Caster Semenya is fast and strong and far from dainty. When it came to light last week that an athletic organization was secretly testing her sex, the sports world and mainstream media got a refresher course on an important reality: while our society tries to strictly divide people in male and female, the science of sex is far more murky.
South African Semenya is shaping up to be one of the fastest runners in the world, but if the International Association of Athletic Federations' (IAAF) forced battery of tests (including a gynecological exam) find she's too "male", she could be stripped of her medals. The IAAF stopped mandating the outdated sex tests for athletes back in 1992 and the reasons for testing Semenya range from fairness to racism, depending on who you ask.
Over at the Huffington Post, Jane Devin points out that males whose genetics make them sports stars are groomed and applauded, not subjected to embarrassing tests. You have to ask—if Semenya had thinner shoulders and a more delicate chin, would her competitor's allegations ("Just look at her," sniped a fifth-place finisher at a recent race) be given legitimacy for even a second? I think not.
Today I bring you another burning question from the mailbag:
From a reader who wished to remain nameless: Outdoor Sex: pro or con? as an outdoorsy-girl, I always fantasized about doing it in a big field, but each time I've tried it, I've been poked in weird places with odd plants and bumps (even through a blanket & sleeping pad), or stressed about potential hikers, or something else. It's just never been as good as I'd hoped. What about you? Good question! I like the outdoors, and I like sex. Are they two great tastes that taste great together?
A few days ago I was chatting with my dad about our various writing projects.
Dad: You know how you've been writing about Quentin Tarantino?
Dad: You know he used to work in a video store?
Dad: And you used to work in a video store?
Dad: Well there you go.
Well there I go. Once upon a time Quentin Tarantino worked in a video store – and so did I.
Today I write about pop culture, and Tarantino makes it.
There you go.
Tarantino's latest film also begins "Once upon a time . . ." and as to be expected, reactions to his "movie movie universe" movie, Inglourious Basterds, are once again as mixed as his genre conventions.
Though I didn't explicitly say so in my recent threepartpost here for Bitch exploring the question of feminism in Tarantino's work, I'm a fan – a cautious, conscientious fan, who recognizes that his work is problematic on many levels. For me, the combination of the issues in his work, and the visceral pleasure of the movie experiences he creates, presents a conflict that is worth exploring. Additionally, and I think this is crucial to my experience and interpretation of his work, he is a movie-maker of, and pop culture influence on, my generation. Pulp Fiction is as much a marker in my life as Star Wars, Goonies, or Trainspotting, Wonder Woman, 90210, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Tarantino and I may not have grown up watching the same movies, regardless of our once-upon-a-time employ, but his work has led me to his influences, which in turn have furthered and enriched my relationship to popular culture.
Sackville-West was a woman with 'high class' problems — but her story
is interesting nonetheless. Vita was, in addition to her default
socialite status, a writer of prose and poetry, an avid gardener,
Bloomsbury Group associate and lover to quite a few women — the most
famous being, of course, Virginia Woolf. (More after the jump!)
We all know that feminist guy, right? The one who successfully sideswiped years of Neanderthal behavior to forge a path to guyville uniquely his own. And I'm not talking about the guy who wears a "This Is What a Feminist Looks Like" T-shirt and calls it a day. I'm talking about the men in our lives who acknowledge the feminine within them every day, without shame, and who stand up for women's rights as easily as they stand up to pee greet you. These are men who understand the value of feminism and of doing feminism to better girls' and women's lives in a culture as waywardly misogynistic as ours can be.
Author and women's studies professor Shira Tarrant, Ph.D., has written a book to celebrate that guy and to indoctrinate all men into understanding why feminism is not just about girls and women. Her book, Men and Feminism, is part of Seal Press' academic Seal Studies series and covers not only the history of men and feminism, but gender theory, constructing masculinity, masculine privilege, and how all men can—and why they must—get involved in feminist action.
Page Turner interviewed Tarrant about what led her to become an expert in masculinities, why feminism is relevant to men, speaking plainly about men's violence, and what men lose in pursuit of the "hypermasculine ideal." Read on for more!
I don't imagine many of you are Dollhouse viewers, not least because the new series by Joss Whedon of Buffy and Angel fame had a rocky ride of a first season. If you gave up on him, I have a new mantra for you: Joss is always worth the trouble. Joss identifies as a feminist, and indeed, before anybody scoffs or points to Buffy's short skirts or what have you, I encourage you to read this.
That said, Dollhouse ain't perfect, on feminist or any other grounds, frankly. I only managed to stick it out through its initial rough patch on faith alone. See, Fox forced Joss to retool the show and rearrange some plot development early on. This led to some awfully confusing early episodes in which the network's desire to sell the show as Sexy! seemed at odds with Joss's own plans. The premise of the show being a brothel staffed by people who have, literally, had personality lobotomies, this isn't just in bad taste - it is bad marketing.