Is This Thing On?

9 Aug

A woman walks up to a microphone. Taps it a few times.

“Is this thing on?” It isn’t. She flips the switch. Feedback squeals.

She says, “Hello?” It echoes through the empty theater. That won’t do.


It’s been a while.

In my last post, “Curtain Call,” I said goodbye to 2000 Irises while I worked on “some new, pretty time-consuming projects.” Three years later, I’m happy to announce that my “projects” have flourished beautifully. I opened a business in digital marketing, and now I spend my days creating content, copywriting, and managing social accounts for businesses and non-profits. I even have an employee. Yep. I went from part-time college professor to business woman in three short years. It’s been quite a ride.

Lately though, 2000 Irises has been calling to me. The topics I was exploring in this blog never stopped being interesting, I just didn’t have the time to keep the blog updated. Nonetheless, there’s still plenty to say, plenty of good examples of feminist pop culture happening, and I’ve got an itch to write about them again. So I’ve decided to take another crack at it and reopen the blog. I’m not promising a post a week, but then, I never really managed that anyway.

So welcome back, and I’ll see you soon with a brand-spanking new blog about Mindy Kaling, who I’ve been dying to write about for three years now. If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch a few episodes of The Mindy Project, and you’ll see why.



Curtain Call

27 Jul

good girls tallulah

Thank you so much for visiting 2000irises! I’m no longer updating this blog. I’ve got some new, pretty time-consuming projects happening, and I have to finally admit I’m just not going to make it back here very often.

In lieu of a new post, allow me to share some of my favorite feminist links.


Feminist Music Geek

Feminist Majority


Adios Barbie

Geek Feminism

Bust Magazine

Bitch Magazine

I’m still available via email and @dcohncomm on twitter. Feel free to contact me.

Be well, brainy women!

Edit — 1/5/13: updated twitter name. (Hi! *waves*)

A Love Letter to Sugar

11 Feb

I keep trying to write about Sugar. It’s far more complicated than I expected. I’ve started this post five separate times, with five separate focuses, each one starting as an ecstatic Ode to Dear Sugar, each one ending as a rough tumble of pathos and oversharing, eventually abandoned. After all, this is a blog about feminism and pop culture, not an online diary. And yet this conflict seems remarkably appropriate for a post about Sugar.

Should you not know Sugar, she writes an anonymous advice column called Dear Sugar for the online culture magazine The Rumpus. Sugar is an experienced writer, someone whose name we may or may not recognize, and her anonymity has been an ongoing source of fascination throughout her tenure writing the column. (Another Sugar wrote the early posts.) Many readers have worked out her identity on their own, and I have my guesses, but I can’t say for sure. Her identity is a source of curiosity in a way Dear Abby’s never was because Sugar’s responses to readers’ questions are so intensely intimate. In offering advice to others, Sugar calls upon the most visceral, painful, joyous, frightening, ugly, blindingly personal elements of her own life. She doesn’t respond to readers’ questions with remote, assumed wisdom. She legitimizes their sorrows and reassures them their fears and struggles are universal by exposing her own devastations and desires. Then, somehow with unwavering compassion, she bitch-slaps them to self-consciousness by insisting the only way through their trials is a willingness to confront their own fucked-upedness.

To me, Sugar is all about wallowing in the muck between the public and the private, the selves we want to be and the selves we are. She demands we recognize the intense energy we devote to preserving our illusions. She insists we grant ourselves the same generosity we offer to others. She forces us to look into the blackest corners of our selves and acknowledge the honest motivations behind our choices. She does this by example.

It doesn’t matter the question she’s answering in any given column. Whatever topic she’s tackling offers some insight into my own chaos, and I’m not alone in that response. That’s part of the huge appeal of Sugar. I cannot always read a Dear Sugar column on the day it’s released. Sometimes I have to save them up because I know I’m in some sort of vulnerable place and that reading her column will destroy me. I have openly sobbed in public after reading Dear Sugar columns. I have printed columns out and kept them in my purse so I can go back to them again and again, rubbing my face against the truth and warmth of them. They’re terrifying. They’re comforting. That’s part of why every time I try to write about Sugar as a force of good in the world, I wind up falling into the mud puddle of my own life. That’s what Sugar does.

Nonetheless, I have felt some urgency to write this post. On February 14th, Sugar’s “coming out.” I’m not exactly sure why his/her/other’s impending revelation makes me want to rush my own love letter to her. I think it has something to do with a fear that once I know who she really is, I’ll react in a more contextual way to her posts. Not that I won’t like that — I may like it very much — but it will change how I feel about Sugar. Her perspective has always been so feminine to me, with all the strength and vulnerability that implies, that should she turn out to actually be male, I’m not sure I’ll feel the same about her writing. I’ll be stinking impressed that he can write with such a voice, but I may not feel the same. Or maybe I will. I’m certain I’ll still love the column, but maybe in a different way. I don’t know.

So Dear Sugar, whoever you are, Thank you. You are wonderful.

If you’d like to check out Sugar’s work, here are a few of my favorite posts:

My first Sugar: The iconic We Are All Savages Inside about facing your envious, fearful self and doing what scares you most.

Tiny Revolutions about self-acceptance.

The Truth That Lives There deals with facing and trusting our ugliest, and most valid, fears about commitment.

And Tiny Beautiful Things, in which she writes a letter to a younger woman.

A Scandal in Belgravia

2 Jan

No worries. I’m not going to spoil anything. I’ll leave the details of “A Scandal in Belgravia” to your speculation, but I will say I seriously lost my cool. My friend G. later described my outburst towards the end of Sherlock as a “primal scream.”

I’ve been on sabbatical here at 2000Irises for a while, but it’s alright because only one of my posts draws much attention. You may have read it. Last February I debuted my little blog with a rant about the way the character of Irene Adler is portrayed in film. If you haven’t read it, I can easily sum it up: Dear Mr. Gatiss, Dear Mr. Moffat, when you recreate “A Scandal in Bohemia” for Season Two of Sherlock, please do a better job than Guy Ritchie did in Sherlock Holmes. Please stay faithful to the Irene Adler as written by Arthur Conan Doyle. Please don’t turn her into a romantic sap who can’t resist Sherlock, or worse, needs rescuing. Please don’t have her on her knees, weeping.

Guess what?

Yeah, that’s exactly what they did.

There is lots to love about Season Two’s first episode: it’s as sharply styled as Season One with excellent character development, humor, snappy dialogue, sexiness, coy nods to ACD’s original stories, and Benedict Cumberbatch sans pants. I even liked Irene for a while. Then the tear. The tear. Oh Jesus, not again.

So there you have it. Discuss. But have pity on most Americans and keep it spoiler-free, please. PBS still isn’t planning to air it until May.

Addendum: If you’d like a far more thorough and very beautifully expressed discussion of some of the more frustrating and offensive elements of Sherlock’s Irene, Vida S. dishes it at Buckish Eloquence and Pick-pocketed Wit. Spoilers aplenty, be warned.

Check out Another Angry Woman‘s thoughts on Irene as well. Feminism-fail. Perfectly said.

Feminist Ryan Gosling

10 Oct

Feminist Ryan Gosling. That is all.

Poet Sharon Bryan at Valparaiso University

6 Sep

While off topic, I’d like to plug an upcoming reading at Valparaiso University by poet and essayist Sharon Bryan. Bryan’s reading is part of Valpo’s Wordfest, which sponsors literary events throughout the year. The reading is at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, September 14th, in the Mueller Hall Commons. Here’s a campus map.

Here’s a little info about the poet:

“Sharon Bryan is a nationally recognized award-winning poet and editor. Her most recent collection, Sharp Stars (BOA, 2009), was awarded the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award for 2009. She is also the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize, the Discovery Prize awarded by The Nation, and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as other literary prizes. She has published three previous poetry collections, Salt Air and Objects of Affection, both with Wesleyan University Press, and Flying Blind with Sarabande Books. She is the co-editor of Planet on the Table: Poets on the Reading Life (Sarabande), and the editor of Where We Stand: Women Poets on Literary Tradition (Norton). Additionally, she has held positions as poet-in-residence and visiting professor at more than 20 colleges and universities, and is currently the Visiting Professor of Poetry at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, in Storrs, Connecticut.”

Note: changed location of reading.

The September Vogue

24 Aug

Last week, coming into our bedroom to fold laundry, my husband picked up the hefty issue of Vogue I’d left on the bed and scornfully tossed it aside. “Why did you buy a magazine with Kate Moss on the cover?” He made no effort to hide his disapproval. Why should he? Every good feminist knows fashion magazines are evil.

“Because I wanted to.”

Apparently this was not the answer he was looking for. He scowled at me. I scowled right back. I mocked his derision. He told me to… well, you get the idea. In the end, we avoided a scuffle, but as he pointed out, I can do whatever I want, but I can’t make him like it.


Every August I face the same dilemma: to buy or not to buy the September Vogue. It’s everywhere, taunting me. It calls to me like free samples of Godiva, like Paul Konerko in tight pants, like an open bar with top-shelf margaritas. I know I shouldn’t and yet… Every August I lose my shit to the fall Vogue.

It’s just so big! So beautiful! So over-the-top glamorous! (The magazine, people.) With cover models swathed in richly hued fabrics, shiny like high-end lip gloss, the September Vogue promises luxury and excess few of us can dream of. That’s the whole point. The September Vogue is all about dreaming. Flipping through its pages, one loses the reality that she has just dropped $4 for a collection of ads, and gains the pretense that she too could spend her days shopping, sipping cocktails with celebrities, and attending charity galas with socialites who are talented and strikingly attractive, but not quite as talented or striking as she.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with fashion magazines, which is why Mr. Irises snarls about them. He’s really just looking out for me. (He’s honestly a very sweet, supportive guy.) But again, it’s my magpie problem – I like shiny, pretty things, and that’s all fashion magazines are. Pretty fluff. Few people read Vogue for the articles (although, at least in Vogue you can expect quality articles, unlike its more salacious counterparts.) Nonetheless, I am aware that when I buy Vogue I’m looking at a magazine which is 90% advertising, promoting products which are at best impractical for most women, and at worst degrading. We all know Vogue offers a very limited vision of what a ‘woman’ can be. I am not thin enough to fit into one single piece of clothing advertised in Vogue, but then, few people are. (Perhaps I could throw one of the photoshoots’ velvet backdrops around my shoulders.) I wear very little makeup. I have never been to Cabo St. Lucas. I’d break my ankles in a pair of Jimmy Choos. But looking at a Vogue, I can pretend, just for a few minutes, that I could stride along the Cabo beach in my Jimmy Choos and Alexander McQueen gown with perfect grace, if I only chose to. (As though I live in small town Indiana because I like cows and corn, not out of necessity.)

For years, knowing Mr. Irises disapproves of such an indulgent, limiting and frankly sexist form of entertainment, I snuck the September Vogue into my house like contraband and looked at it only behind the closed door of my office room. I didn’t like having to defend my interest. Now and then, at other times during the year, I’d have the urge to look through women’s fashion magazines, but I rarely bought them. I could just flip through them in the bookstore. The September Vogue, however, must be purchased. It’s 750+ pages, for heaven’s sake. I can hardly lift it.

Then, a few weeks ago, I saw an old issue of Vogue at my awesome friend Melissa Washburn’s home. (She is responsible for the lovely redesign of my blog. Have a look at her beautiful site featuring her art and design work.) I told her about Mr. Irises’ position, how I never brought women’s fashion magazines home because I didn’t want to debate my odd, decidedly non-feminist affection for them, how I felt guilty for even looking at them. I subscribe to Bitch and Bust. How could I explain the Vogue? She offered up the following point: as long as I am reading with a critical eye, how feminist is it to limit my own enthusiasms based on my husband’s approval?


So this year I carried my 4 lb. September Vogue to the Barnes & Noble counter with pride – not hidden beneath a stack of car magazines like a guy buying a Penthouse. I didn’t even try to hide it from my daughter. (If it’s okay for her to like imaginary dragons, it’s okay for me to like impossible dresses.) And I left it right out in the open, on my bed, where I’d been reading it when the dryer buzzed. And I prepped myself with my non-answer, because I knew he’d ask. Why did I buy it? Because I wanted to. That is feminist enough.

Speaking of Bitch and Bust, I offer Vag Magazine.

A funny, biting send up of pop culture feminist magazines. Produced by The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, this web series gently mocks those magazines’ sometimes vague, strident, crafty, celebrity-heavy, pop-culture feminism. *Hides knitting behind back* Think Portlandia for feminist mags. “Horses are tools of the patriarchy.”


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