Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Who By Fire...

I'm off to synagogue today and hence it will likely be quiet over here from me. But before I go, I wanted to share this eerie yet haunting song by Leonard Cohen that I heard on NPR's Speaking of Faith Days of Awe special the other day and haven't been able to get out of my head. It's a riff on a prayer (Unetaneh Tokef) that is said on Rosh HaShanah as well as on Yom Kippur. Though sad and a little creepy, it sure gets stuck in your head.

The text of the prayer that it draws from is translated as follows:

On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted.

Terrifying. Yet what I like about these holidays is that they are pretty much full of hope. The liturgy tends to emphasize human responsibility and the possibility for change.

May this new year bring change for us as individuals, communities, and nations. And may our leaders in Washington DC come together on some kind of plan before things get much worse.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy New Year, Shana Tova!

The sweetness of apples and honey to all!

Strategic Blogging Webinar with GWP

For all those of you who've had a taste of the blogosphere and want to learn more, either on behalf of your organization or as an individual, this one's for you.


Girl w/ Keyboard: Making Waves through the Feminist Blogosphere (Strategic Blogging for Advocates, Experts, and Organizations)

In this 5-week bloginar offered through the Women's Media Center, author and blogger Deborah Siegel (aka moi) will lead participants through the basics of blogging—both logistical and philosophical.  Participants will leave with an understanding of how blogging is changing the media landscape—especially for women—and the tools needed to start a blog or improve one that's already off the ground.  Topics include: State of the Blogosphere, Tour of the Femosphere, Finding Your Niche, Creating Your Blog, Rules of the Road, Bells and Whistles, and more.

About the Instructor

[ok, this is weird posting this part here on GWP, but what the hey -- Kristen writes the nicest things about me!] Transforming her own blog, Girl with Pen, into required reading for the up-to-date feminist, Deborah has successfully created a presence in the world of Web 2.0.  Deborah now keeps a daily web community in dialogue on the latest debates surrounding intergenerational feminism and research on women and girls across academic and popular realms.  In this online workshop, Deborah, a graduate of the first class of the WMC's Progressive Women's Voices program, will take you on a guided tour through the blogosphere and teach you how to get your voice and ideas out there, too. For more on Deborah, visit www.deborahsiegel.net.


5 Tuesdays starting in October 14, 7-8:15pm ET, via conference call / online

Cost: Register early and receive a discount: $335 before Oct. 7; $350 after Oct. 7

For More Info

Here a Webinar, There a Webinar

This just got passed along to me: The National Women's Law Center is hosting a series of webinars (yep, that means, online! you can participate from anywhere) on how to negotiate for yourself in the workplace:

WORK$MART: Pay Negotiation for Women (Two-Part Series)

Did you know that men are four times more likely to initiate salary
negotiations than women? And that a worker stands to lose more than
$500,000 by age 60 if she fails to negotiate her first salary?

Two-Part Webinar:
1:00 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008, and
1:00 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008

During these workshops you will learn:
* How to benchmark the salary of your current job;
* How to determine whether or not you are paid fairly; and
* How to negotiate a raise or promotion.

Register Here

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pics from the Road

Live, from George Washington last Thursday, it's Girl w/ Pen and two of the young women from the Women's Leadership Program. (Am I really that short?!) Those WLP gals are not only gorgeous, they're whip smart. The WomenGirlsLadies and I had an amazing time during the Q&A part of our panel that evening -- the questions we got could have kept us all going all night.


Tina Fey does Palin, pitch perfect once again. Amy Poehler here as Katie Couric. Enjoy!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Notes from the Road...

Deborah here. Last night Gloria Feldt, Kristal Brent Zook, Courtney Martin and I spoke together at George Washington University's Elizabeth J. Somers Women's Leadership Program and I have to say, we all feel tremendously encouraged by the amazing women we met there and just a bit proud of our own little quartet for prompting such great questions and reflections from the audience. Topics of conversation during the Q&A included: race vs. gender in the election, work/family balance, public policy approaches to rape and sexual assault, "opting out," dealing with anti-feminist crap from insecure boys, beauty standards and their sources, abortion, equality vs. elevating women above men, women in politics, intersection feminism etc.

Thank you to Dean Heller, Sam, and all those that joined us in the conversation. The future is looking pretty bright...This pic is from a previous talk, but photos from GW coming soon!

(crossposted at WomenGirlsLadies)

Sex and Sensibility: Quick Takes

Sex and Sensibility: Quick Takes
by Kristen Loveland

Hi to all from your Sex and Sensibility lady here. Here are a few things that caught my eye this past week:

1. The Truth About Teen Girls: Belinda Luscombe has an awesome article in Time Magazine talking about how, despite the proliferation of sexual imagery in the teenage world, maybe we shouldn't be twisting our knickers in such a knot over their alleged sexual promiscuity. To wit:
"With the pornucopia of media at teens' disposal in the past decade and a half, on cell phones and computers as well as TVs, early-adolescent sex should be having a growth spurt. But the figures don't necessarily support one. Despite a minor increase in 2006, the rate of pregnancies among teen girls has been on a downward trend since 1991. Another indicator, the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases, is alarmingly high: nearly 1 in 4 girls ages 14 to 19 and nearly 1 in 2 African-American girls, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But this is the first year such a study has been completed, and the study doesn't separate 14-to-16-year-olds from 17-to-19-year-olds, so it's still unclear which way that trend is heading."
Keep reading this fantastic article here and thanks to Deborah for sending this to me!

2. I Am Charlotte: The Series: While on the one hand it appears that there are finally a number of voices asking us to put on the breaks for a second and contemplate what the actual sexual experiences of teenage girls are, it looks like Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons is going to be made into an HBO series. Charlotte Simmons the book has often been noted as over-stated and over-bearing in its condemnation of college sexuality. As the New York Magazine Book Review put it at the time:
"Wolfe’s vision of eroticism is ultimately too dark. When, in Charlotte Simmons, an older man has sex with a younger woman, it is, of course, cynical. But when a younger man has sex with a younger woman, it is equally cynical. Indeed, all the sex in Wolfe’s imagined university is rotten. All intimacy is rotten. At the end of the novel, Charlotte falls in with a new man. He comes from a very different walk of life than Charlotte does, and to all appearances he adores her. One might reasonably see this turn of events as a triumph—love conquering differences, love opening doors. But Wolfe intends for us to see it as a defeat: The man is not suited for his clever country heroine; she has forgotten, he suggests, that “she is Charlotte Simmons”; she has lost her identity."
To put it mildly, I'm not overly-optimistic about the way the series will portray yet another young woman who has lost her character to the hedonistic offerings of that Gomorrah now known as the American university.

3. The Old is New Again: And finally, on a slightly different note, Ann over at Feministing recently wrote about John LaBruzzo, a state legislator from Louisiana, who wants to pay low-income women to be sterilized. Something that is consistently overlooked in mainstream's take on what it means to be Pro-Choice is that it is just that: the choice to have or not to have a child. As a political position, it is both concerned with those woman who, for x, y, and z reason, choose not to have a child, and with those from whom the right to have a child is coercively taken away. There have been a number of studies and histories done on sterilization abuse which, particularly in 1970s America, targeted poor and minority women, and included everything from outright nonconsensual sterilizations, to unclear statements signed on the hospital bed before an abortion, to, well, something like LaBruzzo's brilliant idea. The government has no place in coercing a targeted group of women into permanent reproductive decisions.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

CFP: Get Your Feminist Anthology On

One mo' from Courtney...

I think for me it was a slow process, starting from when I was in the womb...

We were reading the Great Gatsby in high school English, and I came across this line: 'That's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.' I felt enraged, but none of my classmates even seemed to notice.

It was a rainy Take Back The Night rally my first year of college... I looked around at the women on every side, and thought about how strange it was that I'd ended up here, given my conservative Republican upbringing. I realized that if I don't identify as a feminist, no one really does.

One movie: Girls Town. Amazing.

A generation ago, feminists talked about their "click" moments: those split-second experiences that led them to join the women's movement. Today's young feminists come to the movement--which is looking less like a protest march and more like a blog--in myriad, often piecemeal, ways. It can be as simple as reading a book or attending an event or talking with one person or witnessing a horrendous act of sexism.

Deciding to identify as a feminist often requires a lot of learning and unlearning these days; so many of us have been exposed to the well-oiled machine of the anti-feminist movement. According to Newsweek, feminism might be dead. Charlotte Allen tells us that we're stupid, via the Washington Post. Some older women within our own movement wonder if we even exist.

J. Courtney Sullivan and Courtney Martin are editing a new anthology for Seal Press on the topic, and we want your ideas. Send us a couple of paragraphs--in the style and voice that you'd use in a full-fledged essay--proposing what you would write, along with your name, email address, phone #, age, and ethnic background (we understand that this might seem a little reductive, but we are committed to including diverse authors). We'll look them all over, then get back to you once we've accounted for a range of moments, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds.

We hope it will be a historic document, a totally entertaining gift, a course adoption text, and, most of all, a collection that makes young women who already identify with the movement feel seen and heard, and welcomes all those just growing into the still unfolding story of feminism.

Send your ideas to: clickmoment@gmail.com
DEADLINE: October 15, 2008

Bonus: We've already got some great feminist writers on board that you may have heard of, including (in no particular order):

Courtney E. Martin and J. Courtney Sullivan (well, obviously)
Jessica Valenti
Miriam Perez
Samhita Mukhopadhyay
Curtis Sittenfield
Rebecca Traister
Anna Holmes
Rachel Simmons
Winter Miller
Deborah Siegel
Alissa Quart
Hannah Seligson
Latoya Petersen
Shelby Knox
Jennifer Baumgardner
Amy Richards

Cookies and Heros and Dreams

One of my favorite things about traveling with my intergenerational feminist panel is the slumber party. Courtney and I are here holed up in the hotel with chocolate chip cookies and Airborne and I've promised her I'd post this event. It looks SO FAB!

The American Hero and the American Dream:
Reflections on Our Contemporary Political Narratives

Date: Sunday, September 28
Time: 2-4 pm

Location: The Forum, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum

In this interactive panel, academics, journalists, and comedians discuss the dominant narratives--perpetuated by both the campaigns and the media--during this unprecedented election. As they explore the ways in which these two presidential candidates and their VPs have been framed, they will also be examining the way the American public still thinks about race, class, and gender, and how this election has served to defibrillate so many beating, bleeding political hearts.

Moderator: Courtney E. Martin

Charlton McIlwain, Assistant Professor of Culture and Communication, NYU
Gloria, Feldt, author and blogger at Heartfeldt Politics
Ramin Hedayati, associate producer at The Daily Show

Got Economy?

To make up for the quiet over here today, I bring you a late-night newsbreaking post from our very own Virginia Rutter. With all the chaos down on Wall Street these days, I'm finding it hard to maintain a sense of the larger larger picture. Virginia offers us that. Read it, and, well, weep. -GWP

How ya doin'?

by Virginia Rutter, PhD

Framingham State College

There's an awesome new report out from John Schmitt and the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), called "The Reagan Question." It starts like this:

In his closing remarks during the final presidential debate of 1980, Ronald Reagan famously asked the American people: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

The CEPR report reprises the question for us today. And, besides having higher blood pressure and a lot of irritatsia, CEPR tells us, on 23 out of 25 economic indicators, we are doing worse.

Among the indicators is employment for women—which is down. So is employment for men. But check this out:

Inflation rate—up from 3.3 to 5.4 percent.

Unemployment rate—up from 4.0 to 6.1 percent.

Uninsured—we got millions more now.

Poverty—we got millions more now.

Personal savings—that we've got a lot less of now.

Even the good news isn't really good news: Family income is better now than before, by a whopping 262 dollars after 8 years. That's not the irritating part. Here's the irritating part. Under Bush, our productivity is the other indicator that is up. Our productivity grew by 22 percent in the past 8 years. In 2000, our productivity was up just 16%. That's good! (Our "fundamentals"—the workers—per McCain.) So, we have become more productive! We're doing great! But wait, where are the profits? Where are all the advantages? Not with us. Check out "real wage growth": under real wage growth wages were up in 2000 8.2 percent. In 2008, wages were up 1.8 percent. Feh. Feh. Feh.

Do take a look at this report. It is carefully constructed (lots of great citations to the data at the end) and above any of the particulars, you get the point. How ya doin'? Not so great.

Girl with Survey

GWPenner Elline Lipkin is trying to collect girls' responses, as well as responses from their mentors, for her forthcoming book with Seal Press on Girls Studies by October 15th. Please take the survey for girl mentors, pass it on, and pass the other survey links onto the girls in your life!"

Survey for Girls Mentors

Survey for Girls ages 6-10

Survey for Girls ages 11-18

Girl Gone MIA Today

Apologies for the lack of posting today! A GWP anomaly, and I missed you all!

I spent the day traveling to Washington DC, where my intergenerational feminist panel spoke tonight at George Washington University before the Women's Leadership Program--and an amazing group of women those WLPers are. Pictures coming soon. Tomorrow, we're keynoting at the Association for Women in Communications conference, and I'm excited to attend some of their sessions (and swim in the hotel pool) as well.

More from me tomorrow, I promise!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

President Barbie Is Back

This just in, via The White House Project:

Just in time for the first presidential debate, The White House Project is thrilled to announce that President Barbie is back on shelves! Exclusively at Toys R Us, this is President Barbie's third term in office since Mattel and The White House Project joined together in 2000 and 2004 to let both little girls and boys know that a woman can be President. As Marie Wilson says, "To make change, you've got to go where the people are. More and more girls think they're going to grow up to be president and call a join session of Congress because their dolls can." To give a child in your life their very own President Barbie, click here.

Have any of the mamas out there bought Prez Barbie for their girls? Would be curious to hear your thoughts!

(Tina Fey glasses sold separately.)

Authors These Days...

I recently received an advance copy of a new book by Alix Kates Shulman, To Love What Is: A Marriage Transformed (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), which is excerpted in Salon this week. Many of you will know Alix from her much earlier novel, Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen. Her latest--a gut-wrenchingly true-to-life memoir this time--is breathtaking in its poignance. That's all I'll say. You can read from it right here.

And from a book publicity perspective, I'm fascinated at the way savvy authors now are doing video trailers. Alix has a wonderful one--check it out, here. And to hear Alix on writing, check out this podcast. Kudos to the ex-prom queen on each and every front.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

So Not a Woman Thing

And speaking of adding 2 cents to the HuffPo forum on women and Palin (see previous post, below), here's Virginia Rutter chiming in already with 8 cents of her own! -GWP

Not a Woman Thing

By Virginia Rutter, PhD

Framingham State College

Last week I kept getting those emails, "women against Sarah Palin." Though I am a woman against Sarah Palin (and McCain), I did not join. Believe me, Palin is a problem: As Deborah put it in HuffPo today "I firmly believe that Palin is unprepared and find McCain's choice,and logic, insulting to any Clinton supporter worth her salt."

Still, I didn't sign, I didn't forward. Why? Palin's policies and positions are anti-feminist and anti-woman, so why shouldn't women stand up together against her?

Here's why. Because I believe that the "women against" gambit feeds into the identity politics of Sarah Palin that make her so damn scary. Ironically, by mounting a "women against" campaign, we make her a "woman's candidate." And that is what is driving us f-ing crazy. (At least one poll shows a boost in support from Republican women.) Maybe I read too much Foucault back in the day (or perhaps have more recently seen too much Rove?), but I am telling you this looks like a tough one to handle.

Her identity politics are about "I'm a hockey mom so respect me." "I am an authority figure, so don't question me." "I'm a Christian, so don't doubt me." "I am a woman, so don't get feminist with me." On the facts, womenagainstpalin are totally right. On the politics of it, it doesn't work. So, I am not going with womenagagainst. Instead I'm sticking with "she's more Bush than Bush." (Pun intended? Oh gosh, no.)

New HuffPo Forum: Women on Palin

Do check out this forum compiled by Feminist.com's Marianne Schnall over at HuffPo today. Marianne asked a number of women (and I'm honored to be one of them!) to answer 3 questions about Sarah Palin and the election. Explains Marianne,
As a woman, I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed and shaken by this election season, the highs and lows of it all. On the one hand, I have been feeling powerful -- everyone is talking about women and our decisive influence in this election. Even the cover of the September 22nd issue of Newsweek is asking, "What do women want?" It's a good question. So many important themes and dialogues have been raised during this election season -- about identity politics, what we expect from a woman leader, sexism in the media, diversity in the feminist movement, what masculine and feminine values are, and about Sarah Palin and the "Palin effect." It all made me want to talk to other women, to get clarity, to gain insight. I tried to think about what I, personally, could do to contribute to this dialogue.
I can't wait to read what the others wrote--the others being Isabel Allende, Joan Blades, Eve Ensler, Melissa Etheridge, Gloria Feldt, Kim Gandy, Elizabeth Lesser, Courtney Martin, Kathy Najimy, Amy Richards, Deborah Siegel, Eleanor Smeal, Gloria Steinem, Loung Ung, Alice Walker, Jody Williams, Marie Wilson.

Come stop by and add your 2cents!

XY Files: Sexist Earners, Boomerang Boys, and Teenage Dads

Today's tidbits on a new generation of men:

1. Men with sexist views earn more dough. According to a new study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, sexist men in the workplace are likely to out-earn their more modern thinking counterparts. Um, really? The BBC reports, and feministing and Broadsheet respond.

2. More single men live at home with Mom and Dad than do single women. While as recently as 1980, only six percent of men reached their early 40s without marrying (compared to five percent of women), by 2004, that percentage had increased to 16.5 percent of men (and 12.5 percent of women). Even more telling, 55 percent of American men aged 18 to 24 live with their parents and 13 percent between 25 to 34 years of age still live at home, compared to only eight percent of women. Read the rest in HNN.

3. Teenage fathers are on the decline. But boys who become Baby Daddies face unique challenges as young men thrust into responsibility. As reported in ABC News, Levi Johnston, the expectant father of Bristol Palin's unborn child, joins a small minority of his peers by becoming a teenage father. Overall, only 1.7 percent of teenage males were fathers in 2002, a decline since the early 1990s. In fact, the majority of teen mothers are impregnated by men age 20 and older. And ABC News reports that while there are many support services for teen mothers, teen fathers are often left out, despite studies showing that they are more prone to delinquency, reduced educational attainment, financial hardship and unstable marriage patterns.

(Thanks to CCF for the heads up on items 2 and 3)

Literary Fundraising for Obama

Via Bitch PhD comes news of an Obama fundraising campaign engineered by Ayelet Waldman (writer, DNC Blogger, former HipMama) whereby you donate $250 through this link, forward your email receipt to Ayelet along with your mailing address, and she'll send you ten randomly-picked signed books by one of these authors.

Free books AND support for Obama (who, unlike SOME presidents of ours, actually reads)? It doesn't get much better than that!

Courtney on Palin on Brian Lehrer Live!

The Feminist Press' Gloria Jacobs and Feministing.com's Courtney Martin Discuss Sarah Palin from Brian Lehrer Live on Vimeo.

Nicely done.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Is Palin Ready? Take the PBS Poll RIGHT NOW!

PBS is doing a poll which asks if Palin is qualified to be VP. Supporters have organized a yes campaign--and the "yes" is at the moment winning. If you have strong feelings about this, please take literally 1 minute to go to: http://www.pbs.org/now/polls/poll-435.html and vote!
And please feel free to send this on.

Generation Next: Youth Organizing Beyond the Election

I'm thrilled to welcome ya'll back from the weekend with this month's post from GWP regular Courtney Martin. Please do check out the questions Courtney leaves us with at the end, and feel free to share links in comments. Courtney is doing some amazing work on youth and political engagement (hint hint: her next book) and any links you post will be of great interest to us all! -GWP

Generation Next

By Courtney Martin

In such a tight presidential race, it’s not surprising that pundits are suddenly stuck on looking for the demographic that could have the biggest influence on the outcome in November. One of the key groups that the media is finally analyzing in a sophisticated way is the youth vote. Yes, we are more complex than just “the youth go CRAZY for Obama.”

The Nation’s Peter Dreier just published a piece with the following framing:

Democratic Party strategists believe that in key swing states, a dramatic increase in turnout among young voters--and African-Americans--can be the key to victory for both Obama and the party's candidates for Congress. Campus activists, meanwhile, view the Obama campaign as a means to catalyze a new progressive youth movement among the Millennial (18- to 29-year-old) generation that they hope, unlike the political crusades of the 1960s youth rebellion, will be part of a broader, multigenerational coalition.

Dreier also worked in the following critical stats:

After steady declines in turnout since 1972, young voters reversed the trend in the 2004 presidential and 2006 mid-term elections. In Democratic primaries and caucuses, the number of young voters increased from 1.1 million to 4.9 million. (In contrast, Republican primaries attracted only 1.8 million youth voters.) A Harvard study found that compared to the 2004 primaries, the youth vote quadrupled in the Tennessee primary and almost tripled in Iowa, Georgia, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.

Really critical food for thought. I thought I’d leave you all with some questions that the mass media has consistently failed to ask, and that even Dreier (who generally does a great overview, didn’t touch on in depth):

-How is the progressive movement doing in building a youth movement that can last for years to come, not just jumping on the Obama band wagon?
-Is the progressive youth movement being funded adequately? (I asked and answered this one in my recent column at the American Prospect.)
-What issues are most important to youth? (Answer: the same ones that are important to “the old folks”: the economy, the war, and healthcare.)
-How are young women responding to Palin? Michelle Obama?
-How are voter mobilization organizations targeting non-college enrolled youth? (Too often the media acts as if the majority of 18-28 year olds are enrolled in school, which is actually not the case.)

Please leave links to places that are answering these questions adequately in the comments section, if you run across them! Let’s hold our media accountable to explore these issues before it becomes too late to address every last little obstacle between Obama/Biden and the White House.

Revisiting The Feminine Mystique

Just when you thought that with the interesting yet complicated angle Palin is injecting into red state feminism, we might onto something new, Christina Hoff Sommers is back fanning the flames of the mommy wars by arguing that in building her case, Betty Friedan made a fatal mistake that undermined her book's appeal at the time and permanently weakened the movement it helped create.

According to Sommers in a New York Sun article titled Reconsiderations: Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, Friedan not only attacked a postwar culture that aggressively consigned women to the domestic sphere, but she attacked the sphere itself - along with all the women who chose to live there.

I seriously can't wait for Stephanie Coontz's reconsideration of TFM (which is in the works). We need it, bad.

And while we're at it, Newsweek reports that a new study finds that children of privileged families fare worse when the mother works outside the home--but what does the research really tell us? Read it and see.

(Thanks to Steve Mintz and the Council on Contemporary Families--on whose Board I now sit!--for the links.)

And the Winner Is...

Thanks to all of you who responded to this month's GWP poll. You have spoken, and we listened. We're keeping the "feminist" in our tagline, rather than changing it to "gender." And, thanks again to a reader's suggestion, we are shortening it a bit. The new tagline will read:

"Bridging Feminist Research and Popular Reality"

Group launch is just around the corner...for reals!

Quick Hits on Market Bailout, for the Rest of Us

Atlas Shrugged by Greg Zehner, over at HuffPo

...and, always, Purse Pundit.

Other links to what's going on, in terms that make sense to the layperson? Please share!

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Cat Is Famous

Apparently, Open Salon (where Marco has taken up residence) declared today post-your-pet day in an effort to break from the distressing noise of the markets and the economy and the election and the world. And our Amelia Bedelia (a.k.a. The Mouse) made the front page!

She is purring with approval right next to me. Meanwhile, the pic above is not The Mouse but her beloved yet departed brother, Sam I Am. I figured, it was only fair.

Oh no -- I did it once again -- I cat blogged! And with that, I sign off for the weekend. Enjoy :)

Intergenerational Feminist Convo Goes to DC

So the intergenerational feminist panel I travel with, "Women Girls and Ladies", is presenting at George Washington University next Thurs (Sept 25, 6pm) and at the Association for Women in Communications conference next Fri (Sept 26, luncheon keynote). At GW, we'll be doing our "what made me a feminist" version, and at AWC, we'll be specifically talking about communicating among women across generations at work. The panelists are: Gloria Feldt, Kristal Brent-Zook, Courtney Martin, and me. I love traveling with these ladies. And speaking of Courtney, stay tuned for a guest post from her here at GWP next week....

For anyone in the DC area, thanks in advance for any help spreading the word about these events!

Sex and Sensibility: Thinking about the Boys

Sex and Sensibility: Thinking about the Boys
by Kristen Loveland

Michael Kimmel, in his new book Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men describes, as James Hannaham aptly summed up at Salon, a land "where women are treated as objects or bargaining chips, and alcoholism and drug abuse are the norm." A new anthology edited by Shira Tarrant, Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power, gives us the voices of men living in the twenty-first century of what some would call post-feminism, what I would call the third wave. One of the contributors, Nate Einschlag, described going from the relative liberalness of New York City, where he grew up hanging out at Laguardia High School and talking about music, to a suburban university where girls did guys' laundry and guys talked about which "bitches" they'd had sex with the night before. All of which made me wonder about what borders should be drawn around this so-called "Guyland."

I went from a suburban Connecticut high school to a very urban college atmosphere, which represented a huge relief from the jockish and more overtly misogynistic guys I knew in high school. I've always called such guys "dudes" and I've met plenty of such "dudes" subsequently in the city. But overall, my college experience was one of emancipation, while "guyland" represents a place where men, and the women who love them, become entrapped by the masculine expectations of their new adult lives.

Of course everything was far from peach perfect in an urban college atmosphere: my feminist self was awakened by parody signs around Take Back the Night, where "dudes" on my floor demanded that women take back the kitchen instead. And a recent article by Anna Clark in Bitch describes some of the issues that I saw beginning at the university level:
the gender gap indicates that women are far less likely to land their stories in the nation’s top magazines and newspapers. Likewise, in the digital world, political candidates made a point of stopping by the YearlyKos conference last summer, headlined by a prominent progressive male blogger, but were absent from the BlogHer conference, which drew top women bloggers together.
This more aptly describes the atmosphere at my college: the suffocation of female ambition, or what might also be called: the female voice. Another contributor to Men Speak Out, Bob Lamm, caught the essence of this issue when he noted the importance of men listening to women, which I thought happened too infrequently in the classroom.

The lack of the female voice and the spidery web of the "old boys network," which still pervades clubs and classroom space alike, was paradoxically made clear to me at a college talk on the fluidity of gender and sexuality one night. When the female student facilitator paused for a moment to find the right words, her male deputy took the opportunity to depose her, grabbing the spotlight for himself and moderating the conversation from then on. He later complained to me about the female facilitator's lack of articulation, completely unaware of what he had done. It may be a more subtle misogyny than talking about "bitches," but it's harmfully ubiquitous nonetheless.

I still wonder where the delineation falls between the collegiate "guylands" described by Kimmel and Einschlag and the ones I've experienced. On the one hand, it seems to be a suburban versus urban phenomenon, and clearly Kimmel and Einschlag are talking about a mostly white, heterosexual population. Quite honestly, some of their stories seem to be taken straight out of every stereotypical and yes, essentially elitist, assumption I've ever made when I've considered what it would be like to go to a state school in the midwest. As a friend pointed out, these disparate experiences may also stem from whether frats and sororities are prevalent on campus or not. After all, what does it mean to live in an alternative world where men and women deliberately segregate themselves from each other, perpetuating a view of the other gender as occupying a rigid, mostly sexual, place in their lives, and cementing any innate tendency to go with the pack?

Looking at the outliers of "guyland" is just as important as looking at the core, and it's something I'd like to explore more. I'd love any feedback you, GWP readers, may have on on these constructions of masculinity and your own experiences with different (de)formations of it. You know, I began to write that last sentence with a self-deprecating, understated edge, asking whether "I had made vastly wrong anecdotal assumptions" about masculine constructions. But, really, why shouldn't I stand by what I've said?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hillary, Sarah, and Beyond...

No matter what we think of Palin (um, barf), you gotta admit it's an interesting year for women in leadership. And next Wednesday, Sept. 24, the National Council for Research on Women and Dēmos are presenting a special forum on women’s transformative leadership. Emphasis on transform. Distinguished women leaders will explore the difference women’s leadership can make to bring about real change across sectors. Deets:

12:00 – 2:00 pm
Location: Dēmos - 220 Fifth Avenue between 26th and 27th Streets, NYC

Linda Basch, President, National Council for Research on Women
Michelle Clayman, Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer, New Amsterdam Partners
Linda Tarr-Whelan, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women and Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos
Deborah Walsh, Director, Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University

Ana Duarte McCarthy, Chief Diversity Officer, Citigroup

For media accreditation, or RSVP, contact: Lisa Rast, email: lrast@ncrw.org

Mama and Papa PhD

A quick hit on a new study: The Clayman Institute at Stanford University has produced a report exploring hiring and retention issues for dual-career academic couples, and how they differ from those issues for faculty in other kinds of relationships. The full report is available for download here.

See also: Mama PhD--the editors of which will be here in NYC next month! Deets:

Monday, October 20th , 7:00 PM at Bluestockings Bookstore
Tuesday, October 21st, 7:15 PM , KGB Bar

My Fall Bloginar - Join Me!

Ok you GWP readers who want to learn more about how to blog, this one's for you. Here's the descript:

Girl w/ Keyboard: Making Waves through the Feminist Blogosphere
(Strategic Blogging for Advocates, Experts, and Organizations)

In this 5-week bloginar offered through the Women's Media Center, author and blogger Deborah Siegel will lead participants through the basics of blogging—both logistical and philosophical. Participants will leave with an understanding of how blogging is changing the media landscape—especially for women!—and the tools needed to start a blog or improve one that's already off the ground. Topics include: State of the Blogosphere, Tour of the Femosphere, Finding Your Niche, Creating Your Blog, Rules of the Road, Bells and Whistles, and more.

About the Instructor
[shameless self-promotion alert] Transforming her own blog, Girl with Pen, into required reading for the up-to-date feminist, Deborah has successfully created a presence in the world of Web 2.0. Deborah now keeps a daily web community in dialogue on the latest debates surrounding intergenerational feminism and research on women and girls across academic and popular realms. [shameless self-promotion alert ends] In this online workshop, Deborah, a graduate of the first class of the WMC's Progressive Women's Voices program, will take you on a guided tour through the blogosphere and teach you how to get your voice and ideas out there, too.

5 Tuesdays starting October 14, 7-8:15pm ET, via conference call / online

Register early and receive a discount!

For more info, please contact girlwpen@gmail.com. And please spread the word!

GUEST POST: Palin in Prada or Platforms and Maverick was Hot!

I'm late to posting today, but I think you'll agree that this one is well worth the wait! Guest Girl w/ Penner Madeline Wheeler is a newly single mother of two and writer of the social action theater piece Revealing Frankie, a memoir of childhood abuse. She is currently the Coordinator for the Palmer, MA Domestic Violence Task Force. Madeline earned a BA from Harvard and credits the positive changes in her life to the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership. Here's Madeline! - GWP

U.S. War Against Women:
Palin in Prada or Platforms and Maverick was Hot!
By Madeline Wheeler

First of all, I don’t care what Sarah Palin wears (Valentino apparently) and for those of us who grew up in the 80’s, Maverick is Tom Cruise, volleyball, tower fly-bys, and pilot in angst. And though, as of late, he is 4th on the overpaid actors list, he was Top Gun!

Now, after watching McCain ads depicting wolves crossing the tundra, worrying that Arianna Huffington might faint from outrage (her righteous indignation hits home)--not to mention that Matt Damon is seriously frightened--and hearing the word “vetted” jettisoned around the water cooler like a word-of-the-day bake off...I needed an espresso shot of reality. Yesterday, I paid for gas with a credit card and I just finished counting my change--the mortgage is due next week.

With truth blurred by a fury of lexis and linguistic limbo, and the media playing under the bar, the issues facing Americans are not dissipating. The heavy hitters remain: the economy, reforming healthcare and ending war in Iraq. But I’m wondering who will address the silent war against women happening on our own soil? Apparently, not Palin.

According to a 2006 Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault report, Alaska’s rape rate is 2.5 times the national average. Child sexual assault is almost six times the national average and Alaska ranks first in the nation with the highest homicide rate per capita for female victims killed by a male perpetrator. As an Interpersonal Violence (IPV) prevention advocate, I wouldn’t want to be wearing those shoes!

I’m for ending the war in Iraq safely and responsibly. I’m also for ending the war against women in the United States! Currently, we have more battered women’s shelters and violence prevention programs than ever, yet violence against women has reached epidemic proportions. Nationally, intimate partners murder over three women every day--3.56 to be precise.

Each morning we face the reality of war in Iraq with loss. But it is time for the cobbler to check his own shoes. If you can’t see the war against women, do the math. According to a 2006 CDC report, nearly 2 million IPV injuries occur each year among U.S women ages 18 and older, and close to 1300 deaths…bringing our five-year, six-month war against women death toll to approximately 7,155. This carnage does not include women murdered by strangers or otherwise.

If you need a dollar and cents account to seal the deal, the CDC reports that IPV costs exceed $5.8 billion each year, $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health care services.

According to the npr.org “Toll of War” website, since the invasion of Iraq, U.S. casualties have mounted to 4,148. The NPR website posts a timeline of U.S. troop fatalities against key events, along with eloquent remembrances of the fallen.

Objectors will say that the plight of American women cannot be compared to attacks on foreign soil. I’m not saying the death of troops, allies or civilians in war is acceptable, but it is expected. When considering the war, we must cling to the hope that courageous lives weren’t lost in vain, and that Iraqis have a future once only dreamt of. What, however, can we say to the increasing murder of innocent U.S. women in their own homes and environs? Wherein lies any hope or argument?

Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari and the U.S. have set the preliminary date for American troop withdrawal as June 2009. Although President Bush long resisted “timetable” vocabulary, the Whitehouse is preparing to return our 140,000 troops.

American women, however, will not be leaving their homeland any time soon.

Jewish Women International’s (JWI) Executive Director, Lori Weinstein, currently champions a petition to urge candidates to make domestic violence a priority issue (www.jwi.org). JWI and the Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition pleaded with the Democratic Party to “provide strong leadership on the issue of domestic violence, calling for expanded language in the 2008 platform.” The 2004 Democratic Platform included just one sentence--“We will help break the cycle of domestic violence by punishing offenders and standing with victims.” The 2004 Republican Platform didn’t fare any better, not mentioning it at all.

Do the 2008 Platforms meet the challenge?

After pouring over the 64-page Democratic Platform, I was pleased to see improvement over its predecessor; after all, Senator Biden championed the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, which he considers his ”proudest legislative accomplishment in 35 years in the Senate.”(www.biden.senate.gov) The 2008 Democratic Platform states, ”Ending violence against women must be a top priority. We will create a special advisor to the president regarding violence against women. We will increase funding to domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs. We will strengthen sexual assault and domestic violence laws, support the VAWA, and provide job security to survivors”--A far wolf’s cry from the 2004 meager mention.

The Republican Platform refers to” battered women” in defense of the Crime Victims Fund established under President Reagan. However, it states “Bureaucracy is no longer a credible approach to helping those in need. This is especially in light of alternatives such as faith-based organizations which tend to have a greater degree of success with problems such as substance abuse and domestic violence.” Finally, it states, “Crime in Indian country, especially against women, is a special problem demanding immediate attention.” I’ve culled the 67-page document twice and this is all I can find in reference to domestic violence (www.gop.com).

Considering the Republican platform and the state of domestic violence in Alaska, I think it’s obvious, when it comes to the U.S silent war on women; Palin’s boots were made for walking.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sideways Pic from Last Night

Team GWP with Shira Tarrant!

At Shira's bequest, I am posting this picture sideways. Because Shira and I both look taller sideways. Plus, the photo came to me sideways and I'm bad at turning them around. You can still see Shira's kickass boots. So here we are, with Kristen (who is naturally tall), celebrating Men Speak Out last night.

("Tell the truth but tell it slant"?!)

AWFO (Another Woman for Obama)

This just came in my Inbox. Please forward widely, if you see fit. - GWP


Several of us in Portland, Oregon were sitting around over a glass of wine and whining about McCain/Palin and the direction our country is taking. In the tradition of Oregon's NIKE, we decided to stop whining and just DO something…..to ask our friends and their friends, to help us raise $500,000 for Obama/Biden by October 15. That's right. $500,000! Friends…..we have a country to save for ourselves, for our kids.

If we can get 500 women from each of the 50 states of the union (and ex-pats living abroad) to send $20 into the campaign, we can raise that much. We can show that John McCain/Sarah Palin do not represent our concerns. We've got one month to do it. And we can and will do it. But not without you!. WILL YOU HELP?

Here's how to help NOW (don't put it off!)

1.Go to: http://my.barackobama.com/page/outreach/view/main/awfo and donate what you can. Do it NOW! This site is dedicated to the Another Woman For Obama campaign.

Copy this email (rather than forward it) and send it to all YOUR friends, with a personal note from YOU. Ask your husband/partner to support you by including his/her friends as well. Never underestimate the power of women who are "mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore"! BE THE CHANGE. …..and thanks for your outrage and action!

You can track our progress toward our goal by using the same website.

Joanie Campf and Jane Comerford

Portland, Oregon

XY Files: Men, Dudes, and Guys

Last night I went to hear Shira Tarrant and the guys from Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power read from the book at Bluestockings. I was very moved, hearing these men read. It kind of reminded me why I'm in this line of work to begin with. Thank you, Shira, and thank you, feminist dudes. You are everyday heroes, all.

Picture to follow soon.

Meanwhile, just came across today's review of Michael Kimmel's Guyland by Salon's James Hannaham. The review begins:
Imagine a world where you can't express your feelings. Where women are treated as objects or bargaining chips, and alcoholism and drug abuse are the norm. Where you must reject your own mother, and your father will rebuff you. You'll belong to a kind of cult that demands that you ostracize anyone who doesn't follow the group's twisted values. This cult may pressure you into physically and sexually abusing someone incapable of fighting back. If you're an American guy age 16-26, congratulations. You probably live there already.
Read the rest.

New Offering from GWP: Wordpress Website Customization

So my dear colleague Kristen Loveland, the mastermind behind www.deborahsiegel.net, my new customized Wordpress site, is currently engineering the look of the new Girl w/ Pen group blog launching later this month. I can't say enough good things about this gal, who is joining me as co-Girl w/ Penner-in-Chief as we relaunch in group form. Her work speaks for itself.

And lucky for others, she is branching out with her customization services, and offering a 10% discount to anyone who comes to her through GWP! Ladies and gents in need of a website, I give you: Kristen. Here's a description of how it works:

Need a website—fast—but don't have vast resources to invest? Kristen Loveland, a Wordpress customization consultant and web site builder, offers a unique solution. Skilled at using Wordpress' free and open-source platform to build personalized websites for authors, thinkers, feminists, and really, anyone else, Kristen is a writer/feminist blogger herself who understands how to create that unique internet presence in order to mainstream your blog, advertise your workshops, or highlight your latest publications. Because Kristen uses Wordpress as a platform, her websites are cost-effective and easy-to-use. Once built—in only four to six weeks after consultation—Kristen will teach you how to make most updates to the website yourself.

Mention GWP and receive a 10% discount!
For more information, contact Kristen at Kristen.Loveland@gmail.com.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Save Bitch!

SOS from my friends at the fabulous magazine Bitch: Feminist Critique of Pop Culture:
The print publishing industry as a whole is staring into a void. Across the board, newsstand magazine sales are in a slump, subscriber numbers are down, and paper and postal costs continue to rise. But it's not magazines like US Weekly or Vogue that you'll see disappearing from the newsstands—they have the parent companies and the resources to weather industry ill winds. It's the small, independent magazines like Bitch that will disappear, because the odds are already stacked high against us. And simply put: We need to raise $40,000 by October 15th in order to print the next issue of Bitch....
Read the rest.

Wall Street Woes 101

For those looking for an insider's explanatory take on what's happening over on Wall Street, I refer you to Purse Pundit's blog. For those of you who don't yet know Jacki Zehner, the pundit behind the punditry over there, she's a frequent media commentator on women’s success in the workplace, women and wealth, investing, and philanthropy. She was the youngest woman, and first female trader, to be invited into the partnership of Goldman Sachs. The woman knows her sh*t.

And for a lyrically philosophical take on the Wall Street catastrophe as played out in Times Square, from the perspective of a visual observer, check out Marco's latest at OpenSalon, titled "Dystopia Now."

Girl w/ Cool Shirt

Check out this new shirt from feministing, based on a phrase Ann Friedman employed in an American Prospect article titled "McCain's Sexist VP Pick." Nicely done.

Tina Fey as Palin (In Case Anyone Missed It!)

See also: Eve Ensler, "Drill, Drill, Drill"

Couldn't not post these. Enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Polar Bear Moms Against Palin

So surprise, surprise: In spite of the Palin-o-mania that seems to have taken this screwy nation of ours by storm, it appears not all women of Alaska all agree. Check out WaPo's coverage of the Palin Protest held in Anchorage, and the footage posted on YouTube, above. Some memorable slogans from the march:

Bush in a Skirt
Jesus Was a Community Organizer
Palin: Thanks But No Thanks
Smearing Alaska’s Good Name One Scandal @ a Time
Candidate To Nowhere
Rape Kits Should Be Free
Barbies for War
Sarah Palin: So Far Right She’s Wrong
Coat Hangers for McCain
Sarah Palin, Undoing 150 Years of American Feminism
Hockey Mama For Obama
McPalin Out of My Uterus

Some of the protesters--in particular, two organizers of a group named Alaska Women Reject Palin--have received threatening and abusive phone calls, instigated by KBYR talk radio host Eddie Burke, who shared the names and phones numbers of the two contacts on-air. More about all that here.

And meanwhile, Women Against Sarah Palin put up a blog asking women to send in their thoughts about Sarah Palin and have received a whopping 120,000 responses.

Keep an eye out for a post here at GWP soon on what all this "Women Against" business is REALLY about.

Vote Acqui

Monday greetings!

Ok, so it's not Nov 4th yet and this current poll is of far less magnitude, but the votes over here at this month's GWP poll (-->) seem to be favoring keeping the current tagline vs. changing it. Interesting. 5 more days remaining to throw your 2 cents into the pool.

We're also playing with a title for the group version, which is launching real soon. Girls w/ Pen? Girls w/ Pens? Something else? We're open to suggestions! If anyone's got one, please share in comments. Thank you!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sex and Sensibility: Removing the Kid Gloves

Sex and Sensibility
Sex and Sensibility is a weekly column from Kristen Loveland that seeks to put the reasoned voice of a young woman in her 20's into the "sex wars" fray. Sometime member of the "hook-up generation" and frequent skeptic of the social, cultural, and sexual messages young women receive from the religious right and national media, Kristen provides a voice for a much-discussed generation that has had little chance to speak up for itself.

Removing the Kid Gloves
by Kristen Loveland

In an article appearing in Wednesday's New York Times titled “Girl Talk Has Its Limits,” the lives of young girls are once again put under the microscope for inspection by a pack of inquisitive adults. Not content to explore the sexual landscape of Miley Cyrus, cultural scrutiny now delves into female friendships and asks whether girls really should be talking, or “co-ruminating”, with each other so much, because “[s]ome studies have found that excessive talking about problems can contribute to emotional difficulties, including anxiety and depression.”

First of all, this is old news. My roommate’s abnormal psychology textbook from 2004 notes, “It is known that rumination is likely to maintain or exacerbate depression, in part by interfering with instrumental behavior.” Notice the terms “maintain” and “exacerbate”—the depression derives not from the rumination itself but from another source.

Unsurprisingly, one of the not-so-hidden assumptions of this article is that girls have an unhealthy obsession with boys:
“I could see it starting already,” she said, adding that she has made a concerted effort recently not to dwell on her own problems with friends and to try to stop negative thoughts. “From sixth grade, it’s boys are stupid, boys have cooties,” she said. “And then it progresses to boys have cooties but 20-year-old cooties. So you might as well change it when you can."
Ah yes, the fragile female psyche. I might ask why the author wasted over 1,000 words devoted to a question bound to lead to a dead end. After all, will you ask your daughter to bottle up her worries instead? I might also ask why the author used fictional models from Heathers, Mean Girls, Sex and the City, and Gossip Girl for female friendship. Sure, I’ll admit that I talk to my girl friends—a lot. I get a feeling of distinct pleasure when I look at my cell’s phonebook, considering which of my good friends I should call next to ruminate about “so-and-so who failed to call” or “you’ll never guess who showed up last night” or “is it just me, or does she seem a bit self-centered lately?” But these exchanges have never quite reached the dramatics of a Lindsey Lohan-led cast, though they might be a lot more interesting if they did.

While I’d like to say that the article’s author clearly hasn’t seen enough Woody Allen movies, it’s true that females are more prone to clinical depression than males. Nonetheless, it seems rather facile to place 1,000 words of emphasis on co-rumination as explanation—even irresponsible as I watch the article trek up the New York Times “Most Emailed” list. Because in the end the article (note its placement in the Fashion & Style section) is simply another of those proprietary “What’s wrong with our young women?” pieces that will make the rounds of forwarded email and provide all too simplistic answers for questions that really deserve more complex consideration. What’s wrong with our young women? They talk to each other too much. What’s wrong with our young women? They’re too superficial. What’s wrong with our young women? They give away the milk for free.

While newspapers and magazines are understandably aching to draw readers in, we can’t ignore the implications of such incessant prying into young women’s lives. It’s noteworthy that so many articles focus, or place the blame, on the actions of young women themselves (friendships, sexual relations, drinking habits, college experiences, etc.), instead of on the society in which they are raised. But perhaps we aren’t so much interested in solving “the young women problem” as in lifting back the curtain to sneak a covert glance at that object of intense public fascination: the Miley Cyruses, the Britol Palins, and all the other bright young female things that seem so troubled. As one writer notes, “The modern American female is one of the most discussed, most written-about, sore subjects to come along in ages.”

The funny thing is, that was actually written back in 1957, which means the new ain’t so new. A young Nora Johnson was talking about "Sex and the College Girl" in the 50s, the era of the domesticated and constrained female, who kowtowed to the reasonable, responsible expectations of society. Yet Johnson’s description of her generation struck me as so relevant to today:
We are deadly serious in our pursuits and, I am afraid, non-adventurous in our actions. We have a compulsion to plan our lives, to take into account all possible adversities and to guard against them. We prefer not to consider the fact that human destinies are subject to amazingly ephemeral influences and that often our most rewarding experiences come about by pure chance.
Those are my italics. I emphasize that last line, because I think it is something we often forget as a society, perhaps in an effort fill the news feed, perhaps in an effort to re-corset our daughters. Depression and anxiety are, of course, conditions to be treated seriously. But efforts to analyze each and every aspect of young American women’s lives, (always premised, of course, on a concern for those young American women’s well-being), is a form of the strictest regulation, and ignores the intense wonder of unknowing and chance.

Whenever I read stories implying that we should worry about such-and-such an aspect of young women’s behavior, I picture an invalid who lives to be a hundred by lying on her sofa all day. But does she live? And is she any more psychologically sound for having been removed from experience all these years—or has her mind warped in on itself, obsessively concerned with the minutiae in life because she has never known the larger things? Shouldn’t we... wait, sorry, I had to catch myself there for a second. I’m afraid I was getting rather alarmist.

Anyway people, remove the kid gloves.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hot Crossed Monogamy

Passing along info on an event in NYC this Saturday that I sadly can't attend -- but maybe you can (and can tell me about it!):

Mating in Captivity: Sexuality and Monogamy Roundtable

Participants: Michael Kimmel, Pamela Paul, Esther Perel, Owen Renik (moderator)

September 13, 2008, 2:30 PM

This roundtable will address the ways in which monogamous partnerships affect sexual desire, sexual function, and sexual need. How do secrets and risky behaviors play a role in undermining domestic stability and trust, while potentially enhancing sexual activity? Does domestic partnering imperil our inherent sexual drive? Is it more beneficial to preserve the stability of the family unit than to explore one's sexuality to the fullest? Is it possible to do both? What are the chemical and structural influences that play a role in this dynamic? The multidisciplinary panel will examine these questions and the way that imagination can play a role in the sexual dynamic of marriages and long-term sexual partnerships.

Sponsored by
THE PHILOCTETES CENTER FOR THE MULTIDISCIPLINARY STUDY OF IMAGINATION (how's that for the name of an institute?!) at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute.

If anyone goes and wants to blog about it here, door's WIDE open :)

XY Files: Single Dads By Choice

I read with interest an article on single dads by choice in this weekend's NYTimes, titled "The Bachelor Life Includes a Family." Says a 46-year old doctor from Miami who is interviewed for the piece, “I’ve always felt that I wanted fatherhood to be a part of my life,” he said. “It’s just a core part of who I’ve always been. I absolutely would want a partner, but I couldn’t let my life wait for that random event.” Sound familiar, ladies? Seems men, too, hear the ticking of their biological clock.

Stats on single fathers by choice are few, but according to the article their numbers are growing. Surrogacy agencies say most of these men are gay, agencies say, but there are straight men seeking to become fathers too. Some figures:

-"Gail Taylor, a founder of Growing Generations, one of the largest surrogacy agencies with about 100 births a year, said 24 percent of its clients this year are single men, both gay and straight. That number is double what it was three years ago."

-"Last month, the National Center for Health Statistics issued the first federal survey of men and women on adoption. It found that men age 18 to 44 are twice as likely as women of the same age group to have adopted a child. That men are more likely than women to adopt their stepchildren accounts for part of the gap. But, the report said, about 73,000 never-married men had also adopted a child, a group that includes those who are single fathers by choice."

Interesting, and also raises tough questions. Does anyone know a single father by choice? I'd like to interview a bunch for my next book. Please let me know, and many thanks!

Image cred