- The radical, romantic female gaze of Outlander – This fabulous essay by Jodi McAllister celebrates how the Outlander miniseries on Starz centers the female gaze and the desire of women who are attracted to men.
In her famous 1973 essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, Laura Mulvey argues that on the screen, women are regularly represented as ‘the image’ while men are the ‘bearer of the look’: that is, men look, while women are looked at. She contends that this gaze exists at three levels – the gaze of the characters, the gaze of the camera, and the gaze of the audience – and that all three levels are dominated by heterosexual men.
This is not the case in Outlander. The dominant gaze within the show is that of heroine Claire (Caitriona Balfe), a married English war nurse from 1945 who finds herself swept back in time to 1743 Scotland. The series is adapted by from a 1991 first person novel by Diana Gabaldon, and, unlike in other first person novel-to-screen adaptations, such as True Blood, this first person conceit is largely maintained. Claire’s experiences are the centre of the narrative. It is through her female eyes that we view the story and the world around her.
- On Lena Dunham and Consent – Unless you live under a rock (lucky you!), you’ve probably heard about Dunham’s memoir where she recounts disturbing sexual behavior toward her younger sister. Melissa McEwan talks about how it’s Dunham’s present actions that concern her.
A lot of the public discussion around this has centered around whether the acts themselves were sexual abuse, and I certainly have thoughts on that, and what was going on with her parents, and I certainly have thoughts on that, too, but I’m not inclined to engage in remote psychoanalysis of Dunham, or her family, to try to understand the context in which these acts happened. (I’m also not inclined to define Dunham’s sister’s, or anyone else’s, experiences for them.) I’m more concerned at the moment with Dunham’s decision to publish them, and what that says about her respect for consent and agency right now.
- Keeping Sex Workers Quiet – Any time sex workers ask to be able to freely do their jobs in safety, someone will ask, “What about sex trafficking?” This article talks about how it’s a silencing tactic, one that keeps women at risk.
The introduction of trafficking victims is a way of saying to sex workers, “Here is your chance to play Madonna, you whore.” Those who comply must cannibalize their own assertions that sex work is legitimate labor by apologizing for the scourge of trafficking. Those who do not comply are punished as self-interested creatures whose femininity has been disfigured by the depravity of their trade.
Just as opponents of reproductive self-determination rely heavily on the images of babies murdered by their mothers in an attempt to shame women seeking abortions, those that oppose sex work use the specter of trafficked young women to condemn any movement seeking to decriminalize sexual labor.
- Mallory Ortberg: ‘If men show up that’s great, but we don’t need them’ – I know we’re supposed to be shunning the Guardian, but I really enjoyed this interview. The abortion part is so true.
What makes the Toast different from other sites and how does it specifically speak to women?
Our attitude has always been if men show up, that’s great, but we don’t need them. I was really surprised to find that 30-35% of our readers are male, because as anyone who has read the site would know, we do not actively try to cultivate a male fanbase. But they’re there, which is delightful because they’re very well-behaved and polite.
There’s no specific mission statement for the Toast. It’s defined by what Nicole and I think is funny or worth talking about. It’s just the two of us, which allows the freedom to write about whatever we like. One thing that’s different about us is that we are a website for and about women that’s owned by women. We’re not under a male-owned media company, and we don’t have male bosses. We have a stake in every aspect of our business.
- Accessible Star Wars lets disabled feel the force – This BBC video showed what looked like a really fun fan con that everyone could enjoy.
A Star Wars sci-fi convention has been set up for people with disabilities. Feel the Force Day was set up so that as many people as possible could access and experience Star Wars.
Co-founder JJ Lucia-Wright was inspired to help organise the event after spending the past 10 years teaching a friend who is deaf and blind about the films.
People attending were encouraged to stroke a Wookiee, sniff the scent of the Millennium Falcon and hug Princess Leia.
- My Stepfather, The Peeping Tom – This story about a woman whose step-father peeped on her when she was a teenager illustrates how hurtful it is to pressure someone to forgive their abuser.
It’s controversial to call what happened between my stepfather and I “sexual abuse”; at least in my family it has been. His crime was peeping. He took advantage of the gaping keyholes in doors of our aged New England home; he availed himself of the chips in the doorjambs that created a tiny space for an eye to peek through. He improved upon the house’s ramshackle nicks and dents, digging his own tunnels into the bathroom door, into the walls of my bedroom. How do I know this? Careful investigation.