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Even in death women are not free of sexist idiots

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Yesterday, the best-selling author and neuroscientist Colleen McCullough died at the age of seventy-seven. McCullough was one of Australia’s best-known and most popular novelists, whose success was firmly established with the publication of her second novel The Thorn Birds in 1977. It was later made into a highly successful TV miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain. McCullough followed on her success with a string of bestsellers including An Indecent Obsession (1981), The Ladies of Missalonghi (1987), The Touch (2003) and her Masters of Rome series of historical novels. McCullough’s books have sold in excess of 30 million copies.

But McCullough had originally studied medicine before successfully moving into neuroscience and becoming a respected teacher at the Department of Neurology at the Yale Medical School in New Haven, CT.

By any standard, most people would be content with just one of McCullough’s incredible careers, and one would think that a national newspaper like The Australian might write a glowing obituary, eulogizing this talented and brilliant Australian woman. Well, most of us would, but that’s not what The Australian decided to focus on when writing her obituary, instead they considered her most relevant attributes as being “plain of feature, and certainly overweight,” though she was also “a charmer.”
 

 
It’s dispiriting to think how this ever got past the paper’s sub editor’s desk—unless of course the paper is completely staffed by sexist idiots—which, who knows, perhaps it is? What is more disturbing and inexcusable is how a woman of such great achievement should be so casually demeaned and undervalued.

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom as the stupidity of the Australian’s obituary has seen an amusing response from the Twittersphere, where people (including writers Caitlin Moran, Neil Gaiman, Joanne Harris and comedians Katy Brand and Craig Ferguson) have been tweeting their own mock obituaries (#myozobituary), which you can read below.
 

 

 

 

 

 
H/T Metro.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
That time when Shelley Winters dumped whisky on Oliver Reed’s head for being a sexist ass, 1975


 
When two of the best and most unpredictable talk show guests in all of television history—boisterous Oscar-winning actress Shelley Winters and alcoholic Brit leading man, Oliver Reed—ended up as consecutive bookings on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson on September 25, 1975, it seemed like an occasion where sparks might fly. And they did. At least something flew. It was a clash of the talkshow titans.

Winters was there because, well, because she was always on 70s talk shows (and gave good value as a guest, you can see how she makes Johnny’s job easy during her segment) while Reed, his first time on the program, was there to promote his role in Ken Russell’s Tommy. Winters comes out first and makes some cougar-ish observations about younger men. She’s her normal charming self. Then Reed is introduced, who declares that he’s “Quite extraordinary”—and I think it’s also fairly safe to assume completely drunk out of his fucking gourd—before going off on an offensive tangent against women’s liberation and feminism causing an incensed Winters to dump her drink squarely on his head.

While she’s still on the couch, Winters gets in a LOL adlib at Reed’s expense that demonstrates why she was such a popular fixture on talk shows. Watch for it.
 

 
via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘How to Undress in Front of Your Husband’: The exact opposite of a feminist film
01.19.2015
07:10 am

Topics:
Feminism
Movies
Sex

Tags:
Dwain Esper
John Barrymore

How to Undress in Front of Your Husband
 
The short film you’re about to take a look at is more than just a cheap, extraordinarily sexist exploitation film from 1937. Indeed, How to Undress in Front of Your Husband is most certainly that, but if you can put the stupidity of the attitudes expressed in the film aside momentarily, you’ll notice that it also happens to be surrounded by a bunch of weird, perhaps even interesting facts. Case it point: It involves the huckster distributer of Reefer Madness and his salacious screen writing wife, the film bears a mysterious similarity to a LIFE magazine article featuring photos of ex-burlesque stripper, June St. Clair made in the same year, one of the lead characters (such as there are characters) is the fourth wife of John Barrymore and the other lead character was an ahead-of-her-time suffragette.

I’m not a big fan of Internet lists, but I’m presenting the following one as a matter of expediency. Believe it or not, there’s a lot to cover here for a smutty little fourteen minute film.

1. How to Undress in Front of Your Husband is an exploitation film: To cut right to the chase, this movie is about a lecherous, camera-wielding Peeping Tom and two different women taking their clothes off in preparation for bed. According to the film’s male narrator, there is a right way and a wrong way for a woman to do this if she wants to properly entice her husband, and each woman demonstrates her pre-bed ritual as the narrator looks on through a key-hole. It’s really an awful flick, but notable if you’re interested in this particular fringe nook of filmmaking, truly the bottom of the creative barrel.
 
Reefer Madness Poster
A reproduction of an original Reefer Madness poster.
 
2. The Reefer Madness connection: How to Undress in Front of Your Husband was directed by Dwain Esper, the same fiendish mind who brought us everybody’s favorite joint-sploitation film, Reefer Madness along with Maniac, Sex Madness and Marihuana. Esper was a sleazy but fascinating persona. A serious snake-oil-salesman-type, he traveled around the country “four walling” his racy films in rented tents and theaters in order to work his way around the 1934 Production Code that wouldn’t allow his work to be distributed through conventional channels. In fact, the very title of the film may very well have been part of what was a typical strategy for Esper to get around movie censorship. By billing his screenings as “educational,” as in WE’RE HERE TO EDUCATE YOU ABOUT THE HORRORS OF OPIUM!!!!, he and others like him could attempt to pass off their salacious materials as important public service announcements. After taunting entire towns with tantalizing “Adults Only” promotions, Esper would screen whatever piece of smut he was pitching for a few days, count his money, pack up his gear and get himself the hell out of Dodge, preferably before the town’s morality police could do it for him.

Esper’s wife Hildegarde Stadie, herself an ex-carnival performer who in her younger years often posed nude with a python around her neck to entice people into buying her Uncle’s cure-all tonics, wrote How to Undress in Front of Your Husband as she did many others in the Esper repertoire. Neither of them actually wrote Reefer Madness, by the way. Esper simply bought the film, originally funded by a church group with the intention of legitimately steering people away from the deadly smoke. Esper realized how much of exploitative payday would come from screening the very bad but very “shocking” movie. You can read three Esper screenplays in Marihuana, Motherhood & Madness from 1998.
 
Dwain Esper
Cinemaniac Dwain Esper
 
3. The LIFE article: Interestingly, an article, also from 1937, appeared in the February 17th issue of LIFE magazine depicting almost the exact scenario of the Dwain Esper film and pictures from the article have circulated around the internet over the past few years. Promoting one Allen Gilbert who was ostensibly trying to get the word out about his “Manhattan School of Undressing,” the article shows two different women in the act of preparing for bed, one clumsily, the other, ex-burlesque stripper June St. Clair, gracefully. The conceit of the article is that because of rising divorce rates, women needed to place to go where they could learn to be more sensual when getting ready to slip into bed with their husbands. No mention is made of the husband’s role in the pre-bed ritual, although, due to reader demand and, in some cases, outrage, a subsequent issue of LIFE included an article with men in the same scenario. It seems almost impossible to imagine that the article and the film below weren’t somehow related, although I can find no evidence to substantiate that claim.
 
How to Undress
The right way for a woman to undress in front of her husband according to a 1937 article in LIFE magazine.
 
How not to undress
The wrong way for a woman to undress in front of her husband according to a 1937 article in LIFE magazine.
 
4. John Barrymore’s fourth wife: Yes, the lead role the film went to Elaine Barrie, alcoholic actor John Barrymore’s fourth wife at the time. Famously, a youthful Barrie (she had the last name of Jacobs at this point) kindled her relationship with Barrymore through a letter asking for an interview with the aging Svengali actor who was in the hospital attempting to dry up at the age of 53. Barrie continued to “interview” Barrymore, and the two eventually married in 1936. Their relationship was a press free-for-all (Barrie was 30 years younger than Barrymore and their relationship began when Barrymore was still married to his third wife) and the Espers were almost certainly capitalizing on her new-found national attention when they cast Barrie in the roll of the ideal wife in How to Undress in Front of Your Husband. The film’s narrator vocally ogles and hubba-hubbas his way through Barrie’s downright scandalous-for-1937 appearances in the film as she sensually quaffs her hair, applies pre-bed perfume, rolls down her stockings and shimmies out of her clothing while strategically never becoming completely nude. The purveyor of the pervy voiceover is of course pleased. “She not only knows how to get a husband, but how to keep him,” he says.

5. The suffragette: Last but not least, one of the most interesting things about this weird little piece is the appearance of former stage and vaudeville actress, Trixie Friganza. She plays the role of the not-so-sensual clothes remover; the representative of “how not to undress in front of your husband,” and the narrator says some truly vile things about her while she goes through her supposed pre-bed ritual. Really, it’s cringe–inducing and mean-spirited. Friganza, a large woman, seems to have made career out of poking fun at her own size, but she was also an outspoken women’s rights activist often using her public notoriety to speak about the arts and for economically downtrodden. She was progressive for the time, even keeping her maiden name and continuing to work after marrying in her early life, a fairly bold statement in the early 1900’s. Friganza’s on screen appearance in How to Undress in Front of Your Husband was one of her last, as she ended her film career in 1940 due to complications with arthritis. After a long career she died in relative obscurity in 1955.

So there you have it, everything I know about the oddball film. For better or for worse, here’s How to Undress in Front of Your Husband in all its schlocky glory.  It skips just a tad at the beginning, but extensive Internet searching yielded this as the best copy. 
 

Posted by Jason Schafer | Leave a comment
Psychedelic sex education video for kids
12.23.2014
07:06 am

Topics:
Drugs
Feminism
Sex

Tags:
drugs
drag
kids
kids tv
sex education


 
I’m staunchly supportive of early sex education, I’m certainly all for childhood body positivity—especially in these days of surgical and Photoshop fantasy—and I also don’t think the efficacy or value of children’s programming should me measured by its appeal to adults—sometimes kids shows are visually and aurally lurid to compete with a clamorous world (also, a lot of kids just have bad taste at that age). However, the body positive kids’ sex education web show “Baby! Love Your Body!really challenges my allegiance to a carefree and liberated vision of childhood. It’s intended for children as young as three, but maybe it shouldn’t be?

Borne of energetic French feminists “Fannie Sosa” and “Poussy Draama” (who—shocker—both belong to an art collective called School of No Big Deal), “Baby! Love Your Body!” is what happens when the impetus for cultural liberalism—apparently at all costs—supersedes all instinct for appealing to a popular audience. It starts with a value-neutral tour of vaginal slang, with all your favorites included. Then it makes a quick left turn with two people dressed up as raver vaginas. From there we see some confusingly metaphorical portrayals of sex and masturbation interpreted with erratic dancing, and then it just completely abandons narrative with a “Through the Looking Glass” love canal adventure. Yes… someone enters a vagina and a psychedelic journey ensures.

There is only one episode so far, but it’s been done in English and in French—I’ve blessed you all with the disorientingly English-dubbed version below. The tone is manic with the sort of exhausting, heavy-handed enthusiasm and good cheer that afflicts so much children’s programming these days, but I could see kids responding well to it even if I didn’t. I give Fannie and Poussy a hard time, but in spite of some some absurdly prudish backlash, I think the show could actually be useful—if parents can handle the acid-trip presentation. For those of you who might prefer a more sedate teaching tool—may I suggest a nice, sterile anatomy textbook, preferably in Danish.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Indian comic book heroine is a rape survivor who fights violence against women and rides a tiger
12.17.2014
12:21 pm

Topics:
Art
Feminism

Tags:
India
comics
violence against women


 
Two years ago, a fatal New Delhi gang rape inspired mass protests all over in India, but the the legal reforms (which include things like the banning of acid sales) have done very little to protect women, and most of the more programmatic promises (tracking public transportation, more women cops, better lighting in urban areas, etc) have gone largely unimplemented. Feeling discouraged by the purely legalistic approach to rape, New York-based filmmaker Ram Devineni decided to fight violence against women on the cultural front—starting from childhood education.

Devineni has produced Priya’s Shakti, a graphic novel available online and in print, featuring a rape survivor protagonist who is aided by a goddess and her faithful tiger steed. The book is currently available in Hindi, English and Marathi, but will be translated into other languages to better serve India’s diverse population. The concept is a masterful utility of traditional values to further humane ends, and I’d argue something aimed at younger readers is going to have the greatest long term effect on culture at-large. 
 

 

The storyline focuses on Priya, a human woman and ardent devotee of the Goddess Parvati who has experienced a brutal rape and the social stigma and isolation resulting from it. The Goddess Parvati is horrified to learn about the sexual violence that women on Earth face on a daily basis and is determined to change this disturbing reality. Inspired by the Goddess, Priya breaks her silence. She sings a message of women’s empowerment that enraptures thousands and moves them to take action against [gender-based violence] around the world. This project highlights the threat of sexual harassment and violence that women face on a daily basis unless deeply rooted patriarchal norms are challenged.

 
The discussion of sexual assault in far-away lands often results in a lot of projection and avoidance of more home-grown violence, but I think we in the US could learn a lot from this project. The anti-rape movement here has only just begun to move beyond telling women “how to not get raped,” but I’ve yet to see a childhood sex education project that instills ideas of bodily autonomy and consent. Then again, I suppose our growing commitment to Abstinence-Only Education kind of precludes talking to kids about how to have mutually agreed upon sex.
 

 
Via NPR

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Inked ladies: Vintage photos of women with full body tattoos
12.15.2014
08:08 am

Topics:
Art
Feminism
History

Tags:
tattoos

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The 1991 discovery of the well-preserved body of a 3,000-year-old corpse revealed (amongst many other things) that ancient humans tattooed their bodies. The mummified body was called “Ötzi the Iceman” after the Ötztal Alps where his remains were found. Ötzi had 50-odd tattoos across his body, which some scientists have suggested may be evidence of an early form of acupuncture—which if true, would put this form of treatment 2,000 years before its first documented appearance in China.

Tattoos have a long and culturally significant history—being used as a sign of initiation, association, clan, tribe, ownership, or sexual and personal liberty.

In Victorian times, upper class women had their bodies tattooed as a symbol of their independence. In her book Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoos, Margot Mifflin believes this was a “feminist gesture” with these women “taking control of their bodies when they had little power elsewhere.” Winston Churchill’s mother Jennie had a serpent tattoo around her wrist as a symbol of her feisty independence. However, not all Victorian women who sported tattoos did so willingly. Mifflin reports how some poor women were forcibly tattooed and exhibited in freak shows and carnivals.

The first recorded woman tattooist was Maud Wagner, who was said to have traded a date with her future husband to learn the craft of tattooing. In the 1920s, full body tattoos were popular, but their charm was lost during the 1930’s Depression, only to re-emerge during the late 1940s to 1960s, when they were seen as a symbol of outsider status.

These vintage photographs show tattooed women from early in the 1900s to 1960s.
 
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More tattooed ladies, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Suffragette City: Propaganda posters reveal the horrors of women’s rights!


A lotta guys would pay good money for that.
 
The panic surrounding women’s suffrage managed to exacerbate masculine anxieties to such a perverse degree that you have to wonder just how terrified of women men actually were. They seemed to believe that all it took to upset the apple cart was access to bourgeois politics, then, we’d wreak havoc! Soon enough, reactionaries predicted, womenkind would be enslaving their husbands, abandoning their children and domestic duties, assaulting men on the street, invading political institutions and… wearing pants! Clearly, this made for amazing propaganda.

More insidious than the fear of masculine ladies and feminized men is a single depiction of a huger-striking suffragette being force-fed. There is a gleeful look in the eyes of the posh man pouring soup down her throat, and a menacing one in the eyes of the cop holding down her legs. Force-feeding is a torture that was administered to suffragettes like Alice Paul, much to the glee of misogynistic sadists. One would hope that such a barbaric practice would be abandoned by now—especially considering how ineffective torture actually is—but it appears the US remains reluctant to give up on the tradition.
 

 

Detail from above image.
 

 

 
More of the horror of women thinking for themselves after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Visible Girls: London’s lost female subcultures

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Lynne and Penny at home in Kingston, March 1981.
 
In the early 1980s, photographer Anita Corbin documented the “informal uniforms” of young women’s subcultures across London. Corbin photographed rude girls, rockabillies, mods, skinheads, and some “less defined” female groups including soul, rasta, punk and futurist, as well as those involved “in and around the women’s liberation movement.”  Her photographs were exhibited in a traveling exhibition organized by the Cockpit Gallery Project called Visible Girls in 1981.

In her introduction to the Visible Girls exhibition, Corbin wrote:

In this project I turned my attention to more personal visual details and I became increasingly interested in the effect appearences have on everybody’s lives.

The way we use dress as a means of communication/identification and how it can both inform and misinform us.

I have chosen to focus on girls, not the boys (where present) were any less stylish, but because girls in “subcultures” have been largely ignored or when referred to, only as male appendages.

Corbin discovered that for these young women belonging to a subculture was not just a weekend hobby but a whole way of life.

More than thirty years later, Anita Corbin has reconnected with some of the women in her photographs, but would like to contact them all, if possible. If you recognize yourself or any of these women, then you can contact Anita here.
 
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Kath and Em, at home in Putney, October 1980.
 
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Simeon and Simeon, at the Orchard Youth Club, Slough, March 1981.
 
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Charmine and Janice, at the Orchard Youth Club, Slough, March 1981.
 
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Rockabilly girls, at Shades, Manor House, February 1981.
 
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Titch and Sylvia at home in Sudbury, March 1981.
 
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At the Marquee club, December 1980.
 
With thanks to Elizabeth Veldon, via Buzzfeed.
 
More of Anita Corbin’s ‘Visible Girls,’ after the jump….
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Bight of the Twin’: Update on Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s Amazing African Adventures!

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As many of you know, all around icon Genesis Breyer P-Orridge has been spending much time working and filming with Hazel Hill McCarthy III on a truly eye opening project. How better to understand than in this message from Genesis in her own words:
 

“We just got back from touring followed by two weeks of filming in Benin, West Africa with Hazel Hill McCarthy III and crew. The film “BIGHT OF THE TWIN” should debunk a lot of misguided trashy Hollywood “Zombie” entertainment that has deeply generated an essentially destructive and wholly inaccurate idea/meme attached now, so strongly in many peoples minds.

We are so jet lagged yet also so inspired by Ouidah, in Benin. Statistics show something phenomenal.

As we understand it, the average number of sets of twins per thousand, worldwide comes out at four sets of twins per one thousand B-Earths. In Benin the average number of twin B-Earths per one thousand is around twenty five to forty! Nobody has yet found a genetic nor dietary explanation. So as our search for the “Mother story”, the oldest witness to intelligence and belief developing in humanEs led us there. We were already referring to “twins” in the context of PANDROGENY. Two beings make a third being that is the two individuals immersed and merged into each other. Hazel discovered that Sept-October in Ouidah is a very rare Festival of Twins, both those who die at B-Earth or soon after, and those still living who maintain by ritual, the memories of their twin (triplet,etc) into daily life. Voodu has been practiced continuously there for ten, twenty, even more thousands of y-eras ago. Their Creation myths include a Supreme Being MauLissa. Half male-half female.The male Mau is represented by a python (a serpent) the female Lissa is represented by a chameleon.

For ongoing information PLEASE go to the site http://igg.me/at/bightofthetwin. We are now in possession (no pun intended) of approximately ninety hours of incredible footage, much never witnessed or filmed before. Plus interviews with Priestesses, “DAH"s (high priests) and many many more key people. We need to raise money to edit a distribution master, and cover all those edit suite hours etc. SO PLEASE go to Indiegogo.com where we are trying to raise the needed funds asap. We used Kickstarter to raise funds to return to Benin for the twins festival and it worked. We reached our goal, thanks to all of you! Quite literally, your contributions, no matter how large or small ALL force the hand of chance so that this film can be completed and happen as a media-entity, allowing this amazing story to be told, perhaps, by learning of our early days of consciousness, of the essential origin of this bizarre, yet beautiful species, yet also a mundane and brutal species. Perhaps in the Mother story is a truth, a revelation that WILL allow us to adjust our behaviors, so we all save ourselves. Conscious evolution can only happen en masse. Small pockets of alternative are a seed, a source, a “virus” as Burroughs used to say. We will see, or future generations will curse us for our lethargy and indifference to the writing on the wall. “PLEASE DON’T PISS HERE.”   

Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE NYC, September 2014.”

 

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Concept Barbie doesn’t just have realistic proportions—she has scars, acne, freckles & cellulite
11.19.2014
02:55 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Feminism

Tags:
Barbie


Acne
 
Graphic designer/amateur toymaker Nickolay Lamm plays with Barbies a lot. First he came up with the make-up-free Barbie—worrying that she was “a little bit too hypersexualized,” which is strange, since I see women walking around my neighborhood with a face fulla slap, and the kids don’t seem to be scarred from it. Then he came up with a “proportional” Barbie, whose body matched that of an average 19-year-old woman (according to the Center for Disease Control)—a noble aim, but I find it misguided, and a little patronizing.

I tend to think projects like this misjudge children’s intellect—not everything in a child’s play or fantasy world is somehow internalized like some kind of insidious timebomb of self-loathing, and while Barbie’s uncanny proportions certainly indicate something rotten about our perspective on women’s bodies, I honestly think their effect on little girls is negligible. I’d argue Barbie’s freaky shape and perpetual Tammy Faye Bakker-ish makeup is a symptom—but not the cause—of self-esteem problems with women and girls—but what do I know? I’m just a woman who grew up healthy and happy playing with Barbies! As I have said before:

On some level, hyper-realistic dolls are a bit silly anyways, since anyone who’s ever been around kids will admit you can draw a smiley face on a jar of pickles and they’ll play with it like a doll. In many parts of the world, dolls don’t attempt the detail of Barbie, and people don’t have to think about dolls’ “bodies.”

That being said, what children do like about dolls—far more than any adult-invented concept of body idealization—is interaction, and Lamm may have actually come up with something a little girl (or at least John Waters), might be really interested in playing with. The Lammily doll now comes with decals for acne, freckles, moles, blushing cheeks, scrapes, bruises, scars, stretch marks and even cellulite. I do believe children are better at distinguishing fantasy and reality than Lamm thinks, and I do not think little girls give two shits about the literalism of their dolls (I also played with pink unicorn dolls—they did not leave me disappointed with regular old brown horses, I assure you), but it is a scientifically proven fact that stickers and accessories are basically crack for kids!

Lamm says he “wanted to show that reality is cool,” and asks, “a lot of toys make kids go into fantasy, but why don’t they show real life is cool?” Maybe it’s because doll-play is literally a fantasy, in that children are animating an inanimate object! Kids will have plenty of time to contend with reality; they still play with dolls that “wet themselves,” for example, so the doldrums of domesticity have not lost their appeal to young eyes, even in the wake of Barbie and her Dreamhouse. I think Lamm should have a bit more faith in little girls—their intellectual independence and their critical reasoning skills—but playing with scars and bruises? That’s something I think they could get into, even if it’s not for the reasons he thinks.
 

Mole
 

Scrape
 

Scar
 

Cellulite
 

Stretch marks
 
Via TIME

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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