Beware commercialized feminism -- or embrace it?

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Laurie Penny reviews Andi Zeisler's ‘We Were Feminists Once’ and considers the progressive dilemma of popularity: how do you turn new popularity into change, when the idea of change is so easily turned into an ersatz commercial product?

As a founding editor of Bitch Magazine, which was first published as a zine in 1996, Zeisler understands the fraught relationship between feminism and pop culture. It’s a relationship of toxic codependency. Activists need the media to help spread the word, even as it pumps out sexist stereotypes; the media, meanwhile, cannot risk losing touch with the zeitgeist. In her introduction, Zeisler describes her book as “an exploration of how the new embrace of marketplace feminism — mediated, decoupled from politics, staunchly focused on individual experience and actualization — dovetails with entrenched beliefs about power, about activism, about who feminists are and what they do.”

However, Penny writes that things have become more nuanced, less monolithic, and that feminists are one again engaging the in the "time-honored tradition" of being too hard on their own movement -- and especially on grassroots creativity that's succeeded despite media indifference.

Granted, as she points out, this newfound feminist populism hasn’t stopped the relentless conservative assault on abortion rights in the United States. Given the tireless work of abortion rights activists, however, perhaps it’s time we stopped blaming feminists for that and started blaming Republicans. The women’s movement has always been good at rebuking itself for every imperfection. The “confidence” promised by Dove body lotion may not be the revolution we have waited for — but feminism could use a little more faith in itself.

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Last chance to help fund series on history's most defiant women

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With a couple of days left, Feminist Frequency is about to hit their funding goal for Ordinary Women, a lavishly animated series about women who dared defy their times--and who history hasn't given their dues. Below is the complete set of preview videos for Ida Wells, Ching Shih, Emma Goldman, Murasaki Shikibu and Ada Lovelace; go help push them over the line at Seed & Spark.

Ida B. Wells (by Sammus)

Ada Lovelace (by Teddy Dief)

Ching Shih (by Jonathan Mann)

Emma Goldman (by The Doubleclicks)

Murasaki Shikibu (by Clara Bizne$$)

The creators of the series are Anita Sarkeesian (of Tropes vs. Women in Video Games fame), Laura Hudson (recently of Boing Boing and Offworld) and Elizabeth Aultman (producer of Yosemite) Read the rest

Badass ladies wrestling: 10 awesome old photos

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Starting with this awesome shot of Bettie Page pretend-ladyfighting with a sexy foe, here are some wonderful photographs of female wrestlers from the 19th century through the 20th, all the way up through the '80s and '90s.

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bell hooks and Emma Watson in conversation

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Paper Magazine's "Girl Crush" series pairs notable women for fascinating conversations, which they transcribe and publish. The series is spectacular, and this interview, between author/feminist/activist bell hooks and actor/feminist/activist Emma Watson, is the best yet. Read the rest

Breastfeeding stickers turn mom's nursing breast into “fruit”

A detail from the campaign, cropped for your work-safe-ishness.

Ad agency Boone Oakley created a provocative campaign in posters and stickers for hospitals to promote breastfeeding to first-time moms.

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Lies Actually

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Because it’s the holiday season, Lady Parts Justice League is giving back by reminding us about the anti-choice forces responsible for creating these terrorists with a reinterpretation of a scene from the Christmas classic, “Love Actually”.

When trying to make sense of these horrifying killing sprees, it's easy to lump the attackers into neat little boxes that give us peace of mind. When we look into those boxes, we don't see ourselves.

There’s a box for the “religious extremist” (but only if it’s in the name of Islam) and one for the “delusional loner” (because if we keep pushing the “loner” idea then we don’t have to face the American epidemic of gun violence).

But there is one mass murderer who doesn’t easily fit into any box: the abortion clinic terrorist.

During his arraignment, Robert Dear said, “I am a warrior for the babies!” 17 times. There's no evidence presented that he had a psychotic episode, but we all hear the voices that dominate our airwaves and the national conversation. Certainly, the clinic terrorist may be a “religious extremist” or a “delusional loner.”

What’s different about the abortion clinic attacker is that the voices in their head are not self-created delusions. Rather, they are the voices of mainstream politicians, mainstream religious figures, and mainstream media. Read the rest

Check out the hot women in the 2016 Pirelli Tire Calendar

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For 50 years, the Pirelli Calendar has featured mostly naked models captured by famed photographers in exotic locales. Not this year.

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1902 trading cards imagine the 'Women of the Future'

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Way back in 1902, a French manufacturer released a set of trading cards designed by artist Albert Bergeret that imagined the "women of the future." The cards envisioned women stepping into roles that would have seemed fantastical to most ladies at the time: doctor, lawyer, politician, firefighter, even members of the military.

Although there's a pin-up quality to many of the images—they're showing an awful lot of arm, after all—there's something charming about this retrofuturistic attempt to expand the role of women in society, even if it was nothing but fantasy at the time. Indeed, fantasy and science fiction can often help us open our minds behind the limitations of the world we live in and imagine a better one instead. In the small and fashionable world of these cards, at least, women were given a more equal role in society, not to mention some spectacular hats.

Here are some of my favorites:

(Lawyer)

(Journalist)

(Master of Arms)

(General)

(Mayor)

(Firefighter)

Check out the full series of cards here. Read the rest

The history of marginalizing women's anger

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Stassa Edwards' "History of Female Anger" is something more than that: a history of how society deals with and neutralizes a recurring challenge.

Women's anger is a powerful force; coded as a dangerous and destabilizing, it wreaks havoc on blissful homes and placid communities. Stereotypes about female anger ubiquitous: the shrill wife, the crazy ex-girlfriend, feminazis, and the angry black woman. These phrases are familiar haunts, easily conjured when women's anger threatens to sabotage a certain sense of social order.

Here's an excerpt from Protection for Women by Jane Anger, published in 1589.

The desire that every man hath to shewe his true vaine in writing is unspeakable, and their mindes are so caried away with the manner, as no care at all is had of the matter: they run so into Rethorick, as often times they overrun the boundes of their own wits, and goe they knowe not whether. If they have stretched their invention so hard on a last, as it is at a stand, there remaines but one help, which is, to write of us women: If they may once encroch so far into our presence, as they may but see the lyning of our outermost garment, they straight think that Apollo honours them, in yeelding so good a supply to refresh their sore overburdened heads, through studying for matters to indite off.

More than 400 years later, "they run into rhetoric as they overrun the bounds of their own wits" is a perfect description of men on twitter. Read the rest

Step Aside, Pops: a new Hark! A Vagrant! collection that delights and dazzles

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Canadian historian turned webcomics god Kate Beaton is back with her second Hark! A Vagrant! collection: Step Aside, Pops. Never before has history been so bitterly funny.

Women engineers refute sexism with #iLookLikeAnEngineer campaign

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After Engineer Isis Wenger at OneLogin appeared in a recruiting ad, sexist comments about her appearance (e.g., "you don't look like an engineer") inspired the hashtag #iLookLikeAnEngineer. Read the rest

"The Computer Girls," 1967 Cosmopolitan magazine article on women working with technology

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Back then, the women themselves were sometimes called “computers.” They used these machines to compute.

For the woman afraid of technology's progress, a set of horse blinders

You've come a long way, baby.

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34 weird vintage photos of women in tiny miniskirts at huge old computers

Vintage Photos of Mini-skirts Behind Computers (4)
Enjoy ogling these broads' gams, and get a load of those ginormous mainframes.

Kickstarting a volume of feminist bicycle zombie science fiction

Elly writes, "We're running a Kickstarter to try to give the feminist-bicycle-scifi-about-zombies genre a big leg up." Read the rest

Ellen Pao: “The trolls are winning.”

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“I have just endured one of the largest trolling attacks in history,” writes Reddit's recently-departed interim CEO Ellen Pao in a Washington Post op-ed today. “And I have just been blessed with the most astonishing human responses to that attack.” Read the rest

Feminist Mad Max meme is an MRA’s nightmare

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The Tumblr Feminist Mad Max combines the feminist charms of the Ryan Gosling “Hey Girl” meme with the feminist charms of Mad Max: Fury Road. Read the rest

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