Thursday, December 28, 2006

A New Low

I was planning on complaining that in the New York Times style section today an article on your BMI shows photos of all scary skinny women representing low BMIs and average to obese (by BMI standard) men. (The one exception being Rosie O'Donnell on the high BMI end). But Gawker one-upped me on the comment on the strapless bra story. They call it brainless and fail to see the news hook. But I disagree. I am personally a great fan of any kind of bra story that can be dreamed up. Bras are the bane of woman. Who doesn't get that? Gawker. I guess.

Anyway, in a year that got attention for being more bottomless than topless, can't we be a little bit happy about having a story where people are still wearing under-things?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Let's Review

This came to me From Katha Pollitt by way of Deirdre English: The Women's Review of Books is back. I always think it's curious that there's such a huge interest in women's popular culture with only a minor shrug to women in literature. (OK, when Britney Spears is showing her cha cha in front of god and everyone you've certainly got my attention more than an expository essay on Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Where is Camille Paglia when we need her?) It sounds like the new and improved journal is being revamped to be more relevant to a broader audience. Hell, I'll probably subscribe. Here's Pollitt's note:


Was Elizabeth Cady Stanton a racist-- or way ahead of her time? Do men and women really speak different languages --Martian and Venusian-- or do they both talk Earthling? What’s up with America’s obsession with black men’s penis size, anyway?

If you subscribe to the Women’s Review of Books, you’re up to date on these and many other topics, from Doris Lessing’s latest novel and Hirsi Ali’s latest polemic to the economics of prostitution and the sociology of abstinence-only sex ed . If you don’t yet know the WRB, you’ve been missing a lot -- great reviewing from Vivian Gornick, Dorothy Allison, Tricia Rose, Rosalind Barnett and Caryl rivers, Ann Snitow, the distinguished economist Barbara Bergmann and many other provocative writers and scholars, to say nothing of poems, cartoons, photographs and the ever-lively letters section.

I can’t tell you how often I hear complaints about the short shrift paid to books written by women in mainstream newspapers and magazines, and the lack of women -- and especially feminist women -- reviewers. Important books, both academic and general-interest, simply don’t get reviewed. Or are reviewed, how shall I put this, unintelligently. The WRB represents a real alternative -- for books, for reviewers, and for its many enthusiastic readers. If you care about women, about scholarship, about fiction, about books -- you need to be part of the conversation at WRB!

A subscription to WRB makes a great holiday present -- for friends, relatives, your public library, or yourself! And nothing could be easier -- just visit and click on “subscribe.” A year of Women’s Review of Books—six great issues full of reviews, essays, poetry, author interviews, and artwork by cartoonists and photographers—costs $33. That’s about the price of two CDs or dinner for two at one of those great little neighborhood places that don’t exist any more..

Happy holidays, happy reading,
and please forward this letter to people who might be interested!

Katha Pollitt

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's the Policy, Stupid

This is the kind of story that sends me into a tailspin. I so often try to imagine my life as a mother, and it bears no resemblance to my life now. Why? Because I can't figure out how to integrate my work with parenting. And it's not like my work does a bad job, probably better than most with working moms. But it's hard out here for a mom. Check out this piece in Alternet today that gives a hard-nosed economic reality check about how we as a country will fail unless we make the workplace work for moms. Check it out here.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Urban Jungle and Just Jungle

I'm not a nature girl. I did spend six months in Kenya when I was in college, much of it spent hiking and camping outdoors, and I figure I've done my time. Since then, I am comfortable viewing nature through the window of a four-star hotel, and a closed one at that.

I made an exception at our latest vacation to Mexico at a high-end resort near Puerto Vallarta. It was one of the most physically beautiful places I've visited -- thick jungle hillside up from a stunning patch of beach not too ruined by the boat loads of cruise-ship day trippers.

But nature had a way of finding us even if we weren't looking for it. My husband was stung by a scorpion as he was putting on a shirt to go to lunch (that's what he gets for being civilized). A scorpion sting is nasty and painful, but usually not deadly. The poison hits the nervous system and runs its course, trying to close off the throat and paralyze the limbs. Larry went numb, went pale through his sunburn, then was taken on the back of the man they called "the rabbit" down the hill at a dead run to the village doctor. The doctor had clearly seen worse. Es normale, he kept telling us when Larry would moan his next symptom. But hours later, he walked himself back up the hill to a waiting glass of tequilla.

Before I left, I wrote about my encounter with wildlife in San Francisco, which aired on KQED. You can listen here.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Here's the Plan

NARAL is calling for us to contact major pharmacy chains and demand they stock Plan B. Add your name to the petition here.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

How Do You Cope?

Hear my essay on retail therapy on the latest edition of B-Side in a show all about coping that's hosted at a bar with Tamara Keith. For me, shopping wasn't just an escape. It was a strategy. A plan of attack on the senseless path life sometimes takes. You can listen by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

No Plan for Plan B

Emergency contraception is great in concept, but not so great in execution. Although this should really be something everyone, pro-choice and anti-choice should get behind (it's the medication that keeps athe sperm from fertilizing the egg -- no fetuses are harmed in the stopping of this pregnancy) and can avert unwanted pregnancies. That's the good news. The bad news is, many people who need the time-sensitive drug, can't get it. Read about this piece on Women's eNews as printed in AlterNet.

Since it can be dicey to get ahold of it when you need it, it's good to get it in advance and keep it on hand for when you really need it. And guess what, men can get it, too. So, guys: along with your condom stash, keep some EC in your cabinet next to the mouth wash.

Here's a snippet:

Because of its new non-prescription status, Carol Cox, a spokeswoman for Barr Labs, told Women's eNews that the distributor does not expect insurance companies to provide coverage for it and that Medicaid does not cover Plan B in all states.

Health advocates recommend that, because it can still be difficult to buy Plan B on a timely and affordable basis, women should buy the emergency contraception even if they don't need it, just to be on the safe side.

Women who can't afford to buy Plan B can try clinics in some regions, such as Planned Parenthood, that will provide the product on a sliding-fee basis.

Because of the age restriction imposed by the FDA, most women under 18 years old must still acquire a prescription for it.

Exceptions are women under 18 who live in Alaska, Hawaii, California, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, or Vermont. They may be able to get Plan B directly from a pharmacist who participates in the state's pharmacy access program, according to the National Women's Law Center. States in this program allow Barr to ship the drug directly to participating pharmacists, rather than stores.

Monday, December 04, 2006


I'm on the hunt for my new perfect bag. It doesn't have to be THE "it" bag, just my "it" bag. As in: this is it!

But so far, the bags have been so incredibly large as to not just accomadate everything I could dream of stuffing into it (umbrella, wallet, sweater, large book, two pairs of glasses, bagel sandwich, two apples, small cat) but weighed half my body weight even before I began testing the capacity of the bag. (Note: cat did not appreciate said test.)

It used to be that bags were too small, too dainty, to ever meet my growing needs. I carried a backpack for years. Then after graduating from graduate school, swore off and switched to a grown-up Kate Spade bag the size of a piece of luggage. (I'm not kidding: it is actually offered as luggage in her store).

That really put me over the edge and had to be retired. The luggage now has a new life on top of my rolly bag. But I needed a replacement. I got something called a "hobo" (now I can just look like one) that is a slouchy carryall that carries almost everything, although I must take that too literally because the strap has broken not once but twice from the groaning weight of my "essentials."

Now I think I've found my new perfect bag. It's a Chloe, and it's very much the "it" bag, so it can't be mine. It costs as much as a month's rent. Maybe I could live in it.

12/6/06 Update: Lots of Baggage

So it seems I'm not the only one with the large-bag problem. The NY Times Style section has a cover story on the over-sized bag causing lots of overly fashionable women back and neck pain. One of the humungo-bags, by Chanel, has been described as looking like its only slightly less glamorous cousin, the garbage bag. Well, at least it's a Chanel garbage bag.