-The Letters response to Roger Cohen's latest can be summed up, respectively, as: reasonable, reasonable, pro-Israel and not going to convince the unconvinced, and huh? Re: the last one, where exactly did Roger Cohen encourage "conflation of criticism of Israel, or Zionism, with anti-Semitism"? I thought the thing with the academic boycotts was that even many people far from rah-rah Israel find that a poor approach. People like... Roger Cohen!
-Controversy! A self-proclaimed "half hippie" is also a cosmetic-surgery enthusiast. I'm not even an ounce hippie, but I'm not buying this:
Surgery and cosmetic procedures are such an individual decision, and I would never judge anybody for doing anything. I mean I grew up with a Jewish mother who was always, ‘Look at me now, should I do it?!’ And I thought, ‘Blech, I’ll never do anything.’ You hear so many young people saying, ‘No way, never,’ about something, and I’m like, ‘Honey, just wait.’Not sure what her mother's Jewishness matters - isn't aging something women of all backgrounds, if especially white women, fuss about? I thought the stereotype with Jewish mothers was that they encourage you to eat?
But in terms of just-you-wait, it's the kind of thing that sounds reasonable - YPIS, oh young people with firm and line-free skin - but is not. It's quite possible to know your values (and squeamishness) well enough that you know you would never sign up for unnecessary and expensive (as in, could go to charity, yes, but could also cover a fab vacation) medical procedures in the name of vanity. Aside from supermodels, most of us late-20-somethings (and indeed most nubile 15-year-olds) already have features a cosmetic surgeon would be happy to address. If you're already not going in for whichever applies in your case (breast implants, liposuction, nose job, or indeed Botox - because past college, there's often a line or two already), you kind of do have a sense of how you'll react when you're 45 and look it. And there's the fact that, while a nose job can definitively change the shape of a nose, anti-aging procedures only succeed in making a woman of a certain age look like a woman of that very same age with disposable income.
-The women of Jezebel, however, can't be accused of not knowing their values. The general consensus among the commenters is that one should only accept an engagement ring from a man who's done extensive research on the ethics of each part of said ring, who's also taken into account his girlfriend's preferred (and preferably obscure) stone, who has taken the time to comb through Etsy and drive to a bunch of estate sales, only to come up with the perfect ring that conveniently enough cost only $10. Extra points, however, go to the fiancés who go out to a shed and weld a modest yet delightful little number.
I suppose it's not so insane, if there really are otherwise sensible women demanding massive rocks or else, to try to change that norm by addressing women rather than men. But I can't quite figure out the logic behind this scenario, in which women expect to be proposed to, with a ring their (male) fiancés have paid for, yet to have micromanaged the ring purchase at a level well above and beyond that of anything they'd buy for themselves. I'm also amazed at how coordinated families and fiancés are when it comes to heirlooms - I can't be the only one who learned of the existence of an heirloom after already having a ring. (I am, however, also wearing my late grandmother's ultra-shiny wedding band, which - ah, living next to Wall Street - cost almost as much as a new ring to resize.) With purchases generally, I do wish more would make the point that if you care about the ethics of your shopping choices, you're better off buying less than shopping like crazy but turning each purchase into a where-did-it-come-from research project.
-OK, so name-change, though a decision I'm happy with for myself, is indeed a massive bureaucratic hassle. Everything on those checklists not related to driving I've been dealing with the past couple weeks. In the process, I was reminded that the university is not sure if a grad student on fellowship is a student or an employee - whichever one I told any of the dozen or so folks I've dealt with in the quest to make the name they have match up with the one Social Security does, the other was inevitably correct. Only at the end of this adventure did I speak with someone who gave me the winning answer: you have to just assume you're both, and do everything separately as a student and an employee. Made sense in retrospect, but I'd been dazzled by the idea - supported by the claims of two different employees (student workers?) I dealt with - that changing my name in one office would automatically, if I was patient, change it in the whole system.
This experience led me to wonder what, precisely, is meant when women say they're going to continue to use their last names professionally. If you've changed your name at Social Security, presumably you have with HR as well. Isn't it confusing if your boss/clients/whatever know you by a name that's not the one on your paychecks? This question is more than theoretical, because I'm keeping maiden-as-middle for the wild off-chance that I at some point publish a paper (sent a draft to a prof just today, so anything's possible), and for my Facebook/Google identity, but did not think it necessary to go the extra bureaucratic mile required to make that official.