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Dictionary entries for the word shame include “a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety” and “a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong.” Etymologically, the word comes from the Old English scamu, a “loss of esteem” or something that “brings disgrace[...] private parts.” The word is powerful, calling to mind images of our most closely held secrets and deepest insecurities. Unlike embarrass, by definition “to make (someone) feel confused and foolish...
It is no exaggeration to say that I am obsessed with Hello Kitty. My bedroom is saturated with stuffed animals and wall decals. The first thing I see every morning is an image of Hello Kitty on an airplane adventure, the words “It’s a wonderful day... Hello Kitty” flying alongside her.    But not all of Kitty’s days have been wonderful; like the rest of us, she has faced her fair share of criticism. The Japanese Kawaii aesthetic from which she is modeled is often seen as...
  We’ve all noticed the increase in “strong female characters” gracing our silver screens, and while that’s a huge step, it can’t always be called “feminist.” In interviews, Natalie Portman has expressed that although female characters are now more able to be as fast and strong as male action heroes, they often end up being “just a fantasy of a male writer.” I have to admit I see her point; I was super stoked to see Black Widow in The Avengers, only to realize that poor...
  When Tina Fey pulled up her chair at the Saturday Night Live writers’ table, the show wasn’t all that woman-friendly. In her autobiographical book Bossypants, the comedien tells a story of how writers often assumed men in drag could be more funny than women. By the time she left, the show had featured more female greats than ever before: Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolf, Kristen Wiig, and others graced us with their unbeatable wit.    But wait a second! As Salon’s Carolyn Edgar points out, Keenan Thompson and...
  In Sweden, it soon might be. It was a nice summer day on a Stockholm beach when an unfortunate gentleman, aged 65, got caught getting busy in the sand. Södertörn’s district court acquitted the man of sexual assault because he wasn’t masturbating to anyone in particular. Prosecutor Olof Vrethammar found the ruling fair and does not plan to appeal.    No longer a form of assault in Sweden, public masturbation may still fall under the “disorderly conduct” umbrella, but only time will tell. TIME explains, “the ruling...