Five Best Wednesday Columns

Rhian Sasseen on the troubling relationship between celebrity and feminism, Dana Milbank on conservatives blaming Hillary for Nigeria's kidnappings, Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett on Denmark's controversial 'Voteman' ad, T.M. Luhrmann on the way we used to sleep, Leonid Bershidsky on why Elon Musk is Russia's Tony Stark. 

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Rhian Sasseen at Salon on the troubling relationship between celebrity and feminism. “The cycle by now is familiar: Every few months, an interview with a female celebrity goes viral, on the basis of the celebrity’s disavowal of the word ‘feminist’ or conservative approach to gender. Sometimes a pop star is involved, while other times, it’s an actress — Shailene Woodley, now, and Kirsten Dunst and Susan Sarandon before her,” Sasseen writes. “What’s missing from this equation are the women who don’t star in Hollywood blockbusters or go on world tours following their album release — the women that have, historically, been the focus of feminism. To pretend that the fate of feminism hinges on a single actress or pop star publicly calling herself a feminist, while continuing to profit off of an industry that rewards women for commodifying their bodies and souls for the pleasures of men, is lip service, not activism.” Ricky Camilleri at the Huffington Post tweets, “Always wondered why famous people are just expected to be smart. Fame doesn't = intelligence. Usually opposite.”

Dana Milbank at The Washington Post on conservatives blaming Hillary for Nigeria’s kidnappings. “Conservatives have reached the firm conclusion that Hillary Clinton is to blame for those Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram, 14 months after she left office. On Fox News last week, Elisabeth Hasselbeck attributed the attack to Clinton’s failure to put the group on a list of foreign terrorist organizations when she was secretary of state. That ‘perhaps could have saved these girls earlier,’ Hasselbeck declared. Rush Limbaugh, on his radio show, suggested that Clinton didn’t designate the group as terrorist because its members are black,” Milbank writes.“But while the rest of humanity reacts with revulsion, American conservatives have searched for ways to blame the kidnappings on the favorite for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.” Byron York at The Washington Examiner tweets, “The point is to ridicule conservatives, without proving, or even trying to make the case, that they're wrong”.

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett at the Guardian on Denmark’s controversial 'Voteman' ad. “You know a piece of advertising is poor when you can envisage the focus meeting and the ill-judged pitch. In the case of the Danish parliament's attempt to sex up the European elections in order to get young people voting, it probably went something like this: Focus group leader: ‘Sooo … young people. What is it that young people like these days?’ Focus group member: ‘Sex! No, CARTOON sex. Ladies' bottoms. Dolphins being used as surfboards. Senseless, authoritarian violence. And sex’,” Cosslett writes.“Thus ‘Voteman’ was born. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the cartoon has been withdrawn for being offensive. Most offensive, however, was the lameness of the entire endeavour, which would not only fail to inspire even the most puerile of would-be voters, but failed to give any reason for participating in the democratic process more sophisticated than ‘it might affect the amount of cinnamon in your Danish pastry’.”

T. M. Luhrmann at The New York Times on the way we used to sleep. “The National Sleep Foundation reports that more than one in five Americans has difficulty falling asleep almost every night, and a 2013 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that about 4 percent of adults in the United States had taken a prescription sleeping pill in the previous month. This obsession with eight hours of continuous sleep is largely a creation of the electrified age. Back when night fell for, on average, half of each 24 hours, people slept in phases,” Luhrmann writes. “In an era when we are trying to cram as much into a day as we can, Americans think about sleep as a biological function that needs to be managed. To my mind, the intriguing question is whether different sleep cultures encourage different patterns of spiritual and supernatural experience.”

Leonid Bershidsky at Bloomberg View on why Elon Musk is Russia’s Tony Stark. “If the Ukraine crisis did not exist, Tesla founder Elon Musk would want to invent it. The new Cold War between the U.S. and Russia is helping Musk realize his dream of wresting the U.S. space launch market from behemoths Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which control it through their United Launch Alliance. On Tuesday, Russian politician Dmitri Rogozin threatened to stop selling ULA the RD-180 rocket engines that the U.S. company uses in its Atlas V rockets,” Bershidsky writes. “On April 30, Musk's rocket company, SpaceX, won an injunction from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. This bans ULA from buying anything from RD-180 producer, NPO Energomash, or 'any entity, whether governmental, corporate or individual, that is subject to the control of Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin' until the U.S. government tells the court that it's OK to do so. On its merits, the injunction should not stand. Before the injunction is lifted, however, Russia may well shoot itself in the foot because Rogozin is so mad at the U.S. -- and Musk appears to be goading him on.”

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