The Ugly Misogyny at the Heart of Sally Rooney’s “Beautiful World”

SPOILERS! TRIGGER WARNING: abuse, sexual assault, misogyny, men’s violence against women, violent porn I fell in love with Sally Rooney’s fiction back in April 2019 when her second novel, Normal People, hit the shelves. I admired her astute psychological observations, rendered in prose that scraped away all pretense. Some readers felt it was an expertContinue reading “The Ugly Misogyny at the Heart of Sally Rooney’s “Beautiful World””

Feminist Literary Criticism: The First Hundred Years

Feminist literary theory posits that gender is socially constructed rather than biologically determined. For example, why in Western cultures do we associate pink with femininity and blue with masculinity? Why do we assume that men have an instinct to protect and defend while women have instincts to nurture and “mother” children (there is no biologicalContinue reading “Feminist Literary Criticism: The First Hundred Years”

How LITTLE WOMEN Saved Me

On my tenth Christmas, I peeled back the wrapping paper to find a book about the size of a dictionary. The cover was printed with the image of a living room. Around a piano, five white women stood singing in the light of a hurricane lamp. Their dresses could easily be mistaken for curtains. TheContinue reading “How LITTLE WOMEN Saved Me”

The Fetishization of Girlhood

I first realized that men look at girls as sexual objects on the day of my kindergarten graduation. Our teacher had set the theme as a Hawaiian luau (yes, cultural appropriation was all the rage in the 1980s). The girls had made skirts of green paper streamers to wear over our swimsuits as well asContinue reading “The Fetishization of Girlhood”

Misunderstanding Feminism

We need some nuance here. We need to talk about the distinction between systemic, socialized misogyny and individuals who simply annoy us. That white man in his sixties who constantly talks at me—is he assuming that he’s entitled to my attention because I look female? Or is he a socially anxious extrovert who can’t shutContinue reading “Misunderstanding Feminism”

Literary Journals Need a #MeToo Moment

Lately, I’ve been reading through elite literary journals, and I have to say I’m disappointed. Thanks to #MeToo, Hollywood had a reckoning, and now viewers and producers alike cringe at male characters pursuing women who have directly asked them to stop (Parks and Rec, The Office, all Star Trek before the exceptional Discovery, The Big Bang Theory, etc.).Continue reading “Literary Journals Need a #MeToo Moment”

Bergman’s Female Characters

When I first viewed Ingmar Bergman’s THE SEVENTH SEAL, I knew I had discovered one of my favorite filmmakers. Now, working my way through his oeuvre, I am deeply moved by the honesty of his female characters. The titular character in SUMMER WITH MONIKA (1953) is at first a high-spirited young woman (played by the sensuallyContinue reading “Bergman’s Female Characters”

Why “I’m Not a Rapist” Means Nothing

In Zen Buddhism, Ango is a three-month period of intensive study and practice. One aspect of Ango is that members of a Zen center study the precepts. These are guidelines for ethical conduct that have been passed on by ordained Buddhist priests across the millennia. My Zen center is headed by an ordained male priest,Continue reading “Why “I’m Not a Rapist” Means Nothing”

Breaking Open the Story

CONTAINS TRIGGERING CONTENT Over the next few months, I am going to tell my story of assault and healing. Here. On this blog. I have survived nine assaults by men, the first at age 12 and the last at age 31. All of my attackers were friends or family whom I loved, trusted, and caredContinue reading “Breaking Open the Story”

“I Am Not an Easy Man” – More Anthropology Than Art

“I Am Not an Easy Man” (Je Ne Suis Pas Un Homme Facile) is a film I shouldn’t like—but do. Netflix’s first commissioned French-language film, it dives into the easy laugh every time: a little boy cast as Snow White, a male waxing scene, and men strapping on silicone breasts as they march for gender equality. Uneasily shiftingContinue reading ““I Am Not an Easy Man” – More Anthropology Than Art”