Category Archives: Pop-Culture

A Story Like Mine

We highly recommended watching Halsey’s incredible performance. If you are unable to listen, you can read the transcript full transcript below via Billboard.

It’s 2009 and I’m 14 and I’m crying
Not really sure where I am but I’m holding the hand of my best friend Sam
In the waiting room of a Planned Parenthood
The air is sterile and clean, and the walls are that not grey, but green
And the lights are so bright they could burn a whole through the seam of my jeans
My phone is buzzing in the pocket
My mom is asking me if I remembered my keys ’cause she’s closing the door and she needs to lock it
But I can’t tell my mom where I’ve gone
I can’t tell anyone at all
You see, my best friend Sam was raped by a man that we knew ’cause he worked in the after-school program
And he held her down with her textbook beside her
And he covered her mouth and he came inside her
So now I’m with Sam, at the place with a plan, waiting for the results of a medical exam
And she’s praying she doesn’t need an abortion, she couldn’t afford it
And her parents would, like, totally kill her

It’s 2002 and my family just moved and the only people I know are my mom’s friends, too, and her son
He’s got a case of Matchbox cars and he says that he’ll teach me to play the guitar if I just keep quiet
And the stairwell beside apartment 1245 will haunt me in my sleep for as long as I am alive
And I’m too young to know why it aches in my thighs, but I must lie, I must lie

It’s 2012 and I’m dating a guy and I sleep in his bed and I just learned how to drive
And he’s older than me and he drinks whiskey neat and he’s paying for everything
This adult thing is not cheap
We’ve been fighting a lot, almost 10 times a week
And he wants to have sex, and I just want to sleep
He says I can’t say no to him
This much I owe to him
He buys my dinner, so I have to blow him
He’s taken to forcing me down on my knees
And I’m confused ’cause he’s hurting me while he says please
And he’s only a man, and these things he just needs
He’s my boyfriend, so why am I filled with unease?

It’s 2017 and I live like a queen
And I’ve followed damn near every one of my dreams
I’m invincible and I’m so fucking naive
I believe I’m protected ’cause I live on a screen
Nobody would dare act that way around me
I’ve earned my protection, eternally clean
Until a man that I trust gets his hands in my pants
But I don’t want none of that, I just wanted to dance
And I wake up the next morning like I’m in a trance and there’s blood
Is that my blood?
Hold on a minute

You see I’ve worked every day since I was 18
I’ve toured everywhere from Japan to Mar-a-Lago
I even went on stage that night in Chicago when I was having a miscarriage
I mean, I pied the piper, I put on a diaper
And sang out my spleen to a room full of teens
What do you mean this happened to me?
You can’t put your hands on me
You don’t know what my body has been through
I’m supposed to be safe now
I earned it

It’s 2018 and I’ve realized nobody is safe long as she is alive
And every friend that I know has a story like mine
And the world tells me we should take it as a compliment
But then heroes like Ashley and Simone and Gabby, McKayla and Gaga, Rosario, Aly
Remind me this is the beginning, it is not the finale
And that’s why we’re here
And that’s why we rally
It’s Olympians and a medical resident and not one fucking word from the man who is President
It’s about closed doors and secrets and legs and stilletos from the Hollywood hills to the projects in ghettos
When babies are ripped from the arms of teen mothers and child brides cry globally under the covers
Who don’t have a voice on the magazine covers
They tell us take cover

But we are not free until all of us are free
So love your neighbor, please treat her kindly
Ask her story and then shut up and listen
Black, Asian, poor, wealthy, trans, cis, Muslim, Christian 
Listen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungs
Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues
For the people who had to grow up way too young
There is work to be done
There are songs to be sung
Lord knows there’s a war to be won

Louie​ ​C.K’s​ ​“Feminism” and why it always sucked

By Anna Bottrell

Every Hollywood abuser outed has their own special punch in the gut sensation, but Louie C.K. is one that pained me with a little extra oomph. As a supposed feminist, how could I have been watching everything he’s been putting out for years while somehow missing that he’s a complete scumbag? Can hypocritical assholes imitate good feminists that convincingly? I’ve used this as an opportunity to think about what warning signs slipped on by.

Louie’s feminism takes a familial note. I can recall Louie winning celebrity jeopardy in the name of a charity for women injured in childbirth, and the time that Louie endorsed Hillary Clinton because she is a mother. His daughters are his stated motivation behind almost every positive thing he does. “Women” in the more general, he sees in a semi-angelic light. In a well known bit, he compares the leap of faith a woman has in going on a date with a man as insanity . Men are lower creatures. They are closer to the animal kingdom. Louie isolates intrusive sexual urges as male.

I am not going to attempt to connect Louie’s picture of the world to reality, or assess its accuracy or inaccuracy. I’m merely going to trust that his signature “raw” style of standup does actually reflect the tone of his inner attitudes on gender. There have been comedy bits done by every genius and every hack on “the difference between men and women” for years, but Louie’s specific tone of moral dichotomy is unique and permeating throughout his career.

The plot of his movie that barely escaped release, “I Love You, Daddy”, centers around a man (played by C.K.) who admires a Woody Allen-esque filmmaker and subsequently dismisses his reputation as an abuser and manipulator of young girls. That is, until his own daughter is the girl involved. Fathers having some sort of moral compulsion to guard a young woman’s sexual behavior is a recurrent trope that goes back to images of self righteous dads intimidating potential boyfriends with shotguns. I Love You, Daddy is different from these typical cases of fatherly overreach, where the dad believing that he has a say is a much more simple case of patriarchal control of households and a moral view of looking at women’s sexuality. The filmmaker is an abuser of minors, but then again, Louie’s character is dismissive of abusers, and also reportedly shown miming masturbation in front of a room of people (eerily similar to CK’s actual behavior with women).

The idea that women can be tugged around by protectors and violators like little rag-dolls is fairly typical Louie C.K. material, perpetuating the image he builds where women are defined by familial connections and by a lack of the chaotic urges that lead men astray. Men’s feelings and actions are the ones focused on, even if women are pivotal to the story. This treatment may make men the bad guys and show women in a positive light, sure. But, it’s dehumanizing, and it’s dismissive of predatory behavior in men, by including it in a universalized picture, and therefore implying that at least the motivations behind it are unavoidable.

An illustration of this concept sticks out in my memory, from the TV show Louie. It is a scene in which Louie is rejected by his romantic interest and proceeds by attempting to rape her. She wrestles him off of her, and chides that he can’t even rape correctly. The scene isn’t strictly comedic, and instead veers into the drama that mixes with the humor of the show. It also wasn’t very realistic, though I have no idea if it was supposed to feel real in any way. The scene very clearly came from a male perspective, where the viewer was intended to feel the swell of Louie’s emotions, and the woman’s lack of a reaction was secondary.

In Louie’s world, him being an abuser doesn’t really make him a particularly bad guy, even though he’s harmful. In his world, all men are driven by similar urges. He is one of a scummy pack, and all he can do is try to devote himself to a fatherly role, trying to save the ones he has an emotional obligation to save, from this lopsided world.

Women who aren’t his daughters aren’t really rewarded the same courtesy. It may be that in order to feel an incentive towards respecting women, he feels the need to see them as more little girls under his wing. This would explain the highly criticized part of his shoddy apology, where he overemphasizes how much 5 the women he abused had “admired” him.

Additionally, though Louie claims to care about “women” in terms of this wide group of inherently superior individuals, he still thinks of his needs and feelings and urges first in all exchanges with them, and assumes them to be a form of “other” while the flawed male is the default. One can observe this while listening to his comedy, that the male perspective is the one that we are invited to occupy as the audience. Louie is a man, so some might think it is a given. However, I think that’s a bit of a lazy way out when it comes to art. And, make no mistake, Louie C.K. believes himself to be an artist. Consider the rape scene on Louie. The woman was a developed character, but when a man near her was having intense emotions, his were the ones that superseded hers. If in other cases she was granted the opportunity to be fleshed out, then this sudden laziness without a joke to balance it doesn’t really seem artistically defensible.

In the future, I hope feminism is held to a higher standard. Even if he had never shown anybody his penis, the picture he creates of a world where the current patriarchal system of oppression is a byproduct of inherent psychological urges isn’t compatible with an agenda of social change, which is what any form of pragmatic feminism should include.

I’m concerned by the fact that I never unpacked these objections until it was too late. Maybe I was distracted by the positivity, the flattery of his portrait of women. Maybe I excused it as a joke, not seeing the underlying attitudes that Louie was espousing, and that his hordes of male fans relate to. I don’t know how many of them use the same excuses to themselves that Louie did, considering their morality to be biologically handicapped, but it’s about time that we stop spouting gender pseudoscience to each other veiled and packaged in the form of jokes, or “art”.

Some men say that feminists are overly sensitive, and can’t take a joke. I don’t know what kind of laugh they expect from me half the time, maybe some sort of existentialist reaction where I laugh at the mundanity of hearing the same jokes over and over again, accompanied by the claim that men are better at thinking of jokes than women. Have I heard a man think up an original sexist joke? Maybe Louie C.K. did, and it slipped past me, and I think I laughed. Personally, I thought Louie C.K. was funny, at least most of the time, but this is a prime example of a joke not being funny anymore. When I was a little kid, I thought Bill Cosby was funny. When I was a teenager, I used to laugh along to Joss Whedon’s dialogue in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I laughed at Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie, and Wag the Dog. I don’t think I’m going to be laughing anymore, and if you’re a man reading this article who wants to tell me that I have no sense of humor, then nobody’s stopping you.

The Joke That’s No Laughing Matter

By Sabrina Huston

There’s been a joke going around social media lately. “I have PTSD-President Trump Stress Disorder. Impeachment is the cure.” The joke has become popular enough that there is now a t-shirt for sale on websites from sunfrog to amazon including Prime shipping. Articles about “President Trump Stress Disorder” have appeared in numerous publications, including USA Today, the Huffington Post, the New York Daily News, and the International Business Times, often in a mocking light. To use an acronym such as PTSD, which has significant meaning, for this political joke and reality is despicable and inhuman.

Political anxiety is real. Many people are concerned about losing health care or family members and Republicans in Washington continue to ignore the calls of the people. Politically caused anxiety, while it can often be debilitating, is not the same as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and conflating the two is helping no one.

People seeking therapy for anxiety caused by the possibility of their parents or siblings being deported an increasing occurrence should not be mislead into believing they have PTSD. That misbelief can hurt chances of therapy being successful or helpful at all.

But the main problem here is not the serious discussion taking place on some media sites and within the psychological community over how to best assist those who fear family separation through ICE. The problem is that mental illness, especially PTSD, has increasingly become a punchline.

Triggers are a real thing for many people. Some people with depression are triggered by graphic descriptions of violence, as it can remind them of episodes of self-harm. Many veterans with PTSD are triggered by loud explosions, such as fireworks, which can send them into traumatic memories. Memories of my suicide attempts are often triggered by classical music. Not all triggers make sense, but they are all legitimate and should be recognized as such. Despite this, a popular meme has been making fun of people who object to racism or graphic imagery with the phrase “triggered” overlaid on an often blurred picture. The mocking of a serious mental health concern has caused many college classes to stop giving trigger warnings due to a lack of understanding by the administration and professors as to what triggers and trigger warnings are. A trigger warning, or content warning, is a brief blurb of what may cause or trigger someone’s mental illness symptoms. For example, someone with PTSD will often relive a traumatic memory, including emotions, compulsions, and feelings of anxiety or panic. To not give someone a warning and the opportunity to avoid or mentally prepare themselves for whatever is coming is indeed inhuman and uncaring.

Mental health is a serious issue, especially in the US. In 2014 42,826 people committed suicide in the United States, and 383,000 visited emergency rooms from self-inflicted wounds. The number of suicides is still rising, with an estimated 44,193 committing suicide in 2016. Despite this epidemic, we still treat mental health as a joke, on both the right and the left, as can be seen by the “triggered” memes and the “Impeachment is the cure” t-shirt. Mental health is a serious issue that affects people of all races, genders, sexualities, socio-economic backgrounds, and ages. It is not a joke, it is not something that can be used as a scapegoat for gun violence, nor something to be turned into a horror trope. It is a serious issue far too many people are afraid to deal with properly, often for fear of being mocked or harassed. So, the next time you think of reposting a “triggered” meme, or saying you have “President Trump Stress Disorder,” remember this: you’re making it harder for people to take care of themselves.

Beauty in Vain

By Alice Elbakian

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The above painting by John William Waterhouse is titled Vanity (1910) and, I am sure, has been the subject of many angry feminist rants. Waterhouse must have thought her intriguing or beautiful or enchanting, at least enough to want to paint and capture her. He paints her with a mirror in hand, she is dressed in white, wearing makeup, and is fixing her hair with a flower (an obvious symbol of femininity). She’s near jewelry and more background flowers, femininity all around. He seems to laud her as she lauds her femininity. None of this is problematic. Until he titles it. Vanity. He doesn’t mean furniture. It’s not a compliment. It’s the perfect example of Marilyn Frye’s double bind, and it is the earlier, Victorian version of slut shaming or duck-face-selfie shaming (I can only assume).

The subject in the painting appears to do everything she is “supposed to do” in Victorian society. She walks the walk and silences her talk. She is shrouded in femininity. She is femininity. She occupies space in a man’s world, abiding, of course, by man’s rules. She wears a sign that says “I’m not a threat”. Waterhouse presumably saw a perfect woman and wanted to paint her. But he doesn’t reward her or her perfect womanity, the very things that drew him to her. Instead he immortalizes a shameful conception of this woman. He labels his subject ‘vain’ even though if she were not doing what she is doing in the painting, he would hardly have found her muse-worthy, in fact he likely would have looked down on her. Social standards tell the subject to do one thing. She’s rewarded for this in the only way she can be – she’s objectified but even this doesn’t happen positively.

She’s given a new name. Vain. Excessively proud. Or, worthless and futile. Depending on the definition. She does what she’s told. She’s good maybe too good. A woman getting too comfortable with

herself, growing too comfortably in the skin she’s been prescribed to wear. Maybe she’s beginning to see herself, as beautiful, in that little mirror? Like a Victorian selfie. She already seems to be celebrating herself, maybe she wants to document the moment on her own, form her own conception of self, with her own eyes. With eyes that might see her the way she wants to be seen. With eyes that might know her full story. Like a selfie.

No. The moment she does this is the moment that Waterhouse captures and criticizes. In the title he returns to his role of oppressor and “looker”. Decider. He reminds the subject and every viewer that it’s offensive and devaluing for women to love themselves, to see themselves, to honor the parts of themselves that are at once most natural and contrived. Because the point isn’t just following the rules. It’s occupying the space you’re allotted in the way you’re supposed to.

Click for more about the “revolutionary potential of your own face” in relation to the selfie.

Ghood​ ​Ghurl​ ​or​ ​Bhad​ ​Bhabie? How Daytime TV Props up the Madonna-Whore Complex

By Anna Bottrell

Danielle Bregoli is a human meme: the ultimate form of objectification. The 14 year old’s claim to fame is one threatening utterance of mimic AAVE , “cash me ousside, how bow dah”, 1 said on Dr. Phil. A crowd of golden aged women hissed and booed at this narrowly post-tweenage rebel, sitting in beige solidarity with their mustachioed patriarch.

Dr. Phil is a simple concept. Somebody asked, “How do we make Maury Povich less trashy?”, and in popped the doctor with his degree and expertise in mental health, to alleviate the guilt of the viewers. If he flicks his wrist at the end of the episode, sending Danielle to equine therapy, then the viewers can feel absolved of their guilt. They are supporting a benevolent enterprise, not Maury, but Maury Lite.

Danielle appeared on the episode entitled, “I Want To Give Up My Car-Stealing, Knife-Wielding, Twerking 13-Year-Old Daughter Who Tried To Frame Me For A Crime”.

Following her initial notoriety, she has attempted to independently develop her public persona via social media. Additionally, she has forayed into rap. Performing under the nom de guerre ‘Bhad Bhabie”, she released the single “These Heaux”, with two follow-up tracks. She is now signed with Atlantic Records.

Reaction videos to her songs are scattered across youtube, where one can find vloggers with their engines revved, ready to pancake this young girl’s dream of self-reinvention.

Rather than turning up our noses at a girl who was exploited by her family rather than placed inconspicuously in therapy, we should attempt to take this issue with greater objectivity and distance.

On Dr. Phil, teen rebellion is a gendered activity. The episodes of this show featuring troubled young men are generally centered around drug use or violence, issues that their feminine counterparts often deal with as well, but the the teens receive radically different treatments. These are some titles of episodes that have aired since the infamous ‘cash me outsideepisode : “Our 21-Year-Old Daughter Is Gorgeous, Wild and Violent”, “My Beautiful 34 Daughters Accuse Me of Being a Controlling, Manipulative Father”, “Beautiful Missing Teen: The Phone Call, the Chase, the Dramatic Conclusion”, “Drinking Since 18, 3 DUIs by 21, Passed Out by the Side of the Road: My Beautiful Daughter Needs Rehab Now!”, “ Police Called 100 Times on Our Car-Stealing, Drug-Taking, Dad-Beating, Beautiful 15-Year-Old, Who Is Now Corrupting Her Younger Sister”, “My Head-Butting, Furniture-Throwing 9-Year-Old Daughter Looks Like an Angel but Behaves Like a Wild Child: Who’s to Blame for Her Behavior?, “Beautiful, Privileged, Addicted, Homeless … and Pregnant!”, “Help! My Beautiful Teen Daughter Is Living in a Motel With Two Strangers”.

The bodies of these women are commented on, even if the woman in question is 9 years old or a kidnapping victim.

The episodes that feature a man typically have titles like this: “Our Son Is on the Run From the Law so He Can Become a Rock Star”, or “Young, Smart and out of Control: Our 17-Year-Old Son Is Facing 2 DUIs and Prison!”.

The only ones I found that comment on the bodies or sexualities of men are “Bad Boy Blake With Abs of Steel: Can Dr. Phil Break Through His Cold Heart?”, “My Handsome Reality TV Star Ex and Father of My Son Thinks He’s God’s Gift to Women”, and arguably “My Brother Changed His Name to Sexy Vegan, Wears Speedos in Public, and Is Spending My Mom’s 11 Million Dollar Inheritance”.

Additionally, this exploitation takes a twist when one realizes that the target viewing audience of Dr. Phil is women . This implies that Dr. Phil is not calling the girls “beautiful” to appease viewers who watch daytime tv for a flash of breasts, unless his secret business plan is to draw in as many lesbians as possible.

The women watching Dr. Phil apparently aren’t interested in being titillated by men, either, with perhaps the exception of Blake’s abs of steel. In actuality, the mentions of bodies and sex are included for pandering towards the “good girl gone bad” trope, the Madonna-whore complex, the idea that sexuality is not moral for women.

Danielle Bregoli falls victim to this as well, with “twerking” listed as one of her major crimes, apparently shocking enough to rival “car-stealing” and “knife-wielding”.

In the video for her song “Hi Bich”, Bhad Bhabie wears a wedding dress, her hands folded in mocking piety. Her smirk implores us, “Is this what you prefer?”. Do we find the image of her as a dutiful child bride more or less disturbing than the image of her twerking?

Teenage rebellion is a rite of passage that many of us, men and women, squirm through on our journeys to independence. It should not be gendered. Why are women drawn to judge each other by these constructed standards, to mock and jeer at developing sexualities?

If you can stomach it, go ahead and crucify these girls on t-back thongs. However, at Hoochie, we are more concerned with knife-wielding than twerking.

On Minimization as a Patriarchal Reflex

By Matthew Remski

On Facebook, I posted a brief note about starting to learn what is painfully obvious to women: patriarchy inflicts the stress of constant bodily vigilance at best and acute terror at worse.

The post took off and the comments were stunning. So many stood out, like those that reported on strategies for increasing safety in taxis. One commenter wrote that she always video-chats with a friend while she’s alone in an Uber, dropping details that signal to the driver that someone knows where they are. If men don’t know about this kind of defensive labour, they’ve got to learn.

I don’t have to assault women to participate in the normalization of assault. My learned, default responses are participation enough. Without that participation, could assault really be so prevalent?

I have to climb a mountain, forty years high, to look a little boy in the eye and tell him it’s okay to feel his pain and sorrow. To tell him it’s a good thing, actually. That it will help him learn to listen, and listening will help him let other people have their feelings as well.

 

Read the entire post here

Sansa Stark & Game of Thrones

Last night the new season of Game of  Thrones premiered. And while there are rapist, murders, etc. in the story (really the list is rather long), the character of fourteen year old Sansa Stark gets constant hate.

Actress Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in HBO's Game of Thrones
Actress Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones

You don’t have to like the character Sansa, but maybe you should take a moment to consider why you don’t like her before you start complaining about how horrible she is.

In her article, “Why Sansa Stark is the Strongest Character on ‘Game of Thrones’” Julianne Ross writes how this hatred is because Sansa makes these mistakes while still acting like a girl.

She adds:

“The female characters we tend to applaud typically adhere to a particular formula for strength, one that breaks the patriarchal mold of how a woman should behave. This can be empowering, but the constant regurgitation of this one type of “strong female character” limits the kind of women we value on screen and dismisses the merits of those who prove themselves in a different way. Male characters aren’t confined by the same standards, and more stereotypically “feminine” traits like patience, kindness and adaptability shouldn’t be seen as inherently lesser than more “masculine” ones like physical strength or the ability to lead an army into battle.”

It’s an analysis that applies towards many typically feminine characters that are so frequently hated in movies or television shows. So for those of you who hate Sansa Stark, read through this article first before you make up your mind about her.

Power in Female Nudity

I’ll start off with the disclaimer that I have never actually seen an episode Girls. Currently, it is in the long list of shows I will one day get to.

However the show, and Lena Dunham in particular, seems to constantly come up in discussion of feminism and representation of women so perhaps I’ll get around to watching it sooner.

Recently there was some controversy over the question that The Wrap reporter Tim Molloy asked during the Television Critics Association winter press tour for the show.

The conversation being discussed goes as follows:

Molloy: “I don’t get the purpose of all of the nudity on the show, by you particularly, and I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you go, ‘Nobody complains about the nudity on Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they are doing it. They are doing it to be salacious and, you know, titillate people. And your character is often naked just at random times for no reason.”

Dunham: “It’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think, and I totally get it. If you are not into me, that’s your problem, and you are going to have to kind of work that out with whatever professionals you’ve hired.”

via Buzzfeed

With the third season just being about to start, it makes sense that the show’s panel would be sick of getting asked questions like this.

But whether you watch the show or not, for a more elaborate response to Molloy and why female nudity can be powerful, and should be shown more frequently, I recommend going to this article: 6 Reasons Female Nudity Can Be Powerful

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Catching Fire: Fighting Gender Roles

Recently there has been much hype about the Hunger Game franchise. The article, What Really Makes Katniss Stand Out? Peeta, her Movie Girlfriend  highlights the gender role reversal.

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Going by traditional Hollywood rules, make no mistake: Peeta is a Movie Girlfriend. Peeta is Pepper Potts and Gwen Stacy, helping and helping and helping until the very end, when it’s time for the stakes, and the stakes are: NEEDS RESCUE. Peeta is Annie in Speed, who drives that bus like a champ right up until she winds up handcuffed to a pole covered with explosives. Peeta is Holly in Die Hard, who holds down the fort against the terrorists until John McClane can come and find her (and she can give back her maiden name).

Here’s to the Hunger Games highlighting different gender roles.