Thursday, September 17, 2015

Riley & Buffy Make me Uncomfortable

I have recently gotten into Buffy the Vampire Slayer and if you are familiar with the show you know that Buffy has a few different serious relationships throughout the show. This can of course lead to the shipping wars. There are those who ship Buffy/Angel, Buffy/Riley, and Buffy/Spike. I have not don't have a particular camp that I hang out in as I think there are positive and negative aspects to all the relationships and there are definitely unhealthy aspects to them. However, as far as annoying my feminist and setting off warning bells in my head Riley was the main one. You would think the Vampire ones would but they don't have the subtle misogyny that comes out in Riley.

Riley is a sweet genuinely nice guy. His is cute and charming overall there is really nothing to complain about. He is the kind of guy that you would want to bring home to mom. In that sense I like him. However when he finds out that Buffy is the Slayer and that she is stronger than him he does a classic white male reaction. He is ego is threatened he questions his masculinity and he puts all of this on Buffy and makes her have to deal with it when she cannot help who she is or how he reacts to it.

Riley is also a little obnoxiously determined that it is his duty as Buffy's boyfriend to protect her even though she tells him she does not need it and that what he is doing is actually more of a hindrance to her because she is afraid he will get hurt. He is so stuck in the ideas that he is the male protector and has to do his job that he cannot see Buffy as the strong independent very very not damsel-in-distress that she is. He is unwilling to see her as someone who is able to defend herself without his needing to save her. Buffy is willing to work in a side-by-side fighting relationship with him but Riley can't move past his own issues to be that.

Riley says that why he behaves the way he does is because he loves her and does not want her to get hurt and this is a clever disguise for his own misogynistic attitudes because we all want someone who loves us and wants to protect us. But that is not what Buffy wants, what she really wants and needs is a partner who sees her as an equal and not as a damsel that needs to be protected. Riley's attitude holds Buffy back as she tries to make the relationship work and cater to Riley's male ego. I think despite how great a guy Riley is and how like-able he is, his relationship with Buffy is not good for her. I was not sad or sorry when Riley left and was a little relieved that I would not have to listen to his delicate male ego being bruised by Buffy being the Slayer anymore.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Stereotyped Strong Female Characters with Moffat

images Copy Write BBC
I am a big fan of Doctor Who and Sherlock. Both of which are shows that involve Steven Moffat. I find that Moffat is talented in coming up with brilliant ideas however the execution and writing of them do not turn out as well as they could. I am in some ways a fan of him because of that brilliance, but that does not mean I don't have some big issues with some of his writing. In particular his writing of women and so called "strong female characters."

I have chosen the compare four of his most well known strong female characters: Amy Pond, River Song, Irene Adler, and Clara Oswald. Please know that while I am strongly criticizing these characters I have a very strong love for several of them. Particularly Amy Pond(read my post) and River Song. One can enjoy and like something and still be critical. 

 Let us start with the one major flaw that unites all of these women. Their characters plot lines all are dependent on male characters. Amy's story is wrapped up in the Doctor from childhood, River was basically born for the Doctor to kill him/marry him. Irene exists to challenge Sherlock Holmes and cause him problems. Irene has no backstory about who she is and where she is from she is solely there for Sherlock Holmes. Clara, oh Clara, you are as the Doctor puts is "his impossible girl" that is all that your character exists for to be impossible to the Doctor, and as Clara says was "born to save the Doctor." All of these strong female characters are not actually strong. If they were strong they would have much more independent stories/lives from the male characters. Their existence in the story would not be to aid the story of the main male character. Rather they would have their own stories and background separate from that of the male characters and their stories would exist not for the male characters but rather as a co-story with them. I think it is significant that Sherlock and the seasons 5-7 of Doctor Who do not do well on the Bechdal test. (Moffat has done much better in season 8) His so called strong Female characters would fall apart if we were to remove the male characters. 

Not only are these characters unable to stand on their own with out the male characters, they also may as well be the same character. River and Irene are both intellectual women who are shown to be able to be on the same level as the intelligent male counter part. They are both geniuses. Strong female characters do not need to be geniuses in order to be strong characters. IQ does not make a strong character. All four women can be considered to have higher than average intelligence, but most especially River and Irene. 

All four of these women are quick witted and all make quips. They all think fast on their feet. They all love the danger and thrive it. You could blend Irene and River together and have a character that would not be inconsistent in anyway. The same could be done with Amy and Clara.These traits that they all share as characters are good traits, but the fact that all of Moffat's major female characters share these traits is a little disturbing. It is like he has the same base for a female character and just adds a little something different to each but at their core they are all the same. They are not individuals.

Moffat seems to have this stereo typed strong female character in his head. His idea of a strong female character is a women who has a high IQ, can keep up with the male characters, loves danger, thinks fast, can make quips, and have witty dialogue. That is not what makes a strong female character. Strong female characters are women who are all unique have strengths and weaknesses. They have an independent story. Strong female characters are like normal women. They don't need to be larger than life(though certainly those larger than life characters are enjoyable). They don't need to stand out in a crowd. They just have to be themselves. Women are diverse in so many ways and the strong women of today are not all the same. Strong female characters in media should be just as diverse. 

Moffat does not know how to create strong female characters. He only knows how to create archetypes of characters that are based on stereotypes/what he thinks these archetypes should be. His so called strong female characters lack the verity in characteristics and basically no character independence thereby making them not true strong female characters. Strong female characters are well developed characters, unique personalities, unique characteristics, are very much like women you meet in real life, and have no story line dependence on the male characters.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Being Body Positive in a Victoria's Secret World

I am sure every girl out there struggles with their body image. I have,do, and will probably for the rest of my life. It seems to be our lot in life as a girls to constantly worry about our image, which is a product of society and culture that tells us our entire worth is derived from how hot, sexy, and sexually appealing we look. We are constantly bombarded with media and ads that tell us if we use this makeup brand, or this lotion, or this diet, or this what-ever-product we will finally achieve what society has deemed to be beautiful. This is all a lie of course because our natural bodies cannot achieve something that is a) un-achievable for most female bodies and b) completely artificial.

Copy Write of Victoria's Secret
I like to call this the "Victoria's-Secret-Beauty-Image." Why? Because it seems like all their models look perfectly like what Hollywood and the media have set up as the ideal beauty. They are thin, still have larger breasts, and most of all have the sex appeal for men. Which is mostly cause by body type, photo shop, and quite possibly unhealthy dieting.

However not only do we have companies projecting this image of what the ideal beauty is but we see it among stars. I know when I watch television or look at singers I want to see girls whose bodies look like mine however there are hardly any. This ideal image of beauty is so deeply saturated our culture that women who don't fit this mold are forced to change their bodies or are not allowed in to the industry. Why is there a lack of diversity in female body type? And when and actress is more "normal" sized she is ridiculed by the media as "fat." These messages trickle down very far and to the very young.

Photoshop is something that has become so common in changing how people look in the pictures that are used. Many people have commented on how unrealistic the changes that are make are. When a person looks nothing like their picture in a magazine there is something wrong. When we change them to look nothing like themselves we tell people that they are not beautiful the way that they are. That they are lacking and must be changed.

Me senior year of highschool and me sophomore year of college.

I was already concerned about my weight and tummy by the time I was at least 9. At the age of 12 I finally realized that the "Victoria's-Secret-Body" was quite frankly unattainable for my body. I could lose so much weight to the point of being unhealthy and still not attain it. Short of having multiple surgeries involving completely changing my bone structure and body it was completely impossible. I am just not built to look like that.

Once I had reached this conclusion I decided to just move on there was nothing I could do about. I think my personality of "just-get-over-it-and-move-on" is beneficial for me in this place. However, I could certainly have chosen to obsess about it let it press down on me. There are so many girls out there who struggle with body image who don't deal well with it. Young girls realize very early that there are expectation on their body and how they should look. I still struggle though. Sometimes I look in the mirror and wish that I could just somehow magically lose the fat in my stomach and thighs. Sometimes when I am out shopping I look at pictures and start to make a list in my head about how I don't look like them. I know when I go cloths shopping I don't like to admit that I can't wear a size small in any brand.

I can't say that there is any true solution to becoming body positive. I can give some suggestions. Make the choice to want to be body positive. Focus your good things. Document days when you are feeling beautiful to look back on and remind yourself of that feeling. Make a list of things about your body that you see as beautiful and why. Such as "I love my freckles because I think they make me look cute." Little things add up. When I have thoughts about comparing myself to others I try to remember that my body is nothing like their body and comparisons should not be made.

We need more visual images of a diversity of body types. I know there are many movements for this but we need to see so much more. You can all make s difference by supporting companies that do this. We have power as consumers to change the world. We can speak up more about wanting to see better representation and speak out against the use of Photoshop to change a persons body. We also need to be more open and honest about our own body struggles. Let's be honest being body positive in a Victoria's-Secret-World is hard and it sucks.

What are your body positive struggles? How do you combat them?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Book Review: Feminism is For Everybody

Title: Feminism is for Everybody
Author: bell hooks
Published: 2000
Rating: 4/5

This is a nice book to read if you want an broad overview of feminism in a nut shell. Which is the purpose of this book along with showing why everyone needs feminism not just women. I found it to be helpful as a book to get me into feminist literature.

Hooks also brings up in this book points about where much of feminism is lacking and needs to grow. Most importantly the need to include conversations about race and sexuality. She talks about how we need inter-sectional feminism.

I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an intro book to feminism. There is only one thing that I didn't like about this and is the reason it gets a 4/5 instead of 5/5. This book was written to be easily read by non-academic lay people. I feel that this book is still very academic in writing style. As I have not had a lot of experience reading academic writing, it was a little difficult to read at times. I think it was much harder to relate to what was written even though I agreed with a lot of what she said.

Overall this was a great book that was well written and a wonderful goal, but the execution did not quite meet what I think the author wanted it to exactly. I would highly recommend it to anyone to read.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Why I love Amy Pond

I adored Amy Pond from the moment she appeared on Screen. I knew she and I would be good friends. She is a passionate and fiery red head. I actually died my hair to try match her. This is a post about my love for her and some of the things I wish had been done differently with her character. 

Copyright BBC

 Amy loved adventure and god excited to see new places and new things with the Doctor. She wants to help people and make the right decisions even if what is right is scary to face, such as in the episode The Beast Bellow. She is also clever and able to figure things out.

Copyright BBC

Amy is also not afraid to tell the Doctor what she thinks he needs to hear. She worries about him as she knows he is not careful. She is also loyal and love very deeply.

Copyright BBC 
I also love Amy's style. She wears such cute outfits. I have to admit that when I dyed my hair red I was doing it because I love Amy. I have a denim short skirt that I have nicknamed my "Amy Pond Skirt" and love to wear it.
Copyright BBC 

I have to say though that I wish Amy was much more independent of the male characters around her. While she is independent her story revolves around the Doctor. We don't know anything really about her family or the relationship she has with her family. In fact compared to Rose, whose family comes up frequently and participate in major story lines, Amy's family may as well not exist(which in fact they actually did). Amy does not have any plot lines that do not involve the Doctor or Rory. Her characters story is dependent on the male characters around her. She had so much potential as a stand alone character and yet Moffat created her to revolve around the Doctor and Rory.

Please know that I love Rory and he is probably my favorite male companion I just wish that Amy's character was not so dependent on him for a plot line. Rory was give the short stick as well in my opinion as he did not have much plot outside of Amy. I love them as a couple but they are individuals.

Monday, June 29, 2015

"Endless Forms Most Beautiful"

My current favorite song is Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Nightiwish. I love it because there is an awe of nature on planet Earth that I relate to. I think about this song when ever I go hiking. The line "every endless form most beautiful" has become a theme song to me. It means for me to never take what I see for granted. How amazed I am with what I see in nature. Here are some of my favorite pictures that I have taken of nature along with some of my favorite lines from the song. 

Photo taken by me
We are a special speck of dust
A fleeting moment on an ark

A celebration, a resthaven
Of life

photo taken by me
Lay on a field of green
With Mother Eve
With Father Pine reaching high
Look at yourself in the eyes of aye-aye
Unfolding rendezvous

photo taken by me 
Deep into the past
Follow the aeon path
Greet a blade of grass
Every endless form most beautiful

photo taken by me

Alive, aware, in awe
Before the grandeur of it all
Our floating pale blue ark
Of endless forms most beautiful

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tea and Coffee

So I generally consider myself as more of a coffee drinker but college as helped me to appreciate other forms of caffeine as well. Such as tea. Mostly black tea. The fruity teas don't have the strong flavor that I like. My favorite brand of tea is The Republic of Tea which is sold at my school. My two favorite flavors are Cranberry Blood Orange and Ginger Peach.

I love that these are black teas so that they have more caffeine and the strong flavor I like, but also come with some really interesting flavors. I actually dink more tea during the school year than coffee as it is just more convenient and cheaper. I just have to pack the tea bags and my hot dink bottle and there is hot water provided at school. I get up so early that I don't have time to make coffee in the morning. It is just cheaper to get a bunch of tea bags for 10 or 12 bucks than to pay 4 to 5 buck everyday for the coffee at school. That is not to say I don't occasionally as a treat get a nice coffee.

I will say that I am still more of a coffee person but I do have a growing love for tea.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Historic Day

I feel is would be remiss of me to not post about the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. It made me so happy to open my facebook and see all the posts. I don't think I can put it into words. Now there are equal marriage rights for all.

I know a lot of religious people are upset about it. However, I know that it is prohibited by certain groups. I think that what needs to be understood is that everyone can get a civil union that gives all equal rights, but the holy sacrament is part of the church. I believe in the separation of church and state. We do not live in a christian nation therefore rules that apply to christians to not need to be forced onto those who are not.

Overall I am so happy that the gay couples I know that now have equal rights across the US. However, as some have pointed out, LGBT+ issues are not over with this and there are many other issues. Such as job discrimination, abuse, youth homelessness, and conversion therapy that still need to be dealt with.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Elsa Immodest!

I don't know if you have ever hung out in conservative christian circles, but when Frozen first came out(which I know was a while ago) then you have probably heard someone say "Elsa's dress was so immodest!" I know I have heard it a few times. Is her dress really immodest though? I think it is important to point out that Elsa's dress is actually quite tame compared to some previous Disney princesses.

Images copyright of Disney

I actually found Elsa to be really modest. compared to the other directions Disney has gone in the past. Her dress is in fact no different than what Cinderella, Belle, and Aurora wore.

images copyright of Disney 
Now lets break it down....
She has long sleeves instead of now sleeves.
She is wearing a long skirted dress instead of a short skirt.
She has a slit in the skirt that only goes to her knee.
You can's see any cleavage instead of a lot of cleavage.
As far as I can tell this fits most modest dress cloths criteria. Maybe they are bothered by the fact that you can tell she is a women in the dress instead of dress that hides her curves. Her dress does not really break any modesty rules, instead I would say it follows them quite well.

I think though that this dress has some significance to her character in the movies.

images copyright of Disney

Elsa's outfit from the beginning of the movie is her completely covered. She literally does not show any skin outside of her face. She has her neck covered, her hands. She is not in contact with the outside world. When she changes her outfit she shows her neck and has a slit in her dress. Her sleeves, while still long are transparent. She is allowing her self contact with the world around her. She is breaking out of the walls she built around herself to protect herself.

Overall this post is to say that Elsa's dress is not immodest and that her dress has significant meaning to her character. My other question is why we are so concerned about what a character wears there are much bigger issues with Disney's choice of how they present their characters. Such as the inaccurate proportions or their female characters. Elsa's waist is much smaller than what is natural proportionally. I think there are bigger issues than what a character is wearing.

What are your thoughts on the use of clothing in Frozen?