Archive for December, 2014

those joe boxer ads, though.

Posted: December 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

Sexualizing women’s bodies is the bread and butter of most American media and commercial advertising.  No, really.

See? WTF!

Sexual objectification is complex, but usually detectable through these seven signs:

1.  The image only shows parts of a (sexualized) person’s body

2.  Sexualized person presented as “stand in” for an object

3.  Sexualized person shown as interchangeable with other(s)

4.  Image affirms the sexiness of violating the body of someone who cannot consent

5.  Sexual availability is the defining characteristic of a person (emphasis mine)

6.  Sexualized person is shown as a commodity – something that can be bought or sold

7.  Sexualized body used as a canvas

(Activity: go through any magazine, and you’ll see 99% of it is sexualized bodies, mostly female bodies.  I dare you.)

Pregnant bodies are traditionally viewed as “other“, as un-sexual, as something we must not find sexy.  This is also a reasoning used to scorn and degrade fat bodies; the only two kinds of bodies we’re not allowed to find sexy are big and bigger.

A fascinating study from a few years ago posits this position comes out of a fundamental rejection of female bodies taking up too much space – to be feminine is to be small, delicate, chaste, virginal, juvenile.  Plus, pregnant women are women who have (gasp) had sex, obviously, which is also a rebellious act.  We looooooove small, skinny, wealthy white women – just look at celebrity magazines touting easy ways to lose your baby weight FAST, showing (white, rich) women whose only weight is in their belly.  The fuck?

Pure garbage.

Whatever your feelings toward pregnancy, I’m confident we can agree about the overarching sexualization of women and girls has negative effects on our culture (and produces lazy, shitty music and media).  With this in mind, I present this balls-awful Joe Boxer ad I saw yesterday (I don’t watch a lot of TV, don’t judge).

What the fuck is this shit?  You’re sexualizing female pregnancy to sell me a shitty pair of pajama pants?

Women have a right to feel however they want in whatever bodies they have.  The media needs to stop telling us what to do and how to do it.  STOP!

Music as Identity

Posted: December 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

As embarrassed as I am to admit it, I listened to a Casualties song on the way to work today.

I’m sorry.

Never my favorite band, the Casualties earned my ire (and the ire of the all powerful internet!) after allegations surfaced about poor conduct by the lead singer of the band.  But that is not the subject for today.

What my shuffle came to this morning was a song called “Diehards.”  Here, this is the video for it:

For those of you too cool or respectable to watch YouTube in the middle of a Thursday afternoon, let me sum up by restating the song’s chorus “We are punx!”

I was thinking of how much punk connects with identity in those who listen to it (or are “in the scene”, as it were).  It’s part of the reason punk is viewed as a musical phase, something people grow out of listening to.  It’s got a dress code (yes, even your weird proto-hippie crust band) and a general code of conduct.  Even when punks punx disagree about what’s important, we generally have some similar values and ethics.

So, you’ve got your cred.  You stud and paint your own leathers, you taught yourself to (badly) play the drums, you drink the finest malt liquors (or not) and you rent a room in a house with ten other like-minded people.  Now what?

Punk was started by groups of people who were so frustrated and angry with the system as it stood, they created identities, art and culture in opposition to mainstream culture.  One of the clothing labels I’ve seen most often is “No Future.”  There’s a million songs about how there’s no future for us, that life is for the young…so what happens when we grow up?  What happens when we’re 30 and 40 and 50 (and 80) and our backs hurt from stage dives, our teeth are rotten because we can’t afford health insurance, we’ve got fifty bucks under the mattress because we don’t trust the banks and can’t hold a job?

See: Shane McGowan, former lead singer of the Pogues

It’s always hard to change your identity (there’s even a branch of therapy specifically devoted to it, called narrative therapy).  Anyone who’s come out as LGBTQI, anyone who’s made a life in a different country, or even gotten a divorce, can tell you about the anxiety, fear and disillusionment that comes when you change an integral part of who you are.  We don’t have to be conformists or buy into the capitalism, consumer driven bullshit to live meaningful punk rock lives.  You might never be Joe Strummer, trying to make changes from the stage on down.

I believe our only hope is to channel the rage, disillusionment and innovative creativity present in our music and culture, and put it to work.  It doesn’t really work to say “fuck the system” if you can’t create a better system (as Ben Harper sang, “what good is a cynic with no better plan?”).  It doesn’t matter if you think the world is unjust if you coast through that world.

Okay, so you care about (issue here).  What are you going to do about it, punk?

my life goal.

Okay, let’s start with real talk.  I’m old to like the music I like.  I’m almost 30.

This isn’t me yelling at “these kids today” because (a) that’s baloney, and (b) I still kind of feel like one of those kids, even at the aforementioned age.

I went to two amazing shows this past week, and was struck by the differences between them.  Saturday we saw Attila, and on Tuesday I was lucky enough to see The Ghost Inside, Hundredth and Architects (lesser importance: Every Time I Die).  Differences between the two shows were striking.

Attila is a band I’ve written about before, because I’m conflicted about liking them, a conflict which increased on Saturday.  Attila is sexist and frequently awful.  Before the band even stepped onstage, there were three bras draped on the microphone stands; throughout the show, the lead singer kept asking for bras and yelling he “needed to see some titties.”  Before the band’s encore, he lamented “all I wanted today was a blow job, and there was a stripper backstage ready to give me one, but I heard you yelling so you better make this worth it.”

Tuesday’s show was a completely different story onstage; I love TGI because they write about social issues and are fairly positive; its this band that started me on the positive hardcore path.  Most of their songs encourage their listeners to show bravery and courage, to keep fighting, to contribute to society and fight injustice.

The crowds at the two shows, to me, did not match what was onstage.  Attila had more girls and women in the crowd, that I could see.  Attila’s pit was less organized, but also less violent.  I danced around a bit (not easy for an old biddy) and wasn’t punched in the face.  I fell down and people helped me up.

I decided that Tuesday’s pit was more violent because the fans take themselves and the band more seriously.  I only saw men in the pit (an anomaly these days) and the dancing was more what I see these days – an open pit, with spinning karate kicks, wild punches from side to side.  I saw three people fall and not get helped up (a serious breach of etiquette).  The people on the edges of the pit (usually my favorite place to watch a show) weren’t smiling; they had strong arms straight out, attempting to keep the dancers moshing at bay.  This wasn’t a place to be with your own kind of people, go off a bit, and enjoy an amazing band.  This looked like a grudge match.  This did not look like fun – it looked like serious business.

I want my favorite bands to take a cue from 7 Seconds, or NOFX, or Stick To Your Guns, or any of the dozens of amazing punk and hardcore bands who have wild, uncontrolled mosh pits, but make a point to encourage their fans to take care of each other, have fun and be mindful.  The first goal in a mosh pit shouldn’t be to kick the shit out of someone – it should be to let out your aggression and frustration, while allowing people in your tribe to do the same.