At its core, Orphan Black is a classic sci-fi thriller. But unlike a lot of classic sci-fi, almost all of its primary characters are all women. They’re actually all sort-of the same woman: Tatiana Maslany plays a series of 10 clones. As the plot tensely unfolds, the show explores the grey area between nature and nurture. Can we control the development of our own personalities or are we just combinations of environmental variables? The choices of women with identical DNA but differing personalities drive the show’s action. Each of the clones, played by Maslany, perceives her world in a specific way, based on her personal backstory and temperament. It feels like a send-up of shows whose female characters are indistinguishable two-dimensional tropes: here are 10 literally identical women, yet the show’s writers and Maslany’s skills as an actress manage to render them each into unique and fascinating characters. The show’s main character, Sarah Manning, strangely subverts the Bechdel test by having constant conversations about life, love, and science with different versions of herself.
A comiXologist Recommends:
Coleman Engle recommends Lumberjanes #1
Lumberjanes is an awesome new series from BOOM! Studios’ new imprint BOOM! Box that showcases the tremendous talents of numerous up and coming women in the industry.
The story, written by Noelle Stevenson (gingerhaze) and Grace Ellis (ohheygrace) is about a small group of friends and their time at a summer camp for “hardcore lady types”. With this first issue we are introduced to the main members of The Roanoke Cabin: Mal, Molly, April, Ripley and Jo. Out late one night, they come across three-eyed foxes, a cryptic message and an agitated camp counselor…all in a day’s work! While the girls are off getting into trouble, magic and mystery flicker around the panels. It’ll be exciting to see what’s in store for them!
This comic looks rad! Yay comics.
What’s this? The trailer for the new season of Orange is the New Black?! Yes! Everybody freak out!
Once and for all: no bras were burned in the making of feminism. Read an excerpt from the new book Pranksters: Making Mischief in the Modern World that breaks down the bra-burning myth.
“I never saw a bra burn in my entire life,” says Roz Payne, who filmed the 1968 Miss America protests (pictured here). She adds, laughing, “It was probably a man who started that story.” Actually, the bra-burning urban legend can be traced to a young female reporter at the New York Post. Lindsy Van Gelder wrote an article that drew parallels between the Miss America protest and another contemporary form of mass resistance: draft-card burning. Her satirical article, “Bra Burners and Miss America,” backfired after its ironic tone was lost in translation. An annoyed Art Buchwald criticized the protestors in a syndicated column titled “Uptight Dissenters Go Too Far in Burning Their Brassieres.”
Continue reading this excerpt at BitchMedia.org.
Monica Jones is one of 350 arrests carried out by a group called Project ROSE (Reaching Out to the Sexually Exploited) since Phoenix police teamed up with the University of Arizona social work program to start the anti-prostitution initiative in 2011. Over two weekends each year, more than 100 police officers detain people whom they suspect are sex workers. Those people are then brought handcuffed to a church, where Project ROSE workers then offer them a choice: if they qualify, they can enroll in a diversion program offered by Catholic Charities. Or they can be prosecuted for prostitution-related charges and face jail time. They’re not allowed to consult with a lawyer before they decide to enroll in the program because, even though they’re in handcuffs and being threatened with prosecution, the detained individuals aren’t technically under arrest.
Project ROSE is a classic example of how efforts that claim to promote the welfare of women, particularly low-income women and others on the margins, serve to further criminalize them. In a piece originally written for Al-Jazeera America, investigative reporter Jordan Flaherty noted that Arizona dictates mandatory minimums and felony upgrades for sex work: People convicted for the first time serve 15 days in jail with no possibility of parole. On their fourth conviction, they’re hit an automatic felony and a minimum of 180 days in jail.
Continue reading about why trying to “rescue” sex workers by arresting them is a bad idea at Bitchmedia.org.
Writer Sarah Maria Medina on Ariel Gore:
Like many, people I discovered writer Ariel Gore when another mother handed me her beloved first edition ofThe Hip Mama Survival Guide. She said something like, “Here, you’ll need this.” And she was right. I needed someone to tell me what was really going on with the beautiful, ridiculous path of motherhood that I was about to embark upon. The book became my companion as my hair turned into a perpetual bird nest and my belly swelled until my clothes no longer fit. Hip Mama was raw and honest and by the end I felt like Ariel was a close friend. Her new memoir, The End of Eve, seals that friendship. In the book, Ariel writes in vulnerable detail, breaking through societal maternal roles to speak a painful truth.
In most tales of alien infiltration, the extraterrestrial life force arrives heavily armed: death rays, mysterious pods, killer black ooze, and the like. In unsetting and surreal sci-fi film Under the Skin, Scarlett Johansson arrives equipped only with a sexy female form, a winning damsel in distress routine, and a robotic desire to consume. Of course, she is a highly effective predator.
As the film moves along, it does not develop a plot so much as a fascinating feeling of underlying horror. Johansson’s character first appears on screen nude, in a white nothing-space with an unconscious woman. She spends a long while stripping the unconscious woman of her clothes, then puts them on and walks out into the world. Glazer could have made this an erotic moment—certainly, that’s what salivating Johansson fans are expecting—but instead it’s a bizarre, rote, incomprehensible sequence. Johansson’s alien is born into the world this way and we have no idea why or where she came from.
The central character has no “story”—no origin tale, no explicit motivations, no apparent inner life at all. This lack of exposition is refreshing. There are a dozen tropes for otherworldly female killers, but this film’s sensual alien is no succubus or siren. Instead, she is a sarlacc pit: all consuming and simply unknowable.
The Missouri legislature is pushing through yet another extreme, dangerous, completely non-medical bill to cut off women’s access to safe and legal abortion—and shame and hurt women who seek it out. Let’s be clear: This is about politics, not about women’s health.
HB 1613 is an extreme bill that forces women to endure a mandatory ultrasound and receive inaccurate medical information, as well as triples the state’s mandatory waiting period, senselessly forcing abortions later in pregnancy and putting women’s health at risk. It’s political intusion at its worst—and in the courts, bills like this one are a losing game.
Shocking facts, great outfits.
Mainstream media appears to suddenly have an appetite for polyamory. The typical image of relationships in pop culture is firmly grounded in monogamy: a myriad of movies, TV shows, and news stories hinge on the idea that the ideal relationship is one where two people are loving, exclusive partners. In recent years, I’ve been surprised to find stories about happy people in non-monogamous, non-dyad relationships popping up pretty frequently in major newspapers, magazines, and news sites.
Our culture’s ideas about what’s a “conventional” relationship has been expanding for decades in many ways: queer families have become more visible, people are more likely now than ever to live together now before marriage, and the age when people first get married has risen considerably. Younger people are approaching marriage and relationship structures as self-determined, flexible, and negotiable. As part of that shift, non-monogamy appears to have entered the public sphere as something we can casually discuss over breakfast. Suddenly polyamory trend pieces are everywhere. For example, since 2012, Slate has run 17 articles that address polyamory and Salon has run 38.
It helps that more people in open relationships are coming out and speaking up about their experiences. As coverage increases, reports on non-monogamy seem to be moving to a more positive place—one that dispels myths by encouraging polyamorous people at the center of the stories speak for themselves. However, thoughtlessly derisive comments still often seep into the reporting. At worst, that creates a tone of voyeurism when reporting on peoples’ personal, consensual relationship decisions. Non-monogamy is still being presented as a lifestyle on the fringes, but we all seem to be interested enough to keep reading about it.
Continue reading Erica Thomas’s media analysis of recent news coverage of non-monogamy at BitchMedia.org.