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Publications
  • Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown-up World, One Long Journey Home
    Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown-up World, One Long Journey Home
    by Leigh Newman

    Can't wait! 

  • Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit
    Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit
    by Krista Tippett
  • The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves
    The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves
    by Dan Ariely
  • Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up
    Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up
    by Harriet Lerner
Publications
  • Rhythm And Repose
    Rhythm And Repose
    Anti/Epitaph

    Tender and beautiful. 

  • Boys & Girls
    Boys & Girls
    by Alabama Shakes

    Love this album! So happy when I saw BrainPicker post this on her site! 

  • City of Refuge
    City of Refuge
    by Abigail Washburn

    Pure magic!

  • Some Nights
    Some Nights
    by Fun.
  • She Ain't Me
    She Ain't Me
    by Carrie Rodriguez

    I'm such a fan. 

  • I'm Your Man
    I'm Your Man
    by Leonard Cohen

    Take this Waltz is on my top ten list of all songs!

  • Babel
    Babel
    by Mumford & Sons
Publications
  • Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey (Original UK Unedited Edition)
    Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey (Original UK Unedited Edition)
    PBS

    So totally addicted to this series! Absolutely amazing!

  • Zen: Vendetta / Cabal / Ratking [Blu-ray]
    Zen: Vendetta / Cabal / Ratking [Blu-ray]
    starring Rufus Sewell

    Based on your recommendations from a recent blog post! It's another wonderful BBC mystery series! 

  • The Good Wife: The First Season
    The Good Wife: The First Season
    starring Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth, Josh Charles, Matt Czuchry, Archie Panjabi

    One of the best shows on TV. Juiliana Marguiles is incredible. 

  • Doc Martin: Collection - Series 1-4
    Doc Martin: Collection - Series 1-4
    starring Martin Clunes, Caroline Catz, Lia Williams, Stephanie Cole, Ian McNeice
gifting
Sunday
Feb032008

Riding the Waves

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Somewhere between the receding tide of 2nd wave feminism and the crashing thunder of the 3rd wave, I’m being sucked into the strange undercurrent of this election. At 42, my 2.5 wave status makes perfect sense and, normally, I actually enjoy it. I love to pull from all of the diverse ideas and experiences that define feminism (or refuse to define it). But, I have to tell you, with Super Tuesday fast approaching, I'm feeling a little lonely in my Barack/Clinton confusion.

I have taught graduate courses on gender, race and class for the past ten years. I’ve marched and protested and licked envelopes until my spit ran dry. Before joining ranks with the women’s movement, my political training took place at the dining room table. My father, a staunch Republican and my favorite debate partner, had two rules: You must have an opinion and you must back it up. Apathy was not an option and “just because” was not tolerated. It’s a dangerous approach to political parenting, because, as my dad discovered, you risk raising opinionated members of the opposition. 

In my 20+ years as a feminist and my 35+ years of Brown-family training, I haven’t become the perfect activist, but I can certainly recognize bad activism when I see it. The idea that “We need a woman in the White House” is, perhaps, the worst kind of activism.

We need "a woman" in the White House like a fish needs a bicycle (2nd wave posters still rock). We need a president who believes in, and fights for, social and economic justice and equality. As a feminist, I do believe that excluding women in the political process guarantees that we will never find him or her; however, I also believe that shared biology does not mean shared values.

Any woman won’t do. If you don’t agree, picture Ann Coulter as our next president. The idea of a Coulter in the White House brings up two words for me: Bonjour Quebec. Hillary might be exactly who this country needs, but it’s not because of what she is, it’s about who she is.
 
I understand that my struggle to choose between Barack and Hillary is disappointing for some of my friends and sister feminists, but that doesn’t make me a bad feminist. Bad feminism is not taking a stand against the gender stereotypes that are being used to attack Hillary and her campaign (regardless of your politics). These attacks are built on the same name-calling strategies that keep many of us from speaking out. How many of us are silenced by the fear of labels like ball-buster, cold, aggressive, too ambitious, loud mouth, pushy, and, dare I say, unfeminine?

There’s an interesting article on feminine norms that I reference often in my work. Basically, the researchers surveyed women to determine the criteria for “conforming to feminine norms” in our culture. The findings are painful and important. Let’s start with the top three:

1. Be nice
2. Be thin
3. Be modest about talents and abilities

The bottom line is pretty straightforward, be quiet and don’t take up too much space. Other norms include investing in appearance, maintaining romantic relationships and sexual fidelity.

Understanding these norms makes it easy to see why Hillary is an easy target. It also might explain why Coulter’s dresses get sexier as her rhetoric gets meaner – maybe she’s trying to balance the ol' feminine norms. I bet those talking head appearances would all but disappear if she sported overalls and a crew cut. Of course, being white, educated and middle-class doesn’t hurt.

Honestly, I’d like to believe that this list of norms is as retro as bra burning, but you don’t have to click any further than askmen.com to know that the norms are alive and well. Check out the #1 woman on their list of the 99 most desirable women in the world: Katherine Heigl. I don’t know her, but she definitely seems nice, thin, modest and invested in her appearance to me. 

Of course, they didn’t use the “conformity scale” to determine their list. They had their own scientific approach:

“[We used a] more primitive sex appeal test; how long it would take before male staffers made a comment about a) her anatomy or, b) what they would 'do' to her. Needless to say, about two seconds elapsed before a comment was made, which easily qualified Katherine Heigl for the Sexiness Hall Of Fame.”

Puke.

Here’s the deal. I’m not sure if I’m going to support Barack or Hillary. I am still trying to figure out who will wage the best fight for peace and equality. In the meantime, I will continue to ride my own wave and wage my own fight for gender justice by supporting the right of every woman – Democrat, Republican, lesbian, straight, Muslim, Christian - to take up as much political, emotional, social, creative and spiritual space as she needs to be true to herself. This includes Hillary, Katherine and, yes damn’t, even Ann.
 

Reference:
Development of the Conformity to Feminine Norms Inventory
in Sex Roles: A Journal of Research,  April, 2005 
by James R. Mahalik,  Elisabeth B. Morray,  Aimee Coonerty-Femiano,  Larry H. Ludlow,  Suzanne M. Slattery,  Andrew Smiler
 

Thursday
Jan312008

love thursday

                                                 heros.jpg                                                                                                                                                                                     Everyone needs a hero (especially me this week). I only had to glance at the front of the fridge to see this picture and be reminded that my heros are right here. How can you go wrong with Princess Leia and Superman in your corner (and in your heart)?

Check out the Shutter Sisters for the larger lovefest.  I'm loving love thursday!

Wednesday
Jan302008

when the phone rings

When I was a senior in high school I worked for a department store down the street from my house. One day, the manager walked up to me and said, “You’ve got a call. It’s your mom.” I knew it was bad.  As it turns out, my step-grandfather (Curly) had suffered a major heart attack and was in the hospital. My mom and I drove to San Antonio and met my grandmother at the hospital. Curly was OK (for Curly), but my grandmother was never the same.

When we walked into my grandmother’s house that night, my eyes were immediately drawn to the kitchen table. Curly’s plate of fried eggs and Jimmy Dean sausage was sitting right where he had left it. His fork was on the seat of his chair. His glasses were shattered and lying on the floor. As I stared at the kitchen table, I was filled with a strange sense of fear and dread. Those images are as vivid today as they were 25 years ago.

Last night, we had grilled chicken, corn and spinach salad for dinner. Ellen said grace while Charlie chanted, “I no like corn. I no like grass (salad).” It was normal fare. After dinner I made four small bowls of pistachio pudding. I was topping each one with a sloppy dollop of Cool Whip when the phone rang.

As I watched Steve’s face and listened to his questions, time started slowing down. The kitchen became smaller and I struggled to fight off tunnel vision. I knew it was bad.  

A very important person in our lives had collapsed and being rushed to the emergency room. We needed to get there. Steve left right away. Within minutes, my phone tree was activated and three friends volunteered to stay with the kids. I decided it would be best to put Charlie down before I left.

Sensing that I was not at the top of my mother game, my friend Laura instructed me to “carve out 20 minutes, give Charlie my full attention, stick with the routine and get him down.”  He threw Night-Night out of the crib three times. The first time I smiled, rubbed his back and tucked both of them back in. By the third time, I was losing my mind. I wanted to scream, “Stop! I’m in crisis here. Give me a break. Please!” But, I didn’t. I took a lot of deep breaths, stayed calm and he was asleep by the time Erin arrived.

I talked to Dawn all the way to the hospital. I ranted and raged. She listened.

The news at the hospital was scary and overwhelming, but the outcome was good. Thank God.

Steve and I got home around 11:30pm. As soon as we walked in the back door, I noticed that Erin had cleaned up the entire kitchen. The only thing left out was one ramekin of pistachio pudding. When I saw it sitting on the counter, I collapsed. It was the first time I cried all night.

Just like the night of Curly’s eggs and glasses, my heart filled with fear and dread. This time, however, a new understanding softened the fear. That pudding was the symbol of normalcy interrupted.

Now I understand that these calls almost always come when we are making pudding or blowing our hair dry or minding our own lives. By definition, it is the unexpectedness of these calls that reminds us that loss and crisis can slice through the softness of our very ordinary, tender lives with such force that we’re not sure we’ll ever piece things back together. My greatest fear is the inability to return to a sense of normalcy. Can I find my way back to the way it was before the phone rang?

More importantly, I understand that living in fear of these calls never stops them from happening. It just sucks the joy right out of the wonderful, small moments that fill most of my days. Planning and rehearsing for these calls doesn’t help one bit when the phone rings. It just makes me crazy waiting for phone to ring while I'm praying that it doesn't.

What does help? My friends. They always show up.  My family. They are always here for me.

I’m exhausted from spending the day at the hospital, but I needed to write this tonight. I need to put this commitment out to the universe: I’m going to work really hard to spend less time planning for these calls and more time enjoying the people who are always there for me when the phone rings.