Category Archives: Low Brow

Feminism and the RedEye

I’ve filled quite a bit of blogosphere space (7 entries to be exact) criticizing the RedEye for its seemingly total cluelessness when it comes to women’s issues. From “reclaiming” virginity to lingerie football to referring to women as girls, the RedEye had the ability to make me see red and spew anger is black and white pixels.

And, although I still think the RedEye is still relatively clueless with mountains of room for growth, I also understand that so am I. As human beings we have the amazing ability to be desperately imperfect as well as the magnificent capacity to grow. Publications, as a product of human beings, are the same.

But we can only grow if we admit our imperfection and try to grow, if we face our fears and change despite the discomfort change imposes.

I realized in February that I was so critical of the RedEye because I desperately wanted to be a part of it. I wanted 100,000 people to read my words and see my truth. I wanted my voice heard. I wanted to add my story to the mix.

So I wrote to the editor of the RedEye’s opinion column -not for the first time I may note, perhaps for the fifth time- and I made my case. And he was intrigued. We chatted, I pitched and a month after I first faced my fear of rejection by the RedEye, I had a column on Page Four.

It is not a column to change the world, or Chicago, or even a few of the haters. It is a column to write this is Niki Fritz and this is what I believe. My only wish for change is that this column encourages others to be themselves more wholly, to contribute to the RedEye, to write their representatives, to voice their opinions, to not step away when they fear they authentic self may not be socially tolerable.

If we can all be our true selves a little louder, a little bolder, and with a little less concern for the status quo, then perhaps we can change for the better. I mean if the RedEye can print a column about feminism anything is possible.

Feminism is Your Friend

By: Niki Fritz

“Earmuffs! There is a new F-word in town, and it is dirtier than Rick Santorum’s name, more loaded than Mitt Romney’s wallet and more vile than the inside of Rush Limbaugh’s mouth.

Yes, “feminist” has taken over as the year’s most foul word.”

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Filed under Low Brow, Newspapers, Uncategorized, WTF RedEye?

Not Another Virginity Article

It is that time of year again; time for the RedEye to print its annual obligatory “virginity” story. 364 days out of the year the RedEye is happy to fill its pages with lingerie football, Playboy bunny updates and fucksaws; but once a year the RedEye swings its horny pendulum in the other directions to talk about the “trend” of abstinence.  This year’s holier-than-thou treat goes by the name of “Power Virgins” and features Tebow on the cover.

The story is the basically the same as last year’s “No Sex in the City” article, some people choose to wait until marriage to have sex mainly for religious reasons. Cool. That is a choice they are free to make and a choice many have been making for centuries. This is not news folks. This is not a trend. Just because Tebow wants to wave his V card around and pastors are writing “freaky” sex books , doesn’t make abstinence news worthy.

The more interesting topic is why the fuck do we care who has fucked or who has not? It is a question the article posed in the beginning of the story but then never really got into, choosing instead to skirt along the surface of a topic that is oh-so-sensitive still in the “hard news” community. To dive into this question would be to ask why do we care so very much if someone has put their penis in someone else or had a penis in them and then to dive further would to question whether or not the location of said penis is important (oral, anal, squished between two breasts) and then to dive further would be to question the pleasure derived from said penis not to mention wondering where all the scissoring lesbians fit into this whole mess.

Look I’m all for keeping whatever virginity you want as long as you want. I know I kept my V card longer than the good lord probably intended. But posing virginity as the only alternative to the Playboy lifestyle is just messed up. It makes the conversation of sex too simple to be useful. In the end it just continues the cycle of fuck, shame, confusion, fuck, shame, confusion that permeates through the majority of young adults. Instead of swinging their shame-laden pendulum back and forth, wouldn’t it be nice if the RedEye actually facilitated an actual conversation about sex beyond the bustier and chasity belt?

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What The Wire Taught Me About SexEd

If you knew me in High School, you know I had no need for SexEd while I was a teenager. I was hyperbolically academic, awkwardly clothed in thrift store cardigans and my role model was Rory Gilmore. And despite the fact that I’m pretty sure I masturbated embryonically and definitely had a strong curiosity in the subject of sex, even if just pixilated hypothetical sex, there was no way I was getting laid while I still roamed the hallowed halls of Preble High.

Yet somehow when my best friend decided to start having sex our senior year, I knew to google Planned Parenthood and look up the local number. I also knew the advantages of condoms versus the pill. And I knew you could get gonorrhea in the throat from a blowjob.

To this day I’m slightly baffled how I knew all this since I had a) never had sex and b) had never had SedEd. Although I’m foggy on many of the details of where my virgin self picked up all these details I’m pretty sure the knowledge came from three distinct sources: 1) Whatever information I could glean from the internet after my parents went to bed that would satisfy some of my growing curiosity for the birds and the bees and s and m 2) peers who usually were informed by older siblings or open hippy parents, god bless them or 3) in a few particular cases, specifically the gonorrhea in the throat example, Lifetime movies.

As I watched the fourth season of The Wire this weekend from my sick bed, I realized not all kids are as lucky as I was. For starters not all are blessed with braces and post-pubescent baby fat; some teenagers are attractive and can indeed attract sexual partners. And with this attraction comes all the complications of sex but with none of the formal or informal education.

I realize The Wire is not real life but after watching a recent local TV report about the lack of SexEd in Chicago, I’m beginning to believe it is not so far off. In addition to the “horrifying” fact that Chicago’s young people have the highest rate of gonorrhea in the U.S. (which also means Chicago has the highest rate of reporting and treating of that STI), the report also examines the schools’ role in this “epidemic.” A CPS grad, who is interviewed in cognito because of the extreme stigmas associated with underage sex, says she didn’t learn anything about sex, pregnancy or STIs in school. She learned about these things instead via first hand experience, aka two pregnancies and a Chlamydia infection.

It seems that whether we are in a fictitious Baltimore, or home sweet home in Chicago, we ignore teen sex. We pretend our 14 year olds aren’t having sex because it is easier to think of them as children than as complex human beings with a range of desires and emotions. Other than being naïve, this is dangerous.

Luckily there is a statewide movement to educate Chicago youth with age-appropriate SexEd. A bill called the Comprehensive Health Education Act or HB 3027 is currently looking to gain support in the IL legislature for a vote. A fact sheet is available on the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health website.

To be totally honest, I wish 14 year olds weren’t having sex. Looking back at my 8th grade picture, I’m sporting a Tommy Hilfiger shirt I wore about every 3 days, braces with bright yellow rubber bands and an uncomfortable smile of someone not quite used to their own skin. Looking back, I’m delighted I had time to grown into my skin before rubbing it against someone else’s.

But not everyone is fortunate enough to have my bad fashion sense and awkwardness; not everyone’s journey is my own; some teenagers are going to have probably awkward terrible 5-minute sex. We can’t stop this and realistically we don’t always need to stop this as it is part of growing up. But we can educate these little humping bunnies along the way so they stop passing around gonorrhea like some smuckers lip balm. We can give them more than some passed down information from siblings or inferred knowledge from American Pie. And for the ones not curious enough to WebMD “safe sex” we can give them the information in a handy worksheet, hopefully with smiling sex organs cartoons.

Something struck me at the end of the Chicago TV report. When asked what she wished she had learned, the CPS grad listed the basics, information on STIs and pregnancy but then she also added one more thing. She said she wish she had learned “self esteem, everything a woman needs to grown.”

It is this last bit that you can’t absorb from the glow of the internet nor from snippets of lifetime movies. It is this last bit that took me years to personally learn after years of confusing messages from the media about sex.

In the past decade we have put major educational resources towards abstinence only education and classes that are proven not only ineffective but also teach girls that if they have sex they are like sucked candy and that they need to be like quiet maidens.

The Comprehensive Sex Ed Bill isn’t just to teach kids to put a condom on a banana or how you can get knocked up even if he pulls out, it is to teach kids that sex has dangers and consequences but also ways to manage risk; that sex is a physical act between consenting people who respect each other; that sex is sex is a part of life, not your whole life; that sex does not make you used candy.

Really this bill is undoing the damage of a decade of bad lifetime movies and worse abstinence – only education programs. It is the kind of education I wish I had had so I was so shocked and disgusted the first time I saw a penis (at age 35 for my future children) and it wasn’t yellow and curved to the right.

For a glimpse into SexEd done right, check out this NYTimes article.

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Filed under Feminist Rant, Sex, T.V., The Politics

Funny woman making fun of funny “women” things

The feminist gods smiled upon me when they threw Sarah Haskin’s “Target Women” series in my path one boring Monday afternoon at work. Two hours and 8 youtube videos later, I’m officially a fan of this funny lady and her series “Target Women.” The short videos mostly make fun of advertising aimed at women, everything from birth control to botox. If you are not feeling particularly productive today, check out the series.

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Filed under Femtastic Women, Low Brow, Web

Miss Representation more than just a feminist documentary

Thanks to my new status as an official Gapers Block staffer, I had the chance to attend the YWCA’s sold out screening of Miss Representation. The night was amazing and potentialy life changing. Check out the first snip from my review and the documentary’s preview below:

It would be easy to blow off Miss Representation as just another panties-in-a-bunch feminist documentary; and I imagine a good majority of the penis-clad population  might do just that and not read past the word feminist. But at the risk of sounding like a naggy bitch, please don’t. Miss Representation is not just another “Annie get you guns” feminist mantra meant only to enrage the vags and turn us all into lesbians. Miss Representation is the story about our society; it is a story about the increasingly bruised and bloody relationships between the media and the women; and the lesson of this story is how shitty media hurts vags and penises alike. So if you have a vagina or just love vaginas in all their equal glory, this documentary is your story as well.

Click here to read more
 

Newest Miss Representation Trailer (2011 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection) from Miss Representation on Vimeo.

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Filed under Academia, Events in Chicago, High Brow, Low Brow, Movies

Do I really need to clarify? Apparently yes. OK here it is: rape is not funny. ever.

I was at this lovely little free comedy show at a dive bar in Lakeview one night, enjoying my night and pissing away my nonprofit salary on craft beer, when a comedian opened her act with this doosy: “There should really be rape days at work; like vacation days but after a rape.”

I wanted to find the humor or perhaps wry commentary on society in this joke, but instead I just ended up concluding that it was a stupid attention getting stunt meant to illicit uncomfortable laughter (which it did). In all honesty I give the comedian some leeway because she is a woman and therefore not as funny as a man so she had to resort to the easy punch line.

But where I simply can’t find the wiggle room is how a man thought telling a story about RAPING a drunk woman was funny. But apparently ex-Second City cook Eric didn’t get the don’t be a fucking rapist memo.

I’ll admit it; I’ve been a bit of a P.C. freak in the past but in my elder years I’ve come to appreciate the slightly off colored jokes especially when they involve dead babies. However I will never understand why Eric thought that forcing his way into a unwilling woman’s room, getting on top of said intoxicated women and “doing his work” would ever be considered humorous.

I could get into the particulars of Eric’s pathetic story such as his perceived “peer pressure” and his idea of the “fish hook” as foreplay, but honestly I think I’ve said it all when I say Eric D Angell you will never have sex again.

Also I hope Tina Fey kicks your ass.

 

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Women can run the world but to the RedEye, they are still just girls

Forbes released its list of the world’s most powerful women. I know, we were all waiting with baited breath. The list may not mean much but how the media chooses to report on it does.

For example the RedEye chose this doozy of a headliner “Run the world (girls)”.

The header is a play off of Beyone’s newest hit but it also is widely ridiculous. These women have not been considered “girls” for years and decades in some cases. Actually the RedEye conveniently put all of their ages so you can determine for yourself just how many years these powerful women have been just that women and not girls.

The article was also kind enough to note that 22 of the women are single. You know in case you are looking to hook up that single friend of yours.

Obviously the RedEye was not trying to be malicious. It was probably attempting to be humorous or at least catchy and kitschy. But in the end it just fell into the trap of attempting to minimize the most powerful women in the world by associating them with prepubescent children and Beyonce (no offense to Beyonce).

I think a good lesson for us all to learn on this one is let’s not lose what little integrity we have left with attempts at cute headlines.

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Awesome Young Feminist Questions Beyonce’s “Girls Run the World”

Besides being nonsensical Beyonce’s “Girls Run the World” is clearly not accurate. Women in fact do not run the world: less than 20% of heads of states are female. Apparently Beyonce’s version of “running the world” is owning the dance floor.

Boy don’t even try to touch this
Boy this beat is crazy
This is how they made me
Houston, Texas baby
This goes out to all my girls
That’s in the club rocking the latest
Who will buy it for themselves and get more money later

But I think no one critique it better than this amazing young feminist.

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Filed under Femtastic Women, Low Brow, Music

Local DV group giving alternative view of Odd Future’s violent lyrics

Odd Future is scheduled to play at Pitchfork this weekend to the delight of fans and the dismay of local domestic violence groups. Their performance is sure to alight mixed emotions in Chicago; critics and fans are hailing the band as the “next big thing of their generation” while domestic violence groups have voiced concern over the group’s violent lyrics towards women.

Over the past year, Odd Future has made a name for itself with its intense hip hop beat, shock-value lyrics, and strong underground following. The group rejects any attempts at critics to define their music and they don’t bother to try to defend their hateful lyrics towards women. In typical 19-year-old fashion they “do what they want.”

Yet domestic violence groups in Chicago are quick to point out that Odd Futures fantasy raps are a reality for many women in Chicago. In order to remind festival goers of these realities, the d.v. group Between Friends will be handing out over 5,000 fans over the weekend with a list of resources for women who have experience violence. The group raised $1,700 in two weeks for the campaign and will now have a booth inside Pitchfork.

“We do respect the fact that they [Pitchfork producers] have the right to have the music that they feel people are interested in at their fest,” says Between Friends Programs Director Yesenia Maldonado. “But we’d like to make sure that they have the resources available while they’re there. This is a huge venue and we really want for people who haven’t heard these shocking lyrics—maybe they’re coming for another band and this is the first time they’ll be hearing [Odd Future]—we want to make sure that we let them know that this is something that we’re taking notice of, and we really want to get the other view out there as much as possible.”

There is something about blaringly different Odd Future that makes critics rush to proclaim them the next big thing, each critic trying to up the anty with hyperbolic predictions of Odd Future becoming the voice of a generation (obviously ignoring half of the future generation that would not like to be violently raped). They praise the harsh lyrics of rape and violence as an expression of naïve youth and assume because people can’t understand it, it must be new and good.

Even those critics who are critical of the band, always seem to end on an apology, as if it is their fault they don’t love the narrative of repeated violence against women. Although most will agree Odd Future has the right to exist and be produced, it is also important that the group be honestly critiqued and reviewed, glorified AND condemned.

Personally although I accept Odd Future’s right to make music, I think their music sucks and I have no desire to listen to a 20-year-olds fucked up fantasy about rape that is all too imaginative for him and all too real for many women. I think it is unhealthy for this to be proclaimed the voice of a generation when it is clearly only the fantasy of a few.

Odd Future gives one voice of a generation and groups like Between Friends are thankfully giving the other, to show the realities of domestic violence in our world. I for one am happy at least someone is willing to stand up and say this music is crap.

Check out an interview with Pitchfork founders here: http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-05-02/pitchfork-odd-future-endorsing-rape-or-showcasing-art-85888

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Filed under Events in Chicago, Feminist Rant, Low Brow, Music

Lesson of the movie Bridesmaids: Girls like inappropriate vomit too

Seeing Bridesmaids yesterday was more than just the typical “out with the gals” kind of night. After weeks of reading the feminist call to arms, seeing Bridesmaids had become a brave act of political support of actresses; a bold rally behind the idea of well-rounded, relatable female characters; a plea, hope, and desperate cry for the the end of the gender funny gap in Hollywood. It was bigger than burning a bra in the 60’s.

It was also just a really damn funny movie.

As I crammed into the theater with the most ideal group do eight wonderful women and cracked open a smuggled mini-bottle of cab sav, I felt like a real feminist, a real classy feminist about to embark on a journey into my soul.

And then the movie started, the cab kicked in and I laughed, cried and sighed my not-so-feminist-but-more-humanistic sympathies for 2 hours. I forgot that I was there to make a statement and instead enjoyed the movie.

If this movie is ground-breaking or ceiling-crashing in some way, it just proves how much the ground sucked before or how unnecessary that ceiling is. Bridesmaids is not a feminist movie or even a movie for women; it is just a god damn funny movie.

From crazy British roommates to projective vomit, from failed business to moving back in with your mom, from bad fucks to bad luck, Bridesmaid is a good movie, a real movie, and a movie that should be repeated more often.

The movie isn’t a “guy movie” with a female lead. It is a funny realistic narrative of an imperfect woman who occasionally gives her friends food poisoning and then vomits. If this movie proves anything it is that women think projective vomit is funny too. And apparently men like it too. The opening weekend had a 35% male audience according to the LA Times.

And according to the newspaper this is a trend many hope to continue. “Female Filmmakers are hoping these movies, which center on flawed but empowered women behaving badly, will reverse a decade-old trend of reducing comedic roles for women to either the Type-A power suits too busy for love or girlfriends/wives determined to squash the boys’ fun.”

By god, let’s hope the LA Times is right with this one because I for one am ready to see a woman fart on the big screen.

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Filed under Low Brow, Movies