‘Not only are the films fostering the little-princess aesthetic, but they also breed cross-merchandising that’s earning a bundle for entertainment companies who have rights to princess tales. From a historical perspective, the little girl/princess parallel has been there for centuries – but the merchandising associated with conglomeration has amplified its effect; now our little girls can be like their favourite princesses.’
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Here's something to distract me from the apocalyptic disaster that is my personal statement...
The season is changing. My breath makes little crystallised clouds in the air every morning, my radiator is on full-blast, and everywhere you go there are huge piles of leaves just begging to be jumped in. So, to celebrate the season, here is a collection of songs that remind me of winter to get you in the wintery mood - before things start getting Christmas-y.
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Weekend – The Birthday Massacre
For me, this is the definitive winter song. You may remember this one from my top ten tunes post, in which I said that this was ‘a song that reminds me of autumn leaves, shiny wrapping paper and the colour purple’, and that it never fails to make me smile. This remains true. This is an adorable and meaningful song; one of TBM’s best.
Scin – I:Scintilla
I really have no idea why this reminds me of winter, but it is another great industrial sound. For me the best thing about this song (other than the awesome tune, guitars and synths!), is its message. Here’s the chorus:
Detach from crippling divisions
Feel outside your skin
Find empowerment and illumination
Taken entirely from within
Girl on the Floor – Ayria
This is very much a ‘final-song-on-the-album’ song; you can tell as soon as you hear it. But it’s good. I especially like the eerie piano ending. The lyrics relay quite a depressing story, for Ayria, but it’s one that I can relate to, and I guess that’s why I like it. Plus, it contains some good advice:
All you get from this moment
Is all you gave to your past
So make the most of the time you’ve got, and never compromise the future. Maybe the world leaders who are still unable to make a decision on climate change should listen to this song...
House of Ill Trepidation – Jakalope
OK, so the beginning of this song is annoying. Muted-crowded-room sound is not really the most tuneful intro. But one and a half minutes later, when the beat kicks in, this becomes a great tune. And since industrial seems to be the sound of winter, there is really no better way of getting in the wintery mood than this song. Katie B’s voice is eerily beautiful, and I love the harmonies.
Symphony of the Living Dead [Part ii] – Zombie Girl
Part ii is infinitely better than part i, may I just say. Another great industrial song: my favourite instrumental by Zombie Girl. Though this is really more suited to Hallowe’en than winter, as the title suggests, there is a ‘colder’ edge to this that makes you think of blood in the snow, and mysterious handprints on fogged glass... I like the creaky-floorboards effect at the end! Spooky...
Apathetic – Lunachicks
‘Apathetic’, believe it or not, is in the thesaurus under cold. I shared that fact with the Creative Writing Club that I’m currently leading the other day. They were suitably, er, apathetic, to hear it...
Finally, something non-industrial! The whole ‘Binge and Purge’ album reminds me of winter, for some unknown winter. This is the opening track, and it’s awesome: because it tells you some of the key situations in life in which it’s ok to be apathetic. The Lunachicks are always cool, witty, and suitably gross (it is riot grrrl/gross-out punk, after all!), and this is certainly not exception to the rule – plus it has a Squid-section (Squid is one of the most awesome people ever, as is Theo Kogan). A great song and a great album!
Everything’s Brown – Jack Off Jill
This is a killer – an eerie, skeletal-trees kind of song. The discordant chord progression on the guitar is amazing, and Jessicka’s screaming is so emotion-packed. It’s the kind of song that forces you do listen to it, however preoccupied you are, and make you think ‘wow’. Not really sure why it’s really wintery, but it’s one of my recent finds, so it made the list anyway.
After Dark – Le Tigre
And last, but not least, there’s this little feminist dance-punk gem. Everyone knows that Kathleen Hanna is epic win, and so is Le Tigre. It was a toss-up between this and ‘TKO’ for the last spot on the playlist – this song won on catchiness. I guarantee it will having you singing along! This is lo-fi retroclash at its best.
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I hope you enjoyed the playlist! Like last time, I’ve made a playlist on my last.fm page for your listening convenience.
Monday, 9 November 2009
And that’s why when I read articles like this, they make me so, so angry.
There are so many things wrong with this article, I have no idea where to start. Perhaps with the title - ‘Are you a Feminist or a ‘Feminine-ist’?’ – because obviously you can’t be both! Being a feminist and wanting to be in any way pro-feminine would just be ridiculous and obscene: everyone knows that all feminist are ‘tough, overworked and unattractive’; ‘a woman who’s unattractive in both looks and spirits’! Contrast this to feminine-ists, who embrace their ‘feminine sexy and loving side[s]’, the epitome of which is, in this article, ‘a beautiful, leggy, sexy woman’. All of these terms are ones on which a woman is graded from a heterosexual patriarchal point of view, and are thus demeaning. But being the epitome of physical attractiveness is what it’s all about, right – oh, and being ‘powerful’ (she adds, hastily) – so this one-dimensional stereotype is what all womankind should aspire to be.
Karen Salmansohn states that her goal is:
To inspire women to embrace their fullest potential selves – feminine, sexy, warm, loving – everything the word ‘feminine’ stands for, alongside strong qualities like powerful and successful.
There are several things wrong with this, and her whole argument:
1. Where do characteristics like ‘intelligent’, ‘creative’ and ‘happy’ come into the feminine norm? Nowhere is the answer: they’re not ‘feminine’ characteristics. And neither are ‘strong qualities like powerful and successful’. ‘Feminine’ and ‘strong’ don’t really mix, and they are definitely not the same thing; you just get one plus the other.
2. Salmansohn notes how so many women today are ‘not being their fullest, best feminine selves’ because they’re ‘rushing around trying to do it all ... being tougher than they’d like to be as well as more exhausted, strident and irritable, thereby feeling unattractive inside and out.’ Being exhausted and emotionally depleted is all the fault of the woman, of course, neglecting her inner femininity. Salmansohn fails to address the real reason for this: that women in a men’s world must constantly over-perform in order to combat the effects of discrimination, especially in employment.
3. Salmansohn claims that she feels her most powerful when she takes the time to tap into ‘feminine-ism’ – i.e. when ‘indulging in a meditative and self-nurturing manicure, a facial or a hot bubble bath’. Salmansohn has obviously not been watching any Target Women lately! These ‘indulgences’ are exactly the kind of thing that patriarchal companies target women with. Nobody is 'powerful' when having a bubble bath, however much you might enjoy it. And by listing these things off as typical ‘feminine’ pastimes, Salmansohn simply falls into the trap of succumbing to the culturally-constructed ‘feminine’ norm.
4. Then, there’s Salmansohn’s annoying overuse of the word ‘sexy’, meaning ‘attractive to the average heterosexual male’. Feeling sexy in this sense is not empowering, as she claims. It is feeling happy in yourself, as yourself, that is empowering. And though this may include feeling confident about your sex appeal, you cannot conflate the two ideas.
5. Men can be and are feminists, and any man who is put off from calling himself a supporter of women’s equality because ‘it might sound like he was admitting to supporting a group of controlling, bitchy women’ is not someone who believes in female empowerment at all, really, is he? No, he’s just ignorant, close-minded and sexist to boot. But that’s OK, in Salmansohn’s point of view, because it’s generally agreed that men don’t really go in for that kind of thing. But something that’s ‘pro-sexiness, pro-sweetness [and] pro-balance’ (excuse me while I puke) like ‘feminine-ism’ – well, a man can be proud to support something like that!
And why is this? Because it’s cool for a man to be in touch with both his feminine and masculine sides (though he is, of course, predominantly masculine if he is straight). But hang on – when can we get in touch with our masculine sides? Oh, that’s when we embrace our ‘strong qualities’, like powerfulness? But then aren’t we meant to feel our most powerful when indulging ourselves in feminine activities like facials? I’m confused, which is unsurprising, as Salmansohn’s argument makes no sense at all with its narrow-minded categorisation of the masculine and the feminine.
6. And finally, please, please do not try to personify and thus stereotype your country. It’s just wrong. Especially if you’re going to be sexist about it too. America, the ‘real guy’s guy’ (in other words, ‘the very masculine man’) is described as loud and active. India, on the other hand (a country that is in reality torn by its desire to Westernise and achieve Western ideals of perfection – which for woman generally means pale and submissive), is described as embracing its feminine qualities. And it is passive, passive, passive.
Being a feminine woman should not be about self-indulgence in facials, being ‘sexy’ or god-forbid being passive. It should be about being yourself, whoever that may be. So if you’re going to preach to women to embrace feminine-ism, don’t just tell them to subscribe to the culturally constructed feminine norm. Because that’s not empowering; not at all.
Saturday, 7 November 2009
I am strong. This happened to me. I didn't cause this. I didn't do it. But it's happened to me, and it can happen to anybody.