I recognize, and have always recognized, that I’m kind of a sucker. And someone who’s spent as much time as I have working in advertising really should find herself less entertained by it. But here’s the thing: After spending so much time in recent times insisting to us that what Lego girls really want is pastel-purple bricks, “mini dolls,” and pre-made sets requiring minimal assembly, Lego has made an ad that I really like. Are they doing it to get money out of people? Yes. It’s what’s known in the industry as an “advertisement.” But it’s one that shows a girl playing with Legos the way research indicates girls play with Legos: Taking the world around her and creating a world of her own, using her imagination to see...read more
This week’s episode explores why girl gamers don’t seem very common, despite surveys suggesting girls make up half of all gamers. And whilst it’s a coincidence we finished this episode the same month that rape threats against women gamers roared back into public consciousness, we’re all too happy to bring actual facts and arguments to a debate where mainstream gaming’s first instinct is to smear the female-identified as a “bitch, slut and whore”. Now, onto those pesky facts…...read more
Why the latest escalation from the constant rumbling fulmination that has become Sarkeesian’s normal circumstances? Because she published another video in her series of Tropes vs Women critiques: Women as Background Decoration: Part 2...read more
After a stupidly long hiatus (entirely the fault of our editor being AWOL, because of a new job), we’re back with a new episode – and this time it’s a topic from the headlines. Now that campus rape in the U.S. is finally getting the attention it deserves from media and federal investigators, the usual pro-rape lobbyists are stepping up their efforts to stop the oh-so-ghastly spectre of rape prevention, claiming that campus rape is way overblown by feminist propaganda…...read more
I’ve been writing about it over at Cosmopolitan.com. Here’s the basic summary of the case. Here are 13 of the biggest misconceptions about the case (this one is especially helpful for Twitter / Facebook / family dinner table fights). And, finally, how the right-wing reaction to women with opinions on Hobby Lobby is a pretty good illustration of how this is all about misogyny and hostility toward female sexuality, not religious beliefs....read more
Just in time for LGBT Pride Month: The Department of Health and Human Services has lifted the national policy barring Medicare from paying for gender-confirming surgery. Decisions will still be left up to regional administrators, but claims will be subject to individualized review and will no longer be automatically rejected for gender-related procedures, just like any other medical procedure. The blanket exclusion will be fully lifted by June 30....read more
Twenty-three years ago, Anita Hill testified before Congress in the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, who is now a Supreme Court justice. Hill’s testimony brought the term “sexual harassment” into the general American lexicon, and changed the way we talk about gender, power and the workplace. At the time, Hill was vilified by the media and treated horribly by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her testimony, and the hostility she faced, galvanized women and feminists across the U.S. On Friday, a new documentary called “Anita: Speaking Truth to Power” will be released. I’ve seen it, and it’s excellent — go check it out.
Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Hill — one of my personal heroes — and to interview her for Cosmopolitan. You can read the whole thing here. A bit of it:...read more
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