First, Lena Dunham! As usual, Rebecca Traister explains it all:
There are American presidents who have come in for less scrutiny than Lena Dunham. There are heads of major banks whose work to erode the possibility of middle and working class stability in the United States has drawn less criticism thanGirls. There are sitting Supreme Court justices, men who have recently disemboweled the Voting Rights Act, whose intelligence has been insulted less sharply than that of a 28-year-old woman who created and stars in a show on HBO.
This degree of pressure is unsustainable. Not just for Dunham, whose thick skin—and willingness to engage the valid critiques—does earn her my full-throated, unequivocal admiration. But also for all the exceptions to male rules—from Beyoncé to Hillary, Shonda to Sheryl—who get pulled and pushed and combed and raked over with equivalent ardor. This craziness is depleting and, I worry, ultimately defeating for all the other women out there with big ambitions: ambitions to write or sing or pass legislation, to lead or create, and to make money, win elections, earn recognition for their work.
Cherchez les femmes, mes amis! Cherchez les femmes. How messed up is it that Traister doesn’t even have to use last names when she writes the first names “Beyoncé to Hillary, Shonda to Sheryl.” We can fill in the blanks because tragically, there’s only one of each, right? If you missed it, Terri Gross did a fantastic interview with Lena Dunham this week. It’s a model for how feminists of very different generations can communicate and learn from one another, a subject relevant to my next item. (This will take a while, so get comfortable.) Continue reading
Random spam generator?
It’s increasingly difficult to tell them apart:
Sex crime springs from fantasy, hallucination, delusion, and obsession. A random young woman becomes the scapegoat for a regressive rage against female sexual power: “You made me do this.” Academic clichés about the “commodification” of women under capitalism make little sense here: It is women’s superior biological status as magical life-creator that is profaned and annihilated by the barbarism of sex crime.
“As Clinton ponders her second run for the White House, many variables are in play, from her age to her health to her economic platform to her status as a soon-to-be grandmother.”
I get it that Hillary Clinton is unlike every other presidential candidate in American history, not just as the only serious woman contender, but also as the wife of a former president, but: srsly? Todd Purdham implies here that grandmotherhood is going to so delight and derange Clinton that she’ll toss her last chance to run for president out the window.
We’ve had other presidents who were near relatives of previous presidents in American history three times before–the Adamses, the Roosevelts, and the Bushes*, not to mention the many brothers Kennedy who ran for president between 1960 and 1980–and clearly, in these cases the whole family is implicated in campaigns in a way that’s different from other presidential campaigns. But I don’t remember the media running stories in 1998 about how George W. Bush might not run for president because he might have to miss his daughters’ high school prom night, do you? (Oh, yeah: The media were all about the presidential blow jobs back then.) Mitt Romney’s dozens of grandchildren were never presented as a reason for him to kick back and let 2012 go by without him, although I recall several stories emphasizing the comfort his large family could give him after his loss. Continue reading
Happy Friday! Go pour yourself a cool draught of something and check this out: Continue reading
As most of you have heard, Joan Rivers died yesterday at 81. The LA Times featured a really warm, funny, and feminist take on her career by fellow comedian Kathy Griffin, who considered Rivers a friend and mentor:
Stand-up is not a gig in which you say, “It isn’t rocket science.” It’s harder than rocket science. And like rocket science probably was for ages, comedy was not woman’s work when Joan was coming up in the 1960s. A woman could know she was funny, but to make a living out of it? At that time, there was Phyllis Diller, Moms Mabley, Totie Fields, and that was about it.
Right on, because if you want to become a rocket scientist, there’s an established way to do this: college, graduate school, and a system of professional mentors. It’s not easy, but there is a pretty clear path. If you want to be a comedian, especially a female comedian, there’s not an established path, and there were and still are very few mentors.
It makes sense that Griffin was drawn to Rivers as a mentor, because they both mock beauty standards for women in show business by meeting them but also revealing and deconstructing them at the same time: the jokes about all of the work and time it took, about age, and about plastic surgery, and the obsession with body fat–their own and other people’s. Griffin does a tremendous job of capturing Rivers’s ambition and generosity in just a few paragraphs: Continue reading
After 13 years living at 4,659 feet, I’ve forgotten how easy it is to be a runner at sea level! Wow. You old-timers like me who live below 1,000 feet elevation have NO EXCUSES. Working out here feels like nothing, even though I left behind the High Plains Desert three weeks ago.
This used to be my birthday run, at nearly 12,000 feet. Now this is my run at about 920 feet above sea level: Continue reading
Stop by and sit for a spell. Have a cup of coffee, too, while you’re at it! (It’s fresh, or at least it was this morning.) As you have probably guessed, I’ve crawled my way out of the wilderness and back to internet-connected civilization. Although the entrance to The Huntington Library and Gardens is torn up now because of a major construction project, everything indoors and out is pretty much its usual quiet and studied perfection. As commenter Susan noted in the comments on my last post, the Corpse Flower is about to bloom here, so we’re all on the edge of our seats. (Follow the progress on Twitter, #CorpseFlower).
I’ll surely be reporting more from my new sabbatical year location, but I’m actually getting lots of writing done this week (!) so I don’t want to let the blog suck too much of my mojo right now. I’m enjoying the offline company of my fellow nuns and monks here. It’s a refreshingly cloistered environment, in which people still cultivate the attention spans required for long study and deep reflection rather than the instincts of the blogosphere or Twitterverse.
The Huntington is also culturally and environmentally about 15,000 miles away from Ferguson, Missouri. Working and strolling through this privileged environment, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on the incredible liberties I have even amidst the many botanical, art, manuscript, and bibliographic treasures. All it takes is a “reader’s card” on a lanyard around my neck, and I have nearly the run of the place. And who am I? I haven’t paid a dime for the pleasure–in fact, I’m a huge welfare queen! I’m getting paid to be here! What a tragically different experience Mike Brown had of his own neighborhood. Continue reading