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Fantasy Suites typically involve a lot of innuendo. There are candles, vague discussions about “physical intimacy,” the cheeky moment when the couple closes the door to their suite and, of course, that next-morning shoot where the couple appears messy-haired, wearing robes and coyly grinning about their time together. It’s The Bachelorette‘s equivalent of when people in a PG movie fall onto a bed and the camera pans away to a random lamp as a not-so-subtle wink-wink, nudge-nudge. But even though Fantasy Suites are, in theory, all about sex, we rarely see couples openly talk about what they want, what they like or consent. Sure, there was that ham-fisted attempt during 2017’s season of Bachelor in Paradise when Chris Harrison stepped into the role of consent educator like a substitute teacher who didn’t realize they had signed up to teach sex ed. But overall, discussions like the ones we saw Hannah having with Peter, Tyler C., Jed and *especially* Luke P. have largely been absent from the show—but they are needed.
Farrah Khan, manager of Consent Comes First at Ryerson University and a member of Bachelor Nation since the first season of The Bachelor, says that consent should be a fundamental part of The Bachelor franchise.
“The thing is, we have to bring these conversations into the mainstream, and the way we do that is through pop culture. The way we do that is by using what we have available and what people are watching,” says Khan. She adds that that given the premise of the show, consent should be an essential part of its structure. “You can’t talk about sex and pleasure without talking about consent.”
And unlike Chris Harrison’s lecture on Bachelor in Paradise, Hannah’s Fantasy Suites provided the perfect way to relay those lessons to the masses because rather than telling people about consent, it showed what it looks like in real—relatable—situations.
So let’s get down to it. Here are the essential lessons we learned about consent from Hannah’s Fantasy Suites episode of The Bachelorette:
Lesson 1: Women like sex
Like, duh. That said, watching Hannah be openly excited about having sex with her hotties was a refreshing change for the franchise. Case in point: the infamous windmill. Hannah was unabashedly into the prospect of having sex with Peter, and we are here for it. As Khan points out, Hannah did more than buck stigmas around women’s desire for sex—she also openly discussed pleasure.
“When we talk about the sex, it’s almost the mechanics of it, but [Hannah] was talking about her pleasure,” says Khan, referring to the discussion Hannah had with Tyler C., when she said that she wanted to be held and kissed but wasn’t ready to have sex with him. “She was able to say what she wanted.” And that’s a basic, albeit powerful, thing.
Lesson 2: Use protection
There have been conflicting reports about the availability of condoms in the Fantasy Suites, but as viewers, we would never know because protection hasn’t really been discussed or shown on screen. Enter Hannah: During her Fantasy Suite date with Peter, the Bachelorette found a condom in the windmill they were staying at and grinned. Sure, this was possibly a reference to when she found a condom in his car during their one-on-one hometown date, but still. Safety first, friends!
Lesson 3: You don’t have to have sex on a particular timeline
Hannah and Tyler C. Talk About Respect - The Bachelorette - YouTube
The Bachelor and The Bachelorette operate on a strict and predictable story arc of when the contestants meet, when they meet each other’s families and when they, in theory, have sex. But that chain of events isn’t reflective of how all relationships evolve and unfold. As Khan notes, some people have sex on the first date while others take more time. (Gird your loins because we’re about to talk about *that* date with Tyler C.)
Yes, Hannah and Tyler C. have kept things steamy basically since the beginning of the season. Whether they were oiling each other up in Tyler C.’s hometown or getting couples massages, Hannah noted that “physical intimacy with Tyler is not an issue.” But, when it came to their Fantasy Suite, Hannah slowed things down. “I feel nervous and scared about just how far our physical connection can go when our emotional communication needs to catch up sometimes,” she says. And, spoiler alert, THAT’S TOTALLY FINE. Your relationship, your timeline.
I wasn’t necessarily rooting for Tyler C. before, but after watching his Fantasy Suite date, I am fully #TeamTyler. But, as Khan points out, this reaction to—and Twitter’s unabashed thirst over—Tyler C. respecting Hannah’s wishes is reflective of how much work we still need to do.
“Consent is a low bar,” says Khan. “Yes, I’m really glad that he affirmed that they wouldn’t do anything she wouldn’t want to do and that he respected her boundaries. That’s amazing. But the thing is, it should be like that every time we date somebody—and it shouldn’t be shocking. Yet we’re in a time and we’re in conversations where that is still where we’re at.”
That said, Khan points out that the types of discussions that Hannah was able to have on The Bachelorette can help push these conversations forward. “When we create spaces for women to say what they want and need sexually, and we don’t shame and blame them, then when sexual violence happens, we’re not going to be as apt to say ‘Oh, they were asking for it because they were sexually active’ or ‘They were promiscuous’ or ‘They were acting in a certain way’ or ‘They were wearing certain clothing,'” she says. “I love the fact that [Hannah] was openly invested in her pleasure.” Because pleasure doesn’t always have to mean sex.
Lesson 5: Your body, your choice
Sex Talk - The Bachelorette - YouTube
OK, I can’t put it off any longer. We have to talk about Luke P. (And trust me when I say that I am SO OVER talking about this dud.) Watching Luke P.’s “sex talk” with Hannah was nothing short of infuriating.
“I just want to make sure you’re not going to be, you know, sexually intimate with the other relationships here,” he told Hannah, as if he had *any* say in what she does with her body. And bless Hannah because she schooled this joker. “It’s just that you’re questioning me, that you’re judging me and feel like you have the right to when you don’t at this point,” she says, in a calm and even tone that I completely lacked as I yelled profanities at the TV. That didn’t seem to get through to Luke P., but Hannah spelled it out later. “He has said that he loves me. But then it’s like, ‘No, you don’t if it’s so contingent on if I fit into what is morally acceptable for your wife to be.’ … You don’t own me,” she said during her ITM. At this point, I was literally cheering at the TV.
Lesson 6: “I have had sex…and Jesus still loves me”
A standout moment for Khan was when Hannah said her now infamous line: “I have had sex…and Jesus still loves me.” Growing up in a Catholic-Muslim household, Khan was raised with the idea of abstinence until marriage. She says watching Hannah’s discussion with Luke P. was an important reminder “that you can be connected to your faith and still make choices about your sexual life. And claim your own pleasure.” She adds that it’s a discussion that’s underrepresented in mainstream media so it was meaningful to see it on this platform.
In case there was any confusion on where Hannah stands on her faith and her sex life, she spelled it out again during an ITM.
“If you love me, then you love me. And you love everything about me. You know that there’s flaws about me, but you love me through those flaws. That’s what I want. You’re not going to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do,” said Hannah. “I answer to the Lord. I don’t answer to Luke.” (It’s a stance she’s still having to prove thanks to Luke P.’s insistence on tweeting at her during the episode.)
Lesson 7: Say it with me now: “NO MEANS NO”
Based on the behaviour we’ve seen this season, Luke P. is clearly a guy who is used to getting his way, so it’s no surprise that he didn’t take Hannah’s rejection well. But according to Khan, who has been working in consent education for two decades, a huge part of understanding consent is learning how to deal when things don’t go your way. When she teaches workshops in schools and workplaces, she always talks about the ‘art of rejection’ and how essential this is to consent culture. Even after Hannah tells Luke P. it’s over, he physically refuses to get up and leave, despite her repeated requests that he do so. And in what is possibly the most cringeworthy moment, Luke P. tells Hannah that owes him a minute to share his feelings, to which Hannah rightfully responds, “I don’t owe you anything.”
Luke Won't Leave - The Bachelorette - YouTube
Khan sees this interaction as important lessons in consent and rejection.
“If someone doesn’t want to be with you, it’s not their responsibility to make you feel better,” she says, referring to Luke P.’s inability to process Hannah’s request that he leave the show. “Luke expected Hannah to take care of his feelings after she stated what she needed, and that’s not her responsibility.”
So let’s say it once again, louder for the people in the back: NO MEANS NO.
After watching Hannah’s Fantasy Suite dates, Khan says this is the type of material she could use in her courses because, for once, what we saw on The Bachelorette actually provided a good example of consent culture. “It always helps me when these consent conversations happen on pop-culture shows because then I’m able to be like, ‘Do you want to be a Luke or a Tyler?’”
Last night felt like the empowering sequel to Kaitlyn Bristowe’s sex-shaming scandal on Season 11—where Hannah was able to defend her right to do what she wants with her body, and while on her own season. Kaitlyn never had that opportunity because she was never confronted about her choices on camera—rather, the trolls took to Twitter. Perhaps the difference is one of the one thing for which we have Luke P. to thank. His judgmental tirade on sexual purity in last night’s episode allowed Hannah the chance to show the world something that we rarely get to see: How a woman who identifies as deeply religious is not a hypocrite—nor promiscuous—for exploring her physical connection with someone she cares for. For a topic typically seen as stark black and white, I for one appreciate the many shades of grey.
Luke P. has every right to want a woman who shares his precise value system. If abstaining from premarital sex is something he prioritizes as highly as he claims to, and is something he himself commits to and follows through on, that is his prerogative. However, there are right and wrong places to seek that out—the man is on The Bachelorette, for Pete’s sake. While Hannah does appear to share many of his beliefs and they clearly bond over that connection, she has shown a great deal of comfort with her sexuality. She’s spent most of her life participating in pageants at a high level, she went on The Bachelor and the country has known for a while that she’s not a virgin. Hannah and Luke P. may have connected to the degree they have because of their faith, but it’s not like they met at church. It just seems like such a huge leap for him to have assumed she’d view sex through the very specific, very narrow lens he views it, given the circumstances of their meeting. In other words, if that’s indeed what he’s looking for, he’s sure as hell going about it wrong.
Moreover, if sex is the sacred thing Luke P. appears to believe it is, he’s a hypocrite: Luke P. admitted to having “chased sex” in the past, while Hannah revealed she truly thought she might marry the two men she’d ever slept with. The double standard here is astounding to me. He was a player who admits to having “taken advantage” of his looks. Yet, because of some born-again moment, he now has the right to cast shame and judgement on Hannah, who has been reasonably and dedicatedly committed to her beliefs for far longer?
But the real kicker is that, every step of the way, and in his judgement of what he deems “sinful,” Luke P. executed this conversation with a flurry of his own “sinful” behaviour.
First, Luke P. claims several times throughout the day he loves Hannah, yet in the evening gives her a clear threat: If she’d had sex with any other guy there, he’d leave. Pretty rich for a contestant on The Bachelorette… and isn’t jealousy a sin? Now, if you truly love someone, you don’t threaten them. (Threatening has to be a sin.) Further, as Hannah said, he couldn’t possibly love her if he’d so easily scrap their relationship for such a reason (a topic they hadn’t even discussed!), so he had to have been lying one way or another. (Is lying not a sin?) Luke P. then backpedals, saying he’d be “willing” to work through things if she’d had sex. In this, he proves his threat was an empty one, nothing but an ultimatum to assert control over her and her body), to shame her (judgment = sin) and, as Hannah pointed out, to bolster his pride. (We know pride is a sin.) As Hannah becomes progressively angrier, Luke P. goes back to his favourite angle: playing victim and saying he’s been misunderstood. (Gaslighting should be a sin of the highest order.) As Hannah asks him to leave, Luke P. grasps for straws to change her mind. Instead of opting for the only reasonable recourse—apologizing profusely and asking for forgiveness—he instead suggests she owes it to him to hear her out (manipulation at its finest). At the dreaded black van, he tells Hannah that though she “thinks” she has clarity, she’s “wrong”. (More sinful gaslighting.) Before climbing into the van, he goes as low as it gets, asking her if he can “pray for her,” intentionally using her faith—the very thing that bonded them—against her. (I don’t even know what to call that but it has to be a sin.) Finally, based on the previews, he returns (amazingly, to give Hannah another chance!), showing a clear lack of respect for her and her decision-making. This is toxic masculinity at its finest—he values his own feelings over hers, doesn’t take her at her word, doesn’t respect that no means no. For all his Holier Than Thou antics, Luke P. regularly conducts himself with a veritable cocktail of the least “Christian” traits imaginable.
Something that I think bears reminding is that, in this scenario, Hannah wields the power. Luke P. approaches every topic and concern with an aggression that suggests—and often with plain wordage that claims—he’s the one auditioningher. He’d be the one continuing to explore their relationship, he’d be “willing” to work through her transgressions. It is painfully clear by his language that he sees himself as God’s gift and any woman showing interest in him is at his mercy. It’s only when Hannah asserts her position of dominance that he backpedals and claims he’s been misunderstood. It proves how empty his threats are, which is fine and well unto this unique circumstance where he can be put in his place. But what gives me chills is imagining Luke P. in a real life relationship, where there is no threat to him, where he doesn’t need to backpedal to stay alive. How would he treat his girlfriend, fiancée, wife? How would this woman stand up for herself, withstand his endless, varied attacks, without the trump card of being the Bachelorette?
Here are predictions for the final two based on The Bachelorette episode ten…
1. Jed, 25
Whether you love or hate Jed, there is no denying that Hannah adores him. Hannah has stars in her eyes for him, stars that don’t twinkle quite as bright when she looks at either Tyler C. or Peter. While I typically don’t think a contestant should use up their precious 1-on-1 time to speak ill of another contestant, I believe Jed’s concerns about Luke P. came from a sincere place of love and concern. (If Jed were truly there for the Wrong Reasons, it would have been a hell of a lot easier to have just kept his mouth shut over Luke P. and continued on his merry way towards the finale.) It’s also worth mentioning that when Luke P.’s antics affected Jed the most—while they were still forced to live together—Jed kept his mouth shut. It’s only now, now that he’s as invested in Hannah as he is, that he’s said something. THIS is what it looks like to warn a lead about a contestant; it’s not to whine to Hannah about someone who sucks to live with, but rather to genuinely warn her about the man as a potential partner. On this front, I really respect both how and when Jed decided to speak up. I do think he went a bit too far, however, in saying, “when I feel worried I feel like I retract how I feel.” This sounds mildly threatening, like a faint ultimatum unto itself. It was how this date wrapped, however, that has me thinking Jed will be the last man standing. They solved their dispute quickly—he went after her, apologized, and they swiftly patched things up—and their time in bed the following morning was the stuff of romance novels. Hannah is completely smitten with Jed and he isn’t going anywhere.
2. Peter, 27
I confess that, going into this week, I was pretty sure Peter would be the one going home after overnights. It felt like her relationship with him was a bit slower and a bit behind, like she saw him as more boyfriend material than future husband material. However, their Fantasy Suite date was next level. Not only did Peter drop the long-awaited L-bomb (right on schedule!), the two possess a mutual understanding and clear, cerebral connection while still having FUN together, plain and simple. To top it all off, we now know Peter is the Windmill man, the man with whom she “did it twice.” It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it had to have been a good time.
Going home next week…
3. Tyler C., 25
It’s been a long time since the final three felt like this much of a toss-up. It honestly feels like Hannah could pick—and end up very happy—with any one of these men. I really like Tyler C. and he’s been a favourite of mine (and it would seem many of you) all season. And while it sounds like Tyler C. was ultra-respectful and a total gentleman with her on their overnight date (THIS is what it looks like for a man to respect a woman’s decisions), I still feel like the connection is not quite on the level of the other two guys. Both Jed and Peter appear to challenge Hannah, while Tyler C. challenges her more in the sense that she has to implore him to open up, to connect with her on a deeper level. I really admire how Hannah used their private time just to talk—it shows how seriously she’s taking him and their relationship by doing this. But the fact that she felt the need to do this when all the time they’ve had together so far was to do just that—talk—stands out to me. They may be on similar wavelengths, but it’s not airtight.
While skincare at the drugstore can appear more limited than big box stores, there are some serious skin-saving gems in that aisle. From cleansers and eye masks to moisturizers, these are the best drugstore skincare picks. (And check out our picks for the best drugstore makeup and the best drugstore sunscreens.)
The Absolute Best Drugstore Skincare
While skincare at the drugstore can appear more limited than big box stores, there are some serious skin-saving gems in that aisle. From cleansers and eye masks to moisturizers, these are the best drugstore skincare picks. (And check out our picks for the best drugstore makeup and the best drugstore sunscreens.)
“In the past year, my mild rosacea went bananas. While I waited for a dermatologist appointment, I bought this soothing cleanser based on rave reviews, and I’ve been super happy with the results.” —Maureen Halushak, editor-in-chief, Chatelaine
Since at least 2012, some fans of the James Bond/007 franchise have been calling for Idris Elba to replace Daniel Craig, which would make Elba the first Black Bond. And finally they have their answer: No. But we might be getting something better.
On July 13, The Daily Mail reported that British actress Lashana Lynch is rumoured to be taking over the “007” designation in the upcoming Bond 25 film. Craig will still reprise his role as the infamous spy, but since Bond left MI6 in the previous film, his codename will have been given to Lynch’s character. Meaning we’ll finally have a Black female spy, y’all!
Wow. Lashana Lynch is the next 007. She’s not playing Bond, but will take over the code name. Brava, Phoebe Waller-Bridge for ushering in a new era where WoC can lead a spy series, like Sandra Oh in #KillingEve. H/t @iamlaurenphttps://t.co/qcSpMHF2zR
While Lynch’s rumoured casting isn’t necessarily the 007 we asked for, it’s actually better. By casting her in a role that isn’t the iconic and coveted Bond, the powers that be have not only avoided trying to squeeze Lynch into a pre-defined role but have also made room for her—and other female actors who come after—to create her own character and story. Bond is tired. A new, female 007 who can lead the franchise moving forward? That’s inspired.
We’ve tried the whole pink-washing thing before—to varying success
The decision to cast Lynch in Bond 25 comes in the wake of a series of female-led remakes over the past few years. In 2016, the world was re-introduced to Ghostbusters. Helmed by an all-female cast of comedians, including Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon and Kristen Wiig, the remake of the ’80s classic was exciting but had tepid box-office success. In 2018, Sandra Bullock and a bevy of A-list female celebs (including Rihanna!) graced us with an Ocean’s 11 reboot and the greatest red-carpet looks of all time. And also in 2018, it was announced that there would be a 21 Jump Street reboot with the main characters swapped out for two female detectives.
Criticism aside, without these films, we might not have female-focused original movies like Wonder Woman. As Kimberlee McTaggart, a director and editor and the chair of Women in Film and Television’s Atlantic chapter, told FLARE in June 2018: “In the last few years, there’s been a real appetite for female-driven films, both on-screen and behind the camera, and I think Hollywood wants to do that, and their way of kind of inching their way in is doing the reboots, the remakes, doing it that way.” While McTaggart recognized that Ghostbusters and Ocean’s 8 were a “quick fix,” they are at least a step. “Will it end there?” she asked. “I don’t think so. I think we’ll just build upon that.”
Changing up 007 helps create new stories and opportunities for women
And to a degree, that’s what the casting of Lynch is—a step forward. In an era of remakes and attempting to shoehorn feminist narratives into already existing films (here’s looking at you, Aladdin), it’s refreshing to see original characters and storylines incorporated into existing stories in an organic way. Even more exciting is seeing characters written explicitly *for* women and not just added as an afterthought or dropped in as the alternative to men.
This is something that the minds behind Bond may have been thinking of for a while. In October 2018, executive producer Barbara Broccoli told The Guardian: “Bond is male. He’s a male character. He was written as a male and I think he’ll probably stay as a male. And that’s fine. We don’t have to turn male characters into women. Let’s just create more female characters and make the story fit those female characters.” Amen to that.
And from a broader perspective, the casting of a female 007 helps show young women that they can find success in high-level roles.
And it helps us leave old tropes—and our attachment to them—behind
Not only are these characters sexualized, they’re also seriously infantilized. Can we please address the fact that, despite being full-grown women, Bond’s love interests are referred to as “Bond girls?” Even the one-and-only Mrs. Bond, played by Diana Rigg in the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, is referred to as a “spunky Bond girl.”
And it’s hard to break out of the mould, although the franchise has tried. In 2006, Casino Royale featured Craig’s Bond opposite actress Eva Green as Vesper Lynd. While she was billed as a Bond girl, Green’s Lynd was atypical in that she was a double agent, going against Bond in order to save her kidnapped lover. But, in typical Bond fashion, the pair end up falling in love, and then Lynd sacrifices herself to save him and drowns. So, same old, same old.
With these clearly defined roles, it’s not hard to believe that fans would be unwilling to accept anything but the norm. Which is why the casting of Lynch as 007 works perfectly.
By casting her as a new character rather than that of Bond, the franchise eliminates the potential for direct comparison of—or competition between—the two, instead giving longtime fans something that they can come to love without feeling like it’s a direct attack on or in opposition to their fave character. And in creating a strong new female character—one who we will go ahead and assume is, as a spy, intelligent AF—we can, in essence, just let the idea of the Bond girl die (and stay dead).
But some people are still a *little* hesitant
As great as this new shake-up in Bond’s world sounds—and it does sound really great—some critics are the teeniest bit hesitant. Because, as history has shown, old habits die hard; it can be difficult not to revert back to the usual way of doing things, especially when the usual way has become comfortable and we know it works. In the case of Lynch and the Bond franchise, it would be more than easy for Lynch’s character to fall into the trap of being the typical Bond girl.
All the power to women like Halle Berry, Eva Green and Diana Rigg, who all played seminal Bond leading ladies, but that’s not what we want for Lynch. Her casting as 007 is a groundbreaking moment, not a surf-emerging one. But, frankly, we wouldn’t put it past the Hollywood bigwigs to indulge the fervour and desire for a Black Bond by casting Lynch and then completely subvert her character to become another sexualized sidekick who dies at the end. (Because Bond, a man of mystery, can’t be tied down by matters of the heart.)
The Lashana Lynch is 007 news is great, but I do wonder if people celebrating aren't forgetting that she will inevitably have to be somehow removed before the end of the film so that Craig can be given back the number. I mean, how many times has Bond been stripped of rank before?
As journalist Noah Berlatsky notes in a July 15 op-ed for The Guardian, while casting Black female actors as legacy characters is a great first step towards rectifying the racism and sexism inherent in both society and the movie industry, it’s very easy to write these characters badly, especially in comparison to their white counterparts. “Black women also need to be written with respect,” Berlatsky writes. “They have to be presented as natural, worthy heroes who deserve to wear the cowl or cape or tux in question. Otherwise, the new hero just becomes another way to demonstrate that the real, worthy hero is the white guy.” Berlatsky points to the Marvel franchise and tv show The Vampire Diaries, in which characters of colour are often not given the development they deserve. “The difficulty with changing legacy characters is that the original is generally seen as the iconic version, and successors are temporary and secondary. As a result, the non-white or non-male versions of the character can be treated as afterthoughts or sidekicks or as mistakes to be quietly pushed from centre stage,” says Berlatsky.
So, he’s not super optimistic about Lynch’s character because her mission–as far as we know—is to bring Craig’s Bond out of retirement, which suggests, says Berlatsky, that the “white, male Bond is still considered the best of the best, with Lynch relegated to a supporting role.”
We’re a little more optimistic—with a smart and strong woman like Fleabag‘s Phoebe Waller-Bridge writing the script, we have to be. Here’s hoping that the newest Bond film signals a much needed shift in film—and maybe an appearance from *that* jumpsuit. Tbh, it would be the perfect thing to wear while kicking some serious bad-guy ass.
The protesters hadn’t shown up yet when I walked into the first screening of Unplanned at the one Toronto theatre showing it. Death threats directed at a B.C. theatre had resulted in it cancelling screenings. In Toronto, more security hovered than usual; two staff members hung around in the theatre as the movie played and the audience of 50 or so gasped and murmured on calculated cue.
If you’d told me a year ago I’d be sitting in a Cineplex, watching an anti-abortion movie made by an American producer of low-budget evangelical Christian flicks as necessary background for covering Canadian politics, I wouldn’t have believed it. But here we are. Let that sink in.
The movie, based on Abby Johnson’s 2011 memoir of the same title, chronicles the conversion of a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas, from feminist pro-choice champion to zealous anti-choice advocate; Johnson is now a bestselling author, speaker and celebrity in the conservative Christian movement.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is a fan; in April, he tweeted “More & more Americans are embracing the sanctity of life because of powerful stories like this one.” Johnson and Ashley Bratcher, the actress who plays her in the movie, were star attractions at the “March for Life” rally in Ottawa last spring, an event attended by numerous Conservative MPs.
The movie received an R rating in the U.S. In Canada, it’s rated 14+, and comes with a “Gory scenes, disturbing content” warning that presumably refers to the blood pooling on floors and embryos on display. “Abortion isn’t pretty,” Johnson’s character says at one point. That’s true; few medical procedures are. Nor do other procedures raise the complex questions or emotions that abortion does. Even those who support a women’s right to control her body and reproductive health, and who don’t believe women should be forced to give birth, can grapple with the fact that the procedure extinguishes a potential human life. The question then becomes: “Whose life and whose choice do we value more as a society? The fetus or the woman on whom it depends?”
Such queries aren’t pondered in Unplanned, a movie whose disturbing content has less to do with gore than its stealthy scare-mongering and misinformation about abortion that could put women’s health at risk. Its fetus-first message is unrolled slowly in a friendly, made-for-TV-movie format that introduces Johnson as a likeable, smart, pro-choice woman who eloquently defends working at Planned Parenthood to her Christian anti-abortion parents. Threaded throughout is the message that abortion is scary and unsafe, and its providers callous opportunists. (In one scene a girl is left bleeding out in a hall, then given drugs so she won’t remember; in another a doctor says “Beam me up Scotty!” when a fetus is evacuated.) In reality, the risks associated with the procedure performed by specialists are far less than giving birth.
Planned Parenthood is portrayed as a greedy, profit-driven abortion factory. Johnson relates having to sell the procedure like “timeshares.” Yet abortions comprise only 3.4 percent of the non-profit’s activities, according to its most recent annual report. Glossed over is the organization’s vital work providing reproductive and sexual health treatments, including birth control counselling, Pap tests, breast exams, and STD screenings.
Johnson’s boss is presented as a cartoonish Cruella De Vil who refuses to call an ambulance for a girl whose uterus is perforated, fearing PR fall-out (major complications in first-trimester abortions are rare, occurring at a rate of less than half a per cent). The same boss threatens Johnson with the absurd boast that Planned Parenthood is “one of the most powerful organizations on the planet,” whose donors include “Soros, Gates and Buffett.” (Planned Parenthood has refuted its depiction in a statement that, in part, says the movie “promotes many falsehoods including most importantly, distortions and incorrect depictions about healthcare.”)
But Unplanned also contains something I didn’t expect: revelations that inadvertently reinforce the vital importance of choice, though it’s unlikely many viewers will see them. Johnson’s “powerful” story hinges on the very access to abortion she now wants to deny women: she had two abortions at junctures in her life where she was unprepared to carry or raise a child—one while in university, the second after she’d left a “fiasco” first marriage to a no-good guy. (A grisly five-minute scene depicts the aftermath of her taking an abortion pill, typically a safe method. She’s shown haemorrhaging and almost dying by her account accompanied by ominous music.)
Johnson’s life-altering “revelation” occurred when she was assisting an ultrasound-guided abortion, the first procedure she observed in eight years at Planned Parenthood. The scene reveals how we choose what we see, and what we want to believe. Absent of any medical training and contrary to all scientific evidence, Johnson concludes that the 13-week fetus on the screen is consciously recoiling from the cannula, and fighting for its life.
Within days, Johnson allies with the anti-abortion advocates who congregate outside the clinic—not the ones threatening women and telling them “You should have kept your legs closed,” but the nicer, Christian couple who pray at the gate. They’re the side that’s “pro-woman,” and “pro-human-rights,” Johnson concludes, rhetoric that dovetails with messaging now used by the anti-abortion movement. The movie doesn’t follow through on what this compassionate treatment of pregnant women looks like, however. In one scene, the newly-converted Johnson confronts a terrified girl entering the clinic and convinces her not to have an abortion, offering to be there for her “at every step of the way.” It’s the last that girl is seen.
The movie also reveals that Johnson’s crisis of conscience was a long process involving far more than presumed fetal sentience. For close to a decade, her parents and second husband disapproved of her work. (Why a woman who worked at Planned Parenthood was with an anti-choice guy is one the movie’s unanswered questions.) She expresses a disconnect between her growing religious faith and a job her husband repeatedly asks her to quit. The movie also shows her terror after the 2009 murder of Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider in Kansas fatally shot in the head by a “pro-life” activist while attending church. Johnson, once a Planned Parenthood “employee of the year” was also having conflicts at work, including a disciplinary action taken against her. The veracity and details of Johnson’s story have long been disputed, including whether there even was an abortion at the clinic on the day she described it. (Johnson responded recently; the author of the original piece countered.) In her memoir, Johnson describes the woman undergoing the surgical abortion that day as African American; in the movie, she’s portrayed as young, white, and teary-eyed. Then again, almost everyone in this movie is white and good-looking, giving it a disconcertingly anodyne quality.
The movie’s portrayal of life inside an busy abortion provider, which includes showing the harassment women experience when trying to enter, also serves as a reminder of how depictions of a common medical procedure remain taboo in mainstream entertainment; movies that deal with abortion in a realistic, non-judgemental way, such as Obvious Child, are celebrated as an exception.
Johnson’s conversion story is hardly the first. Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Doe” in Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision now under attack, became a devout Roman Catholic anti-abortion activist later in life. She changed her mind, as is allowed in a society that allows choice.
Nearly 50 years later, Johnson’s story has far more political utility. Many U.S. states are poised to enact legislation that accord more rights to the fetus than to the woman who carries it; a decade ago, states introduced fetal-pain laws despite a lack of evidence of fetal pain; the consequences were horrific for some women. More recently, “fetal heartbeat” laws ban abortion before many woman even know they’re pregnant. Alabama recently voted to ban abortion even in pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. In Georgia, women face 30 years in jail for having a miscarriage. Texas is so “pro-life” it’s considering the death penalty for women who get abortions.
Planned Parenthood has been a Trump target for years. Last month, the president saw a victory when a federal court ruled the government can deny federal funding to non-profit and other family planning organizations that also provide abortions or referrals for them. Abortion rights advocates now fear thousands of low-income Americans will lose access to reproductive health care.
North of the border, Unplanned has revealed solidarity for reproductive rights, with protests and Cineplex boycotts planned. It also has exposed an emboldened political contingent that wants to restrict them, seen at the “March for Life” Ottawa rally. The anti-abortion lobby Campaign Life Coalition, chronicled the political presence; a press conference it hosted in the Parliamentary press gallery was attended by Abby Johnson, along with Conservative MPs Arnold Viersen, Brad Trost and Bev Shipley. Ten Conservative MPs and Senator Norman Doyle, attended the rally at which Johnson spoke.
At the time, Trost stoked controversy by claiming Canadians were being denied access to the movie. That’s false; the movie simply needed a Canadian distributor, which arrived in the form of Fredericton-based Cinedicom, run by B.J. McKelvie, a pastor.
Chatter surrounding the movie has also allowed for corrections to common abortion myths. Trost was corrected after he said there are no rules governing abortion in Canada in a tweet: “Canada, we have ZERO protections for our babies, so the need for this film to be shown across the country is crucial.” That’s not true. Since abortion was decriminalized in 1988, it has been treated like any other health service in Canada, governed by provinces and, yes, rules. Each provider can impose a gestational limit as a part of their practice depending on their training and the facilities available to them. Currently, no abortion provider in Canada is listed offering the procedure past 23 weeks and 6 days.
There’s a reason major party leaders say that they’re not going to reopen the abortion debate. It’s political poison. The fact Cineplex elected to show the movie on only 14 of its 1,700 screens for one week only, also reflects the limited market for Unplanned’s message. (It’s also showing at other theatres for a total of 56 screens.)
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, like Stephen Harper before him, has followed suit, with the proviso that he won’t prevent MPs from raising the issue, again evoking “freedom of speech.” Yet at its annual meeting in Halifax last year, the party voted for the first time on deleting the 2014 motion dictating that the party will not legislate on abortion; it was defeated by a narrow margin. In May, when the House of Commons gave a standing ovation for reproductive rights, the Conservatives didn’t participate. Predictably, the Liberals are making political hay with the issue.
Abortion rights groups have also seized upon the screenings to draw attention to the fact that unequal access to abortion persists in Canada. Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, an Ottawa-based charity, is participating in the public conversation about the movie despite its limited release, Frédérique Chabot, the organization’s director of health education, told me. “It’s not benign to show movies that present inaccurate health information as fact, and overtly use emotional manipulation to inform people’s opinion on a real medical procedure that is often politically threatened.”
Action Canada is also using the movie’s release to fundraise; it’s asking for a $12 donation—the price of a ticket—in every community where Unplanned is being shown to help fund travel and accommodation for women who have difficulty obtaining access to abortion. “Most providers are in urban centres,” Chabot says. “Women outside of those big cities are forced to travel hundreds if not thousands of kilometres to access a provider. For some people, it means they don’t have a choice.” In May, it was reported that dozens of Canadian women travel to the U.S. annually to obtain abortions paid for by provinces; thus, the restrictions in that country will affect women here.
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada has called Unplanned “a dangerous piece of anti-abortion propaganda that “could incite fanatics to commit acts of harassment or violence against clinics or doctors.” Toward the movie’s end, Johnson’s character actually encourages protests outside clinics when she shares a “deep, dark secret” that Planned Parenthood doesn’t want people to know about with her new allies—and the audience: that seeing protestors outside clinics results in high no-shows of women seeking an abortion, a statement that has been disputed. The underlying assumption here is that these women will forfeit getting an abortion; more likely, they’ll seek abortion from a less safe provider. At movie’s end, there’s a plug for Johnson’s organization “And Then There Were None,” which helps abortion workers leave their jobs, as if escaping a hostage situation. It has helped 500 workers to leave what it describes as “the abortion industry,” the message states, with a phone number to call.
Just before that, the movie’s final scene is set at Johnson’s old Planned Parenthood clinic after it’s closed (the clinic was actually shuttered in 2013 in state-wide legislation-induced closures.) So much for it being “one of the most powerful organizations on the planet.” A construction worker wearing a hardhat with an American flag sticker on it bulldozes the sign down, as the crowd cheers: “I’ve been waiting for this my whole life,” he shouts. Johnson delivers a tearful speech expressing regret about the abortions she enabled, and herself had on the “altar of convenience.”
Nowhere is there any recognition that the life Johnson now treasures—the devoted anti-choice husband, the adorable daughter, the public profile as an anti-abortion crusader who’s a political asset on both sides of the border—stemmed from her ability to access abortion, not once but twice. And without her ability make that choice, ironically, there would be no over-hyped movie to remind us that it can’t be taken for granted.
While I’ve had my Blossom hat and beret phases, one chapeau I’ve never had much of an affinity for is the baseball cap. Perhaps I’ve always thought them too humble for my maximalist leanings, and maybe I also didn’t want to give the impression that I was in any way the sporty type—because I am tragically nowhere close. Whatever the cause, they’ve long occupied the functional, not fashionable category in my mind.
That changed when I received a cute one from Lacoste to celebrate their Keith Haring collaboration; Haring is one of my favourite artists and I thought, hey, if I was going to take a baseball hat for a spin this was the time. Boasting a stitched version of the artist’s iconic Dancing Dog character, this was a special enough item that I didn’t want to merely treat it like the alternative to dry shampoo that for many years I had typecast baseball caps as. Instead, I was committed to wearing one as a proper accessory—and lately, I’m not the only one who’s treating caps as their crowning glory.
From Gigi Hadid to Lena Waithe and Rihanna, the baseball cap has become an It piece, boasting not only fashion house logos but quirky embroidery and other chic-ifying design details. Because they come in such an array of styles, like the structured six panel to the sloped dad hat, there’s basically a baseball cap to suit any aesthetic. These elements have helped elevate them from being a simple sporty staple—although there’s no denying where the style set’s adoption of baseball caps as accessory began: “I feel like it started with the whole athleisure movement a couple of years ago,” says Gravity Pope brand manager Kalie Johnston. “[And] it’s slowly been morphing into something that you can even wear to work.”
Gravity Pope’s selection of caps ranges from workwear brands like Carhartt to more fashion-forward labels like A.P.C. and Stephan Schneider, who’s taking a very holistic approach to his offering. “He’s using collection fabrics to make baseball hats, so you can order any fabric from the collection in a baseball cap,” says Johnston. When I note that this is quite a sustainable idea, Johnston agrees. “I think that’s part of why designers are going down this path,” she says. “It’s a great way to tell that story, use up some scraps of fabric that don’t have uses otherwise because they’re small patterns to make a hat.”
In the case of the baseball cap, though, a little indeed goes a long way. Johnston mentions something else about baseball hats that I’ve come to appreciate as well. Now that I rock a cap once and a while, I’ve started noticing how other women style theirs; I’ve spied them worn with slouchy suits, floral frocks, and Kim Kardashian wears one with an LDB and outsized fuzzy coats (while her husband has regrettably been known to opt for a MAGA cap, himself).
It’s likely Kardashian and her fellow influencers wear baseball caps to keep a modicum of anonymity, too, but it seems as though they’re becoming more of an eye-catcher than something to hide away under. “Now girls have their long, luxurious hair coming out with highlights and stuff—it almost calls attention to your hair rather than hiding it,” says Johnston, adding that this is a far cry from a cap’s other role as the lazy solution to looking half-way presentable. Noting that she enjoys their functionality while biking because they keep her bangs in place, Johnston says she’s come to appreciate the baseball cap’s versatility and vibe. “I also really like them for day-to-day outfits because they kind of make me feel a little tougher and cooler.”
But the company behind Kate’s choice of heels was nearly missed. It turns out she had a little bit of Canada with her at the tennis championships!
The Duchess of Cambridge was sporting Aldo Nicholes heels at the men’s singles final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, and she had them on while handing the championship trophy to Novak and the runner-up plate to Roger.
The shoes are suede block heels with an ankle strap, and Kate was wearing them in “bone” colour. Getting them is also pretty easy, since they retail for $85 on Aldo’s website and you can also pick them up at your local Aldo store.
Kate is known for her love of Canadian designers and has helped shine a light on some of the best fashion has to offer here since she married William in 2011. One of her go-to brands includes Erdem, which she wore on her first royal tour of Canada in 2011. Just this past May, she also wore an Erdem dress at the opening of her Back to Nature garden at the Chelsea Flower Show.
The duchess is also well known for her love of Sentaler, which she wore when she and William were in the Yukon in 2016. Both Erdem and Sentaler are also loved by Duchess Meghan.
Aldo is sure to receive a major sales bump from “The Kate Effect”!
In late May, MTV’s long-running reality dating show Are You the One? announced that its upcoming season would be coming back with an importance difference: all of this season’s contestants are sexually fluid, meaning that there are no gender limitations on who “the one” could be.
In the trailer for the show’s eighth season of Are You the One?—which is now airing every Wednesday on MTV—one of the contestants giddily says, “I love love. I love it, I love it, I love it.” It’s a refrain we often hear on The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and any of Bach Nation’s spinoffs—except when it’s said on Are You the One?, this line feels more meaningful because it speaks to love in all its forms, not just between a cis-heterosexual man and woman.
Are You The One? Season 8 Cast on Making TV History, How To Be An Ally & More | MTV - YouTube
MTV’s decision to make the reality show, which first aired in 2014, more sexually inclusive only further highlights that a) audiences want to see their IRL experience reflected on shows that are *supposed* to be based in reality and b) that The Bachelor, Bachelorette and its spinoff franchises are waaay behind the times, and super heteronormative. And this is a long-standing problem.
People have long been calling out The Bachelor franchise for being closed-minded
It feels like for as long as The Bachelor has been on TV (i.e. 37 seasons and counting), it’s been problematic and outdated AF. The whole concept of the show—that 25 women would compete over one mediocre (white) man, giving up their lives and careers for two months to pretty much take part in a prolonged fashion show and soap opera, all for the prize of an engagement with a man they barely know—seems pretty archaic.
Aside from rumours and comments around the sexuality of Season 23’s Bachelor, Colton Underwood (comedian Billy Eichener event went so far as to tell the Bachelor, to his face: “Maybe you’re the first gay bachelor, and we don’t even know!”), the couplings in the Bach franchise have stayed strictly heterosexual.
I actually do think it would be cool to do a gay season of The Bachelor … and hey @BachelorABC I’m single…..
And in 2014, then-Bachelor and garbage human Juan Pablo Galavis denounced the possibility of a “gay” Bachelor, telling The TV Page: “No…I respect [gay people] but, honestly, I don’t think it’s a good example for kids.” Despite swift backlash to Jaun Pablo’s homophobic comment, the show has continued to set the same tired example, continually pairing and promoting solely cisgender, heterosexual couples. And, aside from having one bisexual contestant in 2017, gender identity has largely gone unaddressed on the show.
All of which is to say that the lack of gender fluidity is pretty on brand, considering the franchise has a serious MO of perpetuating only one type of love (re: hetero), and one type of person (re: cis straight) who can seemingly attain that love. With this *all* in mind, when it comes to the show’s closed-mindedness around sexuality we shouldn’t be surprised—but that doesn’t mean we’re not disappointed.
Because it’s not representative at all
With its hetero history, Bach Nation only represents a portion of single people searching for love. According to a 2018 study by global analytics firm Gallup, 4.5 percent of adult Americans identified as LGBT, signalling a steady increase since 2012. And according to a 2016 study, 56 percent of American Gen Z-ers (13 to 20-year-olds) knew someone who used gender-neutral pronouns, with more than a third of respondents saying they don’t believe that gender defines a person as much as it has in the past. In Canada, a 2017 study found that 13 percent of the population belongs to the LGBT community. Those are a lot of stats, but what they add up to is the fact that the world is finally recognizing and embracing love and gender expression of all forms, so why aren’t we seeing that reflected on reality TV’s most popular romantic show?
A post shared by Megan Marx (@megan.leto.marx) on Oct 23, 2016 at 4:13pm PDT
And in September 2018, Asian news site NextShark reported that The Bachelor: Vietnam contestant Minh Thu confessed her love for fellow contestant Truc Nhu on camera. While Nhu decided to stay on the show, she eventually left and the couple dated IRL. In response to these couplings, fans were overjoyed: “This is one of the best lover stories I’ve ever seen!” one fan commented on Marx’s post announcing their relationship. “I love your approach to your connection. What you have is magical and everyone else can f-ck right off. You go girls!” commented another.
The audience is clearly ready for it—and tbh dating shows should be too. In the Season 8 trailer for MTV’s Are You the One?, contestant Danny made a case for an inclusive dating show, saying: “If you have a reality TV show that includes the entire spectrum of racial, sexual and gender identity, you’re going to have a really interesting show.” And he’s not wrong. Having more inclusive narratives on-screen—and a myriad of narratives interacting with each other—is bound to create dynamic (if not sometimes tenuous) situations and interactions, which makes for interesting TV. We’ve seen what can happen when the powers-that-be continuously subscribe to the same types of people, tropes and stories. You end up with bland, repetitive content (re: how heavily manufactured the “drama” has become on recent seasons of The Bachelor and Bachelorette).
Not only would hearing diverse perspectives and interests punch up the entertainment value (as well as draw in viewers from more communities), but it would make the show more meaningful, both to LGBT individuals who can now see themselves represented on screen *and* to individuals from outside the community learning to be allies. Even if people are tuning in for the voyeurism and to watch people make out (a staple of reality TV), at least they’re expanding their minds while doing so.
But most importantly, making reality shows more representative chips away at the preconceived idea of just who a fairytale romance is meant for: a.k.a. cis-heterosexual men and women.
Are You the One? isn’t the first to expand reality dating shows
To be fair, reality TV dating shows haven’t *all* be heteronormative. There was Bravo’s gay dating show Boy Meets Boy in 2003 followed by Fox’s Playing It Straight in 2004, where a woman was given the task of determining which of her male housemates was straight and which were gay. Apparently the concept was appealing at the time, because Lifetime’s 2007 show Gay, Straight or Taken? had essentially the same premise, with the added incentive of travel prizes if the contestants guessed people’s orientation correctly. Appealing to viewers or not, the concept was and remains hella problematic; not only did it encourage the leads to refer to super problematic stereotypes about sexuality when making their guesses, but also inadvertently shames contestants for their sexuality if they don’t present the “correct” way.
In 2007, A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila debuted on MTV. The reality dating show featured the MTV-version of a Bachelorette, 25-year-old celebrity Tequila, with 16 men and 16 women vying for her affection. Even though it was far from perfect, playing on stereotypes about bisexuality and leaning hard into hyper-sexualization, the show was heralded as the first reality show to openly use the term bisexual and show real sexual representation. (Not to mention the fact that Tequila, as a Vietnamese-American, was a welcome addition to the very white landscape of dating shows.)
First Official Trailer | Finding Prince Charming Hosted By Lance Bass | Logo - YouTube
In 2016, former ‘NSYNC member Lance Bass hosted Finding Prince Charming, a dating show with an LGBT bachelor and contestants. The show ran for one season, and despite being renewed for a Season 2, has yet to air. More recently, Netfix’s Dating Around features a host of single people—of varying genders, ages, ethnicities and sexual orientations—trying to find love on a series of blind dates. While the show was applauded for including a number of same-sex couples, its depiction of LGBT dating was also called “messy” and unrealistic. Which tbh, if you’ve put up with The Bachelor for this long, shouldn’t be a problem.
The difference lies with The Bachelor‘s intention—and reach
Listen, we’re not here to put *the whole* the blame on the Bachelor franchise. It’s dating shows in general. We’ve seen countless iterations of these shows: from dating naked or finding love in the dark to literally being chained to all of your potential suitors. If there’s a crazy idea, chances are that producers and showrunners have thought of it as a viable way to up the already crazy world of dating. But, even with so many different iterations of dating shows, one thing remains the same: Who is allowed to look for love or be loved.
And that’s just wrong. Because Bachelor Nation’s lead doesn’t always have to be a cis-gender straight person, nor should they be—because those are not the only only people worthy of finding love. And seeing LGBTQ representation in the Bach mansion, specifically, is important because of the show’s intention.
Essentially, it’s optimistic, and we need that. Regardless of whether or not people *actually* do find love in a six-week timespan, under hyper-unrealistic circumstances and expectations (spoiler alert: more often than not, they don’t), there’s the belief that they will. That no matter what, two people can come together under super wild circumstances and find true love. As writer Amy Kaufman, the author of Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure, told Time in a March 2018 interview, “[the reason] we’re so obsessed with the show has something to do with our desire to have fantasy and romance in our life.”
And, as crazy as the concept might seem, people *do* believe in it. The Bachelor is practically an institution; what happens on-screen can impact and set precedent for what is accepted as the “norm.” And while shows like Bass’s Finding Prince Charming are amazing, there’s something to be said for seeing yourself, and your ability to find love, as something mainstream. The Bachelor franchise has a real opportunity to not just continue re-inventing the same tired old wheel, but actually shake it up; actually get their “most dramatic season yet.”
“Some of us are not what you would want to maybe represent you—and that’s fine,” Are You the One? Season eight contestant Remy says early in the trailer. “But we’re real people and we exist and we deserve to be seen and we deserve to express how we feel.”
And, if you’re following a story where love can’t be celebrated in all its forms—maybe, it’s time for a new fairytale.
On July 11, rapper and music producer Jermaine Dupri made a whole lot of enemies when he decided to speak out about what he saw as a shortcoming when it comes to the hip-hop community: female rappers. In an interview with People Now, Dupri slammed today’s female rappers, calling them “strippers rapping.” If that isn’t offensive enough, Dupri also basically said they have no creativity or talent. “I feel they’re all rapping about the same thing. I don’t think they’re showing us who’s the best rapper. For me, it’s like strippers rapping and as far as rap goes I’m not getting who’s the best,” Dupri said.
And all we have to say is: Are you dumb? And also, have you ever heard a man rap? They legit *all* rap about the same thing, mainly: money, women and their IRL eggplant emojis.
Dupri should know better than to trash-talk female artists. Especially considering he’s produced many great ones, including Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, Alicia Keys and Da Brat among others.
He *obviously* isn’t paying attention, because the truth is there are tons of insanely talented women in the rap game, who are influential AF and have a lot to say—and yes, sometimes that means rapping about their lady parts. Here, six ladies killing the game who you—and Dupri—should definitely be following.
A post shared by Lizzo (@lizzobeeating) on May 5, 2019 at 9:24am PDT
Who she is: Melissa Jefferson, know to fans as Lizzo, is an alt-hip-hop singer and rapper from Houston, Texas. After moving to Minnesota in 2011 and taking part in various musical groups (including rap trio The Chalice), Lizzo went solo, and with the 2019 release of her album Cuz I Love You, is officially killing it.
Why you need to know her: First of all, she’s “100 percent that b-tch,” and makes everyone who surrounds her and listens to her music feel like it too. And, she’s the ultimate multi-hyphenate. Not only does she rap, but she’s a classically trained flute player, and can go from playing the flute to twerking (while playing the flute), to belting out soulful lyrics that’ll give you all the feels, to keeping pace with Missy Elliott—and that’s all in one song.
It’s a lot in—the absolute best way possible. And she can sing. Like, sing sing. The performer has soulful vocals that can give Aretha Franklin (one of her inspos) a run for her money. Seriously, listen to “Jerome.” *Goosbumps.*
In addition to releasing her latest album, the singer attended (and totally rocked) the Met Gala, has a role in the upcoming film Hustlers—alongside heavyweights like Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu—and is in the midst of a tour. It’s seriously the summer of Lizzo—but we also have no doubt that she’ll be around for a long time to come.
What she raps about: Honestly, everything. Whether she’s talking about gender inequality on “Truth Hurts,” self-love on “Juice” or embracing your sexuality on “Boys,” Lizzo’s interests and range runs the gamut.
A post shared by Tierra Whack (@tierrawhack) on Jun 17, 2019 at 8:43am PDT
Who she is: Tierra Whack is a Philadelphia-born-and-raised rapper who has become well-known for her surrealist take on rap.
Why you need to know her: Whack, who until recently was still a doorwoman in Philadelphia while trying to make it in the rap world, is known for her experimental take on music. Her 2018 album Whack World featured songs that clocked in at exactly one minute, with a range that Pitchfork described as, “at different moments…hip-hop, R&B, pop, or country,” with crazy, surrealist visuals to match—something not usually seen in hip hop.
Tierra Whack - Whack World (Official Video) - YouTube
The album was heralded by Vice as “[one of] 2018’s more fearless debuts,” with the short running time and visuals allowing for audiences to stream the entire 15-minute album—in snippets—on Instagram; challenging the notion of streaming in the age of social media. And we thought Beyoncé’s Lemonade was revolutionary (FYI, it still is).
We can also thank Whack for inadvertently giving rise to another rising star—RedCarpetGirlz—and this video:
A post shared by ZaZa (@redcarpetgirlz) on May 8, 2019 at 11:52am PDT
The power her influence has is immense.
What she raps about: Whack is inspired by a lot around her, including seriously relatable remnants from her childhood, like the Hungry Hippo game (iconic), which inspired the song by the same name. In a June interview with Dazed, Whack told the publication: “I wish I was a kid. I never wanted to grow up. It really is a trap.” And her music reflects this.
A post shared by Hot Girl Meg (@theestallion) on Jul 4, 2019 at 1:16pm PDT
Who she is: Megan Pete, a.k.a Megan Thee Stallion, is another Houston, Texas-mega star, known not only for her music, but her ability to seriously influence the internet. She’s also a *big* proponent of the “yeehaw agenda.” #Bless.
Why you need to know her: Like Lizzo and many women on this list, Megan Thee Stallion is a triple-threat, known for her freestyles, insane lyrical prowess and sex-positive lyrics. In addition to her crazy career, Megan is currently in her third year at Texas Southern University—a scholar, too!Aside from music and academics, Megan is also the woman behind one of the summer’s biggest internet trends: “Hot Girl Summer.”
A post shared by PERIOD (@citygirls) on Jan 16, 2019 at 1:05pm PST
Who they are: A rap duo from Miami, Florida, City Girls is made up of members Yung Mami and JT. If you’re thinking these ladies look familiar, it’s probably because you caught them in Drake’s video of summer 2018, “In My Feelings.” They stole the show.
Drake - In My Feelings - YouTube
Why you need to know them: The City Girls have been featured alongside celebs like Drake and Cardi B and add some serious spice—not to mention badass rhymes—to any track they’re on. They’re the first prominent female rap duo since Salt-N-Pepa and have been heralded for pushing back against the misogyny usually directed at women in rap music.
What they rap about: They know rap music is an old boys’ club, and they want their cut. The duo have become known for subverting familiar tropes, boasting their own swag to mimic [or, in a satire of?] the men who’ve come before them. From literally snatching back the money owed to them on “Millionaire Dick,” to sampling other badass female rappers—like Khia’s “My Neck My Back” on “F-ck Dat N-gga,” the duo are all about literally owning their success.
Why you need to know her: Because she’s intriguing AF. Not only is her music bomb, but she’s essentially the SIA of rap music. Leikeli47 is known for concealing her face with a bandana or balaclava at all performances and professional appearances, which is super mysterious—and we’re super here for it.
Why you need to know her: Not only is Cardi B one of the greatest rappers of all time, but she’s also unapologetic AF and not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. In response to Dupri’s comments about female rapper sticking to one subject, Cardi hit back in the best way she knows how: with her words. In a video posted to Instagram, Cardi said: “First of all, I rap about my p-ssy because she’s my best friend and second of all it’s because it seems like that’s what people want to hear.” Cardi then referred to her heartbreak song “Be Careful,” saying that fans were mad when the song wasn’t sexual. “It’s like if that’s what people ain’t trying to hear then I’m going to start rapping about my pussy again,” she said. Which, facts.
What she raps about: Well, sorry Dupri, but she *does* rap about her vage—and often. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But, she also talks about infidelity, oral sex, criticism from the media and a whole bunch of other things—because she, like every woman, is nuanced.