It does my heart good to see women of all races embrace Michelle Obama. It is too rare indeed for a brown-skinned woman, a descendant of slaves, a product of Chicago’s South Side to be lauded on an international stage. Considering the heavy burden of stereotype still faced by black women, I cheer a little each time the First Lady gets some shine for her strength and smarts. But I note that in their eagerness to identify with Obama and make her emblematic of modern woman, some mainstream feminists unwittingly erase a key part of her identity–her blackness–and deny the experiences and histories of many African American women in the process. Keep reading »
A who’s-who list of indie musicians and artists are contributing to a new e-book of essays published to help raise money for the Pussy Riot legal defense team. Three members of the Russian feminist punk band were sentenced to two years in prison for “hooliganism” last month after they staged a protest inside a church and spoke out publicly against Russian president Vladmir Putin. Yoko Ono, Le Tigre’s JD Samson and Johanna Fateman, Justin Vivian Bond, and others will contribute essays to the $2.99 Pussy Riot! A Punk Prayer For Freedom, which is out September 21. [Gallerist NY]
“Boston Marriage” was a term used in the 19th century and early 20th century to refer to two single women living together, independent of men. The term was originally coined in Henry James’ novel The Bostonians, which told the tale of an intimate companionship between two wealthy, Boston women. Rumored to have been based on his sister’s relationship with a woman, James referred to the novel as “a very American tale.” Whether he was referring to the notion of homosexual relationships or the promise of gender equality is unclear. Interestingly enough, Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004. So perhaps Henry James was on to something.
David Mamet brought the concept to popularity again in the year 2000 with his play of the same name, “Boston Marriage.” According to the New Repertory Theatre’s notes on the Mamet play, “[Boston Marriages] potentially fostered rather than interfered with the heady and exciting new ambitions of the early generations of professional women … Most likely, the Boston Marriage was many things to many women: business partnership, artistic collaboration, lesbian romance. And sometimes it was a friendship nurtured with all the care that we usually squander on our mates.” Keep reading »
I’m sure you know a person like me. I’m one of the maybe five people in this country over the age of 16 who’s seen every episode of a teen gymnastics show called “Make it Or Break It.” At 29 years old, I do my own taxes, pay my own bills, put my own furniture together from Ikea, and generally exist as a functioning adult, without problem, complaint or repercussion. I wear nerdy glasses, have bangs and feel very strongly about nail art. I have a job, a career path and a vested interest in things other than J.Crew flats and kittens. I am a grown-ass woman, a one-woman miracle — not a “woman-child,” the latest, freshly hatched archetype from Deborah Schoenenman’s piece, Sparkly Nail Polish, Katy Perry and Frozen Eggs: Meet the Woman-Child, an excerpt from her ebook. What is a “woman-child,” you might ask?
According to Schoenenman, she’s a woman who’s “aging backwards,”a girl who likes nail art and kittens and cupcakes, a girl who has deep and long-lasting female friendships that she values, a girl who maybe isn’t afraid of a polka dot or two. You know the type. The bangs of Zooey Deschanel; that girl in high school who totally knit her own scarves and still gave out store-bought Valentines well into senior year. In Schoenenman’s words:
“She doesn’t have to go into a Tower Records (if they still existed) to buy a Taylor Swift album.She can just download it and blog about her favorite songs on HelloGiggles, a new popular website devoted to all things tween. A ‘woman-child’ is the type to prioritize her female friendships as if she were in a high school clique by posting pictures of her girls’ birthday dinners or boozy vacations on Facebook while her peers post wedding and baby pictures with similar zeal. She truly believes that women are in it together and is all about helping her friends start businesses, meet guys and pick out a cute outfit for a big event. Competiveness among females in the workplace is perceived as totally ’80s. ‘Women-children’ are increasingly looking back to create a new common ground and it’s a warm fuzzy ground.”
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