Feminist Friday: The Freakout Over Nude Girls


This Week in Ladybits

Hoo, boy, the holiday lag-time is over and the people who want to control the ladybits of others are back out in full force.

The big Supreme Court case you need to know about is McCullen v. Coakley. In a nutshell, anti-choicers are trying to strike down the buffer zones that many states have established around women’s health clinics.

Here’s the thing: I’ve personally dealt with buffer zones before. I handed out anti-Prop 8 literature at three different polling places on Election Day in 2008, and the amount that the buffer zones around clinics infringed upon my freedom of speech or expression was precisely zero. What the buffer zone did do was stop me from getting in people’s faces (I am 5’4”; I had no plans to get in anyone’s face), blocking anyone’s path, or bothering anyone who was just trying to mind their own business and vote.

Seems pretty fair, right? Well, not to the group that’s trying to get buffer zones outlawed nationwide. Because according to them, they need to be able to block a woman’s path, wave a sign in a woman’s face, or scream at and harass her right up close in order for their speech to be truly free.

Lest you think these are ordinary protests, see how far you can get through this Mother Jones article about what really happens outside clinics—even the ones that have buffer zones—and still think that a free-for-all outside a clinic’s doors is in any way what freedom of expression is about.

When the hell do we start to protect a woman’s right to make a private decision and have a legal medical procedure done with a modicum of privacy and without being threatened and harassed? Does anyone really think that protesters taking pictures and writing down license plate numbers and screaming at men outside a hospital that performs vasectomies would last more than a couple of days before getting completely shut down?

The Supremes have declined to review Arizona’s 20-week abortion ban—which means they’re putting off wading into that flood of other 20-week bans that has happened over the last few years—but they will be mulling over whether it’s cool for anti-choice groups to use their freedom of speech to just flat-out lie. Awesome.

But, hey, is this females being treated like autonomous human beings with feelings and junk really such a big deal? Because GOP Congressional candidate Dick Black thinks military rape is just something that’s gonna happen and marital rape is not a thing at all. How is that awesome outreach to ladypersons going, Republicans?

Oh, and while we’re at it, much as he is an improvement over his predecessor—and he very much is—let’s all dial back our teenybopper crushes on Pope Francis a bit.

This Week in Ugh

Oof, this dude. OK, so The Wrap’s TV editor Tim Molloy totally gets why ladies are naked on Game of Thrones, because those ladies are the kind that make him feel all tingly in his manbits and, more important, the only kind of ladies who make him feel tingly in his manbits, so he asked Lena Dunham, who whatever you think of her has been pretty goddamned patient with all this nonsense, why, oh WHY she would be naked on her show when it is apparently self-fucking-evident that no man could ever enjoy seeing her naked?

And if no men (let’s be honest: He’s thinking about men), anywhere, ever, might get tingly from her ordinary body being all naked, then why show it at all? What other reason could there possibly be for showing a character in the nude?

Yeah, and why show a female character get all red-raced and snotty when she’s crying when she could just have a single diamond-like glycerine tear roll down her face? And why show them get all sweaty when they run or work out when they could just maybe pant a little bit and look sultry? And why should the sexy ones wear clothes, ever, even at the office, when they could be making Tim Molloy tingly on a more full-time basis?

As annoying as Molloy’s question itself is, I’m just as frustrated by the deeply sad assumptions behind it—that not only is there one kind of woman that everyone finds attractive, but that there is only one kind of woman that everyone should find attractive. And that weird, self-reinforcing bro-circle of reassurance that, yep, we know whom it’s acceptable to lust after and we’re all gonna check in and high-five and make sure we’re on board with that and no one is deviating from what one is supposed to want and no one is casting anybody else or even thinking of it lest they get made fun of except for Dunham herself and, oh, yeah, it’s OK to notice that Christina Hendricks is gorgeous now because Mad Men says it’s OK. But, wait, is it really OK, because that’s set in another time when things were wacky? Better stick to razor-thin with fake tits and the standard dewy, surgically enhanced Hollywood face, just in case.

Meanwhile, millions of these guys are sneaking onto “specialty” porn sites—Oh, are all those sites just NSA decoys? For whom?—and occasionally writing Dan Savage to wonder what is wrong with them that makes them attracted to something else and how they can make that stop.

For some reason the whole thing reminded me of this commercial. This one caught my attention because I couldn’t figure out what was weirding me out about it for so long.

And then I realized: It’s because the actors in this commercial are being treated like actresses: There is no reason to cast two such insanely hot guys to just be regular office guys, but they did. And there’s no reason either of these two guys should worry about his breakfast being only 400 calories, but they both do. They’re having stupid, entirely dieting-obsessed conversations just like women in commercials do. When you realize what’s going on, it’s kind of fascinating.

So either men are poised to get hit in the face with the same raftload of crazy body standards bullshit, or someone at the ad agency that handles the Dunkin’ Donuts account has a wonderfully subversive sense of humor. Whoever you are, I want to take you out for drinks.

Anyway, Molloy’s question and so many of the layers underneath it are stupid and damaging and then stupid again. I don’t think any of us are under the impression that Dunham herself is living a sexless life unless she specifically wants to. But for some reason this dude is shocked that her character—who, it should be noted, uses the exact same body—should do something so baffling as to get naked when all his bros and all his other teevee has told him that he shouldn’t like that and nobody ever could. Which is, in fact, why Dunham getting naked all the time is something of a revolutionary act.

"Girls: Season 3" - UK Premiere - Red Carpet ArrivalsGetty Images

…And in the middle of all this, feminist (kind of, usually) website Jezebel is offering $10,000 for unretouched photos of Dunham’s Vogue photo shoot. They posted a long justification of why they’re doing that (other than, you know, trolling for clicks), but, ugh, it just feels gross to me. And, as bad as fashion magazines and their skeletizing PhotoShop shenaningans are, I’m not sure how feminist it is to offer up a bounty on images of another woman’s body to make your point.

Dunham seems to have responded in the only possible way.

This Week in Entertainment

Got a little 2013 catching up to do? Try these 10 films that passed the Bechdel Test.

The always smart and hilarious Aisha Tyler hosted the Critics’ Choice Awards Thursday night and she was not screwing around.


And Showbiz Tonight took a look back at the strong female characters of Law & Order with a little help from the ladies of Frangela.

This Week in Not Having It

Whoopsie! Looks like that attempt to get the women of Pussy Riot to shut up by imprisoning some of them has backfired. Now they’re starting a new protest movement against Russian prison abuse. (Oh, and hey, speaking of repellent Russian laws, if you want to know how their recent anti-LGBT and anti-choice policies got turned into legislation, you can point the finger right back here at American Evangelicals.)

Director Lexi Alexanderburned Hollywood’s ears off with some real talk about the fear and laziness that keep women stagnating in American film and television.

Gabourey Sidibe had a special tweet for all the jerkwads who spend their time making snotball insulting remarks about other people’s looks during awards shows.

Your crush on Beyoncé is not going away anytime soon. Case in point: She has an essay on gender equality in The Shriver Report.

And fine, Indiana, you finally made me happy-cry. Read about the 80% of this church congregation who quit after their gay choir director was forced out.

This Week in Awesome

Don’t book that surrey with the fringe on top just yet, but maybe whip up an extra-nice, extra-gay picnic basket for the social —a U.S. District Judge has ruled Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The ban is still in place for now because there’s already a stay on the ruling, but still: Hahahahahahahahaha awesome! Have fun, big gay Heartlanders!

Oh, hell, yes. Gina Carano is doing a guest shot on Almost Human. She should always be kicking and jumping and punching things, everywhere. (Via The Mary Sue)

Hey, here’s some good news for ladies who read things: The National Book Critics Circle have named their awards finalists—more than half of them women.

As for worrying your pretty little heads about money, please do—hedge funds run by women beat all the rest.

When you’re done being serious about your dollars, enjoy some naughty fun with the Ladies Against Humanity tumblr.

And io9 made my month by giving us an excellent longread about what kinds of armor real Medieval women may have worn. Seriously, it’s fantastic.

Have a great weekend. Get out there and kick some butt of your own.

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