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Inner Islands
Inner Islands is a musical/visual space founded by Braden J McKenna and now operated
by Sean Conrad.

Inner Islands was born in Northern Utah, under the protective shadow spell of Antelope Island and is now located in Oakland, California.
Labels  MusicProjects  Shopping 
7 days ago by didgebaba
The ‘arm vagina’ – Hollywood’s latest form of female self-flagellation | Gaby Hinsliff | Opinion | The Guardian
It all started with the muffin top, that telltale spillage of flesh over the top of a tight waistband. Then came the bingo wing, the supposedly shaming droop of flesh beneath middle-aged arms; or maybe it was the cankle (chubby ankle), or the saggy knee. I forget now.

It’s hard for women to keep track of which specific body part is currently being shamed to death, when it seems to be open season on all of them. But even by the demented standards of female self-flagellation, the emergence of “arm vagina” – aka the slight fold of flesh created where the average arm meets the average body – is a low point.

If you’re reading this in a public place and unable immediately to check whether you have arm vagina, then let me help; you almost certainly do. Everyone does. It’s basically a normal human armpit, which tends to involve some spare capacity in the flesh department, what with it being difficult to raise your arm otherwise.

But in Hollywood, having a freakishly fat-free underarm, as taut and smooth as a plastic Barbie doll’s, is apparently the new goal. In a long list of mad things female actors are conditioned to worry about exposing on the red carpet, arm vagina is “the one that comes up all the time”, as the celebrity stylist Rebecca Corbin-Murray told the Times this week.

Merely having abs that could crack walnuts and a face betraying no sign of human ageing isn’t good enough any more – presumably on the grounds that nothing is ever good enough for women making a living in the public eye, and consequently for self-conscious teenagers striving to copy them.

Spend hours in the gym diligently removing all possible vestiges of flesh beneath your arms and the snipers would only move on to something else, although God knows there isn’t much left to pick on. Eyebrow pudge? Overweight elbows? Do the back of my knees look big in this?

In fairness to Corbin-Murray, she wasn’t arguing that ordinary women should panic about the beauteousness or otherwise of their armpits, or that doing so was in any sense rational. She was merely pointing out, as a person who gets paid to protect women from public shaming on the red carpet, how freakishly difficult that has become.

But she was doing so as part of one of those fluffy “what not to wear this Christmas” spreads aimed at perfectly normal, intelligent women who read stuff like this at the end of a long day because fashion’s meant to be fun, a cheery distraction from worrying about Donald Trump accidentally starting a nuclear war. And the trouble is, this isn’t fun. It’s cruel, and it goes way beyond projecting an ideal of female beauty in the way the movie industry always will.

Men in real life don’t go around sexually rejecting women solely on the grounds that their armpits could have been a bit more toned. No sane person ever chose a film to watch on this basis. All moral qualms aside, there’s not even an obvious commercial imperative to making actors feel quite this paranoid. So why do the fashion, film and media industries still contrive to make women feel there’s something gross and hateful about their very flesh, the space they occupy in the world?

The way Hollywood exercises power over women has been a hot topic since the first allegations against Harvey Weinstein emerged, and yet we have in some ways been slow to join the dots between individuals’ behaviour and the culture in which this power came to seem almost normal. It’s striking how many of Weinstein’s victims say that before he lunged, he would tell an actor or model that she could do with losing a few pounds.

The inference was that she was lucky even to be invited to his hotel room, given how embarrassingly short of the ideal she fell. There is more than an echo here of the way abusive men chip away systematically at a partner’s confidence until she feels worthless, undeserving of better treatment.

But in treating women like lumps of meat, Weinstein was in a way simply doing what his industry has been doing to them for years: fuelling insecurity, and using it to keep them in their place. It’s hard to be assertive when you’re constantly terrified of getting one tiny thing wrong and being publicly humiliated for it.

If the only victims of such warped expectations of perfection were women paid handsomely to appear on screen, that would be bad enough. But these expectations filter down so alarmingly fast through the culture. Complimented a couple of years ago by a female reporter on the strapless dress she was wearing, the actor Jennifer Lawrence responded by tugging nervously at it and apologising because “I know I have armpit fat, it’s OK … armpit vaginas, it’s awful!” And the reporter responded in the self-deprecating way women automatically do, by tugging at her own dress and saying that now she was worried about her arms. What lesson does a watching teenage girl draw from that?

From size zero to the “thigh gap”, or having legs so stick thin they don’t touch in the middle, today’s freaky A-list neurosis so easily becomes tomorrow’s fitness blogger’s goal, and next week’s impossible aspiration for your daughter. This stuff is infectious, and it stops being a frivolous issue when over half of British teenage girls say they’re unhappy with their looks, and when a smaller but still heartbreaking number feel driven to starve and punish the flesh that they have begun to see as repulsive.

Somehow we need to get across to girls that this is bonkers, unreal, insane: twisted norms that have nothing to do with their own lives or with the boys they will encounter. They need to know there’s no party worth being “red carpet ready” for, if that means systematically eliminating every last fold and crease. They don’t need any more “insider” fashion tips. If anything, this is an industry that needs to hear a bit more sanity from the outside.

For the truth is that audiences don’t care quite as much as performers have been made to think. The world wouldn’t end if actors came to premieres flaunting actual creases where their arms join their bodies. Frankly, they could show up in jeans and it would look refreshing. The only real ugliness on display here is buried deep within an industry that long ago jumped the shark when it comes to norms of female beauty. And that really is the pits.

• Gaby Hinsliff is a Guardian columnist
labels  label-making  body-image  arm-vagina 
11 days ago by thegrandnarrative
Joshiryoku: How is Girl Power Defined in Japan - Savvy Tokyo
Girl power. A child of third-wave feminism in the late 1980s and largely promoted by our beloved Spice Girls in the ’90s, the term is commonly used in Western society to describe women’s independence and capacity to take control of their lives. It’s also there — you know — to remind you that yes, girls occasionally wanna have fun and are well within their rights to do so. In Japan, however, the term joshiryoku, often translated as”girl power” and abused by the media as a blanket synonym for “femininity,” has a different connotation. So what defines girl power in Japan?

“Joshiryoku takai (high-level girl power)!” That was exactly what my girlfriends told me just a few days ago when I took out a couple of band-aids to put on the painful blisters from my new stilettos during a night out. The same expression might be used when a girl brings homemade cookies for her friends for Valentine’s Day. In Japan it seems, a woman is praised by others for having a high level of joshiryoku when she is a good cook, has awesome fashion sense and speaks like a lady — just to name a few.

Contrary to its English counterpart, the Japanese term is not used to describe a strong, independent woman, but rather focuses on women’s ability to look after their appearance and being insightful enough to care for others, as well. It refers to a woman who spends a significant amount of time on her looks but at the same time is a motherly figure aware of her surroundings.

As implied in the highly debated word 良妻賢母 (ryosaikenbo), the idea of being a “good wife” and a “good mother,” many women still choose — or are given no choice — but to quit work in order to fully devote their time to being mothers and wives once they tie the knot. Although much has changed in recent years, with more companies installing childcare centers at the office for working mothers and assigning women to managerial roles, there is still a tendency to associate women with ladylike appearance, behavior and feminine social roles. Women in Japanese society are still expected to maintain a roster of traditional feminine charms at any age, and are praised when they show signs of them.

In a 2014 survey conducted by Mynavi News, which asked 173 men what they define as joshiryoku in women, the majority had answers that were associated with either women’s appearance or their skills at home. Here are a few examples:

“(It means) brushing up her skills. Going to a cooking school or something” (27, construction business)
“Cooking and doing housework well” (53, finance)
“Polishing her femininity. Taking calligraphy lessons” (49, non-specified occupation)
“Having the skills to attract men” (33, finance)
“Wearing makeup” (42, electric supplies company)
“Working very hard behind the scenes” (48, media)

The notions of going to an esthetician and wearing the proper nail polish are many. Thankfully, one man also mentioned that to him it means “securing her financial stability,” but nowhere could we find words such as “independence” or “guts” — and certainly no Scary Spices allowed. In other words, joshiryoku from a male perspective means a good-looking woman who is also Mrs. Perfect. She can still put together an awesome nikujaga even if you wake her up in the middle of the night — just one of her many accomplished household skills.

At the same time, joshiryoku is also a very common and highly used term among women during girls-night-outs. Among women, the word tends to be used to describe inner beauty or lifestyle choices they make. A woman might be praised for going on a morning run every day. She might be told she has a high level of joshiryoku for eating organic veggies and drinking cold-pressed juice. Spending money and energy on health and beauty is associated with the idea of admirable self-maintenance. Living a healthy and fulfilled life is what Japanese women take into consideration when they talk about their own femininity.

The popular Japanese beauty and lifestyle website Jooy conducted a survey in October this year regarding differences in perception of joshiryoku between men and women. The findings were not that surprising.

The ladies’ top five choices were:

Clean appearance, but good looks not essential
Ability to pay attention to others’ feelings
A good personality
Ability to read between the lines
A good cook.

The men’s top five were:

Good looks
Good skin
Wearing make-up well
Fashionable and knowing the latest beauty trends
Smells good

We get it. There are many expectations for women here, as anywhere else in the world. But if you want to be told that you’re rocking that girl power in Japan, head to the nearest cooking class and don’t forget to wear your best nail polish.
Joshiryoku  Japanese-women  Japanese-empowerment  Japanese-girl-power  labels  label-making  gatekeepers 
5 weeks ago by thegrandnarrative
Why Smoking Makes you Free – Sociology In Focus
In this essay, John Kincaid uses symbolic interaction and cigarette advertisements from the early 1900s to illustrate how symbols are used to shape and reshape society.

One of the things that we work hard on in introduction to sociology classes is to get students to understand how larger level social forces shape the world around us. One of those forces that can be hard to grasp is the power of language, images and interaction to shape our experiences of reality. Social scientist call the study of the way we use shared symbols to help us shape a shared reality symbolic interactionism. The basic insight is that all of our perception is based in the shared sets of social meaning that we use to order the world around us. For example, what’s wrong with the black-and-white picture on the right?

When we see the children performing this particular symbolic action, the meanings that come to us are immediately negative, but why? One obvious reason is because we associate this hand gesture with the Nazi’s and their horrific crimes. But before World War 2 and the Nazis, this was known as the Bellamy salute, and was the official way to honor the flag and nation when reciting the American Pledge of Allegiance. The act was adopted by Nazi Party and Italian fascists in the 1920’s, and the act became so socially distasteful that Congress officially replaced it with the hand-over-the-heart salute in 1942.
How Symbols Can Shape (and Reshape) Our World

What this example shows us, is that in powerful ways, the way we experience reality is shaped by shared sets of meanings that we learn from our society, and attach to the world around us (if you doubt it, would you be willing to perform the Bellamy salute in public? Why not?). What the salute also shows, is that these shared meanings can also change, and sometimes change very quickly. The meanings that we use and share to help order the world are not set in stone, they are subject to change driven by history, current events and politics.

This is where cigarettes come in.

The fact that the meanings that shape our reality can be change, or reshaped is something that advertisers have depended on for a long time. They have found clever and effective ways to use this to their advantage, working hard to shape the meanings that we attach to their products. In the 1920’s the social meanings that society attached to cigarettes were very different than the meanings we have today. While men were largely free to smoke without social stigma, women were not, and for them smoking was seen as a something done only by prostitutes and other women of low morality. For cigarette companies it meant that they were missing out on an entire population that could be using their product. They decided to hire Edward Bernays, who was making waves with his new advertising technique, “public relations.”
Public Relations and Smoking as a Symbol of Freedom

Bernays could be called a pioneer of a type of public sociology, and he used the basic ideas behind symbolic interaction to fuel his PR campaigns. Bernays realized that the meanings are “socially constructed,” in others words, that meanings we attach to things in the world around us are not related to the objects or individuals themselves, but were inherited through our social interactions. For cigarettes, what it meant was that Bernays set about to change the powerful symbolic association that people had between women smoking and immorality. He did this by adopting the language of the suffragettes who were fighting for women’s right to vote.

By the late 1920’s the suffragette movement had reshaped American society. The nineteenth amendment was ratified in 1920, prohibiting restrictions on women’s voting. Bernays used the powerful imagery and language that had been associated with the suffragettes to help reshape the social meanings of women smoking. In 1929, Bernays paid groups of women to very publicly light up cigarettes while marching in the Easter Parade in New York City.

Bernays made sure that the event was well publicized as striking a blow for women’s freedom and their fight against gender taboos. Bernays called the cigarettes “torches of freedom,” giving them a powerful new meaning as a symbol of women’s liberation, equality and independence.

The tactic worked, and cigarette sales to women tripled over the next five years. The new powerful symbolism of women smoking was so enduring that fifty years later cigarette companies still used this strategy to target women, attaching smoking to the feminist movements in the 1960’s and 70’s.
Social Movements and Our Power to Reshape the World

What this example shows is the ways in which socially shared meanings are extremely powerful in shaping our perception of the world. They can change our behaviors, influence our thinking and motivate our actions. The fact that these meanings can be shifted has been the essential insight behind the advertising industry, but also behind social movements. The civil rights movement sought to shift the meanings that society at large associated with African Americans, and the LGBT movements have sought to do the same thing for their constituents. Both have been successful in powerful ways. But if the study of symbolic interaction teaches us anything, it is that meanings can be reshaped, meaning that the victories of social movements, like the legalization of same-sex marriage, abortion rights and voting rights, are not necessarily permanent. Many other movements are fighting hard under the belief that they can undo these changes, using the same methods, to shift public meanings and change society to fit their own vision of what reality should be.

Dig Deeper:

What were some of the powerful symbolic images that the civil rights movements used? How did they connect with shared meanings that we had as a society and as a country?
What are some other ways that advertisers use powerful symbols to create meaning for their product? What brands or advertisements can you think of?
What power might individuals have to challenge shared meaning and re-shape those meanings in new ways?
What other social movements can you think of that have attempted to adopt powerful symbols to help spread their message?

Image by Victor Camilo via Flickr
sociology  teaching  smoking  labels  label-making  gatekeepers 
5 weeks ago by thegrandnarrative

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