Vroom -- A Woman Revs Up a Man's World

Forty-four year old Tammy Darvish just shattered a particularly tough glass ceiling -- or maybe it's more accurate to call it a garage roof. Darvish is the vice president of Darcars Automotive Group, a 26-dealer automotive sales company based in Silver Spring, Md.


Tamara Darvish is the first woman to be elected chair of the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association. (Kevin Clark - The Washington Post)


According to an article about Darvish in yesterday's Washington Post, Once in a Miniskirt, Now She Wears the Pants, she's become the first female chairman of the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association, a 90-year-old group which until now has only had white men at the helm. Her current partnership position marks quite a road trip from her start in her family's dealership back in 1984, when her brother and father had her dress up in a white leather miniskirt, red high heels and a slinky red-and-white striped blouse for television commercials promoting the company.

Women make up more than half the U.S. population and purchase nearly half the new cars sold in this country. In sharp contrast, nationwide only 8 percent of all U.S. car dealerships are owned by women. Women-owned dealerships, however, outperform male-owned ones in terms of sales, so maybe more are coming.

I can't speculate on Tammy Darvish's 23-year ride in the world of automotive dealerships, but I bet she has some good stories to tell. Most, if not all, of my jobs have been in places with 10 percent to 99 percent women. In my first job out of college at Seventeen Magazine, I worked with 49 women and one man. And I often wonder what it's like to be the sole man walking onto a park playground at 11 a.m., into a swarm of at-home moms and female babysitters. My son, outnumbered by two sisters, has asked that all family pets, including goldfish, be male -- to balance the scales, so to speak.

What role does gender balance play in work/life balance? Have you been a woman in a man's world? A man in a woman's? What are the biggest challenges -- and are there any rewards -- of minority status?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  December 5, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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Comments

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First! Hey Leslie, check out this link to a commentary piece in the Phila Inquirer. Different twist to the whole SAHM - WOHM discussion.

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/20071205_A_mom_career_by_default.html

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 5, 2007 7:36 AM

Random thoughts for a Wednesday morning:

- while I'm sure that Tamara Darvish is talented and hard-working, it helps being "to the manor born". Nothing like succeeding in the family business. It's hard to get fired that way.

- the concept of putting the owner's daughter out there on TV to hawk cars still lives on. In the Baltimore area you regularly see Melanie Russel (Russel Automotive), Petey Tischer (Tishcer Automotive), Crystal Koons (Koons dealerships) and even Caitlyn O'Donnell (O'Donnell Honda), who's all of about 13 years old. These guys all use the same advertising company, apparently!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | December 5, 2007 8:13 AM

Men make up less than 1% of nurses (I'm one of the women.) Men in nursing typically complain of being the ones asked to help with heavy patients, or help control those who threaten their caregivers. But male nurses outearn their female counterparts, are promoted faster, and make up a disproportionate number of administrators, even controlling for education and experience. So the double standard is alive and well, even in a "woman's profession."

Posted by: babsy1 | December 5, 2007 8:18 AM

moxiemom, I read the article you posted the link for. She has a good point! But I'd love to hear that from her husband's point of view, or any man in general. When it comes down to the "choice" to work or care for all the hurdles life and children throw at you, many many fewer men have the option to quit and stay with the kids. Most men are simply expected to stay at work.

On topic, I've never been the only woman in a male dominated environment. My field is female dominated. I try to imagine how the men feel. I would bet that they like it because of all the eye candy! That's how I'd feel working with a bunch of guys.

My friend (a woman) sells cars. She is always talking about how men seek out male salespeople while women seek her out. It's a comfort thing I guess.

Posted by: Meesh | December 5, 2007 8:20 AM

On topic, I've never been the only woman in a male dominated environment. My field is female dominated. I try to imagine how the men feel. I would bet that they like it because of all the eye candy! That's how I'd feel working with a bunch of guys.

Posted by: Meesh | December 5, 2007 08:20 AM

Meesh, LOL, it depends on the field, I suppose, but if you ever had to spend your life in conference rooms, meetings and offices with plenty of male lawyers, you'd fast reach the conclusion that the eye candy in the profession is only on tv. I've not seen a lot of eye candy at IT conferences either, LOL.

Posted by: mn.188 | December 5, 2007 8:53 AM

MN - you're right. Not much eye candy in IT. (That stays in the consulting pool).

I have only once heard of a (govt') IT organization that was majority woman managed - sadly, there was a fair amount of in-fighting and turf grabbing. (A friend was their vendor).

Posted by: tntkate | December 5, 2007 8:58 AM

MN, re: eye candy at IT conferences - it's interesting, given the comment about Tamara Darvish's apparel in the original article, that "booth babes" are very, very prevalent at IT conferences. In other words, at a big IT conference, almost every booth on the exhibit floor will feature a number of attractive young women in the almost-universal-uniform of short black skirt, black stockings, high heals and either tight, black top or more likely denim shirt with company logo on it. Of course, very few of these women work for the company and they know close to nothing about the products on offer. The stereotype is that the conference attendee is some social loser of a geek who never sees women like this in real life, so the "booth babe" attracts them into the booth where the real sales critters will hit them with the sales pitch.

And stereotypes of IT/engineering fields persist, because there are few to zero male "booth babes"; they're essentially all women.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | December 5, 2007 9:01 AM

I'm a woman working in a male-dominated field- in fact, sometimes it seems to me that when I go to conferences, everyone there is a middle-aged white guy in the same grey suit. It makes it difficult to distinguish between them! Middle-aged white guys, I urge you to differentiate yourselves more, 'cuz you all look the same to me!

Posted by: barfster | December 5, 2007 9:12 AM

MoxieMom -- That Philly Inquirer article was really good. Thanks.

I agree with her main point -- that so often, when and whether you stay home or keep working after having kids is NOT the free and clear choice it's cracked up to be.

Jobs get eliminated, financial needs change, children get scary diagnoses, marriages fall apart, or your biology or psychology is such that you cannot leave your baby -- or you cannot leave your work.

One of the Mommy Wars writers, Sara Nelson, a friend from my Seventeen days and now the editor of Publisher's Weekly, wrote in her essay Working Mother, Not Guilty:

"'But you don't need to work,' some acquaintances would admonish, pointing out that I had a working husband and money in the bank. To which I would respond:

'Define NEED,' I'd say."


Or this one, from Anne Feld's essay "Happy."

"Co-workers visited every few weeks, bringing boxes of curry and tuna melts, always asking when I was coming back. May, I'd say, when my family leave was up. Before long, April rolled around, and my boss left a message, wondering when I'd return. I screened the call, holding Pascale in the groove on my hip, staring at the phone.

I couldn't for one second, fathom going back to work.

It wasn't an intellectual decision. I didn't think about financial dependence, or losing the prime years of my career, or what it would feel like to be home day after day. I just wanted to be next to her far more than I wanted anything else."

We are all totally unique moms, in unique families and unique situations. I don't know any woman, no matter how much money she has in the bank, who feels she has unlimited choices about how she combines (or doesn't combine) work and kids.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 5, 2007 9:15 AM

"I just wanted to be next to her far more than I wanted anything else."

"I don't know any woman, no matter how much money she has in the bank, who feels she has unlimited choices about how she combines (or doesn't combine) work and kids."

Maybe not Leslie, but I don't know how you can publish the comment above and then respond to it as you have. If that's not choice - the fact that what one wants is even part of the analysis -- what is?

Many, many more women are constrained by financial burdens and do not have the opportunity to consider what they want, let alone act on it. They simply MUST work to keep the household afloat. I wanted to be next to my children far more than I wanted anything else, too, but my wants weren't particularly relevant to keeping us off the public dole. How can you say that women with X amount of financial resources don't have a choice? Yes, her choice to work in a certain field part-time is limited by whether an employer in that field wants to hire her on those terms, but come on. We don't have unlimited choice in whom we marry either --last I checked Brad Pitt wasn't available to me -- but I hope you wouldn't suggest we don't make that choice freely.

Posted by: mn.188 | December 5, 2007 9:23 AM

I agree with mn.

I don't recall specifically the circumstances in Sara Nelson's life and Mommy Wars essay, but anyone who says "define NEED" is usually saying "I have personal reasons for making this CHOICE." And that's OK. But I don't think you can compare it (in terms of choice) to a mom who doesn't work because she has children with health problems or other special needs. Or even in Anne Feld's essay - she is making a choice. She makes it sound like it's been made for her, but whether she's consciously choosing to be a SAHM or deciding to be one in a baby love-induced haze, she still has a choice.


Posted by: fake99 | December 5, 2007 9:33 AM

OT: Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate

On topic, I have always worked in a male dominated field. It has never bothered me. I have never found the men to hold me back either. They have been fairly supportive of my needs and wants.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 5, 2007 9:37 AM

"Forty-four year old Tammy Darvish just shattered a particularly tough glass ceiling -- or maybe it's more accurate to call it a garage roof. Darvish is the vice president of Darcars Automotive Group, a 26-dealer automotive sales company based in Silver Spring, Md."

By Leslie Morgan Steiner '87 | December 5, 2007; 7:00 AM ET

What a great country America is, what a land of opportunity! In Arabia, Tammy Darvish would not even be allowed to drive a car, let alone deal in cars. In America, all she has to worry about are groundless lawsuits from disgruntled ex-employees, whom fine attorneys like Cathy Stetson of Hogan & Hartson can slap down on appeal.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | December 5, 2007 9:42 AM

Well, crap -- I had an entire response written, then my heater overloaded the circuit breaker and shut my computer down.

I guess I'm a woman in a male-dominated profession (law) -- moreso when I graduated, but even now at the top ranks. I'm just lucky to be in an environment where brains tend to be respected enough to shield me from most of that stuff -- plus I'm socially clueless enough not to notice much. :-) I'm also really comfortable with guys, so it hasn't been an issue.

The one thing that does bug me is the multi-lawyer meeting or conference call (especially the trial lawyers). Seems like all the alpha males have to get out there and establish their dominance, so we end up wasting the first hour (or two, or three) with useless posturing. Argh. I am not a patient person. But if you engage (even by trying to focus on what needs to get done), that just provokes them more. So now I just shut up and putz on the computer until they've finished establishing their relative spots in the pecking order -- then I jump in to deal with the actual work. But I guess that's similar to guys complaining about the various ways women waste time, isn't it? It doesn't feel quite so much like wasting time when it's something you're interested in. :-)

MoxieMom, I had kind of an opposite response to that article that Leslie did -- the whole concept that she had no choice, that circumstances determined her fate, really bothered me. Isn't that effectively casting yourself in the victim role? Which doesn't strike me as a view that's likely to lead you to a happy, satisfying life. I absolutely agree that life can hand you hard choices. But the fact is, what you do in response is still your choice. My husband has also lost several jobs through plant shutdowns and downsizing. But it never would have occurred to him to say, well, ok, even though I really want to keep working, I guess fate has decided that I must stay home with my children; since he wanted to WOH, he just kept looking for a new job until he found one.

I think the real reason this article bothers me is that it seems to devalue the choice to stay home with the kids. It's as though she feels that having a paying job is "better" than staying home, so it's not ok to just decide to stay home because she wants to or thinks it's best. Instead, she has to justify it by showing that it wasn't really her choice at all, it was all due to circumstances beyond her control. I just don't think that's giving herself enough credit. It sounds to me like she faced a lot of hard stuff and made a really positive choice in the face of it. I wish she could own that choice and be proud of it -- and if she made lemonade out of a few of those lemons along the way, then she should give herself an extra pat on the back.

Posted by: laura33 | December 5, 2007 9:45 AM

Disagree. No one else can define for you what it means to have or not have a choice. It's a very personal decision that no one else should judge.

Also agree that providing for your family -- food, shelter, stability -- is the number one responsibility of all parents. Too often this gets overlooked in the whole Mommy Wars debate. Men are lauded for providing for their families, but women who work to support their families are not given sufficient credit.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 5, 2007 9:58 AM

Hello, this is way off topic and I apologise but I have lurked for a long time and appreciate the articles, comments and points of view that have been offered in this blog on many balance issues. Can anyone recommend some good blogs on marriage and relationships? Have some issues that need attention soon!

Posted by: anonfornow | December 5, 2007 10:01 AM

"No one else can define for you what it means to have or not have a choice. It's a very personal decision that no one else should judge."

No, no one can define for you what constitutes a GOOD choice. That is a very personal decision that no one else should judge.

But you're completely fooling yourself if you're saying that someone who is comfortable financially, is in a good marriage, has healthy children, and who works for the intellectual stimulation is not making a choice to do so. I'm not making a judgment about the choice one way or the other. But it is a CHOICE.

Posted by: fake99 | December 5, 2007 10:05 AM

"Disagree. No one else can define for you what it means to have or not have a choice. It's a very personal decision that no one else should judge."

fake99 is spot-on.

If you don't think choice can be assessed objectively, that certainly does short-circuit the conversation.

What you do with that choice, and the values you bring to bear on it, shouldn't be judged, maybe, but its fundamental existence is a factor of resources and nothing more. For example, objectively, Paris Hilton has the choice to continue her education, whether or not she thinks she has a choice. She may reject that choice, but it is still hers to reject.

Posted by: mn.188 | December 5, 2007 10:21 AM

Laura -- this is what I wonder about your and my reactions to the article: are we reading too much into what she wrote? projecting? because i didn't get the devaluation angle. so i'm wondering why that struck a nerve with you and not me. i've seen that often we misinterpret others' experiences based on our own self-doubt. i know i do...

Posted by: leslie4 | December 5, 2007 10:21 AM

I worked at a Hair Cuttery for almost 5 years. Talk about a guy working in a place dominated by "babes". Interestingly enough, it was a male hairdresser who brought home the highest paycheck, not the manager. (The stylists were paid on commission, so this wasn't a case of salary negotiations.)

Here's another tidbid about working there:
One of the hardships of hairdressers is sore feet and backaches from standing up for many hours a day. When the girls got a break and nabbed me sitting down folding towells, they would pull up a chair, kick off their shoes, plot their leg on my lap and expect me to rub their feet. I also rubbed out many knots in their backs. No, it wasn't in my job description, and no, I didn't mind doing these types of favors. In return, I learned a few very important secrets about women as a teenage boy:
1. Women are very, very complex
2. Most males havn't a clue about how women think
and last, but not least..
3. Women are smarter than men

Posted by: DandyLion | December 5, 2007 10:22 AM

I laughed at Laura's point about "all the Alpha Males out there having to establish their dominance."

I just finished a new book by Deborah Tannen, the linguistics prof who teaches at Georgetown, called "Talking 9 to 5". It's actually about how men and women use language differently in the workplace and how workplaces have different language codes depending on whether they're heavily male or female. What's funny is how many of her examples come from car dealerships -- where she talks about how the male car dealers bond during breaks by doing things like complaining about how much money their wives spend. She profiles a really competent woman who just can't break into that next subtle level among the men because she can't "talk their language."

Her point, as always, is that a culture is a really subtle thing with many levels -- and simply altering your dress code or committing to working really hard by showing up earlier and staying up later may not be enough. A little depressing, since on some level she seems to be suggesting to that breaking into some of these clubs is still basically impossible.

Posted by: justlurking | December 5, 2007 10:30 AM

My take on Moxie's article is somewhere in between Laura and Leslie's. Yes I think the author is too busy seeing herself as a victim, and yes if she feels her choices were too limited then they were.

On the victimization observation, I find that women in general are just too busy allowing themselves to be defined by what others think of them, or what they think others think of them. We forgive children and teenagers for making stupid comments, and those comments only really bother us when they hit a nerve. Her friends "she doesn't work" introductory comment was stupid, but the reason it hasn't been forgotten is that the author isn't comfortable with herself on this issue. My feeling is that even if she feels forced into the role she has assumed it's still up to her to get comfortable with her choice. Yes we need better childcare options, better support from our workplaces, more sensitive responses from our friends and family regarding our decisions, in short we have a right to our rabblerousing. But still, you have to find a way to feel good about where you are in life, even limitless choices cannot accomplish that. Another one of those underrated emotional skills that doesn't show up on the SAT, your GPA, or you resume, but of the most unspeakable value.

Posted by: pinkoleander | December 5, 2007 10:31 AM

Ha! Enjoyed DandyLion's post (as usual)

I worked as a housepainter with a couple small-time contractors for several summers and for a year before finishing up college. Better money than most women's work. And I can tell some stories. The guys made a joke of walking under my ladder, trying to guess what color underwear I had on under my shorts that day. I might have cried harassment except that they harass each other even worse! So it was a good lesson for me and I don't take too much to heart anymore. (Just keep your hands to yourself!)

As for the issue of choices -- having more money does mean more choices. But not having too many choices isn't so bad either. I *have* to work because I provide the only paycheck for our household. As a result no one is criticizing me for working instead of staying home with my kids. And I do get some choice about the job I take.

Posted by: anne.saunders | December 5, 2007 10:37 AM

Yet another good yarn from Dandylion. I really don't think they should let people out of college without at least 6 solid months experiencing working class life.

From the other day, I agree the endless reading assignments are probably not doing the kids any good. A love of reading is something that has to happen on one's own. You might try reading the book on your own to talk about it with them, listening to my extended family talk about books they had all read did alot to get me interested in reading. If you have more that one kid this could get hard to keep up with though.

Posted by: pinkoleander | December 5, 2007 10:41 AM

The fact that this woman had stayed with the job for 23 years tells you why she succeded, she didn't flip out in search of her dreams or whatever like most women. When women learn that the job is not there to serve her, but she to serve the job, women can succeed.

Posted by: bryan | December 5, 2007 10:42 AM

When it comes down to it, there are very few things in life that are not choices. Ms. Colman's life has simply made the choice for her more clearcut. She didn't have to stay home to care for her children or father, health problems or not. And a person who says "I HAVE to work" doesn't really have to...they could choose a life of poverty or worse.

It seems to me the people who really are torn about what choice to make re: working or staying home are the ones for whom the options are not as clearcut. Those who are comfortable financially. Those with healthy children. Etc. It's easier to make the choice if you FEEL like it's been made for you.

Posted by: fake99 | December 5, 2007 10:51 AM

what does "flip out in search of her dreams or whatever like most women" mean?
is this to imply that women have been less likely to succeed in the past because they attempted to pursue something that they were truly passionate about instead of just putting their heads down and trudging through an occupation that made them miserable?
I would certainly imagine that Tammy Darvish has a passion and desire to do the kind of work she does. You don't get to the top by mindlessly staying with and serving the job.
I'm fairly sure as well that there are in fact men who have pursued what they were passionate about, rather than merely "sticking out" some form of employment or another.
This attitude reminds me of the minimum wage paying employers who like to berate their employees for minor infractions, the tell them how lucky they are to have any job at all... regardless of their qualifications.
nice attitude bryan....

Posted by: mcbrideka | December 5, 2007 11:00 AM

Respectfully disagree with many of your definitions of "choice." Although I chose WHEN to have a child, I wanted to have kids so badly that it wasn't a "choice." I was driven to do it, by biological, maternal and emotional factors beyond my control. I don't have a choice whether to work or not. If I don't work I will have a nervous breakdown or worse. I don't "choose" to eat every day -- I get hungry and have to eat. I don't "choose" to take care of my children; I need to, and would fight to my own death to protect them. None of these are "choices" to me.

And DandyLion, more vintage insights from you. In addition to writing these little ditties for the blog, put them in your book!

Posted by: leslie4 | December 5, 2007 11:15 AM

In all of those circumstances Leslie, you're making a choice. It's just that the alternatives to the choices you've made (childlessness, nervous breakdown, hunger, your children being harmed) are not attractive ones.

When we start talking about choices in terms of them being made for us, we DO start sounding like victims.

I'm not going to touch the idea that you would have a nervous breakdown or worse if you didn't work. ;)

Posted by: fake99 | December 5, 2007 11:28 AM

"I don't have a choice whether to work or not. If I don't work I will have a nervous breakdown or worse."

Wow.

Posted by: mn.188 | December 5, 2007 11:52 AM

With all the talk about balancing children and work (and sanity), did anyone see the NY Times article Sunday titled "Hobbies Are Rich in Psychic Rewards":
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/02/jobs/02career.html?em&ex=1196917200&en=d8496e8e489001db&ei=5070
The gist of the article is that, even if one can free up only a few minutes a day to devote to a hobby, it still can add immeasurably to your life, both personally and professionally. I also think having hobbies sets a good example for children, thus encouraging them to pursue their own interests, and demonstrating that life isn't entirely about work and family duties.

Posted by: mehitabel | December 5, 2007 11:59 AM

MN, that's a Hax "Wow"?

Posted by: mehitabel | December 5, 2007 12:02 PM

True, though. Work has always mattered tremendously to me, for reasons of economic and personal independence. I like to work and like to use my brain. None of this stopped when I became a mom -- although I did learn that raising kids is also "work."

Posted by: leslie4 | December 5, 2007 12:06 PM

I think you guys are getting into a game of semantics. Clearly some choices are more limiting then others. Like the choice to eat or starve to death. Obviously starving oneself is a rather stupid or sick choice. That is very different then the choice to buy a red sweater or a blue one. I think quite a lot of people, myself included, are financially well off enough and could choose to stay at home with the kids. But my choice is "limited" because my husband prefers that I work. So how much choice is that. Of course then you could say, divorce my husband and then choose not to work and have zero income to raise my kids. Sure being a welfare mom may be a choice (although there are time limits), it would still get filed under a rather stupid choice. So the important thing to note that some choices are rather limited. For me, it is that I wouldn't get the spousal support to stay at home that limits my choices. For Leslie, her inner drive to work seems to over come other issues that limits her choice.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 5, 2007 12:09 PM

Leslie, funny you should mention writing a book. Just the other day my wife was pressuring me to write one. The kids are getting increasingly expensive, inflation is creeping up, and my day job doesn't cover the bills anymore.

Since my employment options are extremely limited , I may have no other choice...

Posted by: DandyLion | December 5, 2007 12:09 PM

"I don't 'choose' to take care of my children; I need to, and would fight to my own death to protect them."

Posted by: leslie4 | December 5, 2007 11:15 AM

And yet, what about the stud (and the thousands like him) who simply walks out on his girlfriend as soon as she tells him she's pregnant? He has chosen not to have anything to do with his children, never mind take care of them. Doesn't that mean that the fellow who does the opposite, who does the right thing, who marries the girl and, together with her, cares for their children -- hasn't that fellow chosen to take care of his children?

Or maybe he'll tell you, "I had no choice. They're my own flesh and blood." And in that case, maybe it's up to every boy's parents, friends and teachers to raise him so that if he winds up in that situation, he will feel that he has no choice but to do the right thing.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | December 5, 2007 12:13 PM

I did a stint for a time as an Environmental Geologist. Basically, I went out and inspected buildings and lots for sale (usually industrial) to make sure there weren't any environmental no-no's going on. Or I went onto remediation sites and did some light site management.

(If you buy a piece of property that has environmental damage you have to clean it up and pay for it - you can't ask the previous owners to do so. It's part of due diligence that you check that kind of thing out, kind of like running a radon test on a house before you buy it.)

In my company, I was the only female engineer/scientist. All other women in the company were secretaries and/or receptionists of various departments. The male engineers were all actually quite welcoming and appreciative of my skills, that was never a problem. Actually, we used my gender to our collective advantage.

Many companies know when they are putting a business or lot up for sale that they have broken some environmental rules, and will stonewall inspectors. So I would go out and play the role of "aren't I pretty for such a stupid little girl", which disarmed many, Many, MANY men into telling me or showing me things they had not shown previous inspectors.

My boss used to roar with laughter - he knew I was smarter than most of the men in his office, and to watch me put my "helpless" act on used to kill him. I told him it was no different than being a "Hooters" girl - if I'm going to get ogled and assumed I'm young and stupid, I'm going to use it to my professional advantage.

There were times though, that my job was alternately depressing or infuriating as h*ll. The other women in the office didn't know how to treat me originally, and assumed I'd be snobby and cold, so were originally snobby and cold themselves. (Once they realized I was lower maintenance than most of the men, actually knew their names, liked them, respected their workload, and had spent some time as a secretary myself, they warmed right up.)

Some other subcontractors that I'd work with would spend the *entire* time hitting on me, which I would deflect politely, and then try to bad-mouth me to my boss as a result (he knew better).

One contractor that I used to work with was particularly bad. He was an admittedly sexist pig (he was from the rural south and prided himself on his misogynistic ways), and would go out of his way to insult me, aggravate me, and even on occasion, quite literally snap my bra straps. It took *everything* I had to not punch his lights out (which I was quite capable of doing).

My colleagues (and all the other men on the site) used to berate him on my behalf constantly and try to comfort/protect me. But occasionally, I would call my direct manager and tell him I *had* to have a day or two off of that contract, otherwise I wasn't necessarily going to quit, but I would probably be arrested for battery ;)

Basically, I found most men were decent, and accepted me professionally, especially when I didn't really ask to be treated any different. (Many subcontractors started to ask for me specifically because I was so easy to get along with.) But there were always a handful of men who just really sucked the life out of your day and made you question your career choice. (I had to stop because of medical reasons that predated the job and decided I didn't want to create further medical issues, not because I disliked the job so very much.)

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | December 5, 2007 12:17 PM

Posted by: leslie4 | December 5, 2007 11:15 AM

Leslie, to answer your earlier question to me, I think what you just said explains why we saw that article differently. I see everything that you listed, except eating, as a choice (well, ok, eating is a choice, but death isn't a very attractive option, so I'll put that in the "need" category). :-)

I also desperately wanted children, and had to go through a lot to get there. But the very fact of going through 2 yrs of [heck] made me very realize just how much it truly was a choice. When you have to decide whether to have surgery or try IUI or IFP or X or Y or Z, then figure out how to pay for it, then determine whether you are strong enough to face up to another loss, having a child becomes a very conscious process -- if you don't choose to go forward at every turn, it will not happen.

That realization was invaluable. For a long time, I was powerless, a victim -- I had done everything "right," and yet God/nature/fate was depriving me of kids. Reframing it as a choice made me realize how much it did matter to me, that it was worth the hardship. The very fact of making a conscious choice in the face of pain and loss gave me the strength I needed to get through all of that. And knowing that I could quit if it got to be too much helped me to withstand more than I ever thought I could.

Same with working: I do not "need" to work financially, but like you, not WOH would leave me with a big hole in my life. Again, figured that out through negative circumstances (nothing like a plant shutdown and no local jobs in the field to make you "have" to make a change). And felt powerless and angry and sulky for a long time. But realizing that our response was a choice gave me my power back -- yes, the shutdown sucked, but I chose to let DH pursue his chosen field rather than pressure him to basically dump the Ph.D and find a local job; and I chose to go with him, even though it meant leaving my firm and trying something different (which I ended up not liking at all).

When you see your actions as a choice, it makes you aware of all the other choices that are out there. You may not consider some of them worth mentioning (I wouldn't seriously consider splitting from my husband), but even knowing that you had an option and you rejected it makes the situation more bearable -- instead of being buffeted about by the winds of fate, you are actively following your own values and goals.

The side benefit of that world view is gratitude. To look around and know that I can change what I am doing at any time makes me conscious of how absolutely lucky and privileged I am. So I spend very little time comparing myself to some ideal or other people, or feeling bad for what I don't have (well, except for that dang MegaMillions jackpot), or feeling like I need to justify my own choices to others. Which is just such a nicer way to live, you know?

And that's what I wanted for the author of that article. I just felt bad that she seemed so defensive about where she was, like she wasn't valuing her contributions at home very highly, or giving herself the credit she deserved for managing a tough situation.

Posted by: laura33 | December 5, 2007 12:18 PM

Eesh, sorry about the dissertation.

Posted by: laura33 | December 5, 2007 12:24 PM

justlurking, Tannen's books are fun reads, but don't depend on them *too* much. While she does have a Ph.D., she wrote these books to sell to a wide audience. People love controversy and easy solutions. It's much flashier to say "men and women communicate differently" when the truth is that so many other factors come into play. Her research is from white middle class people, which really doesn't apply to all men and women. And even in that subgroup, I can think of a dialect (NY) that does not apply to her research.

So take what she says with a grain of salt. There is so much more diversity in English than she portrays. And, conversely, as people who speak the same language, our communication styles are so much more alike than they are different.

Posted by: Meesh | December 5, 2007 12:30 PM

This woman's photo is an inspiration! She's beautiful but natural looking (not too much makeup). It looks like she's well dressed. Confident and competent. Powerful and feminine both. I bet she makes good money.

This image makes me want to run out and get a job at a car dealership.

Kudos to her for a job well done.

Posted by: eadavis79 | December 5, 2007 12:32 PM

Laura -- I liked your dissertation. No apology needed.

DL -- I've said it before, will say it again. You really should write a book about fatherhood. You've got a unique style and "voice" and a lot to say. There is a lot of schmaltzy stuff out there by and about dads. Need another, better, funnier voice to add to the fray.

Time to stop gushing.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 5, 2007 12:35 PM

Leslie,

maybe it's time to replace Brian The Bore Rebel Dad with DandyLion??

Posted by: StickyNote | December 5, 2007 2:01 PM

I spent 4 years on active duty and 19 in the reserves. Most of the time I worked with men. I would say 99% of the time I wasn't treated any differently. I sure did learn how to swear tho.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | December 5, 2007 2:19 PM

Leslie:

I have to take issue with your definition of choice.

This was a concept I learned from a wise high school counselor. I can't even remember why I was talking to her, though I'm sure it was related to my stormy relationship with my mother.

But I do know I was whining that "I don't have a choice!" And she stopped me cold. "That's a cop out. You ALWAYS have a choice. You may not like your choices, but they are always there. Own your decisions."

This was an epiphany for me, but I took her words to heart and have lived by them.

You had a choice Leslie. Your other choice was to stay home and suffer the mental health issues you seem to think would result. Or, you could have looked for part-time work. You had many choices. You chose not to stay home. But don't cloak your conscious decision to return to work as something that was forced upon you. It wasn't. Own your decision. It was a good one for you and nothing to be ashamed of. I also chose to return to work following the birth of my daughter. It's a choice DH and I revisit periodically. We may choose a different path one day, but for now, this choice is working for us.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | December 5, 2007 2:37 PM

Ditto. What vegasmom said.

Posted by: kate07 | December 5, 2007 2:43 PM

I think this is really just a semantics discussion. In many ways we're all saying the same thing -- but disagreeing about what to call it. I guess what I'm after here is that I'm at peace with my "choices" -- but calling them choices suggests a level of freedom of will that I'm uncertain about. I know so many women who've made different "choices" about the same things and I don't judge them for what they have done.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 5, 2007 2:46 PM

And I think that's the most important point: not judging others' choices, or decisions, or exercises of free will, or whatever-you-want-to-call-it.

Posted by: kate07 | December 5, 2007 2:58 PM

Leslie,

For me, discovering my free will and my choices was incredibly freeing. It made even the sucky decisions palatable, because it meant that no one was responsible for my behavior except me. Of course, it also made me very conscious of my personal responsibility for EVERY choice, even the ones that feel like they fall into the "no choice" column. If a decision is yours and you own it, it eliminates the whining and the finger-pointing. It's a concept I've drilled into DD and will continue to drill until the day I die, LOL. If she learns nothing else from me, it will be this.

You have free will, I promise. I believe it's a trait that makes us human.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | December 5, 2007 3:01 PM

I generally agree with Vegasmom's counselor, who said "You ALWAYS have a choice. You may not like your choices, but they are always there." I'd add that Vegasmom brought some nuance to that view herself in her insightful guest blog, "Family in Crisis" -- specifically that sometimes we have to be adaptable in making our choices when disaster strikes, whether in the form of an accident (her husband), life-threatening illness (myself) or other crisis. You can read her guest blog at:
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/onbalance/2007/03/draft_vegas_mom.html

Posted by: mehitabel | December 5, 2007 3:03 PM

That's just fooling yourself. You get abducted by a terrorist and given the choice of being shot or strangled to death.

Wow - you get to choose one - what an expression of your free will and independence, and what a good feeling that you will have "owned" your decision to die.

Posted by: StickyNote | December 5, 2007 3:07 PM

While an extreme example, Sticky Note, and not likely a choice faced by most here, it is true.

I chose being shot. How 'bout you?

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | December 5, 2007 3:10 PM

:-) I'd probably go for being shot, too, Vegasmom.

Still, I think I have a valid point. I can't see talking myself into feeling content over supposed choices I have even if these choices are not practical ("You can always leave your husband and raise your 5 kids alone"), just plain bad and/or determined by others (see example above).


This probably has a cultural element. Americans, generally, have a strong urge to be "pro-active" and in control. Notions such as fate, for example, rarely enter the equation.

Posted by: StickyNote | December 5, 2007 3:16 PM

StickyNote: let's take an easier one. Leslie says she had no choice but to have children. Do you agree?

Posted by: mn.188 | December 5, 2007 3:22 PM

No, I disagree. I think she did have a choice in that (probably, as far as we can tell) most of the factors that influenced her decision were "endogenic", if you will. As far as we know (?), nobody was seriously coercing her so she made the decision based on what SHE thought, felt, wanted, etc. Her choice, I think.

What do you think?

Posted by: StickyNote | December 5, 2007 3:28 PM

"This probably has a cultural element. Americans, generally, have a strong urge to be 'pro-active' and in control. Notions such as fate, for example, rarely enter the equation."

Posted by: StickyNote | December 5, 2007 03:16 PM

For an Eastern view entirely at odds with America's ideal of unlimited opportunity, look to Omar Khayyam, as translated by Edward Fitzgerald:

"We are no other than a moving row
Of Magic Shadow-shapes that come and go
Round with the Sun-illumined Lantern held
In Midnight by the Master of the Show;

"But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
Upon this Chequer-board of Nights and Days;
Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays."

Fatalism and helplessness constitute the worldview of "Our Man," whom the Blue Beetle defeats in "The Blue Beetle Faces the Destroyer of Heroes." How can someone run a successful Toyota dealership with such a fatalistic attitude?

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | December 5, 2007 3:32 PM

I agree that you always have a choice. Sure, in the extreme and utterly unlikely example that StickyNote gives that choice may be pretty pointless, but in the vast majority of things we do everyday there is always a choice. I choose to work, I choose to take care of my family, I chose to have a family. I choose to live in the way that is generally considered acceptable - having a job, a house, etc - nobody is forcing that on me. Knowing that definitely helps me keep perspective and not get into a mindset of feeling put upon, weighed down or (shudder) oppressed.

Posted by: LizaBean | December 5, 2007 3:34 PM

StickyNote -- depends. I'd probably choose strangling, because at least then they'd have to get close enough that I might be able to fight back and escape (or at least inflict pain). :-)

Seriously, I don't want to suggest that knowing you have a choice makes everything all happy happy joy joy all the time. But it can make it much more bearable to live with a [bad] situation. I gotta say, infertility pretty much has no redeeming value -- I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. But it's also a fact. So you can either figure out a way to deal with the [bad]ness in a way that minimizes the ongoing pain, or you can sit around and [carp] and moan and fret about how unfair it all is. Tried both, much prefer the former. :-)

[sorry, apparently WaPo disagreed with some of my language, so substituted]

Posted by: laura33 | December 5, 2007 3:35 PM

Sure, Laura, I completely see your point. But there is a difference between choosing to make the best of a situation or to choose to have a good attitude about a not-so-good situation and luring yourself into thinking that you always have a choice about all facts in your life. You, of course, did not CHOOSE infertility.

Posted by: StickyNote | December 5, 2007 3:42 PM

I don't think that VegasMom or anyone else was saying you have a choice about facts or circumstances, I thought the point was that you always have a choice about your own actions; which includes the way you handle difficult situations and people.

Posted by: LizaBean | December 5, 2007 3:47 PM

Thank you for clarifying my point LizaBean. That was my point exactly.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | December 5, 2007 3:53 PM

LizaBean: precisely.

StickyNote: believe me, I am under no delusions of my own power to control life's events. But realizing that I have choices in how I respond gives me more confidence that I will be able to get through the normal realm of bad stuff.

I also specifically exclude things like terrorist attacks, loss of a child, etc. from that universe of "bad stuff." There are some things that are so horrible that I don't know if or how I'd get through. But the opinion piece I was responding to focused on the kind of normal bad stuff that life deals out fairly routinely (job loss, sick kids, etc.).

Posted by: laura33 | December 5, 2007 4:06 PM

I was never good enough for my parents. After graduating from high school and making the Deans list in my first semester of college, my parents made up impossible rules for me to follow to live in their house. They kicked me out and justified their decision by telling me it was MY choice.

There are choices, then there are choices.

Posted by: DandyLion | December 5, 2007 4:11 PM

Agreed. Degree of "choices" is like a spectrum disorder. Lots of shades of gray there. Life -- and choices -- are rarely black and white.

Pathetically, I think there are even people out there who would argue that even infertility is a "choice," like those wacko people who say that you "choose" to get cancer and that survivors have successfully "fought" it.

I'd say that most Americans live in a world where the choices are fairly sublime and there are few b&w, life or death decisions.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 5, 2007 4:33 PM

I sympathize DandyLion. If your parents chose to kick you out and push the responsibility for that decision on you, then that truly wasn't fair.

But if they laid down the rules you had to follow in order to live in their home, and you deliberately disobeyed them knowing the potential consequence, then I'd argue you did make a choice, albeit perhaps not your best one, LOL. We've all had to bear the consequences of poor choices in our lifetime!

I too had to live at home in order to afford college. My parents supported me while I was in school, but they did not have the money for tuition, etc. So, I received scholarships, took out a loan, and went to work part time. I saved money by living at home.

I also hated my parents rules, especially as I hit my 20s and wanted to be treated as an adult. But they were the price to pay for free room and board, so I followed them.

As a result, I had a delayed party phase, LOL. Didn't start drinking and staying out late until I moved into my own apartment after graduation.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | December 5, 2007 4:35 PM

I'd say that most Americans live in a world where the choices are fairly sublime and there are few b&w, life or death decisions.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 5, 2007 04:33 PM

I suppose that takes us full circle then, because I consider that for the 7.6 million families (as of 2003 census data) living in poverty, there is no choice to stay home with their children unless they suffer public ridicule and accept government assistance. I consider that neither sublime nor a real choice, but then that's just me.

Posted by: mn.188 | December 5, 2007 4:48 PM

Wow. Holier than thou much?

The truth is that most mothers who live in poverty have no choice BUT to stay home, because the miserably low salaries they get paid don't even BEGIN to cover daycare. Another example of "no choice" choice. Many stay-at-home moms have no other option but to stay home.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 5, 2007 5:10 PM

Leslie:

Don't have time to do the research, but I'm pretty sure you're wrong that most mothers living in poverty aren't working.

Of course they can't afford day care. That's why they use neighbors, home-based care, government-subsidized care, or family. Or have the oldest sibling take charge. Some families deliberately choose to work different shifts (e.g., Mom works the night shift while dad works day) so that a parent is always at home.

And, I'm sure you know that most families living in povery are living with a single parent, making the choice to stay home nigh unto impossible.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | December 5, 2007 5:32 PM

I found the topic of Fate vs Free Will interesting. I found a paper on-line that links it with astrologers and quantum physics. Remember, I am no scientist - just found this interesting.
Here is a quotation and I will follow with the link if anyone has further interest:

"From the psychological point of view, self-esteem levels are critical to beliefs of effectiveness (11) and vice-versa, hence a removal of the belief in the ability to control one's environment affects self-esteem. Affecting self esteem or the disbelief in it (or the belief in control) increases learned helplessness and beliefs in fate. Therefore, the Persian era of dominance (12) brought not only the proposed conflict between good and evil (a false choice tool to control collective self-esteem), but increased doctrines of fate. Astrology in the Roman world then moved to strategic effectiveness for political control, rather than its origins as omens from the gods and goddesses of the movement of consciousness."

Link to paper:
http://www.astroconsulting.com/FAQs/fate_vs_free_will.htm

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | December 5, 2007 5:34 PM

I don't see how MN's comment is holier than thou, Leslie - it seems to me that you both agree that the choices of low-income and impoverished families are severely limited compared to the choices of economically stable families. You simply see those choices differently - whether the economics force a decision to work to not work, which I would bet varies depending on the region and culture in which the people live.

Saying that people who accept public assistance face public ridicule and scorn also doesn't seem to me to be holier than thou, but rather a statement of fact - people in this country speak poorly of "welfare moms" all the time, I think they do face public scorn and it would be a hard choice for someone to make. MN pointing that out doesn't mean she agrees with that attitude - in fact, I think knowing MN's past posting make it clear that she has a great deal of empathy and concern for people in those circumstances.

Posted by: LizaBean | December 5, 2007 5:35 PM

Thanks, LizaBean. I was baffled by Leslie's response.

Leslie, If you thought I was condemning welfare recipients, you haven't read or attended to very many of my comments over the last little while -- not even today. If anything, I am focused on removing the blinders that keep you from acknowledging that the choices of the affluent vastly outnumber the choices of those without unlimited sums in the bank. To put your head in the sand and deny that you have a choice poor women don't have is not only naive but unhelpful to an honest discussion about balance.

I don't deserve it, but I'd take "holier than thou" over naive in an effort to advance the discussion. Talking about America as the land of the sublime where everyone's got lots and lots of delightful choices is more than a little insensitive to those who don't have a moment to consider their personal happiness when returning to work after childbirth.

Do you ever listen to the repeated comments about the extent to which this blog only represents the concerns and viewpoints of the privileged and professional, the Cream of the Crop (LOL), if you will? VegasMom is right. The poor moms are working. Their kids are being cared for by neighbors and grandmoms, or in government-subsidized daycares with lousy teacher to student ratios. They lack the luxury of contemplating whether they'd rather be with their babies. I wish you'd at least respect them enough to acknowledge the vast difference between the nature of their choices and yours.

Posted by: mn.188 | December 5, 2007 6:05 PM

KLB, that's pretty interesting stuff, thanks for sharing! I'd love to spend the rest of the day reading that instead of doing my work - hmmm, which shall I choose, LOL?

Posted by: LizaBean | December 5, 2007 6:10 PM

LizaBean - oh, heck, read for fun. After all, DandyLion says that employment is a choice, LOL.

Posted by: mn.188 | December 5, 2007 6:21 PM

LOL, darn tootin' it is! Alas, today I think I will choose to remain employed...

Posted by: LizaBean | December 5, 2007 6:40 PM

It is holier than thou -- and worse -- to describe people with a Census statistic and then think one is somehow a better person for looking down on them with pity like this:


"...the 7.6 million families (as of 2003 census data) living in poverty, there is no choice to stay home with their children unless they suffer public ridicule and accept government assistance. I consider that neither sublime nor a real choice, but then that's just me."

How do you think it feels to be described like this? Dehumanizing, I imagine.

Anytime someone talks about "them" like this it raises a red flag, with "them" means an ethnic group or social class or gender or disability. A Census statistic, along with assumptions about daily lives, cannot possibly describe the millions of people who "live in poverty" (another demeaning phrase that masquerades as enlightenment).

Most people on this blog, you and me included, will probably never know what "their" lives are like. How do you know what it is like to accept gov't assistance? How do you know the vast "they" suffer public ridicule as a result? Maybe, just maybe, a few of "them" are grateful and use public assistance as a stepping stone to a more stable, productive life for themselves and their children.

Like my father. He was raised by a single working mother who worked in a series of factories for her entire life. My father had three siblings. His older sister died in 1945 at 15 in a public hospital because his family could not afford to treat her leukemia. She died ALONE because his mother couldn't take any time off from work to visit her. At Thanksgiving and many other times, my father's family gratefully accepted public assistance and help from their church. As a result of my grandmother's sacrifices, my father went to college (the first in his family to even finish high school) and changed his life forever. To me, personal stories are far more important than any stats or soulful glances from someone on a blog.

I don't pretend to know all things, certainly not what it is like to live in grave poverty or daily danger. But I don't demean "the poor" by dismissing them, and the struggles they face, with a few stats and a nanosecond of pity in cyberspace.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 5, 2007 10:45 PM

"How do you know what it is like to accept gov't assistance? How do you know the vast "they" suffer public ridicule as a result? Maybe, just maybe, a few of "them" are grateful and use public assistance as a stepping stone to a more stable, productive life for themselves and their children."

Leslie,

Wow.

I know because, unlike you, apparently, I've been there. I'll thank you very much not to look down from your ivory tower and condescend to tell me what my life experience has been. That, my dear, is "holier than thou". You may need a break from this if you are lashing out at me for recognizing that it is embarrassing and subjects a person to ridicule - both public and personl - for someone to accept AFDC, WIC and other funding in order to survive. And yes, I'm grateful. Are you? Grateful, that is, for the choices your circumstances have afforded you?

Posted by: mn.188 | December 6, 2007 8:57 AM

Clap clap clap

Ditto mn!

I read Leslie's post last night and couldn't figure out for the life of me what she was talking about or what she was reading into your post.

If we're really talking about different shades of grey on the choice spectrum, I think that someone who has to choose between poverty and working has far less real choice than the lack of choices that Leslie was describing for herself yesterday. Her examples of lack of choice were melodramatic "oh, I'd lose my mind if I didn't work, so I have no choice but to work!! Having children was something beyond my control!"

I still believe that people always have choice and free will. But I'm not sure what was wrong with mn saying that a financially disadvantaged person (is that OK to say, Leslie?") doesn't have a real choice to work or not work because the alternative is unpleasant.

Posted by: fake99 | December 6, 2007 10:36 AM

MN, i've reread your posts, and you never talked about your personal experience. why not? there is no way for me to have known that you were one of those statistics you cited. why didn't you speak from the heart, instead of using platitudes like "living in poverty"? your argument would have been far more convincing, and compelling, if you had.

i clearly missed your points -- and you missed mine as well. we seem to be saying much the same thing, actually! go figure...

Posted by: leslie4 | December 6, 2007 2:10 PM

Gee, Leslie, maybe MN used "living in poverty" because that's what it was - maybe she doesn't find it to be a platitude, and maybe she thinks that there's no need to dandy it up somehow. She doesn't need to dandy it up to sound like she is "speaking from the heart" for her point to be valid, nor does that change the absurd interpretation you are gave it in your response. Are you seriously disputing the fact that there is copious public criticism in this country of those who are government assistance? That the phrase "welfare mom" is almost always used as a perjorative term? I don't see how you can deny that - and doing so seems far more dismissive than using the phrase "living in poverty" to describe, uh, living in poverty.

Posted by: LizaBean | December 6, 2007 2:45 PM

Leslie asked MN: "there is no way for me to have known that you were one of those statistics you cited. why didn't you speak from the heart, instead of using platitudes like 'living in poverty'? your argument would have been far more convincing, and compelling, if you had."

Leslie, are you automatically devaluing statistics on misfortune when presented by someone who's been fortunate enough not to have had to live them? E.g., do you believe that a poor or once-poor person can better measure the impact of poverty on society anecdotally than a rigorously trained statistician or social scientist?

Can someone who's suffered from a particular disease better measure its spread and search for its cure or a vaccine against it, compared to trained epidemiologists and biomedical researchers, respectively?

Do you believe researchers applying scientific method inherently lack compassion for their subjects? Many are in fact idealistic scholars who care deeply about the human beings whose misfortunes and illnesses they study, in hopes that through systematic study they can better people's lives.

Anecdotal accounts have a place, but are not prerequisite to sincere concern for the plight of people struggling with major challenges in life, like poverty, disease, abuse, etc.

Posted by: mehitabel | December 6, 2007 3:59 PM

Please reread my Dec 5 10:45 pm if you are still wondering where I'm coming from on this. I don't mean to antagonize any of you. I'm not suggesting my approach is superior. However I do feel strongly that it is dehumanizing to distance ourselves from such a serious, devastating problem as poverty with platitudes, stats and generalities. To me, that's the real "ivory tower."

Posted by: leslie4 | December 6, 2007 4:12 PM

Statistics do not necessarily dehumanize, but rather measure the extent and severity of human problems, and can lead to productive suggestions for solving them. You antipathy toward formal study of social problems is incomprehensible for someone with your elite education.

Posted by: mehitabel | December 6, 2007 4:57 PM

Leslie: We are not saying the same things. You find the anecdotal persuasive. I don't. I do not make a living disclosing my entire history and personal experience. I wouldn't disclose most of it on this or any blog, even if I did think it was persuasive. If you choose to characterize only your preferred writing style as "writing from the heart" so be it, but I find that quite an insulting approach to take to your readers.

What I find dehumanizing is to make sweeping statements that ignore the personal experience of too many people. It's as if none of them exist to say, ". . .most Americans live in a world where the choices are fairly sublime and there are few b&w, life or death decisions." I don't talk about "them". Ever. I don't make statements that ignore the perspective and experience of a great deal of America. You are way off base here, Leslie. In my opinion.

Posted by: mn.188 | December 6, 2007 8:30 PM

Here is an interesting reproductive rights concept. I read about strenght training for fetuses on this blog. http://old-things.blogspot.com/

Posted by: rahaha | December 8, 2007 1:41 PM

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