Is the Selling of Virginity a Feminist Act?

Directly following the Obamania surrounding the January 2009 presidential inauguration, U.S. news media began running stories about Natalie Dylan, the 22-year-old women’s studies graduate who decided, in the wake of completing a degree based on the refutation of patriarchal principles, to sell her virginity online to the highest bidder. While the media made much ado about the implications of Dylan as a failed “role model”—with much hand-wringing about the decline of civilized courtship, the encroaching tidal wave of raunch culture onto “good girl” suburbia, and the loss of old-fashioned values of purity and chastity—they failed to take seriously Dylan’s own narrative about this exchange. This essay asks: What does Dylan’s reading of selling her virginity offer to a feminist politics?
Mar 15, 2009 /

The Church Needs a New Confession: Pathetic-ness as Moral Failing

Overt evil is easy to discuss. It’s banal evil that is hard to acknowledge. And you can’t confess to a sin until that sin has been acknowledged. Churches spent the rest of the twentieth century acknowledging the sins of genocide. However, in her writings, Hannah Arendt, who witnessed the trials against the Nazis, wrote about how the Nazi war criminals resisted acknowledging that their boring, nine-to-five office jobs of record keeping or laboratory work on the use of chemicals in the gas chambers had actually been evil. In her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, Arendt chronicles the wartime activities and trial of German Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann, who claimed that he was only doing his bureaucratic job as a transportation logician.
Mar 15, 2009 /


1. I eat mud  when sun doesn't shine and eyes, mine like seas, busk heavy with the sadness of every season at winter. To cheer me up they use illumination therapy and […]
Mar 14, 2009 /

Issue № 2 | December 2008

This December, we hover on the edge of 2009, and in the United States of America, we stand before an uniquely historic inauguration of a new President. None of the articles in this issue directly address that particular imminent moment, but they do all address aspects of seasonal and non-seasonal changes.
Dec 14, 2008 /

Red-State Sex Refugee

In the November issue of the New Yorker, staff writer and New America Foundation Fellow, Margaret Talbot attempted to dispel some common misperceptions concerning evangelicals and sexuality. In her article Talbot queries the evangelical reaction to Bristol Palin's out-of-wedlock pregnancy only to discover that the dilemma endeared the Republican base (read: evangelicals) to Governor Palin even further. Turns out, evangelicals are hardly shocked to discover their kids are having sex, even the ones who've made a commitment to sexual abstinence before marriage. Unlike their Blue-State counterparts, however, evangelicals are unlikely to supply their young women with either contraception or abortion procedures. And further unlike their cultural nemeses, they do not balk at the challenge of welcoming a new life into their fold.
Dec 14, 2008 /

Reasoning Through the Season

It’s about that time again. Time for certain groups of people to make sure we all know whom we can thank for the Thanksgiving-to-New-Year’s orgy of shopping. I speak, of course of those ubiquitous buttons that remind us that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season!” On some level, I appreciate the message that I want to read into this little declaration: chill out, for God’s sake (literally, I suppose), and ditch this assumption that a kid was brought into the world on angel song and with the adoration of foreign kings, so that we could get a great deal on that sweater for Uncle Fred. Even better, take that assertion one step further, and drop out of the present-buying frenzy altogether. Instead, if you’re of the religious persuasion that celebrates the story of Jesus, spend the day with your family, have a nice meal together, invite someone who needs it to share your warmth and your food and your conversation. If the cheery little mark of identity is worn to convey that sort of message, well then, more power to its bearer.
Dec 13, 2008 /

Stadiums and Terrorism

The public's right to know or the public's right to be safe? Preserve civil liberties at all costs or err on the side of caution? These questions, honestly asked, are at the heart of debates over how best to preserve both our safety and our liberties in an age of terrorism and violence. Some time ago, an ideal test case for these questions played out here in Texas, where the Dallas Cowboys tried to fight requests (that entered the legal system and fast became demands) for public release of the plans for their new $650 million stadium in Arlington.
Dec 13, 2008 /

The Gravity of Divorce

A marriage certificate. “I do.” “I do.” It seems simple at the time, but of course it isn’t. And what happens in the meantime surely contributes to that inflated word count at the end. Years of talking to, at, past each other. The good, the bad, the miscommunicated. The beginning of the end: circumlocution, the talking around the problem, the denial that anything is wrong. The acknowledgement that things are very, very wrong. A flurry of words, pleas, begging. And finally: silence, and a legal process that stands in for resolution.
Dec 13, 2008 /

Would You Prefer Gay Marriage or No Marriage?

The vicious debates surrounding California’s Proposition 8 this election season again evoke the right-wing stranglehold on the discourse of (gay) marriage. The missing piece here, of course, is the somewhat-amorphous third group: those (gay and straight) who oppose gay marriage because it assimilates queer people into a problematic, sexist, patriarchal, classist, and homophobic institution. Perhaps in their efforts to avoid the stereotype of being “anti-family-values,” left-wing folks have failed to formally ask these questions: Why marriage at all? Why not work collectively to end marriage, or at least divorce marriage from the conferral of rights, for both queers and heterosexuals? If marriage tangibly institutionalizes the supremacy of heterosexual kinship structures, as Judith Butler has argued, why should anyone get married?
Dec 13, 2008 /

Is Mexico Headed for War?

Is Mexico heading for war?  If history repeats itself, Mexico will present a challenge for president-elect Barack Obama.  Mexico was at war in 1810 and in 1910, and a war in 2010 seems imminent if the country is not in fact already at war.  This time around, it seems the United States will have to do more than provide monetary aid to its neighbor.  This year alone has been one of the bloodiest for Mexico, with deaths surpassing the number of U.S. military casualties in Iraq since that war began.
Dec 13, 2008 /

My So-Called Asian Identity: Infinite Q&As

Sheila and Lauren Espineli are first-generation Filipino-Americans. In this regular column, "My So-Called Asian Identity," they will explore their racial identities growing up, living in different parts of the country and while traveling to different parts of the world.  They will also describe their experiences on a recent trip to the Philippines as well as reflect on the presence (or seeming lack thereof) of Filipino awareness in U.S. popular culture.
Dec 13, 2008 /

I Am Indignant! Prop. 8 Proves California To Be Even Crazier Than I Thought

Something happened in the first week of November this year that surprised me immensely. As we all know, the people of this nation turned out in unheard-of numbers and voted, thereby making their opinions known and actively taking part in the working of our government. While this fact is an encouraging one in itself, what shocked me is the number of people who used this precious opportunity to deliberately take certain rights away from their fellow citizens. Is that really what the democratic system is for?
Dec 13, 2008 /

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