Should Michelle Obama be angry because she was declared the world’s most powerful woman? Or, if not angry, maybe, at the very least, a little bit annoyed? I hope that she is. I was — not because I find her lacking in power, but for the same reason that I scrunched my nose at the presence of Maria Shriver, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned: first ladies all. They are accomplished, to be sure, but Forbes’ list gave only a nod towards their professional lives and philanthropic activities: In this list their power derives from their husbands’.

For Michelle Obama, that’s the man she called “sweet and pathetic” while she was a guest on The View (June 18, 2008), almost five months before Barack Obama was elected to be our POTUS.

Pathetic is how I’d describe… More…

Since the 1960s, the history of sex has transformed from sleazy sideline to respectable subject of academic study. The following is a timeline of the lesser-known scholarly discoveries that inform our erotic thinking today.

 

c. 1700: Sex “invented.”

“Some time in the 18th century, sex as we know it was invented,” writes Berkeley historian Thomas W. Laqueur. Before that time, Laqueur argues, most anatomists accepted the ancient idea expressed by the Greek doctor Galen that there was really only one gender: Women’s sexual organs were essentially the same as men’s, except they were inverted due to a lack of “vital heat.” The vagina was matched by penis, the ovaries by the testicles (“stones of women”), the labia by the foreskin, the uterus by the scrotum. This appealed to classical notions of cosmic harmony, and allowed doctors to argue… More…

I try to get away from the damn thing, but it keeps coming at me. A friend visiting announced he had finished it on the airplane — did I want a look? There were emails, blog posts, multiple reviews in the same venue. And then, on vacation, in another country and in another language, there it was, in the Viennese bookstore window where I stopped to tie my shoe: FREIHEIT von Jonathan Franzen. It appears that everyone in the world is being stalked by Jonathan Franzen right now.

My proclamation that I was not going to read Freedom was beginning to make me look like a dick. Just read it already. What’s the big deal? It’ll take a few days, and then you will be a participant in the cultural zeitgeist, the document of our era, the book that made books relevant again. (At least, the book since Twilight. Or… More…

 

Why do women seem so normal at the workplace or in a board meeting or in evening classes, but then when you get to know them, you find out that they’re just so damn unreasonable and complicated?  I like your column, but I bet you’re obnoxious, too. Just like the rest of them. — Ray

I think you’re trying to be funny, Ray, but let me set you straight: The question you asked reflects only one side of a two-sided coin. Some women can sometimes seem unreasonable to men, just as some men can sometimes seem unreasonable to women. I think guys can be total weirdos, too, at least the ones who don’t have anything in common with me. Most of my male friends are other poets and writers, and my husband is an amateur artist, so we… More…