Archive for January, 2009

Blogger Mary Rambin who posts on the blog Non-Society, in a post entitled My Body, My Botox, compared her choice to get botox injections to a woman’s right to have an abortion.

I site [sic] Roe v. Wade because it serves as a marker of people accepting (maybe not respecting) a woman’s right to choose.  Although abortion is still an issue at the forefront, it’s notable the Supreme Court recognized women should be able to do what they feel is right for themselves.

Cosmetic procedures should be viewed in the same light.  Not to mention the procedures are in no way effecting another human being, so the severity of the issue is considerably less.  But as with breast implants, time will have to pass before others view cosmetic procedures as acceptable.  I won’t say “the norm” because I do think artificial enhancement should carry with it serious consideration before you undergo any sort of procedure.  Other things like manicures and pedicures, dental work, highlighting your hair, are all “procedures” that are completely unnatural but we consider normal.

I really don’t care whether a woman chooses to have plastic surgery or not.  What you do to your body is your prerogative. But, using Roe v. Wade just to stand for that broad proposition is disturbing.  First, plastic surgery is a completely cosmetic procedure, whereas having a baby is a major life-changing decision.  Furthermore, whereas the thousands of activists who fight every day to preserve a woman’s right to chose to have an abortion are fighting against patriarchal control over female bodies.  Having plastic surgery seems only to be reinforcing patriarchy and an unnatural standard of beauty that is fed to us by the media.  This blog post trivializes the rights activists have been trying to gain for decades.  And, as she so aptly states, cosmetic surgery is a luxury.  I doubt that any woman who has ever had an abortion or considered having an abortion would consider it a luxury.  Superficial posts like this one which try to use feminism to back up every argument infuriate me. Take responsibility for wanting to have an cosmetic surgery because you want to look different, or better, or younger. Don’t try to hide behind Roe v. Wade.

Check out another critique of this post here.

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Why I Now Love Sean Penn

“We don’t play gay or straight, we play human beings. This is a story about equal rights for human beings.”

-Sean Penn at the SAG Awards after winning best actor for Milk

At least the Screen Actors Guild gave Milk some credit (unlike at the Golden Globes).  Even though the Academy will most likely go with the cliche choice of Slumdog Millionaire for best picture, I think that Milk deserves to win. Not only do I think that it probably was the best film I saw all year, I don’t think it would hurt the Academy to give the award to something socially relevant and important. Why not make a statement at the Oscars, especially in the aftermath of Prop 8?

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What do Women Want?

Ah the age old question. This week’s NY Times Magazine seems to have somewhat of an answer for everyone who has been wondering.

Apparently, female sexuality is more fluid than male sexuality (no big surprise there) and actually like the idea, in some ways, of being objectified. As feministing points out:

In a world where women are often objectified against their will, is the ultimate turn on being able to control and even illicit our own objectification? This line of thinking also holds up when considering the number of women who have fantasies of being dominated, and sometimes raped. Is it sexually arousing to feel a sense of power over your own decision to submit in a world where you feel vulnerable to others domination against your will?

Despite some of the problems with this article, which I won’t go into, but you can read about a few here, I think that it’s pretty great that the NY Times magazine has dedicated space to an article like this.  Our society is so concerned about fitting women and female sexuality into neat little boxes, and I think this article provides the space to question some of these assumptions.

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Feministing’s post entitled Holding Obama to a Higher Standard than “Not Bush” makes an interesting, and I think, very important point:

As we get used to the idea of Obama as president, it’s tempting to get really excited about how much better he is than Bush (or other previous presidents, for that matter). I know that was a big part of what I was feeling yesterday as I watched TV footage of movers packing up Bush’s belongings outside the White House, and later as I watched Obama deliver his speech: RELIEF. However, it’s our challenge in the coming months and years to not just be satisfied with “better than before,” but to push Obama to really fulfill the ideals of equality and justice that he speaks about so eloquently.

It’s wonderful that we (finally) have a democratic president in the White House, especially one who has unified the country and caused so much excitement the way Obama has, but I would rather base my opinion of him on what he does, rather than who he is. Tomorrow is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Obama does something like lift the Global Gag Rule that was instituted by Bush to commemorate the anniversary and begin to demonstrate that he truly is the change that we’ve all been hoping for.

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The N.Y. Times posted this article yesterday entitled Talk About Race?: Relax It’s Okay. My first gripe with the article is that it’s in the Fashion and Style section, which is apparently where they throw any article that has anything to do with “feelings” or psychology. But more importantly than that is the way in which this article suggests that Obama’s presidency will end race tensions in the United States and also assumes that before Obama black and white Americans were physically incapable of having meaningful conversations about race.  Furthermore, it assumes that the black/white binary is the only racial tension that exists in the United States. Also, the article’s stories just border on ridiculous.

Check out this nugget:

On the morning after the election, Kristin Rothballer, 36, who lives in San Francisco, kissed her female partner goodbye on the train while commuting to work. A black woman who sat down next to her turned and said she was sorry that Proposition 8, the amendment to ban gay marriage in the state, looked like it was going to pass.

“We grabbed hands,” Ms. Rothballer recalled. “And I said, ‘Well, I really want to congratulate you because we have a black president and that’s amazing.’ ”

“Our conversation then almost became about the fact that we were having the conversation,” she said.

Something moved her to apologize to the black woman for slavery.

“For two strangers riding a train to Oakland to have that conversation about race, it wouldn’t have been possible if Obama hadn’t been elected,” she said. “I always felt open with my colleagues, but to say to a stranger on the train, ‘Hey, I’m sorry about slavery,’ that just doesn’t happen.”

Now I love Obama, and I do agree that his election was a HUGE step forward for our country. But racism is not going to disappear just as the result of one election. Obama cannot magically make this country’s problems disappear.  It’s time that we use Obama’s election not as a symbol of the end of racism in America, but to continue the conversation about race that has been ongoing in many communities and really take action.

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Apple has announced that it is going to stop selling songs on iTunes with D.R.M (digital rights management) technology.  For one, this means that the songs won’t be encrypted so you can freely transfer them from computer to computer or to other people. I think, more importantly, that big corporations are starting to see the error of their ways in making art and music so difficult to access freely.

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Back at it

So I was not terribly motivated to do anything over the holiday break, hence the lack of posts – but I am slowly getting back into it. Here’s a frivolous post to start off this Monday back from the time off.

NY Times Blogger Stanley Fish has compiled a list of the Top 10 American Movies of All Time (in his opinion of course), and while I don’t agree with a few of them (namely “Groundhog Day”), I was amazed to see “Meet Me in St. Louis” included in the list:

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), directed by Vincente Minnelli. When the calendar finally turns a page in “Groundhog Day” and Phil and Rita walk out of the bed and breakfast to start their new life together, Phil says, “Let’s live here,” which means let’s live in small-town America, where everyone knows everyone else and everyone takes care everyone else. In “Meet Me in St. Louis,” the characters already live there (yes, St. Louis is a city, but in this movie it’s a neighborhood), and the plot centers on the question (not exactly burning) of whether or not they will be able to stay.

The real center of the film is the loving depiction of a loving family, four sisters, a son, a mother and a father, a grandfather and a cook (the redoubtable Marjorie Main). To be sure, there are tensions, but they are the innocent tensions found in every family – between teenage sisters, between husband and wife – and as viewers we know that they will be dispelled. A film in which the inability of a young man to find a tuxedo for an important party counts as a crisis isn’t ever going to disturb your equanimity. It is only when Esther (a glorious Judy Garland) sings the achingly sad “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to her sister Tootie (a scene-stealing Margaret O’Brien) that a sense of the pains life often brings intrudes; but not long after, their father (Leon Ames) renounces his plan to move to New York (the only real villain of the story), and everything is once again well.

This is a woman’s movie. Only the grandfather (Harry Davenport) is a fully drawn male character. The strength belongs to the sisters, to the cook and to the mother, excellently played by Mary Astor. And of course there is the music, with Garland at the top of her form, especially in the “Trolley Song” sequence, perhaps the three most exhilarating musical minutes in film history. Despite the lavishly beautiful production, this is not a big movie – no grand ideas, no moral dilemmas, no transformations of character, no deep insights. All it is is perfect.

I didn’t think anyone else shared my admiration and sheer love of this film, but it’s comforting to know that at least one person recognizes its brilliance.

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