Monthly Archives: November 2008

Michelle Obama’s decision: 2008 or 1958?

As Thanksgiving approaches and I think about my peers and our relationships to our families, I’ve also been thinking a lot about our new First Family and what their gender roles will communicate to the Nation at-large.  And how will Michelle Obama specifically change, or not change, the role of First Lady? 

When asked in the past how I hope Obama will function as the next First Lady, I have expressed my desire for her to become the next Eleanor Roosevelt, but her recent commentary leads me to believe she’s going to be putting her career and/or any public service on the back burner for the indefinite future and put, who else, her kids (and husband?) front and center. 

I recognize that child-rearing is an important pursuit and that I should respect Obama’s choices, but it still stings a little to see that it’s the woman, yet again, putting her career on hold for her husband’s. Not only that, I had hoped that a highly educated woman would realize (and popularize?) the options that exist beyond “Career OR Family.”  But perhaps I shouldn’t completely mourn Obama’s purported decision.  Perhaps, as she self-identifies as “Mom-in-Chief,” she will bring newfound recognition and much-needed attention to the role of Motherhood in the 21st century.  Maybe she will become the figurehead for a much needed Mom Revolution and drum up public support for Social Security, federally funded child care, and medical benefits for moms and children!  Maybe we’ll even get an ERA out of the deal!  And maybe pipe dreams are fun.  Hey, at this point, one can only dream, and hope for the best.

For one of the best op-eds I’ve read to date about Michelle Obama, the one that inspired me to throw in my 2 cents, check it here for Ruth Marcus’ 11-26-08 piece.

Happy Thanksgiving!


The Meaning of Wife

Well, if you’re at all like me, the last book left you wanting more.  I was only a little disappointed that Squire left the narrative just when things were really starting to get good.  And so, the next book:

104825012The Meaning of Wife, by Anne Kingston

I appreciated the history and context that Squire’s book “I Don’t” provided, but it really only left in me a desire to see how her work translates to modern day life.  Kingston’s book aspires to do just that.  From the book flap:

“[The Meaning of Wife] takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the complex, troubling, and sometimes humorous contradictions, illusions, and realities of contemporary wifehood.  Anne Kingston looks at “wife backlash” and the new wave of neotraditionalism that urges women to marry young; explores the apotheosis of abused wives and the strange celebration of wives who kill; and muses on the fact that Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart, two of the world’s wealthiest and most influential women, are both unmarried.  The result is an entertaining mix of social, sexual, historical, and economic commentary that is bound to stir debate even as it reframes our view of both women and marriage.”

Read on, friends, and join us again when the debate ensues.

To have, to have not (a child)

A few weeks ago the boyf and I once again headed over to Bluestockings, a feminist bookstore on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, for a reading by two of my favorite third wave feminists, Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner. Back in college they contributed to my click moment through their book ManifestA: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future, a wonderful third-wave feminist overview that at the time I devoured and although it has lost its luster in my eyes due to the expansion of my own feminist consciousness, I still appreciate and recommend it often. The readings were of Amy and Jennifer’s new books, Amy with Opting In: Having a Child Without Losing Yourself, and Jennifer with Abortion & Life. An outsider might view these books as contradictory but upon further discussion these books are not contradictory at all but are in fact quite complimentary and were solidly presented together.

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Queen of Fashion

So, if you know me or if you are an avid reader you’re probably aware that I was a women’s studies and history double major in college. So naturally women’s history is a huge interest of mine. I also love fashion. Not in the “OMG I need the new D&G purse” kind of way, but in the way that I firstly love using clothes as a way to express my unique self and secondly that I appreciate high-end designers for making wearable art. I appreciate and admire the aesthetic beauty of a great Galliano gown. So you can imagine my complete excitement and rapture while reading a book on how one woman changed history through her fashion. Swoon!

Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber.

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Thank YOU, Mr. Bond, for alienating your female fans!

When Daniel Craig was unveiled as the new Bond in 2006 I was psyched.  Casino Royale was everything I knew the Bond films could be: amazingly action-packed and woman-friendly.  I wasn’t 100% satisfied, but come on, look where we’re coming from– anyway– I was STOKED when I first started seeing the new Quantum of Solace posters.  I was naively assuming that this film would fall into stride with the previous film and I was so excited to see what they would do with this one…..But what they did is drop the fu*#ing ball.  The opening chase/fight sequence was as frustrating as the opener of the Bourne Supremacy (wait– who’s leg is that?  is that Bond or do I want him to fall?  where am i?) and then, the title sequence kicked in.  If you remember, the title sequence from Casino Royale was freakin AMAZING.  Watch it here; if you need a refresher.  Talk about raising the bar.

After the shaky beginning, I was anxious for the title sequence; it was a make or break type situation and it started off well enough…until he started wandering the sand dunes and I just knew they were going to turn those dunes into giant naked women.  I was half-heartedly hoping they would surprise me and turn them into something else- anything else!- related to the plot, but no.  And then the movie had to go and suck (think: no plot, every kind of chase scene imaginable, and dialogue that could’ve been written by an infant 2 days out of the womb).  Watch the opener here to see if you agree with me. 

I realize that it’s the classic bait and switch– hook me with Casino Royale and then spout out this plotless, throwback drivel.  Why, Hollywood, WHY????  I don’t want to see naked girating females in my action movies; I want to see men and women kicking ass together (and you know, if they get naked in a consensual and respectful manner along the way, I’m down with that too).  Mark this at #564391 in my list of disappointing action flicks.

I’ll save you the trip: RENT IT. 

Respect Women!

So this afternoon I’m wandering aimlessly down 48th Street towards 6th Ave, having been deterred from crossing 5th Ave due to the Veterans Day parade, thus rendering me unable to lunch at Cosi (tear). I’m slightly spacing out until I walk by an ad on the side of a telephone booth. I glance over but kept walking, let it sink in for a few seconds, and then did the most un-New Yorker thing I can possibly imagine–I turned around, walked back to the sign and took a picture with my phone. But this is why:

“Eat your vegetables. Finish your homework. Respect women.” it says, while the young boy wears a sweatshirt that says “Awaiting Instruction.” Teach your children to respect women! How simple and yet how awesome! Don’t just shame your daughters into not wearing short skirts cuz they’ll be asking for it! Teach your sons to respect women and not take advantage of them! This was a day after I read this story that cites my hometown newspaper (woot Minneapolis!) which profiles college activists’ attempts to focus sexual assault education towards men:

Instead of teaching women not to walk alone at night or to carry Mace, some colleges are trying something much harder — changing college men.

…”The fact of the matter is that prevention comes down to, largely, males. Because males are primarily the ones perpetrating these crimes,” said Lauren Pilnick, sexual violence education coordinator at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Having men vocalize and work against violence against women is in my mind an integral part in combating domestic violence and sexual assault. The ad was posted by New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, as part of their Coaching Boys Into Men campaign, a yearlong campaign launched last October…yet this is the first I’m hearing of it. I’m hoping that it made some sort of impact around the state–it certainly made me stop in my tracks and turn around, in the best of ways.

How Marriage Evolved: Thanks Martin Luther?

Well, what more can I say? I read the book (I Don’t: A Contrarian History of Marriage in case you missed that memo). I didn’t find it to be controversial or contrarian or shocking or even subversive. I think Susan Squire presented the history of marriage in a straightforward and informative fashion. I enjoyed the book. It made me think a lot about what marriage means to me, but it didn’t ever really get under my skin or make me want to talk about it with other people. It was just sort of there.

What would have really interested me would have been a continuation of this narration to the present-day and an expansion that would include a look at marriage in other cultures and how our cultural intersections have changed the face of marriage in modern life. I understand that this book focuses on the West and the history of marriage, but I thought that Squire prematurely terminated her narrative. I find it particularly hard to swallow that she believes marriage hasn’t changed that much between now and the 16th century. But, let’s not be totally negative…
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