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Which Disney Princess Are You? (Em & Lo Style)

January 27, 2014

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Results from the Zimbio quiz “Which Disney Princess Are You?” have been popping up in our Facebook feed this week. Most of them are as saccharine and subtly sexist as the Disney movies themselves:

They’re just begging for a more honest edit, with a little tough love thrown in — one that reflects the disturbing messages about gender roles, romantic relationships and beauty often perpetuated by the Disney Princess Industrial Complex. Feel free to forward the following to any one of your friends who’s taken the quiz so they can read their real results:

 

 

 

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Do Naked Images Always Lead to Objectification?

December 4, 2013

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The stars and director of Blue Is the Warmest Color; photo via IMDB.com

A lot of the commentary about the new film Blue Is the Warmest Color — in particular, its steamy lesbian sex scenes — has focused on the issue of objectification. The director of the movie is male, and many reviewers — both male and female, it should be noted — have questioned his male gaze. Some people question whether it’s even possible for a man to film two women making love without objectifying them.

Well, what does it actually mean to objectify women? Literally, the objectifier (usually a man) sees the object of his desire (usually a woman) as a thing rather than a person — a thing without feelings, experience, thoughts, or autonomy. But do naked images, whether still or moving, automatically lead to objectification? Some scientists decided to take to the lab and find out.

As reported in the New York Times, some studies have found that when we view people’s bodies, as opposed to their faces, we judge them as “less intelligent, less ambitious, less competent and less likable.” One neuroimaging experiment found that, “for men, viewing pictures of sexualized women induced lowered activity in brain regions associated with thinking about other people’s minds.” (That said, we’re always a little wary of findings based purely on neuroimaging — the results are often more complicated and ambiguous than the resulting headlines would have you think.)

Anyway, scientists across multiple fields have confirmed this finding: Many psychologists, for example, agree that viewing someone as a body strips away their personhood. “Even if you are a staunch science-minded atheist,” writes psychologist Paul Bloom in the Times article, “in everyday life you still think of people as immaterial conscious beings — we inhabit fleshy bodies, but we are not ourselves physical.”

But. But. There’s another side to the story, according to Bloom. Objectification implies that the objects in question lose their uniquely human traits, but recent research by Bloom found that this doesn’t necessarily happen with naked images. For his study, Bloom used a book by the photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (we remember his work well from our Nerve.com days) called XXX: 30 Porn-Star Portraits. The book features two side-by-side photographs of each pornstar, identical in all aspects (posture, expression, lighting, etc.) except that in one photograph the person is fully dressed, and in the other, naked. In other words, perfect for studying how we judge people with and without their clothes.

As expected, when participants in the study were shown the pictures, the naked people were seen as having less agency. But, writes Bloom, “they were also thought of as being enhanced experiencers, capable of stronger feelings and greater emotional responses.” In other words, kind of, er, human. Even more human, in certain aspects, than their clothed counterparts.

In a related study that Bloom organized, participants who were asked to give people electric shocks gave milder shocks to subjects who were partially clad vs full dressed. “Presumably,” Bloom writers, “because the flash of skin makes us more sensitive to others as experiencing beings.”

It’s not like anyone is saying (not yet, at least!) that viewing porn or naked images can make empaths out of men, but it does seem fair to say that the topic of objectification is a lot more nuanced and complicated than some of the “male gaze” theorists allow. (Of course, if there were an equally represented “female gaze” in pop culture, then we might not even feel the need for the debate to begin with.)

So if you’re looking for an excuse to see Blue Is the Warmest Color without beating yourself up about all of the alleged objectification going on, this may just be it. And just maybe you’ll find yourself musing, as you reach for another handful of popcorn, “How do these women really feel?”

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Get Mortified: How to Celebrate Your Awkward Teen Years

November 7, 2013

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One of the most moving moments in the new documentary Mortified Nation — based on the popular and hilarious Mortified live show that has been staged across the country — is when a participant talks about how teens just want to be heard. They don’t necessarily need to feel understood — especially by adults — but they do want to know that someone’s listening. And performing in a Mortified show, this participant said, is a way to make people listen, albeit decades on. And, as the documentary notes, it’s still worth doing, because that awkward angsty insecure egomaniac sex-obsessed zit-ridden teen is still essentially you.

The best parts of this documentary are the live performances filmed at various Mortified shows: adult participants read aloud from old diaries or poems or song lyrics or letters in front of a live audience. If you’ve never been to a live Mortified show — and you really should — this documentary is the next best thing. One of the reasons why these shows are so successful and so fun to attend is that the audience is now fully on the side of the performer — even though the diary entries themselves might be full of loneliness and desolation. As one performer notes, “There was no one back then to say aw about my life.”

Sex and sexuality, of course, rule the day, and these journal entries are a fascinating glimpse into the way teens struggle with identity and sex. The way that kids lie to everyone, including themselves — even to their own diaries! — just to make it through the day. And the way that kids fantasize and dream about the future, so sure that as soon as they experience their first kiss/first love/first sexual encounter, everything will be okay.

They were wrong, of course, but they were also right, because for all of these performers — and for everyone in the audience, too — that excruciating period did end, and they were all able to embrace their angst and shame and terror and embarrassing teen misogyny and own it in front of a room of strangers.

We guarantee that after you’ve watched this film, you’ll want to dig up your own childhood diaries and start sharing the shame, too. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll squeeze your bumhole tight in mortification. Feels good, right?

Get tickets to screenings or watch the trailer and film online at MortifiedNation.com

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The Best Dirty #AddAWordRuinAMovie Tweets

October 7, 2013

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One of the funniest hashtags in a while took over Twitter this past weekend. Here are some of the best sex- and love-related ones. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Top 10 Things the “Fifty Shades” Movie Could Do Better Than the Book

September 4, 2013

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Since the casting was finally announced this past Monday for the adaptation of the first Fifty Shades of Grey book — with Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson (The Social Network) as Anastasia Steele — the general consensus has been “They got it wrong!” We’re not sure any casting would have been universally warmly received (short of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart), but we do think the filmmakers have a chance to definitely get some other things right. Behold, our top 10 improvements on the book we hope to see in the movie:

1. No cable ties: In the first book, when Christian visits Ana at the hardware store and picks up some DIY bondage supplies, it’s implied — intentionally or not — that he’s hoping to use cable ties as wrist restraints on his next guest in his Red Room of Pain. Big mistake. HUGE! If used in such a way, cable ties could cause cuts, poor circulation, and a little thing called nerve damage. The only thing they should be used for in BDSM play is organizing all the cords of your various plug-in vibrators.

2.  No explosive orgasms from Ben Wa balls. It’s just not realistic, at least not for the majority of women. Giving them the same power as, say, a vibrator just sets women up for yet another sexual expectation most can’t meet. Balls (like LELO’s Luna Beads) are better suited for working out your pelvic floor muscles and thus improving pelvic health, which can lead to better sexual sensations. But as little balls full of cosmic orgasm potential? Uh uh.

3. Give Ana some sexual experience. Just a smidge. We’re supposed to believe an adult woman who’s not a member of the FLDS can graduate college with absolutely no sexual interest, no experience with men, and no attempts masturbation ever? It perpetuates the myth that women aren’t sexual creatures until the right man comes along. Please. She’s the virgin and he’s the stud, and they save each other — gross. And even if we were to believe that such a mythical woman could actually exist, it would be totally irresponsible — reprehensible even — to dunk her over her head into the world of BDSM.

4. Full disclosure on the slave contracts. Christian doesn’t ever clearly articulate to Ana that slave contracts are not actually legally binding — you know, thanks to Abraham Lincoln and that whole abolitionist movement. Here’s a kid, for all intents and purposes, who is not what you would call worldly or business savvy or lawyered up. Not cool for a romantic interest who’s supposedly falling in love.

5. Easy on the controlling, abusive, stalker-ish behavior. Christian spies on her and tries to control who she can see, where she works, what she eats — and she is not down with it. She’s afraid he’s going to hurt her; he causes her physical and emotional pain she doesn’t want — that’s not a D/s relationship, that’s abuse. And where’s the aftercare? Christian is a terrible top. The movie should make him a better one.

6. More well-adjusted kinky characters. It would be nice if the movie could add a character or two who’s into kink who isn’t royally fucked up. In the book, it’s Christian the controlling abusive boyfriend, his crazy gun-wielding ex sub, and his statutory rapist from when he was a kid. Not exactly the best advertisement for the kink community, the majority of whom are uber-responsible, law-abiding, stable citizens.

7. Drop Ana’s issues with eating.  With Ana forgetting to eat all the time, not being hungry and being forced to eat by Christian, it’s like she’s got an eating disorder. Maybe EL James was just playing around with a woman’s ultimately fantasy of never being hungry, but it’s a distracting issue — let the girl have a healthy appetite.

8. Have Ana enjoy the kink more. She can be conflicted about it, sure, but she should ultimately love it, embrace it and not be so afraid of it.

9. Make the sole minority character less date rape-y. Jose, basically the one minority in the book, is on a clear path to sexual assault as he tries to take advantage of Ana when she’s super drunk outside the bar. He tries to kiss her even though she keeps saying no and trying to push him away. He continues to hold her in a bear hug and is about to commit a crime before Grey breaks it up. Criminal tendencies aren’t a great quality in a “really good friend.”

10. No Ana narration. We hope and pray the movie dispenses with Ana’s insipid internal dialogue. Please no voiceovers about the “ghost of a smile” on Christian’s face or her cartwheeling Inner Goddess.

 For an awesome book about kink that should be made into a documentary movie, check out our award-winning “150 SHADES OF PLAY: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink.”



New Movie: Afternoon Delight

August 22, 2013

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Afternoon Delight, the directorial debut by Jill Soloway (best known for her work on “Six Feet Under” and “The United States of Tara”), opens next Friday in NY and LA, followed by other cities Sept 6th. It joins a (thankfully) growing number of projects on issues of sexuality from the female perspective with frankness, even raunchiness: think Bridesmaids, Friends with Kids, The To Do List, Girls… In Afternoon Delight, a stay-at-home-mom in Silver Lake makes a 19-year-old sex worker her savior project; dramedy ensues. The New York Times has an interesting profile on Soloway and her film that’ll make you want to see it too.

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We Are So Over Celebrities Playing Strippers

August 8, 2013

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Celebrities playing strippers seems to be a sort of rite of passage, a self-inflicted casting couch: Lindsay Lohan, Kristen Stewart, Salma Hayak, Olivia Wilde, Natalie Portman, Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Daryl Hannah, Heather Graham, Marisa Tomei, Julianne Hough, Diane Lane, Demi Moore, Elizabeth Berkley, Rose McGowan… we could go on. WTF? And to balance it out, you get the cast of The Full Monty plus Channing Tatum.

Maybe celebrities playing strippers are just the grown-up, well-paid version of college sorority girls who use Halloween as an excuse to dress like a “sexy cat” or “sexy nurse” or “sexy French maid” or “sexy stripper” (ha). Whatever it is, we’re over it.

But actually, you know what we’re more over than celebrities playing strippers on film? Celebrities talking about the crazy diets and work-outs they submitted themselves to in order to “prepare” for their role as a stripper. Because every real-life stripper totally spends hours a day in the gym with a personal trainer and hires a fancy personal chef to prepare kale a hundred different ways to trick her body into feeling satisfied.

The latest contender in this field is Jennifer Aniston, who plays a (yawn) stripper in the new comedy We’re the Millers. “I was on a very like, you know, greens and vegetables and lean proteins and kale,” Aniston said of her diet plan. “When I really wanted to have a cheat day,” she said, “I had to have a kale chip.”

Because that’s totally what strippers do to unwind after a hard day on the pole: Treat themselves to a kale chip. Not a bag of kale chips, mind you, but a single kale chip. In Hollywood, it’s only hard out there for a stripper because she’s so goddamned underfed.

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New Documentary: AFTER TILLER (Out Sept 20th)

August 7, 2013

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An official Sundance selection and winner at the Sarasota and the Full Frame Documentary film festivals, AFTER TILLER explores the controversial subject of third-trimester abortions in the wake of the 2009 assassination of practitioner Dr. George Tiller. The procedure is now performed by only four doctors in the United States, all former colleagues of Dr. Tiller, who “risk their lives every day in the name of their unwavering commitment toward their patients.” The Hollywood Reporter said of the film, ““Whether one is pro-life, pro-choice or without an opinion on the issue, After Tiller provides personal insight into a heart-wrenching, complex reality.” It’s out on September 20th — go see it.



LELO Pleasure Objects Have a Cameo in “The Wolverine”!

July 29, 2013

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According to movie goers of The Wolverine, the latest summer blockbuster based on the Marvel Comics superhero, LELO makes a special cameo amidst all of the action and high-flying stunts.  Items like the dual-action vibe Soraya™ and the wearable couples’ massager Tiani ™ 2 make an appearance in a scene in which Hugh Jackman, as Wolverine, finds himself in a love hotel in Tokyo, Japan, where much of the film takes place.

We’re told that it’s a fleeting scene though – so keep your eyes peeled!

It’s not their first foray into mainstream entertainment: LELO has been seen on TV shows around the world (like on Inside Amy Schumer), and their G-spot vibrator GIGI™ had a very big role in a comedy film out of Hong Kong recently. However, The Wolverine marks their first appearance in a big budget Hollywood movie.

The Wolverine, the sequel to 2009’s X-men Origins: Wolverine, is out in theaters worldwide now.

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Next Movie We Want to See: “Thanks for Sharing”

June 28, 2013

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Not because it has Gwenyth Paltrow in it — that’s almost enough to keep us away. But add Mark Ruffalo with a script about sex addiction co-written by the co-writer of “The Kids Are Alright” and we are there. That it features Pink’s movie debut is just icing.

 

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