Two cinnamon rolls. Did you ever notice how Princess Leia's hair looked like two cinnamon rolls on the sides of her head? Just in the first movie.

The theatre was crowded for the opening night of Star Wars. The auditorium was big, but the only available seats were in the first five rows. When the lights went down, we needed to throw our heads over the back of the seats to take in the monster screen. After reading the famous scrawl–you know a long time ago, far away galaxy–the blank screen was slowly, and most impressively, filled by an enormous space freighter. The subwoofers emitted low rumbles as the ship took over all of the space above my thrown back head. It was thrilling. But that wasn’t the most breathtaking.

No. It was the moment when Luke and Han “rescued” Leia and she realized they didn’t have an escape plan. When she grabbed Luke’s blaster and blew through a grate to create an exit, covered herself to get to the chute and led her “rescuers” out of their foolhardy self-trap.

She took charge. She just needed to be released. God, I was totally in love with her. From that moment.

A few movies later a masked operative came into the bad guys’ lair to rescue Han Solo. I’ll never forget the reveal–it was Leia. Whuh? Really? Her? Yay! Here’s my favorite hero. The brave, competent hero who a few scenes later strangled her captor. Yeah, she killed that enormous muther-fukcing slug. With her wits. And her bare hands. Baller.

While Star Wars doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test (there’s not a single scene in any of the first three movies in which two female characters have a conversation about anything at all besides men), it was a liberating experience. Princess Leia was a hero in her own right.

In a Rolling Stone interview last month, Carrie Fisher said

I like Princess Leia. I like how she was feisty. I like how she killed Jabba the Hutt. That’s my favorite thing she did.

Carrie Fisher, who was Princess Leia. Carrie Fisher whose jilted bride character carried a rocket launcher to off her former fiancé Jake Blues, this was after she set explosives to blow up his apartment. Carrie Fisher whose gal pal to Sally who met Harry would not put up with that horrid wagon wheel in her house. Carrie Fisher who brilliantly reprised her role of Leia, but this time as a rebel general and a heartbroken mom.

Carrie Fisher who was funny and honest. Who was a terrific author and one of the best script savers in Hollywood. Carrie Fisher who told us all about her struggles with addiction, depression and being bipolar with authenticity and wit.

I liked Carrie Fisher. I liked how she was feisty. I like how she killed Jabba the Hutt. But the favorite thing she did? She blasted a path by showing us what it’s like to be herself. She worked on a script for me to embrace myself at all of my ages. I am sorry that she left us so soon. I would have liked to see her as an old lady.

Peace, General. And thanks.

She Choked

Voting sign taped to the floor of the gym.

It was more getting it over with than anything else. The FBI made some Friday droppings. I thought I could put all the tawdryness behind me by voting. It would be done, for me anyway.

Bumped into the mayor and her folks at the rec center turned early voting site. She wasn’t running this election cycle. She and her very nice mom and dad were doing their civic duty. As we were. We did the politico handshake. She exhorted us to vote for Statehood. She did her job. 

There wasn’t much of a line in the gym. We warned the poll workers that the boss was outside. They appreciated that and we became fast friends. 

As I walked up to the new-fangled electroNiX voting machines, I asked if they were ever going to use the same system two years in a row. My attendant was pretty sure that they were going to stick with these. They were fully accessible, supported multiple languages and created a print record for a potential physical recount. Seemed pretty thorough. 

I got my one-on-one voting tutorial. This was a high touch process. Not very scalable. Made me extra glad the line was short. And so was my ballot. 

Now it was just me and the computer screen. It had a white background. I guess it was a skewmorphic attempt at paper. The names for President and Vice President lined the left side of the screen. This was easy. Too easy.  I hovered my finger over the names of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. 

As I pressed the screen, my choice lit up. As I pressed the screen my emotions lit up. I became all choked up. Surprised the hell out of me. This was to be a business transaction, and instead it hit me at my very core. 

I just voted for a woman to be President of the United States of America. And she very well may win. 

Sneaky feminist patriotism. Got me right in the feels. 

No Thank You

An empty office chair. The chair is red and it's in a rustic room.

The conference room was crowded. Again. It was always crowded. In addition to having too many meetings, there was frequently too many people in any given meeting. And, to add insult to injury, there were definitely too few conference rooms of substance.

There was enough room around the table for maybe fourteen people. There were an additional eleven or twelve chairs lining two of the walls.

The way conference rooms usually work had senior folks taking the seats at the table and the junior staff hanging out along the edges. Usually is not the norm in this room, though. Many interns and junior staffers read articles telling them it’s important to take their seats at the table. So although they had no substantive role in the meeting–not responsible for any action items, no speaking role and without relevant questions to ask or answer–the table was half-filled with the mute.

This day was like the rest. Musical chairs. Too many bodies for too few chairs.

A young woman walked into the room and stood along the edge. There were three other people posted up along the walls. The meeting was still convening.

One guy who was seated looked up at the late entering woman. “Here, sit here.”

“I’m okay.”

“No, really sit here.”

“I’m good.”

“No. Sit here,” he stood up his full six-foot three-inches.

“Seriously. I can stand. No problem.”

“No, I insist. I cannot accept you not taking this seat.”

He offered because that was what gentlemen do. He was brought up to respect women. To give up his seat. To open doors. To pay for dinner. That was what he was trained to do.

Somehow, though, she, and what she wanted was not part of his training. So it became not about her, and her sitting, but about him and him giving up his seat. And he demanded that she accept his offer of generosity.

I stepped in and said with a smile, “The lady said, ‘No,’ if we heard her correctly.”

He persevered on our young colleague. “I won’t feel right if you don’t take this chair.”

“It’s not about you,” I offered. “No means no.”

He looked at me with a flash of ire that immediately fell away. He meant no harm. He was doing what he was supposed to do. Except he was focused on his own will and his own need, not that of the object of his chivalry. He didn’t know what to do when his offer was not accepted. He had a role. She was stopping him. He had to reset, and he did.

She looked at me with a sense of relief. She didn’t want to fight over not sitting in the chair but felt pressured by him. She stood along the wall, as did a few others, for the duration of the meeting.

Here’s a new rule to add to one’s chivalry equation. When someone says “No thank you,” the correct response is, “Okay.”

Bottom line, if you are forcing your own desire or rules for someone’s benefit who does not share your perception of what they need, back off. Accept their choice. That’s the right thing to do.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I had a friend in college who had a dilemma. She was in charge of the placement of students in her progressive non-profit. It was part of a great program where students could earn a real college credit by doing real work for real student orgs.

One of the people my progressive friend interviewed was really excited about the work, had some relevant experience and a lot of energy. The problem? She was wearing a pink, crew neck, shetland sweater monogrammed with her initials and, even if not actually wearing a string of pearls, she sure seemed to be. She was preppy or, at least, she looked it.

We fighters for right derided the fraternities and sororities. They were experiencing a resurgence after a decade of withering at a very progressive campus. Folks working on economic and environmental justice, consumer choice and fairness literally had nothing to do with the Greeks on the hill. We didn’t go to the same parties. Didn’t hang at the same bars. Ate from different troughs. I’m sure that they were in some of our classes, but there was an unspoken demarcation in the classroom. Defined by their uniforms.

So the preppy young woman didn’t belong in our organizations. And my friend, from an eastern boarding school background, was torn. She wondered if Pinkie was worth the risk. I remember looking down at myself. Plaid flannel shirt, worn Levi’s and hiking boots with fat lugged soles. My friend had the same garb. Men and women on the reformist left, all wearing the same uniform.

What we wear, our hair, jewelry and makeup choices, is part of our identity and part of our communities. It can help us find other members of our tribe. And it can also shut us out from others who we don’t recognize, or worse, folks we assume we won’t like.

There was a discussion spawned by a piece that Barnard College president, Debora Spar, wrote in the NYTimes about her tribe,

a particular subset of the city’s elite — the powerful women of a certain age, mostly from the news media and politics. The men wore Hermès ties and as much hair as they could muster. The women were uniformly thin and dressed in short dresses, usually black. A Clinton was spotted and appropriately fawned over…”Every…woman there was over 60 and yet there wasn’t a wrinkle to be found. They all looked great, but so similar!”

Spar writes how she fights with herself to be herself and not fall into the trap of chasing youth through hair colouring, botox, nips and tucks. The discussion part included women who belong to a different tribe, like this 72-year-old retired pediatrician,

I don’t know what circles she moves in, but the wonderful, talented women that I know and work with do NOT go in for tummy tucks and Botox. A few colored their hair for a while (I did not), but most have realized that hair with no gray looks pretty silly on someone with significant wrinkles.

It is clear that Dr. Retired does not know Spar’s circles. She clearly moves in another. And is quick to judge from her spiral of natural hair. I bet some in those NY elite circles would think her frumpy or wonder why a woman of her caliber just let herself go.

Another commenter, Ms. Seventy from near Harvard, actually nails the issue, albeit backwards and inadvertently.

Ms. Spar’s is a problem, perhaps, for folks who go to white wine kiss-kiss parties. For many of the rest of us, age brings a welcome opportunity to opt out of the youth-oriented, body-perfection vision of beauty. When I go to the theater in Santa Monica, Calif., I’m the only woman of my age with gray hair. In Cambridge, Mass., at 70, I look pretty much like the rest of my age mates.

Yes, Ms. Seventy, you are correct. As you note, there are different tribes and different standards. But then you go and get all judgey, too. Lemme ask you this, why do you think that looking the way that YOU want to look is better than how your buddies in Santa Monica or Spar’s elite NYC colleagues want to look?

It’s just different.  Go ahead, wear your uniform with pride, but don’t deride the other team’s.

And for those of you who got this far and were wondering, whatever happened to Pinkie? My smart friend selected her. Pinkie turned out to be a most excellent contributor to the cause and a recruiter for others in her home tribe. She taught us all. A lot.

You’re Not Boss Over Me

Bossed up. Like Diana. Wonder Woman. From an ad

The child was prancing at the edge of the waves. I don’t know if she was teasing the ocean, or if the ocean was tricking her.

She was backing away from the water, and I could see the bottom of her swimsuit had white stars on American flag blue. Reminded me of Wonder Woman.

I readjusted my sun hat and pulled the long brim up a bit so I could see better. The suit had a cutaway and the top was red with yellow trim. Was this really a Wonder Woman suit? The girl turned toward me and I saw the definite gold “belt.” I so wanted that suit. Now. In a grown-up size.

I always forget how important Wonder Woman is to me. When Warner Brothers added Wonder Woman to it’s super hero lineup and released the trailer for her film, I watched it about fifteen times that first weekend. Thirty if you count all the times I skipped ahead to see her break a rifle in half, over her back, and deflect heavy artillery shells with her shield. But the best was when the guy said, “I can’t let you do this.” She looked at him somewhat blankly and said, “What I do is not up to you.”

“What I do is not up to you.” I love this. She makes her own calls. She doesn’t care about the guy’s chivalry. She doesn’t thank him for his concern. It’s foreign to her. It does not compute.

She doesn’t apologize for her strength. She protects other super heroes–like both Batman and Superman as they blathered on about their relationship. She is a fully formed person–albeit a badass person.

The girl was about seven. My eyes closely followed her every frolic. She kicked her leg out at the incoming wave. I looked. She waved her little plastic shovel above her head. It was duly noted. She pushed her wet locks away from her face, showering herself with sand. I saw that, too.

I watched this little girl playing next to the big bad ocean. She had no fear. She was alert, but not leery. She displayed her confidence. She didn’t need someone to protect her. She was fine. Wonder Woman in the making. I hope she always remembers that she’s a warrior princess. Oh, and where she parked that invisible plane. It’s impossible to see.

No Honor In Killing

an egg with a bunch of cracks and an ineffective bandaid across a few of them.

This is going to be a short, hot post. Because I am boiling.

Stupid headline in Rolling Stone reads:

Pakistan’s “Kim Kardashian” Murdered by Brother in “Honor Killing”

WTF is an honor killing? Why the hell even use that term? Is it to make it foreign and exotic? Like this is something that people do in other countries, in the calling of other religions?


Yes, this murder is heinous. Yes, it is totally out of line. No, he has no right to control her. And there is no right he has to kill her.


  • One in four women, yeah one of the four women at that brunch table next to you, will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • Young women are most likely to be beat up or killed at the hands of a partner or former partner. Ages 20-24 are the worst. Hide your daughters.
  • One-third, yup, one in three, women murdered are murdered by a partner or ex-partner.
  • From 2003-2012, 65% of female victims were targeted by someone they knew; only 34% of male violent crime victims knew their attackers.
  • More than 320,000–yes three hundred and twenty THOUSAND–women each year are abused by a partner.
  • Men use rape to control women. 45% of women in physically abusive relationships are raped during the relationship.
  • Do you know that men who kill women they know are treated more leniently than stranger murder, like facing fewer charges of first-degree murder? It’s called the intimacy discount in Canada.

Before you go #NotAllMen on me, I know that. So what.

This is about control. It’s not about honor. We need to fix our language at home and abroad. It’s not a quaint custom of a foreign land. It’s what happens every day.

Yes, every day there are three (3!!!!) women killed by a current or former male partner in the U.S.

So stop acting like it’s the other. It’s fcuking us. And what the hell are we doing about it?

PSA: If you or someone you know is in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

Old Women Bruhs

What is the old white woman version of the word “bro?”

Gloria Steinem–second wave feminist icon–totally stepped in it when she tried to old-splain why young women were not supporting democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Women are more for [Clinton] than men are. Men tend to get more conservative because they gain power as they age, women get more radical because they lose power as they age. 

They’re going to get more activist as they grow older. And when you’re younger, you think: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.’ —More here.

I kinda get her motivation. She’s like, “Damn! I just might see a woman elected president of the United States in my lifetime! And I don’t have any idea why young women are not wanting this, too!”

Classic and historical problem with American 2nd Wave feminism–white, middle class, educated and tone deaf to the needs of the women who are not them.

Now, Steinem did take it back. Using the classic and historical excuse of “misspeaking.”

But still, insulting people who you want on your side because they disagree with you just might be the problem.