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!

SFLA


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.


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?
[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...]


Feminism, Fawning Bimbos, and True Love in ‘Before Midnight’

SONY-BDOS-01_Onesheet4.16.13_Layout 1No matter how feminist he may be, a man still loves a fawning bimbo.

Or at least that’s what Celine claims in Before Midnight, the third installment in  the Richard Linklater-directed series starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, which follows Celine and Jesse’s epic romance. That romance began in 1995’s Before Sunrise, when Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) are 20-somethings who meet on a train and decide to spend the night together wandering Vienna. They don’t exchange contact information, but agree to meet six months later.

In  2004’s Before Sunset, set nine years later, we catch up with them in Paris. Jesse is now a successful writer, and Celine works as an environmental activist. They never met as promised, though Jesse uses their night in Vienna as the plot for his bestselling novel. His book tour takes him to Paris, and that is how Celine finds him. They spend the film reconnecting, but there is a big obstacle – Jesse is married with a child. Unhappily married, but still. Nonetheless, as the film ends, they may get together.
[Read more...]


Why Women Should Write Their Own Roles

Michelle Rodriguez made us swoon this week by using the Fast and Furious 6 (6!) press junket to speak out about the problem of good female roles (via Jezebel): 

It’s so hard to find really good writers. It’s a fairly new, last-twenty-year thing to have strong, independent, free-spirited women on film. Eighty percent of the writers are guys, most of them are married in Beverly Hills and they’re married to some woman who obviously annoys them or they wouldn’t write the way they write.

Actress-comedian, and now writer, Suzanne Smith had the same feelings when she tried to navigate Hollywood, so she recently did what more women are doing all the time — she created her own damn material. She wrote for us about how she got started.

“Nobody knew what to do with me besides me.” –Roseanne Barr

As an actor, I have always known this, but only at 36 years old did I finally have the courage to take action and start my own web series. Prior to this project, I was a working actress, with roles in Sex and the City, Law and Order, and Double Whammy, an independent film with Denis Leary. I always loved being part of a team and working with talented actors, directors and crew. Early in 2003, I had a near-death experience, which changed everything, including the way I looked at sharing my talent and the purpose of my life. In all actuality, I thought about leaving acting completely and focusing more on other interests, including writing, making collage art, and running a story time for children. But the acting bug had never completely left me, and in 2008, I got back into acting class with Wynn Handman, which inspired me to merge my writing and acting interests. Suddenly, I was creating my own characters, and it felt right.

I had always loved Woody Allen, Larry David, Christopher Guest and John Cassavetes. This new approach gave me full creative control, and I started creating parts for myself that were fuller female representations. I loved the roles that others had scripted, but let’s face it, the really meaty parts for women are few and far between. I remember Wynn saying to me in my early 20s, “You are not an ingénue.” I interpreted this to mean that my natural character was too strong for many of the existing female roles. I had always been a character actress, but apparently it confused people that I was “attractive.” I had auditioned for many big parts, but there were very few that I felt connected to. Plus, some of the feedback on my appearance was confusing. I was told I was “too thin,” “too fat,” “not fat enough” because I had a “pretty face.” Then I was told that there weren’t a lot of roles for me at my age. After my brush with death, I realized that life is too short to fit myself into someone else’s box.

When a friend suggested a couple of years ago that I play a quirky psychic with strong opinions, I took to the idea. Earlier this year, I launched Saige Winters: My Psychic Life, which I now cast, produce, write, co-direct occasionally and act in. Creatively, I have never been happier (though I do like the collaborative process and am open to playing excellent roles). I love having the freedom to tap my artistic and comedic sides without having to fit into someone else’s agenda. There are so many different types of women walking this earth, each of us unique and strong in her own way. This experience, which includes the positive feedback I’ve received, affirms for me the need for us all to live our true north—and write our own roles.


Are 40-plus Celeb Moms Shopping at Eggs ‘R’ Us?

from NicoleKidmanOfficial.com

Pregnancy seems to be on the rise for over-40 celebrities like Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman, Kelly Preston and Naomi Watts. These women seem to have the proverbial “it all” – stardom, riches and family. They make it seem so easy to have a career, delay pregnancy until they are in their 40s, and begin a family on their own terms. If they can do it, we can, too … Can’t we?

Probably not. Anything’s possible, but the way most women’s fertility clocks work, it is unlikely that these women’s children are biologically theirs. It’s no one’s business but their own, but since they are in the public spotlight, it does send a message that pregnancy in your 40s is easy. However, research shows that most of the time, it is not.

The last thing we want to do is pile onto the “hurry up, settle down, your eggs are wasting away!” panic the media often foists upon us. But in this case, the tabloids are peddling an opposite, and impossible, fairy-tale ideal. In the spirit of helping women to pursue every life option they want, we think it’s important to know: The only surefire way to put off children until well into your 40s and beyond is to get an egg donor or a surrogate when the time comes — or to freeze your eggs, an expensive but increasingly popular option, when you’re still in your 20s or 30s.

[Read more...]


Barbara Walters: The Real-Life Mary Richards?

abc_barbara_walters_thg_130128_wgI grew up idolizing both Barbara Walters and Mary Richards. I moved to a big city, became a journalist, and lived the better part of last decade as a single, independent, successful (if I do say so) career woman. I don’t think this is a coincidence. I think it’s the power of great role models.

Of course, one of them is real, and one is the fictional lead of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But having written a whole book about that show, I often find myself wondering what Mary would be up to right now if she were real. The fun of the game is that my own imagination can choose whatever it wants, and what it chooses mirrors what I really want to be like in 10, 20, 30, or 40 years. As Barbara Walters announced her retirement this week, I knew: This was Mary’s retirement. This is exactly what she would be doing right now after a long, groundbreaking career. She’d be signing off her successful talk show, leaving it in the care of her hand-picked co-hosts.

What’s astounding about Walters’ career is that, between her and Mary, she’s the real one — and yet she also did everything Mary did, but years earlier. She came up through the secretarial pool behind the network news scenes, just like Mary, and eventually broke through the male-dominated newsroom, just like Mary did. She then became a writer and segment producer (like Mary) doing “women’s interest” segments on the Today show. Soon she was on the air, which I believe was only a matter of time for Ms. Richards. She scaled great heights from there, becoming the show’s first female co-host, then nightly news’ first female co-anchor on ABC.

I encountered Walters in the ’80s through her riveting interview specials with celebrities and heads of state alike. I fell in love with her ability to coax a story from anyone. I studied her tactics. You don’t ask people, “Why are you crazy?” you ask them, “What is your response to critics who say you’re a little eccentric?” Sometimes, you soften the blow they know is coming: “A lot of people are wondering about your divorce, of course, so I have to ask: What happened?” Other times you rip the band-aid off: “Did you sleep with the president, or not?” I use many of her tricks to this day (though I have never asked anyone what kind of tree he or she would like to be). She made me want to tell people’s stories, and doing emotional interviews became one of my specialties at Entertainment Weekly, which made me proud. I learned to make people comfortable, while still maintaining my journalistic integrity, by watching Walters.

I also learned that “female” doesn’t, and shouldn’t, mean “not serious.” Because she was a woman, but a pioneering one, she managed to mix traditionally “female” topics — celebrity, fashion, feelings — and “male” ones — politics, war. This eventually led to one of the most innovative shows on television — yeah, really — The View. For 16 years now, her daytime talk show has mixed co-hosts of various races, backgrounds, political affiliations, and ages to discuss everything from reality TV to presidential elections. It’s become a must-visit show for both starlets and political candidates. And the show has one unifying message: Women’s voices matter.

We’ll miss you, Barbara. Thanks for making the world safe for Mary Richards, me, and all the women like us.


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...]


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