Congrats, 42-Year-Old Women: Esquire Now Deems You Attractive

Photo | Shutterstock.com

Sofia Vergara, who is now 42. Photo | Shutterstock.com

Did you see? Esquire magazine praised the 42-year-old woman, saying that the age is “not what it used to be.”

“Let’s face it: There used to be something tragic about even the most beautiful forty-two-year-old woman,” the opener reads. “With half her life still ahead of her, she was deemed to be at the end of something — namely, everything society valued in her, other than her success as a mother. If she remained sexual, she was either predatory or desperate; if she remained beautiful, what gave her beauty force was the fact of its fading. And if she remained alone … well, then God help her.”

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The President and the “N-Word”

The headline, as it appeared on the newspaper's website.

The headline, as it appeared on the newspaper’s website.

Last week, The West View News, a small monthly paper with circulation in the West Village neighborhood of New York City, ran a story about President Obama with a headline that read “The Nigger in the White House.” The article, written by James Lincoln Collier, a white man, defended the president and accused the far-right of racism.

“Nigger” is a piece of language so loaded, it’s not one that anyone stumbles upon lightly, or happens to use in place of something else. It’s not synonymous with anything; it’s a word of intention. A word of consequence. A word with a lot of history attached to it.

Of course, the newspaper headline sparked debate about the use of the word, and whether its use (however ironically) has a place in journalism—or any other decent public space, for that matter. It’s an editorial decision, for sure, a move that’s the print equivalent of click-bait, which has spawned coverage and think pieces about what the word means.

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The Men’s Rights Movement Isn’t an SNL Sketch

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Somewhere in Michigan, in the last week of June, a bunch of men sat around and aired their grievances.

To say it more plainly, they whined and complained about how the world got to be so cold.

The Washington Post covered first International Conference on Men’s Issues, something so absurd in its existence that I hope that Lorne Michaels catches wind of it and brings Tina Fey back to do the writing for an SNL skit.

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Were You Offended by FAFSA’s Kristen Wiig ‘I’m Poor’ Tweet?

In the still of the night last week, the Twitter account for the U.S. Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) made a huge gaffe that resulted in a resounding “thud” each time it was retweeted onto a new timeline:

FAFSA tweet kristen wiig

The offense here seems obvious. Apparently, it is only obvious to every person who isn’t the social media manager of the FAFSA account. There are a lot of things to address here, one of them being the flippant way we’ve come to use the word “poor,” which desensitizes us to real issues of poverty.

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Marriage Is Not the Solution to Violence Against Women

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Shutterstock.com

And now, for the week in ridiculous.

A headline in the Washington Post reads, without a hint of irony: “One way to end violence against women? Married dads.”

When the #YesAllWomen hashtag took off on Twitter in response to the UC-Santa Barbara shooting, women took to their keyboards to share their experience with violence. In a Department of Justice report done on the prevalence, incidence and consequences of violence against women, “51.9 percent of surveyed women [said] they were physically assaulted as a child by an adult caretaker and/or as an adult by any type of attacker.”  Twenty-two percent of surveyed women reported that they’d been physically assaulted “by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or date in their lifetime.”

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Is Orange Is the New Black Too Funny?

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Count me among the many who happily binge-watch Netflix’s most successful series, Orange Is The New Black. It has what most great shows have: nuanced characters, great dialogue and an interesting story arc with just enough ridiculousness sprinkled in to make the mundanity of everyday life seem entertaining.

Except, what Orange unpacks is a little more than mundane ordinary life. The show, which centers on the lives of the female inmates of the fictional Litchfield Correctional Facility, makes jail the centerpiece of its LOLs and hijinks, then snaps the audience back into the grittier realities for a pathos-driven push-and-pull to humanize the way we think about the incarcerated.

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Does Handwriting Really Matter?

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Shutterstock.com

As a product of Catholic school education, it’s hard for me to imagine a world where good penmanship doesn’t matter. In fact, I still remember a day in sixth grade when I was instructed to re-write a cursive letter “D”’again and again because I opted to put my own personal flare on the old-fashioned stencil. Aside from the personal trauma that comes with overzealous instruction from ladies dressed in habits, there’s a different kind of psychology associated with handwriting, according to a piece in the Times.

“Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information,”the story goes. “In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.”

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Elliot Rodger, Misguided Male Entitlement, and the “Nice Guy” Fallacy

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, right, walks past a board showing the photos of suspected gunman Elliot Rodger and the weapons he used in Friday night's mass shooting that took place in Isla Vista, Calif., after a news conference on Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Santa Barbara, Calif. Sheriff's officials say Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo | Jae C. Hong)

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, right, walks past a board showing the photos of suspected gunman Elliot Rodger and the weapons he used in Friday night’s mass shooting that took place in Isla Vista, Calif., after a news conference on Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Santa Barbara, Calif. Sheriff’s officials say Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP Photo | Jae C. Hong)

We acculturate our children in a culture of domestic violence. In playgrounds across the country this summer and into the following school year and those to come, little girls will learn that the boys who push them into the grass are the ones that like them. They will grow older and become teenage girls who accept the sting of a “love tap” in their arm as a sign that they have been chosen.

With any luck, the young women will unlearn these expectations.

And with hope, the young men will, too.

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Well, at Least Donald Sterling Doesn’t Talk in Code

One of the most fascinating things about the Internet is the way it uncovers how many bigots lie in our midst every day. Especially since most of my columns are centered on the tender subjects of race and class, a quick scroll to the bottom of the page here or here or here (nope, it’s not just the philly.com that serves as venue space for digital Klan meetings), and you can see what I’m talking about. It’s not just about your standard differences in opinion; it’s a fundamental belief system that, as the late great Michael Jackson once said, is “too high to get over, and too low to get under.”

The fact that bigotry generally hides in plain sight is one of the reasons LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling is such a fascinating oddity, a walking, talking, living relic of just how staunchly committed a certain type of person can be to their indefensible racism and prejudice. His absurdity was laid bare in his recent interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, where he said he was not a racist and that he was with Cooper “to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for all the people” he hurt.

Minutes later: “Here is a man who acts so holy,” he said of Magic Johnson, the man featured in the photo with Sterling’s friend V. Stiviano. “I mean, he made love to every girl in every city in America and he has AIDS.”

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So Much for Post-Racial Millennials, Sports

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Shutterstock.com

For Americans, the sports stadium is the sanctuary where we all give praise to the same gods. The allure of sports, of course, is that they seem fall in line with our democratic values of fairness; the athletic field is where meritocracy is the law of the land and skill is the great equalizer.

Sports are turned to in times where basic human decency has fallen short; we view sports as a salve for our country’s pesky “race problem.” But according to a big Patriot News enterprise feature about race and Pennsylvania’s high school sports — “Unchecked, Unchallenged and Unabashed: Is racism in high school sports being tolerated?”— racism is just as imbued in the locker room as anywhere else, even among our supposedly post-racial young people.

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