Podcasts

PODCAST: Is there such a thing as a ‘male brain’ or a ‘female brain?’

Feminists have long argued against the notion of innate ‘female’ or ‘male’ characteristics, pointing out the ways in which socialization impacts and shapes our behaviour. Yet a recent study out of Penn Medicine claims that there are, in fact, ‘hardwired difference between male and female brains’ that explain why men are supposedly better at certain tasks than women and vice versa. In this episode, I speak with Rebecca Jordan-Young, a sociomedical scientist at Barnard College and the author of Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences, about the study. Podcast: Play in new window | Download...
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If prostitution isn’t about lonely, undersexed men, what is it about? (Or, Justin Bieber doesn’t need to pay for sex)

Justin Bieber was photographed leaving a Brazilian brothel last weekend. He was covered in bedsheets, which leads us to believe that buying sex still isn’t seen as a completely acceptable pass time (though our friends on team “sex work is work” are doing their very best to change that). It’s not as though the Biebs has a shortage of options in the lady department. In fact, the very next evening, he left the club at 3am with a van load of 30 girls. Whatever. I know you don’t care what Justin Bieber does on weekends. My point is this: Why are we still pretending as though prostitution exists for lonely, socially awkward, undersexed men? The media is in love with the “sex surrogate” story these days. Last year the...
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The tyranny of consent

Emily Witt’s recent essay, in which she describes traveling to San Fransisco, where she watches a BDSM porn shoot for a Kink.com series called Public Disgrace, which depicts “women bound, stripped, and punished in public,” inspired a number of responses. Despite my, probably obvious, criticisms of both porn and the BDSM genre, in particular, the piece is a very good read (by which I mean, it is engaging and complex and thoughtful); although very, very graphic (by which I mean, don’t read it unless you wish to read very detailed descriptions of sadomachochism). There’s no real way to defend the production of this kind of film, the scene for this particular production is described by Conor Friedersdorf for The Atlantic, as one in which “… a group of San Franciscans...
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On ‘gray rape’, Girls, and sex in a rape culture

About five years ago, I was out and about with some dude-friends. We went to a bunch of bars, danced, drank, etc. I was single and also, therefore, mingling. Flirting, they call it. Eventually when there was no more bar-hopping to be had, we went back to a friend’s house and laughed and talked and made jokes and took stupid photos. One of the men I’d been flirting with, let’s call him Brad*, gave me a ride home. We got to my house, made out, and I said something along the lines of “Alrighty then, see you later!” He said “No, I’m coming in.” I said “No, you’re not.” This charming back and forth went on for a little while until, eventually, he did come in. So there was...
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Girls explains the difference between porn and nudity in half an hour (nsfw)

After all my frustrated and repetitive attempts at trying to explain the difference between porn and images of naked bodies and the difference between objectification and images of female sexuality that aren’t exploitative or sexualized, Sunday night’s episode of Girls basically did it all for me. Go watch it, if you can, but here’s a super brief recap for those who missed it: Hannah meets a hot doctor dude (Joshua/Patrick Wilson) who comes into the coffee shop she works at to complain about the shop’s garbage ending up in his trash cans. Hannah, being the secret culprit, goes to his place to apologize, kisses him, and they spend the next two days humping. Good times. Warning, there is no humping in the following clip: The point I’m often trying...
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Interview Archives

INTERVIEW ARCHIVES: Occupy Valentine’s Day – An interview with Samhita Mukhopadhyay

I spoke with Feministing’s executive editor, Samhita Mukhopadhyay, back in February 2012 about the romantic industrial complex and her ‘Occupy Valentine’s Day’ initiative. She wrote, in a blog post: In an effort to push the bounds of that exclusivity that so many of us feel on Valentine’s day, I wanted to think about the ways we can rethink love and romance to resemble who we are, as singles, couples and community. Celebrating love is a beautiful thing but shouldn’t depend on if we are in a relationship or not, our sexual orientation, our class background, our citizenship status or our marital status. Mukhopadhyay’s response to the romantic industrial complex and to many of the sexist and heteronormative messages perpetuated by Valentine’s Day was to start a tumblr called Occupy...
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Revenge porn is about porn

If you haven’t yet heard about revenge porn, you’re lucky. Notorious dickbag, Hunter Moore, is big into the revenge porn game. He can be credited with mainstreaming the concept of punishing your ex by posting their nude photos online without their permission via his website, IsAnyoneUp.com. Doesn’t take much to get rich these days, just a complete lack of anything resembling a soul. Not only would Moore post the photos, but he would also post the person’s name, location, and link to their social media accounts, also helpfully facilitating comments under the images critiquing the person’s appearance. Innovative, right! Eight months after his original site shut down, Moore, committed as ever to cretin status, announced he would be launching a new site: HunterMoore.TV. Of course, the fact that he...
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Interview Archives

Interview archives: Older men/younger women relationships: Is age really just a number?

This interview was recorded in July 2011 and originally aired on Vancouver Co-op Radio.   In this episode, Meghan Murphy explores the older man/younger woman relationship with guest, Hugo Schwyzer. We’ve all heard or seen the cliche that is the middle-aged man who, maybe post-divorce, seeks out a much younger woman; but whether it be to start a (new) family or simply to pump up his ego, the ‘creepy’ factor remains intact. While some may want to present this kind of relationship as ‘natural’ or as some kind of biological imperative that is applicable to men in particular, we must ask whether or not it is indeed ‘natural’ and why it is that we continue to get that creepy feeling about middle aged men who pursue relationships with women...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: Naomi Wolf’s Vagina & the Science of Female Pleasure

Meghan Murphy speaks with neuroscience journalist, Maia Szalavitz, about some of the controversial claims made about female sexuality in Naomi Wolf’s new book, Vagina. In her article, ‘Naomi Wolf’s Vagina Aside, What Neuroscience Really Says About Female Desire‘, Szalavitz debunks many of Wolf’s conclusions around the science of female sexual pleasure, including the ways she misrepresents the role that the brain and neurochemicals play in our love lives. While the female orgasm has long been subject to debate among scientists and feminists alike, this fascinating interview connects scientific findings and feminist ideology in a way that Wolf and many others have failed to do in the past. Maia Szalavitz has authored several books, including: Born for Love: Why Empathy is Essential — and Endangered. She has been published in...
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Beware sex therapists bearing books: When porn is the answer to your relationship woes

Shut-up and spread your legs. That’s the gist of some of the most recent advice offered by Australian sex therapist Bettina Arndt to the heterosexual women of the world in her series of books about what men want in bed and why women should give it to them. Over the last few years, Arndt has variously suggested that men have innately higher sex drives than women; that wives should put out for their husbands, even when they don’t want to have sex; and that women should “stop banging on” about pornography and just accept that all men will use it, including their intimate partners. There is nothing particularly new or radical about most of this. Such advice merely harks back to a time when performing your wifely duties and...
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Horny men, desperate women, and hookup culture: How evolutionary psychology and Margaret Wente get most things wrong

Margaret Wente is doing her part to contribute to the desperately needed cannon of writing that encourages women to live in fear of growing old, man-free. These kinds of pieces have been coming out on a regular basis for some time now. Notably, Susan Faludi addressed ye old ‘man shortage’ scare in her 1991 book, Backlash. Let’s keep that ball rolling, though, eh? “The men are disappearing! Find one! FIND ONNNNE!” is a patriarchal favorite because it ensures women remain insecure and in competition with one another and allows men to grow old minus the sad, lonely, spinster trope attached to their bachelorhood. In her recent piece at The Globe and Mail, ‘Why won’t guys grow up? Sexual economics“, Wente laments the apparently disappeared and “old-fashioned custom known as...
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Can men and women be ‘just’ friends? My interview with Sam

Earlier this month ago I began a little project based on the frequently asked question: “Can men and women be ‘just’ friends?” For the purposes of my (and hopefully your) entertainment and interest, I’ve been publishing transcripts from some of these interviews. Sam I met Sam in grad school.  He is 32 years old, heterosexual, and currently single. On the rebound, I’d decided that Sam was going to be my new boyfriend. My efforts at seduction failed, as it turned out that Sam was already someone else’s boyfriend.  So we became ‘just’ friends. Though we’ve only known each other for maybe a year, I very much value Sam’s friendship. He is an excellent writer and is smarter than me, which is mostly irritating but occasionally compelling.   Meghan: Ok,...
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Misogyny and porn culture are SO FUCKING IRONIC, say hipsters. Also, fuck hipsters

Though I occasionally find a good article in Vice, mostly I just find really terrible writing and misogyny/efforts at popularizing pornography. I mean, I like reading about drugs as much as the next person, but I just can’t stomach the constant objectification and glorification of porn (because I’m too fucking uptight or stupid to ‘get’ how objectification is actually artsy and ok if hipsters are doing it). The magazine has really nailed the whole ‘irony masks racism and sexism‘ thing. It’s also spawned a whole faction of idiot hipsters who think that their writing is deep because it makes no sense. It’s the emperor has no clothes redux. NOBODY SAY ANYTHING JUST SMILE AND NOD AND PAT YOUR BUDDIES ON THE BACK BECAUSE THEY HAVE ALL THE RIGHT HIPSTER...
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Can men and women be ‘just’ friends? My interview with Amy

Earlier this month ago I began a little project based on the frequently asked question: “Can men and women be ‘just’ friends?” For the purposes of my (and hopefully your) entertainment and interest, I’ve been publishing transcripts from some of these interviews. Amy Amy is a 33 year old heterosexual woman. She is engaged to be married and is doing a Masters in Education while simultaneously growing a human inside her uterus.  Amy and I went to high school together and have known each other for about 20 years now (ack!). We’ve had ups and downs and fun times and dumb, high school times. All of those memories are awkward and embarrassing enough to have bonded us for life. We chatted on IM recently about her experiences navigating platonic...
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Can men and women be ‘just’ friends? My interview with Daniel

A couple of weeks ago I began a little project based on the frequently asked question: “Can men and women be ‘just’ friends?” For the purposes of my (and hopefully your) entertainment and interest, I’ve been publishing transcripts from some of these interviews. Daniel Daniel is a 37 year old single heterosexual male and a Hip Hop Karaoke superstar. I haven’t actually known him for very long. I suppose we know one another through friends of friends. Our friendship began pretty recently, at a party back in the fall when we ended up in a long conversation about porn and misogyny (BECAUSE I’M SO FUN AT PARTIES). I think we probably also talked about rap music. I had just gone through a pretty bad break-up (are there ‘good’ breakups?...
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Can men and women be ‘just’ friends? An interview with my lady-friend, Chris

The third interview I did for this series was with my friend Chris; a 27 year old bisexual woman who is in what she calls a ‘monogamish’ (so, monogamous, but flexible) relationship with a man. I met Chris through my ex-boyfriend. She plays music with some of his friends and band mates and is super awesome. I’ve only known Chris for a few years but we’ve made an effort to keep a semi-regular after work date at local bar/live music venue. Chris is a feminist and knows lots of things about Scotch. So I like that. I talked with Chris about her experiences navigating platonic relationships that turn temporarily sexual with both her male and female friends, about the stupidity of the ‘friend zone’, and about dudes who can’t...
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Can men and women be ‘just’ friends? An interview with my ‘just’ friend, Tom

Last week I began a little project based on the frequently asked question: “Can women and men be ‘just’ friends?” For the purposes of my (and hopefully your) entertainment and interest, I’ll be publishing transcripts from some of the interviews I conduct over the next week or two.   Tom The second interview I did for this series was with my friend Tom. I’ve known Tom for about 15 years or so. We went to high school together. I had a really big crush on him for a few months after he played Sky Masterson in our school’s production of Guys and Dolls. Basically the way to my heart is through musical theatre and/or hip-hop karaoke. Tom is 33 years old, heterosexual and married. We’re pretty close and have...
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