Experts Agree: ‘Life & Style”s Shiloh Jolie-Pitt Gender-Panic is OFFENSIVE

we have concerns

GENDER:
Hey-o! We asked you on Wednesday afternoon if this cover of Life & Style officially crossed the line from “pisses us off” into “should piss everyone off.” After all, a lot of things piss us off, we are angry militant lesbians after all, didn’t you see SVU last night? Well, as we discovered 24 hours later, we’re right, it’s official! You heard it here first (because we have our finger on the pulse of cute tomboy sneakers), this shit is offensive.

Gawker hates it, Bitch hates it, Salon.com hates it, and — and!!! — GLAAD HATES IT!. Holler!

Life & Style is way off the mark with this outrageous coverage. Perpetuating gender stereotypes and targeting children for ridicule about the way they dress is unacceptable, regardless of their parent’s celebrity status. Media has a responsibility to differentiate between credible authorities and politically motivated (and usually self-proclaimed) ‘experts’ like Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton, who is not an expert on developmental issues or gender identity.”

Here’s the thing though… the ‘good people’ at ‘Life & Style’ still apparently has their heads up their Summers-Eved asses (btw that shit gives you yeast infections, ladies), as this is the statement they released to The Advocate:

Life & Style‘s cover story ‘Why Is Angelina Turning Shiloh Into a Boy?’ presents experts speaking from all viewpoints in the debate over Shiloh’s new look, which immediately ignited controversy all across the media. The feature provides our readers with a comprehensive look inside one of the biggest entertainment news stories right now.”

TO KILL A MOCKING-GIRL

REALLY? Adam Lambert could eat a hamburger with his Mom and it would be a bigger entertainment news story. Why? Because he’s an adult, and an entertainer!

But ‘cmon. I don’t have to say it, do I? Take it away, reader. Tell us what’s wrong with that statement from Life & Style.

And, big up to the National Center for Transgender Equality, in a statement to The Advocate:

The length of Shiloh’s hair or the clothes she wears are really matters for her and her parents to decide; this is a family that is known for their fashion. What’s important here is that every child, including Shiloh, has the opportunity to express herself and explore her world in a way that is safe and nurturing for her. Our society needs healthy, well-rounded children whose interests and tastes are as diverse as the children themselves and are not limited by outdated stereotypes of gender. Shiloh — and all other children — deserve the right to be themselves in ways that feel right to them as they learn and grow.”

LEARN AND GROW. That’s right, everybody. If you haven’t already, feel free to email our dear friends at Life & Style and let them know that next week, you’d rather hear about Kim Kardashian‘s fifteenth child/pound lost. As we said before, the PR people for Life & Style are Lindsay Ferraro ([email protected]) and Sarah Drabick ([email protected]) and the editor of Life & Style is Dan Wakeford ([email protected]).

ETA 4PM FRIDAY: The stylist quoted in the article is pissed/hurt/upset, and has written this letter to Jezebel, which essentially cements that Life & Style was lying about getting opinions from all sides. You can read the whole thing at Jezebel, here’s bits:

My career has been all about personal expression through clothing, and I am the biggest believer that any person should wear anything they choose, regardless of age or sex.

The quote I did provide to Life & Style actually praised Shiloh’s parents for letting her be who she wants to be, and included that she has two cool older brothers who she is probably trying to emulate, and that she looks up to, and that there is NOTHING at all wrong with it … quite the opposite. I was hoping it would influence other parents to let their children do the same.

Again, I am sorry that my words were misinterpreted, and please be assured that I would never say anything bad about any person, especially a child.

Really, I am in tears right now because this just makes me sick. In the past, L&S have often used me for style quotes, and they always give me final approval, so I trusted them for this piece, mistakenly. The actual quote began with “Some might think …” but they conveniently took that out to make it seem the thought was my own, and did not contact me for that final approval.

BETTER TOGETHER:
Living Together : Good Idea or Bad Idea? (@good)

FEMINISM:
Feminism is stronger than Glenn Beck’s slurs: “Words matter—in part because it is possible to change their meaning over time. (Think Dukakis and liberal.) But don’t take my word for it. Look at what’s happened to the word “feminist.” It’s gone from meaning a person who wants equality for men and women in all arenas to a code word for loveless, man-hating hags, as in Rush Limbaugh’s statement that “feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.” (@newsweek)

TRANS:
France no longer considers transsexualism to be a mental illness, making it the first country in the world to remove it from its list of mental disorders – a major victory when it comes to acceptance of this oft misunderstood condition. But the change does not yet advance legal status or medical rights for trans people. (@time)

OH CANADA:
Should O Canada Become More Gender Neutral? “I mean no disrespect for those who feel strongly on this issue but for heaven’s sake, we’ve got some very important challenges and every time the government is asked to do something real, it does something symbolic.” (@womanist musings)

DADT:
GAHHHHHH (@nytimes)

GAY PROM:
Everyone ready for a new round of lesbian student banned from bringing girlfriend to prom reports? (@queerty)

LESBIAN COMMERCIAL:
This lesbian Hyundai commercial that ran during the Olympics equates gay flirting with intelligence (the tagline: “Smart Is In” except it was restricted to Canada because Americans are scared of hot women who don’t need men.

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Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1764 articles for us.

24 Comments

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    The Life & Style debacle: although this incident is particularly atrocious, gossip mags are always saying one short sighted negative thing or another. Although this recent slight is totally inappropriate, I can’t help but see it merely as a gossip mag being a gossip mag. Gossip magazines, Women’s World, etc: its all cheap trash. If people don’t already understand this, then its going to be rather difficult to explain the concept of a gender spectrum to them. Not saying it’s not worth a go, but don’t be hard on yourselves if you can’t get through to them.

    OH CANADA: Our PM is no GW BUSH, but he (and his gov’t) have really done a good job at making Canada look bad these past few years. First it was trying to revoke gay marriage, then going back on Kyoto, then making us look like arseholes at Copenhagen. I mean, c’mon: Obama is prez of the world’s 2nd worst polluter (if I recall correctly), and he looked like prince charming in december. I know it was meant more in relation to the feminist perspective, but I couldn’t agree more with the womanist quotation you gals provided.

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      Hmm. I don’t know. Put the power of the US 10 years ago + Harper together and I think you’d have a GW Bush. No?

      I mostly wanted to see you guys lose the men’s hockey gold because of my resentment for Harper (who likely scored some political points from the upswing in patriotism from the golds and from hanging out with Gretzky et al. for two weeks) and the tar sands projects. Boo.

      PS Obama was no Prince Charming in Copenhagen. Not to the majority of the countries represented nor to the youth representing future generations. Well maybe he was like Prince Charming to a lesbian. Like… the biggest let down ever (as in, WAIT Prince Charming is a dude! I thought it was a cutesy andro nickname! Shit, I’m going home now -poor girl thought she might be in for the best lay of her life).

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    Oddly, the anthem was gender neutral until 1980. The proposal is actually to change the gender specific line in the anthem back to its original gender neutral wording.

    I am all for it.

    But that is neither here nor there really. Because as the Iggy (that’s what I call the opposition leader you quoted, roll with it) points out in the quote you’ve posted above, this discussion isn’t actually doing anything REAL. It isn’t part of a change in the Harper government’s historically “bad for women” way of governing, it is one symbolic gesture with no plan for further action or improvement to their policies. This shit is bananas, basically.

    The Conservative government has also been atrocious for the arts in Canada, which might seem unrelated but IMO no one in that government should even be able to open their mouths about anything even closely related to music, art, performance, etc. in order to score points with anybody until they stop being assholes and give us our art funding back.

    As I said on Twitter when I first read about this, #HarperSUCKS, #voteGreen.

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      not to mention the way the conservatives decimated Status of Women. i’m for the change too but it’s not like it’s going to turn Harper into some feminist hero.

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      So I’m a novice in all this (just took one course in Canadian enviro politics and am in the process of doing a bit of research on tar sands movement political opportunities)… but from what I’ve gathered #voteGreen is pretty futile (unless as a political statement of complete disenfranchisment) and therefore dangerous since the Green Party has no chance of winning (at least in the vast vast majority of districts) because of the single-member district plurality voting system.

      thoughts? fill-ins of my knowledge gaps?

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        Of course you’re correct in that the Green Party has no chance of winning a majority or minority government, however we have gained momentum in a number of electoral districts and I believe we’re only one or two elections away from elected Green Party MPs.

        The First Past the Post electoral system does present a challenge, and certainly an argument for voting Liberal over Green or NDP (I need to throw a little support the NDPs way or I will have to give back my Socialism Wins t-shirt and that would suck), but because of the growing support in Canada for electoral reform, I do think it is extremely important to vote FOR parties that very actively support electoral reform. Unless there is pressure from the voters, the Conservative and Liberal governments aren’t going to have any reason to aggressively reevaluate the system, and we HAVE to aggressively reevaluate the system.

        The main reason I have for you though to vote Green instead of settling for the Liberals, is that as long as the party receives over 2% of the national vote (last election we had almost 7%), they receives $1.75 per vote (in 2008 that added up to 1 million dollars!). Also, depending on how the party does in different electoral districts (if they achieve over 10% of the vote) they can get reimbursed for part of their local campaign funding. Regardless of anything else going on, a vote for the Green party is a direct financial contribution to the party. And b/c we need the $$$ to increase influence, gain support, and raise awareness, the votes are not wasted votes by any means.

        I wrote a piece for the Edmonton Journal a few years ago on this sort of thing that I am going to try to find. Simply b/c I am a little hung over and probably aren’t making nearly as much sense as my younger, more idealistic, less alcoholic, self did three years ago.

        Do you need more contacts re: tar sands? I have a few contacts that are quite involved (mostly academic types, political scientists etc.) that I could put you in touch with.

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          hmm, yes, can we chat a bit about these contacts? I am mostly reaching out to people in the movement to get their perceptions on the political opportunity structure and how it has impacted their strategies (namely to take a fair chunk of the movement to the US and Europe). But it might be good to talk to some political science academics re: their views on the POS (read: political opportunity structure or piece of shit, alternatively POSPOS). Email me valida at gmail. Thanks!

          RE: Green Party. Yea, makes sense what you’re saying. I guess I’m just more short-term risk averse. Glad that Instant Run-Off Voting is growing from my city to my county to my state… another option, I guess to push through voting reform.

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            The divide between Liberal politics and Conservative politics is not great enough for me to think the short term risks outweigh the long term benefit in increasing Green party vote percentages in every election we can, even if it is just a point or two at a time. But I have to admit my bias in saying that, as I have a lot of Liberal friends who would disagree and who aren’t nearly as hard on the party as I am. It simply is just difficult to get anyway with anything too Conservative in Canada on a national level. We don’t run the risk of George Bush politics and so I do feel safe throwing support behind the Green party because of that.

            I’ve sent some emails out, to see who has what going on right now. I sill email you some names as soon as I hear back. The tar sands are bringing the apocalypse. It’s good people are paying attention.

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      I’m all for changing Oh Canada back to the original gender neutral lyrics too. But the point is that Harper’s gov’t isn’t doing it because they really care. It’s for show.

      Do you think it’s a coincidence that this proposition was approved and made public only a few days after the Conservative bashing began over Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney? I tend not to.
      For more info on that see this article from the Toronto Globe and Mail http://bit.ly/d8O0Hy

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    As a French, I’m baffled to hear that “France no longer considers transsexualism to be a mental illness” (which is obviously great news) when we are still one of the only countries in Europe with no legal gay rights whatsoever.

    No civil partnership(PACS is bullshit, no mariage, no rights, not allowed to adopt as a gay couple or have a baby (women in France goes to Belgium for insemination) and it goes on and on and on.

    If you have a biological kid, and you die, your partner has no rights to take care of the kid most of the time, he/she will be taken back to the closest family. Only rare cases escaped that but it was a long process in front of a jury, and not in the law.
    If you’re sick in the hospital, your partner doesn’t have the right to be with you, as she’s not family.
    Etc etc…

    Oh and some politicians in the government still think gay people are pedophiles.

    So yeah, my country never ceases to amazed me with its contradictions and lack of common sense. We are at least 20 years behind. Yet we’re the first to change the status of transsexualism, so I don’t get it, I really don’t.

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    I just want to say that Life & Style’s statement about Shiloh was gross, it’s weird to me that anyone would publish a story like that, but even weirder that they are defending that choice like it’s a totally acceptable “big news story” what a 3-year-old is wearing. Oh and obvs their sources were not “comprehensive.”

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    I just wanted to say thank you for posting the email addresses for the PR people at Life & Style as I fired off my email to all three of them yesterday expressing my disdain at their outrageous and offensive cover.
    I don’t really care how many b.s. stories that L&S writes about Brad and Angelina… they are grownups and celebrities, but when you start using children of celebrities to sell more copy that just rankles me.
    I think that perhaps these writers (and I use that term loosely) over at L&S should concentrate on their own families and worry less about what wearing “boys” clothing and having short hair is doing to the psyche of Shiloh.
    I agree with everyone who has said Leave Shiloh Alone-and for that matter leave all the children of celebrites alone, at least until they are adults and can fight back.
    L&S should be ashamed of themselves, but they are likely having a good time with this, because for tabloids even negative talk means press (sadly), after all this cover is certainly being talked about by everyone since it hit shelves.

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    That lesbian car commercial… huh? Do Canadians have a different meaning for the word “smart”? The car is such a smart choice that it attracts women? I don’t know! I think this is one of those commercials that is just supposed to make yourself ask “what the hell does this have to do with anything” thereby getting you to remember the car/commercial after the life of its short airplay. Certainly is working for me.

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    Dear Life & Style,

    I can’t believe what poor parents some people are. I mean, why do Tom and Katie let poor Suri march around in such disabling footwear (http://www.personalhealthzone.com/high_heels.html)? Maybe they should take a lesson from Shiloh’s comfortable shoes. I also can’t believe how inconsistent Angelina and Brad are! Doesn’t every child psychologist preach that consistency is the key to successful parenting (http://allpsych.com/journal/parentingskills.html)? If that is the case, why are they letting Zaraha prance around like a feminine girl? Or Maddox and Pax dress like boys? Because OBVIOUSLY with Shiloh, they are pushing her to be a cross-dressing tranny, so the other kids should get the same treatment as well.
    I’m sure I could find other ways in which parents are messing up their kids, but I just don’t have the time to stalk children and take pictures of them without their parents consent from afar. We’re all so lucky that you do this for us.
    Thanks,

    A Sarcastic Cowgirl

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    I took my gf to prom, she wore a tux. And now I feel like one of the Little Rock 9 who got to experience something a lot of people wouldn’t be allowed to. I feel like I need to be even more grateful for having that experience. And that school is bloody evil for not letting her bring her gf.

    And wow, American, just wow.

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    How about the next issue of Life & Style being about the damaging psychological effects in children who are harassed by the tabloids. Clearly these peoples’ hearts are in the right place.

    I’m just waiting for the day when Shiloh turns out to be a well adjusted human and there’s a photo of Suri snorting coke off the back of a toilet with the head line “What went wrong??” on the cover.

    And besides, I refused to wear anything but pink and dresses as a kid and I turned out to be a total lez.

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    Um, Jezebel’s post has now been updated. Turns out the stylist who claims she was misquoted was lying. Life & Style has her email in which she said exactly what they said she said.

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    regarding Shiloh: one point that doesn’t seem to have been brought up, or mmmmaybe it has, is the uncomfortable fact that by beating into this gender stereotype thing and especially by referring to Shiloh as a “cross-dresser,” is that you are, by proxy, implying that a 3-year-old has a sexuality. This then somewhat weakens the argument against sexualizing children, which segues into a whole other, highly unsettling ballgame.

    Of course L&S’s whole angle is for shock value/Look-At-Angelina-and-Brad’s-Weird-Little-Kid scenario; it’s just fucked up that no one on the production team saw the obvious boundary they were charging across when they chose to emphasize a gender issue. IN A TODDLER.

    As humans, little boys and little girls have minimal discernible difference in their appearance. Sexual differences don’t really show up until adolescence slash puberty.

    Let the toddler be!

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