Pop culture, politics and feminism


Why Lena Dunham's Girls can't represent every woman - and why it shouldn't have to
By Laurie Penny - 04 February 17:51

In mainstream culture, white, straight, middle-class women don’t get to speak about their experience without having it universalised and made meaningless in the process - but black women, poor women and queer women usually don’t get to speak about their e

Why patriarchy fears the scissors: for women, short hair is a political statement
By Laurie Penny - 25 January 12:35

Choosing to behave consciously as if the sexual attention of men is not my top priority has made more of a difference to how my life has turned out than I ever imagined.

Westminster’s casual bullying of women shows how out of touch it is with modern society
By Laurie Penny - 24 January 12:10

When political historians are dusting off the gravestone of Lord Rennard’s Liberal Democrats, I doubt it will read “killed by feminism”.

Pope Francis greets a child in St Peter's Square.
The Pope’s beliefs about abortion will become relevant the day the Pope becomes pregnant
By Laurie Penny - 14 January 17:25

Liberals around the world in shock as Pope revealed to be Catholic, and have strong anti-abortion views.

Sherlock and the Adventure of the Overzealous Fanbase
By Laurie Penny - 12 January 13:02

Whose wankfest is this anyway? The BBC's <em>Sherlock</em> doesn’t just engage with fan fiction - it <em>is</em> fan fiction.

To save a generation from despair, it’s not enough to hassle them into low-paying jobs
By Laurie Penny - 10 January 10:25

The most important political battles are fought on the territory of the imagination. Young and unemployed people need to know: you are more than your inability to find a job.

Five reasons Beyoncé's new album is a multi-faceted thing of awe and wonder
By Laurie Penny - 15 December 16:23

We should be jealous of the ten-year-olds who will grow up to tracks like Beyoncé's "Flawless", when all we had was the Spice Girls' "Wannabe".

On reading, love and loss
By Laurie Penny - 15 December 15:38

The first time my father caught fire, I was nine years old.

It's not harming anyone, so why is Brussels trying to remove my robot cigarette?
By Laurie Penny - 12 December 15:20

You can take my fake smokes from my warm, blood-beating hands.

The Soho raids show us the real problem with sex work isn’t the sex – it’s low-waged work itself
By Laurie Penny - 11 December 13:04

The moral crusade against the sex trade, whether it is pursued by the police or by high-profile feminists who have never done sex work, serves the same function that it has always served, writes Laurie Penny.

The LGBT activist Ira Putilova, who has just been released from the Yarl's Wood
The coalition’s “tougher stance” on immigration is causing cold-blooded tragedy
By Laurie Penny - 10 December 10:56

While the Home Office launches a special “fast-track” service for foreign business leaders wanting to come to the UK, asylum seekers and persecuted activists are treated with contempt.

Miley Cyrus.
Girl trouble: we care about young women as symbols, not as people
By Laurie Penny - 30 November 9:27

For all those knuckle-clutching articles about how girls everywhere are about to pirouette into twerking, puking, self-hating whorishness, we do not actually care about young women.

In defence of bad sex
By Laurie Penny - 20 November 5:09

Half a century after the end of the Chatterley ban, high culture still recoils at the least whiff of smut.

Neil Gaiman interview: "It was much, much more fun being absolutely unknown"
By Laurie Penny - 13 November 12:56

Neil Gaiman is one of the best-known - and best-selling - writers in the world. He just wishes that people would let him get on with writing a bit more.

Laurie Penny: Why I was afraid to take a picture in New York
By Laurie Penny - 07 November 11:55

Power is about who gets to do the watching and who has to put up with being watched.

A discourse on brocialism
By Laurie Penny - 02 November 10:27

On Brand, iconoclasm, and a woman's place in the revolution: a dialogue with Richard Seymour on the question of how to reconcile the fact that people need stirring up with the fact that the people doing the stirring so often fall down when it comes to tre

New Statesman
Today's young women live with constant surveillance. It has to stop
By Laurie Penny - 23 October 21:32

To be a white, middle-class male in this society is to live without a certain sort of scrutiny that people from other demographics grow up expecting. Meanwhile, intimate surveillance creeps into every aspect of young women's lives.

The Miley Cyrus complex - an ontology of slut-shaming
By Laurie Penny - 11 October 8:55

Sexual performance is still the only power this society grants to young women, and it grants it grudgingly, rushing to judge and humiliate them whenever they claim it.

The Sun's frontpage for 7 October 2013. Photo via @SuttonNick on Twitter
The Sun's fearmongering about mental health is what's really monstrous
By Laurie Penny - 07 October 14:22

The paper's frontpage claim that "1,200 killed by mental patients" is misleading - and it exposes exactly the kind of prejudice that implies people with mental health problems are violent, unstable monsters.

New Statesman
Iain Duncan Smith had an epiphany, and it meant nothing
By Laurie Penny - 17 September 10:21

The religious language of sin and shame informs Tory welfare rhetoric, with its pulpit-thumping over "strivers" and "scroungers". But their overhaul has nothing to do with compassion or principle.

A heavily damaged street in the eastern Syrian town of Deir Ezzor
There are too many bodies buried on Britain’s moral high ground
By Laurie Penny - 30 August 16:29

This isn't about Syria. This is, for better or worse, about us - on the left and on the right.

Society needs to get over its harmful obsession with labelling us all girls or boys
By Laurie Penny - 30 August 8:52

Germany has announced legislation to allow parents not to record the gender of their newborn - this is just a small step in the long march to equal rights and recognition for intersex, transsexual and transgender people in Europe.

New Statesman
Extremists chased through London by women dressed as badgers – that makes me proud
By Laurie Penny - 28 August 15:52

But that feeling faded when I saw a drunk woman draped in a St George’s flag dragging an angry pitbull through the police line to scream, “I’m not racist!” in the faces of some bewildered Asian students

In Swedish, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was not known as Some Men Who Hate W
Of course all men don’t hate women. But all men must know they benefit from sexism
By Laurie Penny - 16 August 10:04

Anger is an entirely appropriate response to learning that you’re implicated in a system that oppresses women – but the solution isn’t to direct that anger back at women.

Our news is dominated by people in expensive suits, shouting at each other
By Laurie Penny - 12 August 9:45

When "debating" on TV or radio, caring about the issue at hand is a handicap – because if you care, your opponent can make you angry, and if you get angry, you’ve lost.

New Statesman
What do you do the day after a death threat?
By Laurie Penny - 07 August 16:57

You carry on, writes <strong>Laurie Penny</strong>.

Page 3 models.
It’s page three, not online porn, that is the real threat to young women’s health and happiness
By Laurie Penny - 27 July 10:45

David Cameron is wrong to try and ban pornography online when the casual objectification of women continues as a decoy for vicious xenophobia and social conservatism in the mainstream media.

The babies we don't care about today
By Laurie Penny - 22 July 15:38

Of all future subjects of our new infant overlord, none are more scapegoated than teenage single mums. Let's not forget about them and their children today.

The BBC is colluding in the government’s attack on benefit claimants
By Laurie Penny - 20 July 8:54

The cruellest thing about the benefits cap is not that it could make thousands of people homeless or force more families to depend on food banks (three of these open every week). It’s that it’s not really about people on benefits at all.

Today’s teenagers are smarter, tougher and braver than my generation – and yours, too
By Laurie Penny - 19 July 8:58

Almost every time I speak to teenagers, particularly to young female students who want to talk to me about feminism, I find myself staggered by how much they have read, how creatively they think and how curiously bullshit-resistant they are.