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Feminist psychodrama ‘Felt’ examines sexism, gender and violence
06.25.2015
06:35 am

Topics:
Art
Feminism
Movies

Tags:
Amy Everson
Jason Banker

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When I was a university student there was a slogan chanted by the more militant feminists:

All men are rapists.

Their suggested solution to this problem was to “Cheese wire all sexist bastards.” (i.e. cut off all male genitals). It was a provocative response but revealed how many women perceived the world as a hostile place, experiencing sexism, chauvinism and oppression on a daily basis. Move on three decades and little appears to have changed. Today figures were released by the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK that show a record number of prosecutions in England and Wales for violence against women and girls. The figures include cases of rape, domestic violence and honor killing, while figures released by the University of Michigan show that more than 20% of female students experienced “some sort of nonconsensual sexual behavior in the past year,” with around 12% experiencing “nonconsensual sexual penetration.” It’s dispiriting reading to think for all the progressive politics, feminism and political correct agendas, little has really changed in the relationship between men and women.
 
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Amy Everson in opening sequence of ‘Felt.’
 
A new film Felt by documentary filmmaker Jason Banker and artist Amy Everson highlights the issue of endemic sexism and the extreme responses it can inspire. Felt is the story of a young woman Amy (Amy Everson) who is disconnected from the world and finds her everyday life is a “fucking nightmare.” She is (apparently) recovering from some kind of sexual trauma—what this may be is never made explicit—other than her character saying around halfway through the movie that women are brutalized by men and invalidated for not having a dick. To cope with the sexism and hostility she feels around her, Amy designs herself a “man suit”—think Buffalo Bill’s skinsuit, but this one’s made of nylon—in which she parades around her secret hideaway in a local wood—experiencing her new identity and having dreams of being a “superhero.” Her close female friends think something is wrong and try to help, but Amy believes she is just expressing herself—or exorcising her demons—as she thinks best.
 
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You kinda feel this ain’t gonna end well…
 
The men and women around Amy tend to be little more than caricatures: they’re either dumb or douchebags. An emo rambles on about roofies and rape; a Christian woman wants to pray for Amy; a friend’s abusive boyfriend, an engineer, demands respect for being, well, an engineer, a useful part of society and a man; the photographer objectifies women but is disgusted by their bodily functions (farting); and so on. We are dropped into this world without any back story—the man suit appears first appears around fifteen minutes in—or a real emotional connection with Amy and therefore Felt demands the audience bring a lot of understanding/sympathy for Amy and her experience of the world.
 
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If you go down to the woods today…
 
Felt has the feel of a hybrid, which in essence it is. Originally intended as a music video, the film developed into a documentary about Amy Everson and her art, which is inspired by her own sexual trauma, before becoming an improvised film. Being improvised means some of the actors appear to be merely reacting to Amy’s performance rather than presenting real characters.

Everson gives a very good performance, though at times it seemed as though I was watching Everson being Everson rather than Everson being “Amy,” and there is good support from the cast especially by the scene-stealing Roxanne Lauren Knouse. Jason Banker’s direction (and camerawork) is highly assured and very impressive—the opening montage of images is like a short art film. Overall, Felt is a feminist tale for today and has many good things to recommend it. You can judge for yourself as Felt goes on release from tomorrow details here.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Exotic dancers of the 1890s
06.18.2015
01:52 pm

Topics:
Dance
Feminism
History

Tags:
exotic dancers


 
I love these photographs dated around 1890 of popular burlesque performers in their heyday. What you notice immediately is how different they look from today’s standards of exotic dancers. No breast implants, collagen injections, butt implants, lip injections, cheek implants, liposuction and this damned list could go on and on…. Of course those options didn’t exist back then, so who really knows if any of these women would have opted to surgically change themselves.

I just dig these specific women who are totally comfortable in their own natural skin whilst celebrating their beauty, femininity and sexuality. They’re refreshing.


 

 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The art of chronic ‘Craftsturbastion’: Erotic embroidery
06.05.2015
01:30 pm

Topics:
Art
Feminism

Tags:
Embroidery
erotica

Party girls embroidery
Party Girls

Alaina Varrone is the Connecticut-based artist behind a wonderfully strange and cheeky collection of meticulously sewn, erotic embroidery.

Although Varrone attended the Maryland Institute College of Art and Columbia University, she is self-taught when it comes to her craft. Many of Varrone’s stitch-y subjects are unapologetically erotic in nature, something that the artist does not do in order to be considered unorthodox, but rather something she found herself drawn to after studying socio-cultural anthropology (with a minor in theology, nice) at Columbia. Deeply moved by the concept of female empowerment, Varrone started embroidering explicit nudes and erotic situations with folk art undertones. As you will see, Varrone’s work takes a delightful and somewhat demented twist on classic folk art by using modern, off-beat and risqué subject matter.

Varrone has been busy creating for well over a decade, and her more detailed pieces can take years for her to complete. According to Varrone, after a particularly traumatic breakup, her work took on a decidedly personal theme. Varrone occasionally offers some of her pieces for sale at her Etsy shop, but has found that she is no longer able to part with her more time-intensive pieces. These days Varrone keeps busy by showing her work in galleries, group shows and with freelance commissions. If you are a fan of this art-form, Varrone is also featured in the book, Material World: The Modern Craft Bible.

More from Varrone follows (ones I can’t post can be viewed, here) and could be considered NSFW. YAY!
 
Party Animals
Party Animals
 
Bear and a mushroom
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Civil Rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer speaks about her childhood as a sharecropper
06.03.2015
05:46 am

Topics:
Activism
Feminism
History
Politics
Race

Tags:
Fannie Lou Hamer


 
I was at the Library of Congress last week, and while it was utterly grand to be there, I rolled my eyes so hard I nearly snapped a couple of cables when I spotted that pernicious Thomas Carlyle quotation high up on the wall: “THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD IS THE BIOGRAPHY OF GREAT MEN.” Look, I understand that it was put there over a century ago, and I wouldn’t expect simple values dissonance alone to be a sufficient reason to alter something so historical, but it was still a drag to see that in 2015 (the exhibit lionizing Columbus and Cortez’s New World explorations without mentioning the word “genocide” anywhere was also a disappointment—the USA still has a loooooong-ass way to go).

One of the deep faults of the “Great Man” theory of history is that it excludes the contributions of thousands, if not millions, of unheralded activists who, though they didn’t happen to be the marquee names who got to make speeches that were recorded for posterity, still committed much of their resources and lives to the causes and movements that shaped the world we live in. A more obvious flaw is the continually maddening omission of great women. For example, I hold it as a significant demerit (among many) of the public education system that I never knew the name of the amazing Shirley Chisholm, the first black congresswoman and the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States, until my late college years, when I was channel-surfing and I randomly caught a doc about her on PBS.

Another such figure I’m salty about never learning about in school, also from the US Civil Rights Movement, as it happens, is voting rights organizer Fannie Lou Hamer, a crucial activist and orator whose contributions to freedom in America are not, by my reckoning, sufficiently heralded—she not only endured being beaten and shot at, she underwent a non-consensual hysterectomy as part of a eugenics program. Justifiably furious at such shocking abuse at the hands of her doctor, she dove headlong into activism, helping found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and giving a powerful and pivotal speech to the 1964 Democratic National Convention Credentials Committee, challenging the legitimacy of Mississippi’s all-white delegation, and describing the horrors she endured for merely trying to register to vote. Presumptive nominee Lyndon Johnson, in a total asshole move, tried to keep the speech out of the news by calling a specious press conference. Hamer got crazy amounts of news coverage anyway.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
What if men had periods?
05.27.2015
06:13 am

Topics:
Activism
Feminism

Tags:
menstruation
wateraid

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The international charity WaterAid has launched a series of spoof adverts imagining what the word would be like if men had periods.

The ads are part of WaterAid’s campaign for Menstrual Hygiene Day, on May 28th, to raise awareness of the 1.25 billion women who do not have access to a toilet during their period.

Periods. There it is, right there on the screen!

How does it make you feel? Awkward? Embarrassed? Like you’d want to run from the room screaming if someone started talking about their monthly bleed?

Now imagine how you’d be feeling if men had periods instead of women.

We think it would be pretty different. Maybe periods would make you think of virility and manliness – or of those manpon adverts you’d seen on TV, that would look a bit like this:

 

 
More on if men had periods, after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Sexist’ chicken cutlets are a thing in Germany?
05.13.2015
12:32 pm

Topics:
Feminism
Food
Politics
Sex

Tags:
sexism
chicken


“Poultry mood for dream couples—finally, a poultry product for her and him!”
 
A company in Germany called Friki recently unveiled a puzzling product—two chicken cutlets, one “For Him” and one “For Her,” in a single package, with pink and blue coloring on the package to distinguish them visually. The kicker? The man’s version is spicy, while the woman’s one is mild. 

If you go to this page on Friki’s website, you’ll see the picture at the top of this page, with a caption in German that translates roughly as follows
 

Tender “minute” chicken cutlets, finally in typical female and, on the other hand, in typical male flavor-profiles ensure that poultry enjoyment will now be more fun than ever. The new dream couple comes in the flavor varieties “Fruity Lemon/Spicy Chili” and “Spicy Tomato/Spicy Peppery.”

 
In the first pair, fruity lemon and spicy chili are (according to the text and the colors) appropriate for the lady and the gentleman, respectively; I haven’t seen a picture of the second pairing yet, and I suspect it hasn’t even been manufactured yet.
 

Photo by Alice Atmega on Twitter
 
This one merits a huge eyeroll for sure. I like spicy food and I’ve not noticed this to be a particularly gendered issue. I’ve met plenty of women who enjoy spicy food, and I’ve met plenty of men who prefer milder fair. And I bet you anything that the wonderful women of India and Mexico can handle spicy food just fine. In my estimation this has something to do with Mitteleuropa above everything else—if I may indulge in a bit of cultural stereotyping of my own, I spent several years in Austria, with occasional visits to Germany, and that experience left me with the impression that the German-speaking world as a whole has some difficulties with spicy food, not so much that they don’t like it (they do not) but that they have a kind of phobia about it, as if the worst thing that could happen to you is that you eat a little vindaloo when you were promised tikka masala.

For what it’s worth, Charlotte Haunhorst of the respected newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote an editorial about this with the hilarious title “Hört auf mit der Hühnerkacke!” (“Stop the chickenshit!”). She thinks that the whole controversy has been concocted by Friki as a media ploy, although she does confess that she gets irritated when she orders a fatty breakfast and the waitstaff somehow assume that the bacon was ordered by her male companion.
 

 
Interestingly, there’s a clear precedent for this. The Kühne company has put out “his” and “hers” pickles, with the names “Gurken Madl” and “Gurken Bub”—that is, “Pickle Girl” and “Pickle Boy.” The jars come in pink and blue, with the girls’ one being “knackig und lieblich” (crisp and sweet) while the boys’ one is “knackig und kräftig” (crisp and strong).
 

 
via Nerdcore

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Tales of Taboo: Performance artist Karen Finley’s utterly filthy dance singles
05.05.2015
06:13 am

Topics:
Feminism
Music
Sex

Tags:
Karen Finley


 
Before she graduated from ‘80s Danceteria artperson prominence to national infamy in 1990 as a member of the so-called “NEA 4,” in what was at the time a boisterous national controversy/idiotic conservative shit-fling about obscenity in the arts, the performance artist Karen Finley made two 12” dance singles of unparalleled vulgarity and shock value, with Madonna collaborator Mark Kamins (RIP 2013).

The first was 1986’s “Tales of Taboo,” an unsparingly profane rant set to dancefloor rhythms, demanding sexual satisfaction in the bluntest terms possible. Madonna could coyly sing “Like a Virgin” all day and rake in huge cash, but Finley’s much more forthright chant of “get me off, suck my nub, suck my tits, suck my clit” freaked people the fuck out. Which was to the point, to a point; Finley’s performance work dealt explicitly with themes of female disempowerment and heavy catharsis, and “Tales” was recorded in response to what she saw as disco’s trivialization and subjugation of women. In Gillian G. Gaar’s She’s a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock and Roll, Finley is quoted describing the song as

…extremely radical. I think that in terms of music history it was really the most aggressive in terms of changing the position of the female to a dominant sexual position.

 

Not safe for work, even less safe for Belgian waffles.
 

 
In 1987, Finley released the LP The Truth Is Hard To Swallow, which featured music on side one and her career-defining performance piece “The Constant State of Desire” on side two. If you saw Mondo New York, that was the piece she performed in that doc. (I was fortunate to obtain admission to see her perform it at a festival shortly after the NEA imbroglio made her show an extremely hot ticket; it was powerful stuff.) The Truth LP, alas, did not contain “Tales” (though the CD version had all four cuts from the 12” as bonus material), but side one was largely in a similar vein. Then in 1988, Finley dropped her second 12”, “Lick It.” It’s pretty much exactly what you’re thinking, and its coincidence with the ascendency of acid house helped make it a legit club hit. (Also, “Tales” proved to be tempting sample-bait during that period, and clips from it it featured prominently in the genre-defining “Theme from S’Express.”) Here’s the “Radio Mix”—though I still wouldn’t listen at work if I worked anywhere other than Dangerous Minds.
 

 
More tales of taboo, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Oh look, it’s the most offensive, childish piece of anti-woman propaganda ever
04.22.2015
09:18 am

Topics:
Amusing
Feminism

Tags:
suffrage


 
The women’s suffrage movement brought with it a glut of hilariously sexist propaganda, and though the issue of women voting was (hopefully?) laid to rest, the reactionary panic of sexism is still illustrated with the same themes. Women are getting butch, while men become feminized, perverting marriage into an institution of husband-abuse! Bitter, ugly spinsters will scold us all into oblivion, while children grow up neglected, and horrifically confused about their natural gender roles! Women will invade previously male only spaces, and bars will have chicks in them! (Okay, the last one has mostly been embraced, but you get the idea.)

There are certain insults though, that have since been deemed not cool by all but the most overt misogynists. This 1910 anti-suffrage book—modeled after a children’s rhyming book—depicts women suffrage activists as actual toddlers, and their crusade as a tantrum on par with protesting bedtimes and demanding sweets.

I’m generally pretty good at tuning out sexist grossness, but think about it—if you’re a heterosexual man (and I’m gonna’ go out on a limb here and assume the authors of this were heterosexual men), and you think of women as babies, you fancy yourself a pedophile. So congrats on painting yourself into that little metaphorical corner, vintage dirtbags!
 

 

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘The Boiler’: The Specials’ harrowing song about date rape

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By the summer of 1981 The Specials had all but split up when they topped the UK number one slot with their last single as original line-up “Ghost Town.”

Terry Hall, Lynval Golding and Neville Staples went off and formed Fun Boy Three releasing their debut single “The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)” later that year. Bass player Horace Panter went to co-form General Union, Roddy Radiation fronted The Tearjerkers, which left band founder Jerry Dammers and drummer John Bradbury to regroup with Rhoda Dakar (vocals), John Shipley (guitar), Dick Cuthell (brass), Nicky Summers (bass) to continue as The Special AKA.

The Special AKA was how the band were originally known after they changed their name from The Automatics or The Special AKA The Coventry Automatics, which became The Specials for short—but what’s in a name?

“Ghost Town” was a powerful pay-off by The Specials and its strong political message saw it named “Single of the Year” by the UK’s top three music papers, NME, Sounds and Melody Maker. The song delivered a stinging social commentary on the poverty and inner city destruction caused by Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies during the 1980s. In 2002, Dammers discussed the inspiration to the song with Alex Petridis of the Guardian:

“You travelled from town to town and what was happening was terrible. In Liverpool, all the shops were shuttered up, everything was closing down… We could actually see it by touring around. You could see that frustration and anger in the audience. In Glasgow, there were these little old ladies on the streets selling all their household goods, their cups and saucers. It was unbelievable. It was clear that something was very, very wrong.”


The song’s success meant high expectations for what Dammers and his reconstructed Special AKA could achieve.
 
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Dammers was often described by the music press as the main driving force and writer behind The Specials, which was perhaps unfair to his fellow bandmates. This was in part down to the fact he was the founder and CEO of the record label 2 Tone—a home to The Specials, Selecter, Madness and The Beat. 

Born in India in 1955, Dammers had attended King Henry VIII public school in Coventry, whose former pupils include poet Philip Larkin and co-founder of Napalm Death, Nic Bullen. He had been a mod and a hippie before becoming a skinhead and discovering his love for ska music. Ska led him to founding 2 Tone Records in 1979 that kick-started the ska revival.

Dammers had a glorious talent for writing upbeat pop music with strong social and political messages, which can be seen by most of The Specials tracks from “Too Much Too Young” to Ghost Town,” and he had never been one to shirk from difficult or controversial subject matter. When considering what the Special AKA shoudl release after the all-conquering “Ghost Town,” he collaborated with singer Rhoda Dakar on powerful single about date rape called “The Boiler” a song which Alex Petridis has described as having:

...[a] worldview [that] was so bleak as to make previous Specials albums – no barrel of laughs themselves – seem like the height of giddy gay abandon.

 
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Rhoda Dakar had been a member of The Bodysnatchers (best known for the single “Do the Rock-Steady”) before joining The Specials as a backing vocalist, appearing on the band’s second album More Specials, and on their 1981 tour. Dakar and Dammers started work on “The Boiler” sometime in 1980, and the song was added to The Specials’ set list during the ‘81 tour, but was not fully finished until later that year.

“The Boiler” is the harrowing tale of a young girl who is swayed by the attentions of a man who eventually rapes her. Dakar said in an interview with Marco on the Bass that the song was based on “a friend [who] had been raped a couple of years earlier and I suppose I was thinking of her at the time. It was a very long and drawn out process. It was released a year after it was first recorded.” It was not the kind of song that ska fans were expecting to hear after “Ghost Town” but Dammers believed it was worth doing as it made a statement about a subject matter that needed to be brought to public attention.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Rad American Women A-Z’: A feminist alphabet book for the little riot grrrl in your life
03.31.2015
07:19 am

Topics:
Feminism

Tags:
Patti Smith
Angela Davis
Odetta


Angela Davis
 
I’ve been noticing a recent (though long overdue) trend in woman-centric education tools for the tiniest of tots, but frankly, a lot of them are super lame. I don’t really think preschoolers need to learn about Hillary Clinton, she’ll be ruling over them soon enough. They’ll get it by osmosis…

The new alphabet book—Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future! is a breath of fresh air on that front. Combining figures from the arts like Patti Smith and dancer Isadora Duncan with human rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, and the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller, the book goes for the deeper cuts and avoids a wholesome/boring lecture on “foremothers”—plus, the graphics beat a princess theme any day. Considering how many times kids request the same book, I’d say it’s a good move for parental sanity.
 

Carol Burnett
 

Isadora Duncan
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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