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Can You Beat the Urge to Stray with One Freebie a Year?

August 1, 2013

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photo via flickr

“If I tell my child, ‘No pizza, no pizza, no pizza,’ what does he want more than anything Pizza!”

And so it is with her husband and sex, claims Russian pop star Masha Lopatova. She is married to Andrei Kirilenko, a basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets — and she has told him he can sleep with one woman a year, for one night only.

We like her reasoning: After all, the forbidden is always more desirable. And so far, it seems to be working: Kirilenko claims he hasn’t acted on the offer yet.

“If something isn’t allowed you, you want to get it,” he said. “But if it is allowed to you, you will not need it.”

But here’s the catch: The agreement is not reciprocal. So what happens, a decade into the marriage, if Lopatova suddenly experiences her urge to stray and is doubly frustrated because (a) she’s not allowed to and (b) her husband IS allowed to?

Also, what if Kirilenko sleeps with one woman one time and then wants the forbidden thing: to see that woman again — without waiting 365 days to do so?

What do you think: Can this sort of arrangement bolster monogamy and help a good marriage last longer? Or is it a recipe for disaster if the arrangement is so one-sided? Is it even possible to curb the urge to stray with a once-a-year freebie like this?

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Angelina Jolie’s Boobs

May 14, 2013

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photo via Flickr

Angelina Jolie wrote an op ed in the New York Times today about her decision to have a preventive double mastectomy in order to greatly reduce her risk of breast cancer, which she had an almost 90% chance of getting due to a “faulty” gene (BRCA1) which greatly predisposes carriers to the disease.

Her acting career — indeed her celebrity career — has often revolved and relied on her otherworldly beauty (which includes bodily proportions more akin to Barbie than the average woman). Case in point: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was basically a vehicle for her boobs. Her body has been a fantasy and jealousy maker for both men and women (and not just respectively speaking). And as is the case with any celebrity, but especially one who’s part of an elite power couple known for their physical beauty, her body has been something we feel we own in some way with our Us Weekly ogling.

Which is why this op ed comes as such a shocker. How could she willingly remove these money-making, awe-inspiring assets? Especially without consulting us? She’s taken away the essence of her identity!

Which of course she hasn’t. Jolie could have quietly undergone the procedure, gotten the reconstruction and moved on. But by going public, she’s teaching us several valuable lessons:

- Celebrities aren’t superhuman. Even though being filthy rich can often help with medical matters, celebrities are still just people made of cells that can be prone to illness and disease. They get old (try as they might to fight it) and they die, sometimes accidentally, sometimes prematurely, sometimes naturally. We won’t find double mastectomies featured in Us Weekly’s “Celebrities, They’re Just Like Us” column, but maybe we should.

- Boobs don’t make the woman. We are not defined by our body parts, no matter how much pop culture and porn insist we are. Breasts aren’t just for show — they’re for feeding our babies, for our own pleasure, and sometimes they’re for nothing and nobody. (What woman hasn’t wished them away during a jog or on a hot day or when walking past a bunch of construction workers?) A woman’s worth is comprised of so much more: her intellect, her personality, her accomplishments, her career, her family, her values. Just as “being a man” should not be defined by penis size. (For instance, most people are familiar with Jolie’s enhanced curvature in Tomb Raider, but few know that it was her work abroad on that movie that led her to become involved in important humanitarian causes around the world — priorities, people!).

- Speaking of priorities, we as a culture would do well to take breasts off their pedestal, be a little more mature and less ravenous about the accidental nip slip, and not require their gratuitous display in every rated R movie. It might result in women not hating their own boobs so much. It might result in less plastic surgery, especially of the elephantine variety. It might result in more respect for women, which ultimately translates into better pay, more power, and less sexism and violence against women. You know, the little things.

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An Interview with This Week’s “Modern Love” Writer, Laurie Sandell

April 3, 2013

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photo by Alexandra DeFurio

Our good friend, colleague, and fellow shameless Bachelor  fan, Laurie Sandell, is a successful freelance magazine writer (Marie Claire, New York, In Style), graphic memoirist (The Impostor’s Daughter), nonfiction book author (Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family) and coffee shop dweller (18th Street Coffee Shop in Santa Monica). This past weekend, her wonderful essay “How to Break Up with a Two Year Old” was the “Modern Love” column in the New York Times Styles section this past Sunday — her first Times piece! In it, she tells her story of how falling in love with a man, then falling in love with his little girl, then eventually having to break up with both of them ultimately convinced her that she wanted a baby no matter what, partner or no. Now 15 weeks pregnant, Laurie did us the honor of answering a few of our nosy questions about it all:

WHEN YOU LINKED TO YOUR ARTICLE ON FACEBOOK, you mentioned the “surprise” at the end — was this your coming out party to a lot of friends and acquaintances as a now single pregnant woman thanks to artificial insemination? 

Many of my friends had no idea I was pursuing this, and part of the surprise came from the fact that it happened so quickly–on the first try, in fact. It was definitely nerve-wracking to share this news in such a public venue–especially because I first submitted the piece when I was only six weeks pregnant and not yet out of the woods–but it’s been a wonderful experience, all around.

Have you just been bathing in the warm glow of praise and adoration all weekend? And what are people more impressed by: this being your first NY Times piece or this being your first pregnancy?

I have been amazed by the number of people who read the Times. I’ve written hundreds of cover stories for major national magazines over the years, and have never gotten close to this level of response. I think I’ve heard from everyone I’ve ever known, offering kudos, support and maternity clothes. I think my age factors into it, too; I’m 42, so a lot of friends and family assumed that I wasn’t going to have kids. I just wish I’d done this years ago. I first visited a fertility doc at the age of 37, but couldn’t pull the trigger. I felt like I was choosing between a husband OR a baby. Now that I’m pregnant, all the pressure has lifted. I feel just as confident about meeting someone as I did, before, but I don’t have to worry about the biological clock. And so many friends have rallied around me, I haven’t felt lonely for even a minute.

Any nay sayers about going this route? 

No one in my own life, but I did stumble across a neo-conservative website having a lively discussion about my piece and single motherhood in general. They tore my character to shreds.

What do you think are the cons of single parenthood?

It’s really hard to tell because my child isn’t here yet. But several of my closest friends are single moms, and they say that the hardest part (aside from the financial pressure and the exhaustion) is not having someone to share the milestones with. But I’ve always been incredibly social with a big group of friends, so it’s hard for me to believe that I’m going to feel that way.

What do you think are the pros? 

I have to admit, I love the idea of making the big decisions on my own, at least in the beginning. I’ve always been very independent and I think I would find it hard to negotiate big childcare decisions with another person, especially if our opinions differed. That said, I hope to integrate someone into my life someday, so I want to learn how to do that.

How do you hope this will affect your dating/love life? How do you think it will?

For one thing, I hope this takes the pressure off in general. As soon as you hit 35, you start hearing whispers about how your fertility is going downhill, and men hear those whispers, too. So it can be hard to find a guy to date who wants kids, but doesn’t feel pressured by the fact that you’re going to want them soon. I think it caused me to jump into a few relationships too quickly. Now I feel like I have the luxury of slowing down and really taking my time getting to know someone. I also feel like I’m going to be meet a better quality guy. True commitment-phobes will run for the hills!

In your Modern Love piece, you talk about how breaking up with your boyfriend was doubly painful because of your love for his baby daughter.  Can you offer any advice about dating someone with a young child? 

Oh, God. I would do EVERYTHING differently. For starters, I met his daughter right away. I would never do that again. The first three months are always a kind of honeymoon period; you don’t really know the person, you just think you do. So I would not allow anyone to meet my child, nor would I want to meet his, until we’d really gotten to know each other and knew that the relationship was serious. Leaving that little girl was absolutely heartbreaking for me, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was hard on her, too, though I was told by several psychologists I consulted that she was young enough that she wouldn’t be affected, and that it would be easier for her if I did not stay in her life.

Do you think it’s different when kids are older?

When kids are older, I think it’s even more important to tread carefully. I have good friends who are single mothers with older kids, and generally, they do not let anyone meet their kids until things get serious. Even then, they’ll sleep in separate bedrooms for more than a year when they’re at each others’ homes. It used to sound very extreme to me, but I totally get it now.

What’s the best/funniest/worst piece of advice (solicited or unsolicited) about parenthood you’ve received so far?

I just interviewed Sofia Vergara for a cover story for a women’s magazine, and she went on and on for about 15 minutes about buying a girdle after I give birth. She said that none of her friends in Columbia have the “pooch” that American women get, because they all run out and buy girdles. She said, “All of your organs fall down, like, ploop! And you have to hold them in.” It was pretty hilarious.

Finally, and most importantly, you do a lot of celebrity profiles which gives you access to a lot of star-studded events, so: what’s Sean from The Bachelor really like? 

Ha! I just met him. I was doing a story on Lisa Vanderpump from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and I got to go to the live taping of Dancing With the Stars. Of course, I only had eyes for Sean. He is so not my type–I have never been into blonde jocks–but in person, he is just this dreamy, musclebound manly man who looks like a gymnast. I am willing to make an exception for him and date a blonde jock; I am even willing to forgo sex before marriage, if that’s what it takes. But I’m not exactly the poster child for that in my condition.

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Top 10 Celebrity Sex Toy Endorsements

April 1, 2013

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You know how major celebrities like Brad Pitt and George Clooney stoop to appear in advertisements overseas — especially in Asia — on the promise that the ads never show in the U.S.? They shill for everything from cars to booze in ads that look impossibly fake because we are shielded from them.

Well, it turns out that the latest trend in secret international endorsement campaigns is sex toys!* Yes, some seriously A-list types have signed up to promote sex toys… but only overseas. In fact, many of the below campaigns appear only on foreign radio — in various foreign languages other than English — so there are no incriminating images to get forwarded around the Internet. The print and TV ads usually come with seriously restrictive “secrecy clauses” and huge potential damages rewards if the content makes it online.

Here are ten of our favorite super-secret celeb-sex toy couplings:

  1. Justin Bieber and the B-Bomb Vibrating Silicone Butt Plug in South Korea.
  2. Angelina Jolie and the Luna Beads Noir (post-birth kegel exercising with a Fifty Shades twist!) in China.
  3. Seth Rogen and the Heavenly Heart Vibrating Cock Ring in Lithuania.
  4. Katy Perry and the Sweet Cakes Cupcake Vibrator in Japan.
  5. Ben Affleck and the Happy Rabbit Vibrator in Estonia.
  6. Taylor Swift and the Rechargeable Lipstick Vibrator in Japan.
  7. Jennifer Lawrence and the Couture Strap-On Harness in the Czech Republic.
  8. Lindsay Lohan and the Under the Bed Restraint System in Turkey.
  9. Ashton Kutcher and the Bound to Please Nipple Clamps in Venezuela.
  10. Miley Cyrus and Liquid Silk Lube in Turkey.

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*Disclaimer: Yes, it’s April 1st. Happy April Fool’s!

 

 

 



Top 10 Lessons Learned from The Bachelor, Season 17, “The Return of Sean’s Abs”

March 12, 2013

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  1. Never be a narc. It won’t get you laid or married. Ever. (We’re talking to you, Kacie.)
  2. If you want your music career to go nowhere, get booked on The Bachelor (even more effective if the couple you’re supposed to perform for breaks up before you strum your first note).
  3. If you’re going to an amusement park for a date, wear sensible shoes and an outfit with a sensible hemline, ESPECIALLY if your date is basically wearing gym shorts.
  4. “Accidentally” pooping your pants might actually be an effective way to garner sympathy and attention from a man (or at least Sean). For example, after the faux stairway spill and the fabricated baby breakdown in the club hallway, we were surprised this wasn’t one of Tierra’s later tactics. Future Bachelor contestants take note.
  5. The volleyball competition will now become the obligatory group date for every future season of The Bachelor. (Let us pray the same can be said for every future season of The Bachelorette.)
  6. Missing an appendage does not automatically make you an interesting person. (On that note, another tangential lesson learned: Just because you don’t have an elbow doesn’t mean you can get out of wearing elbow pads at the roller derby.)
  7. If you ever want to be truly, deeply loved, never talk about your inner “sparkle” to anyone. In fact, it’s probably best if you forget about your sparkle all together.
  8. Eating bugs is a great way to show a guy you like that you will put ANYTHING in your mouth.
  9. Don’t judge a book by its cover.* Who would have guessed that Sean’s last girlfriend was black, or that he, the life-long Texan and conservative born-again virgin, would end up picking the feisty part-Filipino tattooed vegan from Seattle? (*Of course, this lesson does not apply to situations in which the “book” in question is a contestant  on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. In those cases, judge away!)
  10. Bachelors who chose temporary abstinence are bad for the ABC show’s brand. This season treated Sean’s recent choice of celibacy like a secret teddy bear collection, acting like it didn’t exist, instead giving lots of sexy airtime to Sean’s special relationship with his bar of soap in the shower. And while we’re all for a little equal opportunity objectification (you know, just to help balance the scales a bit), we also would have liked a little more attention paid to the fact that a grown man with amazing abs and a gleaming smile actively decided to forgo casual sex. But oh no, that would waterdown The Bachelor mythology that all men have to have sex, that intercourse always happens in the fantasy suites, and that the power of the show alone miraculously turns these guys into faithful fiances overnight. We’re not saying abstinence is a choice everyone should make, or that some God should be dictating what you do or don’t do with your genitals, but being thoughtful and deliberate about your sex life, especially if you’re a straight guy in this society, is a nice change of pace from what’s usually presented on television when it comes to sexuality. Too bad ABC didn’t embrace it. Then again, this is The Bachelor we’re talking about — our expectations should be about as low as a pole at a Trinidadian limbo competition.

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Top 10 Breakup Songs Taylor Swift SHOULD Write

January 25, 2013

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 photo via WikiCommons

Taylor Swift cannot write a bad pop song. She apparently can’t write a song about anything other than breakups, either. While we are shameless Swifties, we’d definitely like to see her branch out more — if not to different subject matter, then at least to some more honest, less PG-13 tales of heartbreak. Here are some examples of the kind of breakup songs we’d love to see on her next platinum album:

  1. “Should Have Said the Safeword”
  2. “I May Miss You But My Cervix Won’t (Jackhammer)”
  3. “Pee on Me? Shame on You”
  4. “GGG, OMG”
  5. “You’re Vanilla, I’m Kinky, I Love You, Farewell”
  6. “Don’t Leave Me Breathless (The Erotic Asphyxiation Song)”
  7. “My Ears Are Not a Steering Wheel”
  8. “I Didn’t Wet the Bed, Der (Get Some Sex Ed, Sir)”
  9. “Faked It Every Time”
  10. “Size Doesn’t Matter (But That Don’t Mean I Won’t Sing About It)”

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Top 15 Kinky Celebrities

December 19, 2012

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Of course celebrities like to get kinky — why would they do it vanilla style when they can don an outfit, get into character, and make a scene? And in the bedroom, there’s always an appreciative audience, (and, one would hope, no bad reviews). When you think about it, it’s just surprising more of them aren’t outed as kinky f-ers. Here are our 15 favorite kinky celebs.

1. Rihanna

This is a woman who is completely comfortable talking about sex — when naked cellphone images of her were leaked online, she said she felt bad for any guy whose girlfriend didn’t send him nude pics. And she once said, “I think I’m a bit masochistic … I love to be tied up and spanked. I like to be whipped … But I prefer to be spontaneous. Using whips and chains is too planned … you have to stop and look for the whip. I prefer them to use their hands.” Which we might believe — after all, we rave about the ease of spanking in our book, 150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink  — if she hadn’t been spotted exiting a Canadian sex toy shop with $1,000 worth of booty, including a riding crop… Own it, Rihanna!

2. Eva Longoria

“I’m not averse to being tied up with silk scarves,” Eva Longoria once said. “I like a man to take charge. There’s something very sexy about being submissive.” (By the way, not to sound like party poopers, but silk scarves can tighten easily, cutting off circulation. Just as sexy — and way safer — are made-for-play silk cuffs like Lelo’s Boa Pleasure Ties.)

3. Nick Lachey

We have no idea how Nick gets down with his current wife, Vanessa Minnillo, but back when he was married to Jessica Simpson he got turned on wearing her shoes. “It was sort of a kinky thing we liked to get into,” he said. He’s also a huge fan of dirty talk. “I haven’t even realized my full dirty talk potential,” he said. “I think there’s some greater moments out there for me.” We like a man with a dream.

4. Carmen Electra

“A little pleasure, a little pain. It’s all about fun,” Carmen Electra said. “I love going to different sex shops… and collecting the coolest handcuffs and naughtiest lingerie. That’s exciting for me.” She also hinted that she has discovered a kinky use for wire coat hangers. Hey, we’re all for D.I.Y. kinky sex toys — there’s a whole entry on them in our book, 150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink — but wire coat hangers? The association with back-alley abortions isn’t the sexiest (or safest) thing we can think of!

5. Ricky Martin

When a journalist asked Ricky Martin to describe the last porn movie he’d watched, he said, “Uh, do you really want me to go there? [Yes.] Uh, okay, golden showers. I love giving the golden shower. I’ve done it before in the shower. It’s like so sexy, you know, the temperature of your body and the shower water is very different.” Hey, as long as it’s safe, sane, and consensual, no judgements, people! You can read more about kinks like this in our new book, 150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink.

6. Angelina Jolie

For a while there, Angelina Jolie was practically a spokesmodel for kinky sex — she even went so far as to say that S&M had changed her spiritually. And she was open about dabbling in knife and blood play during sex. (Both of which we consider serious edge play, a.k.a. too dangerous for you, sunshine! You can read more on both in 150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink.) Sadly for the kink community, she said, ”Since I’ve been with Brad, there’s no longer a place for …  S&M in my life.” There goes our Mr. and Mrs. Smith pegging fantasy.

7. John Mayer

He famously described ex Jessica Simpson as sexual napalm, but John Mayer seems to be the one bringing all the kink to the table: He apparently enjoys feathers, ice cubes, whipped cream, anal play, and water sports (if you believe everything Perez Hilton says!).

8. Margaret Cho

She might not be the biggest celebrity on this list, but she’s probably the most experienced when it comes to kink — or, at least, the one who’s most open about it. She called vibrators “fantastic inventions,” she’s so-so about group sex, she enjoys sex parties (but mostly for the buffet), and she’s a full-on kinkster who identifies as a bottom. Describing her song “Bottom to Top,” she said, “I thought I was changing. So I wrote this song about the experience of changing from a bottom into a top. I think it’s a beautiful song. There’s never been a song written about that particular experience. I want to write love songs like that, songs that fill in the gaps. But they need to be funny too. Except, I don’t think I actually am a top. That’s the heartbreak. I think I’m still a bottom.” And in a line that should have been featured in our book, 150 Shades of Play (damn it! we wish we’d found this earlier), she said, “I think kinky sex is normal. I think of BDSM as being just like anything else that you would do. It’s normal, it’s sex, it’s just your own form of it.” Sing it, sister!

9. Shia Labeouf

Just to prove that it’s not only actresses who like to be dominated: Shia Labeouf apparently likes to have his hair pulled during sex.

10. Christina Aguilera

It should come as no surprise to learn that Christina Aguilera is into role-playing! She’s also said that she loves dressing up for sex and has different costumes, depending on her mood. It should also come as no surprise to learn that Katy Perry shares the same kink. (“Spice up things in the bedroom by pretending to be French,” Russell Brand offered as a sex tip, back when he was married to Katy Perry.)

11. Tommy Lee

He’s an out-and-proud foot fetishist. He explained his interest by saying, ”My mother was Miss Greece in 1957. She’s gorgeous and she’s got beautiful toes. That’s one of the reasons I have a foot fetish today. When I was a kid I’d massage her feet.” Hey, the man knows from psychological imprinting! Fellow celebrity foot fetishists include Dita Von Teese (specifically, she enjoys having her feet worshipped) and Jack Black, who once told Playboy magazine, “They have to be clean. I’m not into, like, funky odors, but I do have a bit of a foot fetish, yes. I find myself staring at feet. I like a heel. If she’s wearing clogs, that does something for me. Flip-flops. Sandals. Bare feet are the best.”

12. Nicole Kidman

We’d have to say that Nicole Kidman’s number one kink is teasing: She told GQ magazine, “I’ve explored strange sexual fetish stuff, I’ve explored the mundane aspect of marriage, and monogamy.” And she described her marriage to Keith Urban as “raw” and “dangerous.” Way to leave everyone hanging!

13. Charlie Sheen

What hasn’t he tried? If the porn stars he sleeps with are to be believed, he’s into spanking, role play, and “really kinky stuff.” Winner, winner, kink for dinner!

14. Britney Spears

According to Star magazine (ha), her home contains a “fantasy room” featuring ticklers, whips, handcuffs, paddles, mirrored ceilings, and an entire rack of sexy costumes. Or maybe that’s just what all the dirty old men would like to think. We actually like the idea of Britney reigning supreme in her own Red Room of Pain — it makes us feel better about the head-shaving nervous breakdown. Drew Carey and Penn Jillette are also rumored to have their own outfitted dungeons, but, understandably, people are less like to gossip about theirs.

15. Lady Gaga

One thing’s for sure: She’s not afraid of appearing kinky. After all, she has performed in public wearing a see-through nun costume, complete with crosses over the nipples and a micro-mini skirt. And she was once interviewed peeing through her fishnet stockings at Berlin’s sex club the KitKat Club. Plus, she said she likes to leave her false eyelashes on her lovers’ pillows as a sort of kinky keepsake. Rumor has it she likes to dress up for sex, too — even occasionally donning a pair of fangs and encouraging her partner to bite her (you can read more about vampire sex in, yes, our book 150 Shades of Play). Whether or not the rumors are true, something tells us Lady Gaga doesn’t mind them.

150 Shades of Play: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink  is on sale now!



Top 10 Women Under 40 Who Push Back

December 5, 2012

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This article originally appeared on SundanceChannel.com

Inspired by the Sundance Channel’s docu-series PUSH GIRLS, about four outspoken young women in wheelchairs — AMC Networks just announced that they’ve started filming a second season — we decided to write about ten women under 40 who push back in their own way. To help us narrow down the list (and not totally lose our minds), we kept the list contemporary, which is why you won’t find Joan of Arc, Anne Frank, or Rosa Parks below. Even still, it was near impossible to choose just ten young women who embody empowerment. Who else should have been on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!

10. Esraa Abdel Fattah (33)
Most Americans can’t remember her name, let alone how to spell it, but as “Facebook Girl,” Esraa Abdel Fattah will go down in history. She is the online activist and blogger who helped organize and then live-blogged the 2011 protest in Tahrir Square in Egypt — a revolt which toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak. Abdel Fattah got her nickname back in 2008, when she started a Facebook group to support a textile workers’ strike and was subsequently jailed for two weeks. Her next step? She runs a non-profit which trains women to become political leaders, and she wants to run for parliament herself. So…what have you done with your Facebook account lately?

9. Beth Ditto (31)
Beth Ditto doesn’t give a shit about how record labels think female rock stars should look and act. She’s best known for singing with the indie rock band Gossip (their hit, “Standing in the Way of Control,” lambasted Republican opposition to same-sex marriage) — and also for refusing to wear deodorant, shave her legs, or starve herself into oblivion. The self-professed “fat dyke from Arkansas” is this generation’s riot grrl, and whether she’s dishing body image advice in a column for the Guardian newspaper or posing naked on the cover of N.M.E. magazine, she’s helping us all collectively recover from the car wreck that is Britney Spears.

8. Caster Semenya (21)
This South African runner won a gold medal in the women’s 800 meters at the 2009 World Championships, in the midst of a global controversy about her “gender verification tests.” After she won, she was subjected to an even more brutal trial-by-press; she was only 18 at the time. But her trial was our gain, as her struggle to be allowed to compete inspired a global discussion on gender, race, and feminism. Semenya — who says she’s been a tomboy her entire life — has since been cleared to compete and won silver medals at both the 2011 World Championships and the 2012 Summer Olympics, both in the 800 meters.

7. Kathryn Gray (11)
In 2011, a ten-year-old Canadian girl named Kathryn Gray became the youngest person in history to discover a supernova. A supernova is the explosion and death of stars millions of light years away (we didn’t know that — we had to Google it); Gray spotted this one by looking through her telescope and comparing the night sky to some images her father had taken earlier. Now that’s a show-and-tell project!

6. Maya Nussbaum (34)
Fourteen years ago, not long after she graduated college, Nussbaum founded a group called Girls Write Now; it has since grown into a massive volunteer-supported organization whose mission is ”to provide guidance, support, and opportunities for at-risk and underserved girls from New York City’s public high schools to develop their creative, independent voices, explore careers in professional writing, and learn how to make healthy school, career and life choices.” It was the first organization in the U.S. — and is still the only one on the East coast — to combine mentoring and writing instruction in an all-girl program.

5. Chelsea Clinton (32)
Those early teen years are rough on any girl with bad skin and a mediocre hair cut. But try living out those years in the White House, where your hairstyle is a national joke (not to mention your father’s extra-curriculars). Clinton rose above it all without seeming to act out once, and pretty much stayed out of the public eye until 2007, when she joined her mom’s campaign for president. She is now a correspondent for NBC news, while also getting a doctoral degree at the University of Oxford.

4. Venus Williams (31)
Williams was never subjected to gender testing like Caster Semenya, but she has suffered years of mean-girl talk about her “manly” looks and playing style. When Em was at Wimbledon a few years back to watch her play Maria Sharapova, the crowd erupted in wolf-whistles when Sharapova took off her jacket — and when Williams followed suit, one guy threw out a polite “Yeah!” Embarrassed British laughter rippled through the crowd. But Williams gets the last laugh: her 127 mph serve took women’s tennis to a new level — putting the power in empowerment — and in 2002 she became the first black woman player in the open era to become number one in the world.

3. Sandra Fluke (30)
We hesitated to include Fluke in this list — we feel a little bad that this Georgetown Law student will always be remembered as the woman Rush Limbaugh called a “slut.” But Fluke was not cowed by his attacks — in fact, she was ardent and articulate in her responses. After Limbaugh apologized (or, rather, “apologized”), Fluke went on The View to say, “I think any woman who has ever been called these types of names is [shocked] at first. But then I tried to see this for what it is, and I believe that what it is, is an attempt to silence me, to silence the millions of women and the men who support them who have been speaking out about this issue and conveying that contraception is an important healthcare need that they need to have met in an affordable, accessible way.”

2. Jessica Valenti (33)
Eight years ago, Valenti — then 25 — founded the blog Feministing.com to provide a platform for younger feminists. Her online activism inspired a new generation of feminists and kicked off an entire community of like-minded blogs; the Guardian newspaper said that she “dragged feminism into the 21st century.” Along the way — while she was spear-heading discussions on everything from gender identity to sexual assault — she was put through the ringer: she received rape and death threats and was the subject of a spiteful debate in the blogosphere about the size of her boobs. She is the author of three books, Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters; He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut…and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know; and The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women, which has been made into a documentary. Not a bad platform.

1. Rachel Maddow (39)
How is it possible that Maddow is not even forty yet?! We feel like serious under-achievers. Maddow is the only openly gay American to host a primetime news show — and it’s a kick-ass liberal politics show, naturally. She keeps her hair Flowbee short and wears as little makeup as the producers will let her get away with. This in an industry that basically requires every female personality to don 6-inch heels, blonde highlights and globs of glossy lipstick just to tell us what’s going on in Afghanistan. She doesn’t care what you think about how she looks, she never dumbs it down, and she’s always happy to dork out — in other words, she’s completely herself on air, which is a huge accomplishment, a huge push back against an industry not known for authenticity. We have a mad crush on Maddow: see also here, and here, and here.

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10 Reasons Why the First Marriage Still Rocks Our World

October 18, 2012

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photo via flickr

Three years ago, inspired by an article in the New York Times Magazine, we wrote a post about how we found the First Marriage both inspiring and a little chastening — let’s see you be President or First Lady and still rock hot monogamy like that. The marriage is also a little terrifying — how would we ever recover from an Obama divorce? We’d lose faith in the very institution of marriage! Three years on, despite being occasionally a little disappointed in Obama, we continue to be wowed by the First Marriage. Here’s a reminder of why. Please, Mr. and Mrs. Obama, hang in there, for us.

1. They don’t think it’s dorky to arrange date nights. (Since when did it become uncool to use the term “date night,” anyway? We’re standing by it proudly.) Speaking of date nights, he once upgraded dinner-and-a-movie to dinner-and-a-Broadway-show, which would be torture for most straight guys we know. And yes, we know that he had to skip their wedding anniversary for a Presidential Debate, but that’s not exactly deadbeat husband material (see #10 below) — and we’d bet on the fact that he rocked it the next night.

2. When they dance they still look as in love as if it were the first dance at their wedding — except that it’s newly-wed bliss mixed with the kind of wise, knowing, deep love that you get — if you’re truly lucky — after seventeen years of marriage and two kids.

3. Which is not to say that they’re above a little buddy-buddy fist-bumping.

4. They work out together and took up tennis together after moving into the White House. “He wins,” she said. “For now,” he added. Which we’re convinced improves their sex life. Whatever it is, you can tell they’re still hot for each other.

5. Also, they play Scrabble together.

6. During the the Group of 20 Summit in Pittsburgh, according to the Times article, “as they waited to greet a long, slow procession of foreign dignitaries and their spouses … the first lady whispered in her husband’s ear about things ‘that I probably shouldn’t repeat,’ he said.” Oh man, we so badly want to believe that was dirty talk! You know what? We’re just going to pretend it was.

7. They’re not afraid of a little PDA. Apparently friends visiting the White House will often turn a corner to find them mid-embrace. And they’re always kissing, touching, and flirting and public. Fortunately, theirs is not the kind of PDA that gives you the awkward heebie-jeebies (yes, we’re talking to you, the former Mr. & Mrs Gore).

8. They don’t try to act like their marriage is perfect — they openly admit to going through really tough times. The image of a flawless relationship is “the last thing that we want to project,” the first lady says. “It’s unfair to the institution of marriage, and it’s unfair for young people who are trying to build something, to project this perfection that doesn’t exist.” Someone give this woman an advice column!

9. They fell in love not just because they’re both smart and funny and ridiculously good-looking but because they get equally worked up about social injustice.

10. Finally, they understand that equality in a relationship doesn’t have to be calibrated on a second-by-second basis when you’re in it for the long haul together — equality might be measured over a period of years or even decades. Meaning, he may be President of the U.S.A. right now (there’s that Presidential Debate on their anniversary again!) but that title is neither permanent nor applicable at the breakfast table (or, we have a feeling, in the bedroom). Swoon.

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This post originally appeared on SundanceChannel.com



Olivia Wilde’s Vaginalogue

October 11, 2012

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photo via flickr

Olivia Wilde is one of those actresses we are completely familiar with (thanks Us Weekly!) without having a clue about her career. We’re assuming she plays exotic queens in far off lands from long, long ago whose beauty knights kill for? And apparently she was in some TV show? Suffice it to say, she’s no Meryl Streep—or Lena Dunham, for that matter. So we were surprised to hear that she dished some seriously deep thoughts about her vagina in a recent appearance. The event was “These Girls,” a night of monologues hosted by Glamour magazine at Joe’s Pub in New York City earlier this week. She told the audience (which included her current boyfriend, SNL’s Jason Sudeikis) that when her previous marriage ended, “I felt like my vagina died. Turned off. Lights out. … And you can lie to your relatives at Christmas dinner and tell them everything on the home front is just peachy. But you cannot lie to your vagina.”

In an interview with NY mag’s Vulture after the show, she elaborated, explaining that you need to listen to your vagina if you want to know if a relationship is right: “Sometimes your vagina dies. Then you know it’s time to go. There’s no reason to sacrifice your womanhood and femininity for some sort of weird feeling of responsibility to something that may not be right. I feel like far too many women do that. … [Men] are not allowed to be the only ones thinking with their genitals. We think with our pussies.”

She’s currently listening to her vagina and it’s telling her that she’s very happy with beau Jason Sudeikis:. “We have sex like Kenyan marathon runners,” she said. Buckets of sweat and zero body fat sounds kind of gross and unappealing, but we get where she was going with that.

So we’ve got to give mad props to Wilde for publicly promoting the idea that women want and need good sex, for admitting that we women do in fact all have vaginas, and for using the term unreservedly (yes, “vagina” is not a four-letter word, many thanks for not referring to it as a “va-jay-jay”). And we totally support the idea of getting out of a bad marriage if you are not happy or satisfied.

On the other hand, we do have to wonder if Wilde might just have been suffering the usual ebb of lust that naturally occurs in all long-term relationships. It’s easy to have marathon sex with someone you’ve been dating less than a year; much harder to sustain that with someone you’ve been married to for almost eight years — especially someone you married at the age of 19 before you had a chance to sow your wild oats (or should we say “Wilde” oats?), before your acting career totally took off and sent you to the epicenter of Hollywood glamour and celebrity. No wonder your vagina died in that youthful indiscretion of a marriage!

Now, we are not saying that all marriages have to last a life time — if you prefer serial marriages to simple serial monogamy, fine. If you try it once and realize it’s not for you, cool. But for any traditionalists out there, who believe in making a real go of the whole “til death do us part” thing, we would say the above justifies our long-standing advice:

  • Don’t get married young.
  • Play the field before you get married, safely and respectfully.
  • Don’t get married quickly, before you have a chance to figure out if you’re not only compatible sexually, but compatible after some of that new sexual passion fades.

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