Tag Archives: Sarah Palin

Debbie says:


Etta Candy deserves an entire blog post of her own, but the only things I know about her come from Rob Bricken and James Whitbrook’s piece at io9:

Created by William Moulton Marston only an issue after Wonder Woman’s debut, Etta Candy appeared like she should be the heroine’s comic relief. She was a goofy cartoon character who loved candy (carrying it everywhere), and she shouted strange catchphrases like “Woo woo!” and “For the love of chocolate!” But if you thought for a second that Etta was merely a joke character, she would have quickly corrected you, probably by punching you in the face.

Lucy Davis will play Etta in the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. If she’s portrayed one-half as bad-ass and radical as she is in the panels Bricken and Whitbrook show, she will completely eclipse Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman — and I’ll be in line to watch her do it.

Laurie and I both blogged about the 2008 Newsweek cover showing Sarah Palin’s real (or nearly real) skin, and it’s interesting to see that people are still talking about it in the context of women running for office. Julia Baird takes it on in the New York Times:

The real question here is about perfection: the standards by which women are judged, and the seemingly ever-present, imposed need to airbrush the images of women. Even vice-presidential candidates. This is something we must ask if we want to shrink the too-long list of things that distract people from what women actually say when we try to speak in public.

Perfection is also at issue in the discussion of Zoe Saldana’s casting as Nina Simone . Samantha Cowan at TakePart examines the controversy:

A new official poster and trailer for the movie shows Saldana wearing a prosthetic nose and dark face makeup, reigniting the controversy surrounding the decision to cast Saldana as the titular character in Nina. Saldana has faced criticism since news surfaced in 2012 that she would replace Mary J. Blige—who had to drop out owing to scheduling conflicts—to play the High Priestess of Soul. Saldana addressed the situation in 2013, telling Allure, “It doesn’t matter how much backlash I will get for it, I will honor and respect my black community because that’s who I am.”

Saldana, who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, has alternated between saying that people of color don’t exist and identifying as a black and Latina woman. Regardless of how Saldana identifies, many believe the role should have gone to an African American woman—or at least a woman with a darker skin tone and features that more closely resembled Simone’s.

When everyone is talking about how people (but mostly men) use Tinder and its ilk for faceless sex, a completely different kind of anonymous sex designed for women is apparently a new craze in London. Dominique Sisley reports at Dazed:

The process is simple. You head to the class, strip off from the waist down, and lie across an unknown, fully-clothed man while he strokes your clitoris. The aim? A shared meditational experience, and “the deeply human, deeply felt, and connected experience of orgasm”. …

Although [orgasmic meditation] is mostly marketed towards “free, hip, powerful” women, TurnON Britain (the official UK branch of the movement) also offers classes to men who feel a “willingness and desire to know the feminine” – or in other words, guys who could do with a little more guidance in that area. As the course summary eloquently puts it, “learning how to handle her pussy is equally important as learning how to handle the rest of her. Imagine what would be possible if you learned to do both?”

Leaving aside the unfortunate choice of “handle” in that quotation, this sounds like something from the 1970s, come back in a new guise. The article says that tens of thousands of young Londoners are participating; I hope they’re having fun!

In a completely different aspect of human sexuality,  uterus transplants are now a thing, and a good thing.  The procedure is designed for women with uterine factor infertility (UFI). I can’t help but wonder if and when it will become part of the suite of trans surgeries, and change the landscape of how pregnancy relates to gender.


We have, of course, been railing about BMI for decades. I’m still fond of my description of it as “braindead, meaningless, insidious” from 2007. Premiere statistics and data site fivethirtyeight.com is jumping on the bandwagon with this article by Katherine Hobson. Hobson is  too focused on “waist circumference” for my money, and I think she’s still deep in the belief that fat is bad for you, however it’s measured. Nonetheless, she goes against the grain of journalists everywhere by ending with a fat-positive quotation:

There’s another camp that doesn’t care about finding a better measure of excess body fat at all but would prefer to move beyond metrics of extra fat. “Sure, waist circumference is better than BMI, but the focus on fat and on body size has done us a disservice,” said A. Janet Tomiyama, a psychologist at UCLA and first author of the recent International Journal of Obesity study on BMI and health indicators. “It’s thrown off the focus on actual health markers.” And, she said, it has contributed to a stigma against the overweight.

She’d prefer to see a strategy that focuses instead on changing behavior. “If you’re eating healthy, exercising and sleeping well, I don’t care how much fat you have,” Tomiyama said.

And in that context,  Hobson should read Linda Bacon on fat ambassadors, allies, and detractors. Sadly, Bacon wrote this column because of how hard Sarai Walker, author of Dietland, is finding her new life as a fat ambassador.  Bacon has nothing new to say about allies and trolls: she just tells the truth well and clearly.

… a message to those who persist in “concern trolling” about health: Recognize this: respect should not be contingent on health or health habits. Educate yourself. Weight stigma and discrimination are much more health-damaging than fat tissue can ever be. If you are truly concerned about the health ramifications of someone’s large body, be part of the solution, not the problem: show others respect and compassion, rather than shaming and blaming people for their weight or suggesting they change it.

Lisa Hirsch sent us the Sarah Palin link. Otherwise, all are links from my regular reading, which includes Feministe, Shakesville, Sociological Images,, Feministing, io9, and TakePart, along with other sources. No, I don’t know why the background of this post is black; it happened during drafting, and my html skills don’t seem good enough to fix it.

Palin Cover: A Photographer’s View

Laurie says:

I’m back and having my usual re-entry problems. Lots of beach, redwoods, and almost no web for ten days will do that.

I just read Debbie’s post on the Newsweek cover of Sarah Palin, and the comments to that post. I’ve spent the better part of the last twenty years taking portraits with a strong sense of reality. So it’s not surprising that the topic got me thinking about photography choices, image size, cropping, retouching etc – in effect how we react to portraits.

Regardless of other reactions, this photo of Palin would be a real attention-grabber simply because we don’t see photos like this. I am wondering if it’s truly untouched, rather than subtly altered. I find it hard to believe that an art editor would be able to be completely hands off. And more to the point, we’re so unused to seeing any “flaws” in media images that some reality will seem almost super real. Even in Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, the photos of the women were subtly touched up to be real but not too real.

“I know I am grossly oversimplifying your great analysis here, but I feel relieved when I see pictures like that of politicians. While I do know there are age limits in place already, I certainly want mature adults running our government. I don’t want a politician, male or female, who looks like CGI or a blowup doll. Also, it’s humanizing.” –SJ

I think SJ’s reaction is interesting. We are seeing a relatively real image of a woman with maturity showing in her portrait. It should be ludicrous that not removing signs of maturity in the face a woman, politician or not, is considered insulting. And I agree with her that the reality of the image is humanizing.

Then there’s the crop – i.e. the choice to show part of her face in close up. I thought Adrian’s comment was really relevant.

“Intimate conversation usually happens when people are about arms-length apart. When a camera is that far away from somebody’s face, and the image looks natural and realistic, it can feel something like an intimate conversation. Most of the campaign images seem to be taken from either stage distance or conversation distance. This one looks so strange because it’s so much closer–only part of the face fits in the field of view, like the viewer is coming in for a kiss, instead of conversation. Even though it was probably taken with a telephoto lens, it’s an illusion of intimacy that feels off.”
— Adrian

There’s a lot happening here. We do like our politicians to be human but we also want them to be heroic. The photo Deb chose of the Newsweek cover of Hillary Clinton is a good example of that. In contrast, there is nothing heroic in this image of Palin.

From a photographic perspective, the size of the Palin portrait is borderline for intimacy. When you show faces larger than their actual size, images tend to lose their sense of intimacy and become distanced. But as Adrian says, the way in which the focus is closer than we’re used to creates a different kind of intimacy. Not the intimacy of recognition but rather of physical closeness. Her welcoming smile makes a big difference. If she had a serious expression, we’d experience a lot more distance.

I’m not even bothering to talk about rest of the gender issues. They’re too screamingly obvious.

This photo feels to me like a clever photo without much reality, that’s little more than skin deep.