Thursday, August 31, 2006

Our Right to Shoes

The other day, when Lisa Jervis and Andi Zeisler were on KQED's Forum to promote Bitchfest, their anthology of 10 years of Bitch magazine, a woman called in. The second-wave feminist was bemoaning the backlash of back-breaking shoes. I thought we'd won this war, she said. But now women are running around in ridiculous shoes again. I think she may even have thrown in Sex and the City as Exhibit A of the bad-for-you-shoes.

Then I talked to my mom a few days ago. Actually, she called me from the streets of Manhattan to tell me about a shoe sale I was missing. A good one. She was trying on a pair of shoes that were just perfect. Buying them, and wearing them out the door. She called back to tell me they were very comfortable. At four inches, she told me, the shoes felt so comfortable it was like walking in slippers.

My mom, I might add, also of the second wave. She marched. She attended hootenannies. She even, in high school, protested the no-sandals dress code by wearing boots in the summer. Don't think feminism isn't without a sense of humor.

I guess one woman's battleground is another woman's suit of armor. It is, after all, a right we've won. Our right to shoes.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Space of Our Own

B-Side Radio -- the show I help produce -- has finally caught the MySpace vibe -- a little late, but better than never. Check out our MySpace page. You can listen to some recent shows and, you know, send us love notes, or be our friends, or whatever it is you do with MySpace.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Billie Jean Way

I love that the woman who beat the pants off Bobby Riggs in the battle of the sexes tennis match back in 1973 and opened doors for women athletes and, well, women in general, in countless ways, now has the U.S. Open Tenns Center named for her.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Marie Antoinette: Style Queen

Apparently I'm not the only one with an eye on the monarchy. This Sunday's New York Times Style magazine insert featured Marie Antoinette as a French fashionista. The teen queen had a passion for fashion, and, as Antonia Fraser notes in her book on the style icon, the craze of her courtiers to follow in her oh-so-chic shoes led more than one husband to go bankrupt. Suddenly the look of Marie Antoinette is once again now.

What are we to make of this trend? A woman beheaded as the last Queen of France, during her reign of incredible excess (hers) and incredible hardship of everyone else? Maybe it's fun to popularize that century's real-life Cruella DeVille. After all, would she have been remembered if she hadn't made the notorious remark during the Flour War when people were starving, to "mangent de la brioche" when bread -- the food staple of the French -- cost half of a working person's income?

A little bit of style certainly goes a long way.
The Forbes Mystique

How did this one slip past the editors at

An article that could have been at home in the 50s found its way on the Forbes Web site: Don't Marry a Career Woman. Really. Are career women too uppity for the delicate sensabilities of the readers? And, given that Forbes is a business publication, wouldn't these same working women that Forbes warned their male readership away from actually be the target audience of Forbes?

Turns out, not very many people at all read Forbes. The New York Times reported today that their readership is overblown, despite their feminist-baiting articles.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Plan B Prescription-Free

Finally, the FDA approved Plan B to be available over the counter (but still behind the counter) to women over 18. Plan B will be in your local drugstores (we hope) by the end of the year. Was that so very hard to figure out?

By the way, Planned Parenthood recommends heading to one of their clinics to pick up a package of Plan B to have on hand as back up birth control. This seems especially good advice if you're under 18 and need a doctor's note. You never know when you'll need to go to Plan B.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Cake Eater

She was spoiled, young, misunderstood. And she was the Queen of France. She thought she was beloved, but the jewels and outrageous outfits and opulance of Versailles were far more expensive than the taxies levied on the people of France. They cost her her head.

Marie Antoinette is making a popular come back. I'm reading the tome by Antonia Fraser. A movie starring Kristen Dunst as the teen queen and directed by Sofia Coppala comes out this fall. And a documentary film by David Grubin (who I once interned for in college) will be airing on PBS.

Certainly she is fascinating, in the way a car crash attracts attention -- you can't look away. And her story is larger than life, great fodder for melodrama no matter how it's staged. Still. It's a little creepy to know that in some ways, she'll be viewed with sympathy. Her mother, Austrian royalty, ruled her family and husband while telling her daughter to submit to her French king. She married off her youngest at the age of 14 to form a successful alliance in France. Fraser in her book even describes Marie Antoinette as a spy and a sleeper cell for her mother.

Apparently, Sofia Coppala's homage is post-modern, with the cake-loving queen clad in Converse sneakers and rocking out to Siouxsie and the Banshees. The movie was booed at Cannes, although I'm not sure if it was because it was an impressionistic rather than historic portrayal, or if it was simply too kind to the woman who inspired a revolution. Or if that's just French.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Lovely Lush

"I don't care what is written about me so long as it isn't true."

Okay, Dorothy Parker, here goes.

I can't sign off tonight without a toast to that literary luminary, whose birthday is today. She was quick with the quip, and quicker with the liquor.

Her wit was dry, even if she was never without a drink.

She fought depression and alcoholism her entire life. She would probably say she didn't fight them at all.

But who better to lay out her accomplishments as one of the most quoted American writers than Dorothy Parker herself.

I'm never going to accomplish anything; that's perfectly
clear to me. I'm never going to be famous. My name will never
be writ large on the roster of Those Who Do Things. I don't
do anything. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails,
but I don't even do that any more.

What a dame.
Plan B Gets A-OK

Bush's news conference gave me one piece of news I didn't already know: he supports Plan B. Did I hear that right? Bush-backed birth control? Apparently, this is so. And so the FDA should make it so. Get Plan B out. Now.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fear Factor

I always thought that the reason that amusement parks had been built was to manufacture fear that we, as Americans, could never experience by living in this cush of a country.

But as this latest terror threat reminds me, fear is an amazingly effective tool. (Panic attacks over hand cream? Terror in my lip gloss? You can't make this up.)

A preview for the movie Snakes on a Plane announced a long list of phobias. Fear of flying. Fear of snakes. Fear of small places. In some ways, these kind of fears are so quaint. We have drugs to deal with these little inconveniences, people. But drugs to deal with bomb-wielding terrorits? Or how about drugs to deal with endless lines at the airport and forgetting to take your toothpaste out of your carry-on luggage? It's no surprise we're all looking for a little suspension of reality, when real-life has become more cinematic than any movie could have imagined. One review called it Flight 93 without the tears.

So I was wondering how this blogger-fueled madness for the movie Snakes on a Plane would do, even with Samuel L. Jackson. Even with snakes. On a mother ***** plane.

Of course, this kind of horror-tainment is closer to the amusement park rides than any real-life event. And yet. When a beauty product or a bottle of water marks you as a potential threat, maybe this is a move whose time has come. Snakes bringing a plane down? Now replace snakes with toothpaste and you have our summer blockbuster.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Michael Krasney Said Bitch!

Lisa Jervis and Andi Zeisler, founders of Bitch, are being interviewed on KQED's Forum program right now celebrating 10 bitching years. Check out their interview, or better yet, buy the book, Bitchfest.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What's the Plan for Plan B?

To paraphrase Gloria Steinem, if men needed to take Plan B, do ya think the FDA would be stalling to get it approved the way it is now? This is a no-brainer, people. It's safe. It's effective. It would prevent abortions. What more of an agument do you need? Apparently, much more. Tell the FDA to just do it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

It's the Exceptions, Stupid

Check out this latest poll about the South Dakota abortion ban that shows that even more people are against the no-rape-or-incest exceptions law.

It's pretty amazing that in such a conversative state, people are being forced to confront their anti-abortion views against the hideous idea that a woman who was sexually assaulted would be forced to bring to term the outcome of that union.

But there it is, in black and white, right in the ban. Not only does it clearly not hold water constitutionally, it doesn't hold weight with S. Dakota residents, either.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Exploding Lip Gloss

I've been told that my collection of lip stick, lip gloss, lip blam, sheer tints, chap stick and the like is a bit much. But explosive? That's a first.

Since the feds have banned liquids or gels from being carried on planes due to the thwarted terrorist plot to bring on bottled chemicals that looked like your average Dasani bottle, I've had to re-think my lips. I'm not sure how the leap from liquid explosives to lip gloss came about, but there it is. That must be one powerful ingredient that could fit into a lipstick tube to bring down a whole plane.

Not that I'm questioning the feds. I mean, if anyone knows how to keep us safe, it's them. Maybe, as Condi Rice would say, this crisis also means opportunity. Maybe someone can invent some special kind of terror-free lip product that's airplane friendly. FAA requirements met. It might go on a little thick, but that's to make up for the feds reasoning, which is a bit thin.

Update: August 14
Hooray! CNN just reported that "Ladies, you can now bring a tube of lipstick on the plane." Still no lip gloss -- that's still too explosive.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pining for P-Town

It's summer and the world is heating up, terrorists are causing fear in airports in real life and snakes are causing fear on planes in the movie theaters, and I am thinking about P-Town.

That's Provincetown, Cape Cod. The little funky town where my mom and her parents would decamp from New York City, where she spent all her childhood summers, and then where my sis and I spent ours. We stayed at 535 Commercial Street, known to us as the Kibbutz (and about as close to one as I've ever come). Aside from my grandparents, who had rented a small apartment right on the water there year after year, was Roz Roos, who held a famous literary salon in New York, Al Jaffee, of Mad magazine fame, Art Bloom, the clarinetist who taught Woody Allen (but he was better known for having the best door to play hand ball) and Chaim Gross, artist. My mom threw a birthday party for my sis, August 12, and the entire Kibbutz would turn out. Often, we were the only kids there. Even though it wasn't a typical type of birthday party for a kid, it felt terribly glamorous and Carolla always got so many presents she never seemed to mind.

For two kids who spent most of the year shuttled between divorced parents and daily life with a very protective mom, P-Town was our playground for a few glorious weeks a year. Where the kids left the house at sun up and didn't come home till after dark. The water lapped the piers and usually once a summer some storm would rip the staircase that led down to the beach straight off. The staircase was about 10 steps down to the beach, and the tide came in so high we could start swimming from the steps. Then went out so far we could run and play tag on the flats for miles.

We collected shells, sand crabs and minnows, stubbed our toes, begged for empty cigar boxes from the 5 and dime and scrounged for forks that fell through the cracks of the restaurants on the pier next to ours. It was P-Town where I first saw the Wizard of Oz (my sister was so scared by the wicked witch my mom had to leave early and buy her ice cream), where I discovered the stark beauty of the dunes and had my first date. (I was nine. He was 10. He took me to the drive-in. His mother drove.)

I read today in the New York Times that everyone, and hey, myself included, is avoiding summer vacations these days. But noone would if they had a time like we had in P-Town.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Plan for Plan B

Looks like the FDA is serious about getting Plan B over the counter. The catch? Only those 18 and over can partake. Right, because anyone can buy a condom, but I'm sure the only ones that break are the ones used on women who are also old enough to vote.

The Onion has thought through the ramifications of Plan B for the over-18 crowd, too.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Worlds Are Colliding

Bitch has hit big-time: Bitch magazine co-founder Andi Zeisler was Deborah Solomon's interview subject in the Sunday New York Times magazine. As snarky as Solomon's question got, Andi lobbed back. Example: on naming the magazine Bitch:

Q.: But is the goal to rouse an entire generation of women to become bitches?
A.: We have always sort of concentrated more on the active form of "bitch." As in, to bitch. And, actually, as grammar nerds, that was one of the big factors in choosing "bitch." Hey, it's a noun and a verb.

The angle of Solomon's interview was basically summed up in one of her last questions about whether feminism is being undermined by, of all places, Bitch:

"Doesn't the obsession with pop culture risk trviliazing feminism?"

OK. So it's not enough that feminism has brought about the expectation of gender equality in, oh, I don't know, the workplace. Schools. Domestic life, even. But Bitch isn't serious enough because the mag bills itself as feminist but deals with sexuality and not policy? TV shows instead of TV news? People, we live in a culture that is over-exposed to media, advertising and images that need to be addressed from a feminist perspective. Because if Bitch doesn't do it, who will?

Bitch is getting noticed for celebrating 10 um, bitching years. For me, it's personal. It was one of the first places I ever published. My first piece for the newly minted 'zine was all about the Wonder Bra. I should better say, I ranted about the Wonder Bra. Since then, we've had the Miracle Bra, the bareley there bra, the T-shirt bra. I have still never worn a bra that claimed to be wonderful. But Bitch sure is.

P.S. The other great thing I forgot to add: heh, heh: New York Times said "bitch."

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Goy Gone Wild

Global warming. Horrific violence in the Middle East. Mel Gibson. Does one of these things not go with the others? In the midst of global death and destruction, I was shocked, shocked to hear that Mel Gibson, of all people, director of The Passion of the Christ, son of a Holocaust denier, founder of bizarre sect of Catholicism that even the Pop eschews, is an anti-Semite! But only when drunk.

To avoid the press, and I guess, the Jews, he’s slinked off to the Betty Ford center swearing off tequila and what-not and now everyone seems to have a suggestion about how he can repent! (That sounds very, um, Christian, doesn’t it? Can’t we do something more Jewy, like have him just feel bad for the rest of his life? I like that idea so much better. Oh, wait, he could throw money at the problem! That’s tres Jewish!)

On top of that, it’s been such a fun water-cooler topic trading tips on what Mel might have said. He might have called the officer who pulled him over “Sugar Tits.” This from the man who co-starred opposite foxy Rene Russo in all those Lethal Weapons flicks? I guess I should have stopped expecting much from him long ago.

But still, you have to wonder how a guy who's been in Hollywood so long could still harbor so much provincial hate -- after all, he's not someone who's never met a Jew before. He really has run out of excuses.

You know, the saddest thing is how far he’s fallen. From being the guy whose impish face and hot bod I’d see up in my girl friends’ dorm rooms for a little hero worship to being the same face that now works fine for target practice. Oy!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Poll Tells It All

The good news: A poll on the S. Dakota abortion ban says a majority of S. Dakotans disapprove of such a punitive law with no rape exception. The ban, intended to be a challenge to Roe v. Wade, was so extreme that even the extremists are having second thoughts. But we're not there yet. The ban still needs to be overturned by voters in November.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Why We Fight

Today in Salon, Michelle Goldberg writes a chilling tale from Mississippi from the frontlines of the abortion wars. You can get a day pass to enter the site and read the piece for yourself. But here's a taste:

"We're not waiting for the president, we're not waiting for the Congress, we're not waiting for the Supreme Court," Benham told me a few days before the rally. "This issue can't be won from the top down." At Benham's side for much of the week was Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade, who since 1995 has been an evangelical antiabortion activist. "It would really please the Lord God if Mississippi becomes the first abortion-free state," she said, as she stood in front of the Jackson Women's Health Organization one scorched morning. "Then all he'd have to worry about are the other 49." She happily reeled off the names of states where abortion bans have been introduced or passed: "South Dakota, Ohio, Louisiana…"