Friday, November 30, 2007

Some day my prince will come. Apparently there's been a bit of grumbling about Disney' film, Enchanted. Slate's Dana Stevens complains that the movie uses crass consumerism as a band-aid for life's problems. When in doubt, charge it! But it's not merely the act of spending, it's the "femininity-enhancing, wallet-reducing princess clothes" that are purchased in the film that Stevens finds so worrying. "Does these little girls' happily-ever-after consist only in getting Mommy to buy the right dress?" she asks.

Stevens forgets that every Disney film is merely a marketing venue for their new product line. This subliminal messaging of little girls in pretty dresses is exactly what Disney is banking on to keep its coffers full. Disney has gone princess crazy, manufacturing everything from princess-themed baby-ware to princess salons and high end princess wedding dresses. Every benchmark in the life cycle has been feminized, royalized, and Disneyfied.

But who can blame Disney for capitalizing on consumer trends? As heartbreaking as it may be to dash our childhood illusions of the benevolent visionary creating cartoons with the sole intention of entertaining children, Disney is a notoriously ruthless company willing to brand anything the consumer wants. If there was a call for princess-themed tampons, I'm sure Disney would answer.

I don't necessarily agree that the "ever increasing marketing to younger and younger girls of an adult sexualized version of the princesses is concerning," as Tomi-Ann Roberts, a professor of psychology from Colorado College, says. Like many girls, I went through an intense princess phase where I refused to wear anything but dresses and often went out wearing a tiara. Yes, I was that girl. Yet, somehow, I grew out of it and became the good little feminist you know and love. Even Disney's head of consumer products noted that girls tend to drop the princess brand by age 6.

Furthermore, I don't think that when little girls are playing princess they are playing submission and helplessness. There's a difference between "waiting for your prince to come" and enjoying twirling around in frilly dresses. Though it is telling that Disney has largely ignored the more self-assured (and ethnic) princesses Mulan and Pocahontas to focus its marketing on Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Belle and Jasmine. Even though it could be argued that Belle and Jasmine were very gutsy characters, and Jasmine was Arab, both exhibit more sexualized characteristics, "with more skin showing and bigger heads, eyes and breasts" as Roberts observes. I do, however, give Disney points for creating the first black princess with the forthcoming Princess Tiana, though I suspect it is just a ploy to attract the African American consumer to Disney products.

When you're a child, you are a big ball of id who wants everything in the toy store. You want to be the princess you see on screen. When we went to the pool in the summer, I used to play Little Mermaid and flip my hair like Ariel. It was only when I grew up that I realized how strange that film is: She wants to give up her whole existence for some cute guy she never even talked to? And how do those darn shells stay in place, anyway? Owning Disney merchandise and pretending to be royalty will not permanently warp children. However, if you don't teach your children the value of money and instead let them think that happiness is only a credit card-swipe away, well, you might end up with a spoiled little princess who grows up to be a debt-ridden adult.

Total uses of the word "princess" in this post: 14

You've got the money maker. This article really made me laugh. A Chilean prostitute will auction off 27 hours of her services, you know, for the children. She is donating her services to the televised Teleton, Chile's largest fundraising event, which will run for 27 hours this weekend and benefits a disabled children's charity. "Miss Carolina, who charges $300 for a 90-minute session, estimated that she would raise more than $4000." Sorry boys, all her time has already been sold. You'll have to wait until next year's telethon.

I really hope someone makes a documentary about this. Though, I suppose it would be more porn than anything else.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A bad word for a good thing. Happy birthday to me!

Friday, November 23, 2007

She walked like a woman and talked like a man. I don't know about you, but I really enjoy judging people based on stereotypes. I especially enjoy it when I get to divide the entire world into two categories--man and woman--and rejoice in 10 super-special characteristics that divide us. So while women are well-groomed and make you excuse yourself after you burp, men kill spiders and have old college t-shirts. Because women don't go to college. Yay!

I, for one, am really glad that my boyfriend keeps me up to date with all the latest gadgets (he doesn't) and that he made the first move (he didn't). In turn, I know he's so happy to have me in his life because, aside from my constant PMS-y mood swings, I keep his social life hopping (from 8,000 miles away, no less. Apparently I am also magical) and one day I will bear him many tiny babies.

See, isn't it fun to compress people's unique qualities to 10 tiny little points of specialness? Stereotypes for everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I will keep you warm and safe. On top of shoes and bottles of water being serious threats to airport security, now it seems that bras are just as dangerous. I have to agree with the headline that, if lingerie is a threat to national security, we're in big trouble.

I'd like to point out that Israel does not have these bogus airline security protocols because Israel has real airport security.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I heard her holler, I heard her moan. Giving new meaning to "blaming the victim," a gang-raped Saudi teen is sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail. Apparently, she was initially charged with violating the separation of sexes law because she was riding in the car of a non-related man. The court raised her sentence because she went to the media to "influence" the court. Her attackers were sentenced to five years to less-than-a-year in jail.

Basically, a young woman is raped 14 times, dares to raise a raucous and demand justice, and is squarely put back in her place. Fan-freakin'-tastic.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Culture is what we make it. The ignorance upon which our country's laws currently rest has reared its ugly head once again, this time in the state of Washington. I have heard it said many times that pharmacists should not be forced to dispense medication to which they are ethically opposed. To this I say, tough tushy. As the previously-cited blog post adeptly points out, Plan B does not cause abortion but, rather, prevents conception from occurring in the first place. So, really, if you are morally opposed to abortion, you should probably be a fan of Plan B considering that it prevents the need for an abortion altogether. If you're going to disguise your hubris as morality, you might want to do your homework first.

This debate has been going on for years, with pharmacists insisting that their right to impose their moral values on the rest of us trumps doctor-patient privilege. The fact of the matter is, you holier-than-thou pharmacists, you do not know the reason a doctor has prescribed birth control, nor do you know the reason a woman seeks Plan B. May I remind you that birth control is currently prescribed for everything from acne to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome? And may I remind you that such things as rape and incest might cause a woman to seek an alternative to pregnancy? My point is simply that it is not a pharmacist's place to judge a client; it is their job to check for harmful drug interactions and dispense medication accordingly.

I am all for freedom of religion. Pharmacists can picket abortion clinics and pray for our heathen souls all they want. But they should not have the right to lord their religious values over the rest of us.

Monday, November 12, 2007

If I wasn't a celebrity would you be so nice to me? Today in A-List Celebrity Sightings:

That's right friends, I finally managed to spot a real, live celeb, replete with paparazzi flashbulbs. Whom did I spot but former boyfriend-stealer Claire Danes strolling down Mercer with her new boyfriend. She was wearing the cutest white cashmere knit cap. I covet, I really do. I'll keep an eye out for the ensuing paparazzi photos; you might be able to see me in the background.

Friday, November 09, 2007

That girl she holds her head up so high. I am really starting to hate Slate. Did they forget that they are journalists and not pundits? Take this post from XX Factor, Slate's female-written blog, comparing the Bush girls to Chelsea Clinton. Apparently the Bush twins (though only one is mentioned) have better "karma" than Chelsea because Jenna "just published a book called Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope, which chronicles her experiences working with U.N.-sponsored charities in Latin America." If you remember, Ana's Story is absolutely not about Jenna Bush's philanthropy work but a fictional tale of one poor girl's struggle with HIV (Read my critique of this bullshit here).

So, setting aside that Slate is wrong about the details, apparently Chelsea Clinton is selfish, greedy, and morally bankrupt. "She left McKinsey not too long ago to work at a hedge fund." Hmm. No mention of the fact that she recently raised $20 million for the Clinton Foundation? No mention of her work as a board member of the School of American Ballet? No mention of her work with the United Nations? Apparently this NY Times article is full of lies.

It's not that, as her friends say, "financial independence is important" to Chelsea Clinton, while the Bushes are happy to mooch off the family wealth and marry Karl Rove's cronies. Nope. The truth is that "the daughter of two Democrats chases cash while the Bush girls advance liberal causes."

How is it that I am a better fact checker than a journalist for the Washington Post?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Where is the questioning where is the protest song? A ralling cry for the masses, courtesy of Bill Clinton:

"Do I hope you vote for my wife? You bet I do. It'd be good for America, and good for the world. But, more than that I came here to tell you today, don't you dare let them take this election away from you. This belongs to you."

Hopefully the voting public will listen this time around.

Tonight, I'm gonna give you all my love in the back seat. More bad news for the Christian Coalition. Yet another study proves abstinence-only sex ed useless. According to the study, "at present there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence or reduces the number of sexual partners" among teenagers.

Might want to tell that to the bastion of abstinence-only education, Texas, which now ranks first in the nation with the highest rate of teen pregnancy and the highest rate of repeat teen pregnancy. Oh boy! According to "Another Chance: Preventing Additional Births to Teen Mothers," a publication from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the birth of an additional child to a teen mother reduces the likelihood she will complete her education or become self-sufficient. "The children of teen mothers are more likely to have reduced educational achievement and behavioral problems — problems that may be explained, in part, by the inadequate education of the mothers themselves or by the poverty and lifestyle of the family."

Just give these people condoms already! What is wrong with you people and your so-called values? Though, the Schadenfreude part of me really thinks these people are getting what they deserve.

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand. This article makes it sound like President Bush is solely responsible for restoring elections in Pakistan. I'm sure the lawyers' strike and huge rallies had nothing to do with it.

Also, when Bush told Musharraf that "You can't be the president and the head of the military at the same time," did he forget that, as delineated by Article Two of the Constitution, as President he is also Commander in Chief of the armed forces? His stupidity never ceases to amaze me.

In passing, may I point out that, military dictatorships aside, Pakistan has still had a female prime minister. The United States? Not so much.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to. Is it just me, or is this Wall Street Journal columnist implying that his daughter is a slut because she didn't demand to be taken to the homecoming dance instead of just hanging out with a group of kids in a basement? Apparently such an action would have put her and her friends at risk of "being dumped for easier girls."

Frankly, I don't think high school kids should date. Why? Because high school kids are morons. Total, complete morons. I include myself in this. I was an absolute moron in high school. I exhibited poor judgement and a lack of self-esteem, and I consequently made ridiculously bad dating decisions. Granted, my college dating experiences weren't much better, but there's a certain level of emotional maturity I had gained by the time I turned 21 which simply was not there at 16.

Yes, parents should teach their sons to respect girls. That's simply a no-brainer. But more importantly, parents should talk to their children about sex--not just the physical dynamics, but the emotional and health risks of sexual activity. Children of both sexes should be taught to respect themselves and their bodies. There is some evidence that delaying sexual activity has positive health benefits. But blaming the declining age of first intercourse, the prevalence of "hook ups," and the lack of homecoming dance attendance on the death of chivalry is simply childish. Teenage boys were just as likely to try to have sex with teenage girls in the 1950s as they are today, whether or not they go to the big dance.

She blinded me with science. The more liberal our society gets, the more I find myself becoming a prude (I know, I'm as baffled as you are).

I don't know whether to applaud or condemn. On the one hand, I'm glad that American prudery is breaking down enough for people to engage in thoughtful discussions about female anatomy and sexual pleasure. On the other hand, why in the hell is this left up to Tyra Banks, of all people? How do women not know what the urethra is? Furthermore, I really don't need to see a satin vagina puppet. Thanks anyway.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Watch me make up my mind instead of my face. Enough is enough. Journalists, would you please get over your fascination with Hillary Clinton's supposed gender role-bending and actually evaluate her based on the strength of her ideas instead of the cut of her collar? Have you never met a woman who is composed and intelligent enough to hold her own in a heated debate? Apparently not. Instead, you talk about how she makes for the scariest political Halloween costume or that there's a "toughness backlash" because Clinton is trying to be a manly-girl. Frankly, I don't want a president who's going to get all mushy and blubber about his or her feelings. I've had enough of that, thank you very much.

Maybe you're all just worried because Clinton is kicking Democratic ass in the polls. Maybe you're worried that you might actually have to, you know, respect a woman. Get over yourselves and treat her like any other candidate. Stop expecting her to bake you cookies and read you bedtime stories just because she has a uterus. Hillary Clinton is not your mother. She is a Wellesley College- and Yale Law School-educated, seasoned politician. Get over yourselves and start doing your jobs. Also, start spelling her name right. She spells "Hillary" with two l's, assholes.

(On a side note, I wouldn't be surprised if, assuming Clinton is elected President, the number of rapes increased because of all the "emasculated" men. The same phenomenon happened in the 1980s backlash over the Women's Movement).