E.J. Graff

E.J. Graff writes on social-justice and human-rights issues, particularly discrimination and violence against women and children; marriage and family policy; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lives. She is a resident scholar at the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center and the author of What Is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution (Beacon Press, 1999, 2004).

Recent Articles

Comings & Goings

The New York Times has posted a riveting graphic representation showing where Americans are moving to and from, by race. I noodled around this spot for awhile, finding out some surprising things, but you could find more. Manhattan has become 22 percent more white--okay, housing prices have pushed out most people, and whites are richer than everyone else, while the Bronx has become eight percent less so, and has gotten much more Latin. My own county of Middlesex, Massachusetts has become -- at long last -- six percent less white, gaining both blacks and Hispanics. That wouldn't take much; one of my friends says that her friends from back home ask her how she's doing up here in "The Big White." But I think that's right; the Boston area is, slowly but steadily, shedding its image as impossibly racist. We'll never be New York, but we're getting a little more mixed, with the neighborhood lines far less fixed than when I first moved here in the late 18th century. (Okay, I exaggerate a...

DADT Repeal Not the End of Discrimination

Since "don't ask, don't tell" has been repealed, all's peachy for lesbians and gay men in the military, yes? Umm, no. Serving openly has made it much clearer all the more subtle ways that lesbians and gay men are excluded from full participation -- particularly, the fact that the military does not support its gay service members' families in the same way that heterosexual service members' families are supported. For more, check out the Los Angeles Times report on OutServe's first-ever conference, held in Las Vegas. (Which is amusingly ironic; isn't Vegas the epicenter of don't ask don't tell -- you know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?) "Under 'don't ask, don't tell,'" said Lt. Josh Seefried, OutServe's founder, "inequality was invisible. You just had to kick someone out and you could ignore the problem." Read more here .

Lost in Detention

What happens to you when you sneak into the U.S. without papers, hoping for a better life? You might make a living working at jobs that the native-born wouldn't take, supporting your family back home. Or you might end up in indefinite detention. On Tuesday at 9 p.m., PBS's Frontline airs Maria Hinojosa's in-depth, year-long investigation of this system, Lost in Detention . As you may know, Hinojosa's powerful journalistic career has been dedicated to telling the stories of social injustice and exposing the machinery that perpetrates it. I suspect this will be powerful and disturbing. Here's what her production house, Futuro Media Group, says about this show: [ Lost in Detention ] takes a penetrating look at President Obama's vastly expanded immigration net, explores the controversial Secure Communities enforcement program and goes inside the hidden world of immigration detention ... tracks the enforcement sweep from the neighborhoods of Illinois to the expansive Willacy Detention...

Jane Austen Lives!

Jane Austen lives -- in India. Once upon a time, the course of your life was determined by the status you were born into. As cheeky as Jane Austen could be, she knew perfectly well that each character's income and background determined their marital fates. The young lady of the manor better not run off with the dashing blacksmith, because marrying him would cast her out of all "polite society." You might say that things aren't really so different today; if a Yale Law graduate married a janitor, the rehearsal dinner might be a bit tense. But if the janitor magically put herself through law school -- and it does happen, despite the many barriers -- allowances would be made. That's not true yet in India, however, as Seema Chowdhury of Women's E-News reports. Young people from different castes are mixing in the new capitalist system's computer schools, call centers, and other new enterprises that depend on talent and drive instead of family status -- and the results are tearing families...

When Did You Stop Beating Your Wife?

Here in the People's Republic of Cambridge, you occasionally see street signs declaring that the city is a "domestic violence-free zone." Those always make me feel a little snarky: Does my city really believe that we've ended coercion, control, and violence between intimate partners and family members? But while I might roll my eyes at this symbolic gesture, I am proud that the city announces that it takes violence against women and children seriously. I remember, as a child, watching the Jackie Gleason show. His character, Ralph Kramden, would regularly threaten his TV wife with a punch that would send her "to the moon, Alice! To the moon!" It's upsetting to glance back at how, once upon a time, that threat was treated as ordinary and even funny. I'll take Cambridge's zero-tolerance policy over that pre-feminist symbolism any day. Over in Topeka, as you may have heard, the commitment to prosecute intimate partner violence has been in question recently. According to The New York Times...