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Myth of the Strong Black Woman

Writer Tamara Winfrey Harris penned the article Precious Mettle: The Myth of the Strong Black Woman for the Tough issue of Bitch. On this show, Harris explores these issues further, discussing image of “strong black women” in pop culture and brings together three friends to talk about real-life experiences around race and toughness.

Subscribe to Bitch’s podcasts on iTunes.

Watching Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I found myself first pleasantly surprised, then amazed, and finally disappointed. In a category of movies whose heroes seemed destined to adhere to tired archetypes, I felt I was finally encountering a character I’d long ago given up on finding: a caring, empathetic protagonist, motivated not by pride or anger but by a deep desire to protect his people, and to keep harm from befalling even those he saw as enemies. That the protagonist in question was a computer-animated chimpanzee hardly seemed to matter. Masculinity in American blockbusters is now so highly codified—and so yoked to muscular bodies, violent temperaments, powerful weapons, and expensive toys—that perhaps we had to go beyond the human male in order to find a character we could gift with all the dignity and complexity a hero should be capable of.
Read the rest of The Surprising Language of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes by Sarah Marshall.  High-res

Watching Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I found myself first pleasantly surprised, then amazed, and finally disappointed. In a category of movies whose heroes seemed destined to adhere to tired archetypes, I felt I was finally encountering a character I’d long ago given up on finding: a caring, empathetic protagonist, motivated not by pride or anger but by a deep desire to protect his people, and to keep harm from befalling even those he saw as enemies. That the protagonist in question was a computer-animated chimpanzee hardly seemed to matter. Masculinity in American blockbusters is now so highly codified—and so yoked to muscular bodies, violent temperaments, powerful weapons, and expensive toys—that perhaps we had to go beyond the human male in order to find a character we could gift with all the dignity and complexity a hero should be capable of.

Read the rest of The Surprising Language of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes by Sarah Marshall. 

Unequal access to fat-sized fashion is a well-documented and long-term phenomenon. Even now, after several decades of fat-positive activism and consumer interest fuelling the creation of more fat fashion, clothing in larger sizes is not nearly as accessible as “straight-sized” clothing, in terms of quantity as well as quality. As such, today’s fa(t)shionistas have developed their own ways to engage with fashion when the industry refuses to recognise them as viable customers.

Graphics used from ModCloth survey

Used by permission of the publishers from “Fashion’s ‘Forgotten Woman’: How fat bodies queer fashion and consumption,” in Queering Fat Embodiment eds. Cat Pausé, Jackie Wykes and Samantha Murray (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014). pp. 133-134. Copyright © 2014

Read more from Fashion’s ‘Forgotten Woman’: How fat bodies queer fashion and consumption on Bitch Media

Zach Braff’s protagonist in his new film Wish I Was Here, Aidan, spends much of the film lamenting about the pursuit of his dream when he already has so much. In one scene, Sarah and Aidan discuss their frustrations with their life and Aidan begins to whine about how his wife needs to support his dreams. This cued a major eye-roll for me: so much of our culture is already centered around supporting men and their passions and that’s a dynamic Braff seemed to entirely miss when writing the film. With a $3 million Kickstarter, real-life individuals are paying to support Braff’s dream. Braff, a thirty-something white dude living in LA, then used all that support to follow his true passion of creating a movie that’s all about a thirty-something white dude living in LA following his dream. If individuals are collectively funding a film that hopes to be inspiring, the end result should be as dynamic and diverse as the people who pony up to support it. Instead, the film feels absurdly self-centered. 
Read more of Lucy Vernasco’s take on Wish I Was Here on Bitch Media High-res

Zach Braff’s protagonist in his new film Wish I Was Here, Aidan, spends much of the film lamenting about the pursuit of his dream when he already has so much. In one scene, Sarah and Aidan discuss their frustrations with their life and Aidan begins to whine about how his wife needs to support his dreams. This cued a major eye-roll for me: so much of our culture is already centered around supporting men and their passions and that’s a dynamic Braff seemed to entirely miss when writing the film. With a $3 million Kickstarter, real-life individuals are paying to support Braff’s dream. Braff, a thirty-something white dude living in LA, then used all that support to follow his true passion of creating a movie that’s all about a thirty-something white dude living in LA following his dream. If individuals are collectively funding a film that hopes to be inspiring, the end result should be as dynamic and diverse as the people who pony up to support it. Instead, the film feels absurdly self-centered. 

Read more of Lucy Vernasco’s take on Wish I Was Here on Bitch Media

Etheria Film Night, a festival dedicated to showing fantasy, science fiction, and horror films directed by women all over the world. Of the films shown at the festival in Hollywood, check out five of our favorites. 

1. Soulmate [UK] Etheria 2014 kicked off with this feature from director Axelle Carolyn about a recently widowed musician who takes a vacation in the Welsh countryside, only to discover she’s not the only occupant of the old cottage she’s rented. Combining classically Gothic and horror elements with contemporary twists, and filmed in atmospheric mountains, Soulmate is a fresh take on the traditional ghost story. 

2. Wakening [CANADA] directed by Danis Goulet, takes Cree mythology and drops it squarely into a dystopian, military-occupied future. A lone warrior, Wesakechak, must seek out the supernatural terror of a Weetigo to help in her fight against the occupying forces, in this intriguing, multi-layered film.

3. You, Me, & Her [USA] When 31 versions of Anna are processed at the Department of Parallel Resettlement, she is shocked to discover not only that her smallest choices have reality-shaking consequences, but that she is the most cautious, least interesting version of herself. Sarah Doyle’s hilarious, quirky You Me & Her is a real original, quickly drawing viewers into its madcap little world. Watch the trailer here

4. Hide and Seek [JAPAN]A schoolgirl shows up to a music teacher’s house for a Koto lesson, only to slowly discover there’s more to the woman and her son than meets the eye. Kayoko Asakura’s short Hide and Seek is a slow-burning piece of horror, whose patience and unexpected payoff make it seem more expansive than its eleven-minute timeframe.Watch the trailer here.

5. The Jelly Wrestler [AUSTRALIA] Aging barmaid Eileen’s old jelly-wrestling demons come back to haunt her as she trains a young woman for her own bout. It’s unexpected, funny, and has a sinister turn of an ending. The Jelly Wrestler is a slick, bittersweet delight, and was the perfect cap to the festival evening. Watch the trailer here

Read more about the Etheria Film Night and great films directed by women on Bitch Media.

Lifetime Network’s Devious Maids is endlessly frustrating. The plot and themes are quickly becoming primarily about sex, romance, and family.  In particular, the singer has stopped trying to push her demo album.  Instead, she’s settled in to her job as a maid, concerned mostly with romance and caretaking. According to the network, these maids “have dreams of their own,” but their dreams never seem to take center stage. 
The first season was rife with stereotypes—Tanisha Ramirez described the show’s trailer as managing to “efficiently portray Latinas as hypersexual, nosy, scheming and, at times, totally invisible domestic servants, one set of pushed-up breasts, devilishly squinted eyes and sassy hair flip at a time.” and Writer Alisa Valdes also pointed out that in the original Spanish-language version of the show, all the characters were Latino. In the English-language version, only the maids are Latino and the wealthy characters are all white.  In season two, the show has been finding new lows in its characterization , and I have begun to find many new aspects of the show offensive.
But I also haven’t stopped watching it. I’m so starved for diverse images of Latinas in media that I keep tuning in.
Read more of Aya de Leon’s review of Devious Maids on Bitch Media High-res

Lifetime Network’s Devious Maids is endlessly frustrating. The plot and themes are quickly becoming primarily about sex, romance, and family.  In particular, the singer has stopped trying to push her demo album.  Instead, she’s settled in to her job as a maid, concerned mostly with romance and caretaking. According to the network, these maids “have dreams of their own,” but their dreams never seem to take center stage. 

The first season was rife with stereotypes—Tanisha Ramirez described the show’s trailer as managing to “efficiently portray Latinas as hypersexual, nosy, scheming and, at times, totally invisible domestic servants, one set of pushed-up breasts, devilishly squinted eyes and sassy hair flip at a time.” and Writer Alisa Valdes also pointed out that in the original Spanish-language version of the show, all the characters were Latino. In the English-language version, only the maids are Latino and the wealthy characters are all white.  In season two, the show has been finding new lows in its characterization , and I have begun to find many new aspects of the show offensive.

But I also haven’t stopped watching it. I’m so starved for diverse images of Latinas in media that I keep tuning in.

Read more of Aya de Leon’s review of Devious Maids on Bitch Media

Sometimes it might feel impossible to find women playing psychedelic, synthed-out tunes. Here are some stand-out tracks that deserve more play. Get your dream pop, shoegaze, and your slow-burn noise tracks here. Warning: the last track is 15 minutes that you will not regret.
Track list: 
Go - Grimes, featuring Blood Diamonds 
Shadows - Au Revoir Simone 
Myth - Beach House
Heaven or Las Vegas - Cocteau Twins 
Penny Sparkle - Blonde Redhead 
Farewell - Asobi Seksu 
Holocene - Autumn’s Grey Solace 
NVS - Chasms
Moon is Sharp - Grouper 
Conversations - Woman’s Hour
King  Woman - Dove - The Native Sound
Browse more than 200 Bitch-made feminist mixtapes here.  High-res

Sometimes it might feel impossible to find women playing psychedelic, synthed-out tunes. Here are some stand-out tracks that deserve more play. Get your dream pop, shoegaze, and your slow-burn noise tracks here. Warning: the last track is 15 minutes that you will not regret.

Track list: 

Go - Grimes, featuring Blood Diamonds 

Shadows - Au Revoir Simone 

Myth - Beach House

Heaven or Las Vegas - Cocteau Twins 

Penny Sparkle - Blonde Redhead 

Farewell - Asobi Seksu 

Holocene - Autumn’s Grey Solace 

NVS - Chasms

Moon is Sharp - Grouper 

Conversations - Woman’s Hour

King  Woman - Dove - The Native Sound

Browse more than 200 Bitch-made feminist mixtapes here

What is remarkable about Lifetime’s Witches of East End is that it is simultaneously manages to document the history of women being persecuted as witches, while illustrating how the patriarchal values that led to witch hunts are still alive today—they’ve just evolved. Witches of East End revolves around the Beauchamps, a matriarchal family led by single mother and witch Joanna (Julia Ormond) that lives in the fictional American town of Seaside. Her daughters Ingrid and Freya (Rachel Boston and Jenna Dewan Tatum) are also witches. Or at least, they have been, in the past. You see, Joanna has been “cursed with motherhood.” Every time her daughters die, she is cursed to give birth to them again, raising them from infancy to adulthood. Unfortunately, the two girls never even make it to 30, because the fact that they have magical powers is invariably discovered by the wrong people. For example, both daughters were burned at the stake in colonial America. This storyline of reincarnated daughters whom bigoted folks hurt and destroy over and over again is the perfect illustration regarding how our repressive society adapts through the centuries, finding new ways to abuse capable women.
Read more about Lifetime’s Witches of East End on Bitch Media High-res

What is remarkable about Lifetime’s Witches of East End is that it is simultaneously manages to document the history of women being persecuted as witches, while illustrating how the patriarchal values that led to witch hunts are still alive today—they’ve just evolved. Witches of East End revolves around the Beauchamps, a matriarchal family led by single mother and witch Joanna (Julia Ormond) that lives in the fictional American town of Seaside. Her daughters Ingrid and Freya (Rachel Boston and Jenna Dewan Tatum) are also witches. Or at least, they have been, in the past. You see, Joanna has been “cursed with motherhood.” Every time her daughters die, she is cursed to give birth to them again, raising them from infancy to adulthood. Unfortunately, the two girls never even make it to 30, because the fact that they have magical powers is invariably discovered by the wrong people. For example, both daughters were burned at the stake in colonial America. This storyline of reincarnated daughters whom bigoted folks hurt and destroy over and over again is the perfect illustration regarding how our repressive society adapts through the centuries, finding new ways to abuse capable women.

Read more about Lifetime’s Witches of East End on Bitch Media