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Leaving Westboro Baptist: An Interview

"Thank God for September 11!" 19-year-old Lauren Drain yells during a picket of the second inauguration of President George W. Bush in 2005 in the opening scene of her memoir Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church (Goodreads | Amazon). While she once proudly held signs proclaiming attention-getting slogans like "God Hates Fag Enablers" as part of the Westboro Baptist Church, the 27-year-old Connecticut resident now calls the church a cult. When she was 14, her philosophy professor father decided to make a documentary about the church; originally aimed at exposing them, and titled Hatemongers, it instead morphed into a pro-WBC work that transformed their family, as Drain, her parents, and her younger sister moved from Florida to Topeka, Kansas, to become active members. Drain had a favorite picket sign ("Prepare To Meet Thy God") and Catholic churches were her preferred houses of worship to picket ("because of the Catholics' hypocrisy"). READ MORE

'The Feminist Porn Book': Celebrating XXX Fantasies Left Out of Mainstream Porn

In an age of gonzo and revenge porn, when Iceland is considering banning online porn and San Francisco's Kink.com is under fire for poor working conditions, what's a feminist-minded porn lover to do? The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure (Indiebound | Amazon) has a variety of answers. Edited by Tristan Taormino, a feminist porn producer, and professors Celine Parreñas Shimizu, Constance Penley, and Mireille Miller-Young, it offers a mix of (mostly) women who create and perform in porn, and academic discourses on porn's meaning. READ MORE

Single Lady Admits: It's Me

I fully admit that I wanted to hate Jen Doll’s Village Voice cover story on what it’s like to be a single lady in New York City. I wanted to hate the very premise of someone telling me it’s All My Fault. That sounds a bit too close to my grandmother telling me to stay with the ex I wasn’t in love with, a person she’d never even met. (Every time I talk to her I sense that she sees me as a lost cause, a horrible example of what happens when you get Too Old and no one wants you. But maybe I’m projecting. In my kinder moments, I know that she wants me to be happy, and she’s seen me around enough babies in our family to know that I won’t be truly happy until I become a mom.) READ MORE