Sunday, June 29, 2008

A sign of progress? husbands working for their wives

The New York Times presents it as almost a trend. Read the story here, which features among other companies, Zuca luggage and Learning Express.

Is the "American Girl" brand good for our girls (future women!) or not?

Here's what A.O. Scott had to say on the occasion of the opening of "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl." Here's an excerpt from his review of the film:

You grow up being told that you can do anything — run for president, win a Nascar race, fly into space or become a four-star general — but in the meantime everything you do is subject to intense and often contradictory scrutiny from the grown-up world. You are exposed to a barrage of mixed signals from parents, friends, teachers, television advertisements, even the stuff you play with, and your response to those signals becomes grist for expert hand wringing and opinion mongering.

What is a girl to do? Any advice from you fem legal theory alums?

Friday, June 27, 2008

What are women rainmakers in Phoenix to do?

This story from Saturday's New York Times tells of long-time discrimination against women at the Phoenix Country Club, and how those fighting back have been the targets of harassment. Here's an excerpt from Jennifer Steinhauer's story:

When the men of the Phoenix Country Club saw their feeding ways in peril, they did not tarry. Some sent nasty e-mail messages, hectored players on the fairway and, for good measure, urinated on a fellow club member’s pecan tree.

The targets of their ire were the women, and some men, who have dared to speak up against the club’s policy of forbidding women in the men’s grill room, a center of power dining in Phoenix.

Barbara Van Sittert, one of those women, said her husband, Logan, 73, has been heckled while playing golf and once found his locker defaced.

“They hooted and hollered at him and called his wife a whore,” said Mrs. Van Sittert, 72, a petite, quiet woman with an elegant white bob. “It was not warm and fuzzy.”

Charges of sexism against private golf clubs are not uncommon; the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, where the Masters is held each year, does not permit women to be members.

But here in Arizona, where the governor, secretary of state, chief justice and Senate minority leader are women, it has rankled more than a few women that nonmember men have more rights than paying female members at the Phoenix Country Club, a century-old fixture in the city’s social and business life where it costs tens of thousands of dollars a year to belong.

Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, is not a member of the club, but Dennis Burke, her chief of staff, is. Mr. Burke has publicly opposed the separated dining rooms, and in an interview called them “indefensible.” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, does not belong to the club but has spoken there. (The McCain presidential campaign declined to comment on the separate dining rooms.) According to a 2007 club directory, Mr. McCain’s son, Andrew, is a member, along with scores of other notable Phoenix residents, including the rocker Alice Cooper.

Women at the club are not permitted to have lunch in the men’s grill room with their husbands after a round of golf; they have been barred from trophy ceremonies after tournaments, even ones they have sponsored, and may not participate in one of the most sacred rituals of the men’s grill room — sealing a deal over a beer with a client.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Albanian Virgins as "Family Men"

I'm relieved to be told in this report that the custom of women swearing to be virgins and then living as family men in northern Albania is fading. Here's the story from today's NYT. The custom was apparently associated with families that had no sons and needed one to care for the family in a society which severely circumscribed women's roles. Here's an excerpt that quotes Pashe Keqi, 78, who took the oath at age 18 and says she would not do it again:

“Back then, it was better to be a man because before a woman and an animal were considered the same thing,” said Ms. Keqi, who has a bellowing baritone voice, sits with her legs open wide like a man and relishes downing shots of raki. “Now, Albanian women have equal rights with men, and are even more powerful. I think today it would be fun to be a woman.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More on Michelle

See the story here. And this one, too. (Photo Jessica Kourkounis for the New York Times)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Obama as the first woman President?

Read here what Susan Faludi, of Backlash fame, is thinking.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Watch this space . . .and find out if equality in marriage and child rearing is possible

Lisa Belkin, she of of the women opting-out NYT Magazine cover article that attracted so much attention a few years ago, will again have a cover story in the NYT Magazine this week-end. It's been the top emailed story almost since it was posted online yesterday and it is titled "When Mom and Dad Share it All-- Adventures in Equal Parenting." It's worth a read for the sheer ambition of what these partners are attempting. And there is the opportunity to comment on a blog link, so let's hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Could Maureen Dowd, by implication, be defending Hillary?

A top emailed column in the Times yesterday and today is Maureen Dowd's "Mincing Up Michelle." After her standard put downs of the Clintons, Dowd writes beginning in paragraph 3:

It’s good news for Obama that Hillary’s out of the race. But it’s also bad news. Now Republicans can turn their full attention to demonizing Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama is the new, unwilling contestant in Round Two of the sulfurous national game of “Kill the witch.”

Poor Michelle!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

so much interesting stuff about gender, so little time to write

Several headlines caught my attention today. They are about a hodge-podge of issues that matter to all of us in one way or another

One of the top emailed stories today in the New York Times is titled "Gay Unions Shed Light on Gender in Marriage." Read it here.

Another on the top ten list is on a quite different topic. It is "Operation Lets Muslim Women Reclaim Virginity."

And there are my thoughts on Hillary's speech on Saturday. I guess I'll be content for now with sharing just my favorite line: “To those who are disappointed that we couldn’t go all of the way, especially the young people who put so much into this campaign, it would break my heart if, in falling short of my goal, I in any way discouraged any of you from pursuing yours.” The 18 -million-cracks-in-the-glass-ceiling line was pretty good, too.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Couple of Columns Worth Reading about the Hillary Thing

Here is Gail Collins from today's NYT. Her main point: Hillary's campaign did achieve something for women. She summarizes:

By the end of those 54 primaries and caucuses, Hillary had made a woman running for president seem normal.

* * *

For all her vaunting ambition, she was never a candidate who ran for president just because it’s the presidency. She thought about winning in terms of the things she could accomplish, and she never forgot the women’s issues she had championed all her life — repair of the social safety net, children’s rights, support for working mothers.

And here is the Domestic Disturbances blog by Judith Warner (now back from book leave! Yippeee!!), doing a "compare and contrast" on "Sex and the City" the movie and Hillary's loss to Obama or, more precisely, Hillary's treatment during this campaign. It is provocatively titled, "Woman in Charge, Women Who Charge," and it was the most emailed story in the NYT for most of yesterday. Collins' piece has enjoyed that honor much of today. I guess that means that someone cares about these issues. I suspect a lot of women are reading these, sharing them, looking for solace. I hope (and expect) that men are reading them, too.

Friday, June 6, 2008

"Feisty" Candidates

While reading the Salisbury post, I came across this quote regarding the campaigns of Dole (R)and Hagan (D): "Laurels to what should turn out to be a feisty race this year between U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole and Democratic challenger Kay Hagan." [my emphasis]. Their campaigns have mainly focused on the war and illegal immigration.

Dole was N.C.'s first female senator in 2002. I just wonder whether the Obama and McCain campaign will be a "feisty one?"

Pantyhose and Flip Flops at Law Firms . . .

Another story form today's ABA Journal online caught my eye as particularly related to women. It's entitled "The Dress Code Debate: Pantyhose and Flip-Flops." It discusses briefly different firms' strategies for communicating information about their dress codes to employees, noting that it can be awkward to do this on a one-on-one basis. One suggestion is to send a phone message to all employees. According to the story, the "script advises employees to avoid revealing, scruffy or tight-fitting clothing or attire that would be worn to the gym or beach." Reading that part led me to the realization that this is not only about female attire, but increasingly about the attire of male employees, too.

But then there is the pantyhose part, which I think it's fair to say is about women. The story indicates that the Wall Street Journal has taken up the "great debate over whether women need to wear pantyhose to work. The newspaper writes that bare legs are common even on conservative Wall Street and at business events." It goes on to quote Jim Holt, president of Mid-American Credit Union, who changed his company's "hose-are-required policy just last week," explaining "I didn't want to be so old-fashioned that people would be like, 'Do you require corsets, too?'"

It reminded me of one of my early law firm experiences, at a large Kansas City firm in 1988, where I was a summer associate. I recall being aware that a very athletic, tanned female summer associate from Harvard had been told that she should wear pantyhose because, obviously, she had not been doing so. My sense was that the rest of the women at the firm were already wearing pantyhose -- including me -- even in the hot and humid Kansas City summer. Until I was aware of this woman, it had never occurred to me that one might NOT wear pantyhose; it was just part of a woman's uniform. So I appreciated what I saw as this woman's little rebellion, although my recollection is that she did begin wearing pantyhose once the issue was brought to her attention. The rebellion, if that is what it was, ended quietly.

Later, when I worked on the East coast, I was aware of lots of women not wearing panty hose and, for that matter, not wearing make up. How liberating! Ditto when I practiced in The Hague and London. How silly pantyhose came to be in those settings, where European women never thought of wearing them -- unless as tights to provide warmth in the cooler months. I wonder what advice UC Davis career services gives on this point?

"Ever Argue with a Woman?"

That's the headline in a law firm ad that is attracting a lot of attention, including this story in the ABA Journal online. The ad plays up the Buffalo, New York firm's women lawyers and paralegals, including photos of eight of them.

But is this a good thing or a bad thing for women? It buys into gendered stereotypes, for sure. But is it redeemed by doing so in a way that promotes feminine qualities and associates them with good lawyering?