Five Best Thursday Columns

Charles M. Blow weighs in on the "ban bossy" debate, Andrei Lankov on North Korea's first family, Dana Stevens on Nymphomaniac: Vol. IPaul Waldman on where liberals can gain power for 2016, Eleanor Margolis on the backpeddling of gay rights. 

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Charles M. Blow at The New York Times weighs in on the “ban bossy” debate. “Much of the youth-fetishizing, particularly as it relates to women, is culturally constructed and reinforced. We hyper-sexualize little girls and juvenilize grown women. Both genuine youth and seasoned maturity are sacrificed to that altar. This is a societal disease,” Blow writes. “We have to see our girls and boys as more than skirts and pants, damsels and squires, child-bearers and breadwinners. We must see them as — and encourage them to express themselves as — fully realized beings. Girls must be given safe space to be assertive and boys to be vulnerable without feeling that they have failed a test of gender normativity.”

Andrei Lankov at Al Jazeera on North Korea’s first family. “It has always been assumed that the list of those nominated and elected to North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) is a good indicator of what is going on at the apex of power in Pyongyang. Like the results, the composition of the newly elected parliament is not surprising,” Lankov writes. “The decision to make the purge very public goes against decades of North Korean precedent. In the past, disgraced officials disappeared without trace and without comment. If anything, the family-orientated and hereditary nature of North Korean politics is likely to become even more pronounced under the reign of Kim Jong Un.”

Dana Stevens at Slate on the surprisingly dull Nymphomaniac: Vol. I. “Somewhere along the way Christian Slater will soil himself; more humiliatingly still, Shia LaBeouf will attempt a British accent. Yet for all its narrative swerves and stylistic disruptions, Nymphomaniac: Vol. I  has an exhausting sameness, a centripetal solipsism that makes that “I” at the end of the title feel vaguely like a threat: Don’t be thinking we’re anywhere near done here. I don’t know when I’ve seen a movie that’s this unpredictable while also being this dull,” Stevens writes. “Gainsbourg’s Joe, a burned-out anti-love rebel, has sex to transcend the pain and anguish of existence; von Trier, for his part, seems to be making movies lately for much the same reason. In both cases, it’s the people around them—the enervated lovers, the exhausted audience—who are left to pick up the pieces.”

Paul Waldman at The American Prospect on where liberals can gain power in the 2016 presidential race. “Movements are great, but creating and sustaining them is hard work, work most of us would rather not do. It also takes skill, timing, and bit of luck. Most of us would agree that the decline of labor unions has been disastrous for the country in many ways, and I sometimes hear people say that what the left needs is a revival of the labor movement,” Waldman writes. “If you really want your activism to have impact, you have to set your sights lower, and be in it for the long haul. There's a not-very-old saying that Republicans fear their base, while Democrats hate theirs. If you're a liberal and you want to change that, the answer is to make high-ranking Democrats fear you.”

Eleanor Margolis at the New Statesman on the backpeddling of gay rights. “All over the planet, something unnatural is happening. In Russia, India and, most recently, Uganda, gay rights are moving backwards. And in a gesture strikingly similar to the anti-communist hysteria of McCarthy-era America, a Ugandan tabloid recently ran a garish front-page article on the country’s “200 top homosexuals,”" Margolis writes. “Here in the west, it’s easy for us to look at human rights abuses in faraway places and shake our heads. Maybe we’ll suggest cutting financial aid to those countries or something. Yet when LGBT people are persecuted abroad, our own gay rights record is diminished. Every piece of homophobic legislation enacted by a foreign government has a knock-on effect on ours.”

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.