What do we mean when we define a female character as “strong”? When an actress is the protagonist, her conflict is decidedly different than the average male protagonist’s: In literary terms, we often see the female protagonist engaged in a “man vs. self” struggle, while male protagonists wrestle with outside forces. The point is not at all that any one iteration of female “strength” is more admirable – more worthy of depiction on-screen – than another, but rather than our female characters consistently demonstrate one kind of strength while our male characters demonstrate another. Furthermore, when our female characters demonstrate stereotypically “male” strength, they do not win the awards.
These complications of storytelling are all exacerbated by Hollywood demographics :...read more
Season 3 of HBO’s Girls premiered Sunday night, Lena Dunham is on the cover of next month’s Vogue, and after a reporter from The Wrap asked her why she gets naked so often everyone is talking about how often Lena Dunham gets naked. So I am too! Over at the Guardian, I say that Girls is an imperfect show, but Dunham’s nudity is powerful: Not just because she looks more like the average American woman than most women on television, but because her nakedness isn’t primarily ornamental, purposed for titillation and aspiration....read more
We already posted this fantastic piece on internet harassment by Amanda Hess, and over at TPM I’ve riffed off of it to discuss some of my own experiences, and how being targeted with rape and death threats online shaped my “real world” interactions and relationships. I hunted around but couldn’t find any studies on the real-world impact of internet abuse, other than a few documenting the impact of self-harm forums on the people who seek them out. But years after I was the subject of ongoing abuse by fellow law students, I’m wondering just how much it’s changed me — and coming to terms with the fact that it has, significantly, in ways I don’t like. The internet isn’t just a virtual space; it’s real, for most of us. It’s how many of us spend large chunks of our days. There isn’t a clear dividing line between the online world and the offline. And when so many women face so much abuse online, it has to have an impact on our offline lives. How, and how much, is something I would love to see studied and documented. You can read the whole piece at TPM here [content warning: misogynist abuse]....read more
A must-read by Feministe friend Amanda Hess on online sexual harassment, and how legal mechanisms need to be updated to deal with the reality women face. As someone who has lost countless hours dealing with stalkers and harassers — and actually did see one of them go to jail eventually, although for threatening someone else — it was nice to see a story that didn’t just document the harassment, but that highlighted the sheer ineptitude of law enforcement, the American court system and male-run tech platforms in dealing with it....read more
Women are more likely to regret casual sexual encounters than men. Is that because women are evolutionarily predisposed to feel shame after sex? A team of UCLA evolutionary psychologists says yes. I say no:...read more
It’s my dream: I got to write about a Dear Prudence column in the Guardian. This week it’s about a mom who wrote in to Prudence concerned that her husband freaks out when their son wears mom’s ballet flats, and expands into the way we gender our kids from birth:...read more
And while you are welcome to believe whatever you want and do whatever you want within the bounds of the law, large popular platforms have an obligation to not spread dangerous misinformation. Like xojane:...read more
Across the internet, various groups are demanding justice for Daily Coleman, the 14-year-old girl who was allegedly raped by a popular high school football player from a well-connected family. But it’s unclear what that “justice” would actually look like. A special prosecutor has been appointed to the case, and I’m hopeful she’ll be able to shed light on all the facts. But were it not for conservative Supreme Court justices, Daisy could have had other options: She could have sued her alleged attacker under a federal cause of action established by the Violence Against Women Act. I’m writing about that in The Nation today:...read more
The current Republican temper tantrum over health care — you know, the one where they forced a shut-down of the entire government because they don’t want the American public to have health care coverage — is just the logical conclusion of a long line of GOP healthcare shenanigans. But usually, they’re targeting poor people, and poor women in particular. In my Guardian column this week, I’m writing about how this all goes back to the Hyde Amendment:...read more
I’m so very excited to have been interviewed by Drinking Diaries as part of their series on women and drinking. Check out the whole site, which features commentary on women and booze culture. A bit of my interview:...read more
Every time female genital cutting is mentioned on Feministe — every time — someone from the “intactivist” community shows up to derail the conversation and make it all about the alleged horrors of male circumcision. Intactivists, for the unfamiliar, are men (and a few women) who oppose male circumcision. They claim it’s a violation of human rights, that’s it a physical mutilation, that it’s medically unnecessary and that it reduces sexual pleasure. They’re incredibly active online, and I was interested to see that they aren’t just trolling feminist blogs — they’re showing up in the comments of every article written on circumcision....read more
A truly remarkable piece of reporting (including actual good news on maternal health) by Jina Moore in Al Jazeera America:
BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of the Congo – At first glance, Central University Hospital in Brazzaville looks like so many other hospitals in so many other African capitals – home to dimly lit waiting rooms and dirty floors. But inside the freshly painted mint-green walls of the hospital’s maternity ward, a revolution is happening.