Links for Sexy Feminists: Shutdown Watch, Relationship Woes, and more

Shutdown Watch: Lest we forget that in the background of the Congress-driven shutdown in American government, there is still a fight against women’s equal access to healthcare. Meanwhile, female state legislators gathered across party lines to encourage Congress to resolve its issues.

Women and Policy: On a different political note, check out this report on how women are faring in different U.S. states.

Relationship Woes: A handy guide to help you figure out if your partner’s issue is your problem, too.

Abortion Misconceptions: A new documentary aims to remove some of the stigma and unfair prejudices about doctors who are still willing to perform late-term abortions.

Bollywood: Next week marks the first Mumbai Women’s International Film Festival.

Fashion Week: Every recent fashion week seems to invite discussion about the exclusion of African American women. So we’re really digging Rick Owens’s use of competitive step dancers in place of stereotypical runway models.

Links for Sexy Feminists: Hindu Goddesses, What is a Woman? and more

Goddesses Under Siege: A PR campaign aimed at raising awareness about domestic violence in India by depicting Hindu goddesses as victims of abuse has recently become a source of controversy.

What is A Woman?: A charming collection of watercolors of realistic female nudes paired with some hella empowering text. Probably NSFW.

Male Ally: A man talks about how he plans to tell his son about respecting the women around him in a very sweet and moving essay.

Feminists Prank Playboy: Some internet feminist activists successfully pranked Playboy, with total awesomeness ensuing.

Sexual Abuse Recovery: A thought-provoking first person perspective on why negative reactions to childhood sexual abuse can be at least as damaging as the abuse itself.

Love and Transgender: This cis person who married a trans individual will make you think twice about your assumptions about transgendered persons.

War on Women, Ground Floor: We’re unfortunately not surprised to hear this awful tale of a Texas woman who now drives four hours to Planned Parenthood after an uncomfortable experience with her doctor.

Links for Sexy Feminists: White Privilege, the Burka Avenger, and more

White Privilege: A moving piece on why “Solidarity is for White Women” should not be forgotten. Meanwhile, a white sociology professor makes the case that white people don’t spend nearly enough time talking to their kids about race.

Having it All: A great book excerpt by the president of Barnard College argues that there is simply no way in hell to “have it all.”

Know Thyself: Gwyneth Paltrow’s bizarre quotes on GOOP aren’t that different from stuff people we all know say.

Social Media: Every feminist on the internet has a story about internet harassment, and this article offers some interesting perspective on how to deal with it.

Body Positivity: On the problems with distributing pamphlets about health consciousness at the Women’s History Museum.

Burka Avenger: A new series aims to entertain Pakistani children while showing them the importance of women‘s education.

Links for Sexy Feminists: Trayvon’s Friend, Feminist Slurs, Shaving, and more

Feminist or Not?: A male photographer documents the changing role of the sexes in Spain by photographing men in women’s clothes. The premise could certainly be read as feminist, except that he states on his website that he’s concerned about “men’s sense of loss of reference.” Concerned? Weigh in in the comments!

International Dress: An Indian American woman on proudly dressing in her salwaar kameese and dupatta.

Language Games: A fun romp through the dictionary to learn the origins of some common slurs for women.

Moral Abortion: We love this piece by a rabbi about how his Judaism causes him to see abortion very differently than the Christian right.

To Shave or Not: One woman’s take on the age-old feminist debate.

Lesbian Blues: A charming piece on the queerness of 1920′s blues singers.

Hard to Get?: Why playing “the game” plays into the patriarchy’s hand. And an interesting take on rape culture uses an analogy with banks to turn the tables on guys. On the lighter side, we love this excellently written parody on the “pickup artist” movement.

Women Travelers: Which leads us to this fine perspective on being a solo woman traveler.

Trayvon’s Friend: The star witness for the prosecution fell victim to some tired stereotypes about African-American women. Meanwhile, she has already suffered the devastating impact of being the last person to talk to her friend when he was alive. Crunk Feminist Collective gathers some nice notes in solidarity.

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.

Why We Need More Naked Women

It says a lot about the state of our relationship to our bodies that I cried from watching this simple video (embedded below) about a simple photo project: Jade Beall is putting together a book of real, untouched black and white photographs of real women’s bodies. Looking at these gorgeous images, with all their supposed “flaws,” you realize how seldom we see other non-model women’s bodies. You also realize how critical it is that we do so.

We’re so used to thinking that women’s bodies are for straight men’s enjoyment that we forget there could be real advantages to presenting images of the naked form outside of Victoria’s Secret ads and Playboy pictorials. This is where women’s bodies, and even sexuality, truly becomes empowerment. I recently did a boudoir photo shoot with my sister, Julie, who runs Chicago Doll Photography, and it is empowering, as a real woman, to treat yourself like a model in the good ways. You don’t have to objectify yourself to feel the effect; there’s simply a power in treating yourself as worthy of being photographed this way, as if you are as “beautiful” as those VS models. It starts sounding cheesy pretty fast here, of course: You are beautiful! You do deserve it! That’s only because the ad industry has taken these images and these ideas from us and used them to sell products to us that supposedly make us more beautiful since advertising began.

This is why we called ourselves Sexy Feminist — because feminism like this is sexy, and wonderful, and delicious, not because we’re trying to be sexy to straight men. This is what the female gaze looks like, cast upon other female forms:

Watch the video, donate money, volunteer to pose, spread the word, buy the book when it’s out — we should all do whatever we can to support The Beautiful Body Project, and anything else like it.

Links for Sexy Feminists: Busy Phillips’ F-You to Hollywood, Rape Still a Punchline, More

Body Love: A great talk on the virtues of embracing your current shape, whatever it is.

Male Nurse: One man’s tale of working against stereotypes as a nurse.

Promiscuous Girl: Beyond being the title of a catchy pop song, a new study finds that a “promiscuous girl” is likely to face social rejection from her female peers. Come on, ladies, let’s fight this trend!

Getting Away with Murder: A Texas john was acquitted after he claimed that he shot an escort because she took his money and refused to sleep with him. We know there’s some creepy non-hetero-white-males-aren’t-people stuff going around these days, but seriously?!!

Damn Sexy Feminist: Busy Phillips is Hollywood royalty, a proven comedic talent and a working mom to boot. So when H-wood asks her to shed 15-20 pounds to, you know, “look and feel your best,” she kindly says: fuckyouverymuch. Listen to her whole awesome feminist tirade at The Conversation.

Rape: It’s Not a Joke: The Biggest Asshole In The World award goes to an Israeli judge who stepped down after comments that included this gem: “some girls enjoy being raped.” Meanwhile, an American woman gang-raped in India raises the questions of safety for any woman travelling. Or generally existing in the world with a vagina.

Links for Sexy Feminists: Ethiopian Child Brides, Self Acceptance, and more

Reproductive Health Watch: Don’t let the recent holiday weekend and heat wave distract you from noticing this picture of eight men discussing women’s reproductive health.

I Need Feminism: So here’s a great piece on the necessity of feminism in current society. And the feminist blogosphere finally got Facebook to rethink its blind eye to pages supporting gender violence.

Brooklyn is Funny: And so is Katie Goodman in Park Slope Episode 1

Women in STEM: National Geographic rounded up six exceptional female scientists you may not have heard of–let’s help them get the posthumous recognition they deserve.

Fatshion: A new clothing line, currently being designed by a Cornell student, is designed to embrace the curves of larger women. Hooray!

On Self Acceptance: Amanda Chatel wants us to accept that she’s dissatisfied with her physical appearance, and her essay raises interesting thoughts for anyone who doesn’t look a certain way.

Women are People: A great piece on how to appreciate an attractive woman without objectifying her. We’re pretty sure these female artists who painted “pin-ups” would agree.

Women in the World: The International Women’s Forum is being held this year in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The UN criticized Iran for suppressing its female citizens’ right to run for political office. And this article spotlights an international aid organization that improves the lives of Ethiopian child brides.

Links for Sexy Feminists: Against “Dieting”, Safer Sweatshops, Women Vote in Pakistan, More

Against the “Diet”: A poignantly inspiring tale of a woman who watched her father waste away due to self starvation and vows to embrace her own plus -ize figure. If you’re ever at a loss for body positivity, may we recommend reading and rereading this compilation of advice from fat women who love their curves. Meanwhile, having broken the “We don’t want fat people” Abercrombie story, Business Insider charts a precipitous drop in the brand’s popularity following the story.

Safer Sweatshops: On the other end of the fashion cycle, we were encouraged to hear that several prominent retailers are committing to improve factory conditions in Bangladesh.

Rethinking Choice: One woman’s interesting take on the semantic argument between “Life” and “Choice.”

Surprise!: Greater access to and education about birth control leads to fewer abortions. Interestingly, education in the study led many women to conclude that an IUD was the right choice for them, suggesting that the long-term solution may be underused.

Sex Positivity: Thanks to Jezebel for this primer on the so-called “looseness” of the vulva. NSFW.

Mommy Life: One woman’s story about coming to terms with postpartum depression and accepting that her husband could be the better caregiver at the beginning.

Activism Works: The Florida teen whose science experiment caused a minor explosion has had charges dropped after internet activists accused the accusers of racism. Meanwhile, though Disney has publicly backed down from its Merida makeover, only time will tell if they’re changing her back.

Women in the World: Pakistani women braved threats of violence to vote this past weekend, while Kuwaiti women are gaining grounds for athletic competition. Coming from a different religious perspective, Israel has struck down the mandate that women and men be segregated on public bus rides through conservative neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Canadian students created this funny and thought-provoking spoof of gender roles in advertising.

Links for Sexy Feminists: Elizabeth Smart, White Privilege, Female Sexuality, and more

Elizabeth Smart Speaks Out: The woman you may remember as a kidnapped and assaulted 14-year-old was in our thoughts as three women victims of trafficking were found alive in Ohio this week. Now a self-possessed 25-year-old, she was in the news recently for commenting that abstinence-only sex ed made her feel as worthless as a chewed piece of gum. Mormon commentator Joanna Brooks points out that this tactic is all too common in the religion’s sex ed classes.

White Privilege Alert: A Muslim American woman’s story of open bigotry from security guards at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner will have you quaking with rage.

Men Can Be Feminists: Enjoy this TED talk by activist Jackson Katz on the way ordinary men can prevent–or condone–gender violence.

Girls and Geek Culture: Not all women hate Game of Thrones, and Amelia McDonell-Parry wants folks to cut that sexist BS. Meanwhile, an intelligent analysis reveals that the “boob plate armor” found in videogame graphics doesn’t just objectify women: it would also make the wearer more likely to perish on the field of battle.

Save Merida: The Disney princess who was her own heroine in “Brave” has received a much maligned makeover.

Creep Alert: An NRA convention vendor is the subject of some (but probably not enough) controversy for marketing a female-shaped target as an “Ex.”

Freeing Female Sexuality: And lastly, here’s this charming essay from a sweet old lady about lust for life.

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