Girl stuff: being confident and fighting gender violence Wonder Woman-style

1) Ever wondered why you and your girlfriends pause, mid-point, to second-guess yourselves, constantly berate yourselves for not being further along in careers/relationships/every facet of life, and when you are successful, suffer from imposter syndrome (i.e.”not sure how I got here or that I deserve to be here?”) The Confidence Gap sheds some light.

On the plus side, I do think women’s social and institutional position fosters a nuanced way of being, which often leads to a greater examination and questioning of privilege. In other words, women are less likely to be tone-deaf buffoons.

2) Here’s another Atlantic article that examines the pressures and constructs of being a single lady, a decade or so beyond the average (in the US, most women marry by 27). It’s really long, so if you’re more interested in alternative, non-couple living arrangements, skip to the end. One take-away: what we think of as “traditional” marriage (woman tends house, man goes to the office) is actually super-recent, only coming about in America in the prosperity that followed World War II. Before that, women worked alongside men in the fields or did the book-keeping for the family business. And in Europe, it wasn’t until the 1700’s that there was a true division between “women’s labor” and “men’s labor.” For centuries, people used whatever skills they had and formed partnerships based on how well those skills meshed rather than how well personalities meshed.

But for the record, I disagree with the assessment of “hook-up” culture presented here. I think ’60’s lib gave many women the opportunity to own their sexuality, and we benefit today. If a woman feels pressure to hook-up, that’s not a comment on the female libido or any sort of woman’s lib fall-out. That’s the residue of gender-oppressive social and economic institutions that have been in place since this country was founded.

Also, this piece is a bit too rosy in the women-surpassing-men department. American women may collect more degrees and be in more management positions than men at the moment, but it will take decades – even centuries – to create new social and economic institutions that benefit women and men equally. It’s the same principle with minority oppression. Even when “minorities” become the majority here (which is likely only a handful of years away), it will take much longer for the power systems in place to be disrupted. After all, slavery ended in 1865, and we still suffer the consequences.


And even if America manages to recognize women as humans rather than objects, there are larger, geo-political institutions (i.e. the perspective of other cultures) to grapple with.

Burden of Proof Logo 23) My friend Megan founded Burden of Proof Movement, which seeks to aggregate women’s experience of gender-based violence (GBV) from around the world, to call attention to the problem and more than that, to the normalization or unwillingness to even see it as a problem. Continue reading

Mardi Gras Nostalgia

This time of year, I long for New Orleans.

I remember the first Mardi Gras after Katrina, how pervasive the sense of the community was. New Orleans seemed small-town. I stayed with college friends, a Tulane law student and a choir teacher, both of whom were just back from several months in Oxford, Mississippi. They’d rented the second story of a walk-up row-house off The Quarter. When I first arrived, Sage drove me around, past the houses with spray-painted X’s and mysterious numbers, a code that recorded who searched when and who survived. We stopped in her old neighborhood, and she asked me to take a picture of her standing in the front yard of a house she would never occupy again.

At night, she knew everyone in the Marigny restaurants. People greeted each other like long-lost family. For many, it was their first weekend back. We played pool at a corner pub, a real neighborhood place. (Wasn’t every place, then?) We had a party that night and the next morning, breakfasted on vodka like the college kids we’d been not long before. We donned tutus and glitter, took in a parade and then paraded ourselves from friend’s house to friend’s house, in love with everyone just because they were lovely, but primarily because they had chosen to come back.

Somewhere, I have pictures of Mardi Gras 2006. But until I can dig them off of some old hard-drive, here are some vintage pics from the world-wide-web.

Spanish Revellers




Mardi Gras, New Orleans 1975


Eighth Wonder: Taylor Swift’s Bellybutton

“I don’t like showing my belly button…I don’t want people to know if I have one or not. I want that to be a mystery. As far as anyone knows based on my public appearances, they haven’t seen evidence of a belly button. It could be pierced. They have no idea. If I’m going to get some sort of massive tattoo, it’s going to be right next to my belly button because no one’s ever going to see that.”

Give it up, Tay-Tay. Everyone’s seen your belly-button.

(“Hater’s gonna hate.”

“Well, shake it off, honey. Just shake it off.”)

*Does anyone else catch a whiff of slut-shaming in Taylor’s boldly-proclaimed belly-button stance?


New York pics and a cat cafe

Didn’t take many pictures in New York. Mostly it was too cold to deal. But here’s a few, just for giggles.



Williamsburg waterfront

Williamsburg waterfront

Financial district

Financial district

Also, another New York thing – Meow Parlor on the Lower East Side comes from an idea popular in Japan, where landlords don’t like pets. Basically, you make reservations, pay a small fee, and hang with the kitties. Thanks to almostfreeNYC for putting this on my radar!

New York, New York

Times two.

6) Activist theater at Nuyorican Poets Cafe. They were so young, earnest and prone to over-simplification. It reminded me of everything I was and everyone I knew in Boston, in the wee years of the new millennium. I loved these girls.

Press photo

Press photo

7) Klitz progeny in Bushwick: as the blonde, curly bartender turned to grab my wine, I noticed his Big Star jacket. “I’m from Mississippi,” I told him. “Practically grew up in Memphis.” “My mom was friends with those guys,” he said. “Maybe you’ve heard of her. Lesa Aldridge?”


Alex Chilton & Lesa Aldridge from Eggleston’s film, Stranded in Canton

8) Thomas Hart Benton & El Grecco at the Met, and Kara Walker at Sikkema Jenkins Gallery. And the murals around the Domino Sugar Factory, in the formerly Hispanic neighborhood of Williamsburg, where Walker’s Sugar Sphinx show originated.



Swampy there in the middle, y’all!


9) The Dream House is warm, welcoming and bizarre.

10) Dinners with friends – in cheap noodle houses, in a West Village ceiling-to-floor book-lined apartment, in a cheesy Chinatown dim-sum department store.

Other off-the-radar things worth mentioning: I didn’t make it to the Russian Turkish Baths this time, but if you happen to be in the city in winter, it’s fun to do. That “oak leaves beating” is for real, y’all – when I was a teenage exchange student in Kyrgyzstan, every banya had a bucket of steeping branches.

The Brooklyn Art Library/Sketchbook Project is fantastic. Anyone with $25 can purchased the standard sketchbook, fill it up, mail it in and have it become part of the library. If you’re in Williamsburg, it’s a worthwhile place to spend a few hours browsing. You miss a lot, since much of this project is about textures and the book as “object,” but you can also browse online.

How have I missed the Pearl River Department Store before now? It has lovely, cheap teapots and traditionally styled Chinese clothes. Similarly, Century 21 department stores (I got a great deal on fancy gloves from the Financial District shop) have bargains on Western designer clothing.