Bullock and McCarthy bring it in ‘The Heat’

UnknownThere have been quite a few strong female cops on television in the last three decades. Cagney and Lacey, Olivia Benson, Jane Tennison, Kate Beckett, Jane Rizzoli. On film? Not so much. Yeah, you’ve got a few FBI agents, like Clarice Starling. And Gracie Hart. But cops? Well… And female buddy cop movies? Nope.

That’s why “The Heat,” starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, which opened last weekend, is such a nice change. More, please!

Of course, being a pioneer in the genre puts tons of pressure on film-makers Paul Feig (who directs) and Katie Dippold (who wrote the screenplay). Fail, and they represent all women cops on film ever, and everyone goes back to thinking they won’t sell.

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Where’s Wonder Woman?

wonder-woman-ms-cover

In this guest post, Andrew Daar makes a strong argument for a Wonder Woman movie.

It’s no secret that superhero films are all the rage right now.  Movies featuring characters whose popularity transcends their comic book origins – Superman, Batman, Spider-Man – make hundreds of millions of dollars in their opening weekends, while many films featuring characters less universally known are also drawing huge crowds.  Iron Man 3 earned almost $400 million in the United States alone, and The Avengers – which featured heroes who, prior to the release of their stand-alone films in the preceding years, had nowhere near the recognition of the likes of Superman or Spider-Man – was the highest grossing film of 2012.  But despite this popularity, one doesn’t even need two hands to count how many theatrically released superhero films have featured women in the starring role. (Of course, sadly, this lack of women at the center of films isn’t limited to the superhero genre.  NPR’s Linda Holmes points out that, right now, it is nearly impossible to find films in cinemas that feature women in the starring roles, and calculated that the number of showtimes in her area for Man of Steel was over six times greater than the number showtimes of all female-centric films combined.) And on top of that, there has yet to be a theatrical film featuring Wonder Woman, arguably the most iconic female superhero in existence.

What gives?  Why have there been so few movies starring female superheroes, and why hasn’t the female superhero received her own big screen adventure yet?  Superman has had six films, Batman has had seven. Recently, executives greenlit two additional Spider-Man films to add to his (soon-to-be) five.  Why can’t Wonder Woman or Ms. Marvel or Black Canary or Jessica Jones get a film of her own?  And why has every female superhero-centered film that has been made been a colossal let-down?  (No, that isn’t hyperbole.  As I will note later, literally every superhero movie that has a woman in the lead role has been pretty terrible.)

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The End of DOMA and Prop 8: Why We Were Finally Ready

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image13726342In 2004, when gay and lesbian couples began marrying on the San Francisco courthouse steps, nervous Democrats worried that the spectacle of wedded bliss would turn future elections against them. They cautioned against being too supportive of gay causes, lest mythical “middle America” be turned off by too much enjoyment of equality.
Hard electoral losses in 2004 were credited largely to opportunistic bigot groups pushing state anti-gay measures to turn out the Republican base. Conservative Democrats were quick to say I Told You So.
“I believe it did energize a very conservative vote,” Senator Dianne Feinstein said at the time. “I think it gave them a position to rally around. I’m not casting a value judgment. I’m just saying I do believe that’s what happened.”
“So I think that whole issue has been too much, too fast, too soon,” she added. “And people aren’t ready for it.”
It only took ten years for marriage equality to go from political poison to electorally essential.
Twelve states, the District of Columbia and five Native American tribes now permit same-sex marriages, including the Midwest states of Iowa and Minnesota. Democratic lawmakers now routinely tout gay rights records during elections. The sitting vice president, then the president and first lady, all publicly supported it and were greeted not with shock or scandal but with shrugs of “it’s about time.”
What happened?
First, the simple passage of time. The electorate is getting younger and less socially conservative, as well as less demographically rigid. Young people voting for the first or second time aren’t concerned with who’s sexing whom, and they think your concern over it is more than a little creepy. Those legislators who can read the polls realize this country isn’t going back to the ’50s, no matter how loudly they shout about Adam and Steve.
For another, the world has gotten smaller. Our greater technological connectedness ensures that we see one another’s lives more clearly. The greater presence of out gay and lesbian people in media, as well as greater attention to the dangers of bullying and forcing people to hide who they are, can touch even those who do not personally know an openly gay person.
And last, gay people have gotten married, and the earth has not caved in. The skies have not fallen. Serpents have not begun to speak in human tongues, or whatever the hell apocalyptic scenario was supposed to ensue. Brave men and women, American heroes all, stood up proudly with those they loved and declared their intentions to build a life together.

We were always ready, it turned out, for that.


Bringing Down DOMA, Putting Prop 8 in its Rightful Place

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-same-sex-marriage-image29055416As the token gay lady at Sexy Feminist, I am especially ecstatic to share my thoughts on the Supreme Court’s rulings today.

To fully illustrate my glee on today’s decisions, I direct you to this little meme from Buzzfeed.

Seriously, my first thought is: finally. (As well as a huge sigh of relief.)

Not only was the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) deemed unconstitutional, but the court also dismissed California’s Proposition 8 case. The latter truly surprised me. My initial prediction was that the justices would strike down DOMA, but leave the notorious proposition alone. While long-term effects of the Prop 8 decision are a bit vague, it is clear to me that the court declared that the petitioners do not legal standing. In essence, the Supreme Court has validated the lower courts that have rejected Prop 8.

Now, I’m hopeful that with both positive outcomes, our country’s justice system will pave the way for future progress. That is to say it will be much harder (if not impossible) to defend discriminatory laws still on the books in individual states.

And for the states that have already legalized same-sex marriages, the defeat of DOMA carries an extra significance: your marriage is now federally recognized. (I think this calls for a second wedding and/or honeymoon, right?)

And speaking of the Feds, the President did not disappoint me. Obama released a statement on the landmark decision. The money quote: “The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”

To paraphrase my latest Facebook status, I knew I would live to see this moment, I just didn’t know it would come so soon. The snowball that began rolling at the beginning of my formative years is now a bona fide avalanche. In the decade plus since I’ve come out, I’ve witnessed the airings of “Queer as Folk” and “The L Word,” Massachusetts legalizing same-sex marriage, Ellen DeGeneres becoming a household name, the defeat of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; my home state of New Jersey legalizing civil unions, my residence of New York legalizing same-sex marriage, and today, the highest court in the land validating it all.

Now, as MC Hammer once rapped, we’re too legit to quit—in every sense of the phrase.


Amy Schumer, Mindy Kaling, and the Evolution of Girl Humor

600x400_insideamyschumer2Given the early coverage before the debut of Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer this spring, I figured we were in for another dirty-girl comedian — Schumer was most often compared to Whitney Cummings and Sarah Silverman. I don’t dislike either of those ladies, but both of them, when at their best, retain the whiff of women trying to make it in a man’s comedy world. Of course, it is a man’s comedy world, and I can’t blame them, and I loooved every bit of the shock value of The Sarah Silverman Program. (I also happen to enjoy the show Cummings co-created, 2 Broke Girls. We won’t talk about Whitney.) Cummings and Silverman do the comedy equivalent of business women wearing hyper-masculine, shoulder-padded suits in the ’80s as they fought their way to boardroom levels: They made it in an astonishingly male-dominated profession by out-boying the boys.

Schumer and the also-rising talent Mindy Kaling represent a subtle shift, however, from Cummings and Silverman. They don’t shy away from indelicate topics like sex or body humor — because most modern women are a few steps beyond Jane Austen-style manners. But they don’t try to beat the guys at their own game, either. Kaling showed with her Fox sitcom The Mindy Project this season that she can do a killer awkward-shower-sex scene and poke elaborate fun at women’s love-hate relationship with romance. Schumer’s show, which is wrapping up its first season, takes a similarly female approach — not “female” humor like an eye-rolling Cathy comic strip, but humor that’s simply unique to a heterosexual person with a vagina coming of age during the early 2000s. She gives us a sketch on, for instance, “porn from a female point of view,” which shows mostly how ridiculous (and occasionally gross) sex is for women, all hairy chests coming at them and being slammed repeatedly from behind. This stands in stark contrast to those “porn for women” send-ups that show men with waxed chests doing housework. Because, ha ha, women have no desires beyond a clean house! Schumer acknowledges both female desire and the silliness of what we must endure to fulfill it. And don’t even get me started on the sketch about the guy who falls in love with her because of her terrible perm. You just need to see it.

In fact, you just need to see both The Mindy Project (now in summer reruns!) and Inside Amy Schumer. They both make great summer viewing.


Marriage Equality: Reactions From Around the Web

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

With these words, The Supreme Court opened the door to gay marriage across the nation. It’s now legal in California and federal benefits will be available to same-sex couples in all states where the union is already legal. This is a human rights victory of historic proportions. Here’s how the world is reacting so far:

GoogleGoogle is a rainbow.

Cheering and crying outside the Supreme Court. Warning: it may make you weepy.

Edith Windsor, the octogenarian responsible for challenging DOMA, received the news of her victory with a call from the president. Check out her priceless reaction.

Stylite recalls how gay marriage has influenced the fashion indusrty.

The Atlantic takes us through the year’s ups and downs that led to this victory.

Rachel Maddow lays it out: “This is now decided as a nation. The argument is won.”

Some of the most outspoken celebrities in support of gay rights took to Twitter (along with the rest of the world) to share in the victory:

Lady Gaga: We stand tall today. So many fought for so long. Be proud, the prejudice are now the minority.

Ellen DeGeneres: It’s a supremely wonderful day for equality. Prop 8 is over, and so is DOMA. Congratulations everyone. And I mean everyone.

Ben Affleck: Big news from the Supreme Court. Goodbye . Hello .

Neil Patrick Harris: DOMA-it-just-lost-O Mr. Roboto! So, so happy for Edie, et al.

President Barack Obama: Today’s DOMA ruling is a historic step forward for #MarriageEquality. #LoveIsLove

And here’s our favorite pair of tweets from, respectively, one of the creators of “Lost” and just a regular guy celebrating a life-changing moment:

@DamonLindelof - I want to french Justice Kennedy SO hard right now.

@KoreyKuhl - I wish I could have “called in gay” for work today. So much to celebrate!


Links for Sexy Feminists: Gay Marriage, Transgender Rights, and more

Marriage Equality!: The SCOTUS has ruled that married gay and lesbian couples are eligible for the federal benefits of marriage. The ruling is not a total victory, since a couple who moved to an anti-gay marriage state could still lose state recognition. Yet the victory is monumental for this lesbian couple and others in which one party is not an American citizen.

Breaking Up: Why the way many women console their girlfriends after a breakup is spectacularly unhelpful.

Pro-Eating: Why do even the most body-positive women still feel the need to eat in secret?

Transgender Rights: Adorable first grader Coy won the right to use her school’s girls’ bathroom, in accordance with her gender identity.

Anti-Feminism: The anti-feminist right wing has taken on a new tactic: rebranding themselves as “freedom feminists.” Ugh.

Media Studies: Writing for the Nation, Jessica Valenti does an excellent job of critiquing media for taking the male perspective as the norm. On a lighter note, see if you can recognize yourself in this charming little cartoon on the pitfalls of feminist self-awareness–as one commentator notes, this just shows why we need more representation of female characters.

Women in the World: Amnesty International issued a statement in support of feminist protesters in Libya who created and circulated a controversial cartoon in favor of women’s rights. In nearby Morocco, local and European women gathered in solidarity with the Saharawi women. On a different note, Bloomberg profiles Jennifer Li, a Chinese woman with a high-flying business career.


The Feminism of ‘Soul Train’

35_soul train dancerTalented Friend of Sexy Feminist Lauren Rami drew this tremendous illustration of a Soul Train dancer (don’t you want to frame it and put it in some inspirational place in your apartment?) in homage to the women she loves to watch on the quintessential ’70s dance show. She wrote us a guest post about what inspired her.

I really, really love ’70s-era Soul Train. The powerful soul and funk music. The innovative, talented Soul Train Gang. The laid-back, effortlessly cool style. I’m fascinated by early seasons of the show for many reasons, but especially by how surprisingly feminist they were.

Now, I have no idea how women were being treated behind the scenes. While the cameras were rolling, though, the gender equality on that 1970s dance floor was remarkable. Dance moves weren’t gender-specific (the funky penguin didn’t discriminate), clothing was pretty unisex, and almost everyone danced independent of each other. No exploitation. No sexualization. Just people being together and expressing their love for music and dance. Unfortunately, this level playing field seemed to fade somewhere in the ’80s, after the onset of music videos…

The woman I’ve sketched above was a standout on one of my all-time favorite episodes, filmed in 1972. I don’t know her name, but I do know she was a dynamic, athletic, creative, and skilled performer. She was portrayed on the show as a dancer first and a woman second.

This illustration is my way of paying homage to the world Don Cornelius created in the early ’70s. Love, peace and soul.


Why Some Newsrooms Are Hotbeds of Sexism

witw-logoDiscussion of sexism in media has been heating up again — this time, it’s about the folks who bring us the news, not just how women are portrayed in said news. First we had that magazine cover that hailed a “new golden age” for print media, and featured only white male editors. Now we have a public pissing match between The New Republic and Politico over who’s slightly less sexist. The Daily Beast’s Women in the World investigates.


The Best Feminist Porn and Erotica

booksIn this guest post, Los Angeles-based sex therapist Moushumi Ghose, co-host of The Sex Talk web series, recommends some great female-centric porn and erotic options. For more feminist-friendly sex advice, join us at The Pleasure Chest in LA July 10, where we’ll be leading a panel discussion and Q&A with Ghose.

Not all porn is created equal. Feminist porn and erotica is a genre that caters to the feminine senses of lust sensuality, eroticism and sex, drawing from the emotion centers of pleasure but are for men and women alike. On a deeper level porn may be considered feminist because the actors are treated fairly, with respect and with equality in terms of wages, gender roles, consent, beauty, pleasure, and more. I have devised a list of my favorite feminist porn movies (and the sites where they can be accessed) as well as some of my favorite erotica from the last year. Please note that there is so much well-made erotica and porn out there made by women that this list is by no means all inclusive, nor is it in any particular order.

 

  1. Lust Cinema presents Cabaret Desire: A Swedish director who relocated to Barcelona, Erika Lust has created her most personal and sensual film to date. Erika Lust and Lust Cinema are committed to incorporating women’s voices into adult entertainment, and this movie is a sensual delicacy.
  2. Lesbian Curves by Courtney TroubleFor women by women, this sexy film explores the far reaches of girl-on-girl sensuality and sexuality.
  3. I.M. in Love, available on BrightDesire.comI am a sucker for sexy nerd stories, so this nears the top of my list.
  4. Best Women’s Erotica 2013 by Violet Blue: This compilation of erotica, selected and edited by Violet Blue, is playful, smart, and of course sexy—told from female perspectives, these stories highlight female pleasure in every story.
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