Joining Jezebel

I’m so pleased to announce that next month, I’ll be joining Jezebel as a weekly contributing writer. Of course, my regular columns at Good Men Project and Healthy is the New Skinny will continue to appear.

I’m thrilled about joining Gawker Media and Jezebel, and reaching a particularly intelligent, savvy — and occasionally ruthless — commentariat.

My column is tentatively set to appear on Thursdays. My first piece is scheduled for October 6.

I’ve written a few things for Jezebel before:

Spring is No Excuse for Sexual Harassment.
A Dating Paradigm Shift For Women In Their 30s
Why the Ladies Love Ryan Gosling
How the Good Guys are Hard to Find Narrative Hurts Women
How the Skinny Bitch Discourse Isolates Women

And my most-read piece to date:

The Problem with Being Sexy But Not Sexual

A niche or a ghetto? On Women Only Spaces in Publishing

This summer, the Huffington Post added a “Women’s” section.  This caused a fair amount of consternation; in the digital era, does it make sense to still do gender-based niche publishing like this?

Nicole Rodgers of Role/Reboot and I recently shared some thoughts on the topic; our conversation appears both at that site and at the Good Men Project today.  Excerpt:

NICOLE: It’s interesting that you say that men do read women’s magazines, sites, etc. My boyfriend tells me he had a stealthy male roommate in college who worked in entertainment and used to take home stacks of women’s magazines because he wanted insight into what women were thinking. I guess I tend to assume those men are aberrations, but maybe reading or watching content marketed to women is just one of those things men don’t talk about out of fear of being emasculated?  So assuming that’s true, then here’s a thought experiment for you: what is a “women’s issue”?

HUGO: The intent is to refer to a problem or a concept that disproportionately impacts one sex. Reproductive justice matters to everyone, but since only women get pregnant, women have more “skin in the game” as it were. But the fact that women are biologically more invested in issues around pregnancy and childbirth and contraception doesn’t mean that men aren’t interested and shouldn’t be concerned. Like women’s history month (of which I’ve never been a fan), I think this tactic of creating a separate space for talking about women’s issues can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it allows people to start conversations that often don’t happen elsewhere; on the other, it allows some very important issues to be marginalized by the assumption that they only appeal to a select group.

Yes, No, and Hmmm revisited

I’ve been fortunate to have two pieces up in the Guardian and two at Jezebel within the past fortnight. (Here, here, here, here.) It’s been wonderful to read the comments and engage with a much-larger audience than I get on this blog. (Though thanks to the links coming back from those two publications, I had a couple of instances recently where I hit 10,000 unique visitors within a 24-hour period, a much-welcomed milestone.)

Reading the comments at Jezebel and the Guardian is an excellent reminder of the difficulty of writing for a broad audience. There are the flattering notes from those who think you’ve nailed it perfectly — and there are just about an equal number of harsh criticisms from those who think you’ve completely missed the point. The most interesting responses, at least from my perspective, are those that take the conversation deeper, using the original article as a trailhead into a more thoughtful discussion.

I’ve often passed along to my students (and occasionally mentioned to my readers) the tool that was given to me by a wonderful Episcopal priest, Scott Richardson. Scott officiated at my third wedding, and is now dean of the Cathedral of St. Paul in San Diego. Scott was fond of suggesting that we should respond to a sermon — or an article — with a “Yes”, with a “No”, and with an “Hmmm.” If we’re thinking carefully, he noted, we’ll very rarely agree with absolutely everything that we’re told by a parent, a professor, or a pastor. At the same time, except in a few very unfortunate instances, there will surely be something we acknowledge as accurate and insightful in a lecture, a homily, or a post. And then there will be those things we read or hear that leave us stirred up, uncertain, not ready yet to say “that’s spot on” or “that’s totally off-base.” These are the “hmmms”, and they tend to be much more useful in provoking reflection, discussion, and change than the simple “yes” or “no” responses. Continue reading


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m working on a book this summer. It’s a collaboration, and the due date for the manuscript is the end of August, right before I head back to school. I will be able to say more about the book at a later time, but it will be published by HarperCollins less than a year from now, in the late spring or early summer of 2011.

As a result, my time in front of the computer over the next six weeks is going to be devoted to the single task of finishing this book. Blogging will resume August 30, but no new posts, and no reprints either, until then. Please visit my archives (the category links on the right-hand side may be helpful), and check out some of my links.

Thanks so much for your readership, and have a wonderful remainder of the summer.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged

Transition a-comin’

There’s a big transition coming up for me with this blog. I have no intention of ceasing blogging, but I do realize that I need to more effectively husband my time. Though most of my posts, even the longest ones, are written in minutes rather than hours, in my new life as a father those minutes are more at a premium than ever. I’ll be on another hiatus this week — spring break — though I will be posting reprints of old posts (2004-2007) every day; starting April 27, I’ll be putting up one-two new posts a week. I have other writing projects to which I need to devote myself.

When W.H. Auden was asked by a Michigan graduate student “What can I do to become a better poet?”, he replied (this may be apocryphal) “Stop keeping a journal or writing long letters.” What Auden explained was that we do our best writing from pent-up thoughts and feelings; if we release that tension in diaries, for example, we might miss out on the chance to do some first-rate work. I am no Auden, and I am no poet. But if I want to write something that gets published somewhere other than on my blog, I need to be willing to give a bit more time to that project. This blog will continue, and fresh writing will appear here regularly — but it might just be once per week.

Older Men, Younger Women Book Proposal Research Questions: UPDATED

I noted a few weeks ago that I was interested in hearing from folks with experience in older men/younger women relationships. I mentioned at the time that I wanted to hear from four categories of persons:

1. Women who have been in sexual or romantic relationships with substantially older men, particularly when those relationships began while the women were in their teens or twenties; also, younger women who have had a pattern of attraction to much older men.

2. Men who have been in sexual or romantic relationships with substantially younger women, or who have developed a pattern of attraction to much younger women.

3. Young men who have felt exasperated, hurt, or confused by a female peer’s interest in a much-older man.

4. Women who have felt exasperated, hurt, or confused by a male peer’s interest in a much-younger woman.

Please email me at with your story.

I didn’t include a questionnaire, because for the purpose of the book narrative stories are much more helpful than interview-style answers. But some folks have asked for more guidance, and I want to accomodate them below the fold. Continue reading

Call for stories: on my “older men, younger women” project, and a request for assistance

Please pass this on to folks who might be interested!

I’m working on a book about older men and younger women, building on something I’ve blogged many, many times. Though I’ve heard from many people over the years, I’d like more true-life stories from folks in any of the following four categories.

1. Women who have been in sexual or romantic relationships with substantially older men, particularly when those relationships began while the women were in their teens or twenties; also, younger women who have had a pattern of attraction to much older men.

2. Men who have been in sexual or romantic relationships with substantially younger women, or who have developed a pattern of attraction to much younger women.

3. Young men who have felt exasperated, hurt, or confused by a female peer’s interest in a much-older man.

4. Women who have felt exasperated, hurt, or confused by a male peer’s interest in a much-younger woman.

I’m interested in stories, but also in the feelings that went with these relationships. All correspondence will be presumed to be publishable, though I will change identifying information. I appreciate any help that folks can give; please distribute this request widely. Every email will receive a response.

Please send emails to

Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009

Father Richard John Neuhaus died this morning at the age of 72, following a long battle with complications from cancer.

Neuhaus was the founder, editor, and publisher of First Things, the flagship journal for Catholic neo-conservatism, and the only right-of-center magazine to which I have ever regularly subscribed. Neuhaus, a former Lutheran pastor who converted to Rome and was ordained as a priest, was an extraordinary writer. It was the quality of his prose that drew me to him many years ago, when my friend Steve gave me a copy of the wonderful Death on a Friday Afternoon. Steve was — and is — a strong evangelical conservative with latent Catholic tendencies, and he hoped to bring me “over to the dark side” by playing on my fondness for first-rate writing. “Death on a Friday Afternoon” is a book I have returned to again and again in recent Lents, and though I am too progressive in my politics to have much taste for most atonement theories, Neuhaus’ case for the efficaciousness of Christ’s suffering on the cross is as good as any I’ve read. (And I’ve read a lot on atonement theory, having worked on the subject for a year or two in graduate school.)

Neuhaus was a vigorous defender of the idea that faith was vital to how we participated in the struggle for the common good, a point he made in his earlier and very influential The Naked Public Square. His greatest wrath was reserved for those who tried to excise religious motivations from political discussions. He ridiculed the idea that any serious believer (be he or she Christian or Muslim or Jewish or Hindu or what-have-you) could so compartmentalize his or her life so that politics and faith had no influence upon each other. Our faith, Neuhaus reminded his readers again and again, shapes our world view — and we participate in public life based upon that world view. Respect and tolerance had their place (and Neuhaus proved it by having friends across the ideological and theological spectrum, including, famously, the radical Methodist Stanley Hauerwas), but respect and tolerance did not preclude the obligation to bring one’s own most deeply held convictions into the political sphere. Father Neuhaus was an influence on many important conservative Catholic voices, and was, without question, the priest closest to the upper echelons of the Bush Administration. George W. Bush called him simply “Father Richard”.

Neuhaus, partnering with Chuck Colson of Watergate fame, was a linchpin of the movement known as Evangelicals and Catholics Together. A former Protestant, Neuhaus retained deep and abiding affection and respect for those churches not in communion with Rome. A keen culture warrior, Neuhaus was eager to overcome decades of distrust and hostility between conservative Catholics and right-wing Protestants. Some of his motive was political: American conservatism needed unity rather than division in the struggle against liberalism. Some of his motive was theological: like most serious Christians, the divisions in the body of Christ wounded and saddened him. ECT, as it is known, has been an important project, and has brought in moderates and progressives as well as traditionalists. In recent years, Neuhaus took an interest in Catholic-Mormon dialogue, and published several pieces in First Things sympathetic to the LDS movement. Continue reading

Go to Claudette

I’ve worked a bit with a professional writing coach, Claudette Sutherland. Claudette is presenting a workshop; here’s the info:

One True Sentence…

Sunday May 4


Admission will be $8.00

Electric Lodge Theatre

1416 Electric Avenue

Just at Venice and Abbot Kinney

You will hear and see how writing gets from here to there; from imagination to paper read by a collection of Los Angeles writers from several genres all in the process of growing and shaping their work. Samplings are from personal essay, fiction and memoir moderated by Claudette Sutherland from her classes in Creative Writing.

It is a provocative way to spend a couple of hours in the company of like-minded artists and a good setting for some conversation on creativity.

You can visit Claudette’s web site at and see her student’s work all of which grew out of commitment to class, to practice and the work at hand.

If you live in L.A. and are thinking of taking the leap into writing anything — fiction or non — it’s well-worth your time. Amazing things can indeed happen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged