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Sandberg’s ‘Ban Bossy’ Campaign Undermines Women

13 Mar

Sheryl Sanberg’s new Lean In campaign, ‘Ban Bossy’ is being backed by many strong female celebrities and organizations that operate for the advancement of women (Girl Scouts)

While I love Sandberg’s tenacity, I simply do not agree with ‘Ban Bossy.’

I think it’s absurd to ban a word that is neither gender specific nor insulting.

My boyfriend and friends would describe me as sassy, independent and bossy. It is true: I enjoy being in control and managing others. However there is a difference between “assertiveness” and “aggression” that the campaign fails to distinguish.

I believe girls are strong willed, and ‘Ban Bossy’ underestimates their ability to be go-getters.

The word “bossy” doesn’t discourage female leadership aspiration, environment does.

I have always been a very motivated girl and so needed to adapt a thick skin. There will always be people who say you’re ugly, stupid, or not good enough, how are these any less of a concern for girls than being called bossy?

Not all girls want to be leader.

‘Ban Bossy’ is biased in promoting that society equates leadership and bossiness.

There are countless ways of leading without being domineering. There are infinite ways of being bossy that don’t involve the intent on wanting to lead.

Furthermore, the idea that all girls want to be leaders is ridiculous. I know many people who function better  as part of a team. ‘Ban Bossy’ doesn’t speak on girls finding their voice to assert themselves and be strong women in a communal setting. No, it shames the more shy and less outspoken, suggesting that every girl should strive to be president.

Female “Self-Love”- The New Trend in Pop Culture

28 Feb

Love her or hate her, Miley Cyrus has a knack at pinpointing things in the Zeitgeist and turning them into worldwide trends.

A scantily clad Miley Cyrus on stage in LA, hand on crotch

After making twerking so popular that it found its way into the Oxford dictionary, she debuted a racy video for her new song, “Adore You,” in which she rolls around while making masturbatory gestures.

But Cyrus isn’t the only celebrity giving new meaning to the term “self love.” A couple of months ago, Rihanna was spotted wearing a T-shirt saying ‘D.I.Y.’


Yup, female masturbation is having a another pop culture moment and it’s about time. Still, men tend to have it easier—films such as There’s Something About MaryAmerican Pie, and Don Jon depict it as natural and necessary—and it remains something of a taboo for women.

Which is precisely why provocation-hungry celebs are eager to talk about it. But unlike the riotous, feminist rock stars of the ’80s—such as Blondie and Madonna, who simulated masturbation during performances of “Like a Virgin”—modern provocateurs are presenting self-service as an intimate practice. Instead of seeking out the male gaze, it seems like they’re building an allegiance with womankind. After all, isn’t masturbation social class, age, race, and marital status agnostic?

The shift that has appeared is largely based around an absence of the man: take for example Janet Jackson’s Take Care, where she sings: “I’ll lay here and take care of it ’til you come home to me.” For Jackson, masturbation is a bookmark. The Divinyls’ I Touch Myself– a pro-masturbation anthem if ever there was one – contains the line: “I’d get down on my knees, I’d do anything for you.” When it came out in 1990 it was intrepid. But the song is just as much about giving pleasure as getting it.

In a 2011 interview with CNN, Kathleen Hanna, feminist leader of Bikini Kill and now the Julie Ruin, questioned the purpose of Katy Perry’s sexual presentation on Perry’s 2008 debut single I Kissed A Girl. “The whole thing is like, ‘I kissed a girl so my boyfriend could masturbate about it later,’ said Hanna. “It’s disgusting. It’s exactly every male fantasy of fake lesbian porn.”

Considered alongside a line from the new essay collection by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, Is It My Body? – “The body’s not theirs anymore,” she writes of rock stars. “It’s a public domain and public perception” – the discussion over whom a woman’s pleasure serves seems more relevant than ever.

“Masturbation is true girl power,” says Karley Sciortino, editor of the unapologetic, pro-sex website Slutever. Sciortino believes the current trend was influenced by  groups of young underground women artists who “use their bodies to make sense of their identity.” She also predicts that modern feminism will continue to encourage body reappropriation, and thinks that “discussing masturbation is an important step of this process.”

Delphine Gaudy, co-founder of hip Parisian, women-centric sex shop Dollhouse says part of our disconnect from proper sexual identity is that women usually first encounter porn that wasn’t intended for them—or, as she puts it, images that are “projections of male fantasies onto women.” But the landscape is changing. And instead of selling ultra-phallic shapes, Gaudy stocks her shop with pocketsize gadgets in fun colors intended for “yourself only.”

Personally, I’m pumped artists are bringing awareness and acceptance to a practice that was once seen as shameful (although their ways of alluding to such might not be the best, but hey it’s something right?!).

Beyoncé Redefines Perfection, Sex, and Flawlessness

17 Jan

Beyoncé has been constantly working toward perfection her entire life. She reminds the listener of this frequently over the course of her newest album, BEYONCÉ, with audio clips from her youth, when she competed in pageants and talent shows. She uses this device best as the prelude to “Flawless,” a reworked and expanded version of a song she released earlier this year as “Bow Down/I Been On.” In just four minutes, “Flawless” shifts from a Hit-Boy produced banger celebrating her competitive drive, to an excerpt from a TED Talk by Nigerian feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about how society places limits on the ambitions of women, to a final sequence in which Bey both mocks the idea of effortless beauty and exhorts her female fans to love the way they look.

“I woke up like this, I woke up like this,” she sings with a wink just before delivering the line, “We flawless, ladies tell ‘em!” with zero irony whatsoever. There are a lot of ideas packed into this relatively brief song, and they don’t all add up, but the conflicts in “Flawless” inform everything else on the album.

BEYONCÉ is the work of an artist who is doing her best to make sense of her role as a feminist pop icon, and working out a way to have a positive influence on culture without apologizing for or disowning anything she’s ever done. She’s putting the idea of flawlessness in scare quotes, and attempting to demystify herself so fans can recalibrate their expectations for themselves and envision a form of perfection that’s within their reach.

She’s asking women to be beautiful on their terms, and for themselves. She’s framing ambition and the will to succeed as a greater virtue than simply seeking the attention of men. She’s declaring that women should not be ashamed of loving sex, and asserting that they should be as open about their desires as men. These ideas have always been big part of Beyoncé’s music, but “Flawless” revises and clarifies those thoughts. BEYONCÉ at large is a manifesto in the form of a stylish, creatively adventurous, and resolutely adult R&B record.

10 Music Videos That Pushed Feminism Forward in 2013

9 Dec

It seems that appetite for music videos that buck trends and give overtly empowering messages to women is bigger than ever, and there have been plenty of artists this year who have been doing just that with imagination, strength and humor. Here are 10 music videos that re-framed and re-claimed women’s sexuality and generally gave us good feelings about the place of women in entertainment in 2013.

1. Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu – Q.U.E.E.N.

“Is it peculiar that she twerk in the mirror?” asks the divine Janelle Monae in her tour de force of a video for Q.U.E.E.N., featuring the one and only Erykah Badu. Q.U.E.E.N. is Monae’s anthem not only for women who want to feel like empowered queens, but for absolutely everybody who feels marginalized or ostracized by society. Without directly parodying current music videos, she still manages to make them all seem ridiculous with her tuxedos and 60’s-referencing aesthetic hearkening back to a classier time. “Categorize me,” she dares you at the end of the video in a furious straight-to-camera rap, “I defy every label.”

2. FKA Twigs – Papi Pacify

As Emilie Friedlander wrote wonderfully for The Fader earlier this year, FKA Twigs has been one of the most intriguing artists of 2013 for her subtle yet complex plays on expectations of female beauty (see also: The Water Me video) and sexuality. Here, she creates a video that’s as uncomfortable as it is compelling, as a man’s hands encase her throat and repeatedly thrust into her mouth, all while she keeps her gaze fixed steadily on the audience. She’s overwhelmed physically by his presence, and yet he’s the one out of the frame.

3. Lizzo – Batches and Cookies 

Minneapolis newcomer Lizzo drew a lot of comparisons to Missy Elliott with the release of her video for Batches and Cookies earlier this year, taking the “weird rap” crown with a flagrantly fun clip full of food-based innuendo. She even butters up a man’s torso. Really.

4. The Knife – A Tooth For An Eye 

In this video a young girl enters a male-dominated realm – the gym. Here a group of men of all ages emerge from the locker room as if for a kick about, and in an unexpected turn of events, she leads them in a dance. Her performance is quietly, calmly powerful, and watching the men move themselves in unconventional and delicate ways is captivating.

5. Tirzah – I’m Not Dancing 

Micachu and Tirzah stole 2013 with this video. Together they wrote one of the definitive tunes of the year, with a hook that aggressively deflects the male gaze – or basically any gaze trying to place an explanation on someone else’s self-expression – and a video that shuns most pop video conventions to create something that is plain simple and plain fun. The oversized Ultimate Fighter t-shirt alone says so much about why I love this casual yet powerful video.

6.  Tink – Kilo 

“I’m a self-made bitch, don’t need no fucking hero,” Tink spits ferociously in this stripped-back video for one of her ‘Boss Up’ mixtape stand-outs, Kilo. Whether she’s sitting on a desk in a striped suit and sifting through the dollar bills in her hands, or she’s with her crew rapping to camera in a vest and jeans, Tink is unafraid to thoroughly embrace her femininity – with that high-pitched, nasal flow – while at the same time using the exact same status symbols and posturing as male rappers in her visuals.

7.  Planningtorock – Misogyny Drop Dead 

If the title doesn’t say it all, the funky bassline of the track and the floating mouths of the video make it perfectly clear: performance artist Planningtorock thinks that 2013 is about time the patriarchy basically just got lost. Just as so many women are reduced to disconnected body parts in their music videos, Jam Rostron here floats abstractly as disembodied hands and pouting mouths. But here the emphasis, crucially, is on what those mouths are saying.

8. Solange Knowles – Lovers In The Parking Lot 

Alternative, soft-focus R&B superstar Solange Knowles may or may not be making a comment on the beauty myth as she struts down the cosmetics and wigs aisle of a store in her video for slow jam Lovers In The Parking Lot, but one thing’s for sure: as she dances playfully and unpredictably in front of a wall full of steering wheels, you know she’s the one in control.

9. Brooke Candy – Everybody Does

The message of Everybody Does, according to Brooke Candy, is “fuck standards”. She said that in an interview with Swide magazine earlier this year, in which she also defiantly referred to herself as a feminist with the explanation, “I feel like women, I say it in my songs, are still sexually enslaved in our minds. Still now, I get called a slut…There should be no double standards and I feel like men and woman are equal and should be treated as that.” However you respond to the confrontational sexuality of Candy’s video, then, it’s clear that the intention behind it is to harness and deploy the power of the female body rather than to demean it. Either way, I’d be pretty terrified to disagree with her.

10. Nicki Minaj talking about Kendrick’s ‘Control’ verse 

Alright, this isn’t a music video, but seriously, skip ahead to three minutes, 50 seconds and just listen to Nicki Minaj’s take on why Kendrick Lamar didn’t mention her in his controversial verse where he called out every rapper from Drake to ASAP Rocky. In her words: “Maybe he’s one of those respectful gentlemen that probably felt like, ‘I don’t want to say a female’s name’…[But] I’m the queen of New York, I’m the king of New York. Let me tell you why. Platinum albums; albums. Plural. Number one in five motherfuckin’ countries.” Enough said.

Movies I Love: Thelma & Louise-The Last Great Frontier for Women Protagonists

25 Nov

I first viewed Thelma & Louise in a screenwriting class I took in college. I became immediately enthralled with the production because I had never become so emotionally attached to any character in a film before. But why? What makes this movie so unique?

I found that it was much more than a female version of the classic road film. Thelma & Louise really takes on a feminist perspective as the two women (played by Susan Sarandon & Geena Davis) leave behind their daily lives in order to find adventure and freedom from societal and patriarchal constraints. The actual road in this film along with their quintessential Barbie convertible represents their ticket to freedom. Both women find themselves in unhappy relationships and depend on each other for the only good and solid relationship yet experienced.

Gaining authority throughout the film through the unfortunate, yet encouraged use of guns and violence, these women take charge and enter what normally on the screen is viewed as male behavioral characteristics. Thelma and Louise become confident, assertive, and fearless for the first time.  This sharply contrasts the other road films where men narrate,and women are visual stimuli, or sexual objects the merely meet along the way. I think feminism in relation to this film presents itself in the spacial equality between men and women in terms of what both genders are able/expected to do, in personal characteristics, actions, and lifestyles. Feminism give women agency to step outside their culturally created gender roles and perhaps take on a job or activity or lifestyle that is not traditionally “female”, and thus allows for the freedom of choice, which is what I think is the core of this film.

However, the film also recognizes them as outlaws who must be punished  in someway for their deviant behavior–that  the “wild” woman” will not be met without consequence. Some critics think this counteracts the freedom and feminist ideals that the film was promoting all along.However, the suicide is the women asserting their freedom and claiming themselves; Thus they are no longer bound to submit to the law, to men, to their suppressors. I find this so empowering.

Since the original release  in 1991,the 20th anniversary of the film was met with a panel discussion of how far women had come twenty years later. “This movie would never get made today,” sighed one of the panelists, and the audience members murmured their assent. It’s shocking enough that it was distributed in 1991, but at least back then American women were experiencing something like momentum: Anita Hill stood up for herself at Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings, Callie Khouri won an Oscar, and, when four women were simultaneously elected to the United States Senate, 1992 was dubbed the “Year of the Woman.”

Thelma and Louise 2

Alec Baldwin Denies Relationship with Canadian Actress

12 Nov


Alec Baldwin testified Tuesday that he never had a sexual or romantic relationship with Canadian actress, Genevieve Sabourin, accused of stalking him, saying that after they met she began leaving dozens of voicemails for him a night and eventually started threatening to show up at his homes.

The “30 Rock” star said at the Manhattan trial of the woman, that he had a meal with her at a friend’s request, gave her an email address and phone number and later communicated with her about acting classes.

She began to barrage him with as many as 30 voicemails per night and hundreds of emails that started out as lovelorn and pleading, Baldwin said. They escalated into ominous threats to insinuate herself into his now-wife’s yoga class and to come to his homes, even as he implored her to stop and threatened to call authorities, according to Baldwin.

“It was nightmarish,” he said.

Sabourin had some outbursts as he testified, including: “You’re lying!”

Sabourin says she and Baldwin had a 2010 tryst and a two-way exchange of emails. Her lawyer, Todd Spodek, has said Sabourin wasn’t stalking the actor, just seeking closure after he stopped talking to her.

The Oscar-nominated Baldwin and Sabourin, who has appeared in Canadian movies and TV shows, met when he had a cameo and she was a publicist for the 2002 sci-fi comedy “The Adventures of Pluto Nash.”

Fast-forward to April 2012, when Sabourin was arrested outside Baldwin’s Manhattan apartment building.

Baldwin got engaged to and married the former Hilaria Thomas in 2012, after they began dating the year before. They had a daughter, Carmen, this past August.

Hilaria Baldwin also is expected to testify.

Sabourin faces 20 counts of harassment, and is seeking restitution for her “ruined reputation” against false accusations.

Have Weddings & Marriage Lost Their Allure?

4 Nov

The prospect of walking down the aisle at a white wedding has long been portrayed as every little girl’s dream…


But a wide-ranging study of children’s attitudes to life has found that today’s girls are increasingly skeptical about the idea of marriage – in stark contrast to boys.

Polling for the Girl Guides found that only a small minority view finding a husband as a mark of success and less than half of girls still see marriage as the “best” kind of relationship.

Their skepticism about marriage comes in marked contrast with more traditional attitudes displayed by boys who continued to view it as an aspiration.

The findings emerged from an annual study by Girl Guiding UK, tracking the opinions of more than 1,000 girls and young women aged seven to 21 on a range of subjects from politics to the family and education.

While most of the girls viewed the institution of marriage in a positive light, only 46 per cent saw it as the “best” kind of relationship and 29 per cent actively disagreeing.

Meanwhile seven per cent of girls thought it would be better not to get married at all.

By contrast 56 per cent of boys polled saw marriage as the best kind of relationship.

Overall only one in five girls viewed getting married as a mark of success in life, while 56 percent cited being confident and independent.

It seems girls value family and marriage but they clearly do not see this as the absolute definition of success. This saddens me because I have come to see a wedding and marriage as a beautiful ceremony, not because of the perfect dress or extravagant trappings, but because it should be a joyous celebration of me finding my soul mate that I want to share with family and friends.  It’s disappointing that all this has lost its significance.

It was once one of the three nodal significances of life: birth, marriage and death, and, in the days before women stepped out of man’s shadow, it signified a young woman’s leaving the shelter of her home on the arm of her father to move to the care and protection of her husband. An impossibly romantic conceit today when woman has won her freedom from the male, but for me a loss all the same. But what could be the cause of this shift?

I never pressured myself when it came to choosing a suitor in the marriage department. I’m young, naive, and frankly, just want to have fun. It used to be frowned upon for women to be single….and in their mid-twenties nonetheless! However today, being single is more prized, and seemingly more women have a repertoire that includes bars, clubs, city escapades, and bars, or “living” as some call it.

I’ve always loved weddings. I can’t exactly describe why, but I find myself lost in the aura and magic of shows like “David Tutera Unveiled”, “Four Weddings”, and of course, “Say Yes to the Dress.” I’m now at the point in my life and relationship where I finally am yearning for that special day, and I will do everything I can to solidify the meaning of love and unconditional commitment, although I know it might go a little like this….

Me: But gray tuxes are appropriate because [insert some made up fashion rule about colors and time of year and or/location].
Him: but I always pictured myself wearing a black tux on my wedding day.
Me: (starting to look upset) But [insert irrelevant person] knows colors and she thinks gray would look better with the wedding color scheme.
Hi : Ok fine, gray.