Ms. Magazine
The Dykes Next Door
Cartoonist Alison Bechdel has built an enthusiastic following with Dykes to Watch Out For. Now as dyke subculture hurtles toward the mainstream, Beachdel's take is changing with the times.
What You'd Never Expect When You're Expecting
Naomi Wolf was shocked, during her own pregnancy, to discover just how little power pregnant woman have. An excerpt from her new book Misconceptions.
Portfolio: Rites of Passage
Documenting the many ways in which girls mark the passge into womanhood.
Running With the Wolf
Guadalupe Beundia, known as La Loba (The Wolf) is a political leader from a destitute slum in Mexico. Her cutthroat tactics brought services to her town and made her one of hte nation's most powerful ward bosses — until the 2000 election changed everything.

Uppity Women
The Evolution of a Palenstinian Pacifist

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-A Secret for Julia, by Patricia Sagastizabal
- Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood, by Sandra Steingraber
- Lili: A Novel of Tiananmen, by Annie Wang
-Interracial Intimacy: The Regulation of Race and Romance, by Rachel F. Moran
-Child of God, by Lolita Files
-Not in Front of the Children: "Indecency," Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth, by Marjorie Heins
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Excerpted from "The Dykes Next Door"

Mo can't sleep. She's worried that her girlfriend is cheating on her. To keep her mind off her troubles, she dips into GirlFrenzy magazine, only to learn that its editors have rated Monsanto-maker of genetically modified foods,
pesticides, and other evil products—the second-best "lesbian place to work" in the U.S. Removing her wire-rimmed glasses and lying back in bed, our endearingly neurotic, perennially politically exasperated heroine throws her arm across her forehead and cries (inside a thought bubble): "Did I have to live to see the principles of lesbian-feminism betrayed so utterly?" Once again, one of Alison Bechdel's Dykes To Watch Out For has put her finger squarely on the Dykegeist. Since 1983, this little comic-strip community has been griping, groping, and gossiping its way through the cultural and political events of our time, from the butch-femme debates to the second coming of Bush; from El Salvador to civil unions; from Reaganomics to postmodernism. In biweekly installments of ten to twelve panels each, and nine collections published by the little lesbian-feminist press Firebrand Books, Bechdel has created what some aficionados consider to be the preeminent cartoon record of modern lesbian-feminist history—and one of the preeminent oeuvres in the comics genre, period. Yet, in keeping with the modesty of both the form and the artist herself, Bechdel says she strives in each strip to produce a "small moment" in which "hardly anything happens. Just like real life."

Lately, however, a lot has been happening in real lesbian life. Lesbians and gays have been on the cover of every newsweekly and are in the scripts of every sitcom. Bechdel's home state, Vermont, has legally recognized same-sex civil unions. Even John Ashcroft was compelled to promise he wouldn't blackball homosexual nominees for the judiciary. But assimilation—for most, the goal of gay liberation—also has its downside. The far-reaching, left-feminist vision that used to give dykes their multi-culti cohesiveness is being edged out by the likes of the Log Cabin Republicans (in 2000, about 25 percent of homosexuals voted for the GOP, compared with only 9 percent of blacks, for example). Moderate and conservative homosexuals are demanding inclusion in the military, the kiddie-paramilitary (Boy Scouts), and what feminists have long argued is one of history's most oppressive institutions, marriage. The very identity that glued the gay and lesbian movement together is being domesticated and deconstructed out of business. And still, homophobia is far from vanquished—the ghastly image of Matthew Shepard crucified on a fence post certifies that. It seems the only act in which lesbian and gay identities have undisputed purchase is, literally, the purchase. The last Gay Pride March looked more like a shopping mall than a protest. Wails Mo: "Another liberation movement up Madison Avenue without a paddle!"

To read the complete article, pick up the October/November 2001 issue of Ms. on newsstands today.

Judith Levine's next book is Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children From Sex (University of Minnesota Press, 2002).