Monday, May 25, 2009

Clinton Clinches Honorary Degree

Arizona State may not think Obama is worthy of an honorary degree. But Yale doesn't have that problem with the Secretary of State. Hillary Clinton just picked up an honorary degree from her alma mater. And while sculpter Richard Serra and writer John McPhee also were on the honorary degree list from Yale, not so Obama. Better luck next year.
The Myth Exists

A biography of Helen Gurley Brown seems to have ignited an interest in the bygone era of Second Wave feminism. The biography of Brown reclaims her as a feminist for the office workers who couldn't go out and "burn a bra." Oops, did I just help perpetuate the stereotype of the bra-burning feminist? If so, it's not my fault: It's The New York Times's. And The New Yorker's. 

Both invoked that image in sloppily trying to come up with a contrasting impression of women of the time. And, I guess in the interest of deadlines, they made one up. The New York Time did so with its Helen Gurley Brown quiz on money. ("Bad Girls, Good Sense.") And Judith Thurman invoked the image of the bra burner in her review of the biography of the Cosmo editor, "Bad Girls Go Everywhere." Beyond being factually incorrect (you can see my article in Alternet for details), the assumption perpetuates falsely that protesters and nothing to lose but their bras. 

In reality, feminists made the lives off office workers (and all working women, for that matter) better. Thanks to feminism, we now have: workplace parity, equality in wages (or at least more equity than before), child care, flexible work time, parental leave, and the list goes on.

So why does the myth of lingerie immolation persist? It's an easy short hand. But it's not the truth.