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

Obit Day

Today is obit day. The nation lost three visionaries , as you’ve heard by now: Steve Jobs , the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth , and Derrick Bell . Others have said what there is to say, brilliantly. But such a day of losses made me think of a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem I try to say to someone every autumn. Close your office door and read it aloud. Spring and Fall to a young child MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving Over Goldengrove unleaving? Leáves, líke the things of man, you With your fresh thoughts care for, can you? Áh! ás the heart grows older It will come to such sights colder By and by, nor spare a sigh Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie; And yet you wíll weep and know why. Now no matter, child, the name: Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same. Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed What heart heard of, ghost guessed: It ís the blight man was born for, It is Margaret you mourn for...

My Body, Myself

(Homepage photo credit: Georgia O'Keeffe, Grey Line with Black, Blue, and Yellow, 1923. Houston Museum of Fine Arts.) So you've been watching those early '60s nostalgia shows in fascinated horror -- oh lord, women really had to live like that -- and wondering: How in the world did that world change into this one? Here's one part of the answer: Forty years ago this week, a dozen women published a book called Our Bodies, Ourselves , which explained the basics of how our physical equipment worked and how we should maintain it. All that was served up with a revolutionary philosophy: Women should know -- and make our own decisions -- about our bodies, sexuality, and health. It sounds ordinary now, but a glance at Mad Men tells you it wasn't once. When I was barely a teenager old enough to drive, waaaaay back in the mid-1970s, I came across an early copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves (OBOS) in the Dayton, Ohio, mall's chain bookstore B. Dalton. I've puzzled for decades over how it got there...

Where Are All the Same-Sex Couples At?

Thanks to the tireless demographer Gary Gates of UCLA's Williams Institute, NPR has an interactive map of where in the U.S., according to the census, the most same-sex couples live. (Or at least, where you can find same-sex couples who feel safe enough to tell the census that they're together.) As you'd imagine, every state has an outpost where the lesbians and gay men flock if they want to get a little bit away from their unwelcoming small town or family -- but not so far that they can't go home to visit the nephews or help with Thanksgiving. They're also, often, the outposts where the college students are, drawing the "creative class" that Richard Florida noted awhile back. And the place you go to meet others like yourself is often the place where you get married and settle down. I checked out some of the highly coupled counties, where self-identified same-sex couples make up 6.9 or more of every 1,000 households. Some are relatively predictable. For Ohio, it's long been the city of...

Poor, Poor Rich People

Over at The Washington Post , Barbara Ehrenreich feels terrible , just terrible about the problems of the super-rich, who can't dress the way they want to. She describes a New Yorker profile of Daphne Guinness ... who is apparently best known for wearing clothes , which she draws from a wardrobe of 2,500 garments, 450 pairs of shoes and 200 handbags. On the day she was interviewed, she wore ... "a pave diamond brooch," silver sheaths on two of her fingers and "custom-made sparkly silver Mary Janes, with a three inch platform under the toe" -- not the heel, the toe. Well, to each her own, but she might as well walk around Manhattan wearing a sign saying "My husband stole your pension."

The Best Man-Splanation

In response to my article yesterday about offices where sexism is a low-grade fever -- and let's be clear, this definitely happens in progressive and journalistic organizations as well as in finance, manufacturing, and all the rest -- Amanda Marcotte tweeted at me that the word " mansplaining " can sometimes help counter the problem. Aha! Yes -- naming things can help get rid of them! But this new coinage I had not yet heard, so I asked her for examples. Herewith: It's when a man condescendingly explains something to a woman who usually knows more about the subject than he. A good example: I had a guy in Twitter trying to explain to me how Mindy Kaling doesn't really understand screenwriting. Or here is a slightly edited version of an Urban Dictionary definition: To delight in condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock-solid confidence and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation. Even though he knew she had an...