Monthly Archives: March 2011
I realize that I might be accused of being a decade too late for this discussion, but looking back at 1995, the Star Trek writers did a truly phenomenal job of painting a flawless portrait of our first female captain, (Elizabeth) Kathryn Janeway.
In my teens, I’d skipped the Star Trek Voyager series entirely. I took the attitude, as devoted TNG Trekkie, that nothing could ever be like The Next Generation, so why bother? Now, at age 2*, as I finally embark on a journey of self-discovery and feminist theory, I find that I am eager to discover strong, female role models to admire. Loneliness frequently haunts my voyage and sometimes the weight of despair about the state of our world and its ingrained sexism engulfs me. But if I can find evidence of egalitarianism and show proof that sexism needn’t be present in all fictional depictions of women, it becomes easier to revitalize my hope and faith in a positive future.
Janeway very much revitalizes my optimism. I’ve watched the complete first season (I’m partway through Season 2) and I am utterly satisfied that her character was invented and executed with incomparable equity and sensitivity. She conducts herself professionally while retaining charm and personality. Her mind – and wit – is sharp at all times. She exudes strength and perseveres heartily through adversity. The other characters relate to her in a respectful manner (or else they learn to do so in short order) and she even has a sense of humor. Neither too harsh nor too soft, she stands up for herself and others when injustice or disrespect rears its head. She speaks for those who have lesser voices and maintains high standards of personal integrity.
There are millions of unwanted stereotypes that could’ve crept onscreen, such as:
- A complete absence of sexuality
- Overdone harshness
- Overdone sexuality
- Exaggerated youthful appearance
- Heavy makeup
- Skimpy or cleavage-accentuating uniform
- Obsession with her body image
- Emotional vulnerability (not to say she lacks sensitivity, but she consistently conducts herself as Captain.)
- Obsession with her age
- Competitive attitude toward other women
- Subservience toward the second-in-command male
- Control issues
and much more… but these things haven’t surfaced. And as I continue my journey into the great unknown, I am comforted with Janeway by my side. If she can do it, maybe all of us can.
To those who claim that men and women are “already” equal, I pose this query: Why can’t I take my shirt off on a hot, summer day? Seems a perfectly rational question; however, some people launch themselves straight into lunatic ravings and bug-eyed convulsions when posed with this particular dilemma. Why? Well, it’s the same old reason every time: questioning gender roles is oftentimes like questioning someone’s religious beliefs. It’s just too uncomfortable for some people. Boys are blue, girls are pink. Boys are tough, girls are weak. Boys are hunters, girls are moms. That’s how it’s always been. That’s how it has to be, or we’ll all explode.
Today, we will discuss the most common arguments against female toplessness. (If you have any arguments against female toplessness to add, please feel free to put them in the comments section and I will answer to them.)
1. Female breasts are sexual; male breasts are not.
Obviously, this is a fallacious argument, as it is entirely dependent on whom you consult. As far as gay men and straight women are concerned, breasts are non-sexual (and sometimes utterly icky.) In addition to that, I’m sure most straight women and gay men would find a bare, male chest to hold similar seductive value (see picture left.) Tell me that ain’t a sexy pair of pillows.
If a man was walking around topless, he wouldn’t be blamed for a car accident had by some poor woman; she’d be faulted for not paying attention. Please place the blame where it lies.
3. It’s immoral. What about modesty?
If your religion or beliefs prevents you from walking around topless, don’t do it. Next.
4. There would be more sexual assaults if women were walking around everywhere naked.
I’m sure the puritans were spewing the same crap when bikini bathing suits first came out. Does anyone realize what bathing suits used to look like? Well… they used to be actual dresses that covered a woman’s entire body, from head to toe. (Obviously, there wasn’t much swimming happening in those things.) However, if sexual assault were A) related to sexual interest and B) the victim’s fault, I would agree – but it’s neither. Men don’t lose control and attack women because they are wearing bikini tops – it doesn’t even happen routinely in strip clubs, where women are fully nude. Men are human too and able to control their sexual urges, just as women are. If a sexual assault occurs, it is due to the defective mentality of the perpetrator – NOT EVER the fault of the victim.
5. Women’s breasts won’t be as sexually interesting or powerful anymore if they become “equal” with men’s chests.
I beg to differ. It will become more routine to see them exposed, but they certainly won’t lose any of their charm. (See LEGAL male breasts, top.)
6. What about the children?
This is pretty much the last argument people make when they run out of things to say. Well, if everyone is concerned about the children, why aren’t they forcing men to cover their nipples as well? You’d think that female breasts would be more acceptable to be seen in the open, as they are utilized for feeding… and, if men and women are equal, what’s the difference between male and female breasts?
7. Women’s breasts “stick out.”
So do fat men’s breasts. But they never get arrested.
8. It’s just not realistic. It’ll just never happen. People aren’t ready for it. Old people would have heart attacks.
This is pointless, defeatist thinking. Period.
9. You can’t have everyone walking around naked! You don’t see guys with their dicks out, do you?
Genitals are sex organs. If breasts shouldn’t be exposed, then get men to cover them up. If they’re okay, then make it equal. That is all.
Anyone else got something to say? Say it! I want to hear from you!!
(BTW, the only organization I found when I searched for Topless Rights was this one: TERA. It is, of course, a Canadian organization. If anyone knows of any other ones – that aren’t headed up by crazies or just plain nudists – that promote EQUAL rights, not NAKED rights, please comment below and direct me to them! Thanks!)
Collectively, as a society, we decide what is culturally “beautiful” based on what we see depicted as sensual, sexual and beautiful on a regular basis. Maybe if there were more fat girls depicted within the sexual, sensual arena, it would help our culture accept fat sexiness as fact.
The problem doesn’t lie solely in the fact that women are emphatically encouraged to feel shame about their bodies and to “fix” them if they are not the required size or proportion; the fact is, people who are attracted to fat women (and men!) are shamed as well. If people aren’t allowed to speak up about their attraction to fat women and men, how are the “skinny slickers,” the “toothpick tappers,” the “bone bumpers” ever going to realize that not everyone sees it their way.
I have finally come out of the closet after battling with myself for YEARS… my name is Nikita Blue and I am a “chubby chaser.” I myself have wished I had softer curves and a gentler physique all my life. Even as a young girl, when I thought of sensuality, I imagined a voluptuous goddess with a soft face, tender eyes and a pouting smile. I dreamed that I’d be with a girl like that someday… or maybe even be a girl like that someday. However, my body was destined to be scrawny and diminutive my entire life.
As you might guess, I was never one to be particularly swayed by the media (largely because I grew up in a restrictive, Baptist home and we weren’t exposed to much media) or by my peers (I also had few friends, partially due to my lack of desire to “blend”). However, this desire – my sexual interest in fat girls and boys – was one that I immediately learned held great shame. Powerful shame. I still dated the boys and girls I liked – and I typically dealt with the discrimination through fights, defending my lovers’ body weight to insecure, often stick-bodied bullies of both sexes – but I never truly ‘fessed up about my preference for full-figured gals and barrel-chested men. I knew it was forbidden. When friends were gathered, divulging the dirtiest details about their sex lives and fantasies, I knew that my secret crushes and lusty daydreams would be scoffed at. So I kept my mouth shut and simply nodded enthusiastically, agreeing with whatever they said and whomever they admired, even if I could find no angle of interest.
For a while, I thought I was a lesbian altogether, since men with their musculatory systems hanging out at me held NO interest whatsoever. But I finally came to the conclusion that I just didn’t like those types of men. I wanted something more.
Once I finally came to terms with what I really wanted, I still kind of had a problem with the word “fat.” Why? Well, it’s obvious: people use the word as an insult, not a statement of fact. “Yeah? Well… you’re fat!” (It also seemed to be a word which “naturally” coupled itself with “ugly.” You don’t want to date Sarah’s sister; she’s fat and ugly. Fat-and-ugly. Fat-and-ugly.) Sooner or later, everyone gets the point.
But “fat” is not – and should not – be an insult. Some people are fat, some people are skinny… most people have fat – and, no, it doesn’t mean that those people should be terrified of diabetes or heart disease or whatever, for God’s sake. Breathe, and relinquish all concern for a person’s health to that person… and breathe… okay… now, some people are fat, some people are skinny, and most people have fat. (Also, lots of people smoke cigarettes and drink, but they don’t get dragged onto talk shows with family members who are “concerned” for their health.)
But because of the fact that I’d been fed the huge LIE that beautiful = thin for so long… and the equally-as-damaging lie that people who get turned on by soft curves or meatier muscles have something wrong with them, I have been in the closet with my secret for over 20 years.
I love ALL of the fat on my boyfriend’s body. I also love every follicle of hair, every square inch of skin and every powerful muscle.
And I’m not ashamed to tell you that I think fat women are HOT.
I’ve figured it out.
After observing Charlie’s erratic behavior on television networks, reading his Twitter account, and analyzing his past interviews in contrast with his current behaviors, I collected some data, did some research, considered what others had to say about him, and I finally came to a conclusion: I think Charlie Sheen suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and is currently using drugs. My guess is that he’s using both meth and coke. I only speculate on the meth because he goes for long periods of time – for instance, during interviews – where he’s not seen sniffing anything, and he’s definitely not crashing.
Dr. Drew Pinsky has diagnosed Sheen as “hypomanic,” which is a symptom of Bipolar Disorder, the psychotic effects of which can be prompted by drug use. PsychCentral.com’s Sherrie McGregor, Ph.D. explains, “Speed (methamphetamine, crank, crystal) and cocaine are two that have sent many abusers into mania, often followed quickly by deep depression and psychotic symptoms. Hallucinogens, including LSD and PCP, can set off psychotic symptoms as well.” And, of course, who’s ruling out LSD or PCP? Either way, there’s something a little #tigersblood going on here…
Although I concur with the hypomanic diagnosis, hypomania is commonly comorbid (coexistent) with NPD – and so is substance abuse. I don’t think for a second that Charlie has stopped using drugs, even if he has found a way to circumvent the results of his urinalysis. (Obviously it’s a stupid idea to let him take the urine test in his own house. Duh. Cheating.)
According to the DSM-IV, symptoms of NPD are:
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
- Requires excessive admiration
- Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
- Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
- Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
- Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
Charlie appears to feature all of the symptoms associated with the disorder and, as a child star, has many of the risk factors for NPD. The risk factors for NPD are:
- An oversensitive temperament at birth is the main symptomatic chronic form
- Being praised for perceived exceptional looks or talents by adults
- Excessive admiration that is never balanced with realistic feedback
- Excessive praise for good behaviors or excessive criticism for poor behaviors in childhood
- Overindulgence and overvaluation by parents
- Severe emotional abuse in childhood
- Unpredictable or unreliable caregiving from parents
- Valued by parents as a means to regulate their own self-esteem
In an interview with ABC, when questioned about whether or not he’s bipolar, Charlie says, “I’m not bi-polar; I’m bi-winning… if I’m bi-polar, aren’t there moments where a guy, like, crashes and is, like, in the corner like, [mock crying] ‘Oh my god, it’s all my mom’s fault,’ [as a frustrated respondent to the crying guy] Shut up! Shut up! Stop! Move forward.” Shunning this make-believe person for crying is somewhat telling as well. Dr. Daniel A. Bochner, Ph.D. and author of “The Therapist’s Use of Self in Family Therapy” writes, “The narcissist grows up in an environment in which vulnerability is unacceptable. Any sign of weakness in this environment is met with disdain and disgust.”
Idealization and devaluation are also components of NPD. People are all good or they’re all bad. For instance, on his radio show, Sheen’s Korner, he used the tagline, “You’re either in Charlie’s corner, or you’re with the trolls.” In contrast to the trolls, he idealizes his live-in porn stars, referring to them as “Goddesses.” (Unfortunately, this lofty moniker simultaneously makes them faceless, nameless and disposable.)
A person who is suffering from NPD lives in a black-and-white world. It’s good or bad, right or wrong, love or hate. Here’s a quote from his radio interview on the Alex Jones Show:
“My motto now is you either love or you hate, and you must do so violently. And the reason you must hate violently is because – and you have to hate everybody that’s not in your family, because they’re there to destroy your family… and, therefore, there’s nothing in the middle. I don’t live in the middle anymore; that’s where you get slaughtered, that’s where you get embarrassed in front of the prom queen… and it’s just not an option…”
Check out some of his interviews here:
His recent behavior in comparison with his past conduct is drastically different.
And when I think about the fact that Charlie Sheen is, in fact, suffering from a disease, and decomposing, in front of billions of people, I almost feel sorry for him… until I think about this. And this. And this. And this. And this. And this.
And then I smile and watch, quietly amused, as he publicly self-destructs. And, suddenly, it seems like – for once – the victims are WINNING.
Rosario Dawson, Hollywood starlet and activist extraordinaire – a thesbian who has involved herself in a plethora of admirable causes from environmental activism to racial equality, GLBT advocacy, women’s rights, global needs and domestic violence prevention – swooped in to save the day for embarrassed, close-mouthed molestees everywhere at the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards.
It all started with a joke. The setup was that Eva and Paul had a “really funny bit” planned where he was going to grab her tits, but they were running out of time… and that’s when Paul Rudd grabbed her tit, apparently going ahead with the plan – a long walk for a lame, shock-factor half-a-laugh. Then again, award shows have gone downhill in terms of entertainment value lately, and the pathetic, failed grasps at humor have come to be expected.
However, the flaccid drollery had already been shamefully executed and the lights had gone down… and still, as the clip montage was running, Eva’s breast continued to suffocate in Paul’s grasp. Dawson told CNN what she was thinking as the moments crawled by:
“He did this vice grip on her breast, and I was like, OK, it was funny for like a second. But then it kept going and going and going. And then the lights went down and the clip started rolling and he was still vice-gripping her! I was sitting there with my fork like, ‘If he doesn’t stop, I’m going to stab him with my fork.’”
Sure enough, Rudd didn’t release his grip, and – sure enough – Dawson leaped onstage and stabbed him with her fork! But Rudd wouldn’t have it; he remained fastened to Eva’s chest… so Dawson did what she had to do, in the name of equality and protest: she grabbed his package. Mendes’ laugh had a touch of hysteria as she squealed, “What’s happening?” and her hands fluttered anxiously on the envelope. She read off the winner, sounding stressed and flustered.
The boob-grab/crotch-grab incident was criticized by some as an overreaction by Dawson to the situation; by others, it was condemned as a disgraceful lowering of the discourse; and others disregarded Rudd’s offense entirely, pointing accusatory fingers only at Dawson.
Racialicious.com’s Latoya Peterson said it best: “Activism is about education – but it is also about protest.”
The problem is, we don’t know what Mendes was or wasn’t thinking or feeling. It’s our job, as activists, to err on the side of caution – whenever we see a citizen in trouble; whenever we sense danger or encounter fear; whenever we perceive a sister to be in peril – we will be there. We will not hesitate, we will not fuck around.
Superman never twiddled his thumbs and neither do we.
Go Team Dawson!!
You know Michael, one of the things that’s troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, ‘Hey look, you know, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having these children, and they’re doing just fine.’ But there aren’t really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie. … Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care.
— Mike Huckabee