Meow!

Add this one to the pile of recent nauseating articles by men purporting to understand women: an article belittling the trade-offs facing working and at-home mothers, which appears in the October 2nd issue of The New Republic (available by subscription) under the following catchy title:

Mommies, mommies, mommies. The subtitle is Meow Mix.

There is nothing terrible about the article (except that I, of course, disagree with the reasons it slams my book Mommy Wars). It's the five words in the title that really get at the heart of what's wrong with our culture when it comes to respecting women. I'm not sure I need to say anything more. But, of course, I will.

Mostly, how could a writer and editor smart enough to remain employed by a national consumer magazine sanction a title that compares women to felines?

This is my main point here. The days of comparing women, and other groups besides white men, to animals, are over. Or should be over. Women don't scratch or bite or hiss. We talk. We yell, sure. We complain. We spend a lot of time checking our makeup and the size of our butts. We go to business school, law school, medical school. We often do better academically than men and occasionally we even out-earn them. But we don't eat Meow Mix cat food, poop in a litter box, purr when rolled on our backs, or slink off when outmatched. As much as some might wish we did.

So tell me, am I wrong to be offended? How does it make you feel to be compared on the public stage to an animal? Ever notice that there aren't many (okay, any) words in our language that specifically compare white men to a particular animal species?


By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  September 27, 2006; 8:30 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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'We spend a lot of time checking our makeup and the size of our butts'

no I don't. please stop making gross (in more ways than one) generalizations about men, women, white people, Martians and whoever.

Posted by: e | September 27, 2006 8:40 AM

I call some men an a**

Posted by: Maggie | September 27, 2006 8:53 AM

Leslie, how in the world can you post this after yesterday? Because, frankly *animals* is exactly what comes to my mind.

BTW, e... I don't either.

Posted by: Tracy | September 27, 2006 8:57 AM

I agree with e. I for one am a woman who rarely-if-ever wears makeup so have no need to check it once much less lots of times, and while I know someone who does check her butt out in every mirror in every department store, can't say as I'm one of them (I'm the one rolling my eyes at her).

There are some women who do these things, granted. And there are some women who probably deserve the comparison to cats, for whatever reason. They are not necessarily the same women.

I will agree though that the guy needs to get a life and stop nailing something he may not totally understand.

Posted by: Female not Feline | September 27, 2006 9:00 AM

I think it's right on target, actually. Too often, women are their own worst enemies. I see this again and again in the workplace. I was recently leading a secretaries' meeting at a large NY law firm and honestly, at one point it was on the tip of my tongue to say "Ladies! Retract your claws!"

Posted by: Unreal | September 27, 2006 9:01 AM

"The days of comparing women, and other groups besides white men, to animals, are over."

What a bigoted comment. Shame on you!

"Women don't ... poop in a litter box"

Oh really? http://www.google.com/search?&q=axl+%22litter+box%22+%22Stephanie+Seymour%22

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 9:02 AM

Great, now I have that stupid jingle stuck in my head!

The New Republic is not an ordinary consumer magazine, like a newsmagazine or mainstream newspaper. It's one that publishes only very conservative viewpoints. It's not surprising at all that they would publish such drivel, since what's right for them must be right for everyone else, while the rest of us saner folks understand that choices are issue, and we would not dare impose our personal choices on others.

Posted by: meow, meow, meow... | September 27, 2006 9:02 AM

When I saw that title I was thinking the author was making a reference to how some women can act "catty" when discussing or comparing themselves to other women.

The "meow" comment was shorthand for the above; I've seen that used in emails and discussion groups when women start sniping at each other for whatever reason.

Posted by: John | September 27, 2006 9:04 AM

The motherhood debate, at least as it plays out in the national media, has evolved into one big junior high school catfight. I think that's all he meant...

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | September 27, 2006 9:06 AM

What about "Men are dogs"? I still hear that one a lot, and in come cases I agree.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | September 27, 2006 9:08 AM

You've got to be kidding! Leslie, isn't it YOU who in YOUR book refers to a the whole mommy wars thing as a catfight??? Although you then did a lot of backpedalling about it being an "inner catfight". Either way, I agree, comparing women to hissing clawing cats is repellent. Pot, meet kettle.

Posted by: what hypocrisy | September 27, 2006 9:09 AM

So if you were leading a partners meeting at the NY law firm and the partners got nasty would you have thought ladies and gentlemen retract your claws? Probably not so "unreal" you appear to be experiencing a prejudical thought and that cultural bias that was blog topic a few days ago.

I would also like to know why you say they are their own worse enemies. I have seen many a meeting where men go at each other. What was the topic that made you feel that they were being their own worse enemies?

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | September 27, 2006 9:10 AM

he New Republic is not an ordinary consumer magazine, like a newsmagazine or mainstream newspaper. It's one that publishes only very conservative viewpoints.
---------------------

Actually, I am pretty sure that TNR is a liberal magazine. (& the other article titles this month seem to back that up... Bush's McCarthyism...)

Posted by: TNR | September 27, 2006 9:11 AM

It would be helpful to at least get a summary of what the article said for those of us who don't read the New Republic. I think it's unrealistic to expect that stereotyping will go away. Consider the proliferation of the "lovable oaf" stereotype of husbands on TV. You know, King of Queens, Jim Belushi (whatever his show is called), etc. You don't see men saying, "hey, we're more than fat, blue collar dunderheads." People will believe what they want to believe and you ARE out of line to get bent out of shape over the TITLE to an article.

If you want to get worked up about the substance, go right ahead, but to say (and I'm using the examples mentioned by other posters) that women don't check their make up and/or back sides strains credulity to any person who has ever spent more than 30 seconds in a mall/office/gym. So what? I think you run the risk of doing the same thing on the opposite side of the spectrum - making the same stereotypes/generalizations about women in the other direction. Some women are shallow/superficial, some aren't. Not exactly a news flash. Some women have a hard time re-entering the work world, some don't. Some women feel threatened by other women in the office/some don't. So what ..

Posted by: So What Observation | September 27, 2006 9:11 AM

I hear men are pigs as often as female catfight references.

Posted by: Other animals | September 27, 2006 9:14 AM

PS ... I note the irony in the placement of a link right below Leslie's post for women to "get their hipness" back .. one way (according to the writer) is to watch Nip/Tuck, a show that glorifies female objectification, breast enhancement, liposuction and sexual permissiveness. Go Figure.

Posted by: So What Part Deux | September 27, 2006 9:14 AM

Leslie, I think you're getting way too bent out of shape over The New Republic. About fifty years ago it was one of the most respected liberal opinion journals in the country, but lately it has been edited by a series of inexperienced, wet-behind-the-ears twenty somethings more eager to make a name for themselves than commit to good journalism.

However, I do feel the need to observe that you have been bashing men a fair bit lately -- your observations on the Newsweek article, a few comments today. What gives? Are some men idiots? Yes. But I like to think that the ones that populate this blog are not animals as you suggest.

Posted by: Glover Park | September 27, 2006 9:16 AM

I also hate a la my husband idiot friend, that any woman who has an opinion must be a lesbian. Not that there is anything wrong with lesbians. But the two aren't mutually exclusive (having an opinion and being a lesbian)

Things like "catfight", and lesbian (as a taunt) put women in a sexually charged environment that demeans the whole situation.

Posted by: MD | September 27, 2006 9:16 AM

The paragraph is free & I have to say as a singleton who likes kids the intro rings true...

https://ssl.tnr.com/p/docsub.mhtml?i=20061002&s=wolcott100206

or just google The New Republic

p.s. the author is a regular contributor to Vanity Fair and definitely not a raging conservative

Posted by: hmm... | September 27, 2006 9:17 AM

Men are pigs, men are dogs....hey, what the heck, we're white men, we can take it.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 9:18 AM

I agree with e and the other commentors. I don't wear make-up either and actually would like a butt. (Think diminished glutes! For King of the Hill fans. Although, I lack the enormous beer gut.)

As Unreal mentioned above, women can be their worst enemies. If you want to see women at their worst, please refer to any blog on breast feeding. I believe there was a discussion on this one a couple of weeks ago. I don't buy into this "united sisterhood idea" that Baby Boomer feminists like to push. It has been my experience, Baby Boomer feminists will sell out at any given moment if it furthers their careers or social standing. The "united sisterhood" is a total fantasy.

In the world of problems facing women, the title of a magazine article in a right-wing magazine is the least of our problems.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 27, 2006 9:18 AM

I wear makeup, I have no ass to look at (poor me), and I don't like the reference to animals. However, I really don't like the constant reference to white men either. I think this blog has turned the term "white men" into this picture of the guy from North Country calling Charlize Theron into his office to tell her she can resign after she has been sexually harassed. I have a friend who told me once that it's not nice to paint all republicans with the same brush, I listened, and now I get to know the people before I get to know their politics. I feel the same way about the white man references.

Yes, some white men are bad, but there equal numbers of bad men of all different races.

Posted by: scarry | September 27, 2006 9:20 AM

I am no cat! I think that article and title are ridiculous and anyone with 1/2 a brain cell would realize that.

Posted by: Alexandria | September 27, 2006 9:23 AM

I am no cat! I think that article and title are ridiculous and anyone with 1/2 a brain cell would realize that.

Posted by: Alexandria | September 27, 2006 9:24 AM

The cat thing bugs me. Especially in this headline -- in an article that purports to explore the real problems some women face, the headline signals that the women are just being "catty." I haven't read the article, so that may not be at all what it says, but that's certainly the message the headline sends. These kinds of comments are a nice way to dismiss an argument without having to deal with the substance (kind of like the whole "she must have PMS" thing).

I am probably a little more sensitive to this than most. When I was in college, I spent a semester in Greece, and was stunned to hear the men call their girlfriends over by hissing at them -- "psspsspss." No name, no courtesy, no respect, nothing. Just hissed at them, in precisely the same manner that they hissed at the feral cats in the marketplace. It was a real tipoff as to where these guys thought their women ranked in the social hierarchy. And, apparently, to where the women thought they ranked as well, as they always came when "called." So after living with this for months, the whole cat thing really bugs me.

I'm not talking about occasional references that can be made in certain situations ("strong as a bull," "stubborn as an ox," etc.). I'm also not talking about literature, where metaphors are frequently and beautifully used (and well-developed) to paint a picture with words. I'm talking specifically about a recurring reference to a gender that almost instantly invokes a dismissive stereotype ("catty" women = don't have to pay attention to whateve they're complaining about).

The closest analogy I can come up with is the current debate about the Washington Redskins. Don't get me wrong -- I love the team (husband is a Giants fan, but what can you do? no one's perfect). But as far as I know, the word "redskin" is the Native American version of the N-word. Naming a sports team that word ("The Washington N-'s?") would never be acceptable in this country anymore (thank God). And yet people run around defending what's basically the same thing for another race. And people who complain are just dismissed out of hand as "too sensitive" -- something that I'm sure we're going to hear a lot of today.

Here's the deal: words can hurt. How you speak to and about a group of people says a lot about how you see them. So when a man describes women as cats, it sends a signal that he doesn't see us as equals. Those words turn women into sexy, slinky beasts that tantalize men, or angry hissing things that need to be petted and smoothed over, or meek creatures who want to curl up on a lap and be petted and protected. Whatever the characterization, it's always something above or below -- devil or angel, worshipped on a pedestal or beaten down -- never just an equal (and equally human) wife or coworker or friend. Fine for a great poet; not fine for my boss.

Posted by: Laura | September 27, 2006 9:40 AM

"So tell me, am I wrong to be offended?"

Yup.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 9:43 AM

I believe that we need to own our sterotypes. We've got two children we lovingly refer to as hybrids, because they are the ones having to bridge the gap between two culturally very different households (we can argue semantics regarding the definitions of sterotypes, cultural tendancies, etc all day). But we have found as a family that we have to acknowledge our *template*, some of it's good some bad, and the same goes for their other home.

What does this have to do with today's blog? I can't stand working with several women at once. Yesterday's fiasco with FO4 is a pinnacle example of how I experience women interacting together. FO4's wife was rightfully upset, how does she want to deal with it, meet in a dark ally - w/Scarry right there in it with her. Ladies, we have to own this one! It would be a much more prudent discussion if we talked about how to effectively rechannel our emotional availability, not just in professional arenas but informal personal ones as well. But here we are shooting the messenger because we don't like the words he used.

Posted by: Tracy | September 27, 2006 9:44 AM

Pigs, dogs, a$$e$, snakes, apes, baboons ... I think men have a lot more animal associations than women. You get the cat. And knowing how smart cats are, you might think it was a compliment.

(Leslie must be really mad at her husband this week for all her male bashing of late. Did he pick up the wrong ice cream over the weekend?)

Posted by: Working Dad | September 27, 2006 9:45 AM

I think that in the case of the men Leslie is referring to, they are usually titled called "pigs" as in chauvinistic pigs.

Posted by: tlawrenceva | September 27, 2006 9:46 AM

We get "caveman" too!

I guess I'm not offended by the "meow" comment because, although not a compliment, it still portrays a woman as an active, thinking, even aggressive person.

The terms hurled at women that really concern me portray women as submissive, second-class citizens, and worst of all sex objects. And we all know there are too many of these terms.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | September 27, 2006 9:48 AM

Yes, Arlington Dad, those women are usually referred to as b!tches.

Posted by: tlawrenceva | September 27, 2006 9:48 AM

Frankley, I am getting a little tired of the white male bashing on this blog. My Grandfathers, father, father-in-law, brother-in-laws, husband and sons are all white men. Throughout my life they have been some of by biggest supporters and fans. What kind of message are we passing on to our children when we get right down in the gutter and join in the name calling and stereotyping? I have always felt the best way to diminish a stereotype is to lead by example.
Come on, enough with the stereotypes and name calling already.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 27, 2006 9:50 AM

To Divorced Mom of 1: If I were leading a partners' meeting and there was a controversial topic being discussed, the female partners would be no different. Possibly more subtle, and maybe more deadly, but in essence the same as the secretaries.

Posted by: Unreal | September 27, 2006 9:52 AM

I think a better question is whether men are actually from Mars and women are actually from Venus.

I, for one, think Mars is a pretty cool place to be from. Nice sunsets.

Posted by: Random Guy | September 27, 2006 9:53 AM

Tracy I have found many situations where women work well together as well as many where they don't. Same for the men I know. It usually depends on the individual people involved.

To perpetuate this sterotype that women can't work togehter is just as bad as any other dimissive prejudice.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | September 27, 2006 9:56 AM

This blog used to be interesting, or at least provocative. Now, it's just...stupid.


Posted by: Ex-Reader | September 27, 2006 9:58 AM

"This is my main point here. The days of comparing women, and other groups besides white men, to animals, are over."

So it is still ok to compare white men to animals then?

Sorry, but what's good for the gander is good for the goose!

Does anyone else know the old joke about why the tank containing the female lobsters didn't have to be covered? Because whenever one was about to climb out, all the others would drag her back down.

Yes, it is just a joke and an old one at that.

Posted by: Rufus | September 27, 2006 9:59 AM

To unreal - but what about the male partners? Don't they get mean and nasty, maybe in different ways, but don't tell me that men who are successfull don't occansionaly jockey for position or power in a meeting or a work session. So when the men are doing stuff to each other what are you thinking?

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | September 27, 2006 9:59 AM

Tracy,

In all seriousness, do you really think that father of 4's wife and I are going to meet some of these bloggers in an alley? As you say, we have to own "this." We also have to own that as women who want flexibly, inclusion, and respect we have to stick together to change the rules for everyone. One of the very best lessons that my parents taught me was to stick up for, and be loyal to, my friends. I like father of 4 and what happened to him yesterday on this blog was disgusting. My reference to the alley with father of 4's wife was basically just a show of support. Sorry if you are put off by my bluntness.

Posted by: scarry | September 27, 2006 9:59 AM

I have historically been in male only departments and situations. In my current job, I work with three other women. To be honest, I hate everyone, male or female. LOL! Am I a misanthrop or a Squidward?

Posted by: alex. mom | September 27, 2006 10:00 AM

"The New Republic is not an ordinary consumer magazine, like a newsmagazine or mainstream newspaper. It's one that publishes only very conservative viewpoints."

TNR is a liberal magazine. It is to the right of The Nation, but that hardly makes it "very conservative."

Posted by: Lizzie | September 27, 2006 10:02 AM

Of course the male partners peacock and jockey for position. It is almost laughable. They brag and bluster and it's almost like they're comparing credentials.

I don't find the same to be true with women. All too often, women make their attacks personal. When this happens, it is uncomfortable as hell for everyone in the room.

Posted by: Unreal | September 27, 2006 10:03 AM

I never look at my butt. I KNOW that it is perfect! Although, if for some reason it isn't, it doesn't bother me in the least because I can't see it! My brother likes to say otherwise, but I know the truth.

But as far as cats go, why are we giving space to this? Let's talk about something else. Let's give Fo4 our best frugal recipes. When my husband and I were broke, we had a list of dinners that could feed four people for two dollars or less. And that is for the whole group, not each!

Leslie, fwiw, my h.s. lit teacher told us to 'never generalize'.

Posted by: parttimer | September 27, 2006 10:07 AM

I have held 5 jobs since graduating from college and many before that. I cannot recall any situation where women behaved any worse than men. My current workplace has only a few men and is very genial and collaborative. I am really tired of this stereotype.

Posted by: MaryB | September 27, 2006 10:12 AM

Ironically, by being so touchy, this blogger reenforces the image she is complaining about.

Anyway, the cat has become a modern symbol for women. It is a phenomenon of a culture that in fact contains women. This symbol has both positive and negative aspects.

Most people like cats, and cats evoke positive memories. It seems like a pretty nice symbol to me.

Posted by: bkp | September 27, 2006 10:13 AM

"Women don't scratch or bite or hiss."

After the past couple of days on this blog, you could have fooled me.

"Ever notice that there aren't many (okay, any) words in our language that specifically compare white men to a particular animal species?"

Of course there are. The one that comes to mind immediately is pig, as in "male chauvinist pig."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 10:17 AM

Namecalling aside, I read the first page of the article (have to subscribe to read the other pages) and the author does make one very good point: one of the underlying reasons why there is a "war" between SAHM and Working moms is that both sides are envious of each other. As he said "The Working Mother may envy the Stay-at-Home Mother for not having to work, for being fortunate enough to have married a major earner who foots the bills while she has to put up with a dreary commute to a job that cuts her off from her children. ....
Meanwhile, the Stay-at-Home Mom may envy the Working Mom for her freedom and mobility to associate with fellow adults instead of being stuck indoors staring at the crayon artwork posted on the refrigerator door and listening to infantile prattle until she is about to go out of her mind."

Of course many working mothers will say this does not apply to them since they work becuase they want to not because they have to and many SAHMs will say they love every minute with their kids. To those I say okay fine but don't tell me you are not the least bit insecure about your decision -- what else can explain all the vitriol?

Posted by: fabworkingmom | September 27, 2006 10:20 AM

Here's the difference:

Would an article titled "Men will f*** anything that walks, just like a dog" get published in a magazine geared to a wide audience? No. Perhaps in "Glamour" or something else that is written for women, but definitely not in TNR.

The difference is that it is socially acceptable to refer to women as cats and b**ches and hens... it's in video games, TV shows, books, and movies (Mean Girls, The Devil Wears Prada, anyone?).

I do not disagree that people talk about men being pigs and such, and there is certainly the stupid oaf husband stereotype on TV, but NEWSFLASH, sitcoms are based on stereotypes of both sexes. They are complete drivel.

The difference is that this type of talk pits women against women. The stereotypes of men do no such thing. In fact, some men (the Redneck crew) would probably wear those comparisons as a badge of honor. "We're repellent animals, but we still got someone to marry us."

This is the very reason that women who strive for excellence are seen as b**ches while the men who do are seen as eager overacheivers. Women who do not bow to the pressure to be demure, sweet and gentle are labelled with these names in order to villanize them and to pit women against them. All of you who have thought about saying "retract the claws" are falling for it hook, line, and sinker.

Why can't the women just be fighting? Because women aren't allowed to be mad. Why can't that girl just be pissed off instead of b**chy? Because women can't be pissed off. Socitey has deemed those reactions inappropriate for women, so we picked other words to describe it. Those words are insulting, and reinforces the idea that it's wrong. Women who want to accepted latch on to those words to distance themselves from those "other" women.

It's no wonder that you all seem to think that women hate each other. Are you rasing your daughters to hide their anger and resentment? Are you talking about other women as if they were animals? You are contributing to the problem.

Posted by: Meesh | September 27, 2006 10:20 AM

"In the world of problems facing women, the title of a magazine article in a right-wing magazine is the least of our problems."

Yeah, except that it's the title of an article in a left-wing magazine.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 10:21 AM

I am sensing that many of the problems which arise when trying to work with any man or women are as a result of not treating others with respect (as evidenced on this blog). I personally don't expect to get anywhere if I cannot show respect to others in my daily business. This includes co-workers, support staff, management, my child care provider, my parents, my children, the receptionist at my client's firm, the cashier at the convenience store, the bagger at the grocery, the secretary at my child's school, need I go further? I have rarely found an instance where treating others with respect, has not garnered the same in return. By respect, I do not in any way mean being submissive, I mean, speaking in a respectful tone, saying please and thank you, admitting when I made a mistake (this works especially well when trying to get a credit card company to remove a late charge), actually listening, not making personal attacks, and not launching into a tyraid. Many times I have even found people to be more open to assisting me, even going out of their way to help out.

On the rare occasion that I am not treated respectfully, I chalk it up to the person dealing with some personal issues or having a bad day. I continue to deal with them in a respectful and professional manner for the duration of that interaction. Amazingly, most of the time that same person is often more receptive to assisting me in future transactions. I would hope that others would do the same for me, and forgive me when I am less than respectful, after all I am only human.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 27, 2006 10:21 AM

To 10:17 who wrote:

"Women don't scratch or bite or hiss."

"After the past couple of days on this blog, you could have fooled me."

Sir or Madam, they were fighting, insulting, and being rude. There's actually no physical interaction over the internet. If you are so easily fooled, I have bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

Posted by: Meesh | September 27, 2006 10:24 AM

With all due respect Leslie, I also think it's sort of ironic that you, who wrote a book about the so-called Mommy Wars, should be offended by this. I'm not sure what the author said about your book - maybe that would help me to understand your feelings - but wasn't one of your main goals (at first, at least) to get to the root of the "problem" and discover why women can't seem to come together on the WAH vs. SAH debate? If you recognized that there is a problem, why isn't it OK for someone else to recognize there's a problem and write about it?

I'm not offended by the cat comment. Cats are smart.

And just for the record, it seems that the only place I ever experience the mommy wars is in print. Wonder why that is?


Posted by: momof4 | September 27, 2006 10:26 AM

Gee, Achenblog must be super cool. Can I please please please join? Will you teach me the secret handshake?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 10:29 AM

"This blog used to be interesting, or at least provocative. Now, it's just...stupid."

Yeah, and they're laughing their butts off about it over at Achenblog.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 10:29 AM

I'd like to see a blog about how to balance healthy eating with, jobs, kids, commutes, etc.

Posted by: to Leslie or anyone else | September 27, 2006 10:30 AM

>>> the author does make one very good point: one of the underlying reasons why there is a "war" between SAHM and Working moms is that both sides are envious of each other. <<<

I don't think it is envy that is at the root of this "war". It is, IMHO, women looking to others for validation that they made the right choice, be it SAH or working, for their children. I think given the history, women are often blamed by society for the problems of their children (for being gay, for being schizophrenic etc). In psychology for example, there are tons of studies on mothers and children but there have been few studies on fathers. In the end, the "war" comes out of fear that either faction has made the wrong choice. Our society backs neither but criticizes both.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 27, 2006 10:31 AM

I think some folks are missing the point here. I don't think it's just the title alone. I think it's that accusing a woman of cattiness is a way of dismissing her concerns. So, to use 'meow mix' in an article about mothers suggests that one need not take the concerns of mothers seriously, that they can be written off as just so many catty females. Are some women "catty"-- sure, sometimes. But I would rather see a respectable magazine frame the issues moms face in a more respectful way. I have no idea what the article said-- perhaps there was a thorough examination of how HR policies, social norms, federal and state policies affecting women and children, and the economy influence mothers' experience. But the title suggests whatever problems "Mommies" face, they bring it on themselves with their "cattiness". This may be true for some women, but the Moms I know are not that way.

Posted by: JKR | September 27, 2006 10:33 AM

Alex. mom - I agree and that's why I made the comment at the end that if it's not envy then it's insecurity. I actually believe it's a bit of both. Maybe if we heard more from people who had made the different choices and how their kids turned out, it would be easier on us who are just starting out.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | September 27, 2006 10:34 AM

"This is the very reason that women who strive for excellence are seen as b**ches while the men who do are seen as eager overacheivers."

It's an invalid comparison, actually. I've only seen the term "B**ch" applied to a woman who publicly attacked someone in a personal or demeaning way. We guys refer to men who behave in the same way as "A***oles" and we deal with them in our own way privately.

That women can earn the term just by being motivated is not true, at least where men are concerned.

Posted by: Rufus | September 27, 2006 10:34 AM

"In the world of problems facing women, the title of a magazine article in a right-wing magazine is the least of our problems."

Yeah, except that it's the title of an article in a left-wing magazine.
>>>

Right-wing, left-wing is a matter of perspective.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 27, 2006 10:37 AM

Yeah, don't like somebody's opinion, call them names instead of arguing for your own opinion.
That sounds like the PURRFECT level America's sunk to, especially on this blog.

Posted by: Confused Godmother | September 27, 2006 10:44 AM

DM of 1,

I hope I didn't say that, I've just found that in my experience alone the common denominator has been with women. And the cat analogy very aptly describes the experience.

For us a stereotype is a starting point. We do our best to help our kids blend the practices of two radically different cultures and very often, out of the mouth of babes, comes a common stereotypical observation. At that point we start firing questions: Why is that, what makes you think that, is it valid? Sometimes not and, yes, sometimes it is.

We have to start somewhere and the first look should be if there is any merit to it. That was the challenge I was issuing since many of Leslie posters seemed to fit quite well the complaint.

Scarry, I was cheering for you when you supported her. I'm just trying to show that many women also buy into this analogy that we have to get in there and *scrap.*

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 10:44 AM

To momof4: I agree that I have only experienced the Mommy Wars online. I don't think people would be that judgmental out loud. I also think most of the Mommy Wars can be summed up in the simple fact that people are too emotionally invested in their choice to SAH or WOH or BF vs FF to be really truly rational about the situation. In both scenarios there are obvious pros and cons to each choice. But we don't want to see that because we feel we need to personally validate our own choices. You know what? We are really a blessed nation. Because the majority of the world and even some people in this country are too darn busy trying to survive to spend a heck of a lot of time pondering or validating individual choices. I think a bit of the Mommy Wars are really over dramatized.

Posted by: NewName2 | September 27, 2006 10:45 AM

10:44am - that was me. Sorry, got carried away.

Posted by: Tracy | September 27, 2006 10:46 AM

Thanks, Meesh -- you're exactly right.

Both women and men get angry, frustrated, sad, ambitious, etc. But historically, women have been taught to repress their aggressive feelings, whereas men have been taught to repress their vulnerability. So women either act in more subtle ways (and get called "catty") or ignore the stereotype (and get called b!tchy) -- it's a lose-lose. (Note: men run into the same double-standard on the vulnerability side -- beat it down and have a heart attack, or let it out and get called a wuss).

Point is, the "cat" language reinforces the stereotype -- "catty" is precisely what you get when people aren't up-front about stuff. And the term IS dismissive -- "oh, it's just a catfight," so who really cares WHAT they're fighting about? Seriously, if you write an article titled "Meow Mix," are you really expecting your readers to delve into the substance of the issues raised by the women you interview? Or are you just telling everyone "hey, come here, let's have some fun and watch the catfight" -- the literary equivalent of female mud-wrestling?

Posted by: Laura | September 27, 2006 10:47 AM

No problem, I wasn't offended, by your post; I just don't want everyone to think I sit in the Midwest and beat people up all the time! :) I agree that my first impulse is to defend people I care about, and that sometimes it comes out as I will crack you a good one. I agree that sometimes, my first impulse is to say "oh no you didn't."

Also, I am sorry but most, not all, of my negative work experiences in my life have come from women! It's not a sterotype for me it's my experince.

Posted by: scarry | September 27, 2006 10:52 AM

Some food for thought:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/23/AR2006072300512.html

Posted by: Moby | September 27, 2006 10:54 AM

Recent article on Philly.com about women calling each other chicks, etc, and is that good or bad

http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/15565733.htm

Posted by: MD | September 27, 2006 10:56 AM

What happened yesterday with Fo4? There are way too many posts to go back and read it all. Can someone sum it up quickly, or is that a bad idea (re-opening a can of worms)?

Posted by: Missed it | September 27, 2006 11:01 AM

Meesh: Why can't the women just be fighting? Because women aren't allowed to be mad. Why can't that girl just be pissed off instead of b**chy? Because women can't be pissed off. Socitey has deemed those reactions inappropriate for women, so we picked other words to describe it.
================
We call the women b**ches but the men are a**holes.

It's socially "inappropriate" for both genders. There's no double standard here. I keep my anger hidden from public view so I see no hypocricy in having a desire for others to do the same.

Posted by: J.J. | September 27, 2006 11:03 AM

NewName2:"I think a bit of the Mommy Wars are really over dramatized. "

I agree with your posting. Well said.
In my daily interactions with moms, they all make different choices to balance work/home and very rarely do I hear criticism of someone else's choice. Mostly there's sympathy, identification, and a genuine offer to help.

Mommy Wars was written to sell books, making a mountain out of a molehill.

And now a general statement (cringe!):
Today, men in the USA are not out to subjugate women, oppress them, take away their rights, or treat them like slaves. Men are born from women, have sisters mothers daughters, love them and want them to have a fair shake in this world.

OK, now I expect my general statement to be shot down by all the intelligent women on this blog. That's not enough though, I will also receive hurtful personal attacks.

I can take it. I am a bee. Just a worker bee going about my duties serving the Queen bee.

Posted by: WorkerBee | September 27, 2006 11:08 AM

Women check out/comment on other women much more than men EVER do. Women see other women as the competition (check out how many times scorned lovers attack the homewrecker and not the spouse) and oftentimes project overly aggressive, dare I say "male" behavior in the boardroom (though alas, not so much in the bedroom). I have worked for a number of women who clearly felt they had "something to prove" and thought the best way to do that was to both emasculate male underlings and have the daggers (not claws!) out for other women they perceived as threats.

Posted by: Stating the Obvious | September 27, 2006 11:08 AM

So am I on the same page as Laura and Meesh?

I really admire how articulate these two poster are, somewhat sad that I don't have the ability to participate in finished discussions about how we should be empowering ourselves with the spoken word. I'm down in the trenches (a male dominated profession) and I have no idea how to translate into reality what Laura and Meesh are talking about. When working with another woman professionally the dynamics can be great (even with 3) but as soon as there are 3 or 4+ in the group it seems to become quite unpleasant. I have one friend who, once I called her on it, apologized for under-cutting me and admitted it was for the boss' attention, but how do we reach a larger group? Can't conduct every working relation one-on-one. We still have to deal with the reality that this is happening with women.

Posted by: Tracy | September 27, 2006 11:09 AM

Rufus,

I was just wondering if you could tell me how you deal with the a-hole women in private and why it's your job to do so. Not, snarky, just curious.

Posted by: scarry | September 27, 2006 11:10 AM

Rufus, if that's the only point of mine that you disagree with, I feel honored. We'll have to agree to disagree on that one.

Posted by: Meesh | September 27, 2006 11:10 AM

I think that one of the reasons why this blog is so unpleasant is that the majority of posters have an intense need for control. They want to be able to control what others think of them and how others respond to them. The want to make sure that everyone knows how intelligent they are, how much they've accomplished, how little help they got achieving their success, and what excellent parents they are. Having established these creds, they can then sit back and confidently take potshots at everyone else -- particularly at those who threaten their complacency.

If you want to see an excellent working example of a blog community where people are supportive of each other and interested in things beyond themselves, lurk awhile at Achenblog. You all might learn something about kindness, compassion, and what sharing really means.

Posted by: Off this blog | September 27, 2006 11:22 AM

J.J., I agree that, in general, we are all encouraged not to be angry in public, and that men who do are called names.

However, as others have said, men's anger is not dismissed as being catty or bi*chy. Women's anger is described in animal terms and therefore easily ignored and attributed to just being a woman or to hormones.

Posted by: Meesh | September 27, 2006 11:24 AM

not everyone on here is like you just described.

Posted by: to Off this blog | September 27, 2006 11:27 AM

"not everyone on here is like you just described."

That's why I said "majority."

Posted by: Off this blog | September 27, 2006 11:32 AM

Offthisblog put it very nicely.

Could the reason for all the nastiness be due to the blog topics? Leslie sets the tone with statements like "sexist clueless men that run America", "nauseating articles by men". She searches for the most sexist articles written by (presumably
) sexist men and offers up scathing criticisms. The feminists pile on and give the impression that all men (esp white men) are like that, the whole world is out to keep them barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. The male bloggers get offended and hit back or try to defend themselves.
It gets nasty really quickly.

That's the nature of this blog and Leslie has made a conscious decision to have it that way.

So beware, all who venture here. Be a duck and let the vitriol slide off your back.
Instead of tit-for-tat, offer up constructive remarks, helpful suggestions, words of encouragement and other niceties.
I have seen some of them recently.
Which would you prefer to see on this blog?

I am a bee. Just a worker bee working for the queen.

Posted by: WorkerBee | September 27, 2006 11:32 AM

To Off this blog and hi to Pat

I checked out Achenblog and there are too many windbags over there.

Posted by: Elaine | September 27, 2006 11:34 AM

I have posted before as Anon, but I like this handle better!

The Onion has a particularly apropos article today --

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/53271

It made me laugh, but I do not condone stereotyping or bashing of anyone, including white males. My (white) father and DH are ardent supporters of my career aspirations.

Posted by: Fancy Feast | September 27, 2006 11:34 AM

Ever hear the phrase "cat fight" referring to 2 women fighting? There was even a Seinfeld episode about "cat fights" - so everyone should know about it.

As for checking my make-up and butt in the mirror - different mirrors of course - yes, I do that. I have never seen my cats do either, but they are boy cats. They are nice cats though, even if they are of the other evil-oppressive sex.

Posted by: cmac | September 27, 2006 11:40 AM

Tracy, I agree that it's happening, that women can be unkind to each other (I also believe that men can be unkind to each other). I disagree is that women should "own" this derogatory language. It should never be common parlance. I do not act that way, so I would never "own" it. My solution is to never use the words in reference to women again. I'm sure I can think of many other insults other than ones that degrade my sex.

It is not the role of women to take what society has prescribed for us and grin while we do it. I would like to think that women who recognize this issue would do their best not to fall victim to it. Ignore the women who do. Be a good role model. Once the women you work with no longer see you as a threat, they'll treat you like a normal person. If they make a personal attack or something else unprofessional, call them on it every time. Soon they'll realize that they don't have to act that way, and I'm sure they'll be relieved.

Don't have the energy or work with too many women who do this? The best you can do is isolate yourself from them so that you are not associated with them.

Posted by: Meesh | September 27, 2006 11:43 AM

"The feminists pile on and give the impression that all men (esp white men) are like that, the whole world is out to keep them barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen."

Worker Bee, have you actually read this blog?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 11:45 AM

Well Meesh, all I can say is that I've never heard anyone called names like that at work.

True, I'm a man, but aren't these things usually said behind the woman's back? I would think I'd be MORE likely to hear it than a woman.

Perhaps I'm just lucky in the job I've found. Who knows?

Posted by: J.J. | September 27, 2006 11:46 AM

"I checked out Achenblog and there are too many windbags over there."

Yeah, but they're friendly windbags. And they talk about interesting things. Not always me, me, me.

Granted, they do think the people on the Mommyblog (or, as one Achenblogger put it after reading yesterday's posts, Mommyflog) are nuts. But they actually exchange with each other their interests and observations, thereby enriching one another's lives.

I've been lurking there, on and off, for a while, and at first my reaction was similar to yours. But I've gotten familiar with the character and style of some of the regulars, and I really admire what they're doing over there.

Posted by: Off this blog | September 27, 2006 11:47 AM

@ Meesh

You make some good points. The fact that women have historically been told to supress their anger/emotion isn't irrelevant, but you also have to take into consideration that if a guy were being an ass, he'd be told he was as well. No one likes a jerk, whether they're a woman or a man. There are interchangable words for either sex in those situations, and "catty", while possibly offensive to some, has its own actual connotation aside from actually comparing a woman to an actual cat.

There are times that men are screwed over due to their stereotypes as well, possibly in part because of a constant barrage of the "stupid, neglectful father" image that's being thrown at us in movies and tv... probably because the directors grew up in a dysfunctional house or with their own twisted childhood that they want to vent.

I think you're making too much out of this, really. You have to pick your battles.

Posted by: Five | September 27, 2006 11:55 AM

Am I the only one who only sees the "mommy wars" in the media? I occasionally have a kind of disconnect with working mothers who would hate to stay home with their kids (not because they're bad parents, just because they love their work), and every once in a while I get a snarky sour grapes comment from someone who can't afford to stay home, but those are few and far between. Personally, I have great respect for working moms, and I know I'm lucky to be able to stay home.

IRL, the women I know realize that we all have our own challenges in life, and we probably don't know enough of the details to judge each other.

There are a handful of angry people who like to snipe at strangers on the internet-- this has nothing to do with how most women interact.

I think the "meow, meow, meow" garbage is a pathetic bid for attention. My first instinct is react the way you do to a cursing toddler-- just ignore it, unless you want to encourage it. (and no, I'm not saying men are like toddlers)

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM... | September 27, 2006 11:55 AM

Meesh - that's a tall order! I'll remain isolated for the next several months but then once the construction of our office finished I'll need to hire a full staff. So between now and then I'll work on rewiring my brain, then we'll see what kind of role model I'll be. I know you are right.

Posted by: Tracy | September 27, 2006 11:57 AM

I'd be more interested in how the article, in Leslie's words, belittles the trade-offs facing working and at-home mothers than in discussing the title. But not enough to go buy it.

Posted by: Sam | September 27, 2006 12:08 PM

Aren't some of the responses on the other blog screened too. That might explain some of the niceness that is missing here.

Posted by: to Off this blog | September 27, 2006 12:17 PM

Posted on Achenblog yesterday:


"kbertocci -- I too have often wondered what draws the boodlers to the boodle. But today, I am also preoccupied wondering what draws *anyone* to the Mommy blog. Here are my theories so far:

1) Their regular lives simply don't deliver enough in the way of drama, angst, and rage.

2) They have deepseated insecurities about some -- or every -- aspect of their childrearing and thus have a powerful, even irresistable, urge to displace and project that self-doubt onto other parents.

3) The Mommy blog is but a flash point in the broader culture wars.

4) They are all so sleep-deprived from having small children that they are cranky on their best day, *this close* to a complete psychotic break on their worst.

5) The transient nature of the DC area means that most of these people are from someplace else, their extended families are far away, and they are suffering because their own moms and grandmothers aren't around to provide practical support (with babysitting) and moral support (with the all-important assurance that it's all going to be OK). It's one thing to know in your head that it's probably going to all be OK. It's quite another to hear your mom say it's all going to be OK. People need that. I'm guessing parents especially need it.

Though I have *zero* desire to drop in on the Mommy blog ever again, I still have great admiration for parents. I can barely take care of self, home, and dog.

Posted by: annie | September 26, 2006 04:35 PM "

Posted by: Elaine | September 27, 2006 12:23 PM

"I was just wondering if you could tell me how you deal with the a-hole women in private and why it's your job to do so."

Ah sorry, I was referring to the men.

The only thing a man can do about such a woman in today's workplace is suck it up and take it.

Posted by: Rufus | September 27, 2006 12:26 PM

I completely agree with "Off the Blog" and with "annie" from the Achenblog.

Actually I am pretty disgusted from yesterday.

Although thanks to some of the posters yesterday who spoke frankly about their disabilities and challenges dealing with balance and everyday life-- really hats off to you guys-- thanks for braving a pretty nasty environment.

Posted by: UP | September 27, 2006 12:31 PM

Sensitivity is one thing. Over sensitivity is just too much. Being a "cat" person, I refer to most things is terms of feline phraseology at most times to all people. I refer to my daughter's hands as paws and warn co-workers that they are crossing a line by letting them know they "will get a hissing they'll not soon forget."

Don't get causht up too much in the analogy and pay attention to the point made. Its just an excuse to ignore someone who disagrees with you.

Posted by: Catmandoo | September 27, 2006 12:39 PM

Elaine,

Re Achenblog, you need to do more than just drop in and scan for posts you don't like. All you've done is to take a quick look and make a fast judgment. You're more intent on proving a point than on learning another point of view.

That's another problem with this blog. So many posters want the instant gratification of proving other people wrong.

If you spend some time lurking on Achenblog -- preferably with an open mind -- you might be quite surprised.

Posted by: Off this blog | September 27, 2006 12:50 PM

"but to say (and I'm using the examples mentioned by other posters) that women don't check their make up and/or back sides strains credulity to any person who has ever spent more than 30 seconds in a mall/office/gym."

Yup. It's not even a "women are so insecure!!!" statement either. Don't some people check themselves out when they walk past mirrors because they like what they see? That action could mean anything from "does this make my butt look big?" to "I like my big butt and I cannot lie"...

"The 'united sisterhood' is a total fantasy."

"United [any group bigger than a billion people]" is a total fantasy.

"We get 'caveman' too!"

Good point but weren't even Homo erectus, H. floresiensis, H. habilis, the Neanderthals (anyone know if the species name got settled as H. neanderthalensis or H. sapiens subspecies neanderthalensis?), etc. human?

"After the past couple of days on this blog, you could have fooled me."

Scratching, biting, and hissing on a blog? That brings to mind people cramming their teeth through their modems. ;)

"The difference is that it is socially acceptable to refer to women as cats and b**ches and hens... it's in video games, TV shows, books, and movies"

Video games? The Lucha Libre wrestler in Dead or Alive 4 has the stage name La Mariposa, but are there any other examples?

Posted by: Maria | September 27, 2006 12:54 PM

Several posts have disregarded Leslie's anger of the TNR's title noting the instances when men are referred to as animals, like "dogs". However, I think what Leslie is trying to point out is that women are being characterized as cats/catty, in a major publication. This is pretty public statement, in a public space, which most women even in close circles would find demeaning or
condesdencing and here should find offensive and another example that women and their concerns aren't necessarily being taken seriously in the public, in academia, in politics.

While comparing three books by women, the writer simply reduces the women's experience to a bunch of crying. They (women) are just ranting...poor "mommies, mommies, mommies."

Maybe in pursuing equality the feminist movement is/was not far-reaching enough to include issues that concern working families (both men and women)--of all socio-economic levels and ethnic backgrounds--and those of homosexuals.
Maybe then, we could all see that issues that concern women, families, social justice is this world are all inter-related and something to fight for.

Posted by: glarr | September 27, 2006 12:56 PM

Yesterday, I told the people who were picking apart FO4's story for evidence of fraud (with obssessive detail) to retract the fangs and claws and have a nice day. My comment (meant with amusement and not venom) was non-gender specific. In fact, I visualized people with fangs and claws, more like a characature (sp?), not a particular beast.

Personally, I think cats are pretty funny, sweet and not inclined to take any mess. I've had a few, and the goings-on I've seen from many women and men are nothing like the cats I've known. The cats have more class, really. Even the alley ones.

Now, the Tazmanian Devil, that might be an apt comparison for anyone of any gender who's acting like the fool of the week.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | September 27, 2006 12:58 PM

Comment about calling men "dogs" etc. There is a huge difference between using that kind of term in private (which I have heard) vs. headlining a cover story in a respected national magazine.

I don't think I have ever heard or read white men referred to as an animal species in such a public forum. Can you imagine an article about books written by three male writers titled "Puppy Chow"?

And yes, for some reason I have really been bashing men lately. No idea why. No offense intended to anyone, on this blog or elsewhere. Will try to back off and refocus (at least for a while). Thanks.

Posted by: Leslie | September 27, 2006 12:59 PM

I usually check when I walk past a mirror at work (make sure my shirt's tucked in, fly is zipped, etc.).

What's the big deal with someone checking how they look, particularly in a professional environment?

Posted by: Rufus | September 27, 2006 1:01 PM

But, I like cats. I wear a little makeup. I have a big butt (which I sometimes checkout in the hope that it's shrunk since the last time) My ex-husband was an "donkey", but my dad's a sweethart. I love America, but I'd like to go to France. I'm pretty conservative but I alway vote "D".

Posted by: I'm not a cat | September 27, 2006 1:12 PM

seems like the article's title was chosen pretty specifically to ellicit a reaction and garner attention. not having read the article, the title sounds belittling to me--if something in the media offends me, i write a letter to the editor and/or the author and/or i stop supporting said media. i'm not sure what else you can do, but make an effort to speak up and make an effort not to further such practices in your own life (work, at home, amongst friends, etc.). but we're obviously not past the point where we degrade one another or compare one another to animals. mixed up in all this is that while women seem to have garnered more respect and power than in the past, an attempt has been made to homogenize culture and ignore any differences between the sexes. popular media seem to drive sales by exploiting stereotypes and igniting flames around the differences, which tends to put spectacle over substance.

like many a reader i find myself coming back to this blog often, but wondering why. seems there's little balance: one writer thinks the arguments between workplace moms and stay-at-home moms is a "war" and the other thinks it's a "catfight." while i find the latter more dismissive and demeaning, people die in wars and mostly just get scratched and bloodied in cat fights.

Posted by: marc | September 27, 2006 1:15 PM

Completely off topic (no loss there as far as I'm concerned) but slate has an interesting article that mentions breast feeding today. Just another reminder that all those statistics can be misleading:

********
The number of people who must get the treatment for a single person to benefit is 50. This is known as the "number needed to treat." (NNT)...
To a savvy, healthy person with high cholesterol that didn't decrease with diet and exercise, a doctor could say, "A statin might help you, or it might not. Out of every 50 people who take them, one avoids getting a heart attack. On the other hand, that means 49 out of 50 people don't get much benefit." ...

In June, the New York Times ran an article headlined, "Breast-Feed or Else." It suggested that experts believe that "breast-fed babies are at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome and serious chronic diseases later in life, including asthma, diabetes, leukemia and some forms of lymphoma." Yet, the article never mentions the NNT for breast-feeding to prevent these scary diseases. Neither does any general-interest press article in LexisNexis, a database. There's a reason for this omission: The NNTs are astronomically high. Reasonable women might think that breast-feeding isn't worth the trouble--a conclusion that you don't want drawn if you're promoting breast-feeding at any cost.
**************
article at: http://www.slate.com/id/2150354?nav=wp

Posted by: can't help it | September 27, 2006 1:22 PM

The real issue isn't that the author of the NR article likened women to cats in his title, or that women are often the recipients of this particular slur? epigram? (I'm not sure you can call the word "cat" a slur.)

The real issue is that once a woman is noticeably pregnant, once she has kids, she is ever after a "mommy." That's the title that offends the #$&* out of me. At work, call me by my name, or "Hey You!" or "Doctor" or "Professor" or even "Boss," but please do not refer to me as a "Mommy." My kids get to do that, and thats a hat I wear only at home. At work, it is my work that matters, and my reproductive status is only relevant insofar as my need to leave the office at a given time to pick the kids up from daycare. I found that the change in how I was perceived at the office after I became pregnant for the first time was shocking. The term "mommy" is the perfect verbal encapsulation of this change in status. The use of that word by anyone other than my two year old is offensive and trivializes who we are and what we do.

Posted by: Former NoVA mom | September 27, 2006 1:23 PM

Cats are cool. Can we talk about cats now?

Posted by: GT | September 27, 2006 1:26 PM

we live with three cats.
they are all unemployed.

Posted by: marc | September 27, 2006 1:30 PM

"Men are pigs" is an expression heard in public, as a casual joke, and probably as often as all other animal metaphors combined. So, point taken, but I'd rather be called a cat then a pig, so let's ALL cut it out.

Actually, come to think of it, I'd also rather be called a cat than a dog.

Posted by: DC | September 27, 2006 1:33 PM

"I think what Leslie is trying to point out is that women are being characterized as cats/catty, in a major publication. This is pretty public statement, in a public space, which most women even in close circles would find demeaning or
condesdencing and here should find offensive"

Yesterday, on this very blog, women behaved "as cats/catty in a major publication."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 1:36 PM

I would be flattered by comparison to my cat. She's graceful, beautiful, perfectly dressed for all occasions (in real fur, too) and has that killer stare thing down pat. Magic doesn't need make-up and is totally unconcerned about the size of her butt. For that matter, she isn't concerned about the size of my, or anyone else's butt.

On the whole, most animal comparisons are less flattering to the animal than to the human.

Posted by: WMA | September 27, 2006 1:37 PM

While we're posting here about whether or not we're cat, dogs, pigs or some other type of animal, there is a picture on the mainpage of this website of a beautiful young woman who was recently killed in Iraq. I'll be carrying that picture in my mind for quite some time. The Faces of the Fallen link has pictures of most of the young people killed in Iraq and Afganistan. Some of us have children that age. How do you balance that?

Posted by: Perspective Check | September 27, 2006 1:37 PM

"Good point but weren't even Homo erectus, H. floresiensis, H. habilis, the Neanderthals (anyone know if the species name got settled as H. neanderthalensis or H. sapiens subspecies neanderthalensis?), etc. human?"

No. Only H. sapiens sapiens are considered humans.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 1:39 PM

in response to FormerNoVa mom:

do people actually call you "mom" or "mommy" at work? or do they just treat you differently?

personally, once a woman has kids, i always consider her a woman (only, usually, a more tired one). but this type of treatment seems to depend a lot on the office cutlure (how management sets the tone and the staff demographics--married vs single; parents vs. nonparents, etc.). what's your office like?

Posted by: marc | September 27, 2006 1:40 PM

That's a really odd thing to do.

Posted by: ToCatmandoo | September 27, 2006 1:42 PM

Before I was married and had kids I always thought of married people especially if they had kids as being more grown-up than me, even if they were younger. Now I'm too doggone grown-up.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 1:43 PM

C'mon everyone - Leslie MUST be baiting us. If not, what an embarrassment she must be for her poor husband. It must really suck to be him.

Posted by: dc | September 27, 2006 1:47 PM

What the crap? Of all the things you could use this space for, you complain about the subtitle to an otherwise fine article? I'm all about railing against objectification, but are you serious? And the concept that it's acceptable to label white men animals just because they don't get labeled that much in the media is appalling. I'll just be over here with the people who think it's not okay to make disparaging remarks about entire groups, regardless of where they stand in society.

And you really can't be all, "Stop with the generalizations!" while at the same time making generalizations (you know, saying we all look at our butts and wear makeup). I mean, you could, but you just look really silly.

Posted by: get off the Post and onto Myspace | September 27, 2006 1:48 PM

Ok, Lets talk about cats.

We have 2 female cats in our family that are really, really smart. When I get about 2 feet from the Master's Chair, I can hear their feet hit the floor.

They figured out that I was blind a long time ago!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 1:48 PM

"in response to FormerNoVa mom:

do people actually call you "mom" or "mommy" at work? or do they just treat you differently?"

I have been referred to as a "mommy" in the third person (I heard this with my own ears). A good friend from college experienced the same treatement. She was a high earning and respected journalist, and after the birth of her daughter, her editor stated that "now that you're a mommy, I'm sure you'll want to work fewer hours." She didn't, and had a great childcare situation with her husband and her own mother. Her "mommy" status was not going to impact her availability.

Posted by: FormerNoVa mom | September 27, 2006 1:48 PM

Leslie, Leslie, Leslie, have you never been to a PTA meeting? Meow, indeed . . .

I recently read a great book called "Queenbee Moms and Kingpin Dads" which is actually about the way parents in particular get ugly and nasty and mean when it comes to things dealing with their kids, and how in many ways it actually DOES mirror all the high school, cheerleader/in group type stuff. (I'd love it if you could interview the book's author for this blog! I think she lives in Bethesda.)

Unfortunately, when adults behave this way, it does sidetrack them from dealing with the real issues, and instead simply wastes time as they attack one another. (I will always remember watching the principal at my kid's old school as certain witless parents stood up and made statements like "I think I speak for all the parents here when I say . . " The thing was, the principal knew that as long as this particular floor show was going on, no real work would get done, no real issues would get addressed, and nothing would change. As long as women (and men) keep attacking each other, there's no need to look at the larger issues.

(And I think the "hot mom/mojo mom" or whatever it is article that links to this page is stupid, because it kind of reminds me of Naomi Wolf's "The Beauty Myth." Men can worry about getting that corner office while the women wander around whining, "Do I look frumpy? Do I look like a housewife? How come all the other moms are cooler than me? Maybe I need some highlights in my hair . . . " Personally, I think I'd look good in a bigger house. With a bigger paycheck to match.)

Posted by: Armchair Mom | September 27, 2006 1:51 PM

I personally like cats and the fact that cats are independent, strong willed, very intelligent and poised, graceful creatures. If someone wants to make those insinuations about me I am flattered. Those women in a snit about this probably need a sense of humor which ironically cats don't' seem to have.

Posted by: just married | September 27, 2006 1:57 PM

"Comment about calling men "dogs" etc. There is a huge difference between using that kind of term in private (which I have heard) vs. headlining a cover story in a respected national magazine."

Leslie -- this is not very well-researched, but a quick search on Amazon turns up two books entitled "Men Are Dogs" and many, many, MANY books with the "Men are Pigs" theme. I couldn't find anything as damning when I searched for books about women and cattiness.

So I do think that men are likened to animals in the public forum -- we're used to it.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | September 27, 2006 2:01 PM

People who haven't much experience being discriminated against don't seem to be as sensitive to the whole name calling thing. That's why men don't get all huffy about being called dogs or pigs. Likewise, whoever heard of a white person getting too upset about being called a "honky" or "whitey". The name calling tends to be more deamining to people who have been part of a group that's been historically discriminated against by the more powerful majority.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 2:09 PM

I'd like to know more about the PTA and what goes on at those meetings. I've heard horror stories. How is everyone else's expericne? Does everyone hate the PTA moms? Are you a PTA mom? Is this yet another myth of the mommy wars.

Come on Armchair mom throw a dog, sorry a cat a bone, i'm really interested.

Posted by: scarry | September 27, 2006 2:12 PM

yet another genarlization:

..... Likewise, whoever heard of a white person getting too upset about being called a "honky" or "whitey". The name calling tends to be more deamining to people who have been part of a group that's been historically discriminated against by the more powerful majority.

I geuss those are the only names that a white person could be called. That's kind of racist and uncalled for in itself.

Posted by: scarry | September 27, 2006 2:16 PM

Arlington Dad, again, that book was most likely written for women. TNR is written for a much wider audience that includes men and women. There's a difference between sharing an inside joke among friends when no one is listening and tacking your joke all over the Starbucks counter by the office.

And to the people who love cats, do you really think that people who call you catty are calling you graceful and sweet? When you call a man a dog are you calling him loyal? Doubtful.

Posted by: Meesh | September 27, 2006 2:16 PM

Really women, I love cats too but when you're in your supervisor's office, negotiating for a pay raise, do you really want your boss thinking of you as a feline (hence, a domisticated animal that's "graceful, posied") or would you like to to be taken seriously as intelligent, a person that can work independently, takes initiatve, rises to challeges, be a team leader?

And usually when I hear men referred to as dogs or pigs it's when they're treating women as doormats/pieces of meat. So it's behavior considered (I hope) socially unacceptable and a justifiable putdown. A woman is "catty" when she raises her voice/has an opinion/confronts another woman usually, referring to "cat fight," which is seen as something comical, silly, not to be taken seriously, and just a spectacle.

Posted by: please | September 27, 2006 2:19 PM

Quick check of Achenblog, also a WaPo interactive discussion, reveals many spirited posts, some political. Yet the discussion is much more civil than the dog fight/cat fight/guinea pig boxing on this venue

Also well-tolerated, are a range of subjects For example, today includes off-topic directions to a regular reader/poster from Canada about avoiding Mixing Bowl traffic when he visits next week.

And, sky reports for Father of Four. Regular posters describe the color palette, cloud type, rain-threat, and other qualities of the sky.

Wow. Spirited discussion. A community with edge and verve instead of a full frontal assault (insert your least favorite animal here) arena.

Yesterday, I appreciated Glover Park's idea about how credit counseling can help tame the credit cat and the debt dog.

I still think a healthy recipe/eating well topic would be helpful.

Balance between 4 PM and bedtime remains hard.

We suspect that Father of Four puts beans in his mystery one-pot surprise. Me, I like fresh garden beans marinated in pickle juice for a day. Boys, including neighbors, eat those as if they were pickles.

One serving of veggies: check.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 27, 2006 2:23 PM

But that achenblog has a lot of windbags and pointy-headed sciency types.
They often blather about their own fanasty lives and one of them claims to be 3,000 years old, and another says he's a gnome, and they claim to have a motto-- clouds are hard, whatever that means... so give me a break, it ain't for everybody.

You like it, don't flaunt it here unless you want a mauling.

Posted by: Confused Godmother | September 27, 2006 2:25 PM

If I were a cat, I'd be annoyed at being compared to some of the women I know. Let me ask my cats what they think. Cat #1: I'm hungry. Cat #2: I'm sleeping. Cat #3: Remind me, do I know you?

Posted by: Cat lover | September 27, 2006 2:25 PM

"And yes, for some reason I have really been bashing men lately. No idea why. No offense intended to anyone, on this blog or elsewhere. Will try to back off and refocus (at least for a while). Thanks."

Wow, that sounds sincere! (very much TIC) Don't put yourself out, really...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 2:27 PM

I looked on Achenblog to see what you were all talking about. Unless I clicked on the wrong link, todays topic was about the over or under population of the world and different countries. They talk a lot amongst themselves and only occasionally address the topic. Seemed weird to me. I think Confused Godmother picks an even more disturbing picture of that blog.

Posted by: NewName2 | September 27, 2006 2:29 PM

"I geuss those are the only names that a white person could be called. That's kind of racist and uncalled for in itself"

Jeez, Scarry. Those were the only ones I could think of. Do you disagree with my point or just my examples (outdated as they may be)? I don't get you. I don't think there was anything even remotely offensive or racist about my post.

Posted by: Me | September 27, 2006 2:29 PM

Did I just read Leslie admit to man-bashing, or were my eyes bleary with cat fur?

Scarry, re: PTA's: There have been several discussions on this forum about PTA moms that have given a whole range of stories - horror and otherwise. For the most part I think most people ignore the obnoxious militant PTA types - but it does turn some of us (like me) off from even attending a meeting. My volunteer time goes to the classroom of my kids.

Posted by: cmac | September 27, 2006 2:29 PM

I wasn't bothered, either, but the New Republic article (and as a subscriber for 15 years, it is definitely not a conservative magazine). He was trying to make a very good point about the damage we women do each other, and the forests of trees sacrificed to this discussion. Frankly, I'm surprised that you should object given that you describe the Mommy Wars as a "catfight" yourself. I'm sick to death of the way women try to get others to validate their choices, and sick also of the sheer volume of writing on the subject. Ugh! Move on!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 2:32 PM

"Wow, that sounds sincere! (very much TIC) Don't put yourself out, really..."

Geez -- a person can't win with you folks. You even want to tell people how to word their apologies.

It's a CONTROL thing

Posted by: Off this blog | September 27, 2006 2:36 PM

"the damage we women do each other, and the forests of trees sacrificed to this discussion" would have been a lovely title for the TNR article. But I gues "Meow" is a better way of paraphrasing that eloquent point you just made. Too bad it's lost at the cost of degarding women...but who cares, right?

Posted by: please | September 27, 2006 2:37 PM

Leslie says: "And yes, for some reason I have really been bashing men lately... No offense intended to anyone..."

Please explain how one can be bashing and not intending any offense?
Can I call you a jerk, moron, racist without intending any offense?

Why are you taking offense at the TNR Meow! article? Would all be forgiven if the author said , "no offense intended" by calling women cats?

Posted by: To Leslie | September 27, 2006 2:38 PM

"...pointy-headed sciency types...."

TeeHee. Funny. Can't think of an animal-totem for nerds but I am sure someone here will.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 27, 2006 2:40 PM

Resting blood pressure: 115/75
After reading this blog: 125/85.

Must refrain from typing.
Must refrain from typing.
Must refrain from typing.

Dang it!

Posted by: Homer Simpson | September 27, 2006 2:41 PM

"the damage we women do each other, and the forests of trees sacrificed to this discussion" would have been a lovely title for the TNR article. But I gues "Meow" is a better way of paraphrasing that eloquent point you just made. Too bad it's lost at the cost of degarding women...but who cares, right?

Posted by: please | September 27, 2006 2:42 PM

College Parkian, Animal totem for nerds???

Must resist the Achenblogian allure to go off topic...
MUST resist... resist...

What the hey.

Totem for nerds: Mouse, bats, owls, elephants (on the bottom, of course), weasels...

Posted by: Confused Godmother | September 27, 2006 2:44 PM

"Really women, I love cats too but when you're in your supervisor's office, negotiating for a pay raise, do you really want your boss thinking of you as a feline (hence, a domisticated animal that's "graceful, posied") or would you like to to be taken seriously as intelligent, a person that can work independently, takes initiatve, rises to challeges, be a team leader?"

Everyone please raise your hands in here, who thinks of an actual cat when they think of women? Now just the guys, when youre looking at a woman who is trying to get a point across to you, do you visualize a shrieking animal with fur? No?

The phrase "catty" doesnt mean that people have to actually think of you as an animal, the word has a connotation attached that carry's a feeling. Now if your boss said to you "quit being so catty", then put a saucer of milk in front of you, that might be a bit offensive. Now you know what would be offensive, if you're talking about animals? How about attaching race to an animal. They do it all the time in cartoons or in advertisements, but when you talk to your neighbor Pedro, do you vizualize the Taco Bell chihuahua and think "I can't take him serious, all he does is shiver and sleep"?

Posted by: Five | September 27, 2006 2:45 PM

Maybe part of the "mommy wars" is purely human nature - the grass is always greener on the other side of the street.

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | September 27, 2006 2:51 PM

pointy-headed sciency types >>>

Hey... I don't have a pointy head.

Posted by: alex. mom | September 27, 2006 2:52 PM

To confused godmother: Now that I think about it that gnome guy from Achenblog sounds a lot like my friend's husband. I am going to ask her about it. He is definitely a pointy head science type. I am still cracking up about the clouds are hard.

Posted by: NewName2 | September 27, 2006 2:53 PM


I agree with the bloggers who take offense at the TNR article. Women on this blog are not like felines at all! My cat is very well-behaved and very loving.

Posted by: Cat Lover | September 27, 2006 2:53 PM

"I'd like to know more about the PTA and what goes on at those meetings. I've heard horror stories. How is everyone else's expericne? Does everyone hate the PTA moms? Are you a PTA mom? Is this yet another myth of the mommy wars. "

I'm not a PTA mom, but I was turned off totally to participating in my son's PTA after attending the first meeting. First, the principal was there. That may be par for the course, but it's hard to honestly discuss what's wrong if the head honcho is always in attendance. What if the principal is part of the problem? And, there were no teachers at the meeting.

Second, they were discussing events like ice cream socials and fund-raisers. Okay, groovy, but what about those lagging test scores? What about the landscaping that's sorely in need of repair? Why are there no teacher assistants in all the kindergartens?

Also, parent involvement was next to nothing at the school overall. I signed up to help out with a science program and never rec'd a call. Yet, they often put out notices begging for parent help.

In short, that PTA was politicized, clique-ish and not an effective organization, in my book. I saw only 1 or 2 fathers participating. The moms there weren't necessarily nasty, they were just, to me, clueless.

Now, HOA women (and men), whoo-hoo, don't get me started.


Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | September 27, 2006 2:54 PM

Leslie -- This blog has become irrelevant. I had moderate hopes at the beginning, but I'm increasingly disappointed with the decreasing quality of engagement and discussion.

Anyone want to start a new blog, along the lines of discourse suggested by Anne Taylor Fleming on the NewsHour Monday evening?:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/social_issues/july-dec06/president_09-25.html

Real issues. No cat fighting.

Posted by: enufalready | September 27, 2006 2:56 PM

I am a room parent at my son's school, and I have attended a few PTA meetings. Our PTA meetings are quite productive. We have them once a month, and there is an agenda and usually a guest speaker. The guest speaker presents on a specific topic, such as Transition to Middle School, or Standarized test scores (what the recent test scores mean and where the school falls within the state and county standards). At our school, some things which the PTA made possible last year was the purchase of AV equipment to aid in translation for our non-English speaking parents. The PTA provides funding for numerous after school enrichment activities and clubs, along with field trips and in-school assemblies. The PTA organizes multiple community building activities yearly including Family Picnics, Family Game nights, International Night, and the Community Fair. The PTA maintains a parent resource library filled with books, tapes and DVDs which offer information on teaching and parenting topics. The PTA also provides funds to aid families who's children are on free and reduced luch program pay for field trips and enrichment activities.

Due to a PTA meeting last year, the parents came to a consensis that traditional fund raising by way of magazine drives, catalog sale items, frozen pizza/cookie dough sales was a waste of time and funds, since only a small portion of the proceeds stay with the school. So in order to reduce the number of fund raisers throughout the year our school has adopted a direct pledge campaign.

The point is that the PTA does accomplish quite a bit for your local school. Parent involvement within a school is perhaps the single most important indicator of overall retention and test scores. I suggest attending a PTA meeting before knocking it.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 27, 2006 3:00 PM

I've seen in the office where it can be covert--where women are praised more for being "graceful and poised" for some outfit they wear, their smile, charm, rather than the work they produce. Sometimes it's blatantly overt discrimination, and we are supposed to take it like a man. Normally, yes it's not a problem, but I don't see men getting these remarks.

Actually I am a latina who has heard your spectrum of nasty comments about women and of latinos generally. So let's not open that can of worms, because to say people don't have their generalizations of "Mexicans and Puerto ricans," particulary in the beltway is a joke.

Posted by: please | September 27, 2006 3:00 PM

Also check out the REAL mommyblog

www.THEmommyblog.net

Enjoy!

Posted by: Confused Godmother | September 27, 2006 3:00 PM

"Now if your boss said to you "quit being so catty", then put a saucer of milk in front of you, that might be a bit offensive."

You could retort to your boss, "Stop being a jackass." But I don't know what you would put in front of him or her. Ahem.

"How about attaching race to an animal. They do it all the time in cartoons or in advertisements, but when you talk to your neighbor Pedro, do you vizualize the Taco Bell chihuahua and think ..."

'Drop the chalupa?'

I couldn't resist.

On the other hand, why does the Hispanic guy always have to be named Pedro? Huh, huh, huh?

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | September 27, 2006 3:03 PM

"Ever notice that there aren't many (okay, any) words in our language that specifically compare white men to a particular animal species?"

Actually, I disagree. Just as women are likened to cats, men are often compared to dogs.
They are called "horndogs," "hangdogs," "junk-yard dogs," "pit bulls," "lapdogs," "dog-faced," and that's all that I can think of on the spur of the moment. When people talk about the business being a "dog-eat-dog" world, they aren't talking literally about canine creatures, after all.
Men are also compared to bears, moose, wolves and sharks, depending on the situation.
Nonetheless, I do agree with Leslie that this whole catfight/"meow"/Mommy-wars thing is unfortunate. And yes, as a previous writer pointed out, that "catfight" episode of Seinfeld definitely revealed a lot of truth about our society.

Posted by: anon mom | September 27, 2006 3:09 PM

Me,

I just don't consider myself white although many people do. I have been called names because of my ethnicity and it hurts. My friend has also been called names because of his ethnicity. I guess what bugged me about your post was that the term white people implies that we are all the same thing and that we couldn't have possibly experienced anything that would be termed as offensive or racist. I didn't call you racist, a lot of people think the way that you do and are not racist. It's the idea in general that many people have that white people can not possible know what it feel like to feel discrimination and that word don't hurt us. I'm sorry if I offended you, it is a sore topic for me.

Posted by: scarry | September 27, 2006 3:10 PM

On the other hand, why does the Hispanic guy always have to be named Pedro? Huh, huh, huh?

Before I get accused of being racist, or faking a disability, or using multiple names to make posts or whatever (not saying you said that) as is the style of this blog, my father's spanish. Pedro just rolls off the tongue a bit more readily than Atahualpa or Senor XT'TAPALATAKETTLE

Posted by: Five | September 27, 2006 3:11 PM

"On the other hand, why does the Hispanic guy always have to be named Pedro? Huh, huh, huh?"

I was married to a hispanic guy, but his name was Bob. Never tried calling him Pedro:)

Posted by: Me | September 27, 2006 3:15 PM

Actually I am a latina who has heard your spectrum of nasty comments about women and of latinos generally. So let's not open that can of worms, because to say people don't have their generalizations of "Mexicans and Puerto ricans," particulary in the beltway is a joke.

Posted by: please | September 27, 2006 03:00 PM
-------------

I love the fact that everyone associates Latino with Mexican. Mexicans forgets about the other Latinos. You know there are a whole bunch of other countries down in Central and South America.

Posted by: Tango Partner | September 27, 2006 3:18 PM

That's great that the PTA has fund raisers to raise money to buy stuff for kids who shouldn't even be here. That's nice. They can't speak English so we will translate it for them. That is really something to be proud of.

Maybe you should have hired an extra teacher with that money so that the other kids don't have to get behind while the teacher is going slower with the kids who can't speak English.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 3:25 PM

Leslie,

With all due respect to your question and to the posts of Meesh and scarry today, which are reasonable, this seems to be a bit too much to get particularly excited over.

At the risk of being whacked for generalizations, sometimes there are things to be learned from trends and small truths that you see revelled sometimes over time. They aren't scientific, don't hold up unverisally, of course, but they sometimes have things to offer. So I'll offer one relavent to what has been discussed earlier, and throwing it into the arena for what it is worth.

Several posters have noted that women workers (especially once in larger groups), tend to show negative interactions with each other. For myself, despite the age old claim that men are territorial, it's been my experience that women are massively more terrotorial in nature, much more than most guys ever were. They often try to strictly reinforce expected behaviors, and in larger groups very frequently steer toward an unspoken hierarchial arrangement. And this hierarchy they defend (often) visciously, including excommunication of females who don't play along/know their place. All this often happens without the men around them even clued into the situation.

In the upper professions and board rooms perhaps this is something less of a problem, but for those females I've personally known who rebelled and fought the heirarchy of existing females in the workplace (and were therfore kicked out of the group), I've often heard them say they much prefer to work exclusively among men. They seemed bewildered about having to play such assigned roles. Perhaps we men seemed simpler creatures (or at least the motivations are clearer/more direct).

A flotsam example of this that rolls over into everyday concepts is the old saw that "women dress more for other women than they do for men" (despite often blaming their need to dress/makeup on men).

Whether posteers find any truth or not in the above musings, my having five sisters made one thing clear to this guy--women fight each other on so many levels, often savagely, and including levels guy can't even see (or fathom, thankfully.)

I offer this for what value you may find in it, or to at least offer a new line for discussion.

Though after yesterday, I expect I may end up in smaller peices than Fof4...let's see what animal I get called (for I know what happens to the messenger.)

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | September 27, 2006 3:26 PM

For once, I have to agree with the Author, women in this country today don't resemble cats, not in the slightest way, with approx. 70% of them weighting 300 lbs+ the appropriate animal characterization is pig.

Posted by: mcewen | September 27, 2006 3:28 PM

For once, I have to agree with the Author, women in this country today don't resemble cats, not in the slightest way, with approx. 70% of them weighting 300 lbs+ the appropriate animal characterization is pig.

Posted by: mcewen | September 27, 2006 3:29 PM

would any of the women here object to being called a fox? or get characterized as being foxy?

Posted by: Sexy guy | September 27, 2006 3:31 PM

For once, I have to agree with the Author, women in this country today don't resemble cats, not in the slightest way, with approx. 70% of them weighting 300 lbs+ the appropriate animal characterization is pig.

Posted by: mcewen | September 27, 2006 3:32 PM

For once, I have to agree with the Author, women in this country today don't resemble cats, not in the slightest way, with approx. 70% of them weighting 300 lbs+ the appropriate animal characterization is pig.

Posted by: mcewen | September 27, 2006 3:32 PM

I especially like how another segment of the population has been deemed socially acceptable to poke fun at, blondes. My own father thinks it is perfectly acceptable to forward blonde jokes to me. You guessed it, I am blonde, been that way since birth. I am so grateful to all of you out there who think that it is fun to perpetuate the stereotype that being being intelligent and blonde are mutually exclusive. I guess that there should be a little box on the SATs which asks your hair color, that way they can make sure that under no uncertain terms should any blonde get a score higher than 1200.
I think that we all need to get a little thicker skins here.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 3:34 PM

I can't agree more with texas dad of 2, and no I am not one of his five sisters. :)

Posted by: scarry | September 27, 2006 3:35 PM

To: September 27, 2006 03:25 PM

For your information our school's test scores in math and reading are well above the state and county benchmarks, and those scores keep climbing each year. This includes the ESOL students.

Please do not make generalizations about who should and should not "be here." I am hope that you are refering to illegal immigration issues not legal immigration and that you are not exhibiting some elitest attitude about who should and should not have children based on family income.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 27, 2006 3:40 PM

Texas Dad of 2: I came down pretty hard on Fof4 yesterday. You might be surprised to learn that I agree completely with you. Your observations are one of the reasons I got out of management and went into consulting -- with its freedom and flexibility and choices. I'm a mid-40s mom who works full time. I don't have balance yet, but at least I don't have to deal with the petty office politics.

Posted by: enufalready | September 27, 2006 3:41 PM

Again: yes, there are derogatory words such as pig and horndog that are used to describe men verbally in casual conversation.

The difference is that it is not acceptable to use these words to describe men in a mainstream newspaper or magazine article, yet it apparently remains acceptable to use animal monikers to describe women. This is what I find insulting -- it's collective societal agreement that it's okay to demean women by comparing them to animals. And therefore, to also do much worse to them.

Posted by: Leslie | September 27, 2006 3:43 PM

Oh boo hoo, don't hate me because I'm blond.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 3:45 PM

Scarry-- a couple of things re: your 3:10 post:

I think you're right that names that label entire groups are hurtful---they do away with any sense of individual agency or acheivement. And on a personal level, yes, being called names because of one's memebership in a racial/ ehtnic group (I'm not sure if people have called you names because they consider you white or because you're Irish. There is a very big and important difference between race and ethnicity) can be very painful. But look at the issue from a longer lens. True, names that label white people lump the entire race together, but the fact is that white people as a group do enjoy a certain amount of privledge because this nation was founded upon ideals that gave whites rights and citizenship while denying them to other racial groups. This privledge includes (and I'm white, so I'll slip into the first person here) never having to worry that my actions will reflect on my race as a whole (i.e. if I go out with curlers, I don't worry about someone thinking, "white people are so nasty."), never having to wonder if I got my job because of my skills or because of some entitlement program OR wondering if my co-workers think I was hired because or my race, not my skills. Because of the historic power of whites in this country, while being called a name can hurt personally, it doesn't carry the same macro-level wiff of opresison as racist names for other groups. Similarly, since the nation was founded by men, with full citenzenship rights for women only given with the 19th amendment, calling women names is worse than calling men names because of the historical (and current) position of women in the power structure. In short, yeah, no one should be calling names. But there are different degrees to the wrongness of name calling based on the relative power positions of the group/people involved.

I should also add, that since the country was designed by white men who put a property owning stipulation on the rights of citizenship, these same issues apply to people in working and lower classes.

In the end, it all comes down to race, class and gender.

Please excuse any speling errors/typos. I'm dyslexic.

Posted by: Reston | September 27, 2006 3:45 PM

Texas Dad of 2 - Thank you for understanding so well. But it begs the question: Could it be it's because we live in Texas?

There's a reason we wanted to be our own country.

Posted by: Tracy | September 27, 2006 3:50 PM

Okay Leslie,you want a prominent mainstream magazine calling out men as though they were animals?

http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19940214,00.html

Please tell me, though, did the article you referenced have a picture of a woman with a tail or licking themselves clean?

Posted by: Five | September 27, 2006 3:51 PM

Okay Leslie,you want a prominent mainstream magazine calling out men as though they were animals?

http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19940214,00.html

Please tell me, though, did the article you referenced have a picture of a woman with a tail or licking themselves clean?

Posted by: Five | September 27, 2006 3:51 PM

Oh boo hoo, don't hate me because I'm blond.

You completely missed the point.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 3:56 PM

Oh boo hoo, don't hate me because I'm blond.

Just proves everyone's point about women and how they treat other women.

Posted by: to September 27, 2006 03:45 PM | September 27, 2006 4:02 PM

OMG, this blog has totally jumped the shark.

Leslie has nothing left to say, no interesting topics left to bring up. So we're reduced to this.

It's time to shut down this blog.

Posted by: unhappy daze | September 27, 2006 4:05 PM

Oh boo hoo, don't hate me because I'm blond.

Just proves everyone's point about women and how they treat other women.

The poster was anonymous. How do you know it wasn't a man who said the first comment?

Posted by: NewName2 | September 27, 2006 4:06 PM

That's great that the PTA has fund raisers to raise money to buy stuff for kids who shouldn't even be here. That's nice. They can't speak English so we will translate it for them. That is really something to be proud of.

Maybe you should have hired an extra teacher with that money so that the other kids don't have to get behind while the teacher is going slower with the kids who can't speak English.


This is beyond offensive.

Posted by: NewName2 | September 27, 2006 4:07 PM

"This is beyond offensive."

Maybe, but isn't it important for us to be aware that some people hold these views?

Posted by: Elaine | September 27, 2006 4:11 PM

Personally, I think women should be spending MORE time looking at their backsides in the mirror in the hope it would cause them to reduce the size therein ...

Posted by: Snarky | September 27, 2006 4:17 PM

"White Men"...?

Leslie, what exactly does race have to do with your umpteenth humorless screed?

Posted by: Registered Voter | September 27, 2006 4:17 PM

I don't think it is offensive to ask people to learn the language, but where do kids learn it when their parents are immigrants--school!

Reston,

I agree with some but not all of your post. Just so you know I would never correct your spelling errors my FIL is dyslexic and I myself am a bad speller! :)

Posted by: scarry | September 27, 2006 4:17 PM

I haven't read all the posts today, but I don't really want to. The flagrant male-bashing is getting pretty petty. The reference that Leslie complains about is metaphorical.

And since Leslie seems to be using that old worn technique of only blindly citing those things that will support her position and ignoring anything else, I'll point out that far more common than any cat or cattiness reference is the term "male chauvinist pig." It's nice that it's such a pleasant positive way to describe men. It brings such lovely images of those delightful animals that I'm sure all men would love to be described this way. And for reference, Time and The New York Times have used this phrase. I even found the reference in the Washington Post (a quote from Ann Coulter). It's a common derogatory term affixed to men, but clearly below your radar, so you feel free to pick those things that you want to inflame the gender war.

Don't bother responding to me. This topic is not worth my time. I'll be back tomorrow when there may be something worthwhile to chat about.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 27, 2006 4:30 PM

"Maybe, but isn't it important for us to be aware that some people hold these views?"

Why would this be "important" for me to know this? I don't hold these views and how I conduct myself isn't dependent on whether or not others hold these views. I have enough that is important in my life without getting caught up in every possible offensive thing in the world.

That also applies to the word 'catty'. Over time, this has come to mean people, yes usually women, who are mean and petty with each other. I am a woman and don't find it offensive or degrading - just descriptive.

Posted by: to elaine | September 27, 2006 4:50 PM

Why is it that when women question our society's current power structure they're "male bashing"?

Our social structure is based on gender. It's not male bashing to call parts of that structure into question.

Posted by: quick question | September 27, 2006 4:52 PM

"That's great that the PTA has fund raisers to raise money to buy stuff for kids who shouldn't even be here. That's nice. They can't speak English so we will translate it for them. That is really something to be proud of."

dcdesigner said nothing about kids who can't speak English and did say "the purchase of AV equipment to aid in translation for our non-English speaking parents." Many American citizens who have every right to be here and attend public schools here are native speakers of English even though one or both of their parents don't speak English.

Posted by: Maria | September 27, 2006 4:54 PM

And here I was expecting to receive cannon shots...

Tracy...always glad to chat with another member our our great state!! And, um...guessing mean you mean we might have better stayed our own country? The Republic of Texas lasted only nine glorious years, alas (1836-1845). A few Texas extra tidbits for our Northern cousins. In honor of being our own seperate nation first before statehood, Texas retains the right to fly our state flag at the same height as the US flag. And though we mistakenly hear on occasion that Texas retained the right to succeed (thought the civil war proved that one wrong rather conclusively), we did retain the right to further subdivide our state. Heck, if we chopped ourselves up into Rhode Island or other NE-sized states, just think how many Senators we could get down here?!?

For scarry: Glad to see that you could see some value in what I wrote. As always, it's a pleasure...

For enuf: Same as scarry, though tsk,tsk you for picking on poor Fof4 (seems like everyone did yesterday, so you weren't alone). You likely won't like me much either then, since "innuendo" and banter is something I enjoy in clever doses. [Insert appropiate animal name here.]

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | September 27, 2006 4:57 PM

DadWannaBe,

My experience over many years -- with male bosses, coworkers, acquaintances -- has been that many men proudly claim to be MCPs. I've had bosses with MCP mugs, coworkers who put pix of pigs on their office doors, etc. American men need to take some measure of responsibility for furthering this stereotype by ascribing to it so readily -- eagerly, even.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 5:14 PM

"My experience over many years -- with male bosses, coworkers, acquaintances -- has been that many men proudly claim to be MCPs. I've had bosses with MCP mugs, coworkers who put pix of pigs on their office doors, etc. American men need to take some measure of responsibility for furthering this stereotype by ascribing to it so readily -- eagerly, even."

Maybe, but it is different when women use this term to describe men (similar example would be the use of n word - word is used by many black comedians, rappers, etc to refer to blacks, but whites do not have that same freedom)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 5:17 PM

no one should call theirselves anything that you don't want me to call you too.

Sorry, but if you say it must mean it's okay to be repeated in the same context.

The N word is a perfect example of this. Teach your children not to say it and not to say about themselves. A little self respect goes a long way.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2006 5:20 PM

I just realized that my handle is a little misleading. I use dcdesigner because I work with clients located mostly in the Washington Metropolitan area. I actually live in the neighboring state of Maryland. Our public schools are excellent. I can see where someone who is within the Washington DC school district would be disappointed with the state of the public school system. The recent findings are not good. In a recent report 30 out of every 34 students in DC public and public charter schools failed to meet testing benchmarks set forth by the "No Child Left Behind" act. I can see where one would be frustrated.

I do wonder what the parent involvement is like within the DC public schools. I work with an organization which monitors Character education throughout the country. There is a case-study of a school which is in an affluent neighborhood who has "adopted" a sister school in a less affluent neighborhood. The school has fund raisers to provide much needed supplies for their sister school's classrooms. The parents even volunteer within the sister school, helping out within the classroom, in the cafeteria and on the playground. Maybe we could learn from this model.

Posted by: dcdesigner | September 27, 2006 5:54 PM

Ummm...so I am the only woman who purrs when rolled over on my back? Awkward.

Posted by: Heija Nunn | September 27, 2006 6:41 PM

I am a working mother and a woman who wears make up, checks out her butt (though not lately) and loves designer clothes (at discount prices. I don't care what they call me. Oh, and I wear heels any chance I get, even to a playground (a comfortable platform). Don't take my femininity away from me. It's how I like to present myself to the world. If I were to look like I don't care what I look like then that's how people are going to treat me. I also like to dress my kids nicely and I give fashion advice to my husband who is probably the best dressed computer geek in DC.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 9:47 AM

Heija Nunn, you are awesome.

Posted by: Megan | September 28, 2006 10:54 AM

"This is my main point here. The days of comparing women, and other groups besides white men, to animals, are over."

Why do we always assume that it's o.k. to say whatever about white men? If it isn't right for women, or "other groups," why is it o.k. for white men? (Or do we really want to say that white men are less fragile and better able to handle stuff than anyone else?)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2006 2:33 PM

"But we don't eat Meow Mix cat food, poop in a litter box, purr when rolled on our backs, or slink off when outmatched. As much as some might wish we did"

and you don't fight like cats, either. After all, you don't have claws ;)

Posted by: cc | September 28, 2006 5:22 PM

I think it's understandable to be offended by the cat comparison...but it's actually beside the point.
Wolcott's point was that women who are banging the "Mommy War" drum are wasting their time and energies on comparing themselves with one another...and will not be taken seriously until they step back and stop the sniping.
As I have written in my blog The Kitchen Think, "you make your choices. You deal with your choices. And if you don't like your choices, you do what you can to change them. There have always been "Mommy Wars." It's just that publishers are preying on hyper-self-aware Baby Boomer moms to literally buy into their escalation of said conflict."

You can read more on this at
http://thekitchenthink.viewfromthebay.com/2006/09/friday_leftover_2.html#comments

Posted by: MJ in SF | September 29, 2006 2:08 PM

Without pointing out anyone in particular, because there are at least 4 posters who do it, is anyone else tired of people who quote their own blogs then add a URL to them?

Please advertise elsewhere.

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