Thursday, January 31, 2008

Fairy Tales

So I just finished watching a Disney Channel original movie entitled Minutemen.  It's a film about high school, fitting in and time travel.  Yes, time travel.  But two of the three protagonists meet the day the younger one (who is one of those kid-inventor-geniuses) rides his rocket-powered (at least that's what it looked like) vehicle all over the school football field, and the main character stands up for the younger one when all the football players gang up on him.  The end result is that they're both dressed up as cheerleaders, makeup and all, and hung up on each of the two horns of their giant school mascot, a ram.

I thought it was kind of interesting how playing with gender lines can be seen as a way of humiliating people.  It's hard to guess what people who have their fun by putting other people down think.  But besides "making fun," they were also saying, you don't fit into the male paradigm, you don't belong.  The problem is that the way they say "you're not enough of a guy" is by saying, "you're like a girl."  It groups people into halves: the real men, then all the weaker men, the women and the miscellaneous losers (apologies for such rudimentary, and probably insulting, classifications).

Now, of course there was a female lead in this movie.  She had a great personality, she was a school cheerleader, and she was interested in becoming an architect - the prototypical girl-next-door.  Where does someone like her fit into the world of those male football-playing winners?  She's obviously not a loser.  But who lifts her up from the dirt where she's been grouped with all the losers but the actions of those football players?

The thing is, she may be a nice person, but she's also weak.  She believes her boyfriend, the high school quarterback, when he tells her he tried to stop the other players from ganging up on the kid-genius and the main character.  (The main character, the female lead, and the quarterback were bosom buddies before high school.)  She dates the quarterback for four years, then when it looks like he's interested in someone else, she starts to develop feelings for the main character.  (I'm sorry I don't remember anyone's name.  For some reason the name Lars keeps on popping into my head though.)  I mean, I don't mean this in a bad way, necessarily, but she's very pliable.

So I'm not sure who lifts her up exactly.  It just looks like Disney is still selling that same old story though.  The woman has to fit into a man's world.  She can be a princess in yet, but she has to play by male rules.  She has to bend like the willow reeds to accommodate the world around her.  (Cue music to Mulan).

Knocked up, Juno, and "No-Choice"

Recently, I have found myself in conversations with friends about Juno, and the recent line of movies with a similar theme. (For example Knocked Up, Waitress). Among friends, there has been some anecdotal discussion on the "conspiracy theory" that perhaps religious organizations are funding some of these movies. Or perhaps they are merely reflecting social values and the persistent unwillingness of media and community to create realistic pictures regarding abortion. As opposed to realiwood.

A New York times article cited that 2/3 of unwanted pregnancies end in abortion. The same N.Y. times’ article suggests that media, namely television and film, have sidestepped the issue in far of loss of advertising profits. The article also suggests, of course, those plot lines that end in termination of a pregnancy are generally the result of a miscarriage.

As far as storylines go, the prevailing message seems to be that "storylines end at abortion," that there is no story after abortion. So, I wonder what are the ramifications of this message to people? Perhaps it reinforces the rhetoric that women are not whole, meaningful, fulfilling their prescribed role, absent motherhood.

Also worth noting is another film entitled Children of Men. This film dealt with a futuristic society where women could NOT conceive. (note that it was women whose reproductive systems failed them and not men). This film also hazed on a critique of immigration. What is most notable about the story line is the downfall of the human race rests on reproduction, reinforcing many biblical themes. Of course, there is truth to that statement, but it is also the ensuing chaos, terrorist alerts, and immigration "camps" that appear to arise out of women's loss of reproductive capability.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Addicted to Porn

I don’t think there is a person among us who can honestly say we’ve never looked at internet porn. Sure, some (guys) may have scheduled porn breaks in between doing their con law and torts reading, but most of us (girls) are, at best, casual observers. Like maybe when we accidentally opened a bad email forward to us.

There’s even porn out now geared at women. And some women actually enjoy watching it. But just as we were starting to feel like we, too, could be part of the porn world, a new breed of porn has come along to say, no, us boys are still in charge.

Some call it “gonzo” porn, but I prefer to call it degradation porn. Don’t ask me how I know about it. I have four older brothers and a good number of male friends, so the topic is pretty much unavoidable. This recent article in the Toronto Star ( gives us a nice breakdown. It is, for the most part, porn that shows women being completely dominated, abused and forced into acts of violent sex. The acts are seemingly consensual, but in looking at these images one has to wonder.
It seems that porn viewers, mostly men, have gone the way of anyone with any sort of addiction. Naked women won’t do it for the addicted men anymore and neither will just plain old sex. Or even untraditional sex. No, now it has to be different, crazy, and pushing the limits.

Now with a few clicks one can watch women choking on their own vomit as they perform oral sex. Or being gagged and slapped and degraded verbally as they are, as the author of the Star piece put it, “Impaled by multiple swords.” Some women, I suppose, are into this. But I am going to go out on a limb and say the majority are not.

We all know that pornography is considered protected speech. But at what point does it begin to become socially irresponsible? At what point do we say “This is going to incite violence against women and it should not be allowed for public consumption?”Granted, on the internet it is hard to stop anyone form showing anything, but we have criminalized looking at pornographic images of children and we do prosecute it. So why should we not say that pornographic images that depict violence are illegal? That perversion may be just as dangerous as looking at children, and may be more widespread.

This is a complicated first amendment issue, but at some point it is going to need to be addressed. A few years ago we never saw women being beaten in mainstream porn, so who’s to say simulated snuff films aren’t next? We need to draw the line somewhere before our social norms start to change. The question, of course, is where?

I usually find those "hand that rocks the cradle" arguments unconvincing

and I never read the sports page . . . BUT this article about Eli Manning (who, for those of you like me did not know, is quarterback for the New York Giants, who will play in the SuperBowl this weekend) is among today's most emailed stories. I am passing it along because of the "mothering" angle. Could what is essentially a human interest story possibly be of interest to so many Times readers were it not about sports?

AP Photo

NPR on the Women's Vote

An interesting segment on Morning Edition this morning analyzed women voters in the context of the current Presidential race. My big takeaways were:
  • a woman's vote is better predicted by life stage than by age; the commentators noted, for example, that among a group of 42-year-old women, one might be a grandmother (did you know the average age of a first-time grandmother in this country is 46?), one might be the mother of a young child, and one might be a never-married childless woman
  • women supporting Obama are generally slightly better educated than women supporting Clinton
  • most women are undecided about who to support in the general election, and they will make their decisions much closer to election time
  • most significantly, women voters will decide who our next President is
If you're not registered to vote, it's too late for the California primary but NOT for the general election. Get registered and Make your views heard!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Consortium on Women and Research Presents Judy Norsigian, of Our Bodies Our Selves

Bodies, Politics, Revolution:
How the Women's Health Movement Changed and is
Changing Perception, Policies, and Medical Treatment

Judy Norsigian

Executive Director, Our Bodies, Our Selves
Co-founder of the Boston Women's Health Book Collective

Carole Joffe, Professor of Sociology, UC Davis, will moderate.

Judy Norsigian, renowned women's health activist and Executive Director of Our Bodies, Our Selves, will discuss the shifting challenges that the women's health movement has faced in combating the dissemination of "disinformation" about women's bodies and health.

University Club, Lounge
Thursday, January 31, 2008
4:10-5:30 p.m

Friday, January 25, 2008

Just when you thought it was safe to stop coloring your hair ...

At least I'd been thinking I might stop coloring mine because I find the confident look of grey-haired women so appealing. But then a story titled "Nice Résumé. Have You Considered Botox?" appeared as the "Skin Deep" feature in yesterday's New York Times. It's been among the most emailed stories in the last 36 hours. Journalist Natasha Singer writes here about a new book, "How Not to Look Old," which has been a hot seller on the "how-to" lists since it appeared last week. Charla Krupp, author of the book, queries on her website: "Why look like an old lady when you can look younger & hipper?" The book pitches the "looking young" mission as not only (or at least no longer) about vanity, but about job security. Ultimately, as Singer's story reveals, the message here is not just concern about ageism, it is concern about a wicked cocktail of ageism and sexism that leads to discrimination. Singer quotes Dr. Molly Andrews of the University of East London who has written "The Seductiveness of Agelessness." Andrews calls ageism "one of the last frontiers of discrimination where people think that a way around it is not to be seen to age." She observes that we don't urge a parallel response to sexism -- that is, we don't suggest that women behave in a more masculine fashion in order to avoid it.

Singer puts the book's success in temporal context:

The success of “How Not to Look Old” comes on the heels of disparaging comments about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton made by the radio provocateur Rush Limbaugh, who last month said: “Will Americans want to watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis? And that woman, by the way, is not going to want to look like she’s getting older, because it will impact poll numbers.”

Although Mr. Limbaugh’s comments drew widespread criticism, they underscored the idea that older women in the work force are vulnerable to age prejudice.

Singer goes on to report studies documenting discrimination against aging women, which has me wondering what economic necessity will be demanding of us next . . . .

Mommy tracks disguised as flex time?

Lisa Belkin's "Life's Work" column in the NYTimes' Thursday Fashion and Style page, "Who's Cuddly Now? Law Firms," chronicles the trend among law firms, large and small, to create flex time work options for lawyers. (It is the most emailed story this morning, a day after its publication.) Why are more firms finally taking this step? According to Belkin, it is because Gen Y'ers are essentially demanding it, and firms want to stay competitive to attract the best talent. It's just what we were discussing in class on Tuesday.

What's largely missing from this story is the gender component, which we also debated on Tuesday. The story features this anecdote, which like most of the article treats the flex time phenomenon as a work-family issue, NOT a gender issue.

A harbinger of changing times might well be the brief filed by the hard-driving white-shoe firm of Weil Gotshal & Manges of New York, asking a judge to reschedule hearings set for Dec. 18, 19, 20 and 27 of last year.

“Those dates are smack in the middle of our children’s winter breaks, which are sometimes the only times to be with our children,” the lawyers wrote.

The judge moved the hearings.

At other points, Belkin makes fleeting, almost incidental mention of gender. One of the many examples of new family-friendly policies is a law firm with longer paid parental leave times for women than for men, but the bigger point seems to be that male associates are also getting parental leave. Belkin goes on to document client demand for changes to billable structures and also the "generational component" as reasons law firms are finally budging.

Belkin's observation that women's demands alone were insufficient to bring about these changes is interesting, but I'm surprised that her mention of gender is merely in passing and that she does not mention the "mommy track." After all, Lisa Belkin is the journalist who famously brought us that NYT Magazine cover story in 2003: "The Opt-Out Generation." It depicted scores of highly educated, high-powered women opting of out their careers to stay home with their children. That story created some controversy among feminists, some of whom thought Belkin had been a bit too selective about those she featured in the story. Some thought she was too keen to prove her point and had overlooked evidence contrary to her thesis about women's choices.

Perhaps only time will tell whether this new generation of family-friendly policies will have highly gendered consequences -- that is, whether they will prove to be "mommy tracks" by another name. I am all for more options, but if many more women than men "choose" flex time (with its salary and promotion downsides), then women will continue to be economically marginalized (compared, that is, to others with similar education, within their socioeconomic stratum) and the ideal (aka male) worker will still reign in the legal profession.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

UC Davis Event Commemorating 35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

35 Years after Roe v. Wade:

The Impact of the Federal Abortion Ban in 2007

Thursday, January 31, 2008


UC Davis

Memorial Union, Garrison Room

-Food and refreshments provided-

Please join us for this engaging forum, film screening,

and panel discussion with key speakers

from the medical and legal fields.

Contact for more information.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ghazala Khan

In this blog post I have decided to write about one incident within the last couple of years regarding law and women’s lives in Denmark, that I personally find very interesting

September 5th 2005 18 year old Ghazala Khan ran away with her boyfriend of 3 years Emal. They were both living in Denmark, but Ghazala was originally from Pakistan and Emal from Afghanistan. They ran away because Ghazala’s family could not accept Emal as Ghazala’s husband. On September 21st 2005 they were married.

Two days later they were shot in front of the railway station in the city of Slagelse. Emal survived but Ghazala died immediately. It was Ghazala’s 30 year old brother who had shot them.

On May 15th 2006 the case against the persons involved in Ghazala’s murder began. Nine people were on trial. There was no doubt that Ghazala’s brother would be convicted of her murder. After all he was the one that pulled the trigger, which surveillance pictures from the railway station also showed.

The cases against the rest of the accused, which included Ghazalas father, other brother and aunt (married to Ghazala’s mother’s brother) were more controversial, because it was of course harder to prove that they had been involved and no one had ever been convicted of an honour killing before without doing the actual killing.

All nine were convicted of the murder of Ghazala Khan and they received very harsh sentences from a Danish standard. In Denmark you can be sentenced from 5 to 16 years in prison or prison for life when found guilty of murder. The life sentence is usually only used if the person is convicted of more than one murder. Ghazala’s brother, who had shot her, was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Her father was sentenced to life in prison. Her aunt, who allegedly lured her to Slagelse and told the rest of the family where she was, was sentenced to 14 years in prison and expulsion (she was not a Danish citizen).

The rest of the accused, who were all related to Ghazala or friends of her family, were all sentenced to prison between 8 to 16 years. Their roles in the murder was everything from planning the murder to just being aware of plans of the murder and driving the aunt and the brother to and from the place of the murder (most of them were taxi drivers).

From American standards of conviction of murder these sentences might not seem that harsh, but from a Danish standard they certainly are. 4 of the 9 were sentenced to 16 years or more (life), which is a length of prison sentence that is usually only used in cases of very brutal and ruthless murders.

But in my opinion (and the court's) this certainly is a very brutal and ruthless murder, not in its execution but in its reasoning. She was killed only because she wanted to decide for herself who she wanted to marry, only so that her family’s honour could be saved. Of course there can never be a good reason for murder, but the family’s reason for killing Ghazala is so totally unacceptable in the modern western society where everybody’s right to choose for themselves are highly regarded, also for women. And the harsh sentences send that message, and were meant to send that message I believe.

As interesting as the case might be from a strictly criminal lawyer point of view (and criminal law is one of my biggest interests), I find the case more interesting from a broader social point of view, because not only does the case tell us what is possible in terms of convicting accomplices that has not actually participated in the act of killing. It also tells us that that kind of treatment of women and that that norm regarding the self-determination of women are totally unacceptable in Denmark, and those who follows that norm will suffer serious consequences.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Just be glad Bill's temper has been flaring, not Hillary's

After all the discussion of Hillary's show of emotion in New Hampshire earlier this month, it was interesting to see the NYTimes story yesterday about Bill Clinton's recent emotional expression. Whereas Hillary did the "girl" thing when she teared up in New Hampshire, Bill has been showing flashes of anger as he defends his wife and her record. Being reminded of Bill's infamous temper made me glad that he's the one with anger management issues, not Hillary. After all, hard as the media and many voters have been on Hillary for her teary moment, few things would turn off the electorate faster than a public flash of anger from her. I have no doubt that our society responds to teary women (even those aspiring to be President) in a fashion far more forgiving than it would respond to an angry woman.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A very powerful and provocative offering from Bob Herbert: Politics and Misogyny

I have long been a fan of Bob Herbert, but who knew he was a radical feminist? See his column in today's New York Times. I am pleased to see this appearing in a mainstream forum-- and among the most emailed stories of the day.

Herbert writes provocatively that misogyny is our true national pastime. Here is an equally provocative excerpt:
We’ve become so used to the disrespectful, degrading, contemptuous and even violent treatment of women that we hardly notice it. Staggering amounts of violence are unleashed against women and girls every day. Fashionable ads in mainstream publications play off of that violence, exploiting themes of death and dismemberment, female submissiveness and child pornography.

Watch out: Women Write about Hillary

Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Reflections by Women Writers, a new book edited by Susan Morrison is reviewed in today's NYTimes. Here's an excerpt from the review, which isn't very positive:

Few of these contributors address Mrs. Clinton’s record as a senator (why did she vote last year to urge the Bush administration to label Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization?), practical electoral matters (just how electable is she?) or questions about her managerial style (how would the controlling, poll-driven instincts of her campaign team inform her approach to running the White House?). Instead, like voters and commentators obsessed with the “likability” factor, these writers zero in on vague feelings about Hillary’s karma, her self-presentation or her femininity.

Here's the part of the story that intrigued me most. The author writes: "Whereas polls suggest that Mrs. Clinton has done well with working-class women who see her protecting their economic interests, her peers -- liberal-minded, upper-middle-class professional women-- have been a much tougher sell." Maybe that explains my allegiance to Hillary. I became a Hillary fan as a teenager growing up in a working class family in Arkansas. Hillary was engaged in education reform as the First Lady of Arkansas, and she was my first professional role model -- from a distance, of course. Now I'm one of those "upper-middle-class professional women," but unlike (apparently) many others in my set, I still think Hillary is amazing. Maybe my sentiments go back to those early years (when, incidentally, I declared publicly, at the age of 14, that I planned to be the first female President.) Maybe it's like other things we get attached to in our childhood and youth, which then don't wear off easily. My instincts are still to believe in Hillary - in the authenticity of Hillary, the power of Hillary, the idea of Hillary.

Monday, January 14, 2008

It's surely no surprise that women -- especially those of color -- are disproportionately affected by the subprime debacle

Read this from the NYTimes. Here's an excerpt with some sobering statistics:

"Though women and men have roughly the same credit scores, the Consumer Federation of America found that women were 32 percent more likely to receive subprime loans than men. The disparity existed within every income and ethnic group. Blacks and Latinos are also more likely to get subprime loans than comparable white borrowers.

Ever thought about running for public office?

I know some of you have -- both during law school and afterwards. The UCD Women's Resources and Research Center is sponsoring a day-long program on the topic on February 8. It's called "Women in the Running." Featured speakers include Rosario Marin, the 41st Treasurer of the United States and the highest ranking Latina in the President's administration and Liz Figueroa, former State Senator and Assemblywoman, now on the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"Juno" as a "fairy tale."

I haven't yet seen the movie, "Juno," though it's been well reviewed and on several of the lists of top films for 2007. Something about a film that takes a "comedic and jolly" approach to teenage pregnancy makes me a bit uncomfortable, I guess, but this op-ed piece in today's New York Times takes up some of the film's more serious moments. As contributor Caitlin Flanagan writes, the scene when young Juno tells her father of her "condition" is one of them. He responds with a disappointing shake of the head and says, “I thought you were the kind of girl who knew when to say when.” Flanagan then reminds us of that enduring consequence of biology: women (including pubescent ones) bear the consequences of sex in a way that men never do.

In spite of its serious themes, Flanagan calls Juno a "fairy tale" because of the ease with which she parts with the baby she gives birth to. Flanagan writes that "Juno finds a yuppie couple eager for a baby, and when the woman tries to entice her with the promise of an open adoption, the girl shakes her head adamantly: 'Can’t we just kick it old school? I could just put the baby in a basket and send it your way. You know, like Moses in the reeds.'” Juno's sentiment "turns out to be genuine," as she and her boyfriend "resume their carefree adolescence, the baby -- safely in the hands of his rapturous and responsible new mother -- all but forgotten." Flanagan opines that seeing "a young daughter, faced with the terrible fact of a pregnancy, unscathed by it and completely her old self again was magical."

Flanagan continues: "As any woman who has ever chosen (or been forced) to kick it old school can tell you, surrendering a baby whom you will never know comes with a steep and lifelong cost. Nor is an abortion psychologically or physically simple. It is an invasive and frightening procedure, and for some adolescent girls it constitutes part of their first gynecological exam. I know grown women who’ve wept bitterly after abortions, no matter how sound their decisions were. How much harder are these procedures for girls, whose moral and emotional universe is just taking shape?"

I am not sure to what extent I agree with Flanagan about the "steep and lifelong cost" of giving up a child or having an abortion. Surely circumstances matter. Would a victim of rape necessarily feel a "steep and lifelong cost" at giving up a baby for adoption? Would a woman living in poverty experience that cost at having an abortion? If so, wouldn't the circumstances that prevented her keeping the baby be part of the angst? So, I find myself wanting to clarify the "why" part of the angst Flanagan describes, which brings me to Justice Kennedy's opinion in the April 2007 decision in Gonzales v. Carhart. There, Kennedy focused on the "maternal bond," giving credibility to recent anti-abortion strategy of highlighting the regret experienced by women who have abortions. This argument, now endorsed by some members of the Supreme Court, relies upon this regret as a harm that justifies abortion regulations such as informed consent and waiting period requirements.

But what is the source of the regret that women who have abortions may feel, or that women outside the "Juno" fairly tale may feel about giving up a baby for adoption? Is it biological, as Kennedy and others suggest? or do the regret and angst stem from socially and culturally created expectations about how all would-be mothers should feel in these circumstances? Further, given the power, the reality of social expectations about motherhood (or perhaps more precisely, who should feel like a mother), does their source matter? It seems futile to question the legitimacy of these expectations of "motherhood" (including when it begins) when they are virtually unassailable in our culture. For, whatever their origin, it is these collective, social expectations about motherhood that make "Juno" a fairy tale.

Friday, January 11, 2008

It won't be the last word on Hillary's tearful moment, but Judith Warner offers an important observation

So now Judith Warner, whose blog is "Domestic Disturbances," has weighed in in Hillary's victory in New Hampshire and the possible reasons for it. She notes in her contribution, "Emotion without Thought in New Hampshire," that it is logical for emotional connections to candidates to play a role in voter decision making when there are so few bases for distinguishing among the candidates in relation to substantive positions on issues. It is the conclusion of her post, though, that represents perhaps her most significant contribution to the week-long conversation regarding Hillary's show of emotion on Monday.
[I]f victory came for the reasons we’ve been led to believe – because women voters ultimately saw in her, exhausted and near defeat, a countenance that mirrored their own – then I hate what that victory says about the state of their lives and the nature of the emotions they carry forward into this race. I hate the thought that women feel beaten down, backed into a corner, overwhelmed and near to breaking point, as Hillary appeared to be in the debate Saturday night. And I hate even more that they’ve got to see a strong, smart and savvy woman cut down to size before they can embrace her as one of their own.
Per my post of January 9, I fear that Warner has hit on something that is crushingly true. She sees that female voters identified with Hillary in her "moment" because the vast, vast majority of us are, in some sense, beaten down and backed into a corner, particularly when it comes to our public, working lives.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Yesterday, it was Steinem's Defense of Hillary; Today, It's Dowd's Pillory of Hillary

Maureen Dowd's column entitled "Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back to the Whitehouse?" today replaced Gloria Steinem's op-ed piece, "Women are Never Front Runners" as the most emailed story in the New York Times. The topic, of course, is still Hillary's "meltdown," her "moment," as some are calling it. In one of the more scathing passages of her column, Dowd writes: "But there was a whiff of Nixonian self-pity about her choking up. What was moving her so deeply was her recognition that the country was failing to grasp how much it needs her. In a weirdly narcissistic way, she was crying for us. But it was grimly typical of her that what finally made her break down was the prospect of losing."

I, of course, cannot say definitively that Hillary did not plan the "moment," as Dowd and others have alleged. I do know, however, that I've experienced tearful moments in public places and in the presence of bosses, under pressure and exhausted. What pleases me out of all of this is that many female voters apparently rallied around Hillary. Maybe they did so because of her "moment," because they empathized. Maybe they did so because of derisive and caustic comments from the likes of Rush Limbaugh (and now Maureen Dowd) in the wake of her show of emotion. Maybe those women, like me, know just how natural these emotions, these "moments," are. Perhaps their emotional displays have been used to undermine them, too.

Some feminists are wary of such solidarity among women-- at least as it might be seen as the reason to vote for her. Even Hillary's campaign seems wary of the downsides, given recent statements focusing on her debate performance as the reason for her N.H. victory. Of course, solidarity among women is not a bad thing per se, but these feminists want to send a clear message that women vote on the issues. They thus steer clear of any suggestion that women would vote for Hillary based on her gender, based on empathy for her "bad day" and the attacks it engendered (pun intended). I agree that women are informed and care about the issues, but if emotion didn't matter in Presidential politics, why would there be so much talk about Obama's charisma? Sure, emotion has always been a double-edged sword for women, but I don't feel the need to "clean up" women voters by disassociating them with the type of emotions that led them rally around one of their own -- especially when that one is so spectacularly qualified to be President of the United States.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I have nothing to say that hasn't already been said about Hillary's near tearful moment

So, it seems Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic primary in New Hampshire, which is being touted as a big comeback. Even if she had not won, would we all still be talking about her "welling up" yesterday, when asked by a voter how she did it, suggesting a question about how she held up under the strain of campaigning. Hillary's response has been characterized as emotional not only because of the tears that came to her eyes, but also because of what she said, invoking her personal commitment and desire to make the country better.

Among the commentators on the topic are Gloria Steinem, whose op-ed piece in the New York Times was the top emailed story much of today. Katha Pollitt of The Nation weighed in, as have many voters on blogs.

In the aftermath of New Hampshire, we are seeing news coverage that indicates women voters rallied around Hillary, perhaps in particular in the aftermath of her Iowa loss, perhaps also because she teared up on Monday in New Hampshire. I heard speculation in the run up to the Iowa caucuses that Hillary, because of her vast experience, transcends gender -- that gender is no longer an issue in this campaign. Think again.