In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

Filming Against Odds: Undocumented Youth “Come Out” With Their Dreams

By Anne Galisky, cross-posted at On The Issues Magazine.

“Papers”is the story of undocumented youth and the challenges they face as they turn 18 without legal status. More than two million undocumented children live in the U.S. today, most with no path to obtain citizenship. These are youth who were born outside the U.S. and yet know only the U.S. as home. The film highlights five undocumented youth who are “American” in every sense but their legal paperwork.

Well, okay, out of context it does look a little silly.

A man poses coyly next to a bicycle like a vintage pin-up
Totally sexy, right?

Sexy images are sexy, right? Okay, bad question–sexy images are subjective. But sexy images are supposed to be sexy. To someone, anyway. It turns out that without that air of objectification, sexy images are… kind of weird, frankly.*

We’ve seen how Batman just isn’t quite the same in bustier and cocked hip. And now photographer Rion Sabean shows us that a gender-bent approach to the classic pin-up girl loses something in translation. Could it be that photographers back in the day–and right now, frankly–portrayed “sexy” with coy, nonthreatening, ultrafeminine poses? No way, right? Discuss. (See the whole “Men-ups” set on Flickr. I like Mr. December, but then I’ve always been partial to the mountain-man beard.)

Next up in the “you know, it seemed to work in the magazine” category is artist Yolanda Dominguez, who “works from what is disquieting”–in this case, the awkward and uncomfortable poses that are apparently meant to be sexy on fashion models in magazines.

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Watch how you watch yourself.

Swedish photojournalist Moa Karlberg says her “Watching You Watch Me” project is “an effort to create debate laws and ethics within the photographer’s role.” She shoots unsuspecting subjects through a one-way mirror, catching their expressions as they think they’re looking only at themselves.

What gets me about the photos isn’t the ethical question of shooting someone secretly-in-public, but the subjects’ expressions as they see their reflections. I don’t see a single photo on Karlberg’s site that shows a person happy with what they see. There seems to be a lot of standard downtrodden-and-overworked–and God knows I’ve looked into the occasional storefront to see the last eight hours at the office staring blearily back at me–but there’s also a lot of what looks to me like disapproving cut-eye, dismay, and even disgust.

I know I’m guilty. When I get dressed to go out, I look myself in the mirror and tell myself how awesome I look. Then when I actually go out, in my mind, I look like Charlize Theron. (Note that I’m a 5’7″ redhead, making that particular fantasy particularly unrealistic.) And then when that inevitable moment comes during the evening when I have to go pee, I look in the bathroom mirror and observe with shock that I actually look like me. Usually, at that point, a rather shiny-looking me with mascara under her eyes. And my expression is probably something like picture #8 on Karlberg’s site.

Obviously, no one should be expected to perform any emotion, even for oneself, and sometimes you just don’t feel like smiling. But y’all, don’t glare at yourself in mirrors, store windows, and the sides of cars. It sucks when strangers do it to you; you should at least be able to expect better behavior from yourself. Unless you’re looking like #14, who looks to me like he could be saying, “Now there is one sexy bitch. What’s up, stud” and then making tiger noises at himself.

So next time you pass a mirrored surface, look into it and make tiger noises at yourself–not because there might be a voyeuristic, camera-toting Swede on the other side, but because you’re on this side. And if there is a Swedish photojournalist on the other side, you probably just made her day.

What I mean when I talk about movies that bore the everloving shit out of me.

For some masochistic reason, I ended up watching the trailer for The Art of Getting By today.

Here’s the official synopsis:

THE ART OF GETTING BY stars Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as George, a lonely and fatalistic teen who’s made it all the way to his senior year without ever having done a real day of work, who is befriended by Sally (Emma Roberts — Scream 4), a beautiful and complicated girl who recognizes in him a kindred spirit.

Now, I didn’t read the synopsis before I watched the trailer, and here is a more or less liveblog of my thoughts.

George doesn’t do any work, because it’s stupid and pointless. He wears black and is alienated. He doodles in his notebook. Some older brother/friend/mentor decides these doodles are genius. Freddie ends up in an art class with a beardy old teacher. There is a problem, because Freddie doesn’t have anything to say. He needs to FIND something to say.

(I bet he will meet a lady)

(cue music)

Enter a lady! She is very pretty. We know she is cool, because she wears black and white stripes, like a French person. She will inspire Freddy! She will help him find something to say, as they have school-skipping (whoa, rebellious!) adventures in New York City (of course) and he will develop a huge NiceGuy crush on her but pretend to be just her friend until his older brother/mentor decides to put the moves on her (gross!) and then he will be angrysad and do some lonely cinematic walking and then he will dig down and be inspired and make some Real Art from his manpain. (P.S. The heroine is described as “complicated” in the movie synopsis, which is usually code for “has some kind of mental illness or emotional problem” and also sometimes code for “sleeps with older men” or “men other than our dweeby hero”- aka – Manic Pixie Dream Girl).

Chances that his Great Art project is a painting of her?

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Hey Hey

Of course it’s 2:30 in the morning and I’m just starting my guest blogging stint. I’ve been excited about this for weeks, so I hope I’m not off to a bad start! Unfortunately, I’m not really around a computer much during the day so most of my posts will be late at night – please bear with!

Okay, I’ll introduce myself. Hi! I’m Kate Goldwater, I’m an eco-friendly, feminist, fashion designer and store owner. I own a recycled clothing store in the East Village called AuH2O (Au= Gold, H2O= water, get it?) where we sell vintage and secondhand clothing and accessories along with my upcycled designs. If my name sounds familiar it may be because Jill has plugged my art, my fashion shows, my Obama clothing, and my business many times over the years. I remember being at a party once and an acquaintance said to me, “You get name-checked on Feministe a lot” and I was so unbelievably flattered. And now I get a chance to write here!

I’ll be posting about owning a business, fashion, art, sustainability, biking, maybe Burning Man and definitely the Women’s World Cup. I’d really wanted my first post to be about how the US Women’s National Team winning the World Cup was going to revitalize Women’s Professional Soccer, but ah well, the runner’s up will still slightly revitalize. I’ll also probably link to my blog, my business partner Cheap JAP‘s blog, and my friend’s sustainable eating blog since they’re worth checking out.

As for comments, I won’t be at a computer to moderate since I spend my days out stocking for my store (read about it here! “Oh man she’s just going to self-promote the whole time,” that’s what you’re thinking. I swear I won’t, this is just an introduction), so my policy will be that all comments are fair game. Though I’d like it if you were nice!

Thanks so much to Jill and the Feministe crew for having me!

How to talk about Judas

This is a guest post by honeyandlocusts.
It’s pretty classic Gaga, if we can talk about “classic” Gaga already: visually lush, intricately choreographed, fantastically costumed. Also, it’s a total fucking mess.

Not Another Odd Future Think Piece: Rap, the Internet and Female Agency

This is a guest post by B Michael Payne. B Michael Payne writes about a variety of things. He has a weekly thing at, a website, and he’s probably tumblogging here, right now. You can email him at b dot michael dot payne at gmail dot com.

*Sexual assault and violence trigger warning.*

There are a lot of people who refuse to buy (rent, lease, or even attend an open house for) the hype on internet rap (defined broadly as any rap that mentions Facebook in its songs). For the most part, I’d agree with this stance. But right now, it’s not a good one.

For one, if you’re the type of person who’s ‘on the internet,’ then internet rap is going to/already has bubbled into your life. For two, you’d miss some interesting (and even good) rap. For three, you’d also miss what appears to be an eruption of social intersections that are probably even more interesting than the music itself.

Why, after all, are there so many Odd Future think pieces?

Before getting into that, it’s worth looking at how Brandon Soderberg has been patiently chronicling some of the more salient intersections among rap, r&b, rape, misogyny, and homophobia series of columns on Spin. His piece on Rainbow Noise’s “Imma Homo” picks up the perhaps most important idea on why the song is powerful (it’s because it’s good). Soderberg’s hypothesis that r&b is veering toward the ‘too rape-y’ whereas rap is owning up to its own terribleness seems to hold water, until a conversation with Racialicious‘s Latoya Peterson starts to pick apart the idea by asking wither the interests of women in rap’s ostensibly ‘better’ songs.

That that hasn’t been the question hanging over the entire discussion is, of course, the discussions biggest flaw from the start. You know, “that’s a pretty bad way to start a conversation,” in the words of Kanye.
In the above piece, Peterson calls songs underlain by rape culture ones in which “the artists are removing agency from the woman and putting their desires at the forefront.” That’s, of course, a formula for a variety of oppressions. What’s striking about it is that it’s also a laconic way of describing the entire aesthetic and ethic of Odd Future’s, like, whole deal.

The inherent importance of removing the woman’s agency is also — perhaps interestingly? — why people either really like or dislike a lot of Odd Future’s songs.

[As a note, Odd Future (né Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, hereafter OF) are (I’m now, like, internet-contractually bound to say) a close-knit, eleven-person hip-hop collective based out of Los Angeles, California. They feature a lost member (recently located) who calls himself Earl Sweatshirt and is precocious and now seventeen years old; a gay woman, Syd tha Kid, who produces a good number of their songs but rarely graces any of them, vocally; and a charismatic leader, Tyler, The Creator, who’s recently turned twenty, is 6’2″, and boasts a deep, raspy voice that seems like it was almost divinely intended to be good at rapping. They’re very popular ‘on the internet,’ and with a pair of breathless profiles in the New York Times, they’re going to be popular in whatever ‘not the internet’ represents, very soon.]

When people mention OF, what they usually mean is Tyler, The Creator and/or Earl Sweatshirt. The two of them’s songs seem to have generated the majority of their press. Their raps tend to focus (being somewhat general, here) on the most extreme rape and kidnap fantasies that’ve made the group an instantaneously incandescent hot topic on the internet. Not that there isn’t violence and homophobia elsewhere on OF’s thirteen (fourteen? fifteen?) internet-only releases, but that really is par for the course when it comes, not just to rap music, but pop music (and classical music and opera and… well, all of culture, unfortunately).

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New Time Suck

etsy floral print

Pinterest. Basically, it’s an electronic pin-board, where you can save images that you like and share them with others. You can also search images for themes you like. I’m using it to consolidate apartment-decorating ideas — like the picture above of magnolias printed on the page of a dictionary, which I recently purchased from Etsy. But it’s generally a nice place to peruse pretty things. Enjoy!