Andrea James, who spent a year-and-a-half in prison, speaking at the Free Her rally in Washington, DC.
The women of Orange is the New Black are, for the most part, fiction. But this summer, actual women who were incarcerated at the prison where the hit Netflix show takes place are organizing in real life for prison reform.
In the second season of Orange is the New Black, Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren (Uzo Aduba) gains surprising depth.
Recently on Tumblr, I came across pictures of pregnant women who were in prison. In these photos, women nursed babies, gave birth, and cared for their children, despite their prison sentence. One woman was handcuffed to a bed while giving birth. When I showed the pictures to a friend, he commented: “I wonder what they did to get in there.” Then he walked away. His response really struck me.
When it burst onto the small screen last summer, Orange is the New Black quickly catapulted women's incarceration into pop culture consciousness, becoming most-watched of Netflix's series of 2013. As media has been buzzing about the all-at-once release of season two this Friday—speculating on plot development and characters—the real-life Piper Kerman has also been busy.
"Orange is the New Black" (OITNB) premiered on Netflix on July 13 and I, like many others, settled down with a family sized bag of Sun Chips to unapologetically binge-watch the entire season that very same Saturday. It struck me how many people on the show are seen doing something that's unusual for television: reading books.
Here's all the feminist news we have for you this morning!
• Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for giving files to WikiLeaks. He hoped that the documents he leaked would lead "society as a whole to come to the conclusion that wars weren't worth it." [Boing Boing]
• In a bizarre attempt to shut down abortion clinics, a billionaire-backed anti-abortion group urges lawyers to sue abortion providers by sending them an 11-minute DVD. [Mother Jones]
• Victim-blaming has once again gone viral: Photographs of a 17-year-old girl performing oral sex at a concert in Ireland emerged online, creating the slut-shamey hashtag #SlaneSlut while discussions of the men involved are nowhere to be found. [Jezebel]
Netflix's Orange Is The New Black debuted at a perfect time for numerous reasons—we were starving, really, for a racially diverse female-driven show unafraid to tackle queer and transgender narratives.
But the timing is particularly perfect politically, because now more than ever the shameful, counterproductive, racially biased and monumentally expensive criminal justice system deserves national interrogation, and this show could potentially help move that conversation forward.