1. The important question concerning Hollywood’s imbalance is not whether good things are happening — they are — but whether each advancement inspires the developmental change necessary to make the numbers reflect the financial and creative strides being made in the industry. In 2014, people talk about the imbalance — but it will only matter if the powers that be start listening to the ever-rising voices of discontent.

    5 years of Girls on Film

    A look at the ongoing evolution of femme-centric film in culture and Hollywood


  2. But the fact is, there is no Platonic ideal of a feminist. It is near impossible to eschew everything and anything that can be linked to the patriarchy, and even if one could, it would be an identity so radical that it would be nearly impossible to sustain. There is just no perfect way to resist centuries upon centuries of male dominance and occasionally put on lipstick and a pair of heels. Or even have a kid, for that matter. The good news is that past generations of women didn’t have to be perfect feminists to elicit change, and neither do we.

  3. Chelsea Handler’s comedic personality isn’t always easy to love; like Schumer’s and Sarah Silverman’s, it’s aggressive, raunchy, and thrives on shock value. Ultimately, though, these are all personas meant to undermine the cultural expectations we place on women’s speech. In this particular comedic performance, no one is proverbially safe and there’s little room for niceness.

  4. "The obvious objection — that it’s presumptuous to assume women dress for men — doesn’t quite cover it. Many women do wear makeup and choose outfits in part to look more attractive to certain men. But rare is the woman who seeks to attract absolutely all men, or even as many men as possible. As Laurie Penny notes regarding her own short hair, a woman’s beauty choices can effectively sort through the men a woman attracts, eliminating those a she wouldn’t be interested in to begin with."

    — Phoebe Maltz Bovy in, Why are so many men trolling beauty sites?


  5. Feminists who oppose name-change — and not all do — tend to assume that name-changers know, deep down, that they’re doing something terrible

    We get bogged down in ‘choice feminism’ discussions — can a woman ever choose the option that’s consistent with what’s expected of her? The same comes up regarding use of makeup. Given the pressure on women to wear the stuff, can a woman ever choose to do so? The ‘choice feminism’ conversation makes sense regarding substantive life decisions, but is far weaker regarding symbolic ones.


  6. Monica Bartyzel, in Girls on Film:

    Frozen only vilifies the Prince Charming fantasy as it currently stands: The idea that Prince Charming can be recognized in a moment, and that true love can come from a single kiss on dead lips or a perfectly sized shoe. In Frozen, Kristoff is the one because he falls in love with the girl he’s taken the time to know — for her attitude and resourcefulness, and for her spirit and candor. If Kristoff offers her passionate, respectful, and reciprocal love, how can Hans’ villainous twist shame girls’ fantasies? The fantasy remains, but in a more worthwhile form.

    How Frozen killed Prince Charming


  7. A powerful podcast on how we define “manliness” in the internet age.

    Read more on Amanda Hess and how women journalists are treated online.

    Subscribe and listen to all of The Week’s mini-podcasts here.


  8. Our problem, then, isn’t that manliness is under assault in our time. It’s that too many of us expect too little of men. On average, men tend toward aggression. They often valorize strength and courage. They are keenly concerned with social status. They frequently feel overwhelmed by powerful sexual urges. None of this is new. What is new is that American society over the past few decades has stopped holding men to traditional standards of honor, restraint, and civilized decency — standards that, whatever their defects, tended to channel and elevate masculinity.

  9. In fact, though we see no physical embodiment of Samantha — and glean just a bit of her existence outside Theodore — she is the one who instigates the relationship and uses it to evolve. Nathan Rabin at A.V. Club has said, “The Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists solely…to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” But in Her, the situation is reversed. Theodore has taught Samantha. He is a quirky guy who plays videogames, wears high-waisted pants, and loves to cry. He’s the strange paramour easily titillated by running through a crowd, and the man amused by a raunchy doodle. “I want to discover myself,” she says, and he answers: “I want to help,”…

  10. The sexual organs, too, are very closely connected with the spine and the brain by means of the nerves, and if they are handled, or if you keep thinking about them, these nerves get excited and become exhausted, and this makes the back ache, the brain heavy and the whole body weak. It lays the foundation for consumption, paralysis, and heart disease. It weakens the memory, makes a boy careless, negligent and listless. It even makes many lose their minds; others, when grown, commit suicide.

    From 1903’s Perfect Womanhood for Maidens — Wives — Mothers.

    Masturbation was once considered more offensive than child abuse


  11. 500%

    The increase in cosmetic labia surgery in the UK since 2001.

    Plastic surgery’s newest obsession: The ‘perfect’ vagina


  12. The parts of generation during labor should always be well oiled or greased with lard, as it greatly assists and mitigates the suffering, and lubricates the parts of passage.

    From John Gunn’s 1861 book Gunn’s New Domestic Physician

    How to give birth 100 years ago


  13. Girls on Film:

    Giving an Oscar-centric gift set is just about the easiest present there is, because there are only four films in history directed by women that have earned a Best Director nomination. They are:

    Lina Wertmuller for Seven Beauties: This film focuses on a criminal sent to the army, who escapes during World War II, only to get captured by the Germans and sent to a prison camp. The film is also part of “The Lina Wertmuller Collection.”

    Jane Campion for The Piano: The 1993 film stars Holly Hunter as a mute woman who communicates through her piano. She is sold into marriage with one man while being drawn to another. Though Campion didn’t win the Oscar for Best Director, the film nabbed Best Actress, Supporting Actress, and Original Screenplay.

    Sofia Coppola for Lost in TranslationFollowing in her famous father’s footsteps, Coppola courted big success with her second feature, which follows a blossoming friendship between an aging actor (Bill Murray) and a recent graduate (Scarlett Johansson) experiencing culture shock in Tokyo. Coppola won an Oscar for Best Screenplay, as the film enjoyed an impressive $120 million gross on a budget of $4 million.

    Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker: Finally, in 2009, Bigelow became the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar. The win solidified her standing as the female director at the top of every movie wish-list, as she won for her gritty look at a bomb disposal team during the Iraq War.

    This doesn’t, however, mean that the countless other female-directed films got no love. Nominees who missed Oscar nods while earning other recognition include: Debra Granik for the Jennifer Lawrence-starring Winter’s Bone, Marleen Gorris for Antonia’s Line (Best Foreign Language Film winner), Deepa Mehta for Water, and Penny Marshall for Awakenings. And that’s on top of the nominees and winners for short and documentary films, like Jessica Yu’s Documentary Short winner Breathing Lessons.

    A holiday gift guide for film fans