18 August 2014

Like it or not, sex sells!

I nearly injured my eyeballs a moment ago - from over-rolling them - as I read some random internet comments at the bottom of an article that questions why actresses must frequently take their clothes off to generate publicity, while their male co-stars are allowed the dignity of clothing.

"Like it or not, sex sells!" I can't think of a more irrelevant thing to say. About anything, in the history of things to say about stuff. "Sex sells." Ugh, seriously YOU ARE SO BRILLIANT. Tell me more! "Women's naked bodies are more beautiful than men's naked bodies." GO ON. "Men are more visual than women." Stop, stop...because my mind? BLOWN.

Sure, sex sells. Criticism of the objectification of women's bodies (along with criticism of the porn industry) is one of those weird zones in which Feminists sometimes overlap with some social conservatives. But whereas the latter group aims to restrict women's sexual empowerment, and thus disapproves of any depictions of sex, which 90% of the time is represented by a woman's body, Feminists argue that dehumanizing women, by turning their bodies into objects, is a disempowering tactic that alienates women from their own sexuality. Patriarchal culture teaches women that their bodies are not their own. One need look no further than the controversy over reproductive rights that is happening in this country (and all over the world) to see that. Whether a fully-developed human woman has less legal rights than a zygote, is a thing that's actually being debated. It's gross. So after taking the photo below, I had to think about what caused the instantaneous feeling of revulsion and disgust that I felt, when I first snapped the scene, and if my feelings were justified, or feminist.

Because nothing is more empowering than giving money to a business that respects my humanity! #americanapparel

Is American Apparel attempting to appeal to female customers by marketing a pro-sex and pro-sexual empowerment agenda? Or is this sign for the male customers, the "sell it with a sexualized female body" tactic? Putting aside the company's history of pseudo-pornographic ads featuring "real American Apparel employees," and the sexual harassment accusations against their ex-CEO (totally not setting the tone for the company there), the notion that depictions of naked or "neon-stripper" women are merely part of a pro-sex/pro-sexy agenda is contradicted by the lack of naked/sexualized men in their advertising. And man-shaped neon strippers.

Like with the issue of matrimonial name-changing, these things don't happen in a vacuum. If a woman keeping her name after getting married was more common, then the trend of women taking their husband's name wouldn't be inherently sexist. (It's not always inherently sexist. Just mostly. It's a complicated topic, but tangential to this post.) In regard to sexualizing human bodies, if the world was spotted with just as many depictions of male bodies, as there are female bodies, there wouldn't be a problem with the odd neon lady stripper.

(The comparison above is just to make an analogy. Sexualizing/objectifying women's bodies translates more directly to sexual violence, and is thus a much, much more serious problem in our world than the multitude of "romantic," Western wedding traditions. Symbols can be powerful, but name-changing is comparatively harmless, and for my generation and succeeding generations, more of a consolation prize for men, who must relinquish some of their power in the interest of equality.)

The point is, it would have looked strange to see the outline of a male stripper in the window of American Apparel. It would have come off as either "funny" (especially if the pose was typically "female"), or "gay-friendly neighborhood." In any case, I would have Instagrammed it with the caption: "Equality!" My caption for the photo above, on the other hand reads: "Because nothing is more empowering than giving money to a business that respects my humanity! #americanapparel" The "giving my money to" isn't an exaggeration. My current favorite skirt is an American Apparel skirt. ...I sicken myself. (Damn you, American Apparel.)

For anyone who thinks I'm being ridiculous about a neon sign, here's what you see when you click the geo-tag in Instagram for the American Apparel at this location:

The geo-tag for the American Apparel on Garnet reveals other "empowering" photos.

At least she's wearing clothes. But something makes me think that when the model posed for that photo, she was more of the "I'm starving and can barely afford the rent in this city" position, as opposed to the "I hope some dude-bros pretend to fuck this photo of me from behind" position. (The dude-bro photos were taken on different dates, by different Instagram users.)

Which isn't to say that photos of people fucking signs and statues and trees, and whatever else people enjoy joking about fucking in photographs, aren't funny. They sometimes are! But American Apparel seems committed to the strategy of depicting models as soft-porn stars. It's problematic because it's unbalanced, and therefore dehumanizing, and the sign in the screenshot above is just one more example of that.

I've considered whether the "objectify everyone" point of view is necessarily the most positive corrective. If "sex sells!" then companies are going to use sex to sell. The idea "men are more visual" and that's the reason we see women's sexualized bodies in ads, media, videos, movies, everywhere, rather than men's bodies, is some unscientific bullshit.* Obviously, a patriarchal culture in which women are punished for having sex is going to argue that women don't want sex, and thus ads selling sex won't appeal to women. Historically, women haven't been allowed to make overt expressions of sexual desire (after the adolescent "celeb-covered bedroom walls" stage, that is). Women's sexual desires are not catered to - by and large, and especially in the past - in the porn industry, because as lower beings, women weren't allowed to act as though they crave sex. (Ex. Dissatisfaction with one's sex life is viewed as a superficial reason to leave a relationship.)

Further, it's been proven that women are less likely than men to have sex with anyone who propositions them because women disproportionately suffer the negative consequences of sex: greater risk for sex-related disease, pregnancy, pregnancy-related complications including mortality, sexual violence/rape, murder, and of course the good old-fashioned "being called a slut." In addition, women are less likely to experience the positive consequences of sex, most-pointedly, orgasms, with a partner who barely knows them and is therefore probably less invested in the woman's sexual pleasure. This is the famous "would you have sex with a stranger" study that supposedly proved that "women don't like sex as much as men," and was subsequently debunked. If women could have orgasms whenever they had sex, as men do, and become impervious to pregnancy, less likely to contract disease, and drastically less likely become the victims of violence and murder - and of course if their characters were not denigrated for doing so - women would be just as sexually empowered as men (ie. they would rack up an equal number of sexual partners). And therefore just as "visual."

Speaking to the visual aspect, specifically, whenever some study comes up that "proves" men respond more to visual stimuli, it tends ignore the gender-based socialization that humans experience from the moment they are born. Finally, there is a more insidious aspect to the objectification of female bodies and how it ties in with male visual stimulation: the soothing feeling of superiority over humans you were put on earth to objectify, judge and fuck. OF COURSE I don't believe that most men consciously think this way. But I have observed that for some men,** there is a gleeful sense of "winning" in situations where being a woman is demonstrably less fortunate than being a man, like whenever I see men snickering at the long line of women who are suffering because they have to wait so long to pee in public restrooms. Advertisements and the media communicate to us over and over, via millions of depictions of naked and sexualized female bodies, that women's bodies exist for the pleasure of straight men (while the comparative absence of naked/sexualized men communicates to straight women that their desires are either non-existent, irrelevant, or shameful). Considering that we've been bombarded with these messages since birth, can we blame people for believing them?!

Well, yes. After a point.

*There is no argument I find more annoying than the "I think this thing because this is just the way I think things are" argument. A BILLION ARGHS!
**If you are a man, and you don't do these things, then I am not talking about you. xoxo!

22 July 2014

Cleo and Ocean Beach (Last Night Is Right Now)

After yesterday's post, I feel a bit Feministed out. Liberaled out. What have you. It wasn't a good representation of what's usually on the 20 million browser tabs, although it is a good representation of stuff I read everyday, in case anyone is curious as to why I am at the ready with disgruntledness whenever those topics are brought up in conversation. ...I love how I've been learning and reading about Feminist theory since I was 20, but when I argue with people who've studied NOTHING about it and who continually read NOTHING about it, we are supposedly on equal ground.

(Blah, tangent! STOP Amanda!)

ANYWAY. I am not typing this today. I am typing this yesterday. Last night (is right now). I have taken a break from the packing. The inevitable break where I can't do packing things with my brain or my feet anymore, and I just need to lay in bed and make a list of what needs to be done tomorrow on my phone, and get up an hour early. But first I am whipping up a post to publish tomorrow while we are traveling. I'm relaxing at the desk in the living room and listening to music and drinking a little red wine, staving off traveling anxiety, and calming the Feminist fury in my soul that I whipped up with that last post. (I mean, damn.)

We are flying to South Dakota, and then traveling on to Oregon. I'll write about it later. (HAHA sure I will.)

After SO arrived home from work in the evening, we took Cleo, and all her cat supplies, to the home of one of his coworkers. I couldn't stand the thought of putting her in a kennel while we are away, where they keep her in a cage for part of the time. This is the first night since we adopted her that she's spent away from me. I feel sad, because she's a cat, and so she doesn't know that I will only be gone for two weeks, and then I will come and get her, and she will go back to the home and people that she knows and loves. She's a sweet, innocent little baby, who's never known loneliness or indifference. She just wants love! And pets!

I miss her tonight!

Sweet little baby!


Haha. OK it's not a selfie. But, no makeup! Empowermentz!

Sleeping kitty. Again.

Look at this fucking cat! Sleeping in the mess I made on the guest bed. She's such a little sweetheart. My kitty!

Anyway, as indicated by the title of this post, I'm just going to share a few pics of Cleo and Ocean Beach. And a couple more, because the world needs to be treated to the following photo of MB's SICK arm muscles.

MB should look happier about this trophy. #latercamera+
Our team won a trivia trophy on Thursday night, and MB has a funny way of looking happy about it.

Just look at those fuckers! Whatthefuckskles. Tonight I showed him the photo. "Yeah I've been working out a lot lately, bro."

He has not "been working out." People with his job in the Navy do not work out. They do not have free time TO DO ANYTHING. (That's just a slight exaggeration.) He's just gifted, or whatever. Way to DO NOTHING and be muscular, anyway, MB! Must be nice.

Here's a meal below, directly related to the re-airing of the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives episode featuring OB Noodles, on Friday night. Even though we've been there before, we needed to eat at OB Noodles for lunch on Saturday.

Another delicious meal at OB Noodles!

Here are some OB palm trees:

OB Palm Trees

OB Palm Trees

OB Palm Trees

Here is my adorable cat.

My precious Cleo.

Here's a hand-shaped tan that I wouldn't care to have on my ass.

July 4th beach scenes.
No Surf Beach on the 4th of July. That hand stayed there for an awfully long time.

Here's an avocado garnished with soy sauce and olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper. (And a few drops of Sriracha later on.) Yummy!

avocado + olive oil + soy sauce + lemon juice + black pepper #itsgood

NEW COUCH BELOW! Best napping couch ever, actually. (Yeah, we own a cat, and we bought a leather couch. We're dumb.)

New couch!
MB mercifully toning it down on the muscle-front in this pic.

This is the day I constructed the cat tower for Cleo.

Cleo discovers the cat tower I am building.

A shot of OB fishing pier, taken near the end of hot, miserable, tired run. (Still not back on my A-game with running, but still running at least.)

Another day in Ocean Beach.

This is Rodrigo and Philomena, with Cleo.

In good company. #catsofinstagram

...And now I ought to sleep for at least a couple hours.

Hope you're well tonight, my sweet baby kitty! I totally won't harass your cat sitter via text regarding your well-being more than once a day!

Sad Selfies with Cleo
Sad Selfies with Cleo, on the way to the cat sitter's. (She's not the hugest fan of car rides.)

21 July 2014

Pages on Browsers and on the Tabs of Browsers: 21 July 14 Edition

Here is a list of the websites featured on the 20 million browers/tabs currently open on my desktop. This is partially in lieu of a real post - that I "don't have time" to write. This is the day before SO and I leave on vacation and technically I am supposed to be cleaning and packing right now, but got distracted by the Internet and editing an iTunes playlist while drinking my coffee. But also I've occasionally felt tempted to make a post out of "what's on my desktop?!" It's like a Buzzfeed quiz that actually indicates something real about the quiz-taker (in this case, a flaming fucking Liberal and Feminist who enjoys, in addition to sharing outrage, handbags and music! And who is a bit of a procrastinator). "What do your open browser tabs say about you???"

"Which browser tab ARE you??"

These pages all make sense, as far as who I am, but I think the list today is more unbalanced than usual. But then, I've been more upset about stuff going on the world than usual. (Yes, even more than normal.) (Specifically, all the anti-woman decisions recently released by the Supreme Court, which just exacerbate the sexist crap delivered by the world on a daily basis, and also the immigration "crisis" currently happening with children on the border, and ALSO gun nuttery in general.) Usually, the stuff I leave open is something I want to pin (fashion, decor, recipes), something related to an argument I had recently (sexist crap), something I might want to write about (sexist crap), something I want to tweet or post to Facebook (self-righteous indignation), Wikipedia (Wikipedia is strangely missing today, but I can tell you the last W page I had open was a Weird Al bio), whatever unfinished blog post is currently not being finished, and things I want to buy.

Anyway, today:

     Feedly - In retrospect it was silly of me to lament the demise of Google Reader. This is exactly the same thing. Life is good.

     Alien Contact: A Comic On Gender Roles - It's a comic. At The Robinhead.

     Science Confirms It’s Pretty Much Impossible For Women To Avoid Being Judged On Their Sexuality - This is what I've said. It's impossible for a person to "objectify themselves."

     Some Bible verses for the Good Christians® angry that migrant kids might sleep in a bed - Yes, there are Americans arguing that migrant children being detained by our government do not deserve to sleep in beds. Good for them. Go liberty!

     A Playlist of All the Music We've Posted in 2014 So Far - Good stuff from The Hairpin. I adore other people who do the hard work of finding music for me.

     Memeopolis drafted post "More Like YesCal." Maybe one day I will finish this post FROM MAY. (ALL IT IS, IS A PHOTO ESSAY. JUST FINISH IT, AMANDA. DAMMIT.)

     My PDX/NoCal: May 2014 album in Flickr. Corresponding to the aforementioned unpublished post.

     Punching Gloria Steinem: inside the bizarre world of anti-feminist women - By Jessica Valenti at The Guardian. Lolwhut Moment from the piece:
The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, for example, had a campaign to "bring back the hope chest", and published a short booklet for college women called Sense and Sexuality, which doles out advice – in pink cursive writing – like this: "The rectum is an exit, not an entrance." (As you can imagine, neither of these campaigns went viral.)
     Knock Knock It Off - A Dear Prudence column about a husband who won't stop making crude jokes in front of his wife. The consensus at the end of the piece is that the husband's behavior is a form of bullying. (I don't know why this tab is still open. I must have been fooling around on Slate in general.)

     A YouTube page featuring Alvvays videos. I have a new theory that people who are in bands just naturally look like people in bands. Like, if I looked like I was in a band, I would be in a band. Anywho, Alvvays was on Q the other night, and the lead singer was all "Maybe I can stop scrubbing toilets for a living now," and I saw her online and was thinking "Well obviously you are in a band."

     Facebook - (Duh.)

     Flickr page featuring a photo of Tiburon, CA. Corresponding to the aforementioned unpublished Memeopolis post.

     Debunking 8 Myths About Why Central American Children Are Migrating - Instinctively I want to blame citizens for being ignorant about the role that their government has played in causing violence and poverty in other nations, but doesn't most of the credit go to the abysmal, short-sighted, easily-manipulated, "liberal" (HAHAHA) media? WHY DON'T MORE PEOPLE KNOW THIS SHIT? Or do people just automatically reject the less savory facts about our international trade and foreign policies? Personally, when I hear about something shitty my country did, I think "I want to change that horrible thing," not "NO no no no lalalalalalallala AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM!!!!!"

     The Politics of Housework - A hilarious-because-it's-true essay by Pat Mainardi from 1970 about the ways equality-minded men attempt to get out of housework. It could have been written today, which is ridiculous, because like I said: 1970. That was 44 years ago.

In my relationship, I am in charge of the house stuff, because I am not working "outside the home." But that doesn't mean I follow SO around cleaning up his messes. Because that would be degrading. And it doesn't mean there aren't some chores that belong to him. There are. (Partially because when I do work again - or if I have a baby - I don't want to be trapped in the "ALL the housework" role thanks to habit. ...This man is too normalized as it is, to the idea of someone preparing and serving him meals nearly every night. That should be a weirder thing for him. It would be weird for me.) So while I can't write about this topic from the perspective of "we both have jobs outside the home so it's not fair if I do more cleaning," I've still heard almost all the excuses that Mainardi lists (FROM 1970!). (Dubious) favorites: "but you're so much better at this!" excuse. Oh god, and also the "but where is the [cleaning product/utensil or cooking item]?!" (YOU NEED TO BE INVOLVED IN EVERY PART OF ME DOING THIS CLEANING OR COOKING THING. MIGHT AS WELL HAVE JUST DONE IT YOURSELF.)


     A Flickr page featuring the haircut I got in June 2008. - I was thinking about cutting my hair.

     A Flickr page featuring Cleo laying on a motel bed in San Raphael, CA. - (AFOREMENTIONED POST.)

     Why the Suspected Texas Shooter's Domestic-Violence History Didn't Keep Him From Owning Guns - (TW: sad) Factoid from the article: "This patchwork of weak laws endangers women, the data shows: Their chances of being killed by their abusers increase more than seven times if he has access to a gun."

     Cotton + Leather Clutch Purse DIY - These are cute. Maybe I will make one.

     Opting for Free Time - This is a lengthy article meditating on housework, childcare, "work-life balance," gender roles," motherhood, and the socioeconomics of it all, but when I opened it up I was thinking about my theory that there are more women winners on Jeopardy! in recent years because women delay motherhood.

     Five Ways to Ensure Scientifically Accurate Reporting on Reproductive Rights - Highlights: Birth control is not abortion! Non-procreative sex is normal and healthy and everyone deserves to do it without punishment! Abortion is a common, legal medical procedure (and everyone should get the fuck over the stigma of it)! < Okay that last part is my addition.

     Confessions of a Selfie Addict - "Stop Sneering At Selfies. They're Way More Fun Than Your Lame Sunset Pics." It's nice that Simon Doonan is defending selfies, but really the majority of the sneering is toward "frivolous, vain" women and girls who take selfies. God forbid a female should consider herself photo-worthy! A person takes a photo of you = okay. You take a photo of you = Narcissist! So dumb.

...You know what a narcissist is from a psychological viewpoint? Someone who doesn't consider the needs of people-who-aren't-them to be relevant, especially if they conflict with their wants/needs and/or inconvenience them in any way. (RELEVANT. Think about that word.) They can be fun acquaintances, but trying to make them into something more will inevitably lead to hurt. (Other people being hurt. Because they can't be hurt. Narcissism is sociopathic. If a person gets hurt, then that person was extraneous, and ultimately undeserving of their company anyway.)

Selfie with sweaty hair.But the first, and probably most common definition of narcissism, however, is "excessive vanity." And who determines what is excessive? It seems to me that there is enough human pain in the world, that is based around what our faces and bodies look like. More people loving what they look like - feeling happiness about their appearance, and thus deeming it selfie-acceptable - can only be a good thing.

< This is a "my hair is disgusting and sweaty after running, check it out!" selfie.

As a post-script, I disagree that sunset pics are lame.

     Loaded Gun Found In South Carolina Wal-Mart Bathroom - But I'm sure he's a "responsible gun owner."

     How Our Brains Turn Women Into Objects - From Scientific American. Basically objectification doesn't make women non-human, just sub-human. What a relief!

     Study: Proof That We Sexually Objectify Women - From The Atlantic. Apparently I was researching sexual objectification.

     42 - This was one of my favorite responses to that garbage Esquire article about 'how if 42-year old actresses who still look 30 are fuckable, then men should pat themselves on the back for thinking so.' (Quote from "42:" "Is 42 years how long it takes for the female brain to develop, and then, there’s like, this sweet spot where a woman has brains and a body?") When I ranted to SO that the problem with the kind of article exemplified by the Esquire piece is that it likens women to steaks ("...who've gotten tastier with age, Pilates and feminism" - from another terrific piece), he assured me that I look way younger than my age. (Whoa missing the point, SO. Although it's nice that you think I'm pretty.) I don't mean to call out poor SO specifically; I just think that men really don't fucking get how this shit is dehumanizing. And being de-humaned is NOT A FUN THING TO FEEL. They don't fucking get it! Or they do, some of them, and are gleeful about it, so you know, fuck those guys.

     And finally, the last browser was open to a pretty camera bag that I really, really want, but alas do not exactly "need." It's on the list below travel, furniture, and paying off debt...

So yeah, those are the pages on browsers and on the tabs of browsers on the 21st of July, 2014.

Anyway. I should get back to that "cleaning and packing" business. Ahem.