Monday, April 16, 2012

Video exhibition on race at the Wexner Center

The Wexner Center, the art museum at OSU, had a video exhibition that I went to a few weeks ago called "Same Difference and Other Meditations" by Una-Kariim Cross. I really liked the video and wanted to blog about it, but I did not get a chance to until now. This video presents footage of "real" every day events as well as interviews with people of the African Diaspora, challenging media stereotypes and asking viewers to think of race as more than simply identity.
In some of the video’s interview footage, people of the African Diaspora discuss how they conceive of their identity. Most of the people talked about how race was one of the primary aspects of their identity, but what was particularly interesting was the differences in the way these people conceived of their racial identity. For example, one woman said that she considered herself black and/or African (and American), but not African American. In class, we have discussed the intersectionality of race and gender, and we frequently talk about the need for a variety of media portrayals. However, this video raises an issue we have not talked a lot about yet: when we ask for more diverse portrayals of black women, we often do not consider (or at least do not talk about) the need to ask for a diversity in the way these women experience their racial identity. I think this is a really important issue, both for our class and for the feminist community as a whole, and this video, in my opinion, moves the conversation about race forward in really interesting ways.
Also, I found the artist’s website, so if you’re interested in learning more about the video/the artist, click here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

After Class Thoughts

Soon after class started, I realized that I had interpreted the text in a different manner. I just wanted to post some thoughts that were floating around at lunch.

Why do men's magazines have in-depth articles that are not only well written but encompass politics, sports, race and anything gadget related? Whereas on Monday when we analyzed "women magazines," there were some articles but they seemed to leave the depth and breath of writing that the men's magazines had, despite most of the time being misogynistic .

Being coined sexist and/or an asshole for your misogynistic comments seem to be connote that the  person as an uneducated dumbass, but its automatically assumed as a joke with the ironic wink or nudge. I wonder if the "uneducated" association comes from the academic setting that pervades Denison's campus or is it an assumption that exists elsewhere in urban cities? 

My New Magazine Company: Playboy's Loaded Stuffed Nuts

I mean really how ridiculous can you make your magazine titles? However, in our day in age, magazines are a dying breed. Here is a link to Google trends, a website where you can type in any keyword and see the number of times that specific search has been requested. In this case, the word "porn" has an increasing number. I know that there are other ways to bypass the Google search which only adds to my argument that when men want to see scantily clad women or naked women, they no longer have to buy a magazine or leaf through the car section.

I would like to say that articles like "how to get your girlfriend to let you come in her face" (Gill 211) in FHM are now child's play in comparison to the themes and ideas that porn dictates. You may say, "How can porn be realistically influencing my daily decisions?" Just look at this article. A bit ridiculous but there was an article I was reading the other  day (I wish I could find it), but it delves into the idea that porn has shaped men's thinking into expecting absurd sex from women and shaping men's thinking where the first thought is the self (getting off) and then the woman as a whole. I am not saying that this theme hasn't been repeated in the past, rather it has been exasperated by porn and the ease of access that is not available to anyone with a smart phone or computer.

Men Please Themselves but Women Please Everyone Else

I would love to write a men's magazine through the lens of a women's magazine. Imagine the titles: How to Cook the Perfect, "I'm Sorry" dinner and avoid a Fight. The 10 Ways You Can Tell She's Faking It, and How to Make it Real. 5 Easy Ways to Get Fight Club Abs that Will Make Her Swoon. These titles are hilarious to write because there is no way they would ever happen. Men's magazines are not focuses on improving the way they relate to women or please women, men's magazines are fixated on how they can please themselves (which is not necessarily a bad thing) or they seem to be focused on fixing things instead of people. How to fix your car, your house etc. not on fixing themselves. Furthermore, look at this naked woman and feel happy. Or read this article about sports and get excited for the "big game." Essentially men's magazines are just as stereotypical as women's magazines but in a considerably less damaging way.

Moreover, men's magazine consistently have better and more useful content than women's magazines, especially in interviews. GQ for example, when they interview the celebrity on the cover  person they are hardly ever asked who they are currently dating, or how they stay in shape, or what they eat on a regular basis instead they are commonly asked what music they listen to or what they think of politics etc...real world topics because men's magazines consider their subjects to be real people, or at the very least adults. Women's magazines interviews literally sound like a parent grilling their teenager on what she's doing in her life right now, somewhat looking for a way to get her in trouble (because women are continually monitored by society, a post-feminist sensibility). Just once I want women's magazine to not ask Megan Fox what its like to be a sex symbol or how she stays so thin, and rather what her favorite song is or even better, what does she currently think of the global economy. Women are adults too people!

Barstool and the Lad/Bro

While reading about 'lad' culture, I was instantly reminded of our discussion earlier this semester surrounding "ironic" portrayals of racism, sexism, or whatever kind of dominant ideology 'ism.' We laugh at Tosh.O because his irony is so blatant and unavoidable, characters like Barney on How I Met Your Mother are funny because they're just so ridiculous, but there seems to be a flip-side to this kind of humor and it is highly noticeable in lad humor.

The words "lad" and "bro" seem inextricably tied in my mind and while men on campuses across the country don't deem there sexist jokes harmful, they can be. What's even more disturbing is that some females have actually begun to take part in this type of humor. Barstool has received a great deal of criticism within the past few months, especially as their Barstool Blackout Tour went across the nation, indirectly encouraging date rape and promiscuity on numerous campuses. Girls can't find Barstool to be despicable simply because "it's so funny, "the stories are so ridiculous," "it's all just one big joke." But is it really a joke?

Barstool's reactions to many feminist groups against the site (or hell, probably just a bunch of girls who are sick of reading rape jokes, watching girls get finger banged in the front row of some dubstep concert, and constantly having to see guys looking at links like "Guess Whose Ass" and "Smokeshow") has been to continually throw more sexist crap onto the web and specifically directing these posts at their haters. This certainly is crossing a line -- if you're undergoing criticism, if citizens are outraged and hurt by the content that is being posted, isn't it time to take it down a notch? There comes a point in time where the "lad" or the "bro" need to realize that while women understand that these are jokes and that they are ironic, that doesn't necessarily make them funny. They still derive from some place that can in fact be truthful in one's mind, and thus hurtful to another.

Today's New Lad Mag

Being a male, college athlete I am surrounded by what Gill dubs as “new laddism” each and every day. Therefore, I feel I was really able to understand what she was getting at in breaking down male identities through magazines and what it is these lad mags say about masculinity. She notes that in order for a magazine to be appealing to men, it cannot be threatened by the “lavender whiff” of homosexuality. She states that there has never been one single hegemonic masculinity yet the new lad has proved to be a dominant form in which racism, homophobia, and misogynistic attitudes towards women are prevalent.

As technology progresses and the Internet continues to take over the world, magazines are losing some steam. Yet I would say the new lad is stronger than ever and has found an environment in which he thrives in… online blogging. Buying magazines is a waste of money when you can get everything you desire for free online. When reading this chapter a blogging site called came to mind right away when describing this new lad. This website, which I cannot say I have never read nor know people that love it, is a modern day Loaded. It is centered around sports, drinking, and viewing women merely as sexual figures. Every day there is a “local smokeshow” which is a gallery of pictures dedicated to one girl that someone sends in. There are entries about sports and throughout it all maintains a very racist, homophobic, and misogynist message. Below is the link to the website. It nails to a T everything Gill had to say about how the “new lad” has shaped identities of masculinity.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell

Lad magazines today have two distinct features according to Gill. The journalist addresses the readers as good friends sharing stories over drinks, and these stories and the pictures are filled with women's bodies and heterosexual sex. These magazines came about as a retaliation to the idea of the "new man" that other magazines were trying to promote. The "new man" was one who was conflicted about his masculinity, and these magazines made it very clear that the men who read their magazines were not. What I found incredibly interesting was that women seemed to prefer guys who read lad mags to the "new man". Even though lad magazines represented "a defensive assertion of masculinity, male power, and men's rights against feminist challenges". This is still more appealing than the "new man" who was the toxic waste of feminism who "is so busy trying to be supportive he has probably forgotten what an erection is for". However, when analyzing the "new man" one can see that he is almost two-faced because of the conflict within him, so I can see why he would not be appealing.

When reading this section I immediately thought of Tucker Max and his book I Hope they Serve Beer in Hell. He seems to be the new form of lad mags. I say this because he has created a website to share his stories and new media is taking over for magazines. Why pay for something when you can get it for free online? His stories are the exact type of thing that you would expect to find in a lad mag. So the question becomes is it anti-feminist? The stories definitely don't present women in a positive light. However, the title of the book suggests that he understands that they don't so he's going to hell for it. So are the stories being ironic because of the knowingness? Personally I find the stories to be hilarious and I can't see myself ever doing anything that he talks about so I don't see a problem with them. However, I also know people idolize Tucker Max so I don't think the irony is fully understood, then it becomes anti-feminist.