body acceptance

Hannah Horvath, will you be my BFF?

girlsby Alicia Costa

The second season of the HBO hit show Girls is barely off the ground and writer/executive producer/director/actress Lena Dunham is already been raked over the coals for her creative decisions for this season.

Girls, the brainchild of Dunham and comedy-gem maker Judd Apatow, has been widely written about since its debut last year. The premise of the show revolves around four white and seemingly wealthy 20-something women living in New York City.

The first season of Girls was widely criticized for the lack of racial diversity in the casting. Dunham stated it was unintentional and agreed that the casting choices were not reflective of the racially and culturally diverse New York City. So, in the second season African American actor/comedian Donald Glover was cast as Hannah Horvath (Dunham)’s new beau and this was met with mixed reviews. Most critics claimed that by casting Glover in a main role she was using him as the “token” minority in an attempt to make the show appear more diverse.

“… I really wrote the show from a gut-level place, and each character was a piece of me or based on someone close to me. And only later did I realize that it was four white girls. As much as I can say it was an accident, it was only later as the criticism came out, I thought, ‘I hear this and I want to respond to it.’ And this is a hard issue to speak to because all I want to do is sound sensitive and not say anything that will horrify anyone or make them feel more isolated, but I did write something that was super-specific to my experience, and I always want to avoid rendering an experience I can’t speak to accurately.” (

Dunham stated that the decision to cast Glover was made before critics lambasted the casting of the first season and was due more to the fact he’s a brilliant comedian than about him being black. In my opinion critics claiming that Glover’s whole role was written only to add colour to the cast greatly diminish how well written and smart the character of Sandy the hot Republican (Glover) was in the storyline of Girls.

However, Dunham has received the most amount of criticism over her body. She has the audacity to be naked and sexual AND not look how everyone expects actresses to look naked. She is not afraid to act out her own sex scenes and own her body. Read more

Posted on by Alicia Costa in Feminism, Pop Culture 1 Comment

Significant Othering: Responses and Links

Guest contributor Lisa Millbank provides a part 2 to her post on Signifiant Othering . “Lisa was born in November at ground zero beneath the Millbank Tower (UK) and so took its name. If cissexism and misogyny could dream, she would like to be their nightmare, and she believes their biggest nightmare is cis and trans women working hand in hand to destroy both systems of domination.” This piece was originally posted at her blog, A Radical TransFeminist, in its entirety.

This is only an excerpt. Visit her site for the full collection of responses.

I’ve been overwhelmed and delighted by the reaction to Significant Othering: Attraction Down The Privilege Gradient.

If your comment is included here, it’s because I’ve asked you if you’d consent to me including it, and I’ve anonymised it as well except where explicitly asked to leave names in. Some take the form of question-and-answer, other comments I’ve reproduced in their entirety, others are summarised, one or two are satirised and finally there’s a section of further reading at the end of this piece.

First, though, I’d like to lead with my favourite – a set of demands by pyromaniacharlot made in response to the demands in the original piece:

My Demands

  • I demand that you re-examine who and how you love.
  • I demand this, because other than being who we are, re-examining who we love is one of the most radical actions any one person can engage in. Loving can change your worldview, and it can define your battles. Love can transform you and free you.
  • I demand that in this realm, first you let go of everything you’ve been told is ‘valid’ and ‘proper’. Then start again at the beginning, by *respecting* the people around you. All of them. We are all people, not objects existing for your pleasure. Respect that people have autonomy, and that they have the right to make their own informed choices. Thou shalt not coerce, manipulate or dehumanize.
  • From there, I demand that you make up your own rules. Love that is brief is no less valid than love that lasts for decades. Love comes in all shapes and sizes, and can happen between people of all genders, races and ages. Love doesn’t have to be exclusive. Love doesn’t have to be gentle.
  • Finally, I demand that you accept your love and carry it proudly. Beauty comes in many forms, and noone has the right to tell you otherwise. Stand by your lovers, support and defend them, even if the world tells you otherwise. Especially if the world tells you otherwise. Because noone has the right to police your heart, and no love is wrong.

My Response: <3 ! Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, LGBT 1 Comment

Significant Othering: Attraction Down the Privilege Gradient

Welcome to guest contributor Lisa Millbank. “Lisa was born in November at ground zero beneath the Millbank Tower (UK) and so took its name. If cissexism and misogyny could dream, she would like to be their nightmare, and she believes their biggest nightmare is cis and trans women working hand in hand to destroy both systems of domination.” This piece was originally posted at her blog, A Radical TransFeminist. Stay tuned for Part 2 – Reponses and Comments, to be posted at Gender Focus this weekend.


All people who identify as unattracted to a marginalised group, such as transsexual people, fat people, disabled people or minority-ethnic* people, have a continuing duty to challenge this part of their sexual identity.

Received Sexuality

I would like to use the term ‘received sexuality’ to refer to our sexualities as received from the culture in which we’re raised. This is the ‘assumed’ sexuality we’re assigned at birth, based exclusively on the gender we’re assigned at birth. It is heterosexual, often racially constrained, monogamous, only marginally includes BDSM sexualities (if at all) and, of course, it is not asexual.

It is not a coincidence that received sexualities are considered the normative sexualities in their culture. Clearly, these sexualities are assigned at birth because they appear to be the most common and hence the most likely.

I would like to argue that this dynamic also flows the other way, and that the assignation of normative sexuality at birth is also a way in which the normative position of these sexualities is reproduced and enforced. The phrase ‘compulsory heterosexuality’ has been in use for some time but I’d like to extend this ‘compulsory sexuality’ to cover a wider (or I could say narrower) number of axes of attraction.

Liberated Sexuality

Our sexuality can be trained; has been trained, from birth, towards normative attractions. A white man in England is taught from birth that the object of his sexuality is a thin, white, non-disabled cissexual woman. Putting aside evolutionary psychological nonsense about hip and breast sizes, it’s clear that the image of the ‘ideal’ woman is culturally created and sustained, and has differed throughout history and across different cultures. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, LGBT 6 Comments