Rejoicing at Repeal and In Repose

Slainte, Dames (Inter)Nationals!

Today we are dancing-- maybe a LITTLE dirtily-- about the repeal of Ireland’s 8th amendment, which bans abortion in all cases save ones where the mother’s health is at risk if the pregnancy continues, including instances of rape and incest. Repeal is projected to win in a landslide-- 68% in favor v. 32% against, according to The Irish Times, which added that “Among the youngest voters, support for the change was overwhelming – the poll finds that 87 per cent of those aged between 18-24 voted for repeal” while also noting in another piece that "this referendum does not represent an uprising of the young against an old Ireland; it is a fundamental rejection by the entire country of what has gone before; the final casting off of old mores."

Abortion rights have been weighing heavily on our mind, particularly since our livetweet of Dirty Dancing earlier this month, a movie which provides such an effective and affecting glimpse of what women’s lives were like in America before Roe v. Wade. We Your Dames talked it over that night, after feeling our blood boil over Penny’s fictional plight, and since we held the livetweet just after Iowa passed a heinously restrictive abortion law, we decided to honor all of you by giving the Midwest Access Coalition, a practical abortion fund helps people traveling to, from, and within the Midwest access a safe, legal abortion, $1 per tweet you sent in our fun joint viewing session. That came to $463, and we included a note crediting you with our donation. Thank you all for contributing to abortion access for our Midwestern siblings!

And, in case you missed the livetweet, we grabbed a few Dirty Dancing-adjacent links shared during it that might be a mélange of fun & edifying for you to check out:

  • Most important among these is the fic “A Real Grown-Up Name,” just 2,000 words long, that imagines Baby and Johnny’s immediate future together, and how the things Baby learned that summer would have impacted her long-term. It is perfect. It is the sequel this iconic film deserves.

  • As for the sequel it did NOT deserve, Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights, a film which SENSELESSLY SQUANDERS the acting talents of not only Romola Garai BUT ALSO Diego Luna, did you know that Peter Sagal, famous for hosting NPR’s flagship weekly news quiz Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me, wrote the play which eventually became the aforementioned film? Well he DID and the story of just how that happened is (1) wyld and (2) featured in this classic This American Life episode, Origin Story.

  • If you’re wondering just how Dirty Dancing itself came to exist, may we recommend this podcast interview with the film’s producer, Linda Gottlieb?

  • And finally, let’s take a minute to celebrate the sheer perfection of the movie’s soundtrack with both (1) this Spotify playlist featuring all the songs played therein, in the proper order and (2) this quick New Yorker article about a particularly captivating performance of one of the classic songs thus featured, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”

Dame Margaret’s Friday Musings

The American Judiciary to Jane Austen, apparently.

  • Electric Lit published two pieces in recent weeks about places where books by women do, and do not appear, both somewhat surprisingly. First up, there’s this great piece about how often judges cite-- or at least paraphrase-- Jane Austen in their legal decisions, which includes excerpts from rulings such as “it is a truth universally acknowledged that she who comes into equity must come with clean hands.” Then, in the space where one would expect to find female writers but instead finds a puzzling absence, one woman set out to discover why straight men so rarely list books by women in their online dating profiles. As someone who has asked this question to the empty air often and with a growing sense of murderous exasperation, it was thrilling to see it addressed directly, even if the answers were… exactly as ill-considered as you would expect.

  • Something not remotely ill-considered? The positions taken by the profoundly endearing men featured in this installment of Slate’s couples counselling series, Our One Fight: Victor, who wants to fill their apartment with obscure art and religious paraphernalia, and Baird, who can deal with all of that with grace, just not ALSO a giant (hideous) clay chicken planter. It is WEIRD to come out of a piece wherein people detail the thing they bicker about with their spouse wishing to be best friends with both of them, but I dare you to read this and emerge with any other response. Best of all: if you tweet as much, there’s a very good chance that Baird himself will come and find you and befriend you, making all your dreams come true.

  • Here at Dames HQ, a problematic addiction to New York’s Magazine’s Strategist vertical has bloomed this spring. Like its partner in judiciously considered product recommendations, The Wirecutter, the Strategist puts forth cases for certain items that have within them the ring of positive truth, but unlike the Wirecutter, it traffics heavily in FEMININE FRIPPERIES and chases trends, meaning that We Your Dames spend far more time browsing it than we should. As a result, THIS Dame is longing for (1) an impractical-- but on trend and sneakily affordable!!-- bamboo bag, which she would use basically never and (2) a highly practical and sneakily fashionable customized L.L. Bean tote, which she would only use ALL THE TIME. Expect to see many instagrams of her with the latter, especially come music festival season in July.

  • Given that I recently shared a piece praising the scientific efficacy of sheet masks, I feel compelled to also share reigning cosmetic cop Paula Begoun’s scathing dismissal of them, particularly as it comes in the midst of an interview on her very interesting, no-bullshit approach to beauty in general. As she does not say sheet masks are damaging, I’m going to continue using them as often as I like, as I enjoy a little frivolity in my self-care and they provide it. But I am never mad to hear plain facts, delivered with vigor, and she certainly always delivers on that.

  • Have you ever found yourself wondering what, exactly, the difference between a hat and a fascinator is? Well, wonder no more: Slate spoke to a British milliner and got an answer, as well as a whole host of other interesting information about how best to wear a hat.

  • And finally! How about an in-depth piece with the Foley technicians who create the sounds of on-screen sex and their absolutely fascinating, weird processes!

Dame Sophie’s Summer Kick-Off!

Today is one of those days where even though the pollen count makes me want to pluck out my own eyeballs and dunk them in a vat of ice water, it’s so gorgeous outside that I can’t bear to stay in. I mean! Look at this!
You flower, you feast (aaaaaachooo!)

Anyway. Pool season -- my very favorite season -- opens this weekend and although it’s going to be muggy & stormy & rainy by turns for most of the weekend, I don’t care. I’m putting myself -- in my most glamorous swimsuit, slathered in various high-SPF sunscreens, crowned by an obnoxiously floppy hat -- in a lounge chair at least two out of three days, so help me god.

If you’re similarly inclined to lounge, wherever your weekend may take you, let these stories, under two broad thematic umbrellas (see what I did there?), keep you company.

Royal Wedding Follow-Up!

My new religion: the ginger re-adjustment of her veil by her sweet ginger man

Ok, well, first of all, I watched & live-tweeted these glamorous, joyous nuptials from my brother-in-law’s barcalounger and I may be a changed woman. I now both passionately want a barcalounger of my own and should absolutely never be given daily access to one. My partners in royal wedding bananas-ness were my sister Sarah & daughter Nell, and we were pretty much yelling & crying throughout, starting with catcalling Their Royal Highnesses Princes William & Harry (their suits fit really well, friends), howling with delight the second we recognized “Stand By Me”, getting quite close to catching the spirit during Reverend Curry’s homily (if you haven’t had the pleasure, please do read the text or watch his impassioned delivery), and dabbing our eyes when Prince Charles extended his hand gingerly towards mother of the bride Doria Ragland. What a wonderful morning.

For the podcast faithful among you, Our beloved Kamille & Christina included a perfect segment on the wedding on this week’s episode of The Unfriendly Black Hotties and you simply cannot miss this newsletter’s own Dame Margaret, who joined Linda Holmes & Barrie Hardymon for a special royal wedding-themed episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour.

Fashion-wise, I’m so excited about how Meghan Markle is single-handedly bringing back my favorite neckline, the bateau, and just loved the whole Audrey Hepburn-ness of her dress overall. As Dame Margaret pointed out, it’s basically a full-length version of the iconic dress in Funny Face, and I’m 100% here for it.

Did you see how the exquisitely tailored matte austerity of Harry & William’s uniforms rhymed with the luxurious simplicity of Meghan’s gown? I loved that so much. It reveled in the romance of the day, while honoring that day as the joint life choice of two people in love, well into their adulthood. As Robin Givhan remarked in her lovely reflection in The Washington Post, “Its beauty was in its architectural lines and its confident restraint. It was a romantic dress, but one that suggested a clear-eyed understanding that a real-life romance is not the stuff of fairy tales. The dress was a backdrop; it was in service to the woman.” Amen to that.

If you were wondering what the gown’s sleek, heavyweight fabric was, it’s a silk cady, which is hard to find in your typical Jo-Ann Fabric stores, but this handy chart gives you home sewists some possible substitutions if you need one. The tidbit about the fabric of Meghan’s gown came to me via beloved DamesPal Lizzie Skurnicks essay connecting her interracial family to the young Sussexes. Their row to hoe, difficult though it’s been in some ways thanks to the UK’s vicious tabloid culture and his family’s deep-rooted, casual racism, is easier than Blanche & Eugene Skurnick’s was in 1966. The detail I can’t stop thinking about is one I hadn’t heard at all until Lizzie mentioned it: Prince Charles selected much of the liturgical music for the service. (One of the hymns was “Guide Me, O Thy Great Redeemer”, featured at Princess Diana’s funeral, which William & Kate included in their wedding, sob!) It’s such a lovely way to include the father of the groom, and a deeply significant way to start their relationship with him as a family of their own. Here’s hoping Meghan is as beloved of the Windsors as Blanche has been of the Skurnicks.

In The New Yorker, Doreen St. Felix’s analysis of the fashion, facial expressions, and demeanor of Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, is, as ever, on point, and highlights the dissonances of the day: “This was a royal marriage set against the backdrop of the government threatening to deport Britons of the Windrush generation. Was that melancholy in Ragland’s eyes? A worry about whether her daughter would be truly accepted in the family, and what she may have to do to usher in that acceptance?” American viewers of Call The Midwife will know the Windrush generation best as embodied by the warm and exceedingly capable midwife Lucille Anderson, who emigrated to England from Jamaica for her training and career. People from all over the West Indies flocked to the UK in the 1950s & 1960s at the invitation of the British government, and now that a new immigration law is obligating them to prove continuous residence in the UK since 1973, many of them are at risk of deportation.

Some Thoughts On Parenting/Representations of Same

Dear classic rock stations of America, I say this with love: your playlists are just way too white and male, and I’m pretty sure you know it. Please hire me and some of my friends on a contractual basis to freshen up & broaden your heavy rotation sets. I promise to let you continue to spin the Eagles & the Beatles, while also making room for music I also solemnly promise your dad (and dad-type listeners) will love. Call me, we’ll talk!

Let’s start with this piece about Dad Rock and the need to make room in the canon for all different types of dads & the music they like. Right off the bat, it made me think about one of my all-time favorite bands I associate heavily with my own darling Dad, Los Lobos. For decades now, Los Lobos (who I believe are mostly a band of dads, themselves!) have been turning in one solid album after another of fun, melancholy, romantic rock influenced by their Chicano roots in East Los Angeles. I love hearing them explore and play with traditional songs on their early LP Just Another Band From East LA, and then follow it with their immortal classic, How Will The Wolf Survive? I note with a combination of puzzlement & pleasure that they released an album of Disney covers a few years ago. Recording an album of songs written for children to sing along with the adults in their lives (a pointed way to wrap up their contractual obligations to their Disney-owned record label) may be Peak Dad Rock.

Speaking of both rock and Peak Dad, have you seen Dave Grohl and his daughter Violet covering Adele’s “When We Were Young”? If not, please upgrade your day approximately 50% by enjoying both Violet’s excellent pipes (she is 13 years old!) and Dave’s thousand-watt smile of dadly pride.

It seems to be parenting memoir season in publishing. My beloved Michael Chabonbon was on Fresh Air this week to promote and reflect on Pops, his book of essays about his life as a son and father. If you loved his GQ piece about taking his son Abe to Paris Fashion Week or the one about his dad in the New Yorker, you’re already halfway sold on this book, I’m sure.

As ever, I want to make sure women have the last word. Maybe I should have put this essay first, because I want absolutely everyone to read it, but I’m also hoping that those of you scrolling & skimming will let your eyes alight at last on Sarah Blackwell’s moving, galvanizing analysis of some recent books about motherhood. It seems to me that today of all days -- when Ireland has overwhelmingly voted to give people with uteruses more bodily autonomy and choices than the embryos that might live inside them, and when every American citizen should be ashamed, furious, and screaming for criminal charges against the ICE agents who cannot account for nearly 1500 immigrant children they’ve taken into custody -- today is a good day to confront the notion that “when we frame motherhood as a discrete subject, we underline the extent to which people are allowed to opt out of knowing or caring about it.”   

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