In sci-fi classic The Handmaid's Tale, women's bodies are controlled and seriously policied by society.
We can all agree that fetal alcohol syndrome is a tragedy. But although American public awareness campaigns about the dangers of drinking while pregnant have good intentions at heart, recent media initiatives have deployed tactics that shame moms while ignoring bigger issues. Instead of helping improve the lives of women and kids, these public action campaigns veer into borderline Handmaid’s Tale territory.
Remember when Kanye West cut off Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs? As Swift launched into her acceptance speech for Best Female Video, West ran onstage and grabbed the mic away from her and said, “Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’m gonna let you finish, but I’m sorry, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.” Both Beyonce and Swift looked stunned.
Last August, the Army private now known as Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in military prison. A day after the trial, Manning announced plans to undergo hormone therapy and begin public life as a woman. Her coming-out shone a light on a population that media rarely discusses: transgender women in prison.
I have a fat, accordion-style file folder—each section stuffed with mangled envelopes from across the country—full of heavy-hearted, handwritten letters from women I’ve never met. Shaylanna, Venus, Prada, and Eva: every letter flaunts the industrial, pre-stamped return address of a state prison, and every signature is a transgender woman living in a male facility.
Last week, the internet lit up with news of a phone number that would text you back bell hooks quotes. The two creators of the "feminist phone intervention" see the project as a mix of activism and art—people can give out the phone number to people trying to pick them up or they can just text the number for a little dose of wisdom during the day.
I was well into my thirties when my partner of six years and I signed ourselves up for parenting. And I mean signed up literally. Since we are in a same-sex partnership, we didn’t have the benefit of sperm whenever we wanted, so we opted for the foster care/adoption route.
It’s easy to roll your eyes at trolling—to say “don’t read the comments” and dismiss trolls as just a bunch of haters. But let’s talk about trolling for what it really is: disruptive behavior that seeks reinforce power over marginalized communities. The power issues that motivate trolling become especially obvious when you talk to fat-acceptance activists about their work online.
An anti-street harassment protester in Kathmandu this week. Photo via Activista Nepal.
Marching down a dark street in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Monday evening, dozens of people came together for one common cause: more street lamps.
“We demand proper policy related to public services that will ensure women and girls' safety in public spaces,” recalled Moti Lama, the National Coordinator of Activista Nepal, one of the participating groups. “We flashed placards and torches [flashlights] in the rally to demand proper street lighting system in the public spaces.”