Mar 28 2011

“The media treats women like shit”

So says Margaret Cho in the trailer of “Miss Representation,” a documentary about how the media treats women like shit. This is the film I mentioned the other day wherein it is claimed that, at our current rate of reform, women will not reach parity with men for another 500 years. Here’s the trailer.

The Spinstitute for Truth and Beauty in Film has yet to screen the whole movie, but if the trailer is any indication, it includes just enough disturbing T&A (as examples, of course) to sufficiently titillate mainstream viewers. Whereupon one becomes suspicious — suspicion is the spinster aunt’s bread & butter — that it’s got a mainstream agenda. Which becomes an even stronger suspicion when it comes to light that Oprah bought the film at Sundance. Oprah’s new OWN network — I know, right? — has a documentary club, like her old book club. She’s like the anti-Warhol!

OWN is heavy on the “reality” shows and, of course, Oprah’s golden-egg-laying goose, self-improvement advice. It has a food addiction show, a couple of cooking shows, a show starring Oprah’s best not-lesbian-lover Gayle, a show about three “attractive, articulate” women OB/GYNs, a show about “miracles,” and of course, professional pseudo-doctor gasbag Dr. Phil.

And what would Oprah’s own network be without a sex advice show?

“There can be many reasons for lost libido. In this web exclusive, Dr. Berman provides some insight and counsels a 41-year-old mother who isn’t interested in sex anymore.”

Dr Berman “counsels” the 41-year-old mother to go to a doctor for a checkup, because, apparently, a lack of interest in getting pronged is a medical problem. Oy vey.

Oprah, as has been mentioned here many times, is a problematic figure. She helicopters in to Savage Death Island once in a while, and parties a little bit, but before you know it she’s back in Hollywood, wearing makeup, dieting, and shillin’ for the Man.

Thanks, Bobby, for jogging my memory


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  1. Sarah

    This is ever-so-slightly reminiscent of films that were shown during those weird “special assemblies” held in high to “raise awareness” about the dangers of eating disorders and wanting big boobs, which left female students really wanting an eating disorder and big boobs. Who knows what they left male students wanting.

  2. Sarah

    Also! “The Media” isn’t the problem, or at least, not the ONLY problem – it’s a symptom, not a cause. The media is just an easy, visible target – news and entertainment programs are FAR from the only institutions (made up of individuals) that treat women like shit. If this turns out to be a documentary that doesn’t take one institution out of context, and instead exposes the whole hairy underbelly of patriarchy, then it’d be worthwhile.

  3. ew_nc

    I’d far rather see an I Blame the Patriarchy documentary. Directed, produced and written by Jill PSmith. And perhaps the Blamers could serve as the talking head commentators.

  4. Bushfire

    What an utterly useless documentary. Who didn’t already know that the media treats women like shit? People living in caves? And with the amount of T&A in this documentary, I’m tempted to make a second film: “Miss Representation treats women like shit”.

  5. Friend of Snakes

    That’s right. Keep preaching to the choir.

    And with the amount of T&A in this documentary….

    And what percentage of the whole might that be? We don’t know, do we?

  6. TwissB

    Once again, a handful of elite women are amazed to discover that public representations of women are derogatory. And once again we are shown-and-told how demeaning it all is by women whose self presentation conforms to current fashion dictates (except for plunging necklines) for meticulous makeup, long, bleached, untethered hair or, at least a few carefully straying strands draped over the face, clothes ill-adapted to the workplace, and hands waving about in a pantomime of feminine helplessness as the speaker blurts out a melange of ain’t it awful! platitudes betraying a superficial acquaintance with feminist history or feminist analysis. And a flurry of references to “media is” showing a failure to understand that both grammatically and in fact, “media” is a plural term, and that the media are united in their visually and verbally displayed contempt for women. And, as Sarah points out, are merely a symptom of men’s general attitude toward women.

    And there it trails off into futile plaints about the impossibility of doing anything beyond showing women and girls how freely men hate them.

    What is missing is BLAME – a political explanation for behavior rooted in men’s fear of losing the male advantage conferred by excluding women from equality in the public sphere, and the inevitable loss of automatic authority in the home. Backed by a First Amendment interpretation wholly owned and operated by men, the media are free to attack women in words and pictures that both influence and reflect daily life in the real world.

    If it had included the BLAME factor (which would have guaranteed its non-acceptance by Sundance or Oprah, “Miss Representation” could be classified as “consciousness raising” and serve to inspire real action. For a refreshing reminder of how women’s consciousness raising began and developed, see on Wikipedia: http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/wlm/fem/sarachild.html#bar
    and be sure to click on links to quotes from Ernestine Rose.

  7. Lovepug

    Yawn. This is retread stuff. Nothing shocking or enlightening to advanced blamers. I can see how it might be eye-opening to a young woman who is just getting her sea legs on her journey to Savage Death Island. But for most of us old bags, this is pretty basic stuff. Bless them for trying though. And I agree with the above: the media just parrots what’s already going on in the minds of men. That’s where the real oppression lives.

    Right now I’m more outraged by the fact that I got crumbs from my corn muffin stuck in the keyboard of my brand new laptop.

    And RIP Geraldine Ferraro.

  8. TotallyDorkin

    I used to be a big fan of Margaret Cho until she completely sold out. Now she has an awful tv show about a skinny blonde hot woman trapped in the body of a fat ugly lawyer woman. It’s as awful as it sounds.

  9. Asai

    As other blamers have said, this is the same tired, useless flailing. The media doesn’t *create* the public consciousness, it reflects it. It’s akin to using a mirror to see what’s going on behind you. TURN AROUND. Also, notice that smashing that mirror won’t change the reality it shows.

  10. Ottawa Gardener

    Sarah: I was just waiting for the mention of ED or BDD ’cause I’ve seen this one before too.

    I agree that the T&A clips are all about drawing an audience as if there aren’t enough examples of patriarchy approved T&A on display that we needed to be made aware of their existence. This is not a shock-doc in that sense. Perhaps T&A is just like – insert sugary/danerous treat here – you just can’t say no?

    Besides, focusing on the visual represenations of women in the ‘media’ is women-aren’t-equal lite. It is much easier than the heavy truth it fronts.

  11. Friend of Snakes

    Show of hands please. Who amongst the Blamers has actually seen this doc?

  12. Kea

    Despite the negative comments here, I can’t wait to see the film. Probably I will be disappointed, but then I am not in the intended audience.

  13. FemmeForever

    I agree with the general consensus on the doc but I see another use for the film. It may not be a hard-hitting rad fem course but one could use it to teach uninitiated women the basics of misogyny in the culture. I could see taking a group of, say for example, Christian women to this movie, if it ever made it into the theater or inviting them over for a movie night if not, and starting the conversation about how women are treated like shit everywhere in our culture. These are women who are staunch man worshipers. It would be interesting.

  14. Nora

    My God, how boring. Though it is extra super depressing that all the T&A is included in a movie targeted at a (presumably/mostly) straight, female audience. Just so we can all rest easy knowing the Male Gaze has been invoked.

    This is such a great example of the mass media pretending to take on the mass media…using the techniques of the mass media. It puts me in mind of what Chomsky said about the two-party system:

    The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate

    in the sense that you’re free to talk about the degradation of women in the media as much as you want, given that no one challenges the cultural forces behind media representation. This imposes a really effective gridlock between feminists and the media *and* it distracts our attention from the root of the problem.

  15. Puffin

    Rosario Dawson is freaking amazing and that she is associated with this project (even if only as a talking head) sways me toward wanting to see it. But everything else about it seems pretty barfy, especially the title. I hate the title so much.

  16. Kea

    Slightly off topic, but an online doco on the history of propaganda (warning: very U.S. centric).

  17. Owly

    This documentary treats women like shit.

  18. Bushfire

    What is your point, Friend of Snakes? If we see more of the documentary, will we change our minds?

    Did you help produce it, by any chance?

  19. FemmeForever

    Has anyone seen The Duchess with Keira Knightley? It’s the best myopic I’ve ever seen on the application of misogyny against women. Of course, Hollywood made the story from the perspective of one bad dude but if you can extrapolate the behavior to all men, it’s quite great for telling like it was and is.

  20. nails

    I saw a story about this movie on a Utah new’s website awhile back. I regularly overhear conversations about how unbearable it is to view sexual images of women here, in the most liberal city in the state. There was the BYU student boycott of gold’s gym for having a window near the aerobics room and for the content of the gold’s gym channel. People are scared by that kind of thing here, they don’t go to R rated movies and they leave their film & culture class if boobs are on screen. However, they also leave tons of comments on the news stories about this movie, they say this movie is blowing everything out of proportion and of course women are taken seriously. What a mindfuck this state is.

  21. Le Chat Noir

    I saw this film at the Athena Film Festival at Barnard University. I think it is a good film for beginning blamers. It shows the T&A shots as an example of the problem with how women are represented in the media, not to titillate. It also presents a bunch of statistics about women.

    I was very glad to see this film because I just don’t see much, if at all, of a critique of media’s representation of women. It’s certainly better than Pole Dancing for Jesus.

    Also, head up for those who might be interested:

  22. Adrienne in CA

    “If we see more of the documentary, will we change our minds?”

    Can’t imagine how anyone here could know the answer to that question.

  23. Le Chat Noir

    PS. A synopsis of the film from the Film Festival site:

  24. nails

    To all the yawners out there; imagine yourself a young woman, seeing this film, and the way other young dudes will react to it. This will be an eye opener for girls who have devoted all their time to becoming fuckable. The APA’s report on the increasing sexualization of young girls shows that there needs to be counter media that is new and easy to access. I found out about the beauty myth because someone had mentioned it to me, a college dude. I don’t know that I ever would have heard of it outside of that, and its about as obvious as the stuff in this documentary, but it was new to me. Having commercials and theaters and awards over it is awesome. Just watch some disney channel for a minute to see how much worse the appearance oriented bs has gotten for young girls- they have NO role models outside of these plastic tv people who are rich and popular. I have Daria on hand as anti-disney material, but one show can only go so far.

    Also, Nora is right. I would bet anything that the films solution will involve working within the current media framework to change things, in order to achieve “equality” within the freakishly corporate world of news and entertainment. Never mind that advertisers are the real audience, and they won’t be cool with their female consumers feeling less like shit about themselves, so it won’t work. Breaking the self esteem of women sells billions of dollars of shit every year. Wasn’t it Ms magazine that had difficulty finding advertisers for that audience? Everyone either wanted to sell beauty or stuff to men.

  25. buttercup

    In other news, water is wet.

  26. Jill

    Hey Friend of Snakes, if you apply the blamer critiques to the trailer, which we have all seen, can you explain why it is such a stretch to infer, given the example in front of us, that which has been inferred? Trailers are supposed to convey the gist of their films; if they don’t, they’re crappy trailers. Based on this trailer, it is obvious to any advanced blamer that the doc is bush league stuff; if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t have made it to Sundance at all, let alone into Oprah’s stable. It could have been commissioned by the Dove Self-Esteem Fund.

    All the same, I’m a big proponent of what nails has mentioned several times lately, i.e. that proto-feminists can and do erupt from little mainstream explosions of feminism-lite. And a decade or two later, maybe they’ll roll a jaundiced eye and start a patriarchy-blaming blog.

    I know this can happen because it happened to me.

    Also, I get email every goddam day from young women who tell me they used to think Savage Death Islandism was a crock of hairy, humorless women’s studies shit, but now, after letting the patriarchy-blaming ideology simmer for a while, they’re totally pickin’ up what we’re layin’ down. You go, girls!

  27. Notorious Ph.D.

    Many of us blamers begin by vacationing on Savage Death Island, and only gradually begin to think about buying real estate, so I feel I’m in no position to judge Oprah on this score, so long as she doesn’t helicopter in and expect to be queen of the place.

  28. buttercup

    It would be a great good to womankind if Oprah became a permanent resident of Savage Death Island. Much like the fat acceptance movement would love to see her say finally once and for all that diets don’t work. We can dream, all of us.

    Savage Death Islandism took root in me about four, five years ago. An infrequent visitor, I was confused and a little frightened by what I read. Fast forward to 2011 and I consider myself an intermediate blamer at least and am the token radfem moderator on a feminist group on a crafting website, (Ravelry) laying down the blame and the revolutionary talk to feminists of all ages, types, and levels of disgust with the big P. At all times, I aim to do Jill proud. Everyone’s got tp start somewhere.

  29. buttercup

    (read to for tp, my keyboard is a mess and I am half-blind any more.)

  30. orlando

    There are many people for whom seeing T&A images collated like this, and framed as demeaning and harmful, will provide just the impetus needed to make the jump to seeing the whole from seeing them individually, scattered throughout their day, and framed as normal/sexy/just-one-picture-what’s-the-fuss. Good. Also loved hearing the voices of the school students.

  31. Asai


    As a person who only recently found Savage Death Island on the map, it possible I’m reiterating an idea that’s already been beaten to death. If so, apologies to all.

    I’ve felt from a young age that there was a schism between what I was told society was and what I actually experienced, but I didn’t have the words to express this. When I went looking for them, I found things like the video above. I ended up mired in this bull, I couldn’t find my way out. Things like the above video aren’t a misguided but well meant attempt at illustrating the problem, they actively obscure it.

  32. Comrade Svilova

    Always good to see something not virulently anti-woman from the film industry. (Says a jaded feminist filmmaker.) Let’s hope this doc introduces many a future blamer to the true state of the world.

  33. Nora

    @Asai, I don’t know if it’s been covered here before (though I would think not; I’ve been lurking for years), but I do agree with you. The answer this docu’s target audience is looking for is “globally-enforced, consumerism-codified patriarchy.” But the explanation they’ll actually get is “the media treats women like shit–look at this porn!” It’s a total smoke-screen, dressed up like corporate-friendly feminism-lite.

  34. Citizen Jane

    Bushfire said:

    Who didn’t already know that the media treats women like shit?

    Almost the entirety of Oprah’s audience. Some of you blamers might have grown up with feminism, but for those of us who grew up steeped in patriarchy, these kinds of messages were exactly the stepping stone we needed to make our way to Savage Death Island.

  35. Laughingrat

    What Citizen Jane said. People who’ve already read Andrea Dworkin and turn a jaundiced eye on mass media forget that there’s a whole lot of women out there who slog it every day in the trenches without even realizing they’re in a war.

  36. ginger

    This is not at all relevant to this post, but I wanted to know what Twisty, and various Blamers, thought about dance. Not lap dance or pole dance or other sex dance. Probably not ballet, either, just because the body politics and policing and the early-training requirements make ballet a fucking weirdie edge-case.

    But other kinds of dance, in performance and in self-expression and in joyous kitchen japery, with respect to feminism, male gaze, oppression, art and the like. (I guess dancing without witnesses doesn’t really have much to do with any social construct, so I’ll leave that aside.)

    I tried searching, to see if this has already been discussed, but “dance” got completely swamped by “lap dance” and “pole dance”, and I don’t know how to make the engine do Booleanistics.

  37. Zoe

    Speaking of that, what the hell is the butt-dance? I’ve been wondering for some time now, Twisty.

  38. Friend of Snakes

    What is your point, Friend of Snakes? If we see more of the documentary, will we change our minds?

    Did you help produce it, by any chance?

    I thought my point was obvious: Who critiques something based on reading/hearing/seeing one or two percent of it?

    But, anyway, I’m gobsmacked by the rush to la de da it over what looks like a pretty decent piece of work. I may not rush right out to see it, but then, I already get it. It’s just too depressing to hear what should be supportive voices around these parts essentially making fun of the potential audience for it.

  39. Darragh Murphy

    The perfection of “joyous kitchen japery” was almost surpassed by “make the engine do Booleanistics.”

    Regarding dancing, I was just doing some joyous kitchen japery with my 10 year old a few hours ago, as we are wont to do, and every time we do goofy dancing together I’m surprised at how joyous it actually is. And bonding. We get a heck of a kick out of each other.

    A philosophy professor told us that the root of dancing is men marching through the forest (or across the savannah or whatever) on the hunt and doing rhythmic walking, whether for spontaneous fun or for communication or what he didn’t say, and that these “steps” would be repeated around the campfire as a sort of morse code remembrance of the hunting experience the men had shared; also as a way, perhaps, of mapping the hunt and the environs for future hunters. And so a particularly great hunt, in which lotsa good meat had been killed, would be reenacted with a dance that mimicked the actual steps of the hunt.

    Maybe so. A likely story as far as I’m concerned.

    Seems to me a million other possible human interactions could have perhaps simultaneously generated, like butterflies on flowers or flies on dead meat, to become what we think of as “dance” in modern civilization. Current, vulgar, pornified and paltry approximations of human dance cannot come CLOSE to what you are talking about, ginger.

    And most of the probable roots of dance I can think of hark back to mothers and babies. (Funny, isn’t it, how men have only one model for their evo-bio-geno-anthro-history and science: MEAT MEAT HUNT HUNT KILL.)

    Such as: the “You’ve Fallen Down But You Gotta Get Back Up And Stumble Around Some More If You Want To Learn How to Walk Dance.” and the “We Are Saying Silly Things to Each Other As We Work Because A Lot of This Stuff Is Very Repetitive And We Need To Pass the Time and Remember the Patterns of the Work Dance.” And the “Peek-A-Boo Dance,” and the “Hop Scotch Dance,” which has an uncountable number of variations in games mothers teach children. What about the dance we do when we teach children to swim? And the one where we teach them to fold, cook, knit?

    All the way up to the “Itsy Bitsy Spider Dance, the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” and the “Hokey Pokey.”

    Women DO dancing. Just like we DO singing. Dancing was probably just another way to teach children. A physical manifestation of words and thoughts because mothers probably innately understood that children need to hear/see/understand new concepts in as many ways as possible.

    I can’t sing, and I can’t dance. I’m terrible at both, in the formal sense. But it doesn’t matter. I still do it!

    So, yeah, the male gaze effs everything up, and “performance” in the professional, modern senses of the word is hopelessly compromised by P and capitalism; but as you already said, when you are dancing “without witnesses” you are free from Patriarchal constructs and invisible to the male gaze. Like my 10 yr old and me.

    But that doesn’t mean you are alone. You are with all the rest of us in the kitchen, japing joyously.

  40. TotallyDorkin

    So the essential man didn’t create dance, the essential woman did?

  41. Darragh Murphy

    Not sure. Are you?

    My opinion is that women most likely invented/created dance, or at least added music to it to expand it.

    What’s your opinion on dance?

  42. Darragh Murphy

    p.s. What is the “essential” woman or man? I assume you are referring to the essentialism of “women” in my comment bc of an implied basis of woman as mother.

    Women ARE mothers. It is hopelessly post 1970’s, wealthy USA/Europe of you to believe otherwise.

    Look at the 2+ billion women JillP alluded to earlier. Look at our anthropological history. Are we privileged, health-insured, educated, employed FEW women who can actually PLAN parenthood or not-parenthood bound to that mother-fate as PREDESTINATION? No, of course not. And bully for us.

    And bully for you for your theory. It exists in the ether.

  43. TwissB

    Excuse me while I try a little experiment here to try to get past whatever it was that stuck in moderation’s craw.

    @nails – “Wasn’t it MS Magazine that had difficulty finding advertisers for that audience?”

    Not anymore. The current issue carries at least the third article cheerleading for p…..tion as a viable employment option for women if we can just get our more enlightened politicians to do something about getting rid of the crummy working conditions and all that pesky slashing, strangling, branding with lighted cigarettes, rape, murder, and mayhem that sometimes spoil the fun of giving the customer what he wants. This editorial shift (thank you, Editor Ellie Smeal) should bring MS a whole new class of advertisers and readers.

  44. Darragh Murphy

    It’s Patriarchy that degrades motherhood, not human life. Not human evolution. That enlightened women, lesbians and straight, have eschewed interaction with men and refuse to procreate as a result, is totally dorkin! But that doesnt change the past. Or the present for 7 out of 10 women.

  45. nails

    Did dance need to be invented? It seems to come naturally to young children. I am not certain music is a phenomenon that needed to be invented either, since so many cultures had it on their own without hearing about the other ones. It might work just like language.

  46. ginger

    Specific questions: So does wiggling your body about to glorify and complement music you enjoy, in front of an audience, have anything to do with gender performance? What if you wiggle sexually significant bits? What if you decorate those bits with fripperies and noisemakers to call attention to them? What if the audience is mainly female? Mainly male? Mainly children? What if your body falls outside standard beauty norms?

    (I’ve been dancing for a while. My whole life, informally, in fits and starts formally. Dancing gives my brain time off except to think things like “Why the hell can’t I move my elbow without moving my hand? Damn it, stay put, hand.” This gives me lots of time to come up with questions.)

  47. Kea

    I can believe that music and dance is innate. On a few occasions, for instance, I communicated with a local parrot by singing a few notes, and waiting for it to sing a few in return. And we kept doing it for about 10 rounds, so there was no doubt whatsoever that the parrot was singing with me.

  48. Kea

    See Snowball, the dancing parrot.

  49. katrina

    Snowball is a cockatoo, not a parrot.

  50. Kea

    Well, the parrot definition is debatable. I did grow up in Australia, so I know what a cockatoo is, but when I post on an international blog I don’t assume that all the other readers do.

  51. Metal teapot

    [quote]Men ARE fathers. It is hopelessly post 1970’s, wealthy USA/Europe of you to believe otherwise.

    Look at the 2+ billion men Jill P alluded to earlier. Look at our anthropological history. Are we privileged, health-insured, educated, employed FEW men who can actually PLAN parenthood or not-parenthood bound to that father-fate as PREDESTINATION? No, of course not. And bully for us.

    And bully for you for your theory. It exists in the ether.[\quote]

  52. Comrade Svilova

    Given that history always wants to claim MALES INVENTED EVERYTHING when bonobos show us that females are as likely to invent things, it makes sense to argue the reasons why it is at least equally likely that women/mothers invented dance. The hunting-men-create-everything-of-value meme is so tired.

  53. Darragh Murphy

    Exactly right, metal teapot. Men ARE fathers. But as a class, men aren’t oppressed, so the work they do as fathers, the stuff they invent, develop, and pass on (mostly to their sons of course) is not demeaned. In fact the stuff they do as fathers is codified, naturalized, taken for granted as obvious, and glorified.

    They even invented a word for it. Patriarchy.

    Only mothers and motherhood are degraded by the system of P.

  54. Michele

    I thought the previous post, “Incisive blamer commentary clippets of the day” might be the trailer from Twisty’s own response documentary. Which should absolutely be made! Real women talking about real patriarchy. Gratuitous T&A not included. Rated W for Women. May not be appropriate for closed minds…

  55. Lovepug

    Against my normal aversion to posting twice on the same thread, I wanted to pass on this burst of medium from TED as it follows the tangent of how young women become introduced to feminism (I didn’t mean to entirely diss the documentary. I’m just clearly not the audience for it).


    I thought the talk was nice; she speaks well and uses a lot of humor. But as usual, the comments are instantly derailed by some dude whining about how leftist TED has become and Huffington Post deletes his comments. Late some other dude disses Jessica Valenti for suggest that we believe women who say they’re raped. IBTP.

  56. allhellsloose

    What Asai @ 6.59 and Nora @7.22 (03/28/11) said.

    “Corporate-friendly feminism lite” translates for me as crumbs from the table. However, given the micro diets young women seem to feed themselves on these days, I’d say it pretty much covers its target audience.

    Me, I like my wine full bodied and my food to cover the plate.

  57. TotallyDorkin

    I don’t have an opinion on how “dance” developed. I don’t know enough about it, and I’m not willing to make something up off the top of my head that “makes sense” because there is rarely truth in “common sense” historical theories, especially in the area of evolutionary human behavior.

    Music and dance are so radically different around the world, that it’s hard to discuss the basis for the concept. You want to say dance is movement to music? What is music? What kind of movement?

  58. Jill

    As riveting as this dancing discussion is, it constitutes a significant departure from the original topic. I think you all know where I’m going with this.

  59. Ashley

    Four points:

    1) I’ll take a media baron who visits Savage Death Island once in a while over one who actively tries to bomb it (that is, all the ones who are not Oprah).

    2) People who oppose kyriarchy are idealists. This is good. But idealism has a nasty side effect of utterly incapacitating perfectionism sometimes. Being incapacitated is not useful to the revolution. Past revolution has shown that the process is not a complete, sudden change ushered in by perfectly perfect activists who have all their theory just right and also never did anything counterrevolutionary, hypocritical, lazy, or mean, and also flossed every day. It’s just a messy process undertaken by imperfect people who are still learning. Like us!

    3) Sometimes, if you spend a while on Savage Death Island, you forget that a lot of people still live in East Bumblefuck (my hometown). To the people of East Bumblefuck, this documentary is mind-blowingly radical. It has just enough people who don’t scare the hell out of them to keep them from changing the channel immediately.

    4) The film includes an interview with a woman who encouraged me to build a grassroots anti-rape movement utilizing civil disobedience when I was in college. So I’m thinking it can’t be all bad.

  60. magriff

    Jean Kilbourne did it first, best, and more concisely, in this WS 101 staple: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1993368502337678412#

  61. Gayle

    Having finally seen the trailer, I have to disagree with the majority here. This may well prove to be a good primer for newbie feminists and others who don’t (yet) associate with feminism.

    Yeah, the opening images of the trailer are pornified, but they are presented as a problem. Fact is, there are a hell of a lot of women out there who don’t even see those images as problematic yet. Hopefully, this will open some eyes.

  62. Amelia

    That’s my hope too and I hate to criticise any feminist trying to get the message out about the harms of advertising and male stream media. But I can’t help wondering if the presentation of more T &A is effective.

    Watching the trailer and the Jean Kilbourne vid, makes me feel validated and I smile through the tears at the strength of these women, I still come away with a feeling of disgust and self loathing after watching image after image of degraded, objectified women. The fetid juices of the patriarchy leave a lingering stench and the power of it’s force swallows any visual expose with a knowing ha ha! Hence, “ironically” misogynist ads, tv shows. A more effective tool, and I’ve seen a link posted to a great visual essay here before is the switcheroo. Placing men in the same degraded poses etc. Mock media sites questioning male politician’s p2k compliance. No need for more T& A. I’d love to see more of that. Take that patriarchy

  63. spleen

    Hmm, interesting analysis as usual however I humbly admit to not being entirely sure what is meant by calling Oprah the anti-warhol here. Well obviously there are loads of differences between the two, by *anti*? They’re both mainstream Democrats, so they unfortunately have that in common. Both of ’em are star-fuhkers too as this entry points out. Warhol more so.
    Anyway, I think progress for the treatment of women is slow but inevitable in our society and will continue in America…until world war 3, another truly great depression, mega-natural disaster like a global pandemic or who knows. Really the species is probably screwed, I think. We’ll it isn’t polishing brass on the Titanic to rage against the innumerable injustices of this insane world and attempt to alleviate pain for people today. Of course!

  64. Owly

    I know the topic of dancing is off limits now, but is there any possible way you could post instructions on how to do the Butt Dance? It sounds fantastic.

  65. Metal teapot

    Darragh I dislike the statement “women are mothers” because it erases their identity as people in their own right. I know I come from a privileged background to have access to contraception, however I think you argument implies that women not offered this privilege have no desire for it. I think we are lucky to escape having to be mothers if we don’t want to, but I think control over how many children they had and when is something most women would want. I don’t mean to imply that all women would choose not to have children but that most women would benefit from being able to control how many children they had and when, so they could afford to do what they wanted for those children.

    I’m not sure if this is anti-feminist but within limits I’m not completely against the media telling women they will be judged for how they look. It obviously has to be done carefully, however I don’t like this form of “political correctness” where we have to claim equality exists. There is a difficult balance between reflecting and creating prejudice, however it strikes me as reasonably important to let people know what they will face in the real world. That way women can make an informed decision on how they present themselves given what they know about expectations. It is hard to find a balance between reporting prejudice, and enabling that prejudice, it just strikes me that for an individual entering the world, knowing how people will judge you beforehand means you are less likely to feel there is something wrong with you. Forewarned is forearmed.

  66. speedbudget

    Owly: This is how you do the butt dance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFqtye2_3E4

    I really liked the Courtney Martin talk. It really hit home how she talked about intractable systems and our ability to humanize them from the inside. It’s what I feel like I’m doing every day.

  67. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    One of my favorite Opportunities for Blaming arises when someone holds up Oprah as a shining example of earning parity among men and women. R-i-i-i-ght.

  68. Lady K

    I’ve always felt that that representation of the butt-dance was especially perfect – it mirrors one’s journey into feminism. First, this creature finds themselves with a pair of breasts. Although initially overjoyed by the prospect of somehow meeting the impossible standards of the Patriarchy, they quickly realize something is missing, and eschew the trappings of “femininity,” for what is clearly the nectar of life’s rich banquet: butt-dancing.

  69. niki

    ‘Women ARE mothers’? I beg to differ.

    Don’t drag the rest of us into your generalization, please. There’s hardly anything I hate more than hearing myself associated with maternity, literally or metaphorically.

  70. niki

    Here is where we all swan dive into that great ‘enjoy your privilege, privileged person!’ pea soup that further serves to divide feminine rage into factions of uselessness.

    It fucking sucks that y’all were forced into motherhood (if indeed you were) by the Patriarchy. If you weren’t, and you like motherhood, good on ya as well.

  71. Solniger

    I hope this documentary talks about the victim blaming that occurs in the media when reporting rape cases. I’m not going to hold my breath but I would be mightily impressed if they did.
    Speaking of which, there is an event in sunny Toronto on Sunday at 1:30 called SlutWalk. It was concieved because a cop gave a lecture to a group of women at Osgoode Hall Law School on avoiding rape and said that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised.” Classic.

    here’s a link:

  72. EmilyBites

    Jesus H., speedbudget, I laughed like a child at that video. In-fucking-credible.

  73. NomNomNom

    If this pitiful trailer is the level of what newbie feminists can psych themselves up for, then we are are all doomed.

    The idea that it’s somehow a “post 1970’s, wealthy USA/Europe” decision to not have unwanted babies is absurd, because women— some of whom are mothers and some of whom are not— have been aborting unwanted fetii since they first freaking figured out how.

  74. tinfoil hattie

    The western world indeed enjoys the unusual privilege of choosing non-motherhood. The majority of the world? Not so much.

  75. Bushfire

    Speaking of which, there is an event in sunny Toronto on Sunday at 1:30 called SlutWalk

    Yeah Slutwalk! I am SO looking forward to it.

  76. niki

    After explaining my ‘unusual’ unmarried/unchild-ed status to my students from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, most of them initially go through a phase where they either feel sorry for me because I am obviously cursed or they think I’m a lesbian.

    Then, almost universally, they tell me I made a wise decision. Men and women alike.

    They also tell me that it’s not so ‘unusual’ in their respective countries anymore for women to make these decisions. I suppose these particular folks are rich enough to come to the U.S. and study so they’re not suffering under the forced motherhood of poverty, but I do believe things are a’changing all around.

  77. Shelly

    Metal teapot:
    it strikes me as reasonably important to let people know what they will face in the real world.

    There is not a woman on Earth who doesn’t already know what they are facing in the real world. That’s the main function of the Patriarchy, after all, and *none* of us gets the luxury of escaping it. So no, women do not need the media or you or anyone else telling us how we should look, thankyouverymuch. And anyway, no matter how hard we try to conform and to appease the P, we’re all doing it wrong and will be punished for transgressing. It’s as inevitable as breathing.

  78. nails

    I didn’t know as a young woman, shelly. I knew about times that guys treated me like shit, but I had heard so much about how if you just work hard you can get anywhere and I had been “one of the guys” before so it took awhile before I understood what I was really up against. There are grown women who think feminism is just losers whining because they didn’t get as far. Everyone finds out eventually, sure, but the sooner, the better.

  79. Lady K

    Those of you continuing to say that such a documentary is so ridiculous and the fact that people need to be helped along this far means we’re doomed: could you be more unnecessarily fatalistic? I can imagine this sort of documentary being particularly helpful if you, like me, are a girl who grew up in one of the many, many sheltered and homogenous suburbs/rural communities. I think that all my life I could have been turned on to feminism, but since I was surrounded by nothing but hard-headed white yokels who all attended the same two churches and all agreed with each other, I wasn’t exposed to any opinion more radical than all that MRA bullshit. You know, “feminism has done its job,” “I think that equality is good but feminists seem like they want women to be superior,” etc, etc. And in my high school with 500 other girls I was considered one of the more radical ones on this front. But that was only maybe five years ago, and now I’ve got a beach chair parked on Savage Death Island!

    Media like this (and, as much as I hate to say it, stuff like that ridiculous “Dove Self-Esteem Fund”) are what turned me on to feminism in the first place. I mean, y’all keep sayin’ how insidious the P is – are you really surprised that this would be eye-opening, particularly for young women who have lived their whole lives in what amounts to a constant media shitstorm of “Okay, kids, feminism is over, let’s get back to living normal lives!” That doesn’t mean all hope is lost.

  80. Solniger

    March 31, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Speaking of which, there is an event in sunny Toronto on Sunday at 1:30 called SlutWalk

    Yeah Slutwalk! I am SO looking forward to it.

    ok I admit the name is unfortunate but it is in direct protest to the use of the word by a law enforcement agent. They are not calling for people to come out in their undies, they are asking the to come out in whatever they wear on a daily basis.

  81. Shelly


    You didn’t know that other people had opinions about the way you looked, and that those opinions–because they were held by people in power (though you may not have sussed *that* part yet)–had an impact on your life? My niece was already figuring that out when she was, like, two years old. She’s finally outgrowing the sparkle princess phase, but she’s not out of the woods yet.

  82. tinfoil hattie

    I do believe things are a’changing all around.

    I will cling to your experience as a slim ray of hope in otherwise dark patriarchal times.

    You didn’t know that other people had opinions about the way you looked,

    Shelly, I KNOW you are not blaming nails for her lack of instant immunity to patriarchy as soon as she was born. I KNOW you are blaming the P. Right?

  83. Shelly

    Absolutely! I blame the P. Always and forevermore.

    I’m just saying that there is no escaping the Patriarchy, even if you are oblivious to it. Even if it’s your best, most well meaning friend telling you to put on a bra so you don’t offend others. Even if it’s the voice inside your own freaking head telling you not to eat tasty snack cake because your butt already looks too fat. The goddamn P. We’re soaking in it.

  84. NomNomNom

    “The western world indeed enjoys the unusual privilege of choosing non-motherhood. The majority of the world? Not so much.”

  85. tinfoil hattie

    Well, in places like Darfur and Congo, where the war weapon of choice is rape, and in places where women are legal property of men (Saudi Arabia, any place under Taliban rule), there’s not a lot of choice.


  86. tinfoil hattie

    The goddamn P. We’re soaking in it.

    “Madge” was more right than she knew.

  87. Le Chat Noir

    June 25-30 in Boston. Anyone else going to this?:

    Stop Porn Culture

    June 25-26
    Radical Feminist Seminar

    June 27-28
    Wheelock Media Institute

    June 29-30
    Stop Porn Culture Slideshow Training

  88. Jodie

    I don’t understand why people want to lump “mothers” all together as a group. It’s merely one of the hats that some women might wear during their lifetime. Those that wear it may not have much in common with others that do, and probably no two women have approached the role the same way.

    We might as well lump all humans together in the “children” box. We all were children once, but it doesn’t mean that we have much in common with any other random child, or that our experiences were the same as any other child’s.

  89. Jill

    But have you forgotten that motherhood, like anything else that women do, is “unique”?

  90. NomNomNom

    You appear to have scaled back your claim of abortion occurring commonly only in “the western world” to only not occurring in African warzones and Islamic majority nations. If you had bothered to look at the links you would know that of the 5 nations that prohibit all abortions even to save the mother’s life: El Salvador, Malta, Nicaragua, Timor-Leste, and Vatican City, they are all Catholic and 2 are European. [Here http://www.pregnantpause.org/lex/world02.htm is another link that states instead that Nicaragua allows abortion but only to save the life of the mother, but Chile does not allow abortion even in this instance]. There appears presently no Islamic nation that does not permit at least some abortion.
    about Sudan: http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/abortion/doc/sudan.doc http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maputo_Protocol
    about the Democratic Republic of Congo:
    http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/abortion/doc/congos1.doc http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/article.cfm?id=1836
    about Rwanda: http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/abortion/doc/rwanda.doc http://allafrica.com/stories/200907310051.html
    None of these countries is as permissive as the US, or Eastern & Scandinavian Europe, it’s true, but they are all on par or more tolerant than the majority of South America and the more socially conservative European countries. Bahrain is as tolerant as Belgium; the Dominican Republic is as restrictive as Niger. Bangladesh is a little more tolerant that the Czech Republic, France is a little less tolerant than Albania; North Korea is substantially more tolerant than the United Kingdom (which does not allow abortion in the cases of rape or incest).
    I remember when Roe v Wade became law, and I am not old. I remember when the last state in the US made it illegal for a man to rape his wife. It was here in my own state of NC, and it happened in 1993.
    I might also note that the US “government” has installed a good many of these thuggish world leaders, and assists others to stay in power via our wars and weaponry. So I couldn’t exactly say we’re some kind of freaking example to follow either.

  91. tinfoil hattie

    “Mothers,” as a group, are expoloited, abused, neglected, scorned, and otherwise treated as dung. So, not unique after all.

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