E.J. Graff

After Jerry Sandusky

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

I’ve listened to many women’s stories of childhood sexual abuse. I don’t know why they choose me as their confidante—it’s not my story—but once they start talking, I feel an obligation to listen. And so I cried with recognition, last month, when I read a story that Barry Bearak in The New York Times wrote about Quanitta Underwood, a young woman who’s hoping to represent the U.S. in Olympic boxing—because I have heard precisely this story, more than once. Bearak captures the experiences of Quanitta and her older sister as they tried to cope with their father’s regular forays into their bedroom:

What’s Right with This Picture?

Getty Images

Lately, I’ve been very Eeyore-ish about women’s lives. There’s plenty of reason for that. Ruth Rosen nicely lays out the backlash against women’s reproductive lives in her article about the current counter-reformation, as she puts it, against women’s bodily autonomy. Of course, any attempt to roll back women’s reproductive rights is an attack on women’s economic independence, since women can only control their educational and financial lives if they can control their fertility.

You Want to Kill Bad Guys? Prove That They’re Bad.

Last week, I took a break from my regularly scheduled gender beat to be grieved, as a citizen, about the Obama administration’s newly announced policy that asserted, as Charlie Savage reported in the New York Times:

… that it is lawful for the government to kill American citizens if officials deem them to be operational leaders of Al Qaeda who are planning attacks on the United States and if capturing them alive is not feasible.

Moms Behaving Badly


I hate these stories. A couple in love decides to start a family. They do. Their bond cracks under the strain of parenting (parents, y’all know exactly what I’m talking about). As they break up, instead of putting the child’s well-being first, one of them tries to keep the other one entirely out of their child’s life.

Be Thankful for No More Lysol!

Some good news and some bad news for your International Women’s Day. The good news: you no longer use Lysol as your spermicidal douche. I mentioned that Lysol was once marketed as a Plan B earlier this week in my post about Rush’s extremely odd way of seeing women’s lives. In the ‘great minds think alike’ category, Mother Jones has taken that farther, offering you a social history slide show of the actual Lysol ads that upped women’s anxieties about their marriages and offered to increase marital intimacy—and led to poisonings and death.

No Contraception? Seriously?

The amazing Ann Friedman has put together a must-see online narrative about the contraceptive flap. Looking at it’ll take you about five minutes, and it will make your (international women’s) day. I promise.

Here’s the only thing I have to add. 

Separated at Birth?

Is it just me? Something about Ron Paul just reminds me desperately of Dennis Kucinich. That irrepressible grin, the don’t-bother-me-with-the-facts ideas, the feeling that they’re bouncing on the heels behind the podium—anyone agree?





Holder Says Killing Citizens Is Okay If You're The Government

I know my “beat” is gender & sexuality. But I’m also an American citizen who loves, and is therefore regularly grieved by, my country. And so today I’m going to talk about something that weighs heavily on my heart: the latest in American “national security” policy, announced by Eric Holder under cover of the Super Tuesday media frenzy.

Is Roe v. Wade Really Still the Law of the Land?

(Flickr/Steve Rhodes)

The Los Angeles Times has a devastating article about one woman’s reluctant quest to replace Dr. George Tiller, the murdered Kansas abortion provider. The woman’s name is Dr. Mila Means:

After his killing on May 31, 2009, the decision to step into his place did not come as an epiphany but rather over time, with sad reluctance.

In the past, if her patients with unwanted pregnancies asked where to get an abortion, she sent them to Tiller. After his death, women seeking the procedure increasingly turned to her for advice, often with panicked eyes and voices, asking what to do and where to go.

Taxpayers Shouldn't Have to Pay for Your Tornadoes!


You might have missed this, what with it being Super Tuesday and all, but yesterday, “Ohio Gov. John Kasich said thanks but no thanks to immediate federal disaster relief Saturday, even as governors in Indiana and Kentucky welcomed the help.”

Not a Fluke

(AP File Photo)

My heart broke over the weekend when I read, over at DailyKos, "I've spent the past 2 days trying to convince my 16 y/o she is not a 'slut.'" (Thanks to Garance Franke-Ruta for the pointer.) Until I read that article, I have been focusing my attention on the good news: The assault on reproductive rights, from Komen and Santorum on, has finally made clear that the attacks on abortion are really just the front line of a greater assault on contraception and women's health.

"Marriage Equality" Coming to the Dem Platform Soon

Last night my editor emailed me, asking if I wanted to comment on a press release from the national group Freedom to Marry, which announced that still more of President Obama's campaign co-chairs have signed on to FTM's campaign to add marriage equality to the Democratic Party platform. The Advocate had the scoop:

Thursday Miscellany

Let's start with the Eeyore.

Yesterday I wrote that women don't count—at least, not to the news media. Right after I posted that, I learned that Katha Pollitt wrote about the same recurring problem last year, brilliantly, of course. One of her key points: if you want more women writers, you need more women editors. Do read her piece. It's depressingly relevant and, of course, funny: 

Do Women Count?

Yesterday, after I made some snarky comment, a friend asked me if I was Eeyore. The truth is, I'm a mash-up of Eeyore and Tigger. Tigger bounces up and down gleefully whenever I talk about gay rights. But today I'm talking about the ladies again, so get ready for Eeyore. 

Time to Protest, Sleeping Beauty

In an important article at Salon last week, Linda Hirshman suggests that the past month's ferment on contraception in particular, and reproductive health generally, might reawaken the women's movement. While I'm not sure I agree precisely on her analysis of how feminism went to sleep to begin with—Hirshman doesn't definitively assign blame either—she's absolutely right in this:

For 40 years, women, the majority of the population and the majority of the electorate, have been the Sleeping Beauties of American politics, slumbering obliviously while vigilant and relentless adversaries surround their rights with a thicket of thorn trees.