Late in 2011, a song from a virtually unknown 20-year-old rapper from Harlem knocked the Internet on its ass. Azealia Banks's "212" was a wildly original debut single that found the rapper dribbling a steady stream of elastic wordplay and oh-no-she-didn't raunch over a skronky beat from producer Lazy Jay. And then there was the song's hook, a repeated provocation to a male rival for the affections of another woman: "I guess that cunt gettin' eaten."
"212" was voted Pitchfork's no. 9 track of 2011, propelling Banks to the top spot on NME's 2011 "Cool List" and earning her a coveted endorsement from Kanye West—all before she even landed a record deal. But some listeners just couldn't get past that C-word. In a December 2011 cover story for self-titled magazine, the interviewer asked Banks a question that no one would have asked, say, Lil Wayne, who was three years younger than Banks when his debut album dropped: "Is it weird to play these songs for your mother?" When she responded in the negative, he pushed on: "It's jarring hearing a young girl say 'cunt' so often." Banks brushed him off with pointed flippancy. "Sex is fucking sex," she said. "We wouldn't be sitting here if it wasn't for sex."
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?"
Little serious thought has been devoted to the trophy wife, that caricature permanently relegated to being an adornment on the arm of a spouse defined by his wealth and power, the May to her husband’s December.
“Reports of my boobs and fists have been greatly exaggerated,” says Laura Hudson, staring at a webcomic that depicts her with enormous versions of both, under the headline, “What I’m Offended About This Week!”
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.
Today, Elsie Larson is wearing gold. “I’m kinda obsessed with gold lately,” she writes, “Gold details, jewelry, even metallic fabrics like this gold skirt that [my sister] Emma wore.” Kaylah Doolan has decorated her home for Christmas and shares photos of the end result— reindeer lights and tinsel decorating hallways, a ceramic elf perched on top of a stack of DVDs, Christmas tins by her bright blue typewriter. Abbey Hendrickson has five new things she recently found “in blogland” to share, including knit sea urchins, Free People boots, and quirkily wrapped gifts. Anja Verdugo recently worked on a “soft goth” photo shoot and documented the event with pictures of yellow and pink roses and makeup brushes next to a container of various lip balms.
Such is a day in the world of lifestyle blogging, an increasingly popular genre that women dominate.
When I was 6 years old, my mother and I were robbed at gunpoint by two men looking for cash. One of them placed the gun at my head until she gave them her mink coat, which looked real but wasn’t, and the bus fare she had in her pocket. Because of that experience, I grew up associating random violence with the crack-addled neighborhoods of 1980s New York City. But the incident was the first thing that came to mind when, more than 20 years later, I started the application process for a concealed handgun license.
In the 2008 film Taken, Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a retired CIA operative whose undercover past is called into action when his daughter is kidnapped while traveling abroad and sold into sexual slavery. Using his counterterrorism skills to torture and murder those who stand between him and his daughter’s captors, he eventually rescues his daughter and comes home a hero, with no consequences exacted for the violence he’s inflicted in the name of his daughter’s safety.
Hey, guys.... Um, this is Ke$ha. I just wanted to say something. Um, to anyone who’s being bothered, or abused, or harassed, or bullied, I just wanted to tell you that, um...it will get better. It will. No matter if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, however you are choosing to live is beautiful, and you have my full support and all of my love. And to be yourself, and it will be better. When people are mean for no reason it’s...horrible. But, I swear to God, it will get better. So please don’t ever give up.