Category Archives: Femtastic Women

New Year, New Column

2011 is over and luckily so is my account. Although I “enjoyed” online dating or at least enjoyed that I survived, and I certainly learned quite a bit, I’m happy to announce I’m broadening my Gapers Block column to include general life funness in addition to my dating fun time. Check out my 2012 Chicago Bucket list!

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Funny woman making fun of funny “women” things

The feminist gods smiled upon me when they threw Sarah Haskin’s “Target Women” series in my path one boring Monday afternoon at work. Two hours and 8 youtube videos later, I’m officially a fan of this funny lady and her series “Target Women.” The short videos mostly make fun of advertising aimed at women, everything from birth control to botox. If you are not feeling particularly productive today, check out the series.

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Awesome Young Feminist Questions Beyonce’s “Girls Run the World”

Besides being nonsensical Beyonce’s “Girls Run the World” is clearly not accurate. Women in fact do not run the world: less than 20% of heads of states are female. Apparently Beyonce’s version of “running the world” is owning the dance floor.

Boy don’t even try to touch this
Boy this beat is crazy
This is how they made me
Houston, Texas baby
This goes out to all my girls
That’s in the club rocking the latest
Who will buy it for themselves and get more money later

But I think no one critique it better than this amazing young feminist.

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Reminders from the Second Wave

Salon recently interviewed author Anne Roiphe about her journey as an artist. As a housewife in the 50’s Roiph channelled all her artistic energy into being a muse instead of being the artist.

Reading this article in combination with Friedan’s classic Feminine Mystique, has reminded me of the incredible privilege I have as a post-second wave feminist to realize my own dreams instead of merely supporting the artistic dreams of my husband. I think many young woman when thinking of the term feminist, forget why the term was created, they forget that a mere 50 years ago, women were restricted to the private world of the home.

This article is a great reminder to be thankful for all the struggle of second-wave feminists. Read the full article here.

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A feminist response to the not-married blame game

My roommate forwarded this Huff Post article to me recently and there is really nothing more to say other than “right on sister.”


“I know it’s my fault I’m not married. I know that in the future, if I don’t get married, it will be my fault as well. And thanks to the advancements made by the women in the generation above me, it’s my decision to make. Because staying in a bad relationship just because it is heading towards marriage is like putting a plastic bag over your head, and just letting in enough air that you can stay alive….

“But I grew up in a generation of women that literally never stopped hearing that marriage isn’t a fairy tale. We were fed statistics about divorce in the same way that the Baby Boomer generation was bombarded with ICBM figures. Daily, we were told that men were not Prince Charming, that they would not vanquish a dragon to save us, rescue us from a tower or even just fight their way through a double transfer on the subway to come kiss us goodnight. And so we learned how to expect literally nothing from a man. And do you know what happened because of that? We learned to let men treat us like crap. We came to believe that men were doing us a favor by settling down — because otherwise they would be out spraying the world of willing women with their abundant seed. We were taught to be grateful if a man showed interest in us, and we became fearful at all times that he would leave us once he did. Women of my generation are still the second-class citizens of fairy tales: only now, we don’t even have the chivalry or the ever-blooming roses to comfort us in our eternal boredom…

“All of the qualities we cultivate in ourselves from our first overachieving moments in elementary school to our graduation from the best universities in the nation — confidence in our physical appearance, the ability to support ourselves, our cultured and well-read minds, the sterling pedigree of our schooling, our taste for healthy debate with our peers (both men and women) — actually won’t help us to find an equal partner. What it will do is make an “equal” man feel insecure, and what he will do with that insecurity is label us as “crazy.” And crazy people aren’t to be taken seriously — they’re to be medicated, dosed, tamed like “Kate,” the eponymous shrew — and made into the perfect wife. In essence, in order to participate in the ritual custom of marriage, we have to become shadows of our best selves. So when you say to me, Tracy McMillan, that I have to work around a “man’s fear and insecurity in order to get married,” I say to you, why aren’t you telling me that I should be going out to look for the men who wants a woman like me? (They do exist; some of them are my friends.) Instead of being told I need to medicate my “craziness” to pander to a man’s itty-bitty oh-so-witty ego, I want a man who is every bit my match, and is not scared off by that. I want a man who appreciates that I enjoy sex. I want a man who loves that I can fire back a sassy comment like Katharine Hepburn on one of her lazy days…

“All that I’m trying to say, ladies, is stop trying to frighten me; make me feel empowered. Speak to me like I can make my own decisions, and don’t demean the difficulties I may be having finding a guy who I think is worth my time and energy. Marriage is a rapidly-changing institution. Let’s discuss how it can be molded to fit our rising status, rather than trying to jam ourselves into some outdated ideal.

Read the full article here

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To all my sister friends on International Women’s Day

A year ago, I celebrated International Women’s Day by starting this blog. I started the blog partially to be a platform of discussion for 3rd wave feminists in the city but mostly just to be an outlet for my feminist “rants” that were getting too lengthy for the 420 character limit of Facebook. But really looking back I think I was looking for a community.

Today my “sister friend”, a term we created to define a friendship in which one is comfortable talking to the other while using the restroom, sent me a chain message I had received twice before. This International Women’s Day, the message hit home.

The chain email, called “They Teach it at Stanford,” is about the connection between relationships and health. It boils down to this: “one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman, whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends.”

We know our girlfriends, moms and sisters are important, we know we feel better after exhaustively talking about life over a bottle of wine and now we know why.

“Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this “quality girlfriend time” helps us [women] to create more serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being…We [women] share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health…Failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking.”

As for men, right or wrong, women tend to be the givers, the listeners and the comforters in a relationship; we are conditioned that way. Men benefit from the comforting nature of women in a relationship. But women need that sense of support and community as well; they need their sister-friends.

I have no idea if this email is really about a lecturer at Stanford or even really if it is total bullshit. But I know that since there have been men, there have been groups of women talking about men, and in the process becoming better, healthier and more well-adjusted women. I know that female friendships are not only a blessing but also a requirement for a stable existence.

I have always been blessed in my life to be surrounded by the most beautiful and supportive women. And over the past year, I have realized that these amazing women are more than just friends, they are even more than sister-friends, they are my community and they are my home.

This International Women’s Day I am choosing not to focus on the continuing struggle of equality for women around the world- there are many fights still to be fought and, honestly, they can be exhausting. Instead today I just want to say thank you to all the women in my life, who have picked up my crying 3 a.m. calls, helped me edit term papers 2 hours before the deadline, laughed with me at Will Ferrell movies, listened to my rants, and who have loved me better than I could love myself. Thank you for being my home.

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Why Feminism is good for marriage

Before her death, Betty Friedan openly called herself a “bad-tempered bitch.” She was known for being abrasive, pig-headed and, well, acting “like a man.” In her generation and occasionally in the nostalgic discourse of American traditionalists, she is also known as the bitch who ruined marriage through her all-telling book “The Feminine Mystique.”

After the release of “The Feminine Mystique” revealed the unhappy condition of the majority of middle to upper class educated house wives, the world began to change. Women began to voice their discontent in the home, in the bedroom and in their lack-luster singular role as mothers.  The second wave began and women began to demand equality in marriage; they often lost this fight, and divorce became the surrender cry around America.


But Betty never thought of herself as anti-marriage. In fact she once said, her tombstone should read: “She helped make women feel better about being women and therefore better able to freely and fully love men”

Hallelujah sister.

Almost four decades after the release of her wave-creating book, America is still grappling with the role of marriage and divorce and often still looking for a ghost of a scapegoat.  But a new book by Stephanie Coontz, re-examines the role of “The Feminine Mystique” and Betty Friedan in the changing role of marriage in American society and looks to some other factors to the failure of marriage.

According to Coontz, marriage does not fail because women demanded to be equal and men disagreed; instead marriage often fails because both men and women want equal marriages but society denies them equality. In a society where two breadwinners are the norm, the nuclear family is often left to debate who will be the nurturer as well. When concessions from society aren’t made (think flexible work hours, day cares in workplaces, maternity leave for fathers), the family often breaks from the inflexibility.

Betty was right; happier women make happier marriages. But without some changes in our current social roles and norms, men aren’t the happiest they can be. Today’s crisis isn’t about bored housewives; it is about the pigeon-holed role of the man in society. What marriages needs in a third-wave of feminism or the first wave of meninism. It is time for men to take off the suit, tie and 60-hour work week and be allowed to be the fathers, husbands and friends they deserve to be.

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What every woman wants for Christmas: A Calendar of Sexually Empowered Biker Chicks!

What to get the girl (or guy) who has everything? A calendar of sexuallly empowed biker chicks of course! As an extra perk all the proceeds go to the Chicago Women’s Health Center.

The calendar called TyK, (aka Though you Knew), is running for its third year. The calendar’s goal is to “empower women by helping them regain ownership of their sexuality, in whatever form they choose to have it manifest.”  It features real bikers who are really sexy.

Buy your feministy friend on today!

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Radio: NPR tells her story from South Dakota to Africa

Having long ago decided that neither the Chicago Tribune nor the Sun Times are worthy of my 75 cents, I have become increasingly reliant on Chicago Public Radio and NPR to keep me informed of daily news  without a daily does of stabbings and shootings. What NPR does so brilliantly is balance the depressingly bad of the world with the beautifully good of everyday life and in general give news that is perfectly realistic.

NPR has succeeded again in presenting real life with it’s series “The Hidden World of Girls.” From Native American traditions in South Dakota to the first woman cheif of her African tribe, NPR shows a world of women more relatable than anything the RedEye could vomit out in black and white ink. Check out the growing archive of real women’s stories here:

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Her Story: Feminism and Teenage sexual rebellion in 1975

In 1975, Meg Wolitzer’s boyfriend wanted to go to third. Meg, as a feminist, revolutionist and most importantly as a teenager, thought this would be a the perfect act of pro-woman rebellion. She thought that until her 14 year old boyfriend crept down the stairs to committ their act of societal rebellion. With the creak of the steps, Meg knew she did not want to go to third which in 1975 is what Meg describes as a boy using a girl’s vagina as a puppet. In the end she did not go to third with her boyfriend, they broke up and Meg became an author, wife, mother and all star home run hitter.

(Listen to Meg’s story here:,%20Long%20Island%20circa%201975)

Meg told this story on the Moth,  a brilliant podcast of stories from authors, artists and other random folks all over the country. Although many of the Moth’s podcasts are delightful, inspiring and reflective, Meg’s is one of the best I have heard that so honestly reveals the workings of a young girl’s sexual mind, something that hasn’t changed much since 1975 although the bases may have changed drastically.

Teenagers desire to rebel against whatever is the social norm. As the social norm goes from “necking” to boob grabbing to oral sex, so does teenagers’ extremes. But an increase in the sexual ante, doesn’t mean all 8th graders giving blow jobs at the sock hops. As Meg’s story showed, teenagers will want to rebel but it they are instilled with enough self confidence, their desire to be true to themselves will overcome their desire to go to third.

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