winter 2004
table of contents
Letter from the Editor
Articles Online

Election Postmortem
A Center of One's Own
Abortion/Breast Cancer Link?
The Russian Wives Club


From Gadfly to Nobel Peace Prize
DemocraShe in Northern Ireland
Women's Film in Palestine
Networking Corner

Cover Story
Women of the Year
Jersey Girls | Jessica Seigel
Samanta Power | Catherine Orenstein
Betty Dukes | Ellen Hawkes
Saudatu Mahdi | Stephanie Nolen
Kathy Najimy | Ellen Snortland
Maxine Waters | Lisa Armstrong
Lisa Fernandez | Michele Kort

More Features

Women, Democracy and Hope | Kathy Sheridan
The End of Feminism's Third Wave | Lisa Jervis
The Fuck-You 50s | Suzanne Braun Levine
Rocking the Cradle of Jazz | Sherrie Tucker
Cheers and Cringes: The Year in Review
Women Who Made a Difference


Back to the Kitchen
Decoding anti-feminist writer Caitlin Flanagan | Hillary Frey

Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary | Rebecca Brown

It was a Good Year for Dreams | Cortney Davis
the seahorse as transubstantiation
|Quan Barry

Activists, actors, academics, athletes, writers and a great chef

Book Reviews
Patricia Cohen on Marilynne Robinson's Gilead; Jenoyne Adams on Michel Wallace's Dark Designs and Visual Culture; Debra Spark on Cynthia Ozick's Heir to the Glimmering World; Bernadette Murphy on Mary Gordon's Pearl; Valerie Miner on Alice Munro's Runaway

Plus: Winter Must-Read List

We Must Frame the Debate - Now! | Donna Brazile

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Letter From The Editor
| winter 2004

Going Forward With Grit and Wit in 2005

What a year.

Where were you the morning after the election? Did the world seem like a different place? I woke up in New York City and immediately noticed something peculiar: The normal street noise, the Manhattan clamor, was absent. The city seemed hushed. Americans had voted, in droves.

They re-elected a president who brought us to war and promised to erode women’s rights if re-elected. Americans voted to ban not just gay marriage, but also civil unions, in nearly 11 states. Was New York City frozen in shock and awe?

A couple days later I rented a car — getting out into nature while some of it still existed seemed like a good idea — and discussed the urban silence phenomenon with a young African American woman at the rental counter.

She said she’d noticed it too, and she shook her head in sadness. “I’m just going to Atlantic City tomorrow. What else can we do?”

Well that’s why the Ms. community is here. There is a lot we can do and, perhaps now more than ever, more that we MUST do.

It’s going to be a challenge — no, let’s call it what it is — it’s going to be a brutal few years for women’s rights and progressive values.

It’s going to be a painful few years even for those who hold libertarian principals, for those of us who believe that the government should mostly stay out of our private lives, for those of us who believe the framers were correct in their notion of separation of church and state.

Perhaps most importantly, it’s going to be a tough time for a generation who believed the women’s movement achieved its goals way back when and that none of us has anything serious to worry about.

Ms. magazine, an independent voice, will be here with you, providing news, analysis and community as we push forward.

We are proud of this year-end issue and especially proud of our Women of the Year. Those Jersey Girls on our cover — the New Jersey women who refused to back down, who made the 9/11 commission happen — showed what girlfriends can do when they bond together and commit to action. By the way, if you haven’t read the bestselling 9/11 Commission Report, do so. It’s stunning.

We can’t wait for you to read the profiles of all of our Women of the Year. They are all an inspiration. On page 14, you get the latest analysis on that election, the gender gap, and some thoughts on what we must do now.

Some of us hardcore nonpartisans at Ms. have a wee suggestion for future candidates of any political party who say they are seeking the “women’s vote”: How about NOT going hunting in silly camouflage outfits and being photographed with blood dripping from the rifle hand?

Really, guys, it doesn’t prove strength or leadership ability. Try mentioning women’s healthcare and pay equity, and having real conversations about how women in the United States are trying to combine family and career. Just a thought.

Don’t miss our special report from Kathy Sheridan on the elections in Afghanistan on page 46. Professor Sherrie Tucker rocks with a wonderful story on women and jazz on page 68.

And here’s our take on the so-called generational divide among women: Lisa Jervis, cofounder of the hip magazine Bitch, says goodbye to all that on page 56; Ms. 2004 Legend Award winner and former editor Suzanne Braun Levine lets us know what being 50 plus is like on page 64.

You are going to laugh, love it, hate it or maybe even fire us off an email.

Which brings us back to the most important part of Ms. magazine: you. Big corporate magazine publishers commission expensive reader surveys all the time. We choose to spend our money on the stories that appear in the magazine. But we DO want to know who you are and what you are thinking.

What do you feel about the new Ms. magazine? Where do you buy it? Where is it displayed? What are your favorite stories? What do you hate? What do you wish there was more of? We want to know!

Please send letters or emails to me at We want to hear from you. And go to our website,, for web-only content and the latest news. Together, even in these difficult times, we cannot fail.

— Elaine Lafferty


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