I went into the coffee shop this morning to find my usual morning crew–all male, mind you–hashing out the Weinstein revelations. One was calling Meryl Streep “a bitch” for not publicly denouncing Weinstein before (“she had to know!”); another was saying, “hey, men are disgusting; what do you expect?” I thought about where to position myself in the conversation since we normally debate everything. Should I expend precious energy by pointing out the painful hypocrisy of calling a woman a gendered, hateful insult for possibly doing what many, many men in Hollywood might have done as well–namely, not investigate rumors/allegations? Should I point out that the “boys will be boys” argument has been used to rationalize everything from mansplaining to stalking to rape? I grabbed my Americano, said, “Y’all are pathetic” and walked out, feeling nary an inch of remorse. I pray for a time when male entitlement–and this includes shooting your mouth off in public without assessing your audience’s receptivity–is in the rearview mirror.
I grew up in the suburbs of Boston, raised by two parents who kept their eyes on the city as they shuffled their kids to soccer practice and suffered through PTA banality. Both my mother and father came from working-class Northern Massachusetts mill towns, and found in 1960s and ’70s Boston a glorious burst of music and color and matter-of-fact magic. They moved to Newton, 15 miles west, so my sister and I could benefit from the town’s excellent public school education. And an excellent education we did have, though I, the eldest, kept my eye cocked on the city as well. I loved sun trailing through freshly cut grass, smoke entwining with drying leaves, ponds beckoning not far from our house. But I felt my parent’s ambivalence as by osmosis.
I craved action.
My high school paper won a national award my junior year, and when the staff went to Columbia University to collect it, I broke off from the other editors and took the 1/9 train down to the Village. It was the late ’80s and the city had not yet been hemmed in by Guiliani and superstores. Second-wave punk, hip hop, and gay liberation reigned supreme, as did one-dollar coffees and broken park benches flanked by buildings as trees. I borrowed a Walkman from a friend, and walked through that heat, heart, hopeless hope with Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love rising in my ears. Back home I was already fucking a cruel and beautiful man, and when he’d hit me and I hadn’t left him, I’d stopped believing I could fit anywhere good. But as I walked through New York that day, I saw there could be another way. Continue Reading →
If there’s one silver lining of this disastrous year in U.S. politics, it’s that female leaders have really stepped to the forefront – from former Attorney General Sally Yates, who refused to endorse the proposed travel ban on people from majority-Muslim countries, to Senator Kamala Harris, the only sane voice in the Session hearings, to U.S. representative Maxine Waters, one of Trump’s most vocal critics. So one of my new hobbies is reading books by and about female politicians who have beaten all kinds of odds. Here’s a breakdown of some of my favorites, including Hillary’s new (searing) memoir.
What Happened—Hillary Rodham Clinton
She may not have (officially) won the 2016 election, but the future is still female to Hillary. In this much-anticipated, admirably candid memoir, she explores why the first female U.S. presidential nominee of a major political party was defeated by a man whom even the GOP admits has a “woman problem.” From the anti-lady sentiment still holding sway – “I wish so badly we were a country where a candidate who said, ‘My story is the story of a life shaped by and devoted to the movement for women’s liberation’ would be cheered, not jeered. But that’s not who we are” – to her lambasting of press coverage – “[Trump’s actions] sucked up all the oxygen in the media” and Trump’s “dark energy” – Hillary never holds back, even when acknowledging her own blunders. (Yep, she regrets the “deplorables” comment as much as we do.) Brave, commanding, and ruefully honest, it’s hard to read this memoir of loss and not wish she’d won. Continue Reading →