Problems with commenting

WordPress has pushed out a lot of security updates recently, and one of these appears to have broken our commenting template, hiding the “Submit” button so that none of your comments are coming through.

I’m going to change the main Feministe theme temporarily to a standard WordPress template until they’ve sorted out all these security updates, and then I’ll make the site look all familiar again.

Posted in Admin | Tagged | 4 Comments

One Alabama lawmaker proposes just getting the courts out of the marriage business

For everyone who’s been feeling that government has no place in the whole “marriage” thing to begin with: An Alabama state senator agrees with you. You may recall Alabama’s recent (brief) entry into the 21st century earlier this year when Alabama (briefly) legalized same-sex marriage before un-legalizing it, during which state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered his probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

With that event in mind, Republican Sen. Greg Albritton has proposed Senate Bill 377 to “bring order out of chaos,” he says. Under the proposed law, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in April, the probate’s office would no longer issue marriage licenses — in fact, couples wouldn’t need licenses at all to get married. Civil recognition would come in the form of a contract witnessed by two adults and recorded by the probate’s office and the Office of Vital Statistics as a marriage.

“The sanctity of marriage cannot be sanctified by the government of men,” Albritton says.

Marriage sanctity notwithstanding, the new, non-bigoted-probate-judge-centric procedure would be open to good Christians and heathens alike, and when same-sex marriage is ultimately de-un-legalized, the procedure will remain exactly the same.

A similar (on the surface) bill passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives in March, but as a specifically targeted shot at same-sex marriage, the state ban on which was overturned last year. HB 1125, currently before the state senate, puts marriage entirely in the hands of the clergy, requiring court clerks to issue certificates of marriage signed by “a preacher, minister, priest, rabbi, or ecclesiastical dignitary of a recognized assembly.” (Heathen types can file an affidavit of common law marriage.)

“[Same-sex couples and atheists] don’t have a spiritual basis for a marriage and don’t want to have a clergy member or a priest or someone involved in the spiritual aspect, then they can file an affidavit of common-law marriage,” says bill sponsor state Rep. Todd Russ. (He also told new station KFOR, “You know, in the early days, the king actually went before the priest to ask for marriage. Somehow along the way we’ve changed it to where we have to ask the government before we go to the priest to be married, and now we have problems.”)

In contrast, the proposed Alabama law wouldn’t require the involvement of clergy at all. Marriage contracts would just need to be witnessed by two adults, be they clergy or laity or attorneys or itinerant circus clowns 18 or older. Actual fancy-pants solemnizations (or lack thereof) would be at the couple’s discretion.

To be clear: The new law still wouldn’t address some of the most pressing issues surrounding marriage equality in states that don’t honor it — adoption, inheritance, and hospital visitation and medical decisions, for instance, among many others. Alabama courts have yet to nullify the same-sex marriages that were performed during Alabama’s brief period of modernity, so in theory, those couples remain married, although that theory hasn’t been tested yet. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to make a ruling on state bans in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee in late June, which may or may not have an impact on Alabama’s ban, depending largely on the specific wording of the ruling and whether or not Roy Moore continues to be a butthole, which is likely. So there’s that. Further updates as events warrant.

Posted in GLBTQ, Law, Marriage | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday

Promote yourself.


Netiquette reminders:

  • Want to recommend someone else’s writing instead? Try the latest signal-boosting thread.
  • we expect Content Notes as a courtesy to our readers for problematic content in linked posts and/or their comment threads (a habit of posting only triggering/disparaging links may annoy the Giraffe (you really don’t want to annoy the Giraffe)), Content Notes are not needed if your post title is already descriptive of problematic content.
  • extended discussion of self-promotion links on this thread is counter-productive for the intended signal-boosting –  the idea is for the promoted sites to get more traffic.  If it’s a side-discussion that would be off-topic/unwelcome/distressing on the other site, take it to #spillover after leaving a note on this thread redirecting others there.
Posted in General | Tagged , | 10 Comments

The pressing question of Scarlett Johansson’s underwear

In honor of today’s U.S. release of Avengers: Age of Ultron (since we don’t do sequel numbers now, just subheads), I thought I’d share an interview with Scarlett Johansson about the nuances of her character, the Black Widow, in light of her backstory as an orphan, trafficked as a young child, brainwashed and forced into service but now using the skills that were imposed upon her for an arguably, but not entirely, noble cause.

J/K! It’s about whether or not she can wear underwear under her tight costume, courtesy of Extra interviewer Jerry Penacoli. Because the public has a right to know. And while this is a video of a female celebrity being asked an inappropriate, intrusive question by a representative of a national entertainment news franchise, I like to think of it also as a commentary on the human condition. Because who among us hasn’t encountered the guy who…

… thinks there might be a polite, appropriate way to ask us about your underpants in a professional setting?

JERRY PENACOLI. Now, were you able to wear undergarments with your —

SCARLETT JOHANSSON. You’re, like, the fifth person to ask me that today.

JP. Well, no, because —

SJ. What is going on? What — since when did people start asking each other about — in interviews about their underwear?

JP. No! No, because it is such a skintight — Here’s why.

SJ. I’ll leave it up to your imagination. Okay?

JP. See? Is that…

SJ. Whatever you feel I should be wearing — or not wearing under that costume is what I…

And then he tries to convince you you’re silly for being offended?

JP. This is not — It — It — Well…

SJ. Well?

JP. Is it inappropriate?

SJ. To ask somebody what kind of underpants they wear?

JP. I didn’t ask you what kind.

SJ. You just asked me if I was wearing any.

JP. Could you. Could you.

JEREMY RENNER. No, what do you wear under underneath?

JP. Could you. Like, what do you wear underneath something like that?

SJ. Overalls.

JP. Do you wear clothes?

SJ. You wear dungarees. You can’t wear clothes under it. It’s like a — it’s like a wetsuit.

And then thinks he’s all clever and has caught you out?

JP. Okay.

SJ. Practically.

JP. Okay. So you answered my question.

SJ. Well, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a little bit more than a wetsuit. Was I wearing underwear? I mean, gosh. I mean, ask Joss.

And then reveals that he asked your boss about your underpants?

JP. I did! I did ask him, and he said —

SJ. You asked Joss what kind of underwear he wears?

JP. No! No, no! I asked —

SJ. What kind of interview is this?!

(Okay, that one might be a little less universal.)

And then finally, he gives up on your underpants and just starts talking with your male companion about “man” stuff?

JP. This is the movie that people have been waiting for. Because anybody who has seen any of the other Marvel films, now this is sort of like the — you know, it’s, it’s the culmination.

SJ. It’s the grandaddy.

JP. It’s the grandaddy! Right?

JR. The movie’s so darn big that you don’t even — You just hope you, like, just do your part.

SJ. I understand you — you got hurt pretty badly, though. How’d you do that?

JR. Fighting her.

JP. Oh!

JR. And I hurt myself.

SJ. I think I also —

JR. I think, like, my bowstring got caught in my belt, or something, and I twisted my neck wrong… It was really…

SJ. When you, like, dislocate a shoulder taking off your socks.

JP. So you didn’t hurt him.

JR. No, she didn’t hurt me. [to Johansson] Yeah, exactly.

SJ. It’s really, like, not a good story at all.

JP. Twisting your neck, or you…

JR. Yeah, totally.

JP. Oh, man.

“Oh, man” is one way of putting it.

Posted in Celebrity, Feminism, Movies | 1 Comment

Links: In, around, and about Baltimore (Updated 5/1)

[Content note for police violence]

Update: Today, Baltimore chief prosecutor Marilyn Mosby announced that Freddie Gray’s death has been ruled a homicide and his detention and arrest ruled illegal. The six officers involved in his arrest are charged with (assortedly) offenses including involuntary manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter (gross and criminal), second degree assault, false imprisonment, misconduct in office, and, for the driver of the van, second degree depraved heart murder. Warrants have been issued for all.

Previously: In the wake of Freddie Gray’s death from injuries mysteriously sustained while in police custody two weeks ago, and following his funeral yesterday, people in Baltimore have protested — some of it peaceful, much of it, as of Monday afternoon, violent, and with staggering consequence. Now, as the community comes back out into their neighborhoods, peaceful protesters continue to gather to voice their frustrations, and a lot of other people have things to say, too.

At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about calls for calm in the protests in Baltimore.

What specifically was the crime here? What particular threat did Freddie Gray pose? Why is mere eye contact and then running worthy of detention at the hands of the state? Why is Freddie Gray dead?

The people now calling for nonviolence are not prepared to answer these questions. Many of them are charged with enforcing the very policies that led to Gray’s death, and yet they can offer no rational justification for Gray’s death and so they appeal for calm. But there was no official appeal for calm when Gray was being arrested. There was no appeal for calm when Jerriel Lyles was assaulted. (“The blow was so heavy. My eyes swelled up. Blood was dripping down my nose and out my eye.”) There was no claim for nonviolence on behalf of Venus Green. (“Bitch, you ain’t no better than any of the other old black bitches I have locked up.”) There was no plea for peace on behalf of Starr Brown. (“They slammed me down on my face,” Brown added, her voice cracking. “The skin was gone on my face.”)

Edward Bowser writes for al.com about the Martin Luther King quote frequently repeated in the past couple of days, that “riot is the language of the unheard.”

The quote was lifted from a CBS interview with Mike Wallace on Sept. 27, 1966, in which King discussed a vocal minority of protesters who saw violence as the only means to battle civil unrest. King empathized with their pain, explaining to America that a riot is, indeed, the language of those without a voice.

Fifty years later, the unheard are speaking out again.

For decades, Baltimore has been a deeply segregated city, with much of the rioting confined to a neighborhood where a third of families live in poverty. They’ve struggled in silence. The family and supporters of Freddie Gray can relate to that frustration – for weeks, they’ve patiently waited for answers in Gray’s death.

No indictment. No explanation. Seemingly no compassion from law enforcement. Nothing but silence.

True to King’s words, the unheard are now speaking in brutal fashion.

But there’s much more to King’s 1966 interview, which begins with these words:

“I will never change in my basic idea that nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to the Negro in his struggle for freedom and justice. I think for the Negro to turn to violence would be both impractical and immoral.”

The Huffington Post’s Julia Craven talks with WGN radio about her observations from the ground. At HuffPo, she recounts how the rioting started in Baltimore, and continues to give a view from the community in Baltimore via Twitter.

Posted in Crime, Law, Racism | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday

Promote yourself.


Netiquette reminders:

  • Want to recommend someone else’s writing instead? Try the latest signal-boosting thread.
  • we expect Content Notes as a courtesy to our readers for problematic content in linked posts and/or their comment threads (a habit of posting only triggering/disparaging links may annoy the Giraffe (you really don’t want to annoy the Giraffe)), Content Notes are not needed if your post title is already descriptive of problematic content.
  • extended discussion of self-promotion links on this thread is counter-productive for the intended signal-boosting –  the idea is for the promoted sites to get more traffic.  If it’s a side-discussion that would be off-topic/unwelcome/distressing on the other site, take it to #spillover after leaving a note on this thread redirecting others there.
Posted in General | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Open Thread with Toppled Pole

This highway-blocking blown-down power pole that happened just down the road from me features for this week’s Open Thread. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

Hours of traffic blocked during the severe storms that hit the coast of New South Wales this week

Hours of traffic blocked during the severe storms that hit the coast of New South Wales this week

So, what have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
Reading? Watching? Making? Meeting?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?


* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.

Posted in Life, Politics, Popular Culture, The Cultural Canon | Tagged | 11 Comments

Cop who killed Rekia Boyd acquitted of all charges

Chicago police detective Dante Servin has been found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Rekia Boyd. A Cook County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Porter ruled that the state had failed to prove recklessness on Servin’s part after he fired his unregistered handgun over his shoulder from inside his car into a dark alley, hitting Boyd in the back of the head.

Reading his seven-page ruling from the bench, the judge said there was no dispute that Servin had intended to kill Cross, but under the involuntary manslaughter law, prosecutors had to prove he acted recklessly in the legal sense of the word.

“It is easy to say, ‘Of course the defendant was reckless. He intentionally shot in the direction of a group of people on the sidewalk. That is really dangerous … and in fact Rekia Boyd was killed. Case closed,’ ” Porter wrote. “It is easy to think that way, but it is wrong.”

That’s because Illinois law says that intentionally firing a gun at someone on the street “is an act that is so dangerous it is beyond reckless,” Porter wrote. “It is intentional and the crime, if any there be, is first-degree murder.”

Porter acknowledged that it was “perhaps even unfortunate” that neither side would have “closure” on whether Servin was justified in opening fire that night, but he said he had no choice under the law but to dismiss the charges.

In short: Servin might have been guilty of first-degree murder, just not involuntary manslaughter, so he goes free and will shortly be reinstated to active police duty.

In March of 2012, Boyd and three friends were walking to a store near Chicago’s Douglas Park when Servin, off duty at the time, told the group to quiet down. Words were exchanged, and then Servin fired five shots at the group from inside his car. Boyd was killed, and her boyfriend, Antonio Cross, was grazed in the thumb. Servin later said that he feared for his life and claimed to see Cross pull a gun from his waistband and point it at him, and that he heard a gunshot and felt “something” on the back of his head before he started shooting. Police never found a weapon, and Cross says he was holding a cell phone.

Speaking to reporters at the courthouse after his acquittal, Servin said, “Any reasonable person, any police officer especially, would’ve reacted in the exact same manner that I reacted. And I’m glad to be alive. I saved my life that night. I’m glad that I’m not a police death statistic. Antonio Cross is a would-be cop killer, and that’s all I have to say.”

He also said, “I think it was a mistake for the state’s attorney to charge me. But I also explained to the family, if this is what they needed for closure, to be charged, I hope they got what they’re looking for.”

Posted in Crime, Law, Racism | Tagged | 11 Comments

Debunking trolls during Sexual Assault Awareness Month…

If you live in the States and believe rape is a serious issue, you likely know April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which has been around since the eighties – albeit ignored by most politicians, until filthy liberal Obama became the first president to treat rape as a serious issue. And whilst plenty of aspiring sociopaths think women deserve rape, the majority of civilised folks believe preventing rape is a good thing. But what happens when pro-rape trolls make the jump from spewing misogyny online, to harassing advocates and survivors at campus events?

Granted, most trolls lack the backbone to attack others without a cloak of anonymity to shield them from consequences. Yet more brazen trolls aren’t without precedent, like the ones who oppose Take Back the Night rallies with “you deserve rape” signs. One troll graced our recent campus tabling event, marching from table to table, claiming the event was a sexist attack on men, demanding to know why nobody would answer his questions about false rape accusations. (Most tablers thought they were being punk’d and shrugged him off, which didn’t help his attitude.)

Then he came to our table and, well, it didn’t end well for him. After a few minutes, his girlfriend (or whoever was standing with him) pulled him away from our table, before he could embarrass himself further.

For those who may find themselves in similar situations this month and need an entertaining survival guide – or who simply want an idea of how our conversation went – this post is for you. Just remember these responses hurt more when you deliver them with a smile!

Q: Why’re you spending my student fees on this event?

A: Welcome! Most people here think campus rape is bad, though not everyone agrees, since one frat was recently banned for allegedly heckling anti-rape events with dildos. If you’d like to join this frat, we have their contact info – but in the meantime, rape awareness is a cheap alternative to lawsuits from rape victims whose colleges violate their rights.

Q: What makes you think campus rape is a problem?

A: Aside from how 15 to 20 per cent of college women are sexually assaulted, and how this is corroborated by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Journal of American College Health, the Medical University of South Carolina and the CDC, we’re generally in favour of preventing things we know are harming our friends and classmates!

Q: What proof do you have those studies are legitimate?

A: Hey, last time we checked, the U.S. Justice Department is good enough at what it does that the FBI works for them. If you’re upset at how they study rape, we can give an address so you can address a letter of concern to them!

Q: And how do you know those rapes aren’t false accusations?

A: We’re confused – if someone rapes someone, how is that false? Regardless, considering the FBI reports over 90 per cent of rape cases are probable or true, we choose to focus our efforts on survivors who need help.

Q: So you don’t care about false rape accusations?

A: On the contrary, the most effective way to prevent such accusations is to prevent situations where rape occurs. That’s why we teach affirmative consent, to ensure men aren’t in danger of walking around and accidentally raping someone who didn’t say yes!

Q: And how would you know she said yes or not?

A: In a civilised society, most people ask for permission before sticking their body parts into another person. Most of us learn consent as children – do you feel consent is a challenge for you?

Q: So a girl can say she was raped if she had sex without saying yes?

A: Good luck with winning a rape case if you have no evidence of rape! That’s why so few men in jail for rape turn out to be falsely accused (unless they’re black), because getting a conviction without evidence sounds about as smart as your question.

Q: So you don’t care how false accusations affect men’s reputations?

A: Au contraire, we care about many things, from how 1 in 6 men are sexually assaulted before college, to how religious groups wish to ban rape victims from accessing birth control. Since rape victims tend to suffer most from rape, we focus on their needs – but since you care deeply about men and rape, perhaps you should table with us at our next event, talking to men about how to avoid accidentally raping?

Q: You didn’t bother answering…

A: I’m sorry, but not interrupting is another skill we assumed you’d learned as a child. Is your lack of basic skills why you’re fearful of being accused of rape someday?

Our chat with this bloke wasn’t nearly this linear – he kept trying to disrupt and derail the conversation, as trolls often try to do. But given how predictable rape apologists are, we were by default well-versed in whatever tired arguments he trotted out, so instead we gave entertaining answers to string him along. No, what shocked us more was that he tried at all – he took his trolling into the offline world, to an event where he should have known none of his arguments would strike anyone as terribly original.

Why, then, did he even bother? We’re not sure why, but we were entertained enough by his foolishness that it led in this post. Happy tabling!

Posted in Rape Culture, Sexual Assault | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Shameless Self-Promotion Sunday

Promote yourself.


Netiquette reminders:

  • Want to recommend someone else’s writing instead? Try the latest signal-boosting thread.
  • we expect Content Notes as a courtesy to our readers for problematic content in linked posts and/or their comment threads (a habit of posting only triggering/disparaging links may annoy the Giraffe (you really don’t want to annoy the Giraffe)), Content Notes are not needed if your post title is already descriptive of problematic content.
  • extended discussion of self-promotion links on this thread is counter-productive for the intended signal-boosting –  the idea is for the promoted sites to get more traffic.  If it’s a side-discussion that would be off-topic/unwelcome/distressing on the other site, take it to #spillover after leaving a note on this thread redirecting others there.
Posted in General | Tagged , | 16 Comments

Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” enters its teen years

Toward the end of January, Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” celebrated its tenth anniversary. Ten years of raising women’s self-esteem and/or just telling us we’re not as ugly as we think we are (mileage varies). The campaign’s first video, 2006’s “Dove Evolution,” demonstrated the unrealistic nature of advertising images by showing the rapid-fire transformation of a non-model-looking woman into a billboard model, through the use of makeup, styling, lighting, and lots and lots of photoshop. The video received thousands upon thousands of near-instantaneous shares, plus a Lion at Cannes in 2007. (Ironically, Dove did, in fact, use Photoshop to smooth and perfect the diverse group of “real woman” models used in their print campaign. Furtherly ironically, the company sells anti-aging cream, firming cream, and brightening cream, I suppose for the benefit of women who don’t look like the women in their ads.)

“Evolution” wasn’t really threatened by any other entries into the self-esteem viral-video market until they eclipsed themselves in 2013. That video, Real Beauty Sketches, had women sitting down for a forensic sketch artist, who made contrasting sketches of them based on their own (critical) and then someone else’s (far less critical) description, showing women that “[they’re] more beautiful than [they] think [they] are.” The video received both praise and criticism, the latter for, in particular, almost exclusively young, thin, conventionally attractive white women and for implying that women are our own worst critics when, in fact, pretty much everyone is our worst critic.

And that’s been the question surrounding the Campaign for Real Beauty basically from the outset: Is being beautiful something we really want to emphasize above all things? In a society where women and girls really are evaluated on our beauty for things completely looks-unrelated, is telling a girl, “Your looks don’t matter as long as you love yourself” really realistic? And how do we address matters of beauty when the concept is both subjective and largely defined by arbitrary, exclusive societal standards?

(Non-Dove-related) case in point: Last summer, feminists overwhelmed @LilyBolourian’s and @cheuya’s #FeministsAreUgly hashtag, originally intended to reclaim and revise conventional, white-centric beauty standards, with a flood of conventionally attractive selfies. And then some other feminists responded with the argument that some feminists are, in fact, what societal standards would deem “ugly,” but that shouldn’t matter because looks are unimportant. And then Bolourian clarified that neither the hashtaggers nor the critics of the hashtaggers were really getting the point, because it’s easy to talk “ugly” or “not ugly” when you’re basically one of the people the beauty standards were built around in the first place.

And in fact, the very genesis of the Campaign was a series of interactive billboards inviting passersby to vote on whether a pictured woman was “Fat or Fab?” or “Wrinkled or Wonderful?” — implying, intentionally or not, that a woman can’t be both.

For my part, I’m not overwhelmed by their most recent video, which invites women all over the world to enter a building by choosing between a “Beautiful” and an “Average” doorway. There’s a lot of footage of women trying to decide which door to use, and women analyzing their choice to use the “Average” door, and ultimately women deciding they are, in fact, worthy of the “Beautiful” doorway. (Interesting side note: Three of the women who go through “Beautiful” are either dragged or, in one case, redirected by the woman pushing her wheelchair.) As someone who falls decisively into the “average” category — if a mathematical construct like that can be applied to physical attractiveness — I’m perfectly aware that my choice of doorways isn’t going to affect my own self-perception or, more important, society’s reaction to me because of my appearance. I mean, whether I’d be considered objectively beautiful is debatable, but I can definitely say I’m closer in appearance to the majority of women than to the women Western society singles out as “beautiful.” That’s not low self-esteem; that’s just logic.

(Dad, please don’t tell me I’m pretty in comments. I love you, but this is not the time.)

The campaign as a whole has received that kind of response, neither a roaring success nor an overwhelming failure, both encouraging women and girls who don’t feel beautiful and disappointing women who continue to be left out of the “beauty” conversation entirely. And this is not me trashing the campaign out of hand — for all of its flaws, if women do find themselves reconsidering their negative self-talk and the messages they internalize that make them feel bad about the way they look, that’s a good thing. Even if it is, at its heart, a bunch of ads. But it is, at its heart, a bunch of ads. And in a society where women can lose their jobs for being too pretty and 81 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat, “you’re perfect exactly as you are” is a simplistic glossing-over of a whole boatload of issues.

Regardless, however you feel about the Campaign for Real Beauty, I think we can all agree that none of us who isn’t wearing a gorilla suit looks like a person in a gorilla suit. And that’s a win for everyone.

Three women separately enter a room and shake hands with a woman in a lab coat.

VO. What do we, as women, really think about our appearance? The answers might surprise you. These three women are about to take part in a Dove True Beauty experiment. And they have no idea.

INTERVIEWER. How do you feel about your appearance?

WOMAN 1. Good. Pretty good.

WOMAN 2. There’s definitely room for improvement.

WOMAN 3. Um, I feel okay about it. You know, I have good days, bad days.

INT (cringing). Mmm. Yeah, that bad. Okay. Um… [her phone rings] Oh, I have a phone call, and I have to take this, but I’ll be right back. There’s a mirror, just right there.

W1. Okay.

The interviewer winks at the camera as she walks out of the room. The women look around the room awkwardly as they wait for her to return.

INT. The women think that this is part of the interview. Because we told them that it is.

We see shots of the interview team preparing the room for the interviewees, taking a real mirror out of the wall. Then we’re back to the women in the room. Woman 1 stands and turns to the “mirror,” and a person in a gorilla suit appears in the opening.

W1 (jumping). Oh, my God!

Woman 2 stands and looks in the mirror and shrieks as she sees the gorilla, which is trying to mirror her movements.

W2. What the fuck?!

Woman 3 stands, sees the gorilla, and just stands with her mouth open. The interviewer is in the control room, watching on a monitor.

INT. Wow. You must hate what you see when you look in the mirror.

Woman 1 stands and looks around for the voice, while the gorilla continues to mirror her movements.

W1. What? Is that supposed to be me? Because I would never believe that that was me.

Woman 2 sticks her hand through the mirror opening; the gorilla tries to bat it away.

W2. That’s not a fucking mirror. It’s not a mirror.

INT. You look in the mirror, and what you see is a disgusting zoo animal.

W1. I don’t think that I look like a zoo animal!

INT. But is that the real you?

W1. No!

INT. Look at yourself in the mirror. Do you feel unattractive? I bet you do.

W2. No. I don’t. That’s a man in a gorilla suit.

W3 (shaking). Ani — animal in the room!

W1. I want to leave, please. I don’t want the $25. I’d like to go.

Woman 3 starts patting down the walls, looking for a door.

W3. Is this the door? Is this a panel?

The gorilla is waving at and reaching through the opening to the women.

VO. Again, the women have no idea.

The interview comes back into the room.

INT. What would you say if I told you that that was not your face in the mirror? That was a gorilla-man in the mirror, and not your face.

W2. I’d say yeah.

INT. You thought that was you, and you totally fell for it.

W1. No. No, I — No.

W2. What is wrong with everyone? [waving at the cameras] What is wrong with everyone here?

W1. I never thought that was me in the mirror. Not once.

INT. Well, you can — You can thank Dove. Okay? Just thank — thank Dove. Hashtag #truebeauty.

W1. No. No.

INT. Thank them.

Woman 1 walks out of the room, leaving the interviewer to shout after her.

INT. We showed you using science!

W1 (O.S.). No.

The interviewer looks into the camera, confused.

VO. Dove. You fell for our weird psychology experiment, and it showed you you’re not actually a hideous monster. So where’s our Nobel Peace Prize or whatever?

White screen with the Dove logo, and then fade to black.

Posted in Advertising, Beauty, Body image, Media & Media Literacy | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Privacy Matters: the Personal, the Public and the Police

Digby at Hullabaloo notes that occasionally even David Brooks can be correct.

Privacy is important to the development of full individuals because there has to be an interior zone within each person that other people don’t see. There has to be a zone where half-formed thoughts and delicate emotions can grow and evolve, without being exposed to the harsh glare of public judgment. There has to be a place where you can be free to develop ideas and convictions away from the pressure to conform. There has to be a spot where you are only yourself and can define yourself.

Privacy is important to families and friendships because there has to be a zone where you can be fully known. There has to be a private space where you can share your doubts and secrets and expose your weaknesses with the expectation that you will still be loved and forgiven and supported.

Privacy is important for communities because there has to be a space where people with common affiliations can develop bonds of affection and trust. There has to be a boundary between us and them. Within that boundary, you look out for each other; you rally to support each other; you cut each other some slack; you share fierce common loyalties.

Privacy for normal citizens going around their everyday personal, family and community lives is essential for our very sanity, which is why the question of government agencies monitoring our every keystroke is such an important question of liberty. But as Brooks points out in his NYT op-ed and as Digby elucidates further, privacy for police officers on duty is a very different question.

I wouldn’t ever begrudge police officers a dime for what they do. But that also comes with the responsibility to follow the law and the constitution and there are just too many perverse incentives and too much of a military culture in police work not to use the safeguards that body cams bring to the task.

It’s a delicate balance. But there’s a huge difference between the government using technology to intrude on the most private thoughts and habits of average Americans without cause and using it to ensure that police interactions with citizens are proper. After all, there’s nothing new in having police give a report after an incident. All that’s different about this is that there will now be independent documentation to back up what they say.

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