Tag Archives: The Daily Beast

The Week in Feminism: Carrie, Kelly, and Taylor

I’ve written about it before, but feminism has an image problem. Perhaps we just need a well-executed PR campaign, some subway signs, some PSAs, a clever video series featuring a wide and attractive cast of celebrities. We’ll call it, “I’m a Feminist, and You Are Too!”

Three cases this week of celebrities discussing their feminism, or lack of it, are worth exploring:

The Good: Carrie Preston in NYMag

Preston, most well known for True Blood and a guest role on The Good Wife, just directed That’s What She Said, a comedy starring three women, based on a play written by a woman, that deals with sex and sexuality and, apparently, subways. She said:

“Movies don’t usually address any of that [references a yeast infection], any of the stuff that we do. Here’s a woman holding up a centerfold, shaving, trying to live up to an ideal, and you know she’s not going to. She represents many, many women in the world that Hollywood will never give a leading role to.

Interviewer: Unless you’re Melissa McCarthy.

And then they make an exception. And I’m glad that’s happening. But it’s very rare. As a feminist and a woman who believes in representing all females in film, I thought the only way to do that is to make it happen yourself. If we sent Kellie’s script to Hollywood, this would not be the cast. They would just want someone who puts glasses on and goes, “Oops! I’m adorkable!”

God, I love her so much. Feminism isn’t just about money, it’s about image, and autonomy, and understanding the pressures we put on women that severely limit what they think they can do and be and look like.

The Not-Great-But-I’ll-Take-It: Kelly Clarkson in The Daily Star

In an interview on why Clarkson, a lifelong Republican, is voting for Obama, she said:

 “I’ve been reading online about the debates and I’m probably going to vote for Obama again, even though I’m a Republican at heart. I can’t support Romney’s policies as I have a lot of gay friends and I don’t think it’s fair they can’t get married. I’m not a hardcore feminist but we can’t be going back to the 50s.”

This is a textbook case of feminism’s image problem. What exactly is a hardcore feminist? Bra-burning? Armpit-hair-growing? Man-hating? Obviously, Clarkson is none of these things, but neither am I, and I’m a feminist. Feminism, as most third-wavers define it, is exactly aligned with Clarkson’s ideals (equality and fairness for all, refusal to revert to the 1950s). She could be a huge advocate for modern feminism, but Clarkson is deterred from proudly joining the club because of her perception that it is full of “hardcore” extremists.

The Ugly: Taylor Swift in the Daily Beast

Swift just released a new album which, by all accounts, will fly off the shelves. In her victory tour, she was interviewed by Ramin Setoodeh. While discussing heartbreak and writing from the heart, there was this:

Setoodeh: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Swift: I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.

Man oh man. So, so many things are wrong with this. On the surface, we’ve got the basic assumption that feminism is about men vs. women (which we know it’s not), that old standby that continues to rear its ugly head. Feminism is about equality and access to opportunity.

The subtext here is more damaging; “work as hard as guys” implies that in the past, women weren’t working as hard as guys, and all they had to do was man-up and equality would be theirs. The fundamentals here are that guys work hard, so they are successful, and girls don’t work as hard, which is why they don’t get as far. Forget centuries of discrimination, forget the wage gap, forget all that jazz. It’s just a question of hard work. This is the same bogus argument people make about black people or poor people. If only they worked harder, like those of us who were born with some advantages, they wouldn’t be quite so poor.

Related Post: Does The Good Wife out-feminist Parks and Rec?

Related Post: Just another story I’ve been ignoring.

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Filed under Gender, Hollywood, Media

Sunday Scraps 76

1.VOTING: Slate has a time lapsed map marking the last 100 years of presidential elections. Oooh, watch the pretty colors change!

2. SMARTS: Atlantic interview with Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd, about his uber famous comic and his new geeky science project, What If?

3. BOOKS: How to pair cocktails with book club books, a guide from Flavorwire. We’re reading Boss in my book club at the moment, which I think requires a Chicago beer that has been purchased in exchange for a couple of votes in a tricky precinct.

4. MAGS: The Daily Beast profiles Vice, a Brooklyn based online and print magazine that uses raunch humor, on-the-ground cheap reporting, and multi-media to try to make millennials care about the world.

5. FOOD: As nutritional labels hit McDonald’s, do consumers care if their lunch is 1,800 calories? Apparently not.

6. WRITING: Words of writerly wisdom from Zadie Smith, whose new book NW I’m very excited to read.

Related Post: Sunday 75: black moms-in-chief, library tattoos, Republican history of America

Related Post: Sunday 74: Emily Dickinson, the end of the Kournikova era, Junot Diaz

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Filed under Books, Food, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People

Sunday (Tuesday) Scraps 42

1. RILEY: Arguably my favorite YouTube video ever. This is Riley, and she has some very strong opinions about gendered marketing in the toy aisle.

2. PENELOPE: You might be familiar with Penelope Trunk’s ubiquitous advice giving. This week, we saw a whole different, and frankly disturbing, side. On her personal blog, Trunk wrote about temporarily leaving her abusive husband.

3. TASKS: TaskRabbit is the new start-up darling (or so people say), and NYMag put the service-based site to the test. How much would you pay a stranger to install your printer?

4. HOLY TOYS: Super fascinating piece from Allison Yarrow at the Daily Beast on several new sex toy companies that exclusively target religious consumers. Christian, Jewish, and Muslim entrepreneurs have all gotten in on the sex toy game. Apparently, sex toys aren’t just for heathens!

5. LOGO: Honest Logos, a flickr stream from Hertz, recreates and rechristens the most iconic logos. It’s a nifty trick, and the YouTube copycat might be my fave.

6. TWILIGHT: What if Herman Melville had written Twilight? Virginia Woolf? iO9 takes a fun hypothetical trip into literary fantasy land.

Related Post: Sunday 41 = rapping babies, girly legos, beautiful libraries, the history of pubic hair

Related Post: Sunday 40 = pole dancing, belly galleries, Louis C.K., radio personalities

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Filed under Advertising, Books, Gender, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sex

That Time of Year When Everyone Makes Lists

This time of year makes me want to make lists of bests. Best books I read. Best movies I saw. Best songs I sang in the shower. I suppose I could do worsts too, but that’s just not how I roll.

So here’s the first list of however many I feel like writing. They will be arbitrary in category, arbitrary in length, and arbitrary in order.

Best Things I Read on the Internet in 2011

  • “Dear Sugar #44: How You Get Unstuck” – The Rumpus: “She had to grab like a drowning girl for every good thing that came her way and she had to swim like fuck away from every bad thing. She had to count the years and let them roll by, to grow up and then run as far as she could in the direction of her best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by her own desire to heal.”
  • “The Shame of College Sports” – The Atlantic (Taylor Branch): This incredible, sprawling essay on the intersections of sport and education, class and race, economics and entertainment, managed to flip my views on the subject of paying college athletes 180 degrees.
  • “My Summer at an Indian Call Center”Mother Jones (Andrew Marantz): Chock full of fun facts, Marantz’ first person essay has all of the cultural curiosity that Outsourced lacked.
  • “And That’s Why You Should Learn to Pick Your Battles”The Bloggess: Jenny Lawson is pretty much the most popular blogger in the world (ask Obama!) and this is my favorite thing she’s ever done. I dare you not to pee your pants.
  • “What Killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones?”Mother Jones (Charlie LeDuff): This trippy journey through the remains of what feels like post-apocalyptic Detroit is enough to give credence to claim of one doctor, that bullets didn’t kill Aiyana Stanley-Jones, “the psychopathology of growing up in Detroit” did.
  • “Here Be Monsters”GQ (Michael Finkel): Three teenagers took off from the cost of an atoll called Tokelau in a tin boat with a few gallons of vodka and some coconuts. 51 days later, they were rescued.
  • “Why Gay Marriage is Good for Straight America”The Daily Beast (Andrew Sullivan): Besides the turn of phrase “soul-splintering panic,” which I can’t get out of my head, Andrew Sullivan’s take on growing up gay, emigrating to the United States, and all the hopes and dreams that that entails, is the best case I’ve read yet on why marriage is the name of the game.

Wow… this list is getting long. Let’s call this Part 1, and keep an eye out for Part 2 next week.

Got any good reads from 2011 you want to share?

Related Post: A list of all the reasons this article about millennial women quitting is stupid.

Related Post: My “5 Books” interview with Persephone Magazine.

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Filed under Really Good Writing by Other People