• 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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  • 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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  • Nintendo

    The Cake Is a Lie

    Sexism Is a Boss Gamer Girls Can’t Beat

    Feminist gamers should have the ability to imagine themselves as traditional sexualized kicking experts and complex pixelated heroes. Vanquishing misogyny won’t always save the world.

    As I played Super Mario Bros. in the early ’80s, a wisp of a child whose eyes were burning, sitting too close to the TV since controller cords were only three feet long, I never imagined a future where video games could make me choke up with emotion. I never thought I’d spend so much money on video games. I certainly never thought I’d be talking about sexism and video games in the same conversation.

    And yet here we are.

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  • The Daily Beast

    Wild Life

    Free-Range Feminist Porn?

    Feminist porn is ethically produced and authentic adult entertainment shattering sexual stereotypes. It’s not all about the orgasm—it’s about letting your inner pervert out.

    Unlike the fair trade certified coffee beans you buy at Whole Foods—you know, the ones with the sticker on the box that say “FAIR TRADE”—it’s not easy to see what “feminist porn” is. Maybe there should be a gold sticker denoting certifiable feminist porn. But for that to happen, we need to establish clear guidelines.

    Feminist pornographers define their craft as “ethically” produced authentic porn that conquers the vast diversities of people and sexuality, while simultaneously challenging stereotypes and identity markers. If that sounds like a lot of jargon, that’s because it is. Basically, people on set aren’t there to fake an orgasm for the sake of a movie; they’re there to let their inner pervert out.

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  • Bernd Eberle/Getty

    SELF-LOVE

    Masturbation Isn’t Just for Bad Girls

    A recent study sparked debate over how often women please themselves—some argued the numbers were much too low. Was the data right, or did stigma win out?

    Women talk about everything when it comes to sex: size, position, duration. Name some aspect of the horizontal polka and it has probably been discussed endlessly among human beings with two X chromosomes. But there is one expression of female sexuality that still remains shrouded in (relative) silence. For women, the love that dares not speak its name is self-love.

    Female masturbation remains one of the most stigmatized topics to discuss. Certainly, we are no longer in the days where men and women are warned they will go crazy, blind, or sterile from touching themselves. But there is a discrepancy in the way masturbation is discussed in regards to men and women. In 2002, Pennsylvania State University that found women “reported more communication overall than did males on all topics, except for masturbation.” Specifically, these other topics that women felt more comfortable discussing included: STIs, contraception, abstinence, sexual feelings, menstruation, and rape. None of these are exactly the delicate talking points for a pearl clutchers’ tea party.

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  • Cast member Shailene Woodley poses at the premiere of "Divergent" in Los Angeles, California, March 18, 2014. The movie opens in the U.S. on March 21. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

    The F Word

    Why Millennials Think They Hate Feminism

    Yes, Shailene Woodley’s refusal to call herself a feminist was muddled. But bullying her about it does little for feminism’s cause.

    Actress Shailene Woodley pissed off the Internet this week when, in an interview with Time, she declared she was not a feminist “because I like men.” The implication, of course, was that to be a feminist one must also be a dour, man-hating radical, with a wild armpit bush and leg hair.

    It’s a problem that has long plagued feminism: What constitutes a feminist? Is it a particular political ideology? The T-shirts, bumper stickers, pins and mugs define feminism as gender equality, but the term still carries pernicious stereotypes, and card-carrying feminists remain hell-bent on erasing the stigma. And there’s nothing that infuriates them more than celebrities like Woodley who profess to believe in the tenets of gender equality but distance themselves from the F-word.

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  • BY THE BOOK

    A New Page for Feminism

    Books try to appeal to younger generation.

    The F word—no, not that one—has long struggled to become something not shushed in conversation. Sexy Feminism: A Girl’s Guide to Love, Success, and Style was released in March by writers Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and Health Wood Rudolph after the success of their blog SexyFeminist.com. Sexy Feminism attempts to make feminism “cool, attractive, and simple.” But this isn’t the first time writers and publishers have tried to transform the way young women think of feminism. In the 1970s books such as Girls Can be Anything and The Cat Ate My Gymsuit took feminist issues and confronted them in a talkative manner. But new books still have a long way to go until they finally show younger readers that feminism has become rebranded, according to Jordan Larson in The Atlantic.

    Read it at The Atlantic
  • Corbis

    Aunt Flo

    Are Tampons Anti-Feminist?

    Soraya Roberts on how our menstruation-fearing culture keeps periods invisible.

    “They say my flow is heavy so I guess I need a tampon,” Genesis Be raps in “Tampons & Tylenol.” The musician has called her summer song, released last month, a “declaration of women’s power,” but it also serves as a reminder of how that power can be subverted. While the lyrics equate Genesis Be’s rapping prowess with her gender, they also suggest that this prowess should be suppressed—and that the tool of suppression could be the perenially popular feminine hygiene product. The MC recently told The Village Voice that she penned the tune after failing to find tampons at her local convenience store. Here, literally, the tampon is invisible just as it, lyrically, renders her "flow" invisible—the point being, you've got to hide your blood away.

    “There’s no social benefit from having a period, so suppressing it makes a lot of sense to a lot of people,” Sharra L. Vostral, author of Under Wraps: A History of Menstrual Hygiene Technology, tells the Daily Beast. It certainly makes sense to Ke$ha. The famously “edgy” singer, who has bragged about drinking her own urine, told WBLI radio-show host Syke last month that the only thing she considers “off limits” on her reality show is changing her tampon. Considering how many people saw red after Giovanna Plowman ate hers, not to mention how female artists like Carina Ubeda are marginalized for using their menstrual fluid in their work, it’s little wonder that periods and pop culture don’t mix.

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  • Evan Agostini

    Sarandon’s Stand

    She’s Not a Feminist?!

    Lizzie Crocker on why Susan Sarandon and other powerful women are distancing themselves from the word.

    Of all the female celebrities to eschew the feminist label, Susan Sarandon seemed a most unlikely candidate. The 66-year-old actress has long been outspoken about everything from women’s reproductive rights to voting and human-rights issues.

    But when The Guardian asked in a recent interview whether she would call herself the F word, Sarandon turned up her nose.

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  • Ariel Skelley/Corbis, Ariel Skelley

    WEBSITE LAUNCHED

    Championing the F-Word

    No, the other f-word.

    A new website was launched to encourage women to use the f-word: feminism. Onward and F-Word is dedicated to gender equality and creating dialogue between men and women, "to create a society in which the feminist movement is no longer misunderstood." The site was founded by Jaclyn Munson, a writer who was inspired by the story of a former child prostitue. Onward and F-Word features personal blogs, women's news and resources for women ranging from the Planned Parenthood website to our very own Women in the World Foundation. 

    Read it at Onward and F-Word
  • Helen Sloan/HBO

    CULTURE WARS

    A Game of Genders

    Is ‘Game of Thrones’ a man’s show?

    There’s no doubt that the HBO fantasy Game of Thrones is a hit, but are its fans more male or female? The show wasn’t pitched as a manly-man series, and the series’s author, George R.R. Martin, has gone on record as a feminist, yet critic after critic has claimed that it doesn’t draw women because, ew, blood and guts and stuff. This is not only false, as proved by a massive fan base of women devoted to the feisty female characters, but also a harmful assumption to make. As Sexy Feminist points out, “Saying that violent works appeal only to men reinforces the idea that men are inherently violent.”

    Read it at Sexy Feminist
  • College Polish

    Confessions of a Rap-Loving Feminist

    It’s possible to hate the patriarchy while humming ‘Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe.’

    I was at what would be one of the last college parties of the semester. The mood was relatively low, half the group was talking politics, and the nonpartisans were leaning against couches trying not to get sucked into another Benghazi conversation. I was a solitary couch-leaner trying to tune out the shouting, humming a Young Money hit from a few years back. Before I knew it, I was singing aloud, “My room is the g-spot / Call me Mr. Flintstone, I can make your bed rock.” I covered my mouth with my hand and looked around. No one had noticed; my secret was safe.

    I have an addiction to hip-hop. And while there are certainly some sophisticated artists in the genre like Talib Kweli and Lupe Fiasco who incline toward more meaningful, sophisticated lyrics, that’s not the type I listen to. I like the embarrassing, repetitive, demeaning hip-hop from artists like T.I. and Flo Rida, who make music so catchy you want to play it constantly, but so overtly sexual you don’t want anyone to know what you’re listening to. Many of these songs revolve around a drawn-out, obvious sex metaphor. R. Kelly sings, “I’m gonna take my key and stick it in the ignition.” 50 Cent chants, “I’ll take you to the candy shop, let you lick the lollipop.” I’ve become shameless; working on a Chaucer paper while my computer sings about booties shakin’, poppin’, and rollin’. My parents wince, my friends shake their heads, but like some kind of addict, the ridicule isn’t enough to make me stop.

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  • ifuwerentafraid.tumblr.com

    Sheryl Sandberg's latest campaign to bust some glass ceilings.

    Fresh off her bestselling Lean In (currently enjoying its 10th week on the New York Times bestsellers list), Sheryl Sandberg has a buzzy new catchphrase for ambitious young women: in a new video and accompanying Tumblr, her organization asks, What would you do if you weren’t afraid? The video combines first-person testimonials on insecurity—reminiscent of the recent Dove campaign, but about ambition instead of appearance—with vintage clips from the Makers archive, pointing out in voiceover that boys are encouraged to be leaders, but that “when little girls lead, they’re called bossy. Over time, children internalize these messages.” That means by the time they graduate from college, women are less inclined to ... ahem ... lean in. So what would they do if they weren’t afraid? Ask for a raise. Tell off catcallers. Stand up for what’s right. And, in the words of Beyoncé, run the world.

    Read it at What Would You Do if You Weren't Afraid tumblr