You’re Not a Feminist, You’re Just a Cunt

Now let me make one thing perfectly clear. I love Feminism. If I could weave it into a quilt and wrap myself up into it whilst eating chocolate digestives, I would. Feminism is needed, and no rational person can dispute that. All you need do is look at domestic violence, sexual assault and wage statistics to see Feminism is still essential and relevant. Beyonce once said in an interview that Feminism needed a revamp. A new name. And, as I’ve written before, although I’m not entirely sure that her suggestion of ‘Bootilicious’, I see what she means. The word alone of Feminism is just ladened with connotational baggage of angry, hairy, terrifying women shouting. As I have written about before, women who buy into this idea of what Feminism is, but still support equal rights for women (as longs as its prefixed by ‘I’m not a Feminist but…’) are detrimental to Feminism as they reject the label, but they are in fact Feminists, many women who call themselves Feminists are just as detrimental to the movement.

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And this is how: There’s a certain section of Feminists that are, basically hypocrites. And this is a very specific open letter to them, of sorts. I appreciate that you’re angry, oppressed and hurt by the damage that has occurred because of warped patriarchal ideas about beauty and (related) value. But let me make this very clear: Vilifying what society deems as pretty and naturally skinny girls doesn’t make you a great feminist – in fact, its the opposite of feminism. How are you expecting to empower women, when you’re shaming them for being the way they are. You wouldn’t shame an overweight girl for being self confident. You wouldn’t tell an overweight girl to eat less. You would never assume, let alone publicly on websites such as twitter or tumblr, that an overweight girl had an eating disorder. And good! You shouldn’t! However, how a person could possibly know that it’s wrong to say these horrible, bullying statements to overweight girls could justify it to say to a naturally skinny girl it absolutely beyond belief and frankly sickening. You do not have the right to hide behind Feminism as if bullying a girl for her physical appearance is tearing down the walls of patriarchy. It isn’t. It’s reinforcing them. And frankly, I don’t care if you’re nastiness comes from issues with your own confidence in regard to physical appearances. It is unacceptable. It is bullying.

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Beauty and intelligence are not mutually exclusive. You will do well to remember this. The girls you see on television. The girls you see airbrushed on magazines. You have been conditioned to aspire to be these girls. And then you realised the ridiculousness of this. You have decided to hate them. You have not yet realised the ridiculousness of this. You woke up a little, but you still have sleep in your eyes. Wake up. You do not know these girls. These girls have problems, too. These girls can’t stand to look at themselves in the mirror somedays, too. These girls have worries keeping them awake at night too. Television shows are edited for entertainment value. Photographs are airbrushed to sell products. There are girls who can’t go to school, you could help them. There are girls who can’t afford tampons, you could help them. There are women who are killed every day through domestic violence, you could help them. But its easier to sit at your computer and tweet about how the eighteen year old girls on Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model are vapid and stupid, though you know nothing of the intellect of these young girls who are just trying to further themselves and achieve their dreams. Don’t devalue their dreams because they are not yours.
Now take a look at yourself.
Do you understand?
No?
You are not a Feminist. Equality is equality, nothing less – there are no tiers. No betters, not worse.
Yes?
Good.
You’ve grown.

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HBO Girls Review: ‘Together’ (2×10)

The second season of Lena Dunham’s Girls came to a disappoint climax last night, in the finale ‘Together’, which made a lame, trite effort to tie together a tempestuous season of  sex, drugs and serious soul searching for all characters involved. Girls-Season-2-Episode-10-Together-4

The episode opens with OCD riddled Hannah with an intense appointment with Doctor Google following a serious spurt of ear-related hypochondria expands into just general distrust that her body won’t do what it’s meant/will do what it’s not meant to do (e.g. stop breathing). Hannah’s sassy book editor calls her to bust her ass about her lack of work – she resolves to write the entire thing in a day. Of course, the next shot of Hannah we get is her eating Cool Whip and reading a magazine.

Marnie and Charlie are back together – well, Charlie wasn’t so sure it seemed going by his reaction to her saying that they had reached their ‘end point’ and were now ‘old fogeys.’ Marnie makes a scene after misinterpreting his hesitation after her ‘we’ll be together forever’ spiel. Literally huffing as she storms off, arms folded like a child told she can’t eat dessert before lunch Charlie chases after her, and it’s sadly reminiscent of the puppy-esque boring Charlie of Season One that Marnie fell so spectacularly out of love with. Initially, Marnie’s want to make him snacks and have his ‘brown babies’ seems sweet. I agree that motherhood is a worthy life ambition – but it doesn’t seem authentically what Marnie wants. Perhaps she’s come to a realisation, a true epiphany that her vocation is motherhood- or maybe she just said what she thought Charlie wanted to hear? Or maybe she really does think this is what she wants to do with her life. Just as she thought she wanted to be an art curator, or a singer. Charlie admitting that he only ever wanted to hear Marnie say that seems genuine enough, although in last week’s episode his pity and contempt for Marnie which has been blatant through this series makes his love questionable? Marnie is unquestionably vain – “Really? You don’t want to date me? This is your last chance.”  She shouts across the restaurant (which is playing a nice bit of Jake Bugg) as if to say, please, I’m way too hot for rejection. This series Marnie should’ve learnt that her looks are unimportant – they got her a hostess job, the sexual advances of Booth Jonathon (creepy doll sex artist guy) – neither of which brought her any real happiness. However, all she’s done is claw back Charlie – Charlie who brags about his money that Marnie talks about a bit too much to genuinely not care about it. Maybe Marnie will become a gold digger in Season Three, of which a 13 episode long series has been commissioned, although surely we’ve already had that with poor old Jessa and her Creepy Capitalist husband Thomas-John.

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                Previous to this scene, Charlie is, erm, in clinical terms, performing oral sex on Marnie who becomes paranoid about the scale of his improvement in the sack, and manically and pointedly asked how many people he’s slept with since their break up.  Ray and Shoshanna are also having sex, Shoshanna asks him to finish up, but Ray won’t ‘finish’ unless she ‘finishes’ – and Shosh ain’t finishing any time soon. Shoshanna is wracked with guilt, and she’s taking it out on Ray as aggression, pushing him away as far as possible. Adam is also getting his end away, with straight forward, beautiful and badly treated Natalia. After his treatment – he eventually seems to choose Hannah over Natalia, when really- he never deserved the choice in the first place. He calls her a whore when she replies that yes, she is enjoying his dick, thank you very much – and she tells him she can enjoy his dick without being a whore – and she wants to make it crystal fucking clear. Natalia doesn’t play games, and it seems that Adam has no remorse for last week’s sexual transgression, seeing as he’s happy to verbally degrade her during sex.

Marnie calls in on Hannah, but Hannah hides next to her bed. Hannah and Marnie’s friendship has always been an odd one, but their lack of communication this season seems to question their label of ‘best friends’ – best friends should stick with each other through anything, putting each other in front of themselves, but Marnie and Hannah have hidden their struggles from each other. Marnie only visits Hannah when she has something to boast about, not because she has a problem – not because she needs Hannah – or even because she thinks Hannah needs her – Marnie also obviously thinks Hannah’s under the bed – why doesn’t she look if she’s so worried about her? And on her way out, she takes a candle stick holder – as if she had the ulterior motive of getting the rest of her belongs from her old house.

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                Ray. Ray, how I love you. Worried about Shoshanna’s growing distance from him, he attempts to make changes to his life, addressing the problems she addresses – namely, his lack of ambition. Initially, he wants to finish his ‘Latin Studies PHD’ (which is not a course I would had put him down to study), but instead he accepts the offer of manager (or district chief logistics and operations supervisor/developmental operations coordinator) of a nice up-market Brooklyn Grumpy’s and the hint of inheriting the company, or at least a top ranking job, due to his bosses ‘internal issues’ (which could be a euphemism for his own personal health problems, if not internal  issues in the business itself) – his boss who I wish we’d seen more of, with his quips about Shosh’s bread product bags. Things seem to be looking up for Ray, he’s excited to tell Shosh – thinking she’ll be excited that he’s taking some initiative, making his life change for the better. And how does she react with the news? By breaking up with him. I’ve always had a soft spot for Shoshanna, but ever since he cheated on her, I’ve just been harvesting continuous disappointment.

I wouldn’t be surprised if next season she tries to get Ray back – after she grows bored of meaningless flings with boys who she means nothing to. Gone is the scared virgin of Season One, and in her place is a very confused young woman. She screams “do you even know me?” when Ray asks if there’s another guy – a tall blond Scandinavian type. However, later we see her drunkenly kissing this exact description in a bar. Is she doing this to spite Ray? Or is she losing herself, going against the ideals she’s always held herself to.  How can Ray know her, if she doesn’t know herself? I hope Ray is in the next season, and I hope he doesn’t change.

Hannah attempts to replicate Carey Mulligan’s cute crew cut, and butchers her hair (Lena Dunham’s own hair is being cut I believe) and she turns to the junkie she used for sex tries to fix her – her hair at least, but just exacerbates the problem. Earlier Hannah rang home to ask her Dad to give her money, so she can pay back her advance, relieving the editor’s pressure- he refuses.

It seems like Hannah needs a man to save her. Her Dad can’t (or, at least, won’t) save her. Laird the junkie can’t save her (especially not her hair). She talks about how when she was younger she’d break glass, and someone would clean it up for her, worrying that she’d get cut – but now no one cares. No one’s there to pick up the pieces. Thank God Laird calls her out on her bullshit, when she interprets his human decency for a sexual advance -he calls her “the most self-involved, presumptuous person I have ever met.” She then admits “I didn’t think of you as a person and I understand now that was wrong.”

What I would’ve liked to see now would be for Hannah to crack on and write her book, at least a chapter or two – thus far she’s written one line, which Marnie reads when she’s in the flat: “A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance…” (which seems ironic in comparison to how this episode actually ends). She speaks to Marnie. She takes her meds. No men involved. She feels optimistic.

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But Hannah wants to be protected. She finally calls Adam, who (despite his the fact his lovely girlfriend Natalia has forgotten his ‘maybe yes probably rape’) is destroying a ship he’s been building in his apartment since the shows conception. Adam runs topless through New York, literally dropping everything, to get to Hannah who needs him help, like a freaking Ryan Gosling Rom-Com Hero. I don’t buy Adam as the romantic hero; did he not just rape someone last week? This ending is purely a self-indulgent act of giving in to conventions of the less than respectable genre of romcom. If Lena Dunham is the feminist icon, the voice of a generation –how can she forget Adam’s transgression? The whole episode is rushed, but this end really left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

In the second episode of this season, Hannah calls the police when Adam enters her apartment without invitation; however, this time Adam literally kicks her apartment door down when she won’t let him in, and we’re meant to view this happy for the couple? The couple who just didn’t work? I don’t feel like Marnie and Charlie really deserve happiness. Neither do Hannah and Adam. Do you know who does? FUCKING RAY. Hannah’s writing block and ‘OCDC’ situation remain unresolved – her promise to write pages for her editor has been broken. She relinquishes responsibilities and hides in Adam’s arms from the big scary world. Shosh seems to have thrown her toys out the pram, Jessa ran away from her problems, Marnie huffed and got what she wanted, Hannah hide from her problems only to be pulled out and cradled by dominant Adam, who repeatedly calls her kid. Why are all these Girls represented as children?

(500) Days of Summer and Debunking the Friendzone Myth

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Released in 2009, (500) Days of Summer was an offbeat indie ‘anti-romcom’ box office hit, catapulting Zooey Deschannel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to international stardom. The film is peppered with great dialogue and scenes, such as the choreographed musical routine to ultimate feel good tune-  Hall and Oates’ ‘You Make My Dreams Come True’, which marching band and animated birds and a winking Han Solo ‘ This is followed which is followed in a stunning juxtaposition with scenes of moping, self pitying Tom. The nonlinear structure of the film gives it the spice of difference while remaining in the popular market. However, the way in which it is interpreted as showing the ‘friendzone.’

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Tom meets Summer working in an office, writing cards – ironic, as the industry perpetuates ideologies to the masses. Tom says, after his Summer fling (ha ha) “These cards, and the movies and the pop songs, they’re to blame for all the lies and the heartache, everything. We’re responsible. I’M responsible. I think we do a bad thing here. People should be able to say how they feel, how they really feel, not ya know, some words that some stranger put in their mouth. Words like love, that don’t mean anything.” But its Tom’s buying into the idea of the ‘nice guy’ and the idea that somehow he deserves a relationship with Summer, though despite her outright telling him she wasn’t interested in a long term monogamous relationship with him.

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They argue:

Summer: We’re just fr… 

Tom: [Interrupting]
No! Don’t pull that with me! This is not how you treat your friend! Kissing in the copy room? Holding hands in IKEA? Shower sex? Come on! Friends my balls!

Despite Tom’s feelings, its hard to subjectively blame Summer. She was clear with Tom on the point- she even tells him she doesn’t believe in love– and he agrees to her terms. Let me repeat: HE AGREES TO HER TERMS. Any substance to his argument that Summer is in the wrong has fallen flat. Summer is constructed of contradictions – as most people are. People change, people do things that aren’t ‘them’ (i.e “That’s so not me, I can’t believe I did that”) – as Iain S. Thomas said “I keep wondering, how many people do you need to be, before you can become yourself.

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Often the audience demonises Summer, calling her a ‘bitch’, ‘slut’, a ‘cocktease’ or whatever, but the fact is, he agreed to not being in the kind of relationship he wanted – so why should he have the right to insult her? Why should the audience? Perhaps it’s because we see the story from Tom’s vantage point, its easier to side with the person who’s shoes you’re walking in. If we saw from Summer’s angle, perhaps we’d had thought differently. She meets a boy – Tom – he’s great, but somethings missing. She’s straight with him, and rather than continue to lead him on, she finishes it and unintentionally breaks his heart, and he can’t let go. Then she meets someone else someone, as she says who made her certain of what she was never certain with, with Tom. A whole new love story, that ends with a wedding and the attempted rekindling of a friendship with Tom, despite his nasty words born from selfpity. Also, the Author’s Note at the start of the film sets us up to dislike the girl, without even knowing who she is or what she has done. The ‘fuck you’ also suggests that the Tom’s real life counterpart is still hurt, or at least still bitter. Summer is set up as a bitch, so its unsurprising the audience think her a bitch.

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A guy and a girl can be just be friends, but at one point or another, they’ll fall for each other…maybe temporarily, maybe at the wrong time, maybe too late, or maybe forever.” This statement is ridiculous – the idea that no one can have friends of the other gender. There isn’t even a way to articulate how wrong this statement is, because it’s just ridiculous.

Hollywood perpetuates this idea that casual sex doesn’t work, especially between friends, as films like Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached prove. Films which have essentially the same story line – boy and girl meet, are attracted to each other, don’t want serious relationships but want to get laid, they develop feelings for each other, and they can’t continue unless they commit to a traditional monogamous relationship.

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However, Joseph Gordan-Levitt, who plays Tom, gave an interview to Playboy magazine in which he questioned this romanticised view of Tom as the celebrated ‘nice guy’ and Summer as the ‘bitch’, even if others who worked on the film felt that was the right reading – as the aforementioned Author’s Note would suggest.

“The (500) Days of Summer attitude of “He wants you so bad” seems attractive to some women and men, especially younger ones, but I would encourage anyone who has a crush on my character to watch it again and examine how selfish he is. He develops a mildly delusional obsession over a girl onto whom he projects all these fantasies. He thinks she’ll give his life meaning because he doesn’t care about much else going on in his life. A lot of boys and girls think their lives will have meaning if they find a partner who wants nothing else in life but them. That’s not healthy. That’s falling in love with the idea of a person, not the actual person.

No, I really liked that movie. The coming-of-age story is subtly done, and that’s great, because nothing’s worse than an over-the-top, cheesy, hitting-you-over-the-head-with-a-hammer, moral-of-the-story sort of thing. But a part of the movie that’s less talked about is that once Zooey’s character dumps the guy, he builds himself up without the crutch of a fantasy relationship, and he meets a new girl.

Making checklists of things you’re looking for in a person is the numero uno thing you can do to guarantee you’ll be alone forever. You can’t meet someone and think, Do they have everything I want in a person? You just have to pay attention, keep your eyes open, listen to people and be present. I guess what I look for in a girl is someone who’s doing that too. Beyond that there’s not much more I would specify, because you never fucking know, man.”

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Levitt raises multiple intelligent points on this idea of ‘friendzoning’ and the ‘nice guy’, although he extends it outside of gender – which I think it good. Boys can be put into these situations too. However, the nice guy is undeniably a feminist issue. The idea of the ‘nice guy finishing last’ is ridiculous. Doing nice things for a female friend when you’re sober is embarrassing because it apparently shows that you’re friendzoned – and those who are nice to their girlfriends are ‘whipped’ – however, girls who help their male friends and/or are nice to their boyfriends are just doing the expected. There is no female equivalent to this, though girls may adopt the ‘friendzone’/’whipped’ to apply to their own situation. Often girls will complain that a guy’s ‘too nice’, or that she loves a ‘bad boy’ – the ideology has manifested itself in women too, however, the majority of women in happy relationships would most likely agree that men being ‘nice guys’ are paramount to successful relationships. The idea of the ‘friendzone’ demonizes the woman’s right to say no, and the idea that a woman is doing something wrong, rather than a man being fairly rejected massages the male ego, and to a certain extent perpetuates rape culture. Often these guys suffering from ‘Nice Guy Syndrome’ aren’t nice guys at all – women are not machines that you put nice actions into and sex comes out, as one  internet meme proclaims.Yes, we may empathise with Tom’s position, seeing past or present versions of ourselves in his self pity and his rejection. But does that mean this film proves the friendzone/’nice guys finish last’ myths true? Does it fuck.

Why International Women’s Day pisses me off

Uh these people making sexist jokes about international women’s day aren’t even trying. Yes, it’s the eighth of March today – also known by many (thanks to Google) as International Women’s Day, and of course twitter is rife with sexist jokes. I’m going to be a little controversial here but…. I don’t mind sexist jokes. Well, not if they’re funny. Uh, this is where some of the diehard feminists may get mad at me, but honestly, I don’t. I don’t think drawing lines in comedy about who you can and can’t make jokes about is beneficial. I don’t take personally a joke if it is a) funny and b) not intended as mean. Obviously, it’s easier to be funny and maintain no traces of cruelty in some areas than others, but that’s the nature of the beast. Some people who slate modern day comedians’ vulgarity will praise Monty Python and Dudley Moore and Peter Cook as comedy Gods.

            What offends me, now what really riles me, disgusts me in every which way possible is a bad joke. A bad, needlessly offensive joke. A joke that leaves that nasty tang in the back of your throat. A joke that makes you both be repulsed by and simultaneously pity the joke teller. And that’s bulk of these online jabs at International Women’s Day, which can be summarized pretty universally in:

“huh huh sniffle sniffle kitchen ha ha wank wank womens day haha”

A bad joke is just sad, really. Myself, I went with “Shout out my fine ass bitches this international women’s day” Vulga? Yes. Offensive? Not intentionally, but I guess it could be received as. But Ironic? Oh yes, I like to think the irony of the sentiment overshadows it all. And the reaction I got from it (as of yet) has been entirely positive, and almost entirely female.

“Why isn’t there an international men’s day????” Some cry. Oh the injustice of it all! Well, there is. November 19th. Well that and every other day.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day (in the UK at least) and this has led to a few twitter’s wondering what’s the need for both day? Uh the fact that an International Women’s day is equated with Mother’s Day is dishearteningly depressing in itself, suggesting what it is to be a woman is to be a Mother. I think Motherhood should be celebrated, and Mother’s day is great for that; but I equally respect a women’s right to chose whether she has or doesn’t have children. I don’t think not having children makes a woman less of a woman. I mean, just look at Condalezza Rice, Angela Merkel, Hilary Clinton… Oprah – just as I don’t think having children should make you any less professionally successful, as mothers of two, Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, executive editor of The New York Times Ellen Abramson and prominent Indian politician Sonia Gandhi.

I imagine these men (or should I say boys, because I do think the title of ‘man’ has too many positive connotations for some of these pricks)  to be the type of men who say they always get ‘friend zoned’ and that ‘nice guys always finish last’ and I must say that personally, the self declaring ‘nice guy is a) b) you’re probably not a nice guy if you have to declare it. Also I get mildly irritated by some of the ‘male white feminists’, because as much as I know their hearts must be in the right place, and I do appreciate the support for women’s rights – sometimes, the minority, can seem… a little, well, patronising. And you know what? I even feel bad for writing this, but sometimes it can seem like they’re on the other end of the nice guy spectrum – oooh, look at me, helping with your rights, I hope you appreciate this lil ladies! Look! I’m a nice guy! – OH GOD MALE FEMINISTS I LOVE YOU REALLY PLEASE DON’T TELL YOUR LEADER (Ryan Gosling) I SAID THIS I’M SORRY.

A lot of the argument I get against women is that they can’t be equal, because they’re physically not – which I guess is true. Men are stronger and faster, as many boys argue at me. Oh yes, because we’re all running around to catch our food these days. I think there’s an issue with the way in which Feminism is perceived. Oh yes, I said it, that buzzword that repulses men and women alike – conjuring up images of middle aged women wearing open-toed sandals, with hair prominent on every surface. Well, this is what comes into the minds of those who don’t understand what feminism is. Beyonce said once in an interview that Feminism needs a new name – she opted for Bootilicious. Where I don’t particularly agree with reducing the movement down to a song about her ass, I see her point to an extent. Women often happily declare they support equal rights for women but sternly assert I AM NOT A FEMINIST – well, my dear, I’m afraid you are. The opposition of Feminism by women, and its ridiculing representation in the media really does mute what feminism is trying to say. We’re all the mother (Mrs. Banks) from Mary Poppins, middle class white girls forgetting the responsibilities of the domestic to go have jolly good fun at the rallies, while good women, like the ‘practically perfect in every way’ idealized Mary Poppins – although, in herself Mary is an independent self sustaining woman, who does not end up married dutifully to the poorly accented rapscallion, Burt. See, nothing is simple. Mary’s both a feminist icon and an enemy.

In itself, International Women’s Day is great. I’m all for a day celebrating the vast, contrasting cultures and the consistent importance of women throughout the world. But I knew some pricks would ruin it. And that just pisses me off.