In an era when it’s possible to turn on the television on any given night and see a clutch of bikini-clad women crawling over their male prey (ABC’s The Bachelor), a sex-toy demonstration (HBO’s Real Sex), or a 9-year-old showing off her moves on her parents’ personal stripper pole (E!’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians), Wendy Shalit’s assertion that modesty has made a comeback seems a little, well, optimistic.
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.
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 the DC Comics universe, but she might have the highest profile. Last June, DC Executive Director Dan DiDio issued a press release saying the move was intended “to get a better cross-section of our readership and the world.”
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 necklaces as an emblem of sexy, empowered womanhood. Or at least that's what she'd like you to believe. But Levy doesn't buy it, and Female Chauvinist Pigs offers her opinions on why this new symbol of postfeminism—the girl gone wild, the party-like-a-porn-star striver, the woman who populates HBO's "educational" reality shows like Cathouse and Pornucopia—isn't nearly as groundbreaking as she thinks she is.
When the curtain rose at the London premiere of the play Peter Pan in 1904, it unveiled a drama of flying children, fairies, and pirates that would soon become a classic—and inspire countless spin-offs, adaptations, and reinterpretations. On the cinematic side, these began with the 1924 silent-film version of the play, starring Anna May Wong as Tiger Lily. Disney’s animated Peter Pan (1953) has been described as “ageless” (though one wonders if critics took note of the decidedly dated, stereotypical depiction of Native Americans), while Steven Spielberg’s Hook (1991) told the story of a grown-up Peter’s transformation into a mature father.
Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers—and most infamous tyrants—were getting down with other men. Or so some folks would like us to believe. Historians and posthumous biographers have of late been venturing into the relatively uncharted territory of sexual historiography, exhuming some celebrated corpses to uncover the steamy, secret queer lives they once lived.
A Journey Into the Wide, Wild World of Slash Fiction
The kiss was not at all like Kirk had expected... “Spock, wait... wait,” he whispered desperately.... “I can’t... We can’t... You... God, Spock... I want you. Don’t you understand? I want you so much!” Kirk still couldn’t believe that the Vulcan knew what he was getting himself into.
Jonathan Franzen’s <em>The Corrections</em> and contemporary women’s fiction
As every tabloid reader knows, it’s a short step from a celebrity marriage to a publicity-filled divorce. When Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, The Corrections, was published this fall, critics waxed hyperbolic over its wedding of character-driven family drama and up-to-the-nanosecond cultural commentary. Then Oprah chose the novel for her book club, and The Corrections seemed poised to bring about what many considered an even more unlikely union—this time of the lit-crit, severe-glasses clique and the suburban Barnes & Noble crowd.
Michelle Tea loves words, and it shows. As one of the founders of San Francisco's brilliantly loopy poetry slam-cum-cabaret Sister Spit, the 28-year-old Tea's flair for whipping tales of life and love into hilarious dramalogues have made her a local favorite on the spoken-word scene, and her gleeful energy and tongue-twisty stylings come through just as loud on paper.