Zoë Heller is the author of Everything You Know, Notes on a Scandal, and The Believers. (August 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

‘Hot’ Sex & Young Girls

Danielle, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, 2010; photograph by Rania Matar from her book A Girl and Her Room (2012), which collects her portraits of teenage girls in their bedrooms in the US and Lebanon. It includes essays by Susan Minot and Anne Tucker and is published by Umbrage Editions.

American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers

by Nancy Jo Sales

Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape

by Peggy Orenstein
By some measures, girls appear to be faring rather well in twenty-first-century America. Teenage pregnancy rates have been in steady decline since the 1990s. Girls have higher graduation rates than their male counterparts at all educational levels. The popular culture abounds with inspirational images and anthems of girls “leaning in” and “running the world.” But according to two new, rather bleak books, these official signs of progress have given us an unduly rosy impression of the modern girl’s lot.

Hillary & Women

Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works

by Jay Newton-Small

My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency

by Doug Henwood
In addition to emphasizing what her presidency would do for women, Clinton and her surrogates have been working hard to invoke what it might mean for women in a grander, symbolic sense. As a woman president, she tells us, she wouldn’t just work for radical change, she would be radical change.

The Queen on Broadway

Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience

The Audience

a play by Peter Morgan, directed by Stephen Daldry, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, New York City, March 8–June 28, 2015
It is pretty rich that Peter Morgan should ask us to swoon and sympathize with a Queen who invokes the divine right of kings in an argument about why she needs a yacht. And it’s richer still that he should attempt, in the same play, to persuade us that the Queen is a woman of deeply liberal convictions.

Rape on the Campus

Rutgers students and faculty marching in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault in the ‘Help Carry the Weight’ campaign, New Brunswick, New Jersey, October 2014. This march and others around the country were inspired by Emma Sulkowicz, a senior at Columbia who alleges she was raped by a fellow student and has been carrying a mattress on campus every day to protest the university’s handling of her case.
Few would disagree that the systems for preventing and prosecuting sexual assault on US campuses are in need of change. But the efficacy and fairness of recent reforms that focus on making college grievance procedures more favorable to complainants and on codifying strict new definitions of sexual consent remain highly questionable.

The Hard Work of Marriage

Rosamund Pike in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, based on the novel by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

a film directed by David Fincher
It is one of the uncontested wisdoms of our era that “marriage is hard work.” The belief that conjugal happiness can be earned only by rigorous and sustained emotional labor is so deeply entrenched in the common culture that when Amy Dunne, the female protagonist of David Fincher’s new movie, Gone Girl, boasts cheerfully of finding marriage “easy,” it is as if she had entered Dracula’s castle scoffing at the existence of vampires: the audience knows at once that her hubris must be punished.