Thursday, June 24, 2010

A good day to be a Julia!

Okay, I know it’s predictable but I just had to write a post on this most monumentous day – the day Australia has its first female Prime Minister. As a direct employee of J-Gil herself (though I work for the Victorian State Government, my specific project is Gillard’s and Ellis’ baby and my salary funding comes straight from DEEWR) and a crazy feminist, I am of course a bit biased about this turn of events. But I’m not here to rant and rave about Julia Gillard herself today – rather, I’m really intrigued by the response her PM-ship has drawn from some of my friends - mostly Liberals or those who aren’t usually that interested in politics.

While many facebook statuses this morning lauded Jules’ promotion, a large number of them either resorted to insulting her and Rudd, rather unproductively. For example:
• “She’s a bogan!”
• “Ranga wh*re
• “Rudd just ruined what would normally be one of the most historic moment's in the countries history by just giving the job away” (I guess this one functions as a sort backhanded tribute to having a female PM)
• “Stay away, don’t come back, save yourself” (to an overseas friend in the context of Gillard’s appointment)
• “onya kevin, you big girl” (slightly ironic since it was a girl who took his place).

To me, it seems these people are missing the point. Shouldn’t we be celebrating the first female Prime Minister of Australia, whatever our political bent? Even my Liberal friends who despise Gillard couldn’t be too distressed about this fact in itself (the Liberal party instigated the Liberal Women’s Council, for example, which holds evenings entitled “Why we need more women in parliament” and so forth). Or, at least, couldn’t some level of discernment and finessed critique be employed in discussing Rudd stepping down, or Gillard’s opening press speech as PM, where she announced she is reopening negotiations with the mining industry and taking down the current advertisements, acknowledged she hadn’t been elected by the public (but that the public would have a chance to choose their own Prime Minister in the forthcoming federal election) and spoke far more articulately than Kevin did in his farewell (but give the guy a break, it’s the most public form of job-loss anyone could go through, how would you feel!).

I don’t understand why these people can’t see the positives in the situation (I admit this conclusion sounds primitive and somewhat na├»ve, even to myself). Maybe using facebook as my source stimulus for this discussion was my own mistake! That said, most of my friend’s statuses were somewhat positive about Gillard, or at least mildly interested in the idea of a female PM. I’m most excited about a female Governor-General swearing in a female Prime Minister, a great step towards the value of female leadership becoming embedded in standard practice. And doesn’t that final sentence make me sound like such a public servant!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Miley didn't kiss a girl...apparently

‘When you're 11, the word you would use to describe someone is definitely not sexy, and as you get older I think you grow into that. And I think I've done that but that's not my schtick. That's not what I'm trying to do to sell records. I want people to buy my record because of my music.’

Ahh, the wisdom of Miley Cyrus, in defence of her recent wardrobe choices (hot pants, low-cut pleather) and more interestingly, her behavioural choices (pole dancing on stage at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards and faux-kissing a female dancer during a performance of her new single “Can't Be Tamed” on Britain's Got Talent last week).

Let’s be honest, her antics are not surprising – she’s not the first female popstar to perform scantily clad, nor is she first to publicly plant a same-sex kiss (think fellow pop gals Britney and Madonna).

Miley has defended her kiss on her website, claiming that since it wasn’t a ‘real kiss’ it didn’t really happen: ‘I promise you I did not kiss her and it is ridiculous that two entertainers cant even rock out with each other without the media making it some type of story. I really hope my fans are not disappointed in me because the truth is I did nothing wrong. I got up there and did my job which is to perform to the best of my ability. I just want to put an end to this right now and just say one thing to everyone out there making this performance such a big deal.’

Wha?!? Has she gone mental? Firstly, Miley is fiercely policing the boundaries of her heterosexuality, as suggested by her vehement denial of any same-sex contact, her determination to distinguish between ‘actually’ kissing another girl or just “rock[in’] out” (aka simulating the kiss). This way, she keeps her heterosexuality intact, as she ‘did nothing wrong.’ She seems to be saying ‘it’s ok to pretend to be gay while I’m wearing almost no clothes, but it’s not ok to actually be gay.’

At the same time, Miley is using a same-sex act to garner the attention that she claims she doesn’t want – even The Age had a link to a short piece about it! If Miley’s not really kissing girls and not really seeking attention I don’t know whether the act can be except an outrageously silly and immature publicity stunt. It smacks of a young girl desperate to look sexy and instead appearing clumsy, hypocritical and lacking understanding of any sort of sexual or gendered sensibilities. Unfortunately (though ironically in Miley’s favour) the focus after this little exploit was certainly not on the music and despite her claims, may actually boost her record sales.

I do feel a bit bad for Miley. She is surrounded by other crazies after all - her ex-best friend Katy Perry did make herself famous by singing I Kissed a Girl (though later she assured audiences they shouldn’t worry, she never actually had kissed a girl). That said I’m pretty distressed about the way these young women act and call it ‘sexy’ - as if female sexuality must always be reduced to what brings in the highest profit margin, with no regard for (or rather, little demonstrated understanding of) the implications and inconsistencies of what they're doing.

Opening quote at
Miley's blog

Sunday, June 13, 2010

use of the word 'literally'

I get a little frustrated when people use the word "literally" unnecessarily.

"I literally walked into the door." (I know. I did actually join the dots since I asked you how you got that mark on your head).

"He literally looked like he was going to be sick." (Really? Because I nearly thought you meant he was going to vomit metaphorically).

And my absolute favourite, from a Triple J movie review about seven years ago:
"Bruce Willis literally jumped out of the screen." (The heck he did. If that were the case I would have A. paid more than the $11 cinema ticket price of the days of yore and B. been really annoyed about the giant hole in the screen three minutes into the feature).

My clever friend Gareth showed me this comic... a sense of validation ensued...till I realised I was the guy with the beard.

Davey Wavey's insights

Davey Wavey, since last Friday, is one of my favourite social commentators. He reminds me of lots of my friends. I also wish he could meet another lot of my friends and tell them the following in person.
Being straight I can't comment on whether Davey's comments can be generalised across the board - in fact having to spoken to many others of my gay friends I'd say maybe not in every case. But certainly in most.
I do think this is a good one though (mostly for info but also for the humour)...particularly for Christians to listen to and watch...since these questions come up a lot. And I think Davey Wavey is right...these are often the wrong questions to be asking.

*There's mild language in this vid for those of you who mind :)