5 Feminist Shows to Watch This Winter

The Winter TV season is here, full of familiar guilty pleasures and still more sassy female sitcoms to add to the bumper crop of the fall (Are You There, Chelsea?). Here we pick our favorites among them — chase any viewing of The Bachelor with these female stereotype-challenging series:

Alcatraz: This one seems made for this list. A trio led by a woman (Sarah Jones) investigates weird stuff going down at the creepy, famous prison that has been the setting for a billion dude movies. And the show was co-created by one of Lost‘s few female writers, Elizabeth Sarnoff. Exec producer J.J. Abrams delivers another one for the strong ladies.

House of Lies: Showtime’s latest edgy sitcom follows a team of brash management consultants led by Don Cheadle. It’s full of the kind of locker-room talk high-paid professions still traffic in, and Kristin Bell’s Jeannie dishes it out and takes it the way we imagine any successful businesswoman must. But she hasn’t checked her womanhood at the door and knows she needs to make different choices than a man to get ahead — like harvesting and freezing her eggs for later. Watching Cheadle’s character parent his adolescent son, who’s aggressively ambiguous about his sexuality, is another interesting depiction of gender politics.

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Links for Sexy Feminists: Start Being Bitchy, Stop Wearing Fur, and more …

UCLA will hold its Thinking Gender conference Feb. 3: The event, which is open to the public, will include research presentations on women in arts, “subcultures of rebellious women” (think Riot Grrl), and “creating community and meaning with household artifacts” (think cookbooks). We’ll be covering several sessions ourselves.

Jezebel tells us “how to quit worrying about being bitchy”: Helpful assertiveness advice for those of us taught ladies should be nice.

Born Free USA is holding a fur-free fashion design competition: Fashion + consciousness = good fun.

YourTango talks depression and marriage: A writer who’s battled depression for two decades comes clean about how she gets through as a wife and mom.

We’re officially obsessed with RookieMag: The teen site is now running a series about girls’ relationship to drugs and alcohol.

Guest Post: Why Feminists Need to Keep Talking About the Pill

Writer Rachel Friedman (The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost) worries that we’re using the pill for purposes that go beyond birth control — and mean too much dependence on hormone-based drugs. We here at SexyFeminist are, of course, all for birth control because of its liberating effect it has on women’s lives, but we also think it’s always worth asking whether you’re on the right medication — or whether you need medication at all. (Intrauterine devices are so totally in now!) We urge you to hear her out.

The birth control pill used to have a very specific, very important goal: preventing pregnancy. The pill helped liberate our mothers.  It ushered in an era in which contraception was separate from the act of intercourse and almost single-handedly reconstructed the doctor/patient relationship.  With the advent of the pill, scores of empowered female patients arrived at their doctor’s office demanding the prescription they needed.

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Links for Sexy Feminists: Political Wives, Roe v. Wade Anniversary, and more …

YourTango asks if political wives hold all the power in their relationships: While we salute candidates who respect their wives, and we love women who support their husbands, we’d rather see some truly qualified ladies running for our highest office themselves. Miss you, Hillary!

If you’re in New York …: Check out Barnard’s Athena Film Festival, which celebrates women in movie-making next month.

Happy Roe v. Wade anniversary!: Recognize the landmark Supreme Court decision on abortion at events around the country this week. We’ll be live-Tweeting from a screening of Jennifer Baumgardner’s I Had an Abortion documentary and relaunch of the “I Had an Abortion” T-shirt at New York’s Bluestockings bookstore tonight.

Sexy Feminists Read: Jennifer Baumgardner’s ‘F ‘em: Goo Goo, Gaga, and Some Thoughts on Balls

We’ll admit it: Jennifer Baumgardner is a bit of a longtime feminist crush of ours. The Manifesta co-author (with Amy Richards) and Third Wave activist offers up a collection of essays on current feminist topics, from motherhood to Lady Gaga, in her new book, F ‘em. We chatted with her about the changing state of the movement, the feminist merits of Eminem and Louis CK, and abstinence worship.

How has feminism changed since you wrote Manifesta?

I guess the obvious things are the things that we didn’t anticipate at all like the Internet and social media and the ways that feminists have popularized the idea that gender might be on a continuum as opposed to just sexuality. That means there’s a lot more room for men.

How have your own feelings about feminism changed since then?

I used to be a little bit more bumper-sticker-slogan. And in some ways I’m more radical. Before I didn’t really trust that I had to figure out these things for myself. At 41 I’m a little bit better at figuring it out. For example, my assumptions about what abortion was like that were based on talking to people who were in the business of lobbying. I’ve realized that those political institutions didn’t have to be my focus.

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Feminist Action of the Week: Support Female Sports!

While everyone in America is obsessing over football for the next few weeks as the Super Bowl approaches, we’re thinking about something else: Girl teams. Female athletes will never get the same recognition or opportunities as male athletes until the money — i.e., the public attention — is there. Take some time to learn about your local women’s basketball, soccer, or even football teams, then buy some tickets, or, hell, even start a team if there isn’t one nearby.

Links for Sexy Feminists: New Axe Body Spray for Women (Yay?), ‘The Margaret Thatcher Movie We Don’t Need,’ and more …

Jezebel boldly declares new women’s body spray from Axe a “step forward for feminism”: “A huge battle has been won in the fight for gender equality. While women still earn less than men doing the same jobs and there are groups working tirelessly to restrict our reproductive rights, we’re finally free to douse ourselves in eau de frat boy.” So true.

Laura Flanders at The Nation calls The Iron Lady “the Margaret Thatcher movie we don’t need”: Don’t conflate the awesomeness of Meryl Streep with the right-wing prime minister, Flanders warns.

Glam rock guys should be your style icons: RookieMag.com says it, and we believe it.

Ms. tallies up the toll of the 2011 War on Women: A record-breaking 92 state-level restrictions on abortion passed. Backlash, anyone?

Nearly 1 in 5 women has been raped: And other shocking statistics about sexual and domestic assault from a new Centers for Disease Control report, broken down by YourTango.com.

Dora, Miss Piggy, and More: Feminist Icons from Kid Culture

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Well before the Spice Girls were running around yelling about “Girl Power,” feminism was a part of kid culture. So many of us have always wanted to be like some of the smart, independent, adventurous female characters from our youth. And while there is always room for more feminist characters, here are some of our favorite feminist icons in kid culture, past and present.
What feminist characters from your childhood inspired you? Tell us in the comments below!
Photo: tvguide.com

Our Favorite Feminist Books of All Time

While researching our upcoming book, The Feminist Bombshell, we’ve picked up a lot of feminist classics — and realized that the best books hit us at deeper levels each time we re-read them throughout our lives. Here, a few that have particularly re-ignited our feminist fires. Perhaps they’ll do the same for you:

Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards: Released in 2000 (and re-released for its tenth anniversary), this comprehensive guide to feminism past and present proved that the movement was alive and well at the turn of the millennium while inspiring thousands of new Third Wavers. Bonus: an exhaustive resource list to help you find causes, publications, and organizations to put your activism into action.

Women, Race, & Class, by Angela Y. Davis: This socialist-leaning analysis of the racism behind the women’s movement — and the classism behind both the Civil Rights and women’s movements — is as mind-blowing today as it was when it was written in 1981. Alas, even our feminist heroes, including Margaret Sanger and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, leaned on racism to push their own agendas. More importantly, phenomena that Davis succinctly dissects, such as “the myth of the black rapist,” are as relevant now as they were then.

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Finding the Feminism In Green Beauty

I have loved makeup and beauty since the time I could remember what it was. My mother wasn’t a glam goddess–she rocked a beautiful, no-makeup hippie aesthetic–but she was devoted to her skin care. And it paid off; her skin was flawless. For Euro-blooded Southern California ladies, this is a tough feat. Skin care lectures came as early as sex talks from my mother: Always wear sunscreen. Never go to sleep with makeup on. Drink tons of water. It rubbed off on me; I’m as adamant about these rules as I am about brushing my teeth and breathing.

That devotion led to beauty-product overload. I became obsessed with trying any and all products to find the very best. This type of vanity can make a gal poor, but I was lucky: I spent several years as a beauty editor and had access to professional skincare products of all types, regular facials and makeup as far as the eye could see. This experience gave me the skills to spot parabens (preservatives that can cause cancer) and faulty claims in complicated ingredients listings. But it also made me a product junkie. I needed to reform.

My skin craved consistency and my conscience weighed heavily from all the consumption–and potential toxins I was releasing. So I threw it all out, responsibly. I recycled all the packaging and containers that I could, properly disposed of shampoos and nail polishes, and donated the rest to women’s shelters, which are always in desperate need of basic hygiene products; a few tubes of unused lipstick can be luxuries.

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