Links for Sexy Feminists: Anthony Weiner, Jane Austen, and more

Still At It: Anthony Weiner has doubled down on his decision to stay in the mayoral race, a move some described as “delusional.” One of his former interns put out a calculated tell-all on her weeks with the campaign, which intriguingly mentions that Weiner called several interns “Monica.” His spokeswoman responded by calling the intern several slurs for women, and has since put up an apology of sorts involving an instagrammed shot of a “swear jar” full of cash and a credit card. Ugh. Can we please let the people of New York City focus on the real candidates?

Feminist Undies: Art student Shelly was fed up with mainstream stores’ selection, so she’s printing up underwear to empower the wearer with images of justly celebrated ladies.

Male Allies: A thought-provoking list of ways a man can try his hardest to be an ally to feminism. And we love this little gem on how a father plans to talk to his daughter about safely exploring her sexuality, when it’s age appropriate. We’re also digging this piece by Kareem Adbul-Jabbar on “coming out” as a fan of things besides sports, including the show “Girls.”

Throwback: This piece was written nearly ten years ago, yet the issues with feminists being called “sexist” are totally timely.

GLBT Rights Watch: Louisiana cops are harassing gay men using the obsolete sodomy law, which is still on the books. Meanwhile, Pope Francis says it is not up to him to judge gay priests, but women still can’t be priests. Hm.

Rape Joke: That’s the title of Patricia Lockwood’s poem recently published by the Awl, which has gotten a lot of press considering its genre.

Gift Registries: As modern feminists, we get that the registry for fancy household gadgets should be obsolete, but is asking for cash really any better?

Jane Austen: The celebrated English author will grace the 10 quid note starting in 2017. Sadly, the woman who led a campaign for this to happen received threats from male extremists.

Thanks, The Atlantic, That’s What We’ve Been Saying…

SFcoverSMSince we published our book, Sexy Feminism: A Girl’s Guide to Love, Success, and Style in March, we’ve received our fair share of mixed reviews. Of course we did. It’s a book about feminism. The cover has glossy lips on it. The title has the word “sexy” in it. All of these things pretty much require a careful, even skeptical analysis. Sometimes we got that, sometimes we got worse, and many times we received lovely, thoughtful praise. We’re thankful for all of it (you can review most if it here, Google for more of the less-civil discourse).

Today The Atlantic wrote the kind of thoughtful review we’d been hoping for all along. Rather than picking apart all of our chapters–on dieting, bikini waxing, sex, fashion, female friendship, etc.–as “feminist or not” (in itself notsomuch a feminist act), it revisited the wonderful wealth of books that set out to do just what we did: speak to young women about feminism in an approachable, deliberate way. Our primary goals for our book were to educate and incite discourse, the latter being the most important of the two. Getting women to embrace feminism as cool, doable and–yes, ok, sexy–would be a bonus.

The Atlantic‘s Jordan Larson cited books published from the 1970s to today that celebrated feminism as a right and righteous act for young women–from Feminism for Girls: An Adventure Story to Manifesta and Full Frontal Feminism. We’re honored to be included in this bunch, as they influenced our feminist identity and led to us writing our own book.

Larson doesn’t gush about Sexy Feminism, and indeed raises some questions and concerns that should be raised any time a new feminist text hits the marketplace. And that’s why we’re thankful for this piece. It encourages everyone to seek out these books–all of them–read them, think about them, and decide for themselves what their own brand of feminism looks like.

And then talk about it.

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...]

Hey, LA: Join Us For a ‘Sexy Feminism’ Sex Talk!

We’ll be coming to Los Angeles in July for perhaps our most exciting event so far: We’ve invited relationship and sex therapist Moushumi Ghose, MFA (she of the awesome, “The Sex Talk” series) to join us for a provocative and proactive discussion on sex, relationships and feminism. We’re determined to show everyone how and why feminism makes sex better for everyone.

Our host, The Pleasure Chest, is a leader in sex education and awareness. And they sell really fun stuff too! Here’s our invite, please join us!


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: 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.

Sexy Feminism Excerpt: Our Feminist Meet-Cute

To celebrate the publication of our book, Sexy Feminism, we’ll be sharing some short excerpts of it with you, the readers who helped make this book possible! 

Jennifer and I met when we were both on a journey to find—and become—our true selves. We met when both of our lives were in apparent disarray, because we had just lost the men in them. Jennifer had recently broken up with her fiancé, and I had just moved to New York City and left behind a ten-year relationship. A mutual friend recommended I connect with Jennifer because she thought we would click. What an understatement. We bonded first over broken hearts but quickly moved on to a shared passion to do something bigger than the traditional framework of our lives had outlined for us. In a way, we answered each other’s need to become a feminist revolutionary.

Our first “date” we went to see, appropriately, Bend It Like Beckham, a story of female soccer players and friendship. Afterward, as we talked, we agreed we hated current women’s magazines and wished we had our own publication for which to write, one that would print stories on things we cared about. Bust was just emerging as a more modern Ms. (and note: swoon!), but the newsstand was dominated by women’s self-help magazines—the kind that tells women how to do everything they already know how to do and how to fix everything that isn’t broken. Don’t get me wrong: we both loved fashion, makeup, entertainment, and sex. But if we must write about makeup and fashion, we reasoned, couldn’t we write about the ways they both empower and restrict us? Wasn’t there a lot to be said about how pop culture treats women? Shouldn’t someone be writing more in depth and frankly about women’s sex lives? Where was all the real information in women’s media?

[Read more...]

Celebrating Earth Day: Why Environmentalism Is Feminism

In this excerpt from our new book, Sexy Feminism, we argue why caring about the earth is the kind of activism that can actually save the world. We hope you’re inspired to do something today. We’d also love to hear what you’re doing to help Mother Nature while promoting equality for all. Email us at or comment below.

Why is environmental activism a feminist cause? At its core, feminism is about humanitarianism. Everyone must do her part to ensure a brighter future for the global population. Consider a few recent examples of natural disasters:

The 7-magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 was the nation’s most devastating in two centuries, not for its force but for the insurmountable destruction. This already-struggling country was not equipped to take the brunt of such a tremor, which resulted in the cities crumbling. The death toll of 300,000 and more than 2 million left homeless was the worst blow. The unthinkable crimes against women (rape, beatings) and children (abandonment, illegal trafficking) that followed was the violent aftermath.

Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of starvation in the world — more than 40 percent of its residents are classified as malnourished, and 45 percent of all children are starving. This nation is one of the poorest on the planet, and it also has a history of natural disasters — tropical floods, cyclones, tornadoes, and monsoons hit every year.

In 2007, Cyclone Sidr killed nearly 10,000 people and caused a whopping $1.5 billion in damage — about 2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

Even when disaster strikes industrialized nations — such as the 2010 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the ongoing hurricanes and flooding in the southern United States — those that suffer most are families already living at or under the poverty line. Every time one of these environmental catastrophes strikes, humanitarian efforts are derailed, making already bad situations much worse.

In addition to donating to charities that fight against these atrocities, you have to live your life with respect to how it affects the environment. It matters.

Sexy Feminist Action Plan

Reduce, reuse, recycle. It’s more than just a catchy slogan; it’s something that should be a part of everyday life. Simple, consistent actions can make a world of difference — and just the difference the world needs to survive. Some ideas:

We’d like to demand you never use another plastic bottle or grocery bag, but this is easier said than done. Invest in reusable everything until you no longer need these items, and recycle anything and everything you can. Visit your county’s website for details on everything that’s recyclable. It’s fascinating, surprising, and comforting to know how many things you can toss in the bin to be reused rather than piled in a landfill.

Drive less.

Walk more.

Plant a tree or join a community garden.

Clean out your closets twice a year and take your duds to a recycled-clothing store for credit, where you can buy new looks for way less. This is also a good way to shop when it’s 90 degrees in December but retail stores are stocked with wool turtlenecks and fleece leggings. (This could be happening more, thanks to global warming.)

Get crafty; create new uses for old things. We admit, we suck at this, so enlist a crafty friend or children (they are all awesome at this) to help spark some ideas.

Be a conscious consumer. If more of us buy consciously and demand better products from the corporations that sell us all the stuff we use, then that’s what the marketplace will supply. That’s how green cleaning products became mainstream and how the unfair, unsafe, and inhumane labor practices of some major manufacturers became public knowledge (visit for a directory of retail stores and companies that do not work with sweatshops). Every time you open your wallet, you’re sending a message. It’s an opportunity to speak up without saying a word.

Excerpted from “Sexy Feminism: A Girl’s Guide to Love, Succes, and Style” (2013 by Mariner Books). © Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and Heather Wood Rudulph – All Rights Reserved

Sexy Feminism Excerpt: Feminist Beauty Companies

To celebrate the publication of our book, Sexy Feminism, we’ll be sharing some short excerpts of it with you, the readers who helped make this book possible! 

Consider these feminist-minded companies the next time you need to  stock up on your favorite products.

PeaceKeeper Cause-Metics: Founded on the principles of nonviolence and truthfulness, this company gives all of its after-tax distributable profits to charities that support women’s health and human rights. It  sells only products that come from companies that practice fair labor policies and do not test on animals:

MAC: A favorite of stage actors and drag queens, MAC launched its line of VIVA Glam lipsticks and lip-glosses in 1994 to contribute to HIV/AIDS research and treatment. The MAC AIDS Fund has raised more than $250 million worldwide through sales of VIVA Glam products, which are often endorsed by sexy feminists such as Christina Aguilera, Cyndi Lauper, Mary J. Blige, and Lady Gaga. The lipsticks are freaking gorgeous and they last longer than most. So splurge—and save lives:

The Body Shop:Long gone are the days of hemp oils and patchouli perfumes (though you can still get those here). The Body Shop has a complete modern line of face, body, and beauty products—from mango body butter to mineral makeup—all derived from natural ingredients and sourced from communities around the world to help sustain them. The company also has active campaigns to stop sex trafficking and domestic violence and to raise awareness of global HIV/AIDS:

Pre-order your copy of Sexy Feminism today!

Lessons from Our SEXY FEMINISM Panel

Last night, I had the honor of moderating a panel filled with some of my favorite feminist ladies discussing the big issues of the day (that’s Lean In and gay marriage to you) at Word Bookstore in Brooklyn to promote Sexy Feminism. We had four spectacular women from different parts of the femi-sphere: Rachel Kramer Bussel, the lady to go to for great sex writing and erotica anthologies; Britt Gambino, Sexy Feminist’s gay-lady contributor (as she likes to call herself); Julie Gerstein, an editor at The Frisky; and Jamia Wilson, a media activist. You never really know how panels full of people who have never met will go, especially on such hot topics. But I was blown away by the level of discourse — yes, it was so smart that it was discourse! — as well as the fact that the discussion was entertaining and engaging without being any sort of fight. I wish I’d recorded the entire thing so everyone could see how amazing it was, but instead I’ll give you a few highlights of what I learned:

It doesn’t matter whether the young feminist movement online gets the acknowledgement it deserves from older generations of feminists. Second-Wave women fought hard and fought bravely for so many of the rights we now take for granted: We are no longer our husbands’ property. We no longer need husbands. We have access to jobs they could never dream of, and we have laws and support systems in place to handle domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination. They got us all that by taking to the streets, demonstrating, and agitating. We don’t have quite the same sort of massive, critical issues to rally around, but we do have the Internet. And since a ton of our activism now takes place online, many of the older women involved in the movement bemoan the fact that feminism is dead — they literally don’t see us, despite major “wins” like taking the Susan G. Komen Foundation to task for pulling its Planned Parenthood funding and shaming that weird wave of “rape-friendly” political candidates last year. We talked a lot about this last night, and the fact that older activists are often asking us why we aren’t “in the streets” demanding change. It’s largely because we’re on Twitter demanding change, but this is often not acknowledged by our foremothers as real activism — and it was barely mentioned in PBS’ otherwise exhaustive and spectacular MAKERS documentary about feminist history. But the group basically came to the conclusion that we need to stop acting like daughters desperate for their mothers’ approval and instead, as Jamia suggested, make our own documentary of our own piece of the movement. For the record, I’m so into this idea.

There are feminist yoga retreats, y’all! Because it’s important for feminist activists to take care of themselves so they can give the world all they’ve got. Jamia went to one, and it sounded amazing. To me, it also sounds like a great way to get inspired, bond with like-minded women, and probably come up with a bunch of fantastic new ideas. We need to make these happen all the time.

“Leaning In” definitely has its issues. Julie made the great point that all of these attention-getting books and articles about women in the workplace are, as she said, “asking the wrong question.” It’s not about whether women can “have it all,” or learn new skills from Sheryl Sandberg to climb the corporate ladder. The problem is much bigger and more systemic: We all are making less money for more work, forcing most families to need two incomes and overtime just to survive. That’s why no one, male or female, can have it all. Rachel mentioned the many women now running their own small businesses — you don’t have to lean in if you make yourself the CEO. (I know tons of women doing this right now: My sister runs her own boudoir photography business, my friend just launched a wedding-deals site.) And Jamia, one of the few people I’ve encountered who actually read Lean In instead of just talking about it, gave the best critique I’ve heard so far: She told us about her paternal grandmother, a black woman who raised eight children as a single mother in the south, providing for them by cleaning other people’s houses and taking care of other people’s (white) children. The problem with Lean In, she said, is that it doesn’t take into account the less fortunate people you have to “lean on” to get to the corporate suite.

None of us know what the hell to make of marriage anymore. Obviously, we all think gay people should be able to get legally married. Jamia is engaged, but the rest of us were still wishy-washy on the idea. Britt, for one, isn’t sure about getting involved in the whole marriage machine as straight people have built it. (Can’t say I blame her.) When New York legalized gay marriage last year, she experienced sudden resistance to the pressure to conform to straight-marriage traditions.

It’s good to go hang out with smart feminist women sometimes. I loved just talking all this stuff out with others who care about it as much as I do. I need more feminist bonding in my future.

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