Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Myth about Boys

A nice summary of the article of the same title by David von Drehle appearing in the July 26 issue Time Magazine, sent via Steve Mintz, with my favorite line in bold:
“The Dangerous Book” – a best-selling celebration of boyhood past – has tapped into a larger anxiety about raising young men. Observers of the boy “crisis” contend that families, schools and popular culture are failing boys, leaving them restless bundles of anxiety – misfits in the classroom and video-game junkies at home. They suffer from an epidemic of “anomie,” one psychologist says, adrift in a world of change without the help they need to navigate. There are statistics to back up every point in the sad litany, but also people eager to flay nearly every statistic. For instance: Is it bad that more boys are in special education, or it is better that they are getting extra help from specially trained teachers? And haven’t boys always tended to be more restless than girls under the discipline of high school and more likely to wind up in jail? Ultimately, the subject of boys is a bog of sociology in which a clever researcher can unearth evidence to support almost any point of view. This field, like so many others, has been infiltrated by the left-right political noise machine: Our boys have become cannon fodder in the unresolved culture wars waged by their parents and grandparents. But with fresh eyes on fresh facts, more upbeat conclusions are apparent. Worrying about boys – reading and writing books about them, fretting over dire trends and especially taking more time to parent them – is paying off. The next step is to let boys really blossom.

I Heart Bookslut!

Just found a review of Sisterhood, Interrupted by Eryn Loeb on my number one favorite book site, Bookslut! As Daphne, who is sitting across from me with her computer, Battleship-style, can attest, I am literally jumping out of my seat.

Demos Forum on Sisterhd Interruptd to Air on Cable this Thursday

I just learned that the forum that Demos, NCRW, Woodhull, and Ms. Foundation sponsored last week on my book will air this Thursday (Aug. 2) from 9:30AM to 10:30 AM ET on Truth For A Change, Time Warner Channel 34, and streaming simultaneously 9:30 AM ET here: http://www.mnn.org (select channel 34).

Monday, July 30, 2007

Men as Models for Parenting and Work

New York Times film reviewer Matt Zoller Seitz has an intriguing review of No Reservations (July 27). Seitz notes how while the Catherine Zeta-Jones' character can't quite figure out how to combine parenthood and work as a chef, the Aaron Eckhart character literally and metaphorically brings the little girl (Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin)into the kitchen. I smell a trend -- and it's one I like. In the August 6 issue of US Weekly--which, yes, I proudly on the plane last night, while my neighbor, a lovely intern who works at The Nation, poured through her glossy -- there's a feature on "Sexy Dads" that similarly posits Hollywood men as models for combining parenting and work. Now put that in your oven and bake it.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Marco, Me, and Sisterhood Interrupted in Big Sur

On a break from seriousness, here's a pic Marco just sent me from our trip out west (aka "book tour")...

The Mommy Gap at Work

Taking a moment away from BlogHer to note that tomorrow's New York Times Magazine article, “Family-Leave Values” by Eyal Press, features the work of two stellar scholars, Joan Williams and Shelley Correll. Here's a sneak-preview, courtesy of Steve Mintz of the Council on Contemporary Families:
The results, as reported in the May 2007 issue of The American Journal of Sociology, are striking. Among the volunteers, mothers were consistently viewed as less competent and less committed and were held to higher performance and punctuality standards. They were 79 percent less likely to be hired and, if hired, would be offered a starting salary $11,000 lower than nonmothers. Fathers, by contrast, were offered the highest salaries of all. Meanwhile, in the test run with real-world employers, the hypothetical female applicants without children were more than twice as likely as equally qualified mothers to be called back for interviews.

Sigh. The mommy gap is alive and well.

LiveBlogging BlogHer: Earn Our Votes

My mother and my 98-year-old grandmother drove me down to Navy Pier this morning (guess who drove), and I'm jumping in, in medias res, to one of the session I've most been looking forward to: "Earn Our Votes: What Questions Do Women Bloggers Want Candidates to Answer in Election 2008?"

The panel begins with a series of presentations by pollsters. Anita Sharma of Lake Research Partners is talking. So here we go:
In 2006, women decided the country needed a new direction. Women's votes were key in VA, MO, and MT, where the races were close. Unmarried women, the fastest growing demographic in the US, were more likely to vote for the Dems in 2006. They are 47% of American women. Turnout among this group shot up in 2006.

Women's agenda is broader than men's: women are concerned about Iraq, but also child care, early education, equality for women, and the environment.

Independent and Dem women put health care at the top of their concerns, while Rep women put the war on top. Number 2 on Dem women's agenda is Social Security, and number 3 is economy and jobs.

When asked about the importance of having a woman Speaker, over 1/2 of the women surveyed said it was important.

Will 2008 be the year of the woman president? Recent data published in the NY Times/CBS News poll, 70% of Dem women view Hillary favorably, while only 15% of Rep women do.

Hillary is most popular among single women (54% view her favorably. 39% of married women do.)

Totally interesting. But here's where I really wake up: One of the panelists comments that married swing voters have trouble with Hillary because she, as a professionally successful married woman and mother, has been able to have it all. Say WHAT? Way to fuel the overblown mommy wars with false ammo.

But thank goodness. Jenn Pozner of Women in Media and News to the rescue. Jenn notes that media coverage may portray women as making decisions out of emotions like jealousy, but isn't it important to also emphasize how women, more often, actually care about more than that and vote based on policy issues?

Panelist Sarah Simmons counters, "But the reality is that women are challenged by other women's success." Sigh. Meow. (Sarah served in the Office of Strategic Initiatives in the Bush White House, not that that's relevant, just throwing it out there.) Lisa Stone poses the general question to the panel of pollsters, do women vote based on policy, or personality? The panelists answer: both.

Lisa Stone--a fabulous moderator and provocateur--asks if anyone in the audience would vote for a candidate based on her gender. Jenn Pozner notes aloud that NOW President Kim Gandy, who is here in the house, didn't raise her hand. So Lisa invites Kim to speak. Among other smart responses, Kim speaks about the power of the mirror. She also says it's important for our sons to see that women can be leaders. Hells yeah.

Time for breakout group, then off to lunch...I'm afraid this will be my last "live" post for now, as after the business sessions this afternoon, my parents are picking me up for some much-needed family time while I'm here. For old times sake, we're heading to the Lincoln Park Zoo. But watch for more coverage of this and other sessions over at the BlogHer site.

Friday, July 27, 2007

LiveBlogging BlogHer: Resource list (in progress)

Here are some hot resources I'm hearing about, to check out:

On marketing:

Seth Godin's blog
Made to Stick

On writing good headlines for posts:

On finding speaking venues:
Speakernetnews.com newsletter
BlogHer has a speakers wiki

Technical tools:
(The entire presentation for the tech tools session today, complete with links, is here)
Google custom search engine (see here for example of how this works)
alexa.com (to check for broken links)
websiteoptimization.com (to check and improve the speed of your site)
searchengineland.com (to research your keywords and phrases for search engine optimization)

On streamlining blogging workflow:
(The enitre presentation for the workflow session today is here)

Live Blogging from BlogHer 2007

This one's for Laura and Elizabeth, who can't be here:

My favorite quote from the welcome session: "Blogging is the gateway drug to technology." - Lisa Stone

And my second favorite quote: "Everyone here is press."

Gratitude Friday

I'm writing from a Starbucks around the corner from my dad's office here in downtown Chicago, waiting for the opening bell of BlogHer to ring. Yesterday's Demos Women's Leadership Forum about my book was truly a high. Thank you to all you who came out -- especially those who had to stand in the doorways! Respondents Mary Hartman of the Institute for Women's Leadership at Rutgers and Desiree Flores from the Ms. Foundation were fabulous (and said such nice things!). Ever since my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Furstenburg, taught us to say "Thank you, Grandma, thank you", I've been a firm believer in gratitude. So I thought I'd share the public thanks part of my talk:
I begin with a story about an intergenerational exchange.

When the folks at Demos and I had our first conversation about putting together this forum, I was working on Q&A document for my publisher to send around with the book, and I sent an early draft to Linda Tarr-Whelan. There was a question about what are the stereotypes that different generations of women, and in particular, feminists, have of each other. I wrote in response that feminists have fallen into the worst kind of generational stereotyping. “Veteran feminists, Boomers, tend to think younger women are self-hating, apolitical bimbos who aspire to be Bettie Page instead of Betty Friedan.” I then wrote, “Younger feminists think veterans are man-hating power-mongerers who won’t pass the torch and never go online.”

And Linda rightly stopped me there and said “Which Boomer women are you talking about? And what kind of feminism? Academic feminism?”

And in doing so she reminded me, of course, to be wary of falling into the broad stereotyping that I rail against in my book.

So I preface my talk by saying that there are indeed shining examples of cross-generational collaboration among women and within the feminist movement. And as I’ve toured the country these past two months, I’ve been struck by the connections that I’ve witnessed during and after some of my readings.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that Demos itself has partnered with the Building Movement Project, and together they’ve done stellar work on the topic of generational change and nonprofit leadership.

The Ms. Foundation has been a stalwart supporter of younger women’s organizing.

The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership is built around the premise that older women leaders need to mentor younger ones.

And various women at the National Council for Research on Women have personally mentored me since I was in college – I’ve been working on and off with women’s research centers within this network pretty much since my senior year.

So I want to give kudos where kudos are due. And I want to send forth a note of profound gratitude for the hard work that these organizations do. I feel honored and humbled to be here in a room with such change-makers. I thank you all for coming together to cosponsor this event. You are the avant-garde. I look forward to the day that you are the norm....

Thursday, July 26, 2007

If at BlogHer this weekend, come say hi!

This is my first participation in a meme (thanks, PunditMom!), so bear with me. My 10-second introduction to folks at the BlogHer conference in Chicago, where I'm headed after today's Demos event here in NYC:

I AM...
->the author of two books this year -- Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild (just came out) and Only Child
->a former-academic-turned-pop-writer
->according to Courtney Martin, a "writer, feminist, and entrepreneur"
->living in NYC (but was born in Chicago!)
->co-founder of the webjournal, The Scholar & Feminist Online
->a consultant specializing in women's issues
->according to Lisa Johnson, a hot dancer
->very excited about attending my first BlogHer conference!


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wow! Technology!

For homepage improvement, see here.

On My Shelf: While Girls Go Mild, Women in their Prime Go Wild

So I'm in the middle of Wendy Shalit's Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It's Not Bad to Be Good. Watch for a review from me soon over on The American Prospect. I promise to do the kind of reading diary here on Girl with Pen that I did while reading Leslie Bennetts earlier this summer.

Once again, we cycle. I'm intrigued by Shalit's argument that there's now a "fourth wave" of feminists who feel alienated from the "third-wave" feminist "establishment". How cool that we're now an establishment, huh? Gee, that was fast. Eager to hear others' thoughts on the book and the issues she raises. So stay tuned....

And in the meantime, check out this book on the other end of the age:lust continuum -- Prime: Adventures and Advice on Sex, Love, and the Sensual Years, by the sizzling Pepper Schwartz!

Love Letter to Elle

I just wrote my first love letter to Elle. As folks may know, their current issue features a spread called The Incredible Shrinking Woman with an essay by Gloria Feldt that I think is fantastic. If you agree, feel free to send Elle your love - cuz we know they're going to get hate mail for it too.

The Rise of the Feminist Bad-Ass - Now on YouTube!

A bit of the reading I did at Cody's in Berkeley is now up on YouTube, thanks to FORA.tv. I love the title they gave it, hehe.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Shameless Self-Promotion

I'm so excited -- I just learned they're expecting a more-than-full house for the Demos forum on my book this Thursday. Come one, come all! But come early, or you might not get a seat....

Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild
July 26, 2007
NYRAG, 79 Fifth Ave, 4th Floor (between 15th and 16th St)
New York City

For more info and to register (the event is free), click here.

Refreshments will be served.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Live Blogging During the Democratic CNN/YouTube Debate

Well, the personal sure is political here on CNN tonight! And there's nothing like watching young citizens on YouTube call on politicians to walk their walk. I'm loving the question during the green section, about whether the candidates took a private jet to the debate, and during the economy section, the one about whether they'd do the job for minimum wage, and the one during the education section about whether they sent their kids to public or private school. Unlike the business-as-usual debate, I thought these questions challenged the candidates to answer with a rare spontaneous candor--which, for the most part, they did. That public/private school one really got me, though. Aside for the candidate who was all about Catholic school, anytime someone answered that their kids went to private school, they went all defensive about how it was extenuating circumstances and all. (Yeah, right, says this public school baby.)

But the biggest miss: When the young woman who works at Planned Parenthood asked the candidates whether they've talked to their children, honestly, about sex, to a tee the candidates called upon answered that they've talked to their kids about "inappropriate touching" and how to avoid sexual predators. Methinks they missed the point. Thoughts?

Hey wait - did John Edwards really just say he didn't like Hillary's jacket? Did JOe Biden just say what he liked most about Dennis Kucinich was his wife?! Did Jeffrey Toobin really just say it was like watching Gladys Knight and the Pips (ie Hillary = Gladys)?!

This debate is hands down the most fun I've seen in a while.

New Research on Women Leaders: Damned Every Which Way?

Oh, Hillary, how they love to hate you. We know by now that women leaders are held to impossible double standards--damned if they appear too "soft" or "caring" or, in the case of politics, too focused on "women's issues," and damned if they don't appear to be any of these things. Ann Friedman at feministing had a smart post on Hillary coverage last week, as did Judith Warner over at Domestic Disturbances.

Looking to understand the phenomenon further? Catalyst's latest report (released July 17) is on the issue behind this issue--stereotypes and perceptions others have of women who vie for leadership. Catalyst focuses on female CEOs, but the lessons apply in other realms too. Check out coverage of the report ("The Double-Bind Dilemma for Women in Leadership: Damned if You Do, Doomed if You Don’t") in CNNMoney, but to get the goods, go straight to the source.

Press queries:
Susan Nierenberg

Tune into The Judith Warner Show Today at 4pm ET...

...for a conversation about Sisterhood, Interrupted.

It's on XM radio, and for those who haven't yet figured out XM (hi Mom!), click here to listen in.

Judith, who writes my favorite New York Times blog, Domestic Disturbances, had me on for the whole show, so it's a pretty in-depth conversation. She is an excellent interviewer, deeply informed, and truly makes you think.

Monday - 5 AM ET
Saturday - 4 PM ET
Sunday - 1 PM ET

Sunday, July 22, 2007

FORA.tv filming

For those of you who whose cities I missed during the latest leg of my book tour, here's another chance: FORA.tv filmed the reading at Cody's in Berkeley. (I can't watch it, because I can't stand watching myself on tv, but feel free!)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Men Happiest with Smart Wives

A new Australian study sheds light on this ever-surprising finding. What I can't help thinking when I read stuff like this is how degrading it is to men to assume they prefer bimbos. Ok, I know I know, a lot of them probably do. (Marco, your thoughts?!)

I wrote about this in Psychology Today back in 2004 - I still get emails about the article, which an extremely savvy editor there provocatively titled "The New Trophy Wife". The response to pieces like this makes me scratch my head all the more. And makes me want to write about it further, too. Hmm.

(Thanks to Katie over at the Lisa Birnbach Show for the link!)

Feminists Getting Down

Just had to post this picture Lisa Johnson sent me from the National Women's Studies Association conference. That's me in the glasses. And I think I'm rockin out with Heather Hewett? Can't tell. Anyway, who says feminism isn't funny.

And speaking of, if you're in NYC, here's an event for you:

Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Join New York Women in Communications Inc. for this exclusive, ONE-TIME engagement of some of the funniest the female comedians in New York! Enjoy lots of laughter, food and drink, while supporting a good cause!

Carolyn Castiglia, Karith Foster, Leighann Lord, Lynne Koplitz, Robin Gelfenbein & Andrea Olten....

...comediennes who have performed on Comedy Central, VH1, MTV2, Nick-at-Nite, HBO, NBC and more!!

With Mistress of Ceremonies: Maggie Mistal
Host, "Making a Living With Maggie" Martha Stewart Living Radio

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
NBC'S Historic Studio 8H at Rockefeller Center

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I Heart Lisa Birnbach

Truly, I do. Lisa (pictured left) interviewed me this morning on her show, and her questions, as to be expected, were incredibly thoughtful. We were talking on the air about how the having-it-all debate plays out among younger women, and, during a break, Lisa brought her 10 year old daughter into the studio to say goodbye. Said (adorable) daughter was leaving for a trip today with her dad. Work/family in action. I found it highly appropriate.

Lisa's producer proposed the possibility of a panel on the intergenerational issues (how's that for alliteration) with me, Gloria Steinem, and Courtney Martin. How fun would THAT be?!

I'll try to figure out how to post the mp3 file, when I get it, here. (If any of my bloggy mentors out there know how to do this, please feel free to shoot me a note!)

Tune into GreenStone Radio today at 9:20am!

I'm a guest this morning on The Lisa Birnbach Show -- can't wait!! (GreenStone is a pioneering project in women's radio, brought to us by the amazing women behind the Women's Media Center...)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Demos Forum on Sisterhood, Interrupted July 26

I'm back in NYC, trying to remember why I love it here, when California has the sun, the surf, the fresh air...

Well, yes, here is one reason: Four of my favorite organizations -- Demos, the National Council for Research on Women, the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, and the Ms. Foundation -- are cosponsoring a forum on my book next Thursday. If you're in the NYC area, please come! The event will take place at the NYRAG offices located at 79 Fifth Ave (betw 15th and 16th Sts), 4th floor. It's free and open to the public, but registration is required. You can also register by calling 212-633-1405 x533. Please spread word by forwarding the invite, found here:


(Or this link: http://www.demos.org/events.cfm)

I'll give a talk based on my book, and panelists Desiree Flores and Dr. Mary S. Hartman will respond with discussion of the experiences of younger and older feminists in relationship to the movement and each other, how multiple generations of women can learn from one another's activism to bridge generational differences, and what the future of the feminist movement looks like. The event will be moderated by Shari Cohen, Director of the Demos Fellows Program and a very savvy lady. Refreshments provided!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Book Tour Stop 4: California

Greetings from sunny CA! (WHY do I live in NYC? Oh right- because I love it. But it's hard to remember that sometimes, from here.)

Some quickies, since my host, my best friend Rebecca, is currently calling me (freshly picked raspberries and blackberries await):

Last night's reading at Cody's in Berkeley (above) was a blast. My favorite audience, I think, ever. Though I kind of feel that after each reading, so I'm probably not an accurate judge. Thank you to Laura, Josh, Elline, and others -- including, I think, Bitch founder and heroine Lisa Jervis -- for coming out! ForaTV filmed it, so I'll post the link when it's available.

Sisterhood, Interrupted in the news today: The Detroit News

And over at MotherTalk too (oh how I love those ladies...)

Next week I'm a guest on The Lisa Birnbach Show - will post details when I got em. And next week I'm going to be SheSource's "expert of the week." How cool is it that chicks now have our own radio, and database? If you don't know about Greenstone Media or SheSource yet, be sure to check them out.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Three Takes on the NWSA Conference

Linda Hirshman invited Courtney Martin and I to share our responses to the NWSA conference, with hers, on The New Republic's Open University blog. It's posted today, here!

Katie Roiphe, Take 2

A must-read by Rebecca Traister appears in today's Salon: "Katie Roiphe's Morning After". Katie's new book, Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Portraits of Married Life in Literary London, is being met with rave reviews. And in her profile of feminism's enfant terrible, Rebecca does a trademark excellent job of deconstructing a grown up and somewhat reconstructed Katie Roiphe. She asks a telling question: Is it Katie, or her critics, or both, who have grown up?

Rebecca and I share something massively in common: Katie Roiphe is part of the reason we do what we do. (Check out page 3!)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Excerpt and Review Now Up on Mothers Movement Online!

Bear with me - one more post about book coverage. (And I promise, musings to follow soon...!)

I am humbled and thrilled that the savvy momthinkers/writers out there are taking an interest in my book. The current issue of Mothers Movement Online (love that tagline - "Resources and reporting for mothers and others who think about social change") features an excerpt of Sisterhood, Interrupted -- and a review by MMO editor Judith Stadtman Tucker!

Catching Some Mojo with Amy Tiemann

This week Mojo Mom Amy Tiemann features me on The Mojo Mom Podcast. Mojo is my new bloggy heroine. Not only does she do podcasts (check out her recent interviews with Arianna Huffington, Lynn Harris, Gail Evans, Pam Stone, Leslie Bennetts and the like), she's also written a fabulous book that is on my summer reading list, called, yep, Mojo Mom. Amy has some serious mojo, and doing this podcast with her has been one of my favorite talky experiences so far. So thank you, Jan Brady - I mean, Amy! To get the reference, go visit Amy's page :)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Go Ye Southern Feminists!

I love this magazine:


And be sure to check out the column by Alison Piepmeier, director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program at the College of Charleston and coeditor of Catching a Wave: Reclaiming Feminism for the 21st Century and Out in Public: Configurations of Women's Bodies in 19th Century America. Oh yeah, and author of great hair.

My Summer Reading List

...is a work in process, and is growing. Here's what I've got so far, and do let me know if there's feministy/pop culture/intergenerational stuff coming out that I should add!

Wendy Shalit, Girls Gone Mild (because how can I not, with that provocative title?!)

Kristal Brent Zook, Black Women's Lives: Stories of Power and Pain (Kristal is one of my co-panelists on the intergenerational panel we're putting together)

Maria Elena Buszek, Pin-Up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, Popular Culture (this came out last summer; Maria is an assistant prof of art history at the Kansas City Art Institute)

Sylvia Hewlett, On Ramps and Off Ramps (I went to her book party in this fabulous apartment and got a free book; my favorite moment was when she stepped up on a homemade stage to address her admirers, because she is, like me, short)

Rachel Kramer Bussell, Best Sex Writing 2008 (ok, so it's not out til November, but I'm excited for it! Guess I'll tide myself over instead with her Caught Looking: Erotic Tales of Voyeurs and Exhibitionists)

Amy Tieman, Mojo Mom (Amy just interviewed me for her podcast and she's my newest online guru)

Kimberlee Auerbach, The Devil, the Lovers, and Me: My Life in Tarot (comes out in August; she's a dear friend of a dear friend)

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love (because I'm behind the times)

Christine Kenealley, The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language (because Chris is supersmart and so will be anything she writes)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Sisterhood: Obsession Rhetorical and Real

Obsessed by rhetoric, I have a new body to contemplate: the review headlines that my book, Sisterhood Interrupted, have spawned in the weeks since its recent release. "Why Can't These Mothers and Daughters Be Like Sisters?" asks the New York Observer. "Can Mothers Be Sisters?" muses the header on an interview I did over on Chicago Moms last week when I was in town. I'm fascinated with the whole mother-daughter-sister thing. Truly. And for those who haven't, do check out Astrid Henry's book, Not My Mother's Sister, for more. But what interests me, really, and what I've been talking about on the road is this: Sisterhood is generationally interrupted, but feminism--"young" and "old"--runs strong.

Just not together.

I use the word "sisterhood" with nostalgia and a tinge of irony in the title (wasn't ours supposed to be an ironic and self-contradictory age?!), and in the conclusion (spoiler alert?!), I talk about its limitations as an organizing metaphor for a social movement. Still, I can't help but think a lot, these days, about sisterhood metaphorical and real. Of all the questions I've been asked, one of my faves was from an interviewer (Veronica Arreola) who had read my previous book, Only Child. Veronica asked me this:
Q: "Considering that you're an only child, what does sisterhood mean to you? I have friends who are best friends with their sisters, others who rarely talk, and then others in the middle and can understand how they frame 'sisterhood.' I'm curious to see how someone without a sister frames it."

I thought I'd share my response with folks here, because I'm curious how others, veterans and novices alike, those with sisters and those without, feel about the concept of sisterhood in regard to feminism these days. So here we go--here's me:

A: As an only child, sure I idealized the idea of a sister—always wanted one—but I also saw the reality to be far more complicated. My best friend growing up was a twin, my mother's a twin. My best friend was (and is) very close with her twin, but my mother and hers didn’t become close until mid-adulthood, and they have an older sister with whom my mom has a troubled bond. I‘ve watched these sets of sisters suffer hurt feelings and envy in addition to enviable closeness and great love. So my closest models of biological sisterhood were of this loving but tempestuous relationship.

Historically, for the women’s movement, the concept of sisterhood was powerful. But the idealized vision many had quickly erupted into something much more difficult, but, I think, far more real. Sisterhood (metaphorical or real) is not about twinship—looking into the mirror and expecting to see oneself—though sadly I think that’s sometimes what happens when you get swept up by an ideal. The word “sisterhood” today elicits an eye roll from many women under 40 (confession: myself, sometimes, included!) and particularly among a younger generation of feminists who are more conscious than their foremothers about the intensely significant difference of race in particular, but I use it in my book’s title to evoke a profound sense of lost common ground. Metaphorical sisterhood to me doesn’t necessarily mean sameness, or agreement, but rather recognizing commonalities across our differences. Solidarity. Generation is a new, salient difference, but the finger pointing going on right now (“younger women are throwbacks—they’re letting feminism down by dropping of careers, and flaunting their sexuality!” “older feminists are out of touch with our issues!”) has reached a new low. Women across generations have lost sight of what we do share in common—namely, lack of affordable childcare, reproductive justice, access (still) to many of the nation’s top jobs, equal pay (77 cents on the male dollar!)…I could go on.

And on. But I want to hear from *you*. C'mon, sisters big and little, tell me what you think. Got sisterhood? Got a new, 21st century metaphor? A free book goes to the commentor with the best new metaphor - for reals.

Tips on Writing for Trade

In an era of "America's Next Top Model" and "Age of Love" (more on that soon - I'm fuming), women's studies scholars have so damn much to contribute to public debate. Yet too often this work fails to reach an audience outside of the academy. Coming off the NWSA conference this weekend, I'm primed and pumped to share more of what I've learned in recent years about going, as they say, "pop."

3 tips from the "Public Voice" workshop I gave at NWSA:

1. Contrary to what we academics (and ex-, post-, and trans-academics) have been told, writing a book for "trade" is not about dumbing it down. It's about popping it up, with purpose.

2. A dissertation by any other name is NOT a book.

3. Breaking out of academic writing requires an utter willingness to let yourself play.

5 Recommended Resources:

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
by Anne Lamott

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction--and Get It Published by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato

The Art of the Book Proposal
by Eric Maisel

Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents 2008: Who They Are! What They Want! How to Win Them Over!

If you're reading this and thinking "yes! I'm ready! let's go!" do sign up for the Girl with Pen e-mail list and I'll send notification about dates for future workshops and online courses on "Making It Pop: Translating Ideas for Trade." (And thanks again to the rockin' 45 of you who signed up for the session at NWSA!)

Monday, July 2, 2007

Our Books Are BFFs

And so are we.

I Heart Feministing!

So I'm sitting in a session at the National Women's Studies Association conference (photo, tilt left) on Saturday and Jess Valenti and Courtney Martin are projecting some websites on the screen before a crowd of rapt women's studies professors who are learning ways to reach young women, and how to use blogs in their classrooms. Then boom! My face appears on the screen, ten times its normal size. Freaky. Celina over at feministing sent me some really great interview questions last week, and that's when I realized that the interview was definitely posted. Check it out here - comments more than welcome (pls post em over at feministing, to continue the conversation...)

This pic, by the way, is rockstars Courtney and Jess doing their thing. And the fact that the picture is tilted is me doing my thing. (I'm still learning how this camera phone thing works.)

The conference was, in Lisa Johnson's term, transplendent. It was so great to meet and remeet some of my fabulous colleagues in academe (hi Alison! hi Astrid!). And I just have to add (cuz I know she'll appreciate this): Alison Piepmeier has amazing hair.

Photos from the conference to follow soon.