I opted out of typing music listings and attending sociology class Friday in favor of checking out the conference taking place on the University of Cincinnati’s campus: Pop Praxis: Social Justice & the Media. With discussion topics like, “Disco Stick: Lady Gaga and the Phallus” and a keynote speech from Bitch Magazine’s own Andi Zeisler, I was stoked for an enlightening day of stimulating pop culture discussion.
The conference was the result of a collection of papers, presentations and workshops submitted by speakers ranging from undergrads to professors to alumni from a number of universities. Submissions were required to regard "pop culture as it relates to feminism, race, disability or queer theory, class, consumption, and all forms of political activism or cultural production."
It was an honor for the university to welcome Andi Zeisler, co-founder and editorial/creative director of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture. She wasted no time launching into a pointed discussion about the importance of feminism today, despite the general public’s tendency to assume that the movement is past and irrelevant.
“Any media needs to make money,” Zeisler pointed out, “and the quickest and surest way to do that is to sell out women.”
In short, while addressing the frustrating roadblocks today’s feminist advocates face, Zeisler commended technology and blogging as new ways to comment on the media and bring important issues to public attention, keeping intelligent discussion going that might not have been able to take place before.
Zeisler said Bitch’s goal is to help people think about pop culture in a more critical way, so it makes sense that the speakers in the sessions that followed did exactly that.
While the main event was arguably Zeisler's speech, the presentations and workshops were fun and eye opening.
During the first session, Sarah Mitchell called out Winnie of The Wonder Years for her textbooks that attempt to make math “sexy” for middle school girls in “Postfeminist Math Barbie: Danica McKellar’s Provocative Education Advocacy.” Lee Serbin also pointed out the shaky, back-and-forth stance Tina Fey’s character holds between feminism and postfeminism in 30 Rock during her discussion, “30 Rock and Feminism in Flux.”
Some women in the media, however, aren’t so bad to look up to. One presenter discussed how Lady Gaga rocked the phallus on the cover of Q Magazine as a response to the public’s accusation that she’s packing a package. While still technically enforcing the belief that a penis equates power, her gender-bending humor puts sexists in their place.
A strong argument was also made for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Admittedly, she was skinny and blonde, but more importantly, she overcame that image to kick vampire ass. The slayer was decidedly deemed a pretty solid female role model for something popularized by mainstream television.
Feminism wasn’t the only topic of the day, however. One student discussed Batman as an extreme representation of hypermasculinity who tends to equate violence with being a man. That, and maybe steroid use after all the bulk the superhero’s acquired over the years.
During the same session, another speaker addressed the somewhat androgynous image of the emo kid. This speaker deserves props for researching something so fickle in the world of teenage cliques. She concluded that, while the emo subculture allows for somewhat of a break from that Batman-inspired masculinity, only the white boys of suburbia seem to make up this social group.
While it was impossible for me to make it to each presentation, at the end of the day, the message was clear: People need to be careful about what they consume.
There are no clear answers. Watching a Lady Gaga video over 30 Rock isn’t necessarily going to be more empowering, and children who prefer Batman to Chris Carrabba aren’t doomed to a life of violence. The important thing Pop Praxis stressed is that the discussion remains open and that we, as responsible consumers of popular culture, keep a critical eye on it.
Drop those pickles and ice cream, ladies! Becoming Mom Spa in Mason is looking for the hottest pregnant gut in the Tristate for its Beautiful Belly Contest.
Knocked up chicks are encouraged to send in a photo of their lovely lady lumps, which will be displayed on the spa's Facebook page for public voting. Because that doesn't sound like it could go horrifyingly wrong.
For every vote on the photos, Becoming Mom will donate $1 to the March of Dimes. Prizes for top-voted bellies include gift certificates to The Polo Grille, Buy Buy Baby, Radiant Hair Removal (which you should probably think about before you submit a photo...) and other businesses. Becoming Mom will also crown Most Creative Belly Shot, Belly Shot that Best Represents the Journey to Motherhood and Most Beautiful Belly with $100 a pop.
Before MomsLikeMe.com hijacks this shit, I want to be clear. Being pregnant is totally cool (as long as you aren't a white trash idiot who learned the hard way that a pregnancy pact doesn't come with an MTV contract). I mean, you and a dude made a person! Holy shit, that's like one of the coolest things humans can do. And it's particularly special for women, because they get to let the thing simmer in 'em, pop it out and then feed it with milk their own bodies produce. That's hella eco-friendly. Pregnant women even look cool most of the time.
Terrifying other times.
Motherhood should totally be celebrated. I don't think a pregnant woman needs to hide her belly under a tent dress by any means, but do you really have to go to Sears, strip down and get a portrait of yourself covering up your boobs and vag like you're some kind of bloated Venus? No amount of retouching in Photoshop is going to make you feel like you look like Demi.
Not pictured: a normal pregnant person
But I know what you're thinking. You're going the tasteful route: planning on the denim/white oxford ensemble?
What a unique idea!
And let's think about who's truly affected by a contest like this: the little tadpole inside. How's Junior gonna feel when he finds out mom whored him out on Facebook before he was even born? All this for a couple bones and some Greater's gift cards. It's bad enough you picked the kid's name off a Web site, then tweaked it to end with "-ayden."
But if you disagree, send your belly shot to email@example.com by April 22. Winners will be announced on - wait for it - Mothers Day. Aw!
This is the caliber of photo Becoming Mom is looking for, so, preggy ladies, take note:
Mariah Carey continues to set the bar high:
Cincinnati's Guerrilla Queer Bar is about to turn one! That means they're celebrating one whole year of transforming popular straight bars (e.g, Cadillac Ranch, the Pavilion) into a flashmob of "queer dance-love-heaven" for one night, the first Friday of the month.
Don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day? Pissed off about all the publicity that corporate media give Sarah Palin? Mad that shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition still are on TV? Just bored?
No matter the reason for your frustration, you can release some of that energy by attending “Cincinnati’s Largest Snowball Fight!,” planned for Sunday afternoon, Feb. 14.
According to NASA's Web site "This year's Leonid meteor shower peaks on Tuesday, Nov. 17th. If forecasters are correct, the shower should produce a mild but pretty sprinkling of meteors over North America followed by a more intense outburst over Asia. The phase of the Moon will be new, setting the stage for what could be one of the best Leonid showers in years."
Leonids, who grab their name from their location in the Leo constellation, are bits of debris from the Tempel-Tuttle comet.
And while the area around Asia might be the best place to view the shower (two of the streams will be crossing over Indonesia and China), you'll still be able to see the action in North America.
According to CNN, "The first stream will cross over Earth about 4 a.m. ET. That stream
should produce about two or three dozen meteors per hour over North
So in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, experts recommend getting as far away from city lights as possible to view the shower. The less artificial light, the brighter the meteors will be. Also, the view is better the higher up you get. Altitude will reduce the glare of the moon.
Moby-Dick, Herman Melville's classic American novel, celebrates its 156th birthday Saturday at Gallerie Zaum in Newport with a 24-hour marathon reading in response to the success of the gallery's recent art exhibit, Chasing the Whale in Northern Kentucky: Local Artists Respond to Moby-Dick.
The 24-hour reading will be split between Saturday (Nov. 14) and Sunday (Nov. 15), with sessions from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. each day. Readers will be given 20-minute spots. They can read from their own copies of Moby-Dick or read from the gallery's "official" copy, the Longman Critical Edition (paperback, 2007), which features illustrations from George Klauba and Kathleen Piercefield, who both have work in Chasing the Whale.
This will be the first time the book will be read in its entirety in the presence of an art exhibit that interprets the novel. The artwork from Chasing the Whale has been extended and is still on view. It features prints and paintings, quilts and body casts, drawings and sculptures, a Moby-Dick tea set, and a documentary film.As of today, a few 20-minute reading spots are left for Sunday. Sign up to read here. And read Tamera Lenz Muente's review of the exhibit here.
Most of us can agree that this Issue 9 business has become a total mess. If passed, this charter amendment won’t necessarily stop the streetcar line from being constructed, but it will force a vote before city leaders can spend money on it. It will also force votes on all other rail spending — including regional high-speed trains that Barack Obama wants built. Issue 9 is anti-Obama!
As someone who was born and raised in Cincinnati, I naturally spent my whole life wanting to get the hell out of here.
I hated that there was nothing to do on Friday nights except go to the movies, bake cookies or eat lettuce wraps at PF Changs. I hated the schizo weather (70 and sunny one day, 30 and snowing the next: just another week in Ohio). I hated the predominantly conservative mindset, the maddening monotonity of the suburbs, the city’s aversion to all things new and different. I hated that you only had to drive 10 minutes in any direction to land in a sea of cornfields. And I hated Cincinnati’s dangerous proximity to Kentucky, where odious mullets and high-waisted denim shorts continue their ruthless and tyrannical reign.
In short, I pretty much spent my entire life blaming my unfortunate geographic placement for all my problems. So when it came time for college applications, it was a no-brainer: I submitted my test scores, sappy personal essays and record of every nap I took in calculus to seven out-of-state schools — and just one in-state school.
I just found out that tractor pulls aren’t nearly as cool as I thought they were. I, being a city boy, had no idea what they were all about. Turns out, a tractor pull involves a tractor — get this — pulling shit.
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, like I said, I’m just a poor city boy, but isn’t that what tractors are supposed to do? Pull shit? And there are 21 different organizations (as recognized by Wikipedia) devoted to this “sport?” I am supremely underwhelmed.
Forgive me for stereotyping, but I envisioned some big, buff, corn-fed good-old-boy pulling a two-ton tractor with his fucking teeth. Or at least jumping a herd of flaming cattle while Farmer Dan shoots skeet (not that kind of skeet — I mean the one with shotguns and clay pigeons where people yell “pull!” and work out their sexual inadequacies by shooting really big guns). That’s like using a “brass knuckle paperweight” as a paperweight, or Google Image Search to look up something other than porn. I mean, using something for what it is intended for is incredibly passé. I’m boycotting all state and county fairs until they make tractor pulls significantly more awesome.
- In other news, Americans take their Harry Potter very seriously. If you’ve ever been to a midnight book release or showing of one of the movies, you know what I’m talking about. Hundreds of
virgins enthusiasts dressed up as their favorite magical persons, directly flouting the authority of the Holy See and all of those other people who want to destroy my childhood.
But the British … don’t fuck with the British when it comes to their favorite angsty, sexually repressed, greasy, hung-like-a-grape (yeah, I saw Equus. Or at least the pictures. What? I was curious!) national hero. In Britain, across the pond, where they speak the queen’s English and actually think Hugh Grant is a good actor, some punk kid (no doubt a greasy, angst-ridden teenager who identified with our pasty-faced hero) threw bleach on a woman, harshly burning her for “disrespecting” him during the newest movie. Apparently she was telling him to be quiet for making out too loudly with his girlfriend (left hand).
- Speaking of sexually repressed, Vladimir Putin is fucking buff. In a flashback to the Cold War, after seeing online photos of President Obama shirtless, Former Russian President Vladimir Putin engaged in his own version of one-upmanship by displaying his (old ass) weapons of mass destruction in shirtless photos from his vacation. The photos included Putin fishing, riding a horse and chilling by a stream. The Times Online reported that, “The photos will inevitably trigger mass swooning by women all over Russia — as well as unfavourable comparisons of their husbands to Mr. Putin’s manly physique. They will also confirm the Russian Prime Minister’s status as a gay icon.” America quickly responded with “our president could beat up your former president and shadowy-seat-of-power-behind-the-current-administration.”
Image: A tractor trying really hard to do what it was built to do.
I spent the last week in Mexico and I realized two things: A) I have a freakish inability to tan. I mean, seriously, if it’s possible, I left Mexico whiter than when I arrived. And Two) somebody needs to regulate the sale of skimpy bathing suits.