I recently tried once again to read George Orwell’s 1984.
As always, I got a few chapters in and had to stop because it was so depressing that I couldn’t live in Orwell’s evocation of mind-controlled totalitarian world for a minute longer. One thing I did get out of the experience was adding one more time reading the early chapters including the Two Minutes Hate scene. Early in the book the hero, Winston Smith takes part in his office’s mandatory daily group hate ritual, an exercise in bonding and mind control....read more
I am a feminist. And I wear makeup almost every day, and have for over ten years....read more
So last week, President Obama delivered an inappropriate compliment to California Attorney General Kamala Harris — inappropriate not because it was insulting or prurient but because, well, it concerned her appearance, and they were at a political event, and that’s not the place you talk about a woman’s appearance. He said:
She’s brilliant and she’s dedicated, she’s tough. She also happens to be, by far, the best-looking attorney general. … It’s true! C’mon.
he apologized for it.
But some people don’t like to hear important men apologize for stuff. At Jezebel, Lindy West responds to Washington Times columnist Jack Engelhard, who is pissed that Obama apologized because just for a moment, just for one shining moment, it seemed okay for Engelhard to do any damn thing he wanted without taking any time out to consider the feelings of women. Luckily, West provides for us a handy list of times when it’s appropriate to compliment a woman so you don’t have to go to jail over it....read more
Indonesians idealize whiteness. It permeates every aspect of an Indonesian woman’s life, from clothing to beauty regimens. My relationship with skin color is complicated here. Having brown skin allows me to blend in more in crowds. Most Indonesians love Indians, having been raised on a plethora of ‘90s Bollywood movies.
At the same time, I sometimes find myself wishing for a little of the unwanted attention my white Fulbright friends receive. Indonesians don’t clamor to take pictures with me or seek to practice their English – I’m hitam manis. Instead, my skin color means I have to fight for my claim to be American.
The innocuous question, “Dari mana?” (where are you from?) is one I sometimes dread in the taxi....read more
I frequently hear people say that art has no political power, that it is merely aesthetics and/or money. Many countries repress the power of art by punishing the artists. Here the dominant culture disparages art’s power and commoditize it and among other things turn it into a speculative consumer product. Nevertheless, art in our country can be politically powerful and these posters tell it all....read more
This two-part series on labiaplasty is all kinds of horrifying / fascinating / mostly horrifying (part 1, part 2). Usual caveat: Do I think that people should legally be able to do pretty close to whatever they want with their bodies? Yes. Do I nonetheless think that amputating part or all of your inner labia because you want a designer vagina is about 17 kinds of fucked up and says a whole lot about our culture and our views on female sexuality? Yes. The fact that there’s a labiaplasty surgery called “the Barbie,” which removes the entire inner labia, is horrific. Barbie doesn’t have genitals! Barbie is a plastic doll. The goal of looking like you don’t have a vulva — not for any medical purpose, but because normal female genitalia has somehow been deemed aesthetically displeasing — is a pretty disturbing one....read more
Fiona Apple has postponed her South America tour to be with her ailing pitbull Janet. She writes a heart-wrenching, wonderful letter which will feel familiar to anyone who has ever loved and lost a pet or even a person. If you feel like reading something sad and beautiful, is here. A taste:...read more
Periodically, I get around to clearing off my desk and flattening out crimped magazine clippings and saying, “Huh. Look at that.” Today: Harper’s Bazaar features an essay from author and better-than-you person Elizabeth Wurtzel telling you you’re a lousy feminist for not being as pretty as she is....read more
Toiling your whole life to be beautiful (and consequently powerful), but tired of lining your eyes with a pin dipped in lampblack after brightening them with a dropperful of perfume? Of course you are. We all are. There is a better way, free of the traditional harsh chemicals, using completely different harsh chemicals and ritualistic abrasions. In his 1889 Encyclopaedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information, Barkham Burroughs instructs the women of his day “How to Be Handsome” and so “to govern, control, manage, influence, and retain the adoration of husbands, fathers, brothers, lovers or even cousins.”...read more
The classics of yesteryear, brought to you today: From the 2002 National Poetry Slam, Katie Makkai on “pretty.”...read more
I have a love/hate relationship with the hair on my head. I hated it for most of my childhood and adolescence. I was super envious of the curls that many of the other girls in my Jewish school had. My hair was thin and mousy brown. Mousy. I remember seeing that word in the book [...]...read more