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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The She Hulk-Mary Tyler Moore Connection

411Nws28DOL._SY300_Marta Acosta, the author of  The She-Hulk Diariesguest blogs here about her heroines — She-Hulk and The Mary Tyler Moore Show‘s Mary Richards.


Sometimes we think we’re the only ones still crazy about an old television series. We channel surf and always stop when we see the images we love, listening to dialogue that still makes us laugh. The Husband says, “Haven’t you seen that before?” and I say, “Haven’t you seen documentaries about the Ottoman Empire before?” Because, really, no matter how many of those documentaries he’s seen, he’s never been able to explain the Ottoman Empire connection to footstools, so what exactly is the point? Okay, I’m going to get back to this in a minute.

When I began my novel The She-Hulk Diaries, based on the iconic Marvel character, writing about a snarky, sexy 6’7” green party girl superhero was easy as pie. (Theoretical pie because I have never mastered making a crust, which my pie-shop owning neighbor recently informed me is a genetic ability. But I digress.) She-Hulk, aka Shulky, is as big, bold, and badass as she wants to be. However, I struggled to find the authenticity in her human identity, Jennifer Walters, a highly-accomplished and painfully shy attorney. I was stepping into more than 30 years of She-Hulk canon, but most of it centered on Shulky and all of it was written by men. I wanted to give Jennifer Walters the attention she deserved.

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Links for Sexy Feminists: Feminist Beauty, Pro-Life Feminists, More on Abortion…

Abortion complexities: The New York Times published this fantastic piece on a group of women who were denied abortions. … Meanwhile, two groups have popped up declaring themselves feminist pro-life organizations. We can get behind their message of providing better counseling, financial resources and community support for pregnant women, but can advocating for the lack of a choice ever be a feminist act?

Beauty obsession can be feminist: We’ll be the first to champion the feminist potential in loving lipgloss. But the beauty industry can still be a volatile environment for a feminist. Refinery29′s Annie Tomlin wrote this essay about how she uses her feminism as an advantage to her career as a beauty editor.

Only child judgment: Journalist Lauren Sandler’s new book, “One and Only” explores the social stigma of only children. She was one, she’s raising one, and still she’s faced with searing critique whenever she tells perfect strangers that she’s not having another child. This is an element of the parenting bullying that’s just as offensive as lecturing a mother on the right way to breastfeed. Sandler addresses the assumption that only children are spoiled and selfish in a recent NYT essay.

The trouble with diamonds: The ethical quandaries of blood diamonds notwithstanding, Business Insider examines how the marriage industrial complex hurts men–and supports patriarchy. … Consumption of goods in general can very likely be linked back to someone’s suffering. Check out HuffPost’s piece on World Day Against Child Labor and find out what you can do to stop these horrifying practices.

Fighting the War on Women … with Guns! the cultural War on Women carries on with few signs of subsiding any time soon, people and organizations continue to try to find ways to fight back against the misogyny that pervades our society.  One Texas non-profit organization thinks it has the answer: provide firearms and weapons training to vulnerable women.  While this may sound appealing to some, this is hardly a solution to an ideological problem.

The Armed Citizens Project of Houston is dedicated to providing people in “mid-high crime areas with defensive shotguns, for free!”  (The exclamation mark is theirs.)  Their homepage boasts that they are “[f]ighting the war on women, one free shotgun at a time.”  According to founder Kyle Coplen in an interview withMSNBC, the (stated) reasoning behind his organization is to decrease the crime rate by providing people with guns.  However, that same MSNBC article cites studies indicating that women are less safe with guns in their homes than they would be without them.  But the ACP’s mission has another glaring problem: It treats the War on Women as a literal war, rather than an ideological one.
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Hey, LA: Join Us For a ‘Sexy Feminism’ Sex Talk!

We’ll be coming to Los Angeles in July for perhaps our most exciting event so far: We’ve invited relationship and sex therapist Moushumi Ghose, MFA (she of the awesome, “The Sex Talk” series) to join us for a provocative and proactive discussion on sex, relationships and feminism. We’re determined to show everyone how and why feminism makes sex better for everyone.

Our host, The Pleasure Chest, is a leader in sex education and awareness. And they sell really fun stuff too! Here’s our invite, please join us!


Our Favorite Women’s Memoirs

The Year of Magical Thinking

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There's nothing more feminist than a woman telling her own story in her own words, which is why we've rounded up some of the best women's memoirs of all time here. First up: Joan Didion's heartbreaking feminist books and the Year of Magical Thinking , which stuns us with its emotional honesty in recounting the year in which Didion lost her husband and her daughter. It's true magic is that despite its darkness, the book makes us ache for the kind of love Didion and her husband shared, even if that makes the loss all the more devastating. Click through for some of our other favorites.

Empowering Afghan Women

witw-logoWomen in Afghanistan still suffer some of the worst gendered conditions in the world: forced marriages, lack of education, and conditions far beyond anything we can encapsulate in even those awful-sounding soundbites. One of our favorite organizations works to empower women there through fostering and publishing their writing about their lives, the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. Another idea: Giving women there economic power by fostering sales of their crafts. Read more at The Daily Beast’s Women in the World.

The Happy Hookers

8575175938_cbd083f041_oWe here at Sexy Feminist appreciate the value of great sex writing, and know that it is infrequently recognized. That’s why we’ve always loved Cleis Press’ yearly Best Sex Writinganthologies edited by one of our favorite sexy feminists, Rachel Kramer Bussel. This is an excerpt from the 2013 edition, written by Melissa Gira Grant. Make sure you pick up a copy so you don’t miss out on the rest.

The following books were not published in 1972: The Happy Secretary, The Happy Nurse, The Happy Napalm Manufacturer, The Happy President, The Happy Yippie, The Happy Feminist. The memoir of a Manhattan madam was. The Happy Hooker climbed best-seller lists that year, selling over sixteen million copies.

When it reached their top five, the New York Times described the book as “liberally dosed with sex fantasies for the retarded.” The woman who wrote them and lived them, Xaviera Hollander, became a folk hero. She remains the accidental figurehead of a class of women who may or may not have existed before she lived and wrote. Of course, they must have existed, but if they hadn’t, say the critics of hooker happiness, we would have had to invent them.

Is prostitution so wicked a profession that it requires such myths?
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