Links for Sexy Feminists: Cherice Morales, Cliteracy, and more

No Blurred Lines Here: An important but mostly overlooked aspect of the Miley Cyrus debacle is the importance of talking to one’s sons about Robin Thicke. And apparently we need to mention that no teenage girl is ever asking to be raped.

Remembering Cherice Morales: A necessary perspective on why the young teen who “consented” to sexual relations with her 49-year-old teacher was too emotionally immature to “consent.”

Feminism 101: Feministe has introduced a new feature specifically set up to introduce young folks to the basic principles of feminism.

Trans Inclusion: Chelsea Manning (known to the world as Bradley)’s decision to come out to the world as trans highlights the importance of trans inclusive healthcare.

40 Days of Dating Experiment: Jessica and Timothy will have their big reveal on the direction of their relationship later this week, so if you haven’t gotten sucked in yet it’s not too late.

Best for Last: Artist Sophia Wallace has made it her mission to educate the public on the importance of the clitoris in a piece she charmingly calls “cliteracy.”


Links for Sexy Feminists: The March on Washington Anniversary and more

March on Washington: In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of this historic day, take a moment to think over all the ways we still don’t live in Martin Luther King Junior’s ideal society.

This is What A Feminist Looks Like: A woman whose photo was hijacked into an anti-feminist meme fights back. And a great account of what goes on within the fat acceptance community with regard to others with body image issues.

On Acting Bitchy: As Breaking Bad winds down, Anna Gunn reflects on why her strong female character has become so reviled in certain circles.

Feminism and Tech: If you’d like to show solidarity another way, consider joining the ranks of Wikipedia editors as a feminist ally.

Fun with Masculinity: This is a nifty photo project where men with long hair were offered stereotypically “feminine” hairdos. Meanwhile, we’re digging this piece from Salon about the project’s implications for feminism.

Gender Diversity: A look at Albanian women who, per an old custom, have chosen a life of independence and freedom by dressing and acting as men.

Work and Life: You’ll fall for this sweet cartoon that uses Bill Watterson’s words to advocate for a life of self-created meaning.

Sexual Harassment: An Indian woman reflects on why sexual harassment is a global phenomenon, and not limited to any particular place. Westerners who defend sexual harassers are deeply misogynistic, as this piece rightly brings to light. And in a different perspective on sexual harassment, we love this piece on what’s wrong with the internet harassment of an expatriated Afghan woman who isn’t afraid of showing off her body.

On Miley: The most problematic thing about her performance at the VMA’s is the cultural appropriation that went into it. Gradient Lair has an excellent in-depth look at this issue. Meanwhile, the Onion provides a pitch perfect explanation of how internet analytics has blown this out of proportion that is seriously funny.


An Ode to Odes to ‘Kisses Down Low’

We love Kelly Rowland’s new album, particularly her instructive “Kisses Down Low,” part of a great musical tradition of detailed step-by-steps about how to go down on a lady. In honor of Ms. Rowland’s breakout album and her celebration of female sexuality, we offer this list of Great Songs About Cunnilingus (which is to say: any songs about cunnilingus):

 

Bikini Kill, “Sugar”

 

Khia, “My Neck, My Back”

 

Madonna, “Where Life Begins”

 

Missy Elliott, “Work It”

 

Mariah Carey, “Bliss”

 

Lil’ Kim, “How Many Licks”

 

Christina Aguilera, “Woohoo”

 

Janet Jackson, “Anytime Anyplace”

 

Liz Phair, “Glory”

 

Foxy Brown, “Candy”

 

The Gossip, “Swing Low”

 

Sheena Easton, “Sugar Walls”

 

Lady Gaga, “Teeth”

 

“Raspberry Swirl,” Tori Amos


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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Why Do Ladies Love Woody Allen?

 

220px-Woody_Allen_(2006)I’m not talking about romantic love, though he seems to do almost bafflingly well in that department, too. Here, I’m interested in something else: Funny female writers and filmmakers have tended, more often than random chance would dictate, to be strongly, obviously influenced by Allen, moreso than any other male auteur I can think of. Why would this be?

I’m talking, first and foremost, about Nora Ephron, one of Allen’s most direct, unapologetic cultural descendants. When Harry Met Sally is essentially trying, hoping to be a Woody Allen movie. It succeeded at this goal, of course, and transcended it, but it would have been happy — and rightfully so — being a very good Woody Allen imitation. From the dialogue to the uptown New York social circles it moves in to Meg Ryan’s wardrobe (what’s up, Annie Hall?), it’s a beyond-competent love letter to Allen. But I see traces of Allen in Tina Fey’s wordplay, Mindy Kaling’s zippy dialogue and surreal hijinks, Lena Dunham’s unflinching take on messy relationships and neuroses, and Elizabeth Meriwether’s quirky heroines and awkward sex scenes. (Last night, I re-watched the New Girl episode in which Jess and Nick try to have sex but fail because they shatter Schmidt’s fish tank. Brilliant.)

It’s strange to realize how much influence Allen has had on women-centric entertainment, given his own problematic relationship to women being played out over and over in a lot of his work. When he’s not reveling in the glories of much, much younger women, he’s fetishizing the whole lot of us, worshipping us to the point of unknowability. He basically invented the now well-known archetype of the manic pixie dream girl.

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Where’s Wonder Woman?

wonder-woman-ms-cover

In this guest post, Andrew Daar makes a strong argument for a Wonder Woman movie.

It’s no secret that superhero films are all the rage right now.  Movies featuring characters whose popularity transcends their comic book origins – Superman, Batman, Spider-Man – make hundreds of millions of dollars in their opening weekends, while many films featuring characters less universally known are also drawing huge crowds.  Iron Man 3 earned almost $400 million in the United States alone, and The Avengers – which featured heroes who, prior to the release of their stand-alone films in the preceding years, had nowhere near the recognition of the likes of Superman or Spider-Man – was the highest grossing film of 2012.  But despite this popularity, one doesn’t even need two hands to count how many theatrically released superhero films have featured women in the starring role. (Of course, sadly, this lack of women at the center of films isn’t limited to the superhero genre.  NPR’s Linda Holmes points out that, right now, it is nearly impossible to find films in cinemas that feature women in the starring roles, and calculated that the number of showtimes in her area for Man of Steel was over six times greater than the number showtimes of all female-centric films combined.) And on top of that, there has yet to be a theatrical film featuring Wonder Woman, arguably the most iconic female superhero in existence.

What gives?  Why have there been so few movies starring female superheroes, and why hasn’t the female superhero received her own big screen adventure yet?  Superman has had six films, Batman has had seven. Recently, executives greenlit two additional Spider-Man films to add to his (soon-to-be) five.  Why can’t Wonder Woman or Ms. Marvel or Black Canary or Jessica Jones get a film of her own?  And why has every female superhero-centered film that has been made been a colossal let-down?  (No, that isn’t hyperbole.  As I will note later, literally every superhero movie that has a woman in the lead role has been pretty terrible.)

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Amy Schumer, Mindy Kaling, and the Evolution of Girl Humor

600x400_insideamyschumer2Given the early coverage before the debut of Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer this spring, I figured we were in for another dirty-girl comedian — Schumer was most often compared to Whitney Cummings and Sarah Silverman. I don’t dislike either of those ladies, but both of them, when at their best, retain the whiff of women trying to make it in a man’s comedy world. Of course, it is a man’s comedy world, and I can’t blame them, and I loooved every bit of the shock value of The Sarah Silverman Program. (I also happen to enjoy the show Cummings co-created, 2 Broke Girls. We won’t talk about Whitney.) Cummings and Silverman do the comedy equivalent of business women wearing hyper-masculine, shoulder-padded suits in the ’80s as they fought their way to boardroom levels: They made it in an astonishingly male-dominated profession by out-boying the boys.

Schumer and the also-rising talent Mindy Kaling represent a subtle shift, however, from Cummings and Silverman. They don’t shy away from indelicate topics like sex or body humor — because most modern women are a few steps beyond Jane Austen-style manners. But they don’t try to beat the guys at their own game, either. Kaling showed with her Fox sitcom The Mindy Project this season that she can do a killer awkward-shower-sex scene and poke elaborate fun at women’s love-hate relationship with romance. Schumer’s show, which is wrapping up its first season, takes a similarly female approach — not “female” humor like an eye-rolling Cathy comic strip, but humor that’s simply unique to a heterosexual person with a vagina coming of age during the early 2000s. She gives us a sketch on, for instance, “porn from a female point of view,” which shows mostly how ridiculous (and occasionally gross) sex is for women, all hairy chests coming at them and being slammed repeatedly from behind. This stands in stark contrast to those “porn for women” send-ups that show men with waxed chests doing housework. Because, ha ha, women have no desires beyond a clean house! Schumer acknowledges both female desire and the silliness of what we must endure to fulfill it. And don’t even get me started on the sketch about the guy who falls in love with her because of her terrible perm. You just need to see it.

In fact, you just need to see both The Mindy Project (now in summer reruns!) and Inside Amy Schumer. They both make great summer viewing.


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.


Links for Sexy Feminists: Real Royalty, Philosophy, Twitter, and more

Disney Princess Syndrome: Coming on the heels of Disney’s problematic contributions to current girlie-girl culture, a new “It Happened to Me” talks about Disney’s apathy and denial after a female employee was raped by a coworker.

Real Royalty: That’s why we were heartened to read this message of empowerment from Queen Rania of Jordan about her affection for her tomboy daughter.

Fathers and Daughters: We all know a few subtle sexists, so it’s encouraging to see this essay from a dad to his daughter on how he’s working on the problem.

Allies Unite: Mia McKenzie of Black Girl Dangerous has some advice for the allies in name only.

Underrepresented Women: A great piece on NPR wonders why philosophy is one of the few male-dominated branches of the humanities. It’s worth remembering that Simone de Beauvoir deserves to be recognized as a great philosopher for laying the groundwork of modern feminist theory.

Sexy Feminist: Enjoy this latest mashup Twitter, Feminist Taylor Swift.

Twitter Mishaps: And then gasp in horror at this British conservative politician’s crude potshot at Nigella Lawson.

 


HBO’s ‘Love, Marilyn’ Gives Us a Thinking Sex Symbol

LoveMarilynAll hail Marilyn Monroe as the thinking girl’s icon trapped in a sex goddess’ body.

Feminists have long been fascinated by the life and death of the self-made siren, who came from nothing and became anything Hollywood wanted her to be so she could rise to fame. (Gloria Steinem wrote a book about her at the peak of her own notoriety as a women’s lib leader.) What Hollywood wanted, of course, was a sex symbol of mythic proportions, and it got just that from her. If it also wanted a source of endless material for years after her death, it got that, too: Reams of books have been written about her from every vantage point imaginable, from Steinem to Joyce Carol Oates to murder conspiracy theorists to Norman Mailer and the many men who admired her. Smash dedicated two ill-fated seasons to a fictional musical about her life. Michelle Williams, Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino, and Madonna are among the many who have played the star in one way or another.

What’s well-covered territory feels fresh again in HBO’s new documentary, Love, Marilyn. I started watching it out of a sense of obligation, as a feminist and pop culture writer. But I came away feeling, for the first time, what it was like to be Marilyn, a sensation strangely absent from every other depiction I’ve ever seen. I loved Michelle Williams in My Week With Marilyn, but even that performance, which depicted her exquisite sadness and loneliness, still couldn’t convey to me why she was so sad and lonely. It also couldn’t show me how smart she was, and, perhaps more poignantly, how smart she wanted to be in a world that wouldn’t let her.

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