Much will be written on Katha Pollitt’s “abortion is normal” movement. I’m sure I will write more on it later after I at least read some of the book. But for the moment, here’s one thing that caught my eye in her introductory article in The Nation:
Roe v. Wade gave women a kind of existential freedom that is not always welcome—indeed, is sometimes quite painful—but that has become part of what women are.
One thing Roe v. Wade didn’t do, though, was make abortion private.
…Justice Harry Blackmun’s majority opinion in Roe v. Wade was all about privacy, but the most private parts of a woman’s body and the most private decisions she will ever make have never been more public.
And why is that? She seems to blame terrible conservatives and their abortion-clinic regulations, which is a tenuous claim. Why wouldn’t those like Pollitt who want abortion accessible for women to be able to use as they see fit prioritize safe clinics? The regulations are about safety, which of course restricts access. Even if abortion is completely normalized, it’s not as simple as, for instance, trips to the health spa.
Halloween was always a point of contention in our house growing up. Naturally theatrical, I loved dressing up and relished in making my own costumes. And what kid turns down free candy? Sure, Jewish kids have Purim for these things and more, but when you’re in a mainly gentile neck of the woods, it’s a struggle not to be allowed to join in the party. As I grew into adulthood and took a deeper look at Halloween, however, I began to understand my parents’ objections quite clearly. There are definite reasons why Jews and Christians who base their faith in the Bible should re-think introducing and encouraging their child’s participation in this, the most pagan of American holidays.
Twenty-four percent of married couple families with children under 15 have a stay-at-home mom. Ninety-nine percent of stay-at-home moms in the movies get a really bad rap. Search “Best Movie Moms” and you’ll get lists that include Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment, Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, Shelly Duvall in The Shining, and more than a few mentions of Psycho. The majority of movie mothers are either widowed or divorced, careerists or working class, alcoholics or impregnated by UFOs. The closest you’ll get to a stay-at-home mom in post-1940s cinema is Kathleen Turner playing the psychotic Serial Mom or Michael Keaton taking on the role so his wife can pursue her career in Mr. Mom.
In fact, outside of Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side there hasn’t been a truly admirable middle-class, white, stay-at-home mother on the silver screen in over 50 years. Which is probably why Mom’s Night Out received such a negative critical reception when it premiered last spring. We have been acculturated out of believing in the power and purpose of stay-at-home moms. Yet, the criticisms leveled at Mom’s Night Out for its “depressingly regressive” spirit and “archaic notions of gender roles” were not applied to a similar film about a stay-at-home mom released only two years prior. This Is 40 received mixed reviews, but praise for yielding “…some of [Judd] Apatow’s most personal observations yet on the feelings for husbands, wives, parents, and children that we categorize as love.”
So, what made This Is 40 palatable in a way that Mom’s Night Out wasn’t? Is there, perhaps, a culturally acceptable way to be a stay-at-home mom?
Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing dialogue about Star Trek, women, and feminism. See Ash’s previous installments The Wasted Women of Star Trek, Part 1: Tasha Yar, The Wasted Women of Star Trek, Part 2: Deanna Troi, and April Bey’s “An Artist Trekkie’s Guide For Becoming a Better Person.”
Of the three original female leads of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Beverly Crusher is the one that ended up the most well-rounded, but that’s not saying much. Her appearances were even, more often than not showing up as a plot device so as to create that week’s magic cure if the problem wasn’t technobabble-related. She had kind of a rocky start, but came away more developed than even Geordi La Forge or arguably William Riker.
The problem is that development never went very far. Is that a flaw in the character, or a flaw in the conventions of the show?
Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing dialogue about Star Trek, women, and feminism. See Ash Freeman’s The Wasted Women of Star Trek, Part 1: Tasha Yar and The Wasted Women of Star Trek, Part 2: Deanna Troi.
I am an artist and a Trekkie. For me creating art, discussing art and seeing art are important ways for me to disconnect with the negative things in life. They are a distraction from mediocrity. Star Trek accomplishes this goal too at times. Both can act as lenses through which I view the world.
Having just finished up graduate school, another huge catalytic chapter of my life, I think it’s time to take inventory of the human elements and roadblocks I encountered and the parts of myself I need to rehab and examine. I’m finding the types of people I work best with, the ones I find the most interesting, also in turn share basic moralistic virtues. They are kind, thoughtful, candid yet respectful, honest, reliable, practically critical and have great taste in music. On a very basic, Prime Directive level, Star Trek also tackles these virtues in its characters but it’s a little too utopian sometimes isn’t it? Because reality contradicts this naiveté of so many people being good or at the very least aspiring to be better.
I started a personal quest in grad school about the time I witnessed my first adult temper tantrum in academia. I won’t go into details but it was shocking to say the least. Right then and there, I suspected, if I actively pursued trying to be a better person, maybe those around me would start being better people too, or maybe we’d attract each other with some type of space age “good person” pheromone. Here’s what I’ve learned so far and it’s not quite science fiction.
Monica Lewinsky spoke recently to young entrepreneurs and achievers at Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia about her sex scandal with the President of the United States and about how her life was forever altered by the experience.
Sixteen years ago, fresh out of college, a 22-year-old intern in the White House — and more than averagely romantic – I fell in love with my boss in a 22-year-old sort of a way. It happens. But my boss was the President of the United States. That probably happens less often.
Now, I deeply regret it for many reasons. Not the least of which is that people were hurt. And that’s never okay.
But back then, in 1995, we started an affair that lasted, on and off, for two years. And, at that time, it was my everything. That, I guess you could say, was the golden bubble part for me; the nice part. The nasty part was that it became public. Public with a vengeance.
Lewinsky, now 40, wrote in Vanity Fair in May that although the affair was consensual, nothing could have prepared her for the aftermath, when attacks came from seemingly every direction:
Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. . . . The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.
Monica’s bad and immoral decision – every salacious detail of it – was published on the internet:
Now, my brother – and all his fraternity brothers – were privy to my most intimate details. As were my dad and his fellow doctors. And my stepdad, and his World War 2 war buddies. My stepmom and her knitting circle. Even both my grandmothers, then in their 80s, knew about the internet. My whole family. My friends. My friends’ parents. My parents’ friends.
All of this left Hillary Clinton — the supposedly great defender and protector of all women everywhere forever and ever Amen– in a terribly awkward position. She knew her husband was a serial philanderer. Six months earlier Kathleen Willey had accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault and there was also the 12-year affair with Gennifer Flowers and another with Paula Jones and probably others. But Mrs. Clinton had a presidency to save and her own political future to think about so there wasn’t a lot of time to think about a 22-year-old young woman who had been taken advantage of by the most powerful man in the universe. Feminism and all the implications of what it really means to defend the rights of women and that whole glass ceiling business would have to wait.
In public Hillary played the victim. She appealed to viewers of the Today Show on her husband’s behalf, blaming the “vast right wing conspiracy” for all the scandals plaguing his presidency.
Behind the scenes, Hillary was the mean girl.
A story about two old Jewish ladies is making the rounds in the Jewish press, but not for the reasons you may think. Sure, they’re bubbes. They’re children of a Holocaust survivor to boot. But the real reason they’re attracting so much attention is that they happen to be retired professional whores.
Dutch twins Louise and Martine Fokkens (probably not their real last name, since “Fokken” is a Dutch term for “old whore”) have become international celebrities since the 2011 release of their biographical documentary Meet the Fokkens. Women’s magazines like Cosmo picked up on their story shortly after the film’s release, publishing quick little details like:
Louise and Martine (mothers of four and three respectively) became prostitutes before the age of 20 in order to escape violent relationships.
It’s an interpretation that, at best, qualifies as a half-truth. Louise was forced into the sex trade by an abusive husband. Martine, however, became a prostitute out of spite:
Martine followed her sister into the trade, working first as a cleaning lady at brothels before she began turning tricks herself. “I was angry at how everybody around us shunned Louise,” Martine said. “I did it out of spite, really.”
Both women eventually divorced their husbands, whom they now describe as “a couple of pimps.” But they continued working in the district “because that had become our lives,” Louise said.
“Our life in the business became a source of pride, a sport of sorts,” Louise added.
In retrospect, both women say they regret becoming prostitutes.
Reading their story, one can’t help but wonder if mainstream feminist advocates for slut walks and “Yes Means Yes” legislation would condemn the pair for regretting the life they chose. After all, their body, their choice, right? They took control of their bad marriages, divorced the husbands they referred to as “pimps” and chose, fully of their own volition, to remain in the sex trade after their exes were fully out of the picture. Martine and Louise, it would seem, are the originators of the Slut Walk.
Editor’s Note: See part I here in Amelia Hamilton’s series exploring the transformations in feminist history and ideology: The Relevant and the Ridiculous: A Guide Through Feminist History
The third wave of feminism got started in the 1990s as a reaction against the second wave fought by their mothers (both figuratively and, sometimes, literally). There were some central tenets at the heart of third-wave feminism, and they can be illustrated in contemporary music. Join me on a walk through ’90s music, and the ways in which these songs illustrate third-wave feminist ideals.
1. Third-wave feminism went beyond legal equality for women, but empowered women to fight for other social issues as well.
One key way in which third-wave feminism differed from earlier waves was that it wasn’t just about women. Take, for example, the Third Wave Direct Action Corporation, founded in 1992. One of the founders was Rebecca Walker, daughter of second-wave feminist Alice Walker. In 1997, the group became the Third Wave Foundation, and was not only dedicated to traditional women’s rights issues, but worked to “explicitly connect women’s issues to issues of race, sexuality, class, and ability.” This was bigger than simply legal equality for women.
Arrested Development’s “Mama’s Always on Stage” (1992)
Mama’s always on stage
Can’t be a revolution without women
Can’t be a revolution without children
Back in May I assembled this collection featuring “10 of Susan L.M. Goldberg’s Greatest Hits.” Today I present a broader assortment of her writings organized by theme and subject. The first section gathers Susan’s analysis of Lena Dunham’s HBO show Girls. Through dissecting the show Susan presents her “Biblical Feminist” approach to cultural analysis and ideological activism. The root of Susan’s variation of Feminism comes through understanding the Torah in the context of A) the competing ancient Pagan value systems in the Middle East which the Israelites fought against, and B) their parallels today in postmodernism. The conclusion of her Girls series captures her ethos which I share:
The western world tends to see time in a linear sense as if we are always progressing towards perfection as we distance ourselves from our primordial past. The God of the Bible has a completely different perspective, beginning with his name: YHVH (the Tetragrammaton) has a literal meaning “I Am, I Was, I Will Be.” In other words, there is no beginning nor end point for God. Likewise, the Israelites were given a yearly schedule that flowed in cycles known as seasons. We may have moved away from our agrarian roots, but theEcclesiastical lyrics put to song by The Byrds still apply: “To every thing there is a season, a time and purpose under heaven.”
As the western world embraced and assimilated what is essentially Biblical Hebraism, adopting a biblical faith in a Messiah and melding pagan practices with adherence to the cultural norms of ancient Israel known as “commandments,” we grew as a society. We overcame disease, poverty, and ignorance in many areas of life. Not ironically, the same forces that demand we turn away from our biblical foundation have also managed to plunge us into a neo-Dark Age. Modern medicine now faces new plagues, radical governments threaten new poverty, and ignorance is more rampant than ever. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the popular branding of Girls as a show that empowers women.
Modern feminism has returned us to the chains of ancient pagan culture. These goddess feminists think they can get away with it because they’re sure we see the world as they do: in lines. We are marching, they think, farther and farther away from the evidence of our ancient past when, all the while, we are being led back into the same ideologies that bound us as temple prostitutes and mothers of the state thousands of years ago.
Susan takes this moral clarity and creative style to a number of subjects beyond trendy TV shows. She covers cultural controversies, debates within feminism, political hot issues, and ideological squabbles. She also has deep things to say on history and philosophy and the news from Israel and the Middle East. This past summer she also developed a sequel to her Girls series in her writings defining “pop culture polytheism,” the way in which some worship celebrities as the ancient Pagans once worshipped nature gods.
A Biblical Feminist Confronts the Girls Goddesses:
- June 6, 2013: A Biblical Feminist Confronts The Girls Goddesses, Part 1
- June 16: Sex Mitzvah’d: Virginity Isn’t Easy for Girls
- June 23: Money: Is That What Girls Goddesses Really Want?
- June 30: Millennial Girls Are Easy: Sex, Power & Porn
- July 7: Sex for Girls’ Sake: Porn, Art, or Both?
- July 14: Single Issue Goddess: The War on Women’s Intellect
- July 21: Her Body, Herself: The Right Size & Shape of Girls
- July 28: Girls: Best Friends Forever-ish
- August 4: Girl on Girl Action: Girls and the Female Gaze
- August 11: Girls on Boys: The Body Politic of Goddess Feminism
- August 18: Girls: As Famous as their Daddies
- August 25: 5 Uncomfortable Truths About Girls
More Biblical Feminist Culture Critique and Analysis
- Full Frontal Equality
- The Tale of Miley Cyrus in the Words of Allan Bloom…
- How Women Can Transcend the Equality Barrier
- Presidential Sex & Powerless Feminists
- ‘Choose Life So That You May Live’
- Let’s Talk About Sex
- We Are the XX: Feminism’s Branded Sheep
- Porn, Sex & ‘The Talk’
- Biblical Feminism and the Dirty Male Myth
- Chicks Dig Porn
- A Biblical Feminist’s Take on Porn
- Can’t Touch This: American Feminism’s Racial Ignorance
- A Job Many Women Would Kill For
- White Chicks be Pimpin’ their Black Hos
- Feminism Doesn’t Need Re-Branding, It Needs a Revolution
- Abused Language, Aborted History
- Feminists: What Color Is Your Character?
- Brains Not Boobs: Re-Formulating for Feminist Success
- Nazi Is the New Sexy
- Feminists Must Go on the Offense
- Men: Act Like a Lady if You Want to Get a Job
- Girls vs Downton Abbey: Feminism’s Body Politic
- Girls: Take This Tour and Shove It
- 10 Reasons Why Camille Paglia Is the Champion of the Feminist Right
- Feminism: A Rich White Girl’s Game
- HBO’s Girls Get a Much-Needed Dose of Reality
- What the MSM Isn’t Telling You About Medea Benjamin’s Tweet-Fest in Egypt
- Our Bodies, Our Only Sense of Self
- Purim: The Cure for Vashti Feminists
- The Girls Season Finale: Second-Guessing Steinem Feminists
- Turncoat Feminists
- Why Women (and Men) Need Biblical Feminism
- Matt Walsh Demonstrates Why Christians Need Biblical Feminism
- 11 Star-Spangled Super Women
- Reality TV’s 10 Biggest Lies About America
- 10 Romantic Comedy Myths About Women
- 10 Ways ’90s Pop Culture Destroyed the American Male
- Beyonce’s 10 Worst, Anti-Woman Songs
- 10 Reasons Why I Will Forever Love Joan Rivers
- Ross Douthat Loves Lena Dunham for All the Wrong Reasons
- Millennial Actress Refuses to Hyphenate her American Identity
- Republican Gardner Buries the War on Women in Colorado Senate Race
- Feminists: You Will Abort Or Die Trying
- What Makes The West the Antidote to Radical Islam?
- Why Politicians, Cops & Feminists Turn a Blind Eye to 1,400 Rape Victims
- The East Proves the West Needs Feminism
- ‘Yes Means Yes’ to a New Generation of Powerless Women
- Spare Me the Vergara Defense
- The Feminist Response to Ferguson
- Islamic State Sex Slavery: American Feminists Ain’t Got No Time for That
- Republicans Whine, “Chicks, Man.”
- Valerie Jarrett Takes Adviser Role to Prime Time
- Obama’s Creepy 3-Way Date Night
- Oh My Goddess: Picture Proof of the Valerie Jarrett Cult
Pop Culture Polytheism
- HBO’s Picasso Baby: Jay Z Raps the Cult of Celebrity
- Paul, George, Ringo & the Prophet John
- 12 Signs You’ve Sought Redemption Through the Religion of Pop
- The Top 10 Gods of the Pop Culture Pantheon
- How to Become an Official Dude in 10 Easy Steps
- 10 Lessons on Abiding in Everyday Life I’ve Learned from The Dude
- 11 Lessons About Religion I’ve Learned from Pop Culture Polytheism
- Going Oprah: Sarah Palin Gives Up
- July 4, 2014: Salon Crowns Obama Our Messiah
The Intersection of Judaism, Religion, and Pop Culture
- The Unproductive Obsession with Hipster Anne Frank
- The 5 Most Tasteless Hanukkah Gifts for 2013
- Pajama Boy Jewish According to… Marx?
- Slamming Torah: There’s an App for That
- Noah Flooded with Potential for Interfaith Battle
- The New Morality Makes Animals of Us All
- Thank God! Who Is He, Again?
- Why the Non-Stop Punchline Shouldn’t Come as a Surprise
- The Latest Outbreak of Golden Calf Syndrome
- Glenn Beck, The Church & the Real Secret to Disney’s Success
- A Jew’s Take on Jesus Movies
- Noah: A Good Jewish Boy’s Cinematic Drash
- Altruism in Religion’s Free Market
- Religion, Politics & Screaming at the Internet
- The #1 Strategy for Happiness
- 10 More Movies Projecting the Jewish Experience on Film
- 13 Jewish Women Who Changed the World
- Debunking the Jewish Mother Stereotype
- Gay Marriage: Get Over the Theology and Look at the Law
- Judaism’s ‘Chained Wives’ Facebook-Shame Delinquent Husbands
- The Church is Afraid of Islam
- Gary Oldman & the Right’s Latent Antisemitism
Israel and the Middle East
- Forget Freedom! We Have #IranJeans!
- Obama’s Great Jewish Conspiracy That Isn’t
- Boycott, Divestment & ScarJo: Pop Culture Questions #BDS
- 18 Reasons Why You Wish You Were in Israel Right Now
- The Battle Against Israel’s Orthodox Patriarchy
- AP Reporter Reveals the Story Behind Anti-Israel Media Bias
- Obama Moves to Defend Hamas
- ‘Miracle’ Wind Saves Tel Aviv from Hamas Rocket
- One Soldier’s Faith Saves Hamas Female Suicide Bomber
- NDTV Exclusive Footage: Hamas Preps Rocket in Hotel Backyard
- Pro-Hamas Activists Blockade Israeli Arms Factory in Britain
- IDF: Hamas Planned to Wipe Gaza Town Off the Map
- Will the Power of the People Fund the Iron Dome?
- “Angry Black Woman” Schools Students for Justice in Palestine
- How Israel is Winning the PR Battle Against Hamas
- Admiring Ann: 5 Coulterisms for Counterculture Conservatives
- Student Survival Tactic: Think Big
- 15 Tricks and Tips for Getting the Most Out of College
- 10 Ways Not to Land Your Dream Job
- Liberty Island: Liberal’s Newest, Greatest Threat
Part 1: Boob Alert: Top 5 Side Effects of Watching Family Guy
Part 2: Totally Petarded: The Top 5 Masculinity Myths on Family Guy
Part 3: Who’s to Blame for Fueling Pop Culture’s 5 Worst Female Stereotypes?
Part 4: Quiz! What’s Your TV Sitcom Family Lifestyle? Family Guy Vs The Middle
Part 5: 4 Easy Steps to Pitching Your Own TV Sitcom
More TV Criticism, Appreciation, and Analysis
- Game of Downloads: HBO’s Bad Spin on Media Piracy
- Proud Member of the Cumberbatch Brigade
- It’s Not Porn, It’s HBO!
- The Goldbergs & Michael J. Fox Sending Millennials Back to the Future
- Nostalgic for MOM Power
- 3 Reasons to Get Addicted to Call the Midwife
- Pop Culture’s Sexy Double Standard: It’s Elementary
- HBO Girls Just Wanna Have Boys
- HBO Green Lights Men & Capitalism
- The #1 Worst New Sitcom for Fall
- The Ultimate TV Geek
- Seeking Relevance, Networks Broadcast Live
- The #1 Reason We Watch Call the Midwife
- NBC Declares Jerusalem Television’s City of Gold
- The 10 Most Cringe-Worthy TV Flops
- The 10 Most Underrated TV Comedies of All Time
War, History, and Ideology:
- A Punch in the Gut: The Aftermath of 9/11
- Technology & the Vertical Caveat in Generational Theory
- Queen Ann Advises Republicans: Always Listen to Mother
- The 2 Mitzvot That Can Restore Unity on the Right
- My 5 Favorite Ann Coulter Columns
- 5 Ways the GOP Screws Up
- 75 Years Later, You Can’t Forget What You Don’t Know
- 70 Years & Counting: Hitler Is Still Hot
- Conservative is the New Liberal
- Untold War Stories: My Family’s Secret Agent
- James Foley, Radical Islamic Terror, and How Quickly We Forget
- Survey Says Millennials Think Socialism is a Joke
- The Real Reason Why Liberals Are Scared of Women with Guns
- Putin Actively Trolls Your Favorite Websites
Analyzing Ion Mihai Pacepa and Ronald Rychlak’s Disinformation: Useful Intellectuals: Framing Marx for the Next Generation
- Red or Dead: How Stalin Re-Defined American Liberalism
- The Assassination of Patriotism: Intellectuals, Disinformation and JFK
- The Framing of Hitler’s Pope
- Sontag’s Kulture Kamp
- Jesus Was a Socialist: Soviet Liberation Mythology Invades the West
- Back in the U.S.S.R.
- Vietnam, Hippies & False Peace
- Political Gods: Framing a New Reality
- Nomenklatura on Free Speech: Duck That!
- The Winning Move in the War Against the Nomenklatura
- Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge: Starting Down the Yellow Brick Road…
- Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge, Part 1: The Mask of Marxism
- Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge, Part 2: Getting to the Heart of Social Justice
- Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge, Part 3: Who Needs a Brain?
- Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge, Part 4: Are Conservatives Cowards?
- Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge, Part 5: The Drug of Disinformation
- Transcending the Illusion of Left Vs Right
- The Dude Dissects Disinformation
Music Appreciation and Analysis
- Christmas Carol Classic: Romanian Style
- 6 Degrees of Separation: Phil Everly to Llewyn Davis
- Rolling Stone, Privately Traded Company, Advocates Millennials Share the Wealth
- The Story You Shouldn’t Miss Inside Llewyn Davis
- The Religion of Beatlemania Still Going Strong
- A Day in the Life of the Fest for Beatles Fans 2014
- Fifth Beatle Brian Epstein’s Unsung Revolution
- Those Silly, Savage Homophobes
- Paul McCartney’s New Video Aims at #GenerationHashtag
- 9 Essential Paul McCartney Music Videos
- 13 Reasons to Fall in Love with Lana Del Rey
- 15 Songs Millennials Must Listen to in Order to Understand the 1980s
- New Jersey Wines: Challenge Your Assumptions
- 5 Tips for Novice Winos
- Valenzano Winery and the Surprising Appeal of the Garden State
- Cold Soil White: The Finesse of German Wines, American Style
- Sip Spanish Style Wines While You Walk Leisurely Among the Vines
- Savoring Almondberry with My Cousin Vinny
- What Exit for Great New Jersey Wine? Old York, Of Course!
- A Revolution in High Class Winemaking
- 5 Indispensible Wine-O Tools
- Beneduce Vineyards: The Next Big Thing in Jersey Wine
- Give Thanks with these Jersey Wines
- Mulled Wine: Spice Up Your Holiday Table
Also check out my two previous collections of PJ Lifestyle writers:
Ashe Schow has an an interesting article at the Washington Examiner: “Feminist hysteria is causing the infantilization of women”:
When did female empowerment become female infantilization?
Women once were encouraged to be strong and independent, to brush aside insensitive words and actions and to emerge stronger. But now, politicians, pundits, even celebrities are feeding an outrage machine by telling women they should be offended by anything and everything….
This shift toward telling women they need help at every stage of their lives (remember the Obama campaign’s “Life of Julia”?) might raise funds for feminist causes or gain votes for politicians, but it’s not empowering. It’s infantilizing.
People often tell me that feminist dogma often backfires and makes women look ineffective. But looking ineffective is not a problem for many women. They see it as an asset and it is a form of power. Denying personal responsibility for themselves may be infantilizing to the majority of women in this country in a moral sense (yes, people should take responsibility for themselves) but in the current political climate, it is empowering. Society helps women when they plead for help and seem/look helpless. Even white knights are rushing to help women in need for whatever reason, whether just or not. Society rarely helps those who help themselves these days.
1. Early feminism had a point. There were actual societal changes that needed to be made.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, feminism was fairly easy to understand. It was a movement of those who believed that women should enjoy the same freedoms as their male counterparts. This included access to the same level of education and freedom in choosing what they wanted from life–marriage, family, a career. Early feminists were fighting for this equality of status, to be seen as equal to men and, if married, to have rights separate from their husbands. Much of this was a reaction against the “feminine ideal” in Victorian society, which argued that women belonged in the home rather than in educational institutions or the workplace. Hooray for these early pioneers of equality!
Conservative columnist Ross Douthat has declared his love for Lena Dunham. It hardly comes as a surprise that a New York Times writer, even one who dwells to the right of the aisle, would find the Girls prodigy appealing. What makes Douthat’s devotion disturbing is that he has managed to transform a goddess chained to a slew of liberal causes into a sacrificial lamb for conservative culture. In his struggle to do so, his misses the mark in what could have been one of the most culturally relevant critiques of Girls to date.
The critic defends Dunham’s showpiece Girls, writing,
She’s making a show for liberals that, merely by being realistic, sharp-edge, complicated, almost gives cultural conservatism its due.
It’s a seemingly ironic observation, based in the idea that Girls “often portrays young-liberal-urbanite life the way, well, many reactionaries see it…” That is, a subculture on the verge of self-destruction due to excessive amounts of what sociologist Robert Bellah dubbed, “the view that the key to the good life lies almost exclusively in self-discovery, self-actualization, the cultivation of the unique and holy You.”
In other words, as Gawker so simply put it:
He likes watching the show because it allows him to feel superior to Dunham and her fellow sluts.
By employing a rote, traditionalist perspective, Douthat argued himself into a hole, turning his love into judgement and burying his point in poorly-worded theory and equally bad theology.
I didn’t fully appreciate how spiritually free I am as an American woman until I set foot on an El Al plane.
“Do you speak Hebrew?” the fretting woman in front of me asked.
“No, not really.”
“It’s okay, I speak English,” she hurriedly replied, obviously looking for a friendly face. “These Orthodox,” she motioned to the people sitting next to her, “they don’t like sitting next to women.”
“Well, that’s their problem.” My response was pointed, matter-of-fact, American.
She smiled as if a light bulb went off in her head. “You’re right!” Her expression grew cloudy. “But what if I take off my sweater? They won’t like that I expose my shoulders with my tank top.”
Again, I simply replied, “That’s their problem.”
She smiled, empowered. Removing her sweater, she took her seat and stood her ground.
And at that moment I thanked God I was raised in pluralistic America, and realized, oddly enough, that the Holy Land was giving me my first chance to practice the biblical feminism I’ve preached.
Israel is a Western nation in that women have equal rights by law. Israel is also a confluence of religious and ethnic cultural attitudes, not all of which are friendly to women. Two days into our trip to Jerusalem, a family member who also happens to be a retired journalist explained the latest story to hit the nightly news. A man accused of spousal abuse was released to return home. Later that evening, police found his wife had been shot dead. The husband confessed to the murder. Apparently, domestic violence and death is a relatively small but significant problem in Israel. When I asked my former journalist why, he pointed to the influence of Middle Eastern (both Arabic and radical Islamic) patriarchal culture as the primary source.
Yet, even religious Jews in Israel (and around the world), despite their insular nature, are far from immune to sexual abuse. Sex scandals among the Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) show up frequently on the evening news. In this case it’s not the Arab/Muslim influence, but perverted behaviors that arise from rabbinic abuse of biblical teachings. How do you expect a man to relate to a woman sexually when he’s not even allowed to look her in the eye?
10. Daniel Deronda
A multi-part BBC series based on the powerful English classic penned by Zionist George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), Daniel Deronda tells the story of a young gentleman who discovers, through a series of almost mystical events, that his mother is Jewish. A fantastic examination of Jewish identity in Victorian high society, the novel was cited by the likes of Henrietta Szold and Emma Lazarus as influential on their decision to become Zionists. Wonderfully cast, the BBC version is grossly engaging and well worth a marathon viewing.
There’s more fallout from the Ray Rice domestic violence incident and the turmoil it has caused for the NFL – CBS and Rihanna are splitting up.
The network said Tuesday it was permanently editing a song featuring Rihanna’s voice out of its Thursday night NFL telecasts – after the singer issued a profane Tweet about it.
CBS issued a statement saying that it was “moving in a different direction” with different theme music.
The song was one of a handful of elements CBS cut out of its inaugural Thursday night football telecast. At the time, CBS Sports president Sean McManus said Rihanna’s own history as a victim of domestic violence was one part of the decision but not the overriding one.
Had the NFL kept the song in rotation, they’d have been torn apart on Twitter and elsewhere for “bad optics.”
(There’s a “broken occipital bone” joke in there somewhere…)
The league is currently in full hair-shirting mode, pantomiming “outrage” and “concern.”
But of course, some will now scream that the NFL is “punishing the victim” by “silencing a battered woman’s voice” or something. (See below.)
You’ve seen Thriller and heard all about Madonna, but what do you really know about the decade that ushered in the millennial generation? Think the era of scrunchies, boom boxes, pump sneakers and DeLoreans was just a fad? Think again. Some of the 1990s’ greatest pop culture trends were birthed in the millieu of Reaganomics, cable television, and a music video-loaded MTV.
15. Culture Club – “Karma Chameleon”
The ’80s was the decade of John Waters, the B-52s and all things camp coming to fruition. Decked out in eyeliner, lipstick and braids, Boy George popularized the aesthetic of this gay subculture with a poppy little tune about conflicted relationships. As for the music video, where better to set a gay guy’s love song in the ’80s than an 1870s riverboat called the “Chameleon” where a cheating gambler’s karma comes back to haunt him? Dude, it’s the ’80s: “Don’t ask, don’t tell” started here.
13. She has discovered a close kinship with George Costanza.
Sure, she may come off all serious in her videos, but Lana Del Rey has a seriously good sense of humor. According to Rolling Stone, Lana Del Rey ”has a George Costanza-like plan for the future.”
“I’m really specific about why I’m doing something or writing something,” she says. “But it always kind of gets translated in the opposite fashion. I haven’t done it yet, but I’ve learned that everything I’m going to do is going to have the opposite reaction of what I meant. So I should do the opposite if I want a good reaction.” She’s surprised to learn that George tried this approach in an episode of Seinfeld. “Oh really? That’s awesome. Me and George Costanza! Oh my God!”
I pushed off the idea of writing this article when I first heard that Joan Rivers, one of my comic icons, was rushed to the hospital after a botched outpatient procedure last week. I didn’t want to think about having to say goodbye to Joan, to bid farewell to yet another icon of an age gone by, a powerhouse who managed to be a cultural force until her last breath. The only solace we can muster is in knowing that, for these ten reasons at least, Joan’s memory will be a blessing.
10. Joan never grew old or gave up.
At 81, she was as attuned to pop culture, politics, and current events as a 20 year old. A self-made fashionista, the comedian never retired, sat in a chair, or gave in to technology. Joan will forever be a role model to women who refuse to trade style for a shapeless moo-moo and an office chair for a rocking chair. In her later years she paired up with Melissa, illustrating that mothers and daughters really can work together and get along. She was a modern Bubbe, surrounded by her children and grandchildren as she took the world by storm.
1. Be proud of your body. Just the way it is.
Don’t try changing for anyone; you are beautiful no matter what culture says. Be authentic.
In the 36 hours since Beyonce’s muzzled, splayed, headless, and otherwise sexually submissive VMA performance, we’ve seen a comedy sketch at the Emmys that somehow is a setback for feminism because it objectifies women’s bodies. Mollie Hemingway heaped plenty of scorn upon that little inconsistency. But I’m still left wondering how any feminist loved Beyonce’s performance.
Yesterday afternoon, Jessica Valenti went up at the Guardian with this gem of an observation about Beyonce’s performance. After expressing her excitement about Beyonce putting “feminist” “literally in bright lights,” she talked about celebrity popular pressure:
I’m glad that [Taylor Swift] another celebrity with mass appeal – to young women, especially – is touting a movement necessary for gender justice. But the singer-songwriter calling herself a feminist for the first time in the same week that she released a video in which she twerks and crawls through the disembodied legs of women of color shows that it takes more than identifying as a feminist to understand feminism. (Perhaps as Swift browses the feminist section of bookstores she could pick up something on racism and cultural appropriation. Maybe she could read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as Beyoncé clearly has?)
I agree with Valenti that it takes more than identifying as a feminist to understand feminism. I am on record claiming that women rallying around a term about which they know little is the major problem of the movement. But Valenti’s position is that the problem with Taylor Swift’s understanding of feminism isn’t the objectifying nature of twerking, but that Swift is stealing the dance moves of women of color. Women of color are the ones who twerk. That is the essential assumption of the cultural appropriation argument. Maybe Swift isn’t the one in need of a book on racism.
Also check out Leslie Loftis’ analysis of Beyonce’s performance at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards here.
10. “Bow Down/I Been On”
The Church of Bey has clearly gone to the pop goddess’s head. A critic at New Wave Feminism writes:
Aside from repeatedly yelling “bow down bitches”, the song also contains lyrics such as “I know when you were little girls / You dreamt of being in my world / Don’t forget it , don’t forget it / Respect that, bow down bitches”. Apparently, Beyoncé thought the appropriate response for young women who admired her and looked up to her was to call them misogynistic slurs and demand they genuflect in her presence.
This Bey Anthem doubles as the death knell of the sisterhood.