Friday, August 31, 2007

Gone Fishing

These are my cousins, the Fisches. This is a pic from their canoe trip in the Boundary Waters (between Minnesota and Canada) this summer. Today, I am not fishing (nor fisching), but I am out in the country with my dear friend and collaborator Daphne. Wishin everyone a happy long weekend! I'll be back on Monday. Til then, be good :)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Guardian post on "Third Wave" now up

Here it is, here. I'd like to note that the rest of the paragraph that ends with "shaving your legs" went like this, before it was cut AGAINST MY WISHES:
To Walker, "third wave" meant a feminism linked to her mother's, but different. It meant continuing and improving upon the best that second-wave feminism had to offer - grassroots activism and critique of the media, for instance - but still shaving your legs. It meant embracing multiculturalism, contradiction, and, if that’s what grooved you, proudly sporting a thong. Soon after Walker’s rallying cry, author/activists Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards published their book, ManifestA, which provided analysis and strategy for the young women now poised to carry the torch. This was a propitious moment.
Just sayin. I did not want them to end with "shaving your legs" when there was so much more substance to the graf.

I Heart Jewesses with Attitude

I just discovered this amazing blog, Jewesses with Attitude. Judith Rosenbaum, Director of Education at the Jewish Women's Archive, is a Jewess this Jewess would love to meet. Ok, Judith posted a lovely review over there, but that's not the only reason I want to meet her. I swear. She sounds pretty amazing. Definitely check out the blog.

Lunch with Alison and Walter

I think I just made a new friend. I've met (and adore) Alison Peipmeier, but Marco and I just met her blogging and real-life partner, Walter. They live in South Carolina. Walter, upon learning that Marco is a graphic designer, posed to him the artistic challenge of the century: "Hey, can you design a butthole [sic] out of the Confederate flag?"

The backstory (sorry, bad pun), straight outa Wikipedia is this:
Originally placed [on top of the South Carolina State House dome] in 1962....[c]urrent state law prohibits the flag's removal from the State House grounds without additional legislation. Police were placed to guard the flag after several attempts by individuals to remove it....In 2005, two Western Carolina University researchers found that 74% of African-Americans polled favored removing the flag from the South Carolina State House altogether. The NAACP and other civil rights groups have attacked the flag's continued presence at the state capitol. The NAACP maintains an official boycott of South Carolina, citing its continued display of the battle flag on its State House grounds, despite an initial agreement to call off the boycott after it was removed from the State House dome.

I heart Walter. Nuf said.

Two Upcoming "Appearances"

1. A piece I wrote for the Guardian goes live tomorrow. Stripping poles, charred bras, third-wave feminism, fourth waves, and more. Plus, a photo of me that I haven't yet seen. Let me know what you think. (Not about the photo, thank you, but the article!)

2. Come say hello next week if you're in Brooklyn! I'll be reading from Sisterhood, Interrupted at Barnes and Noble in Park Slope on Friday, Sept. 7 at 7pm. (Thank you, Sam! Karaoke, when?!) Come for discussion, come to say hi, or, come for chocolate. I recently learned there's this place down the block, called Cocoa Bar, that has rather stellar chocolate cake.

Babelicious, FILF, and...the Brassiere

I seem to have caused a little tussle over in Broadsheet's comments section yesterday, resulting in another Anonymous (not the one I spent part of yesterday answering, I suspect) calling me "babelicious" and a "FILF" (Mom, Dad, please don't ask), and the original Anonymous challenging my scholarly integrity. This is my first time being labeled with those monikers, and I'm not sure if I should be flattered or freaked. These semi-flattering, semi-lewd comments rarely come up about men who post. Officially irked on that. But challenging scholarly integrity is a trap we all fall into from time to time when we profoundly disagree with someone, so I'm just gonna let that one go.

On a lighter note, as Broadsheet's Lynn Harris reminds us in her roundup today via AlterNet, it's the 100th anniversary of the bra! Wait--again, do we celebrate, or curse?

Man, do I need a latte.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fun with Anonymous

Phewph! After spending part of today conversing with Anonymous in the comments section at Broadsheet (love the broads over there!), I'm back here at Girl with Pen. A few quickie updates about two fellow crossover-y types I adore:

Megan Pincus Kajitani, who has participated as a story editor for the forthcoming Daring Book for Girls, has also started a really interesting blog project called Having Enough. Megan asked me to answer 4 questions about having enough in a having-it-all (and never enough) world. Our interview is up now, here. Thank you, Megan, for making me think!

One thing one can never have enough of, of course, is lunch with fine feminists. I'm taking time out tomorrow for lunch with Alison Piepmeier, English/Women's Studies prof extraordinaire down in South Carolina, coeditor of Catching a Wave: Reclaiming Feminism for the 21st Century, and girl with excellent hair. Alison is one of my early bloggy mentors, and for that I'm forever grateful. In tribute, I stole (er, shall we say, borrowed?) the title of this post from her.

We Won't Always Have Paris!

So just a quick update on that traveling panel I'm helping organize this year for Women's History Month, cause I'm too darn excited not to share. As some of you know, I'm teaming up with three amazing women / girls / ladies this March:

Gloria Feldt, Kristal Brent Zook, Courtney E. Martin

We're taking it on the road to continue the conversation that I started in Sisterhood, Interrupted, and that these women have been having of late too. Together, we want to spark discussion about women's lives, power, entitlement, and the future of feminism, from a generational perspective. Sound good? If you'd like to bring us to your organization or school, please feel free to contact any of us (I'm deborahsiege AT gmail DOTCOM). But hurry -- our schedules are booking up quickly!

One of the versions we're offering is described thusly (is thusly really a word?):

We Won’t Always Have Paris:
A New Conversation about Young Women and Pop Culture

Why do teen girls dress and dance so provocatively? Do they really think that drinking and drugging at the club is empowering? How can they worship airheads like Paris and Nicole?

Why don’t older women see that there is more to our culture than Britney Spears? Have they ever heard of the World Wide Web? Was it really that different in their day or have they just romanticized it?

Sound familiar? Too often finger-pointing statements like these get thrown around by women of different generations when it comes to conversations about pop culture. With all the injustices yet to be challenged, it's time that women of all ages talked and listened to one another instead of rehashing the same cliquish complaints. It's time to reopen a dialogue about women’s lives, power, pop culture, and entitlement -- from a generational perspective.

Issues that we'll address include:
• Does liberated sexuality equal Paris Hilton? Madonna? Bisexuality? Girls Gone Wild?
• Are young women really charmed by today’s pop icons?
• Where are the strong, smart young celebrities without addictions or eating disorders?
• How can we get more positive images of women in the media?
• What do power and empowerment look like to women of different generations?
• What is the major unfinished business for women in the media and pop cultural arenas today?
• How do we keep our eyes on the prize of more complex, diverse, and healthy representation of women?

Another version we're doing goes like this:

Womengirlsladies: A Fresh Conversation Across Generations

Many of the young female students in my classes seem to think empowerment means short skirts and high heels! Even young women who say they are feminists often don’t know what’s still at stake—from pay equity to Title 9 to reproductive justice-- and they are unwilling to put in the hard work necessary to fight for change!

Older female professors act like it’s a crime against the Goddess to have a little fun! Women’s Studies classes are just too pc. I’m not a feminist but I totally believe in equality. Doesn’t everybody? And by the way, weren’t those battles already won by our mothers, so why do we have to fight them again?

Do these complaints sound familiar?

With all the injustices yet to be challenged, it is time that women of all ages talked and listened to one another. It is time to reopen a dialogue about women’s lives: our power, our entitlement, and our futures -- the future of feminism. Among issues to be addressed:

Power and Parity: What do power and empowerment look like to women of different generations, and to women of different races and cultural backgrounds? What can we envision achieving together for women in the future? What might a powerful woman look and act like twenty years down the road?

Unfinished Business: What are the major loose (or lost) ends of the feminist movement today? And how can we get what we need now?

The F-word: Why are so many younger women afraid of being identified as feminists? Do older women secretly resent the entitlement of their younger, female employees and students?

A Stripping Pole in Every Living Room: Does liberated sexuality equal lap dances? Free love? Bisexuality? Are Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan good role models for sexual empowerment? Were Madonna or Lil’ Kim?

The “Opting Out” Fiasco: How has the media slashed and distorted real women’s choices about balancing work and family? Could listening to popular myths about your options in the workplace and the home topple your career choices?

Passing the Torch without Extinguishing the Flame: How can younger women learn from older women while speaking in their own language about the issues that matter most to them?

We'll be offering these panels throughout 2008, but please do get in touch soon, as our schedules are filling up fast:

Would love to bring it your way!

Feminism: The Soundtrack

I love this story. The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune has a nice little feature by reporter Rohan Preston on Dorothy Marcic, a former a professor of management at Vanderbilt University, who quit her secure job to indulge her teenage passion: theater. The professor - turned - playwright then did something equally bold. She created a jukebox musical, "Respect: A Musical Journey of Women," based on research she did for her book, Respect: Women and Popular Music. The show -- which had its more humble beginnings as a lecture with music -- has now played in more than a dozen venues in the United States and Australia and is currently playing in Minneapolis. The show's music, which includes swing and jazz, show tunes, rock and country, "Respect," and "I Will Survive," tracks the evolution of the social consciousness of American women in each decade of the 20th century. Says the 58-year-old Marcic, "You have to go with your passion, no matter how long it takes." Check out Dorothy's blog here.

And here's something to sing about:

This week marks the 87th Anniversary of women's suffrage in the US. Yep, that's right. On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment of the US Constitution was ratified granting women the right to vote. (Hey - if you're anywhere near New Jersey, go celebrate with a trip to Paulsdale!) Now, if we can just use that vote to get our country a real President next time.

Absence of Women's Shouts and Murmurs

Straight from the gals at Broadsheet comes this annoyingly newsworthy tidbit: There has not been a woman author of a Shouts and Murmurs piece in The New Yorker for over three years. The last one was in 2004. Reports Catherine Price,
[W]e just found a link to a blog post from the World's Fair in which the author takes a break from his academic pursuits to examine the male-female breakdown of Shouts and Murmurs authors. (The post is arguably more amusing than most S&M columns.) His conclusion: "Out of the 133 authors of features under the Shouts and Murmurs banner (in the modern, post-1992 era), 17 have been women. That's 12.782%." To put it another way, men are represented in the section at a rate 8 times that of women.

Love that it was an academic who did the calculations. Hate that it's true. Wonder if , in addition to other (ahem) factors, women are submitting in smaller numbers, as they do when it comes to op-eds? That'd be interesting to find out. If anyone finds that out, please send a shout and a murmur over to G w/ P and we will broadcast the news far and wide.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Guidelines for Guest Scholar-Bloggers on GWP

Are you a scholar (or someone with their fingers on the pulse of current research about women or girls) seeking to enter the blogosphere and give blogging a try? Read on! Hey, if my grandmas (left) can do it, you can too.

Submission Process
Email me a 1-paragraph overview of the post you'd like to propose. When I greenlight it, please send the full post to me at deborahsiege AT gmail DOT com at least one day before you ideally would want me to run the post. Depending on how many submissions come in any a given week, I may not be able to run every post right away. But I will certainly do my best to try. Submissions should be pasted in the body of your email or attached as a MS Word document.


SUBSTANCE. Girl with Pen is about bridging feminist research, popular reality, and the public. Posts should generally fall under this rubric. The best posts are those that are timely, unexpected, passionate, and somewhat personal.

LENGTH. The strongest blog posts read like mini, hypertexted op-eds. Op-eds are generally 700-1000 words; posts on Girl with Pen (and most blogs) are shorter (300-700 words max) and are very quick to get to the point.

TIMELY. Posts must have a news hook. A news hook can be new research (your own, or someone else's), an interesting news item, an event, an upcoming holiday or anniversary, a happening from pop culture, a popular assumption that’s the subject of current media coverage, or another article that is currently in the news. The news hook must come at the beginning of the post, to capture the scanning web reader’s attention.

UNEXPECTED. Go for the counterintuitive, that little known reality that is the opposite of what we all think! There are so many myths out there about the lives of women and girls. Set us straight. Clarify reality. Go beyond the obvious. Surprise us.

PASSIONATE. Tell us what you really think. If you care passionately, others will. Take a stand. Be controversial. Go out on a limb.

PERSONAL. Personal stories keep us reading. Include a personal anecdote or, if you aren’t comfortable writing about yourself, include an anecdote about someone else.

LINKS. Posts should include links. When submitting a post, if you're comfortable using the html code for links, please use it to embed your link in the text. If not, please include the link in brackets following the word(s) that you'd like to see in hypertext. Put the word(s) that you'd like to hypertext in bold.
EXAMPLE (w/o hypertext): Take the sentence “Please visit my website for more.” If I wanted the words “my website” to take the reader to my website’s homepage, I would write: Please visit my website [] for more.

PICTURE AND BYLINE. Be sure to send a jpeg or gif (either a photo of you, or another relevant image related to the post) that you'd like to run with the post, along with a byline that includes your affiliation and anything else you'd like readers to know.

Questions? You can always post 'em in the comments section of this post, because chances are, others will be wondering the same thing. I'll run additional tips and tidbits in response.

Save Our Country!

And speaking of heros, Naomi Wolf has a new book out called The End of America: Letter to a Young Patriot. As Naomi recently asked on HuffPo, "Is it still America if the president ignores or deliberately eviscerates the Constitution?"

Along with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights Watch,, and
True Majority
, Naomi is spearheading a new grassroots and grasstops democracy movement, the American Freedom Campaign, and has asked us all -- as well as each of the presidential candidates -- to sign the American Freedom Pledge. The pledge reads:
"We are Americans, and in our America we do not torture, we do not imprison people without charge or legal remedy, we do not tap people's phones and emails without a court order, and above all we do not give any President unchecked power.

"I pledge to fight to protect and defend the Constitution from assault by any President."

Now if a candidate can't sign that, then I for one sure as hell can't vote for her (ok, ok, or him). I heard on MSNBC the other day while on the treadmill that the campaign has already had 20,000 hits. Go Naomi, and go America. The America that believes in the Constitution, that is.

Join us in signing the pledge!

Germaine Greer, Fay Weldon, and Magnus Linklater Have Some Reading to Do

An extremely off the mark, nudge nudge wink wink article on the so-called collapse of feminism ("At Times Like This, It's Better to Just Be One of the Boys"), by Magnus Linklater, appeared in the Times Online (UK) last week. Writes Linklater,
"Sometimes it’s a relief to be a man. Watching, at a safe distance, the collapse of feminism is a bit like seeing a huge chunk of melting glacier falling into the sea. You know it’s a sign of something serious going on, but you’re glad not to be anywhere near when it happens."
The commentors in the comments section are doing an excellent job setting ole Magnus straight. My favorite is from "PN," from London, who writes:
"This article is based purely on two feminist thinkers [Fay Weldon and Germaine Greer] who have made comments in the last week which have been jumped on and to some extent distorted by the media. Strangely enough, I don't think my only choices of feminist icon are Anne Hathaway or Diana purely because Germaine Greer happens to have said something about them.

There are things to be said in defense of both Weldon and Greer, but I think the more important point is that the opinions of these two people hardly constitute the collapse of feminism. Perhaps you need to get on the internet and investigate some of the blogs and comments on feminist sites which seem to have missed the newsflash that their movement has collapsed."

Aside from the comments, the most interesting tidbit I gleaned here was that Germaine Greer has a new book out called Shakespeare's Wife. One of my all-time favorite moments in literature is Virginia Woolf's speculation about Shakespeare's sister in A Room of One's Own. (He didn't have one, but Woolf imaginatively speculates about her fate nonetheless. What if she had wanted to write?) Anyway, back in real life, apparently men from James Boswell to Anthony Burgess had all assumed that Anne Hathaway (aka Shakespeare's wife) was either "a lustful, scheming woman who lured Shakespeare into a loveless marriage, or an ugly harridan who drove him away by making his life a misery." Greer takes a new look. The book sounds intriguing.

Now, if only Greer and Weldon (heros, truly!) could stop commenting all over the place that feminism is dead among young women long enough to get themselves online and to a bookstore and take a new look themselves, perhaps they'd reconsider. Or maybe not. Either way, though, it would make for a much fresher article. Then again, Magnus may not be the person to write it. He's too busy dreaming of ice chunks and thanking god (or whoever) for having made him a man.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I Heart Seal Press: Single State of the Union

A quick shout out of gratitude to the folks who are posting their favorite blogs by women scholars in the comments section of the post below! Keep em coming! Meanwhile, I'm rushing off to go hear some of my favorite city girls (including Lusty Lady Rachel Kramer Bussel) read at McNally Robinson in celebration of a new anthology from Seal (hi, Laura M!). Come join me, if you're here in NYC... Here's the deal:

Single State of the Union: Single Women Speak Out on Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Happiness (Seal Press)

Monday, August 27, 7 pm, Free
McNally Robinson Bookstore, 52 Prince Street (SoHo, between Lafayette and Mulberry), NYC

The popular media give us shoe shopaholics, ditzy desperados, and wannabe brides forever making cow eyes at The Bachelor. But what do single women have to say about their own lives? In the myth-busting tradition of anthologies like The Bitch in the House, the impressive roster of writers of Single State of the Union set the record straight about the experiences of single women in America. Rachel Kramer Bussel is a popular writer and teacher of erotica and the editor most recently of erotica anthologies Caught Looking and Cross-Dressing. Lynn Harris is the author of the smart New York mystery Death by Chick Lit. Judy McGuire is an advice columnist and author of How Not To Date. Susan Shapiro is the author of the memoirs Five Men Who Broke My Heart, Lighting Up and most recently Only As Good As Your Word. Join us for a discussion with these and other smart single (and formerly single) women that will give you a new perspective on the single state.

Where Are the Women Scholarbloggers?

Dear readers: I need your help! I'm compiling a list of interesting blogs by women scholars (you know, like BitchPhD, Feminist Law Professors Blog, CultureCat, Baxter Sez, Afrogeekmom...) as part of my mission to entice even more women scholars to bring their perspective and analysis into the blogosphere. I'm looking in particular for examples of blogs that balance astute cultural, social, or political commentary with a-day-in-the-life. If you have one to suggest, please comment here. I'll post the resulting list here on G w/ Pen soon.

Guidelines for Guest Scholarblogging are available here.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Who's Your Nanny?

The movie version of The Nanny Diaries opened last week, and my good friend and fellow traveler Heather Hewett, Coordinator of the Women's Studies Program at SUNY-New Paltz, has an extremely smartypants op-ed on it all today in the Washington Post titled "Who's Your Nanny?". Muses Heather,
I can't help noting how little the story has to do with reality -- either with the situation of parents like me, who depend on nannies and babysitters to care for our children, or with the lives of most women who work as caregivers.
She goes on to contrast reality (the feminization of migration) with the nanny fantasies that currently abound in pop culture -- not only The Nanny Diaries, but a slew of so-called reality tv shows and plays. I find Heather's op-ed an excellent example of accessible writing that surveys the latest theory and pop thinking on the subject and makes us all think. GO HEATHER!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Work It, Girl

There's an interesting trio of articles in the current issue of the New York Press: "By the Numbers" by David Crone, "Working Girls" by Marin Resnick, and "Who Needs Work?" by Gaije Kushner. I find the headline on the cover ("City's White Collar Women Shatter the Glass Ceiling) to be at odds with the emphases of the articles (glass ceiling not so shattered). I'm all for celebrating progress, but the cover message sends an inaccurate message, one that is debunked in the issue's very pages. What gives?

On another note, I love what they've done with the Rosie the Riveter image, updating her to represent the more ethnic face of New York. But wait - isn't she wearing a blue collar, though the headline is all about white? Now I'm double confused.

(Thank you to Marco, always on the hunt for visuals, for pointing me to this cover.)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Guest Scholarblogger: "Mom and Dad Are Busy"

Girl with Pen's first Guest Scholarblogger post comes to you from a researcher who happens to be a dear old friend. Introducing Rebecca London, Ph.D., Director of Research at Stanford University’s John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities. Rebecca lives on California’s central coast with her husband and two school-age daughters. She's frequently quoted in the press as an expert on poverty, youth, and working motherhood. She makes a mean strawberry margherita. Here she is!

Mom and Dad Are Busy: Schooling Our Schools
By Rebecca London, Ph.D.

Summer is dwindling, days are getting shorter, and parents everywhere are sighing in relief as their children return to school. I was contemplating this freedom when I realized that this year, with my younger daughter headed to kindergarten at our local public school, I will have this and my older daughter’s 2nd grade class in which I’ll be expected to volunteer. (I say “I” here because it is my experience that the mother is expected, but in my family my husband and I tend to share this responsibility.) Between my nearly full-time job and my hour-long commute that can only be done off-hours, how in the world am I going to manage this?

“Parental involvement” in school is the new way of characterizing the activities performed by the PTA and room mothers from our childhoods. Now, in addition to organizing bake sales and class picnics, schools and teachers want and expect all parents to contribute, especially with their time in the classroom. There is actually a good reason for this. Several years ago the National Research Council compiled research on the characteristics of youth-serving settings that turn out the most well-developed adults (for the executive summary, click here). A key to success, it turns out, is placing youth at the center of the intersection of family and school (and also community, a topic for another post). But for this to happen, family and school need to meaningfully intersect. In many cases, they don’t.

As challenging as it is for me – with my professional job and long commute – to find time to volunteer in my daughters’ classrooms, imagine what it would be like if I had a low-wage service job with no flexibility. Or if I didn’t speak English very well or knew that my education level was lower than that of every teacher and staff member at the school. What if I felt like I was never good at school and didn’t want that to rub off on my own kids, or heaven forbid, someone else’s? These are the challenges faced by parents and schools in many disadvantaged neighborhoods, where schools struggle for lack of funds and facilities, and parents struggle to provide these same life essentials for their families. If youth are to be at the center of family and school in these communities, we need to tear down the power differentials that shield the school from its parents and create opportunities beyond helping with academics, beyond being present during school hours, and beyond contributing through fundraising. Schools need to think outside the box on this one and learn from their parents what works.

As for me, I’m thinking I will run for the school site council, a body of teachers, parents, and administrators that make governing decisions for the school. I figure that because it meets after school hours, I might actually be able to manage my service without doing time during my workday. Hopefully it will count in the race to place my own kids at the center of their intersection with family and school. And for all the other parents with less flexibility and fewer resources, may their schools figure out more feasible ways for them, too, to be involved.

Email Rebecca at

(A note from Girl with Pen: If you are a feminist-y researcher and interested in guest blogging opportunities on this space, please email me at with a few sentences describing your idea for a post.)

Is Hillary Black Enough?

You MUST check out this piece by Kristal Brent Zook over at the Women's Media Center, titled "Hillary Gets Down." Seriously, it's too good to miss. Go read it - go read it now!

Kristal is an award-winning journalist and author of Black Women’s Lives: Stories of Power and Pain. Keep an eye out for her forthcoming book, I See Black People: Interviews with African American Owners of Radio and Television, which will be published by Nation Books in February 2008.

I can't wait to hit the road with Kristal this March. The two of us, Courtney Martin, and Gloria Feldt are becoming a traveling foursome that I've started referring to in my head as the womenladygirls. Marco thinks we need a psychedelic sisterhood bus and, of course, a logo. More on that soon.

Other Womenladygirls with Pens

Do check out the MotherTalk bloggers’ reviews this week of a book called Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued: A Woman’s Guide to Unblocking Creativity by Susan O’Doherty. Here’s the schpiel: At the age of 42, O’Doherty, a practicing psychotherapist, chose to confront the cultural demons who had been telling her all her life that the only “important” writers were men. She offers tools for managing the stress of trying to do serious creative work while holding down a job and, often, caring for a family. Sounds like, perhaps, a modern lady’s A Room of One’s Own?

Brought to you by GIRL with Pen. There. I just wanted to see if I could use women, ladies, and girls all in one post - there's an interesting yet familiar debate going on on one of the listservs I'm on about the politics of calling ourselves girl. Dude, I'm fine with it. But I also understand the objections, and how frustrating it must seem to see younger women returning to the diminutive second-wave feminists fought against.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

First Guest Scholar/Blogger Coming Soon!

NEW OPPORTUNITY ON GIRL WITH PEN!: If you are a scholar who shares our mission of bridging feminist research and popular reality, is interested in blogging, and would like to try your hand at it, Girl with Pen is your place. Please contact me at for guidelines and parameters.

An amazing Stanford researcher who focuses on various issues around poverty, motherhood, and youth is going to be our first Guest Scholar/Blogger. She'll be guest posting in this space very soon. She's got the goods. Stay tuned!

Then, and Again: Why I Want a Wife

I’ve been thinking all week about that recent New York Times article by Shira Boss, titled "Wedded to Work, and in Dire Need of a Wife." Does anyone remember an article by Judy Syfers in the premier issue of Ms. magazine, called “Why I Want a Wife?” Yes, well, that was back in 1971. Things haven’t changed that much. Except maybe our consciousness about it all.

Syfers' article was a bit of a satire. But Jessica over at feministing has an excellent, and serious, point about the meaning of “wife” when she writes,
Now, I know the [Times] article is trying to make a point, but framing support for a spouse's job and chores at home as "wifely" duties is not exactly the best way to hold men (remember them?) accountable for their role in the domestic sphere.
We need some new lingo. I tried to get past the old formulas in an article I wrote for July’s Psychology Today called “Two People, One Breadwinner.” After interviewing couples who could afford to have one parent staying at home with their kids while the other worked, and talking to a slew of couples counselors and psychologists for that piece, here’s what I surmised:

Breadwinner wives—still often expected by their mates to act as social director, housekeeper, and meal planner—resent stay-at-home husbands who are lax about household upkeep. Househusbands (for lack of a better term) adjusting to their new domestic roles often resent wives who tell them what to do. Primary earners of either sex can feel trapped by work, resentful that they didn’t have the choice to stay home. And primary earners can also feel let down by partners who, once professionally ambitious, now relish their domestic identities to an alienating degree.

Bottom line: regardless of who is at home and who works, tensions and resentments around the breadwinner / domestic caretaker dynamic are hardly gender specific. Of course, in the majority of American couples, both partners earn. Most of us are still trying to figure that out. But as Jessica points out, and regardless of whether couples are living off of one income or two, getting past the equation of “wife” with “domestic maid” would be an excellent place to start.


...for my jazzy new logo. I'm so excited! Do ya'll like?!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Feminist Memoirists Muse While Headlines Toll the Bell

This year's Book Festival in Edinburgh seems to be inspiring a number of "dead feminism" articles in the UK press. There's one in The Herald (Thirty Years on from the Glory Days of Feminism: How Have We Changed?) and not one but two in The Scotsman ("Feminism is Dead for Most Women Today, Says Its High Priestess" and "We Gave Men a Hard Time"). I don't know about you, but that photo attached to the Festival's logo up there sure don't scream "postfeminism" to me....

Memoirs by movement veterans Lynne Segal (currently professor of psychology and gender studies at Birkbeck University, London) and writer Michele Roberts along with comments from writer Fay Weldon seem to be sparking the not-so-novel headline. Says Roberts in The Scotsman,
"There isn't a public feminism supporting women in the way there was, because feminism has become discredited as a sour-faced, curmudgeonly set of ideas. Young women don't want to be associated with it. I don't think the culture as a whole represents the strength and beauty of female friendships and how those relationships save you from going mad. Women are portrayed as sitting around giggling together in wine bars. I'm not saying that that's what young women are like, but that's what the culture is describing: you're allowed to have female comrades but only if you're discussing stilettos."
These women have excellent points, but the emphasis of these articles is just so, well, predictable. Over and over, the death of feminism seems a juicier story than stories about its life. But don't people get tired reading the same ole story? Don't journalists get tired of writing them? For vibrant signs of life among our sisters across the sea and other tales yet to tell, of course, see The F-Word and the women's page of The Guardian.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Where the Boys Aren't

One more on men this morning, cuz I just can't resist. Charles McGrath of the New York Times speculates on what Scott Rudin and Disney are going to do with the movie version of The Dangerous Book for Boys, which they've bought the rights to. Writes McGrath,
A report in Variety suggested that the plot of the movie is likely to involve fathers who struggle to balance their instinctive need to protect and their offspring’s craving for adventure, even though the evidence mostly suggests that these days it is the sons who are risk averse, unwilling to unplug themselves from their iPods, and the parents who are eager for their offspring to go outside and have some old-fashioned fun.
Anyone got other ideas for Disney and Rudin? Who should star? And while we're on the subject of sneak peaks, of course, don't forget to preorder your copy of the Daring Book for Girls, which, in an amazing act of daring speed on the part of our ladies of MotherTalk, comes out October 30!

(Thanks to Marco for the heads up on the boy movie.)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Not So Macho Men

In the wake of all that semi-silly media interpretation of a new scientific study of how masculinity in male faces is perceived, I recently learned about a resource with what sounds like a little more (forgive me) balls: Shira Tarrant's forthcoming anthology, Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power. An interview with Shira is currently up over at The Feminist Pulse (a blog connected to Girlistic magazine). Shira is an assistant professor at CSU Long Beach. Looking forward to reading the book when it comes out. And for the goods on the science behind the man face study, check out the post by my savvy friends over at Broadsheet.

Speaking of feminist man books, I'm sorry I missed Jackson Katz, author of The Macho Paradox, who I heard was maybe going to call in on The Lisa Birnbach show last Friday when we were on. If you're out there reading this Jackson, keep on keepin on! I'm all for the "no man left behind" school of feminism. Can someone get Jackson and all those guys in Shira's anthology a "Feminists Dig Me" t-shirt please?

I Miss the Mountains...

Taking a break from a piece I'm working on to pour through vacation pics (thanks for sending, Dad!). I can't believe I was in Wyoming only a week ago! This is me in Teton National Park, right before I went for a swim. Hey, if ever you're looking for a great B&B in Teton Valley, check out the Wilson Creekside Inn. The proprietess serves up some mean John Wayne eggs.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Goodbye, GreenStone...

This morning I was a guest on the final airing of The Lisa Birnbach Show, along with Gloria Feldt, Courtney Martin, and, by phone, Gloria Steinem. I was honored to be flanked by the Glorias and Courtney, and our intergenerational conversation about feminism was a great practice run of the panel we're putting together and taking on the road. I accidentally said "damn" (as in "Women become more radical with age, but I also know lots of damn radical young women") on the air and then immediately wondered if you are allowed to say "damn" on the radio.

Though we all looked hot in our celebratory pink feather boas, it was a sad sad day, as GreenStone Media, the show's short-lived parent company, is closing down. Lisa (pictured above) is a witty, wise, charismatic talk radio host who makes you feel like you're chatting in her living room. She's had some incredible guests, mainstream and radical activisty alike, and she has great shoes. The idea and existence of GreenStone -- talk radio for women -- held such promise. I know Lisa will land on her feet, and wherever she goes will be damn lucky to have her. Oops. There I go again.

Goodbye, GreenStone. Thank you for having me, and thank you, most of all, for trying. We'll miss you like crazy.

I've Remodeled!

That patterny background was just really starting to get to me. Thanks to stuff I learned at BlogHer last month, I'm streamlining a bit, too. Hope folks like the new digs?! Construction is still underway, so feedback is most welcome!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hillary Agonistes?

I can't decide if I want to go see Nick Salamone's new play, Hillary Agonistes, or not. Interesting comment in Patrick Healy's piece about it in the NYTimes: "[T]he iconography of Mrs. Clinton, like the woman herself, seems to have been around forever." In truth, I think the iconography was around before the woman herself.

All eyes may be focused on Hill these days, but meanwhile, the number of women in political leadership seems to have once again leveled off, according to research findings cited in an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal:
[A]lthough women hold a quarter of all seats in state legislatures, "we've hit a plateau," says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics, a public-policy institute at New Jersey's Rutgers University.

The bottom line: While women will cast about 53% of the votes in November 2008, based on the past two presidential elections, their share of elective offices seems to have leveled off at about one in six at the federal level, and one in four in the state capitals.
The reason for the slowdown, according to the article? Simple. Women remain less likely to run for public office than men:
They first need to be recruited and assured of their qualifications, research shows. "Women tend to run because they're concerned about an issue; they don't wake up thinking they want to be governor the way men do," says Jeanne Shaheen, a former three-term governor of New Hampshire who is now the director of Harvard University's Institute of Politics.
Regardless of what we think of Hillary Clinton, it's time to tackle the confidence gap, ladies, and take a page from Hill's book. But wait - does this mean the external obstacles are all cleared up? Inquiring minds want to know.

(Thanks to Marco for the heads up.)

Sperm's Meaning Is Fluid

So I've just started reading
Sperm Counts: Overcome by Man's Most Precious Fluid
by feminist sociologist (and lesbian mother of two) Lisa Jean Moore and I tell ya, someone over at NYU Press had a wee bit of fun writing her flap copy. "Moore offers a penetrating exploration..." "Sperm Counts examines the many places sperm rears its head." And of course, the subtitle. But my favorite is the fact that there is a drawing of a squiggly little sperm positioned at a slightly different spot on every single page and if you flip through the book real fast, the sperm seems to swim. Try it. It's fun.

On the serious side, this looks like an incredibly well-researched and captivating read. Moore looks at children's birds-and-bees books, forensic transcripts, porn, and sperm bank brochures to offer this biography qua cultural history of modern-day sperm. Check out Thomas Rogers' seminal interview with Moore over on Salon. I've got a suggestion for the sequel: Egg Matters. More to come. Ok ok, I'll stop while I'm ahead.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sex, Care Bear Thongs, Third Wave Feminists! Oh My

My take on Wendy Shalit's Girls Gone Mild is now up over at The American Prospect Online. A teaser:

"Unrequited Love: Musings on Girls Gone Mild"

Author Wendy Shalit wrongly blames lenient baby-boomer parents and third-wave feminists for the hyper-sexual culture that surrounds young women, and in doing so loses potential allies in her nascent "modesty movement."

Had Wendy Shalit not adopted the tone of a beleaguered conservative, blaming feminism for turning young women into sluts, I could have gone with her all the way. She's not like those modesty-advocates of yore who fretted that women's liberation would result in coed bathrooms, and then went on to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment. She's different from the rest....

...As the American Psychological Association notes in a May 2007 report, there's a paucity of research on the sexualization of girls, and there's certainly a need for more. Shalit's reliance on the experiences of those who email her is beyond questionable, but she nonetheless peppers her prose with some solid statistics that make you want to run to your local toy manufacturer and stop them before they put Slutty Elmo on the shelves. She emphasizes girls' agency and activism. Among the book's heroes are the girls from Pittsburgh who orchestrated a successful "girlcott" of offensive t-shirts sold by Abercrombie and Fitch with catchphrases such as "Who Needs Brains When You Have These?". Shalit's desire to incite positive social change is admirable -- and genuine.

But Shalit giveth, then taketh away. Her tactics are gratuitously divisive. After celebrating said young activists, for instance, who were hailed by third wave feminists as inspirational, she uses these girls to trump up the so-called intergenerational divide on modesty. She also loses progressive allies in the fight against the pornification of the girls' toy aisle by giving a free pass to advertisers and corporations. And she loses feminists young and old by conflating the inappropriate, premature sexualization of girls under age 18 with the entire project of sexual revolution....

For more, click here.

Nominate a REAL Hot Woman Today

I'm back from WY, back in the city of polluted air and garbage on the streets that, for better or worse, I love. But this cheered me up:
Nominations are now open for one of my favorite young feminist projects going down these days, The REAL hot 100. Riffing on Maxim's Hot 100 list, the annual Real Hot 100 list shows that young women are “hot” for reasons beyond looking good in a magazine. By featuring this list of young women from around the country doing incredible things in their every day lives, they’re battling the popular notion that all young women have to offer is outward appearances.

The annual list, declare the smart hotties/hot smarties beyond REAL Hot, is just a first step. Through the Real Hot 100 network, nominees and winners can combine their resources, share strategies and join forces to further their social causes and to affect real change.

So...Do you know a smart, savvy young woman who represents the intelligence, drive and diversity of young women today? Is she breaking barriers, speaking her mind and making the world a better place? Look around – she may be your best friend, your wife, your partner, your colleague, your sister, your student. Nominate her today!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Becoming Karl...I Mean, Jane

Greetings from WY! I'm so excited Karl Rove resigned, but the lovely people I'm staying with are not. Potentially interesting breakfast conversation, as you can imagine.

Meanwhile, the ladies at MotherTalk have done it again. Check out the blog tour for Becoming Jane - which Elizabeth Curtis, Alison Piepmeier, and Consuela Francis so awesomely participated in here at Girl with Pen.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Becoming Jane-athon Installment #2: Jane Sexes It Up*

Guest post by Conseula Francis and Alison Piepmeier

Conseula Francis blogs at Afrogeek Mom and Dad. In her real life she’s an English professor with a James Baldwin fetish.

Alison Piepmeier blogs at Baxter Sez. She read Pride and Prejudice once…a long time ago…and has very lowbrow taste in movies.

This film is an homage to birth control.

No, really—one of the subtexts that Conseula and I both noticed was the fact that, as a woman, your life is much more difficult if, as Jane Austen’s sister puts it, you’re having “a child every year. How will you write?”

How, indeed.

The homage to birth control is especially poignant because this film is—at least in its first half—unbelievably sexually fraught. And hot. It’s a shame that Conseula and I are both married to other people, because otherwise, we both would have gotten lucky after seeing this film. Whew.

Alison, as usual, is incredibly inappropriate. But she is right. “Becoming Jane” is ultimately about passion—passion for work, passion for life, passion for other people. And it is also about the sacrifices and responsibilities that often make a living a passionate life impossible.

Although Conseula would like to take us into a more appropriate train of thought, I’m taking us back to the sex. This film did a great job of letting the audience experience the sexual tension in very subtle interactions—the unexpected meeting at a ball, a conversation ostensibly about literature in a private library. In fact, Jane and Tom’s first kiss, and what Conseula calls their “sneaky hand touches” are far sexier than many explicit scenes I’ve seen in other, less carefully controlled films.

And when Tom and Henry (Jane’s brother) take off their clothes to go swimming in the river after a very flirtatious cricket game, the audience gasped in delight.

Oh, and let me not forget to mention one of the sneaky—but not so subtle—sexy touches in the film happens in the first three minutes, when the Rev. Austen slides under the covers to go down on Mrs. Austen. I love that James Cromwell.

In addition to being incredibly sexy, though (and it was sexy—the actors portraying both Tom and Henry are nothing short of eye candy), the cricket scene also reveals one of the film’s primary themes: the restraints of propriety on 19th century women. As Tom and Henry race from the cricket field to the river, Jane and Countess Eliza (Jane’s cousin) are racing after them, just as alive, just as turned on by the freedom of it all.

But then the boys strip, propriety (as well as other things) rears its head, and Jane and the Countess head back to join the others. The audience is reminded that their freedom is severely constrained, particularly if they hope to marry well.

One thing this film does very well is convey the sense, the experience, of those constraints. I could feel myself as a modern audience member searching for the loopholes, the ways that Jane could get out of those constraints and make exactly the life she wants for herself, find ideological and professional (and sexual) gratification. The film knew that I was looking for the loopholes and showed me exactly how they were all closed off for Jane—and, to a lesser extent, for Tom, as well.

It’s difficult to say more about the film without spoiling readers. Though we go into it knowing how the story ends, the journey is, nonetheless, worth it. Instead, I’ll talk about the people in the theater tonight.

We saw “Becoming Jane” at our local “art house” theater and the crowd was typical for such a venue. Well dressed patrons ordering pinot grigio to go with their popcorn. The audience was made up primarily of groups of women, seemingly bonded by their love of Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice (if the little squeals of delight that erupted every time an allusion to that novel was made is any indication). They were also a few dour looking men attendance, but they didn’t say much.

Also, Conseula was the one black person in attendance. Which leads to this important sociological query: why do black people hate Jane Austen?

Given the fact that I actually went, willingly, to this movie and own the A&E production of Pride and Prejudice (Mr. Darcy!), I think we can’t make the sweeping statement that black people don’t like Jane Austen. Maybe they just don’t like pinot grigio with their popcorn.

*With all due respect to Lisa Johnson, whose book of this title is not about Jane Austen.

Friday, August 10, 2007

With Prejudice, With Pride: A Two-Part (re)Viewing Diary

Guest post by Elizabeth Curtis

Elizabeth M. Curtis recently graduated with an M.A. in women's studies from the George Washington University, where she wrote her thesis on blogging and the formation of feminist networks online. She blogs regularly at A Blog Without a Bicycle.

1. With Prejudice

When sitting in a theater watching the trailer for Becoming Jane in early July, I turned to my movie-watching date and observed, "That film cannot end well."

My comment, which puzzled my companion at the time, was based on my undergraduate engagements with Austen's novels in English seminars. Doing critical readings of Jane Austen's leading ladies at a women's college – what feminist literary theorist could ask for anything more, right? Studying Persuasion or film adaptations like Clueless or Bridget Jones's Diary in my courses, though, quickly led me to conclude that I was not quite ready for scholarly critiques of my girlhood heroines and an author I idealized. I'm sure you can imagine the horror I felt when presented with a Lacanian reading of Austen's novels as pathological and obsessive ruminations on her own "failed" love life.

And now a movie expose of Austen's real-life romances? Oh, dear. Marketed with the tagline, ""Their love story was her greatest inspiration," I could only imagine what a historical yet fictional film could do to poor Jane…and it wasn't very becoming at all.

The early reviews that I read about Becoming Jane did little to assuage my anxiety. On, Stephanie Zacharek described Becoming Jane as a "weird effort to remake Austen's life -- about which we actually know very little -- into a genteel, tasteful Harlequin romance." Questioning the slim historical evidence that was used as the foundation of this flick (the Jane Austen Society of North America provides a great analysis of fact versus fiction), Zacharek critiques the way in which this film is forced to fit a contemporary sense of romance. BBC Movies provided a similar yet slightly more positive review. There Stella Papamichael wrote, "Mercifully, director Julian Jarrold resists turning a literary icon into a 19th century Bridget Jones, but this story does take a few flights of somewhat dubious fancy in speculating on her relationship with the real Mr Darcy." None so reassuring.

So it was with great trepidation that I sat down in a theater to finally see Becoming Jane for myself. Personally, I've always thought of Jane Austen as one of the great feminist figures in literary history (of course, as it is with most things feminist, whether Jane Austen and her characters are feminist friends or foes is, well, debated) – and I was worried that her dating life would get more attention than her prolific prose thus leaving audiences to forget her accomplishments as an author and to focus instead on a soap opera version of her so-called life.

2. With Pride

I must confess that I was pleasantly surprised by Becoming Jane. Sure, I'm a sucker for period pieces – seeing them is a hobby bordering on obsession for me. But I think most Jane Austen fans will be tickled by the clever blending of her fictional characters with the personalities of her real-life companions in the film.

There were some great feminist-y – though stereotypical – moments in the film, too. You go with that cricket paddle, Jane! You go, girl! I especially appreciated the girl-on-girl mentoring action. Whether it was writerly advice bestowed by Mrs. Radcliffe or sisterly advice shared by Cassandra, it always warms my heart to see strong, positive female relationships in major motion pictures. Because, really, the mean girls just get too much screen-time.

My major issue with the film comes from what I found to be mixed messages about combining career and marriage. Perhaps this issue is a bit too much on the contemporary scene to avoid being incorporated into this historical fiction, but I found myself wishing that I could rewrite history so that Anne-Hathaway-Jane-Austen really could have it all. Women receive so many negative messages in the media about the "consequences" of choosing a career in terms of their personal lives…Wouldn't it be nice to see a more positive portrayal – just once?

To be fair, Jane's on-screen love life was thwarted more by class and circumstance than by career. But when questions like "But how will you write?" were posed as counters to Jane's proposed romantic schemes or when a successful writing career is presented as a consolation for the loss of a lover…It just makes me more aware of the (unfortunate) timelessness of the struggle for women to find a work/life balance that allows them to reach all of their aspirations – personal and professional.

I can't think of a better place, though, to discuss the life of this literary lady, its cinematic portrayal, or the film's messages about professional writerly woman than Girl with Pen.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Women's Studies Writers Vie for More Media Turf

A quick hello from a layover in Dallas! Please do check out thisWomen's eNews article, "Women's Studies Writers Vie for More Media Turf," by writer extraordinaire Courtney Martin. I'm so excited. Seriously, I'm jumping up and down.

And to stay updated on future workshops and course offerings, be sure to subscribe to the Girl with Pen newsletter (<-subscribe button over there). I'm looking forward to doing more.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Blogging Jane (Austen, That Is) - Stay Tuned!

I'm off to Wyoming this afternoon (crossing fingers that Cheney won't be there!), but an exciting offering is coming to you in my absence. Not one, not two, but THREE guest bloggers will be posting their reviews of the new movie, Becoming Jane, during the next few days here on Girl with Pen. One, Alison Piepmeier, is a professor of literature at the College of Charleston in South Carolina and a blogger at Baxter Sez (described as "a swirling mini-cosmos of academic and cultural quirkiness"). Another, Elizabeth Curtis, recently finished a hot M.A. thesis project on blogging and the formation of feminist networks online and blogs over at A Blog without a Bicycle. The third, Tiby Kantrowitz, is a writer with a background in film production and a passionate interest in women's issues. I really can't wait to read their reviews!

Enjoy the weekend, enjoy these bloggers - and hey, you New Yorkers out there, stay cool.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Feminist Fantasies Circa 1972

In the category of too-goood-not-to-share, I just came across this poster (left) for a 1972 film version of Anne Roiphe's feminist novel, Up the Sandbox. According to Wiki:

Up The Sandbox is a 1972 comedy film directed by Irvin Kershner. Paul Zindel's screenplay, based on the novel by Anne Richardson Roiphe, focuses on Margaret Reynolds, a young New York City wife and mother who, neglected by her husband and bored with her daily existence, slips into increasingly bizarre fantasies that involve, among other things, armed robbery, tribal fertitlity music, and a terrorist plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty. The cast includes Barbra Streisand, David Selby, Paul Benedict, George S. Irving, Conrad Bain, Isabel Sanford, Lois Smith, and Stockard Channing in her film debut. Critics in general were impressed by Steisand's performance but thought the film itself was a confusing mess. Audiences avoided it in droves, and it proved to be one of her lowest-grossing films ever.

Um, maybe that's why I hadn't heard of it. The movie version, that is.

Journalism Gone Mild--Girls and Sex for the Statistically Inclined

I think a lot about the line between research, me-and-my-friends-search, and journalism. I read with interest the review of Wendy Shalit's GGM in Sunday's Washington Post. Reviewer Jennifer Howard seems to feel, as I did, dubious of Shalit's method, yet somewhat sympathetic to the portrait she details. Writes Howard,
[Shalit] asks, "Why, in the year 2007, should women's focus be completely on pleasing young men?" (Is it?) And she wants us to take heart (and I do, I do) from the growing number of young women whom she describes as "rebellious good girls." These new avatars of girl power give abstinence talks to high-schoolers; they stage "Pure Fashion" shows in which fashion doesn't just mean flesh; they become "girlcotters" who lobby retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch to pull tee-shirts emblazoned with sexist slogans. They don't sleep with the first, or second, or third boy who comes along. They don't become "people-pleasing bad girls" who will do anything, anything, to get a boy's attention.

More power to them. Behind Shalit's celebration of such girls, however, is some very dubious sociology.

Dubious indeed. And passing off anecdotal journalism as researched reality is particularly frustrating to the academically inclined in light of the fact that Shalit is onto something important. As the American Psychological Association noted in a May 2007 report, there’s a paucity of research on the sexualization of girls.

Jim Naughton over at Episcopal Cafe
has an interesting take on it all:
Wendy Shalit has made a career as the sort of journalist whose trend stories fall apart on closer examination. But no matter, because by the time closer examination occurs, the stories have frequently started quite useful conversations. Her latest book, Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It's Not Bad to Be Good, is a case in point. Unless one believes that the plural of anecdote is data, there is simply no evidence for a resurgence in modesty. But by the time a reader figures that out, he or she has skipped past the need for data, and leapt to the discussion of whether such a resurgence would be desireable. It is possible to regard Ms. Shalit simultaneously as a mediocre journalist and a useful contributor to contemporary conversation about morals.

And so I ask you, when does mediocre journalism constitute a useful contribution, and how do we draw that line?

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Young Women, Pay Gap, and the City?

Economist Heather Boushey weighs in at WIMN's Voices Group Blog on that New York Times article from Friday titled “For Young Earners in Big City, a Gap in Women’s Favor.” She writes,
I haven’t seen the full study, but I’d guess that NYC must have fewer of the highly paid (white?) men and more of the poorly paid men (Black and Hispanic?), relative to highly paid women of any race. Is this progress? If it’s because there are more young, low-wage men of color, I’m not so sure that this is a sign of college women’s progress....So, is this a story about women with college degrees moving to the big city and makin’ it or is it about a change in the demographics of cities, with more, very low wage men of color? It may be a bit of both, but while the article implies that this data show that women with college degrees are outperforming their male colleagues, there is nothing in the statistics presented that indicates this is the case.
I'm guessing this counterview never makes it mainstream. Instead, how long do we think it will be before the backlashy chorus--women outpacing men!--chimes in? If that chorus shines the light on raising wages for urban low-wage men of color, terrific. But I'm not holding my breath.

Saturday, August 4, 2007


Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Grandma, happy birthday to you! You are an inspiration. When I'm 98, I hope that I, too, am reading blogs.

Much love,
(Grandma Pearl is to my right; Grandma Marge, 89, to my left. I am one lucky lady, sitting in between.)

Rebecca Walker and Katie Roiphe Revisited

I've moved on from Wendy Shalit's Girls Gone Mild to Katie Roiphe's Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Portraits of Married Life in London Literary Circles 1910-1939, which I'm considering, along with Rebecca Walker's latest, Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood after a Lifetime of Ambivalance, for another piece I'm writing. Both these books received some virulent public thrashing, but I have to say, I read Walker's from cover to cover yesterday without stopping. I've always found her style compelling, and the writing here is crisp. Could my interest in her subject matter have anything to do with the fact that I'm newly fulltime obsessed by pregnant women? Natch. (Marco is, too, as last night at dinner al fresco he commented to me, "There must be a boom. Every other woman seems pregnant on the Upper West Side." And it's entirely true. It's not just the maternity fashion everyone seems to be wearing. At least, I don't think it is. Or is it? But I digress.)

As for Roiphe's new book, I've only read the intro so far, but I find it gripping. Michelle Green (who thrashed the book for the New York Times) thought Roiphe failed in making a case for the relevance of "musty dramas" of these Bloomsburys today. Au contraire. Roiphe (pictured above) does an excellent job, in the intro at least, of describing these women, and their consorting men, as "determined to live differently, to import the ideas of political progress into their most personal relations." And she smartly highlights the ways aspects of their myriad personal, political negotiations are still with us. Tina Bennett thought so too. In a June 24 New York Times review, Bennett wrote,
The way the alpha women of Bloomsbury wrestled with their need for love while producing work of the highest quality should be an inspiration to a modern generation of women who, we keep being told, are more and more inclined to give up the struggle and abandon their aspirations.

Not sure I agree with that entire sentiment cough cough, but I do think Roiphe frames her portraits in a topical and newsworthy way. Has anyone out there read the book yet? Would be eager to hear what folks think.

(I'll be eager to hear reactions to my review of GGM over at The American Prospect - stay tuned!)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Report from The Devil, the Lovers, and Me

Kimmi Auerbach's reading at Border's in Columbus Circle last night was packed--I've never been to a reading quite like it. Kimmi, author of The Devil, the Lovers, and Me: My Life in Tarot, picked three tarot cards from the deck and read the correlating chapters (each chapter's title is the title of a card). Her performance was stellar; her writing hilarious, poignant, alive.

During the Q&A, someone asked how her parents (who were sitting in the front row) felt about turning up as characters in her memoir, and I had flashbacks to all the times I got that question while on the road with Only Child earlier this year. Among other bits of wisdom the 30-something wise-beyond-her-years writer dispensed was this, a line adapted (I think) from Kimmi's friend and fellow funny girl Wendy Shanker, who was also in the house:

"The children who are loved the most are boldest on the page."
Meaning, children who are well loved don't fear losing the love of their parents when they grow up and become writers who write about their past. I thought this was an interesting counter-sentiment to the words of the writers who told Daphne and me that they couldn't safely write about their parents until they were 6 feet under. Interesting litmus test, I say.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Reading Diary: I Like Mine Hot

I've been thinking a lot about Chapter 8 of Wendy Shalit's book, the one called "Feminism's (Mild) Fourth Wave." The chapter’s title of course begs the question: Is mildness the choicest term? My dictionary defines “mild” as gentle, easy-going, and slow to get angry. Lightly flavored and not strong, hot, spicy, or bitter in taste. Pleasant and temperate and not excessively hot or cold. I prefer mine hot, but hey, I’ll admit: It takes all kinds.

Katie Couric, Hillary Clinton - WIMN in Chicago!

Why do journalists consider Hillary Clinton's "fat thighs" newsworthy in
coverage of her presidential bid, while Dick Cheney's beer belly is never
noticed by political reporters? Are women all really vapid, pathetic, gold-digging whores, as so-called "reality" TV producers would like us to believe? Feminist media activism and independent media production can interrupt this misogynistic media landscape - but how can either survive in a fractured funding climate? These are just some of the meaty issues that will be tackled by Women in Media and News (WIMN) in Chicago while I'm at Kimmi's reading tonight.

WHEN: Thurs., Aug. 2, 7pm
Click here to view Evite, and RSVP

WHAT: Wine, cheese and strategic conversation
Meet Women in Media and News' Executive Director, Board members, bloggers and special guests, including Veronica Arreola (Chicago Parent blogger), Paula Kamen (WIMN's Voices blogger, author and playwright), Gwynn Cassidy (co-founder, The Real Hot 100), and others at: "Don't Pin Your Hopes on Katie Couric: How Women Can Confront, Challenge and Change Contemporary Media - a discussion with Jennifer L. Pozner and Anne Elizabeth Moore."

If you go, tell me all about it! (And if any of the Chicago gals would like to guest blog about it here, please let me know.)

Reminder - Sisterrupted on Cable (34) Today!

Last Thursday's forum on my book hosted by Demos, NCRW, Woodhull, and Ms. Foundation airs today 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: (select channel 34).

Tarot in the City

The other week, my writers' group got together with Courtney Martin's writers' group (Crucial Minutiae) for some professional and intergenerational exchange, and for fun. I met this fabulously vivacious woman there, Kimmi Auerbach. Kimmi's reading from her new book, The Devil, The Lovers & Me: My Life in Tarot, tonight at Borders at Columbus Circle, at 7PM. Come one, come all!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

2 Great Resources for Sex...Research

Around the same time that GGM arrived in my mailbox the other week, I also received notice about these cool new resources:

1. The Barnard Center for Research on Women has assembled ephemera dating from 1970-1999 related to women's sexual health--resource guides, newsletters, and pamphlets written for (and by) diverse groups of women. Addressing issues like safe sex, teenage pregnancy, lesbians, and AIDS, advancements in reproductive technologies, contraceptives, reproductive health, and forced sterilization, these are documents that have empowered women to make well-informed decisions about their own bodies since the dawning of feminism's second-wave. The collection is online, here.

2. In May 2007, the American Psychological Association released the Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, linking the phenomenon to some of the most common mental health problems in girls and women. You can read the executive summary here. (To request a copy, contact Leslie Cameron at

Pass it on :)