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.
Birth control advocate Margaret Sanger is often held up in political debates as a simple symbol: She must be either revered as a fearless crusader for reproductive rights or dismissed as a racist, extremist abortion-monger. Sanger has become such and politically loaded figure in American history that it’s easy to forget she was actually a flesh-and-blood person.
Artist Peter Bagge’s new comics biography of Sanger, Woman Rebel, out from Drawn and Quarterly this fall presents the iconoclast as we’ve never seen her: a kooky comic hero, full of bad ideas, wild adventures, big ambitions, and a fiery spirit.
Racism is an integral part of US culture, but the shape and nature of racism changes with every generation. This country’s roots in slavery and colonization gave way to Jim Crow, reservations, and racist immigration policies. Since the late 1960s, we’ve been living in the post-integration era where real progress in a few areas has created a pretense that racism is over. This things-are-so-much-better-now narrative continues in spite of people of color continuing to testify about how racism still affects every aspect of our lives on a daily basis.
As the context of racism changes, what it means to be a white anti-racist “ally” has transformed, as well.
Far from being a union of one man and one woman, marriage, for most of human history, has been the union of two men: the husband and father-in-law's wealth and property. Marriage was a business arrangement in which love was highly incidental. Forget kids or compatibility, the only thing guaranteed going in was a well-negotiated contract.