* Larry Summers (remember him?) gets holla-backed in this article on women in science that does what Summers should have done before opening his mouth, but didn't: Asks actual women in science what they think the problem is:
“The reality is there are barriers that women face,” said Kathleen S. Matthews, the dean of natural sciences at Rice, who spoke at the meeting’s opening dinner. “There are circles and communities of engagement where women are by and large not included.”
Organizers of these events dismiss the idea voiced in 2005 by Lawrence H. Summers, then president of Harvard, that women over all are handicapped as scientists because as a group they are somehow innately deficient in mathematics. The organizers point to ample evidence that any performance gap between men and women is changeable and is shrinking to the vanishing point.
Instead, they talk about what they have to know and do to get ahead. They talk about unspoken, even unconscious sexism that means they must be better than men to be thought as good — that they must, as one Rice participant put it, literally and figuratively wear a suit and heels, while men can relax in jeans.
Refreshingly, no mention of little girls preferring Barbies to dump trucks is made.
* "Holiday Stress Pushes Women to Comfort Eating:" Isn't there some article like this every December? More than one usually, too. I'm 37 and I know I have been reading variants of this article for at least 20 years. They start in November in the rag mags with titles like, "Get fit NOW to avoid extra holiday pounds!" and continue into January with "Eight simple exercises to trim away holiday fat" and the like. Not that women ever get a break from hearing about their gross bodies, of course, because come March it's time to whip us into shape for swimsuit season, and as the summer progresses we're continually reminded that it's "never too late" to drop a size or two, and before you know it it's November again and, ladies! Watch out for those holiday pounds!
You know, I am almost tempted not to read this article at all, because I am pretty certain that no one mentioned therein is going to suggest having men handle more of the holiday chores, or simply opting out of the excesses of holiday planning, or anything that might be effective or make sense. I told you, I've been reading this same article for years. Well, let's see what we've got anyhow:
Even in families where fathers play a bigger role in parenting, child caring and household work, "women tend to often still do more of the planning, do more of the nurturing, do more of the social and family organization" for the holidays, said Gordetsky, an assistant professor at the Tufts-New England Medical Center's Comprehensive Family Evaluation Center.
. . .
Women have to take care of themselves if they are to be able to take care of others, Gordetsky said.
Among the healthier methods experts recommend to cope with the holiday stress are opting for less elaborate festivities and saying no to that serving of delicious roast beef, lasagna, chocolate or chilled glass of white wine.
Yeah, that's about how I called it. Options remaining unexplored, because they're not as much fun to prescribe to women as that old standby, "Deprive yourselves:"
1. Not really giving a shit and rolling with the seasonal weight fluctuation. Who wrote about this recently? Oh, right: Hugo Schwyzer. If you ask me, Hugo's got the right idea. But that wouldn't make much of an article, would it? "Women: Don't sweat the extra pounds; you can take 'em off later." BO-ring!
2. Not feeling obligated to keep up with the Joneses: One woman interviewed admits that she cares more about decorating and holiday preparations than her husband does, so despite her 70-hour-a-week job, she ends up doing the bulk of it. These articles always have to find at least one woman like this so that the fellas can say, "See? You do this to yourselves!" Ignored in this line of thinking: The pressure on women from the advertising, retailing, and entertainment industries to do it up right.
3. Encouraging men to pitch in: So you like getting ready for the holidays more than he does? Ask yourself: What activities does he like more than you do, that you nonetheless participate in with him equally? A partnership includes give and take. If you've done any giving this year, it's time to take.
* "Breast Cancer News Brings a Range of Reactions:" Mine, I think, would be along the lines of "take this Prempro and shove it," but I understand that for some women menopause is a violently rocky ride. Still, see if you can spot the invisible hand at work in this one. Does a doctor urge Prempro on a patient before she's even entered menopause? Does another doctor provide free samples to a patient who's already stated she does not want hormone replacement? Are either of these doctors women? I'm not telling! You'll have to read it yourself!
* "Policy on Morning-After Pill Upsets Chile:" Aw, poor Chile! Saying anything more about this will only raise my blood pressure. Next!
* I see I have saved my favorite for last: "Chick Lit, the Sequel: Yummy Mummy."
Hold on, I gotta write a letter real quick.
Dear The New York Times:
Please have the author of that headline shot.
Now where were we? Right: Same place we always were, with women being defined by motherhood. Turns out you're only playing grown-up if you don't have kids:
Now that even an avatar of youth [Bridget Jones] has reached this milestone of adulthood, it raises the question whether chick lit, the genre that Bridget’s creator, Helen Fielding, all but invented, will finally grow up.
The answer appears to be yes. In 2006, new books by a host of writers associated with chick lit — Laura Zigman, Jane Green, Emily Giffin and Sue Margolis, among others — featured heroines with babies, former 20-something singles who had settled down with Mr. Right and swapped their stilettos for Bugaboo strollers. Similar tales are scheduled to appear in 2007, including “Shopaholic and Baby” by Sophie Kinsella, “Momzillas” by Jill Kargman and “The Infidelity Pact” by Carrie Karasyov.
Although many female authors aren’t happy about it, the term “mom lit” is used in book reviews and on blogs to describe fiction in which the experience of motherhood, perceived with something of the same rueful spirit with which Bridget and her sisters regarded men, is the central drama.
I have to be honest: I have never read chick-lit. No, wait! I read one--I picked up this in the airport one day. But I don't think books you buy in airports should count. Desperate times call for desperate reading choices, you know?
Anyway, if you want to know my number-one thing I hate about the child-having/child-free debates that occur online, it's this: The assumption that women who are without children are less than adult, frozen in immaturity. And that assumption goes so deep you can even get it from other feminists. Here's one recent example from a discussion at Feministe. The commenter, Kate, is responding to a child-free woman who tried to explain the gulf that broke open between herself and her friends who became parents:
If you have no dramatic turning point in your life over the span of 10 years, then I’d say you need to get out and take some more risks. Also, just it might be healthy to just accept the fact that people grow apart as they grow older. Like momma told you every year on the first day of school, you’ll make new friends.
I’m sure you’ll find a whole posse of like minded anti-change agents hanging at the local pub, holding onto the illusion that they are entitled to live lives of unending fun and carefreeness, otherwise known as immaturity and irresponsibility.
Just to warn you though, as one gets older, substances usually are required to retain the illusion. Alcohol is widely popular and is famous for its properties of keeping people stuck in early adulthood for the rest of their lives.
Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, about this repulsive remark reminds me of the attitudes towards women expressed by several members a certain online women's group with which I clashed recently. And it's happening not there, but at a feminist blog.
So what have we learned? We've learned that if you don't have children and you have difficulty adjusting to the lifestyle changes of your newly be-childrened friends, you've earned yourself a lecture on growth.
And now to figure out what I'm gonna do with the damn cats. (The boyfriend's already up visiting his family, so just dumping them on him isn't an option.) Wish me luck.