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 […]

Rivka Solomon Acts Up, Chronic Fatigue Be Damned

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Rivka Solomon, the daughter of 1960s activists, has long been a rabble rouser. Her 2002 edited anthology, That Takes Ovaries!, now in its sixth printing, still inspires action with its essays by women telling their true stories of “being bold and brazen, outrageous or courageous”–from rallying against sexual harassment to chewing out a burglar in […]

What’s Behind Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Yellow Wallpaper?

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Today, Charlotte Bronte, the author of Jane Eyre, the subject of a big Hollywood film, is not the only 19th-century woman writer newly capturing the public imagination with her portrayal of  a “madwoman” in an attic. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1860-1935, is also re-emerging in the spotlight with a bevy of recent books about her, including […]

How an Ill Woman Found Common Ground with a Wild Snail

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What appears at first to be a simple creature is actually a complex being, capable of everything any other animal form is capable of: a complex love life, an epicurean appetite, finding a comfortable place to sleep, skilled locomotion, multiple defense mechanisms…

A (Very Incomplete) Feminist Poetry Syllabus for 2011

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Recently, I have been hearkening back to my literary year–1988. That was in college when I had a feminist poetry class, and also the last time I read such material in depth. Not that it was a chore back then. I was intrigued by the irreverent, political, intellectually fierce and nakedly honest material, which grabbed me […]

The Vagina Dialogues, Circa 1970

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Before there was The Vagina Monologues, there were the pelvic instructors. These women, from Boston’s Women’s Community Health Center, were radical in not only instructing medical students in female sexual anatomy but in also using their own bodies as models. Their short-lived yet highly symbolic program took place from 1975 to 1976 at Harvard Medical […]

The New Face of “Jane” in Chicago

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Like with Jane, most of the women served by the Chicago Abortion Fund are poor African American women, But a change with CAF is that African American women are those actually running things.

The Gen X Male-Only Midlife Crisis: Hot Tub v. SATC

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The men of “Hot Tub” are funny, while the women of SATC are “desperate.”

The Cancer Bitch on “Sick Lit”

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Illness is not a gift. Do you know what a gift is? Earrings.