Friday, May 28, 2010

good question

Seven year-old Lola asked me seriously yesterday, "When you were thinking of names for me, how come 'Islecat' wasn't on the list?"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

a depressed person & a distracted genius go to the Maker Faire

Everyone loves the Maker Faire; so much that the traffic jams are unbearable. Two years ago we set out to go to the Maker Faire and gave up after spending the morning broiling in the car in a hideous traffic jam rendering 101 impassable. Since then, we've treated ourselves to staying at a hotel with a pool near the faire, a mere twenty minutes away from our home when the Maker Faire isn't bringing every sentient adult in the area onto the freeways. Last year I made all the arrangements, and we stayed in a "junior suite" which the children thought was heaven on earth. We divided our days between charging around the Maker Faire's giant crowds and swimming at the hotel.

This year the Sober Husband was highly critical of my decision to order us all cutrate weekend passes. "I can't imagine going to the Maker Faire more than one day. Why did you pay for two days?"

"That's how we did it last year," I said defensively. "Lola gets tired and wants to go back to the hotel. You can't see it all in one day anyway." He didn't buy it.

Feeling attacked, I let him make the hotel reservations. "Get a junior suite," I instructed, and he gave me an eyeroll. "I can't understand why you would pay for a suite when you're only twenty minutes from home. That's just crazy. Save that for when you go on a real vacation." Shamed, I said nothing when he superiorly informed me that he had gotten us a regular room.

When the day came, I got home with the children (Iris had a daylong field trip to Sacramento which ran a bit late getting back) to find the Sober Husband already packed. He took his usual superior attitude, smirking at me for packing a large bag when he took only his laptop case along.

Then we got to the hotel. I was appalled at checkout to learn that we had a room with only one bed. The hotel clerk had no pity or empathy. "The hotel is booked up," she said briskly. "But we made these reservations for four, a long time ago..." I said weakly.

"We'll get a roll-out bed," the Sober Husband said. But the room turned out to be so small that the roll-out bed couldn't fit in. I was livid.

I'd been in a terrible, depressed mood for days over having to euthanize my beloved little cat, and I was looking forward to relaxing over the weekend to lift my spirits. But being crammed into a tiny room was no escape, particularly with children who live in a home without cable and who consider any moment spent in a hotel room without the TV blaring Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network to be a criminally wasted moment. I gave the Sober Husband a tongue-lashing over his acting superior to me when he was incompetent at the simple task of booking a hotel room. The children murmured, "I love Mama" and hugged me to cheer me up. I settled down in the one chair in the room to finish up my solidly depressing Swedish crime novel while the TV blared, not wanting to even look at my husband.

The Sober Husband volunteered to sleep on the floor, Lola made herself a little nest, and Iris and I took the bed. This was no treat for me, as Iris kicks violently and talks in her sleep. No friend of Iris has ever gotten any decent amount of sleep on a sleepover, and in the morning I felt like I'd only slept two or three hours. Even so I'd missed the drama of the night: the Sober Husband reported that he woke up at 3 AM and realized he'd left the Maker Faire tickets at home. "I ASKED YOU IF YOU HAD THE TICKETS," I said crabbily, "when you said so superiorly, 'I am ready to go,' and YOU SAID YES."

"I meant 'yes, I'm getting them.' But then I went down to the garage to get them, and I got distracted. So at three a.m., I drove home, got the tickets, and drove back." He paused and beamed around, clearly expecting praise, but he had misjudged his audience.

"Did you let Henry out?" I asked concernedly.

"What was Henry doing? Did you see Henry?" added Iris.

"Did the cats have enough to eat? Was Henry hungry?" inquired Lola worriedly.

The barrage of questions about Henry went on until the Sober Husband said crankily, "I just wanted to get the tickets, not follow Henry around."

We got over the Maker Faire before it opened, waiting in a long line of cars to get into the lot and then waiting in a ticketholders' line which snaked around so long I wished we'd driven to the end of the line. Once we got past the security gate, Iris and I overruled the Sober Husband's objections to insist we wait in line to climb the longest ladder we'd ever seen into this year's gem of a structure, the "Raygun Gothic Rocket", a massive rocket on tall fins which were themselves over two stories high. Once our waiting was over we, one at a time with a safety line attached, climbed carefully up the long, long ladder. All the squabbling and problems were forgotten as we gazed around in wonder at the see through floor showing a moving engine below, the cases with little twitching or floating aliens, the mounted safety instructions for crew who wished to have sex with friendly aliens and more marvels. "It's so beautiful," I sighed to the jumpsuit-clad crew. Even the Sober Husband had to agree that the Gothic Rocket was a thing of wonder. "It's more stable than I expected," he observed. "With all these people in it, it's not even moving." We leaned into each other affectionately.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

captive audience

Today I sat in on a life drawing class again (a perk of my introductory drawing class). Our model was a Haitian woman, who chose an extremely difficult set of poses for us to draw. "Oh, this is so hard," mourned my introductory drawing comrade, gamely drawing next to me. "It's harder for me, to hold it," the model informed him.

In my brief experience of life drawing, the models have been silent during the poses other than to give time warnings ("One minute!"), but quite chatty during the breaks. Today, during the last scheduled pose, a twenty minute long pose, the model gave us, all of whom were silent as we concentrated on our drawing, an impromptu lecture on Haiti's relationship with the U.S., using the word "fucking" quite a few times, ending with a rousing assertion that the U.S., along with France and Canada, has stripped Haiti of all its gold.

I found this a fascinating twist on the usual artists-staring-at-naked-person power dynamic.

Friday, May 21, 2010

depressed, but with the comfort of art and a good parrot

Yesterday I went back to bed after the children were packed off to school. I felt supremely depressed over the untimely death of my poor cat, Ray Charles. A lot of friends have told me that they know how I feel because they had to put down their aged cat, and I appreciate their good intentions, but it makes me feel worse because their cats got to live out a normal lifespan, while my Ray Charles wasn't even two years old.

Ray was an unusually affectionate little cat, who was very close to me, the children, our other cat, Henry, and all foster kittens who passed through the home. He was a very small black cat with a crooked tail and a raucous voice which was evidence of some Siamese heritage (you would be surprised at how many feral kittens in San Francisco are clearly half Siamese. I think there are a lot of owners of Siamese cats who don't neuter). Until he became very ill, he was a huge presence in our home, a very small black cat with a big voice and a big personality.

I didn't want to get up and face the world. Eventually it got to be near one o'clock, when I had said I would help the lower school art teacher set up the annual art fair. I considered not going. After all, I'd helped out the day before, and also I might not even be missed. There would be other volunteers. But I do love the art teacher and the art festival, and I hate to be a flake, so I dragged myself into the shower just before 1:00. I was twenty minutes late and profoundly depressed when I showed up, but I made up for it by staying late, fetching Lola and Iris at dismissal time and getting them to help as well, until the art teacher assured me there was absolutely nothing left to be done.

The sun shone (although a strong, chilly wind blew, detaching the "Welcome to the Art Festival" banners twice). The children's art was magnificent. I particularly fell in love with the third grade's series of "Beckoning Cats": they'd taken a field trip to Japantown and then each made a smiling, waving cat sculpture. These cats had so much personality and verve and color.

Last night my parrot sneaked into bed with me and slept on my pillow. I didn't get up and put her back on her parrot tree. I miss sleeping with Ray Charles (there was a lot of rivalry, bragging rights attached, over who Ray chose to stay with for the night, whereas no one ever wants poor old drooling Al, the cat who is allergic to his own teeth, and the other cats aren't particularly snuggly). Parrots aren't snuggly at night either, and they don't purr or have fur, but it was somehow comforting to have Pigwidgeon dozing on the pillow.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lola is a native San Franciscan

Every week Lola brings home a sampling of her work in the first grade, usually a set of worksheets she filled out in the classroom. This can be a monotonous thing to review, pages of 2 + 2 = 4 and "underline the long vowel sound", etc.., etc.., but it is well worth a careful examination, given that the unique genius of Lola somehow leaks through at times, even on the most boring of worksheets.

Today I found a sheet where Lola was instructed to "Make a picture of four squares. Put a squirrel to the left of the first square. Put a squirrel to the right of the second square. Put a squirrel over the third square. Put a squirrel under the fourth square." Lola obeyed these commands, and then went on to squeeze into the margin a picture of a fruit tree, a peace sign, two cats beaming at each other, and three stick figures hugging each other and smiling. Where Lola was supposed to practice writing the word "square," she wrote (continuing this onto the back of the page) the following ode to the square:
A square, each of its sides with equal rights, loving nature. building a tree. The square is a Happy Hippie like me. Be nice to Squares. Raise them in your mind. When 18, let them free.

RIP Ray Charles

My little cat, Ray Charles, who was less than two years old, died today due to feline infectious peritonitis. Poor Ray had a really rough life: found feral in a junkyard, blinded in one eye due to a feline herpetic infection (this was cured with intensive treatment from a feline opthalmologist), and not adopted after spending two months at the city shelter (please, people; consider the BLACK kittens and BLACK cats. Don't pat yourself on the back for your originality in seeking out an orange cat or another exotic color. It's the black cats who need you). Ray went up for adoption with his silver tabby sister, who was snapped up within two days despite the fact that her vision was severely limited in both eyes, but the people who adopted her weren't interested in taking Ray as her companion. The Sober Husband kindly gave me Ray for my birthday, as I felt horrible that no one had adopted him, and Ray turned out, for the short time we had him, to be everyone's favorite cat. Always snuggling with us and seeking human contact, he was nicknamed "Baby" and beloved by all.

Ray especially loved kittens and interacted nonstop with all the litters we fostered last year. He groomed them, slept with them, and roughhoused with them, making up for their own too early separations from their own mothers. It won't be the same fostering without him.

Lola's best friend from kindergarten was hugely attached to Ray Charles and told everyone, "When Ray Charles dies, I will die!" At the time, I assured her Ray would live a long, long time. Hopefully the untimely deaths will stop with this one. RIP Ray. You were really ripped off in life in so many ways, and I will miss you always.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

a seemingly innocent thing

Today I got a message that Iris had injured her head at school and that I needed to pick her up. I was worried as I drove over, thinking it must be a concussion or something needing stitches. I'd barely parked when our unflappable office manager led a softly crying Iris out to my car, with an icepack on her head.

"What happened, Iris?" Between sobs, Iris said she'd been struck in the head with a recorder by accident. I asked who hit her, and it was a friend, a very warmhearted girl I knew would never physically attack Iris. "It must have been an accident," I said. "But. I just can't visualize it." I couldn't imagine a recorder doing that much damage unless it had been forcibly whipped onto Iris's head with both hands, and I knew the girl in question wouldn't do that. Iris couldn't understand it fully, either. I went ahead and claimed little sister Lola early and took them home, where I gave Iris ibuprofen, put her to bed, and later fed her comfort foods: soup, edamame, and ice cream.

The music teacher called to check on Iris and explained. She hadn't seen the incident but had reconstructed it after the fact. Iris's friend was walking across the classroom on her way to sit next to Iris. As she swung her recorder in the air as she walked, the bottom piece of her recorder flew off, and the rough, somewhat jagged metal inside piece, exposed only when the instrument was taken apart, struck Iris's scalp. "There was a lot of blood," said the teacher sadly.

It made a little more sense when it was explained. The music teacher started to explain how terrible Iris's friend felt, but I cut her off. "We know it was an accident. I knew as soon as I heard who it was that it was an accident."

Having been afflicted by a loathsome clarinet for many years of my childhood (I got stuck having to take the clarinet because my parents had bought one for my older sister, who quickly gave up on it, and already having one musical instrument, they had no interest in buying another), I always instinctively mistrusted the recorder, the clarinet's cousin. "It's the devil's own instrument," I said to Iris, who sobbingly agreed.

Monday, May 17, 2010

the attention of the media

Over the life of this blog, I've been interviewed by the "Wall St. Journal" and by "Time." However, the real incisive questions came from the iInterview blog. Enjoy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

everyone can draw -- and glue things on paper

I've been busy lately on an Art Spree: I'm taking two art classes (a mixed media class and "Everyone Can Draw") and sitting in on a third (a life drawing class, with live nude models). This has been taking up most of my time and energy, aside from the children, and it's been fabulous.

Moving from discipline to discipline at the arts studio, I've been surprised to see how different the people are who gravitate to different kinds of art. Last year I devoted myself to sculpting in clay, and my ceramics classes were a mixed bag. Before I even started my first class, the instructor called me to try to talk me out of my spot in the class, as I'd accidentally taken a slot that she'd rather give to one of her long-term students. I declined to give up my class slot, and it shouldn't have been a surprise to me that I was, as I put it, the red-headed stepchild of that class, since I was clearly a brash interloper who seized someone else's rightful place.

The instructor wasn't particularly interested in instructing me; she spent considerable time each class bragging about developments in her own career. She was interested in functional art, while I was drawn to making little statues of animals. It's clear (if I immodestly say so myself) I have a certain gift for making charming little clay figures which have personality, but I didn't learn a damn thing about how to glaze them. Even my classmates were moved to compliment some of my pieces a lot. "You nailed that, you really nailed it," they said about a little rabbit. "Look at how his neck turns!" Sadly my best sculpture, a little wildcat, was shattered by a heavy crystal frame falling on it.

The typical person in my ceramics class was a wealthy, retiree from Marin. They had a clique which had strengthened over the years spent making pots together, and many of them weren't eager to welcome anyone in. When I was working with porcelain clay on the work surface reserved for white clay only, several classmates came up to mistakenly scold me that I shouldn't be there.... all of them having witlessly failed to notice that I was working with pure, white porcelain just like I was supposed to. I snapped and said to one of them, "I've been doing this for nine months; when are you going to stop treating me like a newcomer?" This prompted another senior citizen ceramicist to apologize to me, in private, for the rudeness of the rest of the class.

The ceramicists' rudeness wasn't limited to newcomers. One of the core members of the class regularly committed one of etiquette's greatest faux pases: discussing a social event in front of others who are not invited. She held an annual Oscar party, to which only one of the classmates was invited, but she spent months discussing her menu in front of the rest of us. (This woman also nearly ran me over with her minivan, which she illegally drove through Golden Gate Park at a high speed when she was dropping off alcoholic drinks at our last class. She was also fond of discussing in class how she maintained a legal residence in Texas so she could avoid the California income tax).

While the aging ceramicists can be a rough group to breach, collage enthusiasts tend to be warm, friendly, and admiring of each other's work. My current collage class is composed entirely of women, who are all lookers, of various ages. (I would strongly recommend any single heterosexual man or lesbian woman who likes artsy women to take a mixed media class. The pickings are excellent, my friends). Two are French women, who are as thin and chic and emotionally complicated looking as all the cliches we hold of Frenchwomen. Their accents are as sexy as their intricate, form-fitting clothes. The Americans are beautiful and sweet and earnest, and everyone has the loveliest manners you could wish for, all finding something to admire in everyone's work. And my God, these women do good work. When we were assigned the homework of making an autobiographical collage, I thought the pieces a couple of my classmates brought in were worthy of hanging in a gallery. We passed our pieces around and discussed each one, and pretty much everyone was glowing with a love of art and each other's work.

I've taken several classes with my collage teacher, whom I like very much, and it's paying off. I am a slow learner at collage, and the techniques she taught me last year are now (at least some of them) something I can deploy on my own. My classmates often admire my work, but I tell them it's only because this is my third class. "But you have an eye for this," one kindly persisted.

And then there's the introductory drawing class. This class brought out a big split in generations, with a sizable number of retirees but also quite a few twenty-somethings, with your redoubtable correspondent representing the middle-aged. As predicted by our instructor, quite a few students dropped out, but those who remain are delightfully humorous and charming, as well as hard-working. By this point in the class, there's a feeling of industry -- industry which pays off. Each week our drawings are better, clearly better. And four of us have been sitting in on the life drawing class, and together we have developed the ability to calmly watch a naked lady contort herself and get a reasonably accurate rendition of her down on paper. Sitting together in a group on one side of the class, we don't really stand out too much from the highly accomplished artists we are joining. One of those artists made friendly conversation with me one day, inquiring, "What medium are you working in today?"

"Oh, I thought just pencil," I said breezily. At least I had an artists' pencils package, twelve pencils sorted by hardness, all sans eraser, rather than a regular old yellow #2 pencil, but I didn't feel much more sophisticated than a child.

The drawing instructor can find something praiseworthy in every one's drawings, and she takes such happiness in seeing us progress. She remarked to me after a life drawing class, when we were aahing over a fellow beginner's beautifully proportioned nude, that at this point in her career, she's never going to make a giant leap of progress, and it's such a joy to see it in us, the beginning students. If you were to look at the pictures some of us drew at the first class and what we are drawing now, you would never think it was the same person's work, done only a few weeks apart.

It's been fun, fun, fun, people, and my art has been improving steadily. On the other hand, there's plenty of work to do. Lola continually gawks, saying, "Why would you take a CLASS with HOMEWORK?" Both children can be sucked into my homework at times. They made lovely color wheels when I was doing a lesson on color theory. Lola even wrote on a class assignment that she loved her Mommy because her mommy is "loving and spoiling" and that her favorite things to do with Mommy were "foster kittens, play with cats, and make collages."

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's day

me and lucy wish you a happy mothers day with these photos of us.

Friday, May 07, 2010

a cutting remark

First grader Lola was pretending to tell someone off. Putting her hands on her little hips, she sneered, "You wanna organize a sock drawer, SUCKAH?"

Thursday, May 06, 2010

how did these two crazy kids end up married to each other?

For a week I didn't have a single alcoholic drink, as I had a sore throat, which led to a head cold, which in its turn segued smoothly into a sinus infection. I never drink when I'm ill; my body craves fresh vegetables and ginger ale at those times (I did feel better enough to enjoy a fine margarita on Cinco de Mayo, made with tequila infused with strawberries. I infused the tequila aeons ago and hadn't gotten around to trying it, and it's magic, folks, magic. An amazing, amazing flavor. I strongly recommend to all of you who drink that you pick up a pint of strawberries, rinse them and trim them and chop them up a bit, put them into a Mason jar, and then fill it with a decent tequila. Let it stand for several days).

Meanwhile the Sober Husband has been busy with a lot of pseudo-work, pseudo-social engagements involving drinking: I've been sober, and he's been imbibing. Last night he complained bitterly. "I had to drink beer three days this week. I don't want to drink beer three days a week!"

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

the rationale

At our house we have rules about food, rules which were forged in days of conflict and negotiation after a final, fateful tantrum thrown by the Drunken Housewife over ungrateful children whining over their nice meals. In the years since the Food Rules were created -- in a convocation practically rivaling that of the Original Founders --, peace has largely reigned, and everyone lives by the system.

That doesn't mean that there isn't scope for the lively young mind of seven year-old Lola, though. Tonight the children were eager to be deemed "dessert qualified", as, wonder of wonders, for once we had an actual dessert on hand, a lemon cake. To be "dessert qualified", a child must have eaten a reasonable portion of dinner (and there are all sorts of rules about how a child cannot be required to eat something she genuinely dislikes, but she must try a new food in good faith, assuming Mommy has left out all ingredients acknowledged by all as loathed by the child in question, etc.., etc...).

Iris was clearly dessert qualified, having mowed through a large amount of roasted asparagus, but Lola was not. I suggested that if she finished the piece of asparagus she had in her hand, we'd call it a day and let the cake be served. Lola moved her eyebrows up and down quizzically, and then explained, "Since we are vegetarians... and since we eat so many vegetables.... we are pretty much made out of vegetables! So this is like meat! It's like me eating meat!"

She looked at me to gauge the effect this had had, and then carried on, slightly adjusting her tack. "And since we're pretty much made out of vegetables, what's the point? Why should I have to eat this? I mean, come on? I'm made out of vegetables!" She brandished the piece of asparagus with disgust. "Now, what should I do with this?"

Saturday, May 01, 2010

is it the Christians or is it "The Man Show" to blame?

As a feminist who is raising two girls in a screwed-up culture (albeit one I'd pick quickly over any country which forbids women to drive, vote, or go about unveiled), I am a sucker for a good feminist screed. This week I read two attempts to pin down What Is Wrong With How The U.S. Treats Women to a single, predominant cause: "Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism's Work Is Done" by Susan J. Douglas (Henry Holt 2010) and "The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession With Virginity Is Harming Young Women" by Jessica Valenti (Seal Press 2009).

Ms. Douglas says what is wrong with our culture is a snarky, backlashy attitude that feminism is no longer needed. Pop culture tells us that women have already won the war and now it's time for them to relish their own special power, the power of their sexuality. A way for a powerful woman to assert herself is for her to wear skanky clothes and revel in how men are reduced to mush in her presence. "Lad mags" like Maxim and shows, like "The Man Show", all present beautiful young women in as little clothing as possible as holding the ultimate in power, and they do it all tongue-in-cheek. If a layer of irony, a little knowing nudge-to-the-ribs that we all know something is playing with sexual stereotypes, is pastiched over some ridiculously sexist looking display, then it's okay by modern standards and only a ridiculous, hairy-legged, humorless old feminist would object. A modern woman knows she should exploit her special powers and rejoice that she is sexy as well as smart.

As Douglas points out, one of the problems with this is that it only works for young, white women who are a size two or smaller. I would go even further and say that it doesn't even work as it is posited to work. I experimented in my early twenties (as a dear old friend reminisced once, "I remember when you were a sexbomb") with running around in rather extreme clothes, bustiers and miniskirts and latex, and it didn't, as Maxim claims, reduce everyone around me to my drooling slave. It didn't empower me at all. It empowered the louts around me to leer, make disgusting remarks, and try to reach up my skirt (although perhaps I should note that there was a fellow of my acquaintance who made the serious offer to be my house slave and to live as the unpaid servant of my first husband and me. I rejected this instantly without thought, although my ex would have relished the set-up). Similarly the drunken college girls who climb aboard the Bang Bus don't seem to be given any power in that situation by their youthful good looks or sexuality.

Meanwhile Ms. Valenti also whipped up a brew of pissed-off erudite feminism over the same state of affairs, but she's blaming it all on the charismatic Christian virginity movement. As someone who feels forever scarred by her extreme born-again Christian adolescence, I like to keep an eye on what the Pentecostals are up to, and I found it odd that Ms. Valenti missed a lot of it. Like her, I'm pretty disturbed by the purity balls, where born again Christian girls go to oddly sexualized formal dances with their fathers, where they pledge their virginity as their father's personal property. The girls are often given necklaces with little locks on them, and the father keeps the key, which is intended for him to give the girl's husband eventually. I think this bothers me even more than it does Ms. Valenti; by making a girl's purity a physical possession of her father, which gives him pride and esteem, I feel like this branch of Christianity is teetering dangerously towards the honor killings of Muslim societies. Also, Ms. Valenti somehow missed the whole "I gave up dating for Jesus" movement, where teens and singles are pressured into giving up dating entirely and a kiss, a simple kiss, mind you, is viewed as something which must be saved for marriage. I fear for the poor girls in a subculture where just a kiss is viewed as a permanent cause of impurity.

Ms. Valenti discusses the ugliest side of lad culture, "The Bang Bus", but somehow she doesn't see or ignores the message sent by lad culture which is the entire subject of Ms. Douglas's book: the pretense that glorifying women's sexuality and beauty gives them power and that if we are ironic in our use of sexist cliches, it's only the humorless who are upset at them. Instead Ms. Valenti thinks it's all down to the glorification of virgins and that once a woman is no longer a virginal child, all this sexual slamming comes out. If we didn't honor and obsess about virgins, perhaps we wouldn't obsess about women's sexuality.

Both Valenti and Douglas note that the idealized woman in our American pop culture is physically a child. Models are starved into a childish form (indeed they often lose their periods, making them seem literally like prepubescent children). Valenti thinks this is linked to our obsession with virginity, while Douglas seems to think it's the logical result of glorifying youthful good looks.

While I'm just as disturbed as Ms. Valenti by the purity balls and abstinence teaching, I think it's a reach on her part to try to make the religious right's obsession with girls' virginity the cause of so many woes, such as a pregnant woman attempting a vaginal birth at home being arrested and taken to the hospital in shackles for a c-section. Out of these two books, I'm more inclined to believe that "enlightened sexism", as Ms. Douglas dubs the ironic use of sexual stereotypes, is a bigger and more pervasive problem than an obsession with virginity.

I wish both writers were less narrow in their scope. Both books treat the U.S. as though it were in a vacuum. I also wish Ms. Douglas watched a little less television and looked at other areas of life for inspiration. Although these books made for depressing, albeit thought-provoking and edifying, reading, I did find some room for hope. Ms. Douglas longs for the nineties, when American women made huge gains. Fueled by our rage over the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings, stoked up by reading Susan Faludi's "Backlash", and encouraged by the Riot Grrls, women went into politics and mass media in huge ways. What seemed so obvious to me, but unspoken by Ms. Douglas, was that perhaps it is a natural cycle: the 70s saw huge feminist progress, followed by the 80s backlash, which itself was followed by the radical 90s, to get slapped down by the enlightened sexism Ms. Douglas so pervasively documented in the 00s. Maybe the 2010s are going to bring us great things again.