When speaking about women’s accomplishments, Ann Richards said women could easily perform given the chance: “After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.” The same can be said for Princess Leia, who did everything that Luke did. She just did it backwards and wearing an uncomfortable chainmail bikini after having been sexually assaulted by Jabba the Hutt. Think about that when you think about who counts as the heroes of Star Wars. Think about how long it took for Star Wars to tell the heroine’s quest. What does it mean for people to petitionRead More →

Back in 2010, Prince chided Beyonce for her lack of musical knowledge, but was impressed that she understood something about Mixolydian scales and Egyptian styles, WTF. Basically he thought she was quite talented and gifted, but her longevity and survival depended on learning a lot more. I’m not much of a Beyonce fan, and had no interest in Lemonade. The brouhaha over “Formation” is incredibly complex, but not enough to tempt me to listen or buy the album. Visually, the video is fascinating and brilliant, transgressive and offensive. The general invisibility of trans artist Big Freedia, the politics of colorism and authenticity in the deepRead More →

Breast cancer runs in my family, discussed by us for many years only in Southern whispers and associated with deep remorse. It also runs among close friends, whose families are less reserved, but who struggle with deep grief. My family whispers about breast cancer are oxymoronic given the number of books about the women’s health movement that line my bookcases. The women’s health movement ferrets out myths that mainstream science perpetuates about women’s bodies. Sometimes, even today, it’s still hard to distinguish “fact from fiction” in mainstream science without a copy of  Our Bodies and Ourselves, though. Is it true that childlessness causes women soRead More →

Emma Watson is the new UN Goodwill Ambassador for Women. She gave a powerful speech about the “F-word” and women’s issues to launch the HeForShe campaign. The Daily Mail covered her hair. Leonardo DiCaprio is the UN Messenger of Peace. The Daily Mail did not mention his manbun or attire. Compare the coverage for yourself: Her brown locks were swept into a centre-parting and she kept her make-up understated and natural. Completing the look she added a metallic belt and conservative black pumps.   And then this: the passionate environmentalist and “the world body’s new voice for climate advocacy.”     Note: I might getRead More →

Bring Back Our Girls As the tragic spectacle of 276 kidnapped Nigerian girls receives international attention, I can’t help but feel sick to my stomach thinking about Nigerian Scams, and the context in which they arise, in the deepest Hunger Games kind of way. As celebrities stride red carpets in stunning pink, carrying bold posters for the cause, I want to root for “our girls” much the way I cheered for Katniss to save Rue in a mediated extravaganza, a spectacle the state designed to distract me from world poverty, hunger, slave labor, and mass slaughter. Hollywood is filled with the scandalous objectification of littleRead More →

Scandal is a guilty pleasure with its bodice-ripping, twisty-turny Shonda Rhimes storyline. Lauded in many circles as a positive image, Olivia Pope is a familiar tragic trope clad in a power suit. All the blogs say that audiences, particularly women of color, have a love/hate relationship with Olivia Pope, the main character of Scandal, because she’s a two-steps-forward, two-steps-back kinda girl. Olivia Pope is a “fixer” with a heart of gold. She worked on the President’s campaign, helping him earn office. The two fall in epic-level love, and have an ongoing interracial, extramarital affair, enacted physically and sustained emotionally, even when the physical component ceases.Read More →

An aliens and monsters meme floated around Facebook this morning with this annoying cast of images. The meme depicts aliens and monsters in pop culture transforming from ugly and monstrous to attractive and desirous. It asks WTF happened? Here’s my first FB post: “People would rather embrace aliens from outer space than illegal aliens.” My later post: “It’s actually an old pattern from way back when. People who study pop culture say that we had an invasion of alien bug movies when we were afraid the aliens (in this case, Japanese during WW II and Koreans afterward). We’ve been invaded by illegal aliens time andRead More →

Whoopi Goldberg said a few years ago, “I’m too old to compromise.” She meant compromise on her principles, not on other things. At my age, I understand what she means. In the past year I turned a corner where I came to say “Fuck It” to just about everything. I’m too old to nickel and dime myself into a corner on questions of value. My aging role models should be able to illustrate what this means. Traditionally, youth means power for women because they are judged on beauty. Age means power for men because they are judged for their accomplishments. But we are in anRead More →