Also.Also.Also: Nicki Minaj’s Retro Feminism and Other Stories We Missed This Week

Hello Autostraddle! It’s been an extremely busy week and as usual, we have done our absolute best to keep you in the loop. But just in case it wasn’t enough, here are some stories we missed this week.

The New York Times met with GLAAD and any other members of “the community” who cared to go last week to figure out just how the paper could be less transphobic. They definitely need someone to tell them how, but still, can’t anyone figure anything out for themselves? I’d rather spend my time on Transquat finding a gender-neutral bathroom.

TLC decided to feature a 29-year-old lesbian on “The Virgin Diaries”  last week. Watch for yourself, y’all.

In Michigan, a state-wide hunger strike happened Monday because gay rights activists wanted to bring attention to the state’s sad state of LGBT affairs. Did you know Rachel lives in Michigan? She does. And her mom sent her an article about how hard it is to make progress for gay families in the EU, which you might want to read. In Washington, DC two Republicans (SURPRISE!) are making a huge deal about the fact that servicemembers wore their uniforms in the city’s pride parade this year. In California (but now the Supreme Court), Prop 8 annoyingly refuses to die. On the Internet, racial abuse is being ignored and even justified.

In Vermont, Danielle Morantez was fired for coming out as bisexual. In Colorado, Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere’s engagement photo was used in a homophobic ad implying that gay families aren’t real families.

But in Missouri, a woman is recovering from a concussion and a horrific act of brutality following the night neighborhood kids dragged her out of her house and beat her. She says the children, all under 16, had been taunting her and her partner with anti-gay remarks for months. And in South Africa, a local lesbian is claiming security guards attacked her when they saw her kissing her girlfriend at a mall.

Senseless violence and moronic homophobia may seem out of place in this context, but it all makes sense once you realize someone runs the Facebook account for “Heterosexual Awareness Month.” I’m taking bets on whether or not it’s real/genuine/a satire but to be honest I have no idea.

Also, the Spice Girls are reuniting for the London Olympics. Maybe that will help us get over their sexist advertising and bizarre gender policing, and/or the fact that the women’s beach Volleyball team wore tee-shirts this year. (But hey, the Dutch Women’s Field Hockey team is super gay, so.)

While we’re on the subject of Girl Power, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd has a lot of feelings about Nicki Minaj’s 90’s brand of feminism this week on Alternet:

Minaj truly can be a wonderful role model in the way she encourages embodying your own destiny. But this interview on Nightline , in which she forgoes naming herself a “feminist” in lieu of “girl power,” brought to light exactly what her feminism is about: the 1990s.

If you’ll recall, in the ’90s, the term “girl power” was invoked by the Spice Girls and other corporate entities to neuter the explicit feminism inherent in other music of the day—the in-your-face woman power of Yo Yo, the subversive energy of Bikini Kill, as two examples. “Girl power” feminism ushered in a convoluted feminism that gave birth to sentiments like “I am the female Weezy”: sex positivity was often framed as “if men can be promiscuous, so can I”; throwback glamour to the ’50s and ’60s was framed as countercultural, rather than retroactive. Minaj’s invocation of the term recalls that era. And while complex, complicated definitions of feminism are important to its progression—there is a point in which the water gets stale. We’ve heard it all before.

Meanwhile, fans of women rappers watch with dismay as the new crop repeats the male-centric cycle of dis-retort-repeat, rather than supporting one another.

I, however, mostly have feelings about her newest single / music video / anything.

But you know who in the world of female rap does not have a regressive agenda? Brittani Nichols, my friends. At least I hope so. I probably shouldn’t talk for her, you know?

If you want to burst with happiness and feel fuzzy, read this moving essay about what it takes to be an ally by Michael Denzel Smith in Ebony:

So, even in a space that was presumably safe to express same sex attraction, the man who approached me was still afraid his identity could cause him harm.

And we’re OK with that.

When I say “we,” I mean those who identify as heterosexual, and I say we’re OK with that because we do so little to alleviate those fears. Even those of us who claim to be progressives or allies fail at times to seriously account for the experiences of those members of the LGBT community we claim to care for. We spend time speculating people’s sexual orientation, only to co-opt, or dismiss as unimportant “coming out” stories. Some of us even make vicious jokes, suggesting it doesn’t matter because we don’t hate gays. And then we have the unmitigated nerve to wonder why more people are not open about their sexual identity.

This isn’t progress.

What is progress, though, is that Oxford finally lifted its weird, passe, gender-policing dress code. And in an act of Hacktivism that is historic for its own New Zealand, a website dedicated to opposing gay marriage was shut down by anonymous hackers. (Hacktivism is kind of my thing, only I have no clue how to do it.) Three teens collected 170,000 signatures demanding a female moderator for a political debate, something I never even noticed I’d never really seen.

And in Connecticut, a federal judge once again found DOMA unconstitutional.

In an average week, you win some and you lose some and then you raise 55,000 dollars. And then you watch 10 lady celebrities before they were famous – on video.

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. The Tina Fey bank commercial clip (in the “before they were famous” link) is basically a Liz Lemon flashback.

  2. Loved the article about being an ally! One thing though, I think you spelled the author’s name wrong. On the website his name is spelled Mychal Denzel Smith (although on the header it’s spelled the way you spelled it.)

  3. I’m glad I’m not the only one bothered by the face that the women’s beach volleyball team was wearing shirts

  4. That “Heterosexual awareness” page is most likely a troll page. Facebook is notorious for those. I’ve seen pages like “Men’s Rights” & “International Men’s Day”, mocking women’s rights, along with others mocking civil rights in general.

  5. “I don’t always understand women…”

    Oh girl. Who does? They’re very complicated human beings.

  6. “I’d say I’m actually new to the actual lesbian scene.” *RAINBOW FLAGS.*
    thank you, TLC.

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