Monday, March 31, 2008

Morning Links

Two quick links to share this morning:

A guest post I wrote with Courtney for Marci Alboher's New York Times blog, Shifting Careers, titled "Notes from an Intergenerational Conversation." Court and I chew over how generational issues are affecting women at work. We hit on topics from fashion to mentoring and "entitlement." Comments over there most welcome!

And a recap of the intergenerational feminist panel I spoke on last week at The New School, organized by Ann Snitow. (Thank you, Kristen, for that incredibly thoughtful write-up.)

Roundup: WAM! 2008 Panel Coverage

This is not a pic from a Dr. Seuss book but rather a shot of MIT's Ghery-designed Strata Center, where this weekend's Women, Action Media conference took place. In addition to my posts on the Hillary panel (here and here), I wanted to share additional highlights, for those who weren't able to attend. Some summaries, as filtered by other bloggers who were there:

Hugo Schwyzer on Helen Thomas' keynote from Friday night and on a handful of the Saturday panels--"Breaking the Frame: Revitalizing and Redefining Reproductive Rights Media Coverage," "Beating the Old Boys’ Club," and "Sex Workers and Media Representation."

Jessica Valenti at feministing on the session called "Battling Backlash: Strategies for Fighting Back, Rising Above and Making Progress"

Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon on the "Breaking the Frame" session. (I poached the photo of the Strata Center from Amanda, btw.)

I know there's a site that live-blogged the whole darn thing and if I find it, I'll let you know. If anyone finds it first, please post the url in comments. And if you were there and blogged about it, send us your links in comments as well!

GWP Institute: Where You Can Find Me...

Well, I'm back in NYC after a month of traveling for Women's History Month talks and both my cat and my fiance seem to still recognize me, so all is well. Phew! April is all about book proposal writing for me, so I will definitely be trying to practice what I preached at the session I moderated at WAM! this weekend, on Writing Book Proposals. Can't wait to read the books those in that audience are going to write one day, as I heard a ton of great ideas. Folks have been asking where I'm teaching next, so I thought I'd post the Spring workshop roster again here:

April 7 - Breaking into Anthology Writing (with me and Daphne Uviller)
MediaBistro @ NYC

April 13, 17 - Finding Your Subject, Finding Your Voice: A Seminar in Personal Nonfiction (with both me and Alissa Quart)
Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership @ NYC

April 26 – What You Should Know about Blogging and Why
Council on Contemporary Families Conference @ University of IL, Chicago

May 10 - Writing Nonfiction Book Proposals
Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership @Ancramdale (Retreat center)

June 7 – Strategic Blogging for Organizations, Women’s Centers, and Feminist Experts
National Council for Research on Women Annual Conference @New York University

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Live Blogging: Talkin' About My Generation....

Continuing where the post below left off: I asked the panel on media coverage of Hillary here at WAM! to comment on the age divide among women around the election--and how it's being framed in the MSM--and it seems to have sparked some rather heated (YAY!) conversation. Here are snippets:

-An African American woman declares herself undecided, but poignantly voices her desire to hear more about Obama's policy positions. "Inspiration, words, great. But what do you stand for?" she says.

-A young white woman speaks from the heart about her feelings about Obama, then asks, "As a feminist who is supporting Obama, what can I do to continue to combat sexism?"

-Betsy Reed (from the panel) notes, "There's a sense among older women that younger women are abandoning the cause. And younger women are saying to older women, 'You know, we have more complex political identities.' The difference in voting may be portrayed as a catfight, but it's bringing a lot to the fore. "

-Carol Hardy-Fanta brings up the troubling news of that new report about the high percentage of Obama supporters who say they will vote for McCain if Obama doesn't get the nomination.

-My Woodhull colleague Elizabeth Curtis "outs" herself as a young woman who is supporting Hillary and questions the assumption that younger women are voting for Obama and older women for Hillary without backing these statements with any research. [Note from GWP: The stats from SuperTuesday and Junior SuperTuesday do show it...] She notes the lack of coalition on the side of the Dems. And she asks the question that I think is THE question: "What we can start to do--right now-to work together to ensure that the Democrat will make it to the White House?"

-Carol Hardy-Fanta notes that there have been more Democrats coming out to vote than Republicans--twice as many, it seems. If that continues, the Dem has a chance. She calls upon us to respond to friends who make those inane "I'm going to vote for McCain" comments by calling them on it.

YESSS. And my own thoughts on this are expressed in the Washington Post oped I coauthored the other week with Courtney. If I weren't working like hell on my book proposal, I'd be tempted to write another one. But for the moment, instead, I'll just have to be satisfied with calling defectors losers.

Live Blogging: Cleavage, Cackles, and Cookies

I HEART WAM! And it's been such a pleasure to meet bloggers--Jill and Holly from Feministe, Amanda from Pandagon, Hugo Schwyzer--and many other folks I've long admired. Always grateful to make connections new and old. I've finally dragged my computer out and am live blogging here from the final session, "Cleavage, Cackles and Cookies: Analysis of News Coverage of Hillary Clinon and the Presidental Election." So here we go:

Allison Stevens of Women's eNews is moderating and offers out the following statistics, via a recently released report from The Center for Media and Public Affairs (a non-partisan org that tracks coverage):

84% of on-air comments about Obama have been positive
43% of on-air comments about Clinton have been positive

What gives?

Barbara Lee, social activist and philanthropist, frames the convo with a look at the difficulty women governors--her expertise--have in getting elected. She notes that voters give female governors high marks. Once voters have seen women governors in action, they LIKE them. But it's the getting elected part that's hard. Voters have doubts about whether women are capable of leading at the highest levels. They must be perceived as both competent and likeable--not an easy feat. There's also "hair, hemlines, and husband" phenomenon--everything about a woman candidate has to be just right. Once in office, female govs exceed and redefine voter expectation. But here's the upside: The higher standards are producing women governors who excel in the eyes of the voters. And while voters demand more from women, they also give them great credit.

On Hillary, Barbara restates the obvious:

"The media coverage--particularly cable tv pundits and talk show hosts--has been maddening. Rarely, has the historic nature of her campaign been celebrated. Rather, it's been demeaned."

Carol Hardy-Fanta, Director of UMAss Boston's Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, reruns clips of the news coverage of Cleavagegate and Hillary's Cackle, calling attention to the throughlines. A thought: News stories about Al Gore's sigh, John Edwards' hair, and Hillary's cackle--initiated at Republican headquarters?

Since Cookiegate back in 1992, Hillary has had to straddle different and changing ideas about women. Back then, the break with the past was seismic. Until Carter's campaign, Presidents' wives didn't sit in on Cabinet meetings. Hillary was the first President's wife who came from having a major career. She was trapped between an outdated past and an uncharted future. Since then, she's faced all sorts of double standards. Most recently, she's been accused of using a "mommy strategy" to soften her image.

Additional obstacles include this: Since 9/11, citizens willingness to vote for a qualified woman candidate for Prez has actually decreased.

Betsy Reed, Executive Editor at The Nation, refers to the "tsunami of misogyny" we've seen--it's a "breathtaking amount of venom." According to the race playbook and the gender playbook, blacks are seen as traitors, while women are seen as weak. Betsy also addresses ways that Hillary's gender and Obama's race have helped them in their campaigns.

Alison asks: What does this campaign mean to future female candidates and future candidates who are people of color?

Carol Hardy-Fanta: "Hillary started off as the one to beat. She had name-recognition, money, the establishment, and a popular former President behind her. She had the 'unassailable lead.' She was the first woman who had wiped away the large structural barriers to a woman becoming a nominee. She made some mistakes, but compared to John McCain's mistakes? If Hillary can't even get the nomination, I don't think we'll see another woman run and win until my daughter is a grandparent. And what of the fact that Reverend Wright gets so scrutinized while McCain gets a free pass on Pat Roberston endorsing him?"

Betsy Reed: "It's unfortunate that Obama has not been able to call out the sexism that Hillary has experienced. He hasn't called out some of the racism that he's experienced. It's as if the very accusation is suspect somehow. We need to figure out a better way of talking about these things, and waging protest when appropriate."

Ok, off to ask a question for the panel, so am signing off for now....

(Image cred)

Friday, March 28, 2008

See You at WAM!

I'm headed off to the Women Action Media Conference in Cambridge today, sponsored by the Center for New Words and the MIT Program in Women's Studies. On Saturday afternoon (2-3pm), I'm heading up a panel--"Writing a Book Proposal that Sells"--with my partner-in-crime Courtney and two amazing editors: Amy Caldwell, Executive Editor at Beacon Press, and Laura Mazer, an editor, journalist, and book consultant who has worked with publishers including Seal Press, Counterpoint Books, Soft Skull Press, Avalon Publishing Group, and Random House. Here's the description:

Activists, advocates, and savvy writers everywhere have the opportunity to frame public debate about the complex forces shaping the lives of women and girls. Writing a “trade” book is one way to enter public debate and reach an audience far outside social justice movement worlds alone. This session brings together published book authors with editors at houses that publish feminist work. Panelists will discuss ways to shape a media career, the importance of finding your right subject, components of a successful book proposal, why marketing is everything, and the role of agents. Participants will learn why it’s essential to think about audience and “platform” and explore ways to use new media to garner visibility for their work well before your book hits the shelves.

If there, come join us!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sex, Cupcakes, and Martha Stewart--Oh My!

This just in: Rachel Kramer Bussell, along with her fellow Cupcakes Take the Cake bloggers, will be appearing on The Martha Stewart Show this coming Monday, March 31st, to kick off Cupcake Week on the show. As Rachel notes, that's not (yet) a national holiday. They're on at the top of the hour (1 pm ET on NBC). Click here for local listings.

Now, I'm just waiting for the moment Rachel, who also blogs at LustyLady and edits these amazing sex anthologies, slips sex toys into the conversation with Martha.

Rachel also just passed along a great link to me--an article by Violet Blue about how women are treated online, over at SFGate. Read it and weep. And then, go eat a big fat cupcake. For reals.

Defection Is for Losers

I'm in Easton, PA, watching campaign ads from my hotel room and feeling ill as I digest the latest news about the allegedly high percentage of Democratic voters who say they'll "defect" and vote for McCain if their prefered Dem doesn't win the nomination. PEOPLE, WAKE UP! I think I want to write another op-ed. (Paging Courtney--copy that?!)

I wish all those Dems who feel this way could have been at the dinner I attended with a group of Lafayette College students before my talk here last night. Most seemed to be Obama supporters, save me and one other student (go Abra!), but we all shared the fantasy of the Dream Ticket--Hillary and Barack, both. The passionate dinner table conversation, and a later exchange with Kimberly, a staff member here who was moved to drive up to New Hampshire to campaign for Obama door-to-door, put me in direct touch once again with the incredible energy and awakening among young people that Obama has set in motion.

To any post-college-age Democrat who feel "defecting" is an appropriate response, I have this to say: Defection is nothing but sore loserdom, with the emphasis on LOSER. Before you defect, please think about the message you are sending to a generation newly engaged.

(Image cred)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Zen Moment

I interrupt this blog to bring you a calming image, courtesy of my dude, Marco. Ahhh. I'm taking these zen moments wherever I can find them these days. If anyone's got one to share, email me, and I'll post it!

TOUR NOTES: New School on Thursday!

I'm telling ya, I'm in intergenerational feminist heaven this month. For those of you in NYC looking for a way to honor Women's History Month, I hope you'll consider coming out for this one, here at my home base!

Feminist Generations/Feminist Locations: The Continuing Vitality of Feminist Thought and Action

New School for Social Research
66 WEST 12TH ST., ROOM 407
6:30-8 PM

Quick recap: I'll be joining Ai-Jen Poo (Domestic Workers United), Meredith Tax (a founder of Bread & Roses - 1969), Cleopatra Lamothe (Women of Color Collective, Lang College), and Erica Reade (Moxie, Lang College Feminist Club), and Ann Snitow, coeditor of The Feminist Memoir Project and a founder of New York Radical Feminists -- the group that brought us the Miss America Protest that put women's liberation on the map, and so much more. The panel, will take on the state of feminism across generations. Joining me will be:

For more info, please contact Soraya Field Fiorio,

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pix from the Road

Here's a shot of yesterday's intergenerational panel at SUNY-New Paltz--Amy Kesselman, Elizabeth Gross, me, and Heather Hewett, who graciously organized us all.

It was humbling to share the stage with Amy, a second-wave radical feminist/now historian, who shared a number of zingers herself, including: "Coming out of the 1950s, everything looks like progress." Amy is currently working on the history of women's liberation movement in New Haven and I can't wait to read what she has found. Elizabeth--a very savvy sophomore who turned 20 yesterday and who heads up the only feminist group on campus, the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance--spoke beautifully from her heart. (Welcome to the 20s, Elizabeth! The 30s get even better!) We talked a lot about forms of social activism, current attitudes toward political engagement, what issues we'd fight for, and what "the personal is political" still means to women of different ages. And we talked about the role feminism plays in our life. Amy has written how "Feminism saved my life." I talked about how "feminism launched my life." And in Elizabeth's words, "Feminism is me." I've asked Elizabeth to do a guest post here on GWP, and she has agreed. Coming soon!

That pic to the right is the WomenGirlsLadies gang of 4 signing books at Eastern Michigan University last week. Our blog, offering "a FRESH conversation about feminism across generations" is now in full swing, over at: Please do visit us over there and join the convo if so inclined!

Monday, March 24, 2008

TOUR NOTES: PA on Wednesday!

On March 26: 7:30 p.m., I'll be giving a talk at Lafayette College on....Sisterhood Interrupted! (How much fun is this Women's History Month? I wish EVERY month could be Women's History Month! Who do we petition?)

LOCATION: Kirby Hall of Civil Rights, Room 104. Co-sponsored by Office of Intercultural Development and Women’s and Gender Studies program. Come one, come all!

(I'll be in New Paltz today.)

EVENT: Fear of Flying at 35

If this isn't the coolest sounding conference: "Fear of Flying: Can a Feminist Classic Be a Classic?" On March 28, Columbia University will host a half-day conference at which speakers will revisit Erica Jong’s novel, assess the status of women’s writing and feminism in today’s literary scene, and suss out the possibilities of subversion open to contemporary young women writers. I'll be at WAM!, or else I'd be here.

For those in need of a refresher, 35 years ago Erica Jong's first novel, Fear of Flying, broke from conventional expectations and freed other women writers to write intelligently and openly about sex. It became an international bestseller. ("Zipless fuck" anyone?)

So Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library acquired a large collection of Erica Jong’s archival material in 2007. And so the Rare Book & Manuscript Library will join the Columbia University Institute for Research on Women and Gender and the Center for Research on Women at Barnard College as sponsors. I love it.

Speakers include novelists Min Jin Lee, author of the national bestseller Free Food for Millionaires; Aoibheann Sweeney, author of Among Other Things I’ve Taken Up Smoking; literary and cultural critics Nancy K. Miller, Distinguished Professor, Comparative Literature and English, at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and author of But Enough About Me: Let Me Tell You About My Memoir; Susan Rubin Suleiman, C. Douglas Dillon Professor of the Civilization of France and a professor of comparative literature at Harvard, and author of Subversive Intent: Gender, Politics and the Avant-Garde; Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Director of American Studies, Stanford University, and author of From Fact to Fiction: Journalism and Imaginative Writing in America; and journalist Rebecca Traister, staff writer for and a founding contributor to Broadsheet. The afternoon will culminate in a conversation between Erica Jong and Columbia professor and novelist Jenny Davidson, author of Breeding. “Fear of Flying: Can a Feminist Classic be a Classic?” is open to the public and will be held at the Social Hall, Columbia University Union Theological Seminary, 3041 Broadway at 121st Street, in New York City, from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. A reception will follow.

CFP: Anthology on Reproductive Justice

Reproductive Justice: "the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social, and economic well-being of women and girls, based on the full achievement and protection of women's human rights" (source: Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice)

SisterSong is putting together a special anthology on Reproductive Justice and is currently accepting submissions for consideration. Submit poetry, art, and manuscripts that have not been previously published, especially work by young writers, to

Guidelines for submission are available at Submissions should include: 1) a completed cover page with identifying information (please remove all headers, footers, notes, and bibliographic entries from manuscript that might identify the authors); 2) three (3) copies of the manuscript formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style (14th edition) and printed on standard U.S. paper (8 1/2 x 11); and 3) three (3) copies of an abstract.
DEADLINE for submissions is no later than June 1st, 2008.

Sistersong adds: "We understand that submitting a manuscript can be a daunting and often intimidating process. We would like to extend our help in putting together your contribution for this anthology. If you have an idea, a sketch of ideas, or a rough draft for consideration please feel free to contact any one of us so that we can help you through the process. For questions about your submission, please contact one of the co-editors below." Send submissions to one of the following addresses:

Lynn Roberts, PhD, Co-Editor Or Loretta Ross, Co-Editor
Urban Public Health Program SisterSong Women of Color
Hunter College of the Reproductive Health Collective
City University of New York 1237 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., SW
425 East 25th Street, Box 766 Atlanta, GA 30310
New York, NY 10010 (404) 756-2680
(212) 481-5110 (404) 756-2684 fax
(212) 481-5260 fax

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Snow Bunny

This is my very young friend Charlie Zachar, checking out his Easter basket in my sweet hometown Chicago. Couldn't resist!

EVENT: BUST Fundraiser

On April 14 BUST Magazine will be throwing “The Hysterical Festival Fundraiser”, at Comix Comedy Club, 353 W 14 St (9th Ave) @ 8PM. The cost is $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Buy tix here.

The event will include performances by:

Heather Lawless (Be Kind Rewind, Variety SHAC, HBO's Flight of the Conchords)
Mel and El (New York Musical Theatre Festival Concert Series at Ars Nova)
Rachel Feinstein (Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend”, Montreal Just for Laughs Festival)
Bridget Everett (At Least It's Pink at Ars Nova)
Adira Amram (Upright Citizens Brigade, Jane Magazine)
Ophira Eisenberg (Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend”, US Weekly Fashion Police, VH1)

For media inquiries, contact Hillary Buckholtz at: 301-806-5519 or email

Friday, March 21, 2008

TOUR NOTES: SUNY-New Paltz on Monday

Join me, if nearby, for: "The Personal and the Political: Three Generations of Feminism,” an intergenerational panel co-sponsored by the Women’s Studies Program, the History Department, and FMLA.

Monday, March 24, 2008, 5:00-7:00pm, Honors Center, College Hall

Here's the description:

How have feminists across generations understood the relationship between personal transformation and political activism? What tensions and insights surface from the intersections of personal life and social change? What visions and projects do women share across generations? How is our understanding of the second and third waves of feminism evolving, and what is feminism’s future? Come join three generations of feminists in a discussion about the relationship between personal life and political activism during the last fifty years of the women’s movement!

The panel will feature writer Deborah Siegel, Ph.D., author of Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild (Palgrave Macmillan 2007). Siegel is at the forefront of reexamining the feminist movement and the ways in which younger women are reinventing feminism. [WOW! THAT'S SO NICE OF THEM TO SAY! -A HUMBLED GWP] Contrary to those who have proclaimed the women’s movement dead, or too divided between older and younger generations, Siegel has brought attention to the continuities that cross generational lines. In Sisterhood, Interrupted, Siegel examines how the relationship between individual change and collective action has emerged as a recurring theme for both the second and third waves of feminism. Siegel will be joined by Amy Kesselman, Professor of Women’s Studies at SUNY New Paltz, a historian of second-wave feminism, and one of the founders of the women’s liberation movement of the late 1960’s. Our third panelist, Elizabeth Gross, president of the SUNY New Paltz chapter of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, will join them in what we hope will be a lively discussion that brings together intellectual inquiry, personal reflection and intergenerational understanding.

A bizillion thanks to the hard-working and brilliant Heather Hewett for making this happen. I'm really excited--I write about Amy Kesselman in my book. It's truly humbling to be on panels with these women, and I'm totally looking forward to meeting Elizabeth, and to the conversation.

COMING SOON: Regular Monthly Guest Bloggers on GWP

Thrilled to announce that a handful of previous GWP guest posters will soon be guest blogging on a regular monthly basis over here. The regulars will include the venerable young'un of WomenGirlsLadies, Courtney Martin, and my feminist dude Marco Acevedo. If you're interested in being a monthly guest blogger (Virginia? Rebecca? Cathy? Heather? Elizabeth? Jackie? Mel? Elline? Others?), please contact me and we'll go from there!

New Coffeetable Book on Women's History

When I came home from Michigan this week, a beautiful book--a gift from a publisher in hope of a review--awaited me, to my surprise. It's called HER STORY: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America, by Charlotte S. Waisman and Jill S. Tietjen, and it's coming out in April. A rockin Mother's Day gift for sure.

An illustrated timeline featuring the lives of almost 900 women, with color photos and brief summaries highlighting their achievements, the book highlights women you expect and women you don't. "Sometimes we chose a woman because her influence and values touched a great number of people; sometimes we picked her because of the reverberations of her accomplishment." Madeleine Albright wrote the foreword. Thank you, HarperCollins, for sending. I covet this book. I tell you, blogging has its perks.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

TOUR NOTES: Gloria and Courtney in Action at CMU

Gorgeous shot of Gloria asking Courtney a tough question about women's voting power on our panel this week! Lindsay Knake of the Central Michigan Life newspaper wrote a great article about the event (though please note that I said "economic opportunities"; not sure what "racial opportunities," as the reporter writes, actually means!) The piece begins:
Writer Deborah Siegel and the other panelists of "WomenGirlsLadies" are looking to change the way people view feminism.
And as Courtney notes over at our group blog (WomenGirlsLadies), "Knake's article was a great improvement over the pre-event coverage which lead with the cringe-worthy: 'Students can take part in a university-sponsored 'girl talk' tonight.' Pass the nail polish and don't you dare freeze my underwear girlies!"

But seriously, a thousand thanks to everyone at CMU, especially Jill Taft-Kaufman who made it all happen. It was an absolute pleasure! We'll soon have a podcast version of the panel, and I promise to post it when we do.

EVENT: Women Authors Talk Feminism & Activism

Tonight at 6:30PM, the National Organization for Women-New York City Service Fund is hosting an evening of authors, activism, and feminism. Join a great group of women writers as they "discuss their unique contributions of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction work and the ways in which it inspires, mobilizes, and sparks debate on today's pressing issues." Featuring:

Felice Belle - Poet, Playwright, Former Curator and Host of the Friday Night Slam series at the Nuyorican Poets Café, and author of poetry for the play History of the Word

Courtney Martin - Reporter, Professor on Gender Issues, and Author of
Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters

Sofia Quintero - Screenwriter, Activist, and Author of Divas Don't Yield

Hosted by Revolution Books
9 West 19th Street (btw. 5th & 6th)
Take the 4, 5,6, N, R,Q, W, to 14th Street Union Square
Or Take F to 14th Street and 6th Ave

Please RSVP 212.627.9895

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Words from a Female Marine

Girl Sailor has recently posted an AMAZING series of narrative pieces by a female midshipman, Cpl Laura B. Ramsey, who was deployed in Iraq before coming to the Naval Academy. She wrote the pieces for a dramatic monologue show being put on earlier this month in the Naval Academy's English Department, called "Forward Deployed." Check out her poignant and amazingly crafted accounts: "Wadi Road," "Nail Polish and Boots," "Sweet Face and Bitter Future," and "My Relief."

(The author wishes to share the following disclaimer: "[These] pieces are true accounts of Cpl Laura B. Ramsey, USMC, while deployed to the Al Anbar Province of Iraq from January to June of 2006. They are not meant to harm, offend, or acts thereof any audience that may hear or read them. These experiences are simply informative first-hand accounts of a female Marine.-Laura B. Ramsey.")

Unhappy Fifth Anniversary of the Iraq War

Well, it's five years and counting and what is there to say.


Sara Gould of the Ms. Foundation, for one, has a great oped up at the org's blog which begins with a good ole Albert Einstein quote: "The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them." Yesss.

Over at Women's eNews, there's an interesting piece offering a women's perspective on military service and its aftermath. One returning female vet offers advice to the next commander in chief: "I would request that they limit deployments and the time you have between deployments....That is really hurting morale."

And MOMocrats are stirring it up today too. (Thanks, Joanne, for the heads up!)

Just in case anyone's craving a refresher, here's a lovely timeline of what's gone down since we invaded. On Jan. 9, the World Health Organization estimated that the actual number of Iraqi civilian deaths due to the war lo these past 5 years is at 151,000. What'cha going to do about it, George, tough guy, huh? Man.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Intergenerational Feminist Roadshow Continues

Well, Courtney rather beautifully summed up our travel misadventures yesterday and I got nothin' to add. Except that I think I may soon be offering seminars in the Siegel Slip, as I am more than happy to share my line-busting, rule-breaking tips for the good of well-behavin women waiting unnecessarily in lines at airports across the land. Oh--one more thing. Miss Courtney, tomorrow, *I* call the cute black sweater dress and boots.

Thank goodness our travel misadventures nevertheless got us to Mt. Pleasant this morning, because I loved loved loved our visit to Central Michigan University. The students we spoke to today are amazing, and inspire me. During the day, Gloria and I talked to a group of Honors students about the pressures facing "academically gifted" women, while Kristal and Courtney spoke to a journalism class. After the big evening panel, we asked the audience to fill out forms telling us what they, as younger women, would like to say to older women, and vice versa. And we asked the men in the audience to tell us what they think about feminism, or what they'd like women to hear from them. We'll be posting some of the responses here, and my copanelists will be coposting at their various blogs as well. The responses are just too darn good not to coshare.

For more on today, here's the take from our resident young'un over at feministing. And do check out another intergenerational conversation Miss Courtney is participating in--about the election--over on Jewcy, along with Wendy Shanker and Bitch PhD.

(Heads up Kristal and Gloria: I think Courtney may be intergenerationally cheating on us over there!)

TOUR NOTES: I'm in Mt. Pleasant, MI!

Yep, I'm here. If you are too, please come by tonight: "Womengirlsladies: A Fresh Conversation Across Generations" will be on at 7:30 pm, Mount Pleasant, MI 989-774-4000. More info: Central Michigan University.

You know, I think my college roommate lived on a farm nearby, close to Lansing. I remember coming home with her one weekend and riding her family's tractor. It was a true highlight of freshman year for this suburban/city girl. I know you don't really ride a tractor, you drive it. But it sure felt like a ride to me.

Is Spitzergate a New "Anita Hill"?

I found it interesting that in this weekend's NYTimes article "Postfeminism and Other Fairy Tales", Deborah Tannen compares the Spitzergate moment with Anita Hill, and twentysomething Slate blogger Noreen Malone says that for her, an Obama supporter, the Spitzer moment trumped the tearful moment in bringing her to a slightly different point of view. “Oddly enough it’s taken Spitzergate — not Hillary’s tears, not her scolding — to make me less dismissive of the feminist ‘obligation’ to vote for a woman,” says Malone.

So much going on in these comparisons, and if I weren't bleary eyed (or, as Courtney puts it, "feeling like a crackhead") from the past 24 hours of planes, trains, and automobiles, I'm sure I'd have something more to say about it all. Perhaps GWP readers can help me out. What do you think of the comparison between Anita Hill and Spitzergate as rallying moments for feminism?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Transgender Youth & Feminism in NYTimes Magazine

Just a quick one this morning--had to share this article by Alissa Quart, appearing in tomorrow's NYTimes Magazine, called "When Girls Will Be Boys."

Alissa takes an extremely sympathetic look at gender-nonconforming teens -- one of the first major articles on transfeminism I've seen, perhaps the only one in such a MSM venue.

Friday, March 14, 2008

I'm in Boston Today!

And I feel like a kid in a candy store. Having never gone to journalism school, this conference I'm at is like a speed education. Will report more Monday, when I head to Michigan for WomenGirlsLadies speaking engagements.

Speaking of, if in Michigan next week, do come say hi:

Central Michigan University, Monday, March 17, 7:30 pm, Mount Pleasant, MI 989-774-4000

Eastern Michigan University, Tuesday, March 18, 7:00 pm, Ypsilanti, MI 734-487-1849

Wishing everyone a happy Friday, and a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What's the Matter with Kansas?

I have to say, traveling to Kansas City this week was an eye opener. I learned many things, among them this: In Kansas, nutso Fred Phelps (head of Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church) is still spearheading protests at the funerals of fallen soldiers across the country, saying that their deaths are "divine retribution" for U.S. tolerance of homosexuality.

Sorry Fred, we're just not seeing the connection.

Kansas legislators are trying to pass a law that would ban protests within 150 feet of a funeral for one hour before and two hours after a service. And here I thought, with all the hoopla around Spitzer, that we had problems in NYC.

Election Watch: We're Getting Punchy Edition

In this week's Newsweek cover package ("Hear Her Roar: Gender, Class, and Hillary Clinton), Tina Brown reports on the euphoria at the Columbus Anthanaeum when the primary results for Ohio started coming in: "They were raising the roof along with the band to the old 1965 McCoys hit 'Hang on Sloopy.'" A number of other women writers weigh in with their observations, punditry, and advice. Two zingers that struck me as funny:

Kathleen Deveny on being fed up with ambient sexism and friends who refer to Hillary as a scold: "[F]orgive me if I'm feeling a little shrewish myself these days. From now on, if you want to call the first woman to win a Democratic primary a bitch in front of me, you'd better be Tina Fey."

Advice from Monica Crowley, a McCain supporter: "Clinton should...reach out to Obama's core constituencies--black voters, the young, higher earners, and those with college degrees. Her message: 'I forgive your fliration with the Hope Guy, but now it's time to come home to Mommy.'"

Interesting little sidenote: the "My Turn" essay in this particular issue is by male ballet dancer"Sascha Radetsky and is called alled "Don't Judge Me By My Tights."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hello from the airport!

So I return from my traveling bubble to find headlines here ablaze, of course, with Eliot Spitzer (why can't these powerful men just keep it in their pants?) and Geraldline Ferraro's comments about Barack Obama (why oh why). Meanwhile, The Guardian reports this morning that for the first time, the four key members of the Treasury committee that is working with chancellor Alistair Darling to shape the budget are women. The article begins with a cutesy little zinger:

"After Blair's babes, meet Darling's darlings."

Guess the US ain't the only one with issues around women taking charge. You'd think they'd be used to it, with all those queens. The rest of the piece is great, but why must we start with babes and darlings, I ask. Sigh. I was really enjoying my temporary news blackout yesterday.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

TOUR NOTES: I'm in Missouri Today

Yep, I'm in the Show Me State today, back in my native Midwest. I'm giving a talk tonight ("Who Framed Feminism? Popularizing Rhetorics Across Generations") at 7pm at Pierson Auditorium at the UMKC University Center. If anywhere nearby and in the mood for feminism tonight, come out and say hi! I'm also doing a "Making It Pop: Translating Your Research for Trade" workshop from 2-4pm in the Alumni Room over there.

Loved meeting one of my hosts last night, Kathy Krause, along with faculty members Jane Greer in English and Jenny in Psychology. And Kansas City is my new favorite town. Who knew?! Well, the folks who live here certainly do.

Meanwhile, I've been reading up on what's going on in the state, feministically speaking, and found this little gem, via my beloved feministing of course: "The Missouri legislature wants to reclassify mifepristone -- the drug used in medical abortions -- as a Schedule I controlled substance, a classification for drugs with 'a high potential for abuse and no medicinal value.'" Oh dear. Read more over at Ms.

Wacky Antifeminist Weed--The IWF Responds

The Independent Women's Forum finally responds to that woman-hating oped by Charlotte Allen that ran in The Washington Post. (Allen was later ID-ed by Katha Pollitt in her lively takedown as associated with the IWF; she used to work there.) Writes IWF's Carrie Lukas:
I agree with the critiques that she took it too far (and lost me on the humor), particularly with the ending: "Then we could shriek and swoon and gossip and read chick lit to our hearts' content and not mind the fact that way down deep, we are . . . kind of dim."
Allen responded to the furious response to her piece in a live question-and-answer session at the Post, and feministing posted some highlights. I loved the questions, including this one:
"Can I have some of whatever wacky antifeminist week that you're smoking?"
Hehe. Sing it sister.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sex, Lies, and the Gender Gap?

In case you missed it, Emily Bazelton offers a reality check in "Hormones, Genes and the Corner Office," her NYTimes review of Susan Pinker's new book, The Sexual Paradox: Men, Women, and the Real Gender Gap. Bazelton begins with the question: "Why do girls on average lead boys for all their years in the classroom, only to fall behind in the workplace? Do girls grow up and lose their edge, while boys mature and gain theirs?" She goes on to critique Pinker's answer--which, basically, sounds like a version of biological difference feminism. Some snippets from Bazelton's review:
Because of their biological makeup, [Pinker] argues, most women want to limit the amount of time they spend at work and to find “inherent meaning” there, as opposed to domination. “Both conflict with making lots of money and rising through the ranks,” she points out. Pinker is surely right to contest what she calls the “vanilla male model” of success — “that women should want what men want and be heartily encouraged to choose it 50 percent of the time.” Or that when employers say jump, employees should always say how high. Even as they work fewer hours for less status and less money, on average, more women report that they are satisfied with their careers. Maybe men might well think the same if more of them felt they could cut back. But Pinker’s difference feminism doesn’t really allow for that possibility. She is a believer: “The puzzle is why the idea of sex differences continues to be so controversial,” she writes.
Bazelton concludes that "In her zeal, Pinker veers to the onesided." To wit:
She doesn’t acknowledge that some of the research cited in her footnotes is either highly questionable as social science (Louise Story’s 2005 article in The New York Times, for instance, about her survey of Ivy League women’s aspirations)....Pinker omits the work of scientists who have shown that sex-based brain differences pale in comparison to similarities. We shouldn’t wish the role of sex differences away because they’re at odds with feminist dogma. But that doesn’t mean we should settle for the reductionist version of the relevant science, even if the complexity doesn’t make for as neat a package between hard covers.
Ah yes, that old bugaboo called EVIDENCE. Of course, since I'm a junkie for pop writing on sex and feminism, and since Pinker uses the word "Extreme Men" and I'm dying to know what she means by the term, I'll find my way to this book and will let you know if I agree with Bazelton's take, or if there's more there of interest from which we can learn. But on many levels, it sounds like one those looking for fact-based analysis might veer elsewhere.

An endorsement from Christina Hoff Sommers kind of confirms it for me. Sommers lauds the book thusly:

"Susan Pinker's The Sexual Paradox is meticulously researched, brilliantly argued and thoroughly persuasive. It moves the debate over sex differences to a new level of sophistication." -- Christina Hoff Sommers, author of Who Stole Feminism? and The War Against Boys

Oh boy.

GWP INSTITUTE: Spring Workshops

While I'm on it, thought I'd post an updated list of where I'll be giving workshops, too. Thanks, as always, for spreading word! And hope to see some of you there, soon!

As always, there a full listing available at:

March 28-29 – Writing a Book Proposal That Sells
Women and Media (WAM!) Conference
Cambridge, MA
More info:

April 7 - Breaking into Anthology Writing
More info:

April 13, 17 - Finding Your Subject, Finding Your Voice: A Seminar in Personal Nonfiction
Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership
More info:

April 25-26 – What You Should Know about Blogging and Why
Council on Contemporary Families Conference
University of IL, Chicago
More info:

Intergen Interpol Hits the Road

I've been really moved reading the comments and emails posted in response to Courtney and my oped ("Come Together? Yes We Can") in The Washington Post yesterday--everything from "This primary fight is breaking my heart" to " I am so glad to read what I have been thinking," and even the occasional "WTF" and "dream on," as it puts me in touch with the various perspectives out there and gives me a sense of what we (as in we Dems) are up against.

The same week our oped appeared, an essay by Jessica Valenti titled "The Sisterhood Split" appeared in The Nation, and Gloria Feldt responded over at Heartfeldt, "What's That about a Sisterhood Split?" For more, see also an article by Jennifer Wells in The Globe and Mail, "Battle Lines Harden on the Gender Front".

Clearly, there's a hunger for discussion! Gloria, Courtney, Kristal Brent Zook, and I are taking the conversation on the road this month with what I've been tongue-in-cheek calling the intergenerational feminist roadshow (otherwise known as "WomenGirlsLadies: A FRESH Conversation Across Generations"*). There's one event in there (March 14 @ Eastern Michigan University) where Courtney and I can't make it, and we're delighted and honored to have Hannah Seligson and Paula Kamen speaking in our stead.

I'm posting our March events below, along with talks I'm giving on Sisterhood Interrupted this month too. A thousand thanks for spreading word, and def come say hi if you're there!

March 11 @ University of Missouri, Kansas City (Sisterhood, Interrupted)

March 14 @ Eastern Michigan University (WomenGirlsLadies)

March 17 @ Central Michigan University (WomenGirlsLadies)

March 18 @ Eastern Michigan University, Central Michigan University (WomenGirlsLadies)

March 26 @ Lafayette College, PA (Sisterhood, Interrupted)

March 27 @ New School (Feminist Generations/Feminist Locations with Ann Snitow, Meredith Tax, me, Cleopatra Lamothe, and Ercia Reade)

April 18 @ Harvard University (WomenGirlsLadies)

*WomenGirlsLadies will be booking throughout 2008. To book an engagement, please contact Taryn Kutujian at

Sunday, March 9, 2008

EVENT: Intergenerational Panel at the New School

When Ann Snitow calls, I jump. And so, I of course said YES to participating on a panel at The New School in celebration of Women's History Month. Ann is coeditor of The Feminist Memoir Project and a founder of New York Radical Feminists (circa 1969), the group that brought us the Miss America Protest that put women's liberation on the map, and so much more. The panel, "Feminist Generations/Feminist Locations: The Continuing Vitality of Feminist Thought and Action," will take on the state of feminism across generations. Joining me will be:

AI-JEN POO of Domestic Workers United
MEREDITH TAX of Women’s World
(a founder of Boston’s Bread & Roses – 1969)
ANN SNITOW of Eugene Lang College and New School
(a founder of New York Radical Feminists – 1969)
CLEOPATRA LAMOTHE of Women of Color Collective, Lang
ERICA READE of Moxie, Lang College Feminist Club

When and where, you ask?

66 WEST 12TH ST., ROOM 407
6:30-8 PM

For more info, please contact Soraya Field Fiorio,

Saturday, March 8, 2008

CFP: Race, Gender, and Media in the 2008 Elections

Many democracies--the United Kingdom, Argentina, India, Israel, the Philippines, Pakistan, Liberia, France, and Jamaica, to name a few--have or have had women heads of state, and other countries--oh, like Peru and Bolivia--have elected presidents who are members of racial minority groups. Not so much here in the US of A, which is why, of course, it is rightly Such a Friggin Huge Deal. And the scholars are rightly getting busy.

On September 26-27, 2008, the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John's University School of Law will hold a symposium entitled Making History: Race, Gender and the Media in the 2008 Elections at their Queens campus to explore it all. They're inviting proposals from scholars from all relevant disciplines (law, media, political science, gender studies, race studies, ethnic studies, sociology, economics, history) and activists engaged in "developing concepts, analyses, methods, or data relevant to race, gender, media and elections." Any takers? The deadline for submissions is March 14, 2008. More info available here.

Quick--pass it on!

Come Together? Yes We Can.

My oped with Courtney is live, in The Washington Post! Here tis: "Come Together? Yes We Can."

Courtney and My OpEd in WaPo Tomorrow!

This week Miss Courtney Martin and I penned a joint rebuttal, of sorts, to dear Charlotte Allen's oped and to other divisive pieces by women about divides among us around this election of late. And it's going to appear in Sunday's WaPo, in the Outlook section. Please visit, leave comments, and let us know what you think!

My first national oped was placed with the help of Kathy Vermazen at the Women's Media Center, and my dear friend Heather Hewett, who shared a contact with me. Thank you, ladies! Needless to say, Courtney and I are damn ridiculously thrilled.

Friday, March 7, 2008

10,000 Women: A Goldman Sachs Initiative

Incredibly exciting news this week from Goldman Sachs, via Purse Pundit, who was summoned to a press conference last week and told only that the announcement would make her proud. She writes:
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, took center stage to tell us why we had been summoned. Goldman Sachs was announcing a brand new initiative that “will provide 10,000 under-served women, predominantly in developing and emerging markets, with a business and management education.” Why? Because he, they, Goldman Sachs, the firm that gave me my start in the business, the firm I worked with for fourteen years and gave me the honor of being a partner, had come to believe that the way to change the world for the better was to economically empower women. Here they were making a considerable and creative commitment to do just that. Damn right that was "right up by alley.” I was floored.
Also check out Purse Pundit's call to Goldman to hook up with key experts within the women's movement to help provide direction. And a joint post she and I wrote for HuffPo about it, here.

Only Child On the Air

A radio interview Daph and I did for the launch of the paperback of Only Child is now available online--the producer says it'll be there for perpetuity. Here tis.

Questionable Categories: SAHM v. "Working" Mom

Just a quickie this morning. This just came to me via Laura from Catalyst--thanks, L!

A nice summary of an interesting sounding article, "Locating Mothers: How Cultural Debates About Stay-at-Home Versus Working Mothers Define Women and Home" by Heather Dillaway ( and Elizabeth Paré:

Most women must decide whether to work for pay while mothering or make mothering their sole social role. Often this decision is portrayed in terms of whether they will be "stay-at-home" and presumably "full-time" mothers, or "working mothers" and therefore ones who prioritize paid work over caregiving. Inferred within this construction is women's physical location as well—either women are at home or work, not both. In this article, the authors explore common conceptualizations of stay-at-home versus working motherhood, as evidenced by feminist family scholarship and recent media items. To keep in tune with contemporary media conversations, the authors begin to investigate what cultural discourse about these mothers also illustrates about our definitions of home, and the individuals and activities that exist within this space. In writing this conceptual piece, the authors' goal is to initiate further feminist research on motherhood and paid work, and women's locations while engaging in both.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Girl w/Pen on TV

Tonight! On WNBC (local NYC news station) sometime between 7-7:30pm, I'll be on talking about the new study from the Council on Contemporary Families that I blogged about this morning. I got the call this morning and (Courtney will appreciate this!), I dashed off to buy a cheap dress at The Gap near Rock Center because I was wearing ratty jeans and inappropriate boots. Fortunately, the producer promised me, you won't see my boots.

And on Sunday, March 16, I'll be appearing on WCBS (again, local news) in a segment on feminism as part of a women's history month special series. I hear Linda Gordon was interviewed too, and that Courtney Martin will be on it too. I feel so honored to be in their company. And grateful to the Women's Media Center for the use of their office for the shoot.

Men Change, But Workplaces Not So Much

I find it heartening to wake up to this news bit sent to me by CCF this morning: Men have more and more stepped up to the plate in sharing housework and childcare. The longer a wife works, the more housework her husband does. Hallelujah amen.

According to a briefing paper prepared in advance of the 11th Annual Conference of the Council on Contemporary Families, April 25-26, 2008 at the University of Illinois in Chicago, ("Men's Changing Contribution to Housework and Child Care," by researchers Oriel Sullivan and Scott Coltrane):
For thirty years, researchers studying the changes in family dynamics since the rise of the women's movement have concluded that, despite gains in the world of education, work, and politics, women face a "stalled revolution" at home. According to many studies, men's family work has barely budged in response to women's increased employment. The typical punch line of many news stories has been that even though women are working longer hours on the job and cutting back their own housework, men are not picking up the slack.
But new research suggests that these studies were based on unrealistic hopes for instant transformation. Such studies, explain Sullivan and Coltrane, underestimated the amount of change going on behind the scenes and "the growing willingness of men to adapt to their wives' new behaviors and values."

In fact, it turns out, more couples are sharing family tasks than ever before. The movement toward sharing has been especially significant full-time dual-earner

Interestingly, whatever a man's original resistance to sharing, men's contributions to family work increase over time. In other words, the longer their female partners have been in paid employment, the more family work they are likely to do.

Bottom line is this: "American couples have made remarkable progress in working out mutually satisfying arrangements to share the responsibilities of breadwinning and family care. And polls continue to show increasing approval of such arrangements. So the revolution in gender aspirations and behaviors has not stalled."

But lest we we women of the second and third shift get too excited, here's where things are stalled: getting employers to accommodate workers' desires. And high earners are forced to work ever longer hours. Less affluent earners face wage or benefit cuts and layoffs that often force them to work more than one job. Aside from winning paid parental leave laws in Washington and California (with similar bills being considered in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York), families have made little headway in getting the kind of family friendly policies that are taken for granted in most other advanced industrial countries.

So even as American couples' beliefs and desires about gender equity have grown to be among the highest in the world, America's work policies and social support systems for working parents are among the lowest. Depressing, to say the least.

All in all, the "stalled revolution" in America is not taking place in families but in the highest circles of our economic and political elites.

For more information on this report, contact:

Scott Coltrane, Professor of Sociology, University of California
Riverside, (951) 827-2443; cell: (951) 858-1831

Professor Oriel Sullivan, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Ben
Gurion University, +972 86472056

(Image cred)

Progressive Women's Voices Is Changing My Life--Apply Now!

Are you sick of turning on the TV, tuning in the radio, or opening a newspaper and asking yourself, where are the women? The Women's Media Center created Progressive Women's Voices, an intensive training and support program to develop a new class of women to take on the media, and I've been a beneficiary by participating in the first class. Applications are now available to take part in the second class.

The WMC is looking for, in their words, "talented, informed, progressive women who are willing to speak out about the issues that matter; women who are interested in joining an amazing group of dynamic, engaged women who are interested in changing the world as we know it through the lens of the media." In case you're wondering, they've delivered, connecting their participants with decision makers in the news industry who can help make our voices heard - from the opinion pages of the nation's top newspapers to the producers an reporters at the national news networks.

So, whether your expertise is war or peace, leadership, health care, or technology, chances are you follow the news, and realize that progressive women's voices, like yours, are missing. Click here to learn more about the current class of Progressive Women's Voices and how you can apply (

And please pass it on.
If everyone who reads this passes the application along to at least one other great woman whose voice we all should know, just think how things could change.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Ain't Over til It's Over!

But wait--is it a good thing that this is dragging out? I'm doing a little happy dance over here this morning, though Marco is down in the dumps. Ah, the joys of being a house divided. We both, however, have serious Election Fatigue Syndrome (EFS) and are more than ready to rally behind whoever becomes the nominee. That said, I'm still doing the happy dance and have regained hope for my girl.

Some great quips from other nail biters, all of us looking ahead, nervously, to the national election:

Lynn Harris at Broadsheet, "Women and Clinton: Damned If They Vote, Damned If They Don't?"--there's so much great stuff here you just gotta read it, but a favorite line: "We all know about 'shrill.' Which to me, for the record, describes John McCain."

Gloria Feldt quoted over at Women's ENews: For women, McCain would be "disaster in a nutshell."

Kavita Ramdas at The Nation: "The next President needs the ability to demonstrate the inner courage and conviction that comes from owning his or her 'otherness.' As a woman and a mother, Hillary Clinton could bring insights and perspectives no other President in US history could have brought to the negotiating table of war and peace. As the stepson of an Indonesian Muslim and the son of a Kenyan and a white woman from Kansas, Barack Obama manifests what it means to be a global citizen. What is at stake in this election is not merely the historic first that would be accomplished if either a black man or a woman became the next US President. What is at stake is the fragile future of our shared world.“

(Thanks to Purse Pundit for that last one!)

Women's History Month Bloggy Goodness

In celebration of Women's History Month, Women's Voices. Women Vote is honoring women in the blogosphere, through a Women's Voices Making History contest.

Nominate your favorite female bloggers through March 21, after which WVWV will list the top 10 female bloggers at and then they'll ask everyone to vote for their favorite.

Nominating form available here.

(Thank you, Catherine Morgan, for the heads up, and, well, for your know what!!)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

GUEST POST: Gottlieb and the Single Girl

GUEST BLOGGER: Elline Lipkin PhD was recently a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Beatrice M. Bain Center for Research on Gender at UC Berkeley. Her first book, The Errant Thread, was published by Kore Press. She recently moved to Los Angeles and is in search of feminist community. I met Elline this summer at an NWSA conference and then again at Cody's Bookstore in Berkeley, where we discovered we had a dear dear connection in common. If you are in LA and are connected to feministy activity at large, you should contact her because she is AMAZING! Here's Elline! -GWP

Gottlieb and the Single Girl

For the past few days it’s been impossible to ignore the vitriol electrifying the e-waves over Lori Gottlieb’s article in the March issue of The Atlantic Monthly. Entitled “Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” Gottlieb argues that a woman shouldn’t hold out for marriage based on a Big Romantic Connection, but instead should settle for Mr. Not So Bad, primarily so that she has a partner in the trenches, as she puts it, of homemaking and child-rearing. Instead of thinking of a partner as a soul mate or someone with whom to embark on a passionate adventure, she suggests, imagine him as a partner in a “small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit,” which is another way she characterizes running a household together. She gives more insight about her position in an Atlantic interview, this recent NPR piece, and on The Today Show.

Her evidence is anecdotal, her stress level as a new single mother sounds high, and her impatience with her friends’ complaints about husbands who don’t pull equal weight with parenting is worn out. There is much to take issue with in her argument, (as others who have done real research into these issues have), based as it is on her seemingly middle-class and often privileged friends. In my view, one of her serious missteps (and where she incurred the most wrath) is her first assumption that all women want to get married, as she writes, “To the outside world, of course, we call ourselves feminists and insist... that we’re independent and self-sufficient... but in reality, we aren’t fish who can do without a bicycle, we’re women who want a traditional family.” The piece continues on in its belief that a woman is always better off with the financial and physical help of a husband (never mind walking sperm bank on tap!), no matter how bland, boring, or eventually bald she might find him. Gottlieb even says that since one of her married friends’ chief complaints is that they never see their spouses, likeability shouldn’t really even be an issue. In today’s issue of the LA Times, columnist Meghan Daum takes Gottlieb roundly to task over her assumption that all women want children.

Yet, (and this is the tricky part), I think Gottlieb has a point. What troubles me is how her poorly chosen rhetoric is allowing her argument to be twisted into anti-feminist backlash and sounds suspiciously close to a regressive longing for the all-holy strictures of the nuclear family. As a woman of the same age, I see Gottlieb’s argument borne out of a pragmatism which doesn’t disavow romance as much as it asks women to drop the Hollywood-ending scales from their eyes. As a self-proclaimed quirkyalone whose motto was always “Never settle!” as well as a recent newlywed I think the Atlantic deliberately framed her message as one that only inflames the stereotype of single-woman-as-desperate and then lights it on fire.

Retitled something far more pragmatic such as “Your Priorities Will Change as You Get Older” her article wouldn’t have incited the blogosphere, yet could have carried across what I see as her essential message. Don’t count out that shy five-foot-six guy with a heart of gold hanging out in the corner at a party when you always said you would only date men who are at least five ten seems to be one way to sum up her core advice. Think about the qualities that make for a great life partner on all fronts, including the unromantic day to day, and don’t confuse superficial romance novel notions about passion with character and qualities that will last for the long run. She references the “motherly advice” we’ve all heard and disdained now coming back to haunt her — think about “the bigger picture” a potential spouse represents rather than his short-term libidinous appeal. Gottlieb admits that it’s a fine line between “settling” and “compromising” and that every woman has to determine where this wavers, and surprisingly, at the article’s end confesses that she will probably never will settle, although she wishes she had. In all of this, I think she is absolutely right.

Last year I wrote in Salon about my own travails in the dating world, and I know how hard it is to meet someone with whom you can simply carry on a decent conversation for an hour, never mind a lifetime. I had spent far too long in a long-distance relationship that went nowhere (except gathering frequent flier miles) and I had sworn I’d never do that again. At age 38, when I first met my now-spouse, who lived a short plane ride away, I remember saying, “I’m too old and too picky to count out someone who seems this good.” If I had been ten years younger, or for that matter even five, would I have made the effort? Probably not. I see Gottlieb as coming from a place the dating-weary often reach: a far shore of loneliness when you think meeting someone of substance is just never going to happen. That her values have changed as she entered her fourth decade, altered with the birth of her son, and sobered up to the reality that the dating pool shrinks substantially the farther one goes into one’s thirties, doesn’t seem so wrong.

Yet a moment I think Gottlieb misses the mark is when she assumes men don’t suffer from the choices they’ve made, only women do. As I wrote in Salon, I was amazed at how many men regretted not marrying younger and awoke to wanting children later in life, only to realize it probably wasn’t going to happen for them. For many men it wasn’t biology that would limit them, but a ticking social clock that counted them out past a certain age as well. What seems sad is that Gottlieb can only celebrate for a scant moment the choices she had the privilege to make, namely to have a child on her own, despite its hardships. Her hindsight (and lack of sleep it sounds like) is what drives her rear view mirror exhortation to younger women to avoid her path and take on a partner, not just any old partner, but one seen through the tempered vision maturity brings.

You can contact Elline at

Election: Biting My Nails Edition

That's all. Just biting going on over here. More in the AM, when we have some real info!

Go Science Go

I may late to this one, but just had to share this awesome takedown, complete with (surprise!) facts, of that awful backlash porn last month in The Atlantic called "Marry Him!", via Bella DePaulo recently at HuffPo. Writes Bella:
Gottlieb buys into just about all of the myths about singles that I debunk in my book, Singled Out. She believes, for example, that singles are interested in just one thing - getting married. She warns that even if they have great jobs, their jobs won't love them back. She thinks that if single women wait too long, the available men will all be "damaged goods." Most of all, she seems to believe that single people are miserable and lonely, and that the cure for what ails them is to get married.

Science demurs. A study in which thousands of people have been followed for 18 years (and counting) shows that people who get married enjoy, at best, a brief and tiny bubble of happiness around the time of the wedding (a honeymoon effect); then they go back to being as happy or as unhappy as they were when they were single. Moreover, only those who marry and stay married experience the early blip in happiness; those who marry and then divorce are already becoming less happy, not more so, as the day of the wedding draws near. (See Chapter 2 of Singled Out.)

The words "lonely" or "alone" occur a dozen times in "Marry Him." Gottlieb seems to be channeling Bridget Jones's fear of ending up "dying alone and found three weeks later half-eaten by an Alsatian," only without the humor. I've studied the scientific research on loneliness in later life (Chapter 11 of Singled Out). It shows that no group is LESS likely to be lonely in their senior years than women who have always been single. Gottlieb also believes that mothers who settle, regret that they did, and then divorce, will still be better off financially than if they had never married. The science does not support that, either.
So there.

(Thanks as ever CCF for the heads up.)