“In 1986, Gloria Steinem wrote that if men got periods, they ‘would brag about how long and how much’: that boys would talk about their menstruation as the beginning of their manhood, that there would be ‘gifts, religious ceremonies’ and sanitary supplies would be ‘federally funded and free’. I could live without the menstrual bragging – though mine is particularly impressive – and ceremonial parties, but seriously: Why aren’t tampons free?”

jessicavalenti: We need to move beyond the stigma of “that time of the month” – women’s feminine hygiene products should be free for all, all the time.

Read more »

“Those boys took my body and they broke it. And so, when I ate, I got to make my body into what I wanted it to be, which is a fortress”

Roxane Gay, “the bad feminist”, is 39 now, and over the last 18 years she has published countless pieces of fiction and non-fiction, only to find herself described in recent months as an overnight sensation. This tickles her; she thinks of herself as a shy person, and when you praise her work, a self-conscious hand rises to cover her eyes and smile.

» Read the full interview 

Roxane Gay: meet the bad feminist

She likes pink, will dance to Blurred Lines, occasionally fakes an orgasm … and worries that the sisterhood would not approve. America’s brightest new essayist talks about the dark side of her fierce, funny writing 

Read the full interview • Extract: the bad feminist manifesto

Photo: Jennifer Silverberg for the Guardian

“Denying that women are a victimized class is simply wrong. What else would you call a segment of the population who are systematically discriminated against in school, work and politics? How would you describe a population whose bodies are objectified to the point of dehumanization? Women are harassed, attacked and sexually assaulted with alarming regularity in America and around the world, and now even more of them live in states where, if pregnant, they can be refused medical attention or arrested for refusing C-sections.

People who are on the shit end of oppression are oppressed. Accurately describing this is not a matter of politics, but of truth.”
Feminism makes women ‘victims’? I think you’ve mistaken us for the sexists, my latest at the Guardian (responding to #WomenAgainstFeminism)

Wonder Woman’s feminism matters. So why would the comic industry reject it? 

If feminism can be re-packaged to sell Sheryl Sandberg’s neoliberalism, feminism can remain one of Wonder Woman’s heroic traits – and a fight for what is just and fair and right. 

Read more here

Photo: Everett Collection / Rex

“I’m not the first to say that the best way to counter this sort of misogyny in the workplace – be it harassment of more serious cases of abuse – is to make companies more diverse. The presence of more women at the top won’t be a magic pill, but it’s at least a starting point for to de-escalating toxic behaviors against women and people of color that lead to brutal work environments.”
Jessica ValentiTinder’s sexual harassment scandal is not a surprise. It’s another wake-up call
“From boardrooms to the streets, women’s anxiety to keep our body mass as low as possible is based on legitimate fears that we will be punished if we attempt fully to enter patriarchal space. No wonder so many of us are starving.”
— In this exclusive extract from her new book, Laurie Penny talks about her eating disorder, the pressure on girls to be beautiful and why weight is a political issue. Read it here

Sandra Fluke heard it when she talked about insurance coverage for birth control. Sara Brown from Boston told me she was first called it at a pool party in the fifth grade because she was wearing a bikini. Courtney Caldwell in Dallas said she was tagged with it after being sexually assaulted as a freshman in high school.

Many women I asked even said that it was not having sex that inspired a young man to start rumors that they were one.

And this is what is so confounding about the word “slut”: it’s arguably the most ubiquitous slur used against women, and yet it’s nearly impossible to define.

“While street harassment is just one of many violations that American women endure, its prevalence is a clear message to women and men: there are no safe spaces for women. We need to be able to walk the street and simply be in public without fear. Not just for equality, but because, one day, I’d like my daughter to take the subway to school.”
Jessica Valenti: The end of hisses, whistles and stares: we need to walk the streets without fear
“Do we live in a society that’s simultaneously sex-obsessed and puritanical? Why, yes. Could the United States stand to work on some of these issues? Sure! It would be great if the virgin/whore dichotomy would just realize it’s drunk and go home.”
Jamie Peck: Scout Willis’s topless Instagram protest draws more eyeballs than action