In this gender reader: the ongoing saga of Rokudenashiko’s censored kayak; historical Japanese beauty practices; commentary on the absolute train wreck that is Fifty Shades of Grey, which is literally a fanfic which manages to be even more poorly written than the novel on which it was based and shows a complete lack of understanding of kink–oh, let’s just get started.
Ushijima Bifue. “The Fair Face of Japanese Beauty: Cosmetics for Japanese Women from the Heian Period to Today.” Nippon.com. 31 October 2013.
Brief but detailed article addressing the changing ideas of cosmetics and beauty in Japan from the Heian to the present.
Tomizawa Yōko, a researcher at Pola Research Institute of Beauty and Culture, describes the roots of the affinity for natural-colored white. “The tone the Japanese seek to achieve is not milky white but translucent, like a polished stone. Since the Edo period, women have gone to great pains to achieve this.” Records show that women spent a great deal of time putting on makeup and that cosmetics were geared toward accentuating the natural beauty of the skin. Miyako fūzoku kewaiden, for example, describes how oshiroi should be repeatedly applied and removed and the cheeks rubbed with a towel in order to make the skin look like porcelain.
Davely Schlasko. “How using ‘they’ as a singular pronoun can change the world.” Feministing. 2 Feb. 2015.
The good news is, singular they is not only coming into more common use but also has the potential to help shift the harmful power structure of binary gender. To explain, it helps to go back to another time when what was considered standard usage for pronouns changed — and it had to do with power then, too.
Rokudenashiko and Censorship
Jake Adelstein & Erika Angela Kubo. “What’s Japan’s Problem With Vaginas?” The Daily Beast. 17 Jan. 2015.
Jake Adelstein.”What’s really obscene in Japan? It shouldn’t be the vagina.” Japan Subculture Research Center. 19 Jan. 2015.
On political censorship and Rokudenashiko’s arrest for her vagina kayak. NSFW.
Ed Hooks. “Oscar Ballot Guide: ‘The Tale of The Princess Kaguya’ Acting and Performance Analysis.” Cartoon Brew. 3 Feb. 2015.
Although I haven’t written about it, I loved The Tale of The Princess Kaguya. The rejection of the norms of animation, as well as the themes of freedom and duty in regards to gender and class, were fascinating, and I highly recommend it. Review contains major spoilers.
You’re all horrible, Super Bowl Edition
Stephanie Abraham. “Katy Perry’s Extremely Straight Performance of ‘I Kissed a Girl’ at the Super Bowl.” Bitch Magazine. 2 Feb. 2015.
The performance reiterated the heteronormative message that sexuality should only exist between a male and female, or, if two women do “experiment” with each other, it’s only to satisfy the male gaze. Perry has never been a consistent LGBT ally—though her song “Firework” raised money for the It Gets Better Project, she infuriated many people with her 2008 song “UR So Gay,” a rant about her boyfriend “acting gay.”
Straight people capitalizing on queer women’s sexuality for their personal monetary benefit is disgusting. Why even include this in the Super Bowl, except to pander to the male gaze?
50 Shades of Nope
Speaking of the Super Bowl and the male gaze, that Fifty Shades of Grey ad happened. Honestly, I’m my own one-person version of #FeministBookstoreSaysWhat when it comes to watching Super Bowl ads, or TV in general. (Take me to parties, I’m hilarious.) I’m currently reading The Complainist Reads 50 Shades, and you know what? 50SG is somehow even worse than I thought. It’s not just the failure of depicting BDSM or kink that disturbs me, but the writing is horrifyingly bad. Do yourself a favor with the The Complainist reviews, since Alden actually has writing advice and discussion of how the book could be fixed to make it appealing interspersed with his biting commentary on failing at Americanisms, structure, and consent. Also, as a Seattleite, I find the idea of three unemployed college grads moving to a three-bedroom apartment in the “Pike Market District” (which DOESN’T EXIST) ludicrous. Do you have ANY idea how much rent is in Seattle, E.L. James?
And it’s not just Seattle. E.L. James has no idea how female orgasms work or how they vary, how to negotiate a sex list, how to write women and minorities, or how to construct a sentence. Fifty Shades of Grey reinforces stereotypes about safer sex as less pleasurable, women’s lack of sexual agency, and kink as a result of trauma. This book is affront to the senses, to reason and logic, and to the understanding of human sexual desire; it is not worth the trees cut down to print it nor the electricity used to read it on Kindle.
For a shorter, less(?) painful version, see Mark Oshiro’s reading of the “best-worst parts” on Mark Reads (YouTube). (Apparently, he’s just started reading the whole thing to raise money for his sister’s surgery. Godspeed, Mark.)
Soon Ana is reading another email from CG. This is because Ana literally doesn’t know what to do with herself when CG isn’t around to tell her what to do. Or, rather, EL has given Ana no motivation outside of their relationship, so as soon as she pushes the young lovers apart, she has to keep them emailing each other. Because otherwise, there’s nothing to do. Ana is like the proverbial tree in the forest. If Ana falls down and CG isn’t there to lecture her for not eating enough, did she really fall down? That’s one for the philosophers! (Ch. 22)
Or here, have Shades of A, which is the completely adorable tale of asexual Anwar; his boyfriend Chris, a sub who likes to crossdress; and his best friend JD, a genderqueer, polyamorous dom. This fix-it comic deals with genders and sexualties outside the LG of LGBTQIIA, actual BDSM practices, and features excellent writing, so it’s basically everything that the original isn’t.
Saved by the bell hooks: mashing up Saved by the Bell images and bell hooks quotes.
via Feministing. (for more on Saved by the Bell, see Emily’s Hashimoto’s “Nostalgia Does Not Make “Saved by the Bell” Grow Sweeter” on Bitch Magazine, 18 July 2014.)