Transparent‘s Jill Soloway on Inventing the Female Gaze

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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?

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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

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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”

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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

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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

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“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

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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 […]

Lynn Peril’s Fiendish Study of the Secretary

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When I started to collect kitschy advice books to women from thrift-store bargain bins in the 1980s, their main attraction was a good laugh. My stash included some gems from the 1970s, such as Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the New Single Girl, featuring advice about conducting office affairs with married men, or Partridge Family […]

Dear NBC and ABC: I’ve Seen “Mad Men,” And Your Shows Are No “Mad Men”

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An ad in the new Entertainment Weekly proudly proclaims a feminist slant for one of NBC’s most touted fall dramas: The Playboy Club, on the 1960s’ birth of Hugh Hefner’s empire. In an accompanying “interview,” lead actor Laura Benanti elaborates: These ladies were making more money than their fathers, putting themselves through school, running away […]