Links for Sexy Feminists: Falludi on Sandberg, Choice Worries, and more

Choice Worries: A graphic panel illustrates how insidiously abortion rights are being chipped away in certain parts of the U.S. And a current case in Wisconsin demands attention for raising the uncomfortable possibility that certain state laws privilege the unborn at the expense of the mother‘s current independence mental well being.

Sexism and Race: A thought-provoking article in the Atlantic discusses the double whammy black women face, specifically noting that racial stereotypes work against black girls at suburban public schools.

Lean In Backlash: Susan Falludi on the trouble with Sheryl Sandberg‘s bestselling book.

Straight, Gay, Bi: Told while imagining a child’s questions about sexuality, this essay reveals that our adult understanding of sexual orientation is needlessly limiting.

Men and Sexism: A well thought through exploration of the men’s rights movement and its relation to the issues it purports to care about. And the founder of VICE spews some truly regressive b.s. Ugh.

Question Your Assumptions: New archaeological evidence suggests that a 2600 year old Etruscan couple whose bones were unearthed had roles contrary to society’s current understanding of gender. Imagine that!

Asexuality: A sensationalist article suggests that most Japanese individuals are now averse to dating or forming relationships. But on the flip side, this article points out that similar reasoning could lead one to conclude the same thing about the U.S.

Words to Live By: Beautiful advice on finding true love.

Links for Sexy Feminists: Against Rape Culture, Female Beauty, and more

Against Rape Culture: Wonderful Indian actresses team up to explain why every rape ever is the woman’s fault, and their words ring sadly true for the U.S. And it’s too bad it was needed, but this great “Missed Connections” listing calls out a serious douche for street harassment.

African Feminists: Women in Rwanda are making great political gains through organized feminism, and we all could learn from them.

Bringing Home the Bacon: Why there was never a “traditional male breadwinner” in most of human history.

Intersectionality and Inclusion: If you’re a white feminist, chances are you could benefit from reading this simple list of ways to be a better ally against racism.

Not a Parody: Great humor piece about a woman who is making 300 sandwiches to get her man to propose. Flag this for use in your next “Make me a sandwich” style flameware.

Creepy Uncle Sam: We’re delighted that the “Other 98%” has turned the imagery of the Koch ad around on itself to argue against transvaginal ultrasounds.

Female Beauty Standards: Blogging for The New Yorker, Rebecca Mead uses the hook of Lena Dunham’s recent tweet on George Eliot to mention that the renowned writer of Middlemarch was probably far less desperate than her legend suggests.

Links for Sexy Feminists: Abused Women As Joke Fodder (Still), When the Wage Gap Starts, More

Violence Against Women: This Texas truck company’s “gag” decal of a woman tied up in the back of a pickup will have you sick to your stomach. And if that’s not enough, DC Comics unleashed a wave of controversy by sponsoring a contest to draw a naked woman committing suicide.

Pay Equality: A study from the University of Michigan suggests that the housework gap and the income gap both begin in childhood.

Toys and Gender: UK Toys R Us is doing away with gender labels for toys, an important step we can only hope our own country emulates.

Geek Girls and Race: An excellent, badass perspective on what it’s like to be a black female cosplayer.

Women in Tech: The first perspective a high school girl gets on programming shouldn’t be negative, and it’s every high school teacher’s responsibility to work on that.

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.

‘In a World,’ Gives Voice to Women

UnknownThe feminist movement has always been about giving women an equal voice in the public sphere. The first wave was about getting the vote, inheritance rights and the right to be considered a separate being from one’s father and husband. In the subsequent waves, it’s been about claiming reproductive autonomy and being heard in industry, science, politics and the arts.

But in spite of more than a century’s work, many spheres remain resistant to valuing women’s voices, and Hollywood, even with its reputation as a liberal haven, is one of them. “In a World,” written, directed and starring Lake Bell, takes on the male-dominated world of actors who do voice-overs for movie trailers.

Named after deceased movie trailer legend Don LaFontaine’s catchphrase, “In a World” is about a young woman named Carol Solomon (Bell). Carol is a gifted but not very successful vocal coach with a habit of recording any unusual accent she comes across, with or without the speaker’s permission. A typical gig involves teaching Eva Longoria to speak with a Cockney accent. Carol also aspires to do voiceovers.

She lives with her dad, Sammy Soto (Fred Melamed), a famous voice actor and heir-apparent to LaFontaine. Sammy, who is about to get a lifetime achievement award for his work, doesn’t encourage his daughter’s vocal ambitions, telling her the industry has no interest in women. His protegé is a younger voice actor named Gustav (Ken Marino, better known in these parts as Vinnie Van Lowe on “Veronica Mars”), and he promises to support Gustav in his quest for the latest big trailer get: “The Amazon Diaries” quadrilogy, starring Cameron Diaz.

Sammy is also getting serious with his much-younger girlfriend Jamie (Alexandra Holden), and wants her to move in, which means Carol is out. Carol winds up couch surfing at her older sister Dani’s (Michaela Watkins), though Dani, a concierge for a fancy downtown hotel,  is having a rocky time with her husband Moe (Rob Cordry).

In spite of the tumult, Carol manages to get a trailer gig when Gustav gets laryngitis, and is thrilled when producers start talking about her being the new voice of “The Amazon Games.” But her success may very well cost her her relationship with her father.

“In a World,” for all its heavier messages (there is a scene where Carol tells a young woman her “sexy baby” voice and her habit of uptalking is adversely affecting her law career, saying “We’re women. We should sound like women.”) is one of those lovely slice-of-life films that just makes you happy at the end.

Bell, who moviegoers may know as the icy second wife in 2009′s “It’s Complicated,” plays Carol with a lot of goofy charm. She’s a bit self-centered and immature, yes, but she’s also that ugly duckling friend you know at some point is going to hatch into a force of nature.

Carol’s relationships with her unhappy sister (an uptight yet nuanced Watkins) and her dad feel very real. She despairs of them. They despair of her. Their love is dysfunctional, but they’re there for each other, and in the end come through.

Melamed is great as Sammy, the veteran chauvinist who fears becoming obsolete. In one scene, he talks about his own father, who always made sure to let his son know he would never surpass him. Now that Sammy is the dad, it at first doesn’t occur to him adopting his father’s outlook with his daughters is the wrong thing to do.

The smaller characters are equally nuanced. Bell could easily have made Sammy’s girlfriend a shrewish gold digger caricature. But Jamie is a very nice person, and even though she sounds like a little girl (and Holden has the requisite wide eyes and blond hair), she is far wiser and more mature than the Soto family.

Even Gustav, who Marino plays with his signature smarm, has a nice side.

Most of all, “In a World,” along with all the other amazing woman-fronted films that have come out this year, including “Frances Ha,” “The Heat,” “The To Do List” and September release, “Wadjda,” show that women’s voices are becoming louder and more common. It’s enough to make any woman proud.


Girls And The Future of Feminism

TuesdaySome of the most powerful leaders of the feminist movement today are females who aren’t yet old enough to drive. They can’t get into an after-hours club to see a favorite band, order a drink, buy cigarettes or vote. But they are talking about reproductive justice, sexual expression, and political accountability better than anyone right now.

It’s slowly, but loudly becoming clear that millennials (and younger) are not only relevant to the feminist discussion, they are shaping it. The online space has exploded with blogs about teens and feminism—namely, by feminist teens. Feminist academia is understanding, on a curriculum level, that studying this demographic is essential to understanding the very history of women’s studies, and most certainly it’s future. Young girls from Austin to Afghanistan are inciting the most provocative feminist discourse right now by simply living—and defending—their convictions.

Feminism is far from dead, as headlines so exhaustingly decree. In fact, girls are killing that very idea. Consider these young ladies who are leading the way:

Tuesday Cain: This 14-year-old from Austin became the center of an Internet media frenzy by speaking up about reproductive rights—in an awesome, witty way. When the Texas legislature recently voted to approve a sweeping round of abortion restrictions for the state, Tuesday joined her parents on the Capitol steps to protest. Her sign, written on the brightest power-pink poster board, read: “Jesus isn’t a dick; so keep him out of my vagina!”

Awesome, right?

She was immediately attacked by the conservative media, jerks on Twitter, and even her own state’s legislators. They called her a whore. They called her parents child predators. They called her ugly and yelled in her face. Her dad, pictured with Tuesday in the photo, wrote this eloquent defense of Tuesday and feminism[Read more...]

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.


‘Frances Ha’ Shows The Pain of Losing Your Best Girlfriend

Frances HaThe only really disconcerting part of “Frances Ha” (opening May 31, nationwide June 14) is that the filmmakers decided to shoot it in black and white. Not that there’s anything wrong with black and white; the shadows pop and even the bleakest landscapes look beautiful. It just kinda screams artsy pretension, especially since the film is mainly set in New York among 20-something hipsters. 

But that’s not fair to this lovely little gem, directed by Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale”), nor are the inevitable comparisons to Lena Dunham’s “Girls” (though some of those might have been avoided by not casting Adam Driver in a supporting role).

Because “Frances Ha” is a great look at women’s friendships, particularly those intense bonds you form in your late teens/early 20s that, when they end, hurt far worse than any romance.  [Read more...]

Feminism Is Evolution: Why “I’m Not a Feminist” Happens, and What We Can Do About It

Feminist Confession: At eighteen, I considered myself a postfeminist living in the postpatriarchy.  Now that I’m a feminist who thinks that if you’re not angry it means you’re not paying attention, just writing that makes me cringe.  It’s hard for me to remember what I was like when I sincerely believed that women’s oppression was a thing of the past.  Yet looking back, maybe I wasn’t so different from your little sister, or your college friend who didn’t get it, or your brother’s girlfriend whom you have nothing in common with.  So as I unpack my journey to feminism, I hope to discover a few kernels about what leads a woman to avoid the feminist label.

One thing stands out with startling clarity: I didn’t want to identify as a “feminist” because that would mean that I identified as an oppressed woman.  My mid-nineties girlhood was full of Girl Power!  Jewel, Sarah McLaughlin, Melissa Etheridge, and Alanis Morissette dominated the airwaves, and Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch” defined the summer of 1997 with the fervent embrace of a woman’s right to be contradictory and then leave her latest man in the dust.  Emulating famous male soccer players, Brandi Chastain tore her shirt off, exuberant that she’d scored the winning goal for the Women’s World Cup.  When my seventh grade class had to draw a scientist, I ignored the cliché mad old professor with beakers bubbling away to draw myself as a thirty-year-old biologist.

[Read more...]

Celebrating Feminist Progress On International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (March 8th) makes us wax nostalgic about our favorite feminist icons (Gloria Steinem, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sarah Weddington, Hillary Clinton, Madonna). There are so many women to thank for where we are today, and even more to look to for where we are going. Our new book, Sexy Feminism, is a celebration of how far we’ve come and the liberties we are afforded today to be confident, individuals in our feminism. To embrace this sentiment, here are some polls to take, share with your friends, and discuss with anyone. Feminism can be fun, but it’s always something we should talk about.

What Is the Most Important Issue Facing Feminism Today?

Who’s Your Favorite Feminist Role Model?

What’s the Sexiest Feminist Thing a Man Can Do?

Why Did You Become A Feminist?


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