"Are You a Feminist?"

Katy Perry recently became the latest in a long line of well-known women to answer this question in the negative. Specifically, when Perry accepted Billboard’s Woman of the Year award on Friday she said: “I’m not a feminist, but I do believe in the power of women.”

Much yelling ensued.

Every few days some high-profile lady says something along these lines, and without fail every feminist or woman-targeted website posts one of the following responses:

  1. How dare she say she isn’t a feminist? Doesn’t she know what feminism has done for her?
  2. It doesn’t matter whether she says she’s a feminist or not; she is.
  3. It doesn’t matter whether she says she’s a feminist or not; feminism is still the most awesome.
  4. Fine, we don’t want her, then!
  5. Oh, no! This makes me sad because I love her so much/she’s so cool!
  6. People need to quit tricking women into thinking feminism isn’t for them!

I tend to incline toward the last of these reactions, but this piece by Noah Berlatsky argues for a more nuanced view of the issue:

Perry’s unwillingness to be called a feminist might… be seen as a sign, not of feminism’s failures, but of its continuing relevance. It would be better if feminism were more widely accepted. But failing that, the least a movement for radical social change can do is to freak people out a little. Feminism still provokes resistance; it still has enemies; it still makes many people in the mainstream nervous.

I Shall Never Be

Sally McGraw expresses her relief at accepting that she will never look like Sofia Vergera:

I know a lot about my body. I know its strengths and its graces, its quirks and defining traits. I know that I have strong legs and an elegant collarbone, pert breasts and dainty wrists, luxurious hair and an angular little nose. I know that I’ve got a lot going for me.

I also know that there are loads of things that I shall never be, and that many of them are considered beautiful, attractive, desirable, enviable even.

As much as men aren’t supposed to care about these things, I’ve actually been thinking about this quite a bit over the last couple days.

"Cougar Rape"

Last night at the American Music Awards Jenny McCarthy presented an award to Justin Bieber. Then she grabbed his butt and forcibly kissed him on the neck.

This might be hard for non-fans like me to remember, but Bieber is actually of age, so this wasn’t a criminal act. It was creepy, though, and not for the reason everyone is saying. All the coverage I’ve seen so far focuses on the age difference:

McCarthy is known for her wacky antics, of course, so she no doubt assumed the grope would be taken as a joke.

She was so confident, in fact, that she posted a picture of herself kissing Justin’s cringing neck, with the title “Cougar rape #poorjustin.”

Still, viewers who watched McCarthy nab Bieber mostly got a little “ick” vibe. After all, McCarthy is literally more than twice Bieber’s age, and though she may have meant her affection playfully, it came off a bit predatory.

Some—like the author of the linked article—pointed out that gender-swapping the incident makes it much more creepy, a double standard that actually favors women for a change. Um… congratulations, Ladies?

Of course, that double standard isn’t really favoring women; it’s just reinforcing the stereotype that older men hitting on young women is creepy but older women hitting on young men is awesome.

And that helps pinpoint the actual problem with McCarthy’s groping of Bieber: it was unwanted and rape-y. Despite McCarthy’s joke about “cougar rape”, no one seems to be focusing on this element of the event except either to play along with the joke or to affect indignation over the use of the word “rape”.

While McCarthy did not commit rape, she was venturing into that territory, and she knew it, which is why she made the joke. As new as I am to the concept, I have at least discerned that one of the underpinnings of rape culture is the subconscious collective belief that women’s bodies exist for men. And it cuts both ways—or should, if we really want to push for equality and a culture of consent.

Jenny McCarthy doesn’t own Justin Bieber’s body, so in the absence of his consent, she should keep her hands off it.

Too Fat For Hollywood

At a size 10, Romola Garai (Atonement, The Hour), gets airbrushed thinner when she appears in magazines, and she feels conflicted about it:

It’s difficult because if I refuse to do any magazines at all, my work, I think, would suffer in a very immediate way. But when I appear in these magazines, I know I’m being “trimmed”. I’m being airbrushed a lot.

And I know that people are accepting those images and are under the impression that that is really how my body looks, that I’m hairless and sexless and weigh 90 lbs. That really worries me. And I really don’t know what to do except talk about it.

Did you know Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) is also too fat? We have a real actress obesity epidemic on our hands, people.

Repainting Celebrity Barbies

You know how when Mattel puts out a doll based on an iconic celebrity or a movie character it never actually looks like that person, but just one of Barbie’s generic friends? Portrait artist Noel Cruz has proven that an accurate recreation is simply a matter of some extra effort and a lot of talent. He “repaints” dolls, transforming them from “Well, I guess that kinda looks like Diana Ross” to amazingly realistic representations of the people they’re supposed to be.

Beautiful work. Incidentally, how much better was Jezebel’s Hurricane Sandy emergency blog than their actual website?

On fashion, time, Hillary Clinton, numismatists, and Big Coin

“Caperton” at Feministe compares the hobbies of fashion and coin collecting to make a point about gender-based assumptions:

Don’t waste a woman’s time talking about inconsequential things when there are consequential things that need to be discussed.