Archive for the 'Women' Category



You’ve got to be monkey-flipping kidding me.

Kind of makes you wonder if the scientists involved (all male, I’m sure) were getting a kickback from the feminine-sanitary-products industry.



In case you haven’t laughed yet today


But watch it anyway. It’s hilarious.


An interesting theory

Posed by someone who shall remain nameless. Okay it was me. Upon further thought, it seems somewhat unlikely, but have been pondering it as a possibility over the past 24 hours: That women voted for Trump because they actually don’t feel entitled to having control over their own bodies, finances, lives. That they too would welcome an opportunity to return to the good old days, when men were men and women did the dishes, couldn’t actually be “raped,” since their bodies didn’t actually belong to them, and would give birth to as many children as were “given” to them and be back in their size 4 peg-leg-jeans within 5 weeks of birth.
Still awaiting that explanation I was looking for in my last post …. Somebody? Anybody?


today’s feminist non-rant, aka on my Facebook feed today



(click on the picture to read the article)

Then this:


(“…If you add up, in terms of the numbers of people, I would say that competing for [the] No. 1 [concern] would be violence against females worldwide. If you add up all the forms of violence, whether it’s domestic violence in this country, which is at an enormously high rate — I mean, the most dangerous place for a woman in this country is her own home, and she’s most likely to be beaten or killed by a man she knows — or it is FGM, female genital mutilation, or it is female infanticide, or honor killings or child marriage. … “)

and this:


Too bad that only the last one was from 40 years ago.

And somewhere else.



parenting, marriage, and feminism

First, read this.

How American parenting is killing the American marriage.

And then go and join this page.

And think about these things:

1.  Your children won’t like to hear it (I know Only Daughter didn’t), but your marriage SHOULD be the most important relationship you have. Your children will (hopefully) go off someday and have one of their own. In which case, you are left with this person you have ignored for the previous 20-30 years, and shouldn’t be surprised if you don’t have anything to talk about.

2.  If your whole life revolves around them YOU’RE not getting any adult satisfaction

and your children are growing up thinking that the world revolves around them. And that’s not good for anybody.

For example, there is a lot of pressure on parents to go to EVERY sports event in which their child participates. If the parent has to work, the other parents may even make snarky comments such as “I don’t know what x’s father is thinking” or “I can’t believe y’s mother never comes to these things.” (I actually overheard this at one of the few of First Son’s soccer games I was able to attend.) But, in fact, it’s better for the children if the parents stay home. You can express your interest by asking about the game over THE DINNER THAT YOU EAT TOGETHER, but leave the coaching to the coach, and the cheering to the teammates, and let your child have ownership of something that doesn’t have anything to do with you.

They actually prefer it that way.

3. Children need to do things for themselves, fail, try again, maybe even fail again. They need to do their own homework and their own science projects and face the consequences if they don’t (staying in from recess to finish a homework assignment or getting a bad grade gets the message across a lot more loudly than mom standing over his shoulder at the dinner table yelling at him); and clean their own rooms (and live in their own filth if they don’t) and put their own cream cheese on their own bagels. Nobody gets better at putting their cream cheese on their bagel if somebody else is always doing it for them.  Yes, you could do it better, and neater, and faster. But that’s only because you got lots of practice. (Am I right?) If your child is washing dishes and they’re not clean, position yourself as rinser, and silently hand them back to her to wash again. Hire your child to clean the whole house (not his or her room; that should be automatically their responsibility); if it’s not very clean, don’t pay him very much. He’ll figure it out. (I did this with First Son; he actually sent me a text a few years ago thanking me for “teaching him how to clean.” I never really taught him anything, except that it wasn’t the act of cleaning that counted, but the result.) If they’re not very good at something, have them do it more; it’s clear they need lots of practice.

I teach at a summer arts/music camp, and there are always a few campers whose parents come and hoverhoverhoverhoverhoverhoverhover. These campers don’t usually do very well, and often leave before the end of camp. I don’t think it’s because the campers weren’t ready for camp, but because their parents weren’t.

helicopter-parents 4

This isn’t helping. Maybe there should be a camp for parents, called Hawaii. Or A Life.

If you don’t let children fail, they will learn that “failing” is too awful to contemplate, and probably something they can’t recover from. If you hover around them, you’re telling them that you don’t think they can succeed, and their failure is too awful to contemplate. If you let them fail, and give them encouragement to try again and maybe just a wee bit of guidance or advice to help them succeed (but only if they want it, and only a wee bit), they learn about tenacity and optimism and hope. It seems pretty obvious which of these two we want our children to be learning.

4. Most (not all, but most) of the women I know, myself included, made professional sacrifices in the name of “raising their own children.” Most of these same women are still working part-time, in less challenging/suitable/interesting jobs than they could do, and make significantly less money than their husbands do. And all of you women out there in your 20s and early 30s reading this, and nodding, and thinking, well, yes, of course, but that’s a) not going to happen to me, or b) I won’t mind. The thing is, you might mind. I mind. And the effects of those choices may actually impact your professional choices FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. And, in case you haven’t realized this already, YOU CAN’T GO BACK AND HAVE A REDO.

I used to think that feminism meant we all get to choose what we want to do (and be paid the same for it as men), and nobody gets to give us a hard time about it. It’s kind of that, still, I suppose; but I also think we have a responsibility, to ourselves, our spouses, our children, to

  • have work we love
  • make enough money that we could support ourselves if we have to
  • devote as much time cultivating the relationship we have with our spouse as we do cultivating all the others (children, friends)
  • not feel compelled to sacrifice any of the above without asking our (male) significant other to make them of the same magnitude, and

But maybe it’s just me.



More better feminism

Emma Watson at the UN. Well written, well said.

She’s not “just” Hermione Grainger anymore, although I was a fan of Hermione as well — smarter than the boys, and not afraid to say so.


better feminism

Rather than Beyoncé and her cohorts pole dancing  for 15 minutes and then standing in front of large letters that proclaim their feminism, and getting a lot of credit from women who should know better — like Jessica Valenti — for being “flawless” — The Emperor Has No Clothes!!!, these:


And he’s right — we have to stop labeling this a “women’s issue” — this is everyone’s issue.



true feminism



So it’s not just me!


It’s not (just) about sex

Beyoncé is frequently touted for her championing of women’s causes. She flaunts her curves, speaks her mind, and fosters an attitude of empowerment and strength.

Am I the only one, though, to whom it seems that her message is mostly about sex?

A blogger on BlogHer wrote recently, vehemently praising Beyonce’s “Divine Feminism*,” vaunted on MVA’s award show, and posted a clip of the medley she performed as evidence.

I watched it, and I just don’t see it.

I want to like her (Beyoncé), and I do admire her strength and physicality combined with a definitively female form, but I don’t particularly care for her singing, and her videos/dance routines sidle and strut right up to the borderline of pornography (right around minute 7 of the video).

The banner “Feminist” at the end, with her standing triumphantly in front of it bothers me in particular. Are you truly a feminist if the primary methods you use to proclaim your message is your beauty and your body? Are you a feminist just because you say you are? Is it just me?


I’ve actually struggled with this dichotomy a little bit before, for two different reasons.

First, and most obviously, is the desire for women to have the right to appreciate/value their own bodies, to embrace their curves, to take agency for their own lives and choices, to own and be proud of their sexuality, etc. etc. BUT it seems that we should be able to do that without being expected to wear clothes that are skin-tight, expose our midriff, slit up to here or down to there, with shoes that are bad for our backs at best and possibly outright harmful to our feet, ankles, or knees. At the same time, it seems that we should be able to wear whatever we want without necessarily broadcasting ourselves as “available,” which might be construed as “asking for it,” and for which women are then blamed.

Wet Seal/Sex Kitten ad

Wet Seal/Sex Kitten ad

I have to teach my daughter how to dress not because there is anything inherently wrong with what she wants to wear, but because of the possible perceived message that might be received by an unknown and unidentified Other Person (male) and the risk that he then might act on his misperceived message without taking steps to appropriately verify it with the supposed sender. This doesn’t really seem fair to me. It also seems that men should know that a women wearing high heels and a short skirt aren’t “asking for it,” unless they actually, well, ask for it. Wow. The dichotomy just got even more complicated, and now seems to be a trichotomy. Or worse.

Maybe I’m over-thinking it.

Secondly (?), and probably more importantly: isn’t feminism (supposed to be) about more than sex? Equal pay for equal work, equal opportunities, family dynamics that don’t expect women to be primary maid/chef/dishwasher/child rearer while also employed outside the home? How about battling for the possibility that what might be construed as a “feminine” approach to leadership (cooperation, team-building), combined with acceptance of women who display “masculine” traits (assertiveness, confidence), might actually be just the thing that many businesses/academic departments/governments need?

At one point in the BlogHer post, the author writes: “Beyoncé consistently puts forward a message of female empowerment that is firmly centered on the feminine divine*, holding up women as powerful sexual agents of their own (forgive me) destinies, talents and desires. . .What’s more, she positioned her sexual empowerment as ‘feminist’ with the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoken word interlude and text background affirming the feminist message that girls be allowed to own and control their sexuality, just as boys are, without worrying that they are threatening men.”

Fine, yes, fantastic, I totally agree. But is that really the first and most important thing that most of us are talking about when we say we’re feminists?

Maybe at one point in the medley Beyoncé actually did get into the topics of “. . .all roles of the divine feminine*, from seductress to lover to mother to teacher, presented it as Capital F feminist. . .”  but I just couldn’t get that far.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a prude. I’m proud of my cleavage, I’m proud of my curves, I love sex, and can curse like a sailor when the situation warrants it (dropped plates, knitting problems, bad drivers).  I just think there are more layers to feminism than sexual empowerment. Besides wishing more of our discourse could revolve around these layers, I actually think it’s harmful that so many of the discussions seem to need to start with sexual empowerment issues and hardly, if at all, go beyond.

As women we need to learn to stand up for ourselves, to be proud of the qualities that make us who we are, no matter whether those qualities are “masculine” or “feminine.”  Everyone needs to learn acceptance of those qualities in everyone else — nurturing, assertiveness, thoughtfulness, ambition. Everyone needs to stop labeling things by gender — no such thing as “toys for girls” vs. “toys for boys” or “jobs for girls” vs. “jobs for boys.” Jobs need to be awarded according to someone’s ability to fulfill them; household tasks need to be divided fairly; boys need to be taught it’s okay to express their feelings or to cry and that they need to cook and do dishes and clean the bathroom just as much as the girls do; girls that it’s okay to be proud of their accomplishments, to assert their opinions or ask questions without apologizing, not necessarily to have children.

Then everyone can call themselves a “feminist,” except we won’t need that word anymore.

(*gag; I feel the same way about this expression as I do about “Bucket List” and “panties.”)


Grrrr. + a little from Jessica Valenti

Jill Abramson fired.

Yes, it’s personal.

I was told once, by a man (big surprise), that I would not be considered for a full-time professor position because my “demeanor” at that institution as an adjunct was more suitable to that of a tenured professor; in other words, I didn’t know my place.

I was told another time, by a different man (big surprise) that I would not be interviewed for a full-time position (at another institution where I had been working quite collegially for 6 or 7 years) because, while I seemed to have all of the requisite qualifications, he had concerns about my “collegiality” — despite the fact that I got along perfectly well with every single other person on the faculty except one, who everyone there knew was probably crazy.  A few days later, another (man) on the faculty told me not to take it personally, even though it was, quite clearly, personal.

In case you didn’t click on the 2nd link above, here’s Nora Ephron:“Don’t underestimate how much antagonism there is toward women and how many people wish we could turn the clock back. One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is, don’t take it personally, but listen hard to what’s going on and, please, I beg you, take it personally. Understand: every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you. Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: get back, get back to where you once belonged. When Elizabeth Dole pretends that she isn’t serious about her career, that is an attack on you. The acquittal of O.J. Simpson is an attack on you. Any move to limit abortion rights is an attack on you — whether or not you believe in abortion. The fact that Clarence Thomas is sitting on the Supreme Court today is an attack on you.”

I recently tried to hire a woman I knew as a student at a much earlier job, and then a friend-of-a-friend, both very accomplished violinists who perform with my local city’s symphony orchestra, to be involved in a chamber music group a trumpeter (male, but not in a  bad way) and I are trying to put together. The first is taking a year of reduced work to take care of her “babies” (3 and 1 1/2); the second demurred, too busy driving her children to soccer practice and piano lessons. I wonder why the women always demure, defer, (I did, too, for a while);  why the men rarely do. I know the husbands of these two women. There is no deferring involved.

It’s not just others turning the clock back; we turn it back on ourselves. I wonder if I’d had different role models — not even my mother necessarily, but women my age “going for it” when I should have been — if I would have made different choices. It’s definitely too late, in that there’s no turning back time (If I could. . . Cher?), and my son scoffed at my suggestion once that, if we took the right advice we could live a life free of regret, but I can’t help but wonder.

“One of the strangest anti-feminist stereotypes to me – among the Birkenstock-wearing and bra-burning – is the idea that we’re unhappy. Angry. Bitter. Both because the foundation of the insult is the assumption that women should be perpetually happy, and because the truth is that the culture doesn’t actually mind if women are unhappy – so long as we keep it to ourselves. Women’s distress directed inward – from eating disorders to feelings of inadequacy – keeps the status quo moving along, with diet pills selling through the roof and women asking for promotions far less often than their male counterparts. But when our dissatisfaction takes an outward turn, people get uncomfortable. Then, women’s emotions are ‘hysterical’ or over-the-top. Anything less than a bubbly disposition means that we’re ‘bitches.’ Hell hath no fury like a man who finds a woman displeasing.” (Jessica Valenti)





The Ideal Woman

from The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton:

The ideal woman, in his mind, was one devoted to the project of her own enhancement, who was accomplished in the female arts of embroidery, piano-playing, pressing leaves, and the like; who sang sweetly, read quietly, and demurred to all opinion; who was a charming and priceless collectible; who loved, above all things, to be loved.”


Well at least there’s the piano-playing.



Why We Still Need “Feminism”

Reblogged from here.

Why Society Still Needs Feminism

Because to men, a key is a device to open something. For women, it’s a weapon we hold between our fingers when we’re walking alone at night.

Because the biggest insult for a guy is to be called a “pussy,” a “little bitch” or a “girl.” From here on out, being called a “pussy” is an effing badge of honor.

Because last month, my politics professor asked the class if women should have equal representation in the Supreme Court, and only three out of 42 people raised their hands.

Because rape jokes are still a thing.

Because despite being equally broke college kids, guys are still expected to pay for dates, drinks and flowers.

Because as a legit student group, Campus Fellowship does not allow women to lead anything involving men. Look, I know Eve was dumb about the whole apple and snake thing, but I think we can agree having a vagina does not directly impact your ability to lead a college organization.

Because it’s assumed that if you are nice to a girl, she owes you sex — therefore, if she turns you down, she’s a bitch who’s put you in the “friend zone.” Sorry, bro, women are not machines you put kindness coins into until sex falls out.

Because only 29 percent of American women identify as feminist, and in the words of author Caitlin Moran, “What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Did all that good shit get on your nerves? Or were you just drunk at the time of the survey?”

Because when people hear the term feminist, they honestly think of women burning bras. Dude, have you ever bought a bra? No one would burn them because they’re freaking expensive.

Because Rush Limbaugh.

Because we now have a record number of women in the Senate … which is a measly 20 out of 100. Congrats, USA, we’ve gone up to 78th place for women’s political representation, still below China, Rwanda and Iraq.

Because recently I had a discussion with a couple of well-meaning Drake University guys, and they literally could not fathom how catcalling a woman walking down University Avenue is creepy and sexist. Could. Not. Fathom.

Because on average, the tenured male professors at Drake make more than the tenured female professors.

Because more people on campus complain about chalked statistics regarding sexual assault than complain about the existence of sexual assault. Priorities? Have them.

Because 138 House Republicans voted against the Violence Against Women Act. All 138 felt it shouldn’t provide support for Native women, LGBT people or immigrant women. I’m kind of confused by this, because I thought LGBT people and women of color were also human beings.
Weird, right?

Because a girl was roofied last semester at a local campus bar, and I heard someone say they think she should have been more careful. Being drugged is her fault, not the fault of the person who put drugs in her drink?

Because Chris Brown beat Rihanna so badly she was hospitalized, yet he still has fans and bestselling songs and a tattoo of an abused woman on his neck.

Because out of 7 billion people on the planet, more than 1 billion women will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes. Women and girls have their clitorises cut out, acid thrown on them and broken bottles shoved up them as an act of war. Every second of every day. Every corner of the Earth.

Because the other day, another friend of mine told me she was raped, and I can no longer count on both my hands the number of friends who have told me they’ve been sexually assaulted. Words can’t express how scared I am that I’m getting used to this.

Because a brief survey of reality will tell you that we do not live in a world that values all people equally and that sucks in real, very scary ways. Because you know we live in a sexist world when an awesome thing with the name “feminism” has a weird connotation. Because if I have kids someday, I want my son to be able to have emotions and play dress up, and I want my daughter to climb trees and care more about what’s in her head than what’s on it. Because I don’t want her to carry keys between her fingers at night to protect herself.

Because feminism is for everybody, and this is your official invitation.




Coolest “F word” ever

We should, all, be Feminists.


and the rant continues

Firstly, good for Pantene. I wash my hair with baking soda now, but if I didn’t I would use Pantene just because of this ad.

Secondly, what can we do to change this? Frankly, I’m fed up with exactly this thing. Women are still, in the 21st century forcryingoutloud, expected to be quiet, agreeable, friendly, nurturing, submissive.

WE’RE NOT!! At least not all the time. Or at least we shouldn’t be. Especially not submissive.

It’s time the world got used to it. Who knows, it might just be good for all of us.


what do they, we, really look like?

Makes me wonder sometimes if I even see myself when I look in the mirror.


the week in pictures

When a student of mine graduates from high school, I always buy them Michael Jordan’s I Can’t Accept Not Trying. I found the book way back in the ’90s, and found it to be inspirational and to resonate from athletics to music to life, as so many things do.

It’s been out of print for a while, so when I need a copy now I must buy them used. I have a student graduating, and an upper-level high schooler moving this year, so I just acquired two copies. Opening them up to write a little note, I discovered this:


Isn’t that sweet?

The book has never been opened.

Mark’s a loser. Mom clearly overestimated his ability to read, process, and appreciate the messages regarding tenacity, discipline, and commitment contained therein.

Is that ironic?

Actually, that’s not even the case, since Mark never bothered to read it. Mark didn’t even respect his loving and devoted mother enough to READ IT.

Mark’s a loser. Mom’s admiration is misdirected. I’m deeply saddened by the dismissiveness embodied in the fact that this book was sold to me for $1.99 (I paid a LOT more for shipping than I did for the book; is that ironic?), discarded by a thoughtless and inconsiderate young man.


Three guesses which magazine this is on the back cover of:

yoga thighs

 My letter to the editor:

I am profoundly disappointed by the photo featured on the back cover of the June 2013 issue of Yoga Journal.

I read the magazine as part of an ongoing pursuit of a balanced, meaningful, enlightened life. A reference to, and picture of, a pole dancer does not seem to be in support of this.

I try to overlook the fact that the majority of your yoga models have super-model body types; I try to overlook the ads that feature women who are “skinny” rather than healthy and fit. But this seems to go too far. There are so many images in the media portraying unrealistic body types for women, sending subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle messages to women about how they should look and conveying the idea that women are primarily sexual objects. I would hope that YJ could be one place that didn’t.

I also like to leave the magazine out for piano students, friends, my daughter, to leaf through. This one I feel I need to hide. 

Kathryn Budig is finally clothed, but we have an image of a woman participating in the sex trade on the back instead.

It seems that more thought could be put into these types of things, and some editorial guidance might be more judiciously applied. 

Meanwhile, I will be looking for a different yoga magazine to subscribe to.



In pursuit of a balanced, meaningful, enlightened life, I planted some perennials and annuals and a bush and a tree yesterday. I decided, in my infinite wisdom, since I was planting some 4″ pots in the midst of a lot of very persistent ground cover, to use the small planting shovel.

Here is my right palm:

bruised hand

The circles are around bruises (the arrow thing wouldn’t make an arrow).

They really hurt.

I’m a pianist. This was really really stupid.

I could barely stand to push the cart at costco today, and this is NOT a commentary on the sizes of the packages contained therein (although do we really need to buy ziploc sandwich bags 600 at a time?).*

Hopefully next week will be a little less ridiculous.

*We are spending a lot less on groceries.


why I hate Don Draper, and can’t stop watching

I’ll admit I’m kind of a latecomer as far as Mad Men is concerned.

Heard about it now and again for a while, but didn’t start watching it until about 6 months ago. Caught up through Season 4 on Netflix, and then waited, and waited, . . .  and waited. . . . . . . for Season 5. Just noticed a couple of weeks ago that it was available, I believe the day before Season 6 started airing on AMC, so have been playing a frantic game of catch-up.

Some of it is a bit overblown, although I wonder if it seems overblown in the “enlightened” two-thousand-teens  compared to what it was really like in the 60s. (ha!) I fear that maybe it’s not overblown at all.  I do especially love the depiction of Peggy and Joan in their efforts to be taken seriously as professional (women) while not really wanting to give up actually being perceived as actual women. Unfortunately some of their battles don’t seem all that different from battles still being fought.

But except for Henry, all of the men are pleasepardonmyFrench assholes. And of course, Henry, not being an asshole, is married to a woman who is so bored she’s gained 30 pounds. (Of course, within 2 episodes, she’s lost it all, despite the “half pound a week” or “maintaining” progress noted during her Weight Watcher’s meetings.)(No one said it was a true story.)


But Don. What’s to be done about Don.

The writers do a good job of, just when you have decided that Don has no redeeming qualities at all, re-humanizing him. He displayed great sympathy (albeit in retrospect) for Peggy when she unexpectedly  —  to her and everyone else (really? she didn’t know she was pregnant? this is a reasonably smart woman, how would you not know you were pregnant?) — had a baby, gave it up for adoption, and suffered some kind of breakdown afterwards. He displayed great empathy when he went to Joan to tell her not to sleep with a potential deal-maker-or-breaker for a new ad campaign (too late, but he didn’t know that at the time).

We get to see him wrestle with his demons — his dead-too-soon prostitute mother, his resentful, dishonest father, his disillusionment with his chosen career despite his virtuosity at it, his need to be taken care of and his refusal to be vulnerable. But he is newly married to a stunning woman, Megan, (who adores him), and still needs (?) to have an affair with the doctor’s wife downstairs. This is the wife of a doctor he has befriended; a woman who has offered understanding and sympathy to Megan despite the fact that she is SLEEPING WITH HER HUSBAND, and then humbly admits that she has no right to be jealous.

The fact that Don was faithful while Megan was working at the agency with him, and still when she was basically staying at home while pursuing an acting career at which he had no faith in her ever succeeding reveals his vulnerability. The fact that the day she acted in her first professional role he apparently (it was only implied) resumed his previous role as a five-star cheating sleazeball is also probably supposed to reveal this vulnerability. I wonder if it is the writer’s goal that this also seems to reveal his complete lack of maturity and character. Probably. Maybe this is the kind of nuance that keeps me watching. Or maybe I’m making more of it than there is.

I will also admit that I am still completely puzzled by the bizarre scene when Megan was upset with Don because he was unhappy about her throwing him a surprise party, so she begins cleaning up the apartment in her black, lacy bra and panties while scolding Don like a shrew. Don was oddly turned on, apparently as much by the scolding as by the attire. What he actually needs is his mother?

The depiction of the struggle of women to find their place both professionally and in the home is compellingly told. Many of the wives seem to know that their husbands are unfaithful — how could they not, really? — but don’t mind as long as they’re discrete. (Pete’s busted as of last night. What a whining sycophant he is. I still can’t figure out why Don brought him along when they began their new agency. He clearly loathes him, as do we all, and as we should, although he displayed a bit of humanity toward one of the women he had an affair with, but that hardly counts. I guess he’s good at what the agency needs him for — to be a sycophant.)

Joan could gain more of my sympathy if she didn’t use her feminine (ahem) qualities so blatantly — could her dress be any tighter? Could she sway her hips any more when she walks? She is a partner now (albeit for nefarious reasons, see paragraph 6 above), does she still have to wear that pen around her neck so it dangles right there between her quite ample bosoms? It reminds me of my post once about this “professional” outfit in Victoria’s Secret:


Nothing like a bandeau top to tell the world to take women seriously in the workplace.

I do love that she is a full-bodied, fearless, ambitious woman playing the role of a real person, living comfortably and happily in her skin and not wishing she were a stick. Maybe we should just focus on that.

CHRISTINA HENDRICKS at Promo Shoot for Mad Men Season 5

All part of the idiom I guess.

And I can’t stop watching.


you will be pretty ________________ (wait for it)


is it really true?

Two thoughts, as I head off to bed to start reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.

I commented to Husband tonight that the three most loyal and vocal followers on my blog are all men* (and he’s not one of them; guess he hears enough from me in the real world). He replies that he thinks that there are quite a lot of men out there who really appreciate and enjoy women, and that women, often, are not really all that supportive of each other.

While I think this is not true in terms of personal relationships — except for him, all of my truly close friends in my “real” life are women, I do think it can be true professionally.

And this got me thinking about something Ms. Sandberg apparently says in her book (I am remembering this from an interview; perhaps the NPR one I referenced a few posts ago) — that women look around at the few other women around “the table,” and realize that only one of them is going to get promoted, as the token Woman in a Position of Power, so, therefore, the other women are her direct competitors. And not in a we’re-all-going-to-do-our-best-and-whoever-does-it-best-gets-the-prize-GO-Team!!!; but in a we’re-all-going-to-do-our-best-and-whoever-doesn’t-piss-off-the-most-men-by-appearing-to-be-shrill-or-godforbidbossyassertive-is-g0ing-to-get-the-prize.

She wants us to demand a place at the table, to raise our hands, to speak our minds.

But what about when we’ve done that, over and over and over again, and it’s only hurt us?

Then what?

. . .  Guess I’ll have to read the book and find out.

Or maybe not.

*Thank you oldblack, Quieter Elephant, and TEStazyk


March is Feminist Manifesto Month

(Because I say so.)

Shall I read this first?

Or this?.

Or this?


and we’re just not horrified enough

The woman, whose intestines were removed because of injuries caused by a metal rod used during the rape, has not been identified. She was flown to Singapore on Wednesday night after undergoing three abdominal operations at a local hospital. She had also suffered a major brain injury, cardiac arrest, and infections of the lungs and abdomen. “She was courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds, but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome,” Dr. Loh’s statement said.

As many of you have been, probably,  I have been thinking and thinking and thinking about this horrific story. I hesitate to lead off with the gruesome description above. Do any of us really want to think about this in such a graphic way? But it happened. Do we have a right to pretend it didn’t? Do we have an obligation to look at it, directly, and talk about it? I can’t even really decide if I can write about it — what can I possibly say that we either aren’t already thinking/don’t already know or that can make any kind of change in this world in which we live?

I had actually heard mention of this probably a dozen times before I could even bear to look for and read about it. Contrary to the belief that what we imagine is usually worse than the truth, this is even more horrifying than I could have imagined possible.

I can’t help but wonder about the other people on the bus. About the bus driver. How do you watch something like this happen and not do anything? I get fear, and self preservation, and all that, but what about humanity?

I shudder to imagine.

Sohaila Abdulali posted this op-ed in response, to the rape and to the protests which followed. I watched her being interviewed, and thought what a remarkable, courageous, articulate woman she was, and what a triumph it is for her that she has obviously moved past her own horrifying ordeal so that it no longer defines her. I don’t know if I could do the same. I am grateful for her that she had a family that supported her and didn’t fill her head with rubbish about how it was her fault and how she should be ashamed and how she brought that shame to the whole family.


There’s a lot of talk about how women are treated in places such as India and Africa and the more fundamentalist-Islam countries like Iran and Syria and Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. They are objects, to be owned and beaten and manipulated and controlled at will, and the loss of their virtue somehow not the loss of THEIR virtue, but the loss of their “owner’s” (brother, father, husband) honor.

We’ve heard the stories of the women in refugee camps in Africa whose legs are slashed by their rapists so that their husbands will know of their dishonor and not allow them to return home TO RAISE THEIR OWN CHILDREN. We’ve heard the stories of the young woman in Afghanistan who was attacked by her brother WITH AN AXE because he believed she had left her husband (much older, by an arranged marriage) and gone to another town with another man. This belief was unsubstantiated, but it didn’t really matter, because if it was rumored, even possibly true, the dishonor was too great to be borne by anyone. We’ve heard the stories of clitoral circumcision and of pre-pubescent girls being married to men in their 50s and of girls not allowed to go to school or drive or walk on the street with anyone but their brother or husband.

And we’re just not horrified enough.

Or the woman who had acid thrown in her face. Or how lesbian women in Africa are subjected to “corrective rape,” as if being brutally assaulted by a male will convert them from feeling a stronger romantic pull towards women.

And we’re just not horrified enough.

Girls and young women in India are being encouraged to stay home after dark; or to go out and to challenge the police to actually protect them. (Hmmm, why does this not sound like a good idea?) Boys and young men in India are being encouraged to behave properly, but female fetuses are still aborted at an astonishing rate and males are served their meals first, and sometimes separately, and sometimes need to finish before the females eat at all. One of the protestors viewed in one of the NYTimes articles was holding a sign beseeching men to “imagine she’s your sister” — but brothers are doing horrifying things to their sisters in the name of “honor.”

How about “imagine she’s a person”?

It’s so easy to demonize or dehumanize our enemies — Saddam Hussein in his “spider hole,” etc. I have always wondered if that describes the perpetrators accurately, or if it just makes it easier for us to hate them. And then I imagine these men, who were capable of such brutal cruelty, and try to imagine them as “people.” I just can’t. But I think part of the bigger problem is that they couldn’t possibly have seen that this woman was a person. I can’t imagine they would do this to another man, or even to a dog they found on the street. Yet they had the capacity to attack this woman so viciously SHE HAD TO HAVE HER INTESTINES REMOVED.

I feel such tremendous pain and sadness, from my head to my heart to the deepest part of my being. We can get all up in arms because Hilary was told as a young girl that girls didn’t become astronauts, or that op-ed writers think it’s appropriate to question her extensive travel as an exercise in vanity. And yes, we should be horrified about these things as well — all, in a way, part of the same problem.

We’re women, so we’re told that we’re less. Less smart, less strong, less capable, just less. We should even weigh less, talk less, be satisfied with less.

And we’re just not horrified enough.


does less = more?

As those of you who have been reading this blog for a while probably know, I would usually like to weigh a little less* and fit into my clothes better. I oscillate between wanting to live life fully, enjoying good food and wine and meals with family and friends and striving for better habits in terms of eating more healthfully, getting more exercise (yoga, walking, an occasional training-for-a-theoretical-5K every once in a while) and drinking more water (and less scotch). To varying success, all of it.

When I recently realized that I was even “outgrowing” my “fat pants” I decided that drastic measures needed to be taken. I am now 5 days into the 14-day first phase of the South Beach diet — no potatoes, no bread, no rice, no pasta, no sugar, NO WINE or alcohol or any sort. Lots and lots of water.

Today I actually find myself 600 calories under what I’m allowed/supposed to eat, and I don’t even want them. I had kale for dinner (Only Daughter conceded that it “wasn’t awful,” high praise from an 11-year-old gymnast-turned-ballerina. It’s a long story. Another time.) I’ve lost a few pounds, and feel pretty good, and am not actually starving, etc. etc. But I don’t want to do this by starving myself either, because I know then I’ll just put it back on.


At the same time I’m reading Hungry, the book/memoir (if one can call a book written by a 23-year-old a “memoir”) by the “plus-size” (12. As if.) model Chrystal Renn. Here are “before” and “after” photos: before, contrary to the usual arrangement, being when she had managed to starve herself into a 98-lb vacant-eyed, non-menstruating version of her former self, and after being when she had begun to eat again and had returned to a healthy weight, where she now stays and has a wonderful modeling career as a vibrant, healthy, voluptuous woman:



The one on the right is “plus size”? Seriously?

So, I am my usual conflicted self. Am I eliminating carbs and sugar to regain some control over my food cravings and get my body to a healthy weight, or am I succumbing to the pressures of society and trying to conform to a weightmeaningimage imposed upon me by people whose only concern is that they make me feel badly about myself so I buy their product/join their gym?

Husband was not home tonight, so I sat on the couch after a very long and busy day and watched Frasier reruns. Amongst the awful and incessant commercials aired during an hour and a half of television there were 11 commercials for diet programs and/or “diet” foods, 2 commercials for anti-aging makeup, as well as one commercial each for an artificial sweetener, the “Curves” exercise facility, and for Gorton’s grilled fish, “only 80 calories per serving.”

Is it any wonder we’re all so filled with self-loathing? Does makeup really keep me from aging? Is aging such an awful proposition? Is buying processed, pre-grilled fish really a healthy alternative for someone who cares about the food he or she is putting into his or her body? (I should just say she/her — in all of those commercials, only ONE of the “protagonists” was male — and he was having his powdered donut being crumbled into bits by his loving and “supportive” significant other.)

Maybe it’s just me, but the one on on the left in the photo above is clearly starving; the one on the right is vibrant and strong and sexy and alive.

And not that far off from where I am right now.

Maybe if I just lose 5-10 more pounds.


*Is it Freudian? I actually just started to proof this and realized I had written “I usually want to weigh a little more. . .” Pah.


do “they” just not get it, or don’t I?

Apparently, there are a lot of women, (the NY Times cites them as being white, not-college-educated,) who are having difficulty deciding between voting for Obama or Mitt Romney.

This woman is described as representative of the sample:

She voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but is now torn. Mr. Obama has not lived up to his promise, she said. “My husband and I both have to work full time, and we’re just getting by.”

But she is not thrilled with Mitt Romney either. She said he would set women back because he did not understand their needs.

“Women worked so hard to get where we are today and to take our rights away from us is — no,” she said, shaking her head.

Behold the coveted female swing voter of 2012.

Let’s see: You have to work full time to pay your bills. (Um, btw, so do most of us, as we did before Obama was president, and will certainly have to do after Mitt’s president. Or does she think Mitt’s going to chip in to pay the cable bill?).

But Mitt doesn’t understand women’s needs.

Why do I not see these as equally valid, equally weighty arguments?

I must be missing something, because apparently this is not just this one person, but a measurable trend across the country.

Can somebody explain it to me? I don’t get it, and, actually, (believe it or not,) I want to understand.


I’m Not a Mother First, Updated

Tried to re-blog this through the original post, but it doesn’t seem to be working.

Excellent blog post here commenting on an article from The Nation by Jessica Valenti regarding the rhetoric of motherhood here. Some really interesting comments and discussion.Reminds me a little of this post I wrote a while ago.

My favorite bit of the article: “Fathers are never expected to subsume their identity into parenthood the way that mothers are. If President Obama were to tell us that he is ’father-in-chief’ first, America would balk. How could a man be an effective president if he put the needs of his children above the needs of his country?

Yes, we are mothers and sisters and daughters and wives. We’re also much more. And declaring our individual importance as people and citizens does not diminish the depth of love we have for our children or the central role parenthood plays in our lives.

When we tout ourselves mothers first, women give those who would enshrine their dehumanization more firepower and assure that their domestic work will only ever be paid in thanks, not in policy or power. Until that changes, I’m a mother second.”

What do YOU think?



Read this.

Just two questions:

1.  How can a woman be a Republican any more than a woman can be a Muslim?

2. “Forcible” rape? As opposed to the other kind?

This paragraph in particular stands out to me:

“What is very disturbing to me is that people like Mr. Akin who have postulated this secret mechanism for avoiding pregnancy have developed their own make-believe world of science based on entirely self-serving beliefs of convenience or just ignorance,” he said. “I don’t think we want these people to be responsible for the lives of others.”

Sounds too much like too many versions of religion.



We can all, actually, have it all (but who wants it?)

Kristin Howterton posted recently on the underlying tension of gender roles in the pursuit of an egalitarian marriage. You can read it here.

The underlying premise is that, despite our (meaning, mostly women’s) efforts to find equality in both the home and the workplace, many women still feel guilty getting home to see their husbands cooking dinner with a crying toddler on his hip or wonder whether it’s fair to expect that men should PROBABLY contribute to the household chores if their wives are working outside the home.

I know, right?

Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but this kind of thing does not make me feel guilty.

I responded at length, including replies to other commenters.

Most substantially:

I think we all learned the lessons of our childhood, and watching our parents, and have to struggle with these lessons, maybe just a little. But when I read these two sentences:

“When I walk though the door and see him cooking dinner with a crying toddler on this hip, I get a gut check that says, ‘Oh dear. I should be doing that.'”


“I think people our age have wised up to the idea that if a woman works, then the husband should probably step it up and help with some of the domestic duties as well.”

I just want to weep.

You think you should be doing that, but he shouldn’t? And the husband should PROBABLY step up? Ugh.

It’s his household as much as yours, his children as much as yours; and even if they’re not “his” children, but, say, maybe even “only” his stepchildren, his marriage to you makes him an equal partner in domestic needs if he wants to be an equal partner in domestic bliss.

I think there are ways people can balance things. I knew a couple once where the mom stayed at home, so the “housework” was her job, but when he was home, the childrearing was shared. That seemed fair. I guess you could do a proportional thing: he works 40 hours per week to her 30 so she does 60% of the housework. I guess you could even divide it proportionally to reflect the amount of money brought in, but I think that’s a terrible idea and think I shouldn’t even suggest it. (The jury will disregard the last statement.) My husband make 50% more money than I do, but my scheduled work time far exceeds his, so he does most of the cooking, laundry, and shopping. I clean when I can get to it. It works for us.

No shoulds, no probablys about it.

Fortuitously, Anne-Marie Slaughter writes in the issue of The Atlantic about “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.”

It’s a very good article. It’s long, but worth it. Some of the best stuff is at the end.

Her arguments could be summarized thusly:

Women can have it all, but only if there is a radical paradigm shift, including if men start demanding the right to have it all, too. Meaning that it’s not a sign of unprofessionalism or a lack of commitment for ANYONE to want to take time to take care of their children, their aging/ailing parents, or even, GASP, themselves.

The idea that women who take a different track so as to raise their own children are NOT less ambitious; the realization that one of the biggest challenges is that the hours of a school day continue not to coincide with the hours of a work day (we won’t even talk about the havoc wreaked by snow days and 2-hour delays); the fact that women have to make trade-offs that men do not — these are realizations that can and should trigger real change, change that requires an effort by the majority of us out there, male AND female, or they won’t.

Ms. Slaughter ends with a goal, if not a challenge:

I continually push the young women in my classes to speak more. They must gain the confidence to value their own insights and questions, and to present them readily. My husband agrees, but he actually tries to get the young men in his classes to act more like the women–to speak less and listen more. If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal. We must insist on changing social policies and bending career tracks to accommodate our choices, too. We have the power to do it if we decide to, and we have many men standing besides us.

We’ll create a better society in the process, for all women. We may need to put a woman in the White House before we are able to change the conditions of the women working at Walmart. But when we do, we will stop talking about whether women can have it all. We will properly focus on how we can help all Americans have healthy, happy, productive lives, valuing the people they love as much as the success they seek.

That’s the ticket.

Where do I sign?


sex sells

Even Kias, the ultimate “family” car.

Am I the only one who’s tired of women’s bodies being used to sell EVERYTHING? I guess it’s supposed to be acceptable because he’s “only” dreaming, and he “rescues” his wife from the handsome interloper on the white horse at the end.

But still, what does this

or this

have to do with owning a midsize sedan?

I know, I know, it’s advertising, the whole point of which is to convince us that if we buy this thing or use this shampoo we will be sexy and desirable;

(just look at the adoration with which she is gazing at him as he drives away in his stodgy-white-middle-aged-man car)

but I’M SO TIRED of women’s bodies being the primary selling point.

Besides, the premise is ridiculous. You’re a pasty-faced, middle-aged, middle class worker bee. She’s just not that into you.

I guess I could be comforted by the fact that the rest of this man-fantasy involves a giant sub sandwich and Motley Crue signaling their approval as he drives through their performance arena (likethatwouldeverhappen); and then some cowboy riding a rhino. . .a little bizarre, but logical in some kind of a surreal way.

I know, I should stop being such a feminist fuddy-duddy. Or maybe I should just stop watching television.


supermodels and actresses, sometimes without makeup

I stumbled across this article recently because a friend had posted it on her facebook page.

(As an aside, I feel it necessary to point out that I, being of an older, more paranoid generation, went to the website myself, so that facebook wouldn’t feel compelled to tell the world that I had read the article. But that’s a topic for another day.)

Jennifer Lawrence without makeup

If you enter Jennifer Lawrence’s name into the Bing search engine,

(As an aside, I feel it necessary to point out that I, being of an older, more paranoid generation, no longer use Google, since Google seems to think it is perfectly acceptable not only to track my use of the internet, including the words I might write in an email message, but to use this use and these words to target advertising to me, AND remove my ability to stop it.)

you get page after page of beautiful images.

As you should; she’s a beautiful girl.

But if you enter “Jennifer Lawrence without makeup” you get page after page of snarky people, oh so happy to give her a hard time because she actually looks like a person.

Including this:

Now isn’t that charming.

(And clearly a man, although I didn’t dignify it by clicking on it, and I ask you not to either. Hence the lack of a link. If you can’t resist, well, you have your own conscience to face.)

Today someone had put this article, from “Yahoo! News” (now there’s an oxymoron if there ever was one): Supermodels without Photoshop.

(As an aside, I feel it necessary to point out that I, oh, never mind. . .)

This seemed related to the post that was percolating in my mind, so I went there to see more. Most of the pictures were of perfectly beautiful girls looking perfectly beautiful but without makeup. There was one picture of a trio of supermodels waiting for the Glamour photographer to snap his shot.

The one on the left is obviously anorexic, the one in the middle is a “plus-size” model, which probably just means that she can buy clothes off the rack, and her suit bottom seems to be a size too small, but she seems to have a perfectly beautiful, normal, womanly shape. The one on the right seems to have left her hips at home, but I’m sure once the photographer starts clicking she can jut one off to the side to make herself appear to have at least one.

Oh, look, she can. Good for her.

Aside: I’m always curious about this, as the majority of models have quite voluptuous breasts [without our knowing whether they are “real” or not] and no hips to speak of. Yet they always stand in hip-jutting poses, demonstrating clearly that having hips is desirable. Is the non-existent-yet-jutting hip somehow neater or sexier than the actual hip? Is there, for example, something wrong with her?

or do you remember when Kate Winslet was in Titanic, and people said she was “fat”?

Anyway, the “author” of the “article” poses this difficult and thought-provoking question:

Ya’ think?


Not a war?

Sez who? (Lots of people; mostly male Republicans, but whatever.)


Just when you think it can’t get more ridiculous.

Maybe this can be a sign of hope?



Read this, and watch the clips.

Take a good look at the young woman who is faulted for having “too big” of hips.

And then refuse to buy a single magazine with an underage, emaciated, and/or exploited female model in it.

Who knows, it might actually make a difference.


the battle over women’s reproductive rights

Diane Rehm had several women on today talking about women’s reproductive rights.

One of her guests was Phyllis Schlafly. This woman is an idiot, and should be completely ignored. Maybe we can send her and Rush off to some remote island somewhere and never have to hear from either one of them again. Seems like a match made in heaven: Mr. and Mrs. Misogynistic.

Her claims were many, and all equally ridiculous: single moms are all churning out babies out of wedlock so that they can solicit handouts from Obama’s government; feminists are all anti-men, anti-family; women WANT their reproductive rights to be limited which is why they keep voting for ultra-conservative Republican white men.

Diane did a poor job challenging any of these opinions. She must have been feeling under the weather. I’m very disappointed.

The comments on the website include bizarre, paradoxical claims such as that women want big government to protect their reproductive rights so that they can keep having babies and end up in poverty. Yeah. That makes sense. There also seems to be the belief that erectile disfunction is a “medical condition” but pregnancy (or ovarian cysts, or irregular or hemorragiac menstrual cycles) is/are not. Right.

I expect more from NPR and Diane. Ms. Schlafly shouldn’t have been given the opportunity to air such foolishness. I’m sure they could have found SOMEONE less ridiculous to support the claim that women’s reproductive rights are not under attack.

Or maybe not.


Happy Women’s Day!

Just saw this on, quoting Gloria Steinem:

The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.



untangling the tangles

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I was going to start a new project — one Goldberg Variation a week until the whole piece is learned.

Yesterday I started the first Variation.

But let me digress for a moment.

I’ve noticed over the past several months that when I’m feeling emotionally turmoiled (isthataword?) I turn to Bach. At the end of a particularly long day or in the middle of a stressful week or after a difficult or disappointing conversation or encounter, I find myself sitting at the piano, working my way through a Prelude or Fugue; musical Valium, if you will.

The past couple of days were particularly trying.

To spare you all of the gruesome details, let’s just say that a student of a colleague of mine at “my” college misinterpreted and/or misrepresented a very brief and casual exchange and the colleague, someone I like very much, and thought liked, trusted, and admired me, assumed the worst. And, rather than asking me what had happened, wrote me an email telling me how unprofessional and insensitive I was, and then blithely went about the rest of his evening, not getting my phone message, not reading my email. I, being the I-must-be-the-crappiest-person-in-the-world type, was awake until 3 a.m., and awake again at 6:30, and had a generally overwhelmed and in-the-overtired-induced-ozone all day Friday.

We exchanged a few emails after he FINALLY returned my call at 9:30 the next morning (15 hours after his message), and he apologized for jumping to the wrong conclusion, and for not asking me about it first, but I still generally felt like crap about the whole thing, but for gradually evolving reasons.

After I got over the self-loathing stage, I was angry, and had a few questions.

Why did this person so easily assume the worst? This isn’t the first time this has happened to me; it seems to be my superpower; I’d rather have another. I’ve always worked really hard, I’m fairly good at what I do, I’m organized and responsible and conscientious. This seems to have hurt me rather than helped me. I’ve actually been told that, as an adjunct, I “didn’t know my place.”

Anyway. . .

Even if things had happened as the student seems to have portrayed them, why is this automatically a bad thing? We coddle students too much, we treat them like customers rather than students; our job seems to be more about patting them on the head and making sure they feel good about themselves than about actually pushing them to achieve their best or challenging them when they don’t. This can’t be good for them, nor for society in general.

And, finally, why do I ALWAYS go so easily to self-critical, self-loathing, even when righteous indignation or outright anger is what’s called for? I think it’s a woman thing. I’m not sure, however, that it’s a good thing. Husband points out that he goes right to anger; he is much more efficient that way. I think it’s a guy thing, and I’m not sure that’s such a good thing either.

I always end up feeling like this: (from

when I should probably be feeling like this

So, back to Bach. . .(remember Bach?)

His music often seems like a tangle. It can take days to work out fingerings that allow you to navigate the passagework; and often there seems to only be one fingering that actually works. The melodic lines can be easily identified and unraveled when listening to a good recording, or even just by looking at the score, but making them audible can feel like trying to untangle a large skein of yarn after the cat has spent a night “playing” with it. A forest of whirls and knots and undergrowth. And then, often seemingly suddenly, the order is revealed, and everything clicks into place.

Maybe that’s why. Order from chaos, eventually, but always ultimately, revealed.

In a not-completely unrelated story, we were without power for around 18 hours because of “bad weather.” (We’re not really sure what it was, although it was a little windy and we live in the forest, and apparently 74,000 Consumers Energy customers were without power in Michigan today, so I guess we’re lucky that it’s back on “already.”) Anyway, nothing restores a sense of order like coming home from good Thai food and Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in the same movie, to lights and heat and finally being able to clean up the kitchen.

Husband says that the clean kitchen is a sign of hope.

That makes sense to me, although I think the order-from-chaos thing helps.

I would post a recording of me playing the first Variation, but Husband thinks that recording it at 11:52 p.m. after a glass of scotch might not be a good idea.

He’s probably right.

Another time, then.


men on women’s health

Hmmmm, an aspirin between the knees. Never thought of that.

Men on Women’s Health


A not-so-soupy Sunday

I know I “promised” at some point to post a soup recipe every Sunday, but we didn’t make soup today.

I did make some kick-ass oatmeal bread recipe yesterday, though. I’ll put the recipe at the end.

Just some observations for now.

1. Veterinarians should seriously reconsider using anesthesia for any surgical procedures involving dogs. I’m thinking peanut butter in a Kong is sufficient.

2. Apparently, the line between political candidates and organizations known as “PACs” is getting blurry, casting doubt on whether it is actually possible that the one hand does not know what the other hand is doing.

Um, duh?

3. Many of the leaders in our government seem to think that the U.S. offers some kind of moral compass; an ideal for the rest of the world to strive for.

This, in retaliation for American soldiers openly burning copies of the Koran. (If, as they say, they contained “messages,” couldn’t they have been burned maybe a little more discretely? How would Americans react to Islamists burning Bibles? Sheesh — a little respect wouldn’t hurt anybody.)

This, depicting American soldiers urinating on slain foes.

Or how about this, where our rights of due process etc., etc., seem only to apply to American citizens.

Wouldn’t our arguments about human rights have a little more validity if we applied them to, well, humanity?

4. Mod*el:  perfect example: an excellent example that deserves to be imitated

At the risk of repeating myself.

Um, no.

The last thing I want my daughter to be “modeling” herself after. How about, instead,

5. Started using the “Fitness Tracker” app on Friday. Decided that it was appropriate for me to compare how much I’m actually eating to how much I think I’m eating. It’s been very revealing. You do “earn” calories by exercising, so that’s a good motivation, but most of the calorie information comes from prepared foods and we prepare most of our food ourselves, so that’s a bit of a bother.

Have also discovered that higher-than-expected percentage of my daily caloric intake is in the form of alcohol. That sounds bad. Mostly wine with dinner, but I do enjoy a little tippet of cognac (for medicinal purposes) as well, especially on these cold February nights. Am thinking I can balance it out by walking further or doing more vigorous yoga. Not sure what it says about me that I need to think twice about whether I want cheese on my chili or that 2nd glass of wine. . .

Anyway, according to the tracker, if every day is like yesterday I will have lost 8 lbs in 5 weeks. We’ll see.


Oatmeal Bread (Husband claims this is the best bread he has ever eaten. He might just be being nice, but still.)

Prepare 1.5 c. of steel cut oats (dry) for breakfast, following instructions on the can.

Leave 2 c. of prepared oats in a separate bowl. Eat the rest (giving the lion’s share to Husband, who likes porridge a heck of a lot more than you do), sprinkled with dried cranberries and with maple syrup and soymilk.

Soften 1 pkg. of yeast in 1/3 c. warm water.

When the 2 c. of remaining oatmeal has cooled, with the flat paddle on the mixer and the mixer running, add 3 T. canola oil, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 2 tsp. salt, and the yeast/water mixture.

Beat well.

Add 2 c. whole wheat flour; keep beating until the dough begins to get very stringy/stretchy.

Switch to the dough hook; add another 2 c. of unbleached flour.

Allow the dough to knead until completely smooth — 5-7 minutes.

Add another scant 1/2 c. of unbleached flour and let knead just until flour completely incorporated.

Allow to raise in a buttered bowl, punching down twice.

Divide and place in 2 buttered 8″ bread pans.

Allow to raise again (this is a good time to take a nap, or a “nap,” whichever you prefer).

Bake for 35 minutes at 350˚, 325˚ if using a convection oven.

Cool out of pans on a wire rack. If you can’t wait and must slice it while hot, turn it on its side first.

Really, really good.



are they really that hard to find?

As Husband points out, girls make up 51% of the population.

How hard does one really need to look?

And am I the only one who’s offended by the use of the phrase “on the hunt”? Like for rabbits?

And what do you suppose the criteria is which one must meet in order to “represent the FOX Sports Detroit brand”?

Oh, never mind.


so we should be happy, then

Yes, we should. Congratulations to Ms. Kilburn. I’m sure she’ll do a wonderful job.

But pardon me if I pour a little cynicism into the soup by posing two questions:

First of all, why is this the first female band conductor hired by a prestigious academy that has been operating for 50 years, an offshoot of an arts camp founded in the 1920s?

Secondly, (pointing out again that I don’t disagree that we should all celebrate these milestones), it still angers me that these ARE milestones, and that they warrant celebration.



Should it be exciting to see women moving into the “men’s” areas of the arts? For decades it was considered appropriate for women to play the piano (as long as it was only a “little”; it was not, appropriate for her to be “too good” or to seem to care “too much” or to try “too hard”). It was also acceptable for her to sing, and to study musicology. Eventually it was even expected that women interested in music as a career would be a piano or voice teacher, or study music education and teach in an elementary school.

It was NOT considered suitable for a woman to do something so vulgar as to play as a brass or woodwind instrument, nor strings (especially not a cello, as the sitting/instrument placement position would be unseemly at best.) Nor was it seemly for a woman to be a composer. Felix Mendelssohn claimed that his sister Fanny was a much better composer than he was, and valued her opinions and input regarding all of his musical compositions; but she was not “allowed” to published her own.  Clara Schumann was a concert pianist, but her “career” really took off after Robert’s hospitalization and then death from mental illness, probably because it was considered absolutely necessary for her to pursue this career in order support her family. When Gustav and Alma Mahler began their relationship, Gustav wrote her a letter, telling her that he was looking for a wife, not a colleague, and that it would only make things complicated if they were both to pursue careers as composers (can you imagine?). Amy Beach willingly gave up her performance career at the request of her new husband, and became Mrs. Henry Harris Aubrey Walker Beach.

A woman should certainly NOT be so presumptuous as to place herself at the front of an ensemble and tell the musicians, some of whom one could expect would be men, what to do and when or how to do it.

This from a blog post with the headline "Why Most Women Managers Are Bossy." The post is written by a man. Big surprise.


Just in case you think I’m being paranoid, let’s look at some numbers:

At the college where I teach there are eight full-time faculty plus the director. Two of them are women — the head of the piano area, and the head of the theory/composition area. Less than 25%.

At the college where my husband teaches women constitute 3 of 8 brass faculty, 1 of 7 piano faculty, 1 of 7 string faculty (harp), 3 of 7 woodwinds, 1 of 8 conductors (choral), 1 of 6 music theory, and 3 of 6 music education.

This is 10 out of the listed 49 full-time positions. 20%. This is shameful. Granted I haven’t included voice which is 3 and 3, or composition, which is 0 for 4. Hmmmm. Not really helping.

Just to pick another large school in my state with a reputable music program, let’s look at the numbers at the University of Michigan:  All ten conductors are male; two of the eleven jazz faculty are women, although five of the six music education professors are women (see?); two of fourteen full-time positions in percussion/winds/brass are held by women. Six of fourteen music theorists are women, so that’s pretty good, but really?

If we omit the music education professors, we have 10 out of 39. Still around 25%

I believe I pointed out in a previous post that even most of the VISITING performers to the Interlochen Visiting Artists concerts are men.

How can this be?

If you look around in a piano studio or a school band or orchestra or choir, or even at the most prestigious arts camps like Interlochen, the majority of the students are women.

Where do they go?

And why isn’t anybody else noticing, or doing something about it?

Oh, yeah. We’re celebrating.

I forgot.

Guess I was too caught up in my domestic tasks and my pre-menstrual/perimenopausal mood swings to notice.









what she said, mostly

Meryl Streep’s commencement speech at Barnard, 2010.

Love all of it, except the last sentence. I think she could have done better.

How about, rather, make yourself proud?

Anyway, here it is; watch it through to the end — good stuff around minute 13 and beyond that’s worth waiting for.


why aren’t we (women) all screaming?

So the buzz on NPR this morning is that “Catholics” are upset about a new proposed law that would require all insurance companies to cover contraception.

At the same time, reportedly, 98% of the women in this country use contraception at some point in their lives.

There are approximately 313 million people in this country, and, according to this chart, 24% of them are Catholic. It seems safe to assume that approximately half of that 24% are female, 98% of whom apparently use contraception — 36,808,800, according to my calculations; would it be presumptuous to think that perhaps this 37 million are not at all upset?

Has anyone asked them?

And even if no one has, one can still presume.

So who’s upset?

The cardinals, priests, bishops, the POPE forcryingoutloud?

Why do they even get to voice their opinion? They don’t need contraception. They’re MEN, who can’t procreate, because they’re not supposed to be having sex. (If they are, they’re probably molesting young boys.) They shouldn’t get to decide this.

So either Catholic women are using contraception and not talking about it (shame on them), or, well, what? What’s the alternative here?*

Why is this even an issue? As we are living on a planet that’s about to collapse under the collective weight of humanity, can “they” possibly still believe that the “be fruitful and multiply” is a good edict to follow? I’m sure that’s useful to the woman in Kenya with 14 babies and living through famine.

Women who have a say in their procreation have more power. Is that the problem? We all know how “the Catholics” (not to mention the rest of the men world) feel about women with power.

Does anyone else have a problem with a religious organization, run by “celibate” men, telling women that they have no right to claim control over when and if they procreate?

And if we all have a problem with it, why don’t we say anything?

And now the biggest supporter of breast-health and breast-health-awareness has decided not to give money to Planned Parenthood to be used for breast cancer screening by women who maybe can’t otherwise afford it.


And then we have women putting themselves forward as viable candidates for this country’s highest office, namely Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman, (whose primary selling points seem to be general attractiveness and nice hair rather than intellectual rigor or experiential qualifications), questioning the fairness of laws protecting women’s rights to access to contraception.

Is this the best we can do?

We  should get to decide if and when we have babies or not — especially since women who have children are automatically considered to be less viable in the workplace. How many men give up their careers against their will because they had children?

And if the insurance companies are going to pay for Viagara, they should pay for our Apri, or our IUD, or our diaphragm.

*I have very good, self-aware, contraception-using, parents-of-gay-children, female friends who consider themselves to be “good Catholics.” I don’t get it. The people running your particular show are telling you that you’re sinning and you’re wrong and you and/or your children are going to burn in hell, but you go every week and find great comfort in the ritual or something. Maybe it’s the incense. I don’t get it. I. Don’t. Get. It.

Maybe someone can explain it to me?


Please overlook the apparent inappropriateness of the opening shot on the video, and watch it. It’s not what it looks like, even though the fact that it looks like it does is kind of the point.


what she said, revisited

A few days ago, I linked to this post from another blogger.

It’s a recounting of the blogger’s experience in a coffee shop, where she overhears a very stylish looking woman chastise her 4-year old daughter, who is asking for a cookie. The woman’s response is that the girl doesn’t need a cookie, because she “needs to lose weight.”

The blogger is so upset by this that she finds a way to treat the woman and her daughter each to a cup of hot chocolate. She seems to handle it with grace and aplomb, and the woman seems to be grateful, and maybe a little chastened, by the experience.

A commenter wrote: “At the risk of being contrarian, I have a different take on this story. The woman buying the hot chocolate did a very nice thing and she handled it well. But. She really has no business judging and interfering with the mother. Child obesity is a huge problem and so is impulse control. The woman has no idea what sort of issues the mother is dealing with. She doesn’t say if the kid was fat or skinny. Maybe she has diabetes or something. A little kid not getting his or her way isn’t an act of abuse or failed parenting and telling a kid she has to lose weight might be the truth and what is called for in this case. The woman seems to have jumped to the conclusion that the mother is trying to give the kid an eating disorder. But maybe the kid already has one. Just saying.”

While I don’t disagree at all with the possibilities the commenter proposes, my gut reaction says no.

First of all, the woman didn’t tell her daughter that she had already had some sweets that day, or that she knew she couldn’t have a cookie because she had diabetes, or that they were going out for a big dinner shortly, or anything like that. I also believe that the blogger would have mentioned if the girl had been overweight. While I am a firm believer in feeding children in a healthful way, I also believe that life is to be lived, and a cookie or cup of hot chocolate or slice of cake now and then is part of living life richly.

That blog post, and the comment to my re-posting, have had me thinking for the past couple of days, about several things — namely:

1. What my children have learned from me that I kind of wish they hadn’t.

2. What my children haven’t learned/are still learning that I really wish they would.

3. What the world tells us about ourselves and whether we should or shouldn’t listen.

4. When the “world” needs us to step in and do something, and when we shouldn’t.


1. What my children have learned from me that I kind of wish they hadn’t.

My need for external validation, a tendency toward defensiveness and sarcasm (acceptable when it’s funny, but the line between funny and disrespectful when it’s coming from children can be awfully hard to see), the feeling that most people don’t really understand me, a recurring dissatisfaction with my physical appearance (just my daughter, the “boys” are pretty confident of their general attractive- and badass- ness), a fear of the unknown/uncontrollable which leads to over-cautiousness rather than adventurousness — even though my greatest leaps of courage have led me to the most happiness, I still fear.

2. What my children haven’t learned/are still learning that I really wish they would.

To put things away when they’re done with them, to look around and see when people might need a little help, that politeness and decency and other people’s feelings sometimes trump honesty or self-interest, that sometimes I do actually know what I’m talking about and that my offering of advice doesn’t come from a lack of belief in them but out of concern and love, that the easiest road to the easiest money isn’t necessarily the best road to choose, the basics of consideration: help with dinner/the dishes/laundry, always put the toilet seat down, hold doors for people with packages or strollers or just because, that belching at the table is only funny if the other people at the table think so (and I really, really don’t).

There have been so many things I’ve tried to teach my children that I wonder if they would have learned more successfully if they had been hearing it from someone besides me. Don’t interrupt. Take turns. Use inside voices. Say please and thank you. Stop talking and listen.

3. What the world tells us about ourselves and whether we should or shouldn’t listen.

When should someone’s criticism be taken to heart, as an opportunity for self-reflection and self-improvement, and when should they be mentally told to take a flying @#$ in a rolling doughnut? If someone’s bothered by my ambition, should I tone it down or look for a different outlet? If someone’s bothered by my wealth of opinions and willingness to share them, should I consider it to be a result of their lack of curiosity and/or intellectual rigor, or should I just keep my mouth shut?

I would like to believe that the problems the world might have with me are the world’s problems, but what if they aren’t?

4. When the “world” needs us to step in and do something, and when we shouldn’t.

This is really the question that presents itself by the commenter to my re-posting. Should the blogger have just minded her own business? A casual observer can’t know the history of the day/week/month with that particular issue with that particular child. But, for the sake of argument, let’s take this a little bit further. When we see someone striking a child in a grocery store, do we just consider it not to be our business, turn our heads and walk away? Is someone telling a child, who by all appearances (again, I’m assuming this) is of a perfectly normal size, that she “needs to lose weight” a form of emotional abuse? Do we still turn our heads and walk away? What if the validation provided by the person who says, no, really, you’re beautiful the way you are is exactly what that child most needs?

When the urge to “interfere” strikes, how do we know if we should or if we shouldn’t?

I think this is particularly striking to me because it’s about women and their issues with weight and body image. The women we see in magazines are basically freaks of nature; the pressures put on us by these images can be debilitating. How much worse are these pressures if they’re reinforced, perhaps unfairly, if, as I believe, this girl was of a perfectly normal weight and size, by the person who should be building us up rather than tearing us down? I look at my beautiful daughter and watch her curse at a practically-invisible pimple or worry that she has fat calves or thighs (she’s in the 45th percentile height, 10th percentile weight; she doesn’t have fat anything) or hear her wish she had my (unruly, just-curly-enough-to-be-annoying) hair rather than her thick, lustrous locks. Who is doing this to her? How can she look in the mirror and not see how beautiful she is? She’s a gymnast, and wants to be a model, with a milk allergy and shades of hypochondria; will she end up with an eating disorder? Will her awareness of my unhappiness with my weight contribute? How do I model a balance of healthful eating, regular exercise, and awareness of treating my body as something I want to live from rather than merely in without encouraging an unhealthy obsession with something that is, at least partially, genetic and uncontrollable? Is this even possible?

The blogger might be right, the commenter might be right, who can really know? At least the blogger handled it with tact and care — the mother could feel free to handle it however she choose, and was not confronted directly with an accusation of emotional/verbal abuse, and therefore did not have to react defensively.

I also think that sometimes we are teaching our children things we don’t necessarily want them to learn, and someone else making a kind/friendly offer is just enough to shake us out of it.


“the” non-surgical approach to weight loss

There’s an ad much like this along the highway between my work and home (except it’s a really skinny girl with large breasts in a blue and white striped bikini, but I can’t find it online and I’m not inclined to take a picture with my cell phone while hurtling down the road at 70mph).

And I can never help but wonder about the OTHER non-invasive way to lose unwanted bulges — you know, eating healthfully and getting regular exercise?

Too much like work I guess.

Here are some of the before and after pictures:

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t really see all that much difference, and certainly not enough to spend thousands of dollars on something I could accomplish by having one glass of wine with dinner instead of two and taking a 30 minute walk 5 days a week.

I certainly don’t see the miracle results implied by the billboard. I guess they don’t show a “before” so they’re not actually lying to us.

In my travels, I ran across this image, presumably of a woman before and after the coolsculpting (or some other plastic surgery) procedure.

Yeah, I’m totally convinced.


so what’s up with that?

I spent much of Saturday with a group of young singers (freshman and sophomore college students, although some in their 20s), and found myself involved in many “female” type conversations. Principally: body, self-image, weight, appearance, etc. Guess this is a normal part of hanging out with singers, the more narcissistic of the instrumental sub-species, and especially since most of them were women.

Anyway — one of the young women was talking about how she had really worked out like a maniac for a while, and at one point had gotten down to a size 4 (four!!!) and still felt like that wasn’t thin enough, and then that kind of scared her so she chilled out a little.

I thought that was pretty self-aware of her, and congratulated her for that.

Then she said that she really felt like she couldn’t consider herself “thin” until her stomach was completely flat, but no matter how much she exercised or how little she ate, her stomach always “stuck out” a little.

And I said, (in a sage-like voice), well, you’re a woman, your stomach is supposed to stick out.

And I believed it.

Sort of.

And then. . .

A woman, a complete stranger, struck up a long and rambling conversation with me today at Only Daughter’s First Gymnastics Meet Ever (FGME), and I couldn’t help but notice that she was rather can-shaped and still had her sweater tucked into her jeans.

And my thoughts alternated between “why won’t she stop talking to me” and “I wish I could just introduce myself and ask her her name and maybe know one other person in this building besides my daughter and my former husband” and “it’s so great that she’s so comfortable with herself even though she looks like a can” and “how can I be such a b#!% about what shape she is it’s not like we’re in high school anymore couldweallpleasestopjudgingeachotherthankyouverymuch” and “I really wish I was one of those women who felt sexy and strong and powerful just because I’m a woman and sexy and strong and powerful.”

So now, at the end of a long day, a day during which I ate only good and healthful foods, I am arguing with myself mentally over whether I should open that bag of Cape Cod reduced fat jalapeno potato chips®, or not. Well, that’s not actually true, I know that I very much should NOT. But I really want to.

I think I just spend too much of my life like this:



midlife crisis stage 7 (8? 135? who’s counting?)

As far as I can remember (being too lazy to walk into the other room and get “the book” in order to cite it directly) women go through various “brain” stages, almost entirely dependent upon hormonal changes. (I know, right? So much for thinking we’re “making decisions” or “finding ourselves.” Apparently we’re all just victims of estrogen and/or testosterone and/or progestogens; oh, that’s funny, at first I typed protestogens — Dyslexics of the world, untie! —  is that Freudian?)

So teenage years are rebellious, as burgeoning women fight for freedom and independence and search for sexual identity. (Again, I’m not quoting, I’m “remembering,” and probably citing as much from personal experience/memory as from anything any psychiatrist or sociologist said.)

The twenties are dominated by an ambitious tendency, gradually ceding into “mommy brain.”

In her thirties, a woman is wrapped up in nurturing her children, while perhaps trying to hang on to (by her fingernails, probably, if the first priority is any priority at all) her professional identity.

In her forties a woman begins to look beyond all of the people she has been taking care of and starts to think about taking care of herself.

In her fifties (supposedly, I am despitewhatyouallmightthink NOT THERE YET), a woman becomes quite “selfish” — looking to have HER needs met, and a last sprint/gasp professionally, so to speak, before the retirement years set in.

I don’t even want to think about what might happen in the sixties. I’m having a hard enough time with the fact that I’m going to be 47 in a few weeks, which is a helluva lot closer to 50 than it is to 40 and actually seems a helluva lot older than 46. Just sayin’.

Is this funny? I think so. But maybe that’s just my “Indecision Nucleus” talking. Oh, and btw, women can spell. Snap!

Anyway, I find I’m belying the 50s expectations in that my professional ambitions are waning. Yes, there’s a part of me that is kind of tired of being “mom” (sorry, Hannah) and ready to move on — looking forward to years with Husband and travel and beautiful meals together without anyone wrinkling up his or her nose and asking if it’s “spicy” or why we can’t eat hamburgers like normal people. (At the same time I would likeitverymuch if Only Daughter stopped trying to figure out how to be 18 and was just 10 for at least a little while longer.) But I’m finding that I just kind of want to do my job, be respected and paid fairly for it, and then come home and take a nap on my couch or knit or beat OD at Rummikub or get a dog or something.

Speaking of which, we might be getting a dog.

I’ve found a breeder that I know of and therefore trust who has a new litter of Coton’s — hypoallergenic, good temperament, small, and local, so I can visit and become acquainted with the puppy rather than adopt from a rescue (enough of that, have been on that emotional roller coaster for several weeks now) or buy from someone in another state and have the pup shipped sight unseen.

I’d post a picture, but the breeders aren’t very “techie” so there aren’t any available. Am hoping to visit next Thursday, so will keep you all posted.

Here’s a “generic” Coton”

Can a dog be cuter than this? I didn’t think so.

ANYWAY,  see? I can’t even keep my mind on my “work.”


I’m supposed to be planning Friday’s seminar right now.

Instead I’m drinking way better Scotch than I can afford (thank you, Husband dear) and wondering if there are 30 Rock reruns on cable.

So much for professional ambitions.

And the funny thing is, I don’t really care.

Although maybe that’s the scotch.



H.R.358, would allow hospitals to refuse to provide a woman lifesaving, emergency abortion care…even if she will die without it. And they call it the “protect life” act — is there no end to their cynical, self-serving, politicizing, marketing bullshit?

And this has passed the House? Seriously?

So they are saying, in all earnestness, that the life of the unborn is more valuable than hers?

Do you suppose they take into account the possibility that she is already alive, and “viable,” and may have a husband, or even, perchance other children who might need her? No. I didn’t think so.

Is it possible that I’m so out of touch that a majority of Americans actually support this sort of thing and I not only don’t know it but I can’t understand it?

And we’re not even addressing the complicated issues that abortion presents, including the possibility that it may be approached in a frivolous way by people who don’t consider the consequences of their not-all-that-well-thought-out actions. I personally think that abortion is tragic and regrettable, and would hopefully be avoided by myself and everyone I know or care about because of the psychological and emotional pain I imagine it would present. But we’re talking about old men making these decisions for women, and we’re talking about women whose lives may be at stake, and we’re prioritizing the potential life of an unborn fetus over the life of an actual person, and we’re using money, or, rather, the withholding of it, to make our arguments for us. This is pathetic, and reprehensible, and unforgivable.

As I tweeted recently (albeit that time about the fact that Canadians wanted former president George W. Bush arrested, and I didn’t even care why), yet another reason to move to Canada.

I just can’t live with these people. And I’m writing this from my iPhone because I still don’t have internet. And I’m so upset I’m not even sure I’m speaking in complete sentences anymore and I’m trying to read it on a 3 inch screen, so it’s just making me claustrophobic and even more pissed than I already was.

I’ll edit tomorrow.


monday blues, and tuesday

Yesterday was a very demoralizing day. Spent a lot of time teaching classes of students who seem to be either catatonic or apathetic (how does one tell the difference, one might ask?). There are a few scattered among these who seem to care, which makes trying to get through to the rest even more difficult — I don’t want to lecture the class, I don’t want to make those who are invested squirm in their seats, but I just want to shake most of them.

Came home and taught piano lessons to children of all ages — four hours that flew by compared to the two hours of class that dragged. It seems most of my professional aspirations were to teach at the college level, but, ironically, most of the students in college can’t be taught at that level after all.

And no internet at home, going on two days, after weeks of intermittent and frustrating outages. So I can’t post midterm review documents on blackboard, I can only check my email through my iPhone (although my new ZAGG/mate keyboard makes this much easier to type, it’s still not that easy to read more than a few sentences on its tiny little screen), and I can’t write on my blog unless I sit in my office at school, so here I am.

Some great articles in the Sunday NY Times I’d like to recommend.

Wall Street Protestors and who should be listening

What the world lost when Steve Jobs died, and whether we can ever find it again
(I fear not.)

And yet another example of how the world of working women still hasn’t really changed, and what we all should do about it


what happens to the girls?

We’ve all noticed this; don’t pretend you haven’t.

Yeah, girls might be snarky, and obsessed with their hair/skin/clothes, and whisper behind their hands about someone else’s hair/skin/clothes, but they at least know how to behave in public and can tell you how something makes them feel beyond “sad” or “mad.”

Okay, sometimes we wish they’d talk a little less, but that’s my mother’s curse raining down on my head (“May you have a child exactly like you.” And I didn’t stop talking until I was 27. I would like to impose a rule at home that no words be spoken before 8 a.m. unless Absolutely Necessary, but I fear Only Daughter would explode.)

So a girl, from a young age, is more disciplined, and more organized, and more conscientious, and can read social cues, and can communicate effectively (!), and can eat a meal without drooling or picking her nose or putting ketchup on everything; of course, a lot of this (except maybe the ketchup) is because she Cares a Great Deal What Other People Think (okay, maybe the ketchup, too). And this, I fear, is her, our, downfall.

Men run the world, while we worry about whether people like us or not.

(Sorry, youtube removed my original clip; fast forward to 3:33; try not to gag)

And if we’re smart, and capable, and strong, we’re considered to be bitches (Hilary), and we’d rather be liked.

Husband and I had a long conversation today about whether that problem is solved by sending girls to all-girls schools, but I think the desire to be liked is as strong regarding our desire to be liked by other women/girls as it is to be liked by men/boys.

I’m not sure what, if anything, we can do about this. I would like for women to be happier, and to be nourished in our strengths while being nurtured in our needs, and to feel that we are beautiful even if we don’t look like the world tells us we should look, and that sociability and communicability were seen as strengths rather than weaknesses, and that our capabilities were honored rather than viewed as threats.

That’s all.


official survey

My husband and I are having a bit of a disagreement over each gender’s basic responses to images of “buff” members of the opposite sex.

I am enlisting your help.

If you’re a woman, or a man who is physically/sexually interested in men, pick the sentence that best describes your reaction to this image:

A)  Sign me up, here’s my phone number_______________ (please, don’t actually include your phone number).

B)  Nice to look at, but I would be intimidated by his physical perfection.

C)  I prefer “my” men more ____________ (feel free to fill in the blank; keep it R rated please).

D)  No thanks, this man obviously spends too much time in the gym.

If you’re a man, or a woman who is physically/sexually interested in women, pick the sentence that best describes your reaction to this image:

E)  Sign me up, here’s my phone number_______________ (please, don’t actually include your phone number).

F)  Nice to look at, but I would be intimidated by her physical perfection.

G)  I prefer “my” women more ____________ (feel free to fill in the blank; keep it R rated please).

H)  No thanks, this woman obviously spends too much time in the gym.

Please honor the scientific intent of this unofficial study, and only answer the question which applies to your particular preference.


what would you do if you weren’t afraid?

A good question for all of us.

I may have to think about it for a few days and get back to you.

Meanwhile, read this.

If you know already, please share.


Public service/private lives: never the twain shall meet?

Why is it that so many male politicians seem to be lascivious little boys who think that their various and sundry salacious acts will remain private?

Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Weiner.

And it’s not just confined to Americans — recently there’s Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Silvio Berlusconi, an ongoing embarrassment for Italians for both political and personal reasons.

Perhaps we should start by asking why so many people men in power seem to have such a hard time (no pun intended) behaving themselves.

A recent New Yorker article points out that women politicians have their share of sex scandals, too, and lists nine examples. Particularly telling is the fact that four of them date from previous centuries, one of them involved a videotape of the female politician in question, (Chu Mei-Feng, councilwoman for Taipei), having sex with her husband, and another is a woman whose husband had purchased pornographic films using her parliamentary account. Hardly seems to fit in the same category. Plus, is it really such a slow news week that the editorial staff at the New Yorker decided this was worth reporting? Maybe that’s an even more important topic. Discuss?




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