Lena Dunham is selling her book for at least $1 million blergrumbleUGGGHHHHH

YOU GUYS. Lena Dunham is writing a book.

In case you don’t know, Ms. Dunham is the 26-year-old star and writer and director of a show called “Girls,” which is a melodramedey all about herself. And when she’s not busy reenacting her life (often naked) on camera, she is now writing a book of autobiographical essays that looks like an advice book but “isn’t an advice book,” which must be hipster code because I don’t know what the hell that means. Other than the book will include actual pages of her food diary and she muses about things like shopping and death. Mm-hmm.

“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told,” Delusional Dunham says about writing her book, “especially if that person is a woman.”

Ahem. Narcissism and feminism are VERY DIFFERENT THINGS. Continue reading

The best responses to Todd Akin’s ‘legitimate rape’ bullshit

Don’t you just love when politicians say they “misspoke”? Like, wouldn’t it be better just to say they had a stroke or were drinking?

For example, take this “misspoken” gem: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down,” said current rep in the U.S. Effing House of Representatives Todd Akin as he tried to defend his stance on abortion to a TV station. If I were his PR rep I’d blame the booze.

Akin’s suffered a lot of political setbacks in his Senate race since then––namely huge financial setbacks as GOP funders run away screaming, but dude’s digging in his heels, refusing to quit and instead offering some lame apology to the people (but none to Science, Biology, or FACTS).

Here are some of the best, definitely not misspoken responses since then:

President Obama: “Rape is rape. The idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me… We shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, the majority of whom are men, making healthcare decisions on behalf of women.” (Washington Post)

Wall Street Journal Editorial: “Mr. Akin has sunk his own ship.” (WSJ.com)

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.: “As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin’s comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong. There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking. Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin’s statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri.” (ABC)

A DOCTOR: “A further problem with proclamations like Akin’s, though, is what they sound like to women who have been raped. If you believe what he does, then anyone who did get pregnant wasn’t ‘legitimately’ raped. Moreover, it belies a willful ignorance of science. Rape has occurred in history time and time again. Women get pregnant from it. This is known. There is no debate to be had. (CNN)

Katie J.M. Baker: “For decades, conservatives have claimed that women can’t get pregnant from ‘legitimate’ rape thanks to their wise, all-knowing uteri, psychic ‘juices’ and Spidey Sense-like ‘secretions.’ (Hmm, if legislators can applaud our vaginas for being so omniscient, how come they can’t let us control them?)” (Jezebel’s “Official Guide to Legitimate Rape”)

“Akin” himself: “I am an evil, fucked-up man who should never have been elected to the United States Congress, and anyone who would vote for me is probably a pretty big fucking dumbshit, too.” (The Onion)


Happy Mother’s Day–to all my mothers

My mom, pretty on her wedding day, wearing a Victorian dress in a historic Victorian house in downtown Grand Rapids. I’m the little girl in front of her–no, I don’t know what’s wrong with my face.

A strange thing happens when you lose your mother at a young age: you try to find mothers the rest of your life.

And you do. However long-lasting or short-lived, you find female relatives, friends and coworkers and you take from them: wisdom, guidance, approval, hope.

I lost my mother when I was 11. In her absence, many have mothered me since then. And thanks to them, I’m doing pretty well. I went to college, I worked hard and I chose my friends carefully. I take today to offer my sincere gratitude to them, and I hope they’re proud of me.

I thank the great-aunt who took me in when I was miserable and 15. She gave me a place to live, guidance, confidence and a semblance of a normal teenage life.

I thank my youngest aunt, who, even at thirtysomething will always be 25 to me. I’m thankful for our long talks about life and love. And when she dishes out that wicked sense of humor, I’m reminded of my mom.

I thank my godmother, my aunt who was my mom’s best friend. She remains the closest portal to my mother and I know I can ask her anything about what my mom was like.

I thank my boyfriend’s mother for her support, her ceaseless sense of calm and her delightful humor. I think she and my mom would have been fast friends.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. A motherless daughter knows that all too well. Make sure to take the time to thank not just your mom today, but all those mom-like women in your life too.

Me with two aunts (and an ill-conceived nosering. We all did stupid things when we were 20, right?)

–By Tara Cavanaugh

Me Versus The Pill

Getting a really bad period can feel almost worse than this crazy fool yelling at you.

“I’m not going to pay for your birth control just so you can have sex.”

My dad said that to me when I was 22 years old and on birth control for the first time. I still remember the setting in perfect detail. He yelled it at me while on a family vacation with my mom, brother, aunt, uncle and cousins. And yes, they were all standing by.

Continue reading

Yes, we can love feminism and fashion too

First Lady Michelle Obama: the kind of powerful and stylish woman who, upon arriving at her Vogue photo shoot, told THEM what she was going to wear.

Feminists are hairy-legged man-haters, fashion fans are fad-obsessed idiots, and never shall the two see eye-to-eye. Right? Wrong! Here’s why.

Continue reading

Is domesticity just a little girl’s fantasy?

This music video says it is.

It opens with audio from an alarmist, 50s-era PSA: “Is the sweetheart you married the husband you expected him to be?” This little opener sets a (unnecessarily) critical lens on what you’re about to view in the rest of the video.

First: An overly makeuped girl in pearls sets a lavish dinner for a male mannequin in a suit. Scenes like these are interspersed with scenes of newbie singer Kimbra, grooving awkwardly and blankly in front of shelves of Victorian dolls. (Oddly, Kimbra, who hails from New Zealand, looks like a cross between Molly Ringwald and such dolls.)

And next, just to add another level of creepiness: There are two girls in the video, one who seems to “have” the mannequin man and another who jealously observes – while caring for a baby that may be his? I thought the two were the same actress, until I saw their clear height difference later on.

OK, so Captain Obvious says: Clearly there’s a problem with the whole cult-of-domesticity fantasy, because it results in an idiot girl hoping on an empty plastic man with a mistress. This idea is not new. But on another level: A perfectly modern young woman (Kembra) is saying “I want to settle down,” but all she can seem to think of is an idiot girl being cheated on by a plastic man.

We smart, sassy young women tend to believe that we don’t want to settle down, that there’s a danger in putting all of our hopes in a man – because a good father/husband may not even exist (as in, he only exists in plastic) or  he may turn out to be a baby-daddy cheater. There’s a fear there, a fear of putting your hopes on somebody and then watching all those hopes burn. The Victorian dolls end up in flames, by the way, at the end of the video (as if the statement needed more overstating.) As for the 50s-era housewife dream, we girls of 2011 are too smart to pin our hopes on it – and besides, many of us don’t even want it. Or so we say.

But: What if we do? What if we want to be full-time moms and wives? If we do, are we left with an empty fantasy? Kembra’s music video seems to be saying: Yes indeed. What do you think?

–By Tara Cavanaugh

P.S. Kembra must be fond of turning fifties dreams on their head, as she does in this danceable chick-anthem that uses the same two girls from the “Settle Down” video. The modern-day dance-club beats with a fifties-innocent chorus will also leave you somehow unsettled.

Style icon: The Myth of Marilyn

“I’ve never fooled anyone. I’ve let people fool themselves. They didn’t bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me. I wouldn’t argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn’t.”   ~Marilyn Monroe

The Woman

Marilyn Monroe was the original dumb blonde. She perfected the dumb blonde cum sexy siren routine long before Jessica Simpson confused tuna for chicken and Madonna donned her first cone bra. We’ve all seen those iconic images of Monroe standing over the subway grate in that white halter dress.

But tied up in the story of Marilyn is not only the tragedy involving the Kennedys and pills but also an ambitious girl named Norma Jean. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the woman from the myth or the actress from the role.

So why do I find Marilyn so fascinating? Why is she a legendary icon? It’s more than just her story, which is fascinating in and of itself. And while I occasionally enjoy watching one of her flicks, they’re not my favorites. I think it’s because she’s a curvy girl who knew how to work it to her advantage. (There’s some speculation that she would be considered fat by today’s standards, but no one can seem to arrive at a consensus.) Maybe it’s because, like Dolly Parton, I think she’s more than blond hair and boobs. Because she’s actually a smart girl who attracted the likes of both Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller. Because she managed to maintain her mystery and become a star that never fades. Because she’s eternally beautiful and in some ways she can be whoever you want her to be. Because she created and embodied a character so thoroughly, maybe even better than Lady Gaga’s dedication to her performance art. Because she’s both Marilyn and Norma Jean, vulnerability and strength. Because she embraced her raw sexuality and harnessed it as a power at a time when it was unacceptable for women to do so.

“Beneath the makeup and behind the smile I am just a girl who wishes for the world.”

The Style

Marilyn’s platinum coif and pouty red lips are so iconic that many have imitated but never duplicated. (Hear that, Madonna? Gwen?).

Pulling off Marilyn’s golden blonde tresses works best if you have shoulder length hair, but you can fake shorter hair with appropriate tucking and curling. Setting your hair with medium hot rollers is the best bet to achieving Marilyn curls. If you flip your hair forward and comb through a bit, you’ll achieve more volume and a more perfectly tousled look.

For makeup, you’ll want to balance the dramatic red lip with lighter eyes. Monroe’s eyes involved off-white on the lid with a light brown in the crease and on the outer lid for shaping and contouring. Personally, I like a little sparkle on my eyes, so I use a sheer gold instead an off-white. I recommend the Little Black Dress Palette from Lorac. You’ll also want to put on either two coats of black mascara or some false eyelashes.

For red lips, you want to try and stay away from orangey reds. I like glominerals gloLipstick in Vixen (appropriate, no?) for a good matte color, but you’ll want something that goes with your skin tone.

Although her pink dress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes became one of her signature looks, Marilyn stuck to neutrals in real life, such as white, beige and black (except for the occasional red). Pencil skirts with matching sweaters and feminine details (polka dots, bows) were a Marilyn essential. Also, strapless dresses and sweetheart necklines.

So where would you find some fab Marilyn-esque clothes?

Pinupgirlclothing.com features some figure-flattering dresses, even if they are a bit pricey.

Modcloth.com (a fave of mine) also stocks up on retro clothing and often features good sales.

Want a great modern example of how to effortlessly pull off Marilyn style and spunk without looking like you’re trying too hard? Rachel McAdams pulls off a stunningly slinky dress with minimal jewelry but plenty of sultry looks.

“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.”

Words of Wisdom from Lady Monroe

“I’m very definitely a woman and I enjoy it. ”

“I don’t mind being burdened with being glamorous and sexual. Beauty and femininity are ageless and can’t be contrived, and glamour, although the manufacturers won’t like this, cannot be manufactured. Not real glamour; it’s based on femininity.”

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.”

“All little girls should be told they are pretty, even if they aren’t.”

“I don’t mind living in a man’s world, as long as I can be a woman in it.”

“Beneath the makeup and behind the smile I am just a girl who wishes for the world.”

“If you’re gonna be two-faced at least make one of them pretty.”

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

More Marilyn

Other ideas on how to copy her style

Photos spanning her career

The debate on Marilyn’s shape

–By Lindsay Ray