Saturday, October 31, 2015

Men in Heels

Photo: Tim Evanson
Fashion that crosses, blurs, or ignored gender lines is currently very hip.  But, as many commentators have noted, this general means both genders dressing more-or-less masculine.  The taboo against men dressing in traditionally female ways is far, far stronger than vice versa.

And in modern times the idea of what is suitable for men is much narrower than many other times in history.  Take high heels for example.  Throughout history you can find examples of men wearing heels.

These days men in heels are generally cross-dressing, making a statement about a women's issue, or ritually self-humiliating for charity. But men have been wearing heels sporadically clubs over the last few years for simple reasons of fashion,

I rarely wear heels myself but will admit to thinking they are super-hot on men, so I hope this is a trend with, as they say, some legs.

Dear Daily Mail...

...A long sleeved swimsuit is not "bizarre".  Especially in Australia because: Hello, ozone hole.  It is one small step towards not getting melanoma.

Friday, October 30, 2015

It is Totes Time to Bring Back the Muff.

As women's fashion continues to be largely devoid of pockets, and I want to be free to check my phone at a seconds notice so gloves are no good, we need to bring back those little furry hand-warmers of times gone by.  Not the stupid enormous dead-animal and upholstery numbers.  More like a cozy knitted thing with maybe some jaunty faux fur on the outside. 

Someone on Etsy needs to get all over this.

Navy Officers Should not Have to Pay for the New Uniforms

As I previously discussed, the Navy is moving to a single uniforms for males and females. A move I would personally support.  I also think it is quite reasonable that the shared uniform is essential the longstanding "male" version with minor adjustments.

What seems considerably less reasonable is that is seems (by some reports) that female officers will not be given a payment to support moving to the new uniform standard, and so would have to buy these new uniforms out of pocket.

As the changes are compulsory, this is essentially fining the women for being women.  Come on Navy, makes sure all Navy officers are compensated for the need to buy new uniforms!

But there is more to the issue than gender.  Many service people seem to have an "I had to pay for lots of stuff; so should you" attitude--like it is a kind of hazing. In my opinion as a civilian, all of this compulsory equipment should be provided to you, men and women. Time for the state to stop shoveling their operating expenses onto the personnel.

Most service men and women are on low incomes and charging them for everything from haircuts while deployed to bullet-proof vests that actually work is a lazy way for the state to reduce its own budgets by literally forcing the soldier and sailors to buy their own equipment and pay for their own work-related expenses.

I think that entire practice, and the culture that has normalized it, needs to change. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bodybuilding Animal Abusing Asshats

Speaking of body builders, anyone who makes an art of developing their own body but will starve animals until they look like the living dead needs to burn in hell.  I mean that.  I can almost get behind really wanting to perfect the human form.  Sure, why not. But it should connect to a general desire for the wellbeing of all.

And most especially for the well being of domestic animals that are delivered, just by being a member of their species, into a state of absolute vulnerability.  Any animal we take responsibility for is utterly an completely dependent on our compassion and out conscientious care.  And this is what these asshats did to their horse.

Perfecting the body can be an exercise in art. Perfecting your own body while a helpless animal starves to death right in front for you is a exercise in pure unadulterated narcissism. And of the body building community has any integrity whatsoever they will turn on this couple and repudiate them as loudly and publicly as possible. Including banning them from every contest, publication or other form of recognition that community/industry has on offer.

Regardless, they need to be prosecuted the fullest extent that the law allows. And for every lame ass excuse they make, a year should be added to he sentence.

Did you know that male body buiders have breast surgery?

JMZ1122 Dr. Mordcai Blau
One of the ore fun side effects that anabolic steroids can have is the development of excessive breast tissue or "gynecomastia".  Kind of ironic, right? And very unwelcome to the super-buff male bodybuilder

You would think that getting off anabolic steroids would be the answer.  Which it is, for six weeks so that you can get it surgically removed and then get back to doing crazy things to your body.

Harsh gender pressures, distorted body images, self abuse: totes not just for women.

Walking the Griffon

Unburn Your Bras! (If You Want To!) (it's Totally Up To You!)

Some women do not like wearing bras, and that's cool with me.  But as someone who does, I wish people would stop inventing reasons to disparage the practice.  Like Gwyneth Paltrow digging up that whole myth that bras contribute to breast cancer (discussed here).

The whole "bra burning" feminist stereotype has its toesies in fact, with some women suggesting bras are only worn to confirm to a beauty ideal and pointing to cultures where sagging boobs are considered normal.  Of course some of these cultures also make women stay in a hut while menstruating, thus illustrating that "traditional in subsistence cultures" is not synonymous with wise.

Ancient Greek breastband
Bras are not worn purely to prevent sagging, they have an even longer history of being used, especially by female athletes, to prevent movements that can distract from or impair performance physical tasks (a.k.a. "jiggling").  This suggests that said jiggling might be unpleasant for active women for reasons other than internalized patriarchal self-loathing.

In fact the centuries old Stethodesme or Fascia (cloth or leather breastbands) were essentially a more inconvenient version of the bra.  If western culture had not headed off down the path of corsetry (a.k.a. binding things that don't jiggle) we might actually have developed a decent sports bra by now.

For those not disturbed by their jiggling, that's cool.  Personally I prefer to do without it and that is a totally valid choice, thank you very much.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"What’s peculiar about the tomb is that it contains only a single person and includes a remarkable wealth of mostly foreign objects, as well as artifacts typically associated with women."--National Geographic.

What seems odd to me is that, without an further information, we are meant to understand that combs and mirrors were only used by women 3,500 years ago when this grave was prepared.  It seems to me than men then, as men now, had hair and needed to look at themselves from time to time.  If there is anything specifically marking these items as the combs and mirror of a woman, the article does not mention it.

Colossal: A Movie to Watch Out For

Speaking of Godzilla, apparently there is a movie in the works which combines a giant monster in Asia (reports varies as to which nation) with a woman having a life crisis (lost job, bad boyfriends, the usual).  I am not sure if it is genuine paranormal, story of the mental breakdown, or some serious magical realism.  But with Anne Hathaway as the lead, Nacho Vigalondo directing, an a giant rubber monster tromping some cite skyline to smithereens, sign me up for the advance screening of Colossal.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

For days when HULK SMASH just isn't enough

Someone needs to get me one of these, like right now.

A special kind of apple crisp....

No sugar added... but possibly some poison.

I didn't even know some schools had gendered graduation gowns

But, boy, do I think it makes sense to give up this practice. Grand Haven High School (MI) used to graduate students in yellow for girls and blue for boys.  Now they are going for all blue.

The story included a fair bit of whining, including "Not all parents are pleased either. If they only had daughters, and were planning to reuse an older sister's gold cap and gown, they will now have to purchase blue ones."  Which overlooks that in future there will be savings to be had in being able to pass down any gowns that will fit to anyone who can use them, regardless of gender.

Ruby Rose Genderqueer Intro Cut

Ruby Rose
Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer /  
Foter / CC BY-SA
As a host of the MTV Europe Music Awards, Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black) took the opportunity to make a brief, inclusive introduction: “Ladies and gentlemen and everyone in between.”

Of course the the US version of the show was cut down to ensure valuable advertising time was not lost, and they chose to cut this statementI don't think there was necessarily any anti-genderqueer reason for the cut per se.  But the US editors clearly failed to understand why this intro was in fact important and being widely discuss worldwide.

This is yet another example of the US TV industry's penchant for taking world class programming from overseas, especially Europe, and just loping bits off haphazardly to get it into predetermined time slots.  (i.e. butchering Sherlock just to keep the smarmy and unnecessary Masterpiece into.)

Surely it is time to treat the US audience with respect and adapt the schedule so they can enjoy the same full-length, international version of programs from around the world--not the pre-masticated Readers Digest version that our cable overlords like to treat like interchangeable lego bricks, assuming we will neither notice nor care.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

These HIV Posters are Weirdly Sexy

Or is that just me?

Neanderthal Perfume

A British collaboration have released two perfumes inspired by Neanderthals.  Or perhaps a little more rationally, the scents that might have surrounded Neanderthals during our prehistory, as imagined by Japanese artist Kentaro Yamada. With a bottle reminiscence of the ancient way of chipping stone blades and other tools (called "knapping").

While our old outlook on Neanderthals was excessively derogatory, and it has been established that many of us have a few Neanderthal ancestors, I am not sure many people are ready to consider them the perfect inspiration for a personal odor.

My What a Big Eggplant

Apropos my last post, this ride on eggplant at my local Goodwill looks rather different to me now.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Did you know the eggplant emoji meant "penis"?

I feel so behind the times.  I did not even know that the emoji for "penis" was the eggplant, and it is already passé.

Friday, October 23, 2015

If women want to write polite emails, they damn well should

Mike Licht, / Foter / CC BY
Here is yet another social media post saying that using softening or hedging language is bad.  That is language like "when you get the time", "this is my opinion", and "I'm sorry".  Many many posts recently picked on the word "just".  Its a bad, bad word gals.

How do we know this language is bad?  Because women use it.  You know, women, the gender known to generally be good at using language and managing inter-personal relationships.  What would they know.

Maybe the solution is not to get all women to be blunt, inconsiderate and demanding, but to have a workplace where being considerate is not penalized. Where we send messages that acknowledge that other people's and opinions have some value FFS.


Make War, Not (Self) Love

The sale of these dildos and sex devices with orifices remains, to this day, illegal in Texas.  Those who contravene this Act are subject to being licensed as sex offenders. (As recently as 2008 the mere possession of more than five sex toys in the shape of genitals was likewise illegal in this state.) The sales of sex toys is also illegal in Alabama and punishable by up to ten years in prison. The only winner with stupid laws like these is Amazon.

Hillary Clinton and the Gender Card

Hillary is being accused of playing the "gender card" by making comments like:

"Yes, finally fathers will be able to say to their daughters, you too can grow up to be president."

Yet is was completely fine for previous presidents to comment on the exact same thing:

"Certainly in the next 50 years we shall see a woman president, perhaps sooner than you think. A woman can and should be able to do any political job that a man can do." (Nixon) 

So is the real message here that the only politicians allowed to play the (female) gender card, are men?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sad People in Silly Pants

Fashion designer Ronaldo Fraga centered his recent catwalk show on underwear with line drawings of genitals on them.  Which I think is hilarious, but I do have one question.

Our rude panties make us sad

Why do models these days always look so goddam miserable?  It is like high fashion still lives back in the time when it was considered very gauche to smile for a photograph.

We are sad that rude pants have not been invented yet

The next high fashion designer who wants to do something really shocking in his or her show (which seems to be most of them) should try having the models look happy.

It's time for Americans to Stop Saying "Coed"

francisco_osorio / Foter / CC BY
Upon moving to America I started noticing that both formally and informally women were being referred to as "coeds".  I did not have a faintest idea why. 

I looked it up and it is defined as "A female student at a coeducational institution" and dates from before 1878.  Which makes some kind of sense because in the Victorian era this would have been a new-fangled thing worthy of (probably derogatory) comment.

But do you know what we now call females that go to tertiary institutions that do not discriminate against their gender?  Students.  We call them students. 

Their presence at an institution of higher learning that men also attend does not require explanation, justification, or comment. It is quite literally unremarkable.  Or at least it should be.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sexy Beasts Show = Mixed Message

I struggle with the concept of the new dating show "Sexy Beasts". They essentially take attractive young adults, given them monster make-up and send them on dates. The idea being that they have to fall back (shock horror) on their "personalities" to make a positive impression.

But all of the contestants are clearly conventionally attractive, so there is no actual risk that any of these people will end up with an average or below average looking person. Thus ultimately no real challenge to the assumption that looks are all that really matter and cute people should only every be with other cute people.

By the way, if you do a picture search for "sexy beasts" with the adult filter turned off, don't blame me for what you see. Let's just say it involves great danes and ponies and it ain't a petting zoo.

My Vote for the Star of the Next Bizarro Kinde Erotica Story

Those of you who hang around the Amazon Kindle pages may have noticed that a certain type of erotica writer thrives on writing about the most unlikely characters. Dinosaurs, Donald Trump, Clippy the Microsoft Assistant, Tetris Blocks, President Lincoln. You name it and there is explicit erotic fiction of it for sale. To those authors, here is a challenge: "Workie" the huge furry avatar of the UK Government Pension fund. Do your worst....

Monday, October 19, 2015

Canon Gandalf is Totally Sexy

Laura Vitto writes: "....the words "sexy" and "Gandalf" are generally considered mutually exclusive."  To which I reply, on what planet? 

No Gandalf is not typically teen-girl-style sexy like Tjitske Van Vark's adorable costume, but is that seriously the only kind of sexuality to be acknowledged?

Anyone who assumes that a negligible number of people think the version below is sexy....  Well,  maybe they need to spend less time making throw-away remarks about "Tumblr geeks" and more time on Tumblr expanding their concept of normal human sexuality.

The advantages of making sex work legal

Hey Paul Studios / Foter / CC BY
In New Zealand sex work (prostitution) is legal, but failing to use a condom is illegal.I guess some people might find it unfair that the (male) clients was outed for this actions, despite being discharged without conviction. But boo hoo for his claim "'s not about myself, it's about my family, and my girlfriend, and my girlfriend's family."  It's about them knowing the truth.  That fact that the truth distresses them is entire on him.

One of the huge talking points about whether sex work should be legal is that we should avoid negative consequences for the sex workers themselves.  But I think this case helps illustrate how legalization in fact takes the weight of responsibility off the sex worker and puts it all on the client where it belongs.  It is his choice to use the service, his legal requirement to use a condom whether requested to or not, whether he knows that is the law or not, and if he breaks that law it is a matter of public record.

So, yes.  I am Team Legalize Prostitution.

We continue to not know how to deal with domestic violence against men

A recent story about the Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk presents very common scenario.  I have seen this happen myself, first hand, and over and over. A statement is made about domestic violence.  A comment is made that the statement or initiative embraces only female victims.  Adjustments are made, but very shortly afterwards the gender bias of the DV community reasserts itself.

Domestic violence is, as Palaszczuk notes, one area in which gender is relevant in that there is often a dynamic where the  "issue is the attitude men have to women as their possessions". But gender is also at play when men are victims and the seriousness of their situation is not respected, their experience is not validated, and there may be little of no help available to them as male victims because services and shelters in the area accommodate only females.

Palaszczuk's argument seems to be that we should essentially ignore, or resist paying undue attention, to male victims because they are a minority.  When Australia long history of discrimination should sure teach us that ignoring the plight of vulnerable minorities is a mistake that the government just keep on making. Any initiative to address domestic violence must accommodate male victims as equally 'valid' victims of this crime with equal access to assistance.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Navy to De-gender Uniforms

In a reverse move to the tendency to make different versions of things for males and females, the US Navy is moving from having different uniforms for men and women to a single uniform for both genders.

Dolls Depicting Real People, How is This Legal?

It has been all over the news, a company has been making sex dolls in the likeness of real life people--celebrities including Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. While the look-alike dolls are given a slightly different name, the intent is crystal clear.

Other products like pornography are general sheltered by being works of satire.  But can a static product claim a genre?

And while the gossip has focused on teen idols looking at other listings in the celebrity section include Hillary Clinton and Mariah Carey.

I am guessing the actual product would be a disappointment to anyone wanting to actually use it, and he main market s gag gift.  But still...  I am surprised that profiting off  person's identity in this way has not been shut down by a team of lawyers.

In the end any likeness is very slight, so anyone who has a fantasy about a celebrity is going to be better off (so to speak) using their own imagination.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Playboy without nude women?

There are many ways to over-extend your brand.  Like Harley Davidson cake decorating kits, or Star Wars coffee creamer.  But this really takes the cake in terms of outright abandoning your brand identity.

Playboy is going to try and enter the space of general lad's magazine by no longer having pictures of naked ladies. It has long been the case that Playboy did carry good journalistic stories, but without nudity--what exactly is it?

Probably just a new entrant into the lad magazine space already crowded by bolder, hipper, and more authentic-feeling magazines like GQ, Maxim, Esquire and FHM.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Gendered Jerky

New in the ranks of necessarily gender food is Bombshell Jerky.  It is meant to be a low cal jerky treat for women.  Somehow "for women" means equating each flavor with a pin-up girl.

Now obviously I am all about the feminist reclaiming of classic pinup girl looks.  But actually objectifying a meat product with a female image, that goes rather too far to be in anyway ironic.

Especially with the "exotic" flavor being paired with a girl of Asian appearance, which takes the overall stereotyped nature of their marketing into distinctly dubious territory.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sexy Pizza Rat Costume

First there was Pizza Rat, the plucky New York scavenger who went viral (but not in a plague-y sort of way).

And now, with a kind of meme-like inevitability, there was the sexy Pizza Rat Halloween costume. With -- I shit you not -- genuine pizza pockets.

Friday, October 9, 2015

UN Commission Report on Online Violence Against Women

Like any space on this planet, the internet contains violence, including violence against females.  So the report CYBER VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS (shouty ALL CAPS from original) certainly has a valid subject.

The report itself is steeped in sex-negative assumptions that are not made explicit.
For example:
  •  Referring to "revenge porn" (posting explicit material about a woman without her permission) simply as "porn" as if these are interchangeable things. 
  • Sexting is discussed only as a risk, not a positive and deliberate expression of sexuality between competent and consenting individuals. 
  • "Mainstreaming" of the pornography is treated only as a problem.
  • Pornography is characterized as inherently abusive in content and damaging to male viewers.
  • Non-heterosexual content and female consumers of pornography are not acknowledged to exist.
Many women I know have been effected by threats, stalking and various kind of online harassment (including group attacks) that were gender-based. And I do think the overall goals of this report to increase women's' access to online opportunities is a good one.  But the implicit assumption that this will not include any kind of sex-positive material (a.k.a "pornography") is self-defeating.

The report has a pervasive assumption that sex work and pornography of any kind is only damaging, and not a realm in which opportunity can also exist.  The very choice to refer to pornography as "porn" strikes me as telling. As it the choice to cite alarming statistics about how most porn depicts abuse and turns men into abusers without ever defining what is being counted as porn (in a document where almost every other repeatedly used term is explicitly define, porn is still "I know it when I see it"?).

What I think is missing is that online opportunities for women include the ability to explore and express their sexuality and take part in creative activities and exchanges about sexuality. Fostering, as much as possible, a safe environment online does not meant rendering the online space neuter and completely asexual. (Indeed, even the exploration of asexual identity requires being able to explore responses to sexualized material and discuss sexuality and asexuality freely).

In summary: Addressing the problem of cyber-violence against women requires that women's sexual and gender identities must be addressed positively. Sexuality cannot be framed only as a danger to women from which they must be protected, and never as a trait to be celebrated and expressed. This sex-negative approach effectively silences women on an important subject, one of the core subjects that is being used to restrict and victimize them.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

On Meryl Streep not being a Feminist

When asked whether she was a feminist Meryl Streep reportedly said “I am a humanist, I am for nice, easy balance.”

Which is all very clever but also some Grade A bullshit. Why does supporting equal rights for people of any gender have to be the philosophy that dare not speak its name... for fear of sounding "unbalanced" (dare I suggest: "hysterical"?).

The removal of bigotry does not leave a person unbalanced. 

There is no degree of equality that upsets the balance of the world.

There is nothing at all that prevents a person from being a humanist and a feminist--nor any basis in which these are semantically interchangeable terms.  The attempt to make them so is just a very sophisticated why of saying that old piece of nonsense: I'm not a feminist, but....