To all my Queens in the house.

So I saw Magic Mike XXL on the weekend and have been scouring the web (and by that I mean I clicked on the second page of google results) for a well constructed review of the feminist and racial undertones of the newest Magic Mike.

I struggled to find anything that articulates my thoughts on the movie in this context – that both celebrates it for its racial, age and ‘all body types’ inclusiveness with a focus on the deeper level of sexuality that many (not all) women need to be turned on,  but also acknowledges that it does feel a little superficial in its exploration; let’s go to a strip club that’s full of all African American women, and give lap dances to several overweight women (by hollywood standards), but ensure the main female love interest is a skinny white female (but having said that is bisexual in the film soooo again is inclusive, ugh I’m confused).

Some quotes from one review that stood out to me here:

I think it’s appalling that for a long time only women were objectified, but I think if we really want to advocate for equality, it’s important to even things out. Not objectify women less, but objectify men just as often as we objectify women. – Chris Pratt

No one does sex for women well — not in film and not on TV. Women are accustomed to seeing distorted images of themselves reflected back by way of the male gaze, but media that operates from the nexus of a woman’s desire is still so rare – Jill Soloway

You begin to see that “the female gaze” may not just consist of the camera panning down the male body, or putting women in traditionally male roles, but also about embracing aesthetic preferences that disrupt linear, conflict- and violence-ridden storytelling structures with lingering romantic awkwardness, offbeat humor, earnest themes, and occasionally fanciful song and dance routines that defy reality.

But hey, how much less realistic is solving a plot problem via choreography than solving one through blowing things up, after all, and walking away casually? The point is, the doorway is widening. And the more diverse ways we have of telling mainstream stories, the more likely audiences  will find something that speaks to them, irregardless of gender expression or identity.

I also aligned with some elements of this article in terms of encouraging men to watch these kind of videos to address the whole ‘teach men not to rape’ argument.

Too many men, I fear, do not know what the face of a joyfully turned-on woman looks like. Moreover, too many men do not care. “Smile,” they leer at her, as she walks by on the street. Not because she looks sad, but because she is not pretending to be happy. Because she is not outwardly focused on presenting an appealing facade.

Perhaps these men have been told, too many times over by too many movies, books, stories, rock songs, that their own desire is paramount, and that women are the ones who must strive to stroke, as it were, their egos. Perhaps they’ve been told that “sexy” is something women do at men and for men, but never for themselves.

I am tired, so tired, of the onus being put on rape and sexual assault victims and survivors to prevent their own abuse and harassment. I believe, as deeply as I believe anything, that the solution to rape culture is to teach men to treat women like people, and not only to value their enthusiastic consent but to derive their own incredible pleasure from it.

But I have (too) often wondered: How? How, when so many stories we tell about romance and sex fail to show this version of empathetic, differently empowered masculinity to the men who need to see it most. Magic Mike XXL is the narrative I’ve—we’ve—been looking for.

And in case you think I live under some sort of feminist rock, I of course read Roxanne Gay’s review and while a fabulous read (alert, spoilers!) I do still feel if we’re critically analysing the film, it was a little 101 (hello, Mike just happens to drop into conversation he believes God is a woman? Is this really necessary for the plot line or more likely a conveniently dropped in feminist stance to win over all the women in the audience [and it worked]?).

And just because it appeals to Roxanne (and myself, and millions of other women’s) ideas of sexuality, doesn’t mean it’s all encompassing for every woman’s desire or pleasure (and the movie doesn’t need to be condemned for this but it’s important this is acknowledged). Still, I for the most part agree with Roxanne, namely:

Jada Pinkett is flawless in this movie. She is utterly flawless and sexy and charismatic and I hope she gets the bigger roles she deserves.

And most certainly:

Rome warns the audience at the convention that women not on birth control should proceed to the nearest exit because some grown woman shit is about to go down. She ain’t never lied. Grown woman shit is exactly what goes down. I feel like I got a little bit pregnant (quadruplets, probably) from what happened next.

In summary, go watch. You’ll likely enjoy it (just don’t focus on the storyline too much, the gyrating and stimulated sex by Channing Tatum and Joe Manganiello to music like Nine Inch Nails ‘Animal’ makes up for it, I promise 😉

Teaching the next generation.

Kids are impressionable, we all know this. And while it can sometimes be cute when a little one repeats a swear word they heard a family member utter accidentally in frustration, what is not cute is a child repeating racist thinking they’ve been taught by intolerant parents.

This is what happened to sweet Samara Muir, a three-year-old Aboriginal girl who has been all over social media for an incident in Melbourne last month where she was dressed up at a Disney event and was racially abused.

The lady in front of us turned around to Samara and said ‘I don’t know why you’re dressed up for because Queen Elsa isn’t black’

I asked the woman what she meant by the comment and then one of the woman’s young daughters screwed up her face, she pointed at Samara and said ‘you’re black and black is ugly’.

Apparently Samara then tried to scrub her skin white and refused to go to her Aboriginal dance classes.

But in tolerant and multicultural way of most of Australia, her story has raised huge support and she is now proud of who she is and is encouraging other little girls and boys to be proud of who they are too.

Read more >

My stealthy freedom.

You have to love a social awareness campaign that promotes equality through powerful imagery. Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad has created the “My Stealthy Freedom” campaign in which women in Iran take photos of them removing the the hijab in a protest for gender equality. 

Men in Iran are educated and cultured. They are reacting positively because they support women having the freedom to choose. It is only the government who claims a woman who does not cover her head is bad.

My Stealthy Freedom receives support from women who want and don’t want to cover their head alike; it is about the right to choose, not about insulting Islam.

 Islamic veils 101: 
View the beautiful images here >

Real Australians say “Welcome!”

An Adelaide street artist has created a project in Adelaide CBD to encourage positive discussions on asylum seekers and was inspired by the second verse of our national anthem:

For those who’ve come across the seas / We’ve boundless plains to share / With courage let us all combine / To advance Australia fair.

Read more here >