E. Graff

E.J. Graff, the author of What Is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution, is a visiting researcher at Brandeis University's Women's Studies Research Center and a contributing editor at the Prospect.

Recent Articles

Being Black and White

Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was
By Gregory Howard Williams. Plume (1996), 285 pages, $13.95 paperback

The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother By James
McBride. Riverhead Books (1996), 297 pages, $12.95 paperback

Black, White, and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self By Rebecca Walker.
Riverhead Books (2001), 323 pages, $23.95 hardcover

Divided to the Vein: A Journey into Race and Family By Scott Minerbrook.
Harcourt Brace and Company (1996), 261 pages, $24.00 hardcover

Strangers in Our Midst

Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America By
Stephen G. Bloom. Harcourt, 338 pages, $25.00

The Stranger Next Door: The Story of a Small Community's Battle over Sex,
Faith, and Civil Rights
By Arlene Stein. Beacon Press, 267 pages, $27.50


We were standing in our neighbors' house--I must have
been five or six--next to a diaper-changing table, where the moms were cooing over
a new baby. Suddenly I was dizzyingly puzzled by how adults knew whether that
blurry lump of flesh was a girl or a boy. My mother was quite impatient with the
question, saying that I already knew. "I don't remember," I insisted. "Yes, you
do. Think about the difference between you and your brother." What could she
mean? "In the bathtub," she coaxed. Still no insight. Finally, as if this were as
plain as the alphabet, she said, "Boys have penises and girls have vaginas." Oh!
That! That was a relief: The distinction was both simple and unimportant.