The Notorious, Mixed-Race New Orleans Madam Who Turned Her Identity Into a Brand

By Repackaging the Myths of the Tragic Octoroon and the Self-Made Woman, Lulu White Crafted a Persona That Haunts Beyoncé's "Formation"

In 2016, music and pop-culture idol Beyoncé released the album Lemonade to rapturous reviews. As a historian of New Orleans, I was especially intrigued by the video for one of the songs on the album, “Formation.” The video includes iconic images of the city: Katrina flood waters and post-flood graffiti; “second-lines”; marching bands; crawfish eating; and even a dancing “Mardi Gras Indian.” As we move through various neighborhoods, we visit a church service, a St. Charles Avenue mansion, and, in what appears to be a move through time into the …

Can Colleges Teach America What Consensual Sex Looks Like?

"Yes Means Yes" Policies Work, But a Backlash Has Slowed Their Adoption

American college campuses, after considerable struggle, are succeeding in drawing a clearer line between consensual and non-consensual sex. But it’s far from clear when the rest of society will follow …

What the Gender Reveal Fad Says About Modern Pregnancy

A New Ritual Speaks to Anxieties Surrounding the Medicalization of Childbearing

My youngest daughter often asks me to tell her about the day when, pregnant with her, I was riding to work on the subway and wondering whether she would be …

Lessons From a Brief Stint In Porn

My Job Was Entering Tags and Names Into a Database. It Taught Me a Few Things About Regulating a Strange Business.

I got the job from a friend who couldn’t handle the sight of so many naked women. “I thought,” she said, “that my lady parts were unique and special.” She …

The Cult Of Priestly Celibacy

For Over 1,500 Years, the Catholic Church Has Found Virtue In Extremes of Self-Denial. It’s Time To Become More Human.

If one argues that priestly celibacy is unnatural, Vatican officials should not complain, since they claim, or even boast, that it is a supernatural sign for others. The priest points …

How I Had Sex in 1950

Navigating Birth Control Before the Pill

I was a virgin on my wedding night. This is neither a confession nor a brag, simply a statement of fact. It was expected. The year was 1950. Horror stories …