Elevate Difference

Reviews by Mandy Van Deven

Mandy Van Deven

Mandy Van Deven is a writer, editor, and changemaker. She is the co-author of Hey, Shorty!: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets, and writes about contemporary feminist activisms, gender-based violence, sexuality, and pop culture for a variety of publications, including AlterNet, ColorLines, Marie Claire, Salon, and The Women’s International Perspective.

Silver Metal Cuff

I don't do dangly bracelets. Perhaps it's the residual punk rock girl of my youth who influences the aesthetics of what I wear around my wrists, but I just can't bring myself to get down with chains and charms and all of that froo-froo stuff when it comes to arm adornment. For me, it's cuffs, bangles, or bust. Tano Jewelry's Silver Metal Cuff ($14.99) is the epitome of what I look for in a bracelet. It's chunky, but not too heavy. Its design is interesting without being too busy.

Imperia Necklace

Have you ever heard a peacock scream? While I was visiting Kolkata's Marble Palace during last summer's monsoon, I happened across the mansion's hodgepodge collection of animals, which I am hesitant to call a "zoo" despite that being what it is. My friends and I were buying time since our trek across town to the museum was through knee-deep water, and we wanted the level to fall a bit before heading back on to the street.

Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech

"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." - Voltaire Tonight at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) you should turn the channel to HBO to watch the television debut of Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech, a documentary about the evolution of freedom of speech in America. At eighty minutes, this film by Emmy Award-winning director Liz Garbus packs an intellectual and emotional punch that is sure to stimulate conversation amongst its viewers, whatever their political leanings.

Doppelgänger Alert!

Coming onto the hipster scene in Germany just one year ago, Missy Magazine looks at pop culture, fashion, art, sex, and music through a feminist lens. Missy is being called the "little sister" of Emma, the country's leading feminist magazine known for its serious journalism (think Ms.), but Missy doesn't need anyone to watch over her; she's standing on her own two feet, out of the shadow of her so-called older sibling.


Reading this review will tell you all you need to know about Taken. If you haven't see the film, perhaps now is the time for you to cease reading, as spoilers abound.

Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power

Men Speak Out is an important book for feminism.

Bunny Love Kit

There’s something to be said for a sex toy that intimidates your boyfriend. Upon seeing the Rabbit Habit in the Bunny Love Kit, my partner looked at me and said, “Well, it’s finally happened. I’m officially outdated and have been replaced by technology. There’s no way I can do all of that.” Luckily for him, I don't expect him to. Technology has come a long way, indeed, and the Bunny Love Kit has all of the makings for a night (or day… or weekend… or…) of intense and mind-blowing self-satisfaction.

Tour Tote

Is it possible to have a bag that’s cooler than you are? My street cred increased substantially when I started carrying around the Tour Tote by SNAP design. You see, I live in New York City, but I’m a Southern girl (Athens, GA, baby!) at my core, so I constantly have to negotiate the internal tug-of-war between my current persona (Big City Trendsetting Fashionista) and the persona of my upbringing (Small Town Working Class Thrifter).

Canon / Verses

Being an Ani DiFranco fan has been a part of pretty much every feminist’s rite of passage since she came on the scene in the early ‘90s with the release of her self-titled album. Now seventeen years, two DVDs, and nearly thirty albums (including remixes, tributes, and live discs) later, DiFranco has simultaneously released a retrospective double-CD and book of poetry that show just how much she has grown personally, politically, and artistically.

Viona Echo 15 Laptop Case

I live in New York City, where fashion and muggings reign. So what's a girl to do if she wants to keep her laptop safe and fit in with the fashion elite? Lexie Barnes knows. You wanna know why? Because she's from Chicago, a town with these same two afflictions. Her solution? Make products that look a little too cute to hold anything of value. That way would-be thieves are fooled into thinking that the flowery bag you're carrying holds only femme-y items, like lipstick and tissues, and won't bother you.

Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters

Jessica Valenti is a part of the feminist blogger elite, and for good reason. The blog she helped to establish, Feministing.com, receives a significant amount of web traffic and is well-known among young, internet savvy, hip feminists. Full disclosure: I read Feministing every now and then. Having read Valenti’s writing on the blog—which tends to be oversimplified and, quite frankly, bratty—I was hoping her analysis in book form would show a tad more depth.

Life Support

HIV isn't the death sentence that it used to be, but that doesn't mean it isn't affecting people's lives in enormous ways. Life Support is a new film starring Queen Latifah, inspired by a true story, that tackles the complexities of living with the virus, particularly as low-income, women of color. This film couldn't come at a better time, as infection rates continue to grow among young, African American girls.


(spoiler alert) It is settled. Grindhouse is officially deemed a feminist film because, well, I say it is.


Raw. Overwhelming. Exposed. Hot. Emotionally messy. I'm describing the much lauded, controversial, and groundbreaking film Shortbus from John Cameron Mitchell, but I’m also telling you how I feel in this moment having just watched it for the first time. My friends have been telling me to see this film since its theatrical release in October 2006.

Little JULES Necklace

Upon discovering the absence of a company creating jewelry for babies that actually fits their tiny limbs, mother and designer Tania Condon began making bling for babies, starting with her own son, Julian, whom she has since named her company after. Compliments abound and Condon realized she could take her talents to a new, entrepreneurial level, and that's just what she did.

Vanderbilt A-Light Lamp

Bringing the urban landscape into the home environment, designer Donna Jo Brady creates lighting fixtures that illuminate the beauty in street culture. The construction of the Vanderbilt A-Light Lamp base is sleek and modern, which contrasts the gritty artwork on the lampshade itself. The design melds together two different artistic worlds in a way that exemplifies the way they compliment each other. On this lamp, dripping paint and rust eating away at metal meet a clean birch wood base.

Trinity of ChocoLove

It may shock you to hear that I'm not a fan of chocolate. (You may pick your jaw up from the ground now.) I've become familiar with the looks of disbelief after I make this radical confession. So why would a girl who doesn't like chocolate want to review the dreaded confection? Well, from time to time I get a hold of something that gives me hope, and I'm not afraid to be proven wrong. Thanks should be given to Chloe Jo for making me privy to Painter Girl Chocolates, a company that makes me glad I'm not dogmatic in my sweets aversion.

Mosaicii Makeup Bag

I don’t even own a lot of makeup, y’all, but when this make up bag came through my door, I knew I had to have it. Tanja Koch has an eye for fabrics and uses a diverse mix of vintage, mod, and retro patterns to create bags and wristlets that attract the hip and the fashion conscious. As if the interesting outer fabrics aren’t enough, the bag also has a beautiful, smooth, satin lining.

Washable Menstrual Pads

A few years ago I started vibing on the eco-feminist tip by using re-usable, washable menstrual pads and the DivaCup, a tampon substitute that catches menstrual fluid in a small, silicone container that you insert into the vaginal canal. Both methods are an excellent way to be good to the environment, and your own body. At first, I was skeptical. I'm not the earth goddess type that you might expect to be pimping these products. In fact, I had a lot of questions about the practicality of use. How does this thing work again? Will these really be as easy as using disposable pads?

Pom-Pom Makeup Bag

Michelle Kline (aka SNAP design) is a master of minimalist design. She takes an ordinary object (in this case a makeup bag) and makes it fabulous by adding a little hint of detail while also relying on the color palate to speak to one's aesthetic preference. And you know what?

Smoy Photocuffs

I live in Brooklyn, NY and about a year ago I started seeing these postcards stapled on light posts and the sides of buildings for Photocuffs. Being a lover of most all things crafty, I said the web address twelve times in my head every time I passed one of these cards, but being a crazy busy activisty gal, I consistently forgot to check out the website.