Rachel Bloom’s cartoon points out being a Disney princess and finding a prince would be a lot less cool if it were historically-accurate.
Lyrics (after the jump): Read more
by Jarrah Hodge
On February 10 I had a unique opportunity to speak to the House of Commons Status of Women Committee on eating disorders, media and gender. The committee, which is made up of Members of Parliament from the major parties, had recently voted the following:
“It was agreed, — That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee conduct a study of eating disorders amongst girls and women, including the nature of these diseases, what treatments are providing the most relief to patients and where they are available, how family physicians can learn more about eating disorders and how to treat them, what roadblocks exist to better serve girls and women with eating disorders, and what resources relevant stakeholders need to improve the lives of these patients.”
Basically, the committee is studying eating disorders, particularly among Canadian girls and women, and considering potential service gaps and areas for improvement.
My name was put forward by NDP Status of Women Critic Niki Ashton. Given that I’m not a doctor and there were many clinical experts and people with personal or family experience already speaking, I thought it made most sense for me to bring in feminist analysis of how media images of women factor into eating disorders.
Over the weekend leading up to the appearance via videoconference, I had a lot of help getting a firmer understanding of the situation facing people with eating disorders in Canada, and the research that has been done showing links between media and eating disorders, and the potential for media literacy education to help with prevention and treatment. Many members of the Women, Action & The Media (WAM!) Vancouver listserv shared their ideas and resources, but I owe particular thanks to Sharon from the fabulous website Adios Barbie, Kalamity from Fat Panic! Vancouver, and Angela from Project True.
With their help, I put together a 10-minute opening statement, which I will paste below the jump along with links to my references, since those don’t appear in the online transcript. On at the same time as me was Wendy Preskow, founder of the National Initiative for Eating Disorders, who told the heart-wrenching and powerful story of her daughter’s struggle with bulimia and getting the care she needs. After our statements, the committee members asked us questions. Read more
by Jessica Critcher
The Lord of the Rings movies came out when I was in middle school. I was already a big enough nerd at that point that I saw each one on opening day. My friend Chantal and I would ditch school and geek out about them. Once I even wore elf ears. And I still watch the films regularly. My most recent LoTR marathon was New Year’s. One does not simply walk into Mordor—It’s a 12 hour affair on extended Bluray.
The Hobbit stands out in my mind as a book that turned me from a kid who reads a lot into an official nerd. Parents, beware: allowing your children to read may result in strange behaviors and the decision to major in English.
Because I’m such a fan, it took me a while to place why I was so reluctant to see The Desolation of Smaug. Part of it was Martin Freeman’s rape “joke” in an interview about the film. But it was something else, too. (Rumor grew of a shadow in the East, whispers of a nameless fear.) It wasn’t until I was already in the theater (and people started walking out) that it hit me. Star Wars. This is Star Wars all over again.
Like Star Wars, LoTR was a highly successful trilogy. They’re both still widely popular well after their release, referenced often in pop culture. They were both given a big budget trilogy prequel that nobody asked for. And like the new Star Wars movies, The Hobbit films have no soul. Read more
A quick search on a particular, massive online bookselling site yields numerous texts that discuss cowboy masculinity. Some do it by examining the “high art” of Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, etc. Others use “low art” – John Wayne films, dime novels – as their starting point.
Daniel Worden’s Masculine Style: The American West and Literary Modernism, however, uses both. In a brief-but-pertinent 178 pages (excluding his bibliography and index), Worden summons, more-or-less chronologically, T. Roosevelt, Nat Love, Cather, Hemingway and Steinbeck, as well as Anthony Comstock, Edward S. Ellis, and Edward L. Wheeler (all dime Western novelists) to support his claim that masculinity, in Western (meaning, here “of the American West”) modernist literature, is a performance, not a biological assignment. To Worden, a character’s ability to participate in the culture of masculinity relies on how well he can wear its costume and conform to its established traditions.
“Masculinity is not a thing but a history,” begins Masculine Style. With this opening statement, Worden is able to do two things: (1) show that masculinity is not a tangible, static “thing” but a role that one acts, and that (2) this view is supported by various historical mile markers, starting in the late 1800s and going through the Cold War. Read more
by Erin Tatum. Originally posted at Bitch Flicks. Cross-posted with permission.
Supernatural shows and crime shows are a dime a dozen, but something amazing can happen through the fusion of the two. Putting a no-nonsense Action Girl at the center is just icing on the cake for Lost Girl, which has consistently managed to capture lightning in a bottle for four seasons.
The show follows Bo (Anna Silk), a succubus, and her human companion, Kenzi (Ksenia Solo), as they unravel the mysteries of the Fae, a secret supernatural society hidden in plain sight. At the beginning, episodes tended to fit the mold of a campy CSI parody. Expect rapidfire snarky one-liners. One of Lost Girl‘s most endearing qualities is its embrace of all things cheesy. Plus, you’ll be treated to countless cameos of every Canadian actor that you’ve seen in anything ever.
Over time, Bo’s overarching journey to find her identity takes increasing president in the narrative. Torn between the factions of dark and light Fae, she perpetually struggles to retain her independence in a world defined by labels. Drawing obvious parallels to society’s stringent policing of women’s roles, pretty much everyone Bo encounters tries to force her to pick a side or fill her with self-doubt by insisting they know her true nature – evil and manipulative. Her rebellious nature also applies to her sexuality.
As a succubus, Bo feeds off sexual chi to survive, meaning that superficial constructions of orientation don’t hold much weight since intimacy is essential. While the idea that a woman literally needs sex to live could inspire a flurry of unfortunate stereotypes with respect to slut shaming and biphobia, no one bats an eye at Bo’s sexual appetites and she has serious romances with both men and women. If anything, her queerness seems to have set off a domino effect of subtle pansexuality in the rest of the cast. Trust me, you won’t find another show with more ambiguous same-sex sexual tension.
Now, it may make you groan to see yet another female protagonist saddled with a love triangle. Lauren (Zoie Palmer), a human doctor, and Dyson (Kris Holden-Reid), a werewolf, vie for Bo’s affections. Read more
Chanel Dubofsky: I never go to the movies, but I did see American Promise in the theatres. It’s about two middle class black families who send their sons to an elite school in Manhattan. It was spectacular and troubling and all of the good things.
Jarrah Hodge: I saw a lot of good movies this year and I’d have to say it’s a tie between two amazing movies by and about women. The first is Wadjda, a movie about a 10-year-old Saudi girl who pushes the boundaries of her society with humour and joy, directed by Haifa Al Mansour. The second was a fabulous documentary that showed at DOXA: Anne Braden, Southern Patriot. Gender Focus was a community partner for the screening of this inspiring film, which uses one woman’s remarkable life to teach us about interconnections between racial, gender and class equality.
Jessica Critcher: The Heat had a few hang-ups with intersectionality, similar to my critique of Catching Fire (which I also loved). But seeing a female buddy cop movie was a rare treat. I want more of that, with a woman behind the camera as well. Baby steps, I guess. Did anyone else pretend it was a sequel to Miss Congeniality? I want more Sandra Bullock FBI agent movies. I’ll write them myself if I have to.
Roxanna Bennett: 12 Years a Slave. Harrowing but crucial film, based on the real life account of Solomon Northrup, a free-born Black man in pre-Civil war America who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Directed by the inimitable Steve McQueen.
Jenni Podolski: I love Morrissey, so I devoured Morrissey’s Autobiography in a weekend. It’s exactly what I expected; witty, smart, and so eloquent. The first 100 pages or so where he describes his upbringing in Manchester were incredibly evocative and real.
Roxanna: Life after Life by Kate Atkinson. Captivating. The premise of the book, “what if you could live your life over and over again, until becoming conscious of the smallest events that change your destiny” at the outset seemed as though it would make for tiresome prose but instead is riveting. I mulled this book over in my mind for weeks after reading.
Chanel: Remember How I Told You I Loved You? by Gillian Linden. It’s very slim- about 100 pages, I think? It’s gorgeous and reminds me why I write fiction.
Jessica Mason McFadden: Annie Lennox wins for this year; she is a politically and humanistically-conscious musician whose work evolves in surprising ways. She’s truly both an artist, a model of compassion and authenticity, and a mentor for civilization.
Chanel: Lucy Wainwright Roche made a new record called “There’s A Last Time For Everything,” and I’ve been listening to it day after day after every day since it came out.
Jessica Critcher: Kings of Spade are my favorite local band from Oahu, and this year they released their highly anticipated second album with help from Kickstarter backers (like me). They’re urban funk mixed with rock and roll. Their lead singer has a flourescent pink mohawk and ovaries of steel. I can’t wait until they come my way again on tour. Read more
When I saw Disney was making a movie about Walt Disney convincing P. L. Travers to sign over the rights to Mary Poppins, I was expecting to come away at least slightly annoyed. As much as I adore Emma Thompson, who plays Travers, I thought this was going to be a story about a stubborn artist who’s convinced by the magic of Disney to stop being so up-tight.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t quite that simple and I found a lot to like about the movie, Saving Mr. Banks.
First off, both Disney and Travers are portrayed as complicated and imperfect human beings, though obviously she’s got more serious issues to resolve here than he does. The film moves back and forth between her trip to Los Angeles to see Disney, having been pushed into it by financial need; and her childhood in Australia struggling with an alcoholic, big-dreaming father (Colin Farrell).
And the film pokes fun at the whole candy-coated Disney empire, mostly through Thompson as a delightfully bitter, acerbic, stiff Travers, who’s appalled at the mountains of cakes and donuts brought in for lunch and the way her hotel room is crammed full of stuffed Disney cartoon characters.
Second, the supporting actors, particularly the women, are outstanding. Ruth Wilson plays Travers’ mother in her flashbacks and every single facial expression and word out of her mouth shows her internal conflict and struggle to get by taking care of three children and worrying about her husband. Disney’s female staffers – Kathy Wilson as Tommie and Melanie Paxson as Dolly – also make a lot out of their relatively small roles.
- Spoiler Alert -
Third, while I wouldn’t call it a feminist film on the whole (there’s not a single person of colour to be found, and ultimately it’s still about a woman whose life is defined by men) there are some feminist scenes. In one, Disney asks his staffer Tommie to help him decipher what’s really going on with Mrs. Travers. Read more