Latest Articles

Five Conversations About One Thing - Joe Kelly

Years ago, Joe Kelly noticed a Maidenform ad reading “Inner beauty only goes so far” on the side of a city bus, and was hor­­ri­fied to imagine one of his young daughters as the subject of it. As one of the founders, with wife Nancy Gruver, of New Moon: The Maga­zine for Girls and Their Dreams, an award-winning, youth-edited publication, Kelly was well aware that the relationships between...

Dumb & Getting Dumber: Sideways, Spongebob, and the New Masculinity

In 2004, every corner of popular culture was populated by men in crisis, and I don't just mean George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney. We had men in trouble, men in triumph, men in uniform, men on the cross, men in square­pants; men being men with other men, talking about masculinity—what it is, how to have it, keep it, get it, make it last. We might even call it the Year of the Man,...

Period Pieces: The Last Taboo of Reality TV

Detailed discussions of diarrhea (Survivor). On-camera vomiting (The Bachelor, The Biggest Loser). Extensive cosmetic surgery (The Swan). Endless hot-tub makeout sessions (take your pick). On reality tv, no subject is too personal to reveal, no biological function too intimate to discuss—except for one final taboo too terrible to mention: menstruation.

Haven't you wondered...

Jail Bait: Rethinking Images of Incarcerated Women

It is not my pleasure to remind anyone of the 2001 teen flick Sugar & Spice. Teetering between the black humor of Heathers and the girly glitz of Clueless, it achieves the success of neither, and I bring it up now only because of a single scene.

The movie follows a group of cheerleaders who decide to rob a bank in order to finance their ­captain's unexpected pregnancy. But...

Full Frontal Offense: Taking Abortion Rights to the Tees

There's a new front in the battle for abortion rights—the literal front, that is, of a t-shirt designed by writer and feminist activist Jennifer Baumgardner that proclaims "I had an abortion." The shirt, initially for sale on Planned Parenthood's national website and now available on Clamor magazine's website, has generated controversy among not only the antiabortion community but also pro-...

Suburban Blight: The Battle of <em>The Stepford Wives</em>

A film studies professor once told me that everything you need to know about a movie is revealed in the first five minutes. This is particularly true of The Stepford Wives. 


In the opening scene of Bryan Forbes's 1975 original, Joanna Eber­hart (Katharine Ross) takes a long, scrutinizing look at herself in the bathroom mirror. Her reaction is one of mild surprise, then...

Kiss Me, I'm a Fashionable Bigot: Cashing In on Misguided Irony

Two years ago, the preppy mall staple Abercrombie & Fitch released a line of t-shirts that paired early 1900s–style caricatures of Chinese men (complete with coolie hats, big grins, and slanted eyes) with slogans like “Wong Brothers Laundry Service—Two Wongs Can Make It White” and “Wok-N-Bowl—Let the Good Times Roll—Chinese Food & Bowling.” The clothing chain...

Beauty and the Feast: The Cosmetic Industry's Female Feeding Frenzy

The first thing you see is food. a breastlike dome of cake towers at the top of t­he ad, frosted pink with a raspberry on top. "It's like dessert for your legs," declares the text, and just in case this copy wasn't clear, below it a pair of cellulite-free gams balances a bottle of Skintimate After-Shave Gel in lieu of icing. A cartoonish, disembodied bald head floats in the background, licking...

Editors' Letter: Taste & Appetite: Appetite for Deconstruction

From the ancient Greeks to the current Queer Eyes, the cocktail of knowledge, ideals, aesthetics, and manners that makes up the concept of taste has served as a tireless organizing principle for a class-based society (and really, is there any other kind?). Like all organizing principles, taste is a construction rather than a law of nature: It's almost impossible to say why, for instance, we...

Compromising Positions: Gender by design on <em>Merge</em> and <em>Mix It Up</em>

Mass media, particularly so-called family television, from Bewitched to Everybody Loves Raymond, has long portrayed the home as women's domain, an ultra-feminized realm in which housewives bustle and cluck while their hapless husbands do little more than hand out spending money and retreat to the most masculine part of the house: the study, or their favorite chair. There's no...

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