Thursday, October 30, 2008

CUT

Patricia McCormick’s “Cut” was a young adult novel I chose based on a recommendation from my younger sister.  She said that it changed her life.  After reading it, I was saddened to have to correlate its self-harming subject matter with my lil sis…

In the novel, Callie is a self-destructive girl who cuts herself.  Never enough to kill herself, but just enough to feel the pain of being alive.  I have never personally cut before, so I’m not sure what it feels like.  However, after researching some on the web, I have discovered that it can be associated with relief, a way for the emotional pain to escape through physical means.  Callie is unresponsive to the steps her parents take to get her to express her feelings, and withdrawls herself completely from her friends, peers and family.  Engaging in the only activitiy that allows her to “breath,” she realizes she has a problem when the sight of shiny sharp objects gives her happiness.

Written in the first person as though you are Callie, as though you were the one dealing with the emotional stresses of being a teenager, the novel captivates you from the first page where she discusses doing anything to avoid answering her therapists questions directly.  Escaping into textile fantasies where the feel of the leather couch beneath her dominates her senses to the point where she can’t focus on what her “shrink” is saying, Callie looses herself in small day dreams to deny confronting the problems that have taken over her life.  After a nurse and her parents find out she is cutting herself, they send Callie away to a residential rehab community. 

After being threatened with expulsion, Callie begins to open up emotionally and verbally and volunteers sharp objects she has collected during her stay.  Aside from a rock-bottom attempt to cut herself with a piece of sharp tin foil, Callie makes progress, and it is clear she is getting better at separating wanting to feel better with inflicting harm.  The fact that this novel was written in the first person, like a letter, helped me to understand the rationalizing and reasoning that goes on when self-mutilating seems like the only way to make the pain stop.  After she comes to terms with the fact that you don’t need to cut to not feel numb any more, Callie is able to recognize her motivations for the harm: she feels partially responsible for her brother’s near death experience.  Giving voice to girls and women who feel so silenced that they have to resort to external cutting to get attention and release the internal pain, “Cut” opens the wounds some use to heal.

More information can be found HERE about cutting.

TIPS from girls of all ages to overcome cutting.

Barf!

http://www.lyrics.com/index.php/artists/lyric/theory-of-a-deadman-lyrics-bad-girlfriendt-13949663

The Boyfriend List: girl code exposed

The book I read is a few years old and is written for young girls. I actually bought it at the dollar tree which surprised me after reading it because it was really good. It’s called “The Boyfriend List” and the author is E. Lockhart. I tried googling her and there was pretty much nothing besides her blog and her website. Her bio on her website gave me no information about her background and she really didn’t give any personal info besides her first name which is Emily. I was sure after reading this book again and noticing all the stuff about vegetarianism and feminism that she’d be some sort of activist.

The book was about this girl named Ruby and the list of boyfriends (official or not) that she’s ever had; which was an assignment from her therapist. It’s a cute way to write a book and I really enjoyed the sequencing and style. The most annoying thing in the book is that her nickname is Roo which for some reason really repulsed me.

Ruby’s life was probably like most girls, growing up with your girlfriends gossiping and talking about boys. Ranting about boys, fighting with your friends and having people hurt you. She ends up seeing the therapist because she’d been having panic attacks after losing her boyfriend to her best friend while losing all her other friends for kissing her ex. No one at school talks to her and she becomes a self proclaimed leper and after her first draft of her list is taken out of the school trash can she is labeled a slut. You cant help feel for Ruby, her boyfriend breaks up with her and then a few days later her best friend calls to tell her they are dating and she shouldn’t be upset because they didn’t do anything before they broke up. The whole book talks about girl code, and dating your best friends ex a few days later is definitely against girl code in my book. Then when her ex asks her to prom as friends because his new girlfriend is out of town and Ruby gets caught up in his compliments and kisses him, he kisses her back until someone sees him and he acts like he didn’t want to kiss her. Then everyone is mad at Ruby and she’s kind of stuck with no friends.

I can relate to that a lot. While I was reading this I was really emotionally involved. I empathized with Ruby a lot. I remember losing all your friends when you were younger even if it was for a few days or something stupid. The thing that sucks is that it’s still relevant as a college age woman which shows this catty girlness travels into womanhood. It left me wondering, who makes up girl code and when it’s ok to break it or change the rules. It’s so hard to know how to follow, and girls will either love you or hate you if you don’t play the game right. Why does our gender do this? I never noticed guys having boy code and even though they might feel the same way about a friend dating their ex it’s something they would never bring up. Maybe that is the guy code though; you just can’t have any feelings.

Girls Out Late by Jacqueline Wilson

Girls Out Late

The three main characters, Nadine, Magda, and Ellie vary in size, style, and attitude. Ellie, who nararates the story, talks about her insecurities about her weight and popularity. No matter how fat she feels in her pants, or too-tight sweaters, she still acts confident when in her friends’ presence. They lift her up, and always stand by her. Ellie has a neat Stepmother, little brother, and a Dad who tries very hard to stay firm, while still letting her figure things out on her own. Her Dad encourages her to draw, date (14 yrs old), or do whatever else makes me happy. Magda differs from Ellie in almost every way. She is gorgeous, loves boys, and wants to spend all of her free time shopping. Nadine wear all black, loves to listen to underground bands, and had an abusive boyfriend in the past.

During the story, the girls deal with many issues with the opposite sex. Ellie has her first boyfriend, Russell. Nadine struggles to distance herself from her ex-boyfriend. Magda gets herself in trouble after pursuing a teacher. The girls always make time for each other. Although they find it difficult at times, they all promise to pick each other over boys. Even at their early age, they realize boys come and go, but the relationship between women is long lasting and special.

The biggest event of the story revolves around a concert. The singer, a self-proclaimed feminist, cancels the show because her new football star boyfriend sees her lyrics as man bashing. The girls, already in the big city, find themselves alone without any way to get home. A group of young men approach the girls and invite them to their loft. Nadine falls head-over-heels in love with one of the emo-looking boys, and begs the girls to go along. To make a long story short, the girls were in a very bad situation at the loft, and likely would have been raped. But, they worked together to escape and get to the bus.

I liked that this book showed such a positive friendship between the girls. The girls were strong, very different, and did not need men to “save” them. By working together, anything was possible. That is a concept I think most girls today need to hear.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I didn't blog on time cuz I got dumped

I am not going to blog about a movie because although I watched Ghost World and Now and Then for this assignment, I could not muster up enough emotional energy to blog about someone else’s life (or even blog on time). So I've decided to blog about my own life. I think this is relevant because I am a girl and a feminist and this is real.

On Sunday I got dumped. We dated for three and a half years and I was madly in love with him. I thought he loved me too, but apparently not anymore. Problems between us started mostly when I came into feminism. I became strong and loud and opinionated. I had views that started differing from his on everything from Iraq to Family Guy to hairstyles. I wanted him to take Intro to Women’s Studies and he didn’t want to. I wanted him to participate with CodePink and he didn’t want to. I wanted him to understand why John McCain is bad for women’s health and well being, and he didn’t want to.
I know feminism changed my life, but I guess I didn’t fully realize that it changed me as a person too. I’m not the same person that I was in High School when we started dating. I’m convinced feminism (and the fact that this is an election year) is the reason he stopped loving me. Maybe I asked too much of him, but I was really just trying to open his eyes and expand his mind the way feminism did for me. I keep thinking of the Bright Eyes lyrics from the song Land Locked Blues, “A good woman will pick you apart A box full of suggestions for your possible heart But you may be offended and you may be afraid But don’t walk away, don’t walk away.” I see the world in a different light and know so much more now that I have come into feminism and the progressive community. He didn’t see the world the same way and didn’t want to try. I can understand that this is a big change and would be hard for someone to adjust to, but it makes me sad that he couldn’t accept the new, educated, passionate me.
Sometimes I secretly wish that I never became a feminist and that I never became socially and politically aware. I know that this is blasphemous and horrifying, but I know that my life would be easier in so many ways, and maybe my relationship would still be intact. I guess feminism isn’t easy though. It’s about sacrifice and going against popular opinion and doing what is right instead of what is easy. I’m sure I will be much stronger in my feminism and myself when I’m over this, but being dumped by the person you love is hard and for now I’m going to lay in bed and cry. Sorry I didn’t blog on topic or on time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I want traveling pants

I haven't seen most of the movies that were on our list but I got the impression that most of them portrayed the negative side of girlhood and adolescence. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants has the ability to dip into the negativity (death, single parenting, lost love, losing virginity, parents' divorce), however, it's still a feel-good movie. I think that's ultimately because it focuses so much on this friendship between four girls - a friendship that's so strong that nothing will break them apart.
I think a strong, healthy relationship is probably the best thing a girl can ask for (as long as it doesn't delve into the "toxic friendship"). I imagine this is one reason why middle school and high school can be so difficult for girls: because they're so busy trying to impress everyone and make friends. For example, in 10th grade I had one really good friend that I ate lunch with every day. On the days she was absent, I was embarrassed to eat alone and I was reminded of how much I needed our relationship.
I'd like to think (and hope hope hope) that, aside from the magical pants, something like Sisterhood is more realistic than Kids. I'd much prefer if life could be more about trips to Greece and soccer camp and never-ending ties between friends than fourteen-year-olds with AIDS. And if we could have awesome one-size-fits-all pants, well, that would be cool too.

- Bianca

Teen Breaks

I saw a link to this site on Feministing and thought that it was relevant to our ongoing and upcoming discussions about girls' sexuality.

The website deals with girls' sexuality and encourages abstinence and condemns abortion.

I find the site absolutely horrifying, full of misinformation and sexism. I was curious as to what you all would have to say about it.

http://www.teenbreaks.com/

Monday, October 20, 2008

Living in a Ghost World

  I just recently watched Ghost World, and I never thought about toxic friendships before it was brought up in class. Ghost World definitely portrayed the ideal toxic friendship, where Enid and Rebecca both wanted things to stay the way they have always been in their relationship. I do blame Enid for many things that happened, because it was obvious that she was not at all happy with herself, and that she wanted Rebecca to also be on the same level. For example, in the very beginning of the movie where they were at the dance, and a boy came up to Rebecca to talk to her and he would not even look at Enid, it was obvious that Enid was bothered by this, and pulled Rebecca away to go talk about someone. The toxic friends out there are the ones that do not want to see their friends succeed or to have a significant other, because misery loves company. My mom has always told me that, and I see that to be true more and more as I get older. I know even for me personally, I love when good things happen to my friends, because I feel like they are happening to me, but sometimes it is difficult to have someone around when they are at a high peak in their life, and you are at a low one. You always want people to be at your same level. 
When I was a young girl, friendships were extremely important (as they are now), but it was in a different way, because it came down to popularity and comfort most of the time. Toxic friendships really take a toll on anyone, especially being young and not realizing that this isn't healthy. It is difficult, because there are not many good representations of healthy friendships in movies and t.v. shows. They are either about girls forming an alliance against someone else, or two girls just separating themselves from everyone and relying solely on one another for happiness, and not allowing progression in life. By having these portrayals shown to us our entire lives, this is how we think it should be, and it's not. Girls need to have good examples of healthy friendships, and the enriching benefits that come from that deep connection with a close friend that truly loves and cares for you. 

Let's Make a Pact

“Now and Then” was an absolute staple of my girlhood. When it was brought up in class, my mind immediately raced back to the fourth grade and the weekends my best friend and I would spend watching the movie during sleepovers at her house. I specifically remember enjoying the thrill of watching something my mother wouldn’t have allowed in my own house (swearing! nudity! sex talk! never!). Needless to say, I was a bit of a Chrissy back in those days. Watching the movie this weekend helped me to appreciate the movie in an entirely new light, however, and fall even deeper in love with the story than I was before.

One recurring theme that I first began to notice during this watching was the adamant declaration of girlhood by the four young women. First reasserted by Chrissy in the restaurant when their waitress called them boys, and later by Roberta when she was told that girls couldn’t play softball, this insistence on being called “girls” was important in constructing the many different identities and personalities which can, and do, all fall under the category of “girlhood.” Despite the differences between feisty Roberta, mothering Chrissy, glamorous Teeny, and contemplative Samantha, each still insisted on their girlhood, thus illustrating the many different possibilities available to young women. This was a pleasant contrast to the two theoretical ideas often presented in scholarly work, that of girls as either consumer-obsessed, post-feminist girlies, or as drowning Ophelias in need of adult intervention.

Although the girls were greatly distanced from their parents – Teeny admitted she barely knew hers, Samantha’s were recently divorced, Roberta’s mother passed away, and Chrissy’s father was never seen – each did still play an important role in their daughter’s lives. Much of the plot revolves around each of the girls dealing with their familial struggles separately and together, and it is through these struggles that their own individual identities can be seen to form – Teeny’s constant need for attention and Roberta’s jokes about death, for example. The power that previous generations are capable of holding over young girls’ heads can thus be seen, along with the understanding that, despite what many girls grow up being taught, “no shit … parent’s aren’t always right.” By deconstructing previously held notions about the perfect family – through divorce, death, and a lack of honest education – the girls discover that are capable of carving out their own paths in life, and that they can – and should! – question the “ideal” life they are brought up buying into.

Ultimately, this movie is about girlhood blossoming into womanhood, and the promise that despite wherever independence and adult life brings an individual, the bonds formed between close friends never have to be broken by a society that fears the power of female relationships. As Samantha contemplates near the end of the film, “We all used to try so hard to fit in. We wanted to look exactly alike, do all the same things, practically be the same person, but when we weren't looking that all changed. The tree house was supposed to bring us more independence, but what the summer actually brought was independence from each other.” Although this moment could be representative of the end of the girls’ friendship, it actually symbolized the strength the girls gave each as they entered into adult life, and the pact that no matter where they were in life they would always return home to each other and the perfect treehouse they spent the best summer of their lives in search of.

"Some people are ok, mostly I just feel like poisoning everybody"

I've seen a few films recently that deal with a central issue, the toxic friendship. I never realized how prevalent this topic is in films for teenage girls! Soemtime it is blatant and outright, like Thirteen and Mouth to Mouthand, others its a little more underlying, like in Ghost World and Poison Ivy. The film i most recently watched was Ghost World, it has all the components of a teen angst film, the two friends who exude confidence and edge but really are dealing with their own insecurities and cut people down constantly to build themselves up. They are best friends and always seen around with each other (kind of like a modern day Romy and Michelle) and doing something different. I enjoyed that aspect of the film, Enid had her own individual style and both of them did not want to follow the status quo. At the same time these girls are living as a duo, and even when one doubts the others idea (like pranking Steve Buscemi) they wind up doing it anyways. Sometimes it is even harder to speak up against close friends than a stranger, because there is a fear of lsoing that person. Throughout the film you see Enid dealing with her own issues of self confidence, pushing a boy or two away from Rebecca and constantly being cynical. I liked her cynical attitude but I know on a personal bases that is a defense mechanism, cut someone else down before people cut you down.

Reoccuring strain on a close duo friendhsip is the entrance of new comer, especially a man. As Rebecca wants Enid to get a job, find a place to live and let them move on with their lives Enid is hesitant and starts focusing her life and attention not on Rebecca but on an older gentleman Seymour.He is an old soul, much like her, and the two become close, leaving Rebecca alone in her attempts to find a place to live. Like most friendships the truth is not easy to share and Enid's truth is that she needs a change and her own identity. (Thora Birch also plays this character in American Beauty as the not so typically pretty friend who wants someone to connect with). On a positive note Enid does not change the way she dresses or undergo a radical makeover to get Seymours attention (even though the fatc that she is 18 might have been her allure more than her mind at first) she continues to be off beat and in that regard the movie does indirectly show that being yourself is the best solution. That you don't have to change yourself completely to find that connection. More movies should promote people with their own identities finding someone rather than it always showing girls "find his interests, make them your own"

Frienships are beautiful, but one that does not allow the individuals to evolve is damaging. There will be those true friends who know you and want you to grow and there are those, like in Ghost World, that wish for things to stay the same and breed of one another's insecurity and further seperate themselves from other people.
The most difficult thing is realizing you are in a toxic friendship, especially because the friends you surround yourself with while your in it are your world, there is no 3rd party. It is easy to find like-minded people, but at the same time having diversity in ideas and opinions is what helps people grow, much like in feminism. Groups that were previously marginalized expressing their ideas and injustices is what makes feminism move foward and be more inclusive.

Now and Then + Waffles = Fun

Michelle, Jaime and I watched Now and Then this morning (and ate a lot of waffles and doughnut holes, which were delicious by the way) and I realized something; I love being a girl. The movie is a little frivolous, but so is eating waffles and doughnut holes with girlfriends on a Sunday morning. And I know, I know, I have mentioned the waffles four times already; but I love food…and friends. In YWLP, we always have food, because we know that food helps bond people together, and helps us to feel like family. Nina, the head facilitator, says, “What do families do? They eat together. YWLP is like a family, so therefore, we must eat.” And although it’s a little bit of justification to eat cookies and brownies, it is also very valid. I think that movies function in the same way. It is easier to start friendships and relationships with the question, “Want to come over and watch a movie?,” than it is with, “Want to come over and risk awkward silences?” Movies offer themselves as a catalyst for bonding. So the fact that Now and Then is no Academy Award Best Picture is not as important as the impact the movie has; the three of us were ooh-ing and gasping our way through it. After it was over, Michelle commented that she likes how the movie remains centered around the girls, and not the girl-boy relationships, as in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, for example. Jaime and I both agreed with this, and I think that perhaps the popularity of this movie is based on the fact that if you don’t have a boyfriend, the movie doesn’t constantly remind you of that. Single or not, this movie focuses on loving who you are, and the importance of self-acceptance in relationships with others. This movie reminds me of being an adolescent, and the adventurous dreamy summers which accompanied that time in my life. Crazy Pete, the character in the film who originally scares the girls, but later saves them (both physically and metaphorically) gives this piece of advice to the character of Samantha: “Things will happen in your life that you can't stop... But that's no reason to shut out the world... There's a purpose for the good and for the bad.” This is such a positive message, and very hopeful. I have to say, that although I could have watched Kids alone, and left it feeling defeated and depressed, I am so glad that I indulged in this movie, and spent time with friends. I left the movie feeling happy, which sometimes is harder to achieve than it may seem. And although I wasn’t challenged, and my eyes weren’t opened to a depressing new world, I laughed and remembered for the first time in a while how much I loved, and still love, being a girl!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Virgin Suicides

So much of a girl’s life revolves around, and is dictated by gossip…which is a funny thing, considering that gossip depends on trusting your innately shaky source. The way that one will react to another person can easily be changed because of gossip, and can even make one’s own memories fuzzy because of the strong influence of what is supposed to be believed. And it’s not just a girl thing. Men and boys do it. I do it. Every single adult I know does it. Huuptickers probably do it too. It’s like this weirdly all encompassing vacuum that can spread to any aspect of your life, whether it be the color of your fashion top or if your grandma’s sick again.

But gossip is what makes The Virgin Suicides such an intriguing film because the scope of the main characters (The Lisbon daughters), is solely portrayed through the direct experiences, memories and of course spread of word from a group of boys who attempt to demystify their tragic deaths. A clear example of this is at the beginning of the film, when the boys recall talking to a real slick kid in their neighborhood about the first death in the Lisbon family.

Paul Baldino claimed to have

found Cecilia on her first attempt.

Hey, I was the one who found her.

I was in the storm sewer under my house.

There's all these tunnels.

You could get into anyone's house.

When Paul said this, we believed him...

..because he was the son of Sammy "the Shark" Baldino,...”.

Sorry if it's unclear as to whose saying what. The version of this script sucked.

Here, Sophia is already warning us that we will parallel her characters’ struggle in finding out the actual truth about each Lisbon girl’s life and death. And this type of gossip had spread like the disease the elm trees had in the neighborhood…every single house was terminally affected.

(The boys recalling each house talking about the deaths).

“Everyone had an opinion
as to why Cecilia had tried to kill herself.
 (One woman):That girl didn't want to die.
She just wanted out of that house.
 (Another woman): She wanted out
of that decorating scheme.”

Despite every conversation being dominated by the thought of the Lisbon girls, the boys speak of not understanding them throughout the film. Their confusion and interest in the daughters led them to think of them almost as something separate from girls, almost as if they were a different species-despite the fact that I’m sure sexual interest played a large role in it. Their experiences with the girls, such as the awkward party after the youngest daughter’s attempted suicide, run-ins at school and dances and other fleeting moments only intensified their desire to decrypt their lives. While collecting hard core evidence of who the girls may be, such as Cecilia’s diary (youngest sister), hand-made invitations and thrown away family albums still show all of these young girls as the subjects without a voice. They are the classic case of victims of gossip: observers knowing everything when in fact they know nothing at all.

Although the film’s structure of the girls through other people is a pretty big statement that Coppola is trying to make (and to enhance their sense of mystery), this film touches upon SO many other topics: interactions with the opposite sex, family structure, expression through sexuality and religion…the list goes on. I highly recommend this film to everyone.

Here’s the trailer:

It's code

KIDS made me contemplate all of the verbal and physical 'code' that we take as consensus. In the first scene the girl asks 'do you care about me?', the guy says yes, and that serves as code for 'it's cool to fuck now.'
I always pay attention to who*m I'm sympathizing with in a movie because i know that our life experiences shape our experience of a film. I have a hunch that a lot of boy and man-identifying folks are able to watch KIDS and sympathize with the boys and men in the film. For me, sympathizing with a character is not only rooting for that character, but reacting emotionally and mentally with the character to what's going on the situation. When the kids go swimming, I felt like I knew exactly what the girls were going through when they take off their clothes. Eighth grade graduation pool party flashback. Flattered but vulnerable, hot but weak.
When the girls were sitting around talking about sex, i felt like i could be there in the room and it would be normal life, but when the guys were hanging out it was totally foreign--i felt like i was watching from a thousand miles away.
It scares me that the sexual violence against women in the film is presented but not analyzed. I think that most people will walk away from the film saying 'that's messed up' about the violence in the film and the way women are treated. But I think it's also totally possible to walk away without internalizing that the rape at the end is rape. That it is violent, a crime.
How do we make art that both 'reflects reality' and challenges it? I think it's interesting when people talk about 'the job' of art and argue that art doesn't need to have a goal of changing society, that good art simply reflects or imagines or is whatever the artist wants it to be.
I think that artists have to take seriously that what we produce does affect and change society whether we want it to or not. Especially when Hollywood, publishers, sales, and profits are involved in art, we have to scrutinize our work hard. I'm not suggesting that artists have a duty to preach or to compromise their art for social good. I'm saying that we've got to explore the impact our art has on people. And that i want the art that i personally choose to create to challenge people, to take them places where they explore what's going on with the character they don't usually sympathize with. I'm scared of people leaving the theater saying 'that guy was a scumbag, but he had game.' Or 'that guy was a piece of shit' but not trying to figure out how he got there. Or saying 'that bitch should have used a condom' but never wonder why she found herself in a room having coerced sex in the first place.
I'm scared of people seeing a movie and letting it become part of their experience, but never letting it snag what they're doing that night with questions of what the characters are doing and how they got there........Movie and a pizza, watch a movie and chill.

Identities and Toxic Friendships

Watching the clip of Ghost World in class, I was confronted with all the mixed feelings about toxic friendships that I’ve had, but not taken much time to flesh out. So I decided to watch it again. Ghost World was one of my favorite movies in high school, and I still think it’s great, but, for me, it’s inextricably tangled with thoughts of my own toxic friendship.


The film directly addresses issues of identity formation and the influence and importance of a friend’s acceptance in close relationships between girls. The scene that first caught my attention was the after-prom party. Todd asks Becky where she plans to go to college, and Enid answers that they have “other plans.” She steers Becky away before she is given a chance to respond, redirecting her attention to something that they can bond over. Enid is repeatedly inconsiderate toward Rebecca, ignoring her feelings and wishes. Becky is committed to living out their dream of having an apartment together, while Enid is more interested in hassling Josh and getting to know Seymour.

The divide between Enid and Rebecca presents itself early on in the film, when Enid’s mocking interest in Seymour extends into a sort of friendship and Becky pursues a job and “normal” life. They drift further apart as Enid’s apparent confusion over her future and her desires grow. Enid’s individual actions aren’t so immensely hurtful, but what her actions imply and her dismissive attitude toward Becky, in addition to their differing ambitions, that hastens their drift apart. Enid is fun and interesting, but she’s manipulative. It seems like she’s used to Becky following her lead, and is thrown off when she decides to do what she wants regardless of Enid’s cooperation.

Often girls who are more passive become and stay friends with girls who are more assertive and vocal, admiring and emulating their seeming power. The downside of these friendships, in my experience, is that the more assertive girl is often also coercive and demanding. I don’t know how to really analyze these friendships – to get at why each girl acts as she does. But the friendship in Ghost World, while it starts off fun, quickly deteriorates into a hurtful relationship – one I wish I weren’t so familiar with.

A favorite Ghost World quote (from memory so probably not exact):

“You’ll see, you get sick of all the creeps, losers, and weirdos.”
“But those are our people.”

- Ali

GIRLS

After debating for a long while about what movie to watch, both Brittany and I found that "The Virgin Suicides" worked best for this assignment; working towards the understanding of girls, sexuality and self discovery.
The movie discussed girls as a nearly separate entity, narrated by young boys who were attempting to describe the girls' elusiveness several times throughout. The boys constantly referred back to wanting to "put together the pieces" and figure out more about their secret lives. In the mean time, the girls were drawing and reading, attending school, bored in class, learning more about their natural desires. There was really nothing elusive about them at all. This didn't stop their search; somehow collecting diaries, lipsticks, letters and anything more that would allow them to understand, the boys closely observed these distant fixtures who only lived across the street.
The girls were trapped by a conservative, religious household which demanded that they remain reserved. This caused them to question the outside world and touch with their minds what they could never touch in reality. The girls had rock records which let them imagine a life of action, provocativeness and sexuality. They stared through magazines in order to travel. Lux wrote the names of her most recent crush on her underwear. The boys eventually described this lifestyle as "the outrageousness of a human being thinking only of herself". This seems almost a mockery because the girls could do nothing more than imagine themselves beyond their immediate surroundings and only functioned in fantasy. They lived around a group of people who removed themselves from the intrinsic part of discovering the "self" and instead worried about the exterior appearance of the current state of things.
Although this film was clearly a critique of the bourgeoisie mentality(one that is portrayed in the film as empty and removed from the emotional aspect of the human being), it touched on the more detrimental effects this had on the socialization of girls.




I don't want kids like KIDS

This movie stressed me out, there was so much unconsensual sexual acts. If consensus WAS asked, the answer was no and the boy did whatever he wanted to anyway. The drugs being forced into the girls mouth at the club, the girl getting kissed in the pool when she said she didn't want to be kissed... This movie is so crazy because kids out there really are running around like this without guidance or positive role-models. Education, ESPECIALLY pertaining to sex and HIV/AIDS is so far lacking that these kids put themselves in very dangerous situations.

Even if the girl (like the one in the beginning) is living with her parents and in a "safe" family environment, the boy telling her that he cares about her and that she is beautiful is enough for her to "want to please him" by "letting him make her happy."

In middle school, there was definitely talk about giving a guy head, but the environment was no where near as hostile as this! The younger boys are pressured into drinking, smoking, and talking about sex by the older guys, and the girls get together to talk about how much they love to fuck but how awful their experience was with losing their virginity.

As a side comment- I HATE that it shows all the guys rubbing the girls' crotches through their pants. If ever someone does that to me im like NO STOP IT THAT FEELS SO STUPID. Freaking movies are so influential on everyone's life.

“Go away! And don't come back for five to seven days!”

I think My Girl is a great example of girls growing up and the struggles they face. Even though the film came out in 1991 and took place in the summer of 1972 it still seems relevant to young girls today.

Now yes I know it may not be as dramatic as other teen movies with drugs and sex but that’s why I can identify with it…
Vada freaked out with she began her period and did not know what it was. When I started my period I knew what it was but freaked out cause I was home alone with my brother with no pads and could not get in contact with my mom.
Vada watched Shelly as she was putting on make-up and even though she did not understand the point of wear make-up she still allowed Shelly to put some on her. Young girls do not need make-up (or any women in general) but still wear it because they think that’s the norm and they have to look that way.
Having a crush on a teacher…come-on who has not?

There were still some problems Vada had to deal with...
Dealing with the fact that her mother died while giving birth and Vada some times thinks she killed her.
Having other girls make fun of her because she always hangs out with Thomas J.
Trying to deal with her father dating and struggling for his attention.
Losing her best and only friend.
Wanting and then trying to run away cause she felt that she had no one.

Vada is also just awesome. I mean I do not know anyone who would not want to be like her. She did not care what others thought of her (her being best friends with a boy), she enjoyed the outdoors (which is mostly associated with young boys), when she wanted something, she went for it (the summer Poetry camp), and she overcame tragedy (death of her mother and best friend).

Oh and I do not know how anyone could watch this film without crying!! When Thomas J asks Vada if she’ll think of him if she does not marry her teacher gives me the chills. And do not even get me started on the funeral scene. I get emotional just thinking about it!

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants-real life experiences

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is such a great movie and it leaves you feeling good about being a girl. I really like how it portrays girls from different backgrounds, and girls with different interests who all manage to support each other. Bridget is really into sports, Lena enjoys art, Tibby does film projects and Carmen likes theater. Their friendship is also really healthy; I don’t feel like its one of those toxic friendships we discussed in class. The girls all have their own agendas so they represent themselves as individuals, but their individuality is accepted in the group. I think it's a really good message to send out to girls that watch the movie.
My favorite part of the movie is the idea of the traveling pants themselves. It reminds me of the "bathroom stall" where girls can have a world all their own. To me, it also seems like a dairy, but instead of young girls writing to themselves and being silenced to a book they learn to share their trials and tribulations with one another. The fact that they are never allowed to wash the pants sends a message about their actions. Although not all of their experiences may be happy or positive the girls don’t feel the need to erase them, they learn to deal with them. This really relates to girls in real life because they face similar trauma’s that don’t just disappear (like in fairy tales), such as death, boy troubles, and family issues.

Film Viewing: Juno

I watched the movie Juno for this weeks assignment. Girlhood was represented a little bit different in this film compared to other “girl” movies but was definitely still there. I thought Juno was an awesome 16 year old girl. She had such a strong personality and self-confidence about her that you do not see in most girls her age. She was not afraid to be herself, say what she was thinking or even dress however she wanted. I think a majority of girls her age would not have reacted the same way if they were in her situation. When she found out she was pregnant she did not show that much emotion about it. One part about it that seemed to be most true was Juno calling her friend to tell her about it. It seems like girls that age typically have that one friend they turn to for everything, and her friend stuck with her no matter what. She offered to make the call to the abortion clinic, and stood by her through the whole process including the doctor appointments.

I like how this movie showed girls in a different light than the typical good girl/ bad girl movie. She obviously was not the “perfect angel” that society thinks girls her age should be, however I would not place her in the bad girl category either. She did something that a lot of 16 year old girls do today, but she ended up pregnant. She wasn’t doing drugs, stealing or other things that we categorize as bad girl things.

This movie would be good for teenage girls to watch. It shows girls that there is so much involved with getting pregnant, especially at such a young age. She had to make several decisions by her self. I think it would show young girls the importance of smart choices and the importance of family. It relates to this class in many ways as well. So many girls get involved with the wrong people and make choices based on what other people say or do, but Juno was a strong-minded teenager. She knew she was not ready to have a child, but she could not have an abortion either. She made the decision and told her parents the truth. She also wasn’t concerned with what the other girls were doing, or saying, or wearing. When girls do watch this movie, I hope they see that it is good to be yourself and those that like you will like you for who you are.

Now and Then: Young Girls, Sexuality & Agency

I had watched the film Now and Then several times as a girl, but didn't remember a lot about it, so decided that viewing it again would be useful, especially analyzing it through a Girls Studies framework. One aspect of the film that stood out to me in my memory of it and then again upon my recent viewing of it was the character of Chrissy's exposure to and reactions to sexuality. She is a very sheltered girl who doesn't know much about her own body, boys' bodies or sexuality, partially as a result of the way in which her mom approaches these topics with her.

In the essay "Shifting Desires," Burns and Torre discuss how young girls are taught to fear sexuality as dangerous. They also discuss how girls' sexualities take a back seat to everything else in their lives as a result of the way their sexuality is addressed. Chrissy definitely doesn't have a developing sense of agency over her sexuality and is very uncomfortable with anything having to do with sex or bodies. When she was young, her mother explained sex to her through a metaphor involving gardens, which made little sense to Chrissy. I think it's Roberta who, in the narration, says that Chrissy is screwed up to this day as a result. Chrissy is completely misinformed about sex, even commenting that she's never french-kissed because she doesn't want to get pregnant.

I received abstinence-only education at my school. It was terrible. I remember an activity involving tearing pieces of a paper heart of, to symbolize giving yourself (and apparently diminishing yourself) to everyone that you have sex with. There was also an activity that involved people spitting in a cup to somehow address the whole "you sleep with everyone who your partner has slept with" thing and how you could get a trillion STDs. This kind of nonsense has long-lasting results for girls. Even as a feminist, with a sense of agency over my sexuality and a constant desire to learn more and educate myself, I still find that I just tend to know less factual information than women who had comprehensive sex-ed, such as specific info about STIs. Perhaps if, from a young age, we taught girls all of this information that they need to know to protect themselves they would be more likely, as an adult, to, you know, know things. It makes me angry that girls don't receive access to such important knowledge and are frequently taught to repress their sexuality because it's "bad" and "dangerous."

Chrissy is so uncomfortable with her own body that she considers "breast" a curse word. She is a fictional character, but plenty of girls like her exist -- afraid of sexuality and bodies, thinking that they are "bad." I consider this far more dangerous than the supposed danger of an educated girl.

Friday, October 17, 2008

"Now and Then" not so interesting.

A very long time ago, I watched "Now and Then". Although, I could not remember anything about the movie, I just knew that I once loved it. When my husband and I went to check it out from Blockbuster, the woman behind the counter rushed over to grab it for me. She said, “I have watched this movie so many times, I knew exactly where it was.” The woman next to her nodded in agreement. "Now and Then" it is, I said to myself.

Although I once loved this movie as a girl, I quickly grew bored of it this time around. I never really tried to fit in, and I always found the things boys did so much more interesting. I think many times when women watch movies about other girls or women, they want to be able to identify with a character. I could not do this with "Now and Then", so maybe that is why I did not enjoy it. Although I found the close relationship the girls had with one another wonderful, I could not relate to that either. I had maybe a couple girl friends in elementary and middle school, but now I do not have any close girl friends, other than family. I never sat around in a circle discussing with other girls what boy I liked, what I thought of my parents, or what I wanted to be when I grew up. After giving it a lot of thought, I imagine the only reason I liked this movie as a girl, was because I wanted to do the fun things the boys did in the movie. I wanted to play in the lake, throw balloons filled with jello at people, and have free time to do whatever I pleased.

Even though I had a hard time paying attention to the movie, one thing stood out to me. I could not believe that although the girls spent every minute with each other, and really valued their relationships, they still went their separate ways. The girls did not even stay in close touch with one another. I remembered a portion of out reading that sums up perfectly what happened to them. “Although individualization has been formerly reserved for male adulthood, young women’s struggle toward individuality has demonstrated itself in various ways: postponing and/or rejecting marriage and having children, leading single lives in unprecedented numbers, and heavy investments in education and professional careers, as well as increasing involvement in public spheres such as politics and the media” (Young Femininity, 111).

then and now

“Now and Then” hop scotches back and forth from the “now” (early nineties) to the “then” (nostalgic summer of 1970) between the lives of four girls whose bonds represent and inspire a girlhood that spans not only time but their own individual metamorphosis.  The film follows the coming of age of these 12 year old girls who do a lot of growing up during the summer of 1970 as they set out to discover independence within themselves and end up finding independence from each other.  I fondly remember getting together with my best girl friends when I was in middle school to watch this film nearly religiously.  We would all align ourselves with the character whose traits we felt we most embodied and pretended to live that summer, to connect as they connected. Personally, I was always torn between being more like Sam, the offbeat analytic sci-fi writer and Roberta, the take-no-shit tomboy with scrapes on her knees.  Voyeuristic?  Most definitely.  Nevertheless, it was uplifting to re-watch this film and fall in love again with all of the zany, witty and self-defining coming of age experiences.

Upon re-watching this film, the most prominent theme appeared to be the assertion of girlhood in different ways by each of the characters.  Functioning within the framework of their sexuality, the scene in the Soda Shop when Teeny is completing a telling Cosmo magazine quiz, reflects the different ways these women defined themselves.   Discussing foreplay, Teeny questions what each girl’s “ideal” romantic situation would entail:

(from screenplay)

Teeny

Your idea of foreplay is "A" a candle lit dinner and moonlit walk on the beach? "B" making out on a bearskin rug at a local mountain cabin? "C" watching a sexy movie and or "D" all of the above. 

Teeny jots down their answers as they speak up: 

Samantha

B

Roberta

E... none of the above. 

Teeny

That's not a possible answer.

Roberta (sighs)

Then B....I guess.

Chrissy (while counting)

Definitely A. 

The film revolves around similar situations where the girls acknowledge that though they are growing up together, they are growing in different directions.  Insisting on identifying with their power their girlhood grants them, each of the characters draws on this power to claim individuality in their construction of personal identity.  There are multiple types of “girlhoods” that are recognized and attained by the closing of the film by Chrissy, Roberta, Sam, and Teeny.   For example, when Roberta is playing softball with “the boys,” she is told by a bully to “go home and play with her dolls.”  This comment falls under the assumption that all girls are “girly girls.”  Striking that misconception, Chrissy states that “the only doll Roberta’s got is a G.I. Joe!” Contradicting the narrowed idea that girls are “girly” and only capable of being obsessed with material things, driven by consumerism, or depressed “Ophelias” that can’t seem to make ends meet themselves, “Now & Then” allows a refreshing option for young women on the verge of womanhood: the option to explore themselves with the support of sisterhood. 

Even though the last thing the girls in the film intentionally desired was to be different from their friends, in their blossoming into womanhood these young women changed.  Transforming into their own independent women, the girls give each other strength, a message so often ignored in society, specifically the media.  Instead of turning on each other or gossiping in hardship, these girls give each other foundation in the horizon of challenge and are there for one another, an empowering example of the strength of female relationships.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Kids need condoms!

The other night I watched the movie Kids with my boyfriend. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting and I was so shocked it made me kind of sick. It’s safe to say we were not interested in touching each other after watching, it really degraded sex for me. The way the main character talked about fucking girls disgusted me. It’s hard to believe guys really talk about sex and women like that. It seemed obvious to me that those girls were forced into sex and were not enjoying it yet he told his friend how they were so into it. My boyfriend really had a hard time thinking this movie was close to reality, so I’m glad he doesn’t know any guys like this, but I had to explain to him the realities of how some men treat women. The ending was really sad, even though I knew he had HIV I was shocked for the girl who got tested and found out after one time having sex she had contracted the HIV virus. Watching her cry about how to tell her mom and her little brother was hard, then when she went to go find the guy I thought she would kill him but she never ended up saying anything even though she caught him mid act with another virgin in bed. Then when she was getting raped I couldn’t help but feel glad the guy was getting what he deserved.

It comes down to the fact that a lot of people do not use condoms. I learned 25% of couples use a condom in my women’s health issues course a few weeks ago and I was really shocked. It’s an easy protection I’ve always used and I don’t know any friends that don’t. Even on birth control I still think it’s a good idea to use condoms just for the pregnancy factor, but for STDs it’s so important. Especially if I was having sex with people I barely knew and not in a serious relationship I would be using condoms, and if they guy doesn’t want to then he doesn’t really want to have sex.

I’m kind of at a loss on how to get more people to use condoms, if price is the issue you can’t get them free at many clinics if you want to. Maybe people are just lazy which is really hard to change. I don’t get how not wearing one can be more important than contracting diseases and getting pregnant. It really is a sexual health epidemic.

When the heck did wearing a SIZE 0 make someone "full-figured"?

This story was on the front page of yahoo.com today. How unbelievable and wrong! Geez, if a size 0 is big, what does that make me? I can't even imagine what little girls reading this article will think. How very sad....


When Eva Longoria Parker put on a few pounds over the summer for her role as Gabrielle on "Desperate Housewives," everyone jumped to the conclusion that the actress was pregnant. In the November issue of Allure, Eva sets the record straight about her recent weight gain, as well as the rumors surrounding her marriage to NBA star Tony Parker. [ See Pics From Eva's Allure Photo Shoot ]

On her fuller figure:"I stopped working out and gained about seven pounds over the summer, which is a lot for a small person. Every magazine is tearing me apart ... I never went up a size. I just got rounder. I'm still a size 0. On relationship rumors:"I don't let those magazines and articles define who I am. I know I'm not pregnant. I know Tony and I aren't breaking up. I know we're not cheating."

http://omg.yahoo.com/news/eva-longoria-parker-i-just-got-rounder/14107?nc

Friday, October 10, 2008

School and Friendships

So I'm posting a blog for Wednesday nights class because I missed it due to a horribly sick week, wash your hands and use plenty of hand sanitizer ladies!!!

High school prom was one of the things I thought about when going to high school, I thought it was magical and you would have the perfect date and find the perfect dress and if you were lucky be prom queen! Turns out, I didn’t even go to prom, by the time I got to my senior year I thought it was so cliché and since we had homecoming every year which I thought was pretty bring, it didn’t seem very new to me. I feel like a lot of my friends felt the same way even though some of them went. I worried that I would regret this decision, but I never did. I never went to prom and I turned out fine. It seems so outrageous to me the amount of money people spend to go to prom. I remember girls spending hundreds of dollars on dresses, wearing things I thought were too mature for high school girls to be wearing. One of the times I went to homecoming I got my dress for 19.99$ and I still own the dress. The time I spend over a hundred, I didn’t really even like and never kept. I never got my makeup or hair professionally done but I remember girls going to the mall for makeup appointments and hair appointments, it almost seemed like they were preparing for a wedding. I really think prom is a social peer pressure, to go and look as good as you can, even if you do decide to wear a tux you still pick a extravagant one and take the time to put on a lot of makeup and do your hair. Why is it that this is so important? I really think prom just puts girls up to be let down. There can be dress disasters and date disasters, and that can ruin such a socially important day. Also there’s the thoughts of how many girls end up getting pregnant or STD’s on prom night because of social pressure to have sex with your date. Prom should really be changed into something more positive.
Girls friendships are unique and a much needed part of girlhood. Its interesting to see the close relationship girls form and also how vicious they are when it ends. I think it can be a really positive aspect of girls lives, and I think it has something to do with the increased amount of singleness in society. When I watch shows like sex in the city I can’t help but wonder if girl friends can replace boyfriends. I see a lot of similarities in girlhood between girls friends and boyfriends minus the physical relationship. The “ethical rules” of female friendships do seem to become very important in the relationships, as well as other factors. Perhaps when starting romantic relationships with men, many women are disappointed that these things don’t exist in male to female relationships.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

13 in CA

I had to blog about yesterday's screening in class of Thirteen.  I remember seeing the cover for this film at Blockbuster, and renting it in secret.  I had never before seen a film that captured the raw and rivetting growing up of girls.  Being exposed to Now & Then, I thought it was all about sisterhood and seances.  While it may be about those elements as well, the more twisted, realistic, and complex situations dealt with by the coming of age girls in this film was far more eye-opening.

Director Catherine Hardwicke’s delivery of Nikki Reed’s rigid and all too real adjustment to her teenage years exposes sensitive subject matter in a Neo-Realistic fashion.  Written pre-dominantly by Reed, she also stars in the film as the girl who was responsible for spiraling her own (real) life out of control, school “hottie”: Evie Zamora.  The autobiographical documentary creates an edgy perspective of what it meant to be thirteen years old in California in the late 90’s.  It follows what was Reed’s real life nightmare, as she transforms from “Mommy’s gal” to middle school “skank” in her jarring thrust into dysfunctional adolescence, fueled by the manipulative “Zamora.”

            For all of you film gurus, neo-realism is loosely defined as stressing loose episodic plots, unextraordinary events and characters, natural lighting, actual location settings, nonprofessional actors, a preoccupation with poverty and social problems, and an emphasis on humanistic and democratic ideas. Elements of neo-realism structure this debut film of Reed’s, and appeals to the audience's consciousness.  It provides a social commentary on girls today and how they are catapulted into freakishly real scenarios that revolve around careless drug use and promiscuous sex at young ages.

            The very first line, spoken by “Tracy” (Evan Rachel Wood’s character portrayal of her opposing lead, Nikki Reed) is: “Hit me. I'm serious; I can't feel anything, hit me! Again, do it harder! I can't feel anything, this is awesome!” Opening with a harsh drug abuse and physical fighting scene, the film sets up the characters as reckless and void of any feeling, both literally, as a result of the whipped cream can they’re huffing, and metaphorically as it represents the emotional lack of substance the girls have acquired.  Executing the neo-realistic filming and directing style, Hardwicke enhances the feeling of the “high” with blurred shots and shaky subjective angles.  The entire film uses a hand held camera, which compliments the reality and confusion of its content. This in particular is useful as it perfectly illuminates the effect of the drug (huffing the whipping cream can) on the girls and paints a real picture for the audience of the seriousness of the situation for the girls who obviously look to be around 13.

            In its entirety, the film succeeds in its attempt to suspend reality and expose the audience to a harsh lifestyle of a young, once “innocent,” girl.  Though at times seemingly redundant, this film, clearly written by a young adolescent, conveys its dominating theme—that no matter what, love is healing.  Holly Hunter, who plays the mother, manages to miss all of the blaringly obvious signs that her daughter is out of control, and acts more like a teenager herself than her daughter.  Reed captures this relevant mother-daughter relationship and it hits home with anyone who has had their share of family dysfunction. 

            The film concludes with the mother, a person that Tracy has estranged herself from almost to the point of no return, providing that maternal safety net that catches Tracy as she hits rock bottom.  This individual scene, as she has a breakdown on the kitchen floor, occurs as a result of Tracy finally seeing the true light shed on her seemingly best friend Evie.  She is able to grasp that the girl she had morphed into was a direct result of the selfish desires of Evie, which were oblivious to the audience members and everyone else in the film except for the person it mattered to—Tracy.  Evie merely wanted to have her own real life Barbie doll that would idolize her and carry out her brain washed ideas.  Literally crumbling before the camera, Wood delivers a stunningly raw performance that shreds your every emotion as you empathize with her struggle to “fit in the cool crowd” and growing up in general. The camera captures Hunter and Wood and doesn’t cut for an entire two minutes as the mother and daughter in the movie embrace and sob uncontrollably, breaking down and realizing that it’s going to be fine all at the same time, the resolution of the film.  The lack of cutting the film to close up on the actors influences the reality of the moment as we are able to absorb these actors as a whole, their body language speaking volumes.  A realistic look at girlhood in America, Thirteen discloses some of the challenges and hardships society ignores our young girls face.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Campus Trash

Some of this is directly related to girls and our course material and some of it really isn't, but I knew that this was something that you all would care about and be as outraged over as me. I apologize if it seems like I'm spamming the blog. I think you all have amazing feminist analysis and this is relevant to our campus, so I thought of you all!

So, I don't know how many of you have seen the magazine Campus Talk all around campus. I never really looked too closely at it until recently. I honestly probably thought it was the same magazine as Axis or whatever -- sexy blond women on the cover, coverage of terrible bands...whatever. But I walked past the stands recently and saw the following headline:

TIGHTEN THE LEASH! How 2 Train Your Girlfriend

Umm? So I just walked past, not wanting to even bother looking closer. I was sure that the editor/writer thought they were brilliantly funny and clever and it wasn't the first time I'd seen an offensive headline.

Well, turns out my friends had the same horrified reaction when they saw it and actually picked up a copy to read. It's so much worse than I even thought! The article is accompanied by a close-up picture of a woman's face with a man's hand covering her mouth. Her eyes look terrified. The image was probably supposed to be clever because "haha! he's getting her to stop talking!", but evokes immediate thoughts of rape for every single woman I've shown the picture to. She looks like she is being attacked.

The article itself gives all kinds of ways to improve your girlfriend, with the logic that she's always trying to change you so why can't you try to change her? It gives tips such as, if your girlfriend won't stop complaining (read: talking about anything to you) you should get one of your guy friends to INSULT HER every time she speaks. Then, and I quote, "A few blunt remarks later, she'll begin to learn what guys actually care about hearing from women -- nothing! If your friend's really effective, she may just stop speaking altogether. Ah, perfection." Apparently Mr. Writer wants a blow-up doll for a girlfriend...?

Throughout the magazine, "Totally useless fact"s are listed. You know, stuff about pens, giraffes, Shakespeare... oh! and that "Rape is reported every six minutes in the U.S." You're right, Campus Talk. That is indeed a TOTALLY USELESS FACT, just like how a dime has 118 ridges around the edge.

After this enlightening reading session, I decided to check and see if they had a website. Lo and behold, they do! And there are other fine articles to read! This one jumped out at me right away:

Is Is Better To Be A Good Girl In College...Or A Bad One?

Oh, here we go, right? I know that we've read a lot about binaries between supposed "good girls" and "bad girls." This falls right into that trap. The author is a woman, which I don't know if that makes me feel better or worse about it. She throws out every tired cliche about how there are slutty party girls and then there are girls who get their Mrs. Degree (yes, she seriously fucking says Mrs. Degree), settling down with a nice, rich engineer. The entire article is ridiculous, hating on both supposed types of women, really. So you're screwed either way, good girl or bad girl.

The next article that I read was entitled:

How To Steal Your Best Friend's Girl

This one's pretty great too, but I'll just let the picture speak for itself:

Yeahhhhh, bro.

Looking through other articles, the whole deal of the magazine seems to be alternating between "FOOTBALLJAGERBITCHESI'MINCOLLEGEYEAHHHH" and "I like mascara and ice cream and they let me write an article! Tee hee!" Lots of "jokes" are sprinkled throughout the really stereotypical mix, but none of them are funny because either...they're just really dumb and not all that funny or they're really offensive. The really offensive bit stands out to me and I think this magazine is a giant piece of trash. It's not even a matter of just not liking it, because there are plenty of publications that I just don't like that I just don't read. It's a matter of that I am one of many women (they've told me) who feel threatened by the presence of this magazine on their campus -- the culture of violence against women that it perpetuates and normalizes amongst other issues. The latter two articles are bad enough, but perpetuating rape culture is unacceptable to say the very least. Beyond this, it's just more ideas of what girls and women should be (air-brushed, silent and...okay, that's about it). These gender constructions are not healthy for girls and women, not healthy for boys and men, not healthy for anyone.

It seems to be coming right out of Florida, judging from all of the local ads, but I'm going to try to find out so that I and others can do something about it. Be proud of the fine literature on your campus, everyone. It's free!

You're going to .... frag me?

about-face.org is a GREAT site, I love seeing criticism of media and mainstream advertising because it's so important for girls to see these images and say "oh, hell no." Kathyrn and I can definitely use this as a resource for our zine-making workshop :) :) (two smileys = more excited, as opposed to only one)

"computer gaming as a whole seems to be a male-dominated domain" and I agree. Here's a popular online gaming site for girls- missbimbo.com!! "This site, which many pre-teen girls and older girls have visited, is a cluster of every insecurity that any girl may endure or already have. Well, we played this game so you don't have to: You're first given an ideal height and weight to maintain. You are given the option to achieve your 'goals.' My bimbo's goal just so happened to be to change her 'drab' hairstyle and become a "popular" blonde with pigtails! If I achieve these 'goals,' I will soon gain VIP access to new products, get a hot boyfriend, and snag a cool new job. And with my bimbo dollars (purchased with real money through PayPal), I can purchase a face-lift for 9,000 bimbo dollars or breast implants for 11,500. You can even give your bimbo an eating disorder to accomplish her 'goals.' As of this writing, there are 570,000 'registered bimbos.'"

I worked at Hard Knocks last year, www.hardknocksorlando.com, and "female gamers" are a commodity to the company. They promote Girl Gamer night, and use this angle to attract more male customers. Also, the prevailing ratio of men to women employees fell under the category of male management and lower-tiered female "regulators."

"Boy" games are hard to initially maneuver. In first person shooters, you have to move backwards and forwards with the arrow key, look around up down and side-to-side with the mouse, click to shoot and hit other keys to buy weapons, pick up/drop off bombs, and communicate. Have you seen cooking mama?? You frantically shape the controller up and down to chop.

I thought this article displayed a great idea (http://vocaro.com/trevor/peacecorps/girlsclub/index.html). In high school I took a networking class and I was one of two girls, out of close to 40 people, and we had the class at different hours. You don't know how many times I heard "Ashley I'm gonna FRAG YOU!" before 10:30 am.

Good thing I could use my internet-searching skillz and quickly define "frag" before I resorted to punching some faces in.

Cybergrrrls: Exploring The Next Frontier

I can clearly remember the first time I stumbled across my now 14-year-old sister’s homepage. Being the over-protective sister that I am, I was at first upset that she had been posting information over the Internet (and that she had her own computer in her room way before I was allowed to have one!), but after looking over her page, I was absolutely in awe of her work. Unknown to the rest of her family, she had taught herself Photoshop, and was creating and posting digital images and collages of her favorite bands, TV shows, and actors. Her knowledge of digital media and graphic design was nothing short of outstanding, especially to someone like me who has absolutely no idea how to work outside of Microsoft Paint. She had enabled a guestbook, much like the “serial community” discussed in “All About the Girl,” where people were leaving her comments of praise, as well as suggestions and tips on how to improve on her next designs (Reid-Walsh, Mitchell 179). As this was my first real introduction to girls’ use of the Internet, I was pleasantly surprised to read about cybergrrrls in a positive light, rather than with the usual warnings accompanied whenever the subject is approached.

Reid-Walsh and Mitchell write in “All About the Girl” that, “girls’ activities and actions were restricted more to the private sphere, while boys were allowed to roam more freely in the public space of the street;” this was especially true for my sister and I growing up. Watching the tomboy video in class last week made me wish that I had been given the freedom to explore when I was younger, to get my feet dirty and not be afraid of bruising. Because my sister, along with many other young girls, are also not permitted much permission to wander far from home, the Internet truly does become a place of safe exploration and discovery. Not only can girls hone their digital skills through “Lego creativity,” but they can also learn about the world around them (Reid-Walsh, Mitchell 177). Attending Catholic school from pre-school-8th grade, the Internet was my own personal education growing up, and websites such as http://www.scarleteen.com/, http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/, and http://community.livejournal.com/vaginapagina/ were quite literally my only forms of safe-sex education. These sites, especially the LiveJournal blog, help create a community of girls who can share advice, similar stories, and inspiration with one another. After talking with my sister about her homepage, I discovered that, as described in the text, she was able to form friendships with many of the people she met online. Although this can obviously lead into dangerous territory, she was very cautious in sharing only information about her interests, and nothing personal that would let anyone know her real name, her age, or where she lived. Through these shared interests in boy bands, shows, books, and music, she was able to create a safe space for herself in which she was not judged on her looks, or required to live up to any standards. Because my sister was creating media herself, she was not limited to showing her support of her favorite pop culture through consumerism and countless dollars. She was able to find her voice, her creativity, and her passion for digital media, which she now hopes to pursue in college.

Although these are obviously great advantages of Internet use, it must be noted that these benefits can only be utilized by girls who have the privilege of Internet access. For those who do not have access to a computer, modem, or the knowledge of how to use this technology, the ability to create a virtual room of one’s own is lost. It is thus important for feminists to address these issues, and work towards the goal of making computers very accessible to the public. Public libraries often offer computer usage and seminars free of charge, which is an excellent step in the right direction. By teaching girls to create, innovate, and connect with others, the feminist movement can reach out to a much larger audience and form a tightly knit group of media-savvy, educated, and informed women world-wide.

A room of one's own = agency

The article we read this week in All About the Girl titled “Girls’ Web Sites: A Virtual ‘Room of One’s Own’?” brought up many good reasons behind girls creating their own web pages. I definitely agree that for girls having a web page is a way to explore her own independence, authority, and agency. This virtual space is a place where she is in charge, not her parents, teacher, or peers. It is a way for her to cultivate and create her own creativity and it is used as an outlet for any passions or emotions she otherwise may not be allowed to express. It is a way for girls to communicate and socialize outside of school. This is especially important if the girl does not have many people at school, home, or other out of school activities to be friendly with. This may be relevant to children who are home schooled or have social anxiety disorders. These children who do not socialize much outside of a virtual space have a place where they can make friends and communicate about their hobbies and interests.

Since this article was written, myspace and Facebook are more popular ways for girls to have a page online, as opposed to a simple site you can access with a URL. I think that this can help with the safety issue involved with a virtual page. Because myspace and Facebook can be set on private settings, I think it makes these “rooms” become safer. Instead of letting any old viewer into one’s “room”, they can be selective about who they let in. However, this can potentially become more dangerous because girls may feel they can put much more personal or private information on the internet about themselves than they would if they knew the page could be accessed by any old person.

Despite the dangers of myspace and Facebook that have been in the media, I think that having a “room of one’s own” is a great way for girls to achieve agency over their own lives. At an age where most decisions are made for you by your parents and teachers and creative juices are sometimes stifled, I think having this type of space is extremely productive. I think that parents should be the ones responsible for the safety involved with girls having their own virtual spaces, though.

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I could definitely relate to this week's readings because the internet and technology have long been something that I enjoy. I remember how excited I was to make my first website. However, my experience was a little different. I didn't make it so that I could have my own "room"; it wasn't sparkly or pink or anything. The sole purpose of my site was to keep my family updated and connected with each other. That, in a nutshell, is what I like most about the internet - you can connect with people, even those you've never met. That's something that I think is really useful in third wave feminism, especially because we're fighting for sisterhood on a global level.

What I found most interesting in the readings was being able to see how different cultures utilize technology.
For example, we have "Girls in Ghana Get Computerized" which is super awesome. However, we also have missbimbo.com (which is featured on about-face.org which was mentioned on the Global Media Journal. Here's something from missbimbo's website:

Miss Bimbo is an online virtual reality social networking game (or Sneg as we have aptly named it). It is a place where bimbos from around the world can join one another and be proud and happy of bimboland. In bimboland users can enjoy a safe fun environment in which to bring up and nurture their beloved bimbos. Users can interact, soicialise and educate one another on a wealth of female, fashion and bimbo related topics. Miss Bimbo is an educational tool, a social meeting place and a hot pot of bimboism. It is free to enjoy bimboland.


It almost sounds satirical, doesn't it? Too bad it's not. So just like almost everything else in the developed world, we abuse our privilege - which is why I LOVE jam girl culture. I find it so refreshing. I think my favorite example of it is when

Bruin and a friend found a print version of the advertisement, scanned it, subvertised (manipulated it) and, with help from friends and family, plastered posters onto temporary structures around San Francisco. In true Culture Jammer fashion, Bruin played on Moss' already thin body by exaggerating her skeletal features through enhancing shading and elongating the image to emphasize the model's already apparent vulnerability.


Even though other instances of jam girl are cool, I especially like this case because she used her computer skills to get her point across. Instead of using photoshop to alter her own photos (as so many girls do), she used her ability to SUBVERTISE. Brilliant.

I googled Jam Girl but I couldn't find anything on the subject, which disappointed me. I'd like to participate in the culture myself, but I need inspiration! Or at least examples.