Activism

Female Bonding: The Strange History of Wonder Woman

"Bind me as tight as you can, girls, with the biggest ropes and chains you can find!" The woman is smiling in ecstasy, plastered against a large wooden beam, ropes and chains taut against her body, as she begs her captors, a group of jubilant, scantily clad young women, to pull her shackles just a... Read more »

Weighing Reality: Who's Really the Biggest Loser?

"Obesity," declares Charlotte Cooper, author of 1998's Fat and Proud: The Politics of Size, "is just a word used by people to medicalize fat." Extra weight, once considered a genetic short straw, is increasingly characterized as a crisis threatening the physical, political, and moral health of our... Read more »

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Feminism But Were Afraid to Ask

It's a natural, normal part of life. But people hesitate to talk openly about their needs, their desires, and their concerns because they are so fearful of what others might think. But we all have urges, and we all have questions, and the more we can talk about them, the happier and more... Read more »

Board of Education

Each semester in my American popular culture class, my students and I spend a night playing board games. I start them off with games for small children, like memory cards or Strawberry Shortcake adventure games. They play self-consciously, giggling at the losers who can’t master a game for... Read more »

Sims Like the Real Thing

The Sims is a game that consists of little more than creating characters and pushing them through the day, making sure they eat, sleep, stay clean, make friends, advance in a career, and buy stuff. The bodily functions are tedious and the rest is everything I hate about life in a capitalist society... Read more »

The Accidental Jock

I’m not an athlete. I’ve always disliked team sports, with their conformist, vaguely fascist associations. While as a child I longed to be a tree-climbing tomboy, I had to admit a preference for tea parties, dress-up, and long afternoons at the library. Then one summer night, three... Read more »

Ode to Joystick

How can you not love Ms. Pac-Man, a woman for whom power pellets, peaches, and pretzels constitute a steady diet? This is how I feel about her now, but my love for the little yellow gal with the red bow began when I wore bows myself—when I was around 11. Each summer, my mom would drag me to... Read more »

Laughing All the Way to the Polls: Do Female Politicians need a New Punchline?

Once upon a time, politics was serious business. These days, however, presidential merit is measured as much by frat-house standards as by traditional approval ratings (apparently, American ­voters would rather have a beer with Bush than with Kerry), and a well-timed joke can sometimes sway public... Read more »

L in a Handbasket: Kate Clinton's Politics of Funny

Kate Clinton has been called the lesbian Jon Stewart. Her fans, however, prefer to think of Stewart as the straight Kate Clinton. Her career as a political humorist spans several White House administrations, but the current regime has offered her, like most liberal comedians, endless material for... Read more »

Out of Bounds: Do Transsexual Athletes Throw Like Girls?

See that blonde weaving through the strip on Roller­blades?” writes Details magazine in a March 2005 article. “Please puff up her denim miniskirt just enough for us to drink in the full length of her long, bronze legs.” No, this isn’t a fluff piece on the latest centerfold hottie. It’... Read more »

Pages

Politically Correct Language Isn't Just About Being Polite—It's About Survival

Photo by Phillipe Leroyer (Creative Commons). Two weeks ago, Jonathan Chait published the lengthy essay “Not a Very P.C.... Read more »

Mad Science: Deconstructing Bunk Reporting in 5 Easy Steps

British scientists have uncovered the truth behind one of modern culture's greatest mysteries: why little girls play with pink toys. Is it...

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Dear Bear: My Partner Makes No Money. Is That a Problem?

Our advice columnist offers a lesson in anticapitalist self-care. Read more »

No Disrespect: Black women and the burden of respectability

In February 2012, PBS host Tavis Smiley interviewed Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer about their Oscar nominations for their roles as Aibileen and... Read more »