When i was 8, my father organized a present for my sisters and me to give my mom for Mother’s Day: a pressure cooker, wrapped up with other fun kitchen items like tea towels, pop-up sponges, spatulas, and an apron. It seemed like a good idea—Mom was the one who was always in the kitchen, and this was the day to celebrate her. But the minute she opened her present, even I knew we had the wrong idea.
Oprah says it. My yoga instructor says it. College students around the country say it. The cast of Friends says it, as do my own friends, over and over again. At least 10 to 20 times a day, I hear someone say “you guys” to refer to groups or pairs that include and in some cases consist entirely of women.
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.
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.”)
In the early 1990s, vampire mythology, horror revival, teen angst, and kick-ass grrlness congealed in a new figure in the pop culture pantheon of the paranormal: the vampire slayer. Not just any vampire hunter, mind you, but Buffy, the Valley-dwelling teenage slayer.
the collapsible woman—one model of mental health for an uncountable number of individuals. She is too weak to hear debate, too soft to speak openly about her experience, and too fragile to expect much from. This definition doesn’t come close to accounting for the grit and character that can be found among us.
When i was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, it didn’t matter that my parents were some of the earliest feminist leaders on the East Coast, that I grew up watching their activism from up close, or that I saw them live (not just profess) equality between the sexes. It didn’t matter that I was a girl hooked on Ms. magazine from the very first year it was out, that I regularly flipped through my mom’s copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves, or that I ravenously collected Wonder Woman comic books.