Welcome to the latest installment of Ms. Opinionated, in which readers have questions about the pesky day-to-day choices we all face, and I give advice about how to make ones that (hopefully) best reflect our shared commitment to feminist values—as well as advice on what to do when they don't.
Dear Ms. Opinionated.
Last night my boyfriend and I were drunkenly walking to our train, stopping in the middle to tell each other how much we love one another, and giving mushy, drunken kisses. Then all of a sudden, he told me that some people, I think from work—who he insisted on keeping anonymous—asked why he stays with me and say that he can do better.
Why do images have such power? In this episode, comics collective Ladydrawers, Australian felt-tip-marker artist TextaQueen, and colorism researcher Jyoti Gupta all delve into the big issues of how visual media shapes how we see ourselves. Plus, two Bitch staffers talk with Equity Foundation Executive Director Karol Collymore about images that shaped us growing up, from fashion magazines to drawings of Ramona Quimby.
This episode is sponsored by GladRags, makers of washable cloth menstrual pads that are better for your body, your budget, and the environment. Use coupon code "bitchradio" for 15 percent off at their products online.
When I first picked up Nalo Hopkinson's The Chaos last summer, I thought, "Finally! A book with a young woman of color as the protagonist!" Of course, I've since learned that there are other dystopic novels with girls of color, but this hasn't ended my love forThe Chaos even after a second (and third) reading.
The Chaos isn't actually set in a dystopia. It's more of a post-apocalyptic world in which Toronto transforms from its usual racist, misogynist, able-ist normalcy to utter chaos, complete with hoodie-wearing sasquatches, escalators that ask questions about quantum physics, and Baba Yaga and her flying house.
This past week, the news broke that New York City began to instruct its police officers this winter that to make sure they act accordingly to legality of women going topless in public. It's easy to dismiss this law with a punch line, but the truth is that instructing all of New York's police force to leave topless women alone is groundbreaking and part of a long running movement lead by women who have fought for topless equality.
I spent last week in Seoul, the modern cultural hub of South Korea, where international sensation Psy first made his mark. It's a crowded city plastered with images of celebrities on buses, billboards, storefronts, giant windows, and any other usable space. As I traversed the city, one thing that struck me was how uniform all their faces were: big eyes, white skin, raised nose bridges.
As the modeling industry here is accused of conforming to a white, northern European look as the standard of beauty, South Korea seems to be chasing a different ideal: a generic Caucasian look.
A common trope about models is that we don't eat. Well, I'm a model and I love food. I eat often and during all parts of the day—the spicier the dish, the better. Most models—at least the ones I work with in Los Angeles—do eat, with fewer exceptions than one might expect.
Today saw not one, but two politicians toss offhand comments about appearances at women involved in politics. One of those men is the chair of a South Carolina county's Republican Party, which, well, no surprise. But the other is President Barack Obama. Obama! Step it up.
Feminist forums have been abuzz recently about the editor of Esquire UK's comments regarding the objectification of women in magazines. More than the content of these discussions, however, what is most notable to me is how mainstream conversation about sexuality uses a black-and-white framework: women's bodies can only be a sex object or a not a sex object. Thanks to the term "objectification," bodies are seen as either objects or non-objects—it feels like there's no wiggle room. As someone who works as a model, I think we should instead focus rather than the conversation around women possessing their own sexuality.
Television shows, movies, and other forms of showbiz are crucial parts of conversations about race and sex in our society. But ironically, the dynamics of what happens behind the scenes in the entertainment industry is not so well-known. As a feminist model and writer in eternally sunny Los Angeles, I'll be exploring issues of race, sexuality, and gender within the entertainment industry over the next two months with this guest blog.