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Wonk’s Saturday Reads: Rihanna, MAC, and Hillary (Fighting Sexual Violence)

Vintage cafe postcard, circa 1920

Note: I got the postcard above from here, which
seems to have originated from a site that’s now defunct,
but there’s another (slightly grainier) scan on flickr.

Morning, news junkies. You know the drill. Grab a cuppa something (like the French Flappers are doing to the right) and read on…

(Oh and if you were one of the 18 million who voted for Hillary, don’t miss today’s historical trivia at the end!)

Rihanna’s “Man Down”: What Do You Think?

Here’s a link to the youtube if you haven’t seen the video yet, and also be sure to check out Rihanna firing back at her critics.

I’ll say upfront as a general disclaimer that I’m a firm believer in nonviolence (cases of self-defense being the obvious exception). Nonetheless, I find it disturbing that comparatively speaking Rihanna has caught more flack, judgment, and reproach— for depicting a character whose constant lyrical refrains pointedly ask how could she take the life of somebody’s son, even though that “somebody’s son” has just sexually assaulted her– as opposed to Eminem, who rose to fame largely on the popularity of songs where he fantasizes about brutally killing his wife for infidelity. Of course Eminem’s songs always draw controversy too, but that has only ever seemed to fuel his star power. In Rihanna’s case, a female enterainment reporter has written a post on Huffpo declaring Rihanna the falling star of the week. At any rate, I don’t think Rihanna’s video or lyrics are even saying that violence is the answer (which is what her critics are charging), but I’ll let you judge for yourself and have at it in the comments. The other angle to this I’d like to put out there for discussion is that Rihanna’s character in the video embraces the sensual human being she is rather than covering it up in a burka (as the Crunk Feminist Collective discusses at the link.)


Click to Go Viva Glam!

Continuing on the theme of confronting the problem of violence against women… On Thursday, Madame Secretary announced A New Public-Private Partnership With the MAC AIDS Fund to Combat Gender-Based Violence in South Africa. Here is a link to the Mac Aids Fund website.

Ahead of the live stream of Hillary’s remarks on the state.gov site, MTV Act’s Caroline Walker previewed Hillary’s announcement — Hillary Clinton Goes Viva Glam, Teams Up With M•A•C AIDS Fund:

Since 1994, the M•A•C AIDS Fund has been raising money to combat AIDS and its large scale effects, both domestically and abroad. Let’s think for a moment where the world’s sociocultural temperature fell around perceptions of the causes and prevention of HIV/AIDS in the early ’90s: not so informed, not so solution-focused. M•A•C truly did and continues to trailblaze by crushing stigma and engaging consumers.

Celebrities–including inaugural ambassador RuPaul–have been lining up for 26 years to endorse Viva Glam lipsticks, products that have raised $200+ million by putting 100 of sale proceeds toward the foundation. Lady Gaga’s shade is the latest installment, officially described as “light, warm beige,” best visualized as matching her condom-inspired flesh-toned Latex power suit of ’10. Safe sex is all the rage.

But back to Hillary. In a fierce effort to connect the public and private sector in global solutions to combating AIDS, the U.S. government is joining forces with the M•A•C AIDS Fund to provide much needed money and support to victims of rape, sexual violence and infection in South Africa. In addition to the expected health care and educational services, the partnership will empower these women to stand strong by providing psychological counseling and legal services as recourse for assault.

Walker ends her post on a lighthearted note: “If Hill shows up in the original ‘intense brownish-blue red (matte)’ Viva Glam I, she’s getting my vote for any and all future endeavors.”

I’m not sure what shade of lipstick Hillary was wearing, but for what it’s worth, she WAS wearing an intensely brown jacket that is reminiscent of the design she and Amy Poehler wore on SNL. Not exactly the same jacket though as far as I can tell.

You can see the video of Hill’s announcement for yourself–lipstick, foreign policy, pantsuit and all–at Dipnote. From the transcript:

The partnership we are announcing today is part of that wide-ranging approach, because when a woman is raped or if she cannot negotiate with her partner for safe sex, she risks being exposed to HIV. We cannot stop the epidemic of HIV unless we also address the epidemic of violence against women.

I’m going to tie in a couple items specifically about AIDS awareness in a moment, but a few more Hillary links first:

(Slideshow via Cooliris, h/t Still4Hill.)

(This is the kind of response we need to the war on women on the domestic stage here in the US.)

AIDS Anniversary

Sunday marks 30 years since the first AIDS cases were reported. Since then, H.I.V. science has been translated into prevention and treatment breakthroughs, one of the greatest being the antiretroviral treatment that has ensured that millions of H.I.V.-positive people can lead healthy lives.


A cure will require funding commitments, strong community engagement, rigorous and innovative scientific endeavor and, above all, further collaborative multidisciplinary science with a better connection between basic and clinical research — in short, all the same ingredients that got us where we are today with the global antiretroviral treatment.

Thirty years is a long time and yes, we still do not have a cure. But if we do not seriously start looking for one, now that the science is telling us that perhaps we should be, do we want to be here in another 30 years regretting that we did not try?

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi is director of the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Unit at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and president-elect of the International AIDS Society. With Luc Montagnier, she was awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of H.I.V.

HIV Infections Dropped 25 Percent in Last Decade…But the health gains are unevenly distributed and fall short of international targets.

Wapo’s Monica Hesse: Listen up, fellas: Naked man-parts? Not so sexy.

Not the best segue way from discussing AIDS awareness and research, but I just had to include this. It’s in reference to all the crotch shots that have been in the news in recent years. Teaser:

We polled some women. Really, they would like to see . . .

“I would like a photo of a made bed,” says Kathryn Roberts, who works at a law firm in Washington. “I would take rose petals, but I want them on top of a made bed.” And not that fake kind of made, either, where the comforter is smooth but the sheets are a jumbled mess.

“Or laundry,” adds her friend Andrea Neurohr.

“Folded laundry,” elaborates Roberts. “Maybe in a wicker basket.”

Preferably laundry not folded by the maid he had a love child with.

That “wicker basket” add-on is a hoot.

Incidentally, on the topic of what men can do to seduce women, I saw a classic King of Queens rerun the other day–the episode where Kevin James shows Leah Remini how to pole dance. I’m embedding it here for anyone who could use the extra laugh today.

The Identity Politics of This Season’s Top Chef Masters

If Bravo bores the daylights out of you, then just skip this… but what did I tell you the other week? They’ve totally made it obvious that their season 3 gimmick/hook is whether or not a woman will finally win. So after a crazy science fair episode where the chefs were cooking with beakers and bunsen burners and serving their food in petri dishes, we’re down to the last four: Traci, Naomi, and Mary Sue–three strong female contestants who have all racked up wins in the quickfire and elimination rounds–and Floyd, who god love him ’cause he’s Indian and he can pull off serving Buffalo burger with paneer. But, he hasn’t won any quickfire yet–and the only elimination round he’s won is the buffalo and paneer. Then again last season’s winner didn’t start racking up wins until the penultimate episode either… so who knows. Either way, whether it’s a girl chef or a Desi chef who wins, Bravo managed to cover both my demographics this time, Lol. I’m really pulling for all the girls, though, especially Traci.

Alice Paul sewing the suffrage flag.

June 4-7 in History

“I always feel … the movement is a sort of mosaic. Each of us puts in one little stone, and then you get a great mosaic at the end.”

Alice Stokes Paul, suffragist; U.S. Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment on June 4, 1919 (ratified on August 18, 1920).

Shirley Chisholm, 1972

“I am a candidate for the Presidency of the United States. I make that statement proudly, in the full knowledge that, as a black person and as a female person, I do not have a chance of actually gaining that office in this election year. I make that statement seriously, knowing that my candidacy itself can change the face and future of American politics — that it will be important to the needs and hopes of every one of you — even though, in the conventional sense, I will not win.”

— Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm, June 4, 1972.

Hillary wins New Hampshire

“You can be so proud that, from now on, it will be unremarkable for a woman to win primary state victories, unremarkable to have a woman in a close race to be our nominee, unremarkable to think that a woman can be the President of the United States. And that is truly remarkable.”

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, June 7, 2008

The real deal ran in 2008, but the Democrats passed up on her, so if it’s a tea partier who happens to put her one little stone in this time, the thanks for that can be laid just as much at the DNC’s doorstep as it can be at the RNC’s.

Besides, the Ds and/or Rs will have to put a woman at the top of one of their tickets before I’ll believe they’re capable.

And if you’re already tired of the Palin bus-to-nowhere, here’s a contrast from the other side: Roseanne Barr’s double campaign for President of the United States/Prime Minister of Israel. Her “Green Tea Party” platform is a wild, albeit hyperbolic, glimpse into what a populist left corollary to the tea party would like if there was a national figure who they could rally around right now. Then again, if it’s going to be an equal and opposite reaction to the lunatic right, it needs to be hyperbolic. Obligatory disclaimer: Roseanne runs her mouth with no filter on her as usual, so you know…filter out the stuff that works as brilliant social satire and/or commentary, and for the parts that don’t…just use brain bleach as needed! I skipped most of the “re-education camp” paragraphs, but I did smile at her “people-ism” hybrid of socialism and capitalism and the “Change the demographics of government” section. Those two were keepers.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. What are you reading and blogging about this Saturday?

I’d also love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve blogged about…

  • What do you think of that Rihanna video? Hit or Miss?
  • Will we ever find a cure to AIDS?
  • Will a woman run in 2012?
  • What’s the “folded laundry in a wicker basket” scenario that you’d rather see?
  • And, most importantly of course, who is going to win Top Chef Masters?

P.S. Just saw on yahoo that Pink gave birth to a baby girl! Isn’t that sweet? Pink is one female pop artist of my generation who just ROCKS, plain and simple. Raising my glass to Pink and little Willow Sage Hart.

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]


2 Responses

  1. Wonk, it is the link from Sky Dancing to Liberal Rapture which leads to your Dec. 4, 2010 post. I believe it is part of a vast, left-wing, pro-Hillary conspiracy lead by BostonBoomer and Dak to draft our girl, and thus save the planet. Good plan. 🙂

  2. Your link to the Rihannon vid has been taken down. But I read the lyrics, and here’s my assessment:

    It totally falls within artistic license! Compare to Hendrix’ “Hey, Joe” and
    Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got a Gun”, the former which gets frequent airplay as is:

    Hey Joe, where you goin’ with that gun in your hand?/
    I’m goin down to shoot my old lady/
    You know I caught her messin’ ’round with another man.

    while the latter has the lyric “She had to take him down easy and put a bullet in his brain” deleted on most stations.

    Apparently, cheating on your boyfriend is a capital offense, while raping your stepdaughter merits counseling or something. (Aerosmith’s “Janie” lyrics live in concert, btw, are even more biting.)

    Nor does anyone seem to have a problem with Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”:

    Mama I just killed a man/
    Put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger, now he’s dead

    or the cop-killing exhortations of recent WH guest, Common (Criminal).

    Most definitely multiple double standards here.

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