The Ann Cleeves character, Vera Stanhope, wears thick walking sandals, no makeup, and is generally unafraid to take up space. A British police inspector from a shady working class background — her father was a sort of thief — Vera has no husband, no children, and no lover. She eschews aerobics and yoga and “fitness […]Read More Sod off! The feminist frumpiness of Vera Stanhope
Although the U.S. government has a long history of warehousing people of color, its overt foray into large-scale concentration camps intended for desperate asylum seekers is relatively new. And the video of a Trump administration lawyer coolly offering a rational argument as to why basic humanitarian rules do not require the government to facilitate sleep, […]Read More Soap and toothbrushes: Mundane symbols of compassion and respect
When I finally got around to reading the first book in the historical mystery series featuring amateur Egyptologist Amelia Peabody, I was struck by its overtly imperialist aesthetic. Set in the late 19th century, it parodies and celebrates English archeologists. It also patronizes the local people at every turn. For the White Western reader, it […]Read More Vicarious living through Comme des Garçons: Exoticism and cultural appropriation
The Avon bottle looked like a stagecoach and sat precarious and dusty on the spindly metal shelving in the single bathroom shared by my family in the 70s. The beer-bottle brown angular container wasn’t easily identifiable as a stagecoach. It was so abstracted or, perhaps, so poorly designed, so that I couldn’t easily associate it […]Read More Queer eye on Father’s Day: Masculinity and subversive gay style
Many outspoken male fragrance enthusiasts share childhood memories of being captivated by their mothers’ perfume. It’s such an iconic moment among non-gender conforming male perfume connoisseurs that it deserves its own film sequence: the mother sweeping up her little boy in a cloud of No. 19, Diorella, Chloe, or Halston. And then his secret missions […]Read More Gender-bending fragrance choices: The courage to be queerly perfumed
It is popular in North America to insist that we make choices about how we present ourselves for our own comfort, self-expression and pleasure and not to impress others. In fact, many of us in the U.S. would be almost embarrassed to acknowledge that others’ values and tastes shape our style. “I wear it for […]Read More Beast-mode perfumes and unspoken rules: How much is too much?
When political prisoner Ingrid Betancourt was released after six years of captivity, she was asked how the experience had changed her. Her complicated response included a commitment to “always have flowers in my room and wear perfume.” The experience of being brutally treated, and, she emphasizes, isolated from most of the human cultural forms she […]Read More Perfume as luxury, art, and consumer compulsion