Caster Semenya is fast and strong and far from dainty. When it came to light last week that an athletic organization was secretly testing her sex, the sports world and mainstream media got a refresher course on an important reality: while our society tries to strictly divide people in male and female, the science of sex is far more murky.
South African Semenya is shaping up to be one of the fastest runners in the world, but if the International Association of Athletic Federations' (IAAF) forced battery of tests (including a gynecological exam) find she's too "male", she could be stripped of her medals. The IAAF stopped mandating the outdated sex tests for athletes back in 1992 and the reasons for testing Semenya range from fairness to racism, depending on who you ask.
Over at the Huffington Post, Jane Devin points out that males whose genetics make them sports stars are groomed and applauded, not subjected to embarrassing tests. You have to ask—if Semenya had thinner shoulders and a more delicate chin, would her competitor's allegations ("Just look at her," sniped a fifth-place finisher at a recent race) be given legitimacy for even a second? I think not.
Today I bring you another burning question from the mailbag:
From a reader who wished to remain nameless: Outdoor Sex: pro or con? as an outdoorsy-girl, I always fantasized about doing it in a big field, but each time I've tried it, I've been poked in weird places with odd plants and bumps (even through a blanket & sleeping pad), or stressed about potential hikers, or something else. It's just never been as good as I'd hoped. What about you? Good question! I like the outdoors, and I like sex. Are they two great tastes that taste great together?
A few days ago I was chatting with my dad about our various writing projects.
Dad: You know how you've been writing about Quentin Tarantino?
Dad: You know he used to work in a video store?
Dad: And you used to work in a video store?
Dad: Well there you go.
Well there I go. Once upon a time Quentin Tarantino worked in a video store – and so did I.
Today I write about pop culture, and Tarantino makes it.
There you go.
Tarantino's latest film also begins "Once upon a time . . ." and as to be expected, reactions to his "movie movie universe" movie, Inglourious Basterds, are once again as mixed as his genre conventions.
Though I didn't explicitly say so in my recent threepartpost here for Bitch exploring the question of feminism in Tarantino's work, I'm a fan – a cautious, conscientious fan, who recognizes that his work is problematic on many levels. For me, the combination of the issues in his work, and the visceral pleasure of the movie experiences he creates, presents a conflict that is worth exploring. Additionally, and I think this is crucial to my experience and interpretation of his work, he is a movie-maker of, and pop culture influence on, my generation. Pulp Fiction is as much a marker in my life as Star Wars, Goonies, or Trainspotting, Wonder Woman, 90210, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Tarantino and I may not have grown up watching the same movies, regardless of our once-upon-a-time employ, but his work has led me to his influences, which in turn have furthered and enriched my relationship to popular culture.
Sackville-West was a woman with 'high class' problems — but her story
is interesting nonetheless. Vita was, in addition to her default
socialite status, a writer of prose and poetry, an avid gardener,
Bloomsbury Group associate and lover to quite a few women — the most
famous being, of course, Virginia Woolf. (More after the jump!)
I don't imagine many of you are Dollhouse viewers, not least because the new series by Joss Whedon of Buffy and Angel fame had a rocky ride of a first season. If you gave up on him, I have a new mantra for you: Joss is always worth the trouble. Joss identifies as a feminist, and indeed, before anybody scoffs or points to Buffy's short skirts or what have you, I encourage you to read this.
That said, Dollhouse ain't perfect, on feminist or any other grounds, frankly. I only managed to stick it out through its initial rough patch on faith alone. See, Fox forced Joss to retool the show and rearrange some plot development early on. This led to some awfully confusing early episodes in which the network's desire to sell the show as Sexy! seemed at odds with Joss's own plans. The premise of the show being a brothel staffed by people who have, literally, had personality lobotomies, this isn't just in bad taste - it is bad marketing.
With her small, engaging eyes and enchanting disposition, Hello Kitty has cemented herself as a timeless merchandising icon. Her round face brandishes pencils, backpacks, socks, shoes, toasters, bicycles, computers, and everything else under the moon. You maybe very good friends with Hello Kitty, or you may curse the cute sidewalk she skips along.
Familiar as you are with Hello Kitty, have you ever met her mother? Would you know Hello Kitty's queen illustrator if she walked down the street? Would you recognize her illustrations? In fact, do you even know who made Hello Kitty? Well, allow me to introduce you to queen momma of cute Ms. Yuko Shimizu.
Here's a shocker: when you start dating your boyfriend thirty seconds after he leaves his wife, the woman who carried his eight children, he might not be sticking around with you for very long. You might also be surprised when, as his divorce is being talked about everywhere from websites, to TV shows, to our podcast and oh, right, on his reality show that perhaps maybe, just maybe, you, as the lady who decided to date this man, might be dragged through the mud along with him when his divorce from his wife and subsequent fall from A-#1 Super Dad status gets ugly. It was a fantastic idea to date him in the first place, don't get me wrong. I mean, as a "journalist" for Star Magazine who was supposed to be covering the shitstorm that is Jon and Kate Gosselin's life right now, you definitely did not overstep any boundaries by being with him in the first place. And yes, you should absolutely go on E!, Inside Edition and The CBS Early Show and let all of us know how he "totally screwed (you) over and acted like a dirtbag". Maybe, you know, you shouldn't have believed him when he said he would be with you forever. This is a man who started seeing you when he was still married. Perhaps, and this is just me rambling here, you shouldn't go on TV and get upset about how you broke up and are now having to deal with the aftermath. This is douchey behavior. Yes, Jon Gosselin's behavior was douchey, as well, absolutely, but you cannot fight douchebaggery with douchebaggery, you know what I'm sayin'?
Last week many of you contributed enlightening responses to my two part poston women directors and provided useful suggestions on we can do to ensure that Hollywood supports women producers, screenwriters, and directors. Thank you!
Since then, I've been thinking about what can we do to get Hollywood to do a better job of representing women in film as leading characters. And I'm curious – as consumers of culture, do we, in general, read books more than we go out to watch movies (at least mainstream movies)? And if this is so, wouldn't Hollywood be wise to make greater efforts to adapt books to film?
Should we help them out by making a list of books featuring women we admire, women who have inspired and moved us, and made us think about the world differently? I mean, though I can't speak for everyone, and I do occasionally loves me some gratuitous explosions, I'm fairly certain that an adaptation of Eat, Pray, Love is going to get more women in theater seats than say, G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra.