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February 24, 2011

xoxosms

Filed under: Treats, media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:42 am

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These days, the stories we hear about kidz and the technology are often cautionary tales: strangers! sexting! TEXT NECK! But Nancy Schwartzman — producer and director of the in-the-works film xoxosms — wants to tell a different, more salutary tale:  about  (young) people forging relationships that may start as virtual, but are very, very real.

“xoxosms is about first love, long distance and Skype. It looks closely at one young couple who — like many — met online and fell in love before ever meeting each other,” says Schwartzman. “There’s a tension between their ‘digital intimacy’ and real life, and the film explores the way the digital world, full of intimacy, bonding, sweetness, is a way to mitigate the hard stuff of growing up and having sex. A way to be close without things getting too confusing.”

The documentary tells the true love story of Gus and Jiyun — a home schooled 19-year-old from a religious family in small-town Illinois and a 19-year-old Korea-born New York City art student — who met nearly a year ago in possibly the only place two people so different might ever find each other: The Internet. Over the past 18 months, they have built an intensely intimate world via Skype, AIM and iChat. They are each other’s very first loves, and through the Internet, they have established a connection that feels as real as if they were right there beside each other.

Help xoxosms have a happy ending! You can kick in a few bucks here to help Schwartzman & co. complete their project. (They’re already over halfway there, with 19 days to go!) You can share your story at their Tumblr, “Without the Internet We Never Would Have Met.” And you can watch the trailer, oh, right now!

February 1, 2011

The Bachelorette: Tasmania

Filed under: News, media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 1:04 pm

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Chloe of Feministing, hilariously, on Tasmania’s (!) first female premier:

Lara Giddings was the youngest person ever elected to Australian parliament, winning her seat when she was just 23 years old…This week, she became the first woman to be sworn in as Premier of the state of Tasmania, after serving for two and a half years as the state’s second ever female Deputy Premier. This means that in addition to having its first woman Prime Minister, Australia now has a woman at the helm in three of our seven states. Which is all well and good…but…[l]et’s talk about what really matters: does she have a strong manly husband and lots and lots of babies to offset the unpleasant fact that she is a woman with power? The answer is no. She does not. She is 38, unmarried, childless and OH MY GOD FREAK OUT.

Further reading: “Leftist Lara Giddings Still Looking for Mr. Right.” And:

Clearly, this situation must be rectified immediately. If you are an eligible man who would like to marry, impregnate and raise children with the Premier of Tasmania, please consider applying for the position of Validator of Lara Giddings’s Existence. The ideal candidate will be manly enough to prove beyond doubt that the leader of Tasmania is not a lesbian, but not manly enough to prevent the newspapers from mocking him for being less powerful than his ball-busting wife.

Spot on, mate.

January 11, 2011

Oh, fer crying out loud.

Filed under: Psychology, media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 12:14 pm

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You know that recent story about how “Women’s Tears Say ‘Not Tonight, Dear’?” Over at the Ms. blog, J Goodrich (Echidne of the Snakes) takes the boneheaded sexist headlines and media “analyses” of a recent Israel study and basically kicks them so hard they cry.

In a study published Thursday in the journal Science, the Weizmann Institute of Science researchers collected emotional tears from female volunteers by showing them sad movies. Then they had male test subjects sniff the actual tears and fake tears comprised of saline.

A whiff of the real deal caused testosterone levels in the men to drop significantly. They found pictures of women less sexually attractive. When the men were sent into brain scanners, and shown a sad film, the men who were exposed to the fake tears didn’t show much lower activity in a region associated with sexual desire, but the activity in the same region was greatly reduced in men who breathed real tears.

The brain scans, the big yawn over alluring pictures and the drop in the he-man hormone led the scientists to conclude that “women’s emotional tears contain a chemosignal that reduces sexual arousal in men.”

MSNBC’s conclusion:

Bottom line, ladies? If you’re looking for arousal, don’t turn on the waterworks.

Basically, as she summarizes, most of the reporting on the study, rather than actually REPORTING ON THE STUDY, invokes a colorful array of half-baked stereotypes: tears as “weapon in the battle of the sexes” that women deploy on demand, men as morons who are deterred from their search for sex only by ladyweeping.

Goodrich: “Let’s take a step backwards and look at the actual study and its possible meanings:

For practical reasons, Sobel and his colleagues have studied only women’s tears. But they suspect that men’s tears, and possibly children’s, also contain chemical signals and are eager to find out what messages they may convey.

That snippet suggests a completely different interpretation of the study findings. They may not ultimately be about the effects of women’s tears on men’s hormone and arousal levels but about the effects of human tears on other human’s hormones and emotions. This is not hidden in all the popularizations but it certainly has been pushed behind that “sex sells” curtain, and you have to work down the articles to find it. /snip/

Here are my further conjectures: It seems like a very useful and common-sense conclusion that another person’s tears will reduce your sexual arousal. Something tear-worthy is happening and perhaps it’s an important survival cue to pay attention to.

I’ve got one word to say about the state of journalism and gender stereotyping: *Sob.*

December 16, 2010

I want a divorce #tacky

Filed under: Celebrities, media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:31 am

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Remember when breaking up with someone over the phone was scandalous? (What, you couldn’t be bothered to jump in your horseless carriage and look your ex-to-be in the eye?) Now, Jezebel flags the inevitable: not just breakups, but full-on divorces, celebrity* and civilian**, announced — for the first time, to the divorce-ee — via Twitter. Mercifully concise, I guess, but #tacky! “Please,” writes Sadie Stein, “don’t let this become a thing.”

Hear, hear. Though actually, for legal purposes, tweeting’s too concise. Quoth a lawyer at Divorce Saloon: “To say that you ‘twittered’ your intentions to divorce your spouse to your followers on Twitter and that that is somehow enough ‘notice’ of a pending divorce action? That that would be tantamount to ‘personal service’ as required by statute? I don’t think the day will ever come.”

All of that said, while I’m all for every discussion about maintaining civility in the bluish glow of technology, I want to say this for the record: our little beeping and blooping machines have brought far more friends, lovers, and allies together than they have torn asunder. Tweet on!

—-

* “In the past few months, Kelsey Grammer, Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy and Eva Longoria all replaced the time-tested PR statement with a tweet. Maybe they feel like their fans deserve to hear it from them.”

** “Apparently one guy did this…without consulting the wife he was divorcing, writing ‘My wife has left me, I wasn’t good enough, isn’t that a shame’ before she’d had a chance to tell her friends or family.”

December 15, 2010

No, it sucks to be a mean, poorly designed ad

Filed under: media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 2:15 pm

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Behold:

The above, posted by Gwen at TheSocietyPages.org (and spotted/snapped by one Rachel K. in Toronto), should leave little doubt about how the ringless (and evidently friendless) masses are supposed to feel about themselves. But I’d venture to say it sucks to be the mastermind of an ad campaign that, in addition to being hell on the eyes, makes no sense. So if you buy a ring you’ll meet someone? That seems forward. It also seems capitalistically unwise to be harsh on the unmarried, who might, with another ad on another day, have been encouraged (though there are other reasons I don’t love this gambit) to purchase some sort of splurgy, sparkly single bling.

Anyway, back to Gwen: “…I’d say that what sucks isn’t being “alone,” it’s being told constantly that you must be sad and miserable since you aren’t coupled up.” Rah.

More on the ad, others like it, and “singlism” in general from Bella DePaulo here.

H/T @womensenews.

December 1, 2010

Men like you better when you’re mediocre!

Filed under: issues, media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:16 am

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Really, New York Times? The Gray Lady is at it again, telling women — in a dippy, unmoored “trend” piece — that you can be successful in work. Or love. Not both. See, because successful women scare the men away. That’s the price we pay, ladies, for liberation. “Is female empowerment killing romance?” asks the article, in a sentence so backlashtastic it’s not easy to cut and paste on a full stomach. I don’t know, I thought when female empowerment brought us the freedom to date and marry for love, not to mention use the Pill (speaking of which, must read this), that was kind of romantic. There’s so much else to eviscerate in this piece that I’m not even sure where to start, other than to say that when I opened the page and started reading, I literally had to scroll back up to the top to see if someone had accidentally sent me a link from 1997. Or 1957. Or — whatever.

Look, I’m sure there are men who are put off by “successful” — “ambitious,” “strong” etc. — women. I’m sure there have always been men like that. Even since before women were “liberated.” So, um, maybe that’s their problem? And even, even to the degree that men, en masse, are scared by female success, again: THEIR PROBLEM. Why is always women who have to dial it down? What’s more, the suggestion that so many menz are SO SCARED of SCARY SCARY WOMEN is ridonkulously insulting to men, too.

And then there’s this advice, annotated by BG in brackets:

Leave the snazzy company car at home on the first date [because MEN HATE SNAZZY CARS]; find your life partner in your 20s, rather than your 30s, before you’ve become too successful [show of hands: who in her 30s wishes they'd married that guy from their 20s?] [also, by the logic herein, that guy from your 20s will dump you when you become "too successful"]. And go after men who draw their confidence from sources other than money, like academics and artists [avoiding people who draw their confidence from money is sound advice for anyone; however -- oh, for God's sake, this is just silly].

The article does showcase some excellent boyfriends (who appear to be European. COINCIDENCE?!). See:

Ms. Kiechel in Paris says her boyfriend actively encourages her career and brags to friends how intelligent and hard-working she is. Ms. Haag and Ms. Domscheit-Berg both earn more than their husbands and report that their men actually enjoy watching the waiter’s reaction when they say their wife will pick up the tab.

That’s great and all, but it’s kind of like saying “How nice that your husband HELPS OUT with the baby!” The above attitudes should be a given, not a plus. And I know they are held by far more men than this article gives credit to. The day we’ve really achieved — or at least driven our snazzy cars closer to — liberation is the day we start to see articles telling the fellas that if they’re scared of successful women, they’re just gonna have to man up.

November 24, 2010

Relationship violence: the Amber factor

Filed under: News, Psychology, issues, media, pop culture — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:59 am

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Teen Mom’s Amber Portwood has dealt quite a few blows, physical and emotional, to her oafish fiance-ish, Gary Shipley. This we know — cameras were rolling! — and this we cannot excuse. But this example has, like many before it, provoked the question: is female-on-male violence on the rise?

Today at Salon.com, BG’s alter ego tackles the answer. And suggests, in the process, that it’s not the most helpful question to be asking in the first place. In short: females have always been violent, towards men and otherwise. Specific DOJ data points show that when it comes to certain types of intimate partner violence, rates of certain types of aggression can be equal or mutual between men and women. (And neither is to be justified.) But: men are far more likely to put their female partners in the hospital, and men are far more likely to commit the ongoing, deeply damaging form of abuse known as battery, or even domestic terrorism.

That is not to say MEN SUCK; WOMEN WIN THE VICTIM PRIZE. Not at all. It’s to say that false equivalence between male and female violence is unhelpful and un-illuminating, possibly even damaging to all victims. As Lynn writes: “But when it comes to pop culture and public discourse, [female violence] needs to be discussed on its own face and in its own context, with its own set of causes and implications, not as a game of one-upmanship.”

Read the rest here. And if you — female or male — feel at all unsafe in your relationship, please click here.

November 9, 2010

Huffington Post adds divorce section

Filed under: Celebrities, News, blogs, media, pop culture — posted by Mia @ 2:20 pm

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Arianna Huffington introduces a new section, HuffPo Divorce:

“I’ve always thought that, as a country, we do a lousy job of addressing how we can do divorce differently — and better. Especially when there are children involved. That’s why I’m so excited about the launch of HuffPost Divorce.”

Anything that can help families cope with divorce is a good thing. Better still, a considered collection of personal, legal, practical, and psychological pieces that approach and elucidate divorce in the myriad ways… now that sounds really kinda awesome! Inspired by Nora Ephron, fleshed out by family law professionals, essays and advice, and authors of topical books.

It’s almost impossible not to feel a tiny tad jaded, thinking about divorce-affected people as a publishing niche, but that’s exactly what we are. Half the population! I wonder if this is the beginning of more like this.

Meanwhile, I welcome the story and information sharing that may well become a resource for one of life’s most changing events. As a person who went through a starter marriage in her twenties, and who is a child of divorce herself (actually, once I counted and there have been no fewer than 12 divorces in my immediate family) I’d love to dip in now and again to say, find ways to manage doubled parental visiting guilt and the impending holidays!

October 21, 2010

It could get even better

Filed under: issues, media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 6:27 am

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I know that not everyone thinks It Gets Better is the best response to anti-LGBT bullying. I understand the criticism — it’s facile, it’s privileged, it misplaces responsibility — and even agree with much of it. But I’m still a fan of IGB, not as the response to anti-queer bullying, but as a response among what needs to be more and more, at individual and societal levels. That’s why I like Hillary Clinton’s contribution (h/t Andrew Sullivan) as an addition to the mix. She (appropriately, for her position) makes it not about you the sufferer versus them the mean kids, but about civil — American — society, how far it has come, and what it demands. Yes, it’s on the bullies to desist and the queer kids to keep it real, but more than that, it’s on all of us.

And it’s on all of us not just to give miserable kids hope for magical “later” land when they get to graduate  and move to Seattle. It’s on us to help them — and continue changing the culture — now. Some less in-the-headines folks who are working to make it better, today:

Do Not Stand Idly By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives (more/interesting context here)

Responsive Classroom (h/t Marjorie Ingall)

WeStopHate (h/t I Heart Daily)

This list is the opposite of exhaustive. What other great anti-queer-bullying and pro-tolerant-society work should we all know about?

Oh, and here you go:

October 5, 2010

Teen pregnancy: not so glamorous

Filed under: Celebrities, News, issues, media, pop culture — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:45 am

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Do reality shows like Teen Mom and 16 And Pregnantglamorize” teen pregnancy? That standard hand-wringer has always struck me as weird. Because um, those shows don’t exactly make teen pregnancy/motherhood look awesome.  They (unlike, SORRY, Glee) actually make it look pretty crappy — a lot more so than, say, carrying around a sack of flour for a week. Even when cute teen moms glam it up for celeb magazines (which are guilty of overglamorizing post-teen motherhood), teens — who, turns out, are also better at condoms than grownups — still know what’s up.

And now we have the numbers to show it: according to two brand-new studies commissioned by The National Campaign To Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, “most teens (79% of girls and 67% of boys) agree that when a TV show or character they like deals with teen pregnancy, it makes them think more about their own risk of getting pregnant or causing a pregnancy and how to avoid it.” Other findings:

·         Among those young people who have watched MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, 82% think the show helps teens better understand the challenges of teen pregnancy and parenthood and how to avoid it.

·         76% of young people say that what they see in the media about sex, love, and relationships can be a good way to start conversations with adults.

·         About half (48%) say they have discussed these topics with their parents because of something they have seen in the media.

·         16 and Pregnant got young people talking and thinking about teen pregnancy─40% of those in the treatment group said they talked about the show with a parent, 63% discussed with a friend, and 37% discussed with a sibling.

·         93% of those who watched [a particular] episode agreed (53% strongly agreed) with the statement:  “I learned that teen parenthood is harder than I imagined from these episodes.”

This is all information we’re not so sure they’re getting in, say, abstinence-only sex ed — which, while we’re on the subject, glamorizes lies, shame, and fear. (And whose funding just got resuscitated, even as the Obama administration also awarded $155 million in federal grants to support evidence-based, medically accurate sex ed.)

Enough with the mixed messages, as Jessica Wakeman wrote at The Frisky, continuing: “If pregnant teen girls get their moment in the media’s graces, the least we can do is use it wisely. The alternative could be much, much worse.” Of course the media plays a role in the whole teen pregnancy ecosystem, but there are a whole lot of other reasons teens get pregnant, most of which are much, much more complicated and challenging than the simple notion of MTV cause-and-effect (which is exactly why we are reluctant to acknowledge and deal with them).  Teens are smarter than we give them credit for. Sometimes, in fact  — see phrases bolded above — they just want to talk.

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