Archive for May, 2009

May 31st 2009
Two more lessons for girls: you can say no, and don’t peak early

Posted under childhood & Gender

tonibasilmickeyWe’ve had a few more additions to Lessons for Girls in the past week, which I would like to highlight here.  First, Tiffany at Disclosures of a Dirty Feminist reminds us in lesson #9 that “You can say no.”  She writes, “[w]e have been brought up to be caretakers, but that doesn’t mean we are solely responsible for making sure that the world runs smoothly and that everyone gets exactly what they want.”  And guess what happens when she says no?  “[N]othing.  My friends . . . .find it completely normal. They weren’t even aware, most of the time, that I was feeling overworked, stressed, or like a lot was being demanded of me.”  Yes–your real friends will understand.  Users are the only ones who will be angry.  (And remember Lesson Number One, girls:  It’s okay to make other people angry.)  Pretty wise for a nineteen year-old, Tiffany!

Minnesota Matron, in her lesson #10 “Don’t peak early,” writes about one Deirdre G., “superstar of the 10th grade” whose life sadly was stalled immediately thereafter.  She warns, “[r]ely on your physical appearance for life’s goodies—recognition, success, confidence, achievement — and you will find yourself washed up against that shore of age, without recourse. A well-fueled brain and sense of justice constitute a much stronger lifeboat: they can carry you for decades.”

I had a Deirdre G. in my life too, only her name was StephanieContinue Reading »


May 30th 2009
The silliest grade I ever assigned, with apologies to Mr. D+

Posted under jobs & students & unhappy endings


Rope 'em up & brand 'em

Baa Ram U. last year eliminated the distinctions on the lower end of the grade scale:  C-, D+, and D-.  (I can’t believe we ever had a D-.  What’s the point of assigning a grade that’s less than 1.0?)  I completely support these changes:  once you’re operating at a C level or below, the shades of grey between C, D, and F become indistinguishable.

Once upon a time, when I was a first-year graduate T.A. at Ben Franklin U. (and all of 22 years old myself), I was assigned to T.A. an upper-division course in U.S. foreign policy, and this course required a research paper.  Yes, this professor decided that a course with 360 students and 6 T.A.s with 60 students each should have a 10-15 page research paper, despite the fact that plagiarism was rampant among the students.  (Two friends + two different T.A.s = half the work!  Several cases had been detected the previous year only because some of the T.A.s happened to share a house, and one walked by a stack of papers belonging to the other T.A. and thought that the top paper looked awfully familiar.  And, one of the plagiarists caught that year was a Master’s degree candidate!)  In any case, one of my high flyers (who was honest, to his credit) approached me a day before the paper was due, and told me he hadn’t started his research.  I worked with him on finding a topic, but of course, warned him that this paper would be very difficult to pull together in 24 hours.  He turned something in–something that was obviously the product of an all-nighter of fevered typing of random quotations from the several books spread out on his lap.  It was a terrible paper and made no sense, but I thought I had to throw the kid a bone for turning something in. Continue Reading »


May 29th 2009
Elite vs. not-so-elite universities

Posted under class & jobs & the body

Here’s one possible difference:

Tonight I met a woman who’s the officer manager for a large dental practice. She told me when she gets resumes from Penn Dental grads, “I throw them right in the trash.”

Why? I asked, surprised.  Continue Reading »


May 28th 2009
No more photos from Abu Ghraib because of rape scenes?

Posted under American history & book reviews & captivity & Gender & unhappy endings & women's history


That’s what the Daily Telegraph says that Major General Antonio Taguba told them!  (Hat tip The Daily Beast.)  How utterly predictable!

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

 What–you thought that invasion and occupation were going to be easy?  Continue Reading »


May 27th 2009
Brooke Shields, you’re the biggest slut ever, and we’ll never let you forget it.

Posted under childhood & Gender & the body

brookeshieldsBrooke Shields gave an interview recently in which she suggested that her “greatest health regret” is that she had a poor body image as an adolescent and young adult, and that this inhibited her sexually:

Q: What’s your biggest health regret?
Not learning to love the way I looked earlier. And I think I would have had sex a lot earlier! [Laughs.] I think I would have lost my virginity earlier than I did at 22. I had the public and all this pressure, and I wish I had just gotten it over with in the beginning when it was sort of OK. I think I would have been much more in touch with myself. I think I wouldn’t have had issues with weight—I carried this protective 20 pounds [in college]. It was all connected. And to me, that’s a health regret.

Yet the media coverage of this interview doesn’t pause to consider that her early acting and modeling career may have in fact been the cause of her poor body image and her fear of sexuality. 

Brooke Shields may have taken on sexually mature roles at a young age, but the actress reveals that she was much more reserved off-screen.

Shields, who portrayed a child prostitute in “Pretty Baby” at age 12, tells Health magazine that she wishes she had been the pinup girl that she portrayed* but that her bad body image kept her from losing her virginity until age 22. Continue Reading »


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