An interview with Peggy Orensteinby M. M. Adjarian,Illustrated by Rebecca Green,appeared in issue Primal;published in 2011;filed under Books.
From the outside, Peggy Orenstein epitomizes feminist success. She's an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in such distinguished publications as the New Yorker, Elle, Vogue, Discover, Mother Jones, and O: The Oprah Magazine. But her work itself is dedicated to asserting the ways in which "having it all"—or trying to—in a world built to the measure of men can have profound effects on women and girls.
Articleby Eryn Loeb,Illustrated by Kristopher Pollard,appeared in issue Confidential;published in 2010;filed under Books.
In a sweetly musty used-book-store, I recently bought a few thick, oversize issues of Good Housekeeping and Ladies' Home Journal. Dating from the early 1950s, they were full of ads for Del Monte fruit cocktail (serving suggestion: use it to top a loaf of canned ham, for something "really different!"), Lustroware plastic wastebaskets ("Love its elegant beauty"), and articles worrying that comic books "create child criminals" and warning mothers that "Nobody likes a young smart aleck."
I'm meeting up with journalist, media critic, and activist Jennifer L. Pozner at a chic West Village doughnut café. As Pozner strolls in on a pair of Marc Jacobs platform slingbacks, she casually tosses her Kooba tote over the back of the patio chair. Her floppy- brimmed Prada hat catches a late-summer Manhattan breeze and, fresh from an appointment with celebrity stylist Garren, her perfectly highlighted tresses are smoothed into a simple ponytail.
“Daughters aren’t to be independent. They’re not to act outside the scope of their father. As long as they’re under the authority of their fathers, fathers have the ability to nullify or not the oaths and the vows. Daughters can’t just go out independently and say, ‘I’m going to marry whoever I want.’ No. The father has the ability to say, ‘No, I’m sorry, that has to be approved by me.’”
Or did it? Maybe it started a few months earlier, when Hillary Clinton downed a shot of whiskey and made some offhand, wrong-footed comments about “hardworking voters, white voters” who still supported her despite her African-American opponent’s lead in delegates.
Wearable technology may feel like science fiction, but it’s actually becoming a reality right before our eyes. Law enforcement, the military, and the medical industry have long sought ways to integrate technology with clothing to augment health and personal safety. More recently, high fashion has started swooning over the possibilities of techy dressing: The artsy Rodarte label debuted LED-embedded glowing heels at Fashion Week earlier this year.
Like any good lesbian, I care a lot about my hair. Sadly, as often happens with many a good lesbian, this hasn’t always led to particularly good choices when it comes to my ’do. During my closeted high-school years, I sported the LHB (long-haired butch, for the uninitiated) before shifting to the “can I still pass for bi?” bob in college. Post-grad, there was a coif that somehow rolled all Jodie Foster’s looks into one. And somewhere along the way, there were even bangs involved.
After the National Equality March wended its way through the nation's capital this past October, the New York Times ran coverage of the event under the headline "Gay Rights Marchers Press Cause in Washington." A year earlier, in the midst of California's Prop 8 battle, American Apparel debuted its "Legalize Gay" t-shirts, which were scooped up by supporters of gay rights, gay marriage, gay adoption, and gays in the military. After Prop 8 passed, comedienne Wanda Sykes came out. She was very proud, she said, to be "gay."
At the risk of seeming pedantic or quibbling, one might pause to wonder what ever happened to the word that once seemed to march so firmly hand-in-hand with "gay." Whither "lesbian"?
For decades, self-help literature and an obsession with wellness have captivated the imaginations of countless liberal Americans. Even now, as some of the hardest economic times in decades pinch our budgets, our spirits, we're told, can still be rich. Books, blogs, and articles saturated with fantastical wellness schemes for women seem to have multiplied, in fact, featuring journeys (existential or geographical) that offer the sacred for a hefty investment of time, money, or both. There's no end to the luxurious options a woman has these days—if she's willing to risk everything for enlightenment. And from Oprah Winfrey and Elizabeth Gilbert to everyday women siphoning their savings to downward dog in Bali, the enlightenment industry has taken on a decidedly feminine sheen.
Filmmakers Eric Stanley and Chris Vargas met at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2005 in a class on film, video, and gender where Stanley was the teaching assistant and Vargas a student. Both were radical activists on issues of prison abolition, queer antiassimilation, and trans justice, and both were heavily influenced by revolutionary feminist and political films like Lizzie Borden's Born in Flames and Gillo Pontecorvo's 1966 The Battle of Algiers. Naturally, it wasn't long before the two began collaborating—their first film, Homotopia, was released in 2006.
The film reflected Stanley and Vargas's disillusionment with the recent concerns of gays and lesbians in the political sphere. Gone are the days when queers actively and openly resisted heteronormativity; gone are the many prisoner-solidarity projects that Regina Kunzel describes in her 2008 book Criminal Intimacy: Prison and the Uneven History of Modern American Sexuality; gone is the grassroots fervor of past queer organizations like Gay Liberation Front and ACT UP that militated against state invasions of queer lives and politics. In their place are groups like Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, who actively set about courting D.C. politicians on same-sex marriage. Instead of arguing that everyone needs health care, mainstream gays and lesbians are now insisting that an unfair system should be extended to include them.
The new film Criminal Queers is the pair's second attempt to confront the rapid mainstreaming of gay politics. Along with a bevy of radical and enthusiastic friends and lovers, they've made a sequel to Homotopia that finds the wedding crashers on the run. One of them, Lucy Parsons, languishes in jail after being denied bail, her gender identity—while she claims female pronouns, her state identity card marks her as male—throwing the state into confusion. Drawing upon the same visual repertoire as Homotopia, Criminal Queers is a mixture of satire and political critique, wrapped up in a classic prison-break narrative. The presence of perhaps the most famous prison abolitionist of our time, Angela Davis, lends weight to the film's rumination on the prison-industrial complex. Yasmin Nair caught up with Stanley and Vargas to talk about the PIC, the HRC, and feminist film in a genderqueer world.