Moving through the world as someone who identifies as bisexual or queer, I’m always navigating difficult experiences that compartmentalize my sexuality. I’ve been labeled “indecisive” for not being more assertive in which sex I prefer to date. I’ve been called “disgusting” because my desire to date women makes some people uncomfortable or possibly more accurately, question their own sexuality. And, of course, I’ve been told that my experience is a phase that will soon become a distant memory as I evolve into heterosexuality, find the perfect man, marry and become a Quiverfull woman who embraces domesticity and leans away from my career.
But none of these experiences trouble me as much as a recent experience I had in which I, and women like me, were named sexually perverse. The U.S. Supreme Court hearing regarding California’s ban on same-sex marriage has surfaced some polemic debates on the rights of the LGBT communities. In my experience, when opponents to marriage equality aren’t being downright nasty they’re crafting negligently harmful stories that characterize same-sex loving people as menacing. We’ve all heard some of the narratives: “Gay people will convert our children,” “Giving gays the right to marry will compromise the institution of marriage,” “Gay people lack a moral compass which is why they’re okay with being gay,” and “What’s next, sex with animals?” Keep reading »
Don’t get me wrong, I am a sucker for the message “seriously, though, you’re beautiful.” And I agree with the viral clip, so many of us get distracted by all of our perceived flaws. We get caught up in criticizing our appearances and miss out on our own beauty. We are often more generous toward strangers than we are toward ourselves.
I like that the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign is pointing all of this out. I hope it starts a bunch of conversations. And I hope that my reaction is interpreted as a continuation of the conversation, rather than nitpicking criticism. Because I really don’t want to nitpick, I just want to point out some things I noticed as I was watching.
In the clip, some lovely, thin, mostly white women who are all pretty young describe their appearances to a forensic artist, who sketches them without looking at them. And then other people describe these women, and the artist starts all over again, based on the new description. At the end, the women are shown the two portraits of themselves, and they can see how differently the sketched faces turned out, based on the descriptions. They realize that they’ve been unnecessarily critical of their appearances. Keep reading »
This piece was cross-posted with permission from the Ms. Magazine Blog.
On Tuesday, Mother Jones released an audio recording of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaking with members of his reelection staff. Much of the conversation focused on actor Ashley Judd, who, until recently, was rumored to be mulling a run against the current Senate GOP leader. For the most part, the recording is typical opposition research. An aide rehearses Judd’s public politics: She loves Obamacare, is pro-gay marriage and self-identifies as a feminist.
None of this, of course, is much of a surprise — Judd campaigned for President Obama and has spoken publicly on behalf of NARAL Pro-Choice America. More disconcerting than the rehashing of Judd’s political ideology, however, is when the discussion veers from policy to Judd’s reproductive choices and then quickly to her mental health. Keep reading »
“I will sleep rough, scrounge for my food, access all the services that other homeless individuals in the West End use. I will interact with as many homeless people as possible and immerse myself in that lifestyle as deeply as I can.”
These are some of the last recorded words from Lee Halpin, a British filmmaker that was found dead while immersing himself in homeless life as part of an application into a competitive journalism program. In a video recorded days before his body was discovered in a boarded-up hostel, Halperin discussed his plan to document his experiences living for one week as a homeless person, in what he described as a “fearless approach to a story.”
“It certainly feels brave,” he said, “from where I’m sat right now.” Keep reading »
When I was in middle school, I was required to create a diorama illustrating a hypothetical synagogue sanctuary (as you do, at Jewish day school). All I remember about my project is that I glued a picture of Gene Siskel to one of the walls. My teacher rightly called this out for being inappropriately idolatrous, but in the moment, I’d thought that I’d been paying appropriate reverence to an important man. After all, Siskel was Jewish, he had just recently passed away, and, until his death, I watched him and Roger Ebert weekly on television. I loved movies and knew I wanted to be a filmmaker, so I valued the words of Siskel and Ebert as highly as any of the words I was reading in school. These men cultivated my already-growing passion for cinema, and I’m certain that their enthusiasm was a contributing factor in my eventual interest in writing and film criticism.
In the years that followed, I’ve paid attention to Ebert’s ever-expanding body of work, and though I knew of his illness, I was shocked and saddened by his passing last week. I’ve now read plenty of articles praising him for his accomplishments and successes, and I can’t disagree with anything that’s been said. His writing was prolific, his persona was friendly, and he made the general public give a damn about film criticism. His absence will be felt by all who love movies.
Where I begin to disagree with the accolades, however, is the claim that Ebert was a feminist. Keep reading »
Usually movies like Tyler Perry’s “Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” are right up my alley. You don’t see a Tyler Perry film because you’re under any illusions it will be good. At their best, Perry movies excel at hitting the sweet spot of terrible, the kind of bad movie you can’t wait to pick apart with your friends afterward. Why else did I go see “Twilight: Breaking Dawn — Part 2″ in theaters? I was under no illusions I was seeing a good film. I wanted a glorious waste, and boy, did I get my money’s worth. Michael Sheen’s evil laugh was worth the price of admission alone.
Like Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room,” Perry’s films aren’t so much made as they are loosely cobbled together, and it’s fun to point out the seams in his craftsmanship. The sound design is terrible, the acting is all over the place and the film takes place in about seven different genres simultaneously. “Temptation” can’t decide if it wants to be a melodrama, high camp, a morality play, a broad comedy, a Lifetime movie or a potboiler, so it makes the proceedings into a $5.99 buffet — a little bit of this, a lot of that, doused with camp and unintentional humor. Douglas Sirk would have loved Tyler Perry.
However, despite my best efforts to find the film funny, there’s something immensely troubling about the morality slopped in with Perry’s genre stew. The film is about a Christian woman’s destructive sexual awakening and an affair that leads her away from her marriage. “Temptation” initially feels like a rebuttal to readers of Kate Chopin (or, heaven forbid, E.L. James) showing how passion can destroy the stability we take for granted. The main character is the therapist for a “Millionaire Matchmaker”-type who has her wandering eye on a billionaire client. He looks like a male model, is named Harley and drives a red sportscar. He espouses the belief that humans should have sex like animals. [Spoilers after the jump!] Keep reading »
As most people already know, the ubiquitous Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are expecting a baby. I’m happy for them. Unlike most people, I don’t mind Kim Kardashian. She makes an obscene amount of money for being herself (or the version of herself she wants us to see). I’m someone who’d be happy to make an obscene amount of money the same way.
Despite being here for the media blitz surrounding the Kimye bebe, a recent statement the mom-to-be made gave me to pause. And, no, I’m not talking about that weird fake tweet.
In an interview with BET, Kim Kardashian said, “I have a lot of friends that are all different nationalities, and their children are bi-racial. So they have kind of talked to me a little bit about it, what to expect and what not to expect. I think that the most important thing is how I would want to raise my children, is just to not see color. That’s important to me.” Keep reading »
I never thought I’d have to defend my choice to wear yoga pants. Or to wear expensive yoga pants. Or to wear thong underwear beneath my expensive yoga pants. But the day has arrived. I will and I shall.
With all this hullabaloo about Lululemon recalling a bunch of their yoga pants because they were too sheer, everyone suddenly seems to have an opinion about how women should or shouldn’t cover their asses while doing Downward Dog.
Charlotte Cowles, a regular yogi, weighed in on the Lululemon recall in New York Magazine, attributing the problem to thongs rather than pants:
“The problem with sheer yoga pants isn’t so much that your butt cheeks are visible, but that your thong is. Still, I don’t see why this is a terrible concern, since lots of ladies’ thongs stick out during yoga anyway.”
Keep reading »
The always-inquisitive Jada Pinkett-Smith recently posed a question that has many people scratching their heads and some folks outright upset. In short, she’s wondering if black women ask to be represented in mainstream media, on the covers of magazines like Vanity Fair, shouldn’t white women be represented on the covers of traditionally black magazines like Essence, Ebony and JET?
The answer? Yes and no. Keep reading »
I don’t have to tell you that Steubenville is all over the news.
I don’t have to tell you that the fact that Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, the two teenagers convicted of raping a sixteen year old girl, were only sentenced to a combined three years in juvenile prison, is a fucking joke. Each will serve a year for the rape itself; Mays will serve an additional year for “illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.”
I probably don’t even have to tell you that the media treatment of this trial has been a perfect, if utterly sickening, example of rape culture, with its focus on how difficult and painful this event has been for the rapists who raped a 16-year-old girl then bragged about it on social media.
And I almost certainly don’t have to tell you that the world is full of seemingly nice, normal people who want to go to bat for the convicted rapists. I’m quite sure that you already know about the victim-blaming that’s been happening since this case first came to light. You know about the fact that people have actually come out and said that the real lesson to be learned here is that we need to be more careful with social media (i.e. go ahead and rape but make sure you don’t get caught). You already know that people seem to think that being a sports star and having a good academic record should somehow make up for the fact that you are a rapist.
I don’t have to tell you any of that because it’s all par for the course.
What I do want to tell you is that you need to stop using the “wives, sisters, daughters” argument when you are talking to people defending the Steubenville rapists. Or any rapists. Or anyone who commits any kind of crime, violent or otherwise, against a woman. Keep reading »