What I Want My Daughter to Learn from Elsa and Anna

Last month, actress Kristen Bell told an interviewer that she was about to begin recording her role as Anna in Frozen 2, the sequel to Disney’s wildly successful animated movie, Frozen. Upon hearing the news, I wondered how Frozen 2 could possibly meet the standards and expectations set by the original. I also wondered whether Anna would have smaller eyes and a bigger waistline than she did the first … Continued

Culture, Entertainment, Movies

Is Gratitude Selfish?

As parents tasked with civilizing three very young children, my wife and I make a daily effort to instill in them an abiding sense of gratitude. We consider it a virtue critical to fashioning their character, particularly as 21st century middle-class Americans, who are materially more blessed than probably 99% of all humans who have … Continued


The ‘Insidious’ Threat of Benevolent Sexism

Recently on the Fox News show Outnumbered, the always-outspoken KISS bassist Gene Simmons scoffed at a 2012 study posted on Medium.com which warned of “the insidious nature of benevolent sexism” and the hidden dangers of holding a door open for a woman. Dr. Stephen Franzoi and Dr. Debra Oswald, professors of psychology at Marquette University, co-wrote the … Continued


Colbie Caillat’s Fresh, Uplifting Message

Last week, I wrote that pop starlets like Iggy Azalea who sell sex and shock rather than talent and class don’t deserve the fame we give them. It is becoming harder and harder to find stars whose music and messages actually merit attention and popularity. But Colbie Caillat is one woman worth watching, and worth … Continued

Entertainment, Music

Group Hug: In Defense of Affirmation

Perhaps the problem with people today isn’t politics or psychological repression. Perhaps it’s that there’s not enough affirmation. Even writing that sentence, of merely mentioning the term “affirmation,” I can see both sides in the culture wars lining up for battle: the conservatives will start talking about how people need to wipe their own bottoms, … Continued

Books, Culture

Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty

Last week, Dove released a documentary, Selfie, in commemoration of their 10 year anniversary of “The Campaign for Real Beauty.” The brand hopes to challenge the narrow cultural perception of feminine beauty by placing the power of change at the fingertips of young women through social media. Twentieth century philosopher Edith Stein notes that women … Continued

Culture, Fashion

Are Movies Falsely Inflating Children’s Self-Esteem?

Luke Epplin’s recent piece “You Can Do Anything” in The Atlantic accused computer-animated children’s movies like Kung Fu Panda, Ratatouille, Wreck-It Ralph, Monsters University, and the newer Turbo and Planes of “infecting” children with “the belief that their greatness comes from within,” of encouraging youngsters to follow personal dreams to the detriment of society. It … Continued

Entertainment, Movies

The Sinister Nature of Dove’s New Advertising Campaign

The early feminist, Sarah Grimke (1792-1873), wrote in her Letters of the Equality of Sexes and the Condition of Women: He [man] has adorned the creature whom God gave him as a companion, with baubles and gewgaws, turned her attention to personal attractions, offered incense to her vanity, and made her the instrument of his … Continued


Why My Toddler Doesn’t Need an Award from Her Gym Class

A few weeks ago, my sixteen-month-old daughter received a “super star award” upon completion of her Gymkhana toddler gym class. In addition to a pale-pink ribbon, she was awarded a certificate that lauds her “abundance of energy” and her “positive approach to loving and learning through sensory motor experiences.” My daughter is terrific. She worked … Continued

Culture, Parenting