Can the Word ‘Slut’ Be Reclaimed?

In a recent interview with Racked, Karley Sciortino, the blogger behind Slutever and’s “Breathless” sex and relationships columnist — the closest thing we have to Sex and the City‘s Carrie Bradshaw IRL — explained that the word “slut” is something she’s trying to reclaim. “I like the idea of saying the word ‘slut’,” she said. “I recently tweeted that I’m redefining slut now to mean a sexually successful female… We need more slutty role models.” For Sciortino, we live in a sex-negative society, and her use of the word slut, in her blog and in her sex writing, is an attempt to take away all the silly, society-based shame around sexuality. … Read More

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Christian Values vs. Christian Grey: Behind the Anti-Porn ‘Fifty Shades’ Backlash

A healthy sex-positive feminist debate has swirled around Fifty Shades of Grey in the years between the book and the movie. Harmless fantasy or trove of harmful tropes? Escape from capitalist patriarchy or reinforcer of the same, or both at once? Porn-world equalizer, poorly executed representation of the intricacies of the BDSM community, or fluffy mainstream crap? But beyond the world of “problematic” “tropes,” there’s more than one serious moral campaign gunning for both the book and film. In fact, the most intense backlash against the upcoming film comes from people who disapprove of it simply because it depicts sex, of the BDSM and premarital… Read More

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Jamie Dornan and Jimmy Fallon Save/Butcher ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ with Assorted Accents

Continuing our extensive and critical coverage of Fifty Shades of Grey and all things related, it seems only fitting to… Read More

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Literature as Religion: Alejandro Zambra’s ‘My Documents’

A few weeks ago, I changed a setting on my notation app. It now allows me to save all of my notes to a journal file, a long scroll of text that records each stray thought I enter into any device. This master file, I’ve been thinking lately, has become the document of my life, my soul, if you will. It’s a shitty version of a soul to have, but, along with what I write here and elsewhere, it’s also the best approximation of my self. And at least I can track and change it voluntarily.

“My father was a computer, my mother a typewriter,” Alejandro Zambra writes in My Documents, “I was a blank page, and now I am a book.” … Read More

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‘Into the Wild’ Author Jon Krakauer to Release Nonfiction Book About Campus Rape

The active negligence and hushing that often meets cases of on-campus sexual assault has been plunged into the spotlight over the last… Read More

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It’s “A Matter of Time” Until New Protests Explode: Author Michael Gould-Wartofsky on Occupy’s Past and Future

On a freezing Friday afternoon last week, New York’s Zuccotti Park was empty of anything except piles of dirty and frozen snow, a nondescript thoroughfare for cold tourists and bargain shoppers on their way to Century 21. Yet those of us who were regular visitors to the Occupy Wall Street encampment here in 2011 don’t even have to close our eyes to conjure up tents, a kitchen, signs, and hundreds of simultaneous debates happening on every street corner of Liberty Plaza. … Read More

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The Goddess of Patriarchal Workplace Exploitation: A Review of E.L. James’ ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

Fifty Shades of Grey is a fantasy e-book by author E. L. James. It tells the story of a British sex goddess who speaks through the body of an American student named Anastasia Steele. As a result of her possession by this goddess, Ms. Steele is afflicted with OCD, sociopathy, British  usage, occasional bursts of alliteration (“cold, clean, and clinical”), profound confusion over the usage of hyphens (“mega successful”), and uncontrollable sexual urges. Over the course of the novel, the goddess who inhabits Anastasia Steele will attempt, repeatedly, to push her frame beyond its earthly limits, sometimes through BDSM sex. The book is a surrealist, psychologically disorienting fantasia, so don’t worry if you miss certain telltale signs in the opening pages. … Read More

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Filthy, Squalid, Genius: Why It’s ‘Hard to Be a God’

Now in limited release, the science-fiction-fantasy feature Hard to Be a God is a carnival of human detritus — spiritual, physical, moral, political — unlike anything ever committed to film. The lifelong project of Aleksei German, who passed away in 2013, Hard to Be a God was completed by the director’s family (it apparently only required a bit of post-production work.) If you get the chance to see it in limited release, you should. Although, sooner or later, it will likely be screened more widely: it’s been a long time since we’ve seen a film this appetizingly poised at the interstice between genre-film, cult object, and auteur cinema. … Read More

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