Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Grab Your Hashtags and Celebrate Funny Women Wednesday!

First things first! If you haven't joined Twitter yet, you need to, it's a great way to have conversations about all things ever with strangers, peeps in your job and/or hobby circle, and your beloved/bearable only on the internet friends. It's also great because with the use of hashtags (# sign) you can tag every post you make so other users can easily find the topics you're discussing. Here's a easy guide to Twitter. It will not intimidate you or get all pretentious in your face. I used it, and now I am happy. Also here's some more helpful and articulate things about hashtags.

Okay so now that you are a twitter user and sort of understand hashtags, it's good to know that there are a couple popular ones that cleverly coincide with days of the week, like #followfriday or #musicmonday. You use the former when you want your followers to follow the hip cats that you're following: "HeyHeyLouisaMay: #followfriday @heartsandstring for pop culture loving feminists." and the latter to share what songs you heart that day: "HeyHeyLouisaMay: #musicmonday "Where your eyes don't go" by They Might Be Giants."

SO in this (new) grand tradition I call on everyone to adorn Wednesdays with a new hashtag phenomenon: #funnywomenwednesday. It takes up a few extra characters, but it's worth it to show your followers, as well as Twitter searchers everywhere, women who are really fucking comical. It could be a shoutout to follow your giggle-inducing gal pal or an amusing actress you like. Also good, a link to some side splitting stand-up, or a blog written by a witty woman. Just highlight the laugh inducing ladies in your life. Everyone needs a reminder that even though Judd Apatow and crew rarely let us have the good lines, we can blithely banter with the best of 'em.

Why is this necessary? Who didn't see "I Love You, Man," and WISH that someone would have given Jamie Pressly more dialogue? And no one is looking forward to "Funny People" more than me, but even with Leslie Mann in a(nother) supporting role it's clear that the funny people helming this film (Seth Rogen, Adam Sandlar, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman) are definitely men. These boys sure know how to spin a humdinger, and I adore 'em for it, but it's clear that they aren't willing to seriously spilt their stage time with us. What's more ridiculous than that? And I don't have to tell you that there is an obnoxious rumor going around town that women aren't funny. There are more Feys, Poehlers, Wiigs, Silvermans, and Presslys out there, let's shine a spotlight on them, at least one day a week. It'd be more attention than they get now.

Not on Twitter? Then spread some love on Facebook, MySpace, or even on your own personal blog. You heard it here first kiddos, April 1st, 2009 kicks off Funny Women Wednesday, and that's no joke.

Cat + Fox + Tongue = Something You Definitely Want to See

Via Holy Cuteness Please note the creative use of The Nutcracker in the background:

Once I worked at a Metro Parks exhibit and helped look after a Fennec Fox and it was the greatest time in my life.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sham Wow Won't Clean Up EVERY Mess

TRIGGER WARNING - So the Sham Wow Guy (SWG), real name Vince Shlomi (can't tell which moniker is worse), violently beat up a sex worker last month after she bit his tongue while kissing. This is 100% awful and the extent of the violence is shocking, as the Smoking Gun reports that she sustained facial fractures and lacerations all over her face. And here's a dose of quease-inducing coincidence, the attack happened on February 7th, one day before Chris Brown brutally attacked his girlfriend Rhianna.

Somehow, though, SWG beating up a sex worker didn't make the news in the same way, only trickling out this weekend as a novelty story. All posts about it have so far seemed to be more about Sham Wow and less about how this is a serious violent crime against a woman. Why haven't we heard about this until now? Probably because common views of sex workers are that they as disposable and deserving of the violence that plagues them. Lest we forget the words of serial prostitute killer, Gary Ridgeway, "I picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing. I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught."

Severe? Sure, but reflections of this way of thinking can be seen in something as ubiquitous as the Grand Theft Auto series, during which your male character can rape and kill prostitutes. Do we all actively want or support violence against this population? Of course not, but there is a bigger question here. When it comes to sex workers, do we notice or care when these violent acts happen?

Sing It Out Sunday

Music and me are like BFF's, but I am sucktacular at writing reviews of albums, or even trying to describe how a band sounds. So that's not what's going to happen here. Basically you just need to know (if you don't already, geeze) that it's time to purchase the digital/disc/vinyl editions of the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album, It's Blitz! and the new Metric album, Fantasies. On the YYY page you only get hear their single and you also have to deal with a giant fakey-yet-still-grody eyeball background. Though on Metric's page, you get to hear a lot of the album and have the soothing image of a light bulb to gaze upon. Bottom line, both bands are fantastico and don't put out a lot of music, so hearing newness from them has been making March miraculous. If you're not currently listening to either of these dancy dancy, female led sensations, now is your chance. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Jocular Jaunt Overs: CBS Hearts Your Colon Edition

If you've been watching NCAA tournament with gusto, then you know CBS cares about your colon. So much so that they have created a contest in which the winner will be flown to New York to stay three luxurious nights a hotel and receive a stem-to-stern screening for colon cancer. Bizarre in a good-deed-weird-delivery kind of way isn't it? So as we know, all cancer is absolutely terrible and not funny, but there is a laugh to be had here, and it's lies within the PSA's CBS has created for this challenge. With a dash of terrible word play and a pinch of The Price Is Right style sweepstakes mania, these 10 different shorts are hilariously unexpected when they pop up inbetween car commericals and soda ads. Need a quick chuckle? Jaunt on over to CBS Cares page and check out the 16 second shots. Added bonus? If you're between the ages of 40-79 you can enter to win, just remeber who sent you.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Leave Your Vowels at the Door This Saturday

If you're in Ohio THIS weekend do yourself a favor and see new buckeye breakout sensations Speed Governor (affectionately known as SPD GVNR) play their very first show at the Treehouse in Columbus Saturday night. According to their MySpace page, this eerily similar trio of males fancies their music a mix of indie, rock, and post punk; citing impressive influences like Fugazi, the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr. and the Weakerthans. Is that not enough for you? Well, also at this show you can see, Via Audio, and Bicentennial Bear. What are you waiting for? Roadtrip to Columbus, Get there at 10, by some drinks, and GT RDY T RCK!

You Took the Words Outta My Mouth: Lovelle Mixon

I listened to three different stories about Lovelle Mixon on NPR today as I drove to and from work. If you are not familiar with his story yet, Mixon was shot and killed by police in Oakland California last week after he alledgedly killed 4 officers, and wounded another. Other than the tragic aspect of this story, it is noteable because it compounds the already toxic relationship between the black community and the police. It again raises many questions about what role police brutality will (continue to) play in this whole mess. Samhita over at Feministing has a great post up about this that I certainly cannot compete with:

When police officers are found to have murdered young black men, they are almost always let off the hook, they do not face life in prison and they are not then hunted and killed. This is not to suggest that the murder of cops is justified, but to ask that we look at it within the context of police brutality and the damage it has wreaked on the black community.

The power that resides in the laps of armed police officers is terrifying. Imagine living in these conditions, in the kind of world where you can be gunned down just for being young, black, male and walking down the street. This story is almost impossible to understand given dominant narratives around race, class, gender and black masculinity. It is considered OK to kill young black men, often violently. We may be outraged, but not nearly as outraged as when cops are killed.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

There's No Excuse for Voting Republican

*Thanks to Hannah

Before "Stuff White People Like" Gets Their Snarky Hands On It...Enjoy This Trailer Made Especially for You

Sometimes life hands you a movie starring John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Cathrine O'Hara, Jeff Daniels, Jim Gaffigan, Allison Janney, and Maggie Gyllenhaal and it's directed by Sam Mendes and it has animated title cards, and some soft folk music and it's about having no direction in your early 30s. And wow, you love the idea of it, but when it's clearly the hipster movie of the year (move over Juno), you are already dreading:

A) Hating it and having people ask you why constantly
B) Loving it with all with the knowledge that it was totally marketed directly to you

Here ya go...try not to become mildly obsessed with Johnny K's beard, it's only there because they knew you would love it:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Go Chase Those Snakes Outta Yer Home!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Hope everyone had an outrageously fun evening!

Blatant Self Promotion

So if I haven't called you hollering about how a blog of mine got chosen to be on the front page of Feministing, here's me telling you now. I'm very excited. It's the John Kerry post (see below) and I was hoping for a little more interesting political discourse than I have gotten in the comments so far. So if you've got something to say about Global Feminism go to my Feministing post and say it now. Otherwise I'll just have to continue the flamewar I've got going on with the PUMA who's trolling there. Also, my first blog about ANTM got linked to from one of Jessica's blogs here. It's been a good day.

Senator Kerry and the "Girl Effect"

I know it's been a few months under this new leadership, but I still get pretty bowled over when politicians publicly champion women's rights and not in a we-should-respect-women-by-not-letting-them-have-abortions-or-birth control kind of way. First our amazing new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announces that the rights of women will "always be central to our foreign policy."

Then our new President Obama creates a first ever Council on Women and Girls led by Obama's senior aid, Valerie Jarrett. Signed into law on International Women's Day March 8th, the council will, according to Jarrett, "examine all the programs at the federal level that touch on women and girls and we're going to work to coordinate and make sure that each of those programs is doing everything that it could do to help support women and girls." So awesome that it's tear inducing:

Now today, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has an excellent piece published in the Washington Times discussing the state of women and girls around the world and highlights the importance of investing in our futures. Here are his main talking points:
It's up to all of us to ensure that this economic crisis does not become a global women's crisis, too. At moments like these in developing countries, women are asked to bear the brunt of the hardship. When food is scarce, economists have found that women and girls are pressured to forgo their share altogether so that men and boys have enough to eat. In the same way, we must now make sure that women workers aren't pushed aside as businesses downsize and that daughters aren't taken out of school as families search for extra income
I find it so refreshing to hear the political discourse shift from how we should cut the rights of women globally to how to champion them instead. I am always sensitive, however, to how we discuss global women's issues as to not sound like the great western world sweeping down to save the poor eastern women from their backwards society. I think this is a great piece, though. What are your thoughts? Read the entire commentary here.

Thanks to Colin for the link

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pug Screeching "I Love You" Is Terrifyingly Cute

Who doesn't love Montel? Still, even I couldn't muster this kind guttural response. I hope this makes you laugh and doesn't give you night terrors.

I Wanna Be On Top: High Fashion, "Low Prices," Bad Taste

This cycle Tyra did not want to wait the usual two or three episodes to make over her edge-less contestants. We could barely settle into Wednesday's episode of America's Next Top Model before we were smacked in the face with a spy theme that was right out of Cheesetown USA. Tyra had totally confidential ("for fierce eyes only") new looks for all the girls, but her fake-a-roo trench coat and fedora coupled with bad Charlie's Angels style video-phone editing made the whole thing look like a big trying-too-hard-for ratings fiasco. Are girls crying at getting their hair cut no longer gimmicky enough to rope in viewers? Well if sheering girls til they sob won't do it, and Tyra's bad Carmen Sandiego impression isn't cutting it either, perhaps Wal-Mart could give a go of it.

Yep, nothing screams high fashion like Wal-Mart, that's why this week's challenge was centered around the Covergirl Wal-Mart Wall. Manufactured in an empty room because there are no Wal-Marts in NYC, some one-named make-up artist stands in front of the wall and chokes out some forced line like this, "At Wal-mart anyone can confidently personalize their own look for less." Leaving out that Wal-Mart has this "unique" ability because they don't give their worker's raises and make them work off the clock. That Covergirl wall is oh-so-affordable because their non-management workers are living thousands of dollars below the US poverty level (according to Wake-Up Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart Watch). This is a problem that could be easily fixed by raising the prices on every product half a penny.

And speaking of non-management workers, the majority of them are women! Even though they make up 72 % of Wal-Mart's total workforce, only 33 % of women get to move out from behind the cashier and become management. So glamorous! It's a good thing that Covergirl is so damn cheap because at a whopping $8.23 an hour (that's $13,861 annually folks!) the ladies of Wal-Mart aren't going to see the inside of a Sephora anytime soon. Even those lucky 33% who win a coveted upper management job are still only getting a consolation prize, according to the United Food and Commericial Workers (UFCW) "women in management positions earn nearly $5,000 per year less than men."

The girls squealed and nodded with excitement as the challengers blathered on about Wal-Mart's greatness. For all of the fits the contestants rountinely have about nothing, you'd think one or two of them could speak up about how awful (and très unfashionable) Wal-mart is. Not even the street preacher made a peep. I'm always curious how much this is the producers forcing them to go along (since Wal-Mart is clearly a sponser) or if the contestants would rather rally against a haircut than a jerky corporation. But really, it's the show's responsibility to not cater to such an unethical company. Tyra's crusade for women looks pretty shoddy if she's supporting a company that routinely holds women back. You wanna be on top? Standing on the backs of other women is not the way to get there.

Check out Tyra's Go Go Gadget Editing:

Getting pumped about Wal-Mart:

Related Story: I Wanna Be On Top: Use Your Inner Goddess to Preserve the Purity of Young Girls

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Now You'll Be Able to Afford a Hot Meal AND Your Birth Control

Huzzah! Today the Affordable Birth Control Act passed! According to RH Reality Check this new bill "will make birth control more available and affordable for women who obtain contraceptives at community health centers and college clinics." I don't know about y'all, but I can clearly remember the day I went to the health center at my undergrad gripping the 20 bucks reserved especially for my BC only to be turned away when I couldn't afford the new 50 dollar price hike.

Bush & Co. forced those of us who had previously been taking a responsible role in their reproductive health to step back and make some hard decisions. Utilities or birth control? Groceries or birth control? Books for class or birth control? It was unfair of them to put us in that position and now we will finally be able to regain our financial footing when it comes to our health. As one of the women in the video below says BC isn't just about controlling reproduction. It is often used to help skin conditions, regulate unusual periods, and deescalate the pain that comes with severe cramping (among other things). Supporting BC is an important part of supporting women's health, a nonpartisan issue that should be supported by all.

Employee Free Choice Act Introduced Today! (Expect More Mayor McCheese Sightings in the Near Future)

Mayor McCheese was strutting around in front of the White House yesterday thoughtlessly showing off his dollar sign adorned burlap sack. Not a good idea in the robber-happy District of Columbia, just today a CVS I often frequent on U st (fairly safe) got knocked off at 3'o'clock in the afternoon. Just because that bag isn't full of burgers doesn't mean you'll go unburgled, Mr. Mayor.

Though, only a few feet from this walking sideshow, is this woman with this protest sign leading me to believe that there must be something deeper going on here...

To get to the bottom of this mystery, I've garnered the help of DC union organizer, John Aho, who explains that this is indeed a deep issue. One as deep as the pockets of some of the richest, most anti-union corporations around.
Why are you looking at a picture of people with hamburgers, moneybags and cashiers in the place of their heads?It all started Monday afternoon. Lafayette Park, which is across from both the White House and the Chamber of Commerce, hosted a protest against big business’s opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act, which was introduced in congress today. Burger King, Bank of America (despite taking billions in taxpayer dollars) and Walmart are among the companies spending millions of dollars to defeat the bill (hence the silly costumes). Big Business hates the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) because it would mean extra money out of their already bulging pockets, since union workers make more money, and receive better benefits than their non-union counterparts.

The EFCA is important for many reasons, first, it fixes the current broken system of forming unions, and moves to a more level playing field for workers and management.
Second, it would allow workers to organize unions without intimidation and harassment from management. The EFCA would ban mandatory anti-union meetings and increase penalties for illegal firing of pro-union workers (which happens more than 25% of the time!). Lastly, it would force companies to bargain with their workers in good faith; and allow workers to choose whether they want their Union recognized through an election or a majority signup process.
Okay, when he says "silly costumes," I'm pretty certain he means amazing costumes. Though more importantly, unions and their members get a pretty awful rap as gangsters, thieves, or layabouts because there are more stereotypes about them in the mainstream consciousness than facts due to a huge lack of education about labor issues. Really, unions are just fighting against corporations (isn't that what we're all doing?) on behalf of workers. Workers who get screwed out of a health care, a living wage (7 bucks an hour isn't cutting it), and workplace safety (without unions you could get hurt on the job, and then fired for not performing).

Unions also make sure women get the workplace equality (like promotions!) that they deserve - this is especially helpful in traditionally male jobs like carpentry, and construction. In fact, in December a new study called Unions and Upwards Mobility for Women Workers was released with good news for women. It showed that for women, being a member of a union is "on par with having a college education." Pro women? Pro union!

So if you've have ever had a job that you wanted to not be treated like crap at, but you lacked the power to change anything, strap on that hamburger hat and grab your sack 'o' cash because now's the time to start supporting the Employee Free Choice Act.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Get Active: Sign the Petition to Overturn More Bush Bullshit!

So back in November, only weeks away from being booted out, the Bush administration put through some legislation that would keep even basic reproductive information out of the hands of patients. According to Planned Parenthood the new rule allows "almost 600,000 health care entities that receive federal funding to redefine abortion to include the most common forms of birth control — and then refuse to provide these basic services." Pretty sleazy, huh? Not to mention ridiculously dangerous.

Of course now that Obama is in office, the still-hard-to-believe-I'm-not-dreaming trend of slowly but surely fixing and reversing all the abuses of power/asshat decision making continues. Obama is looking to overturn this rule, but he needs to hear from you. Please visit the Planned Parenthood website here and sign a petition urging him and the Dept. of Health and Human Services to reverse this unethical intrusion into women bodies and lives.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Wanna Be On Top: Use Your Inner Goddess to Preserve the Purity of Young Girls

Cycle 12 of America's Next Top Model aired it's two hour premiere tonight with themes of greek goddesses and girly innocence. As someone who came within inches of getting the opportunity to strut my stuff out there, I watched transfixed with skepticism (that Rockville girl with the bad attitude took MY spot?), and wonderment (did Tyra just self identify as the Goddess of Fierce?).

The high notes of this week are mostly centered around the picking of the girls who will live in the house and becoming familiar with their characters. The notable ones include a Texan street preacher, a wide eyed girl with blood lust, the requisite "plus sized" model that looks like everyone I know, and perhaps Tyra's proudest catch, a burn survivor. Tahlia (the burn survivor) and Kortnie (the "plus sized" model) serve as the shows' underdogs and token characters that Tyra can point to so that the show can't be criticized by the mainstream as only catering to a certain body type or look.

Tyra has already bathed in self righteousness over how Tahlia is strong and needs to be given a chance by ANTM, and while she makes an attempt at comforting Tahlia when she feels othered at the runway competition, Tyra's bemoaning about how the modeling industry will either love Tahlia's scars or hate them just comes off as belittling. Tahila's personality quickly is lost on the show, and she becomes nothing more than her scars. I look forward to learning more about her (as she is one of the nicer contestants), and I hope the producers give us a chance to see her other attributes, interests, and thoughts. That being said, as always with this gray-area series, it is great that this woman has air time to talk about her story, showing viewers that she is talented, and that her burns don't make her ugly. Although, so far she has admitted that the show is making her feel "shame" about her skin and serves as a reminder for how "different" she is. Will this be a train wreck or a growing experience for the audience and the contestant? I'm eager to see how this plays out.

Secondly, the show's photo shoot has a creepy/cute focus on young girls and how they are, according to Tyra, "good girls turned bad." (bolding mine) During the shoot, there is an emphasis on what makes a good girl (pigtails and jax) and a bad girl (torn stockings, smeared make-up, and pregnancy), and Tyra can't help but allude to her talk show which has found that (gasp) "1 out of 5 girls want to be teen moms." This moral panic has, of course, turned into Tyra's personal war against the idea of "innocence and purity being lost." Which we know thanks to The New York Times and Jessica Valenti, founder of Feministing and author of the new book The Purity Myth, is a big fucking scare tatic. Not to mention how this line of thinking only targets and infantilizes girls and women. It is disempowering in refusing to acknowledge our capabilty to make our own choices, and is also slut shaming/victim blaming as it ignores the responsibility of the men needed for the sexing, raping, and baby-making. The Tyra Show website even asks "Why are so many teenaged girls pregnant?!," - we have yet to see the question, "Why are so many teen guys getting girls pregnant?" In the video clip, not one person even thinks to explain girls get pregnant "because guys have unprotected sex with them." Though, that's because, duh, it's mostly the media whoring them up and making 'em unpure. It couldn't be from the lack of safe sex education, no no no. Don't girls know we can see their dirty pillows? Cover up, or you might get preggers. Unless you're on America's Next Top Model, then get nekkid, sexy, and girly for the camera's, but only in the most pure fashionista way. Virgin/Whore Chic is totally in for Spring. Thanks Tyra, the wealth of crazy pants knowledge you bestow is priceless.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jocular Jaunt Overs: When Crime Bites Back Edition

Leave it to DC to punch a dog in the face. An anti-crime dog at that. Okay, to be fair it was half human, half dog, McGruff, who took the shot in the muzzle over the weekend. According to the DC Examiner, the officer dressed up as McGruff, the trench-coated hound that's famous for asking kids to "Take a Bite Out of Crime," was punched in the head by a misguided DC Metro bus driver who later claimed he was trying to be hilarious. Doesn't this Metro employee know that crime doesn't pay? Not even in laughter dollars, a currency that McGruff is evidently rich in since according to his website, he is "world famous for [his] sense of humor." I would lol except today I did learn that he is actually quite the jokester when I played his "How Much Crime Can You Spot" game in which he believes anyone (especially kids) has the ability to shoot at crime (like cigarettes?) as fast it it pops up the screen. The funny part is that it's impossible. To see if the joke's on me, jaunt on over to McGruff.org and try the maddening game for yourself. Try not to knock out any beloved public figures while you're at it.

UPDATE: Turns out this game is only hard when you're using a laptop touchpad...if you've got a mouse, you've got it made.