Tara Zahra

Tara Zahra completed an American Prospect writing fellowship in 1999 and is now a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows.

Recent Articles

The Antifeminist Seduction

American women are lonely and unfulfilled. They are able to cope with their dreary lives amidst seas of expensive carpeting and well-dusted furniture only by popping pills. Society has limited their choices and robbed them of their true power, leaving them resentful of the lives of quiet desperation left to them by their mothers. Sounds like the feminist portrait of the 1950s housewife, right? Actually, the well-dusted prisons are not postwar suburban ranch homes but corporate office suites. "Mother's Little Helper" is no longer Valium—it's Prozac. Social pressure no longer confines the miserable female to the domestic realm; it now compels her into the professional realm. And the force behind that social pressure is not the patriarchy—it's feminism. If the classic nightmare vision of the repressed housewife was always somewhat of a feminist caricature, it nevertheless served its purpose, ultimately expanding the acceptable range of choices available to women and changing—for the...

The Feminism Gap

"F eminists Don't Know What to Think," declared U.S. News & World Report in late September. Pointed editorials in the Atlanta Constitution and the New York Daily News condemned "Feminism's Double Standard" and "Silent Feminists' Shame." Maureen Dowd even proclaimed in her New York Times column that feminists had committed "mass suicide" by failing to condemn Bill Clinton. Time magazine wondered—on its cover—in June: "Is Feminism Dead?" Well, isn't it? In the cultural realm, Ally McBeal , the highest-rated show on television with a female lead, features a thirtysomething Ivy League lawyer in microskirts, whose every courtroom argument alludes somehow to her need to find a boyfriend. Bridget Jones's Diary , a runaway best-seller in both England and America, details the life of a thirtysomething editorial assistant obsessed with counting her calories and finding Mr. Right. And The Rules , which sat atop the best-seller list for much of the mid- to late 1990s, advises women how to...

Art: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Account Executive

Mark is a starving artist. He abandoned the world of material comfort, a well-stocked refrigerator, and dance lessons at the Scarsdale Jewish Community Center to live in a rat-infested East Village loft with his starving artist friends. Using his video camera, he documents an aggressive protest against a real estate developer's plan to turn Mark's loft, along with the vacant lot next to it that is inhabited by a group of homeless people, into a high-tech cyber-arts studio. When in an unexpected twist his videos turn out to have commercial appeal, Mark faces an angst-ridden choice: Should he sell his work to a nasal-sounding executive with a cell phone and a beeper, leaving behind his self-imposed outsider status as an artist but gaining financial security and mainstream popular appeal? Or should he renounce commercial valuation of his work, forfeiting his chance for mainstream status and economic power but preserving his artistic integrity? The conflict crescendos with a triumphant...