May 19, 2010

What I'm listening to- Deathrats

Yaay, this semester is finally over! Only one more class later this summer left, then I graduate from this boring community college with my associates degree. Boo, I'm currently sick with an ear and sinus infection :-(. Not cool. I always seem to get sick as soon as the seasons change. 

Annnyways, today I want to feature an awesome band called Deathrats. Deathrats is a female-fronted feminist hardcore/punk band from Washington, DC. The lead singer, Christine's, voice is captivating, and the band as a whole just overall rules. They currently only have a self-titled 7" out, but trust me, it's good stuff. Plus, they have lyrics like this...

Sense of Entitlement
I’ve been socialized to critique every part of my own body
I can’t accept compliments or appreciate my own form
But I can’t leave my house without someone calling at me
Everyday I’m confronted with what other people think
What makes them feel so entitled to my body,
Why am I subject to their desires and what they think?
If I’m denied joy and authority over my own body
What makes them think that they deserve any?
I’m expected to look in the mirror discontented with what I see
And if I feel confidence in my body or my sexuality
Then it exists for you, it’s certainly not for me
It’s unacceptable for me to feel these things, but you can tell me if you like what you see?
Hands off, hands off of me, keep your fucking hands off of me
"I wrote this song with street harassment in mind. Its about dealing with the frustration of feeling that I have such limited agency over my own body on both legislative and day-to-day bases, but knowing that any dude walking down the street may feel as though they have the right to tell me their opinion of my body, comment on the way that I present myself, or even straight-up grab me as I’m walking to work or school. I feel like it applies to a lot more than just this, but its what I was thinking about."

Girl Style
We’ve been taught to hate one another and we replicate their standards
We cut each other down to size, each of us starved and socialized
I’m sick of the punk boy revolution, its ordinary
When women can support women, that’s something revolutionary
Why lament the loss of our girl style then, when we’re just as angry now
Why do they look backward to Kathleen Hannah, when there are so many of us now
You’re not satisfied, well neither am I
If we’re hating each other, we’re hating ourselves
If we can’t trust each other we can’t trust ourselves
"I wanna give a shoutout to Huggybear.  I’m tired of hearing straight, white, middle-class boys talking about revolution, because frankly, they don’t know shit. There is so much more that could be said about that. Regardless, this is really about how my relationships with my female friends mean more to me than pretty much anything in the world. It’s about bonding over the bullshit we all go through and making fairly unbreakable ties. Its also kind of calling out people who conflate the involvement of women in punk with riot girl, because it dates and simultaneously limits the reality of women and feminism in punk. It ain’t over."

Very moving and well-said. I find it really awesome and empowering that a hardcore band will unapologetically sing about such subjects as sisterhood and female harassment in a music genre whose shows are (unfortunately) still mainly attended by males. And "When women can support women, that’s something revolutionary" are words to live by, in my opinion. All the lyrics are written by the lead singer, Christine, and you can read them all, as well as download their full 7" here.

May 10, 2010

American Able.

There are so many things that come to mind when the company American Apparel is mentioned. Butt contests, expensive clothes, and not to mention the company's infamous CEO, Dov Charney, who has been the subject of multiple sexual harassment charges. Another staple that usually comes to mind is American Apparel's advertisements. They usually feature scantily clad women in provocative poses advertising.. well, actually, I usually don't know what product they're advertising. Am I supposed to be checking out this girl's booty or the tiny thong that's tucked away in there?

Although the website claims that models are "employees and friends from around the world - not models", this is a statement that blatantly isn't true. Many of American Apparel's "real people" are both porn stars and real models that are represented by agencies. Porn stars such as Lauren Phoenix, Sasha Grey, and Faye Reagan have all appeared in multiple American Apparel advertisements. With most models being over 5'10", thin, and seemingly flawless, many people would agree that, like most advertising today, their models don't exactly represent "real people".

As Julia Caron, blogger from Worn Fashion Journal writes, "In my reality, all kinds of people are sexy and sexual: People who identify as queer, as disabled, as trans, as fat, and generally, as awesome. But in this world of American Apparel and various other "real beauty" ad campaigns making claims of representing the "average woman", I never see myself or the kinds of people I know."

In a spoof series called “American Able”, photographer Holly Norris has challenged American Apparel’s young, slim, and overtly sexual “real people” advertisements. “American Able” features Jes Sachse, a disabled woman, in advertisements almost identical to those of American Apparel’s. On her website Norris writes she has chosen American Apparel because, “Their campaigns are highly sexualized and feature women who are generally thin, and who appear to be able-bodied. Women with disabilities go unrepresented, not only in American Apparel advertising, but also in most of popular culture.”

Her choice of model has a great significance as well. Norris goes on to say, “Rarely, if ever, are women with disabilities portrayed in anything other than an asexual manner, for ‘disabled’ bodies are largely perceived as ‘undesirable.’ In a society where sexuality is created and performed over and over within popular culture, the invisibility of women with disabilities in many ways denies them the right to sexuality, particularly within a public context.”

I really love what Norris has done through this spoof. Not only are the photos beautiful but the message Norris and Jes send is a great one. This spoof of American Apparel’s advertisements allows us to look at the ways the advertising industry both objectively and selectively portrays women. It is not only a critique on the industry but also provides an alternative for advertising as well.

The complete series is available at Holly Norris’ website. The actual exhibit is also available for viewing in Toronto, Canada. It will also be shown on over 270 digital screens in 50 Toronto Transit Commission stations on May 6, 11, 22 and 31.

May 8, 2010

I love me some B!

My internet has been down lately (soo annoying), so I apologize for the lack of posts this past week. Anyways, I  got around to watching Beyonce's new music video yesterday, and after completely falling in love with it, I realized that it was about damn time for me to make a post in here about good ol' B. I love Beyonce! People always think I'm kidding when I say that, but I'm not, I seriously love Beyonce and shamelessly have both her and Destiny Childs full discographies on my computer. 

I always hear other feminists arguing back and forth about whether or not Beyonce is in fact a feminist. Honestly, I have no idea, and I think it's really hard to come to that conclusion without knowing the individual personally. But as far as Beyonce's music goes, and weather or not that is feminist; I like to think it is, or at-least very pro-woman.  
On one hand, Beyonce's music, like most pop music, is focused on men, looking perfect, and being sexual- all things that make me, and I'm sure other feminists as well, very weary of calling her music feminist. But on the other hand, Beyonce's music also speaks openly and loudly about strong women, empowerment, and sisterhood. In my opinion, when it comes to Beyonce's music, the good definitely outweighs the bad. 

But I do think it's annoying that these days even when a women is singing about being strong and empowered, she still has to do it sexually and half-naked. It would be awesome if the majority of women in pop music didn't have to be sexual and practically naked while doing everything, but unfortunately that's a trend that I don't think any of us see going away any time soon (though don't get me wrong, I totally wish it would! Where are my 90's women of today!?). Though what makes me happy about Beyonce is that I don't see her sexual outfits and persona as promoting the idea of women being sexy for men, but rather the idea of women being sexy for themselves; because they want to be sexy, they feel and think they are sexy. And that's cool! Her songs and attitude give off a "I don't need you to tell me I'm hot; I know I'm hot!" kind of vibe. And with young girls and womens self-esteems always being so low, I think thats a great message to send. 

When talking about Beyonce, I always hear girls say things like: "Beyonce makes me feel confident, or beautiful, or proud of my curves". And honestly, anyone who can make girls feel like that is feminist enough for me! And it's true, listening to Beyonce's music definitely does makes me feel all of those things and more. I think Beyonce is a great role model for girls of all ages, and although some of her music is typical pop songs, I think that for the most part her message is understood and a great one at that.

"The most important thing is to make sure you have your own life before you're someone else's wife." -Beyonce
 Now please go and watch her new music video for her song 'Why Don't you love me', it really is awesome. I love the retro feel and her take on the pissed off 1950's house wife. Plus, let's be honest, she looks damn good in that pin-up style with those Betty-bangs! also wrote a great entry about Beyonce and feminism quite some time ago. You can check it out here.