attachment-1701

I was recently sitting in the back of a cab with a boy, the radio on. A commercial began with a woman telling her husband in a teasing, sexy voice that she had something that would excite him. Instead of a trip to Turkey or a pair of handcuffs and a paddle, the item was revealed to be a new set of curtains. The man playing the husband sounded bemused at best. Although it was just another poorly produced local radio ad, dread crept in. I imagined myself finding sexual pleasure in textiles made of synthetic fabrics, yelling at my husband for not picking up his socks, and wearing only practical underwear for the rest of my life. I turned to the boy and without explaining myself announced, “I never want to get married.”

A Vindiction of Love by Cristina Nehring. Harper…. More…

attachment-1717

 

Philosophy is disappearing from our college curricula. Our students are graduating without first being stuffed with Plato and Descartes and Hegel. While we used to teach students critical thinking through philosophy, we have replaced the Socratic method with the scientific method. Really, the idea of 19-year-olds discussing Truth and Beauty and Love seems so decadent these days, doesn’t it? It certainly does to those running our universities. But that’s the best age at which to wrestle abstract concepts —  the world is new and terrifying, yet you’re (hopefully) still coddled enough to find the time to read Fear and Trembling.

When you’re 30 and your brain is preoccupied with mundane things like making money, cooking dinner, and doing the dishes, sitting down with Plato to contemplate the nature of love just for kicks feels a little absurd. I dropped out of college before I could get around… More…

attachment-1729

 

Oh, the endless promise of the self-help book aisle. Cheaper than even 10 minutes of traditional psychotherapy, and carefully worded to be completely unhelpful without overtly appearing so, it’s no wonder we get trapped by these shiny, happy books. Just follow these 10 steps, and you can turn your nervous breakdown into a breakthrough.

I should have known it was time to switch advisers when Laura started recommending I read books like Byron Katie’s I Need Your Love — Is That True? and Barbara Stanny’s Overcoming Underearning a year or so ago. I halfheartedly skimmed a few of them, saw that they wanted me to write uplifting statements on my bathroom mirror, and quickly took them to the dumpster outside, afraid that someone might come over to my apartment and see them in my trash can. I reported… More…

attachment-1741

 

Insomnia might feel like a punishment from the gods, but it is generally thought to be a mind-body problem. While your body would like to sleep, your mind is much more interested in listing every thing you need to do tomorrow. But there’s a difference between a bad night’s sleep and a night of insomnia.

There is no negotiating with insomnia — you are at the mercy of your brain’s whims, like a pregnant vegetarian who finds herself eating slices of bologna slathered in jam. Thus the thrashing in bed (which makes us so popular with loved ones) begins: “I want to be on my left side. Wait, that is not quite right. Put your right arm up a bit. Now, uh, bend your left knee and put your left hand under your pillow. No, bend your knee… More…

attachment-1755

 

One of the unfortunate side effects of being female is the constant marketing of products as specifically “for women.” It’s not just deodorant and cheap pink razors. There are books, and then there are books for women.

Seal Press calls itself the publisher of “Groundbreaking Books For Women, By Women,” but theirs is a very specific definition of “women.” Their idea of womanhood is no less narrow than that of the We Channel: Television for Women. The We Channel may define women as those creatures who believe happiness lies in finding the right wedding planner and pilates instructor, but Seal Press defines women as tattooed 20- and 30-somethings who use alternative menstrual products and think that working in the sex industry imbues you with Wisdom.

A large percentage of the books Seal publishes are how-to guides. How to… More…

attachment-1769

Last month, anthropologist Helen Fisher opened a speech at the Economic Summit in Davos with, “I am definitely not a feminist.” The irony of the situation was lost on her apparently. The word “feminist” has become almost meaningless. Some people will twist themselves into knots trying to avoid the label, and others will wield it to justify all sorts of personal behavior. In Lisa Belkin’s infamous New York Times Magazine profile “The Opt-Out Revolution,” about well-educated women who decided to stay home to raise children, a woman named Jeannie Tarkenton has this to say about feminism: “Women today, if we think about feminism at all, we see it as a battle fought for ‘the choice.’ For us, the freedom to choose work if we want to work is the feminist strain in our lives.”

First-wave feminists threw bombs and died on hunger strikes to get the vote. Today’s… More…

The Oregon Convention Center hall had the artificial lighting and concrete walls of a nuclear fallout shelter and not a very cozy one. It was a space used to accommodating big shows for attendees making big decisions about college, holiday gifts, or RVs, but this weekend it was exhibiting three equally grand concepts: the body, the mind, and the spirit. According to the program for the Body, Mind, and Spirit Expo, the $10 entry fee entitled entrants to “Free Aura Photos!” and the chance to go to lectures, one put on by a pet psychic called “Listen to your Animals Talking!”

When I entered the convention hall, in the first visible booth a man stood with his eyes closed and his hand over a woman’s head. According to the literature on his table he was performing Jyorei: “a five minute purification of the spirit session consisting of spiritual light transmittal… More…