The other day, I watched “Fela Kuti: Music Is The Weapon,” a 1980s’ documentary about Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti. Kuti’s life has been turned into a hit Broadway play called Fela (see it if you can), and his songs of revolution, strife and struggles of everyday life in Nigeria still resonate today. “Music Is The Weapon” chronicles Kuti’s 1983 failed run for president of Nigeria, and the intimidation and torture he and his family endured at the hands of police. Kuti’s family was rather, um, nontraditional; in the ’70s, he married 27 women — members of his extended band and dancers for his performances — in one large Yoruba ceremony. He called them his “queens,” and apparently he only kept 12 wives on tap in his commune (dubbed the Kalakuta Republic) at any given time, rotating them in and out of matrimonial service. After police pressure on the Kuti compound increased, many of his wives deserted him.
After a stint in prison in 1985 he divorced all of his wives, claiming that he no longer believed in marriage. The women featured in “Music Is The Weapon” were some of Kuti’s closest companions and advisers, the mothers of his children and followers of his belief in radical change for Nigeria. They also had incredible style — as these shots of the women in full performance makeup — prove.
I’m sure many women were experiencing road rage last week when word broke out that a German mayor designated various parking spots for only men, and others for only women. Mayor Gallus Strobel of Triberg, Germany presented a new 220-spot parking lot, with more difficult spots designated for males, because, “men are, as a rule, a little better at such challenges,” he said. Riiiiight.
Strobel’s comment is not only sexist, it’s also not completely true: a study conducted by National Car Parks, the U.K.’s largest parking lot operator, tested 2,500 men and women’s “parking coefficients” by scoring their performance on seven parking behaviors. And guess what, haters? We’re actually pretty good at it. Keep reading »
The border city of Juarez, Mexico — found just across the river from El Paso — has a woman problem. Women disappear, are sexually abused, and they often — way too often — wind up dead. The women are young and hopeful — some of Juarez’s victims are as young as 13. And their discarded bodies are often found dumped in dried up river gullies and empty lots, hastily buried in mass desert graves and abandoned buildings. Keep reading »
While we’ve been covering all of the fashion at Cannes, there seems to be a more unsavory undercurrent on the scene: in the 64 years of the festival, just one woman has claimed the most esteemed Palme d’Or award, and this year’s total lack of female directors in the awards’ lineup has sparked international backlash among feminists. Whether Cannes has provided warranted grounds for contention is still up in the air. A petition hosted on Change.org entitled “Cannes Film Festival: Where Are The Women Directors?” has garnered over 2,000 signees, with feminist icon Gloria Steinem, “The Vagina Monologues” playwright Eve Ensler, and award-winning Australian director Gillian Armstrong among them. However, last year’s nominations for the top prize featured four movies by women, while last month’s Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan had a heavy female presence, with many of the event’s 90 films both focusing on female protagonists and directed by women. At the time, Daryl Wein, the director of “Lola Versus” starring Greta Gerwig, said, “It’s a moment happening now for women in film.” Keep reading »
Wellllll okay. We don’t have women at every age, but we do have women from 20 to 41 — in an attempt to show the variety of ways that women age. I’ve always been terrible at guessing how old people really are, and I’m betting I’m not the only one. Twenty-five can look totally different on two people, depending on diet, skincare, heredity and sun exposure (hello, Lindsay Lohan), and so can 40. But whatever your age, I think it’s important not to take it too seriously — you’re only as old as you feel, after all.
A new study done at Dartmouth confirmed what we already knew: Focus on food and you will probably get fat, think about sex and you are more likely to get laid. Forty-eight females were given brain scans while being shown pictures of food, animals nature scenes and people engaging in sexual and nonsexual activities. Researchers found that women who responded more often to the pictures of food were more likely to gain weight in the next six months, while the women who had a greater response to sexual images showed an increase in sexual desire and activity in the next six months. Scientists are excited because it means they can make predictions about our behavior based on our brain activity. I’m excited because I can choose to think less about Girl Scout cookies, more about sex. If only there weren 12 hot guys instead of 12 boxes of Thin Mints in our office right now, it would be a lot easier. [NY Times]