Monday, June 30, 2008

Postacademic Momitude

Academia is still in many ways a man's world, and I'm thrilled to offer this post on a just-released anthology that constitutes a truly important contribution: Mama PhD: Women Write about Motherhood and Academic Life. A copy just reached me and it's now available at stores.

I'm WAY impressed with these ladies' marketing savvy. Check out the book blog, the blog at Inside Higher Ed, the excerpt, and the shop (complete with Mama, PhD t-shirts--"let the world know you’ve got it going on, body and brain"--hats, bags, mugs, beer steins and even license plate holders)--and take notes!

Elrena Evans and Caroline Grant, author of Literary Mama's popular Mama at the Movies column, are the masterminds behind the project, and for those in the Bay Area, you can catch Caroline reading with a number of other Literary Mama editors and columnists at Book Passage in Corte Madera on Saturday, August 9th at 1pm. There's a review by Bob Drago over at Activistas, and for a sneak peak, here's a quick overview of the different sections:

Part I: The Conversation
This section contains essays representing the variety of choices women have to make as they enter academia, and the struggles and losses encountered as a result of each choice. Selected essays include topics such as:
~ choosing to have children and an academic career, in a range of fashions
~ choosing not to have children in favor of an academic career
~ choosing to delay having children in favor of an academic career

Part II: That Mommy Thing
In this section, women write about pursuing both academic careers and motherhood. Essays feature women who have experienced:
~ children before and during graduate school or the dissertation process
~ children during job searches or new appointments
~ children and the tenure track process

Part III: Recovering Academic
This section features essays from women who are redefining themselves and their careers after a period within the ivory tower. Essays talk about women who have:
~ left the academy after landing a tenure-track job
~ left the academy after achieving tenure
~ moved from teaching positions to administrative work or independent scholarship

Part IV: Momifesto
Having delved into the realms of motherhood in, out, and on the periphery of the academy, this section offers hope for the possibility of a different future, as contributors envision:
~ changes toward family-friendly university settings
~ changes in the economic structure of the academy to benefit mothers
~ changes in the tenure structure that would benefit mothers

Big kudos to Rutgers University Press for taking this project on. For another great contribution to the worklife debate as it hits academics, see the National Clearinghouse on Academic Worklife, created by the Center for the Education of Women at my alma mater the University of Michigan. The clearinghouse is a repository of articles, research & policy reports, policies, demographics, links, and more.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bridal Zen?

People keep asking me if I'm freaking out because our wedding is in 3 weeks. I have to say, I'm feeling pretty calm. Hotel still under construction? So we switched. Food at the restaurant we'd chosen for dinner the night before sucked? So we found a new one. I guess after living through the wrong marriage, planning for the right one feels pretty effortless, no matter the obstacles thrown into the course.

Maybe it's the mambo. Marco and I had our class again last night and learned a few more tricks: the crossover, the walk around, and my personal favorite, the susy q.

I think we're getting hooked. One thing's for sure: we're getting hitched. In 3 weeks.


Book News: Race and Entrepreneurship

On the heels of the news about a significant rise in the number of black women entrepreneurs here in the US, I learned about a forthcoming book called Race and Entrepreneurial Success: Black-, Asian-, and White-Owned Businesses in the United States. One of the authors happens to be married to my best gal (formerly known as maid or matron or whatever of honor), Rebecca, who herself researches youth and poverty at Stanford. (Congrats, Rob!) Here's from the book's description:
Thirteen million people in the United States--roughly one in ten workers--own a business. And yet rates of business ownership among African Americans are much lower and have been so during the last 100 years. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, businesses owned by African Americans tend to have lower sales, fewer employees and smaller payrolls, lower profits, and higher closure rates. In contrast, Asian American-owned businesses tend to be more successful. In Race and Entrepreneurial Success, minority entrepreneurship authorities Robert Fairlie and Alicia Robb examine racial disparities in business performance. Drawing on the rarely used, restricted-access Characteristics of Business Owners (CBO) data set compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, Fairlie and Robb examine in particular why Asian-owned firms perform well in comparison to white-owned businesses and black-owned firms typically do not. They also explore the broader question of why some entrepreneurs are successful and others are not.

After providing new comprehensive estimates of recent trends in minority business ownership and performance, the authors examine the importance of human capital, financial capital, and family business background in successful business ownership. They find that a high level of startup capital is the most important factor contributing to the success of Asian-owned businesses, and that the lack of startup money for black businesses (attributable to the fact that nearly half of all black families have less than $6,000 in total wealth) contributes to their relative lack of success. In addition, higher education levels among Asian business owners explain much of their success relative to both white- and black-owned businesses. Finally, Fairlie and Robb find that black entrepreneurs have fewer opportunities than white entrepreneurs to acquire valuable prebusiness work experience through working in family businesses.
Look for the book on shelves in September 2008.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I Just Joined Twitter... see what all the fuss is about over there. And this here is the picture I uploaded there. Note: I am NOT catblogging; just sharing a little picture is all. Yes, that is my cat, Amelia Bedelia.

Ok, wait, I think I just officially catblogged.

See you on Twitter?!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thinking Like a Writer

This week my authors' group, the Invisible Institute, was treated to a private talk with James B. Stewart, a staff writer at The New Yorker and author of 8 books. We were eager to hear about the trajectory of Jim's career, what sustains him, how he started, and how he's made it all work. Stewart teaches journalism at Columbia University and I'm currently reading his how-to book, Follow the Story: How to Write Successful Nonfiction. I wanted to share this passage from it with you, because it applies to the work that so many of us do, whether that be writing or research:
"The essence of thinking like a writer is the recognition that what's most interesting is what's unknown, not what is known. Thinking like a writer prizes the question more than the answer. It celebrates paradox, mystery, and uncertainty, recognizing that all of them contain the seeds of a potential story."
It's so tricky when you're writing a book proposal and you must state your argument often before you really know all the questions! But Stewart's reminder is an important one, and also makes me think of my favorite quote from Rilke, in Letters to a Young Poet:
"Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day."

Take the First GWP Poll!

In keeping with my philosophy of always trying new things here in cyberland, I just created my first blog poll. It was supereasy of course, as all things Google Blogger generally are.

The reason for my poll: I'm really eager to hear what you, GWP readers, would like to see more of here, so that I can stay in tune with what you crave. So please please take the poll and let me know, k? It's over there -->


Blogging Workshop Follow Up

At long last, some links from my last blogging workshop (Strategic Blogging for Organizations, Women's Research Centers, and Feminist Experts, June 7). Here's a sampling of sites and resources to check out from around the blogosphere. Apologies for the crazylong delay...!

Directories lists blogs by topical categories written by and for women on a wide variety of topics. lists blog carnivals that provide round-ups of the best blog writing on the web on specific topics.

Women’s organization blogs
Women’s Media Center - Majority Post
NARAL - Blog for Choice
White House Project - Change Everything
Ms. Foundation - Igniting Change
(did I miss yours? please post urls in comments!)

Blog communities & aggregators

Political blogs
Huffington Post
Talking Points Memo

Feminist blogosphere
XX-Factor (Slate)
Culture Kitchen
The Curvature
F-Word Blog

The Motherhood
WorkIt Mom
Chicago Moms Blog, Silicon Valley Moms Blog, DC Moms Blog

Blogs by academics
A Blog without a Bicycle
Feminist Law Professors
Feminist Science Prof
Culture Cat
Afrogeek Mom
Hugo Schwyzer
Baxter Sez
Quod She

Blog hosting

Photo Libraries
LOC Photostream


Nonprofit resources re new media communications
Spin Project
Tech Soup
Pro-Media Communications

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Media Studies: Bias, Punditry, and the Press

For a very thorough post on last week's forum on gender, race, class, age, and the media's coverage of the 2008 elections, sponsored by the White House Project, the Women's Media Center, and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, check out Marcia Yemen's latest in HuffPo. A report based on the findings and recommendations from that forum--drafted by yours truly--is coming soon! I'll post more details when it's ready, later in the summer.

Meanwhile, Carol Jenkins offered a great turn of phrase at that forum when she noted that members of the media have embedded themselves in the war room of this election, turning themselves into "embedded pundits." Case in point: I'm sitting here watching MSNBC and on flashes the headline "Does Obama Need Clinton as Much as the Media Thinks?" I'm screaming back at my tv: "Who the BLEEP cares what the media thinks?" Talk about simulacrum, I tell ya.

Any Takers for a Guest Post about NWSA?

I'm still lamenting having had to miss NWSA's annual conference this year, if only because I miss seeing colleagues (hi Alison! hi Astrid!). Thanks to those of you who have been sharing reports and highlights with me. If anyone who attended would like to do a guest post on the conference here at GWP, door's open! Just shoot me an email at and let me know.

Meanwhile, I'm loving that the theme for the 2009 Council on Contemporary Families conference is THE FUTURE OF RELATIONSHIPS: Men, Women, Sexuality, and the Prospects for Gender Equity. Planning is underway. The conference will take place on April 17 and 18 at the University of Illinois, Chicago. CCF's conference is one of my faves and I'm definitely hoping to go.

Blog U: Getting Active Online - Social Networking

Here's Elizabeth Curtis, with more bloggy tips for ya'll this morning--some you may already know, and some you may not! Enjoy. - GWP

Getting Active Online (Part 1)

In an increasingly wired culture, you probably find yourself spending more and more time online – for work, for fun, for shopping, and more. Wouldn’t it be great if you could effortlessly transform some of that time into powerful activism? These simple steps listed below will help you to become an activist on the internet – the easy way.


Social networking websites allow you to quickly and easily connect with individuals who share similar interests. Because of their rhizomatic nature, these websites facilitate strongly networked collaborations between people who may have never otherwise connected because of geographical or other constraints.

Step 1: Find the social networking website that is right for you.

Popular Social Networking Websites:
-Second Life

Good News: Feeling overwhelmed by the number invitations to join these websites that you receive? Google is working on streamlining the online social experience with Open Social.

Step 2: Use your new network to connect with individuals doing similar work, to support causes you believe in, or to raise awareness about important issues.

Organizing Activism: Ms. Magazine (Winter 2008) recently reported on “an underground movement” of individuals who organized via Facebook to protest sexist advertising in the tube system by placing stickers with messages on them has gained national attention in the United Kingdom. Increasingly, off-line activism is being organized online.

Find Your Cause: Facebook allows users to create “Causes” around specific issues and to fundraise for specific non-profit organizations. Many individuals and organizations report success in social networking-based fundraising.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Job Opening at the WMC

The Women's Media Center has just announced an opening for a Media Director. Know anyone? Pass it on! This is a fantastic job for the right person. Here's the scoop. -GWP

Description: The Women’s Media Center (WMC) is a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2005 by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem to make women visible and powerful in the media. The WMC is looking for a Media Director in its New York City office starting immediately. This person will build relationships with press (print, broadcast, local, national, entertainment and news), pitch women-centered storylines and spokespeople to the media, act as a resource to journalists and train women to become better media spokespeople.

Job Responsibilities
• Build and maintain relationships with media professionals including print, broadcast, local, national, entertainment and online reporters, editors and producers
• Pitch stories to media professionals, resulting in maximum coverage and visibility for women’s perspectives
• Oversee and administer media spokesperson training program in New York City
• Identify, research and document trends and developments within the media industry and recommend/implement WMC media campaigns
• Provide rapid response media support to organizations and individuals trying to raise the visibility of issues of importance to women and lead the WMC’s rapid response efforts
• Field media requests-sometimes on very tight and/or off-hour deadlines-maintaining contact databases, organizing resources, assisting reporters with stories of importance for women and assisting WMC-identified spokespeople with booking & preparation for interviews
• Plan, write, edit and send materials including press releases, alerts, e-mails and letters to media professionals
• Monitor assigned media outlets on a daily basis and track issues pertaining to the WMC.

• *Required: Strong written and oral communication skills (writing samples will be requested)
• *Required: At least four years of work within media or communications in some capacity
• *Required: Demonstrated success in media relations (examples of media placements – written or broadcast - will be requested)
• *Required: Demonstrated knowledge of women’s issues.
• Media rolodex a must
• Demonstrated project management skills and ability to work under pressure
• Excellent relationship-building skills and extremely positive attitude required
• Must demonstrate strong organizational skills, ability to manage multiple tasks to meet deadlines
• Web knowledge and savvy a must
• Background in being interviewed by print, online and broadcast media a plus
• Demonstrated commitment to team work among staff and volunteers
• Ability to work effectively with people of diverse races, ages, ethnicities and sexual identities
• Research skills a plus
• Bachelor’s degree a must
• Excellent knowledge of word processing, database programs, internet research
(Lexis Nexis and Bacons) and spreadsheet programs

The Media Director is supervised by the Vice President of Programs and Administration.

Salary is between $68-75,000 depending on experience. Benefits include, but are not limited to: Escalating vacation beginning with three weeks; Paid sick days and holidays; and Organization-paid health benefits for employees.

Glennda Testone
No phone calls please.
Note: The Women’s Media Center cannot pay for relocation at this time.

Of Pantsuits and Reporting

Well now THIS is interesting, a mea culpa (of sorts) from the Public Editor at the NYTimes: Pantsuits and the Presidency.

(More from me in a little while...)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Beyond Cindy v. Michelle

In an article in yesterday's Newsday, Lisa Witter issues a rousing plea to the media to unfetter our potential first ladies' intellect on the campaign trail. Excerpts:
The new focus on Obama's hair and hemlines comes right on the heels of the gender-biased way the media covered Clinton's campaign. If we let this go on, we risk losing an important opportunity to have a national dialogue about sexism. We should be holding the media accountable for perpetuating stereotypes. If a white woman is strong, she's considered cold - as the coverage of Cindy McCain has shown. If a black woman is strong, she's obviously angry - so go the accusations about Michelle Obama....
While America's women and girls lost the opportunity to see themselves reflected in the top job this round, what we can't do is lose the opportunity to change the way women - and first ladies - are portrayed. It's a tough line, no doubt. For the most part, we want to feel and look beautiful. We love our families and feel proud about our personal and professional accomplishments. But if we let the conversation about the first ladies focus mostly on the role and status of the conventional "Mrs.," we've lost a huge opportunity to reframe gender and marriage dynamics in our country. We all need to take it upon ourselves to strike up a conversation about how we can end sexism in America. Contact the press when they get it right - and not so right. And I'm going to write Michelle Obama to let her know that when she portrays herself as strong, I feel strong, too.
Well said, Lisa. For more from Lisa, do check out the just-released book she coauthored, titled The She Spot: Why Women Are the Secret to Changing the World and How to Reach Them. Lisa is chief operating officer of Fenton Communications, and an inspiration to many. I definitely recommend her book!

Watching Michelle

For those obsessed, like me, with how the media is and will cover Michelle Obama, do check out the new blog Michelle Obama Watch. The site is designed to be “a repository of all of the criticism, praise, and general chicanery thrown at Michelle Obama between now and November." And for any who missed Michelle Obama on The View, here's the clip:

EVENT: The Ultimate Communications Case Study

On Wednesday, June 25 (tomorrow), New York Women in Communications is hosting a panel discussion that looks at how media has effected this historic presidential election. The event has a great title: “2008 ELECTION: THE ULTIMATE COMMUNICATIONS CASE STUDY.” From the press release:
How has the 2008 election changed the way information is received, discussed and processed? How has the media created buzz and changed the way the younger generation feeds on it? What has the 2008 election taught us about communicating?....The panel will include: moderator Jere Hester, director, NYCity News Service and former city editor, New York Daily News; Amanda Michel, project director, Off the Bus: Huffington Post; Keli Goff, author, Partycrashing: How the Hip-Hop Generation Declared Political Independence; Liz Nord, senior producer, MTV News; and Jodi Kantor, political journalist, The New York Times.
Where: CUNY Journalism School (219 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018)
Time: 6:00 – 6:30pm: Networking and Refreshments
6:30 – 8:00pm: Panel Discussion
8:00 – 8:30pm: Networking Raffle
Fee: Members - $15
Non-members - $20
Registration: For more information and to register, visit

Serendipity in Central Park

I met the most amazing woman, and the most amazing 3-legged dog, yesterday in the park coming back from a visit to the place I've come to call the fertility farm (alert! I am NOT fertility blogging, just mentioning where I was coming from is all). These two have a pretty amazing story, and, as it turns out, Scheki (the dog) and Lori (the human) were profiled in April on WCBS. Schecki is short for "Schekayanu," the Jewish blessing of gratitude for reaching a happy occasion.

Finding Schecki, a victim of a bombing most likely, in Israel was a happy occasion, explains Lori in the clip. She also says: "Scheki has taught us to have this strength and love of life and not to look at what we don't have, but rather look at what we do have in life, and embrace it with a passion and exuberance."

Amen (and woof) to that.

Monday, June 23, 2008

New Study Confirms Women MIA from OpEd Pages

We knew this before, but a new study from Rutgers proves it yet again, and the NYTimes reports it: "Study Finds Imbalance on 3 Newspapers’ Op-Ed Pages". In the words of Helaine Olen, "I'm shocked! Gambling at Rick's!"

The authors of the study, Bob Sommer (who teaches public policy communications and is president of Observer Media, publisher of The New York Observer) and John R. Maycroft, a graduate student in public policy, got their data by combing through 366 opinion articles written by college teachers or researchers and published by three newspapers: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Star-Ledger, the largest-circulation newspaper in New Jersey. Their study will be published in the journal Politics and Policy. Read more about it here.

Calling all ye women: SUBMIT YOUR OPEDS! To learn how, come to Woodhull's next nonfiction writing retreat on July 11-13, where Katie Orenstein of The Oped Project will be teaching oped writing--and I'll be teaching nonfiction book proposals! More info here.

(And thanks, Helaine, for the early morning heads up!)

Blog U: An Introduction

Hey, GWP readers! This is new guest blogger, Elizabeth M. Curtis here. Loyal GWP readers might remember my previous posts that provided cultural critique and gender analysis. Well, now I'm returning to GWP - as a regular like Courtney Martin and Laura Mazer - to talk about blogging and you.

Many folks want to get more active online and make web 2.0 tools work for them, their writing, their institutions or organizations, and their causes. But sometimes a lack of tech know-how gets in the way. So, I'll be sharing the secrets of online activism and the blogosphere that I've learned since I started blogging way back in 2006 (ages ago in online time!). My goal is to break down the blogging basics and to demystify web 2.0 technology for the folks who can't wait to get active online, in the blogosphere, and beyond. A "Blog U," if you will.

My first two tutorials offered to "Blog U" students will focus on getting active online and deciding whether or not you're blog-ready. I'm looking for future tutorial topics as well. Let me know what you're interested in exploring in the comments section or email me your queries.

Also, I'll be cross-posting my "Blog U" posts on my own blog. Stop by for PDFs of "Blog U" material. Next post coming in just a few days...Stay tuned.


Friday, June 20, 2008

The Care and Feeding of Kleinfeld Brides

Before signing off for the weekend, I'm feeling compelled to share with you this sign I saw at Kleinfeld Bridal, where yesterday I went with my cousin Jen to hunt for a crinoline. The small print reads, "Thank you for your understanding; if we are delayed, it is because some of our brides need extra care and attention. Be assured when it is your turn, you will receive the same care and attention."

Um, bridezilla much?

Some of those women there Freaked. Me. Out. Including the attendant who said "that's your dress? and you're the bride?", pointing to the $200 blue number I bought at the bride's maid store on 14th Street. If it weren't for the utter coolness of Susan, the "attendant" who was assigned to me and who happened to be a Broadway costume designer moonlighting as a Kleinfeld's outfitter, I think I would have run screaming. Instead, I stayed, and got tips from Susan and the ever-savvy Jen about what else women in the 1950s wore. And I left there loving my little blue number all the more.

Economic Downturn by Age, Race, and Gender

This week my colleagues at the Council on Contemporary Families released a briefing paper, "Families and the Current Economic Crisis," examing the maelstrom of financial dilemmas facing Americans today, along with the far-reaching human impact. The report is available at Here's a quick rundown of the different effects of the current economic crisis by age, race, and gender:


Men and women are affected by the job market cuts differently. In the recession of 2001-2004, women lost jobs at a higher rate than men. Today the reverse is true. From November 2007 through April 2008, men lost 700,000 jobs, especially in traditional "family-wage" occupations such as manufacturing and construction. Women, by contrast, gained almost 300,000 jobs, since female-dominated fields such as health care have remained strong. No one is "winning" any gender battles here, though. The pay gap between men and women had been narrowing for several years, but this past year it began to widen again. And in families where women have become the main providers, the results are mixed. Some families report increased respect by husbands and children for women's economic contributions. But men who have a strong identification with the "male breadwinner" role experience a decline in marital quality when their wife begins to bring in a larger share of family income.
Thirty million Americans are over age 65, and with the average social security payment set at $1,079, there is not much of a margin to cover rising medical, prescription, food, and gas bills. Since more than a third of retired Americans help their children financially, according to a recent AARP poll, their financial troubles may trickle down to their children and grandchildren as well. The AARP reports that the majority of baby boomers (aged 44-62) say they are struggling to make ends meet. Sixty percent have cut back on extras and 25 percent report having trouble paying their mortgage. Young adults aged 25-35 have their own issues. Many are still paying off student loans, and 35 percent are not saving for retirement at all.


As is so often the case, African Americans and Hispanics are at higher risk both for job loss and foreclosure than are whites. Studies consistently show that even where black and white families earn the same yearly income, African-Americans have much lower levels of accumulated wealth, largely because their mobility has been more recent and they did not inherit homes or assets from earlier generations. More than half of all mortgages granted to African Americans in 2006 were sub-prime. In fact, a family living in an upper-middle class African American neighborhood is twice as likely to have a sub-prime mortgage as a lower-middle class white family. Hispanics were also over-represented in the sub-prime housing market. Given the continuing residential segregation in America, foreclosures on such homes will disproportionately affect African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods.
For more information, please contact Stephanie Coontz, Professor of History and Family Studies, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA (; 360 556-9223).

EVENT: Very Young Girls, a Documentary

This just in, via Patti Binder: As part of the 3rd Annual New York State Day to End Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, Girls Education and Mentoring Services (GEMS) has reserved a limited amount of complimentary tickets for guests that are still interested in attending the screening of VERY YOUNG GIRLS. Email Makia Kambon at Makia@gems-girls to reserve one of the complimentary tickets today.

Screening of VERY YOUNG GIRLS &
Youth Leadership Panel
Friday, June 20th at 6:30pm

6:30pm: Hear directly from the members of GEMS as they discuss their leadership role in the movement to end CSEC. All attendees will receive a copy of GEMS White Paper on Youth Leadership in the Movement to End Commercial Sexual Exploitation, funded generously by the Ms. Foundation.

7:30pm: Attend a special screening of the SHOWTIME/Swinging T documentary VERY YOUNG GIRLS. This documentary highlights the experiences of the girls that GEMS serves. This compelling film provides an opportunity to hear the girls' tell their own stories in their own words. Co-sponsored by the Fordham Institute for Women and Girls.

Tickets for Screening**:$25 General Admission
$10 Students/ Non-Profits

Click here to RSVP and purchase tickets online.

My Next Course @ Woodhull: July 11-13

Join me at the next Woodhull Nonfiction Writers Retreat, where I'll be teaching a day on writing nonfiction book proposals. If you register now, there's a Special Early Bird Rate. Here's the scoop:

Women are underrepresented as nonfiction authors and opinion writers. In a long weekend of writing instruction and one-on-one critique from expert instructors Kristen Kemp, Catherine Orenstein, and Deborah Siegel, participants gain fundamental knowledge of Op-ed pieces, features, book proposals, and pitching ideas.

Substantial discounts are also available to alumnae and members. To register, click here. For more info, email Elizabeth at

Gotta Get a Get

This week I was interviewed for a Page 6 story (by a writer I trust!) on divorce parties. Yep, word has gotten out that I had me one of those, and you can soon, gulp, read about it in the New York Post a week from this Sunday. In the meantime, here's an interesting post from Rebecca Honig Friedman over at Jewess about Jewish women writing their own get (the Jewish divorce certificate). That would have been a nice thing to do, seeing as how my Jewish divorce experience was far more painful than the civil one, just because of the way it's traditionally set up. What saved me? Bringing Daphne to the "unceremony" with me. Daph sat by my side and reminded me it was just a role in an ancient play. But that whole get experience was what prompted me to reclaim the ritual by staging a little ritual of my own invention which...well, more bout that on Page 6!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Book Parties 101

I've been going to lots of book parties lately. Lots and lots of book parties. And as a writer at someone else's book party, one always take mental notes. Here are three of my latest:

1. Ask guests to please go home and write a 5-star review of your book on You must ask in tongue and cheek tone, but, of course, you are deadly serious.

2. Have a gimmick related to your book. Best ever: heaps of ice cream and other bad-for-your-waist deliciousness offered at Abby Ellin's book party for Teenage Waistland -- oh, and the scale. Close second, even though it made me jumpy: the pink balloons at a party last week for The She Spot: Why Women Are the Market for Changing the World--And How to Reach Them (more on this new book soon!) which guests were asked to pop as a reminder that there's more to marketing social change to women than making everything pink.

3. Wear a crazy fabulous dress because, really, when else do you get to.

What was the best/worst book party you've been to, those of you who frequent such things? (Note: I'm not looking for personal snipes here -- just your thoughts about do's and don'ts!)

Image cred

Feminist Seeking Crinoline

Yes, it's true. I'm decking out in costume as a 1950s bride at my wedding--which is now 4 weeks away. I figure, if I'm going to be a bride, why not play the role? Though I'm not wearing white--it's blue. And today my cousin Jen and I are going crinoline shopping. If anyone has ideas about where to find an inexpensive one, I'd totally appreciate the tip!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Consuming Michelle

So here's to the latest women about to be demonized in the media: Michelle Obama. My heart goes out to her, and so will my pen (or keyboard, whatevs). Meanwhile, check out this piece in Women's eNews by Sandra Kobrin, "Michelle: Hold Your Head High; We Got Your Back."

And by the way, for an expanded version of Courtney's comments from yesterday's forum on media coverage of the 2008 elections, do check out "Generation Y Refuses Race-Gender Dichotomy" in AlterNet today. An excerpt:

The million-dollar question: How, with a generation bent on individuality and multiplicity, do we confront racism, sexism and all the other insipid -isms that have been brought to light by this unprecedented campaign? To my mind, we must continue to use novel interventions -- like the Women's Media Center's great montage "Sexism Sells, but We're Not Buying It," the brand-new blog Michelle Obama Watch, and the evergreen experts at Racialicious -- to educate people. We must use humor -- as my group blog Feministing often does, as the brilliant Sarah Haskins does on Current TV, as Ann Telnaes does through cartooning over at Women's eNews. (Note: It's not just the boys -- John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and the Onion crew -- that know the power of a laugh.)

We must take our roles as media consumers dead seriously, calling television executives and newspaper editors on their misguided choices and celebrating them when they get it right. In an increasingly corporatized media landscape, it is your dollar, not your disgust, that will most readily get big-wig attention. Don't buy sexist magazines, don't tune into to racist radio, and don't watch reductive, recycled infotainment being pawned off as news.

But most of all, it seems to me, we must continue to push for a deeper, more authentic conversation overall. We must let the mainstream media know that we don't want to debate "reject" or "denounce" for 24 hours or go on witch hunts for Geraldine Ferraro or Samantha Power. We want to understand what these women were trying to say. We want to explore the real issues. We want to, as my co-panelist Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now so brilliantly put it, call into question the whole idea of empire. The debate shouldn't center on the quandary: How can we make our empire more effective? But, do we want to be an empire in the first place?

And we must demand that our candidates rise to the occasion, as I believe Obama did so beautifully with his speech on race following the Reverend Wright controversy. He brought that conversation to a new level, and we are all better off for it. We need to continue to push for that kind of brazen truth-telling -- about gender, certainly, about class, for sure. That's what politics is supposed to be about -- not partisanship or strategic spinning, but honesty and uplift. Call me naïve, but that's what the young are supposed to be, right?

Calling NYC Sports Fans

After yesterday's live blogging frenzy, I'm late to the game today! But here's a quick one, for those who love women's basketball and Women's eNews:

On Thursday June 26th, the New York Liberty will be facing off (is that what they do in b-ball? you can see how clueless I am) with the Indiana Fever, and 20% of all ticket sales will be donated back to Women's eNews. If you go, you'll also get a sneak peek at the behind-the-scenes action as the team warms up. For tix, contact Erin Dabe at 212/465-6289 or, and use the code WOMENS ENEWS.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

LIVE BLOGGING: From Soundbites to Solutions

From Soundbites to Solutions: Bias, Punditry, and the Press in the 2008 Elections, jointly sponsored by the WMC, The White House Project, and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education

Panel II - How the Media Influence and Reflect Political Realities, moderated by Geneva Overholser, Director of the School of Journalism at the U of Southern California

Overheard, here at the Paley Center:

William Douglas, White House Correspondent: “I look at this campaign season so far and I’m both encouraged and discouraged about how we’ve covered it. It's because we’ve had two such historic candidates. Speaking from the mainstream print journalism world, I think we’ve done ok. We’ve actually written about issues that we haven’t had the opportunity to look at durnig previous campaigns, in large part because the candidates have been traditional candidates. We’ve looked at race and gender somewhat differently than we have in the past, because we’ve had to.”

Juan Gonzalez, Columnist, New York Daily News: "I’ve been extremely disappointed by the shallowness of the approach to all these issues. It’s been seen as conflicts between campaigns, between individuals. There's been far less focus on the institutional, and on what these two candidates are actually going to do....In the foreign policy arena, for instance, the media has failed to differentiate between the candidates’ different attitudes toward American empire. Do the candidates urge the American people to have a smarter empire, or to end this domination over people of the world? I look forward to seeing how we improve our coverage during the general election."

Dr. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director, Annenberg Public Policy Center: "'It was a charming speech. There was no stridency to it. Maybe she has a new speech writer.' We need some consciousness raising here if a commentator feels it’s ok to deliver those three sentences!"

Chrisitane Anamapour, Chief International Correspondent, CNN: "To think that in this country, this supposed beacon of democracy, you can be sexist in reporting without accountability, is astonishing to me. Even in places like Iran, where there’s an Islamic fundamentalist revolution, the number of times people have said to me ‘Well, we have more women in our Parliament than you in America have in your Senate.’ And in Europe, people say to me the same. Women have been breaking those barriers outside the US for a long, long time in some countries that you in the US have believed to be benighted and backward...."

Pamela Newkirk, Associate Professor of Journalism, New York University: "When I left the daily media 15 years ago, I wrote about the impact African Americans have had on mainstream American media. I found that race matters, and what we learned on this campaign is that gender matters for sure, but let us not forget that race still matters. With the nomination of Barack Obama, there’s a perception out there that we’ve overcome race. But both of these areas still have a long way to go. Bill O’Reilly called for a lynching party for Michelle Obama, but last I checked, he still has a show."

LIVE BLOGGING: From Soundbites to Solutions

The first panel, “Candidates, Campaigns, and the Politics of Bias,” is underway. Overheard here at The Paley Center:

Celinda Lake, Political Strategist and President of Lake Research Partners: “Polling shows the voters feel 2 to 1 that the media has been unfair to Obama in terms of race, and that the media has been hardest on age, vis a vis McCain. There’s not as much sense of unfairness around gender.”

Dr. Susan Carroll, Senior Scholar at the Center for American Women in Politics: “The media failed to educate the public about ways that gender considerations affected HRC’s campaign. For instance, research shows that women are seen to be less qualified to hold public office than men, even when they have more credentials and experience. So HRC made experience central to her campaign. But by emphasizing this, she ceded the issue of change to Obama. But it was something she had to do to counter negative ingrained stereotypes. The media didn’t acknowledge this.”

Dr. Ron Walters, Professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland: “The race comments from Bill Clinton, HRC, and Geraldine Ferraro—I don’t believe all that was an accident. It was a strategy by Obama’s opponents. Obama’s campaign hoped it would go away, but it didn’t. Fox news made sure it wouldn’t, by bringing Rev. Wright into the picture. And other networks jumped right in.”

Courtney Martin, author and columnist for The American Prospect, and blogger: “There’s been a 109% increase in youth voters in this election. That’s profound. Youth are excited about this election, but they are not excited about partisanship. Chalk it up to Facebook, chalk it up to our tendency to see ourselves as individual projects, but we just aren’t into party politics.”

Patricia Williams, Columnist, The Nation, and Professor of Law, Columbia University: “Again, we see in this election, all the women are white, all the men are black. Race was gendered and gender was raced in this primary. Michelle Obama, Asian men, and others were left out of this conversation entirely.”

Up next: Panel II…

LIVE BLOGGING: Introductions and Insta-Polling

Soundbites to Solutions Conference - Post #1

A full house. The panelists have gathered. Pat Mitchell, co-chair of the WMC’s board and President and CEO of The Paley Center for Media, is introducing. Mitchell notes, “You cannot escape the fact that the media is full of examples of the kind of stereotyping about women that we had all hoped had disappeared in the ‘enlightened’ 21st century. I think the same can be said about race.”

Carol Jenkins, President of the WMC, notes that the media was totally unprepared for the first woman, the first man of color, and now the oldest man(!) running. ”What they took as their solution was to embed pundits. But those pundits’ opinions have blurred the facts,” says Jenkins, noting that we’re here today to sort out the soundbites and get to the solutions.

Marie Wilson, President and Founder of The White House Project, reminds us that you can’t be what you can’t see. The WHP’s focus on studies of the media–remember that one that found male talking heads outnumber female talking heads 9 to 1?–shares the WMC’s mission of getting more women in the media.

Dori Maynard, President of the Maynard Center for Journalism Education, asks that our intent today be on understanding each other. To that end, there will be instant polling of the audience, to find out who is in the room, and what participants think. The responses will be a catalyst not only for the panelists, but also for a report that will be prepared following today’s event.

Commence instant polling! Here’s the breakdown from the first few questions:

(The racial breakdown appeared on the screen way too fast - I didn’t get it, sorry!)

The audience here is 91 percent female and 8 percent male (1 percent other). 51 percent of those here make over $100,000.

And now, the clincher:

Did the media demonstrate an ability to accurately report and inform across the fault lines of race? 81 percent say no. Across class? 76% say no. Across gender? 92% say no. Across age? 68% say no.

Next up: the panels. The first one this morning will focus on politics (”Candidates, Campaigns, and the Politics of Bias,” and the second will focus on media (”How the Media Influence and Reflect Political Realities”).

LIVE BLOGGING: From Soundbites to Solutions

I'm getting ready to live blog today’s conference, From Soundbites to Solutions: Bias, Punditry, and the Press in the 2008 Elections, jointly sponsored by the Women's Media Center, The White House Project, and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. The crowd is gathering…Stay tuned!

Note: I'll also be posting over at Majority Post.

And Speaking of Girls...

Claire Mysko, who I know from her great work at Girls Inc, is about to release her first book, which is quite adorably called You're Amazing: A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self. A bit of pre-publication buzz:

"A great tool to help tween girls prepare for and overcome school drama, friend drama, and even a bit of body drama!" --Nancy Redd, New York Times bestselling author of Body Drama

"It is both a revelation and a revolution!" --Courtney Macavinta, founder of and co-author of Respect: A Girl's Guide to Dealing When Your Line is Crossed

A bit of background: Throughout her teens Claire starved herself and binged and purged while devouring the picture-perfect fantasies in the pages of magazines. She got help and went on to be the director of the American Anorexia Bulimia Association. Along with model Magali Amadei, who became the first top model to tell her story on behalf of an eating disorders organization, Claire founded an educational program called Inside Beauty. For the last decade, the two have worked together to give girls and women a beauty reality check. And Claire has had quite an impact at Girls Inc of course as well.

And now, Claire's got her own book. Claire Mysko, YOU'RE amazing. More about her oeuvre here.

Boys v. Girls

While headlines continue to duke it out over whether pink is the new blue, the current issue of The Women's Review of Books features "The Boys Against the Girls," which reviews Playing with the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports, by Eileen McDonagh and Laura Pappano and Equal Play: Title IX and Social Change, edited by Nancy Hogshead-Makar and Andrew Zimbalist. Worth checking out.

I Heart California

Veteran lesbian activists Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 83, whose 2004 wedding in San Francisco was invalidated by the California Supreme Court, were the first same-sex couple to legally marry there yesterday at 5 p.m. County clerks across the state must begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples this morning.

This here is a rather gorgeous picture of my friend/colleague Susan Marine, Director of the Women's Center at Harvard, with her wife Karen. Hear Susan read from a beautiful essay about her quest for the white dress on NPR. (Note: scroll forward to about the last third of the show to hear Susan's essay.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

REMINDER: Bias, Punditry, and the Press Event Tomorrow, at the Paley Center

For those of you here in NYC, join me tomorrow from 9am-12 for a stellar event, and one whose theme I will be touching on, actually, during campus talks this fall. The event: "From Soundbites to Solutions: Bias, Punditry, and the Press in the 2008 Elections." Sponsored by the White House Project, the Women's Media Center, and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, the event is free of charge, and open to the press and the public. But seating is limited. To register, click here.

For those of you nowhere near NYC, there's a chance I may be live blogging part of it (wireless pending), so come back tomorrow for the scoop.

GWP Readers, Meet ProBlogger

Ok, so I'm stepping up my blogging savvy this season and I'm taking you with me. I've started religiously reading ProBlogger for the latest in tips; I really like this guy's approach.

So I've been resisting Twitter, but there's an interesting post up over there on the importance of building an online network before you need it. Writes Darren Rowse, the ProBlogger guy:
When I began to interact on Twitter I had no plans to use it as a medium for book promotion - however when launch day came I had 6000 people just a 140 character message away.

Another example was recently using LinkedIn. I’ve never really found a way to use LinkedIn effectively before but have promoted my profile on it (in my blog’s footer) because I knew that there would come a time when it would be worthwhile having connections there. Last week it paid off as I used my network of 600 connections to get introductions to a number of key people that I’d have had no way to contact previously.

In both situations the network came before the need to use it.
Hmm...Check it all out and see what you think, here. ProBlogger dude also just came out with a book called, guess what, ProBlogger. I'll let you know what I learn!

New Survey Shows Women Shakey in Economic Downturn

This just in, courtesy of the Women's Media Center: Shaky Economic Times are Shakier for Women by Heidi Hartmann, director of the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

A summary:
As politicians' focus turns from the Primaries to the General Election, the economy has become the biggest issue for voters. Based on an Institute for Women's Policy Research survey about Americans' economic insecurities, there are differences between men and women, as Heidi Hartmann reports in the latest WMC Exclusive. Hartmann points out that women are especially concerned about Social Security, whatever their income level or minority status, and highlights that three primary facts drive women's economic concerns. First, women have the children and generally rear them to adulthood. Second, women earn less than men. Third, women live longer than men. Hartmann concludes by saying that "women rely on Social Security. This election season, with economic issues becoming paramount, women would do well to find out which candidate-whether running for the White House or the Senate or House of Representatives-is most likely to sustain and strengthen the system that is so important to them."
Read the article.

The Male Pill

Check out this quickie in Dame about the advent of the male pill--an injection or patch once every 12 months that acts as an impermanent vasectomy. Writes Dame's Jonathan Bender, "It’s about time science caught up to the changing gender roles." More on the science of it here. Thoughts?!

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Snapshot: Daddy Obama

While my own dadio was having brunch with my family in the Chicago burbs (without me - man I hate long distance father's days), our man Obama was speaking on fatherhood at a Chicago church.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Go Daddying Go

In honor of Father's Day and dads across the land, do check out the latest on both The Daddying Movement and Reel Fathers. The latter is a collaboration between Allan Shedlin and Deborah Boldt, who are working toward the first annual REEL FATHERS Film Festival in Santa Fe on Fathers’ Day weekend 2009. How cool is that?

(Thank you, Suzanne, for the heads up!)

New Book: About Face

This month Seal Press offers up another new anthology, About Face: Women Write about What They See When They Look in the Mirror, edited by Anne Burt and Christina Baker Kline. In this one, 24 women of varying ages (23 to 75) and races brave a standoff with their reflections. From the book's description:
From lines to wrinkles, dark circles to freckles, a woman’s face tells the unique story of her life. In many ways it’s a roadmap — with each singular characteristic, crease, and blemish serving as a milestone of having lived, loved, and endured....In the essay “On Reflection,” contributor Patricia Chao stares at herself and dares to ponder who she is when she is not being loved or desired by a man. In “My Celebrity Face,” Alice Elliott Dark must endure hearing her college crush tell her that she looks like the man on the Quaker Oats box. This leads her to a life filled contradictions — but ultimately ends in contentment with the woman she’s become....About Face dares women to look at themselves — no flinching or turning away; no poses, and no excuses. Both challenging and warm, About Face will inspire women to examine their faces, flaws and all, and to learn to love what they see.
And hey wow: celebrity makeup artist Bobbi Brown wrote the foreword. Essayists include Jennifer Baumgardner, Bobbi Brown, Kristin Buckley, Marina Budhos, Patricia Chao, Alice Elliott Dark, Susan Davis, Louise DeSalvo, Bonnie Friedman, Kathryn Harrison, Annaliese Jakimides, Dana Kinstler, Benilde Little, Meredith Maran, Manijeh Nasrabadi, Ellen Papazian, Kym Ragusa, Jade Sanchez-Ventura, Pamela Redmond Satran, Rory Satran, Alix Kates Shulman, Catherine Texier, S. Kirk Walsh, and Kamy Wicoff.

Had I been writing an essay for this one (ahem! kidding. sort of), I would have written about my nose and teeth and ears -- all of which caused me great suffering as a teenager. Right through the eighth grade, a mean boy named Jeff Foy called me, alternatingly, Bugs Bunny, Dumbo, and The Beak. Didn't seem to help me to know that everyone called him Jeff Foy the Toy Boy. Yep, Jeff suffered too.

Anyway, as I was explaining just yesterday to a beautiful and dear friend, when your physical appearance was made fun of as a kid, that feeling of ugliness gets internalized. It's often very hard to wish away. Adolescence may be time-limited, but that sense that there is something wrong with you persists. Shout outs to college, college therapists, and college boyfriends -- all of whom, in my case, helped me face that self-doubt and feel better about, well, my face.

I look forward to reading this book! Would any GWP reader like to offer up a guest review? Email me at and we'll arrange.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dad's Day Book Roundup

My dad loves to read (yes, apple doesn't fall far from tree). For dads open to reading about, well, dadhood, here's a host of suggestions:

Philip Lerman, Dadditude: How a Real Man Became a Real Dad

Cameron Stracher, Dinner with Dad: How I Found My Way Back to the Family Table

Kevin Powell, Who's Gonna Take the Weight: Manhood, Race, and Power in America

Michael J. Diamond, My Father Before Me: How Fathers and Sons Influence Each Other Throughout Their Lives

Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

David Strah and Susanna Margolis, Gay Dads: A Celebration of Fatherhood

Lewis Epstein, More Coaching for Fatherhood: Teaching Men New Life Roles

David Knox, Divorced Dad's Survival Book: How to Stay Connected with Your Kids

And, finally, though I'm not personally digging this title AT ALL, others may, and, well, it takes all kinds (this book just came out):

Bobby Mercer and Alison D. Schonwald, Quarterback Dad: A Play by Play Guide to Tackling Your New Baby

Other suggestions? Or got ideas for the perfect gift for feminist dad? Please share.

‘Quiet Desperation’ of Academic Women

Well here's reason to feel depressed: In today's Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik reports that interviews with 80 female faculty members at a research university — the largest qualitative study of its kind — have found that many women in careers are deeply frustrated by a system that they believe undervalues their work and denies them opportunities for a balanced life. While the study found some overt discrimination in the form of harassment or explicitly sexist remarks, many of the concerns involved more subtle “deeply entrenched inequities.” These include: unintended bias and outdated attitudes, devaluing positions once women hold them, and service and gender.

Ok, ye academic women GWP readers out there. Does this describe you? And if so, what do you do?

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Conferences I'm Missing This Summer

But just because I'm missing doesn't mean you have to. Yes, if I weren't getting married that week, I would be running off to BlogHer 2008 and the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. And at the latter, I'd be here: “Memoir: The Vertical Pronoun and the Who Cares? Question,” which happens July 13-18, and “Narrative Journalism: The Art of the Profile” on July 19-20, both taught by Sarah Saffian. For more info on these workshops, click here. For general registration, here.

And for the folks who have recently asked me for advice about MFA programs in creative nonfiction: While I know little about the difference between various programs, I do know that had I not maxed out my savings on a PhD I would be running to go get me one of those. Fellow writer and workshop teacher Elizabeth Merrick, however, knows a lot about these programs and offers counseling and coaching and the like. So I thought I'd point those wondering her way, since unfortunately I can be of little use in this particular respect.

Event: Rock for Young Women

Chill, drink and mingle while raising money to empower and engage young women in the political process. Plus amazing gourmet cupcakes from Eleni's NY. Does it get much better than that?!

A benefit to support the Younger Women's Task Force and the Voting Vixens Campaign

Hey, I'm not sure what a "voting vixen" is, but I'm pretty sure I'd like to be one.

Saturday, June 14, 2008 at 8:30pm
Location: Knitting Factory
Street: 74 Leonard Street
City/Town: New York, NY

$15 tickets for sale at or at the door. Featuring spoken word, musical performances and dj. Performers include: Mahogany Brown, James Jacobsen, Omni, Bouva, Dream Bitches, Changing Modes and DJ Allyson Toy. Co-Sponsors Include Girls In Government, Young People For, Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls,, SAFER: Students Active For Ending Rape.

Check it out:

Also check out the Younger Women's Task Force facebook group's event information, and their blog.

New Book: Rumors of Our Progress

There's a new book out called Rumors of Our Progress Have Been Greatly Exaggerated by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). How much more timely could a book be? Because it asks those nagging questions like, if women have made so much "progress," why haven't their lives gotten any easier? Why do most American women say they don't get enough sleep and that balancing work and family is getting harder? Why do they make 77 cents to a man's dollar? And why must Maloney still fight to preserve rights—such as educational equality and even birth control—that seemed secure in the 1970s?

Excellent questions, all. Read an excerpt, here.

Praise, from Gloria Steinem: “Carolyn Maloney has given us a factual, lively, life-saving book full of reasons why American women are told we're already equal -- when we're anything but. She also tells us how to move forward anyway. If you have time for only one book to save your sanity, advance women's equality, and connect your life to politics in this election year, Rumors of Our Progress Have Been Greatly Exaggerated is definitely it.”

And from a making-it-pop perspective, I must say I love the title. Nicely invocative, on some level, of phrases like The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, and, of course, that Mark Twain quote, Rumors of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated. Very clever, given the recurring media refrain that feminism is dead.

Mama Comments

Thank you, all, for your comments on yesterday's post about Rebecca and Alice Walker (Mama Drama Take 2), and to all those you emailed me privately to share thoughts. I'm again subverting the post/comment convention to share some highlights because, as always, you GWP readers have so much insight to share:

Gloria Feldt: "I would have found Rebecca's article amusing if it hadn't been such sad statement about how women--once again--are damned if they do and damned if they don't have a life beyond mothering."

Sally: "I think that while it's more about her own issues with her mother than it is about feminism & motherhood, it opens up the discussion about the pressures of motherhood and feminism."

Anniegirl1138: "That was a terribly sad accounting of a childhood and if all true than she certainly does have cause to be upset about it. Past a certain point though our parents failings cannot be blamed for who we are as adults."

Renee Siegel,: "I'm proud to be Debbie's mom even if Debbie (GWP) experienced me as 'overly available.' Relationships need constant nourishing, interaction, and even conflict to continue to grow and evolve. What matters to me is not just conflict, but the repair of broken times when feelings that are hurt can be repaired and oxygenated in order to survive....Relationships are not static things to be put on shelves once we pass childhood. It's a lot of work, but well worth it when two people love and respect each other. It is particularly sad if a mother cannot enjoy her daughter's success and happiness in whatever the daughter choses as a path in life. This works two ways-- daughters can be proud of their mothers, as well."

I interrupt this post for the following message: Mom, I am so incredibly proud of you, and who you've become.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mama Drama Take 2

When I was writing my book Sisterhood, Interrupted, I knew that my manuscript submission deadline was to be but an arbitrary end. I could have kept writing and writing and writing. Because mama drama (Chapter 5) is a story that just doesn't quit.

In a recent issue of The Daily Mail, Rebecca Walker writes, "My mother may be revered by women around the world - goodness knows, many even have shrines to her. But I honestly believe it's time to puncture the myth and to reveal what life was really like to grow up as a child of the feminist revolution." Rebecca is a colleague of mine, and a peer. She contributed an essay to my anthology Only Child. I'm saddened to hear, as she reveals in The Mail, that she's having trouble conceiving a second of her own. But publicly blaming her mother, and through her mother, flaming feminism, seems extreme.

Like Rebecca, I'm starting my journey to motherhood later. Had it not been for feminism, I might have stayed married to a first husband who was wrong for me (we divorced). Had it not been for feminism, and more specifically, the Pill, I might have conceived in my early twenties, a time when I was still growing up myself and would have failed miserably at motherhood. And let's face it: had it not been for feminism, I would not be a writer publishing feminist articles and books--including some that question and critique the movement's hot contentions and debates.

Like Rebecca, I too have had my share of conflict with my mother. We've screamed, fought, brought each other to our therapists, and duked it out. My mother is not a famous feminist, and to be sure she's been ever present in my life--perhaps unlike Alice Walker in that regard, according to Rebecca's account. My mother was overly available, and therein our troubles began. As one of the writers in our Only Child anthology puts it, sometimes we onlies can long for neglect.

Yes, my mother-daughter troubles were of the fixable variety. Perhaps Rebecca and Alice's are not, and perhaps it is unfair for me to even compare. The personal is by all means political; when your mother is Alice Walker, no doubt those boundaries are bound to slide. But when Rebecca writes that "Feminism has much to answer for denigrating men and encouraging women to seek independence whatever the cost to their families," I fear she is revealing far less about a movement and more about herself.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Announcing: Fall 2008 GWP Bloginar

The online Making It PoP: Translating Your Ideas for Trade workshop is back!

This fall, I'll once again be offering a 5-week hands-on seminar for researchers and academics on writing book proposals. This teleconference features guests from the publishing industry and is paired with an ongoing online web forum in the form of a closed class blog.

The course is designed to help researchers, scholars, and policy "wonks" bridge the translation gap. I'll encourage you to make bold observations, learn new tricks, and unlearn old ones—like hiding your voice behind footnotes or lit reviews, or subordinating yourself to your topic. You'll learn why it's essential to think about audience and market in a different way. We'll explore the differences between popular and academic writing, why a dissertation is not a trade book, and how to write an effective book proposal--meaning one with the best chances of being sold.

In this course you will also learn:
• Techniques for de-jargonizing your prose
• Why "making it pop" does not mean "dumbing it down" or "selling out," and how to deal with institutional scorn
• How to know whether your book idea has commercial potential
• The elements of a strong book proposal
• The importance of narrative, and what else editors look for
• The role of an agent
• The in's and out's of publshing in different popular media venues (online and print)

When: Five weeks, Tuesdays, October 7th - November 4th, 7:00pm - 8:15pm (via phone; ongoing online forum during the week)

Guest instructors from the publishing industry will share their expertise each week. Past instructors have included:

Alissa Quart, author of Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers and Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child, published by Penguin Press in 2006, and contributor to the New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, The Atlantic Monthly

Laura Mazer, an editor and book consultant who has worked with publishers including Seal Press, Counterpoint Books, Soft Skull Press, Avalon Publishing Group, and Random House (see Laura's Book Smarts column here and here and here on GWP)

Christine Kenneally, author of The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language and a freelance journalist who has written for The New Yorker,The New York Times, Discover, Slate and Salon

Tracy Brown, President of the Tracy Brown Literary Agency

Amanda Moon, an editor at Basic Books and formerly an editor at Palgrave.

Jean Casella, a freelance book editor and formerly the publisher of The Feminist Press

For questions, pricing, and more, please contact

Get Sloooow

So one of my new summer goals--or rather, aspirations--is to get slow. Not too slow, just going for a little summer slow down is all. As you'll see, it looks like I decided to start today, by not posting first thing this morning, as I usually do. Please be patient. A real post is coming soon, and before day's end, I promise. And meanwhile, I invite all you busy GWP readers out there to join me in going slow!

Monday, June 9, 2008

COMING SOON: Blogging Seminar Follow Up

On Saturday I ran a blogging workshop for folks at the National Council for Research on Women's annual conference. And I've promised those who couldn't be there but wanted to that I'd post an informative follow-up here. Just wanted to say it's coming! Stay tuned...

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