If the glossy pages of my elementary school history books had told me stories like that of Grace Lee Boggs, I would have paid more attention. Like me, Boggs is Asian-American who was born to immigrant parents—if I’d learned her story growing up, I might have felt invested in our country’s history instead of feeling disenchanted by it.
In this episode, we look at the way movies and music discuss reproductive rights, including an analysis of Nicki Minaj lyrics, a history of American sex-ed films, and an exploration of the how movies make abortion seem more dangerous than it really is.
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Kelly Cogswell's new book details the origins of the Lesbian Avengers—seen at left eating fire at an Dyke March in the early 1990s (photo by Carolina Kroon).
Before reading Kelly Cogswell’s book Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger, I confess I didn’t know about Dyke TV. I didn’t know about the first and largest Dyke March in DC that 20,000 people attended in April of 1993. I certainly didn’t know my undergraduate English professor from Hunter College, Sarah Chinn, was a part of the Lesbian Avengers.
Last week, I came across a very strange comic book: in 1976, Planned Parenthood teamed up with Marvel to publish a one-off comic in which Spider-Man defends America's youth from misleading sex education.
The proceedings of the infamous Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas Senate hearings in 1991 perhaps felt like a revolution at the time. A black woman challenged her boss’s bad behavior on a national stage and made sexual harassment part of our national conversation. On film over 20 years later, the entire episode feels like a relevant counter-point to “leaning in.” The professional world, the documentary reminds us, isn’t a cute place to be a woman. Anita Hill had to act against the interest of her career to do what she knew was right. Instead of leaning in, she called out her boss. For that, she’s earned both immense respect and scorn.
When Beyonce’s fifth studio album dropped late last year, she nearly broke the Internet. It was an epic reconnaissance commissioned by a pop queen determined to flex her might as a self-possessed businesswoman—someone who knows that her brand is dependent upon her celebrity status, and vice versa.
In August, a doctor in Toronto received an unexpected email.
It was from a stranger in Maryland, telling the doctor that one of the transgender patients whose care he was overseeing “regularly attacks women on social media who have a lesbian feminist polititical [sic] opinion. That is, he harasses us and establishes fake Twitter accounts to harass us… Query whether this is the kind of experience one must have to ‘live as a woman.’ - you bully other women?”
The clinic supervisor quickly wrote back, “Please be aware that our centre finds this email in violation of ethical practice, our anti-oppression principles, and offensive to trans* persons.”
That email came from Cathy Brennan, an attorney, radical feminist, and lesbian activist who is well known for her beliefs that transgender women should be considered men. In the name of feminism, Brennan has advocated against a UN policy that aims to protect transgender people from discrimination.