Culture

Desert Hearts: In a New Crop of Romance Novels, It's Always Midnight at the Oasis

The average romance-novel hero hasn't changed much since the genre's development in the late 19th century—he's dashing, arrogant, commanding, hopefully rich, possibly even a prince. But is he an Arab? More and more commonly, the answer is yes. It seems that an Arab man can now get on the cover of a... Read more »

Mom's the Word: Yummy mummies, alternadads, and other literary offspring

At the turn of the millennium, Bridget Jones and the Sex and the City girls heralded a new era of fun, fearless singledom. Chick lit, accompanied by memoirs and anthologies about single womanhood, made it whimsical for an otherwise-capable woman to be vain, proud of her missteps and mistakes, and... Read more »

The Cold Shoulder: Saving Superheroines from Comic-book Violence

There's a new Bat in Gotham City. Like Bruce Wayne, she's a rich socialite by day and a black-clad vigilante at night. And, also like Bruce Wayne, in both incarnations she's apt to sweep the ladies off their feet. Kate Kane, the new, revamped Batwoman, isn't the first lesbian character to debut in... Read more »

When Tyra Met Naomi: Race, Fashion, and Rivalry

One of the last places I expected to hear an engaging antiracist and feminist critique of the fashion industry was on The Tyra Banks Show. But on a January 2006 episode, there was Banks, sitting couch-to-couch with supposed arch­nemesis and fellow supermodel Naomi Campbell, discussing the forces... Read more »

Egos Without Borders: Mapping the New Celebrity Philanthropy

You can't turn on the television or flip open a magazine these days without encountering an image of a star promoting his or her latest cause célèbre: Oprah handing out makeup kits at a women's hospital in Ethiopia; Angelina Jolie visiting refugee camps (alone or with Brad Pitt); George Clooney... Read more »

Tree So Horny: Can Sex Sell Environmentalism?

What you think about Fuck for Forest, a Berlin-based website that lets subscribers watch videos of environmental activists doing the nasty, depends in part on what you think about porn as a whole. If you think it's liberating, empowering, and fun for the folks involved, then you can feel good about... Read more »

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 »

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 »

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She-Hulk, Attorney at Law: She's Mean, She's Green, and She Believes in Due Process

Avenger. Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Member of the Fantastic Four. Read more »

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 »

The Dramatic History of American Sex-Ed Films

In 1948, in a seventh grade classroom in Eugene, Oregon, a teacher dimmed the lights and flipped on 16mm projector. A film called Human... Read more »

Tina Belcher's Sexual Revolution

Tina Belcher breaks all the rules of network sitcoms. That's why she's wonderful.  Read more »