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Black Swan: Perfection, Reality, and (yup, you guessed it) Sex.

27 Dec

Retro Poster for the film designed by LaBoca

Black Swan. If you haven’t heard of it, you should definitely watch the trailer now, and then go to the theater. Seriously, I haven’t been this moved and excited about a film since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Anyway, if you have heard of it, you’ve probably read about how it’s this psycho-sexual thriller that pits Natalie Portman (good) against Mila Kunis (evil).  Here’s the thing, though: I think that if you go into the movie thinking this is going to be some hot, sexy lesbian battle for power, you’re setting yourself up to (possibly) miss the point and the beauty of this movie. Yes, there’s sex (more on that in a minute), but the movie is deeply psychological and leaves you questioning reality, a la Shutter Island.

So why am I so into this movie? At first, I was completely taken aback by the cinematography, the striking visuals, the simplicity of & reliance on black and white (and of course, the stirring pops of red)…but after conversations with friends and my second viewing of the film, I realized it was more than that.

Without giving anything away, this movie is for anyone who has ever stood in their own way; anyone who has felt repressed by themselves, society, and the people they keep closest to them; anyone who has sought perfection. And who hasn’t, really?

This movie forced me to consider real-life repercussions of identifying with what’s playing out on the big screen. Sometimes I want to be perfect and that yearning ignites a sense of competition with myself and with others. Does that drive occasionally take over? Do I lose myself in it? I guess I’d have to answer ‘yes’ to both of those questions. But is that bad? At what point does it become bad? Furthermore, what the hell is “bad” in this case and why should anyone but me get to decide that? Talk about reevaluating your own shit. (If that doesn’t make sense, definitely go see the movie…)

And of course, about that sex scene

Several of the men I know have only shown an interest in seeing the film because of the publicity surrounding the sex scene between Portman and Kunis. While I’ve got to admit that it is a beautifully crafted, intense, and sexy scene, it makes me think about double standards surrounding sexuality and arousal.

I was talking with my friend Pat about how it seems that society is okay with two girls getting it on and that it’s okay for a woman to be turned on by said girl-on-girl action. Yet our society remains so homophobic.  What gives?

Pat and I tried to figure out what a possible explanation could be, and all that I can think of is that girls making out and lesbian sex scenes don’t necessarily show an acceptance of homosexuality/bisexuality, but a further objectification of female sexuality. To me, that double standard trivializes female sexual experience.

I majored in art history and I saw a lot of nude/naked (yes, there’s a difference) figures in my classes. I appreciate the beauty of the human body and of human sexuality. I’m cool with two ladies doing it, two men doing it, whatever. But why are we, as a culture, so damn obsessed with lesbian action? And not even all lesbians, only the “hot” ones. I think it’s bullshit. Those women are not making out or having sex for your pleasure, but for their own. And the same goes for gay men. Whether you’re turned on or disgusted by either, get off your high horse because it’s not about you; it’s about fulfilling a basic human need and/or expressing feelings. (End rant.)

Regardless of your motivations, I hope that you’ll see Black Swan and find something to take away from it.

Thoughts? Comment here or head over to Twitter and tag us (@mislabeledblog) and use #blackswan and #femalesexuality to keep the conversation going!

This post brought to you by Dawn.

Baby, I’ve ruffied you

24 Dec

In the spirit of seasonal songs, here’s one that will creep the candy canes out of you:


This post is brought to you by Rachel.

Beware the Young Lady Driver

23 Dec

My hometown newspaper has a lovely section called “Thunder / Enlightning” that publishes in an anonymous fashion the comments of readers who call in.

Basically, this is a way for senior citizens to fight out the politics of potholes and drug houses in the area. It’s also the funniest thing I’ve ever read.

Today was especially hilarious, as fights continue about whether or not Tiger Woods is a good guy or a schmuck. (So last summer, no?)

But the best comment concerned the ever-dangerous young lady driver:

“Everyone knows that women are terrible drivers, but young women go beyond terrible. It’s the opinion of most people that I speak with that women should be tested yearly and grounded whenever possible.

Oh, yes. You can’t just be too careful these days. Something else should be done about the obvious mayhem caused by young lady drivers. We need to take these licensed biddies down to the DMV every year and make sure they remember how to drive. Because, you know lady brains are smaller and don’t retain information as well as men brains. And, DMV lines just aren’t long enough as is.

To the newspaper’s credit, an editor responded with statistics showing that young males have more traffic violations, car accidents and deaths than young females.

But really. We all know statistics lie. So until this man’s dreams come true, let’s be careful out on them there roads.

This post is brought to you by Rachel.

Music is my girlfriend!

22 Dec

Just an early Christmas present, or a late Hanukkah gift, or really just a fun little thing because I like music, I like remixes, and I like you. So check it:

Present 4 u!

This post is brought to you by Rachel.

Pay Equity bill wins 58 to 41!!!! Oh, wait….

22 Dec


You’d think that kind of vote would be a victory, but not in the U.S. Senate. On Nov. 17, the Senate voted to derail the Paycheck Fairness Act (58-41) by defeating the motion to proceed. The Senate rejected the PFA despite White House support and polls showing 84 percent of Americans supported such a bill. What’s especially disappointing is that the PFA became a victim of arcane Senate rules. The de facto filibuster by Senate Republicans, including all the GOP women, ensured that the Senate never advanced to a debate on the bill’s merits.

The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182/S. 3772) would have updated the landmark Equal Pay Act of 1963 by closing loopholes, strengthening incentives to prevent pay discrimination, and prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages. On average, women still make only 77 cents for every dollar men earn. (PDF)  The issue of pay equity isn’t just about fairness, it’s about putting food on the kitchen table. It’s not simply a women’s issue, it’s a family issue. In this struggling economy, women’s wages are critical to making ends meet. When women aren’t paid fairly, families suffer.

While AAUW remains deeply troubled by the Senate vote, and thus the failure of the PFA in the 111th Congress, we remain confident that we’ll eventually win this fight. AAUW’s leadership of this legislative campaign clearly demonstrates that progress can be made even in the face of defeat, and that our organization and the broad coalition we continue to lead is stronger and more determined for the effort.

As AAUW continues its leadership on a range of efforts to close the pay gap — from legislative and regulatory efforts to activities such as salary negotiation workshops and groundbreaking research — we continue to look to our bipartisan membership to educate their communities and their elected officials about the very real need to address a pay gap that has lingered far too long. Go to to join us in the fight.


This post is brought to you by Lisa Maatz, the director of Public Policy and Government Relations at the American Association of University Women. Reposted with permission from Common Blog.


Happy World Orgasm Day!

21 Dec

I’m a big fan of Twitter.  And I really like to change my trending topic from city to city to see what’s going on, especially in Philadelphia (home of the hottest baseball team).

Today, I changed my trending topic city from Washington, DC to Germany after  noticing yesterday that you can change the list to include countries. (It is always interesting to me to see what people around the world are talking about.)

Needless to say, I was quite shocked when I saw the top trending topic was #Weltorgasmustag.

Translation: World Orgasm Day.

When I finally stopped laughing, I went to the Googles to see if this is a legit holiday or just something crazy the Germans made up. I found this charming article, auf Deutsch, but to sum it up, the theory is if everyone is out having sex and having amazing orgasms nobody will be fighting and there will be peace in the world.

Therefore, orgasms=world peace.

Get to it ladies…

This post is brought to you by Laura. Follow her on Twitter @laurablyler.

The women who taught me feminism (another introduction)

21 Dec

Unlike many of our writers, I haven’t called myself a feminist for very long. In fact, I’ve been guilty of misunderstanding and mislabeling those who embrace “the word.”

That is, until I got schooled by Gail Collins.

Collins, who is one of my favorite New York Times columnists (aka be prepared for lots of posts about her hilarious essays), wrote a lovely book called When Everything Changed describing the world for American women from the 1960s forward. The book tells awesome stories about how women’s rights have been recognized thanks to feminism.

–Pause here in honor of the brave ladyfolk who stood up for themselves and for the future.

OK. Back to my story — I fell upon this book by chance, at an internship my senior year in college. After reading the book, I worked more and more on women and women’s issues, researching amazing women like Sheila Johnson, Sec. Hilary Clinton and Melanne Verveer, the U.S. Ambassador At Large for Global Women’s Issues . These ladies were so impressive, and their causes were so inspiring. I soon found myself falling in love with feminism.

Sadly, not everyone was pleased with my newfound glory, my mama especially. That’s right, my mama, the breadwinner in our family. My mama, the superwoman who cleaned the house, washed clothes, made dinner, and dried tears (I cried a lot in high school), all after a hard day’s work as a nurse.

What my mama didn’t realize is that all along, she’s been schooling me in feminism. She never told me I wouldn’t be able to do something because I didn’t have the right equipment hiding in my underwear.

I’m aware of how cliché the whole “my mama told me I can do anything!” narrative is. But don’t discount clichés. In a world where many women and girls are told NO all the time, be it in the classroom, the workplace, or the bedroom, the word YES has power.

I’m thankful for all the people in my life who said yes, and even for the ones who said no (more on them in a later post). Together, they gave me enough power and anger to realize I am a feminist, and I’ve been one all along.

This post is brought to you by Rachel.

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