Wound Up Over the Hook-Up: Is It All That Revolutionary?

Urban Dictionary defines the term “hook-up” in two main ways: 1) verb – to engage in any type of sexual activity or 2) noun: a) purposely ambiguous, equivocal word to describe almost any sexual action, usually used to exaggerate or minimize what exactly happened. A hook-up can range from a make-out session to full out sex. b) person you hook up with.

As a member of Generation Y or the Millennials or whatever the hell those of us between the ages of 18 to 32 are supposed to be called these days, it seems that “hooking up” has always existed—we’ve just put a name on the activity (or activities, as the case may be). Both women and men have used sex in all its iterations for pure pleasure, business, and everything in between.

With the recent publication of Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men, talk of “hook-up culture” has resurfaced with a vengeance. (Although one can argue it has never truly disappeared since its emergence in last 10 to 15 years.) And as always, we have polarized this topic: on one hand, there are those who feel the hook-up culture has “liberated” women and has few or no negative consequences and on the other, we hear the voices of those proclaiming its immorality and inevitable danger. (As if hooking up were analogous to tightrope-walking without a net.)

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The Sexy Feminist Lingerie List

I’ve written before about how the right underthings can make a woman feel confident, sexy and invincible. But it’s also important for us to purchase our lingerie from the right places. A hot pink bra with black lace panties have a way of losing their feminist power if they’re acquired from a company that puts commercialism above all else—including, apparently, the common sense to not be blatantly racist in its campaigns.

Victoria’s Secret’s latest collection called Sexy Little Geisha was quickly pulled from its inventory after immediate, widespread backlash. And for good reason. The “cat woman” image of Asian women basically reduces them to sexual fetish objects (and, sadly, this stereotype is still quite prevalent in popular culture). Dear VS: Women don’t want to be angles, sexy school girls or wear bras with diamonds on them or thongs with chain metal g-strings. They just want underwear that works.

In our forthcoming book, Sexy Feminism, the editors of this website discuss in length the empowering nature of women’s clothing and lingerie. The next time you’re due for a new bra or want to spice up your sex life with a hot new underthing, shop consciously. Here are some brands that get our stamp of approval:

Betsey Johnson. She’s about the coolest lady in fashion,  period. Unapologetic for her sexy-ragamuffin style, BJ has become a fetish brand and a female businesswoman to admire. Her bras, quite simply, get the job done. With underwire that encases the whole breast (none of that tissue-stabbing demi-shaped nonsense), fabrics that conceal and protect, and adorable details, it’s clear these items are crafted as impeccably as Betsey Johnson couture.

Stella McCartney. She’s the daughter of music royalty but has become an empire of her own. Stella founded her brand on principles that protect the earth, and all of its inhabitants—from animals to garment workers. These ideals extend to her swoon-worthy lingerie collection.

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Links for Sexy Feminists: Patti Stanger blames Amy Poehler for divorce, women don’t speak up in meetings, and more …

Look, we enjoy watching The Millionaire Matchmaker, too. It’s a fascinating study in human behavior, like many dating shows, and Ms. Matchmaker Patti Stanger makes for good TV. She might even give advice that is often effective. But that doesn’t mean it’s good advice. Case in point, in her new People blog about celeb relationships, she blames Amy Poehler’s success for the actress’ recent breakup with husband Will Arnett, as Jezebel brought to our attention. First of all, we’re still mourning this breakup. Second of all, no one knows why other people break up. Not even their own mothers, sisters, brothers, best friends. Sometimes, not even the people themselves know. Third of all, Arnett and Poehler’s success differential isn’t even enough to warrant making them the poster children for the irritatingly persistent “Hollywood marriage breaks up because the lady makes more money.” This is like all those damn “Oscar curse” stories, or the Reese-Ryan faux analysis, or the Sandra Bullock-Jesse James speculation. Gross, all around.

A female veteran’s perspective on being part of the “killing machine,” from BlogHer.

This one’s from the file labeled, “Duh, But We’re Glad a Study Proved This So Maybe We Can Do Something About It Now”: Women speak 75 percent less in situations where they’re outnumbered by men, says new research.

Vasectomies rule, as The Frisky points out. Hooray for male-centric contraception.

Aww: Town Rallies for Bullied Teenage Girl to Be Homecoming Queen, YourTango reports.

Random Lessons in Feminist History: Mr. Elizabeth Cady Stanton

In this new recurring feature, we’ll tell you fun facts about feminist history that we happen to trip across in the course of research or just feel like discussing.

Lawyer and journalist Henry Brewster Stanton was among the few, but instrumental, prominent men (along with Frederick Douglass) who identified as women’s suffrage activists in the 1800s. He joined the cause, as many did, by first fighting for abolition. (He was moved to action by his affection for the slave woman who sang him to sleep at night as a child.) No doubt his wife, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, had a hand in persuading him, too. Love the fact that she continued to use her maiden name, hardly common at that time, and that this couple saw the value of campaigning for women’s rights together. Who knows how truly egalitarian their relationship was, or even could be, in the 19th Century. They traveled all over the world, both together and separately, speaking about the causes that mattered most to them. They also somehow had seven children while doing all of that! Henry died after an unexpected bout of pneumonia in 1887, while Elizabeth was in London campaigning for women’s voting rights.

5 Feminist TV Shows to Watch This Fall

In case you haven’t noticed, things are going relatively well in the feminist-TV realm. No longer are we forced to call a show “feminist” just because it has a lady crimesolver at its center! Nor because there is a lady who is funny in it, or even because there is a lady who runs the whole damn show! Here’s to hoping “peak vagina,” as one disgruntled male producer called the trend, lasts forever. Because, really, we’re more like at normal vagina, which is to say, close to 50 percent. Huge progress, yes, but also known as closer to equality.

Now. Onto our favorite shows for this fall (so far), new and old:

The Good Wife: This show is so damn good, isn’t it?

Homeland: This homeland-security drama is poised for a breakout season on the Downton Abbey level. It stars Claire Danes as, essentially, Kiefer Sutherland in 24. Yep, that’s pretty much all you need to know.

The Mindy Project: You knew this would be here. Creator/star Mindy Kaling, formerly Kelly of The Office, is a revelation here as an OB/GYN who’s got her career act together but is still working on her personal life. She combines killing it at work while still being super-girly (her character worships romantic comedies) while still making fun of all of the above (she knows romantic comedies are silly, but still). Yeah, hers is the latest in a string of female-driven comedies being compared to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The fact that hers is created by and starring a woman of color shows we’ve made at least a little progress since the ’70s.

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Study Finds Ladies’ ‘Cold Feet’ Predict Divorce

I can’t say it enough: “Cold feet” are not a harmless nuisance shake off as you barrel down the aisle toward your tulle-filled fantasy wedding. They are, in fact, a real indicator that something is wrong, as I learned when I cancelled my nuptials in the nick of time. And a new study backs me up: In the first scientific inquiry into whether pre-marital doubts lead to divorce, UCLA researchers found that, basically, they do. Jitters, especially among women, led to both higher divorce rates and less self-reported satisfaction.

“People think everybody has premarital doubts and you don’t have to worry about them,” said lead author Justin Lavner. “We found they are common but not benign.” I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to see someone taking this seriously. Our society, despite many advances in thinking about dating and marriage, still pushes heterosexual marriage as the only respectable way to live—nay, as one of the major signs of “winning” in life, especially for women. When I first started whispering my doubts to close friends and family, I heard it over and over: This is normal. Everyone has jitters. Ignore them and order this cake. But in this study of 464 newlyweds, women who had doubts before marriage were 2.5 times more likely to be divorced four years later. Women were less likely to have doubts, but theirs were more accurate in predicting the marriage’s dissolution. As study coauthor Thomas Bradbury said, “Do you think the doubts will go away when you have a mortgage and two kids? Don’t count on that.”

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Latest Anti-Choice Loophole Puts Virginia Women At Risk

On Friday, the Virginia State Board of Health reversed an earlier decision to exempt existing abortion clinics from a 2011 bill which enforces the same building requirements on these clinics as on hospitals. The 15-member board voted 13-2 in favor of reversing a “grandfather clause” approved in a 7-4 vote in June which would have exempted existing clinics from new and costly renovations in order to comply with the bill. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli had refused to certify the June approved exemption, and had warned board members regarding their legal liabilities if the exemption remained. As a result of the decision reversal, existing abortion clinics will be responsible for physical plant requirements such as hands-free faucets and corridor dimensions. Such regulations could put some clinics in danger of closing their doors, according to operators.

While the Attorney General’s engagement with the State Board of Health in the decision process clearly merits attention, the decision reversal should also serve as an opportunity to consider whether it is necessary for abortion clinics to meet new building requirements designed for hospitals. [Read more...]

Links for Sexy Feminists: Wishing rape on rapists, prioritizing marriage over kids, and more …

If you read one thing today, it should be Jessica Wakeman’s piece on The Frisky about this week’s Central Park rape victim publicly wishing rape upon her rapist. It’s an interesting debate: Is it ever okay to wish rape upon rapists, molesters, etc.? And we agree with Wakeman’s answer, which is: no. But we can’t blame the surprisingly vocal victim for her intense feelings this soon after the attack, of course, either.

While we don’t agree with certain reports that it’s the End of Men, we don’t mind a good “Call to Arms for Decent Men,” from Jezebel. And speaking of decent men, we aren’t a bit surprised by a survey on YourTango that shows counseling professionals think straight moms should prioritize their husbands over their kids. Don’t worry, you’ll take care of your kids, and they’ll turn out fine. But everybody will be happier if Mom and Dad are loving each other and working together.

new poll by the Society for Women’s Health Research concludes that two in five women of childbearing age don’t use birth control, mainly because they don’t think they can get pregnant. Wait, what? When we read that, we paused, suspicious of the survey having a biased angle. But, nope. It was conducted by a nonprofit women’s health group, reviewed by medical professionals and published in medical journals. Polls don’t represent the total population, of course, but this one reveals a scary truth of which we need to be reminded: lack of honest sex education hurts women, period.

Your activist link of the day: Help Equality Now fight Female Genital Mutilation by sending a message to the Indonesian government asking for the repeal of a Ministry of Health regulation that legitimizes the brutal practice.

Wither Paternity Leave in the Contraception Debate?

With a struggling economy and the explosion of debates about abortion and contraception, family leave for workers has not been at the center of campaign dialogue. Nonetheless, the issue of paid parental leave should be more important than ever to families in an era in which women are often primary breadwinners. Imagine the dilemma of a young couple thinking of starting a family, but whose budget and expenses center around the potential mother’s employment. Do you hold off and hope for the husband to advance to a more secure financial position in which you might be able to leave work? Do you try for the child now, and try to piece together sick days with help from family and friends? Or do you try to negotiate a better option with your employer, who, in most US states, has no legal obligation to provide any paid leave to start a family?

The issue of parental leave has received attention around the world, and US laws lag well behind most countries. In fact, earlier this year, Forbes reported that the US was one of only three countries in the world, along with Papua New Guinea and Swaziland, not to offer paid maternity leave. In addition, the US fails to provide any guaranteed leave (paid or unpaid) to fathers, while more than 50 countries worldwide guarantee new fathers paid leave.  The most important piece of legislation governing parental leave, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), applies only to women, and has important exceptions for businesses. For example, businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt, and employees must work within a specified radius of the workplace. Guaranteed leave is limited to 12 weeks during the year, and it is unpaid. Although the law has since been amended, the substantive components remain largely unchanged, and it continues to be the defining national legislation on the topic. Although states such as California and New Jersey have made inroads to state specific laws, in most places protections beyond those guaranteed by the FMLA are left to employers’ discretion. As a result, most new mothers and fathers struggle to balance the demands of a new family with the needs and financial necessities of the workplace.

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Links for Sexy Feminists: Where to Watch the DNC, Why Women Are Happy, More

Watch the Democratic National Convention on PBS. Why? Because co-hosts Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill are a) awesome professionals and b) the first all-female duo to host a presidential convention.

There’s good news and bad news ladies. The good news is, there’s finally a study out there that says women are happy—happier than men even!—and this is because we have a very special gene, so, it’s official. It’s about time scientists stopped trying to prove we’re lonely and miserable. The bad news: You’re totally going to be lonely and miserable because of your job, according to a new eHarmony study.

Alison Bechdel makes us laugh (in a good way) about homophobia, gender bias in media and, now, menopause, in this new Jezebel interview.

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