E.J. Graff

Are We Equal Yet?

Ladies, we’ve had fun this year, haven’t we? Komen defunding Planned Parenthood sure made PP’s contributions zoom up, and Komen’s zoom down. The Republicans' jaw-dropping attack on contraception has given Obama an absurd lead among women. Katie Roiphe—yes, she who believes that date rape is nothing more than rough sex—has bravely decided that we’re so tired of being in charge, of our success, working gals all wanna be whipped. ( Sigh . Somebody tell dominatrixes, who are making a mint off the high-powered men who really are in charge and do long to be whipped, or so I’ve been told by insider sources). It’s The End of Men! Women are The Richer Sex ! Yeah, right. Sorry to be Eeyore yet again, but as feminist blogger, economist, and minor goddess Echidne of the Snakes puts it , “You get to be the richer sex by earning less, on average, than the other sex earns, you know. A well-known factoid.” Here’s the reality: Today is Equal Pay Day —the day that marks how many more days an average...

Earth to Ann Romney: The Mommy Wars Are Over

When Hilary Rosen said that Ann Romney never worked a day in her life, the comment was at first touted as an enormous misstep, a jab at mothers, a slip of the lip that could sink Obama's post-contraception-scuffle 19-point lead among women. Do you see it? All I've seen is a little scuffling among pundits who are competing to say that either, a) it's true that Ann Romney has no idea what economic insecurity feels like, or b) Hilary Rosen is an elitist lezzie , or some combination thereof. But you know what? I think the "mommy wars"—which, as I wrote a few years ago, never really existed in the first place, except as a media creation—are over. Most women have to work for their families to stay in the middle class. The situation is impossible for all of us, whether we're working in an office or working at home or taking a few years out of the workforce to manage the house and children and then find it difficult to get back in at a reasonable-enough wage to ensure a decent Social Security...

What Does an Abortionist Look Like?

(AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Joe Mahoney)
She’s a single, unemployed mother with three children who finds out that she’s pregnant—just after the father has been sent to prison. She says she is distraught at the idea of hurting her kids by adding another child to the family, giving each of them less money, time, and attention, dragging them further into poverty. But she lives in rural southeastern Idaho, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the nearest clinic in Salt Lake City—and getting an abortion would require two round trips there, because of the mandatory waiting period. So she takes RU-486, ordered online, self-supervised. She freaks out at the fetus’s size, stashes it on her back porch, tells a friend, and gets reported to the police. And, is promptly arrested for inducing her own abortion. To put it mildly, Jennie Linn McCormack doesn’t sound like the world’s most responsible person—except that she apparently had the good sense to realize she was not going to be a good parent to another child. I haven’t interviewed her...

November Dreaming

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
I’ve been noticing that, since January, the Obama administration has kicked up its attentions to the LGBT communities, announcing one small regulatory change or conference after another. But they’re not delivering the bigger changes that LGBT groups have been agitating for. I’ve been assuming that the goal is to boost turnout in November. Will it work? What kind of small change am I talking about? Well, there’s the White House LGBT conference series. HHS, DOJ, HUD, even the CIA—they’re all putting on some show or other. March saw a Detroit conference on LGBT housing and homelessness , where HUD Secretary Donovan announced new nondiscrimination rules for public housing and mortgage financing, on both sexual orientation or gender identity. No kicking you out of the projects or your Section 8 apartment because you turn out to be queer; no refusing to give you a mortgage because your birth sex is still visible while you’re transitioning. All good news. And soon, the White House will hold...

Second-Degree Murder

(AP Photo/Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel, Pool)
You know, by now, that George Zimmerman has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder. I am relieved. Like so many, I’ve been just crazed over the fact that an armed man could follow an unarmed teenager walking on the street, shoot and kill him, and not be arrested—all in a way that suggests that it happened because the teenager was black and the shooter was not. Maybe it was self-defense. The evidence I’ve seen sure doesn’t suggest that. Maybe it wasn’t racial at all. Maybe the tough-on-crime prosecutor won’t be able to disprove self-defense, given the now-notorious Stand Your Ground law (do read Mother Jones’ examination of the money trail behind the law). Maybe the judge won’t be able to stand up to the public scrutiny. Criminal law isn’t perfect. Judges aren’t perfect. Juries aren’t perfect. But at least the evidence will be presented, according to rules, in a public forum. Serious people will attempt to decide whether or not George Zimmerman committed murder. No, we...

Zimmerman's Fair Trial

(AP Photo/Orange County Jail via The Miami Herald, File)
You know, by now, that George Zimmerman has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder. I am relieved. Like so many, I’ve been just crazed over the fact that an armed man could follow an unarmed teenager walking on the street, shoot and kill him, and not be arrested—all in a way that suggests that it happened because the teenager was black and the shooter was not. Maybe it was self-defense. The evidence I’ve seen sure doesn’t suggest that. Maybe it wasn’t racial at all. Maybe the tough-on-crime prosecutor won’t be able to disprove self-defense, given the now-notorious Stand Your Ground law (do read Mother Jones ’ examination of the money trail behind the law). Maybe the judge won’t be able to stand up to the public scrutiny. Criminal law isn’t perfect. Judges aren’t perfect. Juries aren’t perfect. But at least the evidence will be presented, according to rules, in a public forum. Serious people will attempt to decide whether or not George Zimmerman committed murder. No, we...

Married With Child

(Flickr / code_martial)
Oh my lord, it’s nice to be home! It was absolutely lovely, reading by my brother’s pool—or, as I told the stepson, doing my homework. (Stay tuned, here, for the resulting review of Linda Hirshman’s forthcoming book Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution). My nephews thought I was crazy, swimming in March. But it was 90 degrees out! But while I loved the physical climate, I can’t say I’m so crazy about the social. As we changed planes in the Atlanta airport, the flight attendant guarding the entryway to the plane asked, alarmed, “Who’s that stray black child?” "He’s ours," my wife said. Let me describe this clearly: He was standing between us, two white ladies, one of whom had just handed this woman all three tickets. The same thing has happened to us before, albeit in DFW. That time we were furious. This time we were resigned. My sense is that two unconscious perceptions were converging in that instant. One is racial: black children belong with black parents; they do not belong with...

I’ve Got Some Assignments for Rachel Maddow

(AP Photo / Chris Pizzello)
Last week, the authorities here at the Prospect were calling me the substitute teacher. I got grumpy about that at first (all kinds of anti-woman and bad childhood associations). But I’ve decided to embrace it. Rachel Maddow, here’s your homework. When Leon Wieseltier wrote a snarky review trashing the snarky tone of Rachel Maddow’s Drift— and more important, suggesting that the nation had yet more wars to fight and that Maddow was foolish not to understand this—I pledged over on Alternet to pay retail, read the whole book, and comment. I’m delighted to say that the book came onto The New York Times bestseller list at No. 1 this past weekend, even though I allowed her publicist to tempt me into a free copy. So now I’ve read the book, and I’ve read half a dozen reviews of the book, from gushing to dismissive . I think I’ve now been through all the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross stages of reaction when a prominent person writes a book on a subject one knows well: Excitement, Pleasure at content...

Over at the Competition

(Flickr/ Michigan Municipal League (MML))
Over at the competition (am I in trouble, editors?), E.J.’s close-up look at the challenge facing Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts provide s a deeper and more thoughtful, not to mention professionally-reported, rumination on the redness of a true-blue state than my blog post of yesterday. You’ll want to read it for a fix while she is lounging poolside, and also to sound smart the next time someone takes the Bay State for granted. However, in the same vein, she is dead wrong about the true-blue-ness of Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor is the liberal college-town stereotype you’ve read about, but grafted on top of a German farming town—a lovely German farming town. Also, most people don’t realize that the Michigan militia was founded just one town over. The day that the ladies in the gym we belonged to were having a spirited locker-room conversation about how glad they were that Mel Gibson had made a movie about the Crucifixion “just the way it happened” is seared in my memory. So is the day that...

An Easter Foreign-Policy Lesson

(Flickr/WillowGardeners)
There’s nothing like a double-barreled Holy Week/Passover to send media flacks leaping for “hooks” of relevance. Here’s my nominee for Most Dubious Holy Week Tie-in—an article from the august Council on Foreign Relations which documents, the email release promises me, how: [W]hile Obama is by all accounts religious, that faith has not resulted in real foreign policy gains. "Rhetoric is important, but direct action grounds real diplomacy. And on that front, the White House has not kept up with the issue," Preston writes. ‘Cause the first thing you thought when Rick Santorum questioned whether Obama actually was a Christian, and said his theology was “phony,” was, No, Rick, Obama’s faith is an important tool of American foreign-policy efforts to exercise hegemony express American values in the global arena . Of course what’s funny is that, when the author wants Obama to turn from words to deeds, what does he point to as an effective example? A speech by Franklin Roosevelt. A great...

Maryland, My Maryland

(Flickr / Dougtone)
I live with my family in one of the bluest places in the nation—Montgomery County, Maryland. We have some things you might expect—relatively high taxes, some of the best schools in the nation, quite a bit of diversity (we’re nothing on Arlington County, Virginia, with 100-plus nationalities in the schools, but our announcements come home in English, Spanish, French, and Amharic, the local cult-ish house whose inhabitants wear head-to-toe purple). And, as I learned last night, we're a state where the Democratic Party had selected convention delegates on sex-segregated lists since 1984. I thought perhaps my local elementary school-polling place had been transported to Sweden or Rwanda . But no, it turns out that in 1984 the Democratic Party ordered state parties to ensure that each state delegation contained equal numbers of men and women, after permitting them to do that in 1976 (since 1968 the party had been wrestling with how to enfranchise minorities and women without quotas )...

Be Nice to Heather Hurlburt, Ms. Graff's Substitute Teacher

(Flickr/AlborzShawn)
Morning, all. I’m Heather Hurlburt, recovering political speechwriter, national-security wonk, mom, feminist, Gen X-er, executive director of a small-yet-mighty nonprofit, would-be ballet dancer. I’m also the child of two journalists, so writing on deadline is in my blood. Following E.J. Graff, whose writing has done as much as anyone to create and shape the discourses on the politics of women’s sexuality and on marriage equality, is more than a little intimidating. In fact, while I’ve written on geostrategy and politics for almost two decades now, this’ll be my coming-out party for writing on women’s issues for a clicking audience. I’m one of those women who was raised by feminist parents in the 1970s to believe not only that I could do anything, but that I was obliged to try—that I had something to prove for hundreds of years of the women in my family who were serving girls and preachers’ wives and schoolteachers, who found avenues for adventure by working as governesses, emigrating...

I’m Vacating. Don’t You Go Anywhere, Though.

National Security Network
I’ve been doing a little too much lately, as you’ll see soon in The Nation and the forthcoming print issue of The Prospect . So I’m running off to a foreign country—Texas—to see how much my nephews have grown, hang out by my brother’s pool, splash around with my wife and stepson, and prove to my mother that, yes, she does have an eldest daughter. Don’t change that channel, though! While I’m away, I’ll be leaving you in the hands of the brilliant Heather Hurlburt (a.k.a. @natsecHeather), a whizbang writer and thinker whose subjects intersect nicely with those of the Prospect . Here’s a sneak preview of some of her writing, a serious contemplation of the lack of women in national security. Her official bio includes this: Heather Hurlburt is Executive Director of the National Security Network, the pre-eminent progressive national security strategists linking policy and politics. From 1995-2001, Hurlburt served in the Clinton Administration as Special Assistant and Speechwriter to the...

Video Killed the Radio Star

The Nation
Please excuse a little self-promo, but The Nation made a trailer for my forthcoming article on Elizabeth Warren. How wild is that? Of course I will post the link here when it's published, so keep reading The Prospect !

How Much Longer Until I’m Equal?

(Flickr/Zolk)
Is there an LGBT legal organization that hasn’t filed a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act? Yesterday, Immigration Equality got on the bus , with a lawsuit challenging DOMA’s Section 3 (which bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages) because it prevents American citizens from sponsoring their same-sex spouses for green cards. When my cousin Laura married a Dutchman, Erik, in a beautiful ceremony at the UN, no one worried that they wouldn’t be able to live together here; of course she’d be able to get him a visa to stay, even if he lost his job. But had she married a Dutch woman, Erika, the visa application would be rejected on its face—even though, in both New York and the Netherlands, the marriage was equally valid. That distinction is what the IE lawsuit is challenging. The New York Times has some nice coverage of the details. Not being able to live in the same country as your beloved spouse: that’s a large and painful cost. (Here’s the cost of DOMA to...

Pages