Friday, December 30, 2005

A Girl After My Own Heart

The other day I was doing a few dishes (I've found that we go through WAY too many dishes being home than in our normal out-and-about life, of course) when I heard the following from the living room.

Holding a chocolaty treat: Mom? Can I have this?

No, not right now.

(trot trot trot trot)

To me: Can I have this?

From the living room: [FYO]! I JUST told you "no"!

Yeah, but [Blogauthor] doesn't know what you said!

The Little Voice Inside Her Head

The other night the FYO and I were alone at the dinner table and we had one of those rare moments where she wanted to really talk to me about something important to her.

She began, as she often does, in the middle of things.

When I'm around certain people, he tells me they're not nice.

Who tells you they're not nice?

The voice inside my head.

The voice inside your head is a man?


Oh. That's interesting.

Yeah. But, he tells me sometimes that nice people aren't nice. . . Like MRM#1.


Yeah. And I KNOW that he's nice.

Yeah. He IS nice. That must be confusing.

I am trying to ignore what he says about people.

You know, I don't think you should ignore that voice in your head. In fact, I try to trust that voice.

But what about MRM#1?

I know. That's a really strange one.

BioMom: Maybe the voice inside your head is telling you that sometimes MRM#1 is too nice. And maybe he lets you do things sometimes that you know you shouldn't be doing.

FYO: Yeah!

Blogauthor: I find the hardest thing is when the voice in my head conflicts with the vhoice in my heart.

FYO: I don't have a voice in my heart.

Sure you do!! Your heart-voice is one of the strongest I've ever seen!

FYO: smile.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Week Three Developments

Mental Development
has vague and impassive expression during waking hours

Introducing the "JPOD" -- [First letter of ZeYo's name] Picture Of The Day:

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Having A(nother) Child Changes Things

Check out this study via Marginal Revolution and Newmark's Door that concludes:

This paper provides evidence that daughters make people more left wing. Having sons, by contrast makes them more right wing.

I guess, at 18 days, the jury's still out.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What we have in Common with the Holy Family

The other night the FYO and I were playing with this ancient, beat-up nativity set that I had when I was a kid. It is really old-timy looking and most of the figures have lost one body part or another.

Since there were only two of us, each had to play several parts in our little nativity play.

One of my assignments was to be the Joseph character.

At one point, the FYO told me that Joseph would then have to be elevated to heaven in order to play God.

Why? I said.

Well, because he is the father of Jesus! She looked at me in disbelief as if to say, "didn't you KNOW that?"

Actually, [FYO], you're right, God is the father of Jesus, but Joseph is not God. Joseph is Jesus' earthly father.

What does earthly mean?

At this point, I found myself in strangely familiar territory.

What it means is that Joseph was the person that raised him. Not the person that made him.


I had to take the FYO to the pediatrician the other day to check out her eyes.

Although BioMom couldn't see it, I started to notice that one of her eyes was a little slower than the other.

It turns out that she probably sees significantly worse in one eye than the other, and that the problem is easily correctable. But what was interesting was the office visit.

While waiting for the doctor to come in, the FYO and I were playing with the eye chart. I had her cover one eye and read the letters. The first time we did it, I wanted to see how well she could read the bottom line with each eye. So, I moved her to the back of the room, covered one eye, and said:

Can you read the bottom line?

After concentrating for a moment, and then looking confused, she said, Vothov? What does that mean?

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Lost Marbles

I lost my marbles yesterday.

ZeYo was 9 days old.

He lost his bellybutton stump.

It was an amazing and wonderful week. But also an extremely challenging one. BioMom was just able to really help around after the C-section and although he is letting us sleep more than other newborns let their parents sleep, we were still exhausted.

This was all in addition to the first full weekend with the FYO home with us.

I have a new respect for families with more than one pre-school aged child at home. This weekend was the peak in the FYO's reaction to the new baby. And I was handling it okay. Really, I was. Until today.

Let me give you the leadup.

Friday was the first FFFN (Friday Family Fun Night) with ZeYo at home. The FYO was really excited about it. We were going to have dinner and then pop some popcorn and watch the Grinch. Our neighborhood is continuing to bring us over dinners every third night or so to help out and to meet the baby. This particular delivery was from our local pediatrician who is also currently trying to have a baby. She was the first "Wiseman" (the name I'll call for these lovely gift-bearers for us and the baby) to bring ZeYo a gift (a little onesy) and not FYO.

It was a fairly simple transaction; she brought over the food and a little gift and was oohing and ahhing at the baby when I was suddenly tugged to the back of the house by the FYO. In a back bedroom she gave me the following phonetically spelled (with your typical five-year-old backwards s's) treatise:

Yoru paing more atanchin to [ZeYo] then me now that is true!

I knelt down and talked to her about it and we proceeded with our night. Later, I brought up the note.

You know, I really want to spend some time talking about your note.


Well, I want you to feel comfortable.

I do!

That was just the beginning. In each incidence, I was unsure as to whether she was just pushing my buttons, playing the "atanchin" card, or if she was really upset.

Yesterday, we got a card from a relative that the FYO was reading aloud to us. It began "Congratulations [BioMom] and [Blogauthor!]". The FYO stopped reading immediately, turning to me in a very stern voice:

What have YOU done? Mom carried him and I'm the big sister!!! What are YOU doing?

Having done 99% of what it takes to take care for a household that includes one post-op adult, one zero year old and a kindergartener, I about rang her neck!

I'll stop there, but know that I took care of myself, went to the gym, and ZeYo let us sleep from 9:30 to 4:00!!! (a.m. that is).

Titles, Names and other Sundry Topics

A friend of mine just inquired about the name of this blog and why I refer to myself (or, I should say, referred) as a "step-mother."

At the time I created this WebLog, ZeYo was still really abstract in our minds and the FYO was going through something with me and deciding what to call me.

I met them (BioMom and the FYO) when the FYO was 16 months old. BioMom's (female) partner had an affair and their relationship dissovled early on in the FYO's life. While BioMom and I both felt a special spark when we met, we were both uncomfortable thinking about me co-parenting for quite some time (needless to say, we didn't do the usual lesbian second date U-Haul).

As we became increasingly serious, and I eventually moved in with them, the FYO also evolved in what she called me, and it was also obvious that while she couldn't remember a time without me, she also intuitively knew that a time without me existed.

I have always felt that it was important to follow her lead in this. I always thought that Mike and Carol Brady's kids were totally fake in calling their new step-parents "Mom" and "Dad" and I didn't expect the FYO to jump in and call me "Mom" until she was ready. In fact, I didn't (and don't) care what she calls me.

Ultimately, it has evolved into something quite fluid. Sometimes she calls me by my first name, other times by "Mom" or "Mommy."

Now, with the ZeYo, I suppose things may be different.

In any case, the title of the blog seems outdated. I also wish I would have been a little more creative, maybe calling it the "Lesbian Step-Father" or something fun like that with a nod to some of the lit crit people of the 1990s.

Since the ZeYo has been born, a couple of lesbian couples have asked us what he'll call me. BioMom has gotten a big kick out of this, coming up with various names, using them in context:

[Zero Year Old] here comes Malikaliki-Mama!

Mamakesh -- here's a dirty diaper for you to change!

Others include: Mamasita, Mamoo, Mushka.

It goes on and on.

Friday, December 16, 2005

One Week Old

Grandma and Grandpa have been amazing to us this week. On Tuesday, for example, I had to be out of the house and take the FYO to her dance lessons. We were all pretty exhausted, but BioMom and I thought we could handle it. About five minutes before I was to leave, the grandparents were suddenly "in the neighborhood" wondering if BioMom and ZeYo wanted a little "company."

They live 45 minutes away. How lovely is that?

Last night they came over for dinner and, get this, organized our miscellaneous socks.

They literally could not be more helpful.

Here's grandma's response to the little guy:

Doesn't it just feel like he's always been in the family? It feels like we've known him for a long, long time.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Shout Out to Cousin

Her kitty, Larry, went on to the Daisy Hill Kitty Farm in the sky last night.

We got Larry and my Emma at the same time in our little apartment in Lincoln, Nebraska way back in 1991. Needless to say, they've been our good friends for a long time. Through thick and thin, as they say.

We'll miss you, Larry.

6 Days Alive

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Night Two

It's been MUCH better tonight. We played with him and generally cajoled him into alert-ness from 8-10 p.m. last night and then filled him up with the delicious nector of the gods. He slept from 10:30-3:00.


What a difference sleep makes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Day4: Out Like A Light

What is it with these nocturnal beings we have in our life? Between the cats and this newborn. . .

Now that it's daytime, he's sleeping like an angel.

Stanley "Tookie" Williams

Gang Co-Founder Is Executed in Calif.

Having exhausted his appeals, Williams, 51, who co-founded the notorious Crips gang, was killed via injection at 12:35 p.m. Pacific time (3:35 EST) for four murders committed during two separate robberies in Southern California in 1979.

. . .

The burly Williams, who had maintained his innocence since his arrest, gained prominence speaking out against gang violence in a series of children's books and through writings appealing directly to gangs. His supporters have said that the evidence against him was weak, that his lawyers botched his trial, and that during his years on death row his conversion to an anti-gang advocate made him a strong candidate for mercy.

I wonder if the alleged victim's family feels safer now that Tookie is dead. I have a little experience at being the victim's family (I won't go into it here) and can honestly say that if the accused (never proven, but I don't think even proof would matter in my mind) were killed, I would not feel better about our loss.

The death penalty doesn't make economic, social, or psychological sense. Rather it is a morbid medevial holdover.

Monday, December 12, 2005

First Night At Home

As far as first nights at home go, I guess this is going okay.

It is 1:48 a.m. and we're both up. BioMom is nursing, and I'm messing around on Blogspot, Wikipedia and a Beta version of the Trixie Update that tracks ZeYo's, well. . . ZeYo's everything.

Cousin and her mom ("Lez" here or "Aunt on Mom's side") related stories to me of first nights home from hell. Lez's first night home with her first, under the guidance of the then American Pediatric Society's advice, was to let the baby cry on the FIRST night! Another story she relayed was from her fifth (!) son's first night home with his son. He called her at one point early on in the evening: Will you call us back? She was too late to call and so waited until morning to ask: What do you need? He said his son cried and cried and at 3:30 a.m. all three of them were crying.

We're not crying, yet.

A FYO's Concerns

Last night BioMom and ZeYo stayed in the hospital while the FoYo (modified FYO) and I were back at home.

It was hard for both of us to be away from them, but it was good to be home. We decided that the grandparent's drive to get FoYo to school at 7:55 was too much to ask, and maybe I could get a good night's sleep to prepare for their arrival home.

While FoYo and slept great--until almost 7a.m.-- ZeYo and BioMom had a hard night, learning each other's habits, without much help.

In the morning FoYo crawled into bed and started asking questions.

Where will he be when we go do the fun things we do?

Well, he'll be with us.

How? He can't DO anything. How will he do that?

Well, you know that bucket thing? we'll take it with us.

What if he doesn't like to do the things we do?

Don't worry. He will.

But, what if he doesn't?

[FoYo]. How could ANYONE not like Matt's?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Friday, December 09, 2005

Announcing. . . .

The Zero Year Old, AKA "ZeroYearO"!:


Born: 9 DEC 2005, 8:46 a.m.

Statistics: 9 pounds 3 ounces, 19 inches, some very dark hair and a quite serious demeanor.

BioMom is doing great.

The FYO is thrilled.

We're all in love.

And exhausted.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Nothing yet! I'm just preparing a thingy for my office -- a box of rolos (to look like cigars) and a little sign that reads:

IT'S A. . . . . . .


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Contraction Action

Just talked to BioMom at the office. Apparently the "pesky" contractions are somewhat disruping to the normal workaday life!

Monday, December 05, 2005

39 Weeks and 40 Inch Belly

When I told the FYO today after picking her up from school that BioMom's body was getting ready to have the baby, she asked if the "feet had popped out."

50 Per Cent

. . . is usually something that students come to me and complain about.

There's no complaining going on here! BioMom is 50% effaced!

Note, however that This process is related to dilation; however, the rates of effacement to dilation are neither linear, nor the same for all women. However, progression of effacement is a sign that labor is progressing.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Christmas Pledge

We got this pledge from our uber-liberal catholic church (which, by the way, is currently undergoing an audit by our archdioses and will probably get run out of town).

The Pledge
1. I will examine my motives for celebrating Christmas.
2. I will not spend money to impress others.
3. I will avoid doing anything to oblige others to spend on me.
4. I will not engage in excess of eating, drinking, partying or anything that will reduce the freedom of myself or others.
5. I will give gifts and do activities only if they enhance life-for myself and others.
6. I will avoid gifts that are gadgets, made by complicated, energy-consuming processes that excessively pollute the environment.
7. I will choose gifts that rely on the involvement, energy and ingenuity of the recipient.
8. I will avoid buying items made by exploited workers whose land and labor are sacrificed to tempt my consumer appetites.
9. I will question the source of consumer goods before I buy.
10. I will celebrate Christmas by sharing of myself more than of my property.
11. I will give gifts of service which involve my time, my work, my spoken and written word, my art, my song, my presence-and other things that are not objects-whenever possible.
12. I will use some of my time to visit family, friends and those who have less, hurt more or who have been forgotten.
13. I will choose gifts that involve me and/or the recipient their creation and use.

The Peak of Procrastination

I must be stressing out.

I have an incredibly large workload at the moment, mainly because I am trying to get everything done before Itsy's arrival (we'll call that "time zero") and so, I find myself procrastinating to a degree that I have not reached since working on my dissertation.

What am I doing you ask?

Well, reading Dooce, for one. But, specifically, she has a great post on Sesame Street's character Count Von Count. In particular, her post on the subject focuses on his many lovers (being a vampire, he is, notably, 1,832,652 years old). His current squeeze is called "Sachertorte" and, in honor of that, I'm thinking of renaming BioMom here.

Okay, I probably won't do that, but I'm definitely renaming that little cat of ours for The Count's: "Fatatatita"!

Here Comes Itsy, Here Comes Itsy, Right Down Itsy Lane

Itsy must be coming soon. The other day I found BioMom going through the FYO's markers and checking each individual marker to see if they were still working. My attempts at explaining the economic concept of opportunity cost to her went unheard (or, more likely, were ignored).

Scene: BioMom sitting in a completely cluttered room after tearing apart a closet full of "craft supplies" and "christmas presents" testing markers and throwing them away one by one.

Me: What are you doing?

BioMom: Testing these markers.

Me in my head: Doesn't this woman, a lawyer, bill like $10,000 per hour at her firm? Does she think that testing markers is worth her time??? And look at this room! It is completely torn apart!

Me: Um. Why don't you just throw them all away? It is a waste of your time and we can get new ones for, like, ONE dollar at IKEA.

She is obviously nesting. This puts into perspective my doubts on the significance of our primal, biological origins.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Winter Wonderland

My English Homework

So, for tomorrow, we were supposed to take a poem (in my case, from Billy Collins) and imitate it, producing something similar, but our own.

Here's my try at poetry. First is the Billy Collins original called "Litany" and then my version follows.

-Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...
-Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.

A Litany for My Pregnant Girlfriend in Her 9th Month
Inspired by "Litany" by Billy Collins

You are the rubber band around the Sunday paper,
the watermelon in August.
You are the present under the tree on Christmas Eve,
and the gossip with the juicy secret.
You are the pizza delivery guy stuck in traffic.

However, you are not the neighbor's fallen leaves that collect in our driveway,
or the stack of ungraded papers that crowd my desk.
And you are certainly not the toothpaste's minty blast in my mouth.
There is just no way that you are that minty blast.

You are sometimes that piece of corn stuck in my teeth
maybe even the music in the elevator.
But you are usually the black and white snap-shot of the reunited 1940s couple,
or the way that the five-year-old tells strangers about her day.

You are not even close to the Aurora Borealis,
and even a cursory observation of how you now move, will show that you are not,
at least not currently, the worn 300-count cotton sheets,
or the gentle May wind in the lavender iris' petals.

And a quick look in the mirror will show that you are neither
the grove of naked birches standing in their snow bath
or the steaming mug of coffee with my morning toast.

You are also not the green eggs and ham.
But, even if you were,
I would not be the antagonistic Sam,
continually refusing your emerald gestures with silly rhymes and caveats.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Spoonbridge and Belly


This afternoon, in an attempt to give some special attention to the FYO prior to Itsy's arrival, we went out "on a date."

We saw the play Alladin and then went to The Melting Pot.

It was magical.

The play was just amazing. I dunno why. The cast must have had some great connection, because they were just incredible. Plus, there was a number in the first act that involved tap dancing. Seriously. That song "You've never had a friend like me" involved a tap dance!

Anyway, at one point, Alladin and Princess Jasmine exited the stage and then entered along the aisle and walked down among the audience. Some kid right behind us yelled out "ALLADIN!" as if he were talking to him. As if to say "Hey Alladin, I'm over here! What are you doing?" Hilarious.

Then, when, in the end Jasmine said that she chose Alladin as her groom, the FYO literally rose up her arm and yelled "YEAH!"


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


See the following article from the Washington Post, "Once a C-Section, Always a C-Section?"

Note To Self: You Never Really Were In Control Anyway

Conversation from this morning:

Me: Okay! You need to get dressed! Go and pick out what you want to wear!

FYO (after coercing her up to her room and convincing her that she is able to dress herself): I want to wear this read shirt with this pink sweater!

She pulls out a red shirt with buttons and a collar and a slightly heavier pink shirt without a collar but also with buttons. Not a sweater. Then she pulls out a cream and black plaid wool skirt. It is about 50 degrees here today and I had planned on taking her to the climbing wall since we're both off from school.

Me: Well, instead, how about you wear this white t-shirt underneath the pink "sweater" and some pink stretchy pants since we'll be climbing?


Me: But the red and the pink. . . Well, they don't really match.

My agenda rears its ugly head and she completely recognizes it.


Me: Okay, I don't really care. Wear whatever you want, but please, just get dressed, okay?

FYO: Okay, I'll wear a white t-shirt but I don't want to wear THIS one because it has "HalLoween" written on it.

Me: But with the "sweater" on, you won't even SEE the "Halloween."

FYO: IT'S NOT EVEN HALLOWEEN ANYMORE!!! I want a different t-shirt!

Me: But we don't have any more plain white t-shirts.

I go back to the drawing board and pull out some other white shirts with other sweater combinations for her.

In the mean time, the FYO decides she's completely okay with it all.

FYO: You know, it doesn't matter what you look like on the OUTSIDE. Just what you look like on the INSIDE!

I resisted saying -- but I don't have to LOOK at your insides all day long. !

Monday, November 21, 2005

Itsy, Meet Chihuly

Discrete Changes In One's Lifetime

To the extent that we experience discrete moments in our life that result in changes (large and small) this is one of those for me:

[Blogauthor's first name],

Congratulations. The PRT committee just met and voted unanimously for renewal, which in this case means tenure. I am required to notify you within 7 days of our vote so I have attached the notification letter. The letter that goes to the dean is not due until December 9. You will get a copy of that letter when it is transmitted to the dean.

[PRT Committee Chair]

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Itsy On Board

The Economics of Donor Insemination

Today's New York Times sported the article "Hello, I'm Your Sister. Our Father is Donor 150."

It is another installation in the larger discussion about how children created through donor insemination (DI) are dealing with their personal realities. Ryan Kramer, the donor-conceived son of Wendy Kramer, founded the Website Here, more than 5,000 people have joined with the hopes of getting in touch with their anonymous donor.

Many registry members, however, are happy to "settle for contacting their half-siblings, who actually want to be found. As they do, they are building a new definition of family that both rests on biology and transcends it."

While many donor-conceived children prefer to call their genetic father their 'donor,' to differentiate the biological funciton of fatherhood from the social one, they often feel no need to distance themselves, linguistically or emotionally, from their siblings.

DI children seem to find comfort in meeting their half-siblings. In part it may be due to the relatively scant information they have about their donor and, therefore, their physical/medical history; one-half of the "nature" part of that nature/nurture equation.

For one DI daughter, knowing one of her half-siblings has "eased her frutration of knowing only the scant information about her biological father contained in the sperm bank profile."

According to "Sperm bank officials" (Now THAT would be a title to which to aspire: "I'm an accountant down at Wells Fargo. What do you do?" "Oh, I'm in banking too! I'm a Sperm bank official.") about 30,000 kids are born to donors every year. The industry, however, is largly unregulated and so banks do not have a clear idea how many children are born to each donor and where they (kids? donors?) are.

This could cause a pesky regression in our little eugenics experiment: the potential of unwitting incest.

Theoretically, sperm banks monitor the number of children produced from each donor and their location, limiting the sample availability based on statistical sampling on a regional basis. Of course, that is all in theory, with the problem increasing with the degree of unregulated markets (not to mention labor mobility!).

Interestingly, it is the DI Kids that are calling for more regulatio on this front:

Even as the Internet is making it easier for donor-conceived children to find one another, some are calling for an end to the system of anonymity under which they were born. Sperm banks, they say, should be required to accept only donors who agree that their children can contact them when they turn 18, as is now mandated in some Eurpean countries.

Enter economic man. Presumably there are a host of reasons why anyone would donate sperm. Possibly, (as the WashingtonPost article from last June implied), it is to help infertile (or lesbian) couples conceive. Economics would argue that it ss the bottom line that matters: money, predicting that it would mainly be donated by younger, relatively poorer men whose economic alternatives are smaller. As it stands, sperm banks typically pay men $50 to $100 per sample (customers pay about $150 to $600 per vial plus shipping). So, donors, economic theory predicts, are those men whose opportunity cost of their time (15 minutes?) is less than or equal to that $50-$100 range.

Most banks charge more for "professional" donors (those with a higher degree), but it is not clear as to whether the donors get more per donation (or whether it translates into higher "productivity", i.e. pregnancies or even smarter kids for that matter).

Donors probably aren't donating with the thought of future emails from their heretofore unknown spawn 18 years later. It would be expected that relaxing the anonymity option for donors would increase their marginal costs (future discounted marginal costs?) and therefore cause a decline in donations.

More recently sperm banks have begun to charge more for the sperm from donors who agree to be contacted by their offspring when they turn 18. But they say far fewer men would choose to donoate if they were requrie to release their identity.

And you thought you'd never think about supply and demand again after college.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Friday, November 18, 2005

Thursday, November 17, 2005

And The Countdown Begins

At the end of this week, you're going to reach an important pregnancy milestone: Your baby will be considered full term! That means you could give birth very soon. Put any unnecessary travel plans on hold now in case you go into labor early. Many airlines won't let pregnant women fly close to their due dates for this reason. It's also time to start wrapping up projects at work, get an infant car seat if you haven't already done so (you won't be allowed to leave the hospital without one), and put finishing touches on the nursery. Your baby - who now weighs about 6 pounds and is almost 19 inches long - will continue to gain about an ounce a day until he makes his debut.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Girl Money

I finally got around to reading Maureen Dowd's teaser "What's a Modern Girl To Do" for her new book.

Having come of age (and come out) at the tail-end of the second wave of the US Feminist movement, I can recognize some of the patterns she presents in her non-pithy, mainly anecdotal, New York Times Magazine splash. Basically she argues that current (young) women find little use for the "tedious" feminists of yore and their antiquated policy goals.

Women in their 20's think old-school feminists looked for equality in all the wrong places, that instead of fighting battles about whether women should pay for dinner or wear padded bras they should have focused only on big economic issues.

Now, instead of "equal pay for equal work", there's talk about "girl money."

A friend of mine in her 30's says it is a term she hears bandied about the New York dating scene. She also notes a shift in the type of gifts given at wedding showers around town, a reversion to 50's-style offerings: soup ladles and those frilly little aprons from Anthropologie and vintage stores are being unwrapped along with see-through nighties and push-up bras.

"What I find most disturbing about the 1950's-ification and retrogression of women's lives is that it has seeped into the corporate and social culture, where it can do real damage," she complains. "Otherwise intelligent men, who know women still earn less than men as a rule, say things like: 'I'll get the check. You only have girl money.'"

Dowd claims that success and family/kid are incompatible for women. Citing no legitimate academic studies, she presents evidence that sucessful women of a certain age forwent marriage and family for career.

Furthermore in relation to my recent post about name changes, She cites evidence (credible at that) of a decline in the number of women who keep their own name upon marriage:

A Harvard economics professor, Claudia Goldin, did a study last year that found that 44 percent of women in the Harvard class of 1980 who married within 10 years of graduation kept their birth names, while in the class of '90 it was down to 32 percent. In 1990, 23 percent of college-educated women kept their own names after marriage, while a decade later the number had fallen to 17 percent.
Time magazine reported that an informal poll in the spring of 2005 by the Knot, a wedding Web site, showed similar results: 81 percent of respondents took their spouse's last name, an increase from 71 percent in 2000. The number of women with hyphenated surnames fell from 21 percent to 8 percent.

"It's a return to romance, a desire to make marriage work," Goldin told one interviewer, adding that young women might feel that by keeping their own names they were aligning themselves with tedious old-fashioned feminists, and this might be a turnoff to them.

The professor, who married in 1979 and kept her name, undertook the study after her niece, a lawyer, changed hers. "She felt that her generation of women didn't have to do the same things mine did, because of what we had already achieved," Goldin told Time.

In the end, although she seems to side with these Carrie Bradshaw types (although, the comparison to me was odd. Didn't Sarah Jessica Parker lose her Gap contract for being "too old"? How can Dowd lump her character in with the 20 somethings carrying the new anti-feminist torch she's describing?), she doesn't endorse it unconditionally. She wonders about the future:

Having boomeranged once, will women do it again in a couple of decades? If we flash forward to 2030, will we see all those young women who thought trying to Have It All was a pointless slog, now middle-aged and stranded in suburbia, popping Ativan, struggling with rebellious teenagers, deserted by husbands for younger babes, unable to get back into a work force they never tried to be part of?
It's easy to picture a surreally familiar scene when women realize they bought into a raw deal and old trap. With no power or money or independence, they'll be mere domestic robots, lasering their legs and waxing their floors -- or vice versa -- and desperately seeking a new Betty Friedan.

Katha Pollitt's response is predictably articulate and smart:

Maureen Dowd doesn't read my column. I know this because in her new book, Are Men Necessary?, she uncritically cites virtually every fear-mongering, backlash-promoting study, survey, article and book I've debunked in this space. She falls for that 1986 Harvard-Yale study comparing women's chances of marrying after 40 to the likelihood of being killed by a terrorist, and for the half-baked theories of Sylvia Ann Hewlett (ambitious women stay single or childless), Lisa Belkin (mothers give up their careers), Louise Story (even undergraduates understand this now) and other purveyors of the view that achievement and romance/family are incompatible for women. To be fair, Dowd apparently doesn't read Susan Faludi or Susan Douglas either, or The American Prospect, Slate, Salon or even The New Republic, home of her friend Leon Wieseltier, much thanked for editorial help in her introduction--all of which have published persuasive critiques of these and other contributions to backlash lit. Still, it hurts. I read her, after all. We all do.

She admits that some of Dowd's unscientific presentation is, in fact, true:

And it's hard to deny that there's a reality out there of which she gives a slapdash, cartoon, Style-section version. There is some truth to Dowd's horrified depiction of the hypersexualized culture of "hotness."

Just that its not the whole story.

By many measures young women today are far more independent than we were--more likely to finish college and have advanced degrees, to work in formerly all-male occupations, to have (or acknowledge having) lesbian sex, to refuse to suffer in silence rape, harassment, abuse. If we're going by anecdotal evidence from our circles of friends, I know young women who've made the finals in the Intel science contest and worked on newspapers in Africa, who've had sperm-bank babies alone or with other women, who play rugby, make movies, write feminist/political/literary blogs, organize unions, raise money for poor women's abortions.


I'm amazed, actually, that feminism is still around, given the press it gets.

While Dowd might be a hot fifty-something, Pollitt rocks.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sunday, November 13, 2005