Bravo, Chris Rock!

5 10 2009

Chris Rock has taken a stance against Roman Polanski and has made it clear that he is not going to join the long list of Hollywood celebrities defending Polanski.  On the Jay Leno show, he said:

He made good movies, THIRTY YEARS AGO. Even Johnnie Cochran don’t have the nerve to go, ‘Well, did you see O.J. play against New England?’

Click here to watch the video.





Sexy reading

1 10 2009

Here are some good resources for people who are interested in sex, sexual politics, comprehensive sex education, or being a sex educator a sex therapist.

Books:

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Sex and Science by Mary Roach

Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation by Leora Tanenbaum

Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex by Judith Levine

America’s War on Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust and Liberty (Sex, Love and Psychology) by Marty Klein

Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio

Sperm Wars: Infidelity, Sexual Conflict, and Other Bedroom Battles by Robin Baker

The Guide to Getting It On by Paul Joannides

Pornified: How Porn is Damaging Our Lives, Our Relationships and Our Families by Pamela Paul

Websites:

Adult Video News

Carnal Nation

Feel free to add any other suggestions by leaving a comment!





Cougar Town – more on why I hate the word cougar

2 09 2009

I’ve shared my thoughts about the cougar label before, so I’ve been really annoyed at all the ads I keep seeing on the New York subways for Cougar Town, a new ABC sitcom set to premiere on September 23rd, featuring Courteney Cox.

cougar town

Cox plays 40 or 40-something year old Jules Cobb, a newly divorced woman in Florida with a 17 year old son. She decides to get back in the dating scene to add excitement into her life. There’s an older post on Jezebel about why Cougar Town looks awful, and the first reason that they list is the use of the word “cougar”.

There is nothing liberating or transgressive about the cougar label when it applies to women.  As Rebecca Traister writes in Salon:

Cougars. Pussies. Foxes. Faster pussycat! Kill! Kill! Active, aggressive female sexuality is always talked about as feral, often feline. When it’s older, apparently, it develops sharper claws and teeth. Unless, that is, it’s exhibited by a primmer and more contained MILF. That’s just a lady with kids who men want to fuck. It’s impossible to tell, until we get closer to the specimen, whether she has any interest in doing the fucking herself.

The enthusiasm for the “Wild Kingdom” analogy is a sign of how strange and hysterically funny the idea of energetic female sexual desire is — whether it’s in the form of 34-year-old Drew Barrymore, who has cheerily referred to herself as a “pre-cougar” or “puma” because she’s dated men a couple of years younger than her, or 50-year-old Madonna, who recently dated 20-year-old Jesus Luz. How sad and backward that we have to give it a nickname, animalize it as if it’s outside the boundaries of civilized human behavior, make it a trend, pretend that Demi Moore invented it. That’s not progress, and it’s not a step forward for women.

Yes, must we animalize female sexuality and try to cutely conflate older single, attractive women who have sex with younger men with (the Wikipedia definition of a cougar) “large, solitary cats [with] the greatest range of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, extending from Yukon in Canada to the southern Andes of South America.”

If you go on Urban Dictionary to look up what a cougar is, you will find degrading definitions:

An older woman who frequents clubs in order to score with a much younger man. The cougar can be anyone from an overly surgically altered wind tunnel victim, to an absolute sad and bloated old horn-meister, to a real hottie or milf [Mother I’d like to fuck, made popular by American Pie]. Cougars are gaining in popularity — particularly the true hotties — as young men find not only a sexual high, but many times a chick with her shit together.

“An overly surgically altered wind tunnel victim”, “an absolute sad and bloated old horn-meister” or “a real hottie or milf “? Are those really the only ways that we can think of older women in society? Is that the only vocabulary that we have to describe older women? Ageist much? Misogynist much? And isn’t it demeaning to call an older, more sexually experienced woman a “chick with her shit together”?

The third definition listed says:

An attractive woman in her 30’s or 40’s who is on the hunt once again. She may be found in the usual hunting grounds: nightclubs, bars, beaches, etc. She will not play the usual B.S. games that women in their early twenties participate in. End state, she will be going for the kill, just like you. Associated with milfs.

And the example they give of how to use cougar in context: I bagged a cougar last night at the club.

Sigh. I don’t even know what to make of this.





Thoughts on Sex and the City

30 08 2009

satc

I’ve wanted to blog about this for quite some time now since I’ve had so many conversations with friends about the Sex and the City show (SATC). Is it a feminist show? Can you like SATC and still be a feminist?

I’ve heard plenty of reasons why people consider SATC to be a feminist show:

– the four protagonists (Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha) are all women and the show really foregrounds the relationship among these four women. It celebrates and centers around their strong and enduring friendships – although the men in their lives are always changing, the four remain close friends and are always there for each other.

– the four protagonists are all well educated women who are over 30 and career oriented, not solely wives and/or mothers (although some of them do become wives and mothers later on).

– it makes it acceptable and even normal for women to express and pursue sexual desire. Several episodes of SATC talk about female masturbation and different kinds of sex toys, which was revolutionary at the time.

In spite of these points, I do not think that SATC is a feminist show. This isn’t to say that I dislike the show – I definitely enjoy it and there have been times where my girlfriends and I would have SATC marathons. But there are aspects of SATC that make it fundamentally not feminist:

– there is no race/class analysis. Feminism is about recognizing the intersectional nature of oppression and seeing that gender oppression does not stand alone – it is tied to racial oppression, class oppression, and other forms of oppression. All four of the main characters on the show are wealthy, white, (cis-gendered, heterosexual) women. They live extremely comfortable lives that do not reflect the reality of most working women.

– the portrayal of gay men is very neoliberal and whitewashing. Gay identity is co-opted and commodified by mainstream capitalist narratives that equate gayness with fashion and consumerism. The two gay supporting characters: Stanford Blatch and Anthony Marentino (especially Stanford) are portrayed more as accessories to one of the female leads, fulfilling the stereotype of the “gay best friend”, to help every straight girl with fashion, guys, etc. The only representation of the LGBTQ community that SATC offers is the privileged gay elite – wealthy white cisgender men, which is a very limiting and narrow portrayal.

– it is essentially a celebration of capitalism, consumerism and acquisition. And according to Marxist and socialist feminist schools of thought, capitalism is the source of oppression for all women. The SATC characters are always going on shopping sprees especially when it comes to shoes. Manolo Blahniks became a household name because of Carrie and her obsession with them.

– yes the four protagonists are female, and they are well-educated and (for the most part) successful in their careers, but most of their conversations tend to be about men, shopping and/or sex. In one episode when the four are at a diner, Miranda says something along the lines of “We are all well-educated, successful women; why can’t we talk about anything other than men?!” She storms out on her friends and they just continue talking about men.

– it doesn’t challenge the patriarchal gender binary and in some ways even reinforces it. Samantha is known for having sex “like a man”. Because she has casual sex and doesn’t really do relationships, she defies stereotypes of femininity, but instead of being more of an empowered woman, she’s “like a man”. And then, in one episode, Charlotte goes on two separate dates with two separate men in the same night. Her doing so made her “become a man”. But then, she worried about how she’d manage to eat two meals in a row, which made her “become a woman again”.





You can love men AND still be a feminist, Lady Gaga

4 08 2009

Just a few days ago, I wrote about how recently when former model Elle Macpherson was asked if she was a feminist, she dodged the question and spoke about how “the concept of equal rights” doesn’t quite sit well with her.  And then today I saw this interview with Lady Gaga:

Lady Gaga talks about a double standard in the music industry – if a female artist talks about and expresses sexuality in her music, then it’s something that raises eyebrows or criticized as being too raunchy.  Meanwhile if a male artist talks about and expresses sexuality in his music, then it’s normal and even celebrated.

She says:

You see, if I was a guy, and I was sitting her with a cigarette in my hand, grabbing my crotch and talking about how I make music ’cause I love fast cars and fucking girls, you’d call me a rock star. But when I do it in my music and in my videos, because I’m a female, because I make pop music, you’re judgmental, and you say that it is distracting. I’m just a rock star.

Right on – it’s important to highlight these ridiculous double standards.  Women are judged for doing certain things that men are not judged for, and vice versa.  But then when asked if she was a feminist, she responds:

I’m not a feminist – I, I hail men, I love men.  I celebrate American male culture, and beer, and bars and muscle cars.

Ahhh… Way to disappoint, Lady Gaga… Loving men, beer, bars and muscle cars and being a feminist are not mutually exclusive.  The stereotype that feminists are man-hating remains pervasive and persistent.

Lady Gaga’s prior statement about the double standard in the music world is a feminist insight because it highlights the gender inequality in one area of life.  However, her response to the “are you a feminist” question reflects the false belief that feminism is about man-hating.

Sigh… When are people going to get over that idiotic idea?