It's old news that Robin Thicke's music video for "Blurred Lines" is straight-up gross. In the video, near-naked, sometimes-unresponsive women drape themselves around a group of fully dressed male artists who spend four and a half minutes trying to make a "good girl" go bad. But now, he's not just deflecting criticism of his music's flagrant objectification—as we might expect—he's announced that the "Blurred Lines" video is actually the forefront of a new feminist movement!
Over the last two months, I've written more than 20,000 words (!) about male primary caregivers in popular culture. I hope I've illustrated that while the rise in non-stereotypical portrayals of men is in some ways a step forward, it's also often just another means by which the mainstream media reinforces gender norms — often at women's expense.
When I started this series, I thought the increase in narratives about single and stay-at-home fathers reflected a genuine sociological phenomenon, because more men than women lost jobs in the recession and became stay-at-home dads as a result. However, I soon discovered that while the number of men who take care of their kids full-time has doubled over the last 12 years, it's still just 176,000 people, or 0.8% of the population, according to Philip N. Cohen's interrogation of the stats. (This rises when dads who work part-time are included, but only to 2.8%.) Plus, men are returning to work more quickly than women, making this much-discussed "trend" little more than a blip. What's more, as Bryce Calvert pointed out in her Forbes column, it was only ever a partial victory considering that being a stay-at-home parent wasn't a choice for many of these men, just as it isn't a choice for many women.
The Leveson Report on the ethics of the British Press has vindicated U.K. feminists by concluding that our tabloid media demeans and sexualizes women. But now that the dust has settled, will there be any real change in British newspapers?
Attempts to rid British newspaper The Sun of its topless 'Page 3 Girls' have always failed in the past, with feminists' concerns dismissed as prudery and jealousy. Could a new campaign be about to succeed where others have failed? And what issues does this raise for feminists?
I'm not one to guilt anyone for caring for lowbrow culture, not least because for so many years my bookish university friends made fun of me for watching television at all. (I've felt no small degree of satisfaction that The Sopranos, The Wire, and now Mad Men have had them eating their words more recently.) But every time I've tuned into any version of Bravo's Real Housewives franchise this year, I've had to fend off a sinking feeling that I've hit the rock bottom of my guilty pleasures.