From Iraq to North Dakota: The Global Sex-Trafficking Crisis


Recent reports have surfaced about the sexual enslavement of women and girls by the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), an extremist group that has overtaken territories in Northern Iraq and Syria. Video footage appears to show ISIS men sitting around talking and laughing before they bid to purchase women and girls; price tables for […]

Where Do Feminists Fall in the Charlie Hebdo Debate?


Last night, the PEN American Center, a literary and human rights organization, conferred a Freedom of Expression Courage award to Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine that was brutally attacked by Islamic extremists in January after it published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. In the weeks leading up to the PEN event, heated controversy erupted when […]

Where Are All the Women in Ai Weiwei’s New Exhibition?


When I walked into the New Industries Building where the Ai Weiwei @Large exhibit is housed on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay, I was greeted by a giant Chinese dragon. Suspended from the ceiling, it snaked through the prison’s old work space, where model prisoners were once allowed to sew uniforms or do […]

Forget “The November Man” — Try “Homeland,” “Hunted” or “Haywire” Instead

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You don’t have to be a feminist to not like The November Man. You just have to be someone who likes good movies. Even though I grew up watching sexist James Bonds films with my real-life CIA dad, this movie is worse. Not only does the film specialize in putting women down, but the female […]

Why Mamas Write


Outside of a few high-profile writers such as Anne Lamott, women who write explicitly about being a mother risk being seen as lightweight by the literary establishment. Not real writers. The anthology Mamas Write: 29 Tales of Truth, Wit and Grit turns this assumption on its head. You won’t find cliché advice on how to […]

Growing Up Queer in San Francisco – Easy, Right?

Still Here

Just like thousands of queers living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I came here from somewhere else, already out of the closet and already an adult. Because I didn’t know anyone actually from San Francisco but knew, like everyone else, that it was a “gay mecca,” I assumed that coming out here was probably […]

A Girl’s Guide to the Chilean Revolution


What price do the families of revolutionaries pay for their loved one’s idealism, and is it worth it? In her memoir, Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary’s Daughter, Carmen Aguirre describes the years from 11 to 21 in which she, along with her Chilean resistance fighting family, lived a life of secrecy, lies and terror […]

The Arc of My Mother’s Brow


We called ourselves the Dead Mothers Support Group or DMSG for short. If there was a touch of the macabre in the name, that was okay with us. Losing our moms as kids had been devastating. Why sugarcoat it? We were Harvard grad students who came together inside a dingy lecture hall to swap stories […]

Ending the Cold War With My Father


When my father was honored for his 32-year career in the CIA–a career that spanned the Cuban Missile Crisis to the fall of the Berlin Wall–he invited me to the ceremony. At 23, I didn’t know what to say. Not because his being in the CIA was new information–it wasn’t–but because we were so different. […]