Links for Sexy Feminists: Hugo Schwyzer, Female Engineers, and more

Hugo Schwyzer and Male Feminism: We’ve mentioned the problems with The Good Men Project before, and the problems with Hugo Schwyzer are well documented here. Schwyzer recently announced he is taking a break from the public eye to deal with some personal problems. Here is an interesting take on what these events mean for male feminists.

Wiener Flipside: The woman who rose to fame for sexting with Wiener dishes on her side of things. Feministe has an on-point rebuttal of what she had to say.

Homophobia is So Gay: Literally, in the case of these shirtless French homophobes who don’t seem to see the irony in what they’re doing.

Female Engineers: A resonant post on how women in tech are perceived differently, with a rather unfortunate sounding title.

Caring Careers: There is a stigma attached to those who work in the “care” professions and want to make money, a problem that disproportionately affects women.

Sexy Feminists Read: An early work of Nora Ephron, Crazy Salad, is well worth revisiting. For a poignantly surprising look at the female migrant workers of modern China, check out this excerpt from Leslie Chang’s Factory Girls. And here’s a fun compendium of excerpts from feminist graphic novels.

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.


Links for Sexy Feminists: 30 Rock Finale, Abortion in Mississippi, Going Gray, and more

Tearful Goodbye to 30 Rock: As the groundbreaking show airs its series finale, the Daily Beast has a great summary of what scholars say about the show. What sets it apart is that Tina Fey is just as well known for her role as the show’s creator as for starring as Liz Lemon, writes NPR blogger Linda Holmes. The Hollywood Reporter offers a sweet look at the working relationship between Liz and Jack which, as it evolved, became the soul of the show.

Pink for Women’s Health: The last abortion clinic in Mississippi painted itself pink in a show of defiance, though state bureaucracy is deliberately encroaching on its right to exist.

Gray is the New Brown: Women who let their natural gray shine silver, at Jezebel. The NYT offers a helpful tip from a stylist: make sure you get a good cut.

GenderF***Yeah: Why gender violence is about more than just “men” and “women.”

Hot and Heavy: Amber Kosarick writes on how straight men should approach fat women, but includes wonderful info on body positivity for all sizes. All women can have body image concerns about cellulite, but that shouldn’t be the case, writes Lindsay Kite, also on Everyday Feminist. I nabbed the catchy opener from Virgie Tovar, whose compilation of essays, Hot and Heavy, is definitely worth checking out.

Sexy Feminists Read: ‘Airbrushed Nation: The Lure & Loathing of Women’s Magazines’

We’re sometimes-proud, sometimes-guilty junkies of women’s magazines, so we couldn’t wait to get our hands on Jennifer Nelson’s new book Airbrushed Nation, in which she gives Glamour, Cosmo, et. al. a critical once-over. We talked to Nelson about the good, the bad, the unrealistic, and the terrifying behind the glossies that rule so many women’s lives.

What’s the most surprising thing you learned about women’s magazines in researching this book?

I’d have to say what was most surprising was how I hadn’t even noticed that every topic was approached from a “women aren’t good enough as is” mantra. All the articles from relationship pieces to sex tips to dieting, beauty, aging, even health and money stories are approached as though women need to fix something about themselves, or everything about themselves. This is very different than how men’s magazines approach their stories. There, they think men are just glorious as they are, and they simply offer up articles to inspire, inform, provide humor, or entertain them. Women’s magazines call their books “service,” which is supposed to mean that the stories provide advice and a take away for everything you read, but service has really become another word for makeover.

Why is it so important to look at what women’s magazines are doing? Does anyone take them seriously anyway?

Well, yes actually, that’s the problem—women are taking them seriously apparently. Research has found that after one to three minutes of paging through a chick slick, women feel worse about themselves than they already did. And that three quarters of the cover lines on these magazines provide at least one message about altering your body via beauty products, dieting, exercise or cosmetic surgery. That’s a lot of negative messaging women absorb for simply
browsing through the silky pages. Young women and girls seem to be most affected but that’s where it starts—when we’re young. No matter which magazine you read from Seventeen to Good Housekeeping, typically thought of for older women, the message is the same, the mantra that we’re not good enough and that every photo needs to be airbrushed is drilled into our psyche from the teen years and beyond.

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Sexy Feminists Read: ‘The Girls’ Guide to Dating Zombies’

Need we say anything beyond that awesome title? Just in case, we’ll add that Lynn Messina‘s adorable mocku-relationship book/chicklit novel (buy it here!) takes place in a near future when a virus has turned “99.9999 percent of human males into zombies,” thus making dating … challenging. We talked to her about books for ladies, zombies, vampires, and challenging relationships.

Since you wrote about being a “chicklit” author for us, first we’ll ask: Is this chicklit?

On one level, it’s absolutely chick lit. I self-consciously and intentionally hit every chick lit convention I could think of. But I poked fun at them too. For example, my characters frequently drop the names of famous designers, but they are the most ridiculous names I could think of. So I’m not sure if something can be the thing and the thing it satirizes at the same time.
And how do you think that market has changed in the time since you wrote Fashionistas?
Publishers would have me believe that the chick lit market has completely dried up since Fashionistas. My manuscripts have been roundly rejected for being chick lit at a moment when chick lit no longer sells. In the meantime, I think readers have gotten more sophisticated. When chick lit blew up, publishers increased their output to the point where they couldn’t sustain quality. Readers figured that out quickly enough and grew suspicious and scornful of the label, a label that, to be fair, invited a fair amount of scorn all on its own. I’m not sure where the market is now–whether the backlash is still in full force or starting to recede. Personally, I’m trying my darnedest to create a backlash against the backlash. How am I doing?

Sexy Feminists Read: ‘Much Ado About Loving’

A dating blogger and a PhD in medieval and renaissance literature picked through the best of novels new and old to glean the relationship lessons held within, and the result, Much Ado About Loving, breaks it all down for you. Being passionate readers and obsessive relationship analyzers, we couldn’t wait to pick it up — and talk to co-author Maura Kelly, a seasoned relationship writer (and the onetime dating blogger in the pair), about her heroic efforts with Jack Murnighan to bring us love advice from the likes of Gatsby and Jane Eyre.

Why look at old novels for wisdom about relationships?
Because the real experts on love have been around for a while! There’s a reason why great novels are embraced generation after generation; it’s because their insights ring true through the decades and centuries. The great novelists are so great because of the timeless lessons they impart. There’s plenty we moderns can learn from them.

Sexy Feminists Read: Jennifer Baumgardner’s ‘F ‘em: Goo Goo, Gaga, and Some Thoughts on Balls

We’ll admit it: Jennifer Baumgardner is a bit of a longtime feminist crush of ours. The Manifesta co-author (with Amy Richards) and Third Wave activist offers up a collection of essays on current feminist topics, from motherhood to Lady Gaga, in her new book, F ‘em. We chatted with her about the changing state of the movement, the feminist merits of Eminem and Louis CK, and abstinence worship.

How has feminism changed since you wrote Manifesta?

I guess the obvious things are the things that we didn’t anticipate at all like the Internet and social media and the ways that feminists have popularized the idea that gender might be on a continuum as opposed to just sexuality. That means there’s a lot more room for men.

How have your own feelings about feminism changed since then?

I used to be a little bit more bumper-sticker-slogan. And in some ways I’m more radical. Before I didn’t really trust that I had to figure out these things for myself. At 41 I’m a little bit better at figuring it out. For example, my assumptions about what abortion was like that were based on talking to people who were in the business of lobbying. I’ve realized that those political institutions didn’t have to be my focus.

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Sexy Feminists Read: ‘The Guy’s Guide to Feminism’

We’ve long advocated for including men in feminism, so it’s no surprise that we’re in love with Michael Kaufman and Michael Kimmel’s The Guy’s Guide to Feminism. (In fact, we think it’s the perfect stocking-stuffer for all the men in your life!) The authors — both among the most prominent pro-feminist men — offer their fellow men an A to Z guide for not only understanding the movement, but for appreciating how it benefits dudes as much as it does women. (See entries on: Birth Control, Dads, Friendship, Good Relationships, and, of course, Sex.) We chatted with Kimmel, a sociology professor at SUNY at Stony Brook and the author of Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, about why men should sign up for feminism, how to inject more equality into heterosexual relationships, and why so many men still feel threatened by powerful women.

Why do we need a book about feminism for men?

The thing with men is the question they ask is: What does this have to do with me? They think all feminists are unattractive lesbians who don’t like shaving. But I always thought: Sure, feminism is about protecting women, but it’s also about women claiming their own agency and being unapologetically sexy. Not to be scared of it, to own it. So Michael Kaufman, who is the founder of the White Ribbon Campaign in Canada, and I decided to write a book for guys that holds their hands and says, Don’t be scared. Not only don’t be scared, but there’s a lot here for you.

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Sexy Feminists Read: Jaclyn Friedman’s ‘What You Really Really Want’

Jaclyn Friedman gives us the book we didn’t know we desperately needed with What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety. In it, she walks us step-by-step through why most of us have no idea what we actually want in bed and offers clear, revealing exercises to help us finally figure it out. We talked to her about making our sex lives more feminist, the prevalence of porn, and the value of submission and rape fantasies.

Your book is really about knowing what we want. Why is that so important?

I consider it an act of political resistance. We live in a culture that uses women’s sexuality to keep us malleable. Everybody wants to run women’s sexuality for their own interests. But you don’t have to access the book from that point. It also just creates a more satisfying sexual life. It’s not accidental that we don’t know. When I was doing talks on college campuses for Yes Means Yes [the anthology she edited with Feministing's Jessica Valenti], I started hearing this question phrased differently: How do I know what I want to say yes to? Themore I thought about that question the more I realized, yes. That is our problem.

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Sexy Feminists Read: Pamela Haag’s ‘Marriage Confidential’

Pamela Haag‘s book Marriage Confidential shows — once again — how political the personal really is. She explores the history of marriage, an institution naturally wrought with feminist implications, and in the process reveals why so many are disillusioned with “’til death do us part” these days. We talked with the author about how to build a feminist marriage, avoid the dream-wedding trap, and stop worrying about “having it all.”

What should women, in particular, do to make their relationships the egalitarian partnerships they’ve dreamed of?

The first thing women need to do is to ask for it. We need to be willing—and brave enough—to be clear about what we expect. Sometimes, this might mean putting ourselves at odds with the men in our lives, or acting like an uppity feminist—at a time when “feminism” is a socially reviled term.

And, although this isn’t such a popular thing to say, I think we women need to hold ourselves accountable for our own dreams. It’s easy to fall for premature realism. It’s so easy just to burrow into parenthood, or standards of perfect mothering, and “give up” on the travails and the exhaustion that come with having other dreams and ambitions.

For example, in my book I describe a woman in her 40s who had debated with herself, and her husband, about having children for many years. When we went through the pros and cons, she commented that if she did have children, she felt like she could finally “just relax.” The comment puzzled me at first. But what she meant was that she could just focus entirely on being a mom, and finally give up on worrying about her career and other ambitions.

I think she was articulating a feeling that lots of us have had.  We have to fight against our own urges just to give up in the face of cultural or institutional barriers or judgment.

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