Category: Culture


What Makes a Truly Global Education?

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Blog, Culture, Evolutionary Spirituality, Integral Philosophy, Postmodernism, Science. Comments Off on What Makes a Truly Global Education?

6th May

In the middle of nothing—that is, nothing but sand stretching in every direction—there is a peculiar oasis. It has huge palm trees with thick rough trunks and wild leafy tops placed in a grid: six by six. No oasis anywhere in the desert has palm trees that grow in a grid like a Cartesian plane. But here at New York University (NYU)-Abu Dhabi, this oasis of sorts is both the center of a contemporary university campus and the perfect metaphor for the unique type of global education that the university offers. Is this the kind of global education that will bring together the next generation globally? I’m not sure.

I was visiting NYU-Abu Dhabi as a stopover to visit my mentor, Carol Gilligan, and her husband Jim, on the way home from a visit to India. The two contexts, side-by-side, present … Read More »


Time to Be Human: Gender Liberation and the Creation of a New Culture

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Blog, Cultural Evolution, Feminism, Gender, Leadership, Liberation, Masculinity, women, Women's liberation. Comments Off on Time to Be Human: Gender Liberation and the Creation of a New Culture

28th April

The United Nations declared 1976-1985 the Decade of Women, which created an international consensus on the importance of women’s political and social equality. The African Women’s Decade began in 2010. And in the United States, analysts have called 1992, 2012, and 2013 the Year of the Woman. For the last forty-plus years, since the student revolts of the ‘68 generation, media pundits, activists, and cultural savants have repeatedly announced that women have toppled male hegemony. Recent books, even those written by men such as The Athena Doctrine, explain that women’s ways of thinking or leading will lead to greater success in our highly interdependent, networked world.

It’s now women’s time. Finally. After many, many millennia of male domination, patriarchy is dying and women are stepping forward. Let’s heave a big sigh of relief and embrace the new era of women….

Well, I … Read More »


Akin and the Medieval Worldview of the Right

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Culture, Feminism, Gender, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized, women. Comments Off on Akin and the Medieval Worldview of the Right

29th August

As I picked my jaw up off the floor after hearing Rep. Todd Akin’s now infamous statement that women’s uteruses have the magical power to resist impregnation in the case of rape, I wondered, “Where could he have gotten that idea?” Laura Helmuth, writing for Salon.com’s XXfactor, noted that his “statement was a crystallization of Akin’s worldview: sexist, blame-shifting, and profoundly ignorant.”

Then it clicked for me — yes, it’s a worldview but in a much deeper way than Helmuth realizes. The Onion hit the nail on the head when one of their “experts” noted that “It’s almost as if these people are unaware that the Enlightenment, the scientific revolution, various civil rights movements, and the entirety of social progress over the previous several centuries even occurred.”

That’s right. Akin’s views are positively medieval. I mean this literally. Medieval means prerational. And the problem is that rationality, the capacity to … Read More »


Happiness and Having It All

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Consciousness, Cultural Evolution, Feminism, Gender, Leadership, Uncategorized, women, Women's liberation. Comments Off on Happiness and Having It All

13th August

Anne-Marie Slaughter‘s recent article in the Atlantic,“Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” has once again raised in public a question that has been privately vexing women for the past several decades (…or longer): How can we pursue our talents and contribute to culture significantly and be the devoted mothers that so many educated women want to be?

How do we slay this dragon? Slaughter, who should get many kudos for her frank presentation of the whole megillah of this dilemma for women at the highest echelons, falters here. Sure, I agree when she says that we need new values to make this work. But which values? The tricky thing is that there are two competing value sets from the two spheres of modern life: public (business and politics) for men and private (children and home) for women. The private sphere’s system … Read More »


What’s Really Hot…

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Agency/Eros, Culture, Gender, Leadership, Uncategorized, women. Comments Off on What’s Really Hot…

17th May

O.M.G… Hillary Clinton in public without makeup. That this is news or newsworthy is bananas, and once again points to the bizarreobsession with women’s appearance in contexts where one should just, as Jezebel’s caption read, “give zero fuc*s.” But it does count as more evidence of just how smokin’ she is.

Oh yeah, this is the woman who has the distinct honor of having a nutcracker created in her likeness during the 2008 primary season. Her relentless commitment to a higher goal enabled her to endure during the campaign and, now, thrive as a Secretary of State who has placed girls (child marriage, education, sex slavery) and women (domestic abuse, rape, economic rights) in the center of diplomatic relations around the world. The“Texts from Hillary” mini-meme that was such a sensation a few weeks back cemented the growing recognition that Hillz is cool. But I’d like to suggest that … Read More »


Women’s History Month? What about “Women Making History Month”?

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Blog, Culture, Feminism, Freedom, Leadership, women, Women's liberation. Comments Off on Women’s History Month? What about “Women Making History Month”?

13th March

March is Women’s History Month. Doesn’t that sound dreadfully boring, like some required course from college? These thirty-one days actually commemorate women’s courageous struggles for self-determination and justice but with that almost academic label on it, it all seems rather, well, passé. History, obviously, is all in the past. So, what if we re-named March “Women Making History Month”? Because this month in 2012, we certainly have some history-making to do.

These placid and well-intentioned commemorations blunt the restless spirit that we are supposed to be celebrating. It’s the same with International Women’s Day, March 8. We note this day in history because of a series of revolts in the first decade of the 20th century by women garment workers who went on strike against brutal working conditions. In the former Soviet bloc countries, this day morphed from being a rallying … Read More »



SlutWalks: Feeling Free vs. Being Free

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Blog, Culture, Feminism, Women's liberation. 13 comments

15th October

In January, Toronto police constable Michael Sanguinetti made a gaffe that has sparked a worldwide protest among young women and their supporters. Sanguinetti was speaking about women’s safety at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School when he suggested that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” There you have it: that old canard that women provoke rape and sexual assault. (A colleague told me that overalls happen to be the garment that attracts rapists most often–I don’t know if it’s true or where she heard that but apparently it’s because they are easy to get off quickly. Not because they are so alluring…) Two women in Toronto responded immediately–calling for a “SlutWalk” to protest the prevalence of blame-the-victim attitudes that make women’s sexuality such an area of inner and outer conflict. The idea has caught … Read More »



Boy and Girl Brains?

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Blog, Culture, Gender, Pop Culture, Postmodernism. 8 comments

2nd June

This past weekend, I had the pleasure to meet two teen girls adopted from China by friends of mine. The girls are poised between childhood and adulthood where the big questions—who am I? What am I going to make of my life?—are looming. During a conversation, someone mentioned something about “girl brains.” The phrase went by quickly, and I almost didn’t notice it. Then one of the girls asked directly: “Are the differences between the sexes biological or cultural?”

After our conversation, I began to wonder: how does this popular notion that women and men have different brains affect these girls’ ambitions, hopes, and dreams? Despite all of the celebration of how great the female brain is—how it will be much more useful in the world of the future—it seemed that she had already begun to wonder if she had gotten … Read More »



The Gender Situation & the Situation Room

20th May

A few news events have caught my eye this past week—particularly, the Orthodox Jewish newspaper that photoshopped Hillary Clinton out of the iconic Situation Room photo and The Atlantic Monthly’s report “Danger: Falling Tyrants” by Jeffrey Goldberg on the move toward democracy in the Middle East. But it was an email exchange with one of our former editors/writers, Maura O’Connor, who is reporting from Afghanistan where she’s embedded among US troops, that made me think about these events in the context of our responsibility, as sophisticated postmodern individuals who are living in a pluralistic global society. We often literally brush up against those who have very different worldviews—radically different ways of understanding reality and human relationship.

Maura told me that she and a friend, another young American female journalist, were talking about whether to wear headscarves in … Read More »



The Puzzle of Postmodern Women’s Leadership

19th April

“My generation, really sadly, is not going to change the numbers at the top. They are just not moving. We are 50% of the population, in my generation there will not be 50% of women at the top of any industry,” said Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg at TEDWomen. I felt a kind of cold chill hearing that. Sandberg is in her early forties–the generation that grew up believing that the world was wide open to women and that nothing could stop us. Now, as she notes, it’s pretty obvious that we’re a long way off from achieving parity at the top in  business, politics, law, science, or academics. Estimates say that it will be at least another hundred years before the U.S. Congress is half women and half men. Moreover, in terms of equality at home, Sandberg notes that there has been even … Read More »





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From pop culture to politics, sexuality to spirituality, whatever and what-have-you, I'm commenting on it, hashing out my own thinking on the upward trends and troubles of our times. Please join in with a comment!

Beyond Polarity: A New Encounter between Women and Men

The day after my very first appearance on New York cable TV—it was the 80s, so cable was new and small—I got...

What Makes a Truly Global Education?

In the middle of nothing—that is, nothing but sand stretching in every direction—there is a peculiar oasis. It has huge palm trees with thick...

Time to Be Human: Gender Liberation and the Creation of a New Culture

The United Nations declared 1976-1985 the Decade of Women, which created an international consensus on the importance of women’s political and social equality. The...