Tag Archives: Salon

Reminders from the Second Wave

Salon recently interviewed author Anne Roiphe about her journey as an artist. As a housewife in the 50’s Roiph channelled all her artistic energy into being a muse instead of being the artist.

Reading this article in combination with Friedan’s classic Feminine Mystique, has reminded me of the incredible privilege I have as a post-second wave feminist to realize my own dreams instead of merely supporting the artistic dreams of my husband. I think many young woman when thinking of the term feminist, forget why the term was created, they forget that a mere 50 years ago, women were restricted to the private world of the home.

This article is a great reminder to be thankful for all the struggle of second-wave feminists. Read the full article here.

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New “factual” argument against promiscuity

Ross Douthat’s had a lovely little tidbit in the New York Times last week about the cost of promiscuity…on women. As Dothart says less sexual partners “increases the odds that [women’s] adult sexual lives will be a source of joy rather than sorrow.” His argument is notably reserved for women.

The facts come from a study showing women with increased sexual partners are decreasingly unhappy. However this fact doesn’t say if the connection is causation or correlation aka do women sleep with more people because they are unhappy or does sleeping with more people make one unhappy. Or ignoring both of these suggestions is there something about behind the sex such as finding a stable partner that increases happiness.

According to a professor intereviewed by Salon’s Tracy Clark Flory “There is no compelling reason to think that larger numbers of sexual partners are truly ‘causing’ less happiness…It’s more likely that the reverse is true. I find Ms. Right; she makes me happy; I then don’t need to look for any other sexual partners.” In other words, actually having sex with more people isn’t making women unhappy but rather the frustrating fact that they haven’t found Mr. Right.

Arguments like Douthat’s which twist stats to prove a personal moral issue, do nothing but reinforce negative societal stereotypes. The truth is finding Mr/Ms. Right is a frustrating and difficult process; the unluckier you are in your pursuit often the unhappier you can appear to be in the time being. However in the end, when Mr/Ms Right is found Mr/Ms Wrong, whether that number is 2 or 200, really doesn’t matter.

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The 20-something man-child: do today’s young men deserve all the hyphens?

Thanks to the release of Kay Hymowitz’s new book “Manning Up,” everyone from NPR to Salon to your local bloggers seems to have an opinion on the current “pre-adulthood” state of young men. Hymowtiz’s hypothesis, which is based heavily on pop culture references, suggests that unlike previous generations, young men today are unwilling to grow up, give up the playstation and become a flourishing part of society… and all because young women are growing up faster and more successfully.

It is hard to tell if Hymowitz’s argument is trying to blame the victim (damn those over-aggressive young feminists scaring young men away from success, they deserve to deal with the pathetic outcome) or be the voice of a disapproving, guilt-inducing mother (time to straighten up young men and produce some grand babies). Either way it seems less than convicing to most because of its over-generalizations and reliance on hit movies to support her argument instead of facts. (Read NPR’s review and exerts here.)

As Salon writer Tracy Clark-Flory says “there is certainly some truth here — but, unfortunately, she relies on oblique statistics and pop culture observations instead of talking to the men she’s writing about. ” Read her full response plus the response of some real young men here.

And yet when I was reading exerts from Hymowitz’s book, I couldn’t help but feel some twinges of familiarity when reading the descriptions of child-men: “It’s looking pretty clear that ten or fifteen years of party-on single life are a good formula for producing navel-gazing, wisecracking childmen rather than unhyphenated, unironic men.” Despite not having the facts and figures to back it up, I feel myself agreeing with Hymowtiz’s hypotheis, even if it is only based on my own small experience in the world.

No one would deny the past few years have been rough particularly on young people just starting out in the world, trying to make their path in society and finding more dead ends than promising roads. And yet when I talk to my female friends, I find we have found a way to adapt; we have put our pride aside, taken positions for less money with less than appealing titles and worked to make our way even if that way was not on the previously drawn map. We are looking at going back for master’s degrees, taking on bigger projects at work, and moving up in our fields despite the recession. We may not be looking to get married, have babies and enter that “adulthood” but we are looking to better ourselves and create our own place in society.

And yet the guys we are dating are routinely disappointing (of course with delightlful exceptions). It is not that they don’t call, don’t open doors, don’t pay for dates (although they routinely don’t); it is that they are lacking any ambition or plan for their futures but seem filled to the brim with excuses for their stagnant lives: the economy, their stupid boss, their parents, society’s unrealistic expectations. They are not just navelgazers but navel-buriers; they have buried themselves and their futures in their own unrealistic world and expectations.

I have no facts to support these claims other than my occasionally humorous and often painful personal history. Yet despite my personal experience, I do not think today’s young men deserve the hyphens. Although I suspect Hymowitz’s observations are true because they resonate in my own life, I am beginning to believe her man-child conclusion is flawed.

Young men today just like young women are struggling to find their place in a changing society. The majority of young men and women of today do not get married at 21 and have babies, they do not have the obvious, visible entrance into adulthood. Instead they often have a decade of creating their own identities, of finding their place in society and of negotiating their hyphens. It seems that young women seem to accomplish this task in a more socially acceptable way, by getting jobs, supporting themselves and creating an independent life. Young men seem to be taking a different more frustrating route to self-discovery.

This can be baffling for older generations used to a certain formula. And yet there is not much to be done except maybe write more books about “preadulthood” and lament the good ole days. As for the frustrated young women out there, all I can say is some young men find themselves earlier and in less infuriating ways. So stop making excuses for the child-men who are still trying to start a band living off food stamps and their parent’s naive generosity and dump them. This 20-somethings decade is way too short to spend it writing angry blog posts about the disappointing men in life.

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Abortion not a “women’s issue”

For some time now I’ve been interested in what I affectionately refer to as “women’s issues,” that vast swath issues ranging from domestic violence to women’s image in the media to the most notorious of women’s issues out there abortion. As “women’s issues” these topics are usually handled by women in the media. But to my delighted surprise, a recent Salon article written by a man about abortion was one of the most honest and enlightenign articles I’ve read on the subject for a while.

The author Aaron Traister

The male writer is Aaron Traister and he describes how abortion and reproductive rights have touched every part of his life. From his mother’s decision to end a dangerous pregnancy to his college’s girlfriends decision to have an abortion to his wife’s access to birth control, each of the women in his life made reproductive choices that not only affected their future but his. Realizing this, Traister writes one of the strongest arguments for men becoming involved in the pro-choice movement.

I wish all men could read this and understand there is no such thing as “women’s issues.” As Traister, says “The destinies of men and women are intertwined by sex, and pregnancy, and childbirth. It is time for more men to sack up and start taking responsibility for their end of the conversation.” Read the full article here .

I must admit that there is a part of me that is protective about “women’s issues” and particularly abortion. A part of me doesn’t want to give up ownership of something that has to do so intimately with my body and my future. But as I read Traister’s story, I came to the same conclusion with him: abortion is a difficult decision which we are all responsible for defending and perhaps in sharing this responsibility the burden will become a bit less.

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An eye for an eye, a mass of cells for a doctor’s life

You can’t “kill” a mass of cells in a women’s uterus but in South Dakota it is A-Okay to kill a full grown adult. A new bill would make killing an abortion doctor legal if the intent was to save a fetus. Who really thinks this is a good idea?

Read the article here

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Abortion’s Common Ground: It’s Not Your Decision

For as long as I have been alive, abortion has been legal. It has also been one of the most divisive issues of my generation, not just in the media, politics or in the church but within my own circle of friends. The majority of my friends are pro-choice yet what we would do personally if we became pregnant, the decisions vary widely.

But no matter what each of us feel individually, we all understand it is not our choice to decide what another person should do with her uterus, her 9-months and her future. This is the common ground we all stand on. Although personally we all have different values, we know our values are not somehow better than anyone else’s.

This is the major common ground missed in most abortion arguments. In light of the recent horrific news about an illegal abortion clinic in Philadelphia, Salon’s Rebekah Kuschmider reminds readers that this common ground still exists.

Kuschmider remarks that “Societies over the course of human history have tried to put all kinds of different regulations and rules on sex but in the end, pretty much everybody does it. And you do not have the right to impose your personal sexual morals on anyone else. You don’t. It’s rude. So please don’t try.”

She continues to confirm that indeed the human race has sex and sex produces pregnancy. She encourages society to change the way we look at sex, reproductive rights and the attitudes we hold towards women and sex.

“Telling young women that having sex makes them “bad” is a good way to totally undermine their self-esteem if they do have sex and lead them to make poor choices about it,” Kuschmider says.

While my friends and I  have these conversations about abortion “what ifs,” we also have discussions about the best type of birth control, which condoms are most enjoyable as well as what positions we like and what makes good sex great. And just as we would never tell a friend that liking “doggy style” is just weird and wrong, or perfering ribbed condoms is immoral, we would never say the personal decision to have an abortion is right or wrong.

Read Kuschmider’s full article here

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Debating the Sexual Should’s: Should Women have Sex like Men?

A recent article on CNN Health posed the 21st century, post-Sex-in-the-City question many American women are all too familiar with these days: “Should women have sex like men?”

The article was overflowing with generalities, short on science and overall disappointingly shallow when dealing with the complexities of female sexuality. As its crowning proof of the inability of women to have string-less sex “like men”, the article cited a 32-year-old woman battling “post-orgasm regret” a bout of depression that developed right after orgasming. One woman cries a little after sex and suddenly all women are unable have sex without those pesky sentiments of love?

The problem with the article and the general debate in society about how women “should” or “should not” have sex is all in the wording. Sex should never be an issue of what an individual “should” or “should not” do; it should be a discussion about what an individual WANTS to do.

The question should be do women want to have sex “like men” or sex without emotional attachment. That is a debate likely to be as multi-dimensional as “what is the government’s role in the recession recovery” or “what is your favorite sexual position?” Everyone has a different opinion, and one that is likely to change over time and experience.

We (this includes the men folk here) need to stop telling ourselves what we should or should not be doing and start really investigating what we want. There will be times in many women’s lives when they want string-less, emotion-less and hopefully orgasm-full sex. There will be times in many men’s lives when they are sick of the hook-up culture or are never into it to start. When we start listening to want we want and not what society tells us we want, we will all be a whole lot healthier, happier and hornier.

Debunking a few CNN misconceptions


From CNN: “Many years before Candace Bushnell put pen to paper, Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing wrote, on the subject of sexual freedom, “Men get erections when they’re with a woman they don’t give a damn about, but we don’t have an orgasm unless we love him. What’s free about that?”

From Reality: Women orgasm with or without love everyday. Some women can’t orgasm even with all that oxytocin and love. Some women can orgasm without even knowing someone’s name. However, for the record, if you can’t orgasm without love, accept that and stop having loveless sex. In this case, all the faking in the world won’t help you make it.


From CNN: “Oxytocin helps facilitate a sense of attachment. But if there’s nothing to attach to, if there’s no deeper emotional content or meaningfulness, orgasm could become a regretful reminder of the hollowness of the sex that preceded it.”

From Reality: Does this mean there are millions of women out there emotionally attached to their vibrators? Orgasms can create oxytocin which can facilitate attachment. Orgasms can also be an incredible muscle spasm leading to extreme relaxation and passing out 5 minutes after sex. The roll over and sleep maneuver isn’t reserved for men. Seriously, not all women love to cuddle.


From CNN: “A woman is less likely to have orgasms early in a relationship. Her body needs time to adapt to the new partner, to learn to trust him or her, and to relax into the knowledge that her partner accepts and appreciates her body.”

From Reality: This may be true for many women, and for others it is complete shit. Anyone ever seen 9 ½ weeks? The one-night stand exists for a reason and it is not just to please the man. Women like exciting adventurous sex too.

 Conclusion: It is time to start really thinking about the who, what, when, where and why of sex on a personal level and let go of the should. We all know we can have sex like Samantha but do we want to? And just because we want to be Samantha one day doesn’t mean the next we can’t want to be a born-again virgin. The rule book never helped much any way. Throw it out and create your own sexual should’s. Number one: Sex should always feel good.

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Why Feminism is good for marriage

Before her death, Betty Friedan openly called herself a “bad-tempered bitch.” She was known for being abrasive, pig-headed and, well, acting “like a man.” In her generation and occasionally in the nostalgic discourse of American traditionalists, she is also known as the bitch who ruined marriage through her all-telling book “The Feminine Mystique.”

After the release of “The Feminine Mystique” revealed the unhappy condition of the majority of middle to upper class educated house wives, the world began to change. Women began to voice their discontent in the home, in the bedroom and in their lack-luster singular role as mothers.  The second wave began and women began to demand equality in marriage; they often lost this fight, and divorce became the surrender cry around America.


But Betty never thought of herself as anti-marriage. In fact she once said, her tombstone should read: “She helped make women feel better about being women and therefore better able to freely and fully love men”

Hallelujah sister.

Almost four decades after the release of her wave-creating book, America is still grappling with the role of marriage and divorce and often still looking for a ghost of a scapegoat.  But a new book by Stephanie Coontz, re-examines the role of “The Feminine Mystique” and Betty Friedan in the changing role of marriage in American society and looks to some other factors to the failure of marriage.

According to Coontz, marriage does not fail because women demanded to be equal and men disagreed; instead marriage often fails because both men and women want equal marriages but society denies them equality. In a society where two breadwinners are the norm, the nuclear family is often left to debate who will be the nurturer as well. When concessions from society aren’t made (think flexible work hours, day cares in workplaces, maternity leave for fathers), the family often breaks from the inflexibility.

Betty was right; happier women make happier marriages. But without some changes in our current social roles and norms, men aren’t the happiest they can be. Today’s crisis isn’t about bored housewives; it is about the pigeon-holed role of the man in society. What marriages needs in a third-wave of feminism or the first wave of meninism. It is time for men to take off the suit, tie and 60-hour work week and be allowed to be the fathers, husbands and friends they deserve to be.

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