It was 1984. Ronald Reagan was running for reelection and Phyllis Schlafly—conservative gadfly, ardent foe of the Equal Rights Amendment, and self-identified "little homemaker"—was presiding over a fashion show at the Republican National Convention in the sweltering heat of a Dallas August. As a giant eagle ice sculpture dripped water off its tail feathers, Mrs. Jack Kemp, Mrs. Trent Lott, and Mrs. Jesse Helms sidled down the runway in furs and jeweled gowns to the cheers of 1,300 Republican women. The announcer then displayed a three-foot pachyderm made of mink, cooing, "For those of you who think you have every kind of elephant."
A scene like this doesn't need much help parodying itself. But Schlafly had a little boost from some of her most dedicated "followers": the Ladies Against Women (LAW). Outside the fashion show, a group of ruffled, frilled, and flounced women (and a few men) in white gloves and pillbox hats passed out a Consciousness-Lowering Manifesto that, as the Washington Post reported, included such action items as "Restore virginity as a high-school graduation requirement" and "Eliminate the gender gap by repealing the Ladies' Vote (Babies, Not Ballots)." LAW welcomed new recruits, but only if they brought pink permission slips signed by their husbands.
In the ’90s, the black man suddenly invaded theblockbuster science-fiction and fantasy film. African-American males found expanded roles for themselves in a genre that had previously been blindingly white. We finally have a celluloid landscape in which Will Smith and Wesley Snipes get to represent heroic manhood for the masses, but hip and powerful black women have been overlooked by the Hollywood machine so far.
We sat down to write this editors’ note more than two months after September 11. Since that morning, it’s been hard not to feel that the work we do and the things we choose to write about have become far less important in the face of a sickening sense of loss; a looming, amorphous enemy; and renewed support for many of the right’s potentially disastrous policy initiatives, both foreign and domestic.
Pop-sensation lifespans have been shrinking since the dawn of pop sensations, but the power of the boy band has proved enduring. These prefab crews of scrubbed, smiling teens busting a synchronized move to manufactured beats have a special place in pop – music history and in the hearts—and notebooks and lockers—of their (mostly female) fans.
I’m not sure exactly when or how it happened, but at some point in my childhood I began to think I was a white guy trapped in the body of a black girl. And not just any white guy, either—a guitar player in a heavy-metal band.
Last fall, at a reading for Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, a 50-ish audience member questioned the thirtysomething authors’ ever-so-casual usage of the word “ladies.” To this woman (who turned out to be tireless second-wave activist Laura X, creator of the Women’s History Research Center), the blithe use of “ladies” ran counter to everything she and her generation of feminists had fought for—and against.
But to the authors, Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, and their peers, the lady words can spill forth with ironic glee.
Whether a music writer makes a living marshalling lyrical evidence for supposedly new trends or manufacturing arguments to shore up tired clichés—and whether you applaud women's progress in the musical arena or not—one thing's clear: Women in music, prevalent as they may be, are consistently positioned as an aberration or an exception. Even the phraseology is troublesome: "women in music," "women in rock," and the erstwhile "year of the woman" (thanks for the generosity, guys).
this lovely sentiment was reportedly overheard on the street during Feminist Expo 2000, a global gathering over 7,000 strong that was held in Baltimore the first weekend of April. Other reactions to the event ran along the same lines: A reception bartender told the Washington Post that “My boss said they’re just a bunch of man-haters.” (Thankfully, she added, “But they seem real nice to me.”)
ah, movie magic. hollywood always manages to make difficult situations turn out well after two hours—and nowhere is this more apparent than with cinematic treatments of unplanned pregnancy.
Unexpected conceptions occur onscreen with surprising frequency, but filmmakers routinely play it safe, avoiding substantial discussions of a pregnancy’s pros and cons. They keep abortion out of plots and even out of dialogue, ensuring that movies end with a heartwarming birth. Female characters rarely feel any ambivalence about carrying unplanned pregnancies to term—and why should they, when life always works out so perfectly? An unhappy and unwilling dad-to-be will convert to a pro-baby stance in time for a happily-ever-after ending. If mom isn’t too crazy about dad and would prefer to parent by herself, she’ll soon find that single motherhood is a cinch. Although childrearing seems expensive in the real world, money isn’t much of an obstacle for film parents (and made even less of one by the fact that most movies feature middle-class women with plenty of resources).
the traveling spoken-word gang Sister Spit started five years ago as a weekly open mike where grrrly-type poets and performers could ply their trade at San Francisco bars and coffeehouses. In 1997, co-ringleader Michelle Tea, author of the charming and intimate memoir The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America, and her partner-in-crime Sini Anderson, who has rocked poetry scenes from subway stations to Lollapalooza and everywhere in between, kicked off the annual Sister Spit Road Show.