All posts tagged: Feminism

Kirsten Gillibrand, Please Cut That Lame Lehman Sisters Joke From the Stump Speech

If youre not currently 100 percent sold on the presidents re-electionand odds are youre notthen youve got to be hoping and praying the Democratic Party will serve up some good stuff. Instead, one of their brightest stars speaking at a big liberal conference this week seems to have gotten a ton of attention for a joke that involved the political trifecta of #fail: Not funny, pandering, and making the joke-teller look stupider than she probably is.

The culprit was Sen. Kirsten GillibrandHillary Clintons replacement in the U.S. Senate, and a Democrat who quite a few politically savvy Republican women have been looking to as the Democratic Partys best hope for earning their votes in 2020.

The joke in question was this: If it wasnt Lehman Brothers but Lehman Sisters we might not have had the financial collapse. Cue the mass eyerolling and inevitable negative comparisons to her senatorial predecessor.

Political humor is hard, maybe especially for women, who have to pull off serious without seeming shrill. Still, the jokesuch as it wasis deserving of a critical dissection so its deliverer really gets why it shouldnt be replicated and never uses it again.

Lets start with the obvious point that the gender of the founders of an individual financial firm cannot be said to have any sort of causal link with the things that actually caused the financial collapse: Overleveraging by individual borrowers who did not repay their mortgages on the terms originally envisaged, thus making them less profitable overall to the holders of the debt; stupid securitizations of said wrongly-valued debt that masked risk by shuffling and repooling underlying assets to achieve better ratings; and over-investment in risky assets by lots of people, including women and people whose assets were managed by women.

Lets add to that that in the run-up to Lehman going south, it actually had a prominent woman in a prominent position: Erin Callan, its CFO.

Lets further add that the financial crisis was not purely the fault of Lehman Brothers or the result of just Lehman Brothers actions; the reason we talk about a failure of the financial system was that it was, well, a systemic failure. And lets remember that Gillibrand represents the state thats home to Wall Street, and was originally a lawyer at two major Manhattan law firms. Ergo, she either thinks youre stupid, or shes significantly less bright than she wants you to believe. Either way, its a bad look.

Ever eavesdrop on the conversations of a bunch of girlfriends sipping cocktails at your local bar?

Presumably what Gillibrand was actually trying to get at was this: Voluminous studies indicate that women are more collaborative, less competitive and mean and nasty than men. The world of high finance is rightly perceived as cutthroat, slash-and-burn, very much not collaborative, and extremely male. Gillibrand was probably trying to bring onside Hillary Clinton supporters who relish 90s-era, Spice Girls-esque rhetorical Girl Power flourishes, while making the point that if women ran the show, capitalism would be less bloodthirsty.

But one problem with this is we have no way to test the hypothesis. Another is, it doesnt pass the smell test for a lot of women, who were presumably the ones Gillibrand was trying to win over with the joke. Ever eavesdrop on the conversations of a bunch of girlfriends sipping cocktails at your local bar? Theres good money to be had in placing a bet that they were talking smack about other womens wrinkles, muffin tops, cankles, handbags, shoes, husbands, cars, children, dogsand everything else.

Whatever social science studies show, the truth is, women are not all that nice to women; in everyday conversation, were as ruthless about mere appearances as a bunch of male (and female) Wall Street execs are about money. Maybe if women were running the financial system and it biggest players, things would be somehow different. But thats no guarantee things would be better, by any measure, except perhaps in reduced volumes of sexual harassment.

Thats not unimportant, but it doesnt speak to the volume of unaffordable balloon mortgages marketed to non-creditworthy strippers in Las Vegas, or the willingness of financial megalodons to package them all together, get a AAA rating slapped on them and market them all over the place, and then wait for the underlying assets to prove much less valuable than expected, and mass failure to ensue.

Gillibrand knows this, and next time, if she wants to call out Wall Street culture, she should just do it directly by making a philosophical argument for more regulation to restrain behavior she believes can be checked by government and would have prevented the financial collapse. She can also throw in a dose of, Hey, lets get more women into boardrooms, too, so the financial sector isnt dominated by people who think a good pickup tactic is slapping your dick on an uninterested co-workers desk at a.m.

That would be a rallying point for liberals, who favor more financial regulation or at least less deregulation, and for the bevy of moneyed Republican women who have shown an interest in Gillibrand because she took a hardline stance against (former fellow) Sen. Al Franken with regard to #metoo infractions, because of her work to change the rules governing the treatment of military sexual assault, and because of her moderate record from back when she was a congresswoman.

Leave the the world would be awesome if women ran everything shout-outs to someone else who cant get, and then sacrifice, crossover votes. Make your mark by being obviously smart and well-informed; not with lame jokes that make you sound dumb or patronizing. You can do better, and a lot of members of the sisterhood on the other side of the aisle seem to be banking on it these days.

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The Punk-Rock Porn Movie That Lays Waste to the Patriarchy

Pornography is an act of insurrection against the dominant order, states Big Mother (Susanne Sachsse), the matriarch of an all-female boarding school, in The Misandrists, and those familiar with the work of writer/director Bruce LaBruce (Otto; or Up with Dead People, Gerontophilia) will immediately recognize it as a sly proclamation of his own philosophy.

For the past thirty years, whether helming short or feature-length productions, or working as a writer and photographer, LaBruce has pushed boundaries with a pure, unadulterated transgressive spirit. An assured filmmaker who rose to prominence as a vanguard of 1990s queercore cinema, hes akin to a more extreme John Waters, blending philosophy and comedy with explicit sexual material in order to poke, prod and reproach any and all status quos.

Having spent much of his career making films aboutand withgay male actors, LaBruce turns his strict attention to the fairer sex with his latest, although its not fairness that his female protagonists are after, but rebellion and domination. Playing like the bonkers bastard child of The Beguiled and Cecil B. Demented, The Misandrists (debuting in New York on May 25, and L.A. on June 1) situates itself in Ger(wo)many circa 1999, at a remote institution of revolutionary learning run by Big Mother, the charismatic leader of the Female Liberation Army (FLA), who sports long bleached-white locks and two crutches to help her get around. At this forested place of higher learning, Big Mother tends to a group of girls committed to the cause of overthrowing the hegemonic capitalist patriarchy and establishing a system in which women dont simply stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their male compatriots, but cast them aside in order to establish an estrogen-infused new world order.

This entails both assuming control of societal machinery, as well as kicking bros out of the bedroomespecially for any hetero coupling. The Misandrists first scenes feature two sets of female lovers, the second of which is forced to watch gay male porn in order to learn how to make the FLAs own forthcoming X-rated opus, which Big Mother believes will help upend current misogynistic power structures. Theirs is a movement founded on demolishing long-held norms, and its echoed by LaBruces film itself, which gleefully focuses its gaze on the aforementioned man-on-man actionfull of graphic sights most hetero viewers have probably never seen before (yours truly included)as a means of brazenly embracing the sort of content the mainstream considers unacceptable.

When it comes to jarring its viewers, however, The Misandrists is just getting started. While frolicking out in the woods, Isolde (Kita Updike) and Hilde (Olivia Kundisch) meet a wounded man named Volker (Til Schindler) whos wanted by the authorities for vandalizing the nearby stock exchange. Though it goes against the FLAs man-hating principles, Isolde takes pity on this fellow revolutionary and hides him in the schools basement so she can care for him. At the same time, classmate lovers Ute (Victoire Laly) and Editha (Lo-Fi Cherry), and Ursula (Serenity Rosa) and Antje (Sam Dye), bicker about romantic jealousies when not listening to Big Mothers sermons around the dinner table and classroom lectures about HERstory. Big Mother, on the other hand, is fixated on setting into motion plans to film her masterpiece of activist eroticism, even as revelations come out about the true nature of Isolde and Editha, both of whom are hiding surprising things from their comradesand who must find a way to be truly themselves, as free women, in order to help the FLA achieve its ultimate goals.

Such madness is clearly designed to push buttons, and The Misandrists does that with in-your-face aplomb. Comfortable quoting Arthur Schopenhauer (prostitutes are sacrifices on the altar of monogamy) and reveling in up-close-and-personal porn, the film refuses to set conventional boundaries for itself, which also extends to its protagonists rejection of conventional conceptions of equality. As Big Mother makes clear, the FLA has no interest in attaining greater rights within a fundamentally unfair culture (presumably la some modern feminists). Instead, their aim is the outright subjugation of all males, whose stench they can barely tolerate, whose skin they dont want to touch (for fear of contamination), and who, as evidenced by Volkers compulsion to pee on trees during his flight from justice, are no more civilized than dogs.

With tongue planted firmly in cheek (among other placeszing!), The Misandrists soon tackles issues of gender identity and carnal exploitation and empowerment through a series of scenes in which characters mostly chator let their hands and mouths do the talking for them. As with a sterling slow-motion sequence of the schoolgirls having a pillow fight that he constructs out of close-ups of joyous faces amidst flying feathers, LaBruce avoids dramatizing such sexualized action with a hetero male gaze; the tone he strikes is one of women interested in pleasing themselves and each other, to the exclusion of everyone else. Theres no sense of him trying to titillate potential male viewerswhich is just as well, since a late realignment scene involving Volker boasts real sexual reassignment surgery footage thats apt to have some dudes outright cringing in horror.

No matter that its receiving a wider release than many of LaBruces other films, The Misandrists is an underground artistic effort, wholly consumed with promoting, and embodying, extremist minority viewpoints. Consequently, theres amusement to be derived from the fact that the writer/director tackles such confrontational ideas via traditional formal means. Be it James Carmans expressive cinematography (marked by highly charged compositions of camaraderie, intimacy, seduction and domination), Judy Landkammers transitional fade-heavy editorial scheme, or a score comprised of classical piano, LaBruce presents his purposely transgressive material with stylish elegance, and in turn, generates cheeky dissonance that upends expectations, not to mention any sense of comfort.

As far as paradigm-challenging projects go, The Misandrists is a routinely entertaining rebuke to both conservative and liberal attitudes, culminating with a presentation, in a gender-segregated theater, of the FLAs finished endeavor Pornutopia: World Without Men, which doesnt hold back on birth-related erotic imagery. It wont be for everyone (which is the entire point, of course). But in its gleeful distaste for conformity, its a paragon of modern punk-rock moviemaking.

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Feminism FTW: This Empowering New Childrens Book Teaches Young Girls That Women Of All Shapes And Sizes Can Hunt Dogs

Get ready to feel empowered, because a new book that’s perfect for young women is hitting shelves soon! For anyone raising a little feminist out there, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on this future bestseller: This empowering new children’s book teaches young girls that women of all shapes and sizes can hunt dogs.

Incredible. This is a powerful message all girls should hear!

The book, called Slaying The Canine, follows the amazing adventures of Samantha Salazar and her plus-sized friend Rebecca as they roam the countryside, shooting dogs in the woods. In the span of 20 beautifully illustrated pages, this amazing tribute to girl power shows that women of all shapes and sizes can cover themselves in dog urine, hide behind a hunting blind, and lure as many dogs as they want into a devastatingly lethal shotgun trap.

Needless to say, it’s important to have literature like this that sustains and empowers women on our kids’ bookshelves. Yes, Samantha wears a conventional size, and yes, Rebecca wears plus-sized clothes, but together, they shoot, gut, and skin more than two dozen feral dogs that live in the woods behind their house, and make us all proud!

Hell yeah! Girl power!

Wow, we wish this book had been around when we were growing up. There’s a lot to be said about a book that tackles body positivity in the great sport of dog hunting in such a fun and engaging way for young readers. With inspirational books like this, the future is looking bright for our daughters.

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