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.

A Skeptical Lesbian Goes to a Strip Club

On the Upper East Side, at the edge of the Triborough Bridge, there is a place called Sapphire where girls are gems and dollars translate to lap dances, or very expensive bottles of Dom Perignon.

Last Friday was my first foray into the stereotypical straight man’s playground otherwise known as the Strip Club. My friend, M. planned this evening in honor of her birthday. She had never been to one and I decided I’d use this gathering as my excuse to see what all the fuss was about.

About ten of us, mostly lesbians, took the nervous/excited walk from a nearby bar to the club. As we walked farther east—almost no-man’s land by this West Sider’s standards—some of us made dirty jokes to keep our minds occupied while others smoked hurriedly in the thirty-degree cold.

Soon, we found ourselves at the foot of our own Troy. With topless girls. We were going in.

Full disclosure: I made the initial notes for this article on a scrap piece of paper while still at the club.

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Girl Kisses (and More) In TV and Film: A 20-Year Retrospective

It’s been twenty years since two women first kissed on a prime time television series. (To find out which show, read on.)

So to celebrate, here’s a brief chronology of girls-who-like-girls characters in TV and film. While many such story lines are produced to merely titillate audiences (see Virginia Heffernan’s 2005 New York Times article on television series using lesbian subplots during sweeps week), I can’t deny that these shows also opened up a larger dialogue in our culture. Here are some of the most positive examples of girl love from the past two decades:

1991: L.A. Law delivers the first on-screen girl-on-girl kiss in the episode, “He’s a Crowd.” Here’s how it goes down: Abby and C.J. (played by Michele Greene and Amanda Donohue, respectively) share a meal together after Abby is turned down for a partnership at the firm. Afterward, they kiss outside in a parking lot. C.J. identifies herself as “flexible” (possibly the first character to ever use that term on television) while Abby considers herself completely heterosexual. Although this subplot doesn’t go very far (and was mostly used as a ratings ploy), I have no doubt that without it the list that follows probably wouldn’t exist.

1996: While the ten-year run of Friends did not primarily feature a lesbian relationship, the episode known as “The One With the Lesbian Wedding” is quite a milestone. Long before the legalization of gay marriage and civil unions, Carol and Susan walked down the aisle and declared their love in a relatively traditional ceremony. On a particularly sweet note, Ross, Carol’s ex, offers to give her away in lieu of her father who disapproved of the marriage.

1997: Ellen DeGeneres as Ellen Morgan comes out on Ellen in the now-infamous “Puppy Episode.” While the show’s ratings suffered and DeGeneres’s own personal revelation that she is gay set off a major backlash, it wasn’t long before she was back on top—hosting the Emmys in 2001, performing a new stand-up comedy routine on HBO, and of course, launching her daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Oh and need I mention marrying one of the most gorgeous women alive, Portia De Rossi? She’s also a Cover Girl—which is both a milestone and an awesome slap in the face to her critics.

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Who Says a Girl Can’t Be King?

Homecoming: a time of parades, pep rallies, and the crowning of the school’s king and queen. This year, Patrick Henry High School in San Diego put a new twist on an old tradition. The student body elected Rebecca Arellano as the first female homecoming king and her girlfriend, Haileigh Adams as their queen.

It’s a small wave in the sea of change for gay teenagers—and girls in general—but it’s one worth noting.

I have been out of high school for exactly ten years and out of the closet for almost the same amount of time. While my suburban New Jersey high school was no Mississippi, it certainly wasn’t as progressive as Patrick Henry. We didn’t even have a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance), an after-school activity that has become a staple at American high schools in the last decade. There were three or four openly gay students, one of whom was a close friend. As far as I’m aware none of these students (or myself) encountered major harassment or bullying. Interestingly, my close friend experienced far worse at home than he ever did in the halls or cafeteria of our high school.

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SF Talking Points: Women and Same-Sex Experimentation, Can A Wal-Mart Fashion Blog Empower Women?

College Not So Much A Place Of Same-Sex Experimentation: A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the “LUG” (lesbian until graduation) phenomenon is not as common as popular perception might suggest. Out of 13,500 responses, 10% of women ages 22 to 44 with a bachelor’s degree said that they’d had same-sex experience — compared with 15% of women with no high school diploma. And of the total 13% of women who reported having had same-sex experience, only 1% identify as lesbians, and 4% as bisexual. What could explain this? Quotes selected by the NYTimes suggest that it is because it’s erotically thrilling for people, especially young men, to imagine college women having sex, and the representation of college in the media bolsters this. Or perhaps it could be because women in college are just more vocal about their experimentation and are “out to prove something”, as opposed to high school dropouts, who may simply have sexual relations with women because they are living in “surroundings with few desirable and available male partners.”

It’s not surprising that this stereotype has been turned over on its head. Quite a few TV shows and movies about college life are made for young men who think it’s hot for girls to make out on top of beer-drenched tables — because that’s why women go to college, right? — but that’s obviously not an accurate representation of all college girls. [Read more...]

SF Talking Points: Lesbian Wages, Mistresses and Food vs. Sex

What’s With the Lesbian Wage Premium?: According to research in a recent post by Marina Adshade of BigThink, lesbians get paid 6% more than straight women, even when you control for differences in education, race, profession, number of children, and location.  Could it be because straight women have the eventual expectation of a male partner? Is it because gay women already have experience resisting gender stereotypes — and therefore don’t feel the need to play roles in the workplace? Do lesbian ladies tend to negotiate for raises more than their heterosexual counterparts? Apparently nobody knows for sure, but I might have to follow the plan that Adshade came up with for a Hollywood screenplay:

“An ambitious, young, heterosexual woman disguises herself as a lesbian in order to land herself the job of her dreams. Her handsome colleague takes her into his confidence and, of course, she falls in love with him. After a series of comedic events, she eventually gets her man and reconciles herself to mediocre wages, along with all the other heterosexual women.  It could be a modern day Twelfth Night.”

Minus the part where she reconciles herself to mediocre wages.

In “Black Swan,” Natalie Portman incarnates “both an ideal of inviolate femininity and its dark mirror image”: “Black Swan” tackles themes like misogyny, oppression, femininity, liberation, and madness in the wake of perfection — and if its lead actress, Natalie Portman, hadn’t gone through an internal struggle much like that of the character she plays, the movie mightn’t have been as powerful as it was (or as flawed). AO Scott writes in a recent New York Times article, “…she is both the black swan and the white, both the perfectly controlled performer and the pure creature of instinct,” and that, although we know that Nina does not really turn into a bird, and that Portman is not really Nina, “we also know, on the irrefutable evidence of our own eyes, and the prickly sensation of our skin, that she is.”

On that note, the 2010 Women Film Critics Circle Awards were announced, and Black Swan won Worst Female Images In A Movie. This seems…off. The movie is a strange hybrid of docufiction, drama, and horror and it uses its strangeness and outrageousness to provoke — not to make its audience comfortable. So it seems, to me, that by simply deeming the physical manifestation of the attainment of art at the cost of sanity (that was a mouthful) “the worst female images in a movie,” they are kind of missing the point.

2010 Was Apparently “The Year Of The Mistress“: According to a article, that is. But, as Sadie Stein of Jezebel writes, “when half of said mistresses are Tiger Woods’, does this even constitute a trend?” So why isn’t it The Year Of The Sleazy Oversexed Man (Most Notably Tiger Woods)? It takes two to tango, CNN.

So Women Think About Food More Than Sex: I would be interested to find out what men think more about. If 25% of women think about food every half an hour, and 10% think about sex…I’m going to bet that whatever the percentage, it would be 50-50 for men, even though I’m sure everyone ASSUMES intercourse would be higher. My position is that food is just so damn good.

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