In the pages of our new fall issue, Gray, we celebrate the spectrum of thinking in the gray areas—where complex logic is key to understanding nuanced issues "from science to sports to smut," as we wrote in our call for pitches. What you see here is the result of both of us taking some risks, and taking the time to read between the frames.
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.
Photo: Ma Rainey and her backing band in 1925. Via NotesOnTheRoad.com
When Gertrude "Ma" Rainey—known as "The Mother of Blues"—sang, "It's true I wear a collar and a tie… Talk to the gals just like any old man," in 1928′s "Prove It on Me," she was flirting with scandal, challenging the listener to catch her in a lesbian affair. It might not seem like a big deal to us now, but back then, pursuing same-sex relations could get you thrown in jail.
It's finally here! The Gray Issue is filled with some great stuff, some of which you can read online. But there's also some great music recommendations, whether you're breezing through the reviews section or reading Blanca Méndez's feature on how women in global bass are creating new community spaces on the dancefloor. Here's a mix of some of the music between the pages. Track list after the jump!
• Iowa is home to the nation's first telemedicine program for abortion—whereby women, largely in rural areas, can take an abortion pill while under video supervision by their doctors. But the state's Board of Medicine is now voting to ban the program. [ThinkProgress]
• Wednesday's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was, in part, an effort to appeal to young citizens to continue the unfinished work of the civil rights movement. So why were young speakers cut out of the program? [Code Switch]
• Etsy's long been your source for twee knit baby caps and awesome letterpress Game of Thrones art, but who knew the site also peddled rape culture? Witness the glass, sold by Etsy shop ThatGlassStore, whose bottom is etched with the message "You've just been roofied." Classy! [Huffington Post via The Frisky]
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.