Category: Gender


Beyond Polarity: A New Encounter between Women and Men

11th May

The day after my very first appearance on New York cable TV—it was the 80s, so cable was new and small—I got a message at my office at the National Organization for Women where I was VP. It was from a well-known Dr. Oz-type doctor who did health reports on one of the big TV networks. I had no idea who he was, but my colleagues were all excited, thinking that this could be a real break for us to reach a bigger audience. He had seen my appearance on the local cable program, where I was speaking about women’s rights and equality, and he wanted me to call him.

I was nervous, but I called the number at the TV network that he gave me. It was his private line and he picked up the phone himself. As … Read More »


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. No Comments

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

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. No Comments

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 »


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 »



A Message for International Women’s Day

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Blog, Culture, Gender, Uncategorized. 4 comments

8th March

Today, the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, women in Egypt stepped into history by marching in Tahrir Square by the hundreds. They had optimistically called their action “The Million Women March” and although they were not joined on the streets by millions of women, the entire world watched as they moved forward for millions of their sisters in Egypt and across this awakening region. Men met them with abuse and violence, which only made the courage of their actions more apparent.

It’s extraordinary to see women rising up, being the instigators in the Revolutions that are toppling entrenched regimes. Young women are shaming their male peers by daring to speak out and take to the streets.

And while this is a wholly different reality from the one that those of us privileged postmoderns in the West live in, women … Read More »


Women Awakening…to the Power of Choice

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Blog, Cultural Evolution, Gender, Pop Culture, Uncategorized. 4 comments

10th November

“I do think there is an awakening happening among women,” Marianne Schnall, founder of feminist.com, said to me, “and it needs help and we need to support each other. We have so many choices now but if we don’t know who we are then we won’t know how to make those choices count.” I agree with Marianne. In the last few weeks, I’ve been interviewing a lot of women in preparation for the two seminars for women that I’m leading on November 13 & 14. Some women, like Marianne, think deeply about what’s going on with women; others are your average great women negotiating the complexity of their lives. Every one of them spoke about this deep longing for more–and simultaneously, a struggle to figure out how to make choices that will enable them to release the greater potential … Read More »


Women Awakening…circa 1915

Posted by Elizabeth Debold in Blog, Culture, Gender, Politics, Uncategorized. 2 comments

22nd October

I’m writing a post on the spiritual awakening that seems to be stirring women today, and came across this cartoon–from 1915, when only the Western states of the US granted women the right to vote. I thought it would be great to post. The US elections are coming up very soon, and women are going to play a very significant role in the outcome. For decades women didn’t use their right to vote independently, and simply followed their husbands’ opinions. Today, the loudest voices of women in politics are not progressive, but those who call for a return to…well, what exactly isn’t clear. A throwback traditionalism cross dressing as a new, edgy feminism.

AND–women are awakening and have the potential to change culture at the roots…more on that in my next post. If you want to be part of the leading … Read More »





MOST RECENT POSTS

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...