Feminist Friday: Privilege

Privilege: a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.

Privilege is a topic that is often mentioned in discussions of racial issues and gender based discrimination. But what exactly does it mean to be privileged and have privilege? I watched this video earlier in the week and I wanted to share it with you all.

This video helps understand what privilege is in a visual manner. It’s heartbreaking to see some people ahead of others. Privilege is measurable and is mostly unearned and unappreciated.

What kinds of privileges do you have? Take this quiz and  (if you’re comfortable doing so) let me know where you score. I fall under the “quite privileged” category with 72 points of 100. What did you score?

Feminist Friday: Feminist Disney Movies?

Since last week’s post was a little heavy, I decided to lighten it up a little bit with today’s post. Remember a few weeks back when I mentioned that I absolutely love Buzzfeed? Well, I really do, and when they post articles like this, that love just grows stronger.

I grew up on Disney Channel Original Movies, so when a friend sent me a link to a post that Priya Krishna and Kate Taylor at Buzzfeed wrote entitled, “50 Disney Channel Original Movies, Ranked By Feminism” I knew I would love it. I think my favorite one in the list is probably “Kim Possible: So The Drama”, because Kim is a bad*** and, well, Ron is adorable. Which movie on the list was your favorite?

Top Eleven Things: Sometime in June Edition

Farts.

I was going to publish a  post or two this week, but things piled up, and now I don’t have time. I’m overdue for one of these lists, anyway. Some of these might end up as bigger posts later on, in a perfect world I guess. Enjoy.

11. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

This is basically a guidebook to comic book criticism, and it is a must-read for anyone who is even vaguely interested in comics, art, literature, movies, looking at things, using a brain, etc.

10. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Yeah, this is my summertime album for real.

9. Halt and Catch Fire

When  Mad Men ended, I was like, I want more of this, but skip the seventies and make it about computers. Lo and behold, AMC was way ahead of me.

8. The theme song from The Adventures of Pete and Pete

This is the most infectious earworm I’ve encountered. I think it has been stuck in my head since 1995, and it gets uncontrollably more pronounced each day. I still don’t mind, because it’s such a great song. However, in my early twenties I made the mistake of looking up the real lyrics (or at least, what someone on the internet assumes are the real lyrics) and that’s when I became a grown up. I wish I could have just stayed in Wellsville.

7. The Star Wars ring theory

This is a daunting read, but really worth it. I take issue with the author insisting that this structure is so groundbreaking that is redeems George Lucas eternally or whatever, because it doesn’t, and the prequels still suck. In fact, I think some of things are partly to blame.

6. Rob Ager’s Shining analysis

Ager has a great YouTube channel dedicated to film essays, and they’re usually pretty enlightening. Though his recent Star Wars plotholes series is kind of nitpicky. Anyway, he released another video about The Shining which brings up an important point the documentary Room 237, a film I absolutely love, by the way. But the film does faultily give equal credence to every interpretation of Kubrick’s Shining that are out there, but some of them are a bit more significant than others. And, unfortunately, the one that is the least plausible is the one that everyone always talks about.

5. A good pair of headphones

I just can’t seem to get my hands on one.

4. Marriage equality in Ireland

Fair play to ye.

3. Marc Maron’s interview with Terry Gross

I’ve been listening to Maron since the early days of WTF, and I think listening for that long brings a perspective on his work that’s impossible to understand if you jump in now or any time in the last three years or so. His interview with Terry Gross is truly a landmark for his podcast, and hearing his satisfaction is delightful. And well-deserved, because this is one of the best performances he’s given as an interviewer, interviewing perhaps the greatest interviewer in radio.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road

Of course. It’s one of those films, man.

1. Father Ted Island

Ok, there’s actually no such place, but last week I went to Inisheer, the island that can be seen in the opening credits of Father Ted. It’s the greatest Irish TV show ever, and the island was perfectly quaint and beautiful, even if the boat ride made me unbearably nauseous.

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Standing in front of the MV Plassey, a ship that wrecked on Inisheer in 1960, carrying Irish whiskey and yarn. Below, the Plassey from the opening credits of Father Ted.

Feminist Friday: How To Be A Better Trans Ally

This has been an interesting week for me. My Facebook feed has been inundated with posts about Caitlyn Jenner and her transformation. I have friends who think she’s a hero and I have “friends” who think she’s a “representation of everything that is wrong with this country”. I am a cis-gender individual. I have no idea what it’s like to feel uncomfortable in my own skin because the gender I was assigned at birth doesn’t match the way I feel inside. I don’t know what it’s like to have to hide my true identity for fear of being attacked and possibly killed.

What I do know, is that everyone deserves respect and love. Everyone deserves to feel like their life has meaning and that they are important. Everyone deserves to live an authentic life.

I strongly encourage you all to read this excellent article by my most favorite Feminist website, Everyday Feminism, “10 Things Trans Activists and Allies Need to Remember That Have Nothing to Do With Caitlyn Jenner”. Learn how to be a better ally, teach others how to do the same. At the end of the day, go intersectional or go home.

Feminist Friday: Empowering or objectifying?

I’ve often wondered how to tell if something is objectifying women or empowering them. Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between the two. I recently came across this article for Everyday Feminism called, “How Can You Tell if You’re Being Sexually Empowered or Objectified? Ask Yourself This Simple Question“. The verdict? It all hinges on who has the power in any given situation. The article is mainly comprised of a short comic explaining the difference between objectification and empowerment. I’d encourage you all to read it and let me know what you think in the comments.

Feminist Friday: My Top Five Favorite Feminists

I like making lists. Grocery lists, favorite movies, a summer bucket list, my favorite types of macaroni and cheese, you name it, if I’m interested in it, I’ve probably written a list that quantifies it in some way. This week, you get to peek into my brain space and find out who my top five favorite Feminists are. Ready, GO!

1. Sylvia Plath

Let’s face it, I was an English major. Books and literature and authors are my lifeblood. Before I even identified as a Feminist I knew I loved Sylvia Plath and her poetry. Plath was a modern American, Feminist, confessional poet and novelist who committed suicide in 1963 when she was only 30 years old. Sylvia suffered from depression for a good chunk of her life and it is definitely reflected in her poetry. I first discovered Plath’s poetry during a Summer course I took at Southern Virginia University called “Modern American Poetry”. I was struck by Plath’s honest, at times shocking writing. The way she wrote about her family, her relationship with her father, her thoughts of life and death, I loved all of it. By choosing to write poetry that was raw and, at times, harsh, Plath cemented herself as a strong female writer and helped lay down the path for others to follow.

2. Laverne Cox

Laverne is amazing. She is a star in the amazing Netflix original series, “Orange Is the New Black”, an advocate for trans rights, a producer, an amazing public speaker, the list goes on and on. Here’s a short excerpt from her personal website talking about one of the many projects she has worked on.

Her documentary Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word aired on MTV & Logo to impressive ratings. The hour-long documentary explored the lives seven transgender youth from across the country and their determination to lead their lives as the people they are meant to be. Laverne was the host and executive producer of the ground breaking documentary which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award.

Laverne is also producing another documentary titled Free CeCe in order to heighten visibility and awareness surrounding CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman who was controversially sentenced to 41 months in prison for second degree manslaughter after allegedly defending herself against a racist and transphobic attack. The documentary will focus on McDonald’s case, her experiences while incarcerated in a men’s prison and the larger implications of her case for the transgender community.

She is truly amazing and I can’t wait to see how many more wonderful things she accomplishes…also, I can’t wait to watch season three of OITNB because I know she will be fabulous.

3. bell hooks

bell hooks is actually the pen name for Gloria Jean Watkins “an American author, feminist, and social activist. Watkins derived the name “bell hooks” from that of her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. Her writing has focused on the interconnectivity of race, capitalism, and gender, and what she describes as their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and class domination. She has published over thirty books and numerous scholarly and mainstream articles, appeared in several documentary films, and participated in various public lectures. Primarily through a postmodern perspective, hooks has addressed race, class, and gender in education, art, history, sexuality, mass media, and feminism.” (Thanks Wikipedia for such a concise introductory bio!)

I have loved everything I have ever read that she has authored and I have a personal goal to read her book “All About Love: New Visions” before the end of the year!

4. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Do I even have to elaborate on why The Notorious RBG is amazing? She’s an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, she has battled cancer, she is a fierce advocate for women’s rights, she was a volunteer lawyer for the ACLU and was on it’s board of director in the 1970’s, and she has an extensive jabot collection, what’s not to love!  I’m so excited for her biography to come out in October.

5. Amy Poehler

Not only is Amy Poehler hilarious and talented, she is also a very outspoken Feminist. As the star of the TV show, “Parks and Rec” a cast member on Saturday Night Live and the creator of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, she has a lot of accomplishments under her belt. Amy encourages girls and women to step up, be assertive and take control. I truly love her and her sense of humor. Also, how can I not love someone who is best buddies with Tina Fey!

Who are some of your favorite Feminists?

What Happens When You Buy The World A Coke

I cannot get the ending of Mad Men out of my head, man.

There is surprisingly no consensus on what really happened, and even less so over the tone of the finale. There is somewhat of a neat divide over what kind of future the show leaves for Don Draper. Is it a cynical inversion of human emotion fitted to capitalism? Or a triumph of Don’s creativity and humanity? I think it’s both, but more on that later.

This whole last season really threw me, and I started picking up on what exactly has drawn me to this show in the first place. When it first landed on Netflix, I watched the first few seasons in a very steady pattern; alone, in the dark, after long days of studying and delivering pizzas. It was escapism, for me, living as far from the glamour of 1960s New York City as possible. I didn’t always get it, but I consumed it like a sweet-toothed caffeine addict consumes cans of Coke.

In fact, I think it was the first TV series I really started looking at critically. Those nights of binging on the exploits of Sterling Cooper coincided with my internship for Under the Radar, and with the prospect of reviewing TV and music for a major publication looming on the horizon, I needed to start sinking my teeth into scripted drama. I discovered that Mad Men was rich with meaning, symbolism, and just amazingly complex moments.

But for some reason it was always a show I couldn’t explain, even to myself. If I wasn’t watching it, I could never remember why it appealed to me in the first place. But then I’d put it on and remember just how satisfying a world Matthew Weiner created.

Back to the ending. The simplest way for me to digest what the final moments really mean is as an objective viewer. Meaning, I don’t think it is necessary to speculate much on whether or not Don found peace or squandered his humanity for capitalism, or whether he wrote the ad at all. I think it is fairly obvious that Don conceived of the famous Coca-Cola ad during meditation, and his state of mind is, at least in that moment of conception, completely at ease and in balance with nature.

Which, is exactly right. Because as much as we spent the last seven years trying to understand the kind of man Don Draper is, that moment is really the final revelation. He is an artist for hire. That is his purpose, his zen, the end.

My other big takeaway from that moment, though, is that it signifies a bigger global change that we’re still grappling with in modern day reality. Don’s submersion into hippie ideals turns out to be no different than his day-to-day among corporate ad agencies. In the end, they’re both selling an idea. Don’s epiphany is the moment that brings them together. Global idealism and pragmatic capitalism. The birth of post-modern consumerism.

That’s the death of the sixties, isn’t it? When the suits twisted the values of counterculture into for-profit mechanisms, everything got mixed up and truth and art and lies all bled together. It started with Coca-Cola broadcasting a feel-good jingle about global solidarity with a diverse cast on a sunny hilltop in Italy, and now it’s Tom’s promising a new pair of shoes for third world countries with every pair purchased, it’s Starbucks’ charitable foundations, the Ronald McDonald Foundation, etc. These are all marketing disguised as altruistic responsibility. It’s still a lie, just like all the lies that Don Draper concocted over the years. Only, before “I’d Like to Buy The World A Coke,” companies didn’t have to worry about grand statements of global unity and social responsibility, they just had to sell you a product. Which method is more honest?

Mad Men was always about change. The setting of the ’60s heightened the elements of change, while it’s main protagonist seemed impervious to the shifting tides. He was stuck in the past, in nostalgia, and never quite grasped what the undercurrent of counterculture was trying to accomplish. Until he does, and his response is to adopt the aesthetic of anti-capitalism means for a capitalist end.

A lot of people have pointed out the opening theme as a perfect summation of how the show ended. It always looked like Don was going to jump to his death, but of course, he didn’t, in fact, the opening always ends with him back on the couch like nothing happened.

Because Don is a survivor. He spent the sixties lost in the chaos of social change and personal meaning, but after all is said and done he just adapts. But because of who he is, and what he represents, his adaptation changes the landscape of corporate culture, globalism, consumerism, politics, everything.

Is that a bad thing?

It depends. From a Marxist point of view, absolutely. We’ve become blind to the oppressiveness of capitalism because it assimilates its greatest critics for its own purposes. But on an individual level, maybe it is not so bad. We no longer have to choose between our comforts and our souls, because the machine is taking care of the world for us.

All we have to do is buy a Coke.