Category Archives: Sex

Agony Uncles looks like a pain in the arse

After QandA last night (oh Germaine, it was so disappointing to see one of Australia’s most prominent feminists criticise Julia Gillard for her body and her clothing, what are you, the Daily Telegraph?), the ABC ran a promo for a new show called Agony Uncles. You can see the promo on the ABC website. The show starts tomorrow and, since promos always feature the best bits, it looks like it’ll be some of the least ground-breaking, least interesting television you’ll see in a while. Which is a shame, since it’s from Adam Zwar (Lowdown and Wilfred – two shows I caught from time to time that were pretty amusing). It’s Grumpy Old Men doing the whole Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus thing. What a hoot that’s going to be.

A few quotes from the promo:
“Any time she asks for your honest opinion, you’re being asked to lie.” (Waleed Aly)

“How many girls you slept with? Never. Tell. Them.” (Josh Lawson)

“If you befriend their less attractive friend, they’ll get jealous and be interested in you.” (Tim Ross)

“If you’ve got a wife that you’re sick of, and you want to get a woman on the side, it’s better that she’s married because she’s not going to spill the beans,” (John Elliott)

“If they’ve got Daddy issues, run a mile because seriously, you’re going to be part boyfriend, potential husband, and the rest of the time you’re camp counsellor. Stay away.” (Tim Ross) (Tim Ross also says that it helps if her Mum’s got the hots for you, which suggests that he might be the one with parental issues.)

It’s no good having sheilas that are no good in bed.” (John Elliott)

One can only imagine how “good” John Elliott is in bed.

I feel sorry for people who view the opposite sex in such cliched terms. They can’t have very interesting friendships if this is how they view women. And how good can your relationships be if you deliberately manipulate a woman’s self-esteem because she’s physically attractive, and you think lying to your partner is funny? Comments like these reveal more about these 18 men than they do about women.

Every fictional female doesn’t need to be a role model

When I saw this opinion piece by Sacha Molitorisz in the Sydney Morning Herald I prepared to get my grrr on: To kick goals, girls need fewer bad teachers and more grand tourers:

Seeing Bad Teacher at a session packed with teenagers, I wondered: did all the girls in the audience want to be this woman? Did all the boys want to be with her? Is this the sort of female role model my daughters are destined to emulate when they’re older?

One female character in one movie who doesn’t act like a “proper woman” and there’s gnashing of teeth about role models and about how women are supposed to behave. I don’t recall people saying that boys and young men needed better role models when The Hangover was released. I recall words like “edgy comedy“, “clever script“, and frothing about it being hilarious. If you thought it was hilarious, then you should read The Lazy Misogyny Of The Hangover: “The Hangover, Phillips’ most recent (and successful, both comedically and commercially) work is arguably the worst of the lot, presenting women as warm-hearted whores, nut-cracking bitches, or spectacular-looking dum dums“. (For the record, I haven’t seen The Hangover. I saw a little bit on the weekend and it looked like utter shit. However, as was pointed out to me, I’m not exactly their target audience.)

Molitorisz writes:

Our culture needs more female protagonists, but not like this. We need fewer rap pretties gyrating like porn stars, fewer Elizabeth Halseys exploiting their appearance. Predatory as they are, these women are no more emancipated than ’50s pin-up girls. Their identity is defined entirely by their looks.

I agree when he says we need better female role models in our culture, but he’s only interested in the same three devils: glossy mags, rap music videos, and one female movie character. He’s blaming women, black men (although the gyrating women get most of the blame), and women. Phew, the white men who control the record labels and the movie studios are off the hook. Anyhow, it’s hard to argue that a gyrating woman in the background of a music video is a role model.

So, you want to talk about female role models in movies? Sure. Let’s start with female visibility in films. I’ve blogged before about the dearth of female characters in Pixar and Disney films, but here’s a quick summary:

* In the top 101 G-rated films from 1990 to 2005, only 28 per cent of speaking characters were female.

* In the 400 top-grossing G, PG, PG-13 and R films in the US between 1990 and 2006, only 27 per cent of the characters were female.

* In family movies, only 17 per cent of the people in crowd scenes are female.

* Female characters in G-rated films wear the same amount of skimpy clothing as female characters in R-rated films.

In The Shame of Family Films, Julia Baird writes:

A study commissioned by the advertising group Kaplan Thaler showed that 68 percent of those who watched Commander in Chief were more likely to take a female president seriously. Yes, even though it was just a TV show. That’s the point of all this—what we see on our screens matters. It shapes our imaginations, and sometimes limits them. “The more we see female characters who are hypersexual, one-dimensional eye candy, sidelined, or not even there,” [Geena] Davis said, “the more it affects the way boys and girls think about girls.”

It is a disgrace that we are still teaching girls that they should be onlookers in a world where boys do interesting things. Too many females on screen are inaction figures: watching, waiting, applauding, and baring flesh.

Every film does not have to be everything to everyone. But the film industry does seem to be just for boys and menn. I dare anyone to argue that all animated cars have to be male. Look at the twenty top grossing films in Australia this year and show me the female characters:

1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part Two)
2 Transformers 3
3 The Hangover Part II
4 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (3D)
5 Fast Five
6 Bridesmaids
7 Tangled
8 Cars 2
9 Kung Fu Panda 2
10 Thor
11 Rio
12 X-Men: First Class
13 Black Swan
14 Yogi Bear
15 Mr. Popper’s Penguins
16 Hop
17 Water for Elephants
18 Rango
19 The Green Hornet
20 Just Go With It

A few hot chicks and a few crazy hot chicks who have a lesbian sex scene. And Bridesmaids, which caused a heap of famous douchebags to write about how women aren’t funny. There was also some gnashing of teeth about the female characters behaving badly.

Remember at the start I said I agreed with much of what Molitorisz said? Yeah, well his final paragraph ruined that:

And besides, Ellyse is so much more attractive than Elizabeth [Halsey - the Cameron Diaz character in Bad Teacher]. That’s the ultimate irony. Much more than a sex object, Ellyse Perry is a fascinating subject.

He’s reduced one of Australia’s most talented athletes to a sex object. To whether he finds her attractive. Her sporting achievements – representing Australia in soccer and cricket – are nothing compared to whether or not a 42-year-old writer finds her hot. She’s 21, by the way.

Being gay in public

Adshel has pulled the Queensland Government’s safe sex ads because someone complained about them. Apparently making sure children don’t see an image of two men touching trumps the fact that, in 2010, there were more people diagnosed with HIV than at any time since the mid 1980s. According to Paul Martin, executive director of the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities, “65 per cent of these diagnoses are among gay men”.

This is the hideously offensive ad:

Rip and roll ad

The Rip and Roll safe sex ad (image from brisbanetimes.com.au)

Shocking, I know. You can find the story here: Company defends decision to remove safe sex posters

An Adshel spokeswoman said:

“The decision to remove the posters was made on the basis of the large number of complaints received.

“Adshel does not take a position regarding the views or position of various community groups.”

Perhaps, but Adshel is half-owned by APN, which refused to run ads by the Atheist Foundation of Australia. That makes things a little more interesting.

You can read the complaints about the Rip and Roll ad here. They’re all pretty much the same: seeing a picture of two men hugging will “pre-sexualise” children; there shouldn’t be any condom ads in public places because children might see them; the image of the condom is “huge”; it promotes an “unhealthy lifestyle choice” to children; it shows two men “in the act of foreplay” (men hugging is foreplay? In that case, men playing cricket, rugby league, rugby union, AFL and soccer should be ejaculating all over the field).

Most of the wording is the same, so it’s clearly an organised campaign. We don’t know if it was the Australian Christian Lobby behind the complaints, but well-organised anti-gay complainers do tend to be connected to the ACL.

Why does the ACL have so much power? According to the 2006 census, 64 per cent of the population claims to be nominally Christian, but less than a quarter of those go to church each week. So, less than 16 per cent of the Australian population goes to a Christian church weekly. That’s less than the number who marked “no religion” (18.7 per cent), but a little more than the number who left the religion question blank (11.2 per cent).

When I was little, we filled out the census form as a family. When it came to the religion question, we all helpfully said “Anglican” (or was it Uniting? I don’t remember. The one without the guitars). We’d never been to church and as far as I know, none of us believed in God, but after a scripture class we asked our parents what religion we were and they said “Anglican/Uniting, I guess”. We weren’t interested in the religion, just the identifer – something that was about us, a label, which I understand is pretty normal child behaviour. (I wonder what my non-religious parents thought about their five kids insisting we fill in the religion question. I’d ask them but they’re in Turkmenistan.)

Anyway, my long-winded point is that I doubt the number of people who believe in a Christian god is as high as the census figures suggest. But we won’t know for sure unless the census includes a “do you believe in god/s” question.

As to whether the ACL deserves to be taken seriously at the moment, the ACL leadership has said some pretty disgusting things lately. The managing director of ACL is Jim Wallace, who tweeted on Anzac Day “Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for – wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!” He apologised for the timing of his comment but not the content. Earlier this year, he said a church school should have the right to expel an openly gay student.

In November, the Victorian director Rob Ward called the funding of a committee to advise the Government on issues affecting the gay community a “disgraceful act of undemocratic process”. Huh? How is giving a range of people a voice “undemocratic”?

And in August, the Queensland director of ACL Wendy Francis tweeted “Legitimising gay marriage is like legalising child abuse”.

Regular readers will know I have no religious beliefs, but I respect that others do. But what we have here is a small group of people blocking an important public health campaign, presumably because children might become gay if they know that gay exists. And once some children are gay, the rest will catch it from them. Or maybe they’re just homophobic.

Update: Adshel has reinstated the ads. Apparently receiving 40 or so complaints with the same wording didn’t tip them off to the fact that it was a coordinated campaign from a very small group.

I am a slut

I am going on the Sydney SlutWalk on Monday June 13. And I’ll probably be wearing jeans and a jacket. Because you don’t have to wear fishnets, stilettos and leopard print to take part. (Here’s a hint to journalists covering the story: give the cliches a rest for the day. If you look at the photos from the marches around the world, most participants are dressed “normally”.)

Predictably, the story is getting a lot of coverage in the mainstream media because of the word “slut”. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s excellent that it’s getting coverage, but if it was the Walk Against Victim Blaming it would be lucky to be a brief just before the world section.

And – also predictably – someone writing for The Punch has missed the point. Tory Shepherd’s piece today: The sluts protest too much, methinks

Passionate protestors too often get caught up in their own hype and do themselves and their chosen issue an enormous disservice.

Last week a father who just wanted access to his children instead earned the wrath of a city after his one-man protest closed the Sydney Harbour Bridge and left irate drivers stuck in traffic for hours.

I don’t know the background story, but it’s a pretty safe bet that if police have stopped this guy seeing his kids, there’s probably a good reason – which is a question most journalists don’t appear to have asked. Anyway, back to SlutWalk:

Victim blaming is a horrendous compounding of the original crime, an archaic misdirection of shaming. It’s hardly a widespread sentiment outside fundamentalist Islam, inbred Bible Belt communities, and apparently the occasional police station.

Still, where it happens it should be loudly condemned.

Hardly widespread? I suggest you take a look at the way News Ltd journalists report violent crime against women. And the way Fairfax journalists report violent crime against women. And the way that Punch reader after Punch reader will suggest that a woman “asked for it”.

I think the name has a far bigger problem than that. People’s attention spans are spread so thin these days that everyone except the already converted will probably miss the point entirely.

Many will simply take away the idea that it’s now OK to call women sluts if they’re showing some cleavage.

Others will see it as an easy opportunity to perve on a bunch of semi-clad chicks. Older people and conservatives will see it as proof of the moral laxity of today’s women.

Well Tory, that seems to be your understanding of the issue. That it’s just about reclaiming the word slut and getting your tits out. You’ve missed the point and added nothing to the conversation. Ooh, and that’s what The Punch is all about, isn’t it? “Australia’s best conversation”.

Maybe you should have gone to the SlutWalk Melbourne website to see what the global protests are really about:

We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.

Join us in our mission to spread the word that those those who experience sexual assault are not the ones at fault, without exception.

It’s pretty funny that she says people will miss the point and then does exactly that.

It will have an effect on girls and young women who will see these protests in the papers, online and in the news. And it will reinforce the already widespread impression that sex, for a woman, is power. Or the route to power.

That it is cool, and tough, and desirable to label yourself a slut. That a woman should aspire to be sexy at all costs. That if you are not a slut, you are not cool, you are not powerful. That sex equals success – and a paucity of it, therefore, failure.

Um, what the fuck? That’s not the message AT ALL. But we really should thank The Punch for this contribution to public discussion. And for publishing this comment:

Tim says:
07:50am | 16/05/11

I would give more credence to this protest if all of the organisers hadn’t been hit with the wrong end of the ugly stick.
I don’t think any of them are in any danger of being victimised for their clothing choice.

And this one:

Sonny Carrington says:
10:01am | 16/05/11

If half of all the sluts in this country turn up for this protest, it will be the biggest rally Australia has ever seen. But I doubt the single mothers will have the will power to get out of bed – Since there is no mention of a handout for their participation.

“Australia’s best conversation”? Sure, if you like talking to douchebags.

A post about sex… hello spammers

Over dinner last night with ManFriend, Social Scapegoat, Mr Black and The Devilish Ms M, we started talking about the pathologisation of women’s sex lives. When Ms M suggested that disinterest in sex could just be because your partner is lousy in bed, I’m sure Mr Black wished he’d gone to the bottleshop with ManFriend*.

But she’s got a point. I have an ex from a lifetime ago who I refer to – rather unkindly – as Two Song (as in, lasting all the way through two songs was a rare marathon). I was young and didn’t have the confidence to say ‘this isn’t good enough’; that my pleasure is just as important. So I assumed I wasn’t that interested in sex, when the real problem was that I wasn’t that interested in sex with him.

Another ex – the one I call ‘my dickhead ex’ because he was by far the biggest dickhead, particularly after we broke up – just did the jackhammer, which made me wonder why I was needed there in the first place.

I’m not saying that every night should be a three-hour orgasmathon – because when would we find time to read books and watch Outrageous Fortune? – but a good sex life requires an interest in your partner’s experience and how many of our early relationships had that? You’re not going to be very interested in sex with someone who isn’t interested in your pleasure, but when we pathologise that disinterest, no one wins. Oh, except drug companies. They win: Drugs for Low Libido Raise Concerns Over Industry ‘Construction’ of New Diseases:

Drug companies have not only sponsored the science of a new condition known as female sexual dysfunction, they have helped to construct it, in order to build global markets for new drugs, reveals an article in the British Medical Journal.

A lot of people are very rich as a result of telling women there’s something wrong with them.

I’m also not saying men are crap in bed, because there are just as many women who are lousy/lazy lovers and we’re all guilty of being ordinary from time to time. But what I am saying is that I don’t see men’s sex lives being pathologised the way that women’s sex lives are. Sure, there’s Viagra, but that’s pitched at older men who want to shag like younger men. Ergo, apparently, young men are good shaggers.

(Straight) women are socialised to think about “his pleasure”. Women’s magazines – that teenage girls read – are filled with articles on how to get him off in new and interesting ways, and how to make yourself more interested in sex so you can have sex whenever he wants (because if it was whenever you want, then why would you need to make yourself more interested in it?).

As ManFriend pointed out, some men’s mags now have cover lines about being a better lover. I’m happy to be wrong about this, but I’m guessing they pitch it as ‘be a better man, be a more manly man, by being better in bed’. Women’s mags tend to pitch it as ‘be a better lover for him’.

Not sure where I’m going with this rant. Except to say, sex = good, pathologising = bad, and I didn’t get to finish my rant about that over dinner. There, all done now.

* Not suggesting that Mr Black is lousy in bed. I wouldn’t know because that would be weird. All I meant was that he joked about being uncomfortable because he was the only guy at the table.

Arse magic

Apparently Victoria’s Secret sells undies that extend your arse beyond the normal boundaries of arses:

Victoria's Secret magic arse undies

Try the pose yourself – her right leg is in completely the wrong position.

If her back really curved like that and her arse really stuck out that much and her leg really was at that weird angle, imagine the trouble she’d have finding a pair of jeans. And the chronic back and pelvis pain.

The best thing you’ll read today

Over at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman: Video, consent and Kendra Wilkinson.

The perfect vagina?

SBS is showing a doco on Friday night called The Perfect Vagina. They are promoting it as:

In an age where boob jobs, liposuction, tummy tucks and botox are now commonplace it would seem that women have found a new part of the body to worry about … their vaginas.

Surgery that promises better-looking vaginas has become one of the fastest growing areas of plastic surgery and in the last year the number of vaginal cosmetic operations performed on British women has almost tripled. But many people argue that this latest trend is personal vanity gone too far. In this documentary our female author – fascinated by the fact that women will mutilate their vaginas all in the name of beauty – will go on a mission to find out why, despite still being a huge taboo, women have suddenly become so obsessed with this part of their body.

Shame they didn’t call it The Perfect Vulva, because that’s what’s getting sliced.

Seems a big step backwards from the Hungry Beast story revealing that censorship is making women feel their vulvas aren’t pretty enough.

You know, I think my vagina and vulva are perfect. They work, and they look just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Bashing teen mothers

It’s been a while since someone had a go at teen mothers, but Anthony Deceglie (or, to be fair, the sub) plays the shocked and outraged card in today’s Sunday Times: Number of teenage mothers mounts in West Australia:

HIGH school teens, barely out of primary school, are falling pregnant at an alarming rate.

Yet the very next sentence is:

Birth Registry figures reveal in Western Australia alone, five girls aged just 13 became mothers.

Yep, five. Alarming. It’s apparently a 20 per cent jump in the last twelve months, but we’re still only talking about 73 girls aged 13-15.

Interestingly, the rest of the article goes on to quote the Health Minister, head of Parenting WA, and Opposition on the value of talking about sex with your children and the need for more sex ed in schools for girls and boys, which isn’t something you normally read in a “oh, will someone think of the children because they’re all a bunch of dirty sluts who are only after the baby bonus” article on teen pregnancy.

John Mayer sucks even more than his music does

I’ve never paid attention to John Mayer because his music is shit. Boring, middle-of-the-road, I’d-rather-slice-my-nipples-off-than-listen-to-any-more-of-it shit. But I did read a bit of his Playboy interview yesterday, where he said his cock was a white supremacist.

Fuck Politeness has said everything that needs to be said about him: John Mayer’s ill-fated campaign to be seen as not a douche-bag.

Oh, and Mayer, you’re 32, grow the fuck up.