Top 14 in 2014: Street Harassers, 21st Century Feminism, Hillary 2.0 and more

Depositphotos_36245911_xsWe’ve looked forward to 2015 with our collective predictions for the New Year. But there was some pretty awesome and insightful writing by TBS contributors in 2014, so as we are easing into the first week of January, enjoy a quick look back at the Top 14 essays of 2014! To read the full essays, just click on the headlines:

1. An Apology to Street Harassers, by Aliza Worthington

Dear Gentlemen,

Please accept my apologies for overreacting to your innocent attempts to “be friendly” and to your kind “encouragement” regarding my looks.

I respect your goals of introducing love and improving my self-esteem in, what is too often, a cold, hard-hearted world. Why can’t more men be like you? …

2. The Jezebelification of Feminism, by Liz Henry

There I was staring at Nicki Minaj’s ass on Google. I did this for a solid thirty minutes — contemplating respectability, sexuality, power, race. As I was doing this, I was thinking how creepy it felt, as a white woman, to gaze and theorize about a woman of color’s body in order to serve some kind of greater good for everybody else. As a feminist writer, this is what I’m expected to do now: explode moments and bodies into viral sensations as protest, activism and empowerment.

But I’m bored. Not by Nicki Minaj –a force of empowering contradictions, just like all of us. Feminism is having a moment, and I’d welcome it if I wasn’t burned out by a decade that’s seen the rise of the Jezebelification of feminism, which is to say a deluge of pop culture think pieces that are heavy on celebrity voyeurism as analysis and righteous anger as activism over Photoshop clicks, while sparing no keystroke to knock Lena Dunham down a peg for daring to turn herself into a cool girl when she’s obviously a frumpy nobody. …

3. The Tweets of a Girl Who Murdered Her BFF, by Jennifer Lee

I first heard about the murder of Skylar Neese in January when Shelia Eddy, 17-years-old, was sentenced in court to a life term in prison. I learned that the girls were on social networking sites and utilized Twitter almost daily. Shelia Eddy’s tweets (Rachel Shoaf’s Twitter account has been deleted) reminded me of a report issued by the Girls Scouts of America in 2011 about the positive and negative effects of reality TV shows on girls. Conclusions from the report were disturbing. Girls who watched reality TV expected bullying, “drama” and higher levels of aggression in their lives. They spent more time on their physical appearance than girls who didn’t watch reality TV shows and a majority of the girls studied felt that being mean to others enabled one to get what they wanted. …

4. “Lost in Living”: What Happened to Our Lives After Motherhood, by Mary Trunk

What job wields the most private power on the planet and yet has no public face? Motherhood, the world’s most demanding, least compensated job. Where only perfection is acceptable and failure is certain. And who are these women who become mothers even when their creative compulsion tells them not to? My documentary film Lost In Living focuses on that very issue — a documentary I was compelled to make after becoming a mother myself.

By recording my own life, I began to question what it means for other women to be living in these times. How were other mothers defining and shaping their lives as parents and as artists? I eventually found four women who not only represent some of my own struggles and achievements but have also showed me how the richness of their lives enriches their art. …

5. The Day Costco Thought I Was a Thief: A Lesson in “Privilege,” by Martha Teitelbaum

I’m a middle-aged, middle-class white-haired white woman. Although I’ve read about and even talked about white privilege, I’ve never experienced viscerally what it would mean to do without that automatic advantage. Today I got a little tiny taste.

By the time I got to the cashier, I was feeling a little tired – I had gone to five different stores, three of them for groceries (the health food store, the Asian market and then Costco), and it was finally getting to me. I paid, had my receipt ready to show the person Costco always has at the door checking receipts against what’s in your cart, and walked out the exit. …

A quiet young man came up to me and said he had to speak to me. I immediately suspected some kind of scam and said no and kept walking. Then he told me he was Costco security and he needed to take me back inside. I couldn’t figure out what was going on – I showed him the receipt, showed him the cart, invited him to check every item against the receipt, but he said no, I had to come to the office. When I got to the office, another man came up and said he was the assistant manager and an employee had reported they had seen me open a package of printer cartridges, pull out the individual cartridges and put them in my purse. …

6. Reese Witherspoon Can Get Lost in “Wild” Without Me, by Veronica Arreola

As countless women pack the theater to watch Reese Witherspoon (as Cheryl Strayed) hike her way to healing, I will be staying home. You would think that “Wild”, a movie of a woman losing her mother “too soon,” would be exactly where I should be with my buttered popcorn. You see, my mother died at the age of 47, when I was 28 years old and oh, yeah, six months pregnant with her first grandchild. That is why one would think the story of a young woman feeling lost after her mother’s death, drug addiction and ending of her marriage might pique my interest. Actually, though, I am jealous.

No, I do not wish my neighborhood drug dealer would have found me in my fragile state. I am happy to say that I survived my mother’s death because of my husband’s love. But as Strayed was left alone with her emotions and an empty backpack, I was saddled with a newborn baby. …

7. Amy Poehler’s Honest Relationship Advice: Maintenance Sex is OK, by Lisa Solod

Is “maintenance sex” any different than maintenance dish washing or yard mowing or watching the kids? Is it any different than maintenance listening or maintenance talking or maintenance going to the in-laws for Thanksgiving?

I don’t think so. Marriages and relationships take care and maintenance to make them work regardless of which aspect of a life together we’re talking about. …

8. Turning Your Female Reproductive Organs Into a Supreme Court Approved Corporation FAQs, by Deb Rox

So you want to incorporate your reproductive organs? Of course you do! Since it’s clear that corporations are respected more than women in the U.S, it’s the best way to go. You might have questions about how to ensure you are protected to the full extent of the law given recent Supreme Court rulings. Here are some helpful answers about corporations. …

9. Here’s a Word Time Magazine Could Ban, by Stacey Gill

The furor has finally died down over Time Magazine’s call to ban the word “feminist” from our vocabulary.

But if  TIME is going to insist on tossing perfectly good words from our lexicon, I have a better word for their suggested list of trite and irritating words to ban in 2015. Rather than “feminist,” which was added, TIME claimed, in a misguided attempt to discuss the word’s recent popularity among celebrities, how about banishing a more insidious and odious word like “bitch.” …

10. My Birthday Wish: For White People to Truly Understand What It Is to be Black in America, by Kim Cottrell

It is time for us to wake up when it comes to race in America.

But what does that really mean? I think some white people, me included some years ago, think it must mean giving something up? Well, yeah, but maybe not as much as you think. It might mean I have to take my turn in line for an apartment. It might mean I don’t get the spot in the Master’s program. It might mean I’m mixed in with others, and I become a person of color. Not separate from color.

Waking up definitely means voting for laws that are fair and equitable to every human.

Waking up definitely means being educated about the issues, being aware of the difficulties. To gain a better understanding of how someone with a different skin color gets through the day just like all the white dads I know. Here’s a story that’s a good place to start gaining that understanding about a black dad who worries about his kids. …

11. Happy Post-Feminist New Year: Here’s to a Girls’ 2015, by Anne Born

It’s about to be 2015 – decades after we burned bras and declared our equality and yet, old ingrained stereotype gender roles persist.

When you think of doctors, both male and female physicians will come to mind. In this field, women are as likely to be a doctor, dentist, specialist, hospital worker as any man. When I think nurse, I think female, regardless of how many Fockers movies Ben Stiller makes. And when I think of the people who “man” the reception areas in hospitals, it’s female again.

Valet parking my car to get into the hospital? Male.

Taking my keys, my money to pay for the parking? Again, male. …

12. Jeb and Hillary Sittin’ in a Tree, Not K-I-S-S-I-N-G, by Joanne Bamberger

Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton are only being as coy as they can get away with when it comes to whether they will or won’t announce any time soon their candidacies to run for president in 2016. Many commentators have been sounding the political “dynasty” alert since Hillary stepped down as Secretary of State and now they’re doubling down on that meme as Jeb has announced his “active” exploration of a White House run.

If we’re going to talk about dynasties, let’s admit that there are dynasties and then there are DYNASTIES. …

13. The Feminist Toy Box, by Rebekah Kuschmider

So, I ordered a set of Disney princess dress up clothes for my daughter.

I hesitated over the image on my phone screen for a while, wondering about the implications of a feminist mother purchasing princess gear – Disney princess gear, no less – for her daughter. I began justifying it all in my mind. My little girl loves dressing up. We already have dress up stuff for small fire fighters, police officers, astronauts, train conductors and what have you. She doesn’t know the stories yet and I can still imprint different ideas for what “princess” means on her. Right? RIGHT?

I finally ordered them because of one burning reason: I would have killed for dress up costumes like that when I was a kid. …

14. Society’s Bias Against Motherhood is Creating a New Problem With No Name, by Lisen Stromberg

When it comes to professional women and motherhood, Millenial women are are less optimistic than their Gen X sisters about who’s going to be expected to man the laboring oar of parenthood.

A recent report by the Harvard Business Review indicating that while only twenty-five percent of its Gen X female graduates expected to be focused on child-rearing, a full forty-two percent of its Millennial female graduates do. This follows a recent analysis of jobs data by Vanderbilt Law Professor Joni Hersch, who found only forty-five percent of women from elite schools who are mothers work full-time versus the nearly two-thirds of mothers from other universities who still do. Given all of the hype and media frenzy, one wonders, why aren’t these well-educated and presumably highly employable women “Leaning In”? …

What was your favorite at The Broad Side in 2014?

Image via Depositphotos

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