Friday High Five: Paid maternity leave and abandoned beauty

We share some of our favourite finds from around the internet this week.

30 abandoned places that look beautiful

Take a coffee break and have a long look at these eerily stunning images of 30 abandoned places from around the world - most of them caught in the process of being reclaimed by the natural world. (Though a few of them seem more the result of beautiful photography than intrinsic beauty.)

Christ of the Abyss, San Fruttoso, Italy

Christ of the Abyss, San Fruttoso, Italy

Paid maternity leave: For and against

The internet has been buzzing with debate over Tony Abbott’s ‘women of calibre’ paid maternity leave plan. Eva Cox has asked whether feminist criticism of Abbott’s plan is personality rather than policy based. She believes that Abbott’s version of paid parental leave ‘meets so many traditional feminist demands’ and supports its basis that parenting leave is a workplace entitlement, rather than a form of welfare.

On Overland, Zoe Dattner takes a radically different point of view, arguing against the idea of paid maternity leave altogether, calling it ‘a toxic and potentially harmful idea’. She argues for employers to find ways to integrate children and family life into the workplace, rather than paying women off to go away and parent.

Rashida Jones in The Believer

There’s a terrific interview with actor, writer and film-maker Rashida Jones in the current edition of The Believer, which touches on the changing movie business, roles for women, why she doesn’t want to date actors, her writing partnership with her best friend, making Celeste and Jesse Forever and growing up as the daughter of Quincy Jones.

I do think that if we’d made this film ten years ago, we wouldn’t have gone through so many machinations. Executives are so into their ‘quadrant language’ that they don’t know what to do with a movie that is romantic, and has some comedy, and is also a drama. You can’t have movies like Broadcast News anymore because they’re like, ‘We have a romantic comedy here… and we have a drama over here… and we don’t know where to put this.’

Rashida Jones with Andy Samberg in *Celeste and Jesse Forever*.

Rashida Jones with Andy Samberg in Celeste and Jesse Forever.

Oprah’s Book Club: Good or evil?

Is Oprah’s book club saving literature as a pursuit for the masses, or trivialising great novels - and patronising reluctant participants like Cormac McCarthy and Jonathan Franzen? A New Yorker article looks at the growth (and approach) of Oprah’s book club, and asks whether the quintessentially female mark of approval of an Oprah’s Book Club sticker on a book’s cover might scare away male readers. (As Franzen famously feared.)

she seized on the novel’s dedication page and, leaning forward, asked [Cormac McCarthy] gently, ‘Is this a love story to your son?’

It was the quintessential Oprah moment, the kind that made the Book Club thrive and her critics cringe. She was taking a novel about the end of the world, one that includes an image of a baby roasted on a spit, and making it palatable for talk-show television.

Oprah Winfrey talks to Cormac McCarthy about *The Road*.

Oprah Winfrey talks to Cormac McCarthy about The Road.

What would happen if gender roles in advertising were reversed?

This short video, made by Canadian university students, delivers a sharply effective (and occasionally chilling) message about how advertising persistently casts women as the lesser sex - in highly sexualised terms. It then cleverly reverses the roles in some of the ads it shares, including a topless man in suspenders suggestively licking a lollipop, kneeling on the floor wearing knee socks. The violent advertising images for high-end brands are especially shocking – like the Jimmy Choo ad featuring a woman lolling in a car boot in the desert, while a man beside her digs a hole.

Warning: some of these images are disturbing.

Representations of Gender in Advertising

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