Welcome to Monday feminausts. I hope you’ve had a great week and have escaped all of the floods that are plaguing Victoria at the moment. Please explore all of our links for this week and don’t shoot the messenger, start a conversation instead!
‘She who must not be named’ Award – the power of language, anxiety and denial
Ladies, size doesn’t matter, according to plumeting magazine sales for ‘lads mags’, “The latest circulation audit, released this weekend, shows lads’ magazines are haemorrhaging. The once-dominant FHM slumped by 20 per cent to a record low of 40,000 – barely a third of its 2005 sales. Zoo Weekly also suffered its worst result, dropping 18 per cent to 83,000. And the market is littered with corpses: in the past year, Alpha, Sport & Style and Ralph all folded.”
I think this article is an interesting example of the power of language, and gendered language, to illustrate power structures – particular gendered power structures. Here are some excerpts from the article and my 2-cents worth of feminist language analysis:
- Mark Dapin, a writer for Good Weekend magazine and a former editor of Ralph, said that “These magazines aren’t just selling sexy photos, they’re selling an entertainment package – and basically, that entertainment is a laugh and a wank.” – to me this comment is not only bizarre, but it also indicates a strange level of denial of how treating women as objects to wank over as a form of entertainment is not ok, and is not made ok by referring to the images as ‘sexy photos’.
- “Lads don’t buy magazines,” Dapin says. ”You’re not selling them to lads, you’re selling them to middle-class, professional males who want to be more laddish than they really are.” – which speaks volumes about masculinity and its anxiety to always be seen to perform ‘masculine’ activities in order to prove it is indeed masculine, and not feminine (which would be almost as bad as being gay). It also makes it clear the type of masculinity the mags are appealing to, and also perpetuating.
- As Dapin explains, lads’ mags face the perennial problem of using sex to attract readers – without scaring high-end sponsors. “It’s hard to sell ads if clients think they’ll be polluted by pictures of women in lingerie,” he says. But putting men on the cover is not a solution. “There are only two reasons you’d do that: either you’re targeting a gay audience or you want the magazine to fold.” - there are so many things that are wrong about this excerpt! Firstly, where Dapin says ‘sex’ he actually means ‘sexual objectification of women’. Secondly, his comment about polluting ads with pictures of women in lingerie indicates his has a sub-conscious understanding of the misogynistic nature of their ‘sexy photos’ of women. Thirdly, by describing images of men as arousing homophobia and homosexuality simultaneously further indicates the anxious nature of the type of masculinity these lad mags are both capturing and perpetuating.
- Sigh, my feminist-language-analysing brain is sore now. Did that make sense to anyone??
Women creating change
Is this a new vehicle for influencing spheres that depend on undermining women’s self esteem? Is this how we can hold industries such as fashion and advertising to account for acting in ways that perpetuate gender inequality? The Man Repeller is a potential example.
On 8 March 2012, International Women’s Day, British novelist Linda Grant used her Twitter account to discuss the continuing necessity of feminism.
She received a great many responses from women describing experiences of casual and institutional sexism dating from the 1970s to the present. The tweets made a forceful and eloquent case for the continuing necessity of feminist politics and activism.
Since Twitter is an instantaneous and ephemeral medium, this site was created to serve as a permanent repository for the International Women’s Day tweets.
For further explanation of A Thousand Reaons here is an article by Linda Grant explaining why feminism is still relevant today and the way in which she chose to use Twitter to share everyone’s stories.
A few of Rachel Hills’ favourite women – what does your list look like? Share it with us on twitter, facebook or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hillary Clinton is one of my most FAVOURITE women – and here, she tells other women that they shouldn’t put up with men telling him how to run their lives!
Leading a feminist life
How to have gourmet sex in a patriarchal world! What are your thoughts ladies? How easy is it for you to create time and space for sex with your partner?
A Handy Guide on How Not to Write About Female Musicians, by Maura Johnson of the Village Voice.
Opening our feminist eyes
A post by Hugo Schwyzer about why men and women do not complete each other and that we all are able to be fully human individually.
Bitch Magazine’s Bitch Radio: Presenting Shortstacks with Audio Smut! (Plus: Sex Robots!) is a short piece piece on what sex robots (and their pop culture manifestations) actually reveal about human sexuality.
On the Box
For a fabulous, entertaining TV show with multiple female characters don’t go any further than Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (available on ABC’s iview). It’s awesome. And I’ve read all of the book too – they’re even better!
For an insight into Australian (female) politicians check out Annabel Crabb’s clever TV show – Kitchen Cabinet – which includes great frocks, engaging interviews, and cooking politicians! I LOVED the episode with Penny Wong. Also available on ABC’s iview.
American women’s sexual health
The title is pretty self-explanatory… Women Leave “Vagina Updates” On Virginia State Senator’s Facebook Page.
As does this one… All-Woman Panel Has Some Great Ideas About Men’s Sexual Health.