About Heather Wood Rudulph

Heather Wood Rudúlph is the co-founder of SexyFeminist.com and recently FeministMommy.com. She's a seasoned editor and writer, most recently for The Huffington Post, AOL, DAYSPA magazine and Movies.com. She’s written and edited stories about entertainment, beauty, healthcare, fashion, travel, teens, spirituality, women's rights, civil rights and environmental practices. Her work has also appeared in Seventeen, Elle, Details.com and The Los Angeles Daily News. She teaches nonfiction writing for Gotham Writers Workshop and is co-author of the book, SEXY FEMINISM, to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in March, 2013. She has a journalism degree with a sociology minor from Syracuse University and lives in California with her husband and son.

Shattering The Myths About Weddings and Feminism

Oh, look, weddings are getting more feminist, cites a new survey that Time rightly calls out as “debatable at best.” The study points to a changing tide in wedding culture as follows: Fewer women are changing their names. Fewer women are wearing virginal white. Fewer women are blinging out on blood diamonds.

weddingYou can call these decisions feminist or you can just call them consequences of our socio-political times. Name identity has been fluid for years, and is not the sticking point it used to be for feminists–and can even be a feminist act. Wedding dresses are nothing if not a fashion statement, and with serious rock stars like Gwen Stefani and Tina Turner wearing frocks like these, why wouldn’t more women choose to be individual? (p.s., super feminist gals, those two). And diamonds are an expensive extravagance most can’t entertain in these hard economic times.

The study is narrow-minded and lazy, and, in my opinion, yet another way to co-opt the word, “feminism,” and misappropriate it for media attention. And, look, it worked.

The real feminist issues with marriage are as follows:

Equality. It needs to exist in the relationship, period. Whether it’s “man and wife,” “wife and wife,” or “man and man,” a feminist union is one that divides domestic and economic responsibilities equally.

Respect. Till death do you part or whatever, but you’d better treat that person fairly every day. Every party in a couple needs to advocate this for himself or herself.

Options. The more, the merrier. Couples can commit in more ways than traditional marriage. They can live together, blend families, join in domestic partnership, and even happily just date for as long as they damn well please. And gay couples are only just exploring their options.

The Culture of “The Breadwinner”: Despite career gains by women in nearly every industry, the wage gap still exists and workplace policies tend to view men as providers, and because of that they’re paid more. When women do decide to have children, they are subject to a whole new set of prejudices. Fighting for fair family leave is a feminist issue for everybody.

Less “Me”and More “We”: Stepping back from the princess fantasy of a bride’s “big day” is a move we could use to make for the sake of feminism–not to mention reality television programming. Is it ok to wear a pretty dress and exchange jewelry? Of course. But putting all the emphasis of the wedding on the bride, making it all about what she wears, how much she spent on her shoes, and the time it took to construct her hair is the antithesis of what marriage is supposed to be about. It also reinforces the sexist notion that a woman’s worth is all tied up in her looks.

Two of my favorite people are getting married next month and their wedding is shaping up to be one of the most personalized parties ever. There will be hand-painted celebration flags and flowers in hair (her), ice cream sandwiches and moonshine (him), and everybody they love standing around eating artisan tacos and cheering on their ability to share healthcare costs and someday buy a home together. And, of course, their lasting love.


Girls And The Future of Feminism

TuesdaySome of the most powerful leaders of the feminist movement today are females who aren’t yet old enough to drive. They can’t get into an after-hours club to see a favorite band, order a drink, buy cigarettes or vote. But they are talking about reproductive justice, sexual expression, and political accountability better than anyone right now.

It’s slowly, but loudly becoming clear that millennials (and younger) are not only relevant to the feminist discussion, they are shaping it. The online space has exploded with blogs about teens and feminism—namely, by feminist teens. Feminist academia is understanding, on a curriculum level, that studying this demographic is essential to understanding the very history of women’s studies, and most certainly it’s future. Young girls from Austin to Afghanistan are inciting the most provocative feminist discourse right now by simply living—and defending—their convictions.

Feminism is far from dead, as headlines so exhaustingly decree. In fact, girls are killing that very idea. Consider these young ladies who are leading the way:

Tuesday Cain: This 14-year-old from Austin became the center of an Internet media frenzy by speaking up about reproductive rights—in an awesome, witty way. When the Texas legislature recently voted to approve a sweeping round of abortion restrictions for the state, Tuesday joined her parents on the Capitol steps to protest. Her sign, written on the brightest power-pink poster board, read: “Jesus isn’t a dick; so keep him out of my vagina!”

Awesome, right?

She was immediately attacked by the conservative media, jerks on Twitter, and even her own state’s legislators. They called her a whore. They called her parents child predators. They called her ugly and yelled in her face. Her dad, pictured with Tuesday in the photo, wrote this eloquent defense of Tuesday and feminism[Read more...]

Why Are So Many Women Veterans Going Homeless?

bpwfoundation.orgI just read a headline that blew my mind: “Women veterans becoming the fastest-growing homeless population in the U.S.”

There are so many things troubling about that, it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with the fact that veterans in general are increasingly more likely to wind up homeless or in severe poverty once they re-enter civilian life. The Center for American Progress cites that 1 out of 7 homeless adults are veterans. And while the end to the war in Afghanistan is most certainly a good thing, it will bring an estimated 100,000 veterans home to live lives they may not know how to handle. Physical and mental injuries are all but guaranteed for most of them, yet social programs that support assistance such as mental health care, extended disability insurance and job training are quick to wind up on the Congressional cutting room floor. Oh, and the VA can’t find their application forms anyway. [Read more...]

Revisiting Queen Latifah

QueenLatifahWhen I first met Queen Latifah, I called her “ma’am” and got a lecture.

“Who you calling ma’am? My mother is not around.”

I was mortified. I was a newbie entertainment journalist who scored the dream of talking to one of my heroes. It was in 1999 when Latifah launched her (short-lived) eponymous talk show. I couldn’t figure out what to call her and show both respect and knowledge of her influential career. Do I call her Dana? Ms. Owens? Latifah? The Queen? (For the record, it’s “Latifah.”) I got nervous and fumbled, but quickly redeemed myself by gushing about how I grew up with her TV show, “Living Single,” and most of all was changed by her music. She told me, “You’re all right,” which I so wish she had written on a napkin so I could have framed it and looked to it in moments of self-doubt over all these years.

Listening to her music offers an equal ego boost.

Today she’s a Cover Girl and an Oscar-nominated actress, but when the world first met Queen Latifah, she was nothing short of a feminist revolutionary. Her debut album, “All Hail The Queen,” tackled topics such as black-on-black crime, socialized poverty and pretty much every pertinent feminist issue–from rape to domestic patriarchy–in the iconic single, “Ladies First.” Her flow–on par with LL Cool J and Chuck D–was as penetrating as her message: Look at me, respect me, listen to me–and bow down. The album sold more than 1 million copies. She was 19.  [Read more...]

5 Funny Women To Watch Online

Funny women are bringing it on TV lately. “The Mindy Project” is kicking ratings ass. “Veep” = Julia Louis-Dreyfus is still on TV (Dear JLD: never, ever, ever stop making television)! And Comedy Central just gave its first sketch show to a woman. “Inside Amy Schumer” gets to make as many sex jokes as every other comedy show–and this time the penis doesn’t dominate. Woot!

© Katie Goodman

© Katie Goodman

But sometimes we want our funny-woman fix right now, or at least when we’re not near our DVR. Luckily, the Web is full of comedic women. Here are five of our favorite sources for female funny.

“The Mindy Project” webisodes. Mindy Kaling’s show about a love-drunk OBGYN is one of our favorite things on television, ever. It’s both as comforting as a romantic comedy and as feminist-centric as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” At the end of every episode, we instantly want more. These bonus bits, available online for free, help to satiate while waiting for the next new show.

“Modern Lady” on Current TV. This Infomania segment picks up where the brilliant “Target Women” left off. Host Erin Gibson gives tongue-in-cheek commentary on everything from “building the perfect wife” to undergoing ear stapling to get skinny.

The Reductress. Take all the genius satire of The Onion, add a heavy dose of feminist sarcasm and you get this brilliant site. From the “funniest period tweets” to a primer on self-love “slut talk,” browsing through Reductress is like enjoying a never-ending inside joke–only this one has a brain.

Katie Goodman. This wildly talented singer/songwriter/actress leads the feminist vaudevillian troupe, Broad Comedy. But if you can’t make it to a live show, there is tons of goodness online: A podcast, music videos and feminist snark galore. It will make your day.

The Blogess.com. Writer Jenny Lawson lets it all hang out on this uncensored blog of all things woman. She writes about motherhood, depression, she swears a lot (and in all the right places), she celebrates other woman constantly, and she tries to stop nitpicking her flaws for the sake of feminism, even though that is really hard. All of it makes you laugh till you pee a little.

Tell us: Who are some of your favorite ladies on the Web?

Feminism Through Art: Meet Hangama Amiri

© Hangama Amiri

Looking at the painting, “Girl Under the Taliban,” (left) by Hangama Amiri is like being slapped across the face with a reality check. In it, a young woman sears a determined stare into the viewer’s mind with one eye while the other burns with fire. She’s clutching a textbook in one hand and a burqa in the other. It assaults you with its literal message of oppression, but confounds even more with its rich complexity. It’s the story of Nargis, a 13-year-old Afghan girl banned from seeking education under the Taliban. It is not a unique story, but it’s one that isn’t being told nearly enough.

“Girl” is the third in the series, “The Wind-Up Dolls of Kabul,” by artist Hangama Amiri. She has made it her mission to tell stories about Afghan women through her work.

Amiri could have had the same story as Nargis–or one much worse. Her family fled Afghanistan in 1996 when the Taliban took over. She spent several years as a refugee and finally settled in Canada, where she went to college, became an artist in residence and began her career. “The Wind-Up Dolls” series is Amiri’s first solo exhibition and has come to define her feminist identity as well as the arc of her artistic vision.

She talks to Sexy Feminist about her inspirations, the concept of feminism in Afghanistan, and the way art is an important part of the global discourse on the treatment of women. [Read more...]

Sexy Feminism Excerpt: Our Feminist Meet-Cute

To celebrate the publication of our book, Sexy Feminism, we’ll be sharing some short excerpts of it with you, the readers who helped make this book possible! 

Jennifer and I met when we were both on a journey to find—and become—our true selves. We met when both of our lives were in apparent disarray, because we had just lost the men in them. Jennifer had recently broken up with her fiancé, and I had just moved to New York City and left behind a ten-year relationship. A mutual friend recommended I connect with Jennifer because she thought we would click. What an understatement. We bonded first over broken hearts but quickly moved on to a shared passion to do something bigger than the traditional framework of our lives had outlined for us. In a way, we answered each other’s need to become a feminist revolutionary.

Our first “date” we went to see, appropriately, Bend It Like Beckham, a story of female soccer players and friendship. Afterward, as we talked, we agreed we hated current women’s magazines and wished we had our own publication for which to write, one that would print stories on things we cared about. Bust was just emerging as a more modern Ms. (and note: swoon!), but the newsstand was dominated by women’s self-help magazines—the kind that tells women how to do everything they already know how to do and how to fix everything that isn’t broken. Don’t get me wrong: we both loved fashion, makeup, entertainment, and sex. But if we must write about makeup and fashion, we reasoned, couldn’t we write about the ways they both empower and restrict us? Wasn’t there a lot to be said about how pop culture treats women? Shouldn’t someone be writing more in depth and frankly about women’s sex lives? Where was all the real information in women’s media?

[Read more...]

Translating Female Pop Stars’ Quotes on Feminism

The media likes to ask female pop stars about feminism. A lot. In fact, for some reason, young female singers are bombarded with this question so much that it has become its own news category. When someone like Taylor Swift or Beyonce answers the question, “Are you a feminist?”, the Internet blows up with critique. There never seems to be a right answer.

There’s a problem in both the phrasing of the question and also in these women’s comprehension of it. The media, particularly certain feminist blogs, are looking for provocative discourse and celebrities are easy targets. (Feministing subtly calls this an “annoying conversation.”) But it’s more than that. It’s problematic not only because it makes women the targets of scorn by other women, but also overlooks the bigger forces at work behind the entertainment industry that promote a patriarchal business structure and overwhelmingly value female artists for their sexuality rather than their talent.

These young women (and they are always young when they get this question for the first time) are not thinking about what it means to be a feminist at the exact moment a reporter points her microphone at them and asks them to identify with something they’re not quite sure of yet. They are not dumb, but perhaps they haven’t yet evolved into their feminist identities. And you know what? That’s perfectly okay, even for someone righteously living like a feminist without knowing it yet.

[Read more...]

Sexy Feminism Excerpt: Lessons Learned from Dieting

To celebrate the publication of our book, Sexy Feminism, we’ll be sharing some short excerpts of it with you, the readers who helped make this book possible! 

My dieting history is totally cliché and utterly unfeminist. I was a teenage dancer-cum-anorexic. I tried half a dozen fad diets and as many cleanses, and I regularly embarked on extreme workout regimens to prep for things like the beginning of a school year or a wedding. I actually can’t remember a time after adolescence when I wasn’t on some form of diet or weight-loss mission. I know; this all sucks for my feminist cred. So I was shocked when the one event in my life that I expected would throw my body image into disarray turned out to be the thing that made me chill out and stop dieting altogether. I got pregnant, gained forty pounds, and stopped obsessing.

To be truthful, it took some time and serious hard work to get my mental health in check. When I first stopped fitting in my regular clothes, I freaked out. I knew that was coming, but it happened at around four months, when I didn’t really have a baby bump yet; I was just a little bigger everywhere. I remember envying women clearly in their third trimesters—it’s impossible not to look adorable with a baby bump, no matter what you wear. I wanted that key accessory instead of just bigger thighs and boobs. When my bump finally came, I embraced it. I wore form-fitting dresses, leggings with slender tunics, and bikinis. I felt beautiful, mostly because I was so proud of the little life, now clearly showcased, causing all these changes. And dieting? Obviously: no. Not just because it’s unhealthy to restrict your food intake too much while pregnant (deadly, even), but also because I wanted to eat better than I ever had before—healthy, wholesome, delicious food—and as much of it as I needed.

[Read more...]

Sexy Feminism Excerpt: Compromise in Marriage Doesn’t Mean Throwing Out Feminism

To celebrate the publication of our book, Sexy Feminism, we’ll be sharing some short excerpts of it with you, the readers who helped make this book possible! Here, a portion of our chapter, “Feminist Relationships: From Long-Term to Life-Long Partnership.” 

I have some confessions: I make dinner for my husband, I added his name to mine (no hyphen), and I am the primary caregiver for our son. And, yes, I am a feminist in a feminist-leaning marriage. What does that mean? It means real life sometimes doesn’t allow for a perfect combination of empowerment and responsibility. It’s a relationship that requires compromise—sometimes more difficult than you’d ever imagined—to make things work. As is the case for so many heterosexual couples, my husband makes more money than I do, works in an industry that demands more of his time outside of the home, and carries fewer of the domestic responsibilities. But we make it work, feminism intact. Here’s what I learned from some of my own compromises:

Feminists make dinner too—even if we don’t like to. I am a domestic goddess of the most reluctant variety. When I lived alone, I used my refrigerator to store beauty products and never once turned on my oven. Now that I’m married and a mom, grabbing sushi and smoothies are not practical options. There are three of us who need to eat, and I have chosen to take on the responsibility of making sure we eat well.

[Read more...]

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