Tag Archives: sexism

Game of Thrones-withdrawal

How mean is it that we have to wait until April for new episodes of Game of Thrones? All the other shows are coming back, but it’s still several months left for GOT. And how many years are left now until we will get the next book in the series?

I started reading the book series some 6 month before the first episode aired, and finished the latest book a few months ago. I think the book series is a very good example of fiction that isn’t in your face about what is good and what is bad, which characters and which actions are evil. I quite like that. The show doesn’t do as well in that regard, since the writers seem to think that they’re “fixing” characters, by having Cathlyn not hating Jon, Cersei showing more weakness and having Joffrey carry out what was one of Cersei’s most evil deeds in the books (ordering the murder of a newborn baby).

The fact that all the characters are all some deeper or lighter shade of grey in terms of morality and that it’s pretty clear that the society in which they live is extremely unfair makes me not understand the complaints that the books are sexist because of the patriarchal world the story takes place in. Sure, the characters live in a very sexist world, but it’s not like the characters (like Arya, Dany, Brienne and Cersei) doesn’t challenge the sexist views of the society around them. We also see in great detail how the female characters suffer because their lack of rights and respect. I’ve heard it said that GRRM should have been more clear in the books that this type of thinking is wrong, which goes back to the whole debate about whether you can depict something in art without rejecting or condoning it. I’ve never had an issue with that, and I think the unfairness of GRRM’s world is one of the things that makes the series interesting. You have people like the Boltons and the Lannisters getting away with mass-murder and heinous torture because they’re lords and rich, while the average citizen is left exposed and vulnerable for diseases, starvation, wars, kangaroo courts and pillage. Actually, going by GRRM’s frequent descriptions of burnt and savaged villages, I’m surprised the Seven Kingdoms have any “average citizens” left. I can see other reasons why some other things in the book series are sexist but I don’t understand people who find the book sexist just because of the way the world is.

The TV-show, however, is just silly when it comes to female characters, but I think that’s indisputable so it’s not as fun to talk about. Boobs, boobs everywhere, no dick, conversation over. Judging by the latest casting decision, which indicates they’re going to start a plotline that doesn’t start until later in the books, I wonder when they’re going to catch up to GRRM and what will happen then. Plus, the show is making changes to events and characters that might prove important later on. GRRM is a sneaky bastard. I’m planning a countdown when it’s a month left to the season opener. I’m pretty sure it’ll be disappointing but I know at least one wedding that I’m looking forward to. >;)

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Hair today, gone tomorrow.

A snippet of the history of hair.

I’ve been thinking about hair recently. There’s a little story to behind every hairstyle I find, and it made me think about the social history of hair. Consider the Afro hairstyle for example; it used to be a marker of status and identity (maybe because it requires a lot of care?) in pre-colonial African societies and turned into an important symbol for black pride during the sixties in the US. The history of the Afro as a whole is really interesting and is something I think everyone should know something about.

Head-shaving as a punishment also has a place in the history of the Afro. Cutting or shaving off someone’s hair is interesting because while it seems like a odd punishment it makes a lot of sense when you think about what hair symbolized. When the slave ships came to Africa, the people who were taken as slaves had their hair shaved off as a way of dehumanize them (and avoid head lice). Head-shaving as a punishment (mainly for women) goes all the way back the bible:

Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head–it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. (NRSV,1┬áCorinthians 11:3-10)

It’s not a big surprise that head-shaving was a common punishment for women who were accused of committing adultery during the dark ages. In the previous season of American Horror Story, one of the characters got her hair cut off as a punishment for supposedly being a necrophiliac. I think photos of the public head-shaving of women during and after WW2 are one of the most telling depictions of hair as a symbol of social status and identity. That’s not even mentioning the incredibly fucked up logic behind shaving a woman’s head just because she stood accused of having relations or even just worked with Nazis.

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Something worth noting is that while some male “collaborators” had their head shaved, it was mostly women standing accused and punished by head-shaving. Shaving off a woman’s hair is undoubtedly different from shaving off a man’s head, which ties back to the bible quote posted above.

A woman’s hair was seen as a symbol of her femininity and beauty. Just think about the media reactions when Britney Spears shaved off her hair during her public breakdown. The famous bob cut, for example, isn’t just any hairstyle, but goes back a century to Irene Castle, whose short bob cut (and reactions that followed) played a role in the change in norms and attitudes against women in the 1920ies. Women were supposed to have long hair and men short; something that also caused a controversy when it became a fashion fad for men to grow out their hair. You would think that we would have moved on from that notion today, but just ask a few short-haired women about whether they have faced any prejudice due to their short hair and I’m sure most of them would say yes. A lot of (dumb) people still associate short hair on women with homosexuality, hatred of men and a lack of femininity. You would think people would know better in this day and age!

I’ve just mentioned a couple of hair related history snippets, but of course there is a whole lot more to be found for those that are interested. Dreads, the controversy of wearing veils, the business behind buying hair extensions made from Indian hair and different tribes that never cut their hair are all fascinating. If there was a book that just dealt with the history of hair, I would most likely buy it. If there isn’t, dibs on writing it.

Have a lovely evening, everyone!

Some links/sources if you want to read more:

http://abagond.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/black-womens-hair-a-brief-history-1400-1900/

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/jun/05/women-victims-d-day-landings-second-world-war

http://iranian.com/Women/2003/May/Veil/p.html

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womensfitness

Lately, I’ve started exercising a bit more in hopes of getting rid of my dizziness due to low blood pressure and just in general achieving a lifestyle that will decrease my chances of various diseases as I get older. A little exercise is a big thing for me, because I find it tremendously boring. To motivate myself, I’ve tried to find a good routine that I can do from home and some motivational and educational photos and articles relating to exercise.

One thing that bothered me as I looked around was how the media seems to think that it’s more acceptable to show off unrealistically gorgeous, undressed and big breasted models that are toned instead of regular unrealistically gorgeous, undressed, big breasted skinny models. I guess the idea is that the toned models are supposed to be a “healthier” ideal for girls and women and therefore won’t cause as much body issues and is seen as less vain/objectifying…? It’s just the same thing with a different coat of paint. It’s still a woman with body type that a few of us can hope to achieve and puts far too much focus on becoming more attractive to men rather than improving your health, or god forbid, strength. Because don’t even start me on the ridiculous things I’ve heard about women who dare to gain more muscles than what is considered feminine.

In the end it all comes down to representing more body shapes and focusing more on health and sports. I think the obsession with beauty and the fixation on one specific body type is unhealthy for both genders. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be beautiful, but something is clearly wrong when people worry far more about being attractive than their health or excellence. Holley Mangold is a good example of a woman who is physically strong and has excelled in sports but whose looks doesn’t conform to the ideal that is pushed at us, but it’s not her image or anyone that resemblance her that I find in articles about female fitness.

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So that’s my 2 cents. For those of you that are interested, here are two pages that I’ve used to put together my work-out routine.

The 10-minute Fat Blaster.

The Urban Jungle Work-out.

 

On excercise, health and unhealthy fixations.

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