Fat hatred is ubiquitous in US culture, abhorred as a sign of laziness, stupidity, and gluttony. Given that last one, it seems like we might have a few fat vampires amongst the contemporary undead grazing our television screens, our movie theatres, and the pages of many a books. Alas, fat-positive vampires don’t get much play. Just as most characters in film and television are thin in the extreme, so too are most vampires. This post, which is part of my new “Monstrous Musings” column housed over at Womanist Musings, ponders why there are (virtually) no fat vampires. Please give it a read and add to the comment thread!
The clip below, from MadTV in 2007, muses on the need for an I-pad to have “vaginal firewall protection.” Though hilarious, it does trade in the “ewww, periods are so gross” paradigm criticized in the recent “The iPad: Love It or Hate It, but Leave Periods Out of It” post from Kate Dailey.
As noted in The I-Pad Oh My Periods from Womanist Musings, “Moving from we can’t talk about periods because they are dirty to tee hee is not really any form of progress.”
Or, as asked over at Feministig, “The iPad: Where are the women on Apple’s branding team?”
Might all the “tee-hee-ing” going on (as Renee calls it) indicate some internalized misogyny on women’s part (as asked in this thoughtful post here at Gourmet Goddess)? Or might it, as the Goddess questions, suggest feminists need to “grow up,” sharing that “ I do think the fact that a name like the iPad is cause for such vocal derision by feminists, of all people, just shows how far we feminists have to go to fully accept ourselves as women.”
I partially agree, but I also know I wouldn’t really like a product named after hemorrhoidal cream (the iItch?) or after semen (the iCum?). Yes, females bleed, we have periods – they are not something to silence or mock, but neither are they something I want to think about all the time. But, then again, the name I-pad didn’t make me think of menstruation – perhaps because I am a fan of the diva cup. Now there’s a good name, the iDiva.
Before I read around the net for reactions to the state of the union, I thought I would formulate some of my own. So, here are thoughts on a few areas close to my heart: Education, Body Image, and Militarism.
On education, Obama referred to the “national competition to improve our schools.” Wow, will there be a reality TV show to go along with that? How about “Education Idol”?
I agree with Obama that “one of the best anti-poverty programs is a world-class education.” Too bad he doesn’t back this belief with monetary support. Alas, there always seems to be enough money for war but not for education.
On body image, Obama gave a nod to Michelle Obama “who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make our kids healthier.” Oooh, sounds like the makings for another reality show! How about “Obama’s Biggest Little Losers”?
Instead of targeting body size, how about targeting high fructose corn syrup and ultra-processed Franken foods. Oh no, food corps wouldn’t like that, and now they hold the purse strings…
On militarism, Obama resorted to euphemism again, hiding war cries under the guise of “national security” and “terrorists.”
There seemed to be a big gap in the war portions of his speech – the military budget!!! Why no mention of how our war-happy stance has a lot to do with our current economic collapse? Why no talk of curtailing military spending or cutting back on our bases around the globe?
Seems all his war talk could have the makings of a reality show too – how about “The Amazing Race to Control the World,” “American’s Next Top War,” or “Country Swap”?
To sum up my reaction, I found most of the speech to be about as believable (and disheartening) as reality TV.
I heartily agree with Obama that “America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity,” I just think Obama and the US government define freedom and human dignity a little differently than I do.
I don’t find that occupying the globe with our soldiers, bases, and prisons is the best way to bring about freedom. I don’t find that championing corporate capitalism promotes human dignity – to the contrary, it puts profit before people.
If he really wants to stand on the side of freedom and human dignity, Obama must think about de-militarizing the globe and decreasing the corporate stranglehold on our world. Oh yeah, and supporting education with more than just words would be nice too.
This week proved the disastrous effects of a Bush-appointed supreme court, or, to put it another way, welcome officially to the United States of Fascism.
As Rural Woman Zone argues, “The Supreme Court’s Decision this week to remove campaign finance restrictions for corporations means the end of participatory democracy.”
In another good post on this catastrophe, Rodrigue Tremblay of Dissident Voice argues we are now a plutocracy, or a “political system characterized by ‘the rule by the wealthy, or power provided by wealth.’”
As Tremblay continues, “the Roberts Court has thus abolished the laws governing American electoral financing and removed limits to how much special money interests can spend to have the elected officials they want. The government they want will largely be ‘a government of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations.’”
People have been warning that the US is moving further and further away from democracy, a move that Naomi Wolf warns will be “The End of America” (the same title as her 2007 book, which she discusses here.)
Listening to talk about the recent Supreme Court decision on the radio and around the blogosphere, the following notion rules the (right) airwaves “we can’t limit the first amendment rights of a corporation because that would be un-American.” This argument is based on the faulty notion, writ into law ages ago, that a corporation IS a person and deserves the same free speech rights as a person. Stephen Colbert mocks this idea, noting “corporations do everything people do – except breathe, die, and go to jail for dumping 1.3 million pounds of PCBs in the Hudson River.”
One of the best anti-corporate sources of information I can recommend to those worried about the increasing corporatization of our world is the Canadian documentary The Corporation.
The clip below is especially pertinent to the supposed personhood of corporations:
As Noam Chomsky notes in the above clip, corporations have no moral conscience (unlike most humans, Bush excluded). Would you want Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Wal-Mart, or Citi-Group making moral decisions on your behalf? Would you even want them as a Facebook friend? Hell no!
A corporation is not a person!!! Corporations are ruled by the “bottom line,” or how to make as much profit as possible. They could care less about the environment, social justice, or your Facebook status update. Due to their profit-motives, they tend to lean to the right or very far right and their political contributions will aim to make the US as anti-progressive as you can imagine.
As a dear friend joked recently,
“How do you spell fascism?”
“F-a-c-s-i-s-m” I replied.
“Nope,” he quipped. “U-S-A.”
If you’re worried about this ruling (and if you are not, you should be), go here for a petition and other activist links.
1. As detailed by Cynthia McKinnery here, what is happening in Haiti will likely promote justification for turning increasing US militarization of Haiti (a trend with precedent, as noted at HaitiAction here). She reports that the US military, with echoes of Katrina, have turned away planes trying to deliver humanitarian assistance from “CARICOM, the Caribbean Community, Médecins Sans Frontieres, Brazil, France, Italy, and even the U.S. Red Cross.” As she warns,“All of us must have our eyes wide open on Haiti and other parts of the world now dripping in blood as a result of the relentless onward march of the U.S. military machine.”
2. In more great writing on Haiti, Renee of Womanist Musings examines the phenomenon of “the people of Haiti continually being referred to as looters.” As she writes, “The idea that these people are looters is ridiculous when you consider that Western nations have had no problem stealing from them for centuries.” In another echo of Katrina, this language frames people of color as “looters” and fortifies the positioning of white westerners as the saviors, or, as the infamous copy from below maintains, as the “finders.” Kind of like how white people “found” all the land the now occupy as theirs…
3. In more Haiti news, the wonderful Naomi Klein shares how the Haiti disaster is only partly natural, detailing how the entrenched poverty in Haiti is far from natural and how corporate capitalism has played a big part in impoverishing this and other nations. Check out the clip here.
Guided by our values, we endeavor to have our products used wherever precision aiming solutions are required to protect individual freedom.”—From the website of Trijicon, a gun sight manufacturer with “a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army,” which inscribes “coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ” on its rifle sights.
Wow, quoting Jesus on rifles? What a concept!
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, has not escaped controversy of the “can a white person write about black experience” variety. This “who can write what” question has plagued literary study as well as the popular imagination for a long time. I remember all the talk regarding the white female professor who specialized in African-American literature when I was doing my M.A.
As suggested here, I think it’s absurd to suggest writers can only write about their own experiences or from the point of their own social positioning. However, all this is complicated by the fact that white voices (especially white male voices) have been privileged in literary (and other) worlds. We must be wary that our privileged voices don’t drown out or silence those also trying to speak.
In the case of Stockett’s novel, I found it to be a beautifully written, page-turning narrative that, at its core, intends to break down the privilege/oppression web. Yes, she is a white woman, but does this mean she cannot write fiction aimed at eradicating racism and employ black characters to do so?
She has been criticized for the dialects she uses for some of her black characters. For example, Erin Aubry Kaplan, “Why must blacks speak dialect to be authentic? Why are Stockett’s white characters free of the linguistic quirks that white Southerners certainly have?” While the “linguistic quirks” of white characters didn’t play a huge role in the narrative, I felt the novel portrayed a number of “white quirks” that revealed how whiteness is constructed and maintained not only via language, but via dress codes, social activities, schooling, and storytelling.
This last one – storytelling – was one strand of the novel that I fell in love with, and that is particularly pertinent on this three-day Martin Luther King, Jr weekend. Aibileen, one of two black female protagonists who voices the narrative (the third narrator is a white female), tells stories to Mae Mobley in hopes she can inoculate this little white girl from growing up racist. As “She just loves hearing about peoples from outer space,” Aibileen tells her about he day “Martian Luther King” came to Earth and even though he “Looked like us, nose, mouth, hair up on his head” people treated him differently “Cause he was green” (296).
This story within a story speaks volumes about the intent at the heart of The Help – yes, it’s by a white woman, but can white women not use their voices to try and dismantle privilege and eradicate racism? As a white woman myself, I understand that how and when to speak/write is a very complicated matter – that just because one CAN speak/write, doesn’t always mean one should – that having a privileged voice can make it hard to quell the impetus to speak in order to make space for Othered voices. (And, as an opinionated POWP, I find it hard to keep my damn mouth shut!)
I hope, just once in awhile, I might say or write something that helps to eradicate injustice – I hope that I might be of help in the way I see Stockett’s novel helping the actively anti-racist cause.
- Want to help the people of Haiti? The SOA Watch website, an organization dedicated to closing the School of the Americas,* has donation options listed, as does The F Word. I am wary of the Red Cross after all the 9/11 and Katrina rumors about their corrupt and discriminatory practices. You may want to avoid having your donation dollars go toward credit card company profits though, as HuffPo warns of here. Also, for a good article on why women and children will be disproportionately affected by the disaster, see Tracy Clark Flory’s article here.
- Post-racial society my ass! For scary coverate of the rise of white power groups in the US, see “White Power USA: The Rise of Right-Wing Militias in America.”
- Sick of hearing about the “mancession” when you only make 73 to 78 cents to the dollar for every man or when being female results in chronic under and un-employment? For a good take on why the term “Mancession” is inaccurate go here.
- Check out the intro post for my new guest column at Womanist Musings, “Monstrous Musings.” Posts on all things monstrous will come out every other Thursday.
*The SOA, as the SOA Watch website explains, the School of the Americans “is a U.S. Army training school that trains soldiers and military personnel from Latin American countries in subjects like counter-insurgency, military intelligence and counter-narcotics operations. Under Department of Defense jurisdiction, this school is funded by U.S. taxpayer money.”
I have my first guest post up at Girl With Pen. It’s entitled “The Mommy Myth that Will Not Die” and analyzes the Twilight’s saga’s representation of motherhood.
Can you all give it a read and please leave a comment?
Thanks to His Golden Eyes I was alerted to this spoof of New Moon recast as Beauty and the Beast:
(cross-posted at Seduced by Twilight)
This mash-up seems particularly fitting given the message of B&B – that if your love is strong enough, good enough, you can tame the beast. As argued in the excellent documentary Mickey Mouse Monopoly, this Disney film teaches young girls (and others) that “beasts” can be turned into “princes” if only WOMEN will love them enough. Twilight, as well, has this message in spades.
As Dr. Carloyn Newberger, who specializes in family violence argues, when you view Beauty and the Beast as an allegory depicting domestic violence, the beast’s “behavior is, without question…abusive.” The same can be said of Gaston (or Edward in the above mash-up). I think we can also safely say the same of Edward and Jacob. Yet, the New Moon spoof above does not seem to be critiquing these dudes as violent parntners. (There are many posts addressing Edward’s violence, for ex see here, here, or here. There is even a Facebook page entitled Edward Cullen: Abusive Boyfriend.)
I don’t get a sense from the spoof that portraying Jacob as the beast was meant to highlight the racialized replaying of men of color as beastly either. (For once, couldn’t we have people of color NOT associated with animals? Yes, I am thinking of you Avatar.)
So, I enjoyed this spoof, but I longed for an indication that the filmmaker was critical of the violent masculinity the saga romanticizes, as well as of Jacob’s depiction as beast. And, if you ask me, Edward is portrayed as the real “beauty” in the text – though, since he is male, he does not have to “tame” Bella, he merely has to use those golden eyes to transfix her into the simpering, love-struck girl worshipping at the altar of his beautiful bod. Ugh.
As I flipped through various New Year’s Eve shows while I sucked down bubbly, I noticed a common thread – male performers had virtually no skin showing, females had a lot. From Rihanna, who HAD to be freezing in that stomach bearing outfit in the freezing NY weather, to Shania Twain, whose torn t-shirt revealed a skinny-minny stomach, to Fergie’s oddly shiny legs, the female skin was out in full force.
In contrast, Daughtry was covered up in a head to toe black outfit with a white scarf covering every bit-o-chest-n-neck. Flo-rider didn’t have a scarf, but he too was in a black outfit that covered all but his hands and head.
Flash to Carmen Electra, in a cleavage popping skin tight white dress, whose bubbly-brainlessness made me want to gag. Even poor Allison Iraheta, whom I love, had on a poofy-ultra short red-prom dress number and a crazy long red hair that kept blowing into her mouth as she tried to sing. I am sure this was the work of some “image management” person who is busy trying to make her look more white, more skinny, more sexy, less Latina, less subversive, less smart… And poor, ditzy Carmen couldn’t even pronounce her name. Sorry, Miss Electra, but I think you may need to spend less time on that body and more time exercising your brain.
As per usual, for the men, it was about their music, their art – their bodies were the background, hidden by non-skin bearing clothing. For the women, the skin, the appearance, were foreground. Hence, the fact our culture continues to suffer from a sexism that objectives and sexualizes women was out in spades. Made me choke on my champagne.
Don’t get me wrong — I find female bodies beautiful and I don’t think they need to be hidden or shamed. But, I find male bodies beautiful too. Couldn’t there be some equal opportunity showing of both male and female skin? (Not of the objectifying variety, but of the celebratory, body-loving, aren’t we lucky to live in these great prison-houses of flesh variety.)
Then, there was all the glorifying of hetero monogamy and that golden grail/prison – marriage. How many damn proposals do they have to show? And do I need to see all those hetero couples lip-locking for so damn long? Where was the non-hetero love? Sorry, LGBTQ peeps, your kisses are not New Year’s Eve television worthy!
Ageism abounded too with cameras focused on the young and perky, with presenters with nary a wrinkle in sight, with musicians straining too look like they are still 20 even when they are NOT – Shania, I am talking to you…
Here’s hoping the second decade of 2010 can keep us moving along the progressive track where more women, more people of color, more different ages and body types can be celebrated for their contributions that are not only of the good body/perfect legs variety…