Thursday, May 27, 2010

Femonomics reads the internet: SATC2, breaking the cycle of snark, adjectives as nouns, and more

Some choice words on SATC2 from Erica at Feminista.  She points out the casual racism of the first film, the weird way Michael Patrick King has constructed these movies as a gay male fantasy of femaleness instead of authentic womanhood, and quotes from all the scathing reviews, including Roger Ebert's which contains this gem:
A sample of Carrie's realistic dialogue in a marital argument: "You knew when I married you I was more Coco Chanel than coq au vin." Carrie also narrates the film, providing useful guidelines for those challenged by its intricacies. Sample: "Later that day, Big and I arrived home."
The series was good.  The first movie was fun, if overly consumerist and, yes, a little racially clumsy.  The second one sounds awful.  Why did you do this to Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte?  Why?  Erica's last lament hits home the hardest:
But having said all that, you know why I am FORCED to hope this makes money? Because if it doesn't Hollywood will say female-centric movies -- which never cost nearly as much as action flicks -- don't make economic sense and they'll stop greenlighting them.
I hate that what she says is true.  But still, let's not go see this.  And, after it fails, let's try to communicate to studio execs that it failed because it was insulting, not because it was about women.  Make good movies with female characters and I promise you can have my $12.50!
What do you think about MIA?  Is she an interesting artist with an interesting political message, or does she make drama and appropriate causes to sell records?  New articles reveal both sides, and personally, I'm intrigued.
 I thought this piece on a public service ad depicting thin women as skeletons by Renee Martin brings up a good point:
How many times have we uttered comments like, she just needs to eat a hamburger when we see women that we have determined is too thin, even though we are not aware of their dietary habits? How is this any different than suggesting that fat women must diet and or starve themselves to achieve an unnatural body weight for them?

Whether it is attacking someone for being too skinny, or engaging in fat hatred, we are serving the purposes of patriarchy, because we are upholding the idea that women’s bodies should be open to public discipline and shame.... When we attack each other in the search for personal validation, it is patriarchy that wins.
I particularly like that she points out that women often engage in these attacks to validate ourselves, and in a sense heal ourselves from the very same attacks promoted by a society that sets women's bodies up for ridicule.  Break the cycle, anyone?
Deeply Problematic points out that the word transgender is an adjective, not a noun.  I thought everyone knew this, but she points to several examples of it being noun-ized in the media, from the month of May alone:
The argument against using transgender as a noun is simple, it dehumanizes and de-individualizes the person in question, reducing them to just their trans status, versus other perhaps more salient chracteristics.  Notice that people who talk about "gays" seem to more often be using the term negatively than those who say "gay and lesbian individuals" or something similar.  This is one reason I  avoid the terms "blacks" and "whites," even though they are standard journalistic style.  I've never liked the way they sounded, since surely "blacks" the group is made up of black individuals, all of whom are different.  How do you feel when you're called the noun-form of something you identify with?  "A Jew," "a black," "a blonde," "a lesbian," etc.?  Do you find it objectionable?  Does it matter which word is used, and how common the noun form is?
Facebook has changed their privacy settings, making it easier for users to control who sees what, perhaps in response to backlash over new changes.  In case you're thinking of trusting them again, just remember what I told you about their business model...
Tavi the Style Rookie has some really good observations on Terry Richardson's creepiness.  Tavi notes that the girls Richardson photographs are always naked, and then makes this excellent observation about his strategy for making them feel "comfortable":
And yeah, I know that it was said that Richardson sometimes gets naked and lets the girl take pictures of him before they let him take nude pictures of them. But this isn't him being fair, it's a strategy. It's manipulative, it's scary, and the last thing someone wants when they feel pressured into doing anything sexual is for the other person to suddenly be wearing nothing but tattoos. It's supposed to, y'know, relax everyone, but there's a difference between putting on a smooth jazz album while preparing some nice ginseng teas and, um, being naked, all of a sudden, in an uncomfortable person's face. Of course, I can't decide Richardson's motives for him, but I might guess that after he gets naked for the girl, the girl is supposed to feel like she owes him something, even though she never asked him to get naked, but, you know, I might be overthinking things.
I haven't really read all of Tavi's fashion stuff that has been getting everyone so excited, but hearing this excellent analysis of what is essentially workplace sexual harassment from a high school student is just awesome.  So bravo, Tavi.
This is an excellent article explaining African-American hair to those who aren't lucky enough to have it.  You should read it before you make judgments on what black women choose to do, overdo, or do not with their hair.  I once sentenced a friend of mine to watch Good Hair (which, unfortunately, missed some of the point of why black women spend so much time and money on their hair) after he made the comment "I don't get wigs.  If you can't grow it, you can't have it."


  1. I don't think Hollywood will look at the failure of the Sex in the City movie as the failure of all female movies everywhere.

    Don't forget about this movie, which did very well. Here is another female-centric movie that performed excellently in the box office.

    So when Sex and the City fails, they won't think, "Oh, movies about girls just naturally do poorly." Rather, they will come to the far more accurate conclusion, "Gee, I guess we're going to have to make all our female protagonists look like Lara Croft or one of Charlie's Angels." And won't that be a fun world to live in?

  2. Update: Amanda Hess has pointed out that there's plenty of gay men who take objection to SATC, and with good reason, since its portrayals of gay males are just as shallow and unrealistic as its female portraits.


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