Laura Ansley

Can Mental Illness Be Funny?

This essay discusses the plot and characters of the most recent seasons of the TV shows You’re the Worst, Lady Dynamite, and BoJack Horseman. Spoilers ahead! In the era of “Peak TV,” there are many shows that are breaking the mold of what viewers may expect to see on the small screen.1 While in the… Read more →

When Politics Becomes Show Business: Gracie Allen Runs for President

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Radio ratings are slipping for a pair of married comedians. They are looking for a new gag to hook their audience. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the wife — A WOMAN — ran for president?! So started the 1940 presidential campaign of Gracie Allen. Unlike the other… Read more →

“We’ve Got to Get to Work”: John Lewis’s March

Congressman John Lewis is an American hero. As he tweeted on the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, he is the only speaker from that day of legendary oratory still alive. In his twenties, Lewis was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the youngest member of the “Big Six” leaders… Read more →

Nonpartisan Organizing in the Most Divided of Times: The League of Women Voters

Based on the ever-updating polls, this presidential election could be one of the strangest ever. Hillary Clinton has been dogged by allegations about her email practices while Secretary of State, with questions arising about hacking and her public ties to the private Clinton Foundation. Republican Donald Trump has polled at 0% with African American voters… Read more →

A Declaration of Conscience: Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995)

One popular critique of Hillary Clinton, dating back to the beginning of her political career, is that she would never have such success without her husband’s name. Only by riding on his coattails, most recently articulated by everyone’s favorite misogynist Rush Limbaugh, has Clinton become a Senator, Secretary of State, and campaigned twice for the… Read more →

What to Expect When You’re an Expecting Superhero: Spider-Woman Shifts Gears

Like the best action, the new comic Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears, Vol 1: Baby Talk starts in media res. Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman) talks on the phone with her best friend Carol Danvers (AKA Captain Marvel) as they both kick some ass. Carol is off in outer space, so they catch up about Jessica’s pregnancy. Six months… Read more →

Feminist Bodies, Feminist Selves

I have never known a person who was 100% content with everything about their body, 100% of the time. The pressure to be physically perfect — thin and athletic, with flawless skin and hair that conforms to the perfect straightness or curl you prefer — obviously falls especially hard on female-bodied people. I think most… Read more →

“Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Girls and Sex (But Really Need to Ask)”: Peggy Orenstein’s Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape

In American media and pop culture, there is a constant barrage of fear and panic about teens, especially girls, and sexuality. Are kids having sex too young, too frequently, with too little emotional attachment? Is alcohol causing them to make poor or reckless choices when it comes to sex? Why is sexual assault seemingly on… Read more →

A Childless Historian of Children: The Choice Not to Parent

I am a historian of women, sexuality, medicine, and childhood. As I write my dissertation on the history of sex education in Progressive Era America, I am constantly thinking about parenthood, family formation, and how adults try to teach children about sex and reproduction. And I do this work as someone who never plans to… Read more →

Queen Bee

Samantha Bee has been America’s leading late-night feminist comic for over a decade. As the longest serving correspondent in the history of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Bee spent 12 years skewering politics and the media. When she was offered her own development deal with TBS to start a late-night comedy show, I’m sure… Read more →