• U.S.


4 minute read
Margaret Carlson

With Pat Buchanan sucking up all the available oxygen on social issues, the President made a grab for two last week–issuing a six-page manual urging public schools to adopt uniforms, and shaming network execs into labeling their programs. As a child in parochial school, I loved the savings in time and fashion anxiety a uniform made possible. The first candidate to issue a similar manual for adults gets my vote. There is a downside: offending not only the A.C.L.U. but also parents who think a $100 Polo sweater makes up for being distracted. Some teachers say it doesn’t matter if Johnny is in a blazer rather than sweats if he still can’t read; schools need other improvements. But just because you can’t do everything is no reason not to do something. Long Beach, California, saw a 36% decrease in school crime and 51% fewer fights a year after uniforms.

The President also tackled tasteless television, getting the networks to agree to a ratings system, despite Ted Turner’s protestation that all would soon be Brady Bunch mush. But better Marsha fretting over going steady than the glut of sex scenes now as common in sitcoms as car chases are in movies. One minute my daughter and I are loading the dishwasher watching Mad About You and then–bang!–on the screen two people are actively engaged in baby making. Even anything-goes libertines I’ve asked cringe at the idea of watching soft-core sex with their children; it’s worse than acknowledging that your own parents have sex. A liberal with kids and cable is a cultural conservative. Now let’s criminalize daytime talk shows.

It wasn’t a good week for women. A study by the highly regarded research organization Catalyst, which surveyed 461 senior female corporate officials, confirmed that no one sleeps her way to the top; you get there by not sleeping. Several said they get up at 4 a.m., and Brenda Edgerton, a vice president at Campbell Soup, said, “You get tired, awfully tired.” Others advised taking up golf, reading the sports pages and getting a personality transplant. Says one: “Don’t be attractive. Don’t be too smart. Don’t be assertive. Pretend you’re not a woman. Don’t be single. Don’t be a mom. Don’t be a divorcee.”

Which brings me to the next bit of discouraging news: this is the first year the Pillsbury Bake-Off prize shot up to $1 million–and a man won it. Women have only themselves to blame for this. Sleep deprived, they accepted help in the kitchen. But male cooking is not the everyday feeding of a household; it’s a cameo, virtuoso performance in which every dish is used to produce an elaborate meal at midnight. Congratulations and a pass on cleaning up are expected–after all, he cooked! Men can prepare $20-per-lb. salmon in a $300 fish poacher, the cuisine equivalent of golf’s Big Bertha, but tuna salad on whole wheat is beyond them. One avocational cook I know lit the grill, put a turkey on it and boasted during the half time of a Dallas Cowboys game that he was fixing Thanksgiving dinner.

On Friday, Buchanan, who would literally keep women pregnant (although not barefoot) in the kitchen, went to the gates of the Citadel and pledged to keep it “Men Only.” He once wrote, “Women are simply not endowed by nature with the same measures of single-minded ambition and the will to succeed.” Someone should send the Catalyst study to his campaign chairman and sister, Bay, mother of three. She must be tired, awfully tired.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com