In February 2012, PBS host Tavis Smiley interviewed Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer about their Oscar nominations for their roles as Aibileen and Minny, Jim Crow–era domestic workers in The Help. "I'm pulling for both of you to win on Academy Award night," Smiley ventured. "But there's something that sticks in my craw about celebrating Hattie McDaniel so many years ago for playing a maid"—a reference to the actor who won for her role as Mammy in 1939's Gone with the Wind. "I want you to win," Smiley concluded, "but I'm ambivalent about what you're winning for."
Davis countered that it is hard for black actresses to find multifaceted roles in Hollywood, and that pressure from the black community to eschew portrayals that are not heroic makes it even harder: "That very mind-set that you have, and that a lot of African-Americans have, is absolutely destroying the black artist…. If your criticism is that you just don't want to see the maid...then I have an issue with that. Do I always have to be noble?"
Laurie Penny is an British journalist and blogger who came to prominence with her riveting frontline coverage of the student protests in London in 2010 in The New Statesman, The Guardian, and other outlets. After releasing her first book, Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism (Zero Books) in April 2011, the prolific Penny recently followed up with a collection of her journalistic work, Penny Red: Notes from the New Age of Dissent(Pluto Press). Her third book will be published by Bloomsbury in 2013.
Ever since the age of 2, when his hair first started growing in, my son Elijah has been mistaken for a girl. As he grew, so did his curls; they now frame his face and inch toward his shoulders, with every offer to trim them rebuffed. Elijah was 3 when he started painting his toenails; he had been watching me give myself pedicures, and decided that his toes needed some color as well. Now, at 4, he parades around his best friend’s house wearing her frilliest purple dress while they play detailed and intense games of “Princess.”
Women are God-fearing and don’t challenge institutions. Men, on the other hand, are skeptical and rational, and go out of their way to publicly call bullshit on faith and religion—which is why today’s well-known secular thinkers, especially in the ranks of the New Atheism movement, are all male.
“Daughters aren’t to be independent. They’re not to act outside the scope of their father. As long as they’re under the authority of their fathers, fathers have the ability to nullify or not the oaths and the vows. Daughters can’t just go out independently and say, ‘I’m going to marry whoever I want.’ No. The father has the ability to say, ‘No, I’m sorry, that has to be approved by me.’”
I'm meeting up with journalist, media critic, and activist Jennifer L. Pozner at a chic West Village doughnut café. As Pozner strolls in on a pair of Marc Jacobs platform slingbacks, she casually tosses her Kooba tote over the back of the patio chair. Her floppy- brimmed Prada hat catches a late-summer Manhattan breeze and, fresh from an appointment with celebrity stylist Garren, her perfectly highlighted tresses are smoothed into a simple ponytail.
These days, most men's movie roles feature hard-talking, heavy-hitting leads. Or self-conscious, awkward types bumbling through social relations. Or there are the sweet-hearted slacker dudes glued to the couch--and maybe their bongs--allergic to steady jobs but true to their friends. Sometimes the men are a combination of two of these types, as in the new bromance comedy I Love You, Man.
Wearable technology may feel like science fiction, but it’s actually becoming a reality right before our eyes. Law enforcement, the military, and the medical industry have long sought ways to integrate technology with clothing to augment health and personal safety. More recently, high fashion has started swooning over the possibilities of techy dressing: The artsy Rodarte label debuted LED-embedded glowing heels at Fashion Week earlier this year.
After the National Equality March wended its way through the nation's capital this past October, the New York Times ran coverage of the event under the headline "Gay Rights Marchers Press Cause in Washington." A year earlier, in the midst of California's Prop 8 battle, American Apparel debuted its "Legalize Gay" t-shirts, which were scooped up by supporters of gay rights, gay marriage, gay adoption, and gays in the military. After Prop 8 passed, comedienne Wanda Sykes came out. She was very proud, she said, to be "gay."
At the risk of seeming pedantic or quibbling, one might pause to wonder what ever happened to the word that once seemed to march so firmly hand-in-hand with "gay." Whither "lesbian"?