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More Revenge Music Videos. May 16, 2007

Posted by ajaramillo in Aventura, betrayal, Blu Cantrell, controversy, domestic violence, Ethics, Female Power, morality, music video, Power, video.
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I wanted to continue Melissa’s point about the popularity of the “revenge narrative” in music videos, yet a complete avoidance of domestic violence issues. It made me think of Blu Cantrell’s video “Hit ‘Em Up Style.” It is exactly how Melissa explained it: Blu’s man cheated, so therefore it’s OK to get back at him by destroying his property. Not only does she damage all of his possessions and spend his money, she encourages other women to do it too! It becomes a catchy girl power anthem.


Unfortunately, I also couldn’t find any other videos with women addressing the issue of domestic violence first-hand. However, it seems that we hear about women’s struggle from an unlikely source (more…)

Facebook: Who are we posing for? May 15, 2007

Posted by lindamc in "the gaze", Attractiveness and age, Facebook, female perfection, Female Power, female relationships, feminism, humor, sexual power, sexuality.
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So, in normal Amherst fashion, I was procrastinating my finals work by searching around on facebook and looking at this weekends edition of fun and fabulous pictures. I started to see a theme: girls pose differently then guys: ok I know “WOW!” what a find! Shocking, but in thinking about the male gaze, it is really easy to notice that women pose for men in their pictures: particularly on drunken Saturday nights. Many groups even do it for their girl friends, even at other schools: so that they can look at the pictures and say: “oh look how cute so and so looks out with her friends in their little langerie!” I think that this might be something that is different then a few years a go. Facebook and Myspace have allowed for internet stalking and picture posting, and allowed each and every member to create a little album of themselves for the opposite sex or for their friends to get jealous from. Specifically relating to girls: do we really think about how and who we are posing for when we take pictures? (particularly those on drunken or wild nights) So is it always the confusing: women like to see men looking at them, or is it women like to see other women looking at men who are looking at them….or even worse: women like to see anyone looking, as long as their being looked at!

cindy sheehan and the social vs. the political May 10, 2007

Posted by sindhub in 911, bill o'reilly, cindy sheehan, controversy, female politicos, Female Power, G W. Bush, gender, in the news, iraq war, jersey girls, jersey widows, morality, motherhood, nationalism, news stories, politics, Power, rush limbaugh, the state, wartime politics, women and war.
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I wanted to talk a little bit more about something I brought up in class today, about how women’s traditional gender roles in the U.S. involve upholding social and cultural mores, and possibly aiming to ‘better society,’ but never being explicitly political about it.  I realized after class what I meant by ‘explicitly political’: placing the blame on someone.  Politics is very much about finger-wagging, appeasing constituents, and placing the blame for something on somebody or something.  Traditionally, it’s been more socially approved for women to try to ease society’s ills, e.g. the temperance movements of the late nineteenth century.  Although women took on leadership roles in these organizations and argued in favor of women’s right to vote, their main focus was on maintaining the ‘traditional’ family structure (the Women’s Christian Temperance Union is strongly against same-sex marriage), not shaking up society.  However, and I think this has something to do with us living in the post-9/11 era, when a woman blames someone explicitly for breaking up the family (and not just alcohol), there can be a severe backlash.  Even flippantly critical comments like Natalie Maines’ can do that, but I think the best example in the current Bush presidency is Cindy Sheehan.

I’m sure you’ve heard of her; she’s the mother whose son died in the Iraq war, and became an anti-war protester, going so far as to camp outside President Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch for five weeks, insisting on speaking with him personally (which he never agreed to, though he did send top officials).  I remember when this happened in the summer of 2005, and it just being all over the news.  Surely a mother’s grief for her lost son is newsworthy.  But Sheehan’s story only took the vitriolic, polarizing turn that it did, dominating the nightly news for the summer, because she took her traditionally social role as a mother and used it politically.  Antiwar groups rallied against her because she was so beneficial to their cause, and Bush’s supporters criticized her for being ‘treasonous.’  Her critics didn’t question what she was saying–that the Iraq war wouldn’t make us any safer, and that she herself would fight to protect the country–rather, they questioned her. (more…)

man wins presidential election; world is shocked May 10, 2007

Posted by sindhub in 2007 french presidential election, careerwomen, class, female politicos, Female Power, female voters, feminism, france, gender, Girl Power, Hillary Clinton, in the news, International, jacques chirac, motherhood, new york times, news stories, nicolas sarkozy, politics, Power, segolene royal.
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As you may know, France’s presidential election took place recently.  In a runoff between rightist Nicolas Sarkozy and socialist Segolene Royal, Sarkozy was chosen to replace Jacques Chirac, 53 to 47 percent.  What’s relevant to ‘girl power’ is that Royal is a woman.  I found this article, “France’s female voters shun Segolene Royal,” which makes the situation sound pretty bad.  But the female vote for Royal wasn’t much different from the overall vote, with a 52 to 48 margin in favor of Sarkozy.  Although Royal focused part of her campaign on appealing specfically to female voters ‘as a mother’ and promising greater equality (only 12% of French lawmakers are female), apparently female voters thought she focused on it too much.  Some of the women interviewed say that they didn’t vote for Royal just because she’s a woman, because they didn’t think she was going to do anything for them or because she didn’t share the same vision for the country that they did.

There are two conflicting ways to look at the situation.  On one hand, isn’t this what we want, for women to be seen as individuals (as ‘human’) and not just as women?  But, do we really want that when it doesn’t work in their favor?  Especially when it might not be working in their favor because the political system is still biased against them?  And it seems that while Royal was criticized for showing too much identification with one demographic, that being women, she’s also criticized for (more…)

veil-burning in somalia May 10, 2007

Posted by sindhub in Ayesha Dharkar, bodies, deception, Ethics, fashion police, Female Power, female soldiers, gender, ideology, in the news, International, islam, modesty, morality, nationalism, news stories, politics, Power, somalia, the state, The Terrorist, wartime politics, women and war, women in the military.
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There have been news stories in the past two days about government soliders in Somalia, which is currently in a state of civil war with explosions taking place recently in capital Mogadishu, taking women’s veils (ones where only the eyes are uncovered) and burning them.  When I first heard about it, I thought it seemed like what happened in pre-1979 revolution Iran, when women weren’t allowed to dress in religious garb in an avowedly secular state ruled by a monarch, but it turns out that the recent veil-burning wasn’t government-sanctioned.  The soliders did it because they wanted to make sure that the women weren’t part of the ‘rebel’ Islamist movement, and hiding bombs or weapons under their veils.

I thought this situation was interesting in its similarity to The Terrorist.  Malli is valued within her organization because she’s a woman, which means that she is underestimated and seen in a de-politicized way, which will enable her to get past security checkpoints–while carrying the ammunition she needs in the basket on her head, and not firewood or whatever the soliders may assume it is, showing that it is precisely her femaleness that allows her to get by–and get close enough to the politician to assassinate him.  It seems that the Somali soliders were concerned that they were letting Muslim women who might pose a threat get by because of their female religious need/desire to cover themselves modestly, and decided to take action, for their own safety presumably.

Something else that comes to mind is how this fits women into nationalism.  (more…)

Grey’s Spinoff May 9, 2007

Posted by erinsull in bitch, careerwomen, Female Power, Grey's Anatomy, Kate Walsh, women in television.
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I just came across this interesting New York Times article about the new Grey’s Anatomy spin-off centered around Kate Walsh’s character Dr. Addison Montgomery (formally Sheppard as fans of the show are well aware). Being a fan of Grey’s I watched the 2-hour episode, which set up Addison’s new show. At 11 o’clock as the closing credits rolled I had this sense on dissatisfaction and annoyance but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. While Grey’s admittedly has its own issues (the title character Meredith is an extremely polarizing figure) I’d never had this kind of reaction to it. This article summed up a lot of the problems I had with the episode. Addison first appeared on the show at the end of season one as the ex wife of Meredith’s boyfriend, Dr. Sheppard (more commonly known as McDreamy but I can’t deal with that name). She was intimidating, a “coolly amused villainess” who was in town to challenge the show’s frail and often flaky heroine. Addison was sophisticated, beautiful, confident, and on top of all that a world-renowned surgeon. She could have easily been the character everyone loved to hate but the writers made her surprisingly likeable. She was a real woman, who while sometimes exuding perfection, made mistakes and had emotions. At first I commended this change, I liked that she wasn’t a one-note villain but someone who viewers could identify with.

However with recent plot twists Addison has become a shadow of her once intimidating self. As the articles’ author notes “her character evolved into a more likable colleague, but for some reason, that change required her to become dizzier, chattier and very much like the ever confused and self-doubting Meredith — and, of course, Ally McBeal”. She was prompted to leave Seattle Grace after she was scorned by two men (one an intern, another whom she had rejected many times I the past). What does it mean that to make the character more relatable (and thus able to carry her own show) the writers felt they had to make her flakier and far less self assure? The head writer and brains behind Grey’s Anatomy is a woman, did she feel this new Addison was necessary to appeal to a wider audience? I can’t really take her transformation as natural character development for one of the world’s foremost neonatologist. Was the original Addison just too powerful and confident, too much of a “bitch” to make people tune in and care week after week?

The article makes an interesting point about the other women on the show who are supposedly a more empowering portrayal of professionally successful women. It says “on “Grey’s Anatomy” at least two female characters, Christina (Sandra Oh) and Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) have confidence, big egos and an ability to keep their sorrows to themselves most of the time”. They lie in contrast to the women on the spin-off who are “fragile and pitiable” and “prone to public displays of disaffection”. While I agree that it was tough to take watching these professional woman constantly overcome with emotion (mostly at the whim of men) I think it is interesting that the author puts such a high regard on women keeping their emotions to themselves. Is that key for women to exude a sense of power and control? Anyway the article is a really interesting look at the sometimes-disheartening portrayal of women even on “the most bourgeois women’s television shows.”

Bush or Backlash? May 9, 2007

Posted by lindamc in 911, Bill Clinton, class, controversy, Dixie Chix, Female Power, feminism, G W. Bush, Girl Power, nationalism, politics, Power, relationships with men, sexual power, sexuality, Shut up and Sing.
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I can’t remember who made the comment about the post 911 reversion into a sort of white-boy southern American pride on Sunday’s class, but watching Shut up and Sing really got me thinking about Bush’s influence on aspects of our popular culture (more…)

The fight over the veil May 7, 2007

Posted by Wasik in bodies, careerwomen, controversy, fashion police, Female Power, feminism, ideology, in the news, iran, islam, morality, nationalism, politics, religion, the state, The Terrorist, Uncategorized, women and war.
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[This started out as a comment to sindhub’s post on Women’s Bodies and Ideology, but then quickly became very long so now it is a normal post. But sindhub– thanks for bringing this topic up!]

The debate about traditional islamic dress for women– loosely referred to in Western discourse as ‘the veil’– is probably the most complicated, intricate and endlessly controversial way in which, as you mention, nationalist and religious (though the two are often inextricably tied) movements use women’s bodies to enforce ideology.

In Western media and popular culture, the issue is often presented very one-sidedly, ignoring the nuance involved which has perpetuated this debate for so long. I distinctly remember one episode of “Seventh Heaven” in which taking up the veil was seen as an absolute tragedy to be lamented; throughout the episode, Mrs. Camden was haunted by visions of her daughters veiled and oppressed, and the end of the program featured many of its actors speaking out against the treatment of women in states under sharia law. (more…)

“Female Chauvinist Pigs: Girls gone wild” May 7, 2007

Posted by lindamc in "the gaze", bodies, Female Power, gender, in the news.
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This article from the NY Times discusses, although it is a year and a half old(published september 2005), Ariel Levy’s claims about what women these days are turning themselves into. I found this quote from the article particularly interesting and very much the focus of class discussion the past few weeks: “Our popular culture, she argues, has embraced a model of female sexuality that comes straight from pornography and strip clubs, in which the woman’s job is to excite and titillate – to perform for men. According to Levy, women have bought into this by altering their bodies surgically and cosmetically, and – more insidiously – by confusing sexual power with power, so that embracing this caricaturish form of sexuality becomes, in their minds, a perverse kind of feminism.” Levy goes on to discuss the rise of the number of Olympic athletes that pose for playboy, Paris Hilton, Girls Gone wild, and stereotypes of cartoon men and women. The woman who wrote this article: Jennifer Egan, believes that Levy shapes her examples to fit her theories, and argues that she drew from a small pool of women and girls. What do we think? Do we agree with Levy? Egan does in the end praise the book for posing a tough question: “Many women can buy their own plane tickets and pay their own rent. They can treat themselves. Why, then, do they persist in watching themselves through male eyes?”

Cheetah Girls- the new spice girls? May 4, 2007

Posted by Melissa in bodies, Cheetah Girls, Female Power, female relationships, feminism, gender, general considerations, Girl Power, marketing gender, Pussycat Dolls, Spice Girls, tween market.
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During a recent conversation with my little sister, she mentioned that her favorite music group at the moment was the Cheetah Girls. Intrigued, I looked them up online to discover that they were a disney creation, and hugely popular in the tween market. The group advocates sisterhood and girl power, much like the Spice Girls. What is noticeably different about this group however, is that this is the only group that advocates girl power being marketed toward the tween market that is age appropriate. (more…)