Smart Girls Who Do Stupid Things


It Looks Like House Republicans Have Decided It’s Not Okay to Hit Women, Again

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(Flickr/Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights)

The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act reached a new low (or high, depending on your point of view) Tuesday, as Republicans in the House announced that they’d introduce a new, less far-reaching version of the Act already passed by the Senate, reports Talking Points Memo. Except this time, if the bill fails to pass, they’ll just vote on the version that made it through the Senate.

The difference between the two bills comes down to whether gay and lesbian victims of domestic violence would be clearly labeled as eligible for protection from domestic violence (the version passed by the Senate includes such language; the one proposed by House Republicans does not). It also specifically calls out acts that occur in Native American communities and cases involving illegal immigrants. TPM says:

“The big admission implicit in this latest move is that House GOP leaders don’t believe they have the votes to pass their version of the bill but that the Senate version is likely to pass the chamber. So this way they’ll give House conservatives the first bite at the apple as a way of saving face and still resolve an issue that has hurt them politically.”

A Democratic aide in the House also went as far to focus on Speaker of the House John Boehner for attempting “to appease the crazy wing of his party,” painting this forthcoming loss as yet another sign that party unity is not working anymore. As the New York Times reported in early 2012, the slow movement surrounding the reauthorization of this bill sits in sharp contrast to the many renewals the Violence Against Women Act received over the years since it was introduced in 1994.

There’s been a great deal of attention to the illegal immigration and gay rights aspects of this bill, but author Louise Erdich wrote in an op-ed focusing on the part of the act that would protect tribal women. “What seems like dry legislation can leave Native women at the mercy of their predators or provide a slim margin of hope for justice,” she wrote. “As a Cheyenne proverb goes, a nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground.”

Sorry, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler Won’t Ever Host The Oscars

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Perhaps realizing they had some valuable information they’d better get out as quickly as possible so as not to miss the peg, the Huffington Post published part of their interview with Tina Fey for her new movie with Paul Rudd Admission. Though author Mike Ryan notes that, “The full interview with Fey will publish closer to the film’s March 22nd release date,” the important, non-promotional stuff is available now.

Ryan first congratulates Fey on what she calls being “Shatnered” (her term for William Shatner’s mention of her name during the awards ceremony) and then asks her if she and BFFL and fellow Golden Globes badass Amy Poehler would ever consider hosting the Big Show, considering how they did with the Globes (and how poorly Seth MacFarlane did in comparison). She said:

“I just feel like that gig is so hard. Especially for, like, a woman — the amount of months that would be spent trying on dresses alone … no way.”

It’s interesting that Fey specifically draws attention the most female aspect of her and Poehler’s performances, especially given that MacFarlane’s was derided as so hopelessly male in its insensitivity to women. Whether on purpose or by accident, Fey points out that even if she were to host the Oscars, it’d be a totally different show in that the type of performance she’d be expected to give – down to appearances – would very un-male.

Ryan also expresses his own disappointment at Fey’s decision to not even consider the Oscars:

It’s disappointing to hear, “No way.” I was hoping for at least “a one in a million chance.”
I wish I could tell you there was.

Ah well. Since Poehler hasn’t spoken up yet, we can still hold out a little hope for her.


Read Gloria Steinem’s Journalistic Lowpoint About Textured Stockings

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PBS and AOL’s joint documentary-slash-video series on the history of the feminist movement, Makers, premiered Tuesday night, and of course, there are plenty of good, never-heard-before stories about how terrible it used to be to be a woman. In one of her interviews, Gloria Steinem discusses the worst article she ever wrote:

“When it came to assignments as a freelance writer, I was assigned things about fashion and food and make-up and babies. Or – the low-point in my life – textured stockings. When I delivered the articles to my editor at the Sunday Times magazine, he generally gave me a choice: either I could go to a hotel room with him in the afternoon, or mail his letters on the way out. Needless to say, I mailed the letters. But I just assumed I had to put up with this.”

Here’s the article she’s talking about, found by Hope Dellon and queried for by The New Yorker‘s Emily Nussbaum. In it, we learn first and foremost that “1964 is officially The Year of the Leg.” It’s an article that is perhaps the most thorough look at stockings ever written outside of a history book. Steinem may have hated writing about “colored lace, floral prints, elastic fishnet, plaid wool, knitted cables, Klee-like abstract prints, alpaca knee socks, thigh-high tweed, hand-painted jersey tights, camel’s hair spatterdashes, metallic threaded anklet’s and stretch-knight hose adorned with polka dots the size of rouge pots,” but she definitely made the topic compelling.

Steinem’s issues with the Times don’t end there; in another Makers video, she remarks upon how long it took the newspaper to start referring to women as “Ms.” and not “Mrs.”, even if they were single. When the paper finally switched, she and other feminist activists took flowers to the editor at the time, Abe Rosenthal. “He said the most infuriating single thing, which was, ‘Oh, if I’d known this mattered so much to you, I would have done it a long time ago,'” says Steinem, laughing a bit.

The best part of the whole thing might be Steinem’s bio for the piece, which reads much less like something you’d see in the Times and more like something you’d read on a modern day blog:
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Bloomberg-backed Robin Kelly Wins Democratic Nomination for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s Congressional Seat

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Former Illinois legislator Robin Kelly won Tuesday night’s Democratic primary in Illinois’ 2nd congressional district, reports The Associated Press. She’ll face the winner of the Republican primary in the general election on April 9, but since it’s a heavily Democratic area, it won’t be much of a fight.

The race for Jackson’s former seat has been, well, defined by race, in a neighborhood of Chicago that has been under the spotlight lately; New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent huge sums of money to ensure that Kelly, a pro-gun control candidate, would win the election. Despite the national attention, low voter turnout was expected in Tuesday’s election, with inclement weather not helping matters.

Coincidentally, on Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Jackson Jr., who resigned from his seat before being indicted for taking $750,000 from his campaign funds to buy everything from Bruce Lee memorabilia to Michael Jackson’s fedora, is writing a book:

One of the Tribune’s sources, who has seen drafts of portions of the memoir, said Jackson was trying to “clear up his legacy.”

“He has nothing else to do right now,” the source said. “He’s desperately trying to change the narrative of his life story.”

This isn’t Jackson’s first time putting pen to page; he previously co-wrote the now-ironically titled It’s About the Money: The Fourth Movement of the Freedom Symphony: How to Build Wealth, Get Access to Capital, and Achieve Your Financial Dreams with his father Jesse Jackson Sr. As Tribune columnist John Kass notes, “Clearly, Junior didn’t read his own words.”

Some of the highlights, according to Kass’ rare copy of the book, include: “Don’t spend money just for pleasure; use it to build wealth and, in so doing, acquire power to manage and control your life.”


1144641 “Rich people tend to have certain habits that poor people would do well to emulate. For  example, rich people understand that you shouldn’t fritter away your money on such baubles as cars and clothes, which quickly depreciate in value.”

But it’s race, not wealth, that seem to haunt all of Jackson’s choices, and the legacy of his  neighborhood. Kass’ piece touches upon this, when he remarks that he and an African-American colleague were surprised about Jackson’s decision to spend campaign funds on a stuffed and mounted elk heads:

“The elk heads bother me,” said my colleague Old School. “What black people buy elk heads as a symbol of stature?”

“I know a lot of black people,” said Old School, who has been African-American his entire life. “And not one person I know puts elk heads on the wall.”

Other Jackson Jr. books include A More Perfect Union: Advancing New American rights, a book meant to provide “insightful analysis of the inextricable link between race and economics,” and Legal Lynching: The Death Penalty and America’s Future. For a man so consumed by race, wealth and violence, Jackson provided few answers to these problems. If anything, he was merely a great example of a community defined by all of those factors.

And as for Bloomberg, he’s moved on, with meetings in Washington D.C. Wednesday with Senators McCain and Reid and Vice President Biden. He did remark on the Kelly win, calling it a “victory for common sense leadership on gun violence.”


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All credit to Ben.


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And now you’re in a Shamrock Shake commercial. And look exactly the same even though it was over 10 years ago. So congratulations Jodie!

Who Smurfed It Better?

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Because it’s always a competition.

Clean Up

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So there haven’t been many posts lately. I could make up some lame excuse, but basically I don’t have one, and I’m a bad liar even when you can’t see my face giving it all away.

You may have noticed that my brilliant friends have been popping up more and more around this parts. But it just didn’t seem fair that I got to get all this amazing street cred all to myself. So please, when that gets up and running in the next few days, check out what witty and hilarious things I had to say about them, or what they think about themselves, depending on the laziness factor, at the top of this page, under “Contributors” and “Mentionables.”

Also I was in the Times this month. Mothers, they always find a new way to embarrass their children. But UChicago thought it was worthwhile enough to retweet

What I particularly liked about this piece was the nature of the comments. As follows, the most uplifting thoughts:

Tough Love:
December 10, 2010 12:13 pm
Aww get over yourself! Show up, pay attention, and do your best. After that, it is just a crapshoot.

— BJ

The Depressing:
December 10, 2010 12:47 pm
I also went to the University of Chicago, and graduated with an honors degree. On graduating, I did exactly what your daughter is doing, and I unfortunately ended up in a job I grew to hate in a dead-end industry. Now, five years later, I’m going back to school to get the qualifications I need for a career in a field for which I have real passion. My point? Applying for colleges taught me to be good at applying for things. Having to face the realities of a bad job market and the lack of choice that entails taught me a lot more about myself and the things I truly value. I hope Kate has the degree of freedom the author suggests she will, but I’m guessing it won’t be quite that easy.

— Not so sure

The Really Depressing:
December 10, 2010 2:49 pm
We have 2 recent college grads in the family. Grad 2008 –magna cum laude, English major, several PR/journalism internships in hand — has cobbled together 3 part-time jobs and is still looking for a full-time-with-benefits position. Grad 2010 — Ivy grad in chem with honors — found a lab job that will cover his rent and not much more. Their friends are working a variety of jobs — cashier, waiter, temp secretary, etc. Not a career path in sight.

I fear for the kids who have tried to enter the workforce in the past two years. The entry level jobs that should have been open to them are gone, or are demanding 3-5 years experience (because employers can now get experienced people to take entry level positions). And when the economy finally recovers, I fear that these grads who have been making do in a terrible job environment will have potential employers wondering “Why did she work in Home Depot for three years?” and will pass them over for recent grads. A lost generation of employees…

Good luck to Kate. She will need it.

— lp

Corrections: A few weeks ago, one Cassandra Breckenridge wrote me an email, correcting some factual errors in what I assume was this post, as I have unfortunately not written about the Real Housewives since (this Camille/Kyle drama is really stressing me out. I want petty drama, not real hatred. Bravo, take note). She noted that Kim and Kyle, the ones who are half-sisters with Kathy Hilton, do not have the last name Hilton. Their last name is Richards, as Kathy’s was before she married. Cassandra, thank you for writing in. In my defense, in episode 1, Kim talked so much about Paris and being a Hilton that I think I was blinded by that connection.

The Beauty Rundown (This Week)

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My opinions about what beauty is and how much it should matter change a lot. But here’s some stuff I’ve been reading/consuming lately, mostly thanks to Netflix instant, which has a lot of awful movies, but a consistently great documentary collection. Even my mom was impressed.

1) “To me, the key to beauty, is to constantly learn, and grow, and do things, have adventures. Maybe they just learned how to garden, and they’ve never done something like that before, or roller skate, or been to the arctic, or backpacked, or, you know, just did something, so that you see it in their eyes. That to me, absolutely, 100%, is beautiful.” — Cheryl Tiegs

2) “I love beauty, it’s not my fault…I know what women want. They want to be beautiful.” Valentino Garavani, Valentino: The Last Emperor

3) Anyone who hasn’t seen it should watch the BBC mini-series The Human Face with John Cleese and Elizabeth Hurley that came out in 2001. The section about Beauty (all on Youtube, with part 1 of it embedded below) is my favorite, but the other three episodes are great too.

Nine Years

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Colson Whitehead’s The Way We Live Now: 11-11-01; Lost and Found is how I felt then, and how I feel now.

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