Courtney Martin

Courtney E. Martin is a Prospect senior correspondent. She is the author of Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists (Beacon Press). You can read more about her work at

Recent Articles

Cooperating in Copenhagen

Climate change is one of so many pressing problems that are less about "good politics" and more about good sense.

A decorated globe in Copenhagen, Denmark, Sunday Dec. 6, 2009, one day before the Climate Summit kicks off. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
The headlines this week will no doubt be filled with talk of stalled negotiations in Copenhagen and our increasingly hot and bothered planet. Over the past five years, the climate-justice movement has marshaled an incredibly diverse group of people to push world leaders to do the right thing for our world. Everyone -- from Al Gore to Pat Robertson, from fifth-generation factory workers in West Virginia to first generation college students from Detroit, from scientists to celebrities -- is invested in this issue. Climate change, while arguably the biggest global threat at the moment, is not unique. The ever-exploding human population is increasingly connected, and our world's most pressing problems are those that affect everyone. Issues like poverty, religious extremism, and the economic crisis cut across party lines and across demographic barriers (class, race, gender, geography). They affect tea-partiers, Free Tibeters, and everyone in between. As such, our future depends on our...

What's the Alternative to Tucker Max?

Many progressive young men are rejecting traditional and toxic notions of masculinity. But they're still figuring out what should replace it.

(Flickr/Lisa Norwood)
Vote for Courtney Martin in The Washington Post 's Next Great Pundit contest. "Machismo!" shouted a young college student in the third row. "Tough!" "Violent!" "Homophobic!" shouted three other young men, sprinkled throughout the packed lecture hall. Ethan Wong, a student at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, who was dressed in a slim business suit, nodded as he wrote each word on the chalk board. The roomful of young men was brainstorming all the qualities associated with masculinity. Wong was one of the organizers of the National Conference for Campus-Based Men's Gender Equality and Anti-Violence Groups, a long and clunky name for an unprecedented event that took place last weekend at his school. It was the first time that young guys from around the country -- guys like Wong, who recognize that the kind of masculinity they are describing is toxic for men, too -- gathered to share strategies for getting college men involved in gender-based activism and discuss the work...

Work/Life Balance Is Not a Woman's Issue

Men need family-friendly workplaces, too. So why is this issue framed as something only mothers should care about?

Maria Shriver (Flickr/Kelly B. Huston)
"Women are in the labor force -- and every other public arena -- to stay. So the choice for men is how we will relate to this transformation. Will we be dragged kicking and screaming into the future? Flee to some male-only preserve, circle the masculine wagons, and regroup?" asks masculinity scholar Michael Kimmel. "Or instead, will the majority of us who are now somewhere between eager embrace and resigned acceptance see instead the opportunity for the 'enthusiastic embrace' of gender equality?" These are some of the questions at the center of a new report released by the Center for American Progress last week in partnership with Maria Shriver. Despite its title, A Woman's Nation , it's really about a future in which both men and women have the support to live fulfilling, healthy lives. The report features a broad range of public intellectuals, academics, and policy-makers reflecting on this benchmark moment in women's labor participation. (Full disclosure: I contributed one of the...

American Ignorance and Afghanistan

We can't keep training the public to think in black and white terms about a very gray war.

A U.S. soldier takes cover from the dust at a new U.S. military base outside the village of Musa Qala in Afghanistan's Helmand Province. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
As President Barack Obama and his team deliberate about the best way forward in Afghanistan, they are compelled to incorporate a variety of voices on the subject. Military leaders advocate for an increase in troops -- 40,000 strong -- to continue the work that was started there nearly eight years ago. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, argues, "The situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort." Peace activists argue passionately for the opposite, citing the variety of costs -- economic, ethical, in human lives. Jodie Evans, co-founder of Code Pink, writes, "It will take the women of the world to rise up and say militarism is not working." But these are the ideological extremes. What do average U.S. citizens think about the Afghan War? Well, they're fairly split -- and also fairly confused. According to a Washington Post -ABC News poll...

The Military's Overlooked Brain Trust

Top commanders of the U.S. Army need to start listening to the opinions of the rank and file.

Officers go over their war game training in a classroom at the Army's Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
As the debate over the best course of action to take in Afghanistan heightened last week, I was in a unique setting to consider the implications. As part of a workshop on media and the military at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, I was one of about 25 journalists who were given the opportunity to experience the military, meet soldiers, and even get a taste of life "inside." The resounding message from Army leadership? "We've changed." From the highest levels on down, the officers seem to genuinely want to create a military that reflects 21st-century thinking on communications, organizational psychology, and even holistic health. (Unfortunately, the Army is still light years behind in understanding gender dynamics.) Officer after officer used words like "collaborate" and metaphors like "fuel change." We were told that the Command & General Staff College, the "intellectual center of the army," now counts blogging, engaging with the media, and public...