E.J. Graff

E.J. Graff writes on social-justice and human-rights issues, particularly discrimination and violence against women and children; marriage and family policy; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lives. She is a resident scholar at the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center and the author of What Is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution (Beacon Press, 1999, 2004).

Recent Articles

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go to the Salad Bar ...

In theory, your lunch is soon to be a little safer . In part as a response to Harvard Public Health Review editor Madeline Drexler's devastating food-safety critique in the latest issue of Good Housekeeping , the USDA just announced it would designate all "Big Six" strains of E. coli as "adulterants" -- previously, only one E. coli strain was counted as dangerous. That means food producers are supposed to test for and eliminate them in their products. Drexler's piece opened with the heartbreaking death of a healthy child from an E. coli O111 infection, a strain hitherto permissible in the food supply. As the child's mother said, "I feel like my kid was murdered." Declaring a potentially deadly bacterium an impermissible "adulterant" was long pushed for by consumer groups and legislators, and strongly recommended in the article. Drexler's 2003 book Secret Agents , recently updated and reissued as "Emerging Epidemics: The Menace of New Infections," stopped me from ever eating raw bean...

This Is Your Country "On Alert"

Remember reading that there were some "security incidents" this past Sunday after authorities "erred on the side of caution" for fear of a 9/11 anniversary attack? James Fallows at The Atlantic has some dispiriting insights into one of them: A half-Arab, half-Jewish self-described suburban housewife and former journalism student was detained because, by chance, she was seated on a plane row between two Indian men. As she wrote : Silly me. I thought flying on 9/11 would be easy. I figured most people would choose not to fly that day so lines would be short, planes would be lightly filled and though security might be ratcheted up, we'd all feel safer knowing we had come a long way since that dreadful Tuesday morning 10 years ago. But then armed officers stormed my plane, threw me in handcuffs and locked me up. Is Flying While Semitic the new DWB? No wonder American Jews are the most sympathetic, according to Gallup, to the plight of American Muslims; they're cousins, facing similar...

Did "Sexual Liberation" Make Us More Monogamous?

When I was babysitting back in 1975, I was afraid of a book enshrined on one family's coffee table: Open Marriage, by Nena and George O'Neill. I can't really tell you why it scared me; I never opened it, and I didn't grasp the topic, but its prominent and seemingly fixed placement made it seem evangelically threatening to my family life in some way I couldn't express. Our rural exurb of an Ohio Air Force base (a SAC command, for those who remember the Cold War) wasn't exactly the key-party, "wife-swapping" territory of Updike's Connecticut or Rick Moody and Ang Lee's Ice Storm . But there was Open Marriage , on display deep in Republican territory -- an announcement to the married, retired colonels and military wives who visited that alternatives to each other were available. It was also the year that the fabulously named Dr. Pepper Schwartz and Dr. Philip Blumstein were doing the broad-scale research that resulted in their landmark book, American Couples: Money, Work, Sex. Long...

No, You Can't Just Eat Oreos

What do Jane Lynch and I have in common? (I know this question has been haunting you since I started opining here a week ago.) Obviously Jane is funnier and far more talented, creative, well-off, and famous. But we do have this in common: We both became parents at an advanced age by marrying women who already had children. I wonder if her household is as consumed as mine is by the burning question: Should kids pack their own lunches?

Sim City 2000, Subsidized by Your Tax Dollars

If you were either consumed by the 9/11 retrospectives or avoiding them with your own personal news blackout, you might have missed The New York Times ' exposé on how thoroughly the video-game industry is subsidized by your tax dollars -- courtesy, at least in part, of the government/industry revolving door. You know something is wrong when even the oil companies think your business gets too many tax breaks. Here's the money quote: Michael D. Rashkin, author of "Practical Guide to Research and Development Tax Incentives," said that the video game industry had failed to name a technological breakthrough that had helped anyone beyond its shareholders, employees or customers. "The research credit benefits the wrong companies and encourages the wrong kind of research," said Mr. Rashkin, a tax expert and executive at Marvell Technology, a company based in Santa Clara, Calif. "By diverting funding and attention from where it could be most useful, the credit is hobbling American innovation."