Perhaps you’ve heard of 10-year-old Alec Greven, the author of a series of self-help tomes like How to Talk to Dads and How to Talk to Santa. The wee guru has appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, the Today show, CNN, The Tonight Show, and Good Morning America. In December 2008, Twentieth Century Fox announced that it had optioned How to Talk to Girls, Greven’s first book and the one that launched his brand.
It’s easy to see why the media has glommed on to Greven: He’s adorable, nonthreatening, and he doesn’t yet have any frown lines to show up in HD. He’s bright, but he stumbles charmingly over his words. He’s not going to freak out Meredith Vieira by talking about string theory, or intimidate viewers by solving complex math equations on air. And he’s hardly the only boy wonder out there.
Call it a feminist coincidence: Two books published in 1963 examine gender, sex, and marriage, but arrive at diametrically opposite conclusions. In The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan complains that "the only passion, the only pursuit, the only goal a woman is permitted is the pursuit of a man." Meanwhile, Helen Andelin’s Fascinating Womanhood urges women to embrace that primary passion, because it leads to ultimate fulfillment and complete happiness. We all know how The Feminine Mystique changed the world for countless women. But Fascinating Womanhood, while lesser-known than Friedan’s polemic, has had its own powerful impact on notions of women and their potential.
Now in its sixth edition, Fascinating Womanhood has sold more than 2 million copies. Over the years, the book has grown from less than 200 pages to more than 400, with most of the additional pages featuring testimonials from women whose miserable marriages were saved once they began following the book’s advice. And Andelin’s legacy is still very much in effect—not only for the adherents who blog about the book’s wisdom or enroll in online "Marriage, the Fascinating Way" classes offering personalized advice on how to act like a little girl, but in the female infantilization enthusiastically embraced by popular culture.
You’ve probably never heard the term "cheetah," but that’s okay—no one else had, either, until New York Observer reporter Spencer Morgan coined the slur last December. A cheetah, according to Morgan’s trend piece "Rrrowl! Beware Cougar’s Young Niece, The Cheetah," is a thirtysomething single woman who’s "discovered that getting a man [is] no longer as easy as it once was." Her biological clock is ticking and her desperation for a real relationship is getting more pathetic—and, to Morgan and the cronies he quotes in the story, more comical.
If you’re wondering why a leading New York City newspaper published a bogus piece of "news" about women past their prime, the answer is simple: The Observer was using the Sexist Media Stunt, a now-classic bit of media bait, to draw in readers and revenue.
Since 2006, the elusive guerrilla artist known as Princess Hijab has been subverting Parisian billboards, to a mixed reception. Her anonymity irritates her critics, many of whom denounce her as extremist and antifeminist; when she recently conceded, in the pages of a German newspaper, that she wasn’t a Muslim, it opened the floodgates to avid speculation in the blogosphere. If her claim of being a 21-year-old Muslim girl was only partially true, some wondered what the real message was behind her self-described "artistic jihad."
Who is Yoko Ono? She is one of the most famous figures in the world, yet also one of the most misunderstood, enigmatic, and, at times, vilified. Quite often, what we think about Ono says more about us than about the artist herself. Do we want to know her, or are we content with myth and stereotype?
For most of her career, Ono has been carelessly marked by the culture at large–as the harpy who broke up our beloved Beatles, the shrieking voice behind those unlistenable records. But what do our images of Ono say about our understanding of otherness? What do they say about art? Or icons? Truth? Transformation?
To coincide with the September release of Ono’s new album Between My Head and the Sky, Bitch asked 20 well-known musicians, writers, visual artists, and scholars–some who have met or worked with Ono, some who know her only through their admiration or critique of her work–for their thoughts on how one woman has come to stand for so much.
Who is Yoko Ono? This is exactly who we think she is...
No one pays attention to breakup songs until they need them. When you first hear one you are probably not interested; you are probably turned off by its utter depression, and so you skip ahead to the next upbeat track, something with shouting and hand claps in the chorus, something for happier people.
Fortunately for you, the dirge you just flitted by is secreted away and catalogued in the depths of your mind's ear for your future employ. Months, years, possibly hours later, the shit goes down, and you are so sad. And you’re searching, searching. You’re pretty sure the only thing that will make you feel better is listening to something that makes you feel…sadder. Why does one crave the wallow? I do not know. But one does. You want full immersion in the dissolution. You don’t want to just take the language courses. You want to go live in the country of origin; you want to stay with a host family.
Enter the breakup song to function as a vessel, a vehicle, a holding pen....
You may know her as John McCain’s cute, blonde, 24-year-old daughter, whose site, McCain Blogette, may have been the first campaign-trail travelogue to dish about its author’s favorite cosmetics and love of Tupac. You may have seen her appearances on The Rachel Maddow Show or Politically Incorrect. And you may have heard about her kerfuffle with conservative columnist Laura Ingraham, who made fat jokes about the young McCain, to which she responded in a Daily Beast column titled "Quit Talking About My Weight, Laura Ingraham." What you may not know is that Meghan McCain is currently being shined up as the new face of Republican politics in a time when that party is grasping wildly at relevance. She’s pro-God, pro-gun, pro-life, and pro-military—but, as she’s constantly pointing out, pro-sex and pro-gay as well. Two writers ponder the polarizing upstart.
Ivy doesn’t look like most performers in mainstream pornography. Then again, the thousands of viewers who have logged on to watch her YouTube videos or look at her photo sets aren’t seeking mainstream adult entertainment. While most porn stars and pinups show off their tits and ass, Ivy shows off her big belly, the body part fetishized in the niche genre of feeding porn.
You only have to look to the history of Star Trek– inspired music—ranging from surf-punkers No Kill I to the Klingon heavy-metal band Stovokor—to see that fantasy and science- fiction fans have made music devoted to their obsessions for generations. Nothing in the history of fandom, though, can compare to wizard rock, a thriving subculture of musicians and fans devoted to Harry Potter–inspired rock ’n’ roll. But don’t let the name fool you: It’s witches, not wizards, who dominate this scene.
From the pages of every mainstream women’s magazine—between the list of 43 things every confident woman knows and the six-week ab-blasting plan—the ads beckon. Conditioners enriched with vitamins vow to make each strand 10 times stronger. Undereye concealers containing white-tea antioxidants claim to combat the cellular damage that deepens those oh-so-unsightly dark circles. Pricey foundations promise to rejuvenate the face at the molecular level with the new Pro-Xylane compound, carefully extracted from Eastern European beech trees.