Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Babes Having Babies

It's one of those weird art imitating life imitating art things. I just saw the definitive movie of a cool, indy girl keeping her baby (and Papa didn't preach). Juno is the latest in a series of movies starring women who decide to keep their babies: Waitress, Knocked Up, now Juno. (Is pregnant the new fat suit for women stars?) And in real life -- or maybe it's the surreal life -- Britney Spears's sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, is knocked up at 16. This is really inconvenient because she's touted as kind of a role model on a kids' show called Zoey 101. Well, in the Hollywood era of Lindsay Lohan, I don't think any parent should hope their kids think teen stars are exactly virginal, but there you go.

But here's the thing: Despite the cinematic baby boom, teen pregnancy has been declining, not rising, in the last decade. Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land, although it is more difficult for minors to get abortions without some parental involvement. (Studies also show that when a parent is informed, they are more than likely marching their kid down to the clinic themselves.) So I don't know what to be shocked by: the fact that kids have sex -- not a surprise. The fact that Britney Spears's sister is having a baby, well, also, no surprise. The idea that a kid would get knocked up and decline to even seriously consider an abortion (see: Juno) -- especially a smart, young woman who knows there are options -- that's weirder to me.

OK, yes, I get that in Juno, who gets pregnant after one sexual encounter with her long-time friend, there would be no movie without the gestation period. But. Does that mean no discussion of abortion? Juno tries to go to the abortion clinic but changes her mind because of some superficial details. She chooses adoption. And this, we're shown, is the harder path. She has to go through pregnancy while still in school. She misses prom. She has a complicated relationship with the adoptive parents. So by implication, abortion is the easy route. Is that truly the message our younger sisters and friends have picked up? Then the younger generation better wake up, because as this right gets whittled away, there will be new movies about young women sneaking across state lines or to Canada in order to take care of her problem. And it really won't be easy.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Fair Lady Without Singing

It is impossible to watch Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw's play named for the Greek myth, now on Broadway, without certain show tunes popping into your head at just the right moment: he really is getting married in the morning. She could have danced all night. He did it!

But instead of making me miss the musical (which I really do hope gets revived now that Pygmalion has shown to be such a show stopper) I appreciated the play even more. It's on Broadway. It stars Claire Danes. But none of that should make you think it's pandering to the populist element that is everywhere as soon as you step onto that garish street competing with shows like Mary Poppins. Eliza Doolittle does much in those two hours. She demands to be noticed. She demands to speak like a lady. And she demands love. It's in anyone's grasp. And it could be in yours, if you go see the play.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I Am Man, Hear Me Roar

Maybe it's on my mind more than usual because I'm doing a radio essay for B-Side on bra burners. Or the lack of them. You see, on the way to protesting the 1968 Beauty Pageant in Atlantic City, women almost burned their bras outside City Hall. Problem was, the famous Atlantic City boardwalk is wood. So they couldn't get a permit. Now, I hate to be a traitor to my gender, but, c'mon, would you see a man doing that? Politely putting safety over a stupid act just to make a point? Exactly. Well, maybe not exactly, but that's how today's Onion sees it. You'll see what I mean. And extra points for reading through to the Smith College reference.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

America's Most Wanted

Check out my post on the CREDO Action blog today on this show at the NYPL. It's contemporary prints and the library was shocked, shocked to see how much publicity their show was getting. Seems that as part of the show there's the Bush gang posed in lineup pics. Love it. Love it even more because Fox doesn't.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

They're In It to Win It

I don't know if this is a tipping point, but it's a pretty big deal. 11 girls were finalists in this year's major science competition for high school students, the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. Yah, they swept the competition. This isn't a fluke. And it's not tokenism. They made history and damn good science projects, too. Lawrence Summers, eat your puny-sized boy brain out.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For

Tamara Keith, host extraordinaire of B-Side, also happens to be married to an Ira. She's in radio, she's close to someone named Ira . . .you do the math. It was only a matter of time till her worlds collided.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

B-Side on Your iPod

If the writers' strike is leaving you with no TV shows to download to your iPod, consider the B-Side podcast that's now part of the NPR's alt.npr site. You can go directly online to in your ears. You'll get oodles of great shows that are the quirkier side of public radio. Plus, the coolest thing about downloading podcasts is you get to decide when to push the button. You listen when you want, where you want. I know, I know, it's shameless promotion. But I can't help it: I'm also a fan.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Diamonds or Pearls?

I know this is old news, but I've been meaning to comment, and what's a news cycle to stop me?

Hillary Clinton was asked this question during a debate: which do you prefer, diamonds or pearls? And no, the male candidates didn't get that question. It was sort of the female Clinton answer to boxers or briefs that Bill got during his now infamous MTV interview when he was first running for president. So jewelry is the question, not underthings. And what would the woman's equivalent be, anyway? underwire or sport bra? tummy control or stay ups?

Anyway, it was a question that was supposed to show a lighter side. It's a tough call, if you ask me. Diamonds are a girl's best friend, but they're also funding warlords in dirty mines in Africa. And pearls, well, they are from oysters, so you know there's gotta be some lobby somewhere against that. Or for it. I haven't a clue.

Which way did Hillary go, without time to poll? She played it safe, and in my book, she got it right.

She answered, "both."

Monday, November 26, 2007

I Hate Holidays

I know that sounds totally Scrooge. And I don't mean it that way. It's not that I'm not for goodwill toward man or peace on earth. But the problem is, that has nothing to do with the American version of the holidays. Here's how I know this. First off, as a Jew, much of the merrymaking around X-mas leaves me cold. On the other hand, Christmas used to be a great day to eat Chinese and catch the blockbuster movie that nobody bothered to see on Christmas Day. You had the streets to yourself, the movie theater barely had a line, and the Chinese food was never better. But then a funny thing happened. Everyone else figured out that the Jew's Christmas is the way to go, so we no longer cornered that market.

Christmas also used to be a great day to fly. I think that's still true, but who the hell cares anymore, since flying is miserable every day of the year now. It's not like when I used to fly with a row to myself with a bottomless glass of chardonnay by my side.

Another problem: presents. Now I enjoy shopping, probably more than the average person. But that is not what you're doing around the holidays. You're shopping with a plan. With a competitive marketing agenda egging you on. And you probably have heard this before, but it's really not like this anywhere else.

I spent one Christmas in Nairobi, Kenya, and it was all about church and a big meal. Then I spent another Christmas in Paris, and basically, same thing, with worse weather. It's only in this country where we just got nuts for stuff. And here's the real kicker. We are going down, friends. I mean, this country is sinking faster than Titantic. We're polluters, we're consumers, we're up to our ears in debt, and we're at war. The dollar isn't worth much more than a peso. But do we care? No, you hear people who have barely digested their Thanksgiving turkey salivating at the idea of a 4 a.m. wake-up call to stand outside some big-box store on some strip off some highway to buy some piece of lame crap from some other country that we didn't make but are happy to buy up as long as the price is way, way low.

So, hooray for the holidays. Now let's gird our loins and get it over with.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Want My Stephen Colbert

Look. Haven't we suffered enough? Through the endless primary campaign season, a president who gets dumber by the day and a media that's more attune to the starlet du jour than the war of the century? Haven't we? But no, on top of everything, we have to also make do with this grim reality they called life, without The Daily Show or the Colbert Report. It's too much. We're going to crack. Without all those late-night fake news shows that actually bother to watch C-Span so that we don't have to, I have lost my gallows humor and am just ready for the gallows.

Look, let's get Hollywood on the line. I'm ready to deal. Give Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert whatever they want. It's what us "kids" watch anyway, not any of your poor-excuse-for-a-TV- lineups. Yah, you were worried we wouldn't notice if your dumb shows went away, and we didn't. But our fake news shows? That's a travesty. It should be illegal. So pay these people and deal with the rest of the writers later. We'll all thank you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

35 Is the New Ms.

Unbelievable but true: Ms. Magazine has its 35th anniversary issue coming out. And in the spirit of feminism, I will say that she does look her age: this is what 35 looks like.

I have known Ms. for most of my life. And I have my mom to thank for that.
She'd stash her Ms. Magazine along with her trash magazines in the bathroom. We'd run hot bubble baths and have a read while we were having a soak.

So this was my introduction to what I should call bathtub feminism. Given Ms. Magazine’s thirty-five year status, I thought it natural to ask my mom if she remembers when Ms. first hit the newsstands. And how.

She told me she remembered reading about the ‘click’ — like an epiphany, but one realized by many, many women during this time. Ms. magazine brought to her isolated home the news that women everywhere weren’t buying the line that they were considered second-rate for carrying on the role of “women’s” work. She realized she wasn’t alone. Click!

I found the article on the “click." The article is titled, “The Housewife’s Moment of Truth,” by Jane O’Reilly, printed originally in the spring of 1972. The article starts, “It is the click! of recognition, that parenthesis of truth around a little thing . . .the moment that brings a gleam to our eyes and means the revolution has begun.”

Well, I may be late to the revolution, but I’m glad Ms. is still fighting the good fight.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Fight's Not Over

Remember that awful abortion ban signed into law by the South Dakota governor that was decisively overridden by the voters of South Dakota? Well, that victory may be in jeopardy. The ban may once again be headed for the 2008 ballot.

It was overturned just last year, thanks to a massive on-the-ground effort by pro-choice organizations. According to the local SD publication the Argus Leader.

An email from the group 40 Days for Life noted a 95 percent vote among anti-choice leaders to pursue another ballot initiative.

Stay tuned. Keep your checkbook at the ready.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Where There's a Spill There's a Way

I'm not the only one bemoaning the fate of my beautiful Bay. The MoJo blog today is saying this was one tragedy that could have been avoided. Let us count the ways. As the blog post notes:

Bottom line is, the spread of the spill was preventable. We have the technology and the wherewithal to respond to minor spills and contain them, and didn't. And that we didn't do so in a major metropolitan area with vast resources at our disposal (and it's not the first time) is less than encouraging.
Of course, this doesn't make me feel better, it makes me feel worse. If the most enlightened of cities can't get this right, is there really hope for disasters anywhere else?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Oily Residue

I have read and railed about environmental degradation, but let me tell you: nothing prepares you for how you feel when it happens in your backyard.

The San Francisco Bay is now covered in 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel from a cargo ship that hit the Bay Bridge and busted open on a particularly foggy day.

Of course, it's always foggy in San Francisco. And it was a locally trained pilot navigating the tight waterway. But tell that to the oil-soaked birds making their way to shore because they're no longer capable of warming themselves on the water. If they're not picked up by rescuers and cleaned, they'll starve to death. Many already have.

That's what I was thinking about on my run today as I headed down to take a look at the water (still looking sparkling and blue from afar on this crisp, sunny day) I stood behind the closed gate at Baker beach -- not even runners are allowed in. The beach scene and surfers have been replaced by emergency vehicles and cop cars. The initial slow response from the Coast Guard, the tides pulling the noxious goo out to countless other beaches in Marin, won't be right any time soon.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Don't Heart Huckabee

Holocaust. It's a potent term, conjuring up images of, well, you know what. Abortions. Wait, what? Well, that's exactly what Mike Huckabee, republican presidential candidate did -- he dropped the H-bomb in a speech tying abortion to the genocide of 6 million Jews. Because what better way to get the right wing panting than talking about abortion while evoking the universal evil in a single blow.

Even if the press in the U.S. didn't pick it up, the Israeli press took notice. The daily Haaretz noted that in a speech railing about all things, immigrant labor, they quote Huckabee as saying:

"Sometimes we talk about why we're importing so many people in our work force."

"It might be for the last 35 years, we have aborted more than a million people who would have been in our work force had we not had the holocaust of liberalized abortion under a flawed Supreme Court ruling in 1973."

Some say that the third rail of politics is now torture. I say, wake up. Abortion politics are alive and kicking and if we don't want to make a, um, holocaust out of the next election, we better pay attention.

Monday, November 05, 2007

We Are Women. Will We Roar?

Tomorrow in San Francisco, it's election day. It's also a year out till the presidential election. It's not really surprising that we're paying so much attention to the candidates with so much time to spare. It is, after all, a key vote. In one year we finally get to turn Bush out of office and have a chance to make a historic change. We could have the first woman president. Or the first black one. Or the first Hispanic one. Or just a good one.

But the people who will determine the outcome, by participating or not, will be women. And women are not on board with Hillary's campaign, so the field is wide open. Bob Herbert, in his New York Times column today, points out that the candidates are playing the macho card and focusing on the war on terrorism more than the war on choice, or other issues that might concern women more. Of course, he might point out that includes the woman candidate, who out-machos them all with her tough talk on Iran.

So if even the woman isn't hearing the women, when will any of them start to listen? Probably when the votes speak louder than words.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Tooth for a Tooth

I've been forced to confront something that I've been avoiding since the spring: having a wisdom tooth removed. It's not any fun, the dental surgery, but then again, neither is having an impacted tooth causing an infection in your mouth. So, off I go. But I'm one of the lucky ones.

My job gives me dental insurance (and even with that it still costs an arm and a leg, or whatever the dental equivalent would be). Many, upwards of 40 million people in the U.S. have no dental insurance or any kind of health insurance to speak of. So once again, in a small way, Congress is trying to address that by re-authorizing and upping the state health insurance program for kids, or SCHIP.

Bush has vetoed it already. What a tough guy: stopping kids from getting medical attention. Or what, the terrorists win? And he promises to do it again, and the Republicans won't rush to override his veto.

All I have to say is: Give any one of these guys an impacted wisdom tooth and no way to pay for it, and see how quick they last.

Monday, October 29, 2007

EC Needs ED

So, if Emergency Contraception is legal and available, but nobody knows about it, does it matter?

That's what Barbara Boxer, my senator in California, wants to know. And she's cosponsoring a bill that funds a public education campaign to let women know it's here, it's near, get used to it.

We fought so hard to get EC approved -- and the facts are indisputable: 3 million pregnancies in the U.S., and half of them unintentional. Half of those end in abortions. So guess what: get EC out there -- Plan B for failed birth control or no birth control. It's so innocuous -- just an extra large dose of birth control pills -- not as some mistake it for, RU-486, which is an actual abortifacient. EC prevents prevents fertilization before pregnancy, if taken after soon after sex. So all those abortions? They go away. If abortion is the third rail of politics, think of EC as the third way. Not pro. Not anti. Just necessary.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fashion Primer for the Primaries

Obama may not have beat Clinton in the fundraising this time around; but if you want a cute T-shirt, Obama's your man. The fearless (or at least incredibly thorough) reporting of the New York Times today tells us that the Obama campaign is the only one offering baby Ts. Well, there may be something to that. I mean, the Wellesley Women for Hillary lapel pin will have a built-in fan base, but a good fitting T-shirt is hard to find. You know, finding the right fit T-shirt could help point the way to a candidate who's a good fit, too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fun with Latex

Condoms can be such useful things. Prophylactic. Water balloon. OK, actually, that's all I really thought condoms were good for. But from China, I guess I've been taught that I have a very one-dimensional mind. Have no idea what I'm talking about? This has to be seen to be believed.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Adopting a New Outlook

When I was about 12 years old, my best summer friend asked me in passing how many kids I wanted when I grew up. I told her I didn't want kids. "Mom!" She yelled, like I had just stolen out of her wallet, "Claudine doesn't want kids!"

It's funny how people get so affronted at this. And at 12 I was just so sure. Now I'm less sure, but at pushing 40, some things have a way of working themselves out. My friend who was so appalled at 12 that I didn't want kids, doesn't have them either. But she's trying to change that through an international adoption in Kenya. All it takes is a lawyer in the U.S. and one there. The embassy. Massive amounts of paperwork, a willing orphanage and massive amounts of money. And then, the odds are still not all in her favor.

I like the idea of adoption. But international adoption makes me queasy, not least because of the stars who have popularized it recently. And like any fast-growing business, one that markets in people can attract some unsavory characters. If you think you know about adoption, or want to know more, this brutally honest account of one adoptive family in Mother Jones, "Did I Steal My Daughter?" jumps right into the issues that anyone of good intent but uneasy conscience must undoubtedly feel when wading into the uncertain waters of international adoption: is it a good deed or a risky venture with someone's messy life.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Civil War Sing-Along

Thursday night I witnessed history in the making: a new work from the San Francisco Opera to commissioned just for them: Appomattox. With music by uniquely American composer Philip Glass,(whose sort of haunting repetitive themes are almost ubiquitous in his movie soundtracks), the opera stages the most significant event in American history: the surrender of the South by General Lee to General Grant at that famous site, and takes us from the lead up to the surrender to its aftermath, 10 and then 100 years out. History doesn't really lend itself so well to a good story arc, so the momentum wasn't there in the opera; nor does it lead to much of a build-up. Not to say it didn't move me: In fact, being reminded that this struggle over slavery was so recent as we fast-forward to a presidential race, which, at least on the democratic side, features a black candidate and a woman as the two lead contenders -- seems highly improbable given the disaster post-Civil War Jim Crow laws, not to mention the struggle for civil rights and women's equality. It is a tragedy with a happy -- or at least hopeful -- ending.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This Just In: Men Heart Feminists

A new research study published by researchers at Rutgers concludes that feminists are cute, lovable and oh-so-heterosexual, contrary to ongoing stereotypes.

According to Science Daily:

They found that having a feminist partner was linked to healthier heterosexual relationships for women. Men with feminist partners also reported both more stable relationships and greater sexual satisfaction. According to these results, feminism does not predict poor romantic relationships, in fact quite the opposite.
Maybe I live in a bubble, well, I mean, I do live in a bubble, San Francisco for god's sake, but who is sitting around worried that feminists aren't date-able? Feminists fight for equality, and back in the day, brought us birth control, sexual liberation and pants! They're not only sexy, pretty much sex is brought to you by feminists. Hello. But don't just take my word for it. Now science says so. You can read more here, if you want more proof.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nobel Prize News You Can Use

So technology that won a Nobel Prize for Medicine last year is the future of birth control for women (of course): a hormone-free patch that keeps you baby free. The bad news: It's a decade out yet, but birth control without hormones could be worth the wait. Or even if you're in menopause by then, at least your secret love child could take advantage.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Enough with the Pink Platitudes

It must be Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Either that, or some deranged preschooler has been set loose on, well, every consumer product out there. Everywhere I turn the Pepto-Bismo "we care" pink has shaded everything from cell phones to running shoes. When I mentioned in passing to a friend I had seen pink candy corn (admittedly a refreshing alternative from the orange) she asked if it was for breast cancer awareness. She may have been right.

I don't know what it is about the month of pink that makes me see things without rose colored glasses. After all, the awareness campaign did remind my mother to get a mammogram, and that's a good thing, since early detection is what it's all about. Maybe it's sour grapes, since my sister had a cancer that wasn't cool and pink with a ribbon. It wasn't in a cute part of the body that has implications about sexiness. (By the way, men get breast cancer, too, and they can't appreciate the ribbons much).

Maybe I would feel better if breast cancer were something that lots of people died from. But when I read that if detected early, 97 percent of breast cancer is curable, it made me think: that's great. But your best chance of surviving any kind of cancer increases the earlier it's detected. Let's put the pretty pink campaign to use for another disease that could use a little sex appeal.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Clinton Gore '08

I just have to come out and say that right here, right now, Clinton Gore is the winning ticket for '08. I may be getting ahead of myself, or on some crazy Gore kick, but that man is unbeatable. Even after having the 2000 election stolen from him, he's a big winner. Now with an Oscar, a Nobel Peace Prize and who knows what else coming his way, this man is unstoppable. And let's not forget that everything the man says turns out to be right. About the Iraq War. About climate change. He's a Gore de force, and Hillary should hop on it. The man's got enough alternative energy for the both of them.

Also, I just would love to watch the right wing tie themselves in knots over that team. The right fears and loathes Hillary and guess what? Gore can take that same badge of honor, too.

So, in the words of John Kerry: bring. It. On.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Dying for Abortions

A global study looking at abortion rates worldwide shows that the rates of abortion are the same whether or not they're legal. So much for the illegal equals deterrence argument. The bad, bad news: where they're illegal, they're unsafe, and women are dying. How to decrease abortions? Access to contraception. Hardly mind-blowing. Hardly high-tech. But these kind of simple solutions that would save women's lives are impeded by the Catholic church and the zealous anti-abortion -- oh, I mean "pro-life" crusaders in the U.S.

According to The New York Times article,

The Bush administration’s multibillion-dollar campaign against H.I.V./AIDS in Africa has directed money to programs that promote abstinence before marriage, and to condoms only as a last resort. It has prohibited the use of American money to support overseas family planning groups that provide abortions or promote abortion as a method of family planning.

Worldwide, the annual number of abortions appeared to have declined between 1995, the last year such a broad study was conducted, and 2003, from an estimated 46 million to 42 million, the study concluded. The 1995 study, by the Guttmacher Institute, had far less data on countries where abortion was illegal.

Some countries, like South Africa, have undergone substantial transitions in abortion laws in that time. The procedure was made legal in South Africa in 1996, leading to a 90 percent decrease in mortality among women who had abortions, some studies have found.

Abortion is illegal in most of Africa, though. It is the second-leading cause of death among women admitted to hospitals in Ethiopia, its Health Ministry has said. It is the cause of 13 percent of maternal deaths at hospitals in Nigeria, recent studies have found.

Friday, October 12, 2007

DIY Abortions

This announcement in the UK Telegraph made me think that maybe science will trump the abortion debate in the near future. Abortion by pill taken at home, not at an obvious abortion clinic. Sure these are happening now, but not without doctor visits. The article suggests that there may be a move in the UK to allow the abortion drug over the counter and taken at home.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Girls Stay Out of the Picture

OK, so if this is true, it truly sucks. Word has it that Warner Bros. is passing on pictures with female leads because of droopy box office sales from Jodie Foster and Nicole Kidman's latest flicks.

Really? I mean, really? Well, what do we do when male lead pictures flop? Get rid of the men, too? Who does that leave to be in pictures? Cute dogs? Monster movies? Robots? A combination of all? Maybe Warner Bros. should just start making better movies and stop blaming the women.

Up in Smoke

It is a compelling (and admittedly at times, tempting) image -- burning bras in the name of stamping out the patriarchy. Especially in 1968. But it never happened. (Fire codes prevented it. They may have been angry feminists, but they did believe in safety first.) But the myth of the bra-burner lives on. In our heads. In our lingerie closets. And last month, in a newspaper story on the history of the bra, brought to you by Maidenform.

From Women in Media and News:

On Sept. 27, you received an action alert from WIMN ("Tampa Tribune Needs History Lesson") about a recent Tampa Tribune article that rehashed the old myth that feminists burned bras in the 1960s, complete with a separate timeline
-- offered by bra-maker Maidenform -- that asserted that feminists encouraged 'bra-burning rallies.'" Asking if perhaps the Tribune had burned their history books, we offered you information about the history of the "feminist bra-burners" myth and an address for letters to the Tribune editors so that you could ask for a correction. (For the original alert, see

Today, we're pleased to report that the Tampa Tribune responded to your feedback with a follow-up piece by reporter Cloe Cabrera. Cabrera not only explained how the error made it into her original report but also interviewed feminist activists who could attest first-hand to the fact that bra-burning never happened at the event where the myth was born. Her piece, "No Bras Burned, But They Did Revolt" begins:

"It's a myth so pervasive, most of us believe it's true.

I know I did.

So when information about "feminist bra burning rallies" turned up in a timeline Maidenform provided for a Sept. 27 story on the history of the bra, I didn’t think twice about using it.

Bra-burning women's libbers have become an important part of 1960s lore. I've heard stories about them. I've read about them in books and magazines.

The problem is, things didn't go down quite the way those stories tell it.

That's not to say bra-burning never happened as a public protest anywhere during the turbulent '60s. But feminists didn't set their bras ablaze in the spectacular way that has become legend." (To read the full story, see

Monday, October 08, 2007

I Still Believe Anita

I can't believe that Justice Clarence Thomas is still re-living his confirmation hearings to the Supreme Court. But his book My Grandfather's Son supposedly rehashes all that. It's so nice to remember those hearings, the pubes on Coke cans. Long Dong Silver. The high-tech lynching. I remember listening to it over the endless five weeks in horror and fascination. Thomas seems to bear a major grudge at all this. Please. Bill Clinton withstood 10 kinds of nasty for eight years and is honored to have served the public.

Thomas seems to find no irony in his embrace of victimhood while scorning affirmative action programs (from which he benefited) for the very same reason. He's color blind, now that he's been to Yale and spits on his degree with his Yalie connections that got him where he is. He thinks Anita was nutty? This man is downright delusional.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I Like to Watch

When I was about six years old, my mother decided that I'd had enough TV in my life, broke off the antenna and banned it from the house.

Thus began my obsession with the tube.

At friends' houses, all I'd want to do is watch. But maybe because my TV addiction was interrupted at such a young, suggestible age, I don't remember ever feeling deprived, bored or pressed to fill hours. I read, a lot. I played music, rode my bike, did kid stuff. I didn't even watch TV in college. I remember how the halls cleared on the nights of LA Law (the favorite of government majors) and 30-Something (for the liberal arts crowd), but I never thought to join in.

Until I moved in with my husband, Larry. Larry had a big TV, and he got me into The Simpsons, the gateway drug to every other funny show.

Now I'm hooked. We have Tivo and what's got to be the best programming on TV in years. 30 Rock. Mad Men. The Unit. Heroes. Entourage. Weeds. Not to mention Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart on Comedy Central. The list goes on and on.

Judith Warner writes on her blog that she is considering cable TV, so as not to deprive her daughters of pop culture (or herself). Her daughters seem game and promise not to be "retards" if they start watching the expanded offerings of Disney and Nickelodeon.

I try to imagine my mom posing that question to my high school self. But she beat me to it.

A few years ago, my mom bought her own TV, and is now just as obsessed with shows as I am. (She prefers Sex and the City and The Closer, and more recently even subscribed to HBO so she could watch Tell Me You Love Me, which reviews claim to be practically porn. She claims it's about relationships).

TV never was as evil as my mom thought or as good as my friends thought. But after my TV-free childhood, it sure is fun being an adult.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Clinic Defense

The Planned Parenthood clinic in Aurora, IL, barred from opening by pro-life protesters who sought a court injunction to keep the brand-new building closed, opened anyway today. They had done nothing wrong. But tell that to a city flooded with what Planned Parenthood described as one of the biggest magnets for anti-choice protesters since probably South Dakota's abortion ban was defeated. The clinic had violated no ordinances, had followed every city code and had been approved to open. But for a crazy few weeks, the city was overrun and then run by a bunch of anti-choice nut jobs. For once, the sane, reasonable course of action won out. Finally.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Fight or Die

First there's the happiness gap between men and women. Now a new study shows there's an anger gap, too. For women who kept their feelings to themselves during marital spats, were four times more likely to die than women who let it all out. The next study will have to be the stress gap, for women who aren't happy and aren't yelling at their husbands.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Feminine Plastique

OK, so there is almost a psychotic obsession with youth culture, celebrity-style bodies and perfectly highlighted tresses. Maintenance, is how Nora Ephron put it in her latest book, I Feel Bad About My Neck.

But women (and definitely some men), it seems, are just feeling all around bad, and are signing up for plastic surgery in droves. Powering this trend that is way beyond Hollywood -- blame feminism, of course.

The industry has lifted a page from the feminism playbook and told women that taking care of themselves, and by that they mean totally changing themselves, is feminist.

That's the premise, anyway, of a piece in the latest issue of Ms. magazine. To read an excerpt, you can click here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Can't Be Heard on Verizon

Did you catch the buzz over at Verizon today? Seems that someone over there decided that Naral shouldn't be able to text message its members who wanted to receive pro-choice action alerts. Why? Verizon told them some might find the messages "unsavory." Here's what's unsavory: Verizon practicing out-and-out corporate censorship. It only took a few hours after today's NYT front-page story to hit for the mega-mobile co. to reverse its position. They said it was a mistake, but this was no accident. They knew what they were doing: cow-towing to the conservatives they fund, to the tune of millions every year in campaign contributions. Well, even if they don't want Naral's voice heard, at least thousands of choice activists made sure Verizon could hear them now.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bionic Woman 2007 Edition

Tonight I watched the premiere of Bionic Woman. She's so much more modern, they had to drop the "the" from the title.

Anyway, instead of a tennis pro, our hero tends bar at an always-crowded club at night while taking college classes -- and dating the teacher -- by day. Suffice to say her non-bionic self barely makes it past the opening credits, which, by the way, opened as a SWAT team runs over dead bodies. It is a gory, gory version of Bionic Woman. And violent too. Which means, I'm out. I'm not compelled. But it's clear I'm not the target audience. I'm too old and also, too female. Yup, badass bionic women are really more (male) video game than chick flick.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Dusting Gap

Women can't catch a break. First the wage gap -- now the happiness gap. According to a bunch of studies tracking this sort of thing, as reported by The New York Times, women have gotten less happier -- a lot less happier -- since the 70s. Why? Chalk it up to dusting. Time was, in that elusive era of housewives, women claimed to be oh-so-happy. Happier, in fact, than men.

Fast-forward through the women's movement and women now make up a large part of the workforce, then come home and do all that other house-wifey stuff, too. Or not. And that makes women unhappy too. Take dusting. Women dust less than they did a couple of decades ago. Anyhow, this happiness theory goes something like this: women's happiness has gone down as our ambitions have gone up. Men, those lucky dogs, have figured out how to work less, never cared a fig about dusting, and therefore are happier than ever. (Dust-related allergies, on the other hand, may be on the rise.)

If this sounds like a bunch of dusty old ideas, you're probably right. What scientist in their right mind would even try to measure happiness? One who probably doesn't like to dust.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

It's Official: Smith Is Hottest

Is it getting hot in here? Oh, it must be Smith College: The school made Newsweek's top-25 list as "hottest women's college." But don't take my word for it: see what Newsweek says:

Hottest Women's College
Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

With 2,800 students, Smith is the nation's largest women's college, and the first to start an engineering program. It is part of the Five Colleges consortium with nearby Mount Holyoke, Amherst, Hampshire and UMass Amherst. The facilities, particularly the cottage-style houses where students live in groups of 13 to 80, are so attractive that visitors originally preferring a coed college often change their minds. "Smith kind of won me over," says Katie Green, who thought she would go to a school with men. "When else in your life can you get the experience of being surrounded by smart, motivated young women who really care about what they're doing?"

Of course, it must be tough to concentrate with all that hotness. Lucky for Smith, these hot women also have brains.

Women Who Make Too Much
It's the same old story with a new tune. Successful women have a hard time catching or keeping a man. In the 80s, women had as much chance of getting married as being struck by lightening.
Remember? Now the New York Times tells us women in their late 20s make too much to get a mate. Men are too intimidated by their big salaries to pop the big question. Or even to make it to a second date. Apparently, educated women ages 21-30 are making more than their male counterparts for the first time ever. I don't know what happens at 30 -- do the men suddenly catch up?

Anyway, this seems at odds with what we know about men's and women's salaries -- that men make more on the dollar than women. And now that the Supreme Court has put a limit to when women can sue who find out they have been paid less than men with their same job, seems even more dubious.

But who wants to get so picky on a Style article? This is really an issue of etiquette -- who pays for the pricey dinner so no egos get hurt? These are the questions that will keep these high-paid women in low-rent relationships.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Roar from Aurora

Here's what happens these days when you want to build a Planned Parenthood clinic in small-minded America. You hide your name and your purpose to get the proper permits in order to provide your service. You don't hide that you're a medical facility, just the specifics. And just as you're about to open your new modern clinic to provide legal medical services for women in Aurora, a fast-growing city outside of Chicago, the anti-choice forces wake up and show up en masse. The courts rule in favor of the mob rule, and a perfectly legitimate establishment is left blowing in the wind of radical-right politics.

These days, right-to-lifers are feeling emboldened, thanks to a Supreme Court that's got their back. But despite the persistent hard-liner protesters outside the clinic, a majority of Americans still back a woman's right to abortion.

Despite the legal manuevers and noisy protests, Planned Parenthood won't be run out of town that easily. They will stay and fight. To keep on top of the latest news from Aurora, you can check out their blog.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Is a Woman President Ready for America?

Among the sea of mostly white, male candidates, one stands out as different. Now, Hillary Clinton is not running as a woman. She's running as the establishment candidate. But sooner or later, it's gonna come out that she's actually female. The Daily Show's Samantha Bee set out to explore if America is ready for a woman president. Or vice versa. She even gives equal time to a Phyllis Schlafly memorial pundit and Kim Gandy, who doles out her opinion along with fashion advice while outlet shopping.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Is Cancer the New Sexy?

You know, the New York Times just has a way of perfectly annoying me on any topic. Take yesterday's spread below the fold on their latest in a series of articles on Six Killers. This one features a woman in her 30s who has the breast-cancer gene and then follows her through her decision to get a preventative mastectomy. She's cute, a doctor and has already had breast augmentation surgery for cosmetic reasons. And while it's good to cover women's health, and put women on the front page, the Times seems to have a nasty habit of choosing a mirror of its readers to profile its stories.

Yet another on the uneven care of cancer featured another young woman, this one married, wealthy and with a cute baby and amazing insurance who made the appalling statement that her friends and family would never let cost intrude on her care. How nice not to be saddled with such petty inconveniences as money troubles.

Point is, using sexy to sell cancer is, well, sick.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Last Gasp on Hillary

OK, so I'm a slow reader. But geez, at over 550 pages, Carl Bernstein's book on Hillary, A Woman in Charge, was quite the tome.

So just as Hillary's thinking has evolved from Goldwater Girl to campus radical to rad First Lady to conventional senator, so has mine. She had a political awakening at college and made a bold speech at college graduation putting her in Life magazine as a future leader. But most of her public leadership has been a disappointment. Health care? Vote to authorize war on Iraq? Who is Hillary? I feel no closer to understanding her than I started. The Bernstein book doesn't help a whole lot on analysis. Although he does call her current White House bid soulless. I guess that's my problem, too. Shouldn't this woman of substance have something a little more substantive to say, beyond the safe political pap?

But this conventional woman is doing something that defies tradition. She's giving us an opportunity to elect the first woman president. And that's pretty radical.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Educating Hillary

Yesterday the NY Times ran a huge story on Hillary Clinton's storied past. Practically lifted from Bernstein's book, the reporters focused on Hillary's political awakening, her whiplash shift from Goldwater girl to McCarthy woman.

But one place where she has never wavered: her belief even in college of the process of process. She was the moderate in radical times, but she is vilified for being a radical. She isn't. But even if she didn't subscribe to violent overthrow of the government, a la SNCC, she did wear the trappings of the troubled times. Even if you don't read the article, you've got to check out the photos of vintage Hillary, 1968.

Monday, September 03, 2007

My Hillary Homework

I'm partway through Carl Bernstein's book A Woman in Charge, and it's bringing me back to my college days. First, and by way of full embarrassing disclosure, when at Smith, I worked, very hard, to get Michael Dukakis elected. In Massachusetts. In Western Massachusetts. Needless to say, my work paid off and he won -- in his home state.

I remember a fellow campaign worker who had gone to the Democratic convention in Atlanta, talking all excitedly about, not Dukakis, but the guy who gave his nominating address. Someone I'd never heard of: Bill Clinton. Sure, he may have gotten attention for all the wrong reasons -- I had heard his speech ran an epic 45 minutes although Bernstein's book clocks it closer to 32. What Bernstein doesn't talk about, was that Clinton started something with that speech. He got noticed, not just for talking so long, but what he said -- about a new Democratic party.

But take a look back at the mirror of Bill Clinton's rising star alongside Hillary's. She had as much promise of a political career from college as he did. Bill's fatal flaw was a weakness for women. But Hillary's fatal flaw was a weakness for Bill. She fell for him, married him and followed him. She has made a lot of compromises along the way from her radical awakening at college. I only hope that if she does secure the party nomination, that she harkens back to those days. That's the Hillary I'd like to see as president.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Abortion a Human Right

In case you missed this, Amnesty International met and has changed its neutral position on abortion, now condoning it in cases of rape or incest. The organization has worked in many areas, like Darfur, where rape has been used as a weapon of war against women, so it would naturally follow. It's really time that abortion is seen as a human right, and acknowledged that way. For Amnesty International to take this stance in some ways is way behind the curve, but better late than not at all.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Women's Suffrage Rocks

Sunday marked the 87th anniversary of women's right to vote in the U.S. So, in honor of 87 years of telling it to the man with the ballot box, I've added a very cool voter registration tool to my blog. Because now that women have the right to vote, we have to rock the vote, which is exactly what Rock the Vote intends for us to do: single women, especially, haven't been voting in recent elections, and just think of all the things those women miss out on having a say on: after all, do you really want some old, white men telling you that abortion is illegal? I thought not. So check out this cool tool (powered by Working Assets), and pass along the word to everyone you know how easy it is to register. Point. Click. Print and mail. That's it. That's what women in 1920 were fighting for, so let's not let it go to waste.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

NPR Flips for B-Side

This is totally great news for a radio show run on practically nothing but a whole lotta love: B-Side is now featured on the alt.npr podcast. Check us out and give a listen as we debut today on the NPR site. Stick with us, we're heading for great things.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Not Your Mother's Bionic Woman

Yes, in this scenario, I am the mom. Or would be, if I were a mom. This was the promo before The Simpsons Movie to get the youth intrigued with Bionic Woman redux. Same bionic woman, new generation. You remember The Bionic Woman, don't you? From the 70s, super-cheesy show about a woman, Jamie Sommers, reconstructed from a nice-girl tennis pro to a bad-ass crime fighter?

She was born of her times. A product of the women's movement and the success of Billie Jean King (let's just say not your father's tennis pro: she is one of the best tennis players ever, and the woman who defeated Bobby Riggs in 1973 in the "Battle of the Sexes match").

Well, NBC doesn't want you watching. They want the kids who weren't born when the first one came out. And those kids don't think technology is weird, it's just part of life.

So I guess I'm wondering (and maybe this is my old-school, feminist voice speaking here): what exactly was wrong with the original series? One thing's for sure, without the women's movement, Billie Jean and the original The Bionic Woman, there would be no Bionic Woman. Without "your mother's Bionic Woman," it would have just been, well, The Six Million Dollar Man.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cancer Doc, Not Show

If there was a Chick Lit novel about a cutie with cancer, it would probably sound a lot like the ad promos around Crazy Sexy Cancer, a documentary -- not a reality show -- airing on TLC on Wednesday, August 29. I'm glad it's not a reality show -- who lives? who dies? who gets sick from chemo? Tune in! But I'm still wary of trying to promote cancer as something cute and sexy. Maybe this is how TLC likes to roll, and is not the fault of the doc. Well, that's what I thought until I checked out the Web site.

You can check it out to see what I mean.

What is the equivalent for other terminal diseases: Fun! Adorable! AIDS!

Maybe this is the way to tap into a young audience choosing to watch a show on cancer or What Not to Wear. And hey, we all have to fight the good cancer fight in the way we know how. But I am already so turned off by the promos of this by TLC I don't hold up too much hope for the doc itself.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Crazy, Sexy, Cancer

That's the name of a new reality show about some hotties with the diagnosis downer. I'm not kidding. I haven't watched it and don't know if I could possibly manage to (we already have bridezilla, nanny 911 and my sweet sixteen. What's next after this, my very special funeral? Watch this space, because after Six Feet Under, could it be far behind?)

In the New York Times "Modern Love" column today, is a piece about two exes who have survived their breakup and cancer. Cancer as competition. Cancer as romancer. Please.

When my sister was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer back in 2002, it made me painfully aware that just by being young does not mean you're free from the disease of the old. But now between the disease of tell-all TV and the new normal of young, healthy people coming out with cancer (Lance Armstrong, anyone?) the disease is no longer relegated to the back closet and the wig shelf -- it's front and center, part of life.

While I have realized that cancer is truly commonplace these days (I've actually discussed the merits of chemo treatments with friends that would have previously been talking spa treatments), I can't accept ogling people struggling to survive. Whether they come across as noble, selfish or just plain boring, it's a cheap trick that makes entertainment out the very heavy toll of this disease.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Outrageous Abortion

Where does Judith Warner get off writing in The New York Times about late-term abortion like she knows something about it. Her graphic description in her op-ed today of dilation and extraction procedure, banned by the Supreme Court, was unnecessary and completely misses the point. Yes, abortions are gross. I mean, to hear tell, so is childbirth. And, come to think of it, most medical procedures, if described, are probably pretty damn disgusting, fetus or no fetus.

But neither the men on the Supreme Court who voted in an egregious way, nor pictures of aborted fetuses or any of Warner's rhetoric changes the fact that nobody, and especially not the government, should be dictating a woman's private medical decision.

Now, if we start having Supreme Court cases on vasectomies (after all, that's ending lots of potential life, is it not?) or whether some old geezer should get an RX for Viagra, then maybe the old guys on the Supreme Court would have a different point of view. But since women are still the only ones saddled with pregnancy, it is they who have to live with their decisions. Not Judith Warner, who is affronted with the Obstetrics and Gynecology trade journal that treats the Supreme Court decision with a "mocking tone." Well, how's this for an affront: a doctor who is criminalized for a medical procedure done in 1/2 of one percent of all abortion cases? A woman who must deal with an abortion of a wanted pregnancy due to a horrible birth defect, or forgo a procedure necessary for her health because a bunch of old guys said they didn't like it, it's gross. That's not gross. That's life.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Manny Diaries

Look, if a woman can be president, a man can be a nanny, or, to put in in man terms, a manny. Apparently, the manny is the new nanny. And he's so very cool. At least, that's how the San Francisco Chronicle's lead story in Sunday's Style section made it look. Young bucks who want to make a buck who are good with kids. They're like one-on-one camp counselors. They play with your kids! They change diapers! They're like nannies, but funner.

Lucky for them, sounds like these moms don't expect their mannies to take out the garbage or cook or any of the other add-ons that other nannies might be saddled with. The trend was busted wide open with two works of fiction, The Manny, by Holly Peterson, and Plum Sykes' book ( of Bergdorf Blondes) The Debutante Divorcee. I have not read them and don't plan to (alas, no beach time this summer for me). But to read the descriptions of the novels, and Plum Sykes' breathless description of her real-life manny in Vogue (I was getting my hair done!) these mannies are nothing more than man-meat for their employers, a boy-toy who also babysits. At least, that's the fantasy.

And while we're on fantasy, The Nanny Diaries -- the movie of the book -- starring Scarlett Johanson is set to come out at the end of the summer. Never has being a nanny looked so good, even if the job was a nightmare as a semi-slave to a junior leaguer with nothing to do but get her hair done and order people around (I did read that one). Of course, the real open secret of nannies is that they're not just working in tony duplexes on the Upper East Side, but in one bedroom walk-ups in Park Slope and Prospect Heights. The truth is, having a nanny doesn't exactly set you apart these days (unless of course, one parent doesn't work and still has help.)

If mannies come in and help masculinize the business of watching babies, so be it. Maybe they'll take out the trash, too. Now there's a fantasy.

Monday, July 30, 2007


The contraceptive device that Seinfeld put on the map -- and immortalized in its demise -- has returned. In the episode, Elaine is horrified to hear that the sponge is being discontinued, so she buys a case and interviews potential lovers for their sponge-worthiness.

But now the sponge is back. Why that's great: because the more options, the better, even if they are always for the woman. What's bad: The sponge was never really known for being highly effective. I mean, it is called a sponge, after all. Doesn't exactly elicit huge confidence that sperm can't get through, does it? And, of course, it doesn't stave off STDs.

Still, choices are good. What next? Hey, maybe they'll bring back Seinfeld.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Make Chaste

There's a mini-trend spotted by the Education Life section of the New York Times today. Seems that some students at Ive League campuses (Harvard, Princeton, M.I.T.) have started up chastity clubs. Brings new meaning to abstinence-only education.

Aside from the fact that this idea sets women back a few hundred years, I take issue with the article that describes these campuses as liberal. Liberal compared to what? Some Christian college in the mid-West? Does anyone remember Harvard's last president being quoted as saying women weren't as good as men in math? And what about Princeton's eating clubs (mentioned in another story in the same section), which only started admitting women in 1991?

While feeling the need to bond over trite, moralistic pap and discussing mutual abstinence is misguided but relatively harmless, the idea that all of this is quietly veiled in religious zealotry that is bubbling up in campus life in mainstream collges is worrisome. Two of the campus societies are named for Elizabeth Anscombe, a Roman Catholic who, according to the Times "condemned contraception." Not sure, as the Princeton anti-sex club promises, that forswearing contraception helps with empowerment or dignity. Fewer choices are exactly the opposite of empowering, sex or no sex.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Still No Condom Ads on Fox or CBS

Check out my pitch to The Simpsons that combines both their love of pigs and subverting Fox on my post for Women in Media and News. Hey, it beats another story on Lindsay Lohan.
More Boobs from New York

So Ms. Magazine is getting in on Cleavage-Gate. They're asking people who want substance, not support stories, to write in to the Post and give them the what for. Turns out, Clinton hasn't just gotten flack for showing a little flesh. She's been hounded by the media in a pretty pervy way. Her hair style, her suits, her supposed Botoxed skin have all been points for pundits. Now, I have my problems with Hill. But let's face it: we'd all be better off if the media spent half as much energy focusing on policy statements as fashion statements.

You can speak your mind to the Post here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The D from New York

It really does take a major media outlet like the Washington Post to state the obvious: women, they have breasts. But that's what readers who happened on their site got to learn today with an article on Hillary Clinton giving us a --very small -- peek at her endowment. Check out my post on the WorkingForChange blog.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cowabunga, Dude

I admit it: I'm a fan of the Simpsons, the yellow TV-sitcom family who refuses to age or change. I've been counting down the days till The Simpsons movie opens at the end of the month. To get me in the mood, my local 7-11 is becoming a Quik-E Mart. (With signs like They're Not Called Don't Nuts. And squishees.) And I even have my own Simpons alter-ego -- courtesy of the Simpsonmaker. Take a look.

Cool, huh. Of course, I always considered Lisa Simpson a suitable representative, because let's face it, she does represent. She's the smart girl, the top of her class, the top of her town, really, the one who can be forgiven to occasionally Vassar-bash. Who was the first female-cartoon president, at least. It does drive me bananas that this irreverent, subversive show is on the most Orwellian of networks.

So I have a pitch for the show: Hey, Simpsons writers, since your network won't air the Trojan condom ad, why don't you run a cartoon condom ad on an upcoming episode. I won't even charge for the idea. Don't like it: eat my shorts.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Why Abstinence-Only Education Sucks and Blows

I really don't know why they bother. The Republican party -- the ones who sleep with prostitutes, children and other people's wives -- really blather on about abstinence-only education. They wouldn't dream of funding anything that had, um, science, involved.

No. They prefer the kind of "education" the way they take their "science," with neither, pleasantly divorced from fact. The New York Times today put a damn good story on its front page today all about lack-of-sex-ed classes in high school. Abstinence-only gets $17 million in funding in Texas alone. A class that does not discuss sex or contraception. To teenagers. So, what's happened despite this stupid waste-of-time class that probably most kids skip anyway? Well, teen pregnancy rates have been on the decrease, that is, going down, since 1991. Before abstinence-only education. Before Monica. While everyone hates to say it, I'll just go ahead and point out the obvious: contraception.

Because, when all else fails, a condom usually does the trick.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Fox and CBS Don't Have Protection

The drama continues for the Trojan condom ad spurned by the TV networks Fox and CBS. This time, according to the New York Times, it's the affiliate networks in cities like Pittsburgh and Seattle who want a say. In Pittsburgh, they're saying no. In Seattle, they're rolling out the welcome mat.

Maybe Trojan really knows what it's doing: the ad is getting plenty of play on YouTube, with 100,00 hits, and 400,000 hits to the Trojan ad's Web site. Planned Parenthood sent out 44,000 e-mails to the network chiefs in protest. Everybody seems to get that it makes no sense, as I've said before, for ads to run about Viagra, but not to run about condoms. We see plenty of sex on your networks, people. But here's the reality: next year 4 million people will get an STD, according to Planned Parenthood. But what exactly is it about this condom ad that has these two networks running the other way? I think it's the frank discussion of sex -- use a condom every time. It seems that fantasy is fine, and reality programming about salacious issues, also OK. But suggesting that you be safe while partaking in any of these activities. Well, that's just downright subversive.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I just finished reading Peggy Orenstein's New York Times magazine story about the increasing use of donor eggs for infertile couples. And I know that I probably shouldn't do this, but I can't help it. I judge. Why? Maybe because I recoil at the idea of harvesting eggs from younger women so that older women can have babies out of their own bodies. Maybe because even in Orenstein's piece, the egg donors are pretty much nameless, faceless egg givers, irrelevant except for their behind-the-scenes role. The story wasn't about them, but about the agony the infertile woman goes through in going through an egg donation.

The infertility industry is a multi-billion-dollar business. If you're willing and able to plunk down $25-$35,000, you too can have some 20-something's eggs put into your 40-something body. I see ads to recruit egg donors in the BART train on my commute to work. To me, it's like we're in this strange, new world where an older woman is reduced to her uterus. And a younger woman is reduced to her young, healthy eggs. A few shots here, an AIDS test there, a Web site to scope out the young, mainly blond, (Ivy League and Jewish? even better) mainly high SAT-scoring Bettys, and you've got yourself an insta-family.

But just because modern medicine can give you this option, does not mean you should take it. Women over 40 can stall the inevitable aging process with botox, breast lifts and lipsuction. And now they can add to that list birthing babies. Orenstein's argument is that by keeping the egg donor detail under wraps only adds to the stigma of having an egg donor baby. Bust this out in the open, she says, and just make it one more option for couples who want kids. After all, she tried it, and she wrote a book about it.

But once again, the New York Times is showcasing an procedure that is not universal and is not without controversy. It is an option for couples who can afford it and aren't saddled with ethical dilemmas that science has created before philosophy has caught up. In this area, we're barren.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


What is up with all the man words these days? A male nanny is a manny. A man's sandals are mandals. And let's not forget the word that started it all, mimbo, a male bimbo. It's not like we were lacking in words for men. But I mean, what's next -- a male geisha could be a guysha. A man gynecologist, a mancologist. And a male manicurist, oh, wait, that's kind of taken care of.

It's not enough that professions or possessions associated as femme get de-girled to be more suitable for men. We've worked hard to de-gender words (waitron, anyone?) and now they've come back cute. Why? Because no man in a ghettoized female role wants to be stuck with the girls. He wants his own title, and maybe even a promotion and a raise.

Maybe the ultimate test will be if -- when -- the next president can change her title to Madame. Which makes her husband First Man. Let's see how manly that role can be.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fox and CBS Still Abstaining

Remember the Trojan ad with the pigs in a bar? Well, no pigs are seeing air time on CBS and Fox networks, which still contend that a bunch of pigs wearing condoms to pick up chicks is not a public health message, but a pregnancy prevention message, therefore, does not fly with these holier-than-thou network execs. And yes, seems that they'll air the damn things when pigs fly. That would actually be fine, as long as they weren't wearing protection.

Planned Parenthood is asking us what the next step should be, since their letter-writing campaign seems to leave those at the top unmoved. You can suggest an idea here. My idea: giant billboards of condom ads across from network headquarters. What's yours?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Feel Like Dancin'
So I just got back from L.A. and let me tell you there is nothing like dancing with my fellow Smith alums to make me feel like it's 1989 again. It's the healing power of dancing, or maybe it was the wine, or maybe it was Justin Timberlake. (Say what you will about the guy, you cannot listen to his tunes without busting out.) So what if we're all on the high end of our 30s, one of us has a kid, one of us is divorced and all of us can't seem to let a few details like that get in our way of showing our moves. There is nothing like good friends, good music and lots and lots of dancing.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Princess Diaries

I have a confession. I just bought the July issue of Vanity Fair, the one Bono guest edited. And the first article I read wasn't about Kenya, or orphans in Malawi. It was about Princess Diana, an excerpt from Tina Brown's new book, The Diana Chronicles, on a hardly new subject: the Princess of people's hearts.

At first the placement seemed odd and even in poor taste. But then I realized that the whole issue was chock-full of celebrity humanitarians -- and that entire category was essentially created by Diana herself. Without Diana, there could be no Angelina Jolie.

Sure, the chapter is full of juicy bits, like how Di was so mad about losing her H.R.H. title after the divorce from Prince Charles; how she leaned on her son Prince William more than a mother should. And how she used the press to hide and flaunt her lovers. But it also reminded me of the good she did: publicizing the horror of landmines, humanizing children with AIDS.

I'm not sure what the Diana Chronicles will do to pump up the rep of the princess; her life and death are hardly a secret. But the book is certainly doing wonders for the career of Tina Brown. Another win for the princess.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Remembering Carolla

There are lots of dates that stick in our brains: birthdays, anniversaries, national holidays. But the one I hate to acknowledge but can't ever forget is the night my sister died. It stays with me the way I can't shake a bad dream. Three years is a long time and not very long at all.

I ate a fortune cookie today that chided me: time heals all wounds. But it's not true. Grief and loss are non-linear. I wish it weren't so. But I can tell you from experience, it is.

My sister didn't want to be remembered as the one whose life was cut tragically short by cancer. If I can just get past losing her, I can pick up and help the world remember her the way she'd want it. Not starting at the end, but at the beginning.

Carolla, I'm trying.

State of Our Unions

It is so fitting that the Style section of the New York Times, the one on Sunday that features the Vows column and the paid wedding announcements, would also be tracking how well these marriages turn out. A front-page article trumpeted a Pew Research survey that the wedding bells are ringing far shorter than you may think. The length of your happy nuptials after all that wedding business is three quick years. The reason? Women's economic independence, for one. That's what the Times said, and I think they even meant it as a compliment. But it's not really. It means that women don't have to be married, so we split if things don't work out our way. We only stay if we're happy, see.

Another reason: women and men are actually not getting married, or getting married later. Or having kids out of wedlock.

My favorite wedding advice has always been: wait 10 years. It's what Larry and I did. And hey, our fifth anniversary is coming up, so my theory must be working.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

That's No Woman. That's Hillary Clinton.
My alma mater -- Smith College -- boasted two first ladies as alum. We even had a T-shirt showing Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan that read: there must be a better way to get a Smithie in the White House.

Well, we don't have a Smithie yet. But we do have a Wellesley grad running for highest office. But, when faced with the cocktail conversation question, Hillary or Obama? I have to say I go with the Big O every time.

Ellen Goodman, the feminist columnist for The Boston Globe, addressed this at her keynote speech in March at the Women, Action and Media conference. She called Hillary's run for office a "de-gendered" candidacy, as she was running as the establishment candidate, not the woman candidate. In many ways, this is very good news for women. That we have someone who has the name, the experience and the money to get to the top of the heap is lightyears ahead of where women candidates have been in the past.

In other ways, this makes her less accessible. She's not one of the marginalized. She's one of them.

As I've said in other posts, Hillary Clinton is not someone who I'm behind. But that's right now, when the primaries haven't happened and others seem a little less blow dried and speak in a less canned way. I cringe when I hear Hillary Clinton trying to girl it up on an entertainment show -- please. This woman is about power and I can't take it when she starts gushing about somebody's shoes.

A piece on AlterNet today about the unrelenting criticism from liberals and feminists about Clinton is all about gender, and then sometimes not at all about gender. Take the CodePink antiwar group's obsession with Hillary and her vote to give Bush authorization to go to war:

Clinton's supporters also argue that women candidates are unfairly subjected to higher standards, especially by women themselves. It's why antiwar feminist organizations like CodePink are less likely to give her a pass for her Iraq vote than they would, say, John Edwards. Explaining the reasoning behind their "bird-dog Hillary" campaign to The Nation, founder Medea Benjamin wore her double standard on her sleeve: "You expect more of a woman."

Ouch. Well, as Clarence Thomas can show us, just being black doesn't mean you're going to support affirmative action. As Ann Coulter proves, being a successful woman doesn't make you a feminist, or a peace-nik. And being Hillary Clinton demonstrates what we should have known all along: that being an ambitious, mainstream candidate with a legacy doesn't mean she'll be a terrible president. It just might not mean she'll be great for women. The question is, can we feminists live with that.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Walk a Mile in These Shoes

I was on the hunt for the perfect pair of summer shoes, an elusive quest at that. But as I trolled through the many shoe Web sites, I noticed something adorning the shoes that caught my eye: a peace symbol. Now, I'm not one to judge another person's footwear. I thought it was cute, at first, on a pair of Michael Kors moccasins. But then I noticed them on a dressy high-heeled sandals from Donald J Pliner. So, what's up with this trend? Of course, peace symbols have been worn on clothing, sure, but as a sign of counter-culture rebellion. But this is high-end foot fashion. Is it simply a commodity, a continuing commercialization of a recognized logo? Or is it a way of the designers to slyly speak out against the war through women's footwear? You decide. These shoes are actually pretty cute.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Big 3-5

Title IX is 35 years old -- you know, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination. Meaning athletic scholarships don't just go for the football players, and maybe some of those football players are women, anyway. Why is Title IX still important when there are more women than men in school these days? Exactly for that reason. Keeps things even. When I think of Title IX, I think of Bill Jean King, the star tennis player who challenged Bobby Riggs -- ranked number 1 in his day -- to a tennis match in a "Battle of the Sexes," and then beat the pants off him. Now we have Venus and Serena Williams. I think of the term "male chauvinist pig," which was really big to say 35 years ago. Now we say O'Reilly. Anniversaries are good for re-telling the good stories. Let's just make sure we keep telling them.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Interview with a Dame

More shameless promotion: check out my interview with the new site, BlogInterviewer. It's a cool new way to get to know your favorite blogs. You can rate my blog and leave a comment!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Flip to the B-Side

And now a shameless plug for the radio show, B-Side. First of all, check out the new site. And, if you haven't seen how easy it is to download or stream our shows, enjoy them with a click of the mouse. The Father's Day show, which at last count aired on three public radio stations across the country, is online now.

Monday, June 18, 2007

So a Pig Walks Into a Bar . . .

Tell me if you've heard this one. Trojan has a new ad campaign out -- "Evolve" -- that CBS and Fox refused to air. Why? Because the message is about pregnancy prevention, not disease prevention. Doesn't one result in the other?

The ad, which you can see here on YouTube opens to a scene of pigs in a bar trying to pick up babes (pun not intended) when one rejected pig swaggers up to the condom machine in the bathroom and is transformed into a hot guy who now gets the attention of the hot woman who had no time for pigs without protection.

So why is it OK for a Viagra ad to be about sex but not a condom ad, you might wonder? You might pose this question to CBS and Fox, who are making this a moral issue. Ads about sex? Shocking! Sadly, the condom industry lags far behind Viagra in sales. An ad selling condoms as a sexy product might just be the boost condoms need to, um, lift sales.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Nancy Drew, Where Are You?

I thought it was a nice coincidence that on my birthday the new Nancy Drew movie would be opening. Imagine, a character that had captured my imagination growing up, even though she was already ancient history (created in the 30s) would be discovered by a new group of fans. Her roadster. Her crime fighting, independent ways, so cool. So smart. So, cute.

Not this Nancy Drew. According to the reviews, she's been re-invented for the iPod age as a sort of time-machine misfit who has stepped out of the 50s suburbs into Hollywood, and even the cool Nancy Drew can barely survive the cynical millenials of today. Ick.

Kids, take it from your elder: skip the movie and read the books.