Friday, February 29, 2008

in preparation for women's history month

It's upon us, ladies. Women's History Month kicks off tomorrow. I have to be honest. I've never done anything even remotely noteworthy for Women's History Month. So this year I'd like to be more proactive. Women's History Month is about honoring women and having space set aside to acknowledge not just the achievements, but the advancement of women. We spend a lot of time fighting and debating and calling bullshit, and all that's super important. But it's also is important to take note of how far we've come, something that's admittedly hard to do when so often it feels like we're regressing.

In trying to think about what to do, I came across this list on, which features some really good ideas, like:

*Giving your daughter or niece a biography of a woman who accomplished important goals in her life.
*Doing the same for your son or nephew (yay to the author for including boys!)
*Drop into conversation, a few times this month, something about a woman you admire.
*Plan a trip to a site honoring women's history.
*Nominate a woman to be on a stamp.

One small thing I'm going to do (and you can too) is nominate my favorite female bloggers for the Women's Voices Making History contest. They're taking nominations through March 21, after which they'll list the top 10 female bloggers at and ask you to vote for your favorite.

Check it out!


Thursday, February 28, 2008

I just don't understand!!!!

Rape is NOT funny.
It's never been funny.
What is wrong with these people?!!
Why would ANYone wear this shirt?

I'm too mad to write anything else here.

Have a look for yourself.

Thanks to Feministing for bringing this offensive crap to our attention.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

off to whidbey island

Tomorrow morning I'm flying to Washington State to attend the Whidbey Island Writers Conference.

Writers conferences are both awesome and exhausting. I'm "invited," but it's definitely work. My fellow editors and I (along with a bunch of agents, too) will sit on panels and listen to lots and lots of pitches. And I'm doing two "fireside chats." It's very FDR.

The coolest thing, as it turns out, is that I'm staying at Hedgebrook, a retreat center for women writers. Kindred spirits!

Our own Michelle Goodman, author of The Anti 9 to 5 Guide, wrote this piece about her 16-day stay at Hedgebrook last year. I was in Seattle two summers ago when Gloria Steinem was a resident there---and word was out. I heard about it at Elliott Bay and sipping coffee on Capitol Hill and Queen Anne. I felt super excited, and I was miles and a ferry ride away from even being within shouting distance.

So today, when I heard that the guy who heads up Hedgebrook needed to speak to me urgently, before my arrival tomorrow, how could I not jump to the obvious conclusion? Yes! Someone famous is going to be there and there's important protocol to attend to! I was fantasizing about who it might be: hooks, Faludi, Ehrenreich. Alas, no. He just wanted to extend a personal invitation to attend group dinners. But hey, I'm looking forward to meeting the women at Hedgebrook. And to the writers conference at that. For all the hard work and occasional crazies, conferences also remind me what's wonderful about book publishing: the writers and their dazzling passion for their work.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Movie a colossal let down

Let me start by saying that I love movies. OK, let's also say that I love TV and awards shows too. Might as well get it all out in the open. Oscar night is big for me. I invite a few friends, and then I proceed to shush them throughout the show because really, I want it to be festive and celebratory, but I want to hear every word. I'm weird. I know. All of this is just a background to say that because I love movies, generally, I'm a great date. Example: the boys and I watched Transformers this weekend on Comcast, and I liked it. The movie was so much better than I thought it would be. I was pleased. I've also seen the likes of 27 Dresses, National Treasure (one and two), and the Benchwarmers. You get the idea.

So I see this preview before some movie I've rented for an actiony Clive Owen (always a good thing, right?) flick. It looks good. It looks fast paced and there's Clive, and it's got British accents, and so I rented it. It's called I'll Sleep When I'm Dead. Have you people seen this movie? DO NOT RENT THIS MOVIE.

Despite a meandering plotline, undeveloped characters, and freakin' making us feel like there's no reason to give a shit about the movie at all, it was offensive. A male character, Davey, played by Jonathan Rhys Myers gets raped by another man early in the movie. You get the idea you're supposed to know why this is happening, but you don't. It's an upsetting scene of course. But then Davey goes home, gets in his tub, and slits his own throat. And the rest of the movie involves Clive Owen and his posse from the old days slowly and in the most boring way possible, coming out of hiding in the forest, to avenge his brother's death. There is much talk from different characters, including the forensic pathologist, who surmise that Davey clearly killed himself, "AS PEOPLE OFTEN DO IN THESE SITUATIONS" when they're raped.

I'm sorry. WHAT? The one woman in the movie is Charlotte Rampling. You see her occasionally, but you don't know how she's connected to dead Davey or Clive, and she speaks very few phrases. She's useless. Oh wait, there's Davey's landlord too. She is an imbecile. I mean seriously, she is barely understandable when she speaks.

Ugh. It was bad. Really bad. Now maybe you all will send me clips from review sites where they warn people off of this heinous flick, and that's my bad. I didn't check any sites before renting. But if I can spare someone else, I'd like to.

National Treasure II is an Academy Award winner compared to I'll Sleep When I'm Dead. I'm sorry Mr. Hodges. Get Carter, Croupier . . . much, much better.


Monday, February 25, 2008

bitches get stuff done!

Check out this SNL clip, which can no longer be viewed at YouTube because NBC pulled it.

It's hilarious, and right on. Hell yeah, bitches get stuff done. And if you want to defend Hillary and put an end to all this crazy talk that being a bitch is somehow a "problem," purchase one of these:

Available in cuter models at


Saturday, February 23, 2008

A moment of silence for Lawrence

There's lots of sad news in the world, but this article really got to me today. Boy's Killing, Labeled a Hate Crime, Stuns a Town

Lawrence King was a 15-year-old eighth grader who was already out. He rocked his favorite boots, and he wasn't afraid to show his true self. In eighth grade! That kind of confidence is something to be celebrated.

Unfortunately, seeing people who are different and comfortable with themselves despite the differences continues to scare the most fragile, sad, and angry people. I guess my desire to have a moment of silence for Lawrence, who's gone, should be accompanied by a prayer (whatever that means to you) for Brandon, the 14-year-old boy who shot Lawrence in the head in the school computer lab. What kind of life has he had?

Nothing else to say today.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

feeling emotionally whirly?

You're not alone! According to our fabulous new author Holiday Mathis (Rock Your Stars), you can blame it on last night's eclipse.

Yeah, I'm guessing that didn't even cross your mind. But seriously, consider your day. I just considered mine and I feel way better knowing that I'm not the only one feeling overwhelmed and more than a little off today.

Holiday will be posting an audio blog several times a week, so check it out. Go there right now. Take the minute and a half out of your day to just sit and think about the way that energy and the alignment of the planets and stars affects you. It's fun. It's interesting. I'm 100% sure I would have been emotionally overwhelmed, eclipse or not, but I'm excited to tell everyone that it's the damn eclipses fault.

Stay tuned and check out the book. It's an awesome gift and conversation starter!


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

settling is the new black

This month's Atlantic features an article by Lori Gottlieb called Marry Him! In it she makes the case for settling for Mr. Good Enough when you're in your thirties, because god knows, by the time you're in your forties you are so fucked.

In the worst article I've read in a long time, Gottlieb contradicts herself and tries to claim she's a feminist while spewing out super anti-feminist generalizations:

"And all I can say is, if you say you're not worried [about being over thirty and unmarried], either you're in denial or you're lying."

"Settling is mostly a women's game. Men settle far less often and, when they do, they don't seem the least bit bothered by the fact that they're settling."

I saw Gottlieb on The Today Show (of course) a couple weeks ago and I thought then, Here's a woman who is unmarried and miserable. So rather than do something positive and proactive about it, she's on a mission to prevent women from making the same "mistake" she made---of not marrying when she had the chance. She could have married any number of men, after all, when she was in her thirties and still desirable. But now she's in her forties, and no one wants her, or if they do she doesn't want them. Oh, the drama of it all.

I find this article sickening. I find the hysteria around getting married and having children (my god, before you're forty or else!) to be incredibly anti-female. And it's mostly women who are doing it to each other. Why do so many women get their panties all up in a wad over other people's decisions about partnering and child-bearing? Why do so many women assume that their goals and aspirations are the ones against which all other women on the planet are measuring their own?

Most women who are self-proclaimed feminists, and pro-woman, actually believe that women have options and that women are capable of having full lives without getting married and bearing children. Until we reach a place where lots of people believe this, and we're oh so very very from from it, we are apparently required to grin and bear it when mainstream media decides that they are going to barf all over us. Again and again and again.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

dumb and proud of it

I watch the Today Show pretty religiously. One of this morning's segments was on the dumbing down of America. Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason, made the argument that we're not only dumber than ever, but we're proud of our dumbness. And she made a compelling case. But I also don't think this is anything new. I can remember being in grade school and being teased for being smart. And I remember that the most popular girls in my high school were the ones who faked being stupid. Girls (and women) can pick out affected stupidity more easily than boys (or men) can because we see women in social situations that are mixed company and all female. Why girls are brought up to believe that the way to attract a man is by acting like you're stupid when you really aren't is beyond me, but I assure you, it's common. Sadly.

The majority of this morning's "examples" of Americans' stupidity featured stupid stupid women: Jessica Simpson not knowing the difference between tuna and chicken; Kellie Pickler making a huge ass of herself on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

Later today I was catching up on Salon's Broadsheet and Catherine Price's post: "Are we sexist in our schadenfreude?" What's interesting is the parallel here with this morning's Today segment because it's all about the way we delight in watching people self-destruct, but that women celebrities get much tougher treatment than men.

It's speculative, of course. And readers made great points, like what about Clinton and O.J. and a whole host of other men who have been as scrutinized as Britney or Paris or whatever other celebrity we happen to be collectively tormenting at the moment.

But the common thread I'd like to draw attention to is the dumb factor. No one ever thought that Bill or O.J. was stupid, and part of the schadenfreude Price is pointing to here is inextricably linked to how dumb we think these women are, and how much we're drawn to the inane details of their continual proving of our theory. It's some sort of sick cycle: The sadists feed on the dummies and the dummies provide more and more fodder. And it feels like more women are camping out in the dummy zone than men, but it could just be that the media seizes on their stupid antics more. I don't know. I do wish these women would stop adding fuel to the fire. And I do have a theory that if you act dumb for long enough you'll end up really being dumb. "Learned stupidity" which stems from learned helplessness and all sorts of other affected behaviors. Put a stop to it, girls. It's not attractive.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Texans can play too!

A federal appeals court overturns the Lone Star State's ban on sex toys. Molly Ivins is looking at us from wherever she is, and she's doing a little dance.

All right friends in Texas, run don't walk to your nearest "educational model" dealer, and holler, "I came to get me a giant rabbit dildo, thank you very much!"


Check out the news here:

And in case you're curious about other states that have these same "morality" laws, which are violating people's constitutional rights . . .

In addition to Texas, whose law has survived previous state court challenges, three other states have a similar sex toys statute: Mississippi, Alabama and Virginia. Laws in Louisiana, Kansas, Colorado and Georgia have been thrown out by courts in recent years.

Happy V Day everyone!!


happy v-day

This is for all our readers.

And authors and freelancers and friends and loved ones. We couldn't do it without you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

the curious thing about momentum

Holy shit. It's been a few days since I've been on the offensive about Hillary bashing, but today I feel like I'm being bombarded.

In today's New York Times, Maureen Dowd writes, "While Obama aims to transcend race, Hillary often aims to use gender to her advantage, or to excuse mistakes." She ends the article, "If Hillary fails, it will be her failure, not ours."

And when she says ours, she apparently means feminists, or maybe women. Regardless, it's not a very subtle distancing act.

A couple days ago our good friend Sarah posted her interpretation of the 60 Minutes interview that ran last Monday night. She writes:

"Our conclusion was that of the 15 questions posed to Obama, 11 were about political issues or campaign strategy. Of the 23 questions asked of Clinton, 10 were about political issues or campaign strategy."

It's a little scary to watch this all unfolding, especially given that we're just one week past Super Tuesday. Things happen fast. You can't even blink in this political climate without being caught off-guard. Last week Krista was lamenting the way politicians go after each other, the way they turn on each other, longstanding alliances aside. But it's not just politicians. It's the culture at large. And it's definitely media. Because it's not about loyalty as much as it is about jumping on the bandwagon.

I'm still for Hillary, and I beg to differ with Dowd. If Hillary loses it is our fault as much as it is hers---because we stand for the double standards and we buy into them, and we start to believe that Obama is more electable just because he can stand up to McCain---man to man. And I call bullshit on that. It's a lame political world we're subjected to, and it's a sorry excuse to turn on a candidate who's being set up to fail by a media superforce whose favorite pastime tends toward superficial attacks and emotional manipulation. It's exhausting, really. I know I'm tired. I can't even begin to imagine how Hillary feels.


Monday, February 11, 2008

At the drag king bar last week . . . by Ruby Vixen, guest blogger and friend of Seal

There's trouble a-brewin' in DC's gayborhood, Dupont Circle, over Club Chaos--a bar who's long running drag shows are recently in threat of being shut down by the Dupont Circle Citizen's Association. The exact nature of this trouble makes me want to walk right up to the Dupont Circle Citizen's Association and give them a piece of my mind, but I'm 3,000+ miles away in Berkeley, so I'm writing about it here.

According to one of the DC kings, it seems the DCCA is using shady tactics to prevent drag shows from continuing at Choas--they're citing "anonymous noise complaints" and an unfiled entertainer's license among their main problems.

There is definitely something else going on here though, something that looks suspiciously like a neighborhood in the process of gentrification trying to keep itself as heteronormative (and white) as possible.

In her post on, Miriam Perez writes "Maybe this is too much to ask, but wouldn't you think that in 2008, in one of the gayest neighborhoods in DC, a couple of drag performers at a local gay bar wouldn't bother anyone?"

Unfortunately, issues of privilege, access, and racism extend themselves into the queer community in creepy and deeply troubling ways. Maybe, if the performers were attracting patrons the DCCA approved of, they wouldn't push the issue. Maybe.

There are several systems of oppression at play here: white male privilege, systemic racism, classism, gentrification, etc. But any way you look at it, the underlying message from the DCCA on this is clear (even if they haven't said it aloud) if you're genderqueer, if you're not white, if you're poor, they'll do whatever they can to get you to move somewhere else.

For today, it's Ruby Vixen, guestblogger, signing off.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

united in outrage

The only response to David Horowitz's story, "Two Women Stoned: Feminists Mum," is Duh, David. Of course we're outraged. I fail to see how blaming feminists for not writing enough or at all about this story is newsworthy in and of itself. The fact is that two women have been sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery. The fact is that there are humanitarian offenses against women in developing countries and here at home every single day. He specifically calls upon Katha Pollitt and the women who signed her Open Letter from American Feminists to protest this outrage. I signed that letter, and I guarantee that there's not a single woman on that roster who's not outraged. I'm also outraged by the news that mentally disabled women are being used by Iraqi insurgents as unwitting suicide bombers. I'm also outraged by the number of atrocities that women face around the world: female genital mutilation, forced marriage, child marriage, spousal violence, rape.

I urge Mr. Horowitz to also consider that women everywhere are working and writing for change, and that there are other voices and other forms of media outside of his very limited circles. I would like to draw his attention, for instance, to a book we published last fall called SHOUT OUT: Women of Color Respond to Violence. I would also call attention to Eve Ensler's newest book, A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer, and to INCITE's The Color of Violence, and to our own Voices of Resistance. Women are outraged. We are and we have been. And the blogosphere and the handful of prominent voices are not the only women whose voices need to be heard.

It's easy to spout off about what's not being done. It's harder to look a little deeper, to consider the world outside your immediate circles and beyond your blogroll.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

marathon sex all the way

That's right, marathon sex. We've been talking elections for the past couple days, and it's time to bring it back to sex here on the women's interest blog. Here's why. Getting Off!, which I've blogged about extensively and intimately, won the BEST FOR LEARNING NEW TRICKS award in this year's Women's Health Sex Awards. Click the Marathon Sex tab to get the goods.

This is a great book. A must-read. And there's a lot to learn. More than just new tricks. Congratulations, Jamye! We love you.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

We voted for Hillary

That's right. Count our votes. We voted for Hillary. It felt freakin' good.

Last night I had this amazing conversation with my two sons, ages 13 and 11, about the primary. They'd both spent time reviewing the candidates' viewpoints on key issues in their middle-school history classes. They came home eager to talk about the real possibility that McCain was going to be the Republican nominee. (I don't think I'll ever forget this conversation we had in our little kitchen. It was so full and exciting, despite the fact that we discussed real and serious things while we took care of pet needs, cooked dinner, and they took turns answering their phones.) Needless to say, I had a moment. It was one of those rare and rich moments as a parent. You want to stop time and do a little dance. I felt lucky. And proud. But they are their own people. They are kind, funny, smart, feminist young men who are anxious to vote and are excited about the political process and how this election is going to go. They are ready to de-Bush our country. Peter, who has a louder voice than Andrew, was practically yelling with enthusiasm about Super Tuesday.

As it turned out, the timing was perfect for our spontaneous chat. I had read a few things over the previous days suggesting that those who were considering voting for Hillary should reconsider and vote for Obama instead because he had a better chance against McCain. This was troubling me. I had been wrestling with how I felt about the philosophical difference between voting my heart vs. what I would describe as voting based on the idea that strategy should outweigh heart in these times, that voting Obama was more strategic, that being strategic was typically a more Republican campaign tool, and thus something to aspire to in trying to outsmart them. (Does that even make sense? Did you follow?) So I discussed all of this with the boys. To my surprise I was not met with blank stares. (I do tend to go on about things. Can you tell? And they get blank looks often. But they didn't.) They completely disagreed.

"Hillary SHOULD be our president, mom. She's awesome."

So I stopped wrestling. I voted my heart. And my head. And my whole self. I believe in Hillary. And it took two young men who aren't able to vote yet to remind me that voting the heart is important.

Happy Super Tuesday to you.


Monday, February 4, 2008

seal's progressive books of '07

I think all of our books are progressive, but it's really nice to be acknowledged for publishing some of the best progressive books of the year. AlterNet's staff and readers posted the Best Progressive Books of 2007 last week, and we got two honorable mentions for Full Frontal Feminism, by Jessica Valenti, and Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano.

Check out the full list. It's worth getting some or all of these titles on your wish list. And congratulations to our authors, both of whom are doing amazing work and whose books you gotta check out.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

who will you vote for on tuesday?

It's not too often that I post on the weekends. But today being Superbowl Sunday and my having no big party invites and no desire to watch the game means that I'm home browsing my favorite sites and thinking about Super Tuesday instead.

We all know that Ted and Caroline Kennedy came out in support of Barack last week, complete with a brand new commercial featuring Caroline saying that there's never been a candidate who she's been inspired by in the way that she thinks people were inspired by her father---until Barack Obama.

Yesterday, Rory Kennedy (daughter of Bobby), wrote this piece for SF Chronicle, in which she speaks respectfully of Hillary, and of her desire to see a woman as president in her lifetime. She's a woman, a mother, and a feminist, but the bottom line is that Barack's her choice.

I think a lot of women feel this way. The old-guard feminists have been saying that not voting for Hillary is a betrayal. But you know what? So few women feel that way. So many respect Hillary and don't feel like they should be forced to vote for her just because she's a woman. I agree with that sentiment, wholeheartedly, even though as of today I'm planning on voting for Hillary still.

A lot of people are starting to speculate that Hillary can't win against McCain, that it's time to figure out who can take it all the way to the White House. I believe in voting your heart, but I feel like the current is starting to change. Last week I thought Hillary would take the nomination. In my opinion, she won the debate on Thursday night in L.A. But now I have a gut feeling that Barack is going to take it. And I won't be upset. And neither will the vast majority of Hillary supporters. And so we wait. CNN is actually on an hourly countdown. I heard them announce "40 hours till primaries" this morning. So even there politics is beating out the interest in sports.


Friday, February 1, 2008

Feminist Superstar

The most awesome thing (well, okay, one of the most awesome things) about Jessica Valenti is that she knows how to make feminism cool. She's accessible and funny and so super smart---and she appeals to young women. Since the publication of Full Frontal Feminism last year, Jess has been working tirelessly. She's got more books coming out on Seal, including He's a Stud, She's a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards, which is a book every woman seriously needs to own.

This post is to celebrate Jessica's appearance in the New York Times today. It's a great piece, and we at Seal would like to toast her success. We encourage you to stay tuned, cause this is a woman on the rise, and her best work is absolutely ahead of her.