25 July 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Fake Orgasm (2010)


While normally we do not mind spoilers (assuming that analysis = spoiler), this is an exception. Click "play" and watch this 2010 documentary on conceptual/performance artist Lazlo Pearlman. The title Fake Orgasm refers to one of his performance which included a fake orgasm competition... but that's just the beginning as he goes much farther exploring and demolishing the notions of gender, heteronormativity, gendered expectations in the bed and out of it.

If you are already familiar enough with the notion that gender binary is an anachronistic concept, this won't be that surprising, of course. But it can still give you ideas about possible work in bringing this message to other (unsuspecting) people and breaking down the cages that social constructs like this may be for people.  

There are some moments of Spanish spoken with no translation in this version, but you should be able to manage through it. All the crucial narrative is in English.

18 July 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (2011)


For a culturally stimulating watch that familiarizes you with one of the icons of the men's men's men's world that fashion was and still is to a large extent, get Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (2011).

Introducing Diana Vreeland (1903-1989) - especially to those that were born after her epoch in Vogue had already ended - and through archive footage and people that knew her showing that:

You don't have to be conventionally pretty to have fun with dressing-up and to become a style paradigm on your own.

You don't necessarily need a formal education to be good at something and get a job that you are passionate about (although this part is clearly much harder than it was in the 1930's).

You may realize and act upon the fact that family life may just not be for you. Nevertheless - and as the children of Diana confirm - would be nice to realize that before actually bringing any children into the world.

You should be able to express yourself and speak clearly and loudly from your most authentic self. This is not a victimless advice, of course, but the clear satisfaction you can see in Diana's face when commenting on how she perceived the world is priceless. (Again, this is not to promise that just anybody can become the editor-in-chief of Vogue, but to encourage to practice creative self-expression whenever and however you feel it to be adequate. And maybe a bit over the top too.)

You should - to the extent that's possible, obviously - surround yourself by things and people that entertain, educate, and inspire. Because the eye (and the mind) has to travel.  


16 July 2014

Inspirational women taking pictures

A 19th century photographer, found on Pinterest.

Instead of talking again and again of how women are so often objectified by media and the popular culture, let's look at women who have literally objectified others and made art out of it. This is a mini compilation that brings together some that dedicated their skill and film to capture conventional beauty for mainstream culture (and did it very well!) and some that observed the real life passing by, even shifted through the darker aspects of the reality.

Regina Relang (1906-1989) was an artist and a self taught photographer from Munich, Germany. She began working for Vogue in 1938 and became one of the leading German fashion photographers in the 50's and 60's.

Diane Arbus (1923-1971) was a photographer that went from a family commercial fashion photography business to a full-fledged passion for the weird, the raw, the hidden.  A version of her artistic journey is developed in Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus.

Karen Radkai was a freelance photographer that worked primarily for Vogue in the 50s and 60s. Internets know little more about her, but offer her work though.

Vivian Maier (1926-2009) was a nanny who lived in Chicago for most of her life and passed away in 2009 at the age of 83. Little more is known about her, except that she was an avid street photographer. Her work was discovered at an auction in 2007, more than 100,000 negatives and undeveloped rolls of film, sold by a storage facility who were cleaning out her locker for delinquent rent. Cannot wait to get my hands on the documentary that tells more about this thrilling discovery.

Annie Leibovitz (1949) an American portrait photographer, doing mostly very glossy celebrity photos. Many of them very good and already iconic, though.

11 July 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (2014)


Cha-chan! Here you have a series (well, 13 times 44 minutes) that are breathtakingly inspirational on several levels: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (2014). It's a work of many people, including the antifeminist-but-rich-enough-to-fund-science-communication-projects Seth MacFarlane and the amazing Ann Druyan and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Love for science and Carl Sagan has already been expressed on this blog, so now we just have to convince about the added extras that the new Cosmos includes.

Verónica Bayetti Flores has already done that in her Feministing.com article Five times Cosmos’ Neil deGrasse Tyson stole my feminist heart that captures very well how at times the new Cosmos goes even further than the Carl Sagan's one in criticizing the harm that we humans do to each other and other species. Some of the obstacles in our way to well-being and harmony that Cosmos identifies are lack of knowledge, of course, but also the predatory capitalism, religious dogmatism, human pettiness and the structurally discriminating hierarchies of knowledge that have left and keeps leaving behind many people... including women, of course. This Cosmos does introduce you to many females science pioneers you had no idea about. Plus, the discrimination and ridicule suffered by them is also very clear. And the determination and lucky circumstances needed to succeed in the men's world that science was is.

Among others, you'll get to know Ms. Annie Jump Cannon, Ms. Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Ms. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, Ms. Marie Tharp. And there are so much more of them! For more inspiration (for a Wikipedia research, at least), look at the poster they're selling at A Mighty Girl.

And just for the dessert, Neil's response to the question on gender bias in science (from 1:01:31 in the video, although you might also enjoy the rest of it). So we know that he's with us...

06 July 2014

Working Group

Hello lovely people,

Since 2005, YSAFE (Youth Sexual Awareness for Europe) has become a visible youth network working in the field of SRHR in Europe and Central Asia. YSAFE members are active on national, regional and global levels.

I <3 being a girl was the first project of YSAFE, funded by the ‘Girls Decide’ initiative of IPPF 2010.

Now we would like to establish a Working Group to activate the blog a bit more.

If you are a YSAFE-member and interested to become a part of the Working Group, please contact our YSAFE coordinator Ivy Miltiadou (imiltiadou@ippfen.org)

05 July 2014

Thinking bit: Bodies (the summer edition)

Again and again... We are bombarded with images of unattainable beauty standards and quite toxic ideas of beauty all day long. And just time by time somebody comes along and offers a (at least slightly) different message.

Meghan does not go as far as I'd like, though. There's still the wish to cash in on antagonizing skinny vs. curvy, implying that there's something wrong with being slim, using dancers of color as props, the fact that she is still conventionally pretty just bigger, and the pastel colors may just not be for you... But well, it's a pop video! Every little step towards a more diverse body-scene out there is welcome.

The tag line - Every inch of you is perfect, from the bottom to the top! - can, of course, be criticized due to the fact that it is exactly the pursuit of unattainable perfection that keeps many of us down, that the real win here would actually be accepting that each body is different and be happy and loving with the one you've got.

But take for what it is - a bouncy summery pop song - that may be just right for the moment when you decide to stop worrying and complaining about the body you live in. The moment to put on something you feel comfortable in and that's adequate for the temperature out there and have fun. Yes, with bikinis*, shorts, ice cream, and all of that jazz!

 * A great source of fatkini inspiration can be found reading Virgie Tovar and GabiFresh.
All bodies = bikini bodies. Have a swimsuit and a body? Put one on the other. Voilà, enjoy!

04 July 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Her (2013)


There's (at least) two ways to interpret and watch Her (2013, Spike Jonze). The first one would be the anthropocentric obvious approach: for two hours your screen is filled with Joaquin Phoenix living a quite lonely life and experimenting with the first operating system with artificial intelligence. A bittersweet futuristic story for everybody concerned about the ways we use technology and build our lives around it.

But then there's the other side. A much more entangled and complex side. If you look closely enough  - as with everything, we all consume culture in an interested and biased way, not necessarily seeing and hearing the same message - there's a lot to be taken away from it. There's a whole conundrum of issues on body-ness (although in this case it's not about type of body but about absolute lack of it), on inequalities in relationship (imagine being with someone so much more intellectually capable that you cannot even imagine how they do the things that they do), on what having sex means, on jealousy and on wishing to be assured that our beloved are ours, on being with somebody very different than you are... and on what is to be considered a happy ending.

People at Feministing have had a lengthy conversation on this, claiming Her to be the most feminist film of 2013. Here's a quote just to entice you to both see the movie and read the whole thing, and in this order preferably.

"I’m a proud cyborg feminist, and part of what the means for me is that to be the authors of our own embodiment means thinking about technology as expanding what it means to be “real” rather than the ultimate artificiality. Samantha is a real person– and the fact that the very premise of the Slate article hinges on the fact that she isn’t really troubled me. Her resounding “fuck you!” to Theodore when he waxed insecure about Samantha’s personhood was a strikingly feminist moment, a cyborg-feminist one even, and one that ought to dispel most doubts in the viewer about her sapience.
I was also worried in the first half of the movie that Samantha would feel permanently inferior because she lacked a traditional human body; imagine my transhumanist heart soaring when she realized that her data-based corporeality was not only just as good as, say, Theodore’s body, but perhaps even better. It’s redolent of the way that people with body stigmas–be they trans, fat, PWD, or people of color–come to recognize our own inherent beauty and transcend the hegemony of, say, white/cis/thin beauty norms."