Monday, December 31, 2007

Putting the lid on 2007

Yes, that's right. We're closing it up. Screwing the cap on tight. To mix just a few metaphors, we're exiting stage left, and we're not looking back (or right). We're moving on. Onward and upward. And all that crap.

Let's run across the finish line, leave 2007 behind, and dive into 2008! 2007 was a kick in the shins. Is it just me or do you feel a little bruised? The shins have been kicked but I'm scrappier for it. I've got what my grandmother used to call "vim and vigor." For all of us here at Seal, I think I can safely say that 2007 was a big year of transition, both personally and professionally. Change is part of life. Change is inevitable. Change is exciting. Change is unbelievably difficult. And change allows you to grow, but I'm not sad to leave 2007 behind. I need a break from all that changing.

Seal has seen more than its share of change this year. We're in a new location, and we're feeling good about the Seal zone on Fourth Street in Berkeley. If you're in the neighborhood, come by and see us. We'd love to see you! We'll take you for coffee.

We have an awesome Spring 2008 list on the horizon. Look for it. We're getting ready to launch Fall 2008 if you can believe it, and we're so proud of what we're doing here. Our authors are our partners, and our books amaze me every day. I am happy to come to work each day and be part of Seal. Watch out! We're scrappy, and we know it!

Happy New Year to all of the amazing women who are part of this crazy, fabulous, difficult, and rewarding thing we're doing here. I am thankful to you all! That's right, you: Brooke, Donna, Jane, Laura, Andie, Tina, Domini, Tabitha, Sarah, Jen, Jodee, Eva, Jennie, Anne, Annie, Elizabeth, Karen, Sarah, Veronica, Wallace, and to Anne, Marisa, Denise, Jill, Brittany, Hannah, Sarah, Krista R., Darcy, and so many others who helped us build what we have. Thank you!

Now go out and party. And kick some shins!


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto, rest in peace

Benazir Bhutto, age 54, was the first female to lead a Muslim country, automatically making her a heroine to many. They said on the news this morning that she was "larger than life." Her assassination is not so different from that of JFK in terms of the lasting political ramifications, and the "what ifs" that her absence from the world scene will inevitably bring up---for many years to come. This is a woman who was seen as the next great hope for Pakistan, a woman who very likely would have become Prime Minister in January. And you have to admire her, as someone who just returned from exile this very year, whose defiance and strength was probably her greatest asset and weakness, whose life has been threatened many times over, and yet who continued to push forward despite it all.

The New York Times called her death "the latest blow to Pakistan's treacherous political situation." Bhutto's death is a blow Pakistan, and a blow to the world. Dennis Kucinich said this morning: "This is a very dangerous moment for the world. The United States must change its policy direction in the region. It must stop adding fuel to the fire."

If you're not already unsettled by the instability in the region, and if you don't already think the U.S. needs to seriously assess our foreign policy in this region, get ready for the media blitz that's to come here. And just when our own candidates are lacing up their boots for heavy combat. This is tragic news, and it's world-changing news. I'm already thinking of what could have been, and about how fragile and precarious our world is, and trying to ward off that sick combination of sadness and fear that feels a lot like hopelessness.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I love male feminists

I'm going to start bringing props---books, pins, t-shirts, you name it---to dinner parties. I can't go anywhere without accidentally getting into conversations in which I end up getting teased and harassed for being a feminist. Last night I was a late addition to a close friend's Christmas dinner plans. We were seated at different tables, but when she heard me explaining to the table of eight guests with whom I was sitting (her dad and brother among them) that a lot of intersex babies automatically are assigned a female gender at birth because it's easier to correct a too-long clitoris than a too-short penis I heard her screaming, "Brooke! Stop!" But this conversation DID come out of a conversation about feminism and what I do for a living.

I was the only one at the party willing to say outright that I'm a feminist, even though my friend and her mother and the hostess of the party, and equally or more important, her dad and her boyfriend, are sooooooo feminists. Like far too many people, they just don't know it, or don't own it, because being a feminist means so many bad things to so many people. And it's precisely because female feminists are so often and ridiculously accused of being unwomanly lesbian man-haters that male feminists have to step up to the plate.

The prop idea came to me last night, for several reasons. One of the guests had brought a book in his jacket pocket, which he handed me toward the end of dinner. It was called Everything Men Know About Women. It was a tiny book, retailing at $2.95 (now $4.95), and all its pages were blank. It was silly, and the men at the table thought it was hilarious. At another point in the conversation my friend's mom suggested her husband needed an "I LOVE LESBIANS" t-shirt (the context was actually unoffensive). And if I could tack on a "THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE" t-shirt to boot, that man would be good to go. Because, yes, I want women to profess their feminism, but I want men to own it too. Only when men start owning their feminism are things really going to change. Instead, too many men take the offensive. Consider this recent book, Feminists Say the Darndest Things (link intentionally not included), by Mike Adams. A recent review said: "Claiming that 'feminist scholar' is an oxymoron, Adams asserts that feminists have no sense of humor, are the biggest censors on college campuses, lack the courage to act as individuals, engage in 'widespread academic and personal dishonesty' and attempt to solve problems by changing society rather than their own behavior."

Can't wait to read that one.

Meanwhile, fellows, feminists do love men. We just love those of you who have balls enough (penis size inconsequential in this particular area) to engage in meaningful conversation where women are concerned without getting totally offended and freaked out. Poor guys. That blank book really doesn't have to be so funny.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Seal's 2007 Book Picks

We decided to wrap up the holidays with our favorite books of 2007. These are not our favorite Seal books. And they're not books published only in 2007. These are our staff picks for the books we best loved which we read during or in 2007.

With 80% of our staff participating, here's the books we loved this year:

Krista Lyons-Gould, beloved Publisher and co-blogger extraordinaire, to whom Seal owes its very existence

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
This period novel is so rich with detail, suspense, twists and turns that I literally hated to put it down each time I was pulled away by life. It's long, which I loved, and it was surprising until the very end.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
There was such a fuss about this book, I was against reading it, but holy crap. It was one of those books I felt so grateful to have pored over. I cried. I thought more carefully about my own life and how I live it. It changed me.

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
The title speaks for itself. It helped me reframe a scary time, embrace the impermanence of all things, and see the unknown in the future as an opening I could safely step into. Pema Chodron is a remarkable woman who has much to teach us, if we're willing to listen . . . to ourselves.

Brooke Warner, Senior Editor and proud owner of the gayest calendars in the office---at least through the end of this month

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
I've been wanting to read this for the longest time and my trip to Turkey finally gave me the opportunity. Amazing. Epic. You know you love a book when there's no more room in your suitcase to bring it home and you repack to find space.

Undefended Love by Marlena S. Lyons and Jett Psaris
I've pretty much been recommending this to everyone I know who's ever struggled at all with their relationships. Yes, that would be everyone I know. I read this book in one night. It's profound and scary and grounding and magnificent.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Lame teenage disclaimer: I read this before Oprah picked it! I swear. I loved One Hundred Years of Solitude when I read that five or six years ago, and this one is better. Good job, Oprah. Solid.

Donna Galassi, VP of Sales & Marketing with a passion and loyalty so strong that she's the only one who chose a Seal book (and we love her for that)

Strange As This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake
This debut novel is a story of a West Virginia mining family and their struggle between making a living and the physical destruction of their community as a result of the mining companies' practice of mountain-top removal. I loved this book because it's about working-class people. It tells the truth about families on the edge and challenges the cliches of "working your way up" or "anybody can do it." We tell ourselves so many lies in this country and Pancake's honest, spare, and unsentimental storytelling woke me up. I am the granddaughter of a coal miner, the daughter of a Teamster, my son is a member of the IBEW, the heros in my house were Eugene V. Debs, Harry Bridges, and Jimmy Hoffa. I read many enjoyable and evocative novels this year, but this book shook me up and reminded me of something I have forgotten---that I stand with labor. The plight of working men and women and the environment do not need to be at odds with one another. It is corporate greed that plays us one against another. If you love a well-told story with characters that are pitch---perfect-true, read this book. If you are ready for a complex but personally rendered story about economic and environmental conflict, read this book. If you have forgotten that America is not all upper middle-class people with lots of credit cards, read this book.

Abortion Under Attack edited by Krista Jacob
Every voter in America should read this anthology. Everyone has taken sides on this issue, it's all become so black and white. This book informed me, surprised me, challenged me, made me uncomfortable, and made me reconsider my views. I walked away from this book realizing it's the polarization of this issue that stops us from creating services and legislation that would truly serve women today. I am pro-choice but after reading this book I wanted new language to talk to the pro-lifers. I'm tired of the labels. There's so much nuance in a woman's life and as we stand in our respective corners, women suffer and their real issues are reduced to rhetoric.

Jane Musser, Senior Director of Production and unsung mastermind of Seal's beautiful covers, designs, and general good looks

Field of Blood and The Dead Hour by Denise Mina. Mina is a Scottish writer who has created my kind of hero: a young reporter for a Glasgow paper, Paddy Meehan struggles with bad love choices, bad food choices, a bad family situation, and a bad temper, as well as blatant sexism at work. Through it all, she maintains her dark humor and bad attitude.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.
Didion is one of those rare writers who seems capable of absolute honesty, and reading about the year after her husband's death is searing and breathtaking. I couldn't put it down. And a big bonus for me, reading this book prompted me to reread one of her earlier collections of essays, The White Album. Her essays from the 1960s and '70s offer a glimpse backward, but the brilliance of her writing makes them worth reading today.

Sarah Juckniess, Creative Services Manager and our online raison d'etre who orchestrates far more things than we can ever hope to wrap our minds around

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
I've read a lot of books dealing with grief, and Didion's is the only one I feel captures the immediacy, the fluidity, and the insanity of it. Her honesty combined with her elegantly spare writing blows me away.

Strange as This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake
Gorgeous landscapes, gorgeous prose. Mountaintop removal, environmental tragedy in a gut-wrenching narrative form. Made me feel nostalgic for somewhere I've never been.

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Okay, so I'm still in the middle of reading this one, but it already gets my Best in 2007 vote. On top of Lessing's captivating storytelling, the novel thoughtfully surfaces all kinds of issues relating to women that are amazingly (and frighteningly) resonant today.

Andie East, Associate Publicist and holder of powers that make her authors and colleagues alike fall madly in love with her quirky charms

The Keep by Jennifer Egan
Egan captures a fabulous sense of mystical realism that kept me guessing what was real and what was a fabrication till the end of the book. I loved the emotional intensity of the secrets that the characters keep and though the ending was a bit of a letdown, overall it kept me interested.

Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres
I unexpectedly gave this author a ride when she had a meeting in our office and soon thereafter acquired the book. I think this was the only book that made me cry. Scheeres is an amazing writer with a frankly amazing childhood and since I'm glad I hadn't read her book when I met her, otherwise I would have been struck into silence by her amazing writer and incredible bravery.

Domini Dragoone, Production Coordinator and executor of some of Seal's most creative and cutting edge cover and interior designs

Nabakov's Butterflies by Vladamir Nabakov
I really enjoyed it because it centers around old books, my favorite things, and then adds to that the book dealer/author's stories about handling the dozen or so books he singles out. Stories about how he got them, who from (sometimes the authors themselves), etc., are topped off with pertinent historical information and anecdotes about the writing of the book and the production of the physical volumes. Conversational, academic and insider information about beautiful objects and creative process---good deal.

Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse
I really love Herman Hesse's prose; he manages to wade around in philosophical ramblings and still be completely engaging and lucid. Every time I think I have the character psychoanalyzed, more is brought to the table. . . . I enjoyed the use of an intimate autobiography-of-sorts to work through universal ideas in an organic and personal way.

Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut
What can I say? I just adore him always. He's quirky and serious and historical and sarcastic and self-effacing and witty and so many other things, but all at the same time. I never know what I'll get when I read him, but I'm never disappointed.

Jen Rios, Online Marketing Manager and major pinch-hitter and ass-kicker without whom we would be falling into a very scary end-of-the-year abyss

The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain
I always enjoy his writing. He's brutally honest, down to earth, and someone I'd love to sit down and share a good meal and a bottle of wine with.

Women & Money by Suze Orman
I chose this one because I grew up in a house where I learned absolutely nothing about money. Suzie has been my teacher. In a very honest and non-condescending style, she teaches women to be in control of their own financial destiny. And I'm all for that.

Dylan Wooters, Marketing Assistant and Seal's leading man whose optimism and good energy occasionally seeps over to the editorial department when we're lucky

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
This was an incredible book. It was frightening, uplifting, and (I'll admit it) the ending made me cry. And (I believe) it is the only post-apocalyptic novel picked for Oprah's Book Club.

City of Glass by Paul Auster
I found this one late. A postmodern detective novel that challenges the idea of identity and the role of a narrator. It's a quick read, but covers a lot of ground, from the streets of Manhattan to the Tower of Babel.

Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace
Wallace's nonfiction is amazing---it makes me think and laugh at the same time. He covers the John McCain campaign trail, Dostoevsky, and the AVN awards all in one anthology.

And, drum roll please, our magnificent interns:

Tina Sogliuzzo, Editorial intern and most upbeat, enthusiastic Seal-lovin' woman ever

Wide Open Town by Nan Boyd
One of the most engaging history texts I've ever read. Boyd is a great historian and a fantastic writer. This book makes me long for a time when there was more then just two dyke bars in the entire bay area, and jealous of everyone who got to experience this era firsthand.

Veronica Chung, Publicity intern who's stepped into the role of official publicist and to whom we are eternally grateful

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I enjoyed how she carried me through the three different countries on her journey to self-discovery. It was motivational, entertaining, and inspiring. Since I love to travel, it was the perfect book to relate to.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
It was creatively written and had great encouraging life lessons. I loved it because it helped change my whole outlook on life and made me appreciate the time I have been given to the fullest.

Wallace Stewart, Publicity intern and newest addition to the team of interns that's keeping this place on its feet

Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
An autobiography about a boy who grows up in South Africa during Apartheid, It was definitely a page-turner and very inspirational. After reading it I felt compelled to write to the author to tell him how remarkable I thought his childhood was.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

If you can't love yourself, how can you truly love anybody else?

This is our first guest post (beware, it's not G-Rated) by Jamye Waxman, author of Getting Off: A Woman's Guide to Masturbation (a great holiday gift for any woman).

If you can't love yourself, how can you truly love anybody else?
Okay. Fine. You might not be thinking so much about this question right now. Especially as Christmas turns to New Years turns to the oft-dreaded Valentine's Day (which, by the way, is hallmark's excuse for us to purchase cards and other useless trinkets to "show" our love to others), but it is a question you should seriously ponder---at least for two minutes. Why? Because you should know how to love yourself in order to really like, or love, anybody else. And the truth is that the real way to show love is to actually do love. Doing love isn't always about expensive gifts; it's also about touching, cuddling, kissing, and communicating. It's about showing love to one other. A love that comes from deep within our guts and not from other outside sources. And the first person you should do love to is---drum roll please---you! Seriously, if you don't know yourself best, pamper yourself most and love yourself longest, then how can you ever do it for someone else? Someone who's not you!

This is why the motto for the New Year should be YOU FIRST (or, say it with me: ME FIRST). That means we put ourselves before anybody else. Before our boyfriends or girlfriends or friends with privileges. We need to remember that we are the most important people in our own lives. Without us, we wouldn't be who we are today or who we hope to be tomorrow! So, if all of us told one another "you first" (at least when it comes to sex) then maybe, just maybe, we'd learn how to best take care of our needs, which in turn means we'd be able to love other people even more than we love them now . . . even if we think we give them the best! love! ever! at this very moment.

Of course, when it comes to love, there's nothing better to start with than self-love. (You knew I was going here, didn't you?) Yes, rubbing one out, double clicking the mouse, petting the pussy---whatever you call it, 2008 is the year to remember that you are the person who loves you most.

So how can you love you longtime? Let's count the ways---or at least some of the ways!

1. With your fingers. Rub them all over your body, touching places that you might not always touch. Think breasts, belly, inner thighs, feet---wherever you need it, give yourself a great rub down. Then use those fingers on your clit and inside yourself too!

2. With some toys! Not just any toys, cause Barbie and Lego won't do the trick. Use sex toys. Take a vibrator and buzz around your clit, or place it inside your vagina. Use a dildo to fill yourself up. Take a butt plug to your behind and feel overstuffed (but not in that heavy, holiday-eating-too-much sort of way).

3. Rub against a piece of furniture. Like the corner of your couch. Or rub against the seat of your car as you're driving---just remember to watch the road.

4. Take full advantage of your next shower. Let the shower nozzle spray all over your body and then direct it to the places that get you off. Afterwards relax in a warm bubble bath.

5. Mark the spots. First hit the clit, then the G-spot, and then the AFE Zone. These are all places that can feel good for women. Mentally check each one off after you're sure you've hit the spot.

For more about masturbation pick up a copy of Getting Off: A Woman's Guide to Masturbation! You'll get more than just pointers about how to get off. There's history, current events, and lots of highlights from women I interviewed.

Yes, I'm a true promosexual at heart.

Happy holidays!


Learn more about Jamye Waxman here!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Unbelievable or not so much?

That is the question.

Today, I have nothing heavy to write about. I have no wisdom. I don't want to bring your attention to the state of women. I don't want to talk about politics. And granted, there ARE many important things to talk about. (Did you read Maureen Dowd's op-ed in the NYT today?)

People. The topic is Jamie Lynn Spears. What the hell is going on? Have you heard this news? The 16-year-old little sister of Britney is pregnant. That's right. Pregnant.

"It was a shock for both of us, so unexpected," Jamie said about discovering she was pregnant. "I was in complete and total shock and so was he." She's talking about her high school boyfriend.

Does this mean she didn't realize that having sex could lead to pregnancy? Were they using birth control? Did she want to follow in her sister's footsteps? She's 16. Britney seems old compared to that. Was there discussion of abortion?

Christian publisher, Thomas Nelson was just about to publish mom Lynne Spears' parenting memoir, but they've put it on hold. Yeah. I bet. Lynne Spears Book Delayed Indefinitely

Nickelodeon, Jamie's employer (she's an actress on the kid's show "Zoey 101"), released a statement that sounds as if there's been a tragic death in the Spears family. Listen carefully. It's the sound of Jamie, Lynne, and Britney's careers dying all at the same time.

The Today Show used the news of Jamie's pregnancy as a catalyst for recommending discussions with your preteen or teen kids about the very REAL consequences of sex, and making sure that if you haven't had a discussion about sex with your kid, that you do. Now. Don't wait.

I wonder how that chapter in Lynne's parenting book reads? As if there would be a chapter about sex. HA! What did Lynne say to her girls about sex? I kind of want to know.

And at the same time, as a parent, it freaks me out. Is it Lynne's fault her daughter is pregnant? Well, no. But Britney . . . and Jamie . . . . something's not right there.

Let's just have a moment of silence for the Spears Family. The Seal intern, Tina, said, "Let's give them a group hug. And why don't we throw in Amy Winehouse, while we're at it?" Good idea.

And then, let's talk about sex. Everywhere we go.

My parting words for you are the wise words my mother repeated to my little brother, often at inappropriate and very embarassing times. "If you get it out, put a condom on it."

Words to live by.

Until next time.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

new review spot

New York-based Waking Vixen Productions has just launched a new site, Live Girl Review, which features our very own Audacia Ray, author of Naked on the Internet. Dacia's launched a full-fledged video blog review site that's going to highlight porn, websites, sex toys, books, movies, and art three days a week, with Dacia's column, "Inside Dacia's Dirty Mind," on the alternate days.

I'm already stoked because today's review is on the LAYAspot, and if you don't have one of these yet, I really recommend buying it immediately. It's that goooooooood. When you see the large cranberry LAYAspot, hit CLICK TO PLAY underneath it for the tutorial.

Bookmark it, baby.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

misogyny and politics: a new taste sensation

I love new experiences. I can't help it, really. It's an asset or a defect, depending on who you ask. I like to try new things, go new places. So I consider myself lucky this election season. Hillary is running for President. Obama is running for president. Romney is running for president. Woman. African American. Mormon. It's exciting, right? Because I'm a woman and a feminist, though, I most gravitate toward what's going on with Hillary and how her being female is impacting the political landscape.

So what is going on out there? Yes, folks. It is a new taste sensation. It's acrid, like a cotton ball wrapped in barbwire. It's misogyny, stripped bare and totally out of the closet. Forget political correctness. Forget that piddly little word "equality." Forget your girlfriends, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers. Hillary is running for president. And it's balls to the wall. And it's Hillary's balls we're after.

Consider this statement, from Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, who recently appeared on PBS with Bill Moyers to talk about what Moyers called "this avalanche of misogyny directed at Hillary Clinton."

"[U]nderlying many of these assertions is the assumption that any woman in power will, by necessity, entail emasculating men . . .

So, why shouldn't you vote for Hillary Clinton? Well, first, she can't be appropriately a woman and be in power. She must be a man. Hence, the site that says Hillary Clinton can't be the first woman president; Hillary Clinton's actually a man. But also explicit statements that suggest castrating, testicles in lockbox. She's going to emasculate men. It's a zero-sum game in which a woman in power necessarily means that men can't be men."

It's Hillary at the center of the bull's-eye: She's attacked for her laugh; she's attacked for wearing a top that's too low-cut; she's attacked for not being able to "handle" her man; she's attacked for being too much like a man. Jamieson later asks whether these types of attacks make women increase their identification with Hillary or not? Do we specifically distance ourselves from a woman who's being attacked, or do we rally and say we will not stand for this, whether we support Hillary's candidacy or not.

It's ironic this week when news is flowing out of Argentina about the election of their first female president. And there's plenty of precedent for female heads of state in countries that don't tout their own enlightenment the way we do. We have an iron grip on that moral ground we're holding onto. And yet we're witnessing a cliche so passe it would make our grandmothers uncomfortable---that a woman is somehow fundamentally flawed or incapable because she's a woman, because she can't use her uterus and her brain.

Let's call it for what it is folks: Woman hating. And it mixes real nice with politics, where everything's a free for all and no low is too low. And so as I sit on the sidelines reveling in the newness of it all, I'm also taking deep breaths and willing myself to get through it, to speak to it, to denounce it as the rot that it is, and to wish that we didn't have to sink to such dastardly places just because a woman is running for president.


Monday, December 10, 2007

and seal just keeps on . . .

As 2007 comes to a close it's pretty crazy to look back at everything that Seal has been through this year. I'll leave it to Krista to do a year-end State of Seal post later this month, but suffice it to say that this has been a year of change.

We are moving this week. This isn't the first time I've packed up an office space. It's a pain in the ass, but it's also pretty amazing, the things you come across. Packing up files and recycling old book folders is a little window into Seal's history. Official letterhead declares Seal: "THE SEAL PRESS: A NORTHWEST FEMINIST PUBLISHER." I love that. This is such an amazing place, a publisher that's managed to hold onto its small press roots and sensibility even though it keeps getting absorbed into larger and larger parent companies. Seal continues to shift and morph and move and transform. Reading through old emails, looking at the production files, seeing proofs for books that put Seal on the map---like Getting Free and Cunt; old novels that played a role in solidifying Seal's role as a publisher of cutting-edge lesbian fiction, like Out of Time, The Dyke and the Dybbuk (both Lambda Award winners), and Sarah Schulman's Girls, Visions, and Everything---is just very cool.

So Seal is moving to Berkeley. From its humble small beginnings in Seattle to a short detour to New York to landing in Emeryville and now onto Berkeley, Seal has just kept on keeping on. I know Berkeley will be a good home for Seal. Seal has a distinctly West Coast aesthetic, and Berkeley is as quintessentially Left Coast as you can get. So off to bright new pastures. Thank you to our wonderful interns Brittany and Tina for being such awesome packers, who complain way less than I do, and to Tina for delighting so much in old crap that no one wants anymore.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

bOObs are sOO tabOO

Here's something that's been bugging me since last week. The Wall Street Journal ran this great story about bra-fitting, in which they extensively quote our very own boob lady, Elisabeth Squires.

Her accreditation, though? "A Seattle-based author of a breast-health and bra guide."


"A breast-health and bra guide" which just so happens to be called bOObs. But they won't print that word in their paper. People, we are not talking about Cunt here. Boobs! So benign. So unoffensive that it's practically a kid word. I don't understand when boobs became not okay to say or print. Breasts are okay, boobs are not. Which is too bad. Look how sweet this cover is? And it's so informative and pro-woman. Go buy it for every girl and woman you know. It's a good Christmas present, I promise.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

presidential politics: a rumination (part 1 in an ongoing series)

Like a lot of people I know, I love and hate politics. It's the best and worst thing ever. It's fascinating and fun and gives you gritty stuff, like issues and values, to argue over. It drives me absolutely insane. It gets me all riled up. It gets me into arguments with people I love. There's nothing like politics to make you question how it's possible that your mother gave birth to you, or how you've been able to maintain certain friendships despite profound differences in opinion on things like abortion, war, and the death penalty. It keeps it real and gives me something to freak out over every so often. You know, for when I don't have enough drama in my life.

Ultimately, I decided to take a quiz this week to find out which candidate I most align with. I took four of them just to see what the results would be. Turns out, according to all four, I should vote for Dennis Kucinich, the man who reputedly "stole the show" at the Brown and Black Democratic Forum last week when he asked himself a question about health care. Which I found extremely annoying and not at all charming.

This being the first post of an ongoing political series (initiated by me today), I can predict with 100% certainty that I'm not voting for Kucinich. Today is the first day that I'm starting to feel that swirling sense of hope that I had way back in 2003 slowly starting to revitalize me again. Remember that expectation of not having Bush in power anymore? That sense that there was a light at the end of this long dark tunnel? This time at least we know he's really leaving. And that's something to celebrate no matter what. But as part of the admittedly underinformed voting public, I'm tasking myself with the responsibility of trying to figure out who likeminded women are voting for, who's endorsing who, and getting a sense of where we're going to land come November 08. Which cannot come soon enough.


Friday, November 30, 2007

World AIDS Day

Tomorrow is World AIDS Day.

I'm young to remember how devastating AIDS was in the early '80s, but I do. My dad came out in 1981. I was five years old. And a lot of his friends and acquaintances lost their lives. When I was in high school my dad's friend Tim hired to me work at a craft store where he was the manager. He was a good guy---funny, creative, definitely an anal boss---but in retrospect I don't blame him for being strict with a sixteen-year-old employee with serious Senioritis. One day he just didn't come to work, and there were whispers that he was too sick. When I told my dad about it he said he knew. Tim had been living with HIV. And it had progressed. I graduated shortly thereafter and left the country to study abroad. My dad called me that fall to tell me that Tim had died. I remember thinking that it was just like the sudden way he didn't come to work anymore. Now all of a sudden he wouldn't ever be around. Tim was in his early thirties.

Recently I was visiting my dad in Palm Springs. I went to church with him and sat next to a young man in a wheelchair, who was accompanied by his partner. The man in the wheelchair was gaunt, his cheeks so sunken in, the circles around his eyes so dark. When it was time to greet your neighbor he turned to me and shook my hand, and I felt like I might break it. I'm old enough now to recognize what a person in the advanced stages of AIDS looks like. They look like they don't have much time. But this young man also met my eye, and I saw the beauty of his appreciation. That he was there, that he was greeting someone new to the community. And my heart both soared and sank in that singular moment.

AIDS has killed more than 25 million people, with an estimated 38.6 million people living with HIV, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history.

We all know how destructive AIDS is, how it's creeping into communities across the globe, killing millions in Africa, infecting women, particularly women of color, in disproportionate numbers. No amount of education is too much education. Talk about it. Share your memories of those we've lost. Take a moment to consider the lives cut short of those we never knew.


Thursday, November 29, 2007


It's that time of year. People are making lists of the things they want. Kids do this, of course, but I know a few grown-ups who have lists going. One woman I know has a list she's been working on for years, and when an unsuspecting person asks her what she wants for Christmas (or her birthday), she says, "I'll have to check the list."

I should declare right here before anyone I know comments and outs me, although I am not the woman referenced above, (I swear) I can name for you at any given time, the things I want. Like right now, as I write this, the mental list is coming into view: La Creuset casserole dish, a cute black menswear vest, really thick, creamy good-smelling lotion, new glasses, a new rug for the bathroom, new towels . . . OK, you get the idea. I could go on and on. It's a sickness. I want. But the thing is--and I really get this in a way I'm not sure I have before--these are all just things. They don't matter. As Andie here in the office said recently, "It's all just stuff." The truth is, there's excitement when it's new, in the very beginning of your relationship to the thing, but then it cracks or turns gray or the cat pees on it or it's too tight or . . . . Things will always be unsatisfying.

Desire: Women Write About Wanting

Desire edited by Lisa Solod Warren goes deeper than describing a want for things. These women's stories of wanting are about deeper, more real, and darker desires. If I stop thinking about the comfort in things, the conveniences, the illogical want for a more cushiony bathroom rug, I wonder, do I really need this? No.

What, then, do I need? What do I desire? What makes my heart smile? What makes me feel full? (And I'm not talking about food, although I do often desire that too. Zachary's pizza. Oooooooh.)

What about you? What do you desire?

Until next time,

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

lesbian gang epidemic?

This is the most disturbing clip ever. I know I'm posting a lot of video clips lately, but this is too much. Bill O'Reilly profiling lesbian gangs, who are allegedly "indoctrinating the kids into homosexuality." And Bill is so concerned, so utterly disconcerted. You can see his wheels turning prior to spewing out the following insidious homophobic commentary (again, on the public airwaves!):

"It makes sense, if you had lawless gay people they would do this kind of thing. But you don't associate it. You associate homosexuality more with a social movement, not a criminal movement. But you're saying this is all over the country?"

Planting the seeds of hate. Way to go, Bill.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Looking for gifts that mean something?

Why buy gifts at all? Why does it all have to be about the gifts, the pressure to consume, to match what you spent last year, to get the thing on your loved one's list? Tune in tomorrow for more on this topic.

For today, if you've already decided you are buying gifts for others, how about making a commitment to buy those gifts from organizations that support women and their children and allow women to care for themselves? Each year we hear about important local, national, and international organizations that support women. This year, one of our authors, Dr. Patti Feuereisen (Invisible Girls) dropped us a note to spread the word about

Pass along the word. We can all join the circle of support and healing.


enough with the fembot commercials already

I threw up a little bit in my mouth when I saw this commercial this morning. That this ad is even airing on public television is so hugely problematic. WTF?


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ten Years to Life

Finally yesterday we learned what the sentence for Warren Jeffs was going to be in Utah for "acting as an accomplice to rape." Jeffs was convicted by a jury in September.

I can't explain to you how happy this makes me. Ten years to life. Only, the truth is, it's not harsh enough. Jeffs is guilty of far more than "acting as an accomplice to rape" in his role as the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like his father Rulon before him, Jeffs not only reassigns women and their female children to men he feels are more spiritually deserving, (this is where the accomplice to rape charge comes from--he reassigned a 14-year-old girl to marry her 19-year-old cousin and submit to sexual relations), but he has probably raped girls himself. It is not uncommon for the prophet to take on very young new wives. Sexual abuse is rampant and accepted in this fundamentalist community.

Why am I following this case? Like many people, I do have a fascination (like watching a train wreck) with this fundamentalist Mormon sect. I love the BIG LOVE. But as a sexual abuse survivor myself, I'm outraged that this behavior has been going on within the fundamentalist church for over a century without the law intervening. This is not TV. It's real life. Young girls partnered with older men to become wives, so that the men can reach the highest realm of heaven.

And they don't call it rape.

Income tax evasion. Defrauding the social welfare system. These are the kinds of claims that have been thrown at these white men as some sort of punishment. But they get off, and they go on forcing girls to marry older men in the church, and marry young girls themselves. Then these girls become mothers, and so on.

I wanted Warren Jeffs to face a harsher punishment, but I'm writing today to say I feel better knowing he's been sentenced in the state of Utah. Next up, we see what his charge will be in the state of Arizona, where he has also arranged under-age marriages.

I hate to tell you this, but this part is important: The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole has the authority to parole Warren Jeff's whenever they want to. Can you believe that? Most likely a board created by the Mormons long ago to make sure that government would not have more power than the church in the state of Utah. Who do you want to bet sits on this board but high-ranking church members, perhaps even fundamentalists? Let's all visualize The Board of Pardons and Parole ignoring Warren Jeffs.

Until next time.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

unacceptable forms of entertainment

This article about the halftime ritual of harassment Giant's Stadium (New York) from the New York Times is all over the feminist blogosphere today, and it's enough to say that it's disgusting and annoying and wrong and that these guys are sad and immature and lame. But there's more...

The deal is this: The guys all crowd together at Gate D and heckle women to flash them their boobs. When the women comply the guys go crazy, when they don't they boo and sneer and now, apparently, throw bottles at them. Yeah, real classy.

The article interviewed people, including one of the boob-flashers herself, who didn't think this was a big deal. When asked what she thought about the fact that her breasts were caught on cell phones, and that video clips might be posted online later (as they have been in the past) she said, "I don't care. I love my body and I like what I have, so let everybody share it." That was the female perspective. Some of the men interviewed felt disgusted, or voiced their desire that the police get involved.

This new "tradition" at Giant's Stadium is reflective of a cultural shift. We live in a world where young women don't think too much about flashing their boobs. There's not a whole lot at stake. It's probably not going to affect that woman's future career. It's cool to love your body and to be open with it. And actually, it's not the boob-flashing, per se, that bothers me. It's clear that the women do it because it elicits a provocative response. The problem here is the fact that we live in a society where baboon-like behavior is not just tolerated, but celebrated. These guys are acting despicably, yes, but their behavior is pitiful and sad and tragic. There's not enough condemning of this stupid juvenile frat-boy code of behavior. I wouldn't even want to know a man who would be part of the rallying crew at Gate D. One man said, "This IS the game." Wow. Really? It's hard to not feel numbed by a comment like that. I know there's something to be said for crowd mentality, and the quick spiral into bad behavior. But there are hundreds of men gathering there in ritual---frequently, regularly, and mindlessly. Guys, get a grip on your lives. Take ownership over your maturity. Stop and think.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

sexiest man 2007, addendum

Dear Salon,

In response to your "Sexiest Man Living 2007," I'd like to applaud you for including a woman playing a man, a cartoon character, and a spattering of older men, including the venerable Jacques Pepin. It's a truism that you don't have to be actually hot if you're good with food. I also love that you included picks by men. I always love to see which men other men think are hot. Well done.

I must take issue with Alec Baldwin. Of course, the entry comes from one of my favorite women, Rebecca Traister, who asks, "If loving Alec Baldwin is wrong, I don't want to be right." Fine, Rebecca. But it is a little wrong. Then Anderson Cooper. The man is NOT sexy. And he's a sympathy milker.

I humbly suggest drop kicking those two and adding my own replacements: Terrence Howard and Gael Garcia Bernal. Look. I mean, really. Is there any contest?

I eagerly look forward to the Sexiest Woman 2007 picks. Here's $10 on Cate Blanchett winning in both categories this year.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Tribute to Old

Hello there strangers. I've been away. Thanks to Brooke for doing ALL the blogging for Seal. She's so good at it.

I've been out of town attending my grandmother's 90th birthday party, which was basically a family reunion. My sibs, parents, and I were gathered in Colorado for the last several days hanging out with my grandma and her friends, watching a video of family photos (over and over again), and just generally enjoying each other's company. I don't see my sister and my brother very often, so it was great to hang out with them.

The most wonderful part of the trip was seeing what 90 looks like, and 80, and 70, and 60, and 50. People, I'm 40. That's right. Forty. I've been so caught up in that number since it came into my life. Seriously. It's my age, but ever since I turned 40, I've been obsessed with it. I've felt old, like probably more than half my life is gone, like death is around the corner, like I should have done so much more by know, like in each and every day there were so many reminders that I am MIDDLE-AGED. I've been self-involved about this whole 40 thing. It's ridiculous. Like no one else knows how I feel? How stupid. So I'm 40? BFD.

I have a whole new perspective. Thanks to Florence, Patti, Ruth, Janet, Teddie, Linda, Anita, Cindy, Sharon, Dori, Dottie, and so on. All of these women 50 and up are having fun. They're not fixated on age. At 90 my grandmother said, "Krista, age is a number. I don't care about the number. I care about living my life, and my friends feel that way too. Get out there and dance before your number is up."

These incredible women danced, drank, ate, laughed, hugged, shared stories, argued about politics, stole cake from others, wept, and reminded me to kick fear of aging in the ass and say yes to life.

Say yes to life!

To all my lovely older female relatives, friends, and Seal readers--check out our new title For Keeps: Women Tell the Truth About Their Bodies, Growing Older, and Acceptance

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

feminists don't have a sense of humor

Heard this song---"Mother of Pearl"---on NPR yesterday. Love it. The album is Obligatory Villagers, released in late September.

Monday, November 12, 2007

reckless mama

The medical debate surrounding Paula Radcliffe's recent win of the New York marathon, nine months after giving birth to her daughter Isla, is yet another good example of public overreaction and people dying to pass judgment on mothers for doing anything that falls outside of the "normal" parameters of socially-imposed maternal behavior.

Of course, the average mother is not going to start running immediately following childbirth. And I know from a running mama friend that you're supposed to take six weeks off. But Radcliffe had her baby in January. It's reported that she did push too hard and got a stress fracture that laid her up in early May. Tsk-tsk. But you can push too hard whether you're postpartum or not. Stress fractures are not exclusive to new mothers, nor exclusive to the base of the spine.

The "how soon is too soon?" debate irritates me because Radcliffe should only be inspiring to new mothers. She (and her stress fracture) should not serve as a warning to other new mothers. I love the mother who's interviewed for this MSNBC story, a random mother named Kristen Chase who has nothing to do with anything other than also being a "jogger" and also having given birth around the time Radcliffe did. That's like so exactly almost the same. I'm impressed they even found someone to interview who's experience is so similar. Chase is quoted saying, "New moms are extremely tired, so the prospect of getting on a treadmill or even running outside at six weeks when your children aren't sleeping through the night seems unimaginable."

Hmmmm.... I wonder if it's possible that what seems unimaginable to a jogging mother from Atlanta might not seem quite so unfathomable for a professional athlete who's previously won six marathons.

And please check out a a day in the life of Paula Radcliffe:

8.30am: Wakes, showers, feeds Isla.
9.30am: Day's longest run until 11.30am-noon, depending on training schedule.
12.30pm: Lunch.
1.30pm: Massage.
2pm: Afternoon sleep (until 4pm).
5-7pm: Training and exercises.
7pm: Shower and put Isla to bed.
10pm: Bed.

Radcliffe is on par with celebrities who lose a ton of weight very fast after having kids. We are just not like them. Can you imagine having this schedule? I'm sure it comes with a personal chef and organic meals, too. I'd like to imagine my life with tons of exercise and a massage every day, kid or not. But that's not to lessen Radcliffe's accomplishments. I think she rocks. And I think the "medical debate" is crap. That is, in my humble professional opinion.


Friday, November 9, 2007

fox is gagorific

Or, as Gloria Steinem writes more eloquently...

"Fox News shows more sexualized violence and humiliation than probably any other network--all in the name of condemning it---while under-showing violence in Iraq, all in the name of supporting it. After this video, smart viewers and advertisers will boycott Fox."

Click here and sign the petition to demand a la carte cable. It's worthwhile. The only more worthwhile petition I can imagine is the one getting Bill O'Reilly thrown off the air.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

detention for hugging

This story about the Illinois teen who got detention for hugging her friend is everywhere. I heard it on NPR on my way home from work last night. Then I saw it on two of the nightly news stations before tucking in. Then this morning it got a pretty prominent placement on the Today Show.

First of all, the amount of news coverage this story is getting is spirit-crushing. Yes, I'm propagating it, I know. But really, every night when I listen to the news, even NPR a lot of the time, I think to myself, Why do I subject myself to this? But it did make me think of Krista's screeching girl post (I'm sure some of those girls were hugging), and how adolescent girls are the huggiest bunch of people, and how awesome that is. Getting hugged by a 13-year-old is probably the best feeling in the world. I know, cause I recently did get a hug from Krista's son. Getting detention for hugging is clearly the stupidest thing ever, only to be topped by the news stations picking up the story and actually asking the question: "Have school officials gone too far?" Do we even have to ask?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

computer angst

In the aftermath of having our computers stolen, Krista and I have been dealing with file reconstruction. File reconstruction feels like a hundred small deaths, because every time you have to reconstruct one you realize what you lost---again and again and again. There are so many small things that made my day-to-day easier: methods and structures and templates. Things that I love that are now gone. There are moments when it all seems fine, and then moments when I mourn the loss of files so dear that they were like friends to me. Only I didn't realize. It's true that you don't know what you got till it's gone.

I think there's a fine balance between being grateful for what you have and having the chance to start fresh. It's like that old Girl Scout song, "Make New Friends, But Keep the Old." (My parents enrolled me in the Christian version of Girl Scouts, but Christians are all about the old and the new, too.) I'm sorry, Files. I didn't appreciate you enough when I had you. And now you're lost to me forever.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Susan Faludi is a feminist heroine. She's a critical thinker. She's not reactionary. She's always believed (rightfully so) that men are imperative to feminism. She's just smart. I like her writing. I admire her resolve.

Like lots of Faludi's fans, I've been looking forward to her new book, The Terror Dream, now out on Metropolitan Books. It got a starred review in PW, a starred review on Booklist. And then it got slammed, and I mean slammed, in The New York Times. The review opens with a sentence that pretty much sums up the tone of the whole piece: "This, sadly, is the sort of tendentious, self-important, sloppily reasoned book that gives feminism a bad name." Yeah. Ouch.

It's on my to-read list. And that's a very long list. But my reason for posting is to comment on the broader issue (read problem) of "feminism as bad" serving as a legitimate premise for a book review. I'm tired of reviewers slapping feminists in the face anytime they want to write about gender depictions in the media, or about gender roles in society at large. These are very real issues. It doesn't matter how many examples to the contrary any given person can provide to counter Faludi's assertions that, in the aftermath of 9/11, there are fewer women's voices, that the media has capitalized on men as heroes/women as victims, that there has been a huge emphasis on family values and women returning to the home. It's easy to come up with examples to counter everything under the sun, but her assertions are not outlandish. They're not even incendiary. It's bothersome that today, in 2007, a book like Faludi's is being criticized for giving feminism a bad name. Give me a break. I have a really hard time believing that the book is unreasonable or sloppily reasoned or reactionary. I don't have a hard time believing, however, that feminists scare people for some reason. But why? Most feminists are like Susan Faludi: critical thinkers who want to engage in conversation about social trends and societal values and the ways in which the media and the government and pop culture steer us, and often manipulate us, toward swallowing a worldview that goes down easier if you don't ask any questions. I'm all for the articulation of such trends resulting in discourse, even debate. But when it instead results in feminism-bashing I have to just shake my head and try to hold my ground. Because another trend, and a disturbing one at that, is the tendency to dump on feminism for the sake of dumping---and I can't think of anything less admirable than that.


Monday, November 5, 2007

top 5 things i hate about daylight-saving time

1. It doesn't even make sense. Daylight-saving time. Think about it. Saving daylight? I want to save daylight, but I've given up trying to save things that can't and don't want to be saved. An old personal philosophy of mine, adopted to prevent Point 5.

2. It's arrogant. Only a quarter of the planet even bothers. The Europeans? You bet, smarter than us. What makes us think we have any control over The Time? I mean, come on. Who struggled to make it to their regular lunch hour today? Our bodies aren't stupid. Just because we're telling our minds that it's an hour later doesn't mean our bodies are cooperating. Mine is not. At all.

3. It's practically dark outside. Yes, I mean right now. And it's 4:25. Refer back to Point 1. What's the point of saving daylight when it's dark outside by the time you get home from work?

4. It fucks with your circadian rhythms. And this is something that doesn't need fucking with. I know, because I just fucked mine up severely coming home from Turkey last month. It took me a really long time to recover. I felt embarrassed about it, actually, like it was a tired excuse come mid-month. But I'm not exaggerating when I say I can barely function in a normal human capacity. I'm like a sloth.

5. It makes you psychotic. This is not alarmist. It's practically proven. Given Point 4, it stands to reason that your sleep patterns are off. And sleep disruption is scientifically linked to psychiatric illness. As if there aren't enough things in our lives to precipitate the onset of psychiatric illness.

Okay, I'll stop here. I can only hope I'll live to see the day when we end this madness. I have work to do, after all.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

happy all hallows eve

Well, here we are. It's Halloween. Krista and I did manage to wear red to the office today, but that's where my Halloween energies end. Krista is hosting a Halloween party for her two sons and fifteen of their closest friends. I am going home, turning off the lights, and hiding under the covers so that no trick-or-treaters know I'm home. I think I did that last year, too.

Partly I don't have a costume. I stumbled upon this, but only just today. Too bad. If I could go out as Borat, maybe I'd have the motivation to brave the Castro this year. But alas, digging out my rhinestone cowgirl hat yet again because I failed to figure out a good costume was tragic last year. I think I have a mental block against Halloween. I had one good year in the Castro, and that was in 2002.

This year there is a ZERO-TOLERANCE policy in the Castro, and the one party I really wanted to go to is pretty much IN the Castro.

It's important to remember that nine people got shot in the Castro last year, and I am feeling a little vulnerable in the aftermath of the computer theft. If I start now I might be able to pull off the Borat costume for next year. All I'd really need is a huge-ass stretched out bikini bottom and a new razor.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

liars, cheaters, and stealers

We've been offline here for a few days. I had a nice post lined up, about Britney's mom's new memoir and the fact that it's being published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian publisher. I had a thoughtful draft about the many issues that brings up for me. But alas, that draft was among the many things I lost when my computer was stolen over the weekend. Yep, people, we had a break-in at our offices. Someone apparently stole the superintendent's keys, had access to our building all weekend, and stole three (yes, only three) computers. And so there you go. Krista and I are suffering from immobilization. I sat down at my desk today and immediately started clicking on my mouse and keyboard. It was involuntary. And then I just stared at my blank monitor and let it sink in yet again: My laptop is gone. Without it my monitor and keyboard are useless. Empty. Dead.

Something like this brings up so mcuh: Coping mechanisms, how people deal with hard and frustrating circumstances, why people steal, individual loss and gain, serious questions about morality. I spent most of yesterday in a fog, trying to process the immensity of what rebuilding my files might look like. I felt heavy and sluggish and lost. The reality of my reliance on that thing hit me right in the gut. Just an Oh Shit! reaction that leaves you pretty speachless.

Last night I ended up talking to my friend's dad who's a cop for the City of Oakland. I was struggling with the idea that someone would risk being charged with breaking and entering for three computers. He's attended to countless incidents where people just walk into offices as if they're delivery people, or as if they work there (carrying internal office envelopes or some such thing). It's not until people's wallets or purses or computers have gone missing that people realize, oh yeah, that friendly stranger from earlier today... I've never seen her before. The person who stole our computers didn't just walk in and grab them in broad daylight, but really, they could have. I guess I'm trying to weave a little warning into this post, but mostly it's just an UGGHHH post. I'm angry. I hate you, whoever you are. And now I'm going to take a deep breath. Cause we're going to be okay.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Go Go Ginsburg

So my son would say, "Yo, props to you dude," if he were complimenting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because of her recent talk in a synagogue in Atlanta. (No my son is not Randall Jackson from American Idol.)

Seal author, Jessica Valenti of Feministing fame reported Quick Hit: Ginsburg speaks out on women's rights that Ginsburg spoke about the backlash against women and reproductive justice when she was in Atlanta. Thank god Ginsburg is out and about saying what needs to be said. I feel thankful to her. So thankful. And then I feel greedy, and I feel guilty. Can she speak out even more? It must be hard to carry such responsibility; she has to be a loud voice for women. There are so few women in government positions speaking out for women's rights. Ginsburg importantly noted that if Roe was overturned, middle class women would still be able to obtain abortions as they were pre-Roe in NY, CA, and Hawaii, but clearly the decision to overturn the 1973 decision would have a devastating impact on poor women.

We love you Justice Ginsburg. Keep it coming. And thank you.

Until next time.

Monday, October 22, 2007

cleavage creek

I didn't get out of my pajamas until three o'clock in the afternoon yesterday. I was a little hung over. I saw a concert in the city the night before. I stayed out too late, drank too much, talked too much, maybe smoked a cigarette, definitely inhaled a lot of secondhand pot smoke. I'd watched two hourlong biographies---Reese Witherspoon and LeAnn Rimes---before noon.

I'm just setting up context for my mood here. Cause when I flipped the channel to the local news and saw this segment on Cleavage Creek Cellars I felt confused. My thoughts were forming too slowly, my judgment questionable. This is a winery up in Pope Valley, California. They've got a cool mission. The man who owns it lost his wife to breast cancer, and so he's developed this wine label to honor breast cancer survivors.

The thing is, as awesome as the concept and the awareness-building are, the name and the labels are creepy. Check out the website. And then there's this news guy who can barely contain his enthusiasm. He gets to talk about boobs, to boobs. He's talking to one of the models, saying things like, "Well, look at you on this label. You look absolutely gorgeous." And "You'll always have this label as a reminder of how beautiful you look." And yes, and no, and this is where my overindulgence from the night before was starting to cloud my thinking. I felt alternately like I should be supportive of this, and like something was so off. The women of Cleavage Creek bear their cleavage, and they have every right. And good for them! Be honored. Dress up and have your decolletage out there for the world to partake from---literally. It's good. Busts are sexy. But then, I don't know. There's an edge of Stepfordness to it, a little something about the glamour shots that makes me squirm. They're celebrating life and wine, and they look like they're gueststarring on next week's episode of "Desperate Housewives."

I'm going to ask The Boob Lady, our resident boob expert, what she thinks. Her book, bOObs: a guide to your girls is out, by the way. It's true that we can never get enough of boobs. And October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. So I'm glad for the segment on Cleavage Creek, but you know, simultaneously a teensy bit disturbed.


Friday, October 19, 2007


I hope you've all heard by now about the judge in Philadelphia, Municipal Court Judge Teresa Carr Deni, who ruled that gang rape of a sexworker at gunpoint was not rape at all, because of course, any woman who would take money for sex deserves to be raped. In fact, read the story and you'll see that not only did she decide that this gang rape was not rape at all, it was rather, she conceded, "theft of services" because the attackers, not rapists, did not pay for their sex.

This week Feministe had this post 10.16.2007
When is rape at gunpoint not rape? When it is theft of services.

These kinds of rulings by ignorant, troubled, hateful people are beyond distressing. Let's all follow the links here to complain about Judge Deni. We can do that.

How did she get to this job I can't help but wonder? Doesn't she know people in her own life who've been raped? Who does she think she is? How can someone so problematic be in a position of power like this? I know, stupid question, eh? Naive, at best.

But the brain doesn't compute this. I just don't understand. To believe that any woman, no matter their day job, deserves to be the victim of a violent crime is to believe that people with more money, who sit behind desks and lead "traditional" lives are better, more deserving of a law that supports them--even more human--than someone who sells sex to pay the bills. This is the most fucked up view of people, the saddest perception of life. Not only is it a blatant misinterpretation of the actual law defining rape--a violent crime that has long-term multilayered effects on survivors--but it paints a picture of a woman, Deni, so wounded and closed off to compassion and emotion that she has lost her ability to see how closely connected she and this single, 20-year-old mother actually are.

I am mad. We are mad. And I am so sad for Judge Deni and any woman whose case she will preside over or has presided over. How many other women has Deni shafted because she can't bear to see how interwoven her own life is with every other woman who has had to struggle, fight, and do whatever she has to do to survive?

Thank you to Gayle and Sarah for bringing this piece to our attention.

Until next time.



Oh my god! I am so excited. Jenn Pozner of WIMN (Women in News & Media), you just made my day. Her casual and nonchalant use of the word "schadenfreude" in a conversation we had this morning is a reminder of how easily delighted I am by cool words. Those of you who've seen Avenue Q doubtlessly remember the scene dedicated to schadenfreude.

Wikipedia defines it as a German word meaning "pleasure taken from someone else's misfortune." There is no English equivalent, though one is listed there: epicaricacy. But people. Please. Epicaricacy? That's way too easy to botch, especially given my track record with another favorite---specificity---which has equally confounding syllables.

But yay to schadenfreude. I need to buy Jenn a drink. But how can we not have a word for this in the English language? I can't think of any other culture that takes more pleasure from other people's misfortunes than ours. The British maybe, but not the Germans. The cool thing is that I only hang out with people who take pleasure in other people's misfortunes, so I'll find ample opportunity to slip it into conversation. "The way you get off on schadenfreude is distressing." I'll say. "Have you thought of seeking professional help?" And they'll just nod, acting like they know what I'm talking about and I'll feel satisfied.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

new girl order?

I wanted to love the idea of this article, "The New Girl Order," by Kay S. Hymowitz, which ran in City Journal recently. But it's a conservative journal and the article's tagline gives away the real intention behind it---

The Carrie Bradshaw lifestyle is showing up in unexpected places, with unintended consequences.

---and so always with stuff like this you have to know that the writer is ultimately going to go to the place where you wish she wouldn't go.

Dun-dun Dun-dun Dun-dun DUN-DUN DUN-DUN! (think Jaws)

The cool thing about what she's pinpointing is the existence of a New Girl Order, and the phenomenon of what she calls the SYF (Single Young Female)---and we've gone international! We've got major earning power, we're living our lives for ourselves, we're marrying later (if at all), we're buying all kinds of shit with our big bucks because we're not spending them on things like kids...

This trend is very real, but it's written about in a problematic way here. For lots of reasons. But one that struck me right away is the fact that there are lots of SYFs who are barely making ends meet. Hymowitz writes that one of the defining characteristics of this "lifestyle" is "long hours of office work, often in quasi-creative fields like media, fashion, communications, and design---areas in which the number of careers has exploded in the global economy over the past few decades."

But I question how many of these women are making six-figure salaries. If they're living in major metropolitan cities---San Francisco, New York, Tokyo, Madrid, wherever---they're not living this high-flying lifestyle that Hymowitz's portrays. Almost every SYF I know, myself included, is struggling to make ends meet in our quasi-creative fields.

It's a nice sentiment, though, this idea that we're living the high life. There's so much to admire! Goodbye to the limitations of our foremothers; hello abundance. "It's a dramatic advance in personal freedom and wealth," she writes. And that's true. It is.

But wait. Don't forget what this article is actually about!

Dun-dun Dun-dun Dun-dun DUN-DUN DUN-DUN!

Unintended consequences? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Fertility decline. Yes, that's correct. You didn't have to accidentally stumble upon it. You knew that that's what it was going to be about. But the notion that we're experiencing some sort of massive crisis where fertility is concerned is so absurd. Yes, birth rates are down in lots of places---mainly in Europe. And people are bemoaning it, and have been for a while. I was living in Spain in 1993 and people were freaking out about population---the decline in the number of Spanish births, though, coupled with the increase in immigration. (Bad word.) So really, this is such a problematic topic.

The New Girl Order is not at all about choices and options and the fact that women are making different decisions---including not having children---for lots of different personal reasons. It's really about our country----and now our world----going to hell in a hand basket because women are more interested in "partying on" than we are in getting married.

It's a common strategy: Tell us we're awesome but that we'd better be careful. One day we're going to wake up and regret our decisions. One day it's going to be too late. I'm getting that the New Girl Order is not a demographic this writer admires at all. I'm getting that it scares her shitless. Cause what happens when SYFs turn into SOFs? Hopefully they just party on to their graves and look back and love the life they've lived. Or, if Hymowitz's crystal ball turns out to have all the answers, they'll be miserable old wenches who start online communities for women who have too many cats, and who should've married and had children before it was too late. Unintended consequences indeed.

I leave you with this: Dun-dun Dun-dun Dun-dun DUN-DUN DUN-DUN!


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

litquake recap

Yes, I should have written about this yesterday. But it felt good to vent, and now I'm in a happier space. I'm over myself for the moment---until I receive the next submission that makes me want to put a gun to my head. No, I'm not being dramatic.

Litquake, though ... specifically, Lit Crawl, Saturday night, Phase II at Modern Times.

It was a great turnout for the Seal event. THANK YOU! to all of you who turned out. Our illustrious publisher (and my esteemed co-blogger) Krista kicked off the line-up, which included:

Julia Serano, author of Whipping Girl (June 2007)
highlight: The way Julia manages to be so unassuming and yet whips out the most profound and mind-blowing analysis about bias, social injustice, misogyny, and more. This book changed my life. Seriously.

Rachel Kramer Bussel, editor of Dirty Girls (March 2008)
highlight: Watching the audience reaction to Rachel's confession that she loves to give head and she's damn good at it. I love a woman who knows how to own up to a skill.

Jenesha de Rivera, co-editor of Homelands (January 2007)
highlight: Jinky does a hilarious interpretation of her Filipino relatives, and seeing her play out a scene where her girlfriend pretty much outs them to the family had me laughing out loud.

Samara Halperin, contributor to It's So You (October 2007)
highlight: Also laugh-out-loud funny. Samara, when are you going to write a book? I had the privilege of watching her perform again the very next night at Sister Spit, now on tour!

Victoria Zackheim, editor of For Keeps (November 2007)
highlight: Representing a different type of book. Victoria's anthology is about aging and body issues and this is a category that's dear to my heart and important to Seal's mission.

Daphne Gottlieb, editor of Fucking Daphne (April 2008) Since there's no link to just yet, I'm posting the cover image here so you can see how much this book fuckin' rocks.
highlight: Daphne's boobs. Well, yes. And her whole outfit. And her performance and her presence. It's a pleasure all around, always. Our poetess.


Monday, October 15, 2007

i care not

Warning: This is a bad mood post.

I thought about the danger of posting something about submissions---just in case a would-be author or a preferred agent were to stop by and recognize their recent project being bashed in the archives of our blog. But then I figured, A good dose of honesty never killed anyone, and maybe this blog could and should be a destination spot---hell, a hot spot---for those who wish to publish on Seal, or sell us projects.

So here's a submission category I would like to never ever see again: the How To Land A Man proposal, in any one of its various and unglorious manifestations. This submission is one in which the would-be author proposes to write a book that deals with said topic in any number of ways. I've seen a lot of these in my time at Seal because apparently our being a women's press equals---in many writers' minds---publishing projects that help women Land A Man.

And I've been patient and generous and even nice in my responses to people who have sent me projects about how wearing certain clothes or shoes might be sending the wrong message to men; about how women who are overachievers and totally kick ass can learn how to appropriately handle dinner dates so as not to scare or offend "Mr. Right"---since Mr. Right's ego would be bruised if he couldn't be the breadwinner. And then there was the one for women travelers and what to pack to snag Mr. European Right. Or a project idea about how to attract the right man to you by creating your personal space in such a way that you make him feel comfortable. A guy can have a bachelor pad, dishes piled in the sink, carpet that hasn't seen a vacuum since the previous renters, unmade bed. But the unspoken truth is that his looks and salary outweigh all that. You, women, should create a living space that shows openness and good taste and culture, because when you bring Mr. Right home those are things he's sure to notice when he's wandering around the apartment the next morning looking for his boxers. Yeah, this place is cozy, dude. It makes me want to come back here and get married and settle down and have kids.

People. No---Women. Get a grip. Please. First, if you're reading this and you've ever bought a book like this, why? If you're reading this and you want to buy a book like this, get help. If you're reading this and you want to write a book like this, go take a cold shower and sleep it off. And know that we will do our humble duty to never ever provide you with this least-favorite genre of mine.

To better days and better submissions.


Friday, October 12, 2007

wear red this halloween

Here's a powerful and important campaign that's working to call attention to violence against women of color.

Find more information about be bold be brave be red stop the violence at Document the Silence.

The organizers are encouraging people to wear red this October 31st. To wear red in protest. To wear red to be seen. To wear red to "break the silence and invisibility surrounding violence against women of color."

They are organizing RED RALLYS, and it looks like there will be events in most major cities. So check out their site, particularly if you're not a huge fan of Halloween.

I'll leave you with a message from the website:

In a Litany of Survival, Audre Lorde writes, "When we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive." These words shape our collective organizing to break the silence surrounding women of color's stories of violence. We are asking for community groups, grass-root organizations, college campus students and groups, communities of faith, online communities, and individuals to join us in speaking out against violence against women of color. If we speak, we cannot be invisible.

This is such an important undertaking, in a culture where it's difficult to launch grassroots campaigns. This particular problem is the subject of a book we're putting out in January called Shout Out: Women of Color Respond to Violence. So I join the women of be bold be brave be red stop the violence in asking you all to wear red and see if you can't find a RED RALLY in your neighborhood.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How are you feeling today?

That's right. I'm asking about you. How are you? How did you feel today?

I have a theory, but I need field work, feedback, research to know if I'm just rationalizing or if my theory makes any sense at all. I'm interested in knowing how you feel today specifically, especially if you live in the Bay Area climate zone.

You see, every single person I've spoken with today--in my smaller home world and my larger work world feels the same way today. TIRED. Not a little sleepy. NO. I'm talking exhausted. Foggy headed. Like you're walking through muck and it's sticky, and you're slow, and you just want to lie down. Right here. Right now. Just for a minute.

This morning, I could barely get up. It rained all night last night. A treat for us here in the Bay Area where we haven't seen much rain at all--in a long time. It was nice, and I thought I slept well. But now I feel like I have a terrible disease. What is it? Hey you fabulous feminist scientists, is it the barometric pressure? Did the change in pressure mess with our chemistry? Could that be it? Or is it ludicrous to put those things together? This IS my theory. Can you tell? There was a massive change in weather here. We went from really quite warm Indian Summer-y-ness to cool with big, big rain in a short period of time. I'm thinking this is the cause of my disease.

If you felt tired today will you tell me? Now if you always feel tired, no need to tell me you felt tired today again. You see what I'm saying? Let's pretend this is real research, sorely needed for an important Seal study.

And here's to tomorrow. I'm going to work toward clarity, energy, and absence of thick muck. I hope the same for all of you. (Sleep well.)

Until next time.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

when the tears come a flowing

I've pissed myself off a number of times in my adult life by crying when I was angry. There have been professional situations where I've lost my cool and cried and then beaten myself up about it later. Like the time when a woman told me that her meal was not what she'd ordered and that I must have made a mistake and that I was the worst waitress she'd ever had. Or the time my ex boss announced to the entire staff at a meeting that the mistake I'd made was due to my lack of experience. That night at the restaurant I locked myself in the walk-in freezer and bugged my eyes out in front of the blasting cold air vent to stop the tear flow. That day on my old job I stormed out of the meeting in a fit of rage and tears and got in my car and promptly ran into the curb and blew out my tire. Both effective ways of dealing with anger, I know.

I've been contemplating this thing about losing my cool over the past few days because I majorly lost it last weekend when I missed my connecting flight home from Frankfurt due to a delay out of Istanbul. The woman at the Luftansa counter was being bitchy and unhelpful. I was indignant at first because I thought I'd insist on a flight and be accommodated. But as it turned out, that wasn't the case. There were simply no flights. Meltdown ensued. I wasn't even surprised when the bitchy attendant softened even though that was not what I was after. I was upset with myself for crying. I did not want to cry. I wanted to do anything but cry. But I was frustrated and angry and totally incapable of controlling my emotions. She gave us the emergency exit aisle for the next flight out the following morning and let us use the Luftansa phone to make as many calls home to the U.S. as we wanted.

Over the years I've learned how to harness my anger. I've gotten better at getting mad and knowing how to channel my anger into words rather than tears. But not always. Men have more permission to get angry. When women express anger we're bitches. When we cry we may be perceived as weak, but generally we elicit sympathy, too. The friend I was traveling with later told me she had been shocked when she turned around and saw me crying, but that she was happy because we got special treatment because of it. Which felt strange. I got something in exchange for an emotional breakdown. I wonder how the Luftansa lady would have reacted if she'd been facing a grown man rather than a grown woman in that moment? Would she have been as sympathetic? As accommodating? I suppose this is a double standard. Not the worst that exists, to be sure, but still. There's always some reminder, if you're paying attention, about how very different men and women are treated---for better or worse, I'm not always sure.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

He's a boss, but she's a bitch, and meanwhile, smile honey

Beware people. This is an AGGGHHHHHHHH! post.

I'm going to be doing these posts from time to time. You'll recognize them. Maybe the title should say AGGHHHHHHH? The one above is an amalgam of some of the things that are pissing me off. Every day, we all face those annoying situations that make us go, aggghh. Sometimes that's a lowercase agggggh, sometimes an all capital AGGGGGHHH, and frequently perhaps, that AGGGGHH should be followed by exclamation points, expletives, and dramatic symbols that haven't even been invented yet. And let's be clear, that is not an ahhhhhh sound. It is not the sound of rest and relaxation, not the sound of Calgon taking anything or anyone away. AGGGGGH is the opposite of ahhhh. You're with me, right?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately actually, in light of this blog. What makes me react? I tend to be a fairly stoic individual. I'm calm most of the time, especially on the outside, and maybe I could even be described as quiet to those who don't know me well (although my elementary school teachers would certainly disagree--I was a "talks-too-much" kid), and then I get to that point, the AGGGGHHHH! point, and I just can't hold it in. But do I flip out and lose my shit? NO. And I find that sad. I think I need that. I think we all do. But I digress . . .

Over the last few weeks, as I've watched the news, read my news and culture blogs, tried to keep up with life--barely--I've been asking myself about my internal reactions to things. Is this an agggggh (annoying) or an AGGGGGHHH (holy crap) or worse? Is it worth posting about? That's been my big question. It's hard to know. Each day, the most annoying thing has to be ranked among the other things going on that day. Are you with me? The day I rear-ended someone in my new car? BIG FREAKIN' AGGGGGHHH! But no one was hurt, the guy I rear-ended didn't care a bit, the damage is small, (aggghh) but that dent is a daily reminder that I was stupid, that I made a mistake. In that way, it's an agggghhhhhh with staying power, like a time-release capsule or the energizer bunny. It just keeps on going.

Then there's what's going on with Britney. It makes me want to scream at my TV. I watched the Today show this morning, which I try to do once a week if I can to see what they're doing, which authors they're interviewing, what subjects they're tackling, etc. Today, whoa. A very slow news day indeed. Most of the time, there's not enough time for a big news story. You need more information; the 36 seconds allotted are not enough. Not today. They spent a long fucking time on crucifying Britney. Pundits, legal experts, parenting experts, they were all called in. Photos of Britney carrying her kids. She's lost custody of those children basically. She's been ordered to turn them over to that guy, Keven Federline. You know the one, ewwwweee.

Now I'm not saying Britney is going to win any mother-of-the-year awards. She wasn't ready to be a parent. And like so many other young, troubled women who believe that having a baby is going to fix things, to make life warm and fuzzy, when it's hopelessly depressing and sad, they soon find out it doesn't. So her troubled life continues under the intense heat of the sun-hot spotlight, but now she's a mom. And she's face-to-face in a stand-off with America's image of what a mom should be. We all face it in one way or another. Who of us could stand up to the pressure of that intense heat, that magnifying glass? I don't know what's going on with Britney, we don't hang, but I feel such sadness for her. Over and over again with Matt Lauer and the legal experts, photos of her getting her kids out of the car and over and over another photo of her glammed up for a night out. We're destroying this young woman with our spotlight. That's a big AGGGGGHH, enough already for me. I want to give that young woman a hug, and a new identity.

And then there was the deal with the man on Solano Ave. last week who said, "Mmmmmm, girl, you looking good. Why don't you smile for me now? Why you not smiling? I likes it better when you strut your stuff with a smile." What the hell? To me, on that particular day, when I was tired and worrying about work, money, my kids, whatever, it was too much. It was the biggest AGGGHHHHHHHH! of my week. I didn't want to smile. I didn't want to be polite. I was instantly mad. I refuse to go out in the world and be stepped on and then be told to look pretty and be polite while the stepping is going on. But sadly, I didn't say anything really good to that guy. I didn't smile, I flipped him off, I kept walking, but there are so many things I should have said. My polite meter is often on overdrive, and I want to stop that. I should have said, "I likes it better when you're not standing here drunk." Or, "I like it better when you shut the fuck up." (OK, knowing me, probably not that last one, although you never know what could happen on any given day?) But at the very least, "Why should I smile for you?" Has any man ever asked themselves that question? Why should I BE something for you, look a certain way, live my life to make you more comfortable?

So I leave you with that. What do you say when some guy tells you to smile? I'd love to hear. In her new book, It's A Jungle Out There: A Feminist Survival Guide to Inhospitable Environments, Amanda Marcotte deals with this issue specifically. Spring 2008. Watch for it.

I hope your AGGGGHHHH's today are aggggghhh's. Or better yet, ahhhhh's.

Until next time.

Oh, what's that? You have a question? Is the lady in Turkey ever coming back? I know, I know. That's a really good question, and I'm glad you asked it. I ask it myself. Yes. Yes, she's coming back. Back in the office next week. And that, that my feminist friends will definitely make me smile.