philosophy

Eye Spy Spy Clothing!

emmapeel-alamodest-spy

What better femme fatale to feature for spy clothing than Emma Peel from the 1960s TV show The Avengers! Contrary to what most people think about the good ole’ days though, there were a lot of risque and scandalous clothing before now. The Avengers was not at all what you’d call sexploitation, but it was around the time when women unilaterally didn’t get all up and arms about women’s rights and equality. That was up until the women’s liberation movement of second wave feminism came along in the late 60s and early 70s. Before all that, men easily got away with using women’s bodies to sell movies and to make women believe that their powers reside in their sexuality. Women have brains as much as breasts, muscles as much as… men-struation? Yes, oh so sexy.

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Woman of a Thousand Faces

eleanorparker1

Fifties actress Eleanor Parker, most known for her role in The Sound of Music as the baroness, was praised for her on-screen versatility and was rightfully dubbed “Woman of a Thousand Faces” by her biographer Doug McClelland. Look through the photos of her in each of these collages… amazing!

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War on Women: What Would Women Do?

So Superstorm Sandy (newscasters should’ve just continued referring to it as “Frankenstorm!”) is almost over, and election campaigning will soon be back on track. (Not to gloss over Sandy—my thoughts and prayers go out to those who were in its path and were hurt or negatively affected by it.) How do you all feel about the phrase “war on women” being tossed around? Do you feel that politicians might just be using this idea as bait to get more women voters? If you consider yourself a well-informed feminist, would you vote for a candidate primarily based on social, economic, or foreign policy issues?

I personally do not like politics for politics sake, and to use my gender as a weapon for campaigning sickens me the worst. First of all, women are part of the collective human race—the same goes for every ethnic background. To decline a person from being chosen for employment primarily based on gender or race is unjust. On the flip side, to promote a person primarily based on their gender or race is also unjust. Considering that, how do you think women are being attacked from an economic standpoint—that is, if you even believe this discrimination still exists in our country?

The second reason why I hate the appeals toward women as part of a political campaign is that I care about mostly the same things men care or should care about when choosing a presidential candidate. To say anything else would be categorizing me as a separate entity not equal to men. As a woman, I should care about the economy for the future of my children and theirs as much as my husband cares about the economy to support his immediate family. To lure me in with women-only ads belittles my intelligence, leading me to believe you think this is the only—if not the primary arena I’m concerned with. For instance, these ads say that abortion is a women’s-only issue. When has it been possible to conceive without a man (or his seed) involved?

Why is it that Planned Parenthood seems to be the only place they make you think you can get affordable “women’s services,” excluding abortion? I don’t use them, but I was able to get my BCPs for $9/mo (with no insurance)! Now that I have good insurance that my husband and I picked out, I get them for free. That’s about the same deal as Planned Parenthood, if not better.

My dear fellow women, I do not need to tell you what you must do. All I want to warn you is that your world should not be limited to what they show you in a political ad. Some politicians will bait you by scaring you, making you mad, or making you feel like a victim. That is because these politicians rely on our estrogen-fueled emotions, and you need to prove that you can be as logical as men when making rational decisions. That kind of thinking, as well as our abilities, should determine our employment and our salaries—not because we are women. If your being hired is just because of your gender (or race), then you are merely part of a quota that needed to be filled.

My husband and I are not employed, but we are now proud small business owners—thank God for capitalism! Part of the reason why we felt a need to start a business together was because of his having been laid off by his job. Some of the people who weren’t laid off were arguably less qualified, but they were also definitely minorities. Maybe the company should’ve taken note that he was married to a then-jobless student minority before laying him off. I don’t need the government to make special arrangements to force employers to hire me even if I am a slacker or somehow less qualified than other applicants. I hope you get my point, despite my harsh tone.

Some time ago, during the height of my involvement with college, I used to buy into Marxist ideals. I have to say, they were always just ideals and never a plausible reality to me. Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom won me over. It is scary to see an America unfolding into a communist country, without the majority of its people even realizing it. A tactful politician can mask the ugliest thing you can think of and make you eat it up like cake.

I think the only war on women that exists (at least in the coming election) is the way that politicians make you think there is one and use it to their advantage. It’s like somebody’s trying to hypnotize us by waving pretty pearl necklaces in our faces, distracting us from all other issues and covering up huge past and pres(id)ent blunders.

You might not believe me if I say that I am not writing this politically to support a specific candidate. You’re partially right. I do know who I want to win (and so should you by now, being so close to election day). However, writing for women and as a woman, I want to preserve the integrity of our women as much as I can by telling you not to vote for a candidate because of our women’s issues. Our issues may be very important, but wise people (and even crafty terrorists like Bin Laden) know that to destroy a nation’s economy is to destroy a nation completely.

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Cindy’s Centerfolds

Cindy Sherman is an American photographer who is currently based in New York and whose most famous work involves conceptual photography. Besides her multiple-persona-style-type self portraits in all their glorious absurdness, I like her best for her centerfold photography. No, I haven’t gone out of my mind.

Sherman is perhaps most noted for her Centerfold Series from 1981.  Without leaving any metallic taste in her mouth, the irony in portraying her fully dressed body (as if showing the aftermath of being raped)  in centerfold speaks volumes.

“In content I wanted a man opening up the magazine to suddenly look at it with an expectation of something lascivious and then feel like the violator that they would be. Looking at this woman who is perhaps a victim. I didn’t think of them as victims at the time… But I suppose… Obviously I’m trying to make someone feel bad for having a certain expectation.” – Cindy Sherman

Above is the photo of Cindy’s that caught my eye first. It also happens to be the most expensive photograph in the world—it sold for $3,890,500 at a Christie’s auction. You know what? Modesty is money… or gold… whatever sounds better.

If you plan on looking at Sherman’s other series, I must warn you that some of them are not for the faint of heart. The sexuality series might be a bit offensive to some, so if you want to spare your eyes from Christmas on Mars type of images (I’m sure there is a better movie to explain this, but I really am not into genitalia art), I’d stay away from that particular one. I must say, I must applaud her for this very bold and clever endeavor. Although she doesn’t consider herself a feminist or a spiritual person (as far as I know), I find her advancement against women’s objectivity attractive.

The other day I was flipping through (sealed) vintage magazines of all kinds at our local vintage treasure trove, and it’s incredible to see how drastically different the pre-war Playboy magazine covers were in comparison to today’s. I saw nothing but somewhat modest clothes on the cover (of course, that is always subjective). I really hate to think about what adult entertainment is going to be like in the future. “Adult” is just a euphemism used by the sex industry to justify what kind of audience X-rated material is intended for—that’s most of us I presume. Child pornography then is a euphemistic oxymoron (with emphasis on the second half of the latter word).

I didn’t realize how strongly didactic photography could be until Sherman came along. The trendier, flashier, and more digital photography has become, the more it has begun to leave a bad taste in my mouth. For me, photography has to be more than just the irony of capturing the still “beauty” of life while manipulating it, or enhancing reality to make it attractive to an agreeable majority. Truth be told, we are all guilty of distorting our own realities, of wanting to make ourselves or anything that reflects us better than our actual selves. When does it become unhealthy or even just plain commercial? I think that if your goals are noble and truly (not in an amoral sense) benefit more than just yourself (like in Sherman’s case), then a different projection of yourself is justifiably art in action.

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Mothers of the Same Fate: Plath & Sexton

Well, I’ve disappeared again. It seems like I have been opening my posts with the same “apology” (almost as pathetic as Qwikster), but I’ve learned so much while I was away. I have been burying myself in tons of life-shaking literature that I couldn’t get away from, and I’m happy to share with you what I have picked up.

I withdrew myself some time ago from continuing  to read the Bell Jar, a semi-autobiography by Sylvia Plath, because it hurt me so darn much to read it. It was like revisiting my nightmares—nightmares that more often than not creep into my waking life and torment me. Some people can read a piece of literature for the sheer enjoyment of it, observing a fictional account of a life from a distance. This novel in particular, however, grabbed a familiar, stale knife from my quiet kitchen and insidiously stabbed me with it. It is a funny feeling, however, to want it but at the same time hate it. Plath is like crack to my brain, but I’m making the best out of my experience with her writing by using this whole personal attraction to tragedy for good.

It was just recently that I was introduced more formally to Plath’s friend Anne Sexton. Sylvia and Anne were both literature classmates, confessional feminist poets of the late 50s to early 60s,  mothers of two children, and sadly, victims of the same tragic fate. For the style enthusiasts, Sylvia was a guest editor in 1953 at a prestigious fashion magazine called Mademoiselle (later bought by Glamour‘s publishing company, Condé Nas), and Anne was a model for a time. For those unfamiliar with either Plath or Sexton’s work,  the themes of their poetry revolve around death or suicide, madness, hate or  anger, and depression. It was interesting to read a particular poem from each woman centered on the joy of having children.

Plath wrote a poem called “Child” that may have been about her son Nicholas or daughter Frieda, while Sexton wrote “Little Girl, My String Bean, My Lovely Woman” about her daughter Linda. These two poems are not only similar in topic—they are also surprisingly off-theme and mostly delightful. We’ve all heard people sometimes say that children are glue to a troubled marriage. In this situation, for a short but significant time, children helped alleviate these women’s insanity. How marvelous was it that even for a moment in time, these women felt immense joy in their children despite their concurrent turmoil? It’s beautiful. Sadly, the women did not endure their hardships. Sylvia still separated from her husband, and she and Anne still eventually gassed themselves to death. Even when Sylvia “protected” her children from the gas by keeping them in another secure room, her protection only lasted for so long. Her children grew up not having the comfort of a mother and not having a good example to live (or die) by. Eventually, her son committed suicide himself in 2009, and her daughter got divorced three times. The mistress that Sylvia’s husband was with also took her life along with her child a few years after Sylvia died.

You can call these occurrences a genetic disorder or a venomous curse—you decide. What I was more interested in hearing about is how children can affect someone’s life—in a marriage situation or not. Do you have children or plan to have them? Why or why not? How have children changed your perspective in life when times were rough?

If you’re contemplating about suicide, please contact me or get some help from a friend or a professional. If you’d like to blog about your suicidal experience and triumph, it’d be great if you could participate here.

Blogging For Suicide Prevention Badge

USC’s MSW Programs Blog Day.
Blogging For Suicide Prevention Badge

USC’s MSW Programs Blog Day.

 

 

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Dealing with Defeat & My Struggles with the Good Fight

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with my college final project, but I just thought that was an appropriate graphic to accompany this post.

It’s seems so tragic to think that a lot of us women view beauty as our crown of glory—the thing that dictates our sense of value and worth. It’s interesting to think that even the most beautiful women feel insecure because they know that their beauty doesn’t last forever and is also surrounded by constant competition. Even when beauty is said to be subjective, you can’t deny the fact that the majority of people can come to a consensus as to what is beautiful and what is not. There comes a point when you’re just hit by reality, when mantras and self-help books stop uplifting your spirits, and you’re left feeling helpless, defeated by the world, and devoid of worth.

This is the kind of feeling I’ve been struggling with my whole life, and not surprisingly, many others go through the same thing. I’ve gotten a lot better since my teenage years. Wearing sexy clothes and involving myself in the beach and clubbing culture helped my self-esteem temporarily, but it also made me feel like I was only going to be happy if I were sought after for my appearance. I was rather spoiled by it. I got so used to getting compliments about my appearance that if I didn’t get any, I’d feel extremely unhappy. I got compliments left and right from different men, but I only really wanted to be truly appreciated by one.

When I got married, there began the switch in my priorities. I only wanted to please one man, and compliments from others stopped mattering. I used to bathe in and revisit the moments when other people praised me, but I am not that kind of person anymore. I don’t even really feel good about some other guy clearly expressing his approval of me even publicly and in front of my husband, which has happened a few times.

Because my source for my sense of worth has been consolidated to getting the approval of only one man, I get shattered by the fact that my husband still gets tempted by images of other women regardless of how giving I am and how much I keep up with my appearance. I sometimes reminisce about the times I used to wear sexy clothes with a group of girls when we went out or the times that I used to dance hula, which lasted for two years, all to make myself feel better (or worse), however temporarily—when I feel like I’m not good enough for my husband. Those things just never do it. They just help to keep my mind away from issues for a while, but they don’t really alter my mind for the better.

The sad reality is that everyone gets tempted regardless of how good they have it with their spouses or any other type of relationship. Some give in a little and then hold back, and some give in more and more and do not hold back. To hold back at all from temptation is a good thing. Just because temptation creeps up, it doesn’t mean the person experiencing it has done something unworthy of forgiveness and trust. However, I’ve held myself up to an impossible standard, a Utopian dream that was never meant to be and could never be a reality—a world virtually without sin, especially within my home. Even God would laugh at me for thinking that this is possible.

It’s extremely hard for me to keep writing about modesty and sexual purity with my defeatist and existentialist tendencies. The automatic response for me when I get faced with the overwhelming display of sexuality all around is my wishing to be dead or to just completely give in to sin. Neither of those thoughts are healthy or helpful in any way. I really can’t help feeling so downtrodden when I know there’s really nothing I can do to stop everything that is wrong in this world. It’s just not possible to completely eradicate everything that is bad, and I certainly shouldn’t feel defeated if I can’t stop an impossible thing. I shouldn’t feel like the whole world’s burden is on me or feel like I am somewhat responsible for cleaning up the mess. This seems to happen when God is taken out of the “moral” picture, which is a dangerous thing, because that can never work. That also doesn’t mean, however, that I shouldn’t try to change the things that can be changed—myself for instance, or a few people who might be open to change. I guess that’s why this blog has stuck around.

 “A utopia is a dystopia forced upon you by a madman.
– Sam J. Lundwall, from Utopia – Dystopia: Nedslag i framtidens politiska historia

 

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