Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘media

Here are some links to great articles about the sexual assault charges against WikiLinks founder Julian Assange in Sweden.

Feministe: Some thoughts on “sex by surprise”

Well, no, I’m not sure it’s that straightforward. The actual details of what happened are hard to come by, and are largely filtered through tabloid sources that are quick to offer crucial facts like the hair color of the women (blonde) and the clothes they wore (pink, tight), but it sounds like the sex was consensual on the condition that a condom was used.

Salon: The rush to smear Assange’s rape accuser

Public evidence, as the Times noted, is scarce. So, it’s heartening to see that in the absence of same, my fellow liberal bloggers are so eager to abandon any pretense of healthy skepticism and rush to discredit an alleged rape victim based on some tabloid articles and a feverish post by someone who is perhaps not the most trustworthy source. Well done, friends! What a fantastic show of research, critical thinking and, as always, respect for women.

Alas, a blog: Rape Myths and Julian Assange

Most women who have been raped had little public evidence of their experience. By repeating these rape myths in defence of Julian Assanger people are attacking not just the women involved, but other women who have been raped and had their experiences dismissed. They are also contributing to a culture where rape is denied, minimised, and distorted.

Tiger Beatdown: How We Describe Women Who Reports Sexual Assaults Now

You guys, why are these women engaging in the (risky, socially consequential, unlikely-to-succeed) act of charging a socially prominent man with lots of supporters of sexual assault? They’re spies, right? Or they’re feminists who go around tricking men into having sex with them so they can make rape accusations? Whatever the case may be, it sounds like this is totally just about broken condoms, of all things! HOW BIZARRE!

Salon: Broadsheet: U.S. rape laws, explained

The country has the highest reporting rate in the European Union. (Perhaps because “Swedish women, backed by a strong consciousness of women’s rights and a history of a very public discussion of the scourge of sexual violence, may be more willing than most to look to the law for help,” writes the Times’ Katrin Bennhold.) Swedish law also recognizes “withdrawal of consent” as rape, which is what is alleged in the Assange case, and details three types of rape: “severe,” “regular” and “less severe.”

Reading about Sweden’s tough stance on sexual assault, I couldn’t help but wonder how the U.S. measures up. I gave Diane Moyer, legal director of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, a call to find out.


Last week, Melissa at Women & Hollywood was kind enough to cross post my post on the rape culture presented by the show 24.  In conjunction, she also linked to a post from EW on the role women are playing in this season of 24.  This post made me realize (one of) the reason(s) I am not liking this season as much as previous ones.

24 is now in it’s 8th season.  I’ve known from the beginning that it really is the “Jack Bauer Show” and no one better get in the way of that.  But despite that fact, there have been some representations of strong women in the past seasons.  Nina was pretty kick ass…even if it was in an evil way.  Audrey was also pretty cool.  Chloe has pretty much been my favorite character since she came into the show.  And even Renee was pretty strong when she was introduced last season.  But this season, it really does suck to be a woman on 24.

Chloe has been a technical analyst on the show since 2003.  She’s incredibly intelligent, is better than all the guys (until now) when it comes to computers (which is rare in media representation), and she always offers honest, witty, funny comments on the events of the show.  I used to love when she was on screen.  She usually made the scene.  She’s one of the few people that Jack actually trusts, and for good reason…she’s pretty awesome.  But this season, she has not been as awesome…

After leaving CTU, she’s back because he husband got fired and she needed a job to support the family.  But apparently technology has changed since she left.  In the first couple episodes, she is constantly being yelled at by the new director for being behind.  I, personally, find it hard to believe that Chloe doesn’t know the most recently technology.  And now, because she’s not as up-to-date, she has to depend on one of the other analysts, Arlo.  Things are getting a little better as the season moves on for Chloe.  She had a little more screen time this week.  But Arlo has pretty much taken the place of Chloe in terms of technology and witty comments.  He’s now the one that’s always in other people’s business.  When it was Chloe, it was because she was concerned about the mission and cared about the people around her (even if she wouldn’t admit it), but Arlo only does it because he is in love with Dana.

And speaking of Dana…  Dana is one of the new characters this season played by Katee Sackoff (of Battlestar Galactica).  She is also an analyst at CTU.  Now, I didn’t start watching Battlestar Galactica until after this season of 24 had started (please no spoilers, I’m only on season 2).  But I had heard a lot about the expectations of Katee Sackoff, and I definitely understand now that I’ve started BSG.  Sackoff’s character on that show was pretty kick ass in an all-around, general way.  But Dana is a push-over.  I didn’t like the character at the start of the season and I really don’t like her now that I have seen what Katee Sackoff is capable of.

Dana is haunted by her past indiscretions…quite literally.  An ex-boyfriend, that she committed some kind of felony with, is out of jail and blames Dana for him being there.  So he gets her to help him and a buddy steal a bunch of money.  She just lets this guy walk all over her and even commits a crime again for him.  She wants so desperately to keep her past hidden that she will do anything.  And we are meant to believe (after this week’s episode) that she is going to shoot this ex-boyfriend and his buddy.  Dana is just portrayed as a push-over and desperate.  Not really a great combination.

And speaking of desperate, let’s get to Renee.  Renee was introduced last season as a FBI agent working with Jack Bauer.  She wasn’t my favorite character, but she was a pretty strong woman at most points.  But, at the end of last season, she takes a page from Jack’s book and tortures a suspect (at least, that’s what we’re meant to believe) and leaves the FBI.  Since then, she regrets what she’s done and doesn’t think that she has anything to live for anymore.  We are informed that she had previously tried to commit suicide and asks someone to shoot her during the season (used as a tool to get this person to believe her, but we are meant to believe that she would have been perfectly happy if he had pulled the trigger).

Renee was the focus of my post on rape culture in 24, because she was raped this season while undercover, but the show will not present it in this way.  After this rape and a beating, she stabs her attacker.  Sounds like self-defense, right?  But the show is treating it as some sort of mental snap that has no connection to the fact that this man raped and beat her.  The show seems desperate to portray her as crazy.  All the men on the show (except, possibly, for Jack) see her as crazy and kind of at fault for losing their lead (her attacker).  Because of this treatment, Renee also blames herself for Jack’s subsequent capture and the loss of a lead.  I won’t go into this story line anymore because I did have a whole post dedicated to it and it still really pisses me off.  So…read it here if you are interested.

And then there’s President Allison Taylor (played by Cherry Jones).  She is the last main female character of the show.  She is the first female president (in the show, seeing as how the U.S. has never had a female president).  She was introduced last season as well, and she was a pretty good president, especially under pressure.  But this season, she just seems to be falling apart as her peace deal is.  Her time on screen has been reduced to phone calls to powerful men who kind of push her around (the IR prime minister — I think it’s supposed to be Iran — and the director of CTU).  I’ve been disappointed with her character this season as well.

As a commenter over at Women & Hollywood points out, the fact that 24 has zero women writers speaks loudly to their treatment of rape this season.  But I think that also translates into the treatment of the female characters as a whole this season.  I would be interested to know if 24 has ever had women writers working on previous seasons, or if they have never really had women writers.  I mean, women have never really played a great role in 24, but there have been some few examples throughout the seasons.  This season, all the women are weak or push-overs or crazy.

I think a good step in addressing 24‘s “woman problem” (as the EW post references it as) could easily be addressed if there were more women writers in the room.  It can’t just be one or two women, because then there is a likelihood that their voice(s) wouldn’t really get heard in the room full of men.  There needs to be a decent percentage of women on the writing team.  Not all women are going to be well-versed in what constitutes rape or not, for example, but I think that creating more well-rounded female characters would happen if there were simply more women in the room with a voice.

megan-fox-catwomanI’m not the biggest fan of Megan Fox.  But I hate to say it, she is starting to grow on me.  However, this is only because she gets a lot of criticism from Hollywood for not being the silent pretty girl that she is supposed to be.  The media attacks her because she says what’s on her mind and she’s not this silent hot girl that a lot of young actresses are nowadays.

While I don’t know if I agree with her statements about how she uses her hot-ness to her advantage, she knows what she’s doing, she knows how Hollywood works, and she’s not afraid to speak up about it.

In a new post at Women & Hollywood, Melissa looks at the letter that anonymous crew members on Transformers wrote to Megan Fox because of some statements that she made about the film’s director, Michael Bay.  Now, Megan Fox’s statements about Bay were a little harsh, but Bay didn’t seem phased by it and has spoken out against this letter from the crew members.  Basically in this letter, the crew members called Fox “dumb as a rock” and a bitch.

While I do not know Megan Fox personally, so I cannot speak to the validity of these statements, it seemed entirely unnecessary and just another part of Hollywood and the media’s hatred of Megan Fox for being outspoken.  I think that Fox has proven that she is not “dumb as a rock” from earlier statements.  She knows what she’s doing.  She knows that she is playing up her sexuality in order to “make it” in Hollywood.  And she’s not ashamed of it.  While I certainly don’t agree with all of her choices and have big problems with some of the roles that she chooses (cough, Transformers, cough), I can respect her decisions to do this, especially since she calls people out for being jerks and speaks to the use of sexuality by Hollywood.

And when I said earlier that she is starting to grow on me, this is what I meant: I’m still not a big fan of her as an actress.  I don’t think she’s that great of an actress and I think that in some (or most) of the roles, she is just meant to be pretty and not much else (I am anxious to see her in Jennifer’s Body; I’ve heard mixed reviews of her from different sources, but I’m not sure when I’m going to get the chance to see it).  But as a person (that we see through the media’s lens), she is starting to grow on me.  I like that she talks about Michael Bay being a sexist jerk (even if it is kind of a fun back and forth for Fox and Bay).  I like that she talks about the use of sexuality by Hollywood, that Hollywood doesn’t respect women for their talent, but rather for their looks.

Image from Etsy

Happy Thursday everyone! I hope this week has treated you all well! I encourage you to take a look at the conversation happening at my post about how men cannot be feminists and join in, there’s some really great stuff going on over there! Here are some of my favorite posts over the past couple days. Don’t forget to leave what you have been writing and reading in the comments!!

The 5 Ways Glamour Undermines Its Size-12 Self-Acceptance Message [Glossed Over]
All of the uproar over Glamour’s size 12 model didn’t quite sit well with me and didn’t really know why, but Wendy has explained my uneasiness about it very well.

Bros before Hos: A Post Ted Kennedy Story [Recursive Paradox]
After Sen. Ted Kennedy’s death, everybody was quick to praise his contributions to women’s rights. But Recursive Paradox pointed out a not very well-known story about Ted Kennedy that should also be remembered!

Will Kate Gosselin EVER get a date? [Salon Broadsheet]
How the media has been portraying Kate Gosselin as lonely.

The Feminist Lens: The Yellow Wallpaper [Small Strokes]
A look at how to teach a feminist text in a high school setting. And make sure you check out her Teaching Feminism in Schools series.

Campaigning for What, Exactly?
[this ain’t livin’]
A critical look at Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty.

Are Animals and Humans the Same?
[Womanist Musings]
PeTA’s advertising techniques and how black people are often portrayed as animals.

Have you heard the news? Michelle Obama wore shorts! The world is coming to an end!

Apparently Michelle Obama wore shorts (of a modest length) while on vacation at the Grand Canyon. Why am I talking about this, you ask? Well, I’m talking about it because it seems to have been deemed newsworthy.

Is it really that big of a deal that Michelle Obama was wearing shorts? Especially considering they were on vacation…at the Grand Canyon…in 106 degree heat.

I’d like to say the reporting on this is a result of a slow news day. But even then, it’s not really worth talking about. So why does the media think it is their responsibility to comment on Michelle Obama’s inconsequential fashion decisions? I can kind of understand a commentary on a decision to wear shorts if it was to a political function or something, but on vacation…really?

The Huffington Post had a poll asking if Michelle Obama has “the right to bare legs” (via Jezebel). Most people in the poll said yes, but does this question even warrant a poll? And even the phrasing of the question: the right to bare legs. I’m pretty sure she has the right to wear whatever she wants.

It is pretty disrespectful to comment on Michelle Obama’s fashion decisions (especially such inconsequential ones) instead of the intellectual weight that she adds to the White House and politics. By commenting on her fashion, the media is saying that she doesn’t really have anything to add to the equation other than just looking pretty while standing next to her powerful husband. And do we hear anything about what Barack Obama was wearing? He was probably wearing shorts too, but apparently his legs aren’t as important as his wife’s.

A very similar thing happened during the 2008 presidential campaign. Many media outlets devoted a lot of attention to Hillary Clinton’s pant suits and cleavage. Did these media outlets analyze the fashion decisions of Obama, McCain, or any of the other male candidates? Not really. So why is it so important to consider what Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama wears? It’s just a way to draw attention away from the actual issues at hand and discredit the intellectual assets of the person at hand.

By focusing on the wardrobe of Michelle Obama (and this is not the first time that her outfits have been the subject of news), the media is saying that she has very little else to offer besides her looks and great fashion choices. Aren’t we pass the point where First Ladies (and wives/girlfriends/partners in general) are only there to look pretty? First Ladies have always contributed to the politics of their presidential husbands and they have evolved into a political entity in and of themselves. It’s about time that we stop look at how attractive they are, what they wear, etc. and spend more time focusing on the intellectual and politics of that person.

The focus on clothing instead of intellect is just another silencing technique used against women, particularly smart, powerful women. Like I said, focusing on clothing places the value of a person on their looks instead of their intellectual possibilities. The media is scared that women might actually have something worthy to say that they instead focus on inconsequential things about their appearance to take the attention away from what they might say.

Further Reading:
First lady’s shorts draing long, hard, looks [Today Show]

I love Stephen Colbert.

Watch the clip of last night’s “The Word” here. (Sorry I have trouble getting Comedy Central videos to embed)

While I’m not familiar with Archie comics, I think Stephen Colbert hit the nail right on the head with last night’s “The Word”!

His sarcastic commentary points out one of the main tools to keep women less than: turning women on each other. Turning women on one another is one of the ways that women are kept at a second class status. If women stopped fighting amongst themselves, comparing themselves to one another, etc. I think there is a subconscious fear among many men that women actually have more power than them (as Colbert points out) and by creating in-fighting among women is a way to keep women down.

I also liked how he commented on how women characters are often only defined by the man that they can land. In so many romantic comedies, strong business women are portrayed as not being happy enough until they have found that right man (see my review of The Proposal). Women obviously can’t be happy by themselves, women need a man to make them happy.

And finally we get to his great commentary on Hillary Clinton. Only reporting on Clinton’s response to a question about her husband is insulting. I think Clinton had every right to have that response. People should be asking her about her opinions on the things she is working on, instead of what Bill thinks about it. Only reporting on her response to that completely diminishes the amazing work that Hillary Clinton is doing.

Stephen Colbert has provided some great insight into the media’s treatment of women in his great, sarcastic way.

Have you ever noticed how male actors, especially comedians, don’t have to conform to societal beauty standards? But female actors are usually shunned if they don’t conform to these standards and as they get older.

I was watching an interview with Jonah Hill for the movie Funny People (Judd Apatow’s latest creation) and they showed a clip starring Hill and Seth Rogen. Neither of these men are “attractive” according to cultural standards, yet they are both popular actors. In the clip that they showed, Seth Rogen was discussing his looks (he has recently lost a good amount of weight for a different role) and how he isn’t good looking but isn’t bad looking either. Jonah Hill goes on to reprimand him for losing weight because there’s “nothing funny about a physically fit man!” This line really struck me because, at least to me, it shed light on the double standard that funny and talented men don’t have to be physically fit where as women do.

Men can be physically “unattractive” and make up for it with their personality/humor. But women, on the other hand, have a hard time making it big if they are not culturally attractive. Of course there are some exceptions such as Dame Judy Dench and Queen Latifah. But both of these women are beautiful, they just don’t conform to societal standards of beauty; Dench because of age and Latifah because of weight. In comedies, women have to be both attractive and funny where as men just have to be funny.

This is oh-so evident in Judd Apatow movies. The women that “star” in these movies are much more attractive than the men that play opposite then. Not to say that a relationship where the woman is more attractive than the man could never happen, but it is definitely not the norm in movies. For example, in Knocked Up, Katherine Heigl stays with her unattractive, slacker boyfriend, Seth Rogen. I could understand that if Rogen was actually a good boyfriend, but he wasn’t. Just one example of how women in comedies have to be attractive in order to play a prominent role.

And even as attractive, funny women age, they are shunned from the mainstream. They are offered roles to play the mothers of people they are only 10 years older than and to play the old hag next door. Feministing posted a video with Amy Pohler, Sarah Silverman, Christina Applegate, Jane Krakowski, Mary Louise Parker, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus discussing what it means to be getting older in show business. They talk about the roles they are offered and the ones they are turned down for, about not getting magazine covers because they are over 35, etc. While all these women are amazing actors and very attractive, this video speaks to the value of youth (including society standards of beauty) in show business and society.

There are of course exceptions to this “rule.” But they are few and far between. Men have the pleasure of relying on their talent and humor instead of their looks whereas women generally have to rely on their looks in order to get roles…at least at first.

Further Reading:
Judd Apatow Talks About Sexism, Seth Rogen [Jezebel]