Smart Girls Who Do Stupid Things

Sometimes…

My Mom Sent This To Me

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It’s good she knows me well. And that Simon Rich is awesome, with evidence definitely here, and a little bit less here.
AND apparently he has a new book out. This one’s a novel based off of Pygmalion, which I believe may be worth carting around Europe.
Your New College Graduate: A Parents’ Guide. [The New Yorker]

Which Of These New Shows Is Fake?

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Eye Candy
Convinced by her roommate to begin online dating, tech genius Lindy begins to suspect that one of her mysterious suitors may be a deadly cyber stalker. When her friends at the elusive cyber-police uncover a potential serial killer in Manhattan, all signs point to one of Lindy’s dates. Teaming up with this band of hackers Lindy works to solve the murders while unleashing her own style of justice on the streets of New York City.

OR

Finding Carter
Carter has the perfect life with fun-loving single mom Lori – that is until the police bust a high school party and she discovers Lori abducted her as a toddler. Now she must return to the family who thought they had lost her. As she navigates brand new parents, a twin sister, high school and boys, Carter vows to find Lori before the police capture the only mom she’s ever known and put her behind bars. “Finding Carter” is an unconventional family drama about a girl who is quickly realizing that sometimes the people closest to you are the ones who have the most to hide.

SPOILER: NEITHER. THEY ARE BOTH EQUALLY FRIGHTENING AND EQUALLY REAL SHOWS BEING SHOPPED.

[MTV]

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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It’s Very Common To Fake A Fiance For The Holidays. At Least, According To Made-For-TV Movies

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For some reason, the people that work for the company that churns out holiday-themed made-for-tv movies seem to think the idea of paying someone to pretend to be your fiance when you go home for the holidays is a. realistic and b. a situation that would lead to romance and not all your most prized possessions being stolen. The idea, which I believe was created in a different kind of Santa’s Xmas Factory, has even spread to the real world, demonstrated in Craigslist posts like this, though unfortunately, this particular offer has expired and is no longer viewable. We’re assuming, however, that the gentleman found what he was looking for.

Exhibit A:

My Fake Fiance (2009, ABC Family)

Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence get married for the gifts and the money, because they’re both horrible people who recognize that marriage is largely a societal ritual unrelated to love. Along the way, they develop the feelings. Hart and Lawrence’s chemistry (and history on shows that were popular during the ’90s) led to an eventual show of their own on ABC Family called, creatively, Melissa and Joey, which was — shockingly or not — renewed for a third season. Hart was also in ABC Family’s Holiday in Handcuffs where she FORCES a man to pretend to be her fiance, indicating that the actress may have a troubling understanding of what situations actually lead to happiness in romantic relationships.

Exhibit B:
Holiday Engagement (2011, Hallmark Channel)

Billed as a “Hallmark Original” (as if that’s a stamp of quality akin to getting an Oscar), Bonnie Sommerville’s “perfect” (really, pretty boring and unattractive) fiance breaks up with her and so she hires an actor to pretend to be him for Thanksgiving because her mom is so crazy she feels like she has to. Not only does she have little to no chemistry with either the dude she wants back or the dude she eventually falls for, she also is like maybe a journalist who spends her time writing about puppies and has no career aspirations. This means I’m automatically biased against her and have no idea who would find her attractive, even the mildly cute dude she ends up with.

Exhibit C:
Hitched for the Holidays (2012, Lifetime)

Lawrence, unsatisfied with having done one fake fiance holiday flick, has teamed up this season with some no-name to literally do exactly the same movie as he did two years prior, this time, using what appears to be a Craigslist rip-off (at least he’s tech savvy now). This is the only one of the above movies I haven’t seen, so I can’t vouch as to the veracity of the beginning of this IMDB description: “An attractive pair agrees to be each others supposed significant other throughout the holidays to keep their meddling families at bay.” It premieres this Friday though, so I’ll report back.

Previously: “ABC Family Holiday Movies on Hulu: An Internet Wonderland

A Letter To The Demon Child Next To Me On This Flight To Boston

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I too am not pleased about heading to New England, land of our forefathers and a thousand future leaders of America. I’ve been called on this journey because of love — love for friends, which makes us do crazy things, like breathe in the crisp fall air of the Northeast that has probably already begun to sour.

I too have wondered before, “Where’s Boston?” Where indeed.

You have been called here by your parents, to visit an Uncle Dan for Thanksgiving. You seem to, if not disdain them, show them little respect. Perhaps this is because your mother’s constant threat that she is going to “wash your mouth out with soap.” You seem smart enough to, at the age of approximately 3 or 4, realize that this threat is almost entirely empty; you’ve even told her that she has stinky breath as a retort (though I am unclear if you’re old enough to realize the subtle irony between her threat and your comment).

You’ve sung both that terrible “song” “Gangnam Style” and some of the complete works of ABBA. You’ve disregarded any instruction to not kick both the people in front of you and behind you, a feat I wasn’t sure was possible. You’ve lost your shoe multiple times.

Somehow, your father, who has been blessed in the inevitable parental coin toss with the seat behind you (or in the game of chance that is a set of XY chromosomes), has managed to fall asleep. Your mother has not been so lucky. You’ve made her get up three times during a two hour flight to go to the bathroom. I know this because I am in the aisle seat. I saw you and thought, I’ll take a gamble on this kid. Everyone else seems to be avoiding her like the plague, but pickings are slim and I need to stow my carry-on baggage and get this show on the road.

Little did I know what kind of show I would be receiving.

You have been the victim of the phrase “AVERY! GOD!” so many times that I assume by the tone your mother is using that it’s been said a time or two before I was first blessed with your presence.

Your one moment of silence was, unsurprisingly, when you were brought apple juice. That was also the moment we locked eyes, for a fleeting second, a moment when I dared to look a demon in the face. You seemed calm, but those cheeks were too red; your hair, matching. It was messy, as if tousled by spirits themselves.

You are, unequivocally, a terror. And yet, I have something to say to you: It Gets Better. Hopefully for your parents, and whoever accidentally sits next to you because if this flight was crowded, the one you’ll be taking back next week sure as hell isn’t going to be any more spacious.

Kate Is Too Busy Being Highbrow At The Theater So It’s Emma’s Turn To (Un)Liveblog The Emmys

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In case you don’t know who I am (WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN), I am the editor of this blog’s smarter and stupider younger sister. This is my first unlive blog experience.

(Confession: I was busy with my last meal at home before I returned to school and was aghast to find the DVR acting up, so witty commentary for the first 15 minutes is absent. But let’s be real, what did I really miss.)

Note: I apologize for the excessive caps lock. I don’t know how else to express my excitement.

LET’S BEGIN.

8:15 pm LOUIS C.K!!!!!! I can’t decide whether Louis pretends to be sadder than he is…I want to pretend he’s really enjoying life and living it to the fullest in wake of his divorce, but I’m not totally convinced.

8:20 pm Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara are both nominated. Julie Bowen wins and Sofia tries her best to look supportive…but we all know the real story.

“That’s my Sofia, god bless you.” Maybe the feud is no more? I really can’t keep up.

We all know Julie Bowen is crazy but GOOD GOD HER ARMS. And she has officially said “nipple covers” too much in this speech.

8:30 pm Miss Chanandler Bong is presenting for Guest Actor/Actress in a Comedy…He has a new show that’s Community-esque and is pretty funny. Plus it looks like he’s been back on the wagon for awhile (though the picture below is not the best highlighter of that) so four for you, Matthew Perry.

8:32 pm Jimmy Fallon and Kathy Bates presenting for Comedy Direction. Realtalk, Lena Dunham is grating on my nerves lately and I really don’t want to get on the Girls hate train so I think I’ll just stop following her on Twitter and pretend I’m still in awe.

BlahBlah from Modern Family wins Best Direction, to no one’s surprise. More like Middle-Aged White Male Director of Accessible Middle Brow Comedy Series, AMIRIGHT?

8:35 pm Modern Family spot pretending the newest Lily actress, Aubrey, is a sadistic four-year old is actually pretty funny. ESPECIALLY CAUSE KEN JEONG MAKES AN APPEARANCE and that’s just gold.

8:37 pm Man, everyone really seems to be laying on the bronzer lately. I.E. Jimmy Fallon and everyone else who shouldn’t be wearing bronzer.

8:37 pm Mindy Kaling and Melissa McCarthy, both funny women, are talking about funny men! P.S. Just got a glimpse of Mayim  Bialik behind Jim Parsons and DAMN, “aspiring modern orthodox” cleans up good.

I would be happy with any of these nominees winning. Except  Jon Cryer….DAMNIT. WHY. Two and a Half Men is the least funny show on television, as 99% of the population knows.

Jon Cryer is either in real-shock or fake-shock. Either way, it’s 1/3 endearing, 2/3 wildly irritating. Also, just thanked his wife.

According to the Emmy announcer, you can tweet at the winners on Twitter with #EmmyCongrats. Because the big shiny trophy and applause of thousands of people really isn’t enough for these folks.

8:44 pm Colbert time, presenting for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. “We should not be having a war on women…we should be celebrating women.” Sincerity 4DaWin! Amy Poehler looks beautiful and I DON’T KNOW WHO I WANT TO WIN.

Julia Louis Dreyfus!!! Veep is incredible, I don’t care what anyone says, so four for you, Julia.

Julia starts to read a speech written by Amy Poehler…SHE AND AMY PROCEED TO SWITCH SPEECHES. Comedic gold, dead serious. Second year that Amy Poehler has been at the forefront of an Emmy gag, and here’s hoping it continues.

8:49 pm 2012  “YEAR IN REALITY” MONTAGE. THIS IS WHAT WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR, EVERYBODY.

8:50 pm The Beek is presenting with Damon Waynes, Jr. The latter being the high point of ABC comedy series, Happy Endings.

The Amazing Race wins for Outstanding Reality Series. I’ll be real with you, the only episode I’ve seen of this show has been the one where a woman slingshots a watermelon into her own head accidentally, so I figure I hit it at it’s highest point. (P.S. The comments of that last linked video include the likes of “thats the second biggest load she took to the face…” People just continue to keep it classy.)

8:57 pm The Big Bang Theory spot makes me sad. Remember when this show used to be funny? Sheldon is in a CPA Fan Club, apparently.

Did those accountants seriously come on, wave, and walk-off?

9:00 Did the Emmys always have so many awards for reality tv?

9:01 pm 2012 Year in Drama montage! That’s what I’m talking about. Incessant reminders that I need to watch Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead, that The Good Wife, Mad Men and Breaking Bad continue to be incredible, and that Once Upon A Time is still be wildly disappointing.

Of Grey’s Anatomy: Mom: I can’t believe this show is on the air.

I had to use serious earpluggage for the Breaking Bad Sequence, because I’m only at Season 3!

9:04 pm Claire Danes looking stunning.

Mom: That’s an unfortunate dress (I guess we don’t always jam.)

Aaron Paul wins for Best Supporting Actor. If you’re not watching Breaking Bad, you’re doing something wrong. And if you don’t follow him on twitter, you’re making an even more egregious mistake.

And he’s crying. The rest of this liveblog might be me reacting to Aaron Paul reacting because he is my new Ryan Gosling. Actually maybe not because UGH he’s engaged and his fiance is gorgeous and I am irritated.

@gracehelbig Breaking Bad more like Breaking DECENT ENOUGH TO WIN EMMYS amiright?! #emmys

Love me some Daily Grace

9:12 pm distracted because Mom is talking about the Space Shuttle flyover that happened two days ago.

Tracy Morgan and Jimmy Kimmel are doing a bit. Eh.

9:14 pmConnie Britton and Hayden Pannewaytolazytolookupthespelling presenting.

Ted: Connie Britton is hot.

Mom: Which one is Connie Britton

Ted: The tall one [or the old one, but okay…]

Writers for Homeland win, so I guess I really should be watching this show.

Ted: DON’T PLAY THEM OFF. Let them talk for two fucking minutes!

9:17 pm Maggie Smith couldn’t be at the Emmys because she’s fucking Maggie Smith who owned the Battle of Hogwarts while kicking cancer’s ass and probably has some sort of endangered forest to save or diseased animal to nurse back to health.

9:26 pm Jimmy Kimmel has put together a faux-In Memorium montage for himself. I’m on the fence.

9:27 pm Julianna Marguelies WHAT ARE YOU WEARING.

 

Mom: I like it.

Damien Lewis lives for Best Actor in a Drama Series for Homeland. OKAY I GET IT I’LL WATCH THE FUCKING SHOW. Just called himself a “pesky Brit.”

“My two children at home thought Daddy had  been nominated for an Emma.” THAT’S RIGHT.

9:36 pm All in agreement that Tina Fey looks wonderful.

Will this be the year Julianna wins? I think I can vouch for Kate and say we both hope.

Elizabeth Moss counts as Lead Actress in Mad Men?

Okay Clare Danes wins and I’m sure it’s well-deserved but ugh Juliannnnaaaaa.

Clare agrees with Ted that the writers were cut off far too soon.

Mom: You’re boring!

Okay Clare Danes is pregnant so I guess we can excuse her babbling a bit? We’ll call it Natalie Portman syndrome?

9:42 pm The world stops when Aziz Ansari puts on a British Accent. “Bloody brilliant…fish and chips…cheers.”

When was the last time Neil Patrick Harris didn’t host the Tonys?

3 for 3 for Louis C.K!

9:49 pm Is it just me or does Once Upon a Time have like the WORST special effects?

Ted: I don’t get this whole fucking vampire thing. [Editor’s Note: Agreed.]

9:50 I get nervous every time Ricky Gervais is on stage. “They’ve flown me out for  a big one…Outstanding Direction for a Variety Special.”

Rando in the Emmy Direction Booth wins, and his speech is a little too meta for me.

9:55 Colbert nominated, as usual.

Me: Is he ever going to win?

Ted: Tonight. He wins tonight.

NOPE. Jon Stewart again. He, Colbert and Fallon wrestling to the stage. Incredible.

“Years from now, when the earth is a burning husk, aliens will find a box of these and realize just how predictable these fucking things are.” Moment of the night.

10:00 pm Jimmy Kimmel’s mom can’t move her face, it seems.

10:03 pm I really do need to watch miniseries’.

83% of the reason I don’t watch Boardwalk Empire is because Steve Buscemi gives me the heebie-jeebies for reasons unbeknownst to me. [Editor’s Note: It’s his face.]

10:08 pm Guys, In Memorium is coming up! Get out ‘dem kleenex.

In other news, Internet Explorer is trying so hard to be relevant again.

10:12 pm Is there anyone who doesn’t like Ellen DeGeneres? She’s the kind of person that can do unfunny things and make them hilarious. She’s also not wearing pants tonight.

10:14 pm Kerri Washington’s head is a little too big for her body. I can say that because my head is a little too big for my body and therefore I am an authority.

10:21 pm I know it’s tacky but I can’t help ranking the saddest deaths in the In Memorium. Tony Scott may just kill me (err….for lack of a better word) more than Steve Jobs…

@BrianJMoylan Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Amanda Bynes crashed her car into the stage at the Emmys during the In Memoriam

Also, ABC promos reminded me that in case you’ve been sleeping under a rock, this is your PSA that Castle and Beckett did the dirty.

10:27 pm Either the show is getting less-funny as the night progresses, or I am losing steam.

HEYYYOOOOO Doyle from Gilmore Girls wrote Game Change! Learn something new every day.

Unsurprisingly, Julianne Moore wins for Game Change. Won’t lie and pretend I’m cultured and saw it, but I’m guessing it was well-deserved. I mention that I saw her on the street once. Mom mentions she sat next to her at a lunch. COOL MOM guess you win, as usual.

10:31 pm@JuddApatow I am sure we will win best comedy series. Bank on it. @girlsHBO#HBO  [difficulty discerning tone]

10:35 pm Commercial break and we’re talking about recent rapes in NYC parks. Uplifting! But for real, educate yourself folks.

10:38 pm I really want to love Ginnifer Goodwin. Like I really, really, really do….

10:40 pm Kevin Costner gives a rambly speech.

Ted: WHERE’S THE MUSIC WHEN YOU NEED IT?

Touché.

10:45 pm How many awards for the Miniseries category can there be? The answer is at least 12 because Game Change won that many.

10:48 pm Homeland is the new Mad Men and wins for best Drama. Begin the 9,000 year sweep.

10:51 pm Is anyone more excited for This is 40 than me? Is anyone more obsessed with Maude Apatow’s twitter feed?

10:52 pm Jimmy Kimmel introduces Michael J. Fox as “everyone’s least favorite person.” Standing ovation. Work it.

10:56 pm Modern Family wins for best Comedy Series again. Fuck it, I’m out.

I Saw This Play And It Is BLEAK

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But accurate. Bleak but accurate (and funny!). Except I don’t do that much coke I swear Mom.

“The thing that’s probably most autobiographical is just the sentiment of the piece. Like, this sucks. This really sucks. I feel inadequate as a woman and I’m not exactly sure why, and I’m not exactly sure why I was handed a piece of paper that said ‘feminism’ at the top and it was actually just a to-do list of things I was supposed to get done by the time I was 30. I was just like, what the fuck is this? That’s not — I don’t want it all. I don’t actually want that.”Leslye Headland

What Helen Gurley Brown Taught Me About Hard Work And Looking Good

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Helen Gurley Brown, in the portrait accompanying an Esquire magazine article by Nora Ephron in 1970.

I never thought I’d become invested in the life of Helen Gurley Brown. I mean, she helmed a magazine that featured headlines like “Yes, you can have a bigger bosom!” two years after the Miss America Beauty Pageant protest that lead to the misrepresentation of feminists as “bra-burners” (bra-putters-in-trashcans would be more accurate). The woman who created Cosmopolitan magazine as we know it today might have been a visionary in regards to letting single women who just wanted to get some off the hook, but she was, even in her time, so antiquated in her view of what else they could get some of. Given my distaste for so much of what Brown believed, it was odd to find myself sitting at my desk this past week reading AP wire copy, slowly realizing not many around me would understand getting upset over a woman who I didn’t even agree with on many fronts.

“…having a man is not more important than great work, it’s as important,” Brown told the New York Times in 1974. “I know intellectually that jobs are as important. But they’re not as good for Cosmo in terms of sales. We have had major articles on careers, on nursing and library work. But they don’t have nearly as much clout as an article on ‘Find Your Second Husband Before You Divorce Your First One.'”

Well, she was definitely right: That same article noted that a “career piece” ran in the magazine about once every half a year in the 1960s. But by the mid 1970s, facing pressure from women’s groups and magazines like Ms., Cosmo tried to do “one major job piece every third month.” They were often about “fringe” or “glamour” jobs though, like being a “lady bartender” or a reporter (Hey! Not so glamorous anymore…), “jobs that make good copy but are not realistic options for most women”, wrote Stephanie Harrington, a reporter herself, for the Times. All you have to do is check out April 1969’s article “I Was a Nude Model” by Alice Denham to get what Harrington was talking about.

Work, unless you look at it Brown’s way, isn’t that sexy. After all, the Huffington Post didn’t start a vertical with Brown contemporary Nora Ephron on work; they started one on divorce. But work was interesting to Brown: She adored it. She worked all the time. If she’d been in business during our mobile-friendly times (Brown was essentially pushed out of the magazine she helped invigorate in 1997, after thirty-two years there), she could have worked without heading into her trademark pink corner office anywhere she liked, perhaps sipping a Mai Tai on a beach while wearing a Diane von Furstenberg caftan.

Brown wrote about work tirelessly. Despite the fact that her magazine endlessly shilled a particular form of beauty and attractiveness required to snag a man that boxed out anyone who didn’t quite fit that image, to read Brown’s books is to realize that this woman cared more about work than sex — not that you could tell it from her magazine.

And, perhaps more importantly, she felt even beautiful women should feel that way too: her two mantras might as well have been “Every Cosmo girl needs to work” and “Every Cosmo girl needs a man”, in that order. But that these two things (working constantly at one’s job and working constantly to get a husband) “are at odds with each other, seems never to have occurred to Helen,” wrote Harris Dienstfrey in his article “That Cosmopolitan Girl” in a 1983 Antioch Review.

Brown was an equal opportunity advocate of hard work for people of all attractiveness levels: “Gloria Steinem, pretty enough to go through life as a goddess, got a job as a Playboy bunny (waitress), wrote about her experience, kept writing until she became an editor of Glamour and New York magazines, then became a leading figure in one of the most important revolutionary movements of our lifetime – the Women’s Liberation movement,” wrote Brown in her 1982 book Having It All: Love, Success, Sex, Money…Even If You’re Starting with Nothing. And of those women like Steinem who were blessed with the beauty and the brains? Brown wasn’t even sure she wanted such a thing for herself. “I’m just saying if I had to choose beauty or brains, I’d take brains. Every time.”

This didn’t mean that you shouldn’t stop trying to have both though — after all, the book was called Having It All. Her 1962 book Sex and the Single Girl, the infamous work that got her the Cosmo gig in the first place, was an entire tome devoted to making sure you looked your best — which meant you had to work at it. If you were a single woman, you had to spend money to make money.

Brown devoted a whole, less-popular version of Sex and the Single Girl to this very topic, called Sex and the Office, where she implored women in the workplace to care about what they looked like both for themselves, and for the men that they inevitably could snag while working. “…you must love yourself enough to employ every device…voice, words, clothes, figure, make-up…to become [a beauty],” she said.

To Brown, the skills a woman learned in romantic relationships were interchangeable to those they should practice in the workplace. During a seldom-seen interview between the aforementioned Steinem and Brown in a 1982 documentary (but one which I recommend trying to check out from the library), Brown outlines to Steinem how she moved from one ad agency to another during her years working as a copywriter prior to heading to Cosmo:

Brown: …Many men feel that you’re nothing after they get you. They wanted you desperately but when you belong to them, you’re nobody. So this agency stole me…
Steinem: Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Brown: (laughing) It happens.

Boy does it happen — or it did, in Brown’s world. For “…in an ideal world we might move onward and upward by using only our brains and talent but, since this is an imperfect world, a certain amount of listening, giggling, wriggling, smiling, winking, flirting and fainting is required in our rise from the mailroom,” Brown wrote in Sex and the Office.

Unsurprisingly, her contemporaries and modern feminist authors have taken Brown to task for her views. In her book The Joy of Work: Helen Gurley Brown, Gender, and Sexuality in the White-Collar Office, Julie Berebitsky wrote, “As [Brown] saw it, the feminine ideal was not necessarily an iron cage but a weapon in a woman’s arsenal, one of the few forms of female power and a way to circumvent men’s hostility toward ambitious women.” In short: women shouldn’t expect men to change, but they could figure out a way to make them more tolerable.

Berebitsky is particularly critical of Brown’s way to success in the office, and rightfully so: most of what Brown asserted was a way to move up in the workforce, but that which did nothing to try to right the wrongs of an incredibly patriarchal society that makes ours today look relatively sex-stress free. But Brown was really a victim of her own pragmatism: it’s like she could get behind reupholstering a couch, but couldn’t imagine throwing out the old one and buying brand new. She advocated for the single working girl when none were doing so, but couldn’t advocate for a woman she wouldn’t get to see live for several decades.

Though Brown clearly lacked imagination, she taught us something so utterly American it’s surprising no other womens’ magazine but Cosmo had captured it so fully until she did. Want to look sexier? You can! Want to move up at work? You can! Want to sleep with a married man? (You get the picture). Women’s magazines have always been about wish-fulfillment, but Brown took it a step further. She identified with the American impulse in all of us, that hard work can totally transform a woman physically, emotionally and professionally.

We need only look at the covers of women’s magazines, the Amazonian goddesses on billboards and ads, to appreciate her legacy: I can make my own money. I have. I work all the time. Who doesn’t? I’m single or attached or whatever, and I’m fabulous.

As I’ve stated before, I know a lot about a few things. This piece comes from some of that.

A Few Photos Of The Most Exciting Season Of The Bachelorette Of Our Time

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Who will Emily end up with?!

Even she doesn’t know.

BTW it was Jef in the most surprising ending ever. I will admit that I thought Arie had this one. I will also admit that I cried real human tears during the finale.

Oh but then this fashion moment happened this season:

And, this. Ryan, let me know where I can purchase this shirt. I’m assuming Express Women.

A Goodbye

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There are lots of reasons I love Nora Ephron, but I think perhaps the biggest is how relatable she was. Not even to my set of life experiences, but how comfortable she felt, like my mom or my grandmother or my aunt. She even looked sort of like them. She wasn’t just relatable in one medium; not just her romantic comedies or her essays or her journalism or her novels. All of it was good. She was the kind of writer and thinker I’d like to be; funny and self-deprecating and honest. Even the serious stuff wasn’t serious enough to be dull.

The only way I could think to memorialize Ephron in a succinct manner that hasn’t been summed up with this excellent obit from the New York Times, as well as numerous other sources (though I do think she would have been a great subject for The Last Word) was to excerpt a section of my thesis paper, where I couldn’t avoid talking about her even if I tried (even though the topic was hardly all about her). Here, I use Ephron’s personally revealing writing to make a larger argument about the state of women of her generation. So thanks Nora, for letting me bastardize your life, in this discussion of an article you wrote about Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown in the February 1970 issue of Esquire:

This article, which was eventually republished in Ephron’s book of essays, Wallflower at the Orgy, is a fascinating look at the Cosmo girl way of life by a woman who was part of the media, but also profoundly affected by the conflicting messages she was receiving as a feminist and as a woman. Ephron was a strong example of a woman who was stuck between the Cosmo girl and the Ms. woman; she expressed an interest in maintaining personal attractiveness, but questioned cultural demand for it. Of Brown, Ephron wrote: “She is demonstrating, rather forcefully, that there are over 1,000,000 American women who are willing to spend sixty cents to read not about politics, not about the female-liberation movement, not about the war in Vietnam, but merely about how to get a man.” This comment was clearly aimed towards the writers of Ms., who featured more articles on political issues that Cosmo often trivialized or barely talked about. Yet Ephron had a point: Cosmo was more fun to read than Ms., as indicated by the vast difference in their readerships. Ephron herself explained that her often-complex relationship with the magazine existed primarily because she did not feel she was the magazine’s target audience – “I have not been single for years” – but she was still “suckered in” by its headlines. “Yes, I should know better. After all, I used to write for Cosmopolitan and make this stuff up…Buy a padded bra, the article on bust lines tells me. Fake it, the article on orgasm says. And I should be furious. But I’m not. Not at all. How can you be angry at someone who’s got your number?” Here, Ephron confirmed that even the most knowledgeable women were simply looking for answers, something Cosmo’s traditional prescriptions provided, however limiting the method or the results.

Ephron was an excellent example of a “new woman.” She did not fit into the archetypes associated with a woman who read Cosmo or a woman who read Ms. She remained at the edges of the New York women’s movement, keeping her distance from activism. In another essay in her anthology written in May 1968, she described a makeover she received courtesy of Cosmopolitan as one of the most depressing experiences of her life, although she had gone into it willing to be transformed. Ephron explained that originally, Helen Gurley Brown had edited her essay so that it became a description of an upbeat experience. But the anthology contains the original piece. “Like most of my friends who have been overexposed to fashion magazines, I had come to believe that cosmetic and plastic surgery could accomplish anything. Perhaps plastic surgery – but I am here today, with my long face and drooping eyelid, to tell you that cosmetic surgery can do close to nothing.”

Why did Ephron find her makeover so depressing? Perhaps because nothing permanent about her looks or her life had actually changed. Ephron explained that she has been looking at magazine makeovers for years, but in her experience, the makeup washes off, the hair goes back to what it looked like before, and you are left with what you started with. After the makeover, Ephron wrote that, “I looked exactly like Nora Ephron used to look. Only a teeny bit better.” She had experienced most feminists’ greatest problem with “deep-cleavage feminism”: It offered only a fleeting path to liberation. Nonetheless, Ephron represented the woman who responded more to Cosmo’s strategy than to the daunting and fiery language of Ms., with its goal of consciousness-raising at all costs and its dismissal of issues of beauty and body image that preoccupied most women. Though it was frequently dogmatic, not to mention repetitive, Cosmo certainly covered body image issues that most women were immediately concerned with more often and more thoroughly than Ms. ever did. Brown never considered that she could be entrapping women even while advocating for them, which may be one reason by feminists never targeted Cosmo like they did Playboy, which was more flagrant in its sexist expectations of women. In Brown’s own way, she did represent a “real” woman – a woman who was unsatisfied with the way that she looked and acted, and wanted to be the best she could be. Even women like Ephron could identify with such dissatisfaction. But, the confidently liberated women of Ms. magazine seemed far out of reach for most, and were more difficult for everyday women to identify with.

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