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WAM!It Yourself Blogathon: The Case Against a Battle of the Sexes

Have you been keeping up with the WAM! (Women, Action, and the Media) It Yourself unconference this week?  Today is the last day of the Blogathon and we’re talking about various aspects of gender and the media.  My post for this event focuses on the idea of the “battle of the sexes” and why it presents such a barrier to feminism and gender activism in media.

I got this idea from watching the first few episodes of Celebrity Apprentice Season Four, an endeavor I do not necessarily recommend to my readers.  I started watching because my favorite actress, Marlee Matlin, is on the show, and of course it’s not too surprising that a show like this would piss me off with all its ableism and misogyny.  I do think it provides an interesting example, though, of one place where reality TV consistently goes wrong–and it’s not just reality TV.

A battle of the sexes is supposed to be fun, funny, and rile up the audience.  Everyone can root for “their” team, and it’s a clear dividing line that we’re all used to in this society.  You can even make an argument that in this modern, “post-feminist” world, the battle of the sexes is updated and consistent with feminist goals.  Many of the shows that use a battle of the sexes have a strong female team, the women tend to be intelligent and kick ass, and the female viewership supposedly gets excited about this and ratings go up.

But something is seriously wrong with this picture.

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Possibly the coolest auction ever.

If only I had money, there are two things I would be all over this Christmas season. One is the Menu for Hope auction, which I almost always donate to, but the other is new, the WAM Feminist Auction. You have really got to get on this if you have any money this year. Some examples of items and their current bids:

  • Katha Pollitt will edit your fifteen-page manuscript for $201
  • Margaret Cho will take a day’s worth of pictures for you for $30
  • Alison Bechdel will create a comic strip just for you at $85
  • Melissa Harris Lacewell is giving away the black blazer she wears on the Rachel Maddow show for $100, plus a signed copy of her book
  • Kate Bornstein will pornographize a fairytale for you for $200
  • Lisa Jervis of Bitch Magazine will customize a recipe for $55
  • Sarah Haskins will record your outgoing voicemail message for $185
  • Ani di Franco autographed and custom airbrushed electric guitar, only $250

And other shiny stuff as well.  I have to admit, the MHL blazer would be very tempting if I weren’t broke.