E.J. Graff

A Reading Assortment for 11/11/11

  • Occupy Harvard's signs say "We want a university for the 99 percent!"  Umm, where I come from, we call those "state schools." #justsaying 
  • The U.S. Census reports that half of working women have no paid maternity leave. And guess whose jobs are least likely to offer paid leave? The 50 percent who need it most. Hope Yen's article for the AP includes this:

Penn State, Sexual Assault, and the Abuse of Power

A lot has confused me about the outrage about Penn State's apparent cover-up of its former assistant coach's serial molestation and assault of children. Football is lousy with entitled rapists. No, I'm not saying that all football players rape. But I am saying that we hear football-rapist stories regularly. Most women know someone who was (or were themselves) groped, date-raped, or sexually assaulted by a high school or college football player who thought he owned whatever walked by. Consider what commentator Michele Weldon wrote in the Chicago Tribune:

In Which DOMA Crumbles Just a Little Bit More

Has anyone been trying to keep score at home on the many attacks on the Defense of Marriage Act? There are so many different ways it could fall. Today’s news came from the Senate, where the Judiciary Committee voted in favor of Sen. Feinstein’s Respect for Marriage Act, referring it to the full body. The RMA would repeal DOMA, thereby enabling same-sex couples who are legally married in their home states would be treated as married by the federal government as well. (Six U.S.

God's Calling Again

Need some diversion, besides “oops”? Check this out: God calls Katha Pollitt and tries to talk her into running for president. With Perry and Cain self-destructing, each in his own special way, might she have a shot?

Sexual Assault Versus Harassment

So now there's a fifth allegation against Herman Cain—and we can see exactly why women have been loath to come forward and be dragged through the mud. I don't know what Cain did or did not in fact do to Sharon Bialek, or Karen Kraushaar, or to the other three women who've decided to protect their sanity and jobs by keeping their names private.

Are They Orphans?

Beware of overseas orphanages seeking donations. If you're not careful, you may become the victim of an orphanage scam—in which a savvy entrepreneur in a poor country hustles up some children so that he or she can ask developed-world humanitarians for money for the children's support. In some of the notorious cases, the orphanage director pockets the money while the children are left to starve or sold for sex. Few people know that they may be underwriting kidnapping or other modes of defrauding local families out of their children.

The Kids Aren't All Right

  • Don’t miss The Washington Monthly’s article Taxing the Kindness of Strangers, in which a couple of bleeding-heart, middle-class liberals take in a foster care child—and discover the exhaustion and humiliations of trying to get the services the child needs.

    In a way that we never really anticipated, welcoming Sophia into our home led us into the wilderness of red tape and frustration navigated every day by low-income parents who struggle to raise children with the critical help of government programs … 

Good Night, Sweet Prince

The tooth fairy visited our house recently, which made me remember the time—many years ago, when tooth redemption brought only a quarter—that the tooth fairy kept forgetting to claim the tooth under my pillow. After a week, I put a sign on my bedroom door: TOOTH STOP! The next morning, I had my quarter, and a signed note. The tooth fairy explained that he had an extraordinarily large territory that included the Indian Ocean, and apologized for having been delayed by recent monsoons. The note was signed “Prince Oberon.”

Herman Cain and the Problem of Serial Harassers

What is it that turns a person into a serial predator? Is there something about power that makes some men think they can take whatever they want, or are there men who just don't recognize women as human? Make no mistake: Real sexual harassment is predation. My rule has long been that if I hear one allegation, I wait to hear the evidence—might be true, might be false. If I hear two serious allegations in which women took the risk of bringing the charge publicly, I assume there are more.

How Far We Haven't Come, Episode #1707

Remember "The End of Men," the concept that the future belongs to women, because women are more prepared for today's economy? Well, it hasn't hit us yet. Even when women are better educated, men earn more, at least in most parts of the workforce. As Motoko Rich reports at The New York Times,

How Far We've Come, Episode #407


Back in the mesozoic era of LGBT rights—probably about 1985 or so—I remember reporting for a local gay newsweekly on a young woman in a less-than-affluent Boston suburb who was demonized for trying to take her girlfriend to the prom. She struck me as a little unstable and troubled, as anyone would have had to be to risk the harassment and death threats that hounded her. And even though I was the snotty anti-prom type during my high school years (see under: poet) and went with my best friend to a Greek Orthodox Easter midnight mass instead of my high school's prom, I was in awe that this teenager would take that on. I hope that my impression was wrong, and that she ultimately fared well.

Does David Brooks Understand Market Economics?

In his weekly back-and-forth with Gail Collins at The New York Times "Opinionator" blog this week, David Brooks finds a backhanded way to blame a woman for being forced out of a job by her supervisor's sexual advances. He doesn't seem to realize that his comment blames anyone who asks for compensation for an employer's negligence or harm: 

Are You Pink- or Blue-Brained?


Think that single-sex education is a sensible idea, since boys and girls learn so differently? Think again. In Slate recently, neuroscientist Lise Eliot, who researches child brain development, and social psychology professor Rebecca Bigler explained their recently published peer-reviewed article in Science, which examines an “overwhelming body of research on the topic.” They had three main findings:

Has Occupy Wall Street Affected Anything?

Peter Dreier at HuffPo has a cool graph showing how often the word “inequality” appeared in news coverage between October 2010 and October 2011. Guess what happens right about, oh, September 17? (Hat tip to Mother Jones).

Anti-Abortion and Pro-Choice?


Last week, I asked: So what if I hadn’t been born? In response, Rachael Larimore at Slate kindly took up my offer to discuss, as she puts it, “the lightest of topics”: abortion.

You will not be surprised to learn that we differ on some core points. First, she believes that embryos are human beings. Here she writes: