The To Do List: A teenage girl having sex without punishment

images-1I once read an interview with author Judy Blume, where she said that one of the reasons she wrote “Forever” was for her daughter, who said she wanted to read a book about a teenage girl losing her virginity without getting pregnant or getting an STI or worst of all, dying.

“Forever” was published in 1975, and remains on the banned book list because way too many people still think any story about a teenage girl losing her virginity needs to include her getting punished for it.

Sadly, stories like it still aren’t that common almost 40 years later.

But stories about boys losing their virginity without some gruesome consequence? There are plenty of those, and lots of them have been put on film. From “Risky Business” to “Porky’s” to “American Pie” to “The Girl Next Door,” boys have, and continue to, get it on with gusto and live happily ever after.

That’s why “The To Do List,” written and directed by Maggie Carey and starring Aubrey Plaza, is such a nice change.

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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.

 


Love Life Advice from Beyonce

Yes, yes, we all know about “to the left, to the left” and “all the single ladies.” But if you listen to Beyonce’s oeuvre in its entirety as I have, thanks to a borderline obsession and a lot of workouts, you will find she has a very clear, complete philosophy on relationships that goes beyond great kiss-offs. A few of our favorite tips, as only Beyonce can give them:

From “Ego,” lines to use on the man you’ve got your eye on:

Some women were made
But me, myself?
I like to think that I was created
For a special purpose
You know?
What’s more special than YOU?

Well, you got the key to my heart
But you ain’t gonna need it
I’d rather you open up my body
And show me secrets you didn’t know was inside
No need for me to lie.

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Equally Nudged: A Plea for Lasting Domestic Partnership Despite Gay Marriage Gains

domestic-partnership-certificateSexy Feminist co-founder Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s domestic partner, A. Jesse Jiryu Davis, argues for the Defense of Domestic Partnership in this guest post. (Yes, that’s our domestic partnership certificate there, and, yes, we both have a lot of name confusion. You can learn all about that here.) 

My girlfriend and I are gay-married. That’s how we joke about it to friends. We’re a straight couple, but we got domestic-partnered July 17th last year. We’d moved into an apartment together the day before. As soon as we’d gotten all our boxes into the new flat on 14th Street and had a night’s sleep, we took the muggy subway to the New York City Clerk’s office and got ourselves hitched.

We got our domestic partnership as soon as possible because my girlfriend, Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, is a freelance writer. Health insurance for freelancers is ruinously, unjustly expensive. New Yorkers have the substantial advantage of the Freelancers Union’s group plans, but even so, minimal health insurance with the Freelancers Union costs ten times what it would cost us to add Jennifer to my generous corporate health plan. To add her, we had to be spouses or domestic partners. We don’t want to marry now, if ever, so we chose domestic partnership.

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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.


‘Tiger Eyes’ film a beautiful look at teen grief

imagesAs a teen in the ’80s, I remember two young adult novels that dealt just beautifully with the subject of grief. One was “A Ring of Endless Light” by Madeleine L’Engle, and the other was “Tiger Eyes” by Judy Blume.

When I found out last year that “Tiger Eyes” was being made into a movie, I was worried, because Hollywood usually screws over my favorite books. And it didn’t help that Disney had completely ruined “Ring” in 2002. Mischa Barton as Vicky? Jared Padalecki as Zachary? Unnecessary action plot involving romantic rivalry and dolphins in drift nets?

But I digress. Luckily, when it came to “Tiger Eyes,” Blume shares my concerns about Hollywood, and decided to not just co-write the screenplay for the first movie ever made from her works but also have her son Lawrence (her fellow screenwriter) direct. The result is a subtle and beautiful film that also does the novel justice.
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Why I Loved ‘Behind the Candelabra’

behind-the-candelabra-michael-douglas-matt-damon1Most critics reviewing HBO’s Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra mentioned director Steven Soderbergh’s brilliant decision to temper the flamboyance of Liberace’s life with a gritty and unflinchingly realistic framing of the story. Even the slightest tic toward taking the movie over the top could’ve felt like farce, and besides, there was plenty of over-the-topness in the story — the sets, the costumes, the plastic surgery. Maybe Soderbergh overcompensated a little, thus sapping a bit of the joy Liberace clearly took in sparkly and ornate things. But I liked his approach more than the alternative.

Because he shot it like any straightforward, serious biopic, he instead brought out both the intimacy and the intensity of Liberace’s relationship with Scott Thorson. He also, through that relationship, focused on the politics underlying their lives, and thus the lives of many gay men in the ’80s. The closest they could get to being married was for Liberace to adopt Thorson, a bizarre realization that ought to send everyone running to do whatever we can to get gay marriage legalized. And how heartbreaking to see people still trying to pretend, even after Liberace’s death, that the great love of his life was a woman! There’s something so devastating about not being acknowledged for your place in your great love’s life — even as an ex-spouse, you get some recognition at the funeral for your loss.

And, oh, the vanity! Being gay and famous made Liberace, and thus Thorson, as vulnerable to the pressure to be beautiful and young as women are. I loved the brutal cosmetic surgery sequences — I couldn’t even watch them, which I think is a good thing. We too rarely acknowledge how painful cosmetic procedures are — calling them “nips” and “tucks,” cutesy names that make us forget that this is major surgery. Not to mention that this is the creepy end result. Something about seeing men go through this on screen makes a difference, too, highlighting the inherent weirdness of it all because we’re not as used to it.

Most of all, the film normalized even a rather bizarre relationship between two men, something we could stand to see more of as we march toward the (hopefully) inevitable breakthrough of legalized gay marriage.


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.
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Do You Have To Be Coupled To Give Good Dating Advice?

AA046999“Why should I take dating advice from you? You’re single.”

This is a comeback I’ve heard many times for the six years I’ve been writing my advice column, And That’s Why You’re Single.  Apparently, in order for a woman who writes about dating to be taken seriously, she needs to have a man to trot out or cite as evidence that she knows of what she speaks.

My answer to this pointed question is quite succinct. I don’t need a man in my life in order to practice common sense and critical thinking. People throw the fact that I’m single (as far as they know) in my face to try and discredit me.  This one query reveals quite a bit about the person posing it. Namely, that they consider a woman’s ideas and opinions invalid unless she has a man by her side to validate them.

This question isn’t really a question. It’s an attempt to minimize my thoughts. The point of the inquiry is to shame me. Apparently, a woman who isn’t constantly looking for excuses to talk about her relationship is considered suspect.  [Read more...]


The (Gay) Marriage Choice

I have a question: Does anyone really care why total strangers choose to get married? I feel like I know the answer to this one—it’s a big resounding no.

Recently I read a statement about commitment posted on Facebook that really resonated with me. It said, “Commitment is doing the thing you said you would do long after the mood you said it in has left you.”

In light of the recent arguments heard by the Supreme Court to overturn DOMA and Proposition 8, it seemed fitting to remind people that at the end of the day, marriage is a choice. The idea of partnering with another human being and sharing your life with theirs is not an involuntary action. While I deeply believe that love is not a choice, the decision to commit to that love is.

I have a second question: Even if  (and please note the emphasis on “if”) being gay was a choice, how would it seriously impact marriage? I think we all know the answer to this one, too.

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