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.
The Evolution of Black Masculinity Through Fashion
ll eyes were on Shayne Oliver as he stepped into a sweltering Bronx church in the heat of summer, 2000. The lanky teenager shuffled into the vestibule wearing a short white crop top, exposing his taut midriff. Blots of black skin poked through hand-tattered jeans that were so tight he had to cut them up and safety-pin them back together to get them on. Shayne’s outfit set him drastically apart from the men of the congregation, who wore boxy suits. He and his mother hadn’t even taken seats in a pew before the preacher started spewing a diatribe of venomous, homophobic remarks from the pulpit. It took a moment before Shayne realized the preacher was attacking him. “Basically, the pastor ran me out of the church,” he told me recently. “I stopped going after that.”
Shayne’s now 25 and the designer of menswear label Hood By Air, whose provocative styles—along with brands like Telfar and Third Floor—are carving out a new and empowering palette of masculinity for young black men to paint from. At Shayne’s shows, it’s not out of the ordinary to see his models stalk the runway in makeup and dresses. Their bellies are often exposed, and half the time you can’t tell whether they’re men or women. But far from sissiness, the looks exude the visceral power of a lineman crushing a quarterback, or two swords clashing in an action film. This time last year, at Shayne’s debut New York Fashion Week runway show, the scene was so thick I had to stand on my tiptoes to catch a glimpse of his powerful vision of androgynous modern menswear. With macho gangster rapper A$AP Rocky on the catwalk, and stars like Kanye West and Waka Flocka Flame in the crowd offering up their adulation, the show was the birth of a new epoch in the evolution of black masculinity.
There have been others who’ve pushed similar boundaries in the past. Before Kanye and A$AP, black artists like Sly and the Family Stone in the 60s and Cameo in the 80s wore gear that looked like it was straight out of the Folsom Street Fair. In the 90s, Tupac walked in a Versace fashion show in a flamboyant gold suit.
But one of the things that sets this new wave apart from what came before is that straight men like Kanye and Rocky have no problem recognizing that some of their looks might have originated in the gay community. This kind of inclusiveness and openness is one of the many elements that signifies a shift in the way black men comport themselves in an age when the old notions of machismo, which were burdened with the baggage of 400 years of slavery and Jim Crow, continue to be chipped away.
Let’s face it: the internet is a worse place for women.
Cry-Baby of the Year
Everyone in the world is turning into an entitled psychopath, which led to a massive surplus in the 2013 cry-baby market. It was a crowded field out there this year, and while it’s true that all of the contenders were infantile and pathetic, who was the biggest cry-baby of them all? We’ll let you decide.
We’ve compiled the ten cry-babies who received the most votes over the last year. Cast your vote for the worst of the worst at the bottom of the page to decide who will receive the Cry-Baby of the Year trophy pictured above.
The “Ultimate Women’s Expo” Taught Me While Men Still Ruled the World
A woman is a blank canvas; emphasis on blank. Her face, in its natural and undisturbed state, is a tragic waste of Sephoric potential. Her body, with its propensity to store what medical professionals refer to as “belly fat,” is rubelike in its inelegance. The love she feels for chocolate is rivaled only by the love she feels for her children (or, if she’s unfortunate enough to possess a cursed, non-functional uterus, the dog she purchased from a breeder on Craigslist). Her mind is a cloud of confusion; she knows not what she does, nor who she is. She has a job, but she wants a career. Ah, but what career does she want? She cannot say. She is a walking existential crisis, adrift on a sea of meaninglessness in which she will eventually drown. She is a cipher, placed on this Earth by her male Creator solely to purchase products and services. And what better place for her to do just that than…THE ULTIMATE WOMEN’S EXPO?!?
I am, in the interest of full disclosure, a woman. (If this shocking revelation offends you, feel free to stop reading this and cleanse your palate with a Hemingway short story or eight; I’ll understand.) But I am no ordinary woman. I am a woman who was, mere days ago, #blessed enough to attend the Ultimate Women’s Expo. This is my story. (NOTE: Story edited by a man.)
The Ultimate Women’s Expo literally puts women in boxes.
I arrived at the Los Angeles Convention Center at the unethically early hour of 10 AM on a Saturday, ready for my agency to be stripped away and replaced with heavily discounted leggings and reminders of my overwhelming unattractiveness.
What Kind of Person Goes to a Men’s Rights Rally?
On September 28, an international coalition of men’s rights groups converged in Toronto to discuss the topic of “Men and Boys in Crisis.”
Prior to the rally I didn’t know much about men’s rights activism, except that these groups have an established tradition of responding to writers with personal attacks, seen in creatively titled blog posts like “Jonathan Goldsbie: Head in the sand, talking out ass” and “Brad Casey wants to mind-rape our women!” It is because of blog posts like these,previous events like this, anti-feminist diatribes like this, and individual men’s rights supporters with a fondness for Nazi iconography that I had developed a skewed impression of who actually goes to their rallies. I expected to encounter an all-out hate group, when in actuality the men’s rights activists I spoke to held beliefs ranging from reasonable to downright oppressive and sprinkled with a dose of crazy.
Most attendees seemed motivated by a concern for the well-being of men, or a fear of women rooted in their own personal traumas. A surprising number of men at the rally came forward as victims of domestic violence. These men felt stung by misandry—they talked reasonably about the weakness of men’s support networks and the lack of sympathy that they experienced following abuse. Almost everyone at the rally expressed concern for things like the high suicide rate among males, boys falling behind in school, and a systemic bias against fathers in custody battles. Then again, some statistics used by the activists to bolster these issues were hard to swallow: “In 50 years the last bachelor’s degree will be issued to a male in this culture,” said Paul Elam of the organization A Voice for Men.
The MRAs who met in Toronto attribute all of these problems to a single threat—a radical feminist ideology that has taken hold of our institutions and is actively oppressing men, even if most people with power in these institutions are still men. Attila Vincer, who organized the rally to take place outside of Ontario’s legislature, didn’t know if Canada or Ontario had more female or male legislators (spoiler, it’s men). Of those we talked to, not a single person protesting knew what laws they wanted to see enacted.