Partnering with Men for Feminist Change

C.Hayes photo 2012The American women’s movement is at a turning point. Roughly 45 years into feminism’s second wave, after decades of social change work dedicated to leveling the playing field for women, activists are coming back around to an old idea that’s been with us since the 1970s: the frequently cited maxim that “feminism is for everybody,” men and women alike. [Read more...]

Reconsidering Rashida: Her Slut-Shaming is Bad, But Not “Anti-Feminist”

rashidaMan, Rashida Jones really stepped in it, didn’t she? Following up on a series of ill-advised tweets (with the charming hashtag #stopactinglikewhores) aimed at “encouraging” female pop stars to cut it with hyper-sexual stuff already, Jones channeled her inner Sunday school teacher again last week in the pages of Glamour magazine. Her editorial was intended as an elaboration and clarification—“I didn’t say stop being whores, I said stop acting like it!”—but mostly it was a personal defense. She’s not, she assures us, a “prude.” In fact, she’s a feminist, which I guess in this formulation is the opposite of the moralizing scold the Twitter hordes accused her of being. But she didn’t soften her original arguments, which basically boil down to something about role models, plus Jones being grossed out by the sexualized images of pop stars like Miley Cyrus and Rihanna. [Read more...]

Joss Whedon and the F-Word

Whedon

First, some context: I love Joss Whedon. LOVE HIM. Like swoony, wobbly-kneed preteen-at-a-One-Direction-concert kind of love. I believe that Joss Whedon should be at the top of the short list for the Nobel Prize in Television Awesomeness, if such a thing existed, which it totally should. As far as I’m concerned, based on Buffy and Firefly alone he could have retired in 2003, secure in the knowledge that he had served humanity well. [Read more...]

Free Radicals, Part 2

Radfem(Read Part 1 here.) Last time, I talked about the ongoing argument in American feminism between liberals and radicals, and how our failure to distinguish between the two has left the movement ideologically confused. This confusion causes people to compare fundamentally unlike things (e.g., number of women CEOs vs. unrealistic female beauty standards), and reach conclusions that look oppositional but are really just different perspectives on the same problem. To wit: “We now have women in the Fortune 500, so sexism = OVER!” [Read more...]

Free Radicals

femen protest

Who doesn’t love a topless protest?

(Part 1) Feminists fight with each other a lot; we’re a scrappy bunch. Most of the arguments are useful, a healthy airing of the differences you’re bound to find in a social movement as large and long-standing as US feminism. But there’s one particular argument I’d like to see us put to rest forever. [Read more...]

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Part 1

Burren

Me in County Clare, Ireland NOT thinking about women’s rights.

I should preface this post by assuring you that I did not spend the entirety of my Ireland vacation ruminating about international women’s movements and researching Dickensian penal institutions. I had fun! There was road-tripping, and castle-viewing, and the consumption of mountainous piles of fish and chips. However, this being me, and “fun” having many possible definitions, I also set up some meetings so I could interview Irish activists about that country’s feminist movement. My curiosity was piqued last year following the death of Savita Halappanavar [Read more...]

Points of Entry, or Why Everyone’s Yelling About Sheryl Sandberg

sandbergThere’s an argument that the American women’s movement has been having with itself on and off since since the late 1800’s, and it looks like we’re in for another round this week. It’s an argument about authenticity and the movement’s true purpose, about what qualifies as a real feminist concern and, by extension, who qualifies as a real feminist. In the 19th century you would have heard Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone shouting each other down (politely, over tea) about the enfranchisement of African American men; in 2013 you get feminists tweeting (less politely, beer in hand) about Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead,” which was released today and is causing quite the uproar in ladyblogger circles. [Read more...]

When You Have a Hammer, Everything Looks Like Abortion Rights (Part 2)

When U have a Hammer ArtLast post I was talking about today’s Roe v. Wade anniversary (happy birthday, right to not have babies I don’t want!), and how it started me thinking of all the things that get left out of the feminist conversation because we’re so focused on protecting that law, and on legislation in general. I closed Part 1 by blaming President Kennedy for feminism’s narrow focus on public policy reform; let me explain. Kennedy was the first US President to enter office knowing full well that he owed women big for his victory. [Read more...]

When You Have a Hammer, Everything Looks Like Abortion Rights

Photo from the 2004 March for Women's Lives, t...

Photo from the 2004 March for Women’s Lives (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Part 1)
One week from today, January 22nd, is the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, and people are making a justifiably big deal about it. There will be marching, there will be chanting; everyone will have signs. And I will cheer the demonstrators on even as I wonder why, at least since the ‘70s, abortion access has been the only truly reliable mass mobilizing issue for American feminism. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why it’s so crucial, I just don’t understand why it’s so singularly important to the US women’s movement as a theme, as a PR strategy, as a recruitment tool. I mean, is our ability to get unintentionally pregnant really the strongest tie that binds women together? [Read more...]