The Ultimate Flaw of The Good Wife

Good Wife Slap.jpg
By Tara Cavanaugh
Well, that was a slap in the face.
Literally, yes. As has been lauded in many write-ups, The Good Wife’s series finale ending scene mirrors its pilot one, this time with Alicia herself getting slapped for a brutal, if strategic, transgression against her friend Diane, in a move that ultimately “won” Alicia her freedom.
It was a depressing ending to a tedious episode and increasingly tedious season. The finale, as many have pointed out, hideously failed the Bechdel test, as its entirety was about Peter’s trial, Peter’s cheating (again), Diane’s husband’s cheating (oh come on), Cary’s noble search for missing bullets and The Truth, and the waffling between Jason and Alicia that has gone from clever and sexy to downright annoying. How many times this episode did they “have a talk” that consisted of hemming and hawing and middle school fidgeting? I stopped counting.
I shouldn’t have had high hopes for the finale. I used to watch the show with rapt attention, endlessly amused by the intertwining of storylines and the wonderful, zany characters. But after Will left and then Kalinda, the show never fully regained its momentum. Sure, there were still some excellent episodes, but I started to wonder about, and then get completely distracted by, Alicia’s true aims: What does she want, really? What is she even doing all this for?
We still don’t know.
Alicia is a woman who, at first, was the victim. Her husband had a high-profile downfall and prison sentence resulting from soliciting prostitutes, on top of affairs with other women. Alicia was forced into the public eye, humiliated, standing by her man. And then she had to go back to work after a 15-year-hiatus and suffer the hazing of life at a law firm. But all that trauma made a formidable character: ambitious, ruthless, complex. We watched her struggle with defending less than laudable clients. We watched her fight falling in love with Will and then have a delicious affair of her own. We watched her complicated relationship with Peter balance contempt, duty and tenderness. We saw her stand tough, we saw her cry, we saw her throw plates at Eli.
But we never really figured out what she wants.
Did she want to start an all-women’s firm with Diane? Not really, that was Diane’s idea. Did she truly want to be State’s Attorney? That was Eli’s idea and he bullied her into it. Did she want to stay shackled to Peter? No, but her career and political aims necessitated staying the wife. The only thing she ever truly seemed to want was Will, and he died.
Back to that monumental episode of Eli and the plate-hurling: she found out that Eli, so long ago, had deleted a confessional voicemail from Will that professed his love and devotion. When Eli finally admitted this to Alicia, she was livid. But even if she had heard that voicemail back then, would she have done anything about it? Probably not. She probably would have stayed latched to Peter for her career, or his career, or for some other duty.
After all, the show was always about duty and desire. Alicia had a duty to her clients, to her children, her husband. And she fulfilled those duties, while sometimes giving into her desires, sometimes even getting consumed by them, but she always was interrupted by her phone—and she always answered the call.
But what was always apparent, and never fully answered, was the call of her own desires. Sure, there were some episodes in which she did exactly what she wanted. Those moments of stubbornness were few and strange. (Grace to Alicia on a tour bus ride during Peter’s presidential bid: “What are you reading?” “Jane Eyre.” Puzzled: “Why?” Pointed: “Because I want to.”) It was odd to see her selfish. A dutiful woman is never selfish because her duties are always to someone other than herself.
So in the final episode, we saw Alicia leave Jason a confessional voicemail, which eerily reminded me of Will’s ill-fated voicemail to Alicia. We saw her stand by Peter as he resigns, effectively ending his political career and his marriage, and then run off stage after the shadow of Jason. Only it isn’t Jason, he’s nowhere to be found. It’s just her, alone in the hallway, and then she gets the vicious and deserved slap from Diane.
Alicia winces, whelps, soothes herself and recovers, moving resolutely forward. To what? Jason? We know he’s not the answer—a lasting relationship with him is as likely as living on Mars. To another political race that Eli is planning without her input, and that he’ll bully her into? Running after Jason is a sign that maybe she knows now that she has a right to go after what she wants, but I can’t shake the feeling that for her, it’s just too late.
In one episode during her State’s Attorney campaign, a high-profile potential donor asked Alicia what she wanted. Alicia, surprised by the impromptu meeting and a little buzzed, said: “I want to be happy,” looking a little incredulous at herself. After the brief meeting ended, Alicia collapsed into a chair. No, that wasn’t the right thing to say at the time. But it is an okay thing to want—no, it’s an important thing to want. And an important thing to go after. Too bad Alicia never really did.

Head Bitch in Charge: Why this Millennial Woman is Voting for Hillary

 

–By Tara Cavanaugh
Let me be clear: Hillary does not have a millennial woman problem. Hillary has a millennial problem.
Millennials want change, real change, in a system that’s disenfranchised us. Our whole lives we’ve been told we’re special snowflakes—the Participation Award is the icon of my generation—and that we can be anything we want to be, provided we got a good education. So all the special snowflakes grew up, went to college at a time when it was more expensive than ever, and graduated as the world economy crashed thanks to a bunch of crooked bankers gambling recklessly on bad mortgages. We are saddled with debt, wages are stuck, and a lot of us are still under or unemployed. We don’t trust the system, the system screwed us, and when it comes to having a choice in an elected official, we want someone who’s as outside the system as possible.
Enter: Bernie Sanders.
The “walking Che Guevarra t-shirt” (thank you for that one, Samantha Bee) looks GREAT. Earnest af. The messy hair, the ever-outraged gesticulations, the suit that is always too big on him and makes him look like an emphatic turtle. His record is steadfastly liberal, even when it wasn’t politically convenient for him. He supports free college, free universal healthcare, $15 minimum wage, and legal pot. If you’re a bitter, broke 20- or 30-something, all of this sounds fantastic.
Is he competent? I think so.
Is he admirable? Definitely.
Can he single-handedly change a completely corrupt political system, full of Congress members that are paid for by special interests and Republicans that have become booger-eating schoolyard bullies who are super successful at preventing national needs from being met? …Not sure about that one.
I still have some Barack Obama PTSD, ok? I saw him on Mizzou’s campus in 2008, and he was magic. I voted for him in 2008 and 2012 and I would vote for him again if I could. I like him. I think he’s competent and brilliant and true. But at the moment he’s got a bunch of lawmakers shitting on him and he can’t do a damn thing about it. And that’s been one of the biggest issues of his presidency: he can’t get some things done. He muscled through health care, which was amazing. But he has an incredible amount of stubbornness and inaction against him, and he has neither the connections nor the power nor the respect to make lawmakers simply do their jobs. The most recent example of this is their blatant refusal to hold hearings on his Supreme Court nomination before a nominee has even been announced. This is insanity.
And this is where I think about what I want in the next president: someone who is powerful.
I want someone who commands respect. Who has the connections, the power, who has played the game and who will grab Republicans by the balls and bring them to their knees. And I can think of a total bitch who can do it who happens to be running for president: Hillary Clinton.
Listen. I don’t like her. NO ONE likes her. She is not likable. She is a political machine. She comes off like a robot, shrill, programmable. If Berine is earnest af, Hill is uptight af. It’s all over her face like a big stain. It’s never going away.
It’s probably a result of spending her whole life in politics, muscling through and succeeding in a boy’s club, of being treated like shit because she’s a woman, and her husband’s affair that was a national disgrace. Wouldn’t you be a bitch too?
We have this problem, I think, where we want important people to be likable, approachable. We want our celebrities to be “just like us” and we want to have a beer with the president. Which is ridiculous. We ask—demand, need—that the president be competent and intelligent and powerful enough to lead the free world. That would make someone an extraordinary human being. That person doesn’t have time for a beer, ok? They’re busy keeping us safe and strategizing about the nuclear mess in the Middle East and stopping North Korea from bombing the globe to bits. I can kick back with a beer at the end of a long day; the president can not.
But we want a likable president. Likability is perhaps the American woman’s biggest handicap. And I think it’s Hillary’s handicap in this campaign.
We women all want to be liked. We worry incessantly about being nice. We’re supposed to be unthreatening and accommodating and above all, pretty. The worst thing of all is to be disliked—to be called (gasp) a bitch. And “bitch” is a label that’s dogged Hillary ever since she was First Lady. I’m willing to bet good money that her disastrous run as First Lady, in which she was criticized for being too involved in politics and not ladylike enough, was the impetus for Michelle Obama’s First Lady plans. Michelle is a crazy powerful, competent and commandeering bitch too, and her handlers have done an excellent job of making her look nice, pretty, purely feminine and completely non-threatening in the press.
Hillary is not likable. Hillary is a bitch. And I’m fine with that. Because I think it’s what will make her a great president.
I admit: I am concerned about her email scandal and her speeches to Wall Street. I really am. But I’m going to get a little Machiavellian here and say that even if she is truly corrupt, she’s just as corrupt as any other politician, and she’s going to be the one to actually get things done. And she’s on the side of women, make no mistake. She won’t let things get worse for us. As Republicans across the country are working their hardest to roll back women’s rights, we need a leader who’s always going to be on our side. And she is.
Bernie, even if his schtick is Mr. Earnestly Outraged, won’t be able to fix the deeply indelible, money-driven political system of power that we have. He won’t fix it and I’m very doubtful of his ability to get anything done within it. No matter all our adoration of outsiders and underdogs, we need someone who can work the system, who intimately knows the system and can calibrate it and tweak it and change it from the inside.
This is why I’m Team Hill. Now if she could just get an endorsement from Beyonce, she’d have this election in the bag.

Why it’s so hard to write a review about Drew Barrymore’s book ‘Wildflower’

Drew_barrymore_book_cover_wildflowerDrew Barrymore. Drew Barrymore! Who doesn’t love Drew Barrymore. Really. Whether it’s because of E.T. or Never Been Kissed or Charlie’s Angels or her rom-coms with Adam Sandler. Drew. We love you. She’s adorable and twee like Zoey Deschanel except you can love her wholeheartedly and not even be remotely annoyed with yourself. Drew. SIGH. We heart you.
So why did you have to write a damn book.
Listen. I mean. It’s not OFFENSIVE. It’s just, you know, I spent a few years tutoring writing students in college and it kind of sort of really totally gives me a strong sense of freshman comp first drafts. As I was reading it, I found myself mentally drifting to my favorite movies of hers in order to recalibrate my respect. Like Ever After. She plays a soulful sword-fighting Cinderella opposite a fabulously cruel Anjelica Huston and I’d just rather think about that.
She said in the book—and on a stop at her book tour, which I was lucky to get a ticket to here in Ann Arbor the day after it came out—that Ever After was the point where she came down from her crazy years and decided to be an actress and a lady and no longer a wild child who would do things like flash her nipples at David Letterman on live TV. She said that she liked the idea of a strong heroine saving herself. And that inspired her. But it turns out—cue Forrest Gump here— that’s all she has to say about that.
She mentions that she was inspired to jump off a cruise ship in Greece, and destroy a Jeep by ramming it through a gated parking lot, and a few instances of running naked through fields but you know, she was just wild and crazy Drew! And that’s all she has to say about that.
The DRUGS, Drew! What about the drugs and the booze and the raucous parties with glamorous people? Come ON. At one point in Ann Arbor she said, a little stiffly, that it’s possible to be intimate without being scandalous. And while I do appreciate you are a Lady now and all, if you write a book and you completely gloss over the good stuff that we’ve all been wondering about then we’re going to feel a little cheated. Now maybe if you don’t remember all of the deets, that’s fine, just be honest about it.
Perhaps she feels that she’s done that already, in the supposed tell-all book Little Girl Lost, published in 1991 when she was 16 and definitely not yet out of her wild phase. It was written with the help of another writer, and maybe it’s more angsty or real. Or maybe it was  a PR ploy to help her get back into acting.
Whatever. I really like Drew. As much as she likes exclamation marks, which is a lot. A lot!!!!
I think the problem is that we’ve seen the immaculately gorgeous Drew ugly-cry and be vulnerable in movies, and we liked that rawness, that realness, and it was always a way to get to the depth of the character and make you like her even more. And I guess that I assumed there would be some of that realness in the book. But there’s not. Well if there is some emotional intimacy, it’s in the form of a story about flying to India to spread the ashes of her dog, and it makes you sigh: O-kay, GWENYTH.
So. Drew is a producer and director and Golden-Globe-winning actress and CEO and uniquely beautiful and kind and charismatic and I suppose she doesn’t owe any of us a damn thing. It’s just I wanted a peek behind that pretty veneer, to understand the intricacies,the self-development, the moments that made this accomplished person the lovely woman she is today despite a total lack of parental guidance or structure to her life. There are moments of imperfection—such as serving her fiancé raw pancakes that he promptly threw up—but they’re light. And she wanted the book to be light, she said. Well, goal achieved.
I mean, she still gets my applause. All the applause. Always. Because of course. It’s Drew!
–By Tara Cavanaugh

Bump it up

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By Michelle LeGault

There once was a time when pregnant women hid their baby bumps under tents masquerading as shirts. This was an era when men and women were never shown in the same bed on TV and instead they slept in identical twin beds separated by a nightstand. Think “I Love Lucy.”

Were we supposed to think that sex never happened? Or that babies really DID come delivered by storks? Maybe Lucy wasn’t really pregnant under that giant shirt. After all, she did eat a lot of chocolate when she briefly worked for a candy factory. Maybe she just gained a few pounds…. all in her abdomen.

Gone now are the days of Lucy. This is a new time. Couples today are shown sharing a bed on TV and baby bumps are hip. As a twenty-something who has just given birth to her first baby (yeah buddy!) I can tell you that it is now the cool thing to show off your baby belly. The tricky part is finding stores that sell clothes that a) fit the bump and b) look good stretched over the bump and c) feel comfortable. Here is what I found in my 9ish months of pregnancy:

1. Maternity pants are a good investment and Gap maternity pants are the best. I like Gap pants because they come in actual pant sizes. A lot of maternity pants (apart from being ugly) come in ambiguous sizes like small, medium or large, so unhelpful. The only problem I found with Gap maternity clothes was that most of them are only available online. However, if you like to thrift you can easily find this brand at consignment shops.

2. When it comes to shoes the flatter the better, I say. My baby was just over 7 pounds when she was born, but my total weight gain was 25 pounds (which is normal). That is a lot of extra weight to carry all in your abs and your feet will notice. This is like carrying around two 12.5 pound bowling balls all day. Do yourself a favor and invest in comfy shoes.

3. It doesn’t have to be a maternity shirt for you to wear it while pregnant. Stores like H&M and Express are good places for finding long, fitted tops that look cute over a baby bump. I tried to pick things in solid colors so I could coordinate with other pieces in my wardrobe.

4. Ruching: it looks better on you than on the hanger. You know how some things look really ugly on a hanger, and then when you put them on they look amazing? That’s how it goes for maternity tops with ruching. They are made to fit perfectly over your bump and stay in place so that you don’t accidentally bare your midriff when you don’t want to. Old Navy and Target both carry tops in this style that are very business casual.

5. In a pinch, you can use a cinch – a belt that is. Another way to draw attention to your bump is to wear a cute chunky belt around your shirt at empire-waist-height.

Yeah, I’m Skinny and Yeah, I Have Feelings, OK?

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By Lindsay Patton-Carson

This past summer, I got too thin.

I suffer from chronic migraines that can be as little as tense neck and head pain for one day or as big as throwing up an entire day or suffering from pounding pain for a week straight. It wasn’t always like this. I used to suffer from migraines sporadically. Maybe one every couple of months. Over the past year, I have been in some sort of pain weekly, many times daily.

It got to the point where it interfered with the things I love. Just a couple months after completing my first marathon, I could not run without triggering a headache. My work, which is a great source of pride  and fulfillment for me, became, well, work.

Bad Meds

For months, I took on the role of lab rat. I was desperate to try anything to get rid of my pain. In May, after being put on a couple different prescriptions, I saw a neurologist about the pain, despite seeing two different doctors to try to help me. In my mind I thought, ‘Neurologists are like migraine experts. This will be a good thing.’

This doctor put me on Topamax, a prescription I’ve heard good things about from friends and family members that also suffer from migraines. I thought if it’s worked so well for them, it might work for me.

One of the side effects for Topamax is weight loss. Since I was already at 114 pounds, I figured I couldn’t lose that much anyway, so I went for it. I didn’t understand that this drug takes away a person’s appetite and in the beginning, leaves them nauseous daily.

Every day, I had the feeling that I had to throw up, but nothing ever came up. I accumulated ginger ale around my desk at work because I needed to calm my stomach somehow. I told myself to just stick it out, that it would get better. That this is a good drug and it would help me.

After a while, I started to notice that I was getting smaller. I looked on the scale and I was 111 pounds. OK, nothing to worry about. I’ve been this size before.

A couple weeks later, it was 110. OK, I just need to try to eat more.

Then, 109.

When it got to 108, I knew I had to do something. I stopped working out completely because I was afraid to lose more weight. The last time I saw those numbers on the scale, I was 16 years old and not yet fully developed.

I was starting to get worried that people would notice. And they did. Some approached me out of concern, thinking I might be harming myself, it was that noticeable. If people were mentioning things to me and voicing concern, I could only imagine what was being said behind my back. In order to squash any potential rumors, I decided I’d be upfront about my struggle, letting people know that I’m working toward getting better.

Skinny Girl Problems

I’ve always felt uncomfortable about saying “I am skinny.” It’s the truth, it is what I am, but even though I know I’m small, I feel guilty around people who are bigger than me; like I am the one perpetuating the size-two culture we live in.

I feel bad because I have never really struggled with my weight. At 5’4″, I’ve fluctuated between 113 and 120 pounds for a good part of my adult life. I have never dieted. I have never said no to food because I was worried about calories. I know it’s a luxury not many people have.

But since I am the size-two culture, I’ve never been able to completely understand how messed up body image is in this country. I do know the culture is messed up, but since I’m right in the middle of the ‘problem,’ per se, I can’t fully understand how someone outside of that tiny bubble might feel.

And because of this, there is some sort of war against thin women. While other women get to embrace their curves, those that are my size must hold responsibility for what Hollywood and the media set as their standards. And once I started struggling with being too thin, I saw exactly how screwed up our culture can be.

I can give you some of my fat

I don’t expect people to understand what it’s like to be too thin. It’s not something that happens in our day-to-day lives. People struggle to lose weight. They don’t struggle to gain weight. So when I thought I was taking control with telling people about my struggle, it turned out that I just gave them a passive aggressive route as a way of responding.

“Wow. Must be nice to have that problem.”

“I wish I had that problem.”

“Which medication are you on? Maybe I should get my hands on that!”

And the most annoying, “I can give you some of my fat.”

Not only is that statement insensitive to what I’m going through, it is downright impossible. You cannot just give me your fat.

So in doing what I thought would be opening up a healthy conversation and understanding, it just turned out to be more stress on myself. Wow. Who am I to complain about this ‘problem?’ I should be happy I can no longer fit into my size-two pants, that my hard-earned muscles have shrunk, that I just feel weak all the time. I am the size of Kate Bosworth! I should be happy! I should shut up with my complaints because there are overweight people in this world.

And I get it, overweight people do get looks. They get nasty comments. To be concise, they get treated like shit. And trust me, I am not the problem. I want people to feel good, to be healthy, to be confident in their bodies, regardless of size. At 108 pounds, I felt weak, I felt unhealthy, I felt incapable. The healthiest I ever felt, in fact, was a year ago when I was 10 pounds heavier. I was strong, I was capable and I was confident. I was proud of my body and what it could do and I also liked the way I looked.

Getting better

As for me today, I’m getting better. I went off my medication and switched over to one that fits my needs. I’m back up to 115 pounds, my healthy and happy weight, and I’m focusing on regaining my strength, falling back in love with running and becoming an overall healthier me. Most importantly, my migraines are fewer because I’ve learned to listen to my body better.

So I ask you, before you judge someone for their size, before you think, ‘Just eat less’ or ‘Just eat more,’ it might not be as easy as that for them. In fact, they could be struggling with something more.

Whisk your summer wear into fall

A summer dress + navy tights, light belt, bright purse, metallic flats. A workday fall transition win!

A summer dress + navy tights, light belt, bright purse, metallic flats. A workday fall transition win!

By Tara Cavanaugh

It’s fall, y’all! Well not technically. It’s September, that transition month where it’s slowly getting cooler but the sun is still blazing away. So what to wear?

Black + brights

Take your favorite summer tanks — those bright, wild prints — and pair them with black jeans or a black skirt.

Bright tights!

Bare legs still get a pass for now (so long as you have boots or a closed-toe shoe). And black tights are going to look kinda vampy this early in fall. So go for some colors! Saw the gal above rocking navy tights and a plum dress with metallic flats.

Dresses + boots

Pair your beloved, flowy, comfy summer dresses with knee-high boots or ankle-high booties.

Black + white

The foolproof combo for early fall and spring, black and white is always classy. While white pants or white shoes might be a bit much in September, try a white cardi (over your dress + boots outfit or over a bright summer tank and dark jeans). Or keep wearing those beloved white/light accessories for a while to offset the new darker, richer colors in your wardrobe.

Metallics

Gold shoes. Rose gold jewelry. Silver skinny belts. In summer they looked best at night; now they add a romantic touch during the day.

Bare ankles

Now is the easiest time of all to wear ankle-skimming pants and jeans with heels or flats.

My Love Letter to Tina and Amy

By Lindsay Ray

Taylor Swift may not have had a lot of love for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler recently, but that’s OK, I have more than enough. It’s easy to sum up why I adore these two so very much: they’re smart, they’re funny, and they support other women.

The first two parts of my list go hand-in-hand. They write funny jokes and they have the hutzpah to pull them off. I’m not saying all the jokes are a win, but they’re going to make you laugh, they’re not mean-spirited, and sometimes they’re going to make you think. If you don’t believe me (and if you do but just need an extra dose of Tina ‘n Amy), just watch the above. Continue reading

My Feminist Hero: Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn

By Emma Kat Richardson

My feminist hero isn’t really a hero. At least not in casual popular estimation. Many would likely call her a villain; “adultress,” “slut,” and “bitch” are equally oft-used labels. Nor is she feminist, simply by virtue of having missed the first wave by more than 300 years. But she has, in time, come to stand as a figurehead of not only historical importance, but the more modern concept of feminine empowerment as well. Continue reading