I'm going to warn you right away: it was a douchey kind of week. In my time at Bitch, we've never had so many options to choose from for our Douchebag Decree. Lindsay picked the clear winner, but we've had several other happenings On Our Radar:
The Ivy League should win some special sort of prize for consistency in douchebaggery. This week, a Columbia a capella group is in hot water for adverts that pictured one of its members above the tagline "Rape Me."
A Texas high school cheerleader was kicked off her squad for refusing to cheer for the boy who sexually assaulted her. (The Caroline Heldman article has a lengthy comments section, for further reading...)
If you happen to follow me on Tumblr, my obsession with Alison Mosshart is no secret. The witchy-haired singer/guitarist/all-around rock superheroine from The Kills and The Dead Weather probably occupies more space on my Tumblr than anyone aside from David Bowie and Paul Simonon of the Clash (about both of whom, more later). Videos after the jump!
Seducing and then dispatching her rapists (I Spit on Your Grave), tempting horny teenage boys before killing them (Jennifer's Body), getting even with all the boys who ruined her life in high school by becoming sexy and then killing them (Tamara), having a real-life vagina dentate to defend against male rapists (Teeth), becoming sexy and sexual right before she starts killing men. (Ginger). What do all these storylines have in common? They've been touted as feminist because they star a woman who fights and kills her oppressors (see Carol J. Clover's interviewees in Men, Women, and Chainsaws). Personally though, women being depicted as so powerless that the only way they can fight against their oppressors is by using sex is not my idea of a feminist film.
The creators of HBO's Big Love have just announced that the fifth season, which begins airing in January, will be the series' last. It's hard to greet this news with anything but relief; the last, abbreviated season of the show was something of a mess, with a subplots, I kid you not, about Mexican grindhouses and genetic engineering that exceeded any reasonable person's suspension of disbelief. But until that point the show was probably the all-time best case study I can think of for the phenomenon I've been trying to document in this space: the strange fact that the premise of any television show is almost irrelevant as the basis of any critique, because the key to doing a good job of depicting women is about execution, not playing to type.
Big Love after all, has pretty much the mother (ha!) of all potentially anti-feminist dramatic premises. The Henricksons' is not a world where patriarchy is implicit, or simply the product of social arrangements that have been handed down through the ages. It is one in which a very literal form of patriarchy has actually been chosen by the characters, even though other alternatives were available. The head of the family, Bill (Bill Paxton) has come actually kind of late to his firm belief in the righteousness of the Principle of plural marriage, after having been expelled from a polygamous compound as a young man. His wives, Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), Nicki (Chloe Sevigny) and Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) are not constrained by law or social custom to agree with Bill on that point. Throughout the show, it's made clear that all three remain in the marriage willingly, although their own personal relationships to the Principle range from ambivalent (Barb) to largely emotional (Margene) to almost entirely inherited (Nicki).
As far as human emotions go, if the 2004 elections were about fear and the 2008 elections about hope, it seems fair to say that the 2010 midterm elections have been about anger. Anger at the government for what's perceived as a weak economy. Anger at Congress, either for not getting enough done, or for turning the country into a cesspool of socialism, depending on one's political leanings. Anger at immigrants, who are so crafty to get into the United States that they'll even crawl under fences that aren't on the border with another country (at least according to the ads in Louisiana and Nevada). Anger at liberals and their long affair with taxes. Anger at gay people. Earlier this week Mother Jones ran a cover with Sarah Palin in the image of the '50s movie poster, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, to attempt to show how middle class anger is so fever-pitch high that people are talking about voting against their own interests, and what was the response? Anger that they would replicate such a sexist image.
Fresh off the harddrive, this episode of Bitch Radio features women from the Make-Believe issue of Bitch! If you're into women who make pop-culture collage art (say, Sonja Ahlers, author/artist of The Selves), who make it in Hollywood sans plastic surgery or selling out (I'm talking about the hilarious Jamie Denbo of Ronna and Beverly, Weeds, and Best Buds), who document the riot grrl movement (maybe Sara Marcus, author of Girls to the Front), or who use what most people consider a nerdy pastime for social change (like LARPing expert and player Sarah Bowman), then you should not miss this podcast! Plus it features music from Twin Sister, whose latest EP, Color Your Life is available from Infinite Beat records and they are currently on tour with the Morning Benders. .
Stream it below, subscribe on iTunes or RSS, or download at archive.org. Transcription available here (.doc). (Thank you, Katie!) Script after the jump.