Culture

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 »

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 »

Pages

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 »

Tina Belcher's Sexual Revolution

Tina Belcher breaks all the rules of network sitcoms. That's why she's wonderful.  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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No Disrespect: Black Women and the Burden of Respectability

Hollywood still filters (and distorts) the lives and histories of minorities through the eyes of the majority. Read more »