I Love Wolf-Whistles and Catcalls, Am I a Bad Feminist?
Last summer I went to Ibiza, Spain, where I was catcalled, sexually objectified, and treated like a piece of meat by men the entire week. And it was absolutely awesome. It got to the point where I couldn’t even be bothered to follow any of it up. Every time some hot guy got fresh with me, I just thought, OK, I could fuck you, but there might be some even hotter stud serving it up later. I guess it’s like when I used to live by the sea and never got around to going swimming. It was just always there, you know? You forget to get wet.
So forgive me, looking around this misery we call London, England in March, for feeling a little sad that I’m not in Ibiza, Land of Sexual Objectification. I love catcalls. I love car toots. I love random men smiling “Hello beautiful!” like my mere presence just made their day. I like being called “princess” and ignoring them as I giggle inside. I like being eye-fucked on the escalator and wondering if I’ve just made him spring a boner. That eye-fuck, by the way, is an age-old mating signal. I live for it.
So yeah, I’m a bit of a slut. I also used to be a prostitute. And before that, well, a boy. Uh-huh. And I’m a total attention junkie. So I may not represent all women. Who does, though? I’m a feminist because I don’t like men telling me how to think or behave or experience the world and I don’t like women doing it, either. Laura Bates recently wrote an article for the Guardian called “Women Should Not Accept Street Harassment as ‘Just a Compliment.’” I truly admire the work Laura does with Everyday Sexism to highlight some horrendous abuse, and you should visit the site and check out some of the shit people have had to deal with. It’s awful. And she’s not wrong. No one should accept harassment. Harassment, by its very nature, is unacceptable. But is catcalling always harassment?
"80 percent of women who experienced mostly negative emotions still felt that abortion was the right choice for them."
—Debunking the Seven Most Common Lies About Abortion
Everything You Didn’t Know You Wanted to Know About Abortion
Founded in 2007, the Museum for Contraception and Abortion in Vienna, Austria, is world’s most thorough collection of all the different methods and objects humans have used to stop them producing other humans. Recently I was given a tour of the museum by Christian Fiala, an abortion provider who founded the museum (pictured, below left), and this is what he told me as we walked through the exhibits.
There is, of course, a backstory as to why I started working in this field [of abortion and contraception], which is considered a big taboo in Austria—even more so in the Alpine region of Tyrol, where they wouldn’t even rent out an apartment to my girlfriend and me because we weren’t married.
Back then, I had just started attending med school and was shocked to discover that loads of my colleagues didn’t know how to protect themselves from STDs and unwanted pregnancies, despite their professional education.
How to insert an old-timey pessary into the cervix
After spending a year in Thailand, where I saw women dying on a daily basis during failed self-induced abortions, I decided to take action. I wanted to help and support the victims and help educate their partners about the risks and possibilities—especially when the choice isn’t fatherhood.
Watch: Lady Cadets of Pakistan
For most women in Pakistan, a career in such a traditionally male-dominated field like soldiering is still a remote prospect. It’s also a tough slog, regardless of gender.
Atlanta: Strip City
Until last year, twerking was the reserved for strip clubs and the dark corners of YouTube. Now, it’s a word in your grandma’s vocabulary, thanks to Miley Cyrus dry-humping that old man’s leg at the VMAs and op-ed writers all over the world losing their collective shit.
In Atlanta: Strip City, we travel to Atlanta—the city whose strip clubs pioneered the booty clap back when Miley was still learning to walk. Host Jo Fuertes-Knight talks to the superstar strippers of ATL about how they feel about the music industry’s appropriation of their world. She also sits down for a consultation with a buttock implant doctor, tries out a “twerk-cercise” class, and investigates “stripping licenses,” which allow the state of Georgia to profit from the enduring popularity of watching women take their clothes off onstage.
With unique access to three of the city’s most notorious strip clubs, their best-known dancers, management, and loyal customers, Atlanta: Strip City explores what it’s really like to get naked and dance for money in the strip club capital of the world.
In December, the University of Michigan released the results of a survey that, among other things, asked Middle Easterners what style of dress was appropriate for women to wear in public. Participants were invited to choose between various styles of Muslim head coverings, like burqas, chadors, and niqabs. The results showed that people from conservative nations like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan generally favored the face-concealing niqab, while most Egyptians, Tunisians, Turks, and Iraqis preferred traditional hijabs, which cover the hair and leave the face exposed.
These results aren’t particularly surprising, and neither is the fact that Middle Eastern women and men largely shared the same preferences. Though some Westerners associate Muslim religious head coverings with the oppression of women, many Muslim women view the hijab—a blanket term used to denote any form of traditional head covering—as a source of empowerment. During the Arab Spring–inspired protests against Hosni Mubarak, some Egyptian women wore hijabs to protest a ban against headscarves on state television.
According to Shereen El Feki, a researcher and the author of Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World, many young Muslim women cover themselves to gain more independence from their parents. “They feel that their parents think these girls are good Muslim girls, therefore they don’t exercise as much vigilance and the girls get more latitude in their lives,” she told me. “They may get to travel, they may get to move around, and they have more mobility.”
Another common misconception about head coverings is that it is always worn as a statement of extreme religious modesty. “The women wearing hijab who I spoke to for my book have just as much sexual desire,” said Shereen. “Women put on hijab for a variety of reasons, not just to desexualize themselves.”
In Defense of Hairy Women: Searching for a Fair Standard of Beauty
My friend Kevin, who majored in philosophy at Berkeley and is now a civil rights lawyer, and who supports all sorts of good causes (economic equality, gun control, gay marriage, Palestinian statehood, shade-grown coffee), yelled at me the other day for setting him up with a woman who has the hint of a mustache. OK, more than a hint. Have you ever seen a photo of Frida Kahlo and been drawn lustfully, as I have, to her fabulous, thick eyebrows, those two dark arches flapping above her eyes like the outstretched wings of a raven? If you look closely at that photo, you’ll see two thin bands of gorgeous dark fuzz that seem to have been penciled in at 45-degree angles above each side of her upper lip. The woman I set Kevin up with, a beautiful and ferociously smart poet and translator named Jill, who graduated summa cum laude in comparative literature at a university Kevin was rejected from, and whom I dated years ago, has those same eyebrows, and that same dark fuzz, but in both cases a little darker and a little thicker.