Eleanor Catton wins Man Booker Prize and talks about sexism, sexist comments ensue.

Posted in fail, on October 17th, 2013 by steph – Comments Off on Eleanor Catton wins Man Booker Prize and talks about sexism, sexist comments ensue.

So,  Eleanor Catton just won the Man Booker Prize for The Luminaries (which I am super excited to read given my enjoyment of The Rehearsal). And then she said some stuff about the way she is treated as a female writer ocmpared to male writers, which was very interesting and also pretty bold and important.  And then, after seeing a friend like’s article about her comments on Facebook, I got to read some awesome and insightful comments  on the posting of the article by the cool and intelligent people of the internet. On Facebook. Using their real names.







Cool, thanks for the comments, guys. Reeeeally insightful. I was nice enough to obscure names, although given that anyone on Facebook can see these comments on Stuff’s (public) page, with the names of these dudez (and links to their Facebook pages) right there next to the comments, I don’t know why I bothered.


Expecting to show sensitivity was my real mistake

Posted in fail, on October 22nd, 2012 by steph – Comments Off on Expecting to show sensitivity was my real mistake

So, lately it seems that pretty much all I post about is massive failures by online MSM writers to appropriately (and sensitively) describe major sexual abuse cases. Here’s another job superbly done (yet again by



I mean, come on. The sexual abuse allegations made against Jimmy Savile -a very serious situation that involves claims of sexual abuse, rape, and major endemic problems in various organisations that amounted to giving someone the thumbs-up to continue their abusive behaviour- are described as a “sex scandal” (in the title bar) and a “sex crisis” (in the headline). Really? COME ON. I hope I don’t need to point out how grossly offensive it is to describe the situation using phrases that would also be used to describe a married, adult politician being caught having an affair with an adult employee. Describing a situation where someone is accused of acts of rape and child abuse that occurred over many decades, with  possibly hundreds of victims, as a “sex scandal” is completely disgusting.

My muffin top is all that

Posted in bodies, Feminism, on January 12th, 2011 by steph – 10 Comments

Apparently the latest item of clothing to be resurrected from the fashion graveyard is the humble crop top t shirt. Yes, crop tops are in again. Well, they’re in again for thin people, that is. The original article only vaguely alludes to this with a reference to the “unsightly muffin-top phenomenon”, but the comments get right to the point on this one: fatties should stay the fuck away from this trend. Like, on a different continent far away. The consensus seems to be that crop tops are fine/awesome/acceptable/fashionable when worn by “people who can pull them off”, i.e. “girls that look like the one in the picture”: “slender and toned” women can wear this, but it is not for “fat chicks”. To that I have to say: fuck you. Fuck you; I wouldn’t tell you what to wear, so don’t tell me or anyone else. I personally have no desire to ever wear a crop top (I find them fairly hideous not matter what the person wearing them looks like; I think it’s some sort of visceral reaction to 90’s revival fashion), but that doesn’t mean I have any right to stop other people from wearing one. I find lots of items of clothing generally weird and not aesthetically appealing (three-quarter length pants, maxi dresses) but I don’t get to make that call for anyone but myself. Even if I see someone wearing a maxi dress and think “ugh, maxi dresses are awful”, I don’t actually have the power to tell other what to wear and I have no desire to actively police people’s outfits and enforce some sort of dress code. And I certainly don’t get to say things like “people who look like X shouldn’t wear Y item of clothing”, or decide that only certain people can “pull off” that look. It’s none of my business. If these people who think that only the toned and slender should wear crop tops genuinely think that, then they should just keep it to themselves and if they see an “unacceptable” person wearing one then maybe they should just swivel their head around 90 degrees and look at something else.

The thing I that stands out most to me when I think about how my feminism has evolved lately is that I feel very strongly that we don’t actually have the right to police other people’s choices in this way;  nobody gets to tell me how to dress and dictate whether an item of clothing is acceptable for me to wear or not, so by that logic I have no right no judge the choices that others make when it comes to that. Which is why even though I think crop tops are weird and kind of ugly, my stance isn’t going to be that nobody should wear them, or only thin women should wear them. All those people telling women with muffin tops to back away form the crop tops fatties should stop worrying about the idea that they might have to see the midriff of a woman who –gasp!- isn’t a size 6 and move along. And this body-policing, fat-shaming shit has to stop. Right now.

And anyway, what’s with all the muffin top hate? Surely everybody agrees that the muffin top is the best part of the muffin, right? I’m sure Jenna Maroney agrees with me on that one.

Pink is for girls

Posted in gender stereotypes, on January 12th, 2011 by steph – 7 Comments

Today an article discussing the “pinkification” of toys and products for girls appeared on, and actually did a good job of articulating why the all-pink “toys for girls” aisles of toy stores are problematic. I was especially pleased that they mentioned, as an example, the release of the pinked-up versions of Jenga (“Not only are the Jenga blocks pink, but each features a different question such as, “If you had one wish, what would you wish for? or “Who do you have a crush on right now?”) and Monopoly; over the Christmas holidays I was browsing the games section of The Warehouse and was totally appalled to see Twister Pink: “a girlish twist on a classic game” . Appalled because Twister is already a gender-neutral game, people! This description talks about how “all of the traditional primary colors have been replaced with pinks and fun patterns”; I had no idea that primary colours were the fucking death knell of sales to girls and women. Twister does not need a twist; the classic game is already fine for boys and girls. It doesn’t need to come in a furry pink shoulder bag –“perfect for taking to sleepovers!- for it to be “girl-friendly”. To this some people might say “but hey, some girls love pink and glitter and funky patterns, so why not attempt to tap into that demographic and catch their eye, thus upping sales?”. Well, some girls might like cute lil’ animals, and there’s no animal themed Twister. Some boys might like cars and trucks  and rugged grunty stuff with flames and skulls (y’know, “boy stuff”) but there isn’t a version of Twister that comes in a camo-print bag with studs and flames and maybe a giant monster truck on the front. Actually, I think a boy version would come with a mini leather briefcase to remind boys that they will one day grow up and enter the workforce and bring home the bacon.  The fact that there isn’t any special effort made to create a boy-targeted version to aim for that demographic of buyers suggests that the original version is the one that is ok for boys; the default is for males, and a special version is made for females.

The reason this pinkification of toys and games is problematic is because toys and games don’t need to be pink to be good. And the reason that they “need” to be pink to appeal to girls is because we have taught girls that this is what girls like. Girls aren’t born preferring the pink version of a toy to another version, this is something girls are conditioned to do through repeated exposure to message about what girls want, what girls like, and what is considered to be a “girls toy” or a “boys toy”. And, as the article on Stuff said, the reason that this is a problem is because it forces girls down a certain path they didn’t necessarily choose: there is a right way to be a girl, and this is the way to do it, and deviation from these rigid norms is bad and abnormal and wrong. As it is put in the article,

“We’re imposing stereotypes from the word go and that doesn’t really free us up to choose whatever our self-expression wants to be, whether it’s to muck around in the dirt, climb trees, pretend to be an artist, whatever.”

So to all the commenters on Stuff who have missed the point of the article (surprise, surprise…) and said “girls just naturally like pink, so who cares? It isn’t sexist, it’s human!” or “why are you saying it’s bad for a girl to like pink?!?!?!11!” or “who cares if girls like pink???” or “I loved pink growing up and I turned out just fine!”: none of that is anywhere near the point. Nobody is saying it’s bad for a girl to like pink; what is being said is that it’s bad for girls to be conditioned (trained, essentially) to like pink based on social and cultural stereotypes about what is normal for boys and normal for girls. I’m not anti-pink, I’m anti the idea that pink is a girls colour and blue is a boys colour or the idea that girls can play with dolls but boys can’t. Not that people can’t CHOOSE pink or dolls, but that we shouldn’t be systemically limiting choices to the point that people aren’t actually choosing at all but are really being told what to do. If you have a daughter who loves pink, fine. But conditioning a girl from birth with baby stilettos and all-pink wardrobes, or conditioning a boy with “boys don’t wear pink” or “dolls are for girls”, isn’t ok, and it certainly isn’t choice.

Haircut hate

Posted in doin' it wrong, on December 2nd, 2010 by steph – 2 Comments

Once again, good work for their fine work. Stupid enough is that this story about Jo Nicholls-Parker changing her hair style was the featured article on the main page at all (when really it belongs in the Life and Style section at best). But to open comments on the article too? Yes, most of the articles under the Life and Style category are open for comments. But most of these are on new lipstick trends or how probiotics work, not the appearance of a public figure. Basically, having open comments on this is just a green light to critique this woman; and not just her hair, the topic of the article, but her makeup, skin, and gender. There are 315 comments on the article; many are saying “why is this news?” (some saying it is inappropriate because it is the day of the Pike River memorial; personally, I think it is never news), but an overwhelming number are critical comments on her looks, or are comments that use the quote

“He [husband Bob Parker] likes the new cut. It’s much more page boy and that’s what he likes,” she said.

to joke about how this must mean Bob Parker is a pedophile. Flawless logic by the commenters, really.

So yeah, once again Stuff has given me evidence that they are utterly tactless jerks when it comes to which articles they open comments on; not only are they cool with having this woman’s appearance ripped to shreds, but if they ever have an article discussing anything race-related, you can bet money on the fact that comments will be open for people to spew “I’m not a racist, but…!” bile all over the place.