Tag Archives: youtube

S(Monday) Scraps 108


1. THIRD COAST: Tom Dyja, author of The Third Coast, is interviewed about the Midwest, Chicago, hot dogs, etc on the Freakonomics podcast.

2. COMICS: Bill Watterson, genius behind Calvin and Hobbes, has beautifully illustrated a little life philosophy for all those twenty-somethings (or forty-somethings) trying to figure it out.

3. YEAR25: The blog Wait But Why explains with hand charts, graphs, and cartoons why we millennials are chronically dissatisfied. Yes, it’s talking about you.

4. AUTHORS: What if famous authors had instagram? #malaise #misunderstood (BuzzFeed).

5. BEYONCE: Todrick Hall has created an incredibly elaborate Cinderella parody exclusively set to Beyonce songs. It’s called…wait for it… Cinderonce.

6. CELEBS: Just for kicks, a gallery of celebrity photos from back in the day. Damn, Stephen Colbert, you were fiiiiiine.

Related Post: Sunday 107: Amanda Palmer in the nude, mermaids and workplace discrimination

Related Post: Sunday 106: Hoffman, Delaney, sex ed in Ireland


Filed under Books, Chicago, Hollywood, Media

Your Ex-Boyfriend is HIV Positive. How Do You Feel?


This was a tough one for both structural and emotional reasons. A week ago, an ex of mine from many years ago posted on Facebook that he is HIV positive. His post included a long letter to his peers about knowing your status and living without shame. I reached out to him and he agreed to let me write about this for Role/RebootTo read his whole note, head to YouTube, where he posted a video of himself taking his first dose of the antiretrovirals.


If you need help find a testing location, head here.

Related Post: So What Do You Do Exactly? HIV Testing Edition.

Related Post: Battlestar Galactica and feminism

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Filed under Gender, Republished!, Sex

Dove: Pioneer or Panderer?

dove_wideweb__430x327I must admit, the first seven times someone emailed Dove’s ubiquitous new ad campaign, I got a little weepy and emotional. It hit all the right cords, all the soft, vulnerable spots that most women (and many men!) hold deep about their appearance. My nose is too big. My eyes are too far apart. My chin is too pointy. My forehead is too high. My X is too Y.  It takes all those “toos” and flips them, revealing with a clever gimmick how much we underestimate our own beauty. Here, just watch, it’s easier than explaining it:

It’s good advertising. It’s memorable, it’s shareable, it makes you feel warm and fuzzy. I literally feel prettier simply by watching it. Maybe I should go buy some Dove products….

Hold up.

It’s a testament to how compelling this video is that I didn’t bother to put on my critical hat and unpack this bad boy a little. I was so distracted by the swelling music and the teary eyed attractive-but-not-too-attractive people that I forgot that the broader implications of this video are hella problematic.

The blogs Jazzy Little Drops and Eat the Damn Cake do a great job of breaking it down, but here are a few of the key issues:

1. Beauty is still #1 – As the participants in the video experiment articulate, how they feel about themselves as friends, employees, partners, as human beings is affected by how they feel about their looks. This might be true, in the technical sense that many people do feel this way, but it’s not okay. We attribute all sorts of “good” qualities to those that possess certain desirable traits, and all sorts of “bad” qualities to those that don’t. This campaign does nothing to undermine this correlation, but rather reinforces it. As one participant says, natural beauty “could not be more critical to your happiness.” Is that really the message we want to send when we’re pushing “Real Beauty?”

2. Only certain things are beautiful: Namely, anything thin. The positive descriptions of body parts are pretty narrow, “thin nose” and “thin chin” = good. Round face = bad. Freckles = bad. Forget the racial connotations (are thin noses the only good noses?), what we see reflected in the commentary is not that beauty standards should be widened, but that more people meet the arbitrary requirements than we think. Congratulations, you’ve made the cut! Should there be a cut? Well, no… but there is, and you made it (phew! you’re not one of the ugly ones), so bravo for you!

3. Speaking of race….: As Jazzy pointed out, people of color appear on screen a total of 10 seconds. Yeahhhhh, like that’s not reductionist. Do you remember the story about the black newscaster with close-cropped hair who got fired after responding to a viewer who told her to “wear a wig or grow more hair?” The idea that one certain thing–long, straight hair, for example–is objectively beautiful is preposterous. All you have to do is watch Jessica Simpson’s VH1 show The Price of Beauty to remember that what you think is beautiful isn’t necessarily the standard everywhere. Jeez, how arrogant can we get?

So where does that leave us? Where does that leave Dove? I’ve been skeptical of those folks for a while, ever since someone clued me in that their parent company, Unilever, is also the parent company of Axe (maker of body spray and terrible commercials).

The goal of this ad is not to change beauty standards. It is not to diminish the importance we place on beauty as a measure of woman’s worth. It is not to remind the universe that the way you look does not determine the kind of person you are or the value you add to the world. The goal of this ad is to make you buy more Dove products. Period.

Related Post: Why is it okay to put 16-year-olds in lingerie ads? It’s not.

Related Post: Models without make-up.


Filed under Advertising, Body Image, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People

Watch This: Lindy West Explains Away the Trolls

It will get sad before it gets better, but man it’s so good.

Lindy West is one of my faves on Jezebel these days, and to her point, I had no idea what she looked like until this video. Who gives a shit, right?

Related Post: Anita Sarkeesian and a story I’ve been avoiding.

Related Post: The worst of all Facebook pages.

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Filed under Body Image, Media

Video Wednesday

I’m busy, and sleepy, and my coffee consumption is about 8oz behind where it needs to be, so ignore your email for 10 minutes, go find a quiet conference room, and watch some videos that will make you smile:

The Austin Police Department released an It Gets Better video:

Soledad O’Brien is on a serious hot streak. Here she is up against mega pastor Joel Osteen:

Does anyone else have a super crush on The Ill Doctrine’s Jay Smooth? Here’s Jay on why Obama’s leaked tape from 2008 isn’t the same as Romney’s 47%. Can he just talk to me sleep every night? We don’t even have to cuddle.

Related Post: Youtube win: so this is why people hate feminism!

Related Post: The Youtube video that made Elizabeth Warren famous.

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Filed under Media, Politics


Here are the words I can muster today: rape culture, rape apology, pseudo-science, control, misogyny, autonomy, willful misunderstanding, violence, rights, disrespect, faux apology, faux sentimentality, faux outrage, faux, faux, faux, phony, fake. Arrange them as you see fit.

Here are some words by other people that are pretty interesting.  Read when you have the time or the emotional energy to absorb them:

  • Lidia Yuknavitch wrote an essay for The Rumpus about growing up in a culture of sexual violence.
  • Charlotte Shane for The New Inquiry on why our insistence that rape be the “most devastating, world-rocking, soul-shattering” experience deprives women of the right to their individual reactions: “Though some feminists regard “rape equals devastation” as sacred fact, the notion that a man can ruin me with his penis strikes me as the most complete expression of vintage misogyny available.”
  • Did you read MA Senator Scott Brown’s quote“As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin’s comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong. There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking. Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin’s statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for US Senate in Missouri.” I want to applaud, but I can’t because there are two many follow-up questions. You call yourself a Republican, Senator Brown, are you aware of the Republican Party’s official platform’s planks on abortion? Will you call for a change where it actually matters? The New Yorker has compiled seven other polite, carefully worded questions for Republicans as they feign (ahem) outrage over Akin’s comments.

And then there’s this video by Taylor Ferrera which is amazing, and is the bright spot in this week’s thundercloud of horribleness:

Some people give up. Some people write long eloquent essays. Some people link to other people’s long eloquent essays. Other people sing songs.

Related Post: The changing iconography of abortion.

Related Post: Daniel Tosh.

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Filed under Gender, Media, Politics

Rise and Fall

If you want to know what you’re getting into when you choose a David Mitchell novel, commit three minutes to reading this interview first:

 “I learned that language is to the human experience what spectography is to light: Every word holds a tiny infinity of nuances, a genealogy, a social set of possible users, and that although a writer must sometimes pretend to use language lightly, he should never actually do so — the stuff is near sacred.”

Swoon. I finished Cloud Atlas, that epic boomerang of a book, or, as Mitchell described it, “a row of ever-bigger fish eating the one in front” and I highly recommend it. Its major themes are power imbalances, the overreaches of authoritative bodies, the inevitable consequences of our technological dependence, and some variation of our “gimme gimme gimme” culture.

And of course there are some awesome structural elements, like a futuristic gossip rag-style interview between an archivist and a clone (called a “fabricant”) on death row, and a fictional dialect of a post-apocalyptic Hawaiian colony. I’m making it sound uber-cray, which it is, but just trust me that it all fits together.

You know what else it fits with? This amazing Hans Rosling video mapping the rise and fall of… well, the world. Rosling maps health and wealth of 200 countries over the last two centuries. Watch South Africa get richer and sicker due to the AIDS epidemic, watch the decimation of two world wars, and watch Japan join the early winners in the global domination game.

In Hans Rosling’s map, there is hope for improvement. The giant blue arrow framing the end of his presentation is indicative that slowly, unequally, and hestitantly, we are collectively moving towards a better future.

In Mitchell’s book, we begin on a primitive, ill, South Pacific island struggling to climb out from under violent oppressors. We climb all the way through the present into a future, on another tropical island, that is as sick and struggling and violent as ever. At least it’s fiction?

Related Post: Hans Rosling on the importance of washing machines.

Related Post: I had an English teacher who taught me the value of each and every word.


Filed under Books, Politics

Sunday Scraps 51

1. WANTON: Frank Bruni at the New York Times does a great job explaining the double standard sexual talk that has become all the rage. I guess it’s been around for awhile, but it suddenly seems much louder.

2. BASEBALL: There’s no crying in baseball. Great piece by Fit and Feminist about the 20th anniversary of A League of Their Own.

3. GRANNY: The Raging Grannies have been around since 1987, but this “Viagra Review Board” photo just kills me.

4. JARGON: Forbes March Madnesses the hell out of terrible corporate jargon. “Core competency” takes on “Buy in” in the first round, while “Hard stop” battles “Best practices.”

5. INSPIRATION: Do you need some? This kid just learned to ride a bike, and he has words of wisdom for us all.

6. GLORIA: NYT piece on Gloria Steinem and why such a singular iconic figure hasn’t emerged to represent in our current feminist battles. Also, it quotes Christine Stansell, one of my favorite college professors!

Related Post: Sunday 50 = “Slut” frequency, xkcd on pick-up, and March Madness for The Wire.

Related Post: Sunday 49 = Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, raunchy mom-lit, 1938 dating advice.


Filed under Body Image, Guest Posts, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sex, Sports


Did you see that nutso video from the American Life League about the machinations of Planned Parenthood? Their bottom line is that, much like drug dealers want to create drug addicts to drum up business, Planned Parenthood is trying to create sex addicts to increase “sales” of contraception and abortion. Planned Parenthood even has its own gateway drug to lure in the unsuspecting youth: masturbation.

It’s preposterous on many rational levels, but rationality has never been a strong suit of these folks. This video is so far off the rails that I can’t even be offended, only amused. When it’s all over and the condom-rolling, Pride dancing, and funny sex illustrations have run their course, I’m left feeling like this man (and who he represents) is living in an entirely different universe than I am.

The problem is, we are never going to agree, and there is no compromise to be had. Our fundamental difference boils down to this:

In my universe, sex is mostly good.

In his universe, sex is mostly bad.

In my universe, we celebrate the fact that in the course of history, people have found this huge wide array of ways to find pleasure. We say, go out and seek them as you see fit, but treat yourself and your partners with dignity and respect.

In his universe, we condemn the fact that people have found all of these non-heterosexual, non-monogamous, non-marital, non-reproductive ways to find pleasure. They say, it doesn’t matter what you want, stop that nonsense and do only this one particular thing that doesn’t offend my delicate sensibilities.

In my universe, we should regulate people’s sexual behavior as little as possible, and only in ways that are absolutely essential to public safety (i.e. prohibiting rape, child pornography, etc.)

In his universe, we should regulate people’s sexual behavior as much as possible, limiting them to a very specific act that subjugates pleasure in favor of reproductive duty.

In my universe, “condom,” “oral sex”, “clitoris,” and “homosexual” are just words. They describe acts, objects, and body parts. They are not evil or wrong or bad. They are also not inherently good. They are just words.

In his universe, “condom,” “oral sex,” “clitoris,” and “homosexual” are the roots of all evil. Even “pleasure” is a dirty word, and not in the fun way.

These are fundamentally different world views, and I don’t have much faith, if any, that they will ever be reconciled through persuasion or compromise. Secession? Might just be the best bet.

Related Post: The “Death of Pretty” conflates innocence with purity. 

Related Post: Some people think lesbian role models have no place in the Girl Scouts canon.


Filed under Education, Gender, Sex

Sunday Scraps 46

1. DISNEY: The most epic Disney a capella medley ever. Costume changes included. Prepare yourself, it’s seven minutes long.

2. TAPE: Artist Max Zorn uses only brown packing tape and a scalpel to make these images.

3. TECH: Geek out with me over this sweet graph tracking browser usage. Watch the life and death of AOL, the rise of Mozilla, and ridiculous longevity of Internet Explorer.

4. SAVAGE: Dan Savage + Ira Glass. Done and done.

5. WHALES: Salon has a fascinating look at the history and veracity of the man-in-whale folklore. Is it possible to come out the other side, as so many myths would suggest?

6. CHOICE: Really excellent essay about why pro-life advocate John Saveland supports Planned Parenthood. Imagine how much further this conversation could go if everyone employed such rationality and logic!

Related Post: Sunday 45: Peggy Orenstin, Tim Gunn, and Loving family photos.

Related Post: Sunday 44: Tween feminists, booty call rules, Margaret Cho


Filed under Art, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sex