The Mary Beard Effect: A Brief Review of ‘Women & Power’

Mary A. Pura | April 12, 2018
If you’ve been wandering through Blackwell’s and Waterstone’s lately, you’ve probably noticed the beautifully arranged and aesthetically pleasing displays featuring popular female authors. Partly inspired by a surge in public attention to the #MeToo Movement, there has been an outpouring of new and old literature addressing women’s equality. Amidst the heaping piles, you’ve likely caught sight of the shining silver and gold design adorning Mary Beard’s new publication, Women & Power: A Manifesto. Over the past twenty years, Beard has become a kind of celebrity academic. You may recall an incident back in 2012 consisting of public outrage towards the late AA Gill regarding his statement that Beard was “too ugly for television.” Her response placed her among the feminist gods:

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Romance novels: more than just a guilty pleasure

Lucy Hargrave | January 22, 2018
Has there ever been a more maligned genre than romance? Often romance novels are considered nothing more than a trashy beach read, something that should only be read while on holiday for light entertainment. They aren’t proper literature after all. Even avid romance readers will often refer to these books as their ‘guilty pleasures,’ thereby implying they shouldn’t be talked about, much less taken seriously. But what if we did take the romance genre seriously? If we strip away its reputation, what could be discovered about one of the most commercially successful genres in publishing history?

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Swipe left to patriarchy: BoJack Horseman and neoliberal feminism

Valentina Aparicio | January 22, 2018
Nowadays, for the sake of good PR, supporting diversity is a must for any company. At least on paper. However, while identity politics has fully entered the mainstream political discourse, attention to material inequality continues to be overlooked. Last week, Anahit Behrooz’s article criticised the way in which Hollywood stars have come out to support victims of sexual harassment in problematic ways, such as Connie Britton’s $380 sweater that read ‘poverty is sexist’. The truth is that in fact most of the fights of identity politics have been now co-opted by the immensely wealthy. Media corporations and tech giants continue to portray the rich as messiahs of social change, turning the economic success of one (coloured, female, LGBT) individual into proof of equality for the many, through a discourse Naomi Klein has termed ‘trickle down identity politics’. And while criticism against ‘white feminism’ proliferates in the humanities, much work is yet to be done regarding neoliberal pro-diversity feminisms.

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The Key Ingredient to the Comedy Cocktail

Christa M. Burgin | January 15, 2018
Empowerment can be conveyed in several forms. For many individuals, it thrusts and swings in the dance of music. For others, it cuts across paper in the rhythm of words. And for some, it ripples, and builds, and shakes through laughter. That is the calling of our comedians, for they have the ability to influence a vast number of people through media outlets, including Netflix specials, late-night television, and YouTube.

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Empty Words: The Politics of Performing Change

Anahit Behrouz | January 10, 2018
In an article for The Pool published the week before the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony, film critic Helen O’Hara questioned what a Hollywood awards ceremony would look like in a post-Weinstein world. O’Hara argued that although women only get 27% of the lines in the average Oscar-winning film, this year’s Golden Globes nominee list showed a progression towards a more equal awards ceremony, with numerous women and female-focused films up for consideration. As heartening as this may be, O’Hara did not delve into the question of how the mechanics of an awards ceremony in a post-Weinstein world would work, and what the optics would look like in an industry spending millions of dollars in self-congratulation during the same year that its ugly underbelly has been exposed.

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Please Leave the ‘Me’ Out of Your ‘Apology’

Mary A. Pura | November 22, 2017
In a speech given in 2004 at The University of Massachusetts Boston, the late Dr. Andrew Lazare, a leading authority on the psychology of shame, humiliation and apology, had this to say about the nature of apology:

“Apology is more than an acknowledgment of an offense together with an expression of remorse. It is an ongoing commitment by the offending party to change his or her behavior. It is a particular way of resolving conflicts other than by arguing over who is bigger and better.”

Unfortunately there has been a failure in our society to adopt this important formula, especially in the context of sexual harassment.

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Netflix’s Alias Grace and Female Testimony

Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | November 20, 2017
Netflix’s Alias Grace (2017) is the second series to be released this year based on one of Margaret Atwood’s novels. The six-part series is, like Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale (2017) before it, an unflinching depiction of women’s precarious position in society, through a defamiliarised, yet uncomfortably familiar, setting.

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Married but not a Mrs: Planning a Catholic Wedding as a Feminist

Harriet MacMillan | November 6, 2017
I first identified as a feminist in the playground at the age of 10. “I bet you’re a ‘feminist’,” sneered a male pursuer, his insult not quite hitting the mark as I replied “Yeah, so what?”. It made utter sense to me – from an early fascination with the Suffragettes to saving up tokens to buy my Usborne Book of Famous Women at the Scholastic Book Fair. Of course I was a feminist. My confidence in that identification only grew as my understanding of what feminism meant developed.

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Storytelling: Finding Humanity in Difference, and Difference as Humanity

Madison Pollack | November 6, 2017
The cartoonist Liana Finck recently published an article online called “Love Song,” where she worked through the issue of whether or not to post sketches about her relationship publically. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, Finck has garnered a following on Instagram by posting autobiographical cartoons of her interpretations of moments on the subway, in coffee shops, and, often, in love. In “Love Song,” Finck writes that her cartoons are her “way of taking my story back from strangers on the street—and men I’d met on dating apps—who saw me as a minor character, if they saw me at all.” Finck’s Instagram is not merely a view into the artist’s inner life: it is her desperate and universal plea to be recognized as having one at all. By giving her inner workings a public platform, Finck enables herself to reclaim subjecthood in a world that is constantly taking it away from her.

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