Tag Archives: Women

January 2020 Book, TV, and Film Roundup

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It’s been a minute since the last time I did one of these roundups. So, I decided to welcome February with one! Now that I am a person who has the occasional free time, I get to write a little more. I still have an academic project I am aiming to finish within the next month so, I will juggle between that and the blog.

The Shelf

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The Disney Fetish (2014) by Seán Harrington

How do I dare critique this book when there’s such deep research put into the psyche of Walt Disney the man, Disney the company, and conclusively, the influence on the society he (or it) aimed to effect? Let me first give you a back story. I ordered this book online in August for the sake of exploring a study similar to my scholarly project (analysis of several films made by a franchise in a way that challenges the hegemonic view). The premise of the book is interesting however, shortly after I started reading it, I pushed it as far away as possible.

I came back to this book in January, hoping that I can observe how the author structured the selected topics and introduced them in his book. This may be personal—I felt that the author, Seán Harrington, solely based his arguments on the Oedipus complex, aka the psychoanalysis that I think, has no connection to the feminist theory whatsoever. According to Freud’s Oedipal view, the mother does not have a phallus which denies her the adoration of self-image. I do not understand the logic, nor do I think arguing solely through this one deficient theory is enough for this book. I like the never heard of insights about the formation of the Disney company as well as Walt Disney’s potential psychologically damaging family experiences (which mostly entails Chapter 2 to 3). However, I think the author could have made his point in 40 pages easily.

Putting aside my disagreement with the author’s findings here is what I think: Overall, there is some good research and interesting facts about Walt Disney himself. However, the book is repetitive and seems to go back and forth between targeting academics versus average pop-culture geeks; there is some confusion about the audience. Sadly, I pushed through The Disney Fetish but, I do not recommend this book.

The Small Screen

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The Goop Lab (2020)

Dear women everywhere, watch The Goop Lab! Rumor (or the paparazzi) has it, Gwyneth Paltrow ended her acting career recently, and is focusing her energy on her lifestyle brand “Goop”. Paltrow started the brand back in 2008, which connected with women through weekly email newsletters. I say women because I do think it initially started with the idea of targeting and helping women about their psychical and mental wellness. However, Goop also has a small men’s section on their website that talks about stress-release, helpful recipes and much more. Alright, now that I am done with what seems like brand promotion, I’ll get to the gist of it (I promise I recently discovered about this lifestyle brand just like many of you and I do not have enough readers to promote a brand).

In The Goop Lab series, Paltrow and a powerful set of women try mushrooms, different and potentially risky diets as well as cosmetic applications. They also talk about the uncomfortable like female pleasure. There have been several criticisms about the show– specifically ones claiming it gives “bad health advice”. As the beginning of the show indicates, there is information that needs to be taken with caution in The Goop Lab. The way I viewed the show was similar to the way I watch vloggers. I watched women trying things and sharing their experience with us ladies who are curious. The content is a little different than your typical YouTube video though. The Goop team stayed vulnerable and shared relatable experience. Not every episode was great, but I found the series worthwhile for us ladies who may not spend much-needed time on their wellness. The Goop Lab is a great treadmill companion or a sleepover watch with good friends.

The Big Screen

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Jojo Rabbit (2019)

The very first time I watched Jojo Rabbit I thought it is an excellent film because it shows Nazi Germany from a satiric point of view. Taika Waititi most definitely tackles a topic that has been done many times before and considering the fact that Hitler ruled 70 years ago or so makes the film a risky choice. While the racist practices are engraved within the minds of many, identifying with the struggles that had happened during the Third Reich’s rule could still have been problematic for younger viewers. Taken these into consideration, Waititi accomplishes a hard task making Jojo Rabbit a hit.

I hardly have negative things to say for this production, but I also struggle to praise it too much. I think the brutal realities that the Jews had to go through are not reflected enough in this film. However, at the same time, this is okay because the premise of the movie is about the Nazi Germans, how the youth idolize and even adore Hitler and the adults who fight for peace while existing inside the system. To recap Jojo Rabbit quickly, Jojo is a Nazi German boy who is a member of Hitler’s young army. Quite frankly the story isn’t limited to that; Hitler is Jojo’s best friend (or imaginary friend). All Jojo wants is to work for Hitler until he finds out his beautiful mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. Jojo Rabbit is truly about the power of propaganda. The film provides an insider’s view about how the redneck, uneducated, or naïve youth view the war, which is something we are not necessarily used to seeing on screen besides the heart-wrenching dramas.

In terms of the acting, there isn’t much to say—Jojo Rabbit has a talented cast. However, Scarlett Johansson truly shines and even steals the show during her limited appearances in the movie. If I say so myself, 2019 was the year of Johansson (See my review for Marriage Story (2019) which Johansson shares the spotlight with a thought-provoking performance alongside Adam Driver). Since Johansson ditched the pretty girl stereotype, her acting skills are at the forefronts. Rosie (Johansson) is a beautiful woman whom the men watch out for on the streets. However, her portrayal is complex—she is a mother who wants her son Jojo to turn around with his own will as she tries to support his young army involvement while showing him that peace is the solution.

You might like Jojo Rabbit because it has a different angle, or you might hate it for the same reason. I’d suggest you see the film and decide for yourself. While my criticism is limited and I cannot find much fault in Jojo Rabbit, it may not be one of those compelling films simply because it trades the dramatic effect with satire.

Comment below what you think or suggest a movie, tv-show, or a book you’d like for me to review! If you like reading posts like this one, consider getting me a Ko-Fi here. Thank you for reading and see you next time.

“The Stories of Sexual Abuse”, from the Sporting World

An ongoing default in the minds of the society we live in today promotes and accepts the image of women as victims of the untold stories. Women who work in different areas of expertise continuously face gender inequality: they are being stepped over in every possible scenario, are verbally and physically abused, and sexually assaulted. Although this is common for women working in every field, many athletes in the sports world encounter sexual assault at its highest, especially those who play in the elite level.

Here is a look at the stories you have never heard, and the ones that you did but moved on with your life:

Mike Tyson, 1991

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Visual Credit: DingeenGoethe

One of the most scandalous cases was about Mike Tyson, a former American boxer who had the title of the youngest heavyweight boxing champion 1986, raping Desiree Washington, the Miss Black America pageant contestant, in a hotel room in 1991. A day later, Washington reported she was raped by Tyson right after checking into an emergency room at the Methodist Hospital (Indianapolis Monthly, 2017).

The incident took place at a time when America was starting to become conscious about “date rape”. Right before Tyson’s attack, in 1990, America was shaken by the story of Katie Koestner, an 18-year-old college student, who was raped by her date as a freshman in college. At the time, her parents, peers, nor the police believed her, as Koestner describes how date rape was not a thing that was recognized by the society “In 1990, rape was still stranger rape. It was not about people you liked, or you were dating” (BBC, 2016).

Later Koestner’s voice was heard when the Time picked up her article and she was on the cover of the magazine in 1991. Similarly, Tyson’s attack took place right after the incident Koestner went through became publicized. This resulted in the journalistic details of Tyson’s attack becoming a “national sensation” (Indianapolis Monthly).

 

Cristiano Ronaldo, 2009

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Visual Credit: The Mirror

Ronaldo’s is a case that had shockingly tepid coverage. According to the Der Spiegel exclusive article, Kathryn Mayorga, a model who worked at the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, was invited to party with Ronaldo in his suite. Later that same night in 2009, Mayorga was forced to have sexual intercourse with Ronaldo even though she repeatedly said no. Next morning, she went to get a medical examination and visited the police immediately after the examination (Spiegel, 2017).

However, she couldn’t just go and talk about what had happened to her. Mayorga was forced to sign a settlement deal, provided by Ronaldo’s agency Gestifute, ensuring she would not talk about that day, and as a result, she received a payoff to forget about her accusations. According to the Der Spiegel interview, Mayorga signed the settlement “out of impotence, [and] the inability to stand up to him” (2017).

Just recently, in September 2018, Mayorga found the courage within herself to speak up about the traumatizing incident. Since the very first article that was published on the incident, Ronaldo’s agency Gestifute continuously sought to prevent any media coverage on the case, and later released the following statement “the article is nothing but a piece of journalistic fiction” (Spiegel Online, 2018). The 2018 Spiegel Online Article also gives details on the legal process and mismatching formal investigation responses by Ronaldo both in 2009 and 2018 about the allegations. The case is yet to be resolved.

 

Larry Nassar, 2015-2018

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Visual Credit: DailyMail

A far-reaching abuse case in the history of sports, the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal, is still a topic that remains on the headlines today. As more survivors find the courage to open up about the scandal, the updates are still inherent. The perpetrator, Larry Nassar, who was a former USA Gymnastics (USAG) physician, sexually abused more than 300 victims, the majority of them being underage (Vox, 2018). The victims included Olympic medalists Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, and McKayla Maroney.

Although the USAG fired and reported Nassar after receiving a testimony of an athlete stating her concern about him in June 2015, an Indianapolis Star investigation reported that “top executives at USAG routinely dismissed sexual abuse allegations against coaches and failed to alert authorities” (IndyStar, 2016). As the Washington Post stated, “the investigation, reported by the Indianapolis Star, found that USA Gymnastics routinely brushed off sexual abuse claims as hearsay, enabling coaches to molest gymnasts as young as 7 for years” (Washington Post, 2016).

The first public statements on the Nassar case were recorded as early as September 2016, however, the incident went viral when McKayla Moraney used her Twitter account as a channel to share her own abuse story. She stated that she was molested by Nassar every time she went for a doctor’s visit since the age of 13, up until her retirement from the sport in 2016 (ESPN). The USAG had Moraney sign a confidentiality agreement to cover up the scandal. In 2017, Moraney broke her silence, filing a lawsuit against Nassar. Later in 2018, Jacob Moore, a male gymnast, filed a different lawsuit against Nassar, stating he was sexually abused and harassed.  Jacob Moore’s sister Kamerin Moore was also one of the many victims (CBC, 2018).

Larry Nassar was sentenced up to 175 years of prison when the judge said, “I have just signed your death warrant”, easing the pains of the many victimized women, (and man), for decades (CNN, January 2018).

Notes from The Guardian’s Bryan Graham

A 2017 article written by Bryan Graham, at a time when the Nassar scandal was still fresh, stated that there were numerous sports media coverage and research available to the public in this issue and yet they were still “invisible” (The Guardian). Regardless of the fact that the Nassar scandal was not the first of high-profile sex abuse scandals in the sports world, it involved so many women unlike others such as the Baylor University scandal.

In his article, Graham explored the reason for this visibility issue and discussed whether it is due to the sports media being inadequate, later, stating that this was not the reason at all. Graham claimed, “the most distressing reason of all is that the abuse of women is normalized in our society. The Nassar scandal fits into our framework of how we understand a sport like women’s gymnastics. On some level we expect women to be victimized, so it’s not surprising when they are [victimized]” (The Guardian). As Graham would agree, the problem in this particular case and many others can be seen observing the society we live in today and their faulty understanding of women in sport, the carelessness they might have towards an unpopular sport during non-Olympic years, and the acceptance of the image of women who are bound to be victims.

Upon reflecting over his many articles on the cases of female athlete abuse, I was able to have the chance to connect with The Guardian’s Sports Journalist, Bryan Graham, and do an online interview. When I asked Graham about the common challenges sports journalists face when reporting on the abuse cases, he answered, “In the case of gymnastics, the victims are often under 18 years of age and media access is tightly controlled even for uncontroversial questions or requests such as interviews with athletes” (Graham, 2018). He added that the nature of the situation makes it hard for the survivors to discuss it thoroughly because of the shame and grief associated with the crime.

Moreover, Graham stated his opinion on whether the journalistic coverage of sexual abuse involving superstar players changed the public perception, particularly the Ronaldo case, he said that it was a “yes” to some extent, and added, “Yet I’d say 1) it varies widely on a case-by-case basis and 2) that superstar athletes are far more immune to the negative aftereffects due to the male-dominated nature of the space”. His answer supported that there is often a set of lawyers and agencies that cover up the crime with contracts and money.

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Visual Credit: Pixabay, Pexels

Final Note

A recent Huffington Post UK article made a bold statement saying, “The voice of sport in 2018 moved beyond leaderboards, cup finals and breaking records. We saw a real watershed moment; rather than behaving as a detached and compartmentalized entity, sport offered a voice on issues that intersect at all levels of society” (Gold, 2019). I cannot possibly agree with it as society still seems to be blind towards certain news, and neither can you.

I asked Bryan Graham about the impact of the Me Too and Time’s Up movements in the sporting world, he replied, “I feel the world of sports has, unlike virtually every other major public sphere, not had its #MeToo or #TimesUp moment so far”.

There are other stories yet to be told but the change doesn’t seem so close to the sporting world.

 

Women, gossip, shit talk

Why are people so mean? (Pause here and laugh if you like).
Why women are never nice to other women?
Let’s talk about what we do…
We channel each others’ insecurities. We get jealous because someone else has something that we don’t have. Or worse.. something that we too have. We constantly compare one another. We talk behind each others’ back. We compete for attention. We sell one off for the next boy coming or steal the next one for ourselves to hurt someone. We put each other down. We measure our worth through literal shit standards. We hide ourselves.
This post might make some people think that it is intended to a specific audience. Nada. It is intended to all of you out there.
I was thrilled to be in my hometown this week. End of the week, I am not so thrilled anymore. More, I am broken by so many words being said without a thought. And please note—I am not someone that takes life itself seriously.
There were so many words said about my weight, my hair, my poverty make-up skills as well as my relationship (this one goes a long way…). And so many I have heard about other people’s. I feel very fragile. When you are in a place where the mouths have no filters (4+ women talking around a table), you —too— can talk about the person next to you without even them noticing. You only do this because they hurt you. That’s innocent, right?

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