Melania Trump, wife of Donald Trump, arrives  before the second presidential debate between Republi can presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Pussy Stays: How A Controversial Word Gained A Rebirth 

Melania Trump, wife of Donald Trump, arrives before the second presidential debate between Republi can presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Melania Trump, wife of Donald Trump, arrives before the second presidential debate between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

On Sunday, October 9, whether you browsed social media or watched TV, the buzzword of the night was “pussy.” While I wasn’t aghast, but absolutely entertained. In the span of two days, a word, cringe-worthy by contemporary standards, had received a significant re-assessment of its meaning by women fighting the (patriarchal, chauvinistic) power of the media and savagery politics.

As the second Presidential debate was upon that day, media outlets had already released transcripts, audio, and footage of a 2005 conversation between Donald Trump, current Republican Party runner for the November election, and Billy Bush, recently suspended TODAY correspondent and then Access Hollywood co-host. In the three-minute clip, Trump admitted to wanting to “fuck” a married woman (despite himself being married to Melania Trump) and needing Tic-Tacs on stand-by, in case he met a beautiful woman en route to the set of Days Of Our Lives. (He was filming a cameo and Access Hollywood was there for the occasion). With Bush cackling at his classmate that he knows is going to get in trouble, Trump continued yapping, only to expose the now infamous vantage point of: “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” Trump was speaking in general terms on how he manipulated women. But it was revealed that he was referencing (actually, disrespecting) Bush’s co-worker Nancy O’Dell.

The famous billionaire, who’s made past cameos in 1994’s The Little Rascals, Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, and Sex and The City, re-launched his profile as a xenophobic tyrant when he announced his run for the American presidency in June 2015. And for years, reports of his sexist behavior were swept under the rug as he became more of a pop culture icon with his reality competition show The Apprentice. But this particular behind the scenes recording provoked passionate outrage from women across multiple cultures and races. As well as the GOP, officially embarrassed by Donald Trump (though many maintained their endorsement).

“Grab them by the pussy.” Extremely graphic, but also uncomfortably laughable. The language was so vile, it had to be addressed on a national platform, the reality of how (some) men really talked or felt about women when they weren’t around. Another ugly truth being those type of men are rarely held accountable for spewing such contempt.

Based on Trump’s latest scandal, Shaun R. Harper, a professor and educational director at the University of Pennslyvania (Trump’s alma mater), shared his observations of men talking crudely in an Op-Ed published by The Washington Post: “I have even seen men stand aside and engage in this kind of talk about moms at kids’ birthday parties. Unfortunately, the kinds of words we heard from Trump are commonly spoken when men are with other men. Those who participate in this “banter” are rewarded. Those who choose not to engage, and especially guys who critique such statements, have their masculinities questioned and risk being placed on the outskirts of social acceptance.”

When Trump tried to pacify his comments, in a video apology, as “locker room talk”, responsive sighs were as impactful as Hillary Clinton‘s infectious shimmy from the first debate. The excuse of “boys will be boys” cannot ascend anymore. Not when privileged (White) men like Brock Turner can rape a woman behind a dumpster and not be thrown in jail for years, but instead three months.

Prominent athletes rejected Trump’s locker room association. To quote Brett Anderson of the Los Angeles Dodgers:

In brainstorming how the media was before “pussygate” happened, I imaginatively sat on the witness stand in the court of popular culture and noted how some of the greatest comedies, dramas, hip-hop songs and rock music artwork aggressively contained and alluded to pussy. Often directed towards belittling or subjecting women to only their sexuality, but also used as a diss to an enemy. I then remembered Entourage, the HBO series that followed “the boys from Queens” living the Hollywood dream. I began to feel ashamed because I was huge fan of the show (I still got the DVDs) and Entourage blatantly featured lines such as: “Do you how much pussy I got in this town I didn’t deserve?” (Granted, that quip earned the clap back of “All of it.”)

Blistering when characters like Tony Soprano said it. In any given scene from a Scorcese classic. Outrageous when DMX rapped “Looking like some brand new pussy that’s about to get fucked.” Next to Entourage, I’ve only tolerated pussy in entertainment when impossibly enjoying  Josie and The Pussycats reruns on Cartoon Network. Grace Jones‘ memorable “No Man Can Turn Down This” monologue in Boomerang, and female rapper verses, including the guilty pleasure Iggy Azalea mixtape track “Pussy” that sampled Jones in the beginning.

What Trump, his followers, and camp have chosen to overlook is that when running for a position as eminent as the President of the United States, you are held to a higher standard than a fictional character or lyrics.While voters aren’t looking, or shouldn’t be vouching for perfection, they should want and stand for common decency. How can our President speak in front of dignitaries worldwide with the same mouth that made light of rape culture?

Leading up to the second debate, female social media users, as well as celebrities, posted memes with roaring and growling cats, ready to report for anti-Trump/Dump Trump duty.

RG from @feministfightclub 😻😽😼😸😹

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

These memes were great. They shifted the air of Trump’s misogyny and rallied for everyone everywhere to openly object sexism and get out there and vote on November 8. What a difference it made that a retort was done with a little  dash of humor.

As the second debate broadcast aired, sites had quick posts up about Melania Trump’s top. Though completely unintentional according to her rep, the fuschia Gucci blouse she wore to the debate was listed as a “Pussy-bow silk crepe de chine shirt” on shopping site Net-A-Porter for $1,100. The irony was apt. As Trump tried to rid of the puss on his face during the debate post-video, his wife was wearing a blouse bearing one of the more traditional uses of the word “pussy.” Talk about a field day for the press. My mind raced for its sartorial history.

When the debate ended at 10:30, HBO premiered Insecure, the new show birthed from Issa Rae‘s Awkward Black Girl webisodes on YouTube. Now a full-blown cable series, the honest and hilarious pilot featured the female leads casually uttering “pussy.” Later on, Rae delivered a raunchy open mic rap at a downtown LA club. Her bars were unkind, abrasive, and childish. No one could escape the power of the pussy that October 9.

Back to Melania’s uproarious top. Where did the name of pussy bow come from? Fashion historians point to the bows ties gently wrapped around the necks of cats and adorable kittens.

the aristocats

Over at, a colorful recap of its fashionable legacy was covered. Melania’s version is a much refined from its days as big floppy bow that overborne the front of any blouse. The pussy bow can be traced to the dawn of the Victorian era and illustrations of the imagined, idealized “Gibson Girl” by Charles Dana Gibson. Gibson based his drawings of White, sophisticated, city women on his wife Irene and her sisters. In some of his art, you can see elongated styles of the bow.

Per, the pussy bow was described in 1934 as: “[a] cunning bow that ties high under the chin and looks for all the world like those we put on Pussy Cat when company’s coming.” VOGUE clarified that: “Essentially, it’s a variant of the scarf-neck blouse; the flamboyantly-knotted bow draws attention upwards to the face.”

model Vibeke modeling YSL in 1975. Photographed by Helmut Newton.

model Vibeke modeling YSL in 1975. Photographed by Helmut Newton.

Into the decades of the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, Coco Chanel wore huge pussy bows from her line. Hollywood costume designer Omar Kiam accented tops with pussy bows, as seen in films such as 1937’s A Star Is BornYves Saint Laurent had them for his legendary, mid-70s French cool “Le Smoking” sleek suits.

The pussy bow really achieved worldwide status in the late ’70s and in the “She Works Hard for the Money” age of the 1980s. Margaret Thatcher wore them all the time as England’s first woman Prime Minister. Eventually regulated to the cubicle, it again gained notice in the 2000s on Gossip Girl and Mad Men that took place in the advertising world of the 1960s.

For their on-going series Makers: Women Who Make America in 2013, PBS aired a segment on how women gained employment post-World War II and during the rise of Women’s Liberation. In Part 3, the pussy bow made an appearance but was not called by name. Meg Whitman, a CEO of Hewlett-Packard, recalled as a then newly-appointed Procter and Gamble worker (in 1979) that:

“[Women] used to dress in suits, with a skirt and a jacket with button down shirts and a little bow-tie. Because that was sort of our interpretation of the man’s tie. I look back at those pictures today and I think, ‘What were we thinking!’ But it was our attempt to be feminine but fit into what was then a male world.” 

In 2016 context, maybe it was also called a pussy bow because the low draping slightly resembled the shape of a vulva (I saw this theory hinted at online). Cats are also heavily associated with women, which remains an esoteric connection. (Is it because cats reflect a woman’s sense of delicacy and no bullshit attitude?) Put those thoughts together and you’ve got some major pussy bow magic.

Thanks to Donald Trump’s flagrant sexism, the evolution of the word pussy was televised. His words were a trigger for survivors of sexual abuse, assault, and unwanted touching (prompting the hashtag #WhyWomenDontReport), but the utter callowness gave way to those cheeky memes and amazingly perceptive critiques, such as First Lady Michelle Obama‘s latest stirring speech. Against Trump, she delivered at Hillary Clinton’s New Hampshire rally on Thursday, October 13 and there was no mincing of the severity of the GOP nominee’s flippancy.

“This wasn’t locker room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predator behavior.” 

And the pussy bow blouse? Welcome back into the fickle yet influential landscape of popular culture. It looks as though you really have arrived. Now witness the normalization of “pussy” for the better (?) and overused worse.


How Selena’s MAC Collection Could’ve Been More Celebratory


Plenty of desirable, limited edition collections have rolled out of MAC Cosmetics for as long as I have loved makeup. (That’s a good twelve years now we’re talking about. It was all lip gloss, shimmery shadow and black eyeliner that wasn’t cat-eyed, back then. Wait a minute. That sounds tragic).

Yet…I never could get my hands on the collections I wanted most. You name it, I missed it. Heatherette. Hello Kitty. Marilyn Monroe. Rihanna. The Simpsons. Wonder Woman. “Taraji Glow.” Beth Ditto. The pain of missing out was like a personal attack on my messy vanity counter.

No. I haven’t forgotten about you.

My Archie’s Girls.

When Patty Rodriguez began her petition on for Selena Quintanilla, the late Texan-born, Tejano singer, aka the legend, to get her own namesake collection with MAC, I was stoked and prepared for the customer mayhem. Selena and MAC? Selena loved makeup! What a great way to honor her. My credit card was already ready. Bidi bidi bidi bidi bidi bom bom! 

By July 2015, over 37,000 people had shown their support with a signature and the mega cosmetics brand finally responded to the fandom that month. “We have heard the passion and enthusiasm from her fans and wholeheartedly agree that her legacy embodies MAC’s philosophy.”

selena mac


As AV Club pointed out, a boatload of money was going to be made from this collaboration. Anybody that cared was going to win. Selena approved or stamped lipstick for the fans. MAC continuing to swim in the green.

Selena’s beloved sister Suzette additionally confirmed that the line was going to be available at most MAC department store counters and stores in 2016: “I am so excited that MAC Cosmetics will be releasing a collection in honor of my sister Selena. Helping to create this collection brings me back to all those late night conversations on our tour bus when she spoke of having her own makeup line one day. If Selena were here she would be beyond ecstatic to have this happening. History is being made.”

We all wanted to see what MAC was going to cook up for our icon.

Selena was known for her red lips, black eyeliner, and a matte face. When she accepted her Grammy Award for Best Mexican/American Album of 1993 in 1994, her go-to look was accented by her lids washed in flirty lilac.

This past summer, images of what the collection contained and looked like were released. The choice of violet as the main color for packaging, I gave a thumbs up to. But the color choices were pretty standard. I wasn’t super crazy about what I saw. I remained excited for the fact that #MACSelena was a reality.

On October 1, when it became available online, I admit I had my eye on two lipsticks. Yet hated that I felt the collection was lackluster. Suzette disclosed that once the project got underway, MAC based the collection on products inside Selena’s real life cosmetics kit. Suzette still has it from their touring days as Selena y Los Dinos (She was a percussionist and background singer. The band mostly consisted of family members). 21 years later, since Selena’s untimely passing in 1995, I know the kit means the world to her.

I think that’s pretty wonderful. They wanted Selena’s true selections at the core. But for the sake of the collection, I wish there were more colors or the colors jazzier.

Lately, I’ve caught on to how MAC runs their limited edition lines. Often, re-packaging is involved and shades are given a new name, connected to the subject or muse (Rihanna’s “Riri Woo” was nearly the same as MAC’s cult fave “Ruby Woo”, just not in matte formula). On Dupe That, a popular Instagram page that compares affordable, indie and high-end makeup matched the #MACSelena lipstick “Dreaming of You” (deemed lust-worthy by fans) to MAC’s favored deep wine “Diva.” And the liquid eyeliner of “Boot Black” in #MACSelena, is the brand’s stable, wrapped in Selena purple.

The most original item is the blush and bronzer combo, “Techno Cumbia.” This one had me baffled. The bronzer looked too pale to make a difference for a skin tone like mine (not to mention a little ashy!) And the two-in-one wasn’t evenly divided. It’s like 80% ashy sandy taupe and 20% dry pasty pink. MAC could’ve done so much with this! The taupe should’ve been mocha and the blush, a more pronounced cerise. Maybe two Techno Cumbias should’ve been made, complimentary of both light and darker skin tones. Selena didn’t do razor sharp shade and contour. But she definitely had color for effect.

Once more, violet was a great choice for the compact and lipstick cases. (Purple was a favorite color of hers). But just a violet case and her name?? This wouldn’t be the first time MAC dropped the ball on packaging. For Marilyn Monroe, containers were a glossy black compared to their usual matte black, but her image was stickered on. Ocassionally, they do get it right. For the Isabel & Ruben Toledo capsule, the cases and compacts were white and decorated with Ruben’s playful drawings.

A whimsical, talented illustrator should’ve been hired to creat exclusive visuals of Selena for the cases, brushes, or even a makeup bag. A T-shirt. A tote bag!

Below, are two of the many artist tributes to her that you can find on social media. Imagine seeing these while swiping on “Como La Flor.”

@selenaqofficial 💜 #MACSelena

A photo posted by iscreamcolour (@iscreamcolour) on

In honor of Selena's MAC makeup collection. #foreverselena #macselena 🌹

A photo posted by Jovan Rosario (@ponyy_boyy) on


Fans thought of all the ways the packaging could’ve been before the official images were out. (All that’s missing in this one is a red shade. Got to have a red. Not even MAC messed that up).



So I listed my coulda, woulda, shoulda’s for #MACSelena. On the other hand, despite the lack of creativity, I can’t downplay the important existence of #MACSelena. It was heartwarming to see how her fans joined together and got Selena a much-deserved cosmetics shout-out. There’s footage of her mentioning her dream of one day having a makeup and fashion line. Patty, the fans, and Suzette’s influence made it come true.

On October 6, the day the collection had its store debut, I still felt what I wrote in this article. I softened a bit when I purchased “Dreaming of You” and “Como La Flor.” Fourteen years later, I finally got to join in on the fun of a special MAC makeup set and it was with and for Selena. Carrying a lipstick with her name on it, her spirit was tangible. I know she was looking out for me!

Her death still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it deeply. I remember. But when I look at her lipsticks and the full collection, I am happy for her legacy. She is truly immortalized. Carry on, Queen of Tejano. Even if MAC should’ve given you a full blush and matching nail polishes because why not.



I Don’t Get It. I Thought Lady Gaga’s “Perfect Illusion” Was Great

by S.L. Chambers

I’m listening to “Perfect Illusion” for the second time. Again, I responded excitedly to the beginning bass and guitar riffs that captured anticipation, as if in the middle of a sandstorm, and vibrated like a tribute to 1980s rock. It is super polished in its production than its predecessors. The rock sound is not gritty, but still loud. By the chorus, Lady Gaga‘s newest single exhibited her theatrically roaring “It wasn’t love, it wasn’t love. It was a perfect illusion.” 

Her last album, 2013’s Artpop, was lower in sales and pop culture recognition (a minor hit occurred with the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills assisted “G.U.Y.”). However, she forged onward, and musically retreated to the refined plateau of jukebox tunes with her warmly received duet album, Cheek to Cheek, with the legend, Tony Bennett. When not singing paeans to the days of 1940s Manhattan jazz bars, she went completely left and gothic, as she starred in the over-the-top television anthology American Horror Story: Hotel (and unexpectedly won a Golden Globe for her role).

Her critical acclaim also went up. At this year’s Super Bowl, she heartily sang the National Anthem. In 2015, covered John Lennon‘s “Imagine” at the European Games Opening Ceremony. And at the Academy Awards that February, delivered a beautiful medley of songs from The Sound of Music for its 50th anniversary. These showcases led former detractors and non-fans of Gaga to admit that the often grandiose entertainer indeed obtained genuine musical talent.

Meat dress be damned.

Since it appeared that Gaga’s look and musical tendencies had swum away from the candy land of cartoonish get-ups and songs primed for the LGBT dancefloor, it was up in the air what the sound of her next album would be. Now, with the release of “Perfect Illusion”, her version of garage (pop) rock and a single cover that features her up in the air, fist pump in tow, mid-song, wearing heavy, Doc Martens-esque lace-up boots, a rock aesthetic is clear. Pop music, Gaga is. But rock?

I liked “Perfect Illusion” instantly. It goes against Gaga’s resume of flamboyant seduction. I don’t think it’s a perfectly crafted song, but its freshness and ragged nature stand out. I was surprised to see online from comments to reviews that most were baffled by the single. “They” had insinuated that it was flat, unfinished, and essentially not “Gaga” enough. What did I miss? I accept that it has a demo feel. Granted, a shiny, expensive demo feel. Evidently, I had checked off the unpopular opinion box.

Rich Juzwiak of Jezebel unleashed a scathing cut calling it a “wall of shrill sounds.” And the opening that I found foretelling of a tale about to shared, was to him a distorted wail that opens the song and pierces the eardrums with a metronome’s precision, a hair-metal guitar riff that gets buried under the screeching, and Gaga’s own voice. Her deflating hook is practically D.O.A., and Gaga’s theatrical delivery doesn’t seem particularly interested in conveying anything aside bravado.” Juzwiak and I gathered the same combative vibes and similarly described the song. Yet both left with disparate experiences.

Pitchfork, the at times frustratingly verbose, even if greatly educational, music website, lazily used a Slack message conversation between editors as a way to review and denounce Gaga’s song. (Hilarious considering they’ve given full-blown articles to albums and songs that were awful).

Twitter had concluded that the track held similarities to Madonna’s 1986 True Blue song “Papa Don’t Preach.”

I’ve heard that song too many times. I think I would’ve picked up the twinning on site. I had to read the comment section of a magazine on Facebook to better comprehend the relation. Obstensibly, when Gaga sings “It was a perfect illusion” it is on the same wave as Madonna’s “I’m keeping my baby”  in “Papa Don’t Preach.” Eh. I do hear it (now that I’m aware). That, and the thundering strings at the start of “Papa Don’t Preach.” But that was an effort.

Can we focus more on how amazing Gaga’s voice sounds on her new song? Her range should be center stage here, even if you don’t like the song too much. It is the same attribute that allowed her above-mentioned performances in 2015 and this past past winter to soar.


Lady Gaga’s ferocity recounted the passionate vocals of women in rock like Tina Turner, and more specifically regarding the track, Pat Benatar. What I’m about to say might be music blasphemy to some, but “Perfect Illusion” is the distant cousin to Benatar’s 1983 hit “Love is a Battlefield.” They don’t sound alike, but the intent of the lyrics are there.

“We are young. Heartache to heartache we stand. No promises or demands. Love is a battlefield.” –“Love is a Battlefield”, Pat Benatar

Both songs are a white flag to no longer playing the fool and being docile. For Gaga, her admission is disbelief shaded by pomposity, with statements like “Mistaken for love.” The timing of the single’s release is equally telling because, in real life, Gaga broke off her engagement with actor Taylor Kinney earlier this summer. Did the sad change of events inspire the lyrics?

From Benatar, the track described a young woman’s brave decision to walk the line of the outside cruel world without the comfort of home or a safety net. The facade of the picket fence gone. Empowerment mission on, albeit shaky. This also appears as a motif in “Perfect Illusion” because as strong as Gaga’s vocals are, it sounds like she may about to break down and cry. But she’s still singing her pain out.


The hate towards Gaga’s new song was too easy. Of course, the critics want to make fun of Gaga’s attempt to rock out as if her new song was supposed to be a carbon copy of “Just Dance” instead. Give the song a chance on your own. And be sure to blast it that second and third time around you listen to it. Trust me, you’ll grow to like it.