For a few hours yesterday, I thought Playboy had undergone a culture change. A friend forwarded me a link to a website, Party With Playboy, that proclaimed itself to be Playboy's back-to-school "Top Ten Party Commandments" guide. The difference between the 2013 guide and all previous party tip sheets, though, is that this year, Playboy was all about consent.
"This has been blowing up all over my facebook," my friend wrote. I was surprised and excited—how cool of Playboy to admit some role in rape culture and put consent front-and-center for bros heading to college!
It turns out Playboy got pranked. Baltimore-based artist collective FORCE and students at 25 colleges pulled off the impressive hoax that duped news outlets and thousands of readers. Instead of backing up the call for consent, Playboy is now working to shut down the site.
From Project Runway's current season: Oh God, the glamping!
During its 12 seasons, Project Runway, Lifetime's reality competition show with fashion designers angling to be "in," has earned its exasperatingly accurate moniker, "Product Runway." Product placement is part of the program, and hearing presenter Tim Gunn attempt to make a product sound relevant to a challenge is part of the spectacle.
Except this season, and oh especially August 22's episode, "Let's Go Glamping!" Glamping—a word that would send Samuel Johnson to the ale vat—is camping but, you know, "glamorous." (Maybe they wanted to scale down the use of "camp" with so many gay male designers around?) But fair enough, and actually a really good concept for a challenge. Except that the sponsor was Resource Water.
I'm usually skeptical of advertising. I know companies spend millions of dollars hoping that their body lotion or paper towels or lunch meat will bring me to tears.
But ads are powerful. They're a form of media where we see representations of ourselves and our society, just like on TV shows they interrupt. And it's rare to see people like me—with a black father and a white mother—represented in ads.
Earlier this year, like many other people, I heard about a Cheerios ad, "Just Checking," that featured an interracial family—a white mother, black father and their daughter—before I saw it. I was excited about it, sure, but why I was excited didn't really register until I finally did see it for myself.
A Mighty Girl is aimed, as its name suggests, at girl readers, but I have sons. Does the site have anything to offer feminists shopping for boys? Site co-founder Carolyn Danckaert is passionate about nonsexist children's and young adult literature. She and I talked about tracking down feminist-friendly YA books for kids.
In light of Chelsea Manning—formerly known as Bradley Manning—announcing her name change and preferred gender last week, news outlets were stumbling over themselves in stories reporting on the convicted Army private's transition. Only a handful, including NPR, have revised their policies to refer to Manning as a woman.
In the spring, it looked like things were looking up in terms of being able to have relevant conversations on Facebook when the social media site committed to taking rape and violent threats more seriously. But in the months since, it has become overwhelmingly clear that Facebook has no idea how to monitor content, be it misogynistic, violent, racist, or a combination of the above.
Michelle Tea is unstoppable. She runs a feminist book press, leads a high-energy performance tour, and has published four memoirs. Now, after nearly two years of documenting the trials and travails of trying to get pregnant as a queer woman, Tea is starting up a new site, Mutha Magazine, for writing about parenting issues. The site aims to address the "whole spectrum" of parenting, including perspectives from people who are nannies, babysitters, or just like hanging out with kids.
I talked with Tea on Friday, August 16, about the exciting new site.
Photo: The New York Times piece on the "opt-out generation" focused on the lives of upper-crust ladies.
If there's one thing the wives and husbands profiled in The New York Times magazine's opt-out generation cover story can agree on, it's that someone needs to pick up the house and get dinner on the table.
And while two of those wives mention having hired someone to help with domestic labor, Judith Warner's reporting shows that this work largely falls to the women themselves—the wives and moms who had made good money (one's salary was $500,000 at her peak) at careers in corporate sales and network news production, and then left to give their full attention to their families.
There's been a recent awakening in the film business. Studio executives seem to have realized–again!–that people of color, specifically black Americans, want to see movies that reflect our cultural and individual experiences with love.
Film bigwigs are investing dollars in movies like the burgeoning Think like a Man franchise, The Best Man Holiday, and the other black romantic comedies slated for release in the coming months.
There are few women as pleased and disgusted with the sudden revival of black romantic comedies as I am. I'm infatuated with romantic comedies. I'm not ashamed to admit that I spend hours watching modern princesses claim their princes and gallivant off into the skyline of Los Angeles or New York. These days, I watch romcoms for work: I'm a media studies scholar working on a thesis about romantic comedies.