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.