Links of Great Interest: WHAT.

Okay, real talk time, y’all. I am exhausted because of my dissertation. I’m sorry that I haven’t been keeping up with blogging, but please know that I’m maintaining a gigantic archive of your submissions, and will post them sometime soon. Probably next Fri.

In other news, the US wants to punish a UK citizen for crimes committed on UK soil.

Nora Ephron is DEAD.

Oh, Louisiana. You KNOW the Loch Ness monster isn’t real. True Blood is pretend!

The amazing Jennifer Armintrout breaks down Shades of Grey.

I’ve been really digging this blog.

On “Can Women Have It All?”

On military families poisoned by the gov’t.

I see a budding ecofeminist. :)

A sexual assault survivor talks about surrogacy.

On the art of NO.

Will.I.Am is more tactful than me.

On misogyny in that new Snow White movie.

Comics and suffragettes!

Anita Blake and faux feminism. The LKH Lashouts comm responds.

Alice Walker talks about The Color Purple and publishing for social justice.

YES. Your next top model.

On breast-feeding in uniform.

On body-shaming and pregnancy.

Comments

  1. says

    I saw Snow White and the Huntsman last weekend. I had such high hopes for Kristen Stewart, but except for the points where she was all badass I was rather let down. The whole Ravenna thing seemed to be some social commentary about taking the beauty/youth ideal too far. Also she seemed to be anti-nature, whereas Snow was pro-nature.

    Also, two different men kissing her while she’s in a coma? Even my boyfriend commented about how creepy that was.

  2. says

    The Art of No is a great article. What I’m working on in myself and what I’m seeing in other women is this tendency to “excuse” the no. So I say, “No, I don’t think that will work,” and the other person (often male) will say, “What’s the problem, I can make it work”, and then there’s this back and forth. And it’s not like the guy is necessarily doing something wrong – often, giving a reason why not is an invitation to open negotiations. If I say I can’t because I don’t have a widget, and the guy has a widget he can loan me, it’s logical to think this can fix it.

    So what I’m working on for myself is to either just say “no” or, if I must excuse the no, use a reason from my own self that can’t be contested (“I don’t want to” / “I don’t think it will be fun”, etc.) If someone continues to argue past that point, I know they’re willfully ignoring my boundaries. So at that point I have to just keep reiterating my boundaries and not let myself get sucked into negotiation.

    ~~~

    I didn’t have high hopes going into Snow White and the Huntsman because titles are one of my litmus tests. If the original title is solely about a woman and you felt the need to make it about both a woman and a man (or just the man as was the case with John Carter, or neither as was the case with Tangled), I’m not going to expect much of your priorities.

    Ravenna’s backstory gave me hope that this movie might be more. Ravenna explicitly connects beauty to power and power to survival, which is a hell of a lot more than most versions bother with. There was a lot of potential in that, and her whole “do unto others before they do unto you” vibe could have developed into a “road to hell is paved with good intentions” deal. And there were some parallels between Ravenna and Snow that really should have been explored more – each of their mothers spilled three drops of blood and wished for beautiful daughters, frex. Unfortunately, none of these interesting seeds bear any fruit.

    I don’t agree with the article that we should be rooting for Ravenna, because you know who does the most actual damage to women in this movie? Ravenna. She goes all Elizabeth Bathory on every woman she can find – young and pretty by preference, but stout and middle-aged will do in a pinch. It’s implied that her brother is a rapist/pedophile, and I believe that one lord and a few of the dwarves make some sexist remarks, but as far as confirmed damage goes Ravenna is the only one.

    I did like that the final scene of the movie was Snow’s coronation. Not a wedding, not shared with or interrupted by What’s-His-Face. It’s a moment of triumph for her and her alone, and the triumph is political power she earned herself in a palace coup (instead of a wedding which is all the power most women get in medieval-esque fantasies).

  3. says

    The Art of No is indeed awesome! I’m really good at saying no to friends and family, and even employers to the extent any of us can afford to say no in that position. But alone with a guy I don’t know well? The very thought terrifies me.

    This is probably because my father was Angry Guy, so I grew up knowing they were out there, and you couldn’t tell them from regular guys until you rejected them, therefore it’s just not safe to say no to them. It’s also not safe NOT to say no to them, since there is ZERO chance they’ll respect your no if you don’t actually issue it, so this is why I’m so reluctant to date someone I don’t already know. First dates with strangers are not fun experiences where I’m getting to know someone: they are tense sessions during which I’m scrutinizing hard for signs that he might be Angry Guy. So I just don’t date like that.

    Dating as we go about it is really just a recipe for date rape. I don’t know why people still think there’s something wrong with YOU if you don’t want to date in the traditional, awkward, scary way.

  4. DNi says

    Uh, no offense, but I think you might want to alter the way you’ve written the link to the story about Nora Ephron’s death. It kind of comes off as disrespectful, like it’s the punchline to a joke.

  5. Dani says

    Sylvia Sybil:

    I didn’t have high hopes going into Snow White and the Huntsman because titles are one of my litmus tests. If the original title is solely about a woman and you felt the need to make it about both a woman and a man (or just the man as was the case with John Carter, or neither as was the case with Tangled), I’m not going to expect much of your priorities.

    Ravenna’s backstory gave me hope that this movie might be more. Ravenna explicitly connects beauty to power and power to survival, which is a hell of a lot more than most versions bother with. There was a lot of potential in that, and her whole “do unto others before they do unto you” vibe could have developed into a “road to hell is paved with good intentions” deal. And there were some parallels between Ravenna and Snow that really should have been explored more – each of their mothers spilled three drops of blood and wished for beautiful daughters, frex. Unfortunately, none of these interesting seeds bear any fruit.

    I don’t agree with the article that we should be rooting for Ravenna, because you know who does the most actual damage to women in this movie? Ravenna. She goes all Elizabeth Bathory on every woman she can find – young and pretty by preference, but stout and middle-aged will do in a pinch. It’s implied that her brother is a rapist/pedophile, and I believe that one lord and a few of the dwarves make some sexist remarks, but as far as confirmed damage goes Ravenna is the only one.

    I did like that the final scene of the movie was Snow’s coronation. Not a wedding, not shared with or interrupted by What’s-His-Face. It’s a moment of triumph for her and her alone, and the triumph is political power she earned herself in a palace coup (instead of a wedding which is all the power most women get in medieval-esque fantasies).

    I agree.

    *POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

    I’ve read some interpretations of the Snow White story that identify one of the major themes as being about the male voice and its power to decide what is ideal for a woman (like how the (traditionally) male mirror tells the Queen who the “fairest of them all” is), and I was thinking about this as I went into the movie. Some scenes (particularly those where Ravenna is talking about her past) made me think that this could have been a really interesting look at how a patriarchal society negatively affects the women living in it, had there been some sort of critique of the society that created Ravenna even as her actions were portrayed as evil. I also don’t think that we should root for Ravenna (as you said, she does the most damage to women in the movie), but neither do I think it’s okay for the king to come upon an imprisoned woman and decide right there to marry her because he wants her, ignoring the trauma she has just been through and completely overlooking her consent. I wish there would have been more of a critique of that behavior in the movie; it wouldn’t make Ravenna’s actions any less evil, but it would have made her a more simpathetic and well-rounded villain (which, in my opinion, makes a better villain) and would have made the movie more challenging, thought-provoking, and relevant than it ended up being.

    One of the other aspects of the film that took it away from it was the virgin/whore dichotomy between Snow White and the Queen. The reason Snow White will be the one to defeat the Queen? Her purity and innocence. Not her courage, not her resourcefulness, not her strength. Her *purity*. Maybe it’s because I’d been reading a lot about the negative effects of American “purity culture” around the time I saw the movie, but that line made me ill. It makes it worse that, as the author of the article pointed out, Snow White doesn’t really have any sexual desires throughout the entire film. Just before the huntsman kisses her (while she’s comatose, because who needs consent?…ugh), he talked about how he was a mess, and then he met his wife, and then he was a mess again, and then he met her. So, pure woman cleans up and civilizes dirty man? Is that the moral I’m supposed to take away from this story?

    Actually, the film’s entire handling of Snow White sucked. The movie goes from showing her being felt up by Ravenna’s brother to, roughly five minutes later, having the huntsman forcefully cut the bottom of her dress off. The writers couldn’t have him offer the knife to her? Or have her, after stumbling through the Dark Forest in long skirts, think of it herself? And, like the king, there is no critique of the huntsman’s behavior here. Not even a “maybe reaching out and removing part of a woman’s clothing without her telling you it’s okay to do so isn’t such a good idea…”.

  6. Maria says

    Tone’s hard to read over the internet. I’d never joke about someone being dead, particularly someone who was a talented writer working in a sexist system and producing work in a variety of genres.

  7. says

    Dani: neither do I think it’s okay for the king to come upon an imprisoned woman and decide right there to marry her because he wants her, ignoring the trauma she has just been through and completely overlooking her consent.

    We don’t know if the king explicitly overlooks her consent: the movie cuts from the rescue to the wedding. The first time we see them actually talk to each other, they’re in the bedroom and Ravenna points out that she set the entire army up to seduce him into marrying her. Still incredibly rapetastic of the king to decide to marry and then paw all over an apparently traumatized young woman twenty four hours after rescuing her…but it takes it from the realm of forceful rape (“I don’t care if you say no”) to manipulative rape (“Oh, you’re vulnerable right now? Sounds like a good time to make an offer you can’t refuse”). If anything, this makes it worse, because the audience would probably have more sympathy for Ravenna if she said “No” clearly and the king ignored her. Having her “seduce him into rape” *shudder* is a pretty victim-blamey position.

    Dani: having the huntsman forcefully cut the bottom of her dress off. […] Not even a “maybe reaching out and removing part of a woman’s clothing without her telling you it’s okay to do so isn’t such a good idea…”.

    I had forgotten that! He even says something like, “Don’t flatter yourself” when she looks at him in fear, which is another rape trope. Rape is not a compliment.

    …It is a pretty rapetastic movie, isn’t it?

  8. Gabbie says

    I love the article on Samantha Harris. I’ve often said Australia is at least as bigoted as the US. Though I don’t like her chances, I’m rooting for her to be the first Aboriginal-Australian supermodel. (Though she’s too skinny.)

  9. says

    I really liked that Ravenna had a point. It made her a sympathetic villain. And the film was boring when it didn’t focus on her. I guess I didn’t expect much from the film otherwise, because I wasn’t disappointed. (Embarrassed by the stag, though.) I knew going in that Stewart was miscast and that Theron would bring all the fun.

    I want to comment on that throwaway line someone made above on Erzsebet (Elizabeth) Bathory and the whole Blood Countess thing. When I went to read up on her, I found one lurid history book on how evil she was, murdering 600 girls/women etc, but on the same shelf at the library I found another book by a historian on how people appeared to be just making stuff up during the trial. One woman testified that a soldier told her that when he was searching the castle he found a book listing the 600 victims. No testimony from the soldier or actual book as far as I know. And she was supposedly caught in the act, but actually caught eating dinner. This historian pointed out that a recent (1990s?) find suggested that she had been involved in a Hungarian independence movement, which would have been treason. (The Austrian king also owed her piles of money, from a military effort her husband had paid for and hadn’t been paid back for yet.) A friend of the family found out the king was planning on charging her with witchcraft, which would have allowed him to stop her without making this independence movement public, and simultaneously allow him to confiscate all her estates (witchhunts were profitable). So the family moved against her first in order to preempt the king. The historian points out that she was exceptionally wealthy and powerful, and as a widow, was considered unnatural for not turning her wealth over to her children and retiring, and that she was *not* the only wealthy powerful widow to be accused of witchcraft during that period. Only her family got wind of it, and intervened with criminal charges first. I don’t remember the name of the book or author but it shouldn’t be hard to find. I’m disappointed in the Wikipedia page (but I just skimmed it enough to see that it actually believes she actually killed people). As far as I know, the trial against her was a political maneuver rather than a true criminal trial. She signed over her estates and retired to house arrest at one of her castles, where she died a year later.

    There seems to be this quest for the perfect female villain: the Blood Countess, who probably really didn’t kill anyone, but who was horrible to work for; Aileen Wuornos, who pleaded self-defense for each of her crimes (and it probably was self-defense, too, though people weren’t receptive to that then). And then it pops up in movies. The Brothers Grimm had a Blood Countess, too, also very well cast.

    And yet in real life these were women who were politically unwelcome, because they defied social role norms by being more assertive in one way or another. The Blood Countess myth makes for good story telling, but I don’t think it was ever reality.

    So that adds a layer to the whole Ravenna thing.

    Apparently there are two more planned in a trilogy, and she might be coming back?

  10. says

    Anemone,

    I just looked up this Erzsebet (Elizabeth) Bathory person, not having been familiar with her before. It looks to me like while the traditional version of her history has been credibly disputed by a couple of people, it hasn’t lost general acceptance yet. And Wikipedia mentions:

    László Nagy has argued that Elizabeth Báthory was a victim of a conspiracy,[11] a view opposed by others.[12] Nagy argued that the proceedings were largely politically motivated. The theory is consistent with Hungarian history at that time.

    So it sounds like they are acknowledging the plausibility of his view, but that he’s in the minority right now. Which is how history works – others will have to become convinced of his view before it’s accepted as the truth.

    I find both versions equally plausible. Unrestrained super-privileged people do often enjoy torturing the hell out of nobodies, but politically powerful women could definitely inspire conspiracies. It could also be a little of both.

  11. says

    Anemone,

    I’m familiar with her as an influence on vampire legends – an influence her story has had whether true or false. According to the stories, she was obsessed with staying young and believed that bathing in the blood of beautiful women would keep her young and beautiful. That was the story I referred to when I tossed out her name, assuming (perhaps wrongly) that other people would understand the reference.

    No slight to any genuine historical figure was intended. :)

    Though I’m really not surprised to learn it was a slander motivated by sexist reasons – it’s a sexist story.

  12. Dani says

    Sylvia Sybil:

    …It is a pretty rapetastic movie, isn’t it?

    It really is. I’d seen/read some nice re-imaginings of Snow White (Once Upon a Time, Jim C. Hines’ PRINCESS NOVELS) and I was really hoping that this movie would be another to add to that list. To say that I was “disappointed” would be a big understatement.

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