Easy Ways to Be Kinky

Sex can be liberating, mind-blowing, stress-reducing, soul-moving, or just plain fun. This much we know. And while we’re all for “spicing up your love life,” as the magazines like to call it, we’re pretty sure it’s not rocket science to do so — and certainly doesn’t require a new story every single month about it (we’re looking at you, Cosmo). So here it is, the definitive — and only — cheat sheet we’ll ever give you for mixing things up in the bedroom. And since we freely admit that this is hardly brain surgery, little, if any, explanation will be provided. Simply pick the ones you like, ignore the rest, and have a great time:

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Feminist or Not?: 'Friends With Benefits'

I went into Friends With Benefits with my paws up, ready to hate it (and also ready to very much enjoy the relief of the movie theater’s hyper-powered air conditioning).

I walked out wistful, hopeful, thoughtful, and desperate for the oppressive heat to counteract the ridiculously hyperactive air conditioning in the movie theater. Seriously, if the power grid fails, it will be because of multiplexes trying a little too hard to assuage their customers.

In any case, Friends With Benefits turned out to be the most gender-balanced romantic comedy I’ve seen in a long time — I might even compare it vaguely with When Harry Met Sally. Of course it’s more knowing, more meta, more technologically aware, and, especially, far more raunchy than that paragon of romantic comedies. But it combined the dude-ness of all those Judd Apatow movies — The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up – and the cool-chick sensibilities of a Bridesmaids (also Apatow’s production, incidentally), and emerged with fully formed male and female characters, all of them funny, none of them slighted. Glory be.

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Feminist Dating Dilemmas

After our “How to Be a Feminist Boyfriend” post sparked its share of debate, we realized how ripe for discussion this intersection of politics and personal life is. Just goes to show that heterosexual dating is an endless minefield in a world that’s otherwise pretty clear-cut when it comes to implementing feminism. (In areas like the workplace and the law, strict equality is the standard; in relationships, where power dynamics constantly switch, some of us like to be tied up in bed, and, in any case, we need men, by definition, it’s a little bit more fraught.) To that end, we offer up some thoughts on more specific situations a feminist can find herself in — and our thoughts about how to approach them, many culled from previous posts on related topics. As always, these are just suggestions — feel free to offer up your own. (We know you will!)

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How Anti-Abortion Laws Hurt Women Who Want Children

Struggling with infertility for the past seven years, I can see how the process — fraught with anger, disappointment, and constant confrontation with the seemingly effortless joy of others — would make some women bitter towards those who’ve had abortions or who support abortion rights.

After all, if more poor, or young, or desperate women were forced to have babies and give them up for adoption, there would be more infants available for us virtuous, relatively wealthy, mostly white families, right? And how dare some irresponsible whore throw away the chance we’re so very much hoping for? It’s easy to be bitter towards those who don’t want something that you want, and can’t have, not a little because it gives you a focus for your anger and hurt.

But my own efforts to have a baby have only made me more supportive of abortion rights, because here’s something I didn’t realize before I started seeing more doctors than I could count on my fingers: Nobody’s actually able to make, with any certainty, the female reproductive system work.

I don’t mean they don’t know how, generally, people get pregnant. I mean that the range of things that can go wrong is seemingly limitless. Responses to treatment, prognosis of conditions, all vary so wildly from person to person that the best medical advice on the planet often comes down to, “Well, let’s give this a whack and see what happens.” Or so the bruises on my abdomen and the overdrawn notices on my checking account can attest.

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Farewell, Betty Ford, and the Era of Republican Feminism

Betty Ford had higher poll numbers than her husband when he was president, and we can see why: The former First Lady, who died Friday at the age of 93, could, quite simply, not have been a cooler chick. The famous rehab center bearing her name aside — and that counts as quite an achievement in itself — the woman campaigned for the ERA, spoke in favor of abortion rights, and brought public attention to her battle with breast cancer. She was down with marijuana and premarital sex. While her husband was in the White House, she advocated vociferously for more women to be invited to state dinners on their own, not just as dates, during a time when many unmarried women still couldn’t get their own credit cards.

It’s telling, too, that her husband — and thus, presumably, she — was a Republican. We will probably never see the likes of her again. Yes, we’ve made progress, in the sense that there are now two viable female Republican candidates for president. But, alas, those candidates are “Evangelical feminists” Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin, who play up their submissiveness as good wives, mothers, and, most critically, anti-choice crusaders. These days, you can’t possibly be a Republican and a feminist — even if some moderate conservatives could get behind a woman who doesn’t sign a ridiculous marriage pledge, that whole choice thing is a dealbreaker in this play-to-the-extremist-base era. One can’t imagine even a Republican First Lady — much less a female candidate — so refreshingly individualistic as Betty Ford today. She will be missed.

Michele Bachmann: Female Candidate, Not For Women

The Republicans must be tickled pink that they have an ultra-conservative, outspoken female candidate who isn’t Sarah Palin (and, yes, we kinda are too). But just because Michele Bachmann is a kinder, gentler she-ro of the Right doesn’t make her any less threatening. Though it’s hard not to get excited about a woman presidential candidate — especially considering that we’ve only had a handful in the history of our country — she’s not the candidate women should support (because it doesn’t seem she supports them). Here are just a few reasons (in addition to being anti-gay and generally bigoted) why she’s not a feminist candidate — or even a moral one:

1. She advocates being a submissive wife, first and foremost — because that’s what God wants. The message to young women is: Go for it, girls, as long as you’ve adequately utilized your uterus and made your husband dinner.

2. She rejects the word “feminist.” She is running for PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Sorry, lady, but how the hell do you think you got this opportunity?

3. She, like Palin, talks a lot about “Real America” and has a political crush on the Founding Fathers, when she can figure out who’s who. It’s not anti-American to recognize that many of the dudes who helped create our country also supported slavery and the oppression of women. These facts are so often conveniently left out of the conversation.

4. She doesn’t get that her personal story about becoming Pro Life is actually one of the strongest arguments for choice. She had a miscarriage, which affected her deeply, as it does any woman. She then vowed to support life at all costs. That’s fantastic, really. Because when something in your life affects you so deeply it influences your political beliefs, that’s an action of choice, period.

5. Sure, she has the confidence and dignity to take media interviews from news outlets other than Fox News (something Sarah Palin simply won’t do), but it’s clear that her target constituency is primarily white, working-class Tea Partiers. This may be a strategy to win the Republican ticket –we’ve all seen that the Tea Party has real political muscle — but what’s she going to do if she  needs the whole country to vote for her?

Feminist or Not?: 'Teen Mom'

MTV’s Teen Mom — and the show from which it evolved, 16 and Pregnant — have taken their share of blame for everything from “glamorizing” teen pregnancy (with some critics even claiming girls were getting themselves knocked up now just to be on TV) to standing by as the young mothers have abused their mates and neglected their offspring. The latter criticism is more valid than the former — we have watched as Amber punched baby daddy Gary and as Farrah let her baby fall off a bed — though producers say they’re there to make a documentary, not to interfere with the girls’ lives. But as the subjects’ lives have also become tabloid targets, questions about whether there’s really some societal good to be gleaned from what some see as an exploitative show have become both murkier and more persistent.

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