Tag: gender roles

Talk to the hand

Talk to the hand

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The_Shining_danny+2 Tony has some notes on the performances in this advertisement, Mrs Torrance.

Maybe one day somebody will explain why the people in tech advertising– especially white people in ads for east Asian companies– always seem to be deliberately portrayed as affectless, malfunctioning animatronic mannequins with a limited grasp of their own language (example 1, example 2). Surely the ideal user likes to see themselves as more human than their phone or gadget, not less? In this latest effort by what must be a Taiwanese company, judging by the surtitles and the reference to Taipei 101, an insane lady called Pretty Woman Smart Living talks to her finger like Danny from The Shining and never misses an opportunity to humiliate her boyfriend for his inability to do mostly pointless things with his phone. He should also stop cutting his own hair, or at least try looking in a…

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1860s problems

1860s problems

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Eduard_de_Stoeckl

Regular readers will know that I love old books on etiquette for their combination of timeless, rock-solid advice and things that have turned into baffling absurdities with the passage of decades or centuries. The passages quoted here are from The Gentleman’s Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness by Cecil B. Hartley, 1860. Its publication in Boston shows how, at the time and right through into the twentieth century, upper class English manners were held up as the ideal to which all others should aspire if they were to be thought of as cultured and civilised.

The “hideous Newgate frill” he writes of at one point (see below) is a beard grown only under the jaw line, with shaved chin, cheeks, and upper lip. It was and is indeed hideous. He’s also correct to say that “the moustache should be kept within limits.”

Another thing worthy of note is a…

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Lookbook for Autumn 2015 season

Lookbook for Autumn 2015 season

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Congo Ngbende initiates, North Congo, late 20th century. Photo by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher.

Samburu Young Samburu woman with nubility necklace stack, Kenya, late 20th century. Photo by Angela Fisher.

MaasaiWoman1960 Maasai woman with neck coils, 1960s, Kenya. Postcard by S. Skulina, Pegasus Studio, Nairobi.

Padaung1979 Padaung woman with brass neck coils, Burma, circa 1979. Photo by Jorgen Bisch.

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Too much impetus in mounting, and other Victorian problems

Too much impetus in mounting, and other Victorian problems

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Firm advice for ladies who pride themselves on saucy chique, very stout persons, and gentlemen who so far forget what is elegant as to smoke in the street from George Routledge’s Manual of Etiquette, circa mid-to-late 1860s judging by the complaint about crinolines, which had gone out of fashion in favour of bustles by the 1870s.

Some of the advice is actually still completely relevant; Mr Routledge’s glove fixation, not so much. “Worsted or cotton gloves are unutterably vulgar,” apparently. You’ve been told.

HancockBored

It is always better to let your friends regret than desire your withdrawal…

If you are yourself the performer, bear in mind that in music, as in speech, “brevity is the soul of wit.” … If your audience desire more they will ask for more; and it is infinitely more flattering to be encored than to receive the thanks of your hearers, not so much…

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Marry yourself

Marry yourself

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Gremlins2_wedding

Merry War (Christmas is Over (If you want it))… or something!

Apparently there’s some kind of public holiday going on. But sod that, how about some proper “me time”? Why don’t you start the new year by having a solo wedding with yourself in Kyoto?

You are single and you don’t know if you would be able to get married and have a wedding ceremony in the near future, but you would like to have some pictures of yourself in a wedding gown or in a gorgeous bridal kimono now, when you are young and beautiful..

..or you even believe that you don’t really have to get engaged to be able to wear a bridal outfit..

..or you are already married, but didn’t have a proper ceremony with a beautiful dress and you find this fact to be quite regretful..

..or you did wear a dress, but it was…

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The last word on Gamergate

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… or at least the last word that isn’t from a “slopebrowed weaseldick”

The shrill conspiracy mongering and toxic threats of Gamergate [sic] are the side effects of Western culture, and US culture in particular, finally getting around to saying out loud to a certain type of obsolete man that the rest of us have come to a consensus in which degrading women and denying the rights of sexual or ethnic minorities to equal treatment is not acceptable. Nor should anybody have to endure constant insults and discrimination because of what they are or how they choose to live, or have to see constant, unrelenting and unapologetic images of people like themselves being treated as subhuman. Anyone who thinks that “social justice”– to use the Gamergoatfuckers favourite insult apart from saying they’ll rape or kill you– is a bad thing needs to sit down and shut the fuck…

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The Babadook: an advertisement for contraception

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babadook

NB: I don’t care about spoilers, in fact I really don’t care hard about spoilers… but even if you do there aren’t any here that you won’t find in the trailers and publicity for The Babadook.

My alternative title for writer-director Jennifer Kent’s new low-budget Oz horror film is Parenthood: It’s a Fucking Nightmare That Never Ends. In The Babadook, widowed mother Amelia– suffering from unresolved grief and what could be construed as an open-ended form of postnatal depression– is either being driven mad by her son’s antisocial acting out, or perhaps vice versa and her descent into madness is destroying him. It’s this negative domestic energy that seems to open the door to the storybook character so unnervingly introduced in a Struwwelpeter-esque tome that shows up in their house in advance of Mister Babadook himself.

It’s quite an old school (and distinctly non-American) horror film in…

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Eyes without a face

Eyes without a face

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Photos by Sim Chi Jin, except #3 which is from Reuters.

“A woman should always have fair skin, otherwise people will think you’re a peasant.”

The top picture is just the best. So surreal. Is it a balaclava, a ski mask, a facekini? Whatever you call it, it’s a weird and slightly terrifying item of apparel that is actually worn in China, on the beach at Qingdao especially. It’s the latest offshoot of the Nosferatu mania that many women in China have for keeping out of the sun. Even in London, where we count ourselves lucky to even see the sun for more than a week out of every year, you can spot Chinese tourists by their massive hats and the objects that they hold up above their heads the very instant they sense any danger of unduly numerous photons ravaging their skin.

As this New York Times article says…

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Scarlett Johansson’s murder van

Scarlett Johansson’s murder van

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UnderTheSkin_1600

… and how she was punished for it.

It’s been out a while, but I only just got around to Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, the enigmatic, glacial barely-horror film in which an alien (Scarlett Johansson) drives around in a white Transit van and preys upon lone men in Scotland. I’ve not read the novel by Michel Faber, upon which the film was based, so this discussion is purely about the latter. There’ll be spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film and you’re one of those big babies there’s plenty of other things to read on this blog.

You know some bad news is coming, because I’ll start with the good. The film captures the bleak beauty and grey light of Scotland perfectly. It looks like the most grimly lush Radiohead video ever, if Radiohead singles were ever nearly two hours long. The score by Mica Levi puts…

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One, two, you’re coming for Freddy

One, two, you’re coming for Freddy

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freddykruegerIf you ever watched horror films in the 1980s or 1990s and thought to yourself “Freddy Krueger’s OK, but what this keloid-deformed, ultraviolent, serial killing child molester really needs is fishnet stockings and a massive rack”, then today you have finally hit the jackpot, my friend. A Japanese company is now offering this bishoujo Freddy statue, or “stuatue” as they have it on their site. I know by now it almost goes without saying that if we discover a highly inappropriate item has been sexualised, then somebody Japanese will probably be responsible. I take a glass-half-full attitude towards this fact, though. These figures are very, very wrong but bless your filthy, weird, perverted Japanese minds.

tnirn20000016wboBishoujo or bishōjo (美少女)means “beautiful young girl”, and is usually taken to mean a woman younger than university age. Given the obvious intent behind this item, it’s reasonable to translate the figure’s…

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Shunga? I hardly even know her!

Shunga? I hardly even know her!

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Erotic Japanese prints at The British Museum

Last week I had the chance to visit the British Museum’s exhibition of shunga, which translates as the rather euphemistic “Spring paintings”: Japanese erotic prints and books from the medieval period up to the turn of the twentieth century. So it’s Spring as in sap rising, if you know what I mean.

Given the enduring popularity at this blog of James Joyce’s bum letters and the number of people who come here trying to find out (in English) what the octopus is saying in Hokusai’s Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, I thought some of you perverts scholars may be interested to hear a bit about the exhibition. It’s worth a visit if you can get to London and you’re into Japanese culture and/or smutty pictures; therein lies one of the unintentionally funny things about it. Yes, every single day at the…

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Badvertising

Badvertising

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Of course there’s no nation on Earth with a monopoly on baffling, pointless, annoying, off-putting and inept advertising. The advertising industry as a whole is one of the things that the planet would be better off without, the unscrupulous deceiving the unwary. In my experience, though, there’s no inexplicably bad advert like an inexplicably bad Asian advert. As I’ve mentioned previously, it’s often because the product being advertised is a solution to a problem that nobody in their right mind thinks is a problem. That’s the case in the following advertisement, for the “Unchoken Lucky Dog” money box. Tortured puns are quite common in Japanese product naming. This one doubles up on kanji for “lucky saving dog” and “unko” (poo). Yes, basically the dog eats your coins and then craps them out into a hole. I’m not sure where we’re meant to understand the luck coming into play. Is…

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It’s Gay Animal Fortnight

It’s Gay Animal Fortnight

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GAFPenguin

What’s that? You never heard about this carnival of homosexual, bisexual and transvestite animals? (That I just made up.) So sad… some people have a sheltered upbringing. Because there are definitely gay and, yes, even intersexual or transvestite animals throughout the world and there always have been. Sorry about that, bigots and religious nuts, but to adopt a phrase already in circulation: DEAL WITH IT.

It’s documented in thousands of scientific papers, even though a shameful number of scientists themselves have not been averse to clutching their pearls and squeamishly claiming not to see what their own data unequivocally shows. In 1999 Bruce Bagemihl did the world a great service by compiling and summarising this evidence for the ubiquity of non-reproductive (hetero- and homo-) sexual practices throughout the natural world in his mammoth 750-page Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity. It’s an exploration of possible evolutionary and biological…

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The “cut direct”

The “cut direct”

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Etiquette: Rules and Usages of the Best Society was published in Australia in 1885 for the benefit of “the better sort” among our colonial cousins. Not the crims, in other words. Some of the advice is very wise, some of it is surreal, while some of it– such as the recommended homemade treatments for acne or grey hair– is liable to end with a trip to the accident and emergency room.

THE “CUT DIRECT”

The “cut direct,” which is given by a prolonged stare at a person, if justified at all, can only be in case of extraordinary and notoriously bad conduct on the part of the individual “cut,” and is very seldom called for. If any one wishes to avoid a bowing acquaintance with another, it can be done by looking aside or dropping the eyes. It is an invariable rule of good society that a gentleman cannot “cut”…

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Buck becomes Master, and Master becomes Frog

Buck becomes Master, and Master becomes Frog

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The next few posts will be a miscellany of items from one of my most cherished and precious books, Cassell’s Book of Sports and Pastimes from 1896. It’s dedicated to “moderate indulgence” in “athletic and other manly exercises”. These include not just manly (again) games and exercises but also “minor out-door games”, lawn games, games of skill, recreative science, the workshop, and home pets. Yes, you heard me: keeping canaries and building miniature steam engines are both officially manly exercises.

Incidentally, will anyone cherish a DRMed file of a 2013 ebook in a hundred years time? I seriously doubt they’ll be able to even if they might want to.

It’s time to get manly, fill the various offices and ask the male friend you’re straddling “Buck, Buck, how many fingers do I hold up?” No, stop, I said offices.

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Kuchisake Onna

Kuchisake Onna

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Japan panic: the slit-mouthed woman

Stories of 口裂け女, the slit-mouthed woman, emerged from urban Japan in the late 1970s. At first they were particularly passed around between school children, then in the mass media. By the first half of 1979 Asahi Shinbun was highlighting kuchisake onna as a buzzword (hayari kotoba) of the year. In true, random Japanese style one of the others was “rabbit hutches”.

Occasionally Kuchisake onna was reported as a genuine physical threat, a criminal would-be kidnapper or murderer rather than a supernatural being. At times she was somehow both a real world abductor and a folkloric monster simultaneously. (See Hyaku-monogatari for the Edo origins of modern yōkai storytelling) Satoshi Kon’s extremely uneven but in places brilliant series 妄想代理人Mōsō Dairinin [Paranoia Agent] is obviously heavily inspired by the mass hysteria over Kuchisake onna. A woman with long hair and a white…

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