Monday, December 31, 2007

See You in 2008!

Photo cred: Marco Acevedo

I Heart Palgrave for Publishing Rockin' Feminist Books

Catching up on, well, life, I wandered over to one of my publisher's websites this morning and found a slew of kick-ass titles for 2008. Here's a taste:

The Happy Stripper: Pleasures and Politics of the New Burlesque by Jacki Willson is due in January 2008. Why Women Wear What They Wear, by Sophie Woodward, and Pornification: Sex and Sexuality in Media Culture, an anthology, are both due in February 2008.

Third Wave Feminism and Television: Jane Puts It In a Box, an anthology edited by Merri Lisa Johnson, is now out. And so is Geek Chick: Smart Women in Popular Culture, an anthology edited by Sherrie A. Inness. I am forever indebted to Sherrie for publishing my first piece in an anthology back when I was in graduate school--an essay on Nancy Drew. Happy 2008 Sherrie, wherever you are!


Glamour magazine's new political blog Glamocracy has invited all the presidential candidates to guest blog before Super Tuesday (Feb. 5). Here's what Hillary and McCain each have to say to young women. Obama's next. The responses to each candidate's post from the Glamocracy bloggers are def worth a read.

And as Carolina pointed out the other day in a comment here, there's another glamorous political blog that has been around for awhile, called Polichicks Online--"the it girl's guide to politics." Hmmm...Off to check it out. (And thanks for the heads up, Carolina!)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Help! I'm Stuck in a Florida Theme Park!

...but headed back to NYC tomorrow. BTW, that is not an embryo pictured left but a manatee, otherwise known as the sea cow. We missed the Weeki Watchee mermaid attraction but did manage to take in the two-headed turtle. Hope everyone's having good times out there. I'll be back to posting regularly next week!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Narrative Nonfiction 101

In the spirit of sharing what I'm learning while on furlough at Starbucks, here's some wisdom from the book I'm lapping up faster than my latte, called Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide (published by the Nieman Foundation):

• “The most mundane tale, imparted by an inspired storyteller, captivates….Readers will gladly follow a voice they trust almost anywhere” – Mark Kramer and Wendy Call, TTS

• “Structure is the deliberate and purposeful sequence of the reader’s experience.” Mark Kramer, TTS

• “Every narrative tale—from The Iliad to the latest Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper serial—has the same underlying structure…: A central character encounters a problem, struggles with it, and, in the end, overcomes it or is defeated by it or is changed in some way. If the story, as it unfolds in life, lacks one of these elements, you should not attempt to write it as a narrative.” –Bruce DeSilva, TTS

• “The narrative nonfiction equivalent of the film sound track is an idea plot: an ordered succession of arguments that moves forward in sync with the narrative plot….The more the writer thinks about the movement of the idea track in the narrative while reporting, the less clunky the execution.” – Nicholas Lemann, TTS

• “Beginning to read a story should feel like embarking on a journey, starting toward a destination. The writer must decide what larger meaning the story represents and lead the reader to that. Is it about fear? Is it about shame? Pain? Love? Betrayal? Hate? Faith?” – DeNeen L. Brown, TTS

• “To report and write good narrative it is important to develop a clear process that takes you from beginning to end: exhaustive researching, choosing a strong main character, thinking the story through, and reporting the story, scene, and theme. I have found that if I stick to that process and don’t take shortcuts, I always end up with what I need for the story. It might not be the story that I started out looking for, but it will be a story.” –Walt Harrington, TTS

And my personal favorite:

• “The story is in the dark. That is why inspiration is thought of as coming in flashes. Going into a narrative—into the narrative process—is a dark road. You can’t see your way ahead….The well of inspiration is a hole that leads downward.” –Margaret Atwood

Greetings from the Deep South

Well, here I am visiting Marco's folks in a town where there are more churches than gas stations. We are feeling a bit the fish out of water. To ground ourselves, we've made our way to the nearest dread Starbucks (a godsend!), where I am reading about writing and Marco is reading Salon. We are hopeless. Alas.

Some amazing things down here: Spanish moss, a sign for a horse ranch called "Ocala Stud," a bar called "No Where?", and Marco's mom's yucca pasteles.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Spreading Holiday Link Love...

Right about now, I'm wishing I had far deeper pockets and could give oodles to all my favorite orgs, all of which have sent me beautiful, moving appeal letters, some of which actually make me teary (clearly, I'm a mush). These orgs are all incredibly worthy and deserving and doing amazing things to make this world a more hospitable place for women and girls. What I can do, however, is spread the love by posting links to the orgs on my A-list that have donation pages, in case anyone is looking for a place to send a gift of impact.

Girls Write Now
Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership
Women and Media (WAM!)
National Council for Research on Women
Center for the Education of Women
National Women's Studies Association
Wellesley Centers for Women
Girls Incorporated
New York Women's Foundation

Happy, merry, joy, peace, light, and love to all!
(Image cred)

Fat Pockets and Fat Envelopes

Herbert Allen has an interesting op-ed up over at the New York Times today, in case you missed it. Allen makes a case for a form of revenue sharing among colleges and universities that would allow the poor schools back into the competition for the best teachers and students. Writes Allen,

Our graduated income tax system sets varying tax rates based on income levels. Similarly, we could establish standards for the endowments of colleges and universities.

An example: Harvard or Williams (my alma mater) have endowments that are well over $500,000 per student. Why not take the colleges whose endowments exceed that per student amount and tax their capital gains? The tax revenue could then be put into a designated pool and distributed pro rata to colleges under the base level. The college with the lowest per student endowment would get the highest share.

...I know it won’t be easy to convince well-off schools to share their wealth. But they should. They should see this act as part of a down payment on their professed mission: to create a stronger, smarter and ultimately more stable society.

And on a slightly related note, for an interesting look at the pursuit of Ivy gold by a stellar emerging author, Joie Jager-Hyman, keep your eyes peeled this March for a book called Fat Evelope Frenzy:One Year, Five Promising Students, and the Pursuit of the Ivy League Prize.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My Bloggy Neighorhood

I'm often asked what blogs I read regularly--especially by writer friends who find the blogosphere a) overwhelming (it is!) and b) easier to ignore (which I'm against!). Instead of going dark next week, I thought I'd try the autopost option and introduce GWP readers to some of the blogs in my RSS reader. Stay tuned...!

GUEST POST: A Healthcare Fix from Women

This morning I'm thrilled to bring you one of the amazing women from this fall's "Making It Pop" bloginar: Jill Moffett. Jill, a PhD in Women's Studies from the University of Iowa, has just completed her MPH and is currently working at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She's hard at work on a very important book about how women are reforming the U.S. healthcare system. Here's Jill:

Even though I have two graduate degrees and a full time job at a major research university, I have am one of the millions of Americans who has no medical insurance. I'm trying to be patient and to not worry obsessively, since I'm pretty sure I'll be getting benefits sometime in 2008. But being uninsured does make me extra careful to look both ways before I cross the street.

My fear of getting hit by a bus is only one reason why I am excited about the upcoming Raising Women's Voices for Healthcare Reform Conference to be held in Boston in April 2007. The conference, put on by the Avery Institute for Social Change, the National Women's Health Network, and Mergerwatch will provide a unique opportunity for women's health activists to come together as a group and brainstorm about how to make women's voices heard in the public debate about healthcare reform.

This gathering comes on the heels of a series of Webinars sponsored by the same coalition, which provided an overview of some of the critical issues in the debate and provided a forum for discussing how to address them. This type of hands-on, practical educational effort is an excellent example of feminism in action. As Byllye Avery – founder of the National Black Women's Health Project noted during the first Webinar, it is crucial that women and women's organizations get involved in this discussion, because if we don't, our issues won't be addressed by policymakers, politicians or the media.

The mainstream media would have us think that the only woman who has anything important to say about healthcare reform is Hilary Clinton, whose plan would have me legally required to purchase healthcare, an option which is hardly appealing given my meager salary and substantial student loans. As women's studies professor Susan Feiner argued in her October article on Alternet, subsidizing health insurance purchase with tax credits is a plan which will still leave many women out in the cold.

Not only do women have much to gain from healthcare reform – after all, women visit doctors far more often than men do –but we also have some great ideas about what healthcare in America could look like. Breast cancer activists rallied together and not only managed to make doctors abandon the practice of the "one-step radical mastectomy," but also succeeded in having breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment covered under Medicaid. Planned Parenthood clinics have long offered sliding scale prices and preventative care, and breastfeeding activists note that workplace lactation promotion programs will save corporations and the medical insurance system money.

This is why the Raising Women's Voices Conference is so important. Although the mainstream media hasn't paid much attention to the hard work that women are doing to reform the healthcare system, these efforts need to be highlighted. The conference won't ensure that my medical bills are paid if I do get hit by a bus, but at least it might generate some awareness that Hilary's isn't the only woman's voice that's being raised in the discussion about how to fix this broken healthcare system.

Interested in guest posting on GWP? Email me (Deborah) at the address at the bottom of the page with your idea and I'll send you some brief guidelines.

I Am Prude (and So Can You!)

Just when you were craving another book that pits "bad girls" (ie, feminists, and those who have nonmonogamous sex) against "good girls" (the ones who don't) comes Carol Platt Liebau's Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls (and America, Too!). While I'm guessing the parens and exclamation point are for earnest emphasis, I can't help but think of Steven Colbert's recent title, I Am America (and So Can You!) whenever I see this now. And so, I confess to taking the tone of it all a little tongue-in-cheek. That is not, however, the author's intention.

The prolific and ever-savvy sex writer Rachel Kramer Bussel has written about the book over at AlterNet. Charges Rachel,

Liebau is not simply bemoaning the fact that it's easier, and more socially acceptable, for young girls to be sexually active, but also that adult women dare to act this way as well.

...She makes the same tired mistake that so many do, assuming that "sexual freedom" means living in a world where sex doesn't matter, to anyone. Whether we call that "do-me" or "wham, bam, thank you, ma'am," there is so much more to true sexual freedom. But in her world, you're either in a committed, monogamous relationship, or out there screwing anything that moves.

While I'm not all that interested in reading this book (and am grateful to Rachel for doing so for me), I am interested in the chapter titled "Do-Me Feminists and Doom-Me Feminism," if only for the sake of seeing how recent feminist history, once again, gets played.

For more on this exciting trend, of course, see Wendy Shalit's Girls Gone Mild.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hillocracy Studies

Sorry. Couldn't resist, after that last post about Glamocracy. It's just too much fun, the neologisms this season.

Following on that last one, on the historical memory side of things, here's another Carol weighing in today--Caryl, actually, over at Women's eNews. Caryl Rivers advises Hillary at this point in her campaign (when the inevitable no longer is) to remember JFK:

People worried that, as the first Catholic president, he'd build a tunnel to the Vatican.

You face the concern that, as a female, you will either collapse in a crisis (the weak woman myth) or run roughshod over everyone (the dragon lady myth). Either way, you can't be trusted with power.

...[P]lay the "change" card. Don't let your critics get away with saying you echo the past, and represent the establishment. What would be a bigger change than the first female president in history? Your instinct is to be bold; remember, as a Wellesley student you challenged Sen. Ed Brooke--who had become a hawk on Vietnam--to his face and told him he was dead wrong about that war.

Sometimes, forget the lawyer part of you and channel the young rebel.

Another thing: Ignore the well-meaning advice of your sisters who say you are not feminist enough. We'd all love for the first female president to be Gloria Steinem, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul all rolled up into one. It's not going to happen. Maybe someday, but not now.

No "first president" emerges from identity politics. JFK was as far from the familiar Irish Catholic pol as he could get; he talked Harvard and dressed Brahmin.

It's not surprising that the first black candidate who is seen as having a real chance, Barak Obama, does not come from civil rights struggles but is seen as transcending race. His father was from Africa, not Selma. Let your feminism emerge in those policy initiatives you support after you get elected.

You don't need to croon "I am woman, hear me roar." At least, not yet.


Welcome to the Glamocracy

As those who know me know, I'm all for the innovative intersection of politics and glam, if it helps engage more women in a worthy cause. Like voting. And campaigning. And just the other week, Glamour magazine launched a blog with promise: Glamocracy.

As Broadsheet's Carol Lloyd notes, "it's a clever move when an estimated 25 percent of the voters are 18-29 and an increasing number of those younger voters are actively following the presidential elections." Here's Lloyd's assessment:

The idea behind Glamocracy is simple but deft. Five women from different backgrounds (but all within the youngish Glamour demographic) blog weekly on the 2008 elections. Amanda Carpenter, a 25-year-old reporter for conservative Web site, and Asma Hasan, a 33-year-old Muslim-American who describes herself as a moderate and currently registered Republican, fill out the right flank, while Fernanda Diaz, a student from Columbia University and first-time voter, and Caille Millner, a 28-year-old African-American editorialist for the San Francisco Chronicle and unabashed Barack Obama booster, make up the left. Only Rebecca Roberts, a 37-year-old journalist (and daughter of pundit Cokie Roberts), claims journalist's license and resists showing her political undergarments....Diaz's post -- about the candidates acting as if the youngest voters are "exotic animals" requiring full-time youth-outreach specialists and MTV-style events while regularly ignoring the international issues -- taught me something I didn't know. As might be expected, though, there's plenty about candidates' wives and daughters. So far, mercifully, there's not a single fashion do or don't.

Personally, I think it's brilliant. I'll look forward to watching it maintain its integrity, which, with these five writers behind it, should not be hard to do. They're off to a great start.

Abstinence-Only Policies Don't Hold Water

As a follow up to Courseconnections's comment the other day here about a correlation between the rise in teenage pregnancy and the Bush administration's support of abstinence-only education, here's Cynthia Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reminding us that the recent rise in teen births stands in stark contrast to more than a decade of decline:

[T]hat stunning drop was by no means mere coincidence. Activists and community volunteers who genuinely wanted to curb adolescent pregnancy — as opposed to those who just wanted to rail against abortion and inflict their rigid moral codes on others — worked hard to find programs that actually worked. They formed clubs for teen girls. They wrote scripts for role-playing, teaching teenagers how to say "no" to sex. (Those activists, too, believe in abstinence, but they're not naive about its utility.)

High school teachers assigned homework in which students spent a week caring for crying, fidgeting, diaper-wetting baby dolls, so adolescents would learn how difficult and demanding infants can be. They handed out contraceptives, including Depo-Provera, an injection that proved effective with teenaged girls who were unlikely to remember daily pills.

Through the 1990s, that overlapping network of programs was supported and partially funded by the Clinton White House, which believed in a pragmatic response to social problems. While President Clinton supported a woman's right to choose, he also said abortions should be "safe, legal and rare." The same pragmatism brought federal support for crime prevention efforts, including federal funds for hiring police officers.

By contrast, the Bush White House has turned back to a conservative ideology that mocks government as the source of problems — unless taxpayer funds can be used to further far-right objectives. So Depo-Provera is out, but abstinence pledges are in.

Maybe it's just coincidence that more adolescent girls are having babies. More likely, it's the inevitable result of a raft of foolish policies.

I'll say. A raft that sure don't float.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hello, Kansas City!

One of the places I'm headed for Women's History Month this March is Kansas City! I'm particularly excited, because the only other time I was in Missouri was in grade school, when my class drove down from Illinois to check out the haunts of Mark Twain. I can't wait to go back, as a grown up (well, sort of) and see the place for real.

Here's a description of what I'll be doing there this time:

"In this talk, Deborah Siegel, author of Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild, takes a fresh look at the fights and frenzies around U.S. feminism across four decades. From WITCH (Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell) to Bitch magazine, much has changed in the world of feminism, its rhetorics, and its fights. But far more has stayed the same. Women young and old sometimes lose sight of how and why, or fail to see each other as engaged in the same larger battle. Instead, we are left fighting ourselves. Siegel reaches across the generational divide to show how younger women are both reliving the battles of feminism’s past, and reinventing it – with a vengeance."

I wonder what Becky Thatcher would have to say about it all....

"Making It Pop" Hits the Road

Next semester, instead of doing a webinar (or bloginar, rather), I am taking the "Making It Pop: Translating Your Research for Trade" workshop on the road. Here's the description, which I'm happy to email to folks interested in passing it along to their departments or organizations as an attachment:

“Making It Pop: Translating Your Research for Trade,”
with author/blogger/journalist Deborah Siegel, PhD

Are you an academically-inclined writer who wishes to extend your reach? A researcher who longs to write something other than tenure reviews and grant proposals? A scholar who dreams of publishing a popular (“trade”) book, a magazine article, or even an op-ed? You’re not alone.

Too often, in addition to the standard institutional obstacles, academically-trained writers encounter obstacles to writing for popular audiences for which they are unprepared. To write for popular media in a competitive publishing climate, you must be able to craft engaging, accessible, non-technical prose that appeals to an audience far outside your area of expertise. These skills can be learned.

The Making It Pop Workshop takes the Making It Pop Webinar on the road. This 2-3 hour on-site workshop is designed to help researchers, scholars, and policy "wonks" bridge the translation gap and is tailored to meet participants’ needs. Participants are encouraged to come with ideas for research- or policy-based stories they aspire to turn into books and/or articles for hands-on workshopping.

Each workshop covers:
• Techniques for de-jargonizing and enlivening your prose
• Common pitfalls academic writers make when trying to write for popular audiences
• Why “making it pop” does not mean “dumbing it down” or “selling out,” and how to deal with institutional scorn

Tailored Options (each workshop can cover 1-2):

A. Writing a Book Proposal That Sells
• The difference between a book proposal for an academic press and a trade (or commercial) press
• How to know whether your book idea has commercial potential
• What’s entailed in rewriting a dissertation into a trade book
• The elements of a strong book proposal
• The importance of narrative, and what else editors look for
• The role of an agent

B. Publishing Shorter Pieces
• Genres for shorter writings (features, profiles, op-eds)
• How to submit pitches to newspapers and magazines
• How to work with a newspaper or magazine editor

C. Of Books and Blogs
• How to start a blog and/or participate in a blog community as a way to create a platform for your book
• Other ways to use the Internet to help promote your book

See what past participants have said about the workshop here. For additional information or to book, please contact Taryn Kutujian at

Secrets of Book Publishing

Turns out spending a day sick in bed is a great way to catch up with websurfing. Here's a little treat I came across from Mediabistro. It's a video called "The Secrets of Book Publishing," in which editors from Knopf, HarperCollins, Random House, and The New York Times Book Review join agents Henry Dunow and Gail Hochman to discuss the secrets behind books publishing. Moderated by author Susan Shapiro.


Parent Wars Redux

I'm sick as a dog today, lying in bed with the covers pulled up to my nose (and my loyal cat at my feet). Can't quite put a sentence together, so thought I'd just share a few quick links, following on yesterday's post.

The Evolution of Dad Project weighs in on the Daddy Wars, noting, "The conflict isn’t being perceived between Traditional Dads and the Stay-At-Home Dads (which would be obvious manufactured companion to the ‘Mommy Wars’) but between dads who desire to have more of a work/family balance and their bosses, who are more typically dads themselves at a slightly older age and bred more on being more of a dedicated breadwinner."

And the BBC reports on new research from the Institute for Social and Economic Research finds that mothers who work outside the home are happier than SAHMs, via Broadsheet

I hear cannons booming. Or maybe that's just my head?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Daddy Wars at Work

I love this piece by Stephanie Armour appearing in USA Today last week, right down to its title: “Workplace Tensions Rise as Dads Seek Family Time.” A synopsis:

Todd Scott leaves his job every day at 5 p.m. to be with his family – and even then feels guilty he isn’t spending enough time with Hunter, 4, and Anna, 1. By contrast, Scott’s boss, Steve Himmelrich, who has two children and is a more traditional-style dad, spends long days, free time and some weekends at the office. Both acknowledge these differing choices have been a source of tension between them. Their situation reflects the conflicts that are becoming increasingly common in workplaces across the nation, as fathers press for more family time and something other than a traditional career path. Dads are demanding paternity leave, flexible work schedules, telecommuting and other new benefits. They’ve also prompted several Fortune 500 companies to begin pitching such family-friendly benefits to men – and inspired a new wave of workplace discrimination complaints filed by dads.

The article cites a survey by Monster that found nearly 70% of fathers surveyed reporting that they would consider being a stay-at-home parent if money were no object. And--are you sitting down?--"the survey also found that working dads are increasingly tapping into benefits that until just a few years ago were used almost exclusively by mothers: 71% of fathers with a child under age 5 took paternity leave when it was offered by their employer." This goes counter to what I've heard from researchers. Help me out here. Is this good news true?! (If it is, count me in for a happy dance.)

Analysts attribute the change to generation. Today's fathers in their 20s and 30s don't typically adhere to the philosophies or career tracks followed by previous generations. To wit:

For generations, "Fathers have defined success as big cars, big salaries, big homes. But dads now define success as a good relationship with their children and spouse," says Armin Brott of Fathers At Work, an Oakland-based business that specializes in helping men find a balance between work and family. "It's really a generational change, but it's hard," Brott says. "There's tension, and there's this sense out there that careers will suffer."

Clearly, that sense needs to be corrected with some data. My dream is that organizations like Catalyst will soon be taking this on. Sounds like Fathers at Work is already on it. Their tagline is "Transforming Job-Family Conflict into Competitive Advantage." And they offer companies workshops called "Balancing Father Stress and Professional Success." I can't wait to interview these guys for my next book.

Tricks of the Trade

My "Making It Pop: Translating Your Ideas for Trade" bloginar has come to a close, and I miss those gals already. In the spirit of cntinuing to share some of what goes on in the course here on GWP, here are some resources.

Looking for a place to bone up on your nonfiction writing technique? Try these:

Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism - March 14-16, Boston
Associated Writers and Writing Programs Annual Conference - Jan 30-Feb 2, NYC
Mediabistro - jobs, classes, community, and news for media professionals (they have excellent classes, are based on both coasts, and also offer courses online)

Looking to find out who's publishing what? Try:

Publisher's Lunch
- book publishing news (including news about which editors are buying which books and from which agents)

Want to start reviewing books? You first need to know what books are currently in the pipeline and not yet released. Here's where to go:

Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Remember that magazines need a 3-month lead time, so look for books that list their publication dates as being at least 3 months away. To pitch an editor, find their email address and send them 2-3 brief paragraphs proposing your review. Mediabistro offers great classes on writing pitch letters, writing features, writing reviews...pretty much everything. I took a class from them soon after I decided to pursue a popular writing career and will likely be teaching a 1-day intensive in 2008 on doing anthologies. Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Teenage Birthrate on the Up

On Dec. 5, the Centers for Disease Control reported that, after 14 years of decline, the birthrate for women between the ages of 15 and 19 had increased. In 2006, there were 41.9 births for every 1,000 girls in that age range, a 3% rise from 2005.

Why has the teenage birthrate increased after years of decline? Experts are trying to figure it out (experts--please post?) but in the meantime, check out Saturday's op-ed from Meghan Daum of the Los Angeles Times. Writes Daum, after some interesting meditations (which I related to) on being in high school in the 1980s,

Some experts say it's because condoms are not quite the must-have item they once were now that AIDS is increasingly being perceived, rightly or wrongly, as a manageable disease rather than a death sentence. But I also have to wonder if, in the grand scheme of things, pregnancy is just not as frightening to the current crop of teens as it was to past generations. Considering that kids have been forced to think in a very real way about things that can actually kill you, like terrorist attacks and school shootings and, yes, HIV infection, getting pregnant -- and even raising a child -- might seem like a lesser inconvenience. As for embarrassment, these are kids who post their diaries on MySpace. Do we really expect them to abstain because they're afraid of gossip?


Friday, December 14, 2007

Feminist Book Publishing at WAM! 2008

Women, Action & the Media (WAM!) 2008 conference is coming soon: March 28-30, 2008, at MIT’s Stata Center in Cambridge, MA. Register here.

I'll be there as part of a panel on publishing feminist books, along with Courtney Martin, author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body (Free Press, Simon & Schuster); Amy Caldwell, Executive Editor at Beacon Press; and Laura Mazer, Managing Editor of Seal Press. Here's the descript:

Public debate lacks a sensitive discussion of the complex forces shaping the lives of women and girls. Researchers, advocates, and savvy writers everywhere have the opportunity to frame public debate about these issues. Too often, however, important work about women fails to reach an audience outside the academic and advocacy worlds. Writing a “trade” book is one way to enter debate. To sell a book in today’s competitive publishing climate, one must be able to write engaging, accessible prose that will appeal to a wide audience—and know how to market it oneself.
 This session brings together published book authors with editors at houses that publish feminist work. Panelists will discuss the components of a successful book proposal. Participants will learn why it’s essential to think about audience, market, and “platform” and explore ways to use new media to garner visibility for their work after publication.

BTW, I just noticed that the WAM! site has posted a slew of facts and figures and links to articles on women in the media. Def worth checking out.

Teacher Tag Redux

Ok, so I haven't really participated in memes before (blogger tag, for those not in the know), and I must say: Reading the posts from the people I tagged yesterday just made my friggin day! Here's just a sampling, and they've tagged a bunch of folks too, so what out all over the blogosphere for some "teacher thank you" love. (And thanks to J.K. Gayle for starting it of course!)

Courtney Martin at Crucial Minutiae includes:
2. Papa, for teaching me how to be kind to and curious about every human being on earth
3. Chris, for making me shoot baskets in the alley, teaching me how to roll a joint, and making me feel like the most precious creature on earth
4. Nikolai, for teaching me how to breathe, be present, revel, and say “beef patty”

Elizabeth Curtis at A Blog without a Bicycle includes:
1. My mum, because she raised me to be a feminist without me even knowing it
2. My baby brother, because he is my hero and my role model
3. Ms. Cutrer, because she was the first person to tell me that I was a good writer in fourth grade

Alison Peipmeier at Baxter Sez: includes:
4. Kurt Eisen, also at Tennessee Tech. Kurt is the reason that, when I went to grad school, I decided to study American literature. He taught me about the literary canon and invited me to start taking it down.
5. Cecelia Tichi and Teresa Goddu at Vanderbilt University. As co-directors of my dissertation, these women reshaped my entire brain. It wasn't always a pleasant process, but it worked. And Cecelia took me on as a personal project, hiring me as her research and teaching assistant, letting me help her run an NEH Summer Institute, taking me for countless coffees and lunches, mentoring me in how to be a scholar and a woman with a life. When I moved to Charleston, she sent me an afghan that her high school English teacher had made for her. She wanted to pass it on to me, and maybe someday I can give it to a special student of mine.

Wow--I got chills.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Favorite Teachers Gratitude Post

Tis the season for giving. Yet, as Courtney reminds us over at Crucial Minutiae, the giving and wrapping and consuming and grabbing so readily gets out of hand. This week, J.K. Gayle at Speakeristic reminded me of the value of giving personal and public credit to one’s best teachers. In fact, he created a meme, and tagged me. So in the spirit of giving the gift of gratitude, here are my responses to his question, "Who are the teachers who have most personally influenced you and how?" And this post is a public "thank you!" to them all....

1. Mom, who taught me "This too shall pass."
2. Dad, who taught me not to be afraid.
3. Sherry Medwin, my high school English teacher, who introduced me to Adrienne Rich and Emily Dickinson and taught me how to write a term paper ("The Voice of the Woman Poet"!)
4. Susan Friendman, Susan Bernstein, and the late Nelly McKay--my dissertation committee members in graduate school--who let a thousand flowers bloom.
5. Grandma Pearl, who died this fall, and who taught me gentle graciousness at the very end of her life.
6. Robert Berson, who taught me I was whole.
7. My cat Amelia, who taught me how to nap.
8. My cousin Howard, who taught me to buy real estate.
9. My writers group, The Invisible Institute, who teach me how to be a writer in this crazy world.
10. Marco Acevedo, who teaches me the most important lesson: how to love.

For those who aren't sure what a meme is, it's kind of a bloggy chain letter, with content. So to pass it on, I tag:

Rebecca Wallace-Segall at WritopiaLab
Any of the awesome writers at the group blog Crucial Minutiae
Marci Alboher at Hey Marci, and Shifting Careers
PunditMom at PunditMom
Patti Binder at What's Good for Girls
Elizabeth Curtis at A Blog without a Bicycle
Alison Piepmeier at Baxter Sez
Marco Acevedo at The Last Palace

Bad Feminism, Bad TV

Is this what happens when a woman's bid for president and a writers strike coincide?

This spring, Fox will air a new reality show called "When Women Rule." Here's how reality guru Mike Darnell, who's overseeing the project, describes it for Variety:

"You take 12 attractive women who feel like it's still a man's world and who think they've hit a glass ceiling, and you give them their own society to run. Then you take 12 macho, chauvinistic guys who also think men rule the world and see how they survive in a world where they're literally manservants. ... They'll have to obey every command from the women."

The cliches at play here are so tired they're not even worth commenting on. Ok, one comment. Can you imagine anything more counterproductive? Master's tools, master's house and all that. Jeesh. But don't worry. These man-eaters aren't ugly feminists. They're "attractive women." Phew. And we all know that women who think that sexism still exists are really just out to punish men.

"Payback can be a bitch," Darnell said.

According to Fox Entertainment prexy Peter Liguori (what's a prexy??), the show is a sociological experiment:

"What it's doing, in a very Fox-like fashion, is testing social mores," he said. "This is a social experiment and not a sexual experiment. We decided, why not create this Petri dish of a society and see what happens."

Fox-like indeed. But here's my favorite part:

"The other part of the show becomes, what will the women do," Darnell said. "Will they be able to create a great society or will they fight with each other?"

Oh goodie! I can hardly wait for the ensuing catfight, cuz catfights are so sexy. Catherine Price over at Broadsheet does a great takedown, based on the press release. I join her in prayer: May the writers strike be resolved soon. Save us from more bad "reality" tv.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Event: Opting Back In

Check out this upcoming series for professionals who are looking to get back into the workforce, called Opting Back In: A Program for Professionals Re-entering the Workforce.

When : Wednesdays, January 9th, 16th and 23rd, 2008
Where : Newman Conference Center, 151 East 25th Street, NYC

Offered by the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, Opting Back In is a program for women (and men) who want to relaunch their careers after stepping out of the workforce. For three intensive days, professional coaches, line managers, and Baruch faculty will help participants re-assess their career interests and goals, refresh their negotiating skills, re-energize their careers, and renew and update their knowledge of current business trends.

Speakers include current employers who have hired re-entry professionals, authors of recent books on career re-entry issues, award-winning business school faculty, and professionals who have successfully relaunched their careers after years at home.

My gal Lori Rotskoff is moderating one of the panels, and authors Leslie Bennetts and Pamela Stone are among the speakers. Psst...pass it on!

Anthologies Seeking Essays

Not one, but two calls for you this morning, sent to me via Bitch cofounder Lisa Jervis:

1. Yes Means Yes!

Imagine a world where women enjoy sex on their own terms and aren't shamed for it. Imagine a world where men treat their sexual partners as collaborators, not conquests. Imagine a world where rape is rare and swiftly punished.

Welcome to the world of Yes Means Yes.

Co-editors Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti are seeking submissions for their anthology on rape culture, to be published by Seal Press in Fall 2008. Yes Means Yes! will fly in the face of the conventional feminist wisdom that rape has nothing to do with sex. We are looking to collect sharp and insightful essays, from voices both established and new, that demonstrate how empowering female sexual pleasure is the key to dismantling rape culture.

Women and men, published and unpublished authors, are all encouraged to submit essays. Be creative, be forward-thinking, be funny! Perhaps most importantly, we are seeking essays with a pro-active bent that offer new and insightful thoughts and actions on how to dismantle rape culture. No more "No Means No," let's think "Yes Means Yes!"

Please submit your essays to no later than March 1, 2008. Essays should be from 2000 to 5000 words, double spaced and paginated. Please include your address, phone number, email address and a short bio.

2. Kicked Out is a new anthology edited by Sassafras Lowrey which uniquely seeks to tell the tales of former queer youth and current queer youth who were forced to leave home because of their sexuality and/or gender identity. This anthology will tell our collective stories of survival, weaving together descriptions of abuse, and homelessness with poignant accounts of the ways in which queer community centers offered sanctuary, and the power and importance of creating our own chosen families in the face of losing everything we have ever known. Kicked Out offers advice and wisdom to the queer youth of today from those who have been in their shoes. Additionally, it provides the opportunity for readers to get a glimpse into the world of those queer youth who as a result of circumstance have to leave home, while simultaneously shattering the stereotypes of who queer youth are, and what they have the potential to become.

Submissions should be between 1,500 and 2,500 words in length and previously unpublished. Submit your piece via e-mail in .doc format to Multiple submissions per contributor are welcome. Please include a short biography and contact information with your submission. Submissions must be received no later than March 1, 2008. Visit us online at

Monday, December 10, 2007

Take This Quiz: Sexism 101

A new blogger friend of mine, J.K. Gayle, recently posted this awesome quiz. He's also got a great meme going around on "favorite teachers," reminding us of the value of giving personal and public credit to one’s best teachers. (I'm going to post mine soon!)

For those of you unfamiliar with J.K.'s blog, Speakeristic, I urge you to check it out. J.K. is a Ph.D. candidate in the English Department at Texas Christian University, working on "translating Aristotle's Rhetoric, rhetorically, feministically." As he writes, "The whole project works against the nature Aristotle appears to suppose: 'rhetoric is subservient to logic; women are subservient to men; translation is subservient to the original authored text.'"


Shameless Plug Alert: Sisterhood, Interrupted a Top Seller!

Yesterday I learned that Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild has been named one of the top 20 best sellers in sociology for 2007!

For the record, I am not a trained sociologist but happy to have written a book that is categorized as such. My doctorate is in literature/cultural studies, but disciplines blur these days, and categories do, it seems, too.

Also, I'm booking up for Women's History Month (March 2008). Bring me to your campus, company, or organization! I love to yap about the book, and talks spawn the kind of intergenerational dialogue I (and many others, I know) crave, so I'm very, very excited and feel quite fortunate to be on the speaking circuit this year.

To book me, please email Taryn Kutujian at (And for the academics among you, as a member of the academic community, you are entitled to a free desk copy, to encourage you to consider adopting the book in your course! If interested, again, please contact Taryn.)

And borrowing a tactic from my fave blog feministing, please share your own shameless plugs in comments. I'd love to hear.

Summer Writers Retreats, Anyone?

On this rainy grey morning in NYC, I'm putting together a short list of writers residency programs/retreats that are available, by application, during the summers. In addition to McDowell and Yaddo, do you know of ones to add to the list? Please post 'em in comments, and I'll post the complete list in a post down the road!

Here are some I recently learned about, to get us started:

Well Spring House
Ashfield, MA (pictured above)

Ragdale Foundation
Lake Forest, IL

World Fellowship Center

Blue Mountain Center

Needed: Progressive Women's Voices

Leave it to the savvy ladies over at the Women's Media Center to spearhead this stellar opportunity:

The Progressive Women’s Voices program builds on the Women’s Media Center’s mission to make women more visible and powerful in the media. Through this program, we will identify, train, support, and promote progressive women to become sought-after media resources and opinion leaders. Progressive Women’s Voices will infuse the media with women experts who are prepared to deliver their message and information through mainstream and non mainstream media platforms, educating the public and working to gender-balance the journalistic lens.

To that end, WMC is seeking participants who represent diverse backgrounds, areas of expertise, and levels of experience to apply for the program, which entails in-person intensive training, 10 weekly issues briefings, ongoing conversation with other participants, a web platform, ongoing WMC strategy and support, mentoring, and 12 Months of Promotion and Pitching.

Read more about it at HuffPo in this post by WMC President, Carol Jenkins, which begins:

Quick: Name five progressive women who you would consider household names in America today.

Can't do it? Then tell us five progressive women whose voices should be prominent in the national media dialogue, and the Women's Media Center will help put them there.

Ready to apply, or tap someone who is? Spread the word!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Bella Studies

No matter what you think of her, you couldn't ask for a better book promoter than Rosie O'Donnell (ok, maybe Oprah, but Rosie's not far behind). And watching Rosie talk to a group of 11 year olds at a feminist anniversary conference, well, I'll admit, it gives me the chills.

In the clip posted here, a bespeckled 11-year old African American girl named Nia asks Rosie what inspired her to be at the conference. And Rosie answers, "Bella Abzug." When Nia says she has no idea who that is, Rosie hands her Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom's new book, Bella Abzug, and says sternly: "You are going to write me. You understand missy? You are going to learn who Bella Abzug was and then, in about 15 years, I'm going to vote for you when you're running for office." Vintage Rosie.

And the new oral history just out from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux is vintage Bella. It makes sense that a history of this wonderfully raging feminist who a Time Out New York reviewer calls the "progressive grand dame" with just a touch of the Mommie Dearest relies on cumulative testimonial. Says lifelong friend Gloria Steinem, lovingly I am sure: “She scared the shit out of me.”

I never had a chance to meet Bella personally, but after reading this book, I feel like I have. The authors, Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom, edited scads of interviews into a "conversation." In their words:

[T]he story unfolds through anecdote, embellishment, contradiction, flashback and flash-forward, asides, commentary, speculation--as if the wide-ranging and ill-assorted cast of characters were gathered around a fireplace reminiscing about someone who stomped into their lives and left an indelible mark.

It's an interesting way to tell the story of a life. And the story revealed sheds light on many compelling personalities who shared moments in Bella's political legacy--feminist and beyond. As Levine and Thom highlight in their introduction, the book "speaks to a particularly powerful moment in which vital social movements converged in the second half of the twentieth century, every one of which featured Bella as a catalyst and creative force." It's that larger story, as much as the story of this remarkably human super-shero, that makes this book required reading for anyone seeking to learn more about an era that indelibly shaped our own.

If you don't know who Bella was, ya need this book. If you know who she was or knew her personally, you'll definitely want this book. And for those looking to take Bella Studies a step further, the Jewish Women's Archive has great material just waiting to be mined.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Calling Journalists Who Cover Family Issues!

Ok, folks, here's an award that many journalists I know would be eligible for, so please please send your nominations in! (Self-nomination is totally acceptable.)

Council on Contemporary Families 2007 Media Awards for Outstanding Coverage of Family Issues -- CALL FOR NOMINATIONS

CCF announces the opening of nominations for its Sixth Annual Media Awards competition. We honor outstanding journalism that contributes to the public understanding of contemporary family issues, in particular the story behind the story: how diverse families are coping with social and economic change ; what they need to flourish; and how these needs can best be met.

The Council will issue two awards for journalism in text form (print- or web-based) and one for broadcast journalism. The awards will be presented at the 11th Annual CCF Conference on Friday, April 25th in Chicago , Illinois

CCF believes that America needs a balanced national conversation about the cultural, legal, and psychological issues that shape both private life and public policy. Essential partners in this process are the reporters and producers who present complicated family issues in their broader social context.

Criteria: Submissions must draw on traditional journalistic techniques of interview, observation and documentation. Opinion pieces are not eligible. Work must have been published, broadcast, or posted during calendar year 2007. Video and radio submissions must not exceed 30 minutes. Written submissions must not exceed 2000 words; excerpts are acceptable. Single pieces or a series that covers a particular issue over time are eligible.

Deadline for nominations: Friday, February 8, 2008

For more info or to request a submission form, contact

LOL Funny

Check out this piece from The Onion, "Man Finally Put In Charge Of Struggling Feminist Movement." Highlights:

"All the feminist movement needed to do was bring on someone who had the balls to do something about this glass ceiling business," said McGowan, who quickly closed the 23.5 percent gender wage gap by "making a few calls to the big boys upstairs." "In the world of gender identity and empowered female sexuality, it's all about who you know."

McGowan, who was selected from a pool of roughly 150 million candidates, made eliminating sexual harassment his first priority before working on securing reproductive rights for women in all 50 states, and promoting healthy body images through an influx of strong, independent female characters in TV, magazines, and film.

"It's about time," McGowan said upon returning from a golf game with several "network honchos" in which he brokered a deal to bring a variety of women's sports to prime-time television. "These ladies should have brought me on years ago."

(Thanks to my man Marco for the heads up. Photo cred.)

Here an Appeal, There an Appeal!

So it's that time of year, and I spent last night at the Girls Write Now office writing letter to my nearest and dearest, telling them why I love GWN and that I've recently joined their Advisory Board and asking them to consider making a donation to help keep this amazing organization strong. To those of you who receive my letter, I do hope you might consider! And to those I didn't have the guts to send letters to, you can always of course simply donate by clicking here, or by doing your regular holiday shopping through here. To learn more about the org, click here. And to read some of the girls' writing, go here. To hear 'em read, click play above!

Thanks to Patti for the sticky hearts, and to Lauren for the beauty bag raffle. I love my polish I "won."

And while I'm at it, just to spread the luv, thought I'd post a link here to feministing's development campaign--they're asking for donations to help them with technological upgrades. Remember, this is the blog that just won the Blogger's Choice Award for Best Political Blog and is run largely out of pocket by some amazing young women who are changing the way we think and talk and connect around feminist issues online--and in the world.

Ho ho ho, and Happy 3rd night of Channukah to all!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Why We Need Writing Competitions in Schools

My friend and personal hero Rebecca Wallace-Segall landed an op-ed in the Nov. 28 Wall Street Journal about the value of thought-based competitions--like the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards--in schools. In contrast to, say, um, sports, writing competitions aren't valued. And they should be. Writes Rebecca, explaining the opposition and throwing in an interesting generational spin on it all:

"We don't want kids to compete individually, put themselves in vulnerable positions as individuals," explains a leading administrator. "They can compete within teams," explains another. "So the focus is on community building rather than on personal value."

But what about Sam's sense of personal value? Aren't human beings fabulously varied in their gifts and sensibilities? Excellent teamwork can be important, but is it the only admirable achievement? Should any school in the United States prevent broader acknowledgment of a young, creative mathematician?

Mel Levine, a professor at the University of North Carolina and one of the foremost authorities in the country on how children learn, believes the impact of the collaborative education movement has been devastating to an entire generation. When students are rewarded for participation rather than achievement, Dr. Levine suggests, they don't have a strong sense of what they are good at and what they're not. Thus older members of Generation Y might be in for quite a shock when they show up for work at their first jobs. "They expect to be immediate heroes and heroines. They expect a lot of feedback on a daily basis. They expect grade inflation, they expect to be told what a wonderful job they're doing," says Dr. Levine.

Rebecca founded and runs WritopiaLab, a community of young writers, ages 10-19, that revolves around a year-round afterschool writing center and intensive creative writing workshops. Every six months, participants chose to read their polished pieces at Barnes & Noble. I've been to these readings. These kids inspire.

And speaking of the Scholastic Awards, a shout out to all those girls over at Girls Write Now who won awards this summer! I'm heading to a GWN meeting tonight and can't wait to hang with everyone. I made cookies and am carrying a plate of them around today, but I can't guarantee that they're gonna last....I'm baad that way.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Do We Still Need Women's History?

Feminist historian Alice Kessler-Harris has an article provocatively titled "Do We Still Need Women's History?" running in the Chronicle of Higher Education (which I can't, ahem, read because I don't have a dang subscription). But here's a tease:

In the spring of 2007, the Organization of American Historians (the nation's premier body of professional historians, teachers, and public advocates of U.S. history) asked me to take a look at what had changed in the profession with regard to the history of women and gender over the 100-year life span of the group. My findings would...

I'm guessing Kessler-Harris' answer to the question is a resounding YES. But if any of you with subscriptions out there want to put me out of my misery, do share! Or, of course, I could just finally the bullet and subscribe :)

And speaking of Women's History of course, which I for one adamantly believe we still need, in addition to traveling with an intergenerational feminist panel alongside some of my favorite feminist colleagues, [Shameless Plug Alert] I am currently booking speaking engagements solo for March 2008 (Women's History Month) based on my book, Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild. If you are interested in bringing me to your campus or organization, please do get in touch soon, as my schedule is booking up! [Shameless Plug Ends]

New York Smells Good

Happy and Merry to each and all! Hannukah starts tonight, and I think we're about to invest in our first joint menorah. It will NOT, however, look anything like this moose menorah here.

And speaking of holidays, while walking home from a synagogue function last night, Marco and I came upon this truck full of trees. Ok, so from an eco pov, maybe it's not so cool that a forest was virtually imported on a flatbed. But it was amazing to see this truck, and I swear, it smelled soooo good, all the way home.

For those of you celebrating Hannukah tonight, may all your latkes be just the right amount of greasey, and may your candles burn long and bright!

Monday, December 3, 2007


The 2008 program for the Council on Contemporary Families Annual Conference! You heard it here first :)

April 25 – 26, 2008
Family Issues in Contention
University of Illinois at Chicago

Sessions include:

Young People Hooking Up- Should We Be Worried?
Presider: Waldo Johnson, University of Chicago
Debra Tolman, San Francisco State University
Laura Sessions, Author, Unhooked
Paula England, Stanford University

Is Transracial and Transnational Adoption the Right Policy for Parents? Children? Society?
Presider, Andrae’ Brown, City University of New York
Ruth McRoy, University of Texas at Austin;
Adam Pertman, Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
Jeanne Howard, Illinois State University;
Pamela Quiroz, University of Illinois in Chicago

Media Workshops:
How to get press coverage of your work

Virginia Rutter, Framingham State College
Joshua Coleman, Psychologist
Adam Pertman, Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

Translating academic research into popular books and magazine articles
Kerry Ann Rockquemore, University of Illinois at Chicago
Pepper Schwartz, University of Washington

Writing Op Eds

Stephanie Coontz, Evergreen State College

What you should know about Blogging and Why
Deborah Siegel, Woodhull Institute (aka ME!)

And lots more. For more info and to register, click here.

Another Reason Not to Bet on the Prince

Now here's a guide to personal finance that tells it like it is.

In the introduction to their new book, On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl's Guide to Personal Finance, Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar take the bull, so to speak, by the horns. In their words:

"Today, many women are choosing to marry alter in life or not at all. With divorce rates high, and given that women have statistically longer life spans than men, it is a basic fact of life that a high percentage of women will spend as much or more of their lives single than coupled. Therefore it's unwise to think that Prince Charming is going to swoop in to solve your financial woes. In fact, it's probably safe to assume that Prince Charming doesn't have a clue when it comes to money, even if he acts like he does."

These two savvy ladies (and Woodhull alums!) serve up oodles of insight on why so many women--and men--end up missing the boat on personal finance:

"It's not that people want to make bad financial decions--its that they never learned the basics. Personal finance is not taught in most schools, and talking about money is still taboo in many circles. Parents often assume children will pick up the basics of personal finance on their own, and many parents don't really have a grip on their own finances. As a result, millions of Americans simply do not know how to live within their means."

I, for one, certainly would have benefited from some financial 101 coming at me at an early age. As a grown-up, I've had to play catch-up--and am still playing, and often feel like I'm missing the ball. But nuf with the sports metaphors. Just trust me. This book is a homerun. (Whoops--couldn't help myself there.)

There's much more about On My Own Two Feet here. And for bonus points, check out the Economic Literacy program over at Girls Incorporated and the Financial Literacy module from Woodhull that's available through the Dove Real Women, Real Success Stories website. And pass it all on!

Indie Bride Files

OK, I promise not to bride out on you (I did that once, sort of, ahem, already), but the contemporary name game fascinates me to no end. Clearly, women my generation who marry are at a different starting point. In 1975, less than 4 percent of college-educated brides did NOT take their husband’s last name, compared to 20 percent in 2000. Most of my girlfriends have kept their last names; a few hyphenate. I may hyphenate officially, but for sure I'll remain Deborah Siegel in print. But anyway, as it turns out, according to an article appearing in the Times' Style section yesterday, there are actually consultants now who will help modern couples figure out what to do about merging their names. Interestingly, the article notes that only children (c'est moi) and family business owners may be among women perhaps most concerned with losing their lineage by tossing their name. BTW, I love the article's title: "To Be Safe, Call the Bride by Her First Name."

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Antidote to Toxic Girlhood?

The Daring Book for Girls intrigues me. As an author, I’m interested in how this book’s authors have developed their platform (that schmancy publishing industry term for everything that’s going to help a book become a phenomenon). Daring has a trailer, and a theme song. It has two brilliant authors behind it, one of whom has a Ph.D. in ancient history and religion (for all you academics out there) and both authors are savvy web entrepreneurs as well. The book follows on the heels of an already-proven bestseller. It is marketable not only to girls, but to their parents—Gen Xers like me, who were raised on Free to Be You and Me and are fed up with Princess Power. And most of all, the book’s premise is one damn good idea.

I’d be green with envy if I didn’t personally know that the authors are women of stellar intention and integrity, not to mention generosity of spirit. Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz are the women who brought the parenting blogging circle MotherTalk into being and are responsible for bringing online visibility to a number of important books on women’s issues, and scores—perhaps hundreds now—of books by women. As the MotherTalk website says, “We love what we do, and really take our books and our authors under our wings.” And so, having taken their own book under their wings, it comes as no surprise that The Daring Book has soared. It hit the bestseller list on November 11, just a few weeks after it hit the stores.

What surprises me instead—and what I find intriguing—is the jaded critical reception the book seems to have inspired in some journalistic circles. Reporters and interviewers have loved to ask, with a lofty sniff of sarcasm, “What’s so daring about this book?” In a culture as overly saturated with images of toxic girlhood as ours, they ask, what effect can a wholesome activity book that mothers (or others) and daughters are encouraged to do together possibly have overall?

These critics have got a point—but only, I would counter, to a point. The popularity of the book among girls, I might venture, speaks for itself.

And what’s the lesson here for authors? Have a “high concept” idea that comes from a place of integrity, market the hell out of it online, and offer us all some semblance of hope. That last one—and you’ll forgive me for my lack of cynicism—is key.

These authors are no sell-outs or naive patsies. When NPR Weekend Edition’s John Ysdtie asked coauthor Andrea Buchanan on the air yesterday whether childhood itself is much different today, she had this to say: “In the 1970s, children had yet to be discovered as a powerful marketing demographic. Girls are schooled, at 8 years old, to think about their bodies, and the way they look, and the clothes they wear. Because girls back then were not marketed to as they are now, it wasn't on their mind to think about these things until they were older.” Girls today are pressured to be grown-ups far sooner than we used to be. Nine is the new seventeen. There's more focus today on doing activities not for activities sake, but to get into college. Girlhood used to be different. It used to last. “Part of what we wanted to do with this book," said Buchanan, "was extend girlhood a little bit."

Buchanan and Peskowitz are not nostalgic throwbacks. They are optimists who merely ask us to give daring a chance.

Obama: The Postfeminist Man?

Regardless of which candidate you're gonna support next November, you've got to admit that to wake up and see the word "feminist" on the cover of the New York Times this morning is itself a testament of the effect Hillary's running is having on the presidential debate. I mean, this beats "soccor moms" and "security moms" hands down. The article, "Feminist Pitch by a Democrat Named Obama," suggests that the Obama campaign is "subtley marketing its candidate as a postfeminist man, a generation beyond the gender conflicts of the boomers." In other words, in the eyes of the postfeminist generation, the best candidate for women might be a man.

But the claim that younger women are less interested in Hillary than Boomer women are seems to go against what the polls are saying. As GWP readers know, I'm obsessed these days by the stats showing the generational breakdown of women's support of Hillary. I posted back in September about how polls were showing younger women supporting Hillary more than Boomer women were. Has anyone seen the recent stats on this one? I'd be curious to hear.

Photo cred.