25 Disney Girls Gone Bad: Misogyny run rampant

25 Disney Girls Gone Bad rocked up in my Facebook feed. I went through the pictures assuming that it was all of former Disney actresses in their underwear.

It was.

It also included Demi Lovato twice and claimed that Ashley Tisdale is her own best friend making it fairly obvious that research and editing aren’t priorities for this particular site.

I googled Disney Boys Gone Bad to see if I would discover 8 million pics of Zac Efron in his knickers. Oddly, I found none. Instead, I found numerous articles on male Disney stars arrested for violence against women and girls, robbery, and DUI. It’s worth noting that the Disney ‘girls’ who have been arrested were not arrested for crimes of violence. And, a number of the male stars continued to work, either for Disney or in the entertainment industry, despite having criminal convictions for violence.

An article on ListServe lists Edward Furlong as a (dis)honourable mention for “cocaine addiction; arrested drunkenly trying to free lobsters from a tank”. Lindsey Lohan and Britney Spears get first and second place respectively for their substance dependency and mental health worries. ListServe neglects to mention Furlong’s multiple convictions for domestic violence. Being female and ill is a reason to label a woman “Top 10 Child Stars Who’ve Gone Bad”. Domestic violence isn’t even worth mentioning.

The Mirror felt it necessary to include Lee Thompson Young in first position in their article “Disney stars’ downfall: Hit and runs, rehab and jail – the teen stars who went wild”. Thompson Young wasn’t convicted in a hit and run, nor did do a stint in rehab. He killed himself aged 29 having suffered with bipolar disorder.  The women in their list were all there for substance use; most of the men for violence.

Rather than holding male Disney stars accountable for the violence they commit, much of these “child stars gone bad” focus on shaming women for trying to survive in an industry where there only asset is classed as their ability to pass the patriarchal fuckability test. There is no recognition of the continuing failure of Disney to support its young actors throughout their career. There is little recognition that domestic violence is an actual crime. Instead, these articles all focus on shaming women and excusing men.

@TakingShapeUK liken women to animals to be hunted with #skinnybirdwatching

B-RuJO5IQAAboHk.jpg-largeThese images are actually from Taking Shape UK’s twitter feed advertising their new campaign #skinnybirdwatching.B-RuMJlIQAAxXBt.jpg-largeB-RuTXWIAAAMw3R.jpg-large

 

This is pretty clear evidence of a piss-poor understanding of social media, body-shaming, and and a failure to recognise the reality of violence against women and girls. Taking Shape UK are a clothing brand which specialises in plus size clothing. Their campaign features people sitting in a box on a road looking for women who are a size 6 so they can prove that size 6 isn’t that common.

Now, I’ve been that natural size 0 (4 in Canada). I’m pretty short but I still regularly got called chicken legs and accused of being anorexic. I was working in a bakery at that time where my diet consisted of free pizza pretzels, donuts and fresh bread. Completely unhealthy diet? Absolutely. Anorexic. No.

I was bullied for years at school and this shaming of my body for being naturally short and skinny was part of it. I’m no longer that skinny – not from having children (although I never returned to a size 0) after my kids. I’m now fat because I have been seriously ill for years with fibromyalgia and asthma. The steroids for my asthma made me gain weight, my fibromyalgia limited my ability to walk even short distances and I have an even worse diet because of comfort eating associated with depression.

I was once that object of shame for being skinny and am now an object of shame for being fat.

This is precisely the kind of campaign that makes me want to reach for those donuts again. It is body-shaming women who are naturally a size 6 – or those who exercise constantly to be a size 6 because we live in a culture where women are rewarded for it. Blaming women for trying to neutralise any possible “flaw” which could lead to abuse is pretty much the essence of internalised misogyny. It certainly won’t help women living with eating disorders like anorexia deal with their illness. Instead, it will make them feel more judged – and this is the very last thing these women and young girls need.

Taking Shape UK are objecting to the use of size 6 models during London’s Fashion Week by reducing women to animals to be judged like pigs at a country fair. Will we be judged on our plumage – acceptable as fat if we have great hair? Or, our skin colour? A quick skim through their catalogue shows only white women. Women are not animals and a clothing company which refers to its customers as animals has pretty much lost the plot.

What are they claiming is the perfect size? A 14? 16? 18? Do women only count who have ‘curves’? If that’s the case, I’m fucked as a short, fat woman notably lacking in curves. The language of the reprehensible ‘real women’ campaign by Dove is littered through this. That was nothing more than a cheap marketing gimmick too.

Why aren’t Taking Shape recognising that the  obsession with ‘real women’ having curves just as damaging as the  fashion industry’s obsession with size 6 models? All this campaign is doing is judging women for their bodies. It is the patriarchal fuckability test in action.

There is another side to this particular campaign which is troubling and that is the issue of stalking. Sitting in a box watching women is seriously fucking creepy. Likening women to animals to be hunted whilst sitting in a box is even creepier. Setting up to monitor women with binoculars with the intention to draw images of them (as it says in their press release) buys into a deeply misogynistic construction of women as objects to be owned and surveilled. This is precisely the type of abuse that stalkers engage with when they target women.

All in all, this is a disgraceful social media campaign and Taking Shape UK have seriously fucked up. No woman deserves to be judged for their body type and women are not animals to be monitored in the streets.

This campaign is pretty much the essence of misogyny.  And, the images below – well, Taking Shape won’t be getting my custom anytime soon.

bird 1 bird 2

 

And, Baby Bangs? Just Wtf?

All together Now:

Ugly Baby:

dahliadrop2

 

Cute Baby:

 

dahliadrop 1

 

Ugly Baby & Cute Baby

bb1

Ugly Baby & Cute Baby

bb 2

Ugly Baby & Cute Baby

bb3

At least, I think this is what Baby Bangs is telling us with the production of fake hair for babies. Without fake hair, baby girls are UGLY.

And, seriously, who wants an ugly baby?

Not Baby Bangs, that’s for sure:

Our Philosophy
At Baby Bangs! we believe in the beauty of childhood. Our unique designs are sprinkled with MAGIC!~inspiring a world of whimsical wonder and mystical magical memorable moments for you and your baby girl to cherish Forever! For she is, and always will be, 
Your LiTTLe PRINCESS!

Babies can only live in a world of whimsical wonder and mystical magical memorable moments if they only look like girls. And, aren’t ugly.

Otherwise, their lives will suck.

Or, something.

 

<thank you to Sophia Greene for bringing this to my attention>

 

 

Girlie Glue: Because it’s never too early to be girly.

2

I thought this was a late April Fool’s rocking up in my Twitter feed. But, no. It appears to be an actual product with an actual website so you can glue shit to your babies’ head so they don’t forget they are girls. Granted, I’ve always been under the impression that babies don’t actually know what “girl” is since they do precisely four things: eat, sleep, shit and cry. But, that’s totally irrelevant. Now, you can ensure that your baby and the world around them know you’ve bought into majorly damaging gendered stereotypes and glue ribbons and bows to your kid’s head. Just so no one destroys their identity by mistaking them for a boy.

Because that would fuck them up for life.

Gluing shit to your kids head, on the other hand, is totally normal.

And this does not fill me this confidence:

Girlie Glue is made with Agave nectar and other all natural Ingredients

It’s safe, 100% Honey-Free and washes away easily with water.

I don’t care that it washes out or that it’s “natural” (and let’s be totally realistic here, all sorts of shit you wouldn’t want near your kid are called natural). You are gluing shit to your babies head.

Actually gluing shit to your babies head.

So people know they are a girl.

I can’t even begin to describe how fucked up that is.

You have a baby. Not a dress-up dolly. It doesn’t matter if your baby is bald and someone in Tesco thinks they are a boy. It’s a baby. You need to cuddle them  – not dress them up like freaking Barbie.

Girls have their entire lives to be groomed into passing the patriarchal fuckability test. At least give them a few years before you start gluing shit to their heads. images 2 Unknown 1

 

Vulvas, gender and the real price of being female

In my living room right now are two little girls playing Monopoly. So far this morning they’ve discussed the following: the existence of God, what happens to your vagina when you give birth, and whether or not they are talking about vaginas and vulvas. Granted, I could have done without the 6:30 am wake up call asking me where I fit on the vagina/vulva debate.

<note for children who may be reading this: it is always too early to wake up to discussions on mislabelling of body parts within a patriarchal culture.>

The first debate could have been any child, but the second is a conversation that little girls have constantly because they are taught from birth that having a vulva isn’t something to be proud of – and if you don’t believe me, just look at the sheer number of threads on Mumsnet by women worried about what to call their daughter’s vulva: a foofoo, front bottom, or flower being continual suggestions. Can we just look at how stupid the term front bottom actually is? We never tell boys they have front bottoms – it’s only girls who are told their reproductive organs are dirty and probably full of pooh from birth. And, flower, besides being linguistically stupid, isn’t a “nice euphemism”. It’s a ridiculous term which makes it difficult for small children to explain if someone is hurting them. After all, the statement “he hurt my flower” could mean anything.

Children need to know basic biology . They need to understand how human reproduction works – and it isn’t like flowers do it – regardless of what you learned from Grease 2. It isn’t basic biology which is harmful to children, contrary to this rather ridiculous article in Slate.  It is the coercive gender roles we assign to male and female which harm children, as Glosswitch so eloquently writes. It is the idea that male children are A and female children are B which damages our children. It is telling boys they can be as violent as they want without repercussions and teaching girls that they are responsible for becoming a victim of male violence. That is harmful; not labelling an infant male or female (unless the child is intersex which, whilst rare, has not been handled appropriately by the medical profession).

When I gave birth to my daughters, I didn’t think they could only be nurses or that they could be whatever they wanted to be. When i gave birth to two girls, I thought about the likelihood they would become a victim of male violence.

When I gave birth, I thought about the increased risk they would live with for being born female:

  • child sexual abuse
  • rape as a teenager
  • rape as an adult
  • sexual harassment in the street, school and workplace
  • their increased risk for contracting STDs through PIV
  • their increased risk of contracting STDs from a male partner ejaculating in their mouth or eyes (as is increasingly common via porn)
  • the fact that most UTI in women are a direct consequence of PIV since men don’t tend to wash their penis after urinating (or hands for that matter)
  • the risk of unwanted pregnancy (and having no access to birth control or abortion)
  • the increased risk of domestic violence, stalking and harassment
  • the increased risk of being killed for being female

I also thought about the “privileges” of being female:

  • earning less than men for doing the same work
  • being fired for being pregnant
  • being forced out of the workplace because of childcare commitments
  • living in poverty because of piss poor pensions
  • living in poverty because they are raising children whilst the father makes no financial contribution
  • being less likely to work in senior management or on a board of a FTSE 500 company

And a 1000 other things which women are punished with for the crime of being born female in male supremacist culture. These punishments are not because we have vaginas, rather its because of the gender coercively assigned to biology which creates women as an inferior class. Gender needs to be abolished – not the biological reality of women’s bodies.

Our girls should be playing monopoly and discussing their bodies without feeling ashamed – but perhaps not at 6:30 in the morning.

 

Glosswitch’s response: Boy or Girl? Why not have a stereotype instead is a must read.

Lottery Funding for Burlesque Lessons For Teenage Girls?

 

At least, that is the impression given by the I will if you will website run by Bury Council.  This is the tagline for the website:

‘I Will If You Will’ is a movement to get us ladies of Bury moving. It’s about getting together, trying something new and having a laugh while we do it. So how about it? Join in online and get all the latest news and gossip, as well as keeping up to date with what’s going on near you and how to get involved.

Who could argue with a safe space for women to exercise without worrying about harassment from men? Obviously, they offer the standard exercise classes like swimming, aerobics, dance and basketball but I have concerns about burlesque being classed as an appropriate class for teenage girls. I will if you will defines burlesque as such:

Burlesque is a fun way to express your body through dance. I loved learning a new dance routine to a great music track!

Burlesque is not a dance class and it’s incredibly harmful to construct it as such. We already raise our children in a culture which sexualises them from birth with offensive baby-gros like “All Daddy wanted was a blowjob” and “Future Porn Star” for three year olds. Suggesting that burlesque, which is about the objectification of women’s bodies for the male gaze, is a normal form of exercise for teenagers is telling them that they are nothing more than fucktoys for men.

Pole dancing classes for children already exist so I’m not exactly surprised by burlesque for teenagers. There will always be parents who think their daughter’s worth is measured in her sexuality sending them to school at 6 in high heels and preventing them from playing sports by dressing them in clothes which they can’t walk in but pole dancing and burlesque lessons for kids are a step too far. There are lots of forms of street dance, hip hop, breakdancing which don’t require teenage girls to participate in an activity whose original purpose was the removal of women’s clothing for the titillation of men.

I’m even more concerned that these classes are being offered in venues funded by local council money, lottery and Sports England:

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 19.52.49

I would like to know if public money has been used to pay for these classes and whether or not the community funds of £750, which  are available to local groups and organisations in Bury, are given to groups offering burlesque classes. The guidelines of the venue do not include statements about which activities are deemed appropriate for children. Burlesque is never an appropriate class for girls and public funding should not be used  to fund these classes.

 

So, Playboy, Definitely Art. And, other Dubious Statements

Hugh Hefner’s 21 year old second son from his second marriage is apparently lining up to take over the company. When he finishes school. Obviously. This rather creepy article in the Independent, which is attempting to pass for news, would like everyone to know that Hef Jr definitely thinks Playboy is art and not pornography. 

I’d like to believe the article’s other claim that the Playboy is only a “marginal” brand now but, let’s be honest, they aren’t making their money from the magazine. Instead, they have been capitalising on ole’ Hugh’s penchant for sexual violence in reality TV programs like The Girls Next Door. The Playboy Club TV program may have been cancelled in its first season but the Playboy clubs are coming back [and are the focus of some brilliant feminist activism]. Sales of Playboy Magazine itself are falling but Playboy brand merchandising is everywhere. For reasons I genuinely don’t get, parents are buying their children Playboy branded duvet covers and notebooks. Playboy merchandise is flaming everywhere and that’s without getting into the “sexy” Playboy dress-up clothes.

Ranting about Playboy merchandising on children aside [and I judge parents who buy 6 year olds jeans with Playboy bunnies on their arse or t-shirts which say ‘Future Porn Star’. It’s not funny or clever. It’s just creepy], Cooper Hefner’s attempts to rewrite Playboy’s past and label their magazines ‘art’ rather than porn demonstrates some serious cognitive dissonance. Or, nincompoopery. Probably both. Whatever it is, Cooper is just not the brightest of sparks when he’s comparing nude art with Playboy centerfolds insofar as he misses the whole freaking debate. Because, there is feminist debate about this and there is recognition that much of the art we admire is of questionable value morally and ethically. Hell, there’s a whole lot of recognition that some of the artists whose work we admire are nothing more than sexual predators. Pretending that Playboy is ‘art’ isn’t participating in that debate. It’s the intellectual equivalent of running about with Darth Vader helmet back to front on one’s head.

As for Cooper’s discussion on the Bunny Girls and “empowerment”, well, it’s nice he’s giving us permission to decide for ourselves but, really, when is Cooper going to participate in an activity which “empowers” him? Because, I’d really like to hear someone use that word on an activity men are required to participate in to be considered valuable.

And, honestly, how do you even unpack the following twaddle:

“There are many domestic issues in the US that bother me, such as gay rights or fighting for the legalisation of marijuana. But as we go global we need to stand for more important issues internationally. Women’s rights in the Middle East and internet censorship in China are two things we can stand for and have an influence in, especially when we’re coming into these emerging markets like India and we’re faced with the challenge of opening up Playboy clubs where the bunnies can’t even wear bunny outfits. You have these countries which are in a very similar place sexually – especially when it comes to gender roles – where the US was when my dad first started.”

“Faced with the challenge” of opening in markets where women aren’t allowed to wear Bunny outfits? I genuinely don’t what to stay except that’s a whole load of  nincompoopery which is seriously missing the point, not to mention just a teensy bit of orientalist discourse. That’s without mentioning the whole issue of women’s rights currently being destroyed in the US with access to abortion being curtailed everywhere and gang-rapes like that in Steubenville being a whole lot more common than many would like to believe. Or, that internet censorship isn’t only in China. Why is it important for women in other countries to have the right to dress in Bunny outfits when American women wearing Bunny outfits are slut-shamed? How is expanding the Playboy empire going to help women? What has the legalisation of marijuana got to do with large swathes of the planet not having basic human rights like access to clean water? 

Being raised in the Playboy mansion [and the house next door where his mother lived] can’t have been a healthy place for two young boys to grow up. I don’t think its all that surprising that Cooper’s brother Marston has a recent conviction for domestic violence. Whatever your opinion of porn, it isn’t ever appropriate for children and the two boys would have been exposed during Playboy “parties”, photo shoots and the filming of the Girls Next Door. These would not have been simply nude women. The Playboy empire is built on porn.

Christie Hefner, Cooper’s older sister, ran the company until 2009 when she stepped down. She oversaw the expansion of the empire out of the magazine industry and she put an end to some of Hugh’s more egregious behaviours, at least ones financially supported by the company. Cooper may not want to wear his father’s pyjamas but neither he nor his brother Marsten come across as well-rounded men with a respect for women and women’s sexuality. I don’t agree with many of Christie Hefner’s expansion policies, and I certainly find the show Girls Next Door deeply creepy, but I’m quite certain that Christie Hefner wanted to run a business. I’m not sure that’s what Cooper or Marston are looking for.

Playboy goes Artistic.


At least, that’s what they claim to be doing by having some “leading contemporary artists”,  a list which includes Tracey Emin, “explore the female body as a work of art”. Normally, I’d be willing discuss the issue of the female body as art and whether or not it could be anything other than the objectification of women’s bodies, but this is Playboy.

Playboy. 

They aren’t interested in art. They are interested in making money by the sexual degradation and objectification of women’s bodies. This is just another desperate ploy to differentiate them from ‘bad’ pornographers. In many ways, Playboy’s mainstreaming of pornography has been far more detrimental to women’s rights than the more violent pornography now available online.

I would rant further but Exiled Stardust has deconstructed this far more eloquently here.

So, Every Women Wants to be Objectified?

I probably would have ignored this story if it hadn’t been for this article in the Huffington Post. Cameron Diaz’s comment to the Sunday Times suggesting that its healthy for women to want to be objectified is, well, stupid and arrogant. But, we all say stupid and arrogant things from time to time, so, whilst her comment pissed me off, I was going to let it slide. Diaz clearly does not speak for most women; even those who’ve bought into the “empowerfulising” discourse [here’s a hint: if a man doesn’t have to do it to be empowered, it’s misogynistic bollocks]. These kinds of comments just reinforce Patriarchal constructions of women’s sexuality and are best ignored.

As I said, I would have ignored it if it weren’t for the daft article in the Huffington Post which ends with this:

The comments are sure to raise some eyebrows — just as her recent interaction with Robert Pattinson raised a few. 

Earlier this month, it was reported that the actress was spotted flirting with the 26-year-old “Twilight” star, who recently reconciled with his girlfriend, Kristen Stewart. 

“She was pretty obvious,” a source told Us Weekly. “Cam was seated next to Rob at dinner. She was touching his arm, doing her big Cameron laugh at everything he said and trying really hard. He was polite, but not having it.”

I’m struggling to work out what the link is between Diaz spouting some dire “choice” feminism twaddle and her possibly flirting with a man who may or may not be in a relationship. I’m not googling to find out because I genuinely don’t care if he is in a relationship or not. What I do care about is the constant reinforcement of slut-shaming in our rape culture. The Huffington Post piece pretends to be impressed with Diaz being confident in her own sexuality, whilst snidely swiping at those who object to Diaz’s statement, and then it slaps Diaz back into place. The hypocrisy in one piece is breath-taking.

God forbid a woman find a man sexually attractive. And, tell him so. I am so fucking over this slut-shaming arsehattery.

Yeah, I think Diaz’s comments were stupid and arrogant but I’m angry with what she said; not because she may like having sex. Or, may have decided to hit on some guy. It’s not relevant and it has nothing to do with the story except as a silencing technique.

Oddly, The Huffington Post posted an article by Nico Lang in defence of Kristen Stewart and the serious slut-shaming she faced after kissing someone who was not Robert Pattinson back in September. I think there a few people who need to revisit that article.

Pimp my Whatever is Vile Misogynistic Twaddle

I can not express just how much I hate this expression. I genuinely can not believe that people blither on about “Pimp my ride” and don’t get just how offensive it is. The origins of the term “pimp” are obvious. It originates in patriarchal-capitalist discourse. The term refers to the prostituting and sexual abuse of women’s bodies. Pimps make money from the rape and abuse of vulnerable women.

I don’t buy into this theory that we can reclaim the words of our oppressors. The meaning of pimp is the practise of rape. The increasing use of the verb “pimping” to mean promote or decorate an item is beyond disrespectful to the women’s whose bodies have been abused, tortured and raped because of pimps. Language has power. The word pimp is misogynistic. It should not and can not be used in a “positive” manner. The excuse of “evolving” language should not apply to words whose origins are in racist, disablist, homophobic or misogynistic language. The women and children whose bodies and souls have been harmed by prostitution deserve better than to hear their experiences obscured by minimising language.