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feminism

The Sex Goddess Blues: Building Sexual Confidence, Busting Perfectionism

Many women and girls feel insecure about sex in one way or another, especially when it's new. Why do we feel this way? How can we build some sexual confidence? How do we figure out what we want and ask for it from our partners?

Decoding Sex in the Media: How Lily Allen's "Hard Out Here" (Sadly) Missed the Mark

I really wanted to love Lily Allen’s new song and video, “Hard Out Here."

The British artist, who took time off to start a family, has recently burst back into the music scene with a punchy, sarcastic pop song that slams the widespread objectification and harsh criticism of women’s bodies in so much of modern media. Far sharper than Beyonce’s generic brand of girls rule!, “Hard Out Here” addresses specific feminist issues with acuity and wit.

She discusses the double standard surrounding women’s sexuality (“If I told you about my sex life, you'd call me a slut/when boys be talking about their bitches, no one's making a fuss”), the unrealistic beauty standard for women (“You should probably lose some weight/'cause we can't see your bones/you should probably fix your face or you'll end up on your own”), and even makes a jab or two at Robin Thicke’s rape-y hit song with the sarcastic lyrics like, “Have you thought about your butt? Who's gonna tear it in two?”

It’s about time for an empow

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Decoding Sex in the Media: Why the Media Should Leave Kate Middleton's Baby Bump (And Everyone Else's) Alone

On Monday, July 22nd, England’s beloved Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a son—Prince George Alexander Louis. This child, dubbed the “Royal Baby” by news sources across the globe, garnered an enormous amount of media attention and sparked world-wide conversations. Reporters—and a few independent enthusiasts—have already traced the monarchial origins of the name. Jo Frost, widely known as the “Supernanny” from her reality TV show, publically offered the royal parents her child-rearing advice. A small, vociferous internet group has argued that the Duke and Duchess shouldn’t assign their child a gender, but wait until s/he chooses a gender for him/herself.

But throughout this newsworthy affair, the public spotlight has not strayed from Kate: in fact, media scrutiny of the new mother has intensified.

Before she had even left the hospital, the United Kingdom’s edition of OK! magazine published a “Royal Baby Special,” which included bright, punchy headlines promoting “Kat

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How Do I Let Go of Feeling Sexually Unattractive?

Porphyria asks:

I had sex for the first time shortly after turning 20 (about a year ago), but I wish I had done it sooner. I know I had been ready and willing at age 16 or so -- the problem was just that no one was interested in me that way, but in the other girls around me. It still hurts, in a bizarre and surprising way. I feel like being a virgin for so long was not my choice; I feel like the decision was made for me by other people who decided I wasn't attractive enough to be with. To this day I still wonder if I'm intensely sexually unattractive, and if the occurrence at age 20 was just a fluke that will not repeat itself. How can I let go of this? How can I cope with late loss of virginity and stop seeing it as a personal failure to pass muster in terms of attractiveness?

The Cutting Room Floor: Ms. Magazine/Future of Feminism

As we've done in the past -- like here and here -- today we've got a the whole of a short interview that was excerpted in small part for a piece over at Ms. Magazine yesterday, Future of Feminism: Sex Education As a Human Right.

Given some of the content and certainly some of the comments on another (just a note: a lot of the comments there are really rough, and there is intense transmisogyny afoot) of those pieces, one that I saw right after I'd sent this interview back to the author, I feel like the second half of this interview is particularly important, and I was sorry to see it didn't make the cut.

Q: How would you define feminist sex education?

A: I consider that a work in progress, ever-evolving, but you can see how I do that currently here:

Feminist sex education:
• Emphasizes -- for all sexes and genders, not just one or two -- autonomy, personal responsibility, full and active consent, sexuality in the holistic context of a whole, well-rounded life and healthy, equitable r

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Rape is Rape: Lebanon Edition

In Lebanon (or at least, in Beirut) the joke is that it is equally likely to see a woman in a mini skirt as it is to see a woman in a hijab.

In Lebanon (or at least, in Beirut), European tourists feel at ease that the Lebanese still speak a post-colonial French, and let Beirut be called the Paris of the Middle East.

In Lebanon (or at least, in Beirut), tourists and Lebanese alike flock to the beaches and the nightclubs, openly drinking alcohol, smoking hookahs, and belly dancing to both popular western and Arabic music, creating a strange moment that many see as cultural influence, and many others see as cultural infiltration.

Still—despite the post-colonial familiarity and acceptability of Lebanese culture—Lebanese women remain in many ways decorative objects, openly ignored, slighted or discriminated against in legislation. In Lebanon, a woman cannot pass on her Lebanese nationality to her children. In Lebanon, a woman is not protected from domestic abuse—because the law does not re

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Of SlutWalks, Perfect Storms and Getting Out of the Way

From SlutWalk Manchester by Man Alive!From SlutWalk Manchester by Man Alive!On Monday, I talked about some of my own life, and the central, very personal, issue which kept me from attending one of the SlutWalks, an issue which also central to the walks themselves. On Tuesday, I brought up what appears to be a clear misrepresentation by the media, especially visually, of the walks. In both pieces, I expressed unwavering support for the walks.

While I did not agree with a good deal of it, I appreciated Rebecca Traister writing in the New York Times magazine last week.

But at a moment when questions of sex and power, blame and credibility, and gender and justice are so ubiquitous and so urgent, I have mostly felt irritation that stripping down to skivvies and calling ourselves sluts is passing for keen retort.

To object to these ugly characterizations is right and righteous. But to do so while dressed in what look like sexy stewardess Halloween costumes seems less like victory than capitulation (linguistic and sartorial)

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This is What a SlutWalk (Really) Looks Like

SlutWalk Manchester by Man Alive!SlutWalk Manchester by Man Alive!This is part two of three entries about the Slutwalks this week. I wrote the first part of what I had to say about them yesterday here.

Today I want to briefly address the way that the walks have been visually represented in the media and by many bloggers writing about them, especially those who have been nonsupportive or critical.

In a word, they have frequently been represented by photographs which expressly stated or just implied they represent what people at the walks looked like as a whole, and have been anywhere from just incorrect to exceptionally dishonest in those assertions or implications. Because as far as I can tell, the images that keep getting picked aren't those which are most representative of the protests as a whole, but which are most representative of what a given person either found most provocative or most interesting. Or, which best represent their reasons for nonsupport or mockery.

This isn't unusual with images of protest at

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I Used to Be a Pro-Life Republican

I had a favorite line, in high school, when debating people on the subject of abortion. It was "Hey, that thing in your stomach's not gonna come out a toaster, right? It's a baby!"

Oh, I thought I was really, super clever with that one. Because I loved talking about the babies. I talked about the babies at the high school Young Republicans Club--not only was I the president, but also the founder. I talked about the babies at Club 412, the evangelical punk teen hang-out in Fort Worth I frequented with my friends. I talked about the babies in class. I cried about the babies while I strummed my guitar. I wrote songs about the babies, imagining myself as a broken, murderous whore who regretted her abortions.

I didn't have an opinion one way or the other on abortion until I started hanging out with right-wing punk rock kids in high school. Then, somebody -- probably one of the older teenage punk rock boys I would later fend off in the back of a car or behind the chapel at church camp -- ha

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It's a Powerful Thing

Earlier this week, in the context of another conversation, one of our users at Scarleteen mentioned that her feelings on abortion had changed to a negative when she learned that her mother's pregnancy had been unplanned, and that her mother considered abortion. She said that upset her, because she really liked existing. She did say she was still pro-choice, but her sentiment bothered me all the same. Some of why it bothered me was political, and also about the work that I do and have done. But in thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that the ways it bothered me most were intensely personal.

The truth is, I envy her. A lot. I envy she was able to have a discussion in which her mother made clear she had the right to choose and she chose to remain pregnant and parent her. She wasn't forced, she wasn't pressured, she didn't do what she did because it was the only thing she could do without risking her life, her health, being locked away or hidden or committing a crime. She chose. S

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