David Simon’s The Wire: A Study of Women

by Amanda Seybold

David Simon’s The Wire, which aired for five seasons on HBO from 2002 to 2008, is possibly one of the most probative and insightful shows that has ever graced the small screen.  While some would describe it as a show about police in Baltimore who investigate and apprehend drug dealers, the show actually presents thoughtful and in depth examinations of many aspects of urban life, which would otherwise be ignored by middle-class America.  Despite being outside the regular scope of the show, The Wire, perhaps intentionally, perhaps unintentionally, uses the juxtaposition of two female detectives, Detective Kima Greggs and Detective Beadie Russell, to illustrate a discourse on gender norms, racial implications, sexuality and motherhood.

At the end of her text No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women, Estelle Freedman takes a moment to reflect on the changes that have occurred in both the public and private sectors with regards to women’s issues.  She notes “[w]omen and men are demanding new social policies that allow them to choose both caring and breadwinning rather than choose between them.”[1] It is apparent from The Wire’s depiction of both Russell and Greggs, however, that the show is a bit behind the developments that Freedman lauds in her text.  Ultimately the show’s story arc stays with Greggs while Russell is relegated to a secondary position after just one season.   Greggs’ character seems to illustrate Simon’s argument that in order for a woman to succeed in the high energy and exciting world of crime fighting in Baltimore, she must essentially align herself more closely with traits we have come to regard as part of the male gender, rather than with the female. Continue reading

Is He Gay?

by Alexandria Linn

In the fantastic world of relationship self-help, a new dating guide emerged to once again help the lonely American woman land her “dream” guy. Using senseless and sarcastic humor, the markets itself as a guide for women who need to know if their potential suitors are “gay” (according to the author’s understanding of homosexual qualities). For those particular women who want to know how to distinguish between men of the homosexual persuasion, and those who embody all of the violent and neglectful tendencies of the “masculine” male, Ed Baker and Chris Busick have answered the call.

In their book entitled Is He Gay?[1] (for obvious reasons) the two self-help authors follow the story of a young, white and single female as she comes dangerously close to falling in love with a gay man. Despite the author’s attempt to scream commentary to her from the sidelines of the pages, she begins to fall for the homosexual male. Her relationship is sustained by her denial, though she eventually recognizes that the man she’s dating is attracted to other men and not to her.  In the end, the woman leaves the relationship with only small disappointments (fortunately, no deep wounds) and resolves that she still loves him “as a friend”[2].

The good news is that other straight women can steer clear of making the same mistake. By heeding the authors’ advice, one can avoid the queer pitfalls that may occur in the single girl’s dating arena. For those who are not familiar with all the heteronormative ideals of homosexuality, Is He Gay? points out all of the stereotypical tropes associated with “gayness.” The authors, do however attempt to acknowledge their gross generalizations, with a disclaimer at the end of the book that reassures the reader that their mocking was done so “all in good fun,” of course. Continue reading

Sarah Palin’s ‘feminism’

On November 23, Slate journalist Jessica Grouse wrote a scathing review about Sarah Palin’s new book America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag that had me seething in anger and frustration.


According Grouse, Palin devotes an entire chapter to dissing liberal feminists past and present. She insults Betty Friedan twice; says that Hillary Clinton seems “frozen in an attitude of 1960s-era bra-burning militancy”; calls Gloria Steinem out for saying that “no woman who believes abortion is wrong can call herself a feminist”; argues that today fewer women call themselves feminists because “somewhere along the line feminism went from being pro-woman to effectively anti-woman”; and repeats stereotypes of liberal feminists suggesting that they emphasize women as victims because they’re obsessed with rape and domestic violence and are disdainful of “the joys and fulfillment we find in motherhood.”

I haven’t read the book, and truth be told, I seriously doubt I will. But I have found myself obsessed with reading anything and everything that examines Sarah Palin’s views of feminism and feminist history and discusses the afore mentioned chapter. I’m also obsessed with this whole BloggingHeads.tv phenomenon, so I did a quick search to see what the BloggingHeads were saying about Palin’s feminism and happened upon a series that’s really quite good.

My favorite video features Michelle Goldberg and Rebecca Traister. You can watch that video called “Why Sarah Palin calls herself a feminist” on BloggingHeads.tv.  You can watch part two of that discussion here.

-Nydia Swaby


Sarah Lawrence grad wins contest, fights stereotypes

courtesy of Hyphen Magazine

Recent Sarah Lawrence graduate Kyle Chu, hailing from San Francisco, won the 2010 Mr. Hyphen contest, an event somewhat based on more traditional beauty pageants and the “signature” event of Hyphen Magazine. Chu discusses his drag performance to Queen, one of the many factors contributing his win. On choosing to do this performance, Chu explains that he wanted to use drag as a “queer tradition” to bring attention to the fact that gender is fluid and that there are a plurality of ways to be masculine. Chu’s $1,000 prize goes to his charity of choice, the Center for Asian American Media. Having interned at the Center, Chu also chose it based on his own encounters with racism, telling a hurtful personal story to illustrate how important these efforts to fight stereotypes and media misrepresentations are. To hear Chu’s far more eloquent explanations, please listen to the full NPR interview here.

— Kate Wadkins