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Best of the Interwebs 2007

Gender, Media, Pop Culture, Race, Sex & Sexuality No Comments »

Instead of droning on and on about my year in review and what I hope to accomplish in 2008, I thought I would instead highlight my favorite websites from the past year:

Offbeat Bride is a site tied to a book of the same name, written by Ariel Meadow Stallings. Both the book and site are must-reads for anyone who is planning a non-traditional wedding. Because of my studies, my entire belief system in regards to marriage has been turned upside down and it’s been refreshing to witness other couples mix things up a bit.

Electrolicious is the personal blog of the author listed above. I love reading her blog because she captivates me for too many reasons to count—she’s a freelance writer, pop culture guru, yoga-practicing vegetarian Seattleite photographer who has amazing fashion sense. What’s not to love?

Racialicious is the most comprehensive, intelligent website focused on race relations. Updated on a regular basis (yay!), posts often focus on race in popular culture. And I really appreciate the fact that a majority of the readers offer thought-provoking discussions in the comments section of each post.

Whedonesque. After five months of fairly regular television viewing, I have finally finished Buffy the Vampire Slayer and am one season away from the completion of Angel. Besides mourning the loss of major amounts of time (Buffy alone was 144 hours of programming!), the experience was completely positive. The creator, Joss Whedon, has renewed my belief that television can be a better medium than film—however, most of the current shows on TV are botching it big time. Whedonesque is a fan-created and maintained blog that Joss himself uses to update the world about new projects.

Buzzfeed is a quick and easy way to keep up with pop culture trends across all mediums, from the web and fashion to politics and architecture. If you’ve ever felt behind-the-times (is Chocolate Rain a new candy?), this site is for you.

FlowTV and Media Commons are my two favorite academic websites this year. Flow focuses solely on television, while Media Commons studies all facets of popular culture—but they both include cutting-edge theory on the media and the intersection of race, sexuality, gender, etc


Gender, Pop Culture, Race, Writing No Comments »
  • I have just rediscovered my exercise ball, which spent the past six months sitting in our back hallway. I’m not really sure why I stopped using it in the first place, because it often provided entertaining distractions from paper and/or article writing while promoting core muscles and good posture. I just dusted it off and plopped it in front of my desk. Now I am acting Zen-like by sitting on my half-deflated ball and waiting for Dan to return home so he can help me blow it up to its previous glory. Hopefully, I don’t suffer the same fate as Dwight.
  • Somehow, I constantly find the nerve to get upset about my favorite bloggers that don’t update their sites when I average a month or two between my own updates. Unbelievable.
  • Since I started graduate school, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has come up in several class discussions and numerous reading assignments so I finally decided to rent the series from Netflix. I cannot believe that the defunct WB network ever produced such a quality program! And I am incredibly upset that I missed watching the show in real time, while I was in high school, because there are some great late 1990s pop culture references like Bush—the band, not the inept Commander in Chief.
  • After many years of pondering, I finally sent in a query letter to Bitch regarding an article I want to write about the demon/mock therapist Beatrice Sparks and her stupid books. I e-mailed it to Bitch quite a few weeks ago, so I may have to pitch it to another publication soon—the story is too juicy not to tell!
  • I cannot wait to get my hands on Susan Faludi’s latest book, The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America. It’s received excellent reviews so far, unless you count the wackos on Amazon who haven’t read the book but feel the need to bash the author because she’s a big, bad feminist ::gasp::

“Read a Book”–Racist or Brilliant?

Gender, Pop Culture, Race No Comments »

Several weeks ago, while watching clips on YouTube to cure my boredom, I stumbled across the following video. When it was finished, I sat at my desk with my mouth agape. I was quick to label the video as racist and refused to believe the poster’s comments that Black Entertainment Television aired it on their music video countdown show “The 5ive.” Certainly BET wouldn’t air a video that urges black men to follow Sesame Street worthy directions such as brushing their teeth and drinking water?
     I did some research and found out that the song was recorded by D’Mite, a D.C.-born hip hop poet, and that the video was indeed aired on BET. Its premiere created quite a firestorm, with some viewers calling for a boycott of the network while others praised the artist’s confrontational message. Apparently D’Mite’s previous tracks elicited criticism because his lyrics were “too smart” for hip hop fans. “Read a Book” is his way of sending messages similar to his other songs, but with dumbed down, offensive lyrics (“raise your god damn kids,” “read a motherfuckin’ book,” “wear deodorant, nigga”) and an ironic twist—since most viewers seem to glorify stereotypical symbols such as guns, 40s, and sex (so prevalent in mainstream music), he gave the audience what they wanted.
     Although the story of the song’s development made me take a step back and think about how it might be considered a positive song, a sort of call to action, I still cannot come to terms with some of the imagery. While black men are encouraged to educate themselves, purchase land, and treat their bodies well, the video continues to portray black women as nothing but sexual objects. Four black women wear tight pink jogging suits with the word “BOOK” displayed across their asses, which shake with the beat of the song. According to the video, the purpose of brushing one’s teeth is to attract the attention of women. If your breath is fresh, a sexy woman will jump your bones; on the other hand, the scent of halitosis will kill said sexy woman.
     Like most people, I am so inundated with media on a daily basis that it takes an extraordinary book/song/film to linger in my memory. D’Mite’s harsh message has stuck with me for weeks—it is so “in your face” that I am having trouble forgetting about it for good. Which may be exactly what he had in mind…

Live WAM! Coverage (sorta…)

Gender, Media, Pop Culture, Race, Writing No Comments »

So I thought I would keep a running blog entry about the WAM conference I am attending this weekend. At this point (4pm on Saturday), I am having an AMAZING time. See below for details!

Yesterday, I attended the pre-conference which included smaller workshops and more time for networking with fellow feministas. My first workshop, Starting and Running a Feminist Publication (presented by Rita Henley Jensen and Elaine Lafferty) was an informative workshop about funding, advertising, and other managerial details about starting a publication. 

I had the distinct pleasure of a 15 minute session with author Liza Featherstone, who reviewed a few pieces of my writing and then gave me some excellent feedback. She really enjoyed my piece in Bitch about imaginary girlfriends; she said my writing was punchy and fresh in that particular article. She had more of an issue with my piece from Feminist Review. After reading it over with her, I do realize that I used very non-confrontational words and that I made assumptions about sexuality that I know not to be true (i.e. using the word “dating” is a weak word to encompass the entirety of sexuality). My biggest issue is that I struggle between being playful in my writing while using my real “voice” versus sticking to my journalism training (where it’s best to stick to AP format). Many of the publications that I wish to write for (Bitch, Bust, Venus, Off Our Backs, Make/Shift, etc.) encourage more informal and confrontational writing. 

Thenmozhi Soundararjan, the co-founder of the Third World Majority, gave the keynote address this morning. She presented some sobering facts about big media and the struggle for marginalized people (especially women of color) to gain access to the mainstream media as a means to promote their agendas. I was very moved by her comments about the fight between program development and the need to raise cash for overall sustainability. She was particularly strong in her statements about quantifying her work—I wish I had a recording device because I can’t be nearly as articulate as her—but she pretty much said that there is no way to quantify training youth to be leaders. 

Beyond “Catfighting”: Creating Strategic Collaborations within Feminist Media, which was presented by Andi Zeisler, Jessica Valenti, Nancy Goldstein, and Denisse Andrade. The panelists spoke about their respective blogs, how they increasingly network with other bloggers to spread the word about feminist issues, and how this model of collaboration may work with other forms of media. One woman had an excellent suggestion about how to write in a feminist frame of mind all of the time while also making sure that one gets published and paid all the time. She suggested that even if a feminist writer is writing a non-feminist article, she/he should use women as sources for that article. I do realize that my focus on feminism and media studies issues severely limits the number of publications who will feature my work and for some reason I never thought about this woman’s suggested method as a way to get paid while also promoting my causes. 

As a woman who is constantly reading and researching about feminism and the media, I figured that I had a comprehensive view of the various organizations that represent these subjects. Wow, I was so wrong. I have met so many women this weekend who work for and/or created organizations/publications that I have never heard of—RH Reality Check, Third Wave Majority, Women’s eNews, etc. 

Well that’s it for now….more tomorrow!

New Terrorists = Female CEOs?

Gender, Race No Comments »

Last week during a conference in China, Qantas airlines chairwoman Margaret Jackson recalled an experience she had at Los Angeles airport last year. As she passed through airport security, a TSA agent detained her because of airplane blueprints found in her briefcase. 

When questioned about the contents of her case, Jackson explained her position as the head of Qantas airlines and that the diagrams were for a new plane prototype. The TSA agent stated “but you’re a woman” and continued to detain her because he did not believe that a woman could hold such a position. It took quite a bit of time for Jackson’s release because she had to prove her Qantas credentials.

Normally, a story like this would cause me to spew fire and take to the streets with my pitchfork. Actually, I first heard about this while listening to the radio on my way to work and I have to say that I am very happy that I was alone. If you were on Route 146 last Thursday afternoon, I was the maniac yelling in the teeny blue Kia. What decade are we living in, people? Since when is it unfathomable for women to be CEOs? I know that only two of the Fortune 500s CEOs are women, but those numbers will never rise above two until people actually believe that women can hold positions of power.

However, I got the whole story when I looked up more information about the incident. Apparently, while telling her conference tale, Jackson also referred to the TSA official as a “black guy, who was, like, eight foot tall.” What does the agent’s race or height have to do with the story? Sounds like the two of them need to reunite for a few rounds of diversity training.