is considered “indigenous.” In my “Imagining the Body” course, we discussed the oppressive systems that convince women that outer appearances determine self-worth and confidence. As I listened to the research interests of my peers, I admired how daring and courageous each of them are. I also have a group of fantastic friends that accept me no matter what and stick to who they are. They are unique, sassy, and beautiful. These are the women I want to read about and see in magazines. I want to hear their stories and aspirations. I want to inspire young girls to dream big. I’m just looking for a career to do so.

(Yes, my title is inspired by a quote from Juno).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Offensive or Empowering? You decide.

I'm not sure how much it's been used in magazines or billboards in the U.S., but I encountered this ad a lot while traveling in Europe. This image is from a billboard in Copenhagen.

I posted it because I'm still confused about how the man and woman are positioned in this image. For a long time, I showed the image to a few of my friends, and we couldn't figure out how the picture was taken or photoshopped. To me, there was something off about the area around the woman's arm, shoulder, and armpit. I showed it to a male friend, and he easily pointed out what I was missing and described the whole image to me. Well, I'm still confused. I think I'm still missing something. 

I am still wondering: Is this the only image that can sell a perfume? What about showing a confident, independent woman instead of this image of a woman, dependent on a man for pleasure? Why do they need to be naked? Also, I noticed that the ad says "Gucci Guilty." What about this image is guilty? Why should a woman feel guilty for seeking pleasure? Why do we live in a culture that always makes women guilty for having desires while men's desires are promoted and expected? But maybe, on the other hand the expression on her face says that she's a women in control, getting the man she wants. Offensive or Empowering? You decide.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Way I Am

I’ve been debating how to continue my blog from abroad for the past few weeks when the answer was right under my nose. After taking the course, “Issues in Feminism” in the spring of 2010, I find that I am always looking at the world around me from a feminist perspective. It troubles and frustrates me that so many images, commercials, movies, televisions shows, etc. are comparing young women to absurd beauty ideals and pushing them to utilize new makeup or hair dye to “transform.” Sometimes I look at the television screen in disgust, asking, “Why can’t you just tell me that I’m fine the way I am!!” I’ve come to terms with the fact that the media is never going to stop putting out one-sided, sexist images of women, but at least I can critique it. I plan to use this blog to speak my mind and share feminist issues that puzzle me. Since every issue in the world can be connected to women, I’m letting this blog be an open space for me to discuss anything that’s on my mind.

I chose the title “The Way I Am” after some inspiration from the Ingrid Michaelson song. This past semester abroad has taught me to find my own voice and listen to it. Sometimes I become too wrapped up in listening to everyone else’s opinions but my own, and it’s about time I stood up for myself.

Here's a quote that sums up my feelings: "I've always liked the time before dawn because there's no around to remind me who I'm supposed to be, so it's easier to remember who I am." ~The Story People