99 Ways to Respect Black Women

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This year marked 100 years since the death of Harriet Tubman, the former American slave who proved great heart and courage in rescuing other slaves. This fact was commemorated not with a holiday or a monument but by our very own brother Russell Simmons thinking it would be wonderful to make a “Harriet Tubman sex […]

Challenging Abstinence-Ed in Illinois

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This fall, 6th- through 12th-grade students in Illinois will no longer learn exclusively about abstinence in their sex-ed classes. Gov. Pat Quinn plans to sign HB 2675 into law, requiring schools with sex-ed programs to also offer “age appropriate, medically accurate and complete” lessons on birth control and sexually transmitted infections (STI). Taking effect January […]

Feminism and “Real Men”

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[See Update at bottom] Can men be feminists? Absolutely. But recent media maneuvers and blogosphere blow-ups have put this confident answer to the test. For those outside the feminist bubble, here is the nutshell version: One self-identified feminist man with a history of confused intent and mental illness hijacked an extraordinary amount of attention. That […]

Should Feminists Be Critical of Compulsory Monogamy?

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In 1980, Adrienne Rich broke new ground in her essay “On Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” in which she argued that feminism need not merely include lesbian voices but actively critique compulsory heterosexuality as a patriarchal institution. More than 30 years later, feminist support for gay and lesbian rights has become commonplace, and is frequently […]

Misogyny at the Wailing Wall

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Every month for the past 24 years, a group of Jewish women of many denominations meet at the Western Wall, a holy site in Jerusalem, to pray and worship together. They have been met with violent opposition, including tear-gassing, thrown chairs and brutal police arrests. These brave women call themselves The Women of the Wall, […]

Reports of Feminism’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

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I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists. Maybe some women just don’t care. But how could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word? —Ellen Page, actor If the word ‘feminist’ has negative connotations, running away from the word […]

Gendering LEGO

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On a friend’s Facebook wall the other day, the topic of geek girls needing to defend their geekiness came up, and the topic shifted to gendered LEGO sets. Even having had this conversation many times, I noticed something on the LEGO site that I hadn’t previously. Go look at just the Bricks & More sets. […]

Of Hoodies and White Women, Trayvon and Othello

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Trayvon Martin could not have been me. Not now. Not 35 years ago, when, like President Obama, I was Trayvon Martin’s’ age. The reason is plain: I am a white woman, raised in a wealthy suburb, an English professor. The infinite ways in which my life—and the life of my own teenage son—are different and […]

Beyond the “Secularism Tic” – An Interview with Feminist Philosopher Sandra Harding

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“You have to put your ideas out in public. Realize you’re never going to be 100 percent right, and trust that for now you are the least wrong you could manage to be.” When you listen to Sandra Harding speak, everything comes into focus. Her words are inspiring, empowering, an invitation to move conversations forward […]

We’re Glad That Marriage Equality Makes Alito and Scalia Mad

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Today’s Supreme Court marriage decisions are big news for all U.S. citizens who care about equality. Not only do the rulings affirm the democratic principle of equal rights for all, they also signal a victory for the idea of equality within marriage—whether you’re gay or straight. The battle lines in these cases have to do with […]