Feminism | Posted by Jonathan Kalin on 09/1/2015
What Justin Bieber’s VMA Performance Can Teach Us About Modern Masculinity
At the end of his VMA performance on Sunday night, Justin Bieber began to cry. This image has already launched debates about his motivations and as someone who has spent the past 4 years immersed in a movement to end men’s violence against women by critically examining the destructive way men are socialized and the unhealthy standard of masculinity they’re trained to embody, I was fascinated by this moment. But the focus on what was essentially a few seconds of his performance overlooks the many other ways Bieber’s entire performance of his new single “What Do You Mean?” encapsulates the current experience of young heterosexual men in America in a largely unprecedented way.
First, Bieber models a complex attention to consent. I have spent the past
Feminism | Posted by Amber c on 08/31/2015
The Broken Concept of Virginity
Virginity is a destructive, heteronormative concept.
Society obsesses over the concept of virginity. Young girls are taught that they must meet standards of “purity” and “cleanliness” — standards that are determined by whether or not we have had sex yet. But placing so much importance on a social construct essentially designed to perpetuate a culture of slut-shaming and rape culture is dangerous to young girls’ health and well-being.
The truth is there is no medical or biological definition of virginity. The dictionary defines virginity as “the state of never having had sexual intercourse,” but this definition is largely meaningless. While the dominant understanding of “sexual intercourse” is penetrative sex, this ignores all of the people who have plenty of sex that isn’t penetrative. Can they not lose their virginity? How …
Feminism | Posted by Cheyenne T on 07/6/2015
The Complexity of Being A Black Feminist in a Relationship
On losing your first love.
It’s hard being alone after having been with someone for a long time. It’s hard to detach from your first love, to not have that person on whom you can rely for comfort, happiness and safety. You miss falling in love every time you see that person — your best friend — walk towards you.
I recently found myself in this situation, alone after almost two years of partnership. My boyfriend was mother and father, friend and lover to me. Losing all of those people at once — and knowing that he lost the same — was heartbreaking. But knowing that he was one less black man and I one less black woman the other could protect was the most heartbreaking part of all.
Pop-Culture | Posted by Aph Ko on 06/29/2015
“Hot Girls Wanted”: White Respectability and the Erasure of Men
Hot Girls Wanted — a new documentary produced by actress Rashida Jones — follows five amateur porn actresses between the ages of 18 to 25 and details their experiences filming porn and living together. While the documentary’s subjects spoke freely, it seems like the filmmakers still crafted the work based on their preconceived notions about porn: Namely, they chose to portray the young actresses as innocent, exploited victims. The film fails to present the possibility that these women have any agency, erases the experiences of women of color in the industry, and arguably most problematically of all allows the men that drive the demand for this industry to remain invisible.
The character whose narrative anchors the film, Tressa, exemplifies this victimized narrative. Tressa is coded as white (although …
Feminism | Posted by Sabrina N on 06/22/2015
Get #Cliterate: Overcoming Socially Constructed Ignorance
Think you know the clitoris? Brooklyn-based artist Sophia Wallace wants you to think again. In fact, she’s showing the world just how much they don’t know about this powerful organ through her multimedia project, Cliteracy, which combats the lies and myths surrounding the dominant social conception of female sexuality while encouraging people to educate and empower themselves.
The project is as diverse in method and medium as it is expansive. It includes an anatomically correct golden clitoris statute, an interactive clit rodeo, street art, billboards and a mural exploring sexual violence. There’s even an installation piece of “100 Natural Laws” of the clitoris, which range from “the world isn’t flat and women don’t orgasm from their vaginas” to “society idealizes male genitals while teaching girls that their …
Feminism | Posted by Stephanie L on 05/4/2015
When Exactly Do You Become A Woman?
What is ‘womanhood’ anyway?
When exactly do you become a woman? I’ve received a few different answers to this question that I think are worth exploring.
My elementary school nurse told me in fifth grade I would become a woman when my period came. But I take issue with the idea that something akin to the goriest scene of Texas Chainsaw Massacre playing on loop in your pants while feeling like your insides have staged a mutiny once a month means being a woman. And what does that say about menopause — that one’s womanhood expires at a certain age? Sorry, ladies, your time being a woman is over, thanks for playing! I don’t think so. I like to think that womanhood isn’t something that expires or something that …
Feminism | Posted by Emily Lindin on 02/23/2015
On “Just Wanting Attention,” Slut Shaming, and Why We Shouldn’t Apologize
I hear from a lot of girls who are struggling through the hell that is being labeled a “slut” in middle school or high school. Often, they just want to know that they’re not alone. Sometimes, they want to share their experiences with me and even publicly, through The UnSlut Project.
I love hearing from these girls – after all, they are the very reason I started this project by posting my own middle school diaries online back in 2013. But I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in their messages: Many girls will begin their emails with a disclaimer along the lines of, “I’m not looking for attention, but…” or “I know you might think I just want attention, but…” and it always makes me cringe.
Here they are, bravely …
Pop-Culture | Posted by Chloe H on 02/2/2015
The Real Reason Fifty Shades Of Grey Is Sexist
I first heard about Fifty Shades of Grey on NPR when I was 15. It was the tail end of the story, and all that I could glean was the name, that it was an immensely popular work of fiction, and that it was particularly popular among the elderly in nursing homes. Priding myself in being a well-informed and well-read individual, I decided I should be reading this seemingly topical and influential book. I pranced into Barnes and Noble on my high horse, bragging to my friend about how I was buying a very popular book to enhance my personal literature collection. When I told her what the book was, she blushed and said her Mom wouldn’t let her read it.
“Why?” I asked, thoroughly confused.
“Because it’s… porn!” She …