Profile for Lauren Gitlin

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Betty Draper Book Club: So What’s With “The Group”?

“Mad Men” acolytes with eagle eyes might’ve noticed that the book Betty Draper brought into the tub with her on last night’s episode was none other than The Group by Mary McCarthy. Published in 1963 but set in the 1930s, The Group is a subtly scathing portrait of a circle of educated, upwardly mobile New York society women who all went to Vassar College — at the time more of a finishing school than a bastion of liberal education – together. The book follows these eight frenemies as their lives unfold and unravel after graduation, seeing them through abusive marriages, extra-marital affairs, birth control, familial conflict, class war, Communist sympathies, lesbianism, suicide and the ever-elusive female orgasm. Keep reading »

Debate This: Are Drugs That Get Rid Of Your Period Creepy?

With all the advances in technology and medical research, it’s about damned time someone discovered a way to minimize or eliminate that inconvenient monthly scourge we ladies call our period. Or so drugs like Seasonale and Lybrel, which advertise their ability to reduce or annihilate a monthly period (respectively) would have you believe. As anyone who watches E! or SoapNet (what? You don’t watch “Being Erica”?) can attest, there’s been an explosion in the marketing of birth control pills that help you manage your flow, but the technology allowing a woman to do this has been around since the advent of the Pill in 1960. In fact, the Pill’s creators allowed specifically for a week-long sabbatical from the hormones that stopped you from ovulating with the specific intention of mimicking the body’s natural cycle, worried that women would balk at the notion of not having her trusty monthly visitor. But the fact is, if you’re on the Pill, there’s no reason to bleed. And yet some women still find the idea of not having a period exceedingly unnatural. So the question is: when you’re on the Pill, is your period really necessary? Two women weigh in, after the jump… Keep reading »

Blondes: They’re Just Like Us!

Over at The Daily Beast, Alison Prato has written a column on“Breakout Blondes,” which asserts that there is some sort of tow-headed backlash against the dumb blonde stereotype going on in pop culture. Prato gave a number of examples of successful blonde women, from Taylor Swift to Dakota Fanning to Agyness Deyn (the range is astounding isn’t it?), maintaining that after a dark reign in which brunettes like Angelina Jolie ruled our collective imaginations, the fair-haired contingent was back and better than ever. There’s a multitude of reasons why this “article” rubbed me the wrong way, but I’ll just address two. Keep reading »

Debate This: Should You Out A Cheater?

By the time you hit your Saturn Return, the probability that you’ve been on the giving or receiving end of a romantic infidelity is about as high as your credit card debt. But what happens when you’re privy to the less than virtuous activities of a friend or acquaintance’s significant other? The moral conundrum of whether or not to out a cheater is fraught with shoot-the-messenger peril and weighted with Golden Rule considerations. And the potential outcome of ratting out a rat is just as complex and diverse. Should you risk life and limb to unveil the truth or keep your nose out of someone else’s business? Two ladies argue the costs. Keep reading »

Ashlee Simpson On “Melrose Place”?! Discuss!

As if news of a rebooted “Melrose Place” weren’t bad enough, Michael Ausiello of Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Ashlee Simpson has been cast in this epic s**tshow. According to The Aus, Simpson is slated to play country bumpkin Violet, “a character whose disarming naiveté masks the calculating, shrewd sex kitten within.” In plain talk, she’s gonna be Sydney 2.0. It takes some doing to be outraged by this apparent threat to the integrity of a show that regularly featured poolside cat fights and characters with lobotomies, but surely MP’s legacy deserves more than this. Thoughts? Keep reading »

Eliot Spitzer And Sexytime Violence

Nearly a year after news of Eliot Spitzer’s Hookergate scandal, new sordid details have been revealed. The New York Daily News reports that a second call girl, who goes by the name “Annie,” claims that Spitzer choked her as part of role-playing foreplay. S&M is nothing new, and New York’s erstwhile governor may not be the most shining example of conventional sexual appetites, but this account supports anecdotal evidence of a growing sexual trend. Where once spanking, dirty talk, and hair-pulling pushed the limits of casual sexual encounters, choking, face-slapping and spitting are becoming more and more part and parcel of hooking up. What happens in the privacy of the bedroom is a matter of taste, I suppose, but in light of the recent, high profile Chris Brown/Rihanna scandal, you kinda can’t help but wonder whether harmless sex games and real-life violence toward women are connected. What’s permissible behind closed doors might well bear itself out in everyday life. Do you think S&M subconsciously normalizes violence towards women? Keep reading »

Debate This: Would You Exchange Sex For Money?

Last year marked a confluence of events both real (Eliot Spitzer and Ashley Dupre) and thinly fictionalized (Showtime’s “Secret Diary of A Call Girl”), that arguably made 2008 the Year of the Prostitute. A cache of articles glamorizing the oldest profession in recent months, combined with the economic tailspin, has put a question you might once have asked yourself in your darkest hour firmly at the fore: Would you sell your ass for money? Sure, the prospect of exchanging your goodies (and we’re not just talking sex, but any sort of sexual activity) for goods still carries stigma, and the feminist positions for and against are as numerous and complicated as the positions in the Kama Sutra. But the more attention the topic gets on the national stage, the less it stays a dirty little secret. Two women’s takes on the matter, after the jump… Keep reading »

Debate This: Should You Live Together Before Marriage?

For many women, moving in with a serious boyfriend is not merely a stepping stone in the evolution of a relationship, it’s a practical way to both give the mundane realities of marriage a test-run and deal with the exorbitant expenses of modern living. When it comes to co-habiting with a significant other, we’ve come a long way since that old chestnut about not buying the cow when you could get the milk for free.

Or have we? Some research shows that living together before marriage actually increases the already stacked odds that the union will end in divorce. It might seem old-fashioned, but there are plenty of progressive, independent women opting to hold off on living with their dudes until after “I do.” Of course, there are no hard and fast rules for ensuring a marriage succeeds. I talked to two women with opposing views about whether co-habitating with a partner was good or bad for the long-term health of a relationship.
Keep reading »

Mad Men: Joan Holloway’s Date Rape Probably Not That Rare

Last night’s “Mad Men” had an all-too-rare subplot involving Joan and her betrothed, The Handsome Doctor . In a previous episode, Doc’s abusive, douche-tastic tendencies were barely hinted at — “Didn’t you say you were getting me a drink?!” — but this episode confirmed it for any doubters. In one of the most disturbing scenes to have been featured on “Mad Men”, the good doctor forces Joan to have sex with him on the floor of Don Draper’s office despite her repeated protests and attempts to physically dissuade him. Perhaps the saddest and most resonant part of all is when she stops fighting and turns her head to stare fixedly at Don’s coffee table, resigned to her fate. Keep reading »

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