I Want You To Like What I Like

I have dated the lead guitar player in a thrash metal band. The cute skateboarder from science class. The DJ who spins and scratches in dark, throbbing clubs. With each of these boyfriends, with each of these dates, music is our common ground — we lay out our cards on the table — “What is your favorite album? Top three? Four?” “Acid Bath changed my life.” “I’ll never forget when I first saw Dio live.” These small intimations — and they are intimations, the most soul-baring sort — are the way we connect. For every band we both like, we fall more in love. For every new band we pass each other’s way, we are more besotten, more charmed.

And yet. Has anyone else felt that it’s always about the boy giving his songs to the girl? Every boyfriend I have ever had has imparted his music onto me. And, being the ravenous consumer I am, I have cherished these bands, collected them, made them (in some way) my own. CKY, Acid Bath, Misfits, The Dwarves, Fair To Midland, Faith No More; these bands were passed onto me from men in my life. They are now integral; I can’t imagine not having them around. Even more cherished are the memories they bring to mind — I cannot listen, for example, to “Horse Pills” by the Dandy Warhols and not think of wine drunk from a grimy water bottle, sitting in a dark car outside some party with someone I was infatuated with years ago.

And yet. I never seem to impart my songs on a man. For there are bands, believe it or not, that I come across on my own. Organically, even. On the radio, sure, or blogs, or by buying a random CD from Best Buy and changing the way I see the world for $9.99 plus tax. Take, for example, the band I hold closest to my heart: Polkadot Cadaver. This is a band that I find particularly brilliant; they have a frenetic Mr. Bungle-esque quality to them that is irresistible. That, coupled with the fact that I discovered them all on my own, makes them my all-time favorite band. (Strong words, those).

However, when I play this band for men in my life, I get muted reactions. No one seems particularly interested in them, and while I don’t really give a shit what people think of my musical tastes, this leads me to think that I must really have bad taste, or, more likely, these guys just don’t care about what I like. They already have their beloved bands, their Neurosis and Megadeth and obscure strictly-underground punk bands.

I’d like to think that maybe I’m completely wrong. That if you lined up my past loves and lovers and questioned them on their musical tastes and memories they associate with songs and songs they associate with memories, they would list bands that I introduced them to, bands that remind them of me, songs and lyrics that bring to mind rainy days spent in bed with me or wild shows that we went to together. Perhaps this isn’t sexism, but merely my inability to know what other people absorb, what other people remember.

Case in point — an ex-boyfriend texted me the other day asking what “that morbid pirate rock band was that you were always listening to?” and then, after I neglected to answer, he replied, “Polkadot Cadaver?”

He was right, and I am glad to be wrong, just this once.

—–

Originally posted here at my failed attempt at a different blog (which I may continue with, with proper encouragement).

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Is It Ever Enough? Notes on Activism

I’m pretty activist-minded. I think that’s something I can point to in my life and say – yes, I’m involved. I’ve written a political blog, I’ve minored in Women’s Studies and now I’m doing x, y, and z.

But how much is enough? What is the right amount of activism? Is there a right way to do things?

You’re probably wondering where this is all coming from. Let’s go back a few months…

I moved into a collective house in September. It’s phenomenal. I have nine housemates, all of whom are respectful and delightful to live with. Each is of varying political awareness and all are environmentally-conscious. As a household, we dumpster roughly half our food, buy the rest of our food collectively from a grocery co-op and our communal meals are strictly vegan.

Our house is also a safe space (for everyone, including queer and trans folks), which means certain kinds of behavior and language are not tolerated. Try telling a misogynistic joke and you’ll definitely get an earful.

For the most part, I’m a fan. I feel like everything I talk about on this blog is now my day-to-day life – I’m living, eating, breathing eco-feminist values among a bunch of other people who are equally committed to that cause.

There are lots of these types of houses in my new neighborhood. These collective houses may rally around different causes, but for the most part their members are all living as sustainably as possible in a non-hierarchal manner.

And yet – there is something that troubles me.

I have noticed that among these houses, and the groups affiliated with members of these houses (ranging from community bike collectives to anarchist organizations) there is a significant disconnect. [Note: For the purposes of this post, let’s refer to all people living in these collective houses/members of these groups as activists.] Some activists seem to value their work over others’. Some think others are not “activist” enough. It’s the same old story – even in a marginalized/subculture of society there is a hierarchy. While it’s unspoken and possibly subconscious, it does exist.

And it’s fucking frustrating.

I’m the new girl in these social settings, so I can only speak to this as an outsider/quiet observer. Yet, it is becoming painfully clear to me that there are different ideas of what is acceptable, what should or shouldn’t be said or done – and these ideas vary from group to group, person to person.

So how can we get anything done collectively? I think one solution is to hold more facilitated meetings as a group. Another solution would be for activists to actively keep in mind that they too can make the mistake of acting oppressively or being close-minded. In fact, when one believes so strongly in a cause and is constantly working towards goals within that cause, one can easily be blind to others’ concerns. However, by being open to listening to other people, and taking a step back and really understanding where others are coming from, we can start to bridge these gaps.

People have asked me lately, “Are you an activist?” When I say “Yes,” they inevitably ask, “What do you do?”

I’ve felt pretty silly saying, “Oh, I have a feminist blog I’ve been neglecting lately.” Surely I do more than that, right?

Most of my political acts lately have been personal. My new living situation is a great example of this. But…how quantifiable is personal activism? Does it count if it only really affects me and the people I live with?

Maybe this is a sign that I need to get more active in bigger projects, with wider-reaching goals and effects. But possibly, too, I should admit to myself that right now I’m taking on a lot (a new job, new house, new friends, paying all my own bills….the list goes on) and finding time to be a “better activist” is damn hard right now.

I will make this commitment, however, to myself and to any readers (past or future) of Rotten Little Girls: for the 34545th time, I promise to actually update this blog. Regularly. Then when people ask me if I’m an activist, I can give them this URL and let them decide for themselves.

Kelly

Stupid Song of the Month: A Kiss With a Fist

A kiss with a fist is better than none.

Really?

….Really?

So, if you listen to the radio, or frequent Youtube or have hipster friends, you’ve heard of this “kewl” new indie-pop band Florence & the Machines. The lead singer, Florence, is the hipster alternative to Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls — full of attitude, frothy floral skirts and tongue-in-cheek lyrics.

Tongue-in-cheek fails to explain, however, their most popular single, “A Kiss With a Fist”. It’s a bright, punchy little number (no pun intended) and like any good pop song, sticks in your head for days on end.

Only problem is, the song promotes domestic violence.

Now, before you roll your eyes and ask me why I constantly get my panties in a bunch over “silly pop songs”, check these lyrics:

“you hit me once
i hit you back
you gave a kick
i gave a slap
you smashed a plate
over my head
then i set fire to our bed

My black eye casts no shadow
your red eye sees no pain
your slaps don’t stick
your kicks don’t hit
so we remain the same
blood sticks and
sweat drips
break the lock if it don’t fit
a kick in the teeth is good for some
a kiss with a fist is better than none
a-woah a kiss with a fist is better than none”

Lovely. Not only does this romanticize violence between partners, it endorses the idea that a little (or a lot) of violence is a-okay as long as you love each other!

Fuck that twisted logic. This highlights the real, insidious issue with domestic violence — so often it persists because one or both of the individuals involved loves the other. Look, I’m no stranger to the idea that those who are closest to you can hurt you the most. But certainly being alone is better than a kiss with a fist.

The problem here is simple:

1) Florence & the Machines is a hipster-chic band rocketing to their first 15 minutes of fame

2) As such, they reach and influence a large, young, potentially impressionable audience

3) The song makes domestic violence seem cool/hip/”not a big deal”/better than nothing

4) And if you haven’t noticed, pop songs and YA fiction (cough, Twilight) and Reality TV stars actually resonate with youth today and influence the way my generation thinks about love, life and happiness

5) That fucking sucks!

Rotten Little Runaways

“Hello world, I’m your wild girl…I’m your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!!”

Does it get any more feminist than an all-female rock band? The Runaways were the first of their kind — a teenaged, all-female, badass band playing in a man’s world. They were consummate “rotten little girls” — they dished out as much shit as they received and for a brief, riotous moment ruled the rock scene like no other band before them.

With the recent film (also named “The Runaways”) starring Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart, the band has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity. Google hits for Joan Jett and Cherie Currie have increased significantly and the Runaways have reached a youthful, modern audience.

This is good thing.

In an industry overflowing with successful male bands, it is important to talk about & celebrate the all-female band that paved the way for bands such as The Go-Go’s and L7, and fuck it, any little girl who picks up an electric guitar.

The film itself, unfortunately, leaves much to be desired. The cinematography is lovely & at times reaches the level of fine art. The acting, at least on Kristen Stewart and Michael Shannon’s part, ranges from believable to brilliant. However, the plot & character development leaves something to be desired.

The Runaways is (mild spoiler alert) your typical, cliche band biopic. Fledgling band faces many obstacles. Lead guitarist stumbles upon famous band manager, inexplicably gaining their attention and respect in the process. Questionably talented singer is recruited to the band based on sex appeal. Band gets signed. Lead singer becomes a diva & acquires a nasty drug habit. Band members get mad at each other. Lead singer leaves band. Band breaks up. The end.

It should be noted that this movie is based off of lead singer Cherie Currie’s ghost-written memoir “Neon Angel.” Therefore, Cherie Currie is the focus of the film. So, while Joan Jett might be the most famous character of the Runaways, audiences might be disappointed to find out that she is, at best, a secondary character. While I believe that Stewart plays a mean Joan Jett, she is reduced to two emotions: youthful, anti-authority rage and tender understanding (generally directed towards Cherie, played by Dakota Fanning).

Dakota Fanning, who is admittedly in the midst of awkward adolescence, fails to give Currie the spark & charisma she truly possessed. Viewers are left wondering why Currie was accepted to the band in the first place. It is not entirely Fanning’s fault — the script is weak, and we are thrown random tidbits of pop psychology as reasoning for Fanning’s drug problems: alcoholic dad, jealous twin sister, neglectful mother. However, the movie fails to explore who Currie truly was, how she really felt about her family and her band-mates, and how exactly she got mixed up in all of this.

The feminist message is relatively strong through-out the movie — but there are several factors that weaken the overall “girl’s rock!” sentiment.

First, the band is managed by domineering, sadistic, and eccentric Kim Fowley (who is male). While his methodology was questionable, it produced results. That being said, there is something contradictory about an all-female band relying on a white male to make something of themselves. And, according to this movie, if not for Fowley, the Runaways would not have enjoyed even the slightest bit of success.

Second, there is the fact that Cherie Currie was hand-picked as lead singer based on her Bardot-meets-Bowie good looks. Feathered blonde hair, lingerie on stage, jail-bait sex appeal (she was 15 when she joined the band) — let’s face it, Currie epitomized the concept of “sex sells.” Unfortunately, this begs the question: can a girl band succeed without a “sexy girl”? Granted, if you look at pictures of the band, you’ll see that Joan Jett, despite her tough girl attitude and appearance, oozed sex appeal like no other. So, while this is an element of the film that I did not find very pro-feminist, I have to admit that Cherie’s blonde tresses could not have been the band’s only appeal.

Finally, there is the focus on the alleged lesbian affair between Jett and Currie. Although Currie has admitted that she only vaguely mentions hooking up with Jett in a brief paragraph in her book, Hollywood took that sentiment and ran with it. In a movie that doesn’t have much substance besides wardrobe and good motherfucking music, the lesbian scenes take up significant chunks of time. There is sexual tension throughout the film between Jett and Currie, and then there’s the actual kissing scene…and the morning after scene…and the ensuing drama that implies a deeper, romantic relationship between the two.

This would all be fine if it were a) true, b) based on fact or substantial information from Currie’s book c) not so obviously added for the titillation of straight, male audiences. Hollywood is at it again — forcing false lesbianism between two pretty, white females down audiences throats for the purpose of making a movie starring strong women palatable to a mainstream audience. Because, you know, the awesome story of Joan Jett and the Runaways and Cherie Currie wasn’t enough on its own.

And, perhaps most telling, is the fact that the three other band mates are routinely ignored as playing any major role in the band’s development or success (Lita Ford being the most obvious omission). The drummer, Sandy West, enjoys some mention as Jett’s lovable, pot-smoking sidekick but Lita Ford and Jackie Fox’s characters have literally three lines of speech — I’m being generous with that estimate.

If this were really about the band, and the music, and the awe-inspiring success of the first all-female teenaged rock band, wouldn’t all the members of the band be the stars? Wouldn’t the story focus on the band’s obstacles and successes rather than the lesbian “affair” between Jett and Currie? It is this glaring omission that leads me to think that this is just another pre-packaged Hollywood confection.

The story is one that needed to be told. The characters are rich. The history is true. The music is terrific. And yet, I’m disappointed. We need more films about the Runaways, about all-girl bands, about feminism and being an individual in a world that pressures us to conform — and, as much as I wanted to love it, “The Runaways” is not that film. It’s a step in the right direction, but it does not do the Runaways — or rotten little girls — justice.

—-

Here are some great clips from the movie & from live performances by the real Runaways. Enjoy!


“Publicize the music — not your crotch!!”


“I like your style. A little Bowie, a little Bardot, and a look on your face that says I could kick the shit out of a truck driver.”

Please weigh in — did you like the movie? Hate it? Let us know!

Addicted to Tanning

I have a gorgeous friend — let’s call her Emma — who always has a perfect tan. It’s never too orange, always very natural looking, and she maintains it so meticulously that you’d never question it — even in the dead of winter!

I just assumed that Emma used some sort of spray tan until she finally confessed to me that she sometimes uses tanning beds. “Sometimes” would maybe be okay, but since she has regular appointments, that “sometimes” multiples into “often” pretty quickly.

We all know by now (or should) that tanning beds and excessive sun-bathing can cause melanoma, or skin cancer. Despite this common knowledge, scientists have reported that,

“melanoma rates have increased by 2 percent in the general population …Amongst young women, who make up 71 percent of tanning salon customers, incidents of melanoma have increased by 2.2 percent…[in recent years] skin cancer also became the most common form of cancer for Americans ages 25-29, a group that traditionally shows very low cancer rates.”

If that doesn’t distress you, it should. Young women (Rotten Little Girls included!) are the most at-risk group — as a demographic group we are the most likely to tan using unhealthy methods such as tanning beds, and we are also the most susceptible to advertising aimed at — oh yeah — our body image issues.

To my mind, we cannot simply point the finger at young women like Emma and say “oh you shouldn’t be so shallow,” or “why are you wasting your money and health just to look tan?” There is a larger societal issue at hand here. Why are many young women so fixated on tanning? Could it possibly be because of social conditioning? Hmmm…

In our society, young women are the targets of countless advertising and other messages that repeat the same mantra: “Become beautiful or no one will value you.” Tanning beds are one way in which young women can attempt to attain the beauty ideal (just look at Barbie if you wonder what that ideal is!)

What is truly sad is that tanning causes cancer. And, just like smoking (another nasty habit that young women continue to engage in, despite widely acknowledge health risks) tanning is addictive. For girls like Emma, maintaining a tan can become an obsession — if you skip a tanning appointment, your “fake” skin tone can become obvious to those around you…and in a post-Jersey Shore world, one must avoid being one of those girls who fake-tans…not because it can cause cancer, mind you, but because it’s simply “uncool.”

This might sound trite, but shouldn’t cancer be uncool?

The Arizona Situation

I don’t know enough about this Arizona situation to comment on it too confidently. I will say, however, my gut reaction: this shit sucks.

So, we already have the beginning of a police state (carrying your papers with you everywhere…uh….1984?) coupled with the fact that this legislation screams (literally…) racial profiling.

And now — now, we have this new proposed legislation:

Buoyed by recent public opinion polls suggesting they’re on the right track with illegal immigration, Arizona Republicans will likely introduce legislation this fall that would deny birth certificates to children born in Arizona – and thus American citizens according to the U.S. Constitution – to parents who are not legal U.S. citizens.

This proposed legislation is being spearheaded by Republican douchebro Senator Russell Pearce — you know, the guy behind Senate Bill 1070.

Opposition includes “Phoenix resident Susan Vie, who is leading a citizen group that’s behind an opposing ballot initiative. She moved to the U.S. 30 years ago from Argentina, became a naturalized citizen and now works as a client-relations representative for a vaccine company. “I see a lot of hate and racism behind it,” Vie says. “Consequently, I believe it will create – and it’s creating it now – a separation in our society.” She adds, “When people look at me, they will think, ‘Is she legal or illegal?’ I can already feel it right now.”

Vie’s citizen initiative would prohibit SB 1070 from taking affect, place a three-year moratorium on all related laws – including the anchor baby bill – to buy more time for federal immigration reform. Her group is racing to collect 153,365 signatures by July 1 to qualify for the Nov. 2 general election.”

My only other hope is that the Supreme Court will find this legislation (should it pass) to be unconstitutional.

Do any Arizona residents (or anyone really!) have more information or a personal opinion they want to share? Please leave a comment below!

More Information about Senate Bill 1070:
Senate Fact Sheet
Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration (NY Times)

To Kindle or Not to Kindle, That is the Question

It’s small, compact and portable. You can dress it up in pink suede or fake croc-skin, depending on your mood, style or budget. No, it’s not an iPhone, or even an iPad…it’s an electronic book reader. Forget those dusty library bookshelves, the Kindle is the new way to read.

Understandably, bibliophiles everywhere are up in arms over this advance in technology. In the electronic age, are books (and newspapers and magazines for that matter) becoming out-dated? Does the invention of the Kindle signal a renewed interest in reading – or is it the death knell of the book publishing industry? These are just some of the questions people are asking.

I don’t have any answers, but here are some of my thoughts on the issue. Growing up I was known as a bookworm. I would consume entire books in single sittings, and my mom would get annoyed when I carted at least four books with me wherever we went. Not only do I have a particular soft spot for the written word, but I love the feel of a book in my hands and the way an old book smells when you hold it close to your face. I love browsing the library racks for hours, selecting books to take home and curl up with all night. So for me the thought of using some little electronic device instead of cracking open a book seems like blasphemy!

I do see some upsides – less trees being used (although making an electronic device isn’t good either, when you consider the water and energy wasted in its production). It is pretty convenient to carry around numerous books at once without the extra weight in your bag – but then again, who really carries more than one or two books at a time? I guess for traveling, however, that is a particularly useful feature.

Downsides might include having to charge the darn thing and — any Kindle users out there? — it seems like it might hurt your eyes after a long period of time.

Does anyone have a Kindle? What do you think of it? Do you hate the very idea of giving up books? Let us know!

I Can Smell the Haterade on Howard Stern’s Breath…and it Stinks

What do you think about Howard Stern’s comments about Precious star Gabourey Sidibe? It is highly unlikely that she will have a very long Hollywood career due to the body-image obsession that is inherent in the entertainment business. However, did he have to put it so rudely? I’m a fan of being blunt, but I think that Stern (his reputation as a shock jock aside) could have picked his words better.

He called her, “the most enormous, fat black chick I’ve ever seen … You feel bad because everyone pretends that she’s part of show business and she’s never going to be in another movie,” Stern added.

“What movie is she going to be in? ‘Blind Side 2,’ she could be the football player.”

Howard accused Oprah Winfrey, who introduced Sidibe at the Oscars when the best actress nominees were announced, of lying to Sidibe.

“When we look at you,” Winfrey told the 26-year-old from the Oscars stage, “we see a true, American Cinderella who’s on the threshold of a brilliant new career.”

Stern disagreed. “She told an enormous woman the size of a planet that she’s going to have a career,” he said during his broadcast. “Oprah should’ve said, ‘you need to get help, we don’t want to lose you.’ ”

For Stern, Sidibe’s size is not just a problem for her career, but her health as well.

“You just want to say to her, listen, honey, now that you’ve got a little money in the bank go get yourself thin, because you’re going to die in three years,” he said.”

There is a lot going on here that’s just plain moronic:

1) She’s a large person, and yes, obesity has its health risks. Does Stern really think Sidibe doesn’t know this? Until he gets his medical license perhaps he should stick to talking about tits and ass – those are the only anatomical features Stern knows two shits about.

2) He says she is an “enormous, fat black chick.” Uhh, why does her race matter in this case? If Stern was just worried about her health (as he claims), this shouldn’t even be a factor.

3) Proposing that she play a football player in Blind Side 2 is a pretty funny joke…if you’re a 14 year old. Which, judging by Stern’s show, he very well might be.

4) Sidibe is definitely not the size of a planet, but Stern’s ego sure is.

5) Finally, why does this guy have to rain on her parade? It comes off as offensive, insensitive, and condescending – but worst of all, it’s an adult male in a position of power making fun of a 20-something young woman who has just been thrust into the spotlight for the first time in her life. She has been the epitome of grace and confidence thus far and she doesn’t need arrogant assholes like Howard Stern running their mouth.

That’s about all I have to say about it. Your thoughts?