Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Amusements

If you get as bored with the internet on Sunday as I do, here's a couple little things to peruse until everything gets going again tomorrow morning.

I don't know if you're as sick of whiny relationship memoirs as I am, but even I couldn't stop reading this one posted on Salon. Something about it just brought the whole thing to a new low. The very simple story? Freelance writer of upper-middle-class background wants to marry a guy who will put food on the table but instead marries a wonderful but unambitious guy with no money who gets fired from his job. Girl's response? I should divorce him. It's amazing that she treats her eventual decision to stay with him and get an actual paying job as some huge sign of growth. I had to check my calendar to make sure we are in the 21st century. This isn't a pro-feminist link. It's more of a so-horrific-you-can't-look-away-car-accident kind of thing.

As for something more peppy and woman-friendly, Slate is considering how one woman may change fashion. President-elect Obama's pick for his new Solicitor General is Harvard Law dean Elena Kagan. (The Solicitor General is the federal government's representative before the Supreme Court.) She's the first woman appointed to hold the position, which puts her in a bit of a quandary. The traditional garb worn by the solicitor general when before the high Court includes a morning coat, vest, and striped pants, basically resembling the outfit at right. Women present in various roles at the Court have worn this outfit before, but Dahlia Lithwick thinks the whole thing should be thrown out and I must agree. It's bad enough we have only one woman on the Court right now, but an outdated tradition that favors men and makes women look ridiculous is inappropriate.

As for me, I'm more interested in whether Kagan will be doing her own arguing. Usually the Solicitor General argues the government's position in all cases before the Court, though deputies may also perform the arguments. Kagan's background is mostly in administrative law, which is perfect for someone in this position. But I haven't seen any evidence of appellate work in her history and it's not just something any lawyer can step in and do. Especially in the biggest court in the country. After her administrative role at Harvard, I'm curious to see if she sticks to an administrative role or decides to step up herself. Either way, I'm happy to see such an impressive woman in such an impressive position. (There are already whisperings of her filling an empty Court seat someday.)

And last but not least, I heard there was a Rachel Maddow bit on SNL last night so I hopped over to hulu to take a look. I admit I wasn't a faithful viewer for a while there after the election, but I have hopped back on and I really enjoy her program. I was glad to see that it wasn't a Keith-Olbermann-style-pounding, such as the one Ben Affleck gave a few months ago. But I was kind of surprised to see that there didn't even seem to be much of an impersonation beyond a wig and a suit jacket. What about all her cute little mannerisms? The way she does funny little voices? The nerdy humor? Did you see when she wore the cavers helmet last week? I thought it was a lost opportunity. And the lesbian jokes there at the end fell very very flat. For now I'll withhold my judgment on SNL newbie Abby Elliott who played Maddow, though I was surprised it was her after I'd just read that other newbie Michaela Watkins was interested in giving Maddow a try.


habladora said...

Hey, thanks for the coverage of the Kagan appointment - and for mocking that ridiculous Salon piece.

Naomi said...

I love wearing tails and a waistcoat -- as long as they're cut to fit me well, of course. I don't see why this kind of outfit has to be defined as "men's clothing" -- I'm sure that many of the female solictor-generals have looked quite classy in it. Women in well-tailored suits are hot! I kind of wonder if thinking they look ridiculous is in the eye of the beholder?

FEMily! said...

I saw part of the Maddow sketch while flipping through the channels. There really was no impression at all, and I was very disappointed. Maddow smiles when she talks and tends to get a little high-pitched when she drives her point home, but both qualities were missing in the impression. Whoever was impersonating Maddow probably never watched or listened to her.

Natalia said...

I'm of two minds about the Salon piece by Belger. On one hand, it's pretty awful. On the other hand, if you're raised in an upper-middle class home with early vacations, you're going to hold to those values in your personal life. This isn't to say that Belger's parents are monsters who zombified her with the comforts of existence, but it's easy to see how her expectations would be way, way high in terms of family finances.

So maybe she did sincerely make a huge leap in her thinking when she decided to stick it out. Who knows.

I don't know if it was even intentional, but the piece reminded me of how we pay lip service to the idea of female independence, yet still expect prince charming to ride up on his white, vanquish our credit card bills and whisk us off to a vacation to the Maldives, first-class all the way. It's like, oh it's all fine and well to work hard and pay your own bills, but REAL happiness awaits you with a rich dude.


I'm glad she stayed with him, but, like many Salon readers I started to wonder - what's going to happen to her if they have a baby? Shit, what's going to happen if 2009 is as tough as some people predict it will be?

Maggie said...

Naomi, I haven't ever seen a woman don the morning coat. But I did read a few places that the women who have worn it look a little foolish. I'm not sure if they just aren't wearing well-tailored ones or if there's in-house suits you're stuck with.

Natalia, I agree with you completely. To me, this read as a cautionary tale of how not to raise an upper-middle-class daughter. If your kid doesn't think that going out and getting a paying job to support her family is an option you're probably doing something wrong.