Ms. Magazine
MS.CELLANEOUS
-What?
-Just the Facts
-Word: Bi
-Women to Watch
Diary of a Slam Poet
National Poetry Slam champion and outspoken feminist shares a year of her life on the road. By Alix Olson
AD SAVVY
In these two articles, we explore some of the ways ads affect us.

Hooked on Advertising
Cultural critic Jean Kilbourne takes on ads offers new insight into the not-so-obvious messages lurking behind the luster. By Clea Simon

Consuming Passions
Today's advertising execs and their big- business clients are betting that consumers will buy products made by companies that support social causes. Are the ads just talk, or is there substance behind the slogans? By Dan Bischoff

Book Reviews
On the Ms. bookshelf
Saturday's Child by Robin Morgan
The Crimson Edge: Older Women Writing (Volume Two) by Sondra Zeidenstein
Gun Women by Mary Zeiss Stange and Carol K. Oyster

Her Way by Paula Kamen
Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks
Black, White and Jewish by Rebecca Walker
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

EDITOR'S PAGE
by Marcia Ann Gillespie

YOUR HEALTH:
-The Latest on Tamoxifen
-Healthnotes

NEWS:
-In Poland, Feminism Is the News
-The Right's Stealth Tactics
-Gloria Steinem's Wedding Day
- Newsmaker: Aloisea Inyumba
- What Will Mexico's New Government Mean for Women?
- Opinion: Blaming the Messenger
- Clippings

UPPITY WOMEN:
Elouise Cobell Takes on the Feds

FIRST PERSON:
Aunt Jemima in the Mirror

TECHNO.FEM:
What's a Hacktivist?

SHE SAYS:
The Body Shop's Anita Roddick

ARTS:
Shirin Neshat Sees Beyond the Veil

COLUMNS
by Daisy Hernandez, Patricia Smith, and Gloria Steinem

NO COMMENT

SEX AND POWER:
Is the feminist movement stuck in mid-revolution? According to this well-known lawyer and activist the answer is yes. Now it's time to move on and harness our power.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Have you noticed how often when women gather we talk about how full our plates have become—too many things going on in our lives, too distracted, way too tired? Are we bragging, complaining, or getting ready to revolt? We women are expert multitaskers, but our expertise works both for and against us. We juggle well because we've had to keep so many balls in the air, because we've been trained to do so and to view our overloaded plates with pride. Because that's what women are supposed to do: "Men work from sun to sun, but women's work is never done." Most of us grew up hearing that phrase or something similar and internalizing the message. As if being harried was a state of grace for women. And besides, women's work-most of it unwaged--is not only undervalued and taken for granted by society, but by us, as well.

So here we are, frantically struggling to keep more and more balls in the air. Society assumes that we will be the primary caretakers and caregivers when it comes to our children, our aging parents and relatives, our partners. And society is organized on the assumption that we are available to take up the slack. The education system functions as if women were always in the home, and so the school day ends at 3 p.m., schools shut down all summer, and close for holidays, in total disregard of the realities of our lives. Child care remains a mess because it is assumed that women who work outside the home are being selfish and should be penalized rather than supported. So instead of a system of universal, affordable, quality care, it's catch as catch can. The situation is equally dire when it comes to elder care. And time and time again it's women who are expected to fill the breach.

Meanwhile in the waged workplace, despite the move to create more family-friendly environments, the simple truth is that we are not working smarter. And I am not even sure that we know what "working smarter" means. Does smarter mean making work the center of our universe? Working longer hours? Getting more pay ? Having less time for ourselves and for others? Is it smart to continue to allow our lives to be ordered in keeping with the idea that women's work is never done?

Years ago, I realized that I hated it when someone called me "a strong black woman," because it seemed to imply that my worth was based on my ability to bear all burdens. And if I didn't--did that make me a weak black woman? But I still find myself going along with the assumption that, like Sisyphus, I have to roll the stone up the hill. That being a multitasking diva is a good thing. That if I say, "can't," "won't," "I pass," "NO," I'm failing to be responsible. And yes, I admit, it's also about ego gone awry-"look what I can do, aren't I terrific." But I worry that what I don't do will simply fall on another woman's shoulders or that it will distance me from my sisters. Maybe we are all dying to say "enough already," but each of us is reluctant to be the first to step off the treadmill for fear that we will lose face and that the sky will fall.

Yes, it's important to make a world where women can do what men can do, but it's more important to make a world where we question and challenge all the assumptions about what all people do-including our understanding of ourselves as women-and the way in which society is ordered based on those assumptions. What if we refused to carry the load, would the sky really fall? Are we complaining, bragging, or ready to revolt?