Every year, I see multiple pleas from concerned mothers (rarely fathers, because (straight) fathers rarely take on emotional labor of child rearing) wondering what to do about the pile of pink plastic that just came into their home. It’s such a scary pile. It whispers, “come here, little girl… let go of your individuality, your power, your freedom. Join me in the glamour and popularity of gendered subordinate dehumanized servitude… everybody’s doing it… first one’s free….” Mothers (well, the ones who pay attention) look at that pile and see a desolate road ahead of princess girls who grow into teens that think they need to look like pornified sex kittens, who grow into young adults that think it’s ok for men to treat them like sex objects, and on into a bleak dystopian future of internalized misogyny.
I can’t promise that I’ve come up with a magic formula to prevent all that. After all, our girls are met with a barrage, a deluge, of toxic messages luring them down that path in every movie, TV show, magazine, billboard, and media around them. Even female meteorologists can’t just wear suits or have short hair or look plump. And none of my strategies will work if family members are modeling that females should try to please the “male gaze.” So I am not offering a magic bullet. All the same, here is how I handled the Pink Plastic Menace – as usual, a joint effort with my sister Tallessyn Grenfell-Lee.
Continue reading “Help, My Daughter Got a Bunch of Princess Stuff for Christmas! by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”
Once she believed that
it was her fault
they came on to her,
that she owed them
They owned her?
girl was pleased
because any kind of attention
was better than none,
or being so “different” –
stitched into an Indian skin.
She was a pretty shell,
an abandoned spiral
worn down by waves –
assaulted from within
by the pornographic gaze.
How she hated being young. Continue reading “Crow and The Pornographic Gaze by Sara Wright”
I was not paying full attention when I heard a news report on CNN saying that archaeologists had uncovered an “ancient erotic fresco” in Pompeii. Hmm, I thought to myself, this story deserves further investigation.
I had heard whispers about frescoes that only men were allowed to see when I visited Pompeii as a student years ago. I now know that these were idealized pornographic wall paintings in brothels of handsome young men engaging with beautiful prostitutes in variety of sexual positions. In real life prostitutes in Pompeii were slaves who worked in appalling conditions in dark, dank, windowless cells. No doubt many of their customers were unwashed toothless dirty old men.
The fresco in the news turned out to be an image of the rape of the Spartan queen Leda by Zeus disguised as a swan; it was found in a bedroom of a house or villa in Pompeii. Continue reading “This Is What Rape Culture Looks Like: Then and Now by Carol P. Christ”
I saw an interesting headline the other day entitled: “Olympic Gymnast Hits Back at Body-Shaming.” I immediately thought, “Wow not again.” The fact that body-shaming is even an expression is a disheartening commentary on the society we live in today. Women’s bodies have long been the subject of casual objectification in our culture and in the media. The fact that people think it’s ok to comment on a woman’s body, in whatever fashion pleases them, blows my mind. Not only is it disrespectful, but it comes from the problematic way society equates a woman’s worth with her beauty.
People have diverse ideas of beauty, and different cultures value different physical qualities, but this does not mean that those who don’t live up to the ideal should be shamed. In the article, Gymnast Aly Raisman relates an experience at an airport where a female employee recognized her and mentioned one of the reasons was “because of her muscles.” A male colleague then stated “Muscles? I don’t see any muscles” and “continued to stare” making Raisman feel uncomfortable. She then took to twitter to relay the events stating: “I work very hard to be healthy and fit. The fact that a man thinks he can judge my arms pisses me off. I am so sick of this judgmental generation.” Continue reading “Tall Order by Sarah Kiefer”
Any woman who has eaten a big holiday meal with her family or had a weekend brunch with girlfriends has probably heard the following words: “I’m so bad, but I’m going to order…” or “I shouldn’t, but…” or “I’m being good; I skipped dessert.” Foods and the recipes in cookbooks marketed towards women are described as “sinfully delicious,” especially if they are low-carb, or low-fat, or low-sugar. “Sinfully delicious” diet food can be enjoyed “without the guilt.” Further marking the matrix of food, women, and “bad” behavior or sin, is the intimate relationship between food, women, and sex. Recent Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s commercials feature swimsuit model Kate Upton making out with – nearly making love to – a hamburger. This love scene takes place in a convertible, at a drive-in, the classic site of American, teenage, illicit sex. The take-out bag is used as a prop to conceal Upton’s vagina, as she spreads her legs for the camera. Another commercial, for Lay’s potato chips, features a women biting her lip while she slowly peels open the bag, set to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”
A seeming contradiction emerges between these two discourses: one that persists within and between women, who are expected to be on a diet and who speak, and are spoken to, about food in terms of morality, “good” and “bad.” At the same time, women eating, especially eating greasy, fatty, comfort food, as long as these women are thin and attractive, has become a quintessential symbol for sex, and is used most particularly to market food to men. Continue reading ““Eating Our Words” Decoupling Women’s Eating Habits from the Language of Sin: Part 1 by Stefanie Goyette”