It's pretty much limited to reruns on the Style Network now, but when it was on ABC, one of my favorite shows to watch was Extreme Makeover. The show was hardcore; when they said "extreme" they meant it. From nose jobs to liposuction and body "resculpting" to butt implants, boob implants, tooth veneers and LASIK, they will turn your "ugly" into an artificially constructed version of what society deems attractive. For the fat participants on the show, an extreme weight loss plan was constructed that the participants had to complete to qualify for the plastic surgery procedures they so desperately needed. Besides the whole "carrot and stick" factor to the weight loss programs, they didn't particularly revolutionize the participant's eating and exercise habits for the long term, and if they didn't lose all the fat they were required to, they'd pretty much just liposuck that away.
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.