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 →

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 →

The Spice Girls represent “bustier feminism” in the 90s. It is no accident that Enlightened Sexism, Susan J. Douglas’s new book, opens with a discussion of this band. They represent the negation of feminism by commercial cooptation. The Spice Girls are the pinnacle of Girl Power and bustier feminism. They placed Girl Power, a frosted cupcake of an ambiguous message about feminism, front and center in the public imaginary at the turn of the century. According to Andi Zeisler’s Feminism and Pop Culture, the Spice Girls and the Girl Power they promoted were a “shorthand for a kind of a diet feminism that substituted consumer trappingsRead More →

The women on either side of the imaginary moral divide are both gorgeous and potent, both capable of cruel violence, and both dedicated to their own desires. And both understand themselves as victims of masculine oppression. The stakes of their conflict have to do with a derivative, Joker-style gimmick in the toxic makeup (as the deadmeat doctor who cooks up the cream puts it, “I can’t live with turning people into monsters”). Even the final showdown between Laurel and Catwoman is staged so they throw each other through giant images of beautiful models. Got it: the beauty industry is bad. But if it can helpRead More →

It is in this juvenile ecstasy of the modern that we must locate the progeny of the future and initially ponder why a man, who just wants to be a boy, is apparently powerless to profess his innocence and relinquish his sexuality, despite assurances everywhere that he can and must. – Slavoj Zizek in CTHEORYRead More →

I must have wanted simple abundance in my life, otherwise why buy this book, Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ben Breathnach. The Oprah Book Club sticker on the cover was not a selling point. Simple Abundance is a “daybook” diary/journal that teaches readers to “simplify” their lives through consumption. The message is so ironic. On one page, Breathnach tells readers to discard all their glossy women’s magazines because they make us feel bad about ourselves and then on the next, in the very idiom of those glossies, she tells us to go shopping in order to discover our “authentic” selves. For instance, here is a representativeRead More →