Archive for November, 2014

How Time is contributing to the myth of post-feminism

Time issued a poll Wednesday asking readers to vote on which word should be banned in 2015 (because that is apparently hard-hitting journalism these days?). The words included “basic”, “obvi”, “bae”, “turnt”, “feminism”….
Hold the fucking phone.
Here was Time’s reasoning:

feminist: You have nothing against feminism itself, but when did it become a thing that every celebrity had to state their position on whether this word applies to them, like some politician declaring a party? Let’s stick to the issues and quit throwing this label around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.

Right, because the idea of feminism being normalized in popular culture is…a bad thing?
I would give Time the benefit of the doubt if they problematized the “celebrification” of feminism (especially given how artists might be profiting off this appropriation).  But that’s not what’s happening here.
Time is trying to play flippant and cool and Oh my God, Feminism is, like, so 2013 in an attempt to stay culturally relevant.  But let’s be clear: this attitude is dangerous.  It contributes to a society where people– women included– think we are post-feminist and post-equality.
That’s a nice fantasy, but here are the facts:

  • 1 in every 5 women has been raped in her lifetime (not to mention that sexual assault is notoriously under-reported)
  • 1 in 4 women will be the victim of intimate partner violence
  • Women still earn 77 cents on the dollar for every man in the same profession
  • Women pay more for health care coverage yet receive less benefits
  • Women make up half the world’s population, but only 21.8% of lawmakers worldwide
  • Women are called bitches for expressing opinions, bossy for displaying leadership skills, sluts for expressing their sexuality, prudes for refusing sex on command, emotional for being empathetic, and  high maintenance for having goals.
  • Oh, and all of these.

So tell me again how feminism is obsolete?

The Economics of Taylor Swift

640px-YouTube_Presents_Taylor_SwiftI finally caved and bought the new Taylor Swift album.
I had been patiently awaiting the arrival of 1989 on Rhapsody (aka Spotify for old people), the monthly subscription music service I use, only to discover that Miss Swift will not be releasing her album to any streaming services.  In fact, Swift recently pulled her entire music catalog from Spotify– what many consider an implicit chastisement of the company’s unfair compensation structure.
I wanted to be angry at T-Swizzle, but two things stopped me:
1.) Taylor Swift is a national treasure and to be angry at her is, on the cosmic scale, tantamount to murdering a unicorn.
2.) Swift is standing up for her rights in an industry that has seen album sales plummet and artists earn less and less of the money they put into their work.
It can be hard to have sympathy for a person who complains about money, yet retains a cool $200 million net worth.   But Swift’s stance reflects labor rights issues that are occurring across industries.  As more content airs online– with the expectation that such content will be available free– artists and creative-types (everyone from journalists to porn stars) have struggled to earn their fair share.
In this vein, Swift’s credo has been pretty simple: Pay me for the work that I do.
“Piracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently,” Swift wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is.”
This is not to say that artists earn a tremendous amount on album sales (one account says that for every $1,000 in sales, the artist earns back a mere $23.40).  But it’s likely more than the estimated $.007 per stream an artist receives on Spotify.  And the more artists earn from actual music, the less they will have to recoup  in ticket sales, which rose 400% between 1981 and 2012, or by branding every iota of their existence (those who decry the celebrification of musicians would rejoice).
Swift may be an artist fighting a losing battle, and many have trumpeted the end of The Album as we know it.  Regardless, it’s pretty cool to see a woman take an unpopular stance, leverage her past success, and demand fair pay for her work.  And kill it in the process: 1989 sold 1.287 million copies in the first week of sales alone.

Musings on the midterms

I woke up Wednesday morning to…disappointment.  Expected disappointment, but disappointment none-the-less.  Republicans took the majority in both the House and Senate by a landslide, winning 10 of 13 hotly contested Senate seats and picking up 10 additional seats in the House.
I’m not going to do a thorough analysis of why this happened– the Internet provides plenty.
I will say that we need not lose all hope just yet.  Two reasons for this:

1.) The Republican majority will probably set up a very nice 2016 presidential election for Democrats.  It’s the nature of American electoral politics to react and swing full force in the opposite direction when the current direction isn’t producing immediate results.  And while Republicans have been bandying about several names for their presidential hopefuls, there really hasn’t been one great rising star.  Democrats, on the other hand, have hitched their wagon to Hilary, and it’s looking like that will be fruitful.

2.) After the last five years of tea party shenanigans and embittered legislative politics, new Republican leadership is toeing a careful line.  No more threats of government shutdown (at least not yet), no more hijacking of the national political agenda.  I won’t count my ducks just yet, but there have been sides that we’ll be seeing the gentler side of the GOP– one that is willing to cooperate and find common ground with Democratic legislators and, well, govern (Republicans are keeping an eye on the 2016 election, too, after all).

So, it’s bad, but maybe not doomsday?  We’ll find out soon enough.

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