ENTERTAINMENT - Want to see a movie that is rather... misogynistic?
The "Antichrist" is a horror film starring William Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg and is rather graphic... featuring a scene in which she lops off her clitoris with a pair of rusty scissors.
I shit you not. Thats pretty graphic.
The film was recently shown at the Cannes Film Fest... and festival chief Thierry Frémaux remarked that the Cannes jury made "a ridiculous decision that borders on a call for censorship" when the primarily Christian jury gave the film the "anti-prize" for being "the most misogynistic movie" at the fest.
Now evidently people are going to get upset about this film. The name "Antichrist" alone is sure to offend some religious folks and create confusion about what the film is about.
The film wasn't the only film at Cannes that was anti-woman. Its actually a theme this year. "Kinatay" features the kidnapping, rape, torture, murder and dismemberment of a prostitute.
"Enter the Void" is about a Tokyo stripper named Linda who is haunted by the spirit of her recently murdered brother, and the end of the film features a rape scene viewed from inside the vagina.
"The White Ribbon" is set in a remote German village just before World War I, where the village elders variously commit incest with their daughters, physically and emotionally abuse their spouses and lovers and treat women like slaves.
Then there's the opening scene in "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo" about a female fish cutter who moonlights as a hit-woman. In the scene a group of Japanese businessmen sitting around eating sushi off the torsos of naked women who lie before them, all the while making sexist and racist remarks.
So what is the point of these films? Well, you might say they are to provoke the audience in the hope that people realize times are changing, but in some cases they really haven't changed that much. Women are still seen as sexual playthings by many men.
Thus these films are just a wake up call to women. I am not saying we should start burning bras again (thats just silly in my opinion), but it is certainly past time that many women start taking a more active role in promoting equality.
ENTERTAINMENT - Want to see a movie that is rather... misogynistic?
CANADA/FEMINISM - No, we're not launching babies into outer space. If you're confused about the name satellite babies, we should best start you off on the right foot so you know what it is we are talking about.
Satellite Babies is the unusual but growing practice of immigrant women (often single mothers) sending their babies to live with their grandparents or aunts/uncles overseas so they can focus on school or career here in North America.
Its a tough decision to make. It can be very difficult to raise a child all by yourself, even if you do live in a wealthy nation like Canada or the United States. Sending your baby overseas to China, India or wherever to be raised by the relatives isn't really a right or wrong decision. Its a very gray area and its up to the individual to decide what is best for their baby and for themselves.
During a recession or during times of financial peril it does make a lot of sense.
According to a Canadian study published in the Infant Mental Health Journal, an increasing number of immigrants to Canada and the U.S. are shipping infants to their home country to be raised by extended families. In Greater Toronto alone an estimated 2,000 Canadian-born kids of Chinese parents are sent back to mainland China each year, then returned to Canada when they reach school age.
"These parents are completely torn by the decision, but they believe in this collectivist value that their own pain of separating from their child will be a greater good for the family (later on)," says researcher Professor Yvonne Bohr. "The family system is the building block of a community. When it is changed, compressed and stressed, it could create problems in relationships."
"Serial family separations are common in countries that welcome immigrants, and could be but one of many repercussions of globalization for parents and their children," says the 22-page article. There's even support groups in Toronto that help guide parents through the pros and cons of sending their children home.
"I've built this bonding with my baby boy, seeing him grow every day. It is hard to be separated from him," says one mother with two kids. "But to keep him here, I can't go to English classes or get a job. I really don't know what to do."
"It's too expensive to put two kids in daycare. I don't have any support," she says.
All of the families interviewed for the study cited the necessity to retrain or to develop their careers and the high cost of child care as reasons that would make it impossible to keep their baby in Canada. Some said they tried to bring the grandparents to help babysit in Canada, but were caught up in government bureaucracy.
More than half said their own grandparents had taken care of them, so having their children raised by their own parents feels very traditional. Returning the child to the old culture seemed to be an acceptable solution, the report found.
The parents are also really torn by their decision. Its a decision of necessity because there isn't a lot of support for immigrant mothers. The parents also expressed "sorrow, hardship and guilt" for the "abdication of responsibility and of letting the baby down."
Professor Bohr says parents also raise concerns over the returning school-age kids' adjustment to a new place, as well as depression at being separated from their grandparents.
Some people will no doubt say that these women are bad mothers, but such naysayers have never been in such a position of poverty and doubt about their future, or the future of their children.
Technically the practice of sending children to live with their grandparents does happen frequently in North America, its just that we're not used to sending them overseas.
FASHION - Marks & Spencer (M&S) has admitted it was wrong to charge a £2 ($3) surcharge on larger bra sizes, after months of campaigning on Facebook and Twitter by large-breasted activists who felt they were being discriminated against. M&S is Britain's largest retailer of bras and lingerie.
Marks & Spencer has placed full-page ads in newspapers today stating "We boobed". The ad reads: "It’s true our fantastic quality larger bras cost more money to make, and we felt it was right to reflect this in the prices we charged. Well, we were wrong, so as of Saturday 9 May, the storm in a D cup is over!"
M&S said it will reduce the price of its bras over a size DD by up to £2 and for two weeks from Saturday (today), it will also reduce all prices for bras (regardless of size) by 25 per cent. The retailer said: "Every woman can now experience the difference a well-made quality bra will make."
M&S came under fire from The Busts 4 Justice campaign group for applying the £2 surcharge. One campaigner bought one share in the company so she could confront boss Sir Stuart Rose at the company’s Annual General Meeting.
M&S had said that bigger bras needed more work to develop a greater level of support and therefore the cost was justified, but ignored the fact that under that logic smaller bras are more profitable because they take less material/work, and therefore it all evens out in the end.
Busts 4 Justice has more than 8,000 members and the group's co-founder, Beckie Williams – a 34E – argues that just as fat or tall people don't have to spend extra on larger clothes, so women with bigger breasts should not have to pay more for larger bras.
"We've won, and we never thought it would happen so quickly," said Becky Mount, also a co-founder. "They didn't want a lot of big-breasted women storming their meeting."
British celebrity Ulrika Jonsson has been scathing of the £2 surcharge. She said: "This is nothing short of a tax on bigger breasts." Ulrika Jonsson had breast reduction surgery when after 4 kids her breasts ballooned to size 34I. The surgery decreased her breast size to 34C.
Having naturally large breasts is more of a curse for many women. They're uncomfortable, they become deformed and lumpy (and unsexy) and they make it difficult to purchase clothing that fits properly. There's also numerous health hazards, the least of which is chronic back pain.
Some women may revel in having large breasts, but its a double-edged sword.
"It's really awful, actually. I get terrible back pain," says one woman. "And I can never find a bra that fits, or doesn't look like a piece of building equipment or surgical dressing. Also, people just stare at them all the time. It's as if I'm not a person – I'm just a giant pair of boobs."
"People may joke about it, but bras are a sensitive subject," says Williams. "It just shows how much of an emotional issue having big boobs is for a lot of women."
The History of the Bra
The History of the Corset & Brassiere
FEMINISM/SEX - There is a new book out called "Oral Sex is the New Goodnight Kiss", by documentary filmmaker Sharlene Azam. She also made a documentary with the same title, in which she interviews teenage girls in Canada and the United States about oral sex.
While there is nothing wrong with sex itself (its certainly not a sin), the disturbing trend is that these teenage girls are incredibly young. Some of them aren't even teenagers yet, which is even more disturbing.
And then there's also a growing trend of middle-class girls who are giving oral sex after school so that they have money to go shopping or buy drugs. Its essentially prostitution, but the girls often see it as nothing more than easy money.
Worlds away from the poverty, neglect and desperation that are the hallmarks of prostitution, these teenagers may appear bright and well-adjusted but the interviews in the book and in the film show that for teenage girls, oral sex is now quite socially accepted, hence the title "Oral Sex is the New Goodnight Kiss", which implies a new way to say good-bye to their boyfriend every night.
Azam also interviewed their parents of the girls involved in the survey who had been discovered by school officials to be involved in sexual activity with groups of boys, as well as girls charged by police for prostitution. Several of them were from a teenage prostitution ring at an Edmonton high school.
The parents admit they were not paying close enough attention to their daughters and had just assumed they were completely innocent.
Azam met several of the girls while researching sexual attitudes and was asked to talk to the students in the Flex Program. "The Flex kids have been out of school for various problems. In that class, I met a lovely blond girl with perfect makeup and a Louis Vuitton bag who seemed completely out of place. I asked the teacher about her and was told that she had been recruited by a girl at school and trafficked to a small town where she was kept in a motel. That was the beginning of my research into teenage recruiters and the middle-class girls they target. This was a new kind of predator," says Azam.
"Getting the releases was not difficult because the parents wanted to talk about this. There is no forum for them. There is no counseling. There is no social group for a mother whose teenage daughter is having sex with five men a night. The difficulty ... is for the mothers to finally take responsibility for what has happened to their daughters."
"The girls were okay talking about giving oral sex to a number of boys – they didn't stumble with the words or appear shy or ashamed. The reason they speak about it unflinchingly is because it has become as benign and as acceptable as kissing. This is what our culture has become. Think back to the '80s when girls would blush when talking about their first kiss. We are way past that point with blowjobs. The real question is, 'What's next?'" explains Azam
"I began to associate my own personal power with giving a man pleasure. I liked hearing them make noises because it made me feel powerful to be able to affect someone in that way. I didn't know I had so much power." - Heather, Age 16.
"We have let Girls Gone Wild and the media culture define them," says Azam. "It is important to remember that the responsibility lies with parents, teachers and adults.... Boys are downloading pornography on their cellphones. This is how they are learning how they are supposed to treat girls."
Azam also goes on to say that young girls need a public voice speaking up for them and their rights, instead of being force-fed what the media wants them to act like.
HOWEVER, and I want to stress this, these days girls are at risk to a lot worse than mere oral sex. With pregnancy, AIDS, a variety of other STDs out there, date rape drugs, and the internet giving them the power to meet all sorts of men... that is a lot for young girls to handle.
Teen Sex Obsession and Sex Education
The Lolita Complex: Sex in Hollywood
Your Kids Vs Pornography
Sixteen and ready for sex?
You see when I first saw the video... my first words was "What is this advertising?" I had immediately jumped to that conclusion, and then taken the next step, if its not advertising, it would certainly make good advertising online. It is apparently a clip from a German film, but I immediately thought of the advertising potential of a clip like this. Not for TV obviously (because then children would see it), but as internet advertising.
And I realized, and admonished myself for doing so, that I had immediately jumped to the conclusion that this would make good advertising because as we all know sex sells. Ergo... I thought sexually charged advertising = good advertising.
And in this era of internet advertising (and the increasing obsoleteness of television) this just made sense.
However... its not like we don't already have sexually charged advertising on TV. Check out this Marca Bavaria beer ad from 2003:
Or this ad from Nintendo Wii:
And we're more or less used to seeing such things on TV or the internet these days (although online you can get a lot more raunchy because there is no one looking over the advertiser's shoulder to see if they follow any ethical standards or show nudity).
The trick I think I should point out is that these ads aren't just sexually charged... they're smart and witty. Like this one for Diet Coca-Cola:
Advertisers seem to have mastered the ability of balancing sexuality and wittiness in their ads... Why? Because they know we'd get offended if the ad was blatantly offensive and had no wit involved.
We all know sexually charged advertising is here to stay, but what we have to watch out for is the ones that present an offensive stereotype. The trick after that is to let the company know we will be boycotting their product until after the ads are pulled (hopefully without letting the media know, because mass media attention is probably what they are looking for anyway).
I also want to take this moment to say kudos to the good people at South Park for making their new episode "The Ring", which depicts how the Walt Disney Corporation uses sex to sell their movies, music and products to little girls. I strongly recommend people watch the episode.
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