Cowgirl narratives—films, shows, and books featuring women and horses—often show women who are at home in their bodies, connected with nature, and many times, disrupting traditional gender roles. As cowgirls, women are shown in acts of blissful physicality. They follow their dreams. They are independent and strong-willed. But the horse seems to be essential in these experiences, and the contemporary relationship between woman and horse, particularly in our cowgirl narratives, is undeniably gendered. What is it about girls and horses? What do cowgirl narratives tell us about young girls and women?
As both a life-long horse owner and a gender-women's-studies teacher, I think about this a lot. Obsessively, even. I've always personally connected to cowgirl stories, but the tales of daring women and horses have not often been considering within the larger media landscape.
In this two-month long blog series, I'll be examining representations of women and horses in film, TV, and songs. Looking at films like, Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, Secretariat, National Velvet, and Dreamer(among others), television shows like Heartland, and books like Princess Smartypants (I will argue later why this falls in with our cowgirl narratives) I will be asking the question: What do these representations tell us about our ideas of gender?
In many ways Germany is not an unprogressive state. People are free to elect, choose and live whatever they want. We have a female chancellor and a gay minister for foreign affairs. People were even supportive of me wearing a skirt to support my skirt-loving son.
But lately some things got pretty complicated. In the past few days, every channel on TV seems to be discussing big questions about sexism. The current conversation was sparked when journalist 29-year-old Laura Himmelreich published a portrait of 60-something political party leader Rainer Brüderle. Himmelreich mentioned meeting the politician at an informal occasion where politicians and journalists are trying to get comfortable and set the real deals over a glass of wine. She asked how it would feel to be suddenly some kind of hope for his party at his age. According to the Himmelreich, Bruderle didn't want to speak about age—at least not his age. He knows women her age, he told her before he made a comment about how her breasts would "easily fill a dirndl."
I have been told by some I am creating inspirational porn in a different form by showing images that are too queer, too sexuality provocative, and too fabulous—but I am sharing what people are sending me.
It has been a privilege and pleasure to write for Bitch for the last eight weeks. Thanks to Kelsey and Kjerstin for all of their support, and thank you to everyone who read, commented on, and shared my posts. As a long-time Bitch fan, I've felt honored to share this space with you and participate in much-needed conversations about the state of bisexual visibility in the media.
Over the next eight weeks, I will explore both progressive and problematic depictions of bisexuality in order to see how far we've come and how much progress still needs to be made. Together, we will look at examples in film, television, music, celebrity culture, and new media. And, with any luck, we will be able to start a discussion about what the media could be doing to increase realistic and positive depictions of bisexual identities and, by extension, advance bisexual acceptance.
Kids are indeed the future and so they're also the site of great moral panic. As more kids are skipping the closet, debate rages on about what is appropriate to "expose" young people to—which also raises the question of what is appropriate to acknowledge as already existing in young people's experiences. And because it is easier to recognize the specificity of queer sexuality, sociality, and familial forms in the face of unmarked mainstream culture—where hetero love stories provide the narrative framing for most cultural products—youth and non-normative sexuality are a fascinating and revealing combination. (Maybe my next post will be on why the Disney Princesses have made the "PC" leap to include a princess of color but won't be advertising a lesbian princess any time soon?) So in this series, I want to ask: How have discourses of sexuality and gender been transformed in the context of youth? Who gets to speak for kids? Where do young people receive their most influential messages about the values around sex, sexuality, and gender, and their proper performance?
The vows have been said, the register signed and the happy couple kissed on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in front of screaming crowds. For those of us who didn't score an invite to the most exclusive wedding of the decade, the media was on hand to guide us through the day—with a depressingly predictable side order of sexism.
You know, I was gonna start off with a standard intro, but that was mucking up my flow, so I had to switch it up in order to get unstuck. If you've spent some time around these parts, you may remember my original Bitch blogging series, a two-parter called On the Map, where I provided a slight peek at feminisms that exist around the globe. It's been a year since that gig ended, and I am thrilled for the opportunity to return for a new series—this time about an issue I've been struggling with for two decades that has picked up steam in the mainstream: street harassment. I use the word "struggle" intentionally because of its multiple meanings, and if you continue to read Takin' it to the Streets (which I dearly hope you do!), then you'll soon find out what I mean.