A Dutch newspaper, Het Parool, published a piece on June 17th about the growing objectification of men in visual media such as film and television. Dutchies can read the article here. I have an opinion on the matter, and I decided to share it with you.
In the article, famous actors are quoted as complaining about being objectified by their audience. One of them is Kit Harington, Jon Snow on Game Of Thrones. The other is our newest Superman, Henry Cavill. Cavill cites an incident where he was catcalled on the street and made profoundly uncomfortable. He argues that lots of women feel uncomfortable when they are the subject of catcalling, and therefore catcalling men is equally unacceptable.
Cavill is right. Catcalling is not okay. Catcalling is never okay. Continue reading
The first time I watched The West Wing I was maybe fourteen years old. From the moment she first appeared in season three, I hated the character of Amy Gardner. Now I’m twenty, and I still hate her. Let me tell you why.
THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE WEST WING.
Amy Gardner gives feminism a bad name. She is the reason ignorant people hate feminists. She is the reason the despicable term “feminazi” is still in use. She symbolizes a worldwide phenomenon of feminists being depicted as crazy, and it’s incredibly harmful to the women’s rights movement.
Now, I would be the first to admit that The West Wing is fraught with misogyny. It took me a re-watch as an adult to realize this, but it’s true, and I think it’s largely Aaron Sorkin’s fault. C.J. Cregg wasn’t promoted to Chief Of Staff until Sorkin had vacated the writer’s room. Kate Harper was only conceived of after he was gone. And in the absence of Sorkin, Donna blossomed into the strong independent woman we knew she was all along. Even Amy became more likable after Sorkin vacated the premises. That doesn’t change the fact that at first, she was a nightmare.
We are first introduced to Amy when Josh invents a problem in order to go see her and ask her out. She’s hardly likable. She’s sarcastic to the point of being mean. I admit freely that at first I did not like her because I regarded her as an obstacle dividing my OTP. As long as Amy was in play, Josh would not realize that he had always, always, always been in love with Donna from the very start.
I mean can this guy get his eyefucking under control, maybe? Or replace it with some actual fucking? Donna wouldn’t mind, Josh, she loves you just as much as you love her. Continue reading
Yesterday, a video was released of Rory Gilmore just casually meeting up with FLOTUS and, in the most Rory-like display of affection you have ever seen, offering her a bunch of books. Lorelai contributed a package of Pop Tarts. I can’t deal with all the cuteness and girl power in this video.
I don’t have much to say, just watch the video. It speaks for itself. But it is so absolutely amazing and brilliant and cool and everything I have ever wanted out of a video on the internet that an emergency blog post was in order.
(Spoiler Gilmore Girls season seven) You probably all remember how Rory went off on the Obama Campaign trail at the end of Gilmore Girls. Of course, she ended up as Michelle’s literary advisor, and, from the looks of it, personal friend.
This video is an adorable crossover of real life and fiction, but it also calls attention to Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn campaign, which is happening right now. Learn more about the cause, maybe even contribute here, and help girls everywhere get an education. Because don’t we all want to grow up to be Rory Gilmore?
Tomorrow is the day we’ve all been waiting for. Tomorrow is when the gates of Litchfield Correctional Facility will open once again to grant us access. Tomorrow we will once more join the ranks of ladies dressed in orange, stabbing each other with plastic forks. Tomorrow, the forth season of Orange Is The New Black will come to Netflix.
So I thought this would be a good moment to tell you all how much I love this show, and why I think that is. I must warn you beforehand that there will be spoilers here up to the end of season three, so if you aren’t caught up yet you shouldn’t read any further.
First of all, let me introduce Orange Is The New Black to those of you who have been living under a rock for the past few years. We call it OITNB for short. It’s Netflix’s most watched original show, and it’s about the inmates of a women’s prison. The story is based on Piper Kerman’s real life experience of prison, which she wrote down in her book: Orange Is The New Black: My Year In A Women’s Prison.
The show is both tragic and hilarious. It is both witty and honest. It is, perhaps the greatest achievement on television to date when it comes to diversity and representation, and that’s what I want to talk to you about today.
OITNB has African American characters. It has Asian characters. It has Latino characters and caucasian characters. It has gay people and straight people. On the show, there is a transsexual character who is played by a transsexual actress. There are characters of all body types and costumes and make-up are minimal, so there are no attempts at disguising or glamorizing what real women look like in real life. The result is breathtakingly beautiful.
But that is not all. You can make your show’s cast as diverse as humanly possible, and I will applaud you for that, but that doesn’t necessarily make it engrossing television. And if there’s one thing OITNB is, it’s engrossing television.
For one thing, the narrative structure is astounding. Throughout the seasons, an intricate web of characters is woven and like the true ensemble cast, none seem to be more important than the others. Sure, the show starts out from Piper’s point of view, but by now it’s shifted so often that no one gives a damn about Piper anymore. Actually, I never cared for Piper much in the first place. She’s a brat.
Even Pennsatucky, who I disliked for the first half of the show, was recently given a storyline in season three that humanized her and, dare I say it, made me love her.
The show draws attention to a lot of problems of modern day society, such as the ill treatment of prisoners in over-crowded American facilities, the stigma upon those with mental illness and America’s drug problem. It shows us that discrimination is still deeply ingrained into our lives and how harmful that is. It shows us the pervasiveness of rape culture and all the suffering it causes. It shows us how violence begets violence and how women can be incredibly strong when everything, everything, is against them.
Pennsatucky: “No offense but men being in charge hasn’t ever done me any good.”
In my weaker moments I turn to the inmates of Litchfield to see an example of what strength truly looks like. I will greatly enjoy doing so again tomorrow, and I invite you all to turn on your television sets and get trapped with me.
There is going to be a Gilmore Girls revival. If you’re a fan, I think you’ve known this for a while. What you may not know, because you haven’t known me for very long, is that I’m pretty much going insane with excitement by now.
These are the facts. There are going to be four new episodes of Gilmore Girls, and each one will be focussed on a season. So there’s going to be a summer episode, a fall episode, a winter episode and a spring episode, all of them 90 minutes long.
In my everlasting effort to capture the the magic of Jane Austen’s work, to understand and contain it and eventually to imitate and emulate it, I have drawn up profiles of some of her heroes and heroines that would fit nicely within any modern dating site.
I’ve done this because I often find Austen’s matches to be imperfect, even though they are described as heavenly. Obviously, logic does not apply to matters of the heart (Ron and Hermione, I’m looking at you!) but still, it seems to me that the woman’s happiness in these matches is often inferior to the man’s. In vain I have struggled to come to terms with this. It will not do. So here, for all of the judgmental gentlemen of Austen’s world, I shall judge them just as harshly. The verdict is as follows.
“When a subject is highly controversial – and any question about sex is that – one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only show how one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold.” Virginia Woolf, A Room Of One’s Own
I watched Outlander today. Season two, episode seven: Faith. This post contains SPOILERS for Outlander up to that episode. It also contains my opinion on some controversial issues, so be warned. This post is not suitable for minors.
I fear my favorite TV show is perpetuating rape culture. Allow me to clarify. Outlander, its historical setting, its penchant for far-fetched dramatic plot twists and, above all, its swashbuckling hero Jamie Fraser, have conquered a place in my fangirling heart.
Every Tuesday, after the new episode of Outlander has appeared on HBO On Demand, I take an hour to watch it, and this hour is usually entertaining. I end up biting my nails, pulling my hair, and whispering “No, no no this can’t be happening!” each time. All in all, exactly what you want from a television show.
Outlander is notorious for its frank dealings with sexual scenes. To me, this seemed at first to be a selling point. A TV show from a female point of view that has sex scenes in it? A show that depicts women as hot-blooded creatures full of sexual desire? Hell yes. And with a leading man that handsome. HELL YEAH.
The first season of Outlander did not disappoint. There was sex. There was this adorable bit of pillow talk:
Jamie: “Did ye like it?”
Claire: “Yes, I did.”
Jamie: “Oh. I thought ye did, though Murtagh told me that women generally do not care for it, so I should finish as soon as I could.”
Claire: “What would Murtagh know about it?”
(Gasp) Is that…a woman admitting she enjoys sex? On a TV show? Round of applause, ladies and gentlemen.
But the last episode of season one, To Ransom A Man’s Soul, brought a whole new dimension to the dreamlike romantic drama of Outlander. In this episode, everyone’s favorite Scotsman Jamie is tortured both physically and psychologically, and raped by his worst enemy, Captain Randall. There had been the threat of rape before, when Claire was abducted by the Captain, but that time, Jamie had come to the rescue. Then there had been the almost-rape of Jamie’s sister Jenny, which she had averted by getting a fit of the giggles. The resulting scene had been unnerving, to say the least.
Now, in season 2’s seventh episode, Faith, there were two portrayals of rape. In the first, Captain Randall was the perpetrator once more, and the victim was a young boy. The second was when Claire, in exchange for Jamie’s release from prison, allowed the king of France to sleep with her. In a sense, she consented to it. However, she was clearly uncomfortable and dismayed by the act. She expressed later that she felt violated. In my opinion, this type of power play is just as much a rape scene as these other scenes I described above.
Now, you might say that a historical TV show of this caliber has a responsibility to portray history accurately. Denying, for example, the holocaust, or the ill treatment of African slaves, or the poor position of women in 18th century society, is a crime. If we gloss over the nastier parts of world history in this way, we might forget about the mistakes humanity has made, and make them again. I agree with this assessment, and to portray Claire Fraser as a character with the same amount of agency and power as her male counterparts on Outlander, would be a gross denial of the inequality women have faced and fought for centuries.
That said, let me tell you something about rape culture.
Wikipedia states: “Behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, refusing to acknowledge the harm caused by some forms of sexual violence, or some combination of these.”
Read the full article here.
The most pervasive of these attitudes in Outlander, I think, is trivializing rape. Rape is just another one of the things considered normal in this brutish society of violence and power play. It is a way to assert dominance, on par with punching someone in the face. The psychological trauma inflicted by rape is often overlooked. For example, Jamie, in my opinion, took an unusually short amount of time to get over the fact that he was raped by Randall.
Jamie does, however, suffer from toxic masculinity, the exceptionally high social pressure put on men within rape culture. To be stronger than his wife, to physically protect her, to sexually satisfy her, to provide for her. His rape is even more shameful than Claire’s, because it makes him submissive in a culture that expects men to be dominant. Yet he allows Randall to rape him in exchange for Claire’s safety, due to the expectation that a husband protects his wife at any cost.
“But it’s a TV show!” you say. “It’s not real. Everybody watching it knows it is fictional, and most people also know that rape was a part of the culture portrayed on the show. We don’t take it all that seriously!”
I disagree. What we see on TV and what we consider normal in real life is closely related. We are, I hope, all aware that rape is not okay. But are we also aware that it isn’t okay for women to use sex as a bartering chip? Are we aware that women and men are equal, and that there is no gender naturally submissive to the other? I’m afraid some of the finer points of equality escape some of those watching Outlander. I am afraid that those of us sexually aroused by lack of consent in sex scenes are slowly starting to consider rape okay.
As long as rape culture is a serious problem in our actual society, any portrayal of behaviors that enforce rape culture in the media are harmful to us all.