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satc, wtf.

3 Jun

Warning: Spoilers Follow!

I, along with what seemed to be about 2000 other women, went to see the latest sex and the city movie tonight. I did not expect it to be good – I thought the first movie was pretty awful and all the trailers looked like nothing happened. But I was compelled to see it for some reason I can’t quite explain.

It was bad. Really bad. They visited Abu Dhabi and were lavished with luxury. They commented on the oppression of women by talking about how hard it must be to eat french fries while wearing a niqab. Then they sung I am Woman in karaoke. Then Samantha got arrested for being lewd in public. Then she shakes a fist full of condoms at a group of men going to the mosque for cuss sake. At the end of the middle eastern jaunt (that seems to take up the biggest chunk of the movie) they get ushered into a ladies’ book club and burqas are removed to reveal the spring/summer collection of all of [our] favourite designers. The whole thing made me feel uncomfortable. Except for Samantha’s awesome ‘Lawrence of my labia’ call. That made me laugh.

I won’t comment on how the series was better, because frankly Hadley Freeman says it all (and much better than I could).

But after six seasons of looking for love, in two movies I feel like all they have shown us is how these woman seem dissatisfied with what they ended up with. Carrie spends two years decorating her new apartment. Sure, she writes still, but what she writes is now bombed in the New Yorker. She talks about making new rules, but then gets tethered with a rock to remind her she is married, after a predictable indiscretion.

Liza Minelli’s cover of Single Ladies was by far the funniest bit in the movie, and even The Chipmunks: The Squeakuel beat them to that gag.

Maybe I took it all too seriously?


Feminism re-visited

3 Jun

I know I’m harping on about feminism, and I shouldn’t; but two texts I’ve read in the past two days have made it unavoidable. Last time, I promise.

Number One was a horrific article about Miss Universe New Zealand in the dominion post, with the tag line ‘just don’t mention feminism’. The article explains ‘we all believe in equal rights for woman and men…but we still like to be lady-like.’ Because being a feminist means you have to be man-like, right? This crazy, simplistic, and undermining representation of feminism is so so so depressing, especially when the point of the article was to prove that the beauty queens are more than just pretty faces. Sigh.

Number Two was, well, a beacon of light in my murky winter: the new magazine, ‘The Gentlewoman’ about ‘the fantastic women of the modern age’. Featuring articles (and it is a gloriously text-heavy magazine) on artist Jenny Holzer, architect Kazuyo Sejima, wine-maker Sara Pérez, and many more, the Gentlewoman delivers across the board. I think the aspiring Miss Universes’ would benefit from a quick flick through The Gentlewomen; maybe then they’d realise that feminists can be totally babin’.


16 May

At 60, she has let it be known she will not get work done to look younger. She discusses the beauty myth as it relates to Hollywood. She talks about how not being hired for your beauty allows you to portray interesting roles, and all their idiosyncrasies. Last year she drew attention to the gender imbalance inherent in the Oscars.

All this smack talk about the industry, and still she holds the record for the most Oscar nominations and Golden Globe nominations for any actor. I love Meryl Streep.


13 May

I’ll admit that perhaps I’m a little star struck, having met Miranda July for about 30 seconds at a book reading at Colette in Paris (she read her stories in english, then listened to them in french – a strange experience (so she told me, swoon)). But there is something so rad about someone with their fingers in so many pies; well,’pies’ sounds a bit too trite for Miranda July, more like soufflés, perfectly fluffy ones. I guess she is feminist to me because she balances so perfectly in that grey in-between space where women actually have a choice, and have control, that according to Wolf, is far too limited. Her art, movies, and writing all take that space and pull it; manipulate it into something bigger, warmer, and more certain. And I guess maybe that’s what feminism comes down to?


11 May

Lisa has secretly always been my favourite Simpson; her unapologetic geekiness appealed to the (somewhat) apologetic geek in me. And she was probably one of my first strong female role models in pop culture. But, when I was rewatching some old episodes the other day, I realised that even she struggled with this idea of feminism. In the middle of an episode where she gets an eating disorder, she said “I know this obsession with thinness is unhealthy and anti-feminist…but that’s what a fat girl would say!”

That about sums up my feelings about the beauty myth. We know better, but we can’t quite shake it.


11 May

I’m ranking Edith Piaf here mainly because of her pre-RESPECT empowering song “Non, je ne regrette rien.” Moi non plus Edith, jusqu’a la…

The F word

10 May

So I’m reading The Beauty Myth (Naomi Wolf) at the moment, and feminism is weighing pretty heavily on the old bean. The basic premise of the book is that there is a relationship between female liberation and female beauty, and I mean relationship in the Streetcar Named Desire sense – Beauty’s bullying, bloodying, and beating of Liberation reads like an ode to Stanley vs. Blanche Dubois.

I could try to explain Wolf’s work; in fact I did, but have deleted what I wrote – read the book, its more compelling than I will ever be. What I wanted to discuss is the response I get (and give) when I bring up the book with friends, or workmates, or strangers when I’m a little boozed. Feminism is such a contentious word! It really makes people’s hair stand on end, they recoil a bit, glace quickly at the nearest exit, and eyeball you in a slightly different (my god is that fanaticism!?) kind of light. I might be over-exaggerating, but I’m pretty certain that each man I’ve mentioned The Beauty Myth to has sub-consciously reached protectively for his balls.

Why this ingrained fear? Why is feminism akin to so many dirty little isms, like the commun and the nihil? And scarily even I undermine it, making jokes to smooth over the awkward introduction of the topic – I’m reading feminist literature, but don’t worry, I also baked you these delicious scones. Wolf raises this very issue, explaining that feminists have been cast as such ugly, mannish, boorish women that even women don’t want to be associated with them for fear of some nightmarish transformation from beauty to beast. That I have fallen into this very trap makes me feel, well, pretty stupid and shallow really. Like, totally, zomg, flakey.

So, to redeem myself for the sheepish excuses I have doled out for reading The Beauty Myth, I plan to compile a wee compendium of contemporary feminism/ists. This will not require any man-hate/hunting or bra-burning, because feminism really, truly, shouldn’t be boiled down to things as medieval as that. But this isn’t some Dove ad either- I want women with fire in their bellies.

So, exhibit A: Hermoine Granger. Fictional, I know, but this girl’s got game; she’s smart, confident, moralistic, and importantly, more occupied with success than with looks (ten points for Gryffindor). So who else?