What I learned from the comments thread at Tenured Radical


Why weren’t we on the cover?

Did any of you see Tenured Radical’s post yesterday about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue 2014, “Happiness is a Cold, Plastic Doll?”  This year it features Barbie on the cover, but the same old soft-core porn inside.

The point of TR’s post was to comment on the cultural significance of SI’s annual swimsuit issue.  She noted her confusion when she first saw it in the 1970s, a decade in which porn was pushing into the mainstream, and Playboy had come to her campus to take some photos for “Girls of the Ivy League.”  (This was 1978; recall that most Ivies hadn’t admitted women until the early 1970s.  Welcome to campus, ladies!)  TR writes that the swimsuit issue wasn’t porn, but yet it “wasn’t not porn, because everything was exposed except, as Monty Python would say, the ‘naughty bits.'”  And yet–

The women were definitely chosen for their porny qualities. No model was included who didn’t have (as they used to say back in the 1970s) a “great rack,”  or was not able to spread her legs, tip her butt up alluringly for potential rear entry, or cock her head back in that time-honored fashion that says, “Come and get it, Buster Brown.”

But like those who reject changing the name of the Washington Football Team, the swimsuit issue is spoken of as a tradition. Hence it is harmless, right? Wrong. The swimsuit issue is the porn that gets circulated in public, as if it were not really porn, which to me – makes it more sexist than the tabletop magazines that just say brightly: “we’re all about porn!” It’s the porn that gets delivered at the office, and it’s the porn that people think it’s ok for little boys to have, like the Charlie’s Angels and Farrah Fawcett posters that were so popular back in the day, because it helps them not grow up to be fags.

This is not what all but four or five of us commenting on the post learned.  Instead, several porndogs wanted to turn the comments thread on this post into a strange personal porny fantasy involving fetishizing women’s bodies and insulting feminists and feminism at the same time.  This is a fair summary of their threadjack: Continue reading

Mudwoman in Virginia?

Howdy, friends.  Since I’ve been living in the long eighteenth century for the past week or so, at least in my own head, I haven’t been consuming either print or electronic news as I usually do.  But several of you have written to ask my opinions on the unexpected and untimely cashiering of the President of the University of Virginia, Teresa A. Sullivan, last week.  As many of you know much better than I, Sullivan had been prez for only two years, and was the first woman chosen to lead Mr. Jefferson’s university.  This morning, I read something that several of you (in person and via e-mail) had already suggested to me, namely that forces on the university’s Board of Visitors against Sullivan were peeved at her resistance to online education.  (Earlier this week, other reporting suggested that Sullivan was perceived as reluctant to cut low enrollment programs such as German and Classics.)

I’m really grateful to you readers for the e-mails and the prodding on this, but since I’m actually making some research and writing progress this week on my own irrelevant and self-indulgent intellectual work, I’d like to turn the conversation over to you.  Some of you who have written to me have UVA connections, so feel free to discuss the Sullivan firing and its causes and consequences. Continue reading

Hoarder Barbie, plus some other updates

detail from Carrie M. Becker's "Barbie Trashes Her Dreamhouse"

Via Susie at Suburban Guerilla, we learn of “Barbie Trashes Her Dream House” by artist Carrie M. Becker.  Be sure to click the previous link and marvel at the level of detail and layers of junk that Becker meticulously crafted, including an extremely disgusting toilet in the Dream House bathroom.  (I’m only slightly ashamed that my office looks a bit like this detail, at right, only with many more books and many fewer cardboard file boxes.)  If you live in or near Witchita, you can go see the installation yourself in September 2012, when Becker takes hoarder Barbie to the Riney Fine Arts Center Gallery at Friends University.

Speaking of real life in miniature:  remember that miniseries about the Kennedys that was protested by Kennedy loyalists and then dropped by the History Channel?  I’ve watched 6 episodes so far, and it’s really quite entertaining.  Continue reading

A ring-a-ding-ding: the awful oppression of wealthy heterosexualists never ends!

We have a new contender for the Oppression Olympics.

My favorite was this part:

“Please remove your giant diamond rings,” wrote one contributor to a community forum on Urbanbaby.com last week, billing her post as a public service announcement. “I work at a non-profit,” she continued, “and when I interview someone who is sporting a huge diamond, I immediately deduct points from that person. I talked about this with some of my colleagues today, and they feel the same way. It’s just an unnecessary risk.”

The poster later clarified that she has a specific reason for resenting when applicants bring their bling to an interview: She works for a non-profit that helps African women and children suffering from the effects of the conflict diamond trade. Continue reading

AIA Barbie Dream House competition

Architect friend MBB forwarded this intel on yesterday about the American Institute of Architects’s Barbie Dream House competition:

At the convention, there was a lot of buzz about Mattel’s Barbie® I Can Be™…Architect. Please help us continue the buzz by sharing the following with members so they can vote for their favorite dream house.

Check out the designs–the one with the pool slide from the runway is really tempting, but I think I like the Eero Saarinen-esque one the best. At least, I can see myself living and working in those airy, sunny pods quite easily! You can review them all and vote for your favorite, too. Continue reading