• The Daily Beast

    #NeverForget

    Beyoncé Is Our Indigo Girl

    The R&B diva’s ‘feminist’ proclamation at the VMAs recalls feminism’s all-important ’90s—a decade filled with strong, outspoken female musicians.

    In a heart-stopping moment during her 16-minute performance at Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards, Beyoncé made a bold political statement: Projecting a quote from Nigerian feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie onto a gigantic, glowing screen while standing triumphantly in front of the word “feminist.” Bold, but it also felt right after a night of watching female performers dominate the telecast, often with anthems about power and liberation. Feminism is definitely having a moment in pop music.

    Of course, this isn’t really the first time that it’s happened. Twenty years ago, in fact, feminism was also having a big moment in pop music. Granted, no one was flashing the word “feminist” at the VMAs—leave it to Queen B to take it to the next level—but the ’90s, particularly the early to mid-’90s, was a banner time for women in music who wanted to be more than just objects for men to ogle, and to sing about something more than just wanting the pretty boys to like you. Back then, fans could be forgiven for thinking women’s power in the music world was just going to keep growing, but by the late ’90s and early 2000s, the moment had passed and music was deep into a backlash phase.

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  • Serena Williams of the U.S. walks on the court during her women's singles match against Ana Ivanovic of Serbia at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 19, 2014. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

    Last Stand

    Serena & the Decline of American Tennis

    With no obvious successor in place, 32-year-old Serena Williams, the oldest woman to ever hold the No. 1 world ranking, is one of the lone links to America's past dominance.

    The parking lots are full, but there’s only a sparse crowd this afternoon in Center Court of the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio, when the chair umpire of this Cincinnati Open semifinal calls time. Serena Williams, wearing a violet sleeveless top and black miniskirt, with a bright yellow headband over her flowing, highlighted hair, moseys to the right baseline, settles atop it, and begins to sway back and forth awaiting the first serve of the match.

    The tournament is one of the last hard-court warm-ups for the upcoming U.S. Open, the latter of which Williams is the back-to-back defending champ. Like many of her compatriots, she’s in the Cincinnati suburb prepping for the final Grand Slam of the season. In what has increasingly become the norm through the years no matter the event, however, Williams is the only American singles player, male or female, to advance beyond the round of 16.

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  • Ned Dishman/Getty

    Pathetic

    Women’s Sports Are Getting Less Airtime

    Thanks to Title IX, more American women are playing sports than ever before—so why is coverage of women’s sports actually declining?

    My son doesn’t think women can play sports. He’s five. Who taught him this?

    When I looked around to point the finger at the forces corrupting my child, I was surprised when my search led right back to us: We love to watch sports on TV. And on TV women athletes wear a cloak of invisibility.

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  • Allison Gilbert

    LIFE CHANGING

    Connecting With Readers at 15,000 Feet

    Two authors led 16 of their readers on an arduous, life-changing journey to help the residents of a Peruvian orphanage high in the Andes.

    When author Hope Edelman and I started planning a trip that would take 16 of our readers to Peru to work in an orphanage and hike the Andes, we ignored concerns about bringing together a group of women who didn’t know each other and convinced ourselves it was a great idea. Our confidence bubbled up partly because our readers share an important bond that links them to each other and us: We’ve all lost our mothers, and many of us have lost our fathers, too. It also seemed like an exciting way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hope’s pioneering book, Motherless Daughters. But mostly, we just took an enormous leap of faith.

    The experience unfolded unlike anything I expected. It was better and far more meaningful. Women from across the United States and Canada—and from as far away as Thailand and Dubai—joined us for a nearly two-week odyssey called “Turning Loss Into Service: Motherless Daughters & Parentless Parents Unite to Help Orphans in Peru.” The trip combined a challenging trekking experience—hiking as high as 15,373 feet—and doing several days of service work at the Ninos del Sol children’s home about two hours outside Cusco. Because we had no experience putting a plan like this into action, we turned the logistics over to Trekking for Kids, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that leads purpose-driven treks to improve the lives of orphans around the world. This was the organization’s first custom trek in its nearly 10-year history.

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  • RetroAtelier/Getty

    Poll: Women Are Better Writers Than Men

    Women write better, male writers get to the point faster, and both sexes are more likely than not to write about people like themselves, says a poll by the staff of Grammarly.

    The poll and graphic were produced by Grammarly, the world's leading automated proofreader. Using elite natural language processing technology, it checks writing for more than 250 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, enhances vocabulary usage, and suggests citations. Grammarly delivers a passive learning experience that identifies writing patterns and sends users personal recommendations to help understand their most common mistakes and opportunities to develop their writing skills. Grammarly is also the creator of GrammoWriMo, a collaborative writing project to celebrate National Novel Writing Month (November). Last year the project brought together more than 300 writers from 27 countries to create a group novel, which was then sold as an e-book on Amazon and benefitted the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

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  • NBC

    Emmys 2014

    Kate McKinnon: SNL’s New Superstar

    The ‘SNL’ scene-stealer nabbed an Emmy nod for singing about penises and her impression of Angela Merkel. Now she’s on the hit Hulu series ‘The Awesomes.’

    Every actor knows that there are tricks to landing an Emmy nomination. If a pregnancy storyline is written for your character, the birth episode is Emmy gold. A bout with a life-threatening—though not life-ending—illness is always good awards bait. When all that fails, ask the writers to pen you a scene where your meth-dealing former teacher suffers a psychological breakdown.

    Or, if you’re Saturday Night Live’s newest breakout star, you sing a song about traveling the world in pursuit of penises and do an impression of a German chancellor who most of mainstream America has never heard of. Unconventional? Sure. But that’s why we love Kate McKinnon.

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  • Mind The Gap

    Changing the Gender Conversation

    In excerpts from their new book, Lynn Roseberry and Johan Roos argue that the gender gap exists because people don’t believe they can change it. They address those myths and provide solutions.

    Women make up nearly half of the world’s population and now comprise at least half of all college graduates in Europe and North America. Yet men still hold by far the majority of leadership positions in corporations, governments and educational institutions.  

    What are the reasons for this persistent gender gap?  

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  • Married American actors Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall attend a cocktail party at the Calvados cabaret club on the Champs Elysees, Paris, 1951. (FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

    She Knew the Score

    Lauren Bacall Was a Great Liberal

    Of course we know Bacall, who died Tuesday at 89, for her wonderful acting. But we should remember her also as a smart and sharp liberal and anti-communist.

    Lauren Bacall was an amazing actress. The great black-and-white films are fading now from our collective memory now that the video stores are gone, and with Netflix keeping just a fraction of them available to us. But Robert Osborne, the godhead of TCM, will certainly ensure that Bacall’s great films take up most of the channel’s next two days, and rightly so.

    You should know all that. But here’s something else you should know about Bacall. She was a great liberal. And Bogey, too, in fact. They were, in those days when things like this really mattered, deeply liberal and deeply anti-communist. Which was the right thing to be, after all, because communism is as illiberal as fascism. Bogart reportedly once said: “We’re about as in favor of communism as J. Edgar Hoover.”

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  • WENN/Newscom

    Objectification

    Idris Elba’s Battle of the Bulge

    A photo of the studly actor Idris Elba sporting what appeared to be a huge bulge in his pants recently went viral. But men don’t deserve to be reduced to their sex organs, either.

    Last year, we asked the question that’s been on the minds of countless red-blooded women and plenty of men: “Why Isn’t Idris Elba a Bigger Movie Star?” The piece explores what many of us have long known: Elba is talented, likable and, well, attractive—very attractive—so why isn’t his name on everyone’s lips?

    The last few days should have served as some measure of validation for us Elba fans. For once, his name has dominated the news. But the reason he’s been a topic of conversation has left much to be desired, particularly if you’re someone who’s a fan of Elba’s impressive body of work and feels strongly about sexual objectification in media. Recent photos of a dapperly dressed Elba from the set of the London gangster film A Hundred Streets have led to wild speculation about his member, leading many Elba aficionados to believe that his DJ moniker, Big Driis, isn’t just a clever name. Gawker started things off with a bang with the not-so-subtle headline, “Is this Idris Elba’s Dick or What?” The photos quickly went viral, popping up on a number of gossip blogs.

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  • See It, Be It

    Meet Miss Possible

    Barbie can put on a lab coat, but Mattel doesn't let her think like a scientist. Two University of Illinois grads want to give girls a different kind of doll.

    I finally looked at Barbie and the Girl Scouts’ new “I can be…” website yesterday. Tied to a new line of career dolls, this partnership’s, umm, modernized incarnation of Barbie – which aims to teach children they can be anything they want when they grow up – is partnered with an interactive quiz that encourages children to match the proper accessory to Barbie’s career. Much to my chagrin/amusement, I got several answers wrong. It turns out, no, teacher Barbie doesn’t use a computer. Rather, she uses a pen to “grade papers and write down important things.” Also, apparently pilots use “aviator hats to protect them when they fly” – which I don’t think is true. And presidents (note: plural) who lead the government of a country “live in the White House.” In the United States, yes. I’m not sure about all of the other presidents.  

    All of which is to say, thank heaven that little girls (and their parents) have an alternative to “I can be…,” and it’s called “Miss Possible.”  

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