Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hotties You Can Trust With Your Bodies

Sooooo, has this stupid thing up on their website called The Top Seven Cutest Feminists. Of course the Spike dudes don't really get why it would be annoying to be judged on attractiveness and valued primarily for your looks. However, judging from the jerkoffs on their comment board its kinda like one small step for dude kind that they put up a piece like this. Apparently some guys do need to be introduced to the fact that not all feminists are bridge trolls. Anyhow, the list was entertaining and stuff but I got it in my head that a great next step would be a list of the hottest feminist men. Some of these guys would actually rather be called pro- feminists because in some circles that's more p.c. and shows that you aren't trying to intrude on the lady party you just want to be supportive. I tend to think of feminists as both men and women, partially cause I'm pretty sure my dad explained feminism to me when I was a kid and partially cause I just feel like the more people at the party the more fun it'll be.
So in no ranking order because I don't know -variety is the spice of life I guess - here are 10 of the hunkiest feminists dudes out there. And by the way this was an easy list to make I could go on and on.

Patrick Stewart- Best known for playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek and also doing some classy Shakespearean work, Patrick Stewart has done it all. Also he has been knighted by the Queen and looks good in a loincloth. Patrick has been known to wear a This Is What A Feminist Looks Like shirt and says that he owes it all to "my Mother who earned 3 pounds 10 shillings for working a forty hour week in a weaving shed." He has also worked with Amnesty International and spoken out against domestic violence which you can see in the video below.

Beastie Boys- These cute lil' trouble makers admitted they got carried away with stuff in the early days but they've since repented and will defend a woman's right to choose and also not to be oggled on the subway. Check out these lyrics from Song 4 The Man

What makes you feel
And why you gotta be
Like you got the right
To look her up and down
What makes this world
So sick and evil
I know you don't know

What makes you feel
Like you got miracle whip appeal
Who made you the judge and jury
Ain't you never heard of privacy
What makes this world
So sick and evil
You figure it out

Marquis de Condorcet - Yea, he's old but age ain't nothing but a number. The last great French philosopher was one of the first ever to call directly for women's political rights. He not only fought politically for women's rights but treated his wife as an equal, friend, and collaborator, and raised his daughter to be self sufficient and driven. "He stands out as irrefutable proof that a man can love as ardently as he can think rationally; that a man can feel and care as much as woman, if only he allows himself to be freed of gender stereotypes, of the cultural pressures and prejudice that plague both sexes."

Fredrick Douglas- When Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were fighting for our right to vote Fredrick Douglas was right there with them. "Right is of no sex - Truth is of no color" is what he said. He was the guy in there with the ladies shouting and writing and trying to get suffrage passed with the best of 'em. Read Angela Davis' Women, Race, and Class and Fredrick Douglas jumps out as the guy who was there fighting for equality of all three.

Eddie Vedder- Eddie has always defended a woman's right to choose. He has raised money for the cause at Rock For Choice concerts. If you watch the video below of Pearl Jam on MTV unplugged note the part half way through when he pulls out a pen and writes Pro-Choice on his arm. He's not so bad on the eyes either.

Andy Samberg- Andy is the cute young dude on SNL in case you hadn't noticed. When asked to present an award at the Spike awards show (programing for bros), Andy went out of his way to contact the National Organization for Women to see if he could get a N.O.W. Berkeley chapter t-shirt to wear to the awards show. Andy is from the Bay Area and he was raised right.

Thomas Sankara- Marxist revolutionary, Pan-African Theorist, and president of Burkina Faso, he was known as the African Che Guevara and well he's just too fine to resist. He banned female genital mutilation, forced marriages, and polygamy and promoted women to high government positions. Sankara promoted contraception and encouraged husbands to go food shopping, prepare meals, and do other traditionally female domestic work. His administration was the first to acknowledge AIDS as a major threat to Africa.

"You are our mothers, life companions, our comrades in struggle and because of this fact you should by right affirm yourselves as equal partners in the joyful victory feasts of the revolution. We must restore to humanity your true image by making the reign of freedom prevail over differentiations imposed by nature and by eliminating all kinds of hypocrisy that sustain the shameless exploitation of women."

Kurt Cobain - Kurt was a self proclaimed feminist and spoke out against rape and homophobia and in support of women's choice. Go read the lyrics to Been A Son, it lays it all out there. Also he wore dresses on stage and damn did he look fine in them.
"The future of rock belongs to women." -Kurt Cobain

Barack Obama- Politicians and even Michelle Obama don't really like to straight up use the word feminist. But Barack has never shied away from the term. Our president is both a hunk and a feminist and that's a lot more than you can say for the majority of his predecessors.

Joss Whedon- Joss is the creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse, and Firefly (which my boyfriend is currently obsessed with). He has not only created a slew of awesome fast talking and hitting respectable action roles for women but he very vocally speaks up for the rights of all women. He fights against violence inflicted on women whether it be in movies or in a village on the other side of the world. He works for women's rights, speaks out for it, and creates amazing characters so that we can all feel a little safer. Please watch this speech he gave when he was honored by Equality Now....its moving, I got teary.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Money Talks

I've been really avoiding the Huffington Post's main headlines lately. There's just too much fear mongering and blinking red graphics and bullshit. But today's headline caught my eye and I think its a really important topic that not enough people know about.

A new study has been released titled "Building a Better America -- One Wealth Quintile At A Time" by Dan Ariely of Duke University and Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School. The study shows that across all ideological belief systems, economic standings, and gender groups there is a huge misunderstanding in the amount of wealth that the wealthiest control. American's believe that the top 20% wealthiest citizens control about 59% of the wealth. We believe this universally whether we are rich or poor or inbetween. Yet actually the richest 20% control more like 84% of the wealth.

Even more interesting was that most Americans believed that the top 20% should be controlling about 32% of the wealth. This is the percentage that exists in Sweden.

"The respondents were presented with unlabeled pie charts representing the wealth distributions of the U.S., where the richest 20 percent controlled about 84 percent of wealth, and Sweden, where the top 20 percent only controlled 36 percent of wealth. Without knowing which country they were picking, 92 percent of respondents said they'd rather live in a country with Sweden's wealth distribution."

The division between classes is getting larger and larger. As Forbes pointed out recently the 400 richest Americans got richer last year while the rest of us struggled to stay employed. I just realized that if the top 20% have 84% of the wealth than the other 80% of American people have 16% of the wealth. That does not look good and it really doesn't feel good. You know what we can do about that. We could have a more progressive tax system. Obama's opposition to tax cuts for those making over 250,000 a year is one of the best things he's done. Without this we're still going to be fighting for jobs and clinging to that 16% of the wealth.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gender Expectations for The Hardest Job In the World

If you haven't watched this week's Mad Men or the movie Woman Under the Influence .... there are a lot of spoilers.

After this Sunday's Mad Men episode "The Beautiful Girls", I couldn't help thinking a whole lot about the parallels with John Cassavetes' Woman Under The Influence. Both deal so much with the differing expectations that are doled out to men and women when they become parents.

I don't know if you know the song but Le Tigre had a song called Whats Your Take On Cassavetes?, and the lyrics are something like "misogynist?, genius?, misogynist?, genius?". I'll say up front that I haven't seen all of his work so I don't really know but when I watched Woman Under The Influence last winter I actually felt like it was one of the most feminist movies I'd ever seen. This was totally backed up when I looked up info about the movie online and saw that Cassavetes actually saw himself as the mother in the film and identified with her stronger than any of the other characters. For some background information Woman Under The Influence is about a working class family with a loud hard working Dad and a Mom who starts to seem increasingly loopy as time goes on. Many of the parts when Mabel the mom is hanging out waiting for the kids to get home remind me a lot of Betty on Mad Men. The long hours drinking and looking at the floorboards or your split ends. And the occasional hook up at the bar with a stranger. Both things Betty has done. Though Mabel as a mother is a lot more fun and has a lot of twitches and quirks that endear her far more than Betty. However, she seems to be doing an increasingly shitty job taking care of the kids, (though I sort of felt like anyone whose been a stay at home mom can probably identify with a lot of it).

Mabel doesn't know when to shut off the enthusiasm or put on a more straight laced appearance for visitors. Her and her husband Nick start to fight a lot more and Mabel's sanity is questioned. This movie is a prime example of the concept of femaleness as synonymous with hysteria and insanity. Being female is to be "the second sex" and therefore considered other. Being other is to be mentally unsound. A doctor is called and Mabel is hauled off to a mental institution.

With Mabel hidden away you get to see what a fine job of parenting her husband Nick does. This is sort of like when everyone thought Britney Spears' kids should be taken away from her and given to Kevin Federline. Clearly K-Fed is the perfect specimen of fatherhood. So Nick takes his and Mabel's little kids to his very unsafe workplace, they ride around in the back of a pickup truck, and drink beer. Basically he sucks just as much if not more than Mabel.
When the time comes for Mabel to come back from the institution, Nick has the terrible idea of throwing her a surprise party - having her come home to a house full of friends and acquaintances and oh yea the woman he's subtly shtupping on the side. Oh and everyone is waiting to see if Mabel will "act crazy" by which I mean maybe cry, get emotional, or act overly enthusiastic about seeing her family again. I really liked the end though, Nick decides that this quiet demure woman Mabel is trying to be is not the one he fell in love with and he begs her to just act like herself. "Normal" domestic life resumes with the final acceptance that Nick and Mabel have their own special brand of normal and it might get crazy sometimes but they'll work it out.
On an unrelated side note - Gena Rowlands' performance as Mabel is epic. I think its one of the best performances of all times. She walks the perfect line between nuts and normal with ticks and gestures and voices I've never seen an actress pull off before. When you think about the stiff as a board acting by everyone in the early 70s Gena Rowlands' acting in this movie puts Woman Under the Influence light years ahead of its time.

So anyhow, with Mad Men this past week, Sally Draper ran away and showed up at her dad Don's work. Instead of wanting to know what would drive her to such unsafe behavior Don got pissed off and threw a fit. He flipped out at the woman who found her on the train and got her there safely, flipped out on Sally's mom on the phone in front of her, and then passed her off on his new lady friend instructing her to take Sally back to his place. Later he enjoys the rum pancakes Sally made him, still doesn't talk to her about her problems and home life, and takes her in to work again. At the office they get in a terrible fight about how Sally doesn't want to go home with her mom. He drags the ladyfriend into it again, grabbing her out of the hall in a "you have a vagina- now mother my child" kind of way. Things go terribly and Sally tries to run away and falls badly in the hall. All of this should be red flags to any parent that she is very disturbed in her present living situation and needs help and acknowledgement.

As the cold and frustrated mother Betty ranks quite possibly the "most hated" of all Mad Men characters. Maybe Pete Campbell is equal in the most hated category. But lets think about it - Betty is cold and uptight and she slapped Sally once and also told her not to masturbate - two things that were par for the course in 60s parenting. And well, among other horrible indiscretions Pete Campbell screws over everyone and raped the nanny who lives down the hall. So why is Betty so hated. And I'm not saying I like her but really she's followed all the rules and gotten nothing in return.

So yea we'd all want to live with Don more..... but imagine that scene for his young daughter. You have no idea when Don will be home but you can count on him being blindingly drunk and at all hours and almost constantly bringing home a wide assortment of society girls, secretaries, prostitutes, waitresses, and co-workers to shag all over the apartment. You can depend on him for nothing and he will never tell you his real name. However, you will probably get to go to the zoo on Saturday and he doesn't care if you can't cook. So yea, dads like Don can look like a ton of fun but as with Mabel and Nick the reality of the situation is that living with Dad is not going to be much better than living with Mom for little Sally Draper. Good thing her generation has disco right? Geez!
The version of fatherhood that is proliferated by television these days is not a whole lot better.

On last season's Modern Family ( a show I mostly like ) one of the final morals of one episode was "90% of being a dad is just showing up". A better phrasing of that might have been "showing up is better than not showing up". Because really that "just showing up" crap does a terrible dis-service to all the fully present dads out there. The awesome dads like mine who do laundry, meals, car rides to and from, conversations, encouragement, homework help and everything else. That stuff has to be a lot more than 10%. If the tables were turned would anyone be satisfied with Mom's who "just showed up". In many cases a mother who "just showed up" would be considered unfit and either ostracized, charged with negligence, or sent to a therapist.

I believe in making the unconventional work like Mabel and Nick, they may not have been awesome parents on their own but with determination and love they were going to work through it. Yet, this idea that Fatherhood is pass/fail based on attendance is dishonorable to both Dads and Moms and I hope Mad Men will continue to expose the inequality that is still shown so much on television.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Waist Deep In The Big Muddy

The end of August beginning of September is always such a weird time. Five years ago I was packing up and moving to New York from Providence. It had been a fun yet stressful last summer in our college town and we were all ready to move on. All our cars were on their last legs and we'd had our fill of noise rock, minimum wage, and partying with the Rob Zombie fans next door. We sold off our old slutty party dresses to the pre-college kids and Emilie sold her ancient copy of Moby Dick and got a car, or was it a truck? Kath and I were headed to Brooklyn but Emilie was going to drive down to New Orleans to live with a bunch of our friends who were already there. She'd shipped her boxes down already and was all packed up to take the rest. Then Hurricane Katrina hit and our New Orleans friends luckily escaped but Emilie was homeless and her previously shipped boxes were lost. While none of our friends knew the sadness of losing years and years of memories there was a home and some art lost and for Emilie there was a future she'd been picturing for quite a while. Two months after Katrina, Emilie and our friend Lindsay who had been living there pre-hurricane made an expedition to New Orleans to survey the damage. Emilie documented what was left and they both had a wild Halloween complete with Mardi Gras beads.
A week or so ago I heard some audio recordings on NPR that were from New Orleans during the hurricane. The guy who was recording was already afraid that the US would forget what had happened there in a month or two. It made me think of Emilie's photos and want to share them with you all. Emilie now lives in Pittsburgh where she is working on movie sets and still making amazing art. You can check out more of her work here .

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


YES! I asked and the TV Gods answered! Lizzy Caplan is working with Will Ferrell's Production Company for HBO to make an awesome new tv show! I haven't read Julie Klausner's book I Don't Care About Your Band, that the show will be based on, but I have listened to a bunch of interviews with Klausner and she's hilarious. I can't wait!

Here's Caplan's spoof of True Blood for Funny or Die.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Can I Have Your Number ?

This bit is always so much better with the knowledge that Darrell is played by a gal, Nicole Randall Johnson.

Saturday, September 4, 2010