Wendy Kaminer

Wendy Kaminer is a former senior correspondent for The American Prospect and a contributing editor at The Atlantic Monthly. She also serves on the national board of the American Civil Liberties Union.

A lawyer, social critic, and former Guggenheim Fellow, she writes about law, liberty, feminism, religion, and popular culture. Her latest book is Free for All: Defending Liberty in America Today. Other books she has written include Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils of Piety; True Love Waits: Essays and Criticism; It's All the Rage: Crime and Culture; I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional: The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help Fashions; and A Fearful Freedom: Women's Flight from Equality. Kaminer's articles and reviews have appeared in many other publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and Newsweek, and her commentaries have aired on National Public Radio.

Before embarking on her writing career, Kaminer practiced law as a staff attorney in the New York Legal Aid Society and the New York City Mayor's Office.

Wendy Kaminer retains copyrights to all her articles.

Recent Articles

Caveat Lector

R emember the Beardstown Ladies? Their "common sense" investment guide became a best-seller in the mid-1990s. The story of these 16 small-town women who formed an investment club in the early 1980s and reportedly beat the market over a 10-year period titillated middle-class consumers eager to share in the bull market, while vindicating a mistrust of expertise that runs through American culture--along with a contradictory propensity for seeking advice from self-help authors. The gullibility of the book-buying public has been a great boon to publishers and self-appointed gurus of personal development, dieting, finance, exercise, and professional advancement. But in our litigious society, marketing to the gullible is not without risks, as the Beardstown Ladies' publisher, Hyperion, recently discovered. In 1998 the Ladies acknowledged that their rate of return had been greatly inflated by a computer error. Instead of beating the stock market with a 23.4 percent annual return (between 1984...

Toxic Media

L ike Claude Rains in Casablanca , Al Gore is shocked!, shocked! that the entertainment industry is marketing violent material to minors. Countering Hollywood's macho entertainments with some macho rhetoric of his own, he gave the industry six months to "clean up its act" and declare a "ceasefire" in what he apparently sees as the media's war against America's children. No one should be surprised by the vice president's threat to impose government regulations on the marketing of popular entertainments, which immediately followed the issuance of a new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report on the subject. As his choice of running mate made clear, Gore is positioning himself as the moral voice of the Democratic Party--replete with Godliness and a desire to cleanse the culture. With a concomitant promise to protect ordinary Americans from rapacious corporations, Gore is an early twenty-first-century version of a nineteenth-century female Progressive--a God-loving social purist with a soft...

Absolutely Factious

Last month's inaugural protesters, said by my sources to outnumber celebrants, were mostly ignored by the mainstream press. The Weekly Standard, however, did find time to make fun of them, noting that at one event--a teach-in on police brutality--the deceased victims of police were "represented in unflattering prom pictures." You can imagine the outrage that editors at the Standard would direct toward a snide, elitist liberal magazine that mocked the low-rent fashion sense of murder victims or their families. Yet as the confirmation of John Ashcroft made clear, virtuecrats on the right do not feel bound to practice what they preach. Ashcroft's confirmation is old news, and his sins have been widely chronicled. But I'm still shaking my head at the chutzpah of Republicans. They were outraged when Democrats tried to hold Ashcroft to the confirmation standards that he applied to Clinton's nominees--and cavalier about Ashcroft's lies to the Senate regarding his opposition to Luxembourg...

American Beauty

W hen I was in law school in the early 1970s and professors were struggling with the honorific "Ms.," one of my male classmates used to chide me and several other women for "distracting" him with our presence. We were irritated, not flattered, by his flirtations--intent on being taken seriously as lawyers or, at least, as law students. Looking back, we may seem a bit like stereotypically humorless, uptight feminists. (Now I feel almost sorry for the guy.) But in 1972 the professions were only beginning to admit women in large numbers, and federal law had just recently prohibited sex discrimination in higher education. We were sensitive to suggestions that law school was no place for a good-looking woman. We've progressed, I guess. Today, considering the babes who practice law on TV, it sometimes seems that law school is no place for a homely woman. Once, feminists dreamed that sexual equality would free women from the dictates of fashion and the mandate to be beautiful. But that was...