Monday, March 27, 2017

Chuck Palahniuk and Emma Watson's Breasts

Hoo boy, that got your attention, didn't it?

While Googling for images that would go with my spring break post from a couple of weeks back, I kept running across a recurring image: tucked in amongst the images of bodies packed on the beach, sea to shore, and bodies packed in bars, wall to wall, and overflowing garbage cans and puking, passed out individuals, was a meme, a wall of words that, until I read it, seemed out of place in a Google search for "spring break fort lauderdale" (or whatever it was; I can't seem to duplicate it now):

The quote in question comes from Palahniuk's 2008 novel, Snuff. It struck me immediately in relation to the then ongoing brouhaha over Emma Watson's breasts, which appeared (part of them, anyway) in a photograph that accompanied her interview in Vanity Fair a few weeks earlier (for Watson's interview and to see the photo in question, go here).

The appearance of Miss Watson's in the photographs caused a bit of a ruckus. Watson, of course, has become a leading voice in the current feminist movement. In 2014, she gave a wonderful address at the United Nations on gender equality, became the celebrity spokesperson for HeForShe, and is also the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. She has been quite outspoken--intelligently outspoken--on equality issues for some time. No one could doubt her credentials as a feminist. That is, until that one photograph appeared.

One of the more widely-quoted digs came from Julia Hartley-Brewer, a British radio personality. "Emma Watson: feminism, feminism...gender wage gap...why oh why am I not taken seriously...feminism...oh, and here are my tits!"

Watson was a bit perplexed at the backlash, and handled it beautifully. (I am amazed, by the way, that Watson has not only been able to transcend her career-launching role as Hermione Granger; in many ways, she's become Hermione Granger). Said Watson: "Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It's about freedom, it's about liberation, it's about equality. I really don't know what my tits have to do with it." Well said.

And yet, Miss Watson should not have been so surprised at the reaction. Some of it undoubtedly comes from those who just don't like her--haters gonna hate, and all that. But a lot of it is no doubt from those who fear feminism and the prospects of true equality for women. Those folks are lying in the weeds, no doubt waiting for any excuse to start bashing (and, I wonder if those are also the folks who are behind some of the celebrity phone hacking, hoping to get compromising pictures). They are happiest when women are kept down and just smile pretty for the camera.

Watson would no doubt say that her decision to do that particular photograph was just that: a decision. A choice. That it's her body and she can display it--or not--however she wants. That her decision, her choice, makes this perfectly in keeping with feminism. I get that, and I agree. And yet, I can't help wonder whether this helps or hurts women who are not in Watson's position. Emma Watson, because of her role as Hermione Granger, and because she has turned out to be a pretty good actress, and because she is an extremely intelligent woman, has power, and has choice. I suspect, after her recent haul for Beauty and the Beast (reported at only $2 million up front, with a potential huge back end deal), Watson could probably decide to walk away from Hollywood forever. With her brains, she could almost certainly be successful in whatever she sets her mind to. With her bankroll, she could take the time to let whatever she chooses to do develop into success. That's a lot of power. It gives her the opportunity to make choices, to be outspoken, and to not have to really worry about whether it pisses people off or not.

And that's where things get sticky for me. Watson has the ability to choose. Is this a representation of power, as she might suggest, or is she just another damsel who doesn't know she's in distress, as Palahniuk suggests? And what of the women who don't have that power? What of the women who are struggling to make it as actresses and models, who are told to take their clothes off for the camera--or, if they're keeping some of them on, to pose like they want to fuck the camera? Are these women empowered, or are they exploited? And does Watson's photo shoot help or hurt?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Three Feet

That's what fell on our house last week. Three feet. It was kind of a lot. This is the Catbird on Wednesday afternoon, when the snow had (mostly) stopped. Granted, she's short (5' 3", I think). The car she is standing next to is a Jeep Grand Cherokee. It's just about six feet tall--when it isn't covered with three feet of snow. Needless to say, it was an exhausting couple of days--by the time we were done shovelling the driveway, the piles alongside it were about head high.

Three feet wasn't the winning entry in the snow sweepstakes, however. One of the towns in county picked up four feet. I'm glad it wasn't us!

The good news is the snow is already disappearing, though I soaked myself pretty well this afternoon wading through knee-deep snow in pursuit of the hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive insect pest that is threatening eastern hemlock trees here on the east coast. I didn't find it, which is good news for the trees.

I think that's about it for me. Were you in the path of the big storm? How did you make out?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Spring Break

When I wasin college, spring break was Fort Lauderdale, maybe Daytona. That was where everyone wanted to go, to get away from the grind of campus and the pressure of mid-terms, papers and projects. All anyone wanted was a few days to relax in the sun, kick back for a few days, enjoy the ocean and the beach.....

These guys look like they just realized they spent a week drunk in a hotel room and missed out on all the babes!

...or not.

My spring breaks were always spent on Long Island, U.S.A. I never really had the money to go down to Florida for the week-long debauch, but I had friends who did, friends who had a great time down there--what they could remember of it, anyway. Was I deprived? Maybe. Maybe, like New Year's Eve in Times Square (something else I haven't done, though I did spend on memorable one in the Quincy Marketplace in Boston, so that's kind of the same, right?), perhaps Spring Break is something everyone should do once--although I do wonder how many young lives are ruined by their experience, and I'm secretly (now, not so secretly, I guess) glad that neither of my girls has jetted off to Florida or Cancun or wherever Spring Break occurs these days.

This and That

WE picked up the Catbird from school on Friday and had a marathon day of driving there and back again. Though we keep vowing that she should take the bus, we never actually make her do it (maybe this weekend....). It's nice to have her home again, even for just a week.

OVER the weekend, I managed to add about 5600 words to the WiP--I'm not quite sure how I managed that, but I did. No progress on the RiP, though. Maybe I should change it to the RiS, as in "Revision in Stasis"....

THE continued actions of the Trump Administration and the GOP majority in Congress should make it clear to all by now that their motto is "Business uber alles." Anything that filters on down here to the rest of us is just a bonus.


The winter storm watch is now a winter storm warning. Twelve to eighteen inches possible. Good thing the Catbird is home to help shovel!

That's it for me; how are you?


Monday, March 6, 2017

Weekend Update: Themeless Edition

Greetings! Hoping this Monday morning (or whatever time it is wherever you are) finds you well. I find myself this fine Monday with no cohesive post, and no 'seemingly random thoughts that are actually part of a theme' kind of thing happening today, so here are some truly random thoughts.

-The RiP and the WiP are not making a whole lot of progress. Actually, yesterday afternoon, I had a good run of thought about a near-end-of-the-story event for the WiP that turned into about 1,600 words or so, so that was good, but overall, these projects continue to millimeter along. Time to get serious.

-The Weather does what the weather does at this time of year. On February 23, we did a program for kids in a state park, and it was near 70 degrees out. This past weekend, we did what was supposed to be a snowshoe hike in the same state park. There was no snow (at least, not enough to warrant the snowshoes), but it was cold. Five-ish miles on the trail with high temperatures in the teens and wind chills below zero. After three hours of hiking, this was me (hang on to your breakfasts, folks):

That's all water, folks.

Yes, it really is water. Warm, exhaled air gets caught on the mustache, condenses, and freezes. I knew there was some ice there; I had no idea how much ice there was. After a very cold weekend, we're due to pop back up into the forties the next couple of days, so this scene will hopefully not be repeated--until next winter, if we're lucky.

-The Bruins made one minor deal at the NHL's trade deadline last week, adding depth forward Drew Stafford to the team for the cost of a mid-round draft pick. Sometimes, the benefit of adding a player is less what that guy brings to the team and more that he's able to push a guy further down--or out--of the lineup. In Stafford's first game, he got more shots on goal and created far more scoring chances for his line than the guy who had been there before. Will the Bruins swoon as they have in March for the last two seasons, or will they solidify and hold onto the playoff spot they currently occupy? Time will tell, but as of today, the playoff spot is theirs to lose.

-Some music! Why do songs get stuck in my head? I don't know! This one has been rattling around all week, an oldie, but goodie. Joe Walsh, Life's Been Good. How's life been for you?