Best Reads of April/May: Pop Feminist Edition

Award April MayHow are we 12 days into June already?!! No really, how did the past two months go by so quickly? Maybe it just seems that way because I spent a frightening amount of my free time (1) napping and (2) binge-watching “Breaking Bad” (ah, good times).

But I wasn’t a total slacker, I made sure to also get my pop feminist read on.

Below is a list 10 of the most insightful articles on gender that came out in either April or May.

Drum roll…




(10) Disney misses the point in response to Merida petition
by Rebecca Hains, The Christian Science Monitor (May 16)

Most thought-provoking quote“By squeezing a character so widely regarded as a barrier-breaking role model into a cookie cutter mold, Disney’s Consumer Products Division sent the message that in the end, looks are all that matter.”

(9) Angelina Jolie Controls the Narrative
by Anne Helen Petersen, Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style (May 14)

Most thought-provoking quote: “And this is no tell-all interview, no banal celebrity profile.  There’s no fawning description of Jolie’s children surrounding her, or how peaceful she looks in her bed.  It’s a narrative in her voice, with her story, her decision, her description.  Because of the length constraints of the op-ed, it’s unembroidered, to the point and, well, persuasive.  There’s no glossy photos attached, nothing to distract you from Jolie’s words.”

(8) The UnSlut Project is the “It Gets Better” of Slut-Shaming
by Amanda Hess, Slate (April 26)

Most thought-provoking quote: “In the wake of Steubenville, the internet has been pinned as a destructive force in youth culture—porn warps minds, Instagram enables sexual assaults, and Twitter amplifies sexual bullying. By taking an analog diary from the ‘90s and transplanting it to Tumblr, the UnSlut project reminds us that technology is not to blame for sexual shaming—our culture is.”

(7) The Missionary Movement to ‘Save’ Black Babies
by Akiba Solomon, Colorlines (May 2)

Most thought-provoking quote“Fueled by a race-baiting, national marketing campaign and the missionary-like evangelism of its affiliates, Care Net has turned the complex reality behind black abortion rates into a single, fictional story. In that story, poor black women who have abortions are the unwitting victims of feminists and morally deficient reproductive healthcare providers, embodied in sadists such as [Kermit] Gosnell. Crisis pregnancy centers, in this fable, are the best place those women can go to be saved.”

(6) Because nobody cares about men and boys
by Dean Esmay, The Moderate Voice (April 26)

Most thought-provoking quote:“If you’re a male, you’re disposable mother*****. If you’re abused, it’s your fault. If you’re poor, it’s your fault. If you’re out of a job, it’s your fault. If you’re desperate, it’s your fault. If you’ve had your children and all your possessions and most of your income stripped from you by an insane family court system and a vindictive and abusive ex-, it’s your fault. You’re “privileged,” don’t you know, because you’re male.”

(5) Queer Talk: Collins and Griner – Coming Out in a Patriarchal Society
by Joyce Arnold, (April 30)

Most thought-provoking quote: “Thinking of Collins and Griner: Does the greater attention to a man coming out mean it’s “easier” for women? Or is that in itself an indication of sexism at work? Is the greater attention all about the money, as in male professional athletes make a lot more of it, because a lot more people are willing to pay to see men than women play sports? It’s a complex situation, but my perspective is that at the root, it’s about gender and heterosexism, as defined and maintained by a patriarchal view.”

(4) Mad Men, Megan Draper and the Skyler White Effect
by Marion Johnson, The Huffington Post (April 4)

Most thought-provoking quote: “The Skyler White effect takes its name from Breaking Bad‘s lead female character. It goes like this: a female character judges the male protagonist’s bad behavior in a completely rational way, and the audience hates her for it.”

*Pop Feminist note: As I watched the first two seasons of BB, I was totally guilty of  succumbing to the “Skyler White effect.”

(3) Kanye West’s “New Slaves” Is Right On Prisons And Consumer Culture, But Weird On Women
by Alyssa Rosenberg, ThinkProgress (May 20)

Most thought-provoking quote“‘West reflects of the DEA and CCA. ‘Fuck you and your Hampton house / I’ll fuck your Hampton spouse / Came on her Hampton blouse / And in her Hampton mouth.’

Even if you think it’s important to prioritize the analysis of racism in ‘New Slaves’ over the song’s dip into misogyny, it’s hard to deny how useless it is to turn away from the real structural targets of West’s critique to a dream of shaming powerful men by sexually dominating their wives, or how much that fantasy plays into the demonization of black male sexuality.”

(2) Amanda Bynes’ public meltdown says more about us than her
by Jill Filipovic, the Guardian (May 29)

Most thought-provoking quote: “We love watching women the way we watch things. We’re used to women’s bodies being physical representations of sex, being coat-hangers for clothing, existing for our aesthetic pleasure and admiration and disgust. Even the females among us often adopt the male gaze, watching other women and watching ourselves be watched. Aesthetically, we gravitate toward culturally-agreed-upon beauty, but perfection slashed through with hideousness can be particularly compelling. When we’re used to seeing actresses, pop stars and models as part of an assembly line of real-life Barbie dolls, it becomes all the more interesting to see one with go by with her head popped off.”

(1) Elizabeth Smart and the Psychology of the Christian Purity Culture
by Richard Beck, Experimental Theology (May 7)

Most thought-provoking quote“Based upon my experience, I would argue that male sexual sin isn’t generally framed as a purity violation. The loss of male virginity still gets the performance failure metaphor. If a boy losses his virginity it’s a mistake, a stumbling. Consequently, this is something he can easily rehabilitate. He’s not damaged goods. He can simply resolve to do better going forward. How is this so easy for him? Because his sexuality is being regulated by a performance metaphor.

By contrast, and this is the heart of of the matter, the loss of female virginity is almost exclusively regulated by the purity metaphor. For females the loss of virginity is a bit more than a performance failure. It’s a loss of purity that, because of the way purity works, is catastrophic and beyond rehabilitation. And because of this she’s got no way to move forward, metaphorically speaking. The game’s over. And thus she reaches the only conclusion the purity metaphor makes available to her: She’s damaged goods. And all the emotions related to that judgment of contamination rush forward as she internalizes all the shame, disgust, revulsion and nausea.

This is the psychology that makes the Christian purity culture so toxic.”

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