Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a lecture given by Mary Roach. Many of you have probably read her books Bonk and Stiff, and thus you know she is a thorough researcher whose tastes run a bit on the weird side. As she put it, she likes to cover topics that combine "history, science, and some gross stuff." The lecture I attended was on her latest book, Packing for Mars, and the subject matter definitely fits the bill. Pooping in space, anyone?
There are many reasons not to get involved with someone who is otherwise monogamously committed to another person. It's not because you're a slut destined to ever be unhappy, or because you're betraying some sisterhoodly duty to prevent someone else's man-child from betraying her. It is, however, because, regardless of what your relationship or dating goals are, you're likely setting yourself up for failure (and a whole raft of shit, which you know if you've been reading comment thread).
I view pop culture criticism as a vehicle to talk about structural issues. And so, it seems, do a lot of feminists. A lot of discussions about pop culture in feminist spaces bring up the fact that the messages in our media can be harmful. People internalize what they use as entertainment. When a song contains misogynist lyrics, for example, it's not just upsetting because the content is personally offensive. It's indicative of a social problem.
This is one reason why anti-feminists really don't like feminist critiques of pop culture; because they challenge social structures and the attitudes that reinforce them. People who don't view rape as a bad thing are naturally going to resist critiques addressing depictions of rape in pop culture, for example. People who think that abortion should be banned are going to kick and scream when feminists evaluate shows that discuss reproductive rights issues. And so forth.
Sadly, $pread, the all volunteer-run quarterly written by and for sex workers, posted yesterday that they can no longer sustain their magazine:
We regret to inform you that...$pread will close its glittery doors soon after the dawn of the New Year...We apologize for those of you who have only recently come to know us, and to all our longtime supporters. After all these years, five all-volunteer years to be exact, we have come to the conclusion that an all-volunteer magazine is simply unsustainable in the current publishing climate. Short of a donation of $30,000, we will be unable to sustain the magazine past January.
Fat women's sexuality is often joked about, and when it's not being joked about, it's being vilified. As fat women we get the cultural messages that convince us no one would want us sexually in the state we're in; mass media reinforces these ideas by portraying fat women's sexuality in a mocking way or as distasteful and unappealing. The almost violent pushback against any positive image of fat female sexuality is at once disturbing and also understandable. Understandable because in a society that views fat women's bodies as disgusting and their selves unworthy of love, any media that challenges that deeply ingrained belief is dangerous and can be the source of much cognitive dissonance if the portrayal happens to stir some kind of sexual attraction in the consumer.
I would be remiss in talking about pushback against intersectional critiques of pop culture without discussing my long and tormented relationship with the Fox hit Glee. To put it bluntly, I hate Glee.
Yet, a lot of feminists, including some of the staff here at Bitch, love Glee. The show is regularly celebrated on feminist sites, people post videos of their favorite moments, and everyone likes to talk about how great it is.
The reason I don't like Glee is pretty simple: The show has some of the most horrifically troped depictions of people with disabilities I have ever seen. The show's also been criticized for having a lot of problems when it comes to race and gay teens, but I want to focus on the disability aspect today, because the critiques of this show from the disability community have been universally ignored by the feminist community when it's not busy dismissing them.
While the decision to paralyze Barbara Gordon was certainly a misogynistic one, the way that her character develops after the shooting speaks to the transformative power of information and technology...and librarians! Last week we looked at Barbara Gordon's character prior to The Killing Joke. She was a librarian by day and Batgirl by night. Her role as a librarian disguised her alter ego as Batgirl; reasserting the stereotype of librarians as meek and the opposite of badass. But this all changes after The Killing Joke. Thanks to a few writers who decided to make the best of what had happened to Gordon, Gordon's character decides to embrace her identity as a skilled librarian. She becomes Oracle, a computer hacker who discovers that access to information is a pretty phenomenal superpower.
It's time again! We're rounding up some of the most interesting things we read this week in another edition of On Our Radar!
Muslimah Media Watch's Ayaan Hassan introduces us to the latest character from the Marvel Comics Universe: Faiza Hussain, a British Muslim super heroine!
SKM ponders why Google didn't have a doodle to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the 19th Ammendment on Shakesville.
One for the bookmarks: our fabulous TelevIsm blogger RMJ offers a great primer on cis, cissupremacy, and cissexism on Deeply Problematic.
The title says it all: Sandip Roy writes on "Why 'Eat, Pray, Love' Makes Me Want to Gag" on Alternet.
Gwen Sharp uses a karate studio's rejected advertisement featuring the gender policing of a young boy as a springboard to discuss the murky world of "unofficial/unreleased ad campaigns" on Sociological Images.
Gebe Martinez, Ann Garcia, and Jessica Arons look at the "birthright citizenship debate" as a "thinly veiled attack on immigrant mohers" at the Center for American Progress. Take a look at Michelle Chen's piece on Colorlines for more about the debate.
Amy Larocca profiles figure skater Johnny Weir for New York Magazine.
Spoiler Alert: Carrie Polansky reviews the gender politics of the new film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on Gender Across Borders.
Find something that piqued your interest this week? Leave it in the comments section!