2013 in Baltimore Women

Via Somaroy

Via Somaroy

2013 was the year that caused BFB’s very own Marion Winik to ponder the “new Katy Perry kind of feminism.” Below, a few of the biggest moments for Baltimore women that took place over the past 12 months.

+After the Walters named Julia Marciari-Alexander as its new director, the three major art museums in Baltimore were each helmed by a woman. How’s that for leaning in?

+We learned that Baltimore is one of the best cities in the nation for singles… but also the fourth-worst spot for single women. Wait, what?
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Name Change Has Friends Questioning Feminist Cred

Hi Al,

Although I consider myself a feminist, I am pretty definite in my decision to take my husband’s last name when we get married next June. My decision doesn’t cause me or my husband any problem except that my female friends and co-workers think I have somehow “sold out” by not keeping my maiden name.

Even though my husband has not in any way pressured me, my friends suspect that he has, even though I let them know that I made the decision myself.  Some of the women have known me since grad school, college, and even high school, in some cases longer than I’ve known my husband. So, I guess they think they know me better than he does, and in a way, they think they know what’s better for me. Even though I really care about some of my old friends, I think they are being arrogant. I like the idea of sharing a name with my husband psychologically and practically. If we have children some day, I want to have the same name as theirs and don’t want to create unnecessary complications. Why can’t they just accept that?

Because I used to say that I’d never take my husband’s last name when I got married, my long-time friends think I must have been coerced. My friends and co-workers are getting me down because they say I shouldn’t take the man’s name. For some reason, they don’t seem to understand or accept my interpretation of what it means to be a feminist.  I mean, really, there are other more significant ways for me to advance the cause of equality for women. Any ideas on how to get that across to them?

What’s in a Name

Dear What’s:

You are obviously being pulled in two directions: by your allegiance to your friends and your shared convictions, on the one hand, and your loyalty to your husband and your shared commitment, on the other. Because your friends passionately believe in equality for women and also believe that you do, too, they feel deserted by you in the way that you have symbolically rejected what they stand for.

What makes the name selection so symbolic is how visible it is, not how significant it is—certainly not in your case. No matter whether women keep their maiden (birth) name, they are still using a masculine moniker. Because of the way surnames are used in our culture, unless a wife and her husband create their own married name, the woman can’t avoid using some man’s name.

In this instance, your taking your husband’s name is just as significant and symbolic as not taking it. Because you love him and have committed yourself to him, as he has committed himself to you, you want to emblazon an unmistakable, visible statement above your shared life for the rest of the world to behold.

If your friends and colleagues are still unconvinced, remind them that  what you believe is much more convincing when it is reflected in how you behave. If you live your life in a way that rejects stereotypes and elevates all people with a respect that is authentic and consistent, no one can question what you stand for.  Whether you keep the name of your father or you take the name of your husband, the integrity with which you live your life will bring honor to it. So, no matter what name you call yourself, anyone who hears it and knows you will recognize its sound as sweet.

Got questions about life? Love? Parenting? Work? Write to Whit’s End, a new advice column by local husband, father, teacher, coach, former executive and former Marine Corps officer Al Whitaker.  Send your questions to whitsend@baltimorefishbowl.com

 

Shaving the Female Leg

wrestlers

University of  Baltimore MFA grad student Sue Loweree knows a heck of a lot about hair removal — her hilarious self-help advice might convince you never to shave your gams ever again.

CANDIDATES:

Some states, such as Vermont and Maine, and northwestern mountain towns and Germany do not require shaved-legs. Female wrestlers, cow wranglers, and river guides are also exempt, unless they are going home for the holidays, are asked to be a bridesmaid, or are invited to an upscale pool party. Continue reading

Steamed Cranberry Pudding: A Sweet Ghost Story

pudding

As Baltimore writer Sheri Venema reacquainted herself with her mother’s quaint church cookbook, she pondered “a time when a woman became a suffix to her husband” — once her baking was done, she realized much more.

The recipe for Steamed Cranberry Pudding did not speak to me at first. The directions seemed too cryptic: Waxed paper? Tin cans? Also, the tattered cookbook in which I found the recipe originated in the long-ago kitchens of women in my childhood church, and it seemed laden with dishes predictable and dull.

Tuna Noodle Casserole.

Miracle Cheese Cake (lemon Jell-O with cream cheese and sugar).

Oven Barbecue (Spam, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce).

Typed on a manual typewriter and then Xeroxed and bound with cheap plastic coil, the cookbooks were sold to raise money for a church society. My copy long ago lost its red cover. I sometimes took it out of its protective Ziploc bag to find a cookie recipe, but mostly I felt superior to this little book with its stains and misspellings. Clearly it came from a time when cream of mushroom soup and oleo ruled every kitchen in my neighborhood, and I had walked away from the Midwestern housewifery prescribed in its pages. I owned a wok and a Silver Palate cookbook. I made my own hummus.  Continue reading

Lean In: Marion Winik Reviews Sheryl Sandberg’s New Book

Baltimore Fishbowl columnist and University of Baltimore professor Marion Winik reviewed for Newsday the controversial new book by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Read an excerpt, below:

LEAN IN: Women, Work, and the Will to Leadby Sheryl SandbergAlfred A. Knopf, 228 pp., $24.95.

Rarely has the publication of a book been met with such a volley of snark and countersnark as “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” a business advice book by Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. Noticeably arm’s-length coverage by Jodi Kantorin The New York Times kicked off weeks of hoopla and vitriol in the blogosphere. Critics, many of whom had not read the book, which was published Tuesday, accused Sandberg of overreaching; of being elitist, anti-motherhood and anti-feminist; of not adequately representing poor, minority and non-heterosexual women; and, finally, of wearing Louboutin and Prada. Others rushed quickly to decry what seemed like knee-jerk feminist posturing or plain old hating the rich. Continue reading