OFFICIAL BLOG

Fieldnotes

Dangerous and Untrue: Myths and Politics Undermining the Modern Woman

Published by Wednesday Martin

Joan Didion famously wrote that “we tell ourselves stories in order to live.” But our society also tells many stories in order to suppress and control, harm and abuse. This is particularly evident in our stories about women, which often have a simple, insidious throughline: that women who are autonomous and empowered are untrustworthy and dangerous. This fiction finds life in everything from the false but popular Madonna-Whore dichotomy—where only fathers or husbands can contain womens’ terrible force—or the constant, feckless chastizing of Maxine Waters by pundits and other politicans for daring to use her voice and platform. Earlier this week, Bloomberg ran a piece on the plight of single mothers in Japan that put the consequences of our societies’ stories about women in stark relief. The article highlights the countless ways in which single mothers and their children suffer materially, psychologically, and socially in one of the world’s wealthiest nations. Worse still, single mothers in Japan with jobs do worse on almost every metric than those who don’t work, and the article pointedly suggests this has as much to do with taboo as economics. In my new book, Untrue, I similarly relate the copious literature showing that women in the US fare substantially worse financially from a divorce than men do, and that the only meaningful recourse is remarriage. What these facts tell us is that women are most valued when attached to a man and that the penalties for existing outside attachment to a man are severe. Some prominent new voices in pop culture have been pushing back against these narratives, allowing women to carve out space on their own professionnal, sexual, and cultural terms. There is Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag, Issa Rae’s Insecure, Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women, Hannah Gadsby’s astounding new comedy special Nanette, and so so many more. In all of these brilliant works, female creators are presenting stories where women can be unruly, angry, unsure, empowered, alone, or in community of their choosing. But the world around them is still playing catch up. A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research argues that across developed nations the cost of modern maternity is a consistent pattern of women failing to realize both their professional and reproductive aspirations. A gap that the study’s authors contend is unaffected by currently implemented policy prescriptions like extended maternity leave. The picture their study paints is of a world where we have raised women’s expectations for their lives without meaningfully changing the offices or homes they inhabit. (To be fair, this week the Supreme Court tried to bring women's expectations back down, ruling that so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" can lie about abortion and reproductive health.) We may be beginning to get better stories about women (thanks to listening to the ones they tell themselves), but we are still a long way from seeing these stories lead our politics and culture.


Blaming Women for Men’s Actions

Published by Wednesday Martin

Recently I shared (on Twitter) Lauren Evans’s outstanding article for The Establishment on the pernicious perspective embedded in the term “revenge porn.” This commonly used phrase, which has found its way into legal statutes in several countries as well as a handful of US states, refers to the practice of nonconsensually sharing sexually charged photographs of another person. As Evans notes, to categorize this behavior as “revenge” is to legitimate it as a response to a prior wrong. It follows many other modern cultural phenomena in blaming (female) victims for the harms done to them. Evans’s article put me in mind of Asia Argento, who was recently caught up in a mob of blame for the suicide of Anthony Bourdain, who she was dating at the time of his death. Bourdain, a brilliant writer and thinker, was rightfully beloved by all who followed his career and enjoyed joining him on illuminating adventures in Parts Unknown. Despite Bourdain writing a book about his past struggles with suicidal ideation and addressing the issue frequently in interviews, many people  were nonetheless quick to accuse Argento for his death. Some called her a “manipulater&user” and a “witch.” Others accused Argento of being “unfathomable” in her deceit—she was photographed with another man in the hours prior to Bourdain's death—and a destroyer of the MeToo movement. Some also suggested prosecution: “What investigators must do is to look deep into [Bourdain’s] communications with her to see what they find and file charges were [sic] needed be.”  Predictably blame landed on a woman, and worse still, one accused of being untrue. How little light there is between this and our past. We can hear echoes of Hester Prynne or Salem in the accusations that Argento is a witch. One twitter user called her a "succubus," taking us back to the days of the Malleus Maleficarum. Plus ça change. Female sexual autonomy remains disruptive and destabilizing to the social order, and the penalties women pay, whether Argento or victims of “revenge porn,” are steep. The messages society is sending these women are clear: be quiet, contain yourself, your body is not your own.


Primates of Park Avenue Is Coming to the Silver Screen

Published by Wednesday Martin

Exciting things are in the air with the start of summer just around the corner. As reported in the Hollywood Reporter, I will be partnering with Lionsgate to adapt my last book, Primates of Park Avenue, for television! I know that this news already has many of my fans stoked; if you are too, please share your thoughts below or on Facebook and Twitter.


The Insanely High Price of Female Infidelity

Published by Wednesday Martin

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness that one of the most powerful constraints on female ambition and autonomy is disproportionate and unequal punishment for behaviors men routinely get a pass for. This bias can be clearly seen in continuing gendered double standards around cheating. Take the recent example of Tatiana Akhmedova: she is the ex-wife of Azerbaijani-Russian oligarch Farkhad Akhmedov, who refuses to finalize their divorce and pay out a court-ordered settlement of $500 million (in the form of a mega yacht) because of his wife’s alleged infidelity. This despite the fact that there is strong reason to believe that Mr. Akhmedov himself stepped out of the marriage and sired a child with a paramour. Or we can look to the case of former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry (pictured above), who was abruptly forced to plead guilty to felony theft and resign in March due to an affair with her bodyguard. This contrasts sharply with the treatment of her male peers who have been untrue, like Mark Sanford, who had a cross-continental affair while Governor of South Carolina and lied about it, but was able to serve out his full term and then be elected as a congressman for that state two years later. These dynamics could also be seen at play in the 2016 Presidential Election, where Donald Trump’s serial philandering was brushed away with boys-will-be-boys logic while Hillary Clinton was castigated for her husband’s indiscretions. These disparities of treatment for infidelity along gendered lines show we still have a long way to go towards true equality; our current state of affairs looks little different from the days of Hawthorne’s scarlet A. If we want to move forward, a good first step would be learning to defy these truly outdated social scripts around those who cheat.


The Future of Female Webinar with Dr. Tammy Nelson

Published by Wednesday Martin

I will be speaking with Dr. Tammy Nelson, author of The New Monogamy, on her webinar The Future of Marriage about The Future of Female. Tune in on Wednesday, May 2nd at 12pm! Register online NOW and explore with us the topics of women, sex, monogamy, female libido, lust, infidelity, gender equality and more!


UNTRUE Book Cover Reveal

Published by Wednesday Martin
UNTRUE
UNTRUE

YAY!!!! I’m very excited to reveal the cover of UNTRUE, my upcoming book about female sexuality!! Check out Bustle website for a write up.


Wednesday's Woman Crush

Published by Wednesday Martin

Today’s MASSIVE crush on two fearless leaders—Okoye and Rachel Simmons. Have you seen Black Panther? It has broken the box office and inspired people across the US. I haven’t seen my friends this excited—about a movie that is more like a cultural event, and what feels like both the proof of and the possibility of even more meaningful social change--in a long time. Maybe ever. Okoye is inspiring girls and boys alike with her strength, smarts, and proud blackness. What does it mean when women lead unambivalently, without fear of stepping on male egos, without fear of reprisal from the greater male coalition? Okoye does just this. Can the rest of us get there? Rachel Simmons wants to know. The author of trailblazing Odd Girl Out has written another sure-to-be-a-classic for feminists, parents, and everybody else—Enough as She Is. Rachel’s message is that we have to let girls learn to fail and learn to forgive themselves for it if we want them to thrive and to lead. Buy it here—and I’ll see you at Black Panther.


Hypocrisy and Hierarchy in #MeToo Movement

Published by Wednesday Martin
From @WednesdayMartin Twitter
From @WednesdayMartin Twitter

Women who have an issue with #metoo — notice that among other things it’s a generational and political (progressive/conservative) divide. And much of it, when you read closely, is a version of “WE put up with it & we are ok so stop being crybabies/victims.“