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m u s i n g s 
 of a young feminist on culture, media and feminism

v o l u m e 
 o n e 
 i s s u e 
 o n e 
 s p r i n g 
 2 0 0 9 



HOLDING
US
DOWN
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3
 
 Thoughts
on
Aguilera’s
Hypocritical
Video
for
‘Can’t
Hold
Us
Down’
 GAZING
AT
THE
READER
 
 
 
 
 
 The
Gaze
and
Gendered
Power
in
the
Film



5


CONCERNING
VIRGINIA
WOOLF
 
 
 
 Thoughts
on
A
Room
of
One’s
Own



7


SAY
WHAT
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 The
Pope’s
Absurd
Claim
about
Condom
Use
in
Africa
 
 &
Thoughts
On
Christianity
and
Feminism
 
 THE
UNDESERVING
MILLIONAIRE
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 A
Critical
Look
at
the
Award‐Winning
Film
Slumdog
Millionaire
 
 FLY
TUNES
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Feminist
and
Alternative
Music
That’s
Worth
Trying
to
Find
 
 TEN
THINGS…
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 That
I
Want
to
See
End



9


ART
WITH
BALLS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Works
of
Female
Artists
That
I
Want
to
See
More
Of


17


11
 13
 15



H O L D I N G 
 I
recently
saw
again
the
video
for
Christina
Aguilera’s
 ‘Can’t
Hold
Us
Down’.
The
song
appeared
on
her
album
 Stripped
(mmm,
classy)
and
in
itself,
is
a
nice
sort
of
gesture
 of
repenting
for
the
song
‘Dirrty’
(enough
said),
off
the
 same
album.
 I
have
no
problem
with
the
song.
Though
many
of
 Aguilera’s
other
songs
(particularly
those
from
the
 aforementioned
album)
are
demeaning
to
women
and
 enforce
the
hegemonic
system
of
male
dominance,
‘Can’t
 Hold
Us
Down’
doesn’t
bother
me.
 What
upsets
me
is
the
music
video.
 It
seems
Christina
couldn’t
quite
escape
the
iron‐grip
of
 her
male
producers,
because
as
much
as
the
lyrics
stand
up
 to
assert
women’s
rights
and
defy
the
hegemonic
system,
 the
music
video
wearily
melts
into
a
La‐Z‐Boy
and
enjoys
 what
is
essentially
yet
another
tasteless
demonstration
of
 the
female
body
as
a
meaningless
object
for
male
pleasure.



U S 
 D O W N Watching
the
video,
I
became
mildly
outraged
at
the
sheer
hypocrisy
of
it
 all!
I
honestly
cannot
believe
that
the
message
the
video
conveys
to
the
 audience
is
the
message
Aguilera
intended
to
convey
when
she
wrote
the
 song.
In
the
video,
it
seems
that
Aguilera
and
Lil’Kim
are
nostalgically
re‐ living
their
Lady
Marmalade
days
(voulez‐vous
couchez
avec
moi?)
rather
 than
belting
out
a
strong‐minded
feminist
tune.
I
cannot
believe
that
 Aguilera
would’ve
consented
to
the
making
of
this
video,
seriously
 convinced
that
it
would
prove
the
song’s
point.

 Clearly
it
does
the
opposite
of
that.
 How
could
it
not?
Christina,
along
with
all
the
other
girls
in
the
video,
 sport
booty‐shorts
and
barely‐there
tops,
or
bikinis,
while
gyrating
and
 body‐popping
on
the
street.
Is
this
the
way
to
assert
oneself
as
an
 independent,
powerful
woman—humping
a
fire‐hydrant
hose
in
very
little
 clothing?
I’d
rather
be
subordinate.
 Is
it
really
the
case
that
in
order
to
be
successful
in
the
mainstream
 music
industry,
one
has
to
off‐set
a
feminist
song
with
a
racy
and
raunchy,
 objectifying
video,
stripping
the
original
song
of
all
its
meaning?
Christina,
 I
guess
this
is
how
the
target
fires
back.



4



GAZING
AT
THE
READER
 When
I
first
saw
The
Reader
a
few
months
ago,
I
immediately
became
interested
in
how
The
 Gaze
plays
out
in
the
film.
The
film
chronicles
Michael
Berg’s
coming‐of‐age,
and
how
he
deals
 with
the
guilt
he
feels
for
loving
Hanna
Schmitz,
and
his
feelings
of
being
responsible
for
her.
 In
the
first
few
scenes
where
the
two
are
together,
we
see
things
from
Michael’s
perspective.

 Hanna
is
passive,
as
Michael
watches
her
while
she
is
unaware,
first
at
her
place
of
work,
and
 then
around
her
apartment.
While
possessing
The
Gaze,
Michael
is
clearly
more
powerful
than
 Hanna.
The
audience
watches
Michael,
watching
Hanna,
who
is
clearly
a
passive,
rather
 powerless
figure.
 The
major
shift
occurs
in
an
early
scene,
wherein
Hanna
significantly
returns
The
Gaze,
and
the
 power
in
the
relationship
is
transferred
to
her.
Michael
is
watching
Hanna,
who
is
getting
ready
 for
work
and
doesn’t
realize
that
Michael,
who
is
out
of
the
room,
can
see
her.
In
this
scene,
 Hanna
is
perhaps
at
her
most
passive
and
vulnerable.
She
is
changing,
putting
on
pantyhose
 (Michael,
fascinated,
is
watching
her
smoothly
roll
up
her
stocking)
when
she
senses
him
 watching
her,
and
looks
at
him,
returning
The
Gaze.
 Shocked
and
ashamed,
Michael
immediately
flees
the
scene
in
terror.
From
this
point
on,
Hanna
is
 entirely
in
control
of
the
relationship,
and
wields
power
over
Michael.
The
change
becomes
 obvious
instantly.
The
audience
is
revealed
to
Hanna’s
perspective,
and
we
witness
she
gazing
at
 him.
In
fact,
the
first
time
we
witness
her
watching
him,
he
is
intimately
passive.
He
is
naked,
and
 Hanna
breaks
her
promise
of
not
sneaking
a
peak,
in
looking
at
him.
This
act
of
gazing
at
the
 passive
and
vulnerable
Michael
signifies
Hanna
triumphantly
obtaining
The
Gaze,
and
therefore
the
 power
in
the
relationship.




t h e 
 g a z e 
 a n d 
 g e n d e r e d 
 
 p o w e r 
 i n 
 t h e 
 f i l m 
 Hanna
continues
to
exercise
her
power
over
Michael
throughout
the
film.

She
makes
the
bold
 first
move,
she
is
older
than
him,
she
gets
angry
at
him,
she
sets
limits
on
the
relationship,
she
 decides
their
itinerary,
he
falls
deeply
in
love
with
her,
and
ultimately
she
spontaneously
leaves
 him,
becoming
the
burden
 that
he
will
carry
with
him
 the
rest
of
his
life.
 In
this
sense,
The
Reader
 contrasts
most
films.
It
is
 rare‐to‐impossible
that
a
 male
figure
is
the
object
of
 The
Gaze,
while
his
female
 counterpart
is
in
control
of
 him
and
wields
significant
 power
over
him.
I
really
 appreciated
the
film
for
this
 reason.

 In
general
it
was
a
great,
 provocative
film
I
would
 highly
recommend.
 David
Kross
(Michael)
and
Kate
Winslet
(Hanna)


6



C O N C E R N I N G 
 Kudos
to
Virginia
Woolf.
I
mean
that
honestly.
There
are
a
lot
of
things
I
really
like
about








 A
Room
of
One’s
Own.

Obviously
many
of
her
arguments
are
wholly
legitimate.
 There
are
however,
a
few
things
that
I
cannot
agree
with.
 For
one,
I
do
not
believe
that
the
mind
has
to
be
 “incandescent”
and
devoid
of
all
anger
in
order
to
produce
 ‘good’
writing.
I
know
that
personally,
this
isn’t
true
for
me.
 But
aside
from
that,
what
I
find
problematic
about
the
 talented
author’s
text
is
how
it
makes
room
for
biological
 determinism
and
undermines
female
writing.
 Towards
the
end
of
the
lecture,
Woolf
states,
“the
book
has
 somehow
to
be
adapted
to
the
body,
and
at
a
venture
one
 would
say
that
women’s
books
should
be
shorter,
more
 concentrated,
than
those
of
men,
and
framed
so
that
they
do
 not
need
long
hours
of
steady
and
uninterrupted
work
...
The
 nerves
that
feed
the
brain
would
seem
to
differ
in
men
and
 women,
and
if
you
are
going
to
make
them
work
their
best
 and
hardest,
you
must
find
out
what
treatment
suits
them”.
 Hmm.
I
acknowledge
that
there
certainly
are
biological
 Props,
Virginia.



Virginia Woolf differences
between
man
and
women,
but
the
manner
in
which
Woolf
claims
that
women
 require
shorter,
less
complicated
books,
because
of
their
biology,
I
find
problematic.
First
 of
all,
I
find
the
statement
about
women
needing
different
sorts
of
books
a
little
absurd.
 Beyond
that,
Woolf
backing
up
her
belief
with
biological
evidence
bothers
me,
simply
 because
it
leaves
room
to
legitimize
the
ridiculous
theory
of
biological
determinism.
I
 found
this
upsetting
just
because
quite
a
few
entirely
illegitimate
theories
of
the
past
 were
based
on
the
foundation
of
biological
determinism.
 Woolf
also
seems
to
frequently
undermine
women’s
writing.
She
finds
a
lot
to
criticize
 about
the
five
great
writers
she
mentions,
excusing
their
faults
by
reminding
the
reader
 that
they
were
women,
and
therefore
writing
in
very
limiting
conditions.
I
understand
 that
her
argument
is
that
these
works
are
great,
and
let’s
imagine
how
great
they
 would’ve
been,
were
their
authors
allotted
the
proper
time
and
space
to
work.
This
logic
 does
make
sense
to
me,
but
reading
page
after
page
of
her
criticisms
of
women’s
work,
I
 just
want
her
to
accept
it
for
what
it
is,
instead
of
discussing
its
flaws,
and
attributing
 them
to
the
poor
conditions
for
women.
I
think
I
would’ve
found
her
argument
more
 convincing
if
she
had
focused
on
the
strengths
of
the
writings,
and
then
pointed
out
to
the
 reader
the
state
of
the
women’s
lives
when
they
wrote
their
masterpieces.

 8



S

A

Y

The
Pope’s
Absurd
Claim
About
Condom
Use
in
Afr
 W T F ! 
 This
makes
sense!!

(heavy
sarcasm)
 This
past
week,
Pope
Benedict
XVI
declared
that
condom
use
in
Africa
does
not
(as
is
widely
 believed)
help
diminish
the
spread
of
AIDS
in
Africa,
it
actually
makes
the
crisis
worse.

 Say
whaaaaat?
 I
guess
I’ve
missed
a
step
in
this
sexpert’s
logic,
because
for
the
life
of
me
I
cannot
understand
how
 his
claim
is
anything
but
a
statement
of
sheer
and
dangerous
ignorance.
 There’s
no
need
to
point
out
the
safety
that
accompanies
using
a
condom—most
people
 understand
that
they
help
to
guard
against
sexually
transmitted
diseases
like
AIDS.
The
Pope
 however,
thinks
abstinence
is
the
only
protection
that
works.
 I’m
sorry,
Benedict—abstinence
doesn’t
work.
It’s
completely
unrealistic
and
unhealthy.
That’s
 why
condoms
were
invented.
And
teaching
people
in
Africa
not
to
use
condoms,
when
we
all
know
 they’re
not
going
to
abstain
(because
who
does?!)
is
extremely
dangerous,
and
will
only
worsen
the
 state
of
the
AIDS
crisis
in
Africa.
These
foolish
words,
coming
from
the
authoritative
Pope,
are
 especially
hazardous
because
many
people
in
Africa
don’t
have
access
to
education,
and
therefore
 might
actually
take
the
Pope’s
advice
(not
using
condoms,
that
is)
to
heart.
 I
don’t
understand
the
Christian
obsession
with
abstinence.
Having
sex
is
healthy
and
we’re
 meant
to
do
it.
The
teaching
of
abstinence
means
that
the
knowledge
of
sex
that
people
are
kids
are
 invested
with
is
extremely
limited.
Kids
who
are
taught
abstinence
grow
up
with
an
incredible
lack




W

H

A

T

ica
and
Thoughts
on
Christianity
and
Feminism.
 of
understanding
about
their
bodies,
and
how
to
safely
and
 Irresponsible
Pope
 responsibly
be
sexually
active.
 is
dangerous—
 PROTECT
YOURSELF!!
 We
don’t
need
the
teaching
of
abstinence
to
kids,
and
we
 certainly
don’t
need
the
Pope
telling
people
that
condom
use
 will
aggravate
the
AIDS
crisis
in
Africa.
I
cannot
believe
that
a
benevolent
 god
could
agree
with
abstinence,
or
will
the
spread
of
the
epidemic.
How
 is
it
that
this
is
the
message
that
is
being
transmitted
so
clearly
by
 Christianity
at
the
moment?
 I
think
a
large
part
of
why
I’m
an
atheist
has
to
do
with
that
I
can’t
 agree
with
claims
Christianity
makes.
To
me,
it
seems
like
feminism
 and
Christianity
clash
so
definitely,
the
latter
enforcing
gender
roles
 and
the
hegemonic
system
of
male
dominance,
blaming
women
for
 mortality,
and
authoring
the
female
slut‐or‐mother
binary.
If
a
god
 does
exist,
would
it
will
the
subordination
of
women?
I
can’t
believe
 it
would.
I
can’t
believe
it
would
promote
male
hegemony
or
 condemn
people
who
aren’t
heterosexual
(would
he
assent
cries
in
 the
streets
of,
‘I
don’t
hate
homosexuals—JESUS
DOES!!’?).
 Either
the
Pope
falsely
conveys
God’s
word
to
us,
or
God’s
word
 itself
is
cruel,
malicious,
and
entirely
incorrect.


10



T H E 
 U N D E S E R V I N G 
 Slumdog
Millionaire
made
headlines
this
year
with
its
over‐whelming
success
among
Western
 audiences
and
at
acclaimed
awards
ceremonies.
Unlike
most
people
who’ve
seen
the
film
however,
 it
did
not
sit
will
with
me.
In
my
opinion,
the
film
romanticizes
the
slums
of
Mumbai
and
does
not
 adequately
provide
a
voice
for
the
Indian
people.

 How
can
a
film
that
chronicles
so
much
violence
and
sadness
be
classified
as
a
comical,
“feel‐good”
 movie?
It
is
wrong
that
a
film
which
has
as
its
subject
matter
violence,
torture,
extreme
poverty,
 forced
prostitution,
rape,
murder,
and
being
an
orphan,
puts
a
smile
on
the
viewer’s
face.
Either
 there
is
a
problem
with
the
film
itself,
or
the
audience
is
perversely
moral
and
emotional.
 Perhaps
it
is
easy
for
Western
audiences
to
detach
 themselves
from
the
reality
of
the
film,
but
it
must
be
taken
 into
account
that
the
brutality
of
the
scenes
in
the
film
is
 experienced
every
day
by
people—children—in
poverty‐ stricken
slums
of
the
global
South.
In
her
article
“Shocked
by
 Slumdog’s
Poverty
Porn,”
(The
Times,
January
14,
2009),
 Alice
Miles
asks,
“as
the
film
revels
in
the
violence,
 degradation,
and
horror,
it
invites
you,
the
Westerner,
to
 enjoy
it,
too.
Will
they
find
it
such
fun
in
Mumbai?”
 Along
with
considering
the
ways
in
which
the
film
portrays
 the
horrors
of
the
Mumbai
slums
in
a
flattering
light,
we


should
examine
whether
a
film
like
Slumdog
even
comes
 close
to
adequately
voicing
the
people
of
the
Mumbai
 slums.



millionaire

The
movie
is
based
on
Q
&
A
by
Indian
author
Vikas
Swarup,
and
was
primarily
 envisioned
by
two
British
artists
(screenplay
and
direction).
In
this
sense,
the
film
is
a
 British
interpretation
of
an
Indian
novel
and
of
Indian
lives
and
tragedy.
It
is
entirely
 unsurprising
then,
that
the
movie
“revels”
in
the
atrocities
of
the
slums
and
of
poverty,
 romanticizing
them.
British
filmmakers
couldn’t
possibly,
ever,
appropriately
and
 meaningfully
tell
the
story
of
a
world
they
haven’t
lived
in,
of
lives
they
could
never
 imagine
being
their
own.

If
the
filmmakers
are
themselves
wholly
detached
from
the
 story,
how
could
it
feel
real,
actual,
for
the
Western
 audiences
who
shuffle
into
a
theatre
to
watch
a
feel‐good
 movie?
 Is
it
possible
for
someone
outside
a
given
culture
and
 experience,
to
provide
a
voice
for
those
who
are
within
 it?
I
would
argue
that
it
is
not.
Slumdog
Millionaire
is
a
 great
example
of
how
it
fails
entirely.
A
story
that
should
 demonstrate
to
its
audience
the
horrors
and
tragedies
of
 a
life
in
the
slums,
ultimately
achieves
the
opposite
of
 this.
All
reality
and
experience
evaporates
from
the
 production,
and
the
viewer
is
uplifted
by
what
remains— an
entirely
un‐disturbing,
heart‐warming
tale.
 12



F L Y 
 T U N E S Plants
&
Animals
 
 
 
 Great
Canadian
indie
 band.
I
love
the
 intricate

 instrumentals
 combined
with
the
 softness
of
the
lyrics
 and
voices.
 
 For
fans
of
Band
of
 Horses
and
Andrew
 Bird?
 
 May
I
recommend
 listening
to
‘New
Kind
 of
Love’
and
‘Early
in
 the
Morning’.


Lily
Allen
 
 
 
 Fun
cheery
pop
songs
 that
actually
have
 something
of
 significance
to
say.
 
 
 For
fans
of
Fiona
 Apple?
 
 
 May
I
recommend
 listening
to
‘Knock
 ‘Em
Out’,
‘LDN’,
‘He
 Wasn’t
There’,
 ‘Chinese’,
and
‘The
 Fear’.


Missy
Higgins
 
 
 
 I
really
like
Missy
 Higgins.
Her
songs
 have
a
certain
 vulnerability
to
them
 which
appeals
to
me.
 
 
 For
fans
of
Regina
 Spektor?
 
 
 May
I
recommend
 listening
to
‘Steer’,
 ‘Don’t
Ever’,
‘They
 Weren’t
There’,
and
 ‘The
Special
Two’.



feminist and alternative music that’s worth trying to find Great
Lake
 Swimmers


India
Arie
 


Laura
Marling
 



 
 Nice,
simple
folksy
 band
out
of
Canada.
 Their
songs
feel
sort
 of
natural
to
me.
 
 For
fans
of
bluegrass,
 Joe
Purdy
and
Josh
 Ritter?
 
 May
I
recommend
 listening
to
 ‘Imaginary
Bars’,
 ‘Bodies
and
Minds’,
 and
‘The
Animals
of
 the
World’.



 
 Incredible,
easy,
 soulful
voice.
 Weighty
lyrics
that
 are
refreshingly
 nonconformist.
 
 For
fans
of
Lauryn
 Hill
and
Erykah
 Badu?
 
 May
I
recommend
 listening
to
‘I
am
 not
my
Hair’,
 ‘Video’,
and
‘The
 Heart
of
the
Matter’.



 
 I
love
Laura’s
crisp
 voice
and
its
 combination
with
 her
instrumentals.
 Intriguing
lyrics.
 
 
 For
fans
of
Maria
 Taylor?
 
 
 May
I
recommend
 listening
to
‘Ghosts’
 and
‘New
Romantic’.


14



T E N 
 T H I N G S Feeling
 apologetic
for
 my
body.


The
Hills
and
 Paris
Hilton:
My
 New
British
Best
 Friend.


The
global
trend
 we
have
of
 rejecting
and
 turning
our
 backs
on
our
 bodies.


My
fear
of
going
 outside
without
 makeup
on
 during
fire
drills.
 (It
rivals
my
fear
 of
burning).


The
teaching
of
 abstinence.



that i want to see end The
looks
I
get
 when
I
tell
 people
I
take
 Women’s
Studies
 and
they
gather
 I’m
a
feminist.


The
economic
 crisis.


The
global
 disregard
for
the
 environment.


Watching
people
 I
know
waste
 away
until
their
 eyes
are
sunken
 in
their
skulls.


Wintertime.
 
 (DONE!!)


16



A R T 
 W I T H written
and
directed
by
Elissa
Down


f i l m

The
Black
Balloon


writing Special
Topics
in
 Calamity
 Physics
 by
Marisha
Pessl


FEMINIST COLLAGES!!


B L

A I

N

A

L S

C

H

E

L Y

N

I

S U

S


 P H O T O G R A P H Y

18



m a d e 
 f o r 
 
 W M N S 2 2 5 X : 
 S E X , 
 G E N D E R 
 & 
 P O P U L A R 
 C U L T U R E 
 C r e a t i v e 
 I n t e r v e n t i o n 
 P r o j e c t 
 
 Q u e e n ’ s 
 U n i v e r s i t y 
 a t 
 K i n g s t o n 
 
 P r o f e s s o r 
 M u s i a l 
 L a u r a 
 K e l l y 
 
 b y 
 M a r y 
 L i l l y 
 5 9 2 
 9 6 6 4 
 
 p u b l i s h e d 
 W e d n e s d a y , 
 M a r c h 
 2 3 , 
 2 0 0 9 
 
 
 a 
 C a n a d i a n 
 p u b l i c a t i o n 



MUSINGS spring 2009