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 →

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 →

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 sex war debates still prickle feminists, and I’m predictably on the fence about porn. The title of the book Pleasure and Danger remains relevant because porn is both those things, a crucial point about sex that we should always remember. For example, recently on WMST-L, the Women’s Studies discussion list, someone posted a call for papers about porn culture. The call was clearly anti-porn, and the posting provoked a brief but rapid pro-/anti-porn debate before the moderator shut it down for being inappropriate to the mission of the list. The pornification of consumer culture, which is not the same thing as porn culture, isRead More →

New media critics say that new media technologies turn consumers into producers. Nowhere is this more true than in amateur porn production. An article in Wired gives this as an explanation for why the porn industry is feeling an economic crunch. The porn industry is posting losses from the endless free supply of amateur porn. Of course, despite the losses, the porn industry is still thriving, but it makes me think of the relationship between amateur and professional porn. The whole idea of amateur porn raises a host of uncomfortable issues about women’s autonomy and subjectivity. All the feminist arguments about exploitation, victimization, hate speech,Read More →

Several people have asked me about “Shoot the Messenger”‘s interview with‘s Moe and Tracie. Part of me doesn’t want to give this ‘tempest in a teapot’ any more of the blogosphere’s energy. But frankly, after enough people asked, I watched the train wreck of an interview, went to, to Tracie “Slut Machine”‘s website, and even read’s response post along with their reader comments to it. My first “profound” observation is I just don’t get it. I don’t get why anyone would see these two women as role models (which is what Shoot the Messenger claims), even in the most pedestrian sense. TheirRead More →