Tuesday, October 31, 2006

And Speaking of Ballot Initiatives . . .

A new poll shows opposition to the abortion ban in S.D. is in the lead. It's still only by a smidge, though.
No Means No

For Californians heading to the ballot box next week, there will be a sense of deja vu all over again with Prop. 85. It's the parental notification law we already voted down last election. Seems that some people just don't get that no means no. So once again, we have to vote this anti-choice intitiative down, which does nothing to foster good family communication but does a lot to endanger teen health and safety.

By requiring teens to delay abortions by 48 hours until parents are notifified, this law would put teens' health in jeopardy. It may also put teens with abusive families at risk. While ideally teens should have good, trusting communication with their parents, this is not the reality, and no government mandate can change that.

This is just one more way that anti-choice extremists are seeking to limit access to abortion services and to eventually undo Roe v. Wade.

To help defeat Prop. 85, again, please go to the campaign Web site for more info. And be sure to go to the ballot box and vote NO on Prop. 85 on Nov 7.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Dame's Eye View

Check out Diane Johnsson's review of Nora Ephron's book of essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck. My favorite part is where Johnson takes a look at the other best-seller books on the landscape and makes this connection:

We might hope that the coincidence on the best-seller lists of Nora Ephron's funny, sisterly collection of essays I Feel Bad About My Neck and Thomas Ricks's Fiasco, a book that explores the mendacity, incompetence, and corruption of the war effort in Iraq, or, this week, Bob Woodward's State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III on the same subject, implies something encouraging about our national character—our realism and appetite for self-criticism. At least the success of these books reflects, beyond their intrinsic merit, our hunger for candor. Oscar Wilde said something about England being the capital of hypocrisy, but the US, outdoing England in many of the qualities we inherited from it, may have now surpassed it there, so that the rare appearance of truthfulness is gratefully rewarded wherever it should be found. Ephron addresses many commonplace hypocrisies, among them:

Why do people write books that say it's better to be older than to be younger? It's not better. Even if you have all your marbles, you're constantly reaching for the name of the person you met the day before yesterday. Even if you're in great shape, you can't chop an onion the way you used to....

I have to say, after reading Ephron's book and definitely feeling like I would have a marvelous time having tea with her, a real laugh riot actually, it was fun to see her personal dismay about age put into context of the larger public dismay over the Iraq war. And somehow, makes me feel less guilty about thoroughly enjoying her book and deciding to stick with reading the reviews of the others.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Life Under Abortion Ban

Picture this. You need an abortion. You need one because you're poor, have too many children, or your health will suffer. You can argue that your life is in jeopardy if you carry the pregnancy to term, but you need three (3) doctors to certify this.

This is no made-up scenerio. It's Nicaragua, where exactly six legal abortions were performed last year, because every other kind of abortion has been outlawed. That doesn't mean that that cut down on the number of abortions. In fact, 32,000 unsafe, illegal abortions are performed each year, according to the New York Times. Could it happen here? If you live in South Dakota, the answer is yes.

The ban that was passed by the South Dakota legislature and signed into law by the governor (but stopped by a voter-sponsored initiative)has a familiar ring to the law passed in Nicaragua.

According to the Times:

The ban in Nicaragua comes two weeks before a hotly contested presidential election on Nov. 5, and opponents of the law say it was introduced now because no one dared to oppose it in the political climate.

Caught getting an abortion in Nicaragua and you and your doctor can get up to six years in prison, and the law is expected to add far harsher sentences. Maybe they'll draw and quarter you, or you'll get the chair. Apparently, they're seriously thinking of imposing a 30-year sentence. While I'm tempted to now go off on the power of the Catholic church in poor, developing nations where birth control and reproductive services are so desperately needed, I feel compelled to point out that South Dakota is attempting to pass the very. Same. Law.

Well I'd like to think that feminism, Roe v. Wade and our legal right to abortion has gotten us somewhere in this country, I'm terrified by the extremists who want to take us back to, well, Nicaragua.

If our like-minded, pro-choice voters stay home on Election Day in S.D., we could be looking at a similarly grim law. And it wouldn't stop there. The point of the S.D. abortion ban was to force the argument at the Supreme Court level. South Dakota, c'est moi.

If you haven't already, check out the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families site and give a hand, if you can.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Hillary Clinton's rival for the Senate, John Spencer, accused her of spending "millions" on plastic surgery. I guess he couldn't get much traction on anything else (I assume they agree on the war) so he said the B-word. Botox.

Given that you can get your Botox injection at your local mall these days, Spencer's got a pretty outsized idea about what kind of money you spend to look a bit more camera-ready. But Hillary Clinton is hardly a Hillary Duff look-alike.

I'm actally looking at a photo of Hill right now and her forehead does look smooth. On the other hand, the crows feet around her eyes and the laugh lines around her mouth scream crone. And her bod? Well, let's just say if she is getting plastic surgery, she should sue.

I have deeper ridges above my eyes, the little marks that give me away as terminally annoyed. I can't imagine that she has less of a reason to be annoyed than me.

Given that botox is a multi-billion dollar industry and everyone seems to be doing it, if Hillary did do such a thing and admitted it, she'd probably get that untapped consituency: the botox vote.

It's funny. Plastic surgery is a no-no, but hair color is completely accepted, for men and women. I don't know when that happened. But I mean, every woman you see whose hair is still brown or blond and is pushing 60 or more is not going au natural. I started going grey in my mid-30s (which I am still in) but noone would know that to look at me. So Nancy Pelosi, Clinton and friends for sure are not showing their true roots.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Madonna Don't Preach

These days it is really hard not to be completely cynical when some uber-celebrity like Madonna shows up in poverty-stricken Malawi to scoop up a child all in the name of helping Africa.

Madonna's no fool. She knows a good trend when she sees one. Apparently in her latest Confessions tour images of starving Africans appeared on a huge screen in tune with a Madonna ballad.

But this latest stunt has seriously back-fired. You know it's bad when AlterNet finds it necessary to cover this pathetic story.

I'm sure that a lot of stars have seen the Angelina Jolie effect and want in -- but keep in mind that Jolie actually has an official role with the UN. (Of course, this didn't mean that she had to go and give birth in Namibia, but she seems to be filled with righteous zeal and searching for deeper meaning than being a movie star. Maybe being the St. John knitwear model will help.)

We're consumed with images of Madonna "helping" one child, but turn a blind eye to the genocide in Darfur, to starvation, AIDS, no funding for birth control or abortions and the most rudimentary health care in so many of these nations. We need to do so much more than have our statement baby to show the world how much we care. Please, Madonna. Take your act somewhere else.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Beauty-Book Junky

There are two books attacking the same topic from different perspectives.

One, Beauty Junkies, just came out, is by one of my favorite NY Times writers, Alex Kuczynski, who writes a kind of personal as retail column in the Style section called Critical Shopper. In her shopping persona, we are voyers as she goes into stores and explores, shops, and oggles. She's a fan of shopping, but with if not a critical eye, at least a personal one.

In her new book, she confesses to have been addicted to plastic surgery. This does come as a surprise. After all, she's blond, she's brilliant, she's hot. What's to worry about? Well, she's not the only one to fall prey to the beauty industry and maybe that's the point. At least she has the smarts to feel bad about it (although only when something goes horribly wrong) and make a buck off it. I mean, everyone else is.

Of course, Bitch has been exposing the plastic surgery industry for years now. Not that I want to get picky about it, but they were writing about this stuff long before any mainstream press was too worried that elective, expensive surgery was not really something should do recreationally.

The other book is Nora Ephron's irreverent I Feel Bad About My Neck, a series of essays about aging. She says despite all the work to fight the future, it's hopeless. But she's funny about it, and turning her angst into good copy is what it's all about. I can't wait to dig in.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Dame's Eye View

S. Dakota is a battleground for choice. Ms. Magazine has an in-depth piece about the campaign to overturn the abortion ban.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hooker Chic

More on the hoooker Halloween costumes: So the Style section in the New York Times today has yet another piece on channeling your inner whore for Halloween. I'm glad they're really covering the important issues of our time. I mean, good thing we're getting all the angles on "good girls going bad" for a day. If by going bad you mean dressing bad. Have you actually seen these so-called sexy costumes? Tack-y. The Times is downright pervy in its coverage, including photos that, the Times says, evokes male fantasies (tricks). Because who doesn't want the love of their life to look like a street walker. These over-the-top, kitchy outfits look less like male fantasies than they do outfits for drag queens.

So this got me thinking: what it maybe says about Halloween is not that women have lost touch with feminism when they dress like this. They're losing touch with good taste. Which makes it even more silly, not sexy. Because, after all, they're costumes.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Horror

Here's what New York Times guest columnist Allison Glock found while looking for a mouse costume in the adult costume section of Target:

I walked past the displays for the sexy devil and the sexy bunny and the sexy leopard — which, confounding logic, was already sold out — before happening upon the wall of full adult costumes. The first was Tavern Lady, an off-the-shoulder dress and faux-leather vest. It was followed by French Maid (ruffled mini-dress with matching headpiece), Cheerleader (pleated micro-mini and fitted vest) and Wonder Woman, which had not only a nearly invisible skirt but also red vinyl boot covers that reached to the thigh.

Not that she's the first to notice that Halloween for women seems to be, instead of a slasher ghoul fest, a time to be tres sexy. Sexy ghost. Sexy cat. Sexy nurse. At a party of grad students one year, the dean of students for the journalism school at the time showed up in lingerie and said she was a Freudian slip.

I definitely plea guilty to the sexy costume charge. I mean, it's been a long time since I dressed up as a tacky tourist (7th grade) or a football player (don't ask).

Mainly, I donned red lipstick and a pout to be Marilyn Monroe, even though the holiday is so much more Marilyn Manson. I showed up in the Castro as Cat Woman, wearing a Betsy Johnson catsuit and ears and a tail, but was showed up by men wearing dresses. And maybe my best costume was at Hampshire College's Trip or Treat party, where I arrived as Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (I had glued those cool glow in the dark stars all over a short black dress), which paired well with my friend's Devil in the Blue dress costume. She carried a red trident and wore a blue dress.

I was reminded of all this while on the bus this weekend shamelessly listening in on some twentysomething's conversation about what to wear this Halloween.

She's planning to go as scary skinny, by wearing one of those skeleton suits with a bikini over it.

Target, take note. And truly, the scariest costume I can imagine.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Marriage Mission Not Accomplished

A new study by the Census shows that a majority of households are not married, making married couples for the first time a minority. Says Sunday's New York Times:

The American Community Survey, released this month by the Census Bureau, found that 49.7 percent, or 55.2 million, of the nation’s 111.1 million households in 2005 were made up of married couples — with and without children — just shy of a majority and down from more than 52 percent five years earlier.

The numbers by no means suggests marriage is dead or necessarily that a tipping point has been reached. The total number of married couples is higher than ever, and most Americans eventually marry. But marriage has been facing more competition. A growing number of adults are spending more of their lives single or living unmarried with partners, and the potential social and economic implications are profound.

“It just changes the social weight of marriage in the economy, in the work force, in sales of homes and rentals, and who manufacturers advertise to,” said Stephanie Coontz, director of public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit research group. “It certainly challenges the way we set up our work policies.”

While the number of single young adults and elderly widows are both growing, Professor Coontz said, “we have an anachronistic view as to what extent you can use marriage to organize the distribution and redistribution of benefits.”

Couples decide to live together for many reasons, but real estate can be as compelling as romance.

“Owning three toothbrushes and finding that they are always at the wrong house when you are getting ready to go to bed wears on you,” said Amanda Hawn, a 28-year-old writer who set up housekeeping near San Francisco with her boyfriend, Nate Larsen, a real estate analyst, after shuttling between his apartment and one she shared with a friend. “Moving in together has simplified life,” Ms. Hawn said.

The census survey estimated that 5.2 million couples, a little more than 5 percent of households, were unmarried opposite-sex partners. An additional 413,000 households were male couples, and 363,000 were female couples. In all, nearly one in 10 couples were unmarried. (One in 20 households consisted of people living alone).

And the numbers of unmarried couples are growing. Since 2000, those identifying themselves as unmarried opposite-sex couples rose by about 14 percent, male couples by 24 percent and female couples by 12 percent.

Fun fact: the highest number of same-sex female partners living in Hampshire County, MA, home of Northampton.

This is more than a statistic. This is my life. My partner and I lived together for 10 years before getting hitched. Many couples I know are in commited relationships, with houses and kids, who aren't married.

As adults, marriage isn't necessary to cement a relationship. It's a choice.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Is Bigger Better?

OK, so we've all lived through the great starving model controversy of Fashion Week 2006. The fashion world, the ones who parade their skinny-girl clothes for their celeb audience for a teeny lucky few who wear them and the masses who buy the fashion mags suddenly seemed horrified by what they'd produced: the demand for super-thin models.

Cut to today. In the San Francisco Chronicle today in the Style section there's a story about a plus-size model who's been getting more work these days. The reason? Obesity rates in Europe went up 10% this year. So, more fat people. And fat people buy larger clothes. The use of the "zaftig" model is supposed to be good. The onset of obesity in Europe is bad.

If there are more fat (sorry, just can't do the Rubenesque thing) models, are we embracing a positive image of women or a negative result of health? Is anyone else out there confused? Are we truly worried about what's being portrayed in the fashion industry when the general population is hardly suffering from skinniness? It all just seems, well, silly.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Remember Your First Time?

Unmarried women make up the fastest growing demographic in America -- and the least likely to vote. Women's Voices Women Vote are working to turn that around. And if just imagining the power that all those unmarried women could have if they stepped into a voting booth isn't enough to pursuade you, there's always a TV commercial to push all those voting virgins to do it on Election Day.
Ladies' Man

Feminists do have a sense of humor! Just ask Stephen Colbert. His "Salute to the American Lady" show had me rolling on the floor, for real. Special guests Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem proved that when Stephen gives you apples, you make apple pie jokes. Check it out.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Court Says No to Doe

In S. Dakota, the poll numbers are looking good -- those who plan to vote to appeal the ban are in the majority. Just like the number of Americans who believe in choice are.

So, as the right does so well, the anti-choicers are simply seeing what's working and putting out the message, wait for it: feminism is a woman's right to motherhood. That has a very surreal Stepford wives ring to it, doesn't it? I mean, right to motherhood, from a union of incest? of rape? Coz that's what this ballot measure says. I don't call that right. I call it wrong.

Meanwhile, the Supremes said No Thanks to re-thinking a part of their 1973 decision legalizing abortion. Take that, S. Dakota.
Not So Ordinary People

Check out the new show that's up on the B-Side Web site.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Have You Had One?

Well, seems we haven't come so far along, baby. In fact, if you don't want to have a baby, the laws are getting more and more restrictive. Your phrarmacist may refuse to fill your prescription. And you may have to plead with a judge to end a pregnancy you never wanted in the first place. This isn't the 60s or 70s, but retro, when it comes to telling women when and how they can be mothers, is in.

So Ms. Magazine had the idea to do something that was groundbreaking when it was first published, maybe will get some attention once again. The We Had an Abortion pledge. Made public. In their magazine. Hey, maybe we'll have to fight to have Ms. back, too. Ah, good times.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Educated Women Have More Orgasms

Not my opinion, just a new survey out from Canada. How does someone get funding for that kind of study? While I can't vouch for the scientific rigor of it, I can enjoy
the headline.

This might be the best argument for educating women I've ever heard.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Good Freakin' Idea

Women, if you're living in D.C. and are poor -- here's what you need. A man. And a wedding ring. Because we know, that's what solves socio-ecnomic problems for women: men. Men with no jobs or housing or direction. But if they're husbands, well, this changes everything -- at least if you're in D.C. That's what the "marriage-incentive" program being considered by Congress would have us believe.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Recipe for Success

Here's a perfect example of thinking creatively to make movies women will want to see:

Nora Ephron is writing the screenplay to The Julie/Julia Project -- the book by Julie Powell that was a blog about cooking every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook.

Ephron, one of my all-time fave screenwriters and who knows a thing or two about love and cooking (remember Heartburn? You can read it or rent it on Netflix)is the perfect match for this really fun read -- about an almost-30 secretary hating her life and job, married and living in a tiny Queens apartment post-9/11 New York City, and focuses her energies and talent on going through Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Every night. After work. She cooks. She cries. She writes.

Now, how cool is that for an idea for a great movie? No explosions. No big budget. I can't wait.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Hollywood, Why Don't You Call Us Anymore?

I make a habit of it to meet my best gal pals for movies and dinner when we really get excited about some chick flick. Recently, it was the Devil Wears Prada. We're also anticipating the Sofia Coppola teen-queen movie on Marie Antoinette, due out in a couple weeks. But in-between, we stick mainly to dinners. Because there's nothing out there for us.

The most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly has a cover story that asks where are all the women? In movies, in the studio, in the audience? And it makes clear, in dollars and cents, that this is an issue that Hollywood is not making sense on. Simply put, women make up half the audience. And, the movies we like are ones with a good script, not good explosions, which are much cheaper to make, and tend to do really well over time. Plus, there's an incredible talent pool. So, what's up Hollywood? Although EW is right to point out obvious lack of movies by and for women, I'm ticked for a different reason. I think Hollywood doesn't give a rat's ass about me or my girlfriends looking for a good time without our men on a Saturday night. They think that I'll just roll my eyes and let myself be dragged to X Men or Superman or whatever movie my man wants to go see, the more special effects the better.

Well, Hollywood, you can't get away with that. It's lazy. It's greedy. And it sure won't win you any awards. So get off your duffs and start making movies that the other half of the movie population wants to see. Better yet, hire some more women in high places and I won't have to waste this space explaining why making movies for the other half of the population makes sense.