Dec 6, 2010
I’m hardly the first person to say this, and I certainly hope I’m not the last, but what is up with Hollywood’s movie-rating system?
The latest installment of MPAA madness is over the upcoming film Blue Valentine, starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Reynolds in a difficult relationship. The film evidently features three fairly-explicit sex scenes, though nothing that sounds outside of what I’ve seen in plenty of other places. Which is why the MPAA’s recent decision to give it the feared NC17 rating is so outrageous.
A little …
Nov 29, 2010
So. From the Department of Depressing News comes this latest gem: a young woman at a nearby school accused a Notre Dame football player of sexually assaulting her. The school, depending on whether you believe their pre-publicity statement or post-publicity statement, either did nothing with these allegations, or very, very little. The athlete in question wasn’t even benched pending investigation, he just played on as if nothing had happened. And then, tragically, the young woman recently killed herself.
Nov 24, 2010
by Jaclyn Friedman
Thanks to Hollaback, this video of a woman confronting a subway flasher has spread like, well, a virus across the interwebs over the past three days. As well it should: it’s thrilling viewing, verging into the land of fantasy-fullfillment for many of us who’ve been sexually harassed in public. Most people seem to be throwing themselves eagerly into this brave woman’s shoes, and experiencing the rush of power that she must have felt when she flipped the script on the cretin. And that’s awesome. But …
Nov 15, 2010
A few weeks ago, when I was encouraging everyone to go to the SPARK Summit, I got this question from a friend of mine who’s raising two young girls:
The idea of owning sexuality versus being sexualized by the media is a little tricky for me (so I assume it’s very confusing to lots of girls, too). I’ve seen you talk about "pearl clutching" about Miley Cyrus’ antics, but then in [the promo video for SPARK], she’s a prime example of girls being sexualized by the media. So
Nov 9, 2010
by Jaclyn Friedman
A Canadian court is currently considering the case of a woman who consented to breath play (what they’re calling "erotic asphyxiation") with her partner, but did not consent to the anal penetration she woke up to him perpetrating on her. And it’s all being covered as a test of whether or not a woman can give "advance consent."
People. If you think this case is about whether or not a woman can give "advance consent," you have a very twisted definition of consent. Because what she’s …
Nov 2, 2010
There’s only one kind of sex scandal worthy of discussing, and that’s the kind in which one or more participants in the scandal are acting like hypocrites. Think Eliot Spitzer, crusading against the sex trade and frequenting a prostitute. Think any of the “family values” politicians getting caught cheating, or the homophobic preachers who are actually on the DL. Think Tiger Woods selling himself as the ultimate family man. Even still, you’ll notice that hypocrisy alone isn’t enough to make a valid sex scandal – the hypocrite must …
Sep 26, 2010
by Jaclyn Friedman
On a recent trip to speak at a college, I wound up chatting with a student who was struggling to help a friend in a difficult situation. Trouble is, she’s not sure if she really wants help. That got me to thinking about the perennial question of how to help a friend in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship – specifically if your friend doesn’t want to leave.
One thing that’s common to all victims of relationship abuse, whether it’s emotional or physical, is that the …
Sep 21, 2010
by Jaclyn Friedman
You know what I’m asking for? An end to “she was asking for it.” You know how you can tell? Because I am telling you that with my words. Maybe I’m butt-naked on my knees while I’m writing this, or maybe I’m stalking around in a hot little dress and shiny red heels, or maybe I’m cross-legged and wearing a burlap sack. And yet, whatever my choice of outfit or my body language, it would be easy to know what it is that I want. Because …
Sep 14, 2010
by Jaclyn Friedman
You may have noticed that this column has been publishing fairly irregularly of late. For that, I apologize. But I hope to make it up to you with a brand-new format!
Don’t worry, I’ll still be commenting on pop culture as it interacts with our sexual culture. But, starting with this column, I’ll also be addressing topics related to promoting healthy sexuality and preventing sexual violence that aren’t directly related to the pop culture news of the day. Instead, I’ll be taking my inspiration from the …
Aug 17, 2010
OK. So. You know I love you, right? I mean, I love you for the renewable energy source that is Cat Deeley’s awesomeness alone, but also for the inspiration and wonder and insane talent, for the fact that there’s a show on TV that encourages an interest in the arts, and for being a reality show talent competition that revels in building people up without spending much energy at all tearing anybody down.
So. This is hard to say, but…sometimes? You hurt my feelings. I mean, I know you …
Jun 28, 2010
It’s real. It’s fleshy and short and caramel-colored and honestly, it’s bigger and lumpier and weaker than I wish it was just now. But that’s my business. I can do some things about that or not to a certain extent. How much I care varies from day to day. You can think I’m fine or a fat slob, that’s your business, whether I like it or not. But what you cannot do, what you should never even wish you could do, is torture my body or anyone else’s in …
Jun 22, 2010
Glee wrapped up its huge first season on Wednesday with a lot of awesome music, a somewhat too-neat plot resolution… and a peek at the night Quinn’s baby was conceived.
Some folks were disturbed by this clip, in which Puck pressures Quinn to say yes to sex, dismissing their loyalty to (her boyfriend and his best friend) Finn, telling her she’s not fat, and encouraging her to have another drink. It certainly isn’t the picture of healthy sexuality. But is it rape, like some fans are claiming?
Jun 7, 2010
You may have heard that Kendra Wilkinson, ex-Playboy bunny and Girl Next Door, has a sex tape that’s just been released against her wishes. What you may not know is that this isn’t a sex tape at all. It’s a rape tape.
Kendra doesn’t really want to be videotaped. She says so on quite a few occasions.
"Please don’t do it," she says. …
Apr 26, 2010
Did you know that plus-size women are hotter than Victoria’s Secret models or Pussycat Dolls?
On the face of it, that seems to be the takeaway from the scandal that broke this week when plus-size retailer Lane Bryant accused ABC and Fox of discriminating against their new lingerie ad just because if features fuller figures. Here’s the ad:
Apr 19, 2010
Here’s the thing though: you’re using my body to do it. Your "edgy" little missive does more than puff up your resume — it also tells the world that if I (or any woman) drinks in public, I’ve irrevocably consented to pretty much any sexual act with any guy I might make eye contact with, …
Apr 12, 2010
by Jaclyn Friedman
A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by the incredible Amanda Hess (who writes The Sexist column for the Washington City Paper. You must read her regularly. Seriously.) about the pitfalls and opportunities of trying to date while feminist.
I have to admit, I agreed to the interview for pretty selfish reasons: dating is confusing, and I’ll take nearly any opportunity to get some help sorting it out. But what I got when the interview went live (aside from a sense of exactly how popular Fight …
Mar 23, 2010
Last Sunday, I published an op-ed in the Washington Post about the crisis of rape on college campuses, and how schools should be handling it. In the piece, I discuss my own experience of being sexually assaulted when I was in college. I’ve spoken about this experience in public before, so I knew what to expect: a barrage of emails, comments and blog posts from people who want me to Shut. Up. They call me a liar. They make crazy and false assumptions about what happened to me in …
Mar 8, 2010
Very few details are yet known about the case. We just know that Roethlisberger and some buddies were partying at a club outside of Atlanta Thursday night, and were seen "mingling" with a particular group of women, and the next day, a woman from that group told local police that Roethlisberger had sexually assaulted her.
This column isn’t about whether or not he "did it." (Though I tend to believe people who claim …
Mar 1, 2010
I’ve been avoiding writing about Tiger Woods, in part because so many other people are already writing about him, and in part because I think his so-called scandal is really a tempest in a teakettle. As this cheeky chart so ably demonstrates, Tiger Woods never promised us anything, and so he also owes us nothing. His wife? Sure. He owes her big time, probably more than he can ever repay. But us, the viewing public? Why should we care about whether or not a great golfer has broken his …
Feb 22, 2010
I’ll be honest: I’m not really a sports fan. There isn’t a single sport I follow on a regular basis. (Back before the Red Sox won the World Series, I’d get invested whenever they made the playoffs, because I can’t resist an underdog narrative, but that’s about it.)
But between the Super Bowl brouhaha and the relentlessly addictive Olympics broadcasts, I’ve been watching a lot of sports and sports commentary in 2010. And as hard as it is to resist getting sucked into one of those soft-focus tinkly-piano Olympic …
Feb 9, 2010
Want to hear something funny? When I sat down to watch the game on Sunday I thought, maybe this year the ads won’t be so bad for women. Maybe this year will mark a sea change.
[insert hysterical laughter here]
I’ve said plenty already about the Super Bowl’s sexual culture in general, and about the Focus on the Family/Tim Tebow ad in specific, so I won’t be ranting about either here (though I have to say: WTF? Tim Tebow tackles his mom? That’s… somehow funny?) Instead, let’s …
Feb 1, 2010
By now, you’ve probably heard that there’s going to be a controversial ad aired during the Super Bowl. It’s an ad produced by the extreme right-wingers at Focus on the Family, and it features Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother, discouraging women from having abortions. What makes the ad particularly controversial is that it represents a stark departure from CBS and the Super Bowl’s previous policy of refusing all "issue advocacy" ads, notably, in recent years, several ads with politically progressive messages.
There are so many …
Jan 25, 2010
(Before we get into this week’s column, a note: I’ve been having fun playing around with formspring.me, a site where you can ask users anonymous questions. So, if there’s anything you’d like to ask me anonymously, from the silly to the severe, personal to policy, just click here to have at it, and I’ll be happy to answer.)
This week marked the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decison that made abortion legal in the U.S. (for at least some people. More on that …
Jan 11, 2010
I am not a sex worker. But if I were in DC or NYC or San Francisco, I could be arrested on suspicion of being one. (And yes, I do wear some… provocative outfits sometimes, but that’s not why.)
My longtime boyfriend and I broke up this summer. Once the dust had settled, and I began to brace myself for going back out into the dating scene, I bought myself a little present to help – a cute red vinyl condom case.
As soon as that case came, …
Jan 4, 2010
I’m going to sound old for a moment. I promise it’s in service of something good, so bear with me, OK? Here goes:
I am so thankful that I grew up before the widespread use of the internet, blogs and online social networking. (Heck, I didn’t even have email until college. Yes, I’m really that old.) You know why? Because when I grew up and started trying to be taken seriously as a professional, there was no digital trail of my youth to hold me back. And I assure …
Dec 14, 2009
A study out of University of Minnesota this week reveals the truth that neither Hollywood nor the Religious Right want you to know: casual sex won’t damage you emotionally. Not even if you’re a girl!
The researchers interviewed over 1300 sexually active young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 about their last sexual encounter, and then assessed their emotional wellbeing. Guess what? The 20% who last got it on with a casual partner were no more emotionally damaged than the 80% who had most recently played …
Nov 30, 2009
In her essay for Yes Means Yes, Latoya Peterson wrote powerfully about "The Not-Rape Epidemic" – the thousand ways men sexually violate women every day that don’t rise to the legal definition of "rape." This week, one young woman took a stand against "not rape" that just might work.
This past Tuesday, news broke that three lacrosse players at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut had been accused of conspiracy to sexually assault the girlfriend of one of the accused players. As details emerged, it became clear …
Nov 24, 2009
It’s that time of year, and I, for one, am glad. It’s easy, when you do this kind of work, to get mired in all the horrible things that need to change, like, two decades ago, and to miss out on the fact that we’ve actually got a lot to celebrate. Here, in no particular order are a few of the things that are making my gratitude list this year:
-I’m thankful that Emma Thompson responded to the petitions of feminists and withdrew her name from the list of …
Nov 16, 2009
So. The day has finally come. And gone. Levi Johnston, infamous babydaddy to Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol, posed for his much-hyped Playgirl shoot last Thursday. And I have some questions. And none of them are about size.
1) What if the roles were reversed? What if Palin had a son who impregnated his girlfriend? And what if, after the election and the birth, she decided to pose for Playboy. What would we be saying about her? Would she be getting puff pieces in Vanity Fair? Would she be …
Nov 9, 2009
Ever since that hideous day in February when we learned that Chris Brown had beaten Rihanna, I’ve had serious misgivings about expecting Rihanna to represent anything other than herself – one young woman struggling, under extraordinary circumstances, to deal with the all-too-ordinary experience of being a woman who’s been beaten by a man she loved.
After all, while Rihanna may have signed up to be a celebrity, she certainly never signed up to be the poster child for survivors of dating violence. Nor was it her actions that led …
Nov 2, 2009
It pains me that I have to say this. That it’s not so obvious it can remain unspoken.
By now, a lot had been written about the gang rape of of a 15 year-old girl outside a high school dance in California. And a lot of people seem to want to write off the fact that as many as 20 people watched or participated in the brutal, 2-hour assault as just the latest example of the bystander effect.
Now, the bystander effect is real. What it means is that …
Oct 26, 2009
I know this is supposed to be a pop-culture column, but I’ve got to talk about a story from real life instead this week.
I’ve been traveling a lot recently, talking with college students across the country about Yes Means Yes and how to create a sexual culture that’s genuinely pro-pleasure and anti-rape. I love doing this – I learn so much everywhere I go, and I get to experience first-hand something I want all of you to know: we’re not alone. If the schools I visit are any …
Oct 13, 2009
An affluent man does a big favor for the au pair employed by one of his neighbors – he replaces a ruined dress for her, a favor big enough to save her from being fired. As she’s expressing her gratitude, he suggests they celebrate together – alone. She politely declines his advance, being sure to mention her boyfriend. He leaves, but returns a couple of hours later, drunk. He insists that, in return for all his trouble in getting the replacement, she "owes" him at least to try it …
Sep 28, 2009
It started two weeks ago.
Don’t get me wrong – I was sold on Glee from the moment I first heard those acapella strains of Don’t Stop Believin’ in the promo spots for the premiere this Spring. Musical theater + camp aesthetic + high school + Journey = The Key to Jaclyn’s Heart. There was never any doubt that I would love this show.
But I had no idea how much I would love the show’s sexual politics. This is a show – a hit show, no less, picked …
Sep 21, 2009
You’ve probably heard that a woman at Hofstra University accused a group of men of raping her, and then, a few days later, recanted her accusation. I’m not going to repeat the things people are saying about this young woman. Suffice it to say they’re not kind.
For my part, my heart sank when I heard she’d recanted. I felt worry for everyone involved, and I also knew that anytime someone appears to have lied about a rape accusation, it’s used forever to discredit any woman who dares to …
Sep 14, 2009
Sometimes, something happens that’s so messed up even a professional talker like myself doesn’t know where to start. This is one of those times (via Jezebel):
The women were filmed at all hours of the day, in various states of undress. They were encouraged to wear bathing suits and dance provocatively for the cameras.
Sep 8, 2009
In 1981, when I was just 9 years old, I went on a diet.
I know this because I mentioned it in my diary. I don’t know what the diet involved – probably no sweets and no seconds, at the very least. I suspect it must have been my mother’s idea, but I also vaguely remember how adult it seemed, to be on a diet. It was something a grown woman would do, to make herself more appealing. Even the act of complaining about my diet felt cool and …
Aug 31, 2009
A lot has already been written about Caster Semenya, the 18-year-old track wunderkind from South Africa who smashed records in her bolt to victory in the 800 meters at the IAAF World Championships two weeks ago. Unfortunately, precious little of it has been about her athletic prowess, and far too much of it has been about the accusations that she’s "not really a woman" – accusations that have culminated in the IAAF forcing her to subject herself to profoundly invasive "gender testing."
Aug 24, 2009
Quick: what do Kourtney Kardashian and President Obama have in common? It’s not just their questionable fashion sense. No, both of them have recently been pressured out of choosing abortion before they could even properly consider it.
You may have heard that the young reality star is unexpectedly pregnant. But did you know why she’s decided to have the baby? "My doctor told me there is nothing you will ever regret about having the baby, but he was like, ‘You may regret not having the baby.’" reported Kardashian to …
Aug 17, 2009
We don’t know each other, and it’s probably none of my business, but I can’t help wondering how confused you must feel right now. For the third time in a little over a year, half the world is treating you like you killed a puppy on live television, and the other half is defending your honor like you are their personal saint. I suspect you and I both know that neither perspective is particularly tethered to reality.
You’re 16. It’s a confusing age for all of us.
Aug 12, 2009
Welcome to the world of Yes Means Yes!
I’m honored to be writing a weekly column for Amplify starting today. Just like I did in my anthology Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, I’ll be using this space to connect the dots between the diseased attitudes we have toward female sexuality, and the ways rape is allowed to function and flourish. The title is inspired by the idea that "no means no" is not enough – until women are equally free …