Muddy Daughters

The year my oldest daughter turned 4, her little sister was born, and that spring, in desperation, I let her play more or less unsupervised in the neighbors’ yard. When I came up for air from the endless diaper changes and nursing sessions, I’d catch a glimpse of her through the family-room... Read more »

The Nan Show: How Nannies Rewrote the Rules on TV Parenting

In this era of social conservatism, the so-called mommy wars, and renewed cultural clashes about gender, work, and "family values," it's hardly surprising that nanny narratives are making a comeback. Faster than you can say "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," nannies have popped up in movies (... 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 »

Queen of the Night

It didn’t matter that the outcome was predictable, that Beth Hogan would invariably be crowned Miss America. We competed fiercely, as if we expected to win. A year earlier, when we were in fifth grade, we held séances, but now we staged beauty pageants as if our lives depended on it, as many... 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 »

Hog Heaven: Ariel Levy on Female Chauvinist Pigs and the Rise of Raunch Culture

You'll recognize the female silhouette that leans against the title on the cover of Ariel Levy's new book, Female Chauvinist Pigs. She's the girl who in recent years has made the move from the mud flaps of big rigs right into pop culture, gracing trucker caps, baby tees, and gold... Read more »

Beyond the Valley of the Geeks: Notes on Gender and Gaming

“When I started out, gaming was a geek thing,” says Sean (not his real name), a 38-year-old senior director of product development for a major electronic game publisher. “Now, it’s totally mainstream. It’s clear there’s money to be made.” It’s not like there’s any... Read more »

Pages

Mock & Awe: Janet Mock on truth-telling, community building, and writing the story she had been waiting for her whole life.

Mainstream media does a pretty horrendous job of telling the stories of trans people, often focusing on the details of their transition and...

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Black Girls Hunger for Heroes, Too: A Black Feminist Conversation on Fantasy Fiction for Teens

What happens when two great black women fiction writers get together to talk about race in young adult literature? That's exactly what happens... Read more »

In a Bizarre 1976 Comic Book, Spider-Man Fought the Villain of Misleading Sex Education

Last week, I came across a very strange comic book: in 1976, Planned Parenthood teamed up with Marvel to publish a one-off comic in which... Read more »

Before You Watch "Orange is the New Black," Here Are 5 Facts To Know about Pregnancy in Prison

Season three of Orange is the New Black is (almost) here! While creator Jenji Kohan and the whole cast have been pretty tight-... Read more »