Posts By Anna Wynveen

Pop Snippets

I spent some time in a rental car this weekend. This always gives me the opportunity to listen to top 40 on the radio (of course, I was out of town and Co-op Radio, CFRO was not an option). I heard two pop hits that stuck in my head. The first was by some shitty boy band (the next generation of boy bands!) and the chorus went like this:

“When you smile at the ground, it ain’t hard to tell you don’t know you’re beautiful.”

That actually makes my skin crawl. This song advocates powerlessness — “darling, your lack of self confidence is so alluring. I love women who defer to my judgement.”

The next tune was by Mission, BC’s Carly Rae Jepson. It was her hit song “Call Me Maybe.” I know this song is so sickly sweet that it’ll rot your teeth. But take a look again at the chorus:

“Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy. But here’s my number, so call me maybe.”

There you go! A girl in charge of her own destiny.

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Rush Limbaugh’s slander of Sandra Fluke

So, it’s Saturday morning.  Here I sit, drinking a cup tea in my fleece pajamas, cozy on the couch with my laptop, surfing the ‘net, when all of a sudden…  Are you in the mood to get riled up?  zOMG me too!

I know it’s bad to read any piece of news related to Rush Limbaugh.  It is guaranteed to raise your blood pressure significantly (“urge to kill rising…”).  On Friday, Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke received a telephone call from President Obama, telling her not to take Limbaugh’s calling her a prostitute to heart.  Oh yes, get ready.

At a hearing at Georgetown about health care coverage of contraception at religious institutions, Fluke spoke about the high cost of contraception and about their importance to women’s health.  Limbaugh made these comments about Fluke’s testimony:

What does it say about the college coed Susan [sic] Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.

She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.

The johns, that’s right. We would be the johns—no! We’re not the johns. Well—yeah, that’s right. Pimp’s not the right word.

Can you believe it?  Can you fucking believe it!  Then, after a public outcry against these comments, he responds with:

So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal: If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. And I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.

…. I’m not questioning her virtue. I know what her virtue is. She’s having so much sex that she’s going broke!

This is jaw-dropping, shocking stuff.   This is hate-speech.  How is he still allowed to voice an opinion about anything?  Oh wait, I forgot.  He’s actually aligned with Republican politics.  Reproductive rights belong only to those who can afford them.  ”‘She’s going broke!’ — that’s what makes [Fluke] attackable,”  says Amy Davidson in The New Yorker.  ”The real target here is poor women — poor families.”    So, while Limbaugh’s bullshit might seem extreme, this sort of slander really isn’t anything new.

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The Pink and Blue Project

A long time ago I got into an argument with a friend of mine.  I said that piercing the ears of young girls is cruel, and that its primary role (like all things pink and blue) is to clearly display the gender of the baby.  Because, heavens to Betsy, we all know that mistaking a baby boy for a baby girl (or vice versa) is the worst thing you can do to offend a new mom!

Anyway, unfortunately, my friend had had her ears pierced when she was an infant.   And she (rightly) attacked my tone – it was now her body and her life that we were talking about.  But I wish I could have pulled JeongMee Yoon’s photos at the time (I also wish I had known the word “heteronormativity,” but I was pretty out of the loop).

JeongMee Yoon is a Korean artist who has done a series of photographs entitled “The Pink and Blue Project.”    Perhaps you’ve seen them before.  She asks children to gather together all of their pink and blue things, and photographs them with their collections.

Here are the results:

JeeYoo and Her Pink Things -- The Pink Project -- JeongMee Yoon, 2008

 

Jimin and His Blue Things -- The Blue Project -- JeongMee Yoon, 2007

I think the best response to these ridiculous displays of gender binaries is from this little girl.  You’ve probably seen this linked on some other site, but it’s great.  She also looks pretty much exactly like our own resident feminist Ellie Gordon-Moershel, and is complaining about the same gender binary bullshit that Ellie did at her age/still does:

 

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Rockin’ Robyn (embarrassingly bad pun)

Robyn, the Swedish electro-pop sensation who has “topped the charts while keeping her clothes on” (HEADLINE NEWS, apparently), is rightly garnering some serious acclaim. Her songs are catchy, dance-y, and have that glossy sheen to their sound which can only come from costly production – the kind usually reserved for artists like Rihanna and Katy Perry.

Beyond being good “pop,” I think she’s using her music to make some interesting social commentary.  In her song “Fembot” I believe Robyn is exploring some cyborg-feminist themes.

In the verses and chorus of the song “Fembot” she lists her technical specs.  Some examples:

“My system’s in mint condition, the power’s up on my transistors.”

“Working fine, no glitches, plug me in and flip some switches.”

“I’ve got a lotta automatic booty applications.”

“Digitally chic titanium armour.”

Her lyrics contain two powerful themes – woman as a commodity, and woman as a tool:

1. The commodification of women — fembots are available for purchase, a toy designed to fulfill the sexual desires of men (hmm, I think we might have heard this message before). Note the lyric “initiating slut mode.”

2. Woman as a tool, as an assemblage of various functions — When asked about the meaning of “Fembot,” Robyn responded: “I’m playing around with the concept of being a woman, and what it means to physically be able to carry kids, but at the same time that’s not always what you see yourself as.”  So when she lists all of the fembot specs, she’s really talking about how women are often reduced to their physical “functionality” as baby making machines.

I think that the real irony of the song is clear in the first line, when Robyn brightly sings, “I’ve got some news for you. Fembots have feelings too.”

Give it a listen. While you’re at it, give “Call your Girlfriend” a listen as well (if only to enjoy the awesome dancing in the video.  Single shot).  I have a feeling this song is becoming a lesbian anthem.  And while you’re at it, listen to “Indestructible” (this video is 18+ on youtube due to steaminess). They’re all great pop hits that, according to Pitchfork, contain a “sophistication and melancholy that separate her from the Fergies of the world.”

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