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Saturday Links: CeCe McDonald is FREE! Edition

Plus an essay about gender equality by Beyoncé, some rad new music, and comics by Mindy Kaling.

Amy Rose

This week, CeCe McDonald, a trans* woman of color sentenced to over three years in prison for defending herself and her friends against a hate crime which left her with 11 stitches in her face, was released on parole after serving 19 months in jail. Her case has been momentous in raising awareness about the difficulties and discrimination trans* people, and especially trans* women of color, are up against in America’s legal system, and their disproportionately high risk of becoming victims of violent attacks. CeCe’s imprisonment was a grave injustice, but we can honor her bravery by continuing to pay attention to and speak out about trans* causes.

Another champion of trans* people and total heroine of ours, the actress Laverne Cox, was there to pick CeCe up from prison, a fact which made me wreck my mascara a little. Laverne is co-producing a documentary about trans* visibility that focuses on this case, Free CeCe. I can’t wait to see it.


Last Sunday, Woody Allen got a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes, the presentation of which was accompanied by a very lengthy tribute to his life and work. My first thought as soon as I heard his name was, Why are we applauding a child molester? My second thought, which came when they started showing clips from all of my favorite movies of his, was, Dammit, too many of these hold too precious a place in my heart. And now, my millionth thought, after Ronan Farrow’s tweet, Mia Farrow’s tweet, and the op-eds those messages prompted?

I’m not going to deny myself the relationship I have to Woody Allen’s work (which goes way back—I mean, this is my dad, so do the Jewish Old Man math). If I do that, I should also deny myself the relationship I have to the work of other questionable (and occasionally downright disgusting) artists. If I do that, I should also deny myself the relationship I have to work that is itself questionable or downright disgusting. And if I do all of that, I would be limiting my world, when I am actually capable of both loving a movie and knowing that its creator is repulsive. Woody Allen is a tricky case when it comes to separating the man from the art, because he writes, directs, and plays basically himself in most of his movies. But when I want to watch this scene from Hannah and Her Sisters, I’m not going to refrain for the sake of withholding one more YouTube view.

What I don’t have to do, as a person with a public platform of any size, is go on loving rants about Woody Allen as frequently as I do, say, Lorde or Beyoncé or Taylor Swift or Sofia Coppola or Wes Anderson. And, on a larger scale, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association doesn’t need to celebrate him for his treatment of women. Public platforms take up a finite amount of time and space: The Golden Globes ceremony lasts only a couple hours, and I might have an audience for my thoughts for just a few years of my life. I would rather spend my time and energy lifting up not even, like, the most underrated underdogs, but just, you know, non-child-molesters. No part of me would like to contribute to the message our culture sends to survivors of abuse that their voices do not matter. I am disgusted that a Vanity Fair article can include Dylan Farrow’s nauseating account of her father’s abuse, but news outlets will instead pick up the gossip concerning Ronan’s paternity test; and that Winona Ryder’s career will suffer because she shoplifted, Kanye West will face ridicule for demanding to be taken seriously, but Woody Allen will molest his daughter and continue to be immortalized as a brilliant mind and seer of human truth.

So, to get to the actual Saturday Link: I liked reading Refinery 29′s piece on Woody Allen as I sorted all of this out for myself. If the HFPA is going to applaud Allen, it should not happen without a conversation about his history, even if it’s up to us viewers to start it.

Caitlin D.

Our girl, via her Tumblr.

Our girl, via her Tumblr.

My mom emailed me this excerpt of an article about gender equality in the Shriver Report, written by none other than BEYONCÉ (days after I’d first read it, but still) with the note “Beyoncé is good in print, too!” Bey’s piece is titled “Gender Equality is a Myth!” and I think that exclamation point symbolizes the Cupid’s arrow that pierced my heart after reading it. La Yoncé takes this conversation to an academic, parent-inspiring level in her discussion of the economic inequalities faced by women in the United States: “Women are more than 50% of the population and more than 50% of voters. We must demand that we all receive 100% of the opportunities.” You can download the whole thing (and the rest of the issue) for free right here.


Before Mindy Kaling was Mindy Lahiri (or Beyoncé Pad Thai), before she was Kelly Kapoor, before she was Mindy Ephron or even Ben Affleck, she was Mindy Chokalingam, Dartmouth theater major and observational cartoonist. Her comic strip, “Badly Drawn Girl,” appeared daily in the student newspaper from 1999 to 2001. Early this week, someone had collected those old strips and posted them to Tumblr. Sadly, they appear to have since been removed, but thanks to the magic of Google Image Search, you can see samples from the “Badly Drawn Girl” archive here. I like this one because it shows that Kaling had been developing that Kelly Kapoor character long before The Office even existed:



Alexis Wilkinson looking too cute. Photo by Ryan Pfluger for New York magazine.

Alexis Wilkinson looking mad cute. Photo by Ryan Pfluger for New York magazine.

Last December, Alexis Wilkinson was the first black woman to be elected president of the Harvard Lampoon, a humor magazine at the university that has served as a feeder route into high-profile comedy jobs—especially Saturday Night Live—for more than a century. It’s also been occupied by white men almost exclusively up till now. In the interview linked above, with New York magazine, Wilkinson talks about wide-ranging topics including her man-repelling Peanuts sweatshirt and how she’s going to change the game: “When I ran, I actually said, ‘Having a black woman president either means that we will be unsuable or the most-sued organization of all time. So let’s find out!’” She seems hella sharp and quick with a jib, and though she’s still only a junior (and looking for a job!), I’m waiting with bated breath to see what she does with the magazine and thereafter into forever.

Photo of Star Eyes via Perrier.

Photo of Star Eyes via Perrier.

If you think tired clichés and misconceptions about “women in rock” abound, just imagine being a “woman who DJs”—not only do you get to field the “What’s it like to be a woman in music?” questions from clueless weirdos, you also get the question “Why aren’t there more women DJs?” Star Eyes, a highly respected New York–based DJ who’s been running the decks since she was 15, offers a definitive answer with this piece, “The Number One Reason There Aren’t More Female DJs.” I’m not gonna spoil it for you since it’s so good—you gotta click to get her incisive, sharp-eyed insight—but here’s a hint: It ends with an incomplete laundry list of 50+ woman DJs from all over the world, the best response to “Where are the woman DJs?” I’ve ever seen.

I’m so into the video for Tiombe Lockhart’s new song, “Can’t Get Enough.” It was produced by Hudson Mohawke and casts Lockhart as many types of goddesses, from a befeathered Josephine Baker type to sparkling Hathor in the sky. The singer and powerhouse directs or co-directs all of her videos, including this one, and each portrays her as a different type of icon or mythical woman harnessing her own power through music and dance. This latest one is especially beautiful, and I wish it weren’t cold outside, because there’s nothing I’d love to do more than blast it into the air.


Laura Jane Grace being her typical goddess-y self in a photo by Rebecca Smeyne for SPIN.

Laura Jane Grace being her typical goddess self in a photo by Rebecca Smeyne for SPIN.

If you’re too impatient to wait two days for the physical release of the new Against Me! album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, the NME is streaming it so you can listen now! I’ve been an Against Me! fan for almost a decade—their music is actually the foundation for a couple of my friendships and my marriage—so I’ve been eagerly awaiting this record and am so excited that it’s finally here.

SPIN interviewed the band’s frontwoman, Laura Jane Grace, about the album, which she says “almost killed the band.” She speaks a little bit about her physical transition as a trans* person as well as the transitions the band has gone through—they’ve lost members and gone from a major label to releasing this record themselves. I think many artists will relate to the doubts she’s had about her work and feel empowered by the way she pushed through, and the songs that she describes sound like they were worth her effort and our wait.

A cute illustration of our brain's night-shift custodians by Eiko Ojala for the New York Times.

A cute illustration of our brain’s night-shift custodians by Eiko Ojala for the New York Times.

I’ve spent much of my life struggling with insomnia, and one of the things I learned in the countless doctor visits, sleep drug trials, and sleep studies I’ve been a part of is that there is still a TON we don’t know about the brain’s relationship to sleep. This New York Times piece on insomnia posed questions I often asked while lying awake at night, like “Isn’t sleep a colossal waste of time? Why haven’t we evolved to need less of it? Wouldn’t that it be in our best interest?” The answer to all of these queries, which the article explains in interesting detail, is basically that we need sleep so our brains’ little janitors can come out and sweep up the mess created by thinking all day. If they aren’t able to do this, it could lead to things like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but the new discoveries discussed in this piece could potentially lead to greater understanding of those diseases—definitely a good thing.


If Samantha Bee performing a one-woman show about the lust and drama of being a cast member on a Fox panel show isn’t the greatest thing you’ve ever seen, I DON’T WANNA BE RIGHT. (Am I using that phrase correctly? Totally.)


Liars, one of my top five all-time favorite bands, put a new song, “Mess on a Mission,” on YouTube this week in anticipation of their new record, Mess, which comes out in March. I’m already listening to it on repeat and dancing like a maniac in my office, because how could I not? Every record they put out is golden, and I’m stoked that they’re leaning dancier again. ♦


  • unicornwar January 18th, 2014 12:20 PM

    The Shriver Report isn’t free anymore :(

  • Ella W January 18th, 2014 1:00 PM

    Hi, love this weeks Saturday Links! One thing though, I clicked on the link to download the Shiver Report for free, and unfortunately it isn’t free any more, that was only on January the 15th. I’m still considering buying it, but just saying.
    Ella x

    • Amy Rose January 18th, 2014 1:06 PM

      Ah, sorry, babes! Fixed it, thank you.

  • mangointhesky January 18th, 2014 1:53 PM

    I can’t decide which of these I like the most.


  • yummy_pizza January 18th, 2014 2:47 PM

    Tavi, thank you for your piece, as well as for the link, on what I lately, and not too creatively call, “The Woody Allen Conundrum”. I too was disgusted that the HFPA decided to sing the praises of a child molester. I myself grew up the daughter of a rather neurotic, Jewish, comical father who introduced me to the oeuvre of Woody Allen. My mother, however, was always quick to vocalize her disgust at my father’s admiration for the director, and so I have always felt pretty uneasy every time I viewed any of his films, no matter how well-made they were. At the time, I was not aware of the allegations that he had abused his daughter, Dylan, and nor did my mom (a sign at how easily the story was swept under the rug). I also knew nothing about Roman Polanski, and Rosemary’s Baby was one of my favorite movies. Later on, I did discover what monsters these men are, and how they have basically gotten away with such atrocities, all while receiving endless praise for their art. I, for one, cannot separate art from the artist when said artist is involved in anything such as child abuse, pedophilia, rape, etc no matter how much I may have loved their work. I will no longer watch Rosemary’s Baby. At one time I held it dear, but I’ve seen it, I did love it, and now I am moving on. Nostalgia loses this round. I have, and will find, other films to treasure. It is difficult to hear the opinions of others on this matter, as my partner and I got into a somewhat heated argument on the WA issue after the GG, but I will try to calmly let others make their own decisions on the matter.

  • honorarygilmoregal January 18th, 2014 2:57 PM

    Mindy Kaling’s Badly Drawn Girl comics made my day. She is so hilarious!

  • heckvetica January 18th, 2014 4:24 PM

    That girl Alexis was in my AP English class – her sister goes to Yale and they seriously have SUPERPOWERS! Dream team.

  • pizzasgross January 18th, 2014 4:28 PM

    with the woody allen issue, i see a lot of double standards. like some people support him despite all that he’s done, yet are against people or corporations that are anti gay, like chik fil a for example. why do people pick and choose these things? im really curious about it.

  • smallbirdvoice January 18th, 2014 4:51 PM

    im so glad about cece this is amazing!! as a trans person this rly hits home i’m so glad :)
    although I have to say that i’ve read quite a bit written about the asterisk in ‘trans*’ and lots of trans women and non binary identifying people don’t like it because it alienates them and makes them feel like they’re being ‘othered’. maybe it would be best if that was eliminated when talking about trans folks.

  • Violet January 18th, 2014 6:31 PM

    Omg, I want that Peanuts sweatshirt so bad…
    It’s really great to see women making it through in traditionnally super-male dominated places.

    Also wanted to share this article about 4 MIT senior girls – they just won a scholarship but that’s not the point: just loved to read about their diverse interests and aspirations, AND they seem super cool.


    • honorarygilmoregal January 18th, 2014 10:50 PM

      Great link! Thatnks for sharing…those girls seem awesome.

  • estie96 January 18th, 2014 6:48 PM

    really loving timobe lockhartes song. never heard of her ’till I looked at this today! really interesting links. Also enjoyed the excerpt of beyonce’s article.


  • amphibian-lover January 18th, 2014 7:13 PM

    oh my goodness everything beyonce does makes me love her more and more

  • WizerdGandalf January 18th, 2014 10:48 PM

    gotta get meself checking this linkz. I want to express how much wisdom I feel like Tavi projects on the media. You Go Tavi! (!!!), smooth words, smooth words.


  • Lillypod January 19th, 2014 12:48 AM

    wow , the fact that a well-read person like me could know about woody allen and soon-yi but not this molestation case shows how well the media has “forgotten” this case….i am shocked and appalled. I did enjoy Blue Jasmine immensely but nevernevernever again will i watch a film of his. It’s this little thing called “principles” — I think I can sacrifice the minor pleasure of a couple of films compared to supporting the career of a unconvicted child molester. COME ON, PEOPLE.

    • Lillypod January 19th, 2014 12:51 AM

      and that Refinery29 article was pathetic! I’m speechless.

      • pizzasgross January 19th, 2014 12:07 PM

        100% agree. i physically cant watch his movies anymore. i feel sick just trying. giving up a movie of a creepy old evil man is worth it when you know what he’s done, whether you like the movie or not. i cannot support him. it would be a crime to the girl he mentally scarred for life, as well as to those who went though the exact same thing.

  • Sophii January 19th, 2014 12:22 PM

    I hadn’t heard of the Woody Allen thing. That’s terrible. However, I do think it’s important that you can like an artist’s work without like the artist and, likewise, you can like an artist for what they stand for/their public image but not like their work. I love ‘Badly Drawn Girl.’ English Majors= Arty Communists ahahaha :’) The music video for “Can’t Get Enough” is amazing. The article on sleep is really interesting but I think it will take a while before I stop thinking of sleep as a waste of me time :S


  • Equatorgrim January 19th, 2014 1:02 PM

    My last college semester, I took a Gender Studies class, and my Professor explained to us that it’s okay to love a piece of work or a person, so long as you make sure to look into their background and acknowledge that they have flaws, or are a bad person. Granted, this is a bit different because it’s about child molestation, and we were talking about Disney and feminist leaders who were racist and/or homophobic, but it’s okay to say “I love the -work- of Woody Allen” and not like Woody Allen. There’s a lot of debate about whether you can separate the creator from the work, and that really depends on yourself.

    I wasn’t exactly sure how to word this comment, so I’m sorry if any of this offends, I can be bad at phraseology.

    • Flossy Mae January 19th, 2014 2:45 PM

      Yeah, I get exactly what you mean, and I think that it’s important to separate the work of someone from themselves. I adore Disney films, and I recently saw Frozen (the newest one) and L-O-V-E-D it so much I watched it again a couple of days after, but then I felt guilty for loving it when there’s so much hype about how racist it is, and how Disney has *yet again* presented their protagonist as a slim white girl. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and I’ve kind of come to the conclusion myself that while it matters a great deal, and whilst I’m still rooting for Disney to start representing other cultures, it doesn’t mean I have to hate the film. It’s damn good! (Go and see it, if you haven’t already).

      I think you can’t feel guilty about loving a film/book/piece of music/whatever just because the person behind it is the most repulsive thing. It’s just about detaching the artist from the art, which is hard because for a lot of people they *are* their art, but doesn’t mean you can’t like their art and not them. If you reverse it, it makes perfect sense. As a writer, sometimes I write things that people hate, but that doesn’t mean they hate me. So it’s ok to love something someone’s made (such as Woody Allen’s films, some of which I do love), and completely hate the person behind them.

  • alicenstar January 19th, 2014 6:13 PM

    Hey! I heard that you’re supposed to write it as simply ‘trans woman/women’ without the asterisk (when referring to a trans* person of a binary gender) and that it’s disrespectful not to.

  • crapbag January 19th, 2014 6:17 PM

    The whole Woody Allen situation is tough. I personally have not watched any of his films, and most likely won’t ever now that I know he’s a child molester but had I watched his films and fallen in love with them prior to knowing, might it be different?
    When I read the R9 article last week that ‘Just Wondering’ question about loving problematic things immediately came to mind. You can’t choose what you like, it’s not human nature, but you can however choose what you support. The ethics surrounding these types of situations make me curious, and I don’t mean the Allen case specifically, but everything ethically questionable.
    Are we better people if we deny ourselves pleasure in order not to support something we disagree with?
    Also what is considered ‘support’? Am I supporting misogyny if I enjoy dancing to Weezy in the club? Am I supporting antisemitism if I go to Disneyland? Am I supporting child molesting if I watch a Woody Allen film illegally from the privacy of my home alone?
    I am not saying it is, or it isn’t, I’m just genuinely curious about personal ethics (and everything in the world, just infinitely curious about everything to exist actually).

  • theeyuh January 19th, 2014 9:24 PM

    Samantha Bee thing was awesome.

  • Rowen January 19th, 2014 11:24 PM

    I cried quite a bit when I read that Laverne was there to pick CeCe up. All of these are great stories!

  • krystalavender January 19th, 2014 11:28 PM

    The Woody Allen piece was very eye opening. He definitely receives too much praise because I HAD NO IDEA. Just finished reading all about what he did with his daughter. So strange that people almost ignore discussing this. I loved Midnight in Paris so I do respect his work but God, what a disgusting, bizarre man. Thanks for this article Tavi!