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. Read More →

I now view Hillary with the love/hate of an ex-girlfriend. Bernie’s been a great disappointment. Even Jeb Bush is more appealing at this point. A wimp like him would lead the country with safe inaction. But instead, we’ve got Bernie throwing chairs, and Hillary clutching her pearls in lofty dismay. Instead of demonstrating leadership, my party is in the middle of a bad marriage. Clearly, class issues matter here, too: Uptown girls make arched eyebrows and snide excoriations at Brooklyn street kids who resort to verbal shivs. We don’t talk about that, though.   In 08, feminist philosopher Nancy Frasier criticized Hillary and her supportersRead 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 →

Until the end of the last century, women didn’t stand up in front of audiences and give speeches on a regular basis. The women who chose to give speeches struggled with challenging gender norms just like women who entered male-dominated professions. Even today, men far outnumber women as politicians and CEOs, the kinds of folks who give speeches regularly in the public eye with media coverage. Nonetheless, as a 21st-century public, we’re more comfortable seeing women behind a microphone saying serious things. Plus, feminist scholars of rhetoric and feminist historians have uncovered the histories of many women speakers who contributed to US history, so ourRead 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 →

A recent visit to the ophthalmologist reminded me of the marriage plot and how much it’s woven into the fabric of our everday lives – even down to medical records for health care where marriage is irrelevant. Why does marital status affect eye care? The marriage plot is the standard narrative arc of stories that culminate in middle class, heterosexual romantic bliss. It’s the two-kid, picket-fence story of heteronormativity, i.e., not just heteronormativity or compulsory heterosexuality, but compulsory heterosexuality come to closure with marriage. Why does my eye doctor care if I’m married? Why check a box indicating married, divorced, or single? How is thatRead More →

Today I had a hot flash in my office, which is a feat since my office is ice-box cold. My cheeks got red, my hair clung to my neck, and I got prickly both emotionally and physically. It was a full-fledged where’s-my-chainsaw inferno. To celebrate the hotflash in this blog entry, I searched for an amusing yet affirming cartoon-like picture of a uterus – something Alison Bechdel might draw or Betty White might have laughed at, oh, thirty years ago. All the uteri out there are hungry for babies, not old and happy to retire.  Pictures abound of pregnant women, women with headaches,  and relativelyRead More →