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This 1958 ‘Beautiful Eyes’ contest is the creepiest thing I’ve seen in quite a while
05.28.2014
08:08 am

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion
Feminism

Tags:
beauty pageants


 
The spectacle of the modern beauty pageant is creepy enough as it is, and the irony of a toad like Donald Trump assessing women for their desirability is not lost on me. Still, most beauty pageants at least maintain a façade of depth. Sure, they uphold weird standards of virginal purity, and yes, there’s a swimsuit “competition,” but there are also talent contests, points for personality and everyone at least agrees to pretend that they’re aiming for scholarship programs.

Not so for this “Beautiful Eyes” contest held at a British holiday camp in 1958.

The women’s faces are covered below the eyes and their bodies are hidden below the neck, apparently to ensure the judges will properly isolate the single body part they’re supposed to be evaluating. As if that wasn’t already creepy enough, one judge—he’s a pervy looking motherfucker, too—actually walks down the line and handles the women’s faces like they were show dogs, eventually pulling down one woman’s veil to kiss her square on the mouth.

At least in the Miss America pageant you’re not expected to risk contracting oral herpes from one of the judges…
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Cute band alert: ‘Hey Baby,’ little-known punk feminist anthem from Sassy magazine editors
05.27.2014
09:40 am

Topics:
Feminism
Music

Tags:
Kramer
Chia Pet
Sassy


 

“I’m just walking down the street minding my own business, construction worker says ‘Nice tits’...”

Chia Pet were the in-house rock group of Sassy magazine, but they weren’t all that prolific. The group was led by Sassy’s “rock and roll” editor Christina Kelly, Kelly’s then-husband Bobby Weeks, her then-sister-in-law (and fellow Sassy writer) Jessica Vitkus Weeks on bass and Mary Ann Marshall (another Sassy writer) on drums. Karen Catchpole was a second vocalist and Sassy’s editor in chief Jane Pratt contributed some wonderfully scratchy violin. They sounded a bit like The Raincoats, but if they were from Brooklyn and… sassier.

“Do I look like I’m asking for it?”

 

 
Chia Pet released “Hey Baby” in 1992, a 7” single (in both white and pink vinyl) and CD single via Koko Pop, producer Kramer‘s less difficult label (compared to his decidedly more eccentric Shimmy Disc imprint) and recorded in his Noise NJ studio. There were three original songs on that, but the only other thing they ever released was a wonderfully bored take on the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” that appeared on a CD compilation called Freedom of Choice: Yesterday’s New Wave Hits Played by Today’s Stars, a Planned Parenthood fundraiser where “today’s” groups like Sonic Youth, The Muffs, Redd Kross and Mudhoney covered really obvious New Wave ditties. For a while there was a dispute over the Chia Pet name with a group from Chicago, but since both groups had swiped the name from the “as seen on TV” novelty planter, neither could do much about it.

“I’m just trying to be a girl!”

 

“Sassiest Boy in America” Ian Svenonius, Jane Pratt and Christina Kelly

“Hey Baby” was “Single Of The Week” simultaneously in the NME and Melody Maker but has slipped through the cracks of musical history. This song should be way better known than it is... Unfairly obscure, “Hey Baby” should properly be considered an iconic pop culture treasure…
 

 

“Don’t You Want Me” from Freedom of Choice: Yesterday’s New Wave Hits Played by Today’s Stars

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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French schoolboys wear skirts to class to fight sexism
05.16.2014
06:54 am

Topics:
Activism
Amusing
Feminism

Tags:
skirts


 
Ah, the French, you have to admire their idealism and their love for liberté, égalité, fraternité and all that. Now in a bid to fight sexism and inequality in schools, the education authority in Nantes, western France, is encouraging schoolboys to drop their trousers and wear a skirt to class today, at 27 lycées in the city.

Actor Laurence Olivier once remarked that he found the best way to become a character was to start with the shoes. Once he knew how the person might walk, he was able to choose the clothes that would help him best identify and understand the character more fully. This maybe some of the thinking behind the idea of “LIft the Skirt” or, as it is in French, “Ce que soulève la jupe” (literally: “‘What raises the skirt”), a campaign originally devised by pupils themselves in a bid to stop sexism, which has been sanctioned by the city’s education chiefs, and by association France’s Ministry of Education.

For those boys who would rather not bare a leg, they can show their support for the campaign by wearing a sticker saying: “I am fighting against sexism, are you?”

According to Elisabeth Costagliola, head of the organization PEEP, the campaign is supported by the pupils’ parents, saying there has been no negative reaction when the event was held last year.

“On the contrary, it was really positive with students saying that even some male teachers were prepared to come to school in a skirt,” Costagliola said.

However, there has been some backlash further afield from conservative politicians, including Olivier Vial, president of the conservative UNI party, who said:

“We’ll do any old nonsense in the name of equality. This move is inspired by the Day of the Skirt, whose original aim was to allow women to express their femininity in environments where it was often difficult. But this is just denying feminine and masculine identity,” Vial said.

“Ce que soulève la jupe” is an interesting idea, but as a Scot, from a country where men have worn plaid skirts, or kilts, for centuries (and even “women’s tights” [stockings] in the trenches during World War One—to counteract poisonous gas), sexism and inequality are still problems, which are unlikely to be solved by a one-day skirt-wearing event, though, I guess one can hope.
 

 
Via The Local, H/T Arbroath.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Tabloid headlines rewritten not to be sexist!
05.05.2014
08:57 am

Topics:
Feminism
Pop Culture

Tags:
sexism

Normalizing headlines
 
The smart feminists over at Vagenda Magazine (slogan: “Like King Lear, but for girls”) asked their Twitter followers to fix the reflexively, egregiously, hyperbolically, breathlessly sexist tabloid headlines by creating new ones that seem to adhere to the actually humdrum events that happened. The celebrity press can’t exist without maintaining a continuous state of hysteria or high dudgeon over what is really nothing, and we certainly appreciate the corrective measures.

There’s no hashtag, apparently, but just go to the Vagenda twitter feed and you’ll see a bunch of them mixed in with other things.
 
Normalizing headlines
 
Normalizing headlines
 
Normalizing headlines
 
Normalizing headlines
 
Normalizing headlines
 
Normalizing headlines
 
Normalizing headlines
 
via HUH.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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The feminist fireworks of Judy Chicago were loud, bright and very, very vaginal
04.29.2014
07:12 am

Topics:
Art
Feminism

Tags:
fireworks
Judy Chicago


Chicago’s 2012 fireworks demo, ‘A Butterfly for Pomona.’ Her latest, ‘A Butterfly for Brooklyn,’ was much larger.
 
Judy Chicago is the original feminist artist—in fact she actually coined the term “feminist artist.” Her most famous work, “The Dinner Party,” is a gigantic installation, a three-sided table setting for 39 women from history and mythology, ranging from Hypatia to Saint Bridget to Sacajawea. Each place-setting has a customized tribute, and many of the plates feature Chicago’s trademark “butterfly vagina” imagery—think less anatomical, more Freudian floral. It’s a groundbreaking piece, but despite my affection for all things vaginal, it never really spoke to me. Don’t get me wrong, I highly recommend a visit to Brooklyn Museum for a viewing. It’s a hugely ambitious installation, full of deliberate detail and it challenges me to really articulate my criticism. I guess it just ain’t my cup of vagina.

Her latest piece, “A Butterfly for Brooklyn,” was much more to my liking, boom-loving rube that I am. To commemorate her 75th birthday, Chicago took over Brooklyn’s Prospect Park last Saturday with a fireworks display of the vulval variety. Far from a mere Fourth of July cliché, the 20 minute display of punany pyrotechnics came in ebbs and flows, metaphorically mirroring the life cycle of a butterfly. Chicago has done fireworks before, but not nearly to this scale and though the demonstration certainly kept in her milieu, this much more… accessible rendition of her famous butterflies brought feminist art to a crowd that might not all be so amenable to walking around a giant room full of vagina plates.

Plus, explosions! The people’s art!
 

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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I think I’m too old to play with Crampy Carla the Menstruation Barbie
04.17.2014
08:25 am

Topics:
Art
Feminism

Tags:
Crampy Carla


Yeah… pretty sure I’m gonna be okay, but thanks for the warning.
 
Fact: I love disturbing feminist art. I love irreverant feminist art. I especially love gross-out feminist art! Yet, Crampy Carla the Menstruation Barbie, the Instagram art project of feminist zine collective Fourth Wave Freaks just doesn’t do it for me, and I’m not sure why. The aesthetics are very Riot Grrrl (not my favorite genre)—one of her pictures even features a poster with the lyrics, “I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe” from the Bikini Kill song “I Like Fucking.” It’s possible this is just an issue of personal preference.

I might just be too old. I’m well past the point where anyone in my life is squeamish about menstruation and so this bombastic rage against people who feel vaguely icky about periods feels even more dated than Riot Grrrl itself. Nowadays, a casual mention of of menses illicit not the slightest of squirms, and if anyone did flinch, they’d probably be mocked outright—“Oh come on! Grow up!” Consequently, Carla’s affirmation of, “I have blood on my underwear, I don’t care. Pro-period, pro-choice. Fuck you tampons, fuck you pads - if you stop this girl’s flow, I will be mad” rings a little unnecessarily aggro for me—it’s not as if your monthlies relegate you to some kind of culturally-mandated menstrual hut. No one really cares if you’re bleeding everywhere Carla. Just don’t get it on the couch.
 

 

 

 

 

 
Via Bust

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Attention Doctor Who fans: Watch ‘The Delian Mode’ terrific short documentary on Delia Derbyshire
04.09.2014
08:58 am

Topics:
Feminism
Music
Science/Tech

Tags:
Doctor Who
Delia Derbyshire


 
Canadian director Kara Blake‘s award-winning short documentary The Delian Mode is an audio-visual love letter to pioneering electronic composer Delia Derbyshire, best known for her spooky rendering of Ron Grainer’s Doctor Who theme music for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in 1963. (Legend has it that when Grainer heard what she’d done—creating each quavering, alien-sounding note by speeding up or slowing down analog tape recordings of a single plucked string, then cutting and splicing it—with rulers, razor and cellophane tape—before embellishing the results with the sound of waveform oscillators and white noise, he asked “Did I write that?” She answered “Most of it.”). It’s an impressive piece of filmmaking, dreamlike, lyrical and especially pleasing to the eye—and ear—for a documentary. Blake wouldn’t have had a lot to work with (I’ve only ever seen one short film clip of Derbyshire) but does a wonderful job of presenting a well-rounded account of Delia Derbyshire’s work and of her influence on electronic dance music.

You simply cannot watch this marvelous film without concluding that Delia Derbyshire was a creative and technical genius, producing complex music that seemed to come directly from another dimension, yet was wholly constructed via analog means (such as a tape loop that ran all the way down a hallway or slowing down the sound of banging on a metal lampshade.)

The Delian Mode is inspiring, it’s a bit sad (depression and alcoholism plagued Derbyshire’s life) but it’s a story that needed to be told and told with respect. That she was a self-created woman working in what was then largely a man’s space makes her achievements seem all the more remarkable and and especially cool. (At one point we hear audio of Derbyshire describing herself as being a “post-feminist” before the concept of feminism even existed, although there were other women veterans of the BBC Radiophonic Laboratory, notably Daphne Oram, creator of “Oramics,” which controlled sound with celluloid plates, and Maddalena Fagandini.)

Blake interviews Derbyshire’s colleagues at the BBC Radio Workshop, Adrian Utley of Portishead, Ann Shenton of Add N to (X) and Sonic Boom aka Peter Kember of Spacemen 3, Spectrum and E.A.R., who brought Derbyshire into his own work towards the end of her life on the E.A.R. albums Vibrations (2000) and Continuum (2001).

After Derbyshire’s death, 267 reel-to-reel tapes and a box of a thousand pages of music and notes were found in her attic. Her life and work will be celebrated this Saturday April 12th on Delia Derbyshire Day at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester.
 

 
More Delia Derbyshire after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Do not run’: Hints for straight college girls encountering lesbians, 1988
04.08.2014
09:52 am

Topics:
Amusing
Feminism
History
Queer

Tags:
lesbian


 
New York magazine’s music critic Jody Rosen posted this gem on his Twitter and added, “...priceless period piece unearthed yesterday by a friend packing for a move.”

 
Man, how times have changed since 1988. My favorite “hints” and tips are:

1.  Do not run from the room. This is rude.

2.  If you must back away, do so slowly and with discretion.

15. Do respect her Individuality. She is a lesbian, but she is also Mary, Pam and Lori…

h/t Gawker

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Call the Midwife: Fabric wombs from the 18th century
04.04.2014
02:23 pm

Topics:
Feminism
History

Tags:
Midwives
pregnancy


 
I’m a sucker for the British period drama Call The Midwife. The show has its corny moments admittedly, but it’s fascinating to watch how pregnant women, midwives and nuns living in the poor East End of London during the 1950s dealt with safe childbirth in the era before epidurals, C-sections or even adequate sanitary conditions.

So when I saw these fabric wombs dated around 1760 I was immediately transfixed and interested. Pioneering midwife Angélique Marguerite Le Boursier du Coudray created the fabric wombs as a teaching tool:

In 1759 the king commissioned her to teach midwifery to rural women to reduce infant mortality. Between 1760 to 1783, she traveled rural France, sharing her knowledge with women. During this time, she is estimated to have directly trained 4,000 students.

Du Coudray invented the first lifesize obstetrical mannequin, called “The Machine.” Various strings and straps serve to simulate the process of childbirth. The head of the infant mannequin has a shaped nose, stitched ears, hair drawn with ink, and an open mouth, with tongue.

While they’re semi-creepy to look at, I’m sure they saved a lot of lives.


 

 

 
Via Retronaut and h/t Jezebel

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘Born in Flames’: Feminist terrorism in a post-capitalist dystopia
04.04.2014
07:57 am

Topics:
Feminism
Movies
Queer
Race

Tags:
Adele Bertei
Born In Flames


 
It’s been a hot minute since I watched a movie that really blew me away with its concept and vision, and I I have no idea how I only just discovered 1983’s Born in Flames. Everything about it is in my wheelhouse. Set in an alternative New York City, Born in Flames is a feminist telling of the injustices plaguing society after a socialist revolution. It goes without saying that a theoretical “post-capitalist patriarchy” is the subject of much debate among socialist feminists—the more “vulgar Marxist” of us believe that capitalism is the very foundation of oppression, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a socialist feminist proclaiming that the abolition of capitalism will be a silver bullet to end all sexism.

Of course, in Born in Flames, the “revolution” has actually changed very little in regards to the state or social order. Police still exercise an absurd amount of power, often wielding it violently, communities are still reliant on mutual aid for essential services like childcare, ghettos remain dilapidated, and meaningful work is scarce. A workfare program has been instituted to alleviate unemployment, but this triggers a macho backlash. Now, exacerbating the sexism and misogyny that pervaded pre-revolution, men are rioting, under the impression that women and minorities are taking all the “good jobs.” It’s by no means an unheard of scenario—phony revolution fails to placate the people, and the reactionary tendency is to blame the marginalized for social and economic woes.

The plot of the film centers on two factions of women, each with their own pirate feminist radio station. Radio Ragazza is run by a white lesbian named Isabel, played by Adele Bertei, a prominent figure in New York’s “No Wave” scene—she played organ and guitar in James Chance and the Contortions, and fronted The Bloods, rock’s first openly lesbian group. A black woman named Honey (played by an actress plucked from obscurity by director Lizzie Borden, and billed only as “Honey”) runs Phoenix Radio. When a famous feminist activist is arrested and dies in police custody, foul play is rightfully suspected, and unrest in the women’s movements grows. A vigilante Women’s Army appears, intervening on assaults against women in a stampede of bicycles—the media labels them terrorists, but Honey and Isabel, who once perceived these sorts of renegade tactics as a bridge too far, begin to see the need for escalation. The ideological leader of the Women’s Army is Zella, played by Florynce Kennedy, a real-life civil rights lawyer and feminist. (In the movie, Zella likens violence to urination—saying there is a time and a place. In real life, Florynce led a mass urination on Harvard’s campus to protest the lack of women’s bathrooms.)

Eventually, both radio stations are burned to the ground, but Isabel and Honey combine forces to create “Phoenix Ragazza Radio” from stolen equipment. “Ragazza” means “female friend, and “Phoenix” is the mythical bird that rises from the ashes; some may find the metaphor a bit heavy-handed, but the anti-obscurantist in me loves it. The pair join the Women’s Army, who are now moving to take over TV stations. Large-scale armed struggle appears inevitable. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but climax is astonishing, especially now, in a post 9-11 America.

Shot partially with a documentary-style narrative, the storytelling of Born in Flames is ambitious but expertly executed. Director Lizzie Borden, who also directed the 1986 classic, Working Girls, a feminist flick on the lives of high-end escorts, manages to masterfully weave FBI reports, news broadcasts, and radio transmissions with a traditional dramatic movie. Though it’s a fast-paced and brutal, much of the plot is centered around women’s negotiations and strategies—it’s a cinematic exploration of the old political question, “what is to be done,” and it directly addresses the question of necessary violence. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Eagle-eyed viewers will spot Eric Bogosian (in his first onscreen role), future Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow and Ron Vawter, one of the founders of the avant garde Wooster Group.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Adele Bertei: ‘Adventures in the Town of Empty’

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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