Friends and Feminism

By Maleigha Michael

*spoilers ahead*

Friends was one of the many trendy sitcoms that came from the ’90s that is seen as a classic by many. And even though its last episode aired in 2004, it still seems to grow in popularity. Because of its familiar presence in the TV world today, its values and themes are important to pay attention to since they have such a strong impact on their audience. The main point I want to get across is that while Friends integrated some feminist perspectives, they were often countered to promote patriarchal ideals. And just because the sitcom had a few progressive tones, that doesn’t make it a feminist show; moreover, it definitely doesn’t mean we should accept them today, or should’ve accepted them back then. There are examples in every episode that I could discuss and pick apart, but since I don’t have 18 pages (front and back) I’ll only be addressing a few.

For those that say Friends is a feminist show, I want to point out that sure, it could be seen that way. But only if you’re idea of feminism is very outdated. The show introduced characters from the LGBTQIA community (or just LGBT, as it was recognized at the time), which should always be applauded, but the way those characters were received by the other characters is why the show is seen by others as outdated. For example, Chandler’s transgender father was constantly made fun of and Ross’s lesbian ex-wife was far too often oversexualized.

And of course I have to talk about the finale. In the beginning, Rachel started off as this idol for independent women: leaving a man at the altar, breaking away from her father’s money, and pursuing her dream career in fashion (and yes, I realize how unrealistic this part was since she had no prior experience in the industry, or proper schooling). One of the main plot lines to the show was the whole will-they-won’t-they back and forth love affair between Rachel and Ross, so it only makes sense that that’s how the franchise ended.  But when the opportunity arises for Rachel to work for Louis Vuitton in Paris, episode after episode is focused on Ross trying to stop Rachel from leaving just so he could be with her. This all leads up to the end scenes of Ross convincing Rachel to stay. Ross wasn’t alone in this either. Phoebe and Joey actually encouraged him to go after Rachel, instead of encouraging him to support the woman he loves when she’s offered the chance of a lifetime. This ending was extremely disappointing for feminists for obvious reasons, but also because of the lasting impact it has on its viewers. After all of Rachel’s hard work and progress she’s made to get where she is, she turns down a major job opportunity to be with a man who wasn’t very supportive of her career choices in the first place.

For a character that had such a strong story line, the salute off the show that she was given is one of the many examples of how any feminist themes in Friends are overshadowed by regressive concepts that left a bitter taste in the mouths of feminists back then and especially today. The series may be one of the most popular sitcoms ever, but we shouldn’t accept any oppression of female dominance and simply pass it off as “that’s just how it was back then!” Finding feminism in any show is great, but Friends should NOT pass as a feminist show.

Emmy Rossum Had No Shame Asking for Equal Pay

By Ann Varner

Emmy Rossum is the unsung hero in Hollywood right now after she demanded, fought for, and receive equal pay of her co-star, William H. Macy. One of my favorite shows is Shameless. The show is set in south side Chicago with Macy playing a dead beat dad with six children. The oldest of the children is Fiona (played by Rossum) who is truly the center of the show.

When Rossum began the show 9 years ago she didn’t have the equivalent experience as Macy, so the unequal pay wasn’t an issue to her. However, 7 seasons later and after directing many of the shows herself, she decided it was time to ask for equal pay.  Due to the extensive negotiations about her pay, production for the 8th season was put to a halt. Fortunately, Rossum got what she wanted and deserved and is now beginning filming for the 9th season.

While finding articles about her equal pay fight, I was pleased to find that Rossum had major support behind her fight for equal pay, including support from Macy: “It’s show biz’s job to get us for as cheaply as they can – and our job to say no…It’s unconscionable they would pay a woman less for the same job.”

Regarding becoming a champion for equal pay, Rossum stated: “This is across the board in every industry, how women are paid versus how men are paid. And then you take it further, that kind of bias extends not just to gender but to race, ethnicity, religion.”

Emmy Rossum is a role model and exactly who we need to inspire more women in Hollywood and the real world to demand their equal pay.

Good Wife, Good Fight: Good Feminist TV

By Ann Varner

The Good Fight is a spin-off of the show The Good Wife. The Good Wife was a wonderfully surprising feminist show. I didn’t expect The Good Wife to be feminist based off of its name, however, it features a strong female lead who goes back to working as a lawyer after 13 years of being a housewife. The Good Wife follows Alicia Florrick as she navigates the male-dominated profession as a first-year associate alongside younger, newly-minted colleagues. She climbs to the top and also finds herself along the way.

The Good Fight premiered two years ago, shortly after The Good Wife ended. The Good Fight does not have Alicia Florrick in it, instead my favorite character is another strong female lead character from The Good Wife series, Diane Lockhart. Diane is a well-seasoned attorney who built a firm but was ultimately pushed out following a scandal. She cannot retire because her money was stolen and needs a new job. Struggling to find a job, she only receives one job offer from an African-American-run firm. She joins the firm and as a partner, the firm becomes predominately women.

A show featuring African Americans and women as leads in professional fields is rare and a breath of fresh air. The show covers many hard topics such as police brutality, the #metoo movement, hate crimes, and rape. The show also shows women and people of color that they are not forgotten and can rise to the top. It is currently my favorite show and I look forward every week to it airing. The catch is that it is a CBS original, so you have to pay $5.99 a month to watch it (it includes all the other CBS shows as well). Because it is an original the show allows swearing and is not as censored, which is great for covering topics that are controversial. I highly recommend this show if you have an extra $6 a month.

Janelle Monáe’s New Music Video is a Tribute to Vaginas, Feminism, LGBTQ+ AND Unity of all People

By: Korrien A. Hopkins

This week Janelle Monáe dropped a new music video for her single PYNK. This is the third song and video she has dropped from her upcoming third solo album, “Dirty Computer” which is set to release April 27.

The video PYNK hit the web earlier this week, featuring only women dancers.  Directed by Emma Westenberg, the video opens with Janelle Monáe and a line of backup dancers wearing pink leotards and what the internet has been describing as pussy pants.

The entire video is pink of course. But in addition to the pussy pants and pink everything throughout the video you can see underwear with slogans like “Sex cells” and “I grab back” among many other womanist phrases.

In February, Monae dropped two songs and videos. The songs are “Make Me Feel” and “Django Jane”. Both are songs that I absolutely love. “Make Me Feel” pays a clear homage to the legend Prince, reflecting on his 1986 video for “Kiss”. “Django Jane” which features Monae’s nice rap flow, is a song that celebrates the strength, courage and beauty of black women. It celebrates black culture while addressing the trials and tribulations of identity in a modern society.

Monae stated, “PYNK is a brash celebration of creation, self-love, sexuality, and pussy power! PYNK is the color that unites us all, for pink is the color found in the deepest and darkest nook and crannies of humans everywhere.”

So, she not only uses Pynk to celebrate black women but to Its celebrate everyone and unify us all.

Like she said, deep inside we’re all pink.

There were concerns that the pants in the video might not be inclusive of women who don’t have vaginas. Monáe and Thompson quickly to address those concerns. Thompson tweeted, “To all the black girls that need a monologue that don’t have Vaginas, I’m listening.”  Monáe tweeted, “Thank you to the incomparable and brilliant @TessaThompson_x for helping celebrate US (no matter if you have a vagina or not) all around the world! We see you. We celebrate you. I owe you my left arm T. Xx.”

I am extremely excited for this album to release later this month. I am truly pleased with her releases thus far.  I am so happy, proud, and so thankful for Janelle Monae’s artistry and how she uses her platform. She promotes and supports those who choose to live their truths unapologetically and does so herself. For that I will forever support her. <3

Checkout her latest releases here:

Django Jane


Make Me Feel


Oprah Winfrey Shares a Message of Hope and Unity in Her Inspiring and Historical 2018 Golden Globes Lifetime Achievement Award Acceptance Speech

By Korrien Hopkins

This past Golden Globes weekend, Oprah Winfrey received a lifetime achievement award and gave a very moving speech. The actress, producer, and philanthropist presented a message of hope, unity, and optimism in her speech.

She opened with a story reflecting on her childhood when she was a little girl in 1964, watching the Oscars from the linoleum floor of her mother’s house in Milwaukee. She explained how hearing five words that changed history: “The winner is Sidney Poitier,” inspired her to be the person she is today.

“I had never seen a black man being celebrated like that,” she said. “I’ve tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door, bone-tired from cleaning other people’s houses,” she said.

In addition to being the first black man to win Best Actor at the Oscars, he also was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1982. The same award that Oprah was receiving. She also spoke of Recy Taylor, a young black woman who in 1944 had the courage to speak out against her white male rapists. Taylor was of great inspiration to Rosa Parks and many others.

After hearing Oprah Winfrey’s speech, I realized how important it is that we live in our truth as she said. When we follow our heart, despite opposition and fear, we are in turn paving a way for others and inspiring others. We are shaping the future for us all because, when it comes down to it, we are one.  Winfrey’s inclusiveness of men and women in the fight against sexual harassment on all levels was strong and very inspiring. Her speech proclaimed the strength and sisterhood of the women in Hollywood who suffered and spoke out against harassment along with women all around the nation.

“But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace. So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue… Recy’s truth is here with every woman who chooses to say, ‘Me too,’ and every man who chooses to listen,” she said including male allies.

Perhaps her speech was never meant to be anything more than that, but it became a moment where many like myself, saw her presidential potential. People took to social media to express their #Oprah2020 dreams. I’m definitely not opposed to this at all. I think it takes someone who understands life and human connection in a special way to be President. This is what Oprah has shown us throughout her career. She is authentic and relatable, despite her lack of political experience which clearly is needed in today’s world. I think her life experience and amazing wisdom outshines many by far. This is what I believe could evoke a positive change and unity for all of humanity. I think that’s why her Globes speech transcended to the American people far beyond the fancy occasion. She met people in their living room sharing her truth to encourage us to share ours. We also can’t forget her extremely generous nature. Could you imagine her giving out free college tuition and student loan forgiveness in the same way she once gave free things to her audiences on the Oprah Winfrey Show?


“You get free college…. and You get free college….”

“You get loan forgiveness…. and You get loan forgiveness.”

I mean, a girl can only hope and dream. Right?

Oprah’s speech opened my eyes to a brighter future. Whether she runs for president, or just continues to contribute her thoughts of inclusion or shares her story, I’m happy. She continues to inspire me to overcome the many obstacles I face because of my gender and the color of my skin. She shows me that although it’s not easy, it’s possible. And the more we create change for ourselves, we are creating change for others because we are one. So that one day, hopefully sooner than later, young women like myself won’t have these same problems.

“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men — but their time is up. Their time is up!” –Oprah Winfrey

Missed the speech? Watch it here:

Tick, Tock Time’s up for Sexual Violence

By Zaquoya Rogers

Last night at the Golden Globe Awards, Hollywood elite strolled the red carpet in their finest black attire. It was no coincidence that everyone chose to wear black. The choice was very conscious as a show of solidarity and support for the Time’s Up Campaign against sexual harassment.  I first became aware of the campaign from a video on social media about a legal defense fund for sexual assault cases. Interested, I researched more. And what I found, I really loved.

Over 300 actresses, directors and writers including Shonda Rimes and America Ferrera, have launched a campaign to help fight sexual harassment. The Time’s up Campaign raises money to fund legal support for men and women victims of sexual harassment and violence. This in itself is amazing, but what really made me get excited for this campaign was that the target audience for this support is working class men and women. The founders described the effort as “unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere.”

Many cases of sexual violence happen amongst regular working class people who do not have the financial resources to take action against their abuser. Taylor Swift stated in her sexual assault case “I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, society and my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this.”

Time’s Up has raised $13 million out of their $15 million goal. I absolutely support this because I believe that celebrities have a duty to help advocate for issues that many people are fighting for. They have the resources, the power and the following to actually make progress towards positive change.

“Me too”: What’s the real message?

By Kara Lewis

You’ve probably seen a lot of “me too” posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels this week.

In case you missed it, actress Alyssa Milano popularized the movement Sunday night online, tweeting, “Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”  However, it’s important to note that Tarana Burke, a black activist and feminist, actually founded this crusade two years ago (Whew… this could be a whole separate blog post, honestly).

However, despite confusion over the idea’s origins, it quickly caught on: “Me too” trended on nearly every social platform, and The New York Times  and CNN both covered the phenomenon. Milano’s tweet amassed 47,000 comments.

Yet I can’t help but feel conflicted about the message. As powerful as it was to see “me too” flood my Facebook feed, I and many others won’t be joining in posting these words.

Simply put, women shouldn’t have to relive their experiences with assault and harassment to “raise awareness.” We live in a country where the one in five statistic, sometimes upped to one in four—representing how many women will be raped in their lifetimes—is widely known. “Me too” attempted to reveal a huge problem, but let’s be real: This issue hasn’t been hidden. Rather, like the recently exposed sexual assault and harassment perpetuated by Harvey Weinstein, it’s long been an open secret.

In fact, the “me too” cry seems to echo the reasoning of men who say they became more enraged about sexual assault after having a daughter. Yes, it can be shocking and emotional to find out your best friend, family member, former colleague or other Facebook connection survived sexual violence—but that shouldn’t be what it takes to fuel anger and disappointment.

Furthermore, posting “me too” can put the burden on survivors to answer uncomfortable questions, respond to doubts, and mediate family or friends’ devastated reactions.

Though on a small scale, the “me too” trend represents how much of our own energy and emotional labor women put in to combat sexual assault. Who’s supporting and working with us? This time, a like, share, or emoji isn’t enough.

What Issa Rae’s CoverGirl status means to black women

By Korrien Hopkins

Insecure creator and star Issa Rae added a new achievement to her belt of black girl greatness. These last few years have definitely been life-changing for her, from the continuance of her hit show Insecure, to connecting with stars like Oprah, Ava DuVernay, Beyoncé and more. Issa has been gracing red carpets, television, and computer screens. Through all of this success, she paints a beautiful portrait of what it means to accept her awkward black girl magic. She so confidently expresses a different narrative of black sisterhood.

Issa’s come a long way from her award-winning web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, which followed the life of a self-proclaimed awkward black girl named ” J.” Even in this debut project, her characters were definitely relatable and empowering to women. Issa Rae’s work uplifts the beauty of black women, no matter how “awkward” or “insecure” they may be. She represents them with narrative and cinematographic complexity.

Last month, CoverGirl recognized this beauty when it named the writer, actress and singer as its newest celebrity spokesperson.

“I remember being an awkward black girl in high school, reading the pages of my favorite magazines, casually flipping through CoverGirl ads, singing their slogan in my head,” Issa wrote on Instagram.

“In all my awkward, black years I never imagined I’d be a ‪CoverGirl! SO honored & SO excited,” she continued.

Issa joins the astonishing Rihanna, Zendaya, Queen Latifah, and more gorgeous women of color who have collaborated with CoverGirl.

I’m excited to press play on what’s to come from Issa Rae as she continues to redefine beauty, representing women who are often overlooked and underappreciated.

Taylor Swift’s new single and women’s reclamation of stereotypes in media

By Kara Lewis

After a week of cryptic hints on social media, Taylor Swift dropped a new single last week. The song, titled “Look What You Made Me Do,” inspired a debate on Twitter just minutes after its release.

Though it’s fueled by a dance-y, techno beat, Swift’s newest hit has a dark message. She strikes back at the media and at Kanye West, vowing to get revenge.  It also seems to be a response to those who call Swift a “snake”: her video teasers for the song featured an angry, slithering serpent.

Some labelled the song “victim-playing,” while others applauded Swift for owning her infamous reputation. Either way, with lyrics that mention back-stabbing, karma and even Swift’s own death, one theme of the song is clear: the singer isn’t afraid to call herself crazy, or play along with the stereotype. In fact, the role of the villain helps revamp her career. She used the same tactic three years ago to write her single “Blank Space” from the perspective of a heartless, serial dater.

In fact, many famous women have recently used this career move. In her 2016 stand-up special Baby Cobra, comic Ali Wong jokes about trapping men into relationships and marriage, specifically wealthy men. She plays the crazy, gold-digger stereotype, while also ridiculing it. Ironically, the financial success of Baby Cobra and Wong’s show Fresh off the Boat means that she’s far from a gold-digger.

Writer and actress Rachel Bloom also embraces the stereotype of a crazy ex-girlfriend on her show, aptly called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. She plays high-powered New York City lawyer Rebecca Bunch, who spontaneously follows an ex-boyfriend to a small town in California. With over-the-top musical numbers and relatable jokes about social media creeping, Bloom makes us laugh at the crazy ex stereotype, but also approaches it with complexity. She even remarks in the show’s theme song that “crazy ex-girlfriend” is a sexist term.

The recent success of thriller novels like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl shows that people love it when women play the villain. Swift, Wong, Bloom and others are more than happy to oblige, and educate along the way.

Woman with the Pencil, Not the Pencil Skirt

By: Caroline Turner

Why do we notice women in the news for what they are wearing, and men in the news for what they are doing? Why are we more inclined to point out what a women has on than we are a man?

Source: Wiki-images

On Snapchat, pretty much daily, you will see story lines about what various female celebrities are wearing. Do women just dominate the fashion world? No. But why then is what they are wearing what makes them newsworthy? Men are rarely seen in Snapchat stories and media for what they are wearing. Rather, they are mostly mentioned for who they are with or what they are doing. So why is it that we are so focused on capturing, celebrating, and criticizing women for what they wear?

I did a Google search of “media’s focus on female fashion,” and many articles came up that illustrate why focusing on what a woman wears above all else, creates problems in the way they are perceived. The whole first page was full of articles about media coverage on female politicians and scientists. Attention for these women should focus on what they are doing in leadership and research, not on their fashion choices.  But that’s often where the attention goes and what makes the headline or story. The media never treats men this way. Part of the reason there are fewer women than men in these fields is because of this constant focus on what women are wearing, rather than what they are doing. This sends the wrong message to young girls and may discourage them from considering those careers. Focusing on a woman’s appearance devalues her professionally, and can , often to no avail.

When I changed “female” to “male,” in my Google search, what I found confirmed that this was largely a female issue. However, my searches did find that the media pays disproportionate attention to men with regard to sports and their athletic physique, which creates body image issues among young boys.  So maybe men are not being portrayed fairly in the media either; however, the specific focus that the media places on how women look and what they are wearing can be damaging to them professionally and can affect to how they see themselves and assess their own .

So why does the media focus so much on what women are wearing? How did this come to be?

The male gaze, coined by feminist film critic Laura Mulvey in 1975 describes the way in which the visual arts and literature depict the world and women from a masculine point of view, presenting women as objects of male pleasure. An object does not do anything, it is to be looked at. An object is something that we do things to or do things with, but it does not act on its own. Perhaps media outlets have become like Mulvey’s man behind camera. The male gaze through the lens of the media can objectify women and distort how we value them, and this can have dangerous effects.

As media evolves and grows, pictures become stories and videos become GIFs. These narratives that we create in order to understand ourselves and others are becoming more and more embedded into our everyday lives. As media becomes more connected to us through social media, it is important to  become vigilant in recognizing the male gaze in the media so we can rise above its influence and decide for ourselves what is truly newsworthy.