Downton Gabby’s Bawdy Feminist Commentary


Fans of Downton Abbey will know the forlorn feeling I’m talking about: It’s when a cliff-hanging final scene ends and you are left with the sad realization (and a mysterious craving for PBS advertisers’ Viking River Cruises and Ralph Lauren floor-length yellow skirts) that you have to wait an entire week to bask in the […]

Theater Uses Feminist Quiz to Promote Play

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If you have burned up even minimal time on Facebook, you have likely taken those ubiquitous quizzes that offer a whole new level of self-knowledge than anything available to  previous generations—from which city to which superhero you resemble most. The Goodman Theater in Chicago has made the most of this innovation to test one’s feminist-history […]

Transparent‘s Jill Soloway on Inventing the Female Gaze


You don’t watch the new show, “Transparent,” as much as you mainline it. Like me, you may plan to  just watch one episode of the season before bed on Amazon Prime, but then find yourself hours later staggering from the couch, realizing the workday ahead is a wash. Behind the addictiveness is creator Jill Soloway, […]

Venus in Fur: Is It Good for the Feminists?


Before I met 36-year old Chicago-based director Joanie Schultz, I never really saw or thought about the connection between Jane Austen and the politics of the dominatrix. This was among the topics we discussed recently at the opening of  a production of Venus in Fur that Schultz directed at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. The comedic […]

Playwright Rebecca Gilman on Feminism, Class and Flawed Heroes

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Before I met playwright Rebecca Gilman to discuss her newest work, I prepared myself to discuss some dark topics. A common thread in her widely performed, often gritty and self-described “naturalistic” works is violence against women, such as in her most critically acclaimed play, The Glory of Living (1998), about a female serial killer. We […]

The Pulitizer-Prize Winner As a Young Feminist

Latina Magazine Hosts The "Next Generation Latina" Breakfast

At the age of 35, playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes has much to be proud of. A Yale graduate from West Philadelphia, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama last year for her play Water by the Spoonful and wrote the book for the Tony Award-winning musicalIn the Heights. And it turns out that she also […]

Eye-Opening Dispatch from “Kingdom of the Sick”


Laurie Edwards is all too familiar with life in the “kingdom of the sick,” which is how cultural critic Susan Sontag famously described the hidden world of chronic illness. From an early age, the 32-year old writer, blogger and mother of a young daughter has spent weeks of her life in the hospital and endured […]

The Woman Who Separated Church From State

The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today

Just [this week], presidential candidate Rick Santorum was all over the media with his comment that JFK’s pledge to absolute separation of church and state made him “want to throw up.”

Ha Jin Revisits Nanjing’s Rape


“Doing what can’t be done is the glory of living.” When American missionary Minnie Vautrin cites this old Quaker saying to an admirer in Ha Jin’s Nanjing Requiem, she means to be humble, explaining her work helping Chinese refugees in wartime as merely her Christian duty. But the quote underscores that what Vautrin accomplished was heroic to […]

“Unforgettable” Shows Promise for Memorable Female Lead


Tonight’s premiere of the new CBS drama “Unforgettable” brings to mind another cable show, “Monk” (2002-2009). “Monk”‘s detective lead had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which was both a blessing and a curse–not very practical for trying to enjoy the ordinary parts of life, but really helpful for catching criminals. Now CBS riffs on this concept […]