TIME Opinion

Lena Dunham and Feminism: Beware the Vitriol of the Sisterhood

The debate over revelations in Dunham's memoir is not just about the propriety of a child's sexual curiosity. It’s about women who make us uncomfortable.

Correction: Appended, Nov. 5.

“Sisterhood is powerful. It kills. Mostly sisters.”

Those were the words of Ti-Grace Atkinson, an author and philosopher, when she resigned from the Feminists, a radical group she had founded in the late 1960s. They were repeated, forty years later, in the New Yorker​ by Susan Faludi​, who ​described them as “one of the lines most frequently quoted by feminists.”

​If Lena Dunham’s latest lambasting is any indication, the words are still applicable today. The vitriol of the sisterhood is alive and well.

The latest controversy over Dunham goes like this: Last month, the 28-year-old creator of Girls published a memoir, Not That Kind of Girl. In the book, much in the same way her HBO series does, Dunham takes on all sorts of taboos, in revealing, unfiltered, at times uncomfortable sections on virginity, sisterly intimacy and platonic bed sharing, date rape, and more. She is graphic in her sexual descriptions, including a passage where she describes, as a 7-year-old, looking inside her younger sister’s vagina (to discover that her sister had placed pebbles in it, presumably as a prank).

The scene is cringe-inducing. It’s uncomfortable, no doubt. It’s also funny. I ​laughed, ​turned the page and kept reading. Little kids do bizarre things.

I​t appeared that so did everybody else — until last week. That’s when an article in the National Review – written by Kevin Williamson, a man notable for an article on how “Laverne Cox Is Not a Woman” and seeming to suggest that women who get abortions should be hanged-- eviscerated Dunham for the chapter in her book about rape (he questioned why, if the story of an assault she suffered in college were truthful, she never “felt the need to press charges, file a complaint, or otherwise document the encounter.”) The right​-wing website TruthRevolt then picked up the ​thread, ​homed in on the sisterly vagina scene ​(along with a typo stating that Dunham was seventeen not 7) and declared in a headline (over which Dunham is now allegedly suing): “Lena Dunham describes sexually molesting her sister.”

In the version of things in my head, here’s how I would have expected this scenario to play out: ​

A few right wing publications and gossip blogs would pick up the story. ​The New York Post would write a ​snarky headline. ​Dunham would respond ​on Twitter (which she did). Her sister, who is her best friend and tour manager, would chime in (which she did). Feminists would jump to her defense. What she did as a seven-year-old may bother people, but that’s precisely Dunham’s form of art. That doesn’t make it abuse.

And yet​…​ here is how it did play out. ​Dunham was swiftly called a “predator without remorse” — mostly by other feminists on Twitter.​ She was compared to R. Kelly, Bill Cosby, and Jian Ghomeshi. She became the subject of a hashtag, #DropDunham, which called on Planned Parenthood – which has joined Dunham on a number of stops on her book tour – to disassociate from her immediately.

​And on feminist listservs, Tumblr blogs and elsewhere, the pile-on began. She was “creepy.” “Not normal.” A “self-promoter.” “Full of herself.” A woman who needs to “sit the f–k down and learn something.” ​She was told to “get some boundaries.” To “stop being weird.” Her story was, as one blogger put it, “best kept in the confines of your family kitchen over Thanksgiving.”

This was not the National Review talking. These were fellow feminists.

Yes, she had defenders: Jimmy Kimmel tweeted that suggesting “a 7 yr-old girl is even capable of ‘molestation’ is vile​”; a sex researcher at the Kinsey Institute wrote that “it’s normal for kids to explore with each other;” prominent feminist voices like Roxane Gay (who called Dunham “gutsy” and “audacious” in a review of her book), Katha Pollitt (who donated to Planned Parenthood in Dunham’s honor); and a group of women who launched a Tumblr to curate all sorts of youthful (and at times unsettling) stories of sexual exploration. ​(Dunham responded again, too, writing in TIME that she takes abuse seriously and noting that her sister had given permission for her to publish the story.)

And yet the vitriol from her critics was so intense, so personal, so almost gleeful, that it was hard not to wonder if this was really about Lena Dunham at all.

“Honestly, I don’t think I’ve even seen this level of outrage over Bill Cosby,” one friend commented, referring to the allegations of sexual abuse against Cosby.

Why, whenever there is a powerful woman speaking about feminism publicly (including, ahem: Sheryl Sandberg, and please see the disclosure in my bio) must they become so polarizing as to make feminism, as one journalist put it, “a bipartisan issue“?​ (It’s worth noting that among my cohort, anyway, there has been far more discussion about Dunham than about the elections).

Feminism is about giving women equal opportunity, equal voice, equal power. And yet, over and over again, when female voices attain that power, we – other women – parse and analyze their every move, public and personal, with an absurdly critical eye. We see it in politics, in pop culture, in film. From Hillary Clinton to Sandberg to Anne Hathaway. (As Roxane Gay put it in a piece for The Rumpus, “Young women in Hollywood cannot win, no matter what they do.”)

To be clear: There are plenty of people who think Dunham’s behavior toward her sister was questionable, and that’s a valid argument to have. (Though “inappropriate” is a whole lot different from “molestation” so say the experts.) There are others who’ve argued that acknowledging Dunham’s race, and privileged background, are crucial to this conversation. (I happen to disagree – but that too, is a discussion worth having.)

But this has become a witch hunt – and it has everything to do with​ how we view women like Dunham.

Feminism has a long history of what Ms. Magazine, in a 1976 piece by Jo Freeman, called “trashing.” That is, taking jabs at women who suddenly rise up, helping elevate them, but then tearing them down when they become too successful. “This standard,” Freeman wrote, “is clothed in the rhetoric of revolution and feminism. But underneath are some very traditional ideas about women’s proper roles.”

Dunham is a perfect target for trashing – because she doesn’t fit into our traditional molds. She is loud, out there, imperfect, messy, and some might say maybe even a little gross. She speaks openly about feminism, and sex, the ambiguity of consent, and she doesn’t apologize for it. She makes people uncomfortable. And while she may have risen up propelled by the support of other women, somewhere along the way, she lost her likability – as powerful women often do. She is just a little too loud, a little too unapologetic, a little too overtly sexual, a little … successful.

But that doesn’t make her a molester.

Dunham has always presented herself as flawed. She has never made herself a paragon, or claimed to represent us all. Yes, her character on Girls called herself a “voice of her generation.” She is also not her character (and has said repeatedly that it was just a line). And she’s not a politician, she’s an artist. It is her job is to push boundaries. To speak loudly. And, yes, to self-promote – and sell books.

Dunham’s accomplishments are what feminists should want women to aspire to: she is the writer, director and star, making art about women, from a woman’s point of view, in an industry that is still dominated by men. She doesn’t represent all women — and she shouldn’t have to. But she is willing to say what many other high-profile women won’t (at least not publicly). Yes, she has a voice that creates controversy. Yes, she makes people uncomfortable.

But why do we hold her to a seemingly higher standard? Why must her voice represent us all?

No one can be “everything to everybody,” Freeman wrote back in 1976. And neither can Lena Dunham. Like her, don’t like her. Watch Girls, don’t watch it. But let’s not forget: There is room for more women than Lena Dunham at the top.

Jessica Bennett is a contributing columnist at Time.com covering the intersection of gender, sexuality, business and pop culture. She writes regularly for the New York Times and is a contributing editor on special projects for Sheryl Sandberg’s women’s non-profit, Lean In. You can follow her @jess7bennett.

Read next: Lena Dunham: ‘I Do Not Condone Any Kind of Abuse’

Correction: The original version of this story attributed a quotation to National Review writer Kevin D. Williamson that he did not say. The story has been updated to remove the quotation.

TIME viral

A Woman Recreated That Viral Catcalling Video in New Zealand and Got Very Different Results

For starters, nobody catcalled her

Remember that video of a woman getting catcalled more than 100 times? The one that took over the entire Internet and launched approximately 87 million think pieces, tweets and blog posts? Well, the New Zealand Herald decided to test out a similar experiment, but in Auckland instead of New York City. The newspaper sent model Nicola Simpson on a walk around the city, with a hidden camera tracking her movements and her interactions with fellow pedestrians.

Spoiler alert: the results are drastically different. Sure, a few men do double-takes to check her out, but only two people said anything to her — and one was simply asking for directions.

TIME Business

France Investigates Higher Prices for Women’s Products

Petition notes that women's products are priced unfairly compared to men's

The French Finance Ministry has promised to investigate why certain women’s razors, shaving creams, and deodorants are more expensive than men’s, even though the products are practically identical.

The inquiry comes after a French women’s group launched a petition against what they called an “invisible tax” on products marked as “feminine.” Secretary of State for women’s rights, Pascale Boistard, even tweeted (in french) “Is pink a luxury color?”

A Change.org petition aimed at getting Monoprix, a major French retail brand, to change its pricing has gained almost 40,000 signatures. The petition notes that a packet of 10 males razors costs less than a packet of 5 female razors, even though the products are basically the same. Monoprix denies the price discrimination, saying that the different pricing comes from the fact that men buy more razors than women do.

The “invisible tax” isn’t just in France– American products marketed towards women are also more expensive than regular products. Bustle broke down how nearly identical products at CVS are priced differently depending on whether they’re being sold to men or women. For example, a men’s dandruff shampoo costs $7.99, while a women’s dandruff shampoo costs $10.99, even though they’re made by the same company (Head & Shoulders) and promise the same thing.

In 1995, California passed a law to ban gender-based price discrimination, citing analysis that women were spending an extra $1,350 a year because of the bias. But that only applies to service pricing– car washes, dry cleaning, etc. — not products in stores.

TIME feminism

Street Harassment Isn’t About Sexism—It’s About Privilege

Woman walking in street
Getty Images

Kay S. Hymowitz is the William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. She is the author of four books, including Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age and Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Is Turning Men Into Boys.

There's not much to do about catcalling, unless you’re willing to see a lot more minority men hassled by the police

Americans would rather talk about almost anything other than class. Even today as income inequality and racial and gender disparities dominate the headlines, even among the tell-all Millennials, class is quarantined from the arena of respectable conversation.

The latest example of this stubborn truism emerged after a video showing the catcalling torment young women face on city streets was posted on YouTube. Many viewers noticed that in the two-minute video by the activist group Hollaback!, condensed from a single woman’s 10 hour walk around New York City, all of the offending men were black and Hispanic. They chastised the creators for creating the appearance that white men don’t do this sort of thing, which led ultimately to an apology from Rob Bliss the video producer.

To say that Bliss was being disingenuous is putting it mildly. In a little noticed item on the website of the alternative magazine Mass Appeal Chris Moore did a little sleuthing and found that more than half of the shots used in the film appeared to be shot on 125th Street in Harlem, a predominately poor, black neighborhood. Much of the rest were shot near Times Square and Canal Street, neither area what anyone would call genteel. You have to give Bliss this much credit: He knew what he and very few other people are willing to admit. Street harassment is largely a class thing. In New York, at any rate, that means it’s also a race thing.

Now before anyone tweets about the pasty skinned guys from Morgan Stanley who whisper nasty somethings in her ear when she’s on line at the Financial District Starbucks, let’s get the obvious on the table: Street harassers can come in all colors and sport all kinds of pedigrees. Without a doubt, there are white guys in Brooks Brothers or Zegna who will ruin a girl’s morning with an unwelcome suggestion for where on her body he would like to deposit his bodily fluids.

Still. These bespoke brutes may not be a rare breed, but they’re just not common enough to spoil a good 10 hour walk along the Upper East Side. Young women who tense up as they approach a construction site know full well that walking past the guys who drive the fork lift will almost surely result in some unwanted attention; walking past the architects who are pouring over the blueprints probably won’t.

The catcalling gap will make sense to anyone who has noticed that middle class men and women tend to have a different physical and sexual presentation than their less privileged peers. Psychologists have long known that there are marked class differences in child rearing that can explain this. Preparing their children for office and stable domestic life, middle class parents have always nudged their children to display what was once known as “bourgeois propriety.” The term doesn’t seem to fit an America where, as the “Advice Goddess” Amy Alkon has said, even “nice people say f–k.” But middle class homes continue to encourage their children to use their “inside voices,” to demonstrate bodily self-discipline (one reason obesity has become a class marker), to play nice, and to soften the rough edges of male physicality. They ban toy guns from their homes and petition schools to prohibit dodgeball and other “human target” games.

Lower income parents tend to be less “proper” in their childrearing, dispensing more physical punishment and shrugging off rough and tumble play. The difference shows up in school where lower income kids, particularly boys, have more trouble sitting still, paying attention, and keeping quiet; educators consistently report they have more behavior problems. It should come as no surprise that these same boys grow up to become men who are more blatantly, and for middle class women especially, more obnoxiously, interested in every passing young thing. In rare but important instances this goes well beyond obnoxious; lower income men (and women) are also more likely than middle class to be involved in domestic violence disputes.

The catcalling gap creates some cognitive dissonance for promoters of the idea of “white male privilege.” If men of color and working class dudes are the biggest offenders, then middle class (mostly white) are the good — or at least the less bad — guys. Middle class men may no longer open doors for women or help them carry heavy suitcases, but most of them would be mortified to hear a friend shout “Hey baby; shake that thing!” to passing strangers as they rush to take their poli-sci class or make their 10 a.m. project meeting.

That raises the question of how the disproportionately white campus has become the site where so many men behave badly. That’s easy to answer. Put middle class men in a frat house with flowing kegs, and their manners melt into a boozy puddle. That’s exactly the point of the whole exercise. People —men and women — drink because it feels good to shed their inhibitions, to say the sorts of things of which their parents might not approve and do things their daytime, classroom selves may wonder at.

Ironically, then, Hollaback!’s video suggests that privilege belongs to white middle class women as much as their male classmates. For all of the myriad problems they face in a college sex scene drenched in alcohol, women students can walk the ivy paths with minimum of hassle (unless they pass by the guys building the new student center with yoga studio and state of the art fitness center). When they move to a chaotic, multicultural city, however, especially if they venture into Harlem and Times Square, they find themselves bumping up against all types — blue collar and poor men, immigrants and children of immigrants, men whose parents may not have raised them to treat women with the sort of restraint their own brothers and fathers do. And they don’t like it one bit.

Even Rob Bliss — especially Rob Bliss! — has to know there’s not much anyone can do about it. Unless they’re willing to see a lot more minority men hassled by the police.

Kay S. Hymowitz is the William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. She is the author of four books, including Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age and Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Is Turning Men Into Boys.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME feminism

What We Can Learn From Nellie Tayloe Ross, America’s First Female Governor

Nellie Tayloe Ross
Nellie Tayloe Ross when elected governor of Wyoming in 1925. AP Images

Not much has changed for women in politics since 1924

Before there was Sarah Palin or Ann Richards, there was Nellie Tayloe Ross. Ninety years ago today, on Nov 4, 1924, Ross was elected governor of Wyoming, and became the first woman governor in the United States.

Ross was elected a month after her husband, Governor William B. Ross, died suddenly of appendicitis. Her supporters thought it was fitting that the first state to allow equal voting rights (Wyoming passed women’s suffrage in 1869) would also be the first to have a woman governor, and Ross was committed to continuing her husband’s progressive policies. Plus, she wanted the job. Ross was the first woman governor by only a few days — Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, who had also been a state First Lady, was sworn in as governor of Texas just over two weeks after Ross took office.

Ross was inaugurated on Jan. 5, 1925. Eleven days later, when she appeared before the Legislature to review the progress of her late husband, The New York Times ran the headline, “Mrs. Ross Wears Hat Before Legislature,” and noted that she “defied precedent” by “wearing hat and gloves.” Other contemporary media accounts noted that she had “not lost her womanliness” and remained “ever feminine, never a feminist,” as noted in her Times obituary when she died in 1977. “Really, I dropped accidentally into politics,” she told the Times in 1926, saying she preferred to taking a stroll along the boardwalk to discussing rumors of a 1928 bid for the Vice Presidency (which never materialized).

Ninety years later, women politicians are still struggling with the delicate balance of femininity, ambition and power. Even though we may have a woman president sometime soon, female politicians must still be attractive but not too sexy, ambitious but not too scary. And as much as we may want to think that we’re past caring how female politicians look, the recent kerfuffle over Sen. Tom Harkin comparing Iowa Republican candidate Joni Ernst to Taylor Swift proves not much as changed in the last nine decades. That focus on looks is bad for women who aspire to politics. “When [a woman]’s appearance is commented on publicly during a campaign, it undermines her; it actually hurts her,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said at the Real Simple/TIME Women & Success Panel in October. “And it doesn’t matter if the comment is positive or negative. It undermines her credibility.”

Ross also had to dispel the idea that she would use her power to rid the Wyoming government of men, and create an all-woman government ( a 1925 man’s worst nightmare). Here’s what TIME reported in 1925 that she told the Associated Press when asked about her view of women in politics:

“It is most amusing and amazing to me, for example, to be asked, as I was soon after my election, whether I expected to appoint any men to office? This question, telegraphed to me from the East by a well-known metropolitan newspaper, had every indication of being quite sincere, and was apparently inspired by the fear that the elevation of women to executive office was likely to be followed by the dismissal of all men and the substitution of women in their places.”

If Nellie Tayloe Ross were alive today, she’d certainly have some thoughts about #notallmen.

TIME 2014 Election

Joni Ernst Missed the Real Problem With the Taylor Swift Comparison

Joni Ernst
Republican Iowa State Sen. Joni Ernst in Des Moines, Iowa on May 29, 2014. Charlie Neibergall—AP

The problem is not that she was called attractive, it's how people react to that

When video surfaced of a Democratic senator calling her “really attractive,” Senate candidate Joni Ernst took full advantage.

In an appearance on Fox News Monday, the Iowa Republican slammed retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, whose seat she’s seeking, for saying in a video that she’s “as good looking as Taylor Swift” but “votes like Michele Bachmann.”

“I think it’s unfortunate that he and many in their party believe that you can’t be a real woman if you’re conservative and female,” she said. “I believe if my name had been John Ernst on my resume, then Senator Harkin would not have said those things.”

Ernst is right that there’s a double standard for female politicians, but she’s not quite right about how it works. For one thing, people say male politicians are sexy all the time. In fact, it’s often an argument in favor of their candidacy.

Obama’s sex appeal won him a fan in “Obama Girl,” who made viral YouTube videos about her crush on the then-Presidential candidate in 2008. Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) rumored washboard abs were the subject of much speculation during his 2012 Vice Presidential campaign. Scott Brown, who once posed nude for Cosmopolitan, was the subject of a 2010 New York Times column called “Bringing Sexy Back.” John Edwards was voted People Magazine’s “Sexiest Politician” of 2000.

It’s not a recent phenomenon either. Some historians argue that JFK won the presidency in 1960 because he looked more handsome than Nixon during the televised Nixon-Kennedy debate.

But while attractiveness is a political asset for male politicians, it’s a liability for women.

A 2010 study from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel found that when female job applicants included a photo with their resumes, more attractive women were less likely to get hired than plainer ones. But references to physical appearance of any kind, flattering or insulting, can hurt a female candidate.

“When [a woman]’s appearance is commented on publicly during a campaign, it undermines her; it actually hurts her,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said during the Real Simple/TIME event on Women and Success on Oct 1. “And it doesn’t matter if the comment is positive or negative. It undermines her credibility.”

That’s why comments about female politicians’ looks are seen as gaffes, while comments on men’s looks are considered funny and flattering.

Earlier this year, Gillibrand revealed in her book that she had been called “porky” and “chubby” by fellow Senators. Last year, Obama apologized to California Attorney General Kamala Harris after he commented that she was the “best-looking attorney general in the country.” Before he was defeated by Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2012, then-Sen. Scott Brown responded to Warren’s comment that she didn’t have to take off her clothes to pay for college (a dig at Brown’s nude photo shoot) with an insulting “thank God.” And in 2010, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Gillibrand the “hottest member” of the Senate, while she was sitting only a few feet away. Each of these comments created a minor scandal, and sparked debate about whether the female politicians were being “taken seriously.”

Sarah Palin is a perfect example of this. The former beauty queen-turned politician became a living punchline, thanks in part to her “sexy librarian hair” and resemblance to SNL comic Tina Fey.

So the problem with Harkin’s remarks isn’t that he wouldn’t have made them about a hypothetical John Ernst. The problem is that they would be seen as a problem for the real Joni Ernst.

TIME Opinion

Instagram Is Right to Censor Chelsea Handler

2014 Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize For American Humor Honoring Jay Leno
Chelsea Handler at the 2014 Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize For Americacn Humor at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on October 19, 2014 in Washington, DC. Kris Connor--Getty Images) Kris Connor—Getty Images

Allowing nudity on Instagram would hurt more women than it would help

It’s Halloween, which means it’s the perfect time to stir up a smoking hot gender-politics brouhaha in the Internet cauldron. This time, it’s over comedian Chelsea Handler’s nipples, and whether she should be able to post pictures of them on Instagram.

The drama started Thursday night, when Handler posted a topless photo of herself riding a horse on Instagram, to mock Vladimir Putin’s topless horseback selfie from 2009. Her photo was accompanied with the caption, “Anything a man can do, a woman has the right to do better. #kremlin.” But Instagram took the photo down, citing its Community Guidelines, which prohibit sharing of “nudity or mature content.” Handler posted the notice that her post had been removed, with the caption “If a man posts a photo of his nipples, it’s ok, but not a woman? Are we in 1825?” She then took to Twitter, calling the removal “sexist.”

Breastfeeding moms have voiced similar outrage at social networks like Facebook and Instagram, complaining that their nursing photos have been taken down for being too revealing. And pro-nudity movements like the Free the Nipple campaign have argued that nudity laws policies like this amount to “female oppression.”

Yes, in an ideal world, women’s nipples would seem just as unsexy and random as men’s. But we don’t live in that world, and Instagram is right to censor Handler and other women who post topless pictures. Not because there’s anything wrong with female nudity, but because that kind of monitoring helps keep revenge porn and child porn off of the network. It’s not that kids on Instagram need to be protected from seeing naked photos of Chelsea Handler–it’s they need to be protected from themselves.

See, kids love taking nude selfies, and they have notoriously bad judgement when it comes to putting stuff on the Internet. A study in June by Drexel University found that 28% of undergrads said they had sent photographic sexts while underage. Another study, published in Pediatrics in September, also found that 28% of surveyed teens admitted to sending naked photos, and 57% said they’d been asked for a sext. At the same time, Instagram is quickly eclipsing Facebook as the social network of choice for young teens. According to a survey by investment banking company Piper Jaffray, 76% of teens say they use Instagram, while only 59% use Twitter and 45% use Facebook. So if Instagram didn’t have its nudity policy, it stands to reason that teens might just start posting their naked selfies there.

The nudity policy also keeps Instagram from being a revenge porn destination. A 2013 study by McAfee security company found that 13% of adults have had their personal content leaked without their permission, and 1 in 10 say they’ve had exes threaten to post personal photos. Of those who threatened to leak photos, 60% followed through. Without their policy, Instagram would be a destination for revenge porn as well.

To be fair, Instagram doesn’t have a share mechanism, so it would be harder for porn to go viral. But on the other hand, Instagram profiles can also contain personal details about users’ immediate surroundings, which could make teens or potential revenge porn victims even more vulnerable.

This is also a question of practicality. Ideally, Instagram would be able to distinguish between a naked 13-year old and a breastfeeding mom. In reality, it would be unrealistic to expect Instagram to comb through their content, keeping track of when every user turns 18, whether the user is posting photos of themselves or of someone else, and whether every naked photo was posted with consent. And even if they could do that, would you really want Instagram calling you up to verify you knew about that whipped-cream photo your ex posted? It would be creepy.

This kind of policy is what makes Instagram different than Tumblr, which has fewer restrictions and much more porn. Granted, Tumblr has recently made that content harder to find on its site, but it’s still a destination for revenge porn. And as Maureen O’Connor wrote for New York Magazine, the process of getting revenge porn taken down can be humiliating: victims have to send Tumblr a picture of themselves holding a piece of paper with their full name, to verify they’re the person in the pictures.

So which is more important: the rights of a few bold comedians or breastfeeding moms to feel validated by their Facebook followers, or the privacy of people who might have their private photos posted without consent? I would side with the latter any day of the week.

TIME Television

Watch Anita Sarkeesian School Stephen Colbert on GamerGate

She even declares Colbert a feminist

The maker of a feminist video game who has faced vitriol from some members of the “GamerGate” online movement stopped by The Colbert Report on Wednesday and handily schooled the host’s fake gamer persona.

“I’m saving the princess, and I’m supposed to let the princess die? Is that what you want?” Colbert asks Anita Sarkeesian incredulously.

“Well maybe the princess shouldn’t be a damsel and she could save herself,” Sarkeesian replies, drawing cheers from women in the crowd. (“I didn’t know you brought a posse,” Colbert jokingly responds.)

The GamerGate movement, named after the Twitter hashtag that has fueled its growth, purports to challenge poor ethics in video-game journalism. But it has also unleashed a wave of sexist comments and threats against women in the overall gaming industry.

Sarkeesian, who has publicly criticized video-game culture for its portrayal of women, canceled a talk at Utah State University earlier this month after the school received an email threat of a shooting massacre. While the school considered it safe for the talk to continue, Sarkeesian decided to pull out of the event because the school was barred by state law from disallowing legal guns on campus during the event.

“They’re lashing out because we’re challenging the status quo of gaming as a male-dominated space,” Sarkeesian says. By the end of the interview, she even declares Colbert a feminist after he asks if he’s allowed — as a man — to be one.

See the full interview below:

TIME celebrity

Here’s Benedict Cumberbatch in a Feminist T-Shirt

All the Cumberbitches are pretty excited

Well, looks like Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch is the latest male celebrity to proudly embrace the f-word. Behold:

ELLE UK called on the Sherlock actor to pose in a t-shirt featuring the slogan “This is what a feminist looks like,” created by equality campaigning organization the Fawcett Society. As part of its upcoming feminism issue, the magazine recruited Cumberbatch — along with other actors like Tom Hiddleston and Joseph Gordon-Levitt — to show their support.

Naturally, Cumberbatch’s many fans (also known as Cumberbitches) are pretty excited.

Here are Gordon-Levitt and Hiddleston:

 

TIME feminism

Emma Watson: Feminism Is ‘Not Dogmatic,’ It’s About Having Choices

HeForShe Campaign Launch
Emma Watson, Ban Ki-Moon attends the launch of the HeForShe Campaign at the United Nations on September 20, 2014 in New York City. (Steve Sands--WireImage) Steve Sands—WireImage

She'll be on the cover of Elle's feminism issue in December

The Harry Potter star and new UN Women Goodwill ambassador will grace the cover of ELLEs feminism-themed December issue.

In a sneak-peak at the full interview from ELLE’s U.K. website, here’s what she has to say about feminism:

“Feminism is not here to dictate to you. It’s not prescriptive, it’s not dogmatic. All we are here to do is give you a choice. If you want to run for President, you can. If you don’t, that’s wonderful, too.”

Watson also said her upbringing helped influence her ideas about feminism:

“I’m lucky I was raised to believe that my opinion at the dinner table was valuable. My mum and I spoke as loudly as my brothers.”

The British star made waves last month when she spoke at the UN He for She event about the importance of feminism for both women and men.

[ELLE]

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